29 June, 2017

Let the Games Begin, or the filming for it anyway

Zz-been a while since my last post, but man... things have been moving fast, and it's all very exciting.

Filming for the game starts tomorrow. It's been a really great few weeks. It's all 100% happening now, and it's even been decided that some future projects will be my babies. It's still sinking in, to be honest.

Writing this thing has been a very interesting experience, too.  Doing things to deadlines, where I can't sit back and go over an awkward scene months later after writing past it (which always clarifies things); writing something that I don't get to influence the plot of, meaning I can't just alter the story to what comes naturally to me or what I think suits best; not being God, as in not being able to change the weather and working within a special effects budget--all completely new experiences.

Working on a film set will be totally new as well.  Our actors are both professionals, and you wouldn't believe who our sound guy is, so there will be people who know the business to help things run smoothly.

I'll write more about that tomorrow or on the weekend once it's actually happened. 

As for working in games in general, it feels kind of neat to have an office in town, too. It's not like other companies I've worked at. Everybody is casual, there with the mentality that we're all making something together; something cool. It's all enthusiasm and camaraderie, and I can come and go as I please, sitting and writing on my laptop if I feel it helps me focus to be around people, which sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. I like to pace back and forth and rant to myself like a mad man when I'm plotting, and I tend to whisper or mutter dialogue as I write it, but on off days, it's hard to sit there staring at the screen or perusing the internet when just next door I can hear five other people hard at work. I can sit in my own room there and it, too, has a lot of game-industry-esque character. Basically, it's the first time I've written on a neon green bean bag. 

I look forward to more wacky adventures ahead.

This post's pointless picture for Pinterest brought to you by writing for games, and coming a long way.
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11 June, 2017

Sending off My First Script.

So I got the script off Friday afternoon. All professional format and everything, which actually looks pretty cool. The goal is to get people to invest in the game, so it was 4 minutes of video followed by BLAM! Hook!

That was designed to make people want to play what was to follow, which is a very quick double down on the previous hook, the message being, "We need your money!"

I think we'll probably cut the 4 minutes down a bit, or stick some of it elsewhere, but it's much better to film over than under. Actually what I've written will probably take more like 5 or 6 minutes, but there's 4 minutes in there that I think we definitely need. I did this because I have very little concept of how long things take on screen, but every screen writer does this too. It's just a safety net and it's much, much easier to edit out than to add in. Adding things very often (like almost always) loosens your plot. If you write a tight plot with some potential for clipping, you're just going to make it tighter, unless you go so far as to make it disjointed, but thankfully I have enough creative control to ensure that doesn't happen.

It's all been a learning curve and very, very fun.

Did I say we were starting filming on Monday?  I don't feel like going back to check. Either way, it's not true anymore. The deadline will be soon, but we have a bit of time, which is good. It means I and the CEO can bounce ideas off each other and perfect the script, especially in terms of overall narrative, before everything starts getting set in stone.  Again, there's a budget.  In a book I just select, delete, and rewrite. Here we'd have to hire the actors again, pay for the set again, rent the equipment again... Blarg.  Totally different world, this, but I'm loving it.

In point of fact, I just, as I was typing this, checked my email and I have a reply from him with some minor script notes, so I'll check them out in the morning. I suspect it'll be another interesting week.

This pointless picture for Pinterest brought to you by my love of cats, because I can't think of anything more clever.

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09 June, 2017

Fun with Scripts: a Reality Check for Me

Writing to within budgetary constraints is an absolute mind f... fudge. I never understood dealing with these things. It's completely alien to narrative writing.


"To make a great film you need three things: the script, the script and the script." Alfred Hitchcock

"I wanted to make a film but I had no money. Then I had an idea: my neighbour has a car, my friend has a dog, and I have a kitchen table. I'm going to write something that involves those. I'm going to write something involving everything I have." Robert Rodriguez

So no pressure, then...

I have exactly two characters in the beginning. That means it's almost impossible to show multiple sides to a character's personality within such a short space of narrative. People often only show one part of themselves to each person, unless they're very close. These two characters are close, but come on... I've only got around four scenes to do all this stuff! You still have to make sure readers get a good, solid impression of a personality, and it's very easy to make people seem wishy-washy. This isn't an impossible feat, but it means a lot of very careful, painstaking work. All good fun.

I have no costumes, so many of the scary moments I've come up with are completely out the window.

I can do nothing of the absurd. You know in The Shining, the elevator full of blood? Know how much that freakin' cost?

I can't even change the weather, or turn day to night. It's like my godly powers have been stripped from me.

I have almost no props, or set design, or anything I can just do in a paragraph of prose! I'm sure I'll learn a lot from this experience, and already it's a hell of a curve.

I just hope I have some damn good actors. I was joking about the coffee thing, but we'll see...

This pointless picture for pinterest brought to you by life's frustrations.
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07 June, 2017

First Steps into the Games Industry

I have some extremely awesome news.  At long last, I've gotten a foot into the door of a thriving, relatively new art form, and an industry that's constantly growing and trying new things.

I've been hired by a video game developer in my home town of Leamington Spa to write the script for a horror game. I've always wanted to work in games, and already I've learned a lot, just about how these projects are set up and how they get started.

In the space of a few days, my position jumped around so many times, the only way I could keep a cool head about it all was pretty much just to pretend the worst (which was still awesome) had happened and just move on. Allow me to walk you through my thought process.

First, I was going to be the lead writer, but a writer of many a published Doctor Who book was probably on board. (Hopefully he still is.)

Questions ran through my mind: Will I be his manuscript bee-atch? Maybe, and I'll learn a lot from him. Will we be equals? Awesome. Will I have free reign to make the game my own? Who knows?

Either way, the pieces were falling into place.

A few days later I learned some awesome news and some palatable news.

In awesome news, the Doctor Who writer I'm still possibly going to work with is Justin Richards, the creative director of the entirety of the Doctor Who novel series. Colour me impressed! I'd love to work with that guy, and I'm sure I could learn a lot from him.

The palatable news was he'd almost definitely get whatever creative control he wanted, even to the point of saying, "I ain't workin' with no punk-ass Canadian!" [inflection purely creative license]. If he's a nice bloke, I thought, I'll probably have the opportunity to work with an amazing writer, which is a great learning experience and, frankly, some serious publicity. Touble is, I don't know him, so when I got the news, I immediately set out preparing for the worst while hoping for the best. The absolute worst case scenario was I'd have a fair amount of influence on the concept and I'd get to write the trailer and opening scenes. Two weeks ago I didn't have a clue how I'd break into the industry, so even the worst case scenario was fantastic.

Then more awesome news came along.  At the end of last week I learned that I was 100% definitely on board in a major role writing this script. I realised, then, just how much I want to work with Justin. I'd much rather make this a joint project than do it myself, but knowing that I'm definitely involved is just great.

In palatable news, filming starts on the 12th of June.

The game's concept involves a lot of live actors, and that means the writing must be pitch perfect. Certain other attempts at making live actors and games mesh have been disastrous. Uttering the names of these games will, so I'm told, doom the speaker to eternal damnation, but you know the ones I mean. It'll work with this concept, but people might still see the real-life faces with an initial reaction of shock, which means disconnection with the narrative has to be immediately remedied with perfect dialogue. Next Monday is a tall order.

I'm even going to help direct, so I can let out all the tension I'll build up over this week by throwing coffee at actors and stuff. Kubrick is my hero.

I do hope Justin gets in touch, as it would be an absolute pleasure to work with an experienced writer like him.  I'm sure I'd learn a great deal, and it would be a tremendous opportunity and experience.  Either way though, this rocks.

I'll never give up on writing books, but this is very exciting. I've always wanted to branch into games.

I have news about books too, but nothing I can truly articulate, hence the long silence.

Expect many posts in the near future.  I've decided to basically keep the blog updated with events as they happen, as this is totally new, and everything I learn along the way, I'll of course share.

This pointless picture for Pinterest brought to you by all that is awesome in the universe.