My Secret Project Revealed

Christopher Fowler
For several months this year I worked on a secret project I couldn't talk about, but the project has just been unveiled in the US, and I can now tell you a bit about it. I was approached by Paramount to write 'War Of The Worlds' for them as a videogame for the XBox 360 and Playstation 3. The idea was to ignore the recent film and go back to the original novel for its structure, melding it with the styling of the 1953 George Pal film. I was initially put off by several writer friends, who warned me away by narrating their horror stories about working on games. There was also the small matter that, although I love playing them, I could not begin to imagine how actually writing a game would work. However, Paramount's husband-and-wife team Susan and Lee Cummings assured me they would provide me with guidelines that would give me a free hand in the story. The idea was to capture the voice and tone of H G Wells, and be true to its spirit. My first thought: Wow, tall order. But they were as good as their word. The developers explained what is perhaps the key secret of videogaming - there's less choice than you'd think, because the structure is largely predetermined. Having got to grips with the things you could and couldn't do, we chose London sites in 1953 that we could use. I was keen to set the period just before the Royal wedding, and to use the Festival of Britain, so we drew up locations and created a set of characters who we felt H G Wells would have written in for the period. The main thing, though, was to stay true to the heart of the novel, recreating all of the major scenes and moral discussions. I was delighted that Sir Patrick Stewart was cast as our main character, and that a full orchestral score was written to add atmosphere. Supported with such an incredibly helpful and understanding team, this quickly stopped being a job of work and became a genuinely creative collaboration. We recorded the final narration with Patrick over two nights in London, and the game was announced at E3 to terrific reviews. It was a pleasure from start to finish, and I'm really looking forward to playing the game, which plays out like the first filmed version of Wells' vision.


Patrick Marcel (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 08:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Sounds intriguing. I hope there's a Mac version coming out.

Mike Cane (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 10:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Congratulations, Chris! You do know that the videogame industry makes more money every year than the movie industry, right? Here's hoping this leads to something so you don't have to worry so much over the book writing!

I don't play games -- I'm just a spaz at them -- so, no, no B&M videogames, please. Ha! I still need the words.

BangBang!! (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 11:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Fantastic - can't wait! Can you play as the Martians too?

arthurprefect (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 12:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Brilliant! Congratulations, Chris! The game sounds deliciously creepy, and I hope there's a Mac version as well.

RICK D (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 15:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well done! Can Bryant & May Meet the Martians be far behind? :)

I am the last person in the universe to have never played a video game (does PONG count?) but now I may have to. Damn you...

Brilliant choice to go for the retro-setting. I am certain HG would have approved. Stewart is a wonderful choice as well; though I can't listen to his sonorous voice anymore without hearing him conclude with "...and then all their clothes fall off!" a la his whacky send-up of his stoic persona on Ricky Gervais' EXTRAS. Here's hoping your Martians keep the knickers on!

Vickie Farrar (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 16:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Is there anything you cannot do? Kudos on branching out and expanding yet again your ability to stay viable in this rapidly-changing (electronic) world. Alas, like Mike Cane, the last video game I played was Ms. Pacman, so I don't believe I will ever get to see what sounds like an intriguing and delightfully-detailed game version of H.G. Wells' entire-world creepout.

mikenicholson (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 19:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Never mind 'Pong' and "Pacman' - the closest I have gotten so far is Tetris.
Kudos for the Sir Patrick Stewart casting.
I just had a strange flash of a parallel universe casting of PS and his occasional thesp chum Sir Ian McKellen as May and Bryant respectively. . . Hmmm.

Daniel (not verified) Sat, 18/06/2011 - 20:01

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Congratulations, Chris! I'm looking forward to this already. I've just done some Googling and the game sounds like great fun, if the quoted sources for gameplay inspiration are correct. <em>Flashback</em> and <em>Another World</em> were amongst my favourite games growing up and thanks to my emulator I've recently learned they're just as much fun now, though a hell of a lot harder than I remember. I've missed the story driven, 2D action platformer in recent years, so I'll be downloading this game just as soon as it hits Playstation Network.

Steve (not verified) Mon, 20/06/2011 - 00:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The last video game I played was something to do with Dracula in the early 90's. This may change that. Congratulations Chris; I'm sure..quite sure...this will lead to where no one has gone before. Sorry, just had to say that.

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 21/06/2011 - 16:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

What a fascinating project it must have been. When a person is described as a writer an image of electronic games is not the first thing to pop into ones head. Congratulations on a whole new field and to start off with Orson Wells is marvelous.