My Secret Project Revealed
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.