Interview: War of the Worlds writer Chris Fowler

Platforms: Sony PlayStation 3 | Microsoft Xbox 360

"The War of the Worlds is a dark and breathtaking new vision of the classic H.G. Wells novel, retold as a single player side-scrolling action-adventure, narrated by the acclaimed and distinguished actor, Patrick Stewart. Set in London, the gameplay narrative parallels the timeline and events from the 1953 movie adaptation, but introduces a new story arc, characters, locations, and sub-plots."

Coming October 2011 to XBLA and PSN, The War of the Worlds is developed by Other Ocean Interactive and published by Paramount. It's a title we at The Digital Fix are very excited about and we were lucky enough to talk to Chris Fowler, multi-award winning author and the man tasked with writing the story behind this forthcoming title:

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What’s your experience with games Chris, both personally and professionally?

No previous professional experience in this area, which is why the commission was so great (see next answer). Personally, God – I played everything from Chucky Egg on BBC Wordstar to Doom and beyond. I’ve always loved games and comics as well as literature. The only game that totally defeated me was Goldeneye, which I got stuck on at an embarrassingly early stage.

Who kicked this off – did you go to Other Ocean/Paramount with an idea/treatment or did they find you?

They found me – the beauty of this is that most good novelists can turn their hands to anything provided it interests them. But novelists rarely get to write scripts or work on games. All they had to do was ask! I’m best known as a novelist but this was a great project to work on.

How did you go about creating this game world given it’s based on the classic H. G. Wells story?

The clues were all in the text. The main upgrade was the period change, which made perfect sense to the story – a nation still reeling from German attack is faced with a greater invader. I get the feeling that if Wells had known about the war then, he’d have included references to it.

Was it daunting, or inspirational?
Inspirational, because the book is filled with good ideas that you can realise as gameplay – it already feels like a game on the page.

How much of a part did you play in engaging Patrick Stewart to narrate? How much of a fan are you of his?

It was Paramount’s suggestion, but one which made perfect sense to me – a perfect English voice, a classical actor and someone who has no fear of tackling SF subjects. Although I managed to stop myself from saying ‘Make it so’ in the recording sessions.

Are you able to give us any snippets about the game, or is it more than your job’s worth?

I can tell you it follows a path across London that takes in the Festival of Britain, and our hero encounters some new characters that Wells did not create (but I felt might have), and some kick-ass action involving red weed – and a battleship. Any more and I’d have to kill you.

What’s been your overall experience here – will you be looking for more game-related opportunities?

It rocked. I’d be very happy to do more – but only if the design team were as clear and decisive as mine – they always told me exactly what I could or couldn’t do. And mostly, when I asked if we could do something fresh they said yes.

Many thanks to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions and ensuring we are looking forward to The War of the Worlds that little bit more now! Look out for our interview with Other Ocean, the game's developers, in the near future.

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About Chris Fowler

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‘Christopher Fowler is a great social observer who shows why we need imagination in our lives.’ – BBC Radio Four

Christopher Fowler was born in Greenwich, London. He attended Colfes, the Royal Leathersellers Guild School, and after joined J Walter Thompson as a copywriter.

At the age of 26 he founded The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of film marketing, creating movie posters, trailers and documentaries. A self-confessed movie-obsessive, he handled films like ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘Trainspotting’, ‘Goldeneye’, ‘Moulin Rouge’ and ’28 Weeks Later’ working with directors like Mike Leigh, Martin Campbell and Peter Greenaway, and on countless Hollywood blockbusters. He has written for everyone from Kenneth Williams to Michael Caine, the Spice Girls, Pierce Brosnan, Leslie Nielsen, Julie Walters, John Cleese and Eric Idle. He has written comedy and drama for the BBC, including Radio One’s first live broadcast drama in 2005.

He is the multi award-winning author of over thirty novels and twelve short story collections, and is the author of the lauded Bryant & May mystery novels. His first thriller was the bestseller ‘Roofworld’. Subsequent novels include ‘Spanky’, ‘Disturbia’, ‘Psychoville’ and ‘Calabash’. His books have been optioned by everyone from Guillermon Del Toro (‘Spanky’) to Jude Law (‘Psychoville’).

His graphic novel for DC Comics was the critically acclaimed ‘Menz Insana’. His short story ‘The Master Builder’ became a feature film entitled ‘Through The Eyes Of A Killer’, starring Tippi Hedren and Marg Helgenberger. His filmed short stories include: ‘Left Hand Drive’, ‘On Edge’, ‘Perfect Casting’, ‘The Most Boring Woman In The World’ and ‘Rainy Day Boys’.

In 2010 he wrote and produced the fringe play ‘Celebrity’ at the Phoenix, London. In 2011 he created the ‘War Of The Worlds’ videogame for Paramount, starring Patrick Stewart.

He currently has a weekly column in the Independent on Sunday, is the Crime Reviewer for the Financial Times. He has written for The Times, Telegraph, Guardian, Daily Mail, Time Out, Smoke, Big Issue and many others. Christopher is currently a judge for the CWA Gold Dagger award, and a voting member of the European Film Awards, the British Independent Film Awards and BAFTA. He is on the board of the Edinburgh Film Festival.

In the past year he has been nominated for 9 national book awards. He is the winner of the Edge Hill prize 2008 for ‘Old Devil Moon’, the Last Laugh prize 2009 for ‘The Victoria Vanishes’ and the Green Carnation Award 2010 for ‘Paperboy’.

Christopher has achieved several pathetic schoolboy fantasies, releasing a terrible Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, writing a stage show, posing as the villain in a Batman graphic novel, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror, and standing in for James Bond. After living in France and the USA he is now lives in King’s Cross, London.

His short stories have appeared in Best British Mysteries, The Time Out Book Of London Stories, The New English Book Of Internet Stories, Dark Terrors, London Noir, Neon Lit, Cinema Macabre, Inferno and many others. His award-winning memoir 'Paperboy' was published to critical acclaim.

'Christopher Fowler is an award-winning novelist who would make a good serial killer. He's charming and English and lives in a glass box with a view of St Paul's Cathedral, and you'd think butter wouldn't melt in his mouth until you read his outrageously dark urban fiction. He has written over thirty books, mainly comprising novels and volumes of short stories. His work divides into black comedy, horror, satire, mystery and a set of tales unclassifiable enough to have publishers tearing their hair out.' - Time Out

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