G. Wells' timeless War Of The Worlds novel onto the PlayStation Network, we sat down with producer Andrew Acerbo to discuss the game, some of the team's influences and what it's like to work with Jean-Luc Picard himself, Sir Patrick Stewart.
What attracted you to the War Of The Worlds property in the first place?
Andrew Acerbo (producer): It was a bit fortuitous, actually. Our head of development at Other Ocean had just finished reading the original novel by H. G. Wells when Paramount contacted us with an opportunity to make a game based on title from their extensive back catalogue of films. So War of the Worlds just seemed like an obvious choice, with both the popular sci fi film history and heft of classic literature behind it.[/strong]
[strong]You're setting the game after the 1953 movie. Was that something you intended to do from the start, or did it come about during development?
AA: Yes, we had always intended to make it a period piece, but the interesting thing is that while Paramount offered us the chance to make a movie based on the War of the Worlds, we werent bound to make it on the same story as the 1953 movie if we didnt want to. Were fans of the George Pal movie, but we wanted to do something a little different, which is why we decided to create a sort of sister story to the '53 movie, which was set in LA, but this time show the invasion as it occurred in London of that time period, a nod to the setting of the original novel.
The game has a very bleak look to it. It reminds us of Limbo. Has that game been an inspiration during development?
AA: Absolutely, were all big fans of Limbo here, and the choice for a darker and more monochromatic palette was indeed inspired by that game. But while Limbo created an atmosphere itself reminiscent of old German Expressionist films, weve tried to stay true to the look and feel of old 16-bit side-scrollers from the Amiga and Genesis days, but if those games had the power of a modern console behind them.
What other games would you say have been an influence? There's a bit of Flashback in there too, right?
AA: Flashback for sure, but also Prince of Persia and Out Of This World [Another World in Europe] have been big inspirations for us. Theres a measure of careful platforming and puzzle solving, mixed with doses of action that we hope is both a tribute to those games, as well as something that stands on its own in the 2D side scrolling genre.
Much of your promotional material for the game has focused on famous London backdrops, such as Paddington Station and the River Thames. As a Canadian developer, what have you done to research these famous locations?
AA: While most of development does occur in our Canadian studio, War of the Worlds was developed out of our of Emeryville, CA studio in fact. But the challenges remained the same, since no one on the team is actually from London. There was a lot of photo research involved from around the time period, including imagery taken just after the German Blitz, during World War II. And the novelist, Christopher Fowler, who wrote our script and who is based in London, was a great source of knowledge about London of that time. That said, there still was a measure of liberty that had to be taken in order to create the environments for our game. Since the game takes place as a retrospective from the point of view of the aged protagonist, you can think of it as a London of the mind, as Arthur our protagonist remembers it.
Sir Patrick Stewart is narrating the game. How did he get involved with the project, and what's it been like working with him?
AA: We had developed a list of great British actors that wed love to use in our game as the narrator, and Patrick Stewart was at the very top of that list. Its really thanks to Paramount that we were actually able to approach him. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him, as hes every bit the consummate professional, and is a fan of the original source material, in fact.
War Of The Worlds won a lot of awards at this year's E3. Has that recognition had an impact on development now expectations have been raised?
AA: Its certainly been great to have the game recognized at E3. Often after getting deep into development on a game, you tend to lose some objectivity on what youre creating, and dont really know how people are going to react to what youre doing, especially if youre making a game like ours, which is a throwback to an older, more deliberately paced game in a genre that isnt as prevalent as it once was. So the exposure has been good, and we hope War of the Worlds lives up to it!
Thanks so much for taking time out in your busy schedule to answer our questions Andrew, and the very best of luck with the game.
War Of The Worlds is set to release on the PlayStation Network later in the year. For more information, screenshots and trailers, visit the game's official website.