Complications Ensue: The Crafty Game, TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


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Monday, April 27, 2015

So Austin Miller of The Art of Writing asked me a bunch of questions about Compulsion Games and We Happy Few...
Q. From the little I've been able to see (the masks, the irony, the drugs etc.) Happy Few seems to have a more "critical" voice to it, as if it has something to say about society and the way we live. Do you care to indulge us as to what that might be?

A. Sure! We Happy Few is inspired by, among other things, Facebook culture -- the idea that if you're sad you should take a pill and be happy. No one shares their bad news because it would bring everyone down. As a culture, we reject sadness.

But hey, the narrative is much more than its theme. As Sam Goldwyn used to say a long time ago, “If you want to send a message, there’s always Hotmail.” We have other themes in there, like “what is truth?” and how people remember things that never happened, and how the heroic choices sometimes look like the cowardly ones, and how people can talk themselves into anything, and other subtexts and allusions and other good stuff in there, and we’re putting more in there every day, consciously and unconsciously...
More at

To clarify, I don't meant to say that you shouldn't take a pill if you're depressed. You should. I do. I'm saying we shouldn't consider it a character failing if someone is legitimately sad about something that happened. We shouldn't feel vaguely creeped out if someone is mourning. 


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Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'm rewriting a script of mine for a producer. I always felt the script was a little soft -- too much travelogue, not enough story. As usually happens with some time away, the script's weaknesses are so much more in evidence. Time away is almost as good at giving you perspective as a great writing partner.

So, it's back to index cards. Just because you've written the whole script doesn't mean index cards can't help. It's hard to restructure a script with script pages. Even if you have that much floor space, you can't physically see the whole thing. So I generate index cards and start marking them up and moving them around...


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Monday, April 13, 2015

On Contrast, we had the pleasure of working with the immensely talented, and tiny, Teale Bishopric. She brought our heroine Didi to life with her voice. She was such a pleasure to direct.

And now she's up for an ACTRA Award for Outstanding Perforance in a Video Game, alongside a whole bunch of industry veterans in AAA games!

At videogame dev conferences, I keep hearing how the voice acting process works in many AAA games. The actor isn't allowed to see the script until he's in the booth. Partly that is because of fanatic secrecy, partly because the writers wrote the script the night before.

This makes it very hard for an actor to do their best.

Guillaume, our studio head, and I, knew that a great performance from Didi would make the game, and a weak one would break it. So we rehearsed with her twice. I'm sure her father, Thor, who is a fine actor himself, rehearsed her a few times as well.

We also rehearsed all the other actors. We even got both Vanessa Mitsui and Elias Toufexis in the booth for the Kat/Johnny scenes, because we wanted the arguments to feel like real arguments. Sure, a good director can act the lines with the actor in the booth, and if I'm there in the moment acting with the actor, then I can tell if the performance is where I want it to be. But having both in the booth is more fun, and frees me to listen, and I think the performances show the results.

Yes, it takes time. And money. But actors love to rehearse, and if you give them the chance to rehearse, they will do whatever they can to make one happen. Rehearsing will save you time in the studio, which is far more expensive than rehearsal time, and you will get a much more human and compelling performance.

By the way, I don't really like to feed the recorded performance of one actor to the other, as sound engineers will offer to do, because I don't know how much time they're going to need, and the recorded performance will either cut them off, or give them a longeur to overcome. But I'm the writer, so I know what I want the lines to sound like, and I did some training as an actor, so I can modulate my own performance. If I want the other actor to get angry, instead of asking for an angrier reaction, I'll be more provocative. If I want the other actor to slow down, I'll slow down. Usually the writers are not the directors. And there's your excuse to take acting training.

Anyway, we're all so thrilled for Teale, and we hope she wins a shiny statue!


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