Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grand Theft Auto - Remembered

Today, on the way to work, I saw a special collector's edition of a magazine in the newsagents and just had to buy it. It was a retrospective of ten years to celebrate GTA, marking the release of GTA IV. So far, nothing odd about that, except that I haven't played GTA and haven't actually played much of anything in the last ten years. So why did I consider it a must buy?


You see I was, in a minor way, involved in the creation of the original GTA from DMA Design. It was created there in the last few years of my time at DMA, where I worked on stories and manuals and stuff like that. This was late 1996, early 1997 and through a combination of opportunity and circumstance, I was going freelance the next summer.

Meanwhile I was writing the story for Body Harvest and trying to keep both hands on the keyboard instead of one of the keyboard and the other one with a fistful of my recently removed hair. Some of the decisions about the story that were being imposed on me from Nintendo were, frankly, barking as well as contradictory. Long story. So it was a relief to be asked by Gary Penn to write some dialogue for GTA.

My task was the write some "mission briefings" which were to appear on the pagers within the game, something which was quite refreshing, being completely non-science fiction. So in the relative "quiet" of my home, I cranked up the unreliable WordPro and wrote. This went on and off for several months, during which all kinds of pop-culture seemed to make its way into the pager messages, all of it at an entirely subconscious level. Trainspotting was big at the time and I somehow managed to name a character Renton, despite not actually seeing the film for another five years!

I cringe to imagine what Gary thought when he saw that apparent lack of imagination, though I suppose I could have spun it as a currently hip pop-culture reference. None of that mattered, because what actually happened was that I nervously presented the printout of the dialogue so far and Gary read. And read. And read.

"Very entertaining" he concluded, "but they're way too big to fit on a pager."


Development of GTA continued past my time at DMA and as far as I know, none of my dialogue was included; certainly not any of my characters. I've still got the files and have spent some time going over it and wondering at the amount of swearing I included in it.

Still, that's GTA for you. Dangerous to know!


Incidentally, my own games entry is here. The information there is not entirely accurate.

Friday, April 11, 2008

No More Intrepid Blog

Well it looks as though this is going to be my only blog now. I used to have one at the Intrepid site, but the forum feature which allowed it is no longer a paying proposition and Nick isn't going to renew it. All of which makes life a little easier for me, since I never knew which blog I ought to post stuff in, or whether to duplicate content in the two of them or what.

All of the Intrepid bloggers have some time before it's shut down, so I'll probably start moving my stuff to here which gives me lots of material at no effort to me!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Come for the Cave, Stay for the Dead Whale

We were doing some location scouting on Sunday. Part of an upcoming Intrepid story takes place in a cave, and since the caves are supposed to be on a different planet from the last lot of caves we filmed in, they needed to look different. For the episode called Transitions and Lamentations, the cave was really a some rocks which had collapsed together leaving large gaps. It looked the part though and started to flood as the day wore on. We got the shots though. So just in case that wasn't traumatic enough, the caves we went to have a look at this time were Arbroath. Just outside Arbroath in fact. Right next to the sea.

These were caves in which flooding would be an understatement, and as it happened we narrowly avoided being cut off by the rising tide. Not that there was any real danger, since we could have toughed it out halfway up a hill but only once of us had brought any food and I hate cheese...

By that time it had started to pour with rain as well.

A much better overview could be found via the clifftop path, which was vantage point enough to sea some more impressive caves and also a beached and entirely dead whale on the beach below. I managed to get a few photos on maximum zoom, but we weren't able to get closer. The path was purely around the edge of the cliff and the only reasonable route to it involved navigating what looked like the output of a sewer, so we gave up the idea.

As it turns out, the whale had already been reported. As far as I can tell, it was a Minke whale, which is the only common one around Scotland.

Nice though the caves were, we're not convinced they'd be easy to film with. Tides aside, they're difficult to get to and that was just us lot without any gear.

We'll keep on looking.