Friday, 6 May 2011

Driver: San Francisco Previews Abound

With Driver: San Francisco out later this year the first batch of hands on previews has come in. Here's one. Here's another.

I worked on Driver as part of a writing team, and it's great there are now some decent details out to talk about. In particular, I can actually explain what I did. Or, well, I can let Meer do it for me. From RPS:
[Tanner] somehow finds himself able to transfer his consciousness into the body of any other driver in the city. [This] is doubly entertaining when your car of choice has a passenger. One minute they’re being driven around by some boring old fart, next minute their companion apparently turns into a suicidal gobshite with zero respect for health, safety or authority. Like Quantum Leap, your host doesn’t physically change, but Tanner’s gung-ho, wisecracking, mortality-ignoring persona is entirely in charge.

Who knows just how much comedy can be wrung from what’s always going to be essentially the same gag, but Reflections certainly seemed to be experimenting with a vein of humour previously absent, rather than hanging proceedings around gritty grime. One mission (for there are set tasks as well as a glut of optional ones and simply dicking around) sees Tanner brain-steal some rich bugger test-driving a Ford GT, with the salesman offering snake oil from the passenger seat. His patter slows down as the supercar is hurled around the roads at deadly speeds, and prissy screeching about losing his bonus begins. Tanner giggles to himself, a police officer entirely unconcerned about ruining a man’s career or, indeed, causing terrible injuries to civilians and untold property damage. 
That was me - along with some other chaps from Sidelines - churning out weeks' worth of in-car dialogue and character designs, each with their own mini-arch as the player pushes that particular passenger to the edge. As Tanner's coma dream gets deeper and darker the dialogues push into black comedy, and I get to turn out everything from suicidal cult leaders who are worried they're going to pop it before the ritual, to dispirited TV repairmen who decide to go postal.

It was a rush job (shame, given the delays), and after 30 characters (each with 20 triggers, each with 6 variations; you're basically rewriting the same 20 lines hundreds of times over) you start to get a bit stretched. However the tone is a perfect match for me, and it was a fun departure from usual AAA fare. I've not seen enough of the project to comment authoritatively, but I'm quietly hopeful the game, and its writing, will be well received.

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