The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
Making of

Who Are the Writers Behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter?

The Astronauts is an eight person team, but it’s not like the game is made by eight people only. We have already revealed that Mikolai Stroinski is the composer, but Marcin Przybylowicz (The Witcher 3, among other things) is the sound wizard. It’s time to reveal the writers.

It’s Tom Bissell and Rob Auten.

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Tom Bissell is the author of many books, including Extra Lives and (with Greg Sestero) The Disaster Artist. He has also written for several video game franchises, including Gears of War and a couple of forthcoming AAA titles.

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Rob Auten has also contributed to multiple video game franchises, including Gears of War and Far Cry. Previously, he supervised game production for Twentieth Century Fox.

I worked with Tom and Rob on Gears of War: Judgment, but it’s not like I never heard about them before. I particularly loved Tom’s review of games at Grantland, which to this day I consider some of the best writing on games in the history of the writing on games.

Both men not only can write, but they also know what it means to write for games. You have no idea how important that is. It’s not just the question of things like brevity, but even the “simple” stuff like understanding a video game structure or being able to put hopes and dreams of a character into an XLS.

To me, the best moment during our Ethan Carter adventure happened a mere month ago. A few months into the project I finally got an idea of how the story ends, and what’s its heart and soul. But then somehow during the rest of the development the story grew bigger, more complex, with too many layers and too much explanation. And in order to make these layers coherent and logical the story grew even bigger, up to the point when just explaining the premise was a two-pager.

At the end of this process, I proposed three versions of the story to Tom and Rob, asking them which one they think is the right one for our game. I got a quick reply which was more or less “Why not just use the original idea?”

I looked back at the original idea, and yes, it was much better than the convoluted crap I produced in the last twelve months.

I rewrote some of the stuff and asked Tom and Rob to do with it as they please: update, change, add, remove, etc. They got back to me with “We’ve done the dialogues, but we’ve changed one of the core themes into what we believe works better for the story we’re telling here.”

I took a look at the document and it’s like a stairway to heaven materialized in front of me.

So not only they helped with the Gordian knot of a story, they also elevated the story to a level I would have never been able to reach on my own.

You’ve seen examples of Tom and Rob’s writing in the Paul Prospero’s narration in the Gamescom trailer or the gameplay video. People who played a bit of the game mention “great writing”.

More info soon.

P.S. We’re about to hit 200K views on the gameplay video – thank you all! And special big thanks to those who pre-ordered the game, we hope you’ll love the extras we’re working on.

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