Cats. Bags. Nanosuits.

So, uh, yeah.  I see they announced it this morning, so I guess the embargo’s lifted.  I’ve written the official adaptation of Crytek‘s Crysis 2, which was scripted by Richard Morgan.  The novelization is coming out next March from Del Rey.

The bio notes accompanying that announcement are a bit, well, milder than I would have written.  (In fact, they’re milder than what I did write; my editor, Mike Braff, told me that the version I submitted would never make it past something called “corporate”, so he toned them down).  Here in the more intimate environs of the crawl, though, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to share my original notes:

Biologist, author, and convicted felon, Peter Watts (author of Blindsight and the Rifters trilogy)  appears to be especially popular with people who have never met him. At least, pretty much every award his work has received comes from overseas (with the exception of a recent Hugo, which likely won on a sympathy vote in the wake of recent encounters with the Department of Homeland Security).  His science fiction, oddly enough, has been used as a core text in science and philosophy courses as well as the usual gamut of sf electives;  he only wishes his actual science had been taken half as seriously, back in the day.  Both he and his cat have appeared in the prestigious journal Nature.

Also I see they refer to me as a Hugo nominee, which suggests that — as that little voice in the back of my head has long been saying — the events of last summer were nothing but a glorious, ego-boosting dream.  Ah well.

A bit of a challenge, this gig:  the time pressure, the constraints of a universe built by others, the translation of one medium into another.  Fortunately,  every FPS has a vested interest in keeping its protagonist utterly transparent as a character, the better for players to project themselves into the action; and that, shiggies and codders, is the access point that allows a novelization to complement its source material as opposed to merely rehashing it.  Take the “official” thumbnail of the novel’s plot, for example, which pretty much had to have been based on the game since the number of folks who’ve actually read my manuscript so far can be counted on the fingers of one hand (assuming that the owner of that hand is mildly polydactyl):

Armored alien invaders stalk the streets of New York, while a nightmare plague strikes down its human population with brutal speed. The city is in chaos, its streets and skyline in smashed and flaming ruin. Nothing can stand against the invaders, leaving New Yorkers with a stark choice – flee or die. Just to survive in this inferno will require technology and armor beyond anything any modern soldier has ever seen. One man will inherit that means to survive. His mission: shake off death, carry the fight to the aliens and drive them back.

Pretty straightforward FPS scenario, right?  Here, on the other hand, is the summary text I sent off to Del Rey the other day:

[Redacted for Reasons That Remain Unclear]

You can see the difference.  (Well, not any more you can’t.)  I have no idea if Del Rey is going to use that text or not (update:  apparently they are), but it’s certainly more reflective of the written work.  Whether the gamers like it, well, time will tell.

Looks like I’m in Frankfurt next week.  I’ll keep you apprised.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday December 01 2010at 12:12 pm , filed under Crytek/Crysis, writing news . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

39 Responses to “Cats. Bags. Nanosuits.”

  1. Fantastic, bud! I can’t wait to read it. Congrats…with the Watts twist on things, I’m expecting it to be an interesting ride.

  2. Hey, and your version isn’t as gendered. I could take “blahblahblah, son” as an idiom and the rest could be talking to any slushie in a suite.

  3. Oh, and if they don’t use something closer to or exactly your blurb, meh. I’d rather play the game of your blurb than that other one.

    Have fun in Frankfort! Say hi to your fans over there.

  4. Hmm. Who could write something really grim and scary? Hmm, who has recent/current inspiration in the grim/scary direction?

    Peter Watts, both times!

    Looking forward to reading this one.

  5. Hey, that looks like fun to write and fun for us to consume. nom nom nom nom

    I’ll be really interested to see how the Watts style flourishes and themes mesh with the first-person-shooter style, because they are not in the same headspace in some ways.

    Unlike the commenter on the Crysis 2 website where this was announced, I am sincerely hoping this is not a graphic novel. *shudder* I want the words to paint the pictures!

  6. Congrats! Does this mean we can officially blame you for any delays/technical issues with the game?

    Despite having never read them, I’ve gathered that the Halo novels managed to take a fairly basic game and introduce some real depth. I have no doubt you’ve done that, but I am curious to see what the trademark Peter Watts optimism does to a straight adaptation.

  7. _This_ is why there hasn’t been a sequel/sidequel to Blindsight?

    Well. I say shame on this.

  8. I LOVE graphic novels and illustrated books. I’d LOVE to have a special edition Blindsight with occasional illustrations of scenes from the book. love love love. I am jealous of Peter who gets to see the artwork for these things. The words have amazing descriptions, and if any artist can beat what is in my head about how some of these things look I will be amazed. I love being amazed.

    re FPS

    I think Rifters would be a good game universe. I don’t know if for an FPS, but definitely like the old school rpg games I play. Think of it, you can make character classes based on some of the aspects of people in the book, their occupations, abilities, disabilities. Some of the things they do can be mission based, and also you could throw in some fun combats too. Like, if you want to have some monsters, have nasties in whatever environment go after people. either biologicals, or crazy ai driven vehicles, etc. not to mention great NPCs. I guess this works as an FPS but I haven’t played them much, so I don’t know if you’d get to have other party members, which may be less fun. Oh hey, this could be even better as a great pencil & paper game. and who needs a gaming system, could probably just hack together some rules from something else. I’ve had friends do that before back when I gamed.

    Hey Peter, do you ever run pencil & paper games? That would be fun. Have a game tourney at a con over a weekend. But I guess probably in some world you haven’t already visited so much else it is probably all old for you.

  9. Peter Watts AND Richard Morgan kinda united?

    whoa .. I’m happy in my special happy place, I think. Don’t care much for computer games, but I’ll definitely get this book (well, I get all your books, but anyway ..)

  10. Oh god, I wasn’t even planning on buying Crysis 2, I mean I haven’t even played the first game, now I have to go out and get the novelisation? Damn you Mr. Watts, damn you and you evil machinations…

  11. Nice Peter, more and more authors I like are playing around in game-universes. But now I will have to make the plunge and start reading them.

    I cannot wait to see what you managed to do within the framework, your blurb sounds yummie

  12. Congratulations on taking some of that sweet gaming money. Also kudos on making the whole “convicted felon” work for you. It never hurts rappers so why should it worry writers??

  13. Getting paid is good, even if they re-write you to the point where it’s barely recognizable and doesn’t read like you at all. For example Annette Curtis Klause’s young-adult novel Blood and Chocolate was exceptionally inventive, and in terms of plot and characterization, nearly a perfect work. The film adaptation stank rather badly, unless you mostly wanted to see a cinema travelogue of Bucharest. Ms Klause remarked, when asked if she’d sell and/or write adaptations to Hollywood every again, something to the effect of “I sure would, they do pay rather well”.

    But down to matters of style and why your blurb didn’t make it to the starting gate: Editors. They tend to hate people who end a topic with ellipses… unless that editor is Harlan Ellison or someone of that experimentalist bent.

    I happen to far prefer your version, which in my humble opinion has far more and better narrative hook… not to mention your own flare of style.

  14. Well, this’ll be a game-based ancillary work I’ll actually be interested in. But how about your next Wattsiverse novel? When can we expect that?

  15. Sounds kind of cool the way it’s been Wattified.

    Though I’m slightly skeptical not of Peter but the whole ‘it’s a game first!’ thing. The Halo novels aren’t bad they are decidedly pulpy compared to Watts or Morgan books.

    My buning question is; how did you land this gig and not Richard Morgan? He too busy with script? A cooperative work betweem you two is sort of nerdgasm though.

  16. Michael Bird said:

    _This_ is why there hasn’t been a sequel/sidequel to Blindsight?

    Actually, the reason there hasn’t been a sidequel to Blindsight is because the editor for that book made an offer for “State of Grace” that was downright insulting, then spent a year or more sabotaging someone else’s efforts to buy the damn thing — after stating in writing that I was free to shop the manuscript elsewhere. If not for for that, “State of Grace” would already be in bookstores by now.

    It is, however, still in the works. I’ll be handing it in early next year.

  17. I’m not a gamer (well, I’ve played games, and liked oldschool game music remixes, but that’s different) and I don’t read tie-in novels, but I’ll read this. Hell, I’ll buy it, for money, in a store.

    Ok, this isn’t game writing, this is novel writing. But I find myself thinking about how games don’t live up to the potential I’m just starting to realize they have, mostly. Because well . . . http://cerebral-ecstasy.blogspot.com/2010/11/potential-of-games.html which points to -> http://emshort.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/bissell-braid-and-the-use-of-words/
    by Emily Short.

    Excerpt:
    “Throughout the movement, there’s a lot of writing by people who want to express something deep, but who are experienced game designers, not experienced writers.

    In saying this, I do not simply mean to reiterate the familiar complaint that game designers should develop more respect for writing as a craft.

    I mean something narrower. This ghastly indie-art-game prose: it’s writing that tries to communicate ideas in the same way that game mechanics communicate ideas. Such writing offers allusions and suggestions, hints for the player to assemble, but it shies away from specifics or a through-line plot. ”

    Now I find myself wishing you’d write a piece of interactive fiction (aka a text adventure). They aren’t what they used to be, and they are living up, mostly I think because the best of them are written by actual writers. I would love to play a game scripted by you, although I imagine the player would die often. Often. Perhaps you might enjoy:

    Spider and Web
    http://eblong.com/zarf/if.html#tangle

    Alabaster
    http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=b2g8je1xxtqzei4u

    Violet
    http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=4glrrfh7wrp9zz7b

    Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home
    http://eblong.com/zarf/if.html#heliopause

  18. gah, I made a comment, I think it got kept for moderation because there were a lot of links. Will check back.

  19. Man, that’s too bad. I loved Blindsight and would love to see the sidequel!

  20. Hm. Not a fan of Morgan, gotta say, but this looks like it might be a nice bit of fun.

    Also, don’t sell yourself short on the Hugo. Your border kerfuffle might have brought some increased attention to your work (file under linings, silver), but “The Island” really was the best of the category. Stross’ “Overtime” was your nearest competition, and it was really good (Everybody go read here if you haven’t: http://www.tor.com/stories/2009/12/overtime), but it’s relatively light on content and doesn’t go anywhere Stross hasn’t gone before. You won that puppy fair and square.

    @Sheila: If Rifters were an RPG, than Lenie would be the most min/maxed NPC ever (“Okay, “Amphibious” and “Deep Water” package costs 5 skill points, but I get two from “Crushing Neuroses” and another two from “Traumatic Childhood (Induced/Illusory)…”)

  21. Ha! A Crysis book. I knew it. Congrats Peter, I don’t usually read game tie-ins, but I’m definitely going to buy and read this.
    Also, I agree with Flanders. “The Island” was the best of the bunch. The Hugo was well deserved in every way.

  22. @Flanders: Yeah, you wouldn’t want to encourage players to think they can play characters from the novel. I think you’d have to bop them over the head and say that the game is not the novel and the setting is not a word for word copy for an inspiration.

    @Val:
    I tend to be snobby about media tie-in novels and avoid them but have been getting tempted to read some (I really enjoyed Tobias Buckwell’s novels and I saw he did a Halo one). I am tempted to read this one. I enjoy Peter’s prose and craft, so even if he didn’t design the world it would probably be a good read.

    Oh man, I was hoping he wrote some actual text and story flow in the game. That would get me wanted to actually play the game even though I suck at FPS and also don’t have a good platform for gaming.

    Do you know of Spiderweb software games? One of the game engines that Jeff Vogel has allows gamers to design their own plots and npc dialogs. I’ve played a few of them, but they needed work on the writing.

  23. Peter says: I see they refer to me as a Hugo nominee, which suggests that — as that little voice in the back of my head has long been saying — the events of last summer were nothing but a glorious, ego-boosting dream. Ah well.

    Then I advise PW keep dreaming it.

    1. In photos from the con, Peter holding that award looks as purely happy as you ever see anyone (outside of small children on Christmas morning) . I feel vicariously happy just thinking about it, and it really has nothing to do with me. So Peter dreaming the great Brahma dream universe in which he wins a Hugo makes for a high-average-per-capita-happiness universe. That has to be good.

    2. I am under the same delusion. I think I read The Island and knew it was a winner, and then it won. This is problematic. If it was just a dream, then I, and everyone else reading this, is in your dream, Peter. In your dream, you won, and so we, as objects in your dream, believe it also. By extension, if you wake from your dream… I and all of us reading this will disappear as your eyes open.

    I’d like to request that you keep the dream going a few more minutes.

  24. What is this? I wander off for a few months and all hell breaks loose…no jail time, won awards, escape from the bed buggery and now paying gigs! Obviously, I should do this more often. I am willing to do so on an annual basis for appropriate loot.

    Congrats Peter!

  25. I just taught Blindsight in my SF elective course. And there was me thinking I was getting ahead of the curve …

  26. …shake off death…

    A hard man indeed. I usually need at least a couple of days’ worth of bed rest and maybe a trip to the doctor.

  27. [...] as come vivas”. Não conheço essa franquia, mas como fã do sujeito, adoraria ler a obra. Fonte: Rifters.com e MyCrysis.com This entry was posted in Filmes, Games, Livros. Bookmark the permalink. ← [...]

  28. Care to auction off a few signed copies to your faithful squddites?

    The money can go to your favorite charity, or to build that underground bunker for when our cephalopod overlords finally take over. Your choice.

    That State Of Grace story is maddening, but I’m pleased to hear that you’ll have it ready by early next year. Just our of curiosity, how long does it take for the average book to hit the shelves, once you drop off the finished manuscript to the publisher?

  29. Peter says: I see they refer to me as a Hugo nominee, which suggests that — as that little voice in the back of my head has long been saying — the events of last summer were nothing but a glorious, ego-boosting dream. Ah well.

    I was there, I saw it, and later I saw you and Charlie Stross crossing the bridge over the Yarra to the hotel for the afterparty carrying those shiny rocketships – you *did* win it.

  30. @grs1961: I hate to point this out, but of course you’d think that, because you’re part of Peter’s dream.

    You specifically didn’t exist until Peter read the comments and created you to support the narrative. In fact, you might not actually exist at all, because the only portion of you that must exist from the point of view of the narrative is your postings.

    The same must be said of me.

  31. Sweet! I’m looking forward to this. I assume that this fiblet is an extract from the novel: http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1525

  32. So are the different amazon listings of Crysis Book 1 and Crysis: Legion, both as by you but from different publishers and with different page counts, just different publications of the same book for different markets?

  33. Peter wrote:
    Biologist, author, and convicted felon, Peter Watts (author of Blindsight and the Rifters trilogy) appears to be especially popular with people who have never met him. At least, pretty much every award his work has received comes from overseas (with the exception of a recent Hugo, which likely won on a sympathy vote in the wake of recent encounters with the Department of Homeland Security). His science fiction, oddly enough, has been used as a core text in science and philosophy courses as well as the usual gamut of sf electives; he only wishes his actual science had been taken half as seriously, back in the day. Both he and his cat have appeared in the prestigious journal Nature

    and later, Peter also wrote:

    Also I see they refer to me as a Hugo nominee, which suggests that — as that little voice in the back of my head has long been saying — the events of last summer were nothing but a glorious, ego-boosting dream. Ah well

    Peter, I believe that here your delicious verbosity has managed to confuse some poor editorial soul, and said soul failed to comprehend that you do have a Hugo.

    Next time, have mercy and be more straightforward with that kind of people.
    Something along the lines of “Am Peter Watts. | Have Hugo. | Is good” would require them far less effort to process and would prevent them from misinterpreting the situation.

    Also, check email :)

  34. Postscript:

    This will be the first game novelization that I intend to buy.

  35. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
    For serious I’ve been biting at the bit for another novel from you. I hope Del Rey appreciates it, lol:)

  36. Preordered :)

  37. Congrats on the gig, Peter!

    I can’t believe you’ve actually given me a reason to read a video game tie in novel.

  38. Hrm, I hope the writing/story is better in the second game. The first had… issues. Though since you’ve written the adaptation, that does seem to increase the hope. Maybe. =P

    Also, the Half-life series might be a counter example to a transparent FPS characters. I actually prefer being immersed in a story, than just the action, but I may be of the minority.

  39. Will there be a pop-up version?