Today two of the most famous nerds, Gabe Newell and JJ Abrams, took to the stage at DICE 2013 to discuss “Storytelling Across Platforms”. This included various arguments about their mediums and the respective storytelling techniques but there was something that has peaked my interest. JJ Abrams said “There’s an idea we have for a game that we’d like to work with Valve on,” and Newell replied “We’re going to find out if there’s a way we can work with you on a Portal and Half-Life movie.” Could this be simply teasing fans? Could a Valve game written by Abrams become a reality? Could a Bad Robot film (JJ Abrams’ film company) convert one of Valve’s beloved games into a block buster movie? I will attempt to conjure up nerd dreams of collaborations between the two.
The two Portal games have become brilliant additions to any gamer’s collection. The first game, while short, boggled my mind for large sections and had me retracing my steps to figure out how I managed to get that cube to that space! The second had more of a story driven experience than the first, allowing the player to explore the background of Aperture and GLaDOS. However, the games do not cater to a film audience very well. There is no other speech except for that of the psychotic computer GLaDOS and Wheatley, Stephen Merchant’s brilliant artificial intelligence. Both he and GLaDOS would be easy to recreate in a film. Now, while these are perfect personalities to introduce to the movie-goer masses, main character Chell is not. There are no lines for her to say and, being a first person game, no way to measure her emotions / reactions. This is a major issue with the adaption of this franchise, one that I am sure JJ Abrams would jump at trying to resolve. My personal issue with this is that every player deals with each level differently, meaning each person has a different experience to the next. Surely this will be lost in the transition to film?
A Half-Life film has been floating around for the past few years. Since the release of the first game, Gabe Newell has been inundated with pitches by Hollywood studios begging for the rights to make the film. Newell has not been impressed. In an interview with PCGamer he said: ”Directors down there wanted to make a Half-Life movie and stuff, so they’d bring in a writer or some talent agency would bring in writers, and they would pitch us on their story. And their stories were just so bad. I mean, brutally, the worst.” He has now seemingly found the perfect film company to work with if stories across the web are true. While it has the initial problem of a main character who does not speak for the entirety of the story (like Portal), this can easily be bypassed in this instance. The wealth of characters surrounding Gordon that speak regularly and have intricate personalities can make up for the lack of speech from our hero.
A good example of this is the fan made film “Enter the Freeman” which focuses on other characters for the most part, keeping it tense and mildly unnerving until Freeman enters and acts all badass. Using this way of storytelling, with a character keeping things close to his chest will give the film a mystery element, something JJ Abrams craves (See his TED conference on “The Mystery Box” to see what I mean).
Half-Life 3 / Episode 3 / Anything Half-Life with a friggin’ 3 in it!
How amazing would it be for the filmmaker who has rebooted Star Trek, who has the reigns to Star Wars in his hands and who can write a story with more twists in it than a human can count (I am looking at you Lost!). Not only would we get an amazing story, we would actually get the game. Finally. Would this even entice gamers who know all about his films but have (somehow) not been drawn to the Half-Life series previously.
A New IP
Valve has had rumours floating around for a while of a game named “Stars of Barathrum”. This has been said to be an open world Science Fiction game. Pieces of concept art were posted by a user who was said to know a great deal about this game (seeing as this is not confirmed, take this as a rumour only…for now). The concept art was drawn by concept artist Peter König, an ex-Valve employee who was employed by them in 2008 and released in 2012. (Thanks to GamingBolt)
The Sci-Fi genre is Abram’s speciality and with an “open world” game of this scope, a high profile writer/director could be a good push for a new IP to sell.
Star Wars Episode VII
Not ever in a million years will this be anywhere close to happening. Valve taking on a major franchise? I can only dream.