Gary Whitta, the Hollywood scribe behind Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Book of Eli and Sony Pictures After Earth, comes from the video game industry. The former video game journalist penned the story for Telltale Games’ episodic games based on Robert Kirkman’s comic book, The Walking Dead. With the hit AMC series and Activision game from developer Terminal Reality serving as a prequel to the show, there’s a lot of undead to go around. Whitta talks about the competing games in this exclusive interview.
What was it like working on Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead game?
It’s been amazing and the great thing about it is we get to tell a completely different story. Each iteration of the Walking Dead does its own thing. Obviously, you have the original comics and then you have the TV show, which is fantastic. The show tells the same story of the comics but deviates a little. With the game we get to tell a completely different story with a completely different set of characters, but it’s set in the same universe. Glenn and Hershel and some of the characters you recognize from The Walking Dead are in our story, but our main group of characters are completely original. We invented them to inhabit that same universe that Robert Kirkman created. You can play the videogame without feeling like you might be spoiling the comic books or the show. Because it’s a completely different story, that means we also get to kill any characters that we want without worrying about Robert Kirkman getting back at us.
Does the fact that this game series is episodic impact how you write?
Yeah. I really think of it almost as an interactive TV show. It’s five episodes that come out on a regular basis and we build cliffhangers and all kinds of fun tune-in-next-week type of moments into every episode. The reaction has been really great. Episode four is very, very grim. One of the great things about The Walking Dead universe is you have absolute license to be as grim and as brutal as you want. It’s not necessarily a happy ending in The Walking Dead universe. Robert’s comic book universe never really ends, ever. It just keeps going and going. The ending of Season 1, while I won’t tell you anything about it, is rough. It’s a very, very bleak story. It’s very hard to find a happy ending in a universe like that.
Activision published a new game based on the AMC TV series. Do you think there’s room for two games?
Yeah, I think so. The Walking Dead has become so big that it’s been licensed and sublicensed to so many different areas. A lot of people get confused sometimes. They think our version of the video game is in some way related to the TV show. It’s not. It’s licensed directly from the comics, the same way the TV show is. So our game looks more like the comic book than the TV version would. It’s designed almost comic booky. There is a new version of the video game, which is based on the TV show. I personally have no interest in that. They’re going the first person shooter route. I’m much more interested in story than action. I think The Walking Dead is about story and character. I’d much rather work in the Tell Tale universe, where we are telling a really great story, than a story where you’re just shooting a bunch of zombies. That, to me, is the less interesting part of The Walking Dead.
Capcom has had success with zombie shooting with Resident Evil.
Yeah. We’ve played that game already. Who knows? It might be a great game. I don’t want to judge it too early. I can just tell you that the type of game that I enjoy is focused more on story than on action. When it comes to The Walking Dead, I feel like that’s always been more about story than about action.