Rob Auten and Tom Bissell, the authors penning the story to Gears of war: Judgment, have discussed the challenges of creating a prequel and writing it around an unconventional hero like Damon Baird.
It looks like the writers of Gears of War: Judgment faced a similar challenge to that tackled by Halo: Reach. How do you make a story compelling when its outcome is already established? You know Reach is going to fall, and the same goes for Halvo Bay, a city that was one of the first to be destroyed during Emergence Day. Gears of War: Judgment is set in Halvo Bay, but that has only enhanced the creativity of the game’s writing duo.
Tom Bissell and Rob Auten, who were brought on to pen Judgment’s story, say as much in an interview with Polygon. “In one of the books, we found the fall of Halvo Bay, and this beautiful kind of luxe resort burg, this Santa Barbara sort of place, and we thought: ‘That’s kind of cool. Maybe we can find a story that’s set in there. It’s contained. We know it ends poorly. Let’s see if we can put some roots down there’,” Auten says.
“The first thing you see is all four members of Kilo Squad being brought into this courtroom. Clearly, no matter what happens, they’re all going to be there up to the point of the trial. We didn’t feel the need to run from that. It’s more about how the characters get to that point.” This kind of procedural story, as Bissell dubs it, works the best when it can make you forget how it ends until it does. I don’t know about you, but I was rooting for the passengers in Paul Greengrass’ United 93 all the way to the inevitable end.
Another challenge was elevating Damon Baird to the status of protagonist. His sarcastic wit endeared him to fans and developers alike, but Bissell really hopes he and Auten “made a character in Baird who’s able to stand alongside Marcus as someone who can carry a Gears game.”
“I think triple-A game guys do themselves a disservice when they try to download from this central character database and get a prototypically heroic guy. Characters have to have wrinkles and vulnerabilities. They have to be weird in some way to generate a response.” Somewhere in the background, Rhianna Pratchett nods with approval.
“[Judgment] is, in a sense, the story of why Baird is never again a leadership figure,” Bissell says. Auten adds: “And why he’s kind of always looking over everybody’s shoulder and saying: ‘Look, I’m smarter than you guys. I could do it that way.’ But he’s never actually the boss.”