Friday, March 21, 2014

Q&A with Author Rob Auten

Rob Auten is a video game writer who cowrote Gears of War: Judgment with Tom Bissell and who contributed creatively to numerous games including James Cameron's Avatar: The Video Game, Far Cry, and Aliens vs. Predator. He lives in New York City.

His new book, Gears of War™: Judgment: Kilo Squad: The Survivor’s Log, was published on March 4, 2014. We asked him questions about his career thus far, his new book, and what he’s working on now:

1. How long have you been in the video game industry?

I got started working in game animation and cinematics after several years of being an editor for music videos and commercials. The first game I worked on was Rainbow Six: 3 for the original Xbox which was released in 2003.

2. When and how did you start working with Epic Games and Tom Bissell on Gears of War: Judgment?

Tom and I had been friends for a while and had a few other projects in the hopper, most of which still have yet to see the light of day. He was asked by Epic to write a short book about the development of Gears of War 3, during which time he heard that Epic was starting to talk to some writers about the next installment. Tom asked if we could write a pitch and we ended up getting the job.

3. What excited you about the franchise?

Gears of War was the game that defined my 360. I remember all too clearly that I was away from home and without a console on the day the game was released. When I finally got back, it was just as great as I had expected. When I sat down with one of my best friends to play the campaign in co-op, it even further exceeded my expectations.

4. How does your new book help further immerse players in the game?

The book isn’t going to be a very easy read unless you know the Gears universe. That probably goes without saying. But for those who do care, the book tries to help fans better understand the mentality of Seran citizens around the time when giant monsters started pouring out of holes in the ground. There’s also plenty of detail about Baird and Cole prior to their joining Marcus Fenix and Dom in Delta Squad.

5. What has been your favorite property to work on so far (you don’t have to say Gears of War!)?

I’ve been lucky enough to work on a few of my favorite properties. I still wish the world had been given a chance to play the Aliens RPG that was in development at Obsidian a few years back. The most eye-opening project (and one in which I only played a very small role) was Avatar. I was fortunate enough to be around the filming process and seemingly every week a new technological challenge was being surmounted. I’ve never seen technologists race so fiercely to fill a vision. It was remarkable.

6. What’s on the horizon for you? 

The life of a games writer is filled with nondisclosure agreements and I think my inability to talk about virtually anything I’m doing has made me even more of a bore to be around. Right now, I’m most looking forward to watching my girlfriend finish her doctoral thesis. That is no secret.


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