The director outlines the challenges that producing a multi-stranded script brings
Hi everyone! My name is Ben Tester from Wales Interactive, the studio who brought you the first ever live-action video game on PS4. Now, we have something brand new for all the full-motion-video and choice-driven narrative fans out there!
Introducing Late Shift, a cinematic FMV crime thriller with branching storylines. Written by Michael R. Johnson, the author of the 2009 film, Sherlock Holmes, Late Shift arrives on PS4 this April.
After being forced into the robbery of a lucrative auction house, student Matt is left proving his innocence in the brutal London heist. Your choices will have consequences from the very start, right through to the very end. One small decision could change the entire outcome in a choose-your-own-adventure style gameplay that can lead to one of seven conclusions.
The game features over 180 decisions in total, and however big or small they may seem, any one could be the turning point, sending you off on a different branch of the story. Some players may uncover harder to reach endings, some may make friends or enemies along the way. Some may even play different chapters because of a series of choices which are evaluated at key points in the game. You’ll have just seconds to make your decisions as the film seamlessly continues to roll with no pauses and no looping footage.
We invited the director, Tobias Weber, to join us today with a bit of insight into the multi-optional writing and filming process. Take it away Tobias…
“We started writing Late Shift like a normal film, but soon had to abandon the industry standard scripting software. It very quickly got too confusing. We therefore invented a kind of hybrid between flowchart and traditional film script, which allowed us to properly write dialogue while keeping track of the logic behind the film.
This multi-stranded script became the backbone of our production, we stuck to it all the way from writing, to shooting to post-producing the film. Even the composer used it for reference when he wrote and produced the soundtrack, which sounds like a film score, but is as dynamic as any game score.
Shooting Late Shift wasn’t always easy. When the actors saw the script for the first time they refused to work with it. Everyone had to be educated about the new format. Keeping track of a production like this is demanding, continuity is a nightmare.
Eventually though everyone, cast and crew got accustomed to the process and at the end we all became quite proficient I should think. The main cast was terrific, our lead actors Joe [Sowerbutts] and Haruka [Abe] did a great job; they basically knew the entire script by heart. We would first film one story strand, then move on to a variation of it. Then we’d change camera angle and do all the variations again. At times it was confusing, but somehow we did it!
Already during post-production we had a lot of people test the movie, as we wanted to avoid any beaten tracks within the film. It was very important to us that all the endings would be reached, and that all choices were evenly balanced.
Luckily so far in all the screenings and testing sessions, we’ve seen all the endings time and again, though some are certainly less common. But the achievements are in the details, I guess. Not everyone outsmarts the thieves, anticipates the villain’s moves, gets to spit in the antagonist’s face, or… well you’ll have to wait and see to reveal your version of the story!”
Now, for the completionists out there, you’ll have the option to replay the story to find the different routes and hidden chapters, being rewarded with Trophies and of course, a Platinum.
Developed by CtrlMovie and shot in full HD across London, Late Shift’s cinematic experience blends the line between movies, games and interactive storytelling.
You won’t have to wait long as the game lands on PS4 this April and from today, a 20% discounted pre-order is available exclusively for PlayStation Europe. Thank you all for reading and please do leave your comments below!