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Developer Chat: Deadpool Writer Daniel Way

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Posted on June 24, 2013 AT 10:00am

One of the biggest problems with games that are based on movies, TV shows, and books is that they often get the fundamentals about the story, settings, and characters wrong, either intentionally or because they just don’t know what they’re doing. But that won’t be a problem with the new Deadpool game, since the developers, High Moon Studios, hired Daniel Way — who wrote the Deadpool comic for four years — to pen the script for their game. We spoke to Way about working for the Merc with a mouth. Again.

EGM: Is it safe to assume you got the gig writing the Deadpool game because you had written the Deadpool comic for years, or is there more to it?

Daniel Way: My experience in writing the character is what secured the gig, but it was actually a chance encounter during San Diego Comic-Con that got the ball rolling. I was introduced to someone from Marvel Games who, as it turned out, had been hoping to run into to me talk about a Deadpool game. Luckily, everyone involved was both familiar with and a fan of what I’d written, so the “getting to know you” period was mercifully short.

EGM: How did writing the script for this game compare to writing the comic?

DW: In comics, you’re telling a story; in games, you’re framing a story. Games are meant to be played, not witnessed. That being said…with a lead character as chaotic as Deadpool, it is best not to think in terms of “rules.”

There are definitely similarities between writing for the two mediums, however. As an example, there’s not much structural difference between a monthly, serialized comic — which has to have a strong opening, a satisfying amount of content, and a resonant conclusion that nonetheless leaves you wanting more — and writing a cut scene.

EGM: Is the game’s story based on one of your comics?

DW: It’s an original story that employs concepts and themes previously established in the comics; one of the most overt being that Deadpool is fully aware of the fact he’s in a video game. And he has no qualms about, um… “advising” the player on how well — or how crappily — it’s being played. Seriously…don’t be surprised if, after playing the game, you end up with a nasty voicemail from Deadpool on your phone, deriding your “skills.”

EGM: Is there anything that you originally wrote for the game that would’ve been okay for the comic but wasn’t for the game?

DW: Ha! It’s actually the other way around, they’re letting me get away with murder. Oh, and f-bombs, too.

EGM: On the flipside, is there anything that you wrote for the game, but expected to be nixed for some reason, only to have them say, “Yeah, that’s okay.”?

DW: I’d say 50% of the game falls into that category. Never before have I been so enabled to cause so much destruction. I should probably be ashamed of myself.

EGM: Is there anything that you put into this game — be it as small as a line of dialog or as big as a plot point — that you had originally thought of for the comic, but didn’t use for whatever reason, and now you are in the game?

DW: Hmm…no, not really. In all honesty, I was so excited about doing new things with Deadpool that it never occurred to me to bring in something old or recycled. Wait… Well, you get to actually hear Deadpool fart — which, in the comics, you can’t — but, as everyone knows, fart jokes never get old. Or less funny.

EGM: On the flipside of that question, is there anything you thought of for this game that made you think, “Crap, that would’ve been good for issue whatever of the comic”?

DW: Yes! In the comic, I avoided Deadpool using his teleporter because…well, it was the equivalent of a cell phone in a horror movie, y’know? It presented a solution that was too simple and completely unsatisfying. In short, it was something that Deadpool, himself, wouldn’t care to use. But who’s to say he couldn’t use it in only in certain situations? Like, in the middle of a melee battle?

EGM: In the game, Deadpool is voiced by Nolan North. Does the voice actor have any impact on how a game is scripted?

DW: At this point, after having voiced him in so many games and cartoons, Nolan pretty much is Deadpool. So, when scripting lines, I kept that in mind. Also, I didn’t ignore the fact he’s a voice actor…all he needs are the lines; he can handle the characterization.

EGM: The game is being made by High Moon, who previously did some Transformers games and other stuff. Were you allowed to make jokes about their games, or did their lawyers nix that?

DW: Are you kidding? Those poor souls get raked over the coals in this game. Frankly, it’s hard to believe the lengths to which they were willing to sacrifice their good names, just for the sake of this game. Deadpool’s treatment of the High Moon guys — within the game — is merciless.

EGM: You’re not writing Deadpool comics anymore. Given how much freedom that character affords someone who writes his books, has that made it difficult to write other comics, or is it more than that not having that much freedom is a nice change of pace?

DW: I hadn’t really thought of that. Thanks. Now I’m depressed. In all honesty, though, it really isn’t something that I’ve considered and I don’t think “freedom,” one way or another, is an issue. Because of the Rube Goldberg-esque nature of Deadpool’s “plans” — a tradition that continues in this game — I had to put a lot of work into structuring the plot mechanics of those comics well before I started to actually script them.

EGM: Now that you’ve written a game, would you ever want to write another one, or is once enough?

DW: While it isn’t the first game I’ve written, it is the first game I’ve written that’s gotten made. Yes, that happens. Now that I’ve been through the entirety of the process, though, I’d like to officially announce that I’m ready, willing and able to write as many of them as I can. Hey, developers! Holla atcha boy!

EGM: Is there one that you’d consider your dream pick?

DW: Another Deadpool game sounds pretty good. Or maybe a really raw-dog version of Q-bert? Oh! Y’know what game used to scare the crap out of me as a kid? Venture. I could definitely see myself writing that…giving Winky his due, you know what I’m saying? But in the new version, he wouldn’t be smiling.

EGM: Along the same lines, if you could write a comic book about an existing game, what would it be and why?

DW: That’s a tough one. BioShock, maybe? It’s so lush yet so utterly bizarre…that could be fun.

Paul Semel, Contributor
Paul has been writing about movies, music, video games, books, TV, toys, celebrities, and other fun stuff since the early-’90s. A regular contributor to EGM since 2004, he's also written for Entertainment Weekly, Bikini, Maxim, Raygun, Walmart GameCenter, Rides, and Emmy, among others. Please follow him on Twitter at @paulsemel. Or don't. Whatever.

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