Friday, 28 January 2011

Amazon Studios - Conclusions...

I'm going to wrap this up as the winners of the first contest have been announced. I wasn't one of them which is unsurprising considering my lack of effort in the whole thing. I've now had a total of 5 downloads and there are 2 people following my project. While we're on stats, there are now 2,495 projects on the site. Make of that what you will.

I have no reviews and haven't reviewed any scripts myself. I went into this for purely experimental purposes so I'm not disappointed by my lack of progress, but I do have to ask myself one question - if by chance my script had been one of the winning scripts, would I now be singing the praises of Amazon Studios? I don't know, my integrity has yet to be tested to that level. I'd like to hope I'd remain pragmatic, but it's more likely I would be telling everyone how awesome I am.

Seeing the list of
winners has softened my criticism somewhat. I had a quick look through and yes, some of them have been on there for some time and have had hundreds of downloads and reviews suggesting that to some extent it was a bit of a popularity contest. But there were also scripts in the final selection that weren't so popular on the site, and even some in the list of 30 runners up that had stats not dissimilar to mine. This at least suggests that all the scripts were indeed read by someone and that there was a degree of impartiality. Perhaps those winning scripts with multiple downloads and reviews were so popular because they were actually quite good?

There are no fully-produced films as yet so to some extent the future of the enterprise remains uncertain, but ignoring the issues over ownership it is clear that Amazon Studios does at least function as a scriptwriting competition. Not only that, it's a scriptwriting competition that's free and very easy to enter and one that can provide you with a lot of feedback if you're willing to get involved. Going back to that ownership issue, I wonder if it's actually akin to the age-old copyright myth - the idea that every writer thinks so highly of their work and their ideas that they think anyone who looks at the script will immediately rip them off (speaking of which, the writer of the
awful script I read a few months ago was apparently incredibly paranoid about people stealing his ideas - thought that was worth mentioning!). The fact is, I'm not sure people entering their scripts into an Amazon Studios contest should really be worrying about what happens if that script gets made into a film (and I say that as a person who did enter).

There is this issue over anyone being able to rewrite a script which I still think is ridiculous. Interestingly, the pitfalls of this came out with one of the winning scripts. Prior to the contest winners being announced, another user did a rewrite on that script. All he did with that rewrite was correct the (allegedly) numerous spelling and grammar errors. So essentially you have someone who could conceivably be credited as co-writer when all they've done is proof-read it (that's actually happened to me a few times on no-budget projects in real life so at least it's accurate). Naturally this created some tensions on the
message boards where it all started to get a bit nasty.

Despite all this I do believe Amazon Studios has the potential to work as a peer review site even if it's not enforced. People clearly are returning the favour when people read their scripts, which is good for humanity at least. But I don't know why you would use Amazon Studios for that.
Trigger Street is still running and works much better, or certainly used to when I signed up originally. And if I'm honest the best way to do this is to find your own peer group. Using friends, or contacts on the internet or even just people you vaguely know who have an interest in films is preferable to strangers who have something to gain from reading your script but nothing to lose by giving it a half-hearted or deliberately negative review. As I've said before, I have a handful of people I send my scripts to and that works find for me (although recently I've cut back on that too - I'm starting to think too much feedback is overrated and occasionally a little bit destructive...but that's another post for another day).

The future of filmmaking and distribution is a little uncertain at the moment because the internet is changing everything (had to stop myself from saying 'ruining'), but I'm sure our kids will sort it out (I don't have any kids right now, but when I do they will sort it out, I promise, once they're done with global warming). I think there are interesting things happening right now. I think what Kevin Smith has done with Red State is a really great idea, I think Edward Burns releasing Nice Guy Johnny on iTunes is an interesting idea and I think services like
Curzon on Demand are probably the future. All these things are part of the figuring out process the same as Amazon Studios, but I think those previous ideas are at least steps in the right direction; forward-thinking, active steps. Amazon Studios seems a bit passive to me. I don't doubt that it will act like a fully fledged film studio one day. But it's a film studio that's opened it's doors to the whole world and said, 'right, we don't know what we're doing or what's going to happen next, how about you all come in here and sort it out amongst yourselves'.

So in conclusion there is nothing malicious or sinister about Amazon Studios, but there's nothing particularly useful there either right now. It's a bit of a stab in the dark; a possible solution to the way the film industry is changing but set up with no understanding of how the film industry currently works. I don't think you have anything to lose by posting your script on there and you have a 1 in 2,495 chance of winning some money. But I think the people who established it want it to be something a bit bigger than a scriptwriting competition. I don't think it ever will be, but I'll certainly be interested to see if they can prove me wrong.

UPDATE - John August wrote a much more well researched blog on this today too here. He mentions that Amazon Studios have changed the rewrite policy, which I completely missed because I was frantically typing mine on my lunchbreak and didn't check the website properly. That's my excuse. Still, looks like we kind of agree in the the end.


On an unrelated note
Brother Pete has started blogging again! Please check out his blog and follow it if you can - he's funnier than I am.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Things that should be easy...

So I've just spent the last few days sorting out MovieBar stuff and have posted the full line-up of films for the first event here.

This has been incredibly hard work, mostly because I decided to use ymail as the e-mail account, which was purely based on the fact that it would give me the moviebar@ prefix. Now I'm starting to regret that decision. I hate ymail, ymail hates me. Ymail hates me so much it's not letting me send messages anymore. We fell out, big time.

I thought this would be the easy part. Facebook already thinks I'm a serial spammer because of the time I tried to tell my then 100-odd friends about
Ten Dead Men being released. But it lets me get by and apart from the new Group format being awful and not useful in the slightest I've managed okay with the MovieBar stuff on there.

Not so with ymail. Ymail doesn't like me e-mailing 200 people at the same time. So I try e-mailing 100. No? How about 50. This is a harmless short film night after all, I'm not asking people for their account details so I can rescue my long lost brother from Nigeria. Yes! 50 is okay! I've e-mailed 50 people. Right, onto the next 50...oh, now you're not letting me e-mail 50 people. 20?

Until I realised I've been blocked from sending anything. So I sent the e-mail from my personal account instead which I will probably come to regret later.

I will stop ranting there, just needed to get that off my chest. Do check out the line-up even if you can't make it to the evening - I'll post links to any of the films that are online after the event.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Hit the Big Time - Episode 4...

The problem with posting a weekly webseries here is that it makes me realise I haven't blogged about anything else for a whole week...

Anyway, this is the Vegas episode which again features scenes I actually remember writing, and even a scene I remember shooting! I won't ruin the illusion, I'll let you all think I flew out to Vegas to help out with the shoot, but you may want to read this afterwards. Enjoy!

Hit The Big Time Episode 4 of 8 from Hit The Big Time on Vimeo.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Hit the Big Time - Episode 3...

This one features some dialogue I actually remember writing and gets us a bit closer to the plot...

You can see previous episodes on the website here and there's a Facebook page here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


So I think I've mentioned this a couple of times now, but I've recently taken over a monthly filmmaking event in Brighton called MovieBar. If you want to find out more about the history of this event I've written all about it on the MovieBar blog here.

I've been talking about the previous incarnations of MovieBar since I started this blog as I've been to almost every one of them since it started, which is partly why I ended up taking over when the previous organisers stepped down. It's been a huge source of inspiration to me over the years and I'm proud (if also a little nervous) to be taking over one of Brighton's longest running film events. I've also got an awesome team of people helping out, including Brother Pete who designed a brand new logo:

I now have a whole set of new links for MovieBar:

The aforementioned blog is here.

There's a Facebook group here.

We're on Twitter here.

And if you want to join the mailing list or contact me about submitting a film to be screened you can e-mail

If you are based in Brighton and have an interest in films (which I presume you do if you're reading this blog) then please follow the other blog, sign up to the Facebook group, follow us on Twitter and most importantly come along to the launch night on Monday 7th February 2010. We've just finalised the line-up of films for that night and I promise you it is going to be awesome.

If you don't live anywhere near Brighton this may still be of interest to you. I'm hoping to turn the MovieBar blog into a showcase for any of the films we screen that are online so it's worth following that blog too as I'll be posting some really fantastic films there soon.

Also, if you're a filmmaker and have something you'd like me to screen please let me know. While I have to have a bit of a local bias, I will also be screening films from people who can't make it to the evening. I just might insist you send me a few words about the film for me to read out, or perhaps even insist you film an introduction. If you have something you'd like to submit e-mail me at

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Ghost Stories...

My awesome wife took me to see Ghost Stories last night. It was brilliant. It managed to strike a balance between being very entertaining and genuinely scary - something most horror films fail to achieve. I can't say too much for fear of ruining it, but if you like horror and you're able to get to London I definitely recommend it.

It made me think about doing another short film, which is ridiculous because the last short film isn't finished yet and the amount of time and effort that went into that one has put me off doing anything with no money again. But sometimes I get an idea that won't go away.

The other factor in this is something a friend said to me just before Christmas. He asked which genre I'd most like to work in if I had the choice. And I said horror. More specifically I wanted to work on something that was genuinely scary and took itself seriously. Not many horror films take themselves seriously these days. So I was thinking about working on something scary and then last night I got scared by something someone else had done and decided I wanted to try and do that to people.

I'm not making any serious plans or promises at this stage as I'm not sure taking anything else on right now is such a good idea, but I may write it anyway then put it in a drawer until the last short is finished and I see something else that scares me...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Hit the Big Time - Episode 2...

Here's the second episode of the short-film-turned-web-series I did some writing on, although I'm pretty sure most of this section was improvised...

Hit The Big Time Episode 2 of 8 from Hit The Big Time on Vimeo.

As before, the website is here and there's a
Facebook group here.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Birthday scripts...

So it's 2am on a school night and I've just finished my first rewrite of the new year, which must mean it's my birthday. The last two years I've done pretty much exactly the same thing, as seen here and here (what's rather spooky is that in the 2010 entry I make a monkey's paw reference - I think I'd had the idea for my short by then but certainly hadn't decided to actually do it so it seems vaguely prophetic now).

I didn't mean to do it this year. I was supposed to get everything finished over Christmas. But things didn't work out that way - the day job went crazy and I ended up working loads more than any normal person should, I was ill, all our travelling plans got changed around due to smashed wing was still an awesome Christmas but nothing quite went according to plan.

Which means I finished the rewrite that I started on Boxing Day ten minutes ago. Now I've done this three years in a row I figure it either stops next year or I do it every year until the end of time from now on. Check back this time next year to see what happens!

Meanwhile, here's my slightly older face, complete with writing hat and 'I've not had enough sleep this week' expression...

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

My thoughts on Tron Legacy, should you care...

At risk of giving away my opinion to early, I would like to pre-empt this post by saying I really try hard to not be negative about films I don't like in this blog. All art is subjective and generally I tend to disregard notions of 'good' and 'bad' art when it comes to films. Also, the other day I watched Surrogates, a film generally regarded as being pretty bad that had not been awarded any recommendations from any of my film-loving friends. But I kind of enjoyed it. I was in the mood for Bruce Willis with improbable robot hair jumping over cars. Had I been in a more objective mood I may have enjoyed the experience a lot less, but at that time in that particular frame of mind it was kind of perfect. It is for similar reasons that Save the Last Dance is genuinely one of my favourite films, although I can see the further I go down this road the more my taste will be questioned (but while I'm at it, The Fast and the Furious 3: Tokyo Drift is another film I am alone in regarding as a classic).

So ignore everything I say and make your own mind up.

That said, I am going to talk about Tron: Legacy which I saw last night because what I have to say relates specifically to writing and I do feel vaguely qualified to talk about writing.

I am a huge fan of the original Tron. This is partly because of how it was built up. I saw it in the days of VHS at which point Disney films were notorious for taking forever to be shown on TV so we had to rely on the local video rental place having a copy. Which they didn't. For ages. And I just remember my dad telling me about this film that was made with computers and it sounding like the most amazing thing I'd ever heard of. It sounded like the future, but a future we could experience if we could ever find that elusive VHS copy. Then one day we did find it and it was indeed awesome.

So like everyone else I was super-excited when a sequel was announced. The teasers and occasional images online reminded me of the anticipation of seeing the original. I really wanted it to be good. I mean really, desperately wanted it to be good.


It was better than good. It was perfect. The design was more impressive and out-there than I imagined and not toned down at all for a modern audience. It was directed in a kind of minimalist style that suited the world and all this was helped along by an awesome soundtrack. This wasn't the future anymore - it was the past, but not the past we remember, an idealised past that we like to think we remember. It was the 1980s for people who didn't live through the 1980s. And it was all constructed with such confidence in the design and the world. I liked the casting, thought Garrett Hedlund made a good hero and it was refreshing to see a main character in his late twenties which happens less often than you would think. I would have preferred it if they hadn't used CGI Jeff Bridges in the real world but didn't mind it so much in the Tron world. I even liked the fact that the screen was 90% black at all times -I am a goth at heart if not in practice and I like black things.

But all this perfection was let down by one crippling problem. A really terrible script. A dull script. An over-worked, contrived mess of a script. Because of that script the whole experience was rendered dull and lifeless.

There may be spoilers ahead.

It started well, then as soon as we get into Tron world there's a new plot point introduced every second and everyone is spending a lot of time sitting around talking. Seriously, how many times did they cut back to the flying train thing to show them still sitting there, still chatting away. It could've been filming on the tube.

Nothing is set up properly. The magical ISO people for example - where did they come from then Jeff Bridges? Oh, I don't know, they just kind of turned up.

The world wasn't set up right - how come it takes 5 minutes to drive from the centre of town to Jeff's house in the desert but the journey back takes two thirds of the film.

None of the characters really developed or changed.

And most of all it lacked the confidence of the design of the film. It felt like too many people had messed with it and then got taken off before they could tidy it up again. There were four writers credited and probably double that would've had their hands on it at some stage.

Here's how I imagine it went down. Say you start with a base idea of Jeff Bridges being trapped in Tron world and his son coming to find him. Fine. Only the script isn't working and Writer A doesn't seem to be getting it, but Writer B has this awesome idea about Jeff Bridges creating a twin that turns out to be evil. Awesome, lets bring in Writer B to do a pass on the script. Great, but this evil Jeff Bridges thing isn't working like we wanted it to. Hang on, I met Writer C at a party and he came up with this really interesting holocaust analogy. Cool, let's get him in, have him do a pass on the script. Y'know, that seemed like such a cool idea at the time but it's kind of bringing the tone down. Any ideas Writers A, B and C? Don't ask those guys, they don't know anything. I was talking to Producer F who had a conference call with Actor Y and Caterer J and they all think what the film really needs is a religious metaphor. Not only that, they know this other guy, Writer D, who worked the same thing into that other script about the robots and the dinosaurs and that worked so well I'm sure he could do the same thing here. Bring him in, give him a pass at the script.

And so on, until finally what exists is a mess of ideas and half-finished storylines that are never really paid off and never truly come to anything. So what do we do with this? Call Writer A back in to see what he can do to fix it? How about that Writer E guy - he's always fixing stuff like this. Then there's Writer F who has this really original idea about Tron-monkeys...wait, there's a problem! Filming is due to start next week!! Everything is paid for and ready to go except for the script!!!

We'll just go with it as it is and fix it in post.

Example of it being fixed in post? Those really unnecessary flashbacks of Jeff Bridges frolicking with his son, like someone in a test screening said 'I really didn't feel like Jeff Bridges cares about his son enough' and in comes Writer G...

Meanwhile all the audience ever wanted them to do was to bring David Warner back...

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Hit the Big Time - Episode 1...

I think Hit the Big Time was one of the first projects I blogged about, back when I was all about full disclosure and telling it like it is because I figured no one I actually knew would be reading this. It seems like a very long time ago now. Here's brief summary from memory, although if you want a more accurate depiction of how it all went down you can click the label at the bottom of this blog.

So back when Ten Dead Men was in the final stages of production I was contacted by JC Mac who played one half of Parker and Garrett, the two bungling hitmen in that film. He wanted to do a comedy short based on the same two characters with the idea to develop it as a feature at a later date. He also gave me a list of locations he was looking at filming in. I came up with an idea about a grudge between two aging B-movie actors that the two hitmen get involved with. I wrote a draft. Some time later I got another draft back which had gone through some minor changes and had three other names on it. Wasn't too pleased with this but it was done and the film was in the process of being shot.

The London and US shoots happened almost immediately which was a pleasant surprise. I now know from my own experience that despite being the most logistically difficult and most expensive stage of the process, once you get into production on a project it usually gets done pretty quickly. Post-production does not get done quickly - not when you don't have much money to pay for it. I think they went through a number of editors and had all kinds of issues with transferring footage between the US and here before it was done.

It was finally finished in November 2009 and was screened in LA - I couldn't go but a few friends of mine did and said they enjoyed it. Since then it's been screened at a couple of festivals in the UK but I think a decision was made early on to release it as a web-series. This makes sense - the film is around 30 minutes long and it takes a lot to get people to watch something that length online. Plus it moves between two countries and four cities so it's kind of episodic already.

I never got to see the final film so I'm watching it now for the first time too. I'm glad it's finally finished and available to see as it represents a lot of work from all involved. Hope you enjoy it, please comment on the Youtube page if you do. If you don't you are welcome to comment here, although one of the few advantages of being one of four writers is that I can blame everyone else for the bits that may not work.

If you want to find out more there's a Facebook Group here and a website here.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Gabriel Knight and the videogame narrative...

So my wife and I have recently been getting our retro game fix from the Gabriel Knight series of point-and-click adventure games. The games were produced by Sierra and written by Jane Jensen who is still working in games today and is blogging about the development of her latest game, Gray Matter, here.

I'd played the first Gabriel Knight game as a kid (which may explain a few things given the content) but never completed it so revisiting it now felt like a tying up of loose ends. It's still one of the best written adventure games I've ever come across with a really compelling storyline and interesting characters. There's a real sense of impending doom that runs through the game and drives it along, plus the story is interesting enough to make you want to progress through the tricky bits in order to find out what happens next. The New Orleans setting and voodoo storyline provide an interesting background to a game that has a better structure than most films. The CD-Rom version even has some awesome voice casting including Tim Curry and Mark Hamill. It's something of a masterpiece really and if you are are able to get hold of it somehow I seriously recommend it.

But it's the second game in the series I really want to talk about. Gabriel Knight was something of an oddity in that each game in the series was produced with an entirely different format. In the early-to-mid nineties the prevailing format for adventure games was the interactive movie - essentially still a traditional point-and-click adventure game but with real-life actors taking the place of animated sprites. One of the first and most famous of these was The 7th Guest. I find these games fascinating now as they represent a vision of a future that never came to pass. It was an amalgamation of games and films - a film that you watched and also took part in. This was surely the way forward for all entertainment.

It wasn't. Games got better. Filming actors for games proved to be incredibly limiting and as graphics improved became completely unnecessary. At the same time, they were being produced by games people and not film people - the filmed sequences themselves always felt clunky and poorly realised. So the film element could not compare to actual films and the game element could not compete with other games of the time. With their epic storylines, extensive art departments and well-rounded characters games are becoming more like films now, but the interactive movie as a concept is dead.

That isn't to say that there weren't some really interesting titles released during that period. At their height some of them featured proper actors like Dennis Hopper in Black Dahlia, Mark Hamill and Malcolm McDowell in the Wing Commander games and Ripper which featured Christopher Walken, Karen Allen, Burgess Meredith and David Patrick Kelly...

And then there was perhaps the most star-studded of all Privateer 2: The Darkening with Clive Owen, John Hurt, Brian Blessed and more...

Although I can't speak for them all the games themselves were often let down by poor gameplay and bad writing. There were occasional standout titles, my favourite being Realms of the Haunting which benefited from a genuinely awesome storyline and a game that maintained a terrifying atmosphere throughout...

It was the writing that really made the difference. As most of the games were shot on bluescreen budgets weren't really an issue meaning writers could take their stories anywhere they wanted to. It's something of a shame that some of the greatest stories ever written are in videogame format and therefore unlikely to ever find a mass audience or to be sought out by anyone other than those revisiting their youth (like me). It is for this reason that I want to talk about Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within.

So at the end of the first game, Gabriel Knight learnt that he was the latest in a line of German demon-slayers called Schattenjagers. He accepts the call and at the beginning of this game Gabriel, (Dean Erickson)...

...has moved into his ancestral home, a castle in Germany. There he is called upon by the locals to investigate a series of grisly murders that have taken place in a village outside Munich. Meanwhile, Gabriel's assistant, Grace Nakimura, (Joanne Takahashi)... running his bookstore back in New Orleans, until she hears Gabriel is on a new case and hops on a plane to Germany to help him out. Not wanting to put her in danger Gabriel keeps Grace at a distance and concentrates his investigations on an exclusive hunting club run by Baron Friedrich Von Glower (Peter J.Lucas)...

Making herself at home in Gabriel's castle, Grace starts to research Ludwig II of Bavaria, a troubled King whom she discovers may have in fact been a werewolf.

Here's a trailer...

As a game
The Beast Within has its flaws. Primarily it is a perfect example of the problems that arise when you cross games with films. Take the scene where Gabriel creates a plaster mould of a paw print he finds on the ground. In a film you would maybe have a montage of the character mixing the plaster, applying it to the print and picking up the finished cast, all within a few seconds. You may even skip the middle part and cut from plaster to cast - that's called 'editing'. Here we see every second of the process, as if the game designers saw this ability to show the character doing absolutely everything without the restrictions of having to animate a sprite as an advantage. Characters are shown putting their coats on every time they leave a building, have lengthy introductions and engage in repetitive small-talk every time they talk to someone, and most frustratingly spend several long seconds 'looking' at everything the player clicks on. It's like editing never existed.

But the real problem is that neither of the two storylines are particularly suited to the videogame format. Grace's storyline primarily involves going to museums and reading books, which would work fine in a novel but doesn't make for compelling gameplay. Meanwhile, Gabriel's storyline is more character-based and is ultimately about him being drawn into Von Glower's club. Gabriel as a character is therefore passive and his story arc is a downward one, neither of which works particularly well in a game. This doesn't prevent writer Jensen from telling a fantastic story.

There are three reasons the writing in
Gabriel Knight 2 is awesome.

Firstly, the game's storyline about a secret hunting club made up of werewolves combined with its alternate history of Ludwig II manages to be interesting and original. It's also very cinematic, particularly in the final act. The best example of this is in the opera scene. If you have any intention of seeking out this game and playing it then read no further. If you have no intention of playing the game then I seriously suggest you watch the video below as it's pretty awesome stuff.

To fill you in on the plot, Gabriel has been bitten by a werewolf but has so far managed fight off the transformation. Grace has learnt that the only way to save Gabriel is to kill the Alpha werewolf - the werewolf who turned the wolf that bit Gabriel. She knows that the Alpha werewolf is Baron Friedrich Von Glower. She has also learnt that Ludwig II was working on an opera with Richard Wagner that when performed in a particular theatre has the power to cure a werewolf. She has found the lost opera, put it on in the correct theatre, locked Gabriel up in the basement and arranged for Von Glower to be present (in the same box as the police detective investigating the werewolf murders). Still with me?

Her plan is that the 3rd Act of the opera will make Von Glower human again which will also cure Gabriel. The problem is that the theatre isn't exactly the same as Ludwig II and Wagner's designs so she's not sure it will work as planned. Meanwhile, Gabriel has escaped from the basement and taken the place of the actor playing the werewolf in the opera. And so the stage is set for what has to be one of the most cinematic cut-scenes in video game history...

The second awesome thing about the writing is the relationship between Gabriel and Von Glower. Watch the first couple of minutes of this scene and you'll probably guess where I'm going with this...

While it is never explicitly stated that Von Glower is gay there are more than enough clues in the story that point towards this. Von Glower runs a secret club for men who want to connect with their primal instincts, which we later find out means a club for werewolves. He targets people he thinks will fit into this club and essentially seduces them into taking part, which is what he does to Gabriel over the course of the game. There's nothing malevolent about this - he sees Gabriel as a werewolf who hasn't yet 'come out' and proceeds to help him to do so. Then there are the parallels between Von Glower and Ludwig II, whose homosexuality is referred to when it arises as part of Grace's research. Finally there is the love story at the heart of the game - it is Grace's love for Gabriel that compels her to save him, but ultimately that love is never reciprocated.

The homosexual allegory becomes problematic when you consider that once Gabriel is 'turned' his condition is treated as a disease and the werewolves are portrayed as killers throughout the game. But at the same time this is offset by a fondness for Von Glower that is best summed up by Gabriel's final lines - 'Haven't you ever wished you could just follow your instincts? Live for the moment?... That was Von Glower'.

However you read it, this is pretty interesting, complex and potentially subversive stuff for a mid-nineties horror adventure game.

And this leads on to my final point - the structure and the plot itself is really interesting and comes to quite an original conclusion. This is perhaps best illustrated by the ending sequence of the game:

So what happens is this - Gabriel is the 'chosen one' and comes to Germany to seek his destiny. Except he's not very good at it. Rather than stopping the werewolf killings he instead becomes a werewolf himself. Meanwhile it's Grace, a secondary character from the first game who is forever being told she can't help because she's not the 'chosen one' and will probably get herself killed, who emerges as the real hero. It's a really interesting story, and in a film it probably would have worked fantastically. In a game it only half works, but it gets top marks for originality and I certainly enjoyed seeing it play out.

Video game narratives are already being revisited academically as well they should, I only hope that the lesser known video games are reassessed as part of this process because
Gabriel Knight 2 should surely be one of the key texts. If you are interested in seeing more and can't get hold of the game a few people have put the whole thing on Youtube. There's also a third game, Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, and there's an internet campaign for a fourth game here.