Splinter Cell Echoes Q and A with Game Director Pat Redding
Following the announcement of the upcoming Splinter Cell Echoes graphic novel, Ubisoft had a Q and A with Pat Redding, Game Director, Ubisoft Toronto. Here’s what Pat had to say about the upcoming Echoes.
Tell us about the new Splinter Cell graphic novel. What’s it all about?
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Echoes takes place after the events of Splinter Cell Conviction and sets the tone for the opening events in Splinter Cell Blacklist. After a few months of unemployment, Sam is haunted by ghosts from his past career. The graphic novel bridges the gap between Conviction and Blacklist, but we wanted to construct it in a way that can be enjoyed on its own. Players don’t have to read Echoes to understand the events of Blacklist, but it will give fans of the franchise a new way to dig into the Splinter Cell universe. This is a franchise with a legacy that spans over a decade, and we purposely designed the comic to be accessible to fans as well as those new to the universe.
Why did you choose to make another graphic novel in the Splinter Cell universe?
Honestly, the decision to develop a graphic novel was an easy one. The medium offers the perfect way to introduce our fans to new facets of Sam Fisher. We can approach narratives that aren’t necessarily a fit for the video game medium. Comics and graphic novels can play with linearity and time in a more fluid way. We’re also able to show Sam’s story from a perspective that Splinter Cell players wouldn’t be exposed to otherwise. When readers immerse themselves in the graphic novel, they gain access to Sam’s internal monologue and gain more insight into his strengths, weaknesses and fears.
What is the biggest challenge bringing Splinter Cell to a new medium?
Every medium has its own strengths, so the biggest challenge of any trans-media effort is to keep the brand at the center of the conversation between everyone involved. You need everyone committed equally. I think we’ve done a good job of maintaining a close dialogue between the game creators and the comic creators. Working with Nathan Edmondson is an amazing experience because he’s truly an expert in his field. We have to do this delicate dance to ensure that no one medium or piece overwhelms the other, and that each new piece we add to the universe stays true to the Splinter Cell franchise.
How did you select the team working on Splinter Cell Echoes?
Both me and our Art Director Scott Lee are huge comic fans and self-professed genre geeks; so Ubisoft shrewdly asked us who we would want in our best-case scenario. We both suggested Nathan based on his work on The Activity. He brought in artist Marc Laming, who had just the right mix of visual storytelling and realism for the book. When they agreed to collaborate with us we were ecstatic. If you look at Nathan’s work – from Who Is Jake Ellis? to Dancer – even when there are fantastic elements, it feels authentic and the characters are honest. But it was definitely The Activity that put Nathan on our radar, because that series has touched on many of the same themes we explore in Splinter Cell and it maintains a dynamic, gripping balance between real-world geopolitics and high-tech spy fantasy that draws readers in. As a writer, Nathan does his research and pays a lot of attention to detail, something that game creators value.
How much direction did Nathan Edmondson and Marc Laming receive in terms of artistic or plot direction?
We knew we wanted to explore the time period between Conviction and Blacklist. Our team met with Nathan and Marc to give them a crash course in Sam Fisher’s life during that time. In our initial meetings, we talked about the direction of the book, and really looked at which aspects of Sam’s past missions could create hooks for a new conflict. Right away, Nathan and Marc immersed themselves in the Splinter Cell universe. It’s the same thing game creators do when they go into conception on a new title, so it was a familiar process to us. Once they were fully versed in the universe, we wanted them to have a lot of latitude to focus on their craft and bring a new story to life for fans in a way that was true to the comic book medium. We’re confident that all readers – whether they’ve played every game in the series or are new the franchise – are going to really engage with this story and the level of fine detail Nathan and Marc inject into Echoes.
How has the experience been working with the Splinter Cell graphic novel team?
We are very fortunate to be working with guys that are really at the top of the industry and the top of their game creatively. Collaboration between the game creators and the comic team was extremely important to us right from the start. Nathan and Marc know how to deliver quality material and are a pleasure to work with.
Last question – when will you release the Splinter Cell graphic novel?
We will release Splinter Cell Echoes in Spring 2013 timed with the launch of Splinter Cell Blacklist. We will have more details in the coming months about how fans can get their hands on it so stay tuned!