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Director of Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy now making video games: 4 reasons you NEED to care

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I’m beginning to think I have some Alan-Wake-style ability to write reality into being. A while back I wrote a feature on film directors who should be making games. One of them was Studio Ghibli head Hayao Maiazaki, and now Ghibli is working on RPG Ni No Kuni for the DS  and PS3. Another was Pan’s Labyrinth, Blade II, Chronos and Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro. And he’s just announced that he’ll imminently reveal ‘a big deal with a big company’ to make games. His own. Original ones. Next up, I’m going to write a list feature about games journalists who should find offensively large piles of money on their doorsteps.

Now in the past I’ve expressed the opinion that artists from other media getting involved in games isn’t necessarily beneficial to anyone. Games are a very specific medium requiring very specific skills and very specific methods of storytelling in order to achieve greatness, and game devs themselves are only really now beginning to discover and make that stuff work artistically. But in Del Toro’s case, I am very excited. Del Toro, you see, is different. To explain my giddy, childlike mental state, I have compiled a list of reasons he will make very special video games. Onwards, friends. Onwards to cross-media victory!

Del Toro is a massive gamer

This is true. Del Toro is one of us. He’s a gamer, a comic book reader, and a huge fan of fantastical media of every type and era. This will be no mere vanity trip for him, no simple attempt to broaden his CV and massage his ego my having his name on some credits in a different medium. He’s repeatedly proclaimed the increasing sophistication and power of games as a unique storytelling medium – one of the new non-industry types to really get it – so him bringing his already vast narrative and visual skill set to games will be a genuinely beneficial and enriching thing.

These won’t just be genero-games with a few Del Toro character designs. He lists amongst his favourite games ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, BioShock, and Silent Hill. This man knows what he's talking about. He understands the mechanics of the medium, and as a passionate gamer himself, he won’t stand for no crap.

He is an amazing designer of worlds

When it comes to creating fantastic, unique, nightmarish and beautiful worlds, Del Toro is pretty much unbeated. It’s not just the look and ambience of the places he creates in his films. It’s the reality, cohesion and attention to detail he adds to them. Anyone can design a crazy-looking place, but to make one feel like a living, breathing, functioning reality takes an extra level of love and skill.

Look at Pan’s Labyrinth, or Hellboy, or even Del Toro’s more reality-grounded films such as Blade II and Chronos. They’re all visually stunning and utterly spellbinding, but much more than that, they all treat their fantastical inhabitants as real people, with real feelings and motivations, and believable, functioning societies. One of the biggest challenges in games is to take a world beyond its visuals and game mechanics and make it actually feel alive, and even the best games don’t always pull it off. Del Toro however, would. He’d insist on it. And discussing this point leads us on to the fact that…

He bloody loves his monsters

Not just in a ‘Wow, monsters are so cool’ kind of way. Del Toro really, genuinely empathises with and cares about the creatures in his films. They’re the most sympathetic characters, full of pathos and motivation and emotional subtlety, and are always the ones that stick with you long after the film ends, whether protagonist or not. For all his rampant murdering, Blade II’s Novak was the guy you felt for the most by the end. Jesus, the artificial vampire of Del Toro’s debut feature Cronos, might have degenerated from kindly grandfather to ravenous blood drinker, but at no point along the way did he elicit anything other than genuine, human sympathy.


Above: Del Toro and monsters = BFF

In games, this thinking will be dynamite. Playing as a Del Toro monster along a layered emotional journey would be great, but even better would be to encounter these creatures and their world as an outsider, and then really come to understand them. Whether friend or enemy, the monsters in a Del Toro game will be far from simple gun fodder. Whether working with them or killing them en masse, every interaction with them will matter and resonate. And if he brings long-time collaborator Doug 'Abe Sapien' Jones along for motion capture, then all the better.

An appearance by Ron Perlman is almost guaranteed

If Del Toro can squeeze the mighty Ron Perlman into a film, he will. He’s the hulking Johnny Depp to Del Toro’s tubby Tim Burton, and given that he’s no stranger to games himself (having appeared in every Fallout game, Halo 2 and 3, The Chronicles of Riddick and an absolute shedload more) there’s almost no chance he won’t turn up in Del Toro’s games.

Ron Perlman is awesome. Ron Perlman needs to be in as many things as possible.

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40 comments

  • philipshaw - July 30, 2010 11:12 a.m.

    If his favorite games are Ico and SOTC are his favorite games then he should make a great game
  • JayBeat - July 30, 2010 7:46 a.m.

    I am a huge fan of his movies, especially Pan's Labyrinth. Looking forward to more news.
  • EroticInvisibleMan - July 29, 2010 11:38 p.m.

    @hayisforhorses Blindly bashing Uwe Boll, I see? If you'd actually watched his last 3 or 4 movies, you'd see he's really turning things around and making films with credibility and artistic merit, but I suppose you just want to blindly bash him like the rest of the hivemind, correct?
  • Stabby_Joe - July 29, 2010 10 p.m.

    Can at least one of them be a new Hellboy game? You could easily make a game out of one of its stories. So much crazy **** happens!
  • ThatSkinnyGuy - July 29, 2010 9:01 p.m.

    @RebornKusabi: C'mon man... the fight scenes in Blade 2 LOOK like a video game, and not in a good way. I know they were pushing the tech boundaries at the time with fully realised CGI characters, but now they look really fake and awful in most of the fights (the fight against the stealth ninja vamps in particular, or the climactic fight with Nomak). Matrix: Reloaded 'Burly Brawl' bad. And what were all the wrestling moves about? Also, it's not a GdT original property. I'm not trying to rag on you man - I own Blade 2 and stick it on from time to time and always enjoy it, but conceptually he's got a lot more to offer games than that.
  • drFatwee - July 29, 2010 8:56 p.m.

    considerin how epic all of GDT's films are and how great the first book he wrote was (its called The Strain and is first in a trilogy for those who did't know about it... read it!!!) i'm genuinly very ecited about this... high hopes for his work in games
  • RebornKusabi - July 29, 2010 7:39 p.m.

    My favorite movie from this director, above Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy 1 and 2, is Blade 2. Quite honestly, in my opinion after watching this movie several times and seeing the massively improved fight scenes in Hellboy 2, Guillermo del Toro's talents would be much better served doing an action game than a horror game. I'm a big survival horror fan, but the genre has become stale and practically lifeless because of certain individuals who approach horror games with the same... zeal that they approach Modern Warfare or Halo. Don't get me wrong, I love me some Resident Evil 4 and 5 but I don't find them scary mostly out of not finding human killers in horror movies scary even if they ARE infected virally, demonically or parasitically. What does this have to do with Guillermo del Toro? Everything, and it would be wise to consider this: all of his movies, even Blade 2, have a certain pathos to them that no other movies have and like was mentioned, dude mostly focuses on intricate and truly unique monster designs that truly evoke horror from the viewer... too bad the same was said about the first couple of Silent Hill games monsters as well. Silent Hill 1, 2 and 3 had unique monsters, especially 2, and the simple fact is that the designs of them all were lost on most gamers because of a gamers inherent need to shoot or kill things. While I am excited to see what Guillermo del Toro does with his game... I also have no quarrels with understanding that it's gonna sell like shit and most people will knock it for not having enough combat or not controlling like other, more popular, games.
  • darkvare - July 29, 2010 7:06 p.m.

    yay memo is the greatest
  • Vitoruss1 - July 29, 2010 6:18 p.m.

    Agreed on the Ron Pearlman idea. I like Del Toro a lot, hell, he and I even share the same birthday! The original Hellboy is one of my favorite films (although I wasn't crazy about the second one). But anyway, I say: good!
  • beardo180 - July 29, 2010 6:13 p.m.

    This is a great day for video games
  • ThatSkinnyGuy - July 29, 2010 6:11 p.m.

    @TomMishkin: I'm right there with you dude. You had me at 'Galaxy Quest'.
  • TomMishkin - July 29, 2010 6 p.m.

    @ThatSkinnyGuy: yep, that drawing pretty much gives you an idea of WB's work. His works so far for the movie industry include (quoting) «creature and character designs for Galaxy Quest, Titan A.E., Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Avatar». So most of the funny things you saw moving in Avatar (provided you watched it!) were invented by WB, with a little help from mr. Cameron. He also wrote some kick-ass science fiction (emphasis on "science", mind you!) books like Expedition - which I believe was turned into a TV series by Discovery Channel or something. Aaaaand... each and every one of his drawings is pencil-made. He started learning how to color his creatures in order to control every step of his work, but he very much loves drawing by hand. Now imagine that applied to an atmospheric/eerie/dreamy/horror-y VG conceived by GDT and you can pretty much imagine my excitement.
  • ThatSkinnyGuy - July 29, 2010 5:45 p.m.

    @TomMishkin: I'd never heard of the guy, but after a speedy Googling, if this is anything to go by: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xQwP8MNj0EA/Rhmq4GorbsI/AAAAAAAAA8M/sxqULK_n55I/s400/barlowe_abaddon-1.jpg - Yeah, that'll work.
  • Silvermech - July 29, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    I'M SO EXCITED, I JUST HAD SECERAL BRAIN CELLS EXPLODE!
  • TomMishkin - July 29, 2010 5:38 p.m.

    Also, don't you guys ever forget that GDT has started working with Wayne Barlowe, and they seem to be getting along quite well. I had the privilege to interview WB for the movie magazine I write for and the guy was as awesome as his works. The two of them working together on a videogame, what with GDT's imagination and WB's amazing pencilwork? The mere thought of that, my friends, is the stuff dreams are made of.
  • ThatSkinnyGuy - July 29, 2010 5:19 p.m.

    @skimm: The guy's an awesome writer but given his track record, him getting involved with games would probably result in gaming getting cancelled.
  • skimm - July 29, 2010 4:46 p.m.

    this is fantastic news. all i need now is for joss whedon to start putting his incredible skills into making games.
  • Defguru7777 - July 29, 2010 4:36 p.m.

    Good news. I loved Hellboy 1 and 2. And Ron Perlman needs to be the new Nolan North, his voice is effing awesome.
  • CandiedJester - July 29, 2010 3:49 p.m.

    YES!!! YES YES YES YES. *jumps up and down* Pans Labyrinth is on my top ten favorite movies of all time. I LOVE DEL TORO. He has my money for games already. I don't know what he will make, but I know it WILL be amazing. <333
  • DustyRooster - July 29, 2010 3:27 p.m.

    Del Toro is one of my top five favorite (or favourite, for you Dave) directors. Each of his scenes look like they could be a painting, or a comic book splash panel. Everything in Del Toro's movies is very deliberate, and wonderful. The only worry that I have, is an interview with Del Torro I saw when the Hellboy game came out. He says that he really liked the Hellboy game, and games where you just punch stuff the whole time. I hope that is not what it comes down to. But I still have plenty of hope.

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