This week I had the opportunity to interview Clandestine: Anomaly co-writer Joshua Ortega. Throughout his career Josh has written for many high profile franchises including (but not limited to) Star Wars, Spider-Man, Batman, The Escapist, and The Necromancer. Joshua is most known for writing Epic Games 2008 military sci-fi shooter Gears of War 2, as well as his graphic novel series The Other Dead which is currently being developed into a television series by Animal Planet.


First off, a hard ball question. What games have you been playing lately and what do you think of them?

JO: I was a bit late to Minecraft, but started playing last year and I think it’s just amazing, especially when you combine the power of Hololens with the game and factor in the social power of the world(s). Just a genius game and experience, all around, and honestly, some of the most fun I’ve had with a game. I was also very impressed with Starbreeze’s The Walking Dead VR experience…excellent narrative told within a virtual setting, very effective and pretty damn horrific. Also, I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on Cuphead, the visuals look incredible!


There are a lot of Gears of War fans here at ZenFri and we’re all very excited to have worked on Clandestine: Anomaly with you! But I’m curious, how did you get involved with the project and what attracted you to it?

JO: A mutual friend, David Greene, introduced Corey and I, knowing we were both interested in AR and storytelling…I had a great initial conversation with Corey while in L.A., we hit it off, and everything just kind of flowed from there.


How does working on an indie project like this compare with some of the other larger IP’s (Star Wars, Gears, Spider-Man etc) that you’ve worked on?

JO: A bit more of a frontier, especially because of the AR nature of the game…kind of like figuring out how to fly after you’ve jumped off the cliff, though not in a bad way, just a need to be very flexible along the way and adapt and adjust as necessary.


Clandestine: Anomaly is specifically about the Player’s adventure, in their neighbourhood and on their device. What were the challenges of writing a compelling narrative without knowing any details about your lead protagonist, or where the story takes place?

JO: Challenging but very interesting…and as Corey and I have talked about before, so much of this is about empowering the player, our job in many ways is to be a tour guide as much as a story teller.


Clandestine: Anomaly’s story is designed to span across multiple mediums beyond that of gaming. Should the IP take off, what are you most looking forward to about this multimedia story and its future?

JO: Honestly? All of it! Looking forward to not only working on more of the universe, but also very curious to see what Corey comes up with!


Who is your favourite Clandestine: Anomaly character, and why?

JO: Keith is probably the most interesting to me…for reasons I can’t fully say yet, but boy, this guy has a long history! 😉


What does story telling bring to augmented reality experiences?

JO: In some cases familiarity for new technology adoption, in other cases simply a way to connect people to their culture, art, and ultimately, their life experience.


Inversely, what does augmented realty bring to story telling that can’t be better done in other mediums?

JO: Immersion on a level never seen before, and opportunities to do narrative things that are completely novel.


Artists often flourish when provided with parameters to work within. In what ways did the current limitations of AR technology impact your writing?

JO: As Corey can attest, it kept it constantly interesting! And hopefully for all of the community, it kept it vibrant, different, and interesting!


What other projects have you been working on recently?

JO: I’ve also been working on The Other Dead comic book, TV show, and video game, a project I co-created with Digger Mesch and which also involved artists such as Kevin Eastman (the creator of TMNT). We’re looking at a 2016 release for the show on Animal Planet, and comic book sequels and games to follow after…also reunited with Cliff Bleszinski (Gears creator) on Project Bluestreak, and we’re having a blast on that one. Cliff’s a rare genius in the field, and I think people are gonna be pretty amazed when they see what he’s cooking up!


Final question. If you could say one thing to a Player to get them primed to play, what would it be?

JO: Explore your world. Engage in something new. Welcome to the Clandestine future…it’s all around you. 🙂