Develop Live: The making of Bedlam

Author Christopher Brookmyre tells the story of how RedBedlam's game came to life
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During a packed Develop Live session, author Christopher Brookmyre discussed how the idea of satiricial FPS Bedlam emerged and the influences behind the title.

Brookmyre has a history in writing books influenced by classic video games, such as the Doom 3-inspired Pandaemonium.

It was this book that sparked RedBedlam marketing director Nick Witcher to contact the author with what Brookmyre described as an empassioned email to get the autor involved in game development with the company.

Brookmyre quipped however that it did not need such a long email - as he was hooked by the idea of game development straight away.

It was at this point the novelist said he realised how well regarded writers are in the game industry - particularly after Witcher didn't believe he was calling back on the phone.

Brookmyre said that after the initial meeting, the idea behind Bedlam was to look at the role games had played in their lives, how their relationships changed with them, and how games themselves had evolved - such as the move from run and gun shooters to the use of cover mechanices, for example.

Running with this dea, Brookmyre thought of setting the title within the world of a video game. But to make it different from other entertainment media using the concept, such as Tron, he decided the world would not revolve around the character, but the player would be "a nobody, or worse, the bad guy".

The game was eventually pitched via a 13,000 word document, which eventually became the basis of the Bedlam book itself, and also helped attract funding for the game.

Despite having a basis for the title, developer Red Bedlam had to make the game on a budget of £500,000, resulting in compromises and some narrative changes.

For example, part of the book is set in an open world racing game, a genre the title's budget wouldn't allow for.

One of the key decisions in the game and book was choosing the protagonist. Brookmyre settled on using a woman scientist, voiced by Scottish actress 

which also helped create what he called an "affectionate satire" on FPSs and gaming culture, given the depictions of fmelae characters in the past and, in some cases, the marginalisation of women in gaming culture. The voice over for the character was performed by Scottish actress Kirsty Strain.

Having worked ont he project and had it released on Steam Early Access earlier this year, Brookmyre described the experience of working with Red Bedlam as a dream come true.

"It's been schoolboy dream stuff for me," he said. "I grew up playing these games, and now i've been able to make my own FPS."

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