Filmmaking Alumni Release Video Game

Felix van Kann
October 28, 2019

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint, a video game written by filmmaking alumni Jesse Gustafson '15Nic Yulo '18William Welles '17 and Ajani Jackson '15, among others, was released on October 4 on PS4 and Xbox One.

“Somewhere in the South Pacific lies the remote Auroa Archipelago, a vast land of diverse biomes that range from lush rainforests to snowy peaks,” according to the game’s website. “Now, it’s home to Skell Technology, an enigmatic technology giant. Initially interested in a remote testing site for its autonomous drones, the Silicon Valley company eventually turned Auroa into its ‘World 2.0,’ a high-tech, high-security utopia of sustainable eco-cities and robotics research.”

“The writing itself is most similar in terms of plot structure. Where it deviates in the format of the scripts. Though they resemble screenplays, the scripts are the root of many tasks for other teams, with the capacity to trigger Animation and A.I., for example,” Nic Yulo told me when asked about  the differences between writing for film versus a video game. “You are also working directly with Narrative Designers, Character Designers, Realization, Motion Capture, etc. so there's a lot to take into account when drafting a scene. The biggest and most enjoyable difference between writing for video games and film is the fact that, to a large degree, you don't have to worry about budget constraints. The game may be grounded in a very real military arena, but the world is one of fiction and fantasy.” 

According to Yulo, the writers are not based in the same city, but share story ideas in a virtual Writer’s Room. “The game is open world and requires a staggering amount of content, so the writers are in constant communication with the Narrative Designers to plan the story arcs. We all bring something specific to the table, and our different backgrounds tend to inform the missions we design,” she explained.   

Nic Yulo is a two-time Adobe Design Achievement Award winning writer and director based in New York. A New York Women in Film & Television Scholarship Awardee, her work has advanced to the final rounds of the BlueCat Screenplay Competition, The Film Independent Directing Lab, the Sundance Development Track, and has been featured at the Sloan Film Summit presented by Film Independent. Her limited series Night Witches, inspired by teenage bomber pilots active in WWII, was named Faculty Selects at the Columbia University MFA Film Festival and received an Alfred P. Sloan Screenwriting Award, is in development. 

Ajani Jackson earned his Screenwriting MFA from Columbia University where his short projects received the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Short Film Award and the Everest Entertainment Development Award before playing at film festivals around the world. His screenplay, The Secret Life of Margaret Grey, made it to the second round of consideration for the Sundance Feature Screenwriting Lab. Currently, Ajani is writing for the videogame Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, he has a script in development at Circle of Confusion and a television series in development with eOne and Cedar Park Entertainment (David Ayer and Chris Long’s company).

Jesse Gustaffson is a writer and director from Tampa, Florida. His feature script Ace of Spades was a Semi-Finalist in the 2014 Nicholls Fellowship and a Finalist at the 2014 Austin Film Festival script competition. His short film Day 39 premiered at the 2015 Columbia Film Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City where the film won Faculty Honors as well as Jesse's second IFP Audience Choice Award. Prior to the festival, the film was given development awards by the Tribeca Film Institute and Light Iron. Day 39 was a finalist at the 42nd Annual Student Academy Awards, making it one of the top seven student films in the US in 2015. In 2016, Jesse directed Black Site Delta starring Cam Gigandet. The film premiered theatrically in 2017 and is currently available on Netflix. Jesse resides in Los Angeles.

Will Welles is a Brooklyn-based Filmmaker who received his MFA in Screenwriting/Directing at Columbia University in 2017. He is currently in development on Rustlands, a feature adaptation of his award winning short film Rust in Peace. Welles’ films have shown at multiple film festivals like the Bermuda International Film Festival, the Fantasia Film Festival and the Boston Underground Festival.