In depth with the narrative designer of Ghost Recon Wildlands

02/10/2015 10:00 AM

Recently, we were able to catch up with Sam Strachman, the Ubisoft Paris Narrative Designer for Ghost Recon Wildlands. He was able to give us some incredible insight into what went into making sure that Wildlands was as an authentic experience as possible. We are excited to debrief you on what we were able to find out.

Tom Clancy did an amazing job creating a rich and full world. How does Ghost Recon Wildlands fit into the overall Clancy mythos?

Sam: Since the beginning, we’ve put a massive amount of thought and brainstorming into what it means to be part of the Clancyverse. The thing we came away with is that every Clancy novel, game, and movie asks “What if?” For us, that question is “What if Mexican cartels came to Bolivia, one of the largest coca leaf producers in the world?”

What kind of research has been done to make these Ghosts feel as if they are operating behind enemy lines with no official ties to support or logistics?

Sam: We’ve spent the past several years really focused on researching drug cartels, Bolivia, and Special Operations. We’ve watched every documentary we could get our hands and read every book we could find. We constantly check a number of blogs, including a few run by real cartels. We went to Bolivia where we spoke with drug smugglers and watched the military burn down clandestine cocaine labs. We did training exercises with Special Forces guys and spoke at great length with a variety of Spec Ops guys to understand how these operations work in real life. We even went to the CIA Headquarters in Virginia and spoke at length with officers, including one who had been focused on Latin American and the situation in Bolivia for about 5 years. Although the Agency doesn't endorse any particular project, we were told that our research was on-target and the scenarios we considered may be possible given the right circumstances. Last but definitely not least, some of our writers have had first-hand encounters with real cartels.

How have real-world efforts against the drug trade impacted the story of Ghost Recon Wildlands?

Sam: The story of Ghost Recon Wildlands is of course a work of fiction, but is heavily influenced by the “War on Drugs”, in terms of recent events but especially in regards to the past fifty years. What makes Bolivia so interesting is how the War on Drugs has affected its cultural and political development. It has a long and difficult history involving numerous dictators, an ancient relationship to the coca leaf, and even Nazi captain Klaus Barbie. The War on Drugs is a massively complex issue with no clear solution or end in sight. We do our best to explore as many angles as we possibly can.
Were any real life Special Operations Forces consulted during the writing process?

Sam: Thanks to Travis Getz at Red Storm, we’ve been consulting with a large number of civilian and military advisors. Some active, some retired. They’re from various US Special Operations backgrounds as well as Special Forces, DEA and others. In a few cases, they’re not allowed to divulge their backgrounds or even their names because they’re still very active.

We would really like to thank Sam for taking time to talk to us. Keep tuned in, as we will be releasing more information soon as to what makes Ghost Recon Wildlands a truly immersive, Tom Clancy experience.
For more information on Authenticity, make sure to watch our newly released video! Also, don’t forget to join in on the conversations on our Official Forums and our subreddit!

The Ghost Recon dev team


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