DGC Ep 133: Bonus Interview with SotTR Lead Writer Jill Murray

Welcome to Dev Game Club, where we look back to Shadows of the Tomb Raider for a special bonus episode featuring Lead Writer Jill Murray. We talk about how the writing gets done -- spoilers, there's a lot more planning than writing -- as well as all sorts of topics that grow from that. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.

Issues covered: lacking access to technology, Jill's early career in visual arts/music/theater, staging a big musical, web development and a mismatch of needs, being non-distracted by the Internet, realizing that someone is writing these things, getting in, having to generate a lot of AC in a short time, the roles of writers, the meaning of a lead writer, leading a team vs being a principal writer, focusing on character and voice, writers holding multiple roles, writers working alongside one another vs a writers room, working with designers vs writers, splitting content responsibilities up, sharing a few systems, accommodating multiple styles, the team still tells the story, the impact of the team on the storytelling, choice of verbs impacting possible stories, lack of authorial control, having no sense of the size of a team, out-sourced studios enlarging the team, pros and cons of working with big teams, working with actors, the luxury of performance capture, security of the company being your security, production and collaboration style driving lifestyle, combative styles, smaller games less reliable, working out collaboration afresh, broader responsibilities, figuring out how everything fits to drive the actual sitting down and writing, lots of meetings, working on animatics, prepping for performance capture, multiple revisions with critiques of up to a dozen people, planning to prepare due to cost, attending performance capture shoots, going over the scripts again and again, having a full crew to move equipment/manage cameras/aid talent/feed everyone/set up mocap, observing as a writer, talking with the performance director to avoid getting in the way of the actor/director relationship, read-throughs, doing the cinematography afterwards, having a little more freedom with the character, reaching the end of this first journey, strength in vulnerability, leaning into awkwardness in a scene, being limited in what we're allowed to choose because it having to be badass, adding dimensionality to characters, expanding the medium into new audiences, audience not realizing what they want, community management and development, how game writing is like Gatorade, audience empathy, your responsibility to the player, provoking anger and fear, aftercare, thinking about how we care for a player after we've provoked strong, games as services, seeing yourself represented, being someone else, making games not just for ourselves, bringing other voices into the room, reaching the status of a Lara Croft, dating in a seniors residence, the Star Trek holodeck.

Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: UbiSoft, Assassin's Creed (series), Writer's Guild of America, Kitfox Games, Moon Hunters, Minority Media, Time Machine VR, Lawbreakers, Tomb Raider, Montreal Fringe Festival, Minesweeper, Xbox, Mass Effect (series), Ann Lemay, WB Games, Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012, Richard Farrese, Republic Commando, Jedi Starfighter, Bethesda Game Studios, Darby McDevitt, Eidos, Camilla Luddington, Gray's Anatomy, Virginie Costa, David Hubert, Crystal Dynamics, Gatorade, Kotaku, Skyrim, Kirk Hamilton, Evan Narcisse, James Bond, Batman, Bloom Digital, Later Gators, DreamDaddy, Golden Girls, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Boyfriend Dungeon, Meagan Marie, Women in Gaming: 100 Professionals of Play, Chinese Independent Game Developers Association Conference.

Next time:
Next time we return to Thief: The Dark Project, through "Undercover"

You can find Jill on Twitter at @disco_jill and via her company website, https://discoglo.be.

@brett_douville, @timlongojr, and @devgameclub