Dev Profile: Writer Jeffrey Campbell
At Capcom Vancouver we’re proud of the games that we make and even more proud about the people we get to make them with. Today we’re taking a look at one of those people behind the games as we sit down with Dead Rising 4's Lead Writer Jeffrey Campbell.
What does a Lead Writer do?
The Lead Writer is responsible for developing the game’s story and for writing all the scenes, dialogue and text. There may be other writers involved, and there are of course other factors, but whether the story is “good” or not is largely up to the Lead Writer.
What’s your typical work week look like?
On the surface, it’s not much different from any other office job. I have meetings, I work at my desk, and I spend too much time refilling my coffee in the lunchroom.
That said, 50% of the work is about maximizing the impact of emotional drama – whether that’s being a perfectionist about dialogue, helping the mission designers to get the timing just right, or debating character arcs with other writers. The other 50% is spent discussing and planning the production method. That’s really the more pivotal bit.
How did you get into the gaming industry?
Long story short: I went to school for writing, entered a related line of work (writing/designing content for online marketing), and eventually side-stepped over into games. My first job was at Propaganda Games, which was making a pirate RPG at the time. I convinced them to hire me by creating a story mod for Neverwinter Nights (it was about vikings). A few studios liked it enough to offer me a job, and Propaganda was my ultimate preference.
What part of your job gets you most excited?
Actually, this relates to an earlier question. In a “typical” week, new problems are always revealing themselves, and we spend countless hours devising new techniques to mitigate them. While I love writing stories, I really don’t take for granted how dynamic and unpredictable a regular week can be. Keeps me coming back.
What about Capcom Vancouver gets you most excited?
They make action-adventures with a prominent story component. I had a studio director once lay out all the reasons people like working in games: cool office, prestige, neat social-sphere, etc. But for me, it’s really about the project. I just want to make and write cool stuff. Maybe win an award.
What’s your favourite place in Vancouver?
Errm, other than my own house, I’ll have to go with The Templeton. It’s a great little retro diner on Granville street, downtown. It’s crammed between a pile of pawn shops, XXX stores, and abandoned storefronts – perhaps not the most flattering side of Vancouver but I appreciate a little colour. I’ve spent a lot of evenings there, drinking pitchers of Raven Cream and talking like I know stuff. Good breakfast too – go for the Saturday morning cartoons.
What's your favourite video game?
I think Witcher 3 has stolen my heart. Before that, I would have said Baldur’s Gate 2 or even Wing Commander. But Witcher 3 has all the right stuff: vicious action, a beautiful world and a ripping yarn. The story design is also really, really impressive. I’d love to get under the hood and see just how their narrative process worked.
Here’s hoping Cyberpunk 2077 doesn’t disappoint.
What do you do outside of games?
Well, I’m in the middle of raising two young boys, so that’s the boring answer. I get a little time to play some RPGs with friends (we’re just getting into Shadowrun now) and I’ve been working on a pile of personal projects since, oh, 1845. Fingers crossed I finish a few before senility sets in.
Sorry, what was the question?