Dead Rising 4

I was the Lead Writer for Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 4, an open-world action-brawler for the XBOX and PC (also several other unreleased projects). As Lead Writer, I was personally responsible for all story and writing in the game, and I managed a team of two writers during the process.

On this game, I really focused on the process of producing a game story. The greatest drama the world has ever known isn’t worth the .fdx it’s written on if you can’t navigate it through the meat-grinder of game production. So in that respect, I worked hard to collaborate closely with mission, world, narrative, and game designers so the story was in sync with the game. I developed reams of documentation and contributed to the production process in every way I could. I managed relationships with execs, PMs, artists and employees. The timelines were  tight (very) and the resources were scarce (aren’t they always).

In the end, we produced a game story that rated positively across all the major review sites. Some of my favourite opinions:

“For a game that’s all about mindless zombie murder, the storytelling is remarkably adept. Frank and Vick’s relationship feels nuanced and believable. The central mystery consistently metes out new clues that keep the plot intriguing and the action meaningful. And though Frank isn’t always likable, he’s frequently relatable and entertaining, spouting goofy, smart-assed quips at every opportunity. There’s also a coherent personality that binds every aspect of the experience together. From the dark, satirical humor of the collectible journals to the jaunty holiday music that plays over the pause screen, Dead Rising’s juxtaposition of slaughter and silliness makes for a memorable world.” – Scott Butterworth, Gamespot

“I’m impressed with the detailed presentation and careful consideration that went into both the world and the story. It would’ve been easy to go full slapstick with this ridiculous premise of yet another zombie outbreak, running down the same road that Saints Row took in later games in the series. But Capcom has balanced the absurdity with equal parts of intelligence and feeling. And for every trying-too-hard line of dialogue like, “Well, set my balls on fire,” that Frank blurts out, there’s a moment of wit or compassion or genuinely loveable buffoonery that becomes the antidote to the obnoxiousness.

And the quiet mystery at the heart of Dead Rising 4 is much more involved and compelling than it needs to be for a game that lets you tape a Segway to a golf cart to build a “Bogey Monster” death machine. There’s much more than a cut-and-dry “Oh no, the zombies are back,” plot at work here, with both callbacks to the original Dead Rising and characters that have more than one layer to them.” – Brandin Tyrell, IGN

“When Dead Rising 4 works, it’s because it steadfastly refuses to take itself seriously. Frank is 16 years older now and looks and grumbles (thanks to a new voice actor) a little like Joel from the PS4′s The Last Of Us, but even though he journeys back to fictional Willamette, Colorado with student Vick Chu, the lightweight but enjoyable tale is never weighed down with musings on surrogate fatherhood and hope. Neither is it entirely dismissible, even though it largely dumps the main conspiracy premise a handful of chapters in, as it handles its characterizations well. Frank drops lines about setting his balls on fire and other wisecracks, but there’s enough gravity mixed in with the goofiness to make the relationships seem believable.” – Leif Johnson, PC Gamer

“The writing is so strong, so tight and so flavorful. They’ve played such loving attention to having him realized as the buffoon – this Michael Douglas from Romancing the Stone … you want the best for him but you know from the very first moment that Frank West is likely not going to make it.” – The Fourth Player