Q& A

CHRISTOFER EMGÅRD

EDGE - - ON REFLECTION - Writer and nar­ra­tive di­rec­tor, DICE

Christofer Emgård (left) is a writer who started out in theatre and movies, and also spent time re­view­ing games in Swe­den, be­fore join­ing Ubisoft Mas­sive (then Mas­sive En­ter­tain­ment) ten years ago. He spent seven years with the stu­dio, work­ing on ti­tles such as World Of Con­flict, be­fore join­ing the Mir­ror’s Edge Cat­a­lyst project three years ago. Did you have any con­cerns about tak­ing the project on in light of the first game’s crit­i­cisms? We had a pretty clear idea of what those crit­i­cisms were, and how to im­prove on them. I was brought on board af­ter the project was green­lit, and they [DICE] knew that they wanted to know more about Faith, who she is, and why she does the things that she does. And also that she should be more in­volved in the world, and the choices she makes have more of an im­pact in that world. So it was pretty clear what the in­tent was, and then it was a case of try­ing to re­alise it. In among all that, Faith’s char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion was al­ready strong. How did you feel about get­ting to work with those foun­da­tions? Hum­bled! De­spite the crit­i­cism of the first game, there’s no doubt that she’s had an im­pact on the in­dus­try just by be­ing the way she is and look­ing the way she does. Go­ing into her past and try­ing to un­der­stand her bet­ter has been one of the most en­joy­able parts of cre­at­ing the sto­ry­line for this game. I’ve worked with her for al­most three years now, and she’s changed a lit­tle bit along the way, but I’m very happy with the out­come. Did the suc­cess of Lara Croft’s re­boot and ori­gin story have any bear­ing on your work? I wouldn’t say what Tomb Raider did specif­i­cally in­spired us, but I think both [Crys­tal Dy­nam­ics] and us are ap­proach­ing this in re­la­tion to what’s hap­pen­ing with sto­ry­telling in gen­eral. TV has evolved over the last ten to 15 years, and we have more com­plex char­ac­ter stud­ies now. Way back, Lara Croft was much more flat – she was an ad­ven­turer with a curvy body, and her deeper mo­ti­va­tions weren’t re­ally that in­ter­est­ing to any­body. In all sorts of medi­ums we’re see­ing that kind of sim­plis­tic char­ac­ter be­com­ing rare – I even miss them in a way, be­cause I think there’s a nice sim­plic­ity to that kind of sto­ry­telling. But I think with Lara Croft and for what we’ve now done with Faith, we’ve been in­spired by that idea of go­ing deeper into who th­ese char­ac­ters are, and think­ing about if th­ese types of heroes could ex­ist for real. And if they did, what would be their back­ground, and how would they func­tion? Be­cause ob­vi­ously they’re in­volved in some level of vi­o­lence and so on – how do they han­dle that?

How in­volved were you with the cast­ing process?

Com­ing from movies and theatre, I love the re­al­i­sa­tion part – the act­ing and all that sort of stuff. I used to do more di­rect­ing when I was at Mas­sive, but we had a won­der­ful di­rec­tor called Tom Kee­gan work­ing with us on Cat­a­lyst. He and I started on the project at al­most the same time, so he’s been deeply in­volved in the script de­vel­op­ment process. When the time came for cast­ing, he and I looked at all the ac­tors for the dif­fer­ent roles to­gether and then made our picks. Usu­ally when we find some­one it’s pretty clear that they’re the right per­son for the role, but with that said, I think we were lucky this time around. We got a won­der­ful cast, and the chem­istry be­tween them is some­thing I’m very pleased with.

In a game so fo­cused on free­ing the player, do you think there’s more fric­tion be­tween the nar­ra­tive and open world play?

Yes, there is. That’s a con­stant… maybe it’s a trade­off. But not nec­es­sar­ily. I work very closely with the game de­sign team. The main im­pact that a game like this has on sto­ry­telling in­volves pac­ing. It’s up to the player: you play a main mis­sion, and then maybe go out and ex­plore for a while, or you go straight into the next mis­sion. But as a writer I can’t know what your next choice will be. There are dif­fer­ent ways to ap­proach that.

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