John Meadows Interview

27 Nov

McElroy Flavelle
John Meadows is a man of many talents. He’s a screen writer, game designer and a teacher at VFS in both the writing and game design programs.
John is just wrapping up his work as one of the three writers on the new LOST game, developed by Ubisoft Montreal and based on the Mega Hit ABC TV series.
We had a chance to sit down with John and pluck his brain about a wide range of fascinating stuff.

There’s a ton of game designers around but you have the exalted role of game writer. For the creative people involved in this industry that really is a rare opportunity. How did you make it happen?

We’ll the two most important things are pretty obvious. Firstly you have to like playing games. Secondly, you have to know how to tell a good story. Classic literature training helps here, an understanding of character arcs, the hero’s journey and such.
For me personally it was actually my time teaching at VFS that got my foot in the door at Ubisoft and I haven’t looked back since.

What exactly do you do as a game writer?

I’m not sure I know myself.
I’m just kidding of course, there’s actually a ton of stuff that needs to be written. Obviously the over arching story but a lot of nitty gritty as well. All the cut scenes, NPCs, in game diary and logs, tutorials, quest logs. And the dialogue needs to be written and there’s a writer present the whole time they’re recording down in LA. There was three of us writers and they’re all needed, a full game like this is a huge project.

What kind of details can you give us about the LOST game?

That’s the big question these days. And obviously most of it is highly guarded. I can tell you it’s a third person action adventure game but not necessarily what you would imagine as far as previous Ubisoft games. We’ve put a really heavy narrative flow to it which gives it a bit of an RPG taste.

As far as the story goes I can tell you it takes place across the first two seasons and creeps into the third. The player controls one of the “back ground” crash survivors.

Oh and the when they release season 3 on December 11 there’s going to be a “Making of the Game” feature! In fact it was even on Youtube for a couple of days before Disney pulled it.

Maple Syrup or Poutine?

Do I have to choose? A truly complete French Canadian day starts with the syrup and end up with a post-pub poutine, tiding you over till the next day’s maple flows again.

What kind of things did you notice that were different about the Montreal game community versus here in Vancouver?

Well there’s really thriving communities in both obviously. I guess if anything maybe there’s something to do with the big studios in each city. Montreal has Ubisoft who are known for a real craftsmanship in games and immersive player experience. EA on the other hand is all about iteration on great game play, and I think maybe the local communities kind of reflect that.

What’s the best game you’ve picked up in the last couple of months?

Hmmm. Like a lot of people in the game industry I’m a little bit behind on the new titles. I’d probably have to say Medieval: Total War. And as far as story goes I’d probably say Bioshock.

What’s the most over rated game you’ve played lately?

That’s a tough one. I’ve had the good fortune of playing a lot of good games lately. I’d probably have to say Halo 3 though. It was a great game obviously but, well there wasn’t much new you know? It was lots of fun but so was Halo 2.

Starbucks or Tim Hortons?

That’s not fair! I love them both.

Now that you’ve got a AAA major title under your belt which opens a lot of doors. What do you see yourself taking on next?

I don’t know exactly. What I like is that I have power to pick and choose projects. The most important aspect of liking your job is being passionate about the project and enjoying the people. Really it’s about the people. Working on Lost was definitely a career high, Ubisoft is a great place to work. Maybe I’ll focus on my film projects. It’s nice to have these options.

Thanks for your time John!

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5 Responses to “John Meadows Interview”

  1. Jeff November 28, 2007 at 4:54 pm #

    Great interview!

  2. McElroy Flavelle November 28, 2007 at 8:23 pm #

    Thanks Jeff.

    We’ve got some other exciting interviews in the works so stay posted.

    You can also check out an interview I did for with Dallas Snell Director of Business Development at NcSoft America.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. John Meadows interviews Sean Smillie « Vancouver Game Design - December 18, 2007

    […] with John Meadows while he interviewed Sean Smillie. John was one of the writers on the LOST game, you can find an interview with him here. Sean is the lead designer and writer at Action Pants a Vancouver Development studio, though the […]

  2. Inside Vancouver Film School - Writing the LOST Game - January 9, 2008

    […] more from John, check out the interview on Vancouver Game Design by VFS Game Design student McElroy […]

  3. Interviews « Vancouver Game Design - January 16, 2008

    […] is where you can find the interview with John Meadows writer on Ubisoft’s LOST […]

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