Interview Morten Brunbjerg – Lead Writer (Forgotton Anne)

1/ Hi Morten, it is possible to introduce you ? Specifically, your path before ThroughLine Games

Sure.

Hi, my name is Morten Brunbjerg. I live in Copenhagen in Denmark and I’m a freelance game writer. I’ve been making a living writing since 2011. Being a freelancer, I’m not permanently connected to a single game studio. I’ve been writing for many productions during the past years. From small mobile productions to AAA.

 

2/ What is a job of Lead Writer ? What look like a day’s work ?

As lead writer, you have the main responsibility for the overall narrative structure. In preproduction, this means developing the story itself with the team. The entire team will often pitch in with great ideas, but in the end, you’re the one advising the director on what direction to take. On small productions, being the lead writer also means that you’ll do most of the writing yourself. On a typical day in the Forgotton Anne production, I’d read the design notes for the level, which often had detailed suggestions from the designers. I then executed the ideas as dialogue or screenwriting so it would fit with the main story. I spent my days writing a lot of interactive dialogue and having meetings with game and level designers. Perhaps 80% of my time all through the production was spent writing dialogue. And I loved it!

 

3/ What is the role of writing, of words for you in video games ?

I think writing is tremendously important. We all know story because we’re all humans. We don’t need to know anything about dramatic structure to spot when there’s a plot hole and we know instantly when there’s a problem with a character’s motivation. We’re experts in spotting these things because that’s what human beings do all day every day. We interact with others. You simply can’t get away with superficial stories and flat characters anymore – if you ever really could.

 

4/ Do you have video games who inspire you in your work ?

I’m always inspired by productions with strong characters. I enjoyed The Last of Us a lot, and also the relationship between human and animal in the Last Guardian. The story world of Horizon Zero Dawn is amazing. My source inspiration has roots in 90’s adventure games like Monkey Island, Beneath a Steel Sky, and many of the old Lucas Arts productions I played while I was young.

 

5/ Are you interested in other forms of expression ? Literature I imagine, but also movies, series, painting, music

All storytelling inspires and interests me. I also write for other productions than video games. I love movies and TV-shows. Music plays a big role for me when I need to come up with story ideas. I’ve always loved writing to music and completely burying myself in a universe. I was super excited when I found out that Peter Due’s beautiful music for Forgotton Anne would be recorded live by Copenhagen Philharmonic Orchestra. I think music (and sound in general) in games play a huge role in the telling of a story. I always speak a lot with the composer of the production I write for if I have the possibility. For me, story and music are closely linked.

 

6/ What’s an idea for a writer in video game ? Is it possible that a game exist by an idea of writing ? Not a concept, a gameplay, but a world of words traduced after by a mechanical and emotional system, interactive expression

In my experience, it varies from company to company how they start their productions. Some start with a cool gameplay idea, others with a world, others again with characters. I’m positive that a game can spring from story or a character alone. I’m not sure a game world built entirely on mechanical and emotional systems would be that enjoyable. If it imitates life too precisely it won’t be fun. Storytelling is always larger than life.

 

7/ For your next games, ThroughLine Games and you are you interested by narration non-linear ? Because Forgotton Anne stays a linear experience. There are two endings. But the heart of the game stays linear (and it’s not negative)

I can’t talk about future Throughlines Projects, it’s still too early for that. I can only say that Throughline Games are passionate about creating beautiful story driven games with strong characters and will continue to work in that direction as far as I know. I have no problem with complex and non-linear storytelling, if done right it can be amazing. It is however not often you experience it in smaller indie games because open worlds and non-linear storytelling are often more expensive to develop.

 

8/ What is your dream for video games ?

I want to keep writing stories with something to say. As long as I get an opportunity to tell stories about being human, I’m hooked. I’ve been lucky enough to work together with some very talented teams during the past years and I hope that will continue – that way I learn something new every day.

 

Forgotton Anne is actually nominated for a Golden Joystick Award for Best Storytelling. If you want to vote : https://www.gamesradar.com/goldenjoystickawards/#best-storytelling

 

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