The month of May is filled with lots of exciting opportunities, like AAPI heritage celebrations, mental health awareness discussions, and for gaming enthusiasts, there’s a new special event in Rainbow Six Extraction called Nightmare Fog.
And while I was working on stories about the contributions of Asian Americans to mainstream American culture and researching more about Nightmare Fog – the second limited-time Crisis Event since R6E’s launch – I learned that the lead scriptwriter for Rainbow Six Extraction is Linda Nguyen, who also happens to be Vietnamese Canadian.
Surely, this was a sign from REACT HQ that my main mission is to tell as many people as I can about how awesome Linda is, and how she’s blazed her own trail in the gaming industry while simultaneously swinging Sledge’s hammer to smash the model minority myth.
Linda wrote for Rainbow Six Siege and Far Cry 5 before reporting for duty on Rainbow Six Extraction. Prior to her role as Scriptwriter, she was the Legal Coordinator for the Narrative Team on Watch Dogs 2, where she also named all the 3D-printed guns in the game. Linda’s motivation to write for interactive mediums comes from all of the games she played while working as a development tester.
The Rainbow Six franchise has been a staple of the gaming industry (I first played the original Rainbow Six back in 1998), so I’m super excited to share this exclusive interview with Linda Nguyen, Lead Scriptwriter at Ubisoft and an integral part of the efforts in crafting the unique and memorable world of Rainbow Six.
Hi Linda! Could you please share with us a bit about your background, and what inspired you to become a scriptwriter at Ubisoft?
Nguyen: At the studio, I wrote for different brands, such as Watch Dogs, Far Cry, and Rainbow Six. I was in a good spot where I could bring what I learned from Rainbow Six Siege over to Extraction, and still do in the capacity of Lead Scriptwriter. Before writing for games, I was a game tester and pursued an MFA in Creative Writing (at separate times).
As for what inspired me, it’s the desire to tell stories, craft new worlds, expand on an array of characters… and writing for games allows me to do all that. Add to that my childhood experience of getting a second-hand Gameboy DMG—the original grey handheld console—and here I am today.
What is a scriptwriter typically responsible for? Do you also craft scripted events in addition to dialogue?
Nguyen: Scriptwriters are responsible for written text and voice overs, from Operators shouting “reloading!” to Ash telling you the next steps to complete an objective. Scripts are needed for the cinematics, and a writer had to spend time coming up with names for weapon skins and bundles too.
Scriptwriters also have shared responsibilities with other game devs when it comes to a game’s story and how the player experiences the game. It takes a lot of people with expertise from so many fields to make a game like Extraction.
Depending on the game production, Event Scripters and/or Designers are usually involved to craft scripted events. To further answer your question: While there are certainly game devs who are both Writers and Narrative Designers, there are also those who specialize in one over the other. On Extraction, I’m a writer first.
Nightmare Fog is a really intense scenario, and the dialogue complements the story as well as provides practical hints/tutorials for the player. How do you balance the atmospheric and utilitarian needs of the dialogue to keep the player immersed?
Nguyen: The writing needs to convey both the gameplay information and the high level of urgency brought on by this crisis. Ash leads the incursions from the Pioneer, the mobile base of operations, and when she tells you what to do in the field, she’s to the point. You can’t dilly-dally in the Nightmare Fog.
Of course, the tense atmosphere can’t solely be credited to the writing. The design, art, audio, VFX… so many elements contribute to the player’s experience of the Nightmare Fog. Where the writing can be succinct, this allows these other elements to shape the experience and the narrative.
Many nations are represented in the selection of R6E Operators — how does this affect how the script is crafted for an event like Nightmare Fog?
Nguyen: Operators follow the same rules of engagement as they normally would for regular incursions. Operator lines don’t need to change, although these squads do have to deal with added challenges, such as seeing hallucinations and managing their Neurotoxin Levels.
The situation, however, is drastically different because it’s a new crisis and there are new objectives. New lines were written for Ash, INDEX, and the PA System.
Are there any fun Easter eggs/hidden dialogues that we should be on the lookout for in Nightmare Fog?
Nguyen: I’m not at liberty to say, although each Crisis Event adds crucial intel for players to collect which further explains the Parasite’s presence in the world of Extraction. REACT and its Operators still have work ahead of them and they need all hands-on deck to deal with this crisis.
Experience Linda and her team’s creativity for yourself by jumping into the limited-time Nightmare Fog event!
From May 12th until June 2nd, venture into the mysterious purple haze with your squad and destroy the source of this noxious fog. Taking your time to define the most efficient route and action plan will be paramount because the longer you stay in the fog, the higher your Neurotoxin levels will be, which leads to adverse affects like hallucinations, distorted vision, and ultimately, the loss of health every five seconds.
There are a few fog-free safe areas throughout each map, and you can use Neurostims to decrease your poison levels, but moving quickly is still your best strategy. Those who survive the fog will be rewarded with items like a new REACT Rush Pistol, new cosmetic items for operators and weapons, and 1 Meta Study, to name a few. Nightmare Fog also introduces the Prestige level system, which unlocks the previous level cap by adding 10 new Prestige progression levels and accompanying rewards.
In my early playthroughs, I found Nightmare Fog to be the most challenging and nerve-wracking Crisis Event yet. The added layer of urgency plus the confusion caused by the hallucinations creates lots of tense and memorable moments — my favorite so far is listening to my squadmate continuously ask an empty room, “Are you real?!” Clearly, she was hallucinating, and only she can see her imaginary friends. I felt like I was in a horror movie.