Tributes paid to ‘a dear friend and brilliant colleague’
Russell Lees, playwright; scriptwriter; and a Ubisoft Montreal veteran, passed away earlier this week. The news was announced on social media by Ubisoft narrative director, Darby McDevitt.
“We lost a dear friend and brilliant colleague this week. Writer and narrative designer Russell Lees was a part of the Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry families for over a decade,” wrote McDevitt. “All who worked with him will attest to his patience, his generosity, his passion, and his bright spirit. He will be missed, and remembered always as the most ideal artist in this busy, hectic industry — devoted, collaborative, patient, and kind beyond measure.”
Lees broke into the gaming industry in the mid-1990s, writing and directing PC horror adventure The Dark Eye — a digital adaptation of the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Perhaps Lees’ defining legacy lies in his decade-long work at Ubisoft, where the writer penned narratives, scripts, and sub-stories for numerous titles in the Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs franchises.
Away from gaming, Lees co-founded the TheatreWorks/West production company in Salt Lake City, where he would be involved in the writing and production of numerous stageplays. Lees also held the role of director of French-language plays at the University of Utah, while his off-Broadway political production, Nixon’s Nixon, won plaudits from theatre critics in 1999.
Since the news of his passing was announced, Lees’ friends, colleagues, and associates have paid tribute to Lees’ work and personality.
“He was such an absolute pleasure to work with briefly on AC Unity,” remembers narrative director Navi Khavari. “He was always so kind, generous, and an incredibly sharp writer. Can’t believe he’s gone.”
“He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with and had an incredible sense of humor,” said Eidos writer Ethan James Petty. “His work brought thrills and laughs to millions of players. He will be greatly missed.”
Of The Dark Eye, developer Olivier Leclair simply said “This game is the reason why I am making horror [point & click] games”. Which is perhaps one of the greatest tributes one creator can pay another.
We at Destructoid offer our sincere condolences to Lees’ family and friends.