Russell Lees, a video games industry veteran with a long career at Ubisoft, has passed away.
Word of Lees’ death was shared on Twitter last night by Assassin’s Creed narrative director Darby McDevitt, who led tributes to his colleague.
At Ubisoft Montreal, Lees wrote several story arcs for Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, as well as the game’s Ireland-set Wrath of the Druids DLC.
As a writer and narrative designer, Lees also contributed to Assassin’s Creed Origins and Assassin’s Creed 3’s Tyranny of King Washington expansion. For Syndicate, he wrote the game’s Dreadful Crimes missions. For Unity, he wrote the Paris Stories and Murder Mysteries.
Outside of Assassin’s Creed, Lees also wrote for Watch Dogs 2 and Far Cry New Dawn.
Ubisoft Montreal is where Lees served longest – for more than 13 years – though his career in video games stretches back far longer.
During a two-year stint at Pandemic Studios, Lees wrote 2006’s Full Spectrum Warrior: Ten Hammers.
Lee also wrote and directed Inscape’s 1995 cult horror point-and-click adventure The Dark Eye, which adapts works by Edgar Allen Poe and features the voice of William S. Burroughs – a performance Lees recorded himself.
Outside the world of video games, Lees was also a successful playwright and stage director.
Writing on Twitter, Far Cry 6 narrative director Navid Khavari described Lees as “an absolute pleasure to work with” and “so kind, generous, and an incredibly sharp writer”.
He was such an absolute pleasure to work with briefly on AC Unity. Even working between two cities, we had a great time working on the mysteries and he was always so kind, generous, and an incredibly sharp writer. Can?t believe he?s gone.
— Navid Khavari (@Navface) January 7, 2022
My condolences for your loss. I only had the chance to work with Russell briefly last year on the AC Crossover Stories but he was one of the kindest people I’ve had the privilege of working with.??
— Kate M. (@kmacmul) January 6, 2022
I didn’t get to know Russell well, but as a newcomer, professionally, to Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft, its tools and processes, he was always patient, kind and happy to explain things to me. No question was too small, too unimportant. He was Good People.
GNU Russell Lees. https://t.co/ww9zvis8n4
— Giles Armstrong ?????? (@_GilesArmstrong) January 7, 2022
Saddened for the passing of interactive storyteller and playwright Russell Lees. I first met Russ on The Dark Eye, a crazy-wonderful CD-ROM project mixing Poe with an original framing story, animated puppets and a reading from William Burroughs that Russ recorded himself. RIP. pic.twitter.com/AUbT173rTt
— Erik Loyer (@opertoon) January 7, 2022
Russell Lees passed away.
Never had the chance to meet him, but his work impacted me. He was behind one of the best point & click game ever made, The Dark Eye.
This game is the reason why I am making horror p&c games.
— Olivier Leclair | Le Murmureur (@Olivier_Leclair) January 6, 2022
Just learned that my friend from Watch Dogs 2, Russell Lees, passed and it’s a lot to process. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever worked with and had an incredible sense of humor. His work brought thrills and laughs to millions of players. He will be greatly missed.
— Ethan James Petty (@EthanJamesPetty) January 5, 2022