From Fanning to Planning: Dexter Woltman’s History with ‘Family Guy’
By Dexter Woltman
In my time with Brunette Games, our team has had the exciting opportunity to work on two Family Guy titles for the well-known game publisher Jam City. One of which—Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff—still receives new content from us on a weekly basis! Written in collaboration with the writers of the hit TV show, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff stays true to the show’s characters and often references its many iconic episodes. There’s a lot to unpack in Family Guy’s 21 seasons (and counting), and another writer may have felt the pressure of honoring a decades-long IP; but for me, it’s a dream-come-true. Long before I was a writer for the Family Guy games, I was a fan of the show.
My coworkers say I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Family Guy. It feels like I’ve been watching all my life—and really, I have been! The show recently celebrated its 24th anniversary, making it almost as old as I am. In its latest season, the show surpassed 400 episodes. It’s a milestone achievement, and I’ve watched every installment! I grew up with Peter Griffin and his family’s wacky hijinks, even if the characters haven’t actually aged.
My familiarity with Family Guy started at a young age—too young of an age, some might say. Despite its crude humor, I’ve been tuning in since I was a kid. Sure, my mom tried to stop me from watching it until I was older, but I couldn’t resist youthful rebellion, and I snuck in the occasional episode or two on cable while she was at work. Once Family Guy dropped on streaming, it was game over for my mom. My sister and I watched each episode repeatedly, and we still find ourselves frequently quoting our favorite jokes.
Years later, I began studying scriptwriting at Webster University. I developed my skills writing film, TV, radio, plays, and—most importantly—games. At Webster, I met the one-and-only Lisa Brunette when I attended her course on narrative design. In one of my TV-writing courses, I was instructed to write an original episode for an established TV show. Naturally, I chose Family Guy.
I wrote my own episode titled “The Curious Case of Peter Griffin.” Of course, my skills were less developed back then, and the episode doesn’t compare to the talented writing that comes from Fox. But it was my first attempt at capturing the characters’ voices, and it would later prove a valuable practice when our team was tasked with writing for the Family Guy mobile games. Classic character traits—like Peter’s distaste for his daughter, Meg—are all present.
In “The Curious Case of Peter Griffin,” Peter Griffin becomes a child again, and his genius baby, Stewie, works to restore him to his proper age. It has plenty of hijinks, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of writing—even if I've kept it safely hidden away in the depths of my computer until now. It also highlights the differences between writing for television versus games when I tie in gameplay elements and focus on dialogue to convey jokes rather than the complex animations regularly found in the show.
As soon as I graduated, Lisa hired me on full-time. We got the opportunity from Jam City to work on their Family Guy titles, and knowing my extensive knowledge of the show, Lisa asked me to write scripts. Never did I expect that my childhood obsession would someday be a vital part of my career! Knowing each season of the TV show inside and out has helped me craft exciting events that can tie into fan-favorite episodes, and my familiarity with the character voices is showcased in the games’ dialogue.
But just like with the show, writing for the Family Guy games is definitely a team effort. Each of us at Brunette Games has lended a hand in shaping the exciting world of The Quest for Stuff, and in fact, all five full-time staff members have taken a turn at writing scripts. With a top-notch crew of narrative talent, we ensure each event is filled to the brim with LOL-worthy jokes. Best of all, no one gets burned out, and we always have a source of fresh ideas.
Having been tasked with the game’s narrative for three years now, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is one of our longest-running titles at Brunette Games. My experience with the franchise illustrates that if you’re passionate about something, you should never let it fall to the wayside. Personal hobbies may wind up tying into a career in surprising ways. And just like the characters of Family Guy never seem to grow up, I’ll never outgrow my favorite animated sitcom.
You can download Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff on the Apple App Store or Google Play.