Lucas Pope

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Lucas Pope
Lucas Pope at 2014 GDC cropped.jpg
OccupationVideo game developer
Notable work
The Republia Times
Papers, Please
Return of the Obra Dinn

Lucas Pope is an American-born video game developer, currently residing in Japan. He is best known for independent, experimental games, most notable for his 2013 game, Papers, Please.

Pope grew up in Virginia and got his start in developing mods for games such as Quake, principally working on the art used for the characters in the mods. He started to team up with other modders, including working on a officially-sanctioned mod by Sony Pictures to promote Anaconda.[1] Pope and another set of modders decided to form their own studio, Ratloop, releasing the total Quake conversion mod Malice in 1997.[1] Ratloop struggled with distribution issues, at the time primarily through retail channels. While Walmart would help distribute their game, the chain required Ratloop to have 5,000 copies ready to ship within 24 hours at any time, requiring Ratloop to secure a publisher to help. After one initial failed 3D game, Ratloop came to the idea of a car repair game, an antithesis to the large number of driving games on the market. The title, Gearhead Garage, was successful enough to be picked up by Activision under their Activision Value label for retail distribution, giving Ratloop sufficient funds to try a number of experimental games, something which had interested Pope.[1] However, none of these ideas led to any publishable game, and with competition from other studios, particularly from Eastern Europe, that could make games at substantially lower prices, Ratloop became dormant.[1]

Pope left Ratloop and joined Realtime Associates for a short while before moving to Santa Monica and getting a job with Naughty Dog.[2] While Pope did not have a strong programming background, he felt that Naughty Dog had hired him because of his interest in developing the tools and interfaces needed to help in programming their games.[2] Pope had been hired about halfway through the development of Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and continued to work on the sequel Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. He credited the director of the sequel Bruce Straley for teaching him how to focus a game's design around core concepts to make the game fun, even if this meant sacrificing work that had already been completed.[2]

After Uncharted 2 had shipped in 2009, Naughty Dog was set to continue onto the next sequel, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, but Pope wanted to spend more time on his love of experimental games; he had been spending time developing some of these on the side with his wife Keiko. He decided to quit Naughty Dog, and in 2010, moved to Saitama, Japan, in close proximity to Keiko's family.[3] Over the next few years, he worked on a number of experimental games, including The Republia Times in 2012 which he had come up with originally as part of a Ludum Dare game jam.[2]

Pope and his wife traveled frequently during this period, briefly relocating to Singapore to help a friend complete a game, along with return trips to the United States. During these travels, Pope came upon an idea for a game involving a passport inspector, which served as the inspiration for Pope's breakout game, Papers, Please, released first in 2013. Papers, Please was critically praised, winning several awards including several Game Developers Choice and Independent Games Festival awards, as well as a British Academy (BAFTA) Games Award for Best Simulation Game. For Pope and his wife, Papers, Please was financially successful;[4] the game had sold about 1.8 million copies by August 2016,[5] and through 2018, still sold enough that Pope was not worried about his financial security as he was developing his next game, Return of the Obra Dinn.[1]

Pope is currently living with Keiko near Tokyo, Japan.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Wood, Austin (November 2, 2017). "Lucas Pope on life after Papers, Please". Eurogamer. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d Cullen, Johnny (March 5, 2014). "Lucas Pope: "I'm kind of sick to death of Papers, Please"". VG247. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  3. ^ Edge Staff (January 20, 2014). "The Making Of: Papers, Please". Edge. Archived from the original on January 22, 2014.
  4. ^ Lee, Dave (March 12, 2014). "Papers, Please: The 'boring' game that became a smash hit". BBC. Retrieved October 19, 2018.
  5. ^ Pope, Eric (August 8, 2016). "Papers, Please at 3 Years". Twitter. Retrieved August 8, 2016.