'Firewatch' Star Cissy Jones On What It's Like To Play A Talking Plastic Box


You may recognize some familiar voices in Firewatch, you won’t be seeing any recognizable characters. That’s because the only other character  you interact with in Firewatch can only be talked to on a walkie talkie. Voice actress Cissy Jones talked with iDigitalTimes about what it’s like playing a character who only exists in a plastic box.

“Honestly, I love it [not having a character on screen to see],” Jones told iDigitalTimes. “You know, there are so many characters that are, how do I say this, disproportionately not real.” Jones was most excited that players will not be judging her character based solely on looks.

“To be able to create a character and you as a player get to decide how you feel about her without even seeing her, I think is fantastic,” Jones said.

Firewatch is a first-person game about a volunteer fire lookout, working in the aftermath of the 1988 Yellowstone fires. Players will be tasked with navigating the Shoshone National Forest in Wyoming, making sure everything is as nature intended it. Jones’ character, Delilah, serves as the supervisor to the fire lookout team.

Writer Sean Vanaman helped Jones create the character she saw in Delilah. Vanaman is one of the founders of developer Campo Santo, and had previously worked with Jones on Telltale’s The Walking Dead series.

“You get five pages of description from Sean about who she is and what her backstory is and what she’s like and you go with it,” said Jones.

As for how much of those five pages will actually get presented to players, that decision is entirely up to the player. “It depends on how much you want to know about Delilah,” said Jones. “It depends on if you’re going to be the guy who is going to go it alone, and be stoic and not really talk to her, then you probably won’t pick up as much,” Jones said.

“But if you want to dig a little deeper, and share a little bit about yourself, then she’ll share a lot more with you.”

Jones has been a huge proponent for Firewatch ever since she first heard about the project from Vanaman. “Sean Vanaman… approached me and said ‘Hey I’m writing this new game, there’s a female lead, are you in?’ and I signed on without knowing anything about it because I love working with that guy,” Jones said. “I will work with him any time on anything. He’s fucking fantastic. Pardon my French.”

One of the more interesting aspects of Firewatch, especially for Jones, was that Vanaman had her and Rich Sommer, the male lead, record dialogue together. “Sean actually had us record at the same time, which is so rare in video games,” Jones said. “Usually you record in a vacuum you know? You have a page in front of you with the lines and you might have a director to read you in, and you hope that it sounds good when it’s mashed together.”

That wasn’t the case for Firewatch. “Sean really, really wanted this to feel alive and so Rich and I were both in our respective home studios and we would call in on Skype on a conference call and we would do four hour sessions at a time in real live dialogue, which is just so amazing,” said Jones.

This process helped both Jones and Sommer make more natural dialogue. “We also get to see like, if any of the jokes fell flat or if something felt disingenuous or maybe I can punch this up a little or add a laugh or a sigh,” Jones said. “You know, little things you do in a conversation that you wouldn’t just reading the black and white letters.”

Jones is also excited that she gets to be a bigger part of Firewatch than simply being the lead voice actress. “Sean was like ‘listen. I want you and Rich talking to the press, I want you guys out there, I want people to know that it’s you,’” said Jones. “He announced us, I want to say in December of 2014 at the least, which doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t happen. It’s been really fun to be a part of this, and actually be a part of it.”

However, now that Firewatch is almost out, Jones is more looking forward to the actual release. “I’m so excited for people to get it in their hands and to see what the response will be,” Jones said. “There’s going to be a lot more emotion than people are going to be ready for.”

“You may or may not encounter woodland creatures and how you interact with them is up to you,” said Jones. “The mystery that unfolds is really captivating. I don’t want to say any more, because I’m excited to see how people will react to it.”

“But the woodland creatures man, they are going to be off the chain.”

Firewatch will be releasing on PS4 and PC on Feb. 9.

So what do you think? Are you excited to check out Cissy Jones’ performance in Firewatch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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