Pratchett Talks Games

Logan Westbrook

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Feb 21, 2008
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Pratchett Talks Games


Mirror's Edge writer Rhianna Pratchett believes that game plots need to evolve past their movie roots.

That's right, Rhianna Pratchett. Sorry if you got your hopes up there, but she probably has a little more insight than her dad anyway, having written the story for Mirror's Edge, Heavenly Sword and Overlord. In an interview with That Video Game Blog [http://www.thatvideogameblog.com/2009/06/26/pratchett-industry-rooting-around-in-hollywoods-action-movie-scrapheap/], she voiced her frustration at the state of writing in the industry.

"Writers and narrative designers are still relatively new positions on development teams," she said, "this means there's still a level of uncertainty about how best to use and integrate them. I know from talking to lots of fine people in my field that the writing process can often be done too late, without proper access to the team and under extreme pressure."

"Thankfully, things are starting to get a little better and more writers are being contacted in the first few months of a project's lifespan, rather than the last few months. Personally, I consider I've been very lucky with some of my projects." She continued.

She also expressed some concern with the writers themselves, feeling that they were too enamored with gritty anti-heroes. "A little more variation in concept and content would be nice, as well ... I could do with a little less 'Gruff guy with super powers/large weapon kicks assss!' tales. The medium has huge potential, so I'm not sure why there's this constant desire to keep rooting around in Hollywood's action-movie scrapheap."

All I have to say is that she is a woman very much after my own heart.

Source: via VG247 [http://www.vg247.com/2009/06/27/rhianna-pratchett-feels-gaming-plots-have-become-more-important-but-need-less-testosterone/]


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Trivun

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Dec 13, 2008
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Wait, she's the daughter of Terry Pratchett? Awesome, I wonder if she'd ever consider making games based on her dad's stuff? That'd be great, especially after seeing the earlier Discworld based games, such as the first one on the PS1 a while back.

Anyway, onto the main topic. I have to say I agree, there is a severe lack of creativity in a lot of games today. Halo, Resident Evil and the like are the rare exception, games that have relatively original and interesting stories, even if these are backed up by books and other media. However, most other games are simply followers of various tropes and unoriginal, overused stories. Don't get me wrong, sometimes this doesn't matter, Gears of War is brilliant despite being another generic 'Space Marine' shooter, and although I love Final Fantasy XII it did lean heavily on a story taken from Star Wars. Plus, there are plenty of long running franchises such as Star Wars, and Warhammer 40k, although admittedly these are filled with new and original material anyway so they can be considered original in their own right, I suppose.

My point is simply that although some games still have originality, this is being overlooked in increasing quantities now. It needs to stop soon, and we need to return to originality and interesting stories in gaming. Otherwise we'll just end up with a market full of cheap rip-offs from much better games released a decade ago. Oh, wait, we already do...
 

GothmogII

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Apr 6, 2008
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Eh...while I appreciate the sentiment, I can't say I was overly impressed with the plot in any of those three games. (Although Mirror's Edge was an interesting concept nonetheless).

Actually, the real bugger for me was Overlord. I was expecting to take on the role of..well...an evil Overlord, all I got was a tall guy in armor who does slightly nasty things and controls an army of wacky goblins, and ostensibly is the 'hero' of the piece considering what he's fighting against. A shame really.

Variation is always nice of course, if done well.
 

Lexodus

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We do need more writers involved in games. Not 'game writers' but actual writers. They know how to craft a story and make things special, and nowadays that's all being forgone for the latest graphics and 'gritty realism' (total bullshit).
 

Lexodus

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xmetatr0nx said:
Aww damn it, am i the only one who thought this would be about Terry Pratchett? Got my hopes up for nothing.
No, hence the line "That's right, Rhianna Pratchett. Sorry if you got your hopes up there".
 

Trivun

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Lexodus said:
We do need more writers involved in games. Not 'game writers' but actual writers. They know how to craft a story and make things special, and nowadays that's all being forgone for the latest graphics and 'gritty realism' (total bullshit).
Hmmm, I suddenly had the idea to turn one of my short stories (see The Short Story Thread) into a game. Then decided that the resulting game, given the story it would be based on, would be more disturbing than the short film Gothmogll's avatar pic is from. Ah well, I guess Game Maker will be waiting a little while longer on my PC before it actually gets some decent use...
 

D_987

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I beleive shes talking more about the role narrative designers play in a game. As a narrative designer myself (on an ambitious indie project) I have to say I agree with what she is saying. Its no use getting the script together later on in the development process - the game should be shaped around the script; rather than the other way around.

I also agree with regards to her views on "Hollywood-esque" game stories, sure they can be epic and fast-paced, but the sheer number of them soon becomes monotonous. However, I believe its those type of stories that the majority want, those not so interested in games want some form of familiarity within the game - hence the large number of Hollywood games.

Lexodus said:
We do need more writers involved in games. Not 'game writers' but actual writers. They know how to craft a story and make things special, and nowadays that's all being forgone for the latest graphics and 'gritty realism' (total bullshit).
They are completely different skills, and many "game writers" ARE "actual writers". How else would they get the job?
 

pantsoffdanceoff

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I've always thought that games should take place in the movie's setting but have their storyline. LOTR online does this rather well.
 

pigeon_of_doom

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Feb 9, 2008
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Has she actually had any work published though? Unless she's been hired on the assumption that genius is hereditary, and even then, her dad is hardly a literary innovator.
 

GothmogII

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pigeon_of_doom said:
Has she actually had any work published though? Unless she's been hired on the assumption that genius is hereditary, and even then, her dad is hardly a literary innovator.
*Revs up chainsaw* My eyesight is a little poor, what was that you just wrote? -_^
 

pigeon_of_doom

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GothmogII said:
*Revs up chainsaw* My eyesight is a little poor, what was that you just wrote? -_^
Fun as his stuff is, he hasn't redefined fiction for a new generation or invented any techniques. He's admitted as much himself. No shame in him not being a Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy or Shakespeare though.

If that hasn't placated you then I better book my plane ticket.
 

similar.squirrel

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Mar 28, 2009
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I expected Terry, too. It was a pleasant surprise to learn they're related. I loved Mirror's Edge, and I guess the plot suited the game concept, even if it wasn't particularly involving.
 

Lord Krunk

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I agree with her entirely; although I like games for their fun factor and hold their stories with less priority, a little originality once in a while (and not every blue moon) would be nice.
 

JakubK666

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pigeon_of_doom said:
GothmogII said:
*Revs up chainsaw* My eyesight is a little poor, what was that you just wrote? -_^
Fun as his stuff is, he hasn't redefined fiction for a new generation or invented any techniques. He's admitted as much himself. No shame in him not being a Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy or Shakespeare though.
Pardon me sir, I'm currently reading Discworld up to No.8 'Guards! Guards!'(supposedly it's not even at it's best yet) and while it's true that he doesn't innovate anything 'per se', the way he twists and subverts just about any fantasy cliche deserves it's own extraordinary merit.
 

BehattedWanderer

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Jun 24, 2009
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Shame on you, for leading me on. I thought this would be a new idea for a Discworld game.

pigeon_of_doom said:
Fun as his stuff is, he hasn't redefined fiction for a new generation or invented any techniques. He's admitted as much himself. No shame in him not being a Virginia Woolf, Tolstoy or Shakespeare though.

If that hasn't placated you then I better book my plane ticket.
None of those were regarded as generation altering writers until well after the majority of their career, and nominally after their death. Terry Pratchett might not redefine the comedic fantasy genre, but his unparelleled use of satire agaisnt trend, politics, and literature is what has earned him his name so far. He's definitely had a fair impact on the genre, though, and future works in the genre are already compared against his books, so it's not like he's uninfluential.

Back on topic, though, this could be interesting. Should be fun to watch her progress in the future. Maybe we'll see some more fun innovations, accompanied by decent games.