In Lost Words, Rhianna Pratchett Explores Death, Grief, Love, and Writing About Writing

Rhianna Pratchett, whose narrative thoughts has formed tales in video games like Mirror’s Edge, Tomb Raider, and many others, first met the creator of Lost Words: Beyond the Page at a sport jam. At the time, Lost Words was about divorce. But that modified shortly as soon as Pratchett signed on because the narrative lead.”Of course, being a Pratchett, I said, ‘Well, what about death?'”

Pratchett is referring to her late father, Discworld creator, Terry Pratchett — whose books steadily discover dying and grief via their fantasy setting. Speaking to IGN, she says this shift was born out of her personal private expertise with the dying of family members, which in the end closely formed Lost Words as effectively.Lost Words is a narrative-focused platformer sport that is been out for over a yr already, however one which many could have missed the primary time round, because it was a Google Stadia-exclusive till not too long ago, and it is lastly coming to Xbox One, PS4, Steam, and Nintendo Switch on April 6. Its story follows a younger lady, Izzy, who aspires to be a author. When she loses somebody near her, she works via her grief by writing a fantasy story in her journal. Play switches between journal segments with glimpses into Izzy’s private life, and the fantasy story she’s writing, the place she explores the emotions and concepts she’s combating in actuality via her fantasy protagonist.

Pratchett, each via her household and in her personal in depth work, is a agency proponent of precisely that — exploring troublesome subjects via fantasy tales.

It’s a really distinctive time in your life once you expertise loss for the primary time, and you out of the blue notice that the world isn’t good.

“A lot of people think that fantasy is hugely removed escapism; it’s not really,” she says. “It’s how we deal with our own world, how we come to understand our world, and how we come to understand other people.

“…I assumed that it is a very distinctive time in your life once you expertise loss for the primary time, and you out of the blue notice that the world isn’t good, and unhealthy issues occur. And typically there’s nothing you are able to do about it.

“I have a very tiny family now because I have no relatives left apart from a mother and uncle and a cousin that I’ve grown up with, but I’ve lost several sets of grandparents and step-grandparents, and my dad. So I felt I had a lot to say about loss and grief and the intersection of loss of memory, grief, and memory and how we keep people alive by our memories and how we keep a part of them inside us.”

Pratchett is happy about Lost Words’ deal with storytelling, not simply as a story gadget, however as a part of the event course of. Having written for video games for almost 20 years, and as a journalist earlier than that, Pratchett has been in a position to watch the trajectory of video games writing and narrative change from one thing many studios tended to brush off or throw in messily on the finish of a sport’s improvement, to one thing builders and audiences care deeply about. And she’s proud to have been part of that.

But she nonetheless feels that video games have a protracted, lengthy technique to go to respect what good writing can do for a sport, and refine what good video games writing actually means.

Writers do not get very a lot energy, particularly within the large video games, and you do not at all times get a lot area to essentially get your voice or imaginative and prescient throughout.

“Writers don’t get very much power, especially in the big games, and you don’t always get much space to necessarily get your voice or vision across,” she says. “And everyone thinks they can write because most people can write words, and they think writing words is the same as writing a story. And because they’ve usually never tried, in their heads, they’re sort of unproven geniuses.

“In the previous, narrative wasn’t essentially carried out by a author. People did not significantly worth it sufficient to push professionals in that discipline. It created the impression that anybody might write as a result of anybody had been writing. So now, it seems like it’s a must to take care of a number of suggestions, a number of opinions on a regular basis, normally from folks that are not significantly story-literate…But they typically have extra energy than writers. So in the event you’re making an attempt to stability, you change into very versatile, it’s a must to study to work with different folks’s concepts…As folks begin to perceive how tales work in video games, it’s getting higher, however I did take care of lots of people who thought they knew write telling me write.”

Which brings her again to Lost Words, the place she was not simply the sport’s author, however was intently concerned in most facets of Lost Words’ improvement. That’s the benefit, she says, of engaged on a smaller, impartial group versus being employed on as a story author for an enormous AAA undertaking. You lose the larger finances and the assets which will carry, certain, however you have got a direct line to everybody on the group and can extra intently marry gameplay and writing.

“I like being in a group the place I can get my voice throughout; in any other case, what is the level?” she says. “I’m not a narrative robotic. I’m not there to only generate phrases. I’m there to carry my views and my imaginative and prescient and my ideas as effectively.

“If you’re engaged in a game early on, there’s a lot that writers can bring to it. It often used to be this way and it still is to a certain extent now that the industry [thought that] writers did the word bits. They’d leave some space for the writer to do the word bits because they just do the word bits and the word bits come as late in the game as possible.

A lot of what writers do is invisible work. It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff.

“Whereas truly a number of what writers do is invisible work. It’s a number of behind-the-scenes stuff, developing with the lore of the world and tone and figuring out how issues go on this world, how the character relationships go, a complete load of background stuff that the participant will not essentially see. I name it constructing the physique of the iceberg. We all know that the physique of the iceberg is far greater underneath the floor…So that the tip that the gamers truly see within the sport is way more truthful and way more thought-out, way more well-realized, since you spent all this time build up the physique of it. And in the event you’re fortunate, you get time to have the ability to try this.”

Pratchett is delighted to see Lost Words get another chance to catch audiences’ eyes now that it’s releasing on platforms other than Stadia, and she hopes people considering picking it up will not be put off by the fact that it’s a story about grief. In fact, she says, it’s actually quite positive.

“It is gloomy,” she says. “But it is also joyful, as effectively. It’s about love. And it is about grief being the value for love. It’s about dropping somebody however conserving maintain of them on the similar time. And it is taken from the attitude of somebody that is going via it for the primary time. So it is all form of contemporary and new, and troublesome and painful as you simply attempt to get your head round it. But ultimately it’s hopeful, it’s optimistic, it is stuffed with love. And so I hope folks get that out of it.”

Rebekah Valentine is a information reporter for IGN. You can discover her on Twitter @duckvalentine.

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