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

In Misplaced Phrases, Rhianna Pratchett Explores Dying, Grief, Love, and Writing About Writing

Rhianna Pratchett, whose narrative thoughts has formed tales in video games like Mirror’s Edge, Tomb Raider, and plenty of others, first met the creator of Misplaced Phrases: Past the Web page at a sport jam. On the time, Misplaced Phrases was about divorce. However that modified rapidly 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 regularly discover loss of life and grief by their fantasy setting. Chatting with IGN, she says this shift was born out of her personal private expertise with the loss of life of family members, which in the end closely formed Misplaced Phrases as nicely.Misplaced Phrases 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 lately, and it is lastly coming to Xbox One, PS4, Steam, and Nintendo Swap on April 6. Its story follows a younger lady, Izzy, who aspires to be a author. When she loses somebody near her, she works by 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 sentiments and concepts she’s scuffling with in actuality by her fantasy protagonist.

Pratchett, each by her household and in her personal intensive work, is a agency proponent of precisely that — exploring troublesome matters by fantasy tales.

It is a very distinctive time in your life if you expertise loss for the primary time, and also you abruptly understand that the world shouldn’t be excellent.


“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.

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“…I believed that it is a very distinctive time in your life if you expertise loss for the primary time, and also you abruptly understand that the world shouldn’t be excellent, and dangerous 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 Misplaced Phrases’ concentrate on storytelling, not simply as a story system, however as a part of the event course of. Having written for video games for practically 20 years, and as a journalist earlier than that, Pratchett has been capable of 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 growth, to one thing builders and audiences care deeply about. And he or she’s proud to have been part of that.

However she nonetheless feels that video games have an extended, lengthy approach 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 massive video games, and you do not at all times get a lot house 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.

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“Prior to now, narrative wasn’t essentially completed by a author. Folks did not notably worth it sufficient to push professionals in that discipline. It created the impression that anybody may write as a result of anybody had been writing. So now, it appears like you need to cope with a number of suggestions, a number of opinions on a regular basis, often from folks that are not notably story-literate…However they typically have extra energy than writers. So for those who’re making an attempt to steadiness, you grow to be very versatile, you need to be taught 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 cope with lots of people who thought they knew the right way to write telling me the right way to write.”

Which brings her back to Lost Words, where she was not just the game’s writer, but was closely involved in most aspects of Lost Words’ development. That’s the advantage, she says, of working on a smaller, independent team as opposed to being hired on as a narrative writer for a huge AAA project. You lose the bigger budget and the resources that may bring, sure, but you have a direct line to everyone on the team and can more closely 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 am not a narrative robotic. I am not there to only generate phrases. I am there to deliver my views and my imaginative and prescient and my ideas as nicely.

“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.

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“Whereas really a number of what writers do is invisible work. It is 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. Everyone knows that the physique of the iceberg is far larger beneath the floor…In order that the tip that the gamers really see within the sport is far more truthful and far more thought-out, far more well-realized, since you spent all this time build up the physique of it. And for those who’re fortunate, you get time to have the ability to do 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’s unhappy,” she says. “But it surely’s additionally joyful, as nicely. It is about love. And it is about grief being the worth for love. It is about shedding somebody however conserving maintain of them on the identical time. And it is taken from the angle of somebody that is going by it for the primary time. So it is all type of recent and new, and troublesome and painful as you simply attempt to get your head round it. However in the long run it’s hopeful, it’s optimistic, it is filled with love. And so I hope folks get that out of it.”

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

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