There's a real disconnect between game protagonists and the actions they perpetrate, suggests Rhianna Pratchett, cinematic writer on next year's Tomb Raider
reboot, under development at Crystal Dynamics.
"One of the things we've been keen to do with Tomb Raider
is explore the idea that action equals character," says Pratchett.
"It's a fairly standard idea in other entertainment mediums, but in games there's often a strange disconnect with the way a character is presented in cutscenes (heroic, quippy, everyone's pal) and the way they act during the gameplay, i.e. mowing down enemies like there's no tomorrow."
So how do you solve the problem? Work backwards, she suggests.
"From a narrative perspective, I wanted to make sure that the gameplay mechanics fed back into Lara's character make-up... Looking at gameplay mechanics is often a good jumping-off point when putting together someone like Lara. It's working backwards a little bit, but it means there's not so much of a disconnect between character and action. The bravery, tenacity and resourcefulness that Lara shows during the gameplay are definitely reflected in her personality."
The division between storytelling and gameplay is, ultimately, artificial, Pratchett argues. "It's all story, at the end of the day," she says. "Narrative actually saturates every facet of a game world -- be it the level design, the gameplay mechanics, the characters, soundscape, etcetera."
For more on how Pratchett has worked to reshape Lara and the rest of the Tomb Raider
universe -- and her opinions on the ways in which game development fails the narrative creation process -- read Gamasutra's full feature interview