WASHINGTON — Rhianna Pratchett has a fantasy writer's genes: Her father is Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels. But the daughter has pursued her muse in a different medium, as one of the most respected scriptwriters in video games.
Her credits include Mirror's Edge, Heavenly Sword and Overlord, as well as Overlord II, recently released by Codemasters Software. Although writers often are hired well into a game's development, Pratchett says, "On Overlord II, I was there right from the start.
"Trying to construct a story around levels that have already been designed without narrative in mind, which is pretty common — and was the case with Mirror's Edge — is rather like trying to write a movie for sets that have already been made. It can be incredibly challenging."
The original Overlord, released in 2007, put the player in the role of an evil despot who conquers the world with the help of bloodthirsty gremlins. The adventure's warped perspective and black comedy earned it cult status among like-minded gamers.
Comedy is tough to pull off in games, though. "What I think has really worked for the franchise is that the setup and gameplay is ripe with humor," Pratchett says. "You play an evil Overlord, rampaging through a twisted fantasy world, with an ever-expanding army of sycophantic minions who loot and pillage for you. What's not to love about that?"
Still, she says, "Funny lines certainly help." And during the production, "People on the team were still laughing at things they'd seen and heard 20 times before, so something must be working."