Lost Words: Beyond the Page : Interview exclusive de Rhianna Pratchett


Publié le Vendredi 23 avril 2021 à 12:00:00 par Cedric Gasperini


Lost Words: Beyond the Page : Interview exclusive de Rhianna Pratchett page 2

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imageGamalive : What was the inspiration for creating the world of Lost Words: Beyond the Page? 

Rhianna Pratchett : I originally met Sketchbook Games’ founder, Mark Backler, at a Game Jam I was judging back in 2014. Mark’s game won and we got talking about Lost Words: Beyond the Page (which had no title at the time.) Over the next year or so we batted some ideas back and forth, and Mark worked on developing the gameplay, whilst looking for a publisher. We also applied for a Wellcome Trust grant which helped a lot in the early stages. From my side, the inspiration came from looking at how best to use the mechanics to tell the story and what kind of narrative experience I wanted it to be.

    I was keen on the idea of using a fantasy world to help process and deal with real-world trauma. Initially, we talked about it being a young girl dealing with the divorce of her parents, but I suggested loss might be more universal. I’ve also lost many people in my life over the last decade, so I felt like I had a lot to say about the subject and the journey of grief. I also felt there were positive things to be expressed, such as the way we take people into ourselves when they die, and they become a part of us. And how memories and focusing on how someone lived, rather than how they died, play a part in comforting us as well.

Gamalive : Could you explain the work of a narrative designer on such a game?

imageRhianna Pratchett : From a narrative design standpoint, Lost Words: Beyond the Page was one of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on, because the narrative was literally the gameplay – you can use words as spells, sentences as platforms, doodles to unlock puzzles etc. We also had to make sure that everything was coming together to support the narrative and tone of the game, from mechanics and script to art and music. Even the puzzles were utilised to support the mood where possible.  

Gamalive : What was the main difficulty on this game?

Rhianna Pratchett : One of the biggest challenges was finding the sweet spot between narrative that works as gameplay and mechanics, and narrative that works to serve the story and characters. That was surprisingly much harder than any of us realised, and probably one of the most time-consuming aspects of the project.

Gamalive : What is your involvement in Game Design/Level Design and Game Art or how do you work with the Game designers, Level Designers and Game Artists to ensure that they develop a correct vision of the world you created?

Rhianna Pratchett : Because narrative and gameplay were so interconnected, I had a lot of involvement in the design side of things, particularly the level design and puzzle ideas. Probably more so in the journal sections than the Estoria sequences. Also, because the team was relatively small, it was easy to bat ideas about between team members. Because I was an early adopter, it meant that I was throwing in ideas over the course of many years and helped develop a strong voice for the project.
Ria, one of our artists, sent me a list of questions about Izzy (our protagonist) covering everything from her favourite foods to what kind of clothes she loves and hates, to her most loved animal. It was super useful in helping define and colour the character for both the art and the narrative.

Gamalive : The game is also planned to be in French, Italian, Spanish and German. For a game which is based on words, is there any particular difficulty of choosing the right words or expressions, knowing that each language has its own particularities?

imageRhianna Pratchett : When we originally conceived of this, we didn’t know whether it would be translated into other languages, so we just focused on the English edition. It seems to have translated fairly well, but I think Mark has had to answer lots of localisation questions about my British slang and idiosyncrasies!

Gamalive :  From Overlord to Tomb Raider, from Lost Words to Thief or Mirror's Edge, you've worked on a lot of different games, universes and atmospheres. Have you any preference? Sci-fi, Fantasy, Modern stories?

Rhianna Pratchett : Not really. I’m attracted to anything with a bit of originality and edge to it, along with characters I can get my teeth into. These days I’m also finding myself more drawn to projects which actually have something to say for themselves beyond ‘have gun, will shoot’.

Gamalive : Which videogames are you playing right now?

Rhianna Pratchett : Along with pretty much everyone else, I’m having fun with Valheim. Prior to that I got a lot of enjoyment (and fear) out of The Forest. I love my survival games, and I’m constantly amazed at what small teams can come up with.

Gamalive : Your father was a videogames fan. Do you have any souvenir of playing with him? If so, on which videogame?

imageRhianna Pratchett : When I was a kid, I would sit next to him whilst he was playing games, get out the graft paper and draw maps for him. An old friend of his also said they remembered him paying me to get him through the easy levels on platform games he was playing at the time, so he could just take over on the harder levels. I don’t remember this transaction at all, but perhaps I didn’t realise that’s what I was doing, and a few extra coins mysteriously turned up in my piggy bank!

Gamalive : And lastly, what are the best qualities of the game, that could convince a player to buy it?

Rhianna Pratchett : It’s an artistic and thoughtful narrative-based platformer, with very original game mechanics, which should hopefully make you smile, and maybe even shed a tear along the way.