by Joseph Leray
[Apologies! The original source suggested that the enemy numbers were cut in half. The original article has been updated with Rhianna Pratchett clarifying that the first encounter should have an impact on the player. This post has been updated correcting the error]
“It’s very difficult to keep that good affable character when they’re having to slaughter loads of people,” Pratchett told Kill Screen in a recent interview, explaining how the Crystal Dynamics tried to maintain “Tomb Raider”’s suspension of disbelief. “But what we tried to do with Lara was at least have the first death count.”
“‘Tomb Raider’ raised a lot of comparisons to the ‘Uncharted’ series, and both games show that tension of having very life-like and ordinary human characters killing hordes of bad guys,” Pratchett continued. “This is a constant tension, and I don’t imagine that any one game developer has the magic bullet to just solve it.”
What makes “Tomb Raider” work — what makes a lot of the best games work — is that Lara Croft grows as a character in tandem with the player getting better at the game. As she becomes more self-assured and determined to survive her time on Yamatai, the players get access to more weapons and skills.
Still, every character has her limits: “Tomb Raider” handled Lara’s transition better than “Far Cry 3” handled Jason Brody’s, for example, but she never turns into the hardened killer that the gameplay suggests. “It’s about balancing the needs of gameplay with the needs of narrative,” Pratchett mused. “And so I’d say from a narrative perspective, we would have liked the ramp-up to be a bit slower.”
“We tried to innovate a little bit, but narrative can’t always win. Ideally if you can find a sweet spot, that’s great. But sometimes combat, or gameplay or whatever, has to win out.”
Kill Screen’s two-part interview with Pratchett is an engrossing, thorough read about how to approach to writing Lara Croft, how to tackle her femininity and sexuality, and her place in gamer culture at large. Read the full account here and here.