Feature Article

Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the Writer Behind it All

The pen is mightier.

$17.48 on Amazon
Buy
$19.45 on Walmart
Buy

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

This week GameSpot shared a set of special features on Rise of the Tomb Raider. In the last of these stories, we speak to Rhianna Pratchett, the game's writer, about the creative process that brought--and is bringing--Lara to life. Head over to our Rise of the Tomb Raider page for more of our recent in-depth articles about the upcoming game, which releases Nov. 10.

If there is a thread through Rhianna Pratchett's work, it's a thin one, and it's hard to pin down.

She has written for major games such as Heavenly Sword, Prince of Persia, Overlord, and the original Mirror's Edge. Her characters range from thieves to princes, vikings to couriers, goblin overlords to tribal outcasts. The personalities that sprang from her pen are an eclectic bunch, and like the writer herself, always in flux.

Shortly before 2010, Crystal Dynamics approached her with a new task: to craft an origin story for one of video games' most iconic characters. "Ultimately, I think we needed new ground to explore, and I think we found it," Pratchett told GameSpot in a recent interview. "I know there's been a lot of appreciation for the more humanizing aspects of this Lara, as well as her escalation to something a little more reminiscent of her classic version. That's something we've continued to build on in Rise of the Tomb Raider."

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Despite the reboot's critical success, Pratchett and the team aren't content to just repeat that first adventure's formula. Numerous novels and spin-off comics have been released since 2013, and Lara has changed even more, growing into someone more assertive, and more aggressive than the globetrotting archaeologist of years past. Crystal wants to develop their flagship character, as well as the plot.

But Lara's challenges are different this time. Her demons are psychological, her fears internalized after the events on the island of Yamatai. Pratchett approached this new explorer with empathy: How would Lara respond to that kind of trauma? How would she move forward? How would she cope, after seeing so much death on that lonely rock in the middle of the ocean?

"She is a survivor," Pratchett said. "It's more of an emotional trap than a physical one. She's seen the game's antagonists do terrible things to those that get in their way, and she's now more mentally prepared to fight fire with fire.

"And although she's not 100 percent comfortable with this, she's starting to come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, she's someone that can do this."

Lara is now more mentally prepared to fight fire with fire.

While some have acknowledged this aggression as a result of the world Lara's been thrust into, critics of recent Rise of the Tomb Raider trailers have questioned this violent streak. 2013's reboot placed us in the shoes of someone just trying to survive. But this new Lara is a different beast entirely. She seems merciless.

For Pratchett, this alignment between characterization and gameplay is one of the challenges of writing for video games. Their stories are told not just through dialogue, cinematics, and plot, but through animations and environmental interaction as well. .

"You have to learn how to use the whole of the game, including animation, mechanics, music, to support video game narratives," Pratchett said. "In a perfect scenario all the different development disciplines should have an investment in the story."

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
00:00:00
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Furthermore, triple-A projects such as Rise of the Tomb Raider aren't usually written by one person. Although Pratchett's direction permeates the story, world, and characters of Lara's next appearance, there are designers, programmers, artists, and audio technicians contributing, too. Games are almost always the product of a group. In this way they're not as personal as, say, a novel. They have much less authorial control.

That control is diminished even more when the player enters the equation. The hardest part about writing Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and any other games Pratchett has worked on, is incorporating player agency. Video games are, by definition, an interactive medium. The design process needs to cater to that.

"In other entertainment media the audience largely has a passive role," she said. "In games they are active, they are part of the story; they are the story. You are constantly having to factor the player into the narrative equations and find ways to emotionally align them to the player character. There are an awful lot of plates being spun."

So every time Faith leapt over ledges and slid over pipes in Mirror's Edge, Pratchett had to consider that; every time Nariko took up her Heavenly Sword out of protection for her tribe, Pratchett's narrative had to fit that character; and whenever Lara's story moves forward in Rise of the Tomb Raider, Pratchett needs to remember the archaeologist's past, and how she got to the place where she is now, and where she might be going with all of her trauma.

No Caption Provided

Pratchett's characters are dynamic, adaptable, and strong. They reflect not just their own agency, but the player's as well.

And with each of these protagonists, a part of Pratchett, however small, remains locked inside those worlds. As a writer, her own personality flows into her work--as do those of the team around her. Rise of the Tomb Raider is the product of a multifarious team, and Pratchett's direction is one of many pushing Lara's story forward.

But still, just as that narrative continues with Rise of the Tomb Raider, so too does that elusive thread through Pratchett's work. It's hard to spot but it's there, connecting dynamic characters, each a survivor in their own right.

"Sometimes you have to learn to live at the edges of a game," Pratchett said. "Hiding in the walls, sneaking your story through the cracks and crevices, spreading the narrative any way you can."

Mike Mahardy on Google+
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

mmahardy

Mike Mahardy

Writer and Host. New Yorker. Enthusiast of gin, cilantro, and rock and roll.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Follow
Back To Top
55 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
  • 55 results
  • 1
  • 2
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for noren
Noren

6

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I like this new version, particularly the new cosplay :p http://www.cosplay-it.com/en/cosplay/9048/lara-croft-tomb-raider

Upvote • 
Avatar image for GhostHawk196
GhostHawk196

1337

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

How the F*^! does Square Enix reasonably expect a decent profit from this crap? This game is releasing among biggest titles this year - among Halo 5 and Fallout 4, this game wont even have a chance next year with the obvious superior Uncharted 4...

Upvote • 
Avatar image for kyler3229
Kyler3229

34

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 5

Edited By Kyler3229

The only game making me wish I owned an Xbox right now :(.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for juliano001
juliano001

535

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 37

User Lists: 0

Rambo in panties.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for iskaroth
iskaroth

268

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 43

User Lists: 0

Im just playing the TR reboot, about 70% done and holy shit the writing is so bad its beyond description. The plot, the characters, their actions and dialogue - everything is either super boring cliche or unintentionally hilarious.

2 • 
Avatar image for sonypony4eva
SonyPony4eva

711

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 5

@iskaroth: I'm also playing through it again on Xbox One, but it's supposed to play out like a cliche action film lol. I agree that a few of the characters seemed out of place and makes you wonder why they were there in the first place.

2 • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@sonypony4eva: That's what happens when you use a writer with zero talent... who leeches off her fathers name... if she truly wanted to be taken seriously without accusations like that then she should have used her mothers maiden name rather than milk "Pratchett" for all it's worth.

2 • 
Avatar image for Navardo95
Navardo95

197

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

I seriously disliked the storyline of the Tomb Raider reboot. But I guess thats the problem one would face when you're coming from playing high quality titles like Uncharted and Last Of Us.

One of the things I seriously despised about TR reboot was how you'd be slaughtering 20 enemies left and right during gameplay with absolutely little mercy and all of sudden when you're about to kill some thug in a cutscene Lara's all like "omfg noooo!!!!! </3333 I can't do this I'm not a killer..I can't shoot...I don't want to kill :(("

Uncharted and Last Of Us with their excellent cinematography and amazing characters that you care about kind of dampened my experience of Tomb Raider. That being said I expect a huge amount of hate from Xbox and PC gamers because of their steep hatred against exclusives.

3 • 
Avatar image for razeandjadith
RazeAndJadith

318

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Edited By RazeAndJadith

@Navardo95: As a consumer you should hate exclusives. If you own hardware capable of running a game then you can run it. The only reason you can't is a money grabbing decision. From a business standpoint its a good idea. But consumers promote this and it's pathetic since it is about as anti-consumer as you can get.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@Navardo95: The writing on the reboot was piss poor... but at the same time no more cliched than TLoU and Uncharted... if you limit your own gaming to just one console and never experience what others have to offer you're opening yourself up to criticism because of your own narrow veiwpoint.

To say that this is because others will just criticise because of a hatred of exclusives, when there are exclusives elsewhere you have no experience of yourself, just devalues your post even more.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

Suddenly I'm less interested... the writing in the first game was poor... to have one person sacrifice themselves to say Lara was cliched, to have two do it was lazy... when a third character did it that was just taking the piss.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for dramaticlookguy
DramaticLookGuy

120

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

Rhianna Pratchett has disappointed with every game she’s ever written for (excluding the first Overlord). The story was the only short coming of the last tomb raider. Just thank God she’s leaving the Disc World series alone. Rest in peace, Sir Terry.

4 • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@dramaticlookguy: Can't bring myself to read the last one... knowing there won't be anymore.

My nightmare is that this talentless bint will start knocking out Discworld books and ruin everything he created... she says she has no plan to do any, but history is full of people claiming things like and going back years later and doing exactly what they said they would never do... I won't make any more films with him, I won't record any more albums with them... I won't invade Poland.

3 • 
Avatar image for NTM23
NTM23

1282

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By NTM23

I hope the writing is better than the last game, that was one of the issues I had with it. Writing, as well as voice work could have been better. Camilla did a good job I thought though. That's not to put down the writers abilities, I just thought it could have been a whole lot better.

2 • 
Avatar image for sonypony4eva
SonyPony4eva

711

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 5

Edited By SonyPony4eva

@NTM23: Tomb Raider Definitive Edition wasn't a bad game at all, but the ending made absolutely no sense at all lol. I was like " What The F^%k?," while scratching my head lol.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for bubba_666
Bubba_666

829

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 5

WHO CARES, WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES....I'M ABOUT TO CANCEL MY PRE_ORDER BECAUSE YOU"RE F##KING RUINING IT FOR ME. SHUT UP ALREADY!!!!!!!!! CAN I GET AN AMEN!!! JESUS,MARY,JOSEPH AND GENE SIMMONS, ENOUGH ALREADY!!

2 • 
Avatar image for musalala
musalala

3075

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@bubba_666: I think these articles are basically native advertising, they arent supposed to inform us of anything or help us get new info its straight up shilling for the game

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Snapdragon1
Snapdragon1

229

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@bubba_666: AMEN !

2 • 
Avatar image for Chr0noid
Chr0noid

207

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

Edited By Chr0noid

Rhianna Pratchett is a hack who has no idea what makes Lara Croft, Lara CROFT. She has all but butchered the Tomb Raider series to be honest. Also, I love how she says "you have to use mechanics to support video game narratives."

OH, so that's why there was a jarring disconnect between in-game Lara and cutscene Lara in the previous game? Where the former was Rambo and the latter was almost a rape victim who constantly had to tell herself "You can do this!"? Yeah, way to use those game mechanics in tandem with the narrative there Pratchett.

3 • 
Avatar image for punches4lunches
punches4lunches

69

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

Edited By punches4lunches

@Chr0noid: She wasn't the only person working on the game.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for BradBurns
BradBurns

1166

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

That's nice and all but no short shorts Lara no buy.

Not a big fan of this new, dumpy, flannel shirt wearing Lara.

2 • 
Avatar image for randybumgardner
RandyBumGardner

257

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 5

It's uninspiring, clichéd and dull. The writer has done the bare minimum possible.

Only difference now is the original Tomb Raider charm and puzzles have also gone.

5 • 
Avatar image for Duremioh
Duremioh

62

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

So maybe stupid question but is she related to Terry Pratchett??

Upvote • 
Avatar image for RedWave247
RedWave247

1915

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@Duremioh: His daughter, in fact!

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@RedWave247: Shame she seems to have inherited all her writing "talent" from her mother.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for pinkcrocodile75
pinkcrocodile75

7

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@TTDog: Woah!

OK, first of the story was on parr with Uncharted 1, 2 and 3. Good but no Shakespear. Second, if you can do better, then I suggest you put your wedding tackle on the chopping block and write and post a revised script that you think is better than hers. Then wait for all the wannabee critics here to hack off your love spuds.

Everyone's a critic these day and most of the critics have "No Telent" as you put it

2 • 
Avatar image for p1p3dream
p1p3dream

1527

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

I respect they stuck with the same writer, keeps some cohesion to the tonality of the games. Like others, I wasn't especially into the story of the first game- but I think its important to remember that ultimately in video games the writing seems to take a back seat to everything else. You can have the best script in the world, but it can be torn to shreds through editing and pacing and the actual directing.

2 • 
Avatar image for deactivated-58b0b257815cf
deactivated-58b0b257815cf

950

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 5

Honestly not a very good writer. The story in the reboot was melodramatic and cliche.

6 • 
Avatar image for jporter313
jporter313

461

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 1

@slappy54:

Man, I totally disagree, how was it melodramatic?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for kenundrum7
kenundrum7

380

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 49

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: I agree. I couldn't get into the Tomb Raider reboot at all. It seemed they were more interested in telling a story, then making a game, and IMO they failed at both.

The gameplay for Uncharted wasn't very good, but the story was much, much better.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for TTDog
TTDog

3424

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 70

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: Too much "riding daddies coat tales" in my mind... the writing in game one was just lazy.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for RedWave247
RedWave247

1915

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: Because the Tomb Raider series has always been known for its deep, meaningful storytelling?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for deactivated-58b0b257815cf
deactivated-58b0b257815cf

950

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 5

@RedWave247:

Tell that to Crystal Dynamics, they're the ones who tried to tell a deep, meaningful story.

3 • 
Avatar image for Chr0noid
Chr0noid

207

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: Keyword being "tried"

Upvote • 
Avatar image for RedWave247
RedWave247

1915

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: *shrug* I'd argue it's at least better than previous TR entries.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for consolehaven
ConsoleHaven

1463

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 7

User Lists: 5

@slappy54: I was telling myself how Uncharted (wait there's a link to TR here) did wrong by including supernatural elements into its storytelling. Then I wondered, what exactly is the inspiration for the game? While it felt a lot like a modern day Tomb Raider game, Uncharted probably drew most of its inspiration from Indiana Jones, which has supernatural elements woven into every movie.

So, while I'm not a fan of the whole, 'The Mythical legend is true' twist towards the end of Uncharted, and the narrative elements of TR either, I think the developers were basically sinking their teeth in the genre, and maybe took too big a bite. If they can tone down those elements in the sequel, it'll be a better game for it. That said, I played TR for the gameplay and exploration elements in the amazing environment that Crystal Dynamics crafted.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for nyran125tk
nyran125tk

745

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@consolehaven: I've always enjoyed the stories in Tomb Raider. Even the older games. Tomb Raider is the female version of Indiana Jones.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Smaug317
Smaug317

356

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@slappy54: I thought the story was pretty good. A lot better than "I'm looking for an artifact and omg end of the world nazis!"

It was cliche, but I felt that it was meant that way. The game played out like an action movie.

3 • 
  • 55 results
  • 1
  • 2