Mere’s Edge: Rhianna Pratchett Not Writing Mirror’s Edge 2

By Nathan Grayson on January 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

hey faith what are you up to oh you know me just haaaaaaaaanging out [audience goes wild]

Rhianna Pratchett’s writerly quill has guided the words and deeds of many a game character, but that won’t be the case with Faith in Mirror’s Edge 2. Fresh off stints on the likes of Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, and Beat Buddy, Pratchett is not reconvening with DICE and EA. She was apparently never even contacted. But perhaps it’s for the better, as Pratchett wasn’t particularly pleased with how the original Mirror’s Edge turned out in the story department.

She explained the situation on Twitter:

“It’s really lovely that people care enough to ask whether I’m involved with Mirror’s Edge 2, but I’m not and wasn’t asked. By all accounts it’s a new team on it, so go with God, I say. Create cool stuff. We always need more of that.”

She went on to note that “no one [she] worked with” from the original Mirror’s Edge team is at DICE anymore. As for how the original turned out, well, it had a great premise and a lackluster plot. For her part, Pratchett wasn’t afraid to own up to the spots where Faith and friends fell off a metaphorical roof.

“Let’s face it ME1′s story didn’t review that great (for many reasons). So I consider myself a casualty of that development process. The script got hacked up at the 11th hour due to a decision to remove all of Faith’s level dialogue. Too much of the game had been designed before they got me in, which made what we could do more limited.”

So basically, writing for big-budget games in a nutshell. Narrative is rarely a focus, it gets treated as an afterthought, and the most ambitious chunks often end up in blood-red piles on the cutting room floor. It’s an unfortunate practice, but hardly an uncommon one.

I suppose we can hope that Mirror’s Edge 2 will end up in a better place plot-wise, but who knows? Recent Battlefield plots don’t lend much in the way of confidence, but Mirror’s Edge is an entirely different animal. Let us pray for something interesting, or at least not a dystopic future graywar in which Faith shoots a skyscraper that is also a gun with an arsenal of military grade guns that are also guns.

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108 Comments »

  1. c-Row says:

    So she won’t help writing a good story because the prequel had none, therefore ME2 won’t have one neither. Yeah, that makes total sense.

    • Hahaha says:

      Where does help come in to it?

    • mukuste says:

      Huh? She won’t write for ME2 because she wasn’t asked to.

      • c-Row says:

        Yes, but the article makes it sound like that’s a good thing.

        • mukuste says:

          I… don’t know how you read that into it.

          • c-Row says:

            But perhaps it’s for the better

            Right there?

          • Lars Westergren says:

            I read that as “better for her”, as she was being creatively hamstrung.

            I think one of the writers at Torment:Numenera blogged about excited he/she was about working on a game where narrative was the core focus. Industry standard often being asked late in the process to cobble something together that make something coherent out of a bunch of awesome set pieces, game mechanics and concept art that has already been created.

        • Triangulon says:

          And even if the article makes it sound a good thing, that doesn’t mean Rhianna has chosen not to help or actually done anything. Your comment seems to place blame, or certainly criticism, on her. Also FYI Mirrors Edge 2 is the prequel.

          • c-Row says:

            Prequel ingame, sequel in real world time. Come on, do I really have to explain everything? I thought you guys were smarter than the average endless bear.

          • Philomelle says:

            I’m sorry, but your use of that word is still about as correct as your understanding of the article.

          • c-Row says:

            Yeah, whatever. My original point still stands – Nathan makes it sound like it’s a good thing a well respected writer won’t be involved, but this won’t improve the quality of ME2′s writing in any way, so why is “for the better”?

          • Philomelle says:

            It’s for the better because poor Pratchett really doesn’t need another game where the publisher treats her writing (and the game’s narrative as a whole) as a disposable afterthought for her portfolio. She already has quite enough of that.

          • Smashbox says:

            A truly great writer indeed.

        • kwyjibo says:

          It is a good thing that she isn’t involved, the narrative was by far the worst thing about the original game. I don’t think you can absolve the blame from any of the writers regardless of their constraints.

    • ratking says:

      Though it’s not a prequel – prequels are sequels that tell about previous events in the timeline.

  2. Don Reba says:

    To be fair, the story mode in Mirror’s Edge is just an extended tutorial. The real game starts afterwards.

    • mouton says:

      You mean team deathmatch and CTF?

      • Muzman says:

        Racing and time trials presumably.
        Although I’d say it’s the other way around. The game is always criticised for being so much trial and error, too much difficulty spiking to really keep the momentum flowing, which is when the game is at its best. A fair crticism to be sure.
        But if you spent some time doing racing and time trials first, or they had spaced them through the game or something, you would be much more familiar with its weird skill set and rather large range of possibilities byt the time it came to the story.

      • Don Reba says:

        The time trials. It is just another kind of game. It’s like… you finish the story, and at that point you should know a thing or two, but then you start the trials and — shock — your times are several times slower than what it takes just to get a passing grade.

  3. Meat Circus says:

    There is hope then.

    • RedViv says:

      Hope of the greatest kind: that we will see a writer who would actually prefer the player character to get right to the guns and not mourn the character development before that for an instant. Just what everybody wanted!

    • The Random One says:

      Hope and faith.

  4. SpaecKow says:

    I thought Tomb Raider was hackneyed, I thought a lot of Bioshock Infinite was hammy, games in general are hammy, but Mirror’s Edge was espcially so. I know she writes a lot of other stuff too, I haven’t read it, but insofar as I am familiar with the games she’s worked on I have not enjoyed her work.

    Its a shame because games writing needs female minds quite badly, but they should write snappier and cleverer plots and dialogue than Mirror’s Edge had.

    • Philomelle says:

      Did you miss the part where EA removed 90% of the plot and dialogue she wrote for Mirror’s Edge? Or the sixteen interviews that had her comment that her writing for Tomb Raider was under insanely strict guidelines from both the developer and the publisher?

      If you want to read her actual work, you should go try Risen, Overlord and Prince of Persia (2008). She admittedly only wrote the localization for Risen, but it was a pretty good one. The side dialogue for Prince of Persia is also considered to be some of the best in gaming and she wrote all of it. Divine Divinity: The Prophecy, the prequel novella included in most currently available versions of the game, is also her work.

      It’s kind of sad because her writing really is good whenever she’s allowed to actually write for the game she is hired for. Which, as you might guess from her AAA portfolio, doesn’t happen often.

      • SpaecKow says:

        I didn’t know she wrote PoP. I think that game is charming and cute but I do not know if I’d call the banter between the prince and the girl some of the best ever. Its nice but it’s not amazing to me, and being able to write that sort of thing which is very much in a Disney movie sort of area of dialogue doesn’t mean you can write more serious things. Kind of like how Joss Whedon does really well with broad genre stuff that appeals to geeks but struggles to find an audience outside of that (Dollhouse).

        • dE says:

          I’m wondering two things:
          1) Did you finish the game?
          2) Did you fish for additional conversation lines?

          The automatic banter between the two is a bit shallow and many dismissed it outright. But it’s when you engage in the dialogues that you see actual character development and depth and what builds up to that ending.

          • SpaecKow says:

            I tried to get a bit of the banter but didn’t dig too deeply, no.

            This is a thing people say about ME3 as well. I would walk around the Normandy in ME3 fobbing NPCs to get something, anything, interesting out of them, and you would. There are good convos to have between Garrus and Shepard and Tali and others too, but if I have to hunt for good interactions between characters that is a pretty awful state of affairs for a game’s story. If the same is true for PoP that’s not a great recommendation – why would you hide your best dialogue in optional player interactions?

          • dE says:

            It’s a gamedesign problem really. It’s not so much that they’re hidden, it’s more a case of them not fitting into the gameplay and a whole lot of people not giving the slightest damn about a game’s narrative. The narrative seemed like a compromise to the basic idea that the player dictates the pace of the game. It was up to the player to decide where to go, how to explore and what orbs to collect.
            Implementing a narrative in that scenario is a nightmare. You can’t just randomly play dialogue in the background, it will get drowned out by the noise. You also can’t really adjust the game to just play the dialogue in the silent parts because the players might be wherever the hell they want to be. This is why you see so many games use long and narrow corridors to jog down, just so the dialogue can play out in a controlled environment. And people rage about that. You could try to force cutscenes at certain points but too many of those and… people rage. What they did was a very gamey decision in the end, if the player is to control pace and direction, let them also control when they hear the dialogue. It’s a good compromise really.

      • SpaecKow says:

        As for removing work from mirror’s edge that doesn’t account for writing really silly clunky dialogue of itself. Excising content may kill interpersonal relationships between characters and plotting so yes lets forgive that but it doesn’t forgve REALLY inelegant dialogue

        • Philomelle says:

          I’m admittedly a huge Disney nut, but I struggle to see how “Disney movie sort of area” is a bad thing. Disney had their rough patch in the 90s, but the reason they became so famous in the first place is because their movies are almost always exceptionally written on top of being beautiful. At their prime, Disney staff understands to fuse showing with telling rather than prioritize either one or the other. Prince of Persia admittedly fails at that – it shows and tells separately from each other – but what it shows is beautiful and what it tells about character through their dialogue is touching.

          That said, I agree that she writes lighter stuff a bit better than darker. I did enjoy what she did with Risen and especially with Heavenly Sword, though the latter was also her as a co-writer (and the story was the only truly good part of that game). I’d also argue that she wasn’t really allowed to take full control over a darker project yet and so we don’t know how she’ll fare if allowed to write a serious story.

          As for Mirror’s Edge, being a writer myself, I’ll tell you that removing a huge chunk of dialogue in the middle often affects how the dialogue in the beginning and the end flows together. I imagine that was the issue with Mirror’s Edge.

          • SpaecKow says:

            Its not a bad thing. Or even a criticism, its just that being able to write good YA/Childrens style dialogue and character interaction doesn’t mean you can do well in other areas as well. I like Disney films, I saw Frozen recently and enjoyed it, but I can never get satisfaction out of something like Frozen that I can out of a film thta speaks more directly to me. So while Rihanna may be quite good at writing that sort of thing (and there should definitely be games like that) it would not suit Mirror’s Edge in my opinion and it would not be very entertaining for me personally, nor I imagine many others.

            But more importantly, games are rather infantile already, even when they’re trying not to be, in fact, especially when they try to be serious and adult and explore “themes” they trip over them and fall on their face, so the more skilled writers who can write harder more dramatic stories the better, cause that’s what games have the least of right now.

          • Philomelle says:

            Honestly, in this case, I think we simply have different preferences in game writing. Frozen didn’t speak directly to you or me, but I met people to whom it did speak directly and whom it touched on a very personal level. For me, Disney movies that did it were Treasure Planet and Hunchback of Notre Dame, plus Toy Story if you count Pixar. I didn’t care for Brave as much as I wanted to, but I know someone who broke out into tears while watching it. And so on.

            I almost want to say that Pratchett simply didn’t get her chance in the spotlight yet, but I disagree with that as well. Tomb Raider’s depiction of Lara touched me in a way I didn’t expect. Another friend of mine could chat about the emotions Prince of Persia gave her for hours. So there are two people her writing has touched.

            That said, I do think she needs to finally get a project where she’s not restrained by the executive board. Game industry has begun to place more focus on writing recently, so she just might get her chance.

      • mouton says:

        Regarding Rhianna’s actual work, one doesn’t even have to go that far – Mirror’s Edge comic book mini series is a lot better than the writing in the game.

        Sucks how horrible ME writing damaged her reputation. She shouldn’t have let them use her name.

        • Philomelle says:

          Tomb Raider has the same thing. The comic book is surprisingly well-written and builds on the characters shown in the game considerably.

          I actually wonder if the reason why I enjoyed Tomb Raider’s writing was because I got the comic book from my pre-order and read it before starting the game, so I knew more about the secondary characters than someone who simply started the game would.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        “The side dialogue for Prince of Persia is also considered to be some of the best in gaming”

        I have literally never heard this before, ever, not once. Stop plucking things out of your ass because you like this woman please.

        • Philomelle says:

          Then I suppose it’s about time for you to start reading reviews and general opinions.

        • The Random One says:

          I personally do consider PoP:SoT’s dialogue to be bloody brilliant, so now you’re heard it once.

          • Geebs says:

            Yeah, SoT’s dialogue is brilliant. Shame that Rhianna Pratchett didn’t write it!

    • LionsPhil says:

      games writing needs female minds quite badly

      Doesn’t it need good writing minds quite badly, regardless of what they have stashed below the belt?

      • SpaecKow says:

        Didn’t I say exactly that?

        • dE says:

          To me, it looked like you put the emphasize on the gender of the writer and not the quality of writing. So no, you didn’t or at least it did not come across as such.

          • SpaecKow says:

            What I said was NOT that female writers are a good in of themselves, but good writers who are as frequently female as male are something to be strived for. If I talked about women specifically its because there is a shortage of women in those jobs, not men.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Only if you are somehow using “female” and “good” as interchangeable words.

          Are you?

        • mouton says:

          I hear Stephanie Meyer is available.

      • Bull0 says:

        I think it needs good minds quite badly regardless of whether they’re writers, programmers, whatever.

        • BooleanBob says:

          Nay, sir, most importantly it needs good things quite badly, regardless or whether they be minds, teeth, sprockets or pistachio nuts.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      Simply being female still makes her too much of a majority group, what we really need is transsexual aboriginal dwarf writers.

    • kalirion says:

      I thought the Tomb Raider narrative was pretty good, just fell apart when interacting with the more open portions of the game.

      OMG I gotta hurry and save Sam now! Ooh, is that a relic over there on the cliffside? Let’s try to figure out a way to it … and what’s this? An Optional TOMB! Exploration time!

  5. SanguineAngel says:

    I… quite liked the story in ME1. It was simple and unprepossessing. I am aware that much/all of it was written to fit into already designed sections of the game but it was straight forward 90′s cop movie style fare with some fairly well drawn but stylised characters as I recall and a constant sense of progression, which for me was the most important thing.

    Having read many of Rhianna Pratchett’s words on writing theory I believe she is a good thing for games writing in general and her ideas are refreshing. I deem it a shame that she is not involved myself. I think she is a competent writer.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      I too see nothing wrong with the story. Transfomers 2 and 3 mind you… but ME(dge)1 was fine by writing and story telling. Nothing special, but nothing to complain about either.

    • mouton says:

      ME story was just bad. Dialogues were poor, tropes were tired and the whole plot was ridiculous. I mean, what’s the best weapon against runners? Corporate sponsored runners, of course!

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        That made me think of

        “Send a maniac to catch a maniac”

  6. Runs With Foxes says:

    Just get one of the QA kids to write the story on his day off, that’s all you need in a Mirror’s Edge game.

  7. Kubrick Stare Nun says:

    From what I have heard this new ME game is going to be a reboot and not sequel.

    • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

      I think officially it doesn’t even have a ’2′ in front of the name.

      • Xocrates says:

        I do hope they at least call it Mirror’s Edge: Subtitle, because having only two games in the series and giving them the exact same name is beyond stupid.

        • Kubrick Stare Nun says:

          Not to mention all the confusion it generates.

        • AbigailBuccaneer says:

          Ever since Thifourf, I’ve been pushing for game numbers to be integrated into the words of the title. Mirr2r’s Edge?

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      This whole trend of naming a game after the original is stupid.
      “Lets make a game that has very little to do with the original, plays differently, contains different characters, is set in a different place, wasn’t made by our company AT ALL*. Then we’ll give it a well known name because that will sell better than letting our talented people actually create something new and interesting.”

      *Yes I know in this case DICE made the original also, for the most part these reboot games aren’t though. Still don’t see why it doesn’t have a subtitle of some sort to distinguish it from the original which wasn’t exactly released ages ago. (FYI there is also a completely separate mobile game called……Mirrors Edge :-S

  8. XhomeB says:

    I don’t want to sound disrespectful, I’m sure she’s a good person etc., but the only game I feel she did a solid job writing a script for was Overlord. She can blame the men in suits as far as Mirror’s Edge is concerned, but look at her latest work: Tomb Raider. OH DEAR. That was easily one of the worst written games in recent memory.
    -Laughably simplistic plot that is all over the place,
    -Uwe Boll-quality dialogues,
    -terrible, TERRIBLE characters (boring stereotypes straight from a Saturday morning cartoon, also, what on Earth prompted the writer to introduce all human races under the sun, with hilarious accents no less? I get it, political corectness is all the rage right now, but the result was a multi-ethnic cast that bore a striking resemblance to Captain Planet, and that’s not a compliment. It was beyond STUPID, I couldn’t take the Endurance crew seriously – and every time they opened their mouths, I felt like quitting the game).

    • Diziet Sma says:

      You may want to read more about the creative process re: her writing on tomb raider before passing judgement.

      • SMGreer says:

        Exactly. So much of the plot/characters were already outlined before her involvement. Plus, I think overall the writing in Tomb Raider was fine and far, far from the worst video games have to offer. Go watch some cutscenes from Gears of War 3 if you want a glimpse.

        • Philomelle says:

          My favorite part of the writing in Tomb Raider was that if you dig through the various side documents and diaries of Endurance’s crew that you can find in the wilderness, you’ll discover that characters who survive in the end of the game get some incredibly well-written pieces that really advance and expand on what you see in the cutscenes, as well as explain why they act the way they do.

          It’s like a huge secret hint on who survives via giving only characters who will show up in later games any optional narrative screentime.

          As a side note, I’m still sad that she wasn’t allowed to make Lara gay in that game. I mean, she still had a lot of fun with dropping hundreds of hints, but I feel like there could be more.

          • strangeloup says:

            Lara wasn’t canonically gay? It certainly seemed very, very strongly hinted at, but it wasn’t ever made a big deal of.

            I liked that.

      • XhomeB says:

        Do you have any links?
        To be honest, the end result is what matters, and it’s awful. Besides, why did she agree to the contract terms if she had known she’d be so restricted? Yes, I know, times are tough, tell me about it, but still…

        • Lord of the Fungi says:

          I did play most of the games she wrote for, or at seen them being played (I watched Tomb Raider from couch), except for Overlord, and I don’t think story was great. Mind you, I liked Mirror’s Edge minimalistic story far better that the cliches of Tomb Raider, not to mention I found ME gameplay much more interesting. Prince of Persia 2008 was a disappointment on both counts. Nevertheless, if someone has one game’s story ruined by executive meddling, I can understand that, but when each game is apparently borked by everyone else, save the writers? That sounds less convincing. I think writing a story for a game has to be done in synergy with developing game mechanics. If a writer decides to join the team at the last moment, then it should be clear that a great story won’t be a result. I understand the economy is tough, but that does not seem like having too much respect for your own profession.

        • jonahcutter says:

          “But still…” what?

          When you work from job to job without a steady position/paycheck, as is the case in much of the entertainment industry, you’ll regularly take gigs that extremely limit what you can do creatively. Or your particular skillset is being used to “create” something that has already been imagined and designed by others. You might be fleshing it out a bit as you go, but the major design choices could have already been determined and you’re basically turning the crank.

          And you do it for the income. Simply to pay the rent sometimes. Other times, a big, fat payoff for a more commercial project can provide a cushion for a more creative, but less lucrative, opportunity down the road. It’s not as much to do with the state of the economy as the general nature of a system structured around contracted, for-hire work.

          I’m not all that impressed with the writing in the games she has worked on. But if she claims she was limited in what she could do by those who control the purse strings, I would definitely give her the benefit of the doubt. In my experience, that’s generally the rule, not the exception.

        • Muzman says:

          The conditions in games writing sound very much like what you hear about modern journalism. You take the job because you want to write and get paid for it. But no matter where you go, actually – movies, licensed novels, you name it – page one of the contract is “you don’t own shit and we can use any or none of your work in whatever form we like” In exchange you get paid and you get credit. Unless you are god king who writes his/her own contracts you get what you’re damn well given.
          Usually the process is not quit this brutal but it’s standard that you relinquish everything.
          In journalism however, the process is more immediate. You take the notes and write them up on some interesting city council shenanigans. Then your line editor takes to it for a different one, then a sub cuts half of it out, then another sub reworks it into a different piece, then the managing editor sends it back down as it could be construed as a negative slant on (some municipal figure) and we’re being nice to them this week and another sub reworks it some more until its a lifestyle piece.
          In a film at least a writer is key creative helping guide the product to a hopefully cohesive goal. Even when not, the script is an important guide to the overall.
          On a game, as in a newspaper, a writer is merely providing one of several competing strands of content into a system whose goals and balance of those strands can change on a whim.

    • Bull0 says:

      I actually thought the diverse cast made a lot of sense in Tomb Raider. I basically agree with the rest of it, didn’t think it was well-written, but I thought drawing the cast from a good varieties of ethnicities made sense with the whole “gap-year archaeology” thing. If you really think it was done for “political correctness” that’s a bit weird.

      *edit* bit of a reply fail, just to be clear I’m replying to XhorneB :)

      • Philomelle says:

        There’s also the part where they’re a ship crew. If you ever interact with a ship captain (which I do a lot, living in a port city where a lot of families consider sailing to be a family business), you’ll learn that sailing is a business where you pick up people for skills and group synergy wherever you can, and forget the ethnicity.

        ( Not that ethnicity is always unimportant. My father, for example, is so bad at working with Greeks that any mention of their culture ends in a frustrated 40-minute rant. )

  9. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    I was quite unimpressed by the story of ME, and especially by the cringe-worthy animated cutscenes.

    There were, however, some bits I found appealing. The scene in which you hug your sister was great, and served to point out how seldom game characters actually have believable relationships with each other.

    I don’t know that RP can be blamed, for the reasons outlined in the article, but her being involved in the sequel or not doesn’t really matter to me. We shall simply have to see what EA/DICE comes up with and hope it’s not a complete disaster.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      At the end of the day I’m not sure the writing in Mirrors Edge matters all that much. Its a game about feeling cool as fuck while running across roofs. Some people, especially on this website, seem obsessed with game narrative like its an overall indicator of a games quality, however ME could have very little storyline and still be good. The story could be the best ever and the gameplay shit and it would be a shit game.

      I love good story in games, doesn’t mean every game has to have killer narrative and storyline and it’s likely that the decisions to cut dialogue etc as described are because it affects the pacing of the game. We’ve all experienced the frustration of having to constantly sit through dialogue and cutscenes when all you want to do is actually play the damn game. Writers are storytellers and if you gave full creative control to them it is obvious every game would end up heavy on the story and lots of games may turn into a frustrating experience due to the player being forced to sit through too much dialogue and story development. This is why dev teams need to make decisions to trim this down, it doesn’t make them evil suits that hate a storyline, they just have lots of aspects to consider in their game and decisions have to be made.

  10. Gap Gen says:

    I was about to say that films don’t suffer from this kind of disrespect for narrative, and then I remembered Michael Bay and George Lucas. Oh, and that book where they hacked out half the narrative to put in shinier fonts.

    • Lars Westergren says:

      Deckard: “Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date.”

      Or the voice over narration in the beginning of Dark City which explains the mystery slowly unravelled over the film. Because “test audiences got confused”.

  11. hypercrisis says:

    I don’t understand the hype around this person’s writing. Looking through their wiki nothing stands out as particularly noteworthy in that department, unless Viking Battle for Asgard is a hidden masterpiece, because I’ve never played that one.

  12. psuedonymous says:

    She went on to note that “no one [she] worked with” from the original Mirror’s Edge team is at DICE anymore.

    This is the much more worrying takeaway. Unless she is only referring to the writing team rather than the entire development team.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I took it to mean the writing staff, could be wrong though it is fairly ambiguous.

  13. Syme says:

    Story isn’t the most important part of ME anyway, they need to work on the parts where you have to run across a massive room with no cover and disarm men who are peppering you with bullets or where they decide the best thing to do with a beautiful free running game is throw you into cramped, claustrophobic areas and vents. Several times, I was crying out “I thought I put it on easy mode!”

  14. Foosnark says:

    Here’s how I witnessed the narrative process for one particular game I worked on (not Mirror’s Edge or anything EA-related):

    – staff member who also happens to be a published author writes some background and dialog.
    – boss skims it, decides to change all the names, then decides to “simplify” the plot and make it “edgier” by throwing away most of it and adding his own not very clever twist.
    – boss gets numbers-oriented game designer to write a summary of the boss’s version of the background and to make up some dialog.
    – crap story gets submitted to crap third-party video production team. crap dialog is read by two actual voice actors and a bunch of us devs.
    – the story wasn’t even the worst part of the game.
    – game flops, surprising no one.

    A similar process happened with music. Two musicians on the staff, though that’s not what we were paid for. On our own time, we recorded background music for menu screens and so on. Boss hires prominent game music producer to do a couple of main bits for the crap FMV. Lead developer decides music isn’t important, squashes it into 8Khz mono WAV files; knows nothing about stereo phase cancellation. Unfortunately does not ignite from the intense glares of loathing he’s given.

  15. araczynski says:

    the first game sucked (judging by what i gathered from a brief demo playthrough), and since its EA again….

    i consider the first one to be the filthy, diseased, cancerous spark that started the endless runner shitstorm that has infested all mobile platforms, with their endless IAP consumables.

    • hypercrisis says:

      I don’t see the correlation there at all

    • Erinduck says:

      So you only played the demo, you completely misunderstood the game, and thought that it was more of a factor in endless runners on mobile than the fact that endless runners work on mobile due to typically only needing one button for input.

      Oooookay…

    • Matt_W says:

      This must be a troll comment. Mirror’s Edge is to endless runners as Doom is to real time strategy.

  16. mouton says:

    Warren Ellis – an esteemed comic book and book writer – had a similar experience with Dead Space although I think he pulled out of it earlier. He contributed and, according to him, they totally butchered the content he provided. That is why now he refuses to write for video games unless he gets listed as a producer.

    I read the Mirror’s Edge comic book mini series by Rhianna Pratchett and I can confirm it is considerably better than the writing in the game, so I have little doubt her claims are true. It saddens me how this whole debacle damaged her name.

    • Lord of the Fungi says:

      Writing for comics books and writing for games is a whole different story. In fact writing books is different than comic books, and writing movies is even more different that that, they are all channels where creators have complete control. In video games, there is still player using game mechanics (even though some game creators would like to forget about that and just shove the story into the player’s throat – I’m looking at you, Max Payne 3), the challenges are completely different so skill in one area doesn’t necessarily transfer to the other.

      • Philomelle says:

        That would imply Warren Ellis had no experience with writing for video games before Dead Space. Cold Winter for PS2 and Hostile Waters for PC were both written by him with very decent results. Cold Winter’s story, in particular, was nominated for multiple awards in the year it came out.

        He also wrote the screenplay for G.I. Joe: Resolute, which is considered to be the best G.I. Joe thing ever produced (and has one of the best fights in the history of animation). This one is particularly interesting because Hasbro, that massive titan who owns both G.I. Joe and Transformers, trusted him completely and gave him almost complete creative freedom (AFAIK the only thing they forbid him was obliterate Beijing on-screen because they were afraid China would get butthurt about it).

        So no, EA not trusting Warren Ellis with Dead Space is baffling because every game and movie screenplay he provided so far has been met with accolades.

        • Lord of the Fungi says:

          No, that would not imply that, this referred to the Mirror’s Edge comic. Rhianna Pratchett may write decent comics, but not be good at games, while Warren Ellis can still be good at both (not that I hold any opinion here, as I did not play Cold Winder nor Hostile Waters). Alternatively, Warren Ellis is better at choosing projects to work with, but that is also a important skill.

          • Philomelle says:

            Except Pratchett proved again and again that she’s a very good video game writer, seeing as you’re the only person I’ve ever seen who didn’t enjoy Prince of Persia’s character banter. You also admitted to not having played the one game she wrote that gave her full narrative control.

            But she does need to finally find a project with creative freedom. I half-suspect at this point that AAA-publishers only recruit her because her surname is an excellent marketing buzzword due to her father’s titanic reputation.

          • Lacero says:

            The lesson I take from it all is that the quality of the writer isn’t a big factor in the quality of the end result.

            It’s how they integrate into the team and the developer that are making the game that matters, and also how early they get integrated. Because of this hiring big name writers is just a bad idea in general.

            And if you must do it you’d need to do it up front, like hollywood does. A lotof the AAA “games” are as much game as a visual novel now anyway so writing it before making the tech and art is probably the right thing to do.

          • mouton says:

            @Lacero

            That is why Ellis is not going to do it unless he gets a bigger dose of control over how his writings are used. And yes, big names are unlikely due to how subordinate and prone to editing game writers must be. Unless a writer is deeply enmeshed in the whole process (like, say, Avellone) or there is a deep trust and cooperation with developers, he or she will probably not like what is done with his work.

          • Lacero says:

            Avellone is a great example. But even a middling quality writer who is a long term part of the studio will give better results in the industry than a hired gun.

          • mouton says:

            Hired writers _could_ do well. It is all a question of priorities and writing seldom is anywhere near the top. Oftentimes I feel like the story and dialogues were written by a random team member who happened to have a moment.

  17. TheBarringGaffner says:

    I really don’t get why Rhianna Pratchett is considered such a big deal. While she might be very good when not held back or heavily edited, I’ve never seen that demonstrated. She seems like a pretty unremarkable writer, not to personally insult her.

  18. Shooop says:

    Don’t worry Nathan, there’ll be enough lens flare you won’t be able to see any of the guns you’re shooting. Which will be all the time.

  19. cthulhie says:

    Let us pray for something interesting, or at least not a dystopic future graywar in which Faith shoots a skyscraper that is also a gun with an arsenal of military grade guns that are also guns.

    I think there’s a typo here. You imply we would *not* want what you’ve just described.

  20. Cytrom says:

    Mirrors edge never needed a story anyways… it could have been brilliant if it just had more creative open ended levels to run freely or you know.. do deliveries.. like what you were supposed to do according to the little story there was. A bit more objective variety than “run while you are being shot at” couldnt have hurt either.

    In any case gameplay > story, especially for a game thats only gimick is a new type of gameplay.

  21. Smoky_the_Bear says:

    I’m kind of sick of reading these articles about her and the person she co-wrote Tomb Raider with, that’s more than one article about both of them I’ve read where they are slating developers, publishers, everyone they worked with on previous projects.
    I wouldn’t hire this person back either given that it seems she either wants full creative control over the dev team or will then turn around and badmouth the company for the decisions that were made. She seems to blame everyone else

    “Let’s face it ME1′s story didn’t review that great (for many reasons). So I consider myself a casualty of that development process. The script got hacked up at the 11th hour due to a decision to remove all of Faith’s level dialogue. Too much of the game had been designed before they got me in, which made what we could do more limited.”

    She’s a casualty of the development process, she joined too late, blah blah blah. She’s just spraying blame over everyone but herself here.

    • RhiannaP says:

      Smokey – At what point did I say, or even vaguely suggest, that I wanted full creative control? I didn’t. I am a freelance writer. I don’t have ‘control’ in the same way that someone like Ken Levine or Amy Hennig does. Therefore how well I can do my job (how well *any* freelance writer can do their job) is dependent on things like when I’m brought on board and the attitude of the team towards narrative.

      However, if we pretend that what goes on during the development process doesn’t have an impact on the finished product and no one can talk about why things go wrong, how this impacts narrative and what can be done different in the future, then we will NEVER progress this aspect of the medium.

      I spoke about me being hired late (they couldn’t find a writer) and the script being cut (because they decided it was too distracting to have Faith speak in levels) about 4 or 5 years ago. Mainly because I was being ASKED about it. I explained the reasons for it from Dice’s side and why I felt that it ultimately had an impact on the finished story. I did this this as diplomatically as possible, but I also thought it was important to highlight the ways in which the nature of games development can sometimes damage story. Partly in the hopes that it might be somewhat of a cautionary tale.

      I also spoke about what I’d learned from the experience, mainly about being more proactive, making sure that I was more imbedded in the development process etc. I gained some value lessons from working on that project. Sometimes you learn as much from when something doesn’t go your way, as when it does.

      Also, I don’t have a ‘history of bad mouthing’ companies. Although considering what I’ve been through in the past and what many other games writers go through every day, that’s bloody remarkable. Nevertheless, please do not make shit up about me.

  22. Jakkar says:

    She has forgotten the face of her father.

    Every bloody game she’s written I’ve played without knowing it, absolutely hated the writing, then discovered why… I can only guess this is a case of the child attempting to follow the parent, and the celebrity name carrying her through. Tomb Raider was a subject of comedy, I’d play it when friends were around because we found it ‘so bad it’s good’, for the first few hours. Mirror’s Edge was… Tacky, simply put.

    I’d ask if it’s too much to ask that we have truly decent writing by the standards of the cinematic and literary worlds, but we already have had that, and often, between around 97 and 2004… With decreasing incidence in more recent years, largely due to the phenomenon of ‘celebrity game writers’, methinks. Fond memories of Planescape Torment. But hell, even Borderlands and Bulletstorm win on the writing front, through simple, filthy, hilarious banter. The more serious a game, then less I find I can safely expect from its writing. Comedy is no easier than a somber plot, so that’s no excuse.

    • RhiannaP says:

      Jakkar – I have a known surname and that’s what carries me through? Are you serious? Do you REALLY think that’s how it works? My dad isn’t the head of a company I work for, there’s no nepotism happening here. My father has nothing to do with any of this. It doesn’t matter one iota what someone’s surname is in this business, if they can’t do the job, they won’t get the work. That is the simple truth. Hate on my writing all your like, please but don’t dismiss the blood, sweat and tears I’ve shed to get where I am.

      • Geebs says:

        Sorry, you’re saying that being the offspring of somebody famous only helps your career if they actually employ you in some capacity? I get that it’s frustrating, but you cannot possibly believe that to be true. The creative industries are all about who you know.

        • RhiannaP says:

          Geebs – No, but then again I wasn’t writing a list of the ways that having a known parent *could* help your career.

          My father doesn’t work in games. He has no contacts in games. He couldn’t have help me even if I wanted him to. I’ve been in this industry in some capacity for 15 years. I initially started as a games journalist, and I got that job by having played a lot of PC games and being able to write about them in a pleasing fashion. No one helped me, I helped myself.

          But aside from that, when you have to produce creative works on a daily basis your surname is meaningless. It’s not who you are, it’s what you can do. Even if you were in a situation where a parent was putting a good word in, or pulling a few strings, you really wouldn’t get very far unless you had the skills and work ethic to back it up.

          Surname isn’t some magic cheat code. It really isn’t. It’s down to hard work, passion and just a bit of luck. And that’s available to everyone.

          • Geebs says:

            I guess the flip side of having a known surname is the constant tedium of having random jerks on the internet bring it up all of the time! Sorry for laying it on a bit thick, in general I agree with the idea that it would be good if there was more room for writing in games.

    • marrakoosh says:

      Firstly, I have to really commend you on having friends. Based on that single post, I deduce your personality to be quite at odds to friend-making. So kudos.

      Secondly, ever think that “it’s so bad, it’s good” could be short-cutted by “it’s good”? Hmmm. Perhaps not.

      Finally, writing of cinematic and literary standards? You have to think about these mediums and how they work. Literary? Single dimension – it’s writing. Sole focus. Cinematic? Writing and visuals. Two dimensions. Games? Writing, visuals, platform, gameplay. Four. Twice as many dimensions as cinema. We’re already looking at a lot more work. When it comes down to it, something has to give; quite often it is the writing, but how does it detract from being an enjoyable game? Super Mario Galaxy has little to no real plot or writing. It’s not a story like say The Last of Us, it’s pure gameplay and sodding fun.

      Also, are you seriously pinning down the Golden Age of Story-telling in Gaming as 1997-2004? F**k me. Move on.

      Finally (truly finally now), your penultimate sentence really gives you very good insight…

      >> The more serious a game, then less I find I can safely expect from its writing.

      Perhaps it’s just that serious games aren’t necessarily your thing? For me, I can’t stand Saints Row. People can talk about how great it is until the end of days, but I do not enjoy games that are that silly and find it irritating and unenjoyable – power to those that do though (it’s very similar to South Park, which I really dislike). Borderlands 2; enjoyed it but at times, utter trash and stupid. Myself? I really, really enjoyed Tomb Raider. Bought it on Steam sale. By the time I’d finished it, I realised I would not have felt bad paying full price for that. Can’t wait for the sequel and even tempted by the comic.

      p.s. seeing as you’re so uptight about the story in games, it might be worth you checking who the writer is before you buy the game. Keep you smiling and keep your wallet a bit heavier, so you know, you can go do all those cool things with your friends.

  23. JohnnyFireblade says:

    I’ve just stumbled upon the page (and site) and my immediate reaction is “Whoah there!” Some seriously spiteful words above, which are uncalled for. I’d have reported some for breaching the “However, we will not tolerate spitefulness or rudeness” rule had a report button been present! Personal attacks on anyone’s character is bullying, plain and simple. The authors should be ashamed.

    I for one loved Tomb Raider! I got engrossed in the story and could barely put it down. I’m notorious for hopping between games and never finishing any, but I played Tomb Raider through religiously from beginning to end and only breaking for food/sleep/work/time with child. I never finished Mirror’s Edge, but that was mainly due to the first person mechanics that I couldn’t get on with.

    On the strength of her most recent work, Tomb Raider, I happen to think that Rhianna Pratchett has some very good skills and her pairing with Crystal Dynamics is a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.

    • puppybeard says:

      I hope you don’t judge RPS by a few ignorant comments. It’s my favourite games site by a mile and the actual writers are a a sound bunch.

  24. Megakoresh says:

    I agree, never could bring myself to give a fuck about ME1 storyline. Especially given the ugly cartoons it was delivered with. Which kinda makes me sad that someone as competent as Rhianna won’t be involved in the sequel.