The New Tomb Raider Movie Was Written By A Game Writer

How Come The Game Writer Who Rebirthed Tomb Raider Isn’t In the Credits?

Hmm. I don’t want to throw a lot of shade and grump about how game writers get no love, but it is rather curious.

You see, if you’ve played Crystal Dynamics’ 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, the trailer for the new Tomb Raider movie should look awfully familiarIn fact, IGN has a helpful video that matches the movie trailer shot-for-shot with game footage:

Obviously, the woman who wrote the game script did a hell of a job. The young Lara, the missing father, the ominous threat, the leap into the stormy sea, the pickaxe, the decaying WWII bomber… it’s all there. (We’ll see if the movie also includes some of the game’s more fantastical elements, like the Sun Queen and the demonic Oni.)

Who might this formidible writer be? Well, it’s veteran videogame writer Rhianna Pratchett, who not only worked on Mirror’s Edge, the Overlord games, and Prince of Persia, but is also nerd royalty as daughter of the incomparable Terry Pratchett. (If you haven’t read any TP, get thyself to a bookstore stat!)

And yep. Rhianna is NOT in the IMDB credits for the movie. The two credited are Geneva Robertson-Dworet and Alastair Siddons (which, by the way, are admittedly terrific names for someone writing a Tomb Raider movie), although they are credited as “screenplay by.”

Most tellingly, if you google the trio of Rhianna Pratchett, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, and Alastair Siddons together, you immediately plunge into the dark web like Lara Croft diving into the ocean. Ok, slight exaggeration. But the first hit is the Polish website filmweb.pl, mentioning Rhianna thanks to a comment from a savvy reader, and it gets slighter from there.

So What the Heck Happened?

I’m going to tweet this to Rhianna in hopes that she tells her side of the story. We’ll see. But my guess is that she didn’t have a whole lot of rights in the picture. She delivered a viable story for a game, and of course gave Crystal the ownership of the story for future projects. Like this movie. And fortunately the studio and director Roar Uthaug (another great name, by the way) thought highly of the game’s storyline and chose to keep it for the movie. Perhaps Crystal even required it to follow the game so that the two reboots would cover the same arc.

Typically when you see a movie credit a book or short story author, it’s because the movie’s producers had to approach the author to get the rights to develop their project. In this case, I rather doubt Rhianna had much say in the development of this property. It would’ve been a fine tip of the cap for Crystal Dynamics to ask that her name be in the credits, but maybe they weren’t able to. For all I know, her name will appear in the final credits and the omission is IMDB’s fault.

What Does This Mean For Game Writers?

Congrats to Rhianna, first. It’s a rare treat indeed for a videogame writer to see her work hit the silver screen in identifiable form.

At the same time, if I’m a design lead, I’m never going to mention this example to any of my writers! It’s hard enough trying to produce a cohesive story for a game. The last thing I’d want is my team getting distracted and starry-eyed, thinking that their scripts are going to get picked up by Hollywood.

Okay, Enough Trying To Make Game Writers Seem Important

Now… fight!

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Thinking About Lara Croft

Tomb Raider Is Back

I suppose it’s time to throw a little love Lara’s way. There’s a new Tomb Raider reboot brewing, and the Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light third-person downloadable game prospering (#2 in DLC at the Playstation Store). I’m happy that the execs have recognized that this gaming icon still has value despite having lingered in sequel hell for the past decade or so. And why not? She’s one of the most recognizable heroes in the genre.

The Tomb Raider Reboot

First a quick note about the reboot, which traces Lara’s origins. The key word here is “gritty” and the secondary phrase would be “stellar CG,” although I’m guessing this particular trailer is 100% cutscene (prerendered) and not in-game. Interestingly, there’s not a lot here that hints at gameplay; it’s exceedingly cinematic. It’s also interesting that the game’s website requires you to enter your birthdate to view its contents. Apparently seeing Lara tie a tourniquet is something Eidos/Square Enix/Crystal Dynamics feels may be too overwhelming for the young. You’ve been warned.

Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light

In marked contrast, the LCGoL game doesn’t have the Tomb Raider moniker at all and is fiercely non-cinematic. Sure, it’s got a few cutscenes, but you fire that thing up and you’re killing stuff immediately. In the first Tomb Raider games for the PSX, which you kids probably don’t remember at all, Lara did a lot more puzzle-solving than perforating. LCGoL is full of puzzles, too — don’t get me wrong. It’s just a lot more gonzo than the original. No exploring, just killing stuff and solving action puzzle after action puzzle from an isometric, third-person POV. Trigger plates, rolling heavy spheres, timing challenges, platform leaping, grappling, all the usual elements, in pleasantly detailed 3D environments.

LCGoL shines with its co-op innovations. Although the game has a single-player campaign, partnership is vital in multiplayer. Lara’s companion can boost her to higher locations with his shield, and she can also climb on the shafts of spears that he throws into walls. Admittedly, it’s a little odd to see this icon of exploratory FPS gaming turned into an isometric action puzzler, but that’s what DLC is all about.

(Big shoutout to my friends Rob Pavey and Steve Perez, who were on the programming team for the game.)

The Other Tomb Raider Reboot

Also, the Hollywood Reporter tells us that producer Graham King has bought the rights to Tomb Raider and will be, yes, you guessed it, rebooting the franchise in 2013 with a new star, and possibly tackling the origin story as well.

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