Overlord, recently released for the Xbox 360, appears to have hit the right notes with the gaming audience. Ars Technica interviewed the game’s writer and co-story designer, Rhianna Pratchett.
Addressing the game’s attempt to mesh humor with playing on the side of the villains (for instance, goblins run amuck trashing towns, but don pumpkins on their heads), she said:
Let’s face it, everyone loves the bad guy. So I’d say that’s a pretty easy sell! We’ve deliberately made it humorous, almost Peter Pan-evil, in nature partly to keep our ratings reasonable (we’re not trying to be Manhunt with goblins) and because it was actually a lot more fun to design and write for that kind of story. You’re “evil” in an amusing, rub-your-hands-together-and-go “Mwah-ha-ha” kind of way, rather than a pickling-babies-and-eating-human-livers way.
Pratchett also discussed the particular challenges of infusing humor into a videogame, pointing out the reliance on context rather than a script:
For a start, many of the tools in a comedy writer’s box-o’-narrative-stuff, such as sequence and timing, aren’t terribly useful in a medium where such things, outside of very linear narrative and cutscenes, can’t always be accurately predicted. The player is often the one in control of sequence and timing, not the writer.
She also said that further downoadable content for the game is on the way and that there is plenty of material for a sequel, “both gameplay and storywise,” if the higher-ups decide one is warranted.