Interview: Ladies' Man Ragnar Tornquist

Funcom's creative mastermind on why story matters, why faith is central to his characters, and why so many of them are women

Do you think you're demanding more of your audience than the average game?

Ragnar: Yeah. Absolutely. But I think most games don't demand enough of the audience. They always underestimate the players' intelligence. At the same time that you have to be very concise and clear, and repeat things. You have an audience that is much more intelligent than people give them credit for, but at the same time you have to be aware of how the game is played, and so you have to make certain things very obvious, like the themes, and repeating the things that people have to do.

I understand you have a specific theory of how faith works in regard to TLJ.

Ragnar: We had all these characters who were on a journey of faith, and we said "how can we ensure that this theme is carried through, and have a clear view of how their journeys happen?" So we said, every single major character had to fit into this model. Everybody starts out at the top. Faith can be anything - it can be religion, it can be a belief in yourself, in your abilities, in the work you do. As we face challenges, there's a process where we have loss of faith. And a lot of people after that point turn themselves around, face those problems, challenge them and they conquer them. I think most happy people live in this loop. If loss of faith continues, you descend into disillusionment. At that point, you still have the opportunity to turn yourself around. Then the next step is hopelessness. If you don't pull yourself out of hopelessness, then you are going to end up in what we call spiritual death. This can lead to actual death. Which is what happened to April.

Or there's a transformation that can happen, making yourself into a completely new person. There are two ways to change. You can either remake yourself as a positive person and go back to faith, or you can refuse to accept the situation and let your spiritual death turn into an obsession.

On a larger scale, what do you consider faith to be?

Ragnar: It is whatever you want it to be. It's a game where you have to think, how does this apply to you? It could be faith in yourself, faith in love, faith in God - we didn't want to restrict that. It's optimism in a way. Or at least acceptance. Accepting how things are and being able to live with that. Obviously what we're advocating is, have faith.

Feb 20, 2008

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