The main antagonist in Spec Ops: The Line is introduced as a man named Konrad, which many have read as a nod to Joseph Conrad, the author of the Heart of Darkness novella that inspired the game's story. While that much is certainly true, the actual use of "Konrad" has its roots in Kentucky-fried deliciousness, as the game's lead writer Walt Williams revealed to G4 during a recent interview.
"A lot of the connections with Heart of Darkness came from the fact that the main villain was named Konrad. To be totally honest-- we didn't want to say this in the interviews leading up [to the release], that was originally meant to be changed to a different name," he told us.
"I was writing the one-page story summary, and since I usually don't use names in story summaries, I just kept calling him 'The Colonel,' which made me think of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was like, No one is going to take this seriously if they're thinking the same thing I am. So I had a copy of Heart of Darkness on my desk and I just thought, 'Oh, I'll call him Konrad with a K and I'll change it later,' and I just never got around to changing it. I never meant it to be such a direct call-out to Joseph Conrad."
Upon hearing this, I pointed out to Williams that the use of "Konrad" with a "K" also beckons back to another Heart of Darkness-inspired tale, the Francis Ford Coppola film Apocalypse Now, which features Marlon Brando in the Konrad-like role of Colonel Kurtz. "I know, I know. I was thinking that the whole time," he said with a chuckle. "Anytime anyone brought it up, I wanted to be like, 'No, really, it wasn't meant to be that much of an homage.'"
"Those are the fun things you look back on. When you work on any large creative endeavor, you have the things that you explicitly set out to do that you succeed or don't succeed at and then you have the small things that sometimes people read into and you're like, 'That was actually totally a mistake, but we like the way that you said it better.'"
Williams then recalled a similar experience from his time working on another notable 2K Games title. "I actually remember working on [the first] BioShock, when you would shoot a flying turret bot with electricity and it would fall in the water, then that would shock and kill any of the Splicers that were in the water... that was a bug. Then when they found it, they went 'Wait, no. That actually looks like we meant to design it that way. We'll keep it.' Those things happen, and it's fun when they do. Especially when they work out."
Check out our full interview with Williams for a deeper look into his work as the lead writer on Spec Ops: The Line. Be warned, however: this is a post-mortem interview and it includes frank discussion of major plot spoilers from the game. I'd highly recommend finishing Spec Ops before you click through.