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Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire

EGMNOW has a tidbit from the upcoming EGMi - Digital Magazine where Todd Howard of Bethesda Softworks explains why his company passed on the opportunity to make a game based on A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of books that inspired the hit series A Game of Thrones (thanks Gamer's Hell). Here's why:

“With A Song of Ice and Fire, we went ‘We want to do that!’ People in our studio liked it, and it seeped in a bit to what we were doing,” Howard explained. “We were actually asked a while ago to turn those books into games.”

So why didn’t they take the leap? According to Howard, the idea of a partnership was very tempting, but the team was just too invested in their own IP.

“We wanted to do our own world. That’s where we wanted to put out time into. Before we were even making Skyrim, there was a conversation with George R.R. Martin’s people. They thought it would be a good match—and so did we, actually—but then we thought about if that was where we wanted to spend our time. It was tempting, though.”

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17. Re: Diablo III Encounters Sep 15, 2011, 13:08 Rockn-Roll
 
dj LiTh wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 04:36:
Rockn-Roll wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 02:49:
...the game would have to "cheat" so that the player always lost when they were supposed to. Or, I suppose the player would have to jump from character to character so that they are always the one that wins.

Um....personally i'm fracking tired of push over games were i could be so drunk i cant even stand up, but i have no problem beating a game. I MISS the days where a game acually gave me a challenge. Now when i lose, i acually get excited because i think i might have a challenge ahead of me. But hey thats just me, good luck /w your iwinbutton gaming

You missed my point entirely...the game won't give you a challenge...it will actually cheat i.e. if you battle away at the enemy for hours or even days and rise up to the challenge and whoop up on the entire enemy except for one remaining after the slaughter...that one enemy could just be a camp follower or a dog even...but the game will give it an infinite health and you would never be able to kill it...you would spend weeks or months or years thereafter with your troups getting bitten bite after bite as each one dies of the bite wounds while the remaining enemy doesn't get hurt no matter what you do to it. It's actually the scenario that I laid out where the game probably plays better if you are drunk...the game will compensate and cheat so that the outcome is always what it needs to be. For example the reverse would also be true...let's say you must win a battle for the story to continue...it would mean that even if your strategy is so dense that all your men get wiped out...the game will leave one standing and give it an infinite health so that no matter what the enemy throws at you you won't lose.

If you went back and read some of my posts like for the past 5 years or so, here as well as lots of other gaming forums, you will see that I consistently indicate that games are too easy throughout the majority of the game and only become a challenge when it's a boss battle, but the boss battle isn't any fun if it's just shooting the same enemy over and over and over especially when you learn that it's just a trick that kills the boss. For some reason developers refuse to give us more enemies to fight...they increase the health and damage for individual enemies, but rarely just give us more to make it a challenge...and I don't mean continuous waves of 3 or 4 enemies...that's just not as much fun to me as having one wave of 10 enemies...that's a challenge...lot's of running and shooting where combat skills really make a difference but none of the tricky shoot the eye when it glows junk.

I think this trend started when developers started designing for consoles where aiming and combat skills aren't as important as positioning your character in a specific spot and pressing the scenematic key so you can watch your character do the combat for you. There was a time when increasing the difficulty increased the number of enemies as well as their strength...providing that increased challenge that you are talking about. But, that wouldn't be fun for console gamers...they don't want more aiming...they want more complex button presses to take out more elaborate enemies with cooler looking scripted combat moves...so that the "skill" becomes pressing buttons in the right combination for the right time for the right enemy. A good example is Batman: Arkham Asylum. The opposite of that is where combat has everything to do with aim and movement where you need to keep your crosshairs on the enemy while firing a weapon while sidestepping and crouching and jumping to make it harder for the enemy to keep their crosshairs on you. A good example is Team Fortress 2 (though playing the Spy class is more like a console game which is why I don't like playing Spy).
 
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16. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 10:49 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 00:44:
Umbragen wrote on Sep 14, 2011, 23:51:
I'm not sure why they passed, it's not like it would be the first time Bethesda made a game you got sick of playing before the damned thing ended.

I don't know who is going to finish the series after Martin passes beyond the wall, but I'm already past caring.

Only two books left. He's got that kind of time.

Seeing as how he churns out a book every 4-5 years, and he looks like he's 287 years old already, he might very well pull a Robert Jordan.

As for the game, I'm not sure how well that world translates to a video game. Unless you get to play as the Lannisters, it'd just be irritating to have to be saddled with characters who are SO.FUCKING.STUPID.

(secret text SPOILERS!!!) "You want me to come to your camp to discuss a peace treaty? And to bring only my trusted lieutenants and my mother? And you're the guys who have been backstabbing my family for three straight books? Boy, that sounds like a great deal! I'll be right there!

"Hey, why are you guys killing us? You mean this peace offer wasn't legit??"

For fuck's sake. The entire series just fucking ruined itself with that horseshit. You'd think it'd be impossible for a single fucking human being to be that fucking stupid, but nope, in the world of George RR Martin, they ARE that stupid, and then some.


Creston
 
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15. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 09:04 Dev
 
I think they made the right call, they have all the freedom they want in their own IP.  
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14. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 08:03 InBlack
 
For those that read the books, the setting of a Song of Ice and Fire is vast enough for any number of games and gameplay types. Its also gritty and mature enough, and doesnt feature elves. (A big plus!)

For e.g.

An action adventure game in the vein of "Die by the Sword" (anyone remember that little gem?) would be perfect.
 
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13. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 06:49 Umbragen
 
bhcompy wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 00:12:

KJA, just to spite you.

At least Martin's ponderous prose will be more easily mimicked than Frank Herbert's.



Beamer wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 00:44:

Only two books left. He's got that kind of time.

For any other writer maybe, but ADWD was supposed to be a quick fallow-up to AFFC - it took 6 years. Dude's old, he could drop at any time. And even if he doesn't, the world could end. Next year it's 2012, I'm supposed to face the apocalypse never knowing what happened to Gordon Freeman and if Jon Snow was really Rhaegar Targaryen's bastard? Better to just move on.

This comment was edited on Sep 15, 2011, 07:12.
 
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12. Re: Diablo III Encounters Sep 15, 2011, 04:36 dj LiTh
 
Rockn-Roll wrote on Sep 15, 2011, 02:49:
...the game would have to "cheat" so that the player always lost when they were supposed to. Or, I suppose the player would have to jump from character to character so that they are always the one that wins.

Um....personally i'm fracking tired of push over games were i could be so drunk i cant even stand up, but i have no problem beating a game. I MISS the days where a game acually gave me a challenge. Now when i lose, i acually get excited because i think i might have a challenge ahead of me. But hey thats just me, good luck /w your iwinbutton gaming
 
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11. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 02:49 Rockn-Roll
 
I was wondering about this...it didn't seem like a good fit for Cyanide...makers of sports management software...to do an RTS game for A Game of Thrones. And, keep in mind that it's just the first book...there's already 4 more books of material available for 4 more games...Bethesda doesn't need to give up home.

But, I see their point...G.R.R.Martin puts a huge amount of details into his world...there's not much room for originality in the story or characters. The major task of a game based on A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) is figuring out what has to be left out, what can be left out, and what needs to be a scenematic because there's no way it can be left out, but that part of the story absolutely has to be told.

Battles? There are so many battles and fights and melees and such. Especially Storm of Swords, but also Clash of Kings. His next book Winds of Winter should be a huge battle with dragons fighting others literally with Ice against Fire. The intrigue and mind games are important, but I believe cut-scenes would suffice for most of that stuff i.e. the court banter is the reason for the battles, but the battles themselves and where they take place are what drives the story...even the tiny skirmishes.

But, what makes a game based on these books a very difficult project is that each battle must have a set outcome or else the rest of the story won't work. For example if Renly wins the battle of bywater then a whole different story would occur...especially where Southern Westeros was concerned. The events across the sea and Northern Westeros would still go as written, but a huge amount of story would fall away. And just think of what would have happened if Stannis had won? The wall would have been breached and all of the North would have fallen to the Others. I suppose it could be done, but I'm not sure if Martin would want it that way. I think Martin's vision of a game based on ASOIAF would be one where the player can take on the role of one or more of the major characters and spend days in the atmosphere of the book canon...not really a strategy...more of a story book rider than a game player. The problem is that all the characters lose some fights/arguments...and players don't like to lose...the game would have to "cheat" so that the player always lost when they were supposed to. Or, I suppose the player would have to jump from character to character so that they are always the one that wins.
 
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10. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 02:31 KilrathiAce
 
mistake 101  
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9. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 00:44 Beamer
 
Umbragen wrote on Sep 14, 2011, 23:51:
I'm not sure why they passed, it's not like it would be the first time Bethesda made a game you got sick of playing before the damned thing ended.

I don't know who is going to finish the series after Martin passes beyond the wall, but I'm already past caring.

Only two books left. He's got that kind of time.
 
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8. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 15, 2011, 00:12 bhcompy
 
Umbragen wrote on Sep 14, 2011, 23:51:
I'm not sure why they passed, it's not like it would be the first time Bethesda made a game you got sick of playing before the damned thing ended.

I don't know who is going to finish the series after Martin passes beyond the wall, but I'm already past caring.

KJA, just to spite you.
 
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7. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 23:51 Umbragen
 
I'm not sure why they passed, it's not like it would be the first time Bethesda made a game you got sick of playing before the damned thing ended.

I don't know who is going to finish the series after Martin passes beyond the wall, but I'm already past caring.
 
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6. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 23:47 WyldKat
 
Honestly Bethesda is better off for it. Barring a 4X strategy game with a very deep AI/Conversation system or a Mount & Blade type game I simply don't see how a SoIaF game could work and not suck.  
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5. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 21:48 Cutter
 
I'd love to play Tyrion, getting wasted and banging whores.
 
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4. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 21:45 bhcompy
 
Rain wrote on Sep 14, 2011, 20:58:
Most likely they wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines.

Neither can GRRM
 
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3. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 21:12 Beamer
 
Krovven is right. Doing it in the big world wouldn't work in a videogame, I think. It's about politics and maneuvering, not battle. Those that fight inevitably end up direly wounded, which isn't what you want in a videogame.

The books deal with consequences in a way video games cannot. But focusing on a very narrow view of the world could have worked, but Bethesda isn't about narrow views.
 
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2. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 20:58 Krovven
 
I think a TPS action RPG game solely based on being a random Nights Watch peon would be great! Doesn't need to directly involve the main characters or political plotline, but the lore could be trickled about in the game.

 
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1. Re: Why Bethesda Turned Down A Song of Ice and Fire Sep 14, 2011, 20:58 Rain
 
Most likely they wouldn't be able to meet the deadlines.  
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