For one, A Song of Ice and Fire series author George R.R. Martin was down with Game of Thrones Ascent before HBO aired the first episode of Game of Thrones. Jon Radoff (pictured below), founder of social game developer Disruptor Beam and producer of Game of Thrones Ascent, told us as much during an interview recently. But ultimately, it's a matter of passion and authenticity.
"I think our sensitivity to the intellectual property just comes from our own passion for it," Radoff says. "We went out to George and got him excited about this before anyone knew that the HBO series was going to be as big of a deal as it's become."
But what exactly will Game of Thrones Ascent be? We guessed that the game would focus on strategy, given what Disruptor Beam teased recently, and that's exactly what Radoff confirms. However, Ascent promises to go deeper than simple tactics and resource management. (But what would a strategy game be without that?)
"The idea of Ascent is that, number one, it's a strategy game. So, it's different from the other Game of Thrones products that are in the market," Radoff says. "It's about ruling your lands, building up your house, securing power--things like that. And you'll be involved in economic as well as military intrigue with other players of the game."
Sure, Game of Thrones Ascent will be a strategy game, which makes sense given what's possible on Facebook. Again, Radoff doesn't seem satisfied with that. He wants Ascent to mean more to its players than just victories and failures. To that end, Ascent will be a test of players' moral compass. More important, however, is that test's ripple effect upon fellow players.
"I think the closest comparison that I can offer is the kind of decisions that one makes in a Bioware game. Some of the people at Disruptor Beam have worked on Bioware products in the past, and I'd say we're all universally fans of them," Radoff reveals. "Because you've got players socially interacting, the decisions that they make--moral decisions that you might make in, say, a Bioware-style game--now have real impact, because you're making them in full view of the other people you're playing with. You're potentially affecting them. This is the kind of thing we're talking about when we refer to creating a new kind of game on Facebook."
Game of Thrones Ascent could be a potential hit with fans of the novels and the HBO series, but Disruptor Beam's work in progress already sounds deeper than most of what you'd find on Facebook. Of course, depth is synonymous with "hardcore" for some, a crowd that has been notoriously under-served in social games. But Radoff isn't exactly concerned with those folks.
"We're also interested in what I call 'the former hardcore gamer,' people like myself," Radoff says. "I play 'hardcore games,' I play Diablo 3, for example and I think it's a lot of fun. I've played Mass Effect. I, like many other people like me in my age group--mid to late 30s--don't have as much time for playing those kind of games as we used to."
At the end of the day, aside from ambitions of breaking new ground in social games and tapping new crops of gamers, Radoff just wants to show George R.R. Martin's fans the world of Westeros in a new light. "I want people to play the game and say they feel that it brought the books to life for them in a new way. I think that's when we know when we've been successful. We're fans of the books. We're fans of the TV series. We're not at all interested in taking a Ville-style game and splashing a Game of Thrones coat of paint on it."
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