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Mar 14 2013

Winter is Coming but Games Sure Aren’t: 4 Ways to Make a “Game” of Thrones.

Game_of_Thrones_season_3_teaser_posterIf you haven’t heard of “A Game of Thrones” by now; you must have been living under a very comfortable rock for the last 2 years. If so then “A Game of Thrones” is the excellent TV show based on George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series of fantasy novels. If you haven’t watched the show or read the books I would advise you to do so before reading further. Not to avoid spoilers you see. You merely owe it to yourself to experience the epic world Martin created. It’s a complex world filled with politics, intrigue and violence. A perfect combination for a video game you would think. Sadly we are yet to get a game of the quality the series deserves. So far we have only been given two rushed and disappointing games, an RPG and RTS created by Cyanide games; despite some promising elements, neither managed to match the quality we have come to expect from the franchise. There are currently two other games in development. A browser-based MMO and a social networking game. Personally neither genre holds much appeal to me, and details on story and gameplay are sparse. Since these don’t hold much interest for me (and I imagine most of you), I decided to have a think about what games I would like to see set in this universe.

Action RPG

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Failing to live up to hype in style

So as I mentioned above the previous attempt in this genre fell short in quality, despite the story actually not being that bad once you got through both character’s slow and sluggish openings. Perhaps if a bit more time, money and effort were put into it, we would have had a classic RPG that was worthy of inclusion in the “Song of Ice and Fire” universe. My dream RPG however, would be more action based. Combat would be in real-time and possibly combo based where your attacks became more powerful as you progressed in level (duh). The story would take place before the Targaryens conquered the seven kingdoms. Set during the time referred to as The Age of Heroes; it would be the perfect setting for any epic RPG, as this is where the myths and legends of Westeros come from. There’s also very little known about this period of the timeline, leaving the developer plenty of room to play with the lore to fit their needs.

Strategy Action

Recreating the legendary battles of Westeros

Recreating the legendary battles of Westeros

I’m talking “Dynasty warriors” here. It might be a bit of a niche genre, but I genuinely think this would fit well. Let me set the scene if I may. The battlefield is on the River Trident. You play as Robert Baratheon. Armed with a mighty war hammer, you smash your way through the opposing forces. You give commands to your generals to flank the opposition on two fronts as you charge through the middle with your own force. The enemy scatters, allowing more freedom to move and better visibility of the battlefield. The extra space allows you to pull off better combos and link them together. The day is almost won when you see the unmistakable green armour of Rhaegar Targaryen in the distance, cutting your banner men to pieces. You close the gap and take him on in single combat. It’s an epic boss battle, which fully tests your skills and decides the victor of a bloody civil war. To me this would capture the legendary feel of the battles brilliantly. It wouldn’t need to have the same over the top combat system, or even follow Roberts’ story. The same could work for several scenarios. Khal Drogo perhaps? Maybe even following the story of a company of sell swords? Pretty much anything that involves two armies having a scrap would work great.

Point and Click Adventure

Could Telltale capture the plots and intrigue of A Game of Thrones

Could Telltale capture the plots and intrigue of A Game of Thrones

Telltale games have already proved what can be done with this genre in “The Walking Dead”. They managed to blend both action and storytelling into the genre in a way I never really thought possible. It showed me that this could be the perfect genre to showcase the politics and scheming of Westeros. Possibly the best genre for a game where you play as Tyrion. Using conversations to coerce, bribe, and blackmail your way through the game. It could work just as well with new characters. Imagine playing as a commoner; plotting and scheming your way to a higher station in life. Decision making would have to be a large part of the game. Your decisions would have to matter, and affect the overall direction of the story. Would you side with your liege lord? Helping them to achieve higher status and gain more power. Or would you scheme to take your lieges’ place? The prospect of this literally gives me goose bumps. It’s this particular fan boy’s dream game.

Sim City

Instead of a tornado, Imagine dragons or a peasant revolt

Instead of a tornado, Imagine dragons or a peasant revolt

Ok so this is more just a bit of fun, rather than something I would expect to see, although it could be done and isn’t too far outside the content of the shows and books. They do deal with city management to some level; so it’s not too big a stretch considering the content of the series. You would play as the Hand of the King. Your job is to run Kings Landing; dealing with the dangers that come with the job. You could have your normal “Sim City” objectives, managing population, economy and pollution, but it’s opened up for more complex scenarios such as the current king going insane, and making decisions like burning down the poor quarter of the city, giving large amounts of gold to the holy orders, or even commanding for firewater to be stashed around the city. Your job is then to try to counter these demands and limit the potential damage without displeasing the king and being fired in the typical Westerosi fashion. Climate could also play a large part with the onset of winter. Having to make sure you have enough harvest to survive. If you fail to bring in enough the people will get hungry, angry, and then violent. Maybe some kind of system where you can prioritize resources to keep specific factions happy. For example you make sure the city watch is fed and they’ll back you up if the common folk try to revolt. I know I said this one was just for fun, but it’s actually starting to grow on me.

These are only my thoughts on what would make an actually good Game of Thrones game. By no means am I claiming that these are the best and only options for potential titles. If anything this is an exercise in showing how easy the series translates into video games, and why it’s disappointing that there hasn’t been more energy put into the jump into the video game market. With the third season nearing release, you have to wonder if the renewed excitement and hype will inspire a greater interest in entering the games industry. If it does we can only hope it’s given the care and attention it deserves.

This article was written by David Neeson; he’s from the UK and currently works in customer service. He’s played games since the age of 5; on several platforms from the Sega Genesis to the PC, and from the Playstation to the Gamecube You can find him on Twitter @dneeson1987

1 comment

  1. Michael Raston

    In my opinion the only real way to make a Game of Thrones game would be make it a grand strategy title. The best Game of Thrones game that currently exists is the board game. It actually does a fantastic job of emulating the backstabbing political intrigue that’s running through the whole series.

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