French RPG site Dagon's Lair has conducted an interview with the lead game designer on the recently-released Game of Thrones RPG, Cyanide's Sylvain Sechi. The interview covers a range of subjects, including the motivation behind making an RPG, to the public reception of the game at the hands of players and critics.
First reviews on english console dedicated website gave to the game average ratings, whose I really don’t understand regarding the PC release. After, other specialized websites, like us at Dagon’s Lair or RPGFrance published far more positive reviews. Are the sales meeting expectations? How was the reception? Are there big differences on PC or console? What was your studio’s reaction regarding the reception for the game?
Syl : It’s too early to have detailed sales figures, but the game seems to do well. About the press reviews, it’s something which touched us much. It’s hard to work 3 years, sweating blood, without reacting regarding the comments of the journalist testing our game. First opinions were mainstream magazines whose readers are mainstream action gamers / core gamers who play mainly on consoles. We knew GOT was a hardcore game. An « old school » RPG, and those journalists didn’t like at all some aspects of the game. In Europe, the critics were mostly better, with some good ratings. I think european gamers are more bound to the game and to its’ story than next-gen graphics.
On the player side, it’s been mostly positive and that made us feel good. Even if they didn’t like the game, we had a very good reception from RPG fans. It’s mainly for them we created this game. Respect of the licence and of the story are two strong points. Players are divided about the combat system. Some love it, some hate it...
Was the use of a well known IP an asset or more of a hindrance in designing the game ? You made a game with a very good narration, and also a great epic scenario, whose are one of the best I saw in more than 20 years playing computer RPGs. Thematics, as filiation, treason, intrigues are recuring elements in the books, but rarely used in video games. This story took inspiration only from Game of Thrones, or other materials were necessary ?
Syl : First, thank for the compliment, I personnally used much energy in the writing of the scenario, and it was really a hard work. There were more people working on it, and the number of people involved in the scenario was always increasing, that’s the reason why, I think, it’s that good. I’m extremely happy players enjoyed it (you’re not the only one being enthousiastic about the story).
About game design, the use of the IP is a great asset. Not only I’m a huge fan of the books, but I was also convinced this universe fits really well for a scenario oriented RPG. The main challenge was in fact the story. The challenge was set up very high, as we wanted to deliver content as close as possible to the original material written by George R.R. Martin. On the other side, the IP (thanks to the TV show) became incredibly popular the last months, anticipation from the players exploded. Players were waiting for a million dollar game, which is far from reality, because when we started the game project, besides fans, the IP was not really known.
A full English version of the interview is available here; scroll down to find it underneath the original French.