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A Taste of Cyanide

Two of the game designers from Cyanide's studio in Montreal flew down to New Mexico on Friday to give me a look at their GAME OF THRONES RTS game (that's Real Time Strategy, for those of you who don't speak Gaming), which is now done and will be rolling out Real Soon Now.

Now, I have to admit, I am far from being an expert on videogames. In fact, I've never played any of the current RTS games. My experience with videogaming was almost entirely with older, turn-based DOS strategy games like ROMANCE OF THE THREE KINGDOMS, PIRATES, MASTER OF ORION, RAILROAD TYCOON, and the like. And as you can probably tell from those titles, I stopped videogaming some years ago (not because I did not like it -- truth to tell, I liked it too much, and found that I was spending way too much time playing games on my computer when I should have been writing).

That being said... I thought what I saw looked really cool. And Ty, who DOES play a lot of videogames, seemed impressed as well. The gang at Cyanide (Montreal) have come up with some innovative features for this one, that should help make A GAME OF THRONES: GENESIS unlike any other RTS on the market at present. And fun to play as well, we hope... but that's a verdict that will need to come from the gamers out there.

Focus, our publisher, has opened an official website for GENESIS. Check it out:


(Just to be clear. This is the RTS game, designed and developed by Cyanide's studio in Montreal. A second videogame, an RPG, is also under development at Cyanide's studio in France, but that one won't be along for a while yet. The two games are very different, so please don't get them confused).

Anyway, I enjoyed having the crew from Cyanide down here, and liked what they had to show me. I hope you will as well.



Sep. 11th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
we are waiting for the Dance with dragong in Russian edition!
thank you for your greatest book!
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:12 pm (UTC)
Wonderful news. RTS is a good route, the only alternative I could imagine would be a Total War sort of turn-based / massive battle strategy game. Ty wasn't kidding, this does look cool.
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:14 pm (UTC)
Very exciting. I wonder if they plan on balancing it for competitive e-sports.
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:29 pm (UTC)
Ah... my naivete is showing, but I'm not sure what that means...

But there will be a multiplayer version available. Up to eight can play at once.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
E-sports is competitive computer gaming. There are tournaments with cash purses for the winner.
Balancing it just means making sure that there is no one way to victory that makes all the other possible choices pointless.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
Wikipedia about electronic sports:

"Electronic sports, abbreviated e-sports is used as a general term to describe the play of video games competitively. They are played competitively at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels including in leagues and tournaments.

There are a number of titles that have a professional gaming scene. The top players can make a living playing the games on the marketing value they gain as a result. Hundreds, thousands and even millions of dollars in prize money are turned out each year for competitors in these titles."

What makes a good e-sports game (article): http://riflesready.wordpress.com/2008/12/02/what-makes-a-good-esports-game/
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:09 am (UTC)
Think of chess. You can have multiple societies playing it for a thousand years, everyone study it for their entire lives, tournaments with huge prizes.. and the game is still fun and interesting to play and watch.

Unfortunately, most strategy games "break" (devolve into doing the best strategy using the best of the available races) in days because they aren't crafted with enough depth to handle this kind of "competitive" gameplay.

It's definitely a hard world for a new RTS game to enter right now, because Starcraft 2 didn't "break" and has thusly killed almost every RTS game on the market and stolen its audience :-)
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:25 pm (UTC)
I know that there are going to be people replying that they're sad it's not an MMORPG and they want to see an RPG game made. To them I have to say: I worked on an RPG in a low magic world. It doesn't work very well. An MMO in ASOIAF would involve a lot of boring classes with nothing to add and a couple of classes that are just TOO powerful. Knowing what I know about game creation and what I know about the books, RTS is the PERFECT game genre for the series. Almost all of the motivation for most of the characters involves battle planning and strategies to keep their house moving ahead. Give this game a chance and trust me when I say that an MMO would be greatly disappointing.
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
There is a RPG coming... see my post.

An for a MMORPG... that's possible as well, although HBO now controls those rights, so any MMORPG would be based on the TV series, whereas the two Cyanide games are based on the books.
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
Meh, this makes me sad. I wish people would stop thinking that just because it's fantasy it works as an RPG. The pen and paper world of RPGs is more versatile since you can futz with rules once you get the game home but RPGs for console and PC only work in certain circumstances. There's only so many ways you can make a character level up and they all resemble the big named games because of this. It's HARD to make a character that doesn't have a ton of magic at their disposal balance out in skills with the characters that do, it's hard to make that progression interesting enough to engage players, and it's hard to make it realistic. And if they manage those then chances are it doesn't fit in the source material's canon very well. I know that many a fanboy and fangril is going to be scratching their heads at the logic behind alternations in the last game I worked on.

Having said that, at least you got paid for it :P And I'll probably buy it.
Sep. 12th, 2011 05:53 pm (UTC)
I have to say that as soon as I started really understanding and grasping the enormity of the world, I started to wish I could live in it myself.

To me, RPGs allow you not only to exist in another fantasy world but to manipulate it as well. It becomes more real in a different way.

I would wish for an RPG similar in structure to the original Dragon Age.
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:32 pm (UTC)
We've been covering the RPG development over at Westeros. There was some recent news that might be of interest, and I think I also link to the first video of the game in action. See here.
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:43 pm (UTC)
Whoops, that was one of our first links about it. The newer one is here.
Sep. 11th, 2011 07:31 pm (UTC)
I'm really looking forward to this game. Since I read ASoIaF I wanted to play something in that setting, and though I'd like an RPG more, I will have to make do with the RTS until the other one comes out :D
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:26 pm (UTC)
I admit that I'm looking forward to the RPG more than the RTS. I think, even with a low-magic world, that it will be good times.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Alas, no love for Mac users. *sobs*
Sep. 12th, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
yeah, tell me about it
but if it was formatted for Mac, I'd never ever get the laundry done. That's why I've avoided all computer games since the first Myst title swallowed most of a month of my waking hours. I realized that the time-sink was too big for me to get involved with any sort of computer or console games.

We do have a Wii, and very few months I go bowling in the tv room. That's about all I can handle.
Sep. 11th, 2011 08:45 pm (UTC)
Hope they made better gameplay then visuals. I am more interested in their RPG project
Arron Robertson
Sep. 11th, 2011 09:46 pm (UTC)
game look amazing! defiantly on my to get wish.....another GRRM creation to hamper my studies! lol
Shane Killian
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:36 pm (UTC)
Very impressed
I'm very impressed with your gaming background. Those are all FANTASTIC games, and they are fairly complicated as well. The vast majority of gamers look at Romance and think.. "What?"

Here's hoping these games hold a candle to the books...
Sep. 11th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC)
Well, let`s cross our fingers and hope it won`t be just another Age of Empires clone with better graphics.
Sep. 11th, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
I've never been a gamer, and I doubt this news will change that, but I'm pleased to hear that a company in my adopted home city of Montreal has done this work!
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
This looks really cool. I love RTS. For those of you who have played the "Age of" (Mythology, Empires) games, it looks to me like this will be along the same lines, only in Westeros, and of course more modern. I played those two games for years(decades?), so I definitely will get this one if I can get a decent deal on it. I play EQ2 as well, but that is a totally different thing.

I am assuming you will also be able to play multiplayer online, rather than just on LAN?
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:43 am (UTC)
The game looks very nice. Any idea if it will be released for the Mac platform? (And here's some gentle encouragement to that end.)
Sep. 12th, 2011 01:44 am (UTC)
Comment from a Game Developer
I'm an avid fan of AGOT and a game developer myself. I don't normally comment on this stuff (although I do subscribe to your blog), but I've felt nervous about these games since they were announced, as have several other game industry folks I've talked to. The simple fact is that Cyanide is not known for quality software. In fact, they are more often associated with "shovel ware" budget titles, that is created on a strict budget and with a strict timeline, but is rarely fun and often very buggy. Their business model works for them, which is great, but it does NOT often yield a "good" game. Which is a shame, because this is such a rich property that it's going to be a real tragedy if either (or more likely - both) of these games winds up being sub-par. George - I hope that these games turn out to be great. I know I'll play them even though I have low expectations, but know that that is because of the IP, not because of the developers. I just hope that if my fears prove to be true that the poor sales and worse reviews don't scare you off from future QUALITY games with a new partner down the road.
Peter Goranov
Sep. 12th, 2011 11:26 am (UTC)
Re: Comment from a Game Developer
The cinematics are sub-par for today's standards and the promo trailer they've posted on their site has been done by an amateur in After Effects (the particles in the beginning and the rocks breaking at the end. Both are based on a tutorial, especially the rocks). I think you might have a point about quality. Let's hope that GRRM's setting will wash out the bad taste of a poorly made game, and if modding is allowed I'm sure the fans can finish the work (see Troika's TOEE and the Co8 mod, or all the great M2TW mods).

Speaking of Medieval 2: Total War, there is a Westeros mod in the makig there, and with the modding standards being so high for that community (Stainless Steel, TATW etc.) I'm expecting great things.

Mr. Martin I'd urge you to stay away from Medieval 2, it's a medieval strategy game to end all medieval strategy games, and it has eaten a lot of my hours. I think I must follow your example If I ever hope to write.
Sep. 12th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from a Game Developer
Sadly, have to share your concerns. Cyanide, for me, means two things. One is them being sued for breach of copyright when their Chaos League game was deemed to be too close to Games Workshops' Bloodbowl. And the second is their licensed Bloodbowl game. Great gameplay (but isn't that down to Games Workshop?), really poor UI, no real post-release involvement (the login screen for the online version is still announcing the release of the Legendary edition nearly a year later - and no mention of their current World Cup competition); and the killer for me - the appalling implementation of online play, where whatever they've implemented for peer-to-peer play means most people have to program their routers and still do a full reboot of PC and router to actually connect.

What's telling for me is that two to three weeks before the RTS is released, the first and only place I've heard about it is on notablog, despite being a gamer, having many GRRM-fan gamer friends, and having a "Game of Thrones" Google+ Spark.

All that said, and despite the seemingly poor graphics, I'll still buy it and at least play the single-player campaigns. (Hmm, there's another point - it's an 8-faction RTS game, and they've omitted Houses Frey and Greyjoy, yet include House Arryn, whose lords haven't left the Vale through six books...)
Patrick Mullen
Sep. 20th, 2011 03:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Comment from a Game Developer
I have heard about this game since it was first announced, but yes the media attention has been very minimal, and they really haven't said much about the game at all. Scary when it is about to come out.

About the houses, the game is a prequel set in the time of dragons, so they chose houses that had stuff to do then. I'm not well versed enough in westeros history to know if they were accurate, but this could explain the choices.
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
Hey George, there was a recent post from Westeros saying Cyanide just got the rights to HBO's visuals about a week ago for their upcoming RPG, and they're working fast to convert a number of visual designs in the graphics to coincide with the TV series in places. I was interested in seeing what they'd created on their own, but I think it could be cool seeing HBO's ideas incorporated somewhat.

As far as gamer's are concerned, the biggest issue with Cyanide is their graphics look about ten years behind the industry standard in places, but hopefully the gameplay makes up for that sort of thing.
Being a skinchanger at the Wall looks like a fun action RPG mechanic.
Sep. 12th, 2011 02:54 am (UTC)
If only I owned a PC. I love my mac, but it's games like these that really remind me how much I'm missing out.

BTW the Romance series of games are some of the best strategy games of all time. Poetry Contest!
Sep. 12th, 2011 04:43 am (UTC)
1) The studio should rename itself "Tears of Lys".

2) George, you have awesome taste in games. I understand why you would give it up. It is a hobby that eats up too much time. As an aspiring writer, I have fallen into the trap where I spend too much time "having fun" and not working on the craft.

3) Who is your Favourite Romance of the Three Kingdoms character? Have you ever read the actual novel it is based on. It's riveting.
Sep. 12th, 2011 05:12 am (UTC)
I also share some doubts about the quality of these games, only because games based on books/movies/shows usually aren't too great. I'm still haunted by my experience playing the Farscape computer game.

Btw, I loved Romance of the Three Kingdoms. I was very young when I played it, but that as well as other turn based games like Genghis Khan and Nobunaga's Ambition were some of my most favorite games.

With the RPG, I think I will be nothing but disappointed because I think I will hope for a Bethesda-style Oblivion/Morrowind game and end up with a LotR style game that is purely action based with no exploration or real character involvement.
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:15 pm (UTC)
I hope this game turns out to be as awesome as it looks! I'm excited for it, it looks promising.
Sep. 12th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC)
OMG Romance of the Three Kingdoms! You sure do know what games to play at least! One of my favorite all time games is Gemfire, produced by the same company, Koei, who still puts out Strategy game to this day.

On another note, can you please insert more Asians into GoT please, that way by season 12 maybe I can make a cameo as a handsome sailor or drunken mercenary or something...
Sep. 13th, 2011 04:54 am (UTC)
I'm assuming the release date for this is for the US?
Sep. 13th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
Purchased this on steam with the 10% discount included. good times.
Sep. 17th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
I feel your pain about not having the time to play the video game based on your own imagination. Still it makes one wonder if playing the game some would enhance your vision of the ASOIF universe in some way.
Sep. 26th, 2011 04:11 pm (UTC)
If the reports are true and Cyanide really did get the rights to the HBO stuff, I am really disappointed. This series deserved a big name studio with a good track record. I was hoping for someone like Bethesda (Elder Scrolls series) or CD Projekt (The Witcher series). CD Projekt would have been the clear choice because they already took the Witcher books and made 2 incredible games out of them so they have shown they can adapt a storyline to a game.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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