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Tom the Merciful

The Steel Remains

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Honest and to the point. I can live with that.

It's unfortunate that fans of books tend to lose out to other industries but folks have to make money (or pursue different challenges) and at least this way there's a chance some of us will get to play the games he's working on - as opposed to being in his school class or buying something he made in a factory.

Richard strikes me as being someone who likes playing in different mediums with his brief foray into comics (pitch something to "Vertigo" or "image" please!), the Dandy warhols project and now games.

Richard: How are you finding the games writing process? I can understand if you can't reveal game details but I'm interested to hear the pros and cons of writing for games. I'm curious as to how it works. Do you come up with a story and they find ways of making it playable (sounds unlikely), do they tell you what's in the game and you base a story around it, or is it a mixture?

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That's for the info, Richard (and summoners). Looking forward to whichever project drops first. :)

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@red snow

Richard: How are you finding the games writing process? I can understand if you can't reveal game details but I'm interested to hear the pros and cons of writing for games. I'm curious as to how it works. Do you come up with a story and they find ways of making it playable (sounds unlikely), do they tell you what's in the game and you base a story around it, or is it a mixture?

That varies - in some cases, I've been asked to pitch a from-scratch storyline, in others I've been coming on board to retro-fit existing story and concepts. And yes, as with everything else, there are pros and cons.

The pros: the pay and conditions are excellent, the people enthusiastic and the industry as a whole wide open to fresh ideas (far more so than, for example, the movie industry); the sheer sense of potential is sometimes dizzying. See here where I've posted more extensively on the subject. The games industry is also an area of endeavour refreshingly unbiased where science fiction or fantasy is concerned. Over here in Literaryland, we spend so much time belly-aching about how there's no respect for genre, how science fiction is dying, etc. But in the game world, SF/F is a given. No-one looks at you funny when you say you write it, because it's the lifeblood of the medium, the staple of good gaming.

The cons: ultimately, as with writing for movies, any work you do is subject to substantial compromise. In fact, this is probably even more the case than screen-writing for movies, because so much hinges on supporting the game-play. In a movie, just as in a book, a good story (given talented acting, direction and cinematography, of course) will stand on its own merits. In games, you can write the greatest story in the world, but if it doesn't mesh with compelling game-play, then you've failed. So there's a lot of re-writing around improving the game experience, and you do sometimes have to murder your darlings, so to speak. That makes the writing a far less fluid experience than is the case with (at least my) prose work; it's much more a piecemeal problem-solving and trouble-shooting dynamic, and while this is a real test of skill, and I've learnt a lot (I'm still learning a lot) doing it, it's nowhere near as purely pleasurable as the brakes-off, steer-into-the-wind ride of writing a novel. Truth is, you just don't realise the freedom from constraint that you have as a novelist until you go and work in another medium.

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That varies - in some cases, I've been asked to pitch a from-scratch storyline, in others I've been coming on board to retro-fit existing story and concepts. And yes, as with everything else, there are pros and cons.

The pros: the pay and conditions are excellent, the people enthusiastic and the industry as a whole wide open to fresh ideas (far more so than, for example, the movie industry); the sheer sense of potential is sometimes dizzying. See here where I've posted more extensively on the subject. The games industry is also an area of endeavour refreshingly unbiased where science fiction or fantasy is concerned. Over here in Literaryland, we spend so much time belly-aching about how there's no respect for genre, how science fiction is dying, etc. But in the game world, SF/F is a given. No-one looks at you funny when you say you write it, because it's the lifeblood of the medium, the staple of good gaming.

It sounds like the pros outweigh the cons at the moment! I like the comparison to the early days of film from your blog. I suspect this could be a golden era in terms of freativity and "fun" and, much like Hollywood, once they get the business model down and how to exploit the medium then it may become far more tedious and cut-throat. Hopefully it will take a long time for that to occur as the possibilities with gaming are far greater than other mediums in terms of interactivity.

It's a valid point about gaming being a lot more positive about genre than in books. The genre thing is sneaking in on gaming though eg the death of the platformer vs the ubiquitous 1st person shooter but these things tend to change with technology as much as anything else.

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So folks, the good news is that The Dark, Cold or Otherwise Less Than Pleasant Commands is on its way (I'm writing some of it right now, in fact)...The secondary good news attached to that is that it's likely to be a good deal longer than The Steel Remains, so if you liked TSR, there should be about half as much again to like this time around.

...I have to be happy with what I've done before I let it out into the world, and it's taken me a long time to get to a place where that's true for TD/C/OLTPC.

This is all excellent news. We will be getting a quality book that is half as long again as TSR - yay!!! Thank you for the update, and I hope it continues to go well for you.

*releases the frightened nubile virgins from the basement.*

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Thanks for the insight, Richard.

Am I the only one hoping he's writing a storyline mode for Tiger Woods 2011? I would pay at least $1200 for that.

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The Tiger Woods cheating-scandal as written by Richard Morgan? Hoo-boy.

I didn't see him on the writing credits for last week's south park but that had the a version of Tiger woods 2011 that is in fitting with Richard's voilent streak :)

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Anyone knows if there is a good plot summary somewhere online??? If so, I haven't been able to find it. . . :(

About to start TCC, but I'm afraid I don't remember a whole lot from TSR. . .

If anyone can help me, I'd be grateful! :)

Patrick

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I can help you, Pat! Author rec - just open at page one and jump in!

TCC was always intended to be accessible to anyone who hadn't read TSR (which, my recollection is, you didn't like a whole lot anyway :) ) So there's a certain amount of "previously on Gay Elf Fucking...." built into the text. The angle it starts from has nothing to do with any of the protagonists from TSR anyway, and when they do turn up, they're given a good, solid locational grounding. Read without preconceptions - you should be fine......

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Thanks, Richard! :)

Why not write a "Previously on Gay Elf Fucking...." bit to put at the beginning of the book!?! :P

So I guess I'll just go ahead and dive in!

Patrick

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