Have you ever had a friend brag about his Farmville farm and thought, “I would so love to take an axe to your field?” If you have, good news: When I asked Jon Radoff, the CEO and Founder of Disruptor Beam, the creators of the upcoming social game Game of Thrones Ascent, if I’ll ever have to plant a crop, he said, “No, but you might burn a crop and raze someone’s land.”
He had me at “burn.”
It seems that in the Facebook Game of Thrones, you Like or you die. And I’m already liking it. Really, I never thought I’d say that about any game on Facebook, home of the Skinner-box-y Farmville and the recent CelebrityMe, which rewards you for, egads, clothes shopping. It isn’t because my literary hero George R.R. Martin has been involved with this game since its inception…because writing a fantasy saga, A Song of Ice and Fire; overseeing two other videogames (A Game of Thrones: Genesis, an RTS, and Game of Thrones, an RPG); and scripting the occasional episode of HBO’s hit TV series based on his own currently-unfinished
No, I’m excited because it uses my favorite mechanics in video gaming: moral choices and consequences, just like BioWare, the makers of my all-time favorite video games, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and others. When you choose one of several options (and if these options are similar to the series, we’ll have opportunities to scheme, lie, cheat, fornicate, and/or kill), all of these actions will have far-ranging ramifications.
Didn’t like the outcome and want to reload? Too bad. There’s no killing your ally for the lulz and going back to a saved game.
Radoff said that in GoT Ascent, “You’re going to live with your decisions. And your friends will live with your decisions as well, because you’ll potentially impact them.”
However, GoT Ascent isn’t without a similar mechanic to other social games. Radoff said, “As a feudal lord, you’re going to build up the various defensive structures and things that are important to actually managing feudal kingdoms…. But the purpose of that is to bring in the sworn swords and the henchman and create opportunities for story interactions, which is really why you’re playing the game.”
In a move that will keep fans of the books and television show on their toes, GoT Ascent will integrate events from the HBO series, so as the show progresses, new game content will appear. We’ll also be interacting with characters from the series. Now fans like me want to know if we’ll be joining Tyrion as he makes his way to a brothel.
Well, perhaps not a brothel, but it seems that every other action from the book is up for grabs. In a recent LiveJournal post, the author wrote, “I saw several early versions of the game demonstrated, and Jon and his designers took great pains to make sure the flavor of the novels is here. I saw alliance building, treachery, marriages, murders, and most of all the constant struggle to be the greatest house in Westeros.”
As of now, there’s no word on the release date or even when the demo will be available. And to vague it up for you, Radoff hinted that GoT Ascent may be released on other platforms, but he didn’t say which or when.
But I’m genuinely interested in GoT Ascent for the exact reasons I’m uninterested in other Facebook games: They’re basically Skinner boxes–games that you play not because they’re fun but because they’re addictive. These are the games that are designed to hook you with simple yet repetitive tasks and then punish you when you don’t play. GoT Ascent may be a social game, but the developers have made it their mission to swim against that tide.
No word on the Joffrey-slap minigame.