Author George R.R. Martin recently spoke to Chicago-focused network WTTW News, after receiving an honorary doctorate from his local alma mater, Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. It covered topics like the effect Game of Thrones has had on his life, his feelings about the half-century since he studied in the area and, most juicy for all of us, some details about his involvement with Elden Ring.
Martin was asked about how different it is working on a videogame, as opposed to being a fantasy fiction writer. "Actually it's considerably different," replies Martin. "I've played some videogames. I'm not a big video gamer. But the game is called the Elden Ring and it's a sequel to a game that came out a few years ago called Dark Souls and it came out of Japan."
Nice to have big George basically confirm what we all realised after seeing the trailer anyway: Elden Ring really was always conceived as the next step for Dark Souls.
"My work on it was actually done years ago: these games they're like movies, they take a long time to develop," Martin continues. "Basically they wanted a world created to set the game in, they wanted world building as a big factor in fantasy and science fiction. You're not really talking about the characters and the plot, but the setting is almost as important as everything else: Tolkien's Middle Earth, Robert E Howard's Hyborean age, the Foundation universe of Isaac Asimov...."
Elden Ring's reveal trailer did leave some wondering where the Martin influence was, to which clearly the answer will be: everywhere. That said, he's clear that he's had little involvement in developing the game subsequent to crafting the setting, with FromSoft occasionally showing him bits and pieces but otherwise steaming ahead itself.
"I worked up you know a fairly detailed background for them, and then they took it from there so really it's been several years since I've last seen them," says Martin. "But they would come in periodically and show me some monsters they'd designed, or the latest special effects, or the cool things, but the game has been very slowly developing and it's coming out in January I believe so I'll be as excited as everyone else to see it."
What can I say: you and me both, Mr Martin. While we wait, console yourself with this massive infodump about the game.