Telltale games paid back their surprising but well-earned Game of the Year win with The Walking Dead at last year's Spike TV VGA awards during this year's webcast-only version of the show with a pair of big announcements: adventure titles based on Gearbox's Borderlands and (confirming a long heard rumor) a game based on the hit HBO series Game of Thrones.
"Since the very beginning, Telltale's goal has been to work alongside the most talented and respected forces in entertainment, bringing their worlds to the interactive space as no other game studio can," said Dan Connors, co-founder and CEO of Telltale Games. "Working with HBO to develop a new game series based on Game of Thrones is a natural fit for our studio.”
While we're thrilled currently playing The Walking Dead Season 2 and Wolf Among Us, we can't help but look to the future with Telltale's next major license.
Being rooted in the HBO version of George R.R. Martin's literary epic will give Telltale ample opportunity to give fan-favorite characters a spotlight while the precise control of the game's pacing will allow them to tell many of the nigh-countless side-stories, histories and small-but-meaningful events that get cut for time in the harsh world of television production. If it were up to us, here is who House Newsarama thinks Telltale's Game of Thrones title should feature.
Dragons! Of course, there should be dragons, and not the slowly developing brood of Daenerys Targaryen, but fully-grown dragons of legend that aided in the conquering of Westeros hundreds of years before the start of the TV series. As told just three of these massive flying and fire breathing beasts crushed the armies and the will of almost all of the then kings of Westeros.
In the context of an adventure title, a player could assume the role of an ancient Stark or Lannister struggling to comprehend how their world is changing as these invincible creatures immolate all resistance, or be a simple survivor of the destruction of Harrenhal witnessing first-hand how the dragon's breath melted the stone walls.
Including dragons in the game is the perfect opportunity to explore the nature of the creatures that have set so many storylines in motion.
The Rains of Castamere
More than just a catchy/ominous song, The Rains of Castamere tells the story of a rebellion against the Lannister family by one of their vessel houses, the Reynes. A young Tywin Lannister crushed the uprising with such cunning and ferocity that it marked the beginning of his leadership of the Lannisters and his personal rise to the role of Hand of the King.
Though the fates of all involved are known, it would be a treat to experience the events described first hand in the role of a young Tywin who must outwit his enemies, be they from within or without, to secure his family's place among the top Houses in Westeros.
Tywin's actions here would allow for a greater illustration of man who commands, oftentimes begrudging, respect and deference and who is rarely outmaneuvered on the battlefield or at court.
The sell-sword Bronn may have distinguished himself both in battle and as an ersatz aide-de-camp to his employer Tyrion Lannister, but there is a lot viewers of the HBO series don't know about this half of the breakout character duo. In an early scene, the keen judge of character Tyrion elicits the truth that Bronn had once been beyond The Wall, a massive ice and stone fortification that is not easily bypassed, and bars the 'civilized' portion of Westeros from the barbaric north.
A young Bronn would be the perfect player character, the life of a mercenary sell-sword would be filled with kind of ethical quandaries that gamers love to ponder over. Plus, since Bronn is the kind of character whose smart mouth is more likely to start a fight than resolve a conflict peacefully, it would turn the traditional role of heroic player character as peacemaker on its head.
Along with detailing his actions north of The Wall, Bronn is certainly old enough to have experienced Robert Baratheon's rebellion first hand. Did something happen back then to make perhaps an idealistic Bronn the man we know today?
A seminal event that took place less than twenty years before the start of the series, Robert’s Rebellion is the colloquial name for the uprising that ended centuries of Targaryen rule over Westeros. Spurred by the actions of the “Mad King” Aerys Targaryen; Robert Baratheon and Eddard “Ned” Stark lead their armies in a civil war that sets the stage for all the action in the first season.
Viewers of that first season might only know Robert as the fat, indulgent king, but a Telltale episode set in the past would allow players to see the cunning warrior who overthrew an empire by first assembling a powerful alliance under the threat of a fiery death at the hands of the Mad King then waging a successful campaign against an established power.
There is a wealth of material in this time frame for the kind of political intrigue and battlefield bloodshed for an entire season of the show, making it a leading candidate for exploration in any kind of prequel game.
Of all the storylines left handing throughout the series there is one that sticks in the mind of most fans as being the most heart wrenching, and that is the undisclosed fate of Arya Stark's direwolf, Nymeria.
In a tragic set of circumstances, Nymeria injures the then-Prince Joffrey in defense of her mistress Arya and is forced, heartbreakingly, by Arya to flee into the forest to save the wolf's life. Ultimately this action costs life of her sister Lady, and further divides Arya from her sister Sansa.
But what of Nymeria? A direwolf in the woods of Westeros could have dozens of adventures interacting with the various creatures of that world and evading the threat of hunters looking to decorate their halls with a rare pelt. Being in control of this wild animal and seeing how it views the world would be an interesting experience for gamers. Alternatively, you could control people Nymeria comes across, altering your point of view with various families, soldiers, refugees, and mercenaries all across the seven kingdoms, in more of a The Walking Dead: 400 Days style.
Sex and the attendant bedroom politics play an important role in Game of Thrones, especially for the female characters who are often limited by tradition from holding any kind of 'real' power. The enigmatic Shae knows this fact better than most and is in her own way a master of this special game.
While she may have just attached herself to Tyrion to help raise - if not her station, at least her living arrangements - over time her affection for her patron has make her the third member of Tyrion's faction, vitally and anonymously collecting information for him around court and keeping an eye on his family's vitally important hostage Sansa Stark.
The erotic adventures of a pre-series Shea alongside an exploration of what made her such a badass would afford the folks a Telltale the opportunity to earn an M rating from the ESRB and really show that they are serious about living up the Game of Thrones license.
Myrcella Baratheon and Dorne
Dorne, the expansive southern region of Westeros, known for its wine and weather has remained teasingly just out of sight in three seasons of the HBO program. Dorne’s history of independence from the doings of the rest of the continent, which stretches back to the time of the Targaryen conquest is noteworthy, tantalizing and worthy of examination. And who would be better to reveal its secrets then through the eyes of a fellow newcomer?
Sent there by her uncle Tyrion for her protection by way of an arranged marriage, Myrcella Baratheon, King Joffrey’s young sister is another woman like Arya, Sansa and to an extent Daenerys, on her own in a strange land. Myrcella might be young, but now must assuredly grow up quickly if she is to learn about her new home and overcome any potential dangers.
Telltale would be wise to allow players to explore this common theme of a young person forced to assert their independence and find their strength to survive and are lucky to have a pair of all but blank slates like Dorne and Myrcella to build around.
“A painter who only uses red,” is how Jamie Lannister described the aged but still lethal former Lord Commander of the elite Kingsguard, Ser Barristan Selmy. Ever loyal and honorable, Barristan fought on the side of the Mad King in the rebellion according to his oath, his reputation affording him not only mercy when the Targaryen regime fell, but his role as royal protector under the new king.
When Joffrey ascended to the Iron Throne, a suspicious Cersei Lannister had him dismissed from the Kingsguard in defiance of the tradition of the role being a lifetime appointment. After briefly considering killing everyone in the throne room, Barristan instead left Westeros, only to be seen much later in Astapor pledging his loyalty to the true Queen, Daenerys Targaryen. What happened in the time between when he left King’s Landing and when he appeared in Astapor? What drives a man like Barristan to keep fighting after all these years? And what happened along his journey across half the known world (aka all of season 2)? A player character like a journeying Barristan Selmy would guarantee plenty of action and exotic locales to explore.
The Age of Heroes
The ancient legends of the Westerosi tell about The Age of Heroes, the time 10,000 years ago that the great houses were founded and the White Walkers were defeated. In this time bigger than life characters achieved incredible feats like successfully defying gods and raising the massive fortification against the wild that came to be known simply as The Wall. These legends echo into the present, as their descendants begin to play similar roles in the series’ ongoing conflicts.
Setting the game in this timeframe would give it a Knights of the Old Republic feel, far enough in the past as to not mess with the established continuity, but familiar enough to include all the elements that make the series so popular.
The Return of Magic
The return of dragons to the world seems to have ushered back the forces of magic as well, if it had ever truly left. Prophetic dreams, baffling illusions, shadow creatures, remote viewing, fire witches and ice demons have already changed the world forever, adding a supernatural dimension to the show’s action and drama.
In this vein players could perhaps take on the role of a young Maester-in-training, a member of the order that is charged with the protection and propagation of knowledge in Westeros, who upon exploring the disregarded subject of “Higher Mysteries” (magic) discovers that he has the gift of power.
Such learning is frowned upon in the Order of Maesters, and no doubt the possession of such power would be considered an anathema, setting up a conflict for the player character to have to hide/take advantage of his nature in the backdrop of the larger conflicts in the series.