Interviews// Game of Thrones: Ascent - the Interview

Posted 22 Apr 2014 14:00 by
SPOnG: How closely tied to Game of Thrones is Game of Thrones Ascent? Is it linked to the books or HBO's TV show?

RG: The licence is with HBO, so we can't go ahead of the TV show. But the coolest part is because we can't get ahead of the show, we are lock-step with the show. You watch the show on Monday, then on Tuesday we have new content in Game of Thrones Ascent that matches what happened in the latest episode.

Game of Thrones Ascent uses RSS based technology to update content on the fly, allowing us as developers to turn around content so quickly compared to MMOs. [It] allows us to add items and quests that tie in directly to the TV show. Those same quests will carry the player through the week until the following Monday when the new episode arrives.

There are many different types of background the player can take on. For example if the player wants to high-born bastard character they can and they have certain traits. Or they may choose to be a fosterling like Theon. Or perhaps a Hedge Knight or a former Mercenary. This is a background I like to choose. This is mainly due to the fact that Bronn is my favourite character of the show.

SPOnG: So the last episode had a scene involving the Hound, is that now in Game of Thrones Ascent?

RG: Yes. Game of Thrones Ascent now has the quest, which relates to that scene. Game of Thrones Ascent does not manipulate main characters in the show as we do not want to confuse players. But we do have events that are ancillary to the ones portrayed in the TV show. This makes it so the player feels like they are part of the show. With the Hound-related quest we witness the events that mirror what takes place and you can invite friends to assist you in completing it. If the quest is completed, everyone who took part gets a very powerful boon called 'All of the Chickens'. So that's the kind of stuff we get to do.

SPOnG: In order for you to be able to make this content so quickly you must know about the content of the shows months in advance, as they're different to the books in terms of order and portrayal. Am I correct in assuming that?

RG: Our writing team got to go to New York and sit down with HBO's licensing group and got to watch the first half of the fourth season. So that we can create the content, [we take] the artwork and the text and get it approved by HBO to make sure they liked it. We did this exact same thing for Season 3 of the show last year and then we have made new content every week between Seasons 3 and 4. So we have a strong relationship with HBO and we know exactly what they are looking for and they know exactly what we're trying to make.

SPOnG: Game of Thrones Ascent is a free-to-play game, so can you explain its business model?

RG: Game of Thrones Ascent is funded through in-app purchases.

JR: You can buy things in the game using gold, which is a currency you can purchase. These are premium items and this is the principle method by which revenue is generated.

RG: Game of Thrones Ascent does also have speed-up items that can accelerate play.

JR: But that's not the main way Game of Thrones Ascent generates revenue.

SPOnG: Just to clarify, what platforms is it currently out on?

RG: It's not out on the iPhone yet, but we are looking into it.

JR: We'd like to get that port out before Season 4 is off the air.

RG: We're still a small independent developer so we're working as hard as we can and we have over 100,000 people playing the other versions of Game of Thrones Ascent every day. The game is now out on iOS tablet, PC & Mac via a browser and Android tablets.
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