Spake the Creator
The Wheel of Time game
Q: I've heard that there is going to be a Wheel of
Time computer game... How much are you involved in this (if
it's true), and how do you feel about a game based on
A: Well, it's true, it's in the works from Legend
Entertainment. I'm involved to the extent that I told
them I would not accept the first scenario they gave me.
i told them there were certain things I wanted done int
he game, such as being able to play as a female
character, multiple solutions to problems, being able to
get through segments without solving all the problems and
they're working on it. Apparently Glenn Dahlgren, who is
designing the game, is very much in agreement with me on
Q: Any chance of seeing the "Wheel of Time"
in other media (television, CD-ROM's, etc.)?
A: I don't know about TV certainly, but a company called
Legend Entertainment is working on a "Wheel of Time"
role playing game that will have both strategic and
tactical levels and be able to be played against your own
computer or on the Web against other players. I think it
should be interesting. I gave them a number of
requirements which all boil down in a way to ... it
should be impossible to play the same game twice.
Q: About the upcoming (and
looking really great) Wheel of Time game by Legend
Entertainment... how much control over the game do you
have ? (I'd hate seeing it ripped for the wot feeling)...
do you think it would be possible to move the one power
into the game, working as it is to be understood in the
books, and what is your overall opinion about making a
game of the books b4 the books are finished ? (I know
it's a prequel, but anywayz ... )
A: I'm happy about making a game
about the books before the books are finished. There have
been some compromises between what I wanted in the games
and what Legand wanted. At first, they told me that they
couldn't do certain things until later and I said "well,
here's your money back." After which, they decided
that maybe they could do those things now and, in fact,
it seems that these things are part of what look to make
this one of the hottest games - and maybe the hottest
game - anywhere in sight.
Q: Will there be a Wheel of Time
Role Playing Game?
A: There is a computer game coming
from Legend Entertainment to be released next spring.: I
am told it was the absolute hit of the #e show this past
summer. (E3) And if I can believe the things that various
computer gaming magazines said, it will be one of the
best or perhaps even the best game to be released in
Q: The Wheel of Time series is very popular and I
believe the PC game using the unreal engine has done very
well. Has there been any plans to branch into other
mediums such as film or tv?
A: Well, NBC has an option for a miniseries, but I
understand the option is unlikely to be renewed. I guess
you can write to the network
Q: ...How much influence did you have
on the WoT computer game, what is your feeling about the
game, and what is your opinion about the community? And,
within the community it is well known that a lot of
readers got into the game, but the other way around as
well: a lot of gamers tried the books, the Wheel of Time
books and liked them and what is your opinion about that?
A: I saw the computer game as a way to attract people to
the books. That's why I agreed, when I was approached by
gaming companies, who started wanting the rights. But I
also wanted it to be something that was going to be
decent. So when I signed the first contract, I made sure
there was a particular clause in the contract. And they
brought me the plans for the game, now, they'd showed me
a couple of games that they'd done previously. When they
brought in the plans for the game. What they had done
with that was file away the numbers off the previous
games, took the files' serial numbers off, and put some
whiteout over the names, and blacked out the names for my
book into the ... over their old games. And I said no. I
don't like that, I would like you to do this, and this,
and this. I would like this to be possible, and that to
be possible. And they said 'well, we can't really do
that' And I said 'well, ah I guess.. well, there is this
paragraph 24, subparagraph z, and I'm invoking that now,
and here's a check, that's the money you gave me, goodbye.'
...go away. Here, I'm giving you back the money, go away.
So they were shocked. And they came to me and said 'look,
no, we'd really like to do this, and we'll do the things
that you'd like to do. Well, they did. Took them over two-and-a-half
years. they had to sell their company to a bigger company
to get the money to finance it, [laughter] but that was
okay. And I liked the fact that one review said that
they'd used the UnrealEngine better than Unreal did. I
liked the fact that they were hired based on my game, the
game based on my books, that they were hired to write the
next Unreal game, the sequal to Unreal.
I like the fact that although the Unreal Engine turned
out to be incapable of doing some of the things that I
wanted them to do, because they knew about these things
that I wanted them to do, they were hired to rewrite the
Unreal Engine so that it could do the things that I
wanted it to do that previously it could not.
What is going to happen, I don't know...
... [asked Mike Verdu about this]
...to do more computer games. But then a French company
bought Legend GTI and Mike said 'they've told us, we must
go into a new direction' and I asked 'what is this new
direction?' and he said 'I don't know, they won't tell us.
They say we're supposed to wander around until we find it.'
So I don't know what's going to happen there. I think
maybe there's been too much wine before the meeting but I
have no idea what will happen there.
I think the game is visually beautiful, but I've never
played it, because I don't play that type of game. When
I'm on a computer and I'm not working, which is not very
often, I play chess, or perhaps a strategic simulation of
a battle. Free-fight games for every war, that sort of
What did you think of the Wheel of Time game,
and would you like to see more of them? If so, First-Person-Shooter
type again, or something completely different? Something
you would like to play yourself, perhaps?
I thought it was a good game. I have to admit I have not played
it. I have seen it. I think it is visually
beautiful. I have talked to people - friends, and fans -
who are both gamers and fans to the books, and they
seemed to think it was a very good game, so I trust their
judgment more on that than I trust my own. I would like
to see more games, yes, and, I would like to see
different types of games. I think that this type of game
is fine, I would have no objection to another game of
this type, certainly not, but I would also like to see it
expanded into other types. Im not sure how workable
that is. I have a tendency to speak full of ignorance in
this area - I wouldnt know. There were things that
I asked them to do, when Legend was beginning to do the
game, and I didnt know that the technology did not exist
to do what I was asking them to do, and in fact, the last
time I talked to anybody from Legend/GTI, they had been
at that point hired to rewrite the Unreal Engine
itself, in order to make the Unreal Engine capable of
doing some things that I had asked them to do in the
game, that they couldnt do.
Youve seen the level design and the detail in
each level from the game - do you like it, compared to
the amount of detail you put in the environments in your
Yes and no. Yes, it is wonderful realism for in the game.
But, compared to the books, I wouldnt be
fully satisfied with anything other than photo-realism.
Not for 100% at least.
following questions all come from a single interview,
published in a computer magazine called PCPowerPlay,
in November of '99.
So how much of
The Wheel of Time game bears the mark of Robert Jordan?
Well, I only know a
little bit about the game. I'm not a programmer. My real
programming skills are decades out of date. I started
when you had to learn how to operate a key-punch machine
so you could do your stacks of cards to hand into the
mainframe, 'cause there was nothing else than the
Oh dear! So what
role did you play in the development of the game?
To a large extent it
was that I said I wanted certain things to be done. And
it was not that I was asking them to do these things, it
was that I was telling them "Do these thngs, or
there's no deal". They were okay with that. The
things I asked them to do made the game much more
complex; made it much more difficult to design - hence it
wasn't on the streets three years ago.
It could have
been ready, theoretically, three years ago. How long has
the game been in development then?
For at least four or
five years. The thing is, I wanted it to be a game where
it'd be, at least in mathematical terms, impossible to
play the same game twice. Every time you start the Wheel
of Time, it's gotta be different. I mean, the landscape
is the same, but you're not going to be able to play the
same game again - there are too many changes in
conditions. There are Ter'angreal (magic foci, used as
offensive and defensive weapons in the game)- there is a
large library of Ter'angreal in the game. But they are
not handed over to the players. A random selection is
made when you start up the game, and distributed at
random over the landscape. I also wanted the NPC's to be
as close to player characters as possible. So you can
bribe them to lie to or kill others. And they'll respond
to you depending on your character and the way you've
dealt with others.
So why did you
specifically ask for all this?
Because I think the
world changes and things are different. Things change all
the time. It seemed to me that making a game where you
learn all the rules and zip through and go back and do it
again to see if you can do it faster is boring. I find it
Given the almost
rabid demeaner of your fans, how well do you think they
will receive the WoT game?
I hope well. It takes
place somewhere between fify and [a] hundred years before
the time of the books. It doesn't involve any characters
from them either, and it's not going to be exactly like
the books - there's no way it can be as it's a different
It's shaping up to be
a really good game. Hopefully, if it's well received,
there will be modules that take people more into the
world as it exists in the books, and possibly even
modules where people play characters in the books, or
interact with characters from the books - which I'm
hoping is something the fans would love.
The game also uses the
Unreal engine, and one of my favourite quotes is "It
uses the Unreal engine better than Unreal does". The
design team have done so well with it that they've been
hired to design the sequel to Unreal - Unreal 2. Another
quote I liked was "Every year we're promised
something new, something different, something fresh. At
last somebody has delivered".
You come across
as someone who knows games!
I play games! But the
games I play are Chess, and Go, and very firmly reality-based
military-strategy and tactic games like Civilisation, Sim
City, Sim World and so on. I really enjoy those. I don't
play them very often though, and recently just cleared 12
GB of games from my hard drive.
That's a lot of
space for games!
Yeah, yeah. Well,
there are shelves of games up at home. I buy the darn
things, I just find very little time to play them.
To change the
topic a bit, do you feel threatened, as a novelist, by
games becoming more appealing as elaborate story-telling
Year after year, they
tell me about the death of books. Yet I see more books
sold. You can't take a computer into the bath and let it
dry out if you happen to drop it by accident. You can't
take a computer to the beach without worrying about sand
getting into it. With a book, you can treat it as rough
as you want to, and if it ends up destroyed, you can buy
another one at a relatively low cost. Books also don't
have maintenance costs nor need to have their batteries
replaced on regular occasions. You can just put one in
your coat pocket and walk. I think that says it all,
Hold / Thus
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