If you're not a gamer, let me bring you up to speed on the news. Elden Ringis an action role-playing game developed by FromSoftware and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. The game, directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki (creator of Dark Souls), was made in collaboration with novelist George R. R. Martin, who provided written material for the game's setting and some of its characters. He worked on the game several years ago, around 2017.
In a recent interview with Game Informer, Miyazaki talked about the original characters in the story that Martin had written.
“When Martin wrote these characters, and when he provided that origin story, that mythos for the world of Elden Ring, these demigods were much closer to their original form, and maybe closer to human form back then, before the Shattering, before it all started."
That means that once they got deeper into the game, everything changed. ("The Shattering" is a cataclysmic war that occurs in the game.)
Miyazaki said, "So it was more up to us to interpret this and say, ‘How did they become such inhuman monsters? And how did the mad taint of the shattered shards of the Elden Ring and its power affect them?’ So that was our job to take these grand heroes and sort of misshape them and distort them into something they were not.”
They worried this might surprise Martin, since he did so much work on the worldbuilding. Martin was contracted to write what he thought was going to wind up being humans.
He wrote on his blog in Dec. 2021, "What they wanted from me was just a bit of worldbuilding: a deep, dark, resonant world to serve as a foundation for the game they planned to create. And as it happens, I love creating worlds and writing imaginary history. So I did my bit, and handed off to my new friends in Japan, and they took it from there. And years passed. Videogames are as big as movies these days (bigger, actually)… and take just as long to create."
Obviously, with the game dropping, everyone got to look at what the characters actually were. For his part, Martin seems intrigued and excited about the game's visuals and characters.
Miyazaki finished by explaining he didn't think these changes would be a big deal, saying, “And I think if we get a chance to show Martin and if he gets a chance to see the game and see these characters, I think he might be a bit shocked. When he wrote them, he was really envisioning something a little bit more human, a little bit more traditional human drama and fantasy characters. So I hope he gets a kick out of that.”
This just goes to show that you don't have to stick with first drafts of stories or characters. If the plot is taking you somewhere more interesting, that foundation can be in place while you let the pieces grow and change. Martin provided that backstory, which Miyazaki was able to build upon.
Martin's public acknowledgment I think certifies he's happy with the way it turned out and excited for gamers to play it.
Have you played it yet? What do you think of the worldbuilding? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.