Drew Karpyshyn, author of Mass Effect and Star Wars expanded universe, such as trilogy Darth Bane.
Drew Karpyshyn is a writer who has worked as a game designer at Wizards of Coast and BioWare. It ‘was lead writer of the team that developed Mass Effect, for which he also wrote all the novels.
For the world sci-fi Lucas, Star Wars, wrote the famous trilogy dedicated to Darth Bane and other novels and video games set in the Old Republic. Recently released in the U.S. Children of Fire, the first volume of his fantasy trilogy. His novels are published by Del Rey.
Good morning Mr. Karspyshyn,first of all let me thank you for your availability. Before becoming a famous writer you were a famous game designer, can you tell us how you manage your job between literature and video games?
For me, working on games and novels was similar, since I my role at BioWare was as a lead writer. I focused on stories and characters, which is similar to what I do in my books.
However, working on a game is a much more collaborative project – you need to work your ideas in with the other members of the team, so there is a lot of give and take. In a book, however, I get to make all the decisions, so I have a lot more creative control.
From a merely technical point of view, what are the differences between writing for a video game project and writing a novel?
In games, you have a lot of other resources to add to the experience of the audience: animated characters, visual effects, music, sound effects, professional voice actors, etc. When all these elements come together properly, you get some amazing results – like the conversation with Sovereign in the first Mass Effect game.
The final result made my writing seem more epic and impressive than it really was because you had all these other elements adding to it. The tradeoff, however, is being aware that all these other departments are also going to be working on a scene, and sometimes as a writer you can’t do what you originally intended because it will conflict with the other departments.
Writing for such an important franchise such as Star Wars may not be simple due to fans huge pressures on Star Wars universe: how did you approach to this world?
I think the key to being successful when working on something like Star Wars is to respect the franchise. I was a huge Star Wars fan growing up, so I know what Star Wars fans want.
I’m not trying to change Star Wars, I’m trying to build on it and add to it. I think fans recognize this, and I didn’t have any major issues with any of my Star Wars novels.
Your trilogy on Darth Bane was one of the most passionate book I have read in the last years: is a great, live, passionate and involving character. Is there any possibility to see him at the cinema?
I would love to see Darth Bane’s story brough to film, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. Disney has said they are going to make more Star Wars movies, but I think they are going to focus on stories they want to tell, not on redoing a story someone else has written.
Making a movie (or a book or a game) takes a lot of time and effort, so I can’t blame the studios for wanting to focus on their own story over mine.
Reading your novels there are accurate descriptions of light saber fights (I found extraordinary the fight between Darth Bane and the group of Jedy described in ): do you think that working in the video games world could help you developing your skills in describing such scenes?
I think being involved in gaming helped me understand the “rules” of combat: attack, counter-attack, etc.
But I did a lot of outside research to try and grasp the martial arts feel of lightsaber combat, and I really focused on bringing out the intricate details to make the lightsaber battles memorable.
Would you like to write for the cinema or for comics? In my opinion you would be a perfect author for it.
I don’t have a long history with comics or graphic novels; I didn’t really read them growing up and even now I only read them sparingly. Writing for films would be an amazing experience, because the audience for movies is much, much larger than books or even video games.
But I know that if I did write for films I would have to sacrifice a lot of creative control – writers often see their scripts changed or rewritten in the movie industry. It would probably be worth it if the right project came along, however.
Though in video games world technology is extremely important, in the last years writing is playing a more and more important role. If I say that video games became the new boundary of the once called popular literature, what would it be your answer?
I think storytelling in games is growing in importance and popularity, but I think with games there will always be an understanding that gameplay is more important than story.
In a great game the story and gameplay compliment each other, but games are really about the game experience. I think they can be very rewarding for people who invest in the story, but I don’t see them supplanting books or films as the new story-telling medium.
When you were a teenager which was your favorite arcade?
I played a lot of arcade games, but I probably spent most of my time on the animated game Dragon’s Lair and on a game called Rygar. I also spent many hours (and many quarters!) on the original Gauntlet game.
In 2015 Star wars will be back at the cinema: what do you expect from this new saga?
I’m encouraged by what Disney has done with the Marvel franchise: they seem to understand how to appeal to fans and make a good film, so I expect they will do the same with the Star Wars films.
I assume the first movie will tie in with the previous films, but I hope down the road they will branch out into more expanded universe material.
Can you suggest me 4 titles: a book, a comics, a movie and a video game that we cannot miss?
This is tough for me, because I have my own interests in mind. For my own work, I’d love for fans to pick up my book Children of Fire, and I still think the original KOTOR video game holds up really well.
For comics, I’d recommend the Lost Suns Star Wars comics from Darkhorse, written by Alex Freed. As for films, that’s tougher for me to say. If you haven’t seen Alien or Aliens, those are excellent films. For something more recent, I really liked Django because I’m a big Tarantino fan.
While Star Wars was a consolidated project as for Mass Effect it was completely different as you are one of the creator of the whole project. As for the future are you going to develop again such projects or are you working on something new?
I can’t take all the credit for Mass Effect: there was an entire team behind the games and we worked together to create the universe. We spent a full year coming up with the different species, worlds, technologies and storylines before we began working on the game.
Right now, however, I’m taking a break from games and focusing on The Chaos Born, my own original fantasy trilogy. The first book, Children of Fire, is already out. I’ve finished writing the second book, The Scorched Earth, and I’m already starting work on the third and final novel in the series. After that I’ll have to see what I want to work on next.
Thanks a lot for your availability and greetings from your “Sugarpulp” fans!
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