Drew Karpyshyn Reddit Recap

March 20, 2013 at 7:21 am | Posted in Books, Interview, Sci-Fi, Star Wars, Star Wars Books, Video Games | 2 Comments
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drewkarpyshynAuthor Drew Karpyshyn answered a ton of questions on his Ask Me Anything Reddit chat the other day. The topics range from Mass Effect to Star Wars, books to video games. Here’s the full recap.

Drew Karpyshyn: I know it’s a bit early, but I’m here and ready to go. Let me set the stage: 85 degrees in Austin today so I snuck in some golf (shot 77, thanks for asking) and now I’m back home and raring to go.

Plenty of questions already, so let’s get to it!

Two thumbs up for all the wonderful stories that you have given us. You’re a fantastic teller of tales. I’ve always been intrigued at the character development between ME1 and ME2. Who are your favorite characters from the series and why? Were there any characters that were particularly fun to write? I was also curious to learn about the process of becoming an author of canon Star Wars books. I know there are plenty out there, but how did you personally get into the business? Thanks for all of your stories.

DK: I really liked Liara and Tali from ME1 – they both had a nice mix of innocence/naivite and toughness. And Joker was a lot of fun, especially once we locked down Seth Green to voice him. 

As for the SW books, I got that gig because of my work as the lead writer on KOTOR. LucasBooks was looking to branch into the Old Republic, and the success of KOTOR made me seem like an expert, I guess.

Not Star Wars but Mass Effect related question here—and thanks for the AMA, I’m hugely fond of KOTOR and its spawn, and I love the ME series.
I remember reading somewhere (I forget precisely where) that in the original plans for the first Mass Effect, the entire game would literally be a race against time—by chasing up one lead on Saren, you’d be potentially endangering or sacrificing another ally elsewhere. Of course, some of this made it into the final game in the form of the events on Virmire. Otherwise, however, the result was a game which was, whilst brilliant, broadly similar to other BioWare games, both before or since. Was there a particular reason this was toned down in the finished game? To make it more accessible and reduce player frustration? To reduce the number of variables that would have to be accounted for when carrying over the save file to ME2? Was it just an artistic choice?

DK: The “original plan” you’re talking about was really just one of the many, many, many brainstormed ideas we kicked around. During development of a game like ME, you always have a bunch of ideas and plans that are tossed into the mix early on, but they often fall to the side as you start focusing in. This was one of those that fell away quite early; there wasn’t ever any serious effort put into making it work, because we wanted to make a true BioWare style sci-fi game.

Hey Drew! How do you feel about Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, and what are your thoughts on episode VII? Are you afraid they might render obsolete decades of EU canon?

DK: I’m excited by Disney’s involvement; I like what they did with the Avengers and I love the idea of making regular SW films, a la the Bond franchise. (And I’m hoping they branch into the Old Republic and need a screenwriter…)

As for the EU canon, I’ll be honest – I don’t know what they plan, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they do take some things in a different direction. They need to do what they feel is best for the film franchise, and to be perfectly honest a few hundred thousand EU novel fans (or even a million, which might be generous) doesn’t have the economic clout to stand up against 10-20 million film fans they’re going after.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but business is business. In a perfect world they’ll be able to appease everyone, but the world is rarely perfect.

Did you have the content for Revan written in your head while you were writing KotOR? There are a lot of allusions to the things sort of foreshadowed in KotOR, but some changes as well. What was your involvement with KotOR 3, if any? Would you rather have seen that than SW:ToR? Finally, thank you for making the best part of my favourite video game of all time. I still replay KotOR at least once (sometimes twice!) a year, every year since 2003. It never gets old and by god if its engaging and beautiful story isn’t a massive part of the reason why.

DK: When I was working on KOTOR, I knew it was going to be a great game. Not to brag, but even early on we could tell it was awesome – sometimes you just know. But as good as it was, we never imagined that many years later there would still be enough interest to make a novel about the central character. So I didn’t plan out Revan (the novel) in advance.

However, once I started working on the novel I went back to KOTOR (and the sequel) and tried to build on what we had established. Where I could, I tried to continue themes and various storylines in a way that made it fit together as seamlessly as possible. Sometimes this worked well (which makes it seem like we foreshadowed stuff) and sometimes it didn’t (which caused some fans to scream RETCON).

As for KOTOR 3, I never heard of anyone actually doing any real work on it. I wasn’t ever involved in discussions or talks, so from my perspective it’s just vaporware that exists only in the hopes and dreams of the fans. (Hmmm… was that offensive? Sometimes I come across like a dick, but I’m really not. Mostly.) I know some folks wanted KOTOR 3 instead of SW:TOR, but that was never an option for me or BioWare in the business world of game development.

Was there anything you wanted to put in the Revan novel that you couldn’t due to continuity with SWTOR?

DK: Well, I would have liked to resolve the ending instead of leaving it a bit open-ended, but that wasn’t really an option. The novel only existed because of SWTOR, so it makes sense that it had to tie-in with the game, which meant we needed to have a story that could lead into other stories.

I realize some readers won’t play the game, so for them they may feel a bit cheated. But I did try to give them some closure, and I think the novel does feel complete in that Revan did accomplish the one thing he cared about most. (I won’t say anymore – I’m probably already violating some spoiler codes.)

I know you must hate being asked Mass Effect questions by now, but I’m gonna try my luck anyway. In ME2 there was increasing talks about dark matter and decaying suns that there where no further explanation of, where did you want to go with that? Let’s say that Bioware hired you to be the mainwriter for the next Mass Effect game, which direction would you take it? Ever plan on venturing into comic books? If yes is there any series that you would want to get into? Have Disney asked you in any way or shape or form about the new Star Wars movies? Sorry about my English, it’s not my first language.

DK: There are a lot of things in ME1 and ME2 that we planted as seeds in case we wanted to build on them later on. However, as the project evolves sometimes you have to go in different directions and you dont’ always get to make those seeds grow.
I can’t really answer this. I haven’t thought about it – I’m focused on Children of Fire right now. And even if I did have some ideas, I’d need to keep them close to the vest… I could get in trouble for spilling the beans. Sorry.

Right now I don’t have a lot of interest in writing comics or graphic novels – I’m more comfortable in the novels, and I’m also working at developing my screenplay skills.

Disney has not asked me or contacted me in any way, shape or form. But if they do I will jump on that like a fat kid on a cheeto. (That’s not offensive, because I was that fat kid.)

Hey Drew, absolutely love Mass Effect and I recently finished reading Revan, which was excellent. I was wondering if you would have gone in the same direction taken in Mass Effect 3 had you been the writer. As well I was wondering if you could give us any additional details that might not have been presented to us at the end of Mass Effect 3. Thank you a thousand times for doing this, not to mention your work on creating one of my favourite stories of all time in Mass Effect.

DK: Okay, I guess I can’t duck this forever. The ME team did go in a different direction than I expected once I left, but that’s not very surprising. Even though we planned much of the ME trilogy out, it was all broad strokes – we had to leave things flexible enough for us to adapt and change depending on how everything evolved. For example, Cerberus was never that important in our initial plans – they were just a small, throw-away group of radical humans we could use for some subplots in ME1.

But Cerberus struck a chord with the fans, and when I wrote the second ME novel I decided to dig into the group a little more. TIM was born, fans and the team loved the character, and we just ran with it.

The Darth Bane trilogy are easily some of my favorite Star Wars books, up there with the original Thrawn trilogy. If it wasn’t for catching a glimpse of the cover of Path of Destruction when it came out in paperback I probably wouldn’t own any of the dozens of Star Wars novels now littering my house.
Here’s my question: do you prefer writing for video games or novels? Are the license holders easier to work with on different media or was it about the same?

DK: I actually prefer writing novels for two reasons. One, I have almost complete creative control. Even with a franchise like Star Wars or Mass Effect, as long as I respect the universe and the theme of the franchise, the book I write is pretty much my story. With games, you work with a writing team and you also have to constantly make adjustments to accomodate everyone else on the project: art, design, gameplay, cinematics. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you get some amazing results when it all comes together. But it is a lot more work and effort, and you always need to remember that gameplay is king – story is important, but it has to serve the game as a whole, it’s not the be all and end all.

Second, games have a very long development cycle – 2 or 3 years minimum for a BioWare style game, sometimes longer. You end up spending a long, long time working and reworking the same story and characters until it’s ready to go. But with a book, I can write it and move on to something else in about 6-9 months. In the time period I worked on Jade Empire, ME1, ME2 and SWTOR I also wrote 8 novels. Since I get bored easily, I tend to like being able to move from project to project.

As for license holders, they do have a bit more of an interest in games because the cost of making them is so much higher, and the audience is so much larger. A popular game sells several million copies; a best selling novel often only sells a few hundred thousand.

Hi Drew, thanks for doing this AMA, it’s greatly appreciated. When it comes to playing around in an already established universe such as Star Wars, how much free reign do you have in creating characters, events and stories? I’m guessing having it set during the Old Republic gives you a lot more freedom, but was there something you really wanted to include in any of the games or stories that was knocked back for whatever reason?
Thanks again!

DK: I had a lot of freedom, largely because I was the first (and for a while the only) author working in the Old Republic era. As long as I didn’t do anything stupid, like kill off Yoda’s grandfather or something, they let me run with it.

However, there was existing source material in the form of the Dark Horse comics. They actually introduced Bane as a character, so I needed to make the first Darth Bane novel fit with what was established in the comics. In fact, much of the last third of the novel is a retelling of the Jedi vs Sith comic series, but with the point of view focusing on different characters.

Putting aside the endings controversy, what did you think of the character arcs in ME3? Particularly for Ash, who seemed to get a bit sidelined in the game?

DK: Sorry, going to go back to my “didn’t play it” response. Can’t really comment on something like this if I haven’t seen it.

Hi Drew, Big fan of your work, especially on the KOTOR games and Mass effect series. What is your honest opinion on the ending of the Mass Effect series? Would you have gone a different route? If so how would do so? Thanks for taking the time to do this!

DK: Nope, haven’t played it yet. Too busy working on The Scorched Earth, the second novel in my original fantasy trilogy. FYI – the first book, Children of Fire, comes out August 27. (Is that bad form? To duck the question and then plug my next product? My bad.)

Drew, you are possible one of my favourite writers. You have created characters that often are master manipulators and treat lieing in particular as an art form. Are these types of characters difficult to write? And why do they interest you? Your last book was a hell of a ride by the way.

DK: I think manipulative characters are interesting because they do something we all want or try to do at some point. Manipulation is about power and getting what we want, so it’s a natural human instinct to be drawn to it. Of course, I also hope people see the dark side of these characters – even if we sometimes envy what they do.

As for being difficult, it’s always a challenge to make the manipulation seem realistic. You don’t want the character being manipulated to seem overly stupid or gullible, and sometimes that’s tough to pull off. But actually writing these kind of characters is sort of fun – I like peeking into the dark corners of my own nature in my writing. Hopefully that helps me avoid them in real life.

Hey Drew, When you play(ed) Kotor, do you play light side or dark side?

DK: Played it both ways more times than I can count during development. I tended to lean towards the D&D equivalent of chaotic neutral – randomly being light/dark depending on how I felt at the time. Cool voice actor? Light side. Weird face model? Dark side. Soda machine out of diet coke? Dark side. Someone just brought in cookies? Light side.

Dessel/Bane was obviously a very powerful Sithlord. And it was hinted that he was the fortold Sith’ari. Whether this is coincidental or blatant, I am not sure. But how does it feel to have a character that you sculpted and created take on it’s own essences and characterizations outside your vision of them?
Edit From my understanding of how old novels were written in part of the Star Wars EU is Lucasarts or whatever company deals with the writings had a lot of input, but also the company West End Games had a lot of content with character development from the expanded universe. When you started writing what kind of information did you research in order to develop your stories or was it pretty much a meeting between yourself and the company and they gave you a direction you were suppose to follow? Also, whose idea was it to give the Exile a name? and do you feel the fans reacted well to that or was it something that kind of bit back?

DK: Just to be clear, I didn’t actually create Bane. He was introduced in the Dark Horse Jedi vs Sith comics as a shadowy character lurking in the background. I just sort of pushed him more to the forefront and then expanded on what was hinted at in the comics… though I do feel a bit possessive of him now.

In some ways its flattering to see a character I created become something more than what I intended; it means fans are really drawn to him (or her). But it can be kind of odd to see fans running wild with theories and speculation I never intended. But that’s part of what I love about SW – the passion of the fans.

As for giving the Exile a name, we all knew it had to happen if she was going to be in the novel. Calling her the Exile over and over would have been tedious to write and annoying to read – trust me on this. So I came up with her name, even though I knew it would piss off a lot of folks. Names are funny – if you are very lucky, half the people like it and half don’t care. But usually most people hate it… though the options they offer up instead are just as bad.

But then once the name is applied to something or someone and it’s out there for a while, people get used to it. Honestly, “Star Wars” is kind of a silly name. It sounds like a placeholder until they come up with something better, right? (Hey, George – what’s this movie about? Well, it’s in space and there’s a fight – call it Space Fight? No, that’s bad. Star Wars? Eh… leave it for now and we’ll get something cool later on.)

But now we’re all familiar with the name, and it seems perfect – it’s hard to imagine it being named anything else. We had the same issue with Mass Effect. People HATED the name, but they hated it less than any other name on our list. So we used it, even though 75% of the dev team thought it was lame. And now most people hear Mass Effect and they think “awesome – I love that game”!

Are there any details you can tell us about the supposed original direction for Mass Effect, where the Reapers purpose was to stop civilizations from overusing, well, the mass effect. I’ve heard that was meant to be the reason behind the planet you re-recruit Tali on in ME2. Also, thank you for doing this AMA and playing a part in creating one of my favourite universes. Edit: Oh my mistake, I was linked to this from a friend and had thought it was in /r/IAmA not /r/StarWarsEU . I apologize, however, I’d still be grateful if you could answer.

DK: No problem – plenty of ME questions already.

I’ve kind of talked about this already, but the so-called “original” direction of Mass Effect was really just one idea on the table out of many. People hear someone mention it in an interview, ignore the context that it was just one of many ideas, and latch onto it because in their mind it’s the direction they wanted to go. But as a developer, you see this all the time. There are all sorts of plans, ideas and storylines that either get dropped or reworked as the game evolves, especially if you make a sequel.

If we didn’t have that flexibility, then TIM and Cerberus would never have been created, so even though some fans may be upset about what was lost, it’s important to realize that it’s just a natural part of the process. And as a developer, I quickly learned not to dwell on the stuff that gets dropped – I let it go and don’t worry about.

1) What would your idea have been for Mass Effect 3’s ending? (basic premise, choices, affectable, etc.)
2) How do you feel about the way SW:TOR’s plot(s) was(were) done?
3) Do you have any particular regrets about KOTOR/Mass Effect 1&2?
4) What’s your favorite color?
5) How often do you play a game/read a book you’ve had input on?

DK: 1 – Check out my FAQ page on my website for my non-answer answer to his: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/c/?page_id=63

2 – I think they were solid as far as MMO plots. Obviously, an MMO is a different animal, so there are limitations to what we can and can’t do. And nobody had tried anything like SWTOR before, so we were breaking new ground. I think as the team keeps on writing for it and getting more familiar with the style and its unique quirks, you’ll see the stories get stronger and stronger.

3 – No; I love the games and I’m very proud to have worked on them all. (Okay, one small thing – anyone remember Dead-eye Duncan from the Dueling Pit on Taris? I wrote a small subplot where he keeps popping up on other worlds; he escaped Taris and started calling himself the Mysterious Stranger – stealing your name – and living off your fame. But eventually his lameness would always expose his true nature, and he’d have to run for it and start the charade on another world. But we didn’t end up having time to implement it.)

4 – I wear black a lot, and my car is black, and my favorite sports team is the San Antonio Spurs, who are silver and black. So I guess black, even though dudes who say black is their favorite color are lame.

5 – I play the games thousands of times during development, so when I’m done I don’t ever want to see them again. And I don’t reread a book I wrote unless I’m writing a sequel and I want to reacquaint myself with it.

Sorry to be another Mass Effect fanboy. I know you no longer work for BioWare, but do you think you might ever write another Mass Effect novel? Your books were great and the guy who took over for book 4 kinda goofed up. Also, I will add to the pile of people asking how you would’ve taken Mass Effect 3.

DK: Nothing in the works for another ME novel right now – focusing on Children of Fire and my fantasy trilogy for the next year or so. After that, who knows? I’ll just see what’s out there and where I’m at creatively.

As for ME3, I’ll just relink to the FAQ page: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/c/?page_id=63

What was your favorite book to write? How long does it usually take to get from the concept of a book to actually publishing it?

DK: I really enjoyed Temple Hill, my first novel, partly because it was my first. I had a lot of fun with Darth Bane, of course, but SW: Annihilation was a nice departure for me – focusing on a non-Force using main character. But honestly, Children of Fire – the fist book in my original fantasy trilogy – was special because it’s the first non-licensed book I’ve written. The world is all mine – I created it, I own it and I can do whatever I want in it. Obviously, it’s going to hold a very special place in my heart.

As for timelines, I usually like to spend a month or two thinking about a book in general terms. Then I’ll outline it in detail (chapter by chapter) and spend another month working with that. Then I spend 3-4 months writing it and send it to the publisher. Then the publisher takes 3-6 months doing edits, typesetting, printing, etc. before it hits the shelves. So it can be anywhere from 6-12 months.

Hey Drew, first off, thank you so much for the Mass Effect series. It was definitely one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. A few questions:
1) What are your thoughts on the Mass Effect 3 ending? 2) Where did you get inspiration for all the characters? In particular, what gave you the idea to make a loyal sidekick like Garrus, or a brooding killer like Thane? 3) Who is your favourite character in the Mass Effect universe, if you had to pick just one?

DK: 1 – Once again, my FAQ page: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/c/?page_id=63

2 – Inspiration is tough to pin down. Remember, we had an entire team of writers, along with other developers, who contributed to the Mass Effect games. Ideas were tossed around and reworked and refined until they just felt right; I can’t really point to any simple inspiration for any particular character. They just evolved out of many months of planning and brainstorming.

3 – Tough call. If I can go ME EU (is that a thing?) I’ll say Grayson. I really liked him – I enjoyed writing him and he felt very real to me. In the games, it’s hard to pick – I liked writing Liara and Tali quite a bit. But my favorite single conversation is the Sovereign dialog on Virmire – it’s the perfect example of how music, art, voice over, cinematics and writing can come together to make something awesome.

Hey Drew! I have a general question: when it comes to writing a Star Wars game, you already have a whole massive universe of stories to build on, but the really impressive part to me is that when you wrote the ME universe, you created not only a whole universe of history, but a whole universe of technology. What kind of scientists and engineers did you consult with? I found the ‘mass effect’ as a convenient way around the light-speed barrier to be clever as hell. Also, did you consult with any kind of paleoanthropologists when you were writing the histories of the extant races? What about the multiple extinct races we got to read about when scanning various planets?

DK: The Mass Effect universe was the creation of a very large development team over at BioWare. Initially we had a small group – about six of us – and we worked out the basics. Then as people came onto the development team, they would add their feedback and we just kept building the universe out until it felt like it was full.

As for technical experts, we didn’t need to go outside the team. BioWare was chock full of science geeks and techno-nerds, so we always had plenty of people to double check our stuff. One of the writers, Chris L’Etoile, took special pride in pushing us towards “hard” sci-fi, and Casey Hudson – the project director – had an engineering background before he got into games. (Or something like that – Casey did an awful lot of stuff; he’s a real-life Renaissance man.)

Two related questions: Would you write the screenplay of a Mass Effect or Star Wars movie if offered? What do you think of Legendary Pictures making a movie based on the first Mass Effect game?

DK: Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes.

Hollywood is a funny place. I wish them well, but I’m not holding my breath. A large percentage of films that are “in the works” never get to production, and I’ll believe it when I see it on the screen. And if it ever does become a reality, I’ll reserve any judgments until I actually see it for myself… I hate folks who freak out based on rumor and speculation.

What made you go the route you did with Darth Bane when there was already some establishment for his character in the Jedi vs Sith comics? (For example, making him a relatively new Sith rather than the grizzled veteran of the comics)

DK: I actually didn’t think the comics explicitly had him as a grizzled veteran. We don’t see much of him; he kind of lurks in the shadows. I guess you could assume he’s been a Sith for a long time, but I didn’t get that vibe. He seemed like an outsider in the comics, and I figured someone who had a view of the Sith that was so different than all the other Sith Lords had to be something of a new comer to the philosophy.

Based on that, I wanted to explore where he came from and how he came to his unique vision of the Dark Side. It’s a classic hero’s journey, from simple commoner to savior… but with a dark side twist.

Hey Drew. It’s the guy who created your Reddit account. In the Darth Bane Trilogy, was there anything you wanted to do with the characters that Lucasfilm/Books banned you from doing?

DK: They were actually very open about letting me tell the story I wanted to tell. There were a couple funny edits they made – they were very conscious of any reference to sex. I had once scene where a character recalls something said to her in bed the previous night by her lover, and they asked me to change it to her remembering something said over dinner. But that’s a very minor change.
I was shocked they didn’t ask me to change the ending of Rule of Two. I kind of figured I was pushing the graphic violence to a level beyond what Star Wars would normally include, but nobody ever commented on that.

(Does that say something about our society?)

Drew, what inspired you to start writing Star Wars lore? Also whats your favorite SW book or movie. Fantastic work I just picked up the Darth Bane Series today, keep up the great work!

DK: I grew up with Star Wars. I saw the first movie when I was seven in theaters, so it was a major cultural influence on me. I went as a Jawa or Sandperson for Halloween most years (because I could wear warm clothes underneath – very important up in Edmonton, Canada). So when I finally got the chance to work with the Star Wars universe through BioWare on KOTOR, it was the fulfillment of a childhood dream.

As for favorite SW books, I’ll disqualify mine. I enjoyed the Thrawn novels, and I really liked Shatterpoint. Movie is a slam dunk – Empire.

Why did you decide to take Revan’s character in the direction you did? Along with that, what was your opinion of the way KotOR II looked at Revan’s character?

DK: Do you mean in KOTOR or the novel? In KOTOR, we tried to leave Revan’s character open so that players could take their version in the direction they wanted. But with the novel, we needed to make a canon version. The powers that be figured we should do a light-side redeemed Revan who was male because he’d have the most mass appeal; it made sense to me. (Plus I’d already done plenty of dark side stuff with Bane.)

As for KOTOR 2, they had a tough job – they needed to make a sequel to a game they didn’t create, with a character that could be male or female and might have been light side or dark side. I think they did a good job throwing out all sorts of conflicting theories and evidence that allowed fans to form their own opinions, which is kind of what happens to legends and heroes when they disappear. Mythology springs up all around them, they get co-opted by various groups with various agendas, and the truth becomes a murky, messy, muddled cloud.

How much of a series of games’ story is pre-planned? Is it done in a skeletal form, or do you merely leave enough loose ends in a game to allow you to build on the existing story?

DK: We plan it out in very broad strokes, focusing more on themes and style than specific events. This gives us the flexibility we need to adapt and change based on the evolution of the project and the reaction of fans once it goes out there.

I love love love your work, KOTOR, ME and your novels in general (can’t wait for Children of Fire, even though I’m sad to see you leave the video game industry) – and hopefully it’s okay if I ask a general writing question: I was wondering how you handled writer’s block, and if it was ever helpful writing with other people? (edit real quick to have a fangirl moment over the ME books in general, and to thank you for writing Hendel)

DK: I don’t actually believe in writer’s block. I do procrastinate, but if I sit my ass down in the chair, open the word doc and avoid things like surfing the net or watching TV, then I will get words out. Once you start getting words out, more words follow. Sometimes they’re garbage and you trash them, but usually some of what you write is worth keeping. Do this over and over, and eventually you have enough words to make a novel. Rinse and repeat.

As for other people, I prefer to work alone – I like to sink or swim based on my own merits and not rely on someone else.

What would you say the biggest challenges are in writing for games as compared to writing novels, and vice versa? When you first start thinking about a story, which generally comes to you first: plot, character(s), or world? Does this differ depending on what medium you’re writing in? Thank you for doing this AMA and for your hand in some of my favorite games and Star Wars novels. Your work has had a huge impact on me as a writer.

DK: Novels are all about motivation. Because I’m the only one writing it, I need to make sure I stick to a schedule. Nobody is there to tell me to get my ass in gear if I’m falling behind – and all writers tend to fall behind. Then the deadline gets close and I go into panic mode, I write like a possessed man, and the book gets done and I swear it won’t happen this way again. But it does.

Games are all about compromise and working with the rest of the team. You have to give and take with other writers. You have to make changes because art or level design has to change the environment, or because programming can’t make the plot you wrote work the way you want. You need to cut stuff because other departments are off schedule, and the game is going to miss its release date.

When I work on a story, I tend to focus on plot. This leads to characters (who is doing the plot? why are they doing the plot?). And then based on this, I’ll construct the world around them… though really, I’m sort of doing all this at the same time.

In the video game world, however, you often start with the world. This is partly because the artists and level designers need time to build it, and partly because it’s such a visual medium. Then you work characters and plot into that world.

Who’s the best Cinematic Designer you ever worked with? (guess who :P)

DK: Hmmm… is this Nat? If so, then I’ll say Paul Marino, of course!

HAHAHAHAHA!! Yes it is. Good answer.

Anymore updates on Children of Fire? Is the whole story already in your head or is it kind of made as each book is written?

DK: The first book (Children of Fire) is done and comes out August 27 in North America. (September 5 in UK). The second and third books have detailed, chapter by chapter outlines done. I’m actually in the process of writing the second book (The Scorched Earth) now; I should be done by June. After that, I’ll roll into book three (Chaos Unleashed).

Btw – thanks for letting me pimp my non-SW project!

I just want to thank you for the Darth Bane trilogy. While they were not the first Star Wars books I read, they’re way up as some of my favorites, and I’ve lent them out to countless others to introduce them to the Star Wars EU, and I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy them. Between the Bane trilogy and your work on various other Old Republic era work, I feel you’ve laid out a ton of the backstory that the Star Wars EU was missing for far too long, and I want to thank you greatly for that. What inspired you to work in the era of the Old Republic? Was it just by virtue of working at Bioware and them making KOTOR, or were you interested in working in that era before that?

DK: My work on KOTOR gave me the reputation of “the Old Republic guy”, which was something I was perfectly happy with. I love Star Wars, but the EU was very, very crowded. The Old Republic felt cleaner to me; it let me work with a mostly blank canvas rather than picking up the pieces others had left. (That’s also basically why BioWare chose to make an Old Republic game.)

Thanks for doing this AMA! The Darth Bane trilogy is one of my favourite series of the EU. Where did you get the idea for it? Did George Lucas ever comment on it, or was he involved in any way? And with the confirmation of stand alone movies from Lucasfilm, how would you feel about a Darth Bane movie? Would you want to be involved?

DK: Bane was a character in the Jedi vs Sith comics of Dark Horse, and I found him to be a very interesting and compelling figure. So I used the comics as a building block and fleshed him out.

I’ve never met GL, and I’ve never heard any feedback from him. I can’t be sure, but I think he focused almost exclusively on the films and TV, and left the games and novels to others.

I’d love to see a Darth Bane movie, and I’d love to be involved. But I haven’t heard anything from anyone about it yet. And to be honest, I’m not holding my breath. There are plenty of talented screenwriters dying to work with the SW franchise, and lots of untold stories out there… they don’t need to rehash my work to be successful. (In other words, I need them more than they need me.)

Hey Drew! I was wondering, back when you were writing the original KotOR, how much of the eventual story (the lead up to TOR) did you have planned/written?

DK: Not sure I understand what you’re asking exactly. For KOTOR, our focus was on the game we were making. We didn’t have any plans for a sequel or anything like that; we just wanted to make the story work for anyone who played our game.

DK: Okay, I’ve been answering questions for over an hour and a half and my fingers are starting to cramp up. I know there are still questions out there that weren’t answered, but I think I’m spent.

Thanks everyone for this – I hope you enjoyed it!

And you can always e-mail me through the CONTACT page on my website: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/

I answer all my e-mails, though sometimes it takes a couple weeks for me to get back to you.

Embrace the dark side!

You can check out the original discussion page here.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.


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  1. […] Дрю Карпишин отвечал на вопросы фанатов о своих играх и книгах. Когда его спросили, жалеет ли […]

  2. […] Speaking of things you might have missed, last week I hosted a live Ask Me Anything chat on Reddit. For those of you upset that you missed out on it, what can I say? I mentioned it a few times on my Twitter feed – that’s all I can do with stuff that comes together unexpectedly. (FYI – here’s a transcript of the AMA in a slightly easier to read format courtesy of the folks over at Rooqoo Depot.)  […]

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