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Tie-Ins: A Novel Idea
April 14th 2002, 04:29 CEST by m0nty

I'm reading the latest novel by Kim Stanley Robinson at the moment, called The Years of Rice and Salt (warning: spoilers to follow). It's a fine example of the sub-genre within science fiction called alternate histories, which charts a divergence from normal Earth history from a single point, in this case the plague completely wiping out the European races during the Middle Ages. I have read novels like this before, notable Phillip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle (where Hitler wins), but what struck me as I was reading the KSR work is how much it looked like a novelisation of a game of Civilization. This got me thinking about why there wasn't already a novelisation of Civilization, or many other popular computer games.

The Years of Rice And Salt is a fine book, with KSR indulging his own fascination with Sufi mysticism that was present in his famous Mars series amongst solidly researched historical speculation - but the end result still looks like the plot was devised by KSR himself playing Sid Meier's masterpiece. Here the Mongol Explorer moves into new territories, removing the fog of war. There the Chinese Musketeers ride their Galleon and encounter Aztec Warriors. A group of Settlers found a town on the Spanish coast, after discovering ancient ruins, only to be disbanded after barbarians plunder them. Further on, Persian scientists research Theory of Gravity and build the Newton's College wonder. And so on, and so on.

This demonstrates that it is not hard to write a novelisation of a computer game: indeed, one might think that many games lend themselves very easily to conversion to book form. Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri already has two novelisations. There are already many examples of books that have become series in their own right after being adapted from top-selling games: the Doom series by Daffyd Ab Hugh et al extends to four books (1, 2, 3, 4); the Resident Evil series by S. D. Perry has been stretched out to six books after the movie came out. Blizzard seems to like the idea, with novelisations of WarCraft, StarCraft and Diablo. 3DO are trying out a Might & Magic tie-in, with #1 appearing last year to mixed reviews. There was a Baldur's Gate II book and a projected NWN book, although these use authors who write other Forgotten Realms D&D novels. There were also two Ultima novels back in the day.

While this list is not complete, it does show the type of games which are being licensed to produce novels. First, it has to be a relatively successful title, of course. Second, it helps a lot if there is an existing literary genre in which the title can be pigeonholed: for example, grounding in the Tolkien/D&D genre seems to be important to profit-wary publishers, as TSR have demonstrated much success with their fantasy tie-ins. In this light, it is slightly strange that there aren't more science fiction games being novelised, given the amazing success of the Star Wars and Star Trek book series. Third, it helps if there is room given in the game's structure for extra source material to be devised by the author, so as to not just make the book the same as the game (despite some whining from hardcore fans of the game).

I can think of many game titles which would make great books. Many adventure/action games, like Deus Ex, have so much dialogue in their cutscenes that it would be a matter of cutting material, not fleshing it out. M.U.L.E. would potentially be another good book, with the wampus hunt being a particular highlight. The Sims would make a fabulous tie-in, as a Mills & Boon-style romance series. Max Payne might be better suited as a graphic novel, although it would be slightly redundant given how the original was a glorified graphic novel in the first place. I'm sure you can suggest many others.

So, what would you like to see novelised? Can you write a couple of paragraphs of prose from a tie-in novel you wish had been written already? Is it a bit pointless to novelise some games, given that the excitement often comes out of you controlling your own storyline, not reading someone else's? What otherwise normal novels read as if they were conceived while playing a game? And vice versa: what games play as if you're a character in a particular novel, even though it may not be acknowledged within the game?
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Home » Topic: Tie-Ins: A Novel Idea

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#1 by jafd
2002-04-14 04:35:17
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
Monty is so happy now.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#2 by Bailey
2002-04-14 04:35:17
Beep beep, motherfucker.

Are you gonna be a bohab, when it's your turn to die?
#3 by Matthew Gallant
2002-04-14 04:37:00
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
I think such tie-ins are a form of reverse warez. The IP holder is unethically copying and selling the same thing to the public twice.

Marketing is a crutch for mediocrity and a handicap to excellence.
#4 by jafd
2002-04-14 04:37:11
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
"From five o'clock at morning, until ten o'clock at night!"


Shop as usual -- and avoid panic buying.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#5 by Bailey
2002-04-14 04:37:34
What's this about warez?

Are you gonna be a bohab, when it's your turn to die?
#6 by jafd
2002-04-14 04:45:00
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
So, what would you like to see novelised?

What, you mean, besides Deus Ex? What, there are other games?

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#7 by jafd
2002-04-14 04:46:13
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
Can you write a couple of paragraphs of prose from a tie-in novel you wish had been written already?

Yes.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#8 by Matthew Gallant
2002-04-14 04:47:05
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
Ah, they already novelized Deus Ex. Four times.

Marketing is a crutch for mediocrity and a handicap to excellence.
#9 by LPMiller
2002-04-14 04:48:00
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
wouldn't reverse warez be more of the pirate uploading software back to the developer?

Will warez for food.
#10 by "Zippertit"
2002-04-14 04:50:44
coming soon zippertit@redwingsloth.com
What a dumb fucking topic. Idiosyncratic bursts of desire to make trick-gum a feasible game topic is dipsh - I mean, mOnty's style. He must live on this pile o' crap to justify a his lackluster intellectual amblyopia in the real world. Nothing he says is of any eternal or lasting value as topic poo-bah: it's raffle time for dumbshits, and mOnty's the only one who's bought tickets.
#11 by Foodbunny
2002-04-14 04:51:41
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
Who asked the Ultimate Warrior to start posting here?

They're cute, they're cuddly and jam shoots out their heads.  I want 'em all!
#12 by LPMiller
2002-04-14 04:53:03
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
you can put up, or you can shut up, but you will never convince me you knew what amblyopia actually was till someone else used that exact same sentence on you.

Will warez for food.
#13 by m0nty
2002-04-14 04:56:51
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
"intellectual amblyopia", that's a good one, did you read it on the OMM forums?
#14 by jafd
2002-04-14 05:00:06
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
Ah, they already novelized Deus Ex. Four times.

Eh... does it really count if the novels came before the game?

Besides, I'm pretty sure there's more than four. There's gotta be at least five, for one thing.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#15 by m0nty
2002-04-14 05:02:29
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Well, if you count the Dead Sea Scrolls.
#16 by jafd
2002-04-14 05:03:56
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
Bah, they're still counting those, last I heard.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#17 by Bailey
2002-04-14 05:22:45
m0nty

"intellectual amblyopia", that's a good one, did you read it on the OMM forums?

Google turned up zero hits for "intellectual amblyopia". However, I'm still going to credit it to Chet.

Are you gonna be a bohab, when it's your turn to die?
#18 by Russ
2002-04-14 05:25:05
All novels are just pong with more words.

Lose weight now! Ask me how.
#19 by doug
2002-04-14 05:30:19
I hope an everquest fan fiction compilation is published.
#20 by jafd
2002-04-14 05:31:21
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
Amblyopic: for those times when "myopic" just isn't hip and edgy enough.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#21 by Leslie Nassar
2002-04-14 05:34:10
http://departmentofinternets.com
I'll amblyopic you!

i like monkeys.  are you a monkey?
#22 by Charles
2002-04-14 05:34:39
www.bluh.org
There are dues ex like books?  Someone list them please =)

I can't read the topic cause it may contain spoilers :(

#23 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:22:50
http://www.johnsenclan.com
I'd rather see the opposite, more games made out of good books.

#24 by m0nty
2002-04-14 06:23:45
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
The only spoilers are for the Kim Stanley Robinson book. It's not particularly surprising: lots of his favourite touchy-feely Sufi mysticism crap, combined with ass-kicking Buddhist demonology, woven into the Civilization-deriven plot. I swear, someone should make a FPS set in the Buddhist hell, the bloodthirsty mass-murdering action there is Matrix-esque.
#25 by m0nty
2002-04-14 06:24:14
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
And the best thing about Buddhism is: unlimited lives!
#26 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:27:08
http://www.johnsenclan.com
There are dues ex like books?  Someone list them please =)


They might mean books like (peruses bookshelf)
The Unseen Hand by Epperson
Rule by Secrecy by Jim Mars
The Illuminatus by Wilson
and the best one yet 70 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time

#27 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:28:38
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Wait an even better link to that book is here

#28 by Foodbunny
2002-04-14 06:28:39
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
There's like a 1,000 Buddhist hells. That would be a lot of levels.

They're cute, they're cuddly and jam shoots out their heads.  I want 'em all!
#29 by m0nty
2002-04-14 06:30:07
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Bailey said on IRC that he was talking about the four Good Books, i.e. by those four Jewish guys a couple of thousand years ago.
#30 by crash
2002-04-14 06:30:30
if i want to read the story, i'll buy the book.

if i want to be the story, i'll play the game.

few--very, very few--games are more interesting to read about than to play.

in fact, i can't think of a single one.

- if you can laugh at it, you can live with it.
- "Hey, how 'bout this: fuck you." -LPMiller
#31 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:30:41
http://www.johnsenclan.com
My Buddhist hell level is any level of Jedi Knight before I get my lightsaber.  Or that crappy swamp level, I'm still bitter about that.

#32 by Charles
2002-04-14 06:32:11
www.bluh.org
I just had to laugh at this when it popped up on this site today...

Doesn't it seem just a bit... ermmm... out of place?

#33 by m0nty
2002-04-14 06:33:37
http://tinfinger.blogspot.com
Nova, that's like the sixth time someone's brought that up. Thread hijack: denied.
#34 by Charles
2002-04-14 06:36:30
www.bluh.org
Fuck!

#35 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:36:52
http://www.johnsenclan.com
Should it be Nuke'Em?

#36 by jjohnsen
2002-04-14 06:37:16
http://www.johnsenclan.com
And I am not trying to participate in a hijack.

#37 by Greg
2002-04-14 06:37:45
Thread hijacks tend to work better if they start a post #4.

Greg

-Swallow it all and be glad, for a shilling I've paid and a shilling's worth I'll be having!
#38 by Matthew Gallant
2002-04-14 06:39:32
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
This is a warez thread, dammit.

Marketing is a crutch for mediocrity and a handicap to excellence.
#39 by HoseWater
2002-04-14 06:46:43
barneyque@hotmail.com
I had the chance to go over the software shelves in two stores recently, and one thing that stood out, in both places, was the outrageous (yeah, being a bit dramatic I know) price of RtCW. If nothing, I am glad none of the newer stuff to come out, has tried to top it yet.  The game must be selling well though since its still priced at such a premium.

I figure at this rate, I am down to about 4 games a year. Where do I hand in my Hardcore card?

So far, the only things on the horizon I can imagine myself buying, is Doom, Age of Mythology, DNF, and probably Unreal2.  Thats about it, and I fully expect to pay top dollar for each since I expect a top shelf game in return (fair is fair).  If people are shopping like I am, the small developers with unknown brands are in for a real kick in the ass.  Maybe Scott is right.

1968-2002 Robert 'HoseWater" Lloyd
#40 by Charles
2002-04-14 07:03:57
www.bluh.org
I don't think it has to do with unknown brands, so much as unoriginal games.  If people make quality games, they'll sell.  Of course, problem lately is that quality games seem to be few and far between.

#41 by Greg
2002-04-14 07:04:32
Matt, can books about games be warezed?

Greg

-Swallow it all and be glad, for a shilling I've paid and a shilling's worth I'll be having!
#42 by Charles
2002-04-14 07:06:15
www.bluh.org
Photocopying!

#43 by Greg
2002-04-14 07:07:57
HoseWater:

Yeah, I've seen that RtCW (at least here in the US) has been ticketed $54.99. Most PC games don't break $50, unless they are collector editions. Many recent games can even be found for $40 and not on sale. Best Buy tends to put new games on sale a week or so after release, so you can find a good deal if you wait. I am also concerned that EB and Gamestop have Warcraft 3 preorders ticketed at $60 for the regular version (the collectors is even more!).

Greg

-Swallow it all and be glad, for a shilling I've paid and a shilling's worth I'll be having!
#44 by HoseWater
2002-04-14 07:10:40
barneyque@hotmail.com
I am not sure how to respond to that given that the only games I have on my list, are sequels, and therefore, not terribly original.

I forgot to mention, that any followup to Deus Ex is also on my list, but again...it's not likely to be original.

It could just be me though, for whatever reason, I am getting price sensitive to games. In the past, I thought nothing of going to the store and grabing 3 or four at a time, but wow, that would be horribly expensive to do now.

1968-2002 Robert 'HoseWater" Lloyd
#45 by HiredGoons
2002-04-14 07:12:31
George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice might make for a good MMOG.  It's a good yarn, and he has created a large amount of background material.

Of course, like a lot of games and MMOGs, it comes down to the execution.  

If the game devs don't learn anything from AC, EQ and UO, then it doesn't matter how cool the story is.
#46 by BobJustBob
2002-04-14 07:14:20
I'm buying Morrowind and GTA3, and that's it. Besides those, I'm not buying any new games until I learn how to play Falcon 4.
#47 by Caryn
2002-04-14 07:26:19
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
So, what would you like to see novelised? Can you write a couple of paragraphs of prose from a tie-in novel you wish had been written already?


I'll go you one better: I've got 6000+ words of something I started working on (and got to around 10K words so far before I put it away a while back) based in Anarchy Online. Go on, laugh, it's okay -- I was suffering from a severe case of writer's block and had this idea for a story set in that world, and I thought it was a good place to goof off in.

I present to you, Untitled!

I'm sure most of it reads like bad fan fiction, so I look forward to your mockery if you read it! IF...YOU...DAAAARE...

(Seriously, you can laugh and tell me you think it's bad if you really think so. :)

"It's not stupid -- it's advanced!"
#48 by Caryn
2002-04-14 07:28:28
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Dammit, the cut-n-paste from Word to my HTML editor dropped some punctuation...you may find weird errors there. I think I'll try and fix it before anyone reads it...

"It's not stupid -- it's advanced!"
#49 by jafd
2002-04-14 07:37:21
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1000033180
If people make quality games, they'll sell.

Nova, when the crack pipe gets hot, that means PUT IT DOWN.


Caryn, could you maybe paste in little forum-sized bits of the work into this thread at (non-) apropos times? That could end up making for some awfully special comic strip panel continuity... thanks for sharing.

You just don't like being told what to do. Admit it.
#50 by LPMiller
2002-04-14 07:44:37
lpmiller@gotapex.com http://www.gotapex.com
George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice a good MMOG?

Only if don't mind a ton of people dying every day with no warning. Great books, damn hard on the people in 'em.

Will warez for food.
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