Infinity Blade: Awakening's Brandon Sanderson Gets Into The Game
New York Times bestselling author brings depth to ChAIR's franchise before the highly anticipated launch of Infinity Blade 2.
Thing is, ChAIR's first entry raised more questions than answers. To help fill in the gaps, the company struck a deal with New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson to pen Infinity Blade: Awakening, an e-book that takes place between the first and second games.
Here, players learn more about the hero, Siris, and his life after defeating the mighty God King.
Sanderson immediately jumped at the opportunity to expand upon this relatively new intellectual property, lending his writing expertise from the popular Mistborn novels to flesh out the story behind Siris, his quest for freedom and destiny.
That said, we had a chance to sit down with Brandon to learn more about the creative process that helped bring Infinity Blade: Awakening to life.
What drew you to the Infinity Blade universe?
I have always wanted to write a more post-apocalyptic story. I've done a lot of straight-up fantasy and science fiction. The Infinity Blade universe happens in an interesting blend between the two, something I hadn't been involved in before. It's a time far removed from our own, when these Deathless creatures, these human beings who have transcended normal human nature, have intentionally regressed the world to a kind of post-apocalyptic, almost fantasy-like state in order to maintain control. It's a interesting world to be part of. It harks back to some classic fiction that I've really enjoyed, like Fred Saberhagen's Swords series or even the Japanese Vampire Hunter D series that dealt with similar themes.
The first game is highly enjoyable, but also vague. How does your online story fill in the gaps? What do fans learn more about?
One of the fun things about this was that the developers of the game had some really great ideas, but the medium of the story that they were doing in the video game just didn't let them get many of those ideas across. I don't want to say this was in a frustrating way, but at the end of the game they drop this bomb on you that, wow, this isn't a fantasy world. This is science fiction. They didn't know how they were going to be able to explain this in the sequel because of the sparse nature of the storytelling in the games. So we sat down and had a lot of fun brainstorming.
I have a little more experience in storytelling and world building than they do, and I was able to actually take the bounds that they had given in the game and rebuild the story and setting from the ground up. We find out much more about the nature of the Deathless. We actually get to see through the eyes of some of these immortal creatures that used to be human. One of the things that I really wanted to explore, and that I was happy to be able to bring to the games, was the nature of the protagonist in the second game. Rather than just having a faceless knight, I helped make him someone the player and the reader can get to know.
Have you beaten the God King? How many times did it take? Be honest, now.
The first time was rough. I'm a gamer, but I'm not a super hardcore gamer. I think it was honestly something like 12 tries. At least it was quite a lot. I'll allow myself to use the excuse that I was intentionally distracting myself by paying attention to every point of dialogue and taking notes on the setting and where things were taking place, in order to write this story.
Do you see a huge shift in how readers consume books, from good old paper to online via Kindle and iPad? How big of a threat does this pose to the print world?
I don't view it as a threat. I think that's the wrong way to look at it. Any time media shifts, there are opportunities, there are new exciting things that open up. There are changes in how distribution happens, certainly. I do see print books selling fewer copies, but at the same time, I see the hardcover collector's edition, which has always been my favorite type of book to have, still being a strong market force. We like to collect.
I think the shift offers far more opportunities than threats. I do hope that with the advent of electronic reading that we'll have more opportunities to tell stories in new ways, to embed things into our stories, to shift how we're looking at things. Though at the core of it all, how a good story is told has not changed in hundreds and hundreds of years, and I don't think it's going to. Compelling characters, interesting narrative. These are things where it doesn't matter what the bells and whistles are. Their heart is the same.
What are some of your favorite video games?
When I was growing up, I always enjoyed the Final Fantasy games because they [Square Enix] felt like they spent more time on story. I would list Final Fantasy 10 as one of my favorites of all time. That said, the last few installments I've found myself getting more and more bored with. I guess maybe you can only do the same thing so many times. I haven't been excited about the most recent ones as much; maybe I played ten and just loved it so much that after that, where does it have to go?
Recently, I liked the game Demon Souls, in part because of the fantastic sense of immersion, the ambiance, the level design, the solitary feel. That is a way you can tell a great story without a lot of dialogue and forcing cut scenes down your throat. Batman: Arkham Asylum was just brilliant, for all of the reasons I stated above. And I've really enjoyed the games that ChAIR has made, Shadow Complex and Infinity Blade of course.