Fantasy writers collaborating with video game studios seems to be on the rise, and just ask Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, who teamed up with From Software on Elden Ring. but the writer Brandon Sanderson is doing things differently in regards to his association with Unknown Worlds in the upcoming Moonbreaker.
In an interview with IGN, we asked Sanderson, author of Mistborn and the Cosmere fictional universe, how he got involved with the creators of Subnautica in the digital miniatures gameand said that his collaboration with the team was broader than one might think.
According to Sandersson, Unknown Worlds approached him with the offer to help build an “optimistic” science-fantasy world. for a game that they had mechanically prototyped entirely with art from the studio’s previous games. Sanderson responded with two proposals, both developed by himself separately, but which did not seem suitable for his Cosmere universe. Unknown Worlds chose the more ambitious of the two proposals, Moonbreaker, and thus a new collaboration was born.
From there, Sanderson and Unknown Worlds communicated weekly, growing the Moonbreaker universe together and forming a true “hand-in-hand” partnership. Sanderson created things like the world lore and its initial cast of 10 captains along with the development of the game, and the two halves influenced each other.
“The story has to fit the gameplay instead of the gameplay fitting the story.”
“I have read about what George [R.R. Martin] he did in Elden Ring and it was something like if he sent something to the void and in the end he returned a gameSanderson jokes.That was not the case here. It was a weekly interaction, and the things that Charlie [Cleveland] was changing in the game they were changing what I was building and the story and the needs of the game.”
“this was my mantra“, dice Sanderson. “As a gamer and story lover, I told Charlie from the beginning that the gameplay has to come before the story. The story has to fit the gameplay instead of the gameplay fitting the story“.
“No writer says thatjokes Charlie Cleveland of Unknown Worlds, game director on Moonbreaker.
Sanderson adds that he thinks history is still very important, but “a game with a horrible story but fantastic gameplay still a great game“, while “a game that has a fantastic story but miserable gameplay is going to be a terrible game“.
This partnership not only paves the way for the launch of Moonbreaker. According to Cleveland, “We have a long-range history. We try to make a game that lasts a decade or more. To do this, we have to plant many seeds and then harvest them. So we have to have a lot of characters, a lot of lines of action, a lot of overlap between them.“.
Cleveland y Sanderson compared the story structure of Moonbreaker to the Canterbury Tales, a huge tome of stories and points of view that intersect from the perspective of some 30 pilgrims. In this case it’s the captains of Moonbreaker, with their individual stories told through audio podcast episodes before a larger plot is introduced. Sanderson says it could be a year before that arc is hinted at, but he already has an ending planned for later.
Considering the collaboration Moonbreaker is shaping up to be an ambitious game. If you want to know more about the turn-based digital miniatures game of Unknown Worlds, you can check out our preview after playing it at Gamescom, as well as our full interview with Sanderson and Cleveland that will be published later this week.