Whenever I’m lying in bed at night, it is ritual for me to pick up this wad of paper and turn my eyes to the funny marking upon its surface. This relic of a bygone age is known as a “book”.
I jest of course. Books are about as immortal as the characters in which they contain.As british icon Stephen Fry eloquently put it: “Books are no more threatened by Kindle than stairs by elevators.” So there you have it. Books are here to stay. Sorry, Green Peace.
Now, seeing as this is a video game based site, I should probably get to the point: I love books, and more than often I’ll have read one and picture it’s setting in a video game world. Seeing how the world and narrative would fit in with unique mechanics and what not. So here are a few books (or series of) I would love to see either adaptations of, or based upon.
The Leviathan series, by Scott Westerfeld.
This series’ unique take on the steampunk style is absorbing and enthralling in a way I’ve yet to see accomplished by many. The series takes place in an alternative reality to ours, and is set during the events of WW1, just after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand.
The way in which is separated from other generic steam punk novels is that it includes genetic fabrication. Each side of the war is reflected by a fictitious counter part, with their own style of war-faring. The Central powers (Germany, Austria, etc.) and their industrious ways are reflected in the Clankers, piloting mighty mechs and walkers to combat the filthy Darwinists (Britain, France & Russia, to you and me) and their biologically engineered monsters, which are trained and piloted much like the machines of the Clankers.
This fierce tension and opposition between the two sides can be portrayed in many ways, but it makes such a great setting for a ton of game styles. When I first though about it, I considered a MOBA. Epic battle taking place in famous locations around the world, with each side having its advantages and weaknesses, but the usage of behemoth (literally) vehicles would be too much, so perhaps an RTS would be more befitting of a typical war scene, but these are a penny a dozen, and it would be hard to innovate upon.
A first person shooter. Think Halo-come-Natural Selection. Great shooting combat set over medium to large maps, with vehicular combat as as much of a focal point as the typical shooter style. While the clankers would use the heavier mechs with turrets and cannons, the Darwinists can use the nasty little beasties’ ability to spray acid, fly, swarm or even self-destruct. I believe it would be an even, balanced fight. I, for one, would love to see this.
Anything by Charles Dickens
Now, hear me out on this one. I know Dickens’ work is renowned for being so hard to read, aspiring English teachers have quit their careers simply due to ol’ Dicky’s sentence length. That wasn’t a metaphor, by the way. One paragraph can last most of a page in a typical Dickensian book.
Now, I’m not a huge fan of old school Point-and-Click games, but with the advent of TellTale’s hugely successful take on famed series, The Walking Dead&Game of Thrones, all originally books, but launched into the stratosphere by television.
Charlie’s books are rife with betrayal, love, and flat out murder, all of which make for a decent plot line, especially when episodic gaming is so neatly divided into chapters, and even “Books” in the case of Hard Times.
Telltale could tell tales of a bygone age that might intrigue more than a few. Maybe even a modern re-imagining of the classics to make the stories more intriguing to those put off by the warning sign-like words “Charles Dickens” or “William Shakespeare”.
I’d be game. Hah, see what I did ther- oh whatever, moving on.
The Hungry Cities Chronicles (Mortal Engines, Predators Gold, Infernal Devices & A Darkling Plane), By Phillip Reeve.
These books all get a mention as they are my favourite series of books, with Mortal Engines being my favourite book of all time.
Another Steam Punk genre, I’m afraid, but I have much bigger plans for this expansive series, which has spawned two prequel books by Reeve, and talks of a movie with director Peter Jackson, of Lord of the Rings fame. Need I say any more?
The series delves heavily into the demise of the world we know today, and the desolate aftermath, where cities are mounted upon wheels, as bags, rafts, or any other means of transport, and proceed to feast upon one another, for the sake of Municipal Darwinism.
The world has a deep and fleshed out lore, with many locations and cities to explore. an MMORPG would fit sweetly into this world, as you propel yourself into this world, you can decide to be a merchant, a mercenary, perhaps a filthy mossie living on the bare earth, renouncing the ways of the city folk.
Transport would be mandatory, unless you dwelled upon a single city, you would need to make your way from place to place, and while ground transport is very rare, this would allow for lots of customisation, as told in the books, so long as your ship is lighter than air, you can have any engines, chassis, gas cells, weapons or wings you want. Perhaps you’d sacrifice heavy armour plating to be even faster. Either way, you’d better be ready for a scuffle or two when flying the bird roads.
Another interesting aspect of transport in this hypothetical game is that cities would always be on the move. Want to get to London to sell a nifty piece of old-tech you found in some pre-war era ruins? You’re gonna either need a fancy piece of tracking hardware, or hoof it over to the nearest trading cluster to find info on what direction London’s headed in.
Time specific events would bring together towns that would otherwise blast/eat each other, creating unique, time constrained quests & events that MMO-ers are so obsessed with.
While the map would have to be based loosely on our own earth, the planet has been so torn apart and rebuilt, it would ne’er be recognisable. but being able to see the remnants of old civilisations and how famous cities of the world have been mechanised would truly put any concept artists’s skill to the test.
All in all, I have thought this would be a fantastic idea ever since I first read the series, many yeas ago. Alas, there are MMOs abound out there, and I doubt anyone is asking for a new one any time soon, besides the fact that a game this big would need a lot of development time, and that means a lot of money. I feel the fan base is there though. Not only in the general Steam Punk Community, but in the book series as well.
So there you have it. Books I’d love to see as games. The simple concept of any of the aforementioned ideas makes my spine tingle; Games of Books are not nearly common enough in the industry, but can be both hugely successful and lucrative, as CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher Series clearly shows.