Producer Talks Bigpoint's 'Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms' MMO

Game of Thrones Game Still - 2012 H

Jorgen Tharaldsen says the German gaming company is using assets from the HBO series to develop its free, massively multiplayer online RPG, which launches next year.

HBO continues to attract new fans to its televised adaptation of author George R.R. Martin’s bestselling book, A Song of Fire and Ice. With a Game of Thrones console role-playing game (RPG) from Atlus and a Facebook game from Disruptor Beam already out, next up is a free-to-play, browser-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) game from German publisher Bigpoint called Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms. In development in the company’s Norwegian and Russian studios, the 2013 release takes place in Book 1 just before the war of the kings.

“It’s an open scenario,” said Jorgen Tharaldsen, producer of the game, at the Game Developers Conference (GDC 2012) in San Francisco. “We’re making a sandbox player versus player game and you choose to align with one of the three factions to create your avatar and house. The game’s about war and politics.”

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Tharaldsen said the game maker has a very close relationship with HBO and is utilizing assets from the TV series, including digital versions of the armor, weapons and sets.

“We’re using all the sound effects and music from the series,” said Tharaldsen. “There’s a lot of stuff and we’re continuing to add new content as we work with HBO on this project.” 

The RPG allows players to start the game experience from one of three different locations – East, West or South. Players can explore the online world, which features actual locations from the show, and develop specialties. As an example, the two-handed sword, or range, has 20 different skills and 60 abilities. This plays a key role in the game’s real-time combat system, as more advanced players will be able to link together combination moves to succeed on the battlefield.

“Multiplayer is going to be a big part of this game world,” said Tharaldsen. “You can go out in groups and fight together. Siege is going to be an important aspect of attacking forts, castles and other strongholds. There are going to be a lot of social features to the game, including a robust political element. Although you align with one of the three factions, you can shift factions overnight. Instead of disbanding a guild, you can choose to backstab your side. This is very in line with the lore. We foresee that it won’t just be fighting. It will also be a political game between the players.”

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Tharaldsen promises that Game of Thrones: Seven Kingdoms will be the most advanced browser-based MMO ever released. The game, which has been kept under wraps save for some environments and character models, will boast 3D graphics with a full animation system complete with collision detection. The world will offer a dynamic weather system with night and day cycles.

“It’s a huge world built for huge battles,” said Tharaldsen. “We’re pushing the game as far as is possible right now. In some ways we are quite surprised by how far we can push this technology as we’re moving towards the quality of client-based MMOs like World of Warcraft. The only difference is that when you click our link, you can play the game in seconds and it’s free.   

This Game of Thrones allows players to write their own stories, rather than following a script. But the game world will evolve as new elements are introduced into the HBO series.

“When the dragons are unleashed in the show, we’re going to implement them in the game,” said Tharaldsen. “The cool thing about this license is that it’s a living license. The game can evolve as new seasons are released. I think it’s a game that can run successfully for many, many years as we add new elements to the world.”

The game was not shown at the recent Gamescom 2012 show, but Heiko Hubertz, CEO of Bigpoint, said the game was on track for 2013.