Designer Interview: Joe Carriker

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Hi Joseph, thanks for taking some time away from writing to talk to us about yourself and storytelling in the game we have in development, Game of Thrones Ascent!

Q: What were you doing prior to working with the Game of Thrones Ascent team?

A: Until September or so of last year, I spent the last several years working on the World of Darkness MMO for CCP. Since then, I’d mostly been doing freelance table-top RPG writing and development, including working with Green Ronin on their A Song of Ice and Fire roleplaying line. My development work on that line helped me to sort of prove my chops in terms of demonstrating my understanding of the setting and the like. I’m still working with Green Ronin at the current time, in fact.

Q: For those who don’t know the story, please tell people your background with A Song of Ice and Fire community.

A: It’s been a long road. I think I picked up A Game of Thrones in early 2000 or so. Over the last handful of years, though, I’ve really gotten involved with the community, including the folks over at (where I mostly lurk). I love multi-faceted narratives, with lots of nuances, history relevant to the narrative and secrets to uncover, so A Song of Ice and Fire is pretty much tailor-made for me in that regard, and I love having a fan community that digs the same kind of thing. I admit it, I’m one of those hopeless nerds who postulates endlessly over esoterica like “R+L=J” (Google that one, but beware of spoilers!) and how the dragons and seasons are connected, and…well, you get the idea.

Q: What is your proudest accomplishment in game development? Why?

A: I’ve been working on table-top RPGs since 2000 or so, so I’ve got a dozen or so years worth of work behind me. It’s insanely hard to choose a single element that I’m most proud of. I’m incredibly proud of my writing work on Exalted, Second Edition, for example, because it involved world-building on the scale I love best. I’m very proud of my development work on all of the New World of Darkness titles I’ve worked on, because it’s the dream of someone who does the work I do to work so closely with such an incredible rogue’s gallery of talented writers and mad(wo)men. Most recently, shepherding Green Ronin’s A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying: Game of Thrones Edition core book out of a very rough start and release is a source of pride, and I can’t wait for folks to see what we’ve done with the upcoming Night’s Watch sourcebook.

Q: What can you bring to Game of Thrones Ascent that you think fans will be happy to know you contributed?

A: Verisimilitude, with regards to the setting. I’m one of those obnoxious sticklers when it comes to keeping things genuinely in-line with what the setting is like. I don’t believe in handwaving details of the setting just because it’s harder to implement them properly; I think the payoff of taking that time and effort to do right is ample reward. I take a great deal of pride in my knowledge of Mr. Martin’s amazing setting, and like to feel that I bring an immersion in the narrative to the table as my greatest asset to Game of Thrones Ascent.

Q: What is your fondest memory as a gamer when you were playing something for fun, in the past or present?

A: Well, I’ve been a gamer since I was twelve, so it’s been more than twenty five years now. Inevitably, it’s the camaraderie and the shared storytelling. There is a special bond that grows between people who’ve shared similar stories, be that a bunch of gamers around a table hucking dice, or folks who’ve played a very memorable game and can relate to one another via those shared experiences (for instance, get fans of the Baldur’s Gate series together, and they’ll be quoting Minsc before you know what happens). It’s exactly that kind of shared experience that I’m hoping to help craft here in Game of Thrones Ascent, in fact.

Q: What is it like working with the Game of Thrones Ascent team so far?

A: Everyone has been hands-down amazing. I admit that I can be a little slow when it comes to technical aspects (though once I’ve got them, I’ve got them), so I’ve been blessed with a handful of very patient co-writers and producers. What I love is that everyone on this team is very enthused for this game - you can tell that plenty of folks can’t wait til it’s done so that they can give it a play themselves. I like that kind of enthusiasm for games we make. I think it’s vital.

Q: Is there anything you want the fans to know at this stage of development, that they can look forward to?

A: Just this - getting to be lord of your domain is awesome.