Steve K Peacock Presents: Steve K Peacock’s Murderthon (A Game by Steve K Peacock)
Tom Clancy is a weird fellow.
For an author, the guy doesn’t actually do very much writing, having built up one hell of a reputation for his military detail and whatnot from back when he actually did write. Nowadays he makes money of selling his name to Ubisoft, and the crazy thing is that it works very well indeed.
From how I understand it, Clancy set up Red Storm entertainment all those years ago with the intention of having a studio make video games based on his intellectual properties. Ultimately they were bought by Ubisoft, naturally, but the idea intrigues me. It’s like Lucasarts in a way, creator-owned game studios that exist to further expand (or exploit) the property into another medium.
Clancy’s name is currently slapped all over things that have very little to do with his books, outside of Rainbow Six at least. I’m thinking of Splinter Cell specifically here. Any input Clancy had on the thing has long since petered out, yet the games still bear his name. He’s turned his name into a property which, while I worry about the precedent that might help to set/further, is very clever.
What a really wonder, though, is why more authors haven’t done this.
There have been games based on books, that much is true, but they rarely seem to live up to the source material. Maybe it’s because there’s not as much money in adapting a book as there is a film or RPG, or maybe the rights holders just make poor choices, give up creative control for the cash.
I suppose establishing a developer just to focus on your works would be damned expensive, but it would hardly be impossible. There are any number of books that would make interesting games, but never seem to get the chance until they are made into films, at which point they fall prey to the cancer of game-of-film.
One day, when I’m published and hopefully read, I think I’d like to follow in Clancy’s footsteps. Not the name selling, but certainly the studio founding. I’ve been toying with the idea of making games out of my writing, especially the Craneverse which feels perfect for an RPG of some sort, but I lack the technical skills and always will. It’s not that I’m unable to learn coding and all that business, but I’m unable to want to, which is as near as dammit. If I had the will then, eventually, I’d probably get a workable grasp of what I needed, but I just don’t want to. I want to create worlds, not code them.
This is a problem I suppose, an artistic temper tantrum along the lines of “why can’t the universe make everything I want to do just bloody well easy?!”. I can’t decide if I’m being lazy, childish or ration and prudent, but I’m pretty sure that making my own game is out. I need a team to do all the things I can’t do or won’t learn, artists especially. At the end of the day, of course, do it well and you not only rake in the cash from your established audience but expand it.
The Witcher is a fantastic example of that. One of the rare examples of books being turns into games successfully (along with STALKER for instance) and it brought an unknown book to the English-reading world. A good author should be able to create a universe that works externally to the characters, somewhere you can see the potential for other stories to form.
When I come to writing a story, I build the world first and then place the characters inside it. For Diplomancer that was very easy, our world skewed a little, but that was harder for the Craneverse because I was creating something new and, hopefully, special. I did that with a series of short stories, with random characters and random locales, just to see if I could get a shape for the world in my head.
And now I have, and it becomes clear to me that its a world rife with opportunity for tangential stories. Obviously, these can be easily explored in books, but why confine them to one medium? Why not allow fans a chance to experience the world from a different perspective? There’s no real compelling reason outside of the potential costs, but I would argue that the potential benefits outweigh the threats.
So yes, Clancy is a weird man. He’s crossed a boundary, thrusting his universe to a new audience with a single movement. It’s not hard to see why he was successful with this, or even why it would occur to him to do such a thing, but it is hard to see why he is the only one.
One day, he won’t be. One day, luck permitting, I’ll be in a position to do the same thing, and then you’ll see “Steve K Peacock’s Murderthon” on the shelves, meaningfully connected to the “Olympics of Violence” book series, not just a heartless tie-in.
Or perhaps this is all the fevered imagining of a wannabe, maybe I’m over-simplifying something that’s ludicrously difficult and this argument betrays my naiveté. I don’t know, but if I ever get the chance to try, I think I’ll give it a shot.
Steve Peacock keeps a blog of his writing for those of you who have no earthly idea what this ‘Craneverse’ business is and yet want to know. You won’t find out much about Diplomancer there, however. Still, he would appreciate it if you had a look anyway.
3 thoughts on “Steve K Peacock Presents: Steve K Peacock’s Murderthon (A Game by Steve K Peacock)”
I find it quite bizare really that the Clancy name is attached to so many games nowadays, Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, HAWX, Ghost Recon, but yet so many of his original novels haven’t seen any game version, a crying shame I think, I am sure some of them could be turned into good action games or adventure games.
Then there are so many other writers whose books you read and you think ‘that should be a game!’ but it never happens. Clancy was lucky enough to get his studio set up then purchased by Ubi. STALKER did it, The Witcher did it and Metro 2033 did it too without setting up a studio dedicated to creating games based on the author’s work, there is no reason why developers/publishers don’t take a punt on taking more books into the game world.
I would certainly be interested in seeing a game based on your Craneverse :D
A particular pity in that the strength (if any) of Clancy’s work is not in the story, but in the bangbanggadgetry – something a game benefits more from than a book.
Why are Tom Clancy’s works so suited to being games? They make better games than they did books.
If only there was some depth to the latter-day TC games. I miss Rainbow Six. I miss meticulously planning every step of my infiltration. SO much more could be done with that today.
That is something odd about Tom Clancy stuff actually. I’ve tried to read his books, and I just can’t find any enjoyment in them at all; gun porn, and over abundance of detail on military procedures, boring characters and generic villains.
I wonder if the reason that the games work better is that they just take the basic premises of the books and let developers actually make the games, take all the shootybangs and make them the focus. That’s certainly where they’ve gone with Splinter Cell, for instance.
I also miss the old Rainbow Six actually, back when they were an international version of a SWAT team, and you could plan out the entire level before you began. Nowadays its just another first person shooter with a cheesy plot and a cover system. It used to be unique, if somewhat difficult.