With Elden Ring finally out in the wild, eager players are undoubtedly combing every inch of FromSoftware’s new fantasy world to find the influences of writer George R. R. Martin. Martin, the author of the Game of Thrones series, was famously brought onto Elden Ring to write the backstory for the in-game universe.
But in a new interview with New Yorker, game director Hidetaka Miyazaki revealed that he placed a few key restrictions on what Martin could do.
According to Miyazaki, Martin primarily wrote snippets of text about the world’s history, its characters, and mythology, including the destruction of the Elden Ring and the subsequent scattering of shards. While this was something we learned previously, Miyazaki further clarified why this was the case.
“In our games, the story must always serve the player experience,” Miyazaki said. “If [Martin] had written the game’s story, I would have worried that we might have to drift from that. I wanted him to be able to write freely and not to feel restrained by some obscure mechanic that might have to change in development.”
It’s an approach that, in retrospect, makes sense for the kinds of stories Miyazaki and FromSoftware tell. Dark Souls and its offshoots are rich with lore, but it’s often presented through item descriptions or heavily implied, left to spark the imagination of lore-hungry fans. FromSoftware also tends to depict worlds well after some great calamity has occurred, encouraging players to discover what became of the major characters, for fates better or (usually) worse.
“That power of imagination is important to me,” he said. “Offering room for user interpretation creates a sense of communication with the audience—and, of course, communication between users in the community. This is something that I enjoy seeing unfold with our games, and that has continued to influence my work.”
Martin and Miyazaki were similarly influenced by the friendship the pair struck up prior to Martin working on Elden Ring. Miyazaki considers himself a fan of Martin’s work, including his early science fiction writing, and despite a considerable age gap between the two, both were able to bond as conversations progressed and the two met several times, even in Martin’s hometown.
The admiration goes both ways as Miyazaki says he was surprised to learn that Martin was a fan of the Dark Souls games, though that might have been the influence of one of Martin’s staff members.
Of course, if you’ve played enough Elden Ring, you’ve probably come to realize exactly what Miyazaki has done with Martin’s work. Miyazaki himself said earlier this year that he thinks Martin may be “shocked” by what he’s done to the characters he created.
(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/wretch for IGN.