When Elden Ring finally came out, eager players no doubt began scouring every inch of FromSoftware’s new fantasy world to find the influence of writer George R.R. Martin, who was brought in to write the backstory for the in-game universe.
But in a new interview with The New Yorker, game director Hidetaka Miyazaki said he placed several key restrictions on what Martin could do.
According to Miyazaki, Martin mostly wrote bits of text about the world’s history, characters, and mythology, including the destruction of the Elden Ring and the subsequent scattering of the shards. Although we learned about this earlier, Miyazaki explained why this is so.
In our games, the story should always serve the player’s experience. If [Мартин] wrote the history of the game, I would be worried that we might have to deviate from that. I wanted him to be able to write freely and not feel constrained by some obscure mechanics that might have to be changed during development.
In retrospect, this approach makes sense for the kind of stories Miyazaki and FromSoftware are telling. The Dark Souls series is rich in lore, but it’s often presented in item descriptions to spark the players’ imaginations, much like he pulled stories from illustrated fantasy books as a child. FromSoftware also tends to depict worlds after some great disaster has taken place, encouraging players to find out what has become of the main characters.
This power of imagination is important to me. Allowing users to interpret creates a sense of communication with the audience and, of course, communication between users in the community. This is what I love to see in our games and it continues to influence my work.
Martin and Miyazaki were also influenced by the friendship they developed before Martin started working on Elden Ring. Miyazaki considers himself a fan of Martin’s work, including his early science fiction writing, and despite the significant age difference between the two, the two were able to bond over the course of the conversation, and met several times, even in Martin’s hometown.
Of course, if you’ve played Elden Ring enough, you’ve probably figured out exactly what Miyazaki did with Martin’s work. Miyazaki himself mentioned earlier this year that he thinks Martin might be “shocked” by what he did to the characters he created, referring to the aftermath of the disaster that caused all creatures and characters in the game to be cursed and corrupted.