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- Dark Times Issue 2 Now Available
Michael J. Ward Interview
The world moves in very mysterious ways so when my friend told me about DestinyQuest all he had to say to me was “It’s a game book, like Lone Wolf” funny as soon as I found out I was in Waterstones reading a poster that said the author, Michael J. Ward was doing a signing! I didn’t think twice when it came to letting my friend know and off we went. We walk in and Waterstones has had a change around, my friend thinks he’s cancelled and I think we’re early but we were wrong they put the poor bloke on the top floor.
Meeting Michael for the first time was very cool, I found him to be more than pleasant, he was interested in people’s insights into all forms of gaming and he was keen on meeting the people who wanted to buy his book. To me that is a very unique quality in a writer which is very admirable. I asked him if he was interested in an interview for UK Role Players the look of astonishment he gave me gave me mixed messages until he spouted out “YES” and since then I’ve been chatting to him and from our rambling formed what I think to be not only my first interview but one that I am actually proud of.
Q: What was the initial idea for your book when you set out to write it?
A: I wanted a book that gave me loot. Lots and lots of loot! A book where I could get that same buzz as playing a computer RPG or MMORPG, such as World of Warcraft. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I used to spend a ridiculous number of hours playing these types of games – Diablo, Dungeon Siege, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars… I’m loot obsessive (did I mention loot before?) and that is essentially what drives these types of game – the sense of achievement, of ‘levelling up’ and showing off your ill-gotten gains.
So, during my endless hours of mouse-clicking, I got to wondering if there was a way you could capture that ‘levelling up’ experience in a book. As a teenager I had played a number of gamebooks – the Fighting Fantasy books by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone being stand-out examples. I was surprised that they were still going strong, but the writing and game format hadn’t really moved with the times – it was still entrenched in the eighties.
I can’t honestly say that I sat down with the intention of writing a gamebook, but as I worked through my ideas for how a computer RPG could be translated into a book, it quickly became apparent that the ‘Choose your own…’ format was the way to go. On top of that, I wanted to give the reader/player more of a free-roaming experience – a sense that they are part of a world. From there, I came up with the map and quest system, where the reader selects locations from the maps and then goes off into the book to experience the different quests, defeat monsters and yes… you guessed it, win loot. Lots and lots of loot. I knew that, for this book to work and to appeal to gamers, character customisation would be the key to its success.