How BattleKasters came to life
As she has mentioned previously, Alane Adams’ son is one of the biggest inspirations for the Orkney universe. After finishing the books she wrote for him, Adams noticed that her son, now 15-years-old, constantly walks around playing games on his phone all day. When she started looking at the meta data driving traffic to her book and her site, something clicked that made her realize a digital mobile experience would be a great way to draw people to her story and this new world she has created.
“As I was developing the series, this idea for developing the game kind of came out of that and I said, ‘Why not?'” Adams recalls. The more she thought about it, the more she wanted to develop a mobile game where kids could learn about the world, get curious about the characters, engage in the story, and then want to read the book. She’s tried coming at kids from so many angles to get them to read, but when they hear there’s a game for this series and they see the artwork for it, they’re into it. “My goal,” she says, “is to get them to read the book cover to cover, and then the next book and the next book.” The game is a way of enticing people who don’t normally enjoy reading to pick up the book.
Adams was driven to get going on the idea of a mobile game from the start. “I met with a lot of game designers and I settled on Artifact because of their unique group of talent,” she says. She can’t praise Artifact enough for their vision and understanding of her idea. Artifact’s most notable team member is Brent Friedman, who is known for his work on Star Wars: The Clone Wars and the Halo 4 story, as well as his affinity for storytelling and world-building.
Brent and his team have gone through the book and picked out the elements that gave the biggest picture of the story as well as the most interesting images. Alane deferred to their opinions and trusted them to bring the world to life. “So far, I haven’t been disappointed in anything,” she says happily. In fact, their rendering of the Yggdrasil tree especially made her say, “I want that!”
How the game will draw people to the book
While BattleKasters does make some sense if you haven’t read the book, you won’t get the full experience without doing so. In fact, you can answer some questions without reading The Red Sun, but others are harder to do so unless you constantly guess.
The beauty of the game, though, is that the questions are provocative enough that they drive people to want to pick up the book. For instance, they could get a question like, “What kind of creature is this?” and, though they won’t know the answer, the drawings of the creature are so interesting it will drive the player to want to find out more. Putting in wisdom questions like that really help get people interested in the full story.
Another way the game attempts to draw players to the book is by using actual images and characters from the story. Adams explains, “The cards in the game introduce the characters so you kind of know them a little bit and get familiar with them… and it helps build the imagination.” It’s that imagination and mystique that drives people to want more and hook them.
— BattleKasters (@BattleKasters) April 26, 2015
Did the game in any way effect the way that Adams was writing the book?
Though it was created after the first draft of The Red Sun, BattleKasters did have a bit of an impact on Alane Adams’ writing. As she puts it, “The game development simply prompted a bigger look at the book.” After finishing the first draft and spending some time thinking about the game’s creation, she went back and added more perspectives, more points of view, and more scenes so that all of the characters could really come to life in the story. Both the game and Brent Friedman helped her to open up the world and develop each of the characters, not just the main character.
“The game helped me expand the point of view,” Adams says. “It didn’t change it; it just opened it up and made it more diverse so that the readers could engage with more characters.” When you’re in the point of view of one character, you don’t really see a lot of what’s going on with the characters around them. You only see what that one character sees and experiences. Multiple points of view allow the story to breathe a lot more life into other characters that play larger roles in books two and three.
So what’s next?
“As soon as I finished [the first book],” Adams recalls, “you can guess the first thing my son said to me: ‘When are you going to write the next one?'” Her son liked it so much that he read it in just three days! So, she sat down and finished the other two books in the trilogy. After that, she wasn’t planning on writing any more for the series. But, after a year, the urge started to return. Currently, she has the next three books plotted out.
As for the upcoming trilogy, Alane quips, “If I had my way I’d just print them all out right now!” Alas, she (and the rest of us) have to wait a year between each book. Alane and her publisher are editing the second book right now and are eagerly awaiting The Red Sun to come out.