The (Hypothetical) Video Games of A. Lee Martinez

The Bibliomancer asked (via my Tumblr account, which you should visit if you haven’t yet

Are there any of your books that you would like to see as a video game or as the inspiration for one?


Yes.  All of them.

Well, maybe not all of them.

No, wait.  Yes, all of them.  Why limit myself?  I’m sure everything I’ve written could be made into a crackerjack collection of video games.  Not that anyone has come knocking with any proposals yet.  That’s one of the bummers of this business.  Just because I’m a semi-successful novelologist, it doesn’t mean I have any influence in other forms of media.  Or much influence in publishing, if I’m being truly honest.  But it’s fun to imagine, and I think each novel I’ve written could form an interesting basis for a wide variety of games.  But what genre of game, you’re probably asking yourself.  (Or maybe you just have nothing better to do and are killing some time.  I’m cool with that too.)

Gil’s All Fright Diner would probably make an interesting survival horror idea, though with a more casual bent.  Imagine Silent Hill if everyone was a bit jaded about the weird stuff going on, and your character is tough enough to handle most horrors that came your way.  But an out of the way rural town where supernatural mysteries are a way of life could be intriguing, even a subversion of the genre while still sticking to what keeps the genre interesting.  Or so I’d like to believe the book itself manages to do.

In the Company of Ogres I imagine in a Mass Effect style RPG where you create your character and lead a team of ragtag misfits on an adventure.  It might even be interesting to have the player directly control Never Dead Ned, who is a hero deliberately designed to be unexceptional in every regard, while commanding his chosen squad to fight the bad guys.  The beauty of this is that Ned has a built in justification for extra lives, and your squad could range from burly ogre Frank to shapeshifting goblin Seamus or Regina the brutally efficient soldier or Miriam the siren or, well, take your pick.  You’d go on missions, upgrade your team, form bonds, and beat up a lot of bad guys.  And because your Ned, you’d probably get beat up a lot yourself, but that’d be an interesting variation on the badass leader that we so often see.

A Nameless Witch is a tougher nut to crack.  It could make an interesting adventure game, much like Ogres, but perhaps with more mysticism.  Also, the witch would be an interesting lead character because most of her magic is subtle and while she is undoubtedly powerful, she isn’t the kind to wade into battle directly very often.  But that’s why it’d be fun to switch over to her supporting cast for those types of segments.  Seriously, if you’re not jazzed about the idea of slaughtering a horde of bad guys while controlling a demon duck, I find it hard to believe you’re a fan of mine.

The Automatic Detective is an obvious L.A. Noir possibility.  I have never actually played that game, but he notion of investigations with action sequences is pretty much the heart of Detective.  Mack could alternate between talking to suspects, piecing together clues, and punching the hell out of giant robots and slime monsters.  I think we can all agree that’d be awesome.

Too Many Curses I see as a fantasy-themed sim, where the player takes on the role of caretaker of Margle’s cursed castle.  The object of the game would be to keep things in order while maintaining the well-being of the castle’s many cursed residents.  Think of it as a dungeon management game where you don’t have to worry about outside heroes but everything inside the walls.  The Sims for those who would rather manage undead monsters and unruly dragons than ordinary folks.

Monster would be open world.  You’d explore a city, taking calls, tracking down cryptobiological beasties.  Along the way, you’d level up your skills in magic, take on bigger beasties, and take on a larger story.  But in the tradition of sandbox games, if you just wanted to cruise around earning money by capturing yetis and rogue trolls, that’d be cool too.

Divine Misfortune is probably one of the more difficult translations because it is, despite being about gods, one of my more sedate and down-to-earth tales.  I could see it as an MMO, where every player takes on the role of a god and competes for tribute among the mortal population.  You’d start out as a minor deity, completing simple requests, until you eventually grew powerful enough to take on bigger jobs.  The big problem is that it isn’t about the traditional sort of conflict MMOs favor, but that must makes it more intriguing.  A game where your quest chain involves helping a NPC get a promotion or impress a date could actually be pretty cool if done properly.

Chasing the Moon would be intriguing as open world too.  Like Monster, but with an even looser sense of reality.  The cool idea here would be that things would start out relatively normal but as the game progresses, the city environment becomes weirder and weirder.  By the end, while the city could still be recognizable, it could also be alien and bizarre, full of alien creatures and otherworldly locations.  The player could take on the role of a reluctant assistant to West, which would justify going deeper into the weirdness, and it could have all manner of gameplay from puzzles to combat to exploration.  Yeah, that could be amazing.

Emperor Mollusk versus the Sinister Brain is easy.  Straight up pulp style space adventure.  Lots of interesting set pieces.  The ability to customize Emperor in ways that only an exoskeleton cephalopod offers.  Robot battles.  Space battles.  Lost civilizations.  Intergalactic war.  Cool inventions.  Probably one of the easier books to translate into gameplay, so someone should get on that.

Finally, Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest I could imagine as an old school point-and-click adventure.  Think the Monkey Island series, but in a modern day magical world.

None of these are likely to happen anytime soon, but there are possibilities here.  So if someone wants to talk, you know where to find me.

Next time, I’ll talk about what kind of tabletop games my books could take on.

Keelah Se’lai

Fighting the good fight, Writing the good write,


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  1. Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Some of those like Emperor Mollusk might make decent cell phone/Facebook games. It could be the next Angry Birds!

  2. Charmscale
    Posted December 14, 2013 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Another year of programming and I might be able to make a simple A. Lee Martinez game. Or I suppose I could use that RPG maker program… But I haven’t used that in years; I’m out of practice.

  3. Psy-Kosh
    Posted September 19, 2014 at 3:53 am | Permalink

    Hey, as far as In the Company of Ogres… if the player is playing Ned, then perhaps it should sort of work in reverse: ie, a more conscious version of Ned’s _long_ journey to becoming, well, Ned from what he was before.

    Player char starts out extraordinarily powerful, and over time earns the ability to _lessen_ their power/destructiveness/etc. So instead of leveling up, achievement is rewarded by successfully leveling down. And when you become completely insignificant… you win!

    • A. Lee Martinez
      Posted September 19, 2014 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      This is absolutely brilliant. Very, very awesome.

      • Psy-Kosh
        Posted September 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

        Awww. thanks. ^_^

  4. Sam
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    I would play any of these games. I think they would do well as arcade games. Charmscale get to work!

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