BOMBAD RADIO:You've been in a wide variety of cutting-edge and defining projects within Star Wars, from the Darth Bane series to TOR and KOTOR. There is certainly a massive amount that we'd love to know about those, but I'm more curious about something else - is there anything else as monumental and impacting in the pipeline for yourself over the coming years?
DREW KARPYSHYN:Right now I'm working on my own original fantasy trilogy, Children of Fire. The first book will be coming out in 2014 (or maybe a bit earlier if things go well). Obviously my own series isn't going to be as big as Star Wars or Mass Effect right off the bat, but I'm hoping it can become something special.
BOMBAD RADIO:Which is better? Mass Effect or Star Wars?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I don't think one is inherently "better" than the other. Mass Effect focuses more on the science and technology, and the morality is a bit more ambiguous. Star Wars has elements of high fantasy (lightsaber battles, for example) and the themes of good vs evil are much more clearer defined. So it really depends what you're in the mood for.
BOMBAD RADIO:What went through your mind when you learned that after writing about a character who was influenced by Revan's Sith legacy you got to write about Revan's Jedi legacy?
DREW KARPYSHYN:As the lead writer on KOTOR, I was already pretty familiar with the Revan character, so it was fun to revisit him and push him in another direction.
BOMBAD RADIO:How does it feel to be a part of at least four founding stones for a lot of gamers, future video game designers and novelists?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I was very lucky to work at BioWare on a number of amazing games, and it's a great feeling to know my name will always be associated with them. I'm honored to be part of such a great video game legacy, but it's important not to get complacent and think that just because you did good things in the past that your next project is automatically going to be great. Our success came from hard work, and that's still a key ingredient if you want something to be great.
BOMBAD RADIO:Might you have any tips for an aspiring graphic artists and writers in the fantasy and fiction genre?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I touch on this in the FAQ page of my website at www.drewkarpyshyn.com, but the advice is pretty basic. Spend a lot of time learning and perfecting your craft, and be patient - it takes many, many years to get good enough for people to start noticing your work. It takes many more years before you get your "big break". For writers, I always recommend they check out the website www.ralan.com - it's a great resource for anyone interested in fantasy, sci-fi and horror to break into the market.
BOMBAD RADIO:Tell us about your writing process, from the inception of an idea to submitting your final draft. Do you outline? Research? Have a favorite time and place to write and a daily schedule for doing it?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I tend to work from very detailed, chapter by chapter outlines. I'll sit down and write out a 10-20 page outlines with lots of detail, then I'll rework and revise it before sending it to my editors for feedback. Assuming they don't see any major issues, I'll move onto the actual writing. I tend to write at night in my office after my wife has gone to bed - usually only 1 or 2 hours at a time. But if you can write 2 hours a night, 2-3 nights a week you'll be amazed how much you get done over the course of a few months.
BOMBAD RADIO:With Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic who was your favourite character to write dialogue for?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I always liked writing for Mission - something about her innocence and exuberance appealed to me.
BOMBAD RADIO:Jade Empire was a game that didn't get quite the attention of KOTOR but if the opportunity arose for a sequel would you be interested in returning to that setting?
DREW KARPYSHYN:I was part of the Jade Empire team, but I wasn't the lead writer - I was brought in later in the project to smooth out some of the rough edges. As a result, I don't feel the same kind of connection to Jade Empire that I do to Mass Effect or my Star Wars projects.
BOMBAD RADIO:What drove you to go into the game industry, following your time as a loan officer?
DREW KARPYSHYN:It was really just a matter of being in the right place at the right time. I left banking to resume my education, and while I was working on my Masters Degree in English at the University of Alberta I saw an ad in the English Department newsletter from a local game company looking for writers. I figured it would be a small company that might pay me a few hundred dollars for some work, so I answered the ad. Turns out the company was BioWare, and they were already pretty successful - Baldur's Gate had been released the year before. They offered me a full time position, and the idea of getting paid to write stories was too good to pass up.
BOMBAD RADIO:What do you have to feel you need to, take into account in a game, or in a script, when writing dialogue for a game? Is there a particular touch you like to add to it, to make it feel like its your own work? Or is it more straightforward write dialogue that fits what you're working on?
DREW KARPYSHYN:Obviously it depends a lot on the project. With BioWare games, I always tried to keep in mind the player reactions. I wanted players to feel like they could make the choices they wanted to, and I wanted to give them fun and surprising moments - things they'd remember and discuss with their friends. Beyond that, I tried to stay away from any preconceived notions, since those can get in the way of what you need to do.
BOMBAD RADIO:What is the difference in thought process between writing a game that is fairly open such as KOTOR, and a novel such as your TOR or Darth Banenovels?
DREW KARPYSHYN:Games are a collaborative effort - you have huge teams working together. Not just writers, but artists, animators, designers, etc. You need to make sure everybody is on the same page, and everything you do has to fit in with what everyone else is doing. You get some amazing stuff (the Sovereign conversation in ME1 wouldn't be the same without the music, animation, VO effects and cinematics), but you don't always get to do exactly what you wanted. With a novel, I have the final say on everything. It succeeds or fails based solely on my ideas and my talent, which is both satisfying and terrifying at the same time.
More information about Drew Karpyshyn: http://drewkarpyshyn.com/
Or Bombad Radio: www.bombadradio.com