MEET THE DEVELOPER
The power behind the Iron Throne
Discover how the creators of Reigns: Game of Thrones penned a magical tale.
It’s no secret that indie hits Reigns and Reigns: Her Majesty were largely inspired by Game of Thrones. So for developer François Alliot, working on Reigns: Game of Thrones – which blends the games’ be-a-monarch premise with the HBO show’s epic lore – felt “like coming back to the games’ roots.”
“It was a bit surreal,” adds his wife, Tamara, who cowrote the game with him. “We tried not to think about the TV show’s popularity, because we didn’t want to get paralysed.”
In the Reigns adventures, as a monarch you issue benevolent orders or harsh decrees to the parade of subjects who appear before you. The tone of your interactions, and your fate, can change in an instant – just as they do for the show’s protagonists. So keeping Reigns’ sharp card-flipping gameplay and captivating art style made sense.
“We didn’t try to match the show’s production values,” says François Alliot. “We built Reigns: Game of Thrones as an homage to the series, using a very refined story so players can extrapolate the world of Westeros.”
You play as several rulers in the game, including Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. Connecting all of these monarchs required a narrative leap, but the Alliots cleverly embraced an element from the Game of Thrones storyline: Melisandre’s visions.
“In the first Reigns, a curse held you in the loop of rule, die, rule again,” François says. Here, each reign is a vision of the Red Priestess, seen as she peers into the fire to prophesize the next leader of the Seven Kingdoms.
“We know that her visions aren’t always accurate,” he adds. This explains how players can have Jon Snow and other rulers kill, marry or negotiate in canon-breaking ways.
If you play on iPhone X, XS or XR, you’ll be prompted to enable a unique face-tracking feature as you stare into Melisandre’s fires. Characters who trust your motives will lock their gaze directly on you, while characters who are suspicious will look away. Why did the Alliots choose to have the mysterious Melisandre trigger this option? “It’s magical – something that’s never been done before,” François says. “It’s like your phone is starting to look at you.”
That added functionality isn’t the only part of the game François is excited about. He also loves “how the story gets Arya on the throne. I think people will be surprised, in a good way.”
The Alliots started crafting Reigns: Game of Thrones in earnest nine months before its October 2018 release. François wanted to expand Reigns’ gameplay this time around, but with only six people working on the project they had to be realistic.
“This year was tough,” he says. At the end of the workday, he and Tamara often had trouble unwinding.
“Our biggest challenge was trying to balance our home and our work life,” she says. “It was very easy to come home and watch Game of Thrones in the evening.”