Jun 17

2019

Author Interview: Fay Ikin, “Asteroid Run: No Questions Asked”

Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)

Captain! You have limited resources, a desperate crew, strange cargo and a company man is aboard to spy on you. Will you deliver your secret cargo to the Asteroid Belt on time? You and your crew will get rich or die trying! Cargo runs between Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belt are commonplace, but deadly. You’re the captain of a merchant vessel, but this time, your contract has a twist: don’t open the cargo, don’t get in the way of its handler, and don’t ask questions. Deliver to Vesta Station. Asteroid Run: No Questions Asked is a 325,000-word interactive science-fiction novel by Fay Ikin. I sat down with Fay to talk about her first time writing IF, and the challenges thereof.

Asteroid Run is your first foray into interactive fiction, but you’re a fiction writer otherwise?

Despite being a scientist, I’ve always loved creative writing too. I’ve completed several novels–I’d love to get them out into the wider world one day–and I co-wrote mods for for the videogame Baldur’s Gate II with my now-wife (the author of Blood Money). When Hannah started writing her game, seeing behind the scenes of writing interactive fiction was just too tempting, so I had to join her!

What were some of the bigger challenges of writing the game?

From a personal perspective, it’s the challenge of balancing writing this huge, complex game with real life! We have a young child at home, and I also work full-time (as a teacher, and then in education management) so getting enough brainpower to be both creative enough to write, and alert enough to code properly, has sometimes been tough. I’ve also discovered I’m a little too ambitious for my own good: I’ve had to be ever-vigilant about branching too wide or too early, as when the game got too unwieldy it was tricky to pull things back together.

Have you read a fair amount of IF? What games did you enjoy or draw from in writing Asteroid Run?

The first IF I ever read was Choice of Romance back in 2013, and I’ve been a fan of CoG ever since. I actually find that if I’m in the middle of a project, reading fiction (interactive or otherwise) in similar genres gives me a little too much awe and interference, so there are a bunch of sci-fi CoG games that I am champing at the bit to play now Asteroid Run is finished: Rent-a-Vice, I, Cyborg and the Martian Job, here I come!

Outside of COG games, one of my biggest inspirations was actually Failbetter Games’ Sunless Sea. The intimidating emptiness around your ship, the feelings of isolation pushing you to keep your crew close: delicious! I asked myself, “This game, but in space? Let’s run with that.” And yes, I’ve greatly been enjoying Sunless Skies too!

Are you a fan of hard sci-fi? What other genres interest you?

I’ve been a sci-fi nut ever since I sat in front of the TV watching Star Trek: Voyager as a kid! Hard sci-fi has actually been one subgenre it’s taken me longer to get into: books devoted more to the ships than the people is less my thing. I prefer sci-fi that spends time with its characters and setting, and uses technology as the vehicle for plot and characterization, so for me: Star Trek, Farscape, Killjoys, Firefly. I’d be remiss not to mention Asteroid Run‘s biggest inspiration, The Expanse.

I love full-on space operas, and cyberpunk too. Outside of sci-fi, I do enjoy fantasy and urban fantasy, especially in tabletop and computer RPGs! Anyone else hyped for VtM: Bloodlines 2?

Do you have a favorite NPC that you liked writing best?

Ooh, I enjoy so many of them. I particularly liked writing characters where their drives and goals can clash with the MC’s: the sleazy suit, Victor Palladino, has to be one of my favorites. He’s just such a bad dude, but a bit of a silver fox too. I have to say, my favorite moments to write were scenes showcasing your crew’s interpersonal relationships: there’s an option for everyone to give each other holiday presents, and thinking about who would give each other what was such a blast. Found families are the best!

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