Eric told us the story of how they acquired the ASOIAF license. They had been working on an original scifi/fantasy CCG in house, and at first it appeared to be going well, but then they realised nobody in-house was excited about playing it. So they began to look for something to license.
Now, Fantasy Flight is up in Minnesota, and it gets COLD up there. So for fun they started ending their rants with the phrase "Winter is coming", as they were all fans of the books. So then one day they received an email from someone: "You keep using Winter is coming. on your webpage. Does that mean their is an ASOIAF CCG or board game in the works?"
That put the wheels in motion. One day, Eric was called into the office, and asked if he would like to work on an ASOIAF CCG. He just handed them the book he had been reading over his lunch break: A Clash of Kings. :)
George said that he didn't have much input into the CCG, except for the artwork. He's very protective of his characters and wanted the art to be good. He did provide some input into the board game, telling them what kind of games he likes to play (Risk: "I have to play the red pieces. I always win when I play the red pieces"). He said that any kind of licensing inquiry gets turned over to his agents. He has received some inquiries for computer games, but has turned them down because they were all from developers, who wanted the license for free so they could then find a producer/publisher who would pay them the money. George didn't like that, and I don't blame him!
Eric was asked if the CCG would last forever, or if it was expected to be fully complete in a set time frame. He said the plan has always been for it to last forever; because of this, he's had to hold back some of his good stuff for later use. They've received 10,000 card ideas from the card designer section of the website, which he checks nearly every day. They've only used six cards, but have taken ideas from others. He said it's hard for the fans to design a card because they don't know what's being planned for the future.
Each release has a theme. He's got the next two sets planned out, but also has enough card ideas (his slush pile is very,very large) to last until 2010, by his calculations. And that's if George never releases another book, and without them adding another House into the play!
The FFG guys have had a sneak peek into AFfC. Some aspects of AFfC have already made it into the game.
Eric wants George to design three cards for an upcoming release. Someone remarked that George will need to learn how to play first! So George was asking a lot of questions about the mechanics of the game. He found it interesting that a good deck is actually quite small, and not a thousand cards high with every card you own.
I have a few items from the Q&A session. You might know all of this already; I'm not too up-to-date with spoilers and information, but these items caught my ear.
The next Wild Cards book is forthcoming. I'm unsure if it's a re-release or a new one. Wild Cards has also been optioned to the Sci-Fi Channel as a two-hour movie, to potentially become a weekly series.
There was a long discussion about mistakes and inconsistencies. He used the eyes changing color example, and also mentioned receiving an email about horses changing sex. George gets frustrated when there's mistakes in the books--not just because mistakes can be embarrassing, though. He said there are inconsistencies in the books that are NOT mistakes. He believes in the "unreliable narrator" -- you can't always trust what people say because they might be remembering it wrong, or you get two different stories depending on who's doing the telling. He feels that mistakes such as eye color changes can distract from the planned inconsistencies, making them less effective.
Someone asked about the titles of sample chapters that have been posted online in relation to POVs. The person asking the question used the examples [NOTE: Redacted spoiler POV name] and "The Prophet" (Prophetess? -- I missed this chapter). From what I understand, the prologue has grown so much that instead of just one chapter, there are several; instead of being titled with a character name, they have titles such as "The Soiled Knight", etc. It sounds like there are a lot of different viewpoint characters in the prologue. Arianne was specifically mentioned as such a viewpoint.