Read our blog series titled "Tales from the Dragon's Den" to stay up to date on changes in the game and fun community events.


February's Dragon Lord Spotlight

Welcome to our very first Dragon Lord Spotlight! Each month we'll be featuring a new player or guild who everyone should get to know for their contributions to War Dragons and our community. 

What better way to kick this series off than highlighting our top Diamond League teams who are forever immortalized in our debut novel, War Dragons: All Things Burn.

Congratulations to:







Your teams pulled together and lit up those bases!

To see how these teams were included in our War Dragons lore, you can check out All Things Burn for free on iBooks or download it for Kindle.

Brian Oliu and Michael Rudin, the author and editor behind the novel worked hard to capture the essence and develop the world of War Dragons. If you're curious to hear more about the creation process, check out this interview and highlights from our live stream with them. 

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What were some works that influenced you as you wrote this novel?

Brian: I was very much influenced by fairy tales when I started writing the novel—a lot of the more obscure, & shall I say, interesting ones. A lot of the Norwegian fairy tales are incredibly morbid in their matter-of-factness, which is a feeling that I wanted to capture when talking about Gustav; how he would do these horrible things with no filter, as he believed that he was in the right. There is something terrifying about someone who does evil yet thinks little of it.


How did you decide that you wanted the book to be told from two different viewpoints?

Mike: Early on, we knew that we wanted to provide fans with as rich a look into the backstory of War Dragons as possible, but we also wanted to create rich characters with subtext. How does a child become a killer? Why would a kingdom’s adopted son decide to take it over? The best way of adding subtext and empathy was to show the evolution of these characters from two vantage-points, not one – it gave us a chance to add more detail, different perspectives, and ultimately a bigger world to explore.

Brian: I felt like dichotomy was an important factor when writing the book. Both Ash & Gustav are very similar in their upbringings as well as their backgrounds, yet obviously differ greatly. I knew immediately that I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of Gustav, but he is such a megalomaniac, that a lot of what he said would be untrustworthy. Ash was originally there to balance things out & be like “this is what is truly going on” but as I began to write from her perspective she really came to life in a lot of ways that surprised me.


Tell us a bit about Gustav & your inspiration for writing him.

Brian: Like all good villains, we wanted Gustav to be cruel, but also cool. He isn’t evil just for evil’s sake—that would be boring & it is something that we have seen before. The best villains think that they are constantly in the right & that while their actions might be perceived as dastardly, it is all for the common good. I wanted to capture that in his rise to power—that here is someone with a god-like complex that believes not only that he has a right to power, but that this is what the world wants of him.


How did your background prepare you to write this story?

Mike: Five years ago, I founded Armed Mind, a creative agency rooted in storytelling. We work with franchises across gaming, theatrical, and home entertainment and if there’s one common denominator among every project we do--whether it’s a collector’s edition book or a website or content stream-- it’s that we tell our stories in as immersive a way as possible. Regarding e-books like All Things Burn, we’ve actually been called on to develop the backstories of several properties, and my personal experience writing prequel novels for the last three Call of Duty releases has given our entire team an expertise in developing rich narratives for IPs like War Dragons to play in. It’s a blast getting to work with the best developers in the world—they’ve already done all the heavy lifting in dreaming up the game mechanics and game’s world, and it’s a thrill to come in and work together providing a rich backstory and sometimes even helping rewrite the franchise’s future.

Brian: I have a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing where I focused mainly on writing nonfiction, but took a lot of courses dealing with multiple genres. I’ve also published two chapbooks and four books of essays, all dealing with a host of different subjects: from 8-bit videogames, to basketball, to Craigslist Missed Connections. I think writing nonfiction provides you the ability to write a bit more matter-of-factly about things, which translates well to writing authentic fiction, even genre fiction like this.


Are there any scenes that you particularly enjoyed writing or editing?

BRIAN: The gory ones, of course! I did a lot of thinking about what grosses me out & tried to incorporate that into the novel. To me, there’s nothing more visceral than mouths, teeth, and blood, so I would obviously try to combine all of those things. Let’s just say I didn’t eat much while I was in the midst of writing!

Mike: I loved editing Brian on this project you can tell....he got into it. There was sincere darkness in those words! I don’t want to know where he got half these ideas, but the biggest pleasure in editing the book was watching it transform from a snapshot of these characters and critical moments in the timeline of Atlaua to a story that surprises readers: there’s a great reveal as to who the “reader” is, who the “player” is in our story. It’s all carefully architected throughout the world-building, and serves as a really fun “a-ha” moment for fans at the end.


How did you end up with the awesome job of writing fiction based off of video games?

Mike: Armed Mind’s experiences writing the last three Call of Duty prequel novels netted a lot more than marketing awards and accolades – it granted us great experience. That experience is really valuable as it affords trust when we work with game developers who must focus on making the game experience as strong as possible. Since we’re trusted by our partners to step into their world authentically, word I guess sorta spread – I guess you end up with this awesome job by just doing an awesome job. If fans appreciate what you’re doing, you’ll get to keep doing it.

Brian: It is awesome, isn’t it? I’ve always loved writing that takes the form of other things—so, like, a story that takes the form of a grocery receipt, etc. I wrote a book that was in the form of Missed Connections, which before being compiled in a physical book, existed entirely on the Craiglist site. My newest novel is in the form of a computer virus. A lot of what we do at Armed Mind plays with the idea of storytelling in a multitude of ways, & I think my background in that really helps—how do we tell a story in a new and exciting way that draws in a new audience.


For the viewers out there that are interested in pursuing a career in writing, what pieces of advice do you have for them?

Brian: The key, first and foremost, is to write. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in writing the perfect story, or waiting for the right time to start on your masterpiece. Writing requires a lot of discipline—I’m not one who writes every single day, but I am constantly thinking about writing, taking notes, writing things down in my phone, things like that. Obviously read too: not just the classics, but take in a number of texts—whether that is articles on the internet, tweets, literary journals, games, movies; exposing yourself to all different types of writing makes you a better writer.

Mike: A good coffee maker. Firm deadlines. Find the story you must write it, that’ll keep you up at night if you’re not working on it, and don’t rest until it’s done. Write everything honestly. If it scares you, if it doesn’t feel’re on the right track.


The tone of War Dragons: All Things Burn is pretty dark. Why did you decide to take it in that direction?

Brian: The dark tone adds some agency as well as some stakes to the gameplay—I wanted to present Gustav as this horrible madman that you would want to usurp. Gustav is intriguing, but you also want to be a part of delivering him his just desserts. I think we all secretly love media that skews a little bit more gritty and dark, and so I wanted to capture that essence in the book. I want readers to be excited about what horrors Gustav has planned.

Mike: War Dragons isn’t necessarily a jolly sounding title! This world would be dark, and to us, when we were discussing potential avenues for this story, we were aligned with Pocket Gems from the very beginning: to be authentic, this story had to be dark. It’s about war, conquest, bodies crisping under a dragon’s hot breath. To be real, the story had to be dark.


What parts of the game did you want to be sure were included in the novel?

Brian: I really enjoyed the idea of going from island to island in the game—that they are all separate kingdoms and nations with different cultures and leaders, and so I wanted to incorporate that into the world of the novel. I also wanted the embrace the idea of communicating with dragons—that you as the player are special because of what you can do, and in a sense you are Atlaua (& the world at large)’s only hope. It was also nice to make Ash a full-fledged character, as she is the first person who helps you when you first start the game—I wanted to create more of her backstory and talk about her motivations in helping the player in the first place.

Mike: To me, I wanted to sort of break that fourth wall of gamer/reader. How can the player control a dragon? How can anyone? One of my favorite parts of this book is we established the lore of how and why people in this world – and people in our world, playing the game – can control a fire-breathing dragon. And once we got that fact, we weaved it into Gustav and created a very authentic motivator for him....But I don’t want to give too much away! 

Do you know a standout player or guild in War Dragons? We would love to hear about them! Tweet us @wardragonsgame.

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