Defiance, the crossover between a massively multiplayer online shooter and a Syfy television series, is doing well enough for the network to have greenlit a second season of the series, which is currently in production. In the meantime, the MMO continues to tell the story of Defiance, and the producers of the show feel like they're getting a handle on this ambitious, complex collaboration.
"It took us a while to understand how long everything took and how to coordinate it well. Which is normal for a show, but we just had so many moving parts that it took us a while," said Michael Nankin, the co-executive producer and director of the television show, in an interview with Polygon at New York Comic Con this past weekend.
According to Nankin, the makers of the series employ a person whose sole job is to handle the crossover with Trion Worlds' Defiance game. They would have weekly meetings to figure out the details of the collaboration, but "it's become less frequent now in the second season, because like everything else, we've kind of learned how to do it," said Nankin.
A major part of the connection between the series and the game is that the story runs in real time, so right now, the game is telling the story that takes place between the first and second seasons of the show. (Season one aired between mid-April and the first week of July this year, and season two is scheduled to premiere in June 2014.) The writers spent much of the first season figuring out how to transition characters back and forth from the show to the game and vice versa. For now, there's a "lull," said Nankin, since the story for season two has already been coordinated between Syfy and Trion; next spring, the process will begin anew with the writing process for the future.
"we've kind of learned how to do it"
The tough part of the collaboration is that the Trion and Syfy can't reasonably expect every player of the game to watch the show, and certainly not the other way around.
"We didn't want to have a show that our regular audience would be lost at because they didn't play the game, and people would just tune out; it would be a disaster," Nankin explained.
That's going to be the key for Defiance as Trion and Syfy prepare for the TV show to return in June. For people who both watch and play Defiance, the transition from the game into the show's second season has to be seamless. And those who only watch the show can't feel like they've missed out on 11 months of storytelling. Only time will tell how that transition's going to shake out.