Building Believable Worlds
Starsiege 2845 Developer Diary #3
Along with crafting the actual mission progression, the meta-plot that drives the campaign and all the accessory material that makes it real, Im also working with other parts of our team to keep things as grounded in the universe as possible. Our entire staff loves this franchise and wants very much to imbue everything we do with the core characteristics that define it. We want our game to exist as a part of this universe and to be immediately recognizable as a chapter in the long Starsiege and Tribes saga. To that end the writing team is constantly fielding questions to help ground work from other departments in the fabric of this universe.
One particular instance involves our planned leagues. Weve made no secret of the fact that as a development team we intend to support competitive play after release with our own composite league system. In fact our web-monkeys work tirelessly even now to establish the back-end applications requisite to facilitate that. We here on the writing team are also trying to contribute what we can by giving the league organizers the materials to provide a reasonably accurate and believable setting for the league. The idea is that we want the teams to feel like they are actually competing and playing in the universe we describe through our single player campaign.
So we put together descriptions of the various factions to which squads might belong. What environments will be fought for? What sort of bonuses or penalties might certain factions commend themselves to? How might forces be arrayed after our campaign and what sorts of astronomical positions might specific factions start in? These are all questions we are working with the league designers to answer. The goal of course is to allow the players to step into a composite league that feels reasonably accurate without hindering their gameplay experience.
Then of course there are members of the art department who come to us with questions about the materials or environments. Over the past several weeks Ive been working with Kenneth Cook, who is one of our texture artists and mappers, on what materials might be found in our single player campaign maps. He wants to know what are buildings made of, and who would be more inclined to use what materials, and how in the heck would those materials be made anyway? Ken wants to know the history of the maps we build. Who built the structures here first? Has it changed hands? Has it been destroyed and rebuilt? If so, by whom? And what affect might that have on the look of the buildings and terrain?
As a for instance, weve been working together of late on a demo map which may not ever actually see release. Its primarily for testing and video purposes right now, but that doesnt change the level of detail Ken wants to incorporate. So we hypothesize that this facility is an abandoned Sung Industries mining colony in the asteroid belt that was overrun by Cybrids during the Starsiege. Colonial forces have since reclaimed it and the asteroid itself has been physically moved to a new location. Now it is a top-secret proving ground for the fledgling Free Colonial Forces.
As a result of these details weve decided that the underlying structures are made of a certain grade of Ceracrete, which has a particular look to it. Theyve suffered some damage, but a few facilities that were useful to the machine occupiers received reinforcement or repair at their hands. The Cybrids also built some use-specific structures of their own, made out of an entirely different material, and now that the Colonials have arrived they have taken over the whole facility for themselves. They destroyed some Cybrid structures, preserved others for research, scraped off old logos, etc
A lot of minor details kit-bashed for a map that the gaming public may never actually see. But thats exemplary of our teams commitment to the reality of this universe. If we dont come up with those details, the chances of your believing in the reality of the environments you play through are pretty slim.
It is precisely this sort of attitude that makes me happy to be a part of this team, and this project. This is definitely a game built on blood, sweat, and tears, and fueled by passion. In my mind, perfect ingredients for a five-star title.
EXECUTE, EXECUTE, EXECUTE!!