Jared: Hello everybody and welcome to a special edition of the lower makers guide to the galaxy. Making Lore. I’m your host, community manager Jared Huckaby and with me today are the members of the CIG Lore team out of our Los Angeles office. Immediately to my right is lead writer Mr. Dave Haddock (DH).
Jared: [Laughs] Say hello Dave.
Jared: And to my left is senior writer Mr. Will Weissbaum (WW)
WW: Hey good to be here
Jared: And to his left associate writer Mr. Adam Wizer (AW)
Jared: And to my right, last but certainly not least archivist Ms. Sherri Heiberg (SH)
Jared: And these are your normal hosts for the Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy now in our…um, we’re past 20 episodes recently?
WW: John Schimmel it couldn’t be here because he’s our designated survivor[Laughter]
Jared: So if you’ve never seen the Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy Before That’s where one of these fine people take you on a tour of some of the systems that are designed and will soon be available in the Star Citizen universe[More laughter]
That soon being a relative term
WW: Relatively overused term.
Jared: We wanted to take some time today and talk a little bit about the process…How Lore is actually made for video games, since that’s not that’s not a part of the video game story that often gets told; not my experience; I don’t see a lot about the origins of story, and the folks that created how that comes about.
WW: Yeah, I mean we’ve touched a little bit on in the Ask a Dev section on the forums and in previous ’10 for the Writers’ but it’s always great to flush out kind of what goes into that how we fit in with the team here.
Jared: OK so let’s go right back to the beginning…Was it no November 2012? October 2012? When we start creating Lore for Star Citizen?
DH: Ah, that was July 2012 July-August. It was probably a month before the, ah teaser site went up. So basically Chris’ announcement was october 12 at GDC and in the build-up to it basically he wanted to start kind of teasing that something was coming in and so the idea was that we did this sort of time capsule thing where it was every day of September.
Basically, we did a different post, written in fiction, kind of moving the timeline from present-day to the day of the announcement that the game was going to take a place.
Jared: Now was this the, this is the first lore that we released, was this the first lore that was created for Star Citizen?
DH: No actually the early conversations were basically just sort of very broad stuff like you know Chris has talked about it at the live stream, you know looking at the fall of the Roman Empire was sort of inspiration for this type of stuff but a lot of it was very large-scale, high-level discussions about who are the good guys and bad guys. That was what led to this sort of let’s make it more about shades of grey rather than black white. We actually ended up doing the time capsules for ourselves to figure out what was happening and then we sort of modified them to turn them into the time capsule.
So that was sort of how because you hit all the major points of what the major discoveries were in that those 30 days. You get jump points you get Vanduul, you get Banu, Xi’an, [unintelligible], Messer, Syth Worlds, all that stuff gets kind of and parsed out.
WW: It’s fun how those foundational elements are still something that I go back to in my writing like really frequently like a lot of our stuff stem from those original ripples that came out of that original timeline series.
Jared: And not just for you guys, for our fan fiction writers often get requests from our fans though hey is there a service story about this or what not all people to come inside my time and i’ll find some old post on the old website 2012 like yeah this is kind of what you’re talking about.
WW: Yeah we do get a lot of questions about like oh I’m thinking about doing a story about this…Is this okay, does this fit in the lore? And it’s kind of nice about Star Citizen, usually answer is as long as it’s a small contain story the answer is yes you can probably write that story in star citizen. It’s a huge universe it’s multiple space systems everything happened there as long as you’re not saying, like, a whole planet is made out of cheese, it’s okay but if it’s a small group of people they can have a weird, strange, awesome adventure.
DH: And it’s like if the note the ramifications of it you know if you’re writing a character who’s like, going to be the guy who shot Ivar Messer, that would obviously conflict with established lore, but you could write someone who is struggling against Ivar Messer who you know died or went over to the dark side. As long as it’s sort of within the framework, and it doesn’t really mess with kind of establish stuff there’s a lot of potential.
Jared: And while we’re talking about the fan fiction stuff, there are Writers Guides that we’ve released in several posts.
DH: Yeah I think it was ultimately was 13, a 13 installment thing we…(It) actually needs to be updated soon but it was basically, it was because at the time we were getting a lot of, there was a whole lot up there I mean from the day we launched we had a huge fan fiction section so this was sort of an attempt to kind of put together a cohesive guide that was written outside of lore, so we could say like hey, if you’re writing for the government this is the type of character they are and you should write them like this. You know this is how the military kind of acts…Tech stuff rather than having to frame it within some kind of fictional context but that way people can kind of go like okay that you know the Banu were like this the Xi’an like this that then you’ll like this. So yeah we do need to update them.
WW: But I think a lot of heavy lifting will hopefully be taken on by Galactapedia when that goes live, because a lot of that kind of bite-sized information chunks were putting effort into developing that more.
SH: Yeah, yeah I’ve been yeah I’ve been spending a lot of time referring to some of the older material at the time capsule series and the writers guys trying to do the first pass on all the collective media articles it’s been really helpful and I gotta say I really like the time capsule series that’s one of my favorites.
WW: They’re OK.[Laughter]
Jared: So the time capsule series was one of the first thing the first things we published along with the was the Kid Crimson and Kassandra’s Tears?
DH: Yeah that was after the announcement so basically Chris ended up really liking the time capsule thing as well as a way to dispense kind of little bite-sized bit of knowledge and so that after we did the announcement they were sort of ok so how are we going to keep we started to get this massive interest how to kind of keep it going and and so you want to kind of keep that thread alive so that turned into our sort of weekly news dispatch that we still do today like we do we know this now at Tuesday’s every Tuesday it’s a single news article that kind of gives you a sense of what’s happening in the Universe. Beyond them when I was doing the concentric spheres which is Cal Mason story and Crimson it was like it was like Monday was Cal Mason, Wednesday was News dispatch, Friday was a Kid Crimson until December.
Jared: And those stories are still available on the website?
DH: Yeah, if you go to the Spectrum Dispatch section you can find all of them.
Jared: OK. So before we get to the process once we started making and this is all before we started building the game…When Chris comes to you and says we’re going to make this game that is going to be this massive sprawling universe, where do you start? Like, what would you remember the very first thing that the very first piece, if it’s not spoiler related, like where do you start when you have to create a massive universe for two video games?
DH: Yeah, I mean, I think the the the fall of the Roman Empire thing was helpful because that’s sort of automatically buys you, sort of, ok so you have a an empire under strain financially, military strained and it’s reaching a breaking point. As a kickoff point that you have a lot to go with in that I mean I was to me it always seems like you know it’s like sketching if you start part of the approach for drawing is you start with the broad shape tools and then ovals and kind of flow and, you know, and then you refine the shape and fill in the details. It’s kind of the same thing. I mean it’s easy, or well, I would say it’s probably very, very hard to start really, really micro and be like i’m going to write out religion from now until the 30th century and completely developed that in a vacuum and then go all right I’ve done that now going to do food you know have
SH: …Every food[Laughter]
DH: Yeah like it’s very, ou know you’re just gonna snow yourself under and never actually gonna build a big picture. So it’s easier to start kind of…
WW: Yeah, we have there’s so many needs for us coming from a lot of the different areas…Departments like guns and engines and main storylines and planetary write-ups that we operate very much on it and need basis we don’t have time unfortunately sit there and flush out a full, like, every Murray Cup racer since the history of it. We only know the years that we had to write about for particular stories and and will keep growing in and filling in as we needed. If we need it, like if there are requests at the Murray Cup headquarters for a plaque that list every winner then we’ll have to sit down and do it…Which that’s a pretty good idea…[Laughter]…but still so so it’s kind of fun like sometimes we get questions about like when did this happen or what is this until we kind of focus in on that it doesn’t exist.
Jared: How cool would it be to have a Murray Cup placque in the [CIG] lobby with all the winners…
SH: That’d be pretty cool. [Laughter]
WW: Thanks, yeah…Put in a JIRA task for that.
Jared: So that’s before the campaign, so now the campaign is up and running, we funded Star Citizen, now we have to start making the game…So you’ve got your you’ve got requests that come from story, the things that you want to see in the game, but now you’re getting requests from designers request from game designers that we need something for this we want to build this yeah how does that process work?
DH: Yeah, yeah I mean that’s well said I mean it kind of comes from all over and we get will get requests from you know item designers were like handing you know who manufactures like light bulbs you know and then in the same day get another request it’s like hey we’re building the space station…What is it? You know here are some concept art of rough things, here’s what or if it’s from a game design standpoint like here’s what gameplay mechanic we’re trying to satisfy you know where were needed a moment something like that so you can kind of come from anywhere is the thing and we, you know, we just have to roll with the punches.
WW: It’s been kind of interesting seeing the change as the game comes farther along our interaction with the designers, because you’re able to speak to this will have gone the dispatches like the dispatches a year
ago, we would be pulling a lot more from the ether like this is what interests us now and now the gameplay that’s going on the actual design is feeding a lot more into what were writing as these releases in the content builds up.
AW: Yeah, it makes, um, it makes it sometimes easier to actually tell a story because we know how that experience is gonna be in game…So I have a question for writing something about a data runner I can go and I can sit and talk to Matt Sherman how’s the Herald work? Like how fast, what is it good at? What is it bad at? How do you foresee this happening. So it makes it makes a lot of fun to be able to provide those specifics and even layer some of those in so when people read the dispatches they’re getting this broader story but there’s one or two hints as to the gameplay that were foreseen that we’re actually implementing and building in the game.
Jared: You mentioned corporations one of the things that is unique to star citizen amongst other projects i’ve seen is the sheer number of corporations that we have I before we move on talk to me real quick about why there are so many corporations and what that brings Star Citizen?
DH: I mean it’s basically it’s kind of a testament to the sort of level of fidelity and the thinking because it’s not you know hey this is a ship, it’s a shape that has these attachments on it and just kind of go like many things are really meticulously designed and they have a lot of all the components that you can see one, you know you can look at, and stuff like that. They’re built as actually kind of engineering things. So, based on the internal coding system as far as the assets go, you know, the different cooler…Everything has a sort of like a tag code, tag so it’s become sort of corporation toads(?) and that will help dictate I mean art style all kinds of stuff so basically like everything gets assigned to a company. If it exists and you can sort of manipulate it, someone, we have to decide who made that.
WW: And it, in like a lot of ways it helps the artist in that once we come up with one idea of that company they have that style guide it can go to it but all that history lore does make it difficult sometimes because if there’s like a space station that was supposed to be abandoned a hundred and fifty years ago and they’re using this prop to populate it and we have to be, like well, actually that company didn’t exist until fifty years ago according to the lore, so those items would be there and then their like, well we don’t have another version of this item…And, yeah. That’s happened.[Laughter]
Jared: So, whose job is it to track down these corporations?
DH: I think it’s kind of a team effort…
SH: Yeah and we do we do that corporation matrix in Confluence that just lists all of the Corporations along with various aspects of them like when they were founded, what they make, what their visual feel is, look at history…
Jared: And for those what Confluence is…?
SH: Confluences is our internal wiki that we keep track of game development in. A game design document or less.
Jared: And that’s sort of your realm…I notice when anybody’s got a problem or question about confluence it’s a Go ask Sherry![Laughter]
SH: Go ask Sherry, that’s meee![Laughter]
Jared: So in addition to Confluence let’s move into the star map. So the star map is one of the craziest things that we’ve put out, if i can say so myself, I had nothing to do with it but it’s one of the most impressive things that that’s part of the Star Citizen experience, from my perspective. Where did the idea for the starmap come from?
DH: I think it was an early there was an early stretch goal…I don’t know. I actually don’t know where. There was an early stretch goal, that was like, a printed one that we ended up releasing, ah but it
WW: There was a cartography room, right the…
Jared: Yeah, right there was this in-game stellar cartography room
DH: Yeah, yeah but it was also, thing too, there’s a sort of inhernet thing like we have you know the the star map is the known universe and if a part of the aspect of the game is going to be you know discovering jump points like you, you have to make the map scalable because if someone discovers a new jump point to a new system then the star map is going to change, like it’s not a fixed thing. So having an interactive version of it you know had a sort of practical need but I think it was also just like you know [Unintelligible] totally sold the concept of it, it’s incredible
AW: And it’s a fun thing to look at but it’s also, especially considering the history and the number of systems we have, it’s so vitally important that we understand the connections between all these different worlds because it doesn inform the history of oh, if, you know, this system was discovered at this time because this event over here happened we need to make sure that this is the path that people got to go there…
DH: Oh I was a nightmare…
AW: Yeah, yeah yeah we came up with all the specific uh…
DH: Because the map changed about 8…8 times like this for I mean just from the very first few days when it was like, you know, 20 systems and then the stretch goal, the four million dollars stretch goal it went to 50 systems and then, I can’t remember…It was like seven million was a hundred systems, something like that and so that’s where it’s sort of stayed. But like even the placement of these things, as tech was coming online, oh, actually we can do this system first and you know, so they started rearranging it to mimic that sort of thing…
Jared: And the star map is just the known systems that are known
Jared: The known systems to humans. So it’s not all the systems that will be in Star Citizen.
DH: Yeah, so, the Xi’an play the cards close to their chest so they don’t …
Jard: So yeah, the idea to star map, there’s obviously a lot of use for it…How do you go about creating it? It seems like it’s a massive amount of data entry in addition to the design from our friends at Turbulent.
SH: Right we did, we also worked with someone at Turbulent who helped us with data entry…He was very helpful but yea right. Up to the last day before we launched the starmap we were still inputting data and making sure everything was double checked, everything looked good, it was visually consistent with what are descriptions of the system actually was…
WW: Yeah, I mean, that was another thing that really helped because the need was there, it helped us focus on flushing out a some of the systems we would have, like, we would know the feature planet and that there was three other worlds there, but maybe those worlds were just like, one was just kind of a gas giant so we had to go in and really think, what is this? And answering that question, because we’re not just a procedurally generated universe we want there to be reasons to go travel around so really trying to give distinct flavor to all the worlds and all of X number of systems.
Jared: And and starts with the stars and galaxies it’s not just the science fiction there’s science to it you have who’d you guys work with anybody that astronomers are in that to make sure things are as scientifically possible or scientifically accurate…
SH: Yes we worked with two Master students of astrophysics, Steven & Michael, great people.[Laughter]
Jared: Hey Steven! Hi Michael!
SH: Hi guys![Laughter]
Jared: And hi Scott!
SH: And Hi Scott! Thanks Scott! So we actually have very very flushed out data of all star systems that we have released to the public so far with things like the positions of the planets in AU, orbital speed, the length of the day, the type of planet is and so on and so forth so that we can put the data into the game if possible with the goal of realistic feeling. We have this realistic physics but we want to make sure that the system feels as real as possible so that’s why we have these these numbers.
WW: Sometimes the responses from the physicist being well…[Laughter]
SH: A couple of times we really want to do something cool and they had to say that’s not really a thing…[Laughter]
WW: We shoved them…[Laughter]
DH: And that was the death of Will’s cheese planet.[Laughter]
Jared: You seemed very, solemn when he said no cheese planet.
WW: Well, he said it was too close to the Sun would melt
DH: Then he thought it was a nacho planet…[Laughter]
SH: On the other hand they also helped us come up with really cool ideas like if we had kind of a a general idea of a cool thing we wanted in a system say if we wanted to have a really dense asteroid cluster they helped us figure out ways we can make those scientifically possible.
WW: It’s been there, since I started this project one truism that I’ve learned is if someone says that can’t happen in space wait a week and someone will discover it. Because every time, like the discoveries that have happened since I started this job really focusing on learning about space science has been insane, like all the weird planets that have people found with their telescopes and picking up radio waves and stuff.
SH: Like that planet made entirely of diamond? That’s real.
Jared: So before we run out of time I want to get some quick lightning round here. How does…Coming up we’ve got alpha 2.6 but then we’ve got 3.0 horizon which seems like it’s going to be a much broader expansion of story
possibilities what’s it like working on that right now what would let that process like?
DH: Uh, it’s, I mean it’s actually it’s a nice, interesting change of pace because Squadron 42, while being a lot of fun, was, because it’s very narrative, military drama, action space opera…This was nice to be able to have more different weird characters so you could…Because we’re doing all these…
Jared: So Will is in it?[Laughter]
DH: Uh…But yeah. No, there’s like the…that’s like that just all the different the the planets that we’re going to and stuff like that it’s definitely much wilder characters.
WW: Because in v zero you know where we’re starting off small and we’re going to keep adding and adding to it. V zero, in 3.0 we’re kind of flushing out that a world so we tried for like diversity and really had some interesting people just to start getting like a smattering of the kind of characters that we want to have their and slowly building out and trying to figure it’s it’s really complicated and exciting.
Jared: And then their Squadron 42 the single-player component to star citizen how long is that script now? How many pages we mentioned the page count a couple of times and every time we mention it seems like the numbers gotten larger.
DH: Yeah it was 1255 I think it’s gone up a little bit because we added some generic engineer stuff.[Laughter]
Jared: Well, that’s a good release for folks…We’ve added some general generic engineer stuff to Squadron 42.
WW: As the game gets built up more as you know it was Chris mentioned you know we have that full kind of stuff flushed in its kind of going back in now and taking a look at the in-between spaces is kind of where we’re filling in like we have a two big moments we have a couple smaller moments but then there’s like a dead hole right there in the middle so we’re filling that stuff in now.
Jared: All right so guys I think that wraps up our special edition of Lore Maker’s Guide to the Galaxy, um…Making Lord anything you want to say to the Star Citizen community before we let you go?
DH: Thank you everybody
SH: Thank you for all your support.
WW: Thank you for the suggestions and comments and fan fiction and everything
Jared: So you can watch Loremaker’s Guide to the Galaxy every other Wednesday here on our youtube channel and on robertsspaceindustries.com and for some people may not know every Tuesday there’s a lore post that goes out on our website as well, following a variety of storylines input now and Jump Point magazine the monthly subscriber additions that also has original original fiction a lot of it that’s nor else to be found all the the short stories.
Allright, thank for sharing that’s Adam that’s Dave that’s, well I’m Jared…See you in the Verse!