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Vault Dweller on The New World at Indiegraze
Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 24 March 2018, 14:52:40Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The New World; Vince D. Weller
Vault Dweller is the latest developer to be interviewed by Indiegraze, the indie-focused interview site that also interviewed Hannah Williams of Whalenought Studios and the Disco Elysium team last year. The interview is strictly about The New World - its development, its setting, and a bit about its mechanics. Here's an excerpt:
EM: The fact that the game world is a generation ship gives you a certain freedom as storytellers to repurpose the habitat and the cultures/religions/daily lives of the populace to your own ends. You can create factions that arise from the needs of spacefaring people, so what unique challenges come with fleshing out NPCs, locations, customs, and the quirks therein?
VDW: We prefer to stick with realism whenever possible. As Joe Abercrombie of The First Law fame said, “Now some folks might say, “hey, it’s fantasy, it doesn’t have to be real,” but I’d say the exact opposite. It’s happening in a made up place, so it has to be more real than ever.”
Thus, our main challenge is how to make the factions and characters (motivations, beliefs, agendas, goals, etc) realistic and believable in the context of the ‘made up’ setting. To do that, we turn to history: the French and Russian revolutions are a handy guide to class warfare, reigns of terror, and post-revolution factions, the early days of Deadwood are a good blueprint for our container town, plus the fascinating story of SMS Königsberg, New England’s Puritans, etc. It’s quite a mix but the same could be said about the AoD world.
EM: You explain the inspiration for The New World title on your website, noting the parallels between the era of explorers/colonization and humanity’s desire to reach for the stars. In following, you note that the First Generation of ship inhabitants maintained a drive and an optimism that fell flat in the generations that followed, so to extend that thought, what is it about exploration that draws some people to leave homelands in search of fortune on foreign shores? And as generations become accustomed to the new space, how do we avoid stagnation?
VDW: If John Glubb (the author of The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival) is to be believed, we can stop stagnation no more than we can stop winter from coming. It’s a seasonal thing.
So it’s not that the new generations become accustomed to their new world, it’s that each generation moves further away from the beliefs of their fathers and forefathers, eventually coming full circle. The ancient Greeks noticed it first and our nature hasn’t changed much since then. We worship different gods and have different values, but our hardcoded nature remains the same. Note to aspiring developers: don’t hardcode things, nothing good comes from it.
As for what draws people to leave their homes, I’d say it’s the promises of fresh starts and great opportunities (because the grass is always greener on the other side and the faraway lands are overflowing with milk and honey, which is a well-documented phenomenon).
EM: Another big theme of the game seems to be grit, a keen disillusionment on the part of NPCs and the people in charge, so in a world filled with chaos and desperate people, what does the profile of success look like? Is it as simple as being really good or really evil, or what other personality/archetypes win the day?
VDW: No matter how bleak things were in different periods in our history, there were always faction leaders and various opportunists who did pretty well for themselves. In fact, many believe that periods of chaos offer the best opportunities to rise above your station and redistribute some wealth in the process.
The Thirty Years’ War was one of the bleakest points in the history of Europe, yet for Albrecht von Wallenstein, an impoverished noble born to a Protestant family, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a supreme commander of the armies of the Holy Roman Empire and a major player in said war.
Similarly, most characters who’re doing well in The New World owe their success not to being really good or really evil but to being able to adapt to the ever-changing circumstances better than most, recognizing opportunities and taking advantage of them before anyone else does. Survival of the fittest.
EM: Even now, in our modern world, specialization means most people don’t know how to do everything. One guy might be a good carpenter or a good plumber but know nothing about fixing a cell phone or a laptop. As the technology of the First Generation has fallen to subsequent generations, what kinds of taboos and or unique, marketable talents can we expect to find? Has technology come to be viewed as something almost magical, or has it simply become mundane?
VDW: Imagine a modern cruise ship’s passengers being marooned on an island. They won’t forget how to use a computer or a cellphone, but they won’t be able to build one from scratch without proper resources or to maintain their electronics indefinitely, so they will have to ‘switch’ to lower tech out of necessity.
Same here. The Ship’s inhabitants can use high-tech weapons and gadgets, but they can’t build new weapons and devices without having access to proper machines and supplies. Instead, they make low-tech weapons and devices because they are relatively easy to produce. You can’t make new plasma cells, but you can make bullets using synthetic propellant. You can’t make plasma weapons, but you can make good ol’ fashioned firearms (ranging from crude to high quality guns made from machined parts).
So the new marketable talents are gunsmithing, metal forging, scavenging the Ship for anything valuable, from Earth-made weapons and gadgets to implants in mummified corpses, and reactor maintenance.