Wednesday, January 29, 2014

From Zeus to Cogmonkeys, Swearing in Hellenica

I don't think there was ever a point where we decided we wanted to have unique swear words for Hellenica. In retrospect, we were probably influenced by the trend of "fake" swearing in our favorite shows, notably "fracking" from Battlestar Galactica and the “shun-sheng duh gao-wahn”(among others) of Firefly. And while both of those serials were probably at least partially motivated by the decency standards of network television, their inventive profanity gave the shows a distinct feel and helped make their universes feel richer. So when we started writing our dialogue, "God Dammit!" became "By Apollo!" (or another god, as appropriate) and a bomb-wielding enemy might threaten to "blow you to Hades!"

And once we go beyond simple exclamations, the various Greek myths give us a rich palette to draw from. A particularly excitable character might exclaim something like, "Zeus, Hera and dead-drunk Dionysus!" However, just like in real life, we're moderating our swearing for situations that call for it. So as much fun as we have writing these, they'll be used sparingly.

Exclamations aren’t the only impolite language in Hellenica, though. The steam-power-hating luddites are some of our principal antagonists (at least, on some playthroughs), and they’re not shy about slinging slurs at the supporters of steam power. We initially used the phrase “steamos”, but negative player feedback drove us to search for a better slur. Some of our candidates included:

Defilers
Clinks (this one was a little close to an actual racial slur...)
Clanks
Steamheads
Gearbrains

Ultimately though, we decided that “cogmonkey” provided both a clear reference to steam power and a very demeaning connotation (possibly amplified by my distaste for the phrase “code monkey”).

Swearing in Hellenica won’t be uniform, and we’ll make minor tweaks to help bring out a given character’s voice. But this is the general approach we’re taking to make swearing something that reinforces the unique Greek Steampunk world of Hellenica.

No comments:

Post a Comment