Thursday, July 10, 2014

Writing Hellenica

This past weekend marked roughly the two-year anniversary of my beginning to work on Hellenica. And I thought I might mark the occasion with a review of how our writing process has evolved in that time.

The first writing done for Hellenica was just for world building. We wanted to flesh out what Greek steampunk was and to this end we wrote revised descriptions of the twelve main Greek gods as well as a new series of Greek myths. These were then discussed with Kurt, Bergy, and my mother (whose willingness to proofread every line written for Hellenica has made her somewhat of an expert on it) to help spur our brainstorming.

Thus, while these myths won't show up in the game, they inspired many of the ideas that would, including Poseidon's wrath towards Corinth and Nephele's job as a priestess-mechanic.

By late fall of 2012 we had a first draft of what a playthrough might look like, and it was riddled with flaws. One of the early issues was that I made an effort to write characters as having historically accurate views on gender. This ended up being distracting because it felt like every character, right down to Socrates, was a huge misogynist. Beyond that, characters frequently spoke in unnaturally overwrought dialogue (at the time, I was more used to writing essays). Additionally, our primary steampunk character, Nephele, didn't show up until a third of the way through the story, downplaying some of our setting's unique elements.

Bergy and others went over these flaws with me in sometimes excruciating detail. At the time, Bergy told me not to worry, I should probably expect to rewrite everything at least two more times. While his words of wisdom didn’t have the desired encouraging effect, they did end up being prophetic. But, that's a story for next week...

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