|Client||Mega Mage Games|
|Service||Worldbuilding; Game Writing|
|Period||August 2016 – November 2017|
One of my first gigs was writing the world and story context for Warhorn, a Viking-themed multiplayer-only 1st person arena combat game. Or, as its dev team Mega Mage Games affectionately describes it: Viking Counter-Strike. These days, we’d call it a MOBA.
Mega Mage Games paid a lot of attention to aesthetic details, which is what piqued my interest for the project in the first place. They intended to keep the world historically plausible as well, meaning that false Viking clichés were to be avoided. In other words: no horned helmets in Warhorn.
Because the team’s desire to remain authentic and historically plausible, the game’s story and narrative had to echo the values and realities of the Viking age. I was brought on board because of my cultural knowledge of the Norsemen and my linguistic understanding of their ancient tongue.
Tasks and Responsibilities
- Build a believable and immersive world based on authentic Viking culture
- Design two factions that fought each other because of opposing yet relatable ideologies,
- Design an in-world reason for a never-ending conflict, which justified the endless battles that make up the gameplay
- Help design the maps, both on an arena level and on a worldbuilding level
- Create backstory for a set of champions that represent the playable classes (four classes for each faction)
- Write barks, battle-cries, and poems in Old Norse and create authentic names for characters and locations
- Design ways to show the game’s rich backstory and lore via in-game assets and scenery
- Concept new game modes that reinforce the game’s world and narrative
- Writing authentic Old Norse poetry was no easy task
- Figuring out how to communicate a complex political narrative to players via in-game models, carvings, murals, tapestries, and battle-cries
- Finding an effective means to communicate an entire world to team members without resorting to writing 100+ pages long lore bibles
- Convincing critical team members using archaeological and literary sources to reinforce my worldbuilding concepts
Learning and Takeaways
- How to think of way to tell stories other than via cutscenes or dialogs
- How to build a fictional world based on theme and inspired by history that feels coherent and consistent.
- How to design complex characters that players could nonetheless instantly identify with or latch on to
- How to use graphs and networks to communicate the scope, connectiveness, and implications of a fictional world. Looking back, I realize that working on Warhorn shaped a lot of my thoughts on using networks as a worldbuilding tool!
- How to write accurately in Old Norse
- How to keep myself from investing too much in a team and project that lacks no ambition, but has no funding.