Feb 8, 2013

Writer Jon Singer Gives Us the Scoop on Wild Skies

“George, I wish you’d look at the nursery.” 

In 1950, The Saturday Evening Post published The World the Children Made (later The Veldt) a chilling tale written by one of the masters of speculative fiction, the late Ray Bradbury. In this story, Peter and Wendy Hadley construct their own “Never-Never Land” in The Nursery – a magical room powered by technology.

As a huge Bradbury fan, when I heard that a friend of mine was a part of a team working on their own Nursery and was in need of a story to fill it with, I naturally jumped at the opportunity. Rather than lions on a desolate veldt, the first story to be told by Project Holodeck was to be one of battle in the open sky. This project was different from my earlier forays into fiction in that it was a collaborative process where many of the facts were already set. In many ways, the start of this experience mirrored my favorite part of being an engineer – namely, when you sit down with colleagues after a ton of work with a pile of data and try to find the physical explanation that ties it all together. Here we had a collection of interesting datapoints that needed explaining: two siblings on an airship, searching for their taken father, fighting off a myriad of diverse enemies, etc. Soon a likely model began to arise: the setting on an airship suggested a world where land travel could be hazardous or impossible, the variety of opponents suggested multiple means of propulsion, and the targeting of both the family and the father suggested that he may have some unique gift to offer and that the ship you were piloting may tie into that gift.

The volatile world of Galun and its habitable satellites, Larun and Daharun, quickly began to take shape. The driving force for the story was (much as is the case in our world) the importance of energy, all the more critical on a planet where survival depends not only on food and shelter, but on the ability to stay aloft. At center stage of this struggle is an inventor of a new source of energy that could greatly shift the balance of power, making both him and his prototype valuable commodities.

As Lead Writer, this whole process has been a fantastic opportunity to exercise my creative muscles in trying to help build a world tied (but not shackled) to scientific reality, especially in adapting and refining the story to incorporate the ever expanding set of capabilities presented by this new gaming platform and the ideas introduced by our great team of artists and designers. At every step, I have watched the world become more complete, the characters more real, and the gaming experience more immersive. Through this process, I hope that the end product will not only be a world that you can enter, but also one that you don’t want to leave.

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