Friday, 13 July 2018

Ashen


Back in 2015 I got an email out of the blue from a guy called Derek Bradley who had read the Broken Empire books and seen on my bio that I was a long time computer gamer.

He wanted to know if I wanted to write for the game that he was creative director for, and sent this early demo video:


It looked good and I liked Derek's approach to world building, so I agreed! I soon found myself writing lore and history for the various factions in this unusual world. I designed and wrote histories for a variety of items, magic and mundane, that can be found during exploration. The idea here was to present a history of the world organically through the artefacts that players encounter rather than as a big info dump / cut scene. Hopefully thereby making the place more of a living and breathing world where the players' understanding and sense of the scale and history of the place is assembled painlessly as they go.

I also got to design a whole bunch of characters along with their origin stories and current goals that might lead them to suggest and collaborate on various adventures. It was great fun and I'm looking forward to playing the game to see which of my contributions survived into the final version and how they have been realised by the artists and designers.

Here's a more up to date video of the game in action. That first line is one of mine, the first line in a "book of lore" I wrote for the game: "Wise men say that the dark is older than the light. They say it reaches further and that no matter how swiftly the light travels it finds that all it touches was first in darkness."



The artistic design and game play are pretty unique though there is a clear Dark Souls vibe at work too.

Here's the sort of thing I got to write!

They say the dark is empty, but it is not so. The Bral dwell in the ancient night and they are legion. Their nature and form offer endless variety. A few as old as the Ashen themselves. A multitude new-born from the blackness.

When the Ashen fell there were some few among the many races of the Bral drawn to the great beast, drawn by the pollution of its blood, both fascinated and repelled.

These scavengers crawled from the utter dark and burrowed amid the Ashen’s feathers. A multitude living and dying. Generation upon generation, breeding and building, all within the space of one breath. The Ashen’s dying light was something they both craved and despised. It ate at them, turning night-flesh to dust and ash and cinders, but it filled them with such power, such possibility. And it changed them.


Anyway, the release date is 2018, so check it out when it arrives and let me know what you think.

Here's what Xbox say about it.
And here's the page for the designers, Aurora 44.








8 comments:

  1. That's awesome! Looks very Dark Souls inspired. I hope it's not Xbox exclusive!!!!

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  2. Dear Mark. I apologise for posting on your blog about something completely of the blogs description but I will be buying this game. I love your work. My favourite has to be the trilogy staring young Jorg (by far one of the most interesting characters I've read about).
    I have an idea that I'd love to explain in a personal email. All I am asking for is permission from you. It involves the world you created in the Broken Empire. My question is would it be possible to use your setting and the world you created for a Tabletop RPG game I am hoping to start currently writing soon. It won't be for sale but only used for a game session I run at my Gaming cafe. I would love to hear from you or anybody that could point me in the right direction.
    Kind regards
    Colin

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  3. Looks great!!! Love the art direction as well.

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  4. Dooooooooooope!

    I'm ready for this!

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  5. I'll definitely be on the lookout for the release! I really like your writing and I'm very interested to see it in a new format.

    Was there anything about writing for a game, especially in someone else's world, that surprised you?

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  6. Awesome story, and the trailer looks rad. Might have to find myself an xbox!

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  7. Ashen is great! I just beat it. Definitely one of the two best souls-likes to date. I must confess I had no idea you wrote it until just now and didn't pay a ton of attention to the story because I played the whole thing co-op with an antsy friend and I didn't want to make him wait while I read every item description. Might have to replay it on hard mode by myself and really soak it in. Congrats on getting to write for a game that turned out well though, I bet it was a lot of fun.

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