Seven Things About Writing For Stellaris
- That Iain Banks quote – ‘the unlimited special effects budget [that] written SF hands a writer’. Man, I’ve never felt that so keenly. I keep being, like, is it okay if I blow that up? and the Paradox guys are all, sure, put a black hole in while you’re at it.
- But there are constraints, as always. I can’t move a planet to a different solar system, I don’t have an art budget at my disposal. That’s cool. I like constraints, and words are super flexible.
- There are almost no character arcs. There are very few specific characters never named. People can’t be centre stage. That’s a challenge. But not as much of a challenge as
- I’m used to writing about people with nonspecific gender. Now I’m writing about people that may in fact be bird people or spider people. I just gave a character recurring nightmares and then thought, can I assume fungoid macrocolonies dream? Well, hell, anthropomorphism.
- My writing background music: the Ender’s Game soundtrack; Oldfield’s Songs of Distant Earth; Ligetti’s Atmosphères, for that cosmic perspective of terror; and of course the Stellaris music itself, which does a fine job of being evocative without intrusive. I tried listening to the Mass Effect OST of which I’m also v fond, but it’s just TOO CONFUSING. Every game world has a flavour, but it’s a flavour like a cocktail, not a flavour like a spice. Good things rarely happen when you drip one cocktail into another.
- Content spreads thin. Everyone wants more content in the Stellaris mid-game. There is a lot of content in the Stellaris mid-game already, but it’s a big giant game already. Go poking around in the content files. It’s like falling into the monolith down there. I’ve said it before, this is what I think of when I think about the appetite of players for content:
- 7. If you’re going to mod Stellaris / add content, then (assuming you’re writing on Windows) use Indexing Options to enable full-text search in all the files when you’re trying to work out how it all fits together. Otherwise it’s like someone put a maze in the monolith, and you’ll never get out.
- 8. Watch for the Loop.