Hi Aura Kingdom fans,
Since we’re revealing the first look at Aura Kingdom’s lore this week, we thought this would be the perfect time to discuss the work that goes into crafting a game’s story. To that end, we brought in our fantastic localization team at Aeria to share their creative process with us!
First and foremost, producing a game is a collaborative process. Designers, artists, coders, editors... everyone gets input, and everyone contributes. This is true for any game, but especially true for such a mammoth project as an MMORPG. It’s a design-led process, not a story-led process. Design choices are made, art is drawn, and the broad strokes of story are dictated by elements like level progression and the relative importance of things like PvE vs. PvP, the significance of crafting, and so on.
As writers and editors, what we do is take all of that and create a story that explains to the player how the game is played. That connects the diverse game-play elements thematically, which creates an overall context for the world that describes what’s going on and why the player’s character is involved. And for an MMO, all of this has to be done in a way that doesn’t close off options for future content.
It’s a group effort. Someone’s doing mobs, someone else is doing quest text, someone else is writing item descriptions, someone else is doing incidental dialog... Often, creative inspiration strikes when we’re trying to edit all these individual efforts into a cohesive whole. For instance, level designers made a sequence about fish-men living in a swamp. The artists made images of these creatures that were not so much fish-people as snake-people. We looked at the art, and decided to call them ‘Sarpa,’ derived from ‘serpent.’ The idea of them being more snake-like than human-like influenced the way their dialogue and actions were written.
At this point we have a departmental meeting to standardize names and broad story arcs. We go through an extensive period with the story, which constantly grows in all directions. Then we look to contract, to tighten our focus; we want a world that feels big and exciting, but not one that will confuse the players and leave a lot of loose ends lying about. The cycle of expansion and contraction continues, but contraction gains an edge as the game gets closer to release. The more that is added, the more possibility that it could clash or contradict with material that came before it. So we begin to focus more on making the experience of the story already in play more cohesive.
It’s a colossal undertaking, but seeing the end product come together makes it infinitely worth it for us. Hopefully the players enjoy experiencing the story as much as we love creating it!
Wishing you endless hours of fun,
-The Aeria Localization Team