In approaching the narrative design for TUG, we decided from the outset that we didn’t want this game to have a traditional linear narrative. It is a true sandbox at its heart; there is no “campaign” and no “ending,” and no branching dialogue trees, cut-scenes, or bottle-necked scripted moments. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have TONS of lore and backstory and world-building in TUG! Bear with me in this post; if it seems like I’m being super vague at points... that’s only because I’m trying reaaaally hard not to spoil things. (Trust me... I’d love to geek out and just spill all the exciting stuff we’ve been coming up with... but that would ruin all the fun!)
The storytelling in TUG is rooted firmly in exploration and discovery. As a young Seed, you’ll begin exploring the world around you; you’ll encounter critters, explore caves, visit different biomes, and have to contend with day, night, and seasonal cycles. But as you explore, you will also stumble upon strange ruins, odd-looking statues, or shrines scattered throughout the world. By excavating, studying, or deciphering these mysterious items, you’ll be able to slowly start piecing together the backstory of the world of TUG... and all its secrets. You may find instructions for strange rituals or quests (try them and see what happens!), or fragments of information on the history of the world, or crafting recipes for mysterious, advanced, or seemingly magical technology. These tidbits may be hidden in strange materials found buried beneath the earth, mysterious runes or glyphs on stone structures, abandoned temples, strange sounds you hear in the night (or day!), odd beings sighted from a distance that vanish when you try to approach them, and more... and it will be up to you, the players, to begin putting these all together. Of course, part of the fun will be working with other players in piecing together these clues!
Part of our reason for designing the game this way is that, after all, this is the way we’ve pieced together the story of our own history, in the real world, as human beings. The narrative we’ve constructed of our collective past, in our own world, is one that we’ve pieced together from historical documents, ruins, and other primary sources, and we’ve built entire cultures and communities around trying to understand our own past, and in many cases, to reinvent it. The way we interpret these cultural remains has led to many beautiful things in our art, in our stories, and in our cultures today. Structuring TUG in this way gives us an opportunity to see how the player community interprets the TUG history... and what cultures, understandings, or theories about the world players will create as a result, and how those theories, assumptions, and interpretations of the lore of the world might create conflict or collaboration. As social scientists, this will be an amazing thing to see unfold, and may even give us some insights into society today.
It’s important to note as well that TUG will not be a static world. The lore isn’t just some backstory that happened long ago, and is more or less set in stone and unevolving at the point when the player arrives. Rather, the story will continue to grow as you play the game, and eventually, these mysterious shrines may lead you towards adventures and into more structured narrative arcs. Perhaps you will you will vie for the favor of various ancient beings and create social structures with other players based around these lore-driven mechanics. Perhaps you will band together with other players to defend a city or a temple from followers of a rival deity. Perhaps you will become a hermetic monk... and devote your Seed’s life to studying the ancient mysteries of the world. Or, who knows, you might even decide that you don’t care about all these ancient mysteries and just want to craft and build and trade, and that’s fine, too!
You may awaken old secrets and ancient powers, and how they affect the world once they are unleashed will depend largely on how you, the players, will interact with them. There are no factions in TUG, but there may be points where you will have to chose between differing paths, and make trade-offs based on what kinds of gameplay you prefer.
All of the game’s fundamental mechanics are tied deeply to the lore, as well. We’ve attempted to build TUG’s lore and gameplay following an internally consistent logic system, and all magic, crafting, and technology are intrinsically tied into this. It’s designed to work in a way that allows for a wide range of fun and complex mechanics to exist that don’t challenge the rules of the world, and also don’t require tons of hand-waving and wading through endless wiki’s to understand. The way energy and energy consumption work in the game is also deeply linked to the lore... a clue for new players would be to pay attention to the glowing crystal embedded in the Seed’s right hand!
The goal is to give the game an aesthetic and thematic coherence while still allowing for a ton of player freedom and creativity. We don’t view lore as a limitation... in TUG, “lore-friendly” shouldn’t imply restrictions or confinement, or limit the scope of a player’s imagination. Rather, the lore for TUG will serve as a framework in which you, the player, will be living out your own stories, both on an individual level and on a server level... Essentially, you’ll be crafting a new chapter in the story of TUG.
p.s. In fact, if something really cool happens to you in-game, we want you to tell us about it! Who knows, we might get get some of our artists to illustrate and feature some of these stories on our websites and forums eventually! :P
p.p.s. If you like these updates, please don’t forget to share them! Thanks guys!!!