Worldbuilding GalaCollider

Hi! Jess Haskins here, creative writer for GalaCollider. I wanted to introduce myself and share bit about what I’ve been working on as I build out the setting, backstory, and narrative arc of GalaCollider’s “Milkomeda” galaxy and the characters who inhabit it. Here’s me:

I’m a game designer and writer based in Brooklyn, and I first got attached to the project when I met Sebastian during the brief period he was living in New York. He attended a monthly drink night I host for local indie game developers, and as we chatted, I learned that he was making this multiplayer digital card and strategy game about exploring and settling star systems in the new galaxy formed by the merger of the Milky Way and Andromeda some four billion years in the future. Cool. Even cooler, he was looking for a writer and worldbuilder who could help develop the alien races and factions and a compelling story arc for this vast universe. Why, I do all those things. I signed on immediately.

Prior to joining the GalaCollider team, I worked on a game called Guns of Icarus Online, a multiplayer steampunk airship shooter by developer Muse Games, where I was a game designer, writer, and, almost accidentally, community lead. (As the first person to raise my hand and say, “hey, what are we doing to make sure players aren’t ****s to each other?” everything related to community and moderation thereafter became my job—including hand-crafting the game’s extensive profanity filter, but that’s another story.) It was a small studio and I had a closetful of hats, but my favorite role was developing the game’s setting: an alternate-history post-apocalypse where World War I never ended and polyglot factions of raiders, traders, scavengers, and air pirates battled over ravaged earth in steampunk-styled airships with lashings of dieselpunk.

From stitching satellite images into a map to creating the styles and cultures of the game’s six factions to naming every town and outpost, ship class, weapon, and tool—I particularly enjoy naming things—I handled every aspect of story and worldbuilding. It was work I loved, and I was eager for the chance to do it again with GalaCollider.

I have, let’s say, a thorough approach to worldbuilding. After taking stock of the existing notes and GalaCollider lore left by previous writers, my first task was to develop a comprehensive story bible. I created a “World” doc and gave it lofty headings like “Space” and “Time,” establishing facts like terms for units of time at the relevant scales (a megannus is one million years, and an eon is one billion years; the universe is presently 13.8 eons old, and into its 18th eon in the time of GalaCollider); the width of the combined Andromeda–Milky Way galaxy (roughly 300,000 light-years); the average distance between star systems (we settled on four light-years; our own nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, is about 4.37 light-years from Earth); and the time it would take to cross the galaxy at our (fictional) maximum speed using hyperlight “jumps” of about two light-years every 90 days (3,300 years—in the real world where light speed is a physical limit, it would of course take 300,000 years for information to make the trip, and considerably more if you wanted to take any mass along).

All of this is not just proof that I’m a massive nerd, although that’s true, but an attempt to determine the ground rules and boundaries of our universe, which shape the terrain from which everything else unfolds. A spacefaring civilization will develop very differently depending on whether the nearest habitable world is ten years’ travel away or 10,000, after all.

To bring things back to a more human scale, apart from figuring out details of gameplay like the distance between nodes on a game map and how long a match takes in “world time,” the eventual goal of all this table-setting is to create rich, compelling histories and engaging identities for the factions that the players will variously inhabit and battle against. I’m particularly excited about our first two factions: the Coalition, a diverse mix of disparate Sapiens species descended from humanity ↓

and the Sylith, an ancient alien civilization originating from the Andromeda galaxy →

More about them in the next post!

You can follow Jess on Twitter at @jess_haskins, or visit her site at jesshaskins.com.

The Art Hunt

Hey everyone! Elijah/Licoricefish here to talk about what I’ve been up to the past few weeks: art hunting for GalaCollider. So far I’ve had 13 new artists agree to us using their art!

By virtue of being a digital/expandable card game, GalaCollider naturally calls for large numbers of cards, each with an unique and appropriate piece of artwork. Right now on our online deckbuilder, GalaCollider has 83 core set cards and 60 sector cards. These are the current public cards, that anyone can check out and build decks with. However, this initial batch of cards is just the beginning! A multitude more are being conceptualized, developed, and tested!

A couple months ago, Sebastian (in charge of art direction) asked me if I’d like to work as a quasi-art producer for the game, scouting out great portfolios and corresponding with artists. Yes, I said, yes that sounds awesome. Since then, I’ve had a blast finding art for the game, it’s definitely one of my favourite things to do for GC! I’ll settle in with one of my favourite video game soundtracks and browse through amazing art for a couple hours at a time. I love it!

The art hunt has been an interesting challenge though, largely because we’re still working on securing funding for the game. We basically need to ask permission from the artists to use their work in our current prototype, to reach a licensing agreement once we are funded or leading up to a release.

It can be a difficult thing to give out your art for future payment, so HUGE kudos to all the artists who’ve agreed, thank you!! I know I’ll be filled with joy when I start seeing cards in GalaCollider with art that I helped find. And now, I’d love to show you all some of the beautiful work from the some of these recent additions to our family.

↑ From ‘Architecture Sketches’ by Jan Sarbort. Jan is a digital matte painter, concept artist, texture painter & photographer hailing form BC, Canada. He’s had plenty of experience at interactive media studios such as Bohemia Interactive (Czech Republic), Double Negative (UK), & currently, Method Studios (Canada). Even what he calls his ‘sketches’ are fleshed out and incredibly colourful. His fantastic scifi landscapes & starships caught my eye, and I’m so happy to have him involved in our project!

↑ Close Up Desert Planet by Ekaterinya Vladinakova, from a tutorial on her YouTube channel. Ekaterinya is a freelance illustrator hailing from California, USA. Her fantasy & scifi works are imaginative and filled with vivid colours, veering away from the photorealism of a lot of scifi artwork. I love the somewhat surreal quality of her work. If you get a chance, definitely check out her blog! Tons of great stuff on there.

↑ Floating City by Edouard Noisette. Edouard is a concept artist and matte painter, based in Paris. I really dig his artstyle, his pieces all feel very real. He’s had diverse experience working on short movies, clips, video games, set extension for photography, CD covers. He also has a diverse skillset, having worked in a variety of different softwares. His body of work is vast and diverse, with some focus on science fiction and fantasy. 

↑ Jellyfish City by Lasse Perälä. Lasse is a concept artist hailing from Finland. His work is filled with great perspectives and really absorbing textures. He uses some complex ideas but does an awesome job at making them come to life. A very elegant style! The cover image at the top of this post ↑ is also Lasse’s: Sci-fi City.

Once again, thank you so much to the artists who’ve agreed to having their art in the game! And if you’re reading this and are thinking “Hey, I’d like to have my art in GalaCollider,” then shoot me an email with some examples of your work at elijah@galacollider.com !

Besides the art hunt, I’ve still been hosting our monthly podcast and helping with our Twitter account. I’ve also been gearing up for a few gaming events in Montreal this fall, namely MIGF (Montreal Independent Games Festival) and MIGS (Montreal International Games Summit), which I’m very much looking forward to.

That’s all from me for now. If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter, details about our upcoming big open Alpha event will be sent out through there. Now, in the words of the great Razcrux: SPACE OUT.