Thursday, November 17, 2016

How Contango's Universe Came To Be

As some of you may already know, I promised to start writing about creating the Contango universe and challenges and decisions that generally, or not so generally, come with creating fully functioning fictional universes. But before I do that, I thought it would make sense to start with the story of how Contango universe came about.

Back in the dusty and forgotten 2015 we (Ed, Pete, Claudia, Simon and I) decided that we were now done with Galacto's Intolerant (our first and only game) and that we would work on a new game - one that we would all enjoy playing. (Unlike Galacto which no one ever could possibly enjoy playing (no, I mean it, it literally made children cry)). So, to our own surprise we came up with an idea of Meatspace - a top-down 4 player co-op sci-fi space ship heist game. I genuinely don't remember who came up with what part or aspect of this imaginary game. I remember it as a 5-way flow of consciousness with Ed writing stuff on the whiteboard and me drinking a lot. I don't even remember who suggested the name, could have been Simon. There is potentially a video record of this conversation somewhere on Ed's hard drive. He likes to record things he can use against us in court later.

Vertical slice concept art in da house!

The name came from Gibson's Neuromancer and is the opposite of cyberspace. Meatspace is where we all still live today. It made sense for the game because it had "space" in it and the game would have a lot of meat, ie dead clones (and probably not just clones). Our game was going to feature a gratuitous cloning tech and all your characters were meant to be clones of themselves. You could kill yourself at any time during the mission and be replaced with a copy of yourself from the beginning of the mission. You could then for example go up to your own still very warm corpse and get some still very warm gear from it. And so on.

A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant also dies a thousand time in the sci-fi future.

The universe was meant to have some kind of capitalist system with a wide gap between the rich and the poor and your characters were meant to be these sort of Robin Hood types that were trying to get to the ship carrying the Contingency Vault, rob it and bail out their home planet which was about to go bankrupt. That's pretty much as far as we had gone in developing the lore.

We than pitched this game to the UK Games Fund in hopes of getting some funding but instead got a pathetic little rejection letter that contradicted itself on why we were rejected. They gave at least some of that round's funding to a bunch of ye olde games companies that were already doing pretty well. Oh the (non-fiction) irony of the capitalist universe.

Now we're back in 2016, the best kind of year in human history. Ed and I decided to change up what we were doing with our company, YouTube channel and Patreon and as a part of that change we decided to do a webcomic. We had briefly toyed with and rejected the idea of doing a webcomic maybe about 5 years ago. It was pretty clear that Meatspace wasn't going to happen so Ed suggested that we do something with the universe that it was set in. It became Contango - the glorious place of disaster space capitalism.

We took what little lore we had already developed ie capitalism in space + cloning and added a whole bunch of lore on top. This is what the future entries in these series will concern themselves with - the world building on a rather large scale - the what and the why.

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