19 July 2022

World Building : The Problems Thereof

Calum Velum

I started MAG-10o as a project some years ago now and if I said it’s been a fun, easy journey, I’d be telling you lies. The truth is, the project as a whole has gone in circles, different directions and even name changes as I tried to find my way with it. The reality of MAG-100 as a project, until very recently, was that is has been more of an inquisitor to what I am doing, how I do it and even why. In short, it has been my creative reckoning.

If I had known this at the start, would I have even started it? Probably not.

Am I glad I did? Hell yes.

So ‘world building’…

MAG-100 is very much a world building project and if you don’t know what that is, think about a fantasy or science fiction novel and then think about designing and visualising the world/universe that it is set within. In other words, visualise the book though images and design. It’s kinda what they do in the movies, in selective chunks, and far more fully in video games. It’s a big job and this is where it can be (and has been for me) problematic.

Wordage wise, MAG-100 is traveling very well. The ‘book’ is at over 100 pages now, not including illustrations and the like, and covers a span of time through its various micro tales. Overall I am chuffed they way it has come together and as I continue to tweak and edit, the whole thing becomes more concise. The issues start arising when it comes to the visual side of the world building – I really have given myself enough rope to hang myself.

Putting it simply, there are so many elements that I can spend time developing that it’s hard to know where to start. In some ways it’s good, there’s enough there to never get bored, but in others it means that the focal point is fuzzy at best. My original intent was to do things tale by tale, dealing with the components within a tale before moving onto the next. That soon proved not quite workable – many of the tales are interlinked, sometimes directly, sometimes through the timeline, so it became messy and convoluted. So how was I going to move forward? One thing at a time? Maybe by theme? I tried a few variations but all of them ended up stagnating as it became more of a chore than a free flow of ideas. And after all, this is not a day job so it should be…. fun.

What I settled on, more or less, was to not do any of that and just work on ideas as they came to mind; I often sit down and start doodling on one idea which can flow into something else entirely, ultimately ending up with a page full of little ideas for a bunch of different things that I then come back to later. I realised that just because I am trying to visualise a world (universe?) through short tales, it does not necessarily mean that everything needs to be directly tied to the tales themselves. In fact, none of it does. The notion I stumbled upon was that the tales sit within the universe I am visualising; they can act as a prompt through the ideas within them but by no means do they need to be the anchor.

The idea works!

So, please enjoy some architecture concepts from a future’s past.

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