I’m Meryl, aka merylisk, the lore writer/narrative designer for TUG, and this is the second of our dev blog series! We’re going to start trying to do these every week now, to keep you guys in the loop with what we’ve been working on, as well as exciting things we have planned!
Today, I’m going to talk a bit about my process in creating the original language for TUG. I call it “TUGGLES” as a sort of inside joke with myself, but it’s actually an acronym that stands for “The Untitled Game Group Linguistics Exploration System.” It’s goofy, but it does accurately describe our goals in creating the language system.
I call it a “Group Linguistics Exploration System” not only because translating and decoding the language will hopefully be a collaborative effort amongst our players, but also because I eventually hope that players will add to and expand upon the language as the game grows. Similar to our philosophy in approaching the rest of the game’s lore, we want to create a framework for open-ended storytelling rather than a rigid linear narrative.
We’ve always envisioned TUG as a game where players will have tons of freedom to create and define their own reality within the game. Initially, we didn’t want to use a naming system at all… we wanted players to be able to name things in the game as they saw fit, including lore elements and deity figures. However, once we started creating documentation for a lot of these elements, not having names for anything obviously got very confusing very quickly.
We realized these two things didn’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. Game elements could be given “official” names, but players would in no way be obligated to stick to those names, especially if we framed our names for things as archaic remains from an ancient civilization. Some players will keep the old names, we reasoned, while others will create new ones, similar to how the ancient Romans renamed all the Greek deities, for example.
Prior to this, we had been using Latin as our internal naming system for things. However, we hit a point where we had to decide, for the sake of consistency, if we wanted to use grammatically correct Latin, or go for a more stylized, Latin-based “fake” Latin, if you will. That was when I suggested the idea of scrapping Latin entirely, and creating a completely original language for TUG. Thus, TUGGLES was born.
The grammar and syntax for TUGGLES are entirely original. I suppose they’re loosely inspired in some ways by Turkish and Czech, because I have modest backgrounds in both languages, but I tried very hard to keep the syntax as simple as possible, and the sentence structure relatively close to English. For a lot of stylistic decisions, I went with my gut or followed my creative instincts.
Overall, I wanted to create the impression that the language is a pidgin of real-world ancient languages. So the vast majority of the vocabulary is drawn from (or at least inspired by) existing languages, and then modified to fit TUGGLES’ grammar and verb forms. Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly cobbling together a relatively short (but constantly expanding) dictionary, which draws from Latin, ancient Greek, Arabic, Coptic, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Japanese, Old Nahuatl, Old Norse, Tlingit, Tamil, Navajo, Tibetan, and Proto-Indo-European, among others. It’s been quite an undertaking, to say the least, but also one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on!
I’ve been releasing passages written in the runed language over the last few months to get a feel for what the learning curve will be like. The runes I’ve been sharing are designed to slowly help players to parse out the grammar and syntax, and begin piecing together the vocabulary. Some of the speculation and translation attempts have been spot-on so far! Others have been completely off the mark. Eventually, the community will have access to a large enough sample size for attentive translators to begin to determine which is which. I’m very curious to see how long it will be before the community can reliably and accurately translate the runes!
Of course, players will at no point be obligated to learn or decode the language themselves to fully explore or appreciate the world of TUG. Once the core language has been translated, I don’t doubt it will all get put on a wiki somewhere for everyone else to reference (in fact, it’s already starting to), and that’s totally fine! And certainly, many of the lore secrets they hold will become common knowledge among players, eventually.
However, those dedicated, curious linguists among you who become fully versed in the ancient tongue (especially those who got there first!) will surely be valued and sought after within the TUG community for their translation abilities, as new runed artifacts and ruins continue to be discovered within the game! So, if this sort of thing is your passion… now’s your chance to place those skills at premium!
Good luck, Seedlings… or as the ancient Zerahei would say, “Hafator mazz’ael!”
That’s a freebie for you guys. 😉
p.s. The language does have an actual lore-based name besides TUGGLES. And here’s another hint: this name has already been revealed in one of the runes! WHOA WHAT I KNOW RIGHT
I’m John, aka Nekochu, the lead designer for TUG, and this is the first in a series of developer blogs we’ll be sharing with you guys! We hope these updates will be interesting and insightful to both you TUG veterans who have been with us for awhile, as well as newcomers to our community. This blog will cover our progress on various game systems, talk about how we approach design and development, and discuss some of our planned future endeavors with the world of TUG!
I feel like I should be calling all the readers a clever name… like true believers, the devoted, or maybe Nerdlings? Anyway, tweet me @X_Nekochu_X and we’ll try to come up with a good title for everyone who is on board!
So today, I wanted to talk about our crafting system. We just got successfully Greenlit on Steam, and early access to the TUG Survival Games is now open for purchase. It is in the Survival Games that TUG’s developing crafting system is currently featured.
Crafting in TUG is vital to your survival. You start in an open world as a Seedling with absolutely nothing. By searching around and trying out some things, you’ll quickly realize that some objects are scavengable and can provide basic resources. Laying these scavenged resources out on the ground and testing various combinations will yield the first set of basic tools. By using these tools, you can find and harvest new resources and try new crafting combinations to discover crude weapons that can be used to battle other Seedlings.
When designing TUG’s crafting system, we began by looking at its predecessors to try to find what works and what doesn’t work. Most systems tend to have a grid with patterns, and trees leading down branches of craftable recipes. In the early design phases, we used this as a starting point for thinking about TUG’s crafting system.
In this early mock up, we were trying to lay out some of our more difficult design concepts, like having a one-to-one size ratio for items in the backpack and on the crafting space. Through these early iterations, we quickly found the limitations of this grid-based table and inventory system–namely, how much of a disconnect this heavy UI created for the player’s experience. However, using this as a starting point helped us identify the space requirements for future iterations on elements such as tables, crafting stations, and inventory.
We never wanted to have a full UI system for the crafting process. From the beginning, we have always wanted to keep it very natural and intuitive for the player. Early crafting should capture the feel of a scavenger or early explorer gathering items and sorting them in a natural workspace for assembly. So for crafting crude tools, we decided to create something that would seem like a natural workbench. Our first version of the crafting system in-game used a special tree stump and flat rock object that served as crafting stations for players.
These objects served two purposes: a nice flat surface to lay out your resources, and a tactical position for players hoping to strike other unsuspecting players trying to craft. It was an interesting take on the heightened danger of making a choice to craft or to hide, but we found that by adding this extra layer into the steps, we slowed down the pace of the survival game experience.
At this stage of iteration, we also found some issues with item generation and scavenged resources. Our original idea was to have the scavenged resources be a true one-to-one generation, which meant if you needed a particular stone as part of a crude tool recipe, you would find it lying on the ground. As you can imagine, those resources were quite small, and we encountered a collision issue where some resources never generated at all in the environment due to their size. This led us to instead create parent models for many scavenged resources.
We still needed to make it seem as if the player could scavenge a resource with nothing but their hands, but we wanted the parents for the resources to be a bit larger and easier to spot than the resources they yielded. Thus items like wood sticks come from a tree sapling, while stones come from a small yet more visually readable terrain rock.
We still had the issue of the pacing of the game, so our next iteration was the removal of the crafting stations and a return to the roots of the crafting experience: laying resources anywhere and crafting on the ground. However, in returning to this method of crafting, the bug of smaller resources disappearing during generation reappeared. The issue was that the collision for smaller objects sometimes caused resources to slip under the terrain and become lost–quite a frustrating problem for players in an environment with already scarce resources and full of would-be hunters! Luckily, thanks to some ingenuity from our coders, we were able to enforce some stricter physics rules and mitigate this issue.
This leads us to our current version of crafting in TUG. Once you gather the right resources, you can lay them out anywhere on the ground and start crafting the tools or weapons you need to survive! As for the future of the crafting system, we hope to soon tackle our inventory system and bring it inline with the same advances we have made to the crafting system. We want to capture the feeling of spreading out your items on the ground, or at least offer a more intuitive way of sorting through your stuff while still keeping to the logic of one-to-one size relationships.
Stay tuned for more updates and dev blogs from the team!