Guild Chat - Episode 60

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Guild Chat - Episode 60

A Bug in the System
Rubi Bayer
Clayton Kisko
Jessica Price
Cameron Rich
March 9, 2018
Official video

The following is an unofficial, player-written transcript of the episode. The accuracy of this transcription has not been verified by ArenaNet.

Guild Chat episode 60 aired on March 9, 2018. Rubi sits down with some of the developers involved with A Bug in the System to discuss this release.

A Bug in the System trailer [6:26][edit]

[Sweeping shots of an Inquest lab.]

Inquest announcer: Welcome, krewe members, to another great day in Lab Alpha 1-9! Creating yesterday's tomorrow: today!

Taimi: Bad news. Zero idea where the base is, but I did find the name of a scientist there.

Commander: So if we find the scientist, we find the base Joko's using to launch his attacks.

Kito: One of their convoys just received an unusual order to delay their arrival. Taking their place should get you inside.

[Music: Jaunty heist music]
[Text appears next to a shot of Kito: "Starring: THE MAN with THE PLAN"]

Braham: The commander leading me around in chains... uh-uh. Not a chance.

[A shot of Braham: "One GRUMPY Guardian"]
[A shot of Rox: "A FUR-OCIOUS Feline Fighter"]
[A shot of the Commander inside an Inquest golem: "And the Commander as D. COY"]





[The above text fades, leaving only "NEW LEGENDARY DAGGER" behind. Cuts to footage of an asura wielding Claw of the Khan-Ur. We then see Braham, Rox, and the Commander approaching a red asura gate, when the video suddenly glitches to black. The music halts.]

Inquest announcer (distorted): A friendly reminder from the administration, rumors of invading forces in the area are false.

[Music: Fear Not This Night (creepy version)]
[Sweeping shots of abandoned, tar-covered Inquest labs. The creepy male singer's voice swells as the camera pans over a charr's corpse. We see glimpses of Awakened in the distance, amidst a sickly yellow-green haze. Final shot is a framed picture of Joko, whose face seems to move ever so subtly just before the shot fades to the title card.]



MARCH 6, 2018

Guild Chat studio [8:46][edit]

Rubi Bayer: Hi guys, and happy Friday, and welcome back to another episode of Guild Chat. I'm your host Rubi and we're talking about "A Bug in the System" today. Let's jump right in because we have a whole bunch of stuff to talk about.

Rubi: You guys have had an interesting few weeks... Please don't cry.

Clayton Kisko: Many Bugs, in the system.

Rubi: It's ok, you are fine. I'll let you guys go down the line and introduce yourselves and talk about what you do here at ArenaNet, and what you worked on for this episode.

Clayton Kisko: I'm Clayton Kisko, team lead game designer for episode 2 so I worked on the open-world stuff and then split time and tons of meetings and making sure that things were going as planned.

Rubi: Thank you.

Clayton: Yeah, yeah.

Jessica Price: I'm Jessica Price. I am a story editor on living world which means getting a lot of people in a room, and making them agree on a storyline for the overall season, getting together with designers and writers and making sure that the outlines for individual episodes work for narrative and for gameplay doing script polishes to make sure everything's in a consistent voice and tone and, I don't know so, a ton of other stuff. So much stuff.

Cameron Rich: Hi, I am a Camera, no wait, I'm Cameron Rich, I'm a game designer, I mostly just implement different styles of content. For this episode I worked on the open-world as well as some of the instance story content as well.

Rubi: And you moved over partway through, we'll have to talk about that a little bit, but I want to talk about this trailer first because this thing, this is one of the best trailers we've done and huge props to everybody involved. It went through a lot of iterations though.

Jessica: It did, I mean it really was a team effort - like every change that got us closer to it working came from somebody different. So I wrote the original script for it, and I was like "we need to do a trailer where the first half is a heist" and then it's like "oh crap we thought we were doing a heist", and it turns out we thought we were in a heist movie and we're actually in a zombie outbreak movie so that was the genesis of it, but then the way I had written it didn't really convey the tonal change enough and so we spent a lot of time trying to get it right, iterating it, it just wasn't gelling.

Jessica: And then someone in the cinematics team, I think it was Jason Byfield, came back with a cut where he had put the second half that's in the inquest lab, he'd set it to the Lana Del Rey version of "I know you" from "Sleeping Beauty", which gave it this sort of eerie, and he'd slowed it down and distorted it, and ended on this picture of Joko, which gave it this really eerie sort of sarcastic like "Joko's taunting you" feel, and as soon as that came back the whole thing really started to gel. But then we couldn't license that song, so somebody else on marketing, I don't remember who, suggested well what if we re-recorded a creepy version of "Fear Not This Night" and so there just kept being these ideas coming from different people on different teams like "oh what if we did this" and each one took us a little bit closer to what it was, but yeah I -this is not true- but I feel like we had as many meetings about the trailer as we had about the actual episode to get it right.

Rubi: It did feel like it.

Clayton: There is definitely a moment in one of our meetings, in the meeting room adjacent to the meeting that you're in with cinematics, and just hearing the uproar of excitement going "they got something really good on their hands right now".

Rubi: Everyone go over there!

Jessica: Yeah, that version with the Lana Del Rey song actually went internally viral. People who were like um you know, commerce or whatever, were like "oh my gosh have you seen the trailer!" and it was getting sent around internally, which was when we knew that we were really on the right track —it wasn't just us— we had something really magical there.

Clayton: Yeah well.

Rubi: I remember in, there was a marketing meeting, where we were talking about "you know, here's what's going on with the trailer, we're considering a couple of different ways, we're considering maybe doing this song, or the creepy version of Fear Not This Night... and there was just this moment where all the air was sucked out of the room cuz everybody went "Ooooh. You have to do that!". Everybody was so excited and I feel like it turned out as awesome as we thought it was going to when we heard that.

Clayton: For sure. When you have that passion/excitement behind something like, that whenever you're creating, the end result is gonna usually mimic like that level.

Jessica: Yeah, well there was a lot of really good —we'd listened to— feedback from players where they're like "we want to know what the features in each release are" which is hard when you're trying to do a movie style trailer that's supposed to be, basically, a mini story in and of itself to provide a list of features. So for a long time we were like "well can we put it at the end after that final screen" but we really liked the sort of like elegiac feeling of just ending on the music being quiet, and that still screen, and I think it was Jason Byfield again, came up with almost treating the list of features like it was part of the preparation for pulling off the heist, and he put it with the beat of the music.

Rubi: That was one of my favorite moments.

Jessica: Yeah, it works suddenly, so a lot of really cool

Rubi: It worked extremely well, and watching it evolve over weeks and weeks, just going in, and even though I missed the version you're talking about —and I'm a little crabby about it—

Jessica: I don't even know if it still exists.

Rubi: With my luck it probably does not

Clayton: Evidence has been burned, it is gone for good.

Rubi: I'm so sad because I can imagine how much fun that was, and I wish we could just license everything that we want.

Cameron: It was really cool seeing the reaction around the studio when we finally sent the last version out, because we got everybody into a room for a meeting and we were gonna show it on the big screen... and we didn't have audio! And we were like "no no no no", we can't show this trailer without the music, and later that day, as the link was being sent around, you just heard all around the office like "oh my gosh", "this is so cool"

Jessica: And people run over to my desk and be like "that was amazing" and I'm like that's not me, go talk to cinematics, they're the ones that

Clayton: The fan reaction is also a really big important part, and I think because they're so behind that direction that you guys have decided to go through, I think we're gonna try to be doing stuff like that in the future.

Rubi: That was a conversation that we had internally as well because you know Z posted that we're holding off a little bit we're going to... I had been so excited to get that trailer in front of the community for weeks.

Rubi: We're trying to make this call and we made that call "okay, we're gonna hold off" and I just...

Cameron: All of us had our button on the Twitter, ready to share, but...

Rubi: We were ready. We were so excited to get that and it hurt to wait,

Jessica: It did.

Rubi: but it was for the best, and that's actually the next thing that I wanted to talk about.

Rubi: [You guys have five seconds for "Bugs in the System" jokes, so if there are any that you haven't made yet...]

Jessica: No.

Rubi: But it was, and we've talked about this, it was in the service of making the game better, because you guys were doing a lot of new things and bringing a lot of things to life that we haven't done before.

Clayton: This is one of the most ambitious episodes we've done, not only narratively and the amount of dialogue, but from you know the amount of gameplay and content that we put in, and the uniqueness of the content in terms of moving platforms with elevators and and a boat. And then we have instance-to-instance-to-instance kind of stuff going on. We've put a lot on our plates, and so we needed that extra time to polish it make sure everything was working well. I don't know if we we're gonna go into why specifically, but we did talk about instance-to-instance-to-instance being an issue, and something we found out.

Rubi: That's something I would actually kind of like us to talk about, because that was just an interesting way that you had to test it, and bringing that into the game again made the game better, but there was a lot going on.

Clayton: Yeah, we have not done it to that level before, and when we found the issue we realized "this is something we needed to fix" and so we wanted to get the fix, we're very confident in that fix, and then the next day would go down and be like "okay, it wasn't fixed". The unique thing about this problem is that because it would take a full build, and we couldn't just like iterate on it very quickly and use internal tools, it took a while to keep testing stuff. So we had to actually upgrade our own tech tools to be able to test this thing more rapidly, and it was only then that we were like "okay yeah this is a much more complex issue than we originally thought" and so Charlie[verification requested], our gameplay programmer, did some really deep diving into that code, had to like really like learn that code for the first time, and understand its intricacies and then figure out a fix for that.

Cameron: It's a bit like trying to plug the holes in a leak and just seeing another one spring up over here cuz every time we found a fix, something wrong would happen, and it's just kudos to Charlie because he just worked his butt off to get it fixed.

Jessica: This episode was so ambitious in terms of, like Rata Primus is as big as Rata Sum... we used Rata Sum as the basis to start from that map. It's massive, and there's so much going on, just the scope of it... There were so many things that could have gone wrong and didn't.

Rubi: In some ways, this is a pretty good scenario. You had the bug that kept evolving, and for a while you were limited. You were testing it once or twice a day, that's all you could do for a while?

Clayton: So that's why we had to upgrade our own internal controls to be able to test this much quicker. And then the other interesting thing about it is that we went through so many iterations of trying to fix this bug, that when we fixed the bug it was still broken because of an earlier fix that we tried. And so we were like "oh my gosh, get rid of that thing that we tried to fix it before" and then that actually fixed the whole thing. So it was like, all in all 5 to 10 extra little bits of problems like Cam was talking about, as you're closing one leak, one is popping up and then one of the leaks we tried to close we had to get rid off, and then that fixed everything.

Clayton: And then to add to your comment Jessica about how big Rata Primus is... we found when Aaron[verification requested] was developing that instance that we had an idea of how that gameplay was going to function, but because of the size of it we realized that there were some really empty parts in between the major beats that we had set, and so he had to actually go in and try to re-conceptualise his design to fill in that space a little bit. And it works all for the better, but yes it, in terms of ambitious, it was big, there was a lot going on there.

Cameron: It was actually really scary, the days leading up to release, I know me personally I was just like "oh gosh, what's gonna go wrong?", "what fires are we gonna see pop up"... And the reception to all of the things that we kind of took that risk on has been so positive it's made it all worth it.

Rubi: I just realized, because we're familiar, and we're familiar with what was going on —we didn't think about it— we never actually explained what was going wrong with the instance-to-instances.

Clayton: Yes, so what was happening is that —sorry there's just so much— where you go from instance to instance, we were, and this was not on normal play, we noticed that on replay that when you got out of an instance in Chapter five —spoilers by the way...

Rubi: I said I was gonna —we're gonna talk about spoilers you guys—

SPOILER ALERT!: [klaxon sound effect]

Clayton: So when you're fighting Lonai, and you're jumping between the different instances, it's not capturing what quest you are on, and so it thought you were on the whatever quest on the replay you started. So if you played out of order, you were starting the episode with chapter one's quest goal, and then when you got into that replay, instead of saying kill the knight here, it would say "oh get the mail from Kito". And so we're like "what's going on", and what's so crazy is that our replay, in order, is coded a little bit differently, or I —I don't know what I'm saying here because I'm not a programmer— but it's affected by the code differently than a replay out of order. So replay in order, replay out of order, and then play through naturally for the first time, is all very different and is affected by the content that we put in differently, and so we had to —I don't know it's like when you're a kid you're playing your consoles, and your controllers are all like bees nests of stuff, and you're pulling everything out to see where it goes, it was a bit like that.

Rubi: That was the best description.

Clayton: We fixed that.

Rubi: And it was easy!

Clayton: Uh yeah, no no not at all.

Jessica: No no, we're banning that word.

Rubi: You guys were heroes. Seriously, I know how long you guys worked, and the long hours you guys worked and everybody looked so tired.

Clayton: It was Jessica who hit the nail on the head —it was a team effort, but it's not only this team either, we had other teams and other programmers and everybody's just come to our aid, and jumped in and helped and yeah we were super grateful for that.

Rubi: Everyone pitching in was a huge factor that made a big difference.

Rubi: I also wanted to talk about the weather bug, just because that one tickles me —and I get a kick out of it— but that was

Jessica: ...the aliens...

Rubi: Yeah! Oh the aliens, that's right um, it's —but we're not saying it's aliens—

Jessica: Aliens.

Rubi: Not that we're saying it's aliens, but the weather bug in the meta event was just one of those weird things that...

Cameron: Yeah, so it only ever happened whenever you would go to a new map like a new instance of the open world map, so we never really saw it a lot during our initial testing because we never saw a new map pop up after everybody had already done things. And so you would start the meta —spoiler alert again if you guys haven't done it yet— and the storms would start to appear around the island and so you'd go off and you do the first objectives and then it would wait a little bit before giving you the next part of the meta. During that time it would just change the weather back to normal. So it's a sunny day, there's not a whole lot of rain going on, but the meta event would be like "the storms are getting worse, you've got to go and solve this problem" and the Charr and the village would actually reference that and have this dialogue about "oh what's going on", "it's getting scary out here"...

Jessica: It was the storms in your heart Cameron.

Rubi: Where were you two weeks ago! You were dealing with the aliens.

Jessica: I wasn't. That wasn't me.

Clayton: No, that was the other thing. Cameron, if you want to talk about the aliens that descended on the Olmakhan village...

Rubi: I just learned about this, I'm fascinated.

Cameron: Its... it was hilarious. As we were going through and kind of polishing up the last parts of our episode, our map artist was putting the finishing touches on the Sandswept Isles —which is one of the most beautiful maps. We were just in the middle of testing one day, walking around, and there is this gigantic human, sitting like this [gestures] looking out over the horizon. We're looking at him like what... what is that? He's not targetable, we can't click on him, and in our internal tools we could see that no one had specifically placed him there, so we're just sitting here like "What is happening?" "Did one of the props get accidentally changed over to this model?" and so we were looking around for a good half the day, and then our map artist just came by and we were like "what, what is this?" And he said "oh I'm testing lighting" and he had put these creatures —because we'd found them all over the map at this point, just all over— he was putting these creatures around testing how lighting would affect the different character models, because that was one of the more polished things that happens later on in development, and so, for a while, we thought that aliens had descended upon the Sandswept Isles, and we—

Clayton: Amazonians.

Cameron: —were going to have to change our narrative.

Rubi: Yeah this is not how I pictured the Six coming back at all.

Clayton: I think what happened was Dan[verification requested], our environment artist, was also working with Justin[verification requested]. Justin was doing some of the shallow water areas, and so when Dan put these in onto a layer... We originally said "Hey Dan, can you get rid of this" once we figured out what it was, then I was like "sure, sure I'll get rid of that" but when Justin was working I don't think he had the same save, and so he was unknowingly putting them back in, so we went about like a week or two with these things supposedly gone but then they would just show up again, and we were like "okay, seriously get the giant aliens out of this map please", because we were also getting crazy bugs from QA like "yeah... Giants. Why?" and we were like, "we're working on it". Or people would come up to us—

Cameron: Or like a fountain in the middle of the ocean that just kept reappearing.

Rubi: What was this?

Clayton: Charlie was working on some stuff, and we have these folders that allow us to put some stuff in there but it won't shift to live, and so in a lot of instances when we test it, it doesn't show up. But in some cases when we test it another way, it will show up and it freaked out everybody because there was this giant floating fountain, coming out of nowhere, with architecture that doesn't match the Olmakhan or the Inquest. So that caused a little bit of stir, but we quickly deleted it. So yeah, this episode we found a lot of stuff like "why is that there?"...

Jessica: Just weird, weird stuff.

Rubi: The fact that all of this randomness was happening, you had this insane instance-to-instance thing that you kept having to struggle with, just because of the way things were working, and all of this stuff showing up, and other bugs that you fix, like the AI bug that we were talking about earlier —which we should talk about. Fixing all of that stuff, and still developing this episode, and with a holiday break in the middle where the office is just closed for a while... I am in awe that you guys shipped this thing.

Clayton: That's a challenge. Yeah we tried to scope for it "everybody's gonna be gone during this time", but the other thing that we can't really predict is the flu this season. It's kind of boring to talk about, but—

Jessica: We watched it come across... we have a giant room. We've an open office seating plan with rows, and it started at the other end of the room and, week by week, it took out each consecutive row. So I sit in the little leads row with Lexie[verification requested], Linsey[verification requested], Crystal[verification requested] and stuff ... and we're all like "it's coming for us, it's coming for us!".

Rubi: How much can we get done, it's four rows away!

Jessica: Exactly.

Clayton: It started with fractals, and then it started hitting our team, and then it hit like episode one's team, and the next and next and ... yeah, I feel bad for the leads seeing this wave of flu and-

Jessica: It's worst to be last! No no no...

Cameron: I legitimately considered moving my desk out into the hallway one week, just so that it might skip me—

Jessica: You would have been smart to do that.

Rubi: No one would have faulted you for this. Set up in one of the small meeting rooms at that point. Just never come out, barricade the door with hand sanitizer.

Clayton: Flu knew what it was doing too, because it would always take out someone when we needed him that week. When this instance-to-instance bug happened, we're like "okay let's get Charlie"... we get an email "Charlie's sick". Okay. And he's out for a week, you know what I mean, and then I think we needed Tyler[verification requested] to fix some stuff, and then he was out by that bug, and Cameron you got hit by it.

Jessica: It was malicious. It was focused. It was intentional—

Rubi: And the flu put these big models in the game. See it wasn't aliens, it was the flu.

Jessica: I mean the flu might be an alien—

Cameron: —that's the twist.

Rubi: Okay so this is conspiracy theory Guild Chat, I kind of dig it.

Rubi: Let's talk about the AI with the NPCs just a second.

Cameron: So we've, we've been working on this episode for a while, since before Path of Fire shipped. And as we were developing this new tech for Path of Fire, one of the things was upgrading our AI so that our creatures could be a little bit more intelligent about how they moved and where they moved in combat. Could be. For some reason, during conversations where creatures are just standing there and they're talking to each other and the player character's talking, we would just have, like, Rox suddenly start moonwalking away. Just in the middle of the conversation, she would still be saying her lines--[crosstalk]

Cameron: --yeah, and she's just like, "Getting out of here! Not comfortable in this situation anymore." Or we'd be in combat, and we'd be running and you'd have the, uh, like Rox and Braham and Boticca following you down the lane, and suddenly Braham would just start kind of like, side-skipping off to the side, and then he'd come back for a little bit and be like, "Okay I'm back in line." It was ridiculous, and there were so many times where we were just sitting there like, "Why. Why is this happening?" There's no rhyme or reason to it, you would just see it happen randomly, even on creatures who literally had no script attached to them other than, "Hey, sit here and like, play this animation--"

Rubi: And do nothing else.

Cameron: Right, and participate in this one conversation but don't do anything else. And suddenly they would just be moonwalking backwards.

Jessica: Scarab Plague. Scary.

Cameron: I don't remember exactly what was causing it but uh, but I think we fixed it. That, or they just like learned that we were on to them.

Rubi: They can see us. It's like Toy Story, when we're not looking--

Jessica: You give them a little bit of intelligence, and they look around at the environment that we put them in and what's gonna happen to them and they're like--

Rubi: I feel like it was working as intended, frankly. I mean [crosstalk] I'd moonwalk away too. I know how this ends, I want nothing to do with this.

Rubi: I have to confess, I'm honestly a little sad that you'd fixed it because I never got to see it. But if there's video, somebody let me know.

Clayton: Maybe we can find it. If that evidence is not burned yet, we could find it for you.

Cameron: I'm sure there's a bug in our system that we can check for.

Jessica: My favorite thing in episode 2 is the shredder golem in the inquest cube that's just, since everything has gone to hell in a handbasket it's just shredding all the incriminating documents, and that's documents flying all over the place and stuff. And I mean like, the shredder golem gets a lot of our videos.

Clayton: And he doesn't care either, right. Like, you just walk up around, he's just like, "I gotta get this done. This has to happen now."

Jessica: I think he's, is he the one--

Cameron: It's the Prime Directive.

Jessica: Is he the one that's going, "Go away, go away, go away"?

Clayton: Either that or another one. But there's a couple ones. Like one's like hitting his head on the ground, like they've all gone haywire. Yeah. Aaron did a really great job creating some those scenes.

Rubi: A lot of the dialog--and, you know, we were talking before about all of these little side things going on--that some of it feels like the player character is, we're speaking for the player character in a good way. Like when we're needling Braham about being in chains, because you guys, you know you all felt that way, don't lie.

Jessica: It's a really fine line, and Braham--you know, I came in just as we were sort of reenvisioning what Season Four was gonna be, so like my first day here I literally got pulled out of my orientation meeting to go into a story-breaking meeting. It's like, "No, we got to figure out what we're doing with Season Four, we're gonna do it right now."

Rubi: That's some deep-end stuff right there.

Jessica: Oh I mean like, I'm not sure that I've actually signed all the forms that allow me to work here, 'cause they pulled me out of the orientation meeting.

Rubi: We'll have to check on that later. You might need that.

Clayton: Those story meetings are brutal, right? Like they're weeks at a time, all day--

Jessica: Eight hours a day in the room, in a room in Five-Six. Conference room Five-Six was my home for several weeks.

Rubi: Really?

Jessica: Yeah.

Rubi: Five-Six?

Jessica: Yeah. Eight hours a day with Mo and Z and Tom and Linsey and a bunch of the other stakeholders, trying to figure out, like, what is gonna happen in this season, because we had shifted direction, and so like there was already gameplay done for episodes 1 & 2 that we had to retrofit into whatever we came up with.

Rubi: Mmm.

Jessica: So yeah. So that was fun, but one of the things that, you know, for, for me and for Tom our narrative director coming in fairly recently, is there's a bunch of stuff that's been done that we have to reckon with, and one of those things is Braham's attitude. And we didn't want to just have him have a, you know, complete change of heart and be buddy-buddy with the Commander. We wanted the evolution of his relationship with the Commander to feel real. So like, there's a lot of narrative work that we're having to do to get them to a point where the relationship is different from what it's been. But, you know, it's like we also do want to have a little fun with it and give the players some catharsis. But the other thing is we have to be really careful with the player character. Like, most of the interesting dialogue doesn't come from the player character, right, it comes from the NPC's. Because when you have a game like-- like Halo or like Bioshock where you are playing a specific character that's already predetermined, people will accept a lot more personality and a lot more actions that aren't what they would do from that sort of character.

Rubi: Right, because that's a pre-made thing that's not an extension of yourself.

Jessica: Right, but when you have a game like an MMO where you get to create your character, people get upset if the character does stuff that they don't feel is moral or like makes jokes that they think are dumb or whatever, so we have to walk this line of trying to make the PCs dialogue interesting, while also not, allowing them to still be a blank that people can project themselves into, so like every so often we'll slip in a little bit of stuff that we feel like okay, 95% of our player base will feel like they would have done that, they would have given Braham some crap there and you know if the 5% that's like I never would have said that, we can deal with yeah.

Clayton: We're, we're flowing with the ideas at the end, the Commander and Braham went hug it out—

Cameron: Oh yeah.

Clayton: —like that was a thing.

Cameron: That was gonna be a cinematic.

Clayton: Yeah, yeah and then that was probably not totally correct but I just—

Jessica: Yeah.

Clayton: —liked the idea of, like, in like you jerking the chain the anybody and in the end you guys were like just hugging it out.

Jessica: It felt a little too facile, felt a little too like we hadn't earned it yet. And it does feel like you know you have the commander who is essentially been forced into the role of a military commander or whatever that, her background. Uhm, and then you have Braham who's kind of a teenager and stuff and so like ... It felt like they would have this heart-to-heart, but they would both be at some level of still kind of uncomfortable with the fact that they were having 'em.

Rubi: Well yeah, and that makes sense and that's like you said with everything that's gone on over the past season or so it doesn't make sense for him to be like okay we're cool now.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rubi: You know, let's, let's just have a little hugging. Everything is fine. I still kind of wanna see that.

Clayton: I know me too.

Jessica: Play and find out.

Rubi: That is, that should be just the name of the whole show, play and find out. I don't know, we don't know, we will find out.

Rubi: So, do you want to talk some more about narrative development because there was just, not general, about this episode. (laughing) Tell us everything about your job.

Jessica: Oh boy!

Rubi: No, just like you said and we've talked about this on the show before a lot of what came before was a moving target,

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: Because you're working on something, then something else that's about to go live is changing and you have to go back and retrofit, and there was just a lot of conversations around like Taimi's character development.

Jessica: Oh yeah, I mean, part of the thing that Tom is really hardcore about, and I mean, I am too, is that we want to, like, - you don't need your characters to actually behave and talk like real people. Like, people who are not screenwriters often think you want naturalistic dialogue, you want people to talk just like they talk in real life. Nobody wants to hear that, we're not good at it, like, we're not good at talking, I mean, as a species.

Rubi: This is why we have people like you.

Jessica: I'm not good at talking, but you know, there's a lot of "um"s, there's a lot of like going back and fixing, editing stuff you've previously said, so dialogue is still elevated even when you're trying to make it sound naturalistic and characters are, you know, you don't want characters that actually behave exactly like real people because real people aren't consistent. You know people complain if fictional characters are all over the place but real people aren't consistent. So anyway, but one of the things that we did want to do was be true to the integrity, and I know this is going to sound pretentious as hell, but like, be true to the integrity of what's happening to the characters. So like, if Taimi gets captured by an evil lich who might either kill her or torture her to death or kill her and reawaken her as a zombie, like, that shouldn't be an excuse for you and your character to be like "Oh cool, now we get to go on a fun rescue Taimi adventure!" right, like it should feel like "This is bad, and there should be lasting consequences for it." And so there's also a lot of there's a lot of character setup that's going on right now. Like, you know, reading some of the feedback, some of the people were like "Oh my gosh, there's so much character development" and then some people were like "There was like no character development," which is fascinating to me because there was a ton, but a lot of it is invisible at this point because it's setup. A lot of it is a line of dialogue that we're going to call back to in a later episode, a lot of it is a character's reaction is maybe a little off, doesn't seem quite, you know, right, and that's because there's something else happening there that you don't know about, and so yeah, so it's a lot of setup going on in this episode. Like episode 1 was basically just sort of, "It's the start of a new season, reestablish who these characters are, what are their goals, what do they care about." Episode 2 was a lot of groundwork, so yeah.

Rubi: And that makes sense. Something that I had noticed, speaking of character consistency, we had talked before about how heartbreaking Taimi, well, how what a good job Debi Derryberry did when Taimi was in trouble in the last episode and I noticed that when she heard that her friends were with the Inquest and that that crestfallen,

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: It was it was a callback to, Taimi's, she's very brash and she's got this whole, you know, "I'm the Wonder kid" and,

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: But when stuff happens, when it when things go really really wrong. that kid comes out underneath and even as she grows older you can still hear that.

Jessica: Yeah, and you have to think about how much of her "I'm the wonder kid" is fronting right,

Rubi: Oh yeah, totally.

Jessica: She's, she is, she's super super smart, she's got a once-in-a-generation mind, and she has this degenerative disease that she can't cure. Like, her body is betraying her and all the science in the world she hasn't been able to fix that. And so a lot of the like "I'm really smart" is a reaction to this thing that eats at her, that there's the problem she can't solve.

Rubi: Yeah and there's sort of finding a silver lining, compensating there.

Jessica: Yeah

Rubi: You, were you down here for our first VA [voice actor] sessions?

Jessica: Oh yeah. Okay. The Debi session for episode 1, I know we're here to talk about episode 2, but man the the session for episode 1 was hard. Like the director told us, he like turned off all the lights in the booth so that she couldn't see us and he told us, he like switches off the microphone, and he's like, "once we start this section where she's terrified and she's sobbing and she's breaking down, if you have any notes, like, give them to the production assistant like whisper them to her, and she will bring them to me. I don't want you talking. If Debi comes out for a break don't make eye contact with her, don't talk to her, because you guys are gonna want to break the mood, you're gonna want to make her feel better, and like she'll sense that, if, and we're not gonna get the sort of performance we need. And like, it was hard. I wanted to strangle Phil the director[verification requested]. I'm like "Why are you hurting her?!" You know, like, Debi actually has this little girl voice even when she's not acting.

Rubi: I was stunned the first time I talked to her outside of the recording, I was, "Oh, that's you."

Jessica: Yeah, you're hearing this like this little girl voice, and I mean she's tiny, too - yeah, she's super sweet, tiny woman with this very childlike voice sobbing and like, she was actually crying, and like, it was really. I actually had to like go out and get some air at one point 'cause I was like, I need a, like, "I wrote some those lines" and I'm like, "I did this to her!"

Jessica: Right, so it was really hard. But I mean, I think the, you know, I mean like, she came out and, like, we're all like, "Oh my gosh, are you okay," and she's kind of like, "I'm fine, I'm an actor, you were supposed to believe I was suffering, it's literally my job,"

Rubi: "Everybody was weeping, I did good."

Jessica: Yeah, but yeah, it was, it was hard, so.

Rubi: The episode two sessions with her had to have been not, nothing's gonna be that bad. I can't imagine having to be down there listening to that.

Jessica: Episode 2 sessions, I wasn't, we run two studios at once, and so I was in the other studio it wasn't the Taimi session, but I was there for a lot of the Olmakhan stuff, and for a lot of, yeah, which was really fun. Like, episode two is a much more fun recording session. There's some heavy stuff in Episode 1.

Rubi: I really like the Olmakhan.

Clayton: I was just gonna say, in Olmakhan in the video, I think at one point, Cameron, when you're supposed to go to the cubs and, like, kind of talk to him about what's going on, like, they're all supposed to be kids, but at some point in the process one of the kids was like, straight-up adult. It was the weirdest thing to hear.

Cameron: It was, so we we voice-process a lot of the charr lines whenever they're a male adult charr to kinda just add the kind of "grungy" feel to it, and we had this male kid who is accidentally flagged as a male adult. And so, and his line was like, "I'm not scared. I think we should go and fight them," and

Rubi: "Because I'm 40!"

(Laughter and chatter)

Rubi: And I smoke like six packs a day.

Cameron: Yeah right, exactly. This tiny little charr, and I sat there like looking at it and listening to it like, "This can't be right. (laughter) I hope this isn't how deep the voice actor we got was, because I'm gonna have to make him an adult. Luckily it was just the flag for the voice process.

Clayton: Like that one kid in 6th grade who already has a mustache.

Cameron: Exactly.

Rubi: And that's who we hired.

Clayton: 6 foot in 6th grade.

Jessica: The charr kids' recording session actually was a little bit hard too, just because you have these kids who like, basically their parents have disappeared, right, and you come in as the commander and you essentially have the charr elders being like, and then this kid bursts in and is like, "Where's my dad."

Rubi: That's hard to listen to.

Jessica: Yeah, right? And like, you know that the dad's dead and the thing is, the kid's not stupid, the kid figures it out pretty fast, yeah,

Rubi: They're not idiots.

Jessica: Right, yeah, I know, they're, they're smart. and so then you have to like, go, you know, the elders are kind of like, "Hey, can you kind of distract the kid while we decide what we're gonna do about this" and you go, and, you know you've got a bunch of kids who are like "We're gonna go fight, and I'm gonna go get my dad." And it is such you know... I think it was Armand that wrote those lines or maybe it was Peter, and it felt so real to me, like how kids feel like they have to protect adults from the truth of the bad things they know and like, that was hard.

Cameron: It was really interesting to watch the evolution of that scene because the first time that we envisioned the the cubs we- I've talked about how the Commander would come out of the meeting with the Elders and the Cubs would be there, and they would just kind of look at you as, like, this superhero and just see you in this wondrous light, and ask you all these questions. And our first take on the dialogue was hilarious because we we're trying to like get the timing of it right so they're talking over each other and like just spitting out a bunch of questions that you can't answer, and while that was really awesome to hear, we- I think it just didn't match the tone of what we wanted and so going back and kind of reinventing that and then saying, you know, "We're trying to show that this culture, in general, is suffering, not only from just ancillary things that you couldn't control, but from things that you accidentally put into motion. And so let's play on that a little bit more," and I think that came out really well.

Jessica: Yeah, I mean, I've read a lot of stuff that's like, "Oh, the Olmakhan are pacifist," and it's like they're not necessarily pacifist. What they are is a really small group, that, like, is continually kind of in danger of getting wiped out. Like you know if the Awakened hadn't shown up and engaged the Inquest, like, the Inquest might have, you know, step two of their experiments might have been to just really scare-playing on the village. You know, like, that's the implication. And so, you know, it's not that they're necessarily pacifist, it's not that they're scared when they're like, "Should we get out of here," it's like they're like, "There aren't that many of us," like, "We don't know that we can fight this." And so there's this culture that's living under threat constantly.

Clayton: They have to be really conservative with the battles that they engage in, right, and the actions that they take.

Cameron: It's a really hard question. (at the same time as Rubi)

Rubi: And one of you commented on that. (at the same time as Cameron) Sorry.

Cameron: I was just thinking, it's a really hard question of whether or not you stay to fight for your home or you go and you find another one.

Jessica: Yeah, one, for a group like the Olmakhan, which split off from the-- you know, left the charr homelands, and I think for them, you know, there's a very strong ethic that their home is wherever their tribe is. Right, like they're not necessarily attached to a particular piece of land. So for them it was like, "We're not going to die." There's pride, certainly. There's, you know, a bunch of them that are like, "We're not going to let these people just drive us out," but there is, you know, there's certainly an ethic among some of the elders who are like, "We'll just go somewhere." Like, "As long as we have our people with us, we're fine. We'll just go somewhere else."

Rubi: And I think it was one of the elders who was saying that, when they were talking amongst themselves, and saying "War, fighting, this is, this is an absolute last resort."—

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: "What else have we got?", so—

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: It, it didn't strike me as too pacifist, but, um, just the tone, especially the charr cubs, like you were talking about, struck me as really on point because I feel like, those kids who are ready to go out and do what they feel like their parents won't, they are not gonna look at this interloper, like, "You're so cool!"

Jessica: Right.

Rubi: It worked out really, really well, you guys did a really good job!

Jessica: Glad it worked. (at the same time as Rubi)

Rubi: And all the teams involved did! I mean, not just—

Jessica: Yeah,

Rubi: "Hey, you three, all by yourselves."

Jessica: Yeah, it's all us.

Cameron: Yeah, just us three

Rubi: Well, I'm stunned that you're here. (all laugh) Umm, do you guys want to talk about the map a little bit, because... That's like you said, it was one of the most gorgeous areas.

Jessica: Ah, so beautiful.

Cameron: Yeah, absolutely. Ahh. It was... it was really fun to kind of envision what this area was gonna look like, because we were given pretty much a blank slate, right?

Rubi: Really? (while Cameron keeps talking)

Cameron: You know we had the open world map that was just the parchment that just showed this you know a little peninsula and then a couple islands going down from there. And what was it, like June or May...? When we were first starting to envision it.

Clayton: Yeah. 'Cause I came on around August. And that was like—you guys had like—just about ready to move the cube. Which was like, crazy.

Cameron (laughs) Yeah, yeah and we, we had a very different narrative for the episode there so we, we were thinking about this map in terms of, "Okay, what kind of cultures are there? What kind of environments are there?" and I actually have—

(Rubi and Jessica begin to laugh)

Cameron —a little cutout. Just before this... (at the same time as Clayton)

Clayton Show and Tell? (at the same time as Cameron)

Jessica Yay! (while Cameron begins to speak again)

Cameron: Our map artist came by and just kind of like, put this on my desk and I looked at it and I was like, "What, what is this?" and it turns out this is actually (chuckles) the first little... [takes out a grayscale image of Sandswept Isles during development] shot, top-down of our map design and we have, and we mentioned this in the AMA, we have just like a little tiny island up in the northwest for the wild charr, just a little tiny one. They were only to be, kind of like, a little bit of world-building—

Jessica: I like Bora Bora, over here.

Cameron: Yeah, and we had the, kind of like the Scotland coast, idea. And at one point we were going to have the volcano, that's, as a part of this peninsula, but kind of involved in this map. But, we saw that the further we got in the development, it was just kind of feeling disconnected. And, what we really wanted to do, uh, in this episode, and just in season 4 in general, is to just have every part of the episode embrace the narrative, and help it go along. 'Cause it's really easy to get away from yourself, with like, "Oh this could be cool, this could be fun", but it doesn't really add to the story.

Rubi: Yeah, it's that line that we've talked about a lot of times before. I have—have, a cool idea. It doesn't fit. Yeah, but I really like my idea! It's—it can be hard.

Jessica: It's like, make yourself like a dry eraser board, or a notebook, or whatever. Because I mean, there's always going to be more content where maybe we can fit it in. It doesn't mean it's a bad idea just 'cause it's not right for this. So, you know.

Cameron: Yeah, there's a lot of shelved things that we can just pull from in the future. But this map in particular I think, especially over the last month of development, just like everything came together. We started getting the VO, and the Olmakhan village, just like, came to life, and it really felt like it had been lived in. We had the really awesome juxtaposition of the, kind of, wild overgrown areas, with the asura just kind of bulldozing of the land, and building on it, and then the awakened parts of the map, where we show that, and it's just like, all tar-filled and desiccated.

Clayton: It's always fun to see—there's like these three main factions: you have the Olmakhan, you have the Awakened, you have the Inquest, and they're all kind of like fighting each other. There's moments and scenes we put in there where the awakened are fighting the Inquest and it's really fun to just be traversing and see this battle go down. "Who's gonna win this turf war?", and, it's like, just us like, placing some NPCs, so, and, it's kind of random—sometimes you'll see the Awakened win, sometimes you'll see the Inquest win. But it's like a golem versus a giant, like, mummy. It's awesome. Sweet.

Rubi: Who would win.

Clayton: Yeah, it's awesome.

Rubi: You are right, it'd come together really, really well.

Clayton: Yeah.

Cameron: I was actually kind of worried uh, up until like the last couple of months, that we have this place in the north of the map, uh. The whole northern island with the charr village is a very different tone than the rest of the map, because it's about learning about this culture, what their day-to-day lives are like, and how that's impacted by your actions and uh, we have events like you can pick up a speargun and go fishing right, you can wrangle up some some marmoxes and bring them back to the pens and then you go further south and, just like right across the water, there's this island that's in constant attack mode right, and there was this fear that, those were so tonally different that it would just feel off and disconnected, and somehow I- I don't really know how we did it, right, you know the it's greater than the sum of its parts, but there's this nice gradient as you go south things just get more and more chaotic and drastic and it really worked out.

Rubi: Yeah, it did. I'm- I'm glad you're happy with it, because it as- just going through as a player, it works out really well because that gradual escalation is kind of creepy in a good way.

Clayton: Yeah, definitely is, and you're always still reminded like there's always the perimeter of these little islands, that have kind of that natural habitat to them so and I think that's like, that's the thread that keeps get- there's always like this like sound- sand dune with some like trees and stuff, but like maybe like five feet away from it, all the way in the south, is just tar and Awakened everywhere or it's the Inquest and then in Olmakhan village it's like actually all natural. Looks really nice.

Cameron: I think something that really worked out, that I only noticed like two days before we shipped was: when you first see the cube there's the sense of wonder, like: "What's over there?", and then whenever you finally go there, and you go back to that area, and you look back at it: it's an entirely different feeling.

Jessica: Yeah.

Clayton: Super cool.

Rubi: All right. So, I have a question for each of you: what was the absolute most fun part of working on this? (whispers) Choose. This is always my favorite question, because you guys come up with such cool stuff.

Clayton: Yeah uh... I-(inaudible), so I have the skritt chain event, which I thought was really fun, 'cause (the) skritt ones are just always fun,'cause they're- yeah. And then this one, was like about getting a super-powered skritt, like out of the Inquest area and, so he's just making like fun uh, different like kind of quips, and the idea is that, you know skritt: they get smarter with the more skritt that you have, so like, as you're escorting him out of this facility, you're also hopefully - if you're doing it right - getting other skritt, which is charging his powers up, but also making him smarter, and so- and this is be like I worked on this, but Aaron originally designed this. I just ended up taking over for a little bit - and like, so we have specific dialogue for him to say as he's like getting smarter or dumber (laughing of guests) and so there's like there's different scenes at play at the end like he's very like, like: "Ms. Cretin", like he'll say in a very like, like smart voice or like you use like - high vocabulary, but then if he's dumb he's just like: "Duh, 'Beech' get out", and like there is like a- (inaudible due to laughing of guests), and so it's- it's really, it's just always entertaining to work with that- those creatures.

Rubi: Alright, so, if you guys haven't been doing it right now, you are aware there's more skritt.

Clayton: Save the skritt.

Rubi: Yeah. How about you Jessica?

Jessica: Oh man. I think my favorite part of working in an episode is always...So, I'm an extrovert and a writer and an editor which is a little bit weird cause writing and editing is kind of a solitary...

Rubi: Yeah, I was like, how does that even happen?

Jessica: Yeah, well, I mean I actually know a lot of writers who are. We kind of divide into people who like their alone time and people who are really frustrated that you can't actually like mind meld and write together.

Rubi: Gosh, that'd be amazing.

Jessica: Right, but the closest we can get to that is generally we have these polish sessions. Right, so like, we do an outline, we outline an episode. We work with the designers to do a really detailed outline that fuses gameplay and narrative so we don't end up in a situation where the writers have gone off and written a script and the designers have gone off and designed a game and you put them together and they don't work. And so, like, the designers put in temp dialogue or like, tell us what they need. The writer goes and writes a script. It comes to me, I do a fairly heavy dev edit pass on it. Then it goes to Tom for a tone polish. And then, you know, there's a bunch of iteration and then we do these polish sessions where we get a bunch of writers (including people who aren't working on this episode) in a room and we read it out loud. We do a table read and we act it out, yeah. And then we sit there and we polish the lines as a group so it is this very like collective writing session. And there's also, you know, we have people who are more enthusiastic about acting in the line readings than others. None of us are gonna win Oscars any time soon you know, but it's fun.

Rubi: But it's fun.

Jessica: I mean like Tom actually was an actor. So like poor Tom, he's got the rest of us who are like...

Clayton: I was in a couple of of those meetings; those are really, really fun.

Jessica: Right, like they're and it's just, it's the moment in which I feel like the dialogue always levels up from those sessions because we have so much, you know, like, we have Armand who's a fairly experienced screenwriter and is, like, really good with structure and is, like, "Hey we didn't get that detail, but this later stuff builds on." And you know we have Samantha who's funny. We have a bunch of people who are funny.

Rubi: Oh, Samantha's hilarious.

Jessica: I know, right. So, like, it's just this really good mix of different strengths and different writing styles. And, so, like, we come out of there with dialogue that's really elevated from what it came in as. And it's, and it's just, you know. There's a lot of laughing, there's a lot of joking, there's a lot of, like, stuff that probably is boring as hell to be in if you're not like, a writer, cause sometimes we will spend like fifteen minutes on one line just trying to figure out how to make it work right so...yeah.

Rubi: That's how it gets good.

Jessica: Yeah. Yeah... It's our work.

Rubi: How about you?

Cameron: Oh, man. It's hard to choose.

Rubi: So many.

Cameron: I kinda want to cheat a little bit and say that it's... My favorite part has been just kinda going through and adding into little details to bring things to life. So the very north of the map there are these hunting grounds and so there's a lot of wild animals and there's... There's no Inquest presence. There's nothing there in terms of sentient creatures other than like one or two Olmakhan. And so...

Rubi: Whoever else walked backwards out...

(short laugh)

Cameron: Yeah, exactly. They all just kind of, like, moonwalked away. And this area became this testing ground for me, kind of early on in development. How do I make these creatures really seem like wild animals, right? So we have like little birds that are flying in the sky that aren't something the map artist placed in there. I ended up going through and getting them to go on a path and putting them really high up in the air. And just testing out these little things. And that all came together when some of the artists got on board with that. And so we have these elite rare spawns that are all over that area. That all have unique interactions, so there's a lion that goes on the prowl. There's a hyena that starts jumping up the rocks towards, like, a little outlook that looks over the rest of the map. And I remember one of the artists, Kate, ended up coming up to me and was just like: "You know it'd be really cool, if we gave these creatures unique models." And we added even more character to them through art. And that was awesome to hear and so we ended up working together... and just like working with all the different professions to really nail that sense of realism. It just... it, it immerses you a lot more whenever everything can come together towards that. Rather than just, you know, me working in a silo.

Rubi: Right. That's, and that's one of the things I love, we talked about that earlier with so many other teams pitching in to help you guys with all of this weirdness that happened with the episode. The different teams just working together. Kate coming to you and - "How can we make this better?" ...

Cameron: Yeah.

Rubi: ... "How can we make this work better? How can we make this cooler? How can we make it feel more alive?" - is such a neat thing that I see, well, I see it with every episode but especially here. Everybody pitching in to help out and make it come more alive life.

Jessica: It's something I think the studio does really well, is people being excited about other people's work.

Rubi: Yeah.

Jessica: I was thinking like the other day. I was in the kitchen getting more tea and just kind of listening to conversations that were going on around me. And it was people being like "Oh my gosh. Did you see the new animation...?" — for the thing I can't say cuz it's a spoiler —, like "That's so cool. We've got to tell, you know, the, we've gotta tell the animators what a good job they did!". It's just this ethic of like appreciating other people's work days.

Rubi: Have you guys noticed that the impromptu kitchen meetings are the best?

Jessica: Oh yeah! Yeah!

Cameron: Oh yeah!

Rubi: Like so much happens in there.

Jessica: I honestly feel like, like I'm a big believer in the idea that the way that spaces are designed, shapes, interactions... And I'm so glad that when they did our space here, they clearly put a lot of thought and probably a lot of money into designing the kitchen. Cuz kitchens are where people...

Rubi: Yeah. It's...

Jessica: The kitchen is where you feel like family, right?

Rubi: It's very true and you know I'm here at eight o'clock in the morning. And there's usually at least three people like staggering around getting cereal and milk.

Cameron: Oh man, those cheerful feeders.

(all laughing)

Rubi: The cheerful feeders are the worst.

Cameron: But they're also the best.

Clayton: We don't have a toaster because they want everybody to use the microwave and the microwaves are all stacked on each other so that's why we're all standing there together. Forcing interaction on-

Rubi: Well, there's toaster ovens! There's toaster ovens that do-

Clayton: It's not the same as a toaster though.

Rubi: I'm just saying-

Clayton: We're talking like 15 minutes or 1 minute, but yeah. It all makes sense now. You're enlightening me, like okay yeah we're all gonna stand there, now we gotta talk...

Rubi: Is that why we don't have a toaster?

Clayton: I think so.

Rubi: Yeah.

Clayton: I think so.

Rubi: It works to make people talk.

Clayton: It's all by design, man.

Rubi: Honestly, where would we put it? I don't understand how that kitchen is so big and I am constantly bumping into someone in there. I'm like, "Sorry! Sorry! I just want tea."

Jessica: That's kitchens in general, though. No matter how big it is-

Rubi: It doesn't matter.

Jessica: There's never enough space.

Rubi: The kitchen could be all of four and we would still be crashing into each other.

Clayton: Yeah.

Jessica: Yes.

Rubi: But yeah, you're right, it is a good illustration just walking through the kitchen and you're hearing two totally- people from two totally different teams coming together and getting excited about each other's work to make it better. It is, it is a extremely, extremely cool thing about this studio and you're right it is something we do well. So, well, we are coming up on an hour. Is there anything else that you guys want to touch on about this episode? We don't have a hard stop at one o'clock so if you want to, it's fine.

Jessica: Um, I think just, if you have the time and the inclination, just like this is a good episode to just explore, you know, there's so much around the Olmakhan village. There's a, um, there's a sort of series of little vignettes around this particular character[verification requested] that like when I first read the script for it like actually got choked up, you know, it's like really moving, really beautiful. The main thrust of the episode obviously is, you know, you're infiltrating the cube and it is very combat focused but there's so much there that is just people in this world living their lives and that you get a little glimpse into it and so like, go looking for it. It's worth it.

Clayton: Okay, you back off, but there is an amazing thing that Alex, one of our writers, put into the Inquest lab, which is gone viral internally in our team, which using just one sentence for the commander to reply to someone, another Inquest on the other side, to have a full complete conversation. And it is like the most entertaining and witty thing, so that's a little easter egg nugget — [verification requested]

Rubi: I know exactly what you're talking about.

Clayton: ...go find it, you'll enjoy it.

Rubi: Yeah. That was Alex?

Jessica: Yeah, that was Alex Kain, yeah. One of our writers.

Rubi: Then thank you, Alex, because this is awesome. I laughed so hard. I was like, oh, how is ... oh, that's how it's gonna work, amazing.

Clayton: Yeah, it's brilliant.

Rubi: Okay, I'll do it. (pause) Uhm, that does remind me there's another little dialogue in there that I loved. When you're interacting with the Inquest terminals, there was one "I forgot my password again" — who did that? Do you guys know?

Jessica: I don't remember and I mean, it's hard to say because every bit of dialogue goes through multiple writers and editors and like I said, we sit in a group, we polish each line and so it's more on the level of 'that word came from that person'. But there are sometimes things like Alex's convo, but I don't remember who that was. It was probably one of those things where we get punchy. We've been in a room for hours and somebody's like, "I forgot my pet", you know, trying to log into their laptop, like "oh, we should put that in".

Rubi: That's perfect. One last thing. You mentioned everything going through tons of iterations and all of this different dialogue and all of these brainstorming sessions, and I want to talk about naming Rata Primus. I got Tom Abernathy's permission to share his suggestions. There were like ten of them, and I actually — Yes!

Clayton: Yes!

Jessica: (laughing) What’s going on on the screen?

Rubi: So —

Jessica: Yeah.

Cameron: Ooh man.

Jessica: (still lauging) Radical.

Rubi: I'm starting to understand why some of these sessions take so long.

Jessica: yeah so we at some point we were like we've just been calling it the cube internally and we're like we need to actually give it a name and so there was a lot of a lot of — distinction there, a lot of discussion and finally we were like we need to consolidate this, we're gonna do it by email — it was actually you're the “Dirty Rata who killed my Brother”. Oh no it's never mind sorry, it was “You dirty Rata” so — you know we had this whole — but Tom starts it off and is like hearing my suggestions. It goes this hilarious list and then like we had a much more serious, like —

Rubi: Yeah.

Jessica: What are the linguistic influences you know. Originally we were like well it's in sort of it's in Elona, which is sort of an Africa/Middle East's analog like should we be drawing from like Semitic or African languages? So we had a bunch of like suggestions you know from like referencing like Acadian words for dragon and all that and eventually we were like well the inquest we've already basically established our Latin-ish —

Rubi: The ship has sailed.

Jessica: Yeah, so like, we'll just go with.

Clayton: There's also an internal debate specifically I think between you and Armand about Primus (prī-məs) and Primus (prē-məs).

Jessica: (Taking a deep breath)

Clayton: (laughing) Yeah, we know which one won.

Jessica: I won!

Clayton: Yeah.

Jessica: I’m meaner than Armand is.

Rubi: This feels like it's gonna be the wyvern argument again.

Clayton: Oh yeah.

Jessica: Or frickin’ Golem (ˈgō-ləm) versus Gollum (ˈgȯl-ləm). Gollum is a character in —

Jessica and Rubi: (in unison) Lord of the Rings —

Rubi: Yes.

Jessica: A Golem is a Golem.

Rubi: Mark’s giving a big thumbs up. (laughing)

Jessica: Right, right?

Rubi: Mark[verification requested] says (raises hand and gives a thumbs up).

Clayton: Mark approves.

Jessica: We were in a meeting and Neil called it Gollum I'm like, et tu Neil, come on like have my back here!

(all laughing)

Clayton: Before you even sit down in a meeting or as I'm sitting down there walking in this conversation happened, I’m like “Sweet we're doing this again”

Rubi: We're here

Clayton: it's always entertaining to see like and then out you just like grab your popcorn like “Who's gonna win this”

Jessica: I mean it's weird that we it was you know the anglicized Latin versus the like Latin Latin pronunciation, which felt like a set like in high school I took Latin and we had one teacher who taught like classical Latin you know like “veni, vidi, vici” (wā-nē ˌwē-dē ˈwē-kē) and then we had one teacher that taught church Latin like (slightly Italian pronunciation) “veni, vidi, vici” (vā-nē ˌvē-dē ˈvē-chē) the much more Italian sounding and so the teacher who taught classical Latin was named Mr. Vatrano and so he was the one that I was, yeah. That I was taking his class and — he was out one day so the other teacher Mr. Strife [verification requested] the church Latin guy came in and substitute taught our class and so like you know he was like Caesar was a manly man he never would have said something like (sloppy pronunciation) “veni, vidi, vici” (wā-nē) it’s (manly pronunciation) “veni, vidi, vici” (vā-nē) and you can tell that to Mr. Vetrano! (wē-trano)

(all laughing)

Rubi: That’s what I saw coming as soon as you said Vatrano.

Jessica: Yeah, yeah. And so like, there's this whole like continuing in our high school is holy continuing war over pronunciation and then as soon as we start using Latin there's like this, you know what I mean? It got really detailed and really pedantic and really, but it's Primus (prē-məs), I won.

(all laughing)

Clayton: And destroyed!

Rubi: The important part, take away here.

Jessica: Yeah, well see like that's the good thing about being an editor, is you're the last person to touch the text.

Rubi: (surprised) Jessica! “Somebody changed this, I don't know who”.

Jessica: Yey, so you can rewrite it for however many times you want, but I'm gonna see it right before goes into the build.

Rubi: “By virtue of my job I get the last word.” So —

Jessica: I know it’s great.

Rubi: So wear yourself out.

Jessica: Yep.

Rubi: — Yeah and I did, I mean you know I was laughing at Tom's suggestions and you've gifted me with this email chain.

Jessica: (laughing) I know it was a great chain.

Rubi: “Hi, Tom. I just have a little question. “ —

Jessica: (laughing)

Rubi: but the whole rest of the chain was fascinating because it was and I don't necessarily like the word pedantic because not as a whole but in this situation it just feels like such thorough attention to detail yeah and that's like what Cameron was talking about we're these little bitty things bring the world to life and make it feel better.

Jessica: Yeah.

Rubi: And I mean we can still go with pedantic but you know —

Jessica: It's the, it's the details are what make world-building work.

Rubi: And the conversation fascinated me I'm just reading through this email chain because I wasn't on it originally just going it's amazing the things they're thinking about.

Jessica: It's gotta to feel like it's got to feel like there's a history there, like when you build a culture into a world like you have to think about how did they get to be the way that they are. Otherwise it's just gonna feel shallow and it is like the details, it is things like you know how do they pronounce like it's weird to me that all of our humans in our world speak the same language, but we do have like words like that are different like in Elona they greet you with “Ahai” — which suggests that maybe at one point they spoke a different language — or something.

Rubi: Oh, now I'm thinking about this.

Jessica: Well, right? But like those are the things that make a world feel real, feel lived in you know that it's details and it's like that little bit of messiness that you want, you don't want everything to be too neat.

Rubi: Yeah.

Cameron: Like how we put in “The nature favor you” —

Jessica: Yeah.

Cameron: for the Olmakhan.

Jessica: Yeah, like they don't speak a different language, but they speak English or whatever —

Rubi: They speak differently.

Jessica: Tyrian Common whatever it is, uhm whatever the universal language in our world is. Like they speak it differently, they use it differently, because they have a different history from everybody around them.

Rubi: That makes sense.

Cameron: I did want to say, I just kind as a callout — it's been really awesome to see since we released, the amount of times that people from our team have kind of like passed around comments from the forums or on reddit —

Jessica: Yeah

Cameron: And as we're moving on to it, like the next thing, I know that like I always read through all of these and Clay[verification requested] you always bring a lot of these up so your feedback is awesome and the things that you liked about this, the things that you maybe didn't like about it like we're listening, really attentively and we really want to hear your voice. So, you have anything to say? Post it, it's awesome.

Rubi: That helps make it better. In most cases. — That seems like a good point to wrap up upon, so thank you guys very, very much for all of your work on this I know you put in a ton of extra work to make it so good and it paid off.

Jessica: Thanks for having us.

Rubi: And thank you guys for being here we will be back on next Guild Chat.