Got my beats and my beverage.
The first week is now behind me and I feel like at this point I have enough to create a blog post about it. We were assigned our first task which was, as Conánn put it, “infinitely huge” and only contained within three small words; ‘Build. A. World.’ At first glance this appears to be a simple instruction however as it turns out, playing a God is no simple feat! (I can almost hear Conánn quietly chuckling at the concept of God as a creator as I write this.) We were told that by the start of the next week we would most like be abandoning our ideas and being plopped in to another group to pick up a different world to populate, but that will come later.
We were given a rough pipeline of idea creation to follow and it was up to us to decide how closely we would follow it. In my group was Lauren, Jessica and Matthew. Initially in class we were given fifteen minutes to generate around forty ideas for a type of world. These first of the batch weren’t meant to be anything precious to cling to, but they were the first generation of creatures going through the process of natural selection through which only the best and strongest would survive. After coming up with a spectrum of ideas, ranging from basic (Like ‘Water World’) to the ones that bordered on curious (Such as ‘Giant Toe in Space’ world), we decided on our favourite ten. From these ten we had to generate a further one hundred and so naturally this rounds out at around ten ideas per initial theme. We each discussed what kind of worlds we were most interested in and which ones we thought we could develop the best or would like to work on. As a result of this, I was tasked with the themes ‘Clock World’, ‘Eclipse World’ and the aforementioned ‘Giant Toe’ world which I then simplified to meaning ‘Organic World’ so as to broaden the scope of ideas.
I decided to go against the norm and have my dessert first by diving in to the topic I was most excited to develop. Eclipse World started as the idea that there were various ways and reasons that the sun was being blocked by the moon (or moons) of the planet, but then I asked myself, “Why does it have to be a moon?”. This was because I was thinking about the most iconic feature of an eclipse as being the total darkness it plunges the world in to; no where in that description does it include the word ‘moon’. When it comes to these sort of ideas I think macro. I am fascinated by the huge scale of the universe and how irrelevant we are as a species. As a link to this, I thoroughly enjoy the genre known as ‘Lovecraftian Horror’ or ‘Cosmicism’. Named after the American Author H.P. Lovecraft, it is used to describe his genre of eerie horror/science fiction known as the Cthulhu Mythos. Pete Rawlik describes the three main keystones of this breed of Cosmic Horror as:
- The majority of humanity does not recognize its own insignificance, the indifference of the universe, or its true nature.
- Individuals, often detached from society, can gain perspectives that allow them to glimpse reality, but this often leads to insanity.
- Regardless of the knowledge or abilities gained, the protagonist has little hope of affecting the course of events, or of revealing all that has been hidden. Any impact the protagonist does have is usually only temporary in nature, or has unforeseen and catastrophic impacts.
This idea heavily inspired one of my favourite videogames of all time, Bloodborne, which focuses on the inner workings of an unknown world that takes place inside a nightmare and how only those with the insight of this world may conquer it; or more likely, perish with their minds destroyed. Due to the fantastic concepts of creatures, environments and themes explored in this work of playable art I have been heavily influenced by its style and often find myself thinking on a similar scale to the design. I feel like I needed to explain this sub-genre of fantasy/sci-fi/horror to allow you to understand my main influence and the direction I think in when I am tasked with ‘creating a world’.
The World in Darkness
Due to my ‘BB’ in GCSE Double Award science and my ‘E’ in A-Level Physics, I had an extremely solid-ish idea of what would happen on a planet with no direct contact with the sun through the various ways in which it would happen. I try to imagine my world being grounded by the basic laws of physics as they exist to us. This helps me keep a solid, believable foundation when thinking IF a world could exist in these circumstances, and if so what would happen to it. I do try to allow myself to stretch and bend these laws for creativy’s sake. I’m going to try and bullet point the basic effects of what would happen on an Eclipse World here:
- No Light = No Natural Photosynthesis; this would mean there would be a lack of oxygen on the planet, or the planet would need to get it from a different source. Would the inhabitants even breathe oxygen?
- If the World is no longer spinning, it has no magnetic field to protect it from the sun’s radiation.
- No direct sunlight means that the world would become very cold, so how would the wildlife adapt?
- If the moon was in a fixed position in the sky, the tides would cease to ebb and flow. (The combined pool of gravity and cold temperatures allowed me to fantasize about a huge ice mountain being formed from the ocean.)
These circumstances would create the above problems. These problems would need solving, and how we solve them would determine the outcome of our world; as is the essence of design.
I created a mind-map to jot down my basic thought process for this world and then a paragraph of research and some doodles to back them up:
I took a look at VSauce Michael’s video on the effects of the Sun disappearing to try and spark a few ideas:
Below are the first ten ideas I jotted in my notebook, accompanied by simple doodles to illustrate my points:
World in a Clock
This was my least inspired world out of the three I developed. Also, due to personal complications, the research was not as in-depth as I would have liked it to be. I took the concept liberally, looking at ideas that weren’t necessarily related to a clock but instead shared aspects of one. For example, I discussed with Matthew (Who seemed to like this idea) about the possibility of a world under a radar. By this I meant one of those little green radars that sweep clockwise and bleep whenever they find something. Matthew and I discussed the idea of the denizens and structures of the world lighting up and changing structure as the radar passed over them.
From Studying A-Level Physics, I also struggled at explaining the idea of a world inside a Cyclotron; a model of particle accelerator. The device uses alternating current applied to the charge on the particle to speed it through two “dees” in a spiralling clockwise motion. I proposed this being used as a transport system within the world, and that the two “Dees” could be rival communities/species.
Image found on HyperPhysics website.
Some resulting sketches I made for different world ideas:
Rawlik, P. (2013). “Defining Lovecraftian Horror”, an essay by Pete Rawlik. [online] Lovecraft eZine. Available at: https://lovecraftzine.com/2013/04/15/defining-lovecraftian-horror-an-essay-by-pete-rawlik/ [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].
Hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu. (2016). Cyclotron. [online] Available at: http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/magnetic/cyclot.html [Accessed 12 Oct. 2016].