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rock formations in shapes that would be impossible on Earth, creatures whose sounds are “creature-y” and yet
not like anything from Earth.
Inspiration: The Exotic, Startling Diversity of the Natural World
Every appearance, behavior, and cultural artifact in our game should be inspired by appreciation for some real-
world phenomenon, not invented from scratch or contrived purely for gameplay. The crabs should move like
crabs. The ecosystem has predators, prey, producers, and scavengers. The cave of giant crystals is like the one
in Mexico.
Theme: On the Boundary Between Multiple Interpretations
Players should have to look twice to figure out what they are seeing. It should be hard to categorize in Earth
Influences: Lem and Herzog
[Author] Stanislaw Lem employs brutally hard science to speculate about the exotic natural phenomena of other
planets and the unknowability of extraterrestrial life and culture. We want our life forms and sentients to be exot-
ic, unknowable, and plausible. [Filmmaker] Werner Herzog unflinchingly observes the world with a uniquely
emotional combination of disgust, love, fascination, confusion, and wonder...We don't have to shy away from
the grotesque in what we portray, such as carrion bugs that eat corpses.
Influence: Red Mars
[Novelist] Kim Stanley Robinson did a ton of credible scientific research and well-informed speculation about
human presence on the surface of Mars, covering the experiences of low gravity, dust storms, Martian seasons,
cold temperatures, life in an outpost, underground aquifers, and more.
The first half, in particular, is a great read for anyone on the project.
Theme: Fusion of Technology and Nature
The cave system was “engineered” by natural forces and “is powered by” the ecosystem that inhabits it. The
sentients did not have technology here and nature there, instead combining them into something like future
primitivism. The boundaries between technology, nature, and culture are blurred.
Waking Mars: The Higher Aspirations
The final selected slides from the Waking Mars design document lay out the developers' aspirations for the
game—not only to create a commercially successful product, but also to express important ideas that elevate
the game to a work of art. Maybe Tiger Style's aspirations will inspire similar aspirations in your own games.
(See Figures 16-55 and 16-56 .)
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