Rewriting Variks’ stupid dialogue from Prison of Elders

variks-close-up[~15,000 words total]
[~8,300 words for all drafts put together]
[~4,000 words for “final” draft and final thoughts (this is really all I expect anyone to read)]

So, over a year ago I raged against how terrible and stupid Variks’ dialogue is in Destiny’s Prison of Elders. And to put my money where my mouth was I said that I would write my own version of Variks’ dialogue. Then I just didn’t.

For the longest time (over a year) I didn’t feel like going through the effort. Then about a month ago I suddenly felt like accepting the challenge I had given myself. So, I wrote my own version of Variks’ Prison of Elders dialogue which is much better than what actually appears in the game, although that’s not saying much considering the originals (“Kill them dead.”)

INSTRUCTIONS FOR READING THIS BLOGPOSTS

Okay, so this isn’t a typical blogpost.

The only part I actually expect anyone to read is the third and “final” draft of the dialogue along with my final thoughts. But below that you’ll find other things. Research and analysis of Variks’ dialogue and Fallen lore that appear in other parts of Destiny, previous drafts of my version of the dialouge, and my thought process on previous drafts as well as how to move forward. You could read those parts first and the “final” drafts last if you really want, but I don’t expect anyone to.

Honestly, even if you’re reading the “final” draft it might be best to just skim it. But, I ask that IF YOU’RE GOING TO LEAVE A COMMENT, FIRST MAKE SURE YOU ACTUALLY READ THE ENTIRETY OF THE THIRD DRAFTS AS WELL AS MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE THIRD DRAFTS.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Brief summary of what’s wrong with Variks’ actual PoE Dialogue

PART 0: Statistics and summary

PART 1: THIRD (“FINAL”) ROUND OF DRAFTS
1a) FINAL THOUGHTS

PART 2: ANALYSIS OF FALLEN LORE/CULTURE, AND OF VARIKS’ EXISTING DIALOGUE
2a) Analyzing idle dialogue in the Reef
2b) Analyzing grimoire dialogue
2c) Looking at grammatical and syntactical idiosyncrasies

PART 3: FIRST DRAFTS OF DIALOGUE MEANT TO FIT SEGMENTS OF PoE
3A) Thoughts on round 1 of drafts.
3b) Goals for round 2 of drafts

PART 4: SECOND DRAFT OF DIALOGUE MEANT TO FIT SEGMENTS OF PoE
4a) Thoughts on second round of drafts.
4b) Goals for third rounds of drafts

PART 5: SECOND DRAFT DIALOGUE MEANT TO ACCOMPLISH STORYTELLING GOALS

BRIEF SUMMARY OF WHAT’S WRONG WITH VARIKS’ ACTUAL PoE DIALOGUE

(Skip this part if you like.)

For more detailed criticism you can see my previous post from a year ago.

In short, Variks’ dialogue in Prison of Elders is pointless and meaningless. It doesn’t give the players more information on what’s happening, doesn’t tell us more about Variks as a character… it just doesn’t DO anything.

Something like, “Fight. Kill. Win.” accomplishes the same thing as saying nothing. Silence would accomplish about as much as the actual dialogue.

Now, a lot of people do like Variks and his dialogue, but that’s mostly got to do with the excellent voice acting of Dee Bradley Baker. He does an amazing job of breathing life into otherwise lifeless lines.

Just look past Mr. Baker’s voice acting and you can see how shallow the dialogue is. Here’s a line from the House of Wolves campaign:

“He called you a… well… it was an insult.”

This may seem like a funny line, but it’s actually a vapid line. It’s basically Variks’ equivalent of “I don’t have time to explain why I don’t have time to explain.” It’s the writers going, “Well SOMETHING is supposed to appear here, but we can’t think of anything, so…”

It’s lazy writing.

Anyway, the point of my rewrite of Variks’ dialogue is to show that I’m not just complaining and to show what this type of dialogue would be capable of in terms fleshing out Variks as a character, fleshing out Fallen culture and lore, and basically just having more story going on in what Variks has to say.

Please note, the point of my dialogues isn’t meant to be accurate in terms of lore, necessarily, but be effective in terms of tone and style.

PART 0:

STATISTICS AND SUMMARY

Research began: Nov. 25 2016

Writing finished: December 23 2016

~7.5 hrs research/gathering information/analysis

~3.0 hr of writing 1st draft

~0.5 hrs of analyzing 1st draft and writing up analysis

~3.5 hr writing 2nd draft

~1.0 hrs analyzing 2nd draft and writing up analysis

~3.5 hrs 1st + 2nd draft of character based dialogue

~2.5 hrs working on combing drafts for third draft

~4.0 hours combining everything and making it presentable as a blogpost

Total time writing actual dialogue: ~12.5 hours

Total time for everything: ~25.5 hours

Structure of Prison of Elders:

Prison of Elders consists of 5 rounds with 3 waves for each round. Occasionally a wave will have a special objective after which the players get a special prize. The last round includes a boss battle, after which the players get access to a treasure chest in a treasure room.

I had to come up with dialogue that would fit into each major moment of the Prison of Elders experience (although some moments I decided wouldn’t need dialogue).

PART 1:

THIRD (AND “FINAL”) DRAFT OF DIALOGUE

~2300 words
~75 lines
~12.5 hours of writing drafts to get to this point

1) Entering Round

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Fallen of the Wolf Banner march to war…”
“You face Fallen pirate scum.”
“Hive spawn claw their way towards you Light.”
“Bonewalkers of the Hive await.”
“Creatures of the Darkness, arise.”
“Footsoldiers of the Cabal rise to the challenge.”
“Warbeasts of the Cabal await.”
“Time lost Vex arise.”
“Vex incursion. Meld of mind and machine.”

The above phrases are then combined with those below:

“They will want to kill you. Kill them back.”
“They will try to kill you. Kill them back.”
“Kill them dead, Guardian.”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

Fallen:

“This arm of House Wolves have given up. Become like animals. Do not write their stories. Do not groom their scents. Disgust Variks. Might as well be killed.”

“Fallen are stealers and scavengers. Also, surv-iv-ors. Steal from emptiness to survive. Scavenge purpose out of pain. When Great Machine abandon Fallen, scavenge survive-alone strength out of pain.”

“Variks did not smell fear on Guardians when you entered Prison. This is good. Fear makes Fallen braver and more vicious.”

“Whatever happens, Variks is glad. Fallen win? Variks is proud of Fallen. Guardians win? Variks knows he has strong new friends. We are friends, yes?”

“Fallen kill Guardians? Variks will let Fallen keep armor and weapons. Trinkets filled with glory… and pride. Even Fallen deserve pride… if they can pillage it.”

“Fallen approach. Enough to board and commandeer Ketch. When Eliksni were great, would have been enough to flay ten by ten Guardians. That is point of pride no one can steal from Variks.”

“Fallen call Guardians, ‘Light-stealers’. Think you stole Great Machine’s Light. Variks knows truth. Nothing can be stolen from Great Machine. That is true strength. That is God-strength.”

“My Queen pillaged loyalty from House Wolves. House Wolves stole loyalty back. Gave to Skolas. Now House Wolves docked of Kell, docked of loyalty, docked of purpose. Might as well be dead.”

“Quantity of Fallen entering prison requires four Servitors worth of ether to survive. These Fallen survive with only two Servitors. See how clever Fallen are? See how good we are at staying alive?”

“Variks does not feel anger when Guardians kill House Wolves Fallen. They did not howl for Variks when Skolas… docked-his-arms. [angry fallen noises] Variks does not want their two-handed friendship.”

“If Fallen not docked of Great Machine’s gifts, Variks would not allow Guardians into Prison. Too dangerous. Guardians would die against Eliksni.”

Cabal:

“For Cabal, not many opportunities to gain honor in Prison. Cabal are eager to fight Guardians. Killing or dying, Cabal gain honor or glory. Make them feel like Cabal again.”

“Variks allows prisoners to decorate prison. Make prison feel like home. Cabal decorate prison chamber in fire and endless war. What home is thaaaatt?”

“Cabal are strong… and slow. Easy to hit. Easy to dodge. Eliksni are quick. Move in and out. Good friends to have when fighting Cabal, yes? Maybe more Eliksni think like Variks. Help Guardians fight Cabal. Would be good, yes?”

“Psions not only slaves among Cabal. All Cabal, slaves to duty. Death is only freedom from duty. From responsibility. When Guardians kill Cabal, Guardians free Cabal.”

“Cabal. Seven by six Cabal are equivalent to strength, speed, and power of one Spider Tank. Guardians, be aware: five spider tanks worth of Cabal enter chamber.”

“Prepare yourselves, Guardians. Quantity of Cabal entering Prison Chamber would be sufficient to capture and defend one fifth portion of Tower. However, no defenses to hide behind in Prison of Elders. No room for Dreg tactics here.”

Vex:

“Vex always building new things. Fallen are cleverer. Fallen steal what already built. What already works. Much easier. Much quicker. Vex not as clever as Fallen… just… trickier.”

“Fallen know when Vex approach. Air smells like leaking generator. Try scenting for Vex, Guardian. More reliable than just looking for them.”

“Vex cannot steal. Do not know how. Do not understand other spe-ciesss. Vex cannot adapt because they cannot steeaal from others.”

“Fallen good at stealing from Vex. Even Skolas stole from Vex. Good to have friends who can steal from enemies. Maybe Variks can be friends with Guardians? Maybe other Fallen follow Variks?”

“See Vex nestled in their machines? Vex smell like freshly scrubbed metal. Smash them. Crack them open. Soak ground with their white minds. Now Vex smell like dying ocean.”

“When Guardians kill Vex, Vex learn. So does Variks. So does my Queen. Each death makes Vex smarter. Do Guardians become smarter with each death? Variks not sure [fallen noises that may be laughter].”

“Amount of Vex entering chamber would be adequate to defend against five by four Fallen. But, not enough to prevent five by four Fallen from stealing enough machinery to repair two Skiffs and one Servitor.”

Hive:

“Hive think they are powerful. Think nothing can stand in their way. Variks spits on their thoughts. Dock their arrogance, Guardian. With sharp, sharp violence. [angry fallen chatter]”

“Do not use scent when fighting Hive. This is good defense. Hive smell like… hopelessness. Not good to smell during battle.”

“Hive are old. Bodies decaying. Ships rotting. Were Hive great once? Had shiny ships? Many cities? Perhaps it is HIVE who should be called Fallen [growling barking laughter].”

“Hiiivve. Eaters and breakers. Nothing remains when they are done. Fallen are keepers. Do not destroy anything. Just seek to survive. But, Hive think only way to survive is by destroying.”

“Hive make little kingdom here in Prison. Make it out of slime and shadows. Guardians, dock this thought from Hive. This is not kingdom. This is Prison of Elders.”

“Guardians kill and destroy Hive. Hive do not care. Happy with death and destruction. Do not care about source. Guardians die? Hive die? For Hive, all death is good.”

“Many Hive entering chamber. Quantity sufficient to destroy one fifth of Ketch. Are Guardians stronger than one fifth of Ketch? We will see.”

“Hive are old. Very experienced in battle. But, use two handed tactics. Swarm enemies with many numbers. Even Vandals fight more clever than that.”

2) Announcing new wave

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Reinforcements. Ready for combat.”
“Reinforcements are coming.”
“Incoming.”
“Enemies advance.”
“More enemies, Guardian.”
“Be ready. More enemies on the way.”
“More enemies have been unleashed.”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

N/A: Done with sound effect and lighting effect; no dialogue.

3) Announcing Special Objective

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Dismantle mines, yes? Or… you die…”
“Mines must be dismantled. Or death.”
“Intercept important target. Or, you die.”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

“Prisoners attempting to free leader. Escaping through this chamber. Leader is not dead? Prison’s automatic systems kill everything in room.”

“Important prisoner thinks it can escape Prison. Cannot. Automatic defense systems will kill everything in chamber… even Guardians. Unless Guardians kill important prisoner first.”

“Variks cannot keep all prison systems maintained. Mines have activated on their own. Not supposed to. Will kill everything in chamber. Help Variks, yes? Destroy malfunctioning mines.”

“Mines have activated. Must be malfunction in system. Only meant to happen during prison break. Shoot mines before they kill everything in chamber… including Guardians.”

“Shielded mines have armed themselves. Most unusual. Not suppossssed to do that. Cannot be shot. Must be dismantled. Or else everything in chamber is killed. Safety precaution for escapes.”

“Variks uses shielded mines to stop prison escapes. Variks forgot to disable mines when Guardians entered prison [Fallen snarling that could be laughter]. Dismantle mines, yes? Variks will rebuild them later.”

“Mines have accidently armed themselves. Will kill everything, including Guardians. Very exciting, yes? Disarm mines and tell friends how exciting Prison of Elders is.”

4) Announcing completion of wave

N/A: Similar to announcing start of new wave, this part can be done with sound effect and lighting effects.

5) Announcing Arrival of Reward (Happens after completing special objectives)

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Success, Guardian, success.”
“Success. You have done it.”

Followed by:

“Incoming…”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

“Variks has left trinkets in center of chamber. Guardians can steal them. It is alright… Variks isn’t watching.”

“Variks has sent simple baubles to center of room. Scavenge them. Do not be wasteful. Variks sends no more little baubles if Guardians are wasteful.”

[fallen snarling] “Variks is pleassssed. Has left little treasures for you. Pillage them in center of chamber.”

[victorious fallen noises] “Small gesture. Heavy ammunitions at center of room. Guardians are pleased? Remember gesture. Return gesture in future, yes?”

“Smell that Guardians? Variks has left Scorch Cannon at center of chamber. Very distinctive smell, yes?”

“Variks has sent trinket to center of room. Scorch Cannon. Capable of killing two skiffs of Fallen… as well as Vandals hiding among rocks behind you.”

“Guardians have pillaged victory from enemies. Good, good. Variks scavenges… heavy ammunition… for Guardians. Take in center of chamber.”

6) End of round

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Victory. Well earned.”
“Your victory tells the tale.”
“Enemies die. You live. Well done.”
“They are dead. You are not.”

Followed by:

“Return to airlock, Guardian.”
“Go back to airlock, yes?”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

“Nothing remains, Guardians. Have killed everything in this chamber. Except for each other. Do not kill each other. Variks wants Guardians to live and fight another round.”

“Interesting. Variks learns much about enemies of Reef. Will tell Queen. Queen will be pleased. Give many treasures to Guardians. Good to be friends with Variks, yes?”

“Many Awoken watch Guardians battle and are impressed. Variks is not impressed. Variks already knows how strong Guardians are. Come back to airlock and Guardians can impress Awoken again in next chamber.”

“Guardians’ armor is so strong. Helps them survive. Variks can inspect your armor when you return, yes? No? Maybe just your helmet?”

“Do not leave ammunitions lying there. Collect them, collect them. Leave nothing behind except the-dead.”

“Guardians gaining much glory. Many darlings. Things Guardians want. Tell Tower about Variks, yes? Tell them Variks is good friend. Then I collect more Guardians.”

“Guardians fight fiercely. Do not use two handed tactics. Fight like Fallen Barons. But not Kells. Not tall enough. Must be very tall to fight like Kells.”

“Variks is good chooser. Chooses strong Guardians to fight in Prison of Elders. Creates entertainment for Variks. Creates learning for Awoken. Very profitable to have Guardians visit prison.”

“Guardians fight surprisingly well with only two arms. Perhaps because you are repairable. Let Variks have Ghost, yes? Find way to repair Variks.”

“Prison gives opportunity to learn about enemies. Also to punish them. Mock them. Pillage their wealth. So many gifts to scavenge in Prison of Elders.”

“Variks has learned much in this round. My ignorance is reduced by two weeks of idle observation and conversation. Very profitable round for Variks. Thank you.”

“Well done, Guardians. But, do not forget to use your smell. Scent your enemies. Easier to hunt. Easier to avoid being hunted.”

“Guardians die? Variks sells armor and weapons. Keeps ghost for himself. But Guardians not die. This is also good. Come back to airlock, nothing to be afraid of [fallen noises that could be laughter]…”

“For moment, Variks thinks Guardians would die. No. Guardians salvage victory. Guardians are survivors. Just like Variks. I will remember your scents.”

“Some try to hide in Prison. Does not work. Guardians do not hide. Guardians agree with Variks there is no room for Dreg tactics in Prison.”

“Guardians carry enough arms and ammunitions to fight one arm of House Winter. Where do you keep it all? Tell Variks your secrets.”

“Half hour in Prison is worth three hours in wild, in terms of knowledge gained and trinkets seized. Very useful for Guardians to fight in Prison. Tell others how useful, yes?”

“You do not write stories. Your little Ghost remembers them for you? Verrry useful. Maybe when Guardians are finished, Variks can see your ghost?”

7) Introducing Boss

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Urrox the Flame Prince, scion of Oryx.”
“Valus Trau’ug, Cabal Juggernaut.”
“Cabal strategist Val Aru’un.”
“The Overmind Minotaur.”
“Pilot Servitoy of a war-wracked Fallen Ketch.”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

Val Aru’un (Energy shields powered by psions; different psion provides different elemental defense)

“Val Aru’un is like his commander. But, not as ssstrong. Aru’un needs his subordinates to give him strength. Has no strength of his own. Good for battlefield? Not good for Prison.”

Pilot Servitor (Teleports and uses shock grenades?)

“Fallen are clever, yes? Take Pilot Servitors meant for navigation. Improvise weapons and grenades. Teach Servitors to fight. No need for navigation in Prison, yes? Fallen know how to adapt.”

Wretched Knight (??? Seems like he just has a lot of health.)

“Wretched Knight. Big and strong. Guardians are small and very strong. Will that be enough?”

Overmind Minotaur (Detainment fields trap Guardians.)

“Vex believe in mimetic conflict. Copy tactics of enemies. Use against enemies. Vex see Awoken trap enemies in Prison. So… Vex use prisons to trap Guardians.”

Valus Trau’ug (Shield changes elemental defense every time it is destroyed.)

“Valus Trau’ug. Adaptable Cabal commander. Trau’ug changes defensive strategies to keep opponents guessing. Difficult to combat. Must be adapting as often as him.”

Kaliks Reborn (Can consume Archon servants to regain health.)

“Kaliiiikkss. Rebuilt from scavenged pieces. Servitors were made to provide Eliksni with ether. Eat, live, thrive. Kaliks has become very Fallen. Kaliks steals BACK ether it once gave away.”

“See how clever Eliksni are? Even in Prison, find way to rebuild Servitor. Very resourceful. Find pieces. Make machine work. Variks will be sad when Guardians destroy proof of Eliksni cleverness. But, not tooo sssaaddd.”

Gulrot the Unclean (Spews bile that slows the players.)

“Gulrot the Unclean. Slow and deadly. Like most Ogres. Guardians get close to Gulrot, maybe they become slow and unclean, too?”

Urrox the Flame Prince (Floor is lava.)

“Urrox, the Flame Prince. Royalty, but imprisoned. Burns with rage and shame. Thinks only Hive should set foot on Urrox’s ‘land’. Not Urrox’s land. Prison. Remind Hive where they are, Guardians.”

Qodron the Gatelord (Detainment bubbles trap players; Killing Qodron’s Eye gives buff for breaking out of bubbles.)

“Why does Qodron remain in Prison? Variks cannot keep it here. Perhaps Qodron is here to trap Guardians. Vex always create backdoors to THEIR prisons. There is always key to escape. Qodron most likely is no different.”

8) End of Prison

Stupid dialogue from actual game:

“Taste victory. It is sweet. You have won.”
“You fought, you won. Your treasure awaits.”

3rd Draft of New Dialogue:

“Very good, Guardians. You have completed Prison of Elders. Variks is pleased. My-Queen is pleased. Offers you treasures and darlings below airlock. Make you stronger. Make you wealthier. Queen wanted to give treasures to Awoken Paladins. Variks convinces her to hoard best treasures for Guardians. Give Awoken Paladins lesser prizes. See how Variks is good friend? You will remember how Variks helps you, yes?”

“You have done well. Three Guardians-worth of enemies have been emptied from Prison. My-Queen says, no more scavenging and scrounging for Guardians. Go below airlock. You will be ambushed with darlings and treasures. Then you go back to Tower. Tell others how profitable it is to fight in Prison. Maybe Tower and Variks can forge four-handed friendship, yes?”

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, that’s not bad. I think it went pretty well. It’s not perfect. Personally I would still want to keep polishing and editing, but I’m also a bit of an obsessive perfectionist; I’d probably spend months working on this if I had the time.

And there’s enough lines of dialogue that I can just delete a bunch of them if they’re not good or if they don’t fit.

This actually went by a lot faster than I expected. In my own fiction writing it takes me forever to polish something to the point that I’m happy with it. But I ended up being pretty happy with this by the end. Not perfect, but good enough to appear in a game.

Point is that these lines show what could have been done with Variks’ dialogue in PoE. They could have revealed something about Fallen culture, Destiny’s lore, and Variks’ personality. Instead, what actually appears in PoE is meaningless, pointless nothing. It’s disappointing, especially when some good writing appears in other parts of Destiny.

In my previous post (where I rage-criticize the PoE dialogue) I squarely blamed the writers for all the faults of Variks’ PoE dialogue, but now I don’t feel that way. From Variks’ idle dialogue in the Reef and bits of the grimoire cards it’s clear that there is some good writing possible… it’s just very inconsistent. Part of this may be because multiple writers end up writing dialogue for Variks and they’re not all on the same page in terms of style and tone. Or maybe some writers at Bungie are actually good and some are terrible.

But I think another part of the problem might be revealed in this article from Cracked about what it’s like to actually work as a writer in the AAA game industry. One of the major things the person brings up is how the producers and people in charge often don’t allow writers to do their best work. The producers might interfere in the writing process in various ways that force the writers to do a terrible job just to keep their job. So, that might be part of why Variks’ dialogue in general is so bad in PoE specifically and inconsistent in general.

But let’s look at this:

It took me about a month to finish this whole thing. But a large part of that was because I could only work on it in my free time when I didn’t have anything better to do.

The writing of the actual dialogue took me a total of about 12.5 hours. So, let’s take that and put it in context of working as a full time writer.

Let’s assume an eight-to-five job with a one hour lunch break. Let’s also assume that five hours of that eight hour day is spent in various meetings and working on other assignments. So, that leaves three hours a day to work on Variks’ PoE dialogue. Now maybe that’s not really the case, but let’s assume that it is.

If it took me 12.5 hours to write the dialogue and I had three hours a day to work on it, that means I would have finished the dialogue in four to five business days. One work week. It would have taken only one work week to create dialogue for Variks that was rich in lore, character development, and storytelling. One week. That’s all.

And in the context of working as a professional writer I would have had other writers providing me feedback and insights which could possibly have made this process go even faster.

So, whoever is responsible for the vapid, meaningless parts of Destiny’s writing should be embarrassed that they’re not willing to devote the minimal resources necessary to produce good work (I’m assuming three hours a day for four to five days is minimal effort considering how much more time many writers put into their own fiction). Writing in Destiny, and triple-A games in general, could be way better than it is if talented people were hired and then allowed to actually do their jobs.

Anyway, I don’t know how else to end this. The actual dialogue for Variks in PoE is pretty terrible. Without any arrogance I can say my version is much better.

THE END

 

 

PART 2: RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS (chronologically this was the first thing I did)

So, a lot of this analysis comes from idle dialogue Variks makes in the Reef. You can find a transcript of it at Destinypedia:
https://www.destinypedia.com/Variks,_The_Loyal#Prison_of_Elders_Quotes

For more examples of Variks’ dialogue you can read the grimoire cards:
Variks, the loyal
http://db.destinytracker.com/grimoire/allies/the-queen/variks-the-loyal
Kell of Kells
http://db.destinytracker.com/grimoire/activities/house-of-wolves/the-kell-of-kells

For the Kell of Kells card, I recommend checking out a youtube video by GhostandEchos; he does a really good job voice acting and audio editing Variks’ dialogue.

There’s also this very interesting video by Sarsion. He managed to actually translate some of the Fallen dialogue in game into English. Does a good job of it, I think. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to really use this in writing my dialogue because I discovered this video too late in the process.

ANALYZING VARIKS’ CHARACTER THROUGH IDLE DIALOGUE IN THE REEF

Despite Variks’ dialogue in the House of Wolves campaign and in the Prison of Elders being pretty stupid, there is actually some really good dialogue elsewhere in the game. Surprisingly enough this is Variks’ idle dialogue in the Reef. It actually has some really great character writing which really reveals some interesting things about Variks as a character and about the Fallen as a culture.

STRIVING FOR MORE SOCIAL CAPITAL, DEVELOPING SOCIAL NETWORKS, AND IMAGE MANAGEMENT

These are some lines that show how Variks is trying to build up his social status among the Reed Awoken and among the Guardians.

“I shall help you.”
“Do you see how I help you?”
“I help you, you help me.”
“We are frrrriennnnds now.”
“You work for me, and I help you.”
“We make a good team, no? I find Skolas, you fight Skolas. Tell Cayde he’s no longer of use for Variks.”
“You caught Skolas. You brought him to Judgment. You are my friend, and you can stand there if you want.”
“See? It is good to be my friend.”
“Tell everyone how I helped you with Skolas, Guardian.”
“Come here. Come quiet.”
“You’re going back to Earth now? Will you tell the city about Variks, your great friend?”
“I assure, what you’re hearing of me are lies.”
“I am loyal to the Queen, all else you heard of me are lies.”
“You do this, I shall tell everyone that yoouu are MY friend.”

These dialogue lines really convey how hard Variks is trying to build his social capital, to really develop a network of people he can rely on. He’s doing it in a clumsy way, but this seems to come from desperation; he’s doing something he’s not familiar with, but which he considers absolutely crucial so he’s not worried about being smooth or subtle. We also see a little bit of Variks’ harshness with the line, “Tell Cayde he is no longer of use for Variks.”

EVIDENCE OF SMELL BEING AN IMPORTANT SMELL IN FALLEN CULTURE

Some simple evidence that smell is a major part of how Eliksni make sense of their world.

“Come here. I would have your scent.”
“Ah, I know you. I know your… smell.”
“You all look the same, but your smell I know.”

THE EFFECTS OF REFUGEE/SCAVENGING CULTURE ON THE NATURE OF FRIENDSHIP AND PROPERTY OWNERSHIP AMONG THE FALLEN

These are some of the most fascinating lines because they reveal some interesting things about Fallen culture and how they view friendship and theft. The two are not mutually exclusive.

“When you come back, I’d like to see… your ship.”
“Are you going to your ship now? Where did you leave it? Is it in good condition?”
“Guardian, come here. I… want to see… your Ghost.”
“You would depart? I would like to purchase your Ghost, If you are willing.”
“We are friends, yes, Guardian? Give me your Ghost.”
“Sell me your ship. I need the parts.”
“We are friends, yes? I would like to see your ship.”
“All these Guardians here. Maybe I’ll catch a Ghost… take it apart.”
“You here to steal things? Good time; nothing guarded. [laughter] Joke.”
“Lit-tle ghooost. Come out, come out.”
“Lot of ships floating out there. Good time to claim them, yes? Mayyyybeee?”

I think some people will hear or read these lines and think they’re just funny. I don’t think they are. I think they’re also insights into how Fallen think.

You can see how Variks doesn’t see anything wrong with claiming to be your friend and also expressing a desire to take your possessions. This may seem like mutually exclusive viewpoints, but I don’t think they are. Remember that the Fallen suffered a massive cataclysm called the Whirlwind when the Traveler abandoned their worlds. This left the Fallen struggling to survive as they escaped across outer space.

The Fallen spent generations living as refugees, scavenging what they could to survive. They spent generations living on the edge; their traditional morals probably had to be abandoned in order to survive. Your friends might die tomorrow or next week; it makes sense to keep an eye on their possessions in case they do die and you need to scavenge what they left behind.

When every day is a struggle for life and death this can make the concept of property ownership become a lot more fluid. Friends become potential targets for theft and no ill will is meant by it. Variks’ view that there is nothing wrong with stealing from your friends makes me think there may be a type of “theft reciprocity” going on in Fallen culture.

The idea of “theft reciprocity” would be that you can steal from your friends and it’s okay because they’re just going to steal something back from you in the future anyway. So, if a friend steals from you, you just steal something back and it doesn’t end your frienship; if an enemy steals something from you, you kill them.

This alien concept of friendship and theft really reflects the narrative of the Fallen and their refugee lifestyle. It actually tells a deep story about how Fallen culture has had to adapt to survive. (If this was the intention of the writers at Bungie; I actually don’t know, I may be just seeing things in an ink blot.)

VARIKS HAS A BIT OF A DARKER SIDE

A few lines shining light on the more malicious aspects of Variks’ nature.

“Increase the ether feed for the Archon. He’s been QUITE… entertaining.”
“Arrogant crow dies in little ship. What do I carrrre.”

WISTFULNESS OVER LOST CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION/HONOR/PRIDE

Some lines highlighting that despite the fall of his culture and his betrayal of Skolas, Variks still has a great deal of pride for his people and what they once were.

“We were great long ago. Weak and strong, my House.”
“I was a Judgment scribe long ago. I had much respect.”
“The Great Machine. It is mine too, Guardian.”
“Are you staring at my arms, Guardian? Where Skolas cut me? Look away.”
“You think you hate Wolves? I promise my hate is sharper.”
“Increase the ether feed to the Archon. He’s been quite entertaining.”
“They say Fallen are evil. No. No, no, no, no. Fallen are lost; HIVE are evil.
“I will cut my throat before I become a slave again.”

DISCOVERING TWO OPPOSING WORLD VIEWS IN THE GRIMOIRE

From Ghost Fragment: Fallen 2
http://db.destinytracker.com/grimoire/enemies/fallen/ghost-fragment-fallen-2

So, this is one of my favorite pieces of writing in all of Destiny. I actually found out from a source that this card was actually written by well known and well respected science fiction writer Robert Reed (one of my favorite contemporary sci-fi writers) so that probably explains why it’s so good.

So, in this card you can actually find two aspects of Fallen culture that seem like they might contradict each other, but if you view them from the perspective of a refugee culture they actually make sense.

But first, let’s look at these two viewpoints.

FALLEN VIEW THINGS IN TERMS OF THEIR UTILITY AND USEFULNESS

So the Fallen have a very results-oriented view of the world. The meaning and worth of something is dependent on what results you can achieve with it; what is the utility of this thing.

“ammunition of rich makes, quantity adequate to incinerate 6×6 foe”

Fallen think in terms of utility. It’s not just the quantity of ammo that matters, but what effectively can it do. How much of an item you have is measured by its efficacy, what it is capable of accomplishing. This strict utilitarian view makes sense for a culture that is composed of refugees and scavengers who must make the most of what they have, and who may not have excess wealth. Saying 6×6 instead of 36 is an interesting aspect to this text, but I don’t know what to make of it right now; obviously it represents some different perception Fallen have of numbers and quantities, but not sure what beyond that, especially since the following excerpt lists numbers in a typical way:

“11 operational weapons, alien design, suitable for salvage
3 explosive charges of obvious design, suitable for salvage
1 cabal fusion reactor, disabled but perhaps repairable
61 machines, alien, inoperable, unknown significances
13 alien machines, inoperable, known significances”

Again, this shows how focused the Fallen are on utility and efficacy of an object. It also shows how, despite being seemingly disorganized scavengers, the Fallen have a very strict and precise way of organizing objects. The alien machines are separated into “known” and “unknown” significances. Everything has its place, and everything has a clearly defined role. Everything that could be useful is saved for the purpose of using it.

“4 dregs dead, rendering House of Winter weaker”
“1 dreg honoring self and House, leading to consideration of fabricated arms”

Again, the Fallen view things in terms of what their efficacy is, what the results are like. A weakening of the House of Winter is one of the “treasures” won during this encounter. Also, the dreg who is writing this is presumably referring to himself when he says “1 dreg honoring self…” which means he himself is a “treasure” that was won during the conflict. It’s an interesting and alien perspective.

FALLEN VALUE THE INTANGIBLE, EMOTIONAL QUALITIES OF THINGS

Here we see how the utility of an object isn’t the only thing of use to the Fallen. Knowledge can be just as valuable as something tangible like a machine. Personal experience, memories, personal pride is as valuable as a physical object.

“15 human body parts, kept for study, scorn”

I love this line. It is my favorite, not just because it’s funny, but also because it reveals something interesting about the Fallen. There is just as much value in studying and learning about something as there is in making yourself feel better. Tangible, utilitarian knowledge is worth as much as feeling superior to others (and there may be no difference between the two for the Fallen).

We’ll see this idea of emotions and feelings having tangible value in the next quotation.

“55 human adornments, full of glory and warm memory, worth the cost of their acquisition and more so”

The human adornments are valuable because they are “full of glory and warm memory” which aren’t things that really exist. They are intangible, non-material and yet they have value to the Fallen.

“considerable experience in battle”

Sure, we all would understand that we gain experience the more we do something. But here, the Fallen is flat out listing it with various other objects it acquired. The Fallen view the gathering of experience as something that has a profound effect, almost as if the concept of “leveling up” was a part of how they view their lives.

Analysis of these opposing viewpoints

These seem like conflicting views: on the one hand you have the Fallen seeing the value of things based on the tangible effects these things produce (incinerate 6×6 foe, suitable for salvage, rendering the house of winter weaker), and on the other hand you have them valuing completely intangible things that produce emotions (kept for scorn, full of warm memory, considerable experience). I think there’s actually a way to marry these seemingly opposing views.

So, considering that the Fallen are refugees and they have to scavenge and scrounge to survive, their two ways of valuing things makes sense. On the one hand, it makes sense to value things based on their utility; if something can’t be used for survival then it is just dead weight; it’s a waste of energy to get it and protect it. On the other hand, the emotional qualities of things, the sentimental value, also can be incredibly important in maintaining a sense of stability and sanity in a post-catastrophe culture. The glory, memories, or pride associated with certain objects are wealth in and of themselves when you are so poor that you have nothing. It’s kind of the idea of having an heirloom passed down from your mother or father; that sentimental value can be worth much more than the monetary or utilitarian value because it provides on emotional stability that other objects do not. And these kind of objects, that provide emotional stability, emotional strength, and emotional connection to one’s culture can be incredibly important to a society that has nearly lost its culture.

Let’s look at some other things that we learn from this same grimoire card:

Stories are important to the fallen

“1 disabled Fallen skiff, scrubbed of House identity and stories”
“1 Fallen story found beside the disabled skiff, unknown House, partly corrupted, rendered as follows”
“1 story, Fallen and found beneath the skiff, unknown House, story uncorrupted”

The Houses and stories of the Fallen are incredibly important. As an essentially vagabond, nomadic culture they can’t build their identities off of geographical locations such as cities, nations, or planets. They have to build their identities based on their Houses and the stories they tell. Keeping a record of things is very important to the Fallen, and they write their stories on their vehicles and perhaps other objects as well. Adding to this idea is this grimoire card itself, which is essentially a record of this dreg’s experience.

Fallen have a precious view of treasure

“A ROUTINE SUMMATION OF DARLINGS WON AND HEROICALLY HELD DURING THIS PROFITABLE CYCLE, AS COMPILED BY A DREG”

A “darling” is something that is cute or precious; a favorite thing. There’s this infantile treatment of the matter, which I think is an interesting perspective into the Fallen. They view treasure as almost a child-like possession. It is a trinket, a bauble, something that has value but is also cheap. Don’t know how else to analyze this, but thought it was interesting.

ANALYZING GRAMMAR AND SYNTAX IN IDLE DIALOGUE AND POE DIALOGUE

Here I provide some examples of Variks’ idiosyncratic use of grammar and syntax. One of the things I criticized in the past is how inconsistent this is. Sometimes Variks speak in this strange way, and other times he speaks in a perfectly normal way.

Sentence Fragments

Some examples of Variks speaking in sentence fragments:

“I know you Guardian. You saved our home”
“The Great Machine. It is mine too, Guardian”
“You caught Skolas. You brought him to Judgment. You are my friend, and you can stand there if you want.”
“Just you? You need two friends. Strong ones.”
“Come here. Come quiet.”
“Fight. Kill. Survive.”
“Reinforcements. Ready for combat.”
“I hear. House of Judgement always hears. No choise. Has to. To keep Houses together. Had to.”
“Judgment gone. Others slaughtered, slain. Death and docking. “Keep Eliksni together,” lost to pride and rage.”

Erratic use of articles (“the” and “a”)

Here’s some example of Variks using and also not using articles
Mostly appear in Prison of Elders

Using articles:
“Increase the ether feed to the Archon. He’s been quite entertaining.”
“I was a Judgment scribe long ago. I had much respect.”
“Be cautious about the Wolves up there hiding.”
“Pilot Servitor of a war-wracked Fallen Ketch.” (both use and not use of articles)
“You are a friend to my House.”

Not using articles:
“They say Fallen are evil. No. No, no, no, no. Fallen are lost; HIVE are evil.
“Dismantle mines, yes? Or… you die…”
“Intercept important target. Or, you die.”
“Return to airlock, yes?”
“Servitor is source of interference, kill it dead.”
“Signal close. Can you see it?”
“Things simple now, yes?”
“House Rain lost in Whirlwind.”
“He may seek to gather the Exiles…”

Punctuating sentence with question tag “yyesss?”

One of the most noticeable things in Variks’ dialogue is his use of the question tag “yes?”

A question tag is something that appears at the end of a sentence in the form of a question but isn’t really a question. Usually its used to push for a response, as a way to keep the conversation moving, or as a request for confirmation.

Usually a positive statement will be followed by a negative tag:
“This is a good idea, isn’t it?”

Usually a negative statement will be followed by a positive tag:
“You don’t know how to do this, do you?”

Variks actually uses positive statements with positive tags:

“We are friends, yes? I would like to see your ship.”
“We are very patient, yes?”

This usually is usually used in English to express disbelief or displeasure:
“You think you’re funny, do you?”
“Oh, a wise guy, eh?”

But with Variks the positive statement paired with the positive question tag seems to be used to encourage agreement from with Variks.

Along with question tags, Variks uses other rhetorical questions to construct sentences

“See? It is good to be my friend.”
“You think you hate Wolves? I promise my hate is sharper”
“You’re going back to Earth now? Will you tell the city about Variks, your great friend?”
“Not fighting today? Feeling weak? Scared?”

PART 3:

FIRST DRAFT OF DIALOGUE LINES

(WRITTEN TO FIT EACH SEGMENT OF PRISON OF ELDERS)

So, to start I come up with dialogue that could fit into each segment of a typical cycle in Prison of Elders.

Typical Cycle:

1) Entering Round (Occurs 4 times per game, assuming no failures.)

a) announce new wave (only before waves 2 and 3) (2/round * 4 rounds = Occurs 8 times per game, assuming no failures)

b) announcing special objective in wave (if applicapable) (Starting with round 2. Can appear after wave 1 or 2.) (1-2/round * 3 rounds = Occurs 3-6 times per game, assuming no failures)

c) completing wave (no announcement, should there be?) (Occurs 8 times)

d) announcing arrival of heavy ammo or scorch cannon (after completing critical objective) (3-6 times per game)

repeat a-d for 2 more waves

2) End of Round (return to airlock) (Occurs 4 times per game)

Repeat 1 & 2 for 4 more rounds

3) Introduce boss for last round (Occurs 1 time, assuming no failures)

4) Defeat boss and finish prison of elders (Occurs 1 time)

We need lines of dialogue for each point 1-4 and a-d.

1) Entering Round

Occurs 4 times per flawless game, there are 4 enemy races, each race probably should have maybe about 3 unique introductions, so in total we should have about 12 pieces of dialogue for when players enter an arena to start a round. (Although I don’t think I’ll be able to do that many in my freetime.)

1st Draft of New Dialogue:

Fallen:

Stealers and thieves. Fallens steal life from pain, steal purpose from emptiness. They cannot steal back their freedom. That belongs to the Prison now. And to Variks.

Be careful, Guardians. The Eliksni are Fallen, but they still fight. They have fought with Awoken, Hive, Cabal, Vex, each other, and against extinction. Fallen know how to survive.

This is rewarding fight. If Fallen are victorious? Variks is proud of Eliksni strength. If Guardians win? Variks knows he has strong friends. You want to be friends with Variks, yes?

If you lose? Variks will let Fallen keep your armor and weapons. Trinkets and trophies filled with pride and glory. Even traitorous Eliksni deserve pride if they can capture it.

Count of Fallen is enough to board and capture Kell’s ketch. Too many for Guardians? Or is Guardians higher number than entire ketch?

Cabal:

Cabal are energetic to meet you. There is much honor to extract from your deaths. Not many chances for honor in Prison. And if Guardians kill Cabal? Then they are finally freed from their duties. For them, that is also good.

If Cabal could communicate with their commanders their people would learn much. But only Variks, and Queen Marrrraaa, are learning anything from what is in Prison.

Prisoners are allowed to decorate their cells to be more like home. What home do Cabal come from when they decorate their cell in fire and blood and endless war?

Cabal or so strong… but slow. Easy to hit. Eliksni like moving. Eliksni move quickly. Strike in and out. It would be good to have Eliksni as friends for fighting Cabal, yes? Mayyybe some-day…

Vex:

Alien minds piloting machines through time. They should frighten Guardians. Would be good to have allies to fight Vexes. Eliksni are good at fighting. Even Skolas managed to steal technology from Vexes. See what Eliksni can do? Would be good to be friends with Eliksni like Variks, yes?

Vex. They build and build over what they built. Over and over, constructions over constructions. Fallen are cleverer. Fallen steal and take what they know already works. Much easier. Much quicker. What you build can be taken from you. But when what you take is stolen, it is okay, it was never yours to begin with.

Fallen are adaptable. Take what others use and use as well. Vex? They do not understand other species, other peoples. They only understand themselves. Vex cannot steal because they do not understand how. They only understand how to be and how to build. Teach them also how to die, Guardians.

See Vex? Nestled in their machines? Variks once knew Eliksni Baron who ate flesh of Cabal, and drank the flesh of Vex.

Vex are builders. Always building. Do not stand in the way of their building and they will leave you alone. But what are these Vex building in Prison of Elders? Awoken did not bring them here. Variks does not keep them here. Variks think they have been waiting for you, Guardians.

Hive:

Hives. Always eating and eating away at everything. Eliksni do not eat. Eliksni are keepers, they are stealers, they are hoarders. But Hives? Hives are eaters and breakers. They paint their dark stories on everything./They carve their darkness stories onto everything.

Hive are old, old, old. Their ships molder. Their bodies are propped up by sheer will. Were their people great once? Was their empire shiny and bright? Perhaps it is THEY who should be called Fallen [growling barking laughter].

Variks watches Hive. They sink into shadows. They burrow into emptiness. Looking at Hive, Variks is reminded of what brought down Eliksni civilization. Their empty hunger is similar to what tore apart the world’s of the Eliksni, the pride of the Eliksni, the strength of the Eliksni. Nothing like that, nothing like Hive, should be allowed to be.

Fallen take as much as they need to be strong. Hive? Hive takes as much as is needed to make everyone weak. Hive will take from you your Light. Feed it to their Darkness. If Guardians let them, Variks will be angry at Guardians.

Hive try to make a little kingdom of shadows and slimes here in Prison of Elders. They defend their territory. But it is not their kingdom. All this Prison is tended by Variks. You are Variks’ reminder to Hive that this is the case.

2) Announcing new wave

Occurs 8 times per game, but will probably be heard multiple times due to wipes, so let’s say we should have 16 lines of dialogue here as well.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

Perhaps this should be done with just a sound effect, like a horn or siren?

This may seem like a cop-out, but it’s not. When writing it is important what you write and what you don’t write. Knowing when NOT to write something is just as important as knowning what to write. What you DON’T put on the page is just as important as what you do.

So, the beginning of a new wave is what the players will probably encounter more than anything else when you take into consideration that there are more waves than rounds and that players will play these waves over and over on harder difficulties.

Taking that into consideration, any line of dialogue used at the start of a wave has the potential to become the most annoying bits of dialogue in the prison. Even with 16 lines, they could easily get old in one single play session.

So, the smart thing to do here is not even have any dialogue. New waves can be easily announced through some sound effect, like a horn or siren, along with maybe some flashing lights. No dialogue is actually necessary, and it might actually annoy the player to have dialogue here.

Possible Examples:

You are doing well. Salvage more victory from enemies that approach.

You are a survivor. Like Variks. More prisoners come. Show Variks more surviving.

You have scavenged success in this battle. Prison of Elders does not often offer successes. You are clever for finding them.

Do not calm yourself, Guardians. More prisoners rush chamber.

Do what you did again, and again you will survive. Simple, yes?

Very good you are alive. In the next wave, if you are not alive, Variks can have your weapons and armor, yes? Would fetch good price.

Prepare for more enemies. There is nowhere to hide. Prison is not place for Dreg tactics.

3) Announcing special objective

These will be encountered less often, 3-6 times, so let’s say we just have 6-8 lines of dialogue for this. There are three objectives: disarming mines, shooting and destroying mines, and killing a target monster.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

A high ranking prisoner has broken out of its cell and is moving through your chamber. If it is not killed in time the prison’s automatic systems will kill everything in the room. Including my friends, the Guardians.

The Hive/Cabal/Vex/Wolves have taken this opportunity to try to free one of their high ranking captains. If it is not killed soon then the Prison’s automatic systems will kill everything in this chamber.

The mines. They are only meant to activate during a prison break. They have accidently done so now. Shoot them before they detonate and kill everything in this chamber. The is prison defenses are being maintained as well as I would like them to be.

Shielded mines. Meant to prevent escapes, they have activated and begun arming themselves. Most unusual. You must dismantle them or they will destroy everything in this room.

Variks cannot always go into the prison and fix the malfunctioning defenses. Could you do him a favor and destroy the activating mines? Variks would hate to see his new Guardian friends die.

Variks sometimes uses mines to execute prisoners for the Queen’s justice. They must be shielded from the attacks. Variks accidently pressed the button to activate them, Guardian. [Fallen snarling that could be laughter] Please dismantle them while you can. I think your armor would fetch a good price, but there are still things you can do for Variks.

4) announcing completing wave?

If added we’d only need maybe 8 lines of dialogue, since appear only on completion.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

if used, combine with ending wave dialogue.

5) announcing arrival of reward

This is very rare 3-6 times per game, for two different rewards, and since it happens at end of wave players aren’t going to hear it multiple times due to wipes. So, really, we only need maybe 2 or three lines of dialogue for this.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

I am so pleassssed, I am sending you a trinket. At the cen-ter – of – the – room.

[victorious snarling chortling] I have left some baubles that you may take in center of the chamber.

A small gift. [Fallen noises] Heavy ammunitions at the center of the room.

The Eliksni Scorch Cannon is just something I had lying around. But it is yours if you would like it.

Variks has sent a trinket to center of chamber. Do not be wasteful. Usssse it. Variks may not send another.

6) End of round

Occurs 4 times per game no matter how many times players wipe, so we can literally just have 1-4 lines of dialogue for this.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

I am good chooser of Guardians, yes? Return to the airlock while I prepare the next chamber of prisoners.

There is nothing left to look at here, Guardian. You have already killed the most interesting things in this room. Aside from yourselves, of course.

If you had died, Variks would have sold your armor. That would have been good. But you living is also good. Come back to the airlock, there is nothing to fear.

What an interesting battle. Variks is pleased to have learned so much about enemies of the Reef. He will tell the Queen and the Queen will be pleased Then the Queen will be pleased with Variks. Then it will be good to be friends with Variks, yes? (enemies of the Reef is meant to be ambiguous whether it refers to monsters or Guardians)

You fight so differently from the Awoken of the Reef, Guardian. You throw yourself into battle without fear. How did you get the Light to come back to life? This is a good opportunity for Variks to get rid of the stronger prisoners. Come back to the airlock and I will send them to you in the next chamber.

Many Awoken watched you fight and were impressed. Variks was not impressed. Variks already was certain how strong you are. Come back to airlock so we may impress them again in the next chamber.

[Decided to experiment with some faction specific dialogue for round endings.]

Species specific round endings:

Fallen:
Once the Eliksni were great. In their prime they would have ripped you apart and flayed your world. That is a point of pride you cannot steal from Variks. Return to the airlock while I prepare the next chamber.

Hive:
You have burnt them to ash-es. The Hive do not care. You or them, they are glad by the destruction and death.

Cabal:
Variks once felt pity for the Cabal. Dying while chained to their honor. Now he understands. Death is the only way they are freed from their duty.

Vex:
The Vex learn from each death you give them. So does Variks. So does the Queen. Return to the airlock, Guardian.

7) End of Prison of Elders

This will only be heard once per game, so we really need only one iteration of this dialogue. One line of dialogue that is maybe longer than the others.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

Sooo strong. So killful [sic]. You have cleaned out much of Prison, Guardians. Queen is pleased. Variks is pleased. It is good to have strong, killing Guardians in Reef when so many enemies around. Come down below. The Queen has left you treasure. Make you rich. Make you stronger. This is all verrry good.

8) Introducing Boss

Because bosses are rare and only occur in the very last round, I think each boss really only needs 1 line of dialogue about each.

1st Drafts of My Rewrites:

Minibosses:

Val Aru’un (Energy shields powered by psions; different element shield for different psion.)

Val Aru’un. He follows his commander with exhausted honor. Followed him into this prison. But Val Aru’un needs his slaves to make him strong.

Pilot Servitor (Teleports and uses shock grenades)

Wretched Knight (Taken mines)

Overmind Minotaur (Detainment fields trap Guardians; fields can be shot.)

The Vex are a woven mirror. Are they trapped in the Prison, Variks wonders. They certainly want to trap yooouu.

The Vex will sometimes engage in mimetic competition. They copy the tactics that work against them and use them against their enemies. The Awoken trap them in the Prison of Elders. Now the Vex want to trap you.

Mimetic competition. Strategy of Vex. Copy tactics of enemy to be as strong as enemy. Awoken trapped Vex in Prison. Now Vex trap you in Prison.

Challenge Bosses:

Valus Trau’ug (Shields changes elemental defense every time it is destroyed.)

Valus Trau’ug. Why did he come into the Reef? None of his brethren followed. He is an adaptable commander. He adapts to the attacks of his enemies. But he cannot adapt to being trapped in this pit.

Kaliks Reborn (Can consume Archon servants to regain health.)

Kaliiikkss. Rebuilt from his broken pieces. The Servitors, made in the image of the Great Machine, provide us with ether so we may live, and thrive. But this one has become very Fallen, and it steals BACK the ether it once gave away.

You see how clever Eliksni are? Yes? Even in Prison of Elders they find way to rebuild Kaliks. Resourceful. They scavenge pieces. Find machines that work. Rebuild the Servitor. Variks will be sad when you destroy proof of Eliksni cleverness. But not tooo ssssad.

Gulrot the Unclean (Spews bile that slows the guardians.)

The Hive are old. Older than Guardians. Older than Eliksni? They are patient, and Gulrot will make even the quick Guardians be patient as well.

Urrox the Flame Prince (Lights the floor on fire.)

Urrox the Flame Prince of the Hive. He is royalty defending these prison cells like they are his kingdom. He does not like it that you tread on his land. Perhaps avoiding treading on it when he becomes too angry.

Qodron the Gate Lord (Detainment spheres trap Guardians; Killing Qodron’s Eye gives buff to breaking out of bubbles.)

Qodron. Variks cannot detain this Vex. Why does he stay? Perhaps he is a hunter, waiting to trap its prey. The Vex are redundant; if they build a trap, they will build a key to escape it.

THOUGHTS ON ROUND 1 OF DRAFTS:

Obviously these are still very rough. There’s not a lot of Variks-isms, so to speak. His verbal quirks aren’t really present everywhere.

But that’s okay. That kind of stuff is for later drafts. Right now my only concern was with getting content out there. Just getting words down onto the page which gives me a good foundation to build off of in later drafts. It also let’s me explore the dialogue without worrying about how close I am sticking to Variks’ voice.

In terms of quantity, I think I’ve got a pretty decent amount of content here. If I were doing this for the actual game I’d probably want some more lines, but for this blog post I’ve got a decent number.

I experimented a little with the idea of Variks pluralizing words with “s” when normally we wouldn’t: Vexes, Fallens, Cabals. I don’t know how I feel about it; I’ll play around with it some more in the next round, but I leaning against using it.

One thing I didn’t notice in my previous analysis is that not only does Variks use the question tag “yes?”, but he has a ideosycratic use of questions in general. He’ll use rhetorical questions as a way to link ideas between sentences. I didn’t notice this until I intuitively started doing it myself during these rough drafts. It’s precisely this kind of reason that I didn’t think about trying to stick to “rules” for this draft: If I had stuck to strict guidelines, I probably would never have been mentally “loose” enough to slip into this intuitive understanding of Variks’ voice.

I also noticed that sometimes I had Variks say “Eliksni” and sometimes say “Fallen”. I think I can use this for a more deliberate purpose by having Variks say “Eliksni” when he’s referring to his people in the past or to his goals for his species, and use “Fallen” when he’s referring to his people that he is embarrassed by or who he thinks have gone astray.

I’ve decided that I’m going to get rid of the dialogue in between waves. I think it doesn’t serve a purpose better than a sound effect would; dialogue would probably just get annoying.

In these first drafts there are a few examples of Variks trying to build social capital with the players. There are no examples of smell being important to Fallen. There are a scattering of examples of Fallen “Theft Reciprocity”. Nothing hinting at a darker side to Variks. A few examples of wistfulness over Fallen culture. There are moments where I play around with sentence fragments, lack of articles, and punctuating sentences with question tags. There are almost no examples of the Fallen’s interesting attribution of tangible and intangible value to things.

GOALS FOR 2ND DRAFTS

I had no goals for the first round of drafts. I was just exploring and improvising.

However, going into the 2nd round of drafts it would be a good idea to have some actual goals to strive for. There’ll still be some improvising and exploration, but not nearly as much as round one.

Goal 1:

Start using Variks’ character voice more. That means I’ll have to start including all the verbal idiosyncrasies (sentence fragments, use of articles, use of questions, etc.) more frequently, letting these things take over the structure of the dialogue.

Goal 2:

Have dialogue reflect more of Fallen culture and Variks’ personality (smell, social capital, theft reciprocity, darker side, wistfulness for old days, etc.).

Goal 3:

I thought about Variks’ use of articles (the, a, an). I thought it would be interesting if these were misused by Variks in a revealing way. What if Variks understood the words “the” and “a” enough to know that “the” refers to a singular, unique object while “a” refers to a general, vague object: “I ate an apple” vs “I ate the apple”. But beyond that he doesn’t understand the subtleties of how those words are used, so Variks employs them as a method of judgment.

So, if Variks is impressed and respects someone or something he will prefix their name with “the”, while if Variks looks down on someone he will preface their name with “a”. So, he might say, “The Queen wishes to speak to you,” or “Take a message to the Petra Venj.” And he might say, “A Skolas will be captured,” or “A Gulrot is waiting for you.” When he has a neutral opinion on someone he uses no articles. It might be fun to experiment with this and see where it goes.

One other cool thing that could happen with this is that Variks’ opinion of the player could be reflected in this use of articles. This wouldn’t work necessarily in PoE, but in the campaign Variks could start by calling you “a Guardian”, move on to “Guardian”, and then moving on to calling you “the Guardian” as his respect for you grows.

Goal 4: Experiment with using “s” or “es” to pluralize things that are already plural (as I mentioned earlier). Let’s see if this pans out at all.

Goal 5: Try to use “yes?” more purposefully. For example, perhaps use it not just as a random end to a sentence, but use it for when Variks is trying to very unsubtly convince the player of something, of pushing the players opinion in a certain direction.

That’s quite a lot of goals, but we’ll see how it goes going into the next round of edits.

PART 4:

SECOND DRAFT OF DIALOGUE LINES

(written to fit each section of PoE)

So, here’s the second drafts were I try to improve upon the first round of drafts.

1) Entering Round

2nd Draft of New Dialogue:

Fallen:

“These Fallen broke promises. House Wolves strayyyed from Eliksni tradition. Bring shame to Variks. Give them justice.”

“Fallen are stealers and scavengers. Also, surv-iv-ors. Steal from emptiness to survive. Scavenge purpose out of pain. Fallen feel pain of Great Machine’s abandonment. Scavenge survive-alone strength.”

[I like this last one because it kind of reflects Variks’ own isolation which he views as necessary to build up strength.]

“Whatever outcome, Variks glad. Fallen win? Variks is proud of Eliksni strength. Guardians win? Variks has powerful friends among Guardians. We ARE friends, yes?”

“Fallen kill Guardians? Variks will let Fallen keep armor and weapons. Trinkets filled with glory… and pride. Even traitorous House Wolves deserve pride… if they can capture it.”

“Guardians die here? Then all humans know Fallen are strong people. Powerful people. Good to be friends with powerful people, yes? Maybe help Variks convince Eliksni to be friends with Tower and City?”

“Fallen approach. Enough to board and commandeer ketch. Take it as prize. Not too many for Guardians? When Eliksni were great, would have been enough to flay ten by ten Guardians. That is point of pride no one can steal from Variks.”

Cabal

“Cabal are eager to kill Guardians. Not much chance of gaining honor in Prison. Killing Guardians helps Cabal feel like they are still Cabal.”

“Cabal are watchers. Like Variks. Like Queen. Watch enemies. Learn from enemies. Get better at defeating enemies. Teach us Guardians… ways to kill Cabal.”

“Variks allows prisoners to build onto cells. Make cells feel like home. Cabal decorate cell in fire and endless war. What home is thaaaatt?”

“Cabal are strong… and slow. Easy to hit. Easy to dodge. Eliksni are quick. Move in and out. Good friends to have when fighting Cabal, yes? Maybe more Eliksni think like Variks. Help Guardians fight Cabal. Would be good, yes?”

“Cabal are not afraid to die. Psions not only slaves. All Cabal: slaves to duty. Death is only freedom from duty. From respon-si-bility. Guardians free Cabal.”

Vex

“Vex build and build. Always building new things. Fallen are cleverer. Fallen steal what already built. What already works. Much easier. Much quicker. Vex not as clever as Fallen… just… trickier.”

“Vex cannot steal. Do not know how. Do not understand other spe-cies. Vex cannot adapt because they cannot steeaal from others.”

“What are Vex building in Prison of Elders? Awoken did not bring them here. Variks cannot keep them here. Variks thinks they are here because you are here, Guardians.”

“Fallen good at stealing from Vex. Even a Skolas can steal technology from Vex. Good to have friends steal from enemies. Maybe Eliksni and Guardians work together because of Variks, yes?”

“See Vex nestled in their machines? Smell like freshly scrubbed metal. Crack them open. Inside, Vex smell like ocean that is dyyyying.”

“When Guardians kill Vex, Vex learn. So does Variks. So does the Queen. Each death makes Vex smarter. Do Guardians become smarter with each death? Variks not sure [fallen noises that may be laughter].”

Hive

“Hive are old. Bodies decaying. Ships rotting. Were Hive great once? Had shiny ships? Perhaps it is HIVE who should be called Fallen [growling barking laughter].”

[the “it is” and “who” are a slight break from Variks’ typical voice, but I’m willing to allow it this once.]

“Hiiivve. Eaters and breakers. Nothing remains when they are done. Fallen are keepers. Do not destroy anything. Just seek to survive. Hive think surviving only possible when killing and destroying.”

“Hive make little kingdom here in Prison. Make it out of slime and shadows. Guardians remind Hive this is not kingdom. They are prisoners… scheduled for justice.”

“Variks watches Hive. Hive sink into shadows. Burrow into emptiness. Variks smells Hive’s scent. Smells like air on Eliksni homeworld… during the Whirlwind.”

“Guardians kill and destroy Hive. Hive do not care. Happy with death and destruction. Do not care about source nor about target. Guardians die? Hive die? For Hive, good that there is death at all.”

Thoughts so far:

The idea of using plural forms of Cabals and Vexes and Fallens didn’t pan out because it just didn’t feel natural; I didn’t naturally gravitate towards it. So, obviously my unconscious mind thinks it’s such a bad fit that it wouldn’t even let me experiment with it.

2) Announcing new wave

N/A: Done with sound effect and lighting effect; no dialogue.

(Taking some of this dialogue from previous draft and adding it to other areas of dialogue.)

3) Announcing Special Objective

2nd Draft of New Dialogue

“Prisoners attempting to free leader. Escaping through this chamber. Leader is not dead? Prison’s automatic systems kill everything in room.”

“Important prisoner thinks it can escape Prison. Cannot. Automatic defense systems will kill everything in chamber… even Guardians. Unless Guardians kill target first.”

“Variks cannot keep all prison systems fixed. Broken mines have activated themselves. Will kill everything in chamber. Help Variks, yes? Destroy malfunctioning mines.”

“Mines have acti-vated. Used during prison break. Must be malfunction in system. Prison is not maintained as much as Variks would like. Shoot mines before they kill everything in chamber… including Guardians.”

“Shielded mines have armed themselves. Most unusual. Not suppossssed to do that. Cannot be shot. Must be dismantled. Or else everything in chamber is killed. Safety precaution for escapes.”

“Variks uses shielded mines. Stop prison escapes. Execute Queen’s justice. Variks forgot to disable mines when Guardians entered prison [Fallen snarling that could be laughter}. Dismantle mines, yes? Variks will rebuild them later.”

“Mines have gone mad. Destroy them, Guardians. Why not use mines to kill all prisoners? Why use Guardians? Would not learn about enemies. Would not learn how they fight.”

4) Announcing completion of wave

N/A: Similar to announcing start of new wave, this part can be done with sound effect and lighting effects.

5) Announcing Arrival of Reward (Happens after completing special objectives)

2nd Draft of New Dialogue

“Variks is pleasssed. Sending trinket for Guardians. Find at cen-ter of roooom.”

[victorious snarling] “Well done, Guardians. Variks has placed simple bauble at room’s center.”

[victorious fallen noises] “Small gesture. Heavy ammunitions at center of room. Guardians are pleased? Remember gesture, yes?”

“Guardians have scavenged victory in Prison. So, Variks scavenges… scorch can-non… for Guardians. Find in center of chamber, yes?”

“Variks has sent lit-tle treas-ure for Guardians. Usssse it. Guardians not use it? Guardians are wasteful. Variks sends no more lit-tle treas-ures.”

“Variks finds trinket while scavenging. Has no use for it. Give it to Guardians. Guardians are pleased, yes?”

6) End of round

2nd Draft of new dialogue

“Nothing remains, Guardians. Have killed everything in this chamber. Except for each other. Do not kill each other. Variks needs Guardians to kill prisoners in next chamber.”

“Interesting. Variks learns much about enemies of Reef. Will tell Queen. Queen will be pleased. Pleased with Variks and with Guardians. Good to be friends with Variks, yes?”

“Many Awoken watch Guardians battle and are impressed. Variks is not impressed. Variks already knows how strong Guardians are. Come back to airlock and Guardians can impress Awoken again in next chamber.”

“Guardians are very good at killing. Cleaning out Prison for Variks. Making space for more prisoners. Learn from new prisoners. Then Guardians kill again.”

“Variks chooses Guardians skillfully, yes? Chooses strong Guardians to fight in Prison of Elders. Strong Guardians should come to airlock. Prepare for next round of combat.”

“Guardians die? Variks sells armor and weapons. Keeps ghost for himself. But Guardians not die. This is also good. Come back to airlock, nothing to be afraid of [fallen noises]…”

“Variks learns much from watching Guardians kill aliens. Guardians fight differently than Awoken. What do enemies do when fighting Guardians? Die. Yes, yes, obviiiousss. Also, fight more desperately. Fight like cornered animals. The Queen will want to know about this.”

“For moment, Variks thought Guardians would die. No. Guardians salvage victory. Guardians are survivors. Just like Varrriks.”

“Some try to hide in Prison. Does not work. Guardians do not hide. Guardians agree with Variks there is no room for Dreg tactics in Prison.”

“Guardians have survived. In next round… show Variks more surviving. Do what you did again, and Guardians will survive. Simple.”

[Decided not to go with faction specific endings for rounds. Didn’t seem like I was coming up with anything interesting or creative that couldn’t be done in the Round Introduction instead. So, I moved a few of those Round End dialogues that were faction specific and sent them to be used in the Round Introduction.]

[End of round dialogue probably needs most work. A good place to emphasize Variks’ personality or Fallen cultural beliefs.]

7) Introducing Boss

Val Aru’un (Energy shields powered by psions; different psion provides different elemental defense)

“Val Aru’un is like his commander. But, not as ssstrong. Aru’un needs his subordinates to give him strength. Has no strength of his own. Good for battlefield? Not good for Prison.”

Pilot Servitor (Teleports and uses shock grenades?)

Fallen are clever, yes? Take Pilot Servitors meant for navigation. Improvise weapons and grenades. Teach Servitor to fight. No need for navigation in Prison, yes? Fallen know how to make most of tools they have.

Wretched Knight (??? Seems like he just has a lot of health.)

Wretched Knight. Big and strong. Guardians are small and strong. Will that be enough?

Overmind Minotaur (Detainment fields trap Guardians.)

“Vex believe in mimetic conflict. Copy tactics of enemies. Use against enemies. Vex see Awoken trap enemies in Prison. So… Vex use prisons to trap Guardians.”

Valus Trau’ug (Shield changes elemental defense every time it is destroyed.)

“Valus Trau’ug. Adaptable Cabal commander. Trau’ug is pushed back… changes defense strategy. Difficult to combat. Must be adapting as often as him.”

Kaliks Reborn (Can consume Archon servants to regain health.)

“Kaliiiikkss. Rebuilt from scavenged pieces. Servitors were made to provide Eliksni with ether. Eat, live, thrive. Kaliks has become very Fallen. Kaliks steals BACK ether it once gave away.”

“See how clever Eliksni are? Even in Prison, find way to rebuild Servitor. Very resourceful. Find pieces. Make machine work. Variks will be sad when Guardians destroy proof of Eliksni cleverness. But, not tooo sssaaddd.”

Gulrot the Unclean (Spews bile that slows the players.)

Gulrot the Unclean. Slow and deadly. Like most Ogres. Guardians get close to Gulrot, maybe they become slow and unclean, too?

Urrox the Flame Prince (Floor is lava.)

“Urrox, the Flame Prince. Royalty, but imprisoned. Burns with rage and shame. Thinks only Hive should set foot on Urrox’s ‘land’. Not Urrox’s land. Prison. Remind Hive where they are, Guardians.”

Qodron the Gatelord (Detainment bubbles trap players; Killing Qodron’s Eye gives buff for breaking out of bubbles.)

Why does Qodron remain in Prison? Variks cannot keep it here. Perhaps Qodron is here for Guardians. Vex always create backdoors to THEIR prisons. If Qodron wants to trap Guardians, there is always key to help escape Vex traps.

8) End of Prison

2nd Draft of New Dialogue:

“Very good, Guardians. You have completed Prison of Elllllders. Variks has learned much about fighting enemies of the Reef. Justice has been executed on prisoners. Prisons have been cleaned out. Variks is pleased. The Queen is pleased. Wills you treasure. No scrounging or scavenging for you. Come to airlock. To Queen’s personal treasury. Baubles and prizes make you rich. Make you stronger. You will remember how Variks helps you, yes? You will remember how the Reef helps you, yes? Everything is gooooddd. But forget about mines, yes?”

“You have cleaned out much of Prison of Elders. Many enemies of the Reef have been executed. The Queen is please. Variks is pleased. It is good to have strong, killing Guardians in the Reef with so many enemies about. Come down below. The Queen says you get treasures and trinkets. Much wealth for the Guardians. It is good to have such wealthy, giving friends in the Reef, yes?”

Thoughts on second draft and goals for next step

So, things are getting there. There’s still some rough edges, but this some good progress.

Variks’ voice, his use of fractured sentences, has become a lot more consistent. I’ve polished up the various lore references and Variks’ judgments on other alien species (and players). I’ve done more to bring out the nature of his social climbing with the Guardians.

Really, I haven’t added that much from the first draft, I’ve really just polished and edited the things that were already there. Which is surprising. I was expecting that I’d have to do some major rewrites, trash most of the lines and just rewrite them from scratch, but everything actually kind of came out right in the first draft (in terms of WHAT Variks is saying and not HOW he says it).

I gave up on using weird plurals (Hives, Awokens, etc.) as I mentioned earlier.

Also, my ideas for the use of articles (the, a, an) never really came up. Variks’ PoE dialogue doesn’t really create a lot of situations where I can play around with that. I’ll probably get rid of it where it appears (“a Skolas”), although I’ll keep “the Queen” and “the Reef”; it feels right and it could be explained as Variks thinking that’s the full name “The’Queen” and “The’Reef”.

I think I did use more of the “yes?” question tag.

It’s actually hard for me to tell if I added more lines involving Variks’ struggle for more social capital, examples of Fallen “theft reciprocity”, and wistfulness for by gone days of the Eliksni. I don’t think there’s anything that wasn’t there already.

I also didn’t add any elements showing Variks’ darker side, his crueler side. I definitely would like to do that because I think it lends a certain depth to his character.

That’s what I’ll try to focus on in the third round of drafts (since in the 2nd round I’ve kind of done a good job with his voice).

I think the dialogue for when Rewards are announced is a little weak. So is the end of the round dialogue. Not too happy about the end of the prison dialogue, but honestly I’m not too concerned about it either because it is the dialogue heard least frequently.

Also, is it just me, but does Variks speak in present tense to unusually large degree? When trying to write in Variks’ voice I found myself gravitating heavily towards present tense.

EXPLANATION OF NEXT SECTION

So, the next section isn’t actually the third draft of these lines.

To try to get more of those story and character based concepts into the dialogues I ended up writing from scratch a whole batch of other lines, but instead of being geared towards a section of PoE I wrote them to fit a specific storytelling goal.

These would be the storytelling goals I was trying to fulfill.

1) Smell being important to Fallen
2) Effects of refugee lifestyle on cultural beliefs (scavenging/stealing/theft reciprocity/liberal concept of ownership)
3) Bolstering social capital and status/influence among humans and awoken
4) Humor
5) Variks’ dark side
6) Variks’ pride for Fallen/Eliksni
7) Examples of measuring value in terms of efficacy and utility
8) Examples of measuring value in terms of emotions and sentiment
9) Remembering stories, telling stories is important for maintaining cultural identity.

In the next section I’m posting by second draft of the lines, since they weren’t that different than the first.

What ended up happening is I took the second drafts of the lines written to fit a section of PoE and the second drafts of lines written to fit a storytelling goal and merged them together to form the third and “final” draft of the dialogue lines.

PART 5:

SECOND DRAFT OF DIALOGUE LINES

(WRITTEN TO ACCOMPLISH SPECIFIC STORYTELLING GOALS)

1) Smell being important to Fallen

“This arm of House Wolves have given up. Become like animals. Do not write their stories. Do not groom their scents. Disgust Variks. Might as well be killed.” //start of fallen round

“Variks has been told Guardians use only vision. Do not use scent. What does battlefield look like without scent? Must look so empty.” //end of round

“Variks did not smell fear on you when Guardians entered Prison. This is good. Fear makes Fallen braver and more vicious.” //start of fallen round

“Variks has heard that Guardians do not use smell during battle. This is good defense when fighting Hive. Hive smell like… hopelessness… terrible thing to feel during battle.” //start of hive round

“Fallen know when Vex approach. Air smells like leaking generator. Try scenting Vex, Guardian. More reliable than just looking out for them.” //start of vex round

“Well done, Guardians. Variks will remember your scents.” //end of round

“Are you trying hard enough to smell your enemies. It is easier to hunt them down or know when they hunt you.” //end of round

“Smell that Guardian. Variks has sent Scorch Cannon into chamber. Very distinctive smell, yes?” //announcing reward

“Do not use your eyes alone, Guardians. Scent for your enemies. Easier to hunt them. Easier to avoid being hunted.” //???

2) Effects of refugee lifestyle on cultural beliefs (scavenging/stealing/theft reciprocity/liberal concept of ownership)

“Fallen call Guardians, ‘Light-stealers’. Think you stole Traveler’s Light. Variks knows truth. Nothing can be stolen from Traveler. That is power of Great Machine.” //start of fallen round

“You will be ambushed with darlings and treasures.” //end of prison

Variks has left gifts for you. Pillage them in center of chamber.” //announcing reward

“Variks has left trinkets in center of room. Guardians can steal them. It is alright… Variks isn’t watching.” //announcing reward

“Guardians have such strong armor to survive. Variks would like to inspect your armor when you return.” //end of round

“Do not leave ammunitions behind. Collect them, collect them. Leave nothing behind except the-dead. Then return to airlock.” //end of round or announcing reward

“My Queen pillaged loyalty from House Wolves. House Wolves stole loyalty back. Gave to Skolas. Now House Wolves docked of Kell, docked of loyalty, docked of purpose. Might as well be dead.” //start of fallen round

“House Wolves betrayed my Queen. Some Wolves asked Variks to join them. Variks did not trust their two handed friendship… no offense Guardian.”

“Hive. Try to bury enemies like tide. Rush at them with many numbers. Do not let them win with their two handed tactics, Guardians.”

3) Bolstering social capital and status/influence among humans and awoken

“Gaining much glory and darlings? Good things. Guardians tell Tower about Variks, yes? Tell them what good friend Variks is. Variks makes friends with more Guardians.” //end of round

“Mines have accidently activated themselves. They will kill everything, including Guardians, if not disarmed. Very exciting, yes? Tell your friends about how exciting Prison of Elders is.” //announcing special mission

“Awoken Paladins waiting to enter Prison for training. But Variks lets Guardians in first. Good to be friends of Variks, yes?” //start of round?

“Queen wants to give shiny trinkets to Awoken Paladins. Variks convinces her to hoard away for Guardians. Give Awoken Knights lesser prizes. Variks is a good friend to Guardians, yes?” //end of prison

4) Miscellaneous Humor

“Guardians fight fiercely… like Fallen Barons. But, not Kells. Not tall enough. Must be very tall to fight like Kells.” //end of round

“When you die, you are repairable. Variks is not. This is why you enter Prison and Variks observes from distance.” //end of round

“Guardians fight surprisingly well with only two arms. ” //end of round

“Guardians carry enough weapons to defeat 10 rounds of Prison. Where do you keep them all? Hide them in little holes, do yo?/Tell Variks your secrets.” //end of round

5) Variks’ dark side

“Variks does not care for House Wolves. Kill them Guardian. Gift them painful death. Variks will not howl for them. House Wolves did not howl for Variks when Skolas [angry Fallen noises]” //start of fallen round

“Vex came to Prison. Taking up space. Variks does not want them here. Smash them, Guardian. Soak ground with their white minds. [fallen growling]” //start of vex round

“Cabal think they are powerful, honorable, great. Variks spits on their thoughts. Dock their arrogance, Guardian. With sharp, sharp violence.” //star of cabal round

6) Variks’ pride for Fallen/Eliksni

“I am pleased and disgusted you did so well. Fallen should have this gift of Great Machine. Instead Guardians have Great Machine’s blessings. Guardians are friends of Variks, though, so it is okay.” //end of round

“When Eliksni were great, Variks could create more powerful gifts than just heavy ammunitions/scorch cannon. Of course, when Eliksni were great Variks wouldn’t even look at Guardians. One good thing from Whirlwind… forces Variks to make new friends.”

7) Examples of measuring value in terms of efficacy and utility

“Have left trinket for you at center of room. Scorch Cannon… capable of killing two skiffs of Fallen as well as Vandals hiding among rocks behind you.” //announcing reward

“Low ranking Cabal. Five by four Fallen could successfully steal from these Cabal. Incur only two to three casualties and make off with enough Cabal machinery to build Servitor and repair Skiff.” //start of cabal round

“Fallen invade Prison chamber. Quantity requiring ether produced by at least three Servitors. Two Servitors would be inadequate.”
“Fallen being released into Prison chamber. Enough that four Servitors would be needed to provide enough ether to keep them alive and moving.”
//start of fallen round

“Number of Vex entering chamber would be adequate for fending off six by three Fallen. Not enough for fending off three Guardians.” //start of vex round

“Cabal have enough ammunition and arms to fend off attack by seven House Winter raiding bands for roughly three days. But not enough to fend off Guardians for half an hooouuurrr.”

“Half hour in Prison creates as much experience as three hours in wilderness. Very profitable.”

“Cabal are strong, powerful, but slow. Like army of Spider Tanks. Three squadrons of Cabal are like one Fallen Tank.” //start of cabal round

“Cabal. Seven by six typical Cabal are equivalent to one Spider Tank in terms of strength, power, and speed. Five spider tanks worth of Cabal enter chamber.” //start of cabal round

“Hive entering chamber. Quantity sufficient to level one fifth of a Ketch.” //start of fallen round

8) Examples of measuring value in terms of emotions and sentiment

“Excellent gift you have given me. Knowledge of enemy tactics. Knowledge Variks can present to Queen.” //end of round

“Considerable entertainment can be scavenged in Prison of Elders. Makes it valuable place.” //end of round

“Knowledge of how enemies fight. Understanding of Guardian powers. You have created many gifts for Variks today.” //end of round

“You make the Reef and the Tower stronger with friendship. This round of Prison was very profitable.” //end of round

“Guardians have made Variks more knowledgeable on enemy tactics. Variks’ ignorance is reduced by several weeks worth of observation. Very profitable day for Variks.” //end of round

“Prison gives us chance to learn about our enemies. Also to punish them and make them suffer. Also to mock them. So much profit in Prison of Elders.” //end of round

“You are gaining much experience fighting your enemies. Very useful for when you fight them in their own territory. This is a good gift Variks has given you, yes?” //end of round

9) Remembering stories, telling stories is important for maintaining cultural identity.

“You do not have to write stories? Your little Ghost remembers them for you? Very useful. Maybe you can show Variks your ghost when you finish?” //end of round

“Fallen die so quickly in Prison. They scratch stories into anything they can find. Walls, doors, dirt. They will carve your armor full of stories if they kill you Guardian.” //start of fallen round

CONCLUSION OF SECOND DRAFT OF STORYTELLING LINES

So, this actually helped a lot and I think combining this second draft with the other second draft really improved on the writing overall.

I took both second drafts and combined the together. Sometimes cutting certain lines, sometimes combining lines from different second-drafts, sometimes just leaving the lines as they were.

At this point, chronologically “Part 1” of this blogpost would have come next. And then I would have combined everything to form a single blogpost.

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. worldturtle

    Full disclosure, I haven’t read past “THE END.”

    I liked it! The extra dialog tells you a hell of a lot more about the cultures of the enemies you’re fighting, it explains Varik’s motivations, and it gives some context for why the Awoken might build an elaborate resort prison instead of killing their enemies. I especially liked the dialog for the bosses: you get a hint of the gimmick and a glimpse of the factions’ role in the larger universe.

    The issue with the majority of your dialog is that it’s too long. The original dialog, quality aside, is short and fast. When you enter a arena in Prison of Elders, there’s a brief cutscene as Variks gives his narration, and then the encounter starts. At a mechanical level, the purpose of that cutscene is to mask a load. That load is about 3-5 seconds long, so that’s how long the narration gets to be. Any longer than that and the player can start moving around, at which point they have probably started to ignore Variks.

    Think about the “stand around and talk a bunch” scenes in Half-Life 2. They’re looooong and pretty damn boring. Plus, the player has free range to roam around the room, grab monitors and beakers and stuff, and then ping pong things off the heads of the stoically grim talking automatons. Which sort of undermines the drama.

    Now I should clarify that these two things are not exactly equal. Half-Life wasn’t letting you play the game at all, whereas in this hypothetical Prison of Elders, Variks is telling you about ‘darlings’ while you’re busy shooting fallen in the face. It’s pretty inoffensive.

    The reason I started down this whole tangent is that some of those would not work. Your dialog about mines is universally too long. The situation is stressful, enemies are active, and you’re probably trying to talk to your teammates and coordinate who goes where (you usually have to spread out to handle all of the mines in time). Having another voice that you have to talk over means maybe someone doesn’t wind up where they need to be and then you die.

    Then you get to hear Variks tell you about the mines again.

    That’s the other reason the original dialog is so short I think. Prison of Elders is intended to be played over and over, so by keeping the dialog brief, the repetition isn’t as notable.

    But again, you make some excellent points. Most of the wave start and stop chatter could be replaced by simple tones, patterns of lights, or some other non verbal indicator. Similarly, there are lots of other (indeterminably long) loading screens that could benefit from more varied (and better) dialog. Or maybe (crazy talk here) they could put some of their lore into the actual game. Maybe you could walk up to Variks in the Reef and ask him what he _really_ thinks about the Hive. That would be great!

    Like

    • Philtron

      Ah, the infamous World Turtle strikes again. Long Fox told me that you and Vraz Maegôl had been defeated at the Wyrmroad, but I should have known it would take more than Nethervoid magiks to defeat you!

      Haha, but seriously, thanks for the comment, old buddy.

      Yes, while writing this I was aware of the problems with line length and repetition. I tried to keep most of the lines kinda short and tried to make sure there was a high number of them so repetition wouldn’t be as big problem, but ultimately I decided to focus just on writing some good, engaging, informative dialogue, whether it perfectly fits mechanically or not. The benefit of this is that there are some simple solutions to the issues with dialogue being too lengthy or repeating too many times:

      1) Solution for repetition and lengthy lines: Cut those lines of dialogue. The great thing about writing “too much” dialogue is that you can always just take some of it out and you still have plenty of dialogue left over.

      2) Solution for lengthy lines: Extend pauses between waves. Extend the time between waves to accommodate lengthier dialogue. This would also give players a chance to take a breather, manage their inventory or whatever, which could be a good thing in a hectic game mode like this.

      3) Solution for repetition: If we want to get real fancy with our programming we can just have the game remember whether the players are repeating a round or playing it for the first time. If the player enters Wave 2 Round 2 for the first time the game plays a sound effect and some dialogue; if the players are repeating that wave then only a sound effect plays and no dialogue.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed what I wrote. And I think we all can agree that Destiny needs some seriously better storytelling and worldbuilding… even Bungie. Currently, Bungie has a job listing for a Head of Narrative Development. It is a “management position focused on mentoring Narrative Department team members” which will “develop training processes and present growth opportunities for individual team members” and “Identify training opportunities to broaden the skillsets of the teams” and “Review and research narrative-related tools, methods, education, reference materials, and cutting edge techniques to implement into development pipelines.” So basically, Bungie is looking for someone to TEACH THEIR WRITERS THAT THEY ALREADY HIRED HOW TO WRITE. I honestly don’t know whether to laugh or just shake my head in disgust. I wish I could get hired to a full time job I don’t know how to do and then be trained on how to do it.

      Like

Speak, mortal, if you dare...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s