The "hero's journey" is embedded within the roots of every great piece of literature, film and even videogames, perhaps unbeknownst to the writers of such works themselves.
Originally coined by mythologist Joseph Cambell, you can see in the image above how the cycle represents the stories featured within many of your own favourite works.
Does Faria follow suit? Not exactly.
The Writer's Journey
The "ordinary world" as its put, is wild and fantastical in itself. The characters are already heroes (some greater than others), they are stoic and in firm belief of themselves; they all harbour the desire to do good. "Refusal of the Call" is out of the question!
The most satisfying aspect of the "hero's journey", however, is the character development. To see how timid characters grow to fulfill roles of great importance, particularly when they set off, unentirely sure of their own capabilities, is always a joy to watch unfold. That being said, Starfall subverts this iconic structure.
Within the broad tale of Starfall, a tale that encompasses and entwines the life of several characters, I aimed to develop a narrative that provided growth of a different kind. The traits and personalities of the brave, almost fearless characters within Starfall, expand in ways of the unconventional. In many cases, the reverse of what is expected of the "hero's journey".
It is the characters themselves that are what drive the story; it is not the other way around. The urgency of their quest and the many different threads that come together to form the greater, hidden narrative featured within are driven through the many, seemingly unimportant actions of Starfall's large roster of heroes and villains.
When I sat down to pen the many characters, I denied thinking of the possible advantages a certain character archetype might lend to the story further down the line. Having character archetypes was something I wanted to wholly avoid, anyway. In Starfall, you won't find a "sweet and innocent" girl, a "grizzled veteran" guy or an old sage that allows the central character to peer into themselves for a revelation of great importance.
The story would have to take a leisurely pace and unfold in a way that felt "organic", at times that made the most sense, too. So, if this was going to be a large, protracted tale with a slow-burn during its early hours, I'd have to design characters I myself would WANT to see and characters I would WANT to write for regardless of any future narrative importance.
Uniquely, the initial cast of characters that are introduced are already well acquainted. They are all lifelong friends, including a mother and daughter. They are varied in age and sex, too. This, in itself, distances itself from other RPG peers where you build a party "along the way", often embroiling yourself within the mysterious, often melancholy, pasts of your new-found friends to forge stronger bonds. Although you do meet and befriend others along your journey, you actually depart as a well-acquainted fellowship of nine.
It was this desire for an "organically" evolving narrative (yes, I've used the word "organic" too many times) has also (rightfully) denied my usage of certain storytelling techniques. For instance, "flashbacks" are something I will never commit to. Particularly because they often succumb to little more than exposition blobs with little merit, unless the idea of utilizing flashbacks was something conceived as a core storytelling trait like the TV show "Lost".
I did allow the story itself to take control of where its narrative led during certain times, however. Many temporary characters whom I enjoyed limited time with, have grown to have greater roles because of this, as it felt "right" when watching their on-screen interactions, regardless of what I had penned the previous day.
Errors of the Stream
The same applies to the characters seen in "Ghosts of the Stream". When I first set out, I had no intention of seeing the characters return for any future game, (production of Starfall began before it) but I enjoyed my time with them so much, I had to have them return in Starfall within a certain capacity, despite lacking the certain "gravitas" the central characters of Starfall harbour. Indeed, the tone of Starfall is wholly different.
"Ghosts of the Stream" was an admittedly shallow experience with a hastily constructed narrative but it allowed me to plot forward and develop narrative threads that would lead into Starfall. This also applies to lore, which has changed in a variety of ways since "Ghosts" released last year. I have amended the "Ghosts of the Stream" page to detail this further.
I could talk all day about my writing process but it means little to nothing without seeing the results. And of course, the results are what matters. When the game finally releases, I hope the story inside resonates with players and strikes a chord with them. But that being said, even if it doesn't, there's still a fun game hidden inside.