In a WarCry exclusive developer journal by Grace Hagood, a writer and game developer for the upcoming post-apocalyptic MMO, Fallen Earth, fans learn about the development of some of the villain factions in the game. In the second part of the series, Grace discusses a major villain players encounter in the first sector of the game, Casta Gaunt.
From the first time I heard the name Casta Gaunt, I knew he was a bad guy. Names are important. When we name something, we define it. Jolly, carefree characters aren’t named Gaunt. The name conjured an image of a thin man — thin on patience and thin of spirit. It’s also related to the word gauntlet, and Casta rules with an iron fist.
Players first hear rumors of Casta Gaunt when they visit Oilville. Soon, they discover that Casta controls the prison in Old Kingman while his goons harass the local population. By the time players enter the area, Casta’s power is well cemented. Old Kingman is a war zone. The prison and half the town are under Casta’s control. Gaunt’s Raiders have driven refugees north to Needle Eye, where the exiles are barred from the safety of an unwelcoming town. Further, Gaunt’s Raiders have seized the town of Linewood, holding civilians hostage and executing resistance leaders.
Casta’s role wasn’t always that well defined, however. An earlier background included his role as Alec Masters’ head of security. In that first history, after the Hoover Dam fell, he grabbed up remnants of Masters’ flunkies and formed his own group, Gaunt’s Raiders. Over the course of development, he was also pasted into the background of another raider group, the Night Wolves. He had no real goals other than to create havoc for its own sake and control a relatively small area of land.
In short, Casta had a great name, but a rather dull story. I had to figure out what Casta actually wanted. Can a villain simply be a jerk with no ulterior motive? Sure. That works for less-important villains or baddies that you intend to be one-dimensional. It’s doesn’t work so well for major villains, though, and we wanted Casta to be the first major villain in the first major instance of the game.
I worked with a great team of developers for the rewrite of Casta’s history. Part of that rewrite came very naturally through establishing a timeline. We knew when Casta was Masters’ head of security, that he formed the Night Wolves after the Hoover Dam fell, and that he recently left the Night Wolves to form Gaunt’s Raiders.
Not to diverge too much, but it’s worth noting in the list of “Bad Ideas We Were Lucky to Avoid” that the Night Wolves were originally fans of a hair-metal band who became a group of raiders and subsequently took over large swaths of the Upper Plateau. This was when Fallen Earth had a very different tone, and now it’s hard to imagine why we ever thought their back-story was a good idea. Anyway, we rewrote the history of the Night Wolves to remove that bit of lunacy and incorporated Casta.
Then we had to fill in some pieces that weren’t so readily apparent. For that, I went back to my touchstone — Casta’s name. It reminded me of the name Castor, one of the twins of classic mythology. What I drew from that is something you can discover in the game. Suddenly we knew exactly why Casta left the Night Wolves and what he wanted in Old Kingman that he couldn’t get elsewhere. Once we knew that, we were able to tie in all the other pre-existing bits and pieces of story from the surrounding towns to make a cohesive whole.
The three towns of Linewood, Needle Eye, and Old Kingman provide an integrated story that differs from the more isolated single-town gameplay of the starter towns. Players can visit all three towns and follow the major plotlines to discover the back-story that makes Casta such an interesting villain. Eventually, you’ll need to go after Casta himself. Bring friends. Once you’ve demolished Casta’s forces in the prison and taken him out, you might start heading towards Trumbull to deal with those pesky Night Wolves. A clone’s work is never done.