In building its impossibly huge universe, the team behind Star Citizen are adding layers of depth that other games can only really dream of. A universe with a beating heart is what fans and backers of the project have been asking for since the very beginning. They're an easy to please bunch, right?
With the latest installment of their developer diaries series, the #StarCitizen devs have definitely shown that they are going above and beyond in keeping their promise to deliver a universe fans can truly care about. Why? Well, the video features Britton Watkins, a passionate xenolinguist, talking about (and in) two new constructed languages that have been formed just for this game.
Britton Watkins, The Man Who Creates Alien Languages, Is Working On 'Star Citizen'
In the video, Watkins ventures into the rabbit hole of how he went about constructing the languages of two of the known civilizations in Star Citizen: the Vanduul and the Xi'An. Although this is a task that I can imagine isn't so easy to pull off, Watkins does have plenty of experience to back him up.
He not only taught the cast of Star Trek: Into Darkness how to speak Klingon and learnt the language of the Na'vi from Avatar, but he has also constructed several other languages for his own independent projects—there's me struggling with intermediate German and he's building whole languages for fun.
How He Constructed The Vanduul Language
The two ancient species in Star Citizen are vastly different from one another, with the Vanduul being much more aggressive than the Xi'An. The Vanduul first appeared on humanity's radars in 2681 when they raided and attacked human colonies, and nothing has really changed in our relationship with them since that moment. They are disparate and barbaric according to the UEE (United Empire of Earth), but are far more than savages.
To create the language of the Vanduul, Watkins first had to imagine something that sounded as powerful and as aggressive as they are. It is also an isolated language, meaning that it's pretty much Hungarian—very, very lonely on the family tree of languages. Well, at least it means that it's not really related to anything else.
Watkins also had to devise what the written language would look like, and his process for this started off, quite rightly, with a battlefield covered in blood. He imagined that after a successful raid, the Vanduul would slash their talons into the bodies and the ruins of the vanquished, and slowly, but surely, writing was born. If that is how they write, then I am one hundred percent worried about what the rest of their daily lives look like.
The Two Dialects Of The Xi'An
The Xi'An are the masters of diplomacy and, with the ability to outlive humans by a matter of centuries, they really do have time for everyone. Except, of course, people trying to terraform one of their planets without permission. In fact, we couldn't have met the Xi'An under more atrocious circumstances—you can always rely on humans to break down the door before trying the bell. According to the data, we briefly had time to say hello to each other before a 259 year cold war broke out.
To construct the language of the Xi'An, Watkins had to take into consideration their elongated timelines and their history. Their Empire is an absolute hereditary monarchy that comprises of 14 systems and a huge military force. Every Xi'An is required to serve in this military for at least 30 years. For Watkins, this was the perfect opportunity to create a separate lower dialect that is spoken in the barracks, the mess halls and the bars of a Xi'An world.
The upper dialect, which only differs slightly from the lower one, is used in government, art and education. Think of the upper dialect a bit like proper English spoken on the news, or the Queens English, and the lower dialect more like pigeon English.
This Is The Level Of Depth 'Star Citizen' Fans have Paid For
We all know too well how ambitious Star Citizen is trying to be. Off the back of $140 million crowdfunded dollars, they want to build an entire universe to explore, as well as an FPS called Star Marine as a bit on the side. After its pretty catastrophic early development stages, the game looks like it is truly picking up pace—despite already two years past the original release date.
It looks gorgeous, and the universe seems more immense than anyone could have imagined. But finally we are starting to see how the team is really reaping the benefits of having a crowdfunded beginning. Yes, I'm talking about getting Andy Serkis to play as a Vanduul, but also in creating whole languages for the tongues of our alien friends. I'm pretty sure this is the level of depth that the backers have been waiting to see.
What do you think about the two new languages in Star Citizen?