[Media Meandry] Worldbuilding Question Time

If you want to be a writer, most of your time should be spent learning how to write, other than resting your mind, taking care of societal obligations, and otherwise taking care of yourself. Assuming you’ve handled most of that, regardless of whether you play a videogame or broadcast, you should be spending your prime thinking time engaged with writing. Don’t let things distract you from your central goal, but, some distractions can help you.

In this world, there are anthropomorphic entities that are sentient and aren’t.

Why are some entities sentient? When you live life at the Zombiepaperian pace, it might take hours of meandering through thoughts to arrive at a conclusion, but once you have, you’ve explored many different avenues of thought. We explored maybe only 5 to 15 minutes of plot and gameplay today, but throughout the 4-ish hours, we dug through many aspects of what the world actually implied. When a character said “God speed,” that raised questions about the deities within this world. Godspeed means may God bless you with a speed of success. What deity or deities exist in this world?

These are the implications of one word in writing of any sort.

I don’t know if I feel comfortable making this broad-sweeping thought about all writers, but I would say most writers, either of the “classics” or modern writers, don’t think much about their worlds. Most writers comment on exactly what they see as quickly as they can. This makes sense. Newspapers have to report on the news. They might have an occasional eccentric writer meander through a topic in more detail, as an editorial, op-ed, or maybe even a flavor piece from a local celebrity writer? I can’t comment much on the nature of newspaper reporters outside of just scratching the surface, but, see, this is an example of how as soon as I start making broad-sweeping claims, then I can easily be corrected.

Going through a videogame in this level of detail is like actually reading literature.

If you’re reading myriad books per year without much consideration for how the writers are constructing the writing, then you’re doing not much more than watching a movie that appears in text instead of in pretty colors on a screen. If you’re not looking at how writers, published or not, form sentences, then is reading any better than playing a videogame – except out of pretending to consider the nature of literature? Sure, there are literary tricks that you can learn and hone through reading, but, the true test is digging into writing at the writer’s level. The writer had a certain amount of time to write and publish something, but you have a lifetime to meander through written works. You won’t be able to read everything.

I read from two different perspectives.

I read some literature fast to clear it off my plate. Stuff that I won’t get much literary value from but I can gain the reading discipline to complete. [As a full disclosure sidenote, I haven’t read any literature in about three weeks now, but my health is in a complicated position, and I’ve been dedicating less time to reading.] This literature might have started off as the second-perspective literature, where I try to dig in with more detail, only to find the writing is lacking. There’s not much to study or pick apart. The writing might be nice or even fun, but it’s not challenging, so, why dig through it? Save that time and literary analysis for the second-perspective literature where you do dig in more, and don’t be afraid to spend more time with the challenging writing than the non-challenging literature.

Breeze through cheap writing to focus on in-depth writing.

For a videogame like this, we’ve taken the role of understanding the work at its level. Who talks, who doesn’t, and why? What do they eat? If so, my favorite worldbuilding question and all its implications pop up: Do they use the bathroom? If so, where? It’s my favorite not because it’s a lewd question but because it’s an example of something we all do, but, how much do you think of the implications of what we do? So when I use the restroom and flush my toilet, the toilet goes through plumbing and out. I will probably never write about a plumber’s perspective, because that’s not a perspective I have nor do I know anyone that might help consult with me over the accuracies of plumbing information, I can condense the toilet plumbing to about that level.

Thinking at a level like that should be common and critical for writers.

If your character is a human that lives in an apartment complex, and that character flushes a toilet, your responsibility as a writer is to know what happens with that toilet. Is the toilet loud? If the character uses a toilet over the course of one sentence, as Sammohini did in Novel 01, then the assumption is there’s not much structurally different about that toilet system than anything else in our world. If I called attention to certain nuances, like, say, she had to refill the water in a peculiar way, that would be me talking about the worldbuilding difference between her world and ours. Since plumbing wasn’t a deep topic in Novel 01, I didn’t have this extensive conversation with her apartment complex’s developers about the entire plumbing system – and that level of detail is good, too.

If someone is told godspeed in this world, there are gods or a God, and so who is this?

I made a bit of an off-hand joke that they would believe in Veganism, but if we were to explore it outside of a casual broadcast, here are talking vegetables. Do they eat meat? Are they Carnists? We had to explore this topic during the broadcast, as we’re exploring it now, and in future broadcasts of this playthrough, because it’s there in the text. That’s the thing about writing: words don’t matter but words do matter. The words that don’t matter are the ones that connect the words that do matter together. It doesn’t matter to me what common synonymous words I use that connect ideas together, but those ideas are the ones that matter. The English translators for this game specifically chose “God speed” instead of what the Japanese version might have said, so that is an editorial addition that we must explore, given that this provides ramifications to the world.

This is the translator’s responsibility along with you as a writer and editor.

If there was no mention of deities in the original writing, and the translator added this in without consulting the original, this is an irresponsible translation. If the addition clarifies information – say there was mention of deities, but the original was unclear, so the translation adds information in – then that’s good. These are the sorts of things that I think about when I edit. I write daily, but only seldom edit my own material because it’s a different skill that requires much more thought and mental gymnastics. Even a word like gymnastics within this videogame would imply that there are gyms and fitness equipment.

Do these sentient entities need to work out?

When you’re meandering through media, you don’t need to go through it to the degree that I do, either as a bit or intentionally, but it can be helpful to consider your favorite media the next time you sit down with it and consider “so, how do they do this?” Later on in our playthrough, we got to a point when we could take water out from a lake. We received a water-carrying vessel, a non-descript pot, and with this pot, we took three drinks of water from the lake. How did we acquire the pot? What does the pot look like? We didn’t have the pot before, so did we get a pot by taking water from the lake? Does the lake have pot-generating aspects to it? Did we reach into the lake, take a pot that was resting there, and take it with us?

Questions like this shouldn’t be asked by players after the game is published.

When we ask questions like this, sometimes it’s to ruminate on the finer details of a location, and I’ll sometimes do this with places I enjoy seeing in media. Let’s say it’s a real-world location, like Adam Savage’s Cave. There are myriad details throughout the display and workshop parts of the cave that are exciting to look at and think about. “Why is that there? What is that?” These are productive questions that can evoke wonder from the viewer watching as Savage goes and builds a new prop. It’s like hanging out in a cafe and “people watching,” which is to say, idly considering how people are how they are without asking them directly. This is inferior to actually getting to know people, but you can’t get to know everyone, so instead, why not watch people from afar, as I watch the backgrounds of sets evolve and change in media like this or movie sets with continuity errors.

Continuity errors within fiction are caused mainly by a lack of planning.

Planning includes figuring out all the big details of the world you’re writing in. Where the characters go to the bathroom, if, and what they eat are all good questions. Do they eat the same types of food as us? In this videogame, we’re not sure what these entities eat, but they do harvest food, so they’ve established that there is a hierarchy within the plant-based beings. Some beings, like spinach, are subjugated to being harvested. The harvesters wouldn’t, say, slaughter their own people, so they slaughter, instead, entities below them. Maybe this harvestable spinach doesn’t talk? If so, then that might be similar to the Carnistic beliefs concerning when it’s appropriate to eat meat.

These are all the deeper thoughts that are provoked by studying literature.

The writing doesn’t have to be good to be thought-provoking like this. When I let my writer’s brain rest, I’ll watch broadcasts of videogames and chat with people, where I’ll see interesting examples constantly of people writing and various perspectives. I enjoy seeing writing mistakes, and I will be significantly more charitable to my friends than to people I disagree with when it comes to mistakes, as I hope others will be of me as I go to write more formal writing in the future. These essays are all first draft with minimal assistance from spellchecking programs, some that I disagree with, so it’s easier to find typos here than when I write fiction and think about what I’m writing in more detail. The words matter there, whereas here, I’m writing through current ideas to arrive at new ideas.

Here, we aren’t thinking about rebuilding aspects of the universe.

Here, I am writing to you directly about areas of our lives we can work on, either together or independently. I’m reporting on things that I’ve learned, or thinking about ideas, so that I can grow and the resulting growth is evidenced here for years and maybe lifetimes? The ideal would be to have everything I’ve written permanently backed up so there would be no concern about, say, the betterzombie.com domain needing to be renewed and repaid, the domain being safe from web attacks, and so forth. These essays should be seen as the sort of literary side notes that future writers can use to help develop the craft of writing. Writing might seem like a dying media to those more interested in videogames, broadcasts, or other audio/visual formats, but writing is the backbone of all of that. I can read formal, life-changing literature in everything from signposts to recipes. It’s up to us to decide how much of that reading will distract us from our central goals. For me, I play videogames at this pace because this is helping me study and improve my writing.

Speedrunners don’t have this Zombiepaperian writing studying pace.

Quotes: None.
Sources: My personal experiences.
Inspirations: Taking a more in-depth thought meandry through this broadcast.
Related: Other Media Meandry essays.
Screenshot: The scrapbook overlay.
Written On: 2021 July 27 [10:44pm to “need to work out?” at 11:14pm; 11:35pm to 11:55pm]
Last Edited: 2021 July 27 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]


My big goal is writing. My most important goal is writing "The Story." All other goals should work toward that central goal. My proudest moment is the most recent time I overcame some fear, which should have been today. I'm a better zombie than I was yesterday. I'm not better than you and you're not better than me. Let's strive to be better every day.