Tau Station and the Art of Storytelling

At the heart of the Tau Station Universe is the wonderful belief that we are all creators and collaborators in the narrative of life. Carl Sagan, the astronomer and popular evangelist of science education, once said “We are made of star stuff.” We are also made of story stuff.  From the beginnings of humanity, from the moment we gazed deeply into the night sky, we began to ask questions about our place in this greater universe.  And out of this wonderment, this awesome and even frightening sense of the immensity spread out before us, we began to pull down the stars, to hold them within, and to struggle with the hopelessness of our own insignificance.  We began to create stories as a way to give the world around us structure, meaning, and answers. The stories we created offered us a way to become active participants rather than blind, passive victims of circumstance. The stories placed value and meaning in our existence. Through the act of sharing, stories affirmed the commonality of our experiences and relationships. Stories allowed us to bond, to face the darkness together, to communicate, and to give us a sense of continuity as a species.

This legacy of story and storytelling forms the core of our purpose in writing the stories that bring Tau Station to life. As writers, we are committed to the art and craft of creating a universe that is ever evolving, full of life, full of possibilities, and full of choices that are both meaningful and engaging. Our storytellers are initiators of a journey, where you, the player, are considered to be more than an observer. Our stories invite you to become participants and collaborators, where your experience, your own narrative, helps shape the story itself. It is our goal to be invisible creators, to seamlessly present an open universe that allows you to immerse yourself in the daily struggles, joys, and mysteries that form the tapestry of Tau Station. We want to blur the line between player and inhabitant, between gamer and creator.

One of the central questions we ask of ourselves in writing these stories is “Why?” Why this particular story? What motivates us to create these narratives? Let’s back up a moment and think about the science fiction genre. At its most basic level, science fiction is about ideas and problem-solving—that which is possible through human invention, imagination, and creativity. The very best science fiction involves the human element, without which you have ideas but no identifiable context. How these ideas (or circumstances) affect humanity, how it challenges our beliefs, or ethics, our ability to survive and evolve, and our resourcefulness at solving seemingly insurmountable problems, are some of the things that make the genre relatable and timely. It affords us a vehicle to tackle contemporary issues with an incredible amount of freedom. And, in Tau Station, we strive to be as scientifically accurate as possible when exploring such issues. So when we ask ourselves, “Why are we writing these stories?” we are being cognizant of the greater context—that these stories support, expand, illuminate, and articulate our intentions of creating an immersive, “realistic” world. A world of people not so much different than you, who are trying to survive, to prosper, to find some joy, and to make sense of the circumstances they find themselves in.  We care about this universe. We care about its past, present, and future. We want you to join us in exploring this world, to be engaged by the mysteries, to identify with our characters, and to be swept up by a sense of wonderment and adventure. Most importantly, we want to make this experience your very own.  Why? Because it’s a journey we think worth taking. We have sights to see, puzzles and mysteries to solve, people to love and hate, fortunes to be made (or lost), and a future to embrace.

From that central question of “Why?” we come down to a brief look at “How,” we write. The most important factor our writers consider before a single word is written is the setting: The narrative overview of the Tau Station Universe. This is the context that makes up the framework of our colorful story-tapestry. We take into consideration the history of the universe. We understand the current status of the universe. We know the thematic beats that move the overarching story. With all of this in mind, story ideas are born—ideas that give energy and movement to fulfilling our thematic timeline. No story truly stands alone, however. Even a seemingly one-off story will have some element that forms a piece of the greater story.

Our stories are created to expand, explain, and enrich the universe. Each story has within it a plot-seed or -seeds that will germinate into some important contribution that deepens our understanding of the universe.  From a writer offering up a nascent idea or story pitch, to the fleshing out of this idea into more concrete terms, collaboration is the key to successfuldevelopment. To each proposed idea, every writer is invited to contribute their insights, their opinions, and their counter-ideas. It’s a bit like running a gauntlet, from which an idea is shaped into a true story. We take peer-reviews very seriously. Though the originator of the idea has ownership, we expose that writer’s idea to as much constructive input as possible. The lead writer, especially, has the task of making sure the idea is in line with our overall story goals and continuity. From this extensive peer-review, amuch more detailed outline or synopsis is created, which undergoes additional review and/or brainstorming. Once approved by the lead writer and producer, the story is then created in our “Mission Builder.”  The story, now created for in-game play, is tested not only by the writing team but by those not involved with the narrative process. This allows fresh eyes to catch any mechanical or story issues.  Once all the hurdles have been passed, the story goes live. It’s a painstaking process, but one that we feel is invaluable in maintaining a high level of deep, immersive storytelling. While creating stories is an art form, it’s also very much a craft, one at which we strive to master every day.

The writers and developers of Tau Station are dedicated to creating much more than a game. Our ambition, our vision, is to build an experience that approaches the depth and engagement of a great science fiction novel. Story by story, chapter by chapter, we want you to participate in the unfolding book.

We are storytellers who hold the responsibility of this ancient human tradition of shared experience, communication, imagination, and entertainment (let’s not forget fun!), in the gentlest of hands. As storytellers, we are always mindful that without you, the reader, the player, the listener, stories are but an unfinished circle.

We hope you will join us in this extraordinary journey.

Authored by Will Hiles