Writing for a book that doesn't necessarily end

Ordinarily, when I tell people about The Gates of Vienna, I explain it regarding what the story does. Now I’ve been asked to speak at a literature festival, which, besides boggling my mind, has flipped how I need to talk about it, which is what it means for writing.

The Gates of Vienna was always intended as a story, not a software demo. However, that story was to be enabled by technology. That’s because not only do I write things, but I also design how people use software for a living. The two things, story and the design of how you read it, were to co-exist peacefully and symbiotically in one big hug of an experiential thing. A lot of that experience is for the person writing.

The Bastion platform essentially allows you to create books that are worlds that don’t necessarily have to start or end that distinctly. This was deliberate.

I like to consider myself a designer and an author. This takes a lot of time. So the author side of me told the designer side of me to figure out a way to have this comedy about a 17th-century siege inside a thing that I can keep on adding to when I get to it. Since nobody is paying me just to sit and write, unfortunately, this was a big deal. The designer side responded by looking at how stories are structured with scenes as a base unit and how you could reconfigure how people could read this. You can add scenes wherever you want because there is no real beginning and end, there are just multiple, overlapping timelines.

Bastion fundamentally flips how literature and stories are written because of the format of the book. Most of the time the format of a book is very rigid. We’ve had to accept that you write stories for a format that is a single, paper-based container that starts on page 1 and ends at the back cover. It should have a table of contents, maybe an index and a bunch of pages about copyright in the beginning that no one reads. If that isn’t enough for the story, you make another book. That is what we’ve understood to be a book. That’s it. For centuries it has been like this. I figured it was time for a change since the old way wasn’t working out for me.