When I initially wrote The Gates of Vienna, the book that is supported by this Bastion software and was the reason I built it, I was interested in how you design the reading of books in today’s day and age. It didn’t end there though, because I was equally interested in how you design the writing. That was when I believed things shouldn’t necessarily end, or was at a post-modern phase of my life or something.
I have a bit of an Impostor’s Syndrome when it comes to being an author. Even saying an author is a copout because it’s not saying necessarily I’m a writer. Words! They’re so powerful and you can do so much with them. Imagine that. But writing is what I did a lot of for this thing and what I should be doing more of basically all the time but don’t.
Writing for Bastion is sometimes difficult. Writing for anything really is a lot of times difficult. The advantage of writing the Gates of Vienna as an author is that I could add in stuff whenever. This, believe it or not dear reader, was on purpose. But, this means it’s hard to finish things, or know when to finish. Because you don’t really have to. Writing characters, like the one new Point of View that I had been working on, is a bit all over the place. You write this, you write that, you squeeze in this hunk and then that. This is how you write and this is how Bastion works really.
It’s about not making neat little packages with the hero rescuing the princess at the end, it’s about making worlds. You create that world and it goes on to create more and more of itself. You create a place where your characters live and places that they see, ride horses across and eat sandwiches at. They’re things to explore and things that end can’t be endlessly explored, and the world keeps on expanding ad infinitum which I was convinced the way writing should go. You can read in more than one way, and things can be added at any time. It’s alive, a literary Frankenstein so get your pitchforks ready but a lot of this has changed now. Writing that doesn’t end also just sort of dissipates. It fizzles out slowly.
This is the story of product, this one and just about any other. You start with vigour and your veins filled with piss and vinegar and you’re going to change the world, or maybe a tiny part of it if you’re lucky. And then after a couple of years, you’re just grinding it out. Writing is hard, and making digital software products is hard. It’s even harder when they just don’t end, just keep on growing and changing.
So what have we (meaning I) learned from trying to write and build a novel that wouldn’t or didn’t have to end and a digital book that could change indefinitely forever? That endings are good and something we always aim to avoid in this day and age and in this digital world that we now all live in. We avoid endings because it means the hope is over. But maybe we should look at it another way. Ends are natural and the reason we’re miserable is because we’re fighting what is natural, letting things end.