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Apr 08 2013 -
Knightmare Stories I. - The Genesis of the Genesis
ast year, during the celebrations of Tibia's 15th anniversary Knightmare appeared in Thais and talked with players about his job as content designer. This time, we visited him in the darkest corner of his residence to unearth some of the secrets and mysteries about Tibia's creation story. Are you curious? Lean back and enjoy the genesis of the genesis:

It was soon after I had found Tibia in the depths of the internet that I began collecting ideas for a Tibian genesis. I was in no way affiliated with the game then. So, it was more than questionable if any ideas I had would ever come to fruition. Yet, if Tibia had little to offer in those days, it had one thing in abundance: space for your imagination.

I had read a lot and had played games with more or less fleshed out fantasy worlds. I had even built my own stories, characters, and worlds in my mind. This time, my ideas should become more public though, and thus more specific, fitting the needs of Tibia's particular situation. When I started thinking about an overarching background for Tibia, I wanted it to be adaptable and suitable for an online game.

As already mentioned, little had been established by then. Even Thais did not have a name yet. There were only the most necessary NPCs with a minimal choice of answers. Later on, I was allowed to add some more lines to NPCs. They brought a bit more flavour to the conversations with NPCs but still lacked any reference to a bigger plot or the untold genesis.

It was quite apparent that the game needed a background. Since Tibia was missing its own background, players brought all kinds of ideas from already established fantasy worlds with them in their need to define their characters in the Tibian world. While this patchwork background had its charm, I longed for something more consistent. I also had the feeling that people had to rely on "cheap" ripped off ideas so that others would understand their concepts more easily without lenghty explanations. So, if they called themselves Cimmerian and hailed the god Crom, at least some would know what type of character they had in mind. What they lacked, though, was a common myth that it all fitted in. So we needed own gods and own myths for Tibia, ideally embracing a broad range of needs and tastes.

The initial idea was to write a genesis like real people would write it, describing their world and how it is working. Their genesis would try to explain what they see and experience in their daily life. Given that it is a fantasy world, they might have had some godly inspiration to know the things that preceded the creation of man. Since it was a game world some game mechanics would have to be explained, too. Especially the latter was a result of me being irritated by the fact that common games were full of game mechanics but the game world pretended they were not there, while religions often tried to understand all the oddities of the world according to their dogma. I decided that the genesis should at least explain some mechanics cosmologically, and that it should also be possible to explain others with ingame concepts, should the need arise. Just like real people would include all of their known world in a genesis, I included most creatures that existed in Tibia in the creation story somehow. I created a pantheon of gods to explain some of the most prominent features and creatures of the world, and I included the classic struggle of good and evil. Yet, because written down by humans, I fully intended the genesis to be flawed, to raise questions, and to include possible misconceptions, and perhaps even falsifications. Some things might be taken literally, others not. At least, the possibility of contradictions in the genesis should be given. By leaving room for interpretations and doubts, I hoped to make the genesis interesting and vivid. I wanted it to become part of the game to inspire speculations but also to offer explanations as to why things are the way they are. For instance, it was obvious that there would be game updates. More areas, creatures and stories would be added with time, while in game terms, they had always been there. So, I added the mists of forgetting to the genesis and mentioned that the land was in the process of reawakening. Thus, an update would become a natural thing that fit into the genesis rather than be some oddity players had to accept.

Of course, even then, the genesis was only the beginning. More texts were to follow to flesh out or even to conflict the original genesis. Other concepts were to be added later on, leaving it to players to figure out how they would fit in the genesis and Tibian history. Not even the gods that were mentioned in the genesis would be the only ones introduced. The genesis would be just one source for answers. What "really" happened in the deepest past and what was going on, is an entirely different thing.
However, that was a far-away agenda back then. The very first version of something like a the genesis was a compilation of completely different creation myths by various authors. It was more a collection of samples of fan fiction than anything else. Sometimes, some of the conflicting stories vanished without me having a part in it. I can not recall if I had begun to reference my genesis in NPCs by then. However, when "my genesis" had become "the genesis", the game and the background grew more and more together. The open concept allowed for additions and it was a fun challenge to fit new ideas into existing content. Sometimes, it was rather easy, obvious, and blunt, as new ideas were rather extensions of existing ideas. Other stuff was added in a more subtle way, often hinting at something bigger at work in the background. All in all, there was much room for interpretation and it was possible to include new concepts and stories when the need arose. The background continued to grow and became more and more fleshed out with details, and more rich in themes. I do not really expect people to get everything that I, with the view of the creator, consider a hint. Neither would I expect someone to figure out one of the underlying concepts I "secretly" have in mind for the game world. Yet, now and then someone finds some of those hints, and even more rarely he puts them together in the way I had in my mind. Those who come up with other conclusions or who extend ideas into areas I never have thought of on my own, are not in error. As long as their theories are not disproved by fact, they are as viable as any other theory even if they might contradict some books that exist in the game.

This brings me to another important part of Tibia. The background that is provided by books. In many areas, those books are extensions of the genesis. Even more than the genesis, which tries to describe in parts the not-understandable, books in Tibia do not include hard facts. They were written by fictional people who did some research on their own. They have faults, intentions, prejudices. Their only advantage, so to say, is that they are possibly writing something about a time period they lived in or about something they heard from people who cannot be accessed by players. Then there are the NPCs. They are even more prejudiced and less focused than the book writers. Yet, they might offer valuable information about certain topics. The "ordinary" NPC might give you clues about certain people and organisations. In their case it's extremely important to understand how the person you talk to is related to the topic. A citizen in Carlin might hail another person as a hero, while a guard in Thais calls the same person a traitor, yet again, somebody else might consider the whole affair an unintended accident. It is up to the player to decide which claim has more validity, so the player becomes an actual part of the story and works out his very own personal Tibian genesis.

Did you like it? What about your own personal Tibian genesis?
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