What is worldbuilding? (Elden Ring)

Oh, you’re seeking the Calcified Veil are you? [dry laugh] Well, you won’t find it here, among the Earfolk… get out while you can, chosen one. There are only podcasts here. [creepy chuckle]

Hello. What I’ve just done is called worldbuilding. Did you like it? Oh, well, never mind. I’ve got someone here who’s much better at it. In this episode of Hey Lesson, we talk to games writer Jon Ingold of Inkle Studios about the process of worldbuilding. What exactly is it? How important is it? And how do the scribblers of games, TV and film use it without falling into a deep cavern of useless lore? We’re interested because fantasy RPG Elden Ring has just come out, with author George R R Martin contributing to the game. How much exactly, we don’t know. But we can ask games journalist Ed Thorn what he felt about this latest game from creators of notoriously difficult Soulsbornes.

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Would you quit the city to work on a farm? (Stardew Valley)

The printer is broken, your manager wants those reports by 5pm, and the guy in the cubicle next to you is humming Baby Shark again. It’s enough to make you want to walk out of this office, take a long bus ride out of the city, and go live on a farm. Well, damn, maybe you can. Stardew Valley is a farming simulator beloved by many precisely because it lets you live out this fantasy. But we know somebody who’s done it in real life. We brought farm worker and lapsed city boy Nader Kaddour on to Hey Lesson to ask: is farm work as calming and rejuvenating as it is in Pelican Town? The answer, as always, is not straightforward. Also joining us for this episode is writer Paul Dean, who has his own opinions about the residents of such a seemingly idyllic village.

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What would alien life look like? (Mass Effect)

Look outside at earth’s life. Trees, birds, flowers, buses. Truly, it is a bounty of the universe. But could other planets host life? And if so, what would it look like? I don’t know, I’m just a podcast man. But one person who might know is Laura Rodriguez, astrobiologist at NASA. This episode we talk to her about the possibility of organic matter on other worlds, and how far it’ll probably be from the alien spacefriends of the Mass Effect trilogy. Also joining us to talk about said spacefriends is Imogen Beckhelling, noted Krogan liker and lore knower of the Mass Effect galaxy. So much knowledge this month! Come on in.

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