As I write this Faith is glancing at me from my second screen desktop, a glint in her eyes and mouth slightly open as if she was just about to say something but then thought better of it. She looks sad and defiant, her jet black hair covering part of her face, and her eye tattoo just visible in the limited light. Like Jhony, our art director, said: “This is a girl that actually tattooed her eye. You do that for a reason.” Considering the pain involved it has to be one hell of a reason.
I’ve captured this image of her from one of our earliest in-game cut-scenes. The scene shows her being released from a juvenile detention facility where she has spent the last two years being reformed into a policy abiding employ. She’s about to step out into the city, her city, once again, and she knows nothing about what lies ahead, the discoveries and triumphs, the pain and the loss. I guess I’m fixating on this moment because it marks the separation between Exordium and Catalyst, the comic and the game. It forms a pivot point in Faith’s story, and in her own discovery of who she is and wants to be.
Yes, her eye tattoo is there for a reason, and there’s a reason why she shuns firearms, and why she is a runner, risking her life every day on the rooftops of Glass. Figuring out these reasons, and how to weave them into our narrative is what I’ve spent the last two years working on. Faith is not my creation, I sincerely wish she was, but that accolade goes to those who came before. I’m merely a humble custodian, and perhaps a nurturer, expanding on and evolving what was already there.
I’m a sucker for world building. When creating a narrative I tend to get lost in the backstory and minutiae of everything but the actual narrative for months before the real story begins to make itself known. And when it does, it’s embedded in a context which both influences and is influenced by the events as they unfold. The same goes for the characters; their backstories have shaped who they are, their motives and morals, and how they relate to one another, and I need to have all of that figured out beforehand.
Faith is no superhero, and there was no prophecy heralding her arrival. In some ways she could be any one of us, had we been forced to endure what she has, and in others she is much more; an extreme sports practitioner who makes the impossible look easy, and someone who has the moral courage to take a stand against overwhelming oppression, corruption and injustice.
I knew who Faith was to be when the game started: a careless and rootless young runner, eager to prove herself and haunted by a traumatic past. Someone taking reckless risks, and who in her fierce individualism might occasionally appear selfish, but who deep down is just looking for a family to replace the one she’s lost. And who every day struggles with her own values colliding with those of the cold, harsh society surrounding her.
With those things in mind I mapped out her life leading up the day she is released from prison, choosing and defining the events that have shaped her, none of which would be part of the actual narrative for Catalyst. And so when we began discussing a partnership with Dark Horse to release a comic book series connected to the game I jumped on the opportunity like a starved tick on an inviting, summer-bared thigh. Here was a chance to put that groundwork to good use.
Writing the Exordium comic and seeing it realized by the DICE internal and external artists has been insanely rewarding. It tells the story of how Faith ends up in juvie, and some characters appear in both Exordium and Catalyst. You don’t have to read the comic to understand the game, or vice versa, but I like to think that they strengthen one another and form a complete narrative of Faith’s coming of age and how she transforms from a troubled young woman into a spark that might ignite a revolution, a catalyst for change.
And looking at her again I’m thinking that maybe she’s not sad. Maybe her mouth is showing just the smallest hint of a smile.
One of anticipation.