Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Exodus from Days Before

The world of Red Circuitry is actually a fairly old one.  It has existed in 2 distinct versions prior to the world we are building specifically for this project.  The first dates back to my senior year of high school and an independent study course where I did research on building flash games.  The world I built with my friend Mike Maxson was a simplistic science fiction world, and we learned a great deal about vector graphics, and world design.  Full disclosure, there is no remaining content from that version of the world in the current comic or any materials we are building at this point, but I have to give that high school creative sprint credit, because credit is due.

The second version of the world blossomed during my sophomore year of college when I decided I wanted to try to break into the wild wondrous world of RPG development.  The other Mike in my social circuit, Mike Clinton and I spent roughly two years hacking out a functional role playing game and doing a lot of world building with me.  The game focused on humanity's drive to leave a ravaged Terra and make their way into the farthest reaches of space. Instead of being set after that leap was complete (as so many science fiction stories are) we decided to focus on the time period right before that leap was really possible and tell stories about how humanity was coping (or not really coping) with that transition.

We ran a playtest chronicle and got a lot of feedback from our friends, including my partner in crime from the early days.  I used the skills I developed in that independent study and put together a character creation program in flash that included a full equipment database, and the ability to store and retrieve multiple characters.  I am still incredibly proud of the work we did on that game and the world that would eventually become Red Circuitry.  We created some amazing characters, narratives, and built a game that we gleaned a lot of enjoyment out of, but to be honest we never got anywhere near a finished product that was ready for the world.

All of that said I found a couple pieces of art from that old role playing project that I thought would be worth sharing.  This isn't exactly the world of Red Circuitry, as the original game was set on Terra as opposed to Mars, and life is very different back on the home front.  You never know though.  Some of what you see here might make another appearance if we ever get far enough into the story to re-visit the Terran system.

Early cityscape design with a basic character using an implant weapon.

A rendition of what a bio modified human might look like with grown scale armor.

Both of these pieces are early work by the ever brilliant Lydia Burris.  They are shared here with her permission, and I encourage everyone to go check out the amazing work she is doing now.  It definitely has a very different flare, but is completely worth the investigation.  http://www.lydiaburris.com/

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Vashti Character Design

Early Character Development:


Artist's Comments: This is the first of three pages of sketches I drafted for her character.  She is one part vinegar, one part cybernetic augmentation, and two parts cynic.  Not all the tech that you see on this page and the others ended up being used.

Author's Comments: Vashti's roots are a bit of an enigma to the rest of her gang.  She is clearly not a life long rust duster.  She somehow made it onto the red rock before trade with Terra and Luna were locked off.  She's driven by old behavioral memes forged in a place and a time that is totally alien to the world she has found herself in. Thus far what she learned in her life before Mars has served her well, but Mars is always changing and she'll have to change along with it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Death and Revelation

Darkness in Kratos isn’t exactly like darkness elsewhere.  There’s always light in New Orpheus.  It’s not always light you want to see.  It’s often the hazy sun on Mars showing through cracks in building walls, or the persistent glow of emergency lights running through the tunnels under the domes.  The places where no electricity runs anymore have by and large been blocked off, and unless you’re lucky enough to have a private residence even the darkness of sleep is usually compromised in the wreckage of the great Martian metropolis.

Kratos is different though.  In Kratos the snaking tunnels that connect the block of buildings are too expansive to seal off just because they are without power, and none of the dandies high in the Ouroboural tower cares what happens in the rubble of Kratos anyway.  So here you can find real, persistent darkness.

I sit in that void and think.  After months of searching for something to give my existence on Mars some sort of meaning, all I can think is I should feel more.  I should feel fear or apprehension, or at least be unnerved by this blackness that is so alien to me.  All I feel is peaceful resolve.  I know this is where I’m supposed to be, and I must push through this void to discover the meaning I seek.

When the door to the room opens; I twitch, not because I am startled by the noise, but because I am startled by what I see.  There is no light, nothing that should allow me to see at all, and I have all of my cybernetic senses muted, per my instructions.  But somehow I see the room without seeing it.  I see myself, but it’s like a haze of vision that I can’t quite focus on.  My head begins to spin, my calm from a moment ago cracks around the edges, and I wait for the silence to break. Whoever walked into the room makes no sound, and I am suddenly afraid.  There is something itching at the edge of my mind, something I feel like I know, or maybe that I should know, but no matter how hard I reach for the knowledge I can’t wrap my thoughts around it.  This torment hangs in the air for an untold time, which I am certain is shorter than it feels.  The voice that breaks this tension is warm and my mind clings to it in a desperate attempt to avoid being lost in the incomplete sensory stream filling my mind.

“Hello Steven,” it is a woman’s voice that greets me, colored by the light quick syllables of an asteroid miner, but with none of the intensity common to those who have lived the endless cruelty of a miner’s life.

“Hello,” I feel like I should say something else, but I cannot put the words together in my mind.

“Your neural grafting is picking up signal echos from my implants.  Normally these signals are drowned out by the sea of data you receive from your own implants.  That’s why we’ve left you here, to let all of that distraction fall away.  Do you understand?”

I honestly don’t understand.  I can’t even begin to parse what’s happening to me, but I nod anyway, watching the outline of my face flickering in my mind move up and down.  There is a slight lag between my action and the image’s movement.  I feel my eyes try to track along with my head’s bobbing motion, but the image is still.  The disconnect between my body’s motion and the image of myself makes me nauseous.  Movement is clearly ill advised, at least for the moment.

The woman whose vision I am apparently sharing moves towards me and kneels to look me directly in the eye.  I am struck by how disconcerting it is to no longer have the vague sense of her breath hovering above me while simultaneously looking down on a ghostlike echo of myself.  She reaches into her shirt and pulls out a small metal tube.    I can feel its cold smooth surface on my skin, even though my hands haven’t moved from my lap.  Her face is now level with mine and she is looking directly at me. But instead of seeing her,  I am looking into my own sightless eyes.

“There is so much more you can see.  All you have to do is remove the blinders you were shackled with.  Are you ready for the sight?”

The thing I should know tickles at my mind.  It almost burns the edge of my thoughts, but no matter how hard I try I can’t quite grasp it.  I can’t know what feels like it’s right there begging to be known.  The sight will surely reveal this to me, and I cannot imagine going back to fixing power relays and computing modules in the parliament's chambers now when what I’ve been looking for is so tantalizingly close.  So I say the only thing I can, “Yes”

I feel her open the end of the tube, and I recognize the top of a nanocircuit installation module.  She reaches out and holds the edge of the tube up to my dataport and millions of programmed nanowires rush into the port.  I can feel them crawling along my neurons, finding the corners of my mind they have been programmed to integrate with.  There is no pain, per se.  The body isn’t built to feel its own mind, but there is the familiar disorientation as the circuits of my thoughts are restructured while firing on all cylinders.

The process is always disorienting, but this time it is something else entirely.  My vision fills with light and color, images being seen by eyes that must be scattered all over Mars.  I am falling through the rings of a heaven jump, air rushing past me as I try desperately to hit the ground before my opponents.  I am running in fear from a biker gang somewhere in the wilds of Nyx dome.  I’m a thousand other people, seeing a thousand other things all at once.  Many of the things I see don’t make sense.  There are HUDs I don’t recognize, vision enhancements I could never have imagined.  There is so much of the world that I now realize has been hidden from me burning its way through my mind, and I feel it destroying and rebuilding everything I am.

Then there is the Thing.  The Thing I know but cannot touch.  It is still obscured, though no longer out of reach.  Now there is just so much noise, so many other things that I know and see and hear and feel.  There are so many other things that I am.  This Thing that I know is important though.  It’s painful to reach out and touch, and I can almost see it as a shifting form in front of me.  No matter how much that form is washed away by the noise, I push towards it, and it slowly takes shape.  It is a man being held down by 4 other figures, and I’m standing over the form watching, impatient and disgusted.  I am disgusted that this whole endeavor is failing all over again.

There are so many other things I am, the heaven jumper flying off the cliffs of Olympus Mons, a minister screaming at the parliament as I send orders via my implants meant to subvert the bill I’m arguing for to my colleagues, a mother dying in labor somewhere lost and forgotten, desperately hoping those attending to my dying body will be able to save my child.  I am all of these people now, but this impatient and angry person is the most important person I am and I don’t know why.  Then the face of the man thrashing below me looks up and I catch his eye, filled with fear and pain.  In that moment I wrap my thoughts around the thing I know but cannot touch.  I touch it and it burns every nerve in my body to dust.

I am dying, on the floor of a forgotten dark hole in the depths of Kratos dome, and with the last fragment of ego I have left I grab ahold of the realization that I . . . this woman standing over me has killed me.  She knew that these wires in my brain would burn me up and leave me empty.  I try to grasp at why.  I know why, I have to know why but I can’t differentiate what I know anymore.  The light of the Martian sky, and the pain of my body being ripped apart, the screams of my machiavellian speech are all one thing.  The pure synesthetic glory of the way they mingle is beautiful, and the idea of death is nothing but a moving sparkling smell that fills me now.

The final forms that manifest in me before me ceases to exist are words, “His ego’s already gone.  He’s the quickest death we’ve had in months” and “We will remember you”.  The voices were not the same, and now, there is no one to wonder at what these words mean.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Early Arcology/Dome Design

Martian Domes:

I grew up reading classic Heavy Metal magazine and I am a fan of the 70s sci-fi aesthetic that is present in the early issues.  To that end, I really aimed for the various types of domes to have some influence from that and the various unusual covers from the science fiction novels of the same time.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

What is Red Circuitry?

Red Circuitry is the crazy brainchild of Cigan and Kirin.  It's 1 part cyberpunk, 1 part manga, 1 part space exploration drama.  The seeds of this project first germinated back in the early 2000s...also known as the before before time.  I'd like to say you might get to peek at it some day . . . but you won't.  Some secrets are for keeps.  The world's history from 2002-current is fair game though, and we might share some of those details eventually.  For now we'll be posting fiction and early design peeks at what we're working on right now.

Red Circuitry is going to include a few different forms of media (in addition to the comic) because we believe it will help flesh out the entire world.  This blog is where we will be sharing some of the early designs and stories that are set in our vision of the 23rd century.  Our inspirations are varied, and we are hoping that some of you will be interested in seeing the development of this project.  When we are ready to go public with it, we'll let you know where it's posted, but this will continue to be our place to share what's upcoming, and just whatever tickles our creative fancy related to this world.  We hope over time you come to love it as much as we do.

 Cigan - Story and World Building

Origins: Theatre Brownie

Favorite Iron Chef: Sakai

Non-super super power: Remembering the weirdest conversation details of all time

Current theme song: David Bowie - Blackstar

Kirin – Art & Story

Origins: Army brat

Favorite Iron Chef: Michiba

Non-­super super power: Finding stuff for other people

Current theme song: White Light – Gorillaz