Simplify a Mammoth Game Universe into a Few Words Six Hours Before Demo

It’s 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, January 11, 2018, and the writing team has been on a video call with Blue Alchemy Studios (BAS) founder Jabari Alii for over ninety minutes. The website for Planet Rise, the first game scheduled for release from BAS will go live in less than an hour. We have to fix the narrative language and time is running out.

Tonight, BAS will demo a player vs. player (PvP) version of Planet Rise (PR) at the Winter

Play event hosted by Playcrafting at Google Launchpad’s 301 Howard Street location.

It’s a huge opportunity to gauge response and record any bugs visitors might report when they sit down to play. Investors and scouts are among the rumored attendees, and the anticipation of unknown possibility grows with each ticking second.

But, that’s tonight.

Right now the focus is the website language. Everyone is pitching in their favorite sentences to finish rewriting the two paragraphs that will become the introduction to the worlds that inhabit the galaxy of Planet Rise.

Words like trusted, theft, betrayal and chaos are shaped into tighter sentences and phrases. Some are edited and kept; others, stripped of fluff and cliché, then factored down into root word main ideas and common denominators; then rebuilt with each suggested word that the writing team believes fit best.

And then someone, nameless, but known to all adds, “A Mephistophelian truth…”

I can’t help bursting out laughing as I reply, “Who is studying for the GRE here?”

“Just because I like the word…”

“I’m not gonna lie,” adds another voice. “Mephos- nope, so, how do you say that word?”

There are more laughs and hands clapping. A mention of lines about movie trailers gets worked in, and another line about tongue twisters suggested

In, that moment, the PR writing team marked another milestone, with no more effort than logging a new chapter in the saga they were writing together.

It would have made sense if we became angry or difficult with the approaching deadline. If lines of territory or ownership were drawn, it would not have been a surprise. Instead — facing a looming deadline and under the added pressure of a demo that night — we were laughing, creating and shaping a shared language together.

It takes courage to offer untested sentences. It requires a shared trust between the group and the individuals that define it. When you are building a universe from the ground up it’s important to trust the writers on your team.


“I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming.” — Fernando Pessoa

Frangelico Domingo knows how it is to feel tired.

You can find him setting up shop every morning at his sister’s shop, the Best Tattoo Company. Then he comes home to play with his daughter until she finally falls asleep.

“Every morning, every day,” he says. “I come in here and work.”

To hear his sister Frances Arbie tell it, she is the only reason he gets things done on time. She is one of the best tattoo artists in the Philippines, female or otherwise, and that did not come easy.

The shop is a ring of portable walls near the escalator on the third floor of the Robinson Galleria. Metal frames shape the outside walls. The inside walls painted red, with sketches and tattoo pictures.

Through the entrance is a modest waiting room. On the right a couch for two, with a small black table and a few books and magazines.

“He is a sloth, a slug,” Frances says. “He moves so slow, that’s why I make him do everything before I come in.”

“That’s right,” he answers. “I do everything.”

I have to do it that way,” she says. “If I didn’t he would take all day and nothing would get done.”

Frances knows about hard work. She used her skill in Tae kwon do to attend school, travel the world, and along the way she learned how to surf and tattoo. Now, she is back at home in Quezon City, Manila.

But, that does not mean she is always in one place.

When my wife and I found the shop, Frances was out. Frangelico was on the couch with his wife Dane Rodelas. He had finished a two-hour job and now he was playing with his daughter Franchesca Louise.

Philip Carpio also tattoos at the shop. He was standing by the “surfer parking only” sign, a Harley Davidson picture, and mounted guitar. He and Frangelico began messaging on their phones.

It took 30 minutes to track down Frances.



Frances likes to point out that she’s a woman. You can get flowers here.

When she arrived, it was sudden. Heads turned and there she was in a white t-shirt, gray sweatshirt and ball cap.

Tracy and Frances had already started. Frances had removed her hat and sweatshirt. Her tattoo gun was buzzing over Tracy’s forearm near the inside crook of the elbow.


Frances Arbie is the focused eye behind a steady hand

Frangelico and I had already discussed my tattoo. When he came in, I sat down for and he shaved my arm. Then he applied the stencil.

When it came off, he turned it over in the light. He started wiping it off with rubbing alcohol.

“I’m going to do it again he,” he said.

“Didn’t like it?” I asked.

He nodded. When the area was clean and dry, Frangelico reapplied the stencil. He turned it over and again in the light, twisting my arm in two rotations.

Then he nodded.

Tracy had started almost 30 minutes before me and finished about an hour before I did.

She had chosen a Filipino sun nestled in a bed of flowers, and stars at three corners.

I chose a larger Philippines sun with three pairs of matching rays. The image I chose also had three stars, but Frangelico is an artist. He chose stars with a different pattern. He felt and I agreed that this new pattern matched the main image better.

When he finished, we posed for pictures and exchanged Facebook and email contacts. Frances suggested we should go surfing.

You can contact Frances Arbie at @BestTattooShopManilaPhilippines

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