16 Psyche

When Geoff Pell approached me back in August last year to ask if I would like to write the story for Inviolate, I was given a lot of leeway to change things around if I thought it was an improvement. Originally the game was set on the surface of a planet, which came with its own issues to resolve. Was it around another star system, how would the space travel work in the context of the game and so on. Given the distinct air of cyberpunk surrounding the project — not least that it’s a retro-style game circa 1995 or so — a distant planet felt to me like a different flavour of SF.

I thought an asteroid within the solar system might fit the bill better and so, being an inveterate astronomy nut, I didn’t try to invent one wholesale but come up with an actually existing one. Something large enough to have plenty of space to run around in, large enough to plausibly contain secrets. Sure, making one up would be more flexible, but a real one is something to riff off of.

I suppose that this kind of fiddly detail isn’t truly needed. But I recall back in the day the raw astonishment when I pointed out to one of my DMA colleagues that Wolf 359 — the setting for a major battle in Star Trek the Next Generation — was a real star.

Wikipedia had a list of top ten largest asteroids and 16 Psyche immediately jumped out at me. I mean, c’mon, a game set around the concept of a Brain Bank and a real world asteroid of 200km diameter called Psyche? How could I resist? That it wasn’t like other asteroids, in fact somewhat unique in possibly being an exposed planetary core, was a further delicious fact. So, so good for the backstory. My suggestion was thankfully accepted and I built on that.

We’re set on an obscure object floating around near Jupiter. A fact not essential to enjoying the game, but a nice detail if you were looking. Now no longer so obscure. Today — 4th January 2017 — to my utter delight, NASA announced that they were planning a mission there!

Not to give away a spoiler or anything, but I hope they don’t drill too deep.

Don’t want to wake the thing up.