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Category Archives: Devilsong

The Sirens’ Song

Devilsong was our Dream Build Play 2011 submission. We decided to enter this contest fairly spontaneously, signing up on May 16th … less than 30 days before the June 14th submission date. I still have the email, which starts and ends like this:


No exceptions, if ands or buts … it takes 3 minutes. If you don’t do it tonight, you won’t be able to be on the team. Sorry for the rush.”

With no code written and no time to lose, we decided to do what any sane trio of coders would do – we went 3D multiplayer. We grabbed a couple friends who “do art” and Devilsong was born.

Devilsong is a throw-back of some of our favorite childhood gaming memories: Xwing vs. Tie Fighter, Wing Commander, FreeSpace and Jumpgate. It’s unfortunate, but since we’ve grown up, the space combat shooter has been sadly (and sorely) neglected. We didn’t have a lot of time, but we wanted to capture the essence of the core fun of those games – the pulse–pounding adrenaline rush as your squad and your opponents twisted through turns and spirals, cutting engines and firing missiles, hoping to out–manuever each other through gunfire and asteroids. We had great talks about a bigger game, one involving fleet actions, squad tactics and more dynamic mulitplayer … but for the contest we had to stay focused. We picked one map, an asteroid field, and two races (ship types in this case).

The lead up to DBP2011 was legend, the stories of which involve supportive significant others, long hours after work, weekends, rising significant other aggro, lots of caffeine, some sick time at work – an engagement proposal in the middle of the final weekend crunch, a new job interview delayed due to temporary burn out, bugfixing 2 hours before submission deadline and, of course, upload issues. It was an amazing experience and I don’t think anyone on the team would trade it in. What came out of it wasn’t just an incredible game, it was also a finished and published product. Actually finishing a game, getting it out there, making it to publish … is unbelievably difficult. Achieving that goal was a mental and spiritual milestone that helped propel us further and push us on to our next project: Etch.


Devilsong™ is a third-person space dogfighter set in a dark future where mankind finds itself under constant threat both from within and without. Deviljacks™, the spacefighters of this era, speak of the siren song of space: the lure of freedom, fortune, and glory that calls the unwitting to venture out into its depths - only to find it cold, hollow and full of danger. They call this the Devilsong.

Devilsong™ and Deviljack™ are trademarks of Gristmill Studios, all rights reserved.

What’s in a name? (Devilsong)

The best names are inspired by story, and tell a story themselves. Devilsong came to me as I was worldbuilding in my mind late at night. I wrote out this slang/jargon dictionary based on Naval and AirForce slang and sent threw it into an email the next day:

Jack – General nickname for spacers
Jackspeak – language used by spacers, spacer jargon
Jack in the Box – a spacer whose primary duties are on a large vessel, a spacer who rarely sees space

Deep – slang for Space, short of “Deep Space”
Devil – slang for Space, usually negative
Deviljack – nickname for space fighter pilots
Devilnecks, Hardheavies – nickname for space assault troops, marines
Devil’s Song, Devilsong – the call of space, the desire to leave planetside, enthusiasm for becoming a spacer

Between the Devil and the Deep – to be confronted with two bad outcomes, a no-win situation, sometimes stated as “DaD” *see Daddy’s Home
Daddy’s Home – an ironic situation assessment, things just got real bad, totally f***ed (fubar, snafu)
Downgate – an ironic situation assessment, a combination of broken and maximum afterburner – things are deteriorating rapidly.
Jacob’s Ladder – originally a rope ladder, euphemism: a delicate situation, a situation requiring careful planning and controlled execution, a situation that could easily spiral out of control

Keelhaul – when a smaller craft collides with a much larger craft
Knuckle-dragger, Ape (related Deck Ape) – a spacer whose job requires more muscle than brains
Deck Ape – a spacer who works in maintenance or repair – can be deragatory or not depending on usage/tone
Ship’s Gorilla, Kong – Chief Engineer of a ship. King of the Apes.

GIB – “Guy In Back” More common in Fleet usage, refers to the backseater (pilot, non-pilot, or NFO) of a 2-place tactical spacecraft
Heavy, Rockhugger, Tourist – a derogatory term for non-spacers. Tourists are Heavies in space, passengers. Marines are often Heavies as they are regularly rotated out of space duty to maintain physical strength (see Hardheavies).
Space Lawyer – a know it all spacer

The Push – the stern of a spacecraft, “Get back in the Push and find out what’s wrong!”
The Pull – the bow of a spacecraft, often used in reference to ship politics and the difference in views between the upper and lower deck crews, “Someone in the Pull is thinking again…”, “He’s a pull” “She’s a push”

So there’s some great stuff in there, some good “ring words” like Deviljack and Devilsong, Jacob’s Ladder.

So here’s the name I’m thinking: Devilsong

Devilsong has a good ring to it, is short and punchy, and evokes the “Call of the Wild” aspect of this universe, that people hear a “siren’s song” luring them out into space – fame, honor, glory, riches, freedom … it’s all just the Devil’s Song.