According to a Tumblr Article the TUG in game language has been referred to as a Group Linguistics Exploration System not only because translating and decoding the language will hopefully be a collaborative effort among our players, but also because the hope is that eventually players will add to and expand upon the language as the game grows. Similar to the philosophy in approaching the rest of the game’s lore, the goal is to create a framework for open-ended storytelling rather than a rigid linear narrative.
We’ve always envisioned TUG as a game where players will have tons of freedom to create and define their own reality within the game. Initially, we didn’t want to use a naming system at all… we wanted players to be able to name things in the game as they saw fit, including lore elements and deity figures. However, once we started creating documentation for a lot of these elements, not having names for anything obviously got very confusing very quickly.
We realized these two things didn’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. Game elements could be given “official” names, but players would in no way be obligated to stick to those names, especially if we framed our names for things as archaic remains from an ancient civilization. Some players will keep the old names, we reasoned, while others will create new ones, similar to how the ancient Romans renamed all the Greek deities, for example.
Prior to this, we had been using Latin as our internal naming system for things. However, we hit a point where we had to decide, for the sake of consistency, if we wanted to use grammatically correct Latin, or go for a more stylized, Latin-based “fake” Latin, if you will. That was when I suggested the idea of scrapping Latin entirely, and creating a completely original language for TUG. Thus, TUGGLES was born.
The grammar and syntax for TUGGLES are entirely original. I suppose they’re loosely inspired in some ways by Turkish and Czech, because I have modest backgrounds in both languages, but I tried very hard to keep the syntax as simple as possible, and the sentence structure relatively close to English. For a lot of stylistic decisions, I went with my gut or followed my creative instincts.
Overall, I wanted to create the impression that the language is a pidgin of real-world ancient languages. So the vast majority of the vocabulary is drawn from (or at least inspired by) existing languages, and then modified to fit TUGGLES’ grammar and verb forms. Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly cobbling together a relatively short (but constantly expanding) dictionary, which draws from Latin, ancient Greek, Arabic, Coptic, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Japanese, Old Nahuatl, Old Norse, Tlingit, Tamil, Navajo, Tibetan, and Proto-Indo-European, among others. It’s been quite an undertaking, to say the least, but also one of the most fun projects I’ve ever worked on! On top of that, the language has its own runic alphabet, which was created by Lo, one of our concept artists, with some help from John, our lead designer.
I’ve been releasing passages written in the runed language over the last few months to get a feel for what the learning curve will be like. The runes I’ve been sharing are designed to slowly help players to parse out the grammar and syntax, and begin piecing together the vocabulary. Some of the speculation and translation attempts have been spot-on so far! Others have been completely off the mark. Eventually, the community will have access to a large enough sample size for attentive translators to begin to determine which is which. I’m very curious to see how long it will be before the community can reliably and accurately translate the runes!
Of course, players will at no point be obligated to learn or decode the language themselves to fully explore or appreciate the world of TUG. Once the core language has been translated, I don’t doubt it will all get put on a wiki somewhere for everyone else to reference, and that’s totally fine! And certainly, many of the lore secrets they hold will become common knowledge among players, eventually.