How to create an ancient, mythical language for TROY: MYTHOS

A Total War Saga: TROY

Ben Barrett
August 23 2021

Game development – it’s challenging. Some days you’re trying to work out why someone’s face is missing and replaced with spiky pixels, another you’re trying to make a skeleton walk up-hill. It’s all like this, all the time, the smallest tiny problems and the most incredible goals, all coming down to a few lines of code, a lot of hard work, and a dev team full of geniuses. 

One problem, or opportunity, depending on who you ask, faced by the Troy team was: how do ancient, mythological, mighty creatures … talk? Probably not in English, but probably not in Greek either – they’re creatures from beyond time, raised by the Gods for specific purpose and older than humanity. For this, our teams at Creative Assembly set-about creating a new language they dubbed Proto-Greek. Using modern and ancient Greek as a starting point, they wanted something that sounded like it came from a more primordial era. The development team in Sofia were working in concert with the dialogue experts and writers in Horsham.

As with most things that really make a good game great, you wouldn’t notice if it wasn’t there, but it being there and some form of accurate adds a bit of spice. Something to bring a touch of a smile to your face as you conquer or defend Troy. Andrew Ebel, John Sutherland (Senior Dialogue Engineers), and Erin Williams (Associate Writer) were the three that set out trying to get this to work. Voice over was needed for Shades, Sirens, Harpies, the Minotaur and Cyclops. 

Here’s what they have to say about it: 

“From early on in the dialogue design, we thought it would add to the mythological element to have some of the creatures speaking in Ancient Greek. Yet even to the heroes of the Trojan War, we felt the monsters of myth and legend would be truly ancient, and that the nature of their vernacular might be a more basic and raw form of the language — a sort of Proto Ancient Greek.  

“Having consulted respected academic sources from both Oxford and Cambridge Universities, we began to develop a language that drew together many of the rhythms and sounds of Ancient Greek, sub-divided into different dialects that we felt captured the personalities of the various creatures.” 

So, phase one: step back through the ages, talk to the experts, do a little bit of the ‘making stuff up’ that comes with any creative endeavour. Now what? 

“Meanwhile, we were casting for voice actors who could accurately bring both the creatures and their strange new language to life. Test recording sessions played a vital part in prototyping the language, ensuring it was consistent, as well as readable for our actors, who would have to recite hundreds of lines worth of unfamiliar words and sounds!  

“Our cast was diverse, and we had to hold the reins to keep pronunciation coherent while maintaining the essence of each character, but ultimately everything came together once finally in-game. A properly mythical language, for some properly mythical beasts!” 

So there you have it – you can experience our home-made language for yourself when Mythos launches on September 2. Just grab any of the new mythical units mentioned above – available to various factions – and have a click around. We hope you like it!