Character Portrait: Nkoyo

I’ll kick off a series of posts about SJ’s cast of characters, as part of working the winter’s accumulated changes into the script, with a char I haven’t explored on the blog so far.

Her name is Nkoyo (nuh-koyo for you English people), meaning “Woman can do everything”.


  • is Black (Yoruba).
  • never speaks or smiles.
  • has ritual scars.
  • has a strong sense of right and wrong.
  • is second-in-command of the “Banshees”, the game’s group of ex-military women who banded together for a better future.
  • is best buddies with Banshee leader Esperanza.
  • resents being drafted into the “Herd” faction of deserters, and has a burning hatred for Herd leader, Colonel Hastings.
  • secretly prays to (Yoruba god) Shango instead of the Herd’s god, the Star-Eater.
  • never forgot, and still feels bound by, her Army service oath even after deserting.
  • doesn’t trust people easily, and always suspects Scout.
  • can, and will, go toe-to-toe with any man.

Nkoyo was one of the early characters in Scout’s Journey (she was already in the 2013 draft), originally the sidekick of Esperanza, who in turn is a foil for protagonist Scout.

Esperanza is a tormented soul and the idea of having this very physically imposing, silent counterpart do the dirty work for her sensitive friend came naturally. They are a dynamic duo. And when Essie befriends Scout, Nkoyo begins to suspect her.

Nkoyo was a difficult character to write, precisely because she was so silent. She was quiet, violent and frightening. How do you approach that character?

Taking serious the Yoruba thing, without overstating it, was one step. An introverted African-European girl finds her peers in the group of women under Essie’s command. They become her tribe.

They allow her to express herself, ironically since she never speaks, but they interpret what she scribbles in marker on a notepad. Here, individuality is allowed, unlike in the rigid Herd faction, and she rediscovers her Yoruba culture in the worship of Shango, who like Nkoyo, “is known for his anger” (Wikipedia). It is her way to rebel: I’m different, deal with it.

Like Essie’s Christianity and Scout’s Goddess alliance, it is also open defiance of the Herd’s Star-Eater cult – I believe what I want, deal with it.

Why does anyone never talk? Let’s assume there is some kind of trauma involved. Maybe immigration. A dark, tall, violent girl with facial scars in a white, European schoolyard. Fight or flight.

She didn’t have a lot of lines in the script at the best of times, so the peculiarity was easy enough to accomodate. The player discovers spoken logfiles by the other characters — hers are written. The only other character whose logs are markedly different is Banshee engineer Giselle, who encrypts hers.

The silence provided a handle on her, for character development even, because of course she must eventually speak.

When no one else can.

Unreal first impressions

Compiling Unreal 4 on Linux went smoothly enough. It took like an hour? No biggie. It really is a beast though; current folder size is 66 GB. Better have a large harddrive (and a fat internet connection, which I do not have, so I transferred it on a big USB key from a place that does). The Linux download (Git) contains symlinks, so a normal USB stick won’t work (FAT filesystem…).

After compiling a gazillion shaders, the editor opened to a familiar enough view; a 3D viewport surrounded by all the usual stuff. It’s very easy to make a default first-person environment appear and drop into the game to shoot balls at physics cubes.

The editor comes with good documentation and help features. If you’ve made levels / games before, it will feel familiar. Scripting is done with nodes, as in Cryengine etc, which is a little dumb for my taste (I prefer code) but it’ll do. Stuff like changing the gun fire sound is easy enough if you know where to look; again, if you’ve ever done this sort of thing, you’ll find your way around.

In the node editor (Blueprint) you’ll quickly notice, if you open the first person character actor, things like touch input or VR stuff. Not surprising. Very much overkill if you come from FPS modding.

Default visuals are nothing special; you need to look close to notice things like shadows coloured in complementary colours relative to your light source (as it should be).

It made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, though, I can’t really describe it any other way. This engine was made for first person shooters, and it’s pretty obvious. Checking stuff out gave me a feeling of happiness and at-homeness. Like taking a sip of whiskey or something. Feeling all right.

This will do. It’s the biggest hammer around, and it feels good. Imagine someone cracking a big smile.

Yeah, this’ll work.



I’m sorry for the insanely long delay.

1. Scout’s Journey is still alive.

2. I have Unreal 4 working on my Linux box. (!) DINGDINGDING

3. I have a batch of paper with written notes on it that mostly concerns the script. Needs working in.

4. I spent the winter on welfare for various reasons. The German welfare system is ok (it doesn’t kill you) but it put me deep into depression hell for a while. I’m starting a new job as an IT specialist in August which should stabilize things.

5. I got back into drawing on paper instead of using the graphics tablet. It just gives you more control. Sketches are being made.

What else happened? Hmm, I’ll post more soon.

Email notification isn’t working yet, since I need to sign up with some service for that (default does that for you; this site is running on its own webspace though). I haven’t forgotten about that.

I will likely not transfer all the content of to this site; it was intended as a temporary home from the start (man, that was a long time ago). Nor will I port over any of the RemakeQuake stuff (I still have the source and assets, but that stuff is OLD now).

Next up: Getting a grip on UnrealED (it’s a lot like all those other level editors out there) and plopping in the first level from SJ. I had cut them up for performance, but I think I’ll fuse them back together. The hardware requirements for the game just skyrocketed anyway (“a semi-recent PC with a dedicated graphics card”, as has been the standard for first person games since the Nineties).

More to come.