Alien Planet, Alien Alphabet

Prospector is a narrative adventure game for PC. In the role of a space adventurer, the player travels to a foreign planet and explores a futuristic metropolis on the edge of a gigantic crater, veiled in constant fog.

A sense of alienation is one of the design pillars of Prospector; this is supported by using an unknown, fictional writing system in said metropolis.

Design Goals

The main criteria for the development of the alphabet were on the one hand its plausibility as a writing system of a civilization in the space age, and on the other hand — for a Western audience accustomed to the Latin alphabet — an unusual and strange, yet accessible aesthetic appearance.

In contrast to other games/universes (e.g. Heaven’s Vault) the foreign language does not play a major role: it is mainly meant to support mood and atmosphere. For this reason no attempt was made to create a linguistic substructure to the writing system — the characters are combined according to purely aesthetic aspects. There is neither language construction nor translation.

First attempts with the brush pen
First attempts with the brush pen


I began by experimenting with different writing tools to get a feeling for the desired aesthetics. Subsequently, I alternated between research and additional practical writing exercises with the brush pen.

Among others, Devanagari and Hangul as well as the Tibetan and Hebrew alphabets served as references. It was a priority to use scripts from several different cultures as inspiration so as not to exoticize one specific culture.

Devanagari, the most widespread script in South Asia
Tibetan Script
Tibetan characters
Hangul, the Korean alphabet
Hebrew characters

This organic process resulted in a handful of suitable glyphs. In the next step I analyzed and extrapolated the characteristics of these glyphs and used my findings as a basis for additional ones. A combination of conscious systematic variation and intuitive form finding finally resulted in a set of unique but harmonious characters.


Bold Monolinear Appearance
The »regular« weight of the typeface has a monolinear stroke with a relatively large, constant stroke width. This characteristic, together with the manageable complexity of the individual characters, ensures that the alphabet is fundamentally accessible, even friendly; the script is foreign, but not entirely unfamiliar and by no means unapproachable.

Negative Horizontal Line
Some scripts found in India (such as Devanagari) have a connecting headline that links the characters in a word. In my alphabet, there is a negative middle bar, which divides the characters into upper and lower segments (but is sometimes crossed by the characters). This negative horizontal line is also a stylistic device that is often found in science fiction logotypes and evokes corresponding associations.

Geometric und Organic Shapes
A combination of geometric shapes and organic, handwritten details emphasizes the duality of technology, precision, science fiction on the one hand and a long, living writing tradition on the other. This sense of history was a design principle that was also applied in world building.


The metropolis where Prospector is set is bilingual; the fictitious alphabet is used together with Latin letters. This becomes apparent above all in neon advertisements, which play a prominent role in the street scene depicted.

The theme of mask and face — the basis for our story — can be found again in logos and advertising graphics. Additionally, the alphabet is used in warning signs, graffiti and various other lettering.

Application of the alphabet

Prospector is a narrative adventure game for PC and was created during the Games Master’s Program at the HAW Hamburg. The game can be downloaded and played for free (or a voluntary donation) on Prospector on

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