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Wavinator

What draws you to science fiction?

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What essential elements to you look for in a science fiction game? IOW, what "things" makes it science fiction, to the extent that if they were removed, the game would no longer appeal to you? I've got some categories, but feel free to add your own. What elements would be most important, and what elements least? 1) Visual Representation: Futuristic look and feel to objects and places. You love the beauty of space and stellar environments, or ultra-modernist geometry that makes up cars, buildings or character outfits. 2) Cool Wow Themes: Lightsabers, mutants, lasers. You've grown up with these themes, from books and movies, and you like seeing them in a game for their wow factor. You don't mind swinging a +1 sword to solve a problem, but dammit, it better be a "light sword!" 3) Unique Environments: Sci-fi offers environments that you couldn't or don't often encounter in any other genre. Open space, lunar environments, rotted urban hellholes, etc. 4) Genre Exclusion: You can't stand elves, fairies and all that other crap ([smile]stolen from a Fallout ad years ago). 5) Inherent Complexity: The future is just more complicated than the past. You like that the world may have more gray that black and white, as is common in fantasy. 6) A Well Imagined World: You expect the game world to be well thought out. You read the email / datacubes / etc. found in game, care about the character motivations, and want background on the factions or empires. The worst thing in the world you can hear is "Generic Megacorporation X took over the world and blah blah blah" 7) Impossible Possibilities: You like the thought of encountering what you simply wouldn't encounter in other games: Aliens, different worlds, or technology impossible or unavailable to another time. 8) Scientific Faithfulness: You like science, and you like to see it faithfully represented in a game. You're not afraid of physics, or chemistry or biology, but at the same time don't necessarily want to have to have a PhD to play the game. You just want it to be somewhat accurate. 9) Unqiue Gameplay: Just face it, you can't drive a mech or fly a battleship in a medieval game. What you use is more important than how you use it (that is, a wagon just won't due, even if it has the same gameplay as Halo's Warthog). 10) Future-philia: You like the sense of being there. Post-apocalyptic, utopia, Tron cyberworld, whatever, the world doesn't matter, you just want good gameplay in a futuristic environment. Any others?

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6,7 and 8... and 2

Freedom man, freedom. SciFi is a means to an end. Most games based on a known mythology/reality binds player and story to a known universe. SciFi (and fantasy i guess) allows the author to experiment. Alternative moral-systems and ethics, interesting technological advances and/or alternatives and philosophies based on non-standard axioms. It's a playground for authors, artists and philosophers alike.

If you want an immersive story which caters to the intelligent player, you need freedom freed from preconceived ideas. Everything else has been done in one way or another.

Oh, and light-sabers are pretty damn cool.

This is my first post in a long time. And im drunk. Bare with me.

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If you compare to fantasy, I like science fiction better because it has a more analytic, less mystical way of looking at things, which agrees more with my own perspective.

For 3 you might also want to include unique cultural environments, and psychological environments inside character's heads.

I consider 6 to be the most important, but this virtue can also be found in fantasy and historical fiction, it's not exclusive to science fiction. Basically I like learning about unique, surprising (because they're new to me), well-designed worlds, especially the culture and biology of those worlds, and the psychology of individual characters having this biology and living in this culture. Science fiction fans are often said to be motivated by xenophilia, love of the new and different.

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Quote:
Original post by NewDeal
...SciFi (and fantasy i guess) allows the author to experiment. Alternative moral-systems and ethics, interesting technological advances and/or alternatives and philosophies based on non-standard axioms. It's a playground for authors, artists and philosophers alike.

What he said.
Quote:
...Everything else has been done in one way or another.

Which is why I don't care about #9 and quite frankly can think of no examples. Similar thoughts can be expressed about #3, #2, & #7.

I like #1.
#4 is a non-issue as is #5, there's no reason to expect the future to be more complicated and the games certainly do not bear this out.

#6 is vital. I'm a reader.
#8 is good. I like to think what I'm seeing could happen.
#10 ....eh, not quite like Wavinator puts it, perhaps the first half of the statements. I like being there in those worlds but I don't have an affinity for them over other settings.

The thing is, "science fiction" is described only by the first statements I quote from NewDeal's post. Sci-Fi has nothing to do with space ships, other planets, aliens, or even technology. No thing makes something science fiction. Look again at this quote, "interesting technological advances". Not important, not earth-shattering; technology merely provides the backdrop.

To say that we look for certain things in science fiction games implies that science fiction games are somehow different than the rest of them. The point I'm getting to, and this part's important, is that Wavinator's list works for all games(provided you translate #4 to 'no cliches', #8 to 'consistency', and only use the first sentence from #10-You like the sense of being there). When looked at it from the perspective that the list transcends genre, I'll say that all of them are essential, but for 'sci-fi' games only, see my opinions above.

Quote:
This is my first post in a long time. And im drunk. Bare with me.

Good post, glad to see you came back.

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well sci-fi for me relates to an alternate reality that is akin or based on ours. sci fi can draw more parallels to our current world than fantasy, I think.

we have computers, sci-fi has computers. planes, cars, have sci fi equivalent.
stars, galaxies are known to us now. sci fi can draw the player's knowledge of these things to provide more immersion than fantasy games. give the player a computer terminal and the player can associate a thousand images, uses for the computer simply because the uses probably some experience with computers.

Personally sci fi appeals to me because of the what-if factor. jules verne's novels come to mind. They were considered science fiction yet we now have submarines and have put men on the moon and back. I like a world that may be the future of our world.

in response to your elements: 6 would be my best bet.
a well thought out world that has many parallels with the current world so player can supply some of the immersion but with enough new things to make the world interesting.

8 is also good provided general laws of nature are preserved or adequate reasons (technology) is provided

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i always liked robert heinlein's "Science Fiction is speculative fiction in which the author takes as his first postulate the real world as we know it, including all established facts and natural laws. The result can be extremely fantastic in content, but it is not fantasy; it is legitimate--and often very tightly reasoned--speculation about the possibilities of the real world."

most of what most people think is "science fiction" is really "futuristic fantasy"... not that i have a problem with that genre :)

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I like SF as a way to indirectly hold a mirror up to our own society and examine it without being in your face. Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land, Left Hand of Darkness, even Star Wars all have important things to say about the world we live in. And they are still entertaining.

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Quote:
Original post by krez
most of what most people think is "science fiction" is really "futuristic fantasy"... not that i have a problem with that genre :)


I think here we run into the problem of language - is it how a term is commonly (mis)used or how a term is defined by "experts" that determines its actual meaning?

Myself, I use "SF" to cover a range of meanings depending on mood, company and context. As a rough rule of thumb, I regard "hard SF" as "the equations and diagrams are in the back of the book" while "movie SF" is "anything involving space ships and laser beams" (pretty much what krez is calling "futuristic fantasy").

Of course, there are cases which blur the boundaries between SF and fantasy - a good example being Anne McCaffrey's Dragon series - the earlier stories look like pure fantasy, while the later writings look a lot more SF (though possibly not very hard SF)

Or there's the example of Battlefield Earth which has (in the edition I own) a lengthy foreword reminiscing about the author's days of writing for the magazines, as a way of lending credibility to the eventual assertion "... as an old pro, I assure you that it is pure science fiction." - an assertion that I find a little hard to believe - not because the post-apocalyptic setting is non-SF, but because the science is shockingly poor in places - I particularly notice the maths, but I assume the rest is as bad.

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What draws me to science fiction is the inventor in me that empathetically responds to new ideas and inventions. I also am drawn to it because of the physical boundaries of travel are so vast (across time and space itself) that it represents the kind of distance requirements my form of escape enjoys.

I enjoy science fiction because I was raised in the Air Force, where my dad worked on projects like the x-15, the rocket sled, Area 51, etc. I got exposed to it, flew in it, watched them streak across the sky, and well, was hooked for life the second Niel Armstrong spoke in the greatest remote broadcast of all time to date.

Adventuredesign

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I agree with all the ones you've listed, except for one little point.
None of them are really essential to sci-fi. They're all generally nice to have, and can be really cool, but you could make a sci-fi game without any of those, and I might still be interested in it.

I suppose the main thing for sci-fi, is the feeling that "This could happen". Admittedly, it might not happen without a devastating nuclear war, or the discovery of FTL space travel, but it *could* happen. ;)
Or at least, it should feel like it could.
Another side effect of this, is of course that bonus points will be awarded for trying to draw connections or parallels back to the real world, give a few hints to how our world turned into the world portrayed in the game. :)

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