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Wavinator

Human aliens or alien aliens?

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Which do you find more challenging to accept, humans that are so changed from the norm that they seem alien, or aliens who may have simply evolved that way? An example: A culture of beings who are a logical extension of hypercompetitive capitalism. They essentially "know the price of everything and the value of nothing." Their entire mentality is transactional. For instance, if one member of the culture falls ill, the others will only help if they know they can receive financial gain. So if your house was burning, they'd only bring water if you could pay. Even close personal relationships are dominated by transactions, to the extent that couples are expected to "pay" each other for affection and a child builds up a real financial debt to a family (which is a business) for all the help the child has accrued in being raised. Conversely, a child who reaches the age of majority unprepared to face life may seek financial redress against the family. No one does anything without receiving payment or a fee, and altruism is considered a perversion punishable by death. Which to you has more psychological impact, making this an alien race you interact with, or a race of humans who have maybe splintered off and formed their own society?

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I would picture them as humanoids with huge ears and sharp teeth :D

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Which to you has more psychological impact, making this an alien race you interact with, or a race of humans who have maybe splintered off and formed their own society?

That would depend on the rest of the universe, if there are a lot of aliens, and the setting is in the not too distant future then an alian race might make more sense. But the concept of them being human is interesting because then the group has more reason to interact with and judge the rest of humanity. Of course another options is to combine the two, there are aliens who have evolved that way, and some humans who have successfully joined their socity.

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and altruism is considered a perversion punishable by death.

Why? Wouldn't it be more logical if altruism was considered a mental illness? If someone acts altruisticly then it's his problem, and your opportunity to take advantage of him.

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Original post by twanvl
I would picture them as humanoids with huge ears and sharp teeth :D


[lol] Yup, there's truly nothing new under the sun.

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But the concept of them being human is interesting because then the group has more reason to interact with and judge the rest of humanity.


Do you think they make better mirrors if they're human, though? I guess what I'm getting at is I expect people to care more about how humans could turn out that way than aliens because changing something familiar assaults what you already know.

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and altruism is considered a perversion punishable by death.

Why? Wouldn't it be more logical if altruism was considered a mental illness? If someone acts altruisticly then it's his problem, and your opportunity to take advantage of him.


Yes, this could work, too. Although, if you don't value life, and you replace "defective people" like you replace defective parts in a machine, then it makes sense not to have even the mentally ill hanging around taking up resources.

It also gives them a nastier edge than the comical Ferengi.

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In an Uber-Captitalistic society, wouldn't the death penalty be somewhat inefficient?

Assuming the Justice system has is also Uber-Capitalistic, wouldn't punishments mainly consist of turning people into slaves or imposing heavy fines?

Since just executing people costs money (expenses bad!), it be more profitable to turn them into slaves and then auction them off to the highest bidder. Or impose fines that are so high that they pretty much have to become slaves anyway.

So punishments for crimes would mainly consist of fines.

If someone can't pay the fine then they have to raise money fast of take out a loan.

"Judiciary Financial Advisors" (i.e. Loan Sharks) can supply as much money as needed to pay the fines, but if the person can't meet their payments then they get sold into slavery or have their organs sold.

So the courts decide how severe the crime was, and the loan sharks deal with the messy details of punishment.
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Also, while people may not value the life of their fellows, they might value what their fellows could do for them for saving their life.

So there could be hospitals or psychiatrists whose goal is to cure people to such an extent that they can pay them back.

Or if altruism is considered a mental disorder, then doctors would start creating "cures" for it just to make money. Or have them locked up in sweat shops until they learn to behave like decent Uber-Capitalists.


But executing people for being nice? That sounds like some kind of weirdo mirror universe thing. Besides it's not profitable, I mean what would the Christmas Sales be like if the whole planet is populated by Scrooges?

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Original post by The Shadow Nose
In an Uber-Captitalistic society, wouldn't the death penalty be somewhat inefficient?

Assuming the Justice system has is also Uber-Capitalistic, wouldn't punishments mainly consist of turning people into slaves or imposing heavy fines?


Ah, but what about the attendant cost of policing, feeding and housing them. Slaves aren't free!

(btw, what do you think about the original question?)

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Also, while people may not value the life of their fellows, they might value what their fellows could do for them for saving their life.


Yes, it would be a business opportunity.

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But executing people for being nice? That sounds like some kind of weirdo mirror universe thing. Besides it's not profitable, I mean what would the Christmas Sales be like if the whole planet is populated by Scrooges?


Actually I like your variants, but you're connecting it too closely with modern day society. Go back, waaaaaaaay back, before something like Christmas was a commercial celebration. They could be as different from us as a medieval monk, or a Roman centurion.

What I like, though, is that it stretches your bounds for believability, which means that you would want to know how they got that way. Did a technology change them? Was it an ideological shift? How did they stamp out competing influences to get that bad?

I could provide plausible history, but I'm much more interested in the question in the OP.

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Which to you has more psychological impact, making this an alien race you interact with, or a race of humans who have maybe splintered off and formed their own society?


definetly a human splinter group.

One of the things that has always bugged me about sci-fi aliens is how little developed they are.

Humans here on Earth have a wide variety of countries, cultures, languages, dialects, traditions, economies, habits and personalities. We, just like all known life in the universe, are rich with diversity.

Klingons all speak the same language, wear the same basic style clothing, act in a simular manner, even share the same traditions...they are less a well thought out alien race then a collection of stereotypes

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Original post by Wavinator
Which do you find more challenging to accept, humans that are so changed from the norm that they seem alien, or aliens who may have simply evolved that way?


Definitely the former. Though imagination limitations may account for extrapolations of form in some cases, straying too far from the human audience's ability to percieve form as symbol for achetype (e.g.; is this blob like thing evil, wise and good, useless or comedic) will lose the audience's ability to put the form into a category they can comprehend at the speed of perception.

Sometimes, you can use device or setting to do the job for you. If something is formed so strangely you can't put your finger on it perceptually in the instant comprehension-in-engagement requires, the background motif (is it a flowery, sunny hillside or a smoky, lava lit, darkened underground pit) will give the audience a fix, or, the musical audio foreshadow cue will do it.

All these devices work with expectation of the audience anyway, which is somehow part of the final arbitor anyway, no matter how bland or breakthrough your invention/contrivance may be. We all have programming which says, "oh, something evil is about to happen, things have been going far too well for far too long for our chatacter" or, "come on, the pressure on my hero is too intense, when will the lovely maiden appear?" Things like that.

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An example:

A culture of beings who are a logical extension of hypercompetitive capitalism. They essentially "know the price of everything and the value of nothing." Their entire mentality is transactional.


Whether amazingly strangely formed or two steps away from a frog be your alien physical design, the cultural biography is your guideline here. Examples of this in film are: in Star Trek: Next Generation, the Farengi (sp?) are this essentially capitalized consciouness, and in the L Ron Hubbard series Battlefield: Earth story the Psychlos are as well.

The writers of those shows, and indeed you when originating the values of this culture as a whole, the 'rules and guidelines and laws and perceptual norms' you design as a logical basis for why or why not any member of the subset of the population of the culture responds in a certain way must be foreshadowed in some way expositionally if the audience is to not have a disconnect with said alien culture and it's precepts and norms if they don't have the expectation created for them in the first place, somewhere along the line, before the situation is related in scene, in action.

In the aforementioned example, the Ferengi are quiet unguent and supplicating in their whining their way to your purse whereas the Psychlos literally dominate and go for the gold, with blatant disregard for how you feel about the relationship and it's interaction.

In both cases, the audience is exposited through some method or technique of foreshadowing (and this is a human understanding requirement no writer or designer can avoid unless they want the disconnect button to go on; with perhaps the exception of a storyless game design, where the player has sole authorial control in a preconfigured gameplay setting/gameworld) priorto the alien behavior is displayed in action.

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For instance, if one member of the culture falls ill, the others will only help if they know they can receive financial gain. So if your house was burning, they'd only bring water if you could pay.

Even close personal relationships are dominated by transactions, to the extent that couples are expected to "pay" each other for affection and a child builds up a real financial debt to a family (which is a business) for all the help the child has accrued in being raised. Conversely, a child who reaches the age of majority unprepared to face life may seek financial redress against the family. No one does anything without receiving payment or a fee, and altruism is considered a perversion punishable by death.


This would be the cultural norms design I mentioned earlier would imply these behaviors by the 'this is the way this culture is, and has come to grow and survive this way, so this is the way dealing with them is.'

The fun part about creating design within these contexts can best be described in an off the cuff example as in the original star trek series, Leonard Nimory was, as an actor, really tired of being the cool, logical vulcan no matter how many mind melds, death pinches and fiats-as-logical-determinants he was handed by the shows writers and directors and producers so his actions were dazzling and save the day, stuff that is tremendously appealing and satisfying to actors as it is infrequent enough as it is in terms of the complications requirement of dramaturgy.

What they did in the second or third season, because saving the day was no longer appealing, was becoming pendantic and predictable (a thing cherished by audience expectations but loathed by creative dramatic performance artists) and in some senses was a threat to the growth of both the actor, the characters relationship to the ensemble and continuing setting (remember it was a finite set of ship constants, with only the factors of new, exploratory discoveries being the randoms the template of constants were applied to for new material) of the original plot premise.

Introduction into the original plot premise of spock, every seven years or so, going into Pong farr (sp?) or the breeding mode, allowed him to express emotion in broad and strong range. Notice how the Vulcans, through centuries of mental discipline in the logical sciences, even though they had conquered their warlike and uber passionate view and behavior of their place in the universe, still, once in a great while (every seven years) reverted to the higher biological calling (sort of a survival of species prime directive) over shadowed the normal behavior of the vulcans normally, and the vulcan we all knew, were familiar with, and could predict reasonably, Mr. Spock, was able to have a logical reason we the audience could undestand (the biological imperative) to act emotionally and illogically, solving the problem.

In the same way your financially doctrinated culture would grapple viscerally with concepts like 'free', 'on-the-house', 'discounted', 'sale price', and the ever decreasing degree of less and less bargain implied, so they would optimally engage with more price increasing emerging concepts like 'shortage of supply', 'inventory levels', 'high consumer/market demand', 'exclusive licensing' and so forth, to the logical conculsion that making a killing in the marketplace would be considered an amazing peak personal experience as well as huge social status increase.

This tension rope between a culture's values and precepts and the individual within it are where all your character's behavior and action opportunities lie dramatically. Spock was quite distant and puritanical in his view of his mating ritual once it was over, like it was simply something that happened, and what is the next logical challenge in front of me, let's get on with things, Captain Kirk. It played well, and was the humorous note they could end the episode on.

The logical extension for the Psychlos in Battlefield:Earth was that for a culture so oppressive and financially concerned, for them to lose almost everything was maybe a dramaturlogical mandate in terms of the most impact of change the hero could effect, because that plot decision was made priorto the full method of them losing everything was described. That is the logical outcome of making dramatic design decisions when plot designing before you ever micro drill down to writing scenes of action.
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Which to you has more psychological impact, making this an alien race you interact with, or a race of humans who have maybe splintered off and formed their own society?


I think the latter. If you formed a human splinter group that has sole logical transactional consciousness, most audience members (who have fixed perceptions most of the time) are going to have a reaction like, "oh, these guys are bankers and moneymen" and there they go, slotted into the fixed perception most ppl have about financially oriented people and cultures.

And, an alien culture so solely fixed on this view would at least have by construct an 'alienness' innate to the audience (human) perception as such and would be more interesting. This defines your basic problem with this type of culture design for your array of species in your game. Money is only so fascinating, and, looking down the history of how money has been treated dramatically, the money lender, the rich person, the archetype of the financial if you will, is mostly relegated to a second tier status in the ensemble heirarchy, with the exception when money is the point of the plot. However, look at any film or story you want, money may or may not play a necessary role in the outcome of the conflict, and if it does have a purpose in terms of the plot, then unless it is the point of the conflict (bank robbery, the sting, Ocean's Eleven, Monopoly, etc.) it will be a second tier dramaturlogical element, and should be abstracted as interestingly as you can in creative terms, if it's necessary existance in the conflict or challenge design (in terms of game design) will be viewed by audience (as the human perception is the stuff we are working with by default when creating our views into new worlds/settings) as at most a necessary and functional part of the overall plot/action design.

It seems we always seem to be prioritizing heroism. That's a whole other discussion, though.

Adventuredesign

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Original post by hplus0603
New season of Star Trek: introducing aliens with ENTIRELY NEW forehead wrinkles!



That just so messes with my existing perceptions of plausible forehead wrikles. What are they trying to do, lose me as a viewer?


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This reminds me of some of Asimovs (IIRC?) books, where humans had moved out and settled various star systems, but that travel between these systems still took many years. The cultures and civilizations that developed apart from each other were incredibly diverse. In one book, there was a planet where hyper-sexuality was common, accepted, and perfectly the norm. A sexual encounter was their way of saying simply "Hello." There was another planet that went the other direction, where any physical contact was absolutely taboo. Skin-to-skin touch was an expression equivilent to a marriage commitment. These people wore elaborate suits and coverings in order to prevent any accidental contact.

Anyway, the scenario seems to address your question: We see how parts of our own humanity have grown and evolved in entirely seperate directions, which is pretty interesting, I have to say. It's a little more interesting to see the directions our own culture can go than introducing a completely alien race. We look at both of these cultures and think "how wierd" but they're still a part of us.

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