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My answer to Fermi's Paradox (comments?)

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Fermi''s Paradox asks where the aliens are. So much time has passed that if intelligent life is not so unique then, after millions upon millions of years, it should be here by now. For backstory, here''s my answer... "Humans had already colonized the Solar System, and were reaching for Alpha Centauri and Tau Ceti when they met the Firemen. That wasn''t their real name, but given the wild variety of aliens and their dire mission, none other really fit. Before First Contact, humans had been puzzling over two major mysteries. The first were the high tech but abandoned worlds around Proxima Centauri. The second involved the startling rise of neurological disorders throughout the Sol System. They were linked, and the Firemen explained both. It seemed that space-- or rather a vital layer of it-- was undergoing a rhythmic collapse. This process involved an inversion of normal space and hyper-dimensional space. It happened every few million years throughout the galaxy, and was thought to be the natural rebound effect of supernovas on the fabric of space-time itself. The only problem was that it wiped regions of the galaxy clean of intelligent life. Far more insidious than radiation from an exploded star, and thousands of times more far-reaching, these "hyperspace inversions" resonated against consciousness itself. Lesser life and matter was untouched, but civilizations went insane. Humans suddenly and tragically knew why they had so long been alone. But the Fireman had formed to challenge this natural cycle. A million year old coalition of hundreds of volunteer species both young and ancient, their mission was to rescue as many sentients as they could. The Fireman had long ago discovered regions of space that were temporarily immune from inversion waves, and they were in the business of moving entire cultures to their safety. It only took a decade to build trust. With no other options, humans put their faith in the Fireman and packed themselves into hundred mile wide ramships. They joined dozens of other rescued species, and quickly headed for a nearby cluster of Volumes. In a few short generations, they had arrived. Though all survivors had lost their homeworlds and could carry little with them, successful colonies were started throughout this Volume Cluster. With a few Firemen ramships as the raw materials, humans and aliens settled on dozens of worlds. Seeing life safely established, the Firemen prepared to depart. They could not stay, as there were so many other species that had to be saved from the raging mindfire that was spreading throughout the heavens. They reminded the new settlers that life was sacred, and that they should work together to prosper and grow. And the Fireman promised that if they were ever needed, they would return. So with their rescuers gone, the survivors turned to rebuilding. From minimal, subsistent colonies they began the long, arduous climb toward spacefaring independence. Though some races had banded together while others elected to go it alone, all knew that they shared a common destiny. This Volume Cluster, this few hundred square light years of space, would now be their new home. This is their story..." -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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btw, for those that don't know this is for a science fiction game that's a hybrid of RPG and empire game. The player starts as a member of one of the new colonies a few centuries after resettlement, and explores their new home. I needed to explain why so many of the aliens used similar technology and had similar capabilities, yet wildly different evolutionary paths. Hopefully a common significant event serves.

Each race will have settled anywhere from 1 to 10 colonies in the game, but not all of them will have prospered the same. The player will explore, trade, fight, etc. among all of this.

Comments (and additional ideas too!!!! ) appreciated...

(oh, and for those who read Vernor Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep, I'm going for a similar concept: That the nature of space itself has weird psychological effects depending on where you go; only I want mine to be wild and unpredictable, and thus constantly uprooting cultures...)

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - Wavinator on July 20, 2001 2:06:31 AM

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Fire Upon the Deep was a good book. I recommended it here about 8 months ago.

The whole background story you gave is engaging. However, it begs the question on what defines consciousness. I would say that all mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and so on have some degree of consciousness. Is consciousness the concept you are seeking, or is it something more along the lines of a species which has the ability to ask why it has consciousness? Perhaps there is some additional brain activity amongst those who can perform meta reasoning, a sort of recursive set of brain functions which become permanently scrambled upon an encounter with this hyperspace inversion.

Just stay out of The Great Beyond.

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A good story, but unfortunately it''s just a story. What I mean is, this is the kind of story you introduce with cinematics, and after that the player forgets about it and plays the game. So, I''m wondering where all this brilliance fits into the gameplay itself?

I think you should do two things: First, expand the story by adding several gaiden (sub-stories). Second, keep most of this unknown at first, and let the player discover the past for himself. After all, he''s at least 15 generations away from the people who experienced all this. All he knows is what the history books tell him.

Perhaps there''s something shady that his ancestors do not want him to know.

Stepping back a bit, here''s what I mean by sub-stories: One of the human vessels was thrown off course by a random cosmic disturbance; maybe something as simple as a comet soaring into the flight path, leaving a deadly trail of debris in its wake. They were thrown off course when their navigation computer was damaged by some of the debris. Many died. The rest landed relatively safely on a completely different, less hospitable world.

Another story: the Firemen ran into a violent species that, seeing them as hostile intruders, immediately formed an assault against them. Do the Firemen leave them to die? Do they try to convince them that they will be eradicated as a species if they don''t let the Firemen help? Do they call in other species (colonies, in game terms) to help put these violent creatures down? Your call.

I''ve got stuff I need to do, or I''d give you more ideas. Anyway, great story, Wav. Good luck with it.

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
Fire Upon the Deep was a good book.


Yeah, it is. I read it years ago, but still vividly remember the Tines!

quote:

The whole background story you gave is engaging. However, it begs the question on what defines consciousness. I would say that all mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and so on have some degree of consciousness. Is consciousness the concept you are seeking, or is it something more along the lines of a species which has the ability to ask why it has consciousness? Perhaps there is some additional brain activity amongst those who can perform meta reasoning, a sort of recursive set of brain functions which become permanently scrambled upon an encounter with this hyperspace inversion.


Okay, I like this. Good clarification (and insightful, as usual ) I''m looking to explain the killing off of life that could reason enough to build spaceships and colonize the universe. So maybe meta-reasoning, or even self-awareness is better.

quote:

Just stay out of The Great Beyond.



You mean in terms of borrowing?



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Tom
A good story, but unfortunately it''s just a story. What I mean is, this is the kind of story you introduce with cinematics, and after that the player forgets about it and plays the game. So, I''m wondering where all this brilliance fits into the gameplay itself?


Wow, thanks! You''re right, the story is very inert (backstory). I''ve been thinking of it only as setting material. But maybe it''s rich enough to make it a significant part of the game?

quote:

I think you should do two things: First, expand the story by adding several gaiden (sub-stories). Second, keep most of this unknown at first, and let the player discover the past for himself. After all, he''s at least 15 generations away from the people who experienced all this. All he knows is what the history books tell him.


Got it. Good suggestion. Each species actually as their own permuation of this diaspora and what happened during it. I''m starting to think I should try to interweave more of the story into the NPCs and game puzzles you encounter.

quote:

Perhaps there''s something shady that his ancestors do not want him to know.


Yes, I''m trying to work this into why these "hyperstorms" exist.

quote:

Stepping back a bit, here''s what I mean by sub-stories: One of the human vessels was thrown off course by a random cosmic disturbance; maybe something as simple as a comet soaring into the flight path, leaving a deadly trail of debris in its wake. They were thrown off course when their navigation computer was damaged by some of the debris. Many died. The rest landed relatively safely on a completely different, less hospitable world.


Actually, each species colonizes a number of worlds, and each world has its own (semi-randomly generated) story as to what happened afterwards. Not everyone got green Gaia worlds, and even the best worlds posed significant biological challenges (the same as faced by early explorers on this planet).

quote:

Another story: the Firemen ran into a violent species that, seeing them as hostile intruders, immediately formed an assault against them. Do the Firemen leave them to die? Do they try to convince them that they will be eradicated as a species if they don''t let the Firemen help? Do they call in other species (colonies, in game terms) to help put these violent creatures down? Your call.


Did not even think about this. Good point. Since the game universe is so pessimistic, the Firemen have to be very positive to balance it out. But the threads you raise actually could lead to some very cool subplots.

quote:

I''ve got stuff I need to do, or I''d give you more ideas. Anyway, great story, Wav. Good luck with it.


Thanks for the feedback!!!!


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Hey, anyone else out there have a comment? Rotten tomatoes, even! I''m gettin'' desperate!

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Wavintor,

Very interesting backstory you''ve got there. I''m not sure if you''re looking for critcism or suggestions for elaboration, but here''s a couple ideas I came up with.

I find the firemen''s promise to return if needed to be somewhat ominous, from the perspective of one of the rescued species. How long can they expect the sector of space that they''ve been relocated to be immune from the inversion?. Have the Firemen given them any assurance that they will be safe for so many millenia? And if so, do the rescued species beleive them?

The firemen''s pledge could also be construed as a big-brother (as in 1984, not your brother Fred) "behave yourselves because we''re watching you" kind of threat. I''m not saying that this resembles anything like the Firemen''s actual attitude, but it could be perceived that way by the rescued species. I can imagine some factions within each culture being somewhat resentful of having been rescued and are not entirely grateful. Some individuals may not even beleive in the hyperspace inversion. Have they seen any evidence of it with thier own eyes? It''s just a plot by the (fire)man to keep us down! I''ll betcha they''re all sippin'' margaritas in the Carribean right now while we''re stuck on this crummy mud-ball of a planet!

Do the Firemen do any recruiting? From your plot synopsis it sounds like entire species are dedicated to the cause. Does that mean every man, woman, and child? Have they given up their homeworlds to roam the spaceways in immense space-firetrucks?

I think your backstory provides a lot of possibility for some interesting conflicts. Good luck with it.

Sean

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quote:
Original post by Sean99
Wavintor,

Very interesting backstory you''ve got there. I''m not sure if you''re looking for critcism or suggestions for elaboration, but here''s a couple ideas I came up with.


Either would be fine! Thx!

quote:

I find the firemen''s promise to return if needed to be somewhat ominous, from the perspective of one of the rescued species. How long can they expect the sector of space that they''ve been relocated to be immune from the inversion?. Have the Firemen given them any assurance that they will be safe for so many millenia? And if so, do the rescued species beleive them?



Very good questions. I picture every Volume of space being safe for a few thousand years, but want this to be an uncertain fact of life, like an earthquake or tornado. This may or may not work, but I see the safe regions as needing to move so that species can not get entrenched.

quote:

The firemen''s pledge could also be construed as a big-brother (as in 1984, not your brother Fred) "behave yourselves because we''re watching you" kind of threat. I''m not saying that this resembles anything like the Firemen''s actual attitude, but it could be perceived that way by the rescued species. I can imagine some factions within each culture being somewhat resentful of having been rescued and are not entirely grateful. Some individuals may not even beleive in the hyperspace inversion. Have they seen any evidence of it with thier own eyes? It''s just a plot by the (fire)man to keep us down! I''ll betcha they''re all sippin'' margaritas in the Carribean right now while we''re stuck on this crummy mud-ball of a planet!



Yeah, I think there definitely should be factions who think the whole thing is a ploy. Some would blame the Firemen for causing the problem; others say it doesn''t exist; still others attribute it to conspiracy.

I want to do what I can, though, to project the image of this group of races as being the same as real firemen. They just go into harms way and grab people who need rescuing. Maybe there''s a better way of communicating that these guys really are benign, and then still going with some folks still disbelieving...

quote:

Do the Firemen do any recruiting? From your plot synopsis it sounds like entire species are dedicated to the cause. Does that mean every man, woman, and child? Have they given up their homeworlds to roam the spaceways in immense space-firetrucks?


LOL! Pretty much, except their ramships. Some species (the oldest and wisest) have sacrificed the mass of their home systems to build these rescue ships.

I think that maybe the Firemen revisit rescued species from time to time and maybe volunarily recruit. I want to avoid the cliche, though, of evil or controlling aliens. The species they rescue, and those that find their way by themselves into the Volume are seeds enough for conflict.


quote:

I think your backstory provides a lot of possibility for some interesting conflicts. Good luck with it.



Thx Sean! I might be making a mistake by trying to make the Firemen too goody-goody, but I figure the my inversion idea is a bit ruthless and pessimistic. So hopefully they provide a good core of positive balance.



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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How do each of the species go FTL? A story could be made that interstellar travel causes a buildup of some isotope that causes the same effects as the "hyperspace inversions." Would be simmiliar to DDT. It is passed on and built up through the generations, eventually causing impotency or what have you. The early fire men saw this happening and found space where the isotope doesn''t occur. The Firemen would be a constanly changing group, because they are not immune to the effects of the isotope. Hope this helps.

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I know it''s been awhile since someone wrote here. But... I think your story could be deeper than an simple RTS. It seems strange that species that has been saved suddenly start arguing over land and food. And starting to kill each other.

They could start searching for the firemen instead. Or trying to become firemen themself. But that could also be substories in an RTS. Some fractions are fighting to "convince" people to become firemen, or a/some fractions just "leave" that safe-place to return home (they could return later with some cool story).

}+TITANIUM+{

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it might not be the type of thing you want, but what if these Firemen have an ulterior motive? i don''t necessarily mean they are bringing in all sorts of species so they can have several different types of brains to munch on... but they could have something less extreme. maybe something that isn''t necessarily evil, but that the relocated species (at least some of them) find extremely suspicious and/or distasteful.
i can''t think of a good example, so i hope that made sense.

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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WHOOOOOAAAAA!!!! I all but ignored this topic, and was just checking the Writing Forum on a whim. Glad I looked!

quote:
Original post by Seriema
I know it''s been awhile since someone wrote here. But... I think your story could be deeper than an simple RTS. It seems strange that species that has been saved suddenly start arguing over land and food. And starting to kill each other.


You''re right, actually. The conflict part (which isn''t necessarily a given) is contrived. I just thought it might be more reasonable because the races were "young" and, being adolescents, hadn''t gotten past the land grab phase (some, anyway).

quote:

They could start searching for the firemen instead. Or trying to become firemen themself. But that could also be substories in an RTS. Some fractions are fighting to "convince" people to become firemen, or a/some fractions just "leave" that safe-place to return home (they could return later with some cool story).



Thanks for the suggestions. This would make some of the conflicts more substantial, because they could be ideological or religious.


quote:
Original post by krez
it might not be the type of thing you want, but what if these Firemen have an ulterior motive? i don''t necessarily mean they are bringing in all sorts of species so they can have several different types of brains to munch on... but they could have something less extreme. maybe something that isn''t necessarily evil, but that the relocated species (at least some of them) find extremely suspicious and/or distasteful.
i can''t think of a good example, so i hope that made sense.


Thx krez. I had thought of something like "Von Neuman Violators:" These would be races that, over time, reproduced uncontrollably, and that the Firemen needed to control for some reason. Maybe VNVs would use up a valuable mineral, or something, I never did figure out what... I like the idea, though.

quote:
Original post by Symphonic
Ah... My area of expertise... I shouldn''t gloat, chew on this:

www.spforge.com/wavin.htm

Wavinator, bear in mind that I wrote this SPECIFICALLY for this project, so have as much fun with it as you feel the need to


Wow, Symphonic. I just don''t know what to say. Thank you! I like the whole explanation of NTNs and why they exist, and how they function versus other particles. This is VERY cool, and lends a lot of hard SF credibility to the idea! Thx (obviously a lot of effort)!



--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Fermi''s Paradox asks where the aliens are. So much time has passed that if intelligent life is not so unique then, after millions upon millions of years, it should be here by now.



I just realised, this is a total insult to human intelligence... lol

George D. Filiotis
Are you in support of the ban of Dihydrogen Monoxide? You should be!

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Hey man nice sci-fi! I guess my two cents come in the form of elaboration. I think that fourth dimensional or hybrid (3rd/4th dimensional) "life" should be considered for villains. These would function sort of like like the wolf from The Neverending Story, or maybe like the dark riders of the Lord of the Rings trilogy spreading psychological mayhem wherever they go. I think this would help to integrate the storyline into gameplay value and make (a) common and more visceral foe/foes. Maybe hallucinations as attacks?

Also, have you considered different planetary atmosphere types? I.E. Acidic atmospheres, extreme winds etc. It might be interesting to see how aliens live in conditions to which humans must drastically adapt.

Ok my two cents, there ya go... good luck with your game! The story is great, just make sure the gameplay is: "a minute to learn, a lifetime to master"

Hope this helps stir ideas!!!!

Edited by - jakerrz on December 7, 2001 2:30:33 PM

Edited by - jakerrz on December 7, 2001 2:32:06 PM

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