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Acharis

Why "steampunk" is fun?

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I have this funny situation, I'm making a steampunk themed game, I'm also drawn to the steampunk theme in general. But I have no clue why I find it attractive/fun! :)

 

Can someone elightemen me, why this theme is attractive to me and other people (or you if you like it too)? :D

(I know it's a silly question, usually I know why I like something, but not now, for some strange reason I have no clue)

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Why do some people obtain gratification from dressing as small mammals1?  It's just your thing2.  Revel in it in all its glory.  Pursue your own aesthetic3.

 

 

1 It's not my thing, but if the catsuit fits, wear it.

2 Also not my thing, but I do favour a nice brocade waistcoat with a shawl collar and brass buttons under my jacket for those occasions when I appear in public.

3 Don't hold back: life is short, make it wide.

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Steampunk is fun for the same reason that any fantasy theme is fun - it opens the possibility of strange technology, awe-inspiring locations/architecture, interesting personalities, and more. Also, like with any fantasy genre, it creates a suspension of disbelief for the audience, allowing for narrative and storytelling that would seem improbable in a more realistic setting. A steampunk setting is just another way to create a consistent theme to make your fantasy world more believable.

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For me steampunk is fun because it exposes the working of devices. It is the difference between getting a pocket watch, and getting pocket watch with a glass cover where you can see the moving coils and gears.

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Many people feel a nostalgia for the period from about 1810 through the 1920s, which is the historical period steampunk is inspired by.  This is regarded as one of the most "classy" periods in history, as well as a time of great discoveries both scientific and archeological, and it's easy to imagine some great magical discoveries happening in there.  Life was less solved and regulated, with more room for adventures, crazy experiments, and getting away with crimes.  Culture could have evolved in a totally different way than it did, so characters can hope for a bright future that's not plausible from a modern context.

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For me, any sort of self-consistent alternative timeline/universe is fun because it sets up a world that's slightly askew from the one we know. In general, the physical world is much the same (for instance, gravity), but they've gone down a different path to augment their own reality for their benefit -- Where we have cell phones, which are terribly mundane for us, they have a crystal or some such that performs similar functions (perhaps with different properties or limitations). If the steampunk universe were real, it'd be more than likely they're reading about something akin to our world, and cell phones would seem utterly fantastic to them as their devices seem to us.

 

When you think about it, the modern world we live in is increadibly fantastic. Imagine the progress that was seen first hand by someone who was born around the turn of last century and lived to be 100 or more. I mean, probably millions of people who were alive for news that the Wright brothers had achieved the first flight also lived long enough to see commercial air-flight become common and affordable, and also to see a man set foot on the friggen moon. To paraphrase Louis CK on airtravel "I don't see how anyone can complain! You're sitting in a chair IN THE SKY!" Any kind of alternative universe resets our expectations, and removes the solutions we take for granted from the equation, and I think that sometimes seeing their alternative-universe solution, in some way, reawakens our respect for the problem. I think that's satisfying too.

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Fantasy... Yeah, I overlooked it (if there are factories then it can't be fantasy :D), but yes, when I think about it it is still fantasy genre.

BTW, I have heard some people saying (when referring to steampunk) vampires and elves. What you think of it? Personally, I find them completely not fitting the theme...

 

Some with magic, how about it? In Arcanum it sounded weird to me, like tech vs magic... For my tatse it should be just tech (fantasized but still tech), like Julies Verne (huge submarines, cannons to launch to the mood, heavy airships slightly making fun of gravity, or at most metals lighter than air in extreme cases).

 

"nostalgia for the period from about 1810 through the 1920s" - Really? I know of nostalgia for medieval times, never heard of the XIX stinky smogged factories nostalgia :) But I guess that's possible (for some reason I like that period myself...)

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I'd say it is kind-of a mix between nostalgia and the dreams, hopes and imaginations of the people actually living in the 19th century (found in books of the time), re-imagined by people living today.

 

This is the romantic period, and magic and superstition had a revival, mixed with lots of scientific breakthroughs, and the average person starting to feel the change brought about by industrialism. "Scientists" travelled the land putting up magic shows for an audience. The real power was had behind closed doors in smoky lounges where only the elite had access.

 

Vampires, demons, secret societies and mad scientists fit perfectly into this period.

 

"Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" was written 1818 after all...  

(OT: I think it is a bit fun that the word "modern" has been in use for over 400 years now...)

 

And Bram Stoker's Dracula was written 1897. (and several other well known vampire books before that)

 

Jules Verne is a good example too.

Edited by Olof Hedman

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It's perfectly acceptable to mix themes together. Final Fantasy VI mixed together steampunk and high fantasy (which included magic). It's really up to you if you want to mix themes and to what extent. It can open more possibilities, but at the same time it could turn the world into a mish-mash of ideas that don't feel like they fit together. The key to creating a convincing world is consistency.

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