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Author Topic: [video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?  (Read 3740 times)

Justin Alexander

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #60 on: February 24, 2016, 04:54:51 pm »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;881041
I'm curious where would you put Prometheus and Alien+Aliens movies if "hard SF" and "SF" would be the only options.


All of those would generally qualify as hard SF.

FTL travel doesn't technically fit the definition of hard SF, but it's not unusual for it to get a "free pass" so to speak. (And the slow FTL of the Alien-verse gets an extra pass for being layered with a lot of hard SF accoutrements.)

Couple things to keep in mind:

First, by all practical measures, "hard SF" is a spectrum. SF gets harder or softer depending on the degree to which it respects our current understanding of science. One can look at Star Trek and say, "Well, that's definitely not hard SF." and one can look at Gravity and say, "That's definitely hard SF." But there's no clear, defining line at which something automatically ceases to be hard SF.

Second, Christopher Brady's definition of "science fantasy" is not the way that term is used in the real world. In the real world, science fantasy refers to works which feature world-building speculations based on both science/technology and also on magic/supernatural. Star Wars isn't science fantasy because George Lucas didn't explain how hyperdrives work; it's science fantasy because there are space wizards wielding a mystical force which permeates the entire galaxy.
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CRKrueger

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #61 on: February 24, 2016, 05:29:36 pm »
Quote from: Elfdart;880976
I guess you missed the part about the Death Star.


Eh, you have a point, but in no way was the focal point of the series "How does the possibility of the Death Star change the human condition?" The Rebel Fleet presumably is a small fleet-based society, kind of like Battlestar Galactica, but we don't see any of it, and it's doubtful that the fleet is in direct response to the Death Star anyway.  As menacing as it is, there's nothing new to discuss, and plotwise, the Death Star is kind of like the Guns of Navarone.

Arguably, you could make some real world connections to nuclear weapons, fascism, etc, but if present it's there the same way the myths are created from the reality of the creators.
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jan paparazzi

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #62 on: February 24, 2016, 06:12:26 pm »
The softer it is, the more likely there will be FTL, teleporters and laser weapons. If it feels gritty it's probably on the harder side of the spectrum. In a way just like Game of Thrones of the Witcher feels more realistic than LotR or D&D. So to me Alien is harder and so is for example Blade Runner.

Science Fantasy though got to have something magical or mystical and possibly swords and other archaic weaponry. Numenera is science fantasy to me.
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #63 on: February 24, 2016, 06:48:00 pm »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;881041
I'm curious where would you put Prometheus and Alien+Aliens movies if "hard SF" and "SF" would be the only options.


Alien and Aliens seems to be relatively hard SF. But they have linear artificial gravity ships. Not sure on the ship drive. Is it really fast or is it FTL? Seems like it must be FTL. But still very long.

So fairly hard to start and then drifting with each successive movie. Havent seen Prometheus yet but all accounts seem to indicate its even further away from the hard end than Alien 4.

Phillip

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #64 on: February 25, 2016, 03:29:31 pm »
I would agree with the assessment that "Star Trek" works better as SF and "Star Wars" as fantasy. That's not a matter of the selection of far-out trappings (such as FTL spaceships and ESP).

It's a matter of ST being interested in exploring both current social issues and potential developments along with telling an adventure tale, and emphasizing the solution of problems through thinking. SW meanwhile is about perennial mythology, close enough to timeless in the human psyche, and uses "outer space" and "high tech" imagery for that resonance rather than to take at all seriously the differences between those elements of stage dressing and the circumstances of an ancient or medieval saga.
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Phillip

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #65 on: February 25, 2016, 03:35:02 pm »
Fantasy is just a lot more popular than SF generally, because it provides the "comfort food" of pure entertainment that makes no great intellectual demand but taps directly into deep-rooted archetypes.  Add to that the familiarity in RPG circles of Dungeons & Dragons and its ilk, and it's pretty natural that most of what we get is basically the same power tripping with magic guns added to magic blades.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 03:38:32 pm by Phillip »
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #66 on: February 25, 2016, 03:55:05 pm »
Quote from: CRKrueger;880798
Why are true Science Fiction settings so rare?
1. Science
2. Math


That's silly, considering how little those figure in SF itself, even before getting to stories focused on the 'soft' sciences such as psychology. It doesn't take math to read Heinlein or Clarke or Sheffield, never mind Blish or Simak or Le Guin.

Real-world facts not so widely known among those with little interest in science sometimes do play a key role. However, the essential 'science' element is just the approach of observing, forming a hypothesis, and testing it experimentally. That itself is "not fun" to more people than the number who find it a blast. The rest prefer literal blasting away, solving problems with explosions.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 04:02:27 pm by Phillip »
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JesterRaiin

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #67 on: February 25, 2016, 04:19:01 pm »
Thanks guys. I see that I wasn't wrong in my assumption.

Funnily enough, around here people don't bring Prometheus that often when Hard SF is discussed.

Quote from: Justin Alexander;881150
Second, Christopher Brady's definition of "science fantasy" is not the way that term is used in the real world. In the real world, science fantasy refers to works which feature world-building speculations based on both science/technology and also on magic/supernatural. Star Wars isn't science fantasy because George Lucas didn't explain how hyperdrives work; it's science fantasy because there are space wizards wielding a mystical force which permeates the entire galaxy.


This might sound kind of awkward, but what do you mean exactly by "explain"? I mean, come to think about it, movies rarely truly explain future-tech. There's not much to explain in Gravity or The Martian, because there's not much of future-tech.

But, consider 2001: A Space Odyssey often cited as hard SF movie. Kubrick didn't really took any time to explain anything and there was sort of cryosleep, pilots using what seems to be tablets, such things. On the other hand Event Horizon: not very good example of hard SF, but one of central characters, Dr. Weir, puts on the mantle of Mr. Exposition, explains the concept of FTL travel, black-hole based drive... while in reality explaining nothing. It's just a bunch of words, that are supposed to see like an explanation, but at the end of day we still don't know how it's possible that people managed to create an artificial black hole.

So, what's your opinion on this topic?
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #68 on: February 25, 2016, 05:20:39 pm »
Hard vs soft sci-fi isn't defined by how much explanation you get though you will often get a lot of science exposition in hard sci-fi.  Lots of science-y babble does not make something hard sci-fi though.

Hard sci-fi is based on current scientific theory.  All of the science fiction elements are at least theoretically possible based on our current understanding of science even the seemingly implausible ones.  There tends to be a lot of exposition to explain how this or that might be possible.  It's to explain how life on a neutron start (Dragon's Egg by Robert L Forward) or a 50 km long alien starship (Rendezvous With Rama) might actually be possible.

Soft sc-fi features elements that have no grounding in current theory.  Star Trek, with its multiple kinds of unobtanium, is soft sci-fi.  There may be extensive Treknobabble about how the warp drive or the transporter work but none of it has any grounding in real science.  Most sci-fi is, to some extent, soft sci-fi.  Writing truly hard sci-fi is difficult.  It requires a grounding in science that most authors don't have and constrains what can be done.  People like Robert L Forward who are Doctors of physics and sci-fi authors are few and far between.  Writing soft sci-fi makes a lot of things easier too.  For example, if you want interstellar wars, you have to come up with some way this is possible (Joseph Haldeman, The Forever War) and deal with the complications (time dilation) or hand wave it with a soft sci-fi FTL drive.  Most authors go for the latter.  Stuff in soft sci-fi often isn't explained simply because there is no explanation for it.  You can't explain how it works because it really doesn't.  

Science Fantasy, like Star Wars, is essentially fantasy in sci-fi dress.  It's not that hyperdrives aren't explained.  It's the wizards in robes, Chosen Ones and Dark Lords.  The line between soft sci-fi and science fantasy is a fuzzy one.  It's mostly in the themes and tropes rather than the tech or explanations.
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #69 on: February 25, 2016, 05:51:11 pm »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;880752

BTW, there's a more or less "hard" SF RPG titled Blue Planet. I recall a few people complaining that they skipped the game, because the initial description of space travel (and its conditions) was too much for them.

It's far easier to say bye-bye to "hard" aspect and become a laser katana wielding samurai-sorcerer who doesn't have to deal with the possibility of shitting your lungs out during a space flight. ;]

Then again, those people are exactly what sold me on the game;).
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JesterRaiin

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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #70 on: February 26, 2016, 02:42:30 am »
Quote from: AsenRG;881393
Then again, those people are exactly what sold me on the game;).


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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #71 on: February 26, 2016, 02:51:25 am »
Quote from: Bren;880952
Space: 1999. :rant: B.b.b.but a nuclear waste dumb blew the moon out of orbit and into deep space, without disrupting Moonbase Alpha. WTF?!?


Not only that, but they went past many other solar systems within the lifetime of the characters, implying faster than light travel from a kinetic push.
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #72 on: February 26, 2016, 02:52:44 am »
Quote from: JesterRaiin;881453
Ladies & Gents, AsenRG: a man who doesn't take the easier path. :D


No, I always take the easier path, assuming it leads me to my destination. However, sometimes the easier path leads away from what I want to play;).

The lamentations of the pampered gamers being a music to my ears is just a bonus I get to enjoy on some of the roads:D!
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #73 on: February 26, 2016, 02:59:56 am »
From a personal point of view, I like SciFi as much as I like Fantasy and I like many different forms of SciFi. I don't tend to differentiate too much between Hard/Soft/Fantasy/Whatever.

As soon as you have something that doesn't currently exist, you have to allow for a degree of handwaving. The more remote something is from today's technology the more difficult it is to justify, or the easier it is to justify. If you accept that future technology is going to be just an extension of today's then you cannot easily justify massive leaps. However, if you assume that future technology will be radically different from today's then it is easy to accept massive leaps.

When I was a young boy, travelling to the Moon was Science Fiction, now we have sent a spaceship outside the Solar System. We have computers in every house, home systems connected by WiFi, apps on smartphones that do the work of mainframes from the past, 3D printers that produce replacement body parts and so on. We live in a Science Fiction world.

What I think separates SciFi from Fantasy is that in a Scifi setting you look at the new technology and work out how works and how it affects society, in a Fantasy setting the technology is just there as a part of the setting and is skipped over in a second or two.
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[video] Why are true science fiction games rarer?
« Reply #74 on: February 26, 2016, 08:03:22 am »
This thread made me think of a TV tropes page: Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness.
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