Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sci-Fi Author Timothy Zahn Is Creating a Video Game

timothy posted about a year ago | from the interesting-niche dept.

Games 116

An anonymous reader writes "Timothy Zahn, one of the most influential Star Wars Expanded Universe authors (creator of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade), and writer of 40 novels and 90+ short stories, will be trying his hand as the Creative Director for a new video game, Timothy Zahn's Parallax. From the Kickstarter page: 'The game concept is heavily inspired by the original Master of Orion but, because Timothy Zahn is the co-creator, a major focus is going to be on making sure that each alien race is as fully-realized as possible, and that the interactions with the other aliens are realistic: talking to one alien race will be different than talking to another, and the choices you make in the game will have side effects and the computer players will remember them — and treat you differently because of them.' Other highlights: 'The game will include at least 5 of his non-Star Wars alien races (Modhri, Kalixiri, Zhirrzh, Qanska and Pom); Backers will be active participants in the game creation process; No Digital Rights Management foolishness.' The Kickstarter starts at 6pm MST today."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

My eyes must be going (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about a year ago | (#44845477)

Pom/Porn

And don't even ask about the hairy palms.

Re: My eyes must be going (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845535)

Must be some kind if joke post

Re: My eyes must be going (2)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about a year ago | (#44845869)

I had to zoom the screen to 150% to verify that the first po was followed by m, and the second by rn.

Re: My eyes must be going (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845989)

Don't worry about it. Even if it was porn there wasn't going to be any faggot-on-faggot porn so you wouldn't have been interested.

Re: My eyes must be going (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year ago | (#44847979)

I was looking at the Slashdot RSS bookmark menu from a distance and briefly read a headline as referring to the new "iPhone SS".

Re:My niggers must be going back to Africa! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845551)

Pom/Porn

And don't even ask about the hairy palms.

You must be a niggerwoman. 3/5s the value of a white woman under ideal conditions. Whydya think niggermen dont want them? Imean when even a nigger doesnt want you thats pretty bad!!

Re:My niggers must be going back to Africa! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845931)

Who'd want those black skanks? You said it right. Even nergo men know not to bother with other negros at least when it comes to the questions of raising children and intelligent conversation. They even take fat white trash over thin black women.

Re:My niggers must be going back to Africa! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846269)

Commonly misunderstood portion of the Constitution. The 3/5 compromise was actually in favor of slave-owners. Tax dollars and representation in the House are based on the census. If slaves were counted as whole people, as the south desired, then the south would have had more tax dollars and more representatives in the House. The northern states did not want slaves to be counted at all. Of course none of them cared about the fact that they were slaves as all 13 states allowed slavery (by admitting Vermont as the 14th state, it became the first to abolish slavery), they just looked for any excuse they could think of to give their states more power (both north and south).

Re:My eyes must be going (1)

Lazarian (906722) | about a year ago | (#44846393)

Jesus, i guess it really does make you go blind...

A bit ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845529)

$30 for the game?
$10 only gets you a star name?

Seeing how they can still sell the game after, I think he could do better on (digital-only) pledges.

Priced out of Market (4, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about a year ago | (#44845693)

$30 for the game?

$10 only gets you a star name?

Seeing how they can still sell the game after, I think he could do better on (digital-only) pledges.

I have been priced off kickstarter (at least for games) which used to be more reasonable about my support, where I could afford to have little expectation, and the possibility of getting a lot for my money. Now I have stopped looking at all.

My money will go to Humble Bundle 9 https://www.humblebundle.com/ [humblebundle.com] which currently includes FTL, Fez and Trine 2 and others(the weekly bundle is Duke Nuken 3D and Shadow Warrior with DLC which is better than the original games). In contrast Humble Bundle has hit $2million already with another 11 days to go.

Re:Priced out of Market (5, Interesting)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44846705)

[As the developer of the game]

Anti: $10 doesn't just get you a star name, it gets you an entire year of talking about the game, and having a vote and a voice in the final product. As for the $30 license (and the $500k Kickstarter comment as well), we're putting everything into it up front, so it's the game we want to make right from the beginning, and the customers/ backers get as much as we can give them (rather than hoping to get funded for stretch goals). There's going to be a lot of content, and it's going to be expensive to generate - aside from paying my living expenses, the rest is going to be spent developing the game. "No DRM foolishness" means everybody in your family can use it if they want (yes, all at the same time), so it's not exactly price-gouging.

Pro: I'd actually rather charge less, but I had to find a balance between reasonable reward levels and enough to meet the Kickstarter goal, and I made a judgment call. And yes, there are some projects on Kickstarter that don't need to be there, or are too high, because the creators don't actually need that much money to complete the project. Timothy Zahn knows my plan for the game, and he was also worried that we might be setting the Kickstarter target too high (but it's not just my name on the line, and there's no way I'm going to waste all the time and energy he is putting into this by turning out a sub-par game that will disappoint the backers, or risk running out of funds because I cut the budget too close).

In general, it's a valid comment/ concern, but it's not as cut and dry as it seems from the outside, when you're dealing with all the myriad variables and considerations.

Re:Priced out of Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847069)

As for the $30 license (and the $500k Kickstarter comment as well), we're putting everything into it up front, so it's the game we want to make right from the beginning, and the customers/ backers get as much as we can give them (rather than hoping to get funded for stretch goals). There's going to be a lot of content, and it's going to be expensive to generate - aside from paying my living expenses, the rest is going to be spent developing the game. "No DRM foolishness" means everybody in your family can use it if they want (yes, all at the same time), so it's not exactly price-gouging.

Actually, the tiers read as if you get either a "trial version" or a "basic edition" only for $30 (slightly unclear on that one), so clearly no containing "everything up front"; in fact you need the $50 tier to get the game plus all kick-related expansions, and $75 for all expansions ever (at this point, it's a lot to take on faith that there will even be any expansions, let alone non-kickstarter-related ones).
Seems to make more sense to have a $25 tier for the game, and a $35 tier for the game plus, say, the first 3 expansions. Higher tiers could then just add some exclusive stuff (e.g. "add $10 to your pledge for 2 alien races exclusive to kickstarter"). Having multiplayer would make this easier of course - exclusive stuff is more interesting when you can show it off to random people online :-)

Part of what worries me most is the use of "cell phones" over "smart phones" and the claim that "because it has to run on phones the graphics need to be simple"; no, it just means you can scaled down assets on some platforms. The lower screen size would require a different UI/HUD design anyway. Similarly for console versions: you can reuse the art and UI/HUD then, but would need to rework the controls so things are playable using a controller.

MoO is great and retro is cool - but you should have at least some idea/sample of the graphics? I assume we're talking MoO3 or better?

Also, "no DRM" is great; but "no network connection for the initial unlock" seems like a recipe for no/low income other than the kickstarter. You say our family can use it - what exactly would the terms be?

In the end, it sounds like a lofty goal for what sounds like a one-man development team; I think I'll just play MoO 3 instead.

Re:Priced out of Market (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847189)

Again: where have you been for the last month while the preview was available? (but I will update the Kickstarter to reflect this as much as I can)

There was actually a lot of support for NOT having Kickstarter-exclusive content, and nobody even tried to make an argument for it. The general consensus was that, while it might be good encouragement for the backers to pledge more, it's incredibly annoying for anyone that happens to miss the Kickstarter campaign for some reason (tight month financially, military deployment, or maybe even just plain forgot to check).

The early access for higher-pledging backers was part of that conversation, as a way to both give them something permanently special, and be able to charge less for the expansion packs - I got a pretty strong "yes" when I said:

This would also allow us to charge less for each expansion pack and/ or make them larger, without making the higher-level backers feel like they're not getting their money's worth (so if we only have 2 or 3 Kickstarter-related expansion packs, and we charge $4 or $5 each, it's not a case of "hey, I paid $20 extra and all I got was this lousy $15 worth of extra content").

For the "Basic Game"... Argh! The "trial version" will be free, but require a code to unlock additional content. It sounded right, right up until you made me reread it. Nor will the game ever run on an old flip phone - "smart Phone" and "Cell Phone" seemed reasonable interchangeable.

The smaller form-factor devices do need "fairly" simple graphics, but it's a relative term. It will be the same source images on every device (which means it won't be pixel-perfect), and the graphics will have to be simple enough that they are still recognizable. As far as UI, it will be different layouts, but - again - the same source images, just with different locations and scale. The framework I have uses layout definitions, and will load static images and play sprite sheets in designated locations, according to those layout definitions. The style will be decided by vote and argument (in the classical sense), but they're going to be at least reasonably hi-res images.

Consoles are actually fairly simple, since I'm using Xamarin/ MonoGame, and it allows you to write code against a "generic" controller (the deciding factor on whether I can port it to a console will actually be whether they allow an "indie" game to go out to an FTP server and download game files).

And the money... Everybody hates the way EA handled things, but only slightly less well hated is when you can't play a game anymore because the activation server isn't there. So, just like taking it on faith that there will be follow-on expansion packs, I'm taking it on faith that most people will be honest. And the terms are "be honest"... Plus, my current plan is that the key generation/ validation will be tied to your email address, to help keep the honest people honest.

MOO3? Really? Have you not read all the other comments? Or are you just trying to start a flame war?

:D

Re:Priced out of Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847131)

I think the main problem there is: we don't know you or your company as a great game developer - if you have anyone in your team, that has any experience in somewhere else, give away this info, so we can judge and decide to trust big bold words or something, that was done - and doesn't matter if that is not a game. Software development has many examples, where great plans and result differs because of promises, that were set too high.
Sci-fi author, that backs some project is another topic, but frankly - there are not so many great outcomes to blindly hope, that this will be great stuff. From what I've read so far - it more looks like Star Control 3 which was entertaining at that time.

Re:Priced out of Market (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847299)

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! That's EXACTLY what I was envisioning this game to be!

:D :D :D (sorry, it's late)

Ok, seriously... Play my other game, Blobs [prototypexsoftware.com] - whether you love it or hate it (or give it 3 stars on Amazon because you got bored with it after 3 months like one player did), the level of technical difficulty to create that game is no different than this one will be, and I wrote it in a couple of months, in the evenings, after work. The only name I could drop would be the original author of PeachTree Accounting - my buddy Mike Goodell - and half of you would agree with him that PeachTree is the worst thing he's ever done... But it's also the first thing he ever did, and he's done some seriously impressive stuff since - that you've probably never heard of. Not that is really matters, though, because the only work he'd probably do would be the encryption-related key generation code. So.... Yeah, not really worth much.

Because so much hinges on the actual content generation, though, something more meaningful would be to announce that a Community Manager that's worked on a dozen or so (smaller, browser-based) games has volunteered to help out, but I can't - because he hasn't been fully-vetted yet and it might not happen. So what you have is someone who says he's more than competent enough to write the code, with a single published game in his repertoire, and no other work to show because it either belongs to the government or to a corporation.

My contention is that:
  • 1) Blobs is of the same technical difficulty level as this game.
  • 2) The artists at 99Designs will be willing to provide all of the high-quality graphics for the game for about $100k.
  • 3) The AI for the game is reasonable and straightforward, and will make the gameplay interesting and the AI generally believable.
  • 4) I will be able to properly install and configure forum software on my server, and then manage the user communication with that forum software (with or without a separate Community Manager).
  • 5) Within a year, the backers of the game will be able to help generate enough content, and I will be able to finalize said content and format it so that the game can load it.

Your call, I suppose...

Re:Priced out of Market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44849831)

I'm sorry, but I don't know what Blobs is - this is the issue, that there are many people who do not know what to expect - and this is not even a criticism, but when someone comes and says, that there will be great XXXX game - I really wish that there would be something like that, because I haven't seen any for years(unless someone thinks, that Civilization V is not a disaster with unnecesary and poorly amateurish AI checking every turn!) and I'm literally bored to death, because the best games I know, are already 10 years old.

And saying, that everybody will be winners - even if you won't succeed, but I don't get how it will be winning, that if you f*ck up everybody, unless you suppose, that everybody are masochists and would enjoy it... there is nothing at this moment to dabble and check if your words about this next great product are true and this will just generate hatred from very grumpy hardcore XXXXers, who are currently in hibernation. Don't wake us without any great reason. Let me tell one example for great(RPG) game - Torment: Tides of Numenera. Now, you are drawing attention, that you are going to make proper continuation for Master of Orion 2? 1st wasn't that advanced.

My call? Don't take it personal - I do wish you luck, but please - shut up and get off this forum - this is not a place for someone who is busy and delivering great product or at least hire someone to do publicity stuff, because there are many people like me, who would just like to write some comments and you'll just waste time answering to all of us, not even getting closer to result.

Re:Priced out of Market (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44850013)

I'm absolutely not taking it personally, and I have tried to treat is as honest, generally helpful, and occasionally strongly-worded, criticism - I'm on the forum because they're valid and valuable opinions. That being said:

Follow the hyperlink to check out the game [prototypexsoftware.com]

Sorry for not being clear - "you win either way" was directed specifically toward VertexCortex's argument ("I fear this will not end well" and such), in that he will have "won" by being right if I fail.

Even MOO2 added things I didn't like, and seemed to be moving more toward too much micromanagement. I have all 3 games, but only ever get the urge to go back and play MOO (on DOSBox :D)

Re:Priced out of Market (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#44847911)

I bought FTL when it was discounted on GOG. Horribly addictive. Don't start playing it if you have anything important to do over the next few days. It's amazingly simple in design - probably the highest ratio of player enjoyment to developer time of any game I've played in years.

Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

black3d (1648913) | about a year ago | (#44845583)

A big fan of the Conqueror's trilogy, must have read all 3 books at least half a dozen times. It's a shame I can't stand 4X games! I'd prefer to see someone with a bit more gaming clout trying to take on such a rich universe, as the majority of 4X indies made in the past few years have been sorely lacking anything appealing. Good luck to them, however! I'll probably keep my Zahn funding to buying books rather than games, unless this one manages to turn out amazing.

Can't fathom slapping down $30 on a 4X though. It's a genre with such a narrow cone of interest that the nuances in each individual title mean that a small select group will love it, and everyone else (even fans of other 4X titles) will hate it. Wake me again when it's closer to launch date and we can see what we're getting into.

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | about a year ago | (#44845633)

With Bioshock: Infinite (Latest, but there have been many others) showing how well that type of platform can tell a story, I can not see why he chose 2d turn based gaming.

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44846723)

Because it's the game I want to make (and, fortunately, at least some other people want to see me and Tim make it, too). And I'm pretty sure Bioshock tells the same story, every time you play - this is going to be more like a set of choose-your-own-adventure books... :D

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

Boronx (228853) | about a year ago | (#44847429)

If you suck at 4x, it will be like those choose your own adventure books that have no right answer.

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847471)

Yeah, I hate those... Or only stupid answers..... "why would I go down the stairs toward the shuffling sound - where's the choice to run away".... I really hope I don't suck. :D

(fortunately, I plan to have a whole lot of other people keeping an eye on me to make sure I don't suck)

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year ago | (#44849963)

With Bioshock: Infinite (Latest, but there have been many others) showing how well that type of platform can tell a story, I can not see why he chose 2d turn based gaming.

Are you serious? Do you know how much money it cost to make Infinite? 2D turn-based games are cheap to make and can be done by 1 or 2 people.

Re:Excellent! Sort of.. (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44846077)

More perplexing still, the funding goal is half a million dollars. Not quite the shoestring budget that Kickstarter dreams are made of. At last, a crowdfunding project that has something for everyone... to sigh at!

Will it feature a retired baseball player? (1)

dccase (56453) | about a year ago | (#44845585)

They are the best kind of alien in the gaming universe.

Re:Will it feature a retired baseball player? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year ago | (#44846987)

They are the best kind of alien in the gaming universe.

Like the kind that creates video game companies that are actually scams to suck money out of state government?

Names...? (-1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44845621)

Even if all I had to go on was the names of his races, I'd pass. Rule 1 of writing alien words: make sure your readers have some way of guessing at the correct proonunciation. "Modhri"? I read that as an Irish typo. "Kalixiri"? Basque... and how many people speak both Basque and Irish? "Zhirrzh", umm... that's like a hybrid of Chinese pinyin and eithe Italian or Spanish. "Qanska"? No idea. Is the Q a K sound, a KW sound or a glottal click?? I've no idea. "and Pom" Wow... one English speakers would all pronounce uniformly!

Foreign sounds work well on film because we can hear it, even if we don't understand it... foreign writing fails because if we can't understand it, we can't hear it.

Anyhow, I don't only have the names of his races to go on... I also read the Admiral Thrawn trilogy. It was rubbish. And it was full of unpronounceable words, too....

Re:Names...? (3, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#44845761)

make sure your readers have some way of guessing at the correct proonunciation.

Yeah, I read the Conqueror's Trilogy, and I had to rely on my imagination! Can you believe it?! In a sc-fi novel, no less!

Re:Names...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44847569)

As ceresabraciator says further down [slashdot.org] , this type of word

always takes the reader away from absorption in the text to think, at least briefly, "Wow, those are weird letters on the page."

Imagination is key to all reading, but the text should connect as directly as possible to the reader's imagination -- understanding should be passive with as little effort as possible.

Consider Dai swung his bwyell and chopped the neidr in half. You cannot "hear" that sentence when you read it... unless you speak Welsh, because that's where I nicked all the nouns from. Presumably I'd have described the bwyell as some kind of axe, and the neidr as a serpent-like creature previously... because bwyell is axe, and neidr is snake.

Call a spade a spade, or at worst a Venusian spade.

Re:Names...? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#44848579)

I read that sentence and 'heard' the words. I may not have interpreted them correctly phoenitcally, but that's of no relevance to the point - I heard them. They did not impede my reading of the sentence. YES, you have to provide explanations in prior passages, but that's a common occurrence in everyday reading anyway. This is why acronyms are typically expanded in parens the first time they're used in an article.

What if the bwyell and neidr are not an axe and snake, but a weapon specific to that culture and an animal specific to that realm of fiction? Now you've got "Dai swung his large bladed weapon and chopped the furry serpentine creature in half." I'd argue that's easily a step down in IQ and writing down is a bad thing (in my opinion).

What you're essentially saying is that an author should never develop a language or race with it's own language's name. I heartily disagree and you wouldn't care for my fiction either.

Imagination is key to all reading, but the text should connect as directly as possible to the reader's imagination -- understanding should be passive with as little effort as possible.

Depends on just who your target audience is.

Re:Names...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846057)

"some way of guessing at the correct proonunciation."

Speaking of which...

Re:Names...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44847509)

Did you understand the word despite the typo? I suspect you did... language is resilient that way. It can handle being typed by someone whose right arm is currently immobilised after being in an accident on a level crossing.

Re:Names...? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44846105)

As a hobbyist conlanger, I can say with some certainty that very nearly all sf and fantasy authors outsource alien names to infants. The only rule is "if their language consists of nothing but noises humans can't pronounce, just bash your head on the keyboard."

Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believable (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44846389)

Every time I see contrived names from Sci-Fi stories, I can't help but think of a quote from an O.S. Card book.

Nothing is more tacky than to have a bunch of foreign-sounding words thrown into a story for no better reason than to have something that sounds foreign. James Blish called such needlessly coined words “shmeerps.” If it looks like a rabbit and acts like a rabbit, calling it a shmeerp doesn’t make it alien.

If mugubasala means “bread” then say bread! Only use the made-up stuff when it used for a concept for which there is no English word. If your viewpoint character thinks that mugubasala is nothing but bread, then later discovers that it is prepared through a special process that releases a drug from the native grain, and that drug turns out to be the source of the telepathic power that the natives are suspected of having, then you are fully justified in calling the bread mugubasala. It really is different, and deserves the added importance that a foreign name bestows.

That being said, even if we applied this rule consistently, wouldn't we still have to come up with strange, seemingly unpronounceable names for aliens? We've no real word in English to describe some alien from Betelgeuse Seven, though we might opt to say Betelgeusian. Calling them Betelgeusian might seem satisfactory, but in many sci-fi contexts it would be like, just to pick a random example, applying our name for people from the subcontinent to people from a newly found continent on the opposite side of the planet because we wanted to get a grant proposal accepted by the Spanish royal family. So one must, in some situations, try to use a truly alien name to describe an alien people.

But this always carries a touch of the absurd. Our orthography, indeed our alphabet, was developed for our lips, throat, larynx, etc. Attempts to transcribe the sounds of other species from our own planet always look a little silly (I've never in my life heard a sheep say "baa" or a cow "moo", though like everyone else I accept these things without a thought by force of convention). For that matter, trying to transcribe sounds made by body parts accurately for which there isn't a fixed convention (like the sounds of diarrhea or sex which, on account of sensitivities, lack a fixed convention in contrast to something like chewing, munch munch, or another onomatopoetic standard like "burp" or "sniff") always takes the reader away from absorption in the text to think, at least briefly, "Wow, those are weird letters on the page."

I fear, therefore, that the illusion must always be broken when new words are introduced and the more alien the words are--even if the context demands something very alien--the more we cannot suspend disbelief. Perhaps it's just a limitation of the human mind, and therefore of sci-fi which is conditioned by its imaginative source, that cannot be overcome. Perhaps alien words some made up must always look like someone just made them up.

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44846663)

I had a somewhat longer post prepared originally, which was essentially a complaint about how no one ever seems to go the imperialist route for naming and call things Betelgeusian (notable exceptions: Martians and Terrans.)

The natural thing for two cultures in contact, at least up until the later half of the 20th century, was for words to be assimilated more fully. The silly letters get massaged into something more legible, and sometimes even calqued or translated. Hence for hundreds of years we had "Canton" instead of "Guangdong" for a certain Chinese province. Still unfamiliar, but not rawly alien.

In my opinion it would make more sense if we saw more of these compromises, particularly for far-future settings where lots of contact would've been standard. Eventually new words, no matter how alien, get assimilated.

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44848883)

In my opinion it would make more sense if we saw more of these compromises [...]

I think you're right. Someone above characterizes OP as being unwilling to use his imagination and I think this quite unfair. When we're reading sci-fi, we want to believe what we're reading and we want to be absorbed in it. We want to achieve that suspension of disbelief. But the more confused looking a name is, the more we're broken out of the experience. I can use my imagination to figure out how to pronounce Xchryxchub. But the effort in doing this will break the spell of the fiction. And as you point out, humans would really just say Krikoob anyway. The less 'realistic' a word look, the more realistic it feels.

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44851173)

I think the criticism is actually fair; it's stupid to always quote humans saying "Xchryxchub" when they're actually saying "Krikoob," as that implies they're better at pronouncing the weird alien name than they really are. Going to the trouble of inventing an orthography for their weird alien language in our alphabet, and then disregarding it, is part of the superfluous exotica complaint that Orson Scott Card levelled (and in the fantasy department, I believe Diana Wynne Jones has said something similar.) For that matter, maybe "Krikoob" should be spelled "Crickube"—a completely natural English spelling, but nothing disappointingly baby-ish.

There's an exception, of course: eventually the weird orthography would become legitimate if the two cultures remained in contact long enough and the aliens were thoroughly studied by our linguists. The onus is then on the author, like any explorer describing a newly-discovered civilization, to document and explain the correct pronunciation as best he or she can. (And if that gets tedious, perhaps a civilization with thirty different velar plosives isn't really appropriate for writing stories about. Much like diarrhea, comparative shopping, and trying to get ketchup stains out of a casual shirt, not everything makes good reading material.)

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44847623)

That being said, even if we applied this rule consistently, wouldn't we still have to come up with strange, seemingly unpronounceable names for aliens? We've no real word in English to describe some alien from Betelgeuse Seven, though we might opt to say Betelgeusian. Calling them Betelgeusian might seem satisfactory, but in many sci-fi contexts it would be like, just to pick a random example, applying our name for people from the subcontinent to people from a newly found continent on the opposite side of the planet because we wanted to get a grant proposal accepted by the Spanish royal family. So one must, in some situations, try to use a truly alien name to describe an alien people.

It's often surprisingly how many names for people or places originated as exonyms, ie names given by an outside group. "Wales" and "Wallonia" (the French-speaking part of Belgium) both come from a Low Germanic root meaning "foreigner". Germany calls itself Deutschland, while the French call it Allemagne and although the Italians call it Germania, they call the people tedeschi.

I don't think humanity would have a problem coming up with exonyms for alien races.

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#44848803)

I don't think humanity would have a problem coming up with exonyms for alien races.

Indeed I think this more plausible than using names intended to look alien. Sure, if aliens have a physiology similar to ours and call themselves Vulcan, we'll likely do so as well. Though they be as culturally sensitive as a Starfleet cadet in TNG, humans will always find something else to call a people whose name can only be transcribed as Hxach'caaskhh'aik'ak'a. We might just call them Gelfs. If they're tall and hairy, they'll have to get used to being called Wookies.

One note on Allemagne: at its roots it wasn't really an exonym. The term was an endonym referring to a confederation of tribes called the Allemanni (all the men, i.e. the tribes taken together). These tribes lived in what is today Alsace and Switzerland and gave Marcus Aurelius endless grief. They were at last defeated by Clovis and thus their name would be applied to Germany more broadly by the Franks. It's kind of like a synecdoche. This fact leaves me wondering about the roots of the term Germani, given its like ending. The OED has the roots of Germani as an exonym, borrowing from the Celts (gair=neighbor). I personally suspect that the term applied to a single tribe engaged in trade and warfare with Celts and Latins and that it was subsequently projected onto the whole. By the time it came into literature, its roots must have been lost.

Re:Alien Names, Necessarily Silly, Never Believabl (1)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#44851905)

We've no real word in English to describe some alien from Betelgeuse Seven, though we might opt to say Betelgeusian.

We'd say that until we figured out how to talk to them, and once we did, we'd ask them what they want to be called and then use that.

Re:Names...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44847589)

Even someone who takes time over their names and languages can still fall into the pronunciation trap, though. The Lord of the Rings films didn't strictly follow Tolkien's own pronunciation guide, because most readers pronounced the names differently from Tolkien's intention. It's commercially more sensible to please the fans than the author....

Re:Names...? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44851009)

That's more a product of an inappropriate choice of orthography. I'd be willing to bet his non-English readership was somewhat better at getting the names right, as would those with a Classics education (and given the age of his writings, much of his initial fanbase would've had such.) When a real constructed language is used, the problem of conveying the correct pronunciation becomes hilariously complex, since the orthography has to be internally consistent more than it has to be transparent to the reader.

Still, there are ways authors can provide cues—have characters mispronounce the name ("Leg-o-laz?" asked Frodo. "No, it's more like Le-go-lass," said Gimli. "I wish I could actually hear you saying that instead of just having to read it on the page," whined Pippin. "This example isn't really going where it was supposed to," said Gandalf.) or use an alternative orthography when English speakers use the name in an English context.

Re:Names...? (1)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#44846943)

At least he didn't go full-retard and inject a few random bits of punctuation... Modhri could have been Mod'hr@i.

But yeah, he fails rule #1 of how people use language. Foreign words collide with a language and they get modified to suit the convention of the language.

Modhri? ... probably everyone calls them Mods or Moths. Kalixiri -> clackers. Zhirrzh -> Zeroes. Quanska? Quacks or Quanks. Pom? yeh... that gets to stay Pom.

Who gives a fuck?!?!?!?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44845653)

FAGGGGGGGOTTTTTS!!!!!!
 
Fuck you all. Nerd faggot fucking cunt bitch asshole queers.

What about the Blackcollars? (1)

Silh (70926) | about a year ago | (#44845705)

Granted, the alien species there weren't terribly memorable in any way... the series was built more around the lower-tech methods of the human resistance, which I did find to be an interesting concept.

Re:What about the Blackcollars? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#44845975)

Agreed. One of my favorite books --- I'd love to see it developed as an FPS.

Similarly, I'd like to see C.J, Cherryh's Alliance-Union novels as the background for a an exploration/trading game, and her Morgaine novels as the setting for an on-line RPG.

Heavily influenced by Master of Orion (1)

kelarius (947816) | about a year ago | (#44845777)

Quoting TFS, "a major focus is going to be on making sure that each alien race is as fully-realized as possible", why don't you focus on making the game not suck ass like MoO3 did first and THEN making sure the aliens are fleshed out (homogenous alien civilizations trope not withstanding).

Re:Heavily influenced by Master of Orion (1)

Intropy (2009018) | about a year ago | (#44845963)

What makes you think that isn't what this is? I'm a big fan of the genre, and several recent efforts have been mechanically decent. Endless Space, Galactic Civilizations II, and Distant Worlds are all solidly designed (relatively) modern games. So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? Because it has character. The game is constantly giving you little touches like news reports or animated ambassadors and researchers that draw you in and make it feel like a fleshed out galaxy. You don't get that from these other titles. They are fun and engaging from a gameplay standpoint, but have about as much atmosphere as Excel.

So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (3, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#44846381)

- Modular ships and technology that can make a difference. Both in tactical combat and civilization/empire building.

- Species traits that really matter during the entire course of the game. Same goes for leaders.

- A simple interface that didn't require you to go back to the main screen for every single action, select a submenu, then another one, then choose an option...

- Build queues that worked and didn't require scrolling.
Also, everything that you could build was always on a single screen, available by a single click but it was separated so you didn't have to scroll through your buildings looking for ships and vice versa.
And you could sort your colonies by how fast they will build stuff - i.e. by production.

- Pretty graphics. Planetscapes were simple yet beautiful. Elerians were hot AND a very powerful race.

- But most importantly, HUMANOID SPECIES. Even Silicoids looked somewhat bipedal.
Which is very important if you're supposed to empathize with the species you're playing.
Among other things MOO3 managed to fuck up was the look of the game - most species now looked like bad modern art.
Practically all of them could be considered "repulsive".

Really alien looking species are a nice touch from time to time on an episodic show like Star Trek but there is no appeal for a weekly show whose main characters resemble puddles of mud.
We want to see humanoid aliens with humanoid expressions on their humanoid faces.

Which is why I'm having a bad feeling about this whole "as fully-realized as possible" thing.
Smells a lot like MOO3.11 for workgroups.

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44846805)

MOO3 does, indeed, suck (as does Win 3.11) - this will absolutely not turn into a nightmare of micromangement and endless boring repetition. And fully-realized means that it's immersive enough that the AI reflects the differences when dealing with each race, rather than the same exact dialogue regardless of which alien picture is on the screen.

I agree with everything denzacar said except: "We want to see humanoid aliens"... I want to show aliens that are cool, and at least interesting even if they're not completely believable, not photoshop jobs of stock photos (prolly too harsh, but hopefully you understand the intent :D). But, ultimately, the backers are going to make that decision, not me.

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#44851161)

And fully-realized means that it's immersive enough that the AI reflects the differences when dealing with each race, rather than the same exact dialogue regardless of which alien picture is on the screen.

Ah, so it's more like designed and developed in detail.

I agree with everything denzacar said except: "We want to see humanoid aliens"... I want to show aliens that are cool, and at least interesting even if they're not completely believable

All I'm saying is, look at statistics. We tend not to popularize those few non-anthropomorphic aliens shown on ANY screen or drawing.
For every Horta there are literally thousands of centrally symmetric bipedal aliens with very distinct facial features.

And how do we instantly recognize the bad guys? No faces. [tvtropes.org]

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (1)

jpatters (883) | about a year ago | (#44847115)

- But most importantly, HUMANOID SPECIES. Even Silicoids looked somewhat bipedal.
Which is very important if you're supposed to empathize with the species you're playing.
Among other things MOO3 managed to fuck up was the look of the game - most species now looked like bad modern art.
Practically all of them could be considered "repulsive".

I disagree. I bought MOO3 at launch, after following the development unfold for over a year before that. Existence of species that are not bi-pedal or humanoid was absolutely not the problem with MOO3, but rather it was one of the few actual improvements in the game. Unfortunately that was buried in a morass of unplayable drudgery, and the removal of the existing fan-favorite races was a bad decision.

One thing that would have helped, and I remember there being a big giant argument in the forums about this while the game was in development, was resolution independence. They made a decision to go with 800 by 600, and stuck with it. They rebuffed all the voices in the forums that were telling them that this was a stupid idea, and the result was a mess. The game might have been more playable (as complicated as it was) with a more thoughtful higher resolution interface. But they wasted development time on pie-in-the-sky grand ideas that were all eventually cut from the game.

If I was developing a game like this right now I would not have a public forum following the progress from the beginning. I think MOO3 was the first big game to take that approach, and the developers were constantly motivated to promise more and more features that never made the cut, and it took away from their ability to focus on the game itself in a more realistic manor. I think this can only work if the game is at a finished enough stage that the forum participants can actually play it during the process instead of just dream about it.

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (2)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847339)

It's a valid point and, unfortunately, one I've run into repeatedly - users don't really know what they want until they actually have something to play with, so it becomes the developer's job to help them figure it out. I've been on a number of projects that ended up in trouble because the development team (including the management) was afraid to say "no" to the customer.

I'm not afraid to say "no": I've already said that multiplayer isn't going to happen unless someone can think of a way to avoid having one person waiting on/ rushing the other, and the Kickstarter itself states that the vision and architecture are already set. The users will be helping to shape the content of the game, and I also said that we won't always be able to give them what they want. At the same time, Agile development works (when done properly), I've done it, I'm good at it and - most importantly - having user feedback right at the beginning is one of the best ways to prevent a project from heading off in the wrong direction and ending up as something that nobody wants. That is the biggest risk, and that is the one I need to address right at the beginning, which is why I chose to take this approach: the users have significant input, enjoy themselves, and the risk of turning out a bad game is reduced by orders of magnitude...

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847579)

Elerians were hot AND a very powerful race.

The Elerian science girl would not need to use telepathic domination in order to experiment on me. :P

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#44848875)

"We want to see humanoid aliens with humanoid expressions on their humanoid faces."

Who is this "we" you refer too? I would have zero problem dealing with - or empathizing with - a centipede life form. Like, say, in A Mission of Gravity, where all but one of the main characters were alien centipedes. Very engrossing.

Re:So why is MoO2 still the gold standard? (1)

denzacar (181829) | about a year ago | (#44850873)

It's because you're reading about them.

You anthropomorphize transparently and automatically, in your head. Empathizing while looking at images of centipedes the whole day on the other hand...
Well, let's just say that we have this thing for faces [wikipedia.org] .
Also, that when we think of cuddly and friendly [amazon.com] - we tend to disregard insects.

Re:Heavily influenced by Master of Orion (1)

Oligonicella (659917) | about a year ago | (#44848849)

"but have about as much atmosphere as Excel."

I friggin' love that phrase.

He's going to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847971)

Good strategy game AIs are very difficult. The market for turn based space strategy games is quite small. Master of Orion 2 is almost 20 years old, and it is still played.

This is kickstarter, so he only needs to convince some naive people to get the money.

When I play 4x games. (1)

Psyko (69453) | about a year ago | (#44845829)

I could really care less about the interactions with other races. I mean, how may different noises can they possibly make when I've got my boot on their throat (or throats, aliens ya know) and they're trying to get me to stop genociding their species.

I kinda liked fleet combat in MoO, but I'd rather see a full modernized redo of that vs. something that's going to focus more on diplomacy, which is what I'd have to say this is going to be since they want to spend so much time on how the aliens communicate.

Just show me the finished game. (1)

Gamer_2k4 (1030634) | about a year ago | (#44845855)

a major focus is going to be on making sure that each alien race is as fully-realized as possible, and that the interactions with the other aliens are realistic: talking to one alien race will be different than talking to another, and the choices you make in the game will have side effects and the computer players will remember them — and treat you differently because of them.

In concept this sounds great. In practice, it's probably just going to be a series of sliders that influences how likely a race is to trade with or attack you.

Claims like this are almost always underwhelming in the final product. Heck, I challenge anyone to name ONE game that has a decent, realistic morality system. If we can't even get Good/Bad right, what odds does this game have?

Re:Just show me ANY EXISTING PRIOR finished game. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#44846221)

Honestly, I hope he can pull it off, because to me it sounds just like every ideas-man wanna be game designer who's never made a game before. Not trying to be harsh, but seriously, it does sound like the crap newbs spout about their first game when they haven't even completed a tetris or mario clone, let alone a branching world where everything has consequences. It's easier said than done, just ask Peter Molyneux. He's not really a liar, he wanted to do all the stuff he spouted off about, but it wasn't feasible given the technological limitations of this decade...

Game Engines Are Free. My advice is the same for everyone else: No prototype? No backing. If you can't scrape together even a simple prototype first, even with just colored boxes moving around, then I can't put any money down. I don't care if you're John Carmack. No prototype, no money. Ideas are a dime a dozen, really, they are. It's the execution that matters. Many game developers go through tens or hundreds of iterations trying out different stuff, finding a novel core mechanic that works, and is fun.

Here we're being asked to throw half a million dollars in on a project that no one even has an inkling as to if it'll be fun or not... Hell, maybe if there were concept art some battle scenarios and a few races, you don't have to go all in, just get something in an engine. Contracted out graphics, contracted out engine, contracted out game-play, ideas man who's got no experience in the driver's seat... $500,000.00 and we'll build a race car, we've never done it before, but how hard can it be? Maybe his status will attract some actual gamedev talent? I mean, face it, that's what he's asking for: "I'm an ideas man with a lot of reputation, and you're giving me money due to the reputation..."

Personally, I'd tell him to go work on one of the many 4x indie-games, he could lend his skills to a team who can at least make pixels move. I fear this will not end well.

Re:Just show me ANY EXISTING PRIOR finished game. (3, Informative)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44846915)

Ouch.

..........

I've actually been developing software for 15 years, and have made a game before (XNA on Windows Phone, and Xamarin to port it to Android, ported from an original 3D WPF version that looked great but ran like crap on a phone/ tablet and had too small a playable area there) - there are screen shots on the Kickstarter page. And you can't tell from the screen shots, but the pixels do move.

That is, of course, the least of what I've done - I specialize in highly-complex modular systems that push around and transform data on the server tier, as well as UI/ UX presentation of that data in the simplest way possible (lots of complex third-order-effect stuff going on behind the scenes, pretty colors for the user). I got an MCSD way back when it meant something. I've redesigned $60,000 per-seat systems and saved multi-million dollar projects... I'm not the idea man - I'm the architect that the idea men go to when they want something to actually get built.

But for this... none of that really matters. Yeah, I'm going to move pixels around on a screen and create a dynamic shell driven by XML-based files that loads the content on the fly, but the content generation itself is the long pole. I had photoshopped screen shots that were serviceable but, since I decided to let the backers help generate all those reams of content, I stopped working on them. The community management and organization is going to be critical, and my main job is going to be to mentally juggle hundreds of different ideas all at once and make them fit together - and then listen to the backers and fix it when they tell me I messed up. as for the novel core mechanic, I'm stealing it from MOO[1], cherry-picking cool features from other games, and fixing the stuff that tends to annoy me.

But the cool part is that you don't have to believe me, and you win either way: either I fail miserably and you're right, or I succeed reasonably well and you get a fun game to play.

:D

Re:Just show me ANY EXISTING PRIOR finished game. (1)

black3d (1648913) | about a year ago | (#44847251)

So it doesn't seem so harsh, I believe OP was referring to Zahn, since he presents the video.
>"I'm an ideas man with a lot of reputation, and you're giving me money due to the reputation..."
So don't take it personally. :)

Re:Just show me ANY EXISTING PRIOR finished game. (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847367)

It doesn't seem harsh - criticism is worth a hell of a lot more than praise, because you can do something productive with criticism. Hence the multitude of smileys...

:D

And Tim's not the idea man, he's the guy who's got 130+ published works of fiction in the past 30 years or so, so he's going to be focused on helping to make the content engaging and interesting. Which - despite opinions to the contrary - I think he's proven himself capable of.

Risk/reward...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44847765)

My problem with this project is the problem I have with almost all software projects that I've seen on Kickstarter: The biggest cost is programmer time.

So what? you might ask, it is a programming project after all.

Well, I see programmer after programmer eliminating all personal risk by writing themselves a nice middle-class paycheck at the backers' expense, but at the end of the project, the developer's the one that's going to be getting royalties on future sales. This seems like a bit of a cheat to me; having your cake and eating it.

Yes, it's great to have a guaranteed income, and that's why many content creators work for hire -- the trade off is that we're not gambling our time against future profit, but selling it for immediate recompense. Thousands of projects have been cancelled by the likes of EA, but their salaried programmers are safe, because it's not a gamble.

So why should I or anyone else pay you or Zahn for something that you both could do off your own bat? You sound like you're well enough off to survive for a year without starving, and Zahn's got plenty of money coming in in royalties.

Now it may be that you aren't actually taking any money yourself from this, but I see nothing to say that. Like the investors in Dragon's Den/Shark Tank, I don't like putting money up for someone who hasn't already invested a lot in terms of their own time and/or money...

Re:Risk/reward...? (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44849873)

Excellent question, and excellent points...

The short answer is: Whether this Kickstarter succeeds or fails, I am making this game. The only things that the Kickstarter will change are the timeline, the amount of content that will be included, and the amount of time spent on the content. It will also make it clear, to Tim, that this is something that his fans support him spending a considerable amount of his time on. If the Kickstarter fails, it will be mostly the same under the hood, but will not have nearly as much content, and will take a few years to make instead of one. The $500k actually seems high to me, too, and I chose that amount. But it's the amount that allows me to say, with absolute certainty, that this game will be completed as described, on time, and with a level of quality and refinement in keeping with that funding amount.

More details:

No, I'm not well-off enough to survive for a year with no income - if I could, I absolutely would. Without going into detail, I might be able to go a month, and not because I'm irresponsible with my money. I've got 4 kids, and a good paycheck but... 4 kids. It's not personal risk I'm avoiding, it's risk to them. I'm going to be taking a pay cut, but not so drastically that I risk leaving them destitute or homeless. And in exchange for that reduced "salary", I fully expect to be spending a minimum of 60 hours a week on the project, to further ensure that it's on time, on budget, and high-quality.

The biggest cost is actually "developer" time, only a fraction of which is going to be for programming. I've said in other responses that the coding is the least of the effort (a couple of months of full-time work), and working with the backers to develop the content is going to take up the bulk of the time. Part of this Kickstarter is the experience and the involvement with creating the game, and while it's going to be fun for me to work with all the backers, it's going to be extremely time-consuming. I can't shorten the schedule and still give the backers the attention and consideration they deserve. With significantly reduced backer involvement, the target would be half as much, but the game would have a lot less content as well.

I've also said repeatedly that everything raised by this Kickstarter will go toward game development. In the highly unlikely event that everything falls into place perfectly and the game is completed significantly ahead of schedule and the backers (as a group) don't come up with other things that should be added to the game, the backers will decide what to do with the surplus.

As for profiting from future sales... It would be great to make enough to continue doing this full-time after this game is finished, with the same level of quality and detail, but I don't expect to make much more than that. I've also made it clear (I hope) that I want to be as reasonable as possible with the pricing for future mods and such, so if I start making a lot, I'll drop the prices.

Re:Risk/reward...? (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year ago | (#44850121)

Well, I see programmer after programmer eliminating all personal risk by writing themselves a nice middle-class paycheck at the backers' expense, but at the end of the project, the developer's the one that's going to be getting royalties on future sales. This seems like a bit of a cheat to me; having your cake and eating it.

I agree 100%, which is why I'd never fund a kickstarter. I don't understand why they are so popular, or don't at least offer profit sharing. I would actually be ashamed to even make such a pitch.

Re:Risk/reward...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about a year ago | (#44852027)

I think Kickstarter's model is great... but not for this sort of endeavour.

The model isn't new -- it used to be called the subscription model, and we've forgotten what "subscription" means: sub=under, scribe=write... subscribers would "underwrite" the physical costs of printing a publication that was of value to them, because the authors maybe didn't have the money to pay for the first print run. If you could offset the upfront costs against subscriptions, you could get the book/magazine to market and make a profit over time from sales.

Plenty of Kickstarter projects work this way -- the purest example would be bands seeking money for studio time and disc pressing -- but I've seen far too many examples of people asking for money for books they haven't started writing yet. I'm happy to pay for material costs, even including travel costs for the right project. I'm not so keen on paying for time. Perhaps if it's commoditised work that could be done by pretty much anyone interchangeably (eg transcribing an old print book to electronic form), but for creative work, the work value is inestimable and it leaves me very uneasy.

Re:Risk/reward...? (1)

Raenex (947668) | about a year ago | (#44852627)

If you could offset the upfront costs against subscriptions, you could get the book/magazine to market and make a profit over time from sales.

I'm against even this, as I wouldn't put up money to a for-profit business just to get a promised product. If you want to get rich with my help, give me a slice of the action.

Plenty of Kickstarter projects work this way -- the purest example would be bands seeking money for studio time and disc pressing -- [..] I'm happy to pay for material costs, even including travel costs for the right project. I'm not so keen on paying for time.

I don't have a problem paying a reasonable amount for time if it's going to fund something that doesn't involve the worker making a bunch of copies and becoming potentially rich. An even older example, before there was copyright, was funding for unique pieces (such as a statue). A good example of something I'd be willing to fund in modern times would be a science experiment.

Re:Just show me the finished game. (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44846979)

In practice, it IS going to be a series of sliders that influences how likely a race is to trade with or attack you.

No, it's not a revolutionary new approach, because there aren't a whole lot of other realistic options... But I think you might have cheated and looked at the answer on the Kickstarter before you guessed that:

Under the hood, however, it all comes down to fuzzy logic and decision trees really simple, old-school decision trees, similar to a choose-your-own-adventure book.

Each computer player will have a set of numbers that indicate, on a sliding scale, how they feel about every other player, and these numbers will change over the course of the game: how much they (and their subjects) like the other; how much they trust the other player; and even whether they respect the other player, or look down on them with contempt. There will also be relative statistical numbers, for stuff like tech level, civilization size, etc.

For every type of interaction, and for every race, there will be dozens of possible things that can be said at each step in the conversation – that list will be filtered down to a few items based on how the speaker “feels” about the other player at that point in time (and also based on previous selections during the conversation). And the choices that are made during the conversation will, in turn, affect how each side feels about the other (by modifying those underlying numbers).

For the AI players, they will be given the same choices as the live player, and each available choice will be assigned a percentage chance, based on the player’s feelings and the relative standing of each civilization, and a simple (virtual) dice roll will determine their choice.

:D

Oh great (1)

Velex (120469) | about a year ago | (#44845951)

and the choices you make in the game will have side effects and the computer players will remember them â" and treat you differently because of them.

Oh great, yet another rep grinding system.

Ringworld (1)

Stoutlimb (143245) | about a year ago | (#44845969)

I would rather see a very good video game based on Larry Niven's Ringworld.

Re:Ringworld (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846359)

I'd take a mediocre game based on Larry Niven's Ringworld.

I'm not demanding Larry, not at all, just a little taste...

Ok, so odds are it'd become a Rishathra-fest, is that so wrong? If it is, I don't want to live in that world.

Meh! (2)

godel_56 (1287256) | about a year ago | (#44846143)

I've always regarded Zahn as a bit of a hack.

He writes what I call sausage machine books; he turns the handle and out they come, one after the other. His books are inoffensive but unmemorable, the kind of thing you pick up in a bus or airline terminal when there's nothing better to do while you're waiting for your ride to show up.

Oh well, I suppose it pays his bills, but I'm not expecting to see Zahn's name on any of the Hugo or Nebula Awards' lists anytime soon.

Re:Meh! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846415)

Yeah, he only has one Hugo already.

Re:Meh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846959)

I think you mean Kevin J. Anderson.

Re:Meh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846977)

he sucks at books, therefore game design will suffer?

take the main story points, along with character and environment, and let someone write it better. or skip the rewriting and replace mediocre prose with gameplay.

It's an opportunity to demonstrate how far the suck goes, and now I'm interested in the outcome.

Re:Meh! (1)

globalist (1332141) | about a year ago | (#44847245)

There's ALWAYS something better to do than read a suasage machine book! :)

Sci-Fi Author Timothy Zahn Is Creating a Video Gam (1)

quickvideo (3077863) | about a year ago | (#44846257)

wow! finally something great is going on.

genre fiction & "influential" (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#44846259)

Timothy Zahn, one of the most influential Star Wars Expanded Universe authors (creator of Grand Admiral Thrawn and Mara Jade)

If he's "one of the most influential Star Wars Expanded Universe authors", how many others are there? On whom did he have influence?

Personally, I'm known as one of the most influential three-toed green bunny with superpowers short-novel authors (creator of Pukey the Mighty Bunny and Horrible Emperor Zfnjor) . Not THE most influential of course, but one of the top 500 for sure. However among the four-toed green bunny with superpowers short-novel authors, I'm considered little more than a hack.

You can get my books on Amazon for $2.99. I tried to put them up for $1.99, but I guess people expect be paid more than $1.99 to read a short novel about a three-toed green bunny with superpowers. For some reason, the four-toed green bunny with superpowers short novels sell like hotcakes.

Re:genre fiction & "influential" (1)

Soluzar (1957050) | about a year ago | (#44850757)

He presumably had an influence on all the authors who re-used his character, Mara Jade. If you were to visit Wookieepedia, you'd see her list of appearances is not short.

Call the Navy Seals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846275)

Timothy Zahn was kidnapped, held a gun-point, and forced to record that video by gaming terrorists!

Fuck Kickstarter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846597)

Nuff' said.

SF writers, if you want money create a religion (1)

aiadot (3055455) | about a year ago | (#44846641)

I mean not only he is a sci-fi writer just like Ron Hubbard, but he is a Star Wars writer. He could easily either be pope of the already existing Jedi church or create the Sith church. What a wasted opportunity...

Masters Of Orion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44846677)

There's already a great replacement, StarDrive...

Starbase Orion (1)

jpatters (883) | about a year ago | (#44846717)

I have been addicted to Starbase Orion lately, which is currently the best Master of Orion inspired game on iOS. As soon as I have time to read the whole kickstarter page, I'll think about contributing, but I'd like to know how they plan on implimenting their multi-platform pass with iOS. I don't think that will work.

Re:Starbase Orion (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847017)

Each game will go out on the respective App Store as a trial version, and have separately-purchasable "DLC" that (essentially) creates an unlock code for a specific user. The user will be able to enter the unlock code on any platform and have access to the exact same content.

In the past, Apple has allowed something very similar to this type of cross-platform unlock code approach, as long as the DLC was available in the iTunes store as well. They have a reputation for being fickle, though, so it's going to be an independent negotiation when we're ready to post the app to their store. As far as I can tell, they'd prefer to get some profit rather than none, so there's a very good chance that they will allow this. If they refuse to allow it, then either the unlock codes will have to be purchased elsewhere or (more likely), the entire game will be free on iDevices, lest we disappoint or backers by not following through.

Re:Starbase Orion (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year ago | (#44847927)

Thank you for all of your posts in this thread. I've enjoyed a lot of Timothy Zahn books, but you've done a very good job of convincing me not to put any money into this.

$250 (1)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | about a year ago | (#44847047)

$250 for the privilege of beta testing the game? seriously? This guy majorly overvalues a lot of the rewards.

Re:$250 (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847081)

Yes, plus you get most of the other rewards, early access to the game, more say into the game mechanics - as I've said before, it's a judgment call... Where were all these criticisms when Tim and I had the preview available for the past month or so and were asking for them (yes, it was on Facebook, so if you never checked his page, you never saw it - still, a discussion along these lines might have borne out some valuable changes).

:D

Re:$250 (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44847837)

that wouldn't be too bad if they had more to show for the game. like, about the actual game mechanics, ui concepts... something! coming up with the new races IS THE EASIEST FUCKING PART OF CREATING A SPACE CONQUERING GAME!

would it matter if the backstory in master of orion said that the silicoids in master of orion can ingest radiation? no, because in the game mechanics context that has no meaning at all(seriously, one of the new races is taken straight out of moo).

Trademark infringement (1)

Misagon (1135) | about a year ago | (#44847293)

There is already a classic vintage game called Parallax.
It has lasting fame for having given name to the video game technique Parallax scrolling [wikipedia.org] .

The game's soundtrack by Martin Galway is also a classic, with many covers/remixes made by video game music enthusiasts.

Re:Trademark infringement (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44847403)

The Wiki page that you linked to states that the technique has been around since the 40's, and that Moon Patrol did it 4 years prior to that game... Plus "parallax" is actually the physics term for the apparent difference in relative position of 2 (or more) objects when the observer changes position, and I think it was in use by, y'know, ancient astronomers long before modern computers, let alone video games.

But, I could be wrong... I don't think I am, but I could be.

Re:Trademark infringement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44847941)

Moon Patrol... ahh the memories! Can you remake that game, please?

Re:Trademark infringement (1)

JohnG (93975) | about a year ago | (#44848765)

Misagon referenced a game with that name, and then linked to a Wikipedia article on the technique. Which are two separate things. I've never heard of the game, but if I said that there was an OS named Windows and linked to the Wikipedia page on glass panes, would you reply that windows have been around since, y'know ancient times and stuff and that it was perfectly okay to name your OS that?
Rather than dismissing what he said so flippantly, it might behoove you to see if there was such a game and what legal liabilities might exist for creating one of the same name. If it's an old enough game, in a completely different genre, there might be no issues. But, IANAL, I don't think I am, and I couldn't be. You probably couldn't either. Asking for a half a million dollars and then dismissing a potential legal hurdle isn't smart.

Re:Trademark infringement (1)

Abram Jablonski (3070601) | about a year ago | (#44851437)

Sorry - didn't mean to come off quite that flippantly... The article does actually reference the game directly, but my argument was that the game was named after the technique, rather than the other way around.

I'm less concerned with the trademark issue (because the trademark isn't actively registered in association with computer games), than I am with the fact that there have actually been a FEW other games that share the same name. And a book. And a full game company. The majority of which, I only became aware of in the past few days. So there may be a name change in the game's future, but to avoid confusion, rather than legal issues.

I am very happy about this... (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | about a year ago | (#44847691)

I'm a huge Timothy Zahn fan. He's a GREAT sci-fi writer. I hope he pulls this off!

Re: I am very happy about this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850163)

It's really not possible to be a great SF writer and just write franchise spinoff books. If the book has a logo on the cover from some movie, It's fan fiction, which is almost always something less than even the typical genre fiction we know of as SF.

Uh, come up with new ideas of your own. Stuff with Star Wars logos on it belong in a McDonalds Happy Meal.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?