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How about an alien race that is more than just reskinned humans?

posted Mar 30, 2013 07:49:56 by crazymatt007
While I appreciate the role-playing options that humanoid aliens provide to some players, for purposes of immersion, I would really like to see more scientifically fleshed out cultural variations among the alien races, which would necessarily be dependent on their biology. In particular, how about units and number systems that are feasibly not of anthropic or geophysical origin?

For starters, while our hindu-arabic base ten system certainly makes sense for displays on human interfaces, there's nothing universally appealing about that choice of base, and I would expect, for example, that an untranslated Kralien interface would have an entirely different set of numerals, and moreover, a hastily translated Torgoth message could contain language reflecting their numerical grouping conventions.

Thinking on the scale of interstellar warfare, extending the common usage of metric units beyond the nearby solar system could jeopardize the security of TSN home-world, as measures of time, temperature, acceleration, and pressure could all be clues to human origins. I would imagine that official TSN units as well as those of the other races would reflect these concerns, or at least have advanced beyond the conventions set forth in 19th century France.

Finally, in one of the other threads, Mike Substelny discusses how the Ximni have a preference for practical items like "leather jackets." Now, not to discredit him, but taking this strictly at its literal face value, an item requiring the skin of a grazing earth mammal probably would be less than practical (and more of a luxury) to an alien race. I would speculate that the utility of an analogous Ximni garment is the intended meaning of this "practicality" (though their attitudes toward clothing or modesty would need to be established), assuming that their society would have easy access to some kind of leather-like material. On the other hand, any of their commonplace items could just as likely be quite exotic by earth standards, and I think a well-developed canon will come to reflect this.
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5 replies
ZacharyDanielBringham said Mar 30, 2013 15:04:57
Well, at least in terms of leather, you can make leather out of the hides of pretty much any animal, so assuming that the Ximni have animals on their planet, having leather is not much of a stretch.
Mike_Substelny said Apr 01, 2013 03:07:13
crazymatt007, the good news is that these already *do* exist in the Artemis universe. In the official TSN manual I described some of the USFP's member races thus ". . . they ranged from stone aged amphibians to meditative balloons floating in warm gas giants."

That's on Page 52 of the printed version, which I have in front of me.

The bad news is that while such creatures will be featured in upcoming Artemis stories and novels, and even some mission scripts, they will never be a required part of player interaction. While I agree they would add very slightly to the realism, the cost would be too high.

I want people who run game-mastered Artemis missions to be able to put on some sort of mask or makeup and speak to the players as a member of any of the important alien races.

I don't want to argue the following, but it is true:

The entire concept of races evolved in different star systems developing technologies that could fight each other is astronomically unlikely. Space warfare between different species will probably NEVER happen in the real universe simply because species will be separated by millions of years of technological difference. The very premise of Artemis (and Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, etc.) is statistically preposterous. But it resonates with us so we suspend our disbelief and indulge.
"Damn the torpedoes! Four bells, Captain Drayton!"

(Likely actual words of Admiral David Farragut, USN, at the battle of Mobile Bay. Four bells was the signal for the engine room to make full steam ahead).
AdmlBaconStraps said Apr 01, 2013 07:50:05
That. My initial reaction to this post was something like 'Somone hasn't read any of the race descriptions' :D
sgpaxman said May 04, 2013 20:09:13
Reskinned Humans? how do you reskin a human that does not exist in the game at all. I've taken a look at every art asset the game offers both 2D and 3D and have not once seen a single character model or skin. I do get the meaning here, just ribbing the topic a little.

(To be clear, as a Amateur game designer, I often look at others models and images to get an idea of how they are created, not to steal them for my own use. I have mad respect for ASBS and the work that Thom has put into it to even think of ripping it off. I just wanted to see how they where made is all.)

Honestly I'd like to see a Fan Fiction area for aspiring writers to tell exciting stories of their adventures in the TSN service. Complete with strange exotic meeting and full of awesomeness.

I my self have been toying with the idea of this. but as it sits and as both Mr. Substelny and BaconStraps have pointed out there are several races described in the TSN Manual that was commissioned by Thom himself. I'm sure if your a modder and has some talent you could create a Non-human race yourself and even give them a character in the game.

As for me, I have to get back to my own project. My Vampires aren't gonna learn how to suck blood on their own.
Salt Lake City Artemis SBS Fan is Looking for a local crew to join.
crazymatt007 said May 04, 2013 23:38:50
That. My initial reaction to this post was something like 'Somone hasn't read any of the race descriptions' :D

You actually hit the nail on the head with that comment, as much of my criticism at the time of my post stemmed from "extended universe" work done in early 2011 to flesh out the races in the link from the Unofficial Artemis Wiki's "Canon" page, which I now see that Mike was aware of, as he pushed to switch from two reptillian and one insectoid race to have one that more closely resembled humans.

The spirit of my original post is to raise awareness of the biases that we have as humans, and how part of what makes good science fiction compelling for me is the way that it can shed light on some of the less obvious ones. So while on the surface, my post probably comes across as being like, "hey, why are intelligent aliens always depicted just like humans, only greener?" I really want to get to questions like, "why not make them like humans, only ultravioleter?" where the creative direction that lends itself will take us further away from the every(earth)day human experience of detecting the RGB portion of the light spectrum, a direction I would not even know existed if it weren't for science.

With that in mind, I really like the Torgoth being from a lower-than-earth-gravity planet, as that falls well outside of my mundane experience of one earth gravity with one atmosphere at near sea level. Furthermore, I'd still like to see even more biological variation among the interactive sentient races, perhaps sensory abilities that are totally alien to humans, like magnetoception. I think such things could become a substantial part of the Artemis Universe without significantly adding to the cost of player interaction.
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