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Old 04-16-2012, 05:11 PM   #21
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Originally Posted by vierasmarius View Post
Sorry, that line just made me laugh.
I shouldn't have said "accurate," as no depiction of force swords is likely to be "accurate" ^_^

I meant the consistent bit. Verisimilitude, not realism.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:06 PM   #22
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Depending on the weapon, control system, and tactical situation, this can be a bigger issue than you think, and it will only get bigger as systems get more advanced.

Also consider that Iran was supposedly able to hack one of our drones recently - this is already starting to happen.
We originally weren't even encrypting the data feeds from our drones back circa 2004 or so. We're in the infancy of the technology, and we're mostly fighting guys with cell phones and AK-47s, not people you generally have to take advanced ewar precautions against.

And there's a difference between someone claiming to be able to hack something and someone actually being able to hack it. Iran MAY have hacked a drone. Or it may have just have malfunctioned and tried to land somewhere mountainous.

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Hacking a drone isolated from human overseers is a lot easier than hacking a system where an unhackable human can literally pull the plug.
It's easier, but even now with the technology in it's infancy it's not EASY. And the more computer controlled stuff is (which is more and more necessary to keep up with the Jones', combat effectiveness-wise) the less difference there is between what you can do when you hack a pilot's computerized flight controls or hack a computer's computerized flight controls.
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:17 PM   #23
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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We originally weren't even encrypting the data feeds from our drones back circa 2004 or so. We're in the infancy of the technology, and we're mostly fighting guys with cell phones and AK-47s, not people you generally have to take advanced ewar precautions against.

And there's a difference between someone claiming to be able to hack something and someone actually being able to hack it. Iran MAY have hacked a drone. Or it may have just have malfunctioned and tried to land somewhere mountainous.
If I remember right, they didn't actually hack the drone - instead, they were able to mess with its navigation software using other tricks, rather than actually getting into the drone's computers and altering where it landed or anything. It was more a type of electronic warfare
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Old 04-16-2012, 08:59 PM   #24
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

In recent years my favorite sci-fi future has become John Morressey's "Del Whitby" galaxy. 500 years or so in the future, Old Earth was abandoned as it deteriorated and fell into ruin. Their Driveships are super-science, and last centuries with virtually no maintenance required. BUT, the effects of relativity ensure if you leave a planet, very much time spent at drive-speed mean that those that are planet bound will age double of triple your time. No one took technology to the stars because laser generators and nuclear power sources react lethally when you hit FTL. Literacy is a lost art due to the widespread dependence on vox recorders... So it's low tech sci-fi, at its best IMO.

I'm planning to start up a campaign soon, I've got some players that are interested. I suggest the books to anyone that this sort of background sounds interesting to!
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:41 AM   #25
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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So, if you want to keep the more personal, human elements of your space opera while using the accurate and consistent technology found within Ultra-Tech and GURPS Spaceships, you need switches, optional rules, and a carefully selected set of technologies to empower this sort of thing. We can't afford the flimsy excuses of a movie. We need firmer, consistent excuses, enough to convince players that these elements exist for a reason, and that they can exploit them without ruining the narrative. I'm asking for people's input and experience with said options.
Make a list of hypothetical countermeasures ahead of time, complete with technobabble, but don't bring them up until necessary.
Ultrascanners? Sure, we've got them. So does everyone else. Any interstellar crime syndicate worth it's salt will have a high energy wave scrambler though, so we're not going to be able to see anything until we get in real close.
Reprogram a captured drone? Yeah, we could do that if we had access to a subgravitational computer matrix, but the closest one is fifty parsecs from here!
Why haven't we built our own army of drones? Well, as it turns out their bodies are built from a composite duranium nanoweave, and the Evil Alliance have managed to take hold of the only planet we know of with a natural duranium supply.

And so on. Both the nice thing and the difficult thing about sci-fi from the GM's perspective is the incredible complexity of the setting. It's nice because you can always add information that the characters knew the whole time, though the players may have not. But it's difficult as well, for all the reasons you mentioned.

If you're talking star wars in particular, I imagine that as a world that's been TL10-11^ for so long, people just accept it without understanding all of the technology. For example, maybe every droid has some basic programming that was done so long ago no one can reproduce it; they simply use the same old existing programming as a template whenever it's time to build a new droid (which may explain why AI is so rampant, existing even in devices that don't seem to require it).
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:51 AM   #26
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

[QUOTE=Mailanka; Super-science allows things like force fields that you can only beat with magical laser swords, and pyschic crystals and sagely psychohistorians who talk about how your character was prophesied* and all such nonsense.
[/QUOTE]

Prophesy is outside the province of technological viability and attempts to dress it up in "psychohistory" or whatever comes across as a combination of ham-handedness and timidity on the authors part. In principle the physics of whether a sword can decapitate an orc and the physics of whether a space missile hits or misses a given target are equally irrelevant to whether prophesy has a place in the story. The same applies with living stars, and the like. Such plot devices are equally fantastic whatever the TL and are tangential to whether or not the technology itself performs as it would under the assumption of it's existence. The fact that prophecy is more in space opera then in hard sci-fi is a literary phenomenon not a scientific one.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:16 AM   #27
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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Prophesy is outside the province of technological viability and attempts to dress it up in "psychohistory" or whatever comes across as a combination of ham-handedness and timidity on the authors part. In principle the physics of whether a sword can decapitate an orc and the physics of whether a space missile hits or misses a given target are equally irrelevant to whether prophesy has a place in the story. The same applies with living stars, and the like. Such plot devices are equally fantastic whatever the TL and are tangential to whether or not the technology itself performs as it would under the assumption of it's existence. The fact that prophecy is more in space opera then in hard sci-fi is a literary phenomenon not a scientific one.
I don't think that the absence of prophecy as such in hard SF is unrelated to the scientific problems with prophecy. A prophecy (or a living star) might be a plot device but it's also, if you use it in the story, a thing that exists in your fictional world.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:21 AM   #28
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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I don't think that the absence of prophecy as such in hard SF is unrelated to the scientific problems with prophecy. A prophecy (or a living star) might be a plot device but it's also, if you use it in the story, a thing that exists in your fictional world.
Indeed. Such things are pretty explicitly magical (or at the very least nowhere close to feasible with our current understanding of physics) but Space Opera already allows many magical effects. Psionics are the primary example of this, but superscience is often "sufficiently advanced" to qualify as well, especially for things like Teleportation, direct energy-to-matter conversion, and FTL travel.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:26 AM   #29
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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I don't think that the absence of prophecy as such in hard SF is unrelated to the scientific problems with prophecy. A prophecy (or a living star) might be a plot device but it's also, if you use it in the story, a thing that exists in your fictional world.
The viability of prophecy is a metaphysical problem not a scientific problem. When a story of prophecy is made it is assumed to be a wonder, not a natural phenomenon. There is no conceivable way to experiment on the possibility of wonders.

My point was that it is the absense or presence of prophecy is LOGICALLY irrelevant to the behavior of plot devices that are presumed to be in accordance with some rough interpretation of The-world-as-we-know-it, because the presence or absence of exceptions to the natural order is a separate question from the behavior of the natural order. From the literary point of view however, prophecy and sapient stars belong more in space opera.
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Old 04-17-2012, 10:31 AM   #30
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Default Re: Space Opera vs Hard Sci-Fi, personal vs realistic

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The viability of prophecy is a metaphysical problem not a scientific problem. When a story of prophecy is made it is assumed to be a wonder, not a natural phenomenon. There is no conceivable way to experiment on the possibility of wonders.
I think his point (and the one I agree with) is that prophecy is often presented as a feature of a broader magical phenomenon (such as the Force or Psionics) which is already an established part of that setting. So of course it shows up in settings that allow magic (ie, Space Opera) rather than ones which don't (Hard Sci-Fi).
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