Bioware Says Anthem is "Science Fantasy" Like Star Wars, Not Hardcore Sci-Fi

Bioware Says Anthem is "Science Fantasy" Like Star Wars, Not Hardcore Sci-Fi

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Anthem isn't hard sci-fi, Bioware says. It's more "science fantasy," like Star Wars.

Ever since Bioware announced Anthem at E3 this year, people have been talking about it. It's been compared to Destiny, called a sci-fi game, an MMO, and more. But Bioware wants gamers to know that Anthem won't be hard sci-fi like Mass Effect. Instead, it's calling the game "science fantasy," and likening it to Star Wars.

The clarification comes in an interview with CBC program Edmonton AM, in which Bioware general manager Aaryn Flynn describes Anthem as "a genre we call science fantasy very much like Star Wars, very much like the Marvel universe." He says the fantasy part happens when "you see a lot of amazing things happening but we don't worry too much about why they're happening or how they're happening, the science of it."

Flynn also briefly talked about the gameplay in Anthem, saying, "there are shooting mechanics in it, it's an action game, it's a role playing game. It's got a lot of those elements to it that let you become a character and participate in this."

Anthem is slated for a Fall 2018 release. EA says that the game will be "maybe a ten-year journey for us."

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Ten years?

Unless God Himself descends from the heavens and declared Anthem to be The Greatest Game of All Time, it probably won't even be relevant two years after launch.

But in all honestly, it will depend on how good the game is...and how good Destiny 2 will be by comparison.

And even though Destiny was a pretty big letdown, I have a lot more faith in Bungie than I do in Bioware these days.

Can't help but feel that's the lazy option for writing sci-fi. Good to know they're putting in equal effort for story as Bungie did with destiny with the same ambition to stretch out a paper thin plot over years with no real end intended. I hate sounding cynical for this, but it just feels like such a wasted opportunity. We need more sci-fi that aren't tiresome grind-fests designed in a way that makes the beauty of exploring unknown world's and creatures into a repetitive slog. An adventure with memorable characters, actual pacing with plot, no micro-managing endless numbers of gear that all looks the same and stat-scaling enemies looping like groundhog day with no real goals of their own but to politely wait for your awesomeness to appear and buff your stats with their timely - but ultimately meaningless deaths.

I was going to say what's the difference but then I realised what they mean is that there will be less codex entries popping on the screen and a lot more hand waving and "things are/work just like that so deal with it". Okay cool but that stills tells us nothing about the actual substance of the game aside from "we're not justifying why they have mech suits" or how they work.

But hey look at that, they're not disputing the Destiny and MMO comparisons. Great... -_-

Flynn also briefly talked about the gameplay in Anthem, saying, "there are shooting mechanics in it, it's an action game, it's a role playing game. It's got a lot of those elements to it that let you become a character and participate in this."

Well the trailer showed shootbangs, jumping around (and on-rails jetpacks) as well as suggested character abilities and lewt drops so those have been covered already, the most important question now is there anything else to it apart from it being Titanfall meets Destiny.

To be fair, I think everyone's being a bit harsh. Fantasy and Sci-fi together makes for an awesome setting. I don't understand why we're bashing this when both Unreal and Unreal Tournament had just such a setting. And it worked incredibly. Or how about the Shadowrun universe?

Having said that though, oh great. Diablo style loot. I'm so excited... >_>

As if this wasn't obvious.
As if this wasn't just EA trying to pull a Destiny out of their ass.

Science Fantasy, huh? So for Bioware the big takeaway from the ending of Mass Effect was "Hey, people loved this inexplicable nonsensical space magic handwaving we pulled off, lets do MORE of that!"

I didn't buy Andromeda and I probably won't buy this.

Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

Ukomba:
Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

I dimly recall we profoundly disagree on a whole bunch of topics, but yeah, Mass Effect wasn't even close to hard sci-fi. A few moments of Anthem reveals it's in a very similar soft sci-fi/sci-fantasy territory as ME.

That said, did BioWare actually try to suggest ME was anything different, or is this just wording from the OP?

Ah, the original quote/reference:

Flynn:
"Mass Effect is more our real hardcore science fiction IP. This one is much more about just having fun in a game world that is lush and exotic and really sucks you in."

Hard, soft, fantasy - I still loved Mass Effect, and I still couldn't give a stuff about Anthem (based on what we've seen and heard).

Darth Rosenberg:

Ukomba:
Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

I dimly recall we profoundly disagree on a whole bunch of topics, but yeah, Mass Effect wasn't even close to hard sci-fi. A few moments of Anthem reveals it's in a very similar soft sci-fi/sci-fantasy territory as ME.

That said, did BioWare actually try to suggest ME was anything different, or is this just wording from the OP?

Ah, the original quote/reference:

Flynn:
"Mass Effect is more our real hardcore science fiction IP. This one is much more about just having fun in a game world that is lush and exotic and really sucks you in."

Hard, soft, fantasy - I still loved Mass Effect, and I still couldn't give a stuff about Anthem (based on what we've seen and heard).

I'd consider Mass Effect harder than most on the Sci-fi scale(at least like..star wars and such), at least in terms of the One Big Lie. Everything in the Mass Effect universe works just like it does in real life (baring aliens) EXCEPT element zero, which negates mass. With every break from reality (FTL travel, biotics, flying cars etc) being made from that one exception to the universe

We haven't seen or heard much at all given that it's still pretty far away. The Bioware bashing is tiresome, judge a game based on the value when played and before that ask concrete questions regardless of brand name.

So far for me:
Pros: apparent level verticality, graphics, gameplay seen so far
Cons: Apparently RNG loot, hub based

More than that honestly I can't judge.

Well, of course it's science fantasy. They played Destiny and went "hey, how cool would it be if we had Iron Man suits in this game?" And Destiny is science fantasy, so...

It's also a little dumb to make the distinction, because Mass Effect was basically science fantasy as well. It grounded the fantastical elements in a set of defined in-universe rules - at least until the end of ME3 - but in practice, the titular mass effect was just magic by another name. The technological powers weren't much different. I remember the Infiltrator in ME2 had a tech power that was basically a fireball.

tl;dr - still looking forward to Anthem at the moment because it looks like third-person Destiny with Iron Man suits, and that's something I can get behind. More importantly, it's something I can get my friends behind, most of whom don't want to buy a console to play Destiny because it's an FPS on a console. A TPS on a console is a different story.

undeadsuitor:
I'd consider Mass Effect harder than most on the Sci-fi scale(at least like..star wars and such), at least in terms of the One Big Lie. Everything in the Mass Effect universe works just like it does in real life (baring aliens) EXCEPT element zero, which negates mass. With every break from reality (FTL travel, biotics, flying cars etc) being made from that one exception to the universe

Sound in space and applied thrust (e.g. whenever the Normandy pitches or rolls) with no point of thrust present are explained by that "one exception"? Colour me entirely unconvinced...

If something like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival or Arthur C.Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama would be close to the hard sci-fi end of the spectrum, ME's with Star Wars and Guardians Of The Galaxy at the opposite end. My profile pic's from Interstellar, and that's an interesting example as it showcases both ends of the spectrum (Kip Thorne's book on its science is a great read and a great companionpiece to the film).

Btw, I don't think labels are at all useful or overly constructive. But if someone calls Mass Effect "hard" sci-fi, then yeah, I take issue with that given what that's then ultimately intentionally comparing it to (things that ideally don't violate the most basic laws, impose sound in a vacuum, and so on).

bastardofmelbourne:

tl;dr - still looking forward to Anthem at the moment because it looks like third-person Destiny with Iron Man suits, and that's something I can get behind. More importantly, it's something I can get my friends behind, most of whom don't want to buy a console to play Destiny because it's an FPS on a console. A TPS on a console is a different story.

Lucky for your friends Destiny 2 is going to be an FPS on PC this time around.

That's what I'm going to buy. I stayed away from the first Destiny because I didn't want to play an FPS with a gamepad either. Plus, I hate the current trend of the first game in a franchise being a glorified proof of concept and the sequel being what the game the original should have been in the first place. This means after the first Destiny being apparently pretty underwhelming, I actually have faith in the sequel being pretty good. Following that logic, I doubt Anthem is going to be very good, but Anthem 2 might be. Unless it truly only comes 10 years later, in which case it would hardly matter.

DaCosta:

bastardofmelbourne:

tl;dr - still looking forward to Anthem at the moment because it looks like third-person Destiny with Iron Man suits, and that's something I can get behind. More importantly, it's something I can get my friends behind, most of whom don't want to buy a console to play Destiny because it's an FPS on a console. A TPS on a console is a different story.

Lucky for your friends Destiny 2 is going to be an FPS on PC this time around.

No, no no no. You don't understand.

1. I can't afford a computer that can run Destiny 2.
2. I already own a Playstation.

I want them to get into Anthem, because I can convince them to buy a Playstation, and then once they have the Playstation I can try and convince them to get Destiny.

On an unrelated note: weirdly, I lack confidence in Bioware's ability to deliver an engaging story with their video game, or at least one more engaging than Destiny's. Destiny had a brilliant, evocative, thought-provoking storyline, but Bungie made the rookie error of putting it on the website instead of in the game. The game itself was a series of random events; the website with the grimoire cards was a sci-fi masterpiece, where superpowered revenants fight alien gods using weaponised philosophy.

ffronw:
Anthem isn't hard sci-fi, Bioware says. It's more "science fantasy," like Star Wars.

Objection!

...Star Wars is space fantasy, not science fantasy. Something completely different. ;p

ffronw:
"there are shooting mechanics in it, it's an action game, it's a role playing game. It's got a lot of those elements to it that let you become a character and participate in this."

Just call it an ARPG you twats.

Xsjadoblayde:
Can't help but feel that's the lazy option for writing sci-fi.

Disagree. It's science fantasy, not science fiction. One shouldn't judge the standards of one genre by the standards of another.

Arnoxthe1:
To be fair, I think everyone's being a bit harsh. Fantasy and Sci-fi together makes for an awesome setting. I don't understand why we're bashing this when both Unreal and Unreal Tournament had just such a setting. And it worked incredibly. Or how about the Shadowrun universe?

I think the main reason is that it's because of the following:

-People dislike BioWare nowadays. I can't comment if that's justified (only played 3 of their games, only one of them to completion), but it seems to be a trend.

-The majority of BioWare's roster is RPGs in fantasy or sci-fi settings. Exceptions exist of course (e.g. TOR), but when you have a sci-fa ARPG, well, if you're a BioWare fan, you're shifting in fictional and mechanical genre. People tend to get uppity about these things.

-At least for me, the gameplay looks boring, and there's a sense of corporate mandate around it. Is this game created because BioWare wanted to create it, or because EA wanted a game to compete with Destiny? Speaking personally, the mechanics of Anthem look boring, the world could be interesting, but I can't go on these forums without people bashing BioWare. And heck, I'm not even that much of a fan of BioWare, but it does get tiring enough to prompt me to play devil's advocate sometimes.

Ukomba:
Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

Mass Effect is nowhere near sci-fa, it's still sci-fi. Heck, Star Wars isn't even sci-fa, it's space fantasy.

Sci-fa operates on the primarily on the principle of combining tropes of the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Mass Effect's tropes are all sci-fi, acknowledging the laws of the universe, and bending those laws at will. There's a clear road from a to b that feels plausible, along with a focus on worldbuilding. Sci-fa can also operate on the principle of a to b, but Mass Effect is free of the tropes sci-fa usually incorporates.

Darth Rosenberg:

If something like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival or Arthur C.Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama would be close to the hard sci-fi end of the spectrum, ME's with Star Wars and Guardians Of The Galaxy at the opposite end.

I'd still put Guardians and Star Wars in different areas of the spectrum. Guardians is sci-fa given its blase approach to science, but it still has linkage with the actual real world. As in, its premise operates on the idea that Earth exists, but it's all happening so far away from Earth that it barely matters. Star Wars though is full space fantasy. Fantasy can get away with generating a setting that has absolutely no relation to the real world, and Star Wars does that, unless we interpret the phrase "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" as being literal, and not a reference to fairy tales. Star Wars's tropes also have far more in common with fantasy tropes than sci-fi ones. Sure, technology is used, but it's not the focus. The technology of Star Wars is static, and more a means of getting the protagonists from point a to point b.

Darth Rosenberg:
My profile pic's from Interstellar, and that's an interesting example as it showcases both ends of the spectrum (Kip Thorne's book on its science is a great read and a great companionpiece to the film).

Um...how?

Even throwing aside how much I dislike Interstellar, everything in the film was more an exercise in hard sci-fi than anything else.

Darth Rosenberg:
Sound in space and applied thrust (e.g. whenever the Normandy pitches or rolls) with no point of thrust present are explained by that "one exception"? Colour me entirely unconvinced...

If something like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival or Arthur C.Clarke's Rendezvous With Rama would be close to the hard sci-fi end of the spectrum, ME's with Star Wars and Guardians Of The Galaxy at the opposite end. My profile pic's from Interstellar, and that's an interesting example as it showcases both ends of the spectrum (Kip Thorne's book on its science is a great read and a great companionpiece to the film).

Btw, I don't think labels are at all useful or overly constructive. But if someone calls Mass Effect "hard" sci-fi, then yeah, I take issue with that given what that's then ultimately intentionally comparing it to (things that ideally don't violate the most basic laws, impose sound in a vacuum, and so on).

The first ME payed a lot of attention to the little details. Shields didn't block all damage, but worked similar to Dune's shields - anything going too fast was stopped, but slower things like the acid shots from the bugs and melee attacks went straight through the shields. Lasers were very rare because they didn't make as much sense in the setting. Only used as defenses against the slower attack craft and missiles that were designed to go through shields slowly without activating them. Until Sovereign comes along and uses fancy lasers that oh hey, the shields don't protect against. Seemed a nice extra bit.

And yes, movement of the ship was sort of explained. They used gravity manipulation to propel the ship. It wasn't elaborated much because a impulse-less drives aren't good for hard sci-fi, but that was their intention. I think it even more as a way to get stealth ship without long plumes of hot propellant out the back.

Realistically, it's about the best one is likely to get from a big budget production. Too many people without enough training in hard science to understand where they might get things wrong and where they can bend the science and too tough deadlines to redo it afterwards tends to leave small errors. But it was still quite good. Should, I think, be celebrated more for a higher standard than most fantasy scifi we tend to see.

Now, ME2 and on it's soft as any fantasy scifi. Mass effect technology is waved around like the force is in Star Wars.

Didn't Destiny also say it was gonna be a 10 year thing?

And now Destiny 2 is coming out which will pretty much allow nothing from Destiny to carry over, thus pretty much abandoning Destiny?

So is Anthem the new Destiny?

If you say 10 years, you better commit to 10 years of support and not plop down a sequel in 3 years so you can let the first game rot on the vine as the player base migrates. Hell, spend the effort upgrading and expanding the base game you mentioned "10 years" for.

I'm not sure why this bothers me. I don't play multi-player open world games like this(or the division) so I don't have a dog in this fight, but I imagine if I was told "Hey, this game is going to get new content and support for 10 years", that's the standard I would hold them to. You know, actually hold companies accountable to what they promised.

Dalisclock:
Didn't Destiny also say it was gonna be a 10 year thing?

And now Destiny 2 is coming out which will pretty much allow nothing from Destiny to carry over, thus pretty much abandoning Destiny?

Destiny the franchise, not Destiny the game. It was stated ages ago that there'd be a Destiny 2 & 3 long before the former was officially announced.

Hawki:

ffronw:
Anthem isn't hard sci-fi, Bioware says. It's more "science fantasy," like Star Wars.

Objection!

...Star Wars is space fantasy, not science fantasy. Something completely different. ;p

"Space Fantasy" isn't a genre. Space is just a setting. Regardless, Star Wars is adequately described as Science Fantasy when both advanced technology and a vaguely supernatural force are required for the plot. Some implausible numbers doesn't change that.

If you want to define them by tropers then how do you describe works like "Nier" that are clear cut sci-fi deliberately disguising themselves as stereotypical fantasy?

Hawki:
Mass Effect is nowhere near sci-fa, it's still sci-fi. Heck, Star Wars isn't even sci-fa, it's space fantasy.

'Space fantasy' is distinct from sci-fantasy how? I swear people are just making terms up... or given I kinda hate labels/genres I've just never heard how ridiculous it's gotten over the decades, which is certainly a possibility.

Mass Effect's tropes are all sci-fi, acknowledging the laws of the universe, and bending those laws at will.

No, it breaks them at will.

There's a clear road from a to b that feels plausible...

Just a small thing (which speaks of larger issues of a work not caring one bit about reality), but: Miranda or Liara (to name just two) wearing what they do in ME2 is "plausible" on missions inside dead Reapers orbiting brown dwarfs since when? To me if the persistent everyday details feel hollow, then the entire project is undermined.

Star Wars though is full space fantasy. Fantasy can get away with generating a setting that has absolutely no relation to the real world, and Star Wars does that, unless we interpret the phrase "a long time ago in a galaxy far far away" as being literal, and not a reference to fairy tales.

The end result is the same, though: fundamental laws of the universe tossed aside, and no real care about reality given in its depiction.

Um...how?

Even throwing aside how much I dislike Interstellar, everything in the film was more an exercise in hard sci-fi than anything else.

Well, again, I suppose it depends on subjective thresholds. Is a premise being inherently ridiculous enough to make it 'less' hard sci-fi? Or are these labels really only to do with how physics and technology are depicted? To me it's about the whole package, and so Interstellar doesn't commit fully enough. If a film bothers to model sound correctly (as I believe all the majority of sci-fi should), then it should've justified the original premise far better (re why how the hell heading into a wormhole to try to populate worlds orbiting a black hole in another galaxy is an easier thing to do than 'fix Earth'), and never included such scenes as the crew doing 'spacetime 101' when they're, presumably, a few light seconds out from the wormhole itself.

I adored the film, btw, and it's by far one of my favourite sci-fi films of all time (which perhaps isn't saying much given how ho-hum the vast majority of bigscreen sci-fi is); 'Terrence Malick's 2001', pretty much sums it up.

Xeorm:
The first ME payed a lot of attention to the little details. /
Now, ME2 and on it's soft as any fantasy scifi. Mass effect technology is waved around like the force is in Star Wars.

But that's the thing; I'm addressing the franchise, and ME1's obviously severely outnumbered by ME2 to ME:A.

And yes, movement of the ship was sort of explained. They used gravity manipulation to propel the ship.

Where/when? I've not looked at ME1's Codex for years, but as far as I remember all they do is combine the space-magic of eezo's properties with a set of fixed thrusters; altering the Normandy's mass won't do a damn thing to pitch, roll, or yaw it.

From ME:A's Codex in the FTL Drive entry; "Motive force is provided by the ship's thrusters (chemical rockets, commercial fusion torch, or military antiproton drive), in addition to the FTL drive core. Without thrusters, the ship has no ability to move" - as far as I remember, the Normandy 1 and 2 do not have any other thrusters, so it could only ever move in one direction until something else acted upon it.

ME:A's Tempest is an improvement: its main thrusters very clearly gimbal/vector (starboard and port, independently), and there are prominent glimpses of upward thrust (underneath the nose) as it swoops about in various planet approach cinematics. That doesn't, of course, explain all its motion, but it at least pays greater lipservice to physics than the trilogy.

I think it even more as a way to get stealth ship without long plumes of hot propellant out the back.

Are you referring to the static charges (and how the Normandy deals with that to run silent. I think the Tempest repurposes that as an auxiliary or supplementary power source, so it's an iteration ahead)? If so, those are details I enjoy - however the series wastes the Codex stuff, as I don't recall any discharging scenes at all, for example.

Realistically, it's about the best one is likely to get from a big budget production. Too many people without enough training in hard science to understand where they might get things wrong and where they can bend the science and too tough deadlines to redo it afterwards tends to leave small errors. But it was still quite good. Should, I think, be celebrated more for a higher standard than most fantasy scifi we tend to see.

Sure, I remember loving ME1's Codex for its detail, so they at least put some real effort into it. However, when all the harder sci-fi stuff's buried in lore entries (from 1 to 4), does any of it really matter?

But yes, you're right in that ME's perhaps about what anyone should expect of mass (arf... ) market populist sci-fi. Something like Elite Dangerous is far 'harder' (what with its [mostly] spot on physics modeling - sans corrective Flight Assist, which allows for some awesome, er, stunt docking maneuvers by experienced pilots - and time consuming take on 'realtime' Alcubierre derived FTL), but far more niche, and even that still has sound in space, pew-pew lasers in a variety of colours, and a violation of Newtonian law in order to presumably balance combat.

For a triple-A narrative/character focused A/RPG set in space, I suppose Mass Effect's sci-fi is admirable, regardless of where on the scale of hard-to-soft it sits in my view.

Darth Rosenberg:
*snip*

Science fiction is roughly anything science related like space, but is a fictitious story. Space fantasy refers to a story that is in space, but distinctly fantastical in a way reminiscent of more traditional fantasy stories. Star Wars has the main character using space magic, a space sword, as he fights to take down the space emperor. If you take out the space words and it still sounds like a fantasy story, then it's space fantasy.

Here's the Mass Effect 1 codex entry for the Normandy:

The Normandy is a prototype starship, developed by the human Systems Alliance with the assistance of the Citadel Council. It is optimized for scouting and reconnaissance missions in unstable regions, using state-of-the-art stealth technology.

For most ships, the heat generated through standard operations is easily detectable against the absolute-zero background of space. The Normandy, however, is able to temporarily sink this heat within the hull. Combined with refrigeration of the exterior hull, the ship can travel undetected for hours, or drift passively for days of covert observation. This is not without risk. The stored heat must eventually be radiated, or it will build to levels capable of cooking the crew alive.

Another component of the stealth system is the Normandy's revolutionary Tantalus drive, a mass effect core twice the standard size. The Tantalus drive generates mass concentrations that the Normandy 'falls into', allowing it to move without the use of heat-emitting thrusters.

Pay attention to the last bit. Normally, any reaction drive like we use for our rockets means you release very hot propellant in order to propel yourself forward. It makes you very, very visible to anyone looking for heat signatures, and there's little you're able to do to mask it.

The fact that they are planning any game specifically for franchise is why EA is just bad.

You make one good stand alone game, then if it's actually good you go for the franchise.

Someone needs beat the EA's CEO upside the head with something imprinted with that on it, just so every time he looks at his fat head in the mirror he gets the point.

Ukomba:
Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

Not really, Mass Effect goes to a lot of lengths to explain how its technology and powers work. Everything centres around one principal idea and its all the ways that can be manipulated. That's pretty much the major trait of science fiction.

Star Wars as great as it is, is basically "here's wizards and cowboys in space" and never explains how anything works.

ffronw:
EA says that the game will be "maybe a ten-year journey for us."

Well, there's the fantasy element. It certainly won't be a "ten-year journey" for us on this side of the market.

gwilym101:

Ukomba:
Bioware... -_- ...Mass Effect is NOT hard sci-fi. You might be able to get away with calling it soft sci-fi, but in reality it's just as Science Fantasy as Star Wars is.

Not really, Mass Effect goes to a lot of lengths to explain how its technology and powers work. Everything centres around one principal idea and its all the ways that can be manipulated. That's pretty much the major trait of science fiction.

Star Wars as great as it is, is basically "here's wizards and cowboys in space" and never explains how anything works.

Midi-chlorians. There Now Star Wars has explained its' space wizards as much as Mass Effect's element zero nodules has. e_e Both ambiguous pseudoscience that just act as a reason to have magic in a technology universe. After all, just look at all the biotic abilities available in Mass Effect and try to square it with the explanation that it's just increase or decrease the mass content of space-time. Just look at things like Reave or Dominate. Dark Energy, the force, pretty much the same thing, both natural forces in their universes.

Hawki:

Objection!

...Star Wars is space fantasy, not science fantasy. Something completely different. ;p

I ain't gonna throw in Star Wars with Spelljammer any time soon. I'm hesitant to call 'space fantasy' a genre anyway, even Google redirects it to science fantasy.

Ukomba:
Midi-chlorians. There Now Star Wars has explained its' space wizards as much as Mass Effect's element zero nodules has. e_e Both ambiguous pseudoscience that just act as a reason to have magic in a technology universe. After all, just look at all the biotic abilities available in Mass Effect and try to square it with the explanation that it's just increase or decrease the mass content of space-time. Just look at things like Reave or Dominate. Dark Energy, the force, pretty much the same thing, both natural forces in their universes.

While I won't call Mass Effect 'hard sci-fi' either, I wouldn't equal it to Star Wars either. Star Wars has a much more mystical vibe and touches on classical fantasy tropes and themes way more than Mass Effect does. Mass Effect is more like a logical continuation of 50's pulp sci-fi and Star Trek, something Star Wars only takes some inspiration from.

Apothecary2:

"Space Fantasy" isn't a genre. Space is just a setting. Regardless, Star Wars is adequately described as Science Fantasy when both advanced technology and a vaguely supernatural force are required for the plot. Some implausible numbers doesn't change that.

"Space fantasy" may not be a genre, but I can't call Star Wars science fantasy either. Every sci-fa setting I can think of has at least some relationship with the real world. As in, the world as we knew it once existed, and there's a chain of events that got us to the point depicted (Destiny, Shadowrun, Dragonriders, W40K, etc.). That, or the world does exist, but the approach to worldbuilding is jointly fantasy and science (e.g. His Dark Materials). Star Wars and other settings I'd classify as space fantasy (Treasure Planet, Prisoner Zero, maybe WildStar, etc.), are removed from any such connection. The presence of advanced technology doesn't mean anything in of itself. Plenty of fantasy settings have technology more advanced than what we possess, it doesn't change their status as fantasy.

If we're using more formal terms, I'd call Star Wars "high fantasy," since it fits the trope (the setting is in of itself fantastical, as opposed to low fantasy, which is the real world with fantastical elements, ala Harry Potter). Still, I find "space fantasy" more useful a term to use, even though it might not be fair to call it a sub-genre in of itself.

Apothecary2:

If you want to define them by tropers then how do you describe works like "Nier" that are clear cut sci-fi deliberately disguising themselves as stereotypical fantasy?

Never played Nier, so can't comment.

Darth Rosenberg:
'Space fantasy' is distinct from sci-fantasy how?

See above.

Darth Rosenberg:
I swear people are just making terms up...

Yes, but every term has to be made up at some point. I didn't make up the term "space fantasy," I read it in an article years ago arguing whether Star Wars should be classified as sci-fi or fantasy.

"Planar fantasy" is another term I'm kind of partial to, even though it's got limited usefulness in sorting out the fantasy genre. It was used by the developers of the MMO Pantheon, and while you might as well call any "planar fantasy" setting "high fantasy," if the tenants of it are your thing (a plane/realm-based approach to worldbuilding, ala Age of Sigmar, Riftwar, etc.), then in of itself, it has some use in my eyes.

Darth Rosenberg:

No, it breaks them at will.

Bends, breaks, it's academic. For instance, Mass Effect has FTL travel. I'd say breaking the rules is to have FTL travel without any explanation as to how. Bending them is having FTL travel but providing an explanation for it.

Darth Rosenberg:
Just a small thing (which speaks of larger issues of a work not caring one bit about reality), but: Miranda or Liara (to name just two) wearing what they do in ME2 is "plausible" on missions inside dead Reapers orbiting brown dwarfs since when? To me if the persistent everyday details feel hollow, then the entire project is undermined.

Haven't played ME2, but my point was "a to b." Mass Effect establishes that the world as we knows it existed, and a chain of event occurs that leads us to the year 2183 and beyond. That's sci-fi worldbuilding, whereas fantasy worldbuilding can often get away with the premise of "here's a world, don't ask about Earth." Star Wars is one such example of this approach.

Darth Rosenberg:

Well, again, I suppose it depends on subjective thresholds. Is a premise being inherently ridiculous enough to make it 'less' hard sci-fi? Or are these labels really only to do with how physics and technology are depicted? To me it's about the whole package, and so Interstellar doesn't commit fully enough. If a film bothers to model sound correctly (as I believe all the majority of sci-fi should), then it should've justified the original premise far better (re why how the hell heading into a wormhole to try to populate worlds orbiting a black hole in another galaxy is an easier thing to do than 'fix Earth'), and never included such scenes as the crew doing 'spacetime 101' when they're, presumably, a few light seconds out from the wormhole itself.

Interstellar I'd classify as "hard" sci-fi. In that, soft sci-fi and hard sci-fi tend to favor different approaches:

Soft: "I'll tell a story, and use science to support/allow for it."

Hard: "I'll show my knowledge/ideas about science, and use a story to convey them."

Interstellar's approach is very much in the latter category. IMO, it falters on both these counts, but Interstellar tries to be accurate. Tries to the exclusion of almost any other consideration.

Hawki:
Bends, breaks, it's academic.

I think the distinction matters (well, no, none of this really matters, but re the contexts of this discussion).

Interstellar, for example, mostly pushes its ideas and scenarios to the single percent degree, i.e. Kip Thorne and co tried to appease Nolan's story by pushing everything to the very edge, be it how viable the film's blight crops could be to the exact math of the black hole's spin rate, etc. If it's statistically possible at all, then they rolled with it.

...then again even this is subjective, I suppose. For one step in the 'believable' chain of events they needed a gravitational break. Kip's math dictated they needed another smaller black hole, but Nolan didn't want to introduce another given Gargantua's such a focus for the whole film - he, quite understandably, felt it would've complicated things too much. So a neutron star was included instead. Cold science would've determined the ship would've been torn to pieces by such a tiny body's tidal forces versus the 'gentler' effect of a smaller [than Gargantua] black hole.

Is that a bend, or a break? Technically it is the latter, if the science of science-fiction has to count for something. One could argue they're still respecting - at this point - Newtonian rules (by acknowledging that a gravitational break was needed), so for some that could be an element of hard sci-fi, for others a bend, and for the real sticklers a break.

(btw, I read Kip's book several months after a viewing of the film, and for the life of me I can't even remember if the script mentions the above chain of events. if it does, it's only in a single sentence in passing. I'm intending to re-read it then rewatch the film sometime soon)

For instance, Mass Effect has FTL travel. I'd say breaking the rules is to have FTL travel without any explanation as to how. Bending them is having FTL travel but providing an explanation for it.

Eh, like I said previously, to me this isn't really bending - it's just cheating. It's a hand wave. So much of Mass Effect's 'science' is utter bullshit because much of it revolves around a fantasy element which the writers have behave in exactly however way they wish. For all intents and purposes something like that cordons off a fundamental component of its entire science-fiction, thus making critique and analysis nigh on impossible... It's a 'nope! not going there!' finger-snap from the writers; if the core ideas can't be analysed, then none of its adjacent uses and consequences can be deconstructed to any satisfying degree.

This is compounded by the - what I'd describe as - very mushy, soft sci-fi or sci-fantasy depictions of ship movements, as well as potentially much of the script itself. Kallo in ME:A mentions 'descent engines' engaging. What are they? Is that just lazy writing from people who've no interest or understanding in science and speculative ship design, or is that an actual component of ship operation that the Codex doesn't bother to outline? Is 'descent engines' supposed to somehow represent a mode of using ME fields from the core during landing? Or does it refer to the - peculiarly lonely - vertical thrusts, and if so, why don't all ships in the ME 'verse have them as well as the other points of thrust which should be there?

I'd argue the series is pretty bad at depicting its own rules or non-rules, and all of this complicates classification/analysis (don't dare mention Newtonian law, for example, then have none of the depicted events conform to those).

Apropos FTL in a game like this: it might piss some people off, and it'd certainly require a significant overhaul of the entire gameflow and structure, but given ME's FTL is not magi-teleportation, having a set amount of time for some quests and tasks would be very interesting, and would enrich the science of its fairly pulpy science-fiction, e.g. every, er, time you jump systems or travel between bodies within a system a timer/counter reduces by an amount appropriate to the distance.

On the lore side of things that's just what would happen, but the game does not reflect that. You could have a generous timer for tasks, sure, and not all would be bound to them. In the trilogy (2 and/or 3?) you had the fuel resource, but ME:A has nothing of the sort. Ideally I'd like a fuel resource as well, but having time be another resource would be a great idea, and could obviously add layers to the narrative RPG side, e.g. a task initiated on a certain world could lead to multiple courses of action, with the consequence being you quite literally wouldn't have the time to accomplish all of them given ME's FTL still isn't fast enough.

Having the characters actually acknowledge those ideas would greatly strengthen its sci-fi credentials (because, again, what does any detail matter if it's just buried in Codex entries. ME's Codex is reasonably hard, but the game and its cinematics sure as hell ain't).

Haven't played ME2, but my point was "a to b." Mass Effect establishes that the world as we knows it existed, and a chain of event occurs that leads us to the year 2183 and beyond. That's sci-fi worldbuilding, whereas fantasy worldbuilding can often get away with the premise of "here's a world, don't ask about Earth." Star Wars is one such example of this approach.

Again, I'd say 'eh' to that. At the end of the day the depiction of life in space is still as fantastical. Firefly's 'verse has that A-to-B, but its depiction is frequently ridiculous (by way of being dramatically fantastical, e.g. guns 'needing' oxygen or atmospheric pressure to fire, or ships presumably at FTL coasting past each other within a few hundred meters).

Re worldbuilding: isn't what a character wears in a given environment just that? The tiny moments that make up the whole? Should any property putting on a sci-fi hat dare to flat out ignore the entire environment with regards to equipment? I suppose ME's own take on space-magic - mass effect fields and biotics - could be trotted out (again) to explain it, but that still breaks down when you consider that a KO'd biotic cannot maintain fields, ergo they'd have to rely on suits protecting them from potentially extreme environments.

Not catsuits and what you wear around a ship or market square... Some might call that dramatic license, sure, but I call it a pretty fundamental failure of an IP's science credentials.

Interstellar I'd classify as "hard" sci-fi. In that, soft sci-fi and hard sci-fi tend to favor different approaches:

Soft: "I'll tell a story, and use science to support/allow for it."

Hard: "I'll show my knowledge/ideas about science, and use a story to convey them."

Interstellar's approach is very much in the latter category.

Well, we'll have to respectfully agree to disagree on that methodology.

IMO, it falters on both these counts... / Tries to the exclusion of almost any other consideration.

...and that, obviously. ;-) Interstellar has a handful of moments of Nolan's quite patronising literalism, but overall I bought the entire premise and tone, and loved the sense of awe that it embraced and celebrated. I can't think of any other film that depicts space travel and certain astronomical phenomena as well (or as spectacularly) as Interstellar. Nolan's typically a rather emotionless, overtly cerebral director, but Interstellar was incredibly emotionally grounded as well.

Xeorm:
Pay attention to the last bit. Normally, any reaction drive like we use for our rockets means you release very hot propellant in order to propel yourself forward. It makes you very, very visible to anyone looking for heat signatures, and there's little you're able to do to mask it.

That entry surely still doesn't explain the range of motion of the Normandy (unless you're suggesting it uses that to bank and pitch in and out of vacuum) or any other ship in ME - given the Tantalus is a prototype.

As I said somewhere in the above reply; the series is incredibly unclear about its modes of flight. In Elite there are no atmospheres to deal with (yet), but conventional thrust functions as it should (main engines plus those necessary for maneuvers), and those are affected by variations in gravity (no MEF's in Elite's 'verse, obviously!). Then there's the Alcubierre flavoured FSD/frame shift drive, for sub-light speeds to several thousand times c. The FSD also allows it to jump between systems, which is - as far as my grasp of Elite lore can tell - essentially a process of higher/inter-dimensional travel.

Compared to that I still don't know how [all] ships move in Mass Effect, and when and where (and why) certain drives are engaged (ME:A's 'descent engines' are another wrinkle. not sure if the trilogy ever included such terminology). Sure, Elite's a simulation and it needs that clarity for its very gameplay, but surely all sci-fi should get the very fundamentals of such technology and drive systems clear.

You think a simple re-branding will stop people from tearing apart the scientific inaccuracies? And yeah, Mass Effect: Destiny is not going to last 10 years. I doubt it'll last past 1.

Prediction: People will complain about the lack of a strong single player storyline.

 

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