Spectrum Dispatch

Lore

ID:

13004

Comments:

101

Date:

May 23rd 2013

Writer's Guide: Part Eight

Writer's Guide: Part Eight

Hey there, Citizens and Civs. Welcome to another installment of the Star Citizen Writer’s Guide. Here are links to the previous installments and if you are new to this segment, please consult the caveats at the beginning of Issue #1.

Issue 1 – UEE Structure

Issue 2 – Timeline & Citizens/Civilians

Issue 3 – Local Government & Media

Issue 4 – Corps

Issue 5 – Criminals

Issue 6 – Alien Civs (Banu & Xi’An)

Issue 7 – Alien Civs (Vanduul & Tevarin)

ERRATA

Wildfire and Kyuu brought up a good question in last week’s comments about the Vanduul social system, specifically what happens after a Vanduul youth is ostracized from their family:

The Vanduul confuse me. They are booted out of the nest in their early teens to make their way on their own. What then draws them back into a clan structure?

We just wanted to clarify in case the rest of you missed it with the response:

The idea was originally a variation on the notion in Plato’s Republic that children should be taken from their parents at birth and mixed into the populace in the hopes of creating a more unified society, since you would never know if the person you are interacting with is your brother or sister or father.

The Vanduul youth, now on their own, would have to find their way within the Clan structure and excel or fail based on their own merits, not where they come from. So it’s still under the canopy of a Clan-centric/unified society but each member is judged on individual merit, not from family heritage or influence.

Moving on to this week’s topic. It’s been consistently asked for in the comments and it’s a big one …


 

TECHNOLOGY


 

All right, we’re going to caveat the hell out of this one. This will not be a complete breakdown of in-game mechanics or technology. We’re going to take a stab at fleshing out and explaining some of the tech that’s been used in the stories, as well as attempting to address some of the ones you have been asking about in your comments. So please remember, this will be a fiction-based breakdown of Star Citizen technology. First we’re going to list some categories (including some from your comments) and explain the presence or non-presence of the technology.


Computers/AI


There are everything from the consoles that you will see lining the command center of the Bengal carrier the small touch-screen monitors in the cockpit of your ship. These primarily have standard touch-screen interfaces with virtual keyboards (not mechanical).

Wallscreens

The wallscreen is exactly what it sounds like: a thin, flexible sheet that can be custom-fitted to any size wall and acts as a combination of television and computer. Most are touchscreens, but the higher-end models can track users’ hand-commands from anywhere in the room, either through dynamic motion-mapping software or by infrared remote.

MobiGlas

One of two types of mobile computing (made by Microtech) have become the standard of daily life. This smaller, handheld device unifies your messaging, Spectrum updates, banking transactions, personal communications, etc. It’s the futuristic equivalent of the SmartPhone. Everyone’s got one of these things; you will be lost without it, in fact, the UEE almost requires you by law to have one. You won’t go to jail for not having one, but the UEE quickly realized that these tools could be incredibly helpful for census taking and general sociological/anthropological studies.

We’re in the process of designing how the MobiGlas actually looks. Is it strictly handheld (like a smartphone) or are there carriers/housing for it (like a wrist/forearm mount)? For the time being, assume that it’s like a very thin rectangular sheet of Plexiglas.

Glas

The larger of the two models (think of it as the iPad to the MobiGlas’ iPhone). Offers more surface area to work with and a more robust computing power but otherwise offers similar features as the MobiGlas.

AI/Flight Computers

As we’ve hinted at in a pair of Dispatches (here and here), there aren’t really AI in Star Citizen that will fly your ship  (Janus is an exception). While you can set your computer to rudimentary auto-pilot and to handle other basic functions, flight computers are there to assist the pilot, not take control themselves. Realistically, space flight in the 30th century would probably be handled by computers or AI that are capable of making calculations and flying at a level vastly superior to human control and space combat would probably happen with drones and between two ships on opposite sides of a system. We’re making a stylistic decision to forgo that for the rush of close ship-to-ship dogfighting.

Genetic Engineering/Eugenics

This hasn’t been extensively discussed yet, since it falls primarily in the fiction and doesn’t directly apply to the game yet (maybe there will be some kind of resource to be utilized from this, don’t know).  We’ve been running with the notion that there has been significant advances in genetic engineering, mostly used to minimize any kind of genetic predispositions that could be harmful or fatal.

There is probably a money-based sliding scale on this: i.e., a poor family in the slums of Prime might have access to only the most rudimentary gene-coding for their children, while the more affluent could probably pick and choose genetic attributes/traits of their unborn children.

Eugenics (selective breeding) occurs, but that term itself still carries a bit of a stigma to it. The UEE doesn’t support eugenics policies even though it does support a variety of genetic engineering programs and grants. When confronted about this apparent hypocrisy, watch the wizardry of spin to slip out of it.

Cloning

The biotech industry has developed cloning to the point where it primarily functions as a way to regrow damaged organs for immediate transplant. Technically, the technology exists to clone an entire person, but it’s a tremendously expensive and vastly impractical endeavor. There are two main reasons for this. First, while the physical can be replicated, memories and experiences aren’t part of the process. So if a thirty-year-old man wants to clone himself, the clone is basically a newborn child in the body of a thirty-year-old.

Second, scientists discovered that cloned bodies become susceptible to new and devastating diseases that otherwise leave Humans unaffected.

So the whole-body process technically exists but nobody uses it.

Consciousness Transfer/Robots

Robots in Star Citizen are more utilitarian than anything. There are droids that will help repair your ship. Sweeper droids will spray wash the streets of cities and collect the trash. There aren’t tremendously lifelike robots, however. Perhaps it’s due to Humanity’s poor history with AI or the Uncanny Valley, but we want there to be a visible divide between Humans and robots.

Robots are tools, not people. Therefore, there isn’t really a big public desire to transfer a consciousness into a robot shell. Is it possible? With all of the advances in processing speed and size, computers can store vast amounts of data and make trillions of decisions per second. With that being said, Humanity still has been unable to unravel the brain enough to replicate the emotional decision-making processes that make us Human.

Cybernetics

Without the cultural push for lifelike robots, all that design and brainpower has gone into cybernetics and incorporating technology to the human anatomy. Like most things in life, this is also on that sliding scale of cost/quality. If you want a replacement arm that works well (doesn’t explode) and looks lifelike, you will have to pay for it.

Are there other cybernetic augmentations/upgrades that could be purchased outside of necessity, i.e., you want cybernetic eyes because it offers advanced targeting or something? Or auto-injectors to boost your reflexes? For the fiction I would say sure, it’s a natural extension of cybernetic replacement.

Jump Point & FTL Travel

We are sticking to jump points as the only real method of covering massive distances. The other races have their own versions of the technology, but they’re all basically similar conduits of transportation. There is internal discussion about how far past the reaches of the systems you could travel but, based on the requirements of the game, you won’t be able to slow-burn from Earth to Croshaw. Could you have a character in your fiction try? Of course, but after the Artemis, would it be wise?

3D Printing/Replicators

When approaching the technology of Star Citizen, we wanted the universe to be filled with things. That’s a weird statement, sure, but in order to have a dynamic economy with supply/demand needs and resources to be mined/transported, we couldn’t have a universal box that could generate anything and everything. The classic example is the replicator from Star Trek (definition via Wiki: A replicator can create any inanimate matter, as long as the desired molecular structure is on file, but it cannot create antimatter, dilithium, latinum, or a living organism of any kind).

It’s probably not realistic to ignore the inclusion of a replicator-type technology in the future, especially considering the massive applications 3D printing is already capable of offering — it’s a stylistic and economic decision not to include it. As stated earlier, there’s a dynamic economy to feed and it will be hungry. If the classic replicator existed, factories wouldn’t need resources flown in; they would go to their industrial-sized Tech-In-A-Box and punch in whatever they needed.

 

ILLEGAL TECHNOLOGY

Is there any tech that’s off-limits? Do less-scrupulous Corps still manufacture or research these things? This hasn’t really been specifically explored, so feel free to come up with any kind of shady tech dealings you like. There is probably a difference between restricted and illegal technologies.

Restricted technologies apply to companies that must have government approval to manufacture their product (WMDs, military grade carriers, bioweapons, etc.). While it’s not entirely restricted, the UEE closely monitors terraforming (not the development angle but the implementation).

In an effort to at least get the ball rolling, I would say that experimenting on sentient creatures is probably illegal. While certain Banu planets might take a more morally nebulous stance on it and allow Corps to set up labs (as I believe one of you suggested), inside the UEE it is publicly and legally frowned upon.

So, hypothetically speaking, could a UEE-based Corp set up a lab in an alien system and perform all sorts of illegal acts? Sure but a UEE Corp is still bound to UEE law regardless of where their satellite facilities operate. If word ever got out, they could be prosecuted as if they were experimenting on children in Croshaw.

Here’s a rough starting list of tech that’s probably pretty illegal in most governments’ eyes:

Gene warfare
Anything that could easily be used for genocide
Genetic Augmentation (Vat-grown Supersoldiers)
Balloon Animal Engines
Synthesizing black holes

 

WRITING TECH


Again, this is an area that’s under constant development, so we’re still trying to figure a bunch of this stuff as well. Hopefully this will help you understand the general approach we’re taking when addressing questions regarding technology. Use your judgment and make educated guesses based on what we’ve presented here and what you need for your story, but in general, don’t let the tech overshadow story or character.

 

That’s it for this week. Please post comments or questions below and keep writing. 


Until next time …

End Transmission

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