Worlds

I have spent the past few days writing desc's for spobs, and the thought has come into my head that I am summing up entire worlds in just a few lines. How terrible is that? Many of my spobs have multiple landing sites, and that gives the ability to have some intra-planet differences, but for the most part, my planets feel alarmingly homogenous, both in terms of culture and economic activity. How can an entire planet be a "hotbed of R+D" or "industrial powerhouse?"

Any ideas about the implications or assumptions behind lumping an entire world into the phrase "mostly harmless" or perhaps something a bit longer? How do other designers get around the fact that whole volumes could be written about a single planet (Earth, for example) but in EV, its only a paragraph to a planet. How do you maintain the suspension of disbelief in a 5-sentence descriptor of 6 billion people?

Keep your worlds lightly-populated. Earth has 6 billion people in part because finding new places to put people is a lot more expensive than finding new ways to cram more people into smaller spaces. If terraforming is viable and there's a ready supply of potential planets, the average population density will plummet.

My perspective on this is that the planet desc is the information that your average space pilot needs to know, that he cares about. Of course, every planet (which isn't a tiny mining or research outpost) presumably has vast internal cultural and economic variation. But the pilot doesn't care - he only wants the information that is relevant to him, that affects broader interstellar affairs and his personal prospects: and that's what you need to supply.

(Naturally, there are some pilots who will want to know more - for them you can provide, if you care to, further background documents outside the framework of the game itself. Whether you do or not, you will always end up with more information in your head than appears in any form on the screen.)

Don't forget, we do the same thing routinely on our own world today with real , vast countries. I don't know where you're from, but I don't doubt that you can come up with a broad, short generalisation about the country next door to you (and it's people). Possibly it will have an element of accuracy. (Likely it will be cruel.) But it won't apply to every person, every region, every city of that country. So, when you ask, 'How do I do this?', bear in mind that you probably already do it every day (be it about Canada, Wales, France, Japan) without even thinking about it.

This post has been edited by pac : 01 May 2007 - 04:44 PM

When writing planet descriptions myself, I try to steer clear of explaining the entire planet, and either mention the planet EXTREMELY generally like "the capital of whatn'such" or "a world of medium population", or focus on the spaceport itself. After that, I like to stick in some odd detail about the planet, or sneak some detail about the universe in, like a historical event, that I wouldn't really fit anywhere else. I would definitely recommend not trying to explain economics or climate except in special situations: e.g. a very rocky, sparsely habitable planet filled with mining platforms. Otherwise assume that most planets are pretty similar to Earth and ignore that detail. Mentioning gravitational things is cool too, although I don't use it. Don't know why I don't use it, it just doesn't seem to fit.

When in doubt, take a break and work on something else to restore your creativity. Sometimes just a small break where you're actively thinking or working on something, not just resting, is enough to work as a creativity catalyst.

When you advance to bar descs, either 1.) describe the bar tender as a grandfatherly war veteran that would gladly spin his tails on the slightest provocation, 2.) an overworked man with beer stains on his apron, or 3.) an unremarkable bar like dozens of others in the galaxy, the only distinguishing feature being the logo on the napkin.

Well, one way to achieve multiple landing ports on one planet is to create a huge graphic of a planet and set it so that no one can land on it. Then create mutliple invisble spobs within the graphic of the planet. This would create multiple landing sights on one planet. It would be tedious work, but the effect would be awesome. 🙂

@werhner, on May 1 2007, 07:12 PM, said in Worlds:

I have spent the past few days writing desc's for spobs, and the thought has come into my head that I am summing up entire worlds in just a few lines. How terrible is that? Many of my spobs have multiple landing sites, and that gives the ability to have some intra-planet differences, but for the most part, my planets feel alarmingly homogenous, both in terms of culture and economic activity. How can an entire planet be a "hotbed of R+D" or "industrial powerhouse?"

Any ideas about the implications or assumptions behind lumping an entire world into the phrase "mostly harmless" or perhaps something a bit longer? How do other designers get around the fact that whole volumes could be written about a single planet (Earth, for example) but in EV, its only a paragraph to a planet. How do you maintain the suspension of disbelief in a 5-sentence descriptor of 6 billion people?

**I think for the most part, designers tend to focus on the modern elements of a planet's social and economic make up when writing planetary descriptions, mainly because 1. it'd be nearly impossible to write up the history of an entire planet (I imagine the classic beginning of Civilization: The Earth was without form, and void...) and 2. 99.9% of the information would be utterly useless and irrelevant.

Very little of the Earth's history would actually be in any way useful to know in terms of broader, inter-stellar travel, since the vast majority of it has no information that either someone from another planet would either need, or not already poesess as a natural born citizen of Earth.

I think we could probably break it down to the most essential necessary parts. I've put together this list based mostly on my opinions and i'm sure it'd vary from person to person.

1. Basic planetary information: Very simply, is it green or not green. If green, what does it do. If not green, why are people living there, what is the purpose of the colony.

2. Government affiliation. This one is obvious from the government label on the system, but not necessarily on the planet. Just because a planet, i.e Huron, is in the United Earth government, doesn't mean that it is willingly so, or nor does it plan to be as such for much longer.

3. Economic/Cultural info: Any critical a pilot might need to know, such as a good shipyard, poor commodities, etc. This isn't necessary since all of those elements can be discovered by browsing around, but it might be useful to have it here as a quick summary of the world.

4. Something interesting/unique: To make the planet stand out, (or, not) in the mind of a player. This can be useful later on in the plot, if the player needs to stop an enemy strike on a military depot, where the local population is disgruntled and willing to aid them, etc. This doesn't need to be the length of a preamble, just a sentence or two; "The first world discovered after the passing of the Deep Space Exploration Act, a ferocious battle was fought for twelve years between various mining guilds attempting to hoard the rare ores and minerals buried deep beneath the surface."

There are probably more essential things you could include, but simplicity is ultimately best because chances are a player won't read the description more than a few times throughout the course of the game, so the shorter and more succinct, the better chance it has of leaving any sort of impression on the player, (and more hypothetically, on a visiting pilot).

_bomb

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