@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).