Science Fiction in Strategic Primer

Last month I wrote about “applied metaphysics” and other “fantastical” possibilities in Strategic Primer. Today I’d like to talk about the game’s relationship to the other side of the speculative genre.

In a sense, Strategic Primer is “science fiction” to the core—it’s much the same sort of thing as the 1632 series, the Belisarius series, Lest Darkness Fall, and other stories that posit changes in scientific history due to the intervention of outside knowledge.

But science fiction also provides a fertile source of ideas. As you can see in the earlier post about “applied metaphysics” and “the fantastical,” and my post a couple of year’s ago about the game’s distinctive feature of “limitless possibilities for discovery”, the game isn’t limited by what’s actually possible in our world.

By “limitless possibilities” I don’t mean that anything is possible; that would lead merely to a “broken” game that wouldn’t be much fun. So I can’t include any science-fictional idea that I happen upon. But neither do I want to limit too much, since (as I said) I want the game to be open-ended and give the players broad and grand scope.

So I came up with this guideline: I’m generally willing to accept science-fiction technologies when I see them as part of a cohesive, substantially developed, balanced system or world. In other words, I’ll usually accept something which has had its implications worked out in the source material. The more thought and detail, the better—I especially want to see the costs, drawbacks, and limitations of a new technology, not just the benefits.

Now, as with the “fantastical” side of things, these aren’t directions that can be developed immediately; they’re veins that may (will) eventually open up, just like possibilities that are “science fact” but too far beyond the player’s present capabilities. But just like the “science fact” advances that have been standard fare so far, this provides an incentive—or, if you’re like me, an excuse—to “research.”

When the game eventually gets formally released—my current thought is as a tool to use in education, as well as a computer/video game—I’ll have to go through and carefully audit everything to remove anything that’s too obviously drawn from someone else’s work without explicit permission, to avoid even apparent infringement when I start seeking revenue even though I’m fairly sure I’d be within the law in any case. But until then, while it’s just a collaboration between friends, we’ll draw from any well of ideas that can make the game more interesting.

Any comments or questions?


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