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Gamasutra - Creating Sci-Fi Settings

by Couchpotato, 2013-12-20 21:48:46

Gamasutra has a new blog post were eight game developers from various studios talk about the challenges of creating science fiction settings.

The Question

In my years writing and designing on Age of Conan, The Secret World, or even Fashion Week Live, the setting had been pre-determined, and that helped more than I'd realised. Embellishing or adding detail to existing lore is fun, satisfying, and significantly easier than working from a blank page. On the other hand, settings I'd created for hobby or mod projects, or even short fiction games I'd written tended to be minimalist or unconcerned with audience appeal -- no attempt at commercial appeal or forging "a new IP", as the businessfolk say. 

But this was different. I want Shattered Planet to be a well-regarded game... at least, I want it to be worthy of the fan-created tvtropes.org page. And we're building from scratch.

I had begun narrative and feature-design on hard mode. I grappled and struggled.

It took a few days for me to remember that I probably wasn't the first person on the planet to encounter these problems. Google didn’t immediately give me any answers, but this was a fairly specific and open-ended question.

So I reached out and asked various mentors and peers and even a few strangers. I wanted to have these difficulties accurately identified. I wanted to name my mental adversaries.

I asked (pleaded, really):

What are the unique challenges of creating a game based in science fiction?

And, fortune of fortunes, talented folks responded.

The answers I received were so varied and interesting that I felt I had to share them, in case someone else would benefit as I did. At the end I'll summarise what I learned for Shattered Planet, but I suspect you'll glean different gems for your own projects.

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