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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:01 pm 
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I searched the forums for any discussion about this topic and couldn't find any, so I'll bring it up. It's something I think could add to the immersiveness to the game if done properly.

To begin, here's what it was like in moo2 / 1 / 3 / any other space game I've played...


e - "Sir, we've detected some sort of, well, there's a vessel out there, and it's not one of ours!"
c -"What do you mean?"
e -"It's not of human design, I mean, it doesn't look to be Mark 1 class"
c - "Can you magnify?"
e -"Yes sir. Magnifying"

c - "My lord, it's like nothing we've ever seen. Look at those, what are those, engines?"
e - "Sir, we're getting a communication channel from them. I'm patching it through!"
c - "Patching it through, what do you mean? Can they speak our..... "
t - "GREETINGS, WE ARE THE TRILARIANS!! Although we live under water our entire evolutionary course, we JUST SO HAPPEN to speak EXACTLY THE SAME LANGUAGE!!"
c - "What the heck?!?"
t - "YES! Let us set up a trade discussion at ONCE!"
c - "You speak english?"
t - "Enough, time to discuss TRADE PROPOSALS!"
c - "But this is a huge shock! I mean, er.. Well Greetings from planet earth, we ar."
t - "Yeah yeah whatever. So here's our trade proposal! Great! Thanks, well, see you later!"

e - "I'm picking up another ship, completely different design. It's completely rock-based in nature"
c - "On screen"
S - "AH! HUMANS! WE ARE THE SILLICOID! You have been in our terrirtory, so we DEMAND you give us 5% of your material wealth each year!"
c - "Uh, greetings from the planet earth! We ar"
S - "OH shut UP! Give us money now or we will destroy your home system"
c - "dang"

= = = =

Ok, farce aside, I found it interesting in the previous MOO's how the first time you meet an alien species, you can understand EXACTLY how they speak their language and know all about their dialect, social mores, and communication behavious. Something that, well, we STILL have trouble grasping here today.

And wouldn't meeting an alien species have an impact on culture? What about 2 or 3? Now for the first time, Humans (or Klackons or whatnot) are not alone in the universe. How would this affect their people? Would it give people a common sense of purpose?

= = = =

I figured, if it's the first time you meet an alien species, there could be a period of "communication learning" depending on how your first encounter went. If a human and a humanoid-like species (similar) both met, the encounter was peaceful and linguists were exchanged, you'd probably be able to learn about their culture, mores, values and what not to be able to discuss such things as alliances, trade agreements, etc... full trade and communications could begin to take place in 4 turns. Also, your people enter a golden age, a new type of revelation and philosophical discussion as different cultures, views on politics, economies, religions are suddenly made aware.

If say a human met a really different species, like a hive-minded one, and the encounter was not peaceful (some ensign got a little trigger happy), it could take a long time before you can actually start to communicate with them, since both parties don't have the help of a universal translator linguist to aid them. So for about 20 turns, you can't speak or negociate with this new alien foe. They become something like the Shivans of Freespace. Your population becomes really frightened (because they now face the threat of utter annihalation) but you get a tremendous boon to loyalty and production. (Nothing binds people more than when they face a common enemy / task).

= = = =

Of course, a race that may be telepathic (as a race bonus) would immediately be able to establish the type of contact they so wished.

I just find it weird how at the beginning of the game meeting a new race, it was like "oh, well they're insect like, but that's okay, they speak the king's engish, so all is good!"

Perhaps a tech "the universal translator" discovered later on would eliminate this gap.

Ideas? Thoughts? Again, it would be to increase the immersiveness.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 4:53 pm 
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Good idea. Hmmm. I think I should say something more. Here go my thoughs on related subject :)

Race type could be determined during race creation (do we have any list of races types yet?*).
Meeting each new race should make available the study of several xeno dyscyplines:
- xenolignustics, which would be requiste to allowing in game communication (here is a question how we deal with multiplayer and email exchange?)
- xenoculture/xenosociolgy, which would give bonuses in diplomacy, espionage and trade, allowed multispecies colonies/empires, etc.
- xenobiology, which would allow construction of bioweapons, but also should open (or at least boost) other areas - for example, discovering a (sentient or not) alien life, their dna structure (not mentioning the things like living crystal or energy forms) would surely be very valuable to science, resulting in discoveries in medicine, biotech, construction.

Even the mentioned xenosociology could lead to other forms of social order. Dont forget about things like religion (one of my favourites sf stories deals with the question of aliens can be converted to Christanity...dont want to start OT thread here though). Perhaps something like the cultural influence of Civ3 could be developed along those lines?

*note about racial types
During race creation, the following choices could be made, each determining some race parameters (economic efficiency, habitable planet types, population growth, whatever) AND contributing to race type that would later determine the difficulty of communication with others.

Level structure.
Level one: physical structure: mattery/energy (ideas - races that inhabit stars, open space, hyperspace...)
Level two-alfa: mattery, creation origin: biological (evolved)/artificial (AI)
Level two-beta: organism structure/evolution history: size, x-side symmetry, subterrean, low g, heavy g, radioactive/temperature levels, ocean based, winged, mammals, insectioids, etc.
Level three: for biological: periodic element structure: carbon based, silicoid based/etc.
Level four: psychological strutcture (this might be tied to goverment strutcure thingy) - communal mind, telephatic, individualistic, immortal
Note that level four may be merged with level two-beta, I am not sure if this division is crystal clear

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 05, 2004 9:01 pm 
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Well if we go with one phase diplomacy (where you give your diplomats instructions about what relations to seek, and they go off and do that)

Then the effect could be very easy, a decrease in your mutual ability to reach agreements with each other, until some basic relations were established (essentially generic penalties reflecting linquistic, cultural,physiological barriers to effective communication.. that you work out) The conditions of how you interact initially would affect how hard it would be to overcome those penalties.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:32 pm 
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Warning: Old (but Good) Thread Resurrection

guiguibaah brought up a good point. First Contact is one of the major subjects of science fiction, because it's so interesting and potentially significant. And for FO i think it could be not only fun and interesting, but strategically significant. First Contact could be a very significant diplomatic moment.

Here's a rough framework of how it could work without overwhelming the core game:

When you meet the ships/colonies of a new species, all you know is their team color, and a working name such as, "Unknown Alien #01" (the first of your first contacts).
You'll have a few options such as:
    Ignore
    Attack (initiates battle unless the other self-destructs)
    Attempt to Communicate
    Self-Destruct (colonies probably can't do this)

So basically there are two ways of learning to communicate. You cooperate (perhaps exchanging ansibles) and try to learn each other's language, or you try to capture the other's ship/planet, and learn their language without revealing yours. Either way an item is added to your tech queue/tree, and with the proper research you can talk to them. Perhaps as suggested there could be multiple "techs" which would allow increasingly complex diplomacy and treaties.

But why might a player want to avoid communication? Because if your language/culture is unknown then espionage is at a serious disadvantage against you. A real species of Darlock Spy-masters would remain unknown for as long as possible, while gathering as much info on others as possible.

The Self-Destruct option is for those who think their fleet is outmatched and are unwilling to risk allowing the enemy to find out anything about them. Some thinkers believe that is the only reasonable choice if you meet another species out in space and can't destroy them.

Of course the opening choices should have a large effect on future relations, and i like the idea that a sort of "golden age" event would occur with a peaceful first contact, or a fear-driven surge of loyalty for a bloody first contact.

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Last edited by eleazar on Sun Mar 02, 2008 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:51 pm 
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Well,

- Sword of the Stars has it so that you have to research translation for each individual race (there are 5 with the expansion). The newest patch will give the player a salvage-tech-research bonus if they've researched the language for the race they salvaged the tech from.

- GalCiv - has the universal translator research. Simpler option.

Personally I'm more inclined by the former, SOTS like thing. I'm averse to anything more complex myself.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 8:16 pm 
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I'd go with a translator tech, a psi-like race ability and a random planet bonus of "Babelfish"*

    The racial ability is straightforward: you understand all other races automatically, get a bonus to counterinteligence, and it gives you a negative bonus to how other races percieve you (on the basis that they feel uncomfortable next to someone who can read their mind)

    The Babelfish when discovered on a planet would work like a special kind of building or even better, would give you a universal translator kind of tech**

    As for the translator tech itself... I believe that while making a separate translator for each race would be more plausable it would also make things overly complicated. Thus I opt for a universal translator tech that solves everything.
    However, if we are determined to make things more realistic then I'll back Prokonsul Piotrus up with the 'xeno' "technologies"

* that is, unless FO will recieve a cease and desist from the current owner of "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
**it also automatically disproves God's existance...

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 12:49 am 
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MareviQ wrote:
As for the translator tech itself... I believe that while making a separate translator for each race would be more plausable it would also make things overly complicated. Thus I opt for a universal translator tech that solves everything.
However, if we are determined to make things more realistic then I'll back Prokonsul Piotrus up with the 'xeno' "technologies"

I don't think "realism" in the main impetus here, but an idea that some of us find interesting, that also arguably add strategic value to the game.

Like any other tech, you should have the ability to trade/steal Xeno-language techs so it shouldn't be too much a burden on the player.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:32 am 
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I are newb from Foreign, no obliteratings of suggestionses of mine, pleases.

*ahem*

I've been thinking about how to write a first contact situation for some time. The movie Contact had an interesting concept where Earth was given a travel/communication device through a signal first broadcasting prime numbers (for distinguishing it from background noise and showing it's of intelligent origin), then sending a blueprint for that device hidden in an old TV signal. Spielberg's mini-series Taken used Fibonacci numbers.

Math is one of few means of communication that is more or less universal, so maybe we should expect first contact to be through math. Travel delay, comprehension, etc would make the recipant unable to comprehend the signal until some research is made. It's an argument from realism, but a sound one.

Consider the following: Humans have colonized half a handful of worlds and send signals forth and back. Everything is compressed and encrypted so there's no potential aliens that can understand whatever tactical data is sent - it's just noise to them. The aliens do the very same thing, nobody understands anybody's signals. Then the Human civilization receives a signal itnended for them to understand. They study the signal, which likely would contain either analog TV signals (the alien kind of TV signals) or instructions on building a communication device that allowws for signals to travel at the required speed and be picked up by the aliens who sent the instructions. The Humans naturally build the dang device once they've figured out the signal, and respond. Voila, communications are open, and language databases are soon exchanged... and then we all speak english.

Or, an alien civilization, close to Human space intercepts this signal the humans were given, investigates, and locates the Human colonies. And appears, having given no warning or a single simple sign of their existance before arriving with an armada.

There's the gameplay - establish communication with aliens, wait for them to do so, or wait for someone to send a signal past you so you know where to send your armada...

Regardless, there would, realistically, be some time before decent communication can be established, but simple things such as "no attack", "you give stuff, we give stuff", "we are powerful" (etc), in pictorial form, would make sense regardless of language. Until interpretation technologies have been invented and fed with the necessary language data (so that everyone speaks english).

I think the best choice, for gameplay, would be to give the player the choice - pursue communication or just await it; then respond or suddenly invade. That means that the player should, early on, be given this choice - to send out "hello world" in all directions and hope for a friendly response (rather than an invasion), or sit around and wait, possibly building warships instead.

In turn, that means the signals either need a very slow travelling time so _everyone_ in the game doesn't get them at first turn someone sends them; there should probably be a max range as well. And certain technologies could increase range and reduce time. Soon thereafter, communication would be instantaneous because waiting a turn for a response for every little suggestion in negotiating a treaty would probably take much of the fun out of it. Maybe only the helloworld signal should travel for multiple turns, as soon as someone's response to the signal is received by the sender, instant communication is opened.

Just my four pages of two cents.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 1:01 am 
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Two more cents:

I was thinking about what guiguibaah said about a civ suddenly finding they're not alone in the universe. What happen? Somebody set up us the event depending on culture.

What if the galactic equivalent of Islam would make contact with the galactic equivalent of Nazi Germany? "Cool, brethren"? I doubt it. For cultural reasons, a culture that is very homogenous could easily have trouble dealing with a very different civilization, unless they're actually tired of their own culture and look for something exotic.

For that matter, I think that's something fairly cyclic, all cultures probably have times of establishing unity and homogenity, and times of tolerance and diversity. Maybe a simple meter where the amount of research in social sciences changes the rate of change.

I mean,

GEQIS might have spent much more resources on building and expanding their civ while NAZGER might have been running social reforms (or social thinning). They would both have a fairly homogenous culture, but the NAZGER people would much quicker swing forth and back between seeking homogenity and seeking diversity than GEQIS. Both would be very homongenous, but depending on timing, they might both be seeking something new... Or neither would.

On gameplay, this means that interactions would be much smoother when both seek diversity and are interesting in the culture of the other.

Not sure if I can explain this the way I'd like to.

I guess another meter would be one of how homogenous a civ is. A great number of colonies and different types of colonized planets would increase diversity, as it would force ppl to adapt to a less usual environment. Distances would also do this, as would art, I guess, if there's anything like that in FO (maybe like luxuries, as in Civ, and if I rememebr correctly, in MOO2). If the civ is very homogenous, the phase of the "seeking"-meter would play a greater part than when the civ is already quite diverse and wouldn't have as harda time relating to alien culture.

To take another example from realism, how would the religious community react to contact with aliens. Does it threaten to invalidate their beliefs, should those beings be converted, are they the devil's spawn (or the equivalent in some other religion, human or alien)...? Or how would the U.S. or any alien equivalent democracy-enforcer react to an alien anthive society? Questions for the scifi/sociology geek, but worth considering incorporating into FO.

I don't think there should be a standard of interaction smoothness based on humanoid vs insectoid. Rather, government, or preferably (the way I see it working, in my mind at least) with meters and phases.

Two more cents, I guess.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 2:26 am 
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rho:

Welcome:
Some interesting ideas.
A seti-broadcast building is an interesting idea, though it would only be of moderate usefulness since ships travel via short-cuts through space (Star Lanes), and may find alien civs faster than a signal traveling at the speed of light. I say "may" because the speed of light currently has no relevance to the game, and thus has no defined relationship to in-game distances. Still such a broadcaster might be worth including. A major issue with using such a device you hadn't mentioned is that it would to some degree reveal the location of the beings which built it, a risky move.

If you want to get up to speed on this project, check out this link.

But if your interest is in the alien/sociological/govermental areas, please be aware that we're not officially working on those aspects at this time, but on the side, we are doing some preliminary brainstorming in threads like this. You can find links to similar topics in this thread

P.S. MoO2 doesn't have luxuries.

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Last edited by eleazar on Sat May 17, 2008 2:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2007 7:23 pm 
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Imagine how "threatened" your people would be if an alien race was exploring and found your planet, but couldn't communicate "Hey, we mean no harm". You're people would expect you to take protective, defensive, or offensive action or else suffer an approval rating penalty. Or if you had enough skilled spies you could attempt to cover-up any knowledge about the alien presence so that your people wouldn't live in fear.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 12:15 am 
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I know the project isn't far in development (or far enough for this thread to be particularily relevant yet), I just enjoy speculating and suggesting stuff. I had a chat with Tyreth some time ago, too, about the nonexistant ETA and other things, and have been running around the wiki and forum enough to know sort'of where you are.

And tried out the game, or pre-game, whatever to call it. Took some time to find the mac version, tho.

MoO2 had trade goods, tho. Which strangely didn't pop into my mind when I wrote those posts.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that communication is faster than space travel anyway. Initial signal should be no less than equally fast as starlane travel with ships but less resource-consuming in that you don't need to send your precious ships anywhere. The signal would likely travel on star lanes anyway. I imagine they're like tunnels, wormholes, whatever - but ships can only travel so fast without killing passengers, suffering time issues and whatnot - so a signal over starlanes would be more efficiant in shouting hello. Maybe the signal would travel (at the speed of light) through _one_ starlane per turn?

Basically, building a SETI sender/receiver would be an early option, and when you encounter an alien ship or planet (or signal), you have the choice of communication or not. As they do. I guess the SETI device could just as well be built as a ship and positioned at a safe distance from any and all populated worlds.

The strategy of this, just as you said, lies in whether it's a good idea to shout hello when you enter deep dark space, and whether or not you should respond to what might be an alien hello. You are making your position known that way. But on the other hand, Earth wouldn't have gotten far in Star Trek without saying hello to the Vulcans (albeit through showing off their "advanced" flight tech).

In the game, I'd like that option. I'd also hope that when I do shout hello, I get a response from the psilon rather than the bulrathi.

--

Also, depending on how great a part the _people_ plays in the game, WebSnozz's idea is pretty cool. If the people are at a stage or in a phase where they can't handle the knowledge of alien life, and just then you get the visit/signal... What happen? Somebody set up us the signal from outer space. We get choice. uh... abort, retry, fail?

Build orbital defenses, build warships and weapons, build underground population shelters, analyse, respond, cover up, fight, capture, research... what to do...? All of a sudden, it sounds like when X-Files meet Stargate SG-1.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:16 am 
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Our FO Galaxies can be quite large. I like the idea of attempting to communicate with empires on the other side of the galaxy, which for practical reasons you cannot yet reach. In many ways a more distant empire would be the ideal civ to exchange info with because they are currently too far away to use that info against you.

And my comments comparing the speed of a radio signal to the speed of ships are in no way relevant. If we have a SETI-like device it will transmit at the speed with is best for gameplay, and then we'll do our best to find a reasonable explanation for the process.

Regardless of speed, a transmitter offers the benefit of being able to go in all directions at once, and through hostile, occupied star systems.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:21 am 
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Well i think there are 2 issues here

1. First contact with alien life

2. First Contact with a foreign power

# 1 may not be an issue with some races considering the backstory (most were contacted by the Orions) but # 2 is significant
And I think it isn't merely a one time 'acquire language'. To properly negotiate with them, you need to know their laws, customs, culture, etc.

Essentially once you have contact with a certain 'team color' then you can work towards greater and greater levels of understanding them... more understanding means
1. more advanced diplomatic agreements are possible
2. more lucrative trade between your people
3. more advanced ability to spy against them


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PostPosted: Sat May 17, 2008 2:11 pm 
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The latter is in agreement to my diplomatic "acceptance" idea from the design thread.

Basically, language or understanding a race grows naturally when sending a team of language experts to the alien race in order to learn and exchange their grammar and vocabulary or other ways of speaking and scientifically find a translation table that works for both-way-communication.

I'd propose therefore that having a friendship agreement gives you a significiant boost to language-related delay issues while having no such agreement forces you to rely on techs and slow progression of language-acquisition. Also what might be possible is to have an option at first contact or any time afterwards to propose sending a team or setting up a language team like mentioned above even without a friendship agreement in order to get to know each other better language-wise. That can be agreed on by the other race or not.


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