Levity

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yandonman
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Levity

#1 Post by yandonman » Mon Oct 08, 2012 1:51 am

Do all the races seems intentionally silly? Is this intentional or just a matter of 'haven't gotten around to polishing the races' yet?

(wrt subject line, the main map gives a sense of purpose and belies a certain seriousess - the races seem counter to this)
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eleazar
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Re: Levity

#2 Post by eleazar » Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:51 pm

Not exactly silly.

I pretty much liked and continued the direction that i saw pervious to my curation-- not stuffy and serious, not necessarily biologically plausible, but odd, different and memorable. Trying to emphasize the strangeness of the universe. If you are familiar with Star Control, that's the direction, though they lay on the wackiness harder than i want to.

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Geoff the Medio
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Re: Levity

#3 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:46 pm

I have a few... 'dislikes' in species names.

"George" or "Fifty-Seven" seem pointlessly silly, due to arbitrary use of recognizable words without any real reason.

"Gis Guf G'thrim", "Hhhoh", "Nymnmn", "Raaagh", "Muursh", "T'aeghirus", "Ugmorrs", "Sslith", and "Volp-Uglush" are either unnecessarily hard to type or use what I want to call "vanity" repeated letters in an attempt to look weird / alien. This style doesn't work, I think, and would be better replaced with simpler spellings.

"Chato" I unilaterally renamed from their previous very-long double apostrophized name due to it breaking the UI in a few places, but they also previously fell under being unnecessarily hard to type, even though the multi-part name did have some rationale in their description.

"Laenfa" is borderline hard to type, due to the the spelling, but not quite objectionably so.

Remembering how many b, d, and n there are in "Abaddonni" will likely be difficult.

As for the concepts of the species, I don't generally see any problems with them being not serious enough... Are there specific cases where they are too silly in anyone's opinion?

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em3
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Re: Levity

#4 Post by em3 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:23 am

Couldn't fifty-Seven be named simply "57"? Or would the species name be confused with population meters etc. in UI?

I always thought "Laenfa" was "Lanfea". This must be because of The Weel of Time...
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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eleazar
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Re: Levity

#5 Post by eleazar » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:53 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:"George" or "Fifty-Seven" seem pointlessly silly, due to arbitrary use of recognizable words without any real reason.
Not arbitrary. I didn't exactly spell it out in the description, but i thought it would be suggestive that a "math obsessed" species would choose a number to identify themselves rather than some arbitrary syllables.

Considering that another species isn't likely going to speak with sounds that correspond directly to the english alphabet, i think the use of known words for alien species is quite plausible, weather given as nick-names, or translated from something unpronounceable. It also totally avoids the problem of made-up names that are often "unnecessarily hard to type" or remember.

Thus "George" seems entirely plausible a the answer that a childish hive entity might have given to the question "what do you call your species?", once he had enough grasp of their language to answer.
Geoff the Medio wrote:"Gis Guf G'thrim", "Hhhoh", "Nymnmn", "Raaagh", "Muursh", "T'aeghirus", "Ugmorrs", "Sslith", and "Volp-Uglush" are either unnecessarily hard to type or use what I want to call "vanity" repeated letters in an attempt to look weird / alien. This style doesn't work, I think, and would be better replaced with simpler spellings.
I'll grant you the apostrophes. I can't account for all those names, but for instance "Hhhoh" and "Sslith" are pretty good examples of onomatopoeia, and not hard to remember.

Excessively long names is (was) a problem. I wouldn't mind a reasonable max character limit, perhaps 15 -- enough to write "hidden gardener". Though i don't think any existing species has a longer name.

revision 5289
"simplified some species names."
em3 wrote:Couldn't fifty-Seven be named simply "57"?
How would that help? I thought spelling it out made it a bit more name-like.

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Re: Levity

#6 Post by em3 » Tue Oct 09, 2012 10:03 pm

eleazar wrote:
em3 wrote:Couldn't fifty-Seven be named simply "57"?
How would that help? I thought spelling it out made it a bit more name-like.
Well... as long as species names are translatable.
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Re: Levity

#7 Post by yandonman » Thu Oct 11, 2012 8:09 am

I think one of the problems I have with the majority of the races is that they are one-dimensional characters (see Character Development).

The site lists this as an example of a one-dimensional character:
The grouchy lieutenant in the local police precinct who never smiles and is always spilling coffee on his cheap shirt? That’s a one-dimensional character.
Many of the FreeOrion races sound like this:
Egassem: Super massive, nuclear, lava-dwelling, crystalline amoebas
See the similarity?


The site, I feel correctly, sums up the issue in this statement:
This is often a great trap of newer writers, who infuse their characters with all manner of quirks and kinks and little tics designed to make them either cool, weird or supposedly – best intentions — compelling.
The races all seem to have random quirks to make them sound interesting, but the trick is so obvious, it seems silly. So here's my attempt to make it "better" (standard caveats apply about hubris).




Chato:
Current description: Sessile crystalline entities which ride the animal Goshk
Issues: The use of "Sessile" seems an attempt to sound intelligent by using a uncommon word. And do all Chato ride Goshks? And do they ride them ... for fun? And how does an immobile/attached rock "ride" anything?
Proposed "better" wording: Crystalline entities which become immobile shortly after "birth". Chato have the ability to form symbiotic relationships with organic species, which they use for locomotion and to interact with the world. The Goshk is a common host of the Chato.

Eaxaw:
Current description: Evil amazonian xenophobic aggressive worms
Issues: "Evil"? The quintessential one-dimensional characteristic. Amazonian? Cliche. Xenophobic? ... too many stacked on traits make this silly.
Proposed "better" wording: Large sentient "worms" that have natural bony plates along the length of their body. The lush jungle that made up the majority of their home world was the site of some of the fiercest predators in the universe. As the Eaxaw were hunted by natural predators until they became the dominant species on their planet, they have a tendency to be aggressive and xenophobic to an extreme. Their history was marked by almost constant war until the current sect rose to power by killing off the other sects.


Cray:
Current description: Cheerful enthusiastic robots
Issues: "Cray" is a too obvious reference to robots. And "Cray" is a human term. And is every single Cray cheerful and enthusiastic?
Proposed "better" wording: Change the race name to "Kray". Description: A robotic race that rose after the sentient organic life on their planet wiped themselves out. Kray diplomats tend to seem overly friendly, due to trying to hide their inability to exactly mimic organic emotions. The military Kray units, however, lack any sort of personality. None the less, as a whole, the Kray try to preserve life when they can.


Egassem:
Current description: Super massive, nuclear, lava-dwelling, crystalline amoebas
Issues: "Egassem", "Orgasm". Also, backwards it's "message" which seems silly. New name: Giysem.
Description issues: Too many descriptors, making them one-dimensional.
Proposed "better" wording: Very large, amoeba like crystalline entities, the Giysem are the only other sentient crystalline lifeforms in the known galaxy. While amoeba like in appearance, Giysem have a very complex anatomy. The Giysem typically live in huge natural or constructed lava pools. A Giysem's diet primarily consists of heat and natural radiation that is abundant on their home world and Giysem chefs are known to "cook" radiation via nuclear means. Due to their natural habitat being molten rock, the Giysem use a form of sonar to "see" the world. The majority of Giysem cannot empathize with organic life, though small factions creep up occasionally with various agendas. Once a Giysem reaches a thousand years old, it is able to vote.


Etty:
Current description: Cybernetic Plants
Issues: Too simple
Proposed "better" description: Sometimes simply referred to as "cybernetic plants", an Etty is actually a symbiotic relationship between a cybernetic entity and a plant, usually a type of vine. The plant half provides the energy the Etty needs via photosynthesis, and the cybernetic half provides locomotion and most, but not all, of the intelligence. Etty are extremely quirky beings, but generally non-violent and very caring. It was rumored that some Etty scientists were experimenting with non-plant based hosts, though the thought of this horrifies most Etty.



George:
Current description: A single, childish Telepathic entity consisting of tons of centipedeoids
Issues: The name is stupid. "childish" is silly. "tons of" is silly.
Notes: This one has tons of potential, in part due to the "Buggers" of the Ender's Game series. A lot of the depth of the Buggers race could be adapted here.
Proposed "better" description: An entity that is composed of a telepathically linked species of centipedeoids. Each individual centipedeiod has a relatively small brain structure, but linked, the trillions upon trillions of individual brains make up a massive distributed network of organic brain power. This distributed brain slowly became sentient a little over 2000 years ago and vaguely is aware of the individual centipedeoid as most organics are of their individual cells. Due to being essentially alone for the first 1000 years of its consciousnesses, the entity went through an enormous emotional shock when it discovered other sentient life in the universe due in part because it wasn't just one being it found, but hundreds. Contact with this entity is often unpredictable.
Suggested rename(s): Entity (due to it's lack of identity), The Entity, Cid or The Entity known as Cid.

Gyishache:
Current description: Cowardly, freakish sheep-like herbivores
Issues: Does anyone question this as being silly?
Suggested "better" description: One of the few intelligent lifeforms to evolve from herbivores in the galaxy, the Gyishache species is actually one of the earliest intelligent lifeforms in the galaxy. However, largely due to their herbivore lineage, they are very risk adverse and did not venture out of their system until they absolutely had to. First contact with an alien race also did not go well, as the aggressive aliens found the Gyishache skin a valuable commodity and the Gyishache meat delicious. Most races find the individual Gyishache cowardly, but the Gyishache themselves have found great courage in numbers.



Laenfa
Current description: Sneaky, telepathic, sentient vines
Issues: One dimensional. Are they all sneaky? Telepathic is overused.
Notes: The book/movie "The Ruins" could actually be a template for this race
Suggested "better" description: The Laenfa are a species of carnivorousness vines that evolved sentience as a response to their main food source also evolving sentience. One of the few examples of two distinct species gaining sentience at the same time, the results were horrific as both sides started slaughtering the other, with the Laenfa being the eventual winners. The Laenfa became a space faring race a few centuries later in response to their inability to control their population's growth. Militarily, the Laenfa remain true to their carnivorous plant ancestry, with heavy emphasis on bait and lure tactics, stealth and deception.

At one point, the Etty visited the Laenfa homeworld.


Trith
Current description: Bereaved xenophobic telepaths
Issues: Seriously? Bereaved by what? Xenophobic used too much. Telepathic used to much.
Suggested "better" description: The Trith were created by an advanced race called the Aiani. The Aiani loved their creation, and the Trith loved and worshiped them back. In the Trith language, the word "Aiana" meant both parent and god. Then, one day the Trith homeworld was attacked. The Aiani defended their children. But when the tide of the battle was not going well, and the war looked lost, the Aiani sacrificed themselves for the sake of their children and detonated their remaining warships strategically against the attackers. The gambit worked and the attackers left, but the price was the Aiani race. As the Trith watched the last of their beloved Aiani parents die in their arms and the unknown attackers leave, the Triths' collective hearts turned from love and joy to fear and hatred. And every night since, every Trith from the youngest to the oldest, prays to their dead gods that they will spill enough alien blood to block out the light from every alien sun.
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Re: Levity

#8 Post by Zireael » Thu Oct 11, 2012 11:43 am

Love the longer descriptions.

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eleazar
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Re: Levity

#9 Post by eleazar » Thu Oct 11, 2012 3:03 pm

Yandonman: You are missing the context. Those short sentences you are revising are very brief executive summaries of species concepts that exist on the forums but haven't yet been reformatted/rewritten for the in-game 'pedia.

Help developing, refining and formatting the description for the game has been and is requested, but it is not the best idea to start from scratch.

Here's the guidelines for 'pedia write-ups.

And each species already has a topic in the Story sub forum.


While i wouldn't want all the species to be one dimensional, i don't consider it bad. The plan is to have a lot of minor species-- making each one memorable and distinct and giving the player a clue what to do with them is more important than giving them 2D depth. Depth is not bad, it's just not the main thing. And i assume you realize that most great works of fiction (which isn't exactly what we are trying to make) include flat characters as well as more developed ones.

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Re: Levity

#10 Post by yandonman » Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:10 am

My apologies. I despise individuals who only complain and don't offer solutions, hence part of my rationale for the proposals.

The descriptions/executive summaries, however confused me, and perhaps you can provide more assistance in clarifying its intent. This is what I interpreted the goal of those descriptions to be. Please correct me where I am wrong:
  • give a justification for the in-game bonus to attributes
  • give a bit of character to the race
  • do it in a very succinct manner (aka: executive summary)

The reason I reached that conclusions was
  • Words such as "Cowardly" and "Sneaky" and "lave-dwelling" seemed to correlate to the in-game attributes such as weak troops, stealthy and prefers inferno planets, respectively.
  • Words such as "sheep-like", "xenophobic", "childish" seemed either redundant or didn't correlate to in-game attributes, which suggested character building
  • They were all very short. That and eleazar said so.
I have no problem with goals 1 & 3. I actually have no problem with goal #2, either, except in implementation, where I (IMHO) feel that the character of many of the races comes off as silly in these executive summaries. See all of the above "issue" statements.

If I were to take a stab at keeping it short:


"massive, lava-dwelling, crystalline amoebas"

"physically weak, intelligent herbivores with "interesting" anatomies"

"an entity composed of telepathically linked centipedeiods"

Is that more in-line with the dev's expectations?




I feel that racial characteristics should be expressed by the interactions associated with actually playing the game, and not some 'pedia entry. This executive summary can be one such interaction, so it's important that it convey the right characteristic, if that's its goal.
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Re: Levity

#11 Post by em3 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:38 am

I think the main point is, the "executive summaries" are not meant to be shown in-game. Ever. They are a starting point, seed of designing a species, not the final goal.
[...] for Man has earned his right to hold this planet against all comers, by virtue of occasionally producing someone totally batshit insane. - Randall Munroe, title text to xkcd #556

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eleazar
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Re: Levity

#12 Post by eleazar » Fri Oct 12, 2012 2:47 pm

yandonman wrote:The descriptions/executive summaries, however confused me, and perhaps you can provide more assistance in clarifying its intent.
The main point of the summary is to give you a very quick idea of who the species is. In most cases--when the player has encountered it before-- it serves as a concentrated reminder, that's supposed to make the player say, "Oh, yeah, i remember these guys." If they don't remember they can read on / or check the 'pedia. I trust most people are like me and won't forever remember which species the name "Foo-glop-Ooo" describes after meeting them in a previous game.
em3 wrote:I think the main point is, the "executive summaries" are not meant to be shown in-game. Ever. They are a starting point, seed of designing a species, not the final goal.
No. It is not only a starting point -- most/all are condensations of much longer pre-existing write-ups. And they are intended to be near the top of the species 'pedia entry, and in the interface as a tooltip whenever whenever that makes sense.
yandonman wrote:The reason I reached that conclusions was
  • Words such as "Cowardly" and "Sneaky" and "lave-dwelling" seemed to correlate to the in-game attributes such as weak troops, stealthy and prefers inferno planets, respectively.
  • Words such as "sheep-like", "xenophobic", "childish" seemed either redundant or didn't correlate to in-game attributes, which suggested character building
  • They were all very short. That and eleazar said so.
I have no problem with goals 1 & 3. I actually have no problem with goal #2, either, except in implementation, where I (IMHO) feel that the character of many of the races comes off as silly in these executive summaries. See all of the above "issue" statements.
Did you follow my links? Why are you "reaching conclusions" about things i've explained?

The descriptions (short and long) are supposed to imply and inspire potential future in-game attributes as well as those we can/have implemented now. You really should read each species thread before trying to re-write the short description.

Also you don't need to waste space in the short description noting that the species is intelligent. All (or at least the vast majority) of the species
will be sapient.

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