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[fh] why justify? was Re: [OT]-Interstellar Trade: A new take

From: Tom Anderson <thomas.anderson@u...>
Date: Tue, 9 May 2000 22:40:14 +0100 (BST)
Subject: [fh] why justify? was Re: [OT]-Interstellar Trade: A new take

On Tue, 9 May 2000, Bren Mayhugh wrote:

> I have been following this thread for quite a long time and finally
> that I would put my two cents in.
> But, in my opinion, there is something that most of us are failing to 
> realize and all of us have been caught up in the numbers and real life

> determinations of interstellar trade that we have forgotten one of the

> requirement of a good game and that is playablity.

no, we haven't; in fact, playability is one of the key reasons we're
this. now, you are of course utterly correct that a background for a
wargame with no colonies or trade in space would be worthless and dumb,
and that for playability we need to say that these things exist.
to some people, there is a big difference between saying 'this is so
because we want it to be so' and 'this so so because of the following
sensible reasons'. the former (a) lacks the coherence and solidity that
characteristic of involving, enjoyable fiction (future history is,
ultimately, fiction of a sort) and (b) makes it hard to fill in details
with a generating philosophy, details flow naturally from what has gone
before, but without one, you have to make everything up as you go along
(c) makes consistency difficult to attain (if there are no reasons for
anything, there are no reasons why things should be consistent, so you
have to be extra careful). what it comes down to is that many people
(including me) find an ad-hoc, unjustified future history deeply

> Sure, I know that interstellar trade would probably only be rare items
> items of art, but where is the fun of that?

ah, now this reveals one of your unstated assumptions - that any
'realistic' Future Economy (to coin a phrase - by analogy to Future
History; we're really working in the wider domain of Future Humanities
) has to be thin and unappealing. i sincerely believe this is untrue,
because (a) i want a rich, tasty FE, (b) i'm really good at making
up and making them sound plausible and (c) there are lots of other
like me working on it too.

> I know that I might get flamed for this message,

i strongly hope you don't, and in fact i doubt you will - we've all seen
this argum ... er, discussion in the past :). i also hope you don't take
this post as a flame!

> but to make a good gaming arena (aka the different nations 
> in the GZG-verse), one has to weigh reality and playablity to make the
> entertaining enough for people but keep it realistic enough to be
> (this is the most important part of any game).

this is indeed the heart of the matter - we need to generate a
high-quality FH/FE which supports good gameplay. we need a framework for
numerous, diverse, fractious star powers, with economically accessible
combat and a plethora of motivations for it. we need space colonies,
stations, space trade, space freighters, space pirates, space navies,
space explorers, space politics, space bars (to keep the words
of course!), the space kitchen sink.

> The reason that Faster-than-light drives were created was not for any
> realism, but to make space 'smaller'. Definately a playablity thing.

right. but if we can back the FTL drive up with some pseudo-scientific
bulls**t (PSB - learn to love it!), we feel happier and more

> Sure, most colonies would be so expensive to start up and maintain for
> first months (or years) that only extreme reasons would ever force a
> to even think of an interstellar colony, but all these sci fi game
> be anything unless there is colonies at different star systmes.

well, then the point to start is to figure out good reasons why colonies
which generate trade are (a) cost-effective (in the long run) (b)
to start. i'm sure the cognoscenti of the list can think of quite a
(this discussion should, however, take place on the 'pedia list). my
favourite is to grow food for export to earth (Malthus amd all that) -
colonies start off agricultural and with small populations, then grow by
building up the local industry to reduce imports (this depends on
industrial set-up costs being low enough relative to shipping costs).
colonies become worth seizing from your enemies, Bob's your uncle. some
people don't like this because they don't see humanity's demand for food
outstripping the earth's ability to supply within the next few
or because they favour another alternative. rest assured, though, there
are a bunch of good ideas, and we are working on them all the time.
science fiction hasn't been colonising space for the last century or so
without any justfication, you know!

anyway, i'll finish by suggesting we pro-detailers write a 'justifiers'
manifesto', and post it either on the GZG-L website or the 'pedia, so
if anyone wonders why we feel the need to do it, we can tell them. i
suggest we start as follows "A spectre is haunting the Tuffleyverse -
spectre of Justification ...".

tom a

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