Sci Fi/Opera Originality



  • Just some observations that I'm curious about and open to hearing thoughts about.

    There seems some interest in original sci fi/fantasy/space opera, but seems very niche these days. Seems like the big draw in and around this genre is and always will be Star Wars followed by some Trek enthusiasts (loved me Star Trek: TOS back in the day).

    I'm wondering, were the remaining interest is in the realm of original theme is. Literally serious curious, I know some folks here enjoy sci fi/etc. hence why I figured posting here might open my mind some on this. My time is more limited, hence that focus on the original sci fi place and something closer to OTT style play, but interest is literally like 2 people. Is the interest in MU*'ing original sci-fi really that dead?

    Food for thought on the topic, checking mudstats or mushcode.com's MU* List. Notice the slight grow in small places (1-4 players on ever). Literally there are at least 50 places on these lists (and it takes forever to update, so probably even more places that just haven't submitted at mudstats or mushcode). That means 75+ people are out there just working on separate places. While the hobby seems to have less folks about (not by much, but less), I'm curious if the trend to do your own places is pulling interested parties apart. Where instead of 50 places with 1 to 2 people doing there own thing, having fewer places (10) with 5-10 might be more conducive to growing interest a little; I know a few folks look at a place and if its only a few people they just won't check it out as it could take time to find RP.

    Just some thoughts is all.


  • Pitcrew

    I would love an original theme SF game. Neither Star Wars or Star Trek thrill me as a game theme, to be honest, but I love SF.

    I don't think 'more choices' pulls people apart, though. In fact, I think it offers the opportunity for a breakout success. Most new MU*s will fail. But that's normal for most new /everything/, and it doesn't hurt anyone to have twenty five games that only sustain 2-5 people. They're not hurting anyone, and if they chose this game above the other options, there's probably a reason for it. When that game closes, they may very well not move on to another game, but rather just drift away entirely.



  • Long long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I tried a couple of original Sci Fi themed Mushes. The main problem I found, was the each setting required extensive reading to understand. Furthermore, none of the games provided enough documentation to fully explain every aspect of their settings -- this is not a knock against them, because it's not even remotely realistic to expect a comprehensive write-up of an entirely original universe. Common examples were: what specific technologies existed? How common were they? How did the economy work? How did people obtain material goods? Who built starships? Etc. etc. The few scenes I got into almost always ended up on hold until we got clarification from staff, which was a bit of a hassle.

    In my estimation, that's why SF games based on Star Wars or Star Trek are more popular: simply because they use shared settings that are popular and well-defined, which take the guesswork out of the roleplay.



  • I'll go with fail theme then; common questions noted are answered. It could be the extensive reading too. But still, I'd be interested in others developing or attempting original themes, so its less spreading out into few areas where its much more work to fully cover everything (as pointed out by @Scissors ). I think I have seen the technology issue before that you point out and no one knowing what specifically did exist. That was a topic here wasn't it, in the past year or so?

    I have a hard time with established and defined settings, cause I never know enough either.



  • @scissors said in Sci Fi/Opera Originality:

    In my estimation, that's why SF games based on Star Wars or Star Trek are more popular: simply because they use shared settings that are popular and well-defined, which take the guesswork out of the roleplay.

    The main problem I had with Star Wars games is that they did explain things, like why the Force exists because MIDICHLORIANS ARGH DRAMATIC FAILURE RAGE ROLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!

    That aside, I wouldn't mind working on an original sci-fi setting. I took a crack at some sci-fi writing when I was a younger person, and have some ideas. Otherwise, you could take an existing setting and use it because no one else has -- that's about as original as you need to be, at times.

    If you're going the second route, I'd suggest Exo-Squad.


  • Pitcrew

    I know @Cochrane used to have an original Sci-Fi game back in the day. Unfortunately, I missed it as it was before my MU* time.

    I think people are afraid of the risk of an original theme. Traditional themes, even mirror universes of those themes, feel safer because they don't have to do the lore-building that original ones do, and fans who are also MU*ers are guaranteed to at least look at the page, even if they don't try them out.



  • @ganymede said in Sci Fi/Opera Originality:

    The main problem I had with Star Wars games is that they did explain things, like why the Force exists because MIDICHLORIANS ARGH DRAMATIC FAILURE RAGE ROLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!

    I don't know what you mean. What midichlorians?

    You see, the Prequels don't exist in my universe.



  • @scissors said in Sci Fi/Opera Originality:

    @ganymede said in Sci Fi/Opera Originality:

    The main problem I had with Star Wars games is that they did explain things, like why the Force exists because MIDICHLORIANS ARGH DRAMATIC FAILURE RAGE ROLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!

    I don't know what you mean. What midichlorians?

    You see, the Prequels don't exist in my universe.

    I'll jump on the derail of my own topic ... none at all? Not even bad ass Yoda parts of the prequels? Not even Christopher Lee the Sith (Dooku)?



  • There are three Prequel things that exist in my universe: Count Dooku, Qui-Gon Jinn, and Darth Maul. Coincidentally, all are historical figures (i.e. dead) by the time of the original trilogy.



  • I once tried making an original sci-fi game with a setting that was essentially just a blend of Star Trek and Star Wars with the serial numbers filed off. I developed the setting specifically so people wouldn't have to read a novel-length document explaining things. The result? Empty MUSH. I had a few folks wander in but no one stayed, so I gave up on it after a year.



  • I like original sci-fi. I had an idea for one I love, but I just cannot do in depth tech questions. They give me a blazing migraine faster than a white background web page filled with flashing bright cyan and yellow text. I could probably provide as much info as you'd get from your average TV show or movie about how things work without stressing it, but that doesn't tend to be enough for players drawn to the tech aspects of the game, so I've more or less tabled it forever and ever and ever, amen.


  • Pitcrew

    As someone who has opened and run an original-theme sci-fi MUSH, I can tell you that @Scissors and @FirePuff in particular are spot on, with an original theme, there's no way to give enough shape to the world that enough players will feel comfortable in it to RP without looking over their shoulder.

    Some will forge ahead happily, expanding the setting in very themely directions. Some will forge ahead quite happily, expanding the setting in wildly unthemely directions (that they didn't know were unthemely because either it wasn't spelled out anywhere, they didn't read it, or they didn't care). Some will find one thing they feel comfortable with and RP in that niche forever. Some will ignore the setting and play their relationship dramas. Some will look at the copious setting info that has been provided and get turned off (either by elements of the setting or by the amount of information available). And some will look at the setting and try to break it.

    If you can find a way to encourage the first and third groups (themely expansion and niche play), tolerate the fourth group (relationship), redirect the second group (unthemely expansion), and discourage the last group, you might be able to get enough people comfortable enough in the world that it can become self-sustaining. Ideally, you would be able to do this simply by how the information is presented on your wiki, and how it is presented (a "suggested reading" group of 5-8 pages is a good start, I think), but generally it'll also be by positive reinforcement toward those who make themely contributions to the setting.



  • @seraphim73 said in Sci Fi/Opera Originality:

    expanding the setting in wildly unthemely directions (that they didn't know were unthemely because either it wasn't spelled out anywhere, they didn't read it, or they didn't care)

    Oh, that was probably me, Demos the scientist doing science adventures of no consequence (Indiana Jones style complete with Dr. Renee Belloq science adversary).

    The 1st group must be like golden standard, on any mu*, forge ahead in themely directions, without being guided or prodded. I enjoy player good surprises when I check logs by others.


  • Pitcrew

    @lotherio Nope, wasn't you at all. I would have put Demos in the niche group, mostly due to your online times. I have no doubts that he would have gotten involved in more stuff if there were more folks on at the same times you were.

    Totally agree with you that Group 1 is awesome in all ways (except some people might consider them spotlight hogs? And they might be, if they aren't bringing people into the fun with them).


  • Pitcrew

    I would put Fading Suns, Battlestar, and Firefly squarely in that category and all have enjoyed long and devoted followings in mushdom.


  • Pitcrew

    I ran an original sci-fi/survival horror game called Cold Space that had a smallish but awesome playerbase. It was probably easier to get into because it wasn't super far-off sci-fi, maybe only 120 years or so in the future, and it was set in our history so there wasn't an entire history to build and civilizations to design. Still, it was never a big game, no.

    I'm tryinga Doctor Who game as something different for sci-fi, hoping that between an existing fandom and easy character creation it'll float. Not expecting it to be big, either.



  • @botulism Yup, Cold Space is the only original Sci-Fi game I played on that I enjoyed and stuck with. Aside from the fact that the setting is not that far out in the future, it's also set on a single colonial ship essentially "Lost in Space" so we didn't need to worry too much about understanding the rest of the universe.


  • Pitcrew

    @scissors I tried to make it simple. Glad to hear I somewhat succeeded!



  • I think people are more interested in original sci-fi in the abstract sense. Like "wouldn't it be cool if there was a good original sci-fi game" ranks right up there with "wouldn't it be cool if I won the lottery." Because let's face it - original sci-fi is hard to pull off. I think it's understandable that people are a little gun-shy about actually investing time and energy in learning this wholly new theme that might just end up as yet another EmptyMUSH.



  • So I did make an original theme game, but I did that knowing the challenges implicit in that. It's really on someone making an original theme game to create a setting that's intuitive and approachable enough, and fun and engaging enough, that people want to learn it and stick around and roleplay in it. That needs an awful lot of drive on the part of the creator since people are very protective of their limited free time, and really don't want to pour help into a project that might turn out to be vaporware, so basically it's on the designer to create something engaging, and then make something fun enough on their own that a critical mass of people enjoy it enough to learn it and then start telling their own stories and generating activity on their own.

    Like to be brutally honest, theme almost doesn't matter all that much in the big scheme of things. The overwhelming majority of us have probably RP'd in a wide range of settings. The initial experience of, 'Did I have fun RP when I logged in', that's pretty much all that matters whether something catches on, and theme is just a subset of that. A game runner that's super active and tells fun stories will probably make anything work all right.


Log in to reply