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Why the hell aren't there more "space opera" / futuristic CRPGs?

Discussion in 'General RPG Discussion' started by Louis_Cypher, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    From a world building point of view, science fiction can do anything fantasy can, perhaps even more given it's scope.

    The ratio of fantasy to space opera RPGs must be something like 100 to 1, if not even worse. Off the top of my head, I can think of only 6 genuine space opera CRPGs, all in two franchises: Mass Effect and Star Wars. No isometric ones to speak of. Add to this maybe one or two closely related genres such as future history/planetary romance/dying Earth, and you can add Torment: Tides of Numenera to that list. Aside from that there are a couple of old pre-1995 things like Albion and Megatraveller, and a couple of upcoming indie games like Stellar Tactics and The New World.

    That is still tiny compared to the seemingly hundreds of fantasy RPGs that have been released on PC since the 1980s, and space opera accounts for probably less than half the number of games when compared to post-apocalyptic CRPGs, a smaller literary genre. I'm guessing there are about 20 or so of those, in the form of stuff like Wasteland, Fallout and UnderRail, meaning a tiny sub-genre of science fiction is doing better than the one where alien worlds, social ideas and intelligent species are commonplace.

    I see lots of generic fantasy games appearing all the time as smaller releases or indie games. Some of them are shockingly bland distillations of fantasy as a fiction genre, with characters like 'Scottish-accented-Dwarf #375'. To be fair, aside from Planescape Torment, I can't think of many that seem written by someone familiar with Moorcock or Wolfe or Gaiman. Since the RPG is kinda a genre created by geeks for geeks, why are there so few space ones? Why hasn't someone, say, adapted Traveller into a CRPG? Why is there no Star Trek RPG? Or Babylon 5 RPG?

    I would love to see something like a space-UnderRail even, but can't InExile or whoever do an isometric Traveller RPG?
     
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  2. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    I would love to see that. The traveller/mega-traveller crpgs are okay, but very hard to play now and were okay games at best. But they did have great chargen.

    I would love to see a real Traveller crpg made.

    What I have been begging developers for years for is new Buck Rogers games. One thing that drives me nuts is people that claim they love the Goldbox games but have never played the Buck Rogers games, which were fucking Gold Box engine games. It has an rpg system light years ahead of the rest of AD&D and still stands up as a much heavier rpg system than most of the tripe that comes out today. They still are great games to play today, with the only issue really being the same as other SSI rpgs at the time by putting most of the story in a manual you have to read outside of the game.

    I just don't get it. Nor do I understand people's reluctance to even try them who are willing to still play the other goldbox engine games today. I definitely understand if people are unwilling to play goldbox games or old games with shitty controls and UIs. But if you are willing to fire up POR today, why not try the excellent Buck Rogers?
     
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  3. Beastro Arcane

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    I don't get it especially since if they want something of an easy mode of Countdown to Doomsday they can play the old Genesis port that doesn't have things like ammo that changes combat a ton. Because of that its late game is getting your whole team in rocket launchers and plasma throwers and then "combat" devolves into your guys dancing around to avoid blasting each other.
     
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  4. Darth Canoli Magister

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    You're comparing one compartment of science-fiction (space opera) to the whole heroic-fantasy genre.
    If you add everything sci-fi related you can add fallout 1 & 2 and shadowrun at least as well as many other.

    Still, i wouldn't mind some turn-based RPG based on Jack Vance's novels, there is material to create amazing stories and i guess there is probably a couple of systems that could work out.

    Why nobody adapted the Tchaï cycle into a turn-based RPG franchise ?
    Or the demon princes series ?
    And there is a lot of material out there, i might understand why nobody would pick star trek, for example, it would probably be too expensive (although Star Wars worked quite well with KotOR 1 & 2, it's not turn-based but real time with pause worked quite well for those ones)
     
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  5. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    Also, the Genesis version completely gutted chargen and dev. But, the rom sites let you play it right in your browser and save to the site, which is much easier than people trying to set up DOSBox. But, if they are playing other goldbox games you can just drag and drop the buck rogers ex onto the DOSBox from them. It works for DOSBox games on steam too, even ones dramatically different. Right now I have Buck Rogers in my Wiz7 from steam folder and just drag and drop.
     
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  6. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Try Starflight 1 and 2. Best space opera CPRGs I've played.
    Countdown to Doomday is also good, if you like the old pulp model of the Solar System, and tactical combat.

    After these two oldies there's pretty slim pickings.
     
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  7. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    Albion, but yeah, very under utilized. Are Starflight 1 and 2 crpgs? Chargen? Not ridiculously lite chardev? What other rpg elements? I saw they had a kickstarter for 3 the other day, but before that I never heard of these games.

    Edit - besides the obvious Wiz7 and 8, or prior early rpgs were 99% fantasy with some weird sci-fi shit thrown in. Then the two Ultima spin-offs too, for some sort of weird sci-fi-ish something.
     
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  8. octavius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    octavius
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    Yeah, it's not a pure CRPG, but it's got things like exploration and unraveling the plot (a bit like Ultima 4), and random encounters.
     
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  9. Dorateen Arcane

    Dorateen
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    Right now, I am fighting aliens and robot killing machines in Grimoire.

    Much like the latter Wizardries and early Might & Magics, it fuses sci-fi and fantasy as part of the setting.
     
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  10. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Imagine Rajaniemi's "Quantum Thief" as cRPG setting.
    :bounce:
    Instant nerdboner.
     
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  11. Shagnak Shagadelic

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    I have to admit I've never played the SSI Buck Rogers games. According to Wikipedia, they're based on the Buck Rogers XXV pen and paper rpg from TSR. Kewl!

    I'm currently trying StarCrawlers, that SF space blobber (that counts, right?). I think I chucked some money at its Kickstarter, but I keep forgetting I have it. Pretty good so far.

    I''m not afraid of a bit of SF mixed in with fantasy. Yeah, it all gets a bit silly, a bit gonzo, but its fun and we don't always have have totally sirius settings.
    I'd def like to see more "pure" SF/space opera CRPGs though.
     
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  12. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    I define fantasy fiction as folklore-based world-building.

    I define science fiction as science-based world-building.

    Obviously there is crossover, and you can apply archetypes to both, like The Doctor is a 'space wizard'; so are the Techno-Mages from Babylon 5.

    (Actually thinking about it, The Doctor shares things in common with the immortal protagonists in Planescape: Torment and Tides of Numenera).

    So high Orc-n-Elf fantasy is just a sub-genre of fantasy, just like space opera is probably the biggest sub-genre of science fiction. With fantasy RPGs you could have urban fantasy (Buffy), dark fantasy (Berserk), high fantasy (Tolkien), low fantasy (George RR Martin), heroic fantasy (Conan), fantasy based on mythology (sub-genres: Norse, Greek, India, China, Japan, etc, etc). In sci-fi, you could have space opera (Star Trek/Farscape/Babylon 5/elements of Satr Wars), science fantasy (elements of Star Wars/Numenera/The Book of the New Sun) post-apocalyptic (Fallout/UnderRail/Wasteland), planetary romance (elements of Dune), Lovecraftian, future history, military, hard sci-fi (meaning scienficially rigorous, i.e. Revelation Space), soft sci-fi (meaning scientifically loose, i.e. Doctor Who), cyberpunk/post-cybperpunk (Deus Ex/Takeshi Kovacs/Ghost in the Shell), etc, etc, etc. Yet, we get 99% high fantasy games popping up on all the time. Even the main, most famous sci-fi genre, the space opera, gets less than ten games in two decades. I'm not saying names like Frank Herbert or Isaac Asimov or Arthur C Clarke have the same pretige as Tolkien but they are close, especially Herbert. The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe influenced Numenera, so thats one game that I applaud for trying something different.

    But the lack of space opera in particular is stupifying considering the possibilities; you can even transplant fantasy tropes concerning common cultural types directly into science fiction, giving them to a somewhat biologically-plausible and culturally-plausible species (like the Asari, Krogans and Turians in Mass Effect); they embody different combinations of warrior culture, elegant cultures, etc, but arn't simply some pure trope or bishonen elves in space like in a JRPG. Since the high golden age of TV space opera in the 90s, there has been a decline in cool alien civilizations and worlds on the small screen too:



    There are hundred of high fantasy settings in novels, and hundreds of space opera settings in novels; their cultural reach is comparable (I mean look at Star Wars, it's films are as popular as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter). High fantasy and space opera are the premiere sub-genre of their respective genres.
     
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  13. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    The fact you've never played them is extrememly disappointing.

    I wish the Starcrawler people are making a new game with the same assets that is more of a traditional crpg. It is a good game for what it does, but I never liked arpg style loot systems even in arpgs, and even though the missions were well done I just am not a huge fan of hub mission systems like that.

    The one criticism I have about the game that I am not willing to overlook is their lack of an attribute system. The combat is surprisingly good considering how lite the rpg system is. The chardev system wasn't that bad, but it wasn't that good either. At least for me. I picked the classes and trees with the most passives and that was really where the thinking stopped.
     
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  14. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Mixing SF elements into fantasy is perfectly fine, but the result is just fantasy with spaceships and blasters. So is Star Wars, for that matter.

    Star Wars is nearly 100% folklore based even if it has spaceships and blasters. It therefore belongs to the fantasy genre. I would say the same about Dune.
     
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  15. Infinitron I post news Patron

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    Grab the Codex by the pussy Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Take a look at the recent Cyberpunk 2077 video and think about what it would take to create a fully realized space opera setting.

    There's a reason why when there are space opera RPGs, they're often set on far-flung colonies, space stations and the like, and keep you away from heavily populated planets.

    Not saying a game has to have a fully realized setting, but the endless detail of modern life is something the developer would at least have to think about in this age of seamless open worlds. Fantasy and post-apoc are simpler.
     
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  16. Gregz Arcane

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    Louis_Cypher

    I highly recommend the Dune Wars mod for Civ IV.
     
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  17. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    I read a forward from an author who was mentored by some of the great sci-fi authors, like Heinlein. I forget his name. It was the forward of a sci-fi short story anthology, and I have a million of them so I'm not looking.

    He said that the difference between real sci-fi and fantasy is plausibility and possibility. Star Wars was fantasy. Stranger in a Strange land was fantasy. He went into plausibility, which was more science related. Like books that don't even make an attempt to explain science impossibilities like how speed relativity doesn't apply.

    It goes without saying his forward was a lot better than my paraphrasing, and he listed a bunch of great scientific examples for the plausibility part.
     
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  18. Shagnak Shagadelic

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    Totally agree. Hope you didn't think I was suggesting otherwise.

    I think you could replace all of Star Wars elements with traditional fantasy/S&S equivalents, and it would all still work. The Death Star might be a stretch, but hell, let's just make it a giant "Death Boat" and have it sink islands instead of blowing up planets.
     
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  19. Taka-Haradin puolipeikko Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Patron

    Taka-Haradin puolipeikko
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Bubbles In Memoria
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  20. Louis_Cypher Learned

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    I know where you are coming from, the whole Joseph Campbell angle, but the distinction for me is that the trappings attempt to at least pay lip service to naturalism, whereas in fantasy the implication is that it couldn't possibly happen in reality. Babylon 5 has been described as Tolkien-inspired-space opera, almost like a more naturalistic Lord of the Rings. So it is also folklore-based in the sense you mean, i.e. using deeply embedded moral and cultural archtypes, but it uses space and other worlds as a canvas on which to paint it's story.

    Now that I think about it, Babylon 5 is the Planescape: Torment of TV.

    Unpromising beginning, quirky outdated game engine, huge payoff.

    I don't buy this... Might be true for BioWare style RPGs with detailed character models, but that does not make any sense in regard to why there isn't a ton of indie isometric stuff with some graphics engine like Age of Decadence or UnderRail. Why no Greenlit/Kickstarted stuff in the style Wasteland 2, or Pillars of Eternity? Why is a space opera any harder than something like Tyranny?

    ...or to put it another way, why don't we have Baldur's Star-Gate? :)
     
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  21. Lazing Dirk Arcane

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    I would guess the biggest difference is the scope and background needed to make a convincing sci-fi space opera. Post-apoc is easy, you just take the current world, fuck it up, and add a few bits here and there for flavour (mutants and whatnot). Fantasy is easy if you're okay with sticking to the standard tropes; everyone already knows that dwarfs are short drunks that live in mountains, elves are poncy racist tree-huggers, and orcs/ogres/goblins/etc are ugly evil things, and you probably travel around on horseback and buy things from merchants. But unless you're writing a Star Trek game or whatever, you have to start from scratch, and there's a lot to consider. Just having it set in space at all is a problem. What technology do they use to travel in space? Wormholes? FTL? Something more conventional combined with hypersleep? How do they communicate and stay organised over such distances? Are there colonised worlds (how and where?), or just space stations? Where do they get their food and water? What sort of power source do they use? What system of government are they using? Are there robots? How advanced are they? What about AI? And how does all of this translate into gameplay (combat/travel/resource management)? Then repeat this all over again multiple times for different races, and then figure out the inter-racial politics and whatnot too, their various backgrounds, how they communicate with each other, how they met, and fit that convincingly into gameplay as well.

    If you just want to make a game about shooting things in space you can ignore a great deal of this, but in an RPG, almost everything you (and others) do will need background, motivation, and explanation.
     
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  22. Dyspaire Augur

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    Star Trek?

    Recruits??

    Away Team???

    Unexplored Alien Worlds????


    That makes no sense!
     
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  23. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    I disagree with people saying there is a huge disparity in effort from inventing a sci-fi setting/world/universe and a fantasy world.

    A far off colony on a distant world could be sparsely populated. So could one on across the ocean or bay in a fantasy world. There is no example that couldn't apply to both, unless you make a sci-fi game with tons of worlds that are extremely detailed and go way beyond what a fantasy with tons of countries that are extremely detailed could do. So then it is just a measure of sci-fi having the possibility of infinite scale no one has the time to ever realize.
     
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  24. vonAchdorf Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Not only on the developer side, on the player side too. Fantasy is better suited for escapism, because its simpler (and easier to get into) - no strange ideas, weapons and concepts to explore.

    In the PnP market, at least in Germany, the numbers are clear - fantasy makes a multiple of sci-fi in revenue. Starfinder seems to be a success, but I doubt, that it will become nearly as big as Pathfinder.
     
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  25. Roqua Prospernaut Dumbfuck Repressed Homosexual In My Safe Space

    Roqua
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    Did anyone care about modern life when they played XCom, Mass Effect, Buck Rogers, Privateer, Kotors, etc? No one gives a shit. None of it makes any sense or is slightly realistic.

    Does anyone care if a fantasy setting doesn't include somewhat realistic or plausible fiefs? Or weapons/armor? Or why Fallout 2 had so many unemployed druggies that were able to live with an expensive drug habit in a town with no income and no government welfare? No one gives a shit about anything but, "Am I having fun playing this?"
     
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