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View Full Version : Tech marches on in Sci-fi games.



GoblinGilmartin
2015-10-07, 12:47 PM
I've never run (and only briefly played) Shadowrun. I was wondering, as technology changes, so do games like that one.

I've always loved the way that the early 90's saw the future of technology. Digital Devil Story, early Matrix, the Ripper PC game, Deckers and the perceived "Golden age of hacking" type stuff. So how do players these days reconcile that? The world has changed, technology is used differently. But how do you bring that stuff back into a game or story without it being too strange?

Milo v3
2015-10-07, 06:46 PM
Cyberemo and Cyberhipster rather than cyberpunk?

Mark Hall
2015-10-07, 06:57 PM
I think some of the social advances are likewise interesting. The early Shadowrun stuff, for example, very heavily emphasized an anarchist angle. You were "Sticking it to the Man(tm)" with your out-there cyberpunk lifestyle. They included archetypes for Rockers and Reporters and the like. Early Supplements were "The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to North America" and "The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life", and that was the voice that carried through a lot of the early stuff.

But as the game went on, it went less anarchist, more dispossessed. You were attempting to survive as an illegal person using an illegal profession. You were less likely to be a pink-mohawked gutterpunk and more likely to be a mercenary in mirrorshades and a trenchcoat (in fact, Fields of Fire specifically called out the mohawked gutterpunk). You stopped wild-firing your Uzi III and started packing a taser because killing people was expensive.

Anonymouswizard
2015-10-07, 07:13 PM
And then murdering entire corporate sites became the cool thing to do (why did we let those people on JackPoint again?)

The key thing about Shadowrun tech is a lot of advances seem to happen 50-70 years later than in the real world. So the tools have changed along with the feel. VR has been replaced by AR in a lot of circumstances (and I personally want to just pull out the Matrix entirely and import Eclipse Phase's Mesh and Mesh implants, as my homebrew cyberpunk setting has the 'net work), and hackers are theoretically more likely to go on a run (bare in mind they tried to solve the 'decker supports from home' problem in both 4e and 5e, as well as possibly 3e). The tone is more of a change than the tech though (mainly because wireless is the only obvious thing Shadowrun in particular overlooked).

I'm interested as to how future advances will affect the genre though, specifically 'far future cyberpunk' like Eclipse Phase (don't try to say it isn't part of the genre, it's just a VERY weird example). It's entirely possible new fields of science will develop or old theories disproven that will really call into question the validity of their tech base (especially as I've recently had an argument about whether AI is even possible, coming down to 'human AI causes hard-takeoff singularity' versus my 'xenosapient* doesn't understand we are sapient, and doesn't interfere' theory', before I realised that the person I was talking to didn't understand that the 'three laws of robotics' never backfired in the ways the claims they did in Asimov's stories).

* Alien mind, I just like the term xenosapient, and have it be an official definition in my sci-fi universes.

Mark Hall
2015-10-07, 07:17 PM
I'm interested as to how future advances will affect the genre though, specifically 'far future cyberpunk' like Eclipse Phase (don't try to say it isn't part of the genre, it's just a VERY weird example).

Eclipse Phase has a lot in common with the more modern cyberpunk of Williams and Morgan... a lot more transhumanist (though, I think early Shadowrun can certainly be read as having transhumanist issues).

Anonymouswizard
2015-10-07, 07:21 PM
Eclipse Phase has a lot in common with the more modern cyberpunk of Williams and Morgan... a lot more transhumanist (though, I think early Shadowrun can certainly be read as having transhumanist issues).

To be fair, little sci-fi outside of cyberpunk really bothers with the transhuman angle. I'll have to look up Williams and Morgan, can I get the full names or story titles?

I did hear an interesting definition of cyberpunk, in that it's all about the technology (not my personal definition, I use 'it's about the effects of new advances', but close enough), which was the first thing that made me realise that the only thing that makes EP not seem like cyberpunk is that the Hypercorps don't control the entire system.

Milo v3
2015-10-07, 07:26 PM
Eclipse Phase sorta feels like the opposite of cyberpunk in some ways, I mean, you have freedom, you have individuality, you can be who you want to be, you can fabricate anything you want so corporations aren't superpowerful.... Instead of technology holding society back, it pushed it forward.

Lord Raziere
2015-10-07, 07:34 PM
Eclipse Phase sorta feels like the opposite of cyberpunk in some ways, I mean, you have freedom, you have individuality, you can be who you want to be, you can fabricate anything you want so corporations aren't superpowerful.... Instead of technology holding society back, it pushed it forward.

transhumanism is the opposite of cyberpunk. its all about how the future is supposed to change us. cyberpunk is about how the future won't change us at all. and I like Eclipse Phase for that

mind you, it doesn't stop some people from trying to not change, but there are always people like that.

Mark Hall
2015-10-07, 07:47 PM
To be fair, little sci-fi outside of cyberpunk really bothers with the transhuman angle. I'll have to look up Williams and Morgan, can I get the full names or story titles?

David J. Williams, first book is Mirrored Heavens.

Richard K. Morgan. His Takeshi Kovacs series runs Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. Thirteen ("Black Man" in the UK) is set in the same universe, but a few centuries earlier... stuff taken as commonplace in Broken Angels is experimental or controversial in Thirteen. Market Forces is entirely separate, and has some of the gonzo of early Shadowrun.


I did hear an interesting definition of cyberpunk, in that it's all about the technology (not my personal definition, I use 'it's about the effects of new advances', but close enough), which was the first thing that made me realise that the only thing that makes EP not seem like cyberpunk is that the Hypercorps don't control the entire system.


transhumanism is the opposite of cyberpunk. its all about how the future is supposed to change us. cyberpunk is about how the future won't change us at all. and I like Eclipse Phase for that

mind you, it doesn't stop some people from trying to not change, but there are always people like that.

"What can change the nature of a man?" :smallbiggrin:

Anonymouswizard
2015-10-07, 07:59 PM
David J. Williams, first book is Mirrored Heavens.

Richard K. Morgan. His Takeshi Kovacs series runs Altered Carbon, Broken Angels, and Woken Furies. Thirteen ("Black Man" in the UK) is set in the same universe, but a few centuries earlier... stuff taken as commonplace in Broken Angels is experimental or controversial in Thirteen. Market Forces is entirely separate, and has some of the gonzo of early Shadowrun.

I'll nab it on my kindle this weekend (one of them at any rate).


"What can change the nature of a man?" :smallbiggrin:

Getting a new computer, installing that game and beating it.

GungHo
2015-10-08, 09:51 AM
"What can change the nature of a man?" :smallbiggrin:
Pervasive wifi.

Segev
2015-10-08, 11:17 AM
The thrust of the OP and title, I think, is the struggle to identify the concept of zeerust (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Zeerust). That is, what the future "used to" look like, through the eyes of past eras.

The future looks different as our expectations change.

Compare, say, 2015 in Back To The Future Part II, to our real 2015. We have communications and computing tech that is much more compact and faster, and ideas like faxes printing ticker-tape messages in-house are almost quaint, but the tech for clothing, movies, and vehicles is entirely beyond our real-world capabilities right now.

A lot of cyberpunk-type games show this evolution by quietly incorporating the tech they hadn't thought of that's already been invented: smartphones, earbuds, etc. become inherent parts of extra-miniaturized equipment. How the OTHER tech changes is more interesting as we investigate what we THINK we'll be able to invent.

Mark Hall
2015-10-08, 11:38 AM
I'll nab it on my kindle this weekend (one of them at any rate).

Remember your library! It may well have free access to ebooks through vendors.

Beleriphon
2015-10-09, 11:21 AM
Compare, say, 2015 in Back To The Future Part II, to our real 2015. We have communications and computing tech that is much more compact and faster, and ideas like faxes printing ticker-tape messages in-house are almost quaint, but the tech for clothing, movies, and vehicles is entirely beyond our real-world capabilities right now.

Like Mr Fusion? I'm still waiting for the top end of my juicer to let me run my car on food waste.