1. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Developing an alien setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Chinspinner, Jan 12, 2015.

    On this planet I have humanoid creatures of a similar size to humans, however, they are physically stronger and faster. They also rate physical prowess very highly and as such are likely to be active rather than spending inordinate amounts of time and money on labour saving devices like we do as a species.

    So here are some questions that I would like your input on: -

    Travel
    • Cars are unlikely to be necessary as travel by foot to a specific locale wouldn't be a major issue; however, a fast means of travel between hubs would be necessary. It would not need to stop at stations since it would be possible to board at relatively low speeds. It would not need to be a safe cocoon for its passengers since these aliens would find human levels of trauma quite survivable or avoidable. What would this be?
    Buildings
    • Architecture is unlikely to segregate internal and external areas given that these creatures would probably be able to employ more of a parkour method of traversing the built environment. How would this effect design?
    • Traditional walls would be an inadequate barrier to entry, what would be used in their place? How would buildings be secured?
    • Stairs are likely to be an uneconomic method of vertical travel. What would be used in their place?
    I have come up with some ideas, but any suggestions or thoughts you want to offer would be appreciated.
     
  2. SwampDog
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    SwampDog Contributing Member

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    Travel - some sort of maglev plate. A futuristic version of a flying carpet.

    Traditional walls - force field or lasers in continuous sweep.
     
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  3. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would guess transport in such a world would be initially developed for moving freight rather than people.
    Maybe all they've developed since then are rails on the side of freight transport so that people can hang on the sides.
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    My problem with force fields is that they are unnecessarily complex. I always look at forcefields on things like Star Trek and think- what's wrong with a door? It might be the future but people can't miraculously break out of a prison cell. The advantage of a door is that it has a fail-safe; if everything else goes wrong the door remains locked. Whereas with a forcefield the forcefield just vanishes; it has no fail-safes whatsoever. It is kind of an Occam's razor issue.

    Maglev works though.
     
  5. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is kind of what I was thinking. They would simply jump on the side of whatever is useful to them and hang on for a while before jumping off again. They would never bother to develop anything else because safety and comfort wouldn't be an overriding issue for them.
     
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  6. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Based on your description of a mode of transport, I'm thinking of a ski lift. How about something like that? Perhaps an over head rail (like a monorail), with a number of handles on. The creature just jumps up, grabs a handle, away he goes.

    For vertical travel, take a look at gravity lifts in Halo. They're pretty cool.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    For mass transit travel, maybe a thing like a monorail train that maybe slows a little in drop off/pick up areas. It would be open air, possibly with a roof to protect form the elements. There would be seating/standing areas along the side, and the passengers would depart by leaping off and those getting on would need to leap onto the moving rail cars, to their selected seat. Those with the most physical prowess and/or the most bold/aggressive would garner the best seats.

    Walls could be reinforced with an electrified field or a net/mesh like an electric fence.

    Just initial thoughts.
     
  8. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Some kind of canal system but you could play with the boat design and speed- aerodynamic, spacey boats with sails.

    For architecture, could they use the natural environment as a base? Fortresses built on cliff faces, cities build in a natural mountain passage? Go underground? Floating cities in water? Vertical travel (since I appear to be on a water theme here) could be waterfalls like in Minecraft zipping you up and down.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Hm.... Thing is that devices give birth to devices. What level of technology are you looking for in these creatures? Will they have had an industrial rise at some point? If so, what was the impetus for that industrial rise? You can't get to cellphones without the intermediate technologies that stepped across time, and lots of those technologies may not have seemed very practical in their inception.

    And what about larger transport for shipping? A truck is essentially a car on steroids, so if there are no cars as a first step...?

    In one of my WIP's, an alien species uses modified coral growths as living habitats.
     
  10. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like a glorified zip wire? That could work. I've played halo, and I like the idea but again it just seems unnecessarily complex as a replacement for stairs, I was thinking more of something like monkey bars.

    I like the idea of just bolting chairs to the outside of a rudimentary "train".

    Canals I'm not sure about, after all canals were killed off by rail- and this species is certainly at that level of advancement.

    This was my idea for architecture, I was thinking sort of a canyon environment and buildings carved out of the rock.
     
  11. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is interesting. Our major advancements seem to have two sources- profit and war (read power for both more fundamentally). Profit will not be a major motivational factor since the world will have a relative sparse population which means that these aliens can find their own slice of contentment without having to climb over others, and any hierarchies would be based on physical or mental prowess. Mechanised warfare would be rather frowned upon. Rather I would like to forge some sort of macro-motivation based upon wanting to further themselves as a species through technological advancements- an over-riding sense of curiosity.

    Importantly they are a predator race, and there would be an understanding that technological assistance is required to be an effective predator outside of their environment, hence an advanced space programme.

    A car is a glorified carriage is a glorified horse. But canals and then rail were widely implemented entirely separately, and were the first forms of mass freight transit. They would have no need for horses, cars or trucks, but would develop a rail system between hubs.
     
  12. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Whenever I try to come up with an alien world I like to come up with something that interconnects to everything. Reflecting who they are and their environment. Also what I'd like the reader to envision and what I can do with what I create.
    Depends - if you want to reflect a kinda earth mentality, well we used animals at one point - maybe they have an animal that can zip/fly them from one place to another. But if you want them to be technically advanced you could go with some sort of magnetic field flying carpet
    thingy or monorail depends how close you want them to resemble humans. You could examine how people use things to create motion - waves, winds maybe there is something in the atmosphere that enables them travel.


    Depending on their culture maybe most creatures respect privacy. Or you could change the building material into some 'thinking' matter. Something that shifts and accommodates the creature through thought waves or something. Depends how alien you want to get.
     
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  13. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've thought this through a little further.

    Ok, they are a predator race who live in small pockets (municipalities surrounded by wild areas) which are largely self-reliant. As such there is not a great deal of need for trade, there is no warfare outside of physical altercations, there is not a profit motive since hierarchies are largely based on physical prowess.

    I want to create a situation where the absence of selfish motives (which will remove the arms race method of developing technology- a problem) enables the sharing of information and endeavours to discover, build and improve born of curiosity. The construction of a technologically advanced widget might just be a frivolous exercise, undertaken to see if it is possible. Any shortcomings in a design will be felt deeply and there will be an almost obsessive compulsion to improve and refine.

    Not quite sure how to realistically tie up these motivations though.
     
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  14. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    Sounds a bit Athenian. You say there is no warfare or arms race- how would they value the pursuit of knowledge? You could consider religious/cult motives. Could their resources be a problem which has pushed them to improve themselves, or they could be untangling themselves from a problem brought on by a previous generation in history?
     
  15. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since you've already gotten very good advice on your species' external behaviors, I'm going to focus on
    If you're making an alien species with a different psychological core than the average human, then it's going to look unrealistic to the average human reader ;) but if your story only has non-human characters, then your intended audience has already accepted the premise that the characters' thought processes will appear bizarre from a human standpoint.

    My favorite strategy for writing around xenopsychology comes from a TVTropes article I found a couple of years back (So You Want To: Design An Alien Mind) and my favorite author for showing xenopsychology in action (although he most likely doesn't use the same strategy that I do) is Peter Watts.

    Watt's First Contact novel Blindsight and his The Thing perspective-flip short story The Things can be read for free, so I would start there if you're interested.
     
  16. Sharie
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    Sharie Member

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    I think you may want to reconsider your idea that trade won't be important. If they are living in small pockets and are at all technologically advanced, trade will absolutely be needed. When planets are formed, they don't distribute precious metals and minerals evenly across the world. Some parts of the world will have more natural resources than others; therefore, some tribes/groups will have access to stuff, or better stuff, that others won't. That tends to lead to trade or warfare or both.

    Just as an aside, and it may not be important to your story, but how will your aliens deal with crippled or handicapped individuals? Those people won't be able to get around the same athletic way the others do. You say they are a predator race - do they just eat their weaker members? Not snark; well, only a little. It may be something you want to consider as it could lead to some interesting plot twists.
     
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  17. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    You are correct regarding resources, these will need to be distributed. I was kind of stating that the aliens won't feel the need to buy the 90% of products that are unnecessary consumer crap which human's buy.

    Eugenics will operate (I won't go into detail on this here); there won't be any cannibalism but lets just say that the genes of a weaker member are unlikely to be passed onto the next generation. Crippled or handicapped individuals will be aided by their immediate family/ pack/ colleagues. Hunting is held in high esteem and providing adequate food for others would be considered a display of prowess/ pea-cocking.
     

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