Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Colony Colanders

This is a colony ship in GC3.
I was going to play No Man's Sky's latest patch, but they managed to screw up even their last remaining selling point, the pretty graphics, by refusing to load high-res textures. So until that bimbo of a game gets her hair done, I thought to revisit another one of my disappointments of recent years, Galactic Civilizations 3, which is spicing up its very dull basic gameplay by making you pay for DLC packs upon DLC packs. Hey, gettin' fleeced is an adventure in its own right, right? Right.

But hey, in all fairness, they did make some very major improvements to the game itself as well, completely free of extra bonus charges. Like, for instance, the colony ship model spins its domes now. I stared at it for a few seconds in admiration before bursting out laughing. Either they flunked their high school science classes or they really should've put a smidge more thought into this.

So, if you're into SF, you've probably seen the classic glass-domed Mothership cliché with a jolly green park for the colonists' frolicking pleasure. Why all the green? Fuck if I know, 'cause even if we genetically engineer plants to thrive in the extremely sparse energy density of interstellar radiation (look up the inverse square law) I'm guessin' good old chlorophyll won't fit the bill. How much blue and red light can there be outside the Kuiper belt? Never mind.

Let us not get distracted by the pretty lights. If it's scientific enough for twelve-year-olds reading Animorphs in the '90s, it's good enough for a sprawling multimillion-dollar "Science" Fiction strategy title in 2015. Garden domes it is. Never mind that big open spaces are kind of a no-no when you're constantly worried about micrometeoroid punctures decompressing you to death, plus it makes air circulation needlessly harder, shut up, I want my interstellar cabbage patch!

So. So: if you're into SF, you've probably also heard about spinning ships along their axis to create artificial gravity because nobody wants to float around in microgravity and do cool high-flying ninja moves; that's no fun. Also keeps your bones from liquefying over time, but that's kind of a secondary concern to "big cool spinny thing" visuals. They did it in Ender's Game and 2001 so it's legit space cowboying. So the domes now spin around the colony ship's middle. Never mind that if the point is to expose photoreceptors to light, you'd probably want just one surface, oriented continually toward your nearest light source at any one time, whatever star you're passing by, without wasting energy and spinning your ship off course. Never mind that you'd probably want to prevent any radiation from wasting off into space, so they'd be opaque from the outside.
Double lime-green spinny-domes just look cooler. Shut up. Shut up!
(Space tourists like taking pictures, okay?)

All that? That's not even the funny part. Now look at their orientation again. You're centrifuging objects outwards, meaning that's where you want to put your floor, not the ceiling. In GC3, you're basically smearing your colonists and livestock all over the glass bubbles. It's an interstellar carnival ride. Wheeee! - up until you funnel them all into a bone-crushing mosh pit at the top/bottom of the domes.

Yeah, sure, its a pulp SF video game, not a dissertation, but as with my complaints about Star Trek "science" the purely rectum-derived pretextium crystals and other make-believe don't grate nearly as much as when the book / show / game's writers and artists try to toss in something that sounds plausible, to lend themselves some legitimacy. Well, until you give it the mere second's thought which they apparently thought would put their project over-budget. Seriously, if you're paying someone to draw pretty pictures anyway, why not pretty pictures that make sense? Show some minimal effort. There's suspension of disbelief and then there's gratuitous stupidity.

Fine, the Ringworld might've been inherently unstable, but at least it wasn't upside down!

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