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Alien0 - Issues & Problems


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#1 Jules

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 08:44 PM

A pre-emptive thread for issues and problems; feel free to comment, or meta-comment.

1) Sound Quality
Early on, especially, it's pretty damn bad.

2) Population
Not only are there a few too many suspicious NPCs, but the visited systems are too densely-populated to be in proper synch with the events of the first film. (I think I was swayed by the colonial-era descriptions given in the Aliens RPG.) On reflection, the total population of either the Chitin or Acheron systems should be no more than 50-100 each, and should primarily be made up of desolate, automated orbital platforms which are awaiting provisioning. The gas-mining station should be the most populated site on Chitin, and the WY platforms at Acheron should be a skeleton-crew affair, with the majority of staff in hypersleep.

3) Metrics
Lengths, weights, distances, ages, and especially times are a near-total fudgefest in Alien0. Generally, you'll hear me fudging so as to avoid stimying the players, and perhaps encourage them in certain directions.

4) Sandbox Issues
Alien0 is meant to be more sandboxy than not, with several parallel avenues of investigation readied for the players, and with a referee who is willing to support ones developed by the players until he can connect them back into a major narrative thread. This becomes tricky with the presence of a helpful NPC like the party's android assistant Eliza (especially if players arrive in a system, show their android a photo of the mysterious anomaly, and tell her to "find it", presumably while they eat, sleep and pump iron) and did occasion some explicit hints (i.e. explicitly suggesting that there are more efficient ways to achieve goals than a simple reliance upon a drawn-out sifting of hundreds of planetoids within the Acheron system).

5) Disputes
Always tricky to handle, especially if players and referees fall into hedging strategies which rely upon currently-fictitious technicalities (i.e. faster-than-light travel). The main issue of this type came up in connection to defensive and/or stealthy tactics in connection with interplanetary travel. This came about due to my in-game fudge between Alien RPG and Traveller RPG re starship drives. If doing this campaign again, I would set up some rules: all spacetravel worthy of the name involves Alcubierre-like systems which warp spacetime; consequently ships using such drives are not easily detectable via radar or mass-detectors, but they do leave a residual warp trace which can be tracked, though this requires one to slow down to avoid error. That basic combination would allow for ships not broadcasting their presence via electromagnetic emissions (a practice which would be compromised by warping, of course) some stealth-like capability, but also allow careful pursuit at a lessened speed.

http://en.wikipedia....lcubierre_drive

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#2 Jules

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 03:07 AM

6) Antigravity
Of course, Traveller RPG is full of gravitics tech and Aliens RPG most certainly isn't. The final episode features a scene which allows the player characters to deal with antagonists in a greatly-simplified, rather high-handed manner. If doing it again, there'd be no Air Rafts. Players need to walk around amongst the danger, I think, to feel the fear properly.

7) Atmosphere
Tricky trying to emulate the visual tone of a film like 'Alien' in succinct, verbal terms. Rather than rely on long descriptions, I decided to rely on understatement and odd situations to build unease. Typically, violating banal expectations seemed to work best (e.g. having elevators not be conveniently waiting) rather than complex, set-pieces. Probably the best one (in my opinion) involves iterations of a familiar object, in that it seemed to build player unease over time (and justifiably so, from a plot perspective).
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#3 Jules

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Posted 31 January 2012 - 04:07 AM

8 Giving a Rat's Ass
"There was no Ash in my original script. They added that. The idea being here that all scripts must have a sub-plot. Simply to have a single plot by itself is inadequate. All stories must have sub-plots. So they created a sub-plot. Ian Holm gives a brilliant performance, and it's brilliantly directed by Ridley, but if you stop and think about it, if it wasn't in there, what difference would it make, one way or the other? I mean, who gives a rat's ass? I mean, so somebody is a robot... So, I think it's an inferior idea, from inferior minds, well-acted and well-directed. And fortunately, it occupies little enough screentime that it doesn't disrupt the main plot." Dan O'Bannon, 'Alien' DVD commentary track.

As it turns out, this small sub-plot, apparently added late by the producers, is pivotal for the plot of Alien0. So, although we have to respect Mr O'Bannon's work and memory, I think that this element deepens the story a great deal, and actually provides a logical basis for the otherwise-incoherent narrative which is presented over the first film, and the later series; so, it's pivotal for Alien0. (To explain further would be spoiler territory, however, for those who haven't listened to Alien0.)
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#4 Jules

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 02:57 PM

Uh oh.

Looks like Alcubierre drives might just turn out to be a good way of sterilising everything at your destination point.

Here is a conclusion from a recent physics paper on the topic.

These results suggest that any ship using an Alcubierre warp drive carrying people would need shielding to protect them from potential dangerously blueshifted particles during the journey, and any people at the destination would be gamma ray and high energy particle blasted into oblivion due to the extreme blueshifts for P+ region particles.

Those pesky alien engineers needn't have bothered with their fancy-pants, civilisation-culling xenomorphs, perhaps.

http://www.universet... ... -final.pdf

Oops.
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