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Thread: Space Opera VS Hard Sci-Fi, which do you prefer and WHY?

  1. #1 Space Opera VS Hard Sci-Fi, which do you prefer and WHY? 
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    Space Opera: Has some basic elements of science, since to have absolutely none pretty much puts it in the fantasy genre. Star Wars take a minimal approach, whereas Star Trek takes a more psuedoscientific approach, making a lot of theories we can't prove yet true.

    Hard Sci-Fi: Like it sounds. It's not as fun, but it is twice as dangerous. Your chances of getting killed by the environment or a malfunction are greater than getting blown up by a photon torpedo.

    A Mix: Space Opera with a few hard sci-fi elements.


    So which do you prefer and why?

    Personnally, I would love to see somebody do something like Star Trek but with newtonian maneuvers (realistic ones).

    That would make combat look different, but not too much, since the capital ships spend more time slugging it out than dodging anyway.


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    There really aren't any popular sci-fi series based on hard-science....at all. In large part because the most realistic one, 2001, was also mind numbingly boring.

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    It's about entertaining gerbil-attentioned-spanned audiences. My favorite of all sci-fi series is probably summed up in this show:
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  4. #3  
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    Space Opera makes great one-off stories. Extend it, much of your content is just trying to explain the absurdities. The Star Wars universe is about the Star Wars universe. (I love it though, as much as one might love hockey or daytime drama... or a hybrid of the two )

    As a series, Star Trek had just enough Sci-Fi to conjure plots, expedite the boring, and sprinkle with just the right amount of gee-whiz. You needn't know a lot of backstory and conventions to pick any random episode and enjoy it.

    Hard science, the plot devices are limited. And if people want to see space, not crowded close-ups of bums and and armpits, they'll be frustrated. May as well do like Das Boot, and keep the focus on characters. One hurdle for Hard Space Science is an audience does need to understand some background if it's to be believable, mundane things like "Why doesn't he float out of the chair? How is she walking on the carpeted floor? How do communications work?" So like Space Opera you waste time answering questions, but you've got to start covering perceived holes from the get-go.
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  5. #4  
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    disclaimer: I know I am talking about a game, not a movie, but my point is still valid.

    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned. A lot of space games have been based on it, including the widely successful EVE Online. Now, in the first game they did not have realistic Newtonian flight. But in other releases they had full-flown Newtonian physics. This was supposed to be a selling point of the game, but in fact it was a huge failure, as "too realistic" just proves impossible to fly, making dogfighting extremely boring and tedious. The future release of Elite: Dangerous will stray away from too much realism (a good move).

    In conclusion: there is enough realistic physics in real life. Sci-fi is more fun if we use a little imagination and include things that could be. Literature should include imagination (especially sci-fi), otherwise it can end up quite dull.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    disclaimer: I know I am talking about a game, not a movie, but my point is still valid.

    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned. A lot of space games have been based on it, including the widely successful EVE Online. Now, in the first game they did not have realistic Newtonian flight. But in other releases they had full-flown Newtonian physics. This was supposed to be a selling point of the game, but in fact it was a huge failure, as "too realistic" just proves impossible to fly, making dogfighting extremely boring and tedious. The future release of Elite: Dangerous will stray away from too much realism (a good move).

    In conclusion: there is enough realistic physics in real life. Sci-fi is more fun if we use a little imagination and include things that could be. Literature should include imagination (especially sci-fi), otherwise it can end up quite dull.
    I have to say that I finally agree with you.

    Envision two spaceships racing in an asteroid field.

    One is newtonian. The other flies like an airplane (like elite, pitch and roll only, which means your just rotating your pitch, I played it before).

    Which one has a better chance of beating the other in a race through the asteroid field.

    The airplane, because the Newtonian will be drifting every time it moves, and will have to compensate for it. If it dodges an asteroid ahead, it will be going down, and oh no! There's one below, but I have to slow down my momentum before i can dodge that one! Never mind the fact that your forward momentum is still going, and you might still drift into one ahead of you.

    Yeah, I can see why airplanes are pretty much justified. It's the difference between walking and crawling in space.

    I actually favor Elite, or Ooolite, which shows ships maneuvering with pitch and roll maneuvers only. Gives them just enough where flight requires skill without god-modding it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lorbo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    disclaimer: I know I am talking about a game, not a movie, but my point is still valid.

    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned. A lot of space games have been based on it, including the widely successful EVE Online. Now, in the first game they did not have realistic Newtonian flight. But in other releases they had full-flown Newtonian physics. This was supposed to be a selling point of the game, but in fact it was a huge failure, as "too realistic" just proves impossible to fly, making dogfighting extremely boring and tedious. The future release of Elite: Dangerous will stray away from too much realism (a good move).

    In conclusion: there is enough realistic physics in real life. Sci-fi is more fun if we use a little imagination and include things that could be. Literature should include imagination (especially sci-fi), otherwise it can end up quite dull.
    I have to say that I finally agree with you.

    Envision two spaceships racing in an asteroid field.

    One is newtonian. The other flies like an airplane (like elite, pitch and roll only, which means your just rotating your pitch, I played it before).

    Which one has a better chance of beating the other in a race through the asteroid field.

    The airplane, because the Newtonian will be drifting every time it moves, and will have to compensate for it. If it dodges an asteroid ahead, it will be going down, and oh no! There's one below, but I have to slow down my momentum before i can dodge that one! Never mind the fact that your forward momentum is still going, and you might still drift into one ahead of you.

    Yeah, I can see why airplanes are pretty much justified. It's the difference between walking and crawling in space.

    I actually favor Elite, or Ooolite, which shows ships maneuvering with pitch and roll maneuvers only. Gives them just enough where flight requires skill without god-modding it.
    Well, they went back to the good old original method (with an option to turn on Newtonian physics).

    It is by will alone I set my mind in motion.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lorbo View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    disclaimer: I know I am talking about a game, not a movie, but my point is still valid.

    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned. A lot of space games have been based on it, including the widely successful EVE Online. Now, in the first game they did not have realistic Newtonian flight. But in other releases they had full-flown Newtonian physics. This was supposed to be a selling point of the game, but in fact it was a huge failure, as "too realistic" just proves impossible to fly, making dogfighting extremely boring and tedious. The future release of Elite: Dangerous will stray away from too much realism (a good move).

    In conclusion: there is enough realistic physics in real life. Sci-fi is more fun if we use a little imagination and include things that could be. Literature should include imagination (especially sci-fi), otherwise it can end up quite dull.
    I have to say that I finally agree with you.

    Envision two spaceships racing in an asteroid field.

    One is newtonian. The other flies like an airplane (like elite, pitch and roll only, which means your just rotating your pitch, I played it before).

    Which one has a better chance of beating the other in a race through the asteroid field.

    The airplane, because the Newtonian will be drifting every time it moves, and will have to compensate for it. If it dodges an asteroid ahead, it will be going down, and oh no! There's one below, but I have to slow down my momentum before i can dodge that one! Never mind the fact that your forward momentum is still going, and you might still drift into one ahead of you.

    Yeah, I can see why airplanes are pretty much justified. It's the difference between walking and crawling in space.

    I actually favor Elite, or Ooolite, which shows ships maneuvering with pitch and roll maneuvers only. Gives them just enough where flight requires skill without god-modding it.
    Well, they went back to the good old original method (with an option to turn on Newtonian physics).

    Why would ANYONE want to turn on newtonian physics!? Maybe the ones who wanna see what REAL space combat would be like. But when fighting against airplanes, a newtonian is more than likely gonna get owned when airplane flying missiles start locking onto it.

    The turn and flip to blast the guy behind you maneuver will lose all value when the guy gets smart and just starts spamming missiles.

    I seriously doubt the missiles fly newtonian style.
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    This guy is taking forever to kill an airplane maneuvering ship while he's flying newtonian style. It takes him a WHOLE four minutes, and the target isn't even fighting back.

    Yeah, newtonian would get you killed fast if fighting against airplanes that want you dead. Especially airplane missiles.
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  10. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned.
    Yeah, it was the greatest work of genius in video game history, mind-boggling that just two individuals made the entire thing. But therein lies the problem. David Braben become a litigative a-hole who frightens investors, and his estranged brainiac partner Ian Bell drifted away to Bobby-Fischer-land. Ironically it was Bell's opinion pure simulation detracts from gameplay, that split that team. I assume if Braben can find ways to mismanage and bug-up this next attempt by his company, he will.

    That's just disgust, but it's an outrage that for nearly 30 years mean spirits have been blocking other developers from copying the best aspects of the original Elite. Even Microsoft steered around that guy's private property.
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  11. #10  
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    Am I the only person distrubed by the fact that we appear to be associating science fiction with films and gaming? I much prefer my science fiction, soft or hard, in written form. The special effects are much more dramtic and convincing.
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    If I'm going to watch a movie like Star Wars, I prefer them to leave the science out of it. I remember having to turn the movie off for a bit when Qui-Gon Jinn started explaining midi-chlorians. My brain felt like it caught fire.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Galt View Post
    Am I the only person distrubed by the fact that we appear to be associating science fiction with films and gaming? I much prefer my science fiction, soft or hard, in written form. The special effects are much more dramtic and convincing.
    Some games are vehicles for damn good writing. For example Star Wars KoTOR is essentially a choose-your-own-adventure novel. The bulk of "play" is dialog.
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    IMO Whatever one has more cats in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lorbo View Post

    A Mix: Space Opera with a few hard sci-fi elements.
    I guess here you have really hit the nail on the head, it's the grandiose all encompassing sci-fi universes pulled deep from the imagination that really thrill me, but again whilst I genuinely enjoy this aspect I guess it's detailed precise discriptive elements that really give it that sense of credibility, so it's not to hard to actually find believable at a reason level of disbelief suspension. The closer these details are to actually being correct the easier it is to accept the story as a whole.

    This is at least for me I guess what can be a real deal breaker, if you're reading something and everytime it comes to the nitty gritty you find yourself question the physics involved it's much harder to really just go with the flow and truely enjoy the storyline. So to me at least I think all really great sci-fi should be built upon actual science and carried forward with imagination and creativity used to take the story or technology forward in a plausable way.

    BTW, though I enjoy a good sci-fi movie as much as the next person I have say I thoroughly agree with John here, true space opera is best enjoyed in written format. Possibly one of the reasons for this is the amount that can be packed into a movie is usually just a pale shadow of the real story upon which a script is based, meaning there is so much more in a book that is left unsaid/unshown by the film, well at least that is just my personal opinion.
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    Aerodynamics is universally superior to thrust vectoring? You might want to let NATO know about that.
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  17. #16  
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    I think some of the more exceptional sci fi films are the 5th Element and Blade Runner and my favorite sci fi tv shows were Babylon 5 and the BBC series of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the books are better but this adaptation I think did very well. I often wonder if anyone will ever do a movie for Venus on the half shell.
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  18. #17  
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    I prefer hardcore scifi.
    Most scifi just uses the science to move their standard romance or adventure story along. The unfortunate result is either Cowboys in Space or Don Juan in Space.
    (examples too numerous to mention from Startrek through Star Wars to Avatar)
    The other route is when the story is used to move the science along and the purpose is to explore the underlying concepts of the science instead of the social drama. This seldom makes it into a movie, even when it was quite explicit in the book the movie was based on.
    An example of that would be the movie "I am Legend" and the I Am Legend novel. The novel is about evolution and how one species replaces another. It is the ideas presented that matter, but in the movie the emphasis changes to romance and heroism instead.
    The same problem with Blade Runner/Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

    If it is well done the space operas can be interesting by exploring social issues just as long as you recognize the science in them is pure Applied Phlebotinum and exists only to move the plot along.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by pyoko View Post
    There was a great game called Elite. It is perhaps the greatest game ever envisioned.
    Yeah, it was the greatest work of genius in video game history, mind-boggling that just two individuals made the entire thing. But therein lies the problem. David Braben become a litigative a-hole who frightens investors, and his estranged brainiac partner Ian Bell drifted away to Bobby-Fischer-land. Ironically it was Bell's opinion pure simulation detracts from gameplay, that split that team. I assume if Braben can find ways to mismanage and bug-up this next attempt by his company, he will.

    That's just disgust, but it's an outrage that for nearly 30 years mean spirits have been blocking other developers from copying the best aspects of the original Elite. Even Microsoft steered around that guy's private property.
    What? o.O" Are you trapped in the 90's?
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