Posts Tagged 'Gravity'

Damien Walter, at the tail end of last year, published a piece in The Guardian saying that good sci-fi writing had the chance to hold its own against the spectacle of modern videogames. While he was right that most sci-fi games are terribly written, the scope of imagination currently being unleashed within this space is worrying to any scribbler.

Take Inner Space, which reached its Kickstarter goal last year. It’s a game that I personally invested in simply because of its premise and the beautiful execution crafted by Tyler Tomaseski’s team. As the pilot of a glider within a Dyson sphere world, it’s up to the player to unearth artefacts that upgrade your craft and enable deeper exploration. The developer’s promotional video projects a real, alien sense of place, even if the underlying narrative
remains untested.

British developer Hello Games also brings No Man’s Sky to this new wave of sci-fi themed experiences. An entirely procedurally generated universe, if offers one of the most opulent and diverse environs of any space shooter to date. Again, though, is there a good and strong narrative thread holding the player’s attention across this kaleidoscopic galaxy? We shall see.

Around a year ago, the film Gravity featured on the site with the cautious consideration as to whether the opening scene of The Stars My Destination could sustain a feature length level of attention. The answer, in hindsight, was it absolutely could. So no surprise then that Three One Zero have decided there’s millage in generating a game around the same premise (see Adrift trailer above).

Of the three games, the immediacy of a survival story seems the most potent. But it’s still not enough to address the deficit caused by so many bad game plots. Interestingly though, as the discipline of gaming and generating virtual worlds spills out, cross-over projects from the wider artistic community seem to be on the increase.

The Nether is just such an example of this breakout. Making its West End transfer from the Royal Court Theatre, the play deals with issues around what is and isn’t morally acceptable within a virtual world. While not as overtly sci-fi as the games above, it does describe an increasing acceptance of genre tropes as a way of questioning issues within our technically saturated world.

So the written/performed word amplifying its message through VR. Which brings everything nicely back to the title of the post and Ernie Cline, who has already created a beautiful game culture/scifi amalgamation with Ready Player One. News is he’s working on a sequel to his 2011 bestseller. Now all we need is for someone to persuade him to script a game.

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The Right Stuff

Space exploration is cool. It always has been. Take the tale of Neil Armstrong ejecting from the Apollo 11 lander trainer seconds before it crashed. Minutes after the incident, he was found in his office, casually chatting to other base staff with no reference to his near death experience. The man had a hangar load of right stuff cool.

Previously on Drozbot, we’ve reported on some of the coolest elements of space travel – the solution to the Mars rover landing being just one exceptional case. But in all of these robots, rather than people, have taken precedence.

Let’s redress that now with Chris Hadfield’s rendition of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, played from the International Space Station. Through this the commander was instantly propelled to the top of the charts as far as the nerdcore were concerned. Despite his entertaining performance, the cupola on the ISS remains the intellectual property of Tracey Caldwell Dyson and her evocative contemplation of our planet.

Another slice of extra-terrestrial hipness from 2013 was Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity. As well as putting women in space front and centre, the movie brilliantly highlighted the fragility of human existence when framed against the vast hostility of space. And it’s precisely this hostility that Richard Branson is now wrestling with. Whatever your thoughts about the entrepreneur, the endeavour to get commercial space flight up and running is inherently stylish, and it’s a shame that Virgin Galactic now faces a major set back after the death of test pilot Michael Alsbury. Respect due to the deceased, though, for paying the ultimate price and for playing his part in humanity’s prospects of survival.

Today, with the audacious Rosetta comet mission, we have Dr Matt Taylor who has brought some much needed knockabout humour to space flight. Yes, his recent wardrobe malfunction was openly offensive, and his achievements came at no physical risk to himself, but he remains about as far from the traditional ‘slide rule’ stereotype of a space scientist as you can get.

So is this all the result of a generational tipping point, a sudden influx of people to positions of influence who were originally motivated by the space race and the stars of the Apollo program? Possibly. What it does collectively represent, is a much more robust, less stuffy approach to exploration beyond Earth which I, for one, am more than willing to advocate.

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