Saturday, March 21, 2015

Trek to the Stars pt 7: The Inevitable Machine Uprising

In this post I am going to talk a bit more about the setting for Trek to the Stars, and all that. I am also going to talk about an area of design that I normally do not pay much attention to. I am going to talk about when you reach the point where you have to decide what to do with your game. Mostly, when I make a game for this site, I just go until the muse no longer strikes and then I let the idea lay fallow. After talking with some of my friends and fellow designers I have decided that I would be better served by finishing up these projects and putting them out all polished and gleaming. So that is what I am going to do. I will start with this project; my goal is to have a working beta document ready by mid April. From there I will start a fairly low key kickstarter to get editing, art, and layout done. Then I will release it to the world as a pay what you want pdf and also do some sort of print on demand bit. After that, I will move on to other projects that are near completion: Heartbreaker, Omnis Mundi, and Where the Antelope play. I also have a bunch of other ideas that keep springing into my head, so look for those in the future as well. Don't worry about Jadepunk, though. I will still be putting out books for that. It is just that I have spent so much time focusing on that single project that my other work has started to slide a bit. This is my attempt to get back in the saddle, to get designing the other stuff that I always wanted to do.

All that said lets get to the design bits, yeah? For those who haven't been following this project, or want to refamiliarize themselves with it, here are the previous posts:
The initial idea
Part 1 Influences and basic pitch
Part 2 Skill Roll Basics
Part 3 Campaign Frameworks
Part 4 History in brief and major technologies
Part 5 I talk about Keys and Secrets 
Part 6 The basic timeline and a description of the clades and uplifts

Last time I talked about the genetic engineering side of things. This time I would like to delve into the mechanical and technological side of the equation.

Computing
Quantum Computers: The advent of the quantum computer changed everything. For most folk in the system, it was just a faster and more reliable computer. To those into advanced mathematics, economics, or artificial intelligence research it the quantum computer opened the universe. When the quantum computer was first invented, those who had it used it to crash every market on earth for over ten years. Only when the nations and corporations changed over to quantum cryptography that things began to improve and even then it was the discovery of fusion that managed to pull the economy out a decade long slump.

The Internet
During the Last War the Internet was struck, and struck hard. It was a line of communication and could not be allowed. Satellites were destroyed, wires cut, severs were wiped out. By the end of the war the nature of computer networks had changed. Much information was lost or fragmented during the war, but a lot was taken outward in the second diaspora. Networks are now far more centralized and controlled. Server farms are hidden and guarded

Artificial Intelligence
During the first diaspora artificial intelligence came to be. Several labs managed the feat within months of each other. At the time few laws existed to deal with man made sapience. this was quickly rectified and within twenty years Artificial Intelligences were considered capable of being citizens like any human. That said there is still a great deal of distrust and prejudice against Constructed Intelligences(their preferred term). Some folks do not believe the results of the Ferrera-Tannous Test are accurate, that these beings are only mimicking sapience. Currently a Constructed Intelligence requires a massive quantum computer with massive constant power needs. Most are housed in satellites or space ships, interacting with the external world through drones.

Transportation
Transportation of the future is manifold. From Vactrains traversing the Atlantic and across multiple continents to Ground effect vehicles and vacuum balloons, there are more ways to get around now than at any time in the past. The biggest advance has been in the area of space travel. Cheep fusion reactors and mass drivers drove the race into space. Currently there are two main drives in use Solar Sails and Fusion Drive Rockets. Solar sails are cheep, but slow. One can increase one's speed by hiring a laser array to increase the ships speed. Fusion Drive Rockets(called "Rosies" in the engineering vernacular) are used primarily for military uses and other uses that require a fast burn. They are far to costly for most normal travel needs. Primarily ships are use for trade purposes, bringing He^3 and other materials out to, and back from, the edges of human occupied space.

Cybernetics
There are a great many ways to augment the human body. Possibly the most invasive is biomechtronic human enhancement, often called(erroneously) cybernetics. Most folks who get enhanced in this way are replacing damaged limbs or organs. The ones who do not are viewed with great distrust. People who remove parts of themselves to gain some perceived advantage are seen as somewhat unstable.
  • Spartan: the cyborgs who focus on enhancing their own bodies with prosthesis are known as Spartans, after the ancient Greek warriors. Their enhancements are the most varied of the human augmentations. They tend toward protections and combat enhancements, though there are stories of those given prosthesis as a form of control. 
  • Collectivites: They sit in the secret stations hidden throughout the system. They seek to transcend humanity. Using quantum computers and brain machine interfaces they have merged their minds(mostly). They interact with the outside world using remote controlled robot drones. However they are still connected to meat space. They have yet to transcend their bodies. They sit in armored shells filled with nutrients and a mild electric current to stimulate their muscles to prevent atrophy. Full mind upload is the dream, and it is still a long way off. Those who have tried managed to upload...something, but what remained within the quantum computer was not human. They were not safe. The transfer loses all but the darkest parts of the human soul(if there is such a thing).
Major Tech Corporations
W-Y Corp: Born of the merger between two mega-corporations W-Y Corp produces anything and everything that people need. They control 4% of every market in the system. That may not seem like much, but it makes them the largest corporation in the solar system. There have been many allegations of shady dealings and cover ups, but they hold such power that they are considered a sovereign entity when dealing with governments.
Omni Corp: The leading edge of the drone market, while also working to break into the field of mechanical augmentation. They have recently mad a deal with one of the moons of Uranus to build better soldiers in their near constant warfare with their neighbors.
Tai Rel Corp: Leading the field in genetic engineering. they are currently focused entirely on building better life forms to survive the harsh conditions in Venus' atmosphere.
Cyber Systems: They created the first quantum computers and still are leaders in the field. Recently they have been fighting an economic war against their chief rival HMI.
Hueristic Modeling Inc: An upstart computer company that made a splash recently by outbidding Cyber Systems for a military contract with the Saturnian Regency.

So that is what I have for this post. Let me know what you think.