DarkSpartan: I apologize if I'm overstepping any boundaries with this. I was going to ask permission, but you haven't been on IRC for the past few days. Hopefully I'm not doing any harm.
Before I continue, I'd like to remind you all that we should be aiming for sandbox over RPG, so above all the story should give a simple, straightforward motive for the player to go down whatever path he chooses. One example of such a path would be space piracy. I think the story should be gritty and embrace dark humor, which would reinforce the player's ability to loot ships and raid space stations and planets and such. This would suggest a large lack of law enforcement in space. The obvious answer to this would be an end of the primary order of civilization, but there are more that I'll mention later. Other paths would be interplanetary commerce, colonization, etc. The story should give a pretext for their chosen route in the game - a simple, non-convoluted motive which doesn't require continual complicated additions to the story to keep their choices relevant.
So. The very first issue, which essentially determines the foundation for the entire story, is the reason we give for 16-bit computers coinciding with FTL space travel and planetary colonization. Obviously there's a huge gap in technology there. That goes without saying. The way I see it, these are our options, which have been discussed in other threads:
- 1. AI rebellion . Computers gain sentience, causing a war that collapses the entire previous civilization. This is why in the present day, only very archaic technology is used for computing, to prevent such a thing from happening again. I personally think this is very, very, very overdone, and it reminds me too much of Skynet and demands perhaps a too maximal complicated explanation for the scope of the story (I think) we're aiming for, but I admit that does fit the bill for explaining the gap between FTL and computing. I believe it was radar37 who came up with the original concept, and a much more detailed backstory by Taivi is available here. While I think it's a very fine story, I believe that we should aim for a more minimal, inventive background, and avoid dumping walls of text on the player.
2. A simple collapse of the entire civilization as a result of poor communication between a massive amount of remote colonies. The lack of information flow leads to large gaps in knowledge for many planets and solar systems, causing a mass decline in some areas of technology, including computing. DarkSpartan has a more detailed version here. I apologize if I misrepresented the concept, I was kind of appropriating the ideas mentioned to fit into the current problem I'm discussing. My main issue is that the backstory it's supported by would demand too specific of details for regions and cultures, which is in conflict with the random generation of the game world.
3. At the dawn of regular space colonization and commercially available spacecrafts, we simply found FTL travel in a message on the outskirts of our solar system. This is an idea I put out here in more detail. Just as interplanetary commerce and expansion towards space is starting to become commonplace, a scouting ship intercepts a mysterious radio signal looping a binary message, which is apparently several hundred million years old. The ship records it, and the scientific community studies it, eventually deciphering it, seeing that it is an unknown foreign language (probably a largely logical and practical language). Eventually it is decoded, and it is realized to be formulas describing the processes for how FTL travel can be achieved. It's immediately applied to spacecraft technology, allowing for mass space travel. In the present day, this technology is fairly new, so intergalactic expansion of civilization hasn't exactly occurred yet. I know this sounds ridiculous, but before you dismiss this, please read the full post, it's described more elegantly and detailed there.
I think this is a strong story because it offers a variety of options for what the player can set out to do, with every path equally as valid. I think it's fairly original (not that it hasn't been done at all before), and is very flexible, without requiring huge text dumps ingame. It also resolves the entire issue from one pivotal period of divergence, not requiring a lengthy chain of events leading up to the present state of things. Obviously I'm more biased towards my own idea, but the purpose of this thread is to weigh out our options and try to come up with a consensus, so critique the hell out of it if you want. The only main flaw I personally see with it are that it doesn't fully solve the problem of the distance between technologies, as they were still using 16-bit computers when space colonization started do occur, but it certainly does shorten the discrepancy by a lot, and I don't think it's asking too much from the players' suspension of disbelief. It's also the only non-post-apocalyptic one mentioned (I think), so there's not really as much capacity for dark humor.
4. We don't explain it at all. I believe this is what mrout was originally enforcing. We don't absolutely require an explanation, but given the nature of the subject, I believe that the explanation for this problem projects the entire outline of whatever story we use.
I will bring up other disputes later, but I've been typing away at this for way too long, so I'll do it later, assuming this thread even takes off.
State your cases for which path you want to take, thoroughly explaining why you think it works the best and why it specifically triumphs over the others, or write up an entirely new option if you see it fit. Keep the discussion civil, and don't take offense to any criticism. I think everyone's ideas have been great and well written so far, it's just a matter of choosing the one that fits the demands best.
EDIT: I have a few more disputes in mind right now (including the "first 5 minutes of gameplay"), but I think that until we have a resolution to this first problem, we can't accurately solve the rest. We should probably piece it together in a linear fashion.