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News: Paul & Fred have reached a settlement with Stardock!

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: January 30, 2019, 10:58:21 am
I remember a very old game someone made.
You used a ZFP-Stinger to push a ball around and try to push it into the opponent's goal.
He named it Frungy.
I think that was closest to what I ever saw of Frungy being used in commerce.
The game never really caught on.
It's so long ago, my google-Fu fails me....

You used to be able to find a link to it on Pages of Now and Forever's clones listing. From the Way Back Machine:
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: December 05, 2018, 08:11:23 pm

To be clear, this is a paper that performs an argumentative literary analysis. It does not cite any scientific studies to back up its argument. I read a fair bit of these and have written a number myself. They provide a useful insight into how people are interpreting literature and can offer a reader either a new way of looking at texts or provide arguments for readers to pick apart... and not just fellow academics. If you take college English courses you will very quickly encounter professors who bring up papers like this to highlight counter arguments and eventually you will be asked to make your own arguments against those made in published papers.

The point is that there are tons of papers offering new or fringe ideas (in this case, the author clearly states that this is a new-ish idea and her goal is to encourage more people to take a look at the issue), and students are expected to learn not to blindly believe whatever an author of a paper tells them, but to independently analyze these ideas for themselves. Look and you will probably find a paper by an accomplished professor with a long C.V. arguing that Mary Shelley did not write "Frankenstein;" her husband did. Practically any way you can think of looking at literature will be reflected in literary criticism, so if you want to support your own criticism, by all means find someone with a title who has a published paper that supports your idea to cite, but I wouldn't use them if asked to provide outside scientific data. This is an interesting argument, it's definitely worth reading, but it doesn't prove anything.

As to the substance of the argument itself; it makes a valid point that fantasy and religious texts have historically been linked. I think I mentioned earlier in this thread that heroic epics, for example, are meant to provide a basis for which to promote "good" behaviors for listeners to emulate. Figures like Beowulf and Odysseus are models for how to treat women, outsiders, kinsmen, leaders, and even how to worship.

Modern fiction can similarly attempt to influence readers by overvaluing/praising the devoutness of characters or it can attempt to push readers to think critically by having characters question religion. Fantasy does both, science fiction does both. All major genres of fiction do both. I maintain that people who are inclined to be influenced by the former (or to see truth in fictional narratives that use fictional religions in a neutral way) are predisposed toward religious beliefs in the first place and the solution is not to make blanket rants against entire genres, which contain a diversity of approaches, but to educate people on how to tell the difference between fiction and reality. Fiction, to me, is about exposure to different ideas and perspectives, so whether someone is attempting to use it push an agenda that I disagree with or not does not determine whether a work has value to me. I enjoy heroic epics (e.g. The Epic of Gilgamesh), despite them essentially being vehicles for propaganda, because a careful study of them offers a glimpse into the ideals that authors living in different cultures and times thought worthwhile to promote.

Toward the end of this author's paper, she tries to claim that simply reading about fiction with different realms opens up readers to that idea. This is the paper's biggest failing. She does not prove that there's a link between reading fantasy and being open to fantastical ideas and she is only presenting her imagined reaction young people might have after reading a singular book series. She does not consider how people would react to reading a wider range of fantasy from different authors with different and contradictory frameworks. Nor does she question if doing so from a critical eye is actually good way to develop a sense of how myth, legend, and religion is artificially created.


We have the same thing here in that it's just someone's non-scientific argument.

What is more, by inviting readers and viewers to immerse themselves in story-worlds in which supernatural beings and powers are evidently real, supernatural fiction constitutes a ‘plausibility structure’ for religious belief. Spokespersons for alternative religions, including Brian Bates and James Redfield, have recognised this and have strategically used fiction to spread their message.

Again, science fiction does this same thing with aliens and the like. You have people running around thinking alien abductions are real, an an actual religion called Scientology that is based off of a science fiction writer's ideas, and many 20th century cults where the end goal is to "get on the spaceship." I think it's is a mistake to blame fiction for people being unable to differentiate between fiction and reality; that is a pre-existing issue that they have. When I read speculative fiction I understand that the ideas presented to me are real within the framework of the story that I am reading only. I do not assume they have any basis in the real world. Pointing to some people who have a difficult time doing this, does not make the fiction itself bad (if it does, by the way, that means science fiction is bad as well since the same arguments used against fantasy here apply to science fiction). Correlation does not imply causation.

As Petersen sees it, no boundary can be drawn on the basis of content, for both religious and fictional narratives can tell of gods, rituals, and ethics. A border can also not be drawn on the basis of the text’s claim to tell either a fictional or a factual story, for claims to factuality can be absent, ambiguous, or faked.

In that paragraph the author is citing an argument made in another paper. In the very next paragraph the author steps in and says that he is here to argue against some of those points...

"Contrary to Petersen, I argue that an analytical distinction between religious and fictional narratives can and should be drawn, and that this distinction should be based on the author’s reference ambition."

This is what I meant when I said you can use literary criticism to defend practically any idea, and that literary critics spend a lot of time arguing against each other's ideas.

Here is another article that might be of interest, but it is behind a paywall:

Medieval Literature and Modern Fantasy: Toward a Common Metaphysic

I'll read this in full later in the week and comment here if there's anything that warrants commenting on. It looks, though, like a simple analysis of the links between medieval literature and modern fantasy, which is a well known and talked about topic. J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, was a scholar who translated texts like Beowulf and incorporated those ideas into his fictional work.

Yes, but fictional entertainment is also a part of how children are taught today. Many kids today spend more time immersed in fictional entertainment, than with their parents. So they might acquire their worldview just as much from fictional entertainment as from their parents.

For example. I know a girl that started to speak a different dialect than her parents because they spoke a different dialect in the cartoons. She would even tell her parents that they didn't pronounce the words correctly. Only later, when she started school, did she start to speak the same dialect as her parents and the other kids.

What exactly is your solution here? Do you want a ban on such fiction being introduced to children? For one, that's not a realistic solution. It's far better to accept that fiction is part of our world and educate people on how to look at it critically. Two, if you could institute such a ban do you know what the consequences would be of people suddenly being exposed to those ideas as adults without having had an opportunity to associate speculative fantasy fiction with their magical thinking phase that they (hopefully) grew out of and thus associate with childhood?

And if we're going to use anecdotal evidence... I was one of those children immersed in fiction. I spent a lot of time in imaginative play based off of the stories I was exposed to, and as an adult my work centers around creating fiction. I am also a skeptic who does not believe in things without evidence, and as a child I had a strong understanding of the difference between fiction and reality, so I always knew that what I read or watched was the work of an author and was not real. I did not always know that there wasn't a real world basis for supernatural elements because I was exposed to people who actually believed that, but I did always question it, and I credit my skepticism to  the understanding I developed regarding how obvious fiction is crafted with how people craft stories that they pass off as real.

There's been a longstanding argument that violence in children's entertainment makes children more violent. There's no evidence for this. Children watch Road Runner cartoons and Tom and Jerry and they know they're being presented with a fantasy where, unlike in the real world, someone can be smashed in the head with an anvil without any lasting consequences. By and large, they don't try to replicate that. Occasionally you get a kid who thinks he can be Superman and jumps off his roof, but these are outliers. If children largely understand that what they're exposed to in these examples is simply fiction and not something they should imitate, why assume that they cannot apply those same skills with stories involving supernatural elements? Is it truly because there is something inherently different (e.g. there are less anthropomorphic and more human characters in this fiction) or is it that this fiction mirrors things people in their lives tell them is real? This is where correlation vs causation come into play, and the scientific study posted I posted points to problems with distinguishing fantastical fiction from reality with how children are taught.

I will read the scientific study from your follow-up post in full later this week and comment on it when I am done. I am not sure from what you posted that they controlled for a link between being how they were taught and what they read, but I am happy to keep an open mind.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: October 25, 2018, 05:35:16 am
I also suspect that writers promoting such ideas are doing it mostly because they know that societies that have similar traditional explanations have an inclination for such explanations.

How many fantasy authors do you know who go around promoting fantastical elements in their stories as having a basis in reality? There are a few who seem to have legitimate beliefs in the paranormal (see Dan Akyrod's belief in ghosts and how that influenced his creation of "Ghostbusters"), but most of the ones I know of regularly talk about their creative process and how they're engineering worlds where fantastical things are real only for the purpose of their narratives. An unfortunate number of them have also had to come out and directly explain  that their work is simply fiction in response to people accusing them of promoting the occult.

In an earlier post I mentioned having to explain to a ~15 year old that dragons, while likely inspired by real things, are not and were never real. This conversation was between myself and a player of a fantasy game that I worked on where I created area and plot lines involving dragons, magic, wizards, and so on. It's also only one of many conversations that I had with young people who were still in their magical thinking phase where I broke down the origin of our fictional ideas and why science disproves X, Y, or Z. In another instance a kid asked that we remove all demons from the game because he was a Christian, and when I calmly attempted to explained to him, in detail, that it's just fiction, he had a massive meltdown before never being heard from again. The problem in the latter's case is that he came into a fantasy world with religious inspired magical thinking. The problem with the kid who believed in actual dragons was, it appeared, that his interest in magic lead to him looking up dragons on the Internet where he encountered a website that propagated that talking point about how dragons existed in too many cultures for them not to be real (it's not all too different than the "every culture had a global flood" story falsehood). Clearly, he had not yet learned how to discern what is or is not a reliable source as seems to be the case for every single person I've encountered like him. Fortunately, though, he was willing to listen to what I had to say and agreed that it made sense.

There are a lot of people trying to make money with videos/websites on topics including ancient aliens, crystal magic, astronomy, spell casting, the moon landing "hoax" and other conspiracy theories, etc. They make professional looking content and sometimes try to tie their nonsense into popular entertainment, so it has a sense of authority that fool people. Go on Youtube, search "Stargate Real," and see how many videos you can find that promote the idea that Stargates exist in the real world.

While you're at it do some research and let me know if you can find substantial evidence of there being a significant portion of professional writers promoting their fictional fantasy stories as being more than just fiction to play on the ignorance of some readers (please be aware that marketing arms of publishers and studios do play to people prone to magical thinking, but the material they put out [including descriptions on back covers] trying to promote a product should not be confused with the words of individual authors). You say science is important to you, but you're putting forth ideas you have on a subject that you clearly have very little experience in and you don't back up these claims with sources that support what you're arguing. You'll post graphic after graphic having to do with scientific models, but the core issues of your argument you do not try to support with outside data despite magical thinking in people being a well researched and written about topic.

I'll start you off.

Here's an article about a study where children presented with the same type of reading materials were shown to have different levels of magical thinking based on their religious background:

Although this might be unsurprising, secular and religious children also differed in their interpretation of fantasy narratives where there was a supernatural or magical storyline.

"Secular children were more likely than religious children to judge the protagonist in such fantastical stories to be fictional," wrote the researchers.

"The results suggest that exposure to religious ideas has a powerful impact on children's differentiation between reality and fiction, not just for religious stories but also for fantastical stories."


Basically, how they were taught influenced whether they were more or less likely to believe fantasy characters were real. Mind you, it's a rudimentary study, so I'm not saying this proves my point by any means.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: October 23, 2018, 05:14:18 pm
Ok, but what about the reversed. Wouldn't the Scientific Method or Bayesian Inference be applicable in any of the fantasy worlds you describe?  No matter how many fantastical elements you introduce, I still believe it wouldn't be able to compete with science because science isn't just a tool. Casting a spell to heal yourself is fine, but it doesn't explain why and/or how the spell is able to heal you. Science doesn't just give us medicines to heal ourselves, it also explains how the medicines are working.

Not all fantasy explains how the magic works, but some does using their own internal logic and that "logic" can defy scientific explanation (or not, depending on the writer's wishes). The rule for writers is that anything is possible as long as it is internally consistent. For example, a spell may heal someone because a god wills it (healing spells can be the purview of clerics who gets magic from their patron god). That god may be willing to communicate with its worshipers from time to time to explain what it expects out of them in order to continue to be granted such gifts, but it (the god) wouldn't be available to have the scientific method applied to it. Similarly, magic may be an unseen source of power that people with special skills can mentally tap into and shape into different spells. A writer can make this source of power detectable by advanced scientific instruments if the writer so desires, but a writer can also simply say that it's not. In the latter case, that means that while we can observe the effects that come out of people manipulating this power, the power itself is independently unobservable.

This is not a trivial difference. The vast majority of humans already believe in religious fairy tales. I suspect that many humans might believe that the "fantastical" or "magical" elements can be reintroduced to our society simply by getting rid of science. This is exactly why I am skeptical of retro fiction.

From a writer's perspective it is as they are both tools that can be used interchangeably to tell stories that have the same meaning. That people have difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality is a separate issue that is not a problem caused by fiction but by inadequate education. Well written fiction can and does, in many cases, help people develop those skills on their own. When, for example, you're introduced to these concepts in obviously manufactured settings it can be easier to see how the thread is weaved, so to speak. This would give you a point of comparison when you're told fantastical stories that people expect you to believe as real. Unfortunately, not everyone is at the same level, so some may be able to figure this out just from reading fiction, while others are predisposed to engage in more superficial readings and therefore need additional help from a third party to introduce them to thinking critically and analyzing fiction.

By the way, difficulty distinguishing between fiction and reality is not limited to fantasy; it's also a problem that people have with science fiction. Alien conspiracies, for example, are simply modern day mythological stories. That doesn't mean that intelligent life does not exist in the universe, but the stories that people tell about them interacting with people on Earth very obviously (to someone who studies this) have the same foundations that inspired people to create folktales about the monsters just over the mountains or in caves or in sparsely populated forests. Similarly, if you explore conspiracy websites (or search through sci fi forums where this ignorance will occasionally bleed over), you'll find a host of people talking about how they think things like "Stargate" and the "X-files" are real. Those are set in modern day and the general public in those universes are kept in the dark by conspiracies, so they connect easily with the conspiracy oriented who like to think that similar coverups exist in the real world. Nevertheless, futuristic stories are not insulated from this type of thinking as there are people who like to believe that we know about such stories because of time travel. The simply reality of our world is that people prone to magical thinking will find a way to make fiction "real" regardless of whether it is fantasy of technology based.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: October 23, 2018, 03:48:44 am
I would prefer if you said "Retro fictional worlds" and not "Fantasy worlds" because it isn't necessarily clear that a fantasy world necessarily must be in the past.

1. Retro fiction is not a thing. You made up the term and are not trying to get other people to use it even though it makes no sense. Something that is retro imitates something from the past. A novel can be retro if, for example, it imitates a particular writing style that has gone out of style, but you can't blanketedly lump anything about the past under the word "retro." If you want to clarify that you're not talking about "Shadowrun" or "Tales of a Dying Earth" type fantasy, it would be more apt to say medieval inspired or past era inspired fantasy or something along those lines.

2. The majority of fantasy worlds are not in the past; they're examples of parallel development. What that means is that they exist in their own universes where the development of societies followed a different path based on the introduction of fantastical elements. For example, a fantasy world may have developed something similar to our medieval era, but little may have changed for them for thousands of years because magic diverted focus away from technological development and/or magic users may actively try to stunt technological development because they see it as a threat to their power.

There is, by the way, a subgenre of fantasy known as historical fantasy, which blends historical fiction with fantastical elements. Essentially you will  have characters interacting with historical figures, and magic will be real for the purpose of the narrative. The "Outlander" series is an example that you may be familiar with.

In a retro fictional world, there should definitely be less advanced science than we have today, and I am not convinced that a world with less advanced science necessarily can be better than the world we have today. This is because as science grows, it grows into everything, even politics:

Since a world with more advanced science will know more about the consequences of everything, it seems likely that a "better world" necessarily must have more advanced science.

There's fantasy where oracles and seers are real, where people commune directly with gods even. The search for knowledge and understanding is a big part of a good amount of fantasy and it's achievable for some because of the aforementioned reasons. The difference is that because of magic their worlds operate differently, so the kind of understanding they obtain/seek is applicable and true in their worlds, not in ours. Many of the same results come out of that understanding, though. For example, science fiction might deal with an attempt to unlock immortality. Fantasy does this as well, but it's done by uncovering ancient scrolls, devoting one's self to the study of magic, finding magical relics, etc. This is an idea that I assume you think is worth exploring since it's a scientific possibility. Well the idea has been explored at length in stories of vampires and heroes for thousands of years (the oldest known example being the "Epic of Gilgamesh"), so there's a crossover of themes and ideas even if the vehicle for exploration is utterly fantastical.

Similarly, science fiction might deal with an attempt to create robots with artificial intelligence. Fantasy again uses magic to do this. A common example of artificial constructs created by magic are golems. They are often mindless, but they aren't always. I recently read "The Golem and the Jinni" and the golem there is created to look like and act like a young woman, thereby granting her an intelligence of her own. The story by the way is, at its core, a spin on an immigration narratives and offers advanced commentary on themes like assimilation.

Knowledge of the unreal may be uninteresting to you as a reader/viewer, which is fine, but your hypothetical asks people if they would choose to live in a fictional world if it were real and if it were real the fantastical elements would possibly allow for a parallel method to understanding the fantasy world we're discussing. Magic can bring understanding, knowledge, advancement to quality of life, and it flows through everything, including politics. Technology and magic are simply substitutes for one another. The only difference is that one has possible real world applications and the other exists only in fiction. You can have a preference for one or the other as a reader, but they're both capable of exploring the same real world issues.

Well technically, these things probably did exist.  The serpentine western dragons were liking the spitting cobra family while the eastern "dragons" were salamander larvae.

Magic may very well have meant technology, just of varieties that seemed quite advanced to the pre-industrial masses but would seem quite primitive to us today.

Sure, mythology is often based in real world truths. The issue I was addressing, though, had to do with people who are uninterested in trying to understand the origin of fantastical ideas and instead sincerely believe that those things actually existed in very similar forms to their fictional descriptions. For example, I once had a conversation with a ~15 year old who thought dragons had to be real because they existed in "every culture," and I had to explain to him what the real world inspirations might've been to get him to understand why that became a widespread idea.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: October 23, 2018, 01:45:47 am
On the other hand. If I have the choice of living in this world today, or in a science fiction world with much more advanced technology, more advanced governance, and more advanced cultural norms. It is not necessarily irrational to prefer that world over this one.

Fantasy worlds can be just as utopian and/or improved over the real world as science fiction worlds. "A Song of Ice and Fire" is not one of them, but magic heavy worlds with spells that heal, extend life, resurrect, allow for immorality, cater to one's basic needs and extravagant wants offer, at least for a subset of the population, higher qualities of life than we have now. So someone saying they want to live in such a world does not necessarily indicate that a person is glamorizing the past. The setting for a lot of fantasy may be based off of the real world medieval period, but the introduction of fictional elements like magic make it is own unique world. And although there are people who romanticize the medieval era or have problems distinguishing between fiction and reality (there are [mostly] young fantasy readers who legitimately think dragons, magic, and the like really existed), a fantasy world's fictional elements (as opposed to the medieval inspired setting) are more likely to be the reason someone would tell you they'd want to live there.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Game of Thrones sucks on: October 22, 2018, 10:29:52 am
Fantasy, like all fiction, can be (but is not always) an extremely powerful vehicle for the exploration of real world issues such as politics, religion, societal issues, etc., and for the human condition itself.

I don't know to what degree these themes carry over into the TV program as I have only read the book series, but if you think the books peddle in a romanticized past you are wholly uninformed. While some fantasy loses itself to cheese and tropes, "A Song of Ice and Fire" places a magnifying glass on a very harsh, brutal time period/world. Characters die easily and unexpectedly, their lives are extremely challenging, and while a touch of magic exists it does not impact the lives of most characters. For the few who are impacted by it, it makes their lives harder and more dangerous, not easier.

What sets "A Song of Ice and Fire" apart from a lot of generic fantasy is that it aims to believably portray the harshness of the human experience in the conditions that are created for them. When you take out the bits about it being a different world with different seasons and there being a little magic and a few monsters, it reads very much like a real world historical story. You seem to be confusing it with pulp fantasy, which is often written by writers whose main source is existing fantasy. George R.R. Martin, on the other hand, draws primarily from history and historical fiction. A major inspiration is actually the French book series "Les Rois Maudits," which are historical novels about the 14th century French dynastic struggle that preceded the Hundred Years War. He also draws heavily from the real world history of the War of Roses.

In doing so, he not only creates a harshness of setting for his characters to inhabit, he also explores important issues such as political tribalism, leadership, societal repression, power dynamics, etc. Listing a few of its themes does not remotely do justice to the intensity of its political and social commentary. I would therefore suggest you look up some articles that analyze those aspects of the novels in depth or simply read them from yourself.

You are correct in your assessment of the dangers that can arise when people create a romanticized past (although, I hope you're not unaware of how that has been used to advance society as in the case of romanticizing the Romans), but to make blanket attacks claiming that fiction contributes to that problem simply by being set in (or based on) the past is extremely ignorant. There's plenty of fiction in genres that you seem to be dismissive of which counter that kind of thinking by either attempting to show the dangers of such thoughts (e.g. M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village" attempted to use the horror genre to comment on how unrealistic it is to try to achieve security by living in an imagined past) or by showing the past (or a fantastical take on the past) in a realistic light. "A Song of Ice and Fire" does the latter.

You want to combat the idea of the 1950s as a time when people could leave their doors unlocked and the idea that shows like "Leave it Beaver" represented an accurate portrayal of life and morality during that decade? A very good way to do that is to show them fiction set in that time period that counters those ideas. Similarly, do you want to combat the perceptions people get of the medieval era by reading/watching pulp fantasy? Presenting them with realistic historical fiction is a good way. Another good way is to carry those same themes over into gritty well written fantasy books like "A Song of Ice and Fire" because guess what often tops lists when people who start out on pulp fantasy ask for fantasy recommendations?

As for your general dismissiveness of fantasy; to what degree works in the genre use fantastical settings and concepts to tackle real world issues depends on the writers. But the same applies to science fiction. A lot of sci fi is also pulp fiction that simply replaces magic with technology and then heavily builds a story around action, explosions, soap opera type stories, characters that lack depth, etc. The type of sci fi I’m describing also does very little to “prepare” anyone for the future. Just because there's a robot in a story, doesn't mean it's teaching people something applicable. It might be that the robot is simply a generic monster with little depth. There are, though, plenty of examples of sci fi stories with depth that address real/possible issues, just as there are plenty of examples of fantasy stories which do the same. Monsters are actually a good example of this as well written monsters are often not monsters at all; they're dehumanized "Others." You want fear of immigration, foreigners, and minorities addressed in fiction? Well, monster fiction containing that understands that mythological monsters represent people does this exceptionally well. Guillermo del Toro recently did this in the movie "Shape of Water," Anne Rice's vampire novels draw parallels between vampirism and homosexuality (as does a lot of vampire fiction), and so on.

Additionally, it important to point out that well written characters, regardless of the setting, provide insight into human behavior that improve a reader/viewer’s understanding of others and thus improve their ability to relate to and understand real people. There’s a reason, for example, why readers are, on average, more empathetic.

And, again, you’re ignoring the “gateway” effect that pulp fiction has on getting people into fiction with more advanced themes. Some people like to stick with pure escapism because they don’t want to be bogged down with real life issues, while some like to get lost in fiction that romanticizes the past. I mentioned “Leave it to Beaver” earlier because of a video I watched of a 1950s obsessed person who cited that show as an example of why the decade was so much nicer than the one we live in today. The show is actually a very valuable insight, not into reality, but into the kind of lifestyle and morals that a subset of the population at the time were trying to promote and it’s of course always unfortunate when people don’t get that. But a lot of people also transition into fiction that challenges them by first going through escapism and, in doing so, they develop stronger critical thinking skills as they have a point of comparison between different kinds of writing.
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: October 04, 2018, 06:34:49 am
To be fair, words often have multiple meanings, so you might be thinking of a particular meaning while forgetting there's another meaning that's quite insulting. For example, Wiktionary lists one meaning of obtuse as "indirect, circuitous".

Context, however, is key. I'm not aware of "obtuse" being used on people to say they're indirect. That definition is typically reserved for a path or route.
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: October 03, 2018, 06:24:57 pm
This is more of a cost benefit analysis situation. The more money Origins brings in, the more inclined Stardock is to continue to spend money fighting Fred and Paul in court. The worse it does, the more inclined they may be to cut their loses by settling. Revenue from the game won't directly flow into the lawsuit, but they will expect revenue from it and/or its sequels to eventually exceed both the game's development costs and these legal expenses.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Slylandro missing in real life? Why? on: October 02, 2018, 08:11:10 pm
But self-replication in a different system also means that that probe has to create an industrial basis in that new system (taking a lot of time)

Not on the time-scale of the universe, though. If it takes 10 000 years to set up an industrial base in a new system and then made enough new probes to colonize only 10 new systems, it'd still blanket the galaxy in well under a billion years.

Why though would a civilization be interested in initiating a process that has a billion year time frame? The reason I said packing a probe with the industry necessary to self-replicate was not feasible earlier is because the framing I was using assumed that an alien civilization would want to minimize the time it would take them to get results. Sending lots of bare bone probes in as short a time as possible from their home sphere is a far superior method, while waiting for evidence of intelligent life to reach them on its own and then trying initial long range communications is better still.

Could a probe be packed with the tools needed to mine elements in alien solar systems and then process them into whole new probes? Sure, but there's not a benefit to doing that because they're not going to see result in any reasonable time frame.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / Starbase Café / Re: Slylandro missing in real life? Why? on: October 01, 2018, 07:47:23 am
I'm not sure what you mean by reasonable time frames for interstellar travel, but unless we assume that faster than light travel is possible...

The Milky Way is approximately 100,000 light years across. Let's say you develop the means to travel at half the speed of light and live 25,000 light years from Earth. That's 50,000 years that it will take for your probe to reach Earth.

The Milky Way is estimated to contain 150 to 250 billion stars. If we divide those numbers by four that's about 38 to 63 billion stars. This is not necessarily the number of stars within 25,000 light years from Earth, but we're definitely talking about a number in the tens of billions.

Of course, not all star systems would support life and presumably such a civilization could narrow down the number further by using equipment to look closely enough at expoplanets to determine if they could support life or not. Nevertheless, that's still a huge number of solar systems to individually search. Estimates put the number of Earth-sized planets orbiting the habitable zones of their suns throughout the whole galaxy at 40 billion. Again, not all would contain life, but then not planets that contain life need to be Earth-sized, so the number of planets that an alien civilization might want to search out within a 25,000 light year range could be quite high if life is prevalent. (Although, the number of planets that support life is higher than the number of planets that support intelligent life, so that also would lower the number further.)

We now have to consider what resources this civilization has available to them. Unless energy to matter convertor tech is real (and available to them), it would take time to collect resources and put them to use building these probes, even with every part of the process automated. That means it would take considerable time and effort to make thousands or millions of probes to check out all the planets they want to within this 25,000 light year range. If they're like us, they're going to send out probes to the planets closest to them because they will want this effort to benefit them in some way. They're also going to need time before they can both travel at half the speed of light and design probes that can last 50,000 years. Another issue is that even if the technology can remain functional for all that time, that doesn't necessarily mean the probes will make it as a lot can go wrong, so they will have to send X probes to planets with X being a higher number the further the destination is to ensure at least one gets there. Thus, even if they can limit the number of planets they need to search to the lower ends of the spectrum, they still may need to build a ton of these probes (reusing probes to hop between solar systems is unlikely due to how much energy would be required to get to half the speed of light, slow down, and then speed up again).

That means it could take this civilization millions of years before being able to send a probe on a 50,000 year journey. Would they even survive that long as a civilization or as a species? And when in Earth's history would this probe come by and for how long would it remain? Having the capability to slowdown from such high speeds would be an amazing feat, so maybe it zips past our solar system without stopping. If it can slow down enough to orbit a planet, it's probably not going to be able to speed up again, so it will likely stay in place, beaming data back. How long, though, can it do that for?  I don't know what materials/technology would be used to keep this probe operational for 50,000 years even, but eventually it will stop working. It will then either become space debris that is floating around and undetectable to a civilization with humanity's current level of technology, it will burn up in an atmosphere/sun (maybe intentionally), or pieces will crash land on a planet and be eaten away further by that planet's environment.

Earth has had life on it for 3.5 billion years. If an alien civilization detected life on this planet and sent a probe here, that probe's viability in this solar system would have lasted for what is essentially a blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things. And this is assuming that a probe would even stop here and not collect data as it zipped past, which would dramatically cut down on the number of probes (and thus resources) expended on this project, but also make it less likely that they'd be observed. Similarly, this assumes that the types of probes that would be sent out would look and operate like existing human built probes. One current idea is to build micro probes and send them to nearby solar systems by firing lasers at them: It's much cheaper and easier than the process I described above on the assumption that these alien probes are akin to the Sylandro probe, but they can't stop on their own, so they would only take snapshots of a solar system while passing by at high speeds.

Going back to the larger probe model: One might like the idea that it could self-replicate on the way and/or once reaching its target destination, thereby creating an indefinite presence of an alien probe in a foreign solar systems, but without that energy to matter convertor, the amount of industry that it would need to carry with it to turn base materials into all of its varied components would be tremendous.

Obviously, this is problematic because if a probe is simply sent to get a look at life containing planets, there's a high probability that its brief flyby/time in orbit will not coincide with when a sapient lifeform is there. A sapient organism didn't evolve on Earth until almost 3.5 billion years had gone by, there's no telling that we will be around for much longer, and even if we are, chances are a sapient animal will never evolve on most planets where life exists. The low end of the Drake equation posits that only 20 aliens exist in the whole galaxy capable of communicating with each at this point in time. If that (or a lower number) is the case, a 25,000 light year distance between humanity and not just the nearest alien, but the nearest alien with the technology we've been talking about is certainly possible. And in the latter case, quite plausible: There could, for example, be 10 aliens between 500 an 1000 light years from Earth, all with a similar level of technology, and Earth wouldn't know about them nor would they know about Earth (human radio waves are only about 100 light years out at this point).

That creates another problem, which is why then would an alien species be sending probes to far out habitable worlds in the first place? If they're not planning to colonize them and there's a high probability of only finding lower life forms on planets that probes go to/pass by, why not just wait for evidence of sapient life to emerge? If a probe is sent to Earth at just the right time, an alien species that lives 25,000 light years away and can launch probes that travel half the speed of light will learn about humans in 75,000 years (50k in the probe's travel time, 25k to send info back). It's another 25,000 years to send a signal to humans/the probe and 25,000 more years to wait for a response for a total time of 125,000 years. Remember, we're also talking about millions of years in resource development and civilization building to even get to the point to be able to send out probes to every planet that may have life on it within 25,000 light years and this random method is not the best way to find intelligent life. Imagine how much easier it would be to just wait the 25,000 years it would take to be able to detect human activity. These aliens could then send a message and wait for a response. That's a 75,000 total wait time for this method. If they want to and are able to send a probe they can do that too and they wouldn't have to build all the many others that I talked about in the previous model. Further, they could  just ask the other civilization to send the data that the probe would have collected. If the other party is interested in sharing they're likely to get everything short of information about the other's military, which wouldn't do much good anyway since it would take 75,000 years to get that data from a probe and knowing about one's military doesn't matter much at that much distance.

It's also important to consider that there's no guarantee that a civilization with the capacity to send so many probes out even exists yet. The universe is 13.8 billion years old. Earth is 4.6 billion. Life on Earth is 3.5 billion. The gap between the age of the Earth and the universe is not extra time for an intelligent alien to evolve; not entirely anyway. The Earth exists and is capable of supporting life because the Milky Way is more mature today than in its past. I'm not going to go a lot into this, but one can google younger galaxies and see how they're populated with different types of stars that are believed to be less likely to support habitable planets. One can also look into how the dust cloud that joined together to become the objects in our solar system is believed to have come from at least one, maybe two supernovas. When the universe was in its infancy the primary elements in existence were helium and hydrogen. These elements formed to make the first stars and then those stars produced heavier elements (carbon, oxygen, etc.). Stars that went supernova released those heavier elements, which came together to form younger stars, but also planets rich in elements that could potentially support not just life, but civilizations as well. It's possible that what happened on Earth happened to a nearby planet a billion years earlier, down to the evolution of sapient life, but it's also possible that Earth is ahead of the curve in this region of space.

To summarize the earlier bit: Unless two concurrent alien civilizations are close enough that one is sending probes to the other's solar system to scout out worlds for themselves or  evidence of one sapient species has reached the other, it's unlikely that alien probes would be encountered. The resources and time involved to send probes out specifically looking for far off sapient life is too large and the method too inefficient for anyone to do it en mass unless far out Sci Fi technology turns out to be possible. If finding sapient life was a secondary goal and the primary goal was to get glimpses of lower life forms on as many planets as possible, that would be a different matter, but that seems an unlikely motivator. Hell, finding sapient life so far away wouldn't necessarily motivate a species all that much. Once you have already encountered one or two nearby civilizations, it might be interesting to know that yet another civilization exists 25,000 light years away, but since all you can do is communicate with them once every 25,000 years you're not going to have much of a relationship and you're unlikely to obtain useful scientific knowledge if you're the only one of the two who can build a probe with a 50,000 operational year lifespan.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Regarding 'Star Control: Origins' and Stardock on: September 24, 2018, 01:01:04 am
But that those private comments were not about UQM but the forum, have no connection to the license agreement and were still weeks ago regarding a situation that is no longer relevant.

Okay... aaaand how exactly were you thinking of using "all out war" to shut down two individual fan forums while leaving their domains intact?

You can claim that was a baseless rant that you had no intention on acting on if you want, but to try and say you were thinking of only targeting forums when there's no reasonable way for you to do that without attempting to use your trademark claims to attack the overall sites they're hosted on is absurd.

Also, if fan attacks are getting to you this much, therapy is cheaper and more effective in the long run than "all out war" schemes.
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: August 16, 2018, 08:40:41 pm
I try to take the position of maximum risk mitigation.   

If I ever butt in on a lawsuit you're involved in, I'll try my best to not inject my personal legal opinions to you.

Please feel free in my case. I already have gamers commenting on, not a lawsuit, but a rights issue involving a game I worked on. One more log on the fire doesn't bother me.
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: August 16, 2018, 03:51:16 pm
I just want to emphasize this quote of Frogboy's from my previous post:

"a species called Orz that started saying “We are frumple” would be too risky to try to put into a commercial game (again IMO)."

He clearly knew then that using a name (even a name that he thought was covered under his trademark) in combination with certain elements from Fred and Paul's IP was problematic.

No, better to say I clearly believed that at the time until I was corrected.

"At the time" was two weeks ago.  Roll Eyes

You were berating people then for not understanding the law, as you are doing now. Was your opinion from two weeks ago not already informed by talking with lawyers? What you're saying au présent may be the new spin that your lawyers decided to try to argue, but it being as clear cut as you now claim when they presumably told you differently up until two weeks ago is not very believable.
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Stardock Litigation Discussion on: August 15, 2018, 03:59:32 am
I just want to emphasize this quote of Frogboy's from my previous post:

"a species called Orz that started saying “We are frumple” would be too risky to try to put into a commercial game (again IMO)."

He clearly knew then that using a name (even a name that he thought was covered under his trademark) in combination with certain elements from Fred and Paul's IP was problematic.
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