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Problems of Setting

Posted: Fri 23 Dec 2016, 20:06
by Arestel
Hi guys,

I am reading the alpha book, and rules are clear, but I cannot get a grasp at the setting. I miss info about magnetrine effect and robots, and especially how those integrate in daily life for kids. So, we have Commodore 64 and VHS, but also gauss freighters and robots? How can we explain this gap in tech? Is it that only big corporations own the super-tech, while world keeps spinning at "normal" pace? Examples are given so that parents seem to work sometimes in those high-tech, but then when they come home, they switch on their analog vynil player?
Sorry, it has to be me, but I cannot visualize the scenario well enough. Can you help me, because I really want to enjoy this game!


Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Fri 23 Dec 2016, 20:26
by Björn Hellqvist
I'm having thoughts along the same lines, and frankly, I think the deeper implications weren't foremost in Stålenhag's mind when he started painting this alternate past. Some things have to be fudged. Still, I think that some concepts that appear rather advanced don't have to be really high-tech. After all, there were TV broadcasts in the 1930's, and primitive guided missiles by 1945. The installations and 'bots in the world of the Loop are rather clunky; apart for the magnetrine effect, things don't have to be super advanced to work.

A real-world example, the computer on the 1969 Apollo 11 rocket to the Moon:
The so-called Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) used a real time operating system, which enabled astronauts to enter simple commands by typing in pairs of nouns and verbs, to control the spacecraft. It was more basic than the electronics in modern toasters that have computer controlled stop/start/defrost buttons. It had approximately 64Kbyte of memory and operated at 0.043MHz.
I'll read the relevant chapters and see what questions arise.

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Fri 23 Dec 2016, 20:45
by Björn Hellqvist
I found an interesting video about Swedish industrial robots that have been running for 36 years when it was made. ASEA (now ABB) is based in Västerås, not far from Mälaröarna. If there are no copyright concerns, I would like to see ASEA involved (partly for sentimental reasons, as my dad worked there a couple of years, drawing cooling elements for nuclear reactors in the 1950's). Anyway, relatively simple tech introduced back in 1973.

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Fri 23 Dec 2016, 21:15
by Arestel
Hi Björn,

Thanks for reply & video. I can get an idea of what you say, but Loop scenario seems to imply, for instance AI from robots. It does not bother me, and the magnetrine effect (which definitely would benefit from a more detailed info) could help to bridge the gap, but I come back to previous point: how can we explain gasoline squattest cars and gaussian carriers living side by side, two-floors buildings and huge eery illuminated high tech towers, or time portals with arcades. If it exists as a government/big corporation secret tech that does not affect normal people's life it is one thing. If it involves some other degree of integration, I really would need more explanation. Setting stresses the difference btw normal, boring life and Misteries, but I feel I do not understand how normal life is in these alternate 80's.

Thanks for any comments!

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 00:44
by RachelBostwick
What I'm finding, reading through, is that anywhere you feel you need more explanation, the answer is that it's up to you. If you're running the game, you get to decide. The book is an outline, you get to flesh out the details depending on the dynamics between your players and how you want to tell the story. Maybe I'm approaching it wrong, but that's my impression. 

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 00:59
by ysarius
I am not sure that adult consistency has to be the one to take into account.

As we will play teenagers, the consistency which could be relevant is the one of the children, who are used to accept anything that could pop from nowhere and interact with it without any question.

It doesn't mean that we can't do anything but it means that the main topic is to create story that has internal teenager consistency.

For example, if the story need a solution (monster that capture citizen like in Super 8), the solution should be accessible for children (young boy understanding the monster which, by return, set him free and leaves the area)

I don't know if I am understable and it could useful in a practical way. Sorry ! ;)

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 01:19
by Arestel
Hi Rachel,

Well, I suppose I could make it up, but the point is that the creator should work out most of the background that could make the alternate 80's consistent, and then we could work out our local cities or other smaller details.
 I have the Mutant Year Zero GenLab Alpha and setting is presented in full detail, every aspect explained. However, here the thing that makes this alternate reality possible, the magnetrine, is barely mentioned a couple of times. How does it work? What does it accomplish? Who has access to it? How if affects not only the area nearby the Loop, but the whole world? Even the Riksenergi agency is barely described.  If quote hovering magnetrine ships and robots are as normal as jets or computers are to usunquote then how rest of analog technology exists? Who would want a Commodore if their parents are working in factories where sentient robots are being assembled?

Basically, this book has the same rules as MYZ (which is great for me); what I expected it could do was to describe this alternate reality in detail, but in my opinion it doesn't, at least in current alpha.

What do you think? Maybe you guys think?

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 01:45
by Björn Hellqvist
Still, there are some tidbits on how the tech is supposed to work, but what I would like is a more consistent background. While it doesn't have to make sense to the young player characters, it is nice from a GM point of view to know how things works, especially if one is to use the setting for campaigns with older characters.

The magnetrine technology has probably replaced a major part of shipping by sea. In Sweden, that means that exports like cars, iron ore and timber are shipped with magnetrine ships. Track-bound transport is probably faster than magnetrine vessels, as well as road transport. That's why there's need for traditional wheeled vehicles. Most cities will have magnetrine ship ports, where the cargo is loaded on trucks for local distribution. Airplanes still have their role, as they are faster, but there are magnetrine luxury liners (think Fhloston Paradise of "The Fifth Element").

Robotics are relatively advanced, as breakthroughs in balancing and independent operation have made robots feasible. Still, I imagine that many of them are remote-controlled from control centers, where personnel supervise them. Newer models of sentry robots are independent, though, but can be overridden by a handler.

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 02:06
by Nils
Good feedback! We will expand this section to include more info about how the new tech works and what this means for the setting (as well as some other stuff).

Re: Problems of Setting

Posted: Sat 24 Dec 2016, 02:46
by Björn Hellqvist
The powerful magnetic fields created by the larger magnetrine ships makes it inconvenient to have them travel over densely populated areas. They have to follow routes, usually the same as traditional ships, but also especially designated "corridors" across land. Smaller ships are less prone to cause problems, but they aren't used in cities or other built-up areas, which is why older technology like trucks and trains are still used.