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Communication and First Contact

Communication and First Contact

Is it reasonable to presume that all languages, even those created by aliens are naturally divergent as is the case in human languages? By divergent, I mean that given time and lack of contact between two languages used by the same species, the two languages will drift as new words and new grammatical rules are created. Even within a society there is sufficient evidence for divergence of language by age, culture and location.

Personally I think that this is a reasonable presumption which is why I believe that any advanced culture capable of going to the stars will have developed some form or Rapid Assimilation of Communication Protocols (RACP). At its highest development it would be a squirt of data with the structure of the language along with a dictionary in various simple forms such as binary.
This would start with fundamental progressions in order to establish key concepts such as counting and then standards including pi and e. From there it would move into establishing other basic mathematical functions leading onto data storing protocols. Once these are established, it is only a small step to coding sound and tagging it. This leads onto language, from simple words up to phraseology and grammar in general.


Concepts such as past, present and future (if all three perceptions are actually used) are configured along with ownership and gender as applicable (e.g. ‘this was his first contact with an alien species’). Finally there needs to be some form of feedback and interpretation system, allowing for translation.

Whether the system extends beyond verbal communication will come down to the specific species, or more likely how the system is expanded and upgraded as new species are encountered. These would presumably extend into non-verbal cues (symbolic gestures of aggression, pigmentation changes etc), chemical emissions (pheromones), emf (telepathic species), subsonic and ultrasonic ranges and even tactile behaviours.

Probable Future Development
What we presumed in Phoenix is humanity developed smart headsets with realtime translation technology by the mid twenty-first century. Many of these relied on the conversations being picked up by the headset, based on where the eyes of the wearer were trained, uploaded to a server, processed and then transmitted back.

The programs running on the servers were continuously updated and became ever more sophisticated with overlays to indicate probable non-verbal cues (very useful for meeting people from different cultures).

As technology advanced what once ran on vast server arrays became localised. When humans went to the stars they took the technology with them as those colonising new worlds quickly started creating new words to describe their surroundings.

The software had to develop further to allow for on-the-spot translation from previously unknown words. This was either through data-dumps of everything, where time allowed or more often the realtime updating of words and their etymological roots as they occurred until the two systems (speaker/listener) agreed.

Even when one side was without a translator, it can be presumed that a single translator would be able to pick-up words and give a probable translation, presumably with some visual overlay of subtitles with emphasis on words that were potentially wrong. Incongruous words appearing in the subtitles/voice over would cause the listener to request clarification. As the speaker explained again using different words and actions, these would be correlated with the previous statements in order to produce a more coherent translation, if not necessarily a direct translation. It is probable that the software would also pick up cues from the person trying to understand and even guide them.

What is fundamentally clear however is that no magic is involved. The intrepid explorer does not land on a world, point a device at a some cave-dwelling aliens and gets to chat to them about the benefits of economical housing.

First Contact
Since humanity reached the stars it has encountered dozens of sentient species. While virtually all of these communicate through vocal mechanics, there are a few that don’t, namely the aquaphids. Even the hive have a primitive range of vocal signals that allows them to order Rubis Beer and a side of fungus at most starports. As such there are a few basic protocols that are followed unless otherwise specified when making first contact.

The technological level of the encountered species is first evaluated remotely, either from off-world if the size and technology of the species is observable, else from a discrete distance on the surface. If the species has media technology that utilises remote communications (global networks or at least some form of broadcasting such as radio), assembling a language database and RACP is straightforward and it is quickly on to determining who to speak to and where to begin negotiations. It is presumed that some degree of investigation of the social nature of the natives has occurred and that the team will not be blundering into a xeno-chainsaw fest.

Where a civilisation has not reached this point there are more options based on the speed of communication and the size of the native communities. A planet spanning nation based on written words couriered between locations allows for contact to be attempted at any level from landing in the grounds of the movers and shakers right down to finding a few scouts of a nation on a distant frontier to meet with first (isn’t it strange that dog-headed people always seemed to live just beyond the next hill). Without a pre-loaded library of culture to review, the latter may prove useful in avoiding general panic.



Going Native
Where the native species bares some passing resemblance to the contacting species, there is always the option of first getting to know the natives by blending in. This is a three step process consisting of remote observation to determine their xenophobia and likely reaction to dealing with a ‘foreigner’. The reason for this is that no matter how good the explorer, they will never be perfect and as such, posing as an outsider that it likely to be accepted is the only realistic alternative. A peddler or trader from a distant land makes for a good cover (and how are the natives to know the luxury foods and other trade goods are from off-world). The second step is to prepare the cover story and ‘get in-character’ and approach with fingers crossed. This may be anything from approaching the walled gates of a medieval city through to shouting up into the canopy from a safe distance. An old-Earth tactic was to pull the boat up onto the shore and spread out goods to trade along the beach and wait for the natives to get first curious then bold. The final step is to come back alive having gained a better understanding of the native culture and language. This should include some form of escape/extraction plan should things go pear-shaped.

The Alternative Approaches
Of course all this assumes that the purpose of first contact is to achieve some sort of amicable relationship, possibly leading to trade, tourism, cultural education and a mutually beneficial future. If first contact is purely for the benefit of the off-worlders, whips, shouting and blowing things up is all that is required – just ask any Flagritz. Playing at being gods on the other hand tend to end somewhat messily (recipe for apotheosis, add one god to a large stockpot with various root crops, cook slowly, stir, season and eat).




 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****



 
***** Inter Galactic News THE MUSICAL *****

*** Norozov, No More ***

Kantner: No more do I see the starlight caress your cyclops eye
No more feel the tender kisses we used to share
I close my fists and clearly my heart remembers
A thousand goodbyes could never put out the embers

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Chulainn: Oh all the Stellars mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Kantner: No more do I feel the touch of your hand on mine
No more see the love-light making your dark eyes shine
Oh, how I wish I never had caused you sorrow
But don't ever say for us there is no tomorrow

Chulainn: Oh all the ladies mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before.

Lanner: So, old cyclops has finally met his comeuppance
Maybe its time for a comeback

Chorus: No, no one wants you back!

Lanner: I always did like that chair of his…

Chorus: The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!

Continued in this special edition of the SSS...

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** ALIEN CRIMINALS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE ***

FILTHY AND DISHONOURABLE Dewiek mercenaries have dared to attack HONEST AND HARDWORKING GTT warships in the Coptuv system.

THEY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO JUSTICE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

The Dewiek commander’s lengthy response was appreciated by xenophile and philanthropist HQ Manager Tom Krieger but this does not change the facts.

FURTHER JUSTICE IS EXPECTED AT THE EMPEROR’S PLEASURE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

Inside this issue of the SSS: * SEDITIOUS FET CHARGED * LIES OF THE FAILED REBELLION * TERRORIST PLOTS FOILED * ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE CRITICISED * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Voice of the Naplian Liberation Front ***

We are the Naplian Liberation Front. We have commandeered this station to bring you important and vital deprogramming. You are a slave of the Galactic Trouser and Tussles Imperium of Unspecified Services! We have witnessed the press ganged upon by Imperial thugs. Rounding up reporters by the thousands and throwing them in weasel dens. Mocking the Great Uncle of the Flagritz. Manufacturing consent out of a lust for imports of wheat cereals! We poor Naplians(*) are given no training and substandard equipment when preparing your nutritious breakfasts. We are sent forward by the Imperial snack commissioners with threats of triple-filing tax returns on unreasonable deadlines! Death would be preferable. We are allegedly paid a wage but have you ever tried to buy anything with just $1? Strangely none of those politicals earning $10,000 or more a week seem to care about our plight. Not to mention that the Imperials throw perfectly good meat into the grinder instead of slow cooking it in black bean sauce. They have no respect for a classic burrito! We are left grieving for young families who have never tasted quality ranch sauce. You don’t need to be a dead Naplian to know the value of a good guacamole.

* No actual Naplians included.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT vs USN * GTT vs NLF * GTT vs IND * GTT vs KAS * GTT vs FET * GTT vs SSS * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire On Warpath ***

The newly re-united Stellar Empire continued to wage war against the Flagritz Empire to bring about galactic peace and freedom for all. The latest system to fall to the inevitable tide of history was Morroglyph in the Coreward Arm. Dewiek intransigence reached fever pitch as the FLZ facilities changed to DEN paws and subsequently became targets of Imperial truth and justice. Despite putting themselves between the past and the future, the DEN seemed to lack much will for an actual fight with Dewiek military commanders adopting “meh” as their watchword.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT smacks NLF * DEN whack MRC * Slaves Liberated * FLZ Retreat * ARC in Orion Spur * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire Re-United ***

Celebrations were held across the vast territories of the Stellar Empire as the two-halves represented by the governments of the Imperials and Caliphate determined to unite. This followed almost inevitably from the assassination of the Caliph, a crime that has gone mysteriously unresolved. The old Caliphate ministers were ‘retired’ and at first it seemed the Imperials had managed what had alluded them for decades.

However, just as orders to claim systems for the IMP went in some places, conflicting orders to claim for the CIA came from Laton. In other systems, it seems overwhelming civilian support lies with the defunct CAL government and there are a number of CIV and CAL bases that seem to have not heeded the CIA nor IMP orders. With all the Caliphate's armaments now in the CIA’s hand and no political leadership in the old government, it seems inevitable that the civilians will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

A muted and cautious response from the rest of the galaxy was only to be expected given the formation of a new unrivalled superpower. The chilling effect on public discourse as the Imperial war machine taps into the substantial, if stunted, economies of the former Caliphate will surely be felt for years to come. Does this mark the 'end of history' as we know it?

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * KAS v IMP/GTT v FLZ * DEN v MRC * FOCed by IMP * BHD v DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Imperials Declare War Against Flagritz ***

A declaration of war came last week after an unsatisfactory reply to Imperial ultimatums that the FLZ accept resolution of the previous war. J. Jones issued the following proclamation, "We hope this reminder will prompt them to rethink the status they removed them selves from and come back to more peaceful co-existence.” Doublegood, Viceroy, doublegood!

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * Species Guide * FEL Barter With GIants * High Times &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Orion Spur Special Edition ***

Explorers of the galaxy rejoiced as knowledge of a new periphery became common knowledge, revealing charts to forty star systems. The Orion Spur is connected to the massive Coreward Arm with rumours that the locals of the Monument system at the heart of this new periphery may have been responsible for the collapse of the HarCorp civilisation.

We have in-depth analysis and information about the new periphery inside this special issue of the SSS.

Also inside this issue of the SSS: * Naplian Liberation Front Reality Show * FLZ v FEL * Mercs in Graydown * DOM Scare Stories * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Hoedown in Graydown ***

Wimbles in the Graydown system have come under repeated attacks by mercenaries. The Wimbles having already lost two outposts have had their ships come under attack by boarders. The Wimbles are pointing a hairy finger at the GTT whilst the DEN are itching to get their paws in.

Pleasantly rotund Wolf Lord Lyceum reported the destruction of one mercenary ship, a Corsair class explorer called "Eye of the Chosen" which had earlier dropped off ground forces flying the banner of "God Hates Wimbles.” Which God and why he or she hates Wimbles has yet to be revealed. We suspect its corporation-loving Mammon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Sargasso Update * Wakerians * Naplian Liberation Front * &etc

 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic