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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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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

A Detinus expeditionary force is being assembled to liberate slaves in the Twilight Periphery. Stung by the wit of the Wimble Dinash, Admiral Bridge is leading a personal and sizeable force against the newly constituted Flagritz Republic.

The Wimble Bake Off has new competition with the Dominion instituting a Master Chef competition in the Orion Spur. This is all said to be a cover for further land grabs and in preparation for a move against the Hive and Dewiek, tipping the balance further in the Stellar Empire’s favour.

Meanwhile, the Wimbles struck off a number of hapless Wimbles under their new rules. To cement their plan to align themselves with the Stellar Empire, they have offered the services of their new masters to the Emperor.

Several hundred thousand slaves have been released by the Flagritz Republic but the terms of their manumission are unclear. Millions more await their emancipation. Many have refused to accept freedom without transit home, especially those brought in from outside peripheries. Many reportedly were captured by the Stellar Empire from the Detinus Republic and then sold on to the Flagritz.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

The ship PRV HarCop Omega has been reported both in Orion and Corewards. This was the flagship of the former League Chairman, sacked from the role when the League went into administration and quietly disappearing beyond the edge of known space. It is thought that his return may have been for a clandestine meeting with his former contacts in Harlong and Coptuv. If so then he clearly has an agenda.

Unconfirmed stories that the Pirate King of The Pirate Holes and Million Islands is near completing research on the various larger ships his pirates have successfully captured over the past few years (big thanks to all the affiliations that participated in 'donating' ships). If the rumours are true it is likely a new armada of pirate ships using more advanced technology will be found in Corewards in the near future.

An supernova has been detected originating from just beyond the Transpiral Periphery. The rare event has created ripples in the subspace of the nearby stars. Nobody has reported any tangible ramifications but this is the first supernova in the current age of the Peripheries so esoteric scientists are excited by the prospect of grants to study the relatively nearby phenomena.
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &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