OtherSpace

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OtherSpace
OtherSpace icon
Developer(s) Wes Platt, Mongoose Online Entertainment
Engine PennMUSH
Platform(s) Platform independent
Release date(s) 1998
Genre(s) Science fiction MUSH
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Distribution Online

OtherSpace is a text-based online role-playing game set in a space opera setting and created by former[1] Fallen Earth MMORPG developer[2][3][4] Wes Platt. It is one of the most popular science fiction MU*s currently in existence,[5] and is a pioneer of the MU* story arc system,[6] creating overarching universe-changing plots designed to progress to a conclusion over a set number of months, in the tradition of serial science fiction radio shows and television shows like Babylon 5. It draws inspiration from a variety of pop media, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Jurassic Park, the works of Philip K. Dick, and the old Battlestar Galactica series.[7]

History[edit]

The basic theme of OtherSpace was created in 1990, when Platt wrote the short story "Late Night Flight" about the tumultuous wait for a shuttle between Tampa Bay and the moon in 2137, introducing the cloned servants called Specialists and the hulking bipedal iguana aliens called Zangali.[8]

OtherSpace was founded in 1998[9] after Platt left TOS TrekMUSE.[10] It focused on epic, space opera-style stories and a dice-rolling system of conflict resolution.

Collaborative Fiction[edit]

In 2001, OtherSpace became the first MU* to publish a novel made from the collaborative roleplaying logs of its players, entitled, OtherSpace: Revolutions.[11]

Gameplay[edit]

As a MUSH, OtherSpace heavily features non-linear gameplay. Its sandbox theme allows players to customize their character towards a number of goals, with a few examples being combat, piloting, business, medicine, crafting a variety of goods, and the development of one's own player-run planetary empire, complete with defense and infrastructure. Players congregate to form working societies both on planets and on spaceships, utilizing the different skills of the different characters towards the group's success. All of this development is done within the framework of roleplay, with players typing out text describing their character's actions and dialogue, making each player the author of a single character within an epic novel. Relationships are formed, bonds are tied, partnerships and alliances forged, and friends and enemies are made within this context, further enhancing the coded systems.

OtherSpace is a limited consent game,[12] allowing players a few ways to spend resources in order to prevent their character's permanent death in a given situation, though not to prevent serious injury or other unwanted consequences of their actions. It is classless and levelless, utilizing a point system called Saga Points, or SP, to buy skills, traits, action cards (one-time use bonuses to skill rolls), and in crafting.

Story arcs[edit]

OtherSpace is innovative in its design and implementation of the MU* Story Arc. This philosophy combines the overall framework of a setting-changing story arc on a radio or television series with the nimbleness and character responsiveness of a GM campaign in tabletop gaming. The philosophy stresses that there should be no defined end, that a story "...should be perpetual, encouraging your players to keep coming back to find out what is going to happen next,"[13] rather than the Bartle concept of the story arc which suggested that arcs were rigid by definition, and "Either the player is impotent or the arc is derailable."[14]

Setting[edit]

OtherSpace is set in the 2650s, in which fusion, antigravity, FTL travel, nanorobotics, near-Turing-level artificial intelligence, and handheld combat lasers are common, and humanity has discovered (or been discovered by) dozens of sapient alien species and a handful of other universes.

In the year 3008 CE, a human by the name of Kip Caspar found a means of ascending to near-godhood. This sudden shift in power tore cerulean holes in space/time, called rifts, and an infinite number of universes and alternate realities began to fracture and fall through these rifts like metaphysical flotsam, threatening all of creation with destruction. It took the sacrifice of nearly 5000 mortal descendants of the godlike species called Kamir to prevent the unmaking of reality and to transport a small armada of refugees to another dimension and time where they'd be safe. That dimension and time turned out to 2650 CE, in Hiverspace, in the area called the Ancient Expanse.

In recent years, descendants of the Kamir known as the Aukami followed a mad Zar, Hideg Fekretu, into an ill-conceived bid to conquer the Expanse and resume their “rightful” place as the new Kamir. Allies from the Multiverse Commonwealth and other small regional empires from Earth's dimension (Normalspace) thwarted the Zarist Supremacy and drove the Aukami to the brink of economic collapse.

Now the Commonwealth itself seems on the verge of breaking apart, as tensions rise among member worlds over ideology, sovereignty and colonization issues.

Character creation[edit]

New characters pass through "chargen" (character generation), a series of rooms that teach needed commands, prompt the user to choose a race, write a physical description of the character, set the character's skills, attributes and traits, buy a few basic items for the character, and write a short biography of the character that emphasizes basic knowledge of the race/culture they choose. While the character waits for staff biography approval (typically between 2 and 48 hours), they are able to chat on OOC channels and watch in-game roleplaying via a theater room in chargen.

Races[edit]

Players can choose between ten human cultural groups or over thirty original alien species[15] with varying levels of roleplaying difficulty. First-time players are encouraged to play either a human from any point in human history and pulled into the setting by a rift in space/time, or a Riftwalker, a fairy-like psionic puppet of an amnesiac, disembodied consciousness, as both options allow the player to quickly enter the game without any knowledge of game history and learn the theme at the same time their character does.

Skill system[edit]

OtherSpace features a custom FUDGE-influenced d10-based skill system, with 23 skills to choose from in four different categories: Mental, Physical, Social and Special. Each skill is bought with Saga Points, or SP, in a range of 0-7, and each level of skill costs twice as many SP as the level below, such that raising from 0 to 1 only costs 1 SP, while raising from 6 to 7 costs 64 SP.

Each time a skill is raised, it effectively raises all specialties within that skill. Likewise, a character can take 0-3 levels in specialties for a lesser cost, which effectively raises only one aspect of a skill. For example, Troy has a 5 in the Agility skill, and 3 in the Dodging specialty. This gives Troy an effective 8 in Dodging (5+3), but only a 5 in Running, another Agility specialty that he hasn't individually raised (5+0).

Skill rolls are determined by the formula of (1d10-5)+(Skill+Specialty), with a roll of 4 being sufficient for average-difficulty tasks, and negative numbers often considered a critical miss.

Characters start out with a 100 SP skill cap, but over the course of play are able to raise the cap up to 500 SP. Characters that have hit the 500 SP cap are able to increase the character's overall power and influence via crafting, empire-building, action cards, purchasing items or vehicles, or recruiting other characters as subordinates.

Reception[edit]

  • In April 2001, a nearly three-year-old OtherSpace won both Best Sci-Fi and Best Overall at the first semi-annual MUD Andy Awards.[16]
  • In March 2012, a nearly fourteen-year-old OtherSpace wins the Simming Prize for 2011.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Caoili, Eric (2010-05-03). "Icarus Studios Restructures, Sees Layoffs". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  2. ^ Bye, Cody (2007-05-07). "Wes Platt - Fallen Earth Interview". TenTonHammer.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  3. ^ James, Nate (2009-03-06). "Interview: Fallen Earth Writer / Designer Wes Platt Talks Factions, Advancement, and Pacifism". The MMO Gamer. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  4. ^ Platt, Wes (2012-11-17). "Halfway through NaNoWriMo - Climbing a Literary Mountain". The Herald-Sun. Retrieved 2012-11-18. 
  5. ^ "MUDStats". Main Page. 2011-10-31. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  6. ^ Platt, Wes (2000-02-26). "OtherSpace Online Interactive SF Saga". rec.arts.sf.misc. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  7. ^ Platt, Wes (September 2001). "Seeds of Inspiration". Imaginary Realities. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  8. ^ Platt, Wes. "An RL Timeline". Jointhesaga. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  9. ^ Platt, Wes (1998-10-16). "OTHERSPACE MUSH". rec.games.mud.misc. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  10. ^ Olivetti, Justin (2011-04-26). "The Game Archaeologist plays with MUDs: Your journeys, part 1". Massively. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  11. ^ Platt, Wes (2001). OtherSpace: Revolutions, Arcs I-III. iUniverse. ISBN 978-0595209705. 
  12. ^ Moberly, Kevin (2004). "Reality for Sale: "Role-playing, Ideology and Multi-user Dungeons"". Works and Days (Indiana University of Pennsylvania). 43/44 (Capitalizing on Play: The Politics of Computer Gaming): 217–230. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  13. ^ Platt, Wes (February 2001). "Developing a Storyline". Imaginary Realities. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  14. ^ Bartle, Richard (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders. pp. 656–658. ISBN 0-1310-1816-7. 
  15. ^ "OtherSpace Races". OtherSpace: Encyclopedia Galactica. 2011-09-12. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  16. ^ "Log of First Semi-Annual (MUD) Andy Awards Ceremony". M*U*S*H. 2001-04-07. Retrieved 2011-11-13. 
  17. ^ "Simming Prize". SimEnc. March 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 

External links[edit]