Races and their languages

Discussion in 'Mechanics' started by reversePsychologist, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    I hope this is the right section and that this hasn't been already discussed.
    You can upvote this suggestion here! Please do so even if you already put a like on it!
    - What -

    So, races. They are unique in their looks and lore, that's for sure, but in no way when it comes to gameplay except for the starting "techs" which, we are assured, will be available equally to every race in the endgame.

    This is a very good thing of course, but then what would be a fun and cool way to make races a bit more unique without contaminating gameplay and equality?
    Well who am I kidding you already read the title.
    Different Languages!

    - How -

    How would this work?

    Ever played World of Warcraft? For those who don't know or didn't know about this feature of the game, in WoW every "intelligent" race (read: playable) speaks "common". "Common language" translates practically into "what you type is what everyone reads, because everyone has "Common" in their known languages tab".

    So, what happens if someone clicks on Languages and moves the tick from Common to Another Language? Simple, only you and the other people who know that language (likely, those of your race) are able to read what is actually typed, while everyone else reads what is coming from your mouth as a random gibberish that is made so that it resembles a language but has probably little to no connection to what was actually typed (actually I think it has some, typing the same phrase twice would probably yield the same result, but I find this to defeat the point of languages game-wise while it sure would be interesting for realism since you would end up learning "common phrases" of a language without your character having to know the language, that would make you a pro player!)

    So, basically every character begins the game knowing two languages by default: Widely Spoken Interstellar Language, and Specific Racial Language. You could right-click on your portait and switch from one to the other to communicate with a person of your same race OR that knows that language.

    Speaking of which: how to learn another language?

    Well, I am not sure about the how, but I believe one of my main concerns is how much of a RARE thing it should be. There's been some ongoing discussion about equippable translators that fill with some kind of method (hearing others speak, completing quests, reading books) of which I'm not entirely fond of, since it would be troublesome code-wise and we would need to come up with some visual feedback of the language being % learned, something like understanding one word out of three or one letter out of X depending on your language bar. I think it would be cool, but I'm more comfortable thinking of a sci-fi device that taken (or even permanently injected/ingested) gives you instant 100% understanding of one language, and of course it would be a very, very very very rare drop or a difficult thing to achieve in general if you're not fond of farming (and I know I am not).

    It would be fun if it was something like a reference to the Babel Fish from Douglas' famous work, I think it's probably the first thing that comes to mind, but it could very well be another thing entirely, or something else with a subtle reference to it. I don't know, something like Babel Corp. devices scattered through the universe after their business was shut down/their original planet blew up.

    Suggestions are welcome!

    Here's part of the old post that includes some even more generic ideas:
    Well, I was thinking of using books dropped by hostile villagers of that race, books that have a further function other than that of being read, or maybe books that can't be read and are actually just one-time use items and using 3 or 5 of them awards you the new language in your available languages tab, which would make this feature, like every other, something potentially achieveable by every character to not leave everyone out, however I was really hoping it would be something to make races more unique so IF this is going to happen, I'd like it to be a very difficult and/or rare thing to achieve.
    They also don't have to literally be books, if you saw the movie "Outlander", the main guy has a futuristic gadget that makes him learn any language sending information to his brain through... his retina.
    EDIT: Equipable translators have been suggested, however there's some ongoing discussion as of their in-game workings, how they "fill up", what happens if they are only 50% filled for a language (I am a firm supporter of the "nothing" option here, I'd like a character to suddenly understand everything once 100% of the language is reached) and other things such as books and signs and the ability to write in said languages. (another thing I'd rather not implement, mostly because I'd like to keep the feature simple and I'd like it in the game, it's up to the devs to deem such things appropriate or not so until then it's just wishful thinking, and so is the next section that you will read about in a while)
    Speaking of surreal things such as automatic translators or language implants directly in da brainz, languages could even be awarded by killing multiple characters/npcs of that race. This sounds like nonsense, I know, it's just something I thought while thinking about an old PS1 game, Tomba, in which you learn the Gnome language by constantly aggressing a gnome and hearing his ramblings as he runs away. As a languages student I assure you you do not learn languages by molesting gnomes but what the hell it's videogames.

    (Please Note: the idea of which item should let you understand another language, the spoilered outdated brainstorming and the translators and language learning ideas plus what the languages look like , all of which will follow in this post, ARE NOT exactly part of my idea, as it is not up to me to plan such a thing even in its esthetic field, those are either up to the devs or, as already said, open to suggestions from you guys. In case it's not clear from the whole post, the only three core elements in order of importance of my suggestion are "You can speak a common language understood by anyone that just comes out as what you actually type or your race's language only those that know your language understand that to them will look like gibberish and to those who know the language will look like what you actually typed, and you are able to switch your language in some sort of language tab on your portrait or whatever", "it has to be something hard to achieve or find" and "It would be neat if different languages use symbols instead of regular fonts, although that clearly comes with coding difficulties but I think it's kind of essential".)


    Finally, thanks to an idea I had while reading the supporting posts of you awesome peeps, let's discuss how would this look like?

    Well, what if the aforementioned undecipherable gibberish that you read when someone speaks a language you don't know would be written in symbols? I was a bit reluctant to post the idea of languages because I never liked how it's been done on the practical side (my main reference is still WoW, in which they spoke actual conversions of the words in "alien syllables") but this way, with symbols I would like it, I guess it bugs me less.

    Of course it would't be symbol = specific letter, although for reasons I already stated in this post that would make for pro players learning the letters with their mind rather than with their characters, so perhaps every letter can be a random range of symbols and so on. I find it especially cool because it would really look "alien" and it would make for awesome design choices. In fact, here's some ideas I had for the actual representations of languages:

    Human Language: it could be the only language "using" our alphabet apart from the common one (and the Glitch one, that you will read about later). The idea is that they either speak a language that looks like someone randomly bashing a keyboard (e.g.: dksjfhkjd aojdsoxj) OR, as the image at the top of this post may suggest, they could only say varations of the word "bla", with various symbols and accents from other languages too to give a sense of "earthlings" (bonus points if in their lore they turn out to have invented some sort of universal language that is an union of all Earth languages, would take a huge coincidence though, just wishful thinking).

    [​IMG][​IMG](other ideas are welcome! also I prefer the blabla option myself)

    Avian Language: it is obviously going to look something like ancient runes or egyptian, I would like it if it was something similar to borginian from the Ace Attorney franchise. If I remember correctly, we also have examples of some sort of runes or characters in their dungeon blocks?

    Glitch Language: I have this idea for their language that I kinda really like, which is that they only speak in roman numerals (e.g.: VI I IV M CC), I think it's a perfect union of the medieval and robot themes.
    [​IMG](such bad taste!)

    Floran Language: hoping that it won't look too much like the avian one, I was thinking of something pre-historic for them, like cave inscriptions. Not sure about this though. (e.g.: <stickman with a spear> <stickman with a gun> <animal> <cave>).
    [​IMG](NOT a mockup of how I picture it would look like)

    Hylotl Language: they would obviously have japanese-looking characters except we would need a very good designer to come up with credible kanji-looking letters that don't look like already existing ones (where I'm from, it's not unusual to hear about tattoo shops that make up kanji because they know jackshit about japanese but still want to sell... yes, they don't even bother googling for a minute).

    Apex Language: some very futuristic symbols that look... computer-ish? Or at least full of edges and angles. Think of namekian.

    Novakid Language: no idea! Awaiting good suggestions from you guys!
    EDIT: well, one idea could be that of something similar to sprites from Homestuck, since they are made of energy and, unless "prototyped" with something with higher communication skill, talk in symbols related to what they are prototyped with. As for which symbols, I just realized that their faces are, like, full of them. So those could be very good, some flashing horseshoes and sheriff stars. EDIT 2: Apparently in the original thread about the race they communicate through magnetism, series of + and - have been suggested as their language, or just the symbols they have on their face, maybe one cool symbol could be the union of a horseshoe and a magnet given their similar shape, but yeah that's just me brainstorming.

    - Why -

    Well, what's good about this feature? In my opinion:

    1) Makes races more unique, as previously mentioned, however this only applies if it is done in a good way and learning languages is rare/very difficult.

    2) Could be a useful and/or neat feature for roleplayers. Think of immersion!

    3) Shenanigans! Improvised cooperation!

    4) I think it sounds cool...?

    5) Literally all the benefits (and downsides) that come with going around meeting people who may or may not speak your language.

    - Why Not -

    1) Lore problems (why would people all across the universe all know common language? I know it is the default situation in Starbound, but since languages are never mentioned as things are now it could easily be dismissed with some suspension of disbelief, whereas introducing this feature would make it a bit more unreal, however one could still come up with reasons for this or just still apply suspension of belief I guess, maybe I'm overthinking it).

    2) Graphical compatibility problems (The Apex have been shown having posters written in english, however it could be said that they wrote it in common despite it not being the most convincing excuse given the nature of Apex). Plus I'm really hooked on the fact that the languages should "look alien", meaning they would have to be in symbols, and I honestly don't know if the devs are using an actual font and how malleable their chat system is to allow such a thing, especially on books and signs since some people who replied to my suggestion assumed this mechanic applied to those as well which I'm not sure of (but if possible, of course it would be welcome!).

    3) If the chat system has whispers and there is no options for who's hosting the server to disable such abstract communication means, this would be rather useless. However, this complaint could only be acknowledged if you are an utilitarian in my opinion, since utility is not the point of this feature.

    4) How would it work with humans? I think lore-wise they are the most appropriate to be the inventors of "Common" since it's literally what we speak, and we are humans. Nevermind, Human having their language different from Common is ok I guess, see the language ideas section (which, by the way, are just for fun, my main post/idea is about the mechanic itself of languages!)

    5) Someone mentioned that this would open doors to being jerks and overall trolling-griefing. However I find that this is not the case at all, the feature does not let you do anything that you would not be already able to do as it is, read my reply to this post for my opinion on the matter.

    - Thoughts? Improvements? Comments? Pizza? Post them please! -
  2. Gentleman

    Gentleman Star Wrangler

    Sounds about right.
    I, Sir Biron, support this idea!

    I see no problem with this idea!
    Off-topic here: I see you play the Phoenix Wright/Edgeworth games

    -Sir Biron Tinalot-
    Ricky150 and reversePsychologist like this.
  3. matheusmmsbr

    matheusmmsbr Big Damn Hero

    The humans could have a language sims like. they speak simlish. is hard to under simlish
  4. Casca

    Casca Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    I was thinking of some kind of language barrier earlier. I think it would add a great amount of depth into the game.
  5. OmniGeoff

    OmniGeoff Weight of the Sky

    It's a flexible idea! Theres nothing like looking at alien text and wondering what the heck it's saying!
    reversePsychologist likes this.
  6. Omega-9124

    Omega-9124 Industrial Terraformer

    I really like this idea. It has my, however small, full support!
    harmonic_dissonance likes this.
  7. Miuub

    Miuub Subatomic Cosmonaut

    Equipable translators!
  8. Omega-9124

    Omega-9124 Industrial Terraformer

    I'm not sure how hard it would be to do, but instead of Translators, why not add the ability to learn the language? After, we (humans) can learn any language if we apply ourselves, why not the races of Starbound?
    reversePsychologist likes this.
  9. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    Thanks for the support everyone, also some of your posts gave me an idea (no matter how unrelated): what if the aforementioned undecipherable gibberish that you read when someone speaks a language you don't know would be written in symbols?

    EDIT: cancelled all the rest of the post and updated the OP with the idea. Check it out!
  10. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    I don't know about this, as I mentioned in the post I'd like managing to understand another language to be a very hard task. Maybe if these equipable translators were insanely hard to find/drop!
  11. Akaiji

    Akaiji Subatomic Cosmonaut

    Actually equippable translators are the only sensible option.
    I mean I could get behind learning the Apex language through studying, but that´s about it.
    Learning Hylotl, Avian or even Floran? No chance, they'd most likely have a completely different vocal apparatus compared to ours, so their languages might be unpronouncable for us or even impossible to perceive (think bats or other animals that produce sounds outside our aufitory spectrum), Novakids might even use something other than sound for communication (morsecode-like fluctuations in brightness, for example).

    You could combine BOTH ideas, though.
    Make the translator an easy to find or even a starter item, but have it be blank (aside from the universal language) and use drops like data cubes or the like to add languages (you could chop it up into several parts, e.g. "Data: Avian for Birdbrains, part 1-5", "The Ape in You: Learning Apex I, II and III", "Pass Gas: Novakid Language in 10 Volumes", etc.).

    Anyways, LOVE the idea. :D
    Miuub and reversePsychologist like this.
  12. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    That's a nice thing to reflect on lore-wise, however you are forgetting that my idea includes a thing such as Common Language, which means that possibly all races have the same glottological possibilities. Unless you meant that everyone can speak common but not all who speak common can speak every language, which is an interesting idea and I can see why. I mean, this almost falls within the purview of races biology and, therefore, overtheorizing, which I don't like, so I consider both possibilities (mine and yours) as equals.

    That... is a very good idea! Like, it automatically updates when you do any of the things I mentioned as ways to learn a language. However there's a little problem with this: what happens when you have a language at, say, 50% of completion? You can read correctly 50% of the characters that are typed? Note: it would be cool, sure, but I'm trying to take into account how difficult coding things is going to be for the idea to be seriously taken into consideration, which is also the reason for which I'm not sure about Floran language (because it sounds like huge-ass symbols and it would be difficult and ugly to implement). Another problem with this is that it's not going to be word of 5 letters = word of 5 symbols, so I don't know.
  13. Akaiji

    Akaiji Subatomic Cosmonaut

    I meant the latter, yes. :)

    I mean a universal language is created for the express purpose that EVERYBODY has a communication platform, so it´d probably be a very simple language that has as few limitations as possbile (think morsecode: Any kind of of morse combinations has only one meaning, no matter what language you speak).

    Plus the need to learn it would go bye bye with the introduction of the automatic translator, anyways. ;)

    Poor sap that invented it... Puts all his heart into it, only to have it almost rendered obsolete... Lucky for him, Ad-Lib Inc., the creator of the portable translator, decided to include it as the base language of the device. :giggle:

    Good question... I'd say you either take it as "part of a dictionary" like in your example (at 10/50/96% you understand 10%/half/almost the complete language), or you take it as "part of a program" (as in you need the whole set for the translator to be able to translate the specific language).

    Just slap the Florans with Windings and you´re peachy. :laugh:
    But I see your point, plus inventing a language isn´t that easy. Which is why Blizzard just threw all letters of the alphabet into a bowl and fished random ones out for their letter salad. ;)
    reversePsychologist likes this.
  14. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    Hah! Windings.

    Also, of course the intent is not to invent any new languges, in fact I'm pretty cool with the Warcraft-like random letters, except make it symbols! Unfortunately I can already see the problems my idea would cause with fonts and stuff.
  15. Dentrala

    Dentrala Void-Bound Voyager

    This is a fantastic idea - it would add a lot of depth to, say, race-specific groups and corporations.
  16. Miuub

    Miuub Subatomic Cosmonaut

  17. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    Updated the OP with some silly pictures and an idea for the novakids.
  18. Raiden Firewing

    Raiden Firewing Void-Bound Voyager

    Actually this sounds like a reasonable and very good concept! It is just unrealistic that everyone is speaking the same language... I also think it would be a great idea when, in an NPC town of a race you don't know the language, you can't just go around and talk to everyone in common. Because not everyone would know how to speak it, so you need first to find someone you can speak with, and he will act as some sort of translator... I'm thinking of the game "Nier" when you get to Facade the first time.
    So learning new languages would be, or should be a vital part of the gameplay if you want to interact with other races. Of course players can always speak common, so there wouldn't be a problem with playerchats.
    The idea with the portable translator would be awesome too, and is fitting well into it I think.
    Oh, and I got two suggestions for the fonts: For the avian less of a cavelike system, but rather something old gotic ( I can't find the example I had, sorry) and for the apex something like this: http://img713.imageshack.us/img713/8676/shd2.jpg
  19. Renzenkin

    Renzenkin Aquatic Astronaut

    Well first off i think this is an awesome idea and would work great on server communities. I think however if implemented into the game, the only way to learn another race's languages would be:
    1. have translator, which would break after getting it damaged enough, because after all it wouldn't make sense having an invaurnable translator.
    2. would be buying/finding a book which entailes others research of that lanuage.
    I guess i vould look something like this when you opend the book: http://jakanddaxter.wikia.com/wiki/File:Alphabet.gif <- That is the precursor language from the jak and daxter series and i thought that that could look a little like what the novakids would talk like. But back on topic essentially what i am saying is that the symbol would be displayed as a big picture and then the according letter (A,B,C and so on) would be displayed under. So you would have to memorise every symbol and what letter it refers to or you could take out the book and translate it slowly.
  20. reversePsychologist

    reversePsychologist Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    Translators that break/consume sound a bit off or at least too convenient as an excuse, as I said I think it would be better if learning a language is very, very hard, but then permanent, which incidentally also somewhat mirrors those few race-restricted features that are in the game already.

    That's a cool looking alphabet, however I'd really like to avoid Symbol = Letter for several reasons.

    1) They are supposed to be languages, they are all different, not just encrypted text in common.
    2) It makes room for more possibilities with language variety, for instance I came up with the Glitch Language and I wouldn't like a very very long word to look like several random roman numerals mashed together, mostly because roman numerals have to make sense and can't be written like that, and coding that could be kind of, yeah, impossible. I would prefer if it was pseudo-random, meaning that there probably is something that determines what symbols make up a word, but it's under several layers of conditions and perhaps still also random. For instance: Avian character ticks Avian Language box, says "Hello Everyone". The game generates a random number between 1 and 10, if it equals 1 it picks a combination of symbols from a small pool of pre-existing ones. In this case the word would be "Eye Eye Bird Pyramid". If the number is different from 10, the game generates another number between 1 and 2: if it's 1, Hello is reversed in Olleh, otherwise it stays Hello. Then, the game generates another number between 1 and 2 so that every character has 2 possible random outcomes. For instance, all "H"s can either be Bird or Eye, all "E" letters could be Hand or Sword and so on.
    3) It is also essential that, since learning a language should be difficult, the players don't have a way to get around it. If we have a Symbol = Letter system, Starbound Wiki will eventually just publish every book and everyone will be able to decode things, albeit very slowly, I'll give you that.

    Thanks! And I quote everything you said.

    Though, old gothic for Avians? How come? Unless you meant Florans, those are the ones with the "cavelike" system I mentioned. Either way, why this choice? I'm not sure it could fit with either Aztec or Tribal cultures?

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