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Game News The New World Update #26: The Monks

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, May 1, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The New World; Vince D. Weller

    The latest monthly development update for The New World offers an in-depth look at another of the game's factions. This time, it's the mysterious monks of the ECLSS, who were first introduced back in 2016 and whose leader Ava Miller was introduced in December. As Ava's appearance suggested, the monks are heavily augmented - in fact, they're all superhuman cyborgs. The update explains:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Exploring and dealing with different groups and societies is the main focus of The New World. The core political factions (representing totalitarianism, revolutionary democracy, and theocracy), along with the freemen and various armed groups, are familiar enough from our real world. More science fictional are the mutants and the monks, as they’re commonly known.

    The former are the result of an evolutionary mutation that allowed the first “mutants” (those born deformed due to radiation) to adapt to highly toxic and radioactive environments. The latter represent not a biological change but a technological one: cybernetic augmentation.

    Keep in mind that augmentations are fairly common on the Ship, and you’ll be able to outfit your own character with up to seven implants, if your body can handle that many. So sporting a datajack and a shiny new eyeball won’t make you stand out. Much like having an artificial heart valve or a titanium knee today, such implants don’t make you any less human.

    The monks, however, went far beyond that. Out of necessity, they found a way to overcome the limits of the flesh, becoming something more – and something less – in the process.

    * * *

    When the Mutiny broke out, the Chief Technical Officer promptly sealed the Environmental Control and Life Support System center, declaring that neither side will use the ECLSS in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.

    Miller knew that the warring factions would be coming for ECLSS. They might come with guns, they might come with butter; ECLSS had always depended on outsiders for both its safety and its supplies. There might be a promise to keep providing that help, but at a price. Or there might be raw force. Either way, the outsiders would want control, power over life and death on the Ship, something their enemies could never permit. The fight for ECLSS would make the fight for Mission Control look like a border skirmish, and Miller knew how it would end: with destruction of the Ship’s essential systems, the failure of the mission, the death of every man, woman, and child aboard the Ship. That, he could not permit.

    The only hope lay in true independence. But how? They would need strength of body, to resist force. They would need strength of will, to live apart from all society. And they would need all the intelligence they could get, not only to maintain Ship systems put under terrible pressure by both the civil war and the mere passage of time, but also to navigate the Ship’s shifting politics. Outsiders would need to believe the inhabitants of ECLSS to be above petty human concerns; and inside, they would need to be above petty human limitations.

    The answer lay buried in the Ship's databanks: augmentations meant only for the most extreme circumstances, for small or even individual deep-space maintenance missions, augmentations that would make a man more than a man, and less – able to survive alone, smart enough and strong enough to deal with any challenges that might arise on years-long expeditions.

    These augmentations went beyond the artificial eyes and reinforced bones common to the Ship, and amounted to a fundamental reworking of the human body. Functions inessential for long space missions, such as reproduction or immune response, would be removed altogether, freeing the body’s resources for more practical needs. A person who underwent this process would not really be a human being at all any more, but something as much inorganic as organic.

    With this transformation, the ECLSS crew would become what they needed to be: just as the God of Ecclesiastes was above human struggles for power, for fame, for wealth, so too would the superhumans of ECLSS be above the Ship’s passing struggles, devoted solely to its survival. Outsiders would be able to see them as something other than a foe or friend; and they would have the strength to carry out the heavy task before them.

    * * *

    Due to their extensive augmentations, the monks are stronger, faster, tougher, and smarter, at least when it comes to data processing, than any human. Yeah, that’s a lot, but keep in mind that they are few in numbers so need a “natural” edge. A human’s natural stat limit is 10. A ‘monk’s stat limit is 12. If you start the game with STR10 and then get yourself a high-end Exo-Spine implant, your strength will also go to 12, so the monks don’t have access to tech that you don’t (whether or not you manage to get your grabby hands on such tech is a different story). They’re just wired differently (literally) and can handle more implants without having to worry about their bodies rejecting them.

    On the design end, our goal was to create a very different faction with a very different culture, unique place in the Ship’s ‘ecosystem’, and an existential threat.

    The monks will be directly affected by the main quest, which can bring either doom or salvation to ECLSS. Choosing salvation will put you at odds with everyone else but gain you a Liaison Officer who will show you how to make friends and influence people.

    Liaison Officer 1st class Eli Brown’s augmentations were geared toward combat and communications. To Eli, the Ship's inhabitants are a volatile cocktail of 27 distinct emotional ingredients, a naked chemical equation to be balanced or imbalanced as the situation requires, whether with a word, or a look, or a bullet.
    It seems that the concept behind the ECLSS has evolved since that vague introduction back in 2016. Perhaps that's due to the influence of Primordia creator Mark Yohalem, who Vault Dweller thanks for his suggestions and contributions in a postscript to the update. A pleasant surprise!
     
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  2. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    In words I never thought could be uttered: "Vince is too kind." :)

    In all seriousness, it has been really fun bouncing ideas back and forth with him. I probably never would've started posting FG progress updates without his urging, and he's been a generous mentor and supporter for years. I'm glad that I've been able to be a help, but you can't/shouldn't attribute to me the cleverness of Vince's setting, factions, characters, etc.
     
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  3. Maxie Magister

    Maxie
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    Was about to add a comment that it's highly beneficial to the project to have MRY around, MRY is already self-deprecating in the comments

    :shredder:
     
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  4. Quantomas Learned

    Quantomas
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    It would be great if you could find a way to make all that great lore, with its well researched historic comparisons, a part of the game proper without breaking the immersion.

    Do the monks become augmented after they reproduce?
     
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  5. Jack Dandy Arcane

    Jack Dandy
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    This is all super fascinating.
    But, I've been wondering about this for a while - how much of the game am I spoiling for myself by reading these devlogs? :(
     
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  6. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    That's why I just skim them, go "hm aha yes that's cool" and close the tab so I won't actually spoil anything for myself.

    All I know is that this faction is made up of JC Dentons and MRY is doing some writing for them. Sounds exciting, gonna find out more when I play the game!
     
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  7. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    That's the plan.

    They quietly buy kids instead.

    Thanks. As for your question, look it this way: had you read about the AoD factions before playing, would it have spoiled the game for you? If yes, stop reading. If not, since it's not about what a certain faction is but rather what it does in response to a crisis and how far you can push things and in which directions, then keep reading.
     
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  8. JarlFrank I like Thief THIS much Patron

    JarlFrank
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    I stopped reading previews (just skimming them to see nice pictures if there are any) when I realized that one thing I really loved about my favourite RPGs of my teenage years (Arcanum, Morrowind) was that I didn't even know the games existed until the point a pal handed me pirated CDs and we installed the games on my PC and just jumped into them without having any idea what would await.

    And since AoD already was one of those games that could really surprise you if you had no idea what awaited you (it didn't do that to me since I knew what to expect after playing both the combat demo and the larger demo that was released later), I'm pretty sure TNW is going to be such a game too and will not play the demo or read any preview articles in-depth. Instead, I'll just wait till the game is on Steam, maybe on a sale (sry I'm a cheap faggot), then buy it and dive into it with no more pre-knowledge than "it's a scifi RPG on a generation ship made by VD".

    So yeah. All I can say is that the cyborg girl is cute.
     
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  9. Max Edge Educated

    Max Edge
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    I agree, Internet, non-stop communication and quick-information culture killed feeling of discovery. We don't have chance anymore play in something with clear mind, with no expectations.

    In bald and creepy way.
     
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  10. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    No immune response? That sounds incredibly dangerous even on a sealed ship.
     
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  11. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    Our immune system generates antibodies (specialized proteins) to neutralize pathogenic viruses and bacteria. A cybernetic system can easily replicate this function without suffering from any disorders or failures (inability to recognize threats or produce enough antibodies).
     
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  12. deuxhero Arcane

    deuxhero
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    A super immune system makes sense, but then why is it placed on the same level as removing reproduction if it's strictly better?
     
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  13. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    You can't just swap it like a module. You have to gut the whole thing (a human body) and rebuild it in a different way, while keeping up the, um, appearances. You don't need the organic immune system because it's not very reliable, you don't need the digestive system to provide the body with everything it needs, you don't need the intestines, etc. Once you replace and rewire it all, the question of reproduction doesn't come up anymore because you're more machine than man at this point.
     
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  14. lukaszek Arcane

    lukaszek
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    you reproduce using genetic algorithm:

    you find a partner, connect through usb. At that point regular genetic algorithm kicks in, creates all the agents with mutations and let them fight. After few iterations lasting as long as man can, usb data stick pops out of female.
    This stick is taken to factory where new being is assembled.
     
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  15. Quantomas Learned

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    This is a limited view of human strength. Rather a view that treats humans as something functional, though in line with contemporary science.

    However, at the very edge of science a larger picture has emerged, which characterizes human beings as many interlocked intelligent systems. E.g. your sensory system provides intelligence, your immune system provides intelligence, as do your intestines and sense of taste, your neuronal system, the way your hormones work, your genetic make-up and more. Your mind channels it all. It's a tall order to assume you can create cyborgs that ultimately perform better than what nature figured out in millions of years of organic lifeforms battling to survive. The fascinating thing is to treat it all as intelligence. Ultimately cyborgs need to be intelligent systems.
     
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  16. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    A human body IS a highly intelligent system but it requires certain parameters to function properly (for example, our heat-regulating systems can't handle more than 40 degrees because we never needed to develop this ability) and prone to glitches (various immune system disorders) and malfunction (mental issues due to prolonged isolation, depression, etc). So if you send a guy to spend the next 5-10 years mining ore, you need to make sure he won't go nuts, can handle extreme conditions in case of emergency, doesn't depend as much on food and water (i.e. can go much longer on limited supply), and won't fall apart due to million other factors. That's where the augmentations come in. They don't make better humans, they make cyborgs with high survival rate.
     
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  17. AdolfSatan Educated

    AdolfSatan
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    Fantastic update. Are the monks biologically immortal, or do they just die at a slower rate than other humans?
    Reading this one would assume they've forgone any need for sleep and some other basic human needs. Being that the case, wouldn't years of constant vigil turn a man delirious or paranoid? How do they keep their sanity in line?
     
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  18. Vault Dweller Commissar, Red Star Studio Developer

    Vault Dweller
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    Die at a slower rate. 120 years vs 80 years, nothing over the top.

    The brain is the first thing that gets augmented to suppress the emotional response and psychological needs.
     
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  19. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I raised the same issue, in a somewhat more despairing fashion, in my correspondence with Vince, but the truth is that his games offer something significant beside/on top of mystery, which is the elegance and power of their actual execution as a game-in-action. To draw two analogies: (1) Vince Lombardi never concealed that he was going to run the power sweep, everyone knew what was coming, and (a) it still worked and (b) it was still awesome to watch. (2) Some magic tricks depend on the audience not knowing how the trick works, but the even better magic tricks are the ones where you know how it works and can nevertheless marvel at the craft that pulls it off because "zomg, a rabbit came out of a hat" can't happen via sorcery, it comes out through careful preparation, well-made apparatus, excellent dexterity, and slick misdirection. That craft is "magic," as close as we can get to it, and being able to see the craft, and not just the rabbit, is what lets you see magic.
     
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  20. Grauken Mapmaking AI Patron

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  21. hivemind Arcane

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    eli seems like a minmaxed pc build desu
     
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  22. HeatEXTEND Arbiter

    HeatEXTEND
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    Only two more years hahahahaha that's fine HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
    Show Spoiler
    :negative:
     
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  23. Max Edge Educated

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    :happytrollboy:
     
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  24. TalesfromtheCrypt Arcane

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    Nice update, love the Monks’ backstory.
     
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  25. Quantomas Learned

    Quantomas
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    Granted.

    My main concern is more along the line that if you have mastered to decode and re-engineer all the intelligent systems to augment and adapt human beings, then there is no reason why you shouldn't have fully fledged AI. Similar to, if you have mastered artificial gravity, there is no reason why you should fly around in age of scarcity outmoded nuclear fission powered mining vessels.

    Certainly scientific progress is not linear and happens in leaps, and as a writer you can always come up with a story device, let's say that a genius scientist made a breakthrough and built the first prototypes but passed away before he/she could share the knowledge. Which explains why it's application is limited to a narrow field.

    However, it benefits you if you are aware that these are the cornerstones that define the world and setting you create. This is paramount for hard SF and the most successful SF and fantasy writers made that a virtue. If you have a firm grasp of what matters most in your setting, it makes your writing and work greater.

    Maybe there is a real catch to become a monk. That you have to exercise and master mental discipline to preserve the core of your personality to ward off the takeover by the augmented AI in your body. That will give the life of the monks proper routines and structure, and possibly a mindset to become guardians. And there is always the threat of a rogue cyborg that follows goals that humans don't understand any more.
     
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