Firefall’s Story Explained In Fancy Cinematic

By Jim Rossignol on April 13th, 2012 at 8:30 am.


I think they should have had a go at explaining it in semaphore, but instead they’ve gone for the fashionable route of a glitzy video which shows off the space-time rip story that serves as a backdrop to Firefall’s territory-conquest alien-world crossover activities. Go take a look at that, below, and then at my preview, which is the most handsome preview you will read all day.

Firefall’s story has been written by unpleasant sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. Which is a shame, because I suspect someone who actually needed the work could have done a better job.

, .

52 Comments »

Sponsored links by Taboola
  1. Luke says:

    Oh no!(stromo)

  2. Jambe says:

    That thing is remarkably intact-looking considering its (presumably) uncontrolled reentry.

    The skidding upon impact was hilarious.

    • sneetch says:

      It must be enormous if it can kill 230,000 people by skidding through their town! Scientists do us a favour, test the “dodgy-drive” in orbit around Mars or even the moon, thanks.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    There are plenty of sci-fi authors I would love to see penning the story for a video game. Vernor Vinge is perhaps foremost amongst them; his notion of the technological singularity could make for a very interesting setting.

    Greg Egan would be second, particularly something based upon his Diaspora world, with uploaded minds living in their simulated world inside a supercomputer — ideal for a game environment, I would think.

    For long range sub-light-travel epics, Alastair Reynolds would be a good choice. The only game I’ve ever seen do the “let’s take years to get anywhere” sub-light model was Iron Seed, an interesting game in many ways.

    Card, though? No thanks. The best I could say for him is that he knows how to write a story that can expertly manipulate the emotions of the reader. That’s an asset at first, but once you see through it, it loses much of its appeal. No real ideas there, just expert emotion-chord-pulling. And that’s even before becoming aware of his … somewhat objectionable opinions, to put it mildly.

    • Amun says:

      Arthur C. Clarke wrote the story for a game once…. =p

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rama_(video_game)

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      The problem with “X is writing the story” is that I have yet to trust that any given game company will actually let them write the whole story. Advent Rising was “written” by Card, but it was a huge confused mess. I suspect what happened is that the game designers wrote the story and Card fleshed out the dialogue. Unless he is actually insane enough to give the protagonist Jedi powers halfway through with no foreshadowing or explanation.

      Also, silly Card. Marriage is an institution defined by the state. The state can do what it likes with marriage. It just lets religious groups dress it up in their robes and things.

  4. Grimgrin says:

    Looks interesting. for those of you who take exception to Mr. Cards world view I ask to please give this game a chance. Check out this video Extra Creditz did for Red five:

    http://www.firefallthegame.com/blog/2012/02/21/special-extra-credits-_-firefall-edition

    • zeekthegeek says:

      If it was just his world view I’d be fine, but Card is on the board of directors for the National Organization for Marriage, which means he’s directly responsible for hatred and propaganda against the LGBT community, and by buying his works or paying for items in a free game that hired him means you are indirectly funding one of the greatest forces for Evil in the world. Even worse than EA!

      • Phantoon says:

        Since inevitably someone else will mention it-

        Back in 2009, this happened. http://kotaku.com/5230325/there-are-no-gays-in-star-wars

        Sure, EA issued a hamfisted apology, but in truth, they’re no friends of the gay community.

        Really, we’d need to know how many lives the NOM has ruined, versus how many dollars EA has basically scammed out of people to know which is worse.

        Also, Stalin is worse than Hitler. It’s scientifically provable.

        • Premium User Badge

          Gap Gen says:

          It depends if he’s paid royalties (I suspect not?). If he’s paid royalties then sure, a portion of the money you paid will go directly to someone who believes in the cute notion that marriage is a primarily religious institution. I suspect many companies hire people who have equally odd ideas. If he’s not paid royalties, then it depends whether you think not buying the game will influence other developers not to hire him.

          Either way, I’m slightly unconvinced that hiring someone who voices weird opinions that hurt people is equivalent to condoning their views. I’ve worked for and with people with radically different social views to mine. Then again, if he’s personally caused harm to people’s lives, then sure, maybe this is cause to avoid working with him on a project.

          (EDIT: Sorry, I think I messed up the reply tree here. Eh.)

      • Grimgrin says:

        I disagree. The National Organization for Marriage is a a thinly veld hate group and Mr. Card views are backward and full of fear, yes. But trying out a a FTP game that that Card helped write is very unlikely to help NOM spread more bile. Trying to hurt the people at Red 5 because of one writer seems like bully move.

        • zeekthegeek says:

          They chose to do business with him, despite knowing his reputation up front. That does not speak well to the sensibilities or politics of Red 5’s management. It’s something they’ve really refused to address properly in the years since this was announced.

          How many lives has NOM ruined? Hard to say, but they have negatively effected between 10s and 100s of thousands, if not more. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Organization_for_Marriage#Activity

          The EA comment was a joke though, based on recent hilarious exaggeration by the gaming community.

      • Baresark says:

        Did you go to school for theatre, because that is a really dramatic statement. Forces for Evil? Haha, yeah. If your main concern in life is whether this group of people or that group of people can be married in eyes of the church (and by extension God, I guess), then your life is much better than a lot of people.

      • BluElement says:

        Eh, The Ender books are some of my favorite novels of all time. And if I enjoy Firefall, then I’m going to play it. I really don’t care at all what his stance on gay marriage is. I’m not going to let someone else’s beliefs ruin something I would otherwise enjoy and I’m not going to condemn him for believing something that I don’t necessarily believe. That’s hypocritical and just plain stupid.

    • Kollega says:

      Hm, i’m really unsure about this whole “boycott the game because of the backwards views of it’s writer” idea. On one hand, Card is not likely to see more than a few cents from the purchase of one in-game item, but on the other, the idea of not giving him ANY money is perfectly sound and reasonable.

      It’s hard to weight up the harm of him getting money for evil purposes versus supporting the developers. How much harm can a few dollars per person do, a lot or not?

      • Baresark says:

        If it’s any consolation to you, he has plenty of money to “do evil” in the world and whether or not you put actual money into this game will not change what he does or does not do. Also, people need to get over this shit with this guy. Who cares. The LGBT had civil unions which offered up all the same advantages of marriage, but that didn’t seem to be enough. They had to “be married” in the eyes of people. It’s all really childish. You have asshole A saying they can’t be just because, and you have asshole B stamping his feet on the ground throwing a tantrum because asshole A is just that.

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          That’s literally the worst summary of the the same sex marriage issue I’ve ever seen or heard. I think I might actually have become stupider just for reading it. Thanks a lot.

          Edit: Use of “stupider” as evidence.

          • BluElement says:

            I award you no points and may God have mercy on your soul.

  5. LOC says:

    I’m really digging this game more than I ever thought I would. Honestly, I wasn’t to keen on the graphic style, but it’s growing on me. I love everything else about it though. Not sure how the in game cash shop or whatever they are going to use will work since it’s not in currently, but hell I’ll plunk down some money to support these guys either way.

  6. FluffDaSheep says:

    That video didn’t explain anything.

  7. Phantoon says:

    Wow, that’s actually an impressive trailer for a game that wasn’t even on my radar.

    Well done.

  8. Sarissofoi says:

    Looks interesting.
    Anyway if game will be good I will play it.
    I dont care about who done it or what is his opinion about something.
    Good games are good bad are bad and I will prefer good game than bad as simple as that.

  9. Cryo says:

    Didn’t know about the card thing. This game can fuck right off now. Also – out of entire planet the ship just had to crash into town where captain’s family lived? That’s some great writing.

    • ColOfNature says:

      That was my reaction too. I’ve always thought Card was a terrible writer and have never understood all the attention he gets.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        It’s probably the fact that a lot of people read Ender’s Game in their younger years. It’s expertly designed to appeal to young readers, and it resonates well enough to create a lifelong notion of Card as a good writer.

        (I read an essay on that subject once, but damned if I can find it now. But it should be fairly obvious that Ender is designed to be a proxy for smart teenaged boys, in much the same way that Twilight’s Bella is designed for teenaged girls.)

        I did quite like Ender’s Game back when I read it, moreso than most stuff at the time. I recall the sequels being less interesting and more disappointing, though, even at that age.

  10. TaroYamada says:

    I’m an American, and I disagree with OSC’s views. Regardless, I think it’s a shame so many “open minded” people are attempting to harm this man’s career through boycotts. As far as I know he’s also never attempted to harm any homosexual person, physically, or financially. Even the articles RPS has linked to where he expressed his supposedly ‘vile’ views, he expressed them in a civil manner, I disagreed with them, but he remained civil in the articles I read.

    I know he’s on that board, but those things are all over America, and long term over issues like this one, they never make a difference. You want somebody to hate that has near endless power in America’s politics? Look at our war or energy lobbies.

    • ColOfNature says:

      He can be as civil as he likes; his attitude is still reprehensible and it’s perfectly reasonable to avoid doing anything which might benefit him.

    • Asyne says:

      I’ll echo your views on ‘open minded’ people. People lambast Card’s ethical and scientific position, but conviently ignore Asimov’s unpleasant marriages and Henlein’s political vyes. People claim his popular SF books being poor means he’s a poor writer, but ignore his fantasy and contemporary works that didn’t see as much limelight. People label him a hateful fear-mongerer, then ignore how they’re fronting a campaign of hate and fear. If he’s a vile, ignorant hack, sit back and let him be recognized as such; no need to continuously point out his flaws.

      • JarinArenos says:

        Card can write decent “first novel” books (Ender’s Game, Seventh Son, Memory of Earth), but every single time he tries to continue a series beyond the first book, he goes off on weird preachy tangents and loses any coherence of plot. regardless of what I think of his personal views, I mostly see him as a lazy writer who takes the low hanging fruit of plot development whenever he can (case in point, randomly crashing on the captain’s home city for easy heartstring tugging). I’m not expecting much of the plot here.

        • Asyne says:

          I can agree with that assessment; I found Maps in a Mirror to far outshine any of his series books.

          That said, lots of other writers have their own personal prose tics that come through: Palahniuk regularly adds in a “Tyler” character (Brandy in Invisible Monsters, Victor’s mother in Choke), Stephenson has a hard-on for cryptography, Bradbury loves his midwest American country life, et’cetra.

          And I find Card’s one-off-ness makes him aptly suited for game stories. He’s forced into a short story length, and doesn’t get the opportunity to buck the plot.

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            Until the inevitable sequels, of course. But in that respect, his ability to start strong and end in a whimper is actually perfectly suited to the games industry, no?

            (Peter F Hamilton is another one. Strong hook! Crazy long epic! Massive deus ex machina as an ending. Yup, sounds like a typical video game trilogy.)

        • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

          Empire was pretty bad though.

          I don’t really blame him for having strange/bad sequels. Almost every scifi author fails to keep things together after one or two books in a series. Even Asimov goes off the deep end a few times.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Your point? What is more civil than a boycott? He can rant as much as he wants, that is his good right, and it is mine to ignore him for it and disrespect him for this bullshit.
      Furthermore it is a bad more to make business with such a man. You never know how much of his ideology will stick to your business.

      And for writers, I would prefer a culture game from banks ;)

  11. HilariousCow says:

    (sorry for incoming rant, and I’ve been fairly excited for firefall, but…)

    Famous conventional writers trying their hand at game writing… it always ends up as a bit of a marketing salvo. At best, they do window dressing. At worst, the illusion of importance they have actually starts fucking up the game design. Unless you’re the kind of writer who understands how to do exposition through everything the medium has to offer (game mechanics, mis en scene, sound design, etc. etc) (and that doesn’t occur without years of experience designing games), you’re like Alex Ferguson being asked to paint the Sistine Chapel.

    People lap this shit up like it has any meaning. No. It’s nothing. It’s a careerist author chucking a few words over a wall, and hoping his fan base grows and buys his old books. Meanwhile, the dev team scrambles to minimize any potential damage to the core gameplay, where the significant content/message lies. It’s like an nuclear narrative dissonance bomb goes off.

    The whole concept of game writing is in a transitional shakeup right now as writers get to grips with how to embrace, rather than subjugate the medium. This kind of thing feels like a throwback.

    The more examples of doing-it-wrong-and-pissing-people-off that we get, the quicker we get past that transitional phase and on to figuring out what the medium can really do.

  12. MadTinkerer says:

    “Firefall’s story has been written by unpleasant sci-fi author Orson Scott Card.”

    Dear RPS, PEOPLE OTHER THAN ORSON SCOTT CARD ARE ALSO WORKING ON THIS GAME YOU KNOW.

    This is getting tedious. If you really don’t like Card that much, don’t report on what he says about the game. That’s all you have to do. Bitching about someone with “unpleasant” views in every other post about the game he happens to be working on, when he’s not trying to impose his views on the game or anything, is just trolling.

    Please stop acting like Khemm.

    Love,
    A Devoted Subscriber

    P.S. Also see what HilariousCow said above.

    • Baresark says:

      Well put. People forget that we are here actually talking about a game and not OSC views on the world. As if that would really be enough to stop anyone from playing a game that is as entertaining as Firefall is and will be.

    • Unaco says:

      This. Well said. The guy’s views are reprehensible, but he isn’t putting them in the game or the game’s story… he isn’t using this as a medium to impose those views on others. Without doubt, there are going to be 1,000s and 1,000s of people working in the video game and creative industries, whose views I (and you) do not agree with… should we, therefore, bitch about every game, every development studio, for the unpleasant artists and coders and sound engineers?

      And let us not forget that the creative industries (and art) have been littered with reprehensible people… whose work has transcended their personal attitudes. Will RPS start mentioning Lovecraft’s horrific racism and anti-semitism whenever talking about the Secret World or any other game based on his mythos?

    • Unaco says:

      Hmmm… Seems like my somewhat longer comment has been eaten.

      Just wanted to say I agree with this post. There are always going to be people with reprehensible views, or views we don’t agree with or support, in the creative industries. As long as they don’t impose those views on the work they do, I don’t see the problem. If we avoided everything that had been worked on by people who have views we don’t agree with… I’d think we’d all be in empty rooms, staring at blank pages.

      • LennyLeonardo says:

        Some people don’t like exposing themselves to the art of bigots. I think that’s fair enough. But some people don’t mind it, and some even like it. I, for example, like to read HP Lovecraft’s stories because his horrible racism makes them all the more grotesque and unsettling. It also makes me feel kind of dirty, which is a bonus.

        Um, but yeah, you’re right in that you can go too far done the route of rejecting stuff until there’s nothing left.

        However, RPS has every right to gently remind people that Card is a disgusting homophobe. Why not? It’s a blog, not an objective news outlet.

        • Unaco says:

          Ok… If they want to do it, that’s fine. But then, every article to do with anything to do with the Cthulhy mythos, will they mention Lovecraft’s horrific anti-semitism and racism?

          • Premium User Badge

            Wisq says:

            They mention Lovecraft, typically in the form of calling things “Lovecraftian”. Looking up the rest of the issue is left as an exercise to the reader, mainly because it’s not a current ongoing event. I can guarantee you they’d be front and center if he were alive and blogging about his racism and antisemitism today.

            Also, those sorts of objectionable views were commonplace back then. Whereas gay marriage is a current issue, and homophobia is something we’re supposed to be trying to eliminate today.

        • BluElement says:

          I just read the article from Orson Scott Card that RPS linked to in an earlier article and it seems that the majority of his argument has to do with reproduction. He completely ignores ideas such as love and that marriage is an idea that predates government and it’s needed to ensure reproduction. He also condemns sex out of wedlock which is very odd. I’m fairly certain sex predates marriage, so the whole argument of “reproduction requires marriage” is ridiculous. The entire article is rather weak. Regardless, when it comes to this game, who cares? If the beliefs of one man forces you to stay away from something you’d otherwise enjoy, especially when the belief has absolutely nothing to do with said enjoyment, then that’s your problem.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            “I’m fairly certain sex predates marriage, so the whole argument of “reproduction requires marriage” is ridiculous.”

            Okay, I am going to try to explain this without actually discussing this, merely for the sake of explaining and trying to avoid a flamewar because I’m explaining a religious topic.

            To understand this point of view, you need to realize that a lot of people actually consider Genesis to be literally true. This is because it presents itself as literally true, the entire rest of the authors of the Bible considered it to be literally true, and the idea that it is “symbolic” or otherwise not literally true tends to come from a postmodern standpoint.

            Genesis says that God created Man and Woman for each other. There was no specific wedding ceremony, they were effectively already married. Then there’s a whole bit about the tree of knowlege of good and evil and Adam and Eve getting kicked out, and it’s not until then that they “knew” each other (carnally (they boinked)) and had kids.

            So it’s not irrational. It’s just what the Bible says. So maybe you want to argue that the whole Bible is wrong and there’s plenty that Anglicans and Catholics and Baptists (&etc.) argue about and hey that’s another issue altogether. My point is that not everyone accepts a postmodern view of things and so to understand where they’re coming from, you need to realize that they’re not starting from a postmodern view of things. And that doesn’t make them crazy (necessarily), it means they have a totally different set of presuppositions or axioms than you do.

  13. LennyLeonardo says:

    “Stop bitching about people you don’t like! That’s what Khemm does!”

    Clever.

  14. Jenks says:

    “Firefall’s story has been written by unpleasant sci-fi author Orson Scott Card. Which is a shame, because I suspect someone who actually needed the work could have done a better job.”

  15. Tei says:

    What I get of this is that the humans are tryiing a faster than light engine, and it fails, forcing the ship to land, .. but the breach in spacetime created by the experiment, leak in the planet, like tentacles of dark energy.

    The way the spaceship land on the planet is hilarious bad. Big stuff don’t collide like that, breaks in millions tiny parts… please the dude that created this video, watch again the World Trade Center disaster for a good example of that.

    Whatever are the strong points of Firefall, I doubt will be the lore. ATM is a confusing mess.

    • Highstorm says:

      I liked the premise, but the execution was a bit naff.

      As though command would really give him manual control when they realize he’s going to divert the ship from hitting his family and minimizing casualties, to a place with over 500% more casualties?

  16. InsideOutBoy says:

    I like Card’s views, but I cannot stand his writing, just to point out that a writer is separate from his beliefs whether or not you agree with them.

    Calling any spaceship the Nostromo after Alien is automatic disqualification from professional sci-fi writing, surely?

  17. nonaem says:

    Wait a second.

    You guys are whining because of Orson Scott Card’s views on the homosexuality?

    Srsly?

    I mean. SERIOUSLY?

    The guy is one of the best science fiction writers still alive, and you guys are saying that he is shitty because of his views on THIS situation?

    You americans are waaay too ignorants. FFS. I can’t belive in this things Im reading.