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  • Mass Effect = Babylon 5

    To gauge the influence that Babylon 5 has had, have a look at this epic game coming out for the XBOX 360 next year.

    http://masseffect.bioware.com/galact...tic_stage.html

    I think the programmers must be Babylon 5 fans

  • #2
    Originally posted by Tim_Fleming
    To gauge the influence that Babylon 5 has had, have a look at this epic game coming out for the XBOX 360 next year.

    http://masseffect.bioware.com/galact...tic_stage.html

    I think the programmers must be Babylon 5 fans

    Looks like I'll be playing this game. It's similar..but I don't think it's exactly the same .
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    • #3
      That goes a bit too further from homage and into the realm of plagiarism...
      Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog

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      • #4
        I don't think so honestly. It all seems like fairly generic sci-fi stuff to me. What is interesting about Mass Effect to me is its approach to to certain mechanisms in the WRPG genre, for which it got some really good buzz at the e3 video game trade show this year (after a somewhat lackluster response to an earlier trailer). And it looks really pretty.

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        • #5
          I don't see much actual similarity at all. Any more than I think 'Heroes' is supposed to be a 'copy' of 'Rising Stars'. We all filter new stuff with the stories we already know so I think sometimes we see more similarity than is actually there.

          Jan
          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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          • #6
            Mass Effect initial plot feels more like SG1 than Babylon 5.

            In Babylon 5 the first human jump gate was purchased from the Centauri.
            Andrew Swallow

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            • #7
              The only similarity that really jumped out as a B5ism was the whole "finding alien tech buried under the surface of Mars" thing. Jump Gates (or similar) were around long before B5 and, lets face it, there are only so many ways you can obtain such a thing ... find it, buy it or discover it for yourselves.

              I suppose you could argue that the whole First Contact War thing is an echo of the E-M war in B5 but again you could probably find a load of "first meeting erupts into conflict" situations before B5 ever came along, both SF and otherwise.
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              • #8
                There was that whole thing about an ancient race returning to purge the galaxy every 50,000 years. That certainly sounded close to home.

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                • #9
                  Well I don't think I'm over stretching here, there are a lot of subtle differences, but really:
                  -humans go to space;
                  -humans find alien tech on mars;
                  -humans get hyperspace tech and start exploring;
                  -humans have a problematic first encounter with an alien race, war comes next;
                  -the military create a space station, all known races become involved in an UN style intergalactic association;
                  -an ancient race returning to purge the galaxy every 50,000 years;
                  -a young captain runs around in space on a ship, with a great destiny in his future, etc.

                  That's a bit close, isn't it, even with subtle differences here and there... and if they produce a Babylon5 space exploration game the similarities are going to be much more clear, I'm not very comfortable with this... well they could have chose worst material to get their inspiration, i guess
                  Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Briosafreak
                    -humans go to space;
                    2001, Forbidden Planet, Lost In Space ... etc.

                    -humans find alien tech on mars;
                    I'll give you that one.

                    -humans get hyperspace tech and start exploring;
                    Elite (80s Video Game), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (jump gates)

                    -humans have a problematic first encounter with an alien race, war comes next;
                    I'll give you that one too, but only because I don't know better. I would imagine there are other stories from way before B5 that share this idea.

                    -the military create a space station
                    OK - didn't see that bit in the Mass Effect writeup.

                    -all known races become involved in an UN style intergalactic association;
                    United Federation of Planets (Star Trek), The Republic (Star Wars)

                    -an ancient race returning to purge the galaxy every 50,000 years;
                    The Vorlons and Shadows don't disappear and re-appear in this way. They are around all the time - particularly the Vorlons. Also the V-S "conflict" has nothing to do with purging the galaxy.

                    Not picking on your ideas, but I think it is safe to say that they have drawn influence from all over the place rather than stealing B5. The whole hyperspace thing, involving instantaneous travel is much more Stargate than it is B5.
                    The Optimist: The glass is half full
                    The Pessimist: The glass is half empty
                    The Engineer: The glass is twice as big as it needs to be

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                    • #11
                      I agree that most of the similarities are superficial, and it's just the bit about ancient tech buried on Mars that's jumping out at most of us, and making the rest of the generic sci fi conventions seem to 'fit' B5. It's likely that the makers of the game (or the writers of the game's story, rather) are B5 fans, but also fans of lots of other sci fi. To me, reading the description, I thought "homage to good, hard sci fi" rather then specifically "homage to B5." In any case, it looks like fun! Alas, no X-Box here...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Garibaldi's Hair
                        I'll give you that one too, but only because I don't know better. I would imagine there are other stories from way before B5 that share this idea.
                        Well, technically a lot of the earth invasion stuff (War of the Worlds, ID4, etc.) are first contact wars, but I don't suppose those count. But I don't think it is a particularly uncommon theme. First thing coming to mind at the moment, since I've been watching a lot of Trek lately, are the Romulans, who if I'm not totally misremembering, decided to start a war on first contact.

                        But really, a lot of these themes aren't that unique to B5. FTL tech, conflict upon first contact, interstellar organizations promoting peace and stability, technology based on reverse engineered extraterrestrial fossils; non off these are particularly unique to B5. Like Amy said, it seems more 'hard Sci-Fi done right', which to a certain extent also was what B5 tried to do. There might be some influence B5 has had on the people making it, since it seems like they would enjoy something like B5, but nothing that really would qualify as "plagiarism", I think.
                        Last edited by Shabaz; 11-10-2006, 06:50 AM.

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                        • #13
                          Some more really obvious, earlier instances of "conflict upon first contact" in sf: War of the Worlds, The Andromeda Strain. We could probably add fifty pages to this thread just coming up with more examples of that.

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                          • #14
                            -humans go to space

                            At least half of all the SF written since the days of Jules Verne is based on this idea.

                            -humans find alien tech on mars

                            The "Face of Mars" nonsense, Chariots of the Gods, Arthur C. Clarke's story "The Sentinel", the book and film 2001 (in part inspired by that story), all deal with the theme of aliens visiting the Sol system in the distant past and leaving technology or other evidence that is found later. There are only a couple of bodies suitable for exploration by Humans in the solar system. The Moon, Mars, a Jovian or Saturnian moon or two. The rest are too, hot, too cold, or lack solid surfaces to land on. Basically if you want to do a story about Humans at around our level of technology discovering evidence of alien visitation, the Moon and Mars are your only options.

                            -humans get hyperspace tech and start exploring

                            Without some form of faster-than-light technology you can't do "big" space stories. "Hyperspace", an idea based on actual scientific speculation, is the most plausible form of FTL travel. And obviously you'd have to "get" such technology somehow (invent it, discover it, buy it, steal it) before you can go exploring. Finally, given all of Human history, what would we do with FTL tech besides explore? That's what Humans do.

                            -humans have a problematic first encounter with an alien race, war comes next

                            See, The Mote in God's Eye and Footfall by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. (Possibly the best first contact and best alien invasion novels, respectively, of the last 40 years or so.) Both involve "problematic first encounters with an alien race", which lead to war. For that matter, so does The War of the Worlds.

                            -the military create a space station, all known races become involved in an UN style intergalactic association

                            These are two completely unrelated events in the game, separated by years if not decades. And the mere fact that you can say "UN style association" reminds us that B5 itself took a real world example as its model, so the game can hardly be said to have copied the series in this regard. It isn't like the Human Military base in the game is built to be the headquarters of this U.N.-like organization or that the idea for the organization comes from the Humans.

                            -an ancient race returning to purge the galaxy every 50,000 years

                            Among those who study ancient ruins, a horrific legend is told: every 50,000 years a race of machines returns to harvest all organic civilizations. It is the year 2183. They are about to return...
                            This doesn't sound anything at all like the Shadows and Vorlons, nor does "harvesting" necessarily mean "purging". Again, the idea of an ancient evil that periodically returns is hardly original or unique to B5 - as Tolkein fans were quick to point out.

                            -a young captain runs around in space on a ship, with a great destiny in his future, etc.

                            Yeah, this is exactly like B5, where a middle-aged commander was stuck on a spacestation for 90% of the story. Every epic story involves a hero (usually a young one) with a great destiny. In a space war story, that character is likely to be the commander of a space ship. Replace "space" with "sea" and you're describing Jason or Beowulf.

                            Regards,

                            Joe
                            Last edited by Joseph DeMartino; 11-10-2006, 05:10 PM.
                            Joseph DeMartino
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                            • #15
                              I wasn't talking about individual events, taken out of context, but the way the story is presented, the entirety follows a B5 scheme, it's the process, not the parts. It's not that relevant for me, since I'm not following the game nor I intend to, but it raises questions on how hard is to produce some creative writing for the gaming industry these days. I mean is this the end of history on sci-fi gaming?

                              In the end at least they had good taste in picking their references, another Star Wars game, or even one inspired by SW and I would throw up
                              Fallout 3: A Post Nuclear Blog

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