Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Revision, Mar 23, 2012.

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  1. Biology/Ecology Team- The biology team is responsible for creating the creatures that currently live on the world. While they do not have to detail every species on the planet, major species of plants, animals, fungi, sentients, and any living crystals should have at least a line devoted to them. The more major the species, the more detailed. The team leader should have some grounding in biology and how organisms interact with themselves and the world around them. Don't forget the magical influences!

    Bio team, Go! This is your discussion!

    Team Leader: Iskari



  2. World Building Team Guidelines

    I've been asked to write down a few guidelines for the world building teams. These guidelines can be used if you wish, or you can come up with your own. These are not meant to be rules, but are meant to remind teams to use common sense and courtesy.

    1) Communicate well. If you want to be sure something is remembered, put it here in your team discussion! If you need to ask someone in another team something, send them a PM or an email.

    2) Be courteous. If you have an argument, present sources to back your side up. We have a few people with real backgrounds in their team's area, so they will appreciate good research and diligence.

    3) You don't have to adhere perfectly to scientific findings as we know them, but every good story has some basis in truth, so use that to your advantage.

    4) Teams may decide if they want to vote on decisions as democracies or leave the final decisions up to team leaders.

    5) Team leaders deserve your respect. They are volunteering to do a hard job. The same goes for the team researcher if someone takes that job. You don't have to do everything they suggest, but you should consider their findings.

    6) Team leaders, listen to your teammates' suggestions. They will often have very good ones.

    7) Team leaders, be prepared to poke your teammates if they are not on the ball. Don't pressure them too much, but there should be progress being made each week.

    8) Occasionally, the team leader or researcher should make a summary post in their discussion. Label it clearly and include everything you have decided upon for your part in the world creation. If you make a new one, don't forget to include what you summed up in the old ones if they are still applicable. This way, other teams can quickly see what you are up to.

    9) Major decisions should be made by all three teams in a set. Team leaders will bring their team's opinions to the other team leaders and a decision will be made.

    10) Recruit more people if you feel your team needs them. If there is someone who is not yet in Magrathea who would be a good helper, let them know about the group and the current project.

    11) Keep good notes. Team Leaders, keep a backup of current notes on Google Docs or on a thumb drive.

    12) Team leaders should put up a post for their discussion including what they want to work on first, asking what members can contribute what, and discussing times for working intensely.

    So there you have it. A guideline for world building teams!
  3. Alrighty. Now as I see it, this can be something that can easily be overdone. The earth has an estimated 8.7 MILLION non-bacterial species of lifeforms. Obviously we aren't about to go and do THAT many, but we need to establish first how much we WANT to do. As an entomologist, I know my bugs and chitinous critters quite well and as a biologist I will be glad to point anyone in the right direction. However, I will not do things for you nor will I do it all myself. The way I think we should start is:

    1) What is your biological background? What do you know? What do you like? What would you like to do?
    2) Since this is an alien world, what sort of habitats are we looking at? are they earth-like or not?
    3) How many species do we WANT to do? Now with this I think the best way to accomplish our species list is to start from the top and work our way down. Lets think of TYPES of critters (plants, fungi, vertebrates, important microbes, invertebrates) we want.
    4) Think Ecology. Why is a critter there in the first place? What does it do? how do other things live with it? If we have a giant predatory atomic destructo-worm of doom, what keeps it from killing everything else?
    4a) Think Reproduction. How does each species make more of itself? This can be as important as ecology sometimes! just think of sea critters releasing clouds of nourishing gametes.
    5) What did they EVOLVE from? Remember, we're gonna think up extinct species too!

    Now obviously some of these things will be dependent on the geography, the weather, and the actual surface of the planet, but I'm sure we can get at least a few ideas going! I am super-excited to get to do something on this.
  4. *sneaks in*

    Iskari, if there's a particular biome that a species requires, let me know so the Geo Team can include it in the world map!
  5. Definitely let me know about the evolutionary chain of any dominant species so we can work it into Pre-History, too!
  6. I don't think we should use one type of animal and make a more advance forms as some Sci Fi's do. I think we should mix and match different types. Think Mass Effect.
    Turians are shaped like avians, but have the exoskeleton that is bug like, including mandibles which are a noticeable feature.
    Drell are supposed to be a cross between exotic birds of paradise and exotic fish. So Drell definitely gave you that feel of dinosaur like aliens. Here is the creation process for Drell btw
    Protheans are supposed to be human/ape/simian like, but also have attributes of bug like carapace and multiple eyes, I think they are due to radiation on their home planet.

    Anyways you get what I mean and if you need more examples go to ME wiki.

    Now im thinking that maybe we should have some sort of crystal of some type that allows magic and maybe their technology is based around it, and maybe it gives of radiation so it gives them a insect like carapace?

    Anyways just spitballing ideas.
  7. We can decide what the dominant species is/are but I think first we need to decide what sort of creature they will be. Obviously humans are mammals, but that there are other things that are mammals.

    Now what I'd like us NOT to do, and I know this is not solely up to me, is take things from other games. We have the opportunity to make something really unique. The idea of just crossing animals is not appealing. I know nothing of Mass Effect, but I know my anatomy/physiology, ecology, and taxonomy pretty well. I'm not trying to be hard about this or intimidating, I just want everyone to realize the unique opportunities that this gives us.

    Perhaps we should focus on what functions we want our species to do and let the form follow those functions (as Hunter suggested with radiation resistant carapaces). But remember, for any given problem there are a lot of solutions. Humans have skin pigmentation and Vitamin D production to defend against UV radiation, while fish don't need any of that cause they have the water. Just the same, anyone who has had reptiles knows about heat and UV lamps to keep their pets strong and healthy and plants soak up all the light they can to photosynthesize.

    And if we want to really go all out, we could even make aliens that don't resemble earth species at all! We have a whole world to make and I am really excited to see what we come out with.
  8. I know I'm not on the Bio team, but I'd also like to remind everyone that species evolve in order to adapt to their environment. So working off of the geology is important too. You're not going to have an amphibious dominant species on a world without plenty of damp environment.
  9. Yes I agree. I don't want to steal things from other games/books/movies. I just wanted to take the concept of mixing multiple types of creatures to create new ones. That's more their creation process I would like to use. Anyways I really don't have many ideas atm, but I might come up with more ideas later. I agree we need to fit the creatures to the world. I'm thinking that we should probably have a very watery world, just so we can have more species, maybe with some drier parts.
  10. I think that the idea of just doing a mash up of creatures may not suit the world. You can have an end goal in mind, of course, but I think we first need to figure out how geo team is going to lay out the world, then come up with some common ancestors. Weasels and cats have a common ancestor. Evolution is somewhat a series of accidents that worked, that's why we have evolutionary dead ends. But this ancestor needs to have a lot of good traits to pass on, or rather, these ancestors.

    Whether the world is watery or not is going to more be up to Geo team, so we probably want to work on a variety of species at first, not in depth, just brainstorming. And remember, if you have a water world, there are areas of the ocean that don't have much life at all. There are places where only extremophiles live.

    Could we maybe start with bigger groups of creatures? Do we have bacteria? Avians? Mammals? What symbiotes are there?

    Now to answer Iskari's questions:
    1) I have no formal training but love science, especially theoretic alien biology.
    2) I think there should be some earth similarity, but I think this is also something we need to ask Geo team about.
    3) Agreed about starting with types. I say add common ancestors for each type. That way we can work forward while pre history works back.
    4) All in good time. Also, heehee mating destructo worms
    5) And again for common ancestors. This may just be wikipedia, but it may be worth a glance.
  11. I'm absolutely clueless when it comes to biology and/or science stuff. I'm only good at brainstorming ideas mentally, I probably will just have to think up stuff and let you guys tell me if that's feasible or not. I only picked Biology team so that I could give my random brainstorming ideas. I will do so, just tell me if they work or don't work I don't mind. Like my mixer-mash up idea is pretty much crushed by Revi and Iskari.
  12. I agree that we should come up with unique species and not just combining animals that exists already, but depending on what the geo team comes up with regarding the nature we can take ideas from earth's animals. And also we need to keep the creatures realistic in such a way that their anatomy is workable and helps them in their habitat, and the amount of food, heat and other animals determine a lot about their size and behaviour.

    For Iskari's questions.

    1. I have only had some human biology, ethology and some studies about certain species in school but I'm very interested in how and why animals evolve like they do and how they live and reproduce on earth.
    2. In my oppinion I think some earth-like places would be good, though if it is a rainforest for example it could be wilder than on earth. Like the trees are larger, maybe the animals too, the climate can be warmer and more humid allowing for stranger creatures and more animals allowing some to grow larger. But we should also come up with places that wouldn't be found on earth, with vegetation that doesn't exist on earth and animals that is very different from what we have on earth.
    3. I agree with Revi on this and have some common ancestors and then work into the details and different species.
    4&4a. Something to start developing after we have some species already thought up.
    5. It connects with question 3. We can start with groups and then species and how they evolved.
  13. I don't have much of anything to add right now. I do agree with the fact that we should have our own unique species and not things from other games or movies. I also agree with what Elflady said about keeping the creatures realistic. Yeahh.. this is an alien world with probably odd creatures but that doesn't mean an animal with fins suitable for water should be in the mountains.. that kinda thing. I'm basically posting to answer Iskari's questions.

    1) I am majoring in things dealing with biology, and I have been through AP biology and have taken several human anatomy class. I'm hoping what I do know will be valuable.
    2) I think the animals will be somewhat earth-like anyway since that is really what we have to go off of. I mean even in movie you can compare what our animals look like to theirs and what they are being used for or acting like. I do think they should be on a bigger scale and definitely features that set them apart from animals we are familiar with.
    3) I have to say I also agree with Revi.
    4) I feel like once we have a proper start everything will fall in place.. sorta along with what Revi said about "all in good time".
    5) I agree with both Revi and Elf. I know I have done a lot of agreeing >.<
  14. Well lets talk about our main sentient species. We can start with "how do they look"

    So for comparison, we'll start with traits that make a thing sentient on your garden variety human.

    Mentally, a human sentience is defined by self-realization, abstract thought including possible outcomes of actions, creative tool use, environment adaption, and the ability to act against obvious instincts.

    Now these things can be expressed in a lot of ways. We are realizing now that other earth species may have these traits to greater or lesser extents. We should decide where our species' strengths lie, but remember that they must be able to meet the test of sentience (not that I figure this would be a problem). But we can also think of what kind of challenges this species would face mentally. Does their society suffer from things like depression, fear of death, DESIRE of death, fearfulness, fearLESSness, or exaggerated optimism? Obviously there will be individuals with their own unique problems, but if you look at human demographics you will see trends in populations. Also since we have humans to compare them with... how do they compare with humans?

    Now Physically. Humans became the dominant species largely thanks to our hands. Anyone doubting that can try to live without them for a while :). Now there are people without hands that can do amazing things with their mouths and feet, but I'm sure if humanity started without hands... our mouths and feet would probably be WAY more remarkable by now. The bottom line is, our species must be able to manipulate things so they can construct their tools and use their abstract thought to influence the world. a hyper-intelligent shade of blue is a nice thought, but tell me how blue influences the world. Of course, for other comparisons, I would point toward cuttlefish, Taxxons (animorphs), elephants, amoeba, and electroconductive telekinetic crystalline entities. So... How should our species shape its world? Even if they're just psychic cubes, they would be able to mind control others into doing their bidding!

    Once we have these, we should consider how the primitive members of this race faced the challenges of their day and what those challenges were! The bushmen of africa and the aborigines of australia have an amazing (though primitive) ability to cope with their surroundings and are capable of happy lives despite living in areas that might be considered inhospitable to some... the same way that early europeans dealt with living so near to the arctic circle or how the Philippine peoples managed to get across to islands. They adapted their behaviors and their tools to overcome being naked, weak, and unarmed. We as humans today can easily forget the struggles of our ancestry... after all, we weren't there. So, what did our species have to deal with? Predators? Deserts? Long Winters? Acid storms? Radiation spikes? Oceans? and don't forget, it doesn't have to be just one of these things! How did our critters get to be the dominant life form?

    I think once we have these ideas in mind we can REALLY flesh these things out! Remember, in the creative and evolutionary process you can easily say "Form Follows Function" So lets get those functional questions answered. After that we can concentrate on what they might look like.
  15. Ok. I see we need some prompting.

    How about we start with a few polls for features. Lets start with skin. Should our critters have:

    A) Skin as we know it (smooth, porous)
    B) Amphibian skin (frogs and salamanders
    C) Exoskeleton (insects, spiders and crustaceans)
    D) Scales/Feathers/Similar-Other
    E) Membranous Chitin (think caterpillar)
    F) Hair (mammalian)
    G) Tendrils (wriggly skin, looks like an anemone)
    H) Mucous membrane (amoebas)
    I) Non-organic material (stone, silicate deposits, Lutefisk)
    J) Exotic material(radiation, sub zero particles, strange quarks, etc)
    K) Polyorganic plates (grown plastic)
    L) Spines (urchins, starfish)
    M) Nonporous skin
    N) Taco shell (yes I'm just being silly).
    O) Other (ain't it funny how that worked out. If you vote this, please explain.)

    Round 1 will thin down the list. Please vote with explanations and ideas.
  16. I'd vote for these in the first round;
    A) It would create a familiar feel in an otherwise alien world though a bit unoriginal.
    D) It would look cool:) But it could also work as camouflage or help against the elements depending on where they live.
    F) Same as the above but perhaps for a different climate.
    I) A more alien design which would work as a camouflage as well, it could be stone, crystal maybe even some type of plant style.
  17. D) This one would be cool. It definitely would offer protection depending on the area that they live.
    G) I just like how this looks in my head. It would be different, add a different texture to things. These creature could also be more vulnerable.. in a way? Maybe their growth depends on something else since I have looked up an anemone and they can't photosynthesize? We could play around with that idea.. maybe? If that makes any sense.
    J) If they have skin that has radiation that could be their protection? Maybe they have the function to sort of turn it on and off.. like a skunk can release smell or squid releases ink. Maybe it would be more like eels who produce small electric jolts every so often but when threaten they release more?
  18. I'm going to close the first round at midnight. I will then post the second round refined list... which you can see so far... but if anyone else wants to weigh in, now is the time.

    For those who don't vote, you must abide by the decisions of those who do.
  19. A) Just plain simple.
    D) Feathers and scales are fun and I love the look of reptilian aliens.
    I) I love the idea of crystal beings, but that's just me.
    O) I really really like the though of creatures of pure magic or with magical skin or shapechanger flesh.
  20. I really don't care either way.
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