Ripping off the Future

[Preface: This was a post I put up a few weeks ago on Google+  in response to this YouTube video. I thought I'd toss it up here as well.]

GMT mentions that some people are saying that Nova Praxis is too similar to Eclipse Phase because it "rips off the singularity and transhuman ideas".

See, here's the thing. As is pointed out in the video below, Eclipse Phase didn't invent the concept of the Technological Singularity (ask John von Neumann who first talked about it in the 50's), nor the idea of transhumanity. In fact, Eclipse Phase very clearly "rips off" aspects of Altered Carbon, Revelation Space, and many others. And so did Nova Praxis. And Nova Praxis also goes on to "rip off" Mass Effect, Deus Ex, and other inspirational sources. That's how fiction works.

But the idea that anyone can "rip off" the concept of the singularity and transhumanism is laughable. These are not niche genre traits invented by a single author. They are cultural and technological movements. You can call it "transhuman sci-fi", but it's really just "sci-fi". It's the way things are going. It's the most reasonable and likely path for humanity's future currently proposed in fiction.

I've said it many times, and I'll say it again here. Though while they played a role, the primary sources of inspiration for Nova Praxis' setting weren't novels or video games or other RPGs, but the lectures and non-fiction books written by today's top futurists.

More specifically, the majority of Nova Praxis sprang from my reading of The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil, and trying to figure out how to take the ideas within and use them as the foundation for creating a fictional setting. But that setting had to be something you could relate to as a present day human, deal with the problems humanity will have to deal with during the transitional periods, and function as the basis for an RPG.

But, in the end, Nova Praxis and Eclipse Phase certainly have a few things in common. So let's talk about those:

1. Post-Singularity: From what I remember, EP handles this in a way that is much more Terminator, and deviates considerably from how most experts believe the singularity will occur. (And that's fine!) With NP, we tried to stick as close to what the experts are predicting as possible, and still make a workable game. As an extension of this, both settings feature areas that have achieved a (very close) post-scarcity economic state. And a reputation based economy is one of the more interesting proposals for how this can work.

2. Transhumanity: Again, this is an emerging trend in all sci-fi; and it's emerging for a reason. Or if that's not good enough, you could say Transhuman Space did it first and both EP and NP are "ripping it off". :)

3 The Loss of Earth: I can't speak for why the EP authors did it. But I can tell you why we did it for NP.

"Nova Praxis" roughly translates to "new way". I wanted to wipe the slate clean, strip humanity of (the majority) of its cultures and historical baggage, and present a believable scenario in which humanity would not only be forced to change, but be presented with an opportunity to do so in radical ways.

For a long time I'd planned to kill Earth with a meteor. Then nukes. And for a little while I toyed with the idea of going the Terminator/RP route of having an AI do it. But in the end, I wanted mankind to be the ones ultimately responsible.

Much like the dropping of the bombs on Japan, the release of the technophage was supposed to end the war in a single moment of sheer horror and destruction. And in that regard, it worked. But then it went on to become mankind's biggest mistake, and a constant reminder of what can happen when technological progress goes unchecked.

So there you go, my thoughts on the "NP ripped off EP" thing.