Big questions, possible answers

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By Apollonios 9 Sep 2017 06:04

New member · 5 comments

As I said previously, I like to work from big picture down to details. So here's my thoughts on mythos:

The Nature and origin of tuxemon

There's been a few proposals floated, but it doesn't seem like one has been chosen yet. Here are some different possibilities:

  • Completely digital: Monster's physical forms are merely “vessels” or manifestations of data. Or maybe the entire world is a simulation. Digimon takes different variations of this approach.
  • Otherworldy: Tuxemon somehow arrived in the world at some point in the past. Variations include: extraterrestrials, spirits, or organisms from parallel universes. A lot of RPGs use one of these.
  • Synthetic biology: At some point in the past a new kind of life-form was created.
  • Ancient creatures revived: The Monster Rancher approach.
  • Unexplained: This is the approach Pokemon takes. Some Pokedex entries explain where a certain species comes from, but not pokemon in their entirety. Lack of explanation gives a wider freedom to create varieties of monsters, but leaves a lot of questions unanswered and creates a wider suspension of disbelief. The relationship of pokemon to animals is ambiguous (https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki … 9mon_world).

Ethics

This issue has been discussed a bit before. If monsters are sentient, battling them is tantamount to real-world dog-fighting/ cock-fighting. If monsters are sapient then it could be viewed as slavery. Apparently this issue was even brought up in Pokemon Black & White, but then awkwardly avoided (Can't comment - I haven't played it).

Proposed timeline

The following mythos outline attempts to answer the above questions. The scale could be easily pushed further back in time. Many of the details here would only be presented gradually throughout the gameplay, to give it greater sense of 'depth'. Perhaps some details wouldn't be revealed at all. As discussed in another thread, leaving lingering, uninvestigated details can increase players' interest. Even if unused in gameplay, details at least remain useful while creating the game so that there's consistency.

~1500 years ago: Tuxemon were first created by scientists by combining a kind of XNA (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2909387/ and synthetic flesh. They were designed to be able to interact with natural organisms in certain ways, but not others. ie: they can eat regular plants/ animals, but cannot cross-breed due incompatible genetics.

~1250 years ago: Tuxemon technology matured. Tuxemon were not able to gradually age in the way that DNA organisms do. Scientists overcame this by creating “morphing” stages of growth. In order to morph,  tuxemon need to improve certain abilities (ie: raise stats, level up) via training. Thus the proclivity to battle was programmed into tuxemon. Unlike natural organisms, which fight typically only for predation, self-defense, territory or mating, tuxemon are inclined to battle to mature, and hence to reproduce. Tuxemon were also designed not to experience pain in the way that we do. Perhaps the scientists even intentionally gave them Lamarckian inheritance (which would have gameplay implications!).

~1000 years ago: As more and more tuxemon escaped captivity ecological disasters began to mount. Some tuxemon predated upon natural animals and plants causing severe drops in their populations.  Ecosystems were ravaged, weather patterns became less predictable, harvests were decimated. Meanwhile, militaries developed incredibly powerful tuxemon for war, destroying entire cities. Civilization as it was known collapsed.

~500 years ago: Although forever altered, the environment began to stabilize. The new normal includes tuxemon integrated into their respective ecosystems. Human societies began to recover. Most records of the times before the catastrophe had been lost, and even oral histories were becoming a bit vague.

~150 years ago: Industrial level technologies were rediscovered and innovative tuxmon-based technologies created. Regional confederations began to form. The basics of tuxemon biology were rediscovered.

50-30 years ago: The economy of Region X experienced boom times. Many new companies exploring different industries were founded. The Pillars begin as just 5 among many. Tuxemon capture technology created?

25 years ago: In order to stamp out competition and secure their respective monopolies in Region X, the Pillars joined together to create the Cathedral Cartel. Enforcers begin as code-enforcers/ petty bureaucrats, but gradually take on more of a para-police role.

Pros and Cons

This addresses a large part of the question of what tuxemon are and why it's OK to get them to battle. It adds more of a hard sci-fi element to explain how they were created, which dovetails well with the existing plotline (Greenwash, Sypder Bite, fusion.) It also clears up the question about animals in the tuxemon world. A lot of these ambiguities in the Pokemon video game series and (the anime to a lesser degree) really strain suspension of disbelief.

Setting the game in the successor civilization to the one that created tuxemon does a few things. First, it makes it plausible that there is much about tuxemon that is yet unknown (long forgotten, rather). Second, It adds an air of mystery. The protagonist can start off the game with only the vaguest notion about a ruined ancient civilization, and gradually get bits and pieces of the above outline while also discovering new tuxemon. I know I have been intrigued by fictional worlds with this element. Third, it extends the libre vs. exclusive rights metaphor. The ancient civilization would take the role of public domain. We could even address issues like biopiracy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioprospecting#Biopiracy, (ie: an ancient tuxemon technology is recovered by one of the Pillars who privatize it)

Now there's some potential ways this mythos could mess with what's been established. One is that it limits the potential origins of tuxemon species. The two fossil creatures would require a work-around. Perhaps the fossils were of natural animals, and the machine then creates tuxemon based on the original animals? It would also seems to limit extraterrestrial tuxemon, but these could have originated from astronauts experimenting on tuxemon in space in ancient days.

I see from older threads that there was an idea that the entire Tuxemon world actually exists in a simulation. I don't know if that's still a current mythos idea, but it could easily be added on to what I've presented above.

I still have another gameplay idea related to ethics which I'll present later.

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By Apollonios 9 Sep 2017 06:16

New member · 5 comments

PS: I'll be hanging out in the IRC, if anyone wants to chat

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By tamashihoshi 9 Sep 2017 08:34

Champion · 244 comments
Apollonios wrote

(...)
Ethics
This issue has been discussed a bit before. If monsters are sentient, battling them is tantamount to real-world dog-fighting/ cock-fighting. If monsters are sapient then it could be viewed as slavery. Apparently this issue was even brought up in Pokemon Black & White, but then awkwardly avoided (Can't comment - I haven't played it).
(...)

This may seem kinda non-canon but in pokepark some pokemon fight each other for fun... like a friend explained it to me: the battles are some kind of sport. We humans also do stuff like taek-won-do or boxing... people doing sports like that usually don't try to kill each other but do it for fun.

Probably that's something we could subtly mention in the story - the difference between forced fights, war and sports. If you find it sensible to add.


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By Sanglorian 11 Sep 2017 10:08

Champion · 422 comments

Thanks Apollonios for the detailed thoughts and analysis!

I only see one problem with your mythos in terms of the plot of the game, and that's the Pillars forming the Cathedral Cartel.

I think it makes more sense for the Cathedral to exist independent of the Pillars, as a governmental/quasi-governmental body that provides services for the greater good. This makes it another commons that the corporations/pillars are pillaging.

Perhaps following the Collapse, the Cathedral was the only form of government that survived. It sheltered people and slowly civilisation returned, with the Enforcers acting as a para-police force that becomes para-militarised.

Then the Pillars attempting to take the Cathedral over/privatise it/corrode it forms the threat that the protagonist responds to - although the militarisation of the Enforcers could pre-date that, and indicate that the Cathedral has an authoritarian impulse all of its own.

---

While that's the only issue with your mythos outline from a plot perspective that I can see, I do find it a bit limiting - or perhaps it's just contrary to my aesthetic preferences.

Tuxemon having a single origin, as synthetic creations, would already conflict with some existing lore, as you note - the fossils, but also ghosts and spirits of supernatural origin and the legendary animals that might pre-date humankind altogether. Even Pythwire's blurb would be invalidated, although I admit I was being facetious when I wrote it ("Observations of wild PYTHWIRE inspired the inventor of the first electrical outlet.").

It also potentially leans too sci-fi. Using five elements, inspired by the Chinese elements, gives the setting a strong implied mystical aspect, as do the ghosts, psychics, spirits, etc. I think "science fantasy" works best as the game's genre, and a mix of origins for tuxemon feeds into that. Otherwise, magic exists, but the legendary floating tiger Snarlon was genetically engineered to be magical? That doesn't quite sit right with me.

But what if we kept the general thrust of the timeline, but only for some tuxemon? We could also insert some more ambiguity - "people claim X", "historical records say Y" - and not necessarily settle all questions ourselves.

I also like tamashi's idea of distinguishing battling as sport, battling as blood sport and battling as war/other lethal violence. That removes some of the ethical issues that the genetic engineering angle tries to remove, while leaving the real capacity for tuxemon to suffer from unscrupulous cockfighters, war, factory farming, etc.

Here's some thoughts promoted by my feelings about your timeline. Let me know what you think - I'm certainly not the final authority on these matters!

Five Elements have always shaped the universe, their interactions being the generative - and destructive - forces that made life - and death - possible.
* Tuxemon grow and mature through interaction with all of the Elements of the universe. Battling is a particularly effective and speedy method, because it involves such violent and potent interactions, but all life presents conflicts that lead to personal growth: digging in the ground, sweating under the noon sun, cutting down a tree that blocks your path, etc. Only tuxemon that are prevented from interacting with the world dim and fade, eventually dwindling to nothing. 

Different stories have been told by different peoples about how humans first came to be in the world.
* Some say that they evolved separately to tuxemon, a different form of life with a different genetic structure. This, they say, explains why the seemingly powerful attacks of tuxemon are unlikely to severely harm humans - it's the interaction of two different kingdoms of life. This also explains why humans are not associated with a particular Element.
* Some say that they are a variety of tuxemon themselves, albeit a very advanced and intelligent one. This, they say, explains why the seemingly powerful attacks of tuxemon are unlikely to severely harm humans - just like other tuxemon, humans are extremely resillient and quick to heal. Perhaps it is the humans' lack of association with a particular Element that is the unique feature of their variety. 
* Some say that humans came to this planet (or even this universe) from somewhere else. Perhaps a mighty tuxemon summoned them, or perhaps they used their own advanced technology or magic to make it here by themselves. They may even have brought tuxemon of their own from another world. Being of another world is why tuxemon's attacks do so little damage to humans, and why humans are not associated with a particular Element.
* Some say that tuxemon are the spirits of the universe, each variety representing - and having responsibility for - a different thing. Not being spirits is why humans are not associated with a particular Element.
* Some say that there were only humans and plants in the world, and then humans designed all tuxemon using their advanced technology.

What all accounts agree on is that humans have always had a special relationship with the Element of Metal, even though humans themselves have no Element (or are of all Elements). For as long as there are archaeological records, humans have seemed to prefer Metal tuxemon, create Metal tuxemon, turn other tuxemon into Metal tuxemon by domesticating them, attract Metal tuxemon, turn into Metal tuxemon upon death or as a result of alchemical experiments, and so on. The oldest traces of human-tuxemon interaction are fossilised Cataspikes, which have been found with scraps of fabric impaled on their spikes.
* Some claim that all Metal tuxemon are of human origin, or at least human domestication.

~5000 years ago, the first human civilisations existed - or at least, the first for which we have archaeological evidence.

~1500 years ago, the first tuxemon was directly created by human engineering. It is believed to be a precursor to the Nuts of today. (Or should it be something more natural, like a glass, bronze or pottery tuxemon?)

~1250 years ago: Tuxemon technology matured.

~1000 years ago: As humans created more and more powerful tuxemon, and interfered with the world and the Elemental balance in many other ways, ecological disasters began to mount. Ecosystems were ravaged, weather patterns became less predictable, harvests were decimated. Meanwhile, militaries developed incredibly powerful tuxemon for war, destroying entire cities. Civilization as it was known collapsed.

~500 years ago: Although forever altered, the environment began to stabilize. The new normal includes human-created tuxemon integrated into their respective ecosystems. Human societies began to recover. Most records of the times before the catastrophe had been lost, and even oral histories were becoming a bit vague.

~150 years ago: Industrial level technologies were rediscovered and innovative tuxmon-based technologies created. Regional confederations began to form. The basics of tuxemon biology were rediscovered. The Cathedral consolidated, and became a benevolent organisation for the region, with Enforcers of socially-agreed rules coming from the community.

50-30 years ago: The economy of Region X experienced boom times. Many new companies exploring different industries were founded. The Pillars begin as just 5 among many, but eventually consolidated. Tuxemon capture technology was created, and tuxemon breeders, engineers and scientists became concerned that they might lose their monopoly on distributing tuxemon. They pushed for cultural and legal changes to recognise "ownership" of tuxemon varieties - including varieties from before the Collapse, which they claimed they had "discovered" and were therefore entitled to. The Cathedral resisted this push, but did allow ownership over tuxemon that people could prove that they had designed from scratch, and over unique methods of evolution. This is when the Badge method of evolution was designed.

25 years ago: The Pillars are the main companies operating in the region, having crushed or bought out the competition.

15 years ago: The Cathedral starts to privatise or corporatise many of its functions, forms "public-private partnerships" with the Pillars, and invites Pillar representatives onto its board. This process ramps up over the ensuing 15 years. Over the same period, the Enforcers become much stricter, and are now only chosen by "community consultation", not by the community. The Pillars renew their push to legally control all tuxemon, with many adopting the discredited theory that all tuxemon were created by humans - which, they claimed, justified further monopolies on tuxemon.

---

As for the entire world being a simulation, I can't say it applies in my "head canon". It doesn't really resolve the ethical issue of sentient/sapient creatures battling one another.

---

Unrelated to what you've written, I've been trying to think of a name for the region that our current game is set in. I've been playing around with something like Fondent, etc. This would tie in ( a) all the cities being named after wedding anniversary gifts (and fondant being a type of icing found mostly in wedding cakes) and (b) the vaguely religious theme of the Cathedral (The Fundament being a name for the heavens).

But I'm open to ideas!

Last edited by Sanglorian (11 Sep 2017 10:10)

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By tamashihoshi 11 Sep 2017 18:29

Champion · 244 comments

I'm not sure if you guys already lost me or not, but it seems like there is too much input to fit into a smaller world?
It also seems like the "everything is a simulation" isn't fitting that much into the proposed story. My suggestion for this is: Don't make it relevant for the story. Directly. Indirectly is okay... like a few special moments where some characters break the 4th wall for reasons.


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By Qiangong2 12 Sep 2017 04:56

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Part of the beauty of Pokémon is that its story is not convoluted. We need to make sure that it doesn't become confusing for the player. A player should be able to enjoy Tuxemon without needing to understand a whole mythological history.

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By tamashihoshi 12 Sep 2017 07:04

Champion · 244 comments
Qiangong2 wrote

Part of the beauty of Pokémon is that its story is not convoluted. We need to make sure that it doesn't become confusing for the player. A player should be able to enjoy Tuxemon without needing to understand a whole mythological history.

You're absolutelyl right about that... but we're still building a world somewhere so we need a mythological history. Not directly for the player to present him but to make the world "function" and "work" the way it is. It's weird if you have a world which is contradicting itself because at some point people said "ah it's okay like this, nevermind that part". I'm happy the history is discussed that much in the forums ^^

Can we probably break down the proposed history timelines into smaller packages and summarize it (even more)?

Like this as an example:

- 1500 years ago: Scientist create first Tuxemon
- 1250 years ago: Tuxemon learnt to morph by fighting
- 1000 years ago: Tuxemon's unnatural origin makes the Ecosystem and Civilization collapse
- 500 years ago: Environment has stabilized
(...)

To be honest, I'm not sure if I summed up the points correct. But very very short summarizes like this - without any details - will make the different approaches and different points in the proposed timelines clear. After we decided upon "scientist create first tuxemon" we can talk about the details like... was it made by fusing XNA and synthetic flesh, or was it made by accident when trying to clone animals etc.

Edit: Not sure if this summary thing is neccessary but it'd make it easier for me to understand ^^'

Last edited by tamashihoshi (12 Sep 2017 07:04)


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By Apollonios 12 Sep 2017 17:59

New member · 5 comments
Sanglorian wrote

We could also insert some more ambiguity - "people claim X", "historical records say Y" - and not necessarily settle all questions ourselves.

This is a good compromise between no origin explanation and a detailed explanation. The element of an ancient, hi-tech civilization provides an in-world "haze" that obscures most definite details about the remote past, while also not avoiding the issue. NPCs could give voice to various speculations as noted. This works to create intrigue for players as we've previously discussed, and also leaves the lore open to fairly seamless retcon if a specific direction is taken after the initial release. I'd still like to see some specifics laid down on the monsters' biology, given its importance in the plot as outlined.

Sanglorian wrote

As for the entire world being a simulation, I can't say it applies in my "head canon". It doesn't really resolve the ethical issue of sentient/sapient creatures battling one another.

tamashihoshi wrote

It also seems like the "everything is a simulation" isn't fitting that much into the proposed story. My suggestion for this is: Don't make it relevant for the story. Directly. Indirectly is okay... like a few special moments where some characters break the 4th wall for reasons.

I only mentioned it because I saw it in earlier write-ups (https://wiki.tuxemon.org/index.php?title=The_Region) and wasn't sure whether or not it was an abandoned concept (like the Egyptian theme, 7 pillars). I also don't favor the idea, unless it were to be done really well. If not it would likely end up undermining the narrative similar to the it-was-all-just-a-dream trope (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M … JustADream)

Sanglorian wrote

I've been trying to think of a name for the region that our current game is set in.

Brainstorming -
Ancient names of the Nile: Fiaro, Iteru, Neilo, Shihor
Chinese-inspired: Jingdi, Jingsho, Jangjo, Tiensha (I can explain the meanings, if you like)
Anagrams of “libre”: Lerbi, Lirbe, Berli, Birle

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By Sanglorian 14 Sep 2017 11:28

Champion · 422 comments
Qiangong2 wrote

Part of the beauty of Pokémon is that its story is not convoluted. We need to make sure that it doesn't become confusing for the player. A player should be able to enjoy Tuxemon without needing to understand a whole mythological history.

tamashihoshi wrote

You're absolutelyl right about that... but we're still building a world somewhere so we need a mythological history. Not directly for the player to present him but to make the world "function" and "work" the way it is. It's weird if you have a world which is contradicting itself because at some point people said "ah it's okay like this, nevermind that part". I'm happy the history is discussed that much in the forums ^^

Yeah, I don't think it's necessary for us to have, but it could be useful. I'm also imagining other projects that use the Tuxemon brand and assets having different histories, worlds, stories, etc. But having one for this game could also be an inspiration for others: like a game set 1,500 years ago, for example!

Can we probably break down the proposed history timelines into smaller packages and summarize it (even more)?

Sure! Here's mine.

* The Universe emerges from the Five Elements - or the Five Elements emerge from the Universe
* At some point, life appears on the planet in the form of plants and tuxemon and, at some point, humans
* Tuxemon have always naturally competed with each other, because doing so makes them stronger in the Five Elements. Conflict makes them grow.
* Humans develop a relationship with tuxemon, especially Metal tuxemon
* 5,000 years ago: The first human civilisations
* 1,500 years ago: The first tuxemon created by humans
* 1,250 years ago: Many tuxemon are modified and created by humans, for a great variety of purposes
* 1,000 years ago: Ecological disaster as humans interfere more with tuxemon, the world and each other and massive wars break out. Civillisation collapses.
* 500 years ago: The environment stabilises, human societies re-form
* 150 years ago: The region returns to an industrial level of development. The Cathedral is formed and governs the region
* 30-50 years ago: The region booms. The Five Pillars form. The Cathedral allows corporations more control over tuxemon
* 15 years ago: The Cathedral starts to sell off or start charging for its functions. Enforcers are no longer chosen from the community.

Apollonios wrote

Brainstorming -

Good ideas! I've spun this out to its own thread.