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Author Topic: Making a world feel old  (Read 1130 times)

Offline Yora

Making a world feel old
« on: February 26, 2016, 03:07:18 PM »
Saw this interesting article on how Star Wars feels really old even though it has superior technology compared to us. Could we use similar techniques to make a fantasy world without lasers and electricity to feel really old as well?

Giant reptiles and volcanos seem obvious first choices. But there's probably a lot more things that would make a world feel really old. What things would you associate with a world that is a hundred thousand or a million years in the past?
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Offline Phoenix

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2016, 03:43:56 PM »
Saw this interesting article on how Star Wars feels really old even though it has superior technology compared to us. Could we use similar techniques to make a fantasy world without lasers and electricity to feel really old as well?

Giant reptiles and volcanos seem obvious first choices. But there's probably a lot more things that would make a world feel really old. What things would you associate with a world that is a hundred thousand or a million years in the past?
Man I LOVE star wars. I think maybe a primitive race(like cavemen), dinosaurs, and a really hot world
"My death shall spark a war, and from the ashes of the battlefield I shall be reborn"

Offline Henry Dale

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Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2016, 03:52:32 PM »
I believe primitive civilization concepts that go hand in hand with novel technology.
For example (touching on star wars again) the farms where Luke works seem totally outdated. The robots are sold to Luke into slavery pretty much.

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2016, 04:31:11 PM »
I absolutely love dinosaurs and place them in my settings all the time, but I wouldn't say they make a world feel "older". Sure, they lived millions of years ago, but that means the world was millions of years younger in their time (albeit, the whole Mesozoic was still a relatively recent development on a geological time scale). I wouldn't even say their presence implies a primitive level of technology in the world. Who says humans coexisting with dinosaurs in a fantasy world need be Paleolithic foragers? They could just as easily be Bronze Age, or medieval (like in that recent "Dinosaur Knights" novel), or even futuristic. I will say though I always thought the Turok games' mixture of prehistoric, ancient, and futuristic elements in its Lost Land setting was attractively unique.
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Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2016, 05:22:41 PM »
Not to be a buzzkill, but the cinema technology at the time Star Wars was created helps to give this impression of being "old". Maybe in that sense it worked in their favor.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline Yora

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2016, 05:53:15 PM »
No, that's not at all what we're talking about.

Cave men are a great idea. Vikings and Mongols are standard stuff. This is a very different type of "barbarian".
Slavery is also a good point. Something that almost never appears in medieval fantasy except as something the medieval mafia is secretly doing illegally.

I also got some more ideas:
Scrolls instead of books.
Pots instead of barrels and bottles.
Animal headed gods.
Ziggurats and pyramids.
Bronze armor and helms. A bronze breastplate and a crested helm give a very different impression than a knight's armor or a Viking in chainmail.
In medieval fantast swords are the only acceptible Hero Weapon. Ancient heroes often used spears and bows, which were not reserved for peasant soldiers or backup heroes. While swords were never really common for elite warriors (they had them, but only for emergencies), they are expected of traditional heroes. Fighting with spear and bow sets a very different tone.
Perhaps more something for visual artists, but pillars seem to have become much less common with the invention of the Roman Arc. Romanesque architecture has lots of doorways and window next to each other with very thin sections of wall between them but few round pillars. And in gothic architecture they are gone completely. When you look at Greek architecture there is a lot of pillars and in egyptian palaces and temples you often can't see the hall for all the pillars because they just didn't know how to keep a heavy roof up.
Similarly, ships with triangular sails look exotic and somewhat archaic. Even though they are a much more recent development than square sails with much more complicated physics behind them. They just were not used on the huge European ships that developed at the end of the middle ages and are a popular motive in pictures of eastern Africa and Arabia.

Offline Phoenix

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #6 on: February 29, 2016, 03:38:52 PM »
I absolutely love dinosaurs and place them in my settings all the time, but I wouldn't say they make a world feel "older". Sure, they lived millions of years ago, but that means the world was millions of years younger in their time (albeit, the whole Mesozoic was still a relatively recent development on a geological time scale). I wouldn't even say their presence implies a primitive level of technology in the world. Who says humans coexisting with dinosaurs in a fantasy world need be Paleolithic foragers? They could just as easily be Bronze Age, or medieval (like in that recent "Dinosaur Knights" novel), or even futuristic. I will say though I always thought the Turok games' mixture of prehistoric, ancient, and futuristic elements in its Lost Land setting was attractively unique.
Thought it was called dinosaur lords?
"My death shall spark a war, and from the ashes of the battlefield I shall be reborn"

Offline Yora

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #7 on: February 29, 2016, 04:04:03 PM »
Apparently the book was a disappointment. Plot didn't get anyone excited and there are way too few dinosaur fights to make it fun in a trashy action movie style way. Still great potential for anyone who wants to give it a try. (Maybe I should, it wouldn't be out of place for what I've planned so far.)

Regarding making worlds feel old, someone gave me the wonderful concept of "ineffective practice". Basically the opposite of the Flintstones. You have powerful magic, amazing architecture, and advanced weapon technology, but people don't make use of all this potential but still do things in a Bronze Age or Neolithic way. And that's what Star Wars does. Robot war elephants. Laser swords. Jet engine chariot racing. You probably can apply this approach to pretty much everything.

Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #8 on: February 29, 2016, 04:24:57 PM »
I find that old ruins, vanished civilizations, myth and legend of various peoples, snippets of history mentioned by characters (The heretics? They've been wandering the land for five hundred years after the church schism, don't trust them those scum) tend to work well.
Basically, things to me make me feel like the world has existed before the novel begins, and wasn't just conjured up for the main character(s).

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Offline ArhiX

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #9 on: February 29, 2016, 04:33:18 PM »
For some reason, Warhammer 40k feels "old" to me.
There are those Chaos Gods, Daemons, Dimensions, neverending wars... Giant space ships exist, and most soldiers will use guns and blasters to purge the unclean, but nothing feels as good, as punching orc to death, or slicing heretics with a mighty blade. I think that's because of "religion" in some way. Modern world (at least in western countries) is less and less religious... People are saying, that it smells of "progress"...
And then... in 41st Milenium, we still have religious wars, heretics and inquisition... which can destroy a whole planet with just one word:
Exterminatus.
"The world is full of stories, and from time to time, they permit themselves to be told."

Offline Yora

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #10 on: February 29, 2016, 04:36:14 PM »
Yeah, I think it's a case of taking a relatively conventional fantasy setting, adding a lot of high tech weapons, but everything still staying pretty much the same. Except now there's an infinite amount of resources to fight nonstop throughout the whole galaxy.
Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

There is nothing to read!

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Making a world feel old
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 05:44:45 AM »
Layers.
Whether it's coats of paint or strata of fossils or anything else where there is a sense that there was something else before what is there now.