Sci-Fri Special: The Design Fiction of Starfield
An early look at some tiny details in an astronomically massive game world.
It’s #Sci-Friday and I want to recognize some fellow substackers who have joined me in sharing their favourite sci-fi reads/watches/plays etc. on Sci-Friday. Pay them a visit and get your fill of sci-fi goodness with excellent recommendations from excellent content creators.
After years of eager anticipation, Bethesda Games' much-hyped "Starfield" has finally graced the gaming world. Set in the year 2330, this science fiction RPG paints a narrative where humanity, having outgrown Earth, now thrives among the stars, specifically within a cluster known as the Settled Systems.
Though "Starfield" is laden with missions, objectives, and achievements, it's not just about ticking boxes. At its heart, it's a vast, expansive open-world sandbox teeming with possibilities, and that's precisely what has captured my intrigue. Just as one might journey back in time to explore relics of bygone eras, I see this game as a unique portal for a sort of "futures archaeology."
The game's universe, consisting of whole planets, beckons with countless cities and outposts ripe for discovery. Bear in mind, the sheer enormity of "Starfield" is such that even after three days post-release, its vastness remains largely uncharted here. My playthroughs, admittedly, are thrice as lengthy as the average gamer's, given my penchant for pausing to collect artifacts, even as I strive to progress my in-game character.
Rest assured, this ‘review’ won't tread into spoiler territory regarding gameplay. Instead, I'll spotlight those subtle details and nuances, often overlooked, that breathe life into the game's universe and hint at the rich lore beneath its surface.
Design Fiction Practice
Design Fiction is an exercise in stretching the bounds of imagination. Engaging with an immersive game like "Starfield" alleviates some of that creative burden, paving the way for unbridled exploration and discovery. It's akin to a rehearsal for the imaginative journey one undertakes when crafting design fiction artifacts. Delving into new locations, scrutinizing hidden nooks, rifling through drawers, unearthing artifacts, and documenting diverse archetypes—these actions in-game hone the skill needed to visualize and create such scenarios mentally.
So, without further ado, let's delve into some intriguing details from my initial hours in the gameplay.
Abandoned Lab on Planet Kreet
On this planet lies an abandoned laboratory, its many chambers beckoning with secrets waiting to be unveiled. While there are items aplenty to collect, the real treasures are the intricacies in set design that double as design fiction artifacts. These details, subtle yet telling, offer glimpses into the rich tapestry of this world.
Among these finds, several seemingly mundane objects stand out, often with a hint of whimsy.
Apologies in advance for the low contrast in the photos that follow; the lab's dim ambiance is to blame. But hang tight—the next destination promises brighter visuals.
A meticulous examination of the corner icons sheds light on the lurking perils within this location. While many of these symbols are immediately identifiable, a few remain enigmatic. Nonetheless, they all appear to be in line with what one might typically anticipate.
It’s nice to see the cringe of office culture continue to exist in this future. Let’s dig even deeper …