Escaping Titan: When science and gaming collide

Escap­ing Titan sounds like just another space-based RPG, but it’s not only the game that inter­ests me, it’s the sci­ence behind the game.

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Escap­ing Titan is a post-apocalyptic single-player RPG, devel­oped by Bro­ken Crown Games, where our solar sys­tem has a new gov­ern­men­tal order with Saturn’s moon Titan at the cen­ter of it. You are an indi­vid­ual look­ing to escape the cor­rup­tion of the new cap­i­tal city, you must acquire a ship, recruit a crew, hag­gle for sup­plies, and deter­mine your des­ti­na­tion, all in your attempt to escape Titan. Bro­ken Crown Games aim to describe the game say­ing that “a sim­ple, but not per­fect, way to describe it would be to mix the sci-fi RPG ele­ments of Mass Effect with the plau­si­bil­ity and edu­ca­tional value of Ore­gon Trail”. But the fas­ci­nat­ing aspect of this game is the think­ing behind the sto­ry­line, Bro­ken Crown Games, have recently launched a forum, ‘Sci­ence Behind the Sci-Fi’, which will serve as a plat­form from where the stu­dio can bounce ideas between gamers and actual sci­en­tists, cov­er­ing sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, engi­neer­ing, and math­e­mat­ics top­ics. This forum is com­prised of a panel of four sci­en­tists in fields related to the science-fiction used within Escap­ing Titan:

Pale­ob­otany: Jamie Boyer, Ph.D.
Neu­ro­science: Robert Hamp­son, Ph.D.
Astro­bi­ol­ogy: Jacob Haqq-Mirsra, Ph.D.
Astromony and Astro­physics: Ami­tai Bin-Nun, Ph.D.

In order to draw atten­tion to the sci­en­tific con­tent from the pan­elists the devel­op­ment team will be using pre­views of the game on the pan­elist blogs to illus­trate how the sci­ence has been using to cre­ate the story within Escap­ing Titan. They will be able to focus on all those ques­tions that sci­ence fic­tion throws up in rela­tion to exis­tence as we know it, e.g., How will we breathe on a planet with no atmos­phere? What will we eat and will it be nutri­tion­ally suf­fi­cient? What shel­ter will we need? What effect will the envi­ron­ment have on the human body? Intro­duc­tions and biogra­phies of the pan­elists are all up on the forum now, as well as the first post from Jamie Boyer, ‘What’s for din­ner?’.

Addi­tion­ally we shouldn’t just think of this inter­ac­tion between gam­ing and sci­ence as an iso­lated inci­dent, if we look back to 2011 gamers actu­ally solved the struc­ture of a retro­virus enzyme whose con­fig­u­ra­tion had stumped sci­en­tists for more than a decade, the results were then pub­lished in the jour­nal Nature Struc­tural & Mol­e­c­u­lar Biol­ogy — the pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tions work both ways.

Bro­ken Crown Games also has two addi­tional games in pre-production: Sur­viv­ing Mars and Col­o­niz­ing Keplar, with Escap­ing Titan hav­ing a planned release date of
quar­ter four 2014 for PC, Mac, Linux, OUYA, (and pos­si­bly Xbox 360).

I think this is some­thing I’ll fol­low and I’m look­ing for­ward to hear­ing what the pan­elists have to say. For more infor­ma­tion on Escap­ing Titan and the Sci­ence Behind the Sci-Fi forum visit the Bro­ken Crown Games Offi­cial Site:

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