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January 5, 2013

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.

Broken Crown Logo

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: http://brokencrowngames.com.

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