When I was a little boy, I watched a show called Starblazers. I was four and the series blew my mind. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen, which isn’t saying much, I was four.
We didn’t even call it by the title because we couldn’t read. I think we called it “Our Star” because that’s how the theme song started. The details are fuzzy by the time I was nine, the series had come to an end and Robotech started up.
Robotech was even better than Starblazers and I think the two adapted series firmly planted in my mind that all starships should have a main cannon. Besides, giant robots.
Through the next decade of my life I looked for cartoons that would do for me what these two shows did for me. They set up an ongoing story that dazzled my young mind with a dangerous world and a reasonably well thought out consistency.* Shows like Transformers delivered giant robots but with bizarre and often staggering inconsistency.
Star Trek was also a favorite. My father is a fan of Trek so that helped out. He also liked Star Wars which, I wonder if the dangerous world presented there, seeded my mind to look for that kind of story. I enjoyed Trek, but it never felt like “my” show even though I still identify strongly with it.
Starblazers and Robotech always felt like they were “mine”. It didn’t matter that few people knew what Robotech was and no one I knew had ever seen Starblazers.
I think the next cartoon I enjoyed was the nineties Batman series. It was written far better than almost any other animated show of the time. I’m still not really interested in Batman per se, but the art direction and writing was head and shoulders above anything else.
In the nineties I had an opportunity to watch Starblazers. I managed to locate some VHS tapes of the series and I bought them all. The tragedy was that the show was terrible. I got a few episodes in and had to stop lest I destroy my childhood memories. I can’t hold the show up to the pinnacle that I once did. I wonder if the original Japanese title would be more watchable?# Robotech held up considerably better.
During the nineties we also got to play a lot of Palladium’s Robotech. The movie Stargate also came out and showed me that you don’t need starships to make a good Sci-Fi movie. It was in this atmosphere that The Artifact was born. Seeded by an amalgam of Cybertron, Robotech, a hint of Starblazers and Stargate. I fed it a diet of Science news that I was reading and let it grow.
Over the course of playing The Artifact, it’s taken on it’s own life and it’s branched out in strange ways that filled in the gaps. One of the first questions that I had to answer was, what’s inside this thing? A question I don’t think any other BDO** fiction has. The answers ended up far more structured and less wild than I had originally envisioned.
The next question was how do the people fit into this landscape and how do they live? This has been the most interesting of the story’s answers. It’s down to the point where I can tell you how a Scimrahn brushes her teeth. I realize that it’s silly that we’ve gone that far but that kind of world building happens over 19 years of play.
So that’s what got us here. I hope that makes sense to somebody.
*The adaptations did not always deliver this but the consistency of the original world did show through.
#I just got a copy of the 2010 movie Space Battleship Yamato which is not bad for it’s tiny 12 million dollar budget.
**Big Dumb Object