What is a realistic alien? Conceptual discussion, not a bash the designs thread.

Discussion in 'Transformers Movie Discussion' started by $5HotRod, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. $5HotRod

    $5HotRod Trailbreaker Fan

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    1,401
    Trophy Points:
    161
    Likes:
    +1
    Ebay:
    This thread isn't designed to complain about the new designs for the TFs since there're already enough of those as-is. Instead, I would like to ask a question since I've read this phrase a few times throughout the board.

    What is a "realistic alien"?

    This thread touched on this a bit (http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/showthread.php?t=109591); however, I felt this topic warranted a separate thread.

    I also have to admit that I'm a bit confused by what a "realistic alien," I'm referring to extraterrestrial term, supposedly looks like. As far as I know, the only extraterrestrial aliens that might be realistic, I don't know for sure, are little guys with large, bulbous heads and ovular eyes.

    But enough of that, back to the TF movie. Why are the movie designs referred to as more "realistically alien" than previous TF designs? I would think sentient robots, gigantic or not, would be enough to qualify as sufficient. Such as...say the War Within designs where they don't have "technically" any earthly influence since they haven't been to Earth yet (I was trying to think of a non-G1-related reference but I'm coming up short at the moment). Compared to the movie designs, they don't look anywhere nearly as movable/articulate if the "metal acts like skin" technique that's been pretty popular over the years is not used. That being the case, wouldn't "realistic robots" be a more accurate term since the alien part would just mean coming from space and not native to Earth? What would make one more alien than another?

    Okay, I think that just sufficiently painted a rather large bullseye on myself. Again, this isn't designed as a "movie designs are (insert derogatory term here)" thread but more of a conceptual/theoretical idea thread.
     
  2. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Posts:
    10,535
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Likes:
    +136
    Good luck with this. I tried to have a no-bashing conceptual discussion here before, but nobody understands or cares what that means. The hatred is withoud end, without boundaries, and really fucking annoying.
     
  3. QuantumShock

    QuantumShock Stay for brunch ?

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Posts:
    3,209
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +10
    Transformers are aliens, just that the movie's perception of Transformers is different from what we have imagine, and many(not me) dislike it. That's all from what I have observed after joining the board during the Meg design hiatus.
     
  4. $5HotRod

    $5HotRod Trailbreaker Fan

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    1,401
    Trophy Points:
    161
    Likes:
    +1
    Ebay:
    Right, Transformers are aliens. I'm just asking what makes one more realistically alien than the other. Realistic articulate designs is a whole other story, but what makes one more alien than another is what I'm after.

    Yeah, I know but I'm trying to remain optimistic and not bum myself out before work.
     
  5. Draven

    Draven Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2002
    Posts:
    23,860
    News Credits:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    286
    Likes:
    +5
    How would we know?
     
  6. $5HotRod

    $5HotRod Trailbreaker Fan

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    1,401
    Trophy Points:
    161
    Likes:
    +1
    Ebay:
    Exactly my point.
     
  7. QuantumShock

    QuantumShock Stay for brunch ?

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Posts:
    3,209
    News Credits:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    202
    Likes:
    +10
    Perhaps I went out topic just now. What I meant is it's the movie's own perception of "realistically aliens".
     
  8. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Posts:
    10,535
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Likes:
    +136
    I think the best way to come up with a "realistic" alien is to first consider the alien's environment and what features would likely develop to suit that environment. Its body would be composed of materials common in its environment. We can usually assume that it needs a way to move that suits its environment, a way of intaking an available energy source in its environment, and a way of sensing that environment so it can navigate toward energy sources and away from threats.

    Also important to consider:
    -What role does the alien play in its environment? Dominant species? Predator? Forager? Flora?
    -Is it social? How does it communicate?
    -Is it intelligent? If so, how does it take advantage of that intelligence? What features or behaviors would it develop to compliment its intelligence?

    When trying to make an alien convincing to skeptics, you have to take into consideration the unlikelyhood of encountering a species too similar to humans, especially if the alien comes from an environment that is not Earth-like. When trying to create alien protagonist characters in fiction, you must also be careful to be sure the audience can understand and relate to the aliens. Trying to balance these two is difficult.
     
  9. Majin Tenshi

    Majin Tenshi Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Likes:
    +0
    Well, as for realistic aliens.... any species that evolved into what we consider technology seems rather unlikely.

    Any alien design thats based on something that already exists on earth is as realistic as it is unlikely. Its reasonable to assume that laws of natural selection to apply to other worlds just as much as they do here. Its possible that the limited variety of life on earth is representative of the best designs that can evolve. That method of thinking suggests that any aliens would likely resemble something allready familiar to us and hopefuly we'd be able to relate to them.

    Another way of looking at things is that life that developed elsewhere would have little to nothing in common with anything on earth. Its theorized that life could be silicon based instead of carbon based. I imagine if you looked, you could find half decent theories concerning life in super harsh environments such as on a star or in the vacume of space. I put forth that its even possible that an alien's senses could be based on aspects of reality that we aren't even aware of. For all of the technologhy that we've developed to analyze the universe, its really only expansions on touch, sight and hearing. Whats to say there aren't ways to percieve the universe that we are completly unaware of simply because we don't come with them built in.

    Aliens so radicaly different from earthlings would be difficult if not impossible to communicate with. Just look at the cultural variety of earth. I'm sure you could find dozens of cultures that anyone here would find outright apauling. I'm not talking about poverty, I'm talking about customs and stuff. I'm sure there are plenty of cultures that find you just as weird.

    Multiply this by a thousand because the cultures of earth have had contact and drift with each other. Aliens wouldn't have had any contact with us to blur their culture to something we could deal with.

    If you want to make realistic transformers, take away their humanity and make them behave in a way that doesn't make any sense whatsoever.
     
  10. Ger_Hankey

    Ger_Hankey Now hiring evil minions

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Posts:
    367
    Trophy Points:
    121
    Likes:
    +0
    Why would they have to be all that different from Humans? Nature throughout the universe would provide the best solution to the problems life encounters through evolution. If we (humans) are the best solution (so far) to surviving and thriving in our environment, then it would be safe to assume that Aliens in similar circumstances would develop along similar lines. From what we have known about Cybertron, it is supposedly similar to earth, in that is has gravity, and therefore some sort of gasseous environment, and the buildings/infrastructure seem to have developed along similar lines to ours (except that everything is metal). Unless the film makers decide to deviate a lot from what has been established in the past about Cybertron, there is no reason to think that the Transformers shouldn't look humanoid.
     
  11. Majin Tenshi

    Majin Tenshi Member

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2006
    Posts:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Likes:
    +0
    Actualy the human design has plenty more to do with its evolutionary history then it does gravity and gasses and stuff. You're assumeing that they had something monkey-like to evolve from. Our hand design was originaly a way for monkeys to hold onto the trees they lived in.

    early (tree dwelling) monkeys -> no more trees so at mercy of grasslands -> growing taller to see over the grasslands -> free hands to use tools -> bigger brain to use better tools

    What if you took something like a scorpion, with slightly more articulate pincers and tail, and evolved that on the lines of intelligence rather the keep it simple stupid?

    Chance plays heavily into evolution. For instance, some creature that would've started a great line could be cought in an avalanche and die for no real reason related to its survivabilty. Wrong place, wrong time.
     
  12. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Posts:
    10,535
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Likes:
    +136
    First of all, having gravity and a gasseous atmosphere is not a very compelling similarity to Earth. Without more qualifications than that, we should assume there are human-like creatures living on the surface of Jupiter. Second, nature does not come up with the best solution for the problems a life form encounters through evolution. It selects the best out of the solutions that crop up randomly. Even on a very similar planet, an entirely different set of possible solutions could arise. Finally, do bear in mind that the entire surface of Cybertron being made of hard metal makes it incredibly dissimilar to the environments found on Earth, meaning life on Cybertron would find different methods of adapting. This is compounded by the fact that a mechanical life form does not even operate on the same principles as the organic cell-based life here on Earth. Starting from those conditions, Cybertronian life would most likely be even more non-human than the movie designs we've been seeing.
     
  13. useless

    useless Completely Unreasonable TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2003
    Posts:
    1,257
    Trophy Points:
    191
    Likes:
    +0
    From A Hard Sci Fi standpoint there is no reason why an extraterrstial sentient speicies would have similarly operating sense organs, similar facial structure or body proportions

    The biggies would be: some kind of opposable digits, some sensory method of distance measurement (in humans: sterioscopic vision), and some means of comunication: Just about everything else could be vairable.

    There isn't actually any real reason why any one speices couldn't be bepeidal with more or less humanoid proportions (particualrly one that might be interested in Earth, or one living on a plaent we might be interested in): its a fairly good configuration for tool using, land dweling creatues in earth like environments.

    The lack of realism really only steps in with the likes of Star Trek or Babylon 5 where extremely Human-like is the norm to an enormous extent simply because of the realities of having to potray them with human actors.

    Although some Hard Sci-fi fans try to insist that almost all aliens in sci-fi should be radically non-human like just because they could be, I tend to disagee. IMO thats just an over-reaction to the large number of Vulcan/Klingon Types of aliens in TV and movie sci-fi.


    This would be true if Transformers were truly an evolutionariy speicies, in fact in just about every version where their origiins have been explored its been much more deliberate creation, at which point the enviroment of Cybertron becomes less relivant.
     
  14. Seth Buzzard

    Seth Buzzard R.I.P. Buzzbeak Content Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Posts:
    15,170
    News Credits:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    282
    Likes:
    +4
    In the case of the Transformers I think the question of evolution is some what irrelevant. They come to earth and quickly adapt there vehicle modes and learn English to blend in. If they are going to go through that much trouble then why not take the extra step and adapt a more human appearance to there robot modes? Clearly they have the ability to radically change there physical form with out much effort.

    I think it would have been more of an interesting contrast if they made the Autobots a little more G1ish as they try to connect more with the humans and leave the Decepticons as they are because they are conquering a-holes that don’t give a carp about the foolish flesh creatures.
     
  15. flamepanther

    flamepanther Interested, but not really

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Posts:
    10,535
    Trophy Points:
    292
    Likes:
    +136
    Bingo on all of the above. That's part of why I don't mind the movie designs being bipedal.
    Less relevant, but not irrelevant. They still need to be suited to their environment. Even so, let's think about how they might approach this in the movie. Holywood movie, taking pains to be more realistic than all previous versions of TF and keep things easy for casual non-fan viewers and general sci-fi fans to swallow. Are they going to have the TFs and their planet built by (and/or out of) a god? I'm thinking no. Built by aliens? Then they'd likely be built in the image of their creator aliens, in which case aspects of the evolution question still apply. I think our biggest hint about how this might be handled comes from Megatron, however. We're told that he has a Darwinian mindset and sees himself as the pinnacle of evolution. Ergo Megatron believes that TransFormers evolve. He'd know better than we would, I should think.
    That may depend on what you mean by "much effort". In any case, the Autobots initially adopt their Earth forms in order to avoid contact and person-to-person interaction with humans. If they were hoping to avoid that, I'm sure they'd also hope not to rearrange their own faces too. Once their cover is blown, they're probably a bit too busy kicking Decepticon ass to do much about it. I'm thinking they'll adopt more human-like faces between this movie and the sequel.
    That would be cool and make a lot of sense. Maybe in the sequel.
     
  16. Ger_Hankey

    Ger_Hankey Now hiring evil minions

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Posts:
    367
    Trophy Points:
    121
    Likes:
    +0
    Judging by all the (very good and valid) points made in this thread, a realistic alien could very well be anything at all, from something very human-like to a gelatinous blob. How this applies to transformers then, It pretty much means that if the film-makers want to make the them more "Alien" looking, they could do pretty much whatever they wanted. Even more like the G1 Transformers.
     
  17. Ops_was_a_truck

    Ops_was_a_truck JOOOLIE ANDREWWWWWS!!!!!!

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Posts:
    11,549
    Trophy Points:
    236
    Likes:
    +0
    Ebay:
    Klingons. Anyone that disagrees can fucking die.
     
  18. PrimeConvoy

    PrimeConvoy ShickaBAM!

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2004
    Posts:
    749
    Trophy Points:
    156
    Likes:
    +0
    I guess you can say that alien is something unknown or something not understood by people and what makes these designs are more "realistic" looking are for those reasona. To the fandom and to many more, Transformers has had the same general look for the pass 22 year making it a common look/style and no longer something unknown. So when you take that out and change it, you get a more realistic alien..I guess, casue I dont really understand why they did it at all.
     
  19. Zzeezz

    Zzeezz Ambassador of Music TFW2005 Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2003
    Posts:
    1,326
    Trophy Points:
    211
    Likes:
    +0
    I think evolution can apply to the transformers. What I'm not sure about is if its a "natural" evolution or a "forced evolution". By natural I mean a somewhat passive ( on the part of the lifeform evolving) process brought on by natural pressure, and "forced" being that the lifeform actively changes its structure in any way it sees fit.

    Realistically, I see Transformers as a "forced evolution". I can't conceive of them evolving naturally in the way a biological lifeform would. I think that TFs are a created species that developed sentience on their own or were given it by the makers, whoever they are.

    Here's a point that's been on my mind for a while now. Its been said the the movie TFs were designed the way they were because the older designs would have trouble moving realistically. By realistic, I assume they mean moving in a human manner. Well, why do they have to move like humans? Can't robots have limitations to their range of motion and still be realistic? I'm not sure if I have an answer on that or not. Feel free to discuss.
     
  20. Dark_Convoy

    Dark_Convoy Old Bastard Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2002
    Posts:
    17,201
    Trophy Points:
    271
    Likes:
    +0

Share This Page