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Thread: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

  1. #11

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Pre-SCII, I always thought the primitive protoss absorbed the blood of their prey and/or mashed the meat into a paste.

    To be fair, bamboo is a super grass that grows at a prodigious rate with only sun, water, and a little bit of soil, and is almost impossible to kill ( trust me, I've tried). But that system of course wouldn't supply the requisite energy to fuel a creature like that. In my mind, I always considered the protoss capable of absorbing ALL forms of ambient electromagnetic radiation. There are bacteria and fungus that do this. Hell, even animals like the litoral green sea slug and some species of wasp live off photosynthesis.

  2. #12
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    Uh, Mislag, you do remember that the Xel'Naga altered the Protoss, right? They're obviously the ones that arranged for the Protoss to feed from sunlight. After all, the Protoss weren't created by the Xel'Naga, just changed into their current form.
    Yeah, they’re magical aliens. The Zerg are impossible via standard biology too.

  3. #13

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    The Zerg are impossible via standard biology too.
    Welll... the zerg rely heavily on horizontal gene transfer, which takes components of the genome of separate species and splices them together. To again cite the green sea slug, this is something that happens in the real world.
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  4. #14
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    It happens on Earth because we have a common ancestor but it’s not really feasible for alien species that might use a completely genetic material.

  5. #15

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    It happens on Earth because we have a common ancestor but it’s not really feasible for alien species that might use a completely genetic material.
    Eh, maybe. Of course Blizzard has created a universe where everything is carbon-based life that functions with typical terrestrial amino acid chains and DNA-based genome with a shared chirality. Of course, basically every scifi franchise is guilty of that, with the exception of Mass Effect and a few others.

    But our building blocks are abundant through out the universe, so who's to say what the real level of variation would be?
    Aaand sold.


    Be it through hallowed grounds or lands of sorrow
    The Forger's wake is bereft and fallow

    Is the residuum worth the cost of destruction and maiming;
    Or is the shaping a culling and exercise in taming?

    The road's goal is the Origin of Being
    But be wary through what thickets it winds.

  6. #16
    Gradius's Avatar SC:L Addict
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    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    At best I think you can say the Xel’Naga ran into all those species and made them compatible, but they were only active in the k sector and on Zerus.

  7. #17

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Quote Originally Posted by Nissa View Post
    Uh, Mislag, you do remember that the Xel'Naga altered the Protoss, right? They're obviously the ones that arranged for the Protoss to feed from sunlight. After all, the Protoss weren't created by the Xel'Naga, just changed into their current form.
    I already addressed in my last post. Firstly, Protoss could not derive sufficient energy from photosynthesis to survive even at an impossible 100% efficiency. Secondly, the xel'naga clearly did not have the ability to do that while the Zerg clearly can but do not. Thirdly, the games contradict themselves many times about this and have no understanding of even the most basic real science.

    EDIT: Fourthly, if Protoss had or nearly had purity of form on their own as hunters, then it makes no sense for the xel'naga to fundamentally alter said form by removing their mouths and making them autotrophs. In fact, their psychic link is (weakly) implied to be part of what gives them (potential for) purity of form.

    Here is a quote of the relevant section of my post:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mislagnissa View Post
    There is no way to infer that Protoss lost their mouths and became photosynthetic from reading the manual. The only way to infer that Protoss are photosynthetic is by seeing their artwork, not reading the manual, and not knowing that photosynthesis is not practical for powering animal metabolisms.

    It is physically impossible for animals like the Protoss to survive on photosynthesis. Even with 100% efficiency, which is physically impossible btw as the loss is due to metabolic processes and not just the limited absorption of light, they still do not have enough surface area to absorb enough energy from sunlight to power their metabolisms. Sunlight simply does not have enough energy density in that small a space.

    However, if that is not sufficient to convince you, then I will use an explanation based solely on the lore.

    Firstly, the xel'naga were not that advanced, as shown by the manual explicitly stating they were surprised by the Zerg's skill at genetic engineering. This would suggest that xel'naga were not capable of the same morphological alterations that zerg made. The zerg also gained the xel'naga's knowledge and skill by eating them. Since the zerg are canonically better genetic engineers than the xel'naga and have all their knowledge and skill, then it would stand to reason they would make themselves photosynthetic if it was a viable option. Since they have not, it stands to reason that the xel'naga were either not capable of this or that it is not viable to make that alteration. But you could argue that creep utilizes biological photovoltaic cells, since it is grey and has a huge surface area to catch sunlight.

    Secondly, the photosynthesis retcon was part of the overall wimpifying of the Protoss. In the SC1 manual the protoss were nearly physically perfect and could survive in almost any environment stark naked, which was the original definition of purity of form. Shakuras was darker than Aiur, but the nerazim were so wimpy that they need to genetically alter themselves to survive on moonlight. In the DT novels they needed to wear animal skins to avoid freezing to death in tropical jungles. Hardly pure of form, they are actually inferior to humans in every way.

    Thirdly, protoss portraits breathe while idle and some of them wear gas masks. This would only make sense if they had lungs and breathed through their face, even though the Field Manual explains they have no lungs or orifices.

    Fourthly, it is not like the art direction and lore has not been wildly inconsistent on many other occasions. The zealot in the SC1 Protoss mission success screen has a cone head, no apparent nerve cords, and freakishly long fingers. Compare that to the SCR artwork, which is supposed to represent the most recent conception of Protoss anatomy. Artanis varies wildly in appearance across the games and even within SCR his 3D model and 2D portrait look completely different. Zeratul has nipples only in some of his appearances, but not others.

    Fifthly, the fluff constantly contradicts itself and just plain makes no sense much of the time. The Field Manual explicitly states that Protoss have no orifices whatsoever. Whatever definition of "orifice" it is using is suspect, since the Protoss have eye sockets would should qualify as orifices. The microscopic pores they supposedly use for eating/shitting should also qualify as orifices. The authorship is just scientifically illiterate despite supposedly being written by actual scientists.
    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    Pre-SCII, I always thought the primitive protoss absorbed the blood of their prey and/or mashed the meat into a paste.
    I figured the Protoss had mouths in their hands and feet. If that was not exotic enough, then I figured that digestion occurs outside their body like in arachnids and antlions and they drain the digested innards of their prey. Metzen's first idea for Starcraft was literally "space vampires" before everyone else talked him out of it (and for good reason, yeesh!), but I thought it would be a nice in-joke/reference.

    Here are some pictures of what I mean:



    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    To be fair, bamboo is a super grass that grows at a prodigious rate with only sun, water, and a little bit of soil, and is almost impossible to kill ( trust me, I've tried). But that system of course wouldn't supply the requisite energy to fuel a creature like that. In my mind, I always considered the protoss capable of absorbing ALL forms of ambient electromagnetic radiation. There are bacteria and fungus that do this. Hell, even animals like the litoral green sea slug and some species of wasp live off photosynthesis.
    The reason why visible light is used for photosynthesis and why all animals with eyes can see at least visible light is because it has the perfect frequency to power photosynthesis without killing the cells. Infrared and lower is not powerful enough to power cell metabolisms, while ultraviolet is too powerful and would break apart biological macromolecules. That is why overexposure to ultraviolet light causes cancer and all diurnal organisms have developed skin protection.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    Yeah, they’re magical aliens. The Zerg are impossible via standard biology too.
    There is a difference between taking real biology to absurd extremes, disregarding any semblance of real science, and not trying to explain the science because any efforts would fail.

    Zerg biology is rarely explained in sufficient detail to contradict real science and what little is explained is often too alien to really quantify in terms of real science. For example, at one point Zerg are stated to have "singing organelles" that allow them to share genes remotely, but we don't get any actual mechanics for this and there are already real life mechanisms that could easily explain it such as radio. At some points the authors outright give up rather than make up pseudoscience. The mutalisks, for example, are stated to fly in space through unknown means. For the most part, Zerg biology is left to our imagination.

    Protoss biology, by contrast, is explained in too much detail. What little we are told makes no sense since it violates everything we know or could predict about biology. Their physiology behaves more like that of an impossible space demon from a Cthulhu mythos story, and we are expected to accept it at face value even though it makes no sense at any point in its description.



    Quote Originally Posted by dimetrodone
    There is no way I can make sense of the Protoss so I just redesigned them so they would fit their ecological niche more


    Their skin is full of black-pigmented photosynthetic “bacteria”, so efficient at light absorption they can synthesis at night and low light conditions. Their arms and hands are actually heavily modified oral proboscises, which they still use for feeding (mainly to find more “bacteria”).

    While they can make noises with their breathing vents on the underside of their body, their main form of communication is through electrosignalling. Their electroreception is so fine that they can even “read” basic signals happening inside other organisms brains. The bioluminescent patches under their eyes acted somewhat as “headlights” for their ancestors much like Earth’s Spotlight Loosejaw fish, but nowadays are more important for making facial expressions and body language.

    Unlike Eukaryotes the Protoss’ chromosomes are rings as opposed to strands. This may be the reason for their remarkable lifespan, and arnt prone to many of the effects of aging that humans face, tho they still have increase risks of cancer as they grow older.
    That is what the Protoss would look like if they were designed by a real biologist, and not rip offs of the Eldar drawn by Chris Metzen. The problem here is that the artist modeled them after their SC2 science, which results in an ectothermic herbivore that spends all its time eating algae. It is not feasible that race would develop into proud warrior space egyptians, so they would need to be redesigned AGAIN into predators. That would ditch the photosynthesis, but who cares about keeping the photosynthesis? I want my space vampires, darn it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Visions of Khas View Post
    Eh, maybe. Of course Blizzard has created a universe where everything is carbon-based life that functions with typical terrestrial amino acid chains and DNA-based genome with a shared chirality. Of course, basically every scifi franchise is guilty of that, with the exception of Mass Effect and a few others.

    But our building blocks are abundant through out the universe, so who's to say what the real level of variation would be?
    Quote Originally Posted by Gradius View Post
    At best I think you can say the Xel’Naga ran into all those species and made them compatible, but they were only active in the k sector and on Zerus.
    That makes only partial sense and I would ignore it as silly Blizzard nonsense.

    Carbon-based life can only exist in very specific conditions. Zerus was too hot to support carbon-based life or liquid water and was located in the galactic core where radiation would have made such life impossible, so I would have to conclude that the primordial Zerg used silicon as the backbone of their biological macromolecules, drank sulfuric acid instead of water, and respired a halogen like fluorine or chlorine instead of oxygen. A human being who stepped foot on Zerus would be instantly crushed, incinerated and doused with acid at the same time.
    Last edited by Mislagnissa; 02-23-2018 at 09:52 AM.

  8. #18

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    I like your assessment of the ancient zerg biology, but we still have to square it with what we see of the modern-era Zerus, which doesn't seem nearly as inhospitable to carbon based life. Its possible Zerus underwent a Siderian oxidation event similar to Earth's. Perhaps the ancient zerg, then obligate anaerobic organisms, were able to acclimate to this environment by assimilating aerobic life. Oxygen would make for a better source of energy for their metabolism anyways.

  9. #19

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    Eh, I agree with the OP on the "sweating out feces" thing, that's just stupid "the dur its fiction" is not a good enough excuse for that.

    there's certain levels of disbelief that can't be overcome.

    everything else I agree with you guys on though.

  10. #20

    Default Re: Protoss photosynthesis is ridiculous

    and not knowing that photosynthesis is not practical for powering animal metabolisms.
    Photosynthesis as we know it maybe. Saying that it's impossible according to the scientific examples and knowledge we have is the most pointless position you could ever take in a magical universe. You could only debate that it doesn't make sense if there were facts in that universe that would contradict that possibility. Your first argument is that they used to be hunters. Hell for all we know, maybe they hunted some fictive species that have light emitting organs or something.

    It is physically impossible for animals like the Protoss to survive on photosynthesis. Even with 100% efficiency, which is physically impossible btw as the loss is due to metabolic processes and not just the limited absorption of light, they still do not have enough surface area to absorb enough energy from sunlight to power their metabolisms. Sunlight simply does not have enough energy density in that small a space.
    They're perfect in form, they've been enhanced and they have magic abilities... nothing is impossible. You don't talk about how they store the energy. You don't know how efficient their metabolism is. You don't know if sunlight is their only source of energy. etc etc etc. There's no point to this argument because again, all you know is that they eat sunlight.


    Firstly, the xel'naga were not that advanced, as shown by the manual explicitly stating they were surprised by the Zerg's skill at genetic engineering.
    Explicitly stating? This is the only paragraph that would show hints of surprise:

    [...] The Xel’Naga soon made an alarming
    discovery. The original races assimilated by the
    Zerg were hardly recognizable after only a few
    generations of their inception. Somehow the
    Zerg had developed the ability to supercharge
    and steer the latent evolutionary processes
    within their host creatures.[...]
    "Alarming discovery" is far from meaning "surprised due to superior genetic engineering skills".

    Since the zerg are canonically better genetic engineers than the xel'naga and have all their knowledge and skill, then it would stand to reason they would make themselves photosynthetic if it was a viable option. Since they have not, it stands to reason that the xel'naga were either not capable of this or that it is not viable to make that alteration. But you could argue that creep utilizes biological photovoltaic cells, since it is grey and has a huge surface area to catch sunlight.
    If they had all of their knowledge and skills, then why would they need a determinant in the first place? They would most likely have the code to produce a Protoss because if the XN enhanced the protoss, it is likely that they possessed the genetic information of the protoss. They must at least do partially if anything. For some unknown reason they can't though. Whatever that reason is, it might also be the same reason why photosynthesis, as used by the protoss, is not something that is so easily done. That is, even for masters of genetic manipulation.

    Secondly, the photosynthesis retcon was part of the overall wimpifying of the Protoss. In the SC1 manual the protoss were nearly physically perfect and could survive in almost any environment stark naked, which was the original definition of purity of form. Shakuras was darker than Aiur, but the nerazim were so wimpy that they need to genetically alter themselves to survive on moonlight. In the DT novels they needed to wear animal skins to avoid freezing to death in tropical jungles. Hardly pure of form, they are actually inferior to humans in every way.
    Fair observation but this is more of a rant against the writing direction than an argument against the possibility of photosynthesis These novels aren't canon anyways.

    Thirdly, protoss portraits breathe while idle and some of them wear gas masks. This would only make sense if they had lungs and breathed through their face, even though the Field Manual explains they have no lungs or orifices.
    Again, fair observation though, like I said, we don't know how their internal biology works at all. The breathing motion doesn't have to be related to typical animal breathing. If they have no orifices, then possibly their skin can breath. Maybe their facial skin is much thinner than the rest of their body which would explain the gas masks.

    Where does the field manual cites that anyways? I don't remember that. Wouldn't surprise me though.

    "gills": https://www.artstation.com/artwork/protoss In that image a nerazim is presented as having folds of skin on their face, presumably gills and/or facial muscles that serve a role in body language.
    I'd be fine with this. Very impractical to eat if that is where you're going but otherwise that's a nice "hidden" mouth.

    I don't like the sucking idea though. I find it very lame.


    That is stupid and makes the nerazim look like lame posers. Not that I expected any different from Blizzard.

    In world building with verisimilitude and believably, the veils would have relevance to their culture and physiology. Veils are worn to veil things, so it stands to reason that in any vaguely realistic world building the nerazim wear veils to conceal their feelings. This leads to the conclusion that Protoss must have some kind of body language, which at least partly relies on facial muscles below the eyes. From there, you come to the conclusion that their telepathy and khala are not the only way they communicate and may in fact cloud their communication compared to speaking face-to-face.
    Most would disagree with you on this. Their ninja style is part of the appeal. But again, it doesn't need practical sense. Your drawing conclusions too far.

    Seriously, I think they look silly. From an artistic perspective those faces are a lopsided waste of space. The jawline needs facial features of some kind, or the eyes need to be moved to the center of the face, or the entire chin needs to be removed.
    Well there you go, maybe that's why they hide it they wouldn't want to insult your superior fashion senses

    Eh, I agree with the OP on the "sweating out feces" thing, that's just stupid "the dur its fiction" is not a good enough excuse for that.
    I don't even know where he got that anyways. Who said that?

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