The world we live in is full of all kinds of different environments from forests to oceans to deserts and mountains. A single apex predator – that stands no chance against a man with a gun – relies upon a huge amount of lower-tier life to support it.
A realistic science fiction universe would have similarly diverse planets, though habitable planets would be rare and life across different planets would likely have incompatible biologies and chemistry. They couldn’t eat each other’s food, let alone get up to any Kirkian shenanigans.
So fuck that in the ear.
What are the planets we remember?
Arrakis, Warhammer’s Hive worlds, the Jungle world of Pandora (or the wasteland one of the same name in Borderlands), Coruscant, The Smoke Ring, Hoth.
Worlds with one strong note, single environments, really strong hooks, these are the ones that stick with us.
Doesn’t make sense to have a gigantic, blaster-proof predator hanging out on an asteroid? Well, screw that then. We’ll paper a vague excuse over the top and that’ll be fine. Story is prime so if we need a badass creature then fuck it, it lives there and will eat your face.
Incompatible biologies, food and anatomies? What’s the point of travelling to the stars if you can’t snag yourself a green-skinned dancing girl or an Arcturan cabana-boy with a prehensile wang?
So screw that, as well then. Humanity is ubiquitous, most of the other races are close to human or at least humanoid and if we want something different there’s capacity in the game to do something truly alien too.
Realism and plausibility has its place and my games are usually about plausibility. Sometimes, though, you just want to le everything go and make allowances for people to go completely nuts.