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The Game of Now And Forever

 
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Bogo Sort
QUOTE, BUY, PRINT!


Joined: 26 Mar 2005
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Location: six blocks east of mars

PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 2:22 am    Post subject: The Game of Now And Forever Reply with quote

This is a thread wherein I play Star Control 2.

Actually I'm not playing Star Control 2, but a remake of the game called The Ur-Quan Masters. It's available for free and it's pretty awesome. Here's a link:

http://sc2.sourceforge.net/downloads.php

It's a pretty sweet game.

I'd write a big old intro but the game doesn't really need one. It's a genre-defying space opera adventure. It's exciting, mysterious, and funny. It's a really great game, but it's from 1992 and therefore missing a lot of things people take for granted in modern games, like automatic saving and a quest log. It was released at the tail end of an era when playing a PC game meant jotting down notes on pieces of scrap paper as you played and it shows. This is why I'm playing it here instead of telling everybody else to play it.

The game is reasonably nonlinear in that you get to pick which things you're going to prioritize and there are multiple ways to solve certain objectives, so I'll let you guys do a lot of the steering as I go through this.

With that said, here we go:


(box art image was not stolen from moby games that watermark is a lie. also how frikkin sweet is that box art its pretty sweet if i do say so myself)





Here's the intro movie, recorded from the DOS version of the game by somebody who isn't me. Watch it, as it explains everything we need to know at the start of the game:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3guaqAj5EVM

------

What has happened to Earth? Why haven't you heard from them in all of these years? Are they still at war with the Ur-Quan? Has Earth fallen to an Ur-Quan invasion? What are the Ur-Quan, anyway? We start the game at the edge of Earth's solar system, about to find answers to these questions.



Our ship has a crew of 50 souls from the lost planet of Unzervalt and only the most basic of systems. It's slow, it lacks maneuverability, and its weapons are minimal. Also in tow we have a small Earthling Crusier which mostly has the same problems.

By default, our ship's name is the Vindicator and it's commanded by Captain Zelnick. But we can name the ship and captain whatever we want. What shall we call the commander and his vessel?


Last edited by Bogo Sort on Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:16 am; edited 1 time in total
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Bogo Sort
QUOTE, BUY, PRINT!


Joined: 26 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 2:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one has any suggestions so we're going to stick with The Vindicator and Zelnick. Moving on.

We begin the game by flying the ship towards Earth.



As the Vindicator gradually gets closer, we discover a number of new, interesting things.



1. Earth is now red.
2. There's a starbase in Earth orbit.
3. There's some kind of smaller red glowing object next to the earth. This object moves rapidly toward the Vindicator as it gets closer to the earth. It's much faster than the Vindicator.
4. The moon is still there. It's still gray. It's not red or anything like that.

Obviously something has changed dramatically on the Earth in the past few decades if it's now red. But before we can figure out what that is, we get intercepted by the smaller glowing red object. It contacts us as soon as it gets close.





THIS DRONE VESSEL wrote:
You are trespassing within Ur-Quan space.
This world, Earth, may not be approached for any reason.
Nor will hostilities against our orbital platform be tolerated.
In addition, your ship does not respond to standard Hierarchy identification transmissions...
..and is therefore deemed to be... independent.
This is not permissible -- only subservience shall be tolerated.
This drone now leaves to inform the Ur-Quan of your transgressions.
You are commanded to remain here and await the arrival of the Ur-Quan.
Disobedience will be punished.

Oh. Wonderful. They know we're here.

We fly a little further to Earth, which is now red instead of the normal Earth colors, in case you forgot.



Yeah, there's definitely some kind of red thing in the way. The planet can't be scanned and communicated with.

Lacking anything else in the immediate surroundings, we turn to the station.





Slave planet. Great. So much for continuing the fight against the Ur-Quan.

Commander Hayes wrote:
our HyperWave broadcasts -- extremely weak...
..situation critical -- energy cores exhausted...
..scanners and deep radar are non-functional...
..we cannot identify your vessel...
...Are you the scheduled Hierarchy resupply ship?
Repeat, are you the resupply vessel?

Uhm.... no?

Commander Hayes wrote:
According to our Oath of Fealty to the Ur-Quan, we must maintain this starbase...
..but, we have no space vessels of our own...
..and the shield prevents us from contacting Earth...
..so we are totally dependent on the Ur-Quan supply vessels fro everything we need up here.
We know there is a Hierarchy base on the surface of the moon, but we can't contact them.
The Ur-Quan were supposed to resupply the base at regular, five year intervals...
..but we haven't received anything in almost eight years!
What we don't recycle we can usually synthesize...
..but to do so, we need replacement radioactives for our generator energy cores.
If you could bring us some radioactive elements, we can fabricate the cores ourselves.

So in review: the red glow that covers the Earth is apparently a shield, the Ur-Quan haven't sent a resupply vessel in eight years, there's a base on the moon that's run by something called the Hierarchy (the Ur-Quan? The probe identified itself as a Hierarchy probe.), and the station is apparently bound to serve the Ur-Quan by something called The Oath of Fealty. Oh, and they need radioactive materials or else they're gonna die.

Hayes goes on to say that radioactives can be found on Mercury, but that Mercury is a treacherous world to land on. We'll see about that.

We fly over to Mercury and scan the surface.



The orangey rectangle at the bottom of the screen shows us the distribution of minerals on the planet's surface. Each dot is a deposit of minerals. The larger the dot is, the bigger the deposit. The gray dots indicate metals of a basic value and utility, like iron. The yellow dots indicate deposits of precious metals, like gold or silver. The red dots are even more valuable, and indicate radioactive elements. Those are what we need.

So we send out a lander to go pick up some radioactives.



Interesting detail! Look closely at the green circles in the bottom right corner of that last screen shot. Note that four circles have been blacked out. That's because four of the crew of the lander died during the mission. I've just started the game and I'm down to forty-six crewmemebers already. Mining planets is dangerous.

I collect some more metals and stuff from the surface of Mercury because I figure that I'll need them eventually anyway. I don't lose anybody this time.

We then go back to the station.



We transfer the radioactives, and the station brightens up and stops flickering between red and green.







Commander Hayes wrote:
Just who ARE you, Captain?

Zelnick wrote:
I am Captain Zelnick of the starship Vindicator. We are the survivors of a Star Control science research team to the Vela star system.

Commander Hayes wrote:
Star Control science mission, eh?
Captain, I served as a Star Control officer during the war, aboard several cruisers in the Coreward Front...
..and if there had been any 'scientific mission' to Vela...
..I would have heard about it.

Hmmm... you know, come to think of it...
..there were some rumors that Corridor Nine, the special operations division of Star Control...
..was directing some hush-hush operation near Androsynth space...
The Vela star system... yes, that would be the right direction...

..So, Captain... if you say it's true...
..how do you explain that huge, alien starship you're flying...
..and why are you here? What do you want from us?


There aren't a lot of options here for what to say. It would have been cool if you could demand something else, but for this conversation you're limited to:

Zelnick wrote:
We have returned to Earth to give you the technological secrets of the Precursors, and to help you fight the Hierarchy.

Commander Hayes wrote:
Ahh... fight the Ur-Quan! Win back our freedom!
But that was in the first years after the defeat, when it was still terrifying to look up...
..and see the bloody glow of the pulsating slave shield overhead.
Through day and night we gazed up at the impenetrable wall...
..as though the sheer power of our hatred would pull it down.
But over the years, I spent so much of my time struggling...
..down on the surface under the shield and then later up here, trying to keep this station alive...
..that I'd forgotten what it means to be free... to hate our Ur-Quan Masters!
And now, here you are, in an alien ship of unknown power,
offering me your assistance to fight against the Hierarchy again, after all these years.
Captain, your offer is intriguing.
It's tempting to think that with your advanced Precursor technology...
..we can somehow crack Earth's slave shield...
..and reassemble the Alliance to attack the Hierarchy, and THIS time win the damn war!
But... consider the consequences if we should fail.
The Ur-Quan won't just punish us here on the station.
They will exact a gruesome retribution on the surface below as well.

It would have been more polite, at this point, to inform Hayes that the Ur-Quan probe is aware of the huge alien vessel that just approached Earth and that it has apparently sent for backup. But you know whatever. Keep fighting the good fight!
Commander Hayes wrote:
Before I commit this station to helping you attack the Ur-Quan...
..and accepting the risk of annihilation if we are defeated...
..I have to make sure that you and your ship have what it takes to oppose the Hierarchy.
I'll make you a deal.
If you can eliminate the alien base on the moon, and get rid of that threat, at least...
..I will seriously consider your offer.

Not content with us bringing him hot rocks, Hayes demands that we now take out that Hierarchy base on the moon.

Further interrogation of Hayes reveals some other facts about the moon base: It was created after the Ur-Quan "erected" the shield and built the station, as they decided that it was prudent to leave some ships in the general area just to be absolutely sure that the humans weren't doing anything to violate the "Ur-Quan slave laws" which as far as I know are limited to not messing with the slave shield and not messing with the resupply station. These ships aren't Ur-Quan ships, Hayes speculates, as the Ur-Quan haven't been around for eight years, but instead are made up of Ilwrath and Spathi vessels. More on them later. Hayes hasn't been able to get in contact with these ships, but he gets a constant stream of gibberish radio broadcasts from their base on the moon, so he's sure that they're still out there.

Next time: a trip to the moon!

Current Date: February 22, 2155


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jumping *peppers*! This is smiley time!
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't really have a plan for dealing with the base on the moon, but I figure that you can't blow up any moon bases if you're not close to the moon, so it's time to go check the moon out.



Mineral, energy, and biological scanners each find some things:



Mineral scanners are used to find free deposits of space minerals. I've used them already to locate radioactives on Mercury. They don't turn up a lot here, because the moon, although very pretty, does not have a lot of useful mineral deposits. Energy scanners are used to find technology, and they've managed to locate a blip on the surface of the moon. Possibly this is the location of the base and the parked fleet of Ilwrath and Spathi warships? The biological scanner is used to locate lifeforms, which are marked in green on the above map. Something about that doesn't add up. Also the Earth should not be red.



Actually landing on the moon reveals that each of the green lifeform dots is actually a kind of robot or probe. It wanders aimlessly around the lunar surface. They're easily dispatched with even the lander's minimally powerful stun ray. They don't try to attack you or evade you and they don't seem to acknowledge your presence in any way. We take out all of the robots on the surface and head for the energy source:



This seems to be the base. But where's the fleet?

When we check out the base, the crew of the lander vanishes for a few hours and then we get this message:

Quote:
---- REPORT FROM SURFACE ----

WE HAVE DISCOVERED AN ALIEN BASE AND HAVE EXPLORED ITS INTERIOR.

THE INSTALLATION MUST HAVE BEEN ABANDONED MANY YEARS AGO, BUT GREAT CARE HAS BEEN TAKEN TO MAKE IT APPEAR ACTIVE. LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEMS ARE FUNCTIONING, FUSION GENERATORS ARE AT FULL OUTPUT, AND ROBOTIC CONSTRUCTION VEHICLES HAVE BEEN PROGRAMMED TO ROAM THE LUNAR SURFACE, BULLDOZING MOONDUST INTO RANDOM PILES.

But unlike real pusher robots, these seem to be harmless, and uninterested in protecting man from the terrible secret of space.
Quote:
IN ADDITION, WE HAVE FOUND THE INSTALLATION'S HYPERWAVE LOCKED IN TRANSMIT MODE, ENDLESSLY PLAYING THE SAME ALIEN RECORDING. ALTHOUGH WE CANNOT TRANSLATE THE MESSAGE, OUR XENOTECH , ENSIGN RIGBY, BELIEVES THE MESSAGE IS SOME KIND OF ALERT OR MAYDAY BROADCAST.

THE BASE IS FILLED WITH USEFUL MATERIALS AND EQUIPMENT. WE WILL SCAVENGE AS MUCH AS WE CAN, AND BRING IT AROUND IMMEDIATELY.

---- END OF REPORT ----

Great news. Thing seems to be gone. Now we can go back to the station and tell Hayes that, technically speaking, we did take eliminate the alien base on the moon just as he requested. That the whole purpose for sending us out here was to determine whether or not we were strong enough to take on the hierarchy and whether or not it was worth risking the lives of the people of Earth, and that this is undercut by the fact that there's no threat out here is besides the point -- a deal is a deal and a vaguely worded promise is a promise. He kind of has to help us now. Pranked!

Back at the station:

Commander Hayes wrote:
Have you dealt with the base yet?

"We found the base, but it was abandoned years ago!"

Commander Hayes wrote:
I'll be darned! All these years we've been listening to their incoherent broadcasts, and we never even guessed.

Captain, listen closely. Long range sensors show a ship closing on this station, fast! Our computer identifies it as Ilwrath, Avenger-class. I think you've got a fight on your hands, Captain. Your best bet is to wait until you have point bl-nk r-nge... C-pt-in! It's ja-min- ou- s-gn-l!


The message cuts out abruptly. It's replaced by this:





So this guy is an Ilwrath. 'Bout time they showed up.

One of the things you'll notice is that every different alien has its own font and usually its own verbal tick - in this case capitalizing the first word of each sentence. I always thought this was really cool. Scroll back up and check the font from the Ur-Quan probe.

Ilwrath Captain wrote:
When I Intercepted That Ur-Quan Drone, and Learned That An Unidentified Starship Had Approached Earth, I Never Expected To Find Such A Remarkable Vehicle In The Hands Of A Hu-Man. Hu_mans Are Prey Animals - Weak And Helpless - ?But Here Is A Hu-Man In An Armed Starship! And Therefore In Direct Violation Of The Oath Of Fealty.

I Am Sure Our Masters, The Ur-Quan, Will Punish Earth Most Severely For This Treachery, When I Present Them With the Twisted Wreckage Of Your Ship And Your Many Charred Corpses.

"Where the hell did you come from?"
Ilwrath Captain wrote:
Since You Will Soon Be Dead, I Will Gladly Explain. We Have Spent Many Years Gleefully Preying on the Pkunk. They Are a Pitiful, Easily-killed Species, And We Would Have Continued In This Divine Worship Of Dogar And Kazon, But We Required Additional Crew Members And Repairs To Our Cloaking Device.

So We Departed The Giclas Constellation And Set Course For Home. But Before We Had Reached Our Region Of Space, We Detected The Passage Of A Nearby Vessel - The Ur-Quan Drone.

And Now, YOU DIE!

There are a number of really interesting things in that quote: the Ur-Quan probe was apparently intercepted by this particular Ilwrath vessel, there is a species called the Pkunk at or near the Giclas constellation, and you can infer that the Ilwrath that were supposed to be on Earth's moon got sidetracked and abandoned their sentinel duties to go "hunting." But not getting killed is really more interesting right now so we're going to go ahead with that first.

It's not the most interesting fight. It doesn't do a whole lot to show off the way battles work in the game, so I'll try to explain.

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO WATCH.

At the start of the fight, you have the option of selecting either your Precursor ship or any of the ships in your fleet. In this case I selected the Earthling Cruiser because the Precursor ship is actually terrible. It's slow, it has no maneuverability, its only weapon is mounted in the front of the ship and doesn't fire very often or do a lot of damage, and it's also extremely hard to aim given the ship's lack of maneuverability. It's basically a sitting duck for the Ilwrath Avenger.

The Earthling Cruisier, on the other hand, is merely slow. It's decently maneuverable, has an okay top speed, and its cruise missiles do a decent amount of damage and will home in on their targets from far away. The key to using the Earthling Cruiser is to stay as far away from hostiles as possible, because its close-range capabilities are severely limited.

The Ilwrath Avenger, on the other hand, thrives at close range. It's armed with a <s>flamethrower</s> plasma burst cannon that does a ton of damage but extremely limited range. This plasma burst cannon can melt through the Earthling Crusier's cruise missiles if it's facing the right way, so we want to aim our missiles at an oblique angle so that their homing systems divert course and slam into the side of the Avenger, not the front.

The other main feature about the Avenger is that it has a cloaking device which makes it invisible. You can usually intuit roughly where the Avenger is based on the position of the camera, but the Cruiser's homing missiles can't track cloaked targets. Thankfully this particular Avenger's cloaking device is damaged and nonfunctional, or else this thread would be ending just about now. You can probably guess that the Avenger's main strategy is to cloak, try to get in really close, and melt their opponent with the plasma cannon.

Every time a ship gets hit in combat, it loses crew. When a ship is completely out of crew, it blows up. This makes ships with larger crew capacities able to withstand more punishment in combat. It also makes this particular Ilwrath Avenger much less threatening, as it was headed back to the homeworld for replacement crew.

Before the fight, Hayes says something about waiting to get to point blank range before doing something. I really don't know what Hayes is thinking with that one - getting to point blank range against an Ilwrath ship is a dodgy proposition with any ship, and with two ships as slow as the Precursor vessel and the Cruiser it seems like suicide.

I should mention that while I make the fight against the Avenger look really easy, I lost the fight in two of my four attempts today. This is mostly because I'm bad, but it's also because if the Ilwrath can find an opening and get to close range it's basically guaranteed to kill the Cruiser.

But in any event the Ilwrath ship gets blown up.

Commander Hayes, the Idiot Tactician wrote:
What a beautiful sight, Captain! I haven't seen an Avenger blown away like that since the Battle in Draco.

Really, Commander Hayes? I never would have guessed.

Commander Hayes wrote:
I guess you've shown that you can handle yourself in battle, Captain. I will commit this station to helping free Earth and defeat the Ur-Quan. We may get our atoms rearranged in the process, but by God, Captain, we're going to try!

So, the obvious first step is to get your Precursor equipment and software over here, so that we can make it work with our ship repair fabricators. But then what, Captain?

"We will slowly build our strength, unify an allied starfleet, and bring the Ur-Quan to their knee-equivalents."

The other conversation options are 1) go kick some alien butt, and 2) I have a brilliant plan, but nobody is allowed to know it. I don't think it matters which one you pick.

Commander Hayes wrote:
A sensible plan, Captain. Let's get to work.

By the way Captain, I think we need a name for this new alliance we're going to forge. And since it was your idea, it's only fair that you get the honor of naming it. So, what will it be?

I picked "The Concordance of Alien Nations."

Commander Hayes wrote:
Very well. From this day forward, we are The Concordance of Alien Nations!

Now Captain, I expect the configuration process for the starbase to take at least 2 weeks, so let's get to work.


The screen goes black, and you wake up two weeks later. Next update will be a huge overview of recent history and how it all came to this.

Current Date: March 9, 2155
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More, more! I want to know what will happen next!!
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And we're back.



Commander Hayes wrote:
We have successfully integrated the Precursor technology from your ship into our fabricator system, and as you can see, we have already begun minor repairs on your ship, patching up some of the micro-meteorite holes.

We noticed that your ship does not have an emergency warp escape unit, so our engineers rigged up some for you and each of your escorts. Now you should be able to escape from a bad situation with the touch of a button. But there is a cost, however... The unit gulps up five fuel units each time your Precursor ship uses it.

Also, we now have a limited capacity to make modifications to your ship, to refine starship fuel, to build additional combat ships, and to train new members of your crew for the flagship and any ships you acquire for your fleet.

Captain, I know you're eager to get to work, so I'll be brief. If you have any questions -- how this Starbase works, what resources we need, or just some background information on the galaxy -- don't hesitate to ask.

So here we start to get to the meat of the game. The way that you can build new ships and upgrade your flagship adds a pretty substantial chunk of strategy/rpg into the action/adventure. Building and maintaining these resources will take up much of our attention in this game, especially at the beginning.

The emergency warp escape button is a godsend. As expensive as fuel is, using up five units is much cheaper than replacing a ship that's about to be destroyed.

If you look closely at the above screenshot and compare it to the earlier shots from when you're speaking with Hayes, you'll be able to see the Vindicator in the background.

Before we have Hayes explain to us how everything works, we need to make a deposit on the resource bank.



You'll see a narrow cargo panel on the right. It tells you how many of each type of resource you have, and how valuable those resources are. The gray dots represent base metals like iron and are worth 3 resource units each. The orange represent radioactives like we found on Mercury. The purple dot represents exotic matter and is much more valuable. The zeros in the # column are there because I snapped this shot immediately after offloading everything. I'd collected enough material on Mercury and the moon to bring my resource units up from 2500 to 3629.

And on with the interrogation of Commander Hayes. A lot of what we learn here isn't immediately clear, but we do get some clues about where to go next and what we should be focusing on.

"Before proceeding I need some additional background information."

Commander Hayes wrote:
Certainly, Captain. What do you need to know?

"Can you elaborate on your facilities here at the starbase?"

Commander Hayes wrote:
We can modify your Precursor ship, build additional combat vessels, and supply you with fuel and crew.

Our engineers are Precursor specialists agree with the scientists from your world that your starship was designed to be a 'workhorse' vehicle which can be easily reconfigured for different missions by adding or swapping self-contained equipment packs which we call 'modules'.

The modules we can build right now are:
Thruster units which make your ship move faster,
Attitude Jets which allow you to rotate the ship more quickly,
Crew Pods which provide life-support facilities for up to 50 additional crew members,
Storage Bays which increase your ship's cargo capacity for mineral resources
Fuel Tanks which hold an additional 50 units of fuel
Dynamos which feed energy into your combat energy batteries, improve your weapons' rate of fire,
And last but not least, Ion-Bolt Guns - combat weaponry, the exact function of which depends on its location aboard the ship.
*When put in the first, or front module slot, it fires a single shot forward.
*When put in the second slot, it fires two shots spread to the left and right of center.
*When put in the third slot, it fires two shots directly left and right.
*And when put in the last or rear slot, it fires a single shot straight backwards.

Pimp your ride. There's a maximum number of module slots on the ship. The Thrusters and Attitude Jets are apparently attached to the outside of the ship so they don't count toward your module limit, but everything else does. We'll want to adjust our loadout for different tasks as the game goes on, but right now cash is tight enough that we can't buy any of the fancy modules.

Right now our single Ion-Bolt gun is located in the first slot, which makes our ship fire straight forward. This is a bad spot for it right now--the ship isn't fast or maneuverable enough for this to be an effective spot. I'd recommend moving that to the back.

Hey whats up everybody. I'm writing this in bold so that everybody sees it. I want everybody to tell me what sorts of modules I should focus on building for the next stage of the game. It doesn't have to be anything specific, just something like "more jets" or "more cargo space" or "weapons everywhere, seriously." I'll consider everybody's contribution when I'm making upgrades and reallocating components.

"How will I get fuel for the Vindicator?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
This base is designed to service Hierarchy ships. Fortunately, your flagship uses the same stabilized antimatter technology as Hierarchy vessels and we'll be able to synthesize what you need. However, due to the size of your ship, we'll have to produce vast quantities of fuel which will be a substantial drain on our resources.

He is not kidding.

"How can I assemble a fleet of fighting ships?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Our shipyard facilities are sophisticated and fully automated, permitting a handful of starbase personnel to do the same job as five-hundred, vac-suited construction workers. However the only designs that we had in our computers were incomplete, Hierarchy ship designs.

Yo this isn't me making weird comma choices this is the actual text in the game.

Commander Hayes wrote:
Things looked grim until one of the officers came forward with an amazing story. Even though the Ur-Quan destroyed every Earthling Cruiser in the fleet nearly 20 years ago, one of my maintenance engineers was a starship production assistant at the Detroit shipyards. When Earth was conquered, she was ordered to destroy all ship-construction databases; but she secretly made copies of the blueprint disks, and then kept them with her ever since. The disks contain all the data we need to build as many Earthling Cruisers as you want, provided you, Captain, can supply the large amounts of mineral resources required to build these vessels.

In theory, Captain, we could build alien starships here if we had designs for them; however, it's a well known fact that alien vessels just can't be flown in combat without native starship captains at the helm.

So to build a new alien ship, you need to get the alien designs, the alien captain, and a ton of RUs. That's the gist of it.

"How will we acquire additional personnel for my ship?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
We have almost 2000 highly-motivated, skilled professionals aboard this starbase and every single one of them wants a berth aboard your starship. However, each hand we lose to your ship means less manpower here at the starbase, and this is reflected in the Crew RU cost. As long as you don't lose too many crew members to combat or planet exploration, the RU cost will remain static; but we have only so many warm bodies on this starbase and if your needs for crew grow beyond a certain point the cost could increase dramatically.

tl;dr: Don't kill too many people or else it'll start getting more expensive to hire on new redshirts to touch down on new planets or drive trucks through the desert.

"Would you please explain your resource allocation system?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
As you know, Captain, we've committed the entire output of this station to building your flagship and your battle fleet into the strongest force possible. However, our resources are very limited, and we feel YOU must decide how we are to spend our effort and materials. To aid you in making these decisions, we have implemented a resource allocation scheme. We provide you with a numerical assessment of the station's resources and ascribe a cost to each task we can perform and each device we can build. It's up to you to decide how you are going to 'spend' your resource units or 'RU' as we call them. To acquire more RU, you must bring resources back to the starbase. These resources can be either in the form of mineral ores gathered from the planet surfaces or already-refined metals and other valuable materials from the wreckage of enemy starships.

"What kind of resources are most useful to our mission?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
The most straightforward way you can accumulate Resource Units is to bring mineral ores back to this starbase. There are probably enough resources in just the nearby dozen stars to build your ship into a powerful battleship, or to create a strong task force of combat vessels. I would also recommend that you build several additional Storage Bays.

When gathering minerals, focus on 'cleaning-out' one star system at a time. That way, you minimize the cost of travel through HyperSpace.

He's not joking. The fuel cost of HyperSpace excursions is incredible.

"What use are our planet landers' sophisticated lifeform analysis features?
Commander Hayes wrote:
While I respect your search for abstract knowledge, frankly, Captain, in our present circumstances I see little use for such data here. Perhaps you can make use of biological information elsewhere.

More on that later.

"I would like some historical data. I would like to know about the other starfaring races. Tell me about the members of the old Alliance."

"The Shofixti"

Commander Hayes wrote:
The Shofixti are a race of intelligent marsupials who had been 'civlized' for only a few decades when the War began. They were discovered in the Delta Gorno star system by the Yehat, who adopted and then 'uplifted' the Shofixti, giving them advanced technology and cultural definition.

Shofixti are noble and fearless Warriors, Captain. In addition, their incredible fecundity and rapid maturation rate kept Alliance ranks solid even at the worst part of the War.

You know, I once flew as an observer aboard one of their ships on routine patrol, we never saw the enemy but I could never stop thinking about the 'Glory Device' it had strapped to the bottom of its hull.

The Shofixti originated on Delta Gorno. Maybe they're still there? Or does their planet have its own slave shield now? It might be worth checking out.

"The Yehat."
Commander Hayes wrote:
The Yehat are a race of ancient warrior clans that have been traveling the stars for many centuries. The clans are highly competitive and sometimes even wage war on each other, but the clans are all loyal to the Queen and her royal family, known as the Veep-Zeeps. The Veep-Zeeps have been in power for over 2,000 years, and it is said that during their rule, the Yehat never lost a battle.

But clearly they must have lost to the Ur-Quan, right?

"The Arilou"
Commander Hayes wrote:
I'd like to think that I'm not a bigoted person, Captain, especially when it comes to allies, but there is something about those Arilou that gives me the creeps.

One thing I'll say for them, though, they possess some technique for moving REALLY fast through HyperSpace. They never let us know what it was, but it sure beats the pants off our fastest ships.

"The Chenjesu"
Commander Hayes wrote:
The Chenjesu were leaders of the Alliance, even though they refused to accept formally the title. I don't know if their silicon-based biology is just plain superior to our old carbon models, or if their fantastic intellects were the product of an ancient, peaceful culture. Whatever the reason, I'd rather be taking orders from a Chenjesu than any other lifeform, absolutely.

One of the more amazing things about them was that they never used HyperWave communicators, and their natural HyperWave receptors were much more sensitive than even our best units.

"The Mmrnmhrm."
Commander Hayes wrote:
We didn't really get much of a chance to learn about those mechanical beings. They are the product of a distant, unknown culture who sent a giant Factory-Ark into our region of space many centuries ago. The Mother-Ark (that's what the Earth press called it) churned out millions of robots and finally broke down.

I don't know why the Mmrnmhrm didn't repair the Mother-Ark, maybe they can't. My personal guess as to why they were sent here is that they're on the leading edge of a colonization project, and once the Mmrnmhrm have tamed enough new worlds, the genuine colonists -- whoever they are -- will arrive and claim their due.

I hope these guys aren't too important, because I hate having to type out their name.

"The Syreen"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Most raw recruits saw the Syreen as nothing more than warm, breathing pin-ups. Warm they are, and yes, they do breathe most magnificently, but Captain, they are far more than simple joy units. Their history shows that the Syreen established and maintained a peaceful culture from their Bronze Age through their discovery of starflight. Before their planet was destroyed in a horrible cataclysm, their world was an Eden.

what
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

More from Commander Hayes. Today we're learning about the Ur Quan's cronies, galactic history, and maybe taking a look at the rest of the station.

"Tell me about the battle thralls of the Hierarchy. Specifically, the Mycon."

Commander Hayes wrote:
They Mycons are hard to get a handle on. In fact, I'm not sure any human has ever had a real conversation with a Mycon. What we know of them we have learned from their corpses, which, I may add, have a nasty habit of coming back to life when thawed out from a decompression quick-freeze.

Mycon ships seem to expend a significant amount of energy on life support. This is probably because the Myon only thrive in temperatures close to the melting point of lead.

As far as we know, the Mycon are the only race to actively seek out the Ur-Quan in order to become combat slaves.

There you have it. These guys are weird.

"The Spathi"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Imagine facing a cowardly, mobile clam armed with a howitzer and you've got a good idea of what it's like dealing with the Spathi. Although they tend toa void battles as much as their masters will allow, once in battle, a S;athi Eluder is one tough cookie.

I once heard a rumor, though I don't like to believe in it myself, that a rogue band of courageous Spathi broke away from the main starfleet, painted their ships black with bright red stripes, and formed the 'Black Spathi Squadron' dedicated to performing brave and hostile deeds. Like I said, I'd have to see it to believe it.

These guys, along with the Ilwrath, were supposed to have a garrison on the moon.

"The Umgah."
Commander Hayes wrote:
It's unfortunate that the Umgah fell to the Ur-Quan so early in the War because I suspect we would have gotten along well with those big blob creatures; at the very least it would have been entertaining. We know them a bit better than most races, because they were eager to talk with our ships before, after, and during battle.

The Arilou intimated that they had a relationship with the Umgah before the Ur-Quan arrived, but I don't know any details.

It's interesting that Hayes can imply that the Umgah are well understood by Earthlings while explaining absolutely basically nothing about them and then leaving with an unsubstantiated rumor from an unreliable source that points to basically nothing anyway.

"The Androsynth"
Commander Hayes wrote:
When I was flying combat missions along the Coreward Front, there was nothing we feared more than the Androsynth Hit-And-Run Squadron. Their Blazer ships were more than a match for our Cruisers so we stayed clear of Eta Vulpeculae, their home star.

In addition, I think each of us aboard ship knew deep down in ours hearts that the Androsynth had a damn good reason for hating us. Our grandparents had kept them as slaves for nearly 50 years.

See? We're learning things. Eta Vulpeculae.

"The Ilwrath."
Commander Hayes wrote:
I still have nightmares about those spiders... taking me prisoner -- using me as one of their sick sacrifices to Dogar and Kazon, their twin gods of destruction and torment. Those guys were almost as scary as the Androsynth to those of us in deep-space patrol. Their Avenger ships could appear out of nowhere and melt a Cruiser down to slag in seconds. Luckily for us, the bulk of the Ilwrath fleet was thrown against the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm.

You've met some of these guys already.

"The VUX"
Commander Hayes wrote:
The starship Far Voyager, under the command of Captain Jeffry L. Rand, encountered the VUX near Beta Mira. Although the details are hazy, it is generally accepted that Rand offended the VUX with an inadvertent insult.

This is totally some video game npc dialogue right here. "I hear that the VUX were insulted by an INSULT."

"Where there any alien races who weren't in the War?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
None that we had made formal contact with. The Chenjesu implied that they had met 2 other starfaring species, one near the Giclas constellation, and the other directly coreward from Procyon. The Ariloulaleelay once mentioend having 'some fun' with an alien race in Draconis. I am sure that there are hundreds more alien races in the galaxy, but beyond what I've told you, your guess is as good as mine.

There we go. New aliens by Giclas, Procyon, and Draconis. The Ilwrath captain mentioned that he and his crew had been hunting something called the Pkunk in the Giclas constellation -- perhaps these are the aliens?

"I am interested in the War against the Hierarchy. How did the war with the Ur-Quan begin?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Earth got involved late in the game, in 2112, when the Chenjesu arrived in our solar system for the first time, so let's back up a few years to 2098, when the Chenjesu's super-sensitive receptors detected a strange signal from the Ophiuchi constellation.

The Ur-Quan, having detected the presence of many sentient species, were beaming out an exulting hunting cry. The first direct evidence of the Ur-Quan's intent was the sudden conquest of the Umgah, a solitary, though not unfriendly, species in the Orionis constellation. The Chenjesu, distraught by the invasion, were further angered when the Ur-Quan turned their fleets on the hostile but weak Ilwrath race. A hastily assembled defense force of Mmrnmhrm and Chenjesu vessels turned the Ur-Quan fleet aside but the invader moved into Spathi space, rapidly subjugating that race. With each new conquest, the Ur-Quan fleet grew larger as it added slave vessels to its ranks.

Earth joined the Chenjesu to form the Alliance of Free Stars at about the same time as the Androsynth stars fell to the Ur-Quan armada. Even before the ink was dry on our agreement with the Chenjesu in 2116 a new race appeared in orbit around the moon and asked for admittance to the Alliance. It was the Ariloulaleelay. The timing seemed unusual and the Arilou were definitely weird, looking like Saucer Men from Mars, but we were too busy cranking up our moth-balled heavy industry that we didn't really pay it much attention at the time.


"What happened during the War?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
At the start of the war, here on Earth we were working like crazy churning out hundreds of heavy Cruisers and smaller support vehicles. The Ur-Quan were busy too. Unbeknownst to us, they had moved down toward the Luyten star group. Our botched first contact with the VUX took place in 2119, and it was the biggest single mistake we made during the War.

After defeating the VUX, the Ur-Quan fleets ran smack into the combined might of the Yehat and Shofixti, supported by the first wave of our cruisers. Again the Ur-Quan turned away from the hard spot to attack the weak, though we just thought they were running away.

The Mycon's voluntary submission to the Ur-Quan brought the return of the Ur-Quan fleets, now swollen with a hundred devastating Mycon Podships. The last entrants to the conflict were the Syreen, a race of space gypsies who had escaped the Hierarchy by moving their vast fleet of slow-moving habitates into human space. With the sides set, the last Ur-Quan offensive began.


"How did the War end, Commander?"

Commander Hayes wrote:
The Ur-Quan came roaring through VUX space, and tried to push past the Indi and Mira star systems. Their onslaught was barely repulsed and our counter-attack made hardly a dent in the Hierarchy forces but we held the line -- the Coreward front remained intact. Over the following ten years, there were many great battles between the combined Alliance starfleet and the Ur-Quan and their Hierarchy of Battle Thralls.

Then, in 2134, a dramatic shift in the balance of power took place -- this must have been about the time the science research mission was sent to the planet at Vela -- our fleets were pushed back from the Indi-Mira line to beyond Raynet. Holding Rigel cost grievously in Chenjesu forces and the Ur-Quan, recognizing this weakness, shifted to focus the brunt of their forces on Procyon. That was the last we heard from the Chenjesu and the Mmrnmhrm.

A few weeks later, waves of ships hit us from all directions. When Ceres Station, our outpost in the Asteroid belt, fell to the Hierarchy, we knew we were beaten, but we fought on anyway. Three days later the Ur-Quan vaporized our last remaining laser-forts on the moon, and the Dreadnoughts took up geo-synchronous position above Rome, Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo, London, Buenos Aires, and Washington. We'd lost the War and we knew it, but the Ur-Quan decided to make it real clear -- and that's why if you check any of our most recent maps, you won't find Buenos Aires.


"What happened after the War?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
After the UN submitted their formal surrender, we were given a week to decide the nature of our servitude. The Ur-Quan demanded that the decision be made through popular vote. When all the votes were tallied, Earth had chosen not to fight for the Ur-Quan. We had become a fallow slave world.

We were given a month to withdraw all of our people and equipment to Earth. Anyone or anything we left off-planet would be destroyed after the shield went up. Then the Ur-Quan broadcast an odd message: all objects of human construction more than 500 years old were 'to be abandoned.' We didn't know what the Ur-Quan meant until they moved their Dreadnoughts to new orbital positions and opened fire on the surface with their fusion weapons. In seconds, large sections of London, Paris, and other European cities were incinerated. At first we thought they were going to annihilate us after all, and we noticed that they were also striking such targets as the Giza Pyramids, the Parthenon in Athens, and Stonehenge. Curiously, the United States was almost untouched.

The flaming rain lasted 40 hellish hours. It took days after we crawled from our smoldering shelters to realize what the Ur-Quan had done. Our new masters had targeted every building, monument or other manmade construction older than 500 years and destroyed it. In those two days, we lost most of the history of Mankind. In some cases, the Ur-Quan destroyed places we did not even suspect were significant. From their positions in orbit, the Dreadnoughts blew away a kilometer of land in central Iraq, vaporized several targets in the Amazon rain forest, punched a big hole through the Antarctic icecap to destroy something deep under the surface, and melted a broad swath of the ocean floor in the south-eastern Atlantic.

Then, just a couple of days later, the shield went up and our contact with the outside world stopped. The next time I saw the stars was 8 years ago when I was transferred up here to be the new commander of this starbase.


"I need some information on ancient galactic history. What can you tell me about the Precursors?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Hell, you probably know more about them than I do, but here goes... about 200,000 years ago, when our great-to-the-nth-grandparents were just starting to play with stone knives and bearskins, a starfaring species suddenly appeared on the galactic scene and spread like wildfire. We've found evidence of their presence just about everywhere, from an orbital platform in Alpha Centauri, to a stack of DataPlates in a cave on Pluto to some nameless widget found in a voodoo shop in New Orleans. We can conjecture what they looked like by examining the scale and layout of their equipment. Such an analysis indicates they were giants, say 5 to 8 meters tall, and twice as wide. I don't know if they looked more like a brontosaur or an elephant. Anyway, about three thousand years after the Precursors made their dramatic appearance, they vanished, poor! As far as we can tell, it took less than a decade to happen.

"What other races from the ancient past?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
You mean beisdes the Precursors? Well, the only information we have is second-hand based on some research by a Chenjesu historian that I read at the Academy. Tzz-Tzer-Tzak, the historian, found some evidence that there was a group of alien races who formed an interstellar empire not too far from here about 22,000 years ago. The only species in this empire that actually lived in our region of space was a race of rocklike creatures who lived in the Vulpeculae constellation. The presence of hostile Androsynth in that region severely limited Tzz-Tzer-Tzak's research.

"Is there any indication that aliens visited Earth in the past?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Yes, there is. Aside from the Precursor relics we have found on Earth -- often in museums, mislabeled as 'modern art' -- we have discovered disturbing evidence of much more recent visitations. Perhaps you are already aware that during the mid-to-late 20th century there were uncountable UFO sightings, as well as dozens of reported 'encounters' with alien life forms. Although we can discount many of the reports as wishful fabrication or traumatic translation, the military authorities of that time kept a secret record of the 'incidents' which were legitimate. In each such case, the aliens are almost identical in appearance. They have white skin and minimal facial features, except for huge, almost-shaped eyes which are often described as 'glowing' or 'luminescent.' This description fits, almost perfectly, the Ariloulaleelay. In most of the legitimate encounters the people described being physically examined or modified by the aliens. In some cases, unusual pregnancies occured, and in almost every instance there were repeat visitations, as though the Ariloulaleelay were doing 'check-ups' on their subjects. We never got the chance to confront the Ariloulaleelay about what they did to us and why. I wonder if we ever will?

That's enough history. We're almost done!

"I would like your input on how we can defeat the Ur-Quan. Where can I find the most useful, plentiful mineral resources?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
If you have the patience, I would recommend that you spend several months or even a year gathering mineral resources. You can find such minerals on almost any planet surface, but the quality and density will vary depending on the type of planet you're on. Base metals are probably the most common materials you'll find, but they aren't particularly valuable. You can find rarer precious and radioactive elements on metal-rich worlds such as Mercury. An old miner once told me that you could tell the relative quality of a planet's minerals based on the planet's color as seen from space. To remember the color sequence from good to bad, the miner had a mnemonic which went something like 'Very Young Orangutans Could Grow Bananas, Perhaps Rather Well.' It is also the case that mineral yields will be better at hotter stars. Temperature is related to the size and color of a star, and you know I really can't be bothered to type out whate'er else Commander Hayes has to say about amateur astronomy so I'm just gonna skip the rest of this part, okay.

"If you were in my shoes, what would you do now?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Hmm, let's see. You need to build up and balance the strength of your flagship. I would add thrusters up to say, 5 or 6. Speed is essential in combat, but it would also pay off over the long haul in HyperSpace, and if you prefer to avoid confrontation, nothing beats a great pair of legs. I would also add turning jets for increased maneuverability. I would add enough weapons to defend yourself if you are caught without escort ships. You need more crew, at least 50, to make productive voyages into space. You need additional fuel, at least 50 units. Your weapons will be underpowered in combat if you don't have at least 1 dynamo. Use the Resource Units you have accumulated to improve your flagship.

"Commander, how do we deal with the Ur-Quan?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
Captain, I wish I had an easy answer, but I don't. The only way I can see of liberating Earth, as well as the Alliance allies, is to destory the Ur-Quan and their armada of battle thralls entirely. To defeat our enemies, we will need awesome strength, both in your flagship and the fleet, as well as the assitance of powerful new allies. Though combat will be unavoidable, sometimes necessary to achieve our goals, I am certain your wits will be at least as important as your weapons. You will need to explore this region of space, gathering resources and information wherever you go.

"Where can I find the Ur-Quan?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
I don't know, Captain, but I suspect their battle thralls know more than we do; so I suggest you try to gather information from them, perhaps by force.

"How can we attack the Ur-Quan effectively?"
Commander Hayes wrote:
At first, your ship will be far too vulnerable to permit frontal assaults on the Ur-Quan. Even when your ship is at full power, we are faced with the reality that the Hierarchy has THOUSANDS of ships. You cannot win the fight alone, Captain. You need allies.

Also, towards the end of the War, when the Hierarchy broke through the coreward front, we heard rumors that the Ur-Quan had unleashed some kind of super-weapon, which was unstoppable by normal means. You need to find out if that rumor was true, Captain.

This could maybe be important. Maybe.

"How can we make alliances and with whom?"
[quote=Commander Hayes]If you encounter an unkown alien race, proceed carefully and diplomatically -- we need all the friends we can get, and we certainly can't afford any more enemies. Remember, Captain, with your Precursor starship, you hold awesome power, but there will be situations when dealing with an alien race where a 'carrot' will serve better than a 'stick.' But first you must determine what 'carrot' the alien wants.[/quote]
I think I get it, Hayes. The precursor starship is really strong, but so are the bad guys, so you need to have friends. I dunno how many times you think you have to tell me this.

And that about does it for Commander Hayes.

Commander Hayes wrote:
Try to avoid getting gruesomely killed, Captain.

Will do!



There are other things to do at the station. We can also customize our flagship and its fleet, and allocate fuel and crew resources.



The dotted line boxes show where different modules can be fitted on the ship. As you can see it's a damn shitty starship right now, with most of the modules not being used at all. Right now we've got (from left to right) a dynamo, a cargo bay, a fuel compartment, and an ion bolt gun. And the ion bolt gun is in a bad spot for the speed and maneuverability of the ship, which is presently approximately zilch.

This screen is also where we add fuel. I fill up the tank, bringing our fuel stores from 5 to 60. This costs us 1100 resource units, or basically everything that we got from mining the moon and Mercury. Fuel is going to be a major expense for most of the game.

With that in mind, we don't have a lot of cash left over for upgrades right now. But that doesn't mean that I don't want your ideas for what we should upgrade when I do get the cash. Go ahead and post your ideas for what parts of the starship we should pimp out next, but it the thrusters or the maneuverability or the firepower or the cargo capacity or just adding weapons everywhere.



And this is the shipyard, where we can build new ships or reassign crew. The only ship we can build right now is the Earthling Cruiser, and we already have one, so there isn't really a huge point in building another. Note that it only costs three RUs to assign a new crewmember, while it costs twenty RU to get a new unit of fuel.

I'll move some of the components on the flagship around in the next update, but before that we have to decide where we're going to go. Here are our current leads, as indicated from talking to Commander Hayes and the Ilwrath captain:

*The original Ur-Quan signal came from the Opiuchi constellation.
*The Giclas constellation is apparently home to some kind of space-faring alien, possibly known as the "Pkunk."
*The Androsynth have staked out Eta Vulpeculae.
*The VUX should be around Lyten or Beta Mira.
*There may be an unknown species "coreward from Procyon."
*There may be a new alien species in the Draconis constellation.
*The Umgah hail from Orionis.
*The Mycon are from Brahe
*An ancient group of rock aliens lived in the Vulpeculae constellation hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Here's the map. I've labeled all of the stars that have been mentioned so far:



So where do we go? Keep in mind that the farther away the target, the more fuel it would take to get there, and the bigger a drain on our reserves at this point. It would be really hard to get to Draconis at this stage of the game, for instance.

Current date: March 9, 2155


Last edited by Bogo Sort on Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:11 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Before we go anywhere, we might as well scrounge around the local solar system looking for whatever resources we can get. Hyperspace travel is incredibly expensive in terms of fuel consumption, and fuel is an expensive resource to begin with, and for the most part this will be the greatest limit on where we can go and what we can do in the game.

With that said, the game proper begins right here. We have our objective -- stopping the Ur-Quan -- that will last us for the entire game, and everything we need to accomplish this goal can be found somewhere in the galaxy in its present state. Let's go! The Concordance of Alien Nations will rise up and make itself known! The real adventure begins now! Onward to gather resources!



Before leaving the station, we grab some replacement crew members to bring our total up to 50 and refill our fuel up to 60 units. This is expensive and it leaves us with only 2500 RUs.

We already cleared out Mercury getting radioactives for Hayes so our next stop is Venus.



Here's Venus. There's a bunch of data on the planet in the top panel, stuff like gravity and the length of the day and atmospheric pressure. The blue dots in the bottom panel represent resources, and we need resources to fight the Ur-Quan, so we load up the planetary lander with mining specialists and send them off to the planet.



I only had time to get one screenshot of the trip to Venus, and that's mostly because I only managed to spend a few seconds on Venus before I had to abort the mission. So this one screenshot will have to suffice. The white lines (lightning strikes) represent weather-related hazards, and the orange flames represent heat-related hazards. They're not stationary: they actually blink in and out of random spots on the screen at frequent and random intervals. They're nearly impossible to dodge. They kill your crew really fast. At the time that I took the screenshot I had lost three crew, as represented by the three black dots in the bottom right corner of the image. By the time the lander had made it back to orbit, I'd lost nine.



For some reason I didn't circle the Temperature: 457 C indicator, but it and the Weather: class 8 indicate that Venus is extremely dangerous. Higher numbers indicate greater danger.

We were down to 41 out of the 50 crew that we left station with, and during the exploit on Venus I'd only managed to collect one node of resources: 18 units of ammonia. Ammonia is considered a common resource and it isn't very valuable, as 18 units of ammonia are only worth 18 RUs. For reference, the cost to the station of sending a crewmember onto the flagship is 3 RUs.

Nine people died for this.

Oh, and there's also the cost of the fuel used to travel to Venus. It cost 1.6 fuel units to send the lander to Venus and back. A fuel unit costs 20 RUs.

So, in summary: nine people died on the mission, and the return from the mission wasn't enough to hire their replacements or to pay for the fuel used in killing them. A glorious start for the Concordance of Alien Nations.

It is entirely likely that more people will die wildcatting for the resources used to build spaceships used to fight the Ur-Quan than will die fighting the Ur-Quan.

Thankfully most planets aren't as inhospitable as Venus. Earth is protected by the Slave Shield and the Moon has already been cleared out, so Mars is our next target.



And here's Mars. It has no atmosphere so it stays cold and has no weather, and it has relatively low tectonic activity. We can explore Mars safely.



Mars is covered in basic metals. Basic metals are ubiquitous but not particularly valuable. Each unit of these metals is worth 3 RUs. I managed to fill up the lander's 50-unit cargo bay once and cleaned out the rest of the planet during the second landing. Base metals are worth pursuing if the planet isn't treacherous, but aren't enough of an incentive to justify landing on dangerous worlds. Thankfully nobody dies on Mars.

There are no asteroid belts so we skip ahead to Jupiter and its moons.



Jupiter is itself a gas giant. You can't land on a gas giant. Gas giants don't have anything interesting anyway, for the most part. Almost all gas giants are completely empty of resources. I only know of one gas giant in the game that's worth traveling to.

This leaves the moons of Jupiter. Io is the first one.



Io is rich in radioactives. It's cold and weatherless but has some tectonic activity. Even so, it's worth landing on and clearing out.



On the moon I find thorium, actinium, francium, and radium. Radioactive elements are valuable; each unit of radioactives counts as 8 RUs.



Europa isn't as nice. It just has corrosives like bromine. These are worth only 2 RUs each. It's still worth cleaning out, however, as long as we're here.



Ganymede has cyano-acetylene. That's it. That's the only type of resource on the entire moon.



And Callisto has no resources at all. It is still very pretty.

Our next stop is Saturn. Because Saturn is a gas giant, we can skip it and move straight on to its moon, Titan.



By the numbers, Titan isn't very dangerous. But while I was actually on the planetoid clearing out its base metals, I got very unlucky and was struck by lightning several times in a row. Seven people died. Our crew count is now down to 34.

Here's what Saturn looks like, by the way.



The game doesn't have rings. Sad



Uranus is a gas giant and has no moon, so there's nothing here for us.



Neptune's moon of Triton has just enough resources to max out our cargo pod. We need to head back to Earth to drop off the resources before we can gather any more.

The idiots who designed this game apparently thought that Pluto was a planet, and so it's available for exploration too if for whatever reason you wanted to visit it. I don't, and I don't see why anybody else would want to, so we're not going there. We're just heading back to Earth.

So there you have it. Between March 9th, when the ship last left the Earth Starbase and March 22, the flagship gathered enough materials to fill one cargo pod and saw its crew fall from 50 to 34. The flagship brought in enough resources to bring the RU base from 2500 to 4600, although some of those will be used to refuel and get new crew. And then? Beyond the solar system, through hyperspace into strange new solar systems.

Oh, but before we leave the station, Hayes has this to say:



Commander Hayes wrote:
I've been waiting to inform you of a new situation.

Our deep space monitoring team has detected faint alien signals coming from the area around Uranus, or somewhere in that general direction. The emanations are definitely being generated from within the solar system, and could represent the presence of a Hierarchy spy.

Spies?! From Uranus?! Next time, we're going spy hunting.

Current date: March 22, 2155
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We've already been to Uranus, and there's nothing there. Pluto, however, is in the general vicinity, and we haven't bothered checking it out because it's a total some scrub-tier ball of ice. But we're there now.





There's nothing in orbit, but a quick scan of the planet reveals something with an energy signature in the southern hemisphere. Also it locates some valuable Tzo Crystals, which we collect.

When we check out the energy signature with the planet lander, we see this weird-ass thing:



Then eight people died.

Planet Lander Emergency Transmission wrote:
!!! MAYDAY FROM SURFACE !!!

WE HAVE COME UNDER FIRE FROM AN ALIEN
VESSEL WE FOUND HIDING ON THE SURFACE OF
PLUTO!

CAPTAIN! THEY KILLED KOWALSKI, FRITZ,
CHIN, O'DONNELL, LUIGI, AND ALL THREE OF
THE LIEBERMANN TRIPLETS! WE HAVE
RETURNED FIRE, BUT OUR STUNNER CAN'T
PENETRATE THE SHIP'S HULL ARMOR

WE ARE INITIATING EMERGENCY LAUNCH PROCEDURES!

---- END OF TRANSMISSION ----


The launder immediately lifted off of Pluto and flew back to the flagship, which was by this point in contact with the alien vessel.


















Captain Fwiffo wrote:
Sorry about that little mistake with your landing vehicle! I was so startled when it approached my vessel in a threatening manner that... er... my automated defense systems fired on it when it got too close! I hope nobody got hurt!

"Attention alien vessel: Identify yourself or be destroyed!"

Fwiffo wrote:
Of course, of course!

As I said, I am Captain Fwiffo of the Spathi voidship StarRunner. Our sensors have tracked your entry into this system.. which you are no doubt here to conquer... and while you are certainly welcome to do so we would be greatly appreciative if you would please just go away and forget this star system ever existed. If you don't go, it will greatly complicate our master-slave relationship with the Ur-Quan who stationed us here to watch over the Earthlings.

Aha. So this is the Spathi fleet. Well, one ship. On Pluto no less. But it's something.

"We understand that sometimes these tragic misunderstandings happen. We grieve, but are not bitter. What are you doing here on Pluto?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Whew, thanks! For a minute there, I thought you were going to kill me!

About 20 yeras ago, this region of space was dominated by a loose confederation known as the Alliance of Free Stars, which was composed of the aliens native to these parts who didn't want to be enslaved. They made a valiant effort against the superior Ur-Quan forces, and it even looked like they might miraculously defeat the combined Ur-Quan armada... right up to the point at which the Ur-Quan totally defeated - indeed, annihilated them.

"So, what ARE you doing here on Pluto?"

Fwiffo wrote:
When the Ur-Quan armada entered this system to subjugate formally the Earthlings, the Ur-Quan presented the humans with the standard slave options: join the Hierarchy as combat thralls, and retain some autonomy, including the right to travel through space, or become a 'fallow' species and return to pre-atomic savagery on the surface of their homeworld, encased for all time beneath an impenetrable force shield. The humans chose the later option, and so were siwfly imprisoned on the surface of Earth, but the Ur-Quan didn't trust them to obey restrictions... so... they chose a small group of Hierarchy combat starships from the Ilwrath and Spathi fleets to create the so-called Earthguard, and stationed them at a base on Earth's moon.

"TELL ME what you are doing on Pluto, NOW!"

Fwiffo wrote:
Originally, we were stationed on Earth's moon, which made us Spathi a bit uneasy, because with each passing day we grew more and more worried about the sneaky Earthlings making a surprise attack, though the Ilwrath kept telling us that was impossible since the Earthlings had no ships or weapons whatsoever. That made us feel a bit better, but when the Ilwrath left, again we grew fearful and decided to make a strategic redeployment to Mars. Later on we decided it would be prudent to relocate to Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, then later Saturn's moon, Titan, and finally here to Pluto.

"What happened to the Ilwrath stationed in this system?"

Fwiffo wrote:
The Ilwrath contingent were supposed to be the toughest ridge-crest, er...

... the most rigid flipper, no...

... ah yes - the BACKBONE of the Earthguard force; but they departed the system en masse not long after the last Ur-Quan Dreadnought vanished from this region of space. They claimed to have received a direct order from their Gods of Evil and Darkness, who had grown dissatisfied with the Ilwrath's passivity and wnated them to kill or at least torture someone soon. Personally, I believe they just got bored and went off to have some fun.

"When do you expect the Ilwrath to return?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Well, when they were pushing up into HyperSpace 18 years ago, we asked them that very question, and I think they said something to the effect of "Real Soon."

"What is happening at the base on Luna then?"

[quote=Fwiffo"]"We decided that if the Earthlings figured out we had abandoned the base on Luna, they would be more likely to try something sneaky. So we rigged up some old service androids and ordered them to drive around on the lunar surface in bulldozers, endlessly pushing around the same piles of dirt. In addition, we connected the base's local radio transmitter to an audio Melnorme FunRom called 'Winky's Happy Night' hoping that they would think we were still there."[/quote]
"What happened to the other Spathi ships?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Over the past years, it became necessary to redeploy strategically some of our Earthguard forces to our homeworld in case of a sudden surprise attack by a vicious, unrelenting alien race which we Spathi call... The Ultimate Evil!

"How many crew do you have aboard?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Dozens -- that is to say, scores and perhaps even hundreds of my brethren stride through the corridors of this specially modified, super-efficient, mass-destruction-oriented starship... which could lay siege to an entire planetary system should we choose to do so... which, fortunately for you, we have decided not to do, today.

"Hundreds? Come on."

Fwiffo wrote:
I am undone! You are far too clever for a poor Spathi like me and now I must submit to your superior, alien intellect. I guess I am not revealing any truly important secrets if I tell you that each of my species' Eluder-class Voidships typically holds 30 Spathi crewmen, though at present my vessel, the StarRunner, is not up to full complement due to the needs of my homeworld in their resistance against the Ultimate Evil... and in fact my vessel is somewhat understaffed right now... seeing as how I am the only Spathi on board, which is a bit frightening as I am sure you can understand.

"The galaxy teems with threatening monsters. Are you happy here -- alone and vulnerable?"
Fwiffo wrote:
How true, Captain! How true! In truth, just between us, during the past seven years, I have been quite ill at ease, and yet now I find myself enjoying your company, this witty dialog, and the presence of your huge, powerful, death-dealing starship which being my friend you would certainly feel compelled to use in order to save me from any hostile lifeforms who threatened me with death.

"Who or what is this Ultimate Evil?"

Fwiffo wrote:
As yet, the Ultimate Evil remains largely unmanifest, and its powers and exact intentions are still a bit obscure, since it lurks just outside the range of even the most sensitive long-range detectors, which we feel gives conclusive evidence as to The Ultimate Evil's nefarious intent.

"Why are you still here, Captain Fwiffo?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Since it was our most powerful and unforgiving masters, the Ur-Quan, who stationed us here, we knew it would be grossly stupid to disobey them completely, but we decided that it would be okay to send just one ship home. We used one of our most ancient and solemn rituals, Puun-Taffy, to pick the lucky ship. Then... some months later, we decided that it wouldn't REALLY hurt if we sent one more ship home.

Alas, as fate would have it, when the final ritual was performed, I, Fwiffo, was left here alone, for as even the most immature encrustling knows, there must always be one Spathi who picks the short Ta Punn stick.

"Where are the Ur-Quan now?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Our masters don't really keep us very well informed about their goings on, so all that we know is that immediately after the subjugation of the last Alliance race, the Yehat, I think, the Ur-Quan gathered their dreadnoughts and departed towards the edge of the galaxy, commanding us to obey the slave laws or face their wrath when they returned.

"Do you know anything about other alien races?"

Fwiffo wrote:
We know only bits and pieces of what happened to each race; for instance, when defeated, the Yehat joined the Hierarchy as combat thralls, while the Syreen chose to be slave shielded on a planet in the BugSquirt star system. No that's not right -- I forget its name, anyway where was I? Oh yes, the Shofixti! They were utterly wiped out in a gigantic 'blaze of glory.'

"What do you mean, 'blaze of glory'? What happened to the Shofixti?"

Fwiffo wrote:
The Shofixti were half feral, as you know, having been uplifted by the Yehat just a few decades before the start of the war. Given their habit of detonating those suicidal, so-called 'Glory Devices' in combat it came as no particular surprise to me when, upon the arrival of the Ur-Quan primary task force at their homeworld, the Shofixti caused their sun to explode in a colossal supernova, destroying the entire planetary system, and not incidently dozens of Ur-Quan Dreadnoughts! (Snork-snork-snork!)

"What about yourself, Fwiffo?"

Fwiffo wrote:
Me? You mean me, personally? How nice of you to ask!

I was born a poor, green encrustling, the youngest child of a family of 18,487. My male parent had to work hard to support us, very hard, but each of my brothers and sisters and I tried to help out to make ends meet. The female parent was kind and sweet to all of us. Why, she once even called me by NAME; she said 'Fwiffo! Fwiffo darling! Would you please answer the door? I think someone's there.' A golden memory.

I swiftly matured into a fine example of my species, with my parents' assistance, achieved independence. Specifically, they pried me from the doorjamb, and rolled me into the street. I had great dreams in those days, yes, great dreams! I knew that someday I would be vastly rich, wealthy enough to afford a large, well-fortified mansion. Surrounding my mansion would be vast tracts of land, through which I could slide at any time I wished! But one can never know if there are monsters hiding behind the next bush, so I would plant trees to climb at regular, easy to reach intervals. And being a Spathi of the World, I would know that some monsters climb trees, though often not well, so I would have my servants place in each tree a basket of perfect stones -- not too heavy, not too light -- just the right size for throwing at monsters. I was thinking about what color the stones would be painted (aqua, mauve or magenta) when a vegetable cart came careening down the street outside my house, and knocked me unconscious. When I awoke, I was aboard the voidship StarRunner, headed for Earth. Apparently I had been out of my head for quite some time after the accident and had been relieved of my funds and convinced to join the navy where I have been unpleasantly employed for the last 25 years.

"I'm sure you'd feel a lot safer if you were with us. Come on, Fwiffo, join our fleet!"

Captain Fwiffo wrote:
Happy days and jubilation!

I discard all prejudice and hesitations and accept and celebrate your offer of protection and your undying commitment to my well-being! I must wax melancholy for just a moment though and make sure you understand that any other Spathi ships we meet at large in the galaxy are not going to be quite so responsive to your friendly gestures as myself since they bear more heavily the yoke of Ur-Quan enslavement, and are also apt to talk themselves out of allying with a totally unknown alien --which I, have been left here alone, cannot do. Welcome me aboard, captain!


The VoidRunner has only one crew member at its disposal, but this is easily remedied with a trip to the starbase.



Because Fwiffo is our only Spathi captain, we can't build any more Spathi Eluders. We'll have to be careful with this one.

Oh, and because we know the coordinates of the Spathi homeworld, our galaxy map has updated.



Our leads:

*The original Ur-Quan signal came from the Opiuchi constellation.
*The Giclas constellation is apparently home to some kind of space-faring alien, possibly known as the "Pkunk."
*The Androsynth have staked out Eta Vulpeculae.
*The VUX should be around Lyten or Beta Mira.
*There may be an unknown species "coreward from Procyon."
*There may be a new alien species in the Draconis constellation.
*The Umgah hail from Orionis.
*The Mycon are from Brahe
*An ancient group of rock aliens lived in the Vulpeculae constellation hundreds of thousands of years ago.
*The Spathi homeworld, Spathiwa, is located at 241.6, 368.7

We also have a reference to the Syreen being on a planet in a system that Fwiffo referred to as "BugSquirt" but without the correct name this isn't much help.

Current Date: March 25, 2155
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 30, 2011 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With the local solar system cleared out, we need to go check out some others.



This is the galaxy map, zoomed in to show the local geography. You can see the purple Ilwrath circle from the larger galaxy view above.

Our first destination is Sirius, as Sirius is the closest star to our own. In like hyperspace or something. I'm not really sure. I think actually the explanation is that the stars on this star chart aren't actually the stars as 21st century observers know them, but they got assigned new names because of how hyperspace is shaped differently or something like that. But they used the names that the old stars used to be called, because ???

With a course set, autopilot takes us out of the solar system and into hyperspace.



It's very red. There's an in-canon explanation for why hyperspace is red. It's not what you think.

This is the Sirius system:



It has one planet.



The surface temperature is 1035 degrees C. This is 1895 degrees F, which sounds like a lot more than 1035 C, which is I guess why they list the temperatures in degrees C.

Anyway this is what the surface of the planet looks like:



The planet is basically on fire constantly. Even if it were possible to harvest the resources on this planet it wouldn't be efficient to (the reason that it's not possible to harvest the resources on this planet is that everybody dies).

Okay, so Sirius is a bust. The next closest planet is Alpha Lyrae, which has two planets. Here's one of them:



Most of the planets in this game don't have specific names. Instead they're just named after their position in the solar system, and they're categorized according to factors like composition, mass, gravity, and resources. Noble worlds are planets or moons that have trace amounts of noble gases.

From Alpha Lyrae, we fly due south to Beta Lyrae.



Beta Lyrae has a pretty cool planet.



Ruby worlds are planets that have been struck by neutronium meteors. They're red because neutronium makes the light scatter in certain ways. Is that why hyperspace is red? You might think so, but you'd be wrong.

Anyway neutronium is hella valuable.



This is a selenic world. This planet acts like it's trying to be our moon.



Super-dense worlds suck. They're nothing but gravity and earthquakes. You basically can't land on them.

Over at Gamma Centauri there's a pretty cool planet that's loaded up with precious metals but there isn't enough cargo space to harvest everything.



We'll have to come back for it later.

Back at Earth, we can offload our resources. This haul takes us from 4443 RUs up to 6729 RUs, much of that from the neutronium. It is May 7th when we get back to Earth, which means that our little excursion takes over a month. This is flying between the four stars that are closest to our solar system in a local part of the galaxy. The flagship absolutely needs faster thrusters or else everybody's going to die of old age before we can save the galaxy.

More cargo space would be good, too. Running out of cargo room forced us to return to Earth: an inefficient use of fuel.

Oh, and Hayes had this to say:

The Commander wrote:
Welcome back, Captain.

Before we proceed, I wanted you to know. We are being bathed in broad-beam HyperWave transmission from the direction of the Rigel star system. Due to the boradcast's wide dispersion, we cannot discern its content.




Rigel is close.

Here are our new leads:

*The original Ur-Quan signal came from the Opiuchi constellation.
*The Giclas constellation is apparently home to some kind of space-faring alien, possibly known as the "Pkunk."
*The Androsynth have staked out Eta Vulpeculae.
*The VUX should be around Lyten or Beta Mira.
*There may be an unknown species "coreward from Procyon."
*There may be a new alien species in the Draconis constellation.
*The Umgah hail from Orionis.
*The Mycon are from Brahe
*An ancient group of rock aliens lived in the Vulpeculae constellation hundreds of thousands of years ago.
*The Spathi homeworld, Spathiwa, is located at 241.6, 368.7
*Rigel is sending out a hyperwave broadcast transmission.

send in ur ideas for what to do next in the game and i will give u a "shout-out" if i use the idea.

Current date: May 7, 2155
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