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Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...







Hmm, what's this?



No, no, this isn't really ringing any bells for me, I'm afraid. I'll need a little more...



Oh, OH! War on the FRONTIER! Gotcha. Also, check out the intro for some kickin'-rad tunes.

This space-exploration-sci-fi-drama game was released in '93 by Tsunami Media. It was supposed to be a sequel to the Starflight games - which I've not played myself - but that deal fell through, and so an original I.P. was born.

This game encorporates a whole bunch of space exploration, venturing into the unknown, managing your vessel and seeking ways to finance your mission, either through peaceful trade or ruthless piracy; all in the meantime having to deal with an engaging plot involving saving humanity as we know it using diplomatic tact to help generate an alliance between drastically different alien species to unite against a common foe. In addition, you can form your own crew of rag-tag misfits, discover a wide and rich world created by the developers of this game and even shape it yourself, by discovering and naming new planets and species.

Is this game good? poo poo no, it's as boring as hell.

BUT it had potential. It did things that Bioware tried to do years later; limited sometimes only by the technology of the age. It has some beautiful art work. And it also has a soft spot in my heart when I was naught but a wee stripling who was easily enthralled with bright flashing lights and sound effects.

With your help, I'd like to be able to take you through this flawed gem of a game and - while we're at it - save humanity from the scum of the universe!

Updates
Part I - Welcome to Thule Sector
Part II - The most important place in the galaxy
Part III - A journey of a thousand light-years begins with a single step
Part IV - Call her Ishmael
Part V - GET THOSE NERDS!
Part VI - To quote A. Schwarzenegger: You are one, ugly, motherfucker
Part VII - Trying the diplomatic route
Part VIII - Something, something a joke about the Maersk Alabama hijacking.
Part IX - Why can't we be friends?
Part X - The Great(ing) Escape or; I'm sure we've broken the Geneva Convention with this strategy.
Part XI - Thank you, sentients of Thule, for your support; you've been about as much use as a marzipan dildo.
Part XII - Somehow worse than a QTE boss or; Coulrophobes beware!

Samovar fucked around with this message at 20:30 on Jul 18, 2015

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Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Part I - Welcome to Thule Sector



Here at the very beginning we start out at the Biotech services - it's not immediately obvious what the bleedin' hell is going on, but that's not important just now. First and foremost, our name:



And after we press enter, we get immediately moved to the following scene:



It's no scrolling text exposition, but eh; it'll do.

The camera shifts downward, revealing a space station. And heading towards that space station...



Who else but yours truly?

Immediately we get pushed to some kind of a intercom, and get a call from one Director Hawking.



: Now for the difficult part of your assignment...



: Your objective has been to avoid all contact, but now you'll actively seek relations with alien factions



: These are the Ghebraant, Kaynik, Deresta and Vantu.

: You must ally these natives to our cause, then utilise their support to disrupt Skeetch supply lines

: Which would effectively turn the tables on the Skeetch fleet

: Precisely Samovar



:: But you'll have to leave some of your field experience behind you. Keep in mind that we're trying to ALLY these species.



Ach c'mon... You managed to accidentally start ONE pan-galactic war resulting in the deaths of billions and suddenly YOU'RE seen as the bad guy?

: I get the picture sir... minimum offensive posture

: Now that we're straight on those objectives, do you have any questions?

: What purpose does my Newfront identity serve?



Well, that's what you get by voting Tories. Nowt but self-centred liberals and quasi-facist Randroids ready to just jump ship at the chance of making a profit any way they can. Quislings, the lot of 'em.

: So far, this stance has spared them from Skeetch aggression. Newfront is allowing your covert operation in exchange for exclusive trade arrangements



Oh great. So now I'm a goddamned hired agent for this Weyland-Yutani-wannabe corporation? Just wonderful.

: Then we can't fully rely on Newfront?

: They may come around if they see the locals rallying to the Alliance.



: The series of stations and depots that led you to the frontier is our channel to the outside. Our defence forces will subsist on the funds that YOU send us through this secret channel.

: I'd better get started!

: You should also get some crew members. Those Newfront vessels are far from the Recon Craft that you're used to.



I have a feeling I'm gonna be needing all the luck I can get here...





Well, now that we FINALLY have all that exposition out of the way, welcome to Garriod! This is one of three outposts maintained by Newfront in the Thule Sector that have been established for interstellar trade - they're the safe havens of this game. Currently they're packed with humans primarily; but there are a few other peoples around the place that we can bump into.

As you can see, there are six things we can do from this entrance lobby. We can access the Newfront com-terminal in the centre of the room, and see what announcements are available as well as drop a line to Director Hawking to give funds and declare findings. Keep in mind, we DO need to supply funds to the guy. You can lose the game if you don't keep him well supplied.

The open door on the immediate left is the lounge - a good place to rest a wee bit before heading on our grand adventure.

To the far left is the exchange centre. Any goods we manage to pick up from planetary exploration (or by other means...) can be sold there for credits. Available to buy from this locale is the most important resource in the whole game - the fuel source for our ship, called Stabilium. Hey, at least it's better than bleedin' Unobtainium, alright?

Right and to the back is the Biotech services. If any of our crew has come a cropper, we can get them stitched back into a semi-morphous shape with this facility. Also found behind this door is this game's encyclopedia, detailing the biology of all known aliens in this sector. This'll get updated as new life-forms are found in this game.

Closest door on the right is Frontier Craft - the mechanical services available for us to upgrade our ship's shield, fields, engines, weapon systems, etc. etc. Very valuable, but as of right now, we cannae really afford anything. So we'll have to just wait before getting anything from there.

Finally, the last thing we can do is leave the station and get onto our ship. Let's do that, shall we?



FINALLY. To be able to stretch the legs (metaphorically speaking, anyway), time to get a good look around Thule...





: I am Automated Being Evolution 440.



Oh good. Remind me to send him a thank you pipe-bomb next time we meet.

: Can I just call you ABE?

: As you wish.



Basically, this is the way the game performs copy protection. However, it's actually pretty crappy. It asks you to identify a government type of one of the sentient species in the game. There's only six possible answers, and if you did a bit of background reading at the Biotech station, you'd be able to make educated guesses as to the correct answers. After giving the correct answer to whatever the question is, ABE disengages security locks to the ship. Moving swiftly on...



This is what the immediate system looks like on the vid-display of our ship. In the centre is Garriod station, and currently there's nowt else. Other places will have more than just one thing in them, though. You get star systems with various planets, and every so often you get fellow space travellers; some good, some neutral and some... less generously inclined. But to get an idea of exactly how much stuff there is to explore, I think I had better pull up the Nav system and show the Thule sector in its entirety...



That's right. There's over fifty different noted locations to go to in this game. Three outposts, four home systems (those are the really shiny stars) and a crapload of stars; and orbiting each star is a variety of planets, with the potential of a variety of different life-forms, some known, others unknown.

The ship itself has six different stations, Biotech, Science, Navigation, Engineering, Contact and Tactical. I'll get into exactly what each of these stations do at the relevant times when we first use them.

With your help, goons, I'd like to try and get the ship upgraded ASAFP before tackling the major mission, but with you guys influences and decisions. That being said; Who would you like to visit first? The Ghebraant, the Vantu or the Deresta? The Kaynik will be left later, for reasons that will become apparent if we ever bump into any of them.

To help you make your decision, here's the Biotech's brief on each of the quartet.



: ..primary sense are olfactory, visual and audio... bipedal or quadruped locomotion...facial organ stores fat for frigid environments...infrequent reproduction through spontaneous conception.



: ..primary sense are electrostatic, radar and visual... quadruped locomotion... protected by hard exoskeleton... mandibles used as tool implements... frequent production of numerous offspring by hive master.



: ..primary senses are visual, audio and olfactory... biped or quadruped locomotion... protective, fur covered hide... armed with sharp teeth and claws... frequent mating produces small litters.



: ..primary senses are visual, audio and olfactory.. bipedal locomotion and good climbing ability... mastery of advanced cerebrum.. infrequent mating between sexes produces singular offspring.

So... to whom should we start out diplomatic outreach to?

ArchWizard
Mar 27, 2009

There's the Roy I know and love.


The Vantu seem cool. If they aren't ready to join an alliance, maybe they can at least offer advice.

Pierzak
Oct 30, 2010


The Vantu seem pacifist and enlightened, so of course they're gonna be the smuggest assholes and send you on a quest spanning half of the game. Better to get this off our heads early, set course for Vantu system/s.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007




Recruit some goons

Section Z
Oct 1, 2008

Wait, this is the Moon.
How did I even get here?

Pillbug

Ghebraant The giant space bugs have a hive mind so clearly we can save time in either endearing ourselves to them or pissing them off all at once.

Also they appear to have the most annoying to type name of the selections, so there is that.

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


The Vantu seem cool, but I want to see what kind of place Boobolla is: to the Deresta!

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


Hippie aliens.

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


The Lone Badger posted:

Recruit some goons

Yes, I too vote for the Deresta. I mean, they're piggy goons who live on Boobola, what's not to like?

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Part II - The most important place in the galaxy

Before we go off to do the mission, I'm wanting to go through a bit of basic navigation and conversation options in this game - that way I won't be dropping you all in the deep end come actually interacting with the aliens, like.

First off, announcements from the Newfront com-terminal:



: From: Newfront Security Re: Home Sector Update; The Skeetch fleet now control the borders to Gaea sector. We urge you NOT to attempt passage into Human space.

: From: Newfront Security Re: General Caution; There are a number of hostile forces at work in Thule. Be prepared for attacks by Kaynik, pirates and Skeetch.

That's the main reason why in my current state I'll be trying to avoid contact with the Kaynik (or indeed anyone potentially dangerous). Our ship cannae take more than a light exposure to UV-light from a star fifteen parsecs away before it explodes, so until we manage to upgrade our ship's defensive systems and engines before we can start taking the fight to them.

And finally, most importantly of all...



And with those important notices out of the way; it's time to go back on the ship and get travelling. But first I think I could use a bit more, i.e. better, context for who we are and what exactly we are doing here, in the Thule sector and how our ship actually works, so before we go anywhere, let's call in with ABE for a wee second.



: Just ABE, remember?

: Of course, Commander.

: What can you tell me about yourself ABE?



: Director Hawking acquired me to support Protostar agents. You are my first assignment.

: Let's make certain I'm not your last.

Wow; we've got self-confidence in abundance here.

: I am in agreement, Commander. Is there some way I can assist you at this time?



Now here is how the game handles interacting with people; you have three options - you can choose a selection of topics to talk about - some subjects are unique to certain characters, and each species have unique responses to certain topics which change over time.



Alternatively you can choose to try and butter the other person up - an entirely futile thing to do; since it rarely makes things turn out better, there are more sure-fire ways to get people to like you and it can occasionally make things worse (more on those two later when they become relevant). Hey, at least it isn't... quite... as creepy as Mass Effect could be. And occasionally it has some amusing responses.

Finally you can choose what type of a farewell you leave people with.

But we called up ABE to get a vague idea of how FTL is handled in this game, as well as a bit more explanation of what Protostar is, so...



: Modern engines are fueled by stabilium. Higher rated models not only provide a faster speed threshold, but they consume fuel more efficiently. We should travel with the highest rated engines available.

And there we have why we are going to invest in engines ASAFP. The current engine model this ship has, Level I, is poo poo. REALLY poo poo. You move like poo poo in ship encounters, you use up more fuel travelling from star system to star system, it takes ages to traverse INSIDE star systems and stabilium is one of the most expensive resources in the entire game. Engines are what you need most of all. Then it become much easier to get everything else.

: What can you tell me about the HDC?

: The Human Defense Coalition is comprised of impartial forces, and is funded from a corporate pool.



Oh goody. PMCs are what defend mankind from the alien menace.

: The HDC currently engages the Skeetch at sites of tactical importance.

: What can you tell me about Protostar?



Very funny, ABE

: The Protostar Directive is analogous to this natural phenomenon. In the event that threats to Humanity grow to a critical concentration, the HDC is empowered to deploy any individuals to contend with that menace.



So, no pressure eh?

: What can you tell me about Hawking?

: Estevan Hawking is the Director of HDC Special Operations. He is also the founder of the Protostar Directive. Director Hawking is currently entrenched with defence forces on Earth.



After you talk about three subjects, most people will brush you off, and you have to wait a while before you can talk with them again, e.g. jumping from one star system to another and letting time pass. This is irritating if you are wanting to speak about certain topics but everyone (of the same species) in the vicinity tells you to gently caress off (effectively).

With that in mind, since I went through the topics of conversation that ABE can talk about, you guys can tell me what you'd like to hear from ABE, or indeed anyone, in bold, and I'll include it in the next update.

Now that that's all over we need, I repeat, NEED to upgrade our engines to the highest grade ASAP. At the same time, I'll be showing off how planet-landing etc. works before heading off to the first species the thread wants. With that in mind, there are a couple of places I'll be heading to.



We'll be heading to this star system. Now, you see how going even that relatively short distance takes up 34.7m3 of stabilium? You start out with 100 m3 of it. 1m3 costs 100 credits, and we start out with 15000 credits. That may sound a lot, at the beginning, but considering that a Level III engine costs 25000 (and is, in fact the most expensive thing in the game you HAVE to buy if you want to complete the game; there's no other way you can acquire one), we need to make savings.

So - you might reasonably ask - why this star system? Well, pipe down already! Jesus, I was getting to that!



And if any of you start saying 'are we there yet?' I'll kick you out of the goddamned airlock.



So, here's how a typical star system looks; you'll have a central star with a collection of planets (or in some cases, none at all) that don't orbit around the star - they're all static. Each planet is colour-coded with respect to its size. Smallest planets are grey. Next up is turquoise , then pink, blue and purple roughly. I say those last three roughly, because our landing craft has a maximum gravity threshold. Any planets with a G-value of ~8 or more, if memory serves; you cannae land on.

But there's one planet in particular that we are interested in, the left-most one.



We have GOT to get some better engines on this ship.



So, when you enter a planet's orbit, you get treated to this kind of a screen, you see the mass, the gravity, the orbit from the sun and the name of the planet in question. Performing a subjective scan through Science station, you get a bit more information.




Now, the most important piece of information - that is, if you're wanting to get as much money as you possibly can, is the Lithosphere section, particularly 'Generous materials'.

You see, to get money in this game (non-violently) you need to harvest materials. These materials can be either metals/elements. You want to be able to get the most stuff in the least amount of time, so you want to find a place that has a LOT of stuff to mine.

The second most important piece of information from the analysis was under Atmosphere, particularly 'Non-habitable'. This doesn't mean that a planet will be uninhabited, of course. You can get people wandering around the planets on ships, etc. A habitable atmosphere will give you an indication of a chance of unknown life on the planet's surface.

Right now, though, if we perform a bioscan of Galothia, we get the following screen:



So, we can see from the start that there'll be some humans on this planet. Since we're not at war with ourselves, there's no risk if we jump down there for a little bit of freelance mining, as it were.





From this screen we can choose where on the planet we can land on. Though, I cannot think any reason why you need to make this decision. You can't tell from this screen where the largest deposits of minerals are; you can't find a ship of the inhabitants of the planet you land on from this screen, all you can do is decide whether you want the surrounding scenery to be mountainous, hilly or oceanic.

So, without further ado...





Here we are in a Newfront Explorer-class landing craft. Now to how to actually move around in this game. The purple, nine-boxed grid in the centre of the screen with the 'M' on it is the directional pad. You click on it, and you start moving around with a turning speed dictated by how fast your engines are.

Engine speed is indicated by the little, three-tier vertical bar to the left of the directional pad, just right to the radar. Right now, since we only have Level I engines, we only have the ability to put one section into that bar. Or take one out, and stop completely.

Hooray.

FINALLY, to the bottom left of the screen is the radar. Four things can be detected by the radar. Minerals are indicated by a grey 'X', life-forms are indicated by a grey, inverted 'Y', cities by a grey, inverted 'u' and other landing craft, which are indicated by a bright green dot. As you can see, South-South East of us is a mineral. So, without further ado, let's get this ship to it and try and pick it up.



Oh yeah, did I forget to mention we'll need to buy a Level III engine for both THIS ship and our space-ship? No? I could have sworn I had.

Also, in that .gif, you'll notice my cursor changing to some kind of yellow symbol. That is the device used to extract minerals from a planet's surface. Is there any type of indication in the game, or by talking to people that that is how you get minerals from a planet's surface? Pfft - what did you want, a game for babies?



But THIS is the reason I'm at this particular planet right now. This is THE only planet in the ENTIRE system which has stabilium as a native mineral. You can save so much money if you know about this place, especially at the beginning when you need to make as much money as you can at the start.



Yeah, if you're playing this game? Get used to that animation. And THIS is what I mean by the game being boring; you think there could be some more stuff to planetary exploration than just this, but there really isn't. It is very, very repetitive. And considering that it is accompanied by THIS music, ALL the time... well, let's just say as a kid I must have had a very high threshold for being bored.



Hello there; who's this?

Anytime you encounter a ship you don't know, you can perform a simple Science and Biotech Scan:




And while we're here; might as well see what the Newfront's finest are like - intiating contact!



Our reputation proceeds us! Somehow. Let's be reciprocal in our greeting:

: It is my pleasure to be speaking with you.

: I understand the truth in this.

Uh... OK?



In that list, there is one special option - 'Trade'; that's not really useful with humans, but it will come into serious play later. In the meantime, let's ask a few general questions before we get out of this place and get some faster engines.

: I would be grateful for information about Hyperpath travel.

: It's unfeasible to travel between solar systems without Hyperpath technology, although the idea of tunneling through fifth-dimensional space can be disorientating.



: I would be grateful for information about fuel.

: Stabilium-powered engines are standard on all NewFront vessels.



Uhh...

: The commander that registered that find must be in management by now.

And here we have a small failing in the dialogue options. People'll say the same things all the time, despite location. This is one of the more amusing... bugs? As it were?

: I would be grateful for information about yourself.

:My name is Commander Wedeen...



:..to seek out new lifeforms and alien civilizations...



Now you see the choice of thread title.

: Well, that's all the time I can spare for now. I look forward to our next encounter.

And off he pops, leaving us on our lonesome. (spoiler: We'll never see him again. Though we'll encounter a vast number of his identical siblings through this trip. I wonder why?)

And so, now I have to go over this god-forsaken planet at a snail's-pace to get enough money so as to buy a Type III engine. This will take a very long time for me but for you, lucky readers, it will require for you guys to flit your eyes to the next update. Thank God for Radio 4's history programmes is all I'm saying.

Also, Biotech has information on two more species at the very start - the last two who's home-systems we cannot visit in this game, namely humans:



: ..primary sense are visual and audio... bipedal locomotion... distinct skin and fur coloration... adapts readily to new challenges... frequent mating between sexes produces occasional offspring.

Hmmm. I get the distinct feeling we're being mocked somehow.

And finally, our primary antagonists for this game, the Skeetch:



: ..primary sense are visual, audio and taste... swings body using forelimbs when travelling... darted, tubular tongue collects food... singular mating sessions between sexes produces numerous offspring.

Charming-looking fellows, they are. But believe you me, they are NOT the ugliest thing to be seen in this game. Not by a long shot.

Next update we'll be getting new engines, and starting our mission proper.

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Darn, it's a tie between Deresta and the Vantu for first contact; unless more votes come in by tomorrow at my end I'll have to flip a coin for the decision.

Thanatz
Nov 4, 2010


Samovar posted:

Darn, it's a tie between Deresta and the Vantu for first contact; unless more votes come in by tomorrow at my end I'll have to flip a coin for the decision.

I'll vote for the space goons, I guess.

Lando131
Jul 27, 2006

This is one way to find scum...

Vulcans Vantu

Fake Edit: Damnit ^^^^^^

Lokapala
Jan 6, 2013


Space ElvesVantu

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Part III - A journey of a thousand light-years begins with a single step

First things first...



: To: Oh Marr Re: FluxHawk a la King; Hey, I tried your FluxHawk recipe. Have you tried adding a touch of P'kunk oil?

Quickly! To GWS!



Well, thanks to a bit of off-screen mining, I've managed to rustle up funds of over 50K from the exchange market - enough for two sets of Level III engines for both the ships. NOW we can go pay the Vantu a visit with relative ease.

So; without further ado - Let's get through to Frontier Craft and get our ride upgraded. Alas, no paint job options.





Well...

I... uh... can't help but notice that...

well, that you're not human.



If you paid attention to the earlier Biotech briefs, you'd probably be able to identify Jimmy here as a Kaynik. But that earlier announcement said that the Kaynik were currently raiding ships throughout the sector. How comes blue and fuzzy here to Garriod station?

: It is my pleasure to be speaking with you.



This kinda sums up the Kaynik as a whole (when they're not channelling Dick Turpin); brusque and not keen on pretence. Let's see if if we cannae get a bit more out of tall, dark and handsome here.



: I would be grateful for information about yourself.



: ..then attend four hours o' engineerin courses.

: That's no easy routine fer a Kaynik.

: Heavy, dude. But how comes you working for FC in the first place?

: A large percentage o' Frontier Craft employees 'r Kaynik. We work here mainly fer tha experience.



Hmm. I'm sure that won't become relevant any time in the near future!

: You said that the Kaynik dinnae work well under your current work routine. What do you think about the Kaynik overall, then?

: We Kaynik prefer adventurous 'n tactical pursuits; 'course some of us realize tha value of professional skills.

: The majority o' my species 'r divided inta rival brigand factions. Those groups don't know tha benefits of allegiance 'n service.

: Just please don't start talking about bootstraps. I beg of you, not now. Not millions of light years away from Reagan's corpse in deep space. Please.

But therein we get the first idea that trying to ally with the Kaynik is going to be a pretty hard thing to do; they have no centralized representation - their government is listed as Anarchy - and most of the time you see 'em you'll be running into gangs of romantic business men with itchy feet and even itchier trigger fingers. You cannae sweet-talk yer way with the Kaynik.

What's that? An idea that you might be able to initiate contact with a bunch of Kaynik who are more likely to listen and talk than what is typical and from that form an alliance? Don't be ridiculous! Who ever heard of a sci-fi setting having members of a different species actually having DIFFERENT personality traits from each other?

: Maybe we can talk again later.

And with that, we're back to the main FC screen. To get the new engines installed, we first have to transfer the old engine systems out of our ships; sell them; then buy and install the new engines into our ships.



As you can see, ship systems are worth quite a bit of money; and the higher the Type of system, the more money you can get out of it. This raises a hint as to a much more fun way of obtaining funds than just through mining - but I'll get into that when we come to it. In the meantime, out with the old and in with the new!

: C'mon back real soon, now.

Well, after that I could do with a wee drink before we skedaddle. To the lounge!



Oh - it appears that we have someone at our table. Or we chose to sit at an occupied table. Actually, I'm surprised to find this guy here - I didn't think you could find him around so soon. Let's see what our fellow drinker looks like!



Oh. Oh dear.

: You get the number of that combine harvester, mate?



: Whoa... I'm sorry, okay?

: All right, then.

: I'm just in a mood today.

Gee, I wonder why.

: Do you want to talk about it?

: Not really.

: That's fine. I'll be on my wa...



Oh boy, here we go.

: Yes, a few... but I don't want to trouble you anymo...

: One that changes you forever?

: You could say that... but I really shouldn't intrude on your...

: Hey, where are you going? You can spare a few minutes!

: You seem like someone who can relate to what I'm saying.

: Very well, if you insist...



: My body was fresh, and my dreams all seemed possible.

: I was going to be someone special!

: Were you in Newfront?



Yikes, he doesn't seem to like NF that much.

: Er... I mean somebody outside of Newfront, Commander...

: My name is Samovar.

: Well Samovar, you've got to understand that my priorities in those days were different.

: And YOUR name is?



What, not Ahab? Not Quint?

: So what happened, Dodel?

: As you can see, things didn't turn out like I hoped.

: I got involved with some devious aliens. When I discovered their true objectives, I tried to get out. That deal cost me my credit, my ship and a number of body parts. It was a terrible experience.

: Caveat emptor, I suppose. Have you considered revenge?



: There's always someone tougher than ourselves, kiddo.

: Ain't I the depressing one... and you probably came here looking to relax.

: So tell me Samovar, how can I make it up to you? Not much happens in this sector without me knowing about it. Is there something I can help you with?



Dodel here is around in any Outpost lounge that doesn't have music playing in it. He acts as the grizzled veteran to our idealistic greenhorn - the Jimmy Malone to our Eliot Ness, the Abbé Faria to our Edmond Dantès, the Boss to our Big Boss as it were. He gives pretty good briefs about almost everything in the game, and he's a pretty cool character overall. While it is usually good to talk with him in any case, I'll leave the conversation options on display and get back to starting the mission.

: May our paths soon cross again.

: Maybe I'll see you later... oh, yeah, I almost forgot.



: ...and you didn't stop to help them?! Actually, if your ship was in as bad a shape as mine, I can totally sympathise.

: Don't judge me! I've got my own concerns!

: Anyway, you might want to see if there's anything left of 'em. They were at coordinates 066,039.

I hope you managed to take a record of that on paper or something. An in-game journal? Pfft, who ever heard of something like that? Anyway, we at least have yet ANOTHER thing to keep in mind in addition to everything we're supposed to be doing.

But first...



: Gee... these aliens sure are good-looking...

Say hello to the second choice for the thread title.

: Ooooh! Mi head... mushta drunk too much of tha Kulablade...

Pfft, lightweight.

And with that, we're kicked out of the lounge and into the main hall.

Back on the ship...



By upgrading our engines; we've managed to cut down fuel costs by a third as well as flight time. NOW we can make some serious headway! First things first, where to find the Vantu? Well, I know their homeworld called Tavantal, but which of the four star systems is it? Well, they don't ACTUALLY tell you in this, game. You have to find out for yourself - but thankfully, such trial and error is not necessary, since I know the planet's location; viz - here:



So, without any further ado - let's get going.



Here's the star system of the Vantu - we've got three planets, which, in order from closest to sun to furthest are: Attanuat, Tavantal and Vutunt. However, what is probably most notable are those two green blips on the screen. Now, these blips represent other ships, and these blips can do one of three things:

1) Stay in position
2) Move away from you
3) Move towards you

And as it so happens, one is moving towards us. Well, I've put off meeting with the Vantu long enough (and I'd be kinda hosed if it was a hostile force), so we're gonna pull the ol' well-established tactical practice of a rapid strategic withdrawal



Finally, loving finally, we get to our destination - the Vantu homeworld!






Now, THERE'S an interesting last picture. Those three 'unknown' listings means that there's three indigenous lifeforms on this planet not known to Humanity. If you manage to discover the species before anyone else, you get to name the species as you see fit. What's that? There's an established, sentient species who'd probably have named these creatures in the first place and to overlook that would be considered pretty drat patronising? gently caress THAT! We'll name these goddamn animals whatever the hell WE wanna name them and to HELL with anyone else!

Carl Linnaeus, eat yer heart out.



Upon arriving on Tavantal, we see the following immediately:



Let's get a bit more info on what it is we're seeing here:




All alien species have their individual atmospheric craft as well as interstellar craft; and each species usually carry around some of the animals they have on their planet as cargo - meaning if you are quick off the bat, you might be able to find some new species without ever having to land on the planet. But where's the sense of exploration with that?

Anyway, we've put this off long enough. Time to initiate contact, and channel the spirit of James T. Kirk!



Or... maybe not.

Thankfully, this game doesn't ever try to go down the 'Asari' route for any of the alien species. Each and every one of them are particularly... unique-looking, to say the least. I'll say this much; the Vantu are probably the best-looking of the bunch, i.e., do not make you jump back in horror the instant you see them.

However, they do have a particular type of personality, which seems to come through with their very first words - they're pretty drat self-important; and this'll only get more apparent the more we speak with them. Oh well; if we want to make a good impression, you can always go with flattery!

: I am humbled by your generous attitude.



Oh my God.



Well if there are any particular subjects you guys'd like me to ask the Vantu, just let me know in bold. In the meantime; let's break the ice by asking what this guy has to say about themselves, their species and humans - why not.

: So, what's the score with you guys?

: You would do well to show respect.

...

Oh my God.

...

OK, so maybe he has an inflated view of the Vantu aristocracy - what about if we ask him about himself?

: I think we may have gotten off the wrong foot here. Can you tell me anything about yourself?

: I do not share my personal affairs.



: I will reflect upon this encounter.

And off he fucks.

Yeah. The Vantu! Not the most... gregarious of people in the galaxy. To make people open up, you have to get an idea of how to get them to warm to you. Sometimes this involves a bit of flattery, an excessive amount of flattery and occasionally something else as well. These guys have some seriously swollen heads. If we want to get them to warm to humans, well, we're gonna hafta kiss some rear end. As annoying as that may be.

So! Onto to Tavantal! It's chock-a-block full of Boron, Molybdenum and Tin - pretty valuable materials and always worth a check-up. As well as...



That's what a life-from looks like on a planet's surface. You get a simple diagram of the basic appearance of the creature. And a chance to name it by doing a Biotech scan on it when it's in yer cargo.



They also get individual animations for when you scoop them up into yer ship.

There's one last thing you can find on planets with 'abundant' amounts of sentient life-forms; cities:



These are essentially wee commercial hubs you can find on the planets which allow you to trade with the particular species. One sure-fire way you can make friends with aliens is to sell/buy things with an attitude most similar to them as well as selling/buying things from them at a loss. If you try and make a profit through haggling; people can become very shirty with you very quickly. Let's land and see if we can't paint this town red, eh?



Oh. Well, I guess he's already started it, eh?

Each species gets a distinct city screen with their own music and aesthetic. It's all pretty cool

Every time you start bartering with anybody, you get to try and adopt a particular personality. It's best to go with the personality that matches the species in question:



And it is pretty drat clear from the start which personality we should adopt for the Vantu.



Offering to sell goods puts you through to this screen - if you have anything in your cargo that people want. Usually everyone wants stabilium, but occasionally you'll get some people who declare that you have nothing that they want. We can get rid of the Molybdenum at least.

: My offer for the Molybdenum is 30

: There is little reason to charge over 29 credits.

: 29 it is. You drive a hard bargin.

Remember when I said the speech in some of this game can get a bit silly? ...yeah.

After selling the Molybdenum, we've got nowt else to sell - so let's try buttering this guy up a bit.

: I am humbled by your generous attitude.



: You're destined to lead others.

: Your honesty is commendable.

: I've never met a more impressive being.

: Your wisdom exceeds your years.

OK, that's as much bullshit as I can take. I'm gonna ask him about the Vantu aristocracy and then I'm gonna piss off. I did NOT travel god-knows how many light years so as to meet up with the an alien species modelled after the bleedin' House of Lords.

: I'm probably going to resent asking this, but can you tell me about the Vantu government?

: We Vantu once distinguished between social classes. Those with highest perception managed the direction of the masses.

: Our limited capacity for reproduction increased the value of individuals...



: Presently, all Vantu belong to the elite class.

Well... that's... certainly a unique way to end a caste system.

Anyway, we've got all we're going to get from these boys for now, so we're gonna shift it, try and get a few more minerals before heading to an Outpost to unload our goods, speak to Hawking, and then see about that location Dodel was on about.

: It is my pleasure to serve you.

Hey, at least they're actually, y'know, TALKING to us...




But I think I'd best wrap up this update for now. But NOT before going through the life-form discovery process.



: ..primary sense is olfactory... travels on numerous footpads lining underside... barbed sides deter predators... sustenance collected with extending mouth organ... egg colony expulsion fertilized by male during reproduction.



: ..visual and audio senses... leaps up to four meters high on multiple resilient legs... rings of colourful fur repels moisture and attracts mate... frequent eggs hatched following incubation.



: ..visual and taste senses... mouth harpoon used for consumption and protection... skin changes colour to camouflage... infrequent eggs fertilized by male at tree nest.

After each briefing we are given an option to name the newly identified creatures. Over time, the computer will discover unknown species (and planets). I'll be trying to find them before this happens. In the meantime... what would you want to name these new species (Names in bold, and keeping in mind max. length is 12 letters)?

Samovar fucked around with this message at 07:24 on May 12, 2015

inflatablefish
Oct 24, 2010


The spined oozing slimy thing is a Hedgeslug. The bouncing hopper that goes for low-hanging fruit (!) is a Ballsnapper. The tree-climber with a grappling hook is a Bat-Orang.

StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


This game feels like a bizarro universe Star Control 2, with a more obtuse GUI and slower gameplay. The writing isn't quite as snappy either, but I can't help but be interested.

There's two typos in the previous update: 'When I discovered their true objectives, I tired to get out.' and 'It's all pretty [url=cool[/url]'

Conversation-wise, can we ask ABE about Siege, Automatons, and Yourself, and the Vantu about Skeetch, Pirates, and Deresta?

And finally name-wise, Lurker for the eel-slimy thing, seconding Ballsnapper, and no opinion on the batty thing.

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





StrixNebulosa posted:

There's two typos in the previous update: 'When I discovered their true objectives, I tired to get out.' and 'It's all pretty [url=cool[/url]'

...to coin a nifty phrase: 'Oops'. Thanks for the heads-up.

MadDogMike
Apr 9, 2008

Can I come out and play?

Given the attitude of the locals, the eel thing should be called a Suckup, agree with Ballsnapper and Bat'Orang (use the apostrophe for maximum alien language coolness though!).

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Part IV - Call her Ishmael

Hello there! Sorry about the delay in the update. When we last left our hero, we had just gotten around to naming the native fauna of Tavantal;



Unfortunately, there's no option to add non-letter character's in the names, besides from a space. Which I never knew, because I had no imagination as a child.

Before we go off-world and investigate a few things, a few things have come up which we might want to ask ABE about...

:What can you tell me about automatons?



: Until recently, we have served in industrial and high risk capacities. Newer evolutions are being assigned to roles normally occupied by sentient lifeforms.

: I am an example of this progression.

: The Luddites were right! What can you tell me about the siege? Sorry, I mean Siege. Doesn't seem as impressive without capitalization.

: The Skeetch have committed their entire fleet to the siege of Gaea Sector. For the present, they are ignoring the Human population scattered across the frontier.



: And what do you have to say for yourself, boyo?

: I am Automated Being Evolution 440, produced by Sentibot corporation.



: I am constructed from the highest rated materials, and can withstand considerable damage. My primary programming is for engineering tasks.

And then he buggers off. For something that's supposed to help us, it's pretty brusque. Guess ABE's acclimatising us for the inhabitants of Thule.



It'll be a while before the Vantu will talk to us; in the meantime, we'll do a bit of buying and selling, report our findings and funding to Hawking, see that star system Dodel mentioned and then start making trails to Boobolla.


Heh.

'Boob'



First off, since we're damned close to the actual location - the last known co-ordinates of the Human ship.



Any time you go to a location without a star on it; you'll invariably see this scene; except with even less stuff in it. Let's see if there's anyone else alive out there.




Wow. These guys have been put through the proverbial wringer. Here's hoping the last person is still able to answer the intercom.



: This is Commander Samovar. I need to know more about your status, XOE-9283.

: We are... that is, I am in good health. My Commander and fellow crew members have all perished.



: There are no major energy leaks and most compartments have atmosphere.

: I've rigged the power couplings to overload.

: Uhh, you know, I'm not too boned up on my sci-fi engineering degree, but that sounds kinda like... That would destroy your ship!



: It's a relief that you got here first.

: We can't tow your ship from this far and also, you've made your ship into a goddamn bomb, and we can't just leave you here. See earlier comments on your ship = goddamn bomb.

: I understand. I'll activate the couplings while you pull alongside.



: Farewell, XOE.

: What will you do now?



Well, at least you've got your goals nice and clearly defined...

: I know this place like the inside of my flightsuit. There's no place they can hide.

: Hold on there! Aren't you forgetting something... like a ship to travel around in?



She's all right, this 'un.

: Listen, by the time you sort out the red tape with Newfront, then get a new commission...



: ...the Skeetch will have conquered or kissed this galaxy goodbye! And I'm hoping for the latter!

: What do you suggest?

: I could use a good Navigator. I promise this ship will fry more Skeetch than any other vessel in the Sector.

Quick aside - we really, really will be trying to avoid them as much as possible, actually.

: Skeetch fries... interesting. Count me in, Commander Samovar.

And so we have our newest crew member, Cassi. She's the first (and easiest) one you can get after ABE, and you can assign crew to particular stations that you think they are best assigned to. Since it is pretty much smashed right into our face at the beginning, Cassi is best suited to being placed into the Navigation station.

You can find other crew members throughout the galaxy; one for each station plus one more.... However, adding people to each station means that you now have to allocate a salary to the guys working for you. Since you can actually do their jobs FOR them, there's absolutely no reason gameplay wise why you should do this. However, since it wouldn't make a very good story if I didn't try and get the most rag-tag group of can-do mavericks, I'm going to get everyone.



Lemme know which subjects - if any - you wanna talk about with Cassi. Oh yes, and how I act with each crew member - professional, complimentary or... and I am loath to give this option... over-the-top?

Oh yeah, before we go...



That's right, we can take slag constituents for our own profit. Hope you don't mind us grave-robbing your old crew-members, Cassi!



That's our automated probe going to snatch up the remaining material. This is a particularly hard thing to do in the middle of a space battle, as you need to be able to stay close to the wreckage and not get blown to smithereens yourself.

Anyway - to a new location! We need to sell what cargo we have to pick up some funds and some fuel; so I think we'll make trails to the 'Southern-most' outpost. But before we go all the way there; we could do with picking up some extra resources... Let's try this star system for absolutely no reason whatsoever!




And would you look at that, a solitary planet by the name of Ballont. And why, what on Earth (or off of it) is on Ballont, but...



Yeah, yeah, I cheated a bit here - but mainly because this planet's life gets discovered ASAP, and I wouldn't want to deprive you guys of the chance of the joys of naming it yourself, and not having to deal with the game's dumb-as-hell name suggestions.





With those guys out of the way, it's time to go to the Outpost I alluded to earlier; namely...



This is an entirely new Outpost, and it has a unique lobby design. Without further ado, let's get on-station!



See what I mean? It's very pretty.

After a quick selling session, we make off with a pretty 30580 credits. 5000 of that goes to buying some extra stabilium. As for the remainder, well...



: It's good to see you, Samovar. How is your mission progressing?

: Dicking around, as usual, sir. I'm doing all that I can.

: I'm sure that you are. I have full confidence in your abilities, Samovar.

: I have some information that may interest our constituents. I've registered the lifeform Ballsnapper, Suckup and Bat Orang.

: Good work, Samovar.

: Your efforts should strengthen constituent faith... for a while

Ah, how fickle democracy is!

: Our defense funds are low right now.



And herein is the reason you have to keep checking in with Director Hawking. You have to supply Gaea Sector on a regular basis. If you don't the situation deteriorates, and you'll eventually lose the game (I am not sure, however, what the time-line for that is). In the meantime, let's just give Esteban a good, round 10000 creds

: Thank you, Samovar. Your contributions are essential to our victory. Send us funds as soon as you are able. Keep me updated, Samovar.



And there he goes. As for the Announcements section...



Hey! That's us!

Newfront announcements will make a record of when and where you found new life-forms, to make it all the easier for illegal poaching and unregistered vivisections to occur. On a non-joking aside, it also can act as a beacon for certain planets containing life that you haven't found. The computer won't find all three life-forms on a planet immediately.



So yeah, not much else is new. Before I leave this place for good; there's a little something I want to try in the immediate region of this station, and besides, I think I've left it long enough...



Oh! Well, I didn't need to go far, at all! Right now we're under attack by a fleet of three pirate vessels. They occur more commonly at Freehaven, but I wasn't expecting them AT the Outpost. At full capacity, these guys aren't a bother, but as we are right now; I'm not sure how we'll do. Let's try initiating contact! Maybe they'll take mercy?



What, no 'pull alongside and prepare to be boarded? These guys are the worst pirates! And as an aside, this one pirate guy? He's the best looking of all space pirates. Yeah. They got SO much uglier.

So what is space combat like? Well, it goes a little something like this...

Sorry about the music dropping out like that. Strangely enough, the game can't handle multiple sound effects simultaneously, like that. If you are lucky, you'll get only one enemy ship, but we were not so lucky.

Now, during encounters, we have to turn on our defences and weapons, and then afterwards turn them off. This is because any neutral forces will become hostile if you approach them with your weapons turned on. This means, in turn, that EVERY enemy will get at least one shot on you.

In these encounters, you want to do what I just did, i.e. get behind the enemy vessel, match its speed and blast the fuckery out of it. If you dinnae dodge and weave, the enemy can in turn blast you and yer ship will take damage, there are two kinds of damage that can occur, either to the stations of your ship (represented by the aquamarine bar) or the people manning the ship (represented by the orange bar). Auto-healing for both station and personnel will occur if you don't get hit, but you can direct repairs to specific areas/people if they are in exceptional trouble. Obviously, we don't want to lose anything.

Now, our vessel only has three kinds of weapons, the particle guns (the rapid fire weapon), the accel cannon (the slow moving, blue sphere) and pursuit pods, which are homing missiles which pursue the nearest target and cause the most damage out of all the weapons in the game except one... So, why don't we use that?



Did you see what changed there? Yep, using the Pursuit pod costs ten units of stabilium, EVERY time it is used. Thankfully in this screen, you don't use ANY stabilium when flying. Otherwise, this game would be very short.

Now, we've been causing most damage to the grey vessel, and we'll be concentrating our fire on it. You'll have noticed when I was blasting the drat thing, systems started going red all over it. This reflects the system damage we are doing; the darker the colour, the more damage we cause, up until it turns black. Now, we want this to happen. Because if we blow up their engines, we can take them to pieces at our leisure.

After a short interlude (where ANOTHER enemy vessel got called in), I managed to drive off all but one enemy vessel, which couldn't flee because I've blown the engines.



Now, you remember how bioscans can tell you how many people are alive on a ship? Well, we can also BOARD enemy vessels, but only when EVERYONE ONBOARD IS DEAD. What's that, ask for their surrender? What do you think we are, privateers? Hell no! Murderers or nothing!



Like so.

Now, with everyone dead, you can board the vessel and make off with THEIR booty. That's right, you can pirate pirates! And it is exceptionally profitable! And much less boring then scanning and mining planets for absolutely ages.



From here, we just direct their cargo hold to ours. As it so happens, our booty consisted of ~ 50m3 of stabilium and...



That's right; we get our greasy mitts on the ship systems of the guys we just killed, and if those other guys hadn't pissed off, we would have gotten theirs too. The money you can get from pirating pirates is actually quite high. AND it is much more fun then simply exploring a planet with elevator music in the background while you fight the urge to jam a pair of tweezers into your ears and eyes from boredom.

And when we've taken all their stuff, we blow up their vessel and take the remaining aluminium and titanium.

Well! That was an invigorating session! (especially when my game bugged out and the blown up pirate ship started shooting at me) I think we best get back to Freehaven with out ill-gotten gains; but first...



: ...flips from one end to the other when travelling... tactile and radar senses... internal pressurization for digestion and defense... multiple orifices emit high frequency sounds or steam blasts... frequent asexual production of infant podlings.

Yeah, I'm not surprised THAT thing is asexual.



: ...tactile sense and survival reflexes... segmented coverings feature sharp projections... frequently kills by constriction... spiny seeds spread by scavengers.



: ...primary sense are olfactory and tactile... segmented armour shell provides protection and enables deep burrowing... infrequent mating between hermaphrodites produces numerous offspring.

...So, any suggestions about what THIS horrid menagerie should be called?

Samovar fucked around with this message at 10:37 on May 17, 2015

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.



A screamy slinky, a snakevine, and a dungadillo.

inflatablefish
Oct 24, 2010


So ABE's appended priority is "classified"? Well, I'm sure that this can't possibly come back to bite us later on in any way. Maybe his creator was a fan of Robocop.

Let's be complimentary to our new genocidal navigator lady. I'm guessing they've probably shoehorned in a few lines of romance subplot, so we may as well see just how badly written it gets.

How over-the-top is over-the-top? Are we talking obsequious flattery, bombastic heroism, Shatner impressions?

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

A screamy slinky, a snakevine, and a dungadillo.

Seconded. That first one can only be a slinky.

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





inflatablefish posted:


How over-the-top is over-the-top? Are we talking obsequious flattery, bombastic heroism, Shatner impressions?


If I remember correctly, one of the lines is: 'You're the most impressive beings I've ever seen'.

Yeah.

They don't change the compliments from situation-to-situation.

Edit: Whoops, just realised I double-posted a gif in that update... which is odd, becasue I remember specifically changing that in my test post.

Samovar fucked around with this message at 10:36 on May 17, 2015

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


Complimentary to the lone survivor.

I vote to be over-the-top to whatever is the ugliest alien crewmate we meet, as determined by Samovar.

radintorov
Feb 18, 2011


Fallen Rib

my dad posted:

Complimentary to the lone survivor.

I vote to be over-the-top to whatever is the ugliest alien crewmate we meet, as determined by Samovar.
Voting for this.
And since I also lack any sort of imagination

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

A screamy slinky, a snakevine, and a dungadillo.
let's go with this as well.

Shady Amish Terror
Oct 11, 2007
I'm not Amish by choice. 8(

Oh cool, it's basically a Lasher vine from Metroid Prime, a Hermit Crab in Space, and....oh dear God what the gently caress 15-foot long thermal vent worm space Slinky what the gently caress is that thing Jesus

Doloen
Dec 18, 2004


Fools! No republic, not real, not imaginary, is safe from ME! Queen of Centrism, hailed across time, the ruiner of FUCKING EVERYTHING.

I cannot DIE
I cannot LOSE

IT'S MY TURN AGAIN AGAIN


Holy poo poo a Protostar lets play. I played the poo poo out of this game when I was like 7. Never quite managed to finish it.

Hopefully you visit the Deresta soon, I love those bastards.

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





Part V - GET THOSE NERDS!

Here's the new names for the animals discovered last update; alas there wasn't enough room for the name decided for the slinky-beast, so I had to improvise...



When we last left our heroes they were currently just outside Freehaven having been rudely ambushed by a gang of wanna-be heavies who made the Pirates of Penzance look like the bleedin' SAS. After said barney, we headed back to Freehaven to sell our now-redundant ship systems at Frontier Craft for a profit.





Well, glad to help you out of said repair bay.

Now before, I sell all my stuff to him, I'm gonna ask him for the lore explanation of the weapons we just used against the pirates.

: I was hoping we could talk.

: Yeah... sure.

: What can you tell me about Accel Cannon? Wait, I mean Accel CannonS. Cannons. I didn't forget to use the plural there, no sir.



That gif doesn't really convey how fast he shifts his hat around. It's quite hypnotic.

: Tha energy required fer their operation's negligible. Accel Cannon 'r standard gear for Newfront vessels. Tha only defense against 'em 'r Dampenin Fields.

: Can we set our Particle Guns to stun?

: Those guns 'r standard fer Explorer vessels.



: Tha antimatter's released on contact with a solid mass, resulting in molecular annhilation. Energy shields are the best protection against Particle Guns.

Looks like I got the two mixed up in the last update. Whoops!

: Why do I shell out 1000 credits for every Pursuit Pod I use?

: They're yer basic homing projectile, aided by a computer guidance 'n a superior turn rate. Pursuit Pods target tha nearest opponent ta yer vessel.



: There's no defense against 'em, but they consume ten cubic meters o' yer fuel each shot.

: ...because...?

: Because otherwise you'd use no other weapon type besides from it! Now shut it! Maybe we could talk again later.

So, enough chit-chat. We can get rid of all our old Type I systems and the Type II engines the pirates had, leaving us with a very tidy sum of 19500 credits - as I said, pirate hunting is fun AND profitable!

Nice doing business with you, Frontier Craft! Now to head off to the Deresta...



You know, when you catch him mid-fidget, he looks rather fey...

...or, as fey as a weird, blue-furred space-gremlin could look.

: What's on your mind?

: I don't mean to be forward 'r nothing, but I was wonderin if ya know anyone who's lookin fer crew members.

...Interesting...

: I figure ya might've heard somethin, being a Commander 'n all.



: This is tha only opportunity I get ta speak with Humans in yer position. Ya may not realize how prejudice interferes with my chances on tha outside.

: Tha reputation of other Kaynik'll always haunt us respectable few.

: I see... I never realized.

: Anyways, I've been a Tactical tech in Frontier Craft fer some time now. They let me play with all o' tha weapon systems. I've learned all I can here, so the work's become reduntant.

: With some luck, I'll soon find employment on a starship.

: How serendipitous! How providential! How providipitous! There's an opening on my crew.

: Ya serious?

:No. Only if you are.

: Ya got yerself one battle ready Kaynik!

: My name's Yikkak.

: Can I call you Worf? I'm Commander Samovar. I'll expect you on board my ship when I leave this Outpost.

And with that, we've managed to pick up yet ANOTHER crew member! As you have no doubt guessed, Yikkak is our tactical officer, having picked up all the required skills at F.C. Giving notice? No, I've never heard of that exactly - why is it important?

Oh.

Well, I think now's a good time to shift it off this station - but there's just enough time to see what's happening in the lounge...



Dodel! What a surprise! No, I really mean that; I was genuinely expecting the band to be on by now - this is the longest I've ever gone in the game without seeing the band. How are ya, you old space-pirate?



: Well, I try.

: It's good to see that you're still in one piece.

: Well, I try.

: You're okay, kid.

While Dodel's in the neighbourhood, let's see what we can't squeeze from him running a ship. After all, this ol' space-dog had hands-on experience in running one! Right up until the point at which he had them blown off. No, wait, that came out wrong.

: I seem to be attracting a whole gang of people onto my ship as of late; you have any recommendations or advice about crew members?

: You'll meet crew candidates under some unusual circumstances. The better your reputation, the higher your chances of attracting talented help.

: Make sure to respect your crew, and be careful not to threaten their species... they won't do you much good if they're hostile.

: Oh yeah, and be sure to have enough credit in your account to pay salaries every ten days.

: I'm so glad Humanity reverted to French Revolution-era time keeping. I would be grateful for information about tactics.



Yes, I'm beginning to see that.

: Since most Newfront vessels travel solo, expect to be outnumbered. This tactic won't trouble you if the right tactics are employed.

: Your first actions in conflict should be to arm your defenses, then weapons. Next, concentrate your fire on one vessel until it's disabled.



: If your adversaries are very manoeuvrable, put some distance between your vessels, then make an attacking run. I use my Wave Gun when my opponent is passing quickly, and my Accel Cannon when they're dead in my sights.

: You can always pump out Pursuit Pods to limber up the enemy... if you can spare the fuel. The damage you inflict relies on the skill of your Tactician, but that almost goes without saying.

: It's VERY IMPORTANT to keep an eye on your Status Gauges during combat. The victorious Commander directs repairs or treatment where needed. You should also observe the condition and behaviour of your opponents. Frequent scans will tell you what they're still capable of. You can dock with adversaries that surrender, or that have no crew members remaining... so long as their buddies aren't still engaging you.

: If things go badly, and you have highly rated engines, then there's no shame in fleeing. You can always surrender if escape isn't possible.



Jesus Christ, man, did you not pay attention to the last update? I covered pretty much all of that already!

: Talk a lot, don't you?

: Well, it's not as if there's an instruction manual to tell you how to play this game, now is there?

: Touché. Anyway, what about yourself?

: My lust for adventure has faded.



: I'm content to pass the torch to a new generation of risk addicts. Good fortune to you all.

: Well, that's all the time I have for chatting, I look forward to our next encounter.

: Thanks for not bursting into a rendition of 'Fair Spanish Ladies.'

After a suitable amount of time pickling our internal organs with space-whisky, let's get outta this dump, assign Yikkak to Tactical and go to the next stage of our mission.



Here is where we'll find Boobolla and the Deresta people. As with the Vantu, we'll check out the solar system, land on the home planet, steal some local wild-life and terrorize the locals; see if we can't find out a few things.



A pic that conveniently shows the four planets of the Deresta home system (heading out from the sun, Oboee, Boobolla, Darnot and Harbyne)

On the way to Boobolla, however...



Hey! A friendly face. Well, a Human face, anyway. Let's see what they're up to. Open a channel!



: Pleasure's all mine, Z. What's the craic?

: What can I say?

: Fair dos

While we're here, let's see what the general human impression is for the local alien races in the sector.

: You work much with the Deresta at all?

: The Deresta aren't too keen on social skills. I think they spend a little too much time in the lab.



: What about the soon-to-be-no-longer enigmatic Ghebraant?

: Those sentients resemble the insectoid lifeforms that inhabit our home Sector. They are guided by a form of collective mind.

: The Ghebraant I've encountered are looking for a new hive location.

Oh good. They're essentially Tyranids. Except peaceful. I don't know if that makes them more or less horrifying.

: And the Vantu?

: I'm frequently impressed with the knowledge the Vantu possess.



: At times, their demeanour borders upon arrogance. And by borders, I mean runs perpendicularly through.

: Right on, sister! What about the Kaynik?



: If they weren't so divided by internal feuding, they would be just as great a threat as the Skeetch. How can we reason with ruffians that only want our cargo?!

:Heh... heh, yeah. Funny thing about that...

: Well, that's all the time I can spare for now. I look forward to our next encounter.



Guys... I'm getting the faintest idea that working with the Kaynik MIGHT be slightly harder than all the other species...





Ah, sunny Boobolla! With majestic, glacier-ridden oceans! Vast, snow-ridden tundra wastelands! A freezing, arctic thermal atmosphere! M... m... mild weather?

OK.

OK, sure.

Whatever, let's just get to the planet's surface.



...

I'm not sure how on earth that ship works. Like, at all. In any way shape or form.

The more astute of you may have noticed that the Deresta vessel is trying to flee from us. However, the Deresta vessel has level one engines and is could be out-run on foot. It could be out-run by driving a Mako. It, for lack of a better word, sucks.



Well, enough pussy-footing. Let's see what our Ice-hog friends look up close!



That's a face only a mother could love. If said mother was Hellen Keller. Let's put on the charm offensive to these dorks.

: I am completely in your service.

: I'm so happy I could cry!



: Any chance of the lowdown on you guys and your government?

: There's not much to tell, really. We're just your average space-faring sentients with a strong interest in scientific achievement. Just like everyone else... right?



: ..b-but I have to tell you, s-someone's out to get us! I'm not kidding you!

: It wasn't long ago that a group of our honoured scientists completely vanished!

Wow. As is plainly clear, the Deresta are supposed to be the first race you encounter. I wasn't even TRYING to get the quest-line to get them to join the alliance and it pretty much just dropped slap-bang onto my lap; understandable, seeing as they are the closest and most docile of all the aliens in this game.



: A multitude of departments process forms and statistics, then organize this data into plans for safer and more productive living. I feel so much safer with them watching over me!

:ORWELLIANS! What about yerself, big yin?

: Oh (sniggle), you're embarrassing me! I'm just a gifted sentient without lofty aspirations. I treasure my anonymity.

: Oh gosh... well, I gotta go. Thanks for being so patient with me!

Yep. That's what the Deresta are like. Dweebs to the bone. Goony through-and-through. But still, we need their help, and so... Let's get started.



: I hope our prices don't insult you!

No, no, your prices don't. But believe you me, your music does.

Adopting a naive approach, we manage to pick up some extra fuel, sell some resources at a loss, then get to chatting.

: I am humbled by your generous attitude.

: Do you really mean it?!

Oh golly gee.

: I wee bird told me about some missing scientists, ony chance you could elucidate upon they lot?



: It had been leased by a number of our top scientists as transportation to a convention. No passengers, crew or cargo were found on board!

: I do hope you got the deposit back.

: We Deresta can't trust anyone until the mystery of those missing scientists is solved!

: Th-that includes (gulp) you humans!

: 'EY YOU! Are you wanting my help in tracking these poor bastards down or no'? Now, Skeetch are in favour of disintegrating people, so there are only two factions that readily spring to mind re. hostage-taking and stealing cargo; namely space-pirates and the Kaynik. Can you give any idea which of the two is more likely?

: It's getting so that a Deresta can't travel safely anymore. We respect the rights of others... why can't everyone else?

: I mean, can't we all just get along?

: As for the Kaynik, they're the meanest bullies in this sector! Just because they've got bigger guns, Kaynik think they can just stomp all over the Deresta!



: At least you're no' deluding yourselves. But you said you don't think you can trust us Humans? How no'?

: The only Humans I meet work for Newfront.

: You seem like an amiable species, considering your history of conflict... th-that is, you're quite receptive for expansionists...

: ...(eek) wh-what I mean is, you display reason exceeding your intellect...



Bless yer heart, ya big palooka.

: This humble merchant doesn't know anything else.

: Then, if you'll pardon me, I best be to shiftin' myself. Haven't quite strip-mined your homeworld yet, y'see.

: Please help us find our scientists!

Don't you worry, little guy! I'll get right on that!

...





...right after I finish doing this. You don't mind, do you? Oh good.

So, as you may have gathered, if we want the Deresta on our team, we have to help find these missing scientists - yes, to get species on your side, you first have to make them like you, then you have to find the right piece of dialogue to get the quest activated, THEN you can get them to join you. As it so happens, this is THE easiest quest in the game, again, fitting in with making it seem like the Deresta are actually supposed to be the first species you initiate contact with.

Anyways, we'll see about solving these guy's problems as we make our way to the final of the friendly species, the Ghebraant. Oh boy are you guys going to like the look of them!

But before we do so, there's still one last thing to do!





: ...skates on honed bone ridges protruding from underside... propelled by eight pairs of stubby appendages... forward mouth organ scoops nourishment while travelling... infrequent asexual produced eggs embedded in ice.



: ...olfactory and tactile senses... leaps up to fifteen feet using triangular foot... torso bends backwards when feeding... asexually produced eggs laid during inverted hiberantion.

Inverted hibernation?! What the bloody hell is THAT supposed to mean?! Also, hang on...

Wikipedia posted:

Arachnids is a class (Arachnida) of joint-legged invertebrate animals (arthropods), in the subphylum Chelicerata. All arachnids have eight legs...

That thing is NOT an arachnid.



Mammalian FLATWORM?!

: ...olfactory and taste senses... wedged head and flat body for burrowing through snow banks... fur covering provides thermal protection... annual nesting by both sexes produces small litters.

As a biologist, this poor use of classification insults me. Well, at least it is... kinda... cute? Maybe?

So, any suggestions for these bad boys? Also, if you want any particular topics discussed, just let me know in bold and I'll ask the moment I can get a chance to in the game.

my dad
Oct 17, 2012

this shall be humorous


Well, one of these is obviously Notanarachnid

Bobbin Threadbare
Jan 2, 2009

I'm looking for a flock of urbanmechs.



I suppose the weather is bound to be clear skies all day when the atmosphere is too cold to support water vapor.

I'd say the three animals are a rainbow hand, a spider leg, and a meerworm.

Neophyte
Apr 23, 2006

perennially

Taco Defender

With all that lovely mild weather on that frozen iceball, no doubt hockey is the greatest (and only) pastime they have. So, following that theme:

the rainbow-bewigged Fandome

the keep-it-on-the-ice Hoppy Stick

and the adorably disturbing furry Flat Trick

Deceitful Penguin
Feb 16, 2011


Rainbow thing is clearly a Punkbeast

The arachnoid is Spider-Ham

Section Z
Oct 1, 2008

Wait, this is the Moon.
How did I even get here?

Pillbug

Rainbow thing is

inflatablefish
Oct 24, 2010


Our ice-skimming punk friend must clearly be an Eskimohawk.

If we can fit 13 characters in (any chance you could check this for future reference?) then the bouncy "spider" is an ArachNoItsNot.

The flat curious mammal (and drat, that thing is ridiculously flat!) is a Flatypuss.

Shady Amish Terror
Oct 11, 2007
I'm not Amish by choice. 8(

Clearly an arachnoid is not the same as an arachnid. Therefor I agree that Notanarachnid is the most fitting scientific term for the arachnoid.

Pierzak
Oct 30, 2010


Deceitful Penguin posted:

Rainbow thing is clearly a Punkbeast

inflatablefish posted:

The flat curious mammal (and drat, that thing is ridiculously flat!) is a Flatypuss.

Seconding these, and the last one should be shortened to Arachnot.

Pierzak fucked around with this message at 10:32 on May 21, 2015

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Despite the poor points in the design, it does look like they tried to do something cool, and I appreciate they resisted the temptation to make all the aliens humans with funny foreheads and/or blue tits.

Can you collect any SENTIENT alien creatures or is the "non-sentient" bit in front of every single one you collect just a formality?

Also what if you disable an enemy ship in space combat, but DON'T kill off the entire crew? Boarding actions? Prisoners for the cargo hold? Or can you not collect all their junk until everyone on board is dead?

I dont know
Aug 9, 2003



PurpleXVI posted:

Despite the poor points in the design, it does look like they tried to do something cool, and I appreciate they resisted the temptation to make all the aliens humans with funny foreheads and/or blue tits.

Can you collect any SENTIENT alien creatures or is the "non-sentient" bit in front of every single one you collect just a formality?

Also what if you disable an enemy ship in space combat, but DON'T kill off the entire crew? Boarding actions? Prisoners for the cargo hold? Or can you not collect all their junk until everyone on board is dead?

I really hope that you can collect sentient aliens. Think about it, you will be flying around the back waters of planets abducting farmers. Maybe make some crop circles while you are there.

Samovar
Jun 4, 2011

I'm not a hero...





PurpleXVI posted:

Despite the poor points in the design, it does look like they tried to do something cool, and I appreciate they resisted the temptation to make all the aliens humans with funny foreheads and/or blue tits.

Can you collect any SENTIENT alien creatures or is the "non-sentient" bit in front of every single one you collect just a formality?

Also what if you disable an enemy ship in space combat, but DON'T kill off the entire crew? Boarding actions? Prisoners for the cargo hold? Or can you not collect all their junk until everyone on board is dead?

You don't really collect any sentient creatures - not in the way that we collect the non-sentient animals, anyway. No chance of us re-enacting 'Communion', if that's what you're wondering about.

If you disable a ship, you can try and communicate with them, but you can't demand their surrender - any enemy commander will just yell at you. You can only surrender to people, annoyingly.

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Duckbox
Sep 7, 2007



StrixNebulosa posted:

This game feels like a bizarro universe Star Control 2, with a more obtuse GUI and slower gameplay. The writing isn't quite as snappy either, but I can't help but be interested.

This game was released in '93, a year after Star Control 2 and three years after the original. The color palettes are unmistakably similar, but some of that can be chalked up to the style of the time. The music sounds like a bad remix of the Star Control score, but again it was the early 90s and there's only so much you can do with MIDI. The faux-quirky dialog and presence of various colorful alien species defined by a single wacky personality trait is a little more damning, but Star Control didn't invent that trope either. What really tears it is the gameplay. Explore unlabeled planets, harvest resources, find weird alien critters, talk to aliens, fight different aliens, go back to the starbase for upgrades and advice, do quests, recruit allies, repeat until ready to take on evil aliens conquering galaxy. I've never played Protostar, but I sure as hell have played that game. I mean, it's not all the same. The UI is a bit different and many of the details of gameplay are markedly changed. I kind of like the first person perspective, and I like some of the new features, such as naming animals, but both the planetary exploration and the ship-to-ship battles seem markedly less fun and my tedious than their Star Control equivalents (is that accurate?). There are just enough original ideas (or at least ideas borrowed from games besides Star Control) to argue that this game was just heavily 'inspired" by Star Control rather than a complete rip-off, but this game is still a half-forgotten bit of flotsam riding in the wake of a 90s classic, sort of like the Bush to Star Control's Nirvana.

Duckbox fucked around with this message at 00:14 on May 22, 2015

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