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Author Topic: Galactic warfare for the common man: Let's play Sins of a Solar Empire!  (Read 15460 times)
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Bozwevial
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« on: October 16, 2010, 05:28:41 PM »

Table of Contents

Prologue
Chapter One
Chapter Two

We've updated! Five months later!
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 02:04:57 PM by Bozwevial » Logged

Bozwevial
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2010, 05:28:50 PM »



So, uh, what exactly is this game?
Sins of a Solar Empire calls itself a “RT4X” game. It was developed by Ironclad Games in conjunction with Stardock, which is fitting since the game bears a fair bit of resemblance to Galactic Civilizations II. Like GalCiv II, SoaSE is a 4X game, which is somehow shorthand for “explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate.” Unlike its spiritual predecessor, SoaSE isn’t turn based, it’s real time. Can’t stop the action, baby.


That doesn’t answer my question.
Fine. Sins of a Solar Empire lets you take control of one of three factions—the Trader Emergency Coalition, the Advent, or the Vasari—and expand your civilization throughout the galaxy in various ways. Usually through blowing up the other guy’s ships, but occasionally through cultural spread or even diplomacy, odd as that sounds. (Actually, only explosions will get you a new planet. Culture just causes the occasional planet-wide rebellion and diplomacy only promotes victory if you’re allowing an allied victory.)


Advent? Vasari?
Okay, it’s…it’s complicated. First you have the “normal” humans, the Trader Emergency Coalition (TEC). We don’t care too much about these guys. They have lots of armor and a decent economy. Then you have the Advent, a group of highly advanced psychic humans who hate the TEC for kicking them out a long time ago. (They were apparently doing something culturally perverse, I don’t know. Let’s pretend they’re all psychic lesbians.) And then you have the Vasari, the only aliens you’ll see in this game, who are simultaneously badasses in terms of their technology and cowards for running away from some fleet-devouring alien monstrosity. Naturally, I’ll be playing the latter. (Note: The Vasari are also considered more or less one of the hardest factions to play properly. Thanks, Veekie!)


So how will this work, exactly?
I’ll be playing through the biggest map size available. A randomly generated Huge map contains five stars, each with a large number of planets and other celestial anomalies, for a total of 132 planets. Scattered among these planets will be ten factions, each one a splinter faction of the TEC, Advent, or Vasari (and of course, one of those Vasari groups will be us). Oh, and some pirates.


…Wait, you’re not even playing through a campaign? Where’s the story?
That’s the tricky bit, and it’s why I was so reluctant to LP this game. Sins of a Solar Empire doesn’t have a single-player campaign. It has lore, yeah, but only to the extent that the manual gives you. So I’ll be making up a narrative to keep you interested through what will surely be a lengthy campaign for galactic conquest.


Are you—
Going to pull all the details out of my ass? Absolutely. Ironclad hasn’t given me much to go on, so I’m going to have to invent some things in order to keep the story compelling. Seriously, I don’t know a thing about the Vasari other than “they’re aliens,” “they’re being chased by something like Space Cthulhu,” and anything I can glean from their tech names (they like nanites, I can tell you that much). I will be gleefully making vast chunks of story up, and you know what? It’s canon now. Yeah, the Vasari shit rainbows. Honest to god rainbows. All over the place.


Hey, why’d you turn off the pirate raids?
To appease the ninjas.

Seriously, though, until they were patched, the pirates had an unfortunate tendency to scale exponentially in power the longer they were left alone until they were completely unstoppable. That was literally the first thing Ironclad patched. Even brought back down to a (not quite) manageable level, the constant bidding wars every 15 minutes just detract from gameplay, especially when I’m going to be spending enough time already taking screenshots and writing out updates. The pirate bases are still there, so I’ll definitely take the time to raid them at some point, but I’d rather not take time out every 15 minutes to  say either, “…and then they paid the pirates some more money” or, “pirates, thousands of them!”


So what’s so awesome about the Vasari?
Well, they’re the only alien race in the whole game. As far as gameplay, that’s a good question. Vasari ships tend to be more expensive than TEC or Advent ships. Advent has the edge in raw firepower and the TEC has fantastic armor. Where the Vasari shine is in clever use of tactics. See, the Vasari get advantages other factions don’t—for one, their starbases can move around, and you’re actively encouraged to build starbases offensively. As in “next to an occupied hostile planet” offensively. They also get phenomenal mobility in the late game, since they’ve spent so much time running around the galaxy already (mostly away from stuff, but there’s no need to be picky).


Your writing is terrible.
Then don’t read my writing. I’ll be adding pictures so you can get a good idea of what’s going on without reading all those words. However, this LP is doubling as a bit of an experiment for me, so if you do read it and have suggestions/criticisms/praise, let me know so I can improve.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 05:54:32 PM by Bozwevial » Logged

Bozwevial
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2010, 05:29:00 PM »

The gurgle is like that of a blocked toilet: Quiet, persistent, and ultimately terrifying.

“Oh shit.”

The man stands over the source of the gurgle. His fingers are throttling something which is, according to its creator, a nanite scrubber and reconstitution facilitator, and according to its wielder, a mop. The choking is not out of any hatred for the mop or for mopping in general, mind you, but because the gurgle is so troublesome.

“Shitshitshit.”

The chitin on the man’s face—well, I can’t really say that, it’s not on his face so much as it is his face—has shifted colors. The Vasari have a word for this color: Ankhar. Humans have a name for this color too, although it happens to be “a really dark brownish-purple.”

“Shiiiiiiiiiiit.”

The swearing is almost an afterthought, as though whoever painted the scene—the janitor standing over the gurgling man, the small puddle of yellow on the floor, and that Goddamned mop—had decided that what was really needed here was a speech bubble up in the corner, filled with the word “shit” in different flavors.

The man repeats himself, closing his eyes and opening them in the hopes that the Emperor would be waving up at him cheekily, or perhaps holding a sign reading, “Gotcha!” In fact, none of this is the case. The gurgling mockingly continues.

“I’m going to prison.” It’s a dispassionate statement that doesn’t give away the fact that the man is now gnawing on the mop handle. He isn’t biting it out of despair or anger; it’s more of a condemned man’s curiosity. I wonder what this tastes like? “Or maybe they’ll just kill me,” he adds in a voice muffled by mop.

The voice that speaks up and tells him, “The latter is twenty-nine percent more likely to occur” is definitely female. Very, very female. He is somehow okay with that voice telling him that, if he is especially lucky, he will spend his life a prisoner rather than be executed. The man pauses.

“Whmrg—“he begins, and then stops to unstick the handle from his third row of teeth. “Who are you?” he ventures again, trying to sound supremely unconcerned about the fact that he has been found trying to eat a mop while standing over the Emperor, who still hasn’t stopped gurgling.

A luminous face appears on one of the three large screens on the far wall. Luminous in both senses of the word, really—it’s an attractive face, to be certain, but it’s also made out of light. “I am the Emperor’s synthetic intelligence advisor,” it—she—says, inclining her head respectfully. “According to personnel records, you are Kostura of the Crèche Sanitorium, and you are here because the Emperor wished a spill cleaned.”

This is correct, though the man has more pressing concerns. “Is he—“he asks, gesturing at what we may now confirm is the Emperor, whose gurgling continues unabated.

“You released the wrong nanite swarm, I believe? That, and your device is poorly calibrated.” Kostura’s grip on the mop tightens again. He can’t really argue with her—the mop is poorly calibrated, as the Emperor would agree were he able to speak—but it’s the principle of the thing. Anyway, the teeth marks aren’t helping his position.

“Shouldn’t we help him? Elevate his feet, or something?”

The advisor ignores this feeble stab. “I do not believe that is necessary,” she says, to the relief of the janitor, whose face begins to regain normal color.

“Well, that’s a relief.”

“Yes, he is already too far gone for medical aid,” she adds. The color in Kostura’s face, sensing that this may be a bad time, slips out of the room again.

“Oh.” The syllable drops out haphazardly, and he briefly considers putting the mop in his mouth again. “So…where does that leave me?” he asks, stamping down the urge.

“Your trial will be fairly brief. A sympathetic court might permit you to serve a life sentence in a crystal refinery, given the circumstances of the murder.” Kostura thinks this is fairly reasonable, up until he realizes the likelihood of finding a sympathetic court, at which point he resigns himself to his fate in a process that takes about two seconds.

“Of course, there is an alternative.” The mop handle stops halfway to the janitor’s pointed teeth. Segments of chitin shift on his face, making a “if this is about execution I don’t want to hear it, otherwise do go on” expression. This is easier than it sounds.

“The Emperor’s death is untimely. Our colony is in a precarious position economically, technologically—in short, an election now would throw the planet into chaos.” Kostura nods wisely, attempting to lean on his mop in a sagely fashion. “The best course of action, therefore, is to prevent this news from spreading. We have no need to tell the colony we are leaderless if we can produce another leader. Luckily, you have similar skull and chitin structures, so only moderate cosmetic surgery will be necessary.”

The mop lands on the Emperor, cutting off the gurgling noise abruptly. Its owner, meanwhile, is backing away slowly. “No fucking way,” he says by way of explanation. “No,” he clarifies, “Fucking. Way. They’ll kill me when they find out.”

“As opposed to?” Kostura is forced to concede the point. “But,” he argues, “they’ll kill me slower.”

“And yet you have a chance at a second life. The former Emperor kept to his quarters and made little contact with the public. Your disguise will be remarkably sturdy.”

The janitor’s objections are torn apart before he can voice them. “I don’t know anything about politics,” he points out hopelessly.

“Then simply take all my advice. Really, it is a fantastic opportunity for you. You’d lead the lifestyle of an Emperor with only minor duties and no real work, and the rooms are very nice.” Her voice is fantastically wheedling. Artfully modulated undercurrents of seduction in her voice put Kostura in mind of late nights spent flipping through pictures of the type that merit italics.

“Alright,” he sighs. “I suppose it’s better than inhaling crystal dust all day.”

“Excellent. Welcome to your new office, Emperor Dreth,” the synthetic intelligence says with a hint of smugness. “Before you get too comfortable, you’ll have to clean up your predecessor. We wouldn’t want any lingering evidence of what happened here.” Her face vanishes, but the janitor has the distinct impression that she’s still watching, perhaps even giggling quietly somewhere in the mainframe.

“Come on, then,” Kostura grunts, grabbing the ankles of the old Emperor and dragging him to the incinerator. The process of stuffing a body into a space designed for the occasional piece of paper (or perhaps, on special occasions, a used box) takes quite a bit of work, which explains why he doesn’t notice the trail of thick, yellow blood smeared across the carpet until he’s finished. Resisting the urge to bite the mop yet again, he instead runs it over the viscous stain. The net result is a wider stain, which prompts more creative swearing than the Emperor’s death had.

It is a nice room, though.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2010, 06:05:49 PM by Bozwevial » Logged

Agita
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Justym2c
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2010, 06:32:28 PM »

Let’s pretend they’re all psychic lesbians.
Dammit, Boz. You have to tell me shit like that sooner. Tongue I suppose it's too late now to retract my vote?

Good old Nobody Gets Responsibility. I see three options.
a) Kostura becomes badass.
b) The AI (sorry, SIA) goes evil.
c) Both.

In any case, poor Kos.

Sucks that SoaSE doesn't have a campaign, though. I presume Space Cthulhu doesn't appear in the game either?
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Bozwevial
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2010, 06:55:38 PM »

Dammit, Boz. You have to tell me shit like that sooner. Tongue I suppose it's too late now to retract my vote?
After all the work I put into the prologue? Don't worry, I'll make sure there are Advent factions out there for maximum psychic lesbian potential.

Quote
Good old Nobody Gets Responsibility. I see three options.
a) Kostura becomes badass.
b) The AI (sorry, SIA) goes evil.
c) Both.

In any case, poor Kos.
Think I should let readers vote on the direction of the storyline?

Quote
Sucks that SoaSE doesn't have a campaign, though. I presume Space Cthulhu doesn't appear in the game either?
Not at all. Maybe if you're playing as the Vasari and you spend too much time screwing around? There has to be a mod for that...That said, Space Cthulhu might make an appearance here if I can figure out how to solve the Lovecraft conundrum.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2010, 05:16:28 AM by Bozwevial » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2011, 02:17:28 PM »

*poke*
Is this thing still alive?
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Bozwevial
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2011, 04:10:28 PM »

It will be now. I'll grab my defibrillator and set to work here--I think I set out to find a mod for the Eldritch Abomination that ate the Vasari fleet and forgot to update.

...for a couple months.
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2011, 12:40:31 PM »

It will be now. I'll grab my defibrillator and set to work here--I think I set out to find a mod for the Eldritch Abomination that ate the Vasari fleet and forgot to update.

...for a couple months.
I'm still waiting. 
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oslecamo
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2011, 05:01:29 PM »

Still waiting as well.  Sad
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Bozwevial
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« Reply #9 on: March 16, 2011, 08:32:50 PM »

“Hnnnglhrgl.”

Kostura is keenly aware that he’s not exactly working up a reputation for loquaciousness here, but he thinks he might be forgiven due to the fact that a swarm of nanites just reconstructed his entire throat and face.

“You regained the capacity for intelligible speech two minutes and thirty-seven seconds ago,” the voice admonishes.

Well, so much for that. He sits up, although even this simple act is made more challenging by the fact that there are now muscles where before there had only been wasted space, and their eagerness to get in on the action turns things into what might rightfully be called a clusterfuck. Eventually, the newcomers are informed that they really aren’t needed for this task and to call back later, maybe, and the janitor manages to stand up in front of the glowing face. A few photons twitch with the effort of suppressing a smirk.

“I hope you like the bed, Emperor Dreth. It is imported, as you may have been able to tell, from the homeworld.”

“Can we,” he begins before the new tones of command and respect force their way to the surface. “Er. Did you—“

She slips into the gap smoothly.  “Yes, you now have the same vocal patterns as your predecessor. It will be necessary if you are to deliver public orations.”

“Is that very likely?”

The face intimates a shrug. Kostura files this under “Things that will bite me in the ass,” a file which has been growing exponentially as of late, and manages to walk into the adjoining room. It, too, is a nice room, although it appears to have been designed for a man who had not considered the existence of colors other than gunmetal grey. Okay, perhaps that’s not quite fair. There are other colors, yeah, but they probably also have the word “gun” in them somewhere.

“Since you now have nothing better to do, you will be spending your time supervising our operations,” the synthetic intelligence says, scooting a chair back along magnetic rails invitingly. He sits as carefully as he can without actually touching anything and raises a hand, which is determinedly ignored. “To begin, we’ll focus on—“

The hand rises a little higher, prompting a quiet sigh. “This is about the ‘minor duties,’ isn’t it?”

“Yeah, I figured those were going to be things like…dusting your microprocessor?” He takes a hopeful stab, checking to see if the face has stopped disapproving. It—or she—says nothing. “The motherboard.” She repeats herself. “Megapixels. I’m supposed to clean them, right?” A synthetic eyebrow arches. “I mean, you can’t have…dirty megapixels. That would be…” He trails off, shrugging as though to suggest a Goddamned catastrophe.

“Listen,” she says, activating the room’s three screens and filling the room with a soft, reddish light. Kostura obeys, partially because the picture is just so clear, possibly even worthy of crisp. “You’re familiar with this, I assume?”



“It’s Adelheid,” he says, pleased to be back on firmer ground. The colony world floats there invitingly, and he reaches out to turn the planet round, which brings a small, please-stop-doing-that cough from the synthetic intelligence.

“That’s correct.” Adelheid shrinks, and four more worlds fade into being, connected by faint lines. “These are the only four worlds we know of in this system apart from our own.”



“Hang on…no, that’s not right,” he says, leaning forward to touch the picture again. The star of Alchibah glistens between his fingers as he swivels the imaginary camera round. “There are only five worlds? And four of them look the same?”

This appears to score a few points, and the voice sounds pleased. “You see the problem quite well for someone so ignorant.” There is a moment where no one is quite sure how to touch this. “That is, ignorant when it comes to the mechanics of stellar dynamics and the formation of planetary systems.” Kostura reluctantly agrees; he’s not sure how to design star systems beyond a vague notion that you’d need a really big thing, or possibly several of them, and then maybe you set one on fire? “Those worlds appear identical because no Vasari probes have ever reached them. Our colonization is limited to this single world; we only know of the others because orbital calculations suggest their presences. There are almost assuredly more, but those are the only four we can reach in a single jump.”

Without being prompted, the janitor makes a universal zoom-out motion—a sort of pinching gesture—and Alchibah’s comforting radiation quickly shrinks to a small red blossom, a handful of tiny spheres scattered near the rim.



“There are four more star systems in the immediate vicinity.” The image swivels to reveal two more brilliant discs, unmarred by any evidence of planets. “Propus and Golganis.”



Another turn, this one bringing a cold blue system into view. “Rotanev.”



A third turn reveals a blood-yellow system. “And Sadalsuud.”



“And we don’t know anything about them at all?” Kostura hopefully taps one of the stars, which fails to achieve anything. “I thought we had probes, other colonies, mining operations—what about the Melchior border skirmishes?”

There is another pause, this one somehow quieter than the last. Then, “All fabrications.”

“All of them?” The janitor’s mouth doesn’t quite drop open in shock—it’s freshly grown and is a little bit stiff—but it tries, recognizing a suitably dramatic moment.

“This colony was established as a resort,” the synthetic intelligence admits. “Over time, the planet grew to have no middle class, only workers and members of the High Crèches. And once the Enemy arrived…” Her voice trails off, but Kostura catches the capital letter on the word ‘enemy.’

“What exactly is the Enemy?” he asks, already mentally filing this in that same Goddamned folder.

“I don’t know.” The admission is quiet, barely a whisper.

“So who does?”

“The only Vasari who have ever seen them and returned were found drifting in a ruined hulk of a ship, the only remnant of the entire Dark Fleet. They were incapable of describing their experience.”

“And why was that?” He has to ask; to do otherwise is impossible now.

“They had been driven insane by fear.”

Kostura sits back in the chair to ponder this in the manner an Emperor might. This lasts about three seconds before he bursts forth, “So why don’t we just run?”

A quiet sigh escapes the luminous face. “Allow me a demonstration, then.” A great many of the stars on the display turn green. “This is a representation of every system inhabited by the Vasari and every system where we have placed beacons.”

Kostura is impressed. There’s a lot of green.

“Now remove every star system with which we have lost contact.”

It isn’t too hard to guess where this is going, given what’s already happened today, but it would have been extremely nice for at least some green stars to stay behind. That is, on top of the single point burning in the center of the display, which he just knows will turn out to be a certain colony world. He makes a hopeful unpinching gesture anyway, because maybe it’s actually a bunch of little dots on top of each other?

Nope. Fucking Adelheid glows cheerfully at him in the light cast by Alchibah, which he’s starting to think is a dumb name for a star.

“So, we’re basically dead, then?” Asking is just a formality by this point, honestly, and he’s already picturing a variety of unhealthy habits he could develop in the meantime.

“Not quite.” The display swivels again to reveal a swathe of untouched stars tantalizingly close to their own, leading off into the distance like—well, let’s be honest, it’s pretty much a road. Made of stars. “This is a viable escape route. By my best estimates, we could buy the Vasari another ten thousand years of life by fleeing this way and adopting a nomadic lifestyle.”

Ten thousand years does sound pretty good to Kostura. “But we can’t because why?” He has to ask; it’s always something.

The stars that had vanished before return, except now they’re red for no apparent reason. There’s a single red point sitting casually between the five untouched star systems and the escape route. It’s not doing much, really. Just chilling.

“We would have to punch through the Enemy.” She’s almost apologetic about it.

“Ah.”

“The Enemy that eradicated the entire Dark Fleet.”

“I heard that.” The capital letters are starting to grate on his nerves. His right eye narrows.

“Up until now, we’ve been claiming the existence of other colonies because it was a convenient way to tax people more than they would be willing to pay otherwise. Give them a border war, and they’ll gladly pay for protection. But your predecessor—the real Emperor Dreth—had given up on escape. Every coin that poured into our treasury went to pay for his own pleasures while the Enemy drew nearer with every year.”

“But why couldn’t you have just taken over yourself? For that matter, why do you need me?” This has been bothering him for quite some time.

Her face, despite being formed entirely of seemingly solid light, seems to be avoiding his gaze somehow. “I’m not permitted that degree of freedom. If the Emperor’s orders contradicted my advice, I had to adopt his course of action. When you murdered him—“

Kostura winces faintly, trying not to think of the mop sitting over there in the corner.

“—I was able to administer the surgery because it wasn’t a terribly important procedure. Now you’re similar enough to the Emperor to give your own orders to me—orders which will in turn come from me.”

There is a pause where Kostura works through the implications of this, during which the synthetic intelligence helpfully flashes a diagram on the screen.

“So how long do we have before we have to run?” The five star systems on the screen linger behind his eyelids when they close, as if to say, “Good luck, motherfucker.”

“A year, perhaps. No more.” Her face bobs apologetically.

Three rows of incisors grind together in agitation, reminding him exactly how weird it is to have new teeth. He grasps the arms of the chair, lets them go, grabs them again. Glances at the mop, then at the star systems, then back into the bedroom at the wonderful bed for a change of pace. This continues for long enough that it would be tedious to write out. Go on, skip to the next paragraph.

“It’s not like I had anything else to do in the meantime,” he says in resignation, already trying to decide whether the mop is good or whether he should keep something else around to kill himself as insurance.

The face brightens, almost blinding the janitor. “Wonderful! You’ll be a legend among the Vasari,” she says, not bothering to mention that legends are not inherently good.

Kostura nods, sitting up straighter in the chair and assuming what he thinks is a heroic pose. He casts a quick glance at her face, which nods encouragingly, then reaches out to the screen, zooming in on Adelheid. “Then let’s get started.”

There is yet another pause, this one dramatic at first but quickly lengthening into melodramatic and then dying with a small whimper.

“…exactly what the fuck am I supposed to be doing again?”
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2011, 04:12:48 PM »

It lives!

So I guess the plan is to charge headlong through the red dot in our way? I like that plan.
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Bozwevial
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2011, 07:43:16 PM »

I figured punching out one Cthulhu was more feasible than punching out two hundred. Tongue
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oslecamo
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« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2011, 08:09:26 PM »

I vote for researching giant drill breakers.

If that's not an available tech in this game, then conquer liberate the nearby planets to get extra resources to churn out a proper fleet.

Speaking of wich, what are the industrious capacities of our current planet again? Perhaps we should start simply by channeling resources from all the carnal pleasures installations to industrial factories and science labs.
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2011, 08:10:23 PM »

I vote for researching giant drill breakers.

If that's not an available tech in this game, then conquer liberate the nearby planets to get extra resources to churn out a proper fleet.

Speaking of wich, what are the industrious capacities of our current planet again? Perhaps we should start simply by channeling resources from all the carnal pleasures installations to industrial factories and science labs.
Now now, let's not be hasty. It should be sufficient to raise taxes.
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2011, 10:13:27 PM »

What I have so far isn't terribly crunchy, yeah, so next time we'll go over the mechanics, set our factories to work, and possibly even visit another planet. (That barely visible curve in the first screenshot is the planet's gravity well.)
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2011, 06:48:05 AM »

This is relevant to my interest, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Oh, and in case anyone bitches, your writing rocks. Just the right combination of snark and fourth-wall-leaning sarcasm to make it truly funny. Keep up the good work! Clap

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Huge amounts of people are fuckwits. That doesn't mean that fuckwit is a valid lifestyle.

As a general rule, murdering people and taking their stuff is pretty much superior to breaking their stuff, murdering them, then not having any stuff to take.

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You'll see the party and only be able to respond, "Oh yeah baby."
Bozwevial
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2011, 02:01:26 PM »

“Listen.” We are well beyond a hint of exasperation by now. Exasperation is through pussyfooting around and creeping into her voice. It has stormed in, kicked its boots off, and flung itself down into an armchair. “While I anticipated your need for an explanation and set aside some time for it, we have wasted nearly all of it talking about the relative merits of green. Not ecologically friendly colonization methods, either. Green the color.”

“I still think it looks silly on the ships.” Kostura is unwilling to yield on this point. He lifts his chin as an afterthought. This is what emperors do. He experiments with the angle for a bit before settling on firm, yet patriarchal.

She waits for him to finish. It’s not like this is any less productive than what they were doing.

“Look,” he finally says, “I know we need to start as soon as possible, but I still don’t understand anything. Yesterday I worried about mops and dust. That was my job. I moved dust from one place to the other. Now I’m in charge of a planet.”

“An explanation is needed, but the time spent on the exchange prevents productivity,” she muses. By this point, Kostura is expecting the conversation to take a turn down Just-Shoot-Me Boulevard. He’s passing the time by experimenting with a magisterial way of burying his face in his hands.

“Oh, you’ve thought of the same thing! Wonderful. Do hold still.” The glee in her voice isn’t even bothering to put on a fake mustache. The objection coming to his throat is interrupted by an expletive as a high-pitched whine blends with the sensation that someone has just taken a sharp piece of the sun and shoved it into the back of his head. He manages a gurgle instead. Give him some credit, though. As gurgles go, it’s pretty regal.

The pain switches off. The room switches off. There is a disconcerting sense of the infinite on every side, rushing in if he so much as thinks about it. His thoughts flail around for something familiar and utterly fail to find it. Even the passage of time, one of his oldest friends, has turned on him. He thinks, “one Mississippi,” and it stretches off into the distance until he can see the end of it a foreverlength away.

YOU’RE DOING VERY WELL.

He doesn’t hear the words so much as have them emblazoned on his consciousness. Every sense lights up at once to hand him the message.

OOPS. TRY NOT TO THINK WHILE I Fix this.”

Reality stops fooling around and gets back to work in time to slap the closing quotation marks on the end of her sentence. The agony pokes its head around the door briefly before relenting and sitting down a safe distance away. Somehow he’s sitting up, staring at the screen and the two ships that are hanging in space.



Green is still a really terrible color.

“And that’s that! How do you feel?” she asks brightly.

“Please tell me that wasn’t brain surgery.” He has to think it; his tongue shows no sign of moving.

“Are you giving me permission to lie to you?”

He tries to stare at her, but his eyes are nonresponsive, choosing to remain fixed on the ugly pair of ships.

“You’re simply thinking as quickly as I do now. Your body can’t keep up, of course, but you’ll get used to it. Let me show you where the toggle is.”

He spasms as all the delayed reactions catch up, falling out of the chair.

“And just do it again to converse at my speed.”

He spends a while playing with the trigger. Eventually, he manages to get into the chair without incident.

“Okay, so let’s move past the invasive brain surgery.”

“Just think of yourself as a better person, inside and out.” There’s a brief pause, a few microseconds in duration, during which she regrets saying this heartily. It was that terrible.

“What are these?” he asks, trying to sound interested rather than violated.

“Fabricator ships. Small drones that bear the bulk of construction work in the planet’s gravity well.”

He tries thinking a command at them, straining mightily. She waits patiently for him to give up before saying, “They’re automated.”

“Okay, then how—“

“Later. We need to go over more before we start on this.”



The screen shifts to something that looks like—something that vaguely resembles—okay, fine, it’s a giant ribcage floating in space. With spikes.

“This,” she says, one hand elegantly cupping the image, “is a factory. With raw materials and funds, we can produce a wide variety of cruisers and frigates here.” A thought extends in her direction. “Frigates are the small ones.” The thought slinks away.

“At the moment, our options are somewhat limited. We can construct a colony ship, a scout ship, or a skirmisher, all of which are frigates. Cruisers, meanwhile, are out of the question unless we design one. And I’m very glad you asked about our technology,” she adds coaxingly.

Kostura recognizes his cue. “Why don’t we have that information already?” In fairness, he was wondering something along these lines.

“Your predecessor never thought it worth the time or money to connect Adelheid to any of the major repositories of knowledge available to him. He convinced the entire planet that star blizzards made it impossible to establish a connection.” She already sees where this is going and cuts it off quickly. “Star blizzards aren’t a real thing, no.”

“Okay, can’t you just…invent new things?” He’s really hoping it doesn’t become his job somehow.

“Not on the scale we need. I would need to devote all my efforts toward the task, and I’m afraid you wouldn’t be a suitable replacement for me.” By now he’s too accustomed to this sort of casual abuse to pay attention to it. “We need laboratories, and they need to be specialized if we want results quickly.”

“So weapons facilities and then some focused on the wellbeing of the empire?” He hazards a guess and thrills over the nod he receives. Yessss.

“Of course, research costs money and materials too. And where do we get those?” She waits for a fraction of a second before plowing onward. “Money, of course, comes from taxing our subjects. We do have to spend it on upkeep for our ships, but infrastructure has a sweet spot where it essentially pays for itself. I won’t bore you with the financial details, but if we colonize another planet we’ll have to develop it to that point to stop it draining our funds. Materials, on the other hand, are extracted from asteroids. For all intents and purposes, we only have to worry about two kinds: Metal and crystal. As you can see, we have two of the former and one of the latter here.” Kostura offers a mental nod, wishing he had, you know, a pen or something. “Those aren’t being mined at all right now, so we’ll have to rectify that.”

“You said we needed to pay upkeep for the ships we build?”

“Yes, for expendables such as fuel. Even if we have the funds, we’re still limited to what our planetary base will support. Research will let us maintain a more sizable fleet, but that will of course cost more. Logistics also limits what we can build in orbit around Adelheid and other planets. We’ll need to construct on the planet below in order to sustain structures.” Kostura wonders vaguely whether his eyes will glaze over when he snaps back to real-time.

“If we need credits or minerals quickly, I’ve established a link to black market traders who will sell us materials at the going rate or buy them cheaply. We can also place metal or crystal on the market and sell it through slower channels, but we are in something of a hurry, after all.” She shrugs apologetically, as if to say, I’m sorry I was only able to tap the resources of a vast criminal network in an effort to save your people. He nods sympathetically. Well, he tries.

“I believe that is all for the time being. You should start by setting up extractors on our asteroids and ordering the production of a few scout frigates. Knowledge of what lies nearby is crucial. In the meantime, I will be micromanaging something a good deal more taxing.” She pauses to lament the second terrible pun of the day before determinedly ignoring it. “Let me know if you need any help.” The light making up her form abruptly ceases to be. Kostura flips the switch in his head and immediately slams his chin into his own chest. A quiet giggle leaks out of one of the room’s speakers before she mutes it.

Stupid sympathetic nods.

Okay, so there goes a big mechanic dump. Here's the shortened version.

Resources are credits, metal, and crystal. Credits come from planets; you get more from having more citizens to tax and get less for ship upkeep and underdeveloped planets. Metal and crystal are harvested from asteroids. Generally, crystal is the rarer of the two. We can buy them at high prices from the black market if we need them quickly.

The number of ships we can have at once is limited by our supply. Right now it stands at 100 points. Research lets us increase our supply at the cost of a portion of incoming tax money. Likewise, structures we build in orbit around a planet are limited by our tactical and logistics slots, which we can upgrade with money and materials.

Researching technologies requires labs, which we build in orbit around planets. Each technology requires a certain number of labs, either military or imperial, before we can research it. Even then, it takes money, materials, and time.

We need to research most ship designs before we can build them. Right now we have a grand total of three: A scout ship, a light battle frigate, and a colony ship.

At the moment I've done exactly what Kostura's done. There are two scout ships in production and three extractors being built on our asteroids. Nothing more, nothing less.

Next update (hopefully a lot sooner!), I'll build a lab or two so we can talk technology. A scout ship should be done by then, so we can learn about space travel as well.

Edit: Resized the screenshots so they don't stretch the screen.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2011, 02:04:13 PM by Bozwevial » Logged

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