A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

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WingSounds
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A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Wed Oct 17, 2018 1:50 am

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Civiliszation is a pretty common series mentioned when people mention 4X games - those strategy offerings where you take a polity, expand it, sign diplomatic pacts and trade missions, and expand your land through force of arms. Often, those games take a veneer of history, and are all good strategic fun - my personal favourite being III.

Less mentioned, despite being jaw-droppingly popular for a mayfly moment in the life of libraries and computer halls, is Alpha Centauri, also known as Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, more accurately known as Brian Reynolds' Alpha Centauri, and even more accurately a labour of love that I have a hard time trying to describe objectively here.

Our story begins in the year 206X.

Please watch this one; if it's the only video you watch, I'll be content.


(It isn't mine, alas! The video files even come with the game, but I cannot convert them into a playable format..? Recommended videos may contain spoilers. Working on it...)

LP qualities/'rules' will be introduced in a post with the old survey, as well as serving as a table of contents.

Across the seas of darkness, the good green Earth is bright;
Oh, Star that was my homeland, shine down on me tonight.
My heart turns home in longing, across the voids between - to know beyond the spaceways, the hills of Earth are green.

- Moore, Kuttner, Heinlein; The Green Hills of Earth, Datalinks.**

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François
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby François » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:36 am

Alright, I'll play your game you rogue.

Regarding image hosting, the host I've been using is only for somethingawful members, so it's not exactly free. But I hear decent things about imgur.com. You can get a free account to keep track of your uploads, and the galleries of high-res screenshots I made for Nocturne are still around, so it looks like they've got longevity. As for video and music, it's hard to go wrong with youtube. You can't just upload straight music files to youtube, as far as I know but what I did for the Dragon Warrior soundtracks was to make a simple video with a static picture of the game's box art, and that seems to do the job.

Aaaanyway, let's see about those "datanetics" then.

Q1
Hafta go with a rural estate here. Can't have too many people nearby, but can't be too far from civilization either.

Q2
Practical knowledge, survival and repairs and such. Everything else is nice but culture is useless to the dead.

Q3
Providing guidance to the frightened. Busy folk with goals ain't got time to freak out.

Q4
Going with exploration. We have to look to the future and avoid nasty surprises.

Q5
I'll go with the talented and civic-minded idealists. Culture will happen no matter what, and knowledge can be rediscovered, but in our situation, we need to build right, and quickly.

Q6
That's quite a spread, but let's say, Hypatia. Seems to have had a good head on her shoulders.

Q7
Of course. You gotta.

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nosimpleway
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby nosimpleway » Wed Oct 17, 2018 8:47 am

OBS for video capture, Irfanview for screenshot capture. YouTube hasn't let me down personally for video hosting, and for image hosting I use... a swanky brontoforum.us webspace. Talk to Lady.

After my last private webhost dicked me over and broke all the images in all my Fossilized LPs, I figured if my next host goes down it might as well happen at the same time the forums that have all the LP threads also goes down. So here we are.

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Grath
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby Grath » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:36 am

Question One: You are in need of shelter. Which shelter is most ideal? A balanced distance between the countryside and the city.

Question Two: Upon setting out for your new home, you are told that you can bring several books with you. Which books are most ideal? Scientific texts; to better preserve the knowledge we are forced to leave behind.

Question Three: Having arrived, nothing is as you planned and you must quickly re-establish yourself. What is most important? Defending ourselves from further unknown setbacks.

Question Four: Once the initial confusion has settled, you are asked to pursue a goal. Of the four, which is most ideal? Strength. Despite our weakened position, there are many who would do us harm. We must defend ourselves against all such threats.

Question Five: Upon your journey, you will be paired with like-minded individuals. Of the below, whom do you find most ideal? Architects, engineers, and urban planners. People with goals that may stretch beyond their life time, and a desire to see them done.

Question Six: Of the below, who do you take the most inspiration from? R. A. Heinlein.

Question Seven: Do you believe in the success of this mission? Nope.

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beatbandito
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby beatbandito » Wed Oct 17, 2018 12:20 pm

Question One:
Some undiscovered corner of the world.

Question Two:
Practical knowledge; survival manuals, repair and craftworks, how-to guides.

Question Three:
Surveying and understanding our surroundings.

Question Four:
Strength/Exploration, we need to find and punch new and interesting things out here

Question Five:
Conservationists, field researchers, and journalists. Those with passion, but also the commitment to making something of it.

Question Six:
those sure were some names of probably people

Question Seven:
I believe in my survival, the mission is second-tier
Image

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WingSounds
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby WingSounds » Wed Oct 17, 2018 10:31 pm

Oh, wow, feedback already, I'm really excited... I kind of want to start early, but it's probably for the best I haven't. I might rely on video captures of the videos have taken, as my attempts to capture videos in-game are all washed out, even if I run at 16-bit colour. That's not a huge loss though, as - well.

François wrote:A whole bunch of useful info!


Thanks, this'll be a huge help. I've had good luck with imgur in the past, too, I never thought to realise they'd be useful for an LP!
And I think I've got a pretty good idea for audio files, but the way the game in question structures audio means that music files might be a bit unique.

Thank you for doing your duty and returning your survey. It seems you are a strong and self-sufficient individual who nevertheless got on well with your assigned partners and colleagues.

nosimpleway wrote:Also a bunch of useful info!


Tak tak! Irfanview has been my go-to for viewing images forages, it can capture them? Dang, that'll make this even easier. I'll try OBS, too; my current attempts at video-capture have been crummy and while videos will likely be a smaller part of this one, and I'm not opposed to using pre-captured videos... I wouldn't mind being able to do it on my own, or at least learn what's causing mine to come out like neon pastel barf.

And I'll talk to Lady! Thanks!

Grath wrote:Survey filled.


Thank you for doing your duty and returning your survey. It seems you are a strong and self-sufficient individual who nevertheless is capable of putting aside personal concerns to pursue difficult or hard-to-perceive projects.

beatbandito wrote:Survey filled.


Thank you for doing your duty
Thank you for doing
Thank you
Thank

THANKTHANKTHANKTHANK

It seems you are a capable loner who prefers to experiment and who nevertheless has a strong tendency to push the limits and see what's possible with the tools you're given.

I weighted those answers for a certain end result, since they fit well with the tone of some in-game stuff.

From what we have so far, the results are overwhelmingly leaning towards a certain style; and, fortunately, it's another one that is not favoured, and therefore I'll probably be embracing democracy, as I wanted to showcase at least one such ignored style - if not my favourite. Also, not at all what I expected, and I'm kind of pleased!

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nosimpleway
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby nosimpleway » Wed Oct 17, 2018 11:22 pm

Irfanview Options menu has a "capture screenshot" menu where you can set the hotkey to take a screenshot, the file naming convention for your shots, and what directory to dump them all in.

Normally I take just a damn shitton of screenshots, drop them into a subdirectory to do cropping or whatever. The conversion dumps the finished image into another other subfolder to drop into an FTP client.

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WingSounds
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play...

Postby WingSounds » Thu Oct 18, 2018 2:03 am

Perfect, that makes this SO much easier. I've dealt myself a few test ones to make sure I don't get into a situation where you're all waiting on me. I've still a few quirks to work out, but that's part of the fun. (Also, I'm going to be reading your Windseal playthrough next! I kind of feel spoiled, being able to go through so much content that's new to me, but - I'd like to say again how nice it is to have so much great stuff to read!)

One last question; regarding canon, in-game characters, I was thinking of doing cropped image icons, as is pretty standard. I'm not sure what to do about non-canon characters. Icons, but with just a name or something? That seems boring, hrmn... I'll mull it over. Again: thanks!

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:31 pm

Table of Contents:

Preamble

Table of Contents and Rules (you are here!)

Episode I.I
Episode I.II

~ Errata ~

Errata I - Sparta, Santiago, Gameplay Essentials

LP Guide:

Rather than just be an LP, it might be best to think of this as a narrative showcase, or even a visual novel. You will be able to leave messages, on this bulletin board, and have them influence things as if they were left on an in-game BBS, of sorts! I can't promise a great deal of integration, but I want to create the illusion that the world you see is more real than real - or however that goes.

But of course, you're also free to just chat idly, comment about numbers/units, or anything you please. All I ask is that any of you familiar with the game don't spoil too much for the new eyes amongst us!

Not that participation is strictly limited to getting in character; more options will unfold as the LP goes on. I also want to say that you're free not to participate, too!.. If you prefer to read, in the quiet, then you're just as welcome.

There will be snippets of text presented as selections from the Datalinks, or attributed to certain characters. If these have no asterisk, they are from the game itself. One asterisk denotes my crummy attempts at flavour text. Two denotes real examples from the waking world, sourced if you're interested!

Finally, the LP may contain elements that are violent, or cruel reference violence, language, and mature themes. I'll be aiming to keep the LP itself no more than a PG-13, at most, but I do want to let readers know in advance.

Updates will generally come in 'pairs' - an in-game update showing what's happened, and an 'extra' update where I'll talk about matters.
If you see me updating, I'd prefer if you avoided commenting until you see the phrase XENOPHON SPEAKS scrolling by in the marquee. It makes organising a bit easier for me. Uh, but what happens if you break the rule..?

Nothing! I shall merely cry, and my tears... Are oh-so-salty...

___ Original Survey ___

... The subject'll be edited to reveal the title on the weekend.

Hey, all. I really like the feel of this place. Hopefully, I'm not wearing out my welcome.
I decided on a whim to try to do this, and was wracking my brain around something that I could, for sure, finish, and something that hadn't been done.

When it hit me, I was grinning like an idiot - so here's the start of the much-beloved audience participation!

Included below is a survey; answer it as freely as you like, because I'm a tyrant at heart and may disregard the answers in favour of 'narrative,' whatever malarkey that is. If my obvious posturing gives the name of the game away, please don't reveal it. In general, if there's even one person going in blind, I want this to be a magical experience for them, maybe even enough to pick up a real charmer.

Regarding images, music + video hosting, any advice would be cherished; and I hope that I may entertain you.
Survey below, and I might make it an image later for reasons of 'immersion'- another, finer kind of malarkey that I am deadly fond of. More info will be provided on the weekend, and I imagine I'll be updating thus, too.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

TESTING . . .
RECEIVING DIGITAL SIGNATURE . . .
IDENTIFICATION . . . OK! AUTHENTICATION. . . OK!

Thank you for choosing Morgan Emergent Datanetics!

You have been selected to participate in a small user-feedback survey accompanying your candidacy selection. MED is obligated to inform you that no feedback will be held against you, or your candidacy status, which have already been determined. This survey is an optional compliment to the official feedback forms you have previously supplied.

Question One:

You are in need of shelter. Which shelter is most ideal?

  • The city, where everything you could possibly dream of is in reach.
  • The city, dotted between suburbs, green zones, and revitalised areas.
  • Within reach of the city, because that is where the people who need you will be.
  • A balanced distance between the countryside and the city.
  • A rural estate, pastoral, austere, and self-sufficient.
  • The countryside; an unspoiled forest or wetland or wild place.
  • Some undiscovered corner of the world.

Question Two:

Upon setting out for your new home, you are told that you can bring several books with you. Which books are most ideal?

  • The classics; Aristotle, Xunzi, Hobbes.
  • The classics; Zhuangzhi, Erasmus, Rumi.
  • Practical knowledge; survival manuals, repair and craftworks, how-to guides.
  • Practical knowledge; energy conservation and supply, closed-systems theory, and ecological texts.
  • Cultural texts; works that will inspire a greater purpose and unity.
  • Scientific texts; to better preserve the knowledge we are forced to leave behind.
  • Luxuries; culture, humour, art, pornography, satire, and all the things so easily forgotten.

Question Three:

Having arrived, nothing is as you planned and you must quickly re-establish yourself. What is most important?

  • Building consensus amongst your peers.
  • A strong leader, to provide stability.
  • Surveying and understanding our surroundings.
  • Providing guidance to those who are frightened.
  • Making sure people are comfortable, and preventing panic.
  • Defending ourselves from further unknown setbacks.
  • Taking care to appraise and avoid harming this area, and our chances, in the chaos of arrival.

Question Four:

Once the initial confusion has settled, you are asked to pursue a goal. Of the four, which is most ideal?

  • Exploration. We can only grow with our new home, and not against it. Understanding it is of utmost importance.
  • Industry. Human behaviour is economic behaviour, and without that incentive, we will remain at the whims of fate.
  • Strength. Despite our weakened position, there are many who would do us harm. We must defend ourselves against all such threats.
  • Discovery. Internal or external, the flow of information was severed. No longer can we ignore the pursuit of knowledge.
  • Strength/Industry. To build a truly ideal society, we must grow as a tree; trimming the dangerous branches when they grow too tall.
  • Strength/Discovery. We have been gifted with free will; but we must guard ourselves against tempting ideas which might poison us.
  • Exploration/Discovery. If we cannot nurture a populace that values free thought, we have failed our society before it has even began.

Question Five:

Upon your journey, you will be paired with like-minded individuals. Of the below, whom do you find most ideal?

  • Talented and civic-minded idealists, nevertheless willing to do what it takes to create a better future than the one left behind.
  • Architects, engineers, and urban planners. People with goals that may stretch beyond their life time, and a desire to see them done.
  • Soldiers, astronauts, and career civil servants. People who've proven themselves to be capable, reliable, and cool under pressure.
  • Cultural figures and people of importance. The masses and the powerful alike must have leisure, and heroes to look up to.
  • Conservationists, field researchers, and journalists. Those with passion, but also the commitment to making something of it.
  • Poets, philosophers, and religious figures. Anyone who can be a teacher, mentor, or guide in these troubled times.
  • Specialist scientists and professionals. Dedicated and specific training, years of knowledge - that cannot be lost to a new dark age.

Question Six:

Of the below, who do you take the most inspiration from?

  • Mansa Musa; alternately, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In fact; why not both?
  • Guru Granth Sahib.
  • Rachel Carson.
  • Hypatia.
  • Julian of Norwich.
  • R. A. Heinlein.
  • Klemens von Metternich.

Question Seven:

Do you believe in the success of this mission?

Thank you for choosing Morgan Emergent Datanetics!

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WingSounds
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:14 am

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Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden. He drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden - Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. - The Conclave Bible, Datalinks.

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Earth, 2060. A small group of colonists leaves the ravages of Earth, for a distant planet orbiting Alpha Centauri's primary star.

Image

Their ship, the United Nations starship 'Unity' carries them on their journey to a new world, and a new hope for humankind.

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Along the way, a reactor malfunction damages the Unity, precipitating a crisis among the ship's seven most powerful leaders.

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Deidre Skye, the top candidate for the mission's Xenobotany and Agricultural sectors, was first to note that there simply were not enough supplies for all souls aboard the Unity; and that in the event of an early Planetfall, understanding Planet and working it with it, rather than attempting to repeat the mistakes of Earth, would be vital to ensuring the success of the mission.

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The mission's Security Chief, Sheng-ji Yang, opposed this break with mission doctrine, but refused to commit to any particular argument, arguing that no real decisions could be made until Planetfall had occurred. As word arrived that the mission's Captain, Garland, had been found dead, these statements took on a sinister bent, which Yang made no attempt to refute.

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Frustrated by what he say as 'needless, pointless bickering', the Chief Science Officer, Prokhor Zakharov, made it clear that the survival of the entire crew was 'of negligible importance... compared to the ability to preserve a list of scientific personnel of key value'; a list, which, coincidentally contained many crewmembers loyal to Zakharov.

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As the discussion grew more heated, a sarcastic sigh was the only warning that Nwabudike Morgan, the mission's sole financier, had left and been the first to jettison to Planet's surface. News that he - and his followers - had taken their leave without any warning sent panic and anger through the ship, with those crewmembers awake degenerating into arguments - and even fights.

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It was at this point that Pravin Lal, the mission's surgical head, came up with a compromise; all of the crew would divide themselves amongst the five factions which had formed so far, with an equal share of resources, supply, and technical support staff between them. Grudgingly, the other leaders agreed; though it was clear there would not be enough shuttles to save every colonist...

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With the remaining crewmembers realising they had been abandoned to die, it was the dissent of Miriam Godwinson, the Unity Psych Officer, that formulated a 'sixth' faction, consisting of those remaining. Scavenging what they could, they left under the assurances of food, shelter, and the dream that Planet, after so much tribulation, might yet be their Promised Land...

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But this is not their story. Disillusioned security officers under the command of Corazon Santiago defected from the ranks of the other factions, believing the petty struggles and far-reaching plans dreamt of by their leaders would only distract from the one goal, the only goal - Survival, survival at all costs. And so...

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As they enter the Alpha Centauri system, the crew splits into seven distinct factions; divided not by nationality, but by ideology... And their vision for the new world. After the ship breaks apart, the seven leaders guide their chosen down to the surface of planet, seeking their destiny beneath an alien sky...

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:39 am

Common Era, 2100. Planetfall.

It would be poetic to say that the address occurred in some torrential downpour, a struggle against Nature in all her splendour.
Unfortunately, like all of the events of those first days, it was in the same claustrophobic passageways we'd been packed in 'til then.
The only scent I can remember is all the snap-booted security people around me, sweating and trying to look emotionless.
But through the unshuttered viewports, all the orange-red glow of Planet cut through, and there was some poetry in that.
- Mack Corman; Memoirs of a Civil Servant, Datalinks.*

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She didn't particularly care for speeches.
They had fought, and triumphed, and the lesson was that it was because of luck.
You couldn't count on a roll of the dice.

"Congratulations. To our knowledge, you are the first children of an alien world to set foot on a new Planet."

Her tone made it clear that it was not something to celebrate.

"So let us not focus on the one we've left behind, but our immediate priorities."

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"Already, we have reconfigured some of the research rovers for combat purposes. Assuming that the other factionleaders have survived, we must also assume they covet the resources we possess, our land, and our labour."

No uneasy whispers went up amongst the crowd, because even those who held no desire for combat within them knew it to be true. The Unity was a dead mission; an attempt to carry civil society was the last failed gasp of Earth, and if humanity was to survive, it would do so under the recognition that humanity's worst enemy, and perhaps it's only enemy... Was humanity.

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"Our first priority is to make sure that families and the infirm are secure, followed by making sure that they can tend to hydroponics bays and all the duties that will keep us in supply. Your priority is to find new lands, understand what environment we have found ourselves on, and figure out how we can best make use of it."

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Expansion, it would soon be proved, was quick, and the previously used cycle of the common era a mistake; Planet's yearly cycle was perhaps a third of old Earth, leading to the standard of the standard S. L; Since Landing. In the haste to flee the Unity, many of the advanced hydroponics installations had scattered, as had other useful components. Thankfully, one such installation was located close to the pre-fab megaplex of Sparta Command, and soon became invaluable in providing nutrients to the fledgling colony.

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The shouts of COLONEL! still rang in her ears long after the commencement speech had been given.
It had not been inspiring; there was no need to inspire when the alternative was death.

A 'war room' had been established, the digital planning tables and old-fashioned plotting cards seemingly a mess of old Earth technology. Not only had they lost many of the advances made in the last hundred years, but there were plenty that simply did not apply to Planet; but not all the news had been bad.

Smiling thinly, Santiago tapped at her braid.

Nearby, an almost perfect natural chokepoint had been discovered amidst the blue-white seas of Planet. Grunts had taken to calling it Planetneck, or the Neck. Given the largely rolling alien muck and silt that seemed to cover most of Planet's surface, useless and unfarmable save for sparse clumps of green lichen not dissimilar from Terran moss, a defensive position was a welcome surprise.

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To the northeast, however, the terrain rose abruptly rocky and mountainous - and occasionally graced with torrential downpours that the science cadre hazarded were largely methane. It served as a shield or natural bulwark from the last, and most defensible feature of Planet, potentially - endless forests of moss that ranged from burnt orange to hot pink to crimson as fire.

Moving through them was slow, but necessary. She had already sent teams armed with flamethrowers to see if the moss could be burnt; it could not. The moss receded, but did not burn, and 'reached' back to it's natural position hours, sometimes minutes, after contact. More advanced techniques would be necessary to tame this alien landscape...

But there was land beyond that moss, so the meagre population was split, and a colony APC sent to see about settling the moss, or beyond it's demesne.

She shut her eyes, and was lost to thought.

~

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"Godshit."

Material Sciences Officer Naima bint Nagi knew it wasn't her best finisher, but the news the 'science cadre' - a group of deputised soldiers who'd maybe read some textbooks in-between jobs at whatever Private Contract job they'd been floating - brought back was, well, Godshit.

Everything was gone. Burnt up. Done. Toast.

Due to 'concerns', the security team would only let science and agricultural staff members walk outside the prefabs in shifts, while escorted by guards. And since nobody had seen any sign of any of the other factions, let alone any other humans, it seemed like handicapping themselves without any real purpose.

She'd thought she'd had a secret weapon; an authorised chit from the Colonel herself.
But something had spooked the guy on watch - probably just lack of acclimation to the high howls of wind on Planet.
Which meant - okay. Fine. Focus on the here, the now. What was real.

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The news she'd decided to focus on weapons development and logistics, where possible, made Naima the most popular girl in Sparta Command - for about five minutes, before everyone went dourly back to their duties. Subsistence wasn't fun, but what could you do? The loss of the hydro bays had hurt everyone; the little growing facilities they had indoors were... Poor, and without better understanding of Planet's ecology, focusing on that was a waste of time.

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Colonel Santiago had taken to calling their little freehold the "Spartans." Naima felt it was a bit too laconic, but the grunts seemed to like it, which was good enough. Despite the focus on duty, people were holding up well; the focus on immediate survival was reassuring the colonists that this temporary bump in the plan would be just that.

Similarly, with every newly-trained division, the populace was a little calmer and more productive. The only downside was that the budget had a section cordoned off for military provisions, and though it didn't impact science too much (Santiago was remarkably clear-sighted about the future), construction and development had to frequently work with secondhand materials, diverted from the military-scientific-agricultural complex.

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The boundaries of Spartan 'territory' became apparent soon enough, with the primitive radio/telemetry equipment they were using crackling out, muffled by all the lovely noise of Planet. She filed it away for something to fix, when the muffled roar of boots on plastic turned her from her research.

"The hell? Pound the ground outside, guys. Not here."

A young woman, maybe ten years younger than her, fresh-faced and ruddy-cheeked, frowned from underneath the salvaged Unity Security helmet she wore, the symbol scarred off.

"Haven't you heard, egghead? Our rover found some old Unity equipment, went to investigate. There's more of that fungus now, as far as the eye can see."

~

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Planet was beautiful. Maybe it was weird for an infantryman to say that, but man, it was.

Guy Blanchard had covered the inside of his recon rover with pictures of old Earth; the huge industrial towers rising out of the high seas, rich with plastic, his old haunt in the drowned Chicago Free State, and one of that sweet lil' lady he'd met at New Sandwich Isles.

He often wondered if she'd made it, but - the past was dead.

Sighing, he checked the readouts from the rover, and felt glad he had more good news to give the squad back home. Family was an alien notion to a man like him, a free spirit, a rebel, a loner -

(And in the comfortable metal coffin of the rover, he laughed at himself, a little)

- but it was a mistake to think he didn't care about the rest of them, struggling to keep the base alive. That's why he'd volunteered for recon, alone in this desolate waste. Oh, there were 'animals' out there, in the same you might look at fossils and recognise as them as being 'vaguely related to Earth life.'

It was good the atmosphere was lethal; he had no desire to leave this thing. And salvaged energy from the Unity stores was something nobody else could used against them, so...

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The real prize was something the colony squad had found, though. They claimed it was an alien artifact. Not the little green men kind of alien, either.

(He stopped, scratched his stubble. Wished desperately for a cigarette.)

But alien. Unknowable, like it had been crafted or barfed up from the fungus fully formed. Regardless of the what and how, it might provide a competitive advantage - so it'd be studied, analysed, and hopefully useful.

None of it was pivotal, though. This world might as well have been a tomb, too; empty.
Lifeless.

~

THEY WERE NOT ALONE.

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Outside of the viewports, soon shielded from view, a teeming throng of people had gathered.
As the slow treads of the colony vehicle forced their way through the endlessly difficult waves of fungi, something had ached at the back of their minds.

A sense of dread, or fear, or longing.

Beyond the vision of the humans inside, there were long, tapering shapes, crawling over one another.
If they made sound, none could be heard inside the air-conditioned and muted vehicle interior.
The colony cruisers soon passed them by, and the feeling of excited nausea fled.

For, if Planet held any lifeforms at all, it seemed they were docile - and harmless.

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Ironholm was the name chosen by Citizen Democracy; it was an unflattering name, for an unflattering settlement of metal and scrap, thrown up against the coast.

But it was a settlement, and with it's foundation, the 'Spartan' settlers grew more hopeful.

~

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Naima felt incredibly pleased as she presented the report to the straight-backed and spit-shined bastards in front of her. Their grim approval was a validation of her team and all their hard work. Although new weapons were off the menu - for now - they'd discovered something even more valuable, through blind luck.

Integrating Planet's metallurgical properties into their own armour was one thing; but establish what deposits of which minerals were good for energy production was an incredible boon for the thin-stretched Spartan industry. The only question, of course, was whether to try to build a national energy grid, a project that might take sufficient time and treasure...

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But hey, she wasn't the sort of person to waste time thinking that far ahead. It was back to the drawing board, because one step forward meant, well - you better keep walking. The only question was, should the spearhead of Spartan research keep it's focus on direct applications, or broaden into more multi-disciplinary fields..?

None of that mattered right now, though. Her brainchild, her son of wire and late-night, caffeine-clogged labour, was online.

~

Xenophon speaks.

Popular topics of the day:

  • Today, I fucked up by trying to hit on my second in a recon rover...
  • Higher security, higher pay - higher responsbility. Enlist in the Synthmetal Security Forces today!
  • Is it possible to fix a HP bay if Planetwater got in?

Duty, the finest of all qualities, is fed by loyalty, tempered by kindness, and earned through ambition.

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby François » Sat Oct 20, 2018 12:09 pm

Oof, someone put Santiago in charge, most likely herself; there goes the neighborhood. I wish my buddies had told me what I was getting into before the last hatches were sealed. I wanted to join up with survivors, but it looks like my lot is thrown with quote unquote survivalists instead. Hopefully those aren't as diametrically opposed as I suspect.

Welp, no one's getting dealt the cards they want these days, so better make the best of it. That would usually include not shooting everything that moves, but seeing the proclivities of this particular bunch of bold explorers, we're going to have to play to our strengths, and it looks like that means a lot of perforated vital organs. With any luck, they won't be ours. Or mine.

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:02 am

Errata Update I: Planet is a Harsh Mistress

So, who are these 'Spartans', anyway? And what'd all those numbers mean?
Fear not. WingSounds shall tell you. But first, our Colonel.

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Ignore the fact that somehow, the mysterious gods of editing have capriciously removed some info, there. The very first image you'll get upon meeting Santiago is that she really, really, really likes her weapons. And if you've been listening to the voice samples, you've probably got a pretty good image of her in your head. Vasquez and Johnny Rico had a kid stripped of all nuance, who's gonna kick ass and chew bubblegum, right?

... Perhaps.

You get an introductory message from every faction leader you meet. This generally consists of a blurb, a reference to a strongly held belief, and that's it.

More interesting is what's going on in the lower left. A bioscan, changing for male and female, but more importantly a small collage of pictures. My attempts to giffinate it failed, so marvel at this incredible graphic design. (Without further commentary.)

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The order goes from left to right, top to bottom, in what seems to be the intended order. Make of it what you will.
Also included is a shiny Spartan emblem! Wear it proudly... Or don't...
... You're all covert Gaians aren't you? Don't worry, as for me, I'm...

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There's also supplementary material, here, in the form of a 'psych evaluation' for the crew. Copying the relevant data for those uninterested in wayback machine shenanigans...

Service Record:
Born 2026, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Family emigrated to Mexico City; orphaned during East Side Riots of 2034. Joined survivalist gang known as Jade Falcons; remained in city with younger siblings for several years more (exact whereabouts unknown). Later appeared in Boyce Heights, New Los Angeles, alone. Joined NLA Red Panthers (community security force), then moved on to join City Guard; distinguished self as Battalion Commander as city imposed martial law in 2050. Joined U.N. Security Force in 2053; excellent discipline, physical agility and ability to thrive in any environment led to selection as part of security force, U.N. Alpha Centauri Mission.

Psych Profile: Survivalist
Subject possesses strong discipline and ability to suppress own needs and comforts for greater goal. Physical skills and abilities top-notch; subject shows great pride in physical conditioning and disdains weakness. Mental agility and will to survive are superior; highly tenacious.

Possible danger of explosive physical violence with subject due to deep wounds suffered as a child, but subject's exemplary ability to control and channel these responses has made her a model soldier.

In spite of reservations, subject comes with exemplary references, and subject's unshakable will to survive could prove beneficial in difficult missions. Recommend subordinate position in security force.

Quite an interesting life.

But in closing, my own thoughts. I value Santiago's fierce independence, her many victories over challenges, significant and secondary. Her somewhat dry wit, and other qualities that may become apparent as we play more, her indomitable spirit, and her faction's commitment to peace, if not peace through strength.

Of course, she is not my favourite faction leader. That belongs to another. But I do love her...

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Finally, before we delve into numbers, let's take a look at how our society looks - at game start. One of the many ways Alpha Centauri draws you in is that there are many ways for your faction's story to unfold. But at the bare minimum, we can see that our commitment to self-defence inspires our people, and we have no shortage of volunteers. It is entirely possible to reach a point where our soldiers are our sole happiness-booster, or at least the most important one for our society.

The slight industry penalty hurts, especially in regards to Secret Projects, this game's equivalent of Wonders: things so incredible that the effort they represent, the implementation, or the prize of being the first to spearhead them all give that civilisation a powerful advantage. It's not unbeatable though, especially when combined with a unique faction trait...

Prototypes, aka newly designed units, do not require extra minerals costs. This is minor in the long run, but huge when we're trying to quickly get something off the press to aid in a (no-doubt defensive) war. In addition, this is not limited to our military units. If we want to go wild with fast colonisers, or other civilian units, we can!

Finally, the Spartan martial ethos prizes austerity in all things. That doesn't mean Spartans don't have fun; but the idea of pursuing wealth for the sake of wealth makes the Colonel vomit. You wouldn't want to make the Colonel vomit, would you? You, you would, what kind of readers am I dealing with, here...

Now, let's talk about what some of these numbers mean.

I'm not really a maths person, but I think that a lot of players love the gameplay as much as the story, if not more. I'm the opposite, but I don't dislike gameplay; quite the contrary. And, though I may not be a maths wizard, I can interpret and divine the results. So, without further rambling!..

Alpha Centauri is a 'civilisation-like'; in many ways it is the bridge between civilisation II and III.

You settle a 'colony' - a city - on a tile of land. One that is not too rocky to be inhabitable, nor the open sea...
That would be a bridge too far, wouldn't it?..

Each 'tile' within the radius of your city can be worked, but only if the city has population to spare. Population grows from the nutrients you can provide - and there is a limit on how many resources a square can provide until certain technologies are researched.

Nutrients are green, and arguably the most important early-game resource; the more population you have, the more you can produce, the more you can do. Eventually, you may choose to specialise colonies, or prevent further growth. But rarely will more green be an unpleasant sight.

Rain-soaked areas, areas with algae growth, and farms are all nutrient-rich. Potentially, other terrain may be altered to further grow nutrients.

Minerals are blue, and my favourite resource because the sight of factories rolling off building after building is immensely satisfying. Unlike other resources, though, they favour rocky, mountainous terrain. The more difficult terrain is to settle, the more likely it is to house Planet's bounty. You want these, but maybe not too many. Focusing solely on production can stifle growth, after all, and who would want to do something so foolish...

Rocky areas, mountain terrain, deep vents and renders in the earth house precious minerals. Altering terrain to acquire more is usually a multi-step endeavor, drastically reshaping the map, and - potentially - the watershed.

Energy is yellow, like gold and the sun. It is fitting that the final currency of humanity is energy, no? I think so... But energy is not solely currency, but the associated cost. There are many flaws with a currency-as-energy-cost scheme, but I'm not here to bore you about economics; there are also many potential reasons such a scheme might be adopted, especially in an increasingly resource-independent society. It might help to think of energy not as wealth, but the ability to be above wealth. By producing more energy, you are essentially providing for more people simply by existing. That, itself, is worth a great deal of prestige... And also liable to induce dangerous amounts of pride...

High areas with good sun cover are ideal for solar collectors; similarly, flat ground with wide wind cover, or certain natural resources and formations. Many terrain can be made more energy-efficient, and efficiency helps conserve energy lost in transactions.
Which leads us to...

Societal effects:

The are as follows - Economy, Efficiency, Support, Morale, Police, Growth, Planet, Probe, Industry, and Research.

Economy is the health of your society's economy. It is generally hard for non-Morganite's to raise, because it provides significant advantages. An economy rating of +2 means you will receive an additional energy in every tile you work - for the relative ease to reach, that's incredibly tempting. But tradeoffs in economy often involve hurting other areas - industry and planet, for example, or pretty much anything to do with the military.

It is the best societal trait because it affords you a great deal of flexibility. Energy has many uses, and you can never have enough.
It is the worst societal trait because that flexibility simultaneous pigeonholes you, and enemies who deprive you of trade pacts and energy-rich terrain may strangle your nation.

Efficiency is the 'logistics' of your economy, and perhaps how your society itself handles corruption, communications difficulty, and all the burdens of administration. A very important trait, the higher you can manage to raise it, the better your return on energy investments will be and the less energy you will waste on distance/corruption. Though this is simple, with low efficiency, you may not want to build new settlements or conquer land at all. Do not neglect it.

It is the best societal trait because it allows you to grow as wide as you please, because it frees up resources for other tasks, and - though it goes unnoticed - it is a thing that is vital for your people.
It is the worst societal trait because forgetting about it, even for a moment, can lead to near-useless bases, because the rise in inefficiency is sudden and steep, and because no one is ever thankful for it increasing. Grumble. Grumble.

Support is a very simple trait. The more support you have, the higher your 'soft' cap on units. This can be overcome by being ludicrously wealthy, but even then, troop costs add up. Unlike many traits, Support has a small effective cap of +3, but the effects are pretty significant. Four units - or base size - free per base. High support can essentially mean the difference between drowning in debt, or drowning the enemy in bodies. Combined with technology or traits that increase military prowess, and...

It is the best societal trait because it frees up resources for civil and economic concerns, allows you to maintain a large standing army in times of peace, and also because recreating WWI is more fun than it has any right to be.
It is the worst societal trait because going negative means that new bases no longer receive minerals as a 'support' bonus; because it instills confidence that may not meet reality - and because you still have to produce and arm the units so, er, supported.

Morale is a trait that is in a lot of strategy games. Higher morale means better damage and resistance to damage; you want it. Morale works uniquely in Alpha Centauri; the bonuses for defensive combat are raised first, with bonuses for on-the-move combat coming second. More incentive to raise your morale as quick as you can!

It is the best societal trait because it is an instant improvement in all units, without cost or invalidation by technology or time.
It is the worst societal trait because technology and wealth can overcome that gap, and certain units are not effected by morale.

Police might be better thought of as 'internal security' and your societies' openness to that concept. Rather than make your society peaceniks if the value falls low, they crave more police presence and become DANGEROUSLY ANGRY if you move troops produced at that base away from home. High support and low police traits are a potentially painful combo. High police, however, essentially makes garrisoned units happiness factories - which is fantastic.

It is the best societal trait because it provides a source of happiness that does not depend on terrain, technology, secret projects, or workers/population.
It is the worst societal trait because neglecting it is a very foolish and because it may make you overconfident in your baseline happiness, leading to a spotty network of happiness where there are gaps in your garrisons.

Growth is when, uh, I do not have to explain this to you, do I... Let me say, growth is all about when your people, er... It's how many people are peopling your places. If you can get the value to +6, something really amazing happens! That's a bit tricky without individual city modifiers, but quite worth it. When the value is exceptionally low, it is very difficult to raise new citizens. Don't let it go that low.

It is the best societal trait because you will always need new workers, new engineers, new scientists, new therapists, new labourers, new soldiers, and so on and so forth.
It is the worst societal trait because over-reliance on growth is what doomed the old world, and bringing new life into a doomed existence is terribly cruel.

Planet has many modifiers. We will discuss them at a later date.

It is my favourite trait.

Probe is... Stop giggling, please... Probing is... It's espionage! Call it espionage! Probing refers here to 'social warfare' where your people look for malcontents, the melancholic, and people who cannot stand the society they live in. For example, in a post right above this one, a discontented individual expressed grumbling over the state! Thankfully, Spartan society isn't a police state; if it were, who knows what might happen?..

High probing (sigh) allows you to do all sorts of sneaky things, from stealing tech and maps, to provoking riots and winning wars without firing a shot - or even preventing standard probe attacks from probing your perimeter! Low probing, however, can make the actions so expensive and inefficient as to be hardly worth the effort. Of note - probe teams run off morale, same as (but largely separate from) standard morale.

It is the best societal trait because (with enough energy to finance it) it is probably the most powerful tool in your arsenal, independent of military and technological strength.
It is the worst societal trait because it requires energy, setup, and frankly who even USES espionage, it's such a pain to get right in games, it's much more fun to just roll the enemy into dust with tanks, isn't it so...

Industry burns with all the fires of Ork and is a wondrous, terrifying thing. Spartan industry suffers lightly, but it's not so terrible. If we drop another notch or two, however... We will truly regret it. 10% increased cost is manageable. 20%? 30%? I'd rather not. And if, somehow, we manage to get local or national industry to a value of +5...

All industrial costs are halved for us, nationally or base-wise. That is precisely as wonderful as it sounds.

It is the best societal trait because it will burn and melt and incinerate everything around us. And we will make such wondrous things!
It is the worst societal trait because you will wish you had it when you've neglected it, and regret facing those with a strong industry.

Finally, Research is a simple axe. -5? -50% research times (oof!). +5? All research times - slashed in half. Almost every strategy gamer I know does their best to stack this trait, and with good reason, I suppose. Knowledge is a very appealing thing. But where does research end and knowledge began..?

It is the best societal trait because let's face it, all of you have probably played a 4X game, and lording over your embiggened brains is something all 4X players simply must do, at least once.
It is the worst societal trait because if you have, for example, a -2 penalty to it, then life is suffering.

Ah, I realise I threw a lot of info at you. Just a bit more.

Our current units are baseline 1-1 scouts, with offensive and defensive values of one. Because we are Sparta, we start with the ability to mass produce rover chassis - which move two squares to the infantryman's one. As we have just researched Industrial Base, we can produce Synthmetal as a defensive 'topper.' That would allow us to produce, for example, 1-2 infantrymen for defence, or 1-2 rovers for a fast-moving defensive 'wall.'

Would you like me to go into further details? Do let me know if this is all too much, ahahaha...
And now, back to the below.


Also, and I quoth:
François wrote:Wise words and probably accurate prognostication


Excellent, this is exactly what I hoped to see. I'll probably stick to updating on the weekends, and yet... Hrmn, I rather want to keep going...

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby Newbie » Mon Oct 22, 2018 2:18 pm

Just wanted to mention that SMAC is one of those games I've always had enough interest in to be curious about, but not enough to ever track down and play myself. I jumped on the Civ train with the expansions to V, so Alpha Centauri was only ever invoked as "that superior game from the Olden Days."
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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Tue Oct 23, 2018 7:30 am

Given the UI can really seem a bit much for people, feel free to play it vicariously through this. If you do, though, I definitely recommend listening to the audio links (are they obvious enough? too obtrusive?) for the whole experience. The atmosphere is an incredible factor for why it still holds up now, and I can say that - without nostalgia - I've played it on and off since it came out.

Anyway, if you've any questions, do feel free to ask them in the in-between in updates, or as they rise up. Even if your final thought is 'well, glad I didn't play that 'un' I'm glad to give it a bit of a wider audience!..

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby François » Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:27 pm

WingSounds wrote:Would you like me to go into further details? Do let me know if this is all too much, ahahaha...


I've played a butt-ton of AC a while back, but the mechanics are a blur in my memory by now and you've definitely put together a great refresher there. It's been just the right amount for me so far!

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:42 am

Thank you..! I'll probably be updating soon, I kind of wanted to give people the maximum amount of time to get hunkered in, as there was a lot to cover just in the info, but, uh...

François wrote:It's been just the right amount for me so far!


I'm truly happy to hear this. Naturally, if it changes, feel free to say!..

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sat Oct 27, 2018 2:43 pm

Since Landing, 214X.

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.
- Tacitus; Agricola, Datalinks.**

In the years since Planetfall, it had been largely assumed that the only threat to internal development was the hostile native environment.
But in the year 2114, everything changed in an instant.

Contact had been made.

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Although the mood around both Sparta Command and Ironholm was jubilant at the possibility of human contact, in private the high command bristled; for fear of conflict, conflict which the Spartans believed themselves almost unilaterally unprepared for.

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Tensions eased somewhat as the monitor revealed that the surviving frequency hailing Recon Rover Taskforce 5 was that of Pravin Lal; formerly chief medical officer, and now self-styled 'Brother' of the Peacekeepers. That meant a neighbour likely uninterested in conflict, and that meant that - for the moment - all was well.

But the gaze of Santiago towards the comms screen was quiet, and intense.

So silent was she that the assembled soldiers began to wonder if she had some ulterior plan... Or motive.

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Whether or not Santiago distrusted Lal was irrelevent, however; her thin smile at the comms monitor, invisible to the audio-only transmission beyond, indicated that for now, there would be peace; and if that peace were to hold, it would not bother her.
Cheering erupted amongst all the petty factions eager to further develop their own industries and technologies, and Santiago left the comms chamber, lost to thought.

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~

Back at Ironholm, Guy was awash with a hero's welcome.
What this meant in the austere halls of Ironholm, castoffs made of castoffs of the crashed ruins of the Unity, was that every other hotshot recong jockey around kept elbowing him and talking about how if he was so damn impressive, he'd get back out there and find something else.

An alien artifact! Sure.
It was probably just some weird planetary carbuncle, the kind that this human-hating hell of a world barfed up at the slightest provocation.

"Guy. Stop spacing off. You gonna fold?"

To his left, Thais had already put down her hand.
To his right, Erick kept smiling. Bad sign, that.

"I'll - "

The alarms blared, once more.

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By the time they'd all thrown on their combat fatigues and gotten out of the complex, news had hit the primitive network node, Xenophon; the battle was over. And it was a battle, and the reports were grim.

Image

While doing routine fungus charting duty, one of the far rovers had gone off course, stumbled over some kind of mound or earthen burrow in the thick of it. It'd coughed up spores, and the crew had laughed it off.

A while later, on the trip back, one had reported vision problems. Kept batting at his eyes.
Claimed he could still see spores.
Kept laughing.

The rover had found itself stuck, and when the second had disembarked to check on it, found that the ground was writhing with worms. Panic had set in, and he'd fled back into the vehicle to discover the pilot clutching at his eyes, screaming that they were 'in his head, that they were eating his fucking head.'

But they hadn't been; although near-catatonic when retrieved, the pilot was otherwise unharmed.
He perished not long after, with seemingly no cause besides intense mental and emotional trauma.

The worm boil? They'd been obliterated by frying them under the rover's anti-fungal flamethrowers, but just barely.

And when they'd been disposed of, researches found pure, pearlescent stones that proved to have a higher energy content than any fuel cell they knew of.

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Guy kept thinking about them, long after it seemed lie everyone else had stopped caring.
And the thing was, the little bastards were everywhere; you occasionally saw them drifting by on fungal 'islands' in the sea.
Completely unaware of their new neighbours, or at least - so it seemed.

"Jee-sus! Guy, are you fucking traum or what?"

Thais had followed him out. She never lost her cool, Thais. When she'd heard about the worms, she hadn't batted an eyelid.
He wondered if it was because she was more controlled, or better at hiding it - but it didn't really matter, in the end.
It was good to know his new second'd be reliable, probably...

"Nope, all clear. Just thinking about, uh..."

He tapped his wrist-mounted PDA. Some of the assholes in R&A claimed you could control worms using them, called it 'summoning the demon.' R&A, Guy noted, was full of fucking clowns.

"... This joker, right here. On Xenophon, posts about how we're all survivalist wackjobs. I mean, what kind of talk is that, right? It's gonna be the guns of Ironholm that tame the wilds of Planet, right?"

But to his surprise, Thais didn't smile, or laugh.

"... Yeah, I guess."

She looked as if she had more she wanted to say, but left - running her fingers through her near-perfect shave.
Guy made a note to be more candid next time; you didn't last long in a rover by keeping secrets.
... And honestly, these days - he had a few doubts, himself...

~

Xenophon was abuzz with comments like the rumination of the nameless conscript, however.
Despite the military ethos encouraged by the Colonel, it was important to remember that for every soldier, there were easily twelve to twenty-four civilians, drafted from cold-sleep caskets who'd only hoped they might land in a new, more peaceful era.

Santiago had not forgotten this.

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The so-called 'alien' artifact that had been found seemed to be a denser, more ancient variant of the Planetpearls created by what the science officers were calling 'Mindworms.' Unlike the Planetpearls, the artifacts were near-impossible to 'crack' into raw energy, at least at this juncture.

And, unlike the Planetpearls, they seemed to have a far more interesting use... As raw and valuable components for powering superstructures.

The very first such structure proposed had been a high-yield Planetary 'energy' grid, one designed to capture and monitor the flow of commerce from every angle of Planet.

Santiago hated the idea of it, hated it for all its decadent echoes of the old world.

But she read the networks, and saw the fears of her followers, their unhappiness and uncertainty, living next to each other in cramped barracks with only a minimal allotment of personal time to a colonist.

And, after all - if Lal had made it, then others likely had to - and if that meant Morgan was alive, he would use such a grid as a weapon.
Her dislike could be discarded; a potential weapon could not.

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Most interesting to her planning officers, however, were what appeared to be alien monoliths.
Despite the advanced construction of the structures, they still seemed grown, rather than carved. Waystones of hardened fungus shell and biofuel.

Those who spent time under the monoliths often felt as if they were 'sharing' the experiences of their peers, and learning at an incredibly enhanced rate. Although this hadn't been proven in battle, Santiago had prohibited further resting under the monoliths.
Because more important to the immediate concerns of her people - the people still in doubt about the protection she offered...

All the roots of the 'monoliths' secreted an incredible amount of raw material. The biofuel could be stored as potent energy, the mineral clusters nearby regrew - as if organic themselves - and the soil, once enclosed in a half-dome, was more fertile than any of the native or hybrid soil compounds they'd found so far.

~

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"Mmn, mmn, mmn..."

Thais kept singing to herself, and she was sure it drove Guy batty, but he could deal with it. After they'd encountered a worm 'boil' and taken it down with no loss of morale, he'd gotten out and posed by the charred corpses.
Said that he wanted to impress some girl in one of the habs.

Bullshit.

She'd seen him eyeing up the corpses, trying to figure out how they did it.
Got in your head like that.

Despite her outward cool, they'd made her remember falling, without a landing.
It was a stupid fear to have; she'd been through worse.
But that weightlessness had been the thing that scared her most, and she'd relived it viscerally, as if she'd been pulled off-ship and left to die amidst the vacuum.

Anyway, he'd broken his fucking arm on a stiff piece of fungus, so now she was driving them past the rolling dunes of Planet; unimaginatively, he'd called them the 'Great Dunes' and - because they were the first people there...
Guess that made them the official name, huh?

"What the hell is that song from, Thais?"

"... Dunno..."

She whispered, and he stopped asking.

Perhaps, she imagined, the dunes were silent, too.

~

Image

Bisley grinned, slicked back his hair, wanted to make himself some kind of sweet dessert.
Finally, all those nights spent in Ironholm had paid off! Naima could talk about her projects all day, if she wanted to!
He'd done it! He'd broken physics!

Malcolm growled from the floor, and Bisley unconsciously emptied more WormBait into his dish.
Pets were a luxury, and he'd plead for ages to get the furball approved, but - a Norwegian Forest cat was a precious treasure.
(Almost as precious as breaking physics.)

Image

High energy lasers were nothing new, of course, but terribly impractical for purposes of combat - and useless for even most industrial purposes, when taking the atmosphere of Planet into account.

But Physics, old friend that it was, had just needed a push in the right direction, and now the troops could go around killing each other with lasers, or playing laser tag, or whatever jarheads did.

Malcolm made an ugly 'mnworl' sound, and gnawed ungratefully on his research notes.
Not that it mattered; the results were reproducible, he just had to find Naima and brag, a little -

~

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"They can't honestly be calling it that."

"Yep. They're calling it that."

Otomo (Mr. & Mrs.) stared at the huge spire of complexes rising up against the verdant canopy of Planet's 'rain jungle.'
Unlike the jungles of Earth, the rainforests here shone with Planet's native life. Great trees hewn from red fungus blooms, ripened with 'fruit' that was a centre of thick and inedible strands, not unlike silk.

It was a nightmarish and inhospitable place, and so Bunker 118 was as much a challenge to Planet as it was to any opposing powers.
Which meant the Peacekeepers, really.

Otomo (Mrs.) scratched her chin, and truly wished she'd landed with the Morganites. She'd fancied Planetfall as something to be hopeful about, and here they were overseeing hydroponic melonfarming in a 'city' named Bunker 118!

But Otomo (Mr.) gave her a warm hug, and a warmer smile.

"Don't fret about it too much, dear. It's the first place built entirely of Planetary metal! I'm sure it'll be much more comfortable than Sparta Command... They did offer private rooms, after all!"

Image

An actual house, or at least a private complex, complete with running water at all hours...
She frowned, and bit her lip.
Well - it wouldn't hurt to hope for too much, maybe... Just maybe...

Image

Maybe things would be all right.

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Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sat Oct 27, 2018 3:43 pm

Errata Update II: Give Peace a Chance

Peacekeepers? We hardly met them!

The Peacekeepers are a very interesting faction.

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Born from a desire to not see the second world go the same of the first, through co-operation and human ingenuity, they operate on a mix of idealism and pragmatism. They reach out to an ideal world where people work together, freely, for the benefit of all -

While dealing with the fact that almost every other faction we encounter will have put aside human goals in favour of increasingly alien...
Or all too human...
Goals.

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Interestingly, the Peacekeepers have no innate bonus to their societal traits, only a single -1 penalty to efficiency.
Although that hurts, you'll hardly notice it at the beginning of the game, and by the time that it truly bares frightful teeth at you, you'll have numerous ways of counteracting the loss.

And in return, they gain a bevy of interesting, situationally useful abilities.

First, let's talk about workers.

Looking back at this ancient picture of Sparta Command...

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Right at the bottom-centre of the screen, you'll see an interesting figure; a person in a yellow worksuit. Your default civilian worker!

Clicking them can toggle them to a variety of 'jobs' which you will unlock as you go on; jobs which do not depend on tiles to work, and in some cases will be superior to any tile jobs you can find.

But regardless of job, your people may become Talents if they are kept happy, intellectually sated, and encouraged by your government. Talents cancel out the other type of citizen we'll get to in a second, and if you have more of them than workers, or the aforementioned other type of populace... You might just find your base in a golden age!

Golden ages are harbingers of good times, increasing the base's Growth by +2 and the Economy by +1 for as long as it lasts.

But what happens if people aren't happy...
What happens if some of the people... Aren't?

Drones are represented by angry red citizens. Ennui-ridden, without opportunity, or weary of war, or simply angry, they will not comply with your mandates. If they outnumber workers and talents, you will experience drone riots, crippling your base; riot too long, and things can get dicey, though I won't get into that.

Ah, that red figure to the right of the display, with an x against their forehead?
Pay that no mind.
Only a monster would pay attention to something like that.
... Right?

Now that we understand drones, we can see that the Peacekeepers are innately better at taking care of their people - if only by attracting the 'right' kind of people, as their fluff alludes to.

They're used to cramped conditions and can forego luxuries to do what's right; putting aside their discomfort by choice in the hope of creating a better tomorrow, represented by the ability to push up against the limits of what a base needs before standardised human housing - aka a 'hab complex' is constructed.

Most importantly, in all the elections of Planet, they receive TWICE the votes of any other candidate. Even if you're not planning to play the diplomatic game at all, or win by it, this can be INCREDIBLY valuable, allowing you to leverage votes towards you and your allies and away from those you dislike.

Lal - Brother Lal - is devoted to the original ideals of the mission, and I think many players gravitate towards him because his society resembles the knowable and familiar ideals of Earth the best; we want to believe we can triumph over adversity without changing who we are. We want to believe we are better than we think we are; and we want to believe that, with time and effort, we can create a better future for our loved ones.

Speaking of - without context - Lal's profile on alphacentauri2, which seems more reliable than using the wayback machine!...

Copying, for those not interested in other sites...

Service Record:
Born 2006, Rajkot India. Degree in Philosophy and Medicine, Oxford University. Trained in Thoracic Surgery. Achieved international acclaim for selfless devotion to victims of radiation poisoning following the Twelve Minute War and the India Border Conflict. Served as member of research team investigating genes that encode proteins aiding with DNA repair, University of Basel, Switzerland. Later appointed Assistant Director, World Health Organization. Top candidate for Chief of Surgery, U.N. Alpha Centauri Mission.

Psych Profile: Humanitarian
Seeks to de-escalate conflict and create harmonious environments. Dedication to ideals of U.N. mission unquestioned, loyalty superb. Able to perform well under extreme pressure; score .87 on Atherholt Trauma Function Test (recovery score moderate). Deep connection to loved ones possibly exploitable by adversary.

An interesting fellow.

But in closing, my own thoughts. I value Lal's unyielding commitment to human betterment against his own personal struggles and demons. I strongly approve of the attempt to hold all that is good about civilisation above the mess of what it can become, and to create a shining light that all of us can find shelter under, just as we might under the branches of a tall tree.

Of course, he is not my favourite faction leader. That belongs to another. But I do love him...

Now, a brief mechanics update - prototyping!

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As you can see, this is our 'unit designer.'

All the categories visible can be slotted out.

Chassis is our 'baseline.' Right now, we can build infantry and 'speeder' units; equivalent to cavalry in civilisation games.
Weapons are... Well, you know. Shooty-shooties. Stabby-stabbers. Make'em-deaders. They're generally multiplicative, making each new weapon an order of magnitude better than it's predecessors.
Shielding is armour. When combined with health and/or defensive morale, it can be fantastically useful against the enemies around you. Without health or defence, it will still help you, but may not provide as much as a shield as terrain and planning.
Reactor is the energy source for our units; it is insanely valuable, with each new level increasing our 'hit points' by a factor of ten(!) and decreasing the cumulative cost for cramming stuff into our templates. Speaking of that -
Special ability one and two are ALL SORTS OF FUN THINGS, some of which we'll be looking at next update. They can range from combat to non-combat abilities, and generally have a price tag to match!

Sparta's ability to rapidly prototype new designs will come in handy, so... If you have a cute design you wish to see made reality...
Even if it's remarkably inefficient...
I'm not saying I'll promise anything, but you know I'll try... Muahahaha...

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WingSounds
Posts: 219
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Location: Portrait of a jester; Nople Dople.

Re: A Brave Familiar World; Let's Play Alpha Centauri!

Postby WingSounds » Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:37 pm

Since Landing, 214X.

Five, maybe six plots of land outside the complex, you start to see them. Little furrows in the earth.
Children would go out and play with them, dressed from head-to-toe in habsuits. Completely unafraid.
Of course, we put a stop to that soon enough -
Looking back on it, I'm amazed that we never had an accident.
- Veccio 'Vex' Alger; When the Garrison Fell, Datalinks.*

~

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"It's steel, but it's better than normal steel."

Naima smiled, and for the hundredth time, Santiago wondered if she wasn't talking to a cat.

"Explain it to me, like you would a child."

"It's steel! But it's better than normal steel!"

... An armistice in the conversation followed, and Naima coughed and quickly armoured her earlier enthusiasm.
But it wasn't as if the Colonel was displeased, or even particularly confused.
The importance of stronger armour in this hostile alien world could not be overstated...

However, it seemed premature to be too excited about something like plasma-tempered steel.

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"... I'm ever so glad we allocated the research budget to this... Plasma-tempered steel."

Santiago's dry amusement - since no Spartans had been hurt, the event was of negligible importance - cut through her like a knife. A butterknife, perhaps, one of the terribly inefficient ones that the mess distributed to dig into tins of canned algae that everyone pretended was food.

Naima ruffled her coat and said nothing, then brightened up considerably.

"As you should be. Plasma-tempered steel could, theoretically, be used to take care of such, let's call them tectonic mishaps in the future."

At that, the Colonel raised an eyebrow.
It was, Naima noted, like her smile.
Exceedingly thin.

"And just how do you plan on taking care of tectonic shifts, Science Officer?"

But that had been a trap of her own.

"I'm so glad you asked, you see - "

~

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Beyond the swell of the Great Dunes, buoyed by silt as thick as oily sand, large groups - or boils - of mindworms had been sighted. The blight of them was everywhere, making colonial prospects a daunting task, indeed.

Daunting, of course, because it meant a challenge.

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The second Spartan base built entirely out of native metals, and the first complex known to incorporate plasma steel, the Parade Grounds was roomier and more inspiring, with more aesthetic touches than the hitherto ugly and utilitarian prefab complexes.
Which was not to say that the Parade Grounds were attractive; they were still first and foremost defensible.

Everyone in the staging area had trained, practised, and fought for the chance to be present.
This was to be a speech commemorating Spartan military prowess in the face of the harsh environment, and similarly subduing a possible threat... Through peace, but peace as a weapon.

Cheers faded and silence reigned after the Colonel stood at a raised podium.

"I am sure that some of your tutors have spoke of the story of the boy and the fox. This parable is a popular one amongst instructors who wish to instill the perfect discipline we must have if we are to survive in a world as hostile as Planet."

Perhaps nobody spoke nor interrupted, but every face in the throne was proud, and secure in that pride.
The face of the Colonel, however, was unreadable.

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"... The story, for those who are not familiar, is about a thief who steals a fox pup. So strict were the laws in old Sparta, that to speak out at such a crime could only end in death. So - rather than reveal his action, or betray his colleagues, the boy is silent, until the fox tears through his stomach and entrails."

A few harsh laughs, muted.
Then, silence.
Whatever praise would come, those present knew it would exalt their discipline - for like the boy in the tale, many would have given their lives for Sparta.

"What they don't tell you, is that the moral is utterly wrong. By refusing to admit his crime, the boy has doomed those around him, because suspicion of his actions will necessarily turn to his colleagues. And in his desire to seem disciplined, he is choosing death over the opportunity to fight again. To survive."

Silence reigned once more, but now the crowd's energy had faded somewhat - replaced with nervous shock.

Colonel Santiago said nothing, and simply glanced from her left - to her right.

"Do not be proud of having made it to this station, and do not let your pride prevent you from learning - or revising what you know to be true. It is not only your life on the line, but the line of every other person in this room. We will survive together, or we will die. Remember that."

A profound quiet was left with her absence, the chastisement the cohort had felt having been replaced with something else - something searching.

Happy was the wrong word; she would not be happy until there was a facsimile of safety on Planet.
But they had learned, and most importantly, learned to learn.

~

Image

"Your cat'll like this one, Bisley. Take a look at it. Shines, right?"

It did shine, too. He had to hand it to her, as bitter as he'd been -
Plasma steel really was something.

The two science officers were watching the test run of a synthmetal armoured car, with the potential of a trial run with plasma steel set to follow. Naima, Bisley decided, was the sort of woman who was magnanimous in victory. Sure, she'd just sniped the better part of the research budget, but - it wasn't all bad.

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A rover had found some Unity data that had allowed him to devise a possible replacement for the primitive network nodes they'd set up before. Servers, connectivity, and the first real Planet-wide network were now more than just dreams. Which also meant her beloved 'Xenophon' would be happy... If computers could feel.

"I fucking love success."

Naima muttered happily. (Malcolm hissed at her, but cats ignored cats.)

"Well, I love sleep. Try to get some, Naima. Your brilliant mind'll be missed if it wanders off into the aether one of these days..."

He trailed off, gently leaving an opening for some return praise, but she kept staring at the vehicles, turning in the test arena.
And he knew her mind was already drifted, bound towards another project.

"You too, Bisley. You too..."

It worried him that he could still hear her yawning long after he and Malcolm had begun the return 'home.'

~

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Not all discoveries relied on rigorous study, however.
The next proof that the Unity had not burnt all possible escapees to a crisp was an errant transponder, broadcasting coordinates on an infinite loop.

She had hoped that it was a rational presence, one that could be dealt with rationally.
Yang, or even Morgan.

But as Santiago gazed stoically towards the light of the Comms screen, it was Zakharov who stared back, with a quiet little smile -
As if a smile could be quiet.

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"You mean to say, you plan to pursue weapons capable of untold destruction, without the meddling of outside morals."

He did not laugh at her response, but his smile implied he had considered it.

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Santiago 'considered' sneering in return - a paltry sum for potential information was a fool's bargain - but settled for refusing to play his game. She had learned one thing, and one thing well; any man who considered himself above the world was either a fool, or dangerous; and Zakharov, despite his seeming arrogance, was no fool.

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"What if we came to an agreement about technology? Surely, your... University has no need of lesser theorems on Planetary governance."

At two different locations, both unknown, a Colonel and a Provost stared into monitors, both crackling with the slight lag still pervasive amidst Planet.

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The Comms screen couldn't go dim fast enough; he infuriated her in a way that even Morgan could not - for while Morgan and his followers were dangerous and venal, Zakharov was the kind of man who would burn the world to the ground, simply to see that he could.
But of course, neither of them were quite done, just yet...

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"Peaceful researchers."

She couldn't help it; she laughed.
Not to her surprise, he laughed, too - a little sheepishly, a little proud.
Once again, she was on guard.

"Yes, so it seems. Planet is teeming with new possibilities, all of which remain close - but tantalisingly out of reach. Surely, we can work together to discover them - or at least stay out of one another's way?.."

...

"It would seem foolish for combat to break out when neither of us even knows the other's location."

His enigmatic smile was unpleasantly neutral; and she wondered if he hadn't already 'discovered' that information, himself.

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She stared at her own reflection, nearly invisible.

"Colonel!"

An adjutant said, no nervousness in his voice.
Her bouts of introspection were well known; and there was much to think on, and more to discuss.

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"Summon the cadet corps, and the science officers, and the garrison officials. We must debate the future of Sparta..."

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~

Xenophon speaks.

Spartans.
All of us must consider our obligations; to one another.
To the Federation.

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With the rediscovery of two other groups of survivors, it stands to reason that we are not alone.
And if we are not alone, we must ask what we are - and who we shall become.

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It is the obligation of every citizen to consider this burden.
Speak, or know that you have forfeited your right to be heard.

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recon regular38 wrote:oh fuck me i don't want to have to vote on shit


bandages wrote:You're a gigantic baby. Just tie voting to citizenship, and citizenship to service. Everyone's happy...


recon regular38 wrote:i'm never happy


kathmandu wrote:You shuld probably see a psych chaplain about that. :lol:


recon regular38 wrote:okay see this is why i hate democracy


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