Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

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eleazar
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#16 Post by eleazar » Tue Sep 02, 2008 12:22 am

Identity of the Precursors
The Precursors are not a unified group. They are simply a diverse collection of extremely old and powerful species/civilizations. They are powerful enough that survival is more or less guaranteed, so the focus and unifying factor of each Precursor group is ideology. The following list is not necessarily complete, nor are the names final.

Final Ones
Single-mindedly bent on the destruction of all other beings. Ash is all that is left behind after their passing. The other Precursors are able to a degree to hold them in check. There is uncertainty if the robotic ships are the Final Ones themselves, or merely their tools.

The following is their only known communication: "Only the strongest deserve to exist. We alone will watch as the Universe fails. End your existences, or the Final Ones shall end them violently."

Unifiers
The Unifiers seek to include all sapient life in a single group mind. They do not ask permission. Unifier colonies have 100% loyalty.

Curators/Gardeners/Caretakers
The Caretakers are fascinated with the diversity of life, especially but not only sapient life, and attempt to tend and increase that diversity. It is thought the Caretakers are responsible for constructing Gaian worlds and for seeding sapient life in fallow galaxies.

Engineers/Builders
The builders are primarily interested with making stuff. It is thought the starlane networks were created by the Engineers.

Observers
The observers avoid interaction with the universe and instead accumulate knowledge and information.


Precursor Involvement
There are several ways the Precursors may become involved towards the end of the game, though these may be predetermined at the beginning, the player will not generally know which (if any) crises will occur at the beginning of the game, though he may find clues as the game progresses. It is even possible that some of these crisis-situations may be in the same game. At universe set-up the player will probably be able to de-select some of these possibilities, in the same way a player might disable the diplomatic victory condition.

"Final One" Incursion
As the game progresses there will be three incursions of Final One fleets. They make no attempt to take territory, but attempt to do the maximum amount of damage to the strongest player, and once sufficient damage is done moving on to the new strongest player. There is no diplomatic action possible with the Final Ones. The first two waves should be tough, but generally defeat-able. However the last wave should have a decent chance at cleansing the galaxy of all life. In the middle of the final wave is a massive mother-ship, which if captured provides the capturer with and extremely powerful weapon which almost guarantees victory.

Unifier Incursion
Similar to the Final One Incursion, except the tactics of the Unifiers are very different. The Unifiers are primarily interested in capturing population. They also have formidable espionage abilities (goes with mind control). Diplomatic contact is possible with Unifier civs, however it increases the risk of subversion by Unifier mind-control. The player that conquers the capitol after the third incursion, gains access to some of the subversion techs of the unifiers with again almost guarantees victory.

"Orion" Planets
Most of the Precursors (excluding the Final Ones, who only destroy) have a chance of leaving an "Orion Planet" in the player's galaxy. Like the Original "Planet Orion" these would be strongly defended, though in very different ways. If mastered each would contain a different selection of very powerful tech and/or goodies which provide a big boost towards victory.

Note this is not a victory condition as in MoO1. I don't want to clutter the game up with too many victory conditions, and also it is more fun (in some ways) not to be directly handed victory, but to be given a very-super-weapon instead. Of course its possible that a player may squander all his resources gaining access to the "Orion" treasure, and thus be unable to win

Other Sketchily considered Possibilities
▪ Precursor vs. Precursor conflict: (quite trickily to pull off properly). The players empires may join with a Precursor side, and earn a diminished victory, or try to play one off the other and get them both destroyed for the full win.
▪ Summoning a Precursor: Some of the Precursors may leave various artifacts behind which would allow the worthy player empire to eventually send a message to asking to join them.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#17 Post by Tortanick » Wed Sep 03, 2008 9:14 am

Good to be discussing this again :)
eleazar wrote:Well, sure we could make is a senseless "non-canonical mash-up", but that's rather lazy and uninspiring. After all, this is the "normal" way to play, not a sideline to the "real" game as the "skirmish mode" examples you brought up seem to be.
That couldn't be further from the truth, multiplayer skirmish is normally the "normal" play mode, despite the fact the story is in the campaign, Starcraft is the best example: skirmishing is a national sport with large amounts of money changing hands, the campaigns are ignored in all this although their story is still popular enough to have some novels based on it.

eleazar wrote:I don't think you can argue that it would be better if it was a mash-up without a backstory.
Its more that I think the story itself would be better served by a campaign mode where we could script things. You can't really pull of a canonical genocide and extinction of one species in a skirmish style of gameplay. Also I'm not to sure if it works this way for other players, but I'd find that the best way to make a backstory for the skirmish mode is to have a good campaign story.
eleazar wrote:1) This backstory implies that the Eaxaw (and all other player species) have been seeded to multiple galaxies.
Actually, why did you decide to have multiple galaxies? Personally I think that saying all games are in the same reality is a disadvantage because it lessens emotional impact, what would be an extinction just becomes defeating one of many empires. And backstory wise every game played increases the precursors influence by one galaxy until the ability to defend yourself from them becomes a plot hole.
eleazar wrote:Thus only the Precursors know when and how the Eaxaw first got into space (individual Eaxaw empires may think they know, but most of them are wrong)
I really feel that we should be trying to create a backstory that allows race designers to decide for themselves how their creations got into space, rather than choosing for them.
eleazar wrote:Remember the Precursors are not a homogenous group. They are a bunch of super-tech empires united only in being much more powerful than the player at the start.

Of course, i want the player to wonder why all this stuff is laying around, and through playing some of the answers will be provided.
If they leave anything really dangerous around then most of those reasons make the precursors sound like jerks, of course that's only a problem if you don't want them to be jerks.
BTW a nice twist would be a group of precursors who travel around removing dangerous artefacts, even if they have to steal them from someone else.
eleazar wrote: Final Ones
Single-mindedly bent on the destruction of all other beings. Ash is all that is left behind after their passing. The other Precursors are able to a degree to hold them in check. There is uncertainty if the robotic ships are the Final Ones themselves, or merely their tools.

The following is their only known communication: "Only the strongest deserve to exist. We alone will watch as the Universe fails. End your existences, or the Final Ones shall end them violently."
They really need a better motivation than that. Off the top of my head: (note, this only works in a universe with an inescapable big crunch)
The Immortals have dedicated themselves to survival, having long since defeated old age and sickness the immortals retreated to nigh-impregnable fortresses hidden far away from any star and send their robotic servants to fight the last remaining threat to their endless lives: The end of the universe.

The Immortals have mastered the ability to change matter to energy and back again on a scale impressive to other precursors, by decreasing the total mass in the universe the Immortals believe they can prevent the big crunch switiching the ultimate fate of the universe to entropy, something they can easily survive through.

In their own eyes the Immortals are working for the good of all, once they have completed their mission everyone, not just themselves will have been given the opportunity to live eternally. As for the deaths causes when they turn an inhabited system to energy, mortals die anyway so in the long run its not a big deal. (they actually carry immortals off home and are unable to understand why they're often angry)
eleazar wrote:Unifiers
Well these guys are much nastier than the Final Ones (or the immortals), at least death is a clean end. Two questions, what exactly stops the group mind being filled with involuntary prisoners until they overpower the Unifiers, and what happens when they try to absorb an existing group mind?
eleazar wrote:Curators/Gardeners/Caretakers
Sounds good, I'd add opposing and cleaning up after other precursors when they threaten young races to their remit.
eleazar wrote:Observers
I'd make them a bit more involved in their information gathering, that way its not out of character for empires on good terms with them to buy useful knowledge.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#18 Post by eleazar » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:58 pm

Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:I don't think you can argue that it would be better if it was a mash-up without a backstory.
Its more that I think the story itself would be better served by a campaign mode where we could script things. You can't really pull of a canonical genocide and extinction of one species in a skirmish style of gameplay.
I'm not sure what you are trying to say. It sounds you are criticizing "normal" mode because it's not "campaign" mode. Obviously a campaign will have a stronger story-line. So? I'm not trying to close the door on campaigns in any way. I'm simply not making one. What good is a "canonical genocide" to a normal game? I'm trying to create a backstory that enhances and explains gameplay in normal mode (see title).

Tortanick wrote:Also I'm not to sure if it works this way for other players, but I'd find that the best way to make a backstory for the skirmish mode is to have a good campaign story.
I don't know what you are talking about... the story you make up in your head about a situation while playing a skirmish? If so, it's not relevant, and anyway you don't seem to have experience with a game that has a strong story in "normal mode".

eleazar wrote:1) This backstory implies that the Eaxaw (and all other player species) have been seeded to multiple galaxies.
Actually, why did you decide to have multiple galaxies? Personally I think that saying all games are in the same reality is a disadvantage because it lessens emotional impact, what would be an extinction just becomes defeating one of many empires.[/quote]
Because multiple galaxies make sense. The precursors obviously have someplace else to go, the idea that the whole of your "universe" (i.e. your galaxy) is just one of many that they may be involved with is dramatic. But i doubt there will be much emphasis on that point, since obviously the player's empire has no knowledge of any of the other galaxies.

The fact that something might be happening in a totally unknowable and inaccessible place, really has little impact on the drama of what's happening in a place you know about.
eleazar wrote:And backstory wise every game played increases the precursors influence by one galaxy until the ability to defend yourself from them becomes a plot hole.
Huh?
1) The precursors are not a team.
2) Every game does not end by giving a precursor more power in a galaxy.
3) And even if it did, most of the precursor's power is directed towards/against other precursors, so the change in the amount left over for messing with backwards Galaxies is negligible.
Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:Thus only the Precursors know when and how the Eaxaw first got into space (individual Eaxaw empires may think they know, but most of them are wrong)
I really feel that we should be trying to create a backstory that allows race designers to decide for themselves how their creations got into space, rather than choosing for them.
Why? Do you think someone will be able to design these grand campaigns you envision without changing some of the details of some of the specie's original history?
Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:Of course, i want the player to wonder why all this stuff is laying around, and through playing some of the answers will be provided.
If they leave anything really dangerous around then most of those reasons make the precursors sound like jerks, of course that's only a problem if you don't want them to be jerks.
BTW a nice twist would be a group of precursors who travel around removing dangerous artefacts, even if they have to steal them from someone else.
Who said they were all nice?

A main point of this backstory is to rationalize why there is a lot of cool junk in the galaxy. So, no there is not a precursor who cleans things up.
Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote: Final Ones
Single-mindedly bent on the destruction of all other beings. Ash is all that is left behind after their passing. The other Precursors are able to a degree to hold them in check. There is uncertainty if the robotic ships are the Final Ones themselves, or merely their tools.

The following is their only known communication: "Only the strongest deserve to exist. We alone will watch as the Universe fails. End your existences, or the Final Ones shall end them violently."
They really need a better motivation than that. Off the top of my head: (note, this only works in a universe with an inescapable big crunch)
The Immortals have dedicated themselves to survival, having long since defeated old age and sickness the immortals retreated to nigh-impregnable fortresses hidden far away from any star and send their robotic servants to fight the last remaining threat to their endless lives: The end of the universe.

The Immortals have mastered the ability to change matter to energy and back again on a scale impressive to other precursors, by decreasing the total mass in the universe the Immortals believe they can prevent the big crunch switiching the ultimate fate of the universe to entropy, something they can easily survive through.

In their own eyes the Immortals are working for the good of all, once they have completed their mission everyone, not just themselves will have been given the opportunity to live eternally. As for the deaths causes when they turn an inhabited system to energy, mortals die anyway so in the long run its not a big deal. (they actually carry immortals off home and are unable to understand why they're often angry)
I'm not saying my quote from the final ones is great writing, and it may be better to simply leave them silent and inscrutable.
However, i reject the idea that every villain must be a sympathetic villain. I'm trying to make the motivations of each precursor radically different. The Unifiers are the twisted, misguided trying-to-do-something-noble-for-everyone villains. Because once they succeed there will be no more violence, no more conflict. Everyone will literally live together in perfect harmony. Of course it will also mean the end of free-will, but they believe it is worth that price.

Your Immortals, by the way, are much like Pohl's Assassins turned out to be. (Not that that's a problem) My main objection to the idea, is that i don't like the effect such beings would logically have on gameplay. I don't want one of the Precursors to be much more powerful than the other's (then they can't hold each other in check). The ability to "change matter to energy and back again on a scale impressive to other precursors" is a description of the ultimate weapon. Nor do i want to make the player face a foe that can simply vaporize his entire solar system. Also I don't want suns and planets to be annihilated-- though i suppose an argument could be made for it.
Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:Unifiers
Well these guys are much nastier than the Final Ones (or the immortals), at least death is a clean end. Two questions, what exactly stops the group mind being filled with involuntary prisoners until they overpower the Unifiers, and what happens when they try to absorb an existing group mind?
The unifier group mind is large enough, that adding an empire full of sapients doesn't significantly change it's composition. I suppose new minds are not fully integrated at first.
No doubt from the Unifier's perspective absorbing hive minds would require different technique, but i don't think the results would effect gameplay.

Note also that the Unifiers and Caretakers, are united in their desire to encourage and spread the growth of new sapient species... it's what they do after the species grows up that is very different.
eleazar wrote:Observers
I'd make them a bit more involved in their information gathering, that way its not out of character for empires on good terms with them to buy useful knowledge.[/quote]
I'm suspect that having a super-science race selling techs would mess up gameplay, or else seem unfairly gimped. Also i don't know what their motivation could be.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#19 Post by Tortanick » Fri Sep 05, 2008 8:43 am

eleazar wrote: I don't know what you are talking about... the story you make up in your head about a situation while playing a skirmish?
In a sentence: Useing the campaign mode as a backstory for normal mode. Not so much as a previous events backstory, but an "understanding of the characters" backstory.
eleazar wrote: and anyway you don't seem to have experience with a game that has a strong story in "normal mode".
That is true.
eleazar wrote:
And backstory wise every game played increases the precursors influence by one galaxy until the ability to defend yourself from them becomes a plot hole.
Huh?
1) The precursors are not a team.
I never said they were, I just refered to them as a group since I was talking about all of them
eleazar wrote:2) Every game does not end by giving a precursor more power in a galaxy.
No, but it expands the number of galaxies the precursors are active in, a species that is active in 1000 galaxies is logically much more advanced and powerful than one active in 1 or 5.
eleazar wrote:3) And even if it did, most of the precursor's power is directed towards/against other precursors, so the change in the amount left over for messing with backwards Galaxies is negligible.
Not really, as their technology and power increases every individual ship gets stronger, the tiny portion of their power they spend affecting lesser races would go up.
eleazar wrote:Why? Do you think someone will be able to design these grand campaigns you envision without changing some of the details of some of the specie's original history?

I don't see why not. The race motives and goals are clear, the histories don't include other races and their time relative to each other are undefined.
eleazar wrote:A main point of this backstory is to rationalize why there is a lot of cool junk in the galaxy. So, no there is not a precursor who cleans things up.
No one said they got rid of all of it ;) perhaps they've been occupied removing left over dyson sphere weapon factories, portable black holes and supernova canons that the non-gamebraking stuff gets overlooked. It just seems like something the caregivers would do.
eleazar wrote:However, i reject the idea that every villain must be a sympathetic villain.
Agreed, but even unsympathetic villains are better with a good motivation. Besides they're not very sympathetic: killing billions to primaraly ensure there own immortality.
eleazar wrote:My main objection to the idea, is that i don't like the effect such beings would logically have on gameplay. I don't want one of the Precursors to be much more powerful than the other's (then they can't hold each other in check). The ability to "change matter to energy and back again on a scale impressive to other precursors" is a description of the ultimate weapon.
A very good point, my response: sure it sounds like a matter to energy weapon on that scale is the ultimate weapon, but give it a huge Achilles heel and the problem is solved. For example it might have a huge damage output, but relitive to other weapons it costs more and takes more space on the ship, so at best its balanced at worst its a specialist tool that isn't found on dedicated warships.
And while turning a star or planet to pure energy is impressive, we can simply state that there are easier ways to destroy heavenly bodies, however they scatter the bodies mass everywhere, something that only the immortals try to avoid (and maybe they don't care so much during war)
eleazar wrote:Nor do i want to make the player face a foe that can simply vaporize his entire solar system. Also I don't want suns and planets to be annihilated-- though i suppose an argument could be made for it.
That is a problem... Would it help if they only did that during the endgame? Early attacks could just be leftover escort ships makeing a nuisance of themselves.
eleazar wrote:No doubt from the Unifier's perspective absorbing hive minds would require different technique, but i don't think the results would effect gameplay.
Could those techniques be subverted? I think it would make a great plot point if knowing of a pending unifier crusade a bunch of races donate planets and food to their local hive mind with the plan of getting it large enough fight the unifiers from within.
eleazar wrote:I'm suspect that having a super-science race selling techs would mess up gameplay, or else seem unfairly gimped. Also i don't know what their motivation could be.
I was thinking less tech, more stuff like maps and fleet details.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#20 Post by Krikkitone » Sat Sep 06, 2008 8:28 pm

I like the basic story idea with one key exception

This should not necessarily affect the Race's backstory

Some races got some type of precursor contact to obtain starlane travel
Some races figured out starlane travel on their own
Some races had starlane travel before the game starts (their empires collapsed due to some event, precursor caused in some cases, 'natural' in others)

Some races were transfered to their current homeworld and remember it
Some races were created by precursors and know it
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [no precursor involvement at all]
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [but precursors WERE involved either in transferring them or creating them]


The idea that Starlane Travel is discoverable, but isn't a "necessary/inevitable at a certain tech level" discovery, would be interesting as it would allow for high tech "Natives" who are just as/ more advanced then you... they just don't have Starlane Travel

Also by adding some variability in racial history, you allow for "splinter colonies" of your own race... or other races

I like the idea of 'potentially' Multiple Precursor types/Precursor incursions

[Caretaker Incursions would occur too... "prunings" to maintain greater diversity... probably tending to hit big/technologically advanced empires that might disturb the garden]

As for the general storyline Your race arising to the level of actually being able to challenge a Precursor race sounds like a key point. probably having your race essentially joining the struggles between the Precursors. (including discovering plans the different precursors had for your race)... probably based on the idea of destiny (whether the precursors involved 'prepared' your race by extensive involvement or minimal twitches)

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#21 Post by MikkoM » Sun Sep 07, 2008 2:54 pm

I can`t say that I am yet completely satisfied with this new backstory suggestion and hopefully I can later either contribute something useful to the backstory or at least comment this eleazar`s suggestion in a little more detail. However as there are several things to like about in this suggestion, here are some of my current thoughts about the ideas that have been presented in this topic.

I like the basic idea of having several ancient races, since this adds variety to the galactic history, can lead to several interesting yet diverse discoveries when exploring the galaxy and if you can contact/join/attack these races the experience might vary depending on which ancient race you are dealing with.

I also support the idea that these ancient races have left the galaxy where the game takes place, as in my opinion this offers us several interesting options. Now if the ancient races have left the galaxy the galactic stage is set purely to the playable races. If there would be ancient civilisations still living in the galaxy they would have to be really passive, like the New Orions in MOO 3, or otherwise they could easily defeat the playable races with their superior technology. And I must say that the idea of having passive ancient species, that are there just waiting for the younger races to destroy them doesn`t sound very appealing to me. Also if the ancient species have left the galaxy, but left some of their "toys" behind there is something really interesting for the player to find when she/he explores the galaxy. (Especially Orion kind of worlds that have a some sort of a Guardian or a Guardian fleet are something that I really love.) And if these races have left the galaxy and so the playable empires don`t really know that much about them, there would be a motive to explore galactic history to better understand these races, and perhaps at the same time the history of your own race too.

And what comes to the direct involvement of these ancient races to the gameplay, I think that their involvement should mainly be focused on the later stages of the game, as this way the younger races would have time to develop closer to these ancient races and so these encounters could be more equal. Also contacting/joining these very advanced ancient races could be one of the highest technological achievements and possibly even a way to win the game.

This however doesn`t mean that all contact with these ancient races should be left only for the late game, as I would strongly support things like the Antaran attacks on MOO 2 and Borg attacks on Birth Of The Federation as these attacks give you a taste of the power that these older/more advanced races have and could also affect galactic balance of power.

As for reasons why these ancient species left the galaxy, I think we could simply say that they left this galaxy as they developed ways to travel further into space and/or reached some other form of existence. So they left because it suited their own purposes to leave. I don`t think that we need to make these ancient races some noble knights that always had the best interest of the younger races on their mind. I would much rather see these ancient races as races that too made mistakes and used the younger races to their own purposes when it suited their needs. This way we could add more colour to the galactic history as there could be both horrible injustices and big brother kind of caretaking that these ancient species have practised.

Also what comes to the problem of racial backstories not fitting in with the general backstory, I would like to say that we might have to edit some of the racial backstories anyway to make the races fit the gameplay. So if we can come up with a really good backstory I wouldn`t consider racial backstories that don`t fit in too big of a problem.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#22 Post by Skaro » Sat Sep 27, 2008 2:36 pm

I've been rethinking a alternate backstory quite a bit, I think that I have a plausible backstory that will allow for all species to attain TFL at the same time.

Also, we should probably have a Orion system or atleast a planet named Orion at the center of the galaxy.

Now here's my idea.

Hundreds of years ago there were many species capable of spacetravel. However they could only use FTL because they managed to built drives that would allow them to travel across starlanes. However, these starlanes were soon used to create empires and to subjugate other civilizations.

The original creators (the Orions) of the starlanes felt that their creation was abused, so they created a device that would disrupt all the starlanes in the galaxy. This essentially defeated all the empires in one fell swoop. It was unforeseen by the Orions that this would also alert other ancient races with to their position (they didn't rely on starlane travel).

Six mighty ancient races travelled to the Orion Galaxy and saw what the Orions had done. After a few battles a agreement was reached. The Orions were to leave their galaxy and had to vow to never interfere with younger races again. Though the Orions had one demand before they would leave. The other ancients were to influence the younger races so that they would all have similar techlevels, only then were they to disable starlane disruptor.

How's that for a first draft?

It would give everyone a similar starting point and allow for storylines where a alien ship got reverse engineerd for instance.
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#23 Post by stride » Mon Sep 29, 2008 9:36 am

Stumbling over ancient artifacts then gaining some advantage would be a really nice addition to the game :)

I'm assuming a race to some degree does not know what future technologies are available to research, except the ones you are on the verge of discovering.

One advantage of ancient artifacts could be to add some kind of "enlightenment" into future technologies. Maybe even changing the attributes of specific techs to "near completed".

Other advantages could be unique boosts in some areas.

Just my 2 cents

M.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#24 Post by eleazar » Fri Nov 21, 2008 6:54 pm

A long post in answer to a whole lot of other posts...

Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:2) Every game does not end by giving a precursor more power in a galaxy.
No, but it expands the number of galaxies the precursors are active in, a species that is active in 1000 galaxies is logically much more advanced and powerful than one active in 1 or 5.
eleazar wrote:3) And even if it did, most of the precursor's power is directed towards/against other precursors, so the change in the amount left over for messing with backwards Galaxies is negligible.
Not really, as their technology and power increases every individual ship gets stronger, the tiny portion of their power they spend affecting lesser races would go up.
[/quote]
Sorry, this doesn't make logical sense. There's a difference between displaying power and gaining power.

If Precursor A, takes 100 ships from Galaxy A and uses them to mess around with some upstart species in Galaxy B, the Precursor hasn't necessarily gained anything. In fact he may become slightly weaker, since he's weakened his hold on Galaxy A, and even if the he only looses 1 ship, in wiping out or conquering the upstart, that's still 1 ship less than he had before. The question is, does the upstart have anything that the precursor actually needs to make up for the loss of that ship? Not necessarily. The upstart certainly doesn't have any technology that would advance the precursor.

As i've described them the Precursors have advanced in size and technology, that simply grabbing more territory is of negligible value to them. They've passed the point of diminishing returns for population, territory, and raw materials. They no longer struggle for their species/civilization's survival, except against other precursors, and that contest is effectively a stale-mate Their reasons for occasionally involving themselves in the affairs of lesser galaxy-bound species are ideological. The dealings each has with lesser races is on the whole a drain on each precursor's considerable resources.

Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:No doubt from the Unifier's perspective absorbing hive minds would require different technique, but i don't think the results would effect gameplay.
Could those techniques be subverted? I think it would make a great plot point if knowing of a pending unifier crusade a bunch of races donate planets and food to their local hive mind with the plan of getting it large enough fight the unifiers from within.
I want to avoid giving certain species special advantages against particular precursors.

Tortanick wrote:
eleazar wrote:I'm suspect that having a super-science race selling techs would mess up gameplay, or else seem unfairly gimped. Also i don't know what their motivation could be.
I was thinking less tech, more stuff like maps and fleet details.
Again, it seems sorta petty. I suppose you could make a precursor with an odd prankster mentality, who for some reason like selling little secrets for money they don't need. Essentially you're proposing a precursor who you can pay to perform espionage for you. Maybe something to consider when we get to really implementing spying.

Krikkitone wrote:I like the basic story idea with one key exception

This should not necessarily affect the Race's backstory

Some races got some type of precursor contact to obtain starlane travel
Some races figured out starlane travel on their own
Some races had starlane travel before the game starts (their empires collapsed due to some event, precursor caused in some cases, 'natural' in others)

Some races were transfered to their current homeworld and remember it
Some races were created by precursors and know it
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [no precursor involvement at all]
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [but precursors WERE involved either in transferring them or creating them]
You aren't giving any reasons, just stating an opinion in detail.

In the campaigns, there will be plenty of room to craft specific stories about a species history In all likelihood (assuming the stories are deep and interesting) different campaigns will have somewhat different backstories for the same species. But in a "standard" game it is silly and unnecessary to give the player all this highly varied background and then completely ignore it by starting out each player at the exact same time with the exact same power (excluding possible slight variations in starting tech).

Each species reason for going into space would generally be the same however, and that to me is the more important part anyway. The trader species still goes out to get rich, the bloodthirsty species still goes out to slay, and the weird telepathic species still goes out to silence the incredibly annoying noise of everybody else's thoughts.

Krikkitone wrote:Also by adding some variability in racial history, you allow for "splinter colonies" of your own race... or other races
Should we choose to have something like "splinter colonies", my backstory will easily support it. If a Precursor can transplant a species to one planet another (or the same) precursor can easily transplant them on two planets.
Krikkitone wrote:I like the idea of 'potentially' Multiple Precursor types/Precursor incursions

[Caretaker Incursions would occur too... "prunings" to maintain greater diversity... probably tending to hit big/technologically advanced empires that might disturb the garden]
Interesting idea... I think their behavior and tactics should be significantly different that either the Unifiers or the Final Ones, in order to avoid redundancy. The Caretakers are not Luddites, they aren't anti-technology (I want to avoid the overused "Gaian" "technology is evil" archetype, especially since it doesn't make much sense for a super-technological civ). The Caretakers might un-terraform worlds in places where everything was the same EP, or redistribute/cull from a large population of the same species. In any case their goal shouldn't be conquest or annihilation.
Krikkitone wrote:As for the general storyline Your race arising to the level of actually being able to challenge a Precursor race sounds like a key point. probably having your race essentially joining the struggles between the Precursors. (including discovering plans the different precursors had for your race)... probably based on the idea of destiny (whether the precursors involved 'prepared' your race by extensive involvement or minimal twitches)
Yeah, i think that's important for the player to feel like he's really made progress. But the player really isn't challenging a precursor power as a whole, but simply the part of the precursor's power invested in the player's galaxy. But the precursors can no longer simply ignore the end-game player.


MikkoM wrote:And what comes to the direct involvement of these ancient races to the gameplay, I think that their involvement should mainly be focused on the later stages of the game, as this way the younger races would have time to develop closer to these ancient races and so these encounters could be more equal. Also contacting/joining these very advanced ancient races could be one of the highest technological achievements and possibly even a way to win the game.

This however doesn`t mean that all contact with these ancient races should be left only for the late game, as I would strongly support things like the Antaran attacks on MOO 2 and Borg attacks on Birth Of The Federation as these attacks give you a taste of the power that these older/more advanced races have and could also affect galactic balance of power.
That's the idea, a couple smaller (but significant) incursions towards the middle of the game, just to give the player a taste of what's coming in the big end-game incursion.
MikkoM wrote:As for reasons why these ancient species left the galaxy, I think we could simply say that they left this galaxy as they developed ways to travel further into space and/or reached some other form of existence. So they left because it suited their own purposes to leave.
In most cases i'm assuming that the precursors had intergalactic travel before they came to the player's galaxy. They were just sorta "visiting", either there wasn't anything there to hold their interest, and/or they preferred to use the galaxy as a "fallow" galaxy. The stuff they left behind was stuff they didn't consider worth packing, or stuff that they wanted somebody to later find.


Skaro wrote:I've been rethinking a alternate backstory quite a bit, I think that I have a plausible backstory that will allow for all species to attain TFL at the same time.

Also, we should probably have a Orion system or atleast a planet named Orion at the center of the galaxy.

Now here's my idea.

Hundreds of years ago there were many species capable of spacetravel. However they could only use FTL because they managed to built drives that would allow them to travel across starlanes. However, these starlanes were soon used to create empires and to subjugate other civilizations.

The original creators (the Orions) of the starlanes felt that their creation was abused, so they created a device that would disrupt all the starlanes in the galaxy. This essentially defeated all the empires in one fell swoop. It was unforeseen by the Orions that this would also alert other ancient races with to their position (they didn't rely on starlane travel).

Six mighty ancient races travelled to the Orion Galaxy and saw what the Orions had done. After a few battles a agreement was reached. The Orions were to leave their galaxy and had to vow to never interfere with younger races again. Though the Orions had one demand before they would leave. The other ancients were to influence the younger races so that they would all have similar techlevels, only then were they to disable starlane disruptor.

How's that for a first draft?
I don't understand why anybody is doing anything. Why do the 6 ancients care that the Orions turned off the starlane system that the Orions built? What is banishment from one galaxy supposed to solve? Why do the 6 ancients agree to oversee this galaxy?

I think i've already explained why i don't want to have a another species called "the Orions", and thus no planet labled "Orion", especially since my scheme allows for multiple "orion-like" planets per galaxy. "Orions" is one of the most overused species name in all of sci-fi.

The more practical issue is this set-up implies precursors who "micro-manage" the lesser species to a much greater degree than in my set-up. I.E. they are actively and continually directly each species development. This doesn't mesh well into the game where the player and NPCs are generally left alone by the Precursors.


stride wrote:I'm assuming a race to some degree does not know what future technologies are available to research, except the ones you are on the verge of discovering.

One advantage of ancient artifacts could be to add some kind of "enlightenment" into future technologies. Maybe even changing the attributes of specific techs to "near completed".
The Tech-tree is always the same, so there's no point in hiding it from the player... that would just annoy him or force him to make an off-line tree for reference.

The way techs are planned to work includes the ability to steal/trade/reverse engineer techs partially. And yes, i'd like to have certain artifacts provide some sort of bonus in developing similar technology.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#25 Post by Yeeha » Wed Dec 03, 2008 7:59 pm

Only thing i can say is WOW this is really good.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#26 Post by Krikkitone » Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:52 pm

eleazar wrote:
Krikkitone wrote:I like the basic story idea with one key exception

This should not necessarily affect the Race's backstory

Some races got some type of precursor contact to obtain starlane travel
Some races figured out starlane travel on their own
Some races had starlane travel before the game starts (their empires collapsed due to some event, precursor caused in some cases, 'natural' in others)

Some races were transfered to their current homeworld and remember it
Some races were created by precursors and know it
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [no precursor involvement at all]
Some races are just like us have been on this world for as long as they can remember [but precursors WERE involved either in transferring them or creating them]
You aren't giving any reasons, just stating an opinion in detail.
The reason is to allow for racial diversity in backstories, both for diversity and fun
eleazar wrote:
In the campaigns, there will be plenty of room to craft specific stories about a species history In all likelihood (assuming the stories are deep and interesting) different campaigns will have somewhat different backstories for the same species. But in a "standard" game it is silly and unnecessary to give the player all this highly varied background and then completely ignore it by starting out each player at the exact same time with the exact same power (excluding possible slight variations in starting tech).
Well I think in a "standard" game, there should be No backstory provided by the game other than "your race prepares to travel the starlanes"

Each race of course has its various "campaign" backstories listed if you look it up in the "galactopedia".
But in a standard game, allow the player's imagination to create that backstory. Especially when playing custom races, the ability of the player to make up their own backstory is an important part of the fun of playing that race.

The 'starting' at the same time at the same tech level... can be put down to chance if the player so chooses, or to the precursors.. improbable, but improbable things do happen.





Otherwise excellent idea in terms of late game challenge/in game story


A few varieties to make the possiblities more interesting

Observers also include Experimenters.. who deliberately alter things... or try and stop 'outside' influences from altering their experiments.... So you might have some of their ships randomly come in to 'add a new variable' ie what if that emperor died, or what if a planet was placed in stasis. They might also Stop 'something interfering'. either other precursors or other lesser races... ie an experimenter Fleet comes to a system and attacks the fleet invading it and then leaves.

so a massive Experimenter Incursion could involve knocking planets back to the stone age (for the purpose of observing their separate development) or a small incursion "depositing" a new Race/empire on a planet, or genetically engineering the inhabitants of a conquered planet into a new species.
They would be a good candidate for an explantion of a standard game setup... they wanted to see what races would win and which would lose..so they interfered in either obvious or subtle ways to get all the races to start at the same level.... towards the end game they have to "clean up the field".. to prepare it for the next experiment/game/competition... also because at that point the experiment is "out of control".

Builders/Engineer Incursions could also be interesting: they could be involved in either building or demolishing for future building of planets/star systems/starlanes... and, well, if you're in the way of the bulldozer.

They might give you time to evacuate, or they might not bother communicating with you at all.


So there would be a variety of results based on what force was attacking

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#27 Post by General_Zaber » Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:43 am

I certainly don't think its finished and there are a number of things from this thread that I'd like added to it but here is a draft for a backstory:

FreeOrion Alternate Backstory Suggestion
(It's a little long so bear with me)

Millions of years ago the galaxy was inhabited by five glorious civilizations This Pentavirate had spent thousands of years putting aside their differences. In the process they had perfected their physical forms, their governments, indeed their very lives. Among their many achievements they had created the Star Lanes and a way of manipulating them. Now however, their increasing number of optimists hoped to combine their peoples and make the last evolutionary leap as one.

The epitome of this dream was The Engine, a colossal machine housed on the planet Orion and built by a multinational pantheon of the Pentavirate’s finest Scientists. Its function would be create a living singularity, an omnipotent guardian to watch over the galaxy and guide the Pentavirate to heights of accomplishment even they had not been capable of envisaging.

On the eve of The Engine’s activation a horrible tragedy befell the Pentavirate. A force of unknown origin and intention simultaneously destroyed the engine and everyone who had ever contributed to it. In an act of desperation the security forces of each member of the Pentavirate descended from their orbital cordon of the planet and arrived at the institution housing the Engine and its operators only to find the walls stained with blood, the remains of the pantheon scattered all over the facility and no trace of who or indeed what had caused it all.

Within days the air of hope surrounding the Engine’s initiation had devolved into a state of extreme tension within the Pentavirate. All their rivalries, suppressed for generations had resurfaced and each superpower openly accuse another of orchestrating the crisis. A mere month after they were to celebrate their union, the Pentavirate collapsed into the most destructive war the galaxy had ever known.

Planets all over the galaxy were virus-bombed, irradiated, converted into grey goo and even outright obliterated and the Pentavirate very nearly succeeded in destroying much more than just themselves and each other. During a brief lull in the war as each side found itself dry of resources to continue fighting, the leaders of the Pentavirate’s races assembled on Orion to negotiate in the hope of finding a way to reverse the damage they had inflicted.

At this convention the Pentavirate finally admitted to each other that their dreams had been shattered and their very galaxy had almost joined them. A solution was proposed by one of the leaders, their galaxy was in ruins, and if their war didn’t destroy them, then in time economic starvation eventually would. The only hope for the races to survive would be to go their separate ways and let time heal the damage they had done, if such a thing was possible. Nearly a century after they had turned on themselves, the Pentavirate once again looked to future that would now be much further away.

As the leader of race left the planet they subtly took one quick look at The Engine. Although it would not happen for many years hence, they knew that The Engine was far too important a prize to forget. One day they would return to claim it, they only hoped their rivals would not come for it first.

The Present

A long time has passed and as the Precursors once believed, the galaxy has indeed rebuilt itself. In a quirk of fate that the ancients would never admit to orchestrating, the galaxy’s Star Lanes have suddenly reopened and a number of new races have suddenly discovered the art of their use. A new age is about to begin for these races, and the elders, now very different to when they were here, are aware of young ones emerging in their old galaxy, but wether they can influence these upstarts to accomplish their agenda, or if the new races forge their own destiny, remains to be seen.
The enemy is retreating! As always, there is no cuteness about them. Dammit

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#28 Post by eleazar » Sat Dec 06, 2008 5:51 pm

Krikkitone wrote:Observers also include Experimenters.. who deliberately alter things... or try and stop 'outside' influences from altering their experiments.... So you might have some of their ships randomly come in to 'add a new variable' ie what if that emperor died, or what if a planet was placed in stasis. They might also Stop 'something interfering'. either other precursors or other lesser races... ie an experimenter Fleet comes to a system and attacks the fleet invading it and then leaves.

so a massive Experimenter Incursion could involve knocking planets back to the stone age (for the purpose of observing their separate development) or a small incursion "depositing" a new Race/empire on a planet, or genetically engineering the inhabitants of a conquered planet into a new species.
They would be a good candidate for an explantion [explanation?] of a standard game setup... they wanted to see what races would win and which would lose..so they interfered in either obvious or subtle ways to get all the races to start at the same level.... towards the end game they have to "clean up the field".. to prepare it for the next experiment/game/competition... also because at that point the experiment is "out of control".
From the outside, i'm not sure the player could tell the difference between the earlier proposed Caretaker incursion and these Experimenters. IMHO all the precursor incursions should be significantly different in tactics and flavor, otherwise it just clutters up the Precursor pantheon.

The Experimenter idea may be better because it provides a reasonable explanation for why they would ultimately try to destroy all players. A Caretaker incursion wouldn't reasonably end that way. I'm not sure that an incursion that ends any other way is a good idea, since the players could just sit it out the whole time and wait for the precursor to leave.
Krikkitone wrote:Builders/Engineer Incursions could also be interesting: they could be involved in either building or demolishing for future building of planets/star systems/starlanes... and, well, if you're in the way of the bulldozer.
The aren't Vogons. ;)

1) I don't want all the Precursors to be involved in deadly incursions into the players galaxy. It makes them all seem like they have nothing better to do than annoy the little guy.
2) Maybe the Hitchhiker's Guide weighs too heavily on my imagination, but having a big end-game confrontation with a mighty alien power that wants to destroy some of your worlds for a construction project seems farcical.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#29 Post by Krikkitone » Sun Dec 07, 2008 5:07 pm

Re: Caretaker/Engineer Incursions... those wouldn't be the big end game ones, but more like the intermediate Antaran attacks, or better yet like Space Ameba attacks (where it toxified your planet)

so only Final Ones (annihilation)/Unified (conquest)/Experimenter (stone aging) type Incursions would work as "end game" scenarios. But the others would be in there near the end game.

It might also be interesting if some of these Incursions aren't detectable... The Experimenters may do any number of strange hidden things before they decide to clean up/start again, the Final ones may secretly seed super plagues, they may instigate wars/political crises, release highly advanced computer viruses, Give deadly weapons to trouble makers (antimatter bomb for Al-Queda, etc.) Dealing with a Precursor, being their 'puppet' should actually have the possibility of being beneficial, so that even a human player could get contacted, and make the decision to take the really risky move of helping a power planning on annihilating all life (in the hopes that you can get enough benefit to stand up to them when they decide to come in full strength.)

*Note on Experimenters... the name implies they are interested in learning... it may just be sport for them...betting on which race will 'win'... so that to them its just a game (you as the player may never actually find out)

One "other type" could be the Dominators... they want power over lesser races for the purpose of having it.... they conquer other races for the purpose of the pleasure of having their boot on the galaxy. So that the end game with them is all races crushed and enslaved. (but you could think about positioning yourself to be their local intermediate overlord)

..Finally of course you wouldn't know for sure which of the precursors you were dealing with, until they really started end game incursions. Some of them might be even interested in "uplift" type ideas, and the massive destructive end game incursion is just a test you have to pass, before they consider you worthy to join them.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#30 Post by eleazar » Sun Dec 07, 2008 6:42 pm

Krikkitone wrote:so only Final Ones (annihilation)/Unified (conquest)/Experimenter (stone aging) type Incursions would work as "end game" scenarios. But the others would be in there near the end game.
That's good. Each is distinct. I think this is the core of precursor-player interaction. Everything else is of secondary importance, (besides seeding the galaxy at startup with interesting stuff.)
Krikkitone wrote:Re: Caretaker/Engineer Incursions... those wouldn't be the big end game ones, but more like the intermediate Antaran attacks, or better yet like Space Ameba attacks (where it toxified your planet)
OK, that makes more sense, though i'm concerned that the Precursors shouldn't be over-used in a game. I don't know if this is too much, but active experimenters are more important.
Krikkitone wrote:It might also be interesting if some of these Incursions aren't detectable... The Experimenters may do any number of strange hidden things before they decide to clean up/start again, the Final ones may secretly seed super plagues, they may instigate wars/political crises, release highly advanced computer viruses,...
An interesting question. IIRC MoO1,2 loudly announced when major things happened in the galaxy, even if the player was on the opposite side of the galaxy. Weather incursions are announced or not should probably depend on if FO adopts something like the GNN or not.
Krikkitone wrote:Give deadly weapons to trouble makers (antimatter bomb for Al-Queda, etc.) Dealing with a Precursor, being their 'puppet' should actually have the possibility of being beneficial, so that even a human player could get contacted, and make the decision to take the really risky move of helping a power planning on annihilating all life (in the hopes that you can get enough benefit to stand up to them when they decide to come in full strength.)
Theoretically i like that idea, though adding precursor diplomacy takes things to a whole new level of complicated
Krikkitone wrote:*Note on Experimenters... the name implies they are interested in learning... it may just be sport for them...betting on which race will 'win'... so that to them its just a game (you as the player may never actually find out)
From the outside i think the experimenters will be most notable for their unpredictability. While we have to know why they are doing stuff so they are consistent, the player won't know specifically. Thus i'd like a name for them that is describes either their unpredictability, or the fact that they modify stuff. Haven't got one yet.
Krikkitone wrote:One "other type" could be the Dominators... they want power over lesser races for the purpose of having it.... they conquer other races for the purpose of the pleasure of having their boot on the galaxy. So that the end game with them is all races crushed and enslaved. (but you could think about positioning yourself to be their local intermediate overlord)
These are functionally similar to the Unifiers, except with a more over-used motivation.
Krikkitone wrote:..Finally of course you wouldn't know for sure which of the precursors you were dealing with, until they really started end game incursions.
Possibly. I imagine at game-start there will be checkboxes for various kinds of possible precursor interaction. If the player wants a game with a Unifier incursion, he can select that, but by default the player won't know. But i think the player should at least have a chance of figuring it out when the earlier incursions occur.

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