Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

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

#46 Post by Krikkitone » Sun Mar 01, 2009 12:37 am

Well I actually think that the backstory as proposed detracts from gameplay in the standard mode. Given the things proposed

Everyone is at at the same level of technology.. because of the obelisks
1.. why should a standard game start with everyone at the same level...some of your "race picks" should be spendable on starting at a slightly higher/lower level than the standard
2...the reason all players are at the same level of technology is that they are players... if they were much lower they would be natives.. the set of "players" is the set of all powers that reached approximately the same level of technology by this point in time.


Everyone knows about "Pan-Galactic" because of the obelisks
1... Why should everyone start out able to speak with no misunderstandings?.. perhaps it should take a while of 'learning' about someone before you can propose diplomacy. That time might be a fraction of a turn when two of your ships/planets meet and decide to talk instead of shooting each other... use basic mathematical concepts and work your way up... you should have people with cryptography/decoding skills equal to at least what we have today.


The Builders put the Starlanes in place
Why can't the starlanes be natural? or natural as far as you know?

Starlane travel is undevelopable without outside help
Why.. what is wrong with, we happened to discover it.



Now Artifacts Do need an explanation, but that is explained by the existence of the Precursors.
Having Precursor Incursions is explained by Precursors.

The fact that your race is reaching out into space now does not need a mysterious obelisk, unless we decide it does... and that limits the players own "backstory feel".

In a 4x, especially if there are customizable races, then no backstory is needed beyond what the player's mind provides.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#47 Post by Bigjoe5 » Sun Mar 01, 2009 7:55 pm

It looks like I'm going to have to argue against both extremes here.:shock:

Yes eleazar, you are right, this is quite different than a silly fighting game, but basic concepts of how to implement different modes of play still apply. Simply because the standard mode is the "Normal" way to play doesn't mean that it should have a story attached to it. In fact, just the opposite is true. If the campaign mode is essentially a type of story mode, it makes sense for the standard mode to have significantly less of a story.

Krikkitone is right when he says that forcing the players to have achieved space flight because of these black boxes reduces the potential for interesting race backstories. The simplest explanation as to why things are the way they are is that the Experimenters placed all the races there, possibly with slight variations to the race, and brainwashed them to make them think that they evolved on that planet so that they could observe their development and conflicts. The Builders made all the starlanes, the Caretakers made all the Gaia planets.

We can save the real story for the campaign mode, which takes place in the original galaxy of (most of) the player races (the Experimenters might be introducing some species).

Now, as for Krikkitone's concerns, first of all, I think everyone should be at whatever tech level they're at because the Experimenters made it that way. All alterations to a race, including possible tech bonuses/maluses can be said to be the work of the Experimenters (though I don't think we should allow variations in tech level in the player's picks. Could be some balancing issues there).

All races can communicate with each other instantly because the game is more fun that way, not because of any realistic solution we come up with (though we could come up with such a solution if need be). Really, having my diplomacy options limited in the early game doesn't strike me as adding any fun to the game.

The Builders put the starlanes in place so that they con come in and build more starlanes as a precursor incursion. Races would have to fight off the builders if they didn't want that starlane being built.

Essentially, it has to have a very simple backstory, but not no backstory at all, otherwise the events that could make the game more fun and interesting won't make sense when they occur. If the story is too complicated on the other hand, it detracts from the specialness of the campaign mode.
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#48 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:50 am

Bigjoe5 wrote: Simply because the standard mode is the "Normal" way to play doesn't mean that it should have a story attached to it. In fact, just the opposite is true. If the campaign mode is essentially a type of story mode, it makes sense for the standard mode to have significantly less of a story.

Essentially, it has to have a very simple backstory, but not no backstory at all, otherwise the events that could make the game more fun and interesting won't make sense when they occur. If the story is too complicated on the other hand, it detracts from the specialness of the campaign mode.
Well there I think it depends as to what "special events" will always take place in any 'standard' game.

Precursors would not be one of those events (presuming the standard game had options for that)

so anything about starlanes/Gaia planets/races being built by precursors is only reasonable if the Precursors are in that game. [Artifacts require some type of 'precursor'... but that could just be the last galactic empire]

so "Backstory" would go into the 'galactopedia' entry on "Precursors".. with a bunch of ..believed to.. type statements. [the player would know if they'd enabled precursors or not for this game, so if they haven't, then the 'precursors' description is what crazy kooks in their empire think... the same ones that believe that worlds are actually flat and we are all a simulation in a computer]

Same thing with "Artifacts"
or
"Space Monsters"

Those are things that, because they force the backstory in a particular way, and could be removed without major game mechanics changes..especially if we have "anomalies" as well as "artifacts" that do something similar ie boost science.. but in a different way, should be 'options' in the standard game menu.

Instant resource distribution, no FTL travel outside of starlanes, these are major game mechanics concepts and therefore should have no real "game options" as to their presence or absence... as well as technobabble/backstory elements to explain them... however, as such the explanations should probably be generic.

ie If Precursors are enabled in a particular game, then it is possible for builders to build starlanes... it is also possible that starlanes might Have occurred naturally [man can build rivers... that doesn't mean all rivers are man-made].


Essentially, you don't need backstory for a standard game, except as a ... some people believe....
You do want a justification of the mechanics...ie If Precursors will come in and build starlanes.. make sure that is listed as something Precursors might do ... but that doesn't mean that one should say that's how it Was done.


as for somethings specifically, ie the need to actually do something to advance diplomacy/espionage or the possibility of starting at different tech levels in a standard game. I think that if those look like they would add to gameplay, then they should be able to be added without any story standing in the way for standard play.

Each "Intro" to the standard play would be very basic... your people are going to the stars

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#49 Post by Tortanick » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:43 am

Krikkitone wrote:so "Backstory" would go into the 'galactopedia' entry on "Precursors".. with a bunch of ..believed to.. type statements. [the player would know if they'd enabled precursors or not for this game, so if they haven't, then the 'precursors' description is what crazy kooks in their empire think... the same ones that believe that worlds are actually flat and we are all a simulation in a computer]
I think the pedia (Hichhikers guide to Orion maybe) should be written to assume that you've enabled precursors/ect for this game rather than try to be applicable even if you've turned them off. Its probably best to try and sync it up with the story mode rather than any other mode in terms of fluff, while gameplay effects should probably be based on what happens in multiplayer. Any gametype / campaign that changes that should have a built in description of changed rules.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#50 Post by Krikkitone » Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:42 pm

Tortanick wrote: I think the pedia (Hichhikers guide to Orion maybe) should be written to assume that you've enabled precursors/ect for this game rather than try to be applicable even if you've turned them off. Its probably best to try and sync it up with the story mode rather than any other mode in terms of fluff, while gameplay effects should probably be based on what happens in multiplayer. Any gametype / campaign that changes that should have a built in description of changed rules.
Well for the 'fluff', ie backstory, I disagree, for a couple reasons
1. Its very easy for the 'fluff' to be flexible.. as I mentioned "believed to". Precursors can easily be described as "legendary" whether they are in the game or not [whether the term means fictional or far beyond normal is the players choice]
2. It provides that extra layer of immersion based on the player's choice of immersion. This allows the Player to tell a story they are participating in, as opposed to merely participating in someone else's story [as they would in the story mode].

I do agree for gameplay... a key thing for the pedia.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#51 Post by Schmoopy » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:16 am

I like the idea of the monoliths teaching space flight. It leaves a lot of mystery and a lot to expand on.

It could even provide a reason for why all the races come into conflict, and the ultimate objective of the game.

Say that on each monolith, in addition to the schematics, there is a message that is decoded and completely incomprehensible. Only by gathering all of your opponent's monoliths could the second half be decoded. The message would be the history of the benevolent precursors, explaining how they seeded life onto each of the planets, and how proud they are that their child races have "cast aside their differences in order to unite and combine their knowledge" (depending on how the player won-diplomacy or conquest-this could be either touching or ironic).

WHY: Let's say that they're on the run from the malevolent precursors, and in order to give their children a fighting chance, they taught them spaceflight to defend themselves, then moved on to another galaxy to give the same gift to its children.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#52 Post by Tortanick » Sat Jun 13, 2009 9:57 am

You know, aliens or not they're still people. With a few exceptions they don't need monoliths to fight, they'll do it anyway.
Krikkitone wrote:1. Its very easy for the 'fluff' to be flexible.. as I mentioned "believed to". Precursors can easily be described as "legendary" whether they are in the game or not [whether the term means fictional or far beyond normal is the players choice]
I tell you what, if it turns out we're having trouble makeing the pedia fit with options we'll worry about it, if not we wont.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#53 Post by The BlackHole » Sat Jun 13, 2009 6:50 pm

heh that's a good idea I could see myself finding a new type of ballistics on a crashed ship or new stealth technology or shielding, but specifically how advanced are we talking here? I mean are they like the lost powers of the universe and have to depend on these finds to gain the advantage in conventional warfare? or can you develop you own special technology to your advantage?
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#54 Post by Skaro » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:39 pm

So, has there been any resolution to this thread about what the story will be?
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#55 Post by Aussie Mick » Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:29 am

Cognitive Limiters - a Precursor tech.

Scientists and historians of all races have wondered why all races started to develop about the same time. With evolutionary histories millions of years long, why did the accents to sentience come so close together? With species history hundreds of thousands of years long why did technological revolutions come so close to together? The odds against two species out of say 100 achieving spaceflight within 50 years are astronomical, yet we have (insert number of player and non-player races) achieving it within 10 years. The reason is that prior to this time above each planet there was a cognitive limiter which suppressed understanding of certain advanced concepts. Some years before the current explosion of starflight in this galaxy each race saw a bright flash in their sky and strange metal fell to the ground, many pieces had "Now you are free." burned into them in local language.

There are signs that CLs have been inflicted on player-level races before, perhaps several times.

Possible makers/destroyers of the CLs:

A) An empire accessible with difficulty from here that doesn't want to either expand or deal with competition. It might be too big to control easily already and survive only by limiting the technology used in their own empire. If the races in this galaxy expand technologically and physically they will eventually contact the empire, and not having limited their technology will conquer the empire. Why they didn't simply nuke the site from orbit is another matter.
A1) The emperor did order genocide but a disloyal faction decided to fake the genocides and keep the races around to create a crisis they could exploit centuries in the future. Maybe said faction is still around maybe it's a footnote in a 50,000 year old book.
A2) Nobody is allowed access to military equipment in the empire until they've been mentally programmed to never commit genocide.
A3) The empire needs the occasional easy war to keep solidarity in the empire high. By simply breaking the CLs above a particular race and waiting until they have a minor empire they have a ready-made punching bag. What the empire thinks about all the CLs going off at once is another thing.
A4) The empire thinks it might need the help of dynamic civilizations in the future, since it definitely isn't one.

B) Several empires have declared this galaxy a neutral zone not to be settled by any spaceflight-capable races. This is to stop a native race from developing an empire and allying with one of them thereby bringing this galaxy back into play. Possibly it is the only practical invasion route to and from each of them.

C) The various player-level races all lost wars with a vast star empire and agreed to go back to their home world and submit to a CL. This assumes that there is enough trust in the empire to believe that they won't simply nuke them from orbit once they do this. Perhaps the empire needs other races to believe in it's promises of mercy because it's can't afford to fight wars to the death. Not sure if player-level races actually remember this past history.

D) Some race wants more time to observe other races in a primitive state, so it put the CLs up.

E) By putting CLs up and blowing them up at the same time some people get to watch a great fight. Gladiator games on a galactic scale.

Possible destroyers:
1> Rebels want to distract the empire with a foreign policy problem it can not deal with well. They may even hope the player-level races become allies in the revolt. For A) and C).
2> Empire thinks it needs a war in a few dozen turns, time to blow up the CLs. Can be combined with 1> if the empire only wanted to blow up some of them. For A)
3> Treaties making the galaxy a neutral zone have collapsed. War between the supertech empires is imminent or happening. For B)
4> The empire thinks it needs those dynamic civilizations to deal with some threat. For A)
5> Player level races have served their time under a CL and are free to develop again. For C)
6> Fight! Fight! Fight! For E)
7> Supertech empire who wishes to remain anonymous wants to cause trouble for supertech empires bordering this galaxy. For A), B), C) and D)

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#56 Post by eleazar » Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:20 am

Skaro wrote:So, has there been any resolution to this thread about what the story will be?
There's been no discussion outside this thread (that i know of). It's not top priority right now.

Aussie Mick wrote:Cognitive Limiters - a Precursor tech.
....

Possible makers/destroyers of the CLs:
...

Possible destroyers:
....
So are you just laying out a bunch of ideas related to the Cognitive Limiter, or are you suggesting that randomly a maker and destroyer is chosen for each game and it has some impact on things?

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#57 Post by Aussie Mick » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:47 am

eleazar wrote:
Skaro wrote:So, has there been any resolution to this thread about what the story will be?
There's been no discussion outside this thread (that i know of). It's not top priority right now.

Aussie Mick wrote:Cognitive Limiters - a Precursor tech.
....

Possible makers/destroyers of the CLs:
...

Possible destroyers:
....
So are you just laying out a bunch of ideas related to the Cognitive Limiter, or are you suggesting that randomly a maker and destroyer is chosen for each game and it has some impact on things?

The first but if you want the precise background to be randomly determined each game that's fine by me. In fact it was my suggestion.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#58 Post by Bigjoe5 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:04 pm

I don't object to brainstorming about how the various species' "ascent to sentience" all came at the same time, but I'm still convinced that for the main game (not the campaign mode), "the Experimentors did it" is all we need to know.

In fact, I would suggest that this be the entire premise of the main mode, and instead of being called "Skirmish Mode" or whatever, it should be called the "Experiment" mode. Perhaps the player even takes on the role of one of the experimentors, who are engaged in one big game of chess involving the FO species. This could make a good excuse for various interesting rule modifications:

- the basic ruleset, which I would expect to be by far the most common way to play: each Experimentor chooses a race, makes secret modifications to its genetic make-up if desired, then they all get placed in a random galaxy, with each Experimentor acting as head of government for his empire. No outside support can be brought in by the Experimentors involved, though other precursors, including Experimentors who have no attachment to the experiment can still come in and affect things, depending on the rules which the Experimentors agreed upon at the start of the experiment.

- capture the flag/chess: each empire starts with a mighty Experimentor ship, in addition to the basic colony/scouts. An empire is eliminated when his Experimentor ship is destroyed/captured. Perhaps there is some escape mechanism so that the Experimentor controlling the ship isn't killed when his ship is destroyed, or perhaps he dies as the natural consequence of a failed experiment. We may never know.

- non-affiliation ruleset: each Experimentor starts only with a big Experimentor ship, and has to try to capture and use the various indegenous species around the galaxy - some of whom might be "player species" - and use them to defeat his enemies' big Experimentor ships.

- and other types of rules are no doubt possible.

Essentially, the player only actually controls a "player species" in the campaign mode. In Experiment mode, the player might have player species in his possession, but he himself is actually playing as an Experimentor.
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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#59 Post by MikkoM » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:38 pm

Bigjoe5 wrote:I don't object to brainstorming about how the various species' "ascent to sentience" all came at the same time, but I'm still convinced that for the main game (not the campaign mode), "the Experimentors did it" is all we need to know.
This immediately makes me want to ask at least two questions. Why they did it? And how they did it? I at least personally expect to get some sort of backstory in the "main game" too (assuming of course that the main game means the "classic" one colony and a few ships kind of approach) that explains why things in the galaxy are as they are, when the game starts.
Krikkitone wrote: Everyone is at at the same level of technology.. because of the obelisks
1.. why should a standard game start with everyone at the same level...some of your "race picks" should be spendable on starting at a slightly higher/lower level than the standard
2...the reason all players are at the same level of technology is that they are players... if they were much lower they would be natives.. the set of "players" is the set of all powers that reached approximately the same level of technology by this point in time.
If the technological differences between the species in the main game are very big, as a result of racial picks or something else, then the game will more than likely be quite unbalanced as technology gives big benefits to some species. But if the differences on the other hand are relatively small, they can easily be fitted in even with the idea of monoliths. The different species could have been doing all sorts of different things on their homeworlds before the monoliths fell, and thus have different kinds of techs.

The real problem that these future playable species had can be the complex star lane travel as mentioned below.
eleazar wrote::The game opens when a "monolith" falls the the surface of all the playing species' homeworlds. When deciphered, it provides the secret to Star-lane travel, something so mathematically arcane, that they otherwise could not expect to discover it for millennia.
Also, can`t the campaign mode be more about known issues, like races that have a shared past fighting against each other etc., where as the main game would be more about unknown issues that can either be solved or not, like the Precursors that are gone and the stuff that they left behind.

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Re: Alternate Backstory (with an eye toward Gameplay)

#60 Post by Bigjoe5 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:11 am

MikkoM wrote:
Bigjoe5 wrote:I don't object to brainstorming about how the various species' "ascent to sentience" all came at the same time, but I'm still convinced that for the main game (not the campaign mode), "the Experimentors did it" is all we need to know.
This immediately makes me want to ask at least two questions. Why they did it? And how they did it? I at least personally expect to get some sort of backstory in the "main game" too (assuming of course that the main game means the "classic" one colony and a few ships kind of approach) that explains why things in the galaxy are as they are, when the game starts.
Yeah, "main game" means "classic mode". As for why they did it and how, well:

1. They're the Experimentors
2. They're the Experimentors

The Experimentors are a precursor civilization with incredible power and insatiable curiosity. A better set of questions would be "Why wouldn't they do it?" and "Why wouldn't they be able to do it?"

Also, "the Experimentors did it" makes more sense from a story perspective. Since the classic mode will have different starting conditions and a different end each time, it makes sense to assume that it's because it's not the same scenario each time. Instead, the Experimentors have lots of different experiments in all sorts of different galaxies. "The Experimentors try out lots of different scenarios in lots of different galaxies" is a lot easier to swallow than "These monoliths all landed on every player's world at the exact same time. And this happens over and over again in an incalculable number of galaxies. Huh."

This is in contrast to the campaign mode - since the starting conditions and the victory conditions are always the same for a particular campaign, it makes sense to say that it's the same events, and the player is just replaying them over again. You can't reasonably say that every time the player plays classic mode, it's the same events that he's playing over and over again. It's because of the inherent variety between different classic mode games that having a detailed story for it doesn't make any sense at all. The story mode is for the story, and the story should likewise be for the story mode.
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