Expanding the story

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drek
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Expanding the story

#1 Post by drek » Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:36 am

Hrm, I was pondering: Why do all the races begin the game with about the same amount of tech? What is the nature of starlanes? Where do the space monsters come from? What big plot unfolds as the game progresses?

Possible answers:

==The Arks==
A fleet of spherical probe-like vessels that travel about the galaxy, landing on worlds with sentient races. Each is encoded with a primer on the Pan-Galactic language, and technical specifications of the Starlane Drive.

The Exodus races are those that have discovered an Ark and unlocked its secrets. (the Exodus races == the playable races)

==Pan-Galactic==
The language of the Arks and the Nomads. It is serves as the common trade tongue amid the Exodus races.

==Exodus==
The Arks of the Ancients arrived at the homeworlds of the various Exodus races at roughly the time, sparking the current era of exploration.

==the Confined Age==
Pre-exodus times, before the Arks arrived at the homeworlds of the Exodus races, the stars were out of reach to all save the Nomads.

==Starlanes==
The starlanes are shortcuts between the stars; tunnels that burrow through space-time, much like a wormhole. Scientists speculate that starlanes, unlike wormholes, are probably of artificial origins.

Starlanes openings have been discovered orbiting stars and gas giants. Each has a specific Key frequency required to open the tunnel, broadcast from Starlane Drives.

==Hollow Space==
The starlane tunnels cut through "Hollow Space."

Unlike normal space, Hollow Space is not a hard vacuum. A plasma-like substance dubbed “Phlogiston” (or sometimes “Ether”) fills the starlane tunnels, producing a drag on ships. Beyond the weaving tunnels of phlogiston, there is nothing—a starless, black nothing that nonetheless is not a vacuum.

Oddly, travelers never encounter other ships within Hollow Space, not even ships that entered the same tunnel at the same time. Scientists and philosophers have different theories on this mystery, but in truth, no one knows why this is the case. Ships that lose engine power in a starlane are lost forever—with no clue left as to their fate. Similarly, expeditions sent beyond the tunnels of phlogiston have all disappeared without a trace.

“Ghosts” are a common sight in Hollow Space—indescribably alien entities floating amid the phlogiston, and sometimes just beyond. The ghosts have so far proven utterly intangible and unresponsive, through many psychics claim a feeling of extreme dread in the presence of ghosts.

==Starlane Drives==
Starlane Drives are actually more like transmitters, broadcasting the Keys required to open a starlane tunnel. Conventional engines are used to traverse the tunnel, which weaves though “Hollow Space”.

Starlane Drives are black-boxes—no one has really figured out exactly why they work, though theories abound. The Exodus races gleaned the schematics for Drive construction from the Arks.

==The Ancients==
Little is known of the Ancients, beyond that they probably built the starlanes. Transmissions from the Nomads have referred the homeworld of the Ancients: a place called “Orion 3.”

==The Nomads==
The Nomads patrol the starlanes in a mothership the size of large moon. Hundreds of different sentient species live on the Nomad ship, of every conceivable variety save one: there are no humans.

The Nomads seem to have a policy against interfering with the progress of Exodus races. They answer hails only occasionally and briefly, often speaking in riddles before escaping through a starlane or wormhole. Oddly, the Nomad ship doesn’t necessarily appear at the other side of the starlane or wormhole: the Nomads seem to have an advanced method of traveling through Hollow Space that allows them to navigate beyond the phlogiston tunnels.

No planetside Nomad colonies have been discovered. It is generally believed that there is just one Nomad mothership.

It is thought that many of the “UFO” sightings of the late 20th century were the Nomads, checking up on humanity for unknown purposes. Other races have records of similar encounters during the same time period.

There is little doubt that the Nomads are connected to the Ancients—perhaps they are one in the same, though the Nomads have denied it.

==Cult of Xenos==
The Arks, in addition to technical data, contained the Riddles of Xenos, a quasi-religious philosophy very much like the Zen philosophy of Earth. Among the Exodus races, the Cult of Xenos has arisen, dedicated to solving the Riddles.

The Cult has formed a dogma based on the Riddles, constantly evolving as different ideas concerning the Riddles’ solutions are proposed. The Cult believes that the Ghosts of Hollow Space and the Nomads hold answers to the Riddles: Xenos ships are often lost to the Starlanes, as they pursue Ghosts and the Nomad Mothership.

Backstory notes:
The Nomads are some of the "second class citizens" of the old Orion Empire. Before they leave the confines of Reality for distance, unknowable shores, they’ve sent out the Arks so that the old starlane system of travel (which took the Orions tens of thousands of years to construct) wouldn’t be lost forever, and so the races of the galaxy would have a chance of defending against any Ghost incursions into real space. The Nomads are monitoring the progress of the Exodus races, as well as the reaction of the Ghosts, before leaving on their long journey: though they have no intention on interceding much more than they already have.

Unless a race proves itself worthy of the title "Master of Orion", the Nomads won't be helping when the crap hits the fan:

The Ghosts are the space monsters of the moo games, and the not-so-nice natives of Hollow Space. The Orions more or less cleaned their clock millions of years ago, but in the absence of the Orions, the Hollow Ones are on the rebound. Part way through the game, the ghosts start taking tangible, horrifying forms, exiting the starlanes to munch on the Exodus races.

(it might also be hinted at that the Ghosts are the souls of naughty dead people, that Hollow Space is a Hell dimension, like in the movie Pitch Black. If true, it should only be hinted at, never spelled out.)

In particular, big daddy Ghost is starting to stir: a threat so old that it pre-dates (and out-guns) the ancient Orion empire. Act #1 of big daddy Ghost will be to eat the Nomad mothership. (which previously was skipping around the galaxy, telling riddles and offering minor techs to the Exodus races.)

The Cultists are just a bunch of silly people. Eventually they end up worshipping the Ghosts and serving as their emissaries in real space, sowing political discord amoung the Exodus races. The Riddles themselves (once properly translated) are a clue to the mystery of what exactly happened to the original Orions.

I'm imagining that some empires will take the side of the Ghosts (via being tricked by the cultists) and others will be on the side of the Nomads. Kinda of Shadow/Vorlon thing.

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#2 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Aug 01, 2004 12:10 pm

If starlane drives are black boxes, then can they never be improved upon by research. ( ? )

If starlanes orbit planets, can they appear on a planet's surface, or in a planet?

"tunnels" and missions being "sent beyond" them suggests the ability to manourve while on / in a starlane. I was under the impression that you were not going to be able to turn around or change speed or do anything while on a starlane, until you come out the other side.

I was hoping for some sort of a big "drive coil" apparatus to justify a "charge-up" time before jumping away from a battle, during which energy must be diverted from weapons / shields / movement etc. (rather than a seemingly small black box that just broadcasts a signal)

Ships in a fleet entering a starlane together should be able to see other ships in the same fleet. They could fly close enough together to basically act like one ship if necessary, so not being able to see eachother seems a bit implausible. Rather, it could be just as odd that ships coming in opposite directions never meet... (presumbaly because a separate "tube" is created for each group of ships that enters)

What do you mean by "The Ghosts are the space monsters of the moo games" ?

(And I hope that doesn't mean you don't want to have any "space monsters" that originate from this plane of existance... and around near the start of the game)


A twist is always good... Perhaps the nomads are actually the bad guys, and the ghosts are trying to eliminate them for a good reason... or perhaps the ghosts aren't trying to eliminate them at all, and are being framed. The nomads likely dispersed the starlanes access info in order to win the younger races trust and get them up to speed quicker to help in the battle, but would turn on them after the ghosts are dealt with. The player / younger races might also be given a choices at some point during the game which of the nomads or ghosts to support, if either.

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#3 Post by drek » Sun Aug 01, 2004 8:50 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:If starlane drives are black boxes, then can they never be improved upon by research. ( ? )
Maybe super advanced research, not early game stuff.
If starlanes orbit planets, can they appear on a planet's surface, or in a planet?
I would assume no.
"tunnels" and missions being "sent beyond" them suggests the ability to manourve while on / in a starlane. I was under the impression that you were not going to be able to turn around or change speed or do anything while on a starlane, until you come out the other side.
Perhaps the tunnel only has one exit--the other side. You can't return the way you came. I say it's a type of space that one can travel through so that engine techs that improve speeds in normal space also improve speeds while traveling down the starlanes.
I was hoping for some sort of a big "drive coil" apparatus to justify a "charge-up" time before jumping away from a battle, during which energy must be diverted from weapons / shields / movement etc. (rather than a seemingly small black box that just broadcasts a signal)
The "signal" could be an epic amount of energy, requiring a charge-up before it's dispirsed.
Ships in a fleet entering a starlane together should be able to see other ships in the same fleet. They could fly close enough together to basically act like one ship if necessary, so not being able to see eachother seems a bit implausible. Rather, it could be just as odd that ships coming in opposite directions never meet... (presumbaly because a separate "tube" is created for each group of ships that enters)
Mostly, I just wanted to explain why there'd never any combat in starlanes.
What do you mean by "The Ghosts are the space monsters of the moo games" ?
I mean the space monsters that float around the galaxy in moo2 come from Hollow Space. Any space monsters that pop up in FO would come from Hollow Space.

A twist is always good... Perhaps the nomads are actually the bad guys, and the ghosts are trying to eliminate them for a good reason... or perhaps the ghosts aren't trying to eliminate them at all, and are being framed. The nomads likely dispersed the starlanes access info in order to win the younger races trust and get them up to speed quicker to help in the battle, but would turn on them after the ghosts are dealt with. The player / younger races might also be given a choices at some point during the game which of the nomads or ghosts to support, if either.
The ghosts could have some sympathetic reasons for attacking.

The nomads, in my conception, don't really care so much about the fate of each race--they are just fulfilling an old responsibliy (guarding and maintaining the last of Orion's tech). Since they plan on leaving the known universe, they are essentially creating a situation (and potentially conflict) to test the Exodus races: to determine who's the new Master of Orion.

The nomads (unaware of big daddy ghost monster) are worried that once they are gone there'll be no one to protect the Orion legacy from ghostly revenge--they don't have any fear of the ghosts, and believe they could easily destroy the ghosts that the know about.

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#4 Post by Geoff the Medio » Sun Aug 01, 2004 9:40 pm

drek wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:If starlane drives are black boxes, then can they never be improved upon by research. ( ? )
Maybe super advanced research, not early game stuff.
[...]
I say it's a type of space that one can travel through so that engine techs that improve speeds in normal space also improve speeds while traveling down the starlanes.
Can you suggest any strategy / gameplay reasons for having only late-game research improve starlane speed, or having the same engine techs improve normal and starlane travel? My initial reaction is that it'd be better to have research / build options to improve both, separately, from the start, and at least several times throughout the game, if not almost constantly. It's another interesting strategic tradeoff decision to make, in term of both research priority, and what to put on a given ship.
...suggests the ability to manourve while on / in a starlane. I was under the impression that you were not going to be able to turn around or change speed or do anything while on a starlane, until you come out the other side.
Perhaps the tunnel only has one exit--the other side. You can't return the way you came.
You could still sit in the starlane, just outside the exit, completely hidden and ready to jump out whenever it suits you. (And it can't be something like you don't know where the exit is so have no way of knowing where it will be, as starlanes take a set / known time to travel, so you could just time it).
The "signal" could be an epic amount of energy, requiring a charge-up before it's dispirsed.
It should probably depend on mass of ship as well... or something else such that large ships can't jump away instantly because they have bigger engines.
Mostly, I just wanted to explain why there'd never any combat in starlanes.
Having separate "tubes" per fleet works for this...
What do you mean by "The Ghosts are the space monsters of the moo games" ?
I mean the space monsters that float around the galaxy in moo2 come from Hollow Space.
Is FO set after MOO2 then? There's no mention of MOO3-esque several previous periods of galactic growth/war/dark ages involving the playable races in the backstory.
Any space monsters that pop up in FO would come from Hollow Space.
I strongly dislike that limiting monsters like that. It's fine if some of them (probly a particular kind of really scary / bad / powerful ones) are hollow space monsters / pets of the ghosts, but not all...
The ghosts could have some sympathetic reasons for attacking.
Don't follow your meaning...?
The nomads, in my conception, don't really care so much about the fate of each race--they are just fulfilling an old responsibliy (guarding and maintaining the last of Orion's tech). Since they plan on leaving the known universe, they are essentially creating a situation (and potentially conflict) to test the Exodus races: to determine who's the new Master of Orion.
My only objection is that that's somewhat boring and clichéd... I think it'd be much more interesting if the was significant doubt as to the true motivations of the mysterious / elder races. The "truth" might not even be constant... it could be randomized for each game, so the player empires can't assume one side or the other is the "right" one. Are they guarding / preserving the old knowledge? Are they fighting a cold war and raising puppet states? Do the nomads care about any of the new races, or are they just pawns / tools / means to an end?

Which power to support might be a diplomatic / discussion issue amongst the younger races... or they might worry that one race has grown too much in favour of the nomads, so should be exterminated, lest they get too much advanced tech and get too powerful... but doing so might anger the nomads... or is all that just the influence of the ghosts trying to break up and destroy the fledgling support the nomads are constructing?

I was (also) thinking of Babylon 5, in which the true motivations of the shadows/vorlons became clear(er) at the end (of season 4). If the "truth" is known to the player every game, this is rather less interesting...
The nomads (unaware of big daddy ghost monster) are worried that once they are gone there'll be no one to protect the Orion legacy from ghostly revenge--they don't have any fear of the ghosts, and believe they could easily destroy the ghosts that the know about.
So why don't they?

Also, what's the deal with this:
The answer is deleted by Rantz. It is the fifth X. It is the secret of this project.
at the end of the story background?

Other thought, regarding "The Arks". Perhaps they carry more than (basic?) starlane travel tech and a pangalactic translation guides. Each race would get a (random?) tech, a bit more advanced than they could normally research at the start of the game... (or perhaps something they can't research). A few "lost" arks could be scattered around... damaged due to space storms or being sent to a planet whose inhabitants died out or couldn't decypher the ark's contents (natives on some planet that would have been playable races had they figured things out) or got lost or somesuch... Finding them might be a bit like Civ goody huts / SMAC pods (would keep the number very low though... and would have the effects be distinct from most other types of specials). Also, a playable race might have gotten a defective ark, still managed to learn starlane travel, but not pan-galactic language, so requires some time to learn it to communicate with other races. (This would be a bit like the orion senate in Moo3, but less game-destroying in its long term consequences).

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#5 Post by drek » Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:25 am

The "truth" might not even be constant... it could be randomized for each game, so the player empires can't assume one side or the other is the "right" one.
Random truth might be cool.
believe they could easily destroy the ghosts that the know about.
So why don't they?
Why should they? The ghosts aren't a threat to the nomads, only to the orion legacy once the nomads leave the galaxy. While they could exterminate many of them, they'd never get all of em.
Also, what's the deal with this:
The answer is deleted by Rantz. It is the fifth X. It is the secret of this project.
at the end of the story background?
Ask Aq. I'm not privvy to whatever the big secret is; don't even know if there is a definitive answer in mind already.
Finding them might be a bit like Civ goody huts / SMAC pods (would keep the number very low though... and would have the effects be distinct from most other types of specials).
I was thinking that lost Arks would be like goody huts.

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#6 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Aug 02, 2004 12:56 am

drek wrote:Why should they? The ghosts aren't a threat to the nomads, only to the orion legacy once the nomads leave the galaxy. While they could exterminate many of them, they'd never get all of em.
Exterminating many would probly help out the younger races and lessen the threat to the orion legacy...

Other random story points that could pop up in some games:

-The nomads are the caretakers (which I assume are supposed to be the bookish near extinct race that permeated "the academic and bureaucratic systems of Orion 3)

-The ghosts are a group of exiled nomads. They tried to dig up the secrets of Orion, but a fate similar to that which befell the Orions befell them as well. The same thing happened to the Orions during the Cataclysm, except they were content with the new plane of existance they had moved to, whereas the ghosts were angry and mad and wanted to get back into the galaxy to wreak havok.

-The ghosts are what became of (some of) the orions during the cataclysm.

-The ghosts created the starlanes and created the arks to disseminate information about them.

-The ghosts want to encourage use of the starlanes so that they can possess the crews of ships that enter into them, allowing them to conquer the galaxy.

-The ghosts caused the cataclysm that destroyed the Orions.

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#7 Post by Tyreth » Mon Aug 02, 2004 1:47 am

Geoff the Medio wrote: Is FO set after MOO2 then? There's no mention of MOO3-esque several previous periods of galactic growth/war/dark ages involving the playable races in the backstory.
FO is a separate timeline and universe from the MOO series in order to avoid any legal troubles. It is a new story.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Also, what's the deal with this:
The answer is deleted by Rantz. It is the fifth X. It is the secret of this project.
at the end of the story background?
We are going to develop parts of the story and game content in secret in order to have some fresh elements and a surprise by the 1.0 release. This is part of that.

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#8 Post by Geoff the Medio » Mon Aug 02, 2004 2:09 am

So in that exeprt, you're poking fun at the censoring of MOO3 beta tester reports / posts?

Who's the "we" who are in on the story secrets before 1.0 ?

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#9 Post by Tyreth » Mon Aug 02, 2004 6:47 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:So in that exeprt, you're poking fun at the censoring of MOO3 beta tester reports / posts?
Honestly, I don't understand the reference fully since I didn't follow the development of MOO3.
Geoff the Medio wrote: Who's the "we" who are in on the story secrets before 1.0 ?
Currently the "we" is undecided. When it comes time to develop the story in depth we (the admin) will work out who is going to finalise the story.

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#10 Post by drek » Mon Aug 02, 2004 8:30 am

Honestly, I don't understand the reference fully since I didn't follow the development of MOO3.
In the moo3 forums, whenever somone posted something super-secret, it was editted out and replaced with *deleted by rantz* (the art director turned project manager of moo3). It became an in-joke, and perhaps a bit of a sore point.

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Re: Expanding the story

#11 Post by Satyagraha » Tue Aug 03, 2004 12:45 pm

drek wrote:(it might also be hinted at that the Ghosts are the souls of naughty dead people, that Hollow Space is a Hell dimension, like in the movie Pitch Black. If true, it should only be hinted at, never spelled out.)
i guess you mean Event Horizon? ^^

I like the "hell" idea if the ghosts are the remains of the orion-race, like geoff suggested. during the game, it turns out that instead of turning into etheral, transended shouls,the orions have been morphed into beings that suffer endless pain. driven entirly mad by their torment over the centuries, they start random attacks, hoping someone will finally put an end to their existence.
i think the thought of the once so sophisticated, developed orions being transformed into beasts like this is pretty horrifing.

"big daddy ghost" could be the combined force of the ghosts - originally, all orions would have been fused together into 1 lifeform, but would have remain individuals at the same time. because of the accident, they are now still seperated. but they are learning how to fuse over time. unfortunatly, this only multiplies both their madness and their strengh. big daddy ghost is the creature that will exist if all ghosts fuse - very mad, and very agressive... ghosts would look something like those in the final fantasy movie, but they would be able to merge with each other, turning bigger and bigger (and more evil), and could also split up into an army of small ghosts (maybe even during combat? hurt ghosts fuse before they die?). all in all, the ghosts´ world should be full of chaos, they should at the same time be dangerous, scary and pityfull.

the reason why the nomads don´t want to fight the ghosts could be that they still respect their former masters, even in their current form. they are desperatly looking for a way to "heal" the ghosts and avoid the orion´s mistakes themselves. if they transform themselves before they solve the problem, they would have to share the new dimension/plane of existence with the ghosts/orions in their current form.

the final victory condition would be to reach a tech lvl that allows you to help the nomads with their mission to "fix" the ghosts, and then turn your race into ghosts as well. merging with the orions will create a supreme being that is so powerful that you win the game (maybe they turn into a "god"-state? had to think of the final of akira)

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#12 Post by Krikkitone » Tue Aug 17, 2004 6:33 pm

I don't think there is any need to give all the player races a 'trade language' just have penalties to diplomacy that decrease with continued contact/research. (ie the penalties of Learning the language/making a pidgin)

The issue of all player races having the same level of technolgy is simple. It is that level of technology that makes them player races ('natives' are those with any lower level of technology).

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#13 Post by Impaler » Sat Sep 18, 2004 9:44 am

And interesting Article about the UN-importance of inteligence in Galactic Civalization

http://arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0408/0408521.pdf
Fear is the Mind Killer - Frank Herbert -Dune

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#14 Post by Tyreth » Sun Apr 17, 2005 2:33 pm

Some excellent thoughts here. I've been doing a lot of thinking about the story, because there is a lot that needs to be done for the setting. I want to give something that will allow writers, artists, and game designers a framework to move within so that ideas are more concrete.

One thing I did want to add to this was that I don't see the official campaign having all races start off with an equal footing. Like HoI, EU and Knights of Honor, I don't see a problem with some races starting off with a greater advantage to others. Not much difference, but enough to fit in with the backstory and give us a greater beginnings of a space opera than races struggling with leaving their planet will provide.

Drek, I notice you've tried to work within the current backstory (which I see being modified/improved in some ways in the future). My understanding currently was that when the Orions were destroyed/transcended/something else, the other races still had some systems colonised. Just not many. They weren't detached from other races, but were instead in communication and had some technology and means of their own. I understand that these races make up the nomads - so in your story, who are the Exodus races? Those who weren't a part of the Orion empire and the areas it explored? Or outcasts/forgotten colonies of the Nomads from centuries ago? may have missed that in your story.

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#15 Post by trioted » Sun Jul 03, 2005 7:35 am

the exodus races are natives that understood the ark(s) or developed on there own to reach a playable level of technology.

i think why fleets cant just time it is that the time to travel a starlane from the ships perspective varies (1 hour to 14 days).
the time distorstion renders separate ships unable to meet each other untill they exit (at the same time)

also any ships that tried to stop moving or turn around vanished (ghost victems?)

i think there should be other groups of elders like colecters which colect native races and sell them to the exodus races in 1mil units (native races give usefull bonuses the higher % of your pop the better the bonus)

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