Saturday, December 22, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Laran Darkwatch, The Final Heretic

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Laran Darkwatch is the most promising member of the Final Church of Man. He's quickly risen in the ranks keeping hidden his desire to explore a puzzling aspect of the church's tenets. The church is founded on the doctrine of the Final Truth, which comes from six Holy Text Files that interprets the Perfect Truth learned by the Founders. It begins, in the original, "Preface to the Seven Text Files of the Final Church of Man."
This inconsistency drives Laran to search for the Seventh Text File. His search leads him to believe that only among the stars, Beyond the Boundary, will he find it.

However, space exploration is strictly forbidden by his teachings. Continuing his search will leave him branded a heretic... that is, unless he succeeds in finding the Missing Holy Text File. He falls into an uneasy sleep after his superiors all but forbid him to search any further.
All characters have this dream, but Laran is the only one to make direct mention of it after the fact.
Working in secret, Laran makes plans to leave. He uses his high rank to influence preparations. Boarding his newly minted ship, the Jihad, he sets off to explore the stars. Destination: Cathedral, birthing and final docking place of the Founder's ship, the Archangel, as well where the Final Church of Man was founded.

I considered pushing Laran to the end of the character list, as there's much more intrigue and lore developed through this story than any other. However, since I'd just played as Laran, I wanted to keep things fresh in my mind rather than possibly have to replay later. In addition to all the above, we get an introduction to the founding of the church.
Cathedral is found much like other Ghost Worlds, but it's the farthest planet printed with a name on the map. All other characters land here with the same options; however, Laran, dressed in priestly robes, is greeted in a much different fashion at the rundown church.
With a new destination in mind, I get back to exploring unknown planets. There's nothing new on Cathedral, neither the ruins or the stripped down Archangel offer new insight. It takes me quite a while to find Cordethar, but to summarize, not much happens in the interim. I steadily collect all the equipment watching my score carefully to track what's beneficial and what's not.

The introduction is a bit new, but only touches on the excitement of reaching one of my goals. I find a memory module left behind by the Founders. I'm met with disappointment as I find the text is encrypted. I'm forced to concede that this may be the only evidence to find, but with hope that it contains the Final Text, I head back to the Nine Worlds.

There's also a small golden cube about five centimeters on a side, the only obvious effect when I carry it is a very noticeable halo. This actually doesn't appear in the inventory, so I can only assume this is for flavor.

Back on the Nine Worlds I learn my fate. A crowd is expectantly gathered to learn it as well. The Lord Highest Disciple, Efrigath, meets me to assess the situation. I hand over the memory module on his word that no matter what it contains, I receive an unedited version of the decoded message. He reluctantly agrees, and it's a few days of nervous anticipation before his return.
With news that it's not the Holy Text, and instead a message to continue my exploration, I head to the remaining unknown planets. My last stop is Outpost, which I easily overcome with all the equipment at my disposal. Golgotha beckons me... next game.

Final Score: 4890
Turn: 300
* * * * * * *
So, the score seems to be calculated as follows:

Cargo Bays (ship + drones) * 10 [Total possible: 220]
Land on New Planet * 20 [Total possible: 800]
Standard Cargo * 1
Special Cargo * 5
Standard Equipment * 10 [Total possible: 500] (Some equipment is worth 0: Inertia Control Belt, Little Puce Alien, Ninchuckle, Poisoning, and Skin Armor)
Specially Built Equipment * 50 [Total possible: 200] (This includes: Super Space Suit, Ship Shield Generator, Technology Nullifier, and Universal Translator)

Plot Related
Discover Gazan + 100
Read Captain's Log on Gazan + 100
Receive Star Maps + 150
Get Flame Jewel + 750
Build Tri-axis Drive + 750
Beat Silverbeard on Outpost + 250
Reach the End + 300

Beyond the above, there are character specific points gained from completing their main quest. I'm not completely sure how this breaks down, but they all seem to add up to approximately another 800 points (Laran has 770). With cargo bays full of specialty cargo, I could get Laran up to the purported maximum of 5000 points, but there doesn't seem to be any benefit. I looked at the the import process to the second game, and it asks you to choose what equipment you had (from a limited selection) instead of importing from a save game. There doesn't seem to be any negative consequences for lying.

Lastly, I've tried to determine a pattern to discovered worlds. I believe it's too random to map out a turn by turn account for what planet will appear based on the landing turn; however, the planet choice seems to be limited to groups: early planets, mid-game planets, and late-game planets. I think the best I'll be able to do is come up with the groupings.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Clerc, Beyond the Senses

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Jean G. Clerc has a dream. Spaceship design has languished behind the Boundary. Why should new horizons be sought when space exploration means exile? This question has dissuaded many, but not Jean. He's taking his first steps to build his dream ship, which is equipped with Photon Torpedoes, a Tractor Beam, and a Ship Shield Generator. I think someone's been watching Star Trek.

Eager to dive into the unknown, to face the void of space, Clerc "borrows" a space freighter from his employer. He christens it, the Run Amok. Unsure of where to find the equipment he seeks, Jean heads towards Crater and then to Wellmet. Using my previous notes, I find the Photon Torpedoes waiting for me on Moiran, pick up the 3-bay drone from Crater, and head off into the unknown.

Luck is with me as I quickly find Baphi. It's here we learn about the Ship Shield Generator, although it can be built without learning how to do so just by entering the correct action code (and having all commodities to build it). Two planets later I crash into Hemindore. Without any mobility enhancements on my ship, it seems I need to take 3 phases (days) to conduct repairs, but I'm still able to explore the planet. Here I pickup the Auxiliary Rockets and Tractor Beam.

I circle round the top of the Fringe, collect some personal equipment, further ship enhancements, and Phase Steel--Phase Steel and Warp Core are two rare ingredients for the Ship Shield Generator. After exploring the upper left third of the map, I head back to the ghost worlds to pick up some more equipment. The next planet after this pit stop is Fiyar, a source of Warp Core.

I quickly assemble the Ship Shield Generator, receive the congratulatory message, and wonder what's next for this intrepid adventurer. I've always thought Clerc's goal lacked deep motivation. It seemed more material than the others. Back on the Nine Worlds, I head home to Norstar. Here I wonder if I'm ready to settle down at all. While contemplating my decision to come back to the life I left behind, I'm approached to explore further by the Institute for Space Exploration. Their ultimate goal, a jump engine capable of supporting instantaneous travel for living organisms.

Inspired by the idea of teleportation, Clerc turns down the offer to build upon the technology he's discovered, but leaves plans behind so others can follow that path. The I.S.E. suggests the technology is found in the Galactic Arm, beyond the planet Outpost. You know what that means... the Tri-Axis Drive Booster is my next goal. I'm given the Flame Jewel, the crucial piece for creating the drive.

I've already collected a Gradient Filter, and need to seek out the second source of Warp Core, the planet Ethnar. I finally find it within the last 5 planets to explore. With all parts, I set to creating the drive.
I find Clerc lacking additional plot points. Stoneseeker had an intricate plot that's left me wanting to know more. Clerc, and I suppose Dambroke as well, have little additional plot that isn't laid out for others to find. I expect Darkwatch to explore a lot more of the back story. In fact, exploring Rialla and their life safe jump engine technology doesn't provide any special dialogue even though this is exactly what my character is seeking.

I stop by Dargen to get the final dialogue of the Brotherhood, and the Darthan ability that helps me overcome the defenses of Vanessa Chang's ship on Gazan. Here I collect the Hyperbeam, which is one of the most powerful weapons for the battle on Outpost. I considered getting the Technology Nullifier as well, but decided to give the final battle a shot to see where exactly I was lacking. I ended up winning.
Once again, I arrived much earlier than my previous play. This seems to have increased the strength of my equipment in this final battle. As an example, the Ship Shield Generator for Dambroke had 29, 45 for Stoneseeker, and 56 for Clerc. This is the only fight that has large differences. Two thoughts here, it could depend on the turn count, or be based on the combination of equipment.

Final Score: 4292
Turn: 181

* * * * * * *
For this play through, I started tracking points and how those are earned. I haven't completely mapped all possible points, but it seems fairly straightforward. Points come from number of cargo bays, commodities, planets discovered, equipment, and goals met. The random back story and plot doesn't seem to add any additional points, although I haven't explored everywhere yet.

It wasn't until I started playing this game again that I realized Jean G Clerc's name wasn't Cleric. No wonder I always confused this character with Darkwatch (the religious heretic). Looking into the name, I found it might be based off Laurent Clerc, who studied under Jean Massieu, but that could be just coincidence. It makes me curious where the other names have interesting origins.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - I Am Stone Bearer

With foreknowledge from previous play sessions, I plot a course to take me to the known planets, collecting some weapons and armor along with an extra cargo bay and the 3-bay drone. Satisfied in my preparation, I fire off towards sector 133-G, Frog Leg Nebula Astroid-1 (FLN-1). Ignoring all other stops, I come to orbit FLN-1 fairly early in my journey.

As soon as I arrive, I pick up the radio signal I read from my aunt's last note. It closely matches the cryptic patterns in Verse 5 of my tribe's Ancient Writings. To think, my aunt was so close to finding the stone, and now I anticipate to finish what all Stoneseekers have quested for in no less than a year.

Arriving at FLN-1, I discovered a barren asteroid. The signal was coming from deep within. After some searching I found a hatch, shut, frozen. Guess I'll just have to blast it open.

I turned my weapons systems on the hatch, blowing it right open. Beyond the hatch I found a tunnel. As I headed down, I thought back on the generations that came before me, and how close I am to discovering what each of them sought. It felt a little too easy.

At the end of the long passage, the floor leveled off, and I found myself on an alien ship. The radio signal was accompanied by high levels of radiation. The source of both is beyond the door to the captain's quarters. Radiation is too high for me to enter without a Super Space Suit. Looks like I'll need to explore a bit more.
Attempting to build a Super Space Suit out of thin air.
Partially defeated, I head off into the unknown in search of a space suit able to withstand the intense radiation. Once again, using my knowledge of the game, I know that Corbis is an easy source of Super Slip. The Primordial Soup can be retrieved from Bugeye. In my search, I land on other planets to collect some quick abilities, equipment, and cargo. Eventually, I'm able to build the Super Space Suit.

Wearing my new suit, I head straight back to FLN-1. Inside, I find a reptilian alien staring at me with glazed eyes, around his neck... the Core Stone!
Using the Flexion Glove, I retrieve the stone. I've completed the hardest part of my quest; now I must get back. Instead of heading back directly, I take some time to explore other planets in search of the components for the tri-axis drive. I know this is next after returning to my people. I'm lucky enough to find Fiyar, and gain an easy Warp Core. The last item I need is a Gradient Filter, which I end up getting after returning to Atlantis.

Upon my arrival, I'm greated with such jubilence that I regret my feeling that I want to leave again. The elders suggest I must take on the next step of my quest with the stone. It was always planned that the person to find the stone must also find its purpose. I must head towards the galactic arm, beyond the fringe, where the stone was found by Soulsinger. My next step, build a Tri-Axis Drive Booster.

I run a quick smuggling mission from Wellmet, re-enter the Nine Worlds, and am rewarded with a Gradient Filter. I then build the extra drive, and am ready to continue my journey into the arm. The only obstacle left is the planet Outpost. Just for fun, I head right over and can't even get through the first set of defenses.

It seems I don't quite have the fire power yet, so I gather the Hyper Beam, Technology Nullifier, and Ship Shield Generator. This with my other equipment is enough to see me through. Once again I reach the end of the first game. I'm going to spend some time exploring the planets to see what else I can find, but I don't expect anything more to appear for Corin.

Final Score: 4445
Turn: 290

* * * * * * *

I'm still learning much about Star Saga and how much is taken into account. While exploring, I've tried to jump plot points since I know the hidden actions. Some are always available without learning the action codes first hand. Here's what I've learned this time through:
  • Any of the codes for building items are always available.
  • Digging up the grave of Vanessa Chang's crew member on Koursh is locked because my character doesn't know the location to dig.
  • However, finding Vanessa Chang's lost ship on Gazan doesn't require learning about it on Koursh, and doesn't require knowing High Darscian. So long as the automated defenses can be handled, this is definitely a good early stop for the Hyper Beam and 8-Bay Drone.
  • Using a location based action code is not possible if your character isn't there.
  • Using a build code without all the items will fail.
  • Actions can fail completely, especially when the action is not repeatable, but is selected multiple times.
  • The smuggling mission from Wellmet can only be started if your character has breached the boundary.
  • The bomb on Arthlan that I avoided with levitation will also be avoided if the character has Whurffling (fore-sight). I'll get a character to trigger it at some point if it's possible.
  • So far, my character hasn't died, and I wonder how hard it really is to find the game over screen alluded to in the manual. I have a feeling it's much easier to die in the second game.
  • Exploring a location once isn't always enough. After the Swamp Monster on Organu is defeated, it's possible to encounter a Big Swamp Monster, which is tougher. I wonder how many similar locations exist.
  • Even though I had the same equipment in the final battle, the values for each one was a little different. Could it be that arriving early meant the defenses weren't built up as much? I'll have to look into this a bit more.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - I Am Stoneseeker

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Corin Stoneseeker is the latest in a long line of people that have sought out the Core Stone. This stone was originally found by an explorer known as Soulsinger. According to legend, the stone granted him immortality, and with the stone he would bring ever lasting peace to humanity. On his way home, he was attacked and killed by an alien, a Clathran. His son vowed to find the stone and return it to Atlantis (one of the Nine Worlds); he was the first Stoneseeker.

Twenty generations have passed, each one with a Stoneseeker setting out for the stone. Corin, now 18, will embark on the Quest and gains the title of Questor. He's provided a ship by his people. His first step, cross the Boundary, will begin tomorrow.
Corin's Ship, the Quest's End, foreshadows Corin's destiny
His sleep is uneasy, and he dreams the same dream Prof. Dambroke did; he thinks nothing of it though. In much the same way, he crosses the boundary, although his first destination is different. The planet Bugeye, more specifically Director Colmaris, will provide his first clue.

Colmaris is anxiously waiting to greet Corin, and appears to have been a close friend of his aunt, Cathir the 19th Questor. From Colmaris, he receives his aunt's inheritance: a silver pendant, a flexion glove, and a couple notes. The first describes the use of the flexion glove. Its protective material is the only thing capable of containing the radiation given off by the stone.

The second note mentions the Frog Leg Nebula recently started to broadcast a signal. Inside the ancient texts is something that matches the signature of this signal, and the story goes that the creature who stole the stone escaped in a ship broadcasting this same message.

I get a location, 133-G, which is beyond my star maps, so I make my way to Wellmet, known for expert traders and smugglers. Here I pick up the fabled star maps of Vanessa Chang. Inside, I find the location of 133-G.

Could it really be this easy?

*  *  *  *

That's the introduction and first 5 turns of Corin Stoneseeker, my favorite character when I played this as a kid. I'm not sure if it was the green cover, the quest description, or the name that attracted me most, but I always chose him. It's good to come back to this and relive the story. I actually don't remember any conclusion. If it's anything like Dambroke I'll find the stone, return home, and be told my quest end lies in a different game.

I've done some tracking from my playthrough of Dambroke, and noted that I had read less than half the passages used in the game. I don't know if there's that much left of the story to discover, if there are that many random passages, or if there are that many repeated passages. I've noted only a handful of truly repeated text. Other times I've been surprised at small changes to account for taking actions in a different order. My mind still boggles at the amount of planning required to create this game, and at the quality of the entire package.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Going For Dambroke

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Professor Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

In haste, I map out what I need to build the Tri-axis Drive Booster. I note my lack of Warp Core. Instead of returning to Fiyar in hopes of finding more, I follow a lead overheard on the sub-space radio. Ethnar, a planet I've yet to find, is a good source of Warp Core.

I planned to map out the galaxy anyway, so I head further into the unknown after a short stop on Firthe to visit the underwater city with my newly acquired Super Space Suit. Inside I see much of their technological advancement, which is useless to my biology; however, one weapon, a Phase Cannon, is just begging to be tested. I trade testing the cannon in open space and combat situations for the permanent attachment. All this work, and I never once use it. The Super Space Suit also allows me to enter the captains quarters on the ship that crashed in to the asteroid on FLN-1. I find the Clathran still inside alive, but paralyzed. There's nothing for me here.
I could take him!
Rialla is home to a floaty impatient race of aliens that look like fuzzy beach balls. The Riallans have a very distinct language of beeps and chirps, and I need to spend some time learning it if I'm ever going to get around. A universal translator is of no help because I can't get any of them to stand still long enough to teach me, luckily I have telepathy.

I learned that the Riallans once lived closer to the Galactic Core until a cataclysmic event forced them to leave, the reason they float is through levitation (which I learn), and their life cycle lasts 10 years plus a random and unknown number of days. This last point is the reason they're in such a rush.

Their ships are also attached with Tri-axis engines. Asking about this results in the chance to test a jump drive (instantaneous travel) suitable to organic life. The last test subject died, but they have high hopes that recent modifications are sufficient to prevent this. Sure, why not? The test results in a quick succession of passages to read through. At the end the ordeal, I learn I've been in a coma for a week. I relay my experience, and am rewarded with the recipe to create the Tri-axis drive booster, something I already knew, but this was fun.

I decided to examine Riallan biology (I am a Xenobiologist after all), but my only hope of this was to kidnap one as they wouldn't stay still long enough to chat. As I stalked one, it popped and turned into two. I grabbed one of the two and ran back to my ship. It turns out that female Riallans create two babies when they die, this is how Riallans breed. I also learn immature Riallans loves ships. I now have a permanent resident.

I try to wrap my way around the bottom to get to Gazan, but I'm blocked by the density barrier. I require the Tri-axis Drive Booster to proceed into this sector. Guess I'm going around top.

Dargen is an icy wasteland, its purpose, the second location of the Brotherhood. My only action, seek out the temple. I wonder what it's like to come here before visiting Gen. Once again I speak my part, once again I face an ordeal; once again I gain an ability. Darthan, the defensive counterpart to Kothan, proves just as useful. Before sending me off, I'm instructed to seek a third planet, Margen, which lies beyond the density barrier. It's nice to have goals for the next game.

Gazan, the origin of the alien shuttlecraft piloted by Vanessa Change, crashed twice, is another home of the Darscian race. The location of the planet was traded with the Darscians for their help after she crashed on Fiara. Here I locate a large warship, complete with active defense systems. Defenses overcome, I explore the ship. I manage to salvage an 8-bay cargo drone and a powerful weapon, the Hyperbeam. I find a log describing the Clathran origin of the ship, and Vanessa Chang's capture and escape.
Is that the same Silverbeard? How has he survived for 300 years?

Arthlan is a desolate planet, once earth-like, now barren, it is devoid of water and life. There are five impact craters, which form a hexagon, minus one point. Also of interest is a large pool of metal near one of the volcanic sites.

Locating the missing crater, I find a large cylindrical metallic object. On top is a hatch. Inside is an octahedral mechanism. With my ability to levitate I examine the interior without fear of disturbing anything. It's unknown why this device never detonated like the others. I learn that the device was measuring the location of the planet, and that the six blasts were meant to send it hurtling into the sun. Five was enough to destroy all life by driving the planet close to its three stars.

The molten pool of metal appears to contain all the natural metal on the planet. A portion not melted is a piece of a ship. Inside I locate a strange recording disk. Touching the disk starts playback of a voice resounding in my head, "The Dictators were angry that we had destroyed atoms and folded space." It went on to say the planet would be destroyed, and the Hrtthi needed to escape. In vain, they attempted to build this spaceship, but couldn't escape the planet in time.

Ioreth, the last of the Darscian planets, is home to a ravenous toxic wild. Even with my environmental suit, I manage to become poisoned during my initial exploration. The poison causes irrational anger, and I decide the Darscians are behind this. Futile efforts to exact revenge ensue. After a few attempts, I regain my senses and visit the star port. Before leaving, I learn the technology here is useful for creating a Ship Shield Generator, the market trades in Medicine, and I pick up some native poisons that are useful in battle.

Ethnar, fabled home of warp core, and home to 4-foot tall squirrels, is another earth-like planet. Before approaching the natives, I explore on my own, and find one of the squirrels, dressed in red, mining a green ore. Startled by my appearance, he attacks. I later find out there are two tribes, red and blue. The red are not welcoming of outsiders. I easily best him in combat, and gain some green ore. This ore is what is refined into Warp Core.

The blue natives are much more welcoming, although wary that I might be a spy. Eventually I convince them otherwise. The Squirrellies, as I've come to call them, allow me to join a mining party. We come across a red raiding party, and I once again overcome my attacker. I gain a strange weapon, which is called a ninchuckle, and I train in its use back at the village. I'm able to purchase Warp Core here as well, but I only needed the one.
How exactly is this created?
Tretiak is a trip, literally. The planet, while non-toxic from all appearances, starts to mess with my senses. Completely drugged up by the time I land, I'm faced with strange sites and options, such as swimming in a "BIG PINK LAKE WITH MARSHMALLOWS" or rapping with little green men. One option is listed as dressing for the party, which is to put on my environmental suit, and immediately regain my hold on reality. I learn from talking to the natives, "Humans are good, Clathrans are bad, and the Infinite visited us at the Temple and made Tretiak insane." From the pink lake, I learn it makes things invisible, I collect a sample for later use in combat. While fun, there's very little left to do, and only one last place to visit.

Outpost, my final destination. As I near, I get an open communication, "har, har, har..." Silverbeard again. Attempting to land brings about a series of combats of increasing difficulty. At this point, I'm equipped with every known offensive and defensive capability, save for the E.C.M, and I know I'll easily break through. Even so, it's obvious the fight is close as I barely miss the necessary 100 points to succeed in defense against Silverbeard.

With Silverbeard's ship destroyed, and the threat of the planet nullified, I'm able to land and begin my search for equipment to repair my ship. From an old computer I learn Silverbeard may have introduced the plague while at the same time trying to keep the location of the human homeworld safe from the Clathrans. The Clathrans conducted physiological and psychological experiments on Silverbeard--the same John Silverbeard from Vanessa Chang's crew--that stopped the aging process. It also made him insane. He believed every human was a Clathran, and had fantasies of being a seafaring pirate. The materials he captured were used to build the defenses on Outpost.

Searching further for a way to fully repair my ship, I find the remains of the weaponry used in defense of the planet. After fixing my ship, I spend some time equipping it with this advanced technology. In an old building I find the Lockerbait, the last ship used by Vanessa Chang. Inside is an voice recorder. It holds Vanessa Chang's last message.

Here are the major points (yes, this is a summary):
  • Vanessa Chang's crew discovered Flame Jewels in the possession of an alien race, and recognized them as components to a new drive technology that would allow travel past the Density Barrier.
  • In exchange for one, one of the crew, Sherin Mosswell, tested a new jump drive technology (sounds like Riallans). The jump ship was never seen again, but they gained a Flame Jewel.
  • During their exploration, the same theme I encountered is repeated in the Galactic Arm, alien races meeting a fate some 50,000 years ago that now prevents their expansion.
  • They find a source of Flame Jewels and share them with a small set of other explorers.
  • Her ship is captured by Clathrans and brought to Morikor.
  • During her escape, she notes a huge fleet, and believes the Clathrans are preparing for a new survey of the galaxy.
  • The space plague stopped due to a new mutation in the human immune system.
  • They met Reverend Eric DeVries, captain of the Archangel, on Cordethar, who was as deeply disturbed by his findings in the Galactic Arm. The reasons are still a mystery.
  • The Boundary was erected, both to protect against Clathrans, and keep exploration to a minimum while technological advancements continued to be encouraged.
  • The hope was to create a small group of explorers able to infiltrate the Arm, and discover the intentions of the Clathran menace, going as far as to hope we might stop them.
Here I'm given star maps of the Arm, told to wipe all memory systems of the location of human worlds, and succeed where Vanessa Chang had failed, pushing boldly into the Arm, into the nest of the Clathrans.
Building up abilities has little impact on the next game, as the import feature just asks what you had before, no checks
And so ends Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary. Some of the story is still left to explore though, and I'll be going through the rest of the characters before moving on to Star Saga: Two - The Clathran Menace.

One thing I've learned about Star Saga, the events are deterministic. It'll take some time to figure them out, but following the same actions produces exactly the same results, the same "random" passages in space, and the same planets are discovered at the same locations. Deviating or delaying by a turn will change some of these, if not all of them.

I hope you enjoyed the extensive, if long winded, summary of the journey through the first game. Subsequent characters won't have as much detail concerning each planet or the events surrounding them unless there are character specific passages or actions. Next up, my favorite character, Corin Stoneseeker.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - In Search of the Tri-Axis Drive

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Professor Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

Silverbeard had just "cornered" me, and demanded cargo. Feeling confident that at least my shields would hold, and based on my recent Boundary run, I engaged the wily pirate. I outmaneuvered him. Before I disabled his ship, he pulled some fast moves himself and fled. Unfortunate; I was looking forward to getting some of his loot.
I beat him by a lot though...
I arrive on Darscold. This is the Darscian home world. Here I learn of the ability of Serene Contemplation, a method for controlling ones emotions. This is essential to the Darscians who are genetically modified, removing aggression, and thus are non-violent. In stressful situations they can keep their cool. There's also mention of the anti-gravity technology I've already found on Fiara. There's very little to keep my attention.

Feldo is a strange 'planet'. Feldo is an alien, the size of a planet. He comes from a world, Juliarra (not found in this game), where each generation exhibits random mutations. Feldo was born normal. Being normal on a planet where normal is abnormal was too much to handle; he left. He enjoyed many travels, but soon ran into a situation he couldn't handle.

He became the pet of some rather large aliens. His time on the ship caused him to grow, and he continued to grow; he was growing larger than the ship. They jettisoned him into space. He prepared for the worst. It never came.

He floated through space, living off space dust and particulate matter, until he found a nice star to orbit. Of interest is his ability to reorganize his body, internal organs and all. Traveling through a planet sized human was a little disconcerting at first, but Feldo assures me it's to make me feel more comfortable. I gain another alien ability, even though it's no longer my quest.

Yrebe is an iron rich planet orbiting in close proximity to its star. It's so close that the sun facing side is liquified. Each night it hardens. The planet isn't of much consequence other than mining for iron. Strange aliens are encountered here, but I only find one willing to describe their journey in space. They're plasma energy beings that long ago shed their physical form with help from a wise alien race.
I searched for more plasma creatures on the day side, fruitlessly
Gironde is a high-tech world with zero biological life. The entire planet is run by core computer AIs, and robots maintain them. They were built with a single directive, which remains a mystery. They trade computers! Finally, I can work out purchasing all remaining equipment. If only I can find a way off this planet.

Before I leave, I learn of a second directive, no computer on Gironde may leave. This is enforced by a fleet of warships that materializes out of the blackness of space. While I've overcome the Boundary and Silverbeard, a whole fleet isn't something I risk.

Back on the planet, I remember a hidden action I received on Gnarsh. I use it to get a Gradient Filter, which I learn the creation of is part of the first directive. With no options left, I attempt to get by the fleet by stealth. I lower engines to impulse, minimize life support, and cut sensors. The fleet disappears.

I realize the fleet was never there. Back on the planet, I rewire the computer and find a bit of software installed during my stay. Questioning the core leads nowhere, but it seems this program is the protective measure keeping ships on Gironde. For my troubles, I re-task the software as a weapon against other ships. Not able to convince the core that there's really no fleet, I leave in further pursuit of the Tri-axis drive.

Ouabain is a fascinating world where they have turned everything possible into a game. Landing is a game, albeit a rather simple one where the hints are blatant. The idea imparted to them by off-world aliens of the advanced variety was that life doesn't have to be boring, and games allow one to exercise the mind while getting even the most mind-numbing tasks completed.

I was shown their center for learning where they've developed the ability of telekinesis (picked this handy trick up as well). A game was presented to me. A simple guessing game. No hints. Only, pick the correct door out of three. The purpose of this is to find the prophesied Game Master who will bring the ultimate game.
Which door would you choose?
My hesitation in choosing shows that I am not him, but I'm still allowed the chance to choose and rewarded for a choosing correctly. I get nothing, but I didn't need the Synthetic Genius anyway. The market offers computers. This sector of the galaxy must really love making computers.

Cordethar, a plot rich planet, rips my ship out of hyperspace as I approach. There's no escape. A voice coming from the planet demands information on my destination, point of origin, name, ship name, and reason for exploring. I give it fake information; it knows I lied. Instead, I'm able to bend the truth somewhat. Giving partial truths allows me to move on.

The planet is a creation of an advanced alien race, one it calls the Owners. Its purpose is recording and transmitting data. There aren't any protections for the data, so I have it transmit all the data to me. The planet's task was to trap passing ships, collect information, and send this on to the Owners. Based on what I've learned from other planets, the owners would visit the home world of the alien race and modify them in some way, either biologically, theologically, or technologically. In addition to the Owners, another frequent race were the Clathrans.

It seems 50,000 years ago, the Owners and Clathrans stopped visiting this area of space, and Cordethar's functions were impaired. It attributes this to a change in the galactic dual space interphase levels. These two events are connected, but I'm not sure how. It's possible the drive technology the aliens use is based around dual space. Recently, about 5 years ago, the dual space levels again changed enough for it to regain some functionality beyond passive recording. It has not yet been able to transmit its stored databanks.

Aware of one event in particular, I search for it in Cordethar's memory, the arrival of Vanessa Chang before the construction of the Boundary. In short, Chang and another ship, the Archangel, met here to discuss their odysseys in the Galactic Arm. Combined with the space plague that recently hit the Nine Worlds, they decide to recall all explorers with Tri-axis drive technology and erect the Boundary. Having learned all I could, I left.
Not much happened in the intervening years

Corbis, currently inhabited by large cats, of the non-speaking variety, and cities obviously built by a long gone intelligent race, holds a mystery. Here, deep in the cities I learn a cat-like people once thrived. In stylized pictographs I see these people discovering technology related to what looks like a spaceship, and in the next image, a lizard race visiting them, wielding a weapon. This was the last picture etched.

On my way back to the ship, I slip and fall. I can't get up. Over and over, I slip and fall. My boots are covered in a viscous fluid that need complete removal before I get any kind of traction. Following the source, I find a font of the liquid in what used to be a fountain. I determined it's the substance known as Super Slip. I'm able to collect 1 unit, but unable to determine the source of the substance. It seems the conditions in this section of the city are perfect for spontaneous creation. There's no way to speed up the process, and I continue to get the section that tells me there's no more to find, 269. I spend months in-game time, 269, 269, 269. It continues, 269, 269, 269, 269. I can wait it out, 269 269, 269, 269, 123...
Is this the games not so subtle way of telling me I'm wasting my time?
Sensors picked up a thermal hot spot nearby. It turns out to be an active volcano, although strangely, the surrounding area shows no sign of lava flow. As I climb up, I'm overcome with an urge to leap in, but before I make my final dive into the unknown, one of the cat creatures knocks me to the ground. I regain my head space, and thank the animal, who follows me down the mountain ensuring my safety. Now I feel a little bad for capturing one early to examine.

I determine a hypnotic signal is coming from inside the lava--based on readouts and senors on the ship--that attracts intelligent creatures to the core. I now know the fate of the alien inhabitants. It seems I only felt a dulled effect that grew stronger as I neared, at a guess, due to the frequency tuned to a mind and biology unlike my own.

One last location, the building picture with the technological discovery, provides me the formula for the creation of the Tri-axis drive. Finally!
Building a Tri-axis Drive Booster
1) Crush 1 Iron and 1 Crystals into powder and mix vigorously with 1 Fuel
2) Sift mixture through a Gradient Filter, and boil with 1 Flame Jewel encased in Warp Core
3) ???
4) Enjoy your new Tri-axis Drive Booster

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - From Professor to Engineer

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Professor Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

Storage Station 7 lay just ahead, off to the side floats debris of the defense satellite. It seems my early preparation has paid off, as I continue my reign of dominance. Inside the station is a 5-bay cargo hold. Already stored are 1 unit of Computers and 1 Phase Steel. I happily take both. I make my way towards the Ghost Worlds to purchase more equipment before heading off again into the unknown.

Fiara, home to a colony of Darscians, is also home to an alien shuttlecraft once belonging to Vanessa Chang (intrepid explorer), crash landed here due to the planet's extreme gravity. Exploring the vessel provides a tidbit of information. The shuttle's last touchdown was on Koursh, and the logs suggest one of the crew members is buried there. I note the planet name and location of the burial site.

I learn the Darscians have an Antigravity Research Center, and decide to stop by before departing. Off limits to outsiders, they said, restricted due to the potential applications for misuse. Not letting that stop me, I drive to the Center, but the anti-gravity vehicle loaned to me by the Darscians shuts down before I reach the door. Not to be deterred, I press on as the gravity presses on me; then combat begins, against gravity.
Take that force of nature!
I make it, barely. For my efforts, I gain an Anti-Gravity Ray. I suppose the Darscians were right in guarding their technology from weaponization.

Hemindore, my next stop, is inhabited by alien monkeys. The world is completely covered in salt-water oceans; growing out of it are large trees where the monkeys and their dwellings are visible as I (crash) land. They enjoy technological advancements far beyond their understanding thanks to another alien race known as Lengia.

Over 2000 years ago, the Lengia, at the height of scientific advancement, noted a greenhouse effect on their planet due to pollution from their technology. They decided to abandon the planet, inviting the Hemingellans to join them in pursuit of a new home. Home was on Hemindore though, and the Lengia left them behind with some of their machines.

What happened to the Lengia is unknown, but perhaps they'll make an appearance in the future. This is the first time an alien world wasn't changed by an outside influence. I took some time to study the technology, and acquired a tractor beam in the process. With little left to do, on I moved.

Ascension, a lush world teeming with life yet lacking any high-tech civilizations, provides my second alien ability. The intelligent life forms are large insectoid creatures, as described by the text, and I picture them as giant praying mantises. The creatures have a reverence for nature and minimal interference, keeping with the status quo, denying advancement. This stems from a long history of advanced technology leading to harmful effects on the environment. On the verge of complete collapse, they were visited by an alien race that offered a solution: revert back to a natural way of life. To help ensure this, the visiting aliens left behind a device that nullified all technology. I'm not sure how my instruments, including my ship, continue to function.

Once again an alien race is prevented from exploring the galaxy. While discussing their history, I learn they're able to create a wall of force. Obviously intrigued, I learn the ability, and receive a message informing me I have my second alien ability. This confirms--for whatever reason--the Superhuman Speed I achieved earlier doesn't count. Maybe this has to do with the way I gained it, via an exercise machine rather than taught by an alien. I lift off in search of the third and final ability that will allow me to return home.

Gen is a human world, one of the outer Ghost Worlds mentioned on Supa. It is also home to the brotherhood, an order in search of truth. The people on Gen enjoy dungeon diving, called trundling, where someone creates a dungeon to explore and fills it with danger and treasures. To better understand the concept, I'm offered to explore a cave that's already looted.
It's LARPing, except you're your character
Exploring the cave leads to a battle with a 10-foot tall teddy bear guarding a message regarding the brotherhood. Entering the brotherhood is a simple matter after this, and provides my second interaction with the computer game master. Passing the questioning leads to an ordeal, past this is a longer set of questions. Reaching this second level, I receive the title of Advancing Brother in the order, and am told to seek out the planet Dargen. The ability Kothan, a fighting ability, is also gained.
No random guessing here; honesty is the best approach.
Koursh, I note the familiar name, is found nearby after all options on Gen are exhausted. I'm distracted by my approach of the planet as hundreds, or maybe thousands, of red and blue aliens are drawn to my ship's engine reactor. They drain my power, and I plummet to the surface. The intangible little bastards escape my wrath; I wake up alive, but I understand now how Vanessa Chang lost her crew member. If the same thing happened to her, the odds of everyone surviving in such an alien craft were slim.

Exploring the planet proved fruitful, as I discovered the reason for the aliens attack on my ship. They are attracted to high amounts of radiation. In preparation for escape, I adjust the fuel to emit less radiated material. In addition to this, I found a large source of irradiated material, enough to continuously mine Radioactives. Finally, a source! I'll come to learn by the end of my travels that Radioactives are only available through mining, no one openly trades them.
Entering an unlisted action only works if you're in the correct location
Normally, action codes are listed for you when plotting the turn. This isn't the case for certain actions, like digging up the grave of Vanessa Chang's crewman. The navigator, Walter Friday, is buried with some keepsakes, including a journal. From it, I learn the alien shuttle began its journey from a planet called Gazan. There I'll discover the original ship the smaller craft belongs to and more clues as to the harrowing last journey of Vanessa Chang.

With my new-found Radioactives, I make a side trip to a few known planets in order to stock up on some choice pieces of equipment, even though I feel confident in my current arsenal.

Tralis, another planet visited and changed by an advanced alien race, provides the possibility of a universal translator. The Tralisians constantly spin in place, and consist of two types, right-spinners and left-spinners. The righties were technologically advance, which engendered feelings of jealousy in the lefties as they were treated as lower class citizens. A god-like alien race visited at the same time hyperdrive technology was discovered. They encouraged the left-spinners to revolt against the rights. The ensuing battle nearly wiped out the right-spinners, and left their cities in ruins.

The god-like aliens somehow altered the genetic make-up of the Tralisians so that the majority of offspring were now left-spinners, whereas it was always a 50/50 split in the past. They also left behind universal translators. The righties have regrouped, and plan to correct the change. There's little for me to do here other than learn how a translator is built.

Alkon, an unassuming planet covered in jungle foliage, is an ugly-looking backward sort of planet. The aliens here are warty purple creatures with many tentacles. I'm greeted by one them as I land, Freddie.
First arriving on Alkon, still don't have a Universal Translator or Telepathy
I forgo learning the language and hire Freddie as my interpreter. While shown around, I learn in a quite unexpected way that Freddie and every Alkonian is able to see into the future. They call it Whurffle. Outstanding! My third alien ability is in hand, or mind rather. Rather than rush back, I take my time to explore the remaining planets in the vicinity.

My next three stops, Fiyar, FLN-1, and Hootenaller, provide no alien contact.

Fiyar is a gas giant. Scans indicate the material known as Warp Core is present. I take some risk and am rewarded by a single unit; all further attempts are met with failure. Combining the Warp Core with the Phase Steel, plus a few common commodities, I'm able to build a Ship Shield Generator. This will come in handy when crossing the Boundary.

FLN-1 (Frog Leg Nebula, asteroid 1) isn't a planet, but is a good source of Radioactives. Hidden in its depths is a alien shuttlecraft, crashed many years ago. Inside I manage to salvage a unit of Synthetic Genius from the advanced computer system. The captains quarters requires a Super Space Suit to enter. I return later to learn this was a Clathran ship, and it's emitting a distress signal. As a player I note the similarities between this and the alien craft piloted by Vanessa Change. Professor Dambroke makes no comparison.

Hootenaller is a paradise, yet devoid of animal life, intelligent or otherwise. I feel strange here, at peace, as if no threat has touched the planet, a strange sight to behold in my long travels. I take some time to relax. Enjoy the scenery. I stock up on the abundant food supply and continue my exploration of the galaxy.

One item of note, arriving on Hootenaller introduces a concept of Dual Space. Not much is mentioned except its existence. It does weird things like change the value of pi from 3.14159 to 3.14161. This strange fact is promptly ignored, and I move on.
Dual space? What's that?
Organu, the last planet in this area to explore before heading back, is home to a race that looks like giant broccoli, although thinner and obvious arms (4) and legs (2). As I consider these thoughts, I hear laughter all around me and a voice inside my head; "Greetings," it says. Telepathy! Now this is an exciting ability. It takes over two weeks to learn, but I finally pick it up. What great luck, if three abilities is enough, then surely four is better. There's also a swamp where some bio-engineering research is conducted. It reminds me a lot of Bugeye, except smells worse. Here I can distill a unit of Primordial Soup with the right materials.

I guess it's time to figure out a way through the Boundary. Brute force is the only option I've found. At first, I attempt to use some deft maneuvering I learned from some smugglers. If timed right, enough speed built up, and angled correctly, then it's possible to get through the scanning drones without being detected. This didn't happen. The Border Patrol is altered. Only one option left. Surprisingly, I could have gotten by without the Ship Shield Generator. Equipment available in normal markets is all that's necessary. I disable the ship, and am now free to come and go as I please.
Much easier on return trips
I arrive, but with doubt in my mind. Doubt that I'll fit in with what I now know. Knowing about Vanessa Chang, the possible threat to humans, and an obscure power known as dual space has changed me. Change won't happen in the Nine Worlds.

I show off my "three" abilities to those that funded my trip. After all expected pleasantries are exchanged, I'm informed that a strange energy is emanating from the Galactic Arm. This energy is causing space to fluctuate.

This is an annoying part of Star Saga. Since I visited Hootenaller, I should already know about fluctuations in space, dual space. I'm told that constants in the laws of physics are slightly altered with this unknown energy. The connection to the variance in pi is obvious to me. Yet, this is what the passage reads, "You take a few minutes to review what you have seen in your travels that could relate to this discovery but you come up empty." This isn't the only time it happens, as many of the passages are written as generic as possible, able to be read in any order and make sense. All possibilities can't be accounted for, but this one is the least acceptable.

A possible link is made between my ability to learn alien abilities and the strange energy. My path is becoming obvious, I need to discover the source of the energy. To do so, I need a Tri-axis Drive Booster to enter the Galactic Arm. I'm told of a planet, Outpost. I can use it as a stepping stone to enter the Fringe. I'm given a Flame Jewel before departing. It's a necessary item to create the Tri-axis Drive.

My plan is now to swoop across the lower galaxy, and continue to explore the unknown planets. Final preparations are made. Next stop is the planet at 163-B. I make my way past Wellmet, and on past the Ghost Worlds once more.

I'm stopped dead in my tracks just past Wellmet. A voice comes over the radio. "Har, har, har..."

Monday, July 2, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Professor Forever Voyaging

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Professor Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

Expanding my search beyond the inner planets, I set my sites on Supa. I'm greeted there by western themed buildings and an agricultural people. Supa was terraformed into lush farmland, meant to be a source of Food during the Great Expansion. Abandoned during the construction of the Boundary, Supa's civilization took a step down in technology. They've made great strides to return to their previous status, but they've kept the low point of their technology in all things except farming in memory of what hardship they've had to suffer.

The tavern proves to be a good source of information on the Ghost Worlds, and the I take note of the shipyard for later. With Food in hand I make my way towards Crater to get the Cargo Drone, which will allow quicker gains in commodities. On the way I stopped by Bugeye.
This is a fairly average size for passages that provide general information. (Tavern on Supa)
Bugeye is named quite literally from the experience here (bugs in your eye?). The land is teeming with insect life. It seems they're conducting genetic experiments on life using a strange compound. Helping out in an expedition gains me the favor of one of the biologists who shares some Primordial Soup (not for drinking). I know from the families on Wellmet that this is one of the rare materials I can trade for any 3 regular commodities; for now I'll hold on to it. Before leaving I stop by the Director's place who quickly welcomes me, suggests he's been brought up to speed, and offers me some Skin Armor. I graciously accept, although I wonder how I've come to be so well known on such a remote planet.

Excited to get a cargo drone, I make my way off Bugeye. According to my notes it requires 2 Food and 1 Crystals, and I'm short the Crystals. Luckily Moiran has Crystals and is only a short detour from Crater. My visit to both is uneventful, and I start using my new cargo drone to quickly fill up my inventory.

While I wait between various trades, I head towards the farthest known planet, Cathedral. I don't expect to find much, and I'm not disappointed. The only good that comes from this trip is a source of Fiber, which I've yet to find elsewhere. It was strange to find a member of the Final Church of Man this far out, but he wouldn't speak with me at all. Possibly I could get more out of him if I were a follower of the church. Also, of note, but not much use, are the remains of the Archangel--stripped clean.

Having wasted enough turns, I now have a full cargo bay on my ship and drone. I make my way back through my notes to find all the personal and ship equipment I could possibly buy. I even go through my currently irreplaceable Fluids and Medicine to claim some choice pieces. Finally, I feel well prepared to explore the unknown.

My last stop was Crater which has the majority of starting equipment. Counter-clockwise seems to be working for me, so I stick with it as I explore the unknown planets. My first discovery is Jaquar (1-V).

Jaquar isn't really a planet at all, and it's some time before I locate any life forms. The aliens here have colonized a cluster of asteroids in an asteroid belt. Upon landing, and am greeted by a hulking four-armed gold furry Darscian, who I don't understand at all.

My only option here is to learn their language. This takes 14 phases or 7 if I had a Universal Translator (or Telepathy!). Spending the two weeks to learn High Darscian pays off, and I learn much about their culture as well.

Darscians are an aggression-less race that no longer feel anger, hate, jealousy, or fear, but it wasn't always this way, having a long history of bloody violent wars far worse than those in human history. They were visited during their pre-space days by an alien race they call "Mentors." During their visit, the Mentors taught them much about their advanced technology, but withheld the secret of space flight. Overwhelmed with a need to explore the, Darscians agreed to undergo genetic manipulation that would remove their aggressive nature in exchange for the ability to go into space and explore other worlds.

It seemed like a good trade, and the Darscians don't seem to regretted the decision (although it's hard to tell since they don't show many emotions). However, because of their non-aggressive nature, they're forced to colonize locations that other races wouldn't consider wanting. This is the reason they're in this asteroid cluster.

With the mastery of their language, I learn they have five settlements.
Many options are purely informational, but at least this one has some game related resources listed.
This doesn't mean I now know where the planets are, just that they exist.
I spend some time learning about their anti-gravity technology. After fumbling around for weeks in the low gravity, one of the Darscians shows pity towards me and offers an Inertia-Control Belt for free.

Having learned all I can from the Darscians here, I move on. Shortly after take off I'm directed to a passage of text that suggests I'm taking a while to complete my mission, and chastises me for only having found one ability.
Not sure if this means I should be hurrying or not.
The next planet, Baphi, has an abandoned dome structure as the only notable feature. Exploring it I find an advanced civilization once lived here, but may not have been able to cope with gravitational forces of the surrounding four moons. It looks to have been quickly deserted, as I find much of the technology left behind.

In abundance is a pool of chemicals that I can extract Fluids from for free (at the cost of 4 phases per 1). Additional exploration has me find an alien exercise machine that--when powered on--quickly grabs me and works me out. After about an hour of struggling to get away it finally releases me. On my way back to the ship, I notice that I can run much faster, and note that I now have Superhuman Speed. Strangely, I don't get a passage telling me this is an alien ability to show off, so I don't know if it counts towards my three.

Before I leave, I investigate a strange humming sound. A helmet is the source, and it's connected to a power generator. Curious, I don the Helmet and am overwhelmed by visions. Before I can get the full vision, I'm forced to remove the helmet.

When I get back to the computer portion of the game, I'm faced with a choice. Do I put the helmet back on, or do I leave it alone? The passage of text does not mention this is a repeatable action, so this is a final decision. For the first time, I'm at a more interactive portion of the game where while the choice is still yes or no, I have to decide now at this moment what course I want to plot.
(Source: JJ Sonick's Blog)
Hoping to learn more, possibly gain some knowledge of the aliens that left this behind, I boldly place the helmet back on my head. Again and again a vision taunts me, and the helmet is sapping my strength. A third, fourth, and fifth time I use it until...
I may be lucky that this is still an early planet; otherwise, I might be dead.
I should have stopped at some point instead of tempting fate, but the chance to learn more about the aliens, or receive the final ability got the better of my curiosity. Having expended my options, and recovering from my trauma, I load up on some Fluids and head off for the next planet.

My next stop is Withel, where I find another alien race; this time they're not completely organic. They seem to have gone through extensive cybernetic implant surgery. After teaching one of them earth standard, I'm able to communicate with everyone thanks to technology that turns my language into a data pack that gets distributed to everyone.

While searching for the market I end up striking up a conversation with the space station where it's located. I'm actually speaking with Taffyn, who was the leader at the time an advanced alien race showed up, now the integrated into the space station housing the commodities market. Since those on Withel were so impressed by technological advancements, the aliens introduced them to the bio-mechanical enhancements they enjoy today. They're created by something called 'The Constructor' , again built by the visiting aliens.

Not all is well though, those in power control the device and all cybernetics mysteriously breakdown after a year unless properly maintained by The Constructor. In addition, the cost is high since demand is ever present, so there's a large divide between the rich and the poor.

There's no option for myself to undergo any modification, but I wouldn't consider it an alien ability in the first place. I wonder if these could be the Mentors that visited the Darscians. I make note of the Iron for trade, and move on.

All the while I've been using by cargo drone to trade and gain a wealth of commodities. With available Iron I can now get a few more pieces of equipment. I've been exploring the top of the map, so after the last one in that line, I'll make my way back to the Ghost Worlds to do some more trading.

I find the planet Gnarsh to be my next stop. It seems home to constant civil war between various factions. According to ship records though, the inhabitants are friendly to other species. Though, attempting to land initiates combat as one of the aliens decides, "what's one more casualty?" Not really having a choice I engaged the fighter jet. With my fully equipped ship I send him on his way, smoke trails following.

After that rocky start I'm greeted by some rather friendly if odd looking aliens. They speak in a melodic tonal language where emphasis is on how you say something rather than what you say. To complicate matters, each province has their own variation on the language, like a dialect. After learning the root words though, it's easy enough to pick up the various regional changes to the language.

Gnarsh is rich in Fluids, and the history of the people indicates they were a highly technological world on the verge of world peace, and exploration into the galaxy. It's then that they were visited by an advanced alien race (I'm beginning to see a pattern here). These aliens taught them all about advanced techniques for creating a communications system. Using this, the Gnarshians created a global communications system. It was used at the scheduled peace summit. The summit wasn't a success, and every attempt at another one has had the same result, all out war; this completely goes against the final message from the aliens, that peace was the only worthwhile goal in life. Yet, I'm starting to get the feeling these aliens are not completely altruistic.

A potentially successful race has been reduced to constant feuding just after they had successfully created a  tri-axis drive (!). Much of that technology was lost to time, but I do find out that a Gradient Filter (one of the pieces to construct the drive) is located on another unknown planet, Gironde. I noticed something very odd while attending one of these peace conferences. They rely completely on the communication system, and it seems to be at the root of all their feuding.
No time to help another race of aliens killing each other over a complete misunderstanding, need to go show off!
It seems I can't do anything with this revelation in-game though, and don't have anything more to pursue here. The Fluids are nice, as the only other source requires me to be on Baphi. I pick up some weapons before I head out to the orange trisector in the upper left quadrant of the map.

Firthe provides a similar story to all other planets visited. A long time ago, about 50 - 100 thousand years prior--on the verge of this planet's people becoming space travelers--an alien race visited . This time however, the aliens were aggressive green scaled monsters bent on destroying them. Luckily the intelligent life on Firthe lived deep below the ocean surface, and the visiting aliens couldn't reach them; however, their attack had its intended result. The Firthians now feared they were not prepared for space travel.

All technology is currently focused on improving their biology in order to survive in all possible environments, including deep space without the need for a ship. Their technology proves useful to me, as I now have two options from visiting: building a super space suit, which provides similar protection as they have gained through their genetic manipulation to explore harsh environments, and purchasing a Particle Catalyst, which is used in various high level chemical reactions. The Firthians also prove to be a good source of Medicine.

As I head back to the Ghost Worlds with enough cargo to purchase what I can, I stop by 91-O on the way. I'm still holding out hope that I find a source of Computers or Radioactives. Instead I find a remote asteroid station that identifies itself as Sto.Sta.7. As I approach the station, I'm immediately met with a mechanized voice blaring across my radio.
In all cases of combat so far, there hasn't been an option to retreat without attempting to engage the enemy. It seems like an oversight, especially when facing such an imposing force. I'll return with the results soon, as that's as far as I've come in 100 turns.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Star Saga: One - Beyond the Boundary - Professor L. D. On Alien Abilities

Please note that each character entry will contain spoilers. If you're looking for an overview of the basics of this game, I suggest looking here.

Note: In my mind, Professor Lee Dambroke is a man, so I'll refer to him with the proper pronouns for that assumption. The game never indicates gender for the main characters.

After a short introduction, I'm left to my own devices on the planet of Wellmet. I exhaust my options by going to the various markets. Welmet is mostly controlled by rich smuggling families. I learned that it might be possible to smuggle supplies by busting through the border patrol using superior firepower. Quite possibly, this'll be how I get back to Harvard.

With little else to do, I make my way to the next closest planet in a counter-clockwise motion, Para-Para. The planet is a desolate black rock, hardly visible. People have colonized the planet, inhabiting an underground sphere. It's an ideal location if you have something to hide. Nearly everyone I met here was a scientist of some kind, as is Dr. Peterson. Benefiting from a quick love affair, I learn that some people on Para-Para make regular trips through the Boundary. Not a year out and my mind is already blown that the impenetrable Boundary is anything but.
I think I've been lucky that this is the only nearly unreadable scan I've come across. Anyone have a better one?
My best translation:
When [...] [...] the two of you, alone together in the doctor's apartment, you pass the time in a variety of ways, all of them memorable. While you're cuddled together on the couch, sadly agreeing with each other what a shame it is that all good things have to come to an end, "Doc" suddenly grins from ear to ear and suggests that this doesn't have to end so soon. "Why don't you come with me to see 'Sundown Road?'"
If you would like to do so, plot the following option:
(WUGOEF) (7 phases) Accompany Dr. Peterson on a trip [...] the Boundary.
It so happens that Dr. Peterson is attending a show, and invites me to come along. Not one to miss a chance to figure a way back into the Nine Worlds, I accept. The ride was uneventful thanks to advance knowledge of the patrol routes given to the pilots. Someone on Para-Para has some high connections. It's too much to hope this is an option to return to Harvard as I don't have an option to take the smuggling route again.

On my own once again, I do a little digging into the secure areas and find one building under heavy lock and key. My first attempt to defeat the defenses of the alarmed door prove futile as I have no weapons to speak of. With the alarm triggered I rush off planet. Earlier I happened to pick up some Fuel using the Crystals I traded for during the tutorial (a brief visit to the Moiran market).
Some options are one-time use, others can be repeated.
Making some gains in commodities proved useful as I exchanged the newly acquired Fuel for some Munitions. Thinking it best to pick up a weapon and armor I purchase an Exploder and Laser Reflector. Feeling a little more confident, I move on to Medsun (the alarmed door can wait).

Medsun is the first planet I arrive on that has native alien lifeforms. Real talking aliens! I can hardly contain myself! The Medsunians resemble humans--although a little shorter on the average--except for their bright yellow skin. As they approach, I also notice they have three necks. I later come to learn each neck is fully functional, and an alien can survive even if two of these are severed.

Needing to sate my appetite for knowledge regarding these beings, I attend a lecture at their Academy of Knowledge. Here I learn that everyone on Medsun lives in peace; absolutely no heated arguments. This is due to a special form of... empathy is the closest thing I can equate it to. I'm surprised when the aliens offer to teach it to me, free of charge. This is exactly what I've been looking for.

I spend the better part of two weeks learning this new ability, Phrmm. During this time, I'm staying at the academy studying and practicing day and night. Finally, I believe I have the basic concept down, and am able to use the ability to some degree of success. The constant urge to move on, explore, and learn more is the only thing that holds me back from true mastery. It's the philosophy of removing all threatening feelings that seems to keep everyone at peace, and causes many to stay on Medsun. In fact, it was assumed I'd stay as well.

The Medsunians were helping themselves to my cargo when I arrived back to my ship. I became enraged--about ready to shoot someone--when a Medsun native apologized for the misunderstanding, as everyone who has learned Phrmm has stayed. Immediately my anger dissipated. Some of my cargo was missing, anger rising. Medsun said they couldn't find it, anger lowering. Obviously I was under the influence of Phrmm, but even knowing it I was powerless in the face of it. I resolved to leave before they helped themselves to anything else.

Next planet is Crater. As I surveyed the planet, I became locked in a tractor beam. Crater is a military stronghold with enough firepower to take on the Border Patrol. They are a suspicious lot, paranoid to be proper. After interrogating me for days, they deemed me not a threat (maybe the Phrmm was helpful after all). I was free to explore.

Without a large cargo bay filled with commodities I didn't have much to do here. I took a course in combat techniques, which helped explain the basics. I also made note of the cargo bay drone that would allow me to trade with planets without visiting them in person, definitely a handy piece of equipment for an intrepid explorer like myself.

I made my way back to Moiran, a small smuggling planet with a sulfuric atmosphere that burns at my nose. Forgoing my environmental suit so to blend in a bit better, I suffer through it as I make my way to a local hang out known as Dee's Palace. I'm offered a table and drink while the waitress gets me a "menu." Only a few sips into my drink and the room starts spinning. I suppose I stuck out anyway. I wake up in the alley, head throbbing, and one less Laser Reflector in my possession.

Hoping to recover my equipment, I head over to Tony the Shark. I don't find my missing Reflector, neither can I afford any of the other equipment. While heading back to my ship, the fumes of the back alleys start to get to me; I end up making several wrong turns. Before long a mugger approaches me brandishing a blaster. "I could really use that Laser Reflector now," I think to myself.

Focusing my thoughts, I use Phrmm to turn away the menace the mugger eyes me with, allowing me to lob an exploder without harm. Knocking him out, I relieve the unconscious form of his Blaster. I'm relieved that Phrmm is about as good as any armor for the time being. Before going back to the ship, I stop by the Phase Steel refinery. After greasing the palm of the bookkeeper, I'm told Phase Steel is generally bought up months in advance by the Families of Wellmet, and the Border Patrol. The Border Patrol! Smuggling resources! In any case, I now have a connection for any excess surplus.
The CGM is the Computer Game Master, basically the computer portion of the game.
Resolved to leave Moiran for now, I head back to Para-Para to break through that alarmed door. It doesn't stand a chance again the exploder, and I'm lucky to have raised no attention in the process. Inside I find a utility closet with a lab coat. Using my new disguise to gain what information I can about the internal workings of Para-Para, I find it quite easy to move around without questions. Apparently the lab coat I have on also comes with an air of authority.

Eventually I gain access to a secure terminal for a short time, and find they're investigating the Space Plague. The information suggests the plague was a manufactured virus as it seems genetically disposed to attack humans with no "junk DNA" present in all other natural life. The reason for only killing half the population is unknown. Before I can learn more, I notice the analyst whose desk I'm sitting at returning from his coffee break.

As I rise I notice a familiar face. The man who gave me the star maps back on Wellmet, he works here. He probably wouldn't be too pleased to find me here, so I duck around and head back to the entrance. Removing the lab coat and replacing it where I found it, I return to my ship, head still reeling over all the new information I've learned recently regarding the Boundary, the Border Patrol, and now the Space Plague. What does it all mean?