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.


  1. For some reason, games that combine playing both on and off screen fascinates me. I would assume it was done to offload some desperately needed memory at the time, but it's interesting to see what they chose to put where.

    1. The majority of narrative is in the books. Only interactive or immediate decisions are handled by the computer.

      I'll be posting the rest of the summary throughout this week, finished the game this morning. It took 370 turns, and I ended with a score of 4909/5000. I have no idea where the remaining 91 points are supposed to come from, but I missed one piece of equipment (E.C.M.) and some options were left unexplored (can't get back to them).

      My short summary I left for Chet wasn't too far off actually, just a lot of details missing that fill in the back story. After all this is done for Professor Dambroke, I'll take a short break before starting the other characters. They should go much faster now that I've mapped out all the planets, choices, and item locations.

      Back to your point of reference material outside the game software, I agree, and enjoy boxed games for this reason. We recently got a game called Skylanders in our house, which uses figurines to choose your character (you place them on a pad connected wirelessly to the console). At any time, you can swap characters this way, have two players play, and even equip them with items.

      I'm also fascinated by specialized card based games (Magic the Gathering style) inside games. Twice now I played a game only to get caught up in the card game portion of it and forget where I was in the actual game. It's a wonder I've never got into one game called Eye of Judgment for PS2, but somehow that felt too gimmicky (place cards in front of a camera to have it load in the game).

      'Where in ... is Carmen Sandiego?' were also a set of games that came with an almanac that was fun to leaf through in order to solve clues presented by the main game.