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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Playing without a walkthrough on: February 09, 2013, 07:39:36 pm
I tried this recently, I wrote down all the information I actually received from conversations and I think the final result was that there are three planets that you really have to search for, Beta Orionis, Zeta Draconis and Delta Crateris (not counting Melnorme info, and maybe I overlooked some sources of information). The rest you are referred to by alien conversation, although I was pretty thorough, I would engage alien species like 15 times to run through the entire conversation trees. There was another situation where you are told that the Androsynth are taken over by the Orz in the vulpeculae system, then I waited for a few minutes there and because of bad luck I didn't find any nearby ships. I think someone could conclude there is nothing there maybe.
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Space Layering (Sphere Theory) on: February 04, 2013, 01:29:37 am
I don't understand the Orz too much: they are barely aware of TrueSpace, they seem new to it, yet they do have knowledge about other types of dimensional beings (Arilou, Taalo). I think that means that their dimensions have to be closer related to *Below* than TrueSpace is.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Space Layering (Sphere Theory) on: February 03, 2013, 02:08:48 pm
I'm not sure why you didn't just layer them flat. What does curving it onto a sphere actually accomplish here?
I think it's so that Arilou and Orz can know about each other. If it was layered then they would literally be dimensions apart.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Space Layering (Sphere Theory) on: February 03, 2013, 12:25:33 pm
And I would think that *Pretty Space* equals Quasi-Space, since I always feel that the green color and mysterious music of that dimension is quite beautiful and appealing, so it's easy to imagine the Orz feeling the same.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Hyperspace on: February 02, 2013, 04:38:53 pm
I've had this happen occasionally. If you keep fighting then after 10-15 encounters or so you should be safe. I think it's safest to only go into ZFP territory with max trusters.
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Technological advancement on: January 30, 2013, 06:32:00 pm
I always wonder about things like 'potential' in science fiction stories. We know from earth that a lot of things have to happen in a culture before it can rapidly accelerate technologically. I think one of the reasons that the middle ages were relatively stagnant was that the population was lower, many people were living in poverty and therefore had no chance to dedicate themselves to scientific research and I think there would have been encouragement to devote oneself to Christianity that would occupy a lot of the brighter individuals in this already small talent pool. Once living conditions improved and universities were established progress sky rocketed.

There are also scientific discoveries that remove bottle necks. The development of libraries, more uniform education, universities, the printing press, and so on all served to increase the awareness of certain research. The development of the steam engine, electricity, the computer and nuclear energy are based on research that has usually only existed for at most a hundred years and in themselves allowed vast improvements in many other areas. In the future it might be that artificial intelligence, nuclear fusion, genetic engineering, nanotechnology, asteroid mining capability or any other advanced technology will serve as a stepping stone to a next tech level.

I think, in this sense, that since the laws of physics that govern the universe are shared, that any culture that devotes themselves to scientific research can eventually be capable of reaching the same tech levels. It is only a question of cultural forces that impede research, resource availability and time.

One silly thing about science fiction tends to be that tech level is seen as overwhelmingly important: if you have plasma cannons then those are newer compared to laser cannons, so they're always more destructive. It's not true, it depends on how much energy you spend and I think that any species that has a strong industrial base - possibly with colonies on multiple worlds, should be expected to be a force to be reckoned with and should therefore theoretically do well in a war and then you should be able to absorb your opponent's technological capabilities. If nothing else, you can simply enlist their scientists to do work for you.

Given that the Ur-Quan have vanquished a lot of cultures, given that they have control over vast territories and given that they had a lot of time to bother with research, I think it would make sense for them to be highly advanced, more so than any other existing race.
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Technological advancement on: January 28, 2013, 02:48:54 pm
I thought there was some confusion about the level of independent technological advancement and the general level of development for most races. I collected some questions I could come up with here:

  • Races such as the Ilwrath were subjugated by the Ur-Quan with ease and it is mentioned that they received ship upgrades to enable them to serve as battle thralls. My question is, had they discovered space flight before? And what about the hyperdrive? What about the same thing for the Spathi and the Thraddash? We know that the Shofixti were uplifted by the Yehat. Humans in a sense were uplifted by the Chenjesu (hyperdrive technology). Are there other races who didn't achieve space flight capabilities independently?
  • We know that the Taalo were probably more advanced than even the Chenjesu. Given that the Milieu consisted of several species cooperating, did they have a shared tech level? Given that the Mael-Num and Ur-Quan both date back to the Milieu, do they have similar technology? Would it be possible that all the advanced technology the Melnorme outfit our ships with is basically Ur-Quan tech? And did the Ur-Quan continue to develop their technology while being controlled by the Dnyarri? Would they have been more or less successful during this time period? And as they were roaming the galaxy, did they simply depend on their old Milieu tech?
  • In general, what species are the most technologically advanced? - excluding the Precursors. What species are the most ancient? Which ones have the highest intellect? Which ones have the most potential to become the Precursors Mark II?
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Challenge: Subvert the 'Planet of hats'! on: January 23, 2013, 10:11:28 am
How about the following: suppose that we weren't humans, but Yehat, and the game played from that perspective. What would we think of the human race as depicted in SC2? Would it also be a 'planet of hats'?
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Challenge: Subvert the 'Planet of hats'! on: January 22, 2013, 04:41:41 pm
I think solving 'planet of hats' by adding: "some factions of said species disagree, but hide their true feelings out of necessity" is a bit cheap. I mean, there has to be a certain bias in who gets elected to be a star ship commander, and also to what the commander is allowed to say; there are filters in place that tend towards a certain result. Actually, one would expect that most races would behave the same way, simply due to the constraints a reasonable sort of diplomatic stance puts on them. Furthermore, not all species function the same way, the spathi can be extremely cowardly, but that's just because it jumps out to us. They would consider all humans to be exhibiting certain types of emotions and notice such things.

More examples: if you look at the kzer-za, it's not so much that they are all the same, but rather that they are simply explaining to you their official policy with regards to alien races. For the illwrath, only those devoted to the worship of the twin gods would ever find themselves in a position to be a commander. Some species do show individual differences, the pkunk are essentially a different faction within the yehat, some yehat tend to caring for shofixti, some yehat join you in the revolution, their queen has a sense of individualy, we know about clan warfare and so on. The mycon are all mind controlled, so they should act the same way. The VUX have admiral ZEX.
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: If you were to make a star control 2 remake what improvements would you make? on: January 22, 2013, 04:20:39 pm
I guess it's okay to add to this topic? It's not that old.

I like the idea of having starbases around homeworlds, it's a nice visual indicator for the homeworld location if nothing else.

I'm hesitant about the idea of random precursor artifacts to improve your ship. I thought the implementation in Star Control 3, where planets randomly have one precursor artifact (and nothing else) to improve one ship (and nothing else), was so incredibly cheesy. If such an enhancement improves the ur-quan dreadnaught, why can't it improve other ships? If a planet has a cache of precursor artifacts, why is there only one item of value? Possibly it's okay to find upgrades for your flagship, which is of precursor origin, instead of acquiring these from the melnorme, but it's still below the standards of the game to have all these very useful items conspicuously lying around for you to use.

This goes into mod territory, but I think it would be nice if - given that the orz invasion is recent and the existence of androsynth ruins - there would be androsynth ships for you to find on one of the planets, possibly requiring repairs and a hefty RU cost (though this is a lot like a fairly boring sidequest, which is something I dislike about a lot of rpgs). I always felt it was odd that a quick investigation of their homeworlds reveals what exactly their scientists had been working on; I guess their defection being recent, they could not have had the time to create a vast number of cities and the like, so maybe it makes sense that the location of their science labs are discovered in a timely fashion, but still: should there not be more useful information to be found? At least some technological inventions, useful creations, valuable mineral stores etc. unless the orz took everything of course. I'm mentioning this since it would be a nice set-up to a possible sequel if the humans appropriate the androsynth research and in turn find themselves fighting against the orz creature. In any case, just finding a single androsynth ship would be cool enough.

In the spirit of adventuring, I would like more stuff to explore. I would also like random generation of much of the quadrant, excluding ones relevant to the plot and such.

I'm not really happy about the game's pacing though.I think too often the game encourages you to spend a lot of time mining for all the useful add-ons, then mining becomes irrelevant. You discover only a few rainbow worlds and receive the umgah biological reserve and then bio date and fuel become meaningless. You'll probably eventually deck out your flagship and then combat becomes trivialized. Too many of these core parts of the game are badly paced and eventually disappear from focus, leaving only plot developments, but I think those can become a chore if there is nothing else to do. I think a lot of people underestimate the effect that breadth, pacing and quality control can have on your play experience. It's not just the depth of the plot, it's the delivery of the plot within the context of the gameplay that is most important too. Star Control delivers on this aspect for the most part, because of the vastness of the universe and the ability to set the pacing yourself, go exploring, set yourself goals etc. it works better than many modern games, but it could still be improved.
For instance, what about making the speed and turning rate upgrades progressively more expensive, so that as your lander becomes more powerful, you can afford better modules? And you could have limited module space with more expensive fuel tanks with double the capacity, so that you'd be encouraged to first solve problems nearer to earth etc.
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Difficulty setting on: January 22, 2013, 03:07:38 pm
I actually love mining, it's fun to scour systems and be rewarded with resources. Besides, you can usually do it alongside adventuring and exploring, you don't need to set aside a lot of time for this.

I do think that difficulty settings are a good idea. I think in many new games that it's almost impossible to fail the game, at least on lower difficulty settings. In a sense it's nicer to have free money and lots of tips come from an in-game source rather than force new players to read a walkthrough. For instance, I think it would be nice to have a resource in the game that informs you of locations of star systems that were given to you in conversations, of important hints etc.

And as a veteran player I'd enjoy both an easy mode that would let me rush through the game just to experience the story again, as well as a higher difficulty setting that would let me experience the game in a new way.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: SC2 - HARDMODE? on: January 22, 2013, 02:58:34 pm
I don't think it's a good idea to skip on trusters and landers and the like, it makes the game more boring: hyper space travel takes longer, you'd constantly have to return to the starbase for new landers. You could set yourself failure conditions, like only using one lander for the entire game, but the point of a failure condition is to still play to the best of your ability with this new limitation in mind. In this case you'd simply save the game before any surface exploring.

Truth be told, the game is actually fairly easy and it could do with more difficulty. The parts that will give you the most trouble I think are all related to failing to understand how to trigger a plot development or advance a conversation path and such, it's the kind of thing that will only become easier the more you play the game and there is no good way to unlearn (outside of hitting yourself on the head a lot) any of the information you have acquired in previous playthroughs. If I could make a suggestion: don't visit any rainbow worlds, don't use your flagship, don't cheat by using Fwiffo to beat unlimited numbers of enemy ships - or you could roleplay and sabotage yourself slightly in certain scenarios.
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