Author Topic: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening  (Read 1136 times)

Offline Pumpkin

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[AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« on: August 29, 2016, 02:13:38 AM »
Summary

This is a proposal for an expansion-like collection of new mechanisms, ship types, minor factions and plots. They are built around the Phytolians, a new race of space plants and their special perks.

Lore

Humans encounter the Phytolians, a plant-like alien race, during their war against the AI. They learn they share some biochemical processes with the Zenith but can't figure out exactly why, at least at first.

Phytolians are very long-lived; they can put themselves in a state of biological sleep and awake ages after. They value honor and combat prowess but are not aggressive by themselves. They use star's light as a power source, like chlorophyllous plants. Humans (and players) progressively learn they were genetically engineered by Zenith a very (very) long time ago and designed for long-term protection and energy efficiency. They are able to self-replicate and self-improve over time by genetic means (mutations, selection, not-breeding-but-genetic-blending, etc). With the Zenith now mostly gone, they're all in a state of long sleep, and the humans stumbling across them waked them up.

They weren't commonplace in the Zenith society (more like a niche technology that not everybody found use in). This is essentially why they're not present in SBR or in previous AIW's expansions.

New Mechanisms

Combat Regen

This perk is a passive, fast regeneration that works under enemy fire and is displayed as HP per second instead of full regen time. It's always paired with repair-immunity.

Elemental Armor

A ship with this perk divides all received damages by 10 (after armor and armor piercing, hull bonus, etc) if the attacker's ammo is not elemental (flame, acid and minor/major electric). A ship with this perk must always have the special "elemental" hull.

New Units

Phytolian Starship

This is a locked starship (like the NCC, the Zevastator, etc) which is slow and has combat regen, repair-immunity and a medium armor. Its hull type is heavy. It also has a powerful but low RoF energy wave weapon with a moderate armor piercing. It has bonuses against heavy, ultra-heavy and structural hull types.

Description: A Phytolian starship constituted of living matter, using star's light to regenerate itself. Its armor layer makes it able to withstand storms of small attacks but its heavy weapon is better used against big, armored targets.

Phytolian Headhunter

This is a special ship that is spawned (friendly) by Lush Starbases and granted to players upon successful Strategic Prowess. AI and Humans cannot build it.

It has a decent speed (around 100), a rather high health count (half a MkI starship, equivalent to a low-cap MkV fleetship) and the vampirism ability. It also has a small regen (5~10 minutes?) and is immune to reparation. It is equipped with a relatively short-range and high RoF needle weapon which is able to deal with numerous small crafts but which has trouble piercing medium armors. High bonuses (6? 8?) against ultra-light, light and swarmer. TODO: which hull type?

New... Things

Symbiote Guardian: This regular Guardian (can be unlocked by AIs just like others, but at moderately higher difficulty) has combat regen and elemental armor (and elemental hull type). It also has a high RoF shell gun with a rather low bonus against light, ultra-light, swarmers and refractive hull types.

Phytolian Dire Guardian: This Phytolian inspired Dire Guardian has vampirism and engine damage (and the regular ultra-heavy hull type).

Gardener AI Type: This AI has the Symbiote Guardian unlocked in priority and uses one special Symbiote Guard Posts from the Space Gardens plot on each of its planets. It also has 3 free Symbiote GP on its homeworld: they don't take a GP slot, don't count as core GP themselves, don't protect OCS and don't induce AIP on death. (I hope to induce a more interesting dynamic in homeworld assault: instead of "just" defining a route from GP to GP and ending by the station, some GP are traps that slow/stop players' army and might be avoided, making that routing decision more complex and, hopefully, more interesting.)

AI Plot: Space Gardens

Overview

This Plot is mostly added difficulty with a small reward to motivate players to take the risks. It might form big roadblock on tree-like maps and interesting targets for dauntless players.

Lore

The AI captured some Phytolians and tried to turn them into hybrids, just like it did with Neinzul, and use them for defense as a new kind of planetary subcommander. However the Phytolian hybrids broke AI's control but didn't fight back. They colonized the planets entrusted to them and started defending them. They considered AI ships neutral and let them pass by, so the AI stopped further experimentation. The plot was tagged as a "partial success", but wasn't reproduced on a larger scale.

The first time a Space Garden is scouted in a game, players receive this journal entry.

Short Title: "Space Garden Found"
Long Title: "Our scout located strange defenses on $planetName."

"From: Jimmy J. Smith, Scout Division of Intel Headquarter, Home Command
To: Commander $playerName

Commander,
Our scouts reported the presence of strange structures defending $planetName. These structures looks like AI Guard Posts but the first chemical analysis reveal a metallic/organic layout similar to the known AI/Neinzul hybrids. But in place of Neinzul signature, these are more... plants. Our youngest drone pilot already called this planet a "space garden" and nobody here was able to come up with a better name.

The space telemetry lab of Dr. Davidson also reports the presence of a strange baseline in the AI warp grid emission. Our early guess is we are dealing with a special planetary subcommander with access to different units; however that might only impact reinforcement at this planet, and the waves sent from it might be normal.

Dr. Langstrom also asks me to tell you her lab will be able to gather more data from samples of these "symbiotes". She didn't tell how to extract these samples, but I'm sure you'll find out. Be careful, though; AI experiments are always nasty."

Mechanisms

Galaxy Generation

Space Gardens are special AI planets that are never seeded adjacent to an AI or Human homeworld. The number of planets selected depends on the plot's intensity and map's size (quantity = intensity * 80 / size). They are MkIV and have a special subcommander. This "gardener" sub'com always take a "Phyto-Command Station", which has some weapons, relatively high health and a potent combat-regen perk. The sub'com then picks all its guard posts from the Symbiote list below. To avoid strange compositions, the GPosts are picked from a pool of tickets where each GP type puts 3 tickets of his. This way, there will never be more than 3 identical GPosts in a planet, and more diverse selections are more likely. If a Symbiote GPost sounds a notch harder than the others, lowering its ticket count to 2 would be a possibility.

Symbiote Guard Posts

The Symbiotes are special phyto-GPosts used in the Space Gardens. They all have the combat-regen (or vampirism) ability and a hindering ability.

Drosera Symbiote: combat-regen and engine damage. (Also named "sundew".)

Dionaea Symbiote: vampirism and high damage.

Sarracenia Symbiote: combat-regen and swallow.

Rafflesia Symbiote: combat-regen, low RoF AoE attack (like a lightning turret) and gravitational effect (limit ship speed around).

Pinguicula Symbiote: combat-regen and tractor beams. (Also named "butterwort".)

Reinforcement

When a Space Garden receive reinforcements, it only picks triangle ships (MkIV) and Symbiote Guardians, regardless of the fact the controling AI has Symbiote Guardians unlocked or not. As Space Gardens cannot have starships or other guardians, Symbiote Guardians should be plenty (especially if the planet was alerted for an extended period of time).

Each space garden also receive as much free Symbiote Guardians per hour (evenly distributed across the hour) as the half of the plot's intensity.

Rewards

Each Symbiote Guard Post has "+100 Knowledge to Players on Death". Regardless of the number of metal deposits on the planet, a Space Garden has exactly 5 GPosts.

Integration

Lore Integration

We know the AIs have a long history of messing with the Neinzul. There is the hybrid plot, the Teuthida, and some other core GPosts neinzul-themed (cockroaches and mobile close combat GPost). This plot is another experimentation of the AI but this time on something else than Neinzul.

Strategic Integration

There is already plenty of capturable, but with the arrival of the hacking mechanisms, having a territory in one piece and hacking for remote targets was made a much more viable strategy. That plot would also add a raid or deepstrike opportunity.

Programming Integration

This plot might be built by "just" adding a new subcommander type, having access to a special pool of GPosts.

Play Tests

The strength of the regen and the maximum health of each Symbiote GPost must be finely tweaked to provide a balanced challenge. If the combat regen isn't potent enough, the Symbiotes won't be very different from regular GPosts (just movement hindering themed); on the other side, a too high regen would make them completely impervious to small and medium fleets. While small fleets must be unable to harm a single Symbiote (which should be MkIV, nothing less), a medium fleet with good micro must be able to take one down, and an engame fleet must be able to storm a Garden just like a core world. (If a Garden is harder than a homeworld, the whole point of the plot would be entirely missed.) A nasty MkIV sup'com might be a good target level of difficulty.

500 Knowledge for a raid/neutering sounds a balanced reward. At intensity 4 and 80 planets, there is 4 Gardens, which makes 2,000 Knowledge for 0 AIP if all four gardens are raided (and potentially deepstriked). Sounds balanced. At maximum intensity, still on 80 planets, that's 10 Gardens, so 5,000 Knowledge. On 120 planets, 15 Gardens and 7,500 K. For an upper bound, that sounds high but still balanced. Even at low intensity, 500 K for one raid and no AIP, that still sounds like an interesting, even if small, reward.

At 20 AIP for 3,000 Knowledge, raiding a Garden for 500 K with no AIP is like a free -3,333 AIP. At the default 1 AIP per 30 minutes, a Garden raid would be profitable if it takes less than 100 minutes, which sounds much more than enough. Raiding a Garden would be almost always profitable? However, with waves, CPA and reinforcement, the "time for AIP" conversion isn't always interesting for the players. Also, below 500 K per garden, I'm afraid the gain wouldn't be seen as interesting by the players.

Let's assume Gardens are more likely to be raided during the middle of the game; let's assume around the 5h mark. At intensity 4, that makes 10 additional Symbiote Guardians per Garden. At intensity 10, that makes 25 of them. That sounds a lot for the "default" intensity, but enough for the highest intensity. Maybe the spawn rate should start low and increase with time? Maybe it should be tied to the AI's difficulty?

Minor Faction: Phytolian Headhunters

Overview

This minor faction is only beneficial and should be balanced with some external negative additions.

In the galaxy are seeded Lush Starbase (as many as MF's intensity). They are immobile, indestructible structures resembling nebulae's splinter factions. When players' units destroy hostile units on a planet with a Lush Starbase, the structures silently accumulates points (a bit like the Vengeance Generators). Once it reaches a threshold, it activates, sends a journal entry to the players and spawns a squadron of friendly Phytolian ships. The journal entry explain the Phytolians were dormant in their starbase because their master didn't need them anymore, but the fight awoke them. They found humans valorous and decided to help them. The better kill/death ratio players have, the more Phytolians will help them.

First Scout

Journal Entry

When a Lush Starbase is scouted for the first time, players receive this journal entry:

Short Title: "Lush Starbase Found"
Long Title: "Our scout located a strange starbase on $planetName."

"From: Jimmy J. Smith, Scout Division of Intel Headquarter, Home Command
To: Commander $playerName

Commander,
Our scouts reported the presence of an unknown structure orbiting around $planetName. It looks like nothing known: it's neither AI, Spire, Zenith or Neinzul, and certainly not Human. If I were to describe it, and if it wasn't in space, I would say it's covered with plants. The team already named it "Lush Starbase".
As we have no clue about who build it and why, I preferred sending this message directly. All we can tell for now is that it's completely dormant: Dr. Davidson's Space Telemetry Lab reports zero activity. If we are to learn more, I guess we'll need to find a way to activate it; that being a good idea or not remains to be seen."

Activation Condition

Each Lush Starbase (LS) has a hidden counter; each time a ship is destroyed by a player controlled ship on a planet with a LS, that LS's counter is incremented by the destroyed ship's metal cost. Every N seconds, the counter loses X points (with a minimum of 0). When the counter reaches a threshold (lower at higher intensity), the LS awakens.

Other Scouts

No new LS scouting will trigger a journal entry. However, each activation condition can be met once per LS.

First Activation

Journal Entry

When a Lush Starbase awakens for the first time, players receive this journal entry:

Short Title: "Lush Starbase is Awakening"
Long Title: "We received signals from the strange starbase on $planetName."

"From: Dr. Dorothy V. Langstrom, Xenobiology Lab, Home Command
To: $playerName

Commander,
The "Lush Starbase", as the scout division calls it, has just awaken. Several space ships or similar units have emerged from it as we receive a sort of transmission. There were many forms of undecipherable signals, but one looks like an old Zenith protocol; we are already familiar with the bases of this protocol, but either we don't fully master it or the Lush Starbase uses an even older version of it. Anyway, here is what the linguistic team was able to translate from this familiar segment.

Zenith Protocol: Slave/Master Control v5.13.?.? (partial match)
EMITTER IDENTIFICATION: Defense Starbase ??Phytolian?? #$randomNumber
RECEIVER IDENTIFICATION: Unknown Space Force on $planetName
Greeting / Protocol Synchronization
Fight against ??LifeLess?? (best guess: AI) noticed.
Decision to awake: OK
Decision to help: ... debating
??: ??
Request: Show ??tactical prowess??.
??Reward??: Help against ??LifeLess??.

Warning: No Master Order.
Autonomy Protocol Engaged.
??
Dispatching ??HeadHunter?? Squadron.
Goal: hunt down ??LifeLess?? units in defense perimeter.
"

Headhunter Squadron

Upon activation, the Lush Starbase will spawn a squadron of friendly Phytolian Headhunters. The squadron is bigger at higher intensity. This squadron will remain compact, hunt down local AI ships and GPosts and retreat in case of heavy damages. It will only cross wormholes if there is no more targets around the LS and it won't venture outside of planets adjacent to a LS planet. (That means it can extend its territory if several LS are at most 3 hops from one another.) If these planets are under Human control, they will patrol them and engage waves and other intruders (Preservation Wardens, Human Marauders, etc) , but still staying inside the LS perimeter. A LS being seeded on a nomad planet can lead to very interesting situations.

Each LS will track its own squadron and slowly replace dead ships (without exceeding the squadron max size). At intensity 1, a LS can produce up to 1 ship per hour; at intensity 10, it can nearly negate loses and recover a squadronwipe within minutes. Other intensities are interpolated between these extremes.

Tactical Prowess

In order to gain a more significant help from the Phytolians, the players must accomplish a "tactical prowess" within the boundaries of an awaken LS (at most 1 hop away). Each time a ship is destroyed in the LS vicinity, it count its metal cost, tracking players' kills and players' losses apart. Like the awakening count, these counts decrease with time. When the count is both above a threshold and the ratio kills/deaths is more than 150%, the LS consider it a tactical prowess and trigger the alliance. (That ratio might scale with first AI's difficulty level.)

The LS might make distinctions between kills on AI territory and on Human territory, because wiping a small wave with turrets doesn't sounds like a true martial prowess (however, tanking a big wave with few loses does count as one). Also, if the players capture all planets in the LS vicinity, they will need waves or threat intrusion in order to fulfill the prowess.

Other Activations

No new LS activation will trigger a journal entry. However, each tactical prowess / alliance condition can be met once per LS.

First Alliance

Journal Entry

When a tactical prowess is fulfilled for the first time, players receive this journal entry:

Short Title: "A Phytolian Squadron is joining our forces"
Long Title: "A Phytolian Squadron emerged from Lush Starbase on $planetName."

"From: Dr. Dorothy V. Langstrom, Xenobiology Lab, Home Command
To: $playerName

Commander,
Our Xenobiology Lab was able to further analyze our new friends. It appears they are made of living matter, similarly to the Zenith beings and servants. Chemical composition mostly matches, but only partially. It seems they used to be Zenith servants but they either evolved or were released, maybe escaped, with the Zenith decline. However we're not sure if they were experimental or commonplace. It appears they can use solar energy for powering internal chemical reactions in a similar way to those used by our chlorophyllous plants. It sounds clear they have been genetically engineered for longevity and energy efficiency.
The communication is improving. We identified several signals as other languages: a couple of Spire dialects, a Neinzul "song" and even a basic AI protocol. There is still several signals we don't understand at all, but by cross-checking, we were able to improve our understanding. The Spire signals are formal congratulations and the Neinzul one partially matches with a joy/victory song. We were even able to answer and we got a positive reply. Here is the most relevant part of their last message that might be of great interest to you.

Zenith Protocol: Slave/Master Control v5.13.0.? (partial match)
EMITTER IDENTIFICATION: Defense Starbase Phytolian #$randomNumber
RECEIVER IDENTIFICATION: Human ??WarMaster??
Greeting / Protocol Synchronization
Tactical prowess noticed.
Congratulations.
Decision to awake: OK
Decision to help: OK

New Master ??Negociation??.
Status: Allied/Slave
Request: Orders
Dispatching HeadHunter Squadron.
Goal: ... waiting for data.

PS:
A new squadron just emerged from the Lush Starbase and broadcast a signal mimicking our military controls. Their capacity to adapt is truly remarkable. It appears they are awaiting our orders.
"

Granted Squadron

The players each gain a squadron of Phytolian Headhunters which they directly control, around 1.5x the size of a squadron spawned as ally (so it scales with intensity). However, this player-controlled squadron won't be renewed by the LSs. Each LS grants only one squadron and, once granted, the LS won't check for prowess anymore. However, it will continue to renew its own squadron. No new tactical prowess will trigger a journal entry.

Integration

Lore Integration

We know Humans have basic knowledge of Zenith language: here is a quote from a Fallen Spire journal entry: "Our previous contact with the Zenith and others has made the linguistic situation at least possible".
We also know Dr. Dorothy Langstrom and her Xenobiology Lab from the same Fallen Spire campaign.

Strategic Integration

This MF sounds reasonably in check, on the raw power topic. The Headhunters would sure be resilient, but if their raw damage output isn't overwhelming, they shouldn't enter the superweapon MF category.

It appears that, at higher intensities, a player would be able to use the vampirism ability of the Headhunters to easily fulfill prowesses for distant LS. Why not? That sounds like a fun "quest".

Programming Integration

Lush Starbases are displayed by the "Immobile Minor Factions" filter.
Each scouted and inactivated Lush Starbase adds a line "Wake up Lust Starbase on $planetName" into the objectives list, under "Turn Minor Factions to your advantage".
Each activated and not-yet-allied Lush Starbase adds a line "Fulfill Tactical Prowess around $planetName" into the objectives list, under "Turn Minor Factions to your advantage".
The size of the squadrons (allied and controlled) must be influenced by the "ship cap" option and the number of human homeworlds.

The AI that will control a Phytolian Headhunter squadron might be a challenge to create. I hope it won't be too complicated: "stay packed, don't exit LS's adjacent planets, hunt hostiles, retreat when damaged".

Play Tests

Things to test:
- LS awakening counter's threshold and decreasing must be adjusted. Neutering a well reinforced planet must do it, but passing by and destroying only few ships mustn't.
- Ratio between squadron size and MF's intensity. First proposal is: as many units as intensity in allied squadrons (4 Headhunters at intensity 4) and 1.5x in controlled squadrons (6 at intensity 4). At difficulty 10, that makes 15 controlled Headhunters per prowess, and a grand total of 150 available controlled Headhunter for the 10 LS in the galaxy. (I like simple formulas.)

Minor Faction: Phytolian Decayed Masters

Overview

The Phytolians were put to sleep because their masters disappeared as the Zenith civilisation slowly crumbled. This Minor Faction is the occasion to learn more about their origin. It adds to the galaxy both a roaming golem and a broken one.

This Minor Faction has no intensity and aims to be self-balanced.

Lore

The Phytolians were created by two Zenith beings having great knowledge in the Zenith equivalent for DNA. They created the Phytolians for long-term defense and resource-efficiency.

One of the two went mad over the eons, in a similar way to the Devourer Golem. It is called "Decayed Phytolian Golem" and roams the galaxy, aimlessly, only obsessed by its own survival.

The last one died eons ago and its broken hull can be found somewhere in the galaxy. It is called "Broken Phytolian Golem" and follows the usual rules of the Broken Golems.

The Humans/players are free to make their choices (and might even not understand at first they have a choice). But the "good ending" (the one reached by following the most morale path) yeld the full disclosure of the backstory.

Decayed Phytolian Golem

This half-living golem randomly roams the galaxy. When entering a planet, it tries to exit it by another wormhole than the one it came from (if the planet has at least 2 wormholes). It is escorted by Decayed Phytolian Sentinel: rather fast and short-ranged, powerful units with Minor Electric ammo, and the Elemental Armor and Combat Regen perks. They are a fixed number and, while not at maximum, the Golem slowly recreates them, one at a time. The maximum number and respawn rate depend on the first AI's difficulty. The Golem itself has a medium firepower (for a golem) and is indestructible while at least one Decayed Sentinel is escorting it (the tooltip of the golem and the fighters explains that). The AI and the Decayed Golem don't attack each others; AI planets are not put into alert by its passage.

When the Decayed Golem randomly walks into a Human planet, Human units consider it a menace and engage it (turrets in range, FRD units, etc). The Sentinels will reach out to attack as if they had a attack-move order toward the Decayed Golem but won't pursue hostiles. The Golem itself will follow its random path, attacking units in its range and destroying Command Stations (and FFields) if they are in its way. The Sentinels will disengage and follow their master when it corsses a wormhole. When all its Sentinels are destroyed, the Golem becomes destructible (turrets and FRD units target it) and immediately change its route toward the nearest AI or neutral planet, then resume its random pathing. If destroyed (which is supposed to be only doable at midgame or later), nothing else happen and the threat is definitely removed from the game.

Broken Phytolian Golem

That Broken Golem is randomly seeded in the galaxy. It can be captured and repaired just like any other golem. Once repaired, it has a very low health cap (as the total metal cost is equivalent to a regular golem, its metal/hp ratio is very high) but a tremendous combat-regen perk, paired with a medium weaponry (for a golem). The description of its broken version adds an enigmatic note to its tooltip: "That Broken Golem seems to be encircled with a special material; our Xenology team notices a resemblance with Zenith funeral rites and recommend not capturing this planet."

While there is a Human Command Station at its planet and the golem is not fully repaired, waves of Decayed Phytolian Sentinels will emerge from the gravity well's edge at a rate and strength that depends on the first AI's difficulty. Meanwhile, a warning will permanently be displayed in the top-left corner of the screen: "Disturbing the Grave of a Phytolian Golem on planet $planetName Awakens Sentinels. Abandon the Planet to Appease Them." When the Command Station on that planet is destroyed or scraped, the Broken Golem cannot be repaired anymore and the waves ceases. If a new Command Station is built, the waves will begin anew and the golem will be repairable again. The Sentinels will stop to spawn but the remaining ones will continue to fight Humans, without crossing wormholes. Once repaired, the spawns cease and the Phytolian Golem is for players to control (not Broken, not Decayed, just "Phytolian Golem").

There is no other negative balance than the roaming Decayed Phytolian Golem (no AI Exogalactic Wave, unless the regular Broken Golem Minor Faction is enabled, of course).

The "Good" Path

First Step

The Decayed Phytolian Sentinel's tooltip ends by an enigmatic line: "Despite its ligneous structure, that ship seems sensible to reclamation nanites." If players manage, by chance or purpose, to capture a Decayed Phytolian Sentinel from the Decayed Phytolian Golem, they will receive a journal entry. (If the Broken Phytolian Golem has been captured or the Decayed Phytolian Golem destroyed, that journal entry isn't delivered and that "good" path is lost for the current game.)

Short Title: "Decayed Phytolian Sentinel Captured"
Long Title: "We captured a strange Phytolian ship and received signals from it."

"From: Dr. Dorothy V. Langstrom, Xenobiology Lab, Home Command
To: Commander $playerName

Commander,
It appears we just captured a Phytolian vessel by the mean of reclamation nanites. As out protocols automatically took control of the reclaimed ship, the last sent back multiple signals. Most were undecipherable but our best translation come from an old Zenith protocol. Here is all we could get out of our translation algorithms.

Zenith Protocol: Slave/Master Control v5.13.?.? (partial match)
EMITTER IDENTIFICATION: ??Phytolian?? Sentinel / Escort #$randomNumber
RECEIVER IDENTIFICATION: New Master ??
Greeting / Protocol Synchronization
Help Request
Assertion: Protocol of ??Decayed?? Golem ?? Deficient.
Assertion: Repair Possible.
Assessment: Possible Alliance Once Repaired.
Request: Bring Sentinels to ??Grave?? of ??Secondary?? Master.
Star Coordinates: $planetName.
??Beg??

My personal interpretaion is that this ship, while partially decayed and controlled by our nanites, is asking us to bring it or other like it to a specific destination. I'm not a soldier and wether or not this is doable or even wise isn't me to tell. However, this... thing is alive... kinda. And asking for help, no less."

The planet $planetName is the one where the Broken Phytolian Golem has been seeded. This event adds an entry in the objectives list, under the "Turn Minor Faction to your Advantage" sublist: "Bring a Decayed Phytolian Sentinel to $planetName."

Second Step

If the players bring a captured Decayed Phytolian Sentinel to that planet (it doesn't matter it is the first captured or another one; the first can die without consequences), a new journal entry is delivered. Depending on wether or not the planet has been captured by Humans in the meantime, that journal entry may be one or the other. If the Broken Phytolian Golem is still neutral, the journal entry is this one:

Short Title: "Phytolian Sentinel Enters the Grave"
Long Title: "We brought a Phytolian Sentinel in $planetName, as asked."

"From: Dr. Dorothy V. Langstrom, Xenobiology Lab, Home Command
To: Commander $playerName

Commander,
Upon entering the asked planet, the Phytolian vessel broke the bound of our command & control nanites and emitted another series of signals. It then rushed toward the Broken Phytolian Golem. Here is our best translation of the old Zenith protocol.

Zenith Protocol: Slave/Master Control v5.13.0.? (partial match)
EMITTER IDENTIFICATION: Phytolian Sentinel / Escort #$randomNumber
RECEIVER IDENTIFICATION: Human ??WarMaster??
Gratitude
Assertion: ?? Here ??Grave?? of ??Creator?? Master ??.
Assertion: ??Sleep/Death??
Assessment: ??Awakening/Resurrection?? Possible.
Request: No ??Capture??. Defense. Bring more Sentinels."

The Sentinel will revert to friendly/neutral and rush toward the Broken Phytolian Golem and start repairing it (without consuming players' metal). Capturing and bringing more sentinels will accelerate the reparation. If the Golem was captured by players, the Sentinels will instead turn hostile upon entering the planet and the first time, players will receive and alternate journal entry:

"From: Dr. Dorothy V. Langstrom, Xenobiology Lab, Home Command
To: Commander $playerName

Commander,
Upon entering the asked planet, the Phytolian vessel broke the bound of our command & control nanites and emitted another series of signals. It then turned hostile toward all Human ships. The Zenith part of the signal is vastly incoherent; our automated translation stutters on nearly all words and I'm afraid I can only forward you the incoherent pieces it managed to approximate. Another signal from the same bundle has a partial match with a Neinzul Warsong. The whole sounds like sudden madness. I contacted an archeologist colleague of our Xenobiology lab; she cannot help with the translation but she noted that perturbing a Zenith funeral site might have been unwise.

Zenith Protocol: ?? ?? ??
RECEIVER IDENTIFICATION: ??Grave?? ??Corrupter??
Humans bad ??
All ??hopes?? lost.
Destroy ?? destroyer."

Third Step

If the Sentinels are protected and the Broken Phytolian Golem reaches complete reparation (without being captured by humans), it doesn't turn into Phytolian Golem, but into "Efficiency, Revived Phytolian Master" (friendly/neutral). Efficiency has the same perks and stats as a human-repaired (and human-controlled) Phytolian Golem but with armor and a way better weapon. Upon Efficiency"s resurrection, players receive a journal entry.

"From: Efficiency, Revived Phytolian Master
To: Commander $playerName
TODO (Thank you / I can cure the Decayed Phytolian Golem)
"

Efficiency will then chase the Decayed Phytolian Golem, along with any friendly Sentinels. When on the same planet, the Decayed Golem will stop roaming and fight: it will spawn a huge number of hostile Decayed Phytolian Sentinels and attack Efficiency. If Human players don't participate in the battle, Efficiency will die and the scenario will end here. The players must help Efficiency to destroy hostile Decayed Sentinels; once all Sentinels are destroyed and the Decayed Golem is vulnerable, it turns into "Inspiration, Revived Phytolian Master" and players receive a new journal entry:

"From: Inspiration, Revived Phytolian Master
To: Commander $playerName
TODO (Thank you / I'm cured from madness / We will help you fight the AI)
"

Integration

Lore Integration

The fact that Efficiency, upon resurrection, is able to easily communicate with the Human players may feel incoherent. I don't remember Zenith speaking for themselves. (Spire have this particular way of speaking; Zenith may have another recognizable phrasing.)

DESIGN

The theme's core for this expansion is a new race of aliens, the Phytolians, and their awakening after the disappearance of their master.
The mechanism's core is that "tactics matters" (not just grand strategy, but also the battle to battle maneuvers and clever use of tools and hull bonuses and such, without sinking into tedious micromanagement). The mechanisms that reinforce that core are the combat-regeneration and elemental armor, which favors and sometimes forces clever tactics and accurate game reading.

The core's presentation is the "Phytolian Headhunters" Minor Faction: it fully presents the Phytolians and their awakening.
- Problem: it does introduces the combat-regen perk, but doesn't introduce the elemental armor perk.

The AI Plot "Space Gardens" is the AI facet on the core: a new kind of AI planet with its own challenge and reward. It uses the combat-regen on guard posts in a trap theme.

The "Phytolian Decayed Masters" Minor Faction is the Zenith facet on the core: it focus on the period of the creation of the Phytolians.

TODO: Phytolian - Spire facet.
TODO: Phytolian - Neinzul facet.
TODO: Phytolian - Human facet.
TODO: better exploitation of the Elemental Armor mechanism?
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Cinth

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 07:20:38 PM »
Plot twist, this species is born of the planet SBR takes place on.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2016, 02:09:41 AM »
Plot twist, this species is born of the planet SBR takes place on.
... Made by two Zenith beings?
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Cinth

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2016, 02:13:21 AM »
Plot twist, this species is born of the planet SBR takes place on.
... Made by two Zenith beings?

The planet SBR takes place on is sentient.  It just doesn't communicate well with you.  Nothing saying some Mad Zenith Scientist didn't find a way to genetically enhance the planet OR!  further twist, the planet wins SBR and assimilates all the aliens and tech.  That's how it becomes spacefaring.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2016, 03:07:11 AM »
Plot twist, this species is born of the planet SBR takes place on.
... Made by two Zenith beings?

The planet SBR takes place on is sentient.  It just doesn't communicate well with you.  Nothing saying some Mad Zenith Scientist didn't find a way to genetically enhance the planet OR!  further twist, the planet wins SBR and assimilates all the aliens and tech.  That's how it becomes spacefaring.
Em. Did you read the post? There is a full MF about that race's origin. Also, SBR's lore is less than settled and I won't venture into it before it's officially out and spoiled.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.

Offline Cinth

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2016, 03:30:42 AM »
Em. Did you read the post? There is a full MF about that race's origin. Also, SBR's lore is less than settled and I won't venture into it before it's officially out and spoiled.

Sure I read it, I'm just having some fun with it.  A little less serious  :D
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: [AIW2] [EXP] [WIP] Phytolian's Awakening
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 04:04:33 AM »
Em. Did you read the post? There is a full MF about that race's origin. Also, SBR's lore is less than settled and I won't venture into it before it's officially out and spoiled.

Sure I read it, I'm just having some fun with it.  A little less serious  :D
Oh, okay.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.