Author Topic: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire  (Read 8563 times)

Offline x4000

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Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« on: July 16, 2014, 11:27:06 AM »
Original: http://arcengames.com/spectralraces/

logo9

Spectral Empire is our upcoming 4X title, which is slated for release in April 2015.  This is something that we're working on in tandem with the current expansions for AI War and The Last Federation, as well as the general ongoing work on those two games, and the linux ports of all our other titles.  Whew, busy times!

Anyway, there are a few things that I wanted to share today about it, just as an early teaser.

The Last Federation And AI War Are In The Same Universe

This hasn't really been stated outright before, but I view these two games as being in two different galaxies in the same universe.  The Last Federation takes place in just a single solar system somewhere out in the cosmos, while AI War: Fleet Command takes place in a portion of our own galaxy, connected by wormhole networks.  Nowhere in either game is the other referenced, and that makes perfect sense because they are nowhere near one another.

But what a lot of people -- even sci-fi enthusiasts -- really don't think about very hard is just how HUGE the universe is.  You could claim that every sci-fi work ever written by anyone was all in the same universe, and it would still be a pretty empty universe if that was all that was going on.  (Lots of parallel Earths in that case, too).

Anyway, the relative timelines of AI War and TLF are not made clear, and I don't intend to clarify that here.  However, suffice it to say that Spectral Empire takes place far into the future from the timelines of both games... and it brings them together, at least a little.

The Planet Of Ivoria

Ivoria is a large planet somewhere far away from both the normal stomping grounds of AI War and TLF, and as noted the events of this game take place also far into the future from either of those other games.  However... mysteriously there is a rather unlikely gathering of races on this planet.  Races from both games, plus all new races, all make an appearance on this one large planet.  What exactly is the story behind that?  Well, that's something you'll be able to piece together from the story as you play, and I'm not about to spoil that here.

Unraveling The Story

Before you ask, the game is not going to have a traditional scripted campaign like Age of Empires or similar does -- that's not where the story is.  The way that a game plays out in SE will be the same as in AI War or TLF, where it's all procedurally generated.  You won't always get all the bits of the story in a given playthrough, but you will pick up clues as to what is going on depending on how you play.  I really don't want to say more about it than that at this time, for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that one thing that encourages multiple playstyles is how the game reacts to you and what you learn about the world when you do.

The Included Races From The Last Federation

TLFRaces

For anyone who has played TLF, the above races are familiar, and you can skip ahead to the next section.  You already know these guys, and they work as they do in TLF.  You will notice that the Hydrals and the Obscura are not included in Spectral Empire, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

With the Hydrals, TLF is really all about them, and I felt it was appropriate to keep them to that story.  For another, based on story events in TLF, it doesn't really make sense that they would be plentiful in the far future, if you catch my drift.

With the Obscura, those are a really cool race and one that I just feel like makes the most sense as kind of a Borg-like presence in TLF's upcoming expansion, and that gets undermined if they are just a basic race in Spectral Empire as well.

Another thing that you'll notice is that with the groupings and labels that I have above, I have massively oversimplified what the races are actually like.  But the very quick rundown:

Andors are robotic goody-two-things on your feet.  They aren't above a fight, but they aren't belligerent at all, and they tend to build utopias for themselves and then want to help everyone else.  They are the solar system's "busybodies," as well."  In TLF, these are often grouped with the Peltians and Skylaxians as the "good guy" races.

Acutians are robotic capitalists, and are known for being cold and calculating as well as huge polluters.  They aren't evil, per se, they are just completely amoral.  In TLF, these are often grouped with the Burlusts and the Thoraxians as the "bad guy" races.

Burlusts are kind of like Klingons on crack.  With chicken legs, lots of warlords, and National Murder Day is definitely a favorite holiday.

Thoraxians are a hivemind insectoid race, with lots of workers that are part of the networked consciousness of their queen.  The queens are a bit worse than amoral, really; they don't really value life at all, and they are both moody and selfish.  Their race is the absolute terror in terms of ground combat.  They are kind of a cross between the Buggers in Ender's Game and the aliens in Alien.

Peltians are communist barn owl farmers.  They are pathetic in a fight, not technologically astute, but really easygoing.  So at least they have that going for them, I guess.  They are kind of the Ewoks of the solar system.  Although, I will say, in space ships they are just as deadly as anyone else.  And since they are so pathetic in ground combat, they instead take to suicide bombing with their (for some reason manned) personnel pods, and they delight in bombing the heck out of planets from orbit.  Not that they'll be able to do any of that in Spectral Empire, since SE takes place entirely on the surface of Ivoria.

Skylaxians are extremely honorable, and also by far the most technologically advanced of the TLF races.  They aren't above warfare, but they do have a keen sense of the value of life.

Boarines are kind of a cross between werewolves and the snow beast from The Empire Strikes Back.  They live in very cold climates, get into big fights with one another if they live in too close of proximity to one another, and in general are isolationist.  It will be interesting to see how they have adapted to more cramped life on Ivoria, yes?  These and the Evucks are basically the kind of "neutral" races in TLF, really.

Evucks are technologically advanced, and in some ways they are wise, but they are also incredibly paranoid.  They also have an "if we're going down, we're taking everyone else with us" attitude.  Not great friends.

The Included Races From AI War: Fleet Command

AIWarRaces

The first thing that AI War players will notice is that neither the humans nor the AI are included here.  Why is that?  Well, those two factions are just so central to AI War, and so heavily explored there, that they don't make sense to bring to SE.  Plus, humans as a race are just so... vanilla to me, when it comes to sci-fi.  I wanted to stick to the more interesting races.

The first three expansions for AI War each explored one of the races above (The Zenith Remnant, Children of Neinzul, and Light of the Spire).  Even so, despite the bits of backstory you get from those, and the sense of them you get from their technology, the races themselves are never really someone you get to know on a more personal level.  That changes in SE.

Zenith are an ancient dead race in AI War, and thus only one that you ever find the remnants of their derelict technology.  But what technology you do find in AI War is extremely powerful, and can be repaired by either the humans or the AI into terrifying war machines.  Of course, just because the Zenith are completely absent in our galaxy doesn't mean that the entire race is dead, which is just the assumption that the humans made.  Turns out there was at least one contingent that survived...

Neinzul are extremely short-lived (like fruit fly lifespans -- an earth day or so per individual), and very swarm-like.  They aren't a hivemind or anything like that, but they do share collective knowledge telepathically with one another.  It's the only way that a race that short-lived could ever actually accomplish anything as a society, right?  This is basically all you learn about these guys in AI War, but there is more to find out in SE...

Spire are another very powerful race, but not extinct like the Zenith supposedly were.  The weaponry of the Spire varies from the small to the most-massive-ever, and everything they have is glowing white and very mysterious.  You never really meet them, per se -- not in the flesh, anyway -- in AI War.  Except... turns out that you were meeting them all along, and until now (right now) it was never known.  The "spacecraft" themselves are actually the Spire organisms, which are kind of cyborg-ish in nature.  How do these sort of beings adapt to living on a planet's surface?  Well, in their distant past they once lived on planets, so it's not new to them...

New Races Unique To Spectral Empire

SERaces

You didn't think that we would have a new game without any new races, did you?  As fun as it is to pull in the races from AI War and TLF, there also needs to be some new blood.  Granted, the majority of the races (11 out of 14) do indeed come from our older games, but a big reason for that was that we already had a deep roster of interesting races that our fans are familiar with.

Coming up with some new variant of race that is Burlust-like, rather than just using the Burlusts, both keeps the races shallower as well as more confusing when you are moving from game to game.  I felt that it was a lot more sensible to do a mixture of new and old, deepening the old stuff in cool ways as well as making it so that when you encounter the Burlusts for the first time in this game, you know what to expect immediately if you already played TLF.  It's basically the reason that Star Wars and Star Trek keep using the same core races while slowly extending them, rather than having completely new mixes of races in every story.

Anyhow, the new folks:

Fenyn are nature-lovers that basically put the Peltians to shame on that score.  It's true that the Peltians are agrarian and thus very sensitive to the environment, but they are cultivators whereas the Fenyn are more about preservation.  Not that they don't build giant cities and technology like anyone else, but preserving vast tracts of wilderness is equally important to them.  Despite their "tree hugger" nature, and their waif-like appearance, they are both beautiful and extremely deadly.

Krolin are crustacean-like bipedal creatures with lobster-style claws and very intricate hard shell organic armor.  They are excellent fighters, and absolutely ruthless in a fight, but they are mostly dispassionate.  They are extremely fascist, however, so there is that.  Authority and order matters a lot to them, but the actual individuals in their society have varying degrees of opinion about all that, and there are outlaws among them.

Yali are very spiritual and meditative, and believe that they alone are "enlightened."  They don't bear any ill will toward anyone else, but they are quite intent on spreading enlightenment.  Via words if they can, but when words fail they are willing to sacrifice peace and lives in the sake of the protection of wisdom.  Wisdom, in their view, is similar to but separate from knowledge, and thus they are by no means a super-technologically-advanced race.  And yes, those are snakes on the ends of their six arms.  Along with the head of a snake, adorned with ram's horns.

The Specter

There is one other presence on Ivoria, but I won't say much about him/it at the moment.  It has a masculine voice, and all of the races are aware of it, and they each have their own name for it.  It is never seen, but makes its will known in a variety of ways.  It is not a faction like the others.  The nature of this presence is one of the core mysteries of the story of the game.  It's also where the voice acting comes in for this one.

Thanks for reading!
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2014, 11:38:37 AM »
But what a lot of people -- even sci-fi enthusiasts -- really don't think about very hard is just how HUGE the universe is.  You could claim that every sci-fi work ever written by anyone was all in the same universe, and it would still be a pretty empty universe if that was all that was going on.  (Lots of parallel Earths in that case, too).

Haven't heard about Tommy Westphall yet?
Basically: every TV show ever made is just part of Tommy's imagination.  The most recent version of the visualization will let you walk from The Adams Family to CSI: New York by way of Friends (or Lost).  Or you can get from Sarah Jane Adventures to Gilligan's Island via the Drew Cary Show.

Offline x4000

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 11:41:49 AM »
Niiiice! :)
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 11:45:57 AM »
Having just finished reading the rest of it,

Quote
The Specter

There is one other presence on Ivoria, but I won’t say much about him/it at the moment.  It has a masculine voice, and all of the races are aware of it, and they each have their own name for it.  It is never seen, but makes its will known in a variety of ways.  It is not a faction like the others.  The nature of this presence is one of the core mysteries of the story of the game.  It’s also where the voice acting comes in for this one.

I'm getting "Kosh" level feelings here. ;)

Offline x4000

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2014, 11:57:44 AM »
Nope, but interesting! :)
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2014, 12:42:11 PM »
Nope, but interesting! :)

I figured, that would be cliche at this point (despite the fact that I don't think its ever been done again).  But that was the feeling I got.

Offline wwwhhattt

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2014, 02:04:24 PM »
Dammit Chris, I do not like looking forward to games that I won't be able to play in the next month  >:(

The whole story thing sounds too good. It kinda reminds me of Analogue: A Hate Story, which is about as dissimilar to this as it's possible to get. So yeah, not bad. And that is one nice logo.

Offline nas1m

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2014, 02:37:51 PM »
Sounds great!
I really like the concepts for the three new races as well as "the specter" (which very much reminds me of Dan Simmons' Shrike for some reason - in case you know it - if not I definitely recommend picking up  Hyperion and its successor Fall of Hyperion, I think).

The three new race icons are gorgeous - great work. I like the Spire one as well.

Unfortunately I can't say this for the Zenith and Neinzul ones :-\.
They just don't seem to fit into the rest of the race emblems in my book...

Well, likely much to early to complain about stuff like artistic consistency, right ;)?
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Offline Teal_Blue

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2014, 12:02:20 AM »
something is wrong with the icons?

I thought they were fine. Why would you think they weren't?

-Teal


Offline Histidine

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2014, 12:46:14 AM »
Spire are another very powerful race, but not extinct like the Zenith supposedly were.  The weaponry of the Spire varies from the small to the most-massive-ever, and everything they have is glowing white and very mysterious.  You never really meet them, per se -- not in the flesh, anyway -- in AI War.  Except... turns out that you were meeting them all along, and until now (right now) it was never known.  The "spacecraft" themselves are actually the Spire organisms, which are kind of cyborg-ish in nature.  How do these sort of beings adapt to living on a planet's surface?  Well, in their distant past they once lived on planets, so it's not new to them...
Aaaah headcanon exploded. I was operating under the assumption that it was the Zenith who were the living ships, and the Spire were (unlike the Zs or the Neinzul) more typically anthropomorphic aliens with individual human-sized bodies and such, which would explain why humans get along so well with them.

I guess I can shelve (not-)Spire-dating-sim now  :'(

...and then I'm going to have a few words with Drs. Davidson and Langstrom from the FS campaign. How did they miss something this big?!  >:(

Offline nas1m

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2014, 07:08:07 AM »
I thought they were fine. Why would you think they weren't?
I, by no means, wanted to imply that the icons are abyssmal, mind you :).

They just stand out from the rest for me, likely due to all other race emblems depicting the physical appearance of each race to some degree (which I like) - which does not seem to be case for the Zenith and Neinzul emblems ???. Maybe its just me not being able to make out what the emblems actually are supposed to depict, though - I definitely had some trouble with the one for the "wisdom" race before reading Chris' text.

I just feel like, if you would put all the emblems together into one screen, they would look like they originated from different games (instead of a single game with a coherent style) - which is bad in my book.

OT: Just guessing from your current avatar - but did you back Rain World as well? They have a really nice pathfinding related update going over on Kickstarter - in case you haven't read it yet. Worth a read!
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 07:12:07 AM by nas1m »
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Offline x4000

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2014, 09:48:03 AM »
Spire are another very powerful race, but not extinct like the Zenith supposedly were.  The weaponry of the Spire varies from the small to the most-massive-ever, and everything they have is glowing white and very mysterious.  You never really meet them, per se -- not in the flesh, anyway -- in AI War.  Except... turns out that you were meeting them all along, and until now (right now) it was never known.  The "spacecraft" themselves are actually the Spire organisms, which are kind of cyborg-ish in nature.  How do these sort of beings adapt to living on a planet's surface?  Well, in their distant past they once lived on planets, so it's not new to them...
Aaaah headcanon exploded. I was operating under the assumption that it was the Zenith who were the living ships, and the Spire were (unlike the Zs or the Neinzul) more typically anthropomorphic aliens with individual human-sized bodies and such, which would explain why humans get along so well with them.

I guess I can shelve (not-)Spire-dating-sim now  :'(

...and then I'm going to have a few words with Drs. Davidson and Langstrom from the FS campaign. How did they miss something this big?!  >:(

Well, the Zenith do have organic components to their ships, and some of their ships are actually alive.  But those aren't the Zenith themselves -- that's more like them riding a "Space Whale" or something.  In terms of the actual Spire stuff that is in the FS campaign, one thing to note is that I mentioned how the Spire had planetary origins.  So they did start out more that way, but kind of evolved in the opposite direction until at least some of them became living ships.  A lot of the Spire that you're meeting in FS are more splinter factions rather than the main race.
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Offline Draco18s

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2014, 09:58:45 AM »
They just stand out from the rest for me, likely due to all other race emblems depicting the physical appearance of each race to some degree (which I like) - which does not seem to be case for the Zenith and Neinzul emblems ???. Maybe its just me not being able to make out what the emblems actually are supposed to depict, though - I definitely had some trouble with the one for the "wisdom" race before reading Chris' text.

The Zenith one is an Armored Golem:
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 10:00:56 AM by Draco18s »

Offline Coppermantis

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2014, 10:18:44 AM »
Spire are another very powerful race, but not extinct like the Zenith supposedly were.  The weaponry of the Spire varies from the small to the most-massive-ever, and everything they have is glowing white and very mysterious.  You never really meet them, per se -- not in the flesh, anyway -- in AI War.  Except... turns out that you were meeting them all along, and until now (right now) it was never known.  The "spacecraft" themselves are actually the Spire organisms, which are kind of cyborg-ish in nature.  How do these sort of beings adapt to living on a planet's surface?  Well, in their distant past they once lived on planets, so it's not new to them...
Aaaah headcanon exploded. I was operating under the assumption that it was the Zenith who were the living ships, and the Spire were (unlike the Zs or the Neinzul) more typically anthropomorphic aliens with individual human-sized bodies and such, which would explain why humans get along so well with them.

I guess I can shelve (not-)Spire-dating-sim now  :'(

...and then I'm going to have a few words with Drs. Davidson and Langstrom from the FS campaign. How did they miss something this big?!  >:(

Well, the Zenith do have organic components to their ships, and some of their ships are actually alive.  But those aren't the Zenith themselves -- that's more like them riding a "Space Whale" or something.  In terms of the actual Spire stuff that is in the FS campaign, one thing to note is that I mentioned how the Spire had planetary origins.  So they did start out more that way, but kind of evolved in the opposite direction until at least some of them became living ships.  A lot of the Spire that you're meeting in FS are more splinter factions rather than the main race.

So then, the Spire Starship clearly isn't alive (while the Capital Ships are), but what about the legitimate Spirecraft that we make from asteroids? Do those count as the aforementioned "living ships?" What you've said seems to suggest that no, since the process of becoming a liveship seems to take a while, unless...

perhaps the "asteroids" are sort of like embryonic Spire? So we're basically harvesting their eggs and incubating with the "mining" vessel until they grow into full-grown live ships?



And what of the Neinzul? Those are definitely "alive," right?
« Last Edit: July 17, 2014, 10:21:34 AM by Coppermantis »
I can already tell this is going to be a roller coaster ride of disappointment.

Offline x4000

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Re: Introducing The Races (And Logo) For Spectral Empire
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2014, 10:24:05 AM »
To be honest, I need to coordinate with Keith some on the intricacies of those specific races.  He added a lot to the lore on a couple of them, not all of which is at the forefront of my mind at this point (I only have so much mental RAM, heh).

Certain things in the past I also left deliberately vague, to be up for human interpretation.  The Neinzul ships I never really thought of as being alive (to my recollection, but I could be wrong), but rather as being like exoskeletons for the underlying living organisms.  In other words, in some respects kind of like Strike Suit Zero.

Regarding the Spire ships that you are constructing, my thought has always been that none of those are alive, and frankly the same for the Neinzul ones that you construct.  My feeling has always been that they are missing vital parts of what would make them an organism, which is why you have to order them around.  There are organic components, yes -- the same as with the Zenith ones -- but those are basically non-sentient wetware in my mind.

All of the ships controlled by you and by the AI are completely unmanned and nonsentient despite any organic components to them, in my opinion.  But when you interact with minor factions of any sort, in almost all cases (possibly literally all cases) those are manned and sentient.
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