EVO Questions

A Conversation with the Designer

I have a question about the humble Turncoat, a ship that I have never flown, although they have featured in one or two of my EV:O stories.

Why is it called that? A turncoat is one who betrays his friends and joins the other side, right? As such, it's not a bad name for a person who becomes a renegade... but as a name for the ship itself? Why? Were these ships originally used for some other purpose, and only afterwards used for piracy? Perhaps they started life being used as naval ships or customs vessels? Or as the defence force of a particular planet that 'went rogue'?

Have any pieces of game text, plug-ins or stories explored this? I smell a story/plug opportunity. Or does nobody care about EV:x anymore?

@voinianambassador, on Dec 8 2006, 05:09 PM, said in EVO Questions:

I have a question about the humble Turncoat, a ship that I have never flown, although they have featured in one or two of my EV:O stories.

Why is it called that? A turncoat is one who betrays his friends and joins the other side, right? As such, it's not a bad name for a person who becomes a renegade... but as a name for the ship itself? Why? Were these ships originally used for some other purpose, and only afterwards used for piracy? Perhaps they started life being used as naval ships or customs vessels? Or as the defence force of a particular planet that 'went rogue'?

Have any pieces of game text, plug-ins or stories explored this? I smell a story/plug opportunity. Or does nobody care about EV:x anymore?

The Turncoat is the most powerful vessel commonly used by human renegades. It is a poor ship in comparison to the UE destroyer but, with its needle missiles and Krait fighters, is well able to take on a freighter convoy. The construction of the first Turncoat marked the beginning of the renegades' reign of terror over the Proxima Nebula, and also the start of the first major inter-renegade war as battles began over the prototype and the design.

Here is the ship desc. Didnt you look at it? Was it such a unobvious detail, or didnt you remember it? I always look at the ship descs first when I buy a ship, I savour them. Otherwise too- ship descs (because its ships) is one of the main content in the game. Maybe its because of the renegades internal wars?

Then I vaguely remember something about lothe Ian being a master criminal, getting amnesty and him being a shipwright. Maybe he was one that designed it? I somehow feel so... I cannot explain it. I remember the lothe Prime desc telling they are good shipwrights. I think it was Secession he got amnesty. Its incoherent because the memories are so far away... I really have to think.

Iothe Prime's founders included a large number of skilled technicians and engineers, who had pooled their skills and resources in order to leave Earth. The Voinian War did not touch this distant planet, and Iothe Prime attracted more colonists, maintaining a high-level of technical expertise despite constant renegade raids. Now the world is renowned for the the quality craftsmanship of all the goods it produces

Captains of Freeport is one such plug- but I dont know if it actually exists. That is, I heard only its updater is downloadable. That the plug cannot be found anywhere (in some thread). I only have the updater, too, I never played the plug. I dont know if anyone played it, or if it even contains anything about the Turncoat origins.

Then there is the story When the Voinians Came... it maybe gives the most direct explanation. It talks about how the Turncoat was created.

There is something- blueprints and the most interesting line in the story is this:

Finally, OF led them to the shipyard, where they saw incredible things. Rows of warships -- larger then Helians but with the same colorings, stood there. They were armed with Needle launchers and Blaze cannons, and Krait Fighters were being loaded into their bays.

"Gentlemen", OF said. "I present you with the Renegade ships of the future!"

The posts 58 and 59, 69 contain the info about blueprints.

None of those contain the explanation for the name Turncoat, but I felt I had to come up with something. So I made up all the plausible theories I could. Even making up those took hours and a lot of frustation. If you want more, Google or something... becuase THE final answer is really hard to come up with.

Well, since I've delurked anyway, I may as well say: pac = Peter Cartwright aka author of Override. I sometimes lurk here when I need the ego boost of knowing there are still people playing my game. πŸ˜‰ But I haven't posted here for a very long time, probably about five years (long enough that I don't have any idea what my old account name/password was).

(Don't, please, ask me to 'prove' it. I could get Andrew Welch down here, and tell him the exact figure of my last royalty cheque, but let's not hassle him. :))

But that doesn't mean I can give you a satisfying answer to the question ... Basically, the Turncoat is the Turncoat because it's a good synonym for renegade, little more than that. (The Krait is an Elite reference, and I have no idea what Helian refers to any more, I'm afraid. :()

The designer of the Turncoat was the Nadir - the mysterious renegade ship designer who turns up in the Anna Balashova/UE Cruiser string. The origins of the Nadir I never really developed (although I would have done had I ever finished the Override prequel). But if you like I can make something up - and it even counts as authoritative! πŸ˜„

On the other hand, I'd be happy to answer any other questions anyone might have about the mysteries of the Override universe. I don't plan to use the galaxy for anything else now, so if I have an answer (and I can remember it!), I'll be happy to give it.

Wow, Peter Cartwright. I'm sure I have some questions for you, when I remember what they are. I still prefer Override out of the three EVs πŸ™‚

Quote

although I would have done had I ever finished the Override prequel

Well that would have been cool. Don't suppose you still have any of the material for it?

This post has been edited by Guy : 08 December 2006 - 05:25 PM

@guy, on Dec 8 2006, 10:23 PM, said in EVO Questions:

Well that would have been cool. Don't suppose you still have any of the material for it?

Sadly, no. Not very much. 😞 I had a hard drive crash, would have been back in 2000, I think, when I lost a lot of what I'd been working on ( just before I was about to back it all up!). I still have a lot of the background, and I know what the history/plot/plan for it was, but most of the substance - ie, resources - is gone. There are a few ship designs, but they were just concepts (done by me) not final pieces of work.

I've been pondering doing something new, with the Nova engine (the possibilities of crons are intriguing ...) but it's too late to do anything new with the Override universe. So if anyone wants to know what was planned out for the future (and past) of the universe, I'm happy to fill in a few gaps.

Wow. It's an honour, Peter. I also think Override to be the best of the three EVs thus far. The mission strings hold together very well, and it shows that a really good story can be got across without writing a novel in missions - a la Nova. The amount you can do with one pilot gives them much more life, and the crescent is balanced well enough that the choice of strand to side with is always an interesting one. Really I've just never got sick of your universe!

As for the past/future, I for one would like to know what you were planning to have happen with the crescent Council - it exists to somehow keep balance as I understand it, and the end of that main objective has the player unbalancing the crescent, as it were. Not only that, but it was one of the biggest mysteries in the game.

I haven't played many plugins - nothing like RotUE or RotVE - as I didn't want conjecture on what would happen ... always hoped to find out the real deal or just keep the mystery :). With the way the game plays, though, with the player making choices, it would be interesting to hear what you intended for the future of the UE/Voinian war. And also, regarding my Human Renegade mission string extension workings (posted recently, and hypocritical, yes sighs), it would be interesting to know a bit more about the past in that area of space - I made a few assumptions, or just blatantly inaccurate 'historical observations' that were picked up by other posters :).

Cheers!

Y'know, I noticed there's only a Reign of the Voinians plug for the Nova port of Override...but no Reign of the UE plug. I've always wanted to wipe the Voinian Race out of existence with the aid of the Elmagha and Hinwar, and the best I got in the stock scenario was 4 or so systems fell. But dangit, I want their bloody capital to fall!

Would it at all be too much to ask for someone to make the Nova Port of RotUE?

@martinz, on Dec 9 2006, 07:27 PM, said in EVO Questions:

Wow. It's an honour, Peter. I also think Override to be the best of the three EVs thus far. The mission strings hold together very well, and it shows that a really good story can be got across without writing a novel in missions - a la Nova. The amount you can do with one pilot gives them much more life, and the crescent is balanced well enough that the choice of strand to side with is always an interesting one. Really I've just never got sick of your universe!

Thanks. I think I had two main objectives in the design: firstly, to get the balance between the ships - when the AI was fighting - right. So I'd decide (for example) that an AI Igazra should beat 2 Zidaras, but not 3, and then I'd watch (not fighting myself, just flying around) over and over again - and tweak the stats and armaments if it wasn't working out right. IMO, you can't balance for the player - because the player will wander all over the universe finding the best ship and equipment for a certain situation (and also, some players are just brilliant pilots who could beat the game in a shuttle, and others aren't) - so it's best not to try.

((The way in which you do balance for the player is by having some mission strings be much tougher than others - the better players will seek out and take on the tougher ones (eg, the Voinian missions are much tougher than the UE ones). The 'central objectives' aren't that tough (but you still need to put in a lot of work to even find them all!).)

The second thing was to avoid assuming anything about the player's pilot in the writing. This limits you a lot in terms of the kind of plots you can write - something like Frozen Heart, for example, you can only do with a defined lead character - but it hopefully ensures you don't alienate the player ('I wouldn't think/do that!').

Quote

As for the past/future, I for one would like to know what you were planning to have happen with the crescent Council - it exists to somehow keep balance as I understand it, and the end of that main objective has the player unbalancing the crescent, as it were. Not only that, but it was one of the biggest mysteries in the game.

Okay, I may post a longer timeline at a later date, but I can give a brief history of the Council fairly easily.

About 10 000 years before the start of Override, the Strand species is just beginning to explore space from its original homeworld which (as is widely known) was Gadzair. But just as these tentative steps are being taken, Gadzair suffers a hugely destructive planet-wide war, wiping out almost everyone on the homeworld - only a very few members of the species survive.

Some of these come together to form something they call the Council, which asks the question: how can we ensure that our species is never put at such risk of total extinction again?

If we unite in just one empire, what if it falls apart internally in some way, and the whole thing collapses?

If we form two groups, they will always be at odds with each other, and might destroy the whole species in their efforts to overcome one another.

So the best long term solution they could come up with was to found the three 'Strands': if one gained an advantage, both the other two would work against it; even if one could destroy another, it wouldn't, in the knowledge that this might leave it vulnerable to the third. Of course, this couldn't be a perfect balance - it was possible one Strand might become strong enough to overwhelm both the others - but the Council remained in existence, and could intervene secretly to even things out when it seemed necessary.

This knowledge was not recorded amongst those who went out to form the Strands - so that they would not know that their war could never be won. But the Council still knew, and the Council would place agents amongst the Strands - who might often reach high positions - who did know the truth, and could act to ensure that the most destructive potential plots were sabotaged or leaked to another Strand.

Thus the Council's solution to ensuring the eternal survival (and dynamism) of their species was a permanent triangular war.

The Strandless, expelled by the Strands, also acted as a back-up option for the Council - other minor branches which could help ensure the survival of the species.

One of the things the Council worried about a lot was outside interference - might some aliens appear who would devastate the species? Or even do so accidentally, by destabilising the Strand war? Crescent space could always be influenced by the Council, with their agents everywhere, but new arrivals were unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Contact was made with lots of minor species (eg, the Kayans of the South Tip), who had no real impact at all. The first major species contacted was the Miranu. The Council were very suspicious of them, but they were peaceful, happy to trade with all the Strands more or less equally, so this in the end caused few problems.

But, at the time of EV: Override, more and more adventurous human pilots (like the player) are arriving in the Crescent, and - tempted by high technology and hard cash - are getting involved in the Strand war.

The three central objectives are, as much as anything else, the three biggest plot triggers for planned future events - in the case of the Strand War, causing the Council to say, 'Enough is enough', and act on a huge scale, bringing about the biggest shake-up to the whole system for 10 000 years

But more about that tomorrow. πŸ™‚

I've always had a unique love for EVO, Mr. Cartwright. On the one hand, I've probably played it less than either of the other EVs, but on the other, it was the first EV I'd really played, and the sense of discovery was so much stronger than in either of the other games. The greatest moment in my gaming life was the first time I stumbled upon Station Pybin while flying my Scoutship. Awesome. I'd had no idea there was anything up north.

Motion seconded, grunk. Probably the greatest moment of my EVO life was the discovery of the Miranu far to the north.

It was from this point onward that I would scrap blaze cannons and use phase cannons until I could get better ones. And I did get better ones: the Neutron Cannons.

I used them on a crescent warship, which made it quite the little battleship.

@pac, on Dec 8 2006, 01:39 PM, said in EVO Questions:

Well, since I've delurked anyway, I may as well say: pac = Peter Cartwright aka author of Override.

It's always exciting to meet one of the "ancients", I mean game authors. πŸ™‚

Awesome to hear/read this stuff. I've always found the strandless to be a really interesting part of the whole thing as well - I always thought it was a shame they didn't have a little story of their own, even if it was really really hard to find ;).

I'll also third the motion - finding the Miranu was a very very cool moment. I first encountered the Miranu Freighter in the south tip though, going on a little explore past Riomor and the like. That was pretty surreal the first time :). It's a hard place to explore without having contacted the Miranu though, especially when your ship is not exactly up to taking on the crescent renegades, so there's not much way to make any money. It was pretty easy to miss the Miranu in going north as well, but finding them literally opened up the rest of the galaxy, just adding to the cool factor.

Looking forward to more!

Yeah. What's more, though, is that by discovering the Miranu, I also found the greatest allies I could ever meet: the Elmagha. Pity their weapons weren't that great, but they helped make a great step towards gaining control of Voinian space.

Who was the person who wrote Reign of the UE? I'd love it if someone ported it to the Nova port (I know I stated that already, but, meh).

And Cartwright: kudos to you, good sir!

That was UE Patriot.

Yay!

1500th Post.

Gasp! Peter Cartwright!

/me bows repeatedly and profusely out of reverence

Ooh! Ooh! So much juicy, juicy game backstory all at once makes me so positively giddy I may have to stifle myself! Oh, happy day!

/ Notices other member's stares and regains composture

ahem

Yes, Mr. Cartwright, it is indeed good to hear from you. As the others have said, your take on the EV universe is easily the best composed, even if the latest (EV:N) has overtaken it in terms of raw engine power. A simple, but elegant engine to run the game, and a galaxy that leaves truly endless possibilities for expansion. Sure, fancy plots that make assumptions of the player are good for epic plug-ins (a la The Frozen Heart ), but are hardly applicable for a working stock scenario. You certainly did well.

I would, however, like to impose a few questions of you, in addition to those the other members have asked (and that you, in your wisdom, have generously answered). If you don't mind, sir. Even if you answer none of my inquiries, what you have said thus far has been enlightening, to say the least. And I am glad.

Firstly, did you ever intend for the 'Strandless' in the Galactic South to do anything interesting?

Secondly, what what were the Voinians working on at Riden Station? We all know that the Voinians developed the Dreadnought at Isled Station, but RS remains an enigma.

Thirdly, is there a particular reason for the large expanse of uninhabited systems between UE and Miranu space (other than to keep the player from prematurely discovering the latter)? Is there anything else we should (or rather, shouldn't) be privy to in Voinian Territory?

Fourthly, why was the defense fleet at Outpost Topel composed of UE freight craft (i.e. shuttles, cargo transporters, etc.)? Was it a mistake, an easter egg, or something else entirely?

Fifthly, did you ever plan for anything beyond Voinian Space, much like the the race alluded to live beyond the rim of the Crescent?

And finally, on a more personal note, what mission strings did you find the most enjoyable to write? It always gives more perspective when you know the developer's favorite gΓΆvs.

@-visitor-, on Dec 13 2006, 03:24 AM, said in EVO Questions:

Firstly, did you ever intend for the 'Strandless' in the Galactic South to do anything interesting?

Not really - the human Renegade missions do involve them as adversaries, but that's it. Had the story continued, there would have been more interaction, and a breaking up into factions, amongst the renegades (human and alien) in that general area.

Quote

Secondly, what what were the Voinians working on at Riden Station? We all know that the Voinians developed the Dreadnought at Isled Station, but RS remains an enigma.

Riden Station? I don't remember it at all I'll just go and look it up. πŸ™‚

... No, the desc isn't very revealing, is it? It probably had something to do with the fact that occasionally the Voinians seem to be able to do weird things, that no one else can do or quite figure out. The main example of this in the game itself is when a small Voinian fleet shows up in the Chorca system during the defector string. How did they get there? It's as if the Voinians know something about hyperspace that others don't (although this is quite odd for them, as their usual approach to innovation is: make it bigger, and add more guns!), but if so, why don't they take advantage of this routinely?

So, my best guess is that it was meant to have something to do with that.

Quote

Thirdly, is there a particular reason for the large expanse of uninhabited systems between UE and Miranu space (other than to keep the player from prematurely discovering the latter)? Is there anything else we should (or rather, shouldn't) be privy to in Voinian Territory?

No one has got around to settling them yet, basically. And nothing that I know of.

Quote

Fourthly, why was the defense fleet at Outpost Topel composed of UE freight craft (i.e. shuttles, cargo transporters, etc.)? Was it a mistake, an easter egg, or something else entirely?

Designer error. πŸ™‚ UE Freighters is dude 128 (the first on the list), iirc, so if I forgot to set it properly, it could well end up as that. But you can think of it as an easter egg if you like!

Quote

Fifthly, did you ever plan for anything beyond Voinian Space, much like the the race alluded to live beyond the rim of the Crescent?

Kind of. But I'll get to this when I type up some more of my notes about past and future plans (now defunct).

Quote

And finally, on a more personal note, what mission strings did you find the most enjoyable to write? It always gives more perspective when you know the developer's favorite gΓΆvs.

I'd say I liked the ones which allowed me to structure things a bit differently - rather than just 'go and do that', 'go and kill that'. So, the kidnapping (UE Cruiser) missions are a bit like that, in that you have to figure some things out yourself rather than just following orders (and I'm sure one of the most asked questions on these boards has been, 'Where do I go to find the warship designer?' ;)). Also the initial Azdgari string, where you get to go round half the galaxy, move bases once, do a whole variety of repeating missions, until eventually you have to move again - and I'm glad that I got the failure (with the photographer) that triggers the end of that section to work eventually!

@pac, on Dec 13 2006, 09:18 AM, said in EVO Questions:

...So, the kidnapping (UE Cruiser) missions are a bit like that, in that you have to figure some things out yourself rather than just following orders (and I'm sure one of the most asked questions on these boards has been, 'Where do I go to find the warship designer?' ;)). ...

Boy, ain't that the truth. I had to search EVERYWHERE for some clue as to where to find Balashova (that IS spelled right, correct?) until I found out that...well, it was one of the pirate worlds, I'll say that much. πŸ˜‰

One question that was on my mind is was there ever a real desire to make the Elmagha Cannons truely turreted? (In my personal opinion, a 90 degree firing arc a turret does not make, and the desc even notes that "Turret is not a wholly accurate description of the term" (or something to that degree...))

Another was if there was ever going to be an extension of the UE Conquest into Voinian Space (say to the point of defeating the Voinians once and for all by driving them back to their homeworld of Voina and forcing them to surrender). Sure, liberating the Hinwar and giving the Elmagha a fighting chance against the Voinian Scourge were good points, but the end just sorta left me hanging.

The last question on my mind is are the three Strand strings sort of the main goal of the player? What essentially happens (from what I can determine) is that the whole of the Crescent gets a clean slate and starts over with one of the three strands dominating the other two. (Forgive me for my naivite, but I have never completed even ONE of those strings (the furthest I ever got was the Zidagar because their Phased Disruption Beamers looked like they'd be the best way to mow down my opponents; pity that they weren't, though), so I honestly have no idea about what really happens)

@warlord-mike, on Dec 13 2006, 05:42 PM, said in EVO Questions:

Another was if there was ever going to be an extension of the UE Conquest into Voinian Space (say to the point of defeating the Voinians once and for all by driving them back to their homeworld of Voina and forcing them to surrender). Sure, liberating the Hinwar and giving the Elmagha a fighting chance against the Voinian Scourge were good points, but the end just sorta left me hanging.

Given the engine at the time, there was a limit on how much VisBitting (changing the galaxy by replacing one system with another) it was practical to do. Changing a system more than once could be very problematic. The two major offensives that do happen already change things quite radically, and to do more than that within one scenario would be tricky. With the Nova engine now it might be possible, but it's still easier to start again more or less from scratch.

The main thing is that, once you've completed these objectives, the alliance of UE/Emalgha/Hinwar is going to win - barring outside circumstances (which there would, inevitably, be) - it's just a question of how long it will take - an immediate headlong charge at Voina would be doomed. They need to pause and reorganise after this sudden progress. They need to refit their collective fleets (eg, the Emalgha shouldn't have to keep using their improvised vessels any more, but on the other hand their weapons (improved a bit) could be very effective if mounted widely on UE-designed ships). All this means that you need a new scenario (starting about 20 years after the first one) which picks up the plot.

To give one example, say you decide that the Emalgha and humans work together, and produce a new destroyer armed with emalgha turrets (maybe even proper turrets!). How do you add this to the existing scenario? You can allow the player to buy it, that's easy. You can add pers ships which will now show up too. You can have them appear in certain missions (eg, if you work for the Voinians, UE Cruisers will show up to fight against you, iirc, at some point). But if you want them to appear across the whole game universe, you would have to VisBit every system where UE warships show up. So, it's much easier to start over.

Quote

The last question on my mind is are the three Strand strings sort of the main goal of the player? What essentially happens (from what I can determine) is that the whole of the Crescent gets a clean slate and starts over with one of the three strands dominating the other two.

Not exactly. The balance is upset, but this causes the Council to intervene. So a much more radical change happens to Strand space.

Quote

(Forgive me for my naivite, but I have never completed even ONE of those strings (the furthest I ever got was the Zidagar because their Phased Disruption Beamers looked like they'd be the best way to mow down my opponents; pity that they weren't, though), so I honestly have no idea about what really happens)

In terms of what ship to use, in many ways a 'local' ship type is not necessarily the best choice. Something like a UE Cruiser (or even a Voinian ship) has stacks of armour, and Crescent weapons are poor against armour. A Cruiser can just sit there for quite a while with fighters peppering it before their phase cannons have much effect. Try it with whatever ship suits you, rather than that Strand's 'trademark' ship - which is not necessarily the best one for the job.

Thank you for your time, Mr. Cartwright. I am honored to have the chance to speak with one of Override's Designers. πŸ†’

I had no idea that engine limitations were involved in some of these reasons, but it does make sense. You can only program so much with what you have.

Once again, a pleasure to speak with you.

Since you made a offer to answer ANYTHING related to EVO, I am going to ask all that I have on mind at one time. I know its a lot, but I want know everything. I dont want to write several times.

Here are ALL that ever intrigued my mind:

-Council station- you did not explain the purpose of it, even if you did explain the Council. Why does there be 2,500 ships defending Council Station? Undefeatable? The Council defending its outpost with all possible force?
-Riden station- do you really not know more than those four lines? It seemed a bit short.
-Crescent Station- its even more mysterious than Council Station. Its the most mysterious thing in the game. Why is it is a link to beyond the Crescent? Was something planned to be to there? Maintained by the Azdgari under the orders of the Council, for some inexplicable reason of theirs Explain tbis too.
-The Kelmaon near Adzgari space. The second Kelmaon. Why is there a second Kelmaon? It says only Kelmaon is a confusingly named, irrelavant minor world. The desc doesnt exactly make it clear.
-Fu- is the angry old Voinian Borb, as some suppose? (I think it was in Reign of the UE). If so, why does he sit on a moon? Why is he not directing the Voinians anymore?
-F-25- Bomb made a epic plug (still some of the best ever; I have a passionate relationship to it having played them both and betatesting to Bomb). Did you plan to do anything with it? He made a very good story, and a beliavle answer, but like all plugs its only a story. Only yours is authoritative.
-who was the human in assasinate igadzra scientist? Another of the most bizarre things in the game. Actually, carefully considered its one of the most arcane things that can be in the game.
-Council mention in Zidagar string. "It takes a only a short blow to blow a candle". It was some founder of the Council. What do you know about him? Is there something else we dont know about the Council since there is this mysterious mention? When will you tell the rest about the Council, that is the timeline.
-Outpost Topel- what purpose does it really have? Its only told its a remote fuel post.
-the aliens that are on the way to Miranu space (just after UE space). It says that there is primitive alien culture that you leave alone. Who are they? Why is there aliens on a uninhabitated planet? Isnt EVO standard that uninhabitated planet are barren and devoid of life? They are described as boring and lifeless.

Log in to reply