@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!').
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.