BSG TC?

I've been seriously considering trying to do a TC based on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series...with one major twist.

That is that Caprica Six's mission of infiltrating the software system wasn't so resoundingly successful and merely resulted in a 'Pearl Harbor' style surprise attack that did a great deal of damage but was a long way away from crippling the Colonial Fleet. Therefore it would be pretty much a second Cylon War: with substantial fleets fighting it out.

What I would want to do is put in a ranking system much like in SFA, where you do missions and kill Cylons or pirates to gain rank and access to bigger/better ships.

So yeah, I've got the idea in my head and have done some major thinking about particulars. The problem is that, beyond some simple plugs(which I haven't posted, either)-I don't have any significant experience creating stuff with EVNEW. I have no idea how to do graphics, spins, shans, etc. I can use existing ones in pictures but that's still not very creative having a Battlestar look like an Auroran Carrier.

Let me know what you guys think, and especially if someone is currently working on a BSG TC. I know there's a BSG plug on the plug page but a) it's not a TC and B) it's far from finished and there haven't been any updates for a year or two.

This post has been edited by newbe83 : 25 January 2010 - 06:05 PM

I remember that plug-in. It didn't even have any graphics for the ships it added.

I can't help at the moment, but can offer some advice. Don't start on a TC until you have some good knowledge with the editor. Make some plug-ins, experiment with things, and most importantly, release a few plug-ins so people can help you make sure they're working as they should. When you can make a bug-free plug-in, that's a step in the right direction.

However, that doesn't mean you're ready. Making a TC takes a lot of time and a lot of patience. Even when you have a team to help, making a TC is no walk in the park. It gets even tougher (in my opinion) when your TC is based off of an existing story. Even though your TC has a twist on the actual events of BSG, some things will still be the same and you'll need to do research to keep things accurate.

I am by no means telling you not to do it. Just be sure you're absolutely ready before starting. This is just friendly advice.

That said, once you have begun, try posting in 'Just Graphics' to find someone who can make graphics for you. You'll have better luck there in terms of graphics.

This post has been edited by darthkev : 25 January 2010 - 07:46 PM

I've tinkered with the notion for a while now. I have the ability, but I really don't have the time or the energy. I've somewhat stalled out lately just cranking out graphics for the Firefly TC as RealLife¬ô has just sucked up most of my effort reserves. Lousy students always want stuff graded and handed back to them...

At any rate, if you feel compelled, pick up the Nova Bible and start exploring each concept until you feel really confident trying to put certain things together. I think you can get a low-poly set of the BSG meshes online for free, but it's been a while since I've seen that. You'll need to learn things like 3D modelling, basic programming, image manipulation, writing... it's a pretty massive undertaking. Start small: create a few plugs that add ships, maybe a few missions. For every TC that's actually come out, two dozen others have turned vaporware, and there's reasons for that.

Hey, thanks. I'm pretty sure I'll get around to it but, like I said, I'm seriously considering it-that isn't the same as saying it's definitely going to happen. Part of the reason I posted this topic is to get some ideas on how to start if I do decide to take it on so...any other ideas or offers to help are greatly appreciated-especially like what you guys have already done.

Yeah, that crazy thing known as RealLife is gonna muck this up a little (or a lot) but...I haven't seen a truly great BSG game yet and I've been dying to play one. If I can make it, I will. But yeah, I'm in college and I also play college football so this fall will be one giant break from everything not associated with school or football.

Jeez, I don't think I've even heard of that...a college football player who is a die hard fan of BSG??

Anyways, for anybody else who comes across this: thanks in advance for any advice or help you give me but, I will not promise that this won't become Vaporware-you never know what RL's gonna give you.

Personally, I would recommend doing an original universe TC, purely because if it starts to get overwhelming, you can cut stuff, polish what you have, and release if you feel you won't finish. The three most recently released TCs, Colosseum, Acheron (previously Dark Star), and Ashen Galaxy, ALL did that. Doing a pre-existing universe, while useful because you don't need to invent the lore on your own, among other things, means you have to match their size, which could be tiny or HUGE. And if you burn out before reaching that size, well, you're stuck with a clearly unfinished product, no matter how you polish it.

That said, whether you continue to pursue BSG or not, there's several ways to go about doing the TC. I'll list the extremes, most people do a mixture of these.

1. Make all of x, then all of y, etc. - Seems to be the most common approach and usually starts by placing all the systems. I personally dislike this method for various reasons. One, once you have your huge set of empty star systems down, it'll look incredibly overwhelming and discouraging to actually fill them. Two, you may not even need all of the Xs you created. Three, you'll inevitably do something later that'll make you retweak things, which can lead to a ton of work, as much as redoing those 300 whatevers you made earlier. Four, ships are balanced by their own stats, their weapons, AND their outfits. Make all of any of those before the others and, well, see #3. And finally, five, if you need to downsize to complete it, you'll likely have to cut out more things here than in other methods. And trust me, cutting stuff is never easy, you will not want to remove things if you can help it.

However, this method does have it's advantages. If you're working with a small galaxy (which many people aren't), it's a good way to divide the tasks. It also works well for team assignments "you do all of x, you do all of y, and you do all of z". And, finally, for those people who get sidetracked always wanting to add new things, you can put all of your stuff down and say "Ok, I'm not adding any more Xs, no matter what!"

2. Start from the core - Start by making everything essential. Does Earth feature prominently in the plot? It gets added early. What about Mars? It's just fluff, we'll add it later. Does the player start in a Shuttle? That's the first ship we're making! Does it come with a weapon? That gets added too! And so forth. I like this method because, if worse comes to worse, you got a good chunk of the stuff you need finished to be completed (and, consequently, you'll probably have a "playable" plug early, allowing you to test things as soon as you make them). If you need to cut, you won't have much to remove and for the rest of the extras that would have had to go, you never got around to adding them, so no loss there!

It does have some issues, namely with big and team projects. For the former, a big TC will take awhile to start taking shape since the core to it's gameplay and stories will take longer to make. With a team, you'll have to define what the core is, which isn't easy unless you spend a good deal of time creating planning materials, documents, etc, and with such a spartan allowance of things to work on, people may step on each other's toes (you might want to allow some to do fluff work in those cases). And third, if you have to cut and release early to avoid going the way of almost every other TC, your released product might seem a bit empty and lacking. And finally, this can lead to some very convoluted resource ordering that, depending on how hard it makes things, may force you to do a lot of work later reorganizing your resources into more sensical ID groups.

3. One sector at a time - Let's assume you were making EVN. In this case, the Federation is a sector, the Aurorans are another, and so forth for all the other govts. Yes, even the small ones with one system. In this approach, you'd, say, start work on the Federation and create EVERYTHING needed to have a fully functional Federation, sans missions that require the other sectors. It's sort of a "putting together a puzzle" approach to TC making, except you have to build each piece of the puzzle before you can add it. It's helpful because you'll see definite progress as your completed government fleets start cruising the spacelanes overhead as you work on another one of their planets. And if you're not going to have time to finish all the pieces to your puzzle, then you have several completed ones you can put together to make a smaller picture.

It does have problems though. First, depending on how you are, you may be tempted to polish the current sector you're working on so much you never get started on the others. Second is the whole "gotta start over again" feeling when moving to the next sector, which can be discouraging for some. Third is when you cut your losses and downsize, you may still have a good chunk of work to do to make the pieces you have not feel like an incomplete puzzle, such as revision, retconning, and adding in those storylines you hadn't gotten to yet, except altered to not include whatever you cut. And the fourth can be varying levels of quality for each sector. If you come up with a cool, new idea that makes sector #4 awesome, you'd either have to work it in to the other sectors to make them awesome or have them risk feeling like older, less polished material. On the other hand, if you're slowly burning out on later material, it may seem rushed or less polished, resulting in a EVN like situation. Have you ever noticed that just about everything happens in Federation space? Almost every storyline, minor and major, starts there, leaving almost no reason to wander about in Auroran space. Polaris space is worse since there isn't even pirates to hunt, although that's a lore reason.

Not to accuse ATMOS of burning out or anything, as that may be an intentional design decision, albeit one I'd disagree with if I had been working on Nova.

4. Storyline first - Start out with the main storyline(s) and create everything needed for them. Mainly an alternative to #2 and has similar advantages and disadvantages, albeit for different reasons. If the main draw to your TC is the plot, then this is identical to #2 anyway.

5. Other approaches - I'm sure there's some I'm forgetting or not aware of.

As far as the actual programming of resources is concerned, if you feel like you have the skills or the desire to learn them, you can do it all yourself. It's pretty much crazy-monkey-insano to do that, however. Making good EVNish ship models will require a working knowledge of 3D modelling and image manipulation. While there are some amazing tutorials out there, learning all of this is very time consuming. Sound design for sound effects takes even more time. No sound in space, while realistic, makes a boring game. Sounds for planets, sounds for weapons, sounds for ships... it takes a while. Sound is easy on Windows, but VERY difficult on a Mac due to the fact that its resource-based architecture uses a format which the most recent editor for will not run on OSX. Programming mission resources can be incredibly daunting if you don't have a lot of experience with computer programming and bit checks.

I would recommend that you start learning one resource at a time. Perfect your knowledge of each one. Master it. Make a plug that changes one aspect of the game in several ways. Then move on to the next.

Alternatively, you could assemble a team. Create a forum on some message board somewhere, or even here, and use it to help focus a group of people. There are artists around, programmers around, writers... you name it. Teams can make the work go faster and save you the trouble of learning the more difficult aspects on things. However, teams also present their own challenges. People often join, contribute for a while, then disappear. Some may want to go in a different direction than you. Also, there are positives and negatives.

A TC is, as I said before, a monumental undertaking. It is seriously much more time consuming than you ever anticipate. I created a space station last summer for a Firefly TC. It took me a full day to complete and another to render. During the summertime, I had that time. Right now, I'm teaching. I'm happy if I can spend 30 minutes a day working on material. Honestly, I haven't touched it in about three weeks. This is the reason so many good ideas go vaporware - there is a desire to do it, but logistically, it's just not possible unless you are dedicated to a level that should require professional help.

That said, if you dedicated an hour a night to this, you could probably have a usable TC in under a year. In any case, it's up to you to decide if it's worth it or not.

One idea you might implement further on down the line:

Rather than having Caprica Six fail her mission, have her succeed and start your storyline with the "33 Minutes" plotline where you are essentially being chased jump to jump by Cylons. (That was the first episode I had ever seen and I had read nothing about the series beforehand - VERY cool experience. If you can get your memory wiped or if you don't know anything about the series yet I highly recommend it.)

There's other details to be worked out - I don't know if you can start your player with a mission from the outset that terminates after a series of jumps (since the BSG storyline features LONG LONG distances between planets) or if it'd make for interesting gameplay at all, but if used correctly I think it would be pretty cool.

Of everything that goes into creating a plug, the approach to the actual programming is probably the least cut-and-dry question you can find. What's worked best for me is not getting ahead of myself; start out with storyboarding, which really helps get your ideas organized. Once you have a rough idea of what you want your universe to look like (including the geopolitical situation, not just the physical universe), start plopping resources down. That way, you're building towards an objective. That's not to say that you shouldn't keep on brainstorming as you go, but that having a framework to work from when it actually comes to creating the plugin is hugely helpful.

As for exactly which resources to create first, JTH pretty much covered the alternatives.

Here's how I tend to go about such projects (kind of a summary of JT's 2 & 4):
Find what's the most important thing in your plug, and start with that. Is the main point to the plug flying around and exploring the BSG universe? Start with the universe then, decide what feel it will have, and what it will need (whether that's interesting planet descriptions, good ship pics, or entertaining side-missions). Is the main point playing through your story? Plan out your story first, and decide what ships, geographical regions, characters, etc. will need to be well developed. This will help you choose what the core of the game actually is, i.e. if you even need a shuttle, or jump the player straight into a decent ship for brevity's sake.

I'll join with the rest and say:
If you pursue this, I wish you an immense amount of luck! However, I strongly suggest you don't try this as a first plug-in attempt. At least try a short-story first as a warm up.

This post has been edited by n64mon : 11 February 2010 - 01:32 PM

Actually, n64mon poses a good point and (maybe unknowingly) suggests a good idea. For a short story, maybe make an add-on for EVN that places the Colonials and the Cylons into the game, and have the player work for one/both of them in a new storyline in EVN. A little twisted and weird, yes, but it will give you some training and an idea of what you need to do. Plus, that way you've already got a lot of what you need already done. When you're ready to make the full-blown TC, just transfer what you did in the add-on to the TC and add the rest.

The idea works better with original content (so you don't have "what are the Cylons doing in the Novaverse?"), but it still works, and the principle is still sound.

I hear this is how the Frozen Heart, for EVO, was developed, starting as a minor content addition, growing into a full storyline, and finally a TC.

This post has been edited by n64mon : 13 February 2010 - 01:12 AM

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