Age of the Council (AotC)

Override sequel project

As discussed in this thread, I am starting work on the long-imagined but never realised sequel to the original EV: Override scenario (working title 'Age of the Council'). This will be designed as an EV: Nova total conversion scenario, but will try to retain an EV:O 'look' or 'flavour' - it will use Nova engine features where they are useful or desirable, but not just because they're there.

Updates will be posted here, but: there will be no previews, preambles or promises. It will come out when it comes out (or not). I am currently working on 'stage one' …

Stage One

This involves getting all of the initial galaxy in place. This means all the starting systems and planets, ships and outfits, etc. Of course, a lot of this exists already and can be transferred from Override, but a lot has changed as well: planets have been settled, stations built, ships designed and weapons invented. Governments have changed quite considerably, so the dude set-up also needs to change … in every system. So there's quite a lot to do.

What the scenario will still lack at this stage is primarily missions - but also other non-essentials like oopses, junks and pers ships. There will still be a lot more to do - and a lot of resources to play with when making missions.

On the graphics side, every important thing (mainly ships and weapons) will have at least a tolerable place-holder in place, but these will probably mostly not be the final graphics.

And of course, although I'm not supposed to at this stage, I will occasionally get distracted by working on Nova features … like putting barely noticeable engine glows on lots of different ships … ships which probably won't be final versions anyway.

My current estimate for stage one is one or two months - but this may be wildly inaccurate.

Stage Two

Once I have what we can call the 'playground' galaxy set up, it will be possible to make it available to other developers (of missions, graphics, or other things entirely). Amongst other things, I can't see having the time to write every planned mission myself within any reasonable length of time - the main strings will be more than enough to keep me busy! There will be guidelines (another thing I need to do in stage one is draw them up) but I should be able to offer mission writers considerable leeway within the part of the plot and galaxy that's theirs to play with. My estimate is that as many as 50% of systems may be changed by one string or another - so that should give some idea of how much will be going on.

Anyway, for now I've barely scratched the surface of stage one, so I'll stop looking too far forward and go and get on with that!

This post has been edited by pac : 27 December 2006 - 09:17 AM

Good to see my near-namesake with a modest yet ambitious planning laid down 🙂

Since I've never truly played EVO (started the EVO TC, but didn't get very far I felt too graphically spoilt by Nova and too deep into writing ARPIA2, I must say, and never took the time to go further), I can only wish you the best of luck.

A few words of advice from a fellow developer, but don't forget I have no idea how you did things for EVO

First off, don't be too ambitious either. Don't forget the "max s˙st/spöb" limits, try not to change too much of your galaxy too many times. It's okay if you have EVO's 250-300 unique s˙sts all changing five times in total, but stretch that, and it might become hard.
Also, unless you truly plan on working a lot in the coming months, two-three months will be a great underestimate for stage one 😄 (trust me on this one ;))

After all, since you're making this on the EVN engine (and therefore "competing" with Nova, ARPIA2, and the bunch of other big stuff that is yet to be released), you might want to make the storylines more in-depth, perhaps with far longer descriptions (break the 700 character mark, for example) or far longer storylines. Perhaps that's something that disappointed me in EVO: the mission briefs I got while I played seemed without substance, like I only learnt a tiny bit every mission, like most I read was the three-word sentence my superior told me, the order to carry out.

Those are just two quick remarks. When we see more, I might be able to elaborate. But until then, good luck 🙂

@pace, on Dec 27 2006, 03:33 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

First off, don't be too ambitious either. Don't forget the "max s˙st/spöb" limits, try not to change too much of your galaxy too many times. It's okay if you have EVO's 250-300 unique s˙sts all changing five times in total, but stretch that, and it might become hard.

Don't worry - I do still have some idea what I'm doing! The initial state of each system will be different from the end of Override, and from there about half the systems may change once (but very few more than once, I think) and that's that.

While multiple wholesale changes of systems may be possible with the Nova engine, doing so still creates far too many problems, in my opinion. I did have a project which was based around changing every system in the scenario up to three times in a sequential plot - but that was based in a much smaller game universe.

Since mild changes can now be made by bit-dependent spob descriptions (and a few other tricks), system Visibility won't have to be used so heavily either.

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Also, unless you truly plan on working a lot in the coming months, two-three months will be a great underestimate for stage one 😄 (trust me on this one ;))

Well, I don't think it's that far out. I certainly remember how long building everything from scratch takes - but I'm not working from scratch this time. Also, I don't need a final version at the end of this stage - just a useable one. There's very little that's not already quite well planned out for this stage (and, for example, sufficient graphics almost all exist already). It's further down the line with the missions where - in some cases - little more is planned out than 'erm, something happens over here'.

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After all, since you're making this on the EVN engine (and therefore "competing" with Nova, ARPIA2, and the bunch of other big stuff that is yet to be released), you might want to make the storylines more in-depth, perhaps with far longer descriptions (break the 700 character mark, for example) or far longer storylines. Perhaps that's something that disappointed me in EVO: the mission briefs I got while I played seemed without substance, like I only learnt a tiny bit every mission, like most I read was the three-word sentence my superior told me, the order to carry out.

Well, in part this is a difference in design philosophy between Override (and the original EV) and Nova. Nova wants to be (and, many would say, is a great success in being) a novel as well as a game. Override is just a game - and I believe that most game players don't want to read a novel, but to get on with the action without it being slowed down by a screenful of plot. There's still a lot going on in terms of plot and story in Override, but you will only see all of it if you are making an effort to pick up on everything, and the idea is that you don't need to do this to play and experience the whole game. This is why Override stuck to the (arbitrary) limitations of the EV engine, in terms of dialogue sizes for various descriptions. The focus is on the ships, exploring the unknown and, of course, the big battles!

All that being said, if Override was a pencil sketch in places, this would aim to add a lot more colour to the picture. This is important since, for most players, this galaxy will be a familiar (though somewhat changed) place, so the excitement of exploring alien worlds for the first time is lost. More depth is important to compensate for that. Planets which were very lightly drawn the first time around would get a bit more development, and there should also be occasions during the missions when there is much more plot development than usual. (All this is difficult, of course, when you are committed to not telling the player what his/her character is thinking.) But in the end the focus will still be on well-balanced, varied combat, and even more big battles than ever before!

But thanks for the suggestions - and I hope I'm not treading on your nick too much!

Edit:

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Since I've never truly played EVO (started the EVO TC, but didn't get very far I felt too graphically spoilt by Nova and too deep into writing ARPIA2, I must say, and never took the time to go further)

I should say that my attitude when I started developing was exactly the same (but in relation to the original EV). I played Escape Velocity as thoroughly as anyone - and ended up knowing it inside out - and also played some of the earliest plug-ins for it. But once I got deep into writing Override I had no time for the other big projects which were around back then. Other people's work is a great source of good ideas at the start - but once you get a certain distance into a project, you don't need more ideas, just time and effort!

This post has been edited by pac : 27 December 2006 - 11:27 AM

Will that species of aliens between UE and Miranu space develop space travel?

Just wondering. That would be cool.

@pac, on Dec 27 2006, 05:19 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

But thanks for the suggestions - and I hope I'm not treading on your nick too much!

😄 Don't worry about that. Just a question: what does the "a" stand for? Mine is "Alexander" (Peter Alexander Craddock) 😛

This is going to be awesome. Even if it doesn't get finished, it'll still be awesome. But I'll do my darndest to help make sure it does. For starters, a little advice from someone who's used to the Nova engine:

Decide what you want your game to be, and only afterwards look to see if it's possible in Nova. If it's not, it can be modified, but nothing, emphatically, nothing should be added just because it's possible to do with the game engine. Ever. (...but you knew that already.)

I really like the way you've gone about things in EVO: starting with what the situation is and what events happen in what order, then making storylines to let the player see little glimpses of them. (I'm very curious what other major events you had planned in the EVO timeline that never got into the game, meaning they happen "at the same time" as Override, but are of no interest to the player's character.)

So far, here's what I'm seeing pac say: Gameplay first. Keep it simple. The storyline is planned already.

I wouldn't want to tread on the established timeline, but I think I'd enjoy mapping out "minor" or ancillary events, and brainstorming possibilities the major governments might not have forseen.

Are you looking for help on Phase 1, or are you planning to do that yourself?

@pace, on Dec 27 2006, 04:44 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

😄 Don't worry about that. Just a question: what does the "a" stand for? Mine is "Alexander" (Peter Alexander Craddock) 😛

Andrew.

@qaanol, on Dec 27 2006, 05:54 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

Are you looking for help on Phase 1 ?

Not yet. At this point this thread is just here so that I can let people know how things are progressing. (And so they can demand to know!)

But what is put in place in stage one need not be set in stone. For example, if a later mission developer needs to change something about a certain planet or star system in order to set up what is going to happen in their missions later, they should be able to do that. And new initial spobs could still be created - and the same goes for additional organisations or ships, etc. There'll still be lots of room for manoeuvre.

@pac, on Dec 28 2006, 01:14 AM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

As discussed in this thread, I am starting work on the long-imagined but never realised sequel to the original EV: Override scenario (working title 'Age of the Council').

I've got two words for you: Awe. Some.

@pac, on Dec 28 2006, 03:19 AM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

Nova wants to be (and, many would say, is a great success in being) a novel as well as a game. Override is just a game - and I believe that most game players don't want to read a novel, but to get on with the action without it being slowed down by a screenful of plot.

You know, I think I agree with you. It's probably a reflection of how Nova was constructed. Everything had to be bigger, better, longer, etc. Another factor was probably the fact that both of the mission writers are novelists. 🙂

Future games I work on will be more game-like, and less novel-like, I think.

I wish you the very best of luck! I'm looking forward to seeing whatever might result from your efforts.

Dave @ ATMOS

Wow, I've been away for a week or two but coming back to this is wonderful. The concept of a more advanced, new scenario in the Override universe (always my favourite of the three) actually made me cry slightly with happiness. 😄

FOR THE ALLIANCE!

I'll be one of the first to get this when you release it, Mr. Cartwright!

NOTE: I'll help out however I can, but unfortunately, I will probably be too tied up with college to model anything or code. 😞

I'll definately submit ideas, though. I can also proof-read stuff, if ya want. 😉

This post has been edited by Warlord Mike : 28 December 2006 - 01:06 AM

@warlord-mike, on Dec 27 2006, 10:03 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

FOR THE ALLIANCE!

I'll be one of the first to get this when you release it, Mr. Cartwright!

NOTE: I'll help out however I can, but unfortunately, I will probably be too tied up with college to model anything or code. 😞

I'll definately submit ideas, though. I can also proof-read stuff, if ya want. 😉

There's a subtle irony in those last two sentences. I guess can just means you have the capability to, not that you actually do very often. 😛

I, too, could very well be too swamped to do any major help with AotC, but I might be able to do little stuff. Only time will tell.

Whoa, totally ambitious I say. Hmm, it sounds like the NOvarride Project I was working on (still am but it bits and pieces).

I can't wait for this.

Okay, here's a quick question which doesn't warrant a new thread. I've just been reading through Zacha Pedro's (very good!) annotated template for weapons. This has left me with lots to think about, but one immediate practical question (which is the one that started me reading it in the first place):

What is the best way to implement different sized fighter bays (for the same type of fighter)? (That is, they launch the same type of fighter, but hold different numbers of them, and might also have other different properties, like the rate at which the fighters are launched.)

As I understand it, it isn't possible to have 'shared' ammunition with fighter bays (because for a bay, ammunition doesn't point to a weapon, but to the ship that's created). (Or would it be more accurate to say that all fighter bays that launch the same type of fighter share ammunition, but you still need separate outfit resources?)

Anyway, my plan at the moment is to have separate outfits for each bay, and for the ammunition for each bay. Most bays will be non-purchasable/sellable, so they won't be seen. (Also, no ship will have more than one bay for the same ship type, in case that causes problems.) The fighter outfits will only show up if you have the right bay for them (to save the player confusion from seeing two (or more) versions of the same fighter for sale, and the developer from having to explain it in the description).

Or is there a better approach? (Or are there flaws in the one above?) Can using a common ammunition in fact work?

More generally, in fact, is using a common ammunition completely stable for non-fighter bay weapons in the Nova engine? I always avoided it like the plague But it seems to work okay in Nova (Chainguns, etc).

Common ammunition seems to work fine for us. I think it's one of the bugs Matty fixed up for us while reworking the outfit system.

@mazca, on Dec 28 2006, 12:27 AM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

<snip>cry slightly with happiness. 😄

Source?

@pac, on Dec 28 2006, 09:05 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

What is the best way to implement different sized fighter bays (for the same type of fighter)? (That is, they launch the same type of fighter, but hold different numbers of them, and might also have other different properties, like the rate at which the fighters are launched.)

Make them totally separate, as if they were distinct bays (because they are distinct wëaps). It might be possible to simply have one "ammo" outfit, flagged as ammo for one of the bays, and the Nova engine might associate all other wëaps with the same AmmoType carried fighter with that outfit, but it might not. I've never tried. However, I'll certainly look into it and get back to you when I'm sure.

Also, if the only differences are rate of fire and max ammo, it's possible to tie the weapons together. For example, instead of having one bay, you could give a ship two or more "bays" so it can fire faster. Use or disuse of the MaxAmmo field can control whether or not those bays allow extra ships to be held.

And from the other direction, and mind you this is speculative as I've never tried using the "one shot at a time" flag in conjunction with fighter bays, in theory you could use MaxAmmo to make multiple bays allow more fighters to be held, but also use One Shot At A Time alongside LifeCount for the bay weapon to mean the rate of fire is not increased.

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More generally, in fact, is using a common ammunition completely stable for non-fighter bay weapons in the Nova engine? I always avoided it like the plague But it seems to work okay in Nova (Chainguns, etc).

Works great.

There are a number of weapon systems that don't work as documented or aren't documented at all, though, and if you haven't already I suggest you check out my Qaanol's Plug-ins fixes for Nova. In particular, weapons that use BurstCount are interesting. They fire faster the more you have so a single burst lasts a fixed amount of time but gets more shots in it the more weapons you have, unless you have so many that it hits the one shot per frame limit, in which case the shots keep going at one every frame until the BurstCount has been met, and then the BurstReload is assessed. Beams are also obnoxious, and I recommend avoiding them unless you balance the scenario around the fact that a beam which fires constantly can only ever deal damage in multiples of 30 per second.

Another thing to avoid is the crön. All cröns are evil. I say if you can't do it without a crön, don't do it at all.

In regards to weapon (not fighter bays) the only thing the Nova engine has never quite fixed was the plundering situation, sure you may be able to buy ammos to use on at least two different weapons, but you could never be able to plunder the same kind of ammos you have from a ship that used a weapon different from yours. I know, I've tried very hard to find a way around that. I just wished that plundering could have been fixed in the next update.

@qaanol, on Dec 29 2006, 06:20 PM, said in Age of the Council (AotC):

Another thing to avoid is the crön. All cröns are evil. I say if you can't do it without a crön, don't do it at all.

Meh I abused of cröns in ARPIA2. The only “bugs" people have encountered that were crön-related are a crön I forgot to put in and the fact that in one case, a number of cröns have to expire before you can get a certain mission once again (if you fail it).

Not evil at all!

Indeed! And you will have my sword, or in this case, beta-tester sword.

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