The Let's Play horse has been beaten quite a lot lately, so I thought the best way to approach this is to do one of a game most of you probably won't have played (or possibly heard of) before. When it comes to lesser-known games I enjoy, there is one title that stands-out in my mind.

Ok... So what is it?
Escape Velocity: Nova is a 2-d sci-fi space-sim with a fairly involved story (over which you have a fair amount of control, which has prompted some to class it as a text-RPG hybrid) and a highly active modding community. You start the game as a new captain of a small cargo ship, ready to go forth and make your mark on a chaotic galaxy. In addition to ammassing fame, fortune and you might also find yourself playing an important part in shaping the galaxy itself, depending on which of the major factions you end-up aligning with. Before any of that though, you'll probably need to buy a better ship.

So you're zipping around a galaxy in a spaceship on your own. Why would this make for a good Let's Play?
A couple of reasons. First, the spaceships. There's quite a large range of ships to choose from even without the faction-specific craft and odds are you'll be replacing your ship with a different one quite a few times throughout a game. Since all these ships are yours to name, there's plenty of room for suggestions from the forumites both on what type of ship to go for and what to name it. Also, while you are the only character on your ship to have any real impact, most of the larger ships do have a crew some of whom could be given a roll in my own text updates so if anyone wants their names put up for that there's room for that too.
Also there's the story side of things. The six major factions each have their own seperate storyline which can be entered into at various points during the game. Although each is quite linear, getting into them isn't and I was planning on letting whoever ends-up following this choose which one I should try and take. There are also a number of optional side-missions and minor storylines, which again bring up choices about whether or not to take them.

Shouldn't you tell us what these factions are, exactly?
Oh right, knew I'd forgotten something. The political landscape (spacescape?) of the EV:N galaxy is defined mainly by the 6 biggest human factions (there are a couple of alien species, but they're fairly negligable in importance as they're space-living creatures rather than a sentient race or anything).
The main factions are as follows
  1. The Aurorans.
    A highly militralistic culture in the south of galactic space. Have been in a state of war with the Federation for ages now, and frequently engage the polaris, the Auroran Empire is ruled by the five major warrior houses who, when not stiking along the federation border, fight with each other for power and resources. The auroran storyline is, unsurprisingly, the most combat heavy of all the storylines. Aururan ships are better armoured than federation ships and have some very strong weapons, although their shields, speed and missile technology leave a bit to be desired.
  2. The Federation
    Home Sweet home, as this is the region of space where you start. The Federation controls the centre of galactic space, including earth, and therefore faces attack from the auroans the the south, pirates and rebals from the north and occaisional encounters with polaris ships. Although ostensibly democratic, it is the rather unscrupulous intelligence agency, The Bureau of Investigation, that holds the real power. The Federation storyline will have you working for these people so ruthlessness is a plus. Federation ships have better shields than Aurorans and have access to more advanced missiles and secondary weapons, but their armour isn't as good and they're quite lacking in primary weapons.
  3. The Pirates
    Bandits, smugglers and free traders, pirates ships are not an uncommon sight in some areas of federation space. Too loose to be called a true faction, most pirates nonetheless are affiliated with either the Associated Guild, which has a headquarters somewhere north of federation space, of the Free Traders, a loose network with sympathetic ports throughout federation space. The pirate storyline is in many ways more personal in focus and will grant you one of the strongest ships in the game towards the end of it. Most pirate ships are essentially modified Federation or Auroran civialian craft with upgrades borrowing from either faction's tech, and can be quite formidable. Uniquely, most Pirate Vessels can be bought regardless of whether or not you're following the pirate storyline, although some of them are considered illegal by the federation so be careful.
  4. The Polaris
    An isolationist culture with a ridiculously advanced level of technology, the Polaris occupy the eastern end of galactic space. Military engagments are limited to defending their borders from Federation and Auroran incursions, although they do sometimes send spys and agents to examine other factions. Getting into the Polaris storyline will require making contact with one of these agents, although the odds of doing so are not high. Polaris ships are some of the strongest in existence and can wipe the floor with most other faction's caft.
  5. The Rebellion
    Located in the galactic north, the Rebellion is a small but tenacious faction of ex-federationers dedicated to binging down the Bereau of Investigation. Consequently, this makes them enemies of the Federation and they are engaged with them almost continuously, when not fighting off roving bands of pirates. Getting into the Rebellion storyline will probably only happen if you've gotten on the Bereau's bad side (of which there are a couple of ways to do) and the storyline itself offers a mixed balance of ferrying, scouting and combat. Although limited in number, rebel ships is quite advanced consisting of modified federation craft with Pirate, Auroran and even some Polaris tech upgrades.
  6. The Vell-os
    A group of psionic telepaths* who fled earth sometime in the middle ages**, the Vell-os used to control much of Western galactic space. Then they went to war with the Federation and lost hard. Their homeworld's were nuked, poisoned and irradiated and the surviving telepaths were rounded up and enslaved by the Bereau who use them as agents, stationed mainly around the Sol system. The Vell-os storyline can be completed without ever destroying another ship, although it's more fun if you do. Vell-os ships, which are essentially psionic constructions rather than material ones, rival the Polaris in terms of being ridiculously overpowered, although there are only three types available and they can't be modified.

    *EV:N isn't very hard sci-fi
    **At all

There are also some minor storylines, such as freelance work for various organisations and comapanies (transport, engineering, terraforming, mercenary work and bounty hunting, to name a few) some of these tie-in to some of the major storylines, others are entirely standalone.

You mentioned the game had an active modding community
Yes, it does. Normally I'd be using a few, but since most people probably aren't familiar with the game I'll most likely be doing this run without them so it'll be easier to follow

What's your update schedule going to be like?
Hard to say really, but I'll try to keep them fairly regular. EV:N is reasonably open-ended and freeroaming in nature, so the length of a typical game can vary a lot. For this one, I'll probably stop once we reach the end of a storyline, as we're not playing on harcore difficulty.

What's wrong with hardcore difficulty?
When you die it's a permenant game over unless you've got an escape pod. And you will die, as even on normal you can be killed quite arbitrarily, especially in the early stages of the game. Even with escape pods, losing your ship often royally screws-over your storyline progress. Oh, and all enemy ships get a power boost. Yeah, we aren't doing this.

When are you going to start?
Probably in a couple of days, if there seems to be some interest. Some people may have some additional questions before then. If so feel free to ask them.