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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    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.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Looks fun! Right off the bat, the only question I can think of is: What needs voting on?
    Truth resists simplicity.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Nice.

    While I think the first EV was better, they're all great games, that I absolutely adored as a child. Honestly, I think they would have been really famous if they hadn't been mac only at a time when macs were virtually unheard of among gamers.

    Good to see them getting a mention.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Quote Originally Posted by Even Human View Post
    Looks fun! Right off the bat, the only question I can think of is: What needs voting on?
    Well, there's the matter of whether you want me to do the (entirely optional) tutorial missions, which involve ferrying a friendly old spacer named Barry around the place while he gives you tips. I'm also open to suggestions for names of the starting shuttle, although I will be ditching it fairly early on account of it not being a very good ship.
    The matter of faction storyline is going to be the biggest decision that we'll make, although it probably won't come into play for a fair few updates as most of them require you to have a fairly decent combat rating. You can get into the Vell-os or Polaris storylines earlier in the game (hell, it's possible to do so almost immediately, if you get lucky) but doing so shuts-out a lot of the optional missions so I'm probably going to leave them for a while. I'll give more information on the factions if and when it presents itself during the game, but if you've got any questions feel free to ask.


    Nice.

    While I think the first EV was better, they're all great games, that I absolutely adored as a child. Honestly, I think they would have been really famous if they hadn't been mac only at a time when macs were virtually unheard of among gamers.

    Good to see them getting a mention.
    I'm inclined to agree, if I hadn't grown-up in a Mac household I doubt I'd have ever encountered Nova at all.
    I haven't played the first two, there are offical Total Conversion mods for Nova that let you play them using the Nova engine, so I'll give those a run through at some point.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Lord Seth's Avatar

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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Silver View Post
    I haven't played the first two, there are offical Total Conversion mods for Nova that let you play them using the Nova engine, so I'll give those a run through at some point.
    Do it. Override is much better than Nova. Unfortunately, even with the total conversion mod I don't think you can use the plug-ins people made for the original Override, which is a shame because there were some really great ones that fixed the few problems Override did have. (like the fact you only get the cloaking device once and if you ever change ships after that you lose it forever--seriously, what was up with that? Argh! It should've been re-buyable, but at a very high price)

  6. - Top - End - #6
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    Poison_Fish's Avatar

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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    All the EV games are quite good. However, I also have a soft spot for Override. Anyhow, this makes me happy to see it again.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Discussions on the quality of games I'm not actually doing a Let's Play on aside, anyone any thoughts about doing the tutorial missions? The question is entirely about whether people want to see it or not, as beyond a crash course in the game there's not any real reward to completing it.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Meh I say to tutorials! Meh! I'd do it I were playing, but I see little need in a LP. So get on with the plundering, pillaging and burning!

    Yeah, I'm gonna be pushing for SPACE PIRATE IN SPACE WITH SPACE SHIPS
    Last edited by SlyGuyMcFly; 2009-12-12 at 08:01 AM.
    Truth resists simplicity.

  9. - Top - End - #9

    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Tutorials are always good. Do the tutorials.

    And once you start... *points to index*
    Last edited by The Dark Fiddler; 2009-12-12 at 08:35 AM.
    It's been a bit, GitP. If you're reading this, you're either digging through old stuff, or I've posted for the first time in forever.

    If you want to stay in touch, reach out to me on twitter (same username).

    The best answer is always to ask your DM.
    Unless you're the DM, in which case you should talk to your players.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Chapter 1: The First Steps
    In which we learn friendly old men are always trustworthy, cargo gets hauled and the age old question 'what would happen if you gave engineers an astronomy textbook and an unlimited budget' is finally answered.

    Spoiler
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    suitably dramatic music




    Captain's Log: June 23rd. 1177 NC
    Felt weird writing that, still can't quite believe it: me, a captain at last. I often wondered if old Uncle Olaf really believed I'd make it when he sent me off to the acadamy all those years ago. But here I am: Captain Argent Silver - Mr. Silver to my friends - first class graduate of the Port Kane space academy and owner of the Cosmic Bandwagon.

    Note to self: never buy a prenamed ship again. Ever.

    Naming issues aside, she's not a bad little shuttle and the going rate was quite cheap. Her controls and egine were in might condition so naturally I took her outside the station for a test flight.



    I'd seen Port Kane from the outside many a time before now. Not the prettiest of space stations, but an important one being right on the eastern border of federation space. The military usually had a few ships stationed here at all times, and a couple of them passed me as I piloted my little shuttle around the station a few times. She handled reasonably well, all things considered. Nothing like a figther craft would have obviously, but she kept up a decent speed. Statisfied, I steered her back down towards the spaceport. I didn't have much of a plan yet, and it would be better not to waste fuel before I had an idea about where I should be heading.

    After securing the ship, I went for a quick walk around the spaceport to try and come up with a plan.


    Truth be told, his offer sounded extremely useful. The academy's program was good for piloting skills and repair work, but hadn't really covered much of the practical side of things. Plus I needed some direction, and the old man seemed nice enough, so I agreed to take him on board.



    I showed the old man - who went by the name of Barry - back to my ship. He raised an eyebrow when he noticed the name but let it slip without comment. I later found out that compared to some names he'd seen it was rather unremarkable.
    Once we were back on board and Barry was settled in to the spare quarters we took off and I set us a course for Sol.




    "It'll take two jumps to get there." I said. Barry nodded.
    "So that's about four days worth of hyperspace travel eh? Hope you've got enough of vid-library to keep us occupied."
    "I have, but it's only two days actually. These shuttles have got a more advanced drive than they used to."
    "Heh, wonders of modern science, eh? Well, let's get to it then."
    "Ok, here we go." I said, secretly hoping that the ship wouldn't fall to pieces when the hyperdrive kicked-in.




    Thankfully, the ship made it through in one piece. In fact the jump was exceptionally smooth. My initial regret at purchasing the little craft was fading. Barry was still asleep when we entered the Tichel System, so there wasn't much point haning around and I set us off to the Sol system.



    This would be my first time visiting Earth. I'd read about and seen pictures of the Kane Band, but that didn't quite prepare you for seeing it in person.



    "Not bad is it?" Barry laghed, catching sight of my face.
    "It's huge." I said. "How in the galaxy did they build that?"
    "Lot of time and a lot of money. Still makes things a lot easier for us spacers. Gives us a place to dock without having to break through the atmosphere. Come on lad, take us in."



    After recharging my hyperdrive's energy cells, I followed him to the Trade Center



    I nodded. A source of income sounded like a good idea at this point.



    "Port Kane?" I said "Don't tell me you're homesick already, Barry."
    "Heh, it's no home of mine lad." said Barry. "I was just passing through when I ran into you. Don't worry, we won't be staying there long. Now, how about you load up the cargo."




    With the Medical Supplies safely secured in the cargo hold, we took off and began the series of jumps back to Kania.



    Soon enough, the familiar span of the station was back in sight once again.



    I steered the craft back down to the spaceport again, then followed Barry to the Trade Center.



    "Yeah sure." I said.



    "I'm new Barry, I'm not a complete idiot."
    "Heh heh. Never said you were lad. Still, all of us forget things sometimes."
    "I think I can remember when I'm carrying cargo, thanks."

    With the medical supplies sold off at a tidy profit and after recharging my ship we headed back out into space.




    "How far away is the Wolf system, Barry?"
    "Just one jump further than Sol. You should be able to make it without having to stop and refuel."
    "Good. Now let's get out of here.
    "You said it, lad."




    The journey was largely uneventful, aside from when Barry had decided he should be allowed to prepare dinner. Not something that will ever happen again if I can help it. He's a nice guy, but its a wonder he's still alive at all. No cabbage deserves to have that done to it, and I'm a little concerned about whoever he ends-up settling down with. Still, we survived and were soon heading for the New England spaceport.


    "I dunno about exciting, that last meal was practically traumatic."
    "Oh quiet you, it wasn't that bad."
    "I think the Federation has laws against those sort of food crimes, Barry."



    "Isn't that what you said before you unveiled the soup?"
    "Shut up."



    Still, ferrying cargo around really wasn't all that interesting - even if it was profitable - so back to Earth we went.


    "Do you think they sell reinforced toilets?"
    "Ok! I promise not to try cooking again, alright?"
    "Can I get that in writing?"
    "Look, do you want me to show you the cool stuff or not?"
    "Sorry Barry."

    Soon enough, we arrived at the outfitters.

    "As you can see from the crowd," Barry smiles, indicating the many 'old-salts' wandering around perusing the various wares on offer, "this is almost a home away from home for most ship captains. The universe can be a harsh place, and anything that gives your ship an edge is a 'must have'.



    "Sure. Do they sell reinforced toilets?"
    "..."
    "Ok, ok. Last cooking comment."
    "Thank you."



    I browsed over the uprgrades available. I quickly noticed that I didn't have enough for everything Barry had suggested, so, after updating my ship's map, I settled on a Battery Pack, Gravimetric Sensors and an IFF Decoder.






    "You all done, Lad?" Barry asked when I got back to the ship.
    "I certainly am. Bring the map online will you? I need to plot us a course."



    "Next stop, Rautherion." I said.
    Barry grinned. "Let's go then kid, this is where things are going to get interesting."
    I nodded in agreement and perpared to take us out. From the look in his eye, it was clear Barry had something planned but what it was I had no idea.



    Additonal commentary
    Spoiler
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    Your actual start location is randomised when you start the game with a new, although it will always be in Federation space. Although your character does have an estranged Uncle Olaf, this is only revealed in the Pirate storyline. In most respects though, the pilot is essentially a blank slate.

    Barry's trade route isn't actually the most efficient. While it's true that Earth doesn't have a market for equpiment, Europa - one of the other ports in the Sol system - not only does but also pays just as highly for equipment as New England. By using it instead of New England, you avoid having to make 2 additional jumps, saving you both time and the money required to recharge your engines (only jumps actually use up energy, normal manouvering - without using an afterburner - is free).

    As far as Upgrades go I consider the IFF Decoder practically vital for combat and the Gravimetric Sensors almost equally so (more info on their effects in the next update) battery pack and solar panels are also highly useful - solar panels are probably the most cost effective form of energy reachager although they do use up a lot of your ship's upgrade space (or 'Mass' as it's somewhat misleadingly reffered to in game). The auto-reacharger just isn't worth it, imo. Yes, it may seem cheap, but given that all it does is shave of about .3 seconds worth of time upon landing (the time it takes to press the recharge button) it's still large waste of resources.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Domochevsky's Avatar

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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Hum... the text in the screenshots is a tad small, methinks. -_+
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    Hey, check out my site. (It has interactive comics, stories and coding efforts.)

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    Quote Originally Posted by Domochevsky View Post
    Hum... the text in the screenshots is a tad small, methinks. -_+
    Yeah... the screenshots are all practically actual size as it is. Bear in mind the game was first released in '02 and wasn't exactly pushing the graphical boundaries even then. I could try fiddling with resizing the screenshots themselves, but I can't promise that'll work. Not a lot I can do about I'm afraid.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: As the weave dictates. Let's play Escape Velocity: Nova

    You may want to save them as .png files, though. They would be larger, but there'd be less blurring.

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