Part 43: Day 1: Novus OrcaWarning: Intense browser pain may occur. There's a lot of exposition and images in the first mission.
Day 1: Novus Orsa
Things move quickly in the Creeper World universe. This time we are explicitly told that each mission is the day after the previous one.
The background is much different with new design art, and the little whitish ships fly around. All in all it just looks sharper with superior graphic design. A positive first impression. In terms of the main sections of the game down the middle of the screen from the bottom up, Custom gets us into the user-created map section.
The 'Code' section basically takes the place of the chronomoter from the original game. You can put in a date or any random characters basically -- because I'm random I typed in 'purple yeti zebra' here. Or have the game generate a random one, whatever. You can see a bunch of various stats below, a preview of the map, and there are additional options for the Size and Complexity. So this part of things appears to have gotten an upgrade as well. Still, I don't expect to be making much use of these since they are probably not going to be nearly as interesting as the official or specifically-designed maps.
The 'Bonus' screen gives us a set of 10 extra missions to consider. This seems clearly to be a beat-one, unlock the next type of thing. Apparently this derives from the Special Ops section from the original CW, except that there is no Conquest area to beat in order to unlock them. In general I like this better also, since most(though not all) of the Conquest planets were just basically stuff to grind through mindlessly in order to get to the next, more interesting Special Ops unlock.
Same deal here really, with 20 missions instead of 10 for the Bonus. This time the game really openly announces how long it is, which I'm generally not a fan of but there is some consistency here; same amount of Story content as the first game and 20 is a solid amount IMO.
Apparently each world takes place on successive days. There was a bit of mystery surrounding the passage of time in the first game, but not so here. Novus Orsa is our first challenge. And so it is time. The tale of Creeper World 2: Redemption now begins.
This comes up after selecting Novus Orsa.
Time for some exposition. 'Next' takes me to, well, the next thing to read; Skip All on the lower right skips the whole convo. Which is quite useful when you, *ahem*, die stupidly and don't want to read it all again since you're re-doing a planet for the umpteenth time. Not that this will ever happen to me, of course. I'm sure I'll be flawless as I bumble about figuring out this game.
It's pretty clear that Admiral Abraxis is my character from the first game, known only then as the Commander. Thirty years have passed and he's still alive ... and feeling pretty positive about things.
It seems the good Admiral both had, and has lost, a daughter. Apparently she made a big contribution of some kind as well. I think the addition of 'avatars' helps flesh out the characters here.
A hundred Commanders promoted in one day?!? I also admit that anytime I hear the name Dax I think of the DS9 character -- but I don't think he's got a Trill in mind here.
Cmdr. Dax Joven. Looks a bit young ... and sounds about as green and unprepared for the new job as he could get. One wonders how small the human population is. 50k three decades ago -- perhaps things have gotten to the point where merely being able to breathe qualifies one to be an officer of notable rank.
Lt. Varro Hale is a third character now. He's trying to steady the new Commander.
Apparently humanity is doing well enough to develop new toys and form obviously-named governmental bodies and acronyms to go along with them. And the Commander apparently was on a first-name basis with the Admiral's late daughter, which is interesting. So far things reek of nepotism.
We do really seem to be quite sure of ourselves. Hopefully this developed knowledge of the Creeper will be shared soon.
Obviously hubris remains alive and well.
Elements both familiar and new here. The resource displays are at the top in the new version. Energy returns, but we now have things called Ore and Technytes. Time and Score seem to work basically the same. The 'above-ground' background image seem to be there basically for aesthetic. At the bottom a lot of stuff is locked but the Systems and Weapons in the lower-left serve the purpose of 'click on stuff here to build it'. Moving to the right along the bottom of the screen, there are three speeds(I plan to stay on the standard middle selection), along with Gravity and Build Dir, suggesting those elements are variable. Then there's a grey area that displays information about whatever the cursor is presently pointing at, and the usual options/help/sound/pause/etc. controls.
In the middle we've got the Liberation Ship as can be seen, a cross-section of this area that serves as our 'map', and some instructions. I expect a lot of instructions in this first mission, and will get to explaining more about the map symbols itself as they come up here.
Clearly the NHA now sees itself as being on an offensive posture; planet-by-planet, we are to eradicate Creeper infestations instead of running for our lives. That sounds positive, though I'm not sure how realistic it is.
Subtle. And arrogant.
Still using the 'ancient' 4:3 aspect ratio as can be seen, but we do have options for different resolutions here. I'll eventually turn down the music ... I didn't realize how loud it was going to come through even at this fairly-low level. A few basic effects settings as well.
So apparently I can't hate on Reactors anymore. Collectors, and the networks they formed, are no longer a thing. Reactors are the metallic-tan things that look wannabe water towers or whatever, such as the one on the very left here.
The packets apparently just 'fly around' to wherever they are needed, rendering the network moot(more on this in a bit). Green ones for construction, still red for ammunition. Here is shown the building process midway.
This comes up when completing the three reactors as instructed.
There's something very mad-scientist about the phrase 'benign version of creeper'.
Not explained here is that not all terrain is created equal in terms of excavating. For example the right-most two squares they want cleared here are standard ground(3 energy each required), while the black things on the left two indicate they are harder to clear out(10 each). The solid grey squares can't be excavated at any cost(game says infinity) and there are others with more dense black marks that cost 25. So there's quite a bit of variability here.
The tutorial stuff is also hitting the energy management point hard and repeatedly, which is a good thing; it's basically the central skill of Creeper World.
Excavation packets are white, the color of construction packets in the original. So that takes a bit of adjusting.
Some buildings, like the Ore Rig, can attach upside-down or whatever. The yellowish-triangle thingies indicate an ore deposit. Ore Rigs costs 10 energy, twice that of Reactors which carry a price of 5.
Mostly basic stuff here, but the key point worth noting seems to be that Ore is not infinite, in contrast to Energy. This is a way to differentiate missions, as some may have an abundance and others little-to-no Ore available.
Oh, we actually get to do something now.
Here we can see that the Blaster pretty much looks like it did in the original game. The white area surrounding it is the range of the weapon, covering almost all of the Creeper(once again blue). It also still costs 25 Energy to build. All of this is quite the same as the first game, except that we don't have to worry about setting up a network to reach the deployment location.
The importance of energy management is hit once again. And the hand-holding here is pretty hilarious -- yes, my 'skills and quick learning' ... aka ability to follow basic instructions ... are quite formidable. Queue Cpt. Obvious. Also worth noting: apparently these are 'hover-blasters', as they can just sit in mid-air with no problem. We've seen this isn't the case with Reactors and Ore Rigs already, so hover-tech apparently is only implemented in some structures but not others.
A bit spoilery here since we don't know anything about Drones here yet, but se la vi.
Soon the Blaster is finished and starts vaporing the pool of Creeper, a process which we are extremely familiar with. And oooh, a scrolling map! What new devilry is this??
Here's the 'bottom' of things scrolled all the way down. I find the mouse wheel easiest to use.
And look at that, our first creeper Emitter. We can see precise(instead of 'out-of-six' or basic color gradients, which are also returned here) density. The emitter strengths are revealed as well in precise terms. 10k more every half a second.
Ahh, more lovely horseradish technobabble to justify another new structure. I don't remember when, but at some point I experimented with Beacons and determined that they require a constant amount of energy to power the area around them, regardless of how many or few structures are making use of their localized 'Phantom Energy Field'.
That thing in the upper right which I've selected, looking like a perverse mating of a Slinky and a Tesla Coil, is a Beacon. The lit-up area is what it powers -- the dark in the lower-left corner is out of range of any of our Beacons at the moment, so we can't operate anything there.
Beacons cost 15 Energy each, less than a Blaster but more than a Reactor or Oil Rig.
This is definitely a more-involved tutorial mission than in the first game.
The Maker is quite expensive(50 Energy to build) and uses Ore once it is in place and activated. Note the lower-left -- they've got a lot of settings. How fast they produce, releasing everything at once or steadily, they can store a bunch of it up ... lots of different ways to tweak how they operate.
The 'Vacuum' ability is not explained in-game. Of course I could have found out what it does by experimenting with it. Instead, I let a bunch of Anti-Creeper go to waste, as will be seen, on some missions through ignorance. Doh.
Most important thing to note here is that you don't tell Anti-Creeper where to go or what to attack; positioning the Maker in the right place so that gravity takes the whitish liquid where it needs to go is vital.
So Adm. Abraxis just happened to have a daughter so brilliant and innovative that the rest of humanity's best and brightest are like a toddler by comparison. I'm sure Platius had nothing whatsoever to do with this. I also can't help but laugh, no matter how many times I read it, at the casualness with which we are told things like 'the Nullifer alters the rules of physics around the Emitter'. Oh, is that all. Just alters the laws of the universe. Piece of cake.
Being able to actually eliminate Emitters is nice though from a strategic point of view. It does indeed appear that the NHA has learned a trick or two over the intervening decades.
The Nullifier does have to be close to it's target, as seen here. The Anti-Creeper and Blaster join in the attack to ensure it will be safe. Apparently one simply cannot alter the rules of physics at long range. Nullifiers are also expensive, requiring 50 Energy like the Maker does.
Once built, the Nullifier begins a 5-second countdown because reasons, then unleashes a bolt of(fractal?) energy at the emitter for a few more. Both Nullifier and Emitter explode, so this is a one-use weapon.
And then ...
The Liberation Ship warps out. Apparently Totems are also not needed anymore.
Familiar-looking graph at the end of each mission, but there are twice as many things tracked. I can also turn these on and off individually. Overall though I've found them not to be as useful as they were in the first game. Definitely the energy ones are still the most important I think.
That's ... a lot of exposition. Like the original game though I expect it'll calm down quite a bit. We've got a handle on some of the basics and several structures, most of them new.