Part 1: Welcome to Thule Sector
Here at the very beginning we start out at the Biotech services - it's not immediately obvious what the bleedin' hell is going on, but that's not important just now. First and foremost, our name:
And after we press enter, we get immediately moved to the following scene:
It's no scrolling text exposition, but eh; it'll do.
The camera shifts downward, revealing a space station. And heading towards that space station...
Who else but yours truly?
Immediately we get pushed to some kind of a intercom, and get a call from one Director Hawking.
: Now for the difficult part of your assignment...
: Your objective has been to avoid all contact, but now you'll actively seek relations with alien factions
: These are the Ghebraant, Kaynik, Deresta and Vantu.
: You must ally these natives to our cause, then utilise their support to disrupt Skeetch supply lines
: Which would effectively turn the tables on the Skeetch fleet
: Precisely Samovar
:: But you'll have to leave some of your field experience behind you. Keep in mind that we're trying to ALLY these species.
Ach c'mon... You managed to accidentally start ONE pan-galactic war resulting in the deaths of billions and suddenly YOU'RE seen as the bad guy?
: I get the picture sir... minimum offensive posture
: Now that we're straight on those objectives, do you have any questions?
: What purpose does my Newfront identity serve?
Well, that's what you get by voting Tories. Nowt but self-centred liberals and quasi-facist Randroids ready to just jump ship at the chance of making a profit any way they can. Quislings, the lot of 'em.
: So far, this stance has spared them from Skeetch aggression. Newfront is allowing your covert operation in exchange for exclusive trade arrangements
Oh great. So now I'm a goddamned hired agent for this Weyland-Yutani-wannabe corporation? Just wonderful.
: Then we can't fully rely on Newfront?
: They may come around if they see the locals rallying to the Alliance.
: The series of stations and depots that led you to the frontier is our channel to the outside. Our defence forces will subsist on the funds that YOU send us through this secret channel.
: I'd better get started!
: You should also get some crew members. Those Newfront vessels are far from the Recon Craft that you're used to.
I have a feeling I'm gonna be needing all the luck I can get here...
Well, now that we FINALLY have all that exposition out of the way, welcome to Garriod! This is one of three outposts maintained by Newfront in the Thule Sector that have been established for interstellar trade - they're the safe havens of this game. Currently they're packed with humans primarily; but there are a few other peoples around the place that we can bump into.
As you can see, there are six things we can do from this entrance lobby. We can access the Newfront com-terminal in the centre of the room, and see what announcements are available as well as drop a line to Director Hawking to give funds and declare findings. Keep in mind, we DO need to supply funds to the guy. You can lose the game if you don't keep him well supplied.
The open door on the immediate left is the lounge - a good place to rest a wee bit before heading on our grand adventure.
To the far left is the exchange centre. Any goods we manage to pick up from planetary exploration (or by other means...) can be sold there for credits. Available to buy from this locale is the most important resource in the whole game - the fuel source for our ship, called Stabilium. Hey, at least it's better than bleedin' Unobtainium, alright?
Right and to the back is the Biotech services. If any of our crew has come a cropper, we can get them stitched back into a semi-morphous shape with this facility. Also found behind this door is this game's encyclopedia, detailing the biology of all known aliens in this sector. This'll get updated as new life-forms are found in this game.
Closest door on the right is Frontier Craft - the mechanical services available for us to upgrade our ship's shield, fields, engines, weapon systems, etc. etc. Very valuable, but as of right now, we cannae really afford anything. So we'll have to just wait before getting anything from there.
Finally, the last thing we can do is leave the station and get onto our ship. Let's do that, shall we?
FINALLY. To be able to stretch the legs (metaphorically speaking, anyway), time to get a good look around Thule...
: I am Automated Being Evolution 440.
Oh good. Remind me to send him a thank you pipe-bomb next time we meet.
: Can I just call you ABE?
: As you wish.
Basically, this is the way the game performs copy protection. However, it's actually pretty crappy. It asks you to identify a government type of one of the sentient species in the game. There's only six possible answers, and if you did a bit of background reading at the Biotech station, you'd be able to make educated guesses as to the correct answers. After giving the correct answer to whatever the question is, ABE disengages security locks to the ship. Moving swiftly on...
This is what the immediate system looks like on the vid-display of our ship. In the centre is Garriod station, and currently there's nowt else. Other places will have more than just one thing in them, though. You get star systems with various planets, and every so often you get fellow space travellers; some good, some neutral and some... less generously inclined. But to get an idea of exactly how much stuff there is to explore, I think I had better pull up the Nav system and show the Thule sector in its entirety...
That's right. There's over fifty different noted locations to go to in this game. Three outposts, four home systems (those are the really shiny stars) and a crapload of stars; and orbiting each star is a variety of planets, with the potential of a variety of different life-forms, some known, others unknown.
The ship itself has six different stations, Biotech, Science, Navigation, Engineering, Contact and Tactical. I'll get into exactly what each of these stations do at the relevant times when we first use them.
With your help, goons, I'd like to try and get the ship upgraded ASAFP before tackling the major mission, but with you guys influences and decisions. That being said; Who would you like to visit first? The Ghebraant, the Vantu or the Deresta? The Kaynik will be left later, for reasons that will become apparent if we ever bump into any of them.
To help you make your decision, here's the Biotech's brief on each of the quartet.
: ..primary sense are olfactory, visual and audio... bipedal or quadruped locomotion...facial organ stores fat for frigid environments...infrequent reproduction through spontaneous conception.
: ..primary sense are electrostatic, radar and visual... quadruped locomotion... protected by hard exoskeleton... mandibles used as tool implements... frequent production of numerous offspring by hive master.
: ..primary senses are visual, audio and olfactory... biped or quadruped locomotion... protective, fur covered hide... armed with sharp teeth and claws... frequent mating produces small litters.
: ..primary senses are visual, audio and olfactory.. bipedal locomotion and good climbing ability... mastery of advanced cerebrum.. infrequent mating between sexes produces singular offspring.
So... to whom should we start out diplomatic outreach to?