The Let's Play Archive

Protostar: War on the Frontier

by Samovar

Part 4: Call her Ishmael

Hello there! Sorry about the delay in the update. When we last left our hero, we had just gotten around to naming the native fauna of Tavantal;

Unfortunately, there's no option to add non-letter character's in the names, besides from a space. Which I never knew, because I had no imagination as a child.

Before we go off-world and investigate a few things, a few things have come up which we might want to ask ABE about...

:What can you tell me about automatons?

: Until recently, we have served in industrial and high risk capacities. Newer evolutions are being assigned to roles normally occupied by sentient lifeforms.

: I am an example of this progression.

: The Luddites were right! What can you tell me about the siege? Sorry, I mean Siege. Doesn't seem as impressive without capitalization.

: The Skeetch have committed their entire fleet to the siege of Gaea Sector. For the present, they are ignoring the Human population scattered across the frontier.

: And what do you have to say for yourself, boyo?

: I am Automated Being Evolution 440, produced by Sentibot corporation.

: I am constructed from the highest rated materials, and can withstand considerable damage. My primary programming is for engineering tasks.

And then he buggers off. For something that's supposed to help us, it's pretty brusque. Guess ABE's acclimatising us for the inhabitants of Thule.

It'll be a while before the Vantu will talk to us; in the meantime, we'll do a bit of buying and selling, report our findings and funding to Hawking, see that star system Dodel mentioned and then start making trails to Boobolla.



First off, since we're damned close to the actual location - the last known co-ordinates of the Human ship.

Any time you go to a location without a star on it; you'll invariably see this scene; except with even less stuff in it. Let's see if there's anyone else alive out there.

Wow. These guys have been put through the proverbial wringer. Here's hoping the last person is still able to answer the intercom.

: This is Commander Samovar. I need to know more about your status, XOE-9283.

: We are... that is, I am in good health. My Commander and fellow crew members have all perished.

: There are no major energy leaks and most compartments have atmosphere.

: I've rigged the power couplings to overload.

: Uhh, you know, I'm not too boned up on my sci-fi engineering degree, but that sounds kinda like... That would destroy your ship!

: It's a relief that you got here first.

: We can't tow your ship from this far and also, you've made your ship into a goddamn bomb, and we can't just leave you here. See earlier comments on your ship = goddamn bomb.

: I understand. I'll activate the couplings while you pull alongside.

: Farewell, XOE.

: What will you do now?

Well, at least you've got your goals nice and clearly defined...

: I know this place like the inside of my flightsuit. There's no place they can hide.

: Hold on there! Aren't you forgetting something... like a ship to travel around in?

She's all right, this 'un.

: Listen, by the time you sort out the red tape with Newfront, then get a new commission...

: ...the Skeetch will have conquered or kissed this galaxy goodbye! And I'm hoping for the latter!

: What do you suggest?

: I could use a good Navigator. I promise this ship will fry more Skeetch than any other vessel in the Sector.

Quick aside - we really, really will be trying to avoid them as much as possible, actually.

: Skeetch fries... interesting. Count me in, Commander Samovar.

And so we have our newest crew member, Cassi. She's the first (and easiest) one you can get after ABE, and you can assign crew to particular stations that you think they are best assigned to. Since it is pretty much smashed right into our face at the beginning, Cassi is best suited to being placed into the Navigation station.

You can find other crew members throughout the galaxy; one for each station plus one more.... However, adding people to each station means that you now have to allocate a salary to the guys working for you. Since you can actually do their jobs FOR them, there's absolutely no reason gameplay wise why you should do this. However, since it wouldn't make a very good story if I didn't try and get the most rag-tag group of can-do mavericks, I'm going to get everyone.

Lemme know which subjects - if any - you wanna talk about with Cassi. Oh yes, and how I act with each crew member - professional, complimentary or... and I am loath to give this option... over-the-top?

Oh yeah, before we go...

That's right, we can take slag constituents for our own profit. Hope you don't mind us grave-robbing your old crew-members, Cassi!

That's our automated probe going to snatch up the remaining material. This is a particularly hard thing to do in the middle of a space battle, as you need to be able to stay close to the wreckage and not get blown to smithereens yourself.

Anyway - to a new location! We need to sell what cargo we have to pick up some funds and some fuel; so I think we'll make trails to the 'Southern-most' outpost. But before we go all the way there; we could do with picking up some extra resources... Let's try this star system for absolutely no reason whatsoever!

And would you look at that, a solitary planet by the name of Ballont. And why, what on Earth (or off of it) is on Ballont, but...

Yeah, yeah, I cheated a bit here - but mainly because this planet's life gets discovered ASAP, and I wouldn't want to deprive you guys of the chance of the joys of naming it yourself, and not having to deal with the game's dumb-as-hell name suggestions.

With those guys out of the way, it's time to go to the Outpost I alluded to earlier; namely...

This is an entirely new Outpost, and it has a unique lobby design. Without further ado, let's get on-station!

See what I mean? It's very pretty.

After a quick selling session, we make off with a pretty 30580 credits. 5000 of that goes to buying some extra stabilium. As for the remainder, well...

: It's good to see you, Samovar. How is your mission progressing?

: Dicking around, as usual, sir. I'm doing all that I can.

: I'm sure that you are. I have full confidence in your abilities, Samovar.

: I have some information that may interest our constituents. I've registered the lifeform Ballsnapper, Suckup and Bat Orang.

: Good work, Samovar.

: Your efforts should strengthen constituent faith... for a while

Ah, how fickle democracy is!

: Our defense funds are low right now.

And herein is the reason you have to keep checking in with Director Hawking. You have to supply Gaea Sector on a regular basis. If you don't the situation deteriorates, and you'll eventually lose the game (I am not sure, however, what the time-line for that is). In the meantime, let's just give Esteban a good, round 10000 creds

: Thank you, Samovar. Your contributions are essential to our victory. Send us funds as soon as you are able. Keep me updated, Samovar.

And there he goes. As for the Announcements section...

Hey! That's us!

Newfront announcements will make a record of when and where you found new life-forms, to make it all the easier for illegal poaching and unregistered vivisections to occur. On a non-joking aside, it also can act as a beacon for certain planets containing life that you haven't found. The computer won't find all three life-forms on a planet immediately.

So yeah, not much else is new. Before I leave this place for good; there's a little something I want to try in the immediate region of this station, and besides, I think I've left it long enough...

Oh! Well, I didn't need to go far, at all! Right now we're under attack by a fleet of three pirate vessels. They occur more commonly at Freehaven, but I wasn't expecting them AT the Outpost. At full capacity, these guys aren't a bother, but as we are right now; I'm not sure how we'll do. Let's try initiating contact! Maybe they'll take mercy?

What, no 'pull alongside and prepare to be boarded? These guys are the worst pirates! And as an aside, this one pirate guy? He's the best looking of all space pirates. Yeah. They got SO much uglier.

So what is space combat like? Well, it goes a little something like this...

Sorry about the music dropping out like that. Strangely enough, the game can't handle multiple sound effects simultaneously, like that. If you are lucky, you'll get only one enemy ship, but we were not so lucky.

Now, during encounters, we have to turn on our defences and weapons, and then afterwards turn them off. This is because any neutral forces will become hostile if you approach them with your weapons turned on. This means, in turn, that EVERY enemy will get at least one shot on you.

In these encounters, you want to do what I just did, i.e. get behind the enemy vessel, match its speed and blast the fuckery out of it. If you dinnae dodge and weave, the enemy can in turn blast you and yer ship will take damage, there are two kinds of damage that can occur, either to the stations of your ship (represented by the aquamarine bar) or the people manning the ship (represented by the orange bar). Auto-healing for both station and personnel will occur if you don't get hit, but you can direct repairs to specific areas/people if they are in exceptional trouble. Obviously, we don't want to lose anything.

Now, our vessel only has three kinds of weapons, the particle guns (the rapid fire weapon), the accel cannon (the slow moving, blue sphere) and pursuit pods, which are homing missiles which pursue the nearest target and cause the most damage out of all the weapons in the game except one... So, why don't we use that?

Did you see what changed there? Yep, using the Pursuit pod costs ten units of stabilium, EVERY time it is used. Thankfully in this screen, you don't use ANY stabilium when flying. Otherwise, this game would be very short.

Now, we've been causing most damage to the grey vessel, and we'll be concentrating our fire on it. You'll have noticed when I was blasting the damn thing, systems started going red all over it. This reflects the system damage we are doing; the darker the colour, the more damage we cause, up until it turns black. Now, we want this to happen. Because if we blow up their engines, we can take them to pieces at our leisure.

After a short interlude (where ANOTHER enemy vessel got called in), I managed to drive off all but one enemy vessel, which couldn't flee because I've blown the engines.

Now, you remember how bioscans can tell you how many people are alive on a ship? Well, we can also BOARD enemy vessels, but only when EVERYONE ONBOARD IS DEAD. What's that, ask for their surrender? What do you think we are, privateers? Hell no! Murderers or nothing!

Like so.

Now, with everyone dead, you can board the vessel and make off with THEIR booty. That's right, you can pirate pirates! And it is exceptionally profitable! And much less boring then scanning and mining planets for absolutely ages.

From here, we just direct their cargo hold to ours. As it so happens, our booty consisted of ~ 50m3 of stabilium and...

That's right; we get our greasy mitts on the ship systems of the guys we just killed, and if those other guys hadn't pissed off, we would have gotten theirs too. The money you can get from pirating pirates is actually quite high. AND it is much more fun then simply exploring a planet with elevator music in the background while you fight the urge to jam a pair of tweezers into your ears and eyes from boredom.

And when we've taken all their stuff, we blow up their vessel and take the remaining aluminium and titanium.

Well! That was an invigorating session! (especially when my game bugged out and the blown up pirate ship started shooting at me) I think we best get back to Freehaven with out ill-gotten gains; but first...

: ...flips from one end to the other when travelling... tactile and radar senses... internal pressurization for digestion and defense... multiple orifices emit high frequency sounds or steam blasts... frequent asexual production of infant podlings.

Yeah, I'm not surprised THAT thing is asexual.

: ...tactile sense and survival reflexes... segmented coverings feature sharp projections... frequently kills by constriction... spiny seeds spread by scavengers.

: ...primary sense are olfactory and tactile... segmented armour shell provides protection and enables deep burrowing... infrequent mating between hermaphrodites produces numerous offspring.

...So, any suggestions about what THIS horrid menagerie should be called?