The Let's Play Archive

The Ur-Quan Masters

by ProfessorProf

Part 4: Mar 17 2155 - Mining the Centauri cluster

Here are the results of the voting!

The following updates were made to my ship:

After that, 20 votes dictated that we explore nearby star systems. To the Centauri cluster!

Once I've selected my destination of Gamma Centauri, the auto-piot kicks in, taking me towards the edge of the system.


The HyperSpace theme is my favorite song in the game.

HyperSpace is different from TrueSpace in three significant ways. First, if I stop thrusting, the ship will quickly come to a stop. Second, moving through it costs fuel.

Third, time passes faster here. In TrueSpace, a day passes for every 30 seconds of real time. In HyperSpace, a day passes every five seconds.

Our first trip to another star system!

Few systems have as many planets as Sol.

The Heart of Gold is much less of a turtle than it was, but could still stand to be a lot more maneuverable.

I start with a trip to Gamma Centauri II, which is a sad little planet. Nothing on the surface is better than base metals, and the Class 6 Tectonics make it very dangerous to explore. I don't even bother sending a lander.

Gamma Centauri I has a moon!

The moon is garbage!

The planet itself is much nicer! Yellow dots are Precious Metals, worth 6 RUs per unit. On top of that, there's even some radioactives.

The weather and tectonics may pose some difficulty, though.

For dangerous planets, it's safer to take several short hops, quickly returning to the flagship, in order to reduce risk of losing the Lander.

The downside: This is a very dense planet. Each round trip gulps up 2.7 fuel units.

In the end, I manage to scour most of the planet with no losses.

I went into more detail because this was our first expedition, but I'm going to start glossing over less interesting planets moving forward.

Next stop: Alpha Centauri!

The color of the orbit circles indicates the level of solar radiation at that distance. Brigther colors = hotter planets.

Alpha Centauri is a very powerful star.

We're not alone here.

It's going to be hard to find anything worthwhile here - the powerful star means that even the furthest planets out will be covered in dangerous hotspots.

However, this is definitely a worthwhile expedition.

Gem worlds are some of the most desirable places in the galaxy. The surface temperature is over 400 degrees, but almost any amount of risk would be worth it for the massive exotic mineral deposits.

I dodge fire desperately to get at deposits for Tzo Crystals and Neutronium, but still lose four crew members to the intense heat.

The alien ship continues wandering between planets as I do the same.

Alpha Centauri I, the closest planet to the star, is twice as hot as the ruby world was, and has Class 6 Tectonics on top of that.

I spend less than a second on the surface before taking off, but still lose two crew.

Alpha Centauri III is an even more bountiful ruby world, with over twice the number of exotics. However, I'll be facing dangerous electrical storms as I hunt them.

A staggering twelve crew members die as I pick the planet clean. If I hadn't bought that cargo bay, this would be the end of the trip.

Blue dots are Noble Gases, worth 4 RUs per unit.

Against my better judgement, I make a couple journeys to the surface. Seven people die for the fairly-valuable gases.

I have now lost half of the Heart of Gold's crew to planet hazards.

With all the system's valuable resources pillaged, it's time to confront our neighbors.



...'Inevitably Successful in All Circumstances'. I bid you a formal welcome, Captain.
Though we Melnorme have just recently arrived in this region of space, we have long desired to make contact with your species, and look forward to an extended, profitable relationship.

Even before our first meeting, we knew of you, Captain. Though your struggle to free Earth shall be a long and difficult challenge, fraught with great danger and mystery, we have great confidence in you and your abilities.

We gather information from a thosuand secret sources in space and time. Our charge for revealing even one of these sources would be so high that your species would be in debt to us for centuries.

Our origins and purposes are, frankly, mysterious, and due to several unavoidable factors, we are unable to discuss ourselves in any great detail.

First and foremost among these factors is our unwillingness to GIVE away information about our history, psychology and mental powers, the exact locations of homeworlds, or our potentially ominous long-range plans. However, these important and relevant pieces of information ARE available, for a nominal sum of Credits.

Absolutely. Our primary trade good IS information. Why, right here on my display screen, I have something which I am certain would be of incalculable value to you! We can discuss the details of this VERY significant information later, when we have established normal trading procedures, at which time we shall also discuss the nature of our fees.

You are of course correct. We long ago abandoned currency, and now only deal with commodities that have intrinsic value, such as valuable information.

No, it is not. In fact, in our culture, 'giving' with no fair exchange of goods or services is considered vulgar and inappropriate. Please do not mention this subject again.

Yes, let us get down to business.
Since this is your first time trading with us, let me explain how our system works. We are interested in purchasing certain items, specifically biological data on alien life forms, and the coordinates of certain strange worlds whose radiant energies defy all scanners, producing a rainbow-like image. In exchange, we have many interesting and valuable commmodities, such as fuel compatible with your starship's HyperDrive thrusters, technological specifications, allowing you to build new devices for your ship, and many important secrets which may help you in your travels. To facilitate trade, we translate all your sales into Interstar Credits, with which you may make purchases. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask.

I don't think Greenish knows what 'currency' means.

That's a good question with a very interesting answer! The fee for this information is 12,000,000 Credits.

Someone once asked Toys for Bob what the answer to that question was in an interview IRC chat, years after the game's release. Their price for the information was not Interstar Credits, but a new successful Star Control sequel.

Anyway, we can't make any purchases without credits.

We appreciate your intentions, but you have nothing we wish to buy.

It has been a pleasure dealing with you, Captain. We look forward to your next visit.

The Melnorme will be extremely valuable allies(?) over the course of our journey. However, that will have to wait until we have something they want.

Next destination, Beta Centauri.

Much cooler star, six planets. Let's get to work!

Beta Centauri V has a positive on the biological scan. Let's make the Melnorme happy!

The indigenous lifeforms of this planet are wandering green blobs. They're not hostile, but they're a bit tricky to pin down with my clunky Lander's stunner. Especially amidst Class 6 Tectonics.

One shot, though, and they leave behind a pod that I can take back with me to the ship.

Four dead crew later, I emerge with a paltry 16 units of biodata. Those blobs weren't very interesting.

The third moon of Beta Centauri I provides a nice, meaty pile of radioactives.

Beta Centauri III's first moon is littered with varying degrees of useful resources. I pick most of it clean, losing another four crew in the process.

The second moon is inhabited! I send a lander.

However, the alien life here is fast, powerful, and extremely hostile. Between that and the tectonic activity, I give up the chase after losing only one more crew.

Anyway, that's close to a full ship of cargo, and I'm running low on crew and fuel, so it's time to head back.

By the way, I thought you should know:
We are being bathed in broad-beam HyerWave transmission from the direction of the Rigel star system. Due to the broadcast's wide dispersion, we cannot discern its content.

Excellent work, Captain!

If you have the patience, I would recommend you spend several months, or even a year gathering mineral resources. You can find such minerals on almost any planet surface, but the quality and density will vary depending on the type of planet you're on. Base metals are probably the most common materials you'll find, but they aren't particularly valuable. You can find rarer precious and radioactive elements on metal-rich worlds such as Mercury.
An old miner once told me that you could tell the relative quality of a planet's minerals based on the planet's color as seen from space. To remember the color sequence from good to bad, the miner had a mnemonic which went something like... 'Very Young Orangunans Could Grow Bananas, Perhaps Rather Well'.
It is also the case that mineral yields will be better at hotter stars. Temperature is related to the size and color of a star. Red stars are the coolest, then orange, yellow, green, blue, and the hottest stars are white.

That all depends on whom you meet, doesn't it, Captain?
Well, in all seriousness, if you encounter the Ilwrath, VUX, Androsynth, or other Hierarchy battle thralls, I wouldn't hold out much hope for a peaceful encounter. So, if you feel you have the advantage, attack! The resources you scavenge from the enemies' wreckage are well worth the effort.
If you can find Alliance races who are in a position to help us, then you MUST convince them to join with us! Their assistance may be crucial to our success.

Hmm... let's see...
You need to build up and balance the strength of your flagship.
I would add thrusters up to say, 5 or 6. Speed is essential in combat, but it would also pay off over the long haul in HyperSpace, and if you prefer to avoid confrontation, nothing beats a great pair of legs.
I would add turning jets for increased maneuverability.
I would add enough weapons to defend yourself if you are caught without escort ships.
You need more crew, at least 50, to make productive voyages into space.
You need additional fuel, at least 50 units.
Your weapons will be underpowered in combat if you don't have at least 1 dynamo.
Use the Resource Units you have accumulated to improve your flagship.

Captain, I wish I had an easy answer, but I don't. The only way I can see of liberating Earth, as well as the Alliance allies, is to destroy the Ur-Quan and their armada of battle thralls entirely.

To defeat our enemies, we will need awesome strength, both in your flagship and the fleet, as well as the assistance of powerful new allies. Though combat will be unavoidable, and sometimes necessary to achieve our goals, I am certain your wits will be at least as important as your weapons. You will need to explore this region of space, gathering resources and information wherever you go.

It's Christmas in April! We have over 10,000 RUs to play with, so I'm going to change up how the voting works.

Loyal crew: Suggest a shopping list for how to spend these resources! Don't feel obligated to spend all of them if you don't want to - there will be plenty more to buy later on. Alternately, vote for someone else's list. Whichever strategy wins, I'll buy everything on their list.

Refresher on options:

As for what to do next, we have a few new options.

Some kind of broadcast is coming from Rigel. It's probably not worth spending an entire trip to just go to a single system that close to Sol, but it's conveniently on the way to Spathi space, so we could potentially hit two birds with one stone. On the other hand, we have no way of knowing whether whoever's at Rigel is friend or foe.

Vela is the system we came from before the game began - maybe they'd want to know what the situation is on Earth. Also, Hayes said this was the same direction as Androsynth space. Maybe we could pay them a visit, although last intel was that they were Hierarchy battle thralls...

Procyon is the last known location of the Chenjesu and Mmrmnhrm. However, it now lies deep within Ilwrath space. We took on one Avenger, but it was damaged and understaffed - the real fights here will be much more dangerous.

So, our options: