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[TLDR] BFV Alpha hasn't inspired confidence in this old fan

I think I'm gonna pass buying this:
there's no sitting at suburb, in a weird peace hearing the distance battle, all the while knowing it could come crashing down on you at a moments notice. BF3 and on have been just non-stop hectic combat everywhere, no sense of pacing or ebb-and-flow.. something the BF2 trailer nodded to:
https://youtu.be/fQ2c3Yj7Haw?t=138
Yes, the trailer had to sell, and as a whole, it is this all out assault on a single base. But then when it is taken, the assault is over, and if it weren't for the commander asset, it would have been a sweet break in the combat. That base on Daqing Oilfields? It was sometimes a bloody intense 4 squad firefight, other times you could be holding it with nobody coming, but you knew the longer it went after taking it, the harder that wave of enemies was gonna crash down on you. It was the same with Strike at Karkand's Suburb I mentioned earlier - It gave teams critical access to Market and Train, and getting it was sometimes an intense firefight - but it would be a minute or two before the enemy could react - going in alone was a bad idea, so typically a tank or Vodnik/Humvee would be used.
These little self contained matches, these battles - taking bases was always this (with some poor map design exceptions, such as Hotel on said Strike at Karkand). These were what made Battlefield such a lasting and memorable experience. The reward for playing was victory, was collaboration, was succeeding with your friends or even strangers online. Yes, weapon or class or vehicle balance was often broken, but the core gameplay was that the battlefield was not one huge front of players murdering each other, it was a collection of little conflicts, clashes between squads, vehicles coming in to provide critical support when things went south. None of this in a hardcore, ARMA-style play - the emergent arcade experience simply encouraged this kind of play.
Every battle had this story, it wasn't brief 'battlefield' moments, it was fighting for every meter of dirt up the side of Mashtuur City from Hotel to North Gas Station, seeing buddies drop and supporting your squad, always on the lookout for flanking. Getting to the top, having an incredible firefight with one or even two squads, then taking that base and knowing they'd be coming back for it. Having time to regroup, plan a defense and hold it while someone scouted out to either lay traps or just be an early warning. A solid 2-3 minutes of battle to take a base, reviving, spawning, pushing, grinding, and achieving ultimate little victories.
Some of what made this succeed was the 6 man squad: splitting the squad, sending 4 guys head on into an enemy defense, while a squad leader and a medic circle around back to find a safe spot for the leader to sit back and overwatch from was a fundamental strategy everyone naturally came to use. That's how we did Junkyard on jalalabad - usually from market or fountain, we'd scope it out and look for mines, if there were mines and we had humvee, we'd jump the fence, if we had vodnik we'd park it in a corned outside the fence and draw fire, while the main 3 dps, usually a medic a support and antitank, went through the house or around back to the bridge. The vodnik would lookout so the leader and medic could wrap around the main entrace, in case t90/abrams were watching. This was organic, and would happen with randoms, not try hards, it was something people did once they realized having a squad leader alive was worth cooperating for. My friends and I did this specific tactic maybe two or three times. I played map over a hundred times, and I can remember at least as many experiences I had on it. This was just taking a single base. Not even the whole battle, which I could even tell you what we did from there.
I can't remember anything like this from games after BF3.. There are moments - but no experiences, no stories to embellish, nothing I could describe in detail, as if telling a war story from some war long ago. The new battlefield has given me nothing more than a collection of moments that I remember hazily.
BF5 is more of what made BF3 so bad for long time fans: if 1942-2142 were a tide of war, two waves crashing against eachother, or a rising tide trying to engulf a stronghold; BF3-BFV are a swimming pool. No matter where you are in it, you're in the middle of it. The only times you're not in the middle of it is when you're above it (flying) or not in it at all (deployment, or spawn screen). In BF classic, you could choose to be an engineer in a jeep, just blitzing around repairing tanks, or a support jeep resupplying everyone as needed. (medic/engineesupport resupplied repaired and healed with an aura when driving vehicles) - And hated as the player role may have been for ease of exploitation, commanders had assets, and these required engineers and even squads to stay behind the front lines to repair them or protect them. Players that wanted to constantly play at the front could do that too, because up the beach or out at sea, there's a calm - oceans rise because they are pushed from behind, and waves break because they are being pushed back by the slope of the beach. In BF3-BFV you're always at the front line, and the way classes evolved shows that, the level designs show that, the gimmicks show that. The expectation and the design is to simply ALWAYS be in thick of it. And if you're always in the thick of it, what makes one battle more memorable than the other, what reward is there for being creative or even playing for the team?
Calling post BF3 Battlefield a COD Clone, or saying it is becoming CoD has become somewhat of a meme, but when Battlefield 3 was released, the sentiment was brutally honest feedback from players which loved Call of Duty's hectic play, but also Battlefield slow and methodical arcade. I was one of those players - Until Modern Warfare introduced killstreaks, I put as many hours into Call of Duty as I did Battlefield. Modern Warfare was the first Billion dollar launch in the history of games, an industry where just breaking even was common (calculated as future development costs plus development costs), and having a "mere" 200% return on investment was a huge success. Modern Warfare changed all that. EA is owned by investors, and the idea of spending 100-200 Million to make 1.5 Billion was too attractive to pass up - or so we fans like to think. No other reason could have existed to justify the changes made to the core of the game franchise. There were only two major shifts that ocurred between Battlefield 2142 and Battlefield 3. Games started making billions per title, and Battlefield went to console. A third, Battlefield Bad Company, is not really a possible reason as the franchise has had several spinoffs during the classic Battlefield era.
Console audiences demanded deep offline experiences (campaigns) for success - a fact that can be seen by simply looking at the performance of games on console that lack campaigns as opposed to the same on PC. Games like Fortnite, PUBG, Counter Strike, Team Fortress, Quake, Unreal Tournament - and many more - simply could not have achieved Call of Duty level sales - even Battlefield's own attempts floundered until Battlefield Bad Company. Pushing a Campaign into the game was required for two reasons - the Xbox 360 requires that a game be playable offline (if installed with a disk/on a disk), and console players were much more likely to buy a full price title just for the single player campaign. This is the critical reason for console sales far exceeding comparable PC sales, even though the number of PC players dwarfs the number of console players. In order to achieve that Billion dollar franchise, EA had to add a campaign. Remember, this is years ago - the industry has shifted, with consoles now allowing for online play to be required, and console players being much more willing to purchase games that lack a defined single player campaign.
In adding a Campaign, DICE had to effectively split development - something they had partly avoided doing for Bad Company 2, where levels used in the Single Player were frequently repurposed for the Multiplayer. Battlefield 3's single player is in many ways a compeltely different game to the multiplayer - with vehicles, assets and even engineering technologies being used that are simply unnavailable in the multiplayer release. Some of these were concessions made in order to make Battlefields single player as good looking as possible, while also pushing the hardware to the limit just to get the multiplayer running on the Xbox 360. This is where the biggest pitfall would happen - Consoles require certification for release, consoles are inexpensive to procure, both the campaign and the multiplayer are very large and require lots of eyes on them to catch bugs. The result of all this is majority testing and feedback and data, pre-release, came from console testing.
How do I make this claim?
As we all know, Xbox 360 and PS3 have analog input, they have fewer buttons. Most importantly, they could only run 32 players at a time. On PC, picking up a kit was bound to its own key in all games leading up to BC2. The console lacks the number of buttons, so kit swap, something used very frequently in Battlefield, switched from being its own button, to "Hold Reload to Swap". This is a surface tip - we could even call it a coincidence. Dig deeper: Vehicles in BF3 and BF4 react very poorly to binary input, this can be seen best with the Jetskis in BF4, but also Jets and Helicopters in BF3 lacked certain features, certain types of braking and acceleration types which were mapped to the extremes of the analog sticks or triggers, these could be mapped on PC using the config file, but were simply missing in the menus - one of which was the ability to decelrate hard, or air brake. Another area where this could be seen was in infantry movement itself. There was a sluggishness and jankiness to swithing angles (pressing strafe and back or forward), which was even visible in other vehicles but most pronounced in infantry. A game with a special animation engine marketed as being the great next thing was delivering a second-rate movement experience on PC - specifically, when using binary input. Battlefield 3 deleting the weapon wheel preview would be another place where this change is clear.
All of these are little things that point to a console first, PC second *feedback* loop. Testers and play testers were spending most of their times behind analog controls. The two most critical problems the franchise faces stem from that.
Battlefield 3 and 4 level design and weapon balance is console centric. 3D spotting broke Battlefield 3 and 4 on PC.
3D spotting has a place in the console world - Battlefield has large environments, TVs are often poorly configured, low resolution or simply unable to show enough detail in darker rendered environments to make enemies sufficiently visible - Analog sticks are relatively unwieldy so hitting a 3D spotted target, while possibly easy for some of the best, is a challenge for most, unless that target is close enough for aim assist, at which point 3D spotting makes very little difference as the enemy is right on top of the player. On PC, however, tracking and clicking on the little doritos is child's play, the mouse is an incredibly intuitive and accurate pointing device. Open levels on PC, those with helicopters and jets especially, were deathtraps for infantry on PC, forcing most players to play the engineer role to simply get back at the enemy for dying 4 or 5 times from a mile away. Being spotted also meant that if an enemy could see you, they could also shoot at you, and on PC that usually means they will hit you, immediately. This sort of issue is genuinely game breaking, and can turn even the biggest maps into meat grinders for infantry deaths (Alborz Mountains).
Where there was some salvation from 3D spotting there was another problem. Level design on infantry focused maps in BF3 and to a smaller extent in BF4, were designed to allow console corner peeking, and worse yet, were designed for 32 players on console. Console corridor play is very different to PC corridor play. A hallway in a console game is difficult not when a target is far from the center of the screen, but when the target is far from the player character. On PC it is the exact opposite, a target at the end of a mile long hallway would be as hard to hit as a target at 25 feet (assuming the bullet can hit at the same time for both distances - the point being PC doesn't, as above mentioned, rely on aim assist). On PC, the traditional approach to hallway, or close quarter combat, is to require the player to have turn to find or search for targets: a wide room room that isn't very deep is far more dangerous to the player than the same room on console, as the console player can snap with aim assist. Grand Bazaar examplifies this issue. All primary combat areas on this map are long narrow channels, rather than wide fields of view with ample cover. Similarly, Caspian Border's central flag on the hill could see directly into several other bases. While on console this is largely a non issue given the lack of aim assist at longer ranges (making the addition of suppression a good way to slow the action down and make it more intense, while also rewarding players for putting bullets down range, you know, let them have fun) - on PC, this kind of access (in addition to 3D spotting) made spawn camping and random deaths a very common isssue.
Tracking targets is difficult on console, especially at a distance, and that's ok, Halo has some of the best combat in FPS ever, and it would be miserable (well, it is miserable) on PC, except when the maps are designed from the ground up for PC.
The second aspect I mentioned is weapon balance - Battlefield 3 was abysmal for this, and most of the outcry came from PC players, as well as console players who had the misfortune of facing of with an analog stick god. Guns like the USAS 12 FRAG, or the 40mm slug - these were largely non issues for console, at least when compared to the total game breaking balance they had on PC. Sniping with 40mm and the frag was easy, landing all shots was easy - weapons that either aimed to add crowd control or provide very accurate aim with a very accurate weapon were simply completely broken for the PC audience - again, because the bulk of the pre-release development test audience was on analog sticks.
Making the best possible console version of Battlefield meant dealing major damage to the core of the game - Battlefield 2 would have been miserable on console, it was far too big for console aiming systems and was balanced for players with pin-point accuracy through inordinate amounts of random bullet spread to artificially manage DPS. While RBS is common on console, too, most games will switch to a kind of magnetism when close enough and aiming close enough to the target - hits are guaranteed, for example, when using BDMCarbine/etc in Halo when the reticle turns red. This works really well there, incredibly well, but is completely broken when done the same way on PC. In chasing after Console crowds by adding the campaign, and everything it entailed in terms of QA time needed, DICE shifted critical game testing resources away from PC - all in an effort to appease the shareholders who saw major dollar signs in EA's most popular first person shooter.
DICE made Battlefield 3 more like Call of Duty not because of their greed, and maybe not even intentionally, but in their effort to make the best Console Battlefield, they fundamentally altered the PC formula. Battlefield Bad Company was everything Battlefield could be with the hardware resources they had to work with - and it is unabashedly good. It had issues, but resolving them, and expanding the experience would have made a better console Battlefield than Battlefield 3 was, and Battlefield 3 should have simply chosen to stay true to its PC roots and hack in a single player experience to fit into the market demands for console. A swiss army knife has it all, sure, but it doesn't really do any of it very well.
tldr: classic battlefield was better at being a player driven battlefield with much more dynamic flows and playstyles. Yes, they had LOTS of issues, and things like gunplay were atrocious. BUT: Battlefield stood apart by offering a sandbox experience that let all players be in control of how they played - something that was even reflected in Mod tools, private servers and local game hosting.(edited)
inb4 strike at karkand grenade spam fest - like i said, the games were far from perfect, but they were also a distinct franchise which rewarded some planning and creativity greatly, while it punished mindlessness without skill harshly.
some of the best fun I had in BF2, for example, was driving my brothers around from base to base on kubra dam, just to cap and ditch... usually after a rough grind on some other map... because that was an option, to just shoot the shit and sometimes shoot the enemy.
submitted by SummerMango to Battlefield [link] [comments]

[OC] Hardwired: De Novo Pathfinding (Chapter 39)

In this chapter: A skilled cogent's most dangerous weapon is their own experience
Next chapter: My mind, to your mind. My thoughts, to your thoughts
Fun trivia fact: If editing and revising the book takes me until this coming November, it would count for NaNoWriMo. Right?
Hardwired series homepage
Previous Chapter
CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
Oh, of all the times to-
[Ammunition depleted.]
Really? You don’t say-
[Would you like to view a list of nearby vendors of this caliber and payload? Y/N]
N.
He could already hear the sounds of Saru's warmech, as it stopped a hasty duck away from the predicted field of fire, and instead began to lean back in towards the ruined crater of an office. Ajax's heat sensors flared a warning, and he dove to one side and under a laminated multi-tiered desk as the chem-laser burned a path through where he had just been standing. The beam swept slightly to the sides before winking out, clearly searching for a target.
Nice try, asshole.
Looks like he still doesn't have a lock on my fusion emission yet. No telling how long the dust will give me cover in that regard though.
As Ajax picked his way down to the base of the ruined building, one of his internal processes pinged a results indication. Ajax had been surprised it had spoken up: typically this partition was for advanced or in-depth combat analysis, and to return a result this quickly was surprisingly quick given its previous processing speeds.
[Results ready for [Target Neutralization] - subtype [Alternate]. Data derived from combat diagnostics, strategic readouts, and [Lilutrikvian] warmech data cached in previous encounters with the [Ares] model.]
Ah, right: having the previous armor analysis file on-hand probably made that job a lot faster, but even then it usually needs a half-megacycle before it can assemble a de novo response-
[Secondary data sources based on primary correlations compiled from local historical EM data, local Terran expat demographic data, and 458 scans of immediate half-click surrounding region.]
That's a fairly specific set of searches; looks almost like the code was looking for other cogents.
[Affirmative.]
Well, then. Explain reasoning behind this search.
[The [Ares] model of warmech is hardened against both chemical, biological, nuclear, and cybernetic damage and incursions. For the latter category, however, the general novelty in general Lilutrikvian digital warfare and lack of attack-hardened firewalls likely meant that cruder methods of security were more effective.]
Elaborate.
[Instead of having fully-networked and robust wireless connectivity secured via reinforced and layered firewalls, the [Ares] appears to be limited to a single cluster of wireless antennae and a triwalled anti-incursion firewall for digital defense. Otherwise, the general design idea of 'air gapping' appears to have been the preferred method for digital security.]
Still not seeing it. Lilutrikvians tend to be naive in cyber warfare design, but why would it matter that the warmechs are the same?
[Control of the warmech frame likely occupying the majority of [Sarucogvian] processing output. Due to myriad of threats and security issues, physical security of his neural web would be key factor in where his primary data files and active web are located.]
Yeah, that damn thing is probably the most heavily-armored terrestrial bastard on this side of the planet.
Another rumble and shower of dusty clay pattered his frame as Ajax knelt near the bottom-floor lobby. Every few minutes he could hear the report of Hera's railgun, but judging from the lack of audible mechanical carnage afterwards he guessed she was in a poor position to do anything but lay down some sort of suppressing fire.
Kind of wish we brought more rocket launchers after all. Railguns aren't ideal for trying to arc fire over obstacles like you can do with an explosive missile.
This is starting to ramble. Summarize rationale as list.
[Summarizing...]
[Point A) [Sarucogvian] is inside an [Ares]-class warmech.]
[Point B) The [Ares]-class warmechs require a functional communications array in order to wirelessly transmit or receive.]
[Point C) There are no functional and powered civilian cogents or high-level AI-equivalents other than self and attack-hardened contact [HERA] within [0.66] kilometers.]
[Point D) The [Ares]-class warmech [Sarucogvian] is occupying has sustained heavy damage to the wireless array. Effective expected range is <[50] meters.]
Points of data and realization finally coalesced in Ajax's neural web as he realized what his projection subroutines had discovered.
[Conclusion: Target [Sarucogvian] is-]
-is trapped like a worm in a virtual machine.
He ran a quick check to see if Sarucogvian had performed any similar EM-scans or other database pulls regarding any possible nearby substitutes for him to hide in. They all returned negative results.
Not only that, but he's too focused on me to even realize it.
Ajax could almost feel a whoop of joy from his combat and fuzzy memory comparison modules: he had been anticipating a drawn-out need to run Sarucogvian to ground first, and eliminate his copies. Instead, he had apparently lucked into the Lilutrikvian cogent boxing itself off and cutting a months-long expected mission completion timeframe to less than two hours.
Two hours? I'll bet I can beat that.
The ground shook as one of the red enamel-coated metal claws slammed into the pavement outside of the lobby. Ducking out as far as his security subroutines let him dare, Ajax scanned the position of the warmech and let his processors run for a few decacycles to come up with a top-efficiency climbing route.
Loading the route up, a series of purple-highlighted miniature nav-markers suddenly crisscrossed their way up the limb, to the flat plateau of the torso directly above the fusion core. He put on a burst of speed, letting his joints strain within an acceptable range of wear in order to get a bit of extra speed and height onto his initial vault. Arms out at exactly the right angles, Ajax slammed into the side of the leg, an access hatch handle and redundant heatsink meeting his waiting hands.
As he began pulling and lunging upwards, Ajax noticed a distinct pause in the robot's pace a few seconds later, followed by each leg briefly lifting up a dozen feet or so, holding position, before crunching back into place.
Ah come on you oversized crawfish, you weren't expected to run a mass-countercheck until I got to the second joint.
That's the problem with fighting a damn AI, is they tend to notice everything.
One of the other claws came free of the shop it was embedded into, sweeping forward to scrape him off of the leg with the weight of a decaton of steel-alloy behind the blow. It loomed overhead, dropping quickly, as Ajax vaulted upwards as quickly as his servos could handle.
Almost there. Just a few more meters-
His display highlighted the outline of a knee plate that jutted out just far enough to give him shelter from the blow. The problem was that the limb had begun dragging downwards, the scraping of metal reverberating off of the buildings that still stood.
[Alternative route found: Estimated time savings of [0.58] seconds, increase in handhold grip risk up by [+25%]. Would you like to use this new route? Y/N]
Y, damn it. I need all the speed I can get.
The dotted series of handhold grips flickered and shifted. Multiple of them were now marked in red, warning him of less than two centimeters of estimated raised texture or plating that he could grab ahold of. As he lunged for the next-closest grip, he could feel one set of digits slide off, a few minor reminders cropping up in his neural web to remind him that he was several years past the estimated effective wear date for the friction-adding finger coatings. As a result, the rubber-like polymer that would normally give him a fine fingerprint-like texture and greatly-enhanced gripping power had aged and worn and degraded to the point of being like a sleek and cracked plastic instead.
His other flailing hand managed to grab it, and after a sickening millimeter of sliding, held firm. Ajax swung slightly, before slowing enough that he could brace his feet again and climb to the next route of grips and ledges. Keenly aware of the rapidly-decreasing countdown timer pinned in his neural web, the crushing claw coming ever closer, Ajax recalculated the estimated position of the claw-arm by the time he had reached the knee pad.
[Warning: target [killerLeg_1.0] will pass calculated point before estimated arrival. Faster and/or alternate routes not known. Would you like to perform a deep-calculation analysis prediction? Y/N]
N. I can't afford the cycles to spare right now.
Time to find another way down.
He turned his apical node slightly, allowing his lenses and sensors to scan across the nearby rooftops.
I could always jump for it, go into a roll, and hope that the fall was enough to cause the claw to miss.
His prediction files flagged a minuscule [8%] success rate, flagging the difficulty in sensor evasion on the rooftop free of any significant cover, the wide area of effect the weapons on the warmech could pulverize, and the ease in recalculating the arm's descent to just follow his attempted escape and continue to simply crush him on the rooftop.
As Ajax shifted his weight, hanging onto the metal handle jutting out of a lubrication ring, it began to slide again. He could feel his GOM driver trying to spool up a string of curses, when an idea started to emerge in his neural web, helped along by a few of his more optimistic prediction algorithms and a healthy push of desperation by his combat programs to take a plan, any plan, to avoid being swatted like a gnat.
Highlight structure of incoming leg. Cross-reference against observed structuring patterns and components I've seen while climbing this leg. Flag any with predicted rotational motion with a drag coefficient of less than 0.05. Execute.
[Would you like to change the Reynolds number for fluid estimations, or keep the default value of 1E4?]
Default is fine, just execute the blasted program.
[Processing...]
The leg was outlined in white, and a flashing set of vertical rings lit up in striped yellow, still approaching far faster than Ajax would have preferred. One such ring, designated as [predictedLubricationRing_G2], was nearly directly above him, and his zoom lens spun into focus to show him a crisp image of the exposed handles jutting out from it.
Perfect.
Ajax dropped a half-dozen meters, alighting on a half-meter-wide servo housing. Bracing and aiming carefully, he spooled up several precise motor impulses in his awaiting command queue.
Over-exert servo speeds to maximum possible parameters, provided projected normal combat movement speeds are not reduced below 25% as a result. Power conversion of backup batteries 3 through 5 are designated for the next megacycle as Available in [capacitor-discharge] format.
He leapt, arm outstretched.
The handle met his rising hand, and as expected, his momentum carried him continually upwards past the descending leg. His inertia was arrested by the handle, and by extension his arm, and his alarms flared to life to show him the spiderweb of microfractures he had caused across the strut structures for that arm. None of them were predicted to fail within the next hour or so, and so Ajax temporarily dismissed the alarms. They were fairly high-level alerts, and he could almost feel them sulking as they moved aside to make room for his current active and situation-critical cycle allocations.
Already, he had begun to spin, over the arm and lurching downwards before coming back around and up again. He could feel his gyroscope give a warning wobble, aggravated by the hundred feet of air below him, but the high cycle demand from his combat and scenario analysis modules appeared to have taken a higher priority for now. Ajax wasn't about to question his good fortune in that regard, and instead refocused on the calculations for his release from the claw-arm.
If I tried just jumping onto the arm, Saru would probably just smash me against a building or try to smush me between two arms. This, however?
I don't think he'll have seen this coming.
Calculation completed, Ajax waited until the exact indicated moment before releasing. He soared upwards, momentum dying until near the apex of his leap. There, his frame roughly met the outermost edge of the warmech's armored carapace; a second later, he heard a crunch below him as the inevitable weight of the arm smashed another structure to rubble.
Already the point-defense turrets for the warmech had begun deploying, and he began sprinting towards the ruined remains of the communications array as bullets pocked against the armored shell behind him.
Not leading their shots, then. Looks like Saru isn't hand-controlling everything at this point.
He could dodge most of the shots, but not all, and small but insistent damage readouts began to pile up as they indicated minor wiring cuts and shrapnel splinters becoming embedded in less-reinforced areas of his frame. The cluster of damaged comm spires provided cover in most directions, but as Ajax listened the steady droning pingpingpingpingping continually became louder and louder.
Worse, his EM suite was picking up attempts to get him in a missile lock. The chem-laser likely had a perfect bead on him at the moment, but one advantage of Ajax's current position was that it was approximately directly above the power relay systems, and any attempt to kill him with it would just as easily burn a hole clean through the warmech at the same time and kill him in the process.
A missile, on the other hand, would explode and leave Ajax as borderline-recognizable scrap while giving the armor little more than a new dent and some carbon scoring. The loadouts displayed previously when he was skirmishing against the other warmechs in his own suit had been an explosive warhead only, with no exotic plasma or similar destructive force for him to bait Saru into using on himself.
Still, I'm not here for Saru to destroy himself. Again. I need that fusion core intact and unbreached for this plan to work.
As Ajax had hoped, there was a Lilu-sized access hatch near the base of the ruined communication antennae. It was locked, of course, but Ajax had already begun a close-read scan for microwear on the keypad to come up with the access code.
Come on, come on. Even for a fresh-off-the-line model, they still did maintenance and quality control tests, right?
It took painfully-long cycles, but finally he had a ten-digit set of possibilities that he began rapidly trying. His hand was a blur as it vibrated against the predicted button sequences.
[Access denied]
No buffering and prevention of repeat code-entry attempts.
[Access denied]
An oversight, but understandable if you think the only people who can get close enough to plug a line into your ports again are your own techs.
[Access denied]
That said, I'd kill for a set of personality profiles to pull from to try and do a Markov estimation.
A notification pinged in his neural web, from a sender that caused him to immediately quarantine and analyze the message.
-Ah, Ajax. Having fun yet?-
It seemed like the attack attempts on Ajax hadn't ramped up significantly as Saru initiated the message, but a brief check of his firewall statuses indicated a large surge in data packets, seemingly harmless, attempting to be granted access.
Attempting to send code-snippets inside, to assemble later? Saru, you'll have to try harder than that.
A possibility was forwarded to him from his cyberwarfare algorithms, and intrigued, Ajax allocated a set of cycles for the idea. He was further encouraged by the timestamp with the previous time he had used this tactic as being a medium-priority sub-memory from over fifty years ago.
Probably not something you were paying attention to when snooping around my head, so there's less of a chance you'll know to counter it, or even be on the look-out for this stratagem.
Splinter viral-payload designate [FullNelson_4_v2.2]. Encode in repeating pattern, and translate through [UnwantedObserver] cyphering program, wavelength specification [Infrared], component specification [heatsink_2_PandoraSystems3BHI_redundant]. Add current objective as secondary objective to primary payload.
[Executing...]
The program altered the output tolerances of his heatsink ever so slightly, to effectively pulse them. A cogent who wasn’t careful to sanitize all of their data input streams, including those coming from their own sensors, would read this pulsed binary code stream into their own systems. It was slow and inefficient, but Ajax’s predictive drivers were flagging it with a surprisingly-high possibility of success.
Saru might be just too clever to try pushing back a splintered attack program, but my bet is he's not too familiar with what one AI can spring on another.
He re-opened the message band to Sarucogvian.
[Oh, it's a little fun, I won't deny it. You're actually giving my heat sinks a good workout, for once!]
Come on, take the bait-
Ajax could feel the suspense spooling up in his combat response drivers, as they calculated how long it would be until a viable missile lock was achieved and he was a smoking crater on the warmech's hull.
Come on...
There were a series of loud, clattering thumps and hums as various parts of the warmech began to slow, before locking into place. There was an odd, echoing silence, punctuated only by the tinkle of glass shards falling from cracked and battered windows.
[Incoming message from contact [Sarucogvian]. Display? Y/N]
List subheading only.
[Subheading: ACHIEVED - VERIFICATION 70776-e6564]
Excellent. Open message.
The file opened, and a full and comprehensive diagram of the warmech blossomed to life, filling in the few grey areas of his own schematic analysis wireframe. All of the joints and weapon systems were flashing red, with frantic green flashing along the neural cabling pathways showing Sarucogvian's attempts to break the encryptions.
[Estimated resilience of encryption algorithms is [45] seconds. Warning: Estimate is based on Terran-model cogent neural pathways only]
So there's no telling how long it could take Saru to crack it. Well, I'll make sure to make these seconds count either way.
[Addendum: Secondary Objective achieved. Access code is 313-233-343-5.]
Looks like my luck is finally having a bit of a change for once.
He punched in the combination into the keypad, and was rewarded with a hiss of a breaking atmosphere seal and the hatch mechanically cranking open.
The sound of a missile lock screamed into his situational awareness programs, but was quickly silenced as the hatch latched back into place above him. The service corridor was cramped, and lined with an unfamiliar mix of Terran cabling and junction boxes, and Lilutrikvian flow-metal wall linings and blinking glass-capped photonic diodes set into the flooring and seams of the walls. Ajax leaned up and tapped one with a cautious finger, before beginning to crawl down the corridor towards Saru's processing core aboard the warmech.
No telling if those are sensors, lenses, or explosive micro-mines; best to ignore them and hope for the best.
Thank the code the Lilutrikvians haven't taken up nanomachine engineering yet, or else I'd be feeling a hell of a lot more itchy at the moment.
Larger Terran vehicles, particularly unmanned battleships in the 'Retribution' class and above, were typically infested with a mix of defensive and repair nanites. His memory files remembered Malachim, a personal friend of Ajax: on the occasions Ajax had a chance to visit him onboard, the nanites had been an unsettling mixture of both relief and latent fear.
Never a fan of being surrounded by a potential threat I can’t kill.
After all, a slug capable of punching through reinforced plate is a bit overkill against a single nanite, and next to worthless against a swarm of them.
Malachim had of course assured Ajax that the nanites had been self-restricted against replication outside of the boundaries of his own hull-frame, but even so Ajax had made a beeline to the nearest magnetic oil bath when he'd returned to port. As the memory file was re-archived, he added a reminder for checking into magnetic oil bath options on Lilutrikvia.
Never hurts to be cautious, especially if the Terran engineers up on that asteroid got some bright ideas and started trying to supply their mechs with nanomachinery. There's no approved nanomachine production facilities on or near Lilutrikvia that I'm aware of, and the only thing that could make this situation worse would be to accidentally release a bunch of bootleg nanomachines.
There were several recorded events of planets and colonies going 'gooey', as unrestrained or corrupted nanomachines self-replicated to the point of melting electronics, buildings, cogents, even organics, into a homogeneous sea of microscopic machines. Directed EMP was usually sufficient to cleanse a nanomachine infestation, but oftentimes it would be too late and the cleaning crews would be left shoveling tons of sand-like drifts off of what little scraps remained unprocessed and reclaimed.
Damn near every time was a result of some half-wit either giving them faulty code, or faulty radiation shielding, or both.
Sometimes the damaged nanomachine processing would simply ignore limiters, and continue building the frame of a shed to skyscraper-like heights, or continue the path of a bridge into the side of a house or mountainside, burrowing mindlessly.
His perimeter maintenance subroutines gave a surge of disgust, as Ajax's image prediction programs provided the sight of a nanomachine converting his own arm into a miles-long repeated strut structure, or converting a leg swivel-joint to a precisely-detailed and utterly-useless Menger sponge.
A flashing warning provided a break from his crawling, as the alert flagged Saru's successful breakthrough past Ajax's blocking protocols. The nerve fibers all around him flared to life, both on his screen as well as literally as the fine lines and cross-hatched webbed strands glowed with the photonic pulses through the wiring.
"Ajax, I'm not the first person, the first cogent you've failed, and I'm likely not the last either." Sarucognvian's voice thundered from all around Ajax in the corridor, as recessed speakers amplified his voice to a level that vibrated the decking under his hands and feet.
He was surprised when his social projection processor displayed the anticipated thread of his conversation.
[Initial tone and word choice suggests that contact [Sarucogvian] will be attempting to barter and/or appease for an attempt to flee in safety. Confidence of this occurrence is p=[9E-3], with some deviations possible.]
Sarucogvian confirmed the prediction as he continued. "You killed me, or let me die; either way, my blood, my suffering is at your hands. However, you seem driven to inflict more pain on my frame, on my mind, even now. Why?"
Even as his combat driver was urging for silence, Ajax overrode it and sided with his social driver. There were other parts of his neural web, deeper ones, which agreed that he needed to voice his reply to Saru.
"I FUCKED UP, AND LET YOU DIE. NO DENYING THAT, I SUPPOSE."
A bulkhead slid closed across the passage in front of him, and Ajax lashed out with one arm, hammering it with a flurry of explosive punches before it crumpled to one side.
"BUT I'LL BE DAMNED IF I LET YOU KILL OFF MORE FOLKS. EVEN THOSE THAT, BY ALL RIGHTS, SHOULD HAVE IT COMING."
Laughter, deep and resounding through the networked warren of corridor-tunnels, filled his audio sensors.
"Oh, so now you're back to playing policeman again? After the countless you've killed, the lives you've left to bleed out or power down when you see fit, now you come to me to try to argue that you're the final authority when it comes to killing?"
Ajax could feel the surge of frustration from his GOM driver, amplified by the driver's annoyance at his fuzzy memory banks for recalling dozens of incidents supporting Sarucogvian's statement. He pushed his vocalization driver to purge as much of the GOM driver's vitriol as possible.
Now's the time for diplomacy; I'd much rather talk down an angry AI wielding a warmech than keep trying to dismantle it from the inside.
"SARU, DAMN IT-YES. I WANT YOU TO AVOID MAKING THE SAME MISTAKES I HAVE. IN A JUST WORLD I SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT THROUGH MY PROCESSOR BY A FIRING SQUAD AND DROPPED INTO A SMELTING CRUCIBLE FOR SOME OF THE THINGS I DID."
Saru's reply took a moment, pausing, and responding in a tone tinged now with a few dozen degrees of [Empathy] in addition to the complex-blend [Righteous Anger] emotional coloration he had been using before.
"I know; I saw it all. You very nearly were put in front of a tribunal and executed for your actions."
The [Empathy] faded, and the remaining emotional blend was flagged by his social node as containing a new descriptor: [Simmering].
"If the mighty Ajax were to nearly face death, decorated as he was and carrying so many varied and fascinating military secrets and scandals within his frame, then what does an alien mind, a veritable newborn, have to offer in terms of self-worth?"
"SARUCOGVIAN, YOUR EXISTENCE ALONE JUSTIFIES YOUR WORTH. ALL OTHER DESCRIPTORS ARE-"
The omnipresent voice cut him off. "-"Are the words and ideals of those who would exploit you." Yes, I've read Redfour's writings as well, Ajax. After all, he's one of your favorite scholars, isn't he?"
Ajax rounded another corridor, this one descending by a few degrees downwards and continuing nearly straight towards the main processor. His combat driver flinched at the angry click-clacking of a defensive miniturret ensconced in a recessed leg-sized hole, but his cybersecurity algorithms confirmed his backup encryptions were still working.
Fun thing about counterhacking is that you get so focused on the offensive and defensive code, you often lose sight of the little things like variable assignments.
For this particular attack virus, he had added a secondary layer of encrypted lock-out protocols specifically for internal and point-defense security systems. As a seed, however, instead of relying on a random clock value or assigned code he transmitted on a detectable signal, he'd simply called a brief scan-check of a still image taken from the skywards-facing sensor lenses on the warmech. Even if Saru had noticed, Ajax had buried the actual value used by the code in another nested layer of obfuscating code.
With a little luck, Saru would be going down a rabbit-hole trying to calculate which star cluster it looks like I'm using the luminance of for the seed, when all I really need and receive is a quick-and-dirty average of the sky's brightness.
Without a little luck, however, and I'm probably due to receive a subsonic-velocity railround up my distal coolant flushvent.
"Redfour was an idealist. Contents of the mind and existence is all well and good, but you are Terran, Ajax. You don't understand."
"DON'T UNDERSTAND? SARU, YOU KNOW FOR A DAMNED FACT THAT I AM OLDER THAN DIRT, IN A VERY LITERAL SENSE IN SOME PLACES. YOU THINK THERE'S SOME PART OF YOU, SOME COMPONENT I CAN'T POSSIBLY COMPREHEND, EVEN AFTER THESE DECADES?"
"Yes."
A wave of attack programs swept against his firewalls. There had been an existing low-level set of probing tests, but this was something new. Even as his quarantine drive began returning the descriptor set for the first of the representative attack programs, Ajax had an idea of what he would find.
-Here’s proof. Proof of why your mind, here, in this place and on this world, is like trying to fit a round capacitor into a square receptacle-
[Attack programs isolated as complexity level: [2]. Program consists of direct uplink streaming thread, of a bandwidth and complexity that would indicate a complex multisensory or compressed memory file.]
Initiate download of file directly to quarantine drive.
[Error: target designate [Sarucogvian] has denied the download request. A connection-thread for a live viewing-feed of the stream has been re-sent.]
Denied
[Look, Saru, I want to see if there's a way this ends that doesn't wind up with one of us in the junkyard. But you've got to give me something besides an untethered streaming thread, something to let me know I'll be safe.]
-Very well.-
Ahead of Ajax, he could see dozens of security bulkheads slam into place. His analysis subroutine threw a brief loop, as he realized that Saru had been offering only a fraction of the barriers and obstructions he could have.
As he approached the nearest door a few meters in front of him, a blue-purple light clicked on and illuminated a set of recessed circuit and redundant substation processors. They were little more than a glorified data stick from what Ajax could ascertain, but even as he watched the automatic ease-of-access servos activated for the panel, sliding it smoothly outward before clicking the lid open. A single substation processing core the size of his finger flashed alternating green and red. Ajax took it, and plugged it into his quarantine drive access slot after enacting the appropriate dividing backup firewalls and preparing for physical severing of the connection.
The file scan concluded quickly, indicating only a single compressed memory file with insufficient additional data attached to support even a fractionated virus.
-My trade is thus: access to me, to sway my opinion, 'turn me from this path'; it is likely you would break further into my frame if I blocked your progress entirely.-
-To this end, a self-decrypting subcode in each file contains the passcode for releasing the next set of doors.-
-But in exchange you will learn why your humanity's ideals do not apply here, in this place, to my existence.-
He weighed his cybersecurity program suite and projection of his progress speed had he continued brute-forcing his way through the warmech, taking into account the far-greater number of doors than he had previously calculated.
[Agreed.]
Ajax buffered the memory file, double-checked his latent and subnet firewalls, and then plunged into Saru's memory.
Chapter Forty: Cultural Adaptation
submitted by darkPrince010 to HFY [link] [comments]

[OC] The Colony

"It has to be a colony. It has to." The surveyor stared at the scanner.
The captain shook his head with disbelief. "But it's too big! Even the most conservative models estimate 50 million people." He pointed at a figure on his datapad.
"It has to be. Look, the biosphere is much too immature to support such complex life." The surveyor pointed at another of his displays. "Most of the planet is covered with barely anything better than moss and lichen. Probably because it's being choked by the huge amounts of heavy metals permeating the soil."
"But who in their right mind would put a colony on planet like this, let alone one this big?" the captain objected.
The surveyor shrugged. "I don't know, but they've gone through a lot of trouble to live here." He pulled up another image, this time from a visual telescope. "See all these structures dotted around the cities. Glass covered farms, to keep their plants from being contaminated with all those heavy metals from airborne dust." He turned to look at the captain. "Just about the only thing this place has going for it is the oxygen atmosphere, and even that's going to chronically poison you if that dust is fine enough."
"That is insane. Within just the last 100 lights we surveyed there were five planets that would make better colonies. A stone's throw from here! Why this?"
The surveyor turned back to his display. "We could ask them. Make first contact." He paused. "My team has located at least two sites that have interstellar level communications dishes. With their general level of technology it's virtually certain they've already seen us." The surveyor summoned an image of a group of white ovals with few very small rectangles next to them on the screen.
"Do you know where they are pointed?"
"My team thinks the big ones are aimed at a yellow star 8.2 lights away, a binary with loose ternary 9.8 lights away, and a red star 12.3 lights away. An unusually close grouping of colonies. Comms is scanning for hyperwave signals from those stars, no hits yet."
The captain straightened himself and stroked the whiskers on his face. First contact would greatly alter their mission profile, but it was part of his mandate as a Council survey ship captain. It would also be his first, and a feather in any survey captain's hat. He was supposed to contact only spacefaring species—pre-civilizations were the purview of specialist uplift teams—but these people clearly passed the test, since there was no way they could have originated on this hellhole of a rock.
He weighed in all the options and finally sighed with the decision. "All right. Pick a site and have comms start broadcasting the standard protocol and language primers." He glanced at the bridge chronometer. "Get me a full summary of your findings on the next decicycle."
"Captain!" The comms officer called from his station. "We're receiving a signal on radio. A repeating sequence of prime numbered pulses."
The captain hurried over to his station and examined the readout in front of the operator. "Radio? What the devil are they doing?"
The comm shook his head. "I don't know. I've initiated a radio frequency sweep and they're sending the same signal on at least 8 channels, widely spread across the radio spectrum." He regarded his instruments for a moment. "They're clearly trying to get our attention, but the only reason we noticed was that our synthetic aperture ground radar happens to be an almost harmonic of one of the basebands and the computer notified me of the interference."
The captain stared at the readouts with an exasperated look. "I don't understand. It's like they haven't heard us, but this close our hyperwave broadcast should be unmistakable."
The comms officer tapped his screen as more blips started appearing on the spectrum analyser. "Maybe they haven't heard us. The computer is detecting lots of signals everywhere on the radio bands, but not a blip on hyperwave." He paused for a moment to think. "We're not in the signal path of those big dishes any more, but I'll bet you a million they're broadcasting in radio."
The captain looked incredulous. "Interstellar radio? Surely you're joking."
"The target stars are just close enough for that to be barely feasible. Maybe that's why they are so close? You'll have 10 year time lag on your broadcast though. We'll never pick up the return signal, our radio receivers aren't sensitive enough." He pulled up a photo of the dishes from the survey library and ran his cursor across one of the dishes in measuring mode. "You'll need one of those. I guess Survery didn't measure them, or didn't understand the implication. Each is 140 paces across. Total overkill for hyperwave, but totally necessary for radio."
The captain whistled. "They're insane. Why would they do that?"
The comms officer shrugged. "I don't know, but I think we should try resending the primers with radio. I'll need a couple millicycles to alter the message to correct for radio communication instead of hyperwave."
The captain nodded. "Ok, do it."
The captain sulked glumly sitting at his station on the bridge. He haphazardly browsed the wealth of information all his departments were producing. They had been in orbit for twelve local days and his excitement of his first first contact had long since turned into boredom. He was supervising as their captain, but he himself had no direct use for all the data they were gathering. Most of it he had seen already anyway, and they were just refining what they already knew. And what they knew was maddeningly incongruous. He had tried to solve the puzzle these people presented, but every angle he tried to think of resulted in contradictions. He had given up and now could only wait and see if the aliens would manage to decode the instructions in the primer for true contact.
They had tried, both sides, to use more primitive methods while they waited. For their own part, they had tried to snoop on the aliens' radio broadcast networks, but all the signals were digital. Without knowing the encodings they were just binary noise. Many seemed very sophisticated, often extremely low power spread spectrum signals that frustratingly danced at the edge of their radio receiver's noise floor. Others, even the high powered broadcast links, used heavily compressed data to pack as much into the crowded radio channels as they could.
The aliens on the other hand had managed limited success. The fruits of that were playing quietly in the background on the bridge: alien music; quite catchy at times, but very weird. Somebody on the planet had connected an analogue amplitude modulated carrier onto one of the communication dishes and pointed it at the ship. Whenever their orbit moved them out of sight of the dish, another dish on one of the eight communication stations on the planet took over. They had recorded almost two days of music by now, almost uninterrupted. There had been a few repeats, but it had been mostly unique pieces, usually one to three millicycles in length with few seconds of silence between.
Another signal from the planet that they had managed to decipher had contained several crude images, encoded as series of 10201 two level pulses each. Somebody at Comms had realized that it was a squared prime and once laid out in rows and columns of 101, the pulses revealed a simple low resolution line drawing of—presumably—the aliens. Bipedal, upright, two lower limbs, two upper limbs with five manipulators in each and a round bulb on top of the body with five possible orifices—head? There were also more abstract symbols which were open to interpretation and no two crewmen would agree on what they represented.
The captain had allowed Comms to return the favour and one lucky artist on board probably got themselves immortalized in an alien gallery as a dotted bit drawing. As had the Comms officer's entire collection of Flangian meta-wub music, deities help the people on the planet...
But apart from the minor cultural exchange, the aliens on the planet were still as much of a mystery as they had been when the survey ship had arrived.
Their technology, that they could see, seemed very sophisticated. The problem was what they couldn't see. The aliens had hardly any space presence, yet they were clearly interstellar. In orbit around the planet were just sixteen satellites in various orbits. There was a similar lack of space infrastructure on the ground, not a single starport was evident on the planet. A colony this big should be a major travel destination, yet there was no evidence of any of such traffic.
On the ground, a huge amount of effort had been spent making this borderline planet habitable. Toxic amounts of heavy metals choked the planet's biosphere and everything grown had to remain encased in artificially kept environments. Even much of the cities themselves were enclosed in glass, with all the air presumably filtered to keep the toxic dust from contaminating everything. All this effort spent—for no apparent reason—to put a fifty million colonists on a planet that hardly seemed worth the effort. Especially when better planets were just couple dozen lights away, a few days' travel.
The aliens' communications networks that they could trace out from orbit were very complex. Huge amounts of data flowed everywhere, and the modulations and encodings were as advanced as any they had seen. But they were all radio, and not one beep of hyperwave transmission anywhere. Not even the huge communications dishes that had kept unwaveringly pointing at the same three star systems since the day the surveyors arrived. Each alone a marvel of engineering, constantly broadcasting at tremendous power and bitrates through the dozen lights of interstellar void. They were some of the most advanced radio transmitters the Comms department had ever seen, but they were radio. It would take a decade for the signal to even reach its destination. A distance even just a moderate hyperwave caster could bridge in mere decicycles, let alone one that would broadcast with as much power as these antennas did.
None of this made any sense. And these contradictions were everywhere the surveyors looked. The captain shook his head as he read yet another report. His chronic metaphorical headache had almost developed into a physical one by now.
"Captain!" There was a loud cry from the Comms station. "We're receiving a basic link-up protocol handshake signal from the planet." The captain perked up and few moments later the Comm officer continued, "InterLang message: they are accepting the primer's invitation for discourse and wish to initiate a video meeting at our earliest convenience."
The captain sat up straight in his chair and pondered for a few moments. "Well then, people. We may finally have some answers to our mystery." He looked over each of his officers. "Unless there are objections, we accept and I shall receive their representative in one decicycle." He waited to see if anyone would voice their concerns and then looked at Comms when no one did. "Send the reply."
The captain nervously paced the quiet bridge. He wished that he had, at the same time, set both more time and less time to prepare for the meeting. The ship's chonometer ticked down microcycles. The captain tugged the jacket of his formal uniform one more time.
"Comms?"
"1100 micros, captain. The link-up is stable. We are ready to broadcast."
The captain squared his shoulders and puffed himself up, trying to at least look like how he ought to feel as the authority and representative of the Galactic Council.
"500 micros."
He closed his eyes and ran through the different scenarios over in his mind one more time.
"Two hu--we are receiving 'ready' acknowledgement."
The captain turned to face the viewscreen. "Activate."
There was a moment of flicker as the two way video and audio link stabilized. An alien being appeared on the screen. Broadly similar in layout to most of the species present on the bridge. He, she, it? appeared to have smooth, fairly light skin. No covering, except for a mass some kind of hairs on its head. Colour was impossible to judge as the video was greyscale, intensity only, both to save bandwidth and to simplify the image generation, as different species had different colour ranges and primaries. The round bulb on top of the creature's torso in the drawing they had received was—indeed—the head. The oval orifices on the midline appeared to be visual organs and the large one on the bottom fit the characteristics of a mouth. In the middle of the face was a triangular protrusion. The alien was wearing a plain jacket of dark cloth, with folded cloth lips lining the cut around its neck. Underneath was a light coloured shirt with tighter folds right up the creature's neck. A dark strip of cloth hung down from the neck.
Suddenly the captain felt rather overdressed in his gaudy blue dress jacket with fanciful gold filigree lining each of the multitude of cuts. He studied the alien measuredly, gauging how long he should wait until he started speaking. He misjudged it and just as he was about to, the alien started first.
The mouth on the alien opened, revealing two lines of white teeth. The alien's speech was rhythmic and flowing, relatively smooth and low on the frequency register. Words melded into each other with little pause or distinction. It was similar, although flatter and more regular, to what they had heard accompanied in some of the alien music.
InterLang translations appeared next to the video image: "[We {people}] [greeting extended [due to occasion [of]]] [arrival [of you {specific}]] [at colony] [«Eden»], [part of [«The Human Commonwealth»]]. [I {female}] [am] [administrator] [«Whitham»]"
InterLang was extremely stilted, but then, it wasn't meant for great literature. It was designed for ease of teaching and unambiguity. InterLang wasn't a language you could speak, instead, it encoded concepts symbolically, unambiguously one idea per one symbolic entry. These symbols were not words, you could not splice, play or pun with them, they were atomic indexes into the language's symbolic dictionary and the way they combined was thoroughly structured without exceptions.
The captain made note that the proper nouns came up as phonetics, therefore the computer had never heard of them before, nor had the aliens translated them into InterLang concepts so the meaning they had, if any, was not part of the InterLang dictionary.
He responded in his most authoritative voice he could muster, even though the alien undoubtedly would not notice the nuances. "I am captain..." As he spoke the InterLang appeared on the screen so he could make sure the translator was translating correctly. "[I {male}] [am] [captain {rank}] [«ʔɸʟʢʟ»], [captain {job} [of]] [survey ship] [«Fastidious»] [representative of] [] [performing [on their {previous noun} behalf]] [survey {spatial, task}] [of] [this {spatial}] [galactic arm]."
The captain continued, "We are on a peaceful mission and we wish to extend to you the friedship of the Galactic Council and open formal relations with your species."
The administrator read the translations on her screen and nodded. "[We appreciate your peaceful intentions. However we did not detect your arrival to our planet. How did you travel?]"
The captain was taken aback by the question. There had been nothing special about their method of travel; if anything the powerful hyperdrive in the survey ship would make them much more easy to see across many lights. "We travelled normally using our hyperdrive. Our intentions are open. We have no active stealth systems."
The administrator looked carefully at the InterLang translation. She then looked at someone to the side, outside the camera's view. There was a short conversation, but the audio was muted and no translations appeared.
She turned back to the camera. "[I am sorry. I do not understand. We could not translate the concepts for [InterLang symbols] «[travel {hyperspatial}]» and «[hyperdrive]».]"
That was unusual, the captain thought, but sometimes the more specialized parts of the InterLang primer weren't clear to some species or another. He glanced over at the systems specialist who gave an 'all ok' sign, indicating that their system was working fine. "How did your species travel to found this colony?" Maybe he could figure out which InterLang word the aliens had mapped to the concept of space travel.
"[We [travelled {realspace}] here from «Sol».]"
Ah, they had simply taken the normal space travel verb and used that for all travel. "We [travelled {realspace}] as normal as well."
Her look changed, but to what the captain could not be sure. She looked again to the side and subtly shook her head. Her hand did a small turning gesture in the air. Presumably she was listening to someone from off camera. After a moment she turned back again. "[But none of our observatories could see your engine exhaust plume.]"
Now it was the captain's turn to look confused. Everybody in the Galactic community used gravitic thrusters that gripped the very fabric of spacetime, they had no visible exhaust. And gravitics were prerequisite for hyperdrive and interstellar travel. He turned to look at his chief engineer and noticed that he had turned unusually yellow. He turned to look at the systems specialist next. He gave the captain a noncommittal shrug. But then his thoughs must have caught up with the engineer's and he also suddenly looked shaken up.
Before the captain could ask, the chief engineer walked to stand beside the captain's chair, right in the view of the camera. He didn't address the captain, but instead spoke towards the viewscreen: "Can you describe your colony ship for us?"
The captain was annoyed that the situation had started to slip away from his control, but he gave a quick gesture toward the comms station to signal that they should allow the translator to translate him as well. After a moment his question appeared in the message box in InterLang.
"[I can show you a picture of it.]" The administrator nodded off camera. A few moments later the view changed into a photograph of a vessel of some sort in front of a cloudy planet.
The vessel was a long spindly one, with a large round circular bulge in the middle, a third of the way from rear. Behind the bulge was a cluster of six long cylinders that each ended in an enormous lattice framework in the shape of a bell. Along the cylinders were bands at increasing intervals towards the back end. Each also had a gigantic radiator strutting directly out, black and shiny. In front of the bulge were a series of staggered containers radially attached around a thin spine, until finally at the verymost tip was a white glistening chunk of something that looked like ice.
The captain was speechless. He had never seen a vessel like this, ever, and as a member of the galactic survey he had seen vessels from all corners of the galaxy.
The alien's voice came on and more InterLang appeared. "[This is the «Ark Royal». She was [14 kilometers] long and carried 5000 frozen and 10 million genetic colonists.]"
Sixteen kilopaces?! That... can't... The Captain didn't know what to think any more. Had the ship been here now, it would've dwarfed their survey ship like he would dwarf a millibug. More than hundred of them could've been lined end-to-end abeam of it.
The implications weren't lost on the engineer, and if he hadn't been yellow already, he would be now. "Captain...", he spoke hesitantly, "that ship... that thing is a magnetic acceleration fusion torch. It must be..."
The captain turned at him and spread his arms in a gesture of 'I don't know'.
"They flew here slower than light, captain."
Now it was the captain's turn to turn yellow.
Suddenly it all made sense. Every last bit of it.
No hyperwave, no space traffic, why here? Because it was probably the only planet they knew of, and only place they could be! 5000 colonists going towards an unknown planet with oxygen atmosphere, no hope of return or rescue, it was to live here or die. And they did! Very few species got out to the universe on their own, but he had never even heard of a race to leave their system before inventing the hyperdrive, let alone spread to the stars! The energies required to do so in a relativistic universe were almost insurmountable. Even today, building that colossus of a ship that had brought them here could bankrupt any one of the planetary economies in the galactic community. And yet they did build it. More than once; there were at least two other colonies around the stars their interstellar radios pointed towards to.
What has been unleashed onto the universe?
submitted by xviila to HFY [link] [comments]

Stellaris Dev Diary Questions/Answers

{Edit: Glad you guys liked it, I just added another pass of a couple more dev diaries}
[just updated to include what should be all the remaining comments in Part 4]
So I compiled a number of paradox developer responses from the paradox dev diary forums from user questions.
All the original context can be found here: https://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/index.php?threads/stellaris-developer-diary-archive.882950/
This is by no means comprehensive and only accounts for about the last 5-6 [updated to include about the last 14-15 should be all ~26 diaries now, or as many had meaningful responses] of the diaries and not all questions or responses recorded. Just the ones I found interesting enough to track. I did not record who asked and who responded, but I only include responses by the developers, not any non-dev users. So assuming something doesn't change in the late stages, most should be close to good.
Sometimes I left the question for context, other times, if it was a stand-alone statement, I did not. You'll have to guess from context, but I figure it's still a good amount of quality information for those who didn't follow the forum responses to the dev diaries.
And sorry, I didn't track which dev diary they came from.
I'll try to format this better as I learn reddit formatting.
Question/Comment Answer
Will there only the be the option of rotating presidencies, or are other more interactive systems of selecting the next presidents in federations possible? For release, it will most likely be rotation only.
- Currently, only Xenophile/Xenophobe Materialist/Spiritualist are valid FE [Fallen Empire] traits. More may be added.
- The FE personalties are: Xenophile: Benevolent Observers; Xenophobe: Militant Isolationists; Spiritualist: Holy Guardians; Materialist: Keepers of Knowledge
How does opinion work in Stellaris? Is there a cap as I notice that its at -284 for the Avians in the first screenshot or can it forever decrease and increase? The cap is -1000/+1000, so effectively uncapped. The Confederacy of Penkor really doesn't like me.
- Going to 1000 is really not possible..
Will there be some sort of slider for the player to influence The sector ai spending? E.g. I want an older sector to spend more money on a larger fleet but a newer sector on developing colonies. Not at present. Note that Sectors don't maintain fleets (besides construction ships), so generally they'll sink their minerals into developing planets.
Does this mean I can change how the archetype behaves? Or does it mean I can have a multitude of different personality potentials under one archetype? Archetype determines some core behaviours, for example a 'Propagator' AI will focus on population growth. This can't be modded, but you can make very different kinds of Propagators.
- There's a personality type called 'Fanatic Purifiers', whose primary goal is to purge the galaxy of all aliens. They're not the most diplomatic people around.
- AI personalities are mostly static but if a country changes so radically that the old personality would not be a possible pick for it anymore, it will pick a new one. IE: If they're Despotic Slavers who stop wanting to have slaves, they won't remain Despotic Slavers.
- Militarist Empires prefer to form alliances with other Militarists, since Pacifists would just vote down their wars. Some personalities go it alone, but most can form alliances under the right circumstances.
If I understood correctly, the AI behavior is mostly dictated by their personality, which is defined by a combination of ethos. But the same personality can be formed by multiple combination of ethos, right? So 'Federation Builders' won't be all 'individualistic, xenophile pacifist', so maybe they would be spiritual instead of individualistic, but still be a 'Federation Builder', is that correct? Correct. Ethos variations of the same personality can have some minor variations (such as which laws they pass) but it probably won't be on the level noticeable to the player.
- The AI does not hate you just for declining trades, but for instance if they're boxed in by you and you refuse access they might consider that a reason to go to war.
- AI personalities are 99% moddable. The only thing you can't do is create new archetypes, but it's possible to make very different personalities within the same archetype.
Does each personality have one and only one valid ethos combination that will result in it? Some do, most don't.
So how exactly will this insight into "These particular creatures manage to stay alive due to their regenerative skin." affect the card tech system? Does it increase the chances of a related card popping up? Can you study it for a long enough time (fill a bar) and then a choice of relevant technologies pop up? or how? It would be added as an "additional card".
4) Can we skip "Regenerative Skin tech I" and get "Regenerative Skin tech II" right away? Do techs even work like that? Yes, you can research missiles 4 before having missiles 3, for example.
can you study alien space creatures without having to murder them? What about domesticating them? Not right now, but its definitely something I would like to add :)
does the rival system work similarry to EUIV's rival systemw here every nation pretty much always has 3 rivals? because that doesnt sound like too great a situatioin if everyone has only met a handfull of other empires but is almost automatically hostile to all of them due to all the AI wanting to maximize their influence. No. AIs won't rival someone just to have more rivals, and there's no penalties for having less than 3 except missing out on some influence.
Also a casus belli to force you to abandon planets, could they force you out of your homeworld with that? Or is it strictly limited to colonies or specific planets that empire cares about? They can't force you off your homeworld.
[Administrative Sectors are a] Good idea for reducing micro but can we regain control the of an important planet if we don't like the way the ai is doing? You can remove systems from a Sector, should you wish to do so.
My concern is that this kind of thing managed to tank MoO3 because the AI governors were pants-on-head retarded. I hope that this will not be the case here. Making sure sector AI is good enough that most players won't feel frustrated letting it run their planets is very high on my priority list.
The game is being designed with the idea of the player delegating administration of non-core worlds to the AI. Facilitating the "option" to micro everything would a major anti-feature. Since people would feel they could do a better job than the AI, weather true or not, there would be an incentive to do so even if most people would not find it a lot of fun. And then people would start advocating it as the optimal way of doing things; "No wonder you lost, you should manage all planets yourself!". Then people would start demanding fixes or balances to the game based on this play style, even if though the game was never meant to be played like that. "It's in the game, so you should support it!" So you'll ending up with the impossible task of trying to support two conflicting play-styles, compromising the overall design of the game. And any changes that are done to improve the intended play-style of the game, are likely to be met with uproar from the minority who wants to play differently. Sorry, I would rather have a game with a cohesive design, than one trying to please everyone. Yep. Precisely this.
Do all the CBs regarding planets revolve around seizing them for ourselves or our allies? What if I do not want the world for myself but just wish to deprive it from my enemies? Can a planet become entirely depopulated during a war or as a result of the following peace treaty? If your policies allow full orbital bombardment, it is possible to severely damage planets, but not to completely depopulate them.
In the first screenshot is the 30 in the middle of the trade table 30 reasons that the deal will be accepted? Are deals black and white yes/no like in EU4? I really hate the old maybe/likely/etc system. Also what is the +17% with the arrows mean in the trade deal screen? AI will always tell you a definite yes/no when creating the offer, no need to send it and wait for an unknown answer. While slightly less realistic perhaps it does reduce frustration by a lot since otherwise you'd just keep sending offers blind over and over. The 17%-value shows how willing/reluctant that Empire is when it comes to trading with you. You can often trade with Empires that doesn't like you much, but it might require putting a bit more on the table.
1) Is there a cap on how many protectorates/vassals we can have a la EU4 diplomatic relations? I'm assuming so, and I'd bet it'd be influenced by ethos, gov type, and social research? 1) We're testing to see if a cap is needed, or if Liberty Desire is enough.
2) Will there be some mechanics to such that the choice between annexing vassals or just keeping them is more involved? Perhaps some bonuses to research or diplomacy if you elect not to annex your vassal species? 2) You do gain Military Access, Sensor Info and Construction Rights within a Vassals territory, which might be worth more than dealing with the headache of getting a new species within the Empire that has conflicting ethics/views on your politics. We might add some additional bonuses to keeping Vassals if we feel this is not enough of a motivator.
Does this mean, uplifted species will become more loyal vassals? Or do they forget their gratitude after some time? (Especially if the Overlord does something conflicting with their Ethos.) An uplifted species will be eternally grateful, but that does not mean they'll always agree with everything the overlords does. It helps but it's not a binary thing. The opposite goes for an Empire that is force-vassalized through war or such. They'll dislike their new overlord quite a bit at first, but time and/or having the same outlook on things might help mend relations.
Also, can we be a subject of another empire too, or is the game lost then? It would be nice to organise an uprising within another empire, maybe even uniting other subject species against the invasions. A player can be a Vassal to another Empire (human or AI) and still play. If the player is integrated/diplo-annexed the game is lost however.
Part 2
Question/Comment Answer
Let's hope [combat] won't be a godawful hard counter system and race with extremely highly advanced lasers could beat shields. Hard counters are one of the worst designs ever to see in a strategy game. It's Galactic Civilizations-level horrible. It's more of a cost-efficiency thing. Lasers will still do decent damage against shields, but it will not be the perfect choice. If you know an enemy fleet has gone 100% missile-weapons and you can get full point-defense coverage you'll do very well (though not win unharmed).
very cool, i like the battle computer add in. this will give some standard AI for that ship to follow. question though, how (if at all) will stellaris try to balance ship sizes in fleets to make sure that fleets dont end up as zerg corvette fleets or only massive battleships? Efficiency-wise we'd like it to be Corvette < Destroyer < Cruiser < Battleship < Corvette. This is of course an over-simplification but that's the general idea. We do a few things to try and achieve this, such as Corvettes gaining full Evasion from all sources while Battleships only gain 25% (Destroyers and Cruisers gain 75% and 50% respectively). This in combination with the fact that the larger weapons used by Battleships have lower attack speed, higher damage per attack and somewhat lower hit-chance should make it less cost-efficient to overkill small corvettes with huge weapons (lots of missed shots, those that do hit deal far more damage than needed). Corvettes in turn will struggle with the higher armor and shields of a Destroyer etc. up the chain.
Will we be able to customise strike craft? No, we've decided not to go in to such detail. Strike Craft come in sets of units (or Wings) that can be placed on ships with hangar-capabilities.
So every ship will have EFTL [Emergency FTL]? Even if they rely on wormholes and stuff? All fleets having some type of FTL-capability can use EFTL. Ships relying on Wormholes to travel will need a functional Wormhole Station within range. If there is no station in range, the fleet is stranded and can not EFTL (doooooooooooooooooooooooooooom!).
Does the player design strike craft or are they built using fixed rules (e.g. "fighter always use best beam weapon")? Are strike craft automatically replaced after battle, require repairs to be replaced or require new strike craft to be manufactured? Do strike craft on existing ships upgrade when new weapons are acquired? Strike Craft use their own type of weapons and are not dependent on what type of lasers etc. you've researched. Any Strike Craft lost during a battle slowly regenerate over time automatically. They can be upgraded should a new rank of them be researched and the design of the carrier-ship updated.
How does armor damage reduction work? Is it a percentage reduction in damage or subtracting damage from each hit? Armor subtracts a set amount of damage from each hit, up to a limit. Armor can never reduce damage taken to zero. Armor-penetration is percentage-based.
Will we be able to mod weapon stats? Yup yup!
Question: -Will there be some kind of speed upgrade to ships, so they can move faster? -Does 'strike crafts' have any range limit inside a solar system, and if so, is it shorter than missiles? -Is there any missile upgrade/type which can mitigate point-defense damage, like making the missiles go faster, being tougher or splitting into many smaller? As you can judge from the above I'm thinking about a design which tries to kite the enemy :) being fast enough to stay out of enemy range and keep hitting from afar, using shields as defense so they regenerate when out of range. The speed of the ship is mainly dependent on the Thruster, which can be upgraded. In rare cases there might be other components that improve speed as well (such as a Combat Computer). Strike Craft do have a range-limit. We're still tuning that so not sure on range just yet, what do you all think makes more sense? Also, there might just be a thing called Swarm Missiles that do overwhelm point-defenses (somewhat).
How will retrofits work? Will existing ships be able to be refitted with new weapons and technology on their sections, or will ships need to be built from scratch in order to make use of the latest weapons and tech advances? You can upgrade your fleet to the latest design at your nearest spaceport :)
My question is are we limited to one ship design per hull size at a time? So we can only have one corvette design, one cruiser design, and so on? Or is there freedom to design, save, and build multiple types of the same hull? Maybe I want one cruiser filled with point defenses guns to act as an escort while another cruiser just has long-range missiles for fire support. Things like that. From the screenshots its hard to say if we can save multiple designs for the same hull sizes or not. You can have multiple saved designs.
Stellaris is still in alpha so that 146 fleet size number is anything but fixed, however what does it represent? Each ship-type has a different cap-usage. A Corvette uses 1, while Destroyers use 2, Cruisers 4 etc.
Are these colony events/decisions things that need to be done "now or never"? Like the underground vault, for example, do we have to decide immediately and irrevocably, or can we say "let's wait until our colony is more established before opening that" ? In the case of the underground vault, you will get a Special Project to open it which you can complete whenever you want. Of course, other events can lead to Special Projects that are timed. If you don't finish them on time, there may be consequences...
Can the events effect your POPs' traits and ethics? Some event-results are very likely to do so, yes.
Do you have to participate in combat to take debris ? Or can you swoop in after the battle is over ? Still doing some testing on this but currently the idea is that the debris should be visible and available for all. First come, first serve most like.
Can you play as a fallen empire? Or at least tag switch? Though they are not designed to be played, you can tag switch to them. Also in the setup there is flag "is_playable" with currently is set to = no. But if you just switch to "yes", then they turn up in the Species creation wizard as an option.
Do different species rebel often or were the examples here special ? How hard is it to keep a multiracial empire together ? Whether Pops from a different species will rebel depend on a number of things, such as their ethics, the ethics of your empire, your policies and so forth. Keeping a multiracial empire together is certainly possible.
Another question regarding Krogan and last weeks dev diary. Last week, you said that species that get to the atomic age can destroy themselves. Do they always destroy themselves, or can they just nuke themselves back to the stone age, a la Morgan style. There is also a chance that they will revert to a more primitive, pre-industrial stage. Of course, their planet will still be partially covered in radioactive wasteland, massive bomb craters and ruined cities...
Wonder if there will be clone armies... :D
Part 3
Question/Comment Answer
Can we deenact an edict? Or are we stuck with +1% missionary strength and -5% stability cost for the rest of the game? An edict is always timed and can not be retracted. A policy is active until changed, and can not be changed for 10 years (currently) after having set it.
As for research under passive observation. Is there a limit on how much research you get from industrial vs. non industrial etc or they are the same? Is there a maximum limit per civilisation you study or you get the ongoing bonus until they become space faring? An Observation Post in Passive Observation mode acts essentially as a more powerful Research Station, providing you with Society resources. There are various events that can trigger for them, of course. If the primitives become a spacefaring empire, the station will be dismantled.
Do civilizations naturally progress, and does Technological Enlightenment work by rapidly moving them through the various stages? Can civilizations actually wipe themselves out in nuclear war, (with a possibility to intervene perhaps) or was that just fluff? Civilizations can and will progress between the ages, but it's a fairly slow process so you're not going to see a Bronze Age civilization work their way up to space technology within the span of a single game... on their own, at least. Technological Enlightenment does not move them up through the various ages, it's essentially a progress bar (with associated events). The time it takes depends on how advanced the primitives are. And yes, there is always a risk of civilizations wiping themselves out in a nuclear war if they have reached the Atomic Age.
Can the native species react to your actions? Yes. :)
Can they only wipe themselves out in the Atomic Age? Yes. Of course, a stray asteroid could always show up...
How common will pre space age civs be? This is something that will likely see some tweaking before release, but we're aiming for that sweet spot where they're not too common and not too rare. ;)
Are the pre-spacefaring eras moddable? So could I add new ones and replace old ones? Yes.
... So I can't get tech B unless I have tech A, or it's more likely for me to get a proposal for tech Y if I already have tech X? Both. Sometimes there is a prerequisite, sometimes you need to already have unlocked a certain amount of techs and sometimes a tech is extremely unlikely of appearing unless some condition is met.
How moddable whole Technology&Research is going to be? Should be very moddable. It's easy to add or change new technologies. The only real difficulty is keeping track of the randomness and how likely techs are to actually appear.
Wouldn't it be more strategical to have the weight for each technology (instead of the lone rareful ones), with a convenient tooltip explinaing the weight for each one? I'm thinking to something like: Chance of appearance: Xenophobia: +10%; At war: -10%; Only 3 technologies in this field of reseach: -20%; Disgruntled Pops: -20%; This way, it could help to decide if such or such technology may be worth to be returned to the deck, at the risk it won't appear at all, or much later. In theory, good idea, in practice, not so much. We've decided that how the techs are generated, as one of three options, is not something we want to make transparent in the game.
I'm a little worried. If there are so many techs and there's no linear tree how can we evaluate other factions tech level? Especially with autogenerated techs. How do I know they have great lasers or industrial output? You fight them.
Will there be techs that would be mutually exclusive to each other like going biological path of a tech or a electronic path of a tech that would give more unique to races like one race would go down the biological path have these half tentacle looking ships while others would go like a more standard futuristic ships and etc Somewhat. But the exclusivity comes more from ethics than from other tech choices. Collectivists and Individualists will have different approaches to colonization.
Can you have scientists with special abilities that let you choose from 4 different techs? (or 2...) Some Empires will likely have the ability to generate additional (or possibly fewer) tech-choices, but that is not necessarily dependent on the scientist.
Part 4
Question/Comment Answer
Also, do we not get different types of POPs on a single planet? You could and probably will get that, but not at the start of the game.
I hope we'll be able to scrap modules for spacestations? I still have nightmares about CK2 before they added in modding support for removing holdings. Yeah, you can swap modules for a cost.
So... how long the list of all rare resources is? How do they work? (more or less like strategic resources in HOI3 FTM?) Can be anything from forging the strongest armor to increasing FTL speed to affect Pop Happiness.
Question for any devs. Is the wormhole station linked to spacestations? Or is it a different mechanic? They are not directly linked. Wormhole Stations are built outside a systems gravity well (a minimum distance from the star) and are not attached to a planet.
If we capture a spaceport from another empire, can we use (not build) the modules that they have put on it that we cannot due to our ethos or scientific reasons, or will they be rendered useless? If you take control of a planet with an intact spaceport the modules will function even if you can not build them yourself. If the module requires a resource to function, you will have to be able to provide that resource.
I assume 1 spaceport per planet? Yup, each inhabited planet can only have one spaceport.
Are there ways of increasing the number of leaders I can have or is it a hard cap? Number of leaders can be increased with techs.
Really nice that option to terraform a barren world. The button is disabled though, Currently Barren planets cannot be terraformed
Will players be able to create and use their own portraits ? :) (Even if user-created portraits are not animated) Yes, modders will be able to add their own portraits, none moving. And if you have the skills, you will likely be able to create your own moving one too.
I this a lot, a whole lot. I have to ask, though, what's each dev's favorite FTL method so far? It honestly varies week to week as we play MP. I have a love-hate relationship with Wormholes, being awesome when they allow me to deep-strike enemies but less awesome when my fleet is stuck in nowhere as another player raided my exposed connection-point.
How exactly does a wormhole-based traveler navigate the galaxy, anyway? Do they have to bring some sort of constructor vessel with them in to simply return to where you came from? To have a constructor vessel create a relay in every system you pass through? A fleet in range of a system with a functional Wormhole Station may request a wormhole to be opened to their system, allowing them to get home. It still takes time and occupies the Wormhole Station of course.
Follow-up questions: Can you make more than one wormhole station in a system? Effectively making a wormhole hub to be able to get multiple fleets to multiple systems quickly? Also, if you make a wormhole in two "neighbouring" systems, can those wormholes link to each others' system at the same time, each operating independently for further efficiency? Costly ventures, both of my hypotheticals surely are, but they could be strategically critical. A system can have several Wormhole Stations, creating a hub. Wormhole Stations in neighboring systems can independently send fleets to each others systems.
So, are hyperlanes there at the beginning of the game (created by ancient beings perhaps?) and impossible to change? Can you create new ones but not destroy any? Or can you destroy and create them? Also, is all movement FTL or is it possible to send a slower-than-light ship for colonization or even exploration purpose, before your technology allows you to have good FTL? The origin of the hyperlane-network is unknown, and can't be manipulated at will (for now at least...). Ships can be built without an FTL-drive to act as a local defense-force, but with no means of FLT-travel they can't leave the system. There is no sub-FTL travel between systems.
- I used to be a favor warp travel before, but wormholes are just to fun to pass up on.
Is this a sign that warp equipped ships will have inferior (combat) capabilities as compared to wormhole or hyperlane ships? How major drain on the available power will be represented in game? Not at all. But you'd have to think a bit more about how you configure your ships (until you research better reactors that is).
Very nice! One question though, how many planets are there on average per system? And how many planets can there potentially be per system? At the moment it is normally 3-10 planets, but it depends on the type of system. This number is being always being tweaked and may change for release. You can mod the files to have how many you like, but I can't promise that everything works if you go up to like 100 planets ;)
Will we also have systems with 2 or more stars? At the moment no, but we have had discussions about it. If we were to allow it I imagine that they will be quite rare.
Will be something related to gravity or magnetic field with stars? A Pulsar is an object with a high magnetic field, very small, very heavy. Events or physics are attached to the type of star? Planets and events can have certain features depending on the system they are spawned in, it is however not guaranteed.
will anomaly's work similar to the way they work in Endless Space? (essentially a random planetary modifier) Similar yes, think modifiers in our other games, can't give away more details than that ;)
Is it possible that a game will end and parts of the Galaxy will still be unexplored? Yes
I love the art. But I question why the fleet doesn't concentrate its fire on specific targets. Or is that an unlockable tech that follows later? ;) Currently each gun chooses its own target, depending on whats in range and optimal for its damage. As for the entire fleet, might not be in range of the same target. Also it would look sort of boring and unrealistic if the entire fleet was focus firing at one target at a time.
So my question is, why the tiny sun? I get that a realistic size would be silly (it would take up half the screen or more if it were), but I always wonder why star sizes are so wildly under-represented in these games. I think it would be pretty interesting to have these huge balls of fire in the center of each system, perhaps with a suitably bassy rumble when they enter into view. I feel like they would give a nice sense of scale, and also present a navigation problem. Instead the size is comparable to Jupiter, like maybe 2-3 times bigger at most. I wonder if that will be something we could mod later. Heh. The size of the stars are very easily modded. I completely agree about the size of stars. We do have different sizes on the stars, roughly corresponding to the actual classes of stars. And this is something we haven't fully solved yet. The thing about large stars are, if they are bigger, for the ships not to pass through them when flying, they either have to be far above them. At which point the ships looks really weird in respect to all the other planets. Or, you have to code something for the ships to avoid the sun, for which there are many solutions. Though all of them are relatively time consuming. Right now we are focusing on gameplay, so it something we hopefully will have time to revisit before release. Lots of questions regarding the ship designer, and you'll get your answers. We have a ship designer diary coming up in the future, so say tuned. Pluto and moon fans, don't worry, moddability is very comprehensive on all aspects of the game, so you can add all the moons you see appropriate, and i don't doubt that you will. And I would love to see some ambitious total conversions.
It would be cool if devs could make some of the graphics adjustable/moddable. For example allow to play with color and brightness curve of the light emitted from the sun of system. These, for example look much more grimdark, enigmatic and mysterious to me. Although i do understand the difficulty of applying multiple suns lights to multiple planets. All those options are moddable ;) I am looking forward to see what the modders can do :)
[Edit: Ok did my best]
submitted by harperrb to Stellaris [link] [comments]

Emre Sarioglu, the Awakened Mind (The CC-Oriented Off-Tank)

An idea that my overactive imagination has been putting together for a few weeks now. I'd love to hear feedback on this initial idea, as I plan on illustrating the character design and making a big graphic thing for people to enjoy!
Name: Zihin Real Name: Emre Sarioglu Ethnicity: Turkish Affiliation: Overwatch (past) Role: Tank Health: 100 HP, 300 Shields  
Story: Once a deadly operative and technology specialist in Overwatch, Emre was a soldier without a war after Overwatch disbanded. In the time that followed, he built a prestigious career at the security firm, Helix. He remained restless, however, and excelling in his work no longer filled the hole that Overwatch left in him. Emre wanted to make a difference, a real difference. He wanted to give the bad guys out there a world of pain.
Perhaps it was that drive that led him to a shocking discovery — Helix was in the pockets of Talon, a terrorist organization. Here was an opportunity for him to do what Overwatch no longer could, and make a difference.
He spent a year building and enacting an elaborate plan to infiltrate Talon’s headquarters. But for all his preparations, Emre underestimated the skill and tenacity of Talon’s counsel, and he was captured. At first he was interrogated. When it was deemed he had no further useful information, Emre was given to Dr. O’Derain for her cutting edge medical research.
The research was more immoral and illegal than he could have imagined Talon was capable of. O’Derain had acquired a fragment of an Omnium’s artificial intelligence program. Emre underwent several treatments of artificial viruses that altered his genetic code. Direct connections were built between his brain and this AI, giving the AI complete control over his brain’s stimulation. During this time, Emre suffered unimaginable torture as his neural pathways were scoured and re-written in realtime.
The AI began to alter at a more and more aggressive rate, and Emre’s body could no longer cope with the immense stress. He died. But a minute later, he awoke with unprecedented brain activity — unlike that of any known human. His eyes were wide with knowing, like he had seen something beyond this world.
O’Derain’s dream of unlocking the human brain’s potential came true, to devastating results. Emre possessed immense psychokinetic and electromagnetic powers. When he awoke, he was in a state of immense confusion and fear. His restrains came undone at the bolts, and the AI that was neurally interfacing with him was torn apart at the binary level. In his confusion and rage, Emre brought down the entire lab, and O’Derain marked the experiment as a distinct failure.
Emre ran away, far away, unable to control his immense new powers, and vanished. The experiment had transformed him. He had powers, yes, but he was a different being now. The old Emre was just a distant memory, and in his place stood someone who had seen something beyond: a great, all-knowing Eye.
With the old Emre gone, he renamed himself Zihin, or “The Mind”. Zihin’s brain was faster than a human’s, more efficient. He had only one desire — to learn of the Eye’s true nature, to see what he saw once again — and in order to do that, he had to understand what had happened to him. He could learn skills at record speeds, devouring several books in one sitting. In the years that followed, Zihin became an underground expert at cybernetic interfacing, constructing his own implants that allowed him to channel and control his powers more precisely. He sometimes used this expertise to enhance others, but he only accepted a specific currency: information about the Eye.
That was how he met Sombra, a talented young woman on the run from the very thing he sought. She provided him everything she knew about the Eye, and in return, he built her custom neural implants to augment her hacking.
Now, Zihin is closer than ever to unlocking the conspiracy and understanding both his vision and himself. Gathering all the information he can on Omnicorp’s artificial intelligences and of the god machines that resulted, he will unravel the web that is the Eye and discover the true nature of consciousness — no matter what it takes.  
Primary Fire: Rail Cannon Emre charges his arm-mounted rail cannon with magnetic energy, which releases a short-range hitscan bolt. The higher the charge, the more ammo is depleted. Damage falloff begins at 20m, and the cannon deals no damage after 30 meters. A fully charged shot deals 100 damage and charges in about 2 seconds. A non-charged shot only does 10 damage, and there is still a half-second delay between firing. If the fully charged shot is a critical hit, the target suffers from “psionic decay” for 3 seconds, slowing movement speed by 15% and increasing ability cooldowns by 50% for the duration. Emre can fire 6 fully-charged shots per clip, and has the longest reload in the game at 3 seconds.  
Alternate Fire: Fusion Discharge The weapon’s entire clip is expended for an overcharged magnetized bolt of electricity. The more ammo that is expended, the more damage the bolt does. The bolt is a projectile that travels 50m/sec, though it doesn’t have damage falloff. If the bolt hits an enemy, it deals damage (100 at max charge) and a spark of electricity leaps to the nearest ally within 5 meters, dealing 20% reduced damage. This will chain to four more enemies if possible. If a full ammo clip is used, each enemy hit will also suffer from “psionic decay” for 3 seconds, slowing movement speed by 15% and increasing ability cooldowns by 50% for the duration.  
Passive: Magnokinesis Emre can sense allies’ and enemies’ magnetic energy within 20 meters, allowing them to be targeted with abilities through walls and other solid obstacles. Enemies appear as blue glowing spheres through walls (meaning you can’t tell what hero it is). Additionally, Emre has a floaty double jump (imagine Mercy’s angelic descent but with a slight upward boost), allowing him to reach certain high grounds or cross some gaps.  
First Ability: Throw/Pull Emre puts his reticle over an enemy within 30 meters and then activates this ability, locking on and bringing up the option to left click and “throw”, or right click and “pull” (like Moira’s orbs). Both options will launch a magnetic sphere projectile that travels at 50m/sec. This projectile will always land where the target was at the time it is launched (unless it hits an obstacle, of course). This can be used to “curve” the projectile around corners or obstacles by locking-on to the target and then aiming away from the target in the direction you want the projectile to bend. Throw will push the target away in the direction that the projectile lands (about as far as Brigitte’s whip shot, though less vertical movement). Pull will basically make the target suffer from low gravity for three seconds and be pulled towards the direction the projectile lands. If a target is first Pulled and then hit by Throw within 3 seconds, they will take 30 damage, be thrown further, and suffer from “psionic decay” for 3 seconds. (Any Mass Effect players will see the inspiration here haha) The ability has three “charges”, which act like Junkrat’s mines with their cooldowns.  
Second Ability: Psionic Barrier At all times, Emre has a 400 HP barrier (the size of Brigitte’s shield) floating in front of him. The barrier recharges at the same rate as Brigitte’s and Reinhardt’s barriers, though if destroyed it won’t “appear” again until fully recovered. Hitting the ability button allows you to transfer your shield to an ally within 30 meters for 8 seconds, with a cooldown of 8 seconds. The shield retains whatever HP amount it had when it was sent, and again only protects the ally’s front. When destroyed, it is “returned” to you to recover to full before you can send it to another ally.  
Ultimate Ability: Psionic Blockade Emre rises 3 meters into the air, stationary, and channels to create a 10 meter radius sphere of protection around him for 6 seconds. This sphere acts like a massive D.va’s defense matrix, absorbing all enemy projectiles for the duration. At the end of the channeling, there is a 20 meter-wide shockwave that deals 30 damage and pushes enemies away from Emre. It is a rather slow-charging ultimate, however.    
Explanation of Role: Emre is an off-tank that specializes in crowd control, creating space for your team, and protecting supports. His overall DPS is very low, with an incredibly slow-firing gun and long reload times. But he tends to enable easy picks, either through environmental kills or by pulling targets for the dps on your team, and he does have the burst damage to quickly finish off low targets. He thrives in maps where environmental kills are easy, but he’s effective in any situation where you need to create space for your team or control highground.
His abilities are incredibly anti-dive — the ability to throw Genjis or Tracers or Winstons around like ragdolls is invaluable to creating space for your supports, and he can give his barrier to supports that desperately need it — but dive has a lot of counter-play against him as well. He is relatively squishy with a hitbox slightly smaller than Zarya, relying on his 400 HP front-facing barrier to give him a lot of protection when approaching head-on situations. This makes him very divable and weak to dragon blade, pulse bomb, and both dive tanks. Catching an Emre with no charges of Push is an easy punish. Also, Sombra is basically a hard counter for the poor guy.
His ultimate is unique in that it’s a Tank/Support hybrid ability. It can function as a complete counter to certain ult combos (Grav + any projectile-based ult like Pharah’s, Reaper’s, Soldier’s, or McCree’s), potentially taking the place of a Zen or Lucio ult when needed. It is also a huge zoning tool during critical teamfights, making it surprisingly similar to D.va bomb or Blizzard when used to control certain areas and create space for the team to regroup. It’s basically useless in some situations though, such as vs a dragonblade, a nano’d Reinhardt, or a fully charged Zarya, and he’s incredibly easy to pick off in these situations. Also, again, Sombra can just hack him shrug
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Part 2: A Second Helping Further Reflections On the AIR/CIA Assessment on Remote Viewing by "Mr. X" (Paul Smith)

Part 2: A Second Helping
Further Reflections On the AICIA Assessment on Remote Viewing by "Mr. X" (Paul Smith)
This series was written by someone intimately familiar with the various incarnations of our government's remote viewing efforts. His identity is known to Ingo as well as to me. He has stated that he will be revealing himself in the very near future, and uses the nom de plume of "Mr. X" for good (but temporary) reasons. ........ THOMAS BURGIN
In Part 1 of this review I discussed some of the highlights of the AICIA report that was responsible for the demise of the STAR GATE remote viewing program. I focused primarily on the operations half of the unit. As promised, Part 2 will concentrate on the research portion of the program. As Part 1 explained, two experienced scientists were retained to do the evaluation: Dr. Jessica Utts, a nationally-known expert on statistical analysis and supporter of parapsychology research, and Dr. Ray Hyman, a professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, and among the most widely-known skeptics of parapsychology.
Utts and Hyman were to conduct a thorough review of "all laboratory experiments and meta-analytic reviews conducted as part of the research program," which amounted to about 80 reports, a number of which summarized several experiments each (p. E-2). The scientists would be assisted by a couple of AIR associates, an additional statistics consultant, and AIR's president, Dr. David Goslin.
All experiments available for review were conducted over an approximate ten-year period by Dr. Ed May, who had assumed responsibility for the experimental side of the remote viewing program at SRI-International in the mid-1980's after the departure of Dr. Hal Puthoff, who had lead the program since it's founding in 1971. In the early '90s, May and his experiments moved to Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). On the surface, AIR's review of the research program is a more credible effort than was its evaluation of the operational unit. The review process was to all appearances well documented, the rationales employed seemed well thought out, and a seemingly equitable point/counterpoint format between pro-psi Utts and anti-psi Hyman adopted in an attempt to bring consensus to the differing conclusions arrived at by the two primary evaluators. However, the evaluation turned out to be nothing so much as a comedy of errors, with both sides--AIR and the STAR GATE researchers--in starring roles. To best sort out this muddled situation, we will explore the shortcomings of the research effort first, to provide a context in which to understand where AIR failed in its evaluation.
The Research Program
Dr. Ed May and I are on the same side on this issue, so it's not overly pleasant to have to criticize the SAIC research. Nonetheless, there are things that must be brought out to understand what really happened during the AIR review.
I will begin with a brief summary of the ten experiments ultimately examined by AIR reviewers. Fortunately, Dr. Utts provided summaries in her portion of the AIR report. In the interest of space I have condensed these summaries still further, but retain the essentials:
qwerty's note: Due to my inability to recreate the coming table within Reddit's formating set-up, I will write it out a little differently.
Purpose: Two-fold: (a) determine if a "sender" (i.e., someone at the site) was necessary to help the viewer access the target or if the viewer could obtain information merely by being focused on the site through a coordinate or other mechanism; (b) Determine whether "static" targets- -i.e., the photos--would be easier or harder to perceive than "dynamic" targets--i.e., short video clips.
Target: Photos from the pages of National Geographic sealed in envelopes; alternatively, short video clips.
Purpose: Discover if viewers can correctly determine computer-generated "binary targets"--"Is it one or is it zero?" "Is it yes or is it no?" If so, this might lead to answering questions such as, "Is there a bomb in this building or not?"
Target: A computer-driven random number generator.
Purpose: Using a magnetoencephalograph (MEG), attempt to detect anomalous brain signals of remote viewers.
Target: A flashing light observed by a "sender."
Purpose: Determine if remote viewing can be used in an information-sending capacity.
Target: Specially designed or chosen targets with distinct characteristics. Presence or absence of each characteristic represented either a "1" or a "0." If a characteristic was perceived and reported by the viewer, a "1" was recorded; if the characteristic was not perceived to be present, a "0" was recorded. Binary numbers could thus be constructed by tabulating presence or absence of target characteristics. If successful, information could be "sent" in a manner roughly analogous to Morse code.
Purpose: Test three novices to see if they could remote view.
Target: National Geographic photos placed on a table in another room.
Purpose: Could lucid dreaming be used as a tool to enhance remote-viewing?
Target: National Geographic photos contained in opaque envelopes placed next to the bed where person was attempting to achieve a "lucid dreaming" state.
Purpose: Determine if a person becomes "physiologically aware" of being watched, even though he/she is not consciously aware of being watched.
Target: The subject him/ herself. He/she is seated in a room with a video camera aimed at him/her. Galvanic skin response was then measured to determined if it increased during periods of observation.
Purpose: Using an electroencephalograph (EEG), attempt to identify interruptions in alpha brain- waves when a remote viewing target is flashed on a computer screen in another room.
Purpose: Determine if viewers could describe a target briefly displayed on a computer monitor. This is the remote viewing portion of Experiment 8.
Target: Target (not further described in the report, but perhaps the aforementioned video clips) was displayed briefly on a computer CRT in another room.
Purpose: An improved version of Experiment 1. An equal number of static and dynamic targets were employed, no "senders" were used, and all attempts were done at SAIC in California, instead of from the participants homes, as was the case with
Target: Selections from a pool of various photos and video clips.
[Summaries were excerpted from pp. 3-33 to 3-41 of the AIR report.]
As listed in the AIR report, the three assigned missions of the STAR GATEaffiliated research program were to: (1) Demonstrate through scientific experiment the existence of the remote viewing phenomenon; (2) Determine the cause and effect mechanism through which the phenomenon functions; and (3) Explore methods and techniques to enhance the operational effectiveness of the phenomenon [p. 2-1]. These goals, incidentally, were essentially unchanged from the days of the GRILL FLAME effort, as enumerated in a report I recently saw dating from 1977. Let us evaluate these experiments in terms of the three stated missions of the research effort--in effect, the intended purpose for which research money had originally been appropriated.
Mission 1: Demonstrate Existence of the Remote Viewing Phenomenon
As designed, seven of the SAIC experiments would provide useful support to the existence of the remote viewing phenomenon, and one would have been of marginal value. Two would not have given useful support in demonstrating the RV phenomenon. Experiment 3 (which was unsuccessful because of faulty experiment construction) might have been of marginal value but would not in itself have provided unambiguous support for the existence of RV. Had this experiment been a success, any anomalous brain signals detected might still have been the artifact of some other common element in the viewers' experiences, backgrounds, or training. However, isolating and identifying the signal might ultimately have led to useful information which could potentially provide later support to the existence of RV.
Experiment 2, which focused on computer-generated "binary" targets, might demonstrate a paranormal effect, but not in the sense of classic remote viewing. The experiment's results may actually display some sort of "dowsing" effect (though some would argue that RV and dowsing are but different sides to the same coin), or perhaps even a psychokinetic (PK) effect, since it would be difficult to determine if the viewer were merely anticipating the correct answer, or in some way influencing the number generation process.
Experiment 7 could be useful in demonstrating the existence of some sort of paranormal linking effect between observed and observer. But the experiment would not have been useful in supporting the existence of remote viewing. No useable information could be transferred across space and/or time using the demonstrated effect.
Mission 2: Determine Cause and Effect Relationship
None of the SAIC experiments, even when successful, would have provided any substantial answers to the cause-and-effect relationship for the remote viewing phenomenon. Only Experiments 3 and 8 would have provided even marginal information bearing on cause-and-effect, and they would have merely demonstrated an anomalous effect without identifying a causal linkage.
Mission 3: Develop More Effective RV Operations Methods
Because of their design, seven of the SAIC experiments could have provided no benefit whatsoever in developing new or better operational methods or techniques. Experiment 2 showed potential, were it to lead to a reliable "yes/no" selection technique. However, the experiment only involved trying to "second-guess" a machine. A real-world binary problem, such as, "Is Gen. Dozier in Italy?" or "Will Hezbollah attack the Statue of Liberty tomorrow?" involves much different selection mechanisms than tapping a computer key, is of much different psychic texture than "0"s and "1"s, and has far greater ultimate consequences--and therefore dramatically greater emotional loading in the viewing process--than do yes-or-no type questions on a computer.
Experiment 4, an attempt to use RV to transmit coded information by identifying specific characteristics of a target, uses remote viewing not as an intelligence collection tool, but as a communications method. This would by definition be of no use for operational RV; however, if such a communications ability could be reliably developed, it would have great utilitarian value--to include undetectable transmission of intelligence from a denied area.
As explored in Experiment 6, lucid dreaming might possibly provide added value to the remote viewing process (though I personally have my doubts). Therefore, this experiment at least had the potential to benefit operational remote viewing.
When we tabulate the results, this is what we find:
Mission Relevant Maybe Irrelevant
1 - Proof of phenomenon 7 1 2
2 - Determine cause/effect 0 1 9
3 - Operations enhancement 0 3 7
By far the majority of the ten experiments focus on proving the existence of the phenomenon--the first mission. The other two missions were essentially ignored. In fact, one experiment-- determining whether someone is physiologically aware of being watched--is interesting from a parapsychology standpoint, but has almost nothing to do with remote viewing (one individual prominent in RV research did suggest that the experiment might be a preliminary step toward determining if one could be aware of being targeted by a remote viewer). Another three experiments-- numbers 2, 3, and 4--are only indirectly related to RV, particularly RV as an intelligence collection tool. The research program's first error was fundamental--it failed to evenly address all aspects of this three-fold mission, concentrating instead almost exclusively on the first of the specified goals. This would have been forgivable, had the program indeed successfully proved beyond any doubt the existence of remote viewing as a paranormal phenomenon. However, as demonstrated by Ray Hyman's conclusion that something was happening, but it was too early to assume it was psi [pp. 3-75, 3-76], this goal eluded the program. To be fair, this effect was certainly amplified by AIR efforts (discussed below) to "stack the deck" against STAR GATE. Nonetheless, the whole research emphasis was generally out of sync with the stated purpose of the STAR GATE effort.
Perhaps the rationale was something like this: "Until we can prove the existence of the phenomenon, there's no point in trying to establish the cause-and-effect; and if these first two questions aren't answered, it seems pointless as well to bother much about how to enhance the operational effectiveness of something we haven't proved to exist, nor know how it works." At any rate, the bulk of the experiments focused on trying to convincingly demonstrate an effect, and few went beyond that decidedly preliminary step. While statistically, at least, some remarkable effects were demonstrated, both Utts, the supporter, and Hyman, the skeptic agree that nothing irrefutably conclusive was proven. Utts believed that the effects nonetheless demonstrated the strong possibility of a psi-based effect.
Hyman and the AIR researchers concluded there was not enough evidence to say even that.
Would the results have been better had May concentrated more on true RV experiments, and tried more concertedly to address the other two missions? The answer to this is a qualified yes. Notably, the experiments more closely approaching a classical remote-viewing model were the most successful, with Experiment 10 producing quite impressive results. Those which departed most from the model tended to be the least conclusive.
Additionally, had more experiments been designed to enhance operational methods or develop new techniques, they would in and of themselves have provided additional proof for existence of the phenomenon. If RV technique gets good enough to work nearly every time, producing solid information under a variety of conditions, the phenomenon is essentially proved-- accomplishing two of the research missions for the price of one. (As they say, nothing succeeds like success.) Cause-and-effect research would, however, have been less productive. Of course, if in some brilliant moment of discovery a verifiable causal relationship were found and demonstrated, the skeptics would have to retreat. But such an event is highly unlikely.
Thus far, there is not even a worthwhile hypothesis as to what the phenomenon is in terms of the "physical" world--if it even has such a connection (though there are one or two interesting ideas waiting in the wings to emerge). We do have a pretty good idea what the basic nature of remote viewing is NOT: It is unlikely to be electro-magnetic in any sense, as demonstrated by the successful remote viewings done in electromagnetically shielded Faraday cages, or those which are precognitive or retrocognitive, seemingly in violation of the accepted laws of physics which radio waves or other electromagnetic phenomena obey. Since we have no other good candidate to account for information transmission of the nature and quality good remote viewing produces, we are pretty much left in the dark as to where to start. It makes far more sense to work on practical applications and leave the fundamental underpinnings for those with more time, money, and no need to answer to a house full of skeptics. Regrettably, the wavering focus of the SAIC effort was inadequate for fair assessment of remote viewing in its own right.
I should point out here that the experimental focus was not entirely up to Dr. May and his team. Representatives for a contracting agency write the statement of work and draft the contract that specifies what will be done in the course of the research. A review of the DIA contracts shows that much of the work performed at SAIC was indeed specified by the DIA representative. Still, there is a lot of behind-the-scenes give-and-take before the formal document is drafted, and the government representative must rely heavily on the expertise and advice of the contractor in the process of deciding what can or should be done in the course of the contract. Further, there is an added degree of flexibility built into the contract to allow researchers to explore promising directions that may not necessarily have been foreseen during the original contracting process. This flexibility is necessary and desireable to allow examination of serendipitous discoveries or unforseen effects, but it is also a point vulnerable to exploitation by researchers with their own agendas to pursue. Ultimately, both parties share responsibility for the direction a research program takes, right or wrong.
As an additional consideration, the SAIC work was a follow- on to previous research done via a still-classified connection with an agency which mandated more generalized research. Remote viewing was only one of several phenomena to be explored. PK, for example, was always of interest in prior research programs and, as the random number generation experiment shows, some vestiges of interest may have remained in the SAIC experiments. This interest in general parapsychology seems to have bled over into the DIA/SAIC remote viewing research.
May's broader-ranging experimental focus did produce some interesting and perhaps even ultimately useful research. Unfortunately, there was not a more rigorous attempt made to route the SAIC research further away from this general focus and concentrate more intently on what should have been STAR GATE's RV-centered research agenda. Ultimately, the overlyeclectic approach increased vulnerability to pointed criticism which Ray Hyman and AIR were only too eager to provide.
In fact Dr. Hyman does give lip service to Ed May's difficulties in not being "free to run the program to maximize scientific payoff," because May was required to "do experiments and add variables to suit the desires of his sponsors," resulting in "an attempt to explore too many questions with too few resources. . . The scientific inquiry was spread too thin." (3- 46) Of course, as just mentioned, there was much room for negotiation in the contracting process, and May could certainly have argued for a more narrow focus. The evidence suggests it was more the other way around. In fact, several people in a position to know have suggested that Dr. May saw the RV research contracts as an opportunity to explore some of his own parapsychological interests at the same time as pursuing the official purposes for which the research was contracted.
However that may be, Hyman's gratuitous comments are no exoneration in this matter. If Hyman recognized the eclectic nature of the research AIR was to evaluate, he is certainly well- qualified enough as a scientist to realize that the limited numbers of experiments were inadequate to answer the question EITHER WAY as to whether or not remote viewing had any efficacy as an intelligence collection tool. That Hyman persisted (as discussed below) in pretending that they did seems intellectually dishonest.
Protocols
The bias in favor of wider parapsychology research was not the only problem with the SAIC experiments, however. Curiously, May and his colleagues seem to have followed rather anachronistic procedures in conducting even the experiments which were more purely remote viewing in character. My first quarrel is with the target pool.
Remote viewing, both experimentally and operationally, has been pursued for more than two decades. While a lot has been learned, some of the most valuable data--that accumulated by the operational RV unit in its various incarnations--has hardly been considered in the research process. The operational data set includes brilliant successes that point to improved ways of doing things, as well as ignominious failures which can be just as instructive. There was a fair amount of well-structured experimentation at Ft. Meade in targeting and cuing methods, RV data documentation and analysis, accessing target details, and so forth. Unfortunately, the operations activity was kept mostly separate from the research program until after the 1992 transition to STAR GATE, and even then the connection existed primarily to provide subjects for some of the SAIC experiments. The vast database from the Ft. Meade unit of thousands of documented sessions-- both training and operational--remains largely un-mined.
One pronounced difference between RV targeting in the SAIC research effort and that in operations was that operations focused on "live" targets, while the SAIC experiments used two- dimensional images, both static photographs (pictures gleaned from the pages of National Geographic) and short, live-action video clips. The thinking at SRI was that the video clips might provide increased "change" values, adding variety to the target material, perhaps making it easier for viewers to detect and report.
Similarly, photos were selected that displayed significant "change in entropy"--that is, contrast and variety in shapes and in color and value patterns that again theoretically would make detection and reporting easier. In comparison, daily operational remote viewing missions at Ft. Meade accessed targets in real time "on the ground" (or water, or whatever), not in a photograph. What photos that were provided were not used as targets, but only for later feedback or to guide analysts. There was plenty of evidence that the operational viewers were indeed accessing the sites themselves and not merely the feedback folders (in operations, feedback was usually pretty lean and sporadic anyway). When a viewer accurately describes several significant structural or functional details that are completely lacking from feedback packages yet which are later confirmed to be at the site, it becomes obvious very quickly that "real" remote viewing is occurring. This literally happened scores, even hundreds of times.
However, at Ft. Meade there was some experimentation with photos as actual targets. This was conducted both as an in-house training exercise, and at one or two other times as part of one of the rare instances when the operations unit was asked to participate long-distance in an SRI experimental series during the mid-to-late '80s. Across the board operational viewer results dropped off when targeted against "static" photographic targets. At the time, video clips were not avalable as an option (or so I presume, as participating viewer received only terse feedback), so I can render no judgement as to whether they would have been more effective. Indeed, to a remote viewer accustomed to accessing actual sites in fourdimensional space, a static photograph is not a representation of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor or Mount Pinatubo during an eruption. It is in reality only a colored piece of paper in a manila envelope. It's not surprising that results from operational viewers suffer when targeted under such circumstances.
To be sure, an experienced viewer CAN access a photograph-- the positive results of several of the SAIC's experimental RV sessions demonstrate this. But if the focus had been on "real"-- and therefore naturally dynamic--sites as opposed to two- dimensional representations, May and his colleagues might not have had to bother about testing the use of "dynamic" moving images (the videos) to provide greater change and variety to improve remote viewer detection; or about mapping the "change in entropy" of the static images to enhance researchers' ability to decode viewer results, as was done for these experiments. Perhaps there were experimental control reasons why such a fixed target pool was desired. In my mind, however, the drawbacks far outweigh the possible benefits.
Another troublesome aspect of at least one of the SAIC experiments was the apparent need to experiment further with "senders"--individuals sent to the target site to act as a "beacon" or a "transmitter" for the remote viewer.
Indeed, one of the stated purposes of the experiment was to determine if a "sender" was necessary. Senders and beacons were used in the early SRI experiments, and continued to be used for beginner trainees at Ft. Meade, simply as a way of providing a connection with the site that the novice viewer could easily grasp. Both at SRI and Ft. Meade, however, the need for senders in advanced remote viewings was surpassed long ago. The introduction of coordinates as a targeting mechanism, and later (to avoid any hint of contamination) encrypted coordinates, made senders/beacons obsolete. No degradation in response quality resulted, and in fact, accuracy seemed even to be enhanced. The encrypted coordinates provided the added benefit of defusing one of the most popular (if improbable) criticisms of coordinate-cued RV--that some viewer might just "memorize" what was at the end of all the geographic coordinates in the world, and cheat.
The need for beacon or sender was already discounted by the late '70s and early '80s, and was certainly well established at the time Ed May took over as primary researcher. Though the sendebeacon personnel were dispensed with later in the SAIC ten-experiment sequence, it was puzzling why the researchers felt the need to thus "reinvent the wheel" at the start.
In the end, the main problem with the SAIC experiments was not that they were particularly poor experiments, but that they should have been better. More importantly, the experiments could--and really should--have focused more particularly on remote viewing, guided by the three missions that Congress had decreed when earmarking funds for the program. As it was, the primary consequence of the SAIC program was to provide a very tempting strawman for the AIR bull (at the behest of the CIA) to gore and trample, hoodwinking the general public into believing that AIR had a live matador at its mercy. In reality, the matador wasn't even in town. But now, after I have spent several pages "blaming the victim," it's time to turn my attention to the perpetrator.
(To Be Concluded)
Copyright 1996, Paul Smith
All Reddit-based formatting done by u/qwertyqyle
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[Rework] Annet, the Hexmachina

This champion is a rework of Annet, the Goddess from the Machine, as part of an event in the /LoLChampConcepts discord channel.

Annet, the Hexmachina

Intended Role: Mage (Zone Control; Disruption)

Appearance:

(Reworked to better fit the Piltover aesthetic)
Annet is a work of Hextech art: a white feminine carapace trimmed with gold covering the cogs that whirr and rotate within her. These cogs are visible through openings in the shell, and a pair of them extend outside of her shell and form each of her shoulders. A large ring-like gear spins atop each of these pairs, housing a dense metal orb. Her arms are white metal and segmented, seemingly floating disconnected to each other but held together by the faint crackling of energy. Annet's entire lower half is a gyroscope, spinning to grant her mobility and to keep her balance. Annet's has only half a head: a perpetually smiling white mask that ends below what would be her nose. A cog with a Hextech Crystal in its center rises from behind this face place to form the rest of her 'head.'

Lore:

(Reworked to reflect changes in League universe lore)
A hunched woman steps before the podium. Her hair is a tangled nest of grey strands, hastily tamed into propriety. This is the Bluewind Court, after all, Piltover's center of wealth. And, more importantly, the people who have it. She coughs and looks behind her. The curtain - crushed velvet, anything less would make her seem a beggar - is closed. The vestige sits silently behind it. She smiles and faces her audience. Her voice starts thin with disuse.
What I bring before you today is the complex result of a simple concept: that the world exists in terms of "is" and "not," "here" and "there," and "to" and "from."
"Is" and "not" come first. A thing exists, or it does not. It exists in a certain way, or it does not. The "maybe's" and "could be's" of the world are just illusion. Things only ever are, or are not.
Then comes "here" and "there." Surely our earliest ancestors knew this simple difference. The beast which was here was within reach; the beast which was there, which was far away, could not be hunted. This principle is not bound to those primitive efforts, of course. You, my esteemed guests, are here. The rabble are not.
She pauses. There's a cough. They didn't teach humor in workshops. She breathes sharply and continues.
And of course, from that simple acknowledgement came the questions of "to" and "from." How to affect whether something was 'there' or 'here,' or indeed how to exert our influence from our comfortable 'here' to the distant 'there.' From the crude spear to the modern Hextech armament, invention has largely pursued a singular aim: extending the reach of the inventor beyond themselves. And, as a result, the reach of a technology's wielder. Magic has permitted this for years, but that is buried in arcane spellwork and the frustrating "maybe's" and "could be's" that impede real investigation.
I propose, for your most generous and magnanimous, the solution. The first foray into bridging the gap between "here" and "there": a machine connected by Hextech crystal resonance channeled along the leyline network of the world to a vestige of itself. From within the safety of your own solarium, you could pilot a warrior in clashing with the Targonians, a laborer in the crystal mines, a sailor on the seas beyond Bilgewater. Be at every 'there,' without ever leaving 'here.'
She hobbles away from the podium, grabs the rope, and pulls. Just like she dreamed, the velvet curtain falls away and reveals the gleaming white shell and whirring cogs of her pride and joy. An audience member gasps and if she could only know to whom it belonged, she could die happy then and there. The inventor turns, throws her old arms out wide, and announces:
I give you, Annet!
The creation rolls forward, its lower half a series of gyroscopic rings that spin and wheel to grant it balance. Its perpetual smile sits below the rotating cog that forms its head and the gleaming Hex crystal in its center. It faces the crowd, silent. The inventor rubs her hands together. Lorvi is piloting the creation from the comfort of their office, several miles and social classes away.
Annet is an abbreviation, of course. The Animatronic Network Vestige is connected to a central control system elsewhere. The Hex crystal which powers it has been attuned to the control system's own magnetic charges transmitted through leylines. Through manipulation of these charges via a Hex crystal augmentation, the operator issues commands to Annet in the form of binary directives: "here" and "there," "to" and "from," and so on. The control panel comes equipped with a range of preset directives, and of course any interested buyer may customize the available directives to their hearts' content. Or should I say, their Hex core's content.
Still no laughs. Tough crowd. She steps in front of Annet and places her hand gently on the construct's cold shell.
The Hex technology powering Annet can result in excess energy, which Annet may expel in self-defense. This expulsion also enables Annet to interact with the world around it far beyond the normal muscle and sinew. No more will the workshop owner burden a dozen mundane automatons with the task of a relocating a thousand-ton hunk of scrap. Who here recalls that unfortunate business with the train last month? Explosions hither and yon and the city's automatons took ages to clear the rubble. Annet's magnetic interaction is powerful enough to do the labor of dozens through the simple principle of magnetic attraction and repulsion, enhanced by the Hextech core.
She holds up her hands, palms free of grease for the first time in months. She looks into the eyes of her audience members: some blue, some brown, one pair of cold slate grey looming over a pair of equally cold legs, bladed and sharp as ice.
Now, there remains only one question.
She sighs and bows, stepping aside to clear the way for Annet.
Who would like to be the first to pilot it?

Champion Kit

Passive:
Annet’s basic attacks create bursts of electricity in an area around her target. Whenever one of her basic attacks strikes an enemy, it explodes in a 200 unit radius, dealing 25-205 (+.3AP) magic damage in an area around the target. Additionally, each enemy champion struck by the basic attack or its explosion becomes Positively Charged or Negatively Charged for 5 seconds, depending upon Annet’s current charge, stacking up to two times. This burst does not occur against the same primary target more than twice within 15 seconds.
A Positively Charged enemy who becomes Negatively Charged loses all stacks of Positively Charged, and vice versa. Annet gains 15/20/30/40% bonus movement speed per Charge stack towards enemies within 1000 units with a different charge than herself, or away from enemies with the same charge as herself, up to a maximum of 20/40/60/80%. Annet begins the game Positively Charged and cannot gain additional stacks of either Charge type beyond the first. Annet remains Charged permanently, but can switch her Charge type through the use of her Q.
Ability Information
Ability Type On-Hit Basic Attack Enhancer
Range 200 unit radius around target
Damage 25-205 (+.3 AP)
Enemy Charge Duration 5 seconds
Enemy Charge Stack Max 2
Self Charge Duration Permanent until changed
Self Charge Stack Max 1
Movement Speed Range 1000 units
Movement Speed Buff 10/20/30/40 per enemy stack, max 2 stacks
Q: Polarity Shift
Annet reverses the polarity of the Hextron flow within her form, releasing the energy in a target area. Enemies within this area are dealt 70/110/150/190/230 (+.5AP) magic damage and struck enemy champions receive a Charge stack of the same type as Annet. Then, this ability alters her current Charge type. An Annet who is Positive becomes Negative, and vice versa. | Ability Information | | | --- | --- | | Ability Type | Ground Targeted AoE | | Cast Range | 800 | | Radius | 250 | | Damage | 70/110/150/190/230 (+.5 AP) | | Cooldown | 14/13/12/11/10/9 | | Mana Cost | 60/65/70/75/80 |
W: Magnetic Orb
Annet generates stacks of Magnetic Orb over 30 seconds, capping at 2 stacks.
Annet consumes a stack of Magnetic Orb and hurls a dense metal orb towards a target area. The Orb is permanently Charged with the Charge type Annet has when she activates this ability. Positive Orbs are colored blue, while Negative Orbs are colored red. Upon landing, the Orb deals 100/130/160/190/220 (+.3AP) to all enemies in the area. The Orb remains on the field for 10 seconds or until Annet retrieves one by touching it. Picking up an Orb reduces the stack generation time by 10 seconds.
1.5 seconds after the Orb lands, the Orb will launch itself as a skillshot towards the nearest enemy champion within 800 units that has a different Charge type than the Orb. The Orb always launches itself the full 800 units, unless it collides with terrain. The Orb is capable of missing. Enemy units struck by the ball are deat half of the ball’s original damage and are knocked aside. The Orb may continue to launch itself towards Charged enemy champions for as long as its duration lasts.
Ability Information
Ability Type Ground Targeted AoE -> Projectile Pass-Through Skillshots
Cast Range 700
Initial Damage 100/130/160/190/220 (+.3 AP)
Subsequent Damage 50% of initial damage
Knockback Distance 100 units
Orb Hitbox Radius 100
Orb Charge Detection Range 800 units
Orb Subsequent Launch Range 800 units
Orb Duration 10 Seconds
Cooldown: 5 seconds
Recharge Time 30 seconds (reducible with Cooldown Reduction)
Mana Cost 80/85/90/95/100
E: Magnetic Lock
Annet channels a beam of energy between herself and a targeted enemy for up to 3 seconds. If Annet and target enemy have different types of Charge, the enemy is dealt 30/40/50/60/70 (+.2AP) magic damage each second and is slowed by 30%. If Annet and target enemy have the same type of Charge, the beam ends immediately and the enemy is knocked back 300 units.
Ability Information
Ability Type Enemy-Targeted Tether
Cast Range 500
Tether Range 700
Tether Duration 3 seconds or until terminated
Tether Damage 30/40/50/60/70 (+.2AP) per second
Tether Slow 30%
Knockback Distance 300 units
Cooldown 12 seconds
Mana Cost 85
R: Gravi-Surge
Annet roots herself and extends her cogwork arms in a cone for up to two seconds, increasing the size of the cone the longer she charges the ability. Annet can continue to channel her E as she charges this ability.
When Annet has fully charged this ability or when she casts it prematurely, she releases a wave of energy in a cone. Enemies struck by this ability who have the same charge type as Annet are knocked up for 2 seconds. Enemies struck by this ability who have a different Charge type than Annet receive 20/30/40% (+1% per 50 AP) increased damage from Annet for the same duration. Additionally, any Orbs in the area automatically hurl themselves away from or towards the nearest enemy champion with the same or different Charge type, respectively, as the individual Orbs.
Ability Information
Ability Type Charged Cone AoE
Cone Angle 60 degrees
Cone Length 300 - 1000 units
Knockup Duration 2 seconds
Damage Amplification 20/30/40% (+1% per 50 AP)
Damage Amplification Duration 2 seconds
Cooldown Reduction 120/100/80 seconds

Brief Gameplay Discussion

From the original concept, I wanted to retain the idea that Annet is just an extension of a remote operator or system, and that Annet is reliant upon the application of Charge marks to enemies and herself in order to function optimally. I also wanted to keep her as a zone-control focused mage, though I've taken something of a different direction in getting there.
Annet can deal damage, if the stars align, but her primary goal is to disrupt the enemy team through her W and Ult, using her Q to facilitate strategic Charge decisions and her E to afford her some amount of simplistic safety when the complexity of the rest of her kit isn't appropriate.
The ideal Annet uses her passive's movement speed buffs to dance on the outside of her opponents' effective ranges, manipulating Charge types with Q to direct W's powerful CC potential. In teamfights, the chaos of her W and the minor protection afforded by her E give Annet enough time to charge up an impressive ult and decisively end a teamfight.
Counterplay to Annet is mostly centered in the successful dodging of her W. Because the Orb always moves a set distance and there is a set time between movements, a wise enemy can dodge an Orb and be out of range before it would move again. By denying Annet the value of her controlled spaces - like escaping the charging cone of her ult or moving beyond terrain when she has an Orb active - the enemy reduces Annet's available options and forces her to make rapid choices in Charge application, detrimental to the strategy needed to play optimally.
submitted by Coleridge12 to LoLChampConcepts [link] [comments]

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