The evening didn't start well. Literally every thing I did led to destruction, either at the hands of Mechans or Gazurtoids (more below), always after I'd spent an hour or so filling my hold with minerals.
For some reason, I kept playing, and things got better. Tonight I "solved" what feel like two major quests.
First, the Mechans. They hang around a planet about 20 sectors from the Spaceport, destroying any ship they contact. There was a notice about them in the operations room at Spaceport. Every time I met up with them, they would ask a series of questions, and I would get the answers "wrong," apparently, and they would destroy me. Finally, after some trial and error and common sense, I answered their questions in a satisfactory manner (essentially convincing them that I was their long-lost master), and they gave me access to their databanks. From them, I learned:
- The Old Empire was attacked by a variety of races called the Numlox (seriously? Are we going to have a species called the "Baxpase"?), the Phlegnak, the Uhlek, and the Gazurtoid. The attacks started in 3400 and lasted more than 400 years.
- The Old Empire had an organization called the Institute, which was a society of scientists and intellectuals who believed the Empire was going to be destroyed.
- The Institute conceived Project Noah, filling at least nine "ark" ships and sending them to various worlds for underground colonization so they could outlast the destruction of the Empire and save the human race.
- These Mechans were sent in 3479 to secure and terraform the planet where a colony called Heaven would be located. They were supposed to be followed a year later by Noah 9, but they never came (because the mission was sabotaged by Laytonites, as I discovered yesterday; I still don't know who they are).
- While waiting for Noah 9, the Mechans followed their programming and defended the planet from other races. They were attacked 14 times, twice so badly they had to retreat underground and repair themselves.
Having imparted this information, the Mechans allowed me access to Heaven, which was full of minerals. I loaded up greedily, logged the planet (renaming it "Utopia"), and returned to Spaceport for a nice reward.
For my second expedition of the evening, I tracked the coordinates I received two nights ago of some aliens who had a stolen a cloaking device. These aliens turned out to be the Gazurtoids, who have some issue with "air-breathers"--and I'm talking a biblical issue.
These evangelist aliens were defending the planet at the coordinates in question, but I finally bested one in battle, destroyed him, and looted my first ship.
On the planet--which I christened "Gazurtoida" and logged as colonizable--there was a king's ransom in minerals plus a "shimmering orb" which turned out to be the cloaking device. I haven't had a chance to use it in combat yet. I also visited a ruin where I received cryptic coordinates for yet another Old Empire ruin.
I think it's safe to say that this game is the best discovery of my CRPG project so far. I had never heard of it before a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm completely hooked. My only complaint is combat. You have to go through the process of raising your shields and arming your weapons and then "entering" combat while enemies are shooting at you. Some of their shots are incredibly lucky--I've died in a single shot before. Even once you have your shields and weapons ready, you attack by turning your ship so that it faces the enemy and you fire missiles or lasers. But such maneuverability is very tough, and I've only successfully completed it once. I do expect it to get easier, though, and in any event you can flee from most combats if you're quick.
After combat, you have to engage in the process of repairing your ship and healing your crew. This is where the engineer and the doctor come in. Some repairs require certain minerals, so I've taken to keeping a small supply of each type of mineral I find. Unfortunately, I didn't have cobalt when the situation called for it.
Tomorrow night, I have to teach a college class, but I think there's a reasonable chance that class will get out early. After all, I have a new pair of coordinates to explore, and I love putting together all of this lore to learn about the universe. It feels good to be living up to my title again.