Sunday, September 12, 2010

Starflight: Genocide!

Notice how there's no planet in my planetary view screen? Yeah.

"Hi, honey! Huh. Guess what I did at work today? I wore a bomb--a nuclear bomb--in a field of flowers. I could get lucky. Tomorrow, I could have a bigger bomb. I could kill more people. Maybe they'll be innocent people. Children, maybe." -- John Crichton, Farscape, Season 4, Episode 21, "We're So Screwed, Part 3"

This is my "won!" posting for Starflight, and it includes a major spoiler that you won't want to read if you plan to play and win the game yourself. Stop here if that's the case.

...

Okay, so I blew up a planet and killed an entire race this evening.

It started with the discovery of the Institute's old headquarters on Akteron-6, where in a long document related to "Project Teleport," I learned about the Old Empire's plan to teleport an agent to the Crystal Planet --the veritable "Death Star" causing suns to flare and destroy all life in their systems--and have him destroy it with a bomb. The agent, Commander McConnell, made it to the planet and set off the explosive, but it didn't do anything. Ultimately, the Institute discovered they would need three devices:

  • A crystal orb to nullify the planet's defenses. This is what the Veloxi referred to as their holy artifact, the "small egg," and I had a clue from them about where it is.
  • A crystal cone to identify the location of the control nexus of the Crystal Planet. The message gave me coordinates where I could find it, but noted that it was "deep in Uhlek space."
  • A bomb. I already had one, and then I found a second one after getting a clue from the Veloxi about a planet on the "handle of the axe" (a reference to an axe-shaped constellation). It was apparently left over from the destruction of the Phlegmak.

I knew the planet that held the crystal orb but I didn't know the coordinates yet, so I set out to find the crystal cone first. But I kept getting attacked and killed by Uhlek. Finally, I'd had enough. Since I had two bombs, I could spare one. I flew to the Uhlek home planet (clue to its location received from the Spenim) and set off the bomb. As the Spenim had indicated, killing the Uhlek "mind ganglion" apparently took care of the entire fleet. No more Uhlek.

I retrieved the crystal cone and then followed some clues I'd received from the Elowan to some other Old Empire bases, where I found references to two other artifacts: a "tesseract," which turned out to halve my fuel usage (unnecessary at this point because I'd found a boatload), and a "red cylinder," which turned out to perform an amazing service: when in orbit around a planet, it pinpoints the location of artifacts. This allowed me to retrieve the crystal orb from the Velox planet (fortunately, I didn't run into any Veloxi again after that) as well as a "crystal pearl" from a planet on which the Spenim told me was a "city of the Ancients." All I found was the pearl and a bunch of Endurium laying about. (The pearl, by the way, teleports you away from battle if you're about to die. Handy, but it turns out I never engaged in battle again after this.)

This is supposed to be a "City of the Ancients." All I see is a ruin and a bunch of Endurium fuel...
 
It seemed I had all the artifacts I needed to engage the Crystal Planet. I first returned to Starport to get new armor for my ship and see if there were any final notices. If I hadn't just found a huge cache of Endurium, this one would have been a little annoying:

I smell corruption.

I headed off for the Crystal Planet at the coordinates given to me by the Veloxi. It was where they said it was. With my crystal orb, I evaded their defenses, and the crystal cone pointed out the location of the control center.


 
I found a ruin on the planet's surface with the remains and last log of Commander McConnell. It gives a hell of a twist ending. In it, he remarks on the lumps of Endurium found everywhere on the planet. He went ahead and set the charges and waited for them to blow. As he waited, he was contacted telepathically by the Ancients, who turned out to be...wait for it....the lumps of Endurium.

That's right. The Ancients haven't left the galaxy; they're everywhere, and we're burning them for fuel! Their extremely slow metabolism means that they live "in an entirely different time framework" and don't even realize that carbon-based life forms are sentient. They saw us as a virus to destroy. While expressing remorse for this revelation, Commander McConnell noted that nonetheless he hoped the bomb succeeded. "At this point, it's us or them."

Agreeing with this sentiment, I guess, I dropped the bomb and skedaddled. The rest was predictable:


 
Left unstated is whether humans are going to continue with hyperspace travel now that we know we're destroying sentient lifeforms to do it. Given what I've learned about Interstel in this posting, I'm guessing yes. Thus, I committed genocide twice in the same night.

So...wow. I won. It seemed to come awfully quickly, and I feel like there's a ton about the game that I never explored. I never figured out what was going on with the Minstrels or Mysterions, nor did I ever come to a meaningful resolution with the Gazurtoids (I would have liked to destroy their home planet but I never found out where it was). Consulting a walkthrough (which I can do after I win), it doesn't appear that I missed anything, though, save a third bomb located on one of the Arth system planets.

I created a YouTube account to try to record and post better videos, and below is the first one I uploaded, showing the process of winning Starflight. In the future, I'll record and narrate more videos during the process of playing each game.


Final reckoning to follow.

16 comments:

  1. Congrats! Haha, yeah, that twist was well written and perfectly integrated. When your post title didn't say "Won!" in it, I was scared you had nuked the Gazurtoids and wouldn't have found one of the other eggs to finish the game with

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  2. Hadn't found*, not wouldn't have found. I wish I could edit my posts...

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  3. How many games allow you to commit honest-to-god genocide?

    And what's more, it appears that you have to commit genocide in order to complete the game.

    This has definitely been the most interesting of the games you've played through so far, I've enjoyed every post.

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  4. @Andy, In Ultima 6 the wisp gives you the Armageddon spell to nuke a particular type of monster. you can also cast it in 7 and it will kill everyone on the planet.

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  5. Ultima 6 and 7 are a riot that way, although I don't know what you mean by "nuke a particular type of monster." My recollection is that in both games, "Armageddon" is utterly unusable and fatal to everyone except you and Lord British. The whole subtle subplot with the "Bones of Zog" is brilliant, though.

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  6. Oh, technically you can destroy an entire planet in the "bad" ending of "Might & Magic VI," too.

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  7. I'm fairly sure that using "armageddon" in U6 or U7 pretty much makes the games unwinnable, so it's not really the same thing. There was also no reason to use the spell in terms of the game itself (although the few survivors were interesting).

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  8. You can also commit genocide in Nethack using a scroll of genocide: Type the name of the monster, or the symbol of the monster type and 'boom' no more of that monster.

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  9. Yep, found that when I started playing NetHack. Coolest scroll in any game ever.

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  10. Just completed this game myself.
    I must admit I grew a bit tired of the combat (either the enemy can't make a dent on ISS Life Seeker even with shields dowm, or they destroy it before I can even raise the shield) and I was never able to give the Elipsoid back to the Veloxi. I think I need to make them love me for them to reveal the excact location of Sphexi and the Small Egg/Crystal Orb. So I thought the Crystal Planet was Sphexi and that the City of the Ancients in the nebula in Spemin space (which I never traveled to) was the Crystal Planet.
    So, as with MM1 I resorted to cheating in the final stages. I guess that makes me a life form somewhere between the Spenim and CRPG Addict...

    The true nature of the Ancients was surprising, and I was way off with my egg theory.
    But it's always nice to be surprised.

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  11. This was one of my favorite games as a kid. Thanks for bringing back some good memories.

    You wondered whether humans are going to continue with hyperspace travel. The Starflight 2 manual explains that the humans stopped hyperspace travel pretty quickly and called on the other races to do the same, but not all races complied.

    Incidentally, the Starflight 2 manual is a great example of how to handle the plot-so-far synopsis for a sequel. To explain Starflight 1's events, it says, "Endurium was making the stars flare! So we quit using it." It's perfectly accurate, it's perfectly misleading, and it completely avoids giving away the twist at the end of Starflight 1.

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  12. I like it. I can just see the sequel to Soylent Green: "Soylent green was making police detectives go insane and start screaming, so we stopped making it."

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  13. Sounds like this would have made a fantastic novel.

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  14. That... was an amazing twist! And pretty disturbing on a second play-through...

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  15. Made me think of starflight: "Oh no! We've been eating them this whole time!"

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/radical-conservation/2015/aug/04/plants-intelligent-sentient-book-brilliant-green-internet

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    Replies
    1. This would be horrifying if true. I'd prefer not to consider the possibility.

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