Sunday, March 17, 2013

Starflight II: Echoes of Memories

The sci-fi RPG introduces some fantasy elements.

Emboldened by my new weapons and armor, and with my new ability to scan for continuum fluxes, I finished exploring the galaxy today, visiting all of the planets indicated by trade beacons, logging a bunch of colonizable planets, collecting all the artifacts I could find, and visiting a few quest locations.

The ship, well-stocked with artifacts and cash.

The artifacts, all purchased from various outposts after selling desired trade goods to the sellers, are:

  • A psychic probe that, upon each encounter or trading session, immediately gives me a sense of the attitude of the other party. It goes from green (friendly) to yellow (neutral) to red (hostile) to bright red (actively engaging in combat), and thank god the game just tells me the colors instead of making me discern them somehow. It helps a lot in determining what to do vis-a-vis weapons and shields when first running into ships.

See the last line. This is a good sign to prepare for battle.

  • A field stunner that emits a stun field in a radius from my ATV when exploring a planet, briefly stunning hostile aliens. It frankly hasn't been very useful. It doesn't stun them long enough to get over to them and capture them all; I still have to use individual laser shots for that. I suppose it would be handy if I was just swarmed with hostiles on a planet, but that's only happened once on a Spemin planet where I had no reason to be anyway.

Stunning a bunch of Spemin on their planet. As far as I can tell, combat on-planet does precisely zilch for you.
  • A planetary teleporter that automatically returns the ATV to the ship. Very handy. It greatly extends my exploration radius, and I don't have to constantly worry about fuel. I should mention this was a pain in the neck to obtain; I had to complete a sequence of about six trades before I had the "grow goo" that the Draffa Bastii wanted for the teleporter.

It also saves a lot of time when you're 70 kilometers away.

  • An encounter scanner that supposes to show nearby ships while in "Starmap" mode. I don't think it's comprehensive, though, because I keep running into ships that it's not showing me.

Or maybe it is showing them to me, and I'm confusing them with stars.

For the quest locations, I first visited the site of a derelict ship of the Lowar, a race that went extinct at the hands of the Umanu, some 800 years prior to our arrival in the galaxy. A beacon broadcasting from the ship indicated that it had "passed through the singularity," found something called the "Halls of Memory" and "solved the riddle of the Leghk techonlogy," but had run out of Shyneum on the return trip--a fact that the captain found tragically ironic.

"Shyneum, Shymeum! My planet for Shyneum!"

Not too far away was the singularity--the "anomaly" that the Humna Humna had told me about--a sort-of wormhole in space that, when I entered, sent me back in time an undetermined number of years. The journey damaged my ship so bad that I was unable to defend myself against the hostile aliens who soon appeared, so I had to reload. I presume I'll need to visit this again later, perhaps after finding some other artifact. I presume the Lowar came out of this anomaly.

Even though I knew the Spemin had already sold the "most valuable thing" of the Tadelou to the G'nunk, I visited their homeworld and followed the Gorzek's directions to the location where they had been keeping it. Predictably, in a ruin, I found a note indicating it was no longer there.

I had a few more run-ins with the multiple-personality Arla/Kher/Ng in their hostile Ng form. I was capable of defeating their ships, even when they swarmed me, but their attacks included some sort of probe or device, un-killable, that continually sapped my Shyneum until I was dead in space. I resolved to avoid them, at least until they turned back into Arla or Kher. I had to wait for their moon cycle to return them to Kher form to trade for the psychic probe described above.

During my adventures, my Elowan doctor was killed by some random creature on one planet or another. Good riddance. He was such a lightweight that he was always taking massive damage from the slightest thing, and I hardly ever needed to use my doctor anyway (health regenerates on its own). Back at starport, I replaced him with another human named "Doctor"; humans can train to a respectable 200 in medical skill and don't die in every thunderstorm.

This is what I get for having a plant as a crewmember.

On a planet at the bottom of the map, in the area given to me by the Humna Humna, I found a series of Leghk ruins whose combined messages hinted at some kind of tragedy that had befallen the race, leading them to create the "guardian fortress satellite" and the "Hall of Memory." See below for more on this. While exploring the planet, I serendipitously picked up a plant called a "nid berry."

Gathering messages from Leghk ruins. These seem to be scattered randomly across the planet, so you don't have to have exact coordinates to find them.

For a while after this, I wasn't sure what to do. For some reason, the game wouldn't let me enter the system with the G'nunk homeworld; my ship would just fly over the star. (Perhaps I needed to get the intelligence described below first.)!

So I traded around a bit and was just starting to get frustrated when I ran into the Dweenle again, and boy were they excited about my nid berries. Not only did they have lots to tell me, they proposed a crew exchange. I gave them my new doctor for a Dweenle named Blahdodum who, luckily, is skilled in medicine.

More important was the intelligence I got from the Dweenle about the past. Between what they told me and the messages I found in the Leghk ruins, this is what I've pieced together:

  • Thousands of years ago, the Leghk lived throughout the galaxy and were a peaceful, friendly race. They even liked the Dweenle.
  • Something happened to cause the Leghk to be "possessed" by an "awful demon" called the Uhl. In a very short time frame, they turned hostile, attacked other species and each other. The Dweenle were somehow immune to the Uhl.
  • The resulting war somehow caused a supernova which created the cloud nebula.
  • The Leghk who were slow to change tried to escape by opening a portal to the future. (I assume this is the singularity.) They didn't make it through, but the "demon's offspring" did. Perhaps these are the Umanu?
  • To preserve a memory of their civilization, the Leghk created the Guardian (Gorzak) and gave the key to the Dweenle.
  • The remainder of the Leghk had to choose between "suicide or psychic domination." They made their last stand in something called the "Halls of Memory." A message I found gave me the coordinates, but there was nothing there, so either it's on a different planet or it's only findable in the past.
  • Millennia later, the Spemin found the ruins of the Leghk's planet and managed to extract knowledge of advanced weaponry from data crystals.

The Dweenle really open up after a few berries.

After I found the Dweenle so talkative, I decided to spend more time with the Humna Humna, this time acquiescing to their constant demands for Shyneum. This process also bore fruit, as they had a lot to say about the G'nunk, including the specific coordinates on their planet where I could find the Tandelou's Most Valuable Thing.

I guess I should have realized that I needed to bribe a trading species before they would impart anything valuable.

The G'nunk are a warlike collection of species that reportedly only trade or parlay with "G'nasch," or those who have defeated G'nunk in combat. This is a particularly difficult feat because they have a device that disables their enemies' shields. I find if I stay far enough away, out-maneuver their missiles, and retaliate with barrages of my own missiles, I can defeat even large parties of them.

A pitched battle in space. Fortunately, I can just tell the difference between enemy ships and missiles.

When looting their ships, I found that the bastards were still burning Endurium!

Thinking I was "saving" the poor Ancients, I collected the Endurium from their ships I destroyed, only to get chastised and fined for it when I returned to starport.

I thought I was helping!

Anyway, no matter how many ships I defeated, I couldn't get the G'nunk to parlay with me, so I just blew past their planetary defense ships, landed on the planet, and retrieved the "most valuable thing" (the game didn't give me any better hint as to what it was than that) from the coordinates the Humna Humna had provided. As I close for the night, I'm preparing to deliver it to the Tandelou, though I don't know which sect to visit, nor do I know whether I need to encounter them in space or on a planet to make the trade. I'm sure I'll figure it out. After that, I hope the guardian Gorzek has more to say.

Finding the "most valuable thing." Good thing no one was guarding it.

I still have max everything on my ship, and thanks to my trading and planetary logging, I have plenty of Shyneum and money. Since I've logged each planet and what they'll buy and sell, I don't imagine I'll be doing much mining any more; when I need to make some cash, I'll do it through trade goods.

My planetary exploration and trade log.

While I've been finding the game addictive, I can't say that I'm enjoying it as much as the original Starflight. Like its predecessor, it's a good game, just not a great CRPG specifically. My failure to remotely shed a tear over the loss of a crewmember speaks to how little the individual crewmembers stand out as characters. Combat continues to be very primitive. The game's strength is in the logistics of exploration and the slowly revealing story, though I don't find either as compelling as the first game. I am interested in seeing how it wraps up, though.


  1. Replies
    1. Please stop doing this.

    2. "Anonymous March 18, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      Please stop doing this."

      Ohnonono, if you want to talk to me you, especially when you make a request like this without knowing the history behind the Gadfly, you don't hide behind the curtain of anonymity. I'll be glad to engage you in conversation but I want to know who I am talking to, lest ye be merely a troll. And if you think *I* am merely a troll, ye certainly don't know me a' tall.

    3. I'm with Anon, please don't make a post just to say first. Now, if you attach it to something witty and insightful, well, that is a different story.

    4. Well now, see, was that so hard? Now we're having a conversation and you didn't have to play "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." Thank you. This entire thread could have been down to one or two posts had it started this way.

      And my sincere apologies. I was attempting a sort of meta "humour" as this was being carried out over several Addict posts but, as we all can see, it was falling mega-flat.

      For that I am sorry to you all for having to have read these posts. Because they used up some quota of "posts" that everyone has and because people read these, everyone now have fewer other posts they can read. No? Oh, it was because these comment sections are of a finite size, and because I used up that space, there was less space for other people to make comments. Oh, that's not true either, is it?

      Well, they were off topic. And they were certainly not witty or insightful- they were lame and not funny. And for that I am sorry. I shan't do that ever again.

      I am sorry.

    5. William don't take it to hard, rather think of it like a fashion tip. Posting that you are "first" is in general just kind of annoying like having a neighbor who blows leaves into your yard, or putting $5,000 spinner rims on a $2,000 car.

      So people are just saying you probably shouldn't do that so as not to look silly.

  2. Now that I have that nonsense out of the way...

    I am sorry that this game is not as engaging. Do you think it has to do with having played the 1st game? Do you think if you played this game 1st, then had gone back to play the 1st game, that you would find it more engaging OR do you think it would have been less engaging since the background would have made less sense?

    I want to play and finish an oldie one day. I LOVE collecting them, I love PLAYING them, for a little while... I just don't love playing them more than a day or two. To be fair, however, this is a failing I share with modern games as well. I play for maybe a week, taper off then realize I haven;t played one in over a month.

    I digress.

    1. Hard to say. It's perhaps partly because SF1 dealt with earth history, partly because the gameplay in the first game seemed a little more balanced. I want to say that the races were a little less absurd in SF1, but I'm not sure that's true.

      I'll try to analyze it better in my final posting.

    2. It's a crying shame that you can't stand the silliness in these games, because it'll severely impair your ability to appreciate and enjoy the upcoming Star Control II. Silliness is part of that game at the genetic level, but if you can't accept that then you'll be missing out on enjoying a game with excellent writing and a storyline that's just as good as SF1's.

      You just have to go into them expecting a comedy. Otherwise you may as well not turn up.

    3. I don't mind when something's a straight-up comedy or when realistic humor grows naturally from situation or character. What I don't like is when a bunch of flapdoodle pops up in an otherwise-straight game, book, or film. Imagine if Madea guest-starred on Law and Order or Austin Powers showed up as a supporting character in a James Bond film. That's the equivalent of an entire race of clinically depressed gnomes in an otherwise-serious space RPG.

    4. Is it wrong that I find the Madea/Law and Order and Austin Powers/James Bond ideas highly amusing? And just think, I don't even particularly like any of those characters.

    5. Well, I simply don't view Starflight as 'otherwise serious'. I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree on that one.

    6. Anonymous, I admit you have a point that the game doesn't take itself very seriously at any point. Perhaps I'm projecting more about what I want from a game than what the game really intends to deliver.

      Amy, I think those ideas are amusing, too, for a Saturday Night Live skit. I don't know how much either of us would enjoy a two-hour movie based on them.

    7. As I mentioned to earlier I remember not liking this as much as the first. I think it has something to do with the pacing and a lack of drawing you into the story as much as the first one did.

  3. There is something that you've overlooked in your actions here that is the reason why the G'Nunk won't talk to you. Given what you know of them you should be able to figure it out - you've actually already made the exact observation in your previous posts! Once you figure that out, a quick trip to Starport should be enough to fix it.

    1. Well, I'm afraid I won the game without solving the mystery. I looked through my previous postings and didn't see anything obvious, and I couldn't think what I could possibly accomplish by returning to starport, except perhaps exchanging crewmembers. Was it because I had the Dweenle?

      Either way, talking with the G'nunk doesn't seem to be necessary to win the game.

    2. No Dweenle (the G'nuck hate the Dweenle) and aggressive conversation stance. Interestingly, this works both ways, if you recruit a Dweenle after dealing with the G'nuck, it does not end well.

    3. Burzmali has it right - it was the Dweenle in your crew. The G'Nunk are very militaristic and extremely Darwinist, which I think you would've found out from the other races (Humna Humna?) and you'd already pointed out how silly it was that the Dweenle were at the top of their own evolutionary ladder. The G'Nunk feel an obligation to 'help them along' by killing as many of them as they can, including your ship. All that was needed was to drop him off at Starport and get another doctor. You certainly would have blasted enough of them to be able to talk to them without that, as long as you maintained your position of strength (i.e. be hostile).

      The G'Nunk also offer a crew trade and another artifact, a Shield Nullifier, which would help you in battle. It only works with the G'Nunk crew member on board, but having him pisses off every other alien race.

    4. Interesting bit of the game that I missed, then. I may reload, mess around, and try to get a few screen shots of all of this for the final posting. Thanks!

    5. Oh, that's too bad. It looks like I saved it right before the end, and it won't let me leave the final encounter and explore more. Thanks for filling me in anyway.

  4. There is one thing to do that can get the G'Nunk to be friendly.
    Also, you are missing one interesting artifact so far, but by now you probably do not even need it.

    1. Feel free to spoil directly. I just won a little while ago, I never solved the G'nunk mystery, and the one walkthrough I can find online doesn't provide any additional clues.

  5. Hey Addict, in case you haven't already noticed, look here: :) I know it's completely unrelated to Starflight II, but I hope it's forgiven? Cause...well a new M&M, HELL YEAH!!! Hope they don't make a MMO.

    1. I'll let it go because there's nothing you can buy on the other end of that link. That's potentially exciting news. I wish I could go to PAX East and check it out, but the tickets are sold out.

      I don't understand these conventions where the tickets sell out in like two days. Why don't they just charge more?

    2. I'm guessing that they like the conventions to be open to the "common man". Raise your prices too much and you risk being labelled as only a choice for the media and the well off. The majority of gamers have a budget so the conventions try to keep everybody on thier good side. Or loyalty to original fans, but whose ever heard of that?

    3. I guess that makes sense, but perhaps they should have a second tier of tickets for people willing to pay more but who don't want to be obsessively sitting at their computers at midnight the day registration opens. I'd gladly spend 5 times what they're asking, but there's no mechanism by which I can do so. scalpers work this convention?

    4. How much is it to book a speaking slot or booth? Maybe next year you can use it to promote your book and thus a tax write off.

  6. I'm not sure the lack of grief at the loss of your plant man is the game's fault. All it took for me was picturing him saying "I am a leaf in the wind."


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