Saturday, April 6, 2019

Star Control II: Deadlines and Dead Ends

The Prydwen butts up against the literal edge of the universe.
          
I started this session wondering what would happen if I flew to one of the "borders" of the galaxy. Would it wrap around? Or would I fall of the edge of the universe? To check it out, I only had to fly "south" a few sectors. The answer had implications for how I would navigate for the rest of the game, so I figured I'd check it out now.

On the way, I stopped by the Centauri sector where I'd previously met the race that I want to call the "Mel Tormé," which amuses me enough that I'm not even going to look up their real name. They had previously said that they were interested only in data on life forms and data on planets that confused sensor readings. I didn't have any of the latter, but I'd stunned and scanned a few life forms on a previous expedition. I sold them what I had and got a modest number of credits to spend on information or technology. It wasn't enough to do much with, so I just left the balance for now.

But during the course of the conversation, the aliens related that they had a device called a MetaChron, "a kind of trans-time alarm system." It warns of oncoming dangers by predicting its own demise, slowly turning from white to black at a rate commensurate with the amount of time it has remaining. Apparently, while the Velvet Fogs are in this sector of space, the MetaChron is slowly turning black, at a rate that suggests some kind of disaster in the early part of 2159. It's late 2155 now, so that gives me a little more than three years to solve this quest.
         
That extra month might be vital.
       
That's a generous time allotment but not an infinite one. An expedition from starbase to a handful of planets, returning with a full cargo hold, can take a couple of months. I can't spend a lot of time just randomly exploring. While I don't want to engage in save-scumming, I suspect that as time goes on, I'll be likely to reload when a visit to a planetary system turns out to be a complete waste of time.
          
A system with this many planets (including several gas giants with their own moons) can easily burn an hour or two of playing time.
        
I got hung up for a while in the Ptolemae system, which had four stars, one of which had about eight planets, including several gas giants with a handful of moons. I picked up a fair amount of new lifeform data on a marine world. The variety of planetary life forms is interesting and amusing. Among them are simple blobs, giant ape-like creatures, fleet little goblins with mean faces, giant urchins, tree-looking things with tufted tentacles, and bio-mechanoid beings that are rooted in place. They take anywhere from one to six shots to stun, and some of them will proactively attack the landing craft. I've learned to count myself lucky if I can bag half a dozen, and not to push my luck trying to clear the planet of all of them.
        
Three local life forms swarm and destroy me in the lower-right corner.
          
During these expeditions, I've also been paying more attention to the type of mineral I'm collecting, especially since I noticed that the rarer ones are worth more "resource units" than the more common ones. This game doesn't seem to be like Starflight, where you had to find specific elements for ship repair and whatnot. Since everything gets converted to generic "RUs," you might as well prioritize the valuable stuff. Every once in a while, the game explicitly tells you that you've arrived at a "treasure world" full of platinum and gold. Supposedly, there's a way to identify the more valuable planets by color, which means I might as well just guess.
          
This one mining trip will be worth more than all of the other planets I've visited on this expedition combined.
        
Anyway, my question was answered when, in hyperspace, I butted up against the edge of the galaxy and could go no further.

On the way back to Earth, I was pulled out of hyperspace by another ship belonging to some beings that the game labeled the "Slylandro." The aliens on the ship looked crystalline, but the ship said it was a "probe," so they might not have been individual aliens at all. Anyway, the encounter started off friendly, with the probe claiming it was on a "peaceful mission of exploration." But all of a sudden, it said that its protocols had changed, and it was now required to "break target into component compounds."
         
Way to ruin a nice conversation.
         
I had to reload several times to beat it in combat. I don't know if I'll ever come to enjoy the game's approach to combat. I don't even understand what's happening most of the time. Once you've selected your ship and you're tossed into the battlefield, gravitational forces pull you this way and that with no logic that I can discern. Sometimes, the ships are just about to close in on each other when something suddenly flings them apart. It seems like every time I turn in the enemy's direction, at that moment, something happens that reconfigures the entire battle map and has him suddenly come up behind me. I have to spend more time in practice mode, I guess.
           
I have trouble taking screen shots in the chaos of combat, but here I am just after having destroyed the Slylandro ship.
         
Despite readers' claims that the Spathi ship and its BUTT missiles made the game too easy, I couldn't get anywhere with that ship. It's too hard to tell which direction is forward, for one thing. Every time I managed to get the ship's rear facing the enemy and launch the missiles, the fast-moving Slylandro just darted away from them.

I had installed ion cannons on the Prydwen that launched missiles from the sides of the ship as well as from the front. The only way I could defeat the Slylandro, after multiple tries, was to use my flagship. But I lost a couple dozen crewmembers with every victory.

Back at Earth, pondering my next move, I took the time to have the full set of dialogues with the base commander. I know, it's shocking that I didn't do that when I first met him, but for some reason I wasn't in the mood. Now, I was curious about the dispositions of each of the former Alliance races so I could determine if they were worth a visit. This had become particularly important because the commander was telling me that the Prydwen had been upgraded enough and what we really needed now was to find allies. To recap the game's lore as well as the commander's answers:
             
  • The Yehat are an avian race (they look like pterodactyls) organized into warrior clans and ruled by a queen. They specialize in fast ships called Terminators. According to Fwiffo, they surrendered to the Ur-Quan and became battle slaves. 
  • The Shofixti were a mammalian race ("sort of a killer shrew") who were found and given advanced technology by the Yehat. Fierce, proud warriors, they refused to submit to the Ur-Quan and destroyed their own planetary system rather than surrender. I still added them to the list in case there were any remnants.
  • The Chenjesu were crystalline beings who first contacted humanity and warned us about the Ur-Quan. Ancient and technologically advanced, they were also peaceful and philosophical, which didn't serve them well in the war. The last anyone heard of them, they were fighting the Ur-Quan alongside the Mmrnmhrm in the Procyon system.
  • The Mmrnmhrm are self-aware robots built for an unknown mission by an unknown alien race. The commander thinks they're the "leading edge of a colonization project." Like the Chenjesu, they were last seen in the Procyon system.
        
When microphones gain sentience . . .
        
  • The Ariloulaleelay are classic pointy-eared, large-eyed aliens who may have visited Earth in the past and been responsible for stories of kidnappings and experimentation. Their homeworld location is unknown, and they have some technology that lets them move faster through hyperspace than any other race. The commander doesn't like them ("something about them gives me the creeps").
  • The Syreen were the almost all-female race of buxom humanoids who can ensorcel other races. Their ships were often a motley of crewmembers from multiple species working to please a Syreen captain. They reportedly allowed their planet to be quarantined (as Earth did) after the Ur-Quan victory.
          
The commander also filled me in on some odd and horrific aspects of Earth's surrender. Apparently, the Ur-Quan required Earth's surrender conditions (to become battle slaves or be quarantined under a shield) to be put to a popular vote. After Earth voted for the shield, the Ur-Quan told us to vacate any cities and ruins more than 500 years old, and then they systematically destroyed them. The Earth of Star Control II is one with no Athens, no London, no Great Pyramids, and so forth, but the Ur-Quan also destroyed some oddities like "a kilometer of land in central Iraq," several acres of Amazon rainforest, and an underground section of the Antarctic. This suggested that they weren't just trying to destroy humanity's history but perhaps also some ancient secret or technology capable of defeating them.
          
He goes on to say that the United States made out comparatively well. U.S.A! U.S.A!
        
Other things that came up during the discussion included the possibility of a second ancient alien race (other than the Precursors) that settled in the Vulpaculae constellation, now in Androsynth space. Also, the Ur-Quan might have some kind of doomsday device that they'll use if the tide turns. I need to find out what it is and deactivate it. Finally, he mentioned that there are three races that were neither part of the Ur-Quan hierarchy or Alliance and he gave me their approximate locations.
          
The mini "conversation logs" for each topic really help in organizing notes.
         
When I was done with the discussion, I had a potential "to do" list of 11 items, one for each of the surviving Alliance races, three for the unknown races, one for the Zoq-Fot-Pik homeworld, one for the Spathi homeworld, and one for the possible ancient race. I rolled a random number and landed on the Mmrnmhrm.

To make a long story short, my expedition to their home system, Virginis, was a waste of time. None of the four stars had any sign of energy or ships. (It was lucrative for minerals and life form scans, however.) I therefore headed for Procyon and the site of their last known battle. There, I found a red shield around the second planet of the system, and a space station in orbit around the planet.

When I approached the space station, my away team reported that it was deserted except for maintenance robots. From what they could tell, the Ur-Quan set up the same thing at Procyon that they did on Earth: the Mmrnmhrm and Chenjesu were confined to the shielded planet, with a rotating crew brought to the space station for several years at a time. However, just as on Earth, the supply ships stopped visiting the station, so the Chenjesu and Mmrnmhrm crewmembers somehow figured out a way to penetrate the shield and return to their colleagues on the planet. There were also indications that the two races were exploring ways to create a hybrid Chenjesu-Mmrnmhrm being.
             
I'm not sure how you create a half-crystal, half-robot.
         
The findings have a lot of implications, particularly if there's a way to penetrate the barriers. But I couldn't figure out anything else to do in this system, and it didn't give me any new leads, so the expedition was also a bit of a waste of time.

I was dogged throughout this process by the Slylandro. I think they attacked me four times between Earth, Virginis, Procyon, and back to Earth. By the time I limped back to the starbase, I had 26 crewmembers out of an original 100, and there were more ships chasing me through hyperspace that I fortunately managed to avoid. At each encounter, my contact options got increasingly desperate, from selections like "We are from Earth, on a mission of peace" to "Is there something wrong? We seem to be miscommunicating" to "We too come in peace! Please believe us!" But no matter what I chose, they just kept initially claiming peace and then suddenly changing their moods.
            
The four black dots on the mini-map represent enemy ships chasing me.
          
I was in for a bit of a surprise when I got back to the starbase after this futile expedition. The commander said that he'd analyzed my contact with the Slylandro, and they were the same species that destroyed the Tobermoon in the introduction. I didn't put that together because they were described as "black as midnight" or something in the intro, and they've been red or orange or green when I've encountered them. Anyway, if that's the case, then the same probes must be bedeviling the Ur-Quan, too. Commander Hayes suggested we try to find their source and stop them but didn't offer any clues along those lines.
         
Sure, I'll get right on that after I defeat the Ur-Quan.
         
0 for 2 on my attempts to advance the plot, I rolled the dice again and landed on the Shofixti. Yes, they apparently destroyed their own system to avoid surrendering to the Ur-Quan, but I figured visiting the system might still be useful, if for no other reason than to see how the game graphically depicts the destroyed worlds.

There are five stars in the Gorno cluster. At the first one I visited, I saw a little ship darting around. I approached, and it turned out to be piloted by a Shofixti! He introduced himself as Tanaka. Unfortunately, he'd been driven mad by the loss of the rest of his race. He refused to accept my pleas that we were allies, not Ur-Quan, and attacked us. I destroyed him in one shot. Reflecting that there must have been a better way--perhaps one of the other dialogue options--I reloaded, but I was back on Earth and my time to play games had run out. We'll have to check it out next time.
            
Is a "roof-rabbit" like a "trash panda"?
         
Despite what seems like very little progress, I am still very much enjoying the game. They seem to have taken the best parts of Starflight, including the open exploration, the nonlinear plot, and the sense of wonder and mystery within the galaxy. I love the excitement of arriving at each new system, not knowing exactly what I'll find, or even if I've interpreted the clues correctly. I love piecing together my next move from some vague allusions in a dialogue, or from references in the manual. Although I admit part of me wonders if the path is supposed to be this mysterious and open-ended, and that perhaps I missed something obvious in the opening moments.

I appreciate everyone's restraint in the comments--so far there have been no game-spoiling "hints." Please keep that up. I'd rather bungle the game and have to replay than have the next step spoiled.
       
Time so far: 11 hours


61 comments:

  1. "there must have been a better way--perhaps one of the other dialogue options"

    I can't say too much about this without spoiling, but a) yes, there is, and b) only partially.

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    1. Chet, if you are reading, I'm not sure if you actually wanted help here. If you didn't like Rowan commenting this, please make sure to state in later posts that you're SPECULATING about a better way but aren't asking if there is. I didn't think you were saying you needed help but I can see how one could read it in that way.

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    2. Rowan's kind of hint is one that I don't mind. It was clear I was going to re-engage the problem anyway, and he didn't give anything away explicitly.

      I tend to read the comments lightly until after the next session anyway, just to be sure.

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  2. In regards to your combat troubles, remember there's an escape button. It can give you time to run the hell away if you can't afford to fight. Also, in regards to the oddities destroyed on Earth where there was nothing, I think the implication is that there was something historialcally important there, and the Ur-Quan's tech was good enough to pick out locations where we never realized there was something interesting

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    1. Large areas of Iraq were settled by the ancient Mesopotamians - Babylonians, Assyrians, Sumerians, some of the oldest civilizations in history. Those weirdos who like to come up with ancient aliens theories love to refer to ancient Mesopotamia as a location visited by aliens and interpret old Sumerian myths as referring to aliens and space travel.

      As for antarctica, there's the whole theory of the nazis having discovered ancient antediluvian structures beneath it during their expedition there, and still today there are secret nazi bases beneath Antarctica, where their scientists examine the lost antediluvian technology there.

      So in that context destroying large amounts of land in Iraq and Antarctica makes sense. Those theories about ancient aliens are pretty widely known among people who enjoy conspiracy theories like that, so it's not unlikely it's a reference to that.

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  3. The sudden and annoying changes in movement are actually the secondary "attack" of the probes you're fighting. They can instantly reverse their momentum. It makes them really annoying to pin down. They're very rude like that.

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    1. The Sylandro ship is by far the hardest to fly in Super Melee mode. It also doesn't recharge its weapons normally. It must absorb the asteroid that's always flying around the map somewhere. It's just a weird ship all around.

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  4. The best way to deal with Slylandro probes, which will be super annoying for a while yet, is to just select your main ship and then hit escape to flee the battle, they disappear off the map then.

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    1. It takes a while for the ship to jump, though. I might lost 25 crewmembers in the meantime. If I'm going to lose a bunch of people anyway, I'd rather it was in the context of a victory where I actually get something for my troubles.

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    2. Also note that warping out takes a considerable amount of fuel (5 units, 100 RU worth).

      Escort vessels can warp out without fuel cost (which is sometimes useful in battles against large enemy fleets where single ship won't last through the entire battle.) but that doesn't escape from the battle, you just have to send another ship to fight in its place.

      There are a few situations in the game where escape warp with the mothership is the only option. Eg. when visiting hostile homeworlds (which have infinite number of defenders).

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    3. Obviously not helpful in this case, but if you have a larger battle with multiple enemies, engage the jump immediately after destroying one. You'll jump nearly immediately after the next battle begins.

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    1. Zardas's point here is good.

      I found myself destroying Sylandro Probes with the Earthling Cruiser.

      Have you not tried fighting with it yet, Chet? I notice you mention trying your flagship as well as the Spathi Eluder but nothing about the Earthlign Cruiser.

      With a gain of 550 RU for killing a Sylandro Probe, the battle is reasonably profitable as you tend to be able to take them out with minimal crew member losses on the Earthling Cruiser.

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    2. In super melee I lost about 50% of all battles with the cruiser against the probe even with the weak computer opponent. It is slow, the battery drains fast and the probe repeatedly dodges the missiles. But it can't hurt trying, sometimes a ship just suits you, sometimes it doesn't.

      "Maybe this can also turn out to be an opportunity to document what happens if you run out of fuel in hyperspace."

      Someone has to spacewalk to the next gas station.

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    3. What did the man say about not spoiling the next step in the game? I swear to fricken God people just cannot stop doing it. It's like Homer telling Colonel Klink that Hogan has tunnels all over his camp.

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  6. I think you should play at least a few hours ahead of your blogging with this game, because people _will_ hint you to death regarding puzzle solutions even if you didn't ask for it.

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    1. That's generally my policy with popular games anyway. I don't want to encourage spoilers, but neither do I want all of my other readers obsessing about spoilers.

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  7. I want to offer a bit of assurance in that you're "playing the game correctly".

    While the game has a time limit, keeping notes not just about where to find major features but also where things like Treasure Worlds are means you can use your resources effectively when you restart. So an info-gathering run or three (or six, twelve...) where you see what happens and what you can find is how you play when you don't have copious hints/a walkthrough on screen two. Really not a "one-and-done" sort of game, for most people.

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    1. I reached end game without save a scumming exploration at my first attempt (I did not a play iron mode either - i died a lot of course) so I would not worry.

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    2. Most people don't run into time trouble in this game. It's mostly a backstop to stop completists from playing the game "wrong".

      Still, nothing I like more than exploring random star systems. Satisfying to strip them clean for some reason. Even if they have those dumb heavy elements worth 1RP.

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    3. I also beat it my first time also within the time limit.

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  8. I might have brought up the Slylandro probes early, so apologies for that. As you found out they're fairly ubiquitous so I figured you'd already bumped into several shortly after starting. I believe I got destroyed by one about 10 minutes after leaving the Solar System for the first time.

    There's a lot I want to say about the game, its races, and the progress you're making but I don't want to spoil anything more so I'll just hush. Keep noting down coordinates of NPCs and valuable planets and you'll do fine.

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  9. The Spathi ship is really good, I promise. I found that rather than trying to see where the front of it is (it's the empty space between two large stalks), it's easier to keep track of the short rear stalk where the missiles pop out of. The missiles have very long range and aggressive tracking, so playing patiently hit-and-run style will allow them to whittle down almost anything. Essentially, you have to fight the way Spathi would - cowardly way, keeping as far away from the enemies as possible, taking potshots from a safe distance.

    Slylandro probes are infuriating, but there's a solution to them you can find. Like Chipacabra above said, the "jerks" you experience in fights are them using their ability to escape.

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    1. I think the biggest problem with the Spathi ship is the BUTT missiles only do 1 damage IIRC, so it takes a long time to win a battle that way. But it does work.

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    2. BUTT does 2 damage, the forward gun does 1.

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  10. The "rainbow worlds" the Melnorme are looking for I believe are not signalled by anything other than (a) their colour and (b) their very high resource concentration. The treasure planet in your screenshot is *not* one. If you have doubts your colourblindness will allow you to recognize one when you find it, you may wish to ask for a specific location for one or more.

    Combat should not be as hard as you are finding it. From memory, while not every ship is effective against every other type of ship, right now between Spathi, Earthlings and your flagship you should be able to handle most situations of combat against single opponents.

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    1. Just like the game tells you when you find a treasure/ruby/ocean world, it will tell you in overview screen when the it's a rainbow world.

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    2. I still don't remember seeing any yet. I assume I sell their locations automatically to the Melnorme, so I guess I'll see what happens next time I visit them.

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    3. You will need to manually sell their location. They do tend to stand out, though, if only because of their high resource value.

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    4. You sell the locations same way you sell biological data. The option IIRC is only available if you have coordinates to sell.

      And you will know when you see one of these planets. They are unusual in every possible way. Couple of them you get clues to the locations of, but most of them are just something you have to stumble on. They are very rare, you're likely to find only a few over the entire game.

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    5. Also, just to note that when you do find and orbit a rainbow world, the name of the planet does show up as that, "Rainbow World".

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    6. Thanks, sorry, people are correct that it does show the name as "Rainbow World".

      And yet I *still* completely didn't notice the first two I found on my first playback back in the day. I wonder if it was because I hadn't had the dialogue from the Melnorme that alerted me to them being special? Or just that I had a brain freeze?

      Also the fact I was noting the coordinates in the abstract rather than plotting them on a map didn't help...

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  11. The time limit is what kills this game for me. You pretty much have to suicide your first few runs just gathering information on how to actually win in time.

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    1. Use the mega mod version - it allows you to turn the limit off.

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  12. I managed to finish the game well within the time-limit on the first attempt (not counting those moments when I immediately realized I made a decision with an undesired outcome). And I am a completionist. However, it probably requires a fairly loose appriahc to the urgency of the plot, i.e. even though I get to told to do this or that immediately, just finish exploring that region of space.

    The name of the race is, as you probably have recalled since then, is "Melnorme". You may remember it, as it is related to my favourite piece of lore in the game (yet totally irrelevant for the plot).

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  13. "the Ur-Quan also destroyed some oddities like "a kilometer of land in central Iraq," several acres of Amazon rainforest, and an underground section of the Antarctic. "

    I don't remember where I read this, and I read it long ago, but the hypothesis is that this is a reference to HP Lovecraft stories. The spot in Iran is the lost location of Irem, City of Pillars, and the spot in Antarctica is the Elder Things city from At the Mountains of Madness.

    I don't know a specific lovecraft story that references the Amazon, though.

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    1. I always assumed Iraq was The Garden of Eden, and thetAmazon might be El Dorado?

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    2. That was what my thought was, as well.

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    3. The legend of Irem is older than Lovecraft's fiction, fwiw.

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    4. No you are thinking of Alien vs Predator.

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  14. The Melnorme, as it happens, were indeed named as a reference to Mel Torme. By the same token, the Androsynth have a picture in the manual (as well as the little picture in the melee screen) that is a reference to Devo.

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  15. You are not missing anything "obvious", the game is extremely open ended right from the start. You will get more clues as you work through your to-do list.

    There is only one thing you may have missed during your trip to Procyon. (Abg nyy gur fuvcf gung jrer punfvat lbh jrer Fylynaqeb...)

    Spathi is very good ship against just about everyone *except* the Slylandro probes. When you fly the Spathi, just thrust constantly. Where the exhaust dots come from is your rear, and that's also where your BUTT missiles will come from.

    The playfield zooms in and out and also wraps around, so it can be disorienting until you get used to it. The planet is the "center" of the playfield, and around it is about 2x2 (most zoomed out) screens sized rectangle that wraps. (The camera's view also wraps, so there isn't a visible hard edge.) The camera is always centered at the geometric midpoint between the two ships along the shortest possible path. (This is useful when fighting Ilwrathi that cloak. You will have at least some idea where the Ilwrathi ship is. Ilwrathi are the spiders that you met one at the Starbase, but his cloak was damaged so he never cloaks.)

    As others pointed out, fighting Slylandro is extra disorienting, because the Probe has special ability to instantly reverse direction 180 degrees. The best approach is to either flee with your flagship (ESC during combat), or shoot it with Earthling's homing missiles. Once you get certain upgrades to your flagship, it'll be able to easily deal with the Probes. So they are only a danger until about early mid-game.

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    1. "When you fly the Spathi, just thrust constantly."

      That's what she said. Also, eww.

      "Where the exhaust dots come from is your rear, and that's also where your BUTT missiles will come from."

      Yeah, that's how mine works too.

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    2. Respectfully disagree @Viila, the Spathi is an excellent Slylandro liquidator, the problem is that it takes a great deal of finesse and practice to pull off. The trick is to allow the probe to close in at just the right rate, too fast and he's up in your grill, to slow and he'll decide to warp around the other side once the missiles get close.

      Here's a video of how it's done https://youtu.be/JP7ZtF1Yc14?t=30 This guy does pretty good, but you can see even he has a bit of trouble finding the sweet spot.

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    3. I honestly never used anything *but* the Spathi to take out the Sylandro probes. For me it was always just a matter of looping around and around until the probe fell into just the right follow pattern, and from there raining BUTT missiles down on them. I am very impressed by people who can do it with other ships without massive losses!

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    4. Yes, I use Spathi as well in the early game against Slylandro, but as both of you say, it's not *easy* for a novice to do so. Especially novice who doesn't play a lot of action games.

      Earthling Cruise will take damage, but it usually will not be destroyed. The RUs you get from the probe will more than pay for the crew you lost. And remember, you can transfer crew from themothership to your escorts, or vice versa, anywhere using the manifest menu option. So if you've lost some crew in your Cruiser, you can fill it back up in the field from your mothership's crew complement.

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    5. Those are PEOPLE you're moving about like so many numbers on a spreadsheet!

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    6. All the more incentive for you to be careful during your travels.

      But, like Q in Star Trek says, the Universe is wondrous, but dangerous. You have to be able to take a bloody nose to explore it. The crewmen are all volunteers, sacrificing to help free the Earth. They know they probably won't be coming back, but if you defeat the Ur-Quan it'll be worth it.

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    7. They sure aren't valued very much, considering the life of a human being is worth a mere 3 RU, yet a unit of fuel is 20 RU.

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    8. @Viila - the real kicker is that all thr dangers we currently know about aren't the Ur-Quan or the Borg - it's the vast distances of space, every celestial body other than the Earth being devoid of organic resources to resupply, and the human desire to live near trees instead of a space station - we'll have to really iron out what we can put on a spacecraft to prevent the long-term inhabitants from becoming depressed. Even the freaking MOON is unlivable as of now.

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    9. Further to Chester's point, adding insult to injury, the game allows for the cost per replacement crewmember to go up if another source of fresh blood is not secured. PEOPLE! A limited (well OK, probably not) supply of expensive little people!

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  16. Gonna be honest, I started up a new playthrough after you started this up, though I am playing on the UQM remaster. I'm the kind of person who gets lots of gratification from being a collector in these kinds of games, so running around clearing systems of resources is a lot of fun. I've actually been making a record for myself of nearby systems with the totals of actually valuable resources and biodata. It'll definitely make things easier if I decide to stream or record this one day...

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  17. In case you were legit asking, "roof rabbit" is cat meat that someone is trying to pass off as rabbit.

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    1. That's a new one for me. I understand that a lot of people eat rabbit, I guess, but if you were trying to get me to eat cat, trying to pass it off as rabbit wouldn't really be the best strategy.

      I remember once reading an article (I wish I could find it) that pointed out that even if a Chinese restaurant (in the U.S.) was willing to risk the civil and criminal liabilities associated with serving ungraded meat, cats would cost significantly more than chickens. Is there a similar argument to be made against "roof rabbit?" It's not like rabbits have trouble breeding.

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    2. I think that's more a war/famine thing.

      "Yes, this was totally not one of the neighbourhood cats, that was a rabbit we luckily cought this day"

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    3. China has a problem with hunters who use poison-tipped crossbows with laser sights to hunt urban pets to sell to restaurants. If you're not convinced search on liveleak.com, but not if you're an animal lover.

      The incentive is, as you correctly point out, the much higher cost of cat/dog meat compared to chicken or pork.

      Delete
  18. The meat of a carnivore has a distinctive, stronger flavor than that of an herbivore. Remind me to tell you about that time when, after only a few chews, my wife and I suddenly realized that our (formerly) favorite Chinese carry-out had just sold us doggie dumplings... .

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  19. I couldn't help but wonder... the guy on Alpha Centuari VII told you to wrap things up before January, 2159... but what would "January" even mean on Alpha Centauri VII? Certainly their seasons are nothing like Earth seasons...

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  20. There's also tons of lost cities in South America: An anecdote I always liked was about the Spanish marching several times through the dense jungle making up most of Maian lands, just missing entire cities left and right, because the vegetation had overgrown them so massively over time.

    So there being ruins we never found in the Amazonas region is plausible. And Antarctica reminds me more of Lovecraft, to be honest: There was a story centered around strange alien ruins found on the continent.

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