[MOD] The Antares Expanse (Beta Release v0.5)

Ladies and gentlebeings of the GSB forums, I hereby announce my current big modding project:

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[size=200]The Antares Expanse[/size]

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The Antares Expanse is a stretch of the GSB universe that is out of the way, difficult to get to, and generally uninteresting to the Great Powers and their ilk. But recently, spacefaring races have ventured out of the Expanse into the larger universe, drawing attention that may or may not prove to be hazardous to their health.

This is a pack including the following:

–> Five new races
–> 40 new hulls
–> 231 new modules (including racial and new vanilla modules)
–> 10 new scenarios (including at least one survival mission)

[Author’s Note: These numbers are approximate and will be updated as progress on the mod continues.]

I have drawn inspiration from a large number of sources, though much of what appears will be translated through the cracked lens of my own mental faculties. Award yourself 5 bonus points (and take a drink, if you are so inclined) each time you identify an homage or shout-out contained within the Expanse.

At the moment the mod consists largely of ship sprites and high concept. But work is proceeding apace and I will put updates here as frequently as makes sense.

[size=125]CURRENT VERSION[/size] (effective 2013-07-06): Beta Release v0.5 currently available here: http://www.mediafire.com/download/dr1q80rrol8dosu/The_Antares_Expanse_Beta_Release_v0.5.zip

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Is that all you’re going to tell us?” Never fear, my faithful friends, but instead look below for enlightenment…

EDIT: New Antares material!!!

Starting with version 0.6, the Antares Expanse departs from the everyday technology used by the rest of the GSB universe and reveals the shared gadgets the Arcadians, Corannans, Xaan, Soros and Savants use at home. The progress log below shows how well that effort is moving along.

[size=150]Progress Log - Antares Vanilla Tech[/size]
Turrets: Turret Mapping 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Sprites 100%; Coding 100%

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The Arcadian Confederation is a cosmopolitan group of five spacefaring races - along with a few dozen minor races ground under their heels. They are politically ruthless and suffer from chronic backstabbing disorder. Most non-Arcadians wonder how the hell the Confederation works at all. The answer is very simple - outsiders! While the Arcadian member races take every opportunity to knee each other in the groin, they still share a patriotic bond that unites them - at least long enough to smash any foreigners they come across. Don’t expect the unity of an Arcadian assault fleet to last any longer than it takes to reduce the last enemy ship to scrap - the survivors who make it back to report to the senate will all claim victory while “grieving” the loss of their allies.

At least the constant internecine squabbling keeps the shipwrights happy.

The Arcadians have 2 fighters, 2 runabouts (large fighters), 4 frigates, 3 cruisers, and 1 dreadnought.

Mechanically, the Arcadians have some quick missiles with generally low damage payloads and a few other special toys. Here are the major themes that set them apart from the crowd:

Achilles Targeting Unit and Structural Analyzer: These modules are intended to make the Target Booster type of module actually worthwhile.

Automatic Repair Unit: This repair module works extremely fast and is hard to interrupt, but has a limited size and as such burns out pretty quickly.

Advanced Damage Control: An alternative to the ARU, this repair system is integrated throughout the ship, allowing it to store a huge amount of supplies. Its decentralized nature, however, makes it very slow.

Lightning Field: An anti-fighter weapon that spews lightning at high speed, dealing very little damage per shot but capable of smacking a fighter three or four times before it can get out of range. Very close range weapon designed to take out fighters already under your shields.

Stasis Field: A super-duper version of your standard tractor beam, the stasis field can bring nearly anything to a standstill, and with multiple projectors, just one or two will protect a big swath of your fleet. It takes a fair amount of power and crew, but carries a surprisingly low amount of weight.

Mauler Device:This cruiser-only beam is very accurate and fires several pulses before a long cool-down period. It has a pretty long range, but its optimum range is only slightly greater than its minimum. It packs quite a wallop when it hits.

[size=150]Progress Log[/size]
Ships: Sprites 100%; Damage 100%; Hulks 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Turrets 100%; Sprites 100%; Coding 100%
Scenarios: Backgrounds 50%; Coding 0%

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Corannans are the most honest people you will ever meet. Unfailingly, brutally honest. This has won them about as many friends as you might expect. Centuries of being shot at for telling people exactly what they think of your new hat has bred an element of conflict into the very fabric of Corannan society. Say “hello” to a Corannan, and he will assume you are taking offense to what he says (even if he hasn’t spoken yet), and will endeavor to knock you down before you can return the favor. The government of the Corannan Union operates on very simple principles: everyone speaks their mind openly and honestly, and then the representatives beat the hell out of each other for real and perceived slights. The last conscious man in the chamber gets the winning vote.

While they won’t be winning any civic prizes anytime soon, the Corannan propensity for violence serves them well on the battlefield.

The Corannan fleet includes 2 fighters, 3 frigates, and 3 cruisers.

The Corannans are largely torpedo-happy, with a few low-powered beams to fill in the mix. Overall they are characterized by fairly slow/unreliable weapons (read: missiles and plasma) that pack a hell of a wallop when they actually hit. Their cruisers tend to half hardpoints, half standard slots; most Corannan ships have hull and armor bonuses - they appreciate the value of defense and toughness (though they think most shields are for wimps). Notable technologies include:

Inertial Stabilizer and Inertial Nullifier: These engine modules provide low thrust, but have a negative weight. How effective this is depends on how much weight you pile on the ship for them to counter.

Shield Capacitor: This Corannan shield has very little strength, but recharges at an insane rate. It also carries a reduced stacking penalty compared to other shields.

Troop Pods: This new crew compartment is bare-bones, providing a high number of crew with slightly reduced weight and moderately reduced power requirements and cost.

Quantum Detonator: The Corannans have developed a special power plant that is tremendously efficient but notoriously unstable. Corannan ships so equipped explode with surprisingly powerful force when destroyed, crushing nearby ships.

[size=150]Progress Log[/size]
Ships: Sprites 100%; Damage 100%; Hulks 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Turrets 100%; Sprites 100%; Coding 100%
Scenarios: Backgrounds 0%; Coding 0%

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The Xaan Solidarity is a bizarre culture formed of genetically identical beings. In ages past the Xaan “bioformed” other living creatures into fellow Xaan, while incorporating any positive genetic traits the new “host” might possess. Nowadays, they’ve found that resequencing dead DNA is just as easy for them as live, and the dead ones don’t put up such a fight. The Solidarity thinks nothing of losing a few hundred warm bodies in order to kill a thousand of the enemy, since they can rebuild all the dead into new, productive members of Xaan society.

The most bizarre thing about the Xaan is their utter reliance on protocol for everything. If a Xaan encounters a new situation, either an existing protocol must be justified (using Operations Protocol DDJ), or a request must be made to “Mother”, a massive repository of Xaan genetics on the homeworld, to generate a new protocol (through Communications Protocol 15G, Operations Protocol M59, and Analysis Protocol 11R). There are over four billion Xaan protocols for anything from a simple hello (Encounter Protocol 1Y9) to the proper greeting for an angry godlike being determined to wipe out your planet (Encounter Protocol MM3) and everything in between.

The Xaan have 2 fighters, 2 frigates, and 2 cruisers. Lack of variety is part of the Xaan modus operandi.

The defining characteristic of the Xaan is the small size of their ships. Not only are these ships physically small, but they have a respective reduction in the number of slots they carry (including a fighter that has one standard slot and one hardpoint). They do not have any cost bonus like the Swarm, simply because a Xaan ship always costs less - you can’t fit as much onto the hull in the first place. The Xaan will have an advantage on maps with high pilot count and lower budget, a serious disadvantage when the ratio skews the other way. Xaan race-specific modules tend to have pretty low crew requirements - a single crew compartment on any ship should be plenty.

The Xaan tend to have somewhat specialized weapons, as their ships are meant to work in groups. Notable tech:

Particle Beam: This beam can cut through any shield you have, but a comparatively small amount of armor will stymie it.

Interphasic Drive, Ion Drive and Hyper Drive: Since the Xaan can’t afford to slap huge numbers of engines on their ships, they have developed powerful thrusters for each hull type.

Iridium Fuel Cells, Uridium Fuel Cells and Thorium Fuel Cells: Similar to the drive problem, the Xaan have developed special ultra-efficient power systems for their miniature ships.

Damper Field: This shield has typical resistance for a Mk II shield (cruiser or frigate), with about half the strength and power requirements and around one-third the crew requirements.

[size=150]Progress Log[/size]
Ships: Sprites 100%; Damage 100%; Hulks 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Turrets 100%; Sprites 100%; Coding 100%
Scenarios: Backgrounds 0%; Coding 0%

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The Antares Expanse is chock full of exotic minerals, chemicals and plasma combinations, and no one has a better system for extracting them than the Soros Mining Consortium. Too bad for the other races of the Expanse, then, that the Soros finally got fed up with being shot at by the Corannans for delivering materials to the Arcadians, blown up by the Arcadians for doing business with the Corannans, and chased halfway to hell by the Xaan for no damn reason whatsoever. Even worse that most of the Consortium’s products were already being used to make war materiel. That hasn’t changed - except now it’s the Soros gearing up for a good slugfest. Every freighter, tanker, refinery and workpod now totes heavy mining lasers and blasting charges that work just as well against ship hulls as they do against ore-laden asteroids.

And may your gods have mercy on you if you expect the Soros to extend you a line of credit.

The Soros have 2 fighters, 1 shuttle (large fighter), 2 frigates, 1 frigate-sized station, 2 cruisers, and 1 dreadnought-sized refinery.

The Soros have a slight emphasis on defense. As miners, they have access to materials that make incredible armor - tough, light, and expensive as all hell. Their ships are on the large side and tend to have slight speed penalties, since freighters and tankers are not designed for speed or style. Their slots may lean a bit toward standard over hardpoint (though probably not to Imperial extents). Notable tech:

Radiation Deflector and Flux Shield: Soros shields are intended to block harmful radiation over long periods. They have very low resistance but extremely high strength. The resistance-0 fighter shield has no recharge capacity.

Mining Laser: This close beam doesn’t handle shields well, but slices through armor with ease. The narrow beam deals very little damage, but its fire interval is pretty short.

Ion Pulse Cannon: The inverse of the mining laser, the Ion Pulse Cannon smacks down shields like a hammer through a china shop. It is intended to scramble ship systems, so even paper-thin armor will block most of its effects.

Fusion Charge and Neutron Charge: The Soros have taken their mining explosives and strapped simple engines on them. These types of rockets fire pretty quickly and deal a fair amount of damage, but the range is short even compared to standard rockets. Both types of rocket come in an overloaded variety depending on ship class.

[size=150]Progress Log[/size]
Ships: Sprites 100%; Damage 100%; Hulks 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Turrets 100%; Sprites 100%; Coding 100%
Scenarios: Backgrounds 50%; Coding 0%

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No one in the Antares Expanse ever quite knew what to make of the Savant Council. Sentient beings who voluntarily have their brains extracted, enhanced, and plugged into any number of bizarre bits of machinery for some unknown purpose would make any right-thinking person twitchy. But for most of the Council’s recorded history, they’ve kept to themselves, occupying three small unwanted systems at the edge of the Expanse, their only real interaction with the greater universe taking the form of their Galactopedia Scientis - an all-around useful work of reference. So the rest of the Expanse tolerated them, preferring not to waste effort that was better spent shooting at each other.

Until now.

Hordes of Savant node-ships have poured out into the Expanse, bearing pulse weapons that attack ships from inside and strange beams that deliver sudden, crushing blows. Now the ominous blue glow of Savant oculars means more than just “we’re being watched” - now it’s an invitation to a slaughter as deceptively delicate matrices of dark metal and blue plasma hurtle from the darkness to sterilize the universe.

The Savants have 1 fighter drone, 2 frigates, 1 cruiser-class node, and 1 dreadnought-sized master node.

Their weapons tend to favor radiation payloads and short-range defensive measures. Notable tech:

Death Spores and Bio-Terminator: New radiation missiles whose payload is limited, but can fire very quickly. Death Spores are mounted on fighters and their radiation payload burns out quickly.

Neutron Blaster and Death Ray: These radiation-bullet weapons fire in short bursts, spraying death at enemies from medium range.

Stellar Converter: The Savants’ only real long-range weapon, this hefty beam is slow to fire, only moderately precise, and can easily smash a frigate with one shot. Even heavily-shielded cruisers will want to stay away from this one.

Hard Shields: This power-intensive shield has high resistance for its ship class and a decent regeneration rate, but very little strength.

Pulsar and Gravity Compressor: Flak guns that do almost no damage with the bullet, but the AoE pulse is much more effective. Fairly short range, so good for stomping fighters already under your shields - as long as you’re willing to take the small flak hit.

Stealth Field: A cloak for frigates that allows longer periods of invisibility than the standard cloak, with moderate periods of ship activity. In concert with this, the Savants will have a Neutron Blaster and a shield disruptor capable of firing from under cloak.

[size=150]Progress Log[/size]
Ships: Sprites 100%; Damage 100%; Hulks 100%; Coding 100%
Modules: Turrets 100%; Sprites 100%; Coding 100%
Scenarios: Backgrounds 100%; Coding 0%

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Congratulations on your new creative venture!

The scope of work looks very ambitious; be on guard against “mission creep”. Sometimes less is truly more. :wink:

I’m curious to see how you’re going to set up these races against one another in a tactical sense. And what sort of compatibility do you tentatively expect them to have (or not to have) against the official races?

Oh man, so much cool stuff here! i just cant wait to the final release! =D

Looking fordward to the mod release =D

Thanks! I had noticed that while there is activity going on here in the forums, it’s starting to taper off a bit. Seems like a good time to introduce a new project. :slight_smile:

Don’t I know it. Fortunately, the goal is that while the entire mod seems like a huge endeavor, each of the races should be a reasonably tightly-tuned instrument.

I’m a bit curious myself. :wink: As mentioned, right now I’m heavy on concept, light on execution. But the “concept” part is reasonably focused and hopefully just needs implemented and tuned to perfect pitch. I suspect I’ll be getting plenty of advice/suggestions from the forum as I get further into development and post more quantified data from the mod testing as well (that’s a hint for all you lurkers out there).

My hopes are that the races of the Expanse will be reasonably balanced against the Great Powers, though I expect there will be some give-and-take on that goal. I have to admit that a couple of my preliminary module lists seem to give a possibility of “moderate against most of the Great Powers, a bit nasty against the [insert race here]”, which I think is OK as long as I’m not beating up too much on any one race. I suppose time will tell.

Probably later today I will update the race info posts with some mechanical data as well - the general types of modules/ships to be expected from each race, the way they are intended to play, etc. I felt that the flavor bits made for a better intro (largely because they were pretty well fleshed out already; the same can’t be said for all of the mechanics).

EDIT: Some preliminary data regarding the races’ in-game capabilities has been added. I welcome any comments regarding issues for concern, etc. And keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive description of what’s planned, just the stuff that’s pretty well defined at this point in the mod design.

Firstly good luck! Secondly it sounds awsome and i would very much llike to see some of those ships! :smiley:

Okay, after a few weeks of being somewhat sidelined by real-life pressures and seasonal illness, I am back at work on the Expanse. I have added some little “progress log” snapshots to each of the race posts at the start of the thread to give folks an idea of how far along things are.

Don’t let all the 0s fool you, though. I may not have started to churn out the code for the modules, but much of it is jotted down or at least formed up in my head. I started with the graphics because for me, that’s one of the longest parts.

Keep an eye out and I’ll do my best to keep the progress logs updated frequently.

EDIT: You may note that all the “ship sprites” progress logs now read 100%. All ships are now completed in graphic design (though damage textures and hulks have still not been created). Lists of the # of hulls of each type have been added to the race entries.

FURTHER EDIT: Progress is being made on various chunks of this mod as the numbers in the above posts show. Right now I’m focusing mostly on the Xaan, to get their midget ships and various modules done up for some in-game testing. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some quick screenshots before much longer.

Progress has been made! I give you the capital ships of the Xaan Solidarity:

This shot has Alliance ships in frame so you can compare the ship sizes. The two Xaan ships in the center are their cruisers; the outer ships are frigates.

Here’s a slightly closer view:

The Xaan frigates each have 6 slots (3/3 and 2/4); the cruisers have 8 (4/4) and 10 (5/5) respectively. This completely random collection of ships managed to take out all 3 Alliance frigates on the tutorial before succumbing to cruiser weapons. And that’s without any racial weapons.

There are also 2 Xaan fighter hulls that will be previewed very soon.

Right now I’m focusing on getting the Xaan completely coded up and functional because they’re the easiest of the five Expanse races to do (small hulls = less work). I am also, however, coding up some of the modules for the other races as I go, so hopefully the jumps forward will come at a faster pace (with some of the ground work already done). As always, I welcome comments, thoughts etc.

in short, i love them.
in long, i looooooooooooooooooooove them =D xD

I love the enthusiasm! :slight_smile:

I’ve applied some color-coding to the progress logs above to make them a bit easier to track. I think at this point that I will probably do several beta release points of the Expanse, one each time I finish coding/initial balancing of one race. That way I can provide some new toys for the modding community as I work, plus hopefully get a jump on environment-testing each race (and any fixes that get applied along the way as well).

So with a little luck, before week’s end you too can make fleets of little swarming aquamarine spaceships!

I like this and look forward to be a tester on this. Lets see I think I’d need to make ANOTHER install for gsb JUST for this mod. sigh I with you were able to setup a different place for each install of gsb via config file. Oh well I will live with it

UPDATE: The Xaan Solidarity is fully functional and available for beta testing. Link is in the first post.

For those who like to play around with such things, please let me know if there are problems with the download as well as any functional issues you find in-game. More feedback means a better mod experience for everybody! :slight_smile:

I came I downloaded and then got to thinking, Mmmm I wonder what would happen if I do this this and this. And I created A heavy fighter.

I hope that this does not offend and You are more than welcome to use this and edit if more/clean it up ect ect…
I still have the dds file still also :slight_smile:

That is a pretty slick design there. Of course, the Xaan already have heavy fighters - they call them frigates. :wink:

I like the design, though I think I’ll hold off on adding more hulls until I’ve got a better idea if the Xaan have any serious gaps in their coverage. I’ll keep it in mind, though. Nice work!

LOl heavy fighters are Frigates nice one there. But those kind of heavy fighters only come in ones where as these can go as high as 16 if i member right. But Sure thing. I have taken notice to a few areas that are a little messed up and may tinker some more. I am glad you liked what i did.

Informational Post: In looking through the Xaan files, I have discovered a few slight errors - couple of typos in the modules, etc. The most glaring is that apparently I didn’t bother to set the costs for the various hulls correctly.

However …

Seeing as this is an initial beta release with further releases expected - and I don’t think any of the errors are horrible show-stoppers - absent any serious complaints from the beta-testing crowd (however large or small it may be), I am going to put off releasing the corrected files until beta v0.2, when I add the next race.