Author Topic: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR  (Read 14518 times)

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Offline Martok

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"Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« on: August 06, 2013, 01:46:56 PM »
After endless procrastinating, tinkering, false starts, and general dithering, I'm finally getting this show on the road.  Given the interest I seem to have recently sparked in this game, I figured now was as good a time as any to do another AAR (hopefully without the technical problems this time!). 






As usual, I'll be playing BOTF with the "Balance of Power" mod (the Large Map version), along with some tweaks of my own.  The game settings are shown below: 



The game setup screen.  Most of the settings I've selected are pretty standard for my preferred style of play:  Normal difficulty, largest map size (which, with the Large Map version, means the maps are very big indeed), Elliptical galaxy, maximum number of minor races, etc. 


There are, however, two main game settings that I've recently changed when playing BOTF: 

1.)  I've bumped up the other four factions to Civilization Level 2, which not only means they start with Level 2 technology (instead of Level 1), but they start out with another star system already colonized as well (although it's usually not fully developed).  I've found this generally allows the computer opponents to be much more evenly matched against the human player, but without making them so absurdly aggressive it breaks immersion (which is what happens anytime I set the difficulty level to Hard/Impossible).   

2.)  I've also been enabling Random Events as of late.  I always have mixed feelings about this option, as a lot of the events are fun (running into "Tin Man" and the Borg), but others not so much (such as planetary climate shifts, which can cause that lush jungle world you colonized to suddenly turn into a volcanic wasteland).  The latter kind are especially irritating when you consider they become more frequent the better the player is doing.  I may or may not disable this option as the campaign progresses. 





My original plan (way back when I'd first contemplated that I might do more than one of these) was to kick things off by playing out a Cardassian AAR.  However, you'll see here I've now decided to first do a Federation campaign instead.  Given I suspect those who've recently started playing BOTF are mostly playing as the Federation, I thought this might be a little more helpful/useful for those wondering how to play and/or what to do. 

I'll generally be trying to write more of a storyline AAR (much like what SDR is currently doing in his HoI3 campaign), but early on it will likely include more mechanical explanations/demonstrations of what I'm doing (gameplay-wise) as well.  Not that this AAR is intended as a tutorial in any way -- far from it! -- but I felt some reference points might at least be appreciated by those who are interested in such things.  So for those who prefer the more story-oriented AAR's, you may want to skim through the first couple chapters.  :) 



Note:  I'll just go ahead and apologize now, but the first chapter is *very* short -- in fact, it only covers the first turn.  :-[  It's taken me considerably longer to write up both it and this intro than I'd anticipated (thanks to my stupid OCD/perfectionism >:(), and I have to get to bed fairly soon here.  (The second chapter will be more substantial, I promise!) 


And with all that out of the way, let's begin! 

[Additional note:  Going forward, out-of-story comments will be in bracketed italics like this.] 

« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 12:46:37 PM by Martok »
"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces

Offline Martok

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2013, 01:49:41 PM »
Chapter One:  Reaching for the Stars



Earth and her human inhabitants had been through a rough couple centuries: over-industrialization & environmental devastation, the economic, political, & cultural upheaval associated with that, three World Wars (the last of which nearly destroyed us for good) associated with *that*, and more. 





[The Sol system.  As you can see, all four inner planets start out already terraformed and inhabited (as indicated by the green letter under each).  Pluto (it was still classified as a planet back when the game came out) is potentially habitable, but it needs to be terraformed first (as indicated by the red letter underneath it).  Gas giants are not habitable (or in any other way usable) in BOTF, and in fact the Balance of Power mod eliminates them entirely (with the obvious exception of the Sol system itself).] 





[A zoomed out view of the galactic map.  Being so close to the edge isn't completely ideal -- it somewhat reduces the potential number of star systems to colonize -- but it does provide a measure of security.  I can at least be assured no one can come at me from the north!] 



However, things had finally begun to turn around for our mother planet and Humanity in the last few decades.  A true planetary-wide government came into being, and concurrent with that, a massive across-the-board improvement in living conditions.  By the end of the 21st century, chronic problems such as poverty, under-education, pollution, disease, and political/religious extremism had virtually ceased to be a major concern.  New technologies allowed us to begin settling the other inner rocky worlds of the solar system and explore the furthest edges of known space.  An unprecedented wave of optimism swept over the planet. 


Perhaps most significant of all, however, was Zephan Cochrane and his discovery of the "warp drive".  With it, we could finally break free of the speed-of-light barrier which had so long constrained us...and which we now felt we could at last do with a free & easy conscience. 

When Cochrane's research -- including his successful warp flight test -- was made public, the response was overwhelming.  The United Earth government (prompted by an eager & enthusiastic population) wasted no time in supporting his work.  After several years of strenuous (but ultimately rewarding) effort, construction of two ships was finally completed:  The USS Tinalynn and the USS Sakai




[The USS Tinalynn is the first of the Edward-class colony ships to be built.] 


The Tinalynn provided the necessary space & facilities to transport millions of people to colonize an alien planet, including extensive terraforming equipment.  While everyone agreed it was a grand achievement, some people questioned the wisdom & necessity of building a colony vessel so soon, as there were (for the moment) no known extra-solar worlds on which humans could settle. 

However, both the newly-formed Starfleet and the UE government recognized that one would have to be built sooner or later -- if only as a proof-of-concept model -- and they'd had no real idea at the outset exactly how long it would take to complete construction.  In addition, the Tinalynn would be useful as a testbed for some of the more recently-implemented technologies our scientists had come up with.  Indeed, Starfleet had already decided to send the Tinalynn out to distant Pluto - which (unlikely as it seemed) was believed could be made habitable for humans -- where it could test out the new (and as yet unproven) terraforming equipment. 





[The Miranda-class starship (of which the USS Sakai is one), first made famous in The Wrath of Khan.] 


On the other hand, the Sakai caused considerably more excitement & enthusiasm.  Although officially designated a "destroyer" by Starfleet and bearing modest weaponry & defenses, it was clear from the beginning that the Sakai's primary mission would be one of exploration; it was almost impossible to overstate the way it stirred up the populace's collective imagination.  After its official launch, the Sakai deployed almost immediately to the nearby star system to the galactic "south" of Sol -- the first Earth vessel to travel outside of our home system. 



With that, humanity's new adventure into the "Great Beyond" had begun.  Time would soon tell what awaited us out there... 





[Unfortunately, that's all I have for now.  (Sorry, but I really need to get to sleep here!)  There's lots more coming, though; I already have more than enough material for at least the next couple chapters after this.  Stay tuned!] 

« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 12:57:20 PM by Martok »
"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces

Offline mirth

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2013, 01:58:28 PM »
Awesome. Thanks Martok!
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Offline Steelgrave

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2013, 02:16:35 PM »
This just became a "must read" thread. Thanks, Martok!

Offline W8taminute

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2013, 02:32:41 PM »
Posting here to track this bad boy.  Looks great!
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Offline TheCommandTent

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2013, 03:21:17 PM »
Very cool Martok!
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Offline Anguille

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2013, 12:17:33 AM »
Excellent!

Offline besilarius

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2013, 04:54:49 AM »
Very nice, and very immersive.
Thank you for taking the time and effort.  Much appreciated.
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Offline Shelldrake

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 07:55:37 AM »
Outstanding! I am looking forward the next installment. :-)
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Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2013, 09:35:47 AM »
Very cool, thanks for doing this!

Offline Martok

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2013, 01:07:19 PM »
Thanks everyone (and you're welcome)!  I'm just glad you guys like it.  :) 


I've started working on the next entry, but I'm afraid it won't be ready til probably tomorrow.  In addition to the mountain of text I always seem to produce when writing these things, I'm also trying to figure out exactly how to work in the umpteen gazillion screenshots I took.  (I may have gone a little overboard...)  ::) 

"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces

Offline W8taminute

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2013, 02:25:33 PM »
I've found that when trying to write an AAR one always takes more screenshots than they possibly need.  I think the reason why my AARs aren't that good is because I try to use all of the images I take.  Filtering down the ton of material that you have is key.

At least that's been my experience, and the reason why I tend to shy away from writing AARs. 
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Offline Martok

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2013, 03:27:05 PM »
Thanks for the advice W8taminute.  I'm starting to think that as well. 

"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces

Offline BanzaiCat

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2013, 03:34:30 PM »
I would assume most of us are familiar with BotF to avoid having a screenshot for every little event; I'd just stick to the major ones that would serve to highlight your narrative. Like meeting the Cardassians for the first time. (Not that they'd be your neighbors...) Or, new technologies you've discovered, ground-breaking starship classes, new and tasty alien races to exploit and occu-I mean, meet and ally with.

Offline Martok

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Re: "Ex Astris, Scientia": a Birth of the Federation AAR
« Reply #14 on: August 10, 2013, 04:49:11 AM »
Okay, I'm finally getting close to finishing the next chapter!  Will have it posted later this morning. 




I would assume most of us are familiar with BotF to avoid having a screenshot for every little event; I'd just stick to the major ones that would serve to highlight your narrative. Like meeting the Cardassians for the first time. (Not that they'd be your neighbors...) Or, new technologies you've discovered, ground-breaking starship classes, new and tasty alien races to exploit and occu-I mean, meet and ally with.

Overall, I'm in agreement with you. 

It's just that there are at least a couple folks here who are either playing BOTF for the first time, and/or haven't played in quite some while.  Partly because of that, I wanted to try and discuss/show my gameplay style a little bit in the first couple entries (in addition to the regular narrative), which necessitates (or at least strongly warrants) additional screenshots. 


That being said, I've already cut down by quite a bit the number of screenies I was originally planning to include in this next chapter.  And once I get a little further into the AAR, I'll pretty much only be showing screenshots of the "important" stuff (as you suggested). 

« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 04:54:38 AM by Martok »
"Like we need an excuse to drink to anything..." - Banzai_Cat
"I like to think of it not as an excuse but more like Pavlovian Response." - Sir Slash

"At our ages, they all look like jailbait." - mirth

"If we had lines here that would have crossed all of them. For the 1,077,986th time." - Gusington

"Government is so expensive that it should at least be entertaining." - airboy

"As long as there's bacon, everything will be all right." - Toonces