Author Archives: Nick

The Civilians of Xenia’s Ark

 

       An empire can have the greatest military in the entire universe, but if its civilians aren’t motivated and organized, the empire will never prosper. Military units are designed to destroy and conquer, they have no long term imperial strategies. Civilians  conquer in a different way by taming the wild unknown lands around them. Specialized workers, or engineers, are able to build structures and defend their territories, while explorers go forth and find new worlds, bringing the culture and workings of their empire to new unknown races. The Empire’s military may make victory possible in the short term, but it is only through an empire’s civilians that they are able to thrive and prosper from generation to generation.

    Civilians may not be martial fighters, but they contain the courage necessary to bring an empire to new and possibly hostile worlds. The colonists are the vanguards of civilized society, and they bring new life to distant frontiers.  Engineers are builders of society, specialized workers who create physical infrastructures. The Great Leaders organize and govern these colonists on distant worlds. Colonists will take an untamed wilderness on a foreign planet, extract its resources, and turn it into a large metropolis, creating new centers of power in an empire.

    While colonists and engineers build new outposts for an empire on planets and in space, explorers go even further into the abyss. Colonists may be the first citizens to tame hostile new lands, but it is explorers who are the first civilians to set eyes on these new lands. Explorers push the bounds of the known universe, charting new star systems, and, more importantly, making contact with other races and empires. Through this contact, diplomacy is established and, whether for good or ill, the fates of war and peace between empires are all set into motion.

    In the midst of empire building and exploration, arises perhaps the most powerful civilian of all — the spy. A good spy is never known, and never seen, but is able to live and work within the confines of enemy (or friendly) cities, all the while delivering crucial information back home. A spy is not part of the regular military, but is the most dedicated soldier in an empire because not only do they risk their lives through deception on a daily basis, they are also willing to sacrifice themselves at any given time, if captured by the enemy.

   The civilian class of Xenia’s Ark are the glue that holds empires together. The lowly colonists risk life and limb to grow their small frontier to a large city on distant realms. The specialized builders and engineers lay the physical groundwork while explorers and spies find and insinuate themselves into other races. Mighty Destroyer ships and Kodiak Mechs may create large swaths of destruction across the galaxy, but all know that without the efforts of simple peaceful civilians the domination of the galaxy of Xenia would not be possible.

The Titan, a Capital Achievement

“Military Glory — that attractive rainbow that rises in rivers of blood”

  -Abraham Lincoln

       Conquering the massive collection of vital resources in the galaxy will be a monumental challenge for any empire. Planetary orbits of all types and sizes will need to be guarded, light years of space between resource nodes will need to be patrolled, vulnerable space stations will need protecting, not to mention the cities sitting on the planets below. The Titan is the primary tool for this job. The Titan is a signature achievement for any empire.

        The capital ships that are built upon the Titan Hull are the ultimate space vessels, and signify amazing achievement in, not only science and innovation, but an Empire’s capacity for production. The Titan is more of a mobile battle station.  With such a large weight capacity, the customization options will be nearly infinite, as you equip massive amounts of offensive, defensive, and utility modules, and even hangar bays that allow other smaller ships to be carried inside, obscuring the actual size of an Empire’s Armada.  The Titan is the ultimate in space combat in Xenia’s Ark.

     The Titan has been the launch pad for the beginning of many wars, and surprise planetary engagements. It serves as the ultimate utilitarian outpost: able to launch offensive weapons, guard Engineers crucial to keeping battle lines repaired, and escort colonizing operations to strategic points throughout the galaxy. The Titan also serves as the ultimate forward base, with the ability to launch scouting drones, and probes on long term missions to scout sectors of space and report back.

     In addition to being a mobile battle station, the Titan Hull also serves as a diplomatic way station, as it contains many essential buildings and offices at which important strategic meetings take place, and where heads of state can live and work. The massive Titan ship has been the place through which many treaties have been signed, ending large scale wars.

     Every empire making a play for power in Xenia will have memorable events, and moments that define its rise or fall. These moments, no matter if defined by victory on the battlefield or in the diplomatic office, will always revolve around the capital ships of an Empire. And whether they are used to make war or broker peace, the Titan Ships will be necessary if one is to take control of the galaxy of Xenia.

The Kodiak and the Destroyer

“ The bigger they are…the more they hurt”

 -Morix Engineer

       In every battle, there are those units that are referred to as Elite. Units which take a lot of resources to produce and a lot is expected from them on the battlefield. The Kodiak Chassis and the Destroyer Hull are two such examples. These units are constructed by only the most knowledgeable of engineers, and require a large amount of both planetary and space resources to manufacture. They are big and slow, but immensely powerful, and have the capacity to field more weapons and modules than any other military unit, save for the Titan, which will get its own dev blog later.

     Kodiak Bears are by far the largest subspecies of brown bear —  unique in their strength and power. It is from this majestic animal that the Kodiak Chassis receives its name. A Kodiak Mech requires a great deal of resources to produce, and will not be a unit that any empire can make in great quantity. It is for this reason that every Kodiak Mech is equipped to make a difference on the battlefield. The Kodiak’s speed isn’t noteworthy, but it does come with more weight capacity than any other mech, and because of this, it can be outfitted in much more powerful ways than the smaller classes of mechs under it. Kodiaks have the power and strength to break a stalemate, and it only takes a few of them to make a large difference.  A player must also carefully consider the strategic and tactical role of the Kodiak in the larger army.  Despite the fact that the Kodiak can give and take a beating like no other mech, it will most certainly become the focus of an enemy’s attack.  The customization of a Kodiak before it is produced will be just as important as its positioning in a battle after it is produced.  And the player that is most able to bring this mighty beast to bear in a battle, will surely be the one left standing at the end.

     As the Kodiak is to ground combat, so is the Destroyer to space combat.  It is as its name implies. These ships Destroy any other ships they come into contact with. Like their planetside counterpart, the Kodiak, the Destroyer Ships are built from top to bottom for massive power. Their Hull capacities allow for more offensive, defensive, and utilities modifications than most other ships, and larger engines to power it all. The Destroyer is designed so that its very presence can demoralize enemy troops, even before firing a single shot. When it does fire, the reason for its name and reputation become evident.  Players of Xenia’s Ark would do well not to underestimate the capabilities of this large and powerful ship.

     Both the Kodiak Mech and the Destroyer ship are engineering marvels. They are the cornerstones of either ground mech armies or space fleets patrolling the stars.  A military should be built and customized to compliment and support the Kodiak and the Destroyer. Not every empire will look to dominate the galaxy of Xenia with sheer firepower and military might, but you can be sure that the ones who do will rely on the potency of the Kodiak and Destroyer.

The Planets and Their Resources

“If you think this universe is bad, you should see some of the others.”

-Philip K. Dick

     The galaxy of Xenia is vast. A multitude of planets are waiting to be colonized, conquered, and exploited. Some of these alien planets will be hospitable and easy to colonize, while other planets will be hostile and take a great deal of effort to subdue. All of these planets will contain vast resources that will be needed to do everything from feeding citizens, to generating key components for the massive weapons of the future. How these new planets are conquered and their resources collected will be the biggest factor on the path to victory in Xenia’s Ark.

 

     Imagine a critical resource sitting in the alcove of a jungle planet — a small spec in the midst of a large solar system. This resource has yet to be discovered, and nevertheless, it holds the key to victory. This resource, when extracted, will allow for the development of weapons never before seen by any race. Weapons, which when developed, will break the gridlock of the seemingly endless war between two races. This small jungle planet with its hidden resource will turn the tide of battle, and may even cause a race which was once on the verge of extinction, to reverse the course of war.

 

     Harvesting this key resource will not be an easy task. Life in Xenia’s Ark does not begin with knowledge of all things the universe has to offer. Finding this small jungle planet is only the beginning. A race landing on the planet may know something valuable is there, but will not yet know all of its practical uses. By unlocking important technologies, practical uses for resources found on many planets and throughout open space are uncovered, as well as, more efficient means of extracting those very same resources.  Going from discovery to implementation is a long journey, and many strategic choices will need to be made along the way — every choice will have its own consequences.

 

     It may be easy to guard a precious resource within the walls of your city, but at times it will be necessary to take chances and extract resources that are further away. The resources needed to build your empire will be encountered throughout space, as well as, on each of the many planets. Where and how you decide to safeguard these resources will be another important factor to consider. The galaxy of Xenia is a big place, and guarding the resources needed now, while securing the resources that will be needed in the future, will be a difficult task that will mean the difference between merely surviving (or not), or surpassing other empires on your way to victory.

 

     Once the technologies have been unlocked and the extraction of resources established, the cities closest to the extraction site will stockpile the resources from that site, and resources will be consumed as needed when units and buildings are produced by the city. They can also be traded throughout your empire, as well as, to other empires, as long as your supply lines are maintained. Defense of these supply lines will be critical because if an important planet is blockaded by the enemy, the resources coming from that planet are no longer available to your empire, and, more importantly, the crucial unit can no longer be built outside of that blockaded planet.

 

     A small jungle planet may make all the difference, but unless the resources are extracted and safeguarded properly, and the proper technologies researched, these resources will never add the necessary element to your empire’s warmachine.   Resources will be a common thread running through most aspects of the game. In addition to being the building blocks for important units and buildings, they will be fought over and secured by these same units. They will be traded between cities and across empires. Battles will be waged for them on a planet’s surface and in space, and they will be gained and lost due to political intrigue, espionage, and trade deals gone wrong. In a sense, this small small resource node in the corner of one planet can be seen as a mirror reflecting the struggle for control of the entire galaxy of Xenia.

The Orion Mech and Assault Ship

 

“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”

-Sun Tzu

 

   The Orion Class Chassis and the Assault Class Hull are the very heart and soul of the military in Xenia’s Ark. They are the core components upon which the foundation of the military is built. The Orion and the Assault are going to be the majority force in most battles, as they are meant to line up toe to toe and either hold a line, or destroy it. While supported by various other Mechs and Spaceships, these medium Chassis and Hulls can also serve many different purposes throughout Xenia.

     The Orion Chassis is a medium sized chassis built with access to energy and projectile weapons, but with no missile capabilities. Without the ability to move as quickly as the Raider, the Orion will not be as adept at hit and run attacks, but the tradeoff being that it is built tougher with more firepower, and can stand head to head with other mechs of the same or even greater size.  How a race is able to deploy these Mech will be a testament to that race’s ability, as the Orion’s uses will only be limited by imagination.

     The Assault Class Hull is the workhorse of military spacecraft. These ship hulls are not overly expensive, but like their planetary counterpart, the Assault Hull, will have a variety of possible uses. The combination of projectile and energy weapon hubs, along with an increased weight capacity over the smaller class of hulls means that these Assault ships can be fielded in battle in a variety of ways. They can be built as frontline offensive fighters, as survivable damage soakers, or even as powerful utility vehicles, but no matter how they are customized, the Assaults will be the hallmark of any military.

      In Xenia’s Ark, the Orion and Assault are the nucleus of the military.  Planetary battles along beautiful landscapes will be filled with the scattered parts of mangled Orion Mechs, while miles above in orbit, thousands of Assault Ships will fight to control space, raining destruction on the enemy. These battles will not be a simple matter of numbers, but rather a battle of innovation and tactics to see how these Spaceships and Mechs can be customized to best suit a strategic purpose.  Like all other units in Xenia’s Ark, how you design and use the Orion Mechs and the Assault Ships will be more important than how many you produce.

The Raider and the Assassin

 

“Speed is the essence of war” -Sun Tzu

     Every good military force needs a unit that can go faster and scout further with the speed and maneuverability to stay alive, while in the middle of hostile territory. The Raider and the Assassin hull types, named for their primary purpose, fill this role in Xenia’s military with ruthless efficiency.  The units in Xenia’s Ark are customizable, and the hulls and chassis will be the foundation of a ship’s design and purpose.

     The Raider Mech chassis was created primarily for scouting and raiding missions on the planet’s surface. Whether a Terran, Arid, Jungle, or any other planet type, the Raider chassis are light enough to build speedy and lethal machines from. The primary offensive force of the Raider is energy and missile weapons,  which allow for ranged attack. Paired with the fastest movement speed of any of the mechs, it becomes a unit that can get in and out of tight spots quickly.

     The Assassin Hull is an essential tool for your space fleet that fills the same purpose in space that the Raider chassis does on the planet’s surface. The ships built on the Assassin Hull will allow the player to cross the stars of Xenia to get to important places in the nick of time. Much like the Raider Mech chassis,  Assassin  ships will also allow for tons of strategic possibilities for the player through the modules built on top of them.

     In Xenia’s Ark, there will be extended battles that spread, not only across an entire planet, but also throughout the space around the planet.  Massive ships will fight for control of the space stations above, while colossal mechs battle for control over resources and cities on the planets below.  While these units can face off in a protracted struggle for ages, it is the smaller, faster, more maneuverable forces like the Raider Mech on the ground, who can capture a key resource or city, or the Assassin Ship in space, who can spot enemy positions and find weak spots in the enemy’s defenses that can truly turn the tide of battle, and even the war for control of Xenia.

The Military of Xenia’s Ark

     We all dream of peace and harmony throughout the galaxy, and we build our militaries only as a defensive force….right?

 

     Who am I kidding, everyone who steps into the world of space strategy has a desire to conquer, and even though it isn’t the only option, military might in Xenia’s Ark is an important tool  to achieving galactic domination.

 

     When we started developing Xenia’s Ark,  we wanted to create a game in which the military units that you build could  be unique and specialized,  but would not become obsolete  as the game progressed. What we came up with to achieve this goal was a system of unit construction that is modular and customizable.

 

     Players can  build their military units on top of the major hull and chassis and custom fit them with specialized modules designed to do the task at hand. These hull and chassis types, both for land based Mechs as well as spacecraft, are balanced against each other to be  completely viable throughout the course of the game. Retrofitting a Raider chassis you built 100 turns ago with a newer weapons module will keep your Mech viable against anything that will be thrown at you in the future. With a slew of offensive, defensive and specialized utility modules to custom fit on your hulls and chassis, the combinations are nearly endless.

 

     What types of weapons systems will you fit your Assassin Class hull with to zip across the galaxy? Will you stack missiles and energy weapons for maximum offensive capabilities, or will you play a more subtle role as a stealthy scout ship by adding on a cloaking module? You will be faced with these types of choices for every ship and mech that you outfit for your military, and these decisions will determine the success or failure of your military strategy.

The Problem of Scope

Planetary conquest is only the beginning

     This planet is covered with an amazing amount of varied settings and locales. There are frozen tundras filled with ice that never melts, and  scorched deserts beaten by our relentless sun day after day. There are  areas of tropical paradise with thousands living in luxury, yet we also have thousands scraping by in misery and poverty. This planet tells many stories. Conquest, building, rebuilding, domination and destruction all live here. It is no wonder that there are so many great games staged here.  One planet, however, has limitations. It is only 1 tiny portion of the galaxy, and does not come close to reaching the vastness of space. The exploration and exploitation of billions of miles of light, anomalies, other stars, and living species requires us to move beyond one simple planet.

Widening the lens

    In order to fully capture the essence of what a 4X game is, we have to think big. We cannot be locked in and sitting on one single planet.  We have to find other species, other planets, and other stars. Mastering strategic elements that come with moving into the eternal vacuum of space will be the hallmark of our new strategy.  We have to exploit the anomalies and explore what the other species have to offer. We will move as far and as fast as we can, taking everything and growing our empire along the way, but we cannot forget about each planet’s surface either.

Putting it together

    We need to look at the galaxy as a collection of planets within space, but  at the same time see each planet and its land as a different battlefield. The tactics and strategy required to conquer  the many light years of space is very different than the traditional tactics of conquering and thriving on a planet’s solid surface. You cannot forsake one for the other. A true master of conquest will need adaptable strategies both on a planet’s surface  and in space. You may have a mastery of  the space around a planet, and may even have a blockade around said planet, but to truly control each planet (or more importantly the resources on it) you will need to land your ships and adopt new strategies for the surface. It is within this massive scope that the world of Xenia’s Ark is realized.

A small probe in the middle of a lush jungle

    Imagine a small circular probe, no larger than a small domestic cat, zipping across a jungle planet’s surface at amazing speeds. This is the last remaining probe, the only one left of hundreds that began this mission. Many of these probes were shot down by ships fighting  in this solar system, or were collateral damage while flying through the atmosphere of a few planets on the way to their target. Despite the odds, this one probe made it to the target planet on a last ditch mission of hope to discover a critical resource.

  Instantly, the direction of the war changes. The lucky probe sends out a priority message. Many ships in the armada are diverted to create a hole in the blockade to allow a landing party to immediately begin harvesting of this new resource. Native hostile races, as well as the difficulties of getting through the blockade, make this mission’s success all but impossible. Ultimately, it is through the covert actions of spies and sabotage that the difference is made, and a foothold is finally gained on the jungle planet. Key battles are won with the new weapons powered by this rare resource. Forces, both on the planet and in space, work together to push the adversary to the brink of extinction.  But a remnant remains. This is one galaxy in an infinite space -millions of stars and planets- any one of which could allow the adversary to land and build their home in order to make a new start, and seek their revenge.