Issue 36 - April 2009
|Introduction||A Few Words from the Editor...|
|X3: Terran Conflict 2.0||The Wait is Over!|
|X3 Gold Edition||Grab It While You Can!|
|X Uplink Gets Personal||Game Stats Now in Forum Profiles!|
|Dead is Dead is Alive!||Living Dangerously Gets Popular|
|Farnham's Legend||Helge's Classic is Published in Russian!|
|Credits & Contacts:||The Uninteresting Bit at the End|
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A Few Words from the Editor...
Welcome to X-Universe News, Edition 36! In this edition we bid official welcome to X3: Terran Conflict - The Aldrin Missions and also to all of the new players of the game in the United States. This side of the pond, we've been playing it and breaking it since last October, so we hope that new players appreciate the effort and time that's been invested into helping in the evolution from version 1.0.1 to version 2.0. We also see the launch of X3: Gold Edition in Germany and some other EU countries. We take a closer look at the Personal Uplink that was mentioned in recent news, hopefully you'll find that interesting. Nuklear-Slug also kindly put some time aside to tell us more about his Dead-is-Dead gaming so fans of Squiddy McSquid should keep reading to find out what he's got to say. We also bring you some news of the release of Farnham's Legend in Russian.
The Wait is Over!
X3: Terran Conflict - The Aldrin Missions is now available! For those US fans who don't use Steam, the wait to get their hands on a boxed DVD copy of the game is finally over - welcome to Terran Conflict! After what seems a long time since update 1.4, X3: Terran Conflict 2.0, featuring The Aldrin Missions, is also now available to existing players. As is normally the case, the 2.0 update can be downloaded from the X3TC download area of the EGOSOFT website while Steam users' games will be updated automatically by their Steam client.
X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 – The Aldrin Missions features a host of new missions and more great content, as well as considerable effort having been put into rectifying a few issues.
With the Aldrin Missions, we see further expansion of Aldran and Terran space, with new opportunities to buy and build some Terran factories. A new Terran ship variant also comes into play and Experimental Electro-Magnetic Plasma Cannons get their own fab. The player will also have the opportunity to build drone factories. There have been some other improvements made to station-building cutscenes, build-mission rewards, credit for player-owned ship kills in some fight missions, and shipyard info for station production. From a technical point of view, support for computers using more than 2GB of RAM has also been added in this update.
In terms of notable fixes, the lazy Universal Traders have been given a kick and introduced robustly to some new business practice, as you can see in SymTec's recent Blog entry. Towing of stations and ships has been improved, as have several missions. Boreas owners may be saddened to learn that OTAS have downgraded the output of the laser generators due to long-term safety concerns. The generator control's firmware will be adjusted remotely. A number of other issues and exploits have also been addressed, all hopefully leading to even more enjoyment of the game.
X3: Terran Conflict Lead Developer and Mission Programmer, Owen Lake, stated in his recent blog entry that in 2.0 Aldrin, with Terran assistance, is to undergo a bit of a facelift to help the Alrans better cope with navigating the vast distances around the sector's massive planetoid. He also gives some background to X3: Terran Conflict mission development and bug-fixing in the blog, which you can read right here.
Thanks as always to the extensive network of volunteer developers and testers, who have helped to make X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 what it is. As was mentioned in the last X-Universe News, a great number of Level 3 Devnet users volunteered to assist in the testing of this update, so thanks also to them for their efforts.
Although we have stated that X3: Terran Conflict marks the conclusion of the X Trilogy of games, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the X-Universe and you can be assured that we remain committed to supporting our games and our loyal community of fans.
Grab It While You Can!
X3: Gold Edition is released in Germany and in some EU states on April 9th 2009 and includes X3: Reunion 2.5, X3: Terran Conflict 2.0, a Terran Conflict Soundtrack CD and access to the Personal Uplink. This collector's edition, complete with shiny box in German and a German manual, was also made available for pre-order from EGOSOFT's online shop during the last week of March and will continue to be available there while stocks last.
Unfortunately, due to X3: Gold Edition's licensing agreement, the title will not be available from UK retailers. UK fans will still be able to order the game from overseas and can be assured that the games still feature an English-language installer and English voice and text for both titles.
Game Stats Now in Forum Profiles!
As part of our ongoing efforts to enhance your enjoyment of our games and in a bid to allow you to share your X-Universe exploits with your fellow X gamers and friends, we have now expanded the online statistics to also be displayed in your own forum profile. You can now learn about your own and others' achievements simply by clicking on their name in the Egosoft Forums or by clicking on the link to the personal profile.
As you can see from the first image on the left, the profile looks much the same, with the exception of the gold, silver and bronze medals. These appear not just in your profile, but also underneath your avatar in your forum posts. You are awarded a bronze medal for uploading your stats, a silver medal for placing in the top 100 of a category and a gold medal for placing in the top three of a category.
The second image on the right shows all of the statistics that are displayed on the lower part of your profile, with sections for X2, X3R and X3TC. So now it's even easier to claim bragging rights over your fellow X gamers! We hope you enjoy this new feature.
Living Dangerously Gets Popular
In the months following the release of X3: Terran Conflict for Windows PCs, many players set about playing the game as it was intended. As expected the scripters and modders immediately set about exploring the inner workings of the game to see what hidden potential lurks therein. Other players, once they had explored the 'vanilla' game, started looking for new challenges. One such challenge is playing the game with the 'Dead-is Dead'(DiD) rule. While this is certainly not a new phenomenon in the gaming world, this style of gameplay gained significantly more popularity in the run-up to last Christmas, due to the exploits of a certain Boron Lar, known popularly as Squiddy McSquid. In the hands of his creator, Nuklear-Slug, Squiddy embarked on a perilous journey across the X-Universe, starting only with a modest ship and equipment. Knowing that death waited around (or in) every asteroid and conscious of the fact that his chosen career path weren't making him too many friends, Squiddy nonetheless transformed his perilous journey to an epic adventure. We caught up with Nuklear-Slug to ask him about DiD and Squiddy's excellent adventure...
Toastie: For the benefit of those players unaware of it, please explain what Dead-is-Dead is.
N-S: Dead is dead is very simply playing the game with one life. If you lose it then that's it, game over, delete that game and start over from scratch. Sounds kind of harsh if you've just spent a week saving up for your first destroyer or whatever, but well, shouldn't go blundering into Xenon sectors thinking 'You da man!' then, should you?
Toastie: What do you see as the appeal of such an approach, compared to regular play?
N-S: Consequences. A lot of games, if you die you just warp back half a level and just have to replay through or you can just mash the reload button and you're back to try again. There's no sense of loss, no imminent threat of danger; nothing you do has any long-term effect. If you're playing one continuous linear game then everything you do or that happens has a consequence. Accidentally killing a race ship or turning a station red to you may adversely affect your rep' with them. You now have to deal with that situation. Alternatively you may lose a valuable ship which may force you to take a different path to the one you intended. For example, some vindictive Kha'ak scout may waltz along and frag your Kestrel when you're not watching and then suddenly you're declaring 'purple jihad'.
Toastie: To what extent had you played DiD before you introduced the community to the adventures of Squiddy McSquid?
N-S: Never in X3. I do try it with FPS type things though: single-life play-throughs of Quake and such like back in the day. It keeps you a lot sharper and I find it much more immersive if you're actively trying to stay alive than wandering through just admiring the scenery, popping off rounds and not really caring.
Toastie: Squiddy's adventures have clearly inspired other players to try this approach. How do you feel about the impact his adventures have had?
N-S: The reaction has been quite unexpected really. I'd seen other peoples comments of DiD style gaming and thought I'd experiment with it so only really intended it to be a few observations of how the game progressed before I flew into the side of an asteroid, which oddly enough I did anyway later on but fortunately by then had the shielding to survive it. As it turned out, it seemed to strike a chord with people for reasons only they could really tell you and it just kind of snowballed from there.
Toastie: You've since embarked on another adventure, "Zen and the Art of Running Away". How much easier for you is this journey because of the experience you had with Squiddy?
N-S: Much easier. For a start I began with a much more substantial ship and while there are a few starting conditions that make life tricky you're a lot less subject to the possibility of 'instadeath' than you are when you're tooling around in a 1 Megajoule-shielded M5. Once you're past the initial start of course having an M3+ early on means your survivability is much increased. Right now I have an M2 so only gross ineptitude or a plan to invade Terran sectors is likely to get me killed.
Also first time around I wasn't familiar with the changes TC introduced and consequently got myself into a bit of a pickle a few times, whereas this time I'm much more aware of the universe and what's lurking out there so I'm a lot more prepared to handle what I come up against and have developed a few counters for the threats out there.
Toastie: The style of narrative you use in your stories is both amusing and compelling. Do you draw this from a favourite writer or is this just how you felt you wanted to tell the stories?
N-S: Well, I'm not a writer. Generally speaking shopping lists are about my limit, so no, there was no particular writer or style I was looking to emulate; it's just my observations of how things looked to me at the time. If people find them entertaining then that's cool but I don't particularly go out of my way to try to make them that way. I find that the universe provides enough oddities either by itself or through my own epic-level screw-ups to keep things going.
Toastie: Although there are many spoilers in your stories, some of these are very useful 'walkthroughs'. Was it your initial intent to have some tutorial-like content or did that just happen as you yourself explored the game?
N-S: Well once I'd got going with it then it was inevitable that there was going to be some spoilers or at least some things people considered to be, so I decided fairly early on to not worry about that and just go with it. That said, even though I wasn't particularly trying to write tutorials for anything I decided to try to explain why, as much as what, I was doing when doing certain things. It's all well and good people being told that they need to do x to achieve y but if you have an understanding of why you'd want to do that in the first place, then I think it teaches the lesson better.
One good example of this, I think, is my predilection for firing heavy warheads at everything in sight. I think early on there was a feeling of 'why am I firing off things I really ought to be selling?' But explaining how, where and for what reasons I do this has encouraged quite a few people to go against the status quo of assuming that missiles are worthless and tried them for themselves and discovered that in the right situation they can actually be highly effective and quite fun to use.
Toastie: What was the single most important thing you learned as a result of playing the Squiddy game?
N-S: PBG (Plasma Burst Generator) really hurts!
Toastie: What was your favourite ship in that story?
N-S: Probably the Heavy Centaur Prototype; so many weapon options. It's like the Swiss army knife of M6's.
Toastie: Screenshots have clearly become an important part of the way you tell the stories. Is it difficult to remember to take them just at the right time?
N-S: Well, so long as people aren't shooting at me at the time it's usually ok. But yes, reading a wall of text is a bit bland so a few pics do spice things up and I am aware that there are occasions when things happen that are a little off the norm and people might think I'm making them up, so a pic does help in that regard. Other than that though, I generally just prod the PrtScrn key whenever anything crops up that sparks my interest and then I sort through them later and delete any that don't really have anything interesting to tell.
I did make a video a while back after some prodding from a couple of people and that seemed to be taken quite well, but it did eat up 60GB of bandwidth. Maybe I'll do another one sometime if enough people want me to. We'll see.
Toastie: How much time are you spending per day on average playing the game and then writing it up?
N-S: I don't play every day, usually one session is good for a day or two of updates, but I guess on average probably a couple hours of gameplay a day maybe and then half hour or so of scribble.
Toastie: How do you document your activities?
N-S: Purely screenshots. Sifting through them afterwards I do get the occasions where I wonder exactly why I took that particular grab but usually the previous or next one provides enough info to remind me what was going on at the time, so it's all good. Other than that, I use good old Notepad!
Toastie: Are you now totally committed to DiD as a gameplay style?
N-S: People are welcome to play in whatever way suits them but for me I think it adds a certain element of risk that is otherwise missing, so yes.
Toastie: Finally, what advice would you give to players trying a DiD game for the first time?
1. Assume everything is out to kill you. It probably is and if it isn't now then it probably will be later.
2. Know your enemy. If you don't know what he's armed with and what he can do then stay clear.
3. Avoid anything with PBG.
4. If in doubt, RSLG (Run Screaming Like a Girl).
Toastie: Thanks very much for taking the time to answer my questions and good luck with your further adventures!
N-S: My pleasure.
The story of Squiddy McSquid, 'A Possibly Short Life', can be downloaded in two volumes in PDF format in English from Egosoft.com. Click here to download.
Helge's Classic is Published in Russian
It has recently been announced that a Russian version of Helge Kautz's X-Universe classic, Farnham's Legend has been published. This is great news for Russian X-fans, who will soon be able to see the hardback novel on sale in their book stores.
The author, Helge Kautz, expressed his satisfaction at seeing his work published in yet another language, saying, "I'm surprised this really happened. I think it's awesome. I'm also a little proud. I hope the Russian readers will enjoy the book!" When asked about the significance of it being in hardback Helge stated, "When I got my first Russian copies I immediately went "Wow!" It looks and feels very nice, and now I'm even more keen to see some of my future books in hardback format, especially in German language of course, since local publishers pay the author (that would be me) about twice as much compared to paperback."
While there is no specific information about the retailers that will be stocking the book, Helge Kautz revealed that the Russian publisher has secured the rights for the following two books, 'Nopileos' and 'Yoshiko' also, "So it's pretty likely that they will follow shortly," he continued.
The English version of 'Farnham's Legend' is still available for purchase from the EGOSOFT online shop.
The Uninteresting Bit at the End
If you would like to get in contact with us, then feel free. E-mail: X-Universe-News@egosoft.com
With Thanks To
Translation and Proofreading
Belisarius - DE
Ogerboss - DE
Garga-Potter - IT
Xfrench - FR
Sblade - ES
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