After reading a few X-net entries about alien lifeforms, such as Aerodrone, Elysian and Snakeman, I came by a few thoughts.
#1. You're all very good writers, I'm impressed. However, some entries have a tad too "humoristic" touch to them. They don't sound at all like a research report. Maybe you should try to keep it excitingly "research-ish", instead of immature explanations like in Xcom: UFO Defence. I didn't really like these texts there at all, because they where very gameplay related (not science) and very short. Not much background info.
#2. Long, informative texts with lots of lore and background info is great. Keep it that way. I'll post an example:
Terror-Disc Terrorist (Aerodrone)
Despite its organic appearence, this 'creature' is not a true species at all, but rather an artificial mobile weapon platform similar to our own MTC-01C tank design.† Built and commanded by members of the Sagisati race, the Terror-Disc, or Aerodrone as it refereed to by its masters, is a formidable addition to the alien ranks.†
The Aerodrone is a bio-mimetic device based on a common creature on the Grey's homeworld.† Apparently the Sagisati equivalent of the terran dog is a crustacean capable of floating via internal hydrogen stores.† These creatures were used for centuries as pets, guards, hunters and trackers.† While the orginal species had been extinct for several hundred years, the Greys built cybernetic versions of this animal as replacements, keeping the body shape and replicating the flying ability with an on-board contragravity device.† These new 'pets' were equiped with advanced psychotronic devices, allowing the Greys to use their powerful psi abilities to control them.
With the arrival of a race they call the 'Tall Ones', and the subsequent co-opting of their civilization, the Sagisati converted their 'pets' for war, adding layers of armor, a powerful plasma cannon, and an emergency self-destruct to destroy their secrets rather than let them be captured.
This text provides a good explanation of the Aerodrones capabilities, looks and most importantly of all, feeling and lore. It tells you about how the Aerodrone is originally an animal herded by the Sagisati (Sectoids) and gives a flash of vision about how the aliens lived in peace, not only being mindless war machines.
#3. Getting separate X-Net entries by researching different ranks of aliens, or types, if you wish. This, the Snakeman entry does VERY well. I loved the idea of researching a Soldier and getting basic combat and toughness info about the snakeman, then researching a medic, getting deepened anatomical info, reproduction, lifestyle and eating habits. For you who haven't read it (poor saps!) I'll post it here. Please note the different entries for all ranks:
Common Name:† Snakemen
Scientific Name:† Xenocrotalus Sapiens†
Species Name:† Sshi'ygha
The Snakemen are one of the more unsettling of the various invading races.† Their eerie similarity to terrestrial rattlesnakes evokes a common fear among X-Corps personnel.† Indeed, early field reports suggested that this might have been a creature genetically engineered from earthly fauna, grown to enormous size and grafted with arms.† However, these creatures are a completely alien species; sentient beings with the remnants of what must have been an amazing culture.† Our initial interrogations have given us the name of the Snakeman home world, Sshi-yii and a general idea of its location.† From the subject's description, we suspect that this world is actually a moon of one of the earliest extrasolar planets Earth had discovered.† It is known to astronomers as HD-70642 b, orbiting a type G5IV-V star approximately 29 parsecs from Earth.† More detailed information of this world is unknown to our current subject, however higher ranking individuals may know more.
The Snakemen are a carnivorous race, able to eat only freshly killed meat.† They appear to be comfortable on land, but prefer shallow water, suggesting a swamp-based origin.† In keeping with their generally reptilian appearance, a Snakeman's body is covered in thousands of pentagonal scales, except for the head.† Eleven large plates of bone-reinforced scale protect the head itself.† These scales provide excellent natural armouring of the vital areas, and allow the snakemen to function in a wide variety of conditions.† Also similar to their terrestrial counterparts, the snakeman jaw is capable of dislocating from the skull, allowing the mouth to open to prodigious widths in order to ingest larger prey.† The lower jaw also contains vestigial venom sacs that feed into the lower fangs.† The venom produced is soporific in nature, but of insufficient amount to cause alarm.† A bite from a Snakeman might make a child seriously disoriented, but is likely to result in no more than momentary dizziness in an adult.† While they obviously have some relationship with the monstrous Chryssalids, we are unable to obtain any relevant information.
While sentient in their own right, the subject refers constantly to 'the Masters,' from whom all its' people take orders.† From the context of these statements, we are sure that the subject does not merely refer to its own leaders, but completely separate race that seems to be directing the Snakemen's incursions on our planet.
The Snakeman race reproduces asexually, laying between thirty and fifty softball-sized eggs at a time in a frenzy of ovulation.† The eggs are released into a common, water filled gestational pit, where the soft jelly-like mucus that protects each egg can come in contact with another individualís ovum.† This contact allows for a transfer of genetic material between the different eggs, resulting in fertilization.† Eggs cannot be fertilized by sibling ova. The soft covering requires that the eggs must remain immersed in water in their natural state.† However, according to our current subject, the Snakemen have developed a symbiotic relationship with the creatures known as Chryssilids.† Apparently, the Chyssilid venom so feared by our opperatives is used by the Snakemen in their reproductive habits.† When in contact with the venom the vulnerable covering of the Snakeman egg hardens, forming a tough leathery shell.† The RNA-based venom also apparently affects the foetal Snakemen at the genetic level, providing them with immunity to the Chryssilid venom.† After an extended period of time (unfortunately, we are unable to accurately translate time measurement), all eggs within a birthing pit hatch within brief period, and a feeding frenzy begins amongst the newborns.† Out of several hundred fertilized eggs, only a dozen or so will survive the hatching, and be welcomed into the society of Snakemen.† Once the hatching is complete, the birthing pit is opened to the Chryssilids, who devour the shells, along with any unhatched eggs.† The amniotic fluid clinging to the inner portion of the shell fragments contains a number of enzymes required by a Chrysillid's body to produce its venom.
The Snakemen's primary technological contribution to the invader's knowledge is the development of the stun gas used so effectively against our world's civilian population, and the launcher that fires it.† The gas itself is actually based on the their soporific venom, and was originally used to fulfill the eating requirements of the race.† It seems logical that a species that must eat freshly killed meat would develop a weapon capable of keeping prey alive, but incapacitated until meal time.†
The Snakemen we see are the remnants of a once great race.† Their civilization developed in the swampy temperate zones of Ssth-Kr'th, and spread across the entire planet.† With their innate resistance to adverse conditions they built cities in every climate, from the blazing heat of their tropics, to the frozen poles.† Theirs was a great world, just developing space flight when the Masters came.† Of all the alien races, the Snakemen are most like us, both in thought and temperament.† If our two races had met before they fell under the thrall of the Masters, who knows what we could have done together?
Now, the snakeman entry represents a high-quality report about the Snakeman race, which is EXACTLY what we, at least I, want to see in a game of this type. Compare this to the old report, and you hopefully see my point:
Edited by Laitanyel, 30 December 2003 - 03:25 AM.