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X-net Entries About Alien Lifeforms


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#1 Laitanyel

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 03:21 AM

Since I can't post anywhere useful (like the workshop), I'll post here.

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

<Soldier>
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.

<Medic>
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.

<Engineer>
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.†

<Leader>
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:
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Edited by Laitanyel, 30 December 2003 - 03:25 AM.


#2 Puasonen

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 04:03 AM

I think too much text becomes boring.. If you have 400-600 words and it's all interesting then I guess it's ok but thinking that most of the world doesn't speak english as a mothertongue, they/we will have troubles understanding most of it. -> makes it boring. I think x-com apoc gave enough information about stuff in ufopaedia.
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#3 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:10 AM

We worked around the "its too damn long" problem by requiring an one or two line blurb about the object (ex: The Avalanche Missile works better against larger vessels than the smaller stingray) for people who don't really want to read our nice texts. Then, you continue on in the text at your own peril! :devillaugh:
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#4 Puasonen

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 11:03 AM

We worked around the "its too damn long" problem by requiring an one or two line blurb about the object (ex: The Avalanche Missile works better against larger vessels than the smaller stingray) for people who don't really want to read our nice texts.

ah, sorry, didn't know that. That's a good way to go around it. People has to understand the essential about all that stuff with lesser linguistic abilities too.
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#5 Robo Dojo 58

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 12:30 PM

People has to understand the essential about all that stuff with lesser linguistic abilities too.

After researching a few aliens and seeing them in action, Could a list of the race's strengths and weaknesses be added? Something like this included in the Xenopaedia would be perfect for people with less linguistic abilities.

Snakemen Race Summary:
Speed:slow
Endurance:good
Weapons handling:good
[PSI](added later): fair
Tactical intelligence: good
Weakness: N/A
Notes: Very stealthy. (silent snake foot) Associated with Chrysallids.

Chrysallid Race Summary:
Speed:Cheetah
Endurance:Tough bast@rd
Weapons handling: N/A
[PSI]: weak
Tactical intelligence: poor
Weakness: High Ex
Notes: stabs its opponent. Associated with Snakemen.

--Edit: A list like this would also help in figuring out game balance.--

Edited by Robo Dojo 58, 30 December 2003 - 12:31 PM.

Posted Image Haha! I'm now the Supreme Commander of X-COM. Time to kiss Earth goodbye.

My first order of business: Homeless people make cheap rookies, and are great at opening UFO doors. Heck, they're so cheap, I'm going to replace all personel with them!
Secondly: This organisation takes too much money to run. Weapon shipments will come from Siberia from now on. Costly maintenance is to be cut on all facilities. That includes venting.
Thirdly: We have a new colonel. His name is Facehugger, he loves aliens, and I want you all to treat him with respect.
Lastly: I'll be in my condo on an undisclosed island, if you need me. Good day.

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#6 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 02:02 PM

Hmm. Good idea!
I'm only partially inactive. :P I can still be reached at cpl.facehugger@gmail.com, and via PM. Preferably the former.

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#7 red knight

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 07:50 PM

The problem is when you put all that info??... It is better for the user to learn that by trial and error (without frustrate him by the difficulty level)

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#8 Breunor

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 08:07 PM

And you must also consider how much info are you going to get from a captive alien that doesn't speak a human language, and does not want to cooperate with you? Learning about a specie's past and culture just would not happen until you could get 100% mind control, and even then you'd only pick out residual images from their memory. Perhaps if Deckard Cain from the Diablo games was an alien you'd get somewhere- "Stay awhile, and listen!" :P

At most I can see a v1+ feature where you could keep researching a living alien to learn extra background info, but not tactical hints like what they're resistent to.

#9 Cpl. Facehugger

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 08:39 PM

Well, you would learn the tactical hints from trying those various damage types on it! Lets see if you are vlunerable to inciendiary ammo! I guess so! Next!

And I'm sure that if you tortured the alien enough, it would tell you what you want to know. Or heck, they may even want to help you, as they could be in the overmind's army against their will.
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#10 DendromutantX

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Posted 30 December 2003 - 10:16 PM

Or heck, they may even want to help you, as they could be in the overmind's army against their will.


If I was a mastermind I would try to control that situation, like an explosive chip in the brain, that goes off when certain information goes through it. Complete brainwashing would do nice as well. Again replace vital organs with artefficial ones that break if lose maintenance of higher races.

#11 Robo Dojo 58

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Posted 31 December 2003 - 08:43 AM

The problem is when you put all that info??... It is better for the user to learn that by trial and error.

Well, the list would be a summary of everything you know about the alien. After researching a few corpses, you would learn what is effective against the alien. The reaper, chrysallid, and sectopod entries in the original XCOM did that. After fighting a few skirmishes against the aliens, you'd learn their speed, ability, and how well they fight. Football (American) coaches do stuff like this all the time.


Learning about a specie's past and culture just would not happen until you could get 100% mind control, and even then you'd only pick out residual images from their memory.

Woah, that just screams of "floater!" IMO.
Although, the artificial organs have to do a two way trip from mars to earth, and not break. Their idea of "Fragile" might actually be more like our "heavy duty".
Also, for those who've seen "Stargate SG-1", the aliens could just be VERY arrogent. Throw a few insults at them, and they'll tell you everything that'll make you wet your pants.

"IMPUDENT FOOL! Our friends on Cydonia will see that you burn!"
"Cydonia, check. Where is it, you pathetic weakling?"
"Ha! I am not that foolish. Our ships will be here within the week! Your cities will burn to the ground!"
"Well, checking the star charts, and knowing the speed of your ships, that will make it... Mars. We've seen a few alien bases on earth, so we know what to look for there. Get the hubble rolling! And thank you, have a nice funeral." :devillaugh:
"What? Wait!" :cussing:
Posted Image Haha! I'm now the Supreme Commander of X-COM. Time to kiss Earth goodbye.

My first order of business: Homeless people make cheap rookies, and are great at opening UFO doors. Heck, they're so cheap, I'm going to replace all personel with them!
Secondly: This organisation takes too much money to run. Weapon shipments will come from Siberia from now on. Costly maintenance is to be cut on all facilities. That includes venting.
Thirdly: We have a new colonel. His name is Facehugger, he loves aliens, and I want you all to treat him with respect.
Lastly: I'll be in my condo on an undisclosed island, if you need me. Good day.

FMIX-The General Stores

#12 Laitanyel

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 04:27 AM

That's what you get for writing a long, nice post of what you want :D

No, seriously, I totally see the point of getting "flooded" with too much info, and the issues of as how we aquire the info.

Still want much info, though :)

#13 ChonkE

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Posted 05 January 2004 - 04:21 PM

Yeah! The more fleshing out the better! A skeleton is no good without the meat and vice versa.