Thursday, September 8, 2022
This is the fourth and final of the posts introducing each of the four main non-player factions in Cosmoteer. You can read the first post about the Monolith Cooperative here, the second post about the Cabal of Sol here, and the third about the Centauri Imperium here.
The "Fringe" star systems are those that lie on the edge of the known galaxy or between the territories of the major factions. They are generally sparsely populated and have a low standard of living. While there is a strong code of honor among inhabitants of the Fringe, there is no common government or system of laws beyond the borders that can be enforced by each individual settlement or station. As such, the Fringe systems tend to attract a "rough and ready" type of personality, and piracy runs rampant.
There are no formal cooperation agreements between any of the Fringe systems, so the extent to which they can be called "unified" is based on a mutual hatred of the other major factions and an understanding that they can better defend their independence working (begrudgingly) together than apart. Despite this cooperation, the Fringe systems are no match for the full might of any of the major factions, and thus are fighting a doomed battle, losing their independence one-by-one.
Fringe ships have no preference for type of weaponry or defenses but are greatly limited by the resources at hand; they will happily use whatever they can get their hands on. Thus, Fringe ships tend to be outfitted with an eclectic assortment of lower-tier equipment such as lasers, cannons, disruptors (electro-bolters), point defenses, small shields, and armor. More advanced weapons and defenses are much less common but can still be occasionally spotted.
Friday, August 26, 2022
This is the third of a four-part series of posts introducing each of the four main non-player factions in Cosmoteer. You can read the first post about the Monolith Cooperative here and the second post about the Cabal of Sol here.
The systems of the Centaurus Constellation were originally governed by the Terran Union headquartered on Earth, but with the destruction of the whole Sol system fifty years ago, the Centaurus Constellation found itself suddenly independent with a galactic power vacuum in need of filling. After a brief ideological civil war within the Centaurus Constellation, the new Centauri Imperium emerged triumphant and quickly expanded its domain into the surrounding systems by conquest and intimidation. In just fifty short years, the Centauri Imperium has become the most powerful military force in the galaxy, controlling nearly half of all known systems and poised to soon conquer the rest.
The Centauri Imperium is uniquely flat in its organizational structures, both civilian and military. As a true direct democracy, every citizen of the core Centaurus systems above the age of 12 EY is entitled to propose laws and vote on every piece of legislation, a process which is handled via faster-than-light communications and a distributed public blockchain. Even the most important decisions, such as whether to accept the terms of surrender of the latest conquered star system, can be made in minutes by instantly notifying the entire citizenry of an impending vote. As such, most Centauri citizens feel an extreme responsibility to stay informed of the various issues facing the Imperium, and civic engagement is very high. There is no single "head of state", and to the extent to which there is any concentration of power, it is in celebrities who are able to influence their followers to vote a particular way.
The Centauri military is only slightly more hierarchical than its civilian government. Because being able to make instant decisions during combat is critical, most ships do have a captain, but one that is elected by its crew and can be replaced by popular vote at any time. Each ship is an independent entity with the freedom to make its own tactical decisions, constrained only by the few rules of engagement mandated by the Imperium's citizens. (And those citizens have deemed that almost any means are acceptable as long as the ends bring further wealth and prosperity to the core Centaurus systems.) This decentralized "almost anything goes" approach makes the Imperium's military nimble and ruthless. Larger strategic objectives are coordinated using bounties authorized by the citizenry, such as a reward for forcing the surrender of a particular star system. In order to accomplish these larger strategic objectives, individual ships will often form ad-hoc fleets that will then disband once the objective is accomplished. In some cases, multiple fleets will form to compete for the same bounty, which is allowed and encouraged as a healthy aspect of the "military free market", though direct combat between Centauri ships or fleets is strictly forbidden and punishable by "death by destruction bounty". In cases where multiple ships or fleets lay claim to the same bounty, it is, as always, the Centauri citizenry who act as final arbiter.
Citizenship is only granted to those individuals who were either living within the core Centaurus systems when the Imperium was formed or are children whose parents are both Centauri citizens. The only exceptions must be approved by the whole citizenry, making naturalized citizens extremely rare. (Generally only individuals who have been of great service to the Imperium are given the honor.) As a result, the vast majority of subjects living outside the core systems are not Centauri citizens and thus do not enjoy any semblance of autonomy or self-governance. For all their talk of democracy and equality, the core systems impose a harsh double-standard on the conquered territories, ruling them with an iron fist.
The Centauri are inarguably the best military ship designers in the galaxy. Their ships are designed to first visually intimidate their enemies into submission and then, if that fails, to annihilate them with ruthless efficiency. Most Centauri ships are constructed "diagonally" relative to the galactic standard construction grid to maximize the available space for offensive firepower and minimize the profile presented to the enemy. They feature a balanced variety of weapons and defenses, making use of all available technologies depending on the combat role of the ship. (Notably, the Centauri are the only major faction to make common use of nukes.) Thanks to the vast wealth gained from the looting of the conquered territories, construction cost is typically not an issue for the Centauri. The main limiting factor is the number of crew; since only Centauri citizens can serve aboard military vessels, there are a limited number of sailors willing to serve in the all-volunteer Centauri starforce, and the military is stretched a little thin.
Aesthetically, Centauri ships are designed to scare the enemy into submission, with intimidating shapes and sharp angles. They are typically painted black, red, and dark gray colors.
Sunday, August 21, 2022
This is the second of a four-part series of posts introducing each of the four main non-player factions in Cosmoteer. You can read the first post about the Monolith Cooperative here.
Although it is not known precisely when the Cabal was founded, it has existed in some form for at least several hundred years. Originally a secretive cult, it is now a massive, mainstream religion and powerful galactic nation-state. Its adherents believe that each star is, in effect, a God; creator of planets and moons and giver of the energies that sustain life. Although they believe that every star is a God, the Cabal of Sol specifically worships Earth's star Sol as the creator of not just Humanity but also the ancient civilization that created the hyperjump gates and left behind the Armstrong Monolith.
The Cabal of Sol is a highly-organized religion that claims more than a fifth of the known galaxy as its own territory, making it one of the largest galactic nation-states. Within Cabal territory, religion and government are inseparable. A hereditary council of twelve High Priests of Sol make the laws, and a complex hierarchy of priests and other clerics administer the functions of government with unusual strictness and harshness. But for those willing to live under the edicts of the Council, life can be good thanks to the extensive social services and a universal basic income provided by the Cabal. And many people from across the galaxy do indeed choose to brave the trip to Cabal space to take advantage, thanks to the Cabal's open immigration policy that welcomes all—as long as they profess a belief in Sol and renounce all other religions.
For the Cabal, religion and scientific research are not antithetical, but instead go hand-in-hand, with the desire to know more about the Gods motivating unprecedented scientific research into how stars are formed and function. Most of the galaxy's preeminent cosmic researchers are also devout worshippers of Sol and members of the Cabal. As a byproduct of this intense focus on scientific research into stars, the Cabal have become the galaxy's clear masters of energy manipulation technology.
Although unproven, rumors persist that Cabal scientists were directly involved in the accidental destruction of Sol and its star system. According to the rumors, Cabal scientists were working to develop hyperjump and shield technologies so advanced that a ship could jump directly into the core of a star, where its most elusive secrets would be revealed. But when this was attempted with Sol, according to the rumors, the result was not the hoped-for scientific and religious revelation, but the destruction of the entire Sol system, costing billions of lives and setting back human advancement by thousands of years. Any involvement in the destruction of Sol is, of course, denied by Cabal officials, but conspiracy theorists claim that their involvement could be proven if only the Cabal would open its vault of secret documents to the public—something which the Cabal has thus far refused to do.
Regardless of whether they were involved or not, their current motivation is very clear: The Cabal seeks to reignite Sol's dead core and reincarnate their dead God. Nearly all of the Cabal's formidable scientific might for the past fifty years has become singularly focused on this goal.
As masters of energy manipulation, Cabal ships generally favor energy-based weapons and defenses. On offense this includes lasers, disruptors (electro-bolters), ion beams + prisms, and railguns. For defense, the Cabal primarily relies on speed and shields, rarely spending much mass on armor. Cannons and flak are almost unheard of on Cabal ships. Despite their prowess at harnessing energy, Cabal ships typically have less efficient hyperdrives, and tractor beams are not particularly common.
Saturday, August 13, 2022
Originally branded as the "Armstrong Mining Cooperative" in the pre-hyperdrive era, the company had the remarkable good fortune of being the first to discover what is now known as the "Armstrong Monolith" hidden deep within the Sol (Earth) system's asteroid belt. The Armstrong Monolith was the last remnant of an ancient civilization that made its home on the planet which, before its destruction, orbited between Mars and Jupiter. The monolith itself was a technological archive that, once decoded, was discovered to contain blueprints for hyperdrive technology and the ability to detect and use the vast network of hyperjump relays built by the civilization long ago. Although there is some debate, it is commonly assumed that the destruction of their planet was caused by a misuse of hyperjump technology similar in hubris to that which led humanity to destroy the whole Sol system. No biological remains of this civilization, nor any evidence of their physical form, have ever been found, leading to much speculation about whether they were truly alien or a precursor to humanity.
After the discovery of the Armstrong Monolith, it took only two years for the Armstrong Mining Cooperative to recreate rudimentary hyperdrive technology, and then only another five to make it robust enough for commercial use. Although at first the company successfully guarded the technology as the most important trade secret of all time, the fundamentals of hyperdrive technology eventually leaked a couple years later and quickly spread throughout the solar system. Even still, those couple years gave the company (now known as the Monolith Cooperative) enough of a head start to dominate its competitors and eventually become the largest industrial powerhouse in the history of humankind.
Although not overtly imperial in ambition, Monolith has gradually built one of the galaxy's largest military forces over the two-hundred years since the discovery of the Armstrong Monolith. At first this was out of necessity to defend its own transport routes and mining and manufacturing hubs, but as the might of its military hammer grew, well, as the saying goes, all its problems started looking like nails. Middle managers tasked with convincing reluctant colonies to pay exorbitant prices for life-sustaining necessities would often use their ostensibly "defensive" fleets to blockade competitors and coerce the colonies into signing unfair trade contracts. As the space-high prices of basic goods bankrupted the local governments, Monolith was only happy to step in and sell its own administrative and police services at a discount—in exchange for a hefty percentage tax on the colony's gross income, of course. Although claiming no actual territory, the Monolith Cooperative is now the de facto government of almost a quarter of the known galaxy.
The "Cooperative" part of its name comes from the fact that the Monolith Cooperative is and always has been fully employee-owned. No single person owns more than 0.1% of the company, and no shares of Monolith have ever been sold either publicly or privately. Instead, every full employee of Monolith (not including contractors) owns a very small percentage of the company (the exact amount depending on rank and length of employment) and as such is entitled to a proportional share of the company's profits in addition to their base salary. Since the company is ultimately subservient to its own employees, those who are lucky enough to be counted among them, from the middlest manager to the lowliest janitor, enjoy good pay, fair treatment, and a general quality of life far in excess of the galactic average, making the typical employee extremely loyal to the company. But due to their desire not to dilute their own shares, the employees of Monolith have mandated hiring standards so strict that only about 5% of the population under Monolith's governance are actual employees, many of whom only become so out of nepotism. Much of the remaining population lives in extreme poverty, and Monolith-governed colonies have by far the highest wealth inequality of anywhere in the galaxy.
Unsurprisingly given its status as an industrial powerhouse, Monolith military ships usually favor weapons and defenses that use a lot of materials. This primarily means cannons, railguns, high-explosive missiles, mines, flak, point defenses, and armor. Due to their expertise in mining, Monolith ships also often have ion beams (though almost never with prisms) and mining beam lasers. Due to their frequent need to fight more energy-focused ships from other factions, larger Monolith ships are also frequently armed with EMP missiles. Other low-tech, energy-based systems such as lasers and shields are less common but not unheard of. When used, shields tend to be of the "large" variant, and Monolith ship designers are full of hubris and thus usually poor at protecting them, rarely ever layering them behind small shields and only occasionally protecting them with strategically-placed armor. Monolith military ships always come with ample storage for their munitions, and larger ships usually have the capability to rapidly manufacture more.
Monolith ships of all varieties also tend to be larger than similar-class ships of other factions, favoring size and storage capacity over speed, often relying on their strong hyperdrive capabilities to escape situations where they would otherwise be too slow. Boost thrusters are rarely used. Tractor Beams, originally developed for hauling asteroids, have always been common on Monolith mining vessels and have more recently become common on larger military ships as well.
Saturday, August 6, 2022
This is the first in what will be a series of "Feature Preview" posts about new features coming to Cosmoteer when it launches on Steam later this year. The first new feature I want to tell you about is also the biggest: A brand new "Career Mode".
Players of "Cosmoteer Classic" (a.k.a. "the free version" or "the demo") will doubtless be familiar with Bounty Hunter, a simple single-player mode in which you destroy enemy ships to earn money and then use that money to upgrade your own ship. While fun at first, I think most players would agree that its simplicity makes it become repetitive pretty quickly.
Career Mode takes the basic loop of Bounty Hunter (fight so that you can get stronger and take on tougher enemies) and greatly expands it within missions, factions, salvaging, mining, trading, and multiplayer co-op.
As in Bounty Hunter, you start the game with a small scout ship with only a few weapons and a handful of crew.
Looking around, and you quickly spot a nearby civilian space station under the control of the Fringe Systems Resistance. You hail it with your comms and immediately see a list of mission contracts posted by the Fringe and other factions within the star system. Many are "bounty" contracts, tasking you to hunt down and destroy specific enemies, but there are also other types of missions, such as rescues, resource delivery requests, and exploration missions.
Upon accepting your first bounty contract, you fly to its last-known location and soon spot your target. You close in for the kill and--as it is merely a level  target--have little trouble defeating it. (But beware, higher-level enemies are dramatically more dangerous!)
The enemy ship has been destroyed, but don't leave quite yet! Its wreckage contains valuable materials that you'll need to repair and upgrade your own ship. You send your crew out to salvage the enemy ship, who carefully break apart what's left of it into basic construction materials and carry them back to your own ship, storing them in your cargo bays.
Using the materials salvaged from the enemy, you repair the damage it did to your ship, and you even have enough materials left over to construct a new Laser Blaster!
You start heading back to the station to collect the bounty reward, but on your way you spot a ? icon on your radar, indicating the presence of an unknown signal nearby. You take a detour to investigate and discover a large asteroid field! Many of the asteroids contain iron and copper and a few have even more valuable ores which can either be sold at space stations or smelted by factories into usable construction materials. You have a bit of extra room in your cargo bays, so you send your crew out to mine some copper from a nearby asteroid.
Returning to the space station, you hail it again to collect the bounty payment and sell the copper you mined for a tidy profit. You also earn a few fame points as word of your accomplishment spreads, which will convince more people to join your crew. The Fringe Systems Resistance also makes note of how you helped the cause.
Using the money you earned, you replace your existing storage bays with larger ones, add another crew's quarters, and hire 2 more crew. You didn't actually have enough materials on board to build the larger storage bays and crew's quarters, but that's okay because the missing materials were automatically purchased from the station.
Using the little money you have left over, you purchase the blueprint plans for a Small Shield Generator, which will help reduce the damage your ship takes and save you materials on repairs in the long run.
Just when you are thinking about where you should add the shield generator, you receive a Discord message from a friend! She's playing Cosmoteer too and wants to know if you want to play co-op together. Of course you do! So you save your game, quit to the menu, and host a multiplayer game for her to join. You load up your save file, and the two of you continue playing from where you left off. She's the best pilot and combat tactician you know, so you mostly leave that up to her, whereas you're an ace ship designer, so you handle most of the building. You've set it up so that you both share control of the same ship, though you could have also started a new game where you each control your own ships.
Over many hours, the two of you explore dozens of star systems while traveling across the galaxy.
After dozens of missions and more than a few close calls, you and your friend finally reach the pinnacle of fame. With a fame score of 10000 and the title of "LEGENDARY", no one in the galaxy will ever forget your accomplishments. Along the way, you have become the revered champion of the Fringe Systems Resistance and the loathed nemesis of the other factions.
"Do you want to play again?" asks your friend.
Stay tuned for future feature previews, including lore histories and ship design philosophies for each of the four major factions: the Fringe Systems Resistance, the Monolith Cooperative, the Cabal of Sol, and the Centauri Imperium.
Friday, July 29, 2022
Check our this awesome new trailer!
This new version will be by far the most massive Cosmoteer update ever, including:
- Completely overhauled graphics, which you can see in the trailer above and in Cosmoteer's new Steam page
- A brand new "Career Mode" with missions, factions, and mining. (It also supports co-op multiplayer!)
- A "resource system" that allows resources to be salvaged from defeated ships or mined from asteroids, which can then be stored on your own ship, refined into more useful resources in factories, and used for construction of ship modules and munitions.
- Various new ship building parts including a large shield generator, a mining laser, and new resource factories.
If you haven't already, please tell Steam that you're excited to play Cosmoteer by adding it to your wishlist!
Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to launch!