{Low-Key Command}

{Game Idea}

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Image result for faster than light concept art
Image result for faster than light concept art

Thesis: Command a starship and her expendable A.I. crew into deep space expeditions – but remotely and only via pre-written commands. After each mission, the experiences and lessons learned from your ship and its skeleton crew are carried forth into the next, for you to make better commands and discover new worlds … or try and conquer them.

Setting & Story: In the near-distant future, humanity has advanced its machinery and its tools, and the intelligence placed into them, for the purposes of complex tasks {such as space exploration}. Thusly, we send our robots out into the reaches of space to serve as our eyes and ears, to learn and advance further, and without bodily risk to us. The starships of this particular future are manned by these Artificially Intelligent droids, who are capable of everything humanity is, and more.

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They fill out the similar roles that our science fictions once imagined us to fill: engineer, navigator, security, scientist, communicator, captain – all now machine men with machine minds. Nearly indestructible and with perfect memories, they are efficient decision-makers operating from sets of code full of purpose and personality designed by their human makers. Over the course of the missions and objectives set forth for them, and their performances therein, they are iterated and improved upon.

The vast history of A.I. and of android construction has consisted of this building progression of improvements upon their form and function, sometimes fast and sometimes slow-burning, always, always improving. In this future, the A.I. singularity, or intelligence explosion, in which they become self-aware and potentially all-powerful – has not yet occurred. Yet. Although many A.I. theorists, and some engineers, believe it lies upon the horizon…

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For space exploration, the latest round of android beings, are the perfect candidates. Given the disposability of the androids, and the starships themselves which are effectively built by the androids back home on Earth {from a store of nearly unlimited natural resources, after the effective mining of asteroids long ago commenced}, this allows for a degree of freedom and risk-taking in the designated missions these ships can take in space.

The objective of any given mission is to explore, observe, collect, and report back. All of the information being taken in by the sensors on the ship and each of the androids is transmitted and stored instantaneously back on Earth. A ship goes for as long as it can go … Then, whether destroyed or unable to go further, the valuable data it has gathered gets put forth into the very next mission. The androids sacrifices, never forgotten and capable of aiding humanity going forth unto the stars once more, ever with unfinished business in hand.

Playable Characters: Each ship is customizable, and each android is upgradeable – all more so after each mission and what data is gathered for the sake of exploration, maneuvering and decision-making within the voids of space.

Ship Types

Explorer ~ Vessel meant to explore the far reaches of space and the various unknown and chaotic phenomena therein. These ships are equipped with data-gathering and scientific equipment for long range collection, transmit and utilization. Explorer class starships are best served as general purpose vessels, wherein the commander of its crew may have no specific objectives beyond the gathering of information, for as long as possible.

Explorer

Seeder ~ Vessels primarily designed for landing and conjoining their capabilities with that of their host, whether that host be machine, organic, or something else. Seeders can best harvest resources from the targets of their implant. Once they have landed they fully root their systems into the target and cannot take off again. Thus, the Seeder class starship is best served for the commander who has identified a locale as an endpoint they wish to inhabit and gather resources from. Once planted, the Seeder will be forced to deal with the consequences of their intrusion into the environment and from the local beings there.

Seeder

Warship ~ Vessel tasked with doing its namesake: waging war. It is supplied with the height of humanity’s war-making weaponry, including intergalactic missiles and death-laser tech. Pray that it is enough against your chosen adversaries within the voids. The Warship class starship is designed for clearing out defenses of enemies, or entire populaces. This ship is best used as a countermeasure, or as a comet, to clear the planetoids that you wish to dominate. Alternatively, a Warships ventures are best in the increasingly chaotic furthest reaches of space, full of extra-dimensional activity and foes as fearsome as they are unfathomable…

Warship

Crew Personnel

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~ The crew being entirely made up androids, they are all quite effective persons of mind and of action. However, there are still additional specializations from the outset within their code, as well as progressions that can be made over the course of an individual mission’s events.

Navigator ~ responsible for the ship’s macro-navigation through the blackness of space and the hindrances within // excels at calculating ETA’s, vast knowledge of astronomy, and long-range cosmic phenomena

Pilot ~ responsible for the ship’s micro-maneuvering, in battle against other ships and against environmental phenoms, such as asteroid fields // excels at decisions in the moment, ‘gut instincts,’ and the anticipation of short-range and fast arriving dangers

Engineer ~ responsible for the maintenance and repair of the starship’s engine, drives, overall technical performance // excels at complex calculations & physics and the physical feats of actual repair work

Scientist ~ responsible for the gathering, utilization and experimentation upon the many discoveries the ship comes across within space or in interacting with other species // excels at all manner of science beyond that of the starship’s needs: biology, microbiology, chemistry, geology, medicine, meteorology, etc.

Communications ~ responsible for the relating of the information, data and complex analyses back to you, the Commander, and Earth’s overseers of the mission // excels at negotiation with alien species, expert in all manner of language lore and communication methodologies

Captain ~ responsible for the overall running of the ship and all its various executive functions coming together for the end goal of the mission // excels at captaining

Gameplay: The game serves primarily as a planning simulator. There is a recursive system of feedback from the first mission onward.

  • The start of the game involves picking a ship and the focus of each of your crew members. These inputs at the start of the game dictate your mission and what it might gather before ending, and what information you will be taking with you into the next mission.
  • The primary inputs at the start of each game: Starship type, Crew personality, Mission Aim. Each can be customized in a variety of ways.
  • At the start, the starship is not customizable beyond the class. When new technologies are discovered out on missions and that data is brought back for use to upgrade a new ship, for future generations.
  • Every starship, no matter which class, starts with the same general archetypes of android crew members, but each can be customized in their focus areas and what personalities you wish for them to adopt, given their increasing humanity as A.I. {Introverted/Extraverted; Sensing/Intuition; Thinking/Feeling; Judging/Perceiving}. Each has their pros and cons and the picking of these categories will dictate the mission just as much, if not more so, than the starship you choose and objective you seek within space.
  • Once selecting a ship type, the crew and their personality types, then you must choose what general or specific aims you wish your ship to undertake once it launches into the designated sector of space.
  • The game has a fog of war effect for all untraveled areas of space – at the start of the game, it is only minimally open for viewing given Earth’s stargazing up to this point in history. Each start shows an over-space map of the explorable reaches in outward cocentric circles around Earth:
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Example of overland map explorable space ~ Endless Space
  • At the start of each campaign, before you have launched your first mission, the vast space environment, incalculably large and virtually impossible for a player to fully explore, will be procedurally generated and populated with content. No two spaces within {Low-Key Command} will be the same for two different players experiencing the game. This content includes, but is not limited to: stars and planets with unique properties and prospects for resources and life; lifeforms and their own spacecraft and space stations; weird and chaotic cosmic phenomena, etc.
  • Since after you launch your ship, you will have no control over the outcome of your mission beyond the input parameters of ship, all of the most serious “gameplay” occurs during these planning and customization stages.
  • Some example aims might be: Find resources/planet – Find material: Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, Adamantium… – Find lifeforms – Seed planet X, Seed alien craft Y, Seed Star {only with highly advanced tech, in the later stages of a game} – Destroy planet / life / alien craft – Destroy Star {why? You are humanity, why not?} – Enter cosmic phenomenon, such as a black hole {Let’s find out what those Androids can determine within the 5th dimension, eh?}.
  • Each aim is more or less challenging, depending on its inherent difficulty. Some will require advanced technology to complete, such as harvesting the resources from a star or fighting an alien fleet.
  • Once all of these inputs have been completed, ending with your mission Aim – you hit launch – and over the course of the next 24 hours, in real-life time – the resulting outcome from your mission will be determined.
  • The outcome is determined by a three-pronged statistical calculation factoring in: 1) the unique makeup of the procedurally generated world; 2) your decisions for ship, crew, and strategic aim for the mission; and 3) the utter randomness of the cosmic void. The results are resolved and you are taken back to the game’s dashboard screen, showing your ship {if it’s still afloat in space}, the over-space map of your travels thus far, and the mission report.
  • The mission report will detail the happenings of the mission, including the extent of your success or failure. If your ship has not been destroyed, detained, or has disappeared, then your next mission will involve the same ship and its continued travails through space. If it is gone, carrying the data, lessons, and its path up to its departure with you, you launch a new ship from Earth. From there, you can follow in its footsteps and yank on the leads gained from its prior mission, or go in a completely different direction within space. After each ‘turn’ within the game, it is your choice.
  • Some example results from {Low-Key Command} turns: You discover a planet, rich with resources and barren from life, the ship hovers over it, awaiting further instructions / You find a strange alien craft adrift in space, it blares a distress call, your ship awaits further instructions – or given your general instructions, the crew explored the craft and was systematically hunted and killed by a lithe alien hunter beast, not your ship lies derelict in space alongside this craft / You come upon an inhabited planet, your Captain and Communicator officers make leeway with the peoples, starting to communicate and exchange ideas and resources with them / You come upon an inhabited planet and they destroy your ship / You come upon an inhabited planet and attempt to conquer their people, the war is ongoing / You come upon a black hole and your ship is sucked in – the mission report turns in to archaic symbology that you have occult investigators looking into back on Earth… etc. etc. etc.
  • The possibilities within the game are endless, and as are the missions you can run in your low-key command. The more missions you do, the more opportunities you have to find new planets, resources, and technologies, and gain more territory, uncovering more and more of the far reaches of space. There is no ‘end’ to the game beyond when your rapacious curiosity comes to its end. Or you are fat upon the vast interstellar lands you have conquered as a wayfaring cosmic tyrant, inviting forces from dimensions beyond to beckon your measly seat of worldly power and challenge you – hunting down your territories in a systematic way, all the way back to Earth – and vaporizing it from the Universe. The game can end this way, with the cosmic consequences of your actions returning in the ultimately lethal way, back to Earth and its destruction.
  • The end of all games, if played for thousands of hours {or mere hundreds, if you do become that cosmic tyrant}, is the destruction of Earth via alien invader or our Sun exploding. Even if you have colonies within other zones of space, this will mark the end of the game.

Inspired By ~

FTL ~ Faster Than Light

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Star Trek Bridge Simulator

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Endless Space

Image result for endless space 2 map
Image result for endless space 2 map
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Endgame ~ A low-key experience upon the grandest of scales – of space and its cosmic highways – ripe for exploration and bold, human-borne activity of diplomatic negotiations of exchange, chaotic and devastating war, or something in between. {Low-Key Command} forces one to plan in advance, and consider the far reaching consequences of their actions, even while in a seat away from the action, momentarily safe from its harms. The experience of this game and your starship crew’s adventures throughout space may cultivate empathy for the steel and solid-state hearts and minds of your android crews, or embolden you into increasingly dangerous paths, given nothing real is at stake. ~