Blue Planet

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From our odyssey into Hell, we return with a gift...

Blue Planet is a series of campaigns set 18 years after the events of FreeSpace 2. With the Alliance in economic turmoil, Terran-Vasudan relations decaying, and the Security Council grappling with the ominous Contingency Morpheus, the GTVA's elite 14th Battlegroup spearheads the effort to re-establish contact with Earth.

Blue Planet is very widely known throughout the Hard Light Productions (HLP) community as being one of the best user-made campaign projects of all-time, excelling in story concept, mission design, cutscene use and music selection.

Contents

Story

It is 2385, fifty years after the appearance of the Shivans at Ross 128 and the beginning of the Great War and eighteen years following the Capella supernova and conclusion of the Second Shivan Incursion. Using Knossos-derived technology, the GTVA have finally completed the construction of a subspace portal, stabilising the subspace corridor linking Delta Serpentis to Sol, the birthplace of the Terrans. After sending numerous probes through the portal, the GTVA decides that the node had indeed stabilised, and proceeds to send in the real ambassadors.

Blue Planet: Age of Aquarius (AoA), released in 2007, introduces the universe, and describes the struggles and adventures of the GTVA's 14th Battlegroup, an elite force of ships sent on a mission to re-establish contact with Earth. As they take a detour through a parallel reality where the Lucifer succeeded in wiping out Earth during the events of the original FreeSpace, one officer gains insight into the greater forces at work in the fabric of the multiverse.

The first part of Blue Planet: War in Heaven (WiH), released in August 2010, details the final weeks of a civil war between the government of Earth and the GTVA after contact was re-established. It focuses on the journey of a young woman torn between the ideals of her upbringing and the necessities of war. The GTVA, the UEF, and the other factions of the war struggle to shape the future of humanity and the Vasudan race as apocalypse looms.

Missions

Age of Aquarius

  • One 22-mission campaign

War in Heaven

  • One 30-mission campaign (estimated)
  • One 1-mission campaign
  • Two single missions

Factions

Galactic Terran-Vasudan Alliance

The GTVA's most powerful vessel since the Colossus—the GTD Raynor.
The Alliance's next-generation space superiority fighter—the GTF Atalanta.

Summary

The Blue Planet continuity begins in 2385, only 18 years after the NTF Rebellion and Second Shivan Incursion. Following the GTVA's production doctrine employed between the Great War of 2335 and the NTF Rebellion of 2367, a number of FS2-era ships are still used, although most FS1-era ships, by contrast, have been phased out. Ships in active production are determined by their age, popularity among pilots, practicality and irreplaceableness. At the same time, in response to the massive losses sustained as a result of the Second Shivan Incursion, the Alliance pushed forward the Threat Exigency Initiative, an extensive upgrading and redeployment project that spans the Terran arm of the GTVA. Lessons learned from the lack of proper logistical support in remote locations also prompted the introduction of a new "Logistics" class, non-combatant ships designed to serve as mobile installations.

The Threat Exigency Initiative, conceived as a more proper deterrent to the threat of future invasions, ushered in an age of new warships and battle doctrines inspired, ironically, by the Shivans, fighters that can operate more independently, and weapons designed to be as versatile as possible. Products of the Threat Exigency Initiative include the GTD Raynor, a three-kilometre destroyer mounting a powerful forward beam cannon, warship-mounted heavy torpedo launchers, fast-firing pulse weapons that serve as secondary and tertiary warship armaments, the Aurora heavy reconnaissance fighter, and the Balor, a rapid-firing, energy-efficient fighter-mounted particle blaster.

Warships

While many Capella-era warships remain in active production, most of the Great War-era warships have been phased out. The only remaining class of warship from the Great War that is still servicing the front lines is the GTD Orion. With the addition of the GTD Raynor into the ranks of the Terran fleet, the Orion's lengthy service to the Alliance has at last reached its final stages. Only a few Orion-class destroyers remain in active service. The Capella-era warships are supplemented by warships designed and pushed into production as a result of the post-Capella Threat Exigency Initiative.

Virtually all Capella-era warships remain in active service, although some warship classes have been sorted into different sub-classes. For instance, the Hecate-class, first commissioned as a destroyer during the NTF Rebellion, has since been sub-classified as a carrier following a mediocre performance in the anti-warship field during the Second Shivan Incursion. The effectiveness of the Aeolus cruiser during the Second Shivan Incursion, combined with cheaper manufacturing techniques, meant that the Alliance resumed production for a cruiser class that originally had production lines cut after only twenty-four vessels were commissioned. Although still officially classified as a cruiser, the deployment of the Aeolus in the modern era is much closer to a tactical gunboat and warship escort. The Deimos-class corvette now forms the core of Alliance corvette battlegroups, serving as an all-round warship.

The Threat Exigency Initiative ushered in a new generation of warships that are generally faster and more agile than their Capella-era counterparts and are equipped with better-placed anti-fighter defenses, as well as secondary and tertiary anti-warship armaments such as anti-warship torpedoes and pulse cannons. The most powerful warship brought into service as a result of this project is the GTD Raynor, a three-kilometre destroyer capable of projecting at least 50% of its armaments in virtually any direction. Other warships pushed into production include the GTD Titan, a destroyer sporting a devastating frontal array of three Ice Queen heavy beam cannons and cavernous hangar, the GTCv Diomedes, a strike corvette mounting several Bull Frost tactical slashing beams, and the GTL Anemoi, a massive logistics vessel that can resupply and repair any ship ranging from fighter to destroyer and carry enough supplies and equipment to sustain a small fleet for months.

Spacecraft

Nearly all Great War-era spacecraft have been pulled from active service and sold off to third parties or used as training targets. The only two exceptions to this fate are the Ulysses fighter and Ursa assault bomber. Of these two, the Ulysses remains in limited production and is no longer used in front-line operations, while the Ursa, despite its incredibly lethargic speed and sluggish manoeuvrability, still retains its original role in the Alliance fleet, although no plans have been drawn up to create a new class of bombers taking after the design philosophies of the Ursa.

By sharp contrast to the current deployment of all Capella-era warships, a number of Capella-era spacecraft have been slated to be pulled from active service. The two most prominent ship classes befalling this fate are the GTF Myrmidon, cited as being a powerful but excessively large fighter by many former Rebel pilots who have flown it, as well as the GTF Erinyes, deemed to be too complicated to improve upon. At the opposite end of the spectrum are ship classes such as the GTB Artemis and GTF Perseus, the former now mass-produced as the Alliance's main strike bomber, and the latter now reclassified and deployed as the Alliance's main space superiority fighter.

Four fighter classes and one bomber class have been brought into service as a result of the Threat Exigency Initiative: the Aurora heavy reconnaissance fighter, sporting enhanced sensors that can navigate the thickest nebula and detect stealth ships, all packaged in a decently armoured spaceframe; the Draco interceptor, with an insanely high velocity rating allowing it to escort several warships at once; the Atalanta advanced space superiority fighter, with its high speed and agility as well as excellent weapons compatibility; the GTF Nyx, a heavy fighter that blends the firepower of eight gun banks with a level of agility comparable to the Perseus; and the GTB Rhea, a strike bomber with an asymmetrical weapons configuration that has been regarded as a statistical success among bomber squadrons.

Weaponry

Lessons learned during the Second Shivan Incursion, at the cost of thousands of lives, prompted the GTVA to begin upgrading several warships in service after the Capella supernova, as well as to phase out older weapons that have been used for the past five decades and replace them with more modern weaponry. One of the Threat Exigency Initiative's primary goals is to produce better warship armaments and it has, to date, produced three different types of anti-warship weaponry. At the forefront of this are the range of new beam cannons installed on the GTVA's newest line of warships, such as the Winter King heavy beam mounted at the bow of the Raynor destroyer, and the Bull Frost tactical slashing beam mounted on the Diomedes corvette. The second type of anti-warship weapons developed are anti-warship torpedoes, serving as secondary weapons on the Raynor and Titan destroyers as well as friendly artillery. The third and final type of anti-warship weapons are pulse cannons, serving as battery weapons on heavier ships. Both the Hellstar and Riptide pulse cannons are recent developments of Morgan Technologies, and have yet to be fully integrated into GTVA battle doctrine.

Much of the GTVA's fighter-mounted weaponry remains the same, although the Balor rapid-fire particle blaster, so far the only fighter-mounted primary cannon developed by the Threat Exigency Initiative, adds a much-needed and fearsome complement to the standard-issue GTW Subach HL-7. The Balor was designed to serve and destroy everything short of a light cruiser, and it was designed to be far more versatile than nearly every other fighter-compatible primary gun in the GTVA arsenal. At the time of the Sol Gate's completion, the Balor was brand-new, and GTVA battle doctrine did not fully integrate it. By the time of the UEF-GTVA war, however, the Balor has seen widespread use in nearly every stage of the conflict.

While the GTM Trebuchet is now commonly used as a long-range heavy missile for destroying slower, heavier ships, the Alliance have also pushed a new missile into production lines—the GTM TAG-C. This, the third and final iteration of the Target Acquisition and Guidance line of missiles, not only retains the painting beacon of the GTM TAG-A and aspect-seeking technology of the GTM TAG-B, but combines both with a highly sophisticated targeting beacon that will, on impact, transmit authorisation codes to a local friendly warship. Any large vessel unlucky enough to be hit by a TAG-C will have to deal with the barrage of anti-warship torpedoes that emerge from subspace. The TAG-C enables even fighters to deliver the same warship-shattering punch as an assault bomber.

United Earth Federation

The be-all and end-all of the UEF's military might—the UED Solaris.
The fastest ship in the UEF fleet on afterburners—the UEF Kentauroi.

Summary

In the fifty years following the collapse of the Sol-Delta Serpentis jump node, the Galactic Terran Alliance was reorganised into the United Earth Federation, or UEF, headed by the Global Ubuntu Party.

The Ubuntu Party placed emphasis on economic recovery and political stability, rather than military strength. What was left of the old GTA military was scrapped and slimmed down to suit the need of only being able to maintain order throughout much of an entire star system. Standard military doctrine in the UEF places emphasis on frigates that can serve as mobile carriers and operate in remote locations for lengthy periods, as well as versatile fighters that can be reassigned to numerous roles in a single operation. The main base of operations for each of the UEF's three fleets is a Solaris-class destroyer, a formidable carrier and command vessel that is never deployed on the front lines unless absolutely necessary.

Warships

The UEF only has three destroyers in active service, all of them Solaris-class destroyers. Each of these destroyers serve as a base of operations to the Federation's three fleets, as well as their commanding officers. Originally considered to be "a solution to a non-existent problem", the Solaris, Toutatis and Eris now serve at the very centre of the UEF's battle doctrine and, despite being designed to effectively neutralise an attack from any direction, are rarely seen on the front-lines. Instead, most military operations are carried out either by the fighter squadrons within these fleets or by smaller, faster frigates and cruisers assigned to each fleet.

Frigates and cruisers make up the Federation's primary attacking force. The two frigate classes currently in active service, the Karuna and Narayana, both sport a hangar capable of housing a small fighter squadron, and the sole cruiser class, the corvette-sized Sanctus, is used in almost the same manner as the GTVA deploys the Deimos. Although every frigate and cruiser in the Federation is assigned to one of the three fleets, they are often deployed on their own, away from the Solaris-class destroyer that serves as their fleet's home base.

Spacecraft

The Federation makes heavy use of high-performance spacecraft that are generally much more agile and versatile than their GTVA counterparts. Almost every fighter class is capable of reverse thrust, as well as reverse afterburn, adding to their overall versatility on the field. The Federation's main space superiority fighter is the UEF Uhlan, an all-round ship capable of fulfilling any fighter role as the situation demands. Other common ships include the UEF Kentauroi, the Federation's cross between the GTVA's Nyx and Perseus fighters, the UEF Uriel, a heavy assault fighter sporting a long-range gauss cannon, and the UEB Durga, an assault bomber with the firepower to level entire cities. The Federation also produces an additional class of spacecraft, the UEF Lao Tze, an extremely powerful but difficult to fly heavy fighter used primarily by the elite Knights of the White Brotherhood.

Weaponry

While the GTVA have spent decades developing beam and energy-based weaponry, Federation anti-warship armaments, on the other hand, follow a more traditional kinetic-based principle. The primary stopping power of the UEF's two frigate classes, the Karuna and Narayana, are a pair of powerful bow-mounted heavy mass drivers that are complemented by their own targeting system, allowing them to incapacitate crucial enemy subsystems or turrets at will. The Solaris destroyer's primary weapons, however, come in the form of twelve heavy torpedo launchers that can easily decimate anything short of a superdestroyer in a matter of minutes. Secondary armament on all ships are made up of a mixture of anti-fighter tracers, flak guns and smaller anti-subsystem torpedo launchers.

The technology that powers Federation fighter-mounted weaponry, although crude and slightly dated as compared to the much greater level of sophistication seen in Alliance weaponry, is nonetheless just as effective, if not more so. The standard-issue SCWS-1 Vulcan is a rapid-firing plasma cannon that can easily track torpedoes and even the fastest ships produced by the Alliance, while the slightly heavier SCWS-2 Maul sacrifices refire rate for even more damage per shot. In the many decades since the Great War, the legendary GTW Prometheus has been remade into the SCWS-6 Rapier, the most powerful fighter-compatible plasma weapon available to the standard Federation pilot, capable of Swiss-cheesing even the heaviest fighters in the Alliance with a few shots. Federation gunships such as the Uriel-class mount a third weapon: a long-range ammo-based mass driver, such as the Archer or Vajra, designed to obliterate turrets and subsystems from beyond regular retaliation range.

The UEF sports a slightly wider variety of secondary weapons compared to the GTVA. In addition to the regular Hellfire dumbfire missile, Javelin aspect-seeking dogfight missile, Grimler heavy missile and Paveway anti-subsystem missile, as well as three anti-warship torpedoes, the Federation also produces two fire-and-forget swarm missiles, called the Dirk and Dart, as well as the dreaded Slammer suppression missile, an aspect-seeking cluster missile containing heat-seeking explosive charges. While the Dirk and Dart provide Federation pilots with a third tier of dogfight missiles to choose from, the Slammer, on the other hand, has gained a reputation among the GTVA for being a fighter- and bomber-killer, capable of destroying entire wings with one hit, and is the most feared weapon in the UEF's arsenal of missiles.

Vishnans

The embodiment of Vishnu—the Vishnan Preserver.
The first known Vishnan ship ever encountered—the Vishnan Missionary.
See also: Vishnans

Summary

The Vishnans are a new species introduced in Blue Planet. They describe themselves as Great Preservers and counterparts of the Shivans, though initial contact with their species was possibly violent. What little is known about the Vishnans is sketchy and fairly inaccurate at best. The full capabilities of the Vishnans are, like the Shivans, unknown to the Terrans or Vasudans. What is established is that the Vishnans are arguably the only race capable of matching the Shivans.

All Vishnan ships are unmanned, piloted by instanced sub-sets of the species' superordinate consciousness nested in a hierarchical dependency of cognitive structure. They have not been encountered in the same universe as the GTVA and UEF, although it is hinted that they do exist.

Warships

Only four classes of Vishnan warships have been encountered so far, the largest simply designated the Vishnan Preserver. The Preserver appears to be a superjuggernaut with enormous tactical and strategic capabilities, including the modification of jump nodes. It may be unique.

The Vishnans' main warship is a massive squid-like vessel designated the Vishnan Sacred Keeper. While classified as a destroyer, the Keeper is able to go toe-to-toe with a Shivan Sathanas-class juggernaut, and its hull rating is well within superdestroyer levels. With a large beam emitter built into its underside, the Keeper is usually heavily guarded by a number of cruiser-class Vishnan Arbiters and gunship-class Vishnan Protectors. The Keeper is the core of its entire fleet and is integral to their ability to communicate with their superconsciousness.

The Keeper's escorts, the Arbiter and Protector, are smaller, faster vessels armed with lighter beam cannons. They do not usually undertake and complete tasks on their own, but instead provide fire support for Vishnan strikecraft and, in return, require escort from enemy fighters and bombers on occasion due to their sub-par defences.

Spacecraft

To date, the Vishnans are known to possess two fighter classes and two bomber classes. Vishnan spacecraft vastly outperform their Shivan equivalents, with their fighters capable of flying circles around even the extremely agile Shivan Dragon-class fighter, and their bombers manoeuvrable enough to defend themselves and not compromise on secondary weapons. All Vishnan spacecraft are made of a crystalline compound that repairs itself over time. On the downside, Vishnan spacecraft number a lot less than their Shivan counterparts. Most Vishnan wings hardly ever exceed three ships, while Shivan ships by contrast are usually deployed in wings exceeding four ships.

The most commonly seen Vishnan spacecraft is designated the Vishnan Missionary. Agile and fast, the Missionary is an interceptor, reconnaissance vessel and space superiority fighter all in one. It was the first known Vishnan spacecraft ever encountered by the Alliance. The other Vishnan fighter, the Vishnan Preacher, sacrifices speed and secondary weapon capacity for additional durability and an impressive combined primary firepower of ten guns.

The Vishnans' main bomber, designated the Vishnan Seeker, is a medium strike bomber that can carry approximately the same amount of ordnance as the GTB Ursa. The other bomber class is the massive Vishnan Inquisitor, capable of carrying torpedoes that can easily level anything smaller than a superdestroyer with a few hits.

Weaponry

See also: Vishnan Beam Weapons

The Vishnans are the second species ever encountered by the Terrans and Vasudans to already demonstrate beam capability. The two most powerful of these beams are mounted only on the Preserver and Sacred Keeper, while the lighter, smaller beams are mounted onto the Arbiters and Protectors. Vishnan beam weapons out-range and out-damage Shivan beams by a significant margin, but do not recharge as quickly.

Fighter-mounted Vishnan weaponry lack diversity as compared to Terran, Vasudan and even Shivan weaponry. Only one kind of primary weapon is used across all Vishnan fighters and bombers to date. The Vishnan Primary is a medium-firing heavy cannon that can double up as an anti-subsystem weapon.

Three classes of Vishnan secondary weapons are known to date. The Vishnan Missile is an aspect-seeking missile that can also be used as a light anti-subsystem missile, while the Vishnan Megabomb is used in the same manner as the GTVA's Cyclops torpedo, although it is far more powerful. The third class of Vishnan missile, the Vishnan Ultrabomb, is a torpedo containing a subspace device that, on impact, transfers a devastating warhead from within a nearby Keeper onto the target.

Development

Original Concept

"Wow."
—excerpt of Reply #60 of the original Age of Aquarius release thread, by Jeff Vader [1]

Blue Planet started off as a one-man project by Darius, much akin to how The Procyon Insurgency was created. When Age of Aquarius was released, several members of the community pointed out numerous errors and problems with the campaign, including crashes, missing effects, and empty tech room descriptions. As a consolation, these members also added praise to the portions of Age of Aquarius that did play out as planned, adding special mention to the harder missions, such as Keepers of Hell, and the music used in other missions, such as Forced Entry. The numerous errors, glitches and issues prompted Darius to release a patch only two days after it was first released. Almost immediately after the patch was released, comments on the campaign shifted from its issues and praise to praise only. Much of the initial praise was targeted at three aspects of the campaign:

  • mission design and difficulty;
  • background music; and
  • storyline.

Age of Aquarius also came in for special praise as it made extensive use of FS2_Open's cutscene feature, which was relatively new and unused at the time.

The Team

"Very funny, Goob."
—the first post on the Blue Planet board, by NGTM-1R [2]

Blue Planet as a project team, however, did not take off until about ten months later, when Age of Aquarius began to be relayed to newcomers as a recommended FS2_Open campaign, alongside stalwarts such as Derelict and Warzone. The formation of the Blue Planet board on the Hard Light Productions Forum's Hosted Projects section—reserved only for the most active hosted projects on HLP—was initially viewed as a joke, but ultimately became the catalyst needed for the formation of the project team as it is today. Over the course of the next few months, the size of the Blue Planet team grew rapidly. Initially comprising only Darius, as of August 2010, the Blue Planet team is made up of sixteen core members and six beta-testers.

War in Heaven

Not too long after the release of Age of Aquarius, Darius had finished conceiving a storyline for War in Heaven. However, he chose to wait until enough positive feedback was received from members of HLP before attempting to work on it. The development cycle of WiH was accelerated by rapid expansion of the project team from 2009 to early 2010, as well as the use of subversion, enabling all members of the team to work on the same version of the project.

Releases

Age of Aquarius was first released on October 3, 2007, and the first patch for it was released two days later on October 5. In February 2010, AoA was rereleased with voice acting, reorganized modpack, and new assets.

The first part of War in Heaven, consisting of the first two acts (15 missions) was released on August 7, 2010. The third act was released on January 7, 2013.

Developers

Project Staff

  • DariusProject lead
  • AxemJust another FREDder
  • BelisariusMusic composer
  • blowfishModeller
  • CobraVoice acting management assistance
  • Daddy WarholMusic composer
  • Dilmah GMission designer, Military advisor
  • DragonTexture artist
  • EsaraiModeller
  • FuryTabler, AI lead
  • General BattutaWriter, Mission designer
  • HerraTohtoriSkybox artist
  • NighteyesEffects artist
  • RianScript content redundancy axe-man, Character writer
  • Steve OModel contributor, Paternal figure
  • The ECodework, Mission work, Model work, Writer
  • WandererEffects artist
  • ZacamTesting, Mod pack management, SVN manager

Beta Testers

See Also

Related Links

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