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The Fate of "Drums of War", "Erlkönig" & "Justice is blind"


So, hi there...

I come with bad news. As you might be aware, when TBP was ported to Knossos I took ownership of the Drums of War and my missions/campaigns I made for TBP years ago, and asked that they would not be released on Knossos without my consent.

When I made this decision, it was with the full intention to create an "enhanced" edition of Drums of War as well as to finally realize a sort-of-sequel that had been teased in the original release of Drums of War 3. However "the COVID-years" have not been good for me personally. That's why I was very glad to take a position in the localisation department of a major video game publisher.
When I first signed my contract it was only meant to be temporary, but I've been offered a permanent position and I've accepted.

This means for that for foreseeable future, I will bound by company policies - particularly when it comes to respecting intellectual property. Considering fan projects such of TBP are always at the mercy of an original rights holder to determine if they are in violation of the IP rights, I have to cut my losses when it comes to TBP.

What this means exactly:
- There will be no re-release of the Drums of War-trilogy on Knossos by me, neither the incomplete enhanced version nor the originals.

- I would like to everyone to respect my decision, even if you disagree.

- The projects "Erlkönig" and "Justice is blind" are effectively cancelled and will never be publicily released.

- To the people with whom I've shared WIP builds of these projects, I would ask you to please not release any story material from them. Any technical stuff, like my WIP "upgrade" to the AI based on Fury AI and the G'Quan-reskins by Nyctaeus, is fair game. If you like the story ideas, they are hardly original works, so I fight you if you want to adapt them - please follow the precedent set by Slasher with Relic (they adapted my story notes from another project and made something good out them).

Please note that other FSO projects, of which I am the primary author, might not be affected like this. There is a difference between the Freepace- and the Babylon 5-IPs, as that fan works of Freespace 1&2 are implicitly endorsed by the IP right holders thanks to the release of FRED with every version of Freespace 1 and 2 as well as the release of the FSO Source Code.

However I will not completly deprive you of a look of what could have been:

Drums of War - Enhanced

The story of the original Drums of War would have been unchanged: You are new recruit in the Narn navy and you begin your service aboard the cruiser Vol'Toth just as the hostilities between the Centauri Republic and the Intersetllar Alliance, as seen in Season 5 of the Babylon 5 kick off. When the Vol'Toth is deployed for raid against a Centauri command installation, it is swept up in what, unknown to you the player, is an unsanctioned offensive into a Centauri system. During that offensive, the Vol'Toth stumples onto a Drakh warship which is monitoring and directing their covert operations to fan the conflict.

After the Vol'Toth makes it escape, it remains on the run - first only from the Centauri, but an encounter with hostile Narn ship turns the whole affair upside down. As it turns out there have been factions inside the Narn Regime working to either escalate the conflict in a covert alliance with the Drakh or to expose that. The Vol'Toth and her crew were just bystanders which got swept up in this secret conflict.

Given only a name and a location, the Vol'Toth returns to Narn space in order to confirm these facts. However as they reach their destination they only arrive to see the Drakh turning on their Narn allies in order to hide their involvement. Thanks to the intervention of an Earth Alliance task force, deployed to supplement the Interstellar Allaince's blockades, the Vol'Toth is able to survive the engagement with the Drakh. Taken into Earth Allaince custody, the crew of the Vol'Toth are now witnesses to a war in the shadows that might just rage for years to come.

What would have been "enhanced":
- Most missions would have recieved a structural overhaul to make the coding more resilient and apply many lessons learned over the years.

- The envoirnments of many missions would have recived an upgrade, swapping out the layered bitmap nebulae for skyboxes and muting the lighting. A number of missions would have recieved additional scenery objects, including the removal of engine generate asteroid fields in favor of actual objects.

- The Narn ships would have been given distinct identies via color coding to signal their alliegances: the Vol'Toth would have been green, ships cooperating with Drakh (or posing at such) would be red, those seeking to expose the cooperation with the Drakh would be blue, and unalligned Narn ship would have been yellow.

- Much of the dialogue and the on-screen-text had been re-written, replaced and expanded upon. This was to make the campaign a bit more cohesive and tie it further into "Justice is blind".

"Justice is blind"

Some years have passed since the events of Drums of War. By agreement in the Instellar Alliance, investigating the events of the finale of Drums of War, as been assigned to Rangers in cooperation with the EAS Justitia and her taskforce - as the Earth Alliance has become an involved party when the Drakh destroyed the EAS Poseidon when it was defending the Vol'Toth. However even after years of searching for further evidence or any of primary individuals implicated of Narn-Drakh cooperation, there have only been slim pickings. No traces of the Drakh can be found anywhere either.

Moreover, after the Centauri's departure from the Interstellar Allaince, the "borderlands" between the Narn Regime and the Centauri Republic have fallen into lawlessness. The Centauri have mostly retreated behind their borders, looking out at a hostile galaxy. The Narn Regime on the other hand is still in recovery after the Centauri conquest and occupation - mounting the attack on Centauri prime along with the Drazi (as seen in Season 5) greatly overextended their military capabilites. The Rangers deployed to the region are not numerous enough to hunt down ever growing number of Smugglers, Raiders, Privateers and Mercenaries who are filling the power vaccuum.

The Justitia's investigation is close to grind to a halt when they are tipped off by unexpected source - the Gaim ambassador on Babylon 5. The Gaim do not really wish to involve themselves in affairs beyond their own territory but the situation is the borderlands has become alarming to them, as Narn territory borders on theirs. While at Babylon 5, the Justitia witnesses attack on a seemingly civilian ship, the attackers broadcasting a well known slogan for all to hear. The ship that is attack however refuses all assistance and insists to resupplies as scheudled and send on their way.

The Gaim's assistance puts the Justitia on the trail of a prolific arms dealer who has recently expaned into the manufacture of their own line of combat-ready fighters - supplying them to interested parties in the borderalnds. After raiding one of the arms dealer's automated factories and testing grounds, they are willing to surrender information about some of the fugitive Narn: They have have found shelters among the mercenaries in the borderlands, as military advisors - the role Narn intermediaries often played in the past.
And someone is paying a lot of money to not only assemble a fleet of mercenaries but also to keep that is build-up under wraps; which has given the fugitive Narn a perfect cover to ellude the Rangers and the Justitia.

Taking advantage of this intelligence, some pilots from Justitia pose as deserters from the Earth Allaince Civil War to infiltrate the ranks of the mercenaries, as they gather at an derelict Narn space station that was abandoned during the battles against the Dilgar.
The mercenary force encamped at the station is significant in number and firepower. But there doesn't appear to be any sign of their employers, and when pressed on who they are or how are paying for this. While the Justitia and her task force formulate a plan of attack, a Narn battlegroup arrives to break up the mercenary force. The Justitia is able to swoop in and with help of their infiltrators catch their suspects.

After the Justitia departs, their mission accomplished, the Narn battelgroup remains on site. And the following scene plays out:

--- Quote ---*The ships of the Narn battlegroup are engaged in operations to impound the mercenary ships. The camera focuses on the Narn flagship.*

(unseen): My superiors will be pleased that our relationship remains a mutually beneficial one, War Leader Tal’Kuir.

Tal’Kuir: This time, I have put myself in a very perilous position. The people who organized this are well connected and highly influential.

(unseen): They are merely puppets to a cause with no bearing on themselves …

*Black Omega Starfuy comes into frame*

Psi Cop: … as we deal with this affair on our end, any reason for them to target you should disappear.

*fade to black*

--- End quote ---
... this, of course, meant to set-up a sequel dealing with the destruction of the Psi Corps in the aftermath of Babylon 5 Season 5.


This story take place an unspecified time after the events of Thirdspace but before the conclusion of the Earth Alliance Civil War. You play as a Ranger assigned to a rapid response unit of two Whitestar.
Your unit responds to the distress call of passanger liner which has been hijacked and taken off course. You follow the liner to a long disused jump gate near what is either a black hole or gas giant (something that can serve as hideout and host for nebula missions).

Upon arrival the communication's link to the Liner breaks off, and you are forced to search the area. Eventually having to descent into the shrouded envorinment below. While you search for the Passenger ship, you and wingmates come across multiple ships, damaged and left behind - some of them even formidable warships, but all dead and abandoned.

As finally catch up the Liner, it takes only a minimal effort my your fellow rangers to board the ship and set in on course back to the jump gate. But then suddenly, a Earth Allaince destroyer bars your way only to vanish into thin air when challenged. Then enemy Starfuries begin to attack, only to vanish without a trace when destroyed or disabled.

As you emerge back into the open space with the Liner, you and your Whitestars are attacked from all sides. The enemies face are seemingly random and disappear into nothingness when their ships are destroyed. Eventually, a Thirdspace capital ship would reveal itself behind you and open long range fire as you escape with the Liner through the jump gate.

With this campaign I was trying my hand at the intersection of psychological and cosmic horror which the Thirdspace aliens are supposed to invoke.

During the campaign, esspecially during the missions in the nebular envoirnment, the campaign would have tracked in the background how much you were subjected to telepathic assault - giving you eerie whispers, showing you visions of Thirdspace, manifesting illusionary enemies and adding a ticking clock to the whole campaign: Can you finish this before the enemy gains enought Influence over your mind?

This was meant to facilitated by only the last two missions, when you escort Liner through the fog and to the jump gate, having combat encounters - while the other two missions where you search for the ship in and out of the fog where designed to only have you chasing signals with the assitance of custom HUG gauge. There would have also been hidden envoirnmental hazards which would have increased the rate of the telepathic assault to add a little peril.
Additionally, combat encounters with non-Thridspace ships would always feature a hidden "Mentalist"-Thirdspace fighter, which when attacked would disappear and end the combat encounter early.

The hidden ticking clock of the telepathic assault was major headache and the one reason why this project didn't see the light of day, simply because I never quite felt I had enough distinct signals set up for it to be meaningful. I didn't want to put in on the player's screen in numbers either - I hate it when games do numberical sanity meters.

I hope, you can understand why I am closing the book on these projects and stories. Even if you agree with me that they would have had the potential to be good.

Time and tide wait for no one after all.

I am sorry to hear that. About your reasons, did nobody ever asked the copyright holders if The Babylon Project was fine? After the cancellation of Into the Fire I am pretty sure that JMS himself would be proud of TBP, and now with talks about a remake going on, any kind of game keeping the memory alive could only benefit the copyright holders, whoever they are.

The E:

--- Quote from: wesp5 on September 03, 2022, 03:38:02 pm ---I am sorry to hear that. About your reasons, did nobody ever asked the copyright holders if The Babylon Project was fine? After the cancellation of Into the Fire I am pretty sure that JMS himself would be proud of TBP, and now with talks about a remake going on, any kind of game keeping the memory alive could only benefit the copyright holders, whoever they are.

--- End quote ---

That is not how that works. JMS isn't the owner of the B5 IP, and whether or not he would approve of it (he is kinda obligated to never, ever look at it or ackknowledge it in any way) is immaterial. It is, like any fan work not explicitly authorized by the actual IP owner, entirely dependant on the IP owner being ignorant of it.

Hm, so who is the owner of the B5 IP? Warner Brothers?

The E oversimplifies terribly but they are not wrong. When it comes to gaming there is no chance for the kind of fan license deals you can get for the short films or written fan fiction. When it comes to games these are just not practical, esspecially in the present day when one of the major cultural phenomena associated with gaming is the continious production of derived works (e.g. Let's Plays).

Before I close the book fully, I want to leave you with something from the Erlkönig script - which I think is one of my finer pieces of writing, and I hate consign it to total obscurity:

Preamble: As part of the telepathic attack throughout Erlkönig a series of "auditory" haluciations were planned to occur. As the Thirdspace Aliens tried to worm their way into the player's mind they would hear fragments of memories associated with the past of the Player POV Ranger character, including a battle speech from the battle at Coriana VI, memories of encounters with Shadows and Vorlons, as well as other unsaviory character, a Ranger would have met while walking the in dark place that no one would dare enter.
However there was also planned to be one that was more wholesome - Memories of the Ranger training on the Minbari Homeworld. The following text are these fragments:

Fragment 1:
A Minbari soul searches the universe: for beauty, for truth, for justice; for the light it nurtures, and for the dark it has to push back.

Fragment 2:
That you are here, that you were compelled to be here, is the call of the soul – through birth and death, rebirth and death again.

Fragment 3:
Minbari souls are reborn in the next generation of our people. So, we continue, as long as the Universe gives us form and thought.

Fragment 4:
The shape of a Minbari soul is not a matter of the body - as the souls of Minbari come now to us in human bodies - it is a matter of a purpose.


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