Author Topic: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas  (Read 34189 times)

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I love the sense of almost godly invincibility the Shivans give off in Freespace 2. Some people might disagree but oh man did I fear them by the end of that game. Yes, the GTVA doesn't initially fear the Sathanas. It doesn't initially fear the Shivans. After they destroy the Ravana they enter the nebula merrily, are freaked out by the Sathanas but then the Collosaus destroys it too and they figure they've got nothing to fear.

But then they realize that the Sathanas is just a mainstray Shivan vessel and one of dozens (if not hundreds/thousands).

"80 Sathanas juggernaughts". You just get the sense of this vast and unstoppable armada. It's far more desperate than Freespace 1 because, as scary as the Lucifer Fleet was, it was just one fleet. FS2 gave you a sense of the incomprehensible scale of the Shivan fleet, the GTVA can't even begin to fathom how big the Shivan fleet is.

Furthermore, unlike in FS1, the GTVA loses in FS2. They freaking lose. I don't know why some people think otherwise. The last mission, one of my favorites, is just a mad rush of civilians trying desperately to escape and getting slaughtered by the thousands while you and your wingmen desperately try to protect them. And then the entire Capellan star system is wiped out and the GTVA has to escape with its tail between its legs.

Sure, they 'escape' the Shivans but they don't beat them. Not at all. Not even close. And furthermore the game ends knowing that escaping Capella may not be a permanent solution, the Shivans may well be back sometime. *gulp*

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
Agreed.

You could argue that the Shivans really are the Great Preservers. And if they can't wipe out a civilization before it gets too egotistical, they're happy to bottle them up.

Not that that's the only explanation for their behavior.

 

Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
The problem with saying that it was about arrogance was that, really, it wasn't. They were wrong, but they were not arrogant. Arrogance requires unfounded faith in superiority when there is evidence to the contrary.

There is no evidence to the contrary. The GTVA has no means of determining that the Shivans are so vastly stronger than they surmise. They are operating in a manner totally consistent with the information available to them. It's easy to sit here and call it arrogance but the truth is the GTVA behaved in a very logical manner. They were simply deprived of all the normal means of intelligence-gathering on their enemies and so had no conception and no way to gain such a conception of their opponent's strength.

So FS2 isn't about arrogance. It's about lessons learned, about growth.

FS1 was Terran and Vasudan faltering steps upon the stage, about realizing they are in deeply over their head technologically and tactically.

FS2 is the lesson that we have caught up technologically and exceeded tactically, but our intelligence gathering and/or strength are not up to the task.

FS3 would be where we match or exceed.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
An optimistic projection, but the writing betrays hubris:

"With the Colossus, we have nothing more to fear."

"...securing peace in our time, and for generations to come."

"...having proven once and for all our technological and tactical superiority over our Great War enemies."

And allied recon elements encountered the Sathanas in the very first sortie into the nebula - Kappa Wing, after all. They just didn't make it home.

Moreover, 'acting in a manner totally consistent with the information available to them', in the face of a species that annihilated (at the very least) the Ancient Empire, is pretty much hubris on its own.

It's possible your reading of the text is correct, but I don't think it can be considered a definitive certainty that it 'wasn't about arrogance.'

You say that arrogance requires unfounded faith in superiority when there is evidence to the contrary, but the existence of those quotes above - combined with the assumption that the Shivans that the Ravana was the best they had, or that the Shivans had only one Sathanas - seems to be just that.

 

Offline Trivial Psychic

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I agree that in FS2, GTVA does display a degree of arrogance, but its tempered by always having a back-up plan.  Think of it...  when the Sath showed up, they first tried to ambush it, which could have worked all-be-it with expected losses.  When it headed for Gamma Draconis, the backup plan was to take out the Knossos.  They succeeded in accomplishing this, but they underestimated the technology, so they went with the next backup plan... the Colossus.  Granted, that could have been a disaster it "Bear Bating" had been less than fully successful.  Even as they prepared to take out the Knossos, Command was already implementing the backup plan of evacuating Capella and prepping the Bastion and Nereid to collapse the nodes.  They didn't just consider all options, they got to work on them.  I seem to think that Command even was preparing the evacuation plan as soon as they entered the nebula, keeping the "Destroy the Knossos" as the main defense plan.  If they'd been totally arrogant, they'd have just thought "our fleet can handle anything the Shivans can throw at us", and left it at that.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
That's a good point.

 
Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I don't know if it's arrogance per say. The GTVA was smart about their expedition into the portal. They knew there was a Shivan threat but they wanted to at least try and study the Knossos to try and help them restore contact with Earth. And it's true they did implement a lot of back up plans just in case things went bad.

The problem was they were just thinking in human/Vasudan terms. In our sense of scale. Up until eighty Sathanas juggernaughts blitzed through Capella's defenses and wiped out the entire star system both the Terrans AND the Vasudans were incapable of comprehending what a massive threat the Shivans are. They can't think like the Shivans, they can only make wild speculations as to Shivan motives.

The Shivans are ancient. Think of how massive their fleet must be. How many "warships" they've built since the war with the Ancients and before. It's just not possible to fathom. A "massive" fleet in Terran and Vasudan scale is just a little expeditionary force for the Shivans. Or a tiny little lost renegade fleet. Or whatever the heck the Lucifer Fleet's purpose was.

It's not really the GTVA's fault. They're just so far out of their league when they go against the Shivans that it's not even funny. The same thing happened with the Ancients me thinks. From my understanding the Shivan eradication of the Ancients took several centuries. I wouldn't doubt that the Ancients tried to shut access into their systems by collapsing jump nodes like the GTVA did at Capella and that probably did delay the Shivans but even if they come back after 50, 100, 200 years... they still come back. It's pessimistic but I just see the GTVA, eventually, sharing the same fate as the Ancients even if it takes 1,000 years.

That's why I feared the Shivans so much after FS2. The end of that game just made me feel the inevitable. "Each civilization built upon the ruins of the last" like Bosch said, and we're next! *gulp*

 

Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I concur.

I think the only way to preserve the purity and interest of the Shivans as a menace is to consider them non-sentient (at least by human standards.) Rather, they act like a galactic immune system: becoming inflamed, reacting in highly adaptive and highly effective but non-sapient ways, escalating the response as necessary. Individual warships are cells, perhaps even antibodies.

Only on the broadest, most systemic scale are the Shivans voraciously intelligent, but their overall species 'cognition' operates on a timescale of centuries or millennia. And it doesn't occur by some kind of cliched telepathic network, but simply by the emergent properties of the Shivans themselves. No element of the system thinks, but the system as a whole does (rather like the human brain.)

That avoids both the hivemind cliche and the need to make the Shivans into 'people'. And it raises challenging questions about the effectiveness of human-style individual cognition as the best way to succeed in the cosmos.

I also like the suggestion that the Shivans literally reify from subspace. Maybe they were designed - put there to prevent any one species from achieving galactic or universal hegemony. Maybe the 'bigger problem' Volition hinted at was the humans and Vasudans themselves: what might they become if unfettered by the Shivans? A universal monoculture, devoid of diversity, vulnerable to destruction by a single shattering blow?

 

Offline ThesaurusRex

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
Wait, if I understand this correctly, there is an idea here that the shivan's main purpose is to encounter civilizations that have "over stepped their bounds" and destroy them. However, if we follow the story of FS2, we can see that the contact with the shivans was a voluntary action taken by the NTF. They entered into possible shivan territory and lured them in with the Knossos portal.

Also with the lack of information concerning the shivans in the years before the second shivan incursion, the GTVA latest intel on the shivans was an outdated memory, like a snapshot frozen in time. They only prepared for the shivans they encountered during the great war and that is why they felt that they had a technological superiority. It may have been presumptuous to think that the shivans would remain static, and that they could advance their technology beyond that of their adversary. But there was not much else they could have done. That is, unless you wanted the GTVA to remain forever fearful and live in constant vigilance, not much else could have been done by the GTVA. The best they could do was make estimates about their enemy and strive to obtain a hard fought victory and near defeat in any future encounter with them. The GTVA took what they felt were the necessary precautions and we should not criticize them for it. They may have appeared arrogant but it was better than believing that they had no hope and would eventually die off. It not only kept them motivated but it also gave them a reason to live.
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Offline colecampbell666

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
No, they only activated the portal.
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Offline High Max

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
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« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 05:20:18 pm by High Max »
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Offline colecampbell666

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I know it was for balance purposes though
Not at all, beam code in FS1 was incomplete at the deadline IIRC.
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Offline ThesaurusRex

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
No, they only activated the portal.
Sorry, what I should have said was that the NTF lured the Shivans into the system by activating the Knossos portal. I think there's a mention of this in one of the briefings.
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Offline NGTM-1R

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
An optimistic projection, but the writing betrays hubris:

"With the Colossus, we have nothing more to fear."

"...securing peace in our time, and for generations to come."

"...having proven once and for all our technological and tactical superiority over our Great War enemies."

But all of these statements are absolutely true, as far as they (and the player!) know. The wording isn't terribly conservative, but it's not wrong.

And allied recon elements encountered the Sathanas in the very first sortie into the nebula - Kappa Wing, after all. They just didn't make it home.

Meaning the GTVA didn't know better. That they encountered it was irrevelant; we don't even known, in fact, that Kappa actually did encounter the Sathanas. Some of us just think so. (While others note that the area within that close proximity to the node that Kappa would have patrolled would have been crossed and recrossed in the following weeks and engagements; Kappa would have almost certainly have to have subspace jumped to run into the Sathanas when nobody else does so. It's much more likely they met a Ravana, which is impressive enough. If you don't believe that, ask the Delacroix. And Kappa didn't know the Colossus existed, a Ravana or three would have been bad enough to provoke that kind of panic.)

Moreover, 'acting in a manner totally consistent with the information available to them', in the face of a species that annihilated (at the very least) the Ancient Empire, is pretty much hubris on its own.

But how they did just that is a known quantity (shielding and the Lucifer's sheathe-shielding) and one the GTVA is capable of defending against.

You say that arrogance requires unfounded faith in superiority when there is evidence to the contrary, but the existence of those quotes above - combined with the assumption that the Shivans that the Ravana was the best they had, or that the Shivans had only one Sathanas - seems to be just that.

On the contrary; nothing you've posisted was contradictory to anything I said. That the Ravana was the best the Shivans had was never stated, and seems a poor assumption that nobody in the game actually made. They were basing their knowledge of the Shivans on current recon, which suggested only one destroyer in the immediate area, and the battle against the Lucifer fleet, which wasn't very large. Similarly, the conception of a single Sathanas seemed reasonable at the time; the ship represents a massive investment of resources and appears to occupy the fleet heirarchy posistion that the Lucifer did considering a serious lack of Shivan destroyer contacts during the war so far. The only reliable intel they had on Shivan fleet organization comes from the Great War, and it seemed to be borne out by recon and combat experience so far.
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
*shrug* I guess it depends on your reading of the text, then. Arguments can be made.

But, as with Windmills, I think you're focusing too much on the largely irrelevant technical details of the narrative and missing the overall themes. But that's just my personal opinion, and not a dispositional attack on you - as with all things literary, it varies from reader to reader.

 

Offline High Max

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
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« Last Edit: January 04, 2010, 05:21:54 pm by High Max »
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Offline General Battuta

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
They weren't beams, though - just long trails. So cole's correct to say the code wasn't ready.

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
Yep. Bosch believed that trying to fight the Shivans would result in the end of humanity even before seeing the Sathanas fleet.
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Offline ThesaurusRex

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
I'm sure that we have all hear that, "The Shivans are the great destroyers, but they are also the great preservers." This quote is kind of ironic and funny since the civilizations they preserve now will most likely end up being destroyed by them later. In the FS games there is no evidence of any other civilizations aside from the main three. The question can be asked. What are they preserving?
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Offline eliex

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Re: The one thing I didn't like about FS2 was how it handled the Sathanas
In the FS games there is no evidence of any other civilizations aside from the main three. The question can be asked. What are they preserving?

There is another race called the Ancients and at the time of FS, long extinct.
The Ancients at their prime destroyed many other budding civilizations and worlds, and might have even destroyed Earth and Vasuda Prime before the Terrans and Vasudans reached space. By destroying the Ancients, the Shivans in a sense saves budding civilizations from one race that will dominate the entire galaxy.