Author Topic: So, FS3 could be like...  (Read 2004 times)

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So, FS3 could be like...
As I promised, here's the little story I wrought for the B'day of our beloved Queen :)

Serious though, I took as many things from the "Battuta interviews Volition" thread as possible; and the result is different from any (released) campaign I know of. It might be not everybodys darling, but I like it :D

FS2 Expansion - <insert random Sol war here>

FS3 - 2400

Changes in the Nodemap: Uses the extended BWO-nodemap, minus Cygnus-X1. Addontional nodes:
-Gehenna links Ross 128, Ikeya and the Nebula system.
-Addontional node between Epsilon Eridani and Aldebaran.

Backstory: Shortly after the end of the Reunion war with Earth in 2390, GTVEA starts exploration of jump nodes leading out of allied space. Those were previously considered too unstable, but are now accesible due to a new generation of subspace drives based on the research for the Sol Gate. Meanwhile the Alliance still struggles to integrate Earth into its structures. In addition to the ideological shock of the Terran brotherwar (particular significant because GTVEA has now a large Terran majority), the discovery of the Ancients brings further instability to the Grand Alliance...

Beginns with a few training missions - how TAG weapons altered dogfighting entirely, how to fly a remotely controlled meson missiles the size of a fighter etc.

The GTVEA encounters the Ancients while exploring the regions beyond Altair. They survived the downfall of the Ancient Empire; for they are remains of the sublight Empire of the Ancients - 8.000 years ago they were just a small colony that wasn't linked with the main part via Knossos (the reason they built this was to access/connect all pre-subspace colonies), but have grown over time.

Due to having found out what happend with their brothers and sisters, the Ancients decide to join the GTVEA, which is then recalled "Grand Alliance". However, not all of them want that and a minor rebellion breaks out, carried by people who are worried about their autonomy, their culture etc. The player enters the story as pilot of the SOC and is tasked to put down the rebellion as silently as possible. While doing that, Alpha 1 learns about the negative sides of the Alliance  - it has become an institution that follows its own interest, and not necessary common sense (corruption?); the idealism of the founder generation is lost and while the races have lost direct power they now compete for influence in the Alliance, which is mostly being held together by being without alternative (like current EU).

When they discover a route that leads to Capella and Shivan ships show up, the Alliance decides to overcome its internal problems by going into the offense. A gigantic fleet is assembled, the Shivan defenses gets crushed, and the Alliance enters the center of the Capella nebula. Travelling through the Super-Node - the journey takes far longer than any recorded jump in history - the Allied fleet reaches the Shivan homesystem. Near the node (maybe a few 100km off or so), they discover a giant space station (like the SI Hara, maybe larger). Believing this to be the center of all Shivan activity, the GA attacks it.

Meanwhile, a small exploration force enters the orbit of the systems' red dwarf in order to investigate the stars' strange spectral lines (it is also covered by a dust cloud from the initial arrival point). And they find out the reason - a Shivan Dyson Grid around the sun, consisting of hundred thousands/millions of these giant space stations that they just try to blow up. The Alliance is completely shocked, some suggest to withdraw before the Shivans "get angry"(while in truth Command realizes that the Shivans can access GA space as they please, and that they can't destroy the Super-Node).

Instead, the Alliance goes into the offense, attacking furiously the Dyson Grid. While the propaganda is optimistic, most question the sense behind this action, what later becomes a major point in the agitation against the GA. The player can choose here after its first homeship got destroyed (branching mission structure instead of the loop missions of FS1 and FS2) - join a specially prepared ship, protect it against Shivan assaults while scanning the empty space between the filaments of the grid in order to monitor the Shivan activity while other ships attack them (a seemingly useless task) - OR - the player can join the attack force (fly super bombs, scanning for weakpoints etc).

Eventually, the Alliance is able to deal much more damage than anybody would've expected; taking advantage of orbits, the debris of destroyed parts of the Dyson Grid causes further damage and so on. In the end, however, only 1/10.000 or 1/100.000 of the grid is destroyed, at the price of 1/4 of the allied fleet.

Then, the worst fears become true - a huge part of the Grid (something from 500km to 3000km) breaks loose and starts heading for the Shivantown-Capella supernode. In panic, the GA tries to seal the node with multiple Nodebusters, but since the node was actually formed by a supernova, it is far too strong to collapse by such small explosions. The node ulitmatly collapses under the energy release during the transit of the giant Shivan ship - but only after it already left subspace. Like the Sathanas armada, it ignores GA mostly, yet the 2 huge accompanying fleets (1 as escort for the Hive, the other one attacks GAs core systems) wreak havoc.

GA tries to stop the advance fleet by destroying nodes, but the Shivans always find other ways. This becomes critical when a part of the Shivan fleet arrives in Ross 128, 2 jumps away from Earth. Then the player takes part in a SOC taskforce to destroy the Ross 128-Delta Serpentis node in order to prevent the main fleet from hitting Earth directly and to buy time... instead the Shivans destroy Beta Aquilae, Antares, Vega and other core systems of the Alliance, killing billions of people. The Shivan advance is only stopped by a massive armada in Earth orbit.

<Background/CB only plot: Meanwhile, the Hive travels through GA space until reaching the "lower group" of GTVA (Laramis/Luyten etc, which hasn't been explained much by Volition so far). Once the Hive reaches a red dwarf in the group, it destroys one of the planets in orbit (one of the densiest populated planets of the entire Alliance) with its subspace weapon, killing hundreds of millions of people. An act of pure evil. But shortly afterwards, the motives of the Hive become apparent. Deploying countless construction machines near the exposed core of the destroyed planet, the ship starts to construct a Dyson Grid, similar to the one in Shivantown, right in the middle of GA space.>

While the Earth is safe for now, the Shivans attack the strategically important Vasuda system. A Vasudan admiral refuses his orders to engage the Shivans, and instead holds a Hammer of Light-ceremony while his ship gets destroyed, causing the system to fall into the hands of the Shivans. Also, occasional HoL raids occur. As a result, the Ancients use the (misinformation) that the assault on the Dyson Sphere was the fault of the GA and threaten to withdraw their fleets from the frontlines and to protect only their homesystems, even though some are aware that this could result in their own extermination. In addition, once the news about the construction works of the Hive and the devastations in the Core systems spread, several important ships such as freighters and transports dessert, trying to bring themselves and their loved ones to safety by flying into interstellar space; causing the player to enforce order for a few missions.

Since the Hive can't be destroyed, the Alliance starts to deal with the rest of the escorting Armada first. It turns out that the destroyer in the scanning mission was equipped with a special ETAK device. Due to the scanning of the comm-nodes of the Dyson Grid, the GA has created a tool that predicts Shivan behavior and detects their ships at long-range, giving them a huge advantage. GA not only evades Shivan traps, but is able to set them on its own, and eventually calculate the reaction of the enemy. The ratio of destroyed ships shifts in favor of the GA, and despite the vast numerical superiority of the Shivans, the GA has now the upper hand against them. After most of the Shivan fleet has been destroyed, the remaining 40% of GAs fleet gather to attack the Hive. They are able to destroy most of the facilities specialized for warship production, but the much larger "civillian" bays can't be destroyed, for they are simply too huge. Despite the fleet being down to 20% now, the GA has bought time again.

The End: The Terrans are finally truly reunited - but at a high price. Except for the former NTF systems, virtually every of the Exile systems has been destroyed, and the former inhabitants are either dead or live in Sol.

The key to fight the Shivans now is to maintain/improve the Alliance; military wise by developing better technology, for the Shivans now have less sophisticated technology (minus supernovas). While GA realizes that the Shivans can never be truly defeated for they rule atleast the galaxy, they don't have to worry about the main Shivan Dyson Grid anymore that send them the Lucifer and the Sathanas armada. Yet, they are more threatend than ever by the one in construction right next to them, but they learned how to damage the Grid, the fleet and the Hive once in a while to prevent it from becoming strong enough to annihilate GA. Also, there's further speculation about the Shivans and the reason for their actions - apparently having been created once by somebody, they try to configure the universe for maximum access via subspace i.e. removing gravity sources that prevent the formation of jump nodes.


Throughout the entire time, not a single Sathanas or Lucifer is sightened, for they are specific ships (head of exploration-elimination task forces, construction of galactic nodes). Perhabs the hive entirely (or partitially) disperses into a construction swarm of also huge ships. Also, while being completely deliusional about the nature of the Shivans, Bosch ultimatly helped to develop something that allowed better understanding (though not communicating) of them, and gave GA a weapon to fight on uneven terms. Perhabs the GA would even use NTF tactics in order to deal with a vastly superior enemy.

For the non Shivan-antagonist I did not want to have the generic "there's a big dangerous group of people doing/believing the wrong thing so they attack". Among starships the size of planets, the scope could very well shift to the behavior of individuals and between selfish and selfless acting as well as the reasons for that. Same thing could work for the role of the Alliance and in particular the Ancients, which might not be the first ones to be affected by the Shivan invasion but are basically aware of the importance of the GA for their own survival, but play with the idea of leaving the inevitable casaulties to the rest of GA at the expanse of common military strength. In the end the Alliance is given a chance to survive in a hostile universe - if it can avoid self-destruction/dispersion, and the player can do something about it.

~5 missions for each act

2 initial Training missions
Act 1 - A group of influential rogue Ancients has prepared a plot that would shatter the ties with the Alliance.
Act 2 - After the Shivans return through Ikeya, a massive fleet enters Shivan space, racing through Gehenna, the Nebula system, Gamma Draconis, Capella, Shivantown.
Act 3 - The Alliance enters Shivantown, finds a SI Hara and attacks it (1 mission). After the discovery of the Dyson Grid the players' ship gets destroyed by a new juggernaut. Story branches (2*3 missions), either attack on the Grid or AWACS analisys. In the final mission of both branches GA fleet flees Shivantown.
Act 5 - The Hive follows them. Once in allied space launches an entire Armada of juggernauts, GA core systems are overrun (the story is told from Exile-Terran POV, who are hit hardest). The Shivans enter Sol, and fight the Terrans over Earth which narrowly escapes destruction.
Act 6 - In face of the Shivan threat - it has become clear that they'll stay this time - GAs morality goes low, many ships try to flee the Shivans by escaping into interstellar space.
Act 7 - The GA invades the lower group of systems that has been captured by the Shivans. They launch the assault on the Hive and destroy significant parts of the construction facilities.

What I couldn't fit in was the thing with the FS2 nebula system as it's implied that it's the result of another Shivan supernova. Probably this might fall in the same category as the question "Which route would the Shivans have taken to Capella if the NTF hadn't opened them the 3 Knossos portals?", what is also not explained... :nervous:
I don't know about the middlepart, with GA attacking instead of running away, but I thought it'd be more interesting that way.

Thoughts anybody? Feedback is welcome, positive or otherwise. :doubt:
« Last Edit: November 21, 2018, 02:38:11 am by Nightmare »


Offline Axem

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Re: So, FS3 could be like...
So what sort of gameplay would you envision to have throughout the game? You've got a lot of wide sweeping galactic events going on, but there's also a lot of 'we find out' and 'large battle which we can't win'. Stuff like that is okay once in awhile, but you need some other variety to keep the player focused and not getting bored. I'd suggest to simplify your story to just a few very broad events and build up some smaller arcs that focus on what the player would be doing.

The main plot for FS1 is a story about this seemingly invincible alien force bent on wiping out the homeworlds of a couple of space faring races. Not the most original one, but its enough to begin a buildup of charting the player's journey. First you begin getting introduced to the current situation, then you get a hint of what's approaching, then you get the enemy that you can't even target and so on. All this escalation engages the player to high points in a few arcs. The story also shifts to the Hammer of Light at points to keep things a little varied and interesting.

The main plot for FS2 is "the Shivans return" and a very involved subplot of "...and someone wants to talk to Shivans". While first part is nothing new, the second part is intriguing and opens a lot of interesting ideas. And we get the same type of escalation from FS1, the introduction, the enemy introduced, riding up to battling larger ships etc etc. FS2 just barrels forward at light speed and takes you along for the ride. But instead of getting "large" in scope of the story, we're still focused on the events of just a few systems. The Nebula and Capella are where the most pivotal points are. We could've easily had large scale fleet engagements across 10 systems, but the engagements were still kept relatively small (as small as they could be with 80 Saths anyway...)

The main plot for FS3 could be "we find Shivatown" but then what's that "and..."? What draws us in past just the potential for large scale military engagements? I mean finding "Shivatown" is a natural way to cap off a trilogy, but it's still a very very early unrefined idea from Volition. The real tragedy is they were never able to come up with that twist before FS3 was basically shelved for good.

Anyway I guess what I'm trying to say is, use that wall of text as a guide to figure out some exciting paths the player could have as they play it. You've got an interesting idea for a space opera novel, but for a game you should focus on the journey of the player and looking closer at the mysteries unanswered in FS2. (Like what was Bosch really up to? If the Shivans were the symptom of a larger problem, what could that be?)

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Gameplay/mission design wise, well... I posted this rough outline here before I become tempted of trying to come up with a mission outline, for ending with <30 missions seemed unlikely to me. :D

Finding the Shivan homeworld seems like the perfect receipt for a mega disaster to me, and personally I liked that Volition had - atleast AFAIK - the intention to move the plot from a soft space opera to something that atleast involved hard-sci fi concepts.

Avoiding constant repetitive missions is the 1st thing to do. Since you might have people who already played the first 2 parts you could start with the player joining an elite unit instead of being a newbie; the first training missions would then be rather "keep yourself fit in peacetime" instead of "gain your license". Since elite pilots are probably not used for nuke 12 cruisers to hell, you could avoid atleast that.

For the first missions against some Ancient... guerillia/terrorists? It would be different if the player would have to rely on its own instinct and tactic rather than "do what command tells you to do".

An idea to make gameplay different would be to use TAG weapons (as I already wrought in the Fleet doctrine thread), what hasn't been done so far on a broad scale yet AFAIK. This would show how GTVA/GA would refines its combat strategy, and it would be different in general, while of course there's enough space for normal dogfight combat. Also it would allow GA to shoot down more Shivans, which are obviously there.

Also an idea that comes to my mind would be to use SSMs and Mesonbombs - SSMs seem way too expensive to me and the advantage of deploying Helioses with a subspace drive seems almost inexistent. On the other hand, GA might've been unable to scale Meson bombs as large as a Triton down to the size they could be fiured from a bomber, so combining them and have the player remote control them would be a way to get 1 or 2 missions filled.

Sure you could say "travel into one of these stations and scan it before they come to bury you", blowing it up like the Death Star seems completely unrealistic.

As for plot twists, OK, Command doing something apparently completely dump is maybe not as interesting as it might seem. It was the central idea behind the story of NH, being "how much does command know, how much/what do they say, and are they being manipulated themselves?". I think "Not giving up" would be a strong motive, but what do I know...


Offline Axem

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Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Well I don't just mean 'what sort of missions would be fun', but I mean 'as a player, what sort of progression and escalation would be interesting and engaging'. Again look at FS1 and 2 and other established campaigns and think about how they develop.

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Hard to say for me :nervous:

My attempt would be in accordance with

GA has created a tool that predicts Shivan behavior and detects their ships at long-range, giving them a huge advantage. GA not only evades Shivan traps, but is able to set them on its own, and eventually calculate the reaction of the enemy. The ratio of destroyed ships shifts in favor of the GA, and despite the vast numerical superiority of the Shivans, the GA has now the upper hand against them.

to have the player always think about "if I don't save enough of my ships/destroy enough Shivans/do my job as good as I can" we will be unable to attack the Hive in a way it'll stop whatever it's up to and get annihilated.

Maybe I'm just no getting the point, but once "look the Shivans are that powerful they have Dyson grids and we just a ton of destroyers" turns into "they're building one of these things in our backyard" there should be quite some motivation (for me atleast). After Capella, the GTVA knew that the Shivans are capable of megadestruction, but they can also do megaconstruction (and not just 80+ Saths). I took the approach similar to FS1 and 2 ended with pyrhic(sp?) victories, and this would seem like one. Also, after FS1 and 2, the Shivans went away and the public could return to buisness as usual. And there's a further escalation atleast size wise on the scale of detonating a H-bomb in front of a caveman.

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
This has a strong Mass Effect 3 vibe to it - an ancient, supposedly invincible enemy comes to your door, takes over something large and important, and you have to collect assets and make sure they don't perish so you can actually take the battle to the enemy and defeat it. (Yea ME3 ending sucked af)
I don't know if you've watched Isaac Arthur's videos, but I believe these could get you some high-grade sci-fi ideas, at least when it comes to currently know science. I say it because "surviving universe's heat death" while blowing up stars and doing other stuff Shivans do is kinda... counterproductive. I guess I'd have a... more interesting idea. For example:
This would utilise the idea that, with expansion of the universe speeding up, at some point the spacetime would just... snap and rip apart (also based on an idea in one of Stanisław Lem's novels - that the universe is just a temporary exception from everything being just the ultimate void and could disappear at any moment). So there would be this kind of a space mind of some sort - composed of subspace or space itself, with Shivans being its physical emanation, with it being as aware of them as you are of your single body cells, the same goes for any self-evolved races (thus - the whole genocide thing). Due to universe coming closer and closer to the Big Rip, the Mind is either preparing, trying to bail out, panicking or being in a state close to agony (example: man swimming in a stormy sea, desperately trying to keep his head above the water). It would either try to preserve some of the spacetime together with matter in the subspace to eventually come back or stop the Rip altogether, doesn't matter. What matters is that it would require using the whole (for example) Laniakea Supercluster in some subspace magic way.
The notion here would be that, for example, the GTVA couldn't really damage the Shivans, but they could send multiple large fleets roaming through Shivan space, fending off attackers, and looking for answers (there are clues that it should work). They would be ignored by the gigantic stuff anyway. The general idea is that the main character, being in one of the fleets, gets exposed to *something* a couple times (maybe something like Bei and Laporte and others in BP), maybe also with others. Plot twist: the Mind has been through multiple cycles of barely holding the universe together only to do it again, again, again... (Big Crunch -> Big Bang cycles) and it effectively became an endless torment. At some point the fleet would start finding answers (maybe something alike Destiny from Stargate Universe, but in multiple fleets in multiple directions?), maybe some other parallel characters would be introduced, from other fleets or something, maybe there would be multiple parallel plot lines for multiple fleets, maybe with dead remains of some race with telepsychic abilities temporarily slamming the player into the realm of their own history (for a minicampaign loop) and imprint something onto the character himself, letting him experience something more than a normal man would. Some "mind connections" with others from other fleets or something like the Fedayeen Dreamscape could be included as a result. It would become a personal thing for the main character because nobody would believe him (thought as hallucinations and psychical stress, a result of lots of space battles - being in high-energy environment of a space battle especially with subspace distorsions taking place could be able to damage the brain without obvious external changes) so he has to deal with it and look for answers on his own - a personal matter. In the end, there would be a lot of space distorsions which would cause all the fleets to meet at some point, and some psychic cluster**** would happen and the player would discover yet another plot twist - that the Mind is actually human, but just upscaled to the whole universe and mad (Transcendant anyone?) with Shivans wiping out life being just a resemblance to human immune system. And in a pompastic, psychic ending, the player could make some decisions or something, with the available choices being based on his/her decisions throughout the plot. There could be also multiple characters involved though. It would be interesting to have the directions of multiple characters/campaigns converge and base the endings on player's actions in each one.

Man, I wrote too much. It even seems like a cool idea that might be made by someone at some point :P.
Mito [PL] - Today at 8:52 PM
I was supposed to make a short presentation about basics of optical fibers and here I am, listening to Eurobeat while reading about quantum cryptography.

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Haven't played ME3 :nervous:

I had (and still have) a campaign (LITF) that more or less deals with trying to survive the universe heat death, which is simply said, the background plot. I have to admit that for that reason I haven't taken Big Rip into account for plot reasons; so LITF setting will be based on Freeman Dysons eternal intellegence concept. For this story here it was just something I've wrought in, nothing exactly thought through.

For the implementation of Dyson spheres (more Dyson :D) I took some of the ideas for this from Orions Arm project, instead of coming up with a more metaphysical explination.


Offline An4ximandros

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Re: So, FS3 could be like...
To break up monotony in fighting Shivans: FS2 and Shivan Dyson (Shison? :P) stuff should totally resurrect the idea of the Hammer of Light and some Rogue human elements. Make a section where they fight the Alliance and each other. Through branching structure you could "help" lead to one or another Rebel side beat the other (subtly or they will team up on you), only to be steamrolled by Shivans in a plot twist (If you play your cards right)

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
I would rather think about mass desertion or people wanting to spend their final days with their loved ones instead of dying in a hopeless war. I'd put something like this at the beginning in order to shorten the latter part instead of interrupting it. It'd be interesting to see how a society that's been living in fear for decades would react, though, but I would imagine them more apathetic than violent.

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
In my opinion the Shivans know exactly what they are doing and they think it's a good thing to do. But they are disorganized. They don't have a homeworld or a center of command. Any encounter with them shown was not a full war situation, and they are obsessed with dealing with other things that are far more important to them than the GTVA. Their activities span farther than anyone had imagined. But if they ever united fully and dedicated all of their resources to xenocide they would be effectively unstoppable. I will elaborate on this more later in the Arts and Talents folder.
Shivans view most other species the way we view infectious diseases. They think they are doing good by curing the universe of them. After all, no one mourns the fate of smallpox.

The Final War For The Multiverse

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
I think of the Shivans as something distributed, something like an ant hill (in particular Argentine ants). Each of them is acting on its own, but they all behave the same and never attack each other. The only directly xenocide element is the Lucifer, the rest is mostly "securing the area", simply because nobody besides GTVA survived it so far.

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Updated the OP a bit. I added some things, would be about 40 missions now.


Offline Goober5000

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Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Ambitious.  Apocalyptic.  Awesome. :D

Though I would concur with most of Axem's points -- this makes a good story, but the tricky part is how to turn it into good gameplay as well.


Offline Firesteel

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Re: So, FS3 could be like...
I'd say what you have in the OP is a story, which is good, but to make an actual artifact you need to get some kind of plot out of it.

The very short version of my narrative design lecture is:

1) Figure out where you start the plot
1b) How much status quo do you establish? (FS has more status quo than average for games which is still pretty minimal)
2) Where do you end? (of course you can change but having a goal to write/design for helps a lot)
3) Who (and what) has changed by the end
4) Make what your player does matter (Retail FS was generally pretty good at this)

Since I'm in the process of writing about The Hammer and the Anvil right now, we can use it as an example

Event: GTA + PVN develops shield prototypes

2 main things:

We need to involve the player somehow with actually getting their ship fitted with shields (which we kind of did in Pandora's Box)
We also want them to "earn" the new ability

Then we should have the player be responsible for escorting the prototypes at least part of the journey.

The Altair arc is probably a more full example.

"We need to get refugees from Altair"

First punch a hole in the Shivan defenses, then ready the researchers/transports and run the blockade, then escort the refugees back

(obviously very high level stuff but having players play through the plot is a huge part of why Freespace is such a great series)
Current Projects:

- Video Critiques of Freespace
- Re-learning FRED

Re: So, FS3 could be like...
Maybe at some point it maybe stopped being that much of a cool-to-play plot...

Event: GTA + PVN develops shield prototypes

2 main things:

We need to involve the player somehow with actually getting their ship fitted with shields (which we kind of did in Pandora's Box)
We also want them to "earn" the new ability

Then we should have the player be responsible for escorting the prototypes at least part of the journey.

The Altair arc is probably a more full example.

"We need to get refugees from Altair"

First punch a hole in the Shivan defenses, then ready the researchers/transports and run the blockade, then escort the refugees back

(obviously very high level stuff but having players play through the plot is a huge part of why Freespace is such a great series)

The beginning of the story was basically a plot to shatter the Alliance (maybe not directly resulting in a civil war, but close to it), so it's something that might be big plot wise, but mission design wise something rather soft. Also the player has to destroy that R128-DS jump node to prevent Sol from being destroyed. I think that the player can make a difference in both of them.

Earning wise, one of the ideas was that GA gains a ETAK device that allows them to fight the Shivans on their own terms. Maybe it would need some sort of foreshadowing during the "protect the destroyer with the AWACS array in Shivantown".

In general, most (if not the entire) action happens where the player is, atleast the one the player can influence; seeing a 1000+km long ship or its escort blowing up stuff while nobody can do anything about it would be horrible af. I only wrote a generic outline like "Shivans fight Terrans over Earth". There're countless possibilities to make the coolest or the worst mission ever; and if I think over and over about it I could come up with something like "...but the player could do that:" and micro-adjust the story there, but I didn't feel like writing a mission outline. TBH I just wanted something different, because :v-old: tended to come up with pyrric victories, so I thought something that is final but neither victory nor defeat.

As for the end, I thought about a series of red-alert missions where the player has to enter a system, lures the escorts away, then descents upon the hive subspace (drives don't work due to the gravity field of that thing - maybe not the best explination but kinda cool, perhabs because it has several strong gravity sources due to it density and structure), and ultimatly damages it.