Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

For updates and discussion of Terra Invicta, a grand-strategy alien invasion simulator
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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by kondenado » Mon May 08, 2017 11:39 am

Option B)

"The aliens home planet is billions of years away, they just send few colonist to make an "outpost" nearby planets with "likely intelligent life". Their plan is easy, infiltrate into the planet, learn how they are and develop a virus who changes DNA and convert humans into people of this alien race.

They are just an outpost, with limited resources, so they can just start a massive war. In fact, they can not support themselves at a long time, simply because they are too few, and they can only live conquering another intelligent race.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by KevinHann » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:36 pm

saroscycler wrote:If it's going to 4X/GS, then why can't we have randomized Alien Motivation? Heck, why can't they have multiple motivations? Religious fervor at an all time high while resources are getting scarcer, let's invade a planet. That for one game. Another game, they're searching for a new home while looking for a slave race at the same time.
I'd like to see this, for a variety of reasons.

Depending on how the game narrative and its links to the strategic layer are structured, it can bring multiple benefits to the game. Turning the Aliens' agenda into a meaningful question that affects strategic decisions and has long-term payoff (or setbacks) offers replayability value and turns the player's curiosity into a focal point of the game.

One of the first and foremost things when fighting against an unknown foe is understanding them and what drives them. Making the aliens motivations variable provides ample space to play with this as a mechanic that fits in the genre and plot while could turn out to be surprisingly refreshing if done well. It could affect strategic decisions (informed or uninformed), diplomacy (with the aliens and within the council of nations equivalent) and many other aspects of the game.

I'd personally love to see a branching First Contact scenario as the first beat in that story, something that tells you off the bat your playthrough will be unique. It could be a peaceful first contact, or aggressive one, or a misunderstanding, a meeting with an Empire, or a scouting mission, or religious pilgrimage, or a ridiculous Douglas Adams "you have 1 month to remove yourselves from our path" - setting the entry point of your campaign in unique fashion with many variables starting off at different values, thus giving you incentive to approach the early game differently each time.

Without multiple alien motivations the plot would be merely a device to justify the setting and gameplay - mildly interesting to experience at first and "Less Beginner VO, please" each next time. It can make sense or it can be nonsensical, but it won't be something to look forward to on Campaign number 10.

Of course a solid plot set in stone is not bad thing on itself and going for more depends on the scope Pavonis can afford and would like to go for. But just imagine having a generic enemy 1 autopsy deliver a different result each campaign, wouldn't that bring a factor of enjoyment and satisfaction that gets lost immediately after you've been there before?

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by NephilimNexus » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:44 pm

Here's my ideas:

1) Take "Battlestar Galactica" and invert the whole thing. The aliens are actually humans and we're a lost colony that they abandoned eons ago. Now they've returned to reclaim it. The only seem alien at first because they started playing with genetic engineering around 5,000BC, but underneath they're us. Why have they returned? There is the mystery to unravel.

2) Take "The Abyss" and make a sequel in the vein of Terror from the Deep. In this scenario the aliens are already on Earth, having been living in our oceans along side us since the beginning. Unlike the creatures from the movies, however, they can't just magically summon tidal waves so they send for reinforcements from another colony when they get sick of those pesky land-dwellers dumping toxic waste on them and warming the oceans. The reinforcements bring the weapons that the local aliens lacked.

3) Earth is but a pawn in a larger game. It turns out that the galaxy is already ruled by spacefaring cultures, and some sort of giant Empire or Federation unites them. The catch is that, in the spirit of delegation, most of this nation is completely pacifist. Only one small group retains any weapons, or even the right to have them, and this group acts as the galaxy's protectors - it's "white knights," as it were. Meanwhile, once it learned that humans are getting close to extra-solar travel capability, there is much debate as how to deal with Earth. Should contact be made and an invitation to join be made now? But wait, these humans also posses weapons - lots of weapons. Even nuclear ones, which have been banned for millions of years. Are they a threat to the stability of the galaxy? Will they become a threat to the galaxy's peaceful way of life? The knights seem to think so, and thus they launch a pre-emptive attack on Earth in order to squash the threat of humanity before it grows.

4) The aliens don't even acknowledge our existence, because they're either machines or just plain too alien to even notice us. Nor do they attack us per se. Rather they just show up one day with a fleet of construction ships and begin building a Dyson Sphere around the Sun. Why? Because they need more power, of course, and it's not like it's going to bother anyone, right? While they don't have a lot in the way of weaponry ("Who's going to bother us way out here in the middle of nowhere?"), the sheer scale of the invasion means that humans have to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at them to even try to slow it down. How do the aliens react to our sabotage? Do they even notice it at first? Are we just some unanticipated bacterial infection at their worksite? What are those strange radio-wave frequency signals they keep using? Are those little monkey-things actually intelligent? Are they trying to communicate? Do the aliens even care after they realize that someone actually lives in this solar system and they're threatening to kill off all life via freezing? Will it all end as one big misunderstanding or do they still treat us like fleas to be washed off?

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by batteran » Thu May 24, 2018 10:29 pm


First: sorry for my poor english.

If Physics works in this fiction like in real world, aliens don't have Faster Than Light transports. And no FTL communications.

In that case, the most common way to travel from one side of the galaxy to another, is probably "mother ships", or Arches. Theses are basically small autonomous ring worlds (rotating ring if they need gravity, who is probably the case) encased in a really big interstellar vessel, where aliens lives their cycles, make babies (or whatever) and stuffs.

It start by a small "alien spatial nation" who decide to build that Arche and move somewhere. They were probably at least 50.000 peoples on board to make it viable. And one day, they come to the Solar System.

(maybe the humans would make some similar projects one day ^^)

This lead to interressing things:
- The Arche has been her home for thousand years and countless generations. And no FTL communications means no renforts. The Alien Space Nation have some powerfull ressources, but are on their own. And versus a full world, the Alien Nation and mothership look small and outnumbered.
- They travel to the solar system certainly cause it was home of some "viable" or interressing planets for the aliens species.
- The initial accelleration, and decelleration has empty the fuel reserve. (acceleration, and decelleration to a speed close to light-speed consume enormous amount of fuel) They must refuel if they want to go somewhere else. It's probably a priority to give a second option (fleeing the solar system) if things turn sour for the Alien Nation. But it's certainly not the primary option after a so long travel.
- 50-100.000 aliens is enough to have a government, councils, ect. It's a small nation.
- Seeing Earth inhabited, they decide to scout, and invade it in some sort. To protect the Arche and themselves from a inhabited giant world. The decision was probably hard to take, but if they don't want to go for another million year of travel, so they must assert themselves and see how far they can go. They are the invasious species after all!

Something like that look a good start to me.

It help to explain why a relatively small motherworld home of 100k aliens (say, internal "surface" of the internal ring world, is like 3000 square kilometers: so, a average-medium pacific Island state ^^) would have trouble spending zillions of nukes or make a big invasion push on a full devellopped world like Earth today. They must relies on dirty tricks (infiltration, lenghty collecting ressources, limited terror missions like a rogue state will do) and indigenous auxiliaries (like EXALT) to take his rightfull place (enlighten leaders of the Free Solar System and the True God, obviously ^^)

But if the mothership is threatened, it's her homeland, so some desperates mesures would certainly be taken.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by cresto127 » Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:20 am

Still reading through and digesting the incredible ideas passed around here the past couple years. Needless to say, my reading list for scifi has quadrupled in size, y'all have good taste. Just had a thought I wanted to get out there though:

Why limit the overall arc of the game's storyline to one motivation/background for the E.T.s?

While I realize that such an idea would be resource/production heavy in terms of game development, Terra Invicta could be an exploration of several first contact hypothesis' (within the limits of the overall game design philosophy) and use it's mechanics to tell a different story for each playthrough. Maybe this would be more DLC oriented content, y'all gotta see if you can get the needed interest and sales to support the team, but expanding on the various easy/normal/hard mode story arcs already proposed to add some... weirdness to it, would be interesting.

The crux of this to me comes from the dev diaries; the various factions. There will need to be a LOT of content creation to sell each faction as a living breathing competitor, something which I think the Pavonis team could do. However, it doesn't really make sense to me for the terrans to be the only group with disparate PC/NPC factions and ideologies. I love the hints at your attention to detail of current real world politics & look forward to the abstractions you'll use. But applying the same principle to the aliens would be kind of... cheap. "They're pretty much the same as us!" blah blah blah. On the other hand, applying the concept of different aliens (if not simply ideological factions since additional species would be a huge content investment) to the game as a whole, encouraging replayability and community content? That could be a game changer.

I'll have something substantive to add to the thread's thesis later but consider this a letter to the devs; if you want your game & your mechanics to make the same kind of imprint on the grand strategy genre as X-COM & the Long War did on the tactical genre, consider broadening the potential scope of the invasion op-for.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by johnnylump » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:48 am

Thanks for your thoughts.
Why limit the overall arc of the game's storyline to one motivation/background for the E.T.s?
We actually did chew on a way to generate aliens algorithmically, but narrowed our focus early on to a particular species and goal. We did have to engineer their story somewhat so they would be invaders, but not the sort to just drop a big rock from orbit and kill us all.

But it basically comes down to what we're able to develop within our budget and in a reasonable timeframe. Different alien motivations imply different aliens, and also different alien methods. That means new mechanics would need to be developed that work within the overall game. Some of the human factions would have to change, too, because in some cases their victory conditions are dependent on these aliens in particular.

It's certainly something we'd look at for expansions/sequels, of course.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by Lundynne » Sun Mar 31, 2019 4:03 pm

Probably no one cares, and I'm late to the party anyway, but here's my input.

We don't just need a motivation for why the aliens are invading, we also need one for why they send weak troops first, and get gradually stronger (they must use this method, or else the game will be impossible).

My suggestion is that the race invading us are galactic fugitives or something similar. They've been driven away from their homes and their non-combat scouts stumbled upon earth (non-combat to justify humans being able to defeat them). They aliens then redirect to earth, as they need somewhere to live in order to survive. Their tech is levels ahead of ours, but because they've been defeated by a higher race, they're not in peak fighting condition, and need to rebuild their tech. They also can't sustain life in space indefinitely, so earth is a prime target for them.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by johnnylump » Fri Apr 05, 2019 4:39 pm

Comments are always welcome!

You're right that we have had to engineer a plausible storyline for why they have to ramp up their capabilities in the Solar System. I can't really give our explanation without spoiling too much of the game.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by Solomani » Tue May 28, 2019 5:23 pm

Innocent Bystander
While conducting observations with Hubble, we detected what appeared to be a super nova. Scientist believed it to be some new type of nova because it didn't match any others. Unwittingly we recorded the assassination of a galactic emperor and now are the target of the murderous coup leaders. Earth and it's evidence of the assassination must be eliminated.

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Re: Brainstorm: Alien Motivation

Post by tarkalak » Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:28 am

A vast interstellar empire exists far away. At some point in the past they conducted survey on earth and found nothing particularly interesting. Except that humans are truly delicious.

The "Space McDonalds™" company sent ships to Earth to harvest enough humans for human farm and flew away. By the start of the game their farms are unable to cope with the demand of Human BigMacs and need more people. Also they have problems breeding humans since they do not understand our physiology and needs that well.

At the same time a young middle school student (lets call him Marcho) goes on 2 week long seaside school trip studying Mathematics. Marcho isn't really interested in studying at all but if he goes there he will get an A for the year without studying and he could just go dip in the ocean and have fun. But no, he must sit at 12 hour a day lectures of stuff that he couldn't comprehend at all.

Out of boredom and stress he creates the "Church of the Mother Snail", draws a snail with toothpaste in the basement of the hotel and forces other students to kneel and pray to the "Mother Snail", the creator of all.

Based on a true story. ;)

By total coincidence the Church of the Mother Snail is the state religion of the Alien empire. All citizens of the empire are baptised and secretly implanted with a biochip. Everyone who believe in the Great Mother Snail is awarded superpowers by the biochip. Mind control, flying, etc. The more you believe the more you have. No one, even the Mother Snail Pope, know about the biochip's real nature. They think that their powers are a gift from the Mother Snail.

Atheists, pagans and anyone who dosn't embrace the Mother Snail are not considered people. Thus using sentient beings like humans for food is perfectly fine. However the alien church finds out about prophet Marcho and attempts to convert humanity to their religion.

So in total we have two Alien factions:
1. Space McDonalds hunters, who want to hunt and capture as much humans as they can.
2. The Church of The Mother Snail, who want to convert humanity to their religion and save their soils and stuff.

Neither group has military support nor interest in conquering the planet which explains why they don't just come with the big guns.

From the player's point of view the aliens both come in piece and shoot everyone in sight. The two alien groups do not cooperate but are not openly fighting each other.

Human McDonals do covertly sabotage the convertion process, but are not stupid enough to do it overtly.

The Church of the Mother Snail on the other hand isn't very open. They want people to accept their religion with an open heart, not just because "don't eat me please". Also they are somewhat corrupt and like "Human BigMacs" like everyone else.

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