The esrever – The creatures living backward.
”Pfff. The esrever ? That's just a bunch of large space worms, is it ?”
”Almost captain. They do indeed like eating our ships and space stations. But they also live backward, which makes them rather difficult to tackle.”
Yep. That's exactly what they are : just bunch of large space worms, eating ships and living backward. And yes, it makes them rather difficult to tackle.
They usually lay eggs in planets very close to the stars. And these eggs tend to be released when these planets are being colonised, freeing tens of creatures craving for good old metal from spaceships and space stations. They are able to fly between stars. Some will aim directly at the planet which has sent the colony ship. Some others will wander at random and attack the closest ships. Nothing too exceptional you would say. Except that they do it backward in time (The die first, then live, then get born ...)
What you could see from a first esrever encounter is an implosion, and then kind of giant spaceworm emerging from it and flying backward. You might also see one of your ship firing toward the center of the implosion, or that implosion centered on one of your ship, and then that ship exploding while the worm emerges backward out of it. And that's because it the way esrever die to our eyes : you see first what remains from them, and then their last few moments.
Fighting esrever is not an easy task, because you need to blow them up before seeing them coming... But it is not impossible : if you meet one, it means that 10 or 20 other are flying around, and that they all come from the same area. So following it will bring you straight toward its nest. On the way, bring enough ships with you to scout the neighbouring planets and shoot at any implosion you see !
But don't be silly : keep your distance and don't even try to shoot one that you know was alive 10 minutes ago. Because they live backward. So if you saw it in the past, it means that it will survive any missiles or laser beams that you might throw at it in the future ! Fighting with it is hopeless and suicidal.
Following it to its orgin will bring you to a planet crowded with esrever looking like they fly backward into it, while a colony ship is landing. And then, no more esrever. Congratulation : you have just witnessed the hatching of a esrever colony. It also means that this threat is over for you... Except that you know that one day, a huge mother will come to lay these eggs. And that whatever you do, you won't be able to stop it to happen...
Now to the technical point of view :
At first glance, it might look impossible to code. But it should actually be pretty easy (with a bit of cheating, I reckon):
Starting the event : the event is started when the order is given to send a colony ship to planet which has (well, had...) the eggs. The time to reach the planet and colonize it is calculated. From now, whatever happens, this colony ship WILL colonize the planet at the estimated time (that's where ther is a bit of cheating...) : it will not be destroyed, it will not be slowed down by damages, and if now fuel shortage has been calculated, it won't have any shortage.
Generating the esrever : taking into account the speed of the esrever, the distance from the planet and time left before colonisation, random esrever should be created, the way I described in the text : there is an implosion, either with a ship shooting at its center, either with a ships in the center then exploding ; and an esrever emerges from the implosion.
Life of the esrever : From this moment, the esrever is invulnarable and will look like it is flying backward toward to planet to be colonised, wreaking havoc on its path (For more fun, make sure that it has not been generated at the max distance from the planet, given its speed, time left and distance. So it has enough freedom to destroy a few things on its way...).
Player/AI action and when creating esrever : Dealing with the player/AI, and choosing when to generate the esrever, is slightly more complicated and requires some approximations. Because the earlier (in normal time) the esrever are generated (and thus killed), the longer they would have lived and caused damages. The trick would be that the biggest number the player/AI devotes fighting against these creatures, the latest they will be generated (because he would have been more efficient at destroying them early in their life).
For more refinement in esrever generation, the distance of the mobilized ships should be taken in account (will they manage to be in the area of the esrever soon enough to take part of hunt ?). Depending on the number of ship expected to be at the planet at the colonisation, you could define the proportion of esrever surviving this moment. And so on in concentric circles growing in the planet and going backward in time.
For even more refinement in geographical generation, at the creation of the event, a number of esrever could be attribuated to different quadrants (such as ”between 0° and 60°” centered on the colonised planet), and the calculation to know how late they will be destroyed/generated depends on the number of mobilized ships and time that they could arrive in that area.
Avoiding cheating : To avoid cheating (mobilising plenty of ships to delay the generation of the creature, and then changing their mission for something else), a ship dedicated to that hunt should be not allowed to change activity until the colonisation.
Later, I might post some illustrations for the technical side.
< Message edited by flap -- 10/6/2011 8:46:08 AM >