Long have we fought, exploited, and deceived each other... Long have we destroyed our world in the name of greed.
Now we look to the stars, not to seek refuge, but to show that we have learnt the value of beauty in this universe. It is our chance to embrace a new future, but in the end, as our united nations have decided, it will be up to you!
This trust also comes with a great responsibility, that to preserve our species against the threats that the Big Unknown is likely to send at us...
- WHAT IS SPACE AGE?
- MILESTONES AND RELEASE PLAN
- WEBSITE AND FORUM
- PRIORITIES AND TECHNICAL CHALLENGES
- ROADMAP AND CHANGELOG
See included NFO readme files for installation instructions.
MAIN CUMULATIVE DOWNLOADS
- SPACE AGE: GALAXY
- SEPARATE OVERHAULED GOVERNMENTS v.1.0
Note: I included a Races.xml file modified specifically to make the standalone modded Governments.xml work with the vanilla version of the game. All new government types should be selectable as desired for each faction, and preferred government types for them have been reassigned based on vanilla settings.
WHAT IS SPACE AGE?
Distant Worlds is its own universe. Although fundamentally grounded in science-fiction, Distant Worlds also has—like Star Wars—elements leaning towards the fantasy genre, such as with some of its resources, its research or storytelling, which all partake to make the game unique beyond its mechanics and depth. To an extent, the own lore of Distant Worlds is also deeply embedded in its making.
As a moddable platform, however, Distant Worlds 2 also represents a perfect setting for other types of sci-fi approach and storytelling taking place across stars, because of its scale, immersive complexity, and—with the hope that it will expand much further—the malleability of its contents.
The goal of SPACE AGE is simply to let the power of Distant Worlds 2 tell specifically the early history of mankind’s expansion into space, while the game’s original plot itself takes place millennia later. It is also to tell a sci-fi story to which we can more closely identify, with a darker, more intricate and more realistic background, and with more explicit ties to science or politics. At the top of the list of inspirational backgrounds for SPACE AGE are the Alien franchise, Descent: FreeSpace and The Expanse.
SPACE AGE is therefore intended to be a partial conversion of Distant Worlds 2 set at the start of mankind's definite step into the cosmos. Since the game is focused on telling the star-faring adventure of mankind, only humans are going to be playable in the full, narrated version of SPACE AGE. However, large sections of the game will also be modified to develop the game around that context. SPACE AGE is planned to mainly feature:
- A map of 1000 named stars in the local Orion Spur up to 2000 parsecs around the Solar system (see this thread);
- Overhauled, more science-based astronomical data, including likelihood of spectral type, number of planetary satellites, effect of star habitable zones, etc.
- Overhauled, more realistic set of resources, with limited number of “luxury” resources all unique to celestial body types;
- Revisited tech tree, with a richer sci-fi context, and with more integrated research pathways;
- Revisited component names and characteristics;
- Expanded bonuses and locations of interest for celestial bodies;
- Overhauled and expanded list of governments, now 11 in total;
- Overhauled character pool (names and avatars) for humans, with male and female variants;
- Three new alien species with deep lore replacing vanilla ones;
- Modified and expanded music;
- Entirely new storyline, with ties to known sci-fi franchises, and new game events;
- Introduction of Ace pilots as characters;
- "Fuel" limiting system replaced by "Supplies";
- Jump gates.
For more details about these features, see the PRESENTATION section.
MILESTONES AND RELEASE PLAN
SPACE AGE is an ambitious project. Its progress is not only limited by the time to create and test it, but by the own modding constraints of Distant Worlds 2 (see the ROADMAP section for more details).
For this reason, I decided to work with milestones and separate pre-releases, each representing larger modifications and progress towards the full and final SPACE AGE. These milestones will be SPACE AGE: GALAXY and SPACE AGE: GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS. The content of these sub-mods may change according to the evolution of DW2 moddability.
SPACE AGE: GALAXY
SPACE AGE: GALAXY will be a way to enjoy DW2 and its lore in a refreshed and more scientifically-accurate astronomical context. It is planned to feature:
- The new galaxy settings; [80%, CURRENTLY BUGGED]
- New Milky Way-inspired galactic background; [DONE]
- The new governments; [DONE]
- New music. [50%]
You can already download the new Milky Way-inspired galactic background HERE. To install, simply unzip into your main DW2 folder (where the executable is). For those who wish, they can modify the file to enable a version without the spiral (for non-spiral galaxy types). Backup included.
Estimated release date: Soon.
SPACE AGE: GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS
SPACE AGE: GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS will represent a more significant change and provide a new technological context, as well as new alien civilizations. In addition to the content of SPACE AGE: GALAXY, It will feature:
- The overhauled resources; [75%, CURRENTLY BUGGED]
- The overhauled research; [25%]
- The modified components; [25%]
- Three new races; [80%, CURRENTLY BUGGED]
Estimated release date: Summer 2022.
WEBSITE AND FORUM
Beside criticism and new ideas, SPACE AGE will require testing, which is why I plan to set up a space on Moddb.com as well as a forum as soon as Distant Worlds 2 is registered there as a game (I already notified Slitherine).
If you are interested by any aspect of the mod and wish to get involved, please drop a line below or contact me directly: amiralace (at) yandex.com.
PRESENTATION (WIP) [SPOILERS!]
Below is a presentation of the main changes to the game brought by SPACE AGE and its pre-releases, as well as the ideas behind them.
- 1. NEW GALAXY SETTINGS (Orbtypes.xml)
Since SPAGE AGE is set to take place in the volume of the Milky Way within 2000 parsecs of Sol, changes to the composition of the galaxy intend to make it more science-based and immersive. This means, among other things, that:
- Most celestial objects get an updated look
- Stars are classified by spectral type and their relative abundance follows real astronomical observations
- The possible size of star systems is expanded, and they can now have an Oort-like peripheral belt
- Planet types occur more within their expected distance to the star, and life-bearing planets only occur within the habitable zone of the corresponding spectral type
- Number of possible planetary satellites is expanded within the technical limit allowed by the game
- Asteroid belts orbiting planets are removed
- Planets with homogeneous biomes (forest, mangrove, swamps...) are replaced with a diversity of other much more likely planets to find
- Following latest astronomical data, H2O-bearing planets are much more common
- Each suitable planet now delivers one unique "luxury" resource not find in other celestial types
- Sceneries, bonuses and ruins are modified and expanded and made more relevant to the celestial body they belong to
- Asteroid types according to the Tholen classification (C, S, X), plus icy planetesimals on the outskirts of systems
Class Ht (terran)
Class Hm (microbial)
Class Hs (surface ocean)
Class Ps (hydro desert)
Class Ks (snowball)
Class Tm (magmatic)
Class As (siliceous)
Class Gg (gas giant)
Class Gi (ice giant)
Class Hg (gaia or "superterran")
Class Hb (blighted)
Class Pr (post-hydro desert)
Class Pt (hydrobio desert)
Class Kt (bioarctic)
Class Kr (frozen crust)
Class Hd (mantellar ocean)
Class B (brown dwarf)
Class Am (metallic)
Class Ai (icy)
Class Hx (toxic)
Class C (protoplanet)
Class Ts (sulfuric)
- 2. NEW GOVERNMENTS (Governments.xml)
SPACE AGE offers 11 tailored government types representing both a broader and more detailed political range.
The new government list is:
Way of Darkness
Way of the Ancients
- 3. NEW RESOURCES (Resources.xml)
Resources are central for SPACE AGE to lay out a more immersive, "harder" sci-fi game context. But, of course, it is still science-fiction, so a few of them still lie beyond science (where would be the fun and creativity otherwise, huh?). Beside the 17 strategic resources, there are 18 "luxury" resources. This means that a majority of existing luxury resources have been removed from gameplay, but the ones remaining have been made more meaningful: each luxury resource is now associated with a single planet type, and won't be found anywhere else. This provides more controlled rarity and should create more pressure on some worlds that are among the few to yield a luxury resource.
Overall rules of abundance for resources are also revisited. In general, planets have more available resources, but in lesser abundance. Asteroid fields (X (metallic) and C (carbonaceous) types as well as outer icy planetesimals) are also designed to be important places to find specific resources, especially early in the game.
New resource list:
- Metallic hydrogen
Metallic hydrogen is a solid and therefore condensed form of hydrogen, present in great quantity on most gas giants. Hydrogen isotopes are used most notably in propulsion and nuclear fusion. (still used as fuel source before SPACE AGE final release)
Hydrocarbons are organic compounds consisting entirely of hydrogen and carbon, found abundantly in frozen form on most ice giants. Hydrocarbons, like fossil fuels or methane, have long been used to provide energy, but can also be used to make a wide range of materials.
Arsane is a flammable and highly toxic gas which is one of the simplest compounds of arsenic. Because of this, it is difficult to handle, and therefore its production is costly. However, it is also extremely useful in the fabrication of microelectronics.
Sciathide is a recently-discovered exotic gas that has extremely strong ionization properties and which can be modulated with an electromagnetic field, potentially forming a deflective surface impenetrable by other molecules.
Titanium has the highest strength-to-density ratio of any metallic element. This is why it has long been used to produce strong, lightweight alloys for civilian and military purposes alike.
Tungsten is a rare metal found naturally on most telluric planets. Tungsten occurs in superalloys and a wealth of other technological components. Tungsten's hardness and high density make it suitable for military applications in penetrating projectiles, and is often used as an industrial catalyst.
Palladium is a rare and lustrous silvery-white metal of the platinum-group. It is used extensively in the fabrication of autocatalysts, electronics and chemical reagents. It is also a key component of fuel cells, which react hydrogen with oxygen to produce electricity, heat, and water.
Long considered to be a fictional metal, a rare natural alloy was recently found occurring in oceanic crusts that may have been the fabled orichalcum of the Atlantis. This metal is characterized by anti-gravitic properties challenging current tenets of physics.
Silicon is one of the most common elements of telluric crusts and certain asteroids, and is critical to some life forms. It has a vast range of uses, from construction to electronics.
Clay minerals form in the presence of water and are thought to have a catalytic role in the formation of life. They are important constituents of soils, and have long been useful in agriculture and manufacturing.
Salts are electronically neutral chemical compounds found in planets with a history of sedimentary cycles, and sometimes have organic origins. Some salts, like phosphate, have a wide range of applications, in medicine, agriculture or industry.
Amphibolite is an aqueous metamorphic rock commonly found on telluric worlds with a tectonic history. It is mixed with other materials to build the toughest of planetary constructions.
- Shocked quartz
Shocked quartz is a form of this mineral usually resulting from catastrophic events in the history of the celestial body in which it is found. It has recently been used in the stabilization of ion generators and engines.
- Liquid vermeerite
Vermeerite is a very rare mineral whose unique characteristic is to be found naturally in cold, liquid crystalline form. This exceptional thermodynamic property allowed for the theorization and conception of resilient fluid materials.
Named after Isaac Asimov's fictional compound, thiotimoline is a carbohydrate molecule found generally in carbonaceous chondrites. Extreme heat and pressure applied to thiotimoline creates instable carbon bonds that lead to a physical effect known as "quantum leak", which distorts space and time.
Graphite is a crystalline hexagonal and the most stable form of carbon. Its high conductivity makes it useful in electronic products such as electrodes, batteries, and solar panels. Most importantly, however, graphite can be either decomposed into graphene, one-atom layered lattices used for nanoconstruction, or compressed to form diamonds, which have uses for their hardness in a myriad of civilian and military applications.
Kerogen is a solid and amorphous form of amalgamated carbon polymers from compressed organic matter, usually abundant on planets with carbon-based life. Protokerogen is a form of kerogen dating back to the early stages of the formation of the universe. This compound has a tremendous importance for fundamental research across all disciplines.
- Metallic hydrogen
Perhaps better left to discover?
- 4. NEW RACES (Races.xml)
New factions? Really?
SPACE AGE will feature three new alien species replacing existing ones: Xenakars will replace Boskarans, Ylrikis the Haakonish, and Zygonens the Mortalens. Respective ships and other assets of the original races will be kept, but the rest of the data will be extensively modified.
X, Y, Z?!
Earth xenoanthropologists thought naming these extra-solar intelligent lifeforms with the last letters of the Latin alphabet would emphasize their alien nature. Bring it to them.
Called this way because they disturbingly look like hands (xeno and cheir in Greek meaning "alien" and "hand"), Xenakars originate from the system of Uruk, a F8V main sequence star located 386 light years from Sol, far into the North-East quadrant, between Deneb and the Helix nebula, in a sector called the Winged Council.
The xenakar homeworld is a telluric planet whose atmosphere is replete with ammonia, chlorine and sulfur dioxide, and therefore considered extremely toxic for humans. Most Xenakars are effectively something like one-meter-long spiders covered with skin: they have four pairs of clawed "fingers", and their few organs are protected inside an exoskeleton, but their entire body is also covered with a stretchable membrane, which is lethally poisonous to humans. They also possess a "tail" that they use mainly to move and hang themselves, but that is also designed to connect to the tail of other Xenakars, as a means to share nutrients and possibly also information. At any one time among a group of Xenakars tasked with a specific mission - like on a ship - a single individual is designated the "collector", and serves as the "memory" or data repository for the entire group. This is usually what is considered the equivalent of a commander or ambassador. Xenakars are parthenogenetic and lay soft eggs inside decomposing organic matter, preferably inside corpses and carcasses.
Xenakars do not have any sense of pity or compassion, and operate coldly, making their expansionist drive a very serious threat. On one-on-one combat, they have been seen jumping at a human's head and then stabbing them in the chest with their strong tails. Because they breath ammonia, however, they are rarely seen outside of their ships or any suitably enclosed environment, except of course on the toxic planets they colonize. For larger assaults, they use vehicles that are semi-organic - like their ships - and which often move on articulated legs. They also use larger creatures specifically bred for ground combat. Establishing any kind of relationship with this species is a tremendous challenge.
Studies suggest that Xenakars evolved from parasites living in ponds of liquid ammonia - an extraordinary biological feat for a multicellar organism. Although they use metals and are naturally gifted chemists, they favor organic matter and even living organs for any type of construction, which may seem paradoxical considering how harsh their homeworld is for life. Xenakars curiously do not have a 0 in their culture, not only as a symbol, but also as any multiple of 10. This sometimes makes their arithmetic difficult to understand, and causes practical military issues.
The Ylrikis are native of Nushagak, a G5 subgiant system with a wide but hot habitable zone, located on the way to Polaris, towards NGC 246 and the Alpha Persei cluster. The Ylrikis homeworld is a desert planet with sparse, salty water seas. The Ylrikis have evolutionary roots into arthropod-like aquatic species with high saline tolerance, before their migration to land and their adaptation to dry and hot biomes.
Grossly resembling three-meter high leeches with crustacean heads, Ylrikis generally have simple thoughts, and their society has an equally simple organisation. They are ruled, or perhaps more appropriately "guided", by a trio of "united" individuals, culturally and sexually, to which other trios are subordinate. Indeed, the Ylrikis possess a three-way form of sexuality requiring three partners to produce offsprings, and individuals forming such a union usually are bound for life. An Ylrikis has very little needs, filtering the air for water and ingesting soil for minerals and organic particles.
The Ylrikis have an approach to existence that may be called spiritual, but without any superstition or any esoteric metaphysics attached to it. They have a reverence for life in general, and a deep respect for all things surrounding them. They are therefore mostly peaceful, but are also particularly devoted to protecting what they love and value.
The imposing Zygonens, standing at a height of about four meters, come from the blighted planet Zygona, in the Bibha system, a G1V at the heart of Cassiopeia's Sextant, which is surrounded by pulsars and on the path towards the Orion nebula.
It was initially believe that the Zygonens were responsible for the destruction of their homeworld, several thousands years ago, as the result of a nuclear holocaust. However, it is now clear that this cataclysm was caused instead by a massive asteroid impact, even if the belligerent culture of the Zygonens had certainly left their world in a poor state before the collision occurred. Their society today is born from the ashes of this past history, making them all fantastically resilient survivors, and perhaps even reinforced their warmongering tendencies. They have also biologically and technologically adapted to the peculiar conditions of devastated worlds, which in their chaos and instability share similarities with protoplanets.
Zygonens are obsessed with symmetry and rectangularity, from their ships and constructions to their culture and the very structure of their society. This society is divided into three classes: the Khhâellfar (Resilient), the Çbemedanik (Inspired) and the Jiùjiùnoor (Valorous). None of these is superior to the other, instead they are considered the three essential aspects of a society and each individual must join one of them - through a fundamentally important ritual - according to their predispositions and skills. The casts more or less respectively represent the workers, the intellectuals and the soldiers, although zygonen functions can in fact be quite complex, and for instance officers can be either Çbemedanik or Jiùjiùnoor depending on their role.
Zygonens have an horizontally elongate head with two red slits for eyes, and a tiny mouth hidden behind salivary papillae. Zygonens only have short stumps for arms but also a set of six pedal tentacles they use for locomotion and manipulation. This is consistent with the idea that Zygona was originally a deep ocean planet. In spite of their tiny mouth opening, Zygonens intriguingly can also produce a colossal range of sounds, much more vast than what humans are capable of. This makes their language uniquely deep, artistic and complex, even if it is bound by geometric rules.
PRIORITIES AND TECHNICAL CHALLENGES
The main technical challenges to overcome to make progress towards the release of SPACE AGE: GALAXY and SPACE AGE, by order of current priority:
- 1. Debug the currently available XML
-> Changing race names causes them to be unselectable at game start
-> Metallic asteroid name hardcoded and cannot be modified
-> Luxury resources cannot be deleted from Resources.xml and unused ones still appear in-game.
- 2. Obtain access to images
Images, including species and character portraits and planet backgrounds, are harcoded.
- 3. Make categories for male and female names and associate with image bundles
Currently there is only first and last name categories in Races.xml and control over image allocation is hardcoded.
- 4. Obtain access to galaxy generation settings
I made the Thousand Starmap exportable as a table file. Ideally, this dataset could be fed to the galaxy generator in-game to place star names, spectral types and relative locations and then procedurally generate the rest.
- 5. Broader code access
Making new character types (Ace pilots), changing fuel with supplies and adding gateways will only be possible with more code access and understanding, which is a more long-term goal.
ROADMAP AND CHANGELOG
- Overhauled, more science-based astronomical data;
- Improved and expanded list of governments, now 11 in total;
- Expanded bonuses and locations of interest for celestial bodies [UNFINISHED];
- Modified and expanded music [UNFINISHED];
-> SPACE AGE: GALAXY milestone
- Revisited troops, planetary facilities and artefacts [PLANNED];
- Overhauled, more realistic set of resources [UNFINISHED (BONUSES)];
- Overhauled tech tree, with a richer sci-fi context, and with more integrated research pathways [UNFINISHED];
- Revisited component names and characteristics [UNFINISHED];
- Three new alien species with deep lore replacing vanilla ones [UNFINISHED, TO IMPLEMENT];
-> SPACE AGE: GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS milestone
- Overhauled character pool (names and avatars) for humans, with male and female variants [TO IMPLEMENT];
- Introduction of Ace pilots as characters [PLANNED, TO IMPLEMENT];
- 1000 star map within 2000 parsecs of Sol [TO IMPLEMENT];
- "Fuel" limiting system replaced by "Supplies" [PLANNED, TO IMPLEMENT];
- Jump gates [PLANNED, TO IMPLEMENT];
- Entirely new storyline, with ties to known sci-fi franchises, and new game events [PLANNED].
-> SPACE AGE
Features [TO IMPLEMENT] are essentially ready but cannot yet be added to the game due to the current modding limitations.
SPACE AGE: N/A
SPACE AGE: GALAXY: DW2 v.1014
TBA. Should come with installer and be made available on Steam workshop.
-spaceage_readme.text => this readme
--/backup_SA => backup files
--/screenshots_SA => screenshots of current bugs or mod features
--/data => main mod files
- Current star definitions replaced with spectral types: M to O plus D (white dwarves) (modified existing or newly created star types):
> increased size ranges;
> colour and brightness changes;
> probability changes;
- Brown dwarves larger;
- Changed planet type probability around stars according to spectral type;
- Extended moon types and number (up to 3 for most planets, up to 10 for gas giants);
- Extended colour range for gas giants, inc. blue and red hues;
- Removed planet-orbiting asteroids but made star-orbiting asteroids more common;
- Changed min/max system objects according to spectral type.
- Adjusted planet distance to star (life-bearing planets within CHZ btw. 10 and 20% dist. from star; separate telluric, gas giants and system boundary zones; fine overall temperature-based distance adjustments);
- Adjusted planet quality ranges;
- Implemented Tholen classification for asteroids, addition of C-group (carbonaceous) asteroids;
- Replaced ice asteroids with icy planetesimals (Oort-type), always located at system heliopause;
- Readjusted planet frequencies, increased probability of liquid water-bearing planets;
- Brought max moons down to 2 (most telluric) and 6 (gas);
- Included the GraphicsSettings_Galaxy.xml for a brighter background.
- Changed planet names and introduced (by replacement) new planet types: microbial, blighted, toxic, protoplanet and gaia;
- Changed planet size ranges;
- Slight changes to resources for gas/ice giants;
- Other minor adjustments.
v.0.3 26022021 - CAUTION: FROM THIS POINT ON MODDED ORBTYPES.XML AND RESOURCES.XML ARE INTERDEPENDENT - this will also affect everything else in the game based on resources.
- Resources.xml entirely modded based on mostly real and some fictional materials, now composed of 1 fuel, 16 construction and 18 luxury resources, all with new names and descriptions;
- Resource distribution and abundance in stellar objects completely redone: luxury resources are now unique to a single planet type; stellar objects generally have more resources but yields are smaller; black holes can now be harvested for anti-matter;
- Blighted planets have been reworked;
- Other small adjustments to OrbTypes.xml.
- Added all new and modified governments, with descriptions, updated WotA and WoD;
- Made modifications to humans in Races.xml following modifications in Governments.xml;
- Added new species and wrote descriptions, adjusted some variables;
- Added new human name list.
See ROADMAP and PRIORITIES AND TECHNICAL CHALLENGES.
- This mod and all associated contents come from personal endeavour, are entirely non-commercial, and are not officially endorsed by CodeForce or Matrix Games LLC. All new creative contents related to this mod should be considered under a CC BY-NC license.
- 1. Debug the currently available XML