Message: Priority One
Starfleet Command Headquarters
Planetary Sciences Division
Priority Authorization : ********** ACCESS
Hello everyone, Ambarenya here for an important announcement.
Over the past few months, there may be some among you who have gathered from my various cryptic statements on the forums, stirrings of something major going on behind the scenes. Although I have continued to do my usual string work and other QA tweaks, you may have noticed that I have been somewhat distracted as of late. I am here to declare that the time of subterfuge is over. After many months of research, brainstorming, and lastly, igniting the primordial fire of development, it is with great pleasure that I am now finally ready to officially announce what Max and I have been working on.
Although I have not been, as some might say, the most prominent of the devs here on the Armada III team, I believe that I have always worked behind the scenes to help make our mod the best that it could possibly be. I started as a lowly String Editor all the way back at the end of 2013, right after the 0.95 beta was released, and through a lot of trial and error, hard work, and with a lot of help from all of my fellow devs, I gained a solid understanding of a wide range of aspects of the mod's development, contributing in small ways wherever I was able. Having been a long-time and very dedicated fan of Star Trek and Star Trek games, being able to work on this mod has been a dream come true, and I can only hope that what I set forth today will be a worthy addition to our existing content. Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier is in many ways my gift to the team and to all of our supporters and fans - it is a complete overhaul of the Armada III universe, bringing to you a system truly worthy of the Star Trek we all know and love. With the invaluable assistance of our dear leader, the exceptionally talented Max Loef, my dream of bringing "infinite diversity in infinite combinations" to your Star Trek gaming experience will finally be realized.
So, Ambarenya, you've prattled on about yourself, but what is your motivation?
The predominant motivation for The Final Frontier is to address something which I personally felt was sorely lacking in A Call to Arms: a sense of exploration and grandeur. Currently, you build your scout ships, and send them out without a care in the world what happens to them. You detect a planet and then forget about it until you can capture it. There is very little interest or concern in what you find, because it's all so expected. The random setups are predictable and unrealistic: tons of full-size planets, very few empty gravity wells or other phenomena, nothing that really inspires a sense of wonder, allows you to take advantage of a tactical situation, or devise truly unique paths to victory. It can be said that despite all these brilliant, realistic ship models, the universe surrounding them doesn't feel alive or real.
Looks like we've got a wise guy! So, what are you going to do about it, eh punk?
Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier will completely revamp our existing planetary system, turning it from one of limited dimensions into what is arguably the most sophisticated and ambitious planetary system ever created for a Sins of a Solar Empire mod. Using principles derived from real-life exoplanetary science and the science of Star Trek, Max and I have crafted an expansive and highly-detailed planetary system that presents the player with a diverse and more realistic (and fun!) interstellar experience. You will encounter strange new worlds, you will seek out new life and new civilizations, you will boldly go where no one has gone before. As you may have seen from the Planetary Science Division seal, the motto of The Final Frontier expansion is "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" (IDIC), and while we may not be able to provide truly *infinite* diversity, we can provide enough diversity to give the sense that it is.
Well, Ambarenya, your silvered tongue may get you far, but I need to see the numbers.
Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier brings to your computer the full diversity of the Star Trek universe. You will see many familiar vistas and faces in your travels in The Final Frontier, and a few new ones as well. But it all has all been designed with *you*, the Star Trek fan, in mind.
In its current state, the expansion is planned to have (or already has):
+ Nearly 100 distinct planet classes and corresponding moons, based on planets seen or described in Alpha and Beta canon, ranging from Class A Geothermals to Class Y Demon Worlds. We will likely include a number of "unique worlds" (i.e. Earth, Bajor, Cardassia) to be depicted in specific scenarios as well.
+ Nearly 150 distinct gravity well types, ranging from natural space phenomena, ancient space junk, capturable stations and ships, to resource sectors, and even the occasional ambush!
+ Over 40 distinct star types, including a full spectrum of main-sequence, dwarf, and giant stars, unique binary stars, as well as mysterious magnetars, and deadly Wolf-Rayets!
+ Nearly 200 class-based (and scientific or lore-inspired) planetary bonuses, ranging from strange geologic formations, to hostile flora and fauna, to rare mining deposits, to powerful relics of antiquity.
+ Around 40 Neutral factions, including some revamped old faces such as the Tholians and the Ferengi, but also a large number of new faces, including the Rakelli and the Hirogen, and also many unknown species along the way!
+ A deeply-researched scientifically-based background to each planet type, adapted into the game. No more arbitrarily decided statistics. Planetary stats and resources are calculated using an extensive matrix that takes into account 18 different planetary characteristics, such as: average surface gravity, average magnetic field strength, surface and atmospheric stability, and even a "humanoid habitability index".
+ A chance for random encounters with implacable enemies and dangerous state security threats! But, don't fret, it's not all bad, you may just encounter a friendly space alien or a Class-2 comet! News sources will also keep you up to date on the latest economic and social trends in the Quadrant.
+ New hi-res textures and models for planets, moons, stars, gravity wells, skyboxes, and new neutrals! We seek to bring everything up to the standard of excellence championed by the Armada III team's modellers and artists.
+ New set-piece maps designed to recreate scenarios from the Dominion War era, along with old favorites, random maps, and even a small number of old SOASE maps adapted for use in The Final Frontier (I'd like to put out a poll for a top-5 or top-10, depending on the amount of time I have to devote).
+ TFF has been built with modders in mind. All Galaxy Forge users should find that despite the vast amount of resources available to you when building custom maps, everything in TFF is standardized, clearly-labeled, and easy to work with. No more frantically searching for that strangely-named ship or planet.
+ Potentially more modules as time or willpower allows.
But what if I don't want it to be real? What if I like things the way they are? What if I play competitively?
Already ahead of you, my friend! Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier is designed with you in mind too! It has been built from the ground up for maximum compatibility, and will not significantly change or remove the old Armada III maps that you enjoy. If you don't want to play the new way, then you don't have to. All maps will be intricately labeled to let you know what they are, and where they came from.
So, you've got this great expansion in the works, how long do I have to wait to play it?
Work continues on The Final Frontier, and, as is usual, we have not yet set a release date. However, a significant amount of work has already been done, so a release may not be more than a few months away. The expansion will require extensive testing to ensure both the stability and quality of the mod, but we are hopeful that when it is released, it will be of a caliber equal to, or exceeding any previous releases. We will also endeavor to keep you regularly appraised of the work that is being done.
Okay, cool. What now?
In conclusion, we sincerely hope that this expansion announcement will be welcome news to everyone, and we look forward to hearing what you might have to say about it. If you have any questions, feel free to post them here, or on the Armada III subreddit - discussions are always welcome! I will be reading!
This is the righteous and faithful Ambarenya, signing out.