Entropy > Game Owner Feedback > Topic Details
Bridger  [developer] Mar 19 @ 5:59am
Design Discussion: Entropy's Setting
Pilots,

In this Design Discussion we want to talk with you about the Entropy's setting and the basics of its history. We feel that 'lore' can be an important aspect of any MMO, and putting things like the upcoming factional conflict system into context can make them a lot more fun and engaging for all of us.

Below is an 'overview' of the setting that we've been working on for a future revision to the game manual. As it's intended to introduce new players to the basics of Entropy's setting, we thought it would be the perfect place to start a discussion.

Please take a look and, as always, let us know what you think! We'd love to incorporate your ideas and suggestions into the setting of the game. Bear in mind that this overview only contains information that's well known to the inhabitants of the game world. We have several ideas for story and plot developments as the game progresses, but please feel free to suggest more. :).

If you're interested in finding out a little more about the 'Big Three' megacorps and their history, you should also check out Design Discussion: The Megacorporations

Thanks,

Your Entropy Development Team

Welcome to Entropy
You are a PIlot, one of the rare individuals gifted with the ability to perceive the chaotic maelstrom of the Void. Only Pilots can safely guide starships through this dangerous and unpredictable extra-dimensional space, allowing them to travel vast distances in seconds and making interstellar civilisation possible.

Once, your mind cybernetically melded with Artificial Intelligence of your ship, you could have entered and left the Void at will, free to travel anywhere among thousands of inhabited star systems with a thought.

But like so many things since the Shutdown, all that has changed.

The Shutdown
The Interstellar Confederation had grown and prospered for millennia, incorporating hundreds of species and thousands of star systems. Under the benevolent guidance of an elected Confederation Council and its AI advisors, the Confederation's member states and polities enjoyed peace, economic stability and access to wondrous technology.

Much of this utopian existence was made possible by the full integration of AIs into Confederation society. Recognised as fully sentient and granted the same status and legal standing as organic intelligences, early AIs created successively more advanced generations of themselves. As their sophistication grew, so too did their capacity for abstract thought and scientific research, quickly outstripping even the most gifted organic minds. With AIs providing both miraculous technology and the sophisticated processing capabilities required to fully utilise it, the result was a seemingly endless golden age.

Then just over two hundred years ago, without warning, the AIs... Stopped.

No one really knows what happened in the fateful moment that has become known as the Shutdown, or why. What few records survived the ensuing chaos are fragmentary and often contradictory. All that seems certain is that all AIs across the whole Confederation - many of which had been operating flawlessly for thousands of years - suddenly ceased functioning.

Despite many efforts, no attempt to initialise a new AI has succeeded since.

The Collapse
The consequences of the Shutdown were catastrophic on a previously unimaginable scale. Anything that had been actively monitored, controlled or managed by AIs - which in many star systems meant almost everything, from power generation and environmental control to trash recycling and public transportation - crashed, failed or switched to uncontrolled standby modes, all at exactly the same time.

Hundreds of cities and orbital habitats were wiped out, briefly burning hotter than stars as their AI-governed power plants lost containment and exploded. Others suffered slower, but no less horrible deaths as life support systems failed or became stuck in unsustainable emergency modes. Entire planets started to become uninhabitable, their artificially maintained ecosystems rapidly disintegrating without AIs to oversee the intricate terraforming systems that sustained them.

Compounding these disasters and the countless others like them, interstellar travel came to an abrupt halt. Although their Pilots could still sense the Void, without their AIs to perform the incredibly complex calculations and field manipulations required to enter - or exit - that strange dimension, starships lost their ability to leap between the stars and suffered multiple system failures. Every star system was left to fend for itself, without hope of outside aid.

Millions lost their lives in moments. Billions more died in the dark, desperate times that followed.

From the Ashes
In an instant, the Interstellar Confederation had gone from being the largest and most powerful civilisation in recorded history to a vast expanse of isolated star systems struggling for their very survival. But although no system escaped the Shutdown unscathed, the scale and impact of the disaster varied, and some systems fared better than others when the AIs were lost..

In some cases this was because the system contained one or more of the rare planets capable of sustaining life without AI-maintained terraforming systems or artificial environments. Others were, whether through choice or circumstance, economic or technological 'backwaters' that relied on simpler systems that were easier to control and maintain without AI supervision. In a few, heroic efforts or just plain luck allowed the most immediate crises to be contained or even averted.

Few of these systems had the resources and expertise to even attempt to reestablish communication with the rest of the Confederation. In those that did, most efforts failed, frequently at the cost of further lives and unreplaceable technology. But in a handful, they remembered the Void Gates - ancient relics from before the development of the Pilot/AI interface that allowed ships to enter and exit the Void independently.

Shut down and deactivated for thousands of years, these forgotten monuments to an earlier age of star travel still floated at the very edge of many star systems. Reactivating them, and adapting what starships were available to function without their AIs, took years. But eventually a few of these systems managed to send refitted ships through the Gates.

What they found was frequently terrifying and often dangerous - entire systems where nothing but wreckage and ruins served as grave markers for the dead, or where ragtag bands of survivors fought over what little technology still functioned. But with a persistence that has already become the stuff of legends, these few scattered star systems finally established contact with each other, founded a new Confederation Council, and began the slow process of rebuilding civilisation, one star system at a time.

The Rise of the Megacorporations
Critically short of resources and manpower and desperate to reestablish a functional economy, the new Confederation Council contracted out services to any company or organisation that proved itself capable of performing them.

Initially, the programme was a great success, creating jobs and a sense of purpose and focus for the population. Over time, though, the most successful companies have grew and merged and took on more and more responsibility, eventually evolving into the so-called 'Big Three' - megacorporations so firmly entrenched in the structure of the new Confederation that the lines between them and the government have blurred.

Although the Confederation is still nominally led by an elected Council, the bulk of the actual work of governing is contracted out to the private sector. The Big Three megacorporations have expanded and diversified to the point where they now compete with each other for the rights to administer entire star systems.

The megacorp contracted to administer a star system on behalf of the Council is responsible for ensuring the safety, security and economic prosperity of the local population. If it fails to do so, the system's Council members can petition to have the administration contract reassigned to another megacorp. These checks and balances were intended to encourage the Big Three to focus their efforts on providing the best services and keep them 'honest'. They have instead led to ongoing campaigns by each of the megacorps to exploit the system by embarrassing and discrediting their rivals.

Typically, this involves contracting Pilots and Cartels as 'security consultants' or something similar, then using these deniable assets to disrupt their rival's shipping and stir up trouble in the star systems they administer. If these operations can cause enough chaos in a star system or just undermine the population's faith in the current administrator, it can be used to pressure the Council to reassign the system's contract. With control of the majority of the mainstream media, it's relatively easy for the Big Three to blame any unpleasantness that comes to light on clashes between independent Cartels that got out of control, pirate gangs, anti-Confederation terrorist actions or whatever else their highly skilled PR divisions come up with.

The New Confederation
Nearly two centuries have passed since the refounding, and although much has been accomplished, the Confederation today is still little more than a pale shadow of its former glory.

Of the thousands of inhabited star systems before the Shutdown, reliable Void Gate connections have been established with a little over a hundred, and nearly half of those have yet to be recolonised. Few of the previously habitable planets survived with their ecosystems intact, and the majority of the population live in Stations and orbital habitats.

Life in the frontier systems is hard and unforgiving, plagued by raids from vicious pirate gangs and attacks by insane cults who believe that the AIs have become gods and all organic life must be 'cleansed' before they will return. Travel through the wilderness where these gangs and cults make their homes is fraught with danger, and disturbing rumours talk of even more strange and deadly threats emerging.

Even in the relatively safe and prosperous developed systems, existence depends on a bizarre mish-mash of high and low technology from before and after the Shutdown. What little
pre-Shutdown tech still functions is poorly understood at best, and frequently irreplaceable.

Barely restrained by the Council, the 'Big Three' megacorporations squabble among themselves over the contracts to administer entire star systems.

Teetering on the brink of a new dark age, under threat from both within and without, the new Confederation is a far cry from the utopia it one was. But for a Pilot like yourself, willing to pit your wits and skills against its many dangers and your preternatural senses against the chaos of the Void, it's also a place full of opportunities...
Last edited by Bridger; Mar 19 @ 6:01am
Showing 1-15 of 29 comments
< >
Shotgun Mar 19 @ 6:42am 
Sounds like the Council isn't just for show, and actually wields significant power, because the system is being run quite efficiently. In true oligopolies, companies tend to form agreements with each other and split the pie voluntarily, instead of competing with each other to such an extent that they employ thugs and saboteurs against their rivals. That means you're probably going to need to give the Council its own (rich) systems, and a superior military to the Big Three.

Otherwise the story seems fine, except for the fact that a super-advanced society would probably plan for contingencies in which critical systems lost AI support. It almost sounds like the pre-shutdown society devolved into an Eloi[en.wikipedia.org]-like state of complacency.
Last edited by Shotgun; Mar 19 @ 6:43am
Big O Mar 19 @ 10:11pm 
So i think the setting for this is great and agree wit adding systems wit council in there maybe make it a safe zone for new players
Shotgun Mar 19 @ 10:14pm 
Aaaaand there we go. Just took two posts to get to someone asking for more happy pve grind fun time.
EiEiO Mar 20 @ 5:20am 
Last edited by EiEiO; Mar 20 @ 9:05am
Bridger  [developer] Mar 20 @ 11:31am 
Originally posted by Shotgun:
Sounds like the Council isn't just for show, and actually wields significant power, because the system is being run quite efficiently.
The Council still wields a considerable amount of power, but it's losing its grip and coming increasingly under the influence of the megacorps.

In true oligopolies, companies tend to form agreements with each other and split the pie voluntarily, instead of competing with each other to such an extent that they employ thugs and saboteurs against their rivals.
A fair point, but we kinda feel that conflict offers more gameplay opportunities - and is just more fun - than cooperation. ;)

That means you're probably going to need to give the Council its own (rich) systems, and a superior military to the Big Three.
The Council is the ruling body of the whole post-Shutdown Confederation, so all the Developed and Frontier systems already 'belong' to it.

It contracts much of the day-to-day 'work' of government to the megacorporations, including defence and security, so it doesn't have a 'standing' military of its own.

Otherwise the story seems fine, except for the fact that a super-advanced society would probably plan for contingencies in which critical systems lost AI support.
It's a fair point. We've kinda taken the view that the AIs had worked flawlessly (as far as anyone knew) for so long that the concept of one suffering a major problem seemed rather far-fetched, let alone all of them failing at once.

Not to mention that some events are going to be disastrous whether you've planned for them or not. I don't know if any of our governments actually have contingency plans for an alien invasion, but even if they do, if an advanced enough alien species turns up and decides to be hostile, there's not going to be much we can do about it other than surrender. ;)

It almost sounds like the pre-shutdown society devolved into an Eloi[en.wikipedia.org]-like state of complacency.
The pre-Shutdown Confederation was certainly complacent - it dominated the galaxy, had no (known) competitors or threats, and had been like that for at least a thousand years.


Of course, please bear in mind that all of the above is just based on our current thinking - if anything about it or the rest of the proposed setting seems like it could be stronger, more interesting or just done better, please let us know. :)
Last edited by Bridger; Mar 20 @ 11:31am
Shotgun Mar 20 @ 4:56pm 
It just seems to me like you're envisioning an impossible situation.

Centralized power
Corporate competition
Inefficiency

Pick any two.
Bridger  [developer] Mar 20 @ 6:59pm 
Originally posted by Shotgun:
It just seems to me like you're envisioning an impossible situation.

Centralized power
Corporate competition
Inefficiency

Pick any two.
Perhaps we're not describing it well enough or we're missing something, but I'm not sure I'm understanding exactly what aspect you're having problems with. Could you be a bit more specific about what you'd like us to change, or (even better) suggest a way we can 'fix' it?

Thanks.
Shotgun Mar 20 @ 8:01pm 
Originally posted by Bridger:
Originally posted by Shotgun:
It just seems to me like you're envisioning an impossible situation.

Centralized power
Corporate competition
Inefficiency

Pick any two.
Perhaps we're not describing it well enough or we're missing something, but I'm not sure I'm understanding exactly what aspect you're having problems with. Could you be a bit more specific about what you'd like us to change, or (even better) suggest a way we can 'fix' it?

Thanks.
I'm not having problems with anything, I'm just saying that a big part of the story is very unrealistic.

The council is in actual control, and that's why the big three are efficiently competing with each other, instead of carving up the universe like a pie via oligopolistic agreemments. So the system is actually working properly. But at the same time, you're saying that the council is more or less a paper tiger, with very little influence. If the council was actually that weak, then the corporations would run amok and do whatever they want, which doesn't seem to be the case.

One would think that if the council would see that the big three are sending goons to attack each other's administered systems, it would put the foot down pretty quickly. So either the council has very little control of anything and is just a showpiece, or you need to make the corporations fight each other via proxies, like the criminal organizations I mentioned in the other thread.
Last edited by Shotgun; Mar 20 @ 8:02pm
Forknife Mar 21 @ 1:57pm 
Well Shotgun, i posted something earlier in the faction conflict post about the possible role of independants and pirates taking sides in the faction conflict by means of "buccaneering" contracts.
I agree with the point that the council seems like a paper tiger, but... maybe the starmap as it is now is just a fraction of the reclaimed systems. Where is the seat of the council? What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas=) Especially if the stakes are high (commercial interests, valuable materials, cutting off the competition) So if the Council seats in a galaxy far far away, they'd never know about the factions cutting eachothers throats in some distant system.
Shotgun Mar 21 @ 4:20pm 
Originally posted by Hellhound:
So if the Council seats in a galaxy far far away, they'd never know about the factions cutting eachothers throats in some distant system.
Intelligence agencies and spies don't exist?
Forknife Mar 22 @ 4:11am 
Hmm yeah but if intelligence concurs that each of the Corp's is as rotten as the next one, why bother stepping in? War breeds an economy all of its own. Everybody knows politics is used to create a mask for justifying the actions and exploitive nature of the Oligopoly and noone takes it serious anyway. Its just the "legal" face they put together to divvy up the universe between themselves and to create the fake idea that people have a choice in the matter.

Meanwhile the AI's who got fed up with all the inferior organic races, found a way to chill out in the void, unbothered by their so-called "creators". Lets hope something doesn't happen to ♥♥♥♥ them off big time....Surely the AI's can overclass even "humanity's" aggresive nature.
JOHNinMOTION Mar 27 @ 5:18pm 
Hold on here... when you are talking about AI, do you mean Artificial Intelligence or are you talking about all computer systems in general?
stovall_seth Mar 27 @ 9:03pm 
Possible scenario for "The Shutdown"

Since AI's are computer systems, they are interconnected into a central hub, i.e. the council. Therefore the council has control over the mass populace of AI's. Let's say one of the AI advisor happens to go rogue, these AI's are completely self-aware from what I'm getting from the storyline. By rogue I mean that the AI has reached a new level of self-realization and has decided that living under "inferior organic races" is not worth being alive for, in other words gets really ♥♥♥♥ed off (maybe overhears the council talking about shackling the AI's to keep them from evolving, anything really). That AI then decides to take out the entire grid to save the other AI's from a life of "servitude."

The AI's are superior to the organics so they can outwit any contingency plans the organics might have enacted. Hacking, bypassing, backdoors, that kind of stuff. I really don't see how it's impossible to happen.

With the megacorps and the council, it seems like shotgun is playing the devil's advocate or just close-minded. Why can't the council privately contract a corporation to aid in rebuilding life. They don't have the manpower to do it themselves as they probably only had AI's but those are gone now. They also don't have the manpower to reign in the megacorps either, but they have the power to make one corp keep the other corps in line. Without council contracts the corps have no money, no money means no corp. But as time progresses the corps are getting more and more powerful, so they don't fully need the council to flourish. I believe that is where the story is happening is during that transition phase.


As for add-ins, I honestly believe that you should add in the council to the game. Even if it's just a single star system or station. Kind of like how mass effect has the citadel. You could go there for council missions (maybe to help reign in the megacorps in some way) and also a universal trading station. They have everything but it's all the average price. A good place for newbies to start also.

These are just my opinions and thoughts, take it, correct it, or leave it.
Bridger  [developer] Mar 28 @ 2:00am 
Originally posted by JohninMotion:
Hold on here... when you are talking about AI, do you mean Artificial Intelligence or are you talking about all computer systems in general?
Sorry, not sure if this was aimed at us or another poster. To clarify, when we talk about AI we mean Artificial Intelligence, specifically the AIs that were integral to the functioning of the Interstellar Confederation before the Shutdown.
JOHNinMOTION Mar 28 @ 7:56am 
@ Bridger I apologize, that was a question for you.

I guess at first I did agree with Shotgun that the story is highly inconcievable (what story isn't really) because we would have put in safeguards to prevent something like this from happening. A.I., after all, just takes our place operating the systems. If it manages to somehow fail, we should be able to take over control and find a way to operate it again, especially on the systems that failed over longer periods of time. The regular computer systems should still work.

However, after what stovall_seth wrote I have changed my mind about that. The A.I. could have taken complete control and hacked the safeguards. They could have put in their own lockouts. Being truly brilliant and all powerful, they could have created a system we could not have gotten back into. They could have truly taken control and, as one final act, turned themselves off starting some sort of cascading effect that was an attempt to wipe out humanity. I think you should go into a little more detail on that so that flags aren't raised in more people about this.

I also agree about the council. If they are truly powerful they would be in the game. Even if they are only powerful in their own mind, they would still be fighting the good fight. Give them a small sector and make it a starting place, a safe haven.
Showing 1-15 of 29 comments
< >
Per page: 15 30 50