In this Design Discussion we want to get your thoughts and feedback on the basic nature and background of each of the 'Big Three' megacorps in Entropy.
Below is an 'overview' of the megacorps that we've been working on for a future revision to the game manual. As it's intended to introduce new players to the 'public image' of each of Renon, Transgate and Shoten, 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. :)
Note that we'd recommend checking out Design Discussion: Entropy's Setting
before reading this, as that post contains general background information about the game world that's not covered here.
Your Entropy Development Team
The 'Big Three'
Since the Shutdown, three massive megacorporations have risen to positions of great economic and political power in the new Confederation. Although an elected Council still nominally leads the government, much of the day to day business of governing is actually handled by the so-called 'Big Three', under contract to the Council.
RENONSafety. Security. Renon
Established only a few decades before the Shutdown, Renon Industries was an exclusive shipbuilding company that specialised in designing and constructing 'bespoke' starships and spacecraft for wealthy and influential clients. Although original founder Lavan Renon was lost in the Shutdown, his clone-daughter Lavarra played an important role in the Areyh system's efforts to reestablish contact with nearby systems in the aftermath of the disaster. The very first ship that successfully travelled through the reactivated Kof Gate had been refitted by a Renon team, and was Piloted by Lavarra herself.
After the refounding, Renon's success and experience with refitting pre-Shutdown vessels saw it awarded a Council contract to provide ships and crews to protect scouting missions through reopened Void Gates. Soon after, the company began work on prototypes of the Razorwasp class light fighter, the first post-Shutdown Patrol starship. Designed by a team led by Lavarra and quickly adopted as the standard escort for the continuing survey and recontact efforts, the Razorwasp's success paved the way for Renon to win more and more Council contracts.
Before long the company had become the primary security contractor for the new Confederation. Seizing the opportunities its influential position provided, Renon began to diversify and acquire companies in other fields, eventually expanding to take on contracts for the full administration of entire star systems. The corporation is now based in Arenev, although it maintains extensive shipyards, training and research facilities in Areyh and has been the single largest employer in Dov and Ekhever for decades.
Like all the 'Big Three', Renon today is involved in everything from asteroid mining to mainstream entertainment. The company's public image, however, still places a great emphasis on its history as a provider of security and protection for the new Confederation.
Politically, Renon has made effective use of this self-styled image to oppose the initiatives of its competitors and further its own goals in the name of 'safety and security'. The company makes frequent use of these tactics to oppose Transgate's calls for faster expansion and the reopening of more Void Gates, making much of the risks involved and playing down the potential benefits.
Renon has also been an outspoken skeptic regarding the wisdom and value of AI research, shrewdly playing to public fears and resentment towards AI. In recent years the company has heavily promoted its 'People First' initiative in an effort to swing public opinion against continued AI research and oppose Shoten's frequent requests for additional Council funding for the field.
TRANSGATEBuilding a Better Tomorrow
By far the oldest of the 'Big Three', Transgate can trace its history back to the earliest days of the Confederation, when it was instrumental in constructing and maintaining the Void Gate network that allowed travel between star systems. After the development of the Pilot/AI interface saw the Gates become obsolete, the company switched to focus on terraforming, then diversified into heavy industry and transportation as the Confederation's expansion across the galaxy began to slow.
By the time of the Shutdown, the one mighty corporation's power and influence had waned, although it retained an enviable reputation for producing solid, reliable industrial equipment and heavy shipping, with offices in most major transportation hubs across the Confederation.
In the chaos after the Shutdown, Transgate engineers were the among the first to suggest that the ancient Void Gates might offer a means of reestablishing interstellar travel without AIs. After the refounding, the company was quick to parlay the success of this idea into contracts to find and restore more Gates, and to push for further contracts to help reestablish industrial capacity and mining operations.
Through skillful leveraging of its reputation for reliability and an ambitious programme of rapid expansion, Transgate quickly became one of the dominant forces in both the politics and economy of the new Confederation. Initially it worked hand in hand with Renon, but when that company began to diversify and compete for the same Council contracts, Transgate responded by doing the same, and relations between the two began to deteriorate rapidly..
Transgate today enjoys a position of power and influence in the new Confederation that far exceeds even the company's glory days, millennia before the Shutdown. Although now responsible for the administration of entire star systems, its public image and PR focuses mainly on its long history and reputation for heavy industry and construction, as well as making much of the role it played in the reactivation of the Void Gate network following the Shutdown.
In recent years, Transgate has publicly dedicated itself to 'the full restoration of the Confederation', using its considerable political influence to lobby for a much more ambitious and rapid programme of expansion into pre-Shutdown Confederation territory. This has resulted in frequent clashes with Renon, deepening the divide between the former partners.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Transgate is also a major proponent of the Void Gate network, and bitterly opposed to any attempts to restore the ability of starships to enter the Void under their own power. Shoten has accused several Transgate marketing campaigns of 'deliberately spreading propaganda and misinformation' in their portrayal of the Void Gates as the future of the Confederation and their dismissal of 'Void Jumps' as impossible without AIs..
SHOTENLeading the way
In sharp contrast to Transgate's long history and its emphasis on tradition and continuity, Shoten is the newest member of the 'Big Three', formed a little over a century ago. Its public image and PR make much of the company's reputation for technological development and unconventional thinking.
Of all the consequences of the Shutdown, perhaps the most significant was the loss of information, and the knowledge and understanding to make use of it. Nearly all data in the Confederation had been stored and indexed in the vast memories of AIs, and much of the technology on which it relied required AI supervision to manufacture and control. Recognising the scale and long term impact of this loss, some of the earliest contracts offered by the refounded Council were to research institutes and technology firms, particularly those that had played a key role in reactivating the Void Gates or figuring out how to get starships to function without a controlling AI.
Progress was slow, but three companies met with some success. Stellar Horizons of Borra succeeded in developing processes that allowed critical starship components to be manufactured without AI management, Bahar-based Optimum Technologies made several breakthroughs in resource processing technology, and on the fertile world of Bnazzi, Ellison/Niven & Associates pioneered a range of hardy plant species suitable for large scale hydroponic farming.
Each used their successes to win new Council contracts, expanding their operations and absorbing smaller, less successful research and development outfits. Over several decades the growing firms found themselves competing for new contracts more and more frequently, until finally agreeing to merge and form a new corporation, Shoten.
Shortly afterwards, Renon and Transgate were awarded the first contracts to manage and administer entire star systems on behalf of the Council. Quickly realising the potential of such arrangements, Shoten followed their example, diversifying into new areas and applying all the political pressure it could bring to bear. Within five years, the company was awarded the contract to administer the Borra system, and today Shoten's power and influence has grown to match its two rivals.
Preoccupied with their long-running rivalry, both Renon and Transgate were initially slow to react to the threat posed by the newly-formed Shoten, but that quickly changed once the company was awarded its first system administration contract. Shoten's most popular (and profitable) avenues of research have come under repeated political attack from Renon's opposition to AI research and Transgate's promotion of the Void Gate network over attempts to restore independent Void access to starships.
Shoten, keen to prove itself as a viable alternative to its more established rivals, has thrown itself into these confrontations with considerable enthusiasm.