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Developer Q&A on Discord [Part 1]

Link to Part 2
Question: Is there a reason the "CV spots only for himself" mechanic that was tested in a closed environment didn't go through? [...]
Question: Is there any Interest in balancing CVs? (Nerf Rocket Planes, Buff AA-Skills/Basic AA, Only Minimap position Spotting, No respawning Plane/ re-spawning AA mounts)
Question: Has WG considered implementing some kind of radar-like mechanic for air spotting (with some kind of delay)?
Sub_Octavian: Hey guys! As there are quite a lot of repeated questions, we will be either skipping some of them, or bringing them together in one reply (as I did above) or addressing them in parts. Anyways, let's start!
Of course there is a reason. While we all hoped that the idea with minimap spotting only would work, it turned out to be a mess. Sure, for a very advanced player having a big exception in how spotting works may be fine, but generally speaking, the change introduced a lot of this type of “minimap only” detection to the game – and it felt very weird and counter intuitive for the major part of battle participants. Not for the CV or for its target, but for everyone else. A lot of minimap icons you can hardly act on, strange views of a CV attacking “the water”, and many other side effects were too bad to give this idea a further go. As for the radar-like mechanics, while researching it, we realized that this is a pretty big complication with a very negligible effect, so it was canceled as well.
Right now, regarding CV, we work in two directions: fine tuning and mechanical changes. Our goal is not to nerf CV class to the ground, because objectively they don’t overperform, but to make their interaction with other ships more comfortable for these ships, while keeping overall balance. As you may have noticed, we’ve been adjusting planes’ visibility range steadily and addressing some other specs individually, and will continue to do so as long as there is room for it.
Speaking of mechanical changes, as always, they are much more risky and should be approached carefully, but in the end, they can yield great results. And we did not give up. After we decided to cancel the “minimap spotting” idea, we’ve designed another concept meant to make CV spotting feel better to interact with. This concept is being worked on, and when it’s ready, we will probably push it for closed testing, and hopefully, it will work better than the previous one. At this point, that’s all I can share, and thank you for this questions. I realize that it may seem that we’ve settled on the current state of CV, but that’s not true. We know that many of you guys believe that it can be done better, and while there is no need for emergency changes, we will certainly do our best to improve the existing gameplay and class interactions.
Question: Why are you implementing subs, before working out the problems with cvs and aa?
Sub_Octavian: Because the development of our game (and most other games) does not work as a single build line. We have different people with different skill sets organized in dozens of teams. I.e. I can't take 3D art team which makes submarine models, FX artists who create underwater immersion and, say, a UI programmer who prototypes interface for subs, and ask them to participate in CV balancing. Or I can, but I doubt anyone will be satisfied with the results.
Question: Will the assistance for teammates in the game be encouraged like WoT now? WoT has figured a meachanic that works somewhat good and fair for team assistance and I think similar work can also be done in WoWs. [...]
Sub_Octavian: While WoT is a fantastic game, it's still a separate game, and it works differently in many ways. I doubt we can always project a good ideas from one to the other. As you mentioned yourself, spotting, participating in capping, tanking, AA are already accounted into the battle rewards. And some other, harder to catch things - if they do lead to win, it's still reflected in the economy as the winning team gets the XP bonus. I think there may be some room for changes and improvements here, but generally speaking, the system works fine, and let's not overestimate the influence on players, too. Those who want to play "solo" will have all chances to play solo, as shown by dozens online games out there.
As for your particular example - in post battle rewards, we take relative, not absolute damage into account. Which means that the economy cares about %of ship HP destroyed, not about the actual numbers. And in this case, to be fair, I dont think if a player destroyed, say, 200% of enemy BBs HP (with heals taken into account, by the way), he was useless and did not contribute. He may have had them under pressure, preventing their push or distracting them from damage dealing.
Question: WG often say that players on reddit/discord/forums are minority and that's why their negative feedback about CV is biased and gets ignored. If that's the case why don't you make in-game survey that asks the entire player base if they enjoy playing against CVs or not? That would be better than using spreadsheets to determine if players are having fun or not against CVs.
Sub_Octavian: Uh what? That was a pretty...big misquote, if I may say so. Let's get it clear:
1. Players on reddit, discord and forums are indeed mathematically minority, compared to our whole audience, which plays the game and does not communicate with us actively.
2. That does not mean that they are to be ignored, because:
2.1. We do not ignore anybody.
2.2. These socially active players are often also very active in game, naturally.
2.3. Most of them care about the game, and over the years, they have driven a lot of good stuff which we eventually implemented to the game: UI mods, balance changes, etc.
3. We do in game surveys, email surveys, exit polls (when the player decided to stop playing and/or deletes the game) all the time, and we constantly dive into this big data.
Surprisingly (no), there is no sense from any point of view, including business, to make the gameplay less enjoyable. If we had any evidence that the current CV affect players retention, new players churn, activity, survey replies or anything that we can reliably measure and attribute, we would have taken emergency measures. World of Warships is a work of life for many of us, and nobody would want to hurt the playerbase (and thus, the game).
However, there are things that cannot be attributed to surveys and stats only. We fully realize that if our active audience often brings up something (in this case, playing against CV in various aspects), it's not to be disregarded. We try to validate and consider what we hear, and also act on this - even if it's not "data-driven". This is why we're working on new CV spotting mechanic and doing fine tuning (I've covered this above in my first reply). If we did not care, did not listen, did not trust your impressions, we would not do anything like this and just moved on. Which is not the case.
My fair TLDR you can hate me for:
Is CV class currently a big issue for the health and state of the game?
No.
Does CV class has room to be better in terms of interaction with other classes?
Yes.
Will there be changes and experiments to make it happen?
Yes.
Question: Can you rework Manual Secondaries a little bit? [...]
Sub_Octavian: First of all, as a secondaries fan myself, I salute you for your question, and your desperate attempt (which I support deep in my heart) to make secondaries THE main source of damage, and German BB THE only relevant ships in the game. No, seriously, I like it and I'm with you. From a little less subjective PoV, though, current secondaries when specced on a ship optimal for them (KM BB and Massa) do very well. The skill has a fair trade off, it's pretty specialized, but it does the job. You either don't have to pay attention to the secondaries' target, or you do, and get a very considerable accuracy boost.
I think (and hope, personally) there may be a window of opportunity in future, where we could address Manual Secondaries (and maybe some other skills), and see if it can be updated. I'm talking about the subs. If subs testing goes well, at some point we will introduce them into the game, and will have to adjust overall commander skill set to accommodate the new class. It will be a good time to update the whole thing to allow more variety and interesting builds on each class. As you can guess, it's not happening soon, but to be honest, at the moment I don't see the need to rush it.
Question: After you guys rework the Legendary Upgrades, will they become pay2win? As in encouraging Turbo-whales to skip re-grinds buying doubloons to convert FXP.
Sub_Octavian: No. Unique Upgrades will remain "sidegrades". We will be adding new ones for the ships that miss them. We will probably be buffing those less popular and weaker, and nerfing those that became too popular and too strong. Our goal is to keep them interesting, desirable, but optional - same as other Bureau content. Actually, we will be sharing the WIP design in Devblog in a week or two, so stay tuned for more info.
Question: Can we get Missiles on Småland and on the Soviet DDs, and just make them target CVs?
Sub_Octavian: Sure, but Småland missile hits will grant the target a free IKEA coupon, while the Soviet missile hits will turn the CV friendly (because it's OUR now, in a true communist way). Why did this question got so many reactions in the first place?
Question: To all WG employees: How many of you actively play the game, and how many of you have stats that are considered to be "good"? Do, the ones who play wows, share the feelings of the community?
Sub_Octavian: If a person works in design or gameplay related area, or works with the community, there is like, 99,9% chance they actively play the game. Some do it for fun already, but in many cases it's also a baseline requirement, including PTS participation. In other cases there are no requirements, but it's the willingness to know the product inside out.
Lawyers? Infrastructure engineers? Accountants? HR? These guys are not required and not expected to play (even though our studio lawyer plays daily) .
Tbh we don't normally hide, our stats are open, and many of us can be found in WG clans on the respective server. Last time I checked, we had a perfectly natural slice of the playerbase - we've had unicorn-like players, and we had filthy casuals.
As for the opinions - oof, we do argue a lot. Each important decision usually involves quite a few...let's say..passionate people, and these moments of debates are a lot of fun (if you survive). But we're also a team, this is why you don't hear me rambling about making secondary builds dominant or @Crysantos [EU] yelling to delete Smolensk, even if we personally prefer that. Once everything is discussed, validated, and the decision has been made, we work on implementing this decision in the best possible way (unless its reconsidered or we screw up, which of course happens). I think it's pretty obvious, and those of you who consider themselves working in good environment/teams, no matter where exactly, can relate to this approach.
Question: Why are they called Clans and not Fleets... or an Armada... or even a Navy? Eve Online has Corporations, Guild Wars has Guilds... it seems very strange to be something unrelated to nautical groups.
Sub_Octavian: It's a very interesting question, because we actually discussed the naming for all new features, a lot. Simply put there is always a choice between a more "thematic" name and more "gamer-friendly" name. Both ways have pros and cons. Thematic names make the game richer in lore and in our case make it feel more 'naval'. But sometimes it hurts player experience, because not only naval enthusiasts play World of Warships, and in the end, we also think that feature name should ideally give you a solid idea of what it does, not just be stylistically interesting.
I don't think we've been super consistent in our namings over the year, but we try to keep the balance. Clan is a very common game term. On the other hand, we don't call a heal 'heal' and instead call it Repair party (even tho A LOT of players actually call it heal). So, as you can see, there is no solid answer here. We just try to address each name individually and evaluate how thematic it can be while still having some naval flavor.
Question: Are there any plans on deleting submarines?
Sub_Octavian: Look, I once made a mistake saying there are no plans on adding submarines. I'm not going to repeat it. So, as of now, we currently do not plan to delete submarines from the game.
Question: Can we have Agir secondaries back? They were the only thing making the ship unique and worth to get. Now it is just weak version of Alaska.
shonai: We were really thinking about the ship, her concept and strong/weak sides. Many of devs were also interested in secondaries-based brawler supercruiser. But we have to consider, that despite any gimmicks, the ship should be balanced in terms of its capabilities and combat influence. (So, that's why there was a minor nerf to secondaries reload speed before changing the concept - the total damage was a bit over the top). Also there are design (project's) limitations. We can't make the turret turning angles much better, if there is a superstructure blocking it, for example. Ägir had a potential for close combat fighting, but regrettably, the ship couldn't meet all the requirements from the technical parameters PoV to become a secondaries cruiser. Even with all the toolkit she has like angled armor, hydro, 32 mm pen on secondaries, torps and pretty good AP shells.
Though Ägir now is tested with main caliber guns as the main source of damage, she still maintains good close combat capabilities in comparison with other supercruisers. And we do not completely trash the idea of secondaries cruiser of course. This concept didn't work out with Ägir, but it doesn't mean, it won't be tried with other ship.
Question: How do you plan to reduce the workload on dd's, a class that will be under threat from radar, CV, and submarine spotting, while still being the main ships required to capture areas, spot the enemy team reliably, and prevent enemy pushes, and in many teams the only ships that can counter submarines?
shonai: As Sub_Octavian already mentioned, there are some ideas regarding AA and spotting, which could help with the current state of DDs gameplay.
As for the submarines - please, remember that they are still in test, and there will be future changes. Because of the short time between Public Test and release of the update, there won't be much changes before 0.9.4. However, an event in 0.9.4 doesn't mean that we didn't hear feedback and subs will be pushed in the current state. There are many things that are currently discussed and prototyped. We do not want to put all the anti-sub warfare only on DDs/CLs shoulders, but exact implementation of this is under design. So, overall, we don't think that there will be a huge overload for destroyers.
Sub_Octavian: To add to this: In case you wonder, no mater how many ideas we currently have, with the incoming 0.9.4 event we can only do minor adjustments - we can't dramatically change game mechanics on PTS, as it bears huge technical risks for the update. So the work will be parallel - we will be further testing the current subs event version on live AND working on new subs ideas (while having more feedback from live server) for the next testing stages. This is how iterations work. I've noticed a lot of people don't understand it and think that this process is always sequential - well, that's not the case. When you want some big mechanical changes, you better have like 2-3 months minimal for design, implementation, integration and testing.
That's why it's an event - learning from CV rework we aim to do all major adjustments without changing the main game for everyone, while still having a lot of participatns (hence it's on live server).
Question: Is there gonna be a real implementation of the replay system where you can have multiple players PoVs, free camera, the ability to speed up or the slow down the replay and the post battles results?
EDIT: the ability to lunch replays from the game client and not having to exit and lunch the replay separately.
Vessery: Thanks for your question. We know that this is an old request from our community (and especially from our video team)
For this year we have only a minor plan to improve rewind control, and maybe next year you can expect more serious changes, but I can't give you a 100% guarantee here.
Question: Is there any plan to rework the Reporting system? (It is abusable AF, chat-bans are delivered even if nothing was written in the chat).
Vessery: For now we don't have any plans to rework the Reporting System. The system should already take into account the players activity in a chat and, if he didn't write anything, he shouldn't get chatban.
If the system is not working correctly, we will check and fix it. We've already started investigations in this direction. Thank you for your report.
Question: What is the reason that players who used bot programs in random battles ONLY banned for 7 days? [...]
Vessery: We appreciate your concerns about players with a passive game-style. We're continuously monitoring accounts with low battle performance and want to remind about game rules and point: Inappropriate conduct in game / Fair play principles. The following actions (and similar actions) are prohibited in-game: 5.08. Repetitive and excessive passive play.
Illigal mods and detect system from Devs Side always in continiously confrontation. It's looks like Arms Race with continuous improvement of systems. But in the end, endurance wins. We've been improving our systems steadily, issuing ban waves, and right now, the usage of prohibited mods in the game is extremely low, and nearly impossible. The progress since we started our systematic actions has been fantastic. But of course we need to stay vigilant and keep up this work.
Question: Is there any reason to strengthen the NDA of ST and CC? Most people think it was used to subdue bad public opinion. Please explain this. We need a video of what the average shells variance is like for a live test ship and what it actually looks like. (In other words, lower the level of NDA matters).
Why are CC's not allowed to speak about the negatives about a ship and if it's worth a purchase?
Sub_Octavian: CC are allowed to speak whatever they want, apart from direct personal insults, hate speech and some other really nasty things (indicated openly in our CC Program rules you can read on our website yourself).
CC are also given all the benefits and resources to create their fair and honest reviews of our work, including ships. Our CC always freely praise or criticize, commend or bash our ships as they see fit, and it did not influence their standing in CC Program, or their benefits they have. We of course reserve the right to stop working with CC who, like, hate everything we do, but that does not influence their ability to say what they want. It's only a matter of partner relations (aka I am not sure I want the company's resources to be used this way). Btw, I don't remember a single precedent within CCTP where we used this right.
With the recent rules update, CC have embargo lift some days before the ship is released (not months before, when it's far from being ready). It means that CC still get to test the ship for the whole production test timeline, but they are allowed to make public content on it when it's nearly ready or ready. We believe it's the best way to ensure that the information on the ships will be reliable and actually corresponding to what the players will experience in the game. Especially given how much content is being worked on simultaneously.
Question: Is there going to be a fix regarding the desync issues in EU?
FrostVortex: We are aware of the "desync" issue which may sometimes cause shells to miss their target. For now, we are collecting replays and other information and investigating the problem. We assure you that we will deliver the fix for the problem as soon as possible. There is a similar situation when bombs land faster than the damage is dealt. As for this issue, we already have the solution, but we need some time to proper prepare it for delivery to production environment. We would like to apologize for the situation and all the inconvenience caused.
Good luck, and fair seas!
Question: Is it possible to get some quality of life improvement for the training room such as the ability to manage commanders, modules, consumables, flags without leaving the room and the ability to put multiple bots at the time and not just one by one?
FrostVortex: We have received many questions concerning the training room. We'd like to assure you that currently there are plans to improve adding bots in the training room by saving the last preset and making adding multiple bots faster. Please, stay tuned for further information!
Question: What is the status of some game modes that were being prototyped some time ago, such as Breakthrough or Convoy escort, and will we see either of those in random battles one day?
FrostVortex: Currently we have no plans concerning "Breakthrough" and "Convoys" game modes, because we have other tasks of a higher priority, so there is no time for now to implement these modes. Nevertheless, test results of these modes were quite satisfactory which means at some moment we can possibly comeback to them. In case some information appears, we'll share it with you as soon as possible!
Question: Will night maps ever come?
FrostVortex: For now we do not have any plans for this feature. Night maps require implementation of night battles. We've already tested the functionality of night battles in the "Cherry Blossom" Operation. It was similar to the weather events currently present in the game which reduce the spotting range of ships. Their plus side is that they are active for a limited amount of time and act on a certain area of the map, thus adding variability in the gameplay. Night battle mechanics, on the contrary, affects the whole map, is completely devoid of the advantages of local weather effects and has way too much effect on the game process. Thus we've decided to put night battles in the backlog for now. However, we do not rule out the possibility to return to night battles and maps some time in the future.
Question: Will it ever be possible to change the order of consumables?
FrostVortex: We'd like to assure you that we are aware of this request and, what is more, we have it in plans for this year.
Question: When will PvE mode and PvE player get attention again?
FrostVortex: Currently we have no plans concerning PvE modes. Of course, we value these modes and players who like them, and we haven't completely refused to work on PvE modes. For now, however, we are more concentrated on working with PvP, improving it, implementing various new features and conducting experiments in this field. Of course we do not mind to improve PvE modes and make them more attractive, but, unfortunately, we can't simultaneously pay as much attention to them as to PvP modes for now.
Question: Remember the neato destructible ice physics you guys teased? I do. And what ever happened to all the exotic gameplay modes that were "tested" during events like April Fools, Halloween and the rather non-specific Rogue Wave event that didn't really coincide with a holiday?
Why do you keep teasing new and interesting things only to never mention them again and instead bring us new and exciting ways to hate you?
FrostVortex: First of all, some of the game modes are appearing in the game each year, like, for example, Halloween modes, so they do not disappear completely. Secondly, bringing back a mode into the game is rather complicated and time-consuming. Even if the temporary mode looks as if its absolutely ready to appear in the game at a regular basis, it may not be like that. Keeping such modes in the game for a long time is hard because the game is constantly changing, improving and updating, which takes a lot of time and effort. So there is no time to support temporary modes, because, when everything is in progress, temporary functionalities which do not progress, will also require adjustments and maintenance.
However, we do not forget about the unique modes we were implementing. Apart from being fun for players, they serve as a testing platform for possible future implementations on a permanent basis. Thus, we do not exclude the possibility to add a mode which would take into account all the positive experience we've received from temporary game modes we introduced to you.
As for destructible ice physics, the feature looked very interesting and was warmly welcomed by the players. We've conducted several tests, and the feature looked pretty valid. However, the cost of its implementation was rather high, and its influence on the game process as well as the long-term enjoyment players will get out of this feature, on the contrary, were very small, thus this feature is of low priority for now
Question: Is WG ever going to bring back the odd tier CVs to improve CV match making. I really miss historically significant CVs like the Essex and Soryu.
FrostVortex: Of course, we value historically significant ships, including the ones you've mentioned, and we do not rule out the possibility to return them someday. However, there are no plans to return odd-tier CVs. Maybe in the future they will return this or that way on even numbered tiers.
Besides, implementing odd-tier CVs will not improve the matchmaking. On the contrary, it may possibly get worse. Now carriers always get into battle symmetrically, so if 20 people queue up with different aircraft carriers, each at a different tier between 4 and 10, then will be standing in 4 different queues. If odd tier CVs became available, then the number of queues would increase to 7, which means that it would take more time to get into the battle. Waiting times will increase, while the number of balanced battles will decrease.
Question: Any progress on dynamically changing maps (aka melting Iceberg concept)?
FrostVortex: We have conducted several tests concerning destructible icebergs. The feature itself was looking pretty good and was working as planned. However, the cost of its implementation was very high, unlike the impact on the game process, which was rather small, as well as the feature's long-term enjoyment potential. At first players would be very pleased with this mechanics, but it could become soon forgotten due to almost no impact on the game. Thus, this feature is of low priority for now.
Question: Any plans to add an Armory coupon for special commanders?
shonai: Initially commanders price was calculated without considering the existence of coupons for them. If there was a planned coupon for commanders, then the price should be a bit higher to take that into consideration. At the moment we don't have plans for this coupon.
Question: Should implement a new badge for Kill assists, cause it feels kinda lame that you do 80% of the damage on a ship someone grabs your kill and you get no real credit for it
shonai: We have some similar ideas about badges/achievements for various actions, but they are in backlog now.
Question: Ranked rework when? Current system is not great to put it simply and would be really nice to see an improvement. Also increase in spotting damage XP rewards or a potential rework in how damage and spotting XP rewards would also be nice if possible.
shonai: There are some ideas and thoughts on how to make Ranked better as a whole. We constantly collect feedback on this battle type and we hope to get our hands on this feature. However it should be noted, that if we're talking about some huge improvements for Ranked, this won't be limited with battle economy changes.
Question: Is it possible to change the map pinging system: 1-to have division pings only. 2-to start pinging before the games starts in team oriented modes such as clan battles. 3-the ability to ping a point and not a whole square.
shonai: There are some plans for minimap changes, but at the moment there are some other UI/UX things we are working on, so there are no details about minimap that could be shared ATM.
Question: Can you remove the 0 points = autoloss rule? Some matches are ending too fast recently.
shonai: The loss for reaching 0 points is in place for a reason - it prevents a situation when the team has obviously won the game, but still has 1-2 enemies to take down. And this may lead to several minutes of hunting an enemy without any shots made. This situation is not enjoyable in most cases.
And though this rule may sometimes lead to games concluding too fast (e.g. when one team loses half of the ships and other team remains intact), it still saves players from having a weird lategame.
These are all the answers up to 15:00 UTC. If the devs post more, someone is welcome to pick up the thread and continue the transcription. o7
submitted by torino2dc to WorldOfWarships

First Contact - TOTAL WAR - 263 (The Great Herd)

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Most Senior High Executive Permanent Most High Executor in Command Stu'ukmo'o sat as his lavishly decorated desk, staring at the hologram that was projected above his desk. It was a simple one, one that he had glanced at now and then without really caring that much for all of his three hundred years of life. A great field of stars, taking up the majority of the base of the galactic spur, all Lanaktallan controlled worlds. Farming worlds, manufacturing worlds, herd worlds, defensive worlds.
He watched as it fast forwarded through various parts of the Lanaktallans hundred million years of history. Different races rose up, usually toward the wasteland of the gulf between the arm and the spur, less frequently in the Great Gulf in the middle of the spur, and occassionally from one of the few planets outside of Lanaktallan control and supervision.
Every time the worst any enemy had done was destroy the ecosystem of a planet, perhaps even glassed it, and maybe taken a few dozen systems. The Great Herd had never been threatened, had slowly spread out as the slowly growing, carefully curated, population slowly expanded to different planets. Even vigorous and energetic species had been gentled and, through the use of various techniques, convinced to draw back to only a few systems. Usually the species thought that it was their own idea, their own race slowly dwindling, that resulted in them slowly retreating to their home system and awaiting either recycling by the Great Collectors or slow extinction.
The map was dormant for nearly a million years, only the fast expansion of a few races that were repressed almost before they could take more than a handful of systems that appeared as brief sparks on the map.
Then came the time to test the edges of the Great Gulf, to examine whether or not there were new species to worry about and to see if the ancient machines of death and destruction still lived. It was nothing new, something done every thousand generations.
The map suddenly slowed.
A blip here, a sparkle there. He slowed the map, looking at the icons.
TERRAN MARTIAL LAW kept appearing.
SYSTEM OWNERSHIP IN DISPUTE appeared on others.
Stu'ukmo'o knew that Lanaktallan corporations had screamed that the Terrans needed to turn over the systems and pay for all the damage caused by fighting the Precursors.
One system in particular caught his eye. Owned by the Kistmet Corporation, the Precursors had not only been dealt a severe defeat, but the Terrans had convinced neo-sapients to fight next to them, had led the combined forces to victory over the Precursors.
There, that was the start of it all, he mused. He examined the data.
A known criminal of such power and reach that he was forced to use the Terran language to describe him: Mobster. Lah Coastal Nostril.
A criminal that became a folk hero in Terran fictional historical dramatizations.
Stu'ukmo'o opened up a window and examined a report from the Executor Progranda Ministry bemoaning the effectiveness of the Terran propaganda machine. The EPM couldn't explain how a 'dramatization' what was 'based' on true events managed to get the true word out and be so beloved by those who partook of the media.
One picture popped up in the window of a Lanaktallan with a single burning cyber-eye wearing a warmech control helmet. The text said: "Nobody cared who I was before I drove the mech" and even as Stu'ukmo'o watched it was shared ten thousand times.
Stu'ukmo'o had carefully researched that image, that propaganda memetic warfare image. It obliquely referred to a fictional story that had been told and told and retold over thousands of years.
"The Tragedy of Darth Bane and the Algol Collapse" the most recent one was called.
Stu'ukmo'o watched the dramatization and nodded along. Yes, yes, very exciting. Full of violent action, explosions, tragedy, drama, emotional content. Darth Bane was the bad guy, but also the central character, but also had motives that even Stu'ukmo'o could empathize with.
He just wanted to make his world a better place, return control of the star system to the people rather than the tyranny of the Jedi Council of the Children of Flying Mammal Man. He perished, undone by his own hubris, by the infamous Warborg of Purity, after an exhilarating vehicle chase that culminated in a laser sword battle on top of a burning bridge during a thunder storm where Darth Bane plunged into the icy ammonia river and vanished.
Stu'ukmo'o also paid attention to something his peers and subordinates rarely examined. The long part after the ending.
The credits.
He found that nearly thirteen thousand beings and two hundred corporations worked on the fictional narrative. The fiction had taken six years of production and Stu'ukmo'o opened a window to do quick calculations. He weighed the resources used, the manpower, then weighed it against how much profit the movie made for the studio and the corporations, how much it made for the viewing corporations, how much it made in products, then sat back and nodded.
It created more wealth than the value of the resources it had consumed.
Shaking his head, Stu'ukmo'o went back to watching the star systems change color.
Unlike many others, he had access to exactly what had happened on those worlds. The routing of the Kistimet Corporation, the fact that the Executors and the Military were destroyed by the Precursors at every engagement.
He injected a mood stabilizer and opened four windows. The first was a group of neo-sapients led by Lanaktallan Overseers against Precursors. They broke under fire, most of them dying as they fled in a panic. The second was Lanaktallan against the Precursors. Most of the force died from the Precursor's psychic assault, the rest were routed and slaughtered.
Stu'ukmo'o tabbed up another mood stabilizer and looked at the third window.
"YOUR FAMILIES ARE BEHIND US! JOIN ME TO FIGHT! NOT ONE STEP BACK! I FIGHT FOR YOUR FAMILIES, CAN YOU DO ANY LESS?" a Terran roared out, standing up in front of the neo-sapients huddled in the protections. Two lasers and a kinetic round bounced off the Terran's body armor. "SMASH THESE METAL MOTHER FUCKERS INTO JUNK!" the Terran bellowed, her eyes a bright furious red who's glow completely obscured his eye sockets.
According to every other video the neo-sapients should have started screaming and panicking, fleeing the battlefield.
Instead first one, then another, then like a dam breaking, the rest joined in firing back at the Precursors. They all lifted their voices shrieking out a single word.
"JAWNCONNOR!"
He watched neo-sapients shrug off wounds that killed them in other recordings, snarling and spitting and yowling and fighting.
The fact that the helmets all had psychic protection put to rest the suggestion by Stu'ukmo'o's peers that the Terrans were using psychic abilities to make the neo-sapients fight.
Video after video after report after witness statement all agreed, a single Terran leading a thousand neo-sapients could turn a battle.
In the one he watched, the Terran was killed by a tank round that would have gutted a starship, the Terran staggering forward and firing until she collapsed.
The neo-sapients went berserk. Some of them resorting to beating on a Precursor machine with debris, screaming and spitting.
Examining the lexicon Stu'ukmo'o found it.
Valor. Bravery. Sacrifice. Duty.
The definitions were different, but close enough to the same to be understood.
They made Stu'ukmo'o shake his head and take another dose. Just reading the words seemed to fill Stu'ukmo'o with a burning desire to do more, to exercise the power of his office to benefit all people, not just his own. That it was his obligation rather than his privilege to have the power he possessed and wield it.
Human thought is infectious, like a disease, he thought to himself.
He tore himself away from watching those fascinating video clips and started the playback again.
Systems kept flashing icon for being attacked by Precursors. He watched the force levels of Lanaktallan forces, be they Corporate, Executor, Military, or even LawSec, dwindle rapidly.
Each time the icon for the Terrans appeared and it was the Precursors who began to dwindle. In over three-quarters of the systems the amount of local military forces increased.
Each time the Terrans prevailed.
Four times the Lanaktallan forces in the system defected to the Terrans. All four of them joined together to form "The Warsteel Herd" and were armed by the Terrans themselves.
The members of that paramilitary arm were all wanted by the Executors, all with death sentences now.
He looked at an image of the leader. Two legs and part of one flank replaced by cybernetics, two of his arms and his arm pectorals replaced by gleaming black chrome. The Lanaktallan wore body armor as if he had been poured into it and had in his mouth one of those smoke stick that the insectiod Treana'ad always possessed.
Sixteen systems.
That was how many systems the Warsteel Herd protected against any who would attempt to take away "The Right to Graze Free and Speak How You Will" from not only the Lanaktallan of the system but the neo-sapients who had all been released from debt bondage, many of them armed and trained by the Terrans.
A quick video showed a grouping of twelve Lanaktallan facing off against the Great Gatherers. Their warcry of "We are the warsteel hooves of liberty!" shook the camera as the dozen infantrymen destroyed one of the largest Great Gatherer organisms.
He ran a check of "Warsteel Hooves of Liberty" and found millions of results.
One animated graphic showed a Lanaktallan clad in Executor armor pushing his hooves on the face of a Lanaktallan foal, obviously laughing. Hooves shod with black warsteel entered the frame, kicking the Lanaktallan in the face hard enough the Lanaktallan flew off frame with the words "LIBERTY!" appearing. The two legs attached to the hooves had words on them. "FREEDOM" and "FIREPOWER."
A quick check showed that the memetic warfare propaganda image had a 83% engagement and approval rate among Lanaktallan who viewed it. In over two thousand systems just viewing the image was enough for summary execution.
That made Stu'ukmo'o shake his head. That was stupid. All that would ensure was that it was spread around even more.
Graffiti had been sprayed as deep as the Core Worlds of a black hoofshoe with wings made of overlapping blades on each side of the crescent, with the words "WE FIGHT IN YOUR NAME" arcing over the hoofshoe with "FREEDOM" and "LIBERTY" underneath.
Then the annotation flashed up that the Great Gatherers had arrived in the Neo-Sapient Systems in the Outer Rim Worlds as well as the attempted assassination of the Terran diplomat stacked on top of the arrival of the First Wave in Terran Confederate Space.
More and more worlds began switching color.
Stu'ukmo'o nodded. This was to be expected. Each world would put a drain upon the Terran resources, straining their logistics chains, depleting their manpower, absorbing war material.
Projection lines were drawn for the maximum depth the Terran Confederacy would be able to conquer. There had been some estimations of deep strikes, but instead the Confederacy just made a steady advance. True, deep strikes had occurred, but always upon systems completely controlled by the Executor Council or automated factory systems.
Those systems had been left denuded of everything but a star. Even the Oort Cloud had been stripped away.
Stu'ukmo'o opened a window and examined what a probe had found in a system completely destroyed months ago. It was only a few weeks old, the probe moving through jumpspace in a region mathematically proven to be inhospitable to living beings to return quickly with the data.
The system was populated with planets. Gas giants, solid worlds, and three worlds in the Green/Yellow Zone for habitation. The probe had gotten a look at the fourth planet, which sat in the middle of the Green Zone, doing a fast scan and an atmospheric cruise to survey the world and the life.
He paused the scan's results and opened up yet another window. He ran a search on the data. While the search ran he got up and trotted to the window, looking out at the Central Unified Council City beyond.
He had a suspicion.
The data he was searching was millions of years old. The Terrans had captured so many facilities it was logically assumed they had managed to capture a datacore possessing system surveys for the last hundred million years, managing to break the intimidating Executor eight-bit encryption and the eight digit password.
His system beeped and he pulled himself away from staring at the skyline, trotting back behind his desk and settling down on the couch.
The system had been discovered seventy million years ago, then converted to a slow extraction systems, then to a infrastructure system, then to a military system.
The system had been reverted to the same type of life forms as the original survey, the same planetary configuration even though the two gas giants and the asteroid belt had been mined away.
It was as if the Lanaktallan had never discovered it.
He checked the data against nearly twenty other systems.
All of them returned the same results.
The life forms, planetary configuration, atmospheres, all matched the initial survey the Lanaktallan had performed before converting the system to little more than a military base.
As if the Lanaktallan had never existed.
The sight made his stomachs clench and he felt vaguely ill.
His office had trillions of images mined off of the Terran's SolNet before it had been supposedly disconnected from GalNet, although Stu'ukmo'o knew that over a dozen grey nodes existed to access the Terran's interconnected computer systems.
He ran a search for matter creation.
There was a picture of a Lanaktallan saying "You cannot create matter. Entropy will take it all!" and a Terran laughing and spilling star systems from his hands saying "Singers in the Darkness sing LALALALA!"
A search for Singers in the Darkness returned almost nothing, except for a few images here and there.
One had a caption.
"Watched some Singers in the Darkness finish their chorus. Awe inspiring! Sing against the Darkness!" with emojis. There were two pictures. One of a nearly depleted red giant with no planets that weren't scorched and burnt. The next was an energetic yellow star, eleven planets, thirty moons, a gas giant with a ring around it, and three worlds lush with life.
Part of him insisted the two images were of two different systems. He ran a stellar location check.
They were both the same system according to star positions.
Could it be a fake? Absolutely.
But it was in with 'vacation pictures' which showed a young bipedal saurian with gray skin flexing an impressive amount of muscles in different locations, gazing adoringly at large fat birds with shiny brown feathers, and holding intoxicants while surrounded by friends.
There would be no need for an adolescent Rigellian to put up a fake picture to impress her friends.
Stu'ukmo'o knew that an analyst must consider the psychology of a subject.
Unlike the huge vast unending amount of analysts available to the Executors, he felt he knew something about the Terrans that the others did not.
They did not think like a gentled species, so trying to assume motivations and desires based on the beings of the Unified Civilized Council was a waste of time.
He opened another window and brought up the report by a field agent who had spent over a year embedded with the Terran military unit "First Cavalry Division", who had pretended to be a mental defective with the intellect of a child.
He read the report three times.
Again.
He unpaused the system display of the Unified Civilized Council territory and watched.
The Terrans hit the outer systems, the pushed inward even as they moved to the sides. New fleet identifiers popped up in system after system. Three months after the Great Gatherers landed on the first planets in neo-sapient territory, the Terrans had completely taken all the systems on the edge of the Great Herd's territory.
Instead of spearing for the central core, like every other race, the Terrans concentrated on the neo-sapient worlds, wresting them from the control of corporations and the Lanaktallan Councils.
Then they started pushing inward, sliding around the 'bottom', 'top', and 'sides' of Lanaktallan space even further.
Six months ago the Terrans managed to completely envelope the Unified Civilized Council worlds, strip away all the species but the neo-sapients of the Core Worlds and the Inner Systems.
Three months ago and they had taken over a quarter of the Council's territory.
A month ago, they had taken a third of the Council's territory and all of the neo-sapient territory outside of the Inner Systems.
Stu'ukmo'o noted that most of his peers thought that now the Terrans would have to slow down, that their supply chains had to be overburdened.
Stu'ukmo'o saw the same thing he had seen when it had dawned on him and horrified him.
The Terrans were squeezing the Great Herd. They could keep advancing at the same rate because the front line, the amount of planets they were actually taking, had decreased as the radius around the Central Herd Systems decreased.
They were on the edge of all the Inner Systems. Not just a spearhead driving toward the Central Herd Systems or the decoy of the Unified Civilized Council Systems. They were squeezing the entire system.
Now Herd Home had ceased sending food and materials to the Inner Systems.
He sighed and closed the images, bringing up other images. In one a Lanaktallan Military Most High was speaking, his tendrils drooping, his jowls just hanging, his eyes haunted.
Stu'ukmo'o turned up the volume.
"No, no, no. We didn't fight out way free. They didn't let us disengage at the twenty-percent mark. They destroyed all but 20%. They allowed us to leave and let us know it," the Most High was saying. "We'd jump to a new system and either they would be waiting for us or arrive right with us."
"Are you sure it wasn't Terran forces that had taken that system?" an offscreen voice asked.
"My scanner technicians know how to ID a drive system and profile," the Most High snapped, his tendrils curling with anger. "The exact same Terran commanders would appear on my screen to taunt me, to laugh at me, to let me know there was nowhere I could run that they could not find me."
The Most High paused.
"They even chased us in jumpspace, somehow broadcasting messages urging us to run and laughing at us," the Most High said after a moment. He closed all but his front facing eyes and shuddered. "It was horrible, and they take glee in it. They did terrible things to us. Horrible things."
"Such as?" the questioner asked.
The Most High shuddered. "One of their electronic warfare intelligences got aboard the ship. It was horrible."
Stu'ukmo'o touched the reference file and opened it up.
It showed the Most High, trembling from exhaustion, his crew displaying signs of long term stress. The bridge was damaged, many Lanaktallan were wounded, and the feeling of defeat and despair was strong enough that Stu'ukmo'o could feel it through the image.
"Ask the ship's VI why we dropped out here," the Most High ordered.
The ship's VI appeared in the bridge holodeck.
"He made me," the VI said. It looked like it was going to weep. "It... it made me."
"Who made you? Don't talk nonsense. You're the ship's..." the Most High started to say.
A holographic hand, much clearer and higher resolution, came out from behind the representation of the VI, the hand closing the VI's mouth. A Terran made of light stepped up behind the VI's representation.
"I did," it said. It plunged its hand into the VI and began ripping out chunks of code even as its jaws got larger and full of meat tearing teeth and began ripping at the hologram, which writhed and screamed like a living being in agony. The VI shattered and the bridge went dark. After a second the holotank came back on. The Terran's head was projected into the tank and it looked around. Its mouth was bloody and strings of code ran down its chin.
"I left your backup of him alone. Just, he'll know what I did to him, what I can do at any time to him. You'll need to reload him if you want to pilot this scrap-heap again, but he'll remember me and what I can do to him at any time," the Terran said, then dissolved into sparkled.
The scene had been horrifying but Stu'ukmo'o had looked at enough records of conflicts against the Terrans to not be surprised.
"They let us escape," the Most High said, and began weeping. "They let us escape."
Stu'ukmo'o closed the windows and opened back up the hologram of the systems.
The Inner Systems burned brightly, the color of the Unified Civilized Council and the Great Herd.
Stu'ukmo'o wondered for how much longer.
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submitted by Ralts_Bloodthorne to HFY