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Codex Review Escape Velocity Nova review

Saint_Proverbius

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Tags: Ambrosia Software; Escape Velocity Nova

Our in-house review of Escape Velocity Nova. I liked it.


For those who haven't heard of the franchise, imagine Elite, Privateer, or more recently, Freelancer. Now imagine those types of games with six major story arcs and factions to join. Imagine them with capital ships like destroyers and carriers you can purchase and use to troll around space. Imagine them using sharp, well animated 2D graphics. Imagine them with reputation tracking for each faction in the game. Imagine them with tracking pilot abilities and using that as the basis for gathering missions. Imagine dozens and dozens of outfit options for your ships, including marines to help you board ships, better scanners, engine improvements, the ability to add outfit or cargo space by converting one to the other, and much more. Sound good? Well, it is.​

Yup, that's part of the intro.
 

DarkUnderlord

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You know, I never really know whether to comment on an article in the news forum, or in the content forum, seeing as it appears in both. Anyway...

I really have to agree with the annoying interface issues. I've been playing the shareware version for the last 3 days and a whole lot of little annoying things have come to mind. Targetting, trading, licenses, ship's equipment, opening a save game, illegal items and a few other little things including some seemingly strange story-related things.

Actually, I'll stop there for now and detail them all out in a post in here later, with screenshots even!

The game is enjoyable though. My only major gripe being that combat is the only real option available to have some fun with. Trading is god-damned boring and just way too easy, mining is... yeah, as you said, and that only leaves you with the Mission BBS and blowing stuff up.

It has to be said that blowing stuff up (with a suped-up 30 million credit Manticore with all, and I do mean ALL the extras) is really kick-ass though. :)
 

Saint_Proverbius

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DarkUnderlord said:
I really have to agree with the annoying interface issues. I've been playing the shareware version for the last 3 days and a whole lot of little annoying things have come to mind. Targetting, trading, licenses, ship's equipment, opening a save game, illegal items and a few other little things including some seemingly strange story-related things.

I think a target list on the side would go a long, long way toward improving the game, really. Leave in the hotkeys, but adding that ship list on the side panel where that pointless graphic is would be damned handy for seeing things you might want to hunt and it'd also inform the player promptly when something entered the system.

I don't mind licenses one bit, mainly because you only have to buy that Exotic one for 100k credits and you're home free. Of course, if you don't give a flip what the Federation thinks, don't buy one at all. Only Federation worlds sell based on the license, and some of the best ships in the game are on Viking anyway. The only thing that'll tick off the Federation boys seems to be if you have a pirate fighter bay on your ship and no licenses.

I've never tried illegal items, but I like the fact they're there for those who don't mind the risk. I haven't used them yet, but if I was planning on being a pirate, I definitely would use them.

The game is enjoyable though. My only major gripe being that combat is the only real option available to have some fun with. Trading is god-damned boring and just way too easy, mining is... yeah, as you said, and that only leaves you with the Mission BBS and blowing stuff up.

Trading needs an upgrade, no doubt about it. If there were an auto-route feature on the map, that would help out. If there was a dynamic price system based on supply and demand as well as a trade computer which would fetch prices over a certain distance as well, that'd be great too.

Other things I'd love to see.. The game has helping out disabled ships, right? How about some kind of interstellar AAA service for broken down ships? With missions available via the BBS! Something like, A Starliner has broken down near New Ireland in Tautha. Take 10 tons of Equipment to it and transfer energy for 40,000 credits would be pretty nifty if you became a member. I'm sure you could make a plugin that did that, though. In fact, have later missions in the thing where if you're a member of Sigma as well as this repair guild, you'd get a contract to help out fixing old hypergates.

I'd love to see that Terraforming Corp play more of a role in the game. You can terraform a planet, or at least assist it being done with Nirvana, right? Think about being able to assist that company more later on, beyond the programmed missions and hauling colonists.
 

Spazmo

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EVN is definitely a game of unrealised potential. However, it's still really, really good, so I'll forgive it.
 

Vault Dweller

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I agree, the amount of things done right vs the amount of things that could have been better is huge. Not to mention how long it was since a decent space trader was released, and how limited Freelancer turned out to be in comparison.
 

Psilon

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Saint_Proverbius said:
Other things I'd love to see.. The game has helping out disabled ships, right? How about some kind of interstellar AAA service for broken down ships? With missions available via the BBS! Something like, A Starliner has broken down near New Ireland in Tautha. Take 10 tons of Equipment to it and transfer energy for 40,000 credits would be pretty nifty if you became a member.

Of course, the next logical question is "why can't I call for help?" Being able to send an SOS over subspace radio strikes me as slightly unbalancing. First, you don't have to buy solar panels in the early game any more. Second, being able to call in, say, a RAGE Gunboat or Aurora Cruiser for assistance is just a total copout when getting beaten up by pirates or enemy governments. If the rescue ship is unarmed, say a Sprite or Terrapin, then it's an invitation to piracy; either you steal a nice cargo ship or it gets away, sends in a reinforcement fleet, and then you get to steal more Destroyers and Carriers.

I guess the solution would be some kind of neutral "Bureau of Shipping" which everyone tries to protect, but which stays neutral itself.
 

Jed

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Anyone else having technical troubles with the demo? I downloaded it, installed, downloaded the hideous and much-hate Quicktime, but when I try to run it, it shows the Ambrosia screen, the loading screen, and then crashes to desktop.

I'm running XP...
 

Jed

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XJEDX said:
Anyone else having technical troubles with the demo? I downloaded it, installed, downloaded the hideous and much-hate Quicktime, but when I try to run it, it shows the Ambrosia screen, the loading screen, and then crashes to desktop.

I'm running XP...
Nevermind, I see it now...damned Quicktime.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Psilon said:
Of course, the next logical question is "why can't I call for help?" Being able to send an SOS over subspace radio strikes me as slightly unbalancing. First, you don't have to buy solar panels in the early game any more. Second, being able to call in, say, a RAGE Gunboat or Aurora Cruiser for assistance is just a total copout when getting beaten up by pirates or enemy governments. If the rescue ship is unarmed, say a Sprite or Terrapin, then it's an invitation to piracy; either you steal a nice cargo ship or it gets away, sends in a reinforcement fleet, and then you get to steal more Destroyers and Carriers.

Actually, that's one thing I forgot about in my review. I think you SHOULD be able to call out for an SOS. I've been disabled in sectors numerous times, just floating there to the point where I had to reload the game. In fact, I've never actually recovered from being disabled in a fight either because it typically happens in remote sectors.

The incentive to get a solar panel or other generator is simply because it's faster than waiting, and probably won't carry a fee with it.

Calling in something during a fight wouldn't work either, I'm talking about once you get disabled. Hell, you can't even send an escort off to go get anyone in the game to get help!
 

DarkUnderlord

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These are all the problematic little things that came to mind while playing EVN. Some of them are really trivial things, others are pretty damned annoying. Regardless, I just chucked them all in. Also, keep in mind that I've only being playing the game for about 4 days now, so if some of this is inaccurate, please tell me.


Opening a Pilot:
Starting with the most pedantic thing, I have an interesting experience when I use a different resolution other than what EVN plays in. Whenever you open a pilot, it changes back to your system resolution and brings up the open pilot dialogue box. It's more annoying than a problem, but watching my screen jump around and re-size itself isn't entertaining.

evn001.jpg

A re-jiggled screen (Example: 800 x 600 desktop resolution). If that can be prevented from happening, it would be a nice simple thing.


Pilot Nickname (Call Sign):
I have a Pilot 'nickname'. Apparently for no reason as no-one uses it, so I'm not to sure why I have one at all really. During conversation, in missions, when being addressed by ports, I've been called by my pilot name, rather than my nickname. Where is it actually used?


What System & Time?:
What system am I in currently? The only way to find out is to hit the 'm' key and bring up the map. Rather annoying. The system I'm in should be somewhere on the display, along with the current date. It's annoying when message buoy's pop-up so I don't get the date, so I have to hit 'p' to find out.


Manual:
I hope the rather brief manual that comes with the shareware version is replaced by a more verbose one as soon as I register. One that has extra things such as a contents page (otherwise known as an index). It could also include a note that some ships require licenses and a note on how to get one (still annoyed that I couldn't find them for a while).


They can use my name in dialogue:
They can use my name in dialogue, but if I've re-assigned my keyboard keys, they can't tell which key I've assigned to what. Instead, I get references to "that's 'm' if you're using the factory key layout". If I've re-assigned my keys, they should be able to pick it up in mission dialogue and say the "y" key or whatever I've re-assigned it to.


Fonts:
Font Size: I'm not friggin' blind, but I don't have perfect vision either. A larger font please. Some of the text is just too small, especially when it comes to descriptions. With all that room on screen, there's just no need to have such a small font. Up it about 2 points, to the same size as the font used in the ship information bar on the right of the screen.

Colour: Some of the font colours are damn hard to read. I bought an Enterprise from the Aurorans and my ship interface went red. That's nice, but the pale red used to indicate some of the things was simply too hard to read. The font colours should be clearly readable at ALL times, no matter what ship. The light greys are also problematic, especially the colour of the date in the top right in the 'i' screen.


Missions:
Destination: When I hit 'm' to bring up the map to see where a UN mission wants me to pick up a cargo, it'd be nice if both the cargo pick-up point AND the cargo drop-off point were marked. I don't see why they're not, as it just means I have to find the destination system manually anyway, which is what the green arrow is supposed to stop me from doing. In the map screen, it would also be nice if I could turn off the names of systems, even when I'm zoomed in close,as they get in the way quite a few times.


Information Layout: Why does this have to be a slab of text?

evn004.jpg


From: Auroran LP I, SPC-1421 system
To: Hearth, Homeland system
Shipment: 2 tons, Warrior Blades
Date: February 25th, 1184 NC

A layout like that would be nicer, and if it marked in colour what point I was up to, that'd be nice to. So if I've picked up the cargo and just have to deliver it, then the "To" line could be highlighted in a different colour or something. Also, as I said with the font, there's actually a date in the top right box in that image, but can you read it?


Outfitter Upgrades:
Scroll Bars: That thing needs some scroll bars. I played through for quite a while before noticing that some Outfitters have little buttons below them which show more equipment and lo-and-behold, there were the ship licenses I was searching so hard for (I'd previously wondered what the blank little black holes where for and suddenly noticed little arrows in them at a big port once). A scroll bar would be nice methinks, just on the right of all the boxes, rather than the arrows.

Tabs: Having everything for sale on one screen was a bit much I thought. The screen should have tabs that clearly split off items for sale. So weapons are under one tab, items are under another and perhaps pirated or illegal equipment is for sale under another tab.

Pirate/Illegal Upgrades: If these were clearly marked, it would be a lot nicer. At the moment, it's either in faint grey writing below the picture, or buried in a slab of text in the description. If it were say, marked with big red text "- Illegal -" up the top of the description, it'd be a lot easier to notice that the item I'm thinking about buying is going to make me an instant outlaw in every system across the galaxy (because absolutely everyone insists on enforcing that law for some reason).

Ship Status: Also, if my ship HAS illegal items on it that are likely to make Feds (and everyone else) attack me, I'd like to know a lot more clearly. Maybe something somewhere in the 'p' information screen that says "Ships Status: Illegal" or something.

Ship Info?: If I'm upgrading my ship, I'd like to be able to know what I've already got, so being able to hit 'p' in the outfitter would be nice, especially when I've just bought a ship and want to check it out more thoroughly.

Offload Illegal Items: If I have an illegal item on-board, I really should be able to have it dismantled at ANY port, not just the obscure port I happen to be lcky enough to find that allows me to sell it. If the Feds detect me, instead of attacking me outright becase of my pathetically weak EMP Torpedo's that have been banned, they should demand that I dock and have my tubes removed at the nearest port. They should escort me there and destroy me if I deviate. This would also make ship-to-ship conversation more interesting.

Prices: It'd be a bit more interesting if ports sold upgrades for varying prices. It's not really fun when every port sells upgrades for the same price. Make them vary. Make the rebels cost more, make the federation cost less, spice it up a bit so that if I want the best for my money, I have to shop around a litle.

Pathetic Missiles: Gravimetric missiles weigh 1 ton each, meaning I can't buy many of them and what damage do they cause? Piss all. Same with EMP Torpedos. If I'm wasting mass on missiles, please make it worth it. So far, I've found I'm better off with Raven Turrets and 300 raven missiles than EMP or Gravimetric missiles. You seem to need a lot of missiles to cause even a decent amount of damage against a small ship.

Drop Bear Repellant: Yes, that's funny. :) However, once I've found out what happens and I sell my can of it, every time I'm attacked, I still get the "but I was using the repellant" message.


Extra Information Overload:
This has to be the worst layout I've ever seen when it comes to displaying the items onboard my ship in any flight-related combat game ever. Check the screenshot below. Now tell me why that's not all nicely laid out in a table, with primary weapons up top, followed by secondary weapons, followed by other items and lastly, a list of all the illegal attachments I've added. In fact you'll notice that in the screenshot, the resale value of my ship is missing off the bottom, because there's simply too much information for that piddly little screen!

evn002.jpg

!WARNING! TOO MUCH INFORMATION IN A BAD LAYOUT !WARNING!

NOTE: Information overload also occurs in some ports. Port Kane has a description information that's so long, it can't fit in the tiny little display screen (that display screen should take up the whole screen to, rather than being so tiny). Give the description scroll bars/buttons!


Ship Licenses:
1) Don't put them in with normal outfitters equipment. Not only was it not until my second day (when I found the scroll down button on the outfitters) that I realised where ship licenses were, but it seems strange not only to buy them, but also that I can buy them so easily. To get some licenses, I should have to pass missions. To run a capital ship, I should have to get some academy training in flight lessons or something, or do a trade mission OR, as a last resort, bribe them. As it is, you may as well bump up the price of the ships and be done with it as it achieves the same effect, which is ultimately a slightly increased ship cost.

2) Perhaps limit the number of licences I can hold at any one time too. As it is, I usually get 20 Million in Polaris with a Cambrian and then buy a decent ship. To do that, I rock up at Tichel and spend 1 Million buying all the licenses, it's no big deal. Perhaps if I had a limit of one license at a time so that if I was a licensed trader, once I've passed a certain level of experience or something, I can buy a combat license. Then when I buy the combat license, my trading license is revoked? Actually, that's a crappy idea, but I think something of this nature needs to be added, to make licences important and more interesting.

3) Licenses should NOT be lised in with "extras" in the 'p' screen. They should be under their own screen. That list needs some cutting down as it is, and this would help.


Trading:
Spruce it up. Dead, dull boring trade routes that once discovered, can be milked for all eternity. In fact, it's quite possible to figure out mathematically the best trade route in the game and consistently run that route until you have mega-millions. Then spend all your money and run the route again! and again! and again!

There's a free online game I play (very rarely now-a-days) called TDZK. htp://www.tdzk.com It's a great open-space trade/combat massively multi-player RPG type thing. The trading in that is some of the best I've seen in a space-trade based game. For starters, the ports don't buy AND sell the same item (as in EVN), some will only sell, others will only buy. Also, instead of having set prices of low, medium or high, the price changes depending on the quantity of the goods there. So one port might have Luxury Goods for sale, but it will only have a few of them left, so as a result, the price is high. On the other-hand, another port might be selling Luxury Goods as well but it has a whole pile of them, so the price is very low.

As you buy and sell between ports however, the quantity changes and, as a result, so does the price. So you can only milk any trade route for so long before the prices just become too low (or too high, depending on whether you're buying or selling) and the route simply becomes either unprofitable, or the profit margins are so low that you may as well look elsewhere, so you leave to hunt out another trade route. In EVN, this could (should) be replicated, as running the same route for all eternity surely creates a shortage in one location and a surplus elsewhere. This would mean I can't find one trade route and keep using it, it means that new trade routes would have to be found, and that would eliminate a lot of the mechanical mindlessness of current trading.

You could also make it a bit more interesting by not allowing people to trade until they've bought a trade license that allows them to trade in the systems owned by certain factions. So you can't just get 2.5 Million and head of to Polaris and buy a Cambrian, you have to first docks somewhere to buy a license to enter the Polaris system, or under-take a mission.


Logbook:
An internal note system (a logbook the player can keep notes in) should be included so the player doesn't have to pen and paper trading routes down all the time. It would also be handy for things like where to buy ships, equipment and any other note you can think of including in it. Just a free form note-book that you can type stuff in.


Asteroid Mining:
Needs to be easier. I wanted to try it with a bigger and more manouverable ship, but got too bored doing it in the Asteroid Miner as it was. It should also be WAAAY more profitable so that I can at least feel my work is worth it. I also thought it would be nice if I could actually grab the asteroid with my claws and haul it back to a planet to sell there. Especially useful if I find a huge lump of gold floating about in space. Would also make those neat little claws that open and close actually do something... (I spent a fair while trying to 'claw' an asteroid before realising I had to shoot it and that the claws did nothing, except open when I was shooting). Even if I could grab a hold of it and shoot it apart then, sucking the materials straight into my cargo bay. That would save the current "shoot, manouvre, run, manouvre, material disappears" procedure.

Saint's idea of a thing to suck up the material would be good, I'd like one that sucks the asteroid a bit closer to me too, a traction beam so I don't have to chase after it. Of course, both of these items would come as standard equipment on the larger, faster, more manouverable Corporate Asteroid Mining Vessel (perhaps only available after getting in favour with an Asteroid Mining company).

Actually, in TDZK if you "resource" (which is what this is called, gathering raw materials instead of trading) you get more pilot experience, and as such, become better at combat (don't ask how, but it works quite well for the system they have). Something along those lines could make it a worth-while pass-time.


Random Missions:
The randomness of important missions was annoying. I have no choice but to keep docking at a certain port until I can get the mission that allows me to join whatever faction. It'd be nice if there was a way that I could approach them. Maybe request to join the United Traders when I next meet a ship of theirs in orbit, or ask a Federation Carrier if I can sign up to be part of the fleet. Allow me ways of CHOOSING who to join, or who I can try to join, rather than just that ONE bar in that ONE system when that ONE random number comes up.


Short-cut Keys, but no menu?:
As Saint already said, we have a nice useless graphic taking up space down the bottom right there. One thing missing from the game is icons that I can click on, to bring up menu options. Why do I have to press 'm' to bring up the map, why isn't there an icon for it as well? This is more for newbies, as when I was first playing, I just hit keys at random to get stuff to pop-up (this was before my manual reading session). Sure, players are more likely to use the shortcut keys, but that's once they know them. Starcraft has shortcuts too, but you still get nice icons to click on when you can't remember what key does what.


Escort Price:
Hire an Escort, sure. What price do they charge per day? It'd be nice to know what they charged per day BEFORE I brought them on-side.


Kills:
Where's the screen to view the number of kills I've made? By ship type, as well as another option by ownership. It'd be nice to know not only the total kills, but also the total number by ship type (Manticore, Shuttles, Heavy Shuttles, etc..) and also by faction (X number of Federation ships, Y number of Pirate ships and Z number of Polaris ships etc...).


Targetting:
1) Saint raised something which really pissed me off. I want keys that target:
Nearest enemy vessel.
Nearest friendly vessel.
Vessel(s) that is attacking me.
Nearest trading class vessel.
Nearest combat class vessel.
Biggest/Toughest vessel.
Smallest/Weakest vessel.

I have noticed that 'r' seems to target the nearest enemy vessel and 'alt-r' the nearest vessel (be it friendly or enemy). This isn't mentioned in the manual.

Most of these are from other flight sim type games I play and it makes it a whole lot easier to get (and aim for) what I want if I could choose any one of those commands to cycle through the targets on screen.

2) Play Descent: Freespace. What happens when the ship you've targetted goes off-screen? You get a little arrow on the edge of the screen pointing to it (it also changes size depending on how far away it is from you too), so that you know if you move your ship in that direction, your target will come into view. I'd like the same for EVN. A pathetic flashing pale-grey dot in my mini-map is not enough for me to figure out quickly, during combat, just where exactly my enemy has disappeared to.


Eject! Eject! Eject!:
This rather funny message displays every time I eject from my craft:

evn003.jpg

What's funny is I have 55 Million credits. So what's with the scratching? It would be nice if the message varied a bit, depending on the system. Perhaps I could be taken by pirates who kidnap me for a few months and demand tribute before releasing me, or I could end up taken in by a wealthy freighter who looks after me and helps me out. A bit of variety to spice it up a bit.


Attacking Planets:
If it weren't for Saint's mention about needing to be noted as a worthy combatant before you can demand tribute from a planet, I would never have known. Things like this should not only be in the manual, but they suck as well. If I have a flotilla of warships, I should damn well be able to take on a planet, ANY planet I want, and if I get destroyed, so be it. If they refuse tribute, I should still be able to attack them anyway. Instead, I get the laughable scenario of hostile planets attacking me with their planet based weapons, yet I am completely unable to fire back at them. I should be able to beat them into submission, regardless of any superficial 'rating'.


Bigger Systems:
One thing I found about the game was that zipping from one side of the galaxy to the other was no big hassle. There's not much distance between places if all you have to do is map a course and hit 'j' all the time. I'd personally like the systems to be larger. I want to have to physically travel across the system and use a jump-gate to get to the next system, rather than just entering a system which consists solely of one planet and hitting 'j' to get to the next one. It's too easy and at the moment, your ships personal manouvreability doesn't count for much, except in combat. I'd like more planets and ports within systems, so that the distance of space is a much bigger issue to deal with.


Control:
This may be a strange issue with my keyboard, rather than with the game, but I can hold down thrust, right and space-bar to fire as well as ctrl to launch some missiles. But I can't hold down Thrust, LEFT and space-bar to fire. ALl it does is lock my ship up moving forward and left, with me unable to fire. I can't say I've had a similar multiple control key issue such as this with other games, but I'll have to check.


Losing Money?:
I'm not quite sure what was going on, but I was running missions and had about 55 Million. Next time I checked, I had 49 Million. I don't recall buying anything other than a few missiles (IR and radar). It's likely I did buy something that made my money go, but I couldn't figure out what had happened at the time.


Unique Selling Point:
Apart from all of that, it is fun blowing stuff up. There aren't enough other things to do for me to buy it though. I had thought about it, but the only fun to be had is blowing stuff up and I can do that in a lot of other games I already have. Conquering or buying planets and owning them (not just tribute), building my own ports and establishing trade routes, exploring and discovering hitherto unknown jump-gates and areas of the galaxy with planets that I can claim, and establish with a population of people to work for me mining the surface, creating new trade routes I can setup freighters on, then defending my new patch of space from pirates and the Federation and anyone else who wants a piece. That's what I'd like. :) Something I can't get in other games. This game doesn't have a Unique Selling Point for me, beyond blowing stuff up and buying neat ships.
 

DarkUnderlord

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I was going to edit this into my post above, but there's no edit button!!?

Saint_Proverbius said:
The only thing that'll tick off the Federation boys seems to be if you have a pirate fighter bay on your ship and no licenses.
EMP Torpedo Tube. That pisses EVERYONE off. I find it funny that a Federation system openly sells it too. I mean, with all the feds right outside, that takes some pretty ballsy salesmen to do that. But when I first bought my Manticore with the EMP tube, everywhere I went, I was scanned and attacked. Polaris, Feds, Aurorans, you name it. Worse yet was that the EMP missiles sucked.

Saint_Proverbius said:
I've never tried illegal items, but I like the fact they're there for those who don't mind the risk. I haven't used them yet, but if I was planning on being a pirate, I definitely would use them.
Illigel items allow you to boost your stock piles up! it's true, I can have 200 IR missiles AND another 200 illigel IR missiles. That's 400 missiles!! I can even buy several illegal turrets and missile launchers above and beyond the limit my ships supposed to hold.

Saint_Proverbius said:
Something like, A Starliner has broken down near New Ireland in Tautha. Take 10 tons of Equipment to it and transfer energy for 40,000 credits would be pretty nifty if you became a member. I'm sure you could make a plugin that did that, though.
How limited are the plug-ins? Do they stop at extra missions, ships and equipment? Or can you ultimately recode most of the game and fix a lot more things? if so, I'd really consider getting the game to see what some people can come up with.
 

Dan

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That's a rather long rant, DU... Interesting, though. :)

Opening a Pilot
I have been getting the exact same situation... pretty annoying.

Pilot Nickname (Call Sign)
I had a mission to drive around a band, when they first approched me he said something like: "Hey, Aren't you [full name] from the [ship's name]? Mind if I call you [nickname]?"

Ship Info
Yes, that would be pretty nice. It's annoying to have to find a shipyard in order to find out info about my ship.

Drop Bear Repellant
What's that?


I've tried it out a little, it's pretty fun, but I got bored after a few weeks, as the only develpoment you can make is make your ship stronger, so you can kill stronger ships other people built.

55 Million
How did you reach such an amount of money so fast? Even the most high paying missions only get me a maximum of around 70,000.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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DarkUnderlord said:
Starting with the most pedantic thing, I have an interesting experience when I use a different resolution other than what EVN plays in. Whenever you open a pilot, it changes back to your system resolution and brings up the open pilot dialogue box. It's more annoying than a problem, but watching my screen jump around and re-size itself isn't entertaining.

I tend to agree with this. I wonder why they didn't just make an in-game interface for the loading of pilots. That would have been much nicer, but I'm guessing that since the game is a straight port, they didn't want to make new graphics just for what's handled by the Mac without interface graphics.

I have a Pilot 'nickname'. Apparently for no reason as no-one uses it, so I'm not to sure why I have one at all really. During conversation, in missions, when being addressed by ports, I've been called by my pilot name, rather than my nickname. Where is it actually used?

It's used once that I've seen. That's the mission to convey a rock band around.

What system am I in currently? The only way to find out is to hit the 'm' key and bring up the map. Rather annoying. The system I'm in should be somewhere on the display, along with the current date. It's annoying when message buoy's pop-up so I don't get the date, so I have to hit 'p' to find out.

Totally agreed, this is another thing that bugs me about the interface. A little clock in the upper corner, left or right, would have been very nice - especially with timed missions.


They can use my name in dialogue, but if I've re-assigned my keyboard keys, they can't tell which key I've assigned to what. Instead, I get references to "that's 'm' if you're using the factory key layout". If I've re-assigned my keys, they should be able to pick it up in mission dialogue and say the "y" key or whatever I've re-assigned it to.

I would have prefered they never mentioned the keyboard period in the tutorial. My pilot surely isn't flying around the galaxy with a 101-key keyboard. Why the hell is Barry telling me things in terms of keys on the keyboard?


Font Size: I'm not friggin' blind, but I don't have perfect vision either. A larger font please. Some of the text is just too small, especially when it comes to descriptions. With all that room on screen, there's just no need to have such a small font. Up it about 2 points, to the same size as the font used in the ship information bar on the right of the screen.

I told you that'd make you go blind..

Seriously, I think the font they used is questionable, for sure. It's way too thin. However, thank goodness they didn't use a Mac font. I hate the Mac font.

Destination: When I hit 'm' to bring up the map to see where a UN mission wants me to pick up a cargo, it'd be nice if both the cargo pick-up point AND the cargo drop-off point were marked. I don't see why they're not, as it just means I have to find the destination system manually anyway, which is what the green arrow is supposed to stop me from doing. In the map screen, it would also be nice if I could turn off the names of systems, even when I'm zoomed in close,as they get in the way quite a few times.

Doesn't bother me. It just tells you where to go when you need to go there. If they had arrows everywhere for each place you're supposed to be in one mission, and you have several missions.. How confusing would that get?

Information Layout: Why does this have to be a slab of text?

Just the facts, ma'am. Some are listed as memo type text, though.

Scroll Bars: That thing needs some scroll bars. I played through for quite a while before noticing that some Outfitters have little buttons below them which show more equipment and lo-and-behold, there were the ship licenses I was searching so hard for (I'd previously wondered what the blank little black holes where for and suddenly noticed little arrows in them at a big port once). A scroll bar would be nice methinks, just on the right of all the boxes, rather than the arrows.

The arrow keys seem to work, too.

Tabs: Having everything for sale on one screen was a bit much I thought. The screen should have tabs that clearly split off items for sale. So weapons are under one tab, items are under another and perhaps pirated or illegal equipment is for sale under another tab.

That would be nice for stations with a huge list of stuff, but what about the ones that only have a few items?

Pirate/Illegal Upgrades: If these were clearly marked, it would be a lot nicer. At the moment, it's either in faint grey writing below the picture, or buried in a slab of text in the description. If it were say, marked with big red text "- Illegal -" up the top of the description, it'd be a lot easier to notice that the item I'm thinking about buying is going to make me an instant outlaw in every system across the galaxy (because absolutely everyone insists on enforcing that law for some reason).

I've always seen the -illegal- thing in the item icon box.

Ship Status: Also, if my ship HAS illegal items on it that are likely to make Feds (and everyone else) attack me, I'd like to know a lot more clearly. Maybe something somewhere in the 'p' information screen that says "Ships Status: Illegal" or something.

Yes, but.. Illegal where? Illegal in Fed space? Auroran space? Just one of the Auroran houses' space? Polaris? Pirates? Wraith? Where?

This is one thing I hate about the legal status thing.. I'm an Upstanding Citizen, but the Freds hate me.. So do the Aurorans.. So I'm obviously not upstanding there, am I?

Prices: It'd be a bit more interesting if ports sold upgrades for varying prices. It's not really fun when every port sells upgrades for the same price. Make them vary. Make the rebels cost more, make the federation cost less, spice it up a bit so that if I want the best for my money, I have to shop around a litle.

Why would the Rebels cost more? They have Sigma backing them. They have the money and the tech, really.

I agree a little variance in price would be nice, especially if there was an interweb for those things the player had access to so he could check out prices everywhere at some point.

1) Don't put them in with normal outfitters equipment. Not only was it not until my second day (when I found the scroll down button on the outfitters) that I realised where ship licenses were, but it seems strange not only to buy them, but also that I can buy them so easily. To get some licenses, I should have to pass missions. To run a capital ship, I should have to get some academy training in flight lessons or something, or do a trade mission OR, as a last resort, bribe them. As it is, you may as well bump up the price of the ships and be done with it as it achieves the same effect, which is ultimately a slightly increased ship cost.

Why? You only can buy outdated, obsolete cap ships until you do missions anyway. While I lub the IDA Frigate, it's not that good a ship, after all. And look how many Starbridges there are roaming around, too.

2) Perhaps limit the number of licences I can hold at any one time too. As it is, I usually get 20 Million in Polaris with a Cambrian and then buy a decent ship. To do that, I rock up at Tichel and spend 1 Million buying all the licenses, it's no big deal. Perhaps if I had a limit of one license at a time so that if I was a licensed trader, once I've passed a certain level of experience or something, I can buy a combat license. Then when I buy the combat license, my trading license is revoked? Actually, that's a crappy idea, but I think something of this nature needs to be added, to make licences important and more interesting.

Only the Freds do licenses. The other factions don't care about them.

Escort Price:
Hire an Escort, sure. What price do they charge per day? It'd be nice to know what they charged per day BEFORE I brought them on-side.

Leviathons are insanely expensive on what they charge.. I lost 6M credits trying to run a route with leviathons once, so I agree.

Kills:
Where's the screen to view the number of kills I've made? By ship type, as well as another option by ownership. It'd be nice to know not only the total kills, but also the total number by ship type (Manticore, Shuttles, Heavy Shuttles, etc..) and also by faction (X number of Federation ships, Y number of Pirate ships and Z number of Polaris ships etc...).

Agreed.. You have to put a blank textfile in your EVN directory called pilotlog.txt and it will tell you the number of kills you've made. "Kills" seems to be weighted, too. I know I haven't killed 8k ships out there, so bigger, better ships must grant more "kills".


Targetting:
1) Saint raised something which really pissed me off. I want keys that target:
Nearest enemy vessel.
Nearest friendly vessel.
Vessel(s) that is attacking me.
Nearest trading class vessel.
Nearest combat class vessel.
Biggest/Toughest vessel.
Smallest/Weakest vessel.

I have noticed that 'r' seems to target the nearest enemy vessel and 'alt-r' the nearest vessel (be it friendly or enemy). This isn't mentioned in the manual.

R is mentioned, but not alt-R. I think that's too many hotkeys for all you want, though. And really, what's the point of being able to target the nearest trade vessel? My idea of a list on the side would be much more simple than over a half dozen hotkeys.

2) Play Descent: Freespace. What happens when the ship you've targetted goes off-screen? You get a little arrow on the edge of the screen pointing to it (it also changes size depending on how far away it is from you too), so that you know if you move your ship in that direction, your target will come into view. I'd like the same for EVN. A pathetic flashing pale-grey dot in my mini-map is not enough for me to figure out quickly, during combat, just where exactly my enemy has disappeared to.

This totally shits me. I don't know how many huge ass battles I've had where I had to hunt down, blindly, where the disabled ships were just because of this..

However! If you target a disabled ship, and hit "A", it should point you in the direction of that ship.


Attacking Planets:
If it weren't for Saint's mention about needing to be noted as a worthy combatant before you can demand tribute from a planet, I would never have known. Things like this should not only be in the manual, but they suck as well. If I have a flotilla of warships, I should damn well be able to take on a planet, ANY planet I want, and if I get destroyed, so be it. If they refuse tribute, I should still be able to attack them anyway. Instead, I get the laughable scenario of hostile planets attacking me with their planet based weapons, yet I am completely unable to fire back at them. I should be able to beat them into submission, regardless of any superficial 'rating'.

Agreed.


Bigger Systems:
One thing I found about the game was that zipping from one side of the galaxy to the other was no big hassle. There's not much distance between places if all you have to do is map a course and hit 'j' all the time. I'd personally like the systems to be larger. I want to have to physically travel across the system and use a jump-gate to get to the next system, rather than just entering a system which consists solely of one planet and hitting 'j' to get to the next one. It's too easy and at the moment, your ships personal manouvreability doesn't count for much, except in combat. I'd like more planets and ports within systems, so that the distance of space is a much bigger issue to deal with.

Systems are "larger" then you think. Tell me when you've found a wormhole... ;)


Unique Selling Point:
Apart from all of that, it is fun blowing stuff up. There aren't enough other things to do for me to buy it though. I had thought about it, but the only fun to be had is blowing stuff up and I can do that in a lot of other games I already have. Conquering or buying planets and owning them (not just tribute), building my own ports and establishing trade routes, exploring and discovering hitherto unknown jump-gates and areas of the galaxy with planets that I can claim, and establish with a population of people to work for me mining the surface, creating new trade routes I can setup freighters on, then defending my new patch of space from pirates and the Federation and anyone else who wants a piece. That's what I'd like. :) Something I can't get in other games. This game doesn't have a Unique Selling Point for me, beyond blowing stuff up and buying neat ships.

Personally, I think the game is well worth $30, just because of everything it offers. I don't think you could ever dominate a planet in to submission, but what about terraforming a world, then populate it with willing people? That would have been nice.
 

DarkUnderlord

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Dan said:
DarkUnderlord said:
Drop Bear Repellant
What's that?
A hoax apparently. Sold in some Auroran Outfitters for 5,000 a bottle, apparently it stops the drop bear attacks. It doesn't, of course. :)

Dan said:
DarkUnderlord said:
55 Million
How did you reach such an amount of money so fast? Even the most high paying missions only get me a maximum of around 70,000.
Trading. I ended up with a terrapin and did some trading. Eventually managed to buy a Piratey Enterprise with solar panels, batteries and what-not so I could go exploring about the empty parts of space. I eventually jumped through to the Polaris system (had to move quickly through their entrance systems as they outright attacked me) and got to the main world that sold Cambrians. I bought one and went trading. :) Then I hired 1 as an escort and kept trading (in Polaris space). Then I hired 6 as escorts and kept trading the same route. Half an hour later I had about 50 Million. :)

Saint_Proverbius said:
I've always seen the -illegal- thing in the item icon box.
Not for the -cheap- Military IR Jammer and -cheap- Military Radar Jammer. The mention of them being illegal is in the slab of text and they have -cheap- as the grey text. It didn't click with me when I bought them that they were illegal and as a result, got scanned by a Fed and attacked because of it. Admittedly, the information was there, but it's like most things I've found, it could be presented a lot better.

Saint_Proverbius said:
Yes, but.. Illegal where? Illegal in Fed space? Auroran space? Just one of the Auroran houses' space? Polaris? Pirates? Wraith? Where?

This is one thing I hate about the legal status thing.. I'm an Upstanding Citizen, but the Freds hate me.. So do the Aurorans.. So I'm obviously not upstanding there, am I?
Yes! I noticed that too and wondered what it was based on. Seems it's based on the system you're currently in. They need an extra screen that has your status listed per faction. A list of factions and your status with that particular faction.

Saint_Proverbius said:
I agree a little variance in price would be nice, especially if there was an interweb for those things the player had access to so he could check out prices everywhere at some point.
Not an interweb, but communications with other pilots. They tell you about low prices or high prices for trade goods as it is now, so if a few of them said "Hey, if you're looking for some cheap missiles, check out the such-and-such system." It'd add some extra benefit. Perhaps even have to pay them to divulge information. "I know a place that sells the cheapest Thunderhead Hangars in the galaxy, I'll tell you for just $10,000 credits".

Saint_Proverbius said:
Systems are "larger" then you think. Tell me when you've found a wormhole...
Found one in Aurouran space somewhere as I was fleeing from a hoard of pissed off Aurorans and trying to recharge quickly enough to get out of there. :) I eventually found that systems wrap around on themselves, so you can disappear off one edge and re-appear on the other side. Very handy for escaping when you're in a fast ship that's not got enough energy for jumping. Unfortunately, the wormhole took me to another system deeper in Auroran space were I was promptly destroyed.

I still think that if systems were physcally larger than they are, and that you had to target a jump gate and go through it to get out of it, it'd make for a much more interesting experience. Especially trying to get into Polaris space when they're border protectors are not friendly. Getting in would be a whole new challenge, rather than just hyper-ing through.

Saint_Proverbius said:
Personally, I think the game is well worth $30, just because of everything it offers. I don't think you could ever dominate a planet in to submission, but what about terraforming a world, then populate it with willing people? That would have been nice.
What do I get in the full version that I can't get in the shareware? Better weapons? More missions? More ships? I know you mentioned capturing other ships, which I really want to do, but unless there's something fantastic, no.
 
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Greetings all, first post here (only just discovered this site - must have been born blind or something). I wanted to contribute here as a long-term Escape Velocity fan, former Mac gamer and current Windows gamer.

An important thing to remember about EVN is that it is the third installment in a fairly old franchise. The original game 'Escape Velocity' was released on Mac way back in 1996. The EVN engine, although heaily modified, is still based on that first attempt. This explains why the interface seems awkward - in the original EV there were nowhere nearly as man options available so a crude interace was simple enough. In fact EVN was the first in the series to include in-game mouse support for selecting targets.

Note that I'm not excusing the interface woes, just explaining them. :)

For example, the massive list of upgades when you get infor on yor own ship was not a major problem in the original EV because there jsut weren't that many available.

What do I get in the full version that I can't get in the shareware? Better weapons? More missions? More ships? I know you mentioned capturing other ships, which I really want to do, but unless there's something fantastic, no

It lets you finish the various main story threads granting you acess to the most powerful ships (The Unrelenting, Javelin etc.) and mods (repair droids etc.). It also lets you use plugins (a major feature).

That would have been much nicer, but I'm guessing that since the game is a straight port, they didn't want to make new graphics just for what's handled by the Mac without interface graphics.

Yeah, on the Mac version it just uses the OS interface for opening a pilot file so they made it a straight port instead of adding new graphics.

"Kills" seems to be weighted, too. I know I haven't killed 8k ships out there, so bigger, better ships must grant more "kills".

"kills" is a numerical value based on the crew compliment of the ships you destroy - thus carriers are worth far more than shuttles. This number is determined by the game designer, and is also factored into you chance of capturing a disabled ship. You can increase your crew compliment with marine platoons.

One thing I found about the game was that zipping from one side of the galaxy to the other was no big hassle. There's not much distance between places if all you have to do is map a course and hit 'j' all the time. I'd personally like the systems to be larger.

This is a design choice rather than an engine restriction. In fact I am working on a Total Conversion plugin where it will take four jumps just to get from Earth to Europe, and interstellar travel is only possible via hypergates. Mod-makers can even specify how far you must be from the system centre to be able to jump.

How limited are the plug-ins? Do they stop at extra missions, ships and equipment? Or can you ultimately recode most of the game and fix a lot more things? if so, I'd really consider getting the game to see what some people can come up with.

You don't have access to the game's code, but there are many features in the game which have gone under-utilised in the Nova Scenario. The Nova stories are fairly linear with no opportunities for the player to make up their own mind, but the engine fully supports branching story-lines where every decision you make will open up new possibilities. This is one of the features in the plugin I am woring on.

And as I said, Total Conversions are possible. I am aware of Babylon 5 and Star Wars mods in progress. Both of these were already available for EV:Override (the previous version) but I gather there is a lot of work involved upgrading them to the new engine.

Did you know, for example, that Nova is the first EV to have engine glow, running lights, special weapon effects and visible shield effects? This means many more animations for each ship. Oh, yes, you can't see the shield effects in Nova because they never put them in - another feature waiting for a plugin.
 

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Midnight Falcon said:
You don't have access to the game's code, but there are many features in the game which have gone under-utilised in the Nova Scenario. The Nova stories are fairly linear with no opportunities for the player to make up their own mind, but the engine fully supports branching story-lines where every decision you make will open up new possibilities. This is one of the features in the plugin I am woring on.
That's good to hear. A pity the interface couldn't be opened up for modding though, as it truly is one of the more horrible ones I've encountered. EVN just has a lot of potential that I think could be opened up with a good interface and better trading!
 

DarkUnderlord

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Curse the lack of edit button. Even when I'm the last poster. Anyway...

I've been hunting reviews and found this comment in one of them.
Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the bar!
Finally, I have to mention what happens to be my biggest peeve with all of the Escape Velocity games, something that I was disapointed to discover was not going to be changed in EVN. It seems to me that everyone in the EV universe must be a raging alcoholic, because everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to meet me in the bar to discuss missions. It feels rather silly to be sitting in the bar, waiting for the big powerful general to brief me on my top secret mission goals. It doesn't seem like too much to ask to have a few more options added to the Spaceport screen; like, say, a planetary HQ, or military office, where I might go to seek more sensitive missions.

But this is a minor quibble, and one that I have gotten laughingly accustomed to.
I just have to say that I totally agree.
 

Psilon

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Maybe Mac users can, but this board is pretty PC-centric. Until they release editors or even the REZ file format, we don't have our own custom plugin capability.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Psilon said:
Um, that would be Sigma and GLi-Tech, right?

The Freds give the starter missions via the Outfitters, which oddly enough are cargo hauling missions. Shame they didn't do the bar like other space traders have done where it was filled with random people, some who'd give missions, some who'd give info, and stuff like that. The bar feature in EVN just seems rather silly.
 
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Yes, the bar is a bit silly.

But the thing which annoys me the most about Nova (scenario wise, not an engine issue) is the way in which the stories seem to actively prevent the player from role-playing at all. Not only do we have mostly linear story-threads, but we also have the writers telling the player what he/she is thinking and feeling.

"Oh? I feel sad because I'm doing these things? Ok, well, your the boss I guess."

How I respond emotionally to what I'm doing is MY business, not the game designer's. If they think they need to tell me to feel happy, sad, amused etc. then they have fundamentally failed to create engaging characters and actions.

I also dislike the way that they keep making decisions for me. Sure, I get to choose whether to accept a mission or not, but I don't get any say about whether I'm going to get drunk with a stranger in the bar. *I* don't drink, so it's damn annoying when the game tells me that I do.

I think ATMOS did a great job of creating a vast, fascinating world - but they failed miserably to create an engaging story within that world.
 

DarkUnderlord

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I especially like the options that aren't really options. I'm continuing my pirate mission (now that I've forked out the $30 and registered) and I got a mission where I got some upgraded engines just as long as I killed some pirate guy. Well, me like engines so hey, if I have to kill someone, no problem.

I journey over to the sector where this guy is and see my target... who promptly gets destroyed by the Feds without me having to lift a finger. So I journey back, get my engines then go to Viking to see Uncle Olaf and the bastard doesn't want to talk to me.

Now, everywhere I go, I'm attacked by the "McGraw" family who seem to have a hundred thousand ships, because no matter how many I destroy (and I've destroyed quite a few) they keep on coming back. Which is great, but it seems to be mission over and there's nothing I can do about it.

I've now failed the "Pirate 10 (710): Set and Launch Trap" mission (according to the Nova web-site) and am at a complete loss as to what I should do now. In fact, I seem to be at the end and stuck on "Pirate Offshoot 3d (727): McGraw Family Revenge", which is just great. Woohoo. I'm excited. :roll:
 

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