One of the things I love about space 4X games and sci-fi in general is the constant effort to maintain a sense of scientific realism in what is essentially a futuristic fantasy setting. It’s as if all we agree to suspend scientific disbelief on a few core items that are necessary to advance to the story, but anything else is frowned upon.
The Star Trek franchise is famous for their scientific rigor, and the Master of Orion franchise follows suit since it is basically set in a Star Trek-like universe. With that in mind, these are the items that I think are most important to maintain in Java MOO:
1. Realistically evolved races
A lot of players snicker at the “animal” races in MOO, but I think they are more scientifically credible than people realize. Natural selection and the evolution of species is a scientific fact, except perhaps for a few denialists, and species will gradually adapt to survive in their environment. And guess what? Terrestrial environments will be similar across star systems because they are driven by fundamental chemical and physical processes that are the same everywhere. Planets with large, water oceans are common in the universe because water is the most common non-elemental compound in the universe. It’s everywhere.
So while the Mrrshan are not evolved from actual Earth felines, it is plausible to suggest that a cat-like predator on another planet could have evolved into the Mrrshan, and that we view them as a “cat race”. There is also an artistic effort to avoid the trope of “alien = human body + alien head”. Star Trek has to do that, of course, because human actors were required to play aliens in the pre-CGI days. In Java MOO, however, Klackons will look like ants, the Bulrathi will look like bears, the Mrrshan will look like cats, the Alkari will look like birds, and Darloks will be phase-shifters.
All of the race backstories in Java MOO are being created from scratch since there were none provided with the original game. The only exception to the “evolved species” rule is the Silicoids because they are an atypical, silicon-based species. Their origin as an intelligent species is left intentionally mysterious. Their reproduction is unique and outside of natural selection. In addition, they are the oldest race in the galaxy. The plan is for all of the racial backstories to be fleshed out through game mechanics in a 2nd expansion of the game, but that is still quite a ways off.
2. No death stars
ok, just stop. Death stars are so scientifically non-credible that they could only be created in a fantasy sci-fi universe like Star Wars. Force use is very cool and will definitely be in Java MOO, but death stars and planet destroyers will not. They were introduced into the MOO franchise with MOO2, so I have the option of ignoring their existence and will do so. If you want to see how ridiculous the death star trope has become, just watch the latest Star Wars movie where they dig the rotting corpse of that horse out of the ground, prop it up, and then give it yet another round of beating.
3. No hablo Inglés
Alien races that are able (and willing) to speak to us in our native language really breaks immersion for me. Klackons are ants and don’t have vocal chords. Silicoids don’t even have heads! Sakkra and Mrrshan have no lips. I’m not even sure if the Darloks have a body.
How are these races even able to speak a Human language, much less English? I get that voice acting is cool in games, but it will be greatly restricted in Java MOO to those races where it makes sense (generally those with mouths and tongues). What you will instead experience is an alien speaking in some unintelligable language with the words “Receiving…” and “Translating…” in the text box. Then you will see the English text of what they said. That to me is more realistic.
Non-English translations will be funded at some point after the first release.
4. No alien cohabitation
Species comingling will be patterned after MOO1, not MOO2. In other words, there won’t be any. Given what we know about biological life, mixing two ecosystems that have been separated for a long time (in this case, forever) is exceedingly dangerous. Besides, this is a sandbox game. Who trusts a completely alien race to come hang out on the planet just a few years after contact?
Actual contact between races will be restricted to establishing trade routes and spying.
That’s about it for now.