The Seventeenth Spy (WIP, on hiatus. Story last updated 9-30-17, codex added 12-27-17)

Typo and paragraph spacing issues fixed! I went ahead and tried to make spacing more consistent in all of chapter 1 – let me know if you find anything that looks weird. And I suppose I should do the same for chapter 2 as well…

EDIT: Checked spacing in chapter 2 and uploaded a few changes. Let me know if you see any weird paragraph spacing in either chapter!

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Hey, I really like what you’ve got here! I’m not really the biggest fan of sci-fi, but this seems really interesting. I like the idea of it, as well as the way it’s written. Thanks for the fun read.

Stats from the end of the demo:
MC: 75, 21, 61, 117, 5, 37 - 32

Chapter 1: 4, 82, 1

Chapter 2: Elijah, smuggler, none, dead

Relationships: 59, 48, 33

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MC: 71, 41, 59, 52, 2, 47 - 20

Chapter 1: 2, 33, 2

Chapter 2: Twelve, merchant, Hespera, dead

Relationships: 59, 48, 29

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I have a few questions about the game world:

  1. a. Faster than light travel: Theoretically space would become negative, time would go backwards, and mass of object would be infinite. How would that work in your story? For the mass issue, since it is possible to generate gravity, perhaps it’s also possible to generate matter with negative density, which would (mathematically, I’d imagine, I’m no physicist) counteract some of the infinite mass and make movement possible.
    b. How does time work? Is there an intergalactic Greenwich time?
    c. Everyone knows Copernicus. Considering that Einstein’s special relativity theory is well established, explains several phenomena, and is even applied in stuff like GPS, surely the name of the scientist who debunked the speed limit of light, and therefore disavowed the foundations of spec rel, would be known to the MC?

  2. a. How is it that the MC managed to be rescued when they were below deck, in the oxygen room (I forgot what it was called), which seems to be a rather obscure place compared to the other parts of the ship? Or maybe that was intentional since AGIS needed only the MC?
    b. “What is she, clearance level 40?” Woah, how many clearance levels are there?
    c. When Thirteen stays standing, can there be an option for MC to stand up, too? It’d be rather awkward to be sitting when she’s standing, especially since she’s described as being tall.
    d. How does the education system work? The MC seems quite knowledgeable about certain processes - was this the result of being thrust into situations where that knowledge is needed, or due to a formal education?
    e. Is there an intergalactic UN of sorts? Who oversees AGIS?

Thanks :slight_smile:

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I like questions like these. They help me organize my worldbuilding!

FTL limits

For the purposes of The Seventeenth Spy, most of these theories turned out to be far from true. I’m envisioning a kind of scientific revolution where the general understanding of velocity, time, acceleration completely changed. A bit of an excuse for ignoring some laws of physics, but maybe not completely implausible – Aristotelian to Newtonian physics was a pretty mind-boggling change, and we’ll likely see similar worldview swings in the future.

The limits of ftl travel here are really centered around outrunning light. They may have figured out how to move an object faster than light, but signals and sensors are still light-based (or some kind of electromagnetic radiation, like radio waves). Sensor data for where a ftl jump will take you is going to be from hours or days ago, depending on how far you’re planning on jumping, while the jump itself will be basically instant. It’s literally faster to shoot a bullet across space than a radio signal. Course correction for that bullet so that it arrives safely is another matter. The central systems probably have some kind of mail drones to carry messages between planets, but in the colonies a lot of news gets carried on merchant ships.

Within systems, especially crowded ones, moving faster than your sensors isn’t practical, so most ships revert to what was previously the best method of space-travel: sailing on stellar winds. Sailing is a different (and difficult) skill compared to running a ftl drive, but it uses very little power. Some systems may require incoming ships to hire a local pilot if they are unfamiliar with the area.

I wanted to evoke the age of exploration, with new technology pushing the boundaries of inhabitable space and communication limits dividing nations from their colonies. (Firefly’s definitely an inspiration here!) Just a lot more interesting to me than ‘we have warp drives’ and hopefully a bit unique.

The gravity generator creating matter with negative density is a really interesting idea, though! I need to figure out the limits of gravity manipulation here. What happens if you try changing gravity on the surface of a planet? How large or small an area can you effect?

Pretty much. There’s a Universal Time based out of the little planet that’s the capital of everything (no, it doesn’t have a name yet :woman_shrugging:t2:). It’s a reference for calculating dates and times between systems, and the source of a ‘standard day,’ but most planets have their local times, systems tend to reference the local time of their own largest settlement, and ships between systems often convert to the time of their destination before they get there. It’s kind of messy. AGIS runs on Universal time, though they basically work around the clock anyway.

Yeah, this is a really good point. I was getting tired of finding good names for things, though I guess it kind of implies people are taking the concept for granted now? Not everyone who makes groundbreaking scientific discoveries ends up a household name, and it could’ve been several scientists gradually building a new perspective. But yeah, I need to just give them a name… :woman_facepalming:t2:

It’s actually close to the loading bay of the ship (mentioned if you go upstairs) and next to the oxygen supply, so it’s a logical place to shelter or look for survivors (assuming your oxygen isn’t on fire).

Twelve definitely didn’t tell you everything, though.

As many as I decide there are! :crazy_face: This is counting down from the top, though (clearance level 1 is probably ~3 people), and this woman is really no one. A nurse, not a spy. (Why does she get to hear so much of your conversation, then? Twelve’s conceptually brilliant, but can practically be pretty careless sometimes. It tends to work out for him, but it worries his sister. If they had stats like the mc, Twelve’s highest would probably be bravado and Thirteen’s discipline.)

Keeping track of where people are standing during conversations tends to trip me up a lot! (I’m not really a spatial thinker, I guess). That’s a good idea, and maybe an opportunity to specify your character’s height.

Mostly learning as they went working on the Delora or from other crewmembers, though an MC who ran away from home with their brother probably had some kind of formal education then, and astrographers would have some kind of apprenticeship if their parents weren’t there to teach them. As AGIS’s choice (even if not the first) the MC’s supposed to be somewhat above-average and probably a fairly curious person. I’ve considered increasing the starting age, though.

AGIS was originally formed as the security agency of the Galactic Coalition, which was originally basically a galactic UN, though both have grown much more powerful in the last century. A coalition of allied states has been morphing into essentially a single government, with AGIS’s help. They’ve overstepped the original bounds of the treaty, but they have kept the peace (though colonies are making that a bit more complicated right now). The Coalition was founded after a pretty messy intersystem war, and no one wants to see another one. (The original Clama Corvi was founded by remnants of the losing side of that war.)

Oh, and despite the fancy name, we’re not even dealing with a full galaxy here, just a cluster of star systems. A real one, actually: The Pleiades Cluster (though technically most of these stars would be too hot for comfortable planets). I like having my stars named for me, and a consistent map to reference! The pic on Dashingdon is of the cluster, and eventually I’d like to draw up my own map based on it.

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Whew, that was a long post! On a less lore-related note, I’m planning on making some changes to the save system in the next update (which might not be until mid-December, depending on school). The plugin will still be there, but sadly won’t work to load things from the previous update. It just doesn’t like me adding new variables to the startup menu, which I know I’m not done with yet!

Instead I’ll be writing a save system similar to @nauhziy’s in The Gladiator. You’ll get a string of numbers at the beginning of each chapter you can copy and save if you want to reload from that point. I’ll upload this before the chapter update, so you will have a chance to get a save code before the other system stops working.

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Aw, come on. They can move objects faster than the speed of light but haven’t figured out a way to, say, use quantum entanglement to send signals? :grin: though maybe that would only work for messaging, like a fax, since there has to be something on the other side. Hmm.

But yeah, thanks for explaining, it makes sense. Maybe the laws of physics change as you exceed speed of light, just as they change when you approach it :thinking:

Speaking of the age of exploration evocation, I really like how your game combines a sense of the past with tech from the future. It’s an interesting, realistic, and refreshing world.

These were probably rhetorical questions, but since gravity is by far the weakest force - and I’m going by the assumption that it involves manipulation of gravitons - you could probably only affect a small area, so likely not a whole planet. That’d be pretty disastrous anyway for the residents, I’d imagine.

Is there compulsory schooling on their home planets? Do they learn practical skills at school such as the physics of running a starship or the basics of sailing, or are those who do use starships a small minority? e.g. we don’t do simulations of brain surgery at school because only a tiny percent of people go on to become brain surgeons, so is this similar? Sorry if this had been mentioned, I do try to read carefully but things slip my mind.

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AGIS is working on this problem, actually. They are making sure no one else does, though!

That’s basically how I’ve been thinking of it. Maybe inertia works differently, so it’s actually logical to accelerate at an insane rate for a fraction of a second and then immediately stop? :crazy_face::grin:

Yeah, it definitely wouldn’t be enough to influence a planet, especially since we’ve seen changing it on a small ship made a significant difference in power consumption. But if you’re influencing a small area, where and how does that influence end? Does the effect taper off, or is there a distinct edge (gravity fields!)? I like the idea of comparing it to an electromagnet, or the possibility of creating negative mass (maybe that’s how you contain a field?). I do need to have some basic guidelines in place for this next update!

Oh, this is a really good worldbuilding question!

Colonies are kind of their own subculture, and then private starships are a minority within that, so the skills the mc’s picked up on the Delora are fairly unique. (Basing this roughly on growing up in Alaska and knowing a lot of fishermen living on small boats.)

Broadly, the systems that make up the Coalition still have distinctive cultures and probably slightly different approaches to education. AGIS doesn’t approve of homeschooling, but there’s no official laws against it. Wanting to teach your children yourself without feeling like the system is subtly against you is an excellent reason to join a colony, though, where there often aren’t any regulations on education. There’s definitely a perception that colonies are inhabited by uneducated bumpkins. Private tutoring is fairly common for wealthy families, and the only dignified option if you’re the governor of a colony or something.

People flying starships in the central cluster generally have a permit (the process is long – closer to getting a pilot’s license than a driver’s license). If you grew up flying in the colonies, you’ll probably need to pass some kind of exam before you could work commercially here (and you’d still be a bit of an oddity).

Sailing is the pastime of the wealthy, maybe a bit like horseback riding as automobiles became more common. It can be practical, or very prestigious. Ordinary captains would have a cursory knowledge to get from point a to point b, but professional pilots devote their lives to the skill. Going to Hespera (the city planet you can choose as your home) to sail is maybe like going to the Alps to ski. You could certainly go there casually to enjoy some gorgeous scenery, but it’s also a place where the masters go for a challenge.

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That reminds me - how does gravity work on a spaceship? Is it uniform in all parts, such as, as you’ve said, a current-carrying wire underneath all the floors so that the electromagnetism affects each floor equally, or does the gravity emanate solely from the generator, not channeled through any cables, and as such follows the inverse square law? (or not follow it, if you wish to change that part of physics, too :laughing: )

Based on the other clarifications, it sure sounds like MC is one special cookie. No wonder AGIS is interested.

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They were apparently more interested in the mc’s awesome, but also much goofier (in my case at least), big bro. Which isn’t to say they wouldn’t have taken two for one. Or they might simply have kidnapped the brother, which would have left my mc just about as heartbroken as he is now anyway. Or maybe not, cause with a missing person you can at least give yourself hope (or delude yourself) for a very long time.

Oh, and I’ve got a bug to report:

“02_hope line 277: invalid indent, expected at least one line in ‘if’ true bloc”

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Fixed!
That’s really weird, Quicktest completely misses it. Must have happened when I was rearranging the choices in that block. The interesting thing about this bug is that it only shows up if you ask why the room’s so dark before moving on with the conversation. Which tells me that no one has tried asking lately (or they’re not reporting the bug :smirk:). And I wrote that choice assuming most people would use it and threw in a check just in case they didn’t…

Quick update: the save system is done!

If you care about keeping your current save, load it and go to the stats screen. Click the option at the bottom to create a save code for the new system. You’ll get a long string of numbers you’ll have to copy and save somewhere so you can re-enter them later. You can do this from any point in the game (including the end of the demo screen), but it’s designed to work at the end of a chapter and will ultimately load to the beginning of the first chapter you haven’t completed. So saving mid-chapter will cause you to skip ahead when you load later.

Have a great Thanksgiving, all!

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I think one of my favourite things was how you made me care so much about a character I just met and never see. The real connecting moment was when I went for the cake and he had already gotten it.

Find myself checking the stats screen after every choice just to see what sort of bts happens.

I love Twelve. He’s great. I fully expect he’s the sort to stop speaking mid-sentence because he’s been distracted with other work for the entirety of your conversation. And Thirteen super two, but it makes me think the two characters are the embodiment of Severity and Sympathy. Which is neat.

*fake_choice
    #I really like your narrative style.
    #I REALLY like your narrative style.
    #I absolutely, incredibly LOVE your narrative style.

It’s a great game so far. I’ll be keeping track. :black_heart:

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Hey, I’m still here! :raising_hand_woman:t2:
It’s been a busy couple of months and chapter three is still in progress. But the new save system will be ready to go with it, and I’ve puzzled out something cool with loops I’m very pleased with (you’ll have to wait and see…). So, some coding progress even if not much narrative progress. I’ve also started work on a codex, mostly for my own reference at the moment, but I thought I might as well add it. Let me know if there’s anything you want me to make an entry for.

@TimberWoolf Thank you so much for your comments! It’s always kind of a mystery to me what other people think of my characters, whether my writing’s ‘working’ to convey what’s in my head, so this was very encouraging to hear. I know I love Twelve, but he’s been sitting in my head for nearly a year now and I know everything about him…
That’s right, you don’t even meet your brother if you don’t go to the pilothouse! I’ve got all the branches in my head and it’s easy to forget how much someone actually sees in a single play through. I’m glad you connected with the character so well. :grin:

And if anyone else stumbles upon this thread after it’s been inactive for a while, feel free to comment anyway. It’s always encouraging to hear people are reading my story. :blush:

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Speaking of characters, in my playthroughs and attempts at code-reading, there don’t seem to be many options to be apathetic towards the brother. As in, he irritates me but that doesn’t mean I dislike him as such, nor that I don’t also share his penchant for experimentation. -shrugs- But it’s only a very minor issue, everything else is great.

With the hormone, are chemicals like that common knowledge? There’s no in-story comment on it apart from the choices. “That’s a little unsettling” felt like it would lead to the might omniscient narrator providing some info to clarify - is it unsettling because MC hasn’t heard of synthetic hormones or because MC hasn’t heard of hormones having such side effects?

Oh really. Fantastic. More complex coding shall certainly be appreciated! (the first time I tried to look through the code, the multivariable calc questions I’d been putting off suddenly seemed more doable.)

Maybe one for AGIS itself that includes more info on its structure, founding, breadth of activities, etc.? And one for the GC, the “pretty messy intersystem war” that started it, and the Taygetan state?

From a previous post:

There’s a Universal Time based out of the little planet that’s the capital of everything (no, it doesn’t have a name yet)

and also this little capital of everything if you’ve decided on it.

Unique among known stars, Pleione spins fast enough to exude a ‘shell’ of fiery gas that shifts to follow the smaller star orbiting it.

Is this an actual phenomenon or did you come up with it?

Galene is teaming with marine life

Teeming? Or is this supposedly insentient chunk of rock going cahoots with its organisms? :stuck_out_tongue: If the latter, I very much look forward to how it plays out.

a flourishing population of photosynthetic algae, theorized to be a product of radiation from Pontus

:o Are the algae themselves products of radiation? As in, here are some electromagnetic waves and then oh look, the waves have been transformed into some photosynthetic organisms?

It’s ecologically diverse, including examples of alpine, desert, forest, and grasslands, with ocean covering 40% of the planet’s surface.

Might be jumping the gun here, but this sounds intriguing. Will MC get the opportunity to visit it or any of the other planets during the missions?

Sorry about any facetiousness - it’s all just very exciting. I’ll probably be back with more stuff once I replay the actual story again.

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I really hope this is the case, if only for an underhanded ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide’ reference:

“There is reason to believe that some sort of mastermind conspiracy is forming, but the specialists have declared this unholy coalition… mostly harmless.”

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This is a very good point, especially since your initial ‘dragonfly’ value is based, not on how much you like/dislike him, but how apathetic you are towards him. (A relationship value of 50 starts dragonfly at 0) I was trying way too hard to make all the stat choices perfectly balanced in the first chapter and ended up with some odd combinations. I didn’t want to just reuse the same set of choices everywhere, which was more interesting to write but not very fair. Probably will wait to puzzle it out after I’m done with chapter 3.

Yes, my codex is lacking some important entries, isn’t it! I just started with consolidating information that’s already in the story. (The planet descriptions were all there before, but you could only read information on your home planet.) It’d definitely be good to write through what I’ve got on the war/coalition/founding of AGIS and come up with some summaries (I’ve got a terrible habit of trying to keep most of my ideas in my head!) The capital planet still doesn’t have a name, I need to decide what star system it’s in. Probably Alcyone makes the most sense, though Maia could also work…

This is an actual phenomenon! I mentioned already somewhere that I was using real stars (irl they are probably way too bright to have habitable planets, oh well), and Pleione took me by surprise. It’s a pretty unique star

Pleione’s shell might look something like this, though the star pictured here is spinning a lot faster and is not a binary.

:joy: HAHAHA This is actually a really old typo that’s been in the description of Galene since I first uploaded it. Galene has weird seasonal patterns because it’s a moon and would spend a good deal of time with Pontus eclipsing Pleione (the ‘sun’). It’s also on the outer edge of the habitable zone, meaning it’s generally darker and colder than the rest of the inhabited system. Yet its marine life depends on a thriving population of algae that appear to be photosynthetic. It’s either an example of the most efficient known producers, or the algae is depending on some other energy source. The leading theory is that Pontus is providing this somehow.

Incidentally, intelligent alien life as yet has not been discovered in this universe, though people still talk about the possibility (a bit like Firefly’s universe).

I’d like to explore all of Pleione’s planets (now that I’ve created this complicated mess!), but we’ll have to see. I already know one mission has to take place on a starship, and I was thinking of putting others in different systems, but most of them I just want a certain ‘tone’ for. It’d be really easy to put something on Hespera/Ladon, and maybe Nephele.

Until chapter 3’s done I’ll probably be editing the codex but nowhere else, since I’m going to be replacing a bunch of files in the next update already and it’ll be easier to just change the new versions of things. (All I’m really doing is changing a couple variable names and making the save system create codes automatically, but this way I don’t have to fix every typo twice.)

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Whoops, I missed a question! It’s the sort of thing the MC might not have specifically heard of, but wouldn’t be surprised it’s possible. I’m going to add a sort of moment of reflection for the MC in this next chapter, so I could mention the idea again (and probably have unique dialog for the different backgrounds having different contexts for this information :blush:)

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That’s a good idea, my main mc, the former smuggler likely would have known of things like that since they mainly smuggled either weapons or drugs under the guise of trading in legal medical supplies, so if the mc had any interest in the cargo at all or talked with the clients they would probably have picked up a thing or two of medicine, chemistry and biology.
The teenage merc similarly might know because of the need to be a (very basic) field medic when required or because it is likely professional mercs who can afford it would pay to have themselves “enhanced”, legally or no.

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That’s a pretty good assessment – merchant/smuggler would be familiar with buying and transporting medical supplies, merc would’ve at least heard of cutting edge ‘enhancements,’ and the astrographer’s employers are well off enough to afford pricy medical procedures.