Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Battlestar Galactica Online

Battlestar Galactica Online - Banner
Lately, I had been playing this browser game called Battlestar Galactica Online. To play this game, you will need to install Unity Web Player. It is a program which allows you to play 3D games right in your browser (the program is free to install). You will be prompted to install it after you log into the game.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Choosing Sides Cylon or Colonial
Choosing sides
After getting past the loading screen, you will be asked to choose sides. Instinctively, I just chose the "blue" side as "red" was programmed into me as being "the bad guys". Choose wisely, this is because each account is only allowed one character per server. You will be stuck with whatever you choose FOREVER.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Tutorial
Battlestar Galactica Online - Shooting Drones
Shooting drones

As soon as you picked your side, you will be thrown into the tutorial (apart from completing it, you have no other choice). As with all tutorials in these sort of games, you are taught how to move, shoot and fire missiles. However, I am impressed that they have managed to incorporate the tutorial into the "storyline".
Battlestar Galactica Online - Killing a Raider
Dispatching a raider
Battlestar Galactica Online - Dogfight
Turning into a firefight

You, a rookie undergoing flight training, suddenly encounters a weird device together with your flight instructor. Just when you guys were about to inspect this weird device, a raider jumps in, the device goes off and all hell breaks loose. The jump drives of Galactica gets overloaded by the explosion and you find yourself having to boost back in time or get stranded in space.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Character Creation
Next, the loading screen appears and you find yourself at the character creation interface. Although the options to customise your character may be few, they are quite finely made in my opinion. Besides, apart from the occasional situation that you find yourself docked to run around the small outposts or ship deck, there will be few opportunities for you to admire your character.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Galactica CIC
After you have finished your customisation and ship selection, you find yourself at the Galactica's CIC talking to the admiral. Within the conversation, you can find a few interesting options to click, but clicking them now is useless as they require you to satisfy some conditions. At this point in time, the only options you have is to do the next mission (kind of like a campaign mode) or leave the room to freely explore the game world.

My advice to you would be to leave the room and explore the world first. Learn the ways of the game, upgrade your ship and weapons before you come back for the missions. I learnt it the hard way by getting myself trashed, for being a rookie, in the missions.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Galactica CICBattlestar Galactica Online - REC roomBattlestar Galactica Online - Hangar Deck
The ship deck of Galactica is pretty small in the game. There are only three areas which you can access as a player, the CIC, the REC room and the Hangar Deck. The REC room is where you can find the "Daily Quest" NPCs, while the hangar deck is where you will find the "technician" that will customise and upgrade your ship modules. This technician is also the one who is in charge of repairing your ship and restocking your ammo, so you had better treat him well (not that you actually can).

Moving around these three areas, you will notice that there is only you and the NPCs. Interaction with other players in the game world will only exist out in space when you are in your ship (excluding chat interaction of course). Well...the game is made such that you will be spending most of your time in your ship anyway.

Battlestar Galactica Online - Outfitting Your Ship
A quick look at what the technician is selling
There are five major "currencies" used in Battlestar Galactica Online, merits, cubits, tylium, water and titanium.
  • Merits can be earned through PvP play and is used to purchase powerful ships and ammunition.
  • Cubits are the highest valued currency in the game. This currency is used to purchase cash shop items called "Boosters", as well as buying "advanced" ships, ammunition and upgrading equipments. Cubits can be purchased through the cash shop, selling water mined or accumulated over time from defeating AI and completing daily assignments (the ability to gain "cash shop currency" in-game is a feature unique to BGO).
  • Tylium is a fuel source consumed by the thrusters when you boost your ship. It is also used as the main currency for most of the in-game transactions. It can be easily obtained from mining asteroids or selling scraps looted from destroyed ships.
  • Water is a resource obtained by mining planetoids or asteroids. It has no use other than being sold for cubits.
  • Titanium is a resource obtained by mining planetoids or asteroids. It is used to repair the durability of your ship's hull and equipment modules.
Equipment and Skills
Equipment that the technician sells comes in the form of modules. There are weapon, hull, engine and computer modules for you to customise your ship with. The only limit you face is the number of slots available on your ship for each type of module. Slots that can take "Hull" modules are marked with a "H", "Computer" modules with a "C", "Engine" modules with an "E" and "Weapon" modules with a "W".
Battlestar Galactica Online - Upgrading Modules
When you want to upgrade your modules, just click on the respective "upgrade" button beneath the module. This will bring up the upgrade window as shown above. The higher you upgrade the module, the better its stats and performance will be, however the cost of tylium and cubits to do so will increase as well.

If you look closer, you will notice that the higher level upgrades of this autocannon are locked out in red. To further upgrade this autocannon, you will need to level its "Required Skill" which in this case is "Gunnery".
Battlestar Galactica Online - Character's Skills
As you can see in this photo, to upgrade your gunnery skills to level 1, you will need 500 experience points and a time of 15 minutes. Experience points can be gained from killing enemy AI ships out in space or when mining asteroids. When you have enough experience points, the button to level this skill up will appear. Just click on it, wait out for 15 minutes and you will get the skill to level 1. You do not need to stay in the game for this 15 minutes to count. As the higher skill levels require more experience points and training time, most players just aim to get enough experience points, start the leveling process and log off.

As you can only level one skill at a time, the process of skilling up in this game is pretty straining. However, with enough patience and time, you can theoretically get every single skill in this game maxed, although it would not be wise to do so. It is better to focus on a few skills and get them to high level first so that you do not gimp your character during mid to endgame play.

Battlestar Galactica Online - Mining Asteroids
To mine an asteroid for resources, you will first need a mining cannon and a Mineral Analysis Module (It occupies a "Computer" slot). Naturally, the mineral analysis module is to scan whether the targeted asteroid has any resources or not (namely, tylium, titanium or water). When the scanning is complete, the asteroid will either appear as red (contains no minerals), yellow (contains tylium), purple (contains titanium) or blue (contains water) in colour.

To extract the resource from the asteroid, you will need to destroy the asteroid. This can be done by either using your mining cannons, autocannons or missiles. I would highly recommend that you use a mining cannon for this task. Firstly, it does not require any ammunition to fire your mining cannons. Secondly, the damage done by a mining cannon on the asteroid is far more than compared to autocannons and missiles.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Planetoids
Planetoid mining is another type of mining that you would need to know. Planetoids are extremely large asteroids which may contain valuable resources in large amounts. Due to the extreme size, planetoids cannot be mined by using conventional mining cannons.

In this type of mining, you will have to scan the planetoid for resources first. If the planetoid contains a type of resource, a popup will appear asking if you want to call-in a mining ship to harvest the resource (Each call-in costs 100 cubits).

While the mining ship is harvesting the resource, it has to be defended against attacks from the opposing faction (both AI and human-controlled) as well as neutral targets (drones). If left undefended, the mining ship will eventually come under attack and be destroyed. Harvesting continues until resources are fully exhausted, after which the planetoid will explode.

There are 3 main ship categories, Light(Strike), Medium(Escort) and Heavy(Line). Each of these categories have 3 sub-categories, Interceptor, Assault and Command.

Interceptors are fast ships that have the lowest hp compared to the others. Assault ships are very slow, but they can hit hard and withstand a heavy beating. Command ships have moderate speed and average hp.
Battlestar Galactica Online - Character Info
Players initially start out with only 1 ship, but as long as they have the resources, they can own all the ship types available for their faction.

To acquire new ships:
  • Players will have to go to the system Delta Canopis (Colonial) or 47 Tartalon (Cylon).
  • Dock onto the big 'mining' planet (not the Basestar/Pegasus ship).
  • Talk to the man/lady with the coin on his/her head and click the conversation about getting a new ship.
Just be sure to bring plenty of tylium or cubits with you, cause the ships ain't CHEAP!

When you have more than one ship, you can switch between your ships by talking to the person with a coin over their heads at an outpost or hangar. Click on the conversation to change ship command and then a window will pop up to show the ships you currently own. Click the command button under the ship that you wish to switch to.
Battlestar Galactica Online - SCPO TyrolBattlestar Galactica Online - Gungnir
Battlestar Galactica Online - Ship Naming
Additionally, this same man/lady allows you to customise and upgrade your ship too (well, just slightly). Customisation of your ship is merely in the form of having an option to name your ship as well as to add a logo to your ship. Upgrading of your ship costs you cubits (almost as much as the cost of buying a new ship, almost) and only gives you a slight boost to your ship stats and the addition of 1 or 2 extra module slots.

System Jumping
Battlestar Galactica Online - Systems Map
To jump between systems, press "N" to bring up the systems map. When you left-click on a system, a description of the system will pop up. The description tells you information about how far the system is from your current one, how much tylium it will take for you to jump to the system and its threat level. The threat level indicates how "hot" the system is. The higher the threat level number, the more dangerous the system will be. However, the rewards for mining and hunting in the system will also be greater.

The "red" circle on this systems map represents the FTL jump radius of your ship. If the system you have selected falls within this circle, a "Jump" button will appear below the description. Clicking on this "Jump" button will start the countdown timer. Once this timer reaches zero, your ship will initiate the jump. Pressing "K" during countdown will cancel the jump sequence. During countdown, you will be defenseless against attacks, so be sure to choose when to jump wisely.

The amount of time needed for your ship to jump will depend on the size of your ship.
  • Strike ships have a base 'jump timer' of 15 seconds (out of combat) and 60 seconds (when in combat).
  • Escort ships have a base 'jump timer' of 20 seconds (out of combat) and 80 seconds (when in combat).
  • Line ships have a base 'jump timer' of 25 seconds (out of combat) and 100 seconds (when in combat).
  • The Pegasus and Basestar have a base 'jump timer' of 30 seconds (out of combat) and 120 seconds (when in combat). Note: For group jumps, the timer, costs and jump radius are exactly that of the leader's.
There are skills which you can learn and modules which you can equip which will lower this time. Jumping just one or two seconds faster might just be the difference between living and dying.

Most of Battlestar Galactica Online's gameplay focuses on grinding for resources to upgrade your ship and modules to reach endgame. The missions given by the Admirals will probably be what little storyline that you can look forward to in the game. Ultimately, this game is more for players who like pvp play and dogfighting in ships. Well, this game isn't too bad considering that it is a browser game, that is if you can survive the grinding.

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