Welcome back to another devblog, Starmourn! Today, we’ll be covering Archaeology. This system’s been cooking for awhile now, and we’re excited to announce that it will, at last, be available April 1st (not even an April Fool’s Joke)!
So let’s get our hands dirty and dig deep. Here’s everything you can expect from Archaeology.
All archaeological work begins in the field. To get started, you will interact with an NPC at a museum, select a celestial body to target your investigation, and assemble a team. Archaeological teams will be made up of various NPCs with a Trait and a Profession. You then travel to the wilderness entrance for the chosen celestial body, enter the separate dig site instance (having no effect on your normal wilderness instance or its cooldown), and your team will get to work unearthing fossils and fragments over the next 1-2 RL weeks.
Every so often (not more than once per RL day), a new complication will arise. The traits of your team members will determine the sort of complications that might arise over the course of the dig that your team members will want you to resolve to proceed with the dig at maximum speed and effectiveness. Skittish team members may ask that you clear the zone of mobs before they’re prepared to continue working. Posh team members may ask for a particular Furnishing or Art pattern to continue working. Design patterns which plug into archaeology this way are pulled from a list of approved designs of your own OR designs that are currently available in shop autocrafters, providing a new mechanical incentive for non-designer players to seek out the wares of designers. Since you will be able to pick and choose the traits of your team, you’ll have control over your dig site experience. Not interested in PvE? Avoid the ‘Skittish’ trait! Not interested in Cuisine or Mixology? Avoid the ‘Foodie’ trait!
Completing complications will make the dig progress more quickly overall, and will also activate the team member’s Profession bonus. At launch we have 4 professions: Intern, Supervisor, Palaeontologist, and Anthropologist. Interns are careful and cautious, providing a boost to the quality of your finds. Supervisors keep everyone on task, making the dig take less time overall. Palaeontologists specialize in fossils, improving the likelihood that your finds will be fossils, and improving your chances of finding rarer fossils. Anthropologists specialize in material culture, and thus receive bonuses like Palaeontologists, but for fragments.
Each faction has their own Museum where players can deposit the finds from their personal dig sites. At a museum, factions will be able to browse their collection and conduct Research (see below). Players with the new Curator power can exhibit items in display cases, exhibit DNA reconstructions in hardlight projections, and write informational blurbs about their exhibit.
We want factions to have full control over their museums and for them to also be persistent, mapped buildings. Curators will be able to redesign the museum’s physical space, rewriting museum room descriptions, and factions will be able, via Requests, to expand the museum if they wish to at a commodity cost.
We currently have no plans for a factionless museum, but factionless players will certainly be able to sell their finds to a faction or keep them for their own private collections.
Research and Discoveries
Archaeology will feature a free-form Research RP system. In the back rooms of Museums, players will be able to conduct research sessions on particular fossils or antiquities either alone or with others. These research sessions are completely free-form. All in-room communication commands (like emotes and says) from participants in the session are logged and, after the session ends, posted to a public Research Board.
From the Research Board, you can view the research sessions of other players in the last 30 days and upvote them for good RP or downvote sessions done in bad faith. This allows us to let players provide some first line of defense moderation if players aren’t using the system in good faith (such as starting the session, writing some gibberish, and ending it, just to get research progress for their faction’s museum). Note that we’ll be watching downvoting in particular. Downvoting is strictly to help us identify players using the mechanic in bad faith, and not to be used if you simply don’t like someone or don’t like their brand of RP. Whenever you make any vote, up or down, you will also gain a bit of extra bonus progress to your next research session, providing incentive for players to keep tabs on the research boards and vote.
Every 20 upvotes you receive, you will also gain a Kudos. A Kudos is a super powerful upvote and can only be granted to players in factions not your own. When you grant a Kudos to someone, both you and the recipient gain a powerful bonus to the discovery progress made for your next research sessions.
After enough research progress on an item within a faction, the faction will unlock a Discovery on the item, revealing more lore for this particular tidbit of a celestial body’s ancient ecology or material culture.
Note that anyone with access to the backroom of a museum will be able to conduct research for the museum, including the factionless and members of other factions. Curators will be able to control who has access to the room via Permissions.
Tying it all together
Once the conflict rework is fully assembled, Museums will comprise 1 of the 3 main pillars of a faction’s Cultural Score. “Museum Score” will be a measure of progress towards completionism in the breadth and quality of the museum’s collection, exhibition, and research.
And now, a disclaimer. We have been hard at work preparing fascinating fossils and antiquities for you to unearth across the Sector. We do intend for every celestial body with a wilderness in the game to have archaeological objects eventually, but in the interest of ensuring a high quality standard here — doubly so for racial homeworlds — we will be gradually releasing new archaeological objects into the game more piecemeal over the next year or so. Thus, at launch we will only have so many wildernesses available to target as Dig Sites.
We are also paying close attention to the number of current wildernesses in each faction’s subsector. For now, we will ensure factional wildernesses are released in equal proportions (i.e. we would not release Archaeology for the 3rd Scatterhome wilderness until we are done the Archaeology for Song and CA’s 3rd, too). But eventually, we want each factional subsector to have the same number of wildernesses overall. Archaeology for neutral celestial bodies, on the other hand, may be released at any time whenever it is ready.
That’s it, that’s all! We are terribly excited to bring this massive new system online starting April 1st. See you in the field!