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Homeworld Mod Ideas - Update = Khar'shan 24/08/16

User-centric area to discuss ideas and request mods. Toolset modders may also float ideas for new mods here; if pursued, the thread can be relocated to Mods in Development.

Homeworld Mod Ideas - Update = Khar'shan 24/08/16

Postby Sil » 18 Aug 2016, 09:53

Home Worlds Mod Idea

The idea behind this is to think up how it would be possible to show a few more of the different Home Worlds in the game. Because of the nature of the game, it will not be easy to add in different worlds, and there will be many that I cannot even attempt. But after some thought, and reusing some of the maps in multiplayer, I think it would be possible to add a few. The home worlds in Mass Effect 3 that we don’t visit are:

Dekuuna; the Elcor Home World - Added 18/08
Rakhana; the Drell Home World - Added 20/08
Kahje; the Hanar Home World
Parnack; the Yahg Home World
Suen; the Rachni Home World
Irune; the Volus Home World
Heshtok; the Vorcha Home World - Added 22/08
Turvess; the Raloi Home World
Khar’shan; the Batarian Home World - Added 24/08

To make it clear, I’m not writing up ideas for all of these! Just for those that could work with the maps that are already present in Mass Effect 3. I’ll start with the Elcor world of Dekuuna. Also to make it clear, I know enough to know that adding new missions is a ***** of a task, so I'm going into this assuming that people realise that as well.

Dekuuna: Elcor Extraction

Introduction

Spoiler:
At first when I tried thinking of an idea for this in the “Exploring Ideas from an Old Bioware Thread” I mentioned reusing the Firebase Giant map to make a mission where you fight Reaper troops and we all pretend that the map is really set on Dekuuna. I wrote it and didn’t think much of it at first.

I’ve been thinking of it a bit of this, and the more I think of it, the more I like the idea of it. The map in its current state is definitely unsuitable for Dekuuna. It’s a dirty, dusty place when Dekuuna is mentioned as being very green with lots of forests and grasslands. There are a number of things that this mission will require to give it a feeling that it is an Elcor mission, and not just a repurposed multiplayer map. The most basic list of changes to make this work:

- Re-texturing the Firebase Giant map.
- An Elcor character for radio transmissions


That is it for the most basic version of it, but I believe a more advanced set up could be done as well, to make it feel like a more important mission. The advanced list is as follows:

- Re-texturing the map
- A video that plays when entering the Dekuuna system
- An Elcor character on the ship, for brief conversation and map radio transmissions
- Datapads on the edited Firebase Giant map that paint a picture of the Reaper invasion of Dekuuna
- Bootable Loki Mechs that fight against Reapers as a side part of the mission
- Dekuuna mission is labelled on the Galaxy Map.


These would turn the mission into something far more interesting and make the Dekuuna mission feel like it is of some importance, which it should. The following is a brief list of things that, in an ideal world, could be done to make this feel even more like we’re fighting on Dekuuna:

- Reaperized Elcor as an enemy
- Elcor corpses on the map
- Elcor Warriors temporary squad mate
- Elcor Warriors shown battling in the distance
- A replaced skybox showing a forest, grassland or space port.


In this design document I’m going to separate it into three sections; “Basic”, “Advanced”, and “Impossible?”. The later documents would include all the relevant sections of the pieces before it, so that way I won’t be repeating myself at every turn. Here we go.


Basic

Spoiler:
The idea behind basic is to do the minimal amount of work to get a Dekuuna-themed level playable in Mass Effect 3. Although a modder could probably add it in without the edits I am listing, I feel they are necessary to give the map a new lease of life for the Elcor and to give it a feel that matches them and their homeworld.

As with the current ‘Dekuuna: Elcor Extraction’ assignment, this will be given by the Elcor Diplomat on the Citadel. Nothing in this section needs to change to make this a viable level, and that goes for the “Advanced” version of this, and for the “Impossible?” version. Once you’ve been given the assignment you head to the star system where Dekuuna is, you scan the planet, this is where the assignment changes. Instead of completing it ready to return it to the Elcor Diplomat, you instead enter into this cloned version of the Firebase Giant Night map. But before we can go into that, things need to be changed in this map.

Firebase Giant Converted into Dekuuna

From now on, the assumption is that the Firebase Giant map can be ripped from the game and then put in under a new name and location, effectively rendering it as a separate map from the original, allowing both to sit in the game simultaneously. This also assumes that the map itself, once exported from the game, could have its textures locations altered, so that it can use new textures.

To make this feel like Dekuuna portions of the map will need to be edited, as at the moment it feels too much like Tuchunka that we would be fighting over. Tuchunka is dirty, but I feel that if the textures for this Dekunna level are clean, then that will go some way towards giving the map a different feel. Although I feel it is overused in the game at times, the clean feel of Citadel space might actually work well for this place. The Elcor feel like they are tied to tradition when it comes to things like their cities and migratory habits, but I expect when it comes to space defence, their allies in the Citadel are more likely to be involved, notably the Asari who uplifted them (sort of).

Many of these textures needed for the map could be taken from other places and edited to work with the new level. I’ve modded other games, primarily Warcraft 3 and Dawn of War, as well as a little bit of Total War modding, and I’m always amazed by how a texture edit can alter the look and feel of something. Texture edits are amazing things, and if a clean/crisp look is brought into this level then it will have a new feel to the place, and that in turn will help reinforce that this isn’t a level that was for Tuchunka, but is now a level on another planet. It is likely that some brand new textures would be needed, I’m thinking especially for the giant space defence cannon, but that wouldn’t be the end of the world and a talented artist could do that. There are many out there, after all.

Also you need to decide just which version of Firebase Giant should be used. I am of the opinion that to hone in that the map isn’t the same as Tuchunka, I’d go for the night-time version that was added to Mass Effect 3 in the Retaliation MP expansion, as the map at night will make it feel that little bit more separate from the Tuchunka singleplayer level.

Enemies

The obvious enemies for this map are the Reapers. The whole point of the assignment is to help Elcor warriors and people flee survive the reaper invasion on transport ships, so the Reapers are the obvious enemies to face. I would suggest that the units they use are Husks, Cannibals, Marauders, Ravagers, and Brutes. I’d leave Banshee’s out of this one, personally.

As this will just be a standard “blast’em and win” level, there is little need to do anything special with these. Just throw the enemy at Shepherd and team, and let him kick their arse.

Radio Messages

Having Shepherd fighting on a map and claiming it is a Dekuuna Space Defence Cannon is all well and good, but regardless of all the texture changes it still won’t have the Elcor feel. The proportions of the map are still more suited to the standard humanoids of Mass Effect, and there is nothing that really screams out that this is an Elcor planet. So to reinforce that we are fighting on one, something is needed. In my opinion the best option is to have dialogue of the rescue effort being broadcast over the radio as you fight.

For this, I feel there is a need to have two to three voices talking over the comms, with the Normandy patching into their comms so Shepherd can know the state of the evacuation. At the beginning of the level, if one can be found, a sentence by EDI or Joker saying that they are patching Shepherd into the comms would be great. This won’t help make it feel like an Elcor level, but it’ll make it feel more like the level belongs in the game. I would suggest 3-5 brief conversations/single sentences over the course of the mission.

It should be noted that this is the extinction of their homeworld and a desperate attempt to save as many people as can be saved. The messages should be dramatic, possibly displaying grief in this rather neutral sounding people. Here is an example script:

Radio Message 1:

Joker/EDI = “Patching you into their comms, Shepherd.”
Elcor 1 = “Pensive, what is the condition of our transports?”
Elcor 2 = “Anxious, we have lost fewer than we expected in our descent. Hopeful, Defence Cannons are being re-captured.”
Elcor 1 = “Emboldened, we await your arrival.”


Radio Message 2:

Elcor 2 = Concerned, Husks approaching your position on the northern fronts, re-position Warriors to intercept.
Elcor 1 = Tense, Warriors and Mech Reinforcements intercepting the northern assault. Prying, will more transports be inbound? Worried, There are not enough for our refugees.
Elcor 2 = Appeasing, remain calm. More transports will be available soon.
Elcor 1 = Fearful, be quick.


Radio Message 3:

Elcor 2 = “Elated, Many extractions successful from outer limits, re-directing dropships to your location.
Elcor 1 = “Hopeful, we feared there were no more transports. Caution, the husks are breaching our defences.
Elcor 2 = “Reassuring, we bring reinforcements. Calm, your defences will be stable again
Elcor 1 = ”Relief, we may yet survive.”


Radio Message 4:

Elcor 1 = “Fretful, where are our reinforcements? Anxious, we cannot hold much longer.”
Elcor 2 = “Stubborn, we are coming but the landing zone is more dangerous now. Tense, we have lost sixty percent of our defence cannons to the Reapers.”
Elcor 1 = “Fearful, you must come, you are our only hope. Desperate, there are too many young still with us.”
Elcor 2 = *Pause* “Resignation, we will do all we can.”


Radio Message 5:

Elcor 2 = *Pause* “Deep remorse, Reapers in bound to your position, we must withdraw. We are sorry.”
Elcor 1 = *Social niceties thrown out the window, obvious terror in his voice* “You cannot leave the young behind, you cann—” *the radio goes silent*
Elcor 2 = *Grief evident in voice, extra o’s to highlight how the word is drawn out.* “Nooo.”
Elcor 2 = *Pause* “With deep grief, this capital is lost, let us re-deploy to the other. Forlorn, we may save more of our people there.”
Shepherd = “Joker/EDI, send us a shuttle, we’re done here.”
Joker/EDI = “On its way.”


Once the final radio message happens, the mission either ends, or a shuttle comes down and you have to fight to it to end the level. All in all, it’s finished.

How to Win

I imagine the level as a holding mission, you keep fighting the Reapers for as long as you can until the radio makes it clear that the Elcor Extraction is complete. At which point Shepherd gets to the evacuation point and heads off in the shuttle.

What happens next? Well, sod all really. You go back to the Citadel and you speak to the Elcor Diplomat, who ends the assignment as he did in the original game. This is the basic version of the Elcor mission, and in truth it should be more than good enough for most people. It’s still a new mission, it’s got some Elcor content, and it makes one of the assignments more than it used to be and more like an old Mass Effect 1 or 2 level. All in all, it is all good.


Advanced

Spoiler:
The basic version of this map would be all well and good, if it went entirely to plan it would be adequate for what it is showing. I’d say that adequate is not good enough and it needs to be much better. The advanced section of this goes into that, and this is where things get much more difficult to implement for a potential modder (not that it wasn’t difficult already!).

Mission Beginning and Dialogue

So, how does this one begin? Exactly the same way as the Basic version; you start on the Citadel talking to the Elcor Diplomat who requests that you save as many of his people as you can. So, as any good galaxy-saving-spectre would do, you immediately leave the Citadel and head out into the galaxy. This is where things start to change. The first change is that on the main galaxy overview on the Galaxy Map there is a label pointing out where the Dekuuna level is, much like how the various N7 and Priority Missions are shown. This should make it obvious to a player that the mission is not as it once was, that it is now ‘important’ because it involves you doing more than just scanning a planet.

So, once you see it you head into the star system and arrive at the planet (which has also been marked out, much like other missions), this is where it changes more dramatically. A video is played that shows the Normandy approaching the Elcor Flotilla. I’ve seen new space based videos being handled for some of the ending mods, so I know it is doable. It doesn’t need to be some fancy new spacecraft, there are ships already in the game could be used to represent the fleet. The Elcor Flotilla is listed as a War Asset and is found at Dekuuna’s moon Oltan, so this could be shown in the background as the ships approach one another. Although the Elcor Flotilla War Asset remains, I am of the opinion that it should not be discovered through scanning as in vanilla, but instead given once the mission is completed.

Over the comms, an Elcor requests to board the Normandy, and the request is accepted (Even the Renegade option would be a reluctant yes, rather than a no). Here is an example of how the conversation could go:

*Normandy approaches the Elcor Flotilla, we see Shepherd standing in the cockpit with Joker, a view showing both of them from the front, the kind of shot often seen in the game. EDI is also in the cockpit*

Joker: “Receiving radio message, Commander.”
Shepherd: “Patch us through.”
Joker: “Done.”
Elcor Captain: “Ecstatic, this is the Captain of the Elcor Carrier Ekuna, we were told that the Normandy would come to our aid but we did not believe it. Mindful, we want to send an operative to your vessel to help with the extraction, would this be acceptable?”
Paragon Response: “Our allies are welcome on the Normandy, send a shuttle.”
Renegade Response: “If we must, send a shuttle.”
Elcor Captain: “Relieved, you have our thanks, Commander Shepherd, he will be aboard within the hour.”

*End of radio transmission*

Shepherd: “EDI, I will meet the Elcor in the War Room.”
EDI: “Yes, Commander.”

*Shepherd walks off, and it cuts to black*


What happens then is that we go to the War Room and there is a brief discussion with the Elcor from the Flotilla about keeping the defence cannons going to help the evacuation to succeed. Shepherd agrees to help keep them online by going down there himself with his team. Here is how the conversation could go:

Elcor Operative: “Awed, this is an impressive vessel but very small.”
Shepherd: “This ship was built designed for humans.”
Elcor Operative: “Agreement, it shows, but you have many aliens on board.”
Shepherd: “At a time like this, we need all the allies we can get.”
Elcor Operative: “Regretful, we would love to discuss the Normandy at greater length, but we must put the mission first.”
Shepherd: “Of course.”
Elcor Operative: “Inquiry, what would you like to know?”


This leads to an ‘Investigate’ option with a few branching paths, and a ‘I should go’ option to end the conversation.

Investigate Option 1 = The Mission
Shepherd: “Tell me about the mission.”
Elcor Operative: “Obliging, we are hoping to evacuate as many of our people as we can, our capital cities are surrounded by defence cannons but they are under attack by reaper husks.”
Shepherd: “The loss of those cannons would spell an end to the evacuation?”
Elcor Operative: “Calm recognition, yes, the evacuation rests entirely on our defence network. Forthcoming, we need your team to protect one of these cannons during the evacuation.”
Shepherd: “We can do that.”


Investigate Option 2 = The Enemy
Shepherd: “What will we be facing on Dekuuna?”
Elcor Operative: “Tense, the Reapers have deployed their husks against us. Inquisitive, you have fought these?”
Shepherd: “Too often for my liking.”
Elcor Operative: “Acknowledgement, then you are well suited for this mission.”


Investigate Option 3 = Support
Shepherd: “Will we have support on the ground?”
Elcor Operative: “Regret, our warriors will be fighting to protect Dekuuna. Slight hope, there may be others at the cannon who will fight at your side, and our defence network has mechs to defend them from intruders.”
Shepherd: “What capabilities do the mechs have?”
Elcor Operatives: “Admission, few, but they powered by more advanced VI than the standard Loki Mechs. Often they fight alongside our warriors, they will not be useless to you.”


Investigate Option 4 = Gravity
Shepherd: “I heard that Dekuuna has heavier gravity than most Council worlds.”
Elcor Operative: “Agreement, that is true, it is too much for many aliens in Council space to live on comfortably.”
Shepherd: “Will it affect the mission?”
Elcor Operative: “Enlightening, no, your mass effect fields should protect you and your team from the worst of it.”


I Should Go Option
Shepherd: “Thank you for the intel.”
Elcor Operative: “Trusting, good luck Commander Shepherd.”


After this brief conversation you can talk again to the Elcor from the Flotilla, who will then give an ambient piece of dialogue:

Elcor Operative: “Explanatory, the sooner we begin the extraction, the more families that will be saved.


The Elcor from the Flotilla will need a new voice for all of this, so to make it clear, a new voice actor is necessary, but the Elcor Operative would share the same voice as Elcor 2 on the radio from the basic version.

The Battle for Dekuuna

Well, as has been mentioned already, the map would’ve been re-textured and this would use the same one.

So you’re heading to the landing zone now, the Shuttle then lands, and the battle begins… and it plays out pretty much the same way as it did in the Basic version. You still fight the same type of Reaper units, you still have to hold them for a certain length of time until the evacuation has finished. There are differences though, things to find on the map to encourage you to keep moving rather than holding a safe zone on the map. The first is the aforementioned Loki Mechs.

Scattered throughout the base are pairs of Loki Mechs that can be activated, there are three pairs in total. Each time you activate a pair of them, you gain 100xp and they will fight independently of your control. Once you activate the lot of them, you get a radio transmission from the Elcor on the Normandy, nothing fancy just him thanking you for improving the security of the cannon. If it is not possible to have the Loki Mech’s doing this, then I would suggest instead using the Rampart Mechs from the Omega DLC, although that means this level would require that DLC to run.

First Activation = Elcor Operative: “Pleased, the Mechs have not been damaged, activating them all will help us to hold the defence cannon.”
Second Activation = Elcor Operative: “Instructive, there should be another pair in the vicinity to activate.”
Third Activation = Elcor Operative: “Relief, the Reapers will struggle to take the cannon now.”


The second thing to look for during the mission is a Datapad which will contain more information on how the reaper war is taking its toll on Dekuuna, but will also highlight the location of a battalion of Elcor warriors awaiting extraction. Once Shepherd locates it, and the player has read it, Shepherd will make a comment along the lines of “EDI, upload this to the Normandy”, and the Elcor on the Normandy will comment on it and thank Shepherd for the information.

The third, and final, thing to find is to upload updated targeting code into the cannon. This is basically just finding the main console and pressing A (or the keyboard/mouse equivalent, I dunno, I use the SP Controller mod!). All this needs is a comment from Shepherd or EDI about something being uploaded, a generic comment, and then the Elcor character can say something in response. Something like:

EDI: “New targeting parameters uploaded.”
Elcor Operative: “Tense, let us hope it shall slow the Reaper advance.”


That will improve the amount of assets provided by the Elcor Flotilla, as more of the rescue shuttles will succeed.

Completion and Rewards

Once these have been done, or you’ve fought the Reapers for long enough, the mission will end and a shuttle will pick you up. There isn’t anymore dialogue and it all comes to a close, you then need to return the mission to the Elcor Diplomat on the Citadel, and it will end as it ever did. The only real difference is to the War Assets you get, as mentioned earlier the Elcor Flotilla is no longer given by scanning but as a reward for completing this assignment. Also, depending upon what you picked up in the level, more assets are added:

If Loki Mechs were all activated:
Elcor Flotilla Update
Military Strength:
+5

“UPDATED: Elcor troops are accompanied by squads of mechs that link in to the VI running their weaponry.”


If Datapad was located:
Elcor Battalion
Military Strength:
+15

“Elcor Warriors carry shoulder-mounted heavy weapons with VI-run systems that handle reloading, targeting, and ammunition selection. These heavy troops are being redeployed to some of the worst warzones providing necessary support for infantry units.”


If new targeting parameters were uploaded:
Elcor Flotilla Update
Military Strength:
+10

“UPDATED: Improved targeting from the defence network led to fewer transports being destroyed during the extraction, freeing these up to carry troops to Reaper-infested territories.”


Impossible?

Spoiler:
The following section details further things that, in an ideal and perfect world, could be done to make the level feel far more like the Elcor homeworld than it does. There is a chance that some of these are actually possible to do, but I highly doubt it. I’m mostly throwing these in there for the sake of completion. So, without further ado, let’s begin:

A Map Suiting Elcor Proportions

At the moment the map doesn’t seem big enough to be designed for the Elcor to comfortably move around, so the suggestion here is to edit the map file itself to enlarge it. I think an increase to the size of the map by 20% would give the correct feel to the place, it would make the doors much bigger so it would feel like it makes sense for an Elcor to walk through them.

However, something like this wouldn’t be as easy as just expanding it by changing a few stats, it’d require hard work to make it all work right. Then you’d also have to make sure not to increase the size of the cannon so it doesn’t look overly large, cover would need to be edited as would pathing. There is an awful lot that would need to be changed to do this correctly. Unless someone out there is very patient and is skilled at editing the 3D models and the pathwork used by the game then this won’t be happening.

Elcor Corpses

Something else that would give the map the feel of an Elcor base is corpses of the Elcor that worked there. I do not think there is a single instance in the entire game series where we see a dead Elcor, so that means a new model would have to be made (likely with a new texture). I’m not certain if that would then have to be added directly to the map file model, or if it could be spawned, but it would likely be too much for a modder to bother with. I can’t see it happening.

Reaperized Elcor

You’ve no idea how much I’d love to see this! But there are so many problems with it. Enemies in Mass Effect seem to be impacted by ragdoll physics (I could be wrong, but it does seem to be something they use), but I do not think that the Elcor model would be rigged for that. Then there is the problem of a severe lack of animations, (again, unless I’m mistaken) meaning that there is no attack animation, no death animations, etc. Which are essential to turn their model into an enemy. If it doesn’t have the right animations then someone very skilled would need to create the animations which I just cannot see happening.

The only part of this that is actually do-able is to re-texture the Elcor to look huskified. This one is definitely doable, even with its current model, a reaperized texture would still look awesome and would work well. It’s amazing how much a re-texture can change something if done right.

The problem lies with the rest of the model, and for that reason I can’t see it happening. Which is a massive shame, as fighting Reaperized Elcor on the map would be a perfect way of giving it the feel of being on Dekuuna.

Elcor Squad-Mate

Considering no-one has added a new squad mate to the game, even a temporary one, I am saying this just isn’t possible yet. It would be awesome, but even beyond the fact that there isn’t the ability to add a new squad mate, there is a lot that goes against it. Lack of animations, the need for a brand new model of an armoured Elcor with a VI controlled gun on his back, and the testing necessary to make him a fair combatant would all render him even more unlikely to be added. A big shame, I think, but acceptable to accept its a lost cause.

Elcor Warriors Fighting in the Distance

This has many of the same troubles as the above idea, although they wouldn’t need animations for movement, we’d just need to see their guns firing and they’d need new models wearing armour. I can’t see it happening, but it’s nice to dream.

Editing the Skybox and Adding a Reaper

I think editing the skybox may actually be possible (if the games use it) as it would be a texture change, but if the night time version of the map is being used then maybe it is not even worth doing, as you don’t see too far at night. The reaper bit I think would be great though, having one moving about in the background, occasionally firing its weapon off or making a bit of noise. If it would have to be added to the 3d asset of the map then I doubt it’ll happen, but if it can be spawned in game (I’m assuming it can), then I think it would be possible!

Surface Gravity

The Elcor Home World has a surface gravity 4x that of Earth. I think I’ve read that Mass Effect fields can be used to simulate gravity or to reduce the effects of it, but I think it’d be interesting if Shepherd and team had a harder time of it on the surface because of the increased gravitational fields. If his motion was sluggish because of it, making his battle even more difficult that it normally would be. I wouldn’t be surprised if Reaper troops are adapted to better fight across different worlds, but Shepherd is human and his tech may only go a certain way towards helping.

If it is at all possible, which I don’t know, to be honest, I would suggest having Shepherd’s movements reduced by about 20%, to give the player the feeling that they are struggling to move because of the gravitational pull but with Reaper enemies moving at their usual speeds. It could create a very difficult level, but I love the idea of it.


That’s it for my ideas for how to make Dekuuna a playable level in Mass Effect 3. Though it would be amazing to have gravity playing a greater role on the map, having Elcor Warriors in the background and fighting reaperized Elcor on the map, it’d be just as amazing to just get to fight on a standard version of the map and pretend it is Dekuuna. The more I think of this, the more I feel it would be doable in its most basic form.

Next up on the list is Rakhana. Which shocked me as I didn’t think it’d be viable until I wrote the Dekuuna idea and a spark ignited!


Rakhana: Drell Exodus

Introduction

Spoiler:
Unlike Dekuuna there is no assignment or mission in the game for Rakhana that can be expanded to include a new map. This would require a brand new assignment, which may put off prospective modders who do not want to change the lore of the game or the extra work involved in adding an assignment. I guess I see the addition of this as enhancing the game rather than damaging the lore, but I’m really going to try hard to make it fit in and work. For those who do not know the lore of the planet, here it is for you from the Codex:

“The drell homeworld of Rakhana once teemed with life, its arid plains home to spectacular insect and reptile analogues. But the drell took to industrialisation early and did not realise the extent of the environmental damage they caused until it was too late. With their topsoil depleted and oceans too acidic to sustain life, the drell were situated for a massive population crash by 2025 CE.

It was then the hanar stepped in mounting a large-scale rescue operation to bring drell to the hanar homeworld of Kahje. As wars erupted over what resources remained on Rakhana and billions began to die, approximately 375,000 drell escaped in the exodus. To repay their debt, the drell entered into an agreement with the hanar. Called the Compact, it states that the drell would assist the hanar with tasks the hanar cannot physically perform. Today, high-ranking hanar are often inseparable from their drell attendants.”


Here is another description:

“Rakhana is a dry and barren planet covered in rocky deserts. Eight centuries ago, the already-arid drell home world began its swift descent into lifelessness due to disastroud industrial expansion. The drell lacked interstellar flight capacity, and with their population bursting at 11 billion they faced certain doom. Fortunately, the hanar made first contact with the drell around 2000 CE, and over the following decade they evacuated thousands of drell to their own homeworld, Kahje. The remaining billions left on Rakhana gradually perished on their dying planet, warring against each other for diminishing resources. Today, Rakhana is a cemetery world, home to only a few thousand drell living in clusters never exceeding a few hundred; during pilgrimage season the population can double.”


As can be seen, the world is pretty much dead and doomed. A sad fate but it cannot be helped. However, the fact that the planet is in such a dire position actually makes it a candidate for the use of a multiplayer map. The map I feel could be used is the sandstorm variant of the Firebase Dagger level. The sandstorm helps to mask that it is the same map as the N7 mission on Ontarum elsewhere in the game, and with some work could be made to look more separate from the original map. Much like in the previous Dekuuna level idea, I’m splitting this into three sections; “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Impossible?”. Unlike Dekuuna it will require more work to make playable. The Basic version follows:

- A Hanar Mission Giver, including new voice acting
- Re-texturing the Firebase Dagger map.
- Adding the star system it is in to the game, and sign-posting the mission on Galaxy Map
- An objective on the map to reach


These additions would be enough to make a mission. It wouldn’t be the most exciting or inclusive way of doing it, but it would be enough. The more advanced version would make the level fit closer to the standards of Mass Effect. Here are the things I think are necessary to make the map suit those standards:

- A Drell on the Normandy as a source for drell information and radio contact on Rakhana
- A Shuttle scene
- Ancient datapads/hackable computers giving information on the original fall of Rakhana
- Wall Safes, that kinda thing, that can give the player some additional money


If all of those were added, the mission would feel as if it truly belonged in the game and would sit happily beside all the other side missions. But there is always more that could possibly, theoretically be done, so here are those ideas:

- Reaperized Drell
- Drell temporary Squad Mate using the Drell from the Advanced version who is on Normandy


Surprisingly few ideas that seem to fit the Impossible? category but I think thats all that is really needed for such a thing. Some may ask why would this be needed in the game? Well, I think many of the ‘smaller’ races got pretty shafted in terms of content; Elcor, Hanar, Drell, Volus, all of them barely had a place in the third game so I like the idea of boosting their content just a little. The Dekuuna level improves the Elcor, and this would improve Hanar and Drell content.

Here’s a note regarding this level, I really tried to write for the Drell but I just couldn’t get those spoken memories to sound right, so I’ve cut them from this design. Sorry about that. Anyway, without further ado, here goes for Rakhana:


Basic

Spoiler:
There needs to be a reason for going to Rakhana beyond just “it’ll be cool!”, which it would be cool, but anyway, there does need to be a reason. It needs to suit the tone of Mass Effect 3, it needs to make sense from a story perspective, and frankly it needs to feel as if it isn’t just tacked in to the game for no reason. Rakhana is close to being a cemetery world; its cities are destroyed, its ecosystem shattered, its population is listed in the thousands rather than the millions and its seas are too acidic to support life. There isn’t much here worth fighting over, but then, we’re playing a game where galactic extinction is the scenario.

The Mission

It makes sense that the mission would be similar to the one I discussed for Dekuuna. A Hanar and his Drell assistant approaches Shepherd with what it considers to be an urgent mission, but this is not on behalf of Kahje and the Hanar but for his much-loved Drell attendant. It’s quite clear from the various bits of lore that the two races have become very closely entwined since the drell were rescued from Rakhana, so I feel this will work. The Drell wants to rescue those thousands of his kind still living on the dying world, and it is only a matter of time before they are wiped off of the face of Rakhana by the Reapers. The Hanar were willing to go along with the plan, but they need someone to go down to the surface to reactivate an old communications hub. That way, word can be sent to the various communities on the surface of the planet to let them know that aid is coming. Shepherd can decline the mission, but that results in the player being unable to travel to the planet, or he can accept it and carry on.

So what happens now? Well, Shepherd eventually hops back into the Normandy and goes to the Galaxy Map. This is when he sees a label pointing to the star system containing Rakhana, to make it feel that little bit more like a proper side mission rather than the usual scanning assignments. The player goes to the planet and the mission loads up, yay.

There is one thing that needs to be addressed, and I think that is when should the mission take place. Whenever it is put into the game, it needs to make sense. If it is before the mission Citadel: Hanar Diplomat, then the conversation would be best to make it clear that Kahje hasn’t fallen or had much Reaper interaction beyond what is already mentioned ingame. It could also work if Kahje has been successfully defended in the Hanar Diplomat mission, showing that the Hanar are perhaps wanting to make up for one of their own almost causing the extinction of the Drell. If the Reapers have wiped out Kahje, I don’t think that saving a few backward drell on Rakhana will be top of priorities for the hanar survivors, but on the other hand, maybe that makes it all the more vital in the hopes of saving the drell species from total extinction.

Just as a note, though it probably goes without saying, there would be a lot of work to get this beginning part working. Not only is new voice acting required of a decent audio quality, but there is camera work that is needed, faceFX needed to animate the Drell and Shepherd when they talk, and Shepherd needs to have responses that match the conversation (though I’m guessing many generic question responses would work here). It won’t be easy to add, but it’s doable.

Firebase Dagger converted into Rakhana

Much like with the Dekuuna level, this assumes it is possible to export a map from the game, alter the filepath of the textures assigned to it, and to reinsert it into the game as a new map alongside the original Firebase Dagger and Firebase Dagger (Sandstorm).

I’ve made mention before that textures have great power to change the appearance of something, if handled rightly textures can have wondrous effects and turn one object into something completely different, if they handled correctly. The original Firebase Dagger has a comm network up which is quite modern in looks, which suits it perfectly well. However, this mission is set close to 200 years after the civilisation on Rakhana has fallen, it has been without much maintenance in all those years, except perhaps for some visits by Drell on pilgrimage. It’s a desolate, dusty, dirty world and the map needs to be re-textured to better represent this. It’s almost a reverse of the scenario presented in the Dekuuna map, where that one needed to change from dirty and rusty to clean and crisp, so this one needs to do the reverse.

The version of Firebase Dagger that would be best to use is the Sandstorm version. That is because the sandstorm helps cover the fact that it is the same map as the one shown on Ontarom. Not only that but the sandstorm variant is only used in Multiplayer currently, so it would be nice to see it in the Singleplayer campaign. With the re-texture work and the sandstorm it sound feel wholly different to Ontarom which is the best we can hope for.

An Objective and the Enemy

The map needs an objective and enemies to gun down as you try and reach for it. I think the enemy have to be the Reapers, they make the most sense considering the nature of the mission. As this should be early in the game, I think the enemies should mostly consist of Husks, Marauders and potentially Ravagers.

The objective is quite easy, Shepherd goes to a few consoles in different places, each one helping to bring the comm station back online. Once you’ve activated all 5 of them, then you leave. Mission done and dusted. Nothing too fancy, but should be difficult enough for the player to justify including it in the game.

Once you’ve completed the objective, you return to the Citadel where you talk to the Hanar and the Drell. They thank Shepherd for his work and mention that a few thousand were saved before the Reapers bombarded the planet from orbit. They don’t believe anyone else on the surface survived, but will return to check once the Reapers have moved on. Shepherd gets a War Asset themed around the Drell, perhaps, and that’s that. Done.

Rejecting, or Ignoring the Mission

I don’t think much needs to be added to this to explain what happens should you choose not to do the mission, all that is needed is a brief email from the Alliance News Network which has the Hanar claiming that the few population centres on Rakhana have been bombarded from orbit and there appear to be no survivors.

As with the Dekuuna mission, this Rakhana level is a basic version of it. It’s adequate but far from perfect, but the Advanced section is dealing with making it fit the theme that much better.


Advanced

Spoiler:
In the basic section we got the initial layout of the level, which was great, it’s a simple level but it gives us the feeling we’re visiting another home world which is what a lot of us want to do. With this advanced section I want to make the level feel more like it is a true mission from Mass Effect 3 and to improve the content within the level to make it feel more like the Drell home-world rather than just a desert map with a sandstorm on it.

Drell on the Normandy

The beginning of the mission is exactly the same, except for one point; the Hanar requests that his drell attendant travels with you to help the mission. If the mission is accepted, the drell goes too. He stands around in the War Room, and you can talk to him. He will give some knowledge of the drell and about Rakhana to the player. Most of this information can be gleaned from stuff that Thane says in Mass Effect 2, or from the Codex.

His content will not only be limited to being someone to chat to on the Normandy, but he will also give radio updates as you play through the mission. Commenting on each step to power up the station, as well as the datapads found by Shepherd. When the mission is over, the Drell will remain on the Normandy until you complete the assignment by speaking to the Hanar on the Citadel.

Transport

This would see a shuttle added to the mission, and much like on the Dekuuna mission, it would have the Drell on the Normandy running through what needs to be done on Rakhana. It wouldn’t need much more than that, but the simple act that there is a conversation on a shuttle would help make the level feel more authentic when you consider how many of those conversations are found in the main game.

There would not need to be a conversation on extraction. The Drell can just make a comment about the mission being successful and to evacuate. Nothing more needs to be added.

The Fall of Rakhana

The comm station that you are fighting to activate is old, a relic from the days of the Rakhana’s terrible war that wiped out billions of its inhabitants and ruined the ecosystem of their planet. Scattered around the base should be information about this terrible time, at first I thought it should be text based but after giving it some thought I think that instead it should be transcribed memory recordings by someone who survived the destruction. For reference on those, I’d suggest talking to Thane in ME2, or watching videos of his content.

If Shepherd locates all of these, then there is a message sent by the Drell over the radio thanking him for finding it. There could also be an email from the Alliance News Network which runs a story about the transcribed drell memories selling well on the extranet, with the proceeds going towards rehousing the refugees of Rakhana.

Wallsafes

The usual finding of safes should be here too, maybe instead of safes it could be relics or cupboards or god knows, there could be something around to hack and get money from.

Once Shepherd has done all he needs to do, the objectives being the same as the Basic version, then he returns to the ship. The Drell remains on board until Shepherd talks to the Hanar on the Citadel and the conversation there carries on exactly the same as I mentioned earlier. The End.


Impossible?

Spoiler:
I actually couldn’t think of many things to add here to make the mission even better, but the ones I have I think would really improve the quality and feel of the map. The problem is that they are likely not too possible, but hey, it’s fun to dream.

Drell Temporary Squad Mate

Unlike the previously discussed Elcor Squad Mate, this one has the animation, model, and abilities to actually be possible. The problem lies entirely with the fact that modders have yet to crack how to add one into the game. Which is a shame, as the Drell who is on the Normandy could’ve made for a fun temporary squad mate for this mission.

Reaperized Drell

I think this may actually be possible. In the Expanded Galaxy Mod thread I asked whether an enemy model can be changed depending upon the map it is in, and I was told it could, but brand new enemies couldn’t be added to the game. This means that with the right model, and the right enemy to replace, you could have new ‘enemies’ using the stats, weapons and abilities of an old one. The problem is that there are no Drell Reaper models in the game.

Well, it turns out it’s not too big a problem after all. What have I said throughout all of this? Textures can do amazing things, and a clever re-texture of the Drell model would produce a very ugly looking huskified version of the model. Which would be perfect! Then, all that needs to be done is to find an enemy unit that it would be suitable to replace, I volunteer the Marauder as they appear to share the same animation file and the Marauder is the only Reaper enemy that uses a gun that isn’t melded into its form. Voila! We have Reaperized Drell to fight on the Drell home world. Awesome! It might not have drell-like abilities, but at least it looks like one.


So yeah, that’s it for my Rakhana level. It’s not awe-inspiring, but it’s a lot more fun than not having one at all. Next up is... I don't know yet. I guess we'll see when they are written up.
Last edited by Sil on 07 Nov 2016, 10:44, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Homeworld Mod Idea

Postby Sil » 22 Aug 2016, 16:14

Heshtok: Void Devils

Introduction

Spoiler:
I’ve surprised myself again by looking hard at the Firebase Maps and for some reason picking a planet that I never expected to do, or in truth, didn’t want to do. Who the hell would want to go to Heshtok? For those very few who don’t know what the planet is, here is the description:


“A Systems Alliance official once summarised his tour of the vorcha homeworld as follows: ‘You can make your own Heshtok in two steps: take hell, then add vorcha.” The planet is highly volcanically active, leading to periodic releases of toxic gases into the air and water supplies, as well as other extreme situations that gave rise to the vorcha’s legendary adaptability. Overcrowding and extermination of most of their ecology led to a planet covered in weeds and hardy vermin.

The vorcha do not have a recognised single government that would allow them membership in any galactic league. Alliances between bloodlines are tenuous at best, and the vorcha’s short, violent lives ensure there are few lasting institutions.

The Reaper invasion of Heshtok encountered little formal military resistance, but the harvesting process is slow. Destroying neighbouring cities fails to intimidate vorcha, who become submissive only if physically dominated in person. Cutting off their water supply simply makes them adapt their bodies to get moisture from food. Allied intelligence hypothesises that Reaper forces are not harvesting yet, instead seeking to immobilise Heshtok’s population and prevent them from joining the fight for the galaxy at large.”


That’d probably explain why no-one would really want to go there, except for the fact that the Reapers seem to actually be worried about the vorcha since they’re desperately working to contain them on their home-world. This seems to imply that they could be of great benefit to the galaxy in this war, if they are utilised correctly. This is also shown in some war assets, most notably the Void Devils Fighter Unit. For those who haven’t seen it, this is it:

“The Void Devils are a recent military creation consisting of vorcha fighter pilots trained by human and turian mentors. Though uniformly young by other species’ standards, the Devils have laser-like focus on the task of taking out enemy ships. Courageous in the extreme, they are also notably disciplined for vorcha. During the invasion of their homeworld, the Devils fought hard but ultimately obeyed the order to retreat while the wing was still intact, leaving them alive but burning for revenge.”


This shows that the vorcha can work alongside the other races and be trained to be… well, to be useful. However, there is even more evidence to be found at Parasc:

“A lifeless desert, Parasc was colonised soon after first contact with the vorcha. Several asari mining corporations, working with an siari-based charity called Mind and Hand, build settlements on the planet’s surface and orbital stations. Adopting vorcha orphans from Heshtok, they raised them to live nonviolent lives and employed them in the mining industry.

While Mind and Hand’s efforts were first labeled colonialist, the orphans became minor celebrities when it was discovered that the vorcha habit of using violence to communicate was not completely innate. Several spoke throughout Citadel space on behalf of their species, but their short life spans kept their careers very brief. Even today, companies that want vorcha labour have the poor choice between adopting and educating as youngsters, just to watch them age and die or dealing with autonomous but violent adults.

The Reaper invasion devastated Parasc. Its industrial capacity was ruthlessly targeted, and the vorcha mining communities were exterminated. The only silver lining is that the deaths here have created martyrs, inspiring other alien-raised vorcha to fight for their galaxy.”


Out of the levels I’ve looked at so far, Heshtok is the only one so far that has presented me with more than one option for a level, which is somewhat frustrating as I’ve had to think long and hard about which one I’d approach as being a level in the game. These are Firebase White (Whiteout Hazard) and Firebase Ghost (Acid Rain Hazard), both I believe have the potential to work for Heshtok with significant texture changes. Firebase White would work because of the Void Devil’s War Asset, which gives a modder a way to make the new level work within the lore of the game, but Firebase Ghost would work great to represent one of the vorcha cities under siege, with the acid rain suiting such a volcanically active and polluted planet.

The idea for the Firebase Ghost (Acid Rain Hazard) was going to involve vorcha who have been raised by asari in some way, to present the player with a different view of them, but ultimately I’ve decided to use the Firebase White level as it could tie in nicely to the Void Devils. I don’t need to say it, but obviously I will, but the map would need extensive texture work to suit this place. I’ll get into that later though.

As ever, the idea is to have a “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Impossible?” section, and here are the lists explaining each:

Basic

- Set up for a mission
- Re-texturing the map (essential)
- Adding a tag to the galaxy map to show where the mission is
- Adding the map to the game
- Vorcha enemies


Advanced

- Datapads detailing Void Devil training
- Follow-up Spectre Terminal message
- War Assets


Impossible?

- Void Devil Fighters circling overhead


Basic

Spoiler:
So, Heshtok, a hellhole. This is presenting the most basic version of a level being added to represent the vorcha home world. The thing is, I doubt this place is high on the list of priorities of players to even want to visit, but saying that, we’ve visited over places in Mass Effect that weren’t too welcoming and enjoyed it, so maybe people would enjoy this as well.

Mission Set Up

All assignments need a set-up, but this place is in a similar situation to Rakhana because it has no in-game assignment to be linked to. The difference here is that at least the place has war assets to justify its inclusion. I’ve mentioned that the Void Devils are that war asset, so we’ll be running with that as the method of adding it in, the problem is deciding why exactly Shepherd is needed to pick them up.

The idea I have to provide a reason to go there is that the main base for vorcha training is under attack. This time it is not the Reapers, nor is it Cerberus or the Geth, but I’ve decided that this place needs the vorcha themselves to be an enemy. This may seem silly in the scope of a grand war of genocide, but when you consider the sheer violence vorcha display to each other (and to aliens) and that they have a very malleable political situation because they’re always fighting, it wouldn’t take much to believe that a faction of vorcha would turn on their own at this time. Not to mention indoctrination by the Reapers, which would also give encouragement for vorcha to go attack strategic points. Both of these I’ll mention in the conversation between Shepherd and the mission-giver.

In this most basic version of the mission, we’re going to run with an email being the method of receiving this assignment in your Journal. Not the most exciting method of doing it, but at least it provides a means of attaining it.

Void Devils

From: Kelis Rentar

Commander Shepherd,

I have spoken with Primarch Victus, he has put forward the recommendation that I approach you regarding a sensitive situation that the galaxy at large is presently not prepared to hear about.

I am in command of a cell that has been raising and training vorcha on their homeworld, Heshtok. This is not just a turian operation, the Hierarchy is working alongside your human Systems Alliance in this endeavour. This initiative has allowed us to raise a squadron of fighter pilots that we have termed the “Void Devils,” and they are now fighting in valiant defence of their home.

This message is not to justify the nature of our experiment nor to inform you of it. We need your aid, and your ship is the only one with the speed and stealth to bring it. The fighting over the capital city of Hatash has been brutal so we have enacted a tactical withdrawal of our Void Devils. Shortly after the order was given our base came under attack by what we assume are indoctrinated vorcha and our fighters no longer have a safe haven to land. It is only a matter of time before they fall from the sky and operatives, including myself, are trapped deep in the complex.

If you come to our aid then we will pledge the Void Devils to the fleet, while we finish training the next batch of recruits for the defence of Heshtok.

Regards,
Dr. Kelis Rentar


Once Shepherd has read this email then a tag appears on the galaxy map pointing to… I dunno, N7: Void Devils? There would be some sign so it is clear that there is a mission to be done. If Shepherd does not complete it before completing another Priority Mission then he will lose the ability to do the mission.

There is a small problem in where to actually place this mission. Since the Void Devils come from the Leviathan DLC then it would make sense that the mission should match that. There is a mission called Leviathan: Find Garneau, which seems to me to be a good way of bringing the mission in. If the mission-giving email is sent once that prerequisite is complete, then it will match up with the current Void Devil war asset situation.

The Map

As I mentioned before, the map that this would use is Firebase White (Whiteout Hazard), but I mentioned that it’d need extensive re-texturing to be added. This is because it is a snowy level on a planet which would have a hard job having much snow. The planet has a surface temperature of 32C, snow wouldn’t exactly be common here, but there is a solution. The planet description lists that Heshtok is “highly volcanically active”, so the perfect thing to do is to change it so that annoying blizzard is no longer snow but ash, those piles of snow we see are not snow but again, ash. Re-texturing the white of the snow to a dull grey would go a long way to getting that look.

There is more texture work than that needed to make this work properly as a new map. The whole place is too clean and tidy, it’s too slick for a vorcha base, especially if it is a place that is in a volcanically active area. Not only that but any traces of Cerberus need to be cleansed from it, to make the map less obvious as being the same as the N7: Cerberus Fighter mission. I think a hardy stone grey would work, either that or rusted metal. Something that brings a different colour tone to the place. I would suggest maybe having some Systems Alliance symbols inside the base, but on the outside I would not recommend any insignia. This is a secret base after all. I would say that the interior could still be pretty clean and clear, but it needs a different colour tone to further separate it from the Noveria mission.

This mission should have a clear path through it that differs from the N7: Cerberus Fighters mission. I know that one was something like point A to point B, but I guess this one needs to be different in some way. If the level was a direct clone in that respect, it would feel just like we’re replaying the same mission which is not the feeling we want to have. Unfortunately it has been some time since I played that mission, so I cannot fully determine it.

Enemies

As I’ve mentioned before, brand new enemies aren’t yet able to be added to the game, but it is possible to replace the model used by those enemies on a given map. The current story idea relies heavily on the vorcha being an enemy to fight, their models in the game have animations for fighting and they should match up with some of the other models in the game. My recommendation is to sift through suitable foes to find ones that match a few styles of vorcha we want for the mission, such as a basic shooting soldier type and a heavier shooting type. Maybe a biotic or a tech, and leave it at that. There is no need for great diversity of vorcha forces, just a few that they have a lot of. The mission is to clear out the vorcha, so it just needs a lot of them to be shot at and killed, once they’re dead the mission is over.

Mission Complete/Ignored

So, if you complete the mission you get the Void Devil’s War Asset meaning that the need to scan for this has been eliminated from the game. Woot! You also get an email thanking Shepherd, such as the one below:

The Heshtok Situation

From: Adrien Victus

Commander Shepherd:

Your speed in dealing with this situation must be commended. The vorcha are a species that none of us would mourn too deeply but irrespective of that you rescued an operation that could provide them with a better future and us with increased support in the war.

I did not agree with the nature of the experiment but it is beyond doubt that it is proving that the vorcha can be more than they are, and rise up from being the vermin of the galaxy. The asari trials on Parasc proved they can be docile and trained, and our experiments prove they can be trusted in roles in war other than as cannon fodder. The 2nd squadron of Void Devils are flying sorties over Hatash and they are proving successful.

If we survive this war, we will be forced to look at the vorcha differently, not a prospect that many will relish.

I have authorised the transfer of the 1st Void Devil Fighter Squadron to the Palaven theatre for now, but if you have need of them they have made it clear that they will have your back.

Thank you, Shepherd.

Regards,
Primarch Victus


However, if you do not do the mission before the next priority mission then you don’t get the Void Devil war asset (not even through scanning). Not only that, but you get an email as well.

Abandoning Heshtok

From: Adrien Victus

Commander Shepherd:

I understand that you received a message from a colleague on the vorcha homeworld, Heshtok. It has come to my attention that most turian and human operatives at the base have been killed and the Void Devils have crash landed due to dwindling fuel supplies. Those few survivors of the base are being picked up to bring to the Citadel.

You cannot be on all planets at once, we are going to lose lives regardless of what we do, and those lives will number in the billions. We hold no ill will towards you for not getting there in time. We are diverting resources away from Heshtok and focusing on our other fronts.

We face galactic extinction, but some sacrifices have to be made and if the vorcha are one of those, then so be it. They have always been a blight on our galaxy.

Regards,
Primarch Victus


And that’s it, job done, Shepherd can go back to dating people and eavesdropping on everyone’s conversations, the nosey bugger.


Advanced

Spoiler:
With the basic version done, things could be added to try and make the mission more interesting and feel more like the base that it is meant to be. Not only that, but the mission could also provide a method of giving the vorcha more war assets by bringing in the multiplayer vorcha, though I feel that would be best through a Spectre Terminal message. I use these a lot in my ideas, but they’re useful!

Datapads

The idea is that this is a secret research project, probably one started before the Reaper War, with the aims of making the vorcha into more capable warriors. Why would they start this? Well, I don’t think I can exactly explain that and I won’t, instead the datapads will cover a few issues when training them, the earliest moments and so forth. These will be found scattered through the level, there are only two of them. They’re not essential to locate, but provide some information on how the experiment went.

Datapad 1:

Entry 1: “Birth” Day


Today’s the day! We’ve been planning this for two years; endless meetings, constant re-evaluation of training procedures, and a complete rebuild of our housing facilities and now we’ll finally get to meet our little babies. Steven keeps telling me not to think of them that way, but I’m sure even vorcha babies are cute when you get to know them, babies are always cute. I cannot wait to see them, just two hours to go!

Entry 2: I Need New Eyes

Stephen was right, I was so very wrong. My god, they have to be the ugliest species in the galaxy. I treated the Naked Mole Rats for the “New Eden: Africa” project in my first year at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, but baby vorcha make those look cute and cuddly. I am loathe to admit it, but I am struggling to build a bond with the gremlins. They are not only vile to look at, but violence is a common factor whether they are alone or socialising.

The Asari experiments on Parasc claim that violence is not innate to their genetic makeup, but I am not so sure. They are nasty pieces of work. Three cuts and two bites, it is not even the end of their second day here.


Entry 3: I Was Wrong

I look back on my previous entries and I admit to being shamed by them. Well, not when it comes to their looks; my word I still can’t look at them for long without feeling a bit of bile rising in my throat, but I have to admit that when you look after them day-by-day, you start to see the good in them.

It has been a year since the start of the project and they have grown quickly, we have trained them to be more docile than the rest of their kind, one or two are even gentle compared to them. Their speech is beyond their peers, and violence only happens when there is a reason to. The Asari on Parasc were right, violence is not innate to their genetic make-up, it is a social convention that they easily fall into.

Soon they will be enrolled in the military aspect of this experiment, but I am strangely worried for their future; they will never be safe on Heshtok in their own society, but nor would they be safe in the wider galaxy. Is there a place for them?


Entry 4: The New Batch

Our second generation of vorcha will be brought in today, and I find I’m strangely excited again. They will not be as I once hoped, but I have thought long and hard about the benefits of this experiment. Could we be the ones who begin to fix the vorcha for the galaxy? Could our work bring them a stable civilisation? I doubt I will find out in my lifetime, but the answers are tantalising for me.

I’ll do my part for them, plus, the challenge is always welcome.


Datapad 2

Entry 1: Flight Simulators


Our recruits had their first tests on the simulators today, which turned out to be as entertaining as it sounds. When they arrived they were like a pack of dogs when they first meet, all excited and yapping, it was almost sweet. None of them took to the simulator. Once they were in, they spent the first half hour throwing up and other trying to their way out. There were a few belly laughs in the office, I can tell you!

We weren’t laughing by the end of the day. Something had kicked in, we had been told of their adaptability but we didn’t realise it would be quite that quick, or they that versatile. By the end of the day we were close to dragging them from the cockpits, they became naturals and rode the motions with ease. Bastards, took me two weeks to get to that level.


Entry 2: Their First Flight

We certainly underestimated them. They obey orders, they display ferocity in combat, they are fearless and they are naturals in the air. I would not say they equal our pilots in the Hierarchy, nor the humans of the Systems Alliance, but these are early days of our experiment.

Who knows what a few generations down the line will bring us, but then, who knows if we will get a few more generations. At least the Reaper War is providing us with data on their skills.


And that’s it, two datapads to find as you’re blowing away the enemy.

Follow-Up Spectre Terminal Message and War Assets

The idea for this was to provide a good reason for adding the vorcha from multiplayer as additional war assets for the game. I mentioned earlier in this design that this is a secret project between turians and humans, my thought was that the Spectre Terminal message would be to whether or not to reveal the existence of the project to the galaxy. Here is what I believe it should say:

Vorcha Social Research

Research on Asari-raised Vorcha on Parasc, and the Void Devils trained by the joint operation of turians and humans, has revealed many insights into this particular species. Of primary note, there is the knowledge that the frenzied violence associated with their kind is largely caused by their society, not by inherently being a violent species. With Parasc destroyed and its intelligent, docile vorcha becoming martyrs, and the Void Devils successes on Palaven, now is the time to use the media to rebrand the vorcha. This should bring the vorcha into the war in a more inclusive manner, bringing large numbers of ground troops into the war.


If you do not authorise this then nothing at all changes, war assets stay the same as they do and there isn’t anything else. If you authorise it, then quite a few war assets get updated.

Void Devils Fighter Wing
Updated:
+3

Update: Many alien-raised vorcha have volunteered to join this now-famous squadron, this has helped to replenish numbers lost in battle.


Vorcha Labour Team
Updated:
+5

Update: Many alien-raised vorcha engineers have offered their services to help repair battle-scarred ships returning from the war. This is particularly useful in radiated ships or in vacuum.


Terminus Fleet
Updated:
+5

Update: Following the research regarding the vorcha the Blood Pack has made many drops to Heshtok to pick up more for their mercenary gang. Though these are not the friendly-types described in the media, it has led to greater forces being deployed against the Reapers in the terminus systems.


Vorcha Hunters
Military Strength:
+10

Vorcha are considered vermin by other species inhabiting Citadel space, but their unique physiology and aggressiveness make them shockingly durable combatants. A vorcha’s resilience and malleable DNA allow them to evolve and adapt to any situation, making them formidable opponents on the battlefield. Their lightning-quick pounce is a direct result of their societally ingrained bloodlust.


Citadel Defence Force
Updated:
-12

Update: Since the media released information about vorcha violence being social rather than innate, there has been increased acceptance of alien-raised vorcha living on the Citadel. Unfortunately, this has led to stowaways and other hidden vorcha on the station to come out of hiding leading to; thefts, intimidation, vandalism, a small riot, multiple murders and one unconfirmed case of cannibalism. This has spread C-Sec thinly across the station and has led to many vorcha being ‘volunteered’ for duty in the war.


So that’s the end of the Advanced section, which this time doesn’t actually do too much more than the basic version, still, I feel it would go down well.


Impossible?

Spoiler:
Like Heshtok, this section is somewhat bleak, there is only one thing listed here as I ran out of ideas. So, here goes.

Fighter Planes

I know that this is probably doable with the current set of tools, but I doubt it’d be easy. My suggestion is that the Void Devil fighters are seen in the sky on this mission (and can be heard swooping around), circling and looking for a place to land. This wouldn’t add loads to the game, but it would make the mission feel more authentic as you have a visual clue to them trying to land.


So, that’s Heshtok done. The first of the missions I’ve written up which has no new dialogue, which I guess actually makes it the most likely to be made… a sad fact.


Khar’shan: Pillars of Strength

Introduction:

Spoiler:
I feel that reducing a home world to being just a scanning mission is pretty dire, they at least deserved a small mission like those mini-missions you’d find in Mass Effect 2 when you find an anomaly. But, it didn’t happen, but like the Dekuuna and Heshtok ideas, I’m attempting to fix this through using one of the multiplayer maps.

Before I go any further, I should say that this mission will never live up to the image of the Batarian home world, but with luck we can make it good enough to live up to what we would like to see. If I could, I’d really love to add a mission that builds in the Leviathan of Dis but that’s not possible using the assets that are in the game at the moment. Now if we could import levels from Mass Effect 2, then things would be very different!

The map I’m choosing for this is the one I rejected for Heshtok, but I’ve also rejected it for Kahje as well. Though it would work for Kahje but the structures don’t feel… clean enough, I’d imagine Hanar cities to be impeccably well maintained and designed, for some reason, that and I don’t think it’d get across the idea that this is a world belonging to an aquatic race that lives with a desert one. However, the acid rain portion, and the crappy click-together construction works well for Khar’shan’s poorer districts. The map I’m aiming to use for this is Firebase Ghost (Acid Rain Hazard).

Much like before there are three sections, each more difficult to add in than the last. “Basic”, “Advanced” and “Impossible?”.

Basic

- Re-texture the map to better suit Khar’shan
- Add mission tag to galaxy map
- Add email to better explain the need to find the Pillars of Strength


Advanced

- EDI speaking to Shepherd over radio, or in person, during the mission
- Datapads to show the situation on Khar’shan, both during the Reaping and life for the lowest castes under the rule of the hegemony.
- Eerie music to reinforce the lack of anyone being alive here, at least until the Cannibals attack.
- Kishock Harpoon Gun


Impossible?

- Reaperized Batarians
- Batarian corpses
- More ambient conversations during mission


So, we’ll begin like usual with the Basic version. So, here goes.


Basic

Spoiler:
The most basic version of this mod will pretty much be a map, some objectives within the map and an email to explain how Shepherd somehow knows that the Pillars of Strength will be found on Khar’shan. For the mission I’ve picked Firebase Ghost (Acid Rain Hazard) because I feel this gives a relatively accurate representation of what the planet would be like during a Reaping, the only problems I have are the obvious human designations and that there isn’t as much destruction as I would want. Before I continue, I feel it would be prudent to bring some information in about the planet:

“Khar’shan, the batarian homeworld, is wrapped less in mystery than in outright lies. Batarian propaganda claims the world has 15 billion inhabitants and an economy that rivals the asari. Although the legal slave trade does boost the batarians’ profits somewhat, Citadel sanctions have left a paper tiger of an empire, one that fights rivals through deniable terrorist actions rather than the wars of its heyday centuries ago.

The Reapers will likely be the death blow to that empire. Almost no information has escaped Khar’shan since the Reapers destroyed the comm buoys, but batarian refugees say that resistance has created a bond among commoners. If a new government can rise from the ashes, that bond may sustain a new batarian society.”


Not only that, but the hegemony seemed to be a place full of competing nation-states that reside under the authority of a totalitarian or autocratic government. What is known is that they have a caste system which is deeply ingrained in their culture, which leaves many batarians as little more than slaves. My aim with the map is to present a slum occupied by the lower castes, who are the ones that have rescued/stolen such an important religious text. I feel it presents a great internal conflict for the batarians, that their spirituality is now literally in the hands of the those they view as the lowest of the low (well, for batarians, I expect they view humans lower).

During Mass Effect 2 Shadow Broker DLC there is information that points to the various nation states gaining access to weapons of mass destruction, and given the confused nature of the Reaper attack it really would not surprise me if many nuclear weapons (and worse) were detonated on the planet. This is why I feel the acid rain hazard works especially well on this map, the radiation and pollution caused by the Reaping creates an environment where acid rain is common. Obviously I should point out that because there is so little information known about the events on Khar’shan, I can only speculate that these weapons and this kind of thing can happen, but I feel it’s a somewhat educated guess.

Email

In the assignments current state, there is very little reason for Shepherd to be heading off to go and do it. All he does is overhear someone preaching about the Pillars of Strength who does not even ask for it to be returned, which makes it seem odd that Shepherd just flies off to one of the most heavily infested Reaper worlds. I know this can be applied to pretty much every scanning mission in the game, but I feel with places like Khar’shan, it’s a bit ludicrous. My thought for fixing this is to use Liara, which is saying something as I can’t stand the character, but she makes the most logical sense to be the one to deliver the information. After all, she is the Shadow Broker and has access to (at least) 60 years worth of intelligence from all across the galaxy, if not more. Because of that I’ve decided she will send the email.

Batarian Sacred Texts

From: Liara T’soni

Shepherd,

My sources have been telling me of a swell of religious fervour developing among batarian refugees. At first I worried about the possibility that the faith they were finding solace in was linked to Reaper indoctrination, but further evidence has proven otherwise.

The Batarians are returning to an old world religion that, until the reaping, had been frowned upon by the elite castes of their society. This faith reveres ancient texts known as “The Pillars of Strength”. I had read briefly about these during my academic studies, I know that the faith is genuine, but the general consensus is that the texts have been lost.

The previous Shadow Broker held extensive records for all species in Citadel and Terminus space, this includes the insular batarians. As you might expect, I have done my fair share of research into these records, and I have found intel that reveals the texts were stolen from a ruthless dictator of an island nation on Khar’shan. I believe I have pinpointed the slum that it has been resting in for years.

Please consider reclaiming this artefact, but be warned that we know very little about what has happened on that world, be prepared for anything.

Regards,
Dr. Liara T’soni


Once Shepherd gets this email then the assignment is given to him, and the mission becomes available. Much like the current assignment, he should have to do this before a certain priority mission or risk losing it.

The Map

As with all my ideas in this so far, this will rely on the ability for a map to be exported from the game, have its texture locations changed to new ones, and be imported into the game as a separate map from the standard Firebase Ghost (Acid Rain Hazard). This is because I am not wanting to edit that map because of the multiplayer parts, and because once it is separate, it is easier to go a bit wild with texturing to make it look the part it is supposed to be playing.

Obviously, this is a human/Systems Alliance colony so it is essential that this map gets re-textured. Before anyone would try that I would point them into looking at Mass Effect 2 Arrival as that depicts a batarian building, which is a prison but still an example of their construction methods and architecture. I know that the Firebase has prefabricated structures, but these can still be re-textured in a way that suits what we have seen before. I would also recommend looking at pictures of actual real world slums, or at least very run down areas. Things like graffiti, rust, dirt, grime, old bloodstains, all those things would do wonders for making this human colony into a batarian one that has suffered horrendously under the hegemony and then the Reapers.

Once the map has been re-textured and added back into the game, I would suggest that there are a number of places around the map where the Pillars of Strength could be, but it is not clear which so you have to fight through enemies to get to each one and see if they are there. My intention for this would be to have it so the Pillars aren’t in a set place, but they are found once you have investigated a certain number of the places where it could be. Once you get the Pillars then the mission is over, and you can return to the ship. I should also mention that the mission should get a tag on the galaxy map to make it clear that there is a mission to do.

I should point out that I think there should be a few people-shaped shadows against a few of the walls. Something that’ll become clear once we reach the datapad section.

Enemies

I think that it goes without saying that the enemies on this level should be primarily Cannibals. This planet is the heart of the creation of the Cannibals, so it makes sense that they would be very common here. Alongside these should be the usual Husks, so I imagine this level being one where you’re facing off against large numbers of enemies rather than a variety of them. Sure, it might be tactically more enjoyable to face off against a broad range of foes, but there is something enjoyable about having to survive an onslaught of lesser enemies.

Once Shepherd kills his way through the level and finds the objective then the mission is over, then all you need to do is bring it back to the Batarian preacher and you complete it. You get your war assets, xp and so forth and then its over with.


Advanced

Spoiler:
The basic version of the map would probably be good enough but with some more details it can be brought into line with other side missions in the mass effect games. There aren’t many that are necessary, but I feel they would add a lot. Anyway, here they are.

Character Speech

There isn’t a need for many lines to be said during this mission, beyond the usual squad shouts etc. when fighting. However I do feel there should be a line or two from Shepherd and EDI as the map loads, and a line from Shepherd and a confirmation from Joker when it ends. Alongside these would be a few generic messages as you reach each objective. Here is a rough idea of how I picture the beginning to be:

EDI = Shepherd, there are adverse weather conditions on this planet. These may be caused by the Reapers, but I do not have enough data to know for certain.
Shepherd = What can we expect here?
EDI = Black rain from the fallout of experimental weaponry. I would also assume there will be a lot of reaper husks.
Shepherd = Just what I wanted to hear. Thanks, EDI.

Objective 1:

EDI =
The next location has been added to your HUD.

Objective 2:

Shepherd =
Nothing here.
EDI = Another location has been added to your HUD.

Objective 3:

EDI =
Logging another objective for you, Shepherd.

Objective 4:

Shepherd =
Are you sure the artefact is here?
EDI = I have checked Liara’s intel, it is sound.
Shepherd = Lead on, then.

Objective 5:

EDI =
There is only one more location.
Shepherd = If we do not find it there, we are getting out of here.
EDI = Understood, Shepherd.

Objective 6/End:

Shepherd =
I’ve found the artefact.
*Pause*
Shepherd = Joker, we need an extraction.
Joker = Roger that. Cortez is on his way.


And that is all the dialogue needed for the mission, I think most of them are generic enough to be found somewhere in the three games. The only one I worry about is the mention of rain, as I’m not certain I’ve heard EDI use the word.

Datapads

Alongside the vocal work, there should also be other bits and pieces of information scattered through the mission that gives a clearer image of life during a reaping and under the hegemony. There doesn’t need to be a ton of information, and in truth it shouldn’t be lore-breaking as I want to keep them subtle enough to not really add new lore but instead to just present the information we know from elsewhere in a different context. I should point out that these don’t necessarily need to be datapads, they could be on computer screens left on or other places too. Anyway, here goes:

Datapad 1:

Entry 1:

The radio messages came through; they told us not to worry, everything was fine, that we would throw back the invasion. There was a bright flash that near blinded me when I caught a glimpse of it, it sounded like the sky was cracking above us. Firestorms tore through the city cremating thousands, from my bed I can still see their shadows etched against the walls. My poor Kella… she is a shadow now…

Entry 2:
Rain used to be clear, it brought fresh scents that made this place feel less like the crotch of the universe. It is now black. It bites through skin and cloth, nothing protects you from it.

I, and hundreds of thousands of others, have fallen ill. More die every hour. I know my time is at hand. I overheard someone claiming it was radiation, I do not know what that is.

It is almost unbearable to type this message, but I must leave something behind… all else has been taken from me…


Entry 3:
The invaders still come… I hear the screams of battle in the distance, they are beyond imagining… why do we fight them?

They have the voices of gods… They claim to be our salvation through destruction…

I lie here, I can barely move, I can barely see… but I hear them, I believe them…

The hegemony lied… Maybe they are telling us the truth…


Datapad 2

Entry 1:

Exiled from my caste, my family enslaved, my possessions stolen. I dwell in the gutter with the rats. They watch me adoringly as if I’m their king, but my home is a box. They share scraps with me but do not touch me, they are untouchable. They should avert all four eyes. I am nothing, but I’ll not stay down without a fight. He will pay.

Entry 2:
Two years and now I have it. His prize is now mine. His guard are hot on my tail, but they do not know the slum as I have come to, they shall not find me or the pillars. His perfect collection ruined, that is a fine thing to know.

Entry 3:
The rats took the pillars from me with awe in their eyes, they actually mean something to them, the words are not just used as an ornament to roll out for lavish parties. They will not reveal it, he has dragged away many for interrogation, but they are fanatical. Despite myself I worry for them. I should hand myself in. But he will never see the pillars again, not even I know where they are.


After writing those two, I’m pretty sure that I don’t actually need any other ones. They’ll do just great!

Eerie Music

There is eerie music used a few times throughout the series, I’d suggest having one of those playing for this mission. Something like the Rachni music?

Kishock Harpoon Gun

The Kishock Harpoon is a batarian weapon used in the terminus systems, the official in-game description of it is:

“An Alliance captain on her fifth tour of the Terminus Systems once said that seeing a kishock was the easiest way to tell if she was being attacked by batarian mercenaries or slaves, since ‘no ******* with a Kishock means to take you alive.’ This powerful sniper rifle fires a harpoon-like spike that causes massive internal bleeding, and its miniaturised disruptors will also destroy synthetics. The rifle’s biggest drawback is that it must be reloaded after every shot, but for those with steady aim and good timing, one shot is enough.”


This is a multiplayer weapon in the vanilla game, but it has already been demonstrated with other mods that adding multiplayer weapons to the single player game is possible. Since you would be fighting on a batarian world, it’d be good to have this weapon to loot. To me, it’d be another sign of the mission feeling genuine rather than just modded in.

And that’s the advanced version of it done, onto the impossible!


Impossible?

Spoiler:
So, as usual we’ve got the impossible section. Sometimes this has interesting things, sometimes it doesn’t, but often it boils down to similar things. New enemies and ways I wish we could enhance the level with. This is no different.

Reaperized Batarians

As with many of the other level ideas, I’ve mentioned that it is possible to change the model an enemy uses for a specific map, just the model has to be rigged to run the same animations as the model it is replacing. Which is quite cool. The problem is whether or not the batarian models are rigged the same way, I believe most humanoids were in the first two games but I am unsure when it comes to the third.

For this mission I still think it makes sense to keep it as one where you’re facing a bit of an onslaught of enemies, so lots of husks and cannibals. But if I could get my way, I would either get the batarian model re-textured to look like a husk, or a model edit that replaces the husks face with that of the cannibal, which would give Batarian themed Husks to go alongside the more gruesome Cannibals. Not only that, but I’d do something similar for the Marauders, to have a couple of those on the map.

Another option I think would be interesting would be having Shepherd fighting some indoctrinated troops as well, Batarians who are still alive but working for the Reapers. Likely using Cerberus or Geth fighting styles. But these are all unlikely to happen.

Batarian Corpses

This is technically possible just improbable, but it would go a long way to making it feel like a batarian place by having them scattered about. However, this is one instance where I disagree with my own suggestion, as I think it’d have more impact if it is utterly devoid of life, and also because I expect the Reapers would repurpose their dead bodies.

More Dialogue

This isn’t impossible, but it would take a lot of voice splicing and trawling through conversations to make it work. My idea would be for there to be a few comments here and there that make the mission feel more real. I’ve mentioned people-shaped shadows, those could generate a comment or two. The datapads could generate comments. There could be chats over radio about batarians. There is a lot of scope, but it would not be easy to make.


And that’s that, Khar’shan: Pillars of Strength mission done. I know this won’t live up to the expectation of a batarian world, but this isn’t meant to be some major priority mission, it’s meant to just be a way of making one of the scanning missions make more sense. I am happy with this idea, but I do admit, I’d much rather have a Khar’shan mission involving destroying the Leviathan of Dis.
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