We’ve started getting some great questions from those of you keeping up with Tau Station’s development, so we decided to gather some of them and share our answers with everyone. We’re loving the questions so please keep them coming. You can send them to @taustation on Twitter, or through our Facebook page.
If you’ve asked something that isn’t answered here we’ll do our best to respond to it in a future Q&A post. And if you find some of our answers a bit cryptic, maybe you should sign up for our upcoming closed Alpha so you can be one of the first to start exploring the universe.
On to the questions!
Q: Can you say how long ago the Catastrophe happened? Related: Did the stations exist in a post-scarcity economy before the Catastrophe? Do some stations still have such a society?
The Catastrophe occurred 189 years ago, so it’s still fresh in everyone’s mind. That may sound like a long time, but keep in mind that Tau Station operates on a metric calendar with only 100 days each year. So it’s only been about 52 years in conventional Earth time. How the Catastrophe happened is very much ingrained in Tau Station’s story and is just one of the many exciting plot lines you’ll uncover as you play.
As for the stations, each has its own story, history, and in many cases, culture. They haven’t all fared the same since the Catastrophe.
Q: Will travel be instantaneous between places or will there be flight time?
Flight time between the stations is absolutely part of the game-play and has been precisely calculated using real science, space savvy, and loud arguments! Ok, maybe not loud arguments – but a lot of discussions on our tech team about how best to implement it.
Q: What types of ships will the player be able to buy and can they be upgraded?
We’ll have several types of ships available so you can choose what best fits your playing style. Maybe you want something small and fast, to cut down on travel time between stations. If you’re heavily into trading, going for something with more cargo capacity would be wise. And half the fun of having ship is choosing what upgrades you want to add. Ships are pretty expensive, though, and it will take you some time to come up with the credits to buy one. Our current plan is to introduce ships into the game during Beta testing. Fortunately, there are public shuttles you can take between the stations in the meantime.
Q: Will players be able to explore and expand the current universe to uncover more places? If so how and what kind?
Exploration and discovery are core themes for us. It’s believed that there may be many more survivors out there on stations that can’t currently be reached due to damaged jump gates. It will take a lot of time, effort, and cooperation among players to repair those gates and open up new star systems. There may also be derelict stations out there that can be claimed by syndicates and rebuilt…
We have a lot of plans in this area that we’ll be expanding on in future releases.
Q: Are all the stations named or will you be taking suggestions?
There are more than 500 stations in the game. We’ve assigned them all initial names via a snazzy computer program that our game designer developed (we even have a blog post about it), but names can change and we anticipate opening up ways for fans to help with that in the future.
Q: In the blog you mentioned government rations. If post-scarcity tech was/is a thing I hope PCs can discover why there are rations?
Life is very different since the Catastrophe. Humanity has gone from a civilization that had all its basic needs covered to one that is struggling to rebuild itself. The road is bound to be bumpy, and both food and water are scarce resources. Whether relying on rations is a reality for everyone is part of the story you’ll uncover as you play.
Q: 3D printing opens up opportunities for economies based on rep and raw materials as currencies. Do stations utilize industrial 3D printing to process resources?
3D printing is absolutely a part of the Tau universe. With it gradually becoming such a versatile and exciting part of today’s scientific progress imagine what it could do in the future! Today we’re already 3D printing human organs, perhaps by the time of Tau Station we’ll be printing up whole people. Who knows?
Q: Does a player develop a criminal reputation if they commit a crime for which they are not caught or identified?
The esteemed Gary Larson once posed the question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and hits a mime, does anyone care?” That’s not to say that your criminal actions won’t have consequences, or even that those consequences will be negative. Of course, someone trying to build a criminal reputation probably doesn’t want to keep getting caught.
Each station in Tau’s universe is governed by a set of principles. Chief among these are their Law (how strictly they punish crime) and Orwellian (how likely it is that crime will be noticed) levels. These combine to define how easy or risky it is to commit a crime on a given station.
Q: Can players join a military organization as a career path?
There are a number of different career paths available, each with multiple approaches and pathways up the ladder. Some are indeed more militaristic than others!
Q: Is an NPC with a job identified before or after the player makes contact with them?
You will know which NPC’s have missions to offer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can trust them, though. The more you speak to an NPC the better you will know what lies ahead!
Q: Will players be able to generate random characters if they want to?
Randomized characters are not currently in the plan. That said, your character will have avenues of customization including different genotypes you can pick during character creation or pay to alter down the line.
Q: Will implants and prosthetics be a thing or just wearables?
Genetic and bionic modifications are definitely in and can be installed at your local sick bay. Their specific uses and effects are still evolving via the design process.
Q: Will appearance factor into where players can and can’t access?
Not per se. However humanity is a fickle thing indeed, and prejudices and misconceptions always find a way through. Much of what you can or can’t do will be governed by things like your reputation with the station’s government affiliation, your stats, and other factors. But some NPCs may respond to you differently based on your genotype.
Q: Will NPCs react positively or negatively based on player genome?
It’s possible. A character’s genotype is just one of the many different parameters we’ve been designing into our mission builder, and the universe isn’t free of inter-genome tensions. We’re aiming to build a rich cast of characters that will help us tell Tau Station’s many stories in as deep, varied, and diverse types of ways as possible.
Q: Will a player’s inventory be bottomless and instant or will they have to factor in carrying and storing gear?
You’ll definitely want to pay attention to how much you’re carrying. We’re not a sim but we do shoot for realism, and being able to carry 50 rifles and a couple tons of ore in your backpack is a bit immersion breaking. If you’re carrying more than your weight limit your physical stats will drain faster and your combat actions will be affected.
Q: Can players die? If so, can the body be looted by other PC’s and NPC’s?
In a universe with cloning technology, “What is death?” becomes a rather philosophical question. The sick bays on the stations can fix up just about injury, but if you’re killed somewhere that doesn’t have one you’d better have a clone waiting for you to spawn into, or else you are really and truly dead. We recently wrote a cloning blog post to talk about how the different kinds of clones work.
Whether grievous combat injuries send you to the sick bay to heal or to the cloning vats to respawn in one of your clones, the person who beat you up will have the chance to loot your body first.
Q: What will blind players have access to for navigating open environments? Will there be gear to augment this?
Visually impaired or not, we strive to make contexts and affordances obvious and easy to use within the game.
In addition, Tau Station is written in accordance with web standards. Therefore, whether you’re using a screen reader, switch control, sip-and-puff, just keyboard…you are covered
Q: To make the game more immersive, will you add optional sounds to the game?
Yes we will add sounds in the future, but not until we’re through Alpha and Beta testing and ready to launch.