Fanfic Writer's FAQ


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#1 Accounting Troll

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Posted 11 May 2005 - 05:49 PM

UFO: Aftermath/Aftershock fan fiction writers FAQ.

Warning: this topic contains a lot of spoilers!

Any story to be posted in the Aftermath/Aftershock forums should have some relevance to the Aftermath/Aftershock universe.  There are separate forums for X-Com and Silent Storm related fan fiction.

However, there is no need to feel restricted to the game storyline.  Stories based around a new type of mission, or having the Reticulans doing things slightly differently are welcome.  There is no need to focus on the activities of Phoenix Company either.  Some of the stories concentrate on individuals or small groups who are simply trying to survive.  Another story concentrates on the deliberations of the members of the Council of Earth.


Language and spelling

English is the official language of this website.  There is no reason why you cannot post a story written in another language, however not everybody will be able to fully enjoy your work.

As the author, it is up to you to ensure that you use good spelling, grammar and punctuation.  It may be a pain, but it will make your story much easier to read.  Most modern word processing software comes with a spell check function, although it does not pick up every single mistake.


Violence, swearing and adult content

Try to bear in mind the rating of the game, 13+ in the USA and 12+ in the UK.  If you feel that your story exceeds this rating (after all, soldiers swear), put in a warning at the beginning.


Spoilers

Not everybody wants to know the details of the game plot in advance, so if your story contains spoilers, put in a warning at the beginning.


Plagiarism

This is the action of intentionally taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as your own.  It is illegal in most countries, and any individual who tries to pass someone else's work off as their own will be banned.

If you post a story that someone else has written, make sure you clearly acknowledge at the beginning that you are not the original author.

If you want to make use of another author’s idea, send the author a private message asking for permission.  He or she will usually agree, which means you won’t get into a row for using someone else’s ideas.  If it is impossible to contact the author, you should acknowledge where the idea came from at the beginning of your story.


Posting your story

There are two UFO Aftermath/Aftershock fan fiction forums; the discussion forum and the story forum.  In order to post in the story forum, you need to contact a member of staff to be given posting privileges in that forum.

There is a limit to the maximum size to a post, so you may need to split your story into several posts.


IN-GAME PLOTLINE CONCEPTS

This information is merely for reference purposes.  There is no obligation on you to follow the in-game storyline.


Twilight and Fall

On May 25th 2004, an alien spaceship entered Earth’s atmosphere and released vast numbers of spores which blocked out the light from the Sun.  The next few days of darkness are called the Twilight.  The Fall happened on June 1st when the spores fell to ground across the world, wiping out most life on the planet.


The survivors

The only people who survived the Fall are the ones who found an air-tight shelter and remained there for the 2-3 weeks it took for the spores to break down.


The national governments

The national governments were cautious of doing anything the aliens might interpret as aggressive in the week before the Fall.  However, they had time to follow contingency plans drawn up in the event of a nuclear war, and at least some governments would have acted just in case.  Key political leaders, scientists, engineers, doctors and soldiers would have been quietly relocated to strategic bunkers.


The transgenants

When the survivors emerge from their hiding places in the weeks after the Fall, they discover that most of the people and animals exposed to the alien spores were killed.  However, the spores mutated some people and animals into new life forms called transgenants.

The humanoid transgenants are usually equipped with weapons.  At first they use rifles and pistols that could have been scavenged after the Fall, but later they start using Reticulan weapons.  Curiously, they do not have the intelligence to use a door knob, so establish base missions give us a ‘locked room’ mystery in which transgenants with Reticulan weapons are present in a sealed underground base.

When the Biomass appears, it spawns several new species of transgenant to protect itself against attack.

Some species of transgenants are not viable, and their sole purpose is to kill humans.  This hostility to the human survivors is the one thing that all transgenants have in common.


The Council of Earth

The remnants of the old national governments tried to fight back in the weeks and months after the Fall, but their efforts proved ineffectual and it became clear that a new approach was needed.  Late in 2004 negotiations began to create a unified world government – the Council of Earth.  This single body would coordinate military activity, research projects and relief efforts.  The Council of Earth was vested with full power as of 1st January 2005, however not everyone was willing to accept the leadership of the Council.

The area controlled by the Council of Earth is the area in which most of the survivors have accepted the leadership of the Council, and CofE troops have been reasonably successful against the transgenants.

As the Council of Earth is comprised of representatives from the old national governments, there is probably a lot of petulant bickering in sessions.  However, all representatives support the war effort and they will not betray the player during the course of the game.


Phoenix Company

Phoenix Company is an elite army unit set up to spearhead the fight against the aliens.  It is given the most dangerous and important missions – other duties are carried out by the regular Council of Earth troops.  Phoenix Company travels to and from mission sites by helicopter, much like modern paratroopers.  Phoenix Company is also under the personal command of the head of Council of Earth forces.


Other military forces

The Council of Earth air force is under the personal command of the head of Council of Earth forces.  As the player can only have three fighters at each military base, it is likely that the shortage of trained pilots among the survivors is far more critical than the shortage of aircraft and munitions.

The Council of Earth has some regular soldiers and local militias under its command.  They handle routine duties such as keeping the area around refugee camps and bases free of transgenants, and guiding survivors to the refugee camps.  They also handle the missions the player cannot be bothered with.  CofE regulars are not usually trained and equipped to the same standard of Phoenix Company.


The Reticulans

The Reticulans are the main enemies during the game.  They are responsible for the attack on Earth.  Physically, they are the ‘Greys’, who are instantly recognisable because of their popularity with sci-fi writers and UFO enthusiasts.  Their mostly crimson appearance in battle is due to their armour.

The Reticulans are from Zeta Reticulum, a binary system consisting of two very sun-like stars 40 light years away, which is almost next door by interstellar standards.  Their homeworld has a lower gravity than Earth and a higher oxygen content, so they find being on Earth very uncomfortable even with the help of their armour.

Life on the Reticulan homeworld has a similar biochemistry to life on Earth.  The glossary suggests that this is down to panspermia – a theory that argues that life on our world evolved from spores that arrived here from outer space.

The Reticulans reproduce by parthenogenesis, a process which literally means ‘virgin birth’.  A single Reticulan queen produces many eggs which will hatch into baby Reticulans without any kind of fertilisation taking place, a process which is very rare among vertebrates on Earth.  The overwhelming majority of Reticulans are either male or sterile females.

Parthenogenesis does not necessarily mean genetic cloning – on Earth some species of social bee use this method to produce male drones which grow up to become genetically distinct from each other and their mother through a process not yet fully understood.

Despite the comparison with Earth bees, ordinary Reticulans are not mindless clones; individuals have distinct personalities and names.  They are capable of appreciating art which became Earth’s main export commodity in the years before the Fall.


Reticulan technology

The Reticulans are capable of manufacturing weapons and tools when they need to, but they usually regard it as more efficient to grow them instead.  

The Reticulans also use biotechnology to create their spacecraft.  A new ship is grown around a pilot who forms a telepathic bond with the ship; effectively it becomes an extension of the pilot’s body and neither can survive without the other.  This is why it takes a long time for your engineers to refit the Retribution for human use in the game.

The Reticulans possess matter transportation technology, but it seems to be so limited that they still require their ships.  Your scientists are unable to create a personal transportation device, but they can install it in military bases.  ALTAR put matter transportation into the game to make it possible for a single squad to conduct missions across the world.

The Reticulans do not have a practical means of faster than light travel.  Instead they use a network of Qports, which seem to be large space based facilities that act as an anchor for a rift between two solar systems.  By destroying the Qport in our solar system, they guaranteed that there will be no outside interference in their plans for the twenty years it takes for conventional ships to travel the 4.3 light years from Alpha Centauri.


The Reticulan Plan

The attack on Earth was not a piece of mindless destruction, but something the Reticulans regard as unfortunate but necessary in order to create something they regard as more important.

The alien biomass is in fact a complex neural network.  The Reticulans believe that when it swallows up the entire world, it will become self-aware and it will have massive psionic abilities.  They are not entirely sure what it will be capable of, but they think that it will easily be able to destroy any fleet despatched to stop them, and allow them to conquer the galaxy.  The Reticulans do not seem to have given much thought as to how they are going to be able to control it.

Because the Reticulans intend to swallow the entire world with the Biomass, their centre of operations is based somewhere on the surface of the Moon.  It is possible that the Moon was also chosen because the Reticulan queens find the lower gravity to be far more comfortable.


The Old Greys

As your scientists study the Reticulans, they discover that Earth was attacked by a single faction of their race.  There is a second faction called the Old Greys.  The Old Greys have been in secret contact with several national governments for decades.  The Area 51 and Kasputin Yar bases were set up to study the Old Greys and to house their representatives on Earth.  

They are willing to take up arms to help humanity defeat the Reticulans, and they do not betray the player in the course of the game.  However, the reason for their interest in humanity is unknown, and it may be that their motives are not entirely benevolent.


Other alien races

It is probable that there are other alien races out there, however they play no part in UFO: Aftermath.


Game endings

Total victory.  Phoenix Company captures an intact Reticulan battleship, which is then given the name Retribution and refitted for human use.  It is then used to transport Phoenix Company in a successful mission to destroy the Reticulan lunar base.  With their leaders dead, the remaining Reticulans on Earth are no match for the Council of Earth forces.  Humanity begins the task of rebuilding the world and awaits the arrival of the Old Greys with anticipation.

Partial victory.  The Council of Earth extends its control across the globe, destroying the Reticulans and the Biomass.  However, all attempts to locate and destroy the Reticulan base of operations fail.  The Reticulan leaders cannot continue the war with most of their fleet lost and the Old Greys on their way, leaving them to ponder their next move.

Negotiated settlement.  The Council of Earth accepts the Reticulan offer and the bulk of humanity is moved to a Reticulan made space station.  UFO: Aftershock is based on this ending.

Defeat.  Phoenix Company fails and the Biomass swallows the world.  However, this need not be the end for humanity as ALTAR have said that in UFO: Aftershock you will be dealing with the people who stuck it out on Earth, so it must be possible to survive in Biomass infested territory.

#2 Slaughter

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 02:52 PM

Nice work Troll! ;) Quite a few details there I hadn't completely fathomed.

I took the liberty of changing Altar to ALTAR (acronym), and to add bold for the spoiler warning and a few links. Hope you don't mind :cool:. I'll post about this in the news once I've added the other fan fiction stories to the site. Just have to ask Pete how I do that.


#3 Accounting Troll

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Posted 12 May 2005 - 05:48 PM

All this time I've been playing Aftermath, and I never knew that ALTAR was an acronym :cool:

What I like best about Aftermath is that the aliens are civilized but flawed, much like humanity.  This is what makes them fun to write about.

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:16 PM

Preda has put forward an interesting theory about the objects in the final room in the Reticulan Lunar Base, which you can find here.

He has theorised that the objects you have to destroy in this room are not Reticulan queens (as I theorised) but the machines that are producing the Bionode liquid, and the act of destroying these machines plus the casualties inflicted upon the Reticulans up to this point ruins their plans for Earth.




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