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Hard War
The Future is Greedy

Hardwar (Also HardWar or HardW[a]r depending on how one takes the game's logo) is an obscure space planetary air-trading sim developed by The Software Refinery and released in 1998. Considered at the time a Spiritual Successor to Elite.

The game takes place in a city complex built among the craters of Titan. Misplaced Optimism is a dystopian slum, earning the label "Misplaced" following the abandonment of the formerly lucrative mining city by the company that ran it, leaving all the workers behind with no means of escape. MO is being fought over by two rival factions, Klamp-G and the Lazarus Family; with various smaller groups thriving in the cracks. The preferred mode of transportation around MO are Moths: solar-powered speeder/aircraft crossovers available in a variety of models. It's this dynamic that makes the game interesting: During the day, Moths generally have no problem staying aloft and engaging in combat, but once night ticks around, energy starts to drain rapidly from the Moths' cells, leaving them stranded in conveniently placed Lightwells while better equipped combatants tear them apart.

Like most games of the genre, Hardwar allowed players to focus on three areas: scavenging, combat or trade; in fact, each of the three original starter Moth setups was designed around one of the three. Traders would trade resources among the hangars of MO, pirates would try to hijack and steal the cargo from traders, while scavengers would either have to work fast to scoop up any dropped loot before the pirates could manage to collect, or by hoovering up the scraps left behind from battles. As expected, players could then use their new wealth to upgrade the equipment of their Moths or upgrade to a shiny new Moth model. A patch added more starting setups, mostly easier than the originals due to much better equipment being immediately available.

It's also possible to own hangars by visiting the local estate agent. Hangars could then be managed to be private (for storage of spare Moths, clones and various other resources) or even opened up as public hangars to act as repair shops or stores, all for a neat profit for the player. One could even install manufacturing equipment such as distilleries, so it was possible to buy materials for goods at a cut price, manufacture the goods and sell them directly.

As usual, the plot was nothing to write home about, but had its moments. Most information was passed to the player in emails, or delivered by full motion video.

Hardwar still has a fair amount of community support. It also turned out that the game's multiplayer allowed for persistent online games to function, so a few such servers exist.

Notably, after the developing company went out of business, the game's original dev team started making game mods for their own game, specifically the 'UIM' unofficial patch series, which sought to fix the issues they weren't able to before going under, and actually did a fairly good job of it.

Here are some Trope Examples for you, Aviator:

  • A Homeowner Is You: There are real estate buildings that let you buy the various vacant buildings held up for sale in Titan. Even better, you can buy off a pirate hangar, which can reduce the number of pirates spawning in Titan (and making life easier, barely), provided that the specifically named pirate is killed and you quickly go to the realtor building to purchase his/her property before another pirate pilot spawns. The only buildings you can't buy are scavenger buildings and pirate buildings from out-of-the-way locations like the Mines crater, the Reservoir crater (since there's no realtor building) and Haven/Midway.
  • Almighty Janitor: A literal example with the Scrubbers gang, a notorious crime syndicate descended from the city's old janitors and sanitation workers.
  • An Economy Is You: Nope, not really. Generally speaking, while NPC aviators are happy lugging cheap, low-return goods around Misplaced Optimism, you have to make all the big hauls in order to get anything good. And hope that no one else buys that Largest Pod that you've been influencing a manufacturer to make for you.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: You could own hangars from the start, but only the later patches made it possible to turn a hangar into a capital-generating entity. Buy the proper equipment, install it, and you have a factory ready to make you rich.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Hardwar's A-Life system was literally years ahead of its time, to the point that many computers of the time had a lot of trouble running it. One of the main reasons the game still has a devoted fan following to this day is the vast amount of unpredictability and replayability built into its systems - and, of course, the many ways in which players can subvert them.
    • The NPCs: AI pilots are essentially just players, and were designed from the ground up to emulate actual human players - a task they accomplish quite well. The AI is divided into three layers, a piloting layer that handles actual vehicle maneuvering, a planning layer that handles long-term goals, and a decision-making layer that handles short-term activity. Each layer interacts with the other two constantly, and the interplay between them can result in some surprisingly complex emergent behavior. AI pilots are capable of planning out multi-step trade runs, prioritizing targets in multi-party firefights, deciding when to break and run during a battle based on their condition and that of any allies in the area, choosing when to refuel based on their future plans, and many other things. Their actual piloting skill is notoriously bad by modern standards, but overall the Hardwar AIs are extremely impressive, considering the game came out in 1998.
    • The world: Hardwar's game world is a fully realized, fully simulated, persistent virtual world that is all being updated constantly when the game is running, whether there are any human players there or not. Mines and farms produce primary resources, those resources are shipped to processing plants, intermediate goods are sent to factories, finished goods are sent to shops and consumers, and AI pilots buy goods from the shops. Factions and gangs patrol their territory, ship goods around, defend against intruders and launch raids on enemy resources. Independent pilots seek to earn as much money as possible, through trading, scavenging, bounty hunting or piracy. Taxis ferry new NPCs from their spawn locations to their place of employment/residence. The police fly around occasionally. Prices of goods fluctuate, shortages and surpluses happen, huge battles break out, territory changes hands, buildings are damaged and repaired...all nonscripted, all emergent, and all with no player intervention.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The piloting AI in most versions of the game is extremely predictable and easy to manipulate. NPC behaviour can be effortlessly exploited for enormous combat advantages.
    • They can't negotiate obstacles easily; if a NPC is following and shooting you, and you pass close to a building, pipe, bridge or any other large object, their collision avoidance kicks in. This causes them to do wide maneuvers around the offending item during which their fighting ability drops to zero. By the time they recover you've left them so far behind that they can't hope to catch up.
    • In tunnels they can't do anything other than flying in a straight line, including returning your fire or reacting to attacks in any way. They'll also do more wide maneuvers before entering the tunnel, and need a few seconds to regain their bearings once they exit one. This enables easy NPC kills if you can lure them in, and makes tunnels an easy escape route from fights turned sour. Even better, if they're carrying cargo, you can exploit a physics bug that prevents other AI pilots from going into the tunnels just to pick up that jettisoned cargo (see Wreaking Havok below).
    • Their choice of primary weapons is poor. They'll use laser turrets to whittle down your shields even as you blast huge chunks off theirs with the far more effective plasma cannon, while the few who have that weapon are able to kill shields just as quickly but then don't seem to realize that the plasma cannon has no hull-damaging effect whatsoever, and keep unloading it into their target with no appreciable results. The scavenger NPCs subvert this by using their laser guns if provoked. While the laser gun is only mildly effective at stripping shields, at least it can do direct hull damage and destroy a moth after its shields are out, not to mention that it has a rapid firing rate.
    • They never go to weapons dealers to upgrade their weaponry and moths, so their threat level - and by extension the whole game's difficulty level - doesn't increase as you go along (see Curb-Stomp Battle below). The only exception is the occurrence of freshly spawned pirates going to weapons dealers for one-time visits to install missiles of varying power after the original pirate NPC was killed. But that's as far as they can go: they'll never visit the dealers again after they've bought their fancy toys.
      • The faction transport moths as well as some trader moths do visit weapons dealers at times, but they're only there to haul cargo in and out, not upgrading their weaponry.
    • They never use advanced countermeasures such as the afterburner or holograms.
    • They take ages to enter hangars, having to position themselves properly and then slowly advance until they're in. They're highly vulnerable during this time, and if you interrupt their docking sequence (by, say, bumping them) when they're already in the airlock they can get stuck inside and eventually get blasted apart by the hangar's guns.
  • Artistic License - Economics: The game's economics don't really compare well to anything that could possibly work in real life. For instance, narcotics and alcohol seem to be far more immediate needs to the population than, say, food. Granted, the world they live in is pretty sad and their lives bleak, but you'd still think survival would be more important than getting drunk or high.
    • The economic system sometimes has trouble even in the game, with several resources becoming very scarce very quickly, and requiring massive player intervention just to produce a few for the player's own use.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The 'Arms Dealer' starting scenario, which gives you your own hangar to start with (in the very busy Downtown area, no less), your own private monorail station to move around the city, a stockpile of sellable goods, a hefty bank balance, and easy access to some Player Mooks to hire... oh, and you're in a slow (albeit rather maneuverable) Moth with a weak power cell and no weapons or countermeasures except your laser, and there are a couple of heavily-armed, well-equipped rival arms dealers out for your head and they know where your hangar is. Good luck!
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The Fireburst is an aerial bomb that fires its own explosive energy balls which deal massive damage to a Moth's shields. It is also the only weapon in the game that can do direct damage to a Moth's engine, provided that the Moth's shields are at a certain low level before the damage is enough to destroy it (and concerning the power of this weapon, it's nearly unbalanced).
    • Then there's the Groundbase missile, a gravity-sucking missile that causes collision damage proportional to the Moth's height level and momentarily stunning the pilot for a few seconds.
  • Big Bulky Bomb: At a certain point in the plot, it becomes necessary to blow up a thick tunnel-blocking wall. A nuclear missile is fitted to the player's moth, but it's so big it can't fit in the standard hardpoints so it just hangs off the side of the cockpit. When that fails, an even bigger one is fitted.
  • Boring, but Practical: The laser gun isn't terribly effective at stripping shields, but it has the fastest rate of fire out of any weapon, a low energy drain, and one of the few primary weapons that can destroy a Moth.
  • Bounty Hunter: It's a mildly profitable profession, and you can check the Police's or a faction's wanted list to see who's responsible for being on the wrong side of their business. There's no "dead or alive" system implemented in the game, given that this is a unique kind of flight simulator; they simply want their enemies dead.
    • If you end up being a pirate and manage to evade the police for a while, pirates themselves will start targeting you in an attempt to collect the price put on your head.
  • Broken Bridge: All routes into the Port crater are blocked off early on in the storyline, and getting in becomes a major plot point. Fortunately the crater is bereft of useful hangars, so its loss is irrelevant if you're not following the story.
  • City Guards: Police Moths fly around on patrol, and will pursue you relentlessly if you make the mistake of shooting them. Kill one, and an enforcer will be sent out.
  • Cloning Blues: A patch added the ability to buy a backup for the player in the form of a clone. Installed in a hangar, the clone will activate if the player dies, retaining all of the player's properties (minus the Moth in which they died). It's never really explained how the PC's mind gets transferred to the clone, though...
  • Complacent Gaming Syndrome: drain shields with plasma cannon, kill target with laser. Drain shields with plasma cannon, kill target with laser. Drain shields with plasma cannon...
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The Underkill bomb has a very fast traveling velocity and has this cool effect of vertically encircling an enemy Moth for a couple seconds and then exploding under the Moth. However, it's essentially the missile/bomb equivalent of the plasma cannon: really good shield-killer and systems wrecker, virtually no damage to the hull. Worse still, if the Moth is next to a building or is flying really low on the ground, the bomb will dissipate harmlessly. Plus, like all missile-based weaponry, it uses ammo and is rather expensive per stock.
  • Cool Plane: The Swallow. Every other Moth in the game is strictly function-over-form: trading Moths are wide and heavy, armored police Moths are basically large square-ish crates of hurt, and even the more aerodynamic fast fighters still retain a definite boxy look. The Swallow instead has clean, streamlined lines that make it appear elegant and quite different from everything else. It's also the only moth to have moving flight control surfaces.
  • Crapsack Moon: The city of Misplaced Optimism is aptly named. About 90% of the population live in massive, cramped, overcrowded arcology towers. If you're lucky enough to get into flight school, you can end up as one of the remaining ten percent - moth pilots, who never have a steady income, rarely have homes beyond their aircraft, and constantly have to worry about the police, the major factions, the smaller gangs, pirates, scavengers, or getting caught in the crossfire of a battle between the aforementioned groups. It's not a question of 'if' a moth pilot will die horrifically in battle, but 'when'.
  • Crippleware: The game's demo had the entire gameplay map in it, but restricted you to just one of eight craters by closing the exit tunnels. After a few years the game was officially made free via a patch that removed the barriers in the tunnels.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Tends to happen often after a while, as the player can upgrade his craft quickly and the enemy pilots are hampered by the AI's reliance on weaker weapons and inability to rapidly negotiate fixed obstacles and tunnels. Given a modicum of competence from the player it's perfectly possible to fight any one enemy, no matter how powerful, with the weakest moth in the game and win easily. Fighting only becomes difficult when the player is simultaneously targeted by more than one enemy (fairly easy to achieve), or by several missile-armed enemies in sequence.
  • Cyber Punk: Subverted. There are no mega corporations ruling the economy of Titan since most of the business is operated by smaller independent companies and supplanted by traders, and most of the gameplay takes place in the cockpits of Moths. Given that the game was developed and released in 1998, it's somewhat justified.
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno: Well the game's not that Cyberpunk but the soundtrack consists of electronic acts from the Warp Records label, which ranges from techno to ambient to even drum n' bass. As an added bonus, the moon's only radio station is called Hardwarp FM and even has the label's logo.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: The AI really likes to use the laser turret, and will often do so even when it has better guns available. But the turret really sucks at disabling shields, so duels between NPC moths often become convoluted air ballets with a lot of weak laser fire being exchanged.
  • Debug Room: The God Hangar, which also allows you to cheat yourself money and equipment. Oh, and to instantly vanish from the game world at will... yeah, online use isn't liked very much.
  • Deflector Shields: Before you can start hurting a Moth's hull you need to take down its shields. Some weapons are better at depleting shields and others at killing what's underneath them - and the best shield-depleter has no effect on hull at all, forcing you to vary your tactics.
  • Determinator: The police enforcers. Once one is sent to catch you, it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you're dead. Kill it, and another will take its place. This can go on for a while, since after a few upgrades the player is able to win against any one enemy in the game, but sooner or later an enforcer is bound to catch you right after fighting someone else has depleted your shields...
  • Disaster Scavengers: The NPCs that fly moths fitted with the distinctive brown-colored Smallest Pod fit this description rather lightly: a more apt name for them would be Disaster Moon Janitors and/or Crater Rats. They will sniff out any cargo dropped down to the crater floor after a firefight with a couple of moths has died down regardless of whether they had cargo pods, annoyingly complicating efforts for players to nab the cargo of their choice. Unlike most examples of this trope, the scavengers will sell the cargo to a nearby trading post in order to increase their profits. Too bad that even though they'll get rich selling off the loot they've found, they'll never even once think about upgrading their weaponry at a weapons dealer. Not only that, they also, along with pirates, won't go to tunnels to pick up dropped cargo there.
  • Dronejam: This can happen very easily, especially if you make a hangar very popular among the NPC population. They'll just queue at it, while the first in line just gets stuck trying to enter the hangar, then failing, then returning to the front of the queue, then failing... this is particularly evident in one of the latest patches, which screwed up the game economy and caused many traders to line up to buy wares that didn't exist.
  • Dummied Out: there was to be an additional tunnel linking Downtown to Reservoir, which got removed before the final release. The tunnel still existed in the game world, but all AI pathing through it had been disabled and the openings blocked, so it was completely unreachable until one of the latest fan-made patches reopened it.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: By the end of the game, Saturn has one less moon to brag about.
  • Easter Egg: Due to one of the developers having a very bad experience on a Lord of the Rings chat room, attempting to name the player character 'Gandalf' will result in the game asking you to "Please insert a name that is not inherently sad". It won't let you continue until you change it.
  • Easy Logistics: Averted. Everything must be built, or stocks run out. In order to build something, a suitable hangar must have the resources, which in turn must be delivered by hand from the hangar that produces them, which in turn... Basically, the game's stock of Largest (Cargo) Pods will run out within minutes of starting the game, and more have to be manufactured (in fact, there's only 2 left in a building in the Alpha Crater called Breaker Maker 3). And aside from stumbling across an unowned Swallow Moth in a hangar, the only way to get one is to feed a Moth manufacturing plant with just the right combination of materials. However, getting the materials required to make the Moth can be very confusing as it doesn't tell you which materials are needed to build it so you're going to have find the list and the instructions in the primary community site here.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Near the end of the game, plot events cause every AI player in the game, no matter how far they are from you, to head straight for you with single-minded purpose.
  • Expy:
    • The plasma cannon is pretty much Hardwar's equivalent of the Ion Cannon.
    • Likewise, the Underkill bomb is essentially the Ion Pulse Missile.
      • It's subverted, however, in that these two weapons do not have the disabling properties that the Star Wars equivalents possess.
  • Fragile Speedster: The Neo Tiger Moth. Somewhat subverted in that it does boast the second largest weapon capacity in the game after the Death's Head Moth. It is the most commonly used Moth among the two major factions, and is also quite popular among players as a trader's/merchant's Moth; at least until they switch to the Swallow Moth...
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: All primary weapons in the game fire bolts of energy.
  • Game Breaker: Several - and ironically, all made available through patches.
    • The Swallow is faster, tougher and more maneuverable than any other moth; fly one and it'd take a small army of enemy moths to bring you down. As NPCs never organize quite that well fights tend to be a tad one-sided, and getting shot down in a Swallow is practically unheard of - even Police moths don't represent a significant threat.
    • The "Corrupt cop" starter set. It gives you a Police L-2000 (the second-heaviest moth in the game) equipped with an unlimited energy cell. Later in the game said cells become available to everyone, but it takes a while; in the meantime, you're the only player in the world not to have any power problems whatsoever.
    • The Downtown 05 hangar with a Distillery factory kit. Its position makes it ideal for selling to the whole world ( it's located at the central part of the Downtown crater and is just next to the aptly named Sewage Control building, which produces the two most important products needed for that kit at infinite capacity and at relatively cheap prices), and the Distillery machinery is heavily unbalanced - making large amounts of expensive alcohol from small amounts of cheap-as-chips water and chemicals. Result: practically unlimited money.
    • See the entry of Wreaking Havok below.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: If you decide to wage war against the police and start killing enforcers en masse, the game will eventually run out of pilots for them (after about 80 have died) and crash.
  • Game Mod: Several, virtually all of them unofficial patches that add features or change various aspects. At least one, the UIM series, was actually made by the game's original dev team after the company went out of business.
    • Hex-editing a savegame allows you to add the Death Ray to your moth's weapons. The weapon is normally present in the game as the one the hangar airlocks use to get rid of ships that stay in them for too long, but isn't normally available to purchase.
  • Glass Cannon: The Moon Moth can mount various powerful weaponry in its medium-sized weapon bays and is the smallest Moth to fit a laser turret. It also boasts great maneuverability (engines only determine the speed of a moth, not maneuverability), but average speed. However, it cannot take damage really well, and in extended dogfights, unless that pilot is really skilled, it will often lose and turn into scrap metal. The Moon Moth's performance suffers once a cargo pod is attached; if fitted with the Largest Pod, it becomes the slowest Moth in the game (more so than a Largest-Pod-equipped Death's Head).
  • Good Bad Bugs: in later versions a console was added that allowed you to give orders to your mooks. The command to take cash would obviously not work when they were in a non-owned hangar, but the command to give money would. There was nothing preventing a player from "giving" a negative amount of cash to a store, though, effectively allowing one to steal money from NPC hangars. This was fixed in later versions; attempting to do this in the most recent UIM patch results in the game console telling you 'Stop that!'
  • Grand Theft Prototype:
    • Evidently because having a Swallow made is so hard, the game also creates three unoccupied Swallows that sit in their parking spots forever - unless, that is, a player gets in and flies off. The game code never considers the moth to be properly yours, but this has no effect on gameplay. This is only available in the U2.04+ patch.
    • There's also an option for multiplayer servers that makes it possible for people to steal owned, unattended moths. It's disabled on most servers, but on those which allow it, stepping out of your moth for any length of time in a public hangar could easily result in someone flying away with it.
  • Gray and Grey Morality: The Lazarus Corporation, the faction formed from The Remnant of the evil mining corporation that stranded the colonists on Titan in the first place, and Klamp-G, the faction descended from the coalition of labor unions that fought them, are for all intents and purposes identical at this point, with neither one being clearly 'good'
  • Guide Dang It: While there are many items in the game purchasable from the spot, getting the materials required to produce a certain commodity is another story. The game never tells you what items are needed to produce a specific product and you'll get lost in how to do so. There's a list of items that can be found in the main community site here and the list of businesses that buy and sell specific products here.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here
  • Human Resources: The trade in human remains to the aliens for Fusion Cells and other valuable tech. It's also implied that the local pizza delivery restaurant has a new type of meat in their meat feast.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: You're the only one who has such skills, since the AI pilots in this game have such predictable patterns that you can easily outwit them even in their best days. Obviously averted in multiplayer when you face human opponents.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: The plasma cannon is an incredibly useful weapon for stripping shields and it can be found at nearly any weapons dealer near you. However, it's pretty much useless as a hull damaging weapon so you had better switch to your hull-eating weapon of choice if you have it. Also, it drains your moth's energy reserves at a moderate pace so be wise to manage your cell's condition or else you'll be forced to take a trip to the local Lightwell (unless you have a Fusion Cell).
  • Infinity+1 Sword: While not a weapon, the Fusion Cell essentially eliminates any need to go to a Lightwell thanks to its boundlessly recharging effect. It won't be available until you advance deep into the game's plot. That is, destroying the special part in the Port crater and cause the two gangs called the Skinners and Scrubbers to appear. These are the ships that will sometimes carry Fusion Parts, which are essential components needed to make the Fusion Cell. They are easily preyed upon by Pirates because of this, and you have to be opportunistic in acquiring those parts. Otherwise, you'll have to play far deeper into the story to acquire one.
  • Interface Screw: The first thing that happens when your Moth starts running low on energy is that your HUD starts to fade. Better find a Lightwell quick.
  • In-Vehicle Invulnerability: Your Moth can get shot, missiled, sucked into the ground by an inverse-gravity-generating rocket, careened against tunnel walls, smashed against buildings and rammed by other Moths, without the player suffering any ill effects.
  • It's Up to You: Played straight in the story missions but averted in the main game - if you have your own building and install manufacturing equipment, it's possible to offer to buy the raw materials, which will result in NPCs supplying you with goods entirely without your intervention, at which point they're automatically processed and the finished items are offered for sale.
  • Jack of All Stats: The Hawk Moth combines speed, maneuverability, toughness, cargo carrying capacity, and weapon capacity into one package in the above average territory. This versatility is what makes it essentially the workhorse Moth in Titan and by far the most popular among all the pilot classes that don't expressly need a firepower-oriented Moth - so much so that at least two thirds of the Moths in the game are Hawks.
  • Karma Houdini: In the later patches, there is an NPC named Smokie China, who hangs around the Alpha crater. He pilots a Swallow Moth, the game's most powerful Moth, and the only pilot in Titan to do so. His Moth is fitted with a medium pod, which is noticeably the standard pod of all pirates in Titan. However, killing him results in you having a bounty put on your head by the Police, as the Swallow Moth seems to be invisible to radar. The only ways to kill him without being credited for it are using a Devastator and/or Groundbase missile, bumping him to death, or getting him stuck in the airlock of a building, which will blast him into pieces quickly.
  • Lead The Target: Subverted, you don't have to lead at all - all primary weapons have limited auto-lead capacity (occasionally bordering on Homing Boulders), only requiring you to aim in the general direction of the target. The laser turret doesn't even require that, as it can rotate fully.
  • Lethal Joke Character: The Silver-Y may be the smallest and weakest Moth in the game, but thanks to how the game's AI works, it can gain an edge over its adversaries with a plasma cannon and laser combo to quickly decide the outcome of a battle. Since you are the only really skilled pilot in Titan, even the Silver-Y can represent a legitimate threat to heavily armed and faster Moths.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The Swallow Moth, which takes this into Game Breaker territory. The only real drawback is that it cannot fit a laser turret thanks to the engine sitting on top of the Moth.
    • To a slightly lesser extent, the Police L-2000 Moth. It combines the speed of the Neo Tiger with the toughness of the Death's Head (albeit with a slightly weaker hull) while boasting a large enough weapons capacity and excellent maneuverability to take on several Moths in a dogfight. One of the reasons why the Police are so good in dogfights is because of their Moth, if only they weren't so down in morale to begin with.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: Not a problem with modern computers, but on the machines Hardwar was originally intended to run, it took a while for it to generate the world at game start. The producers lampshaded this: if you press CTRL while the game is loading, the message changes from "Initialising world" to "Testing patience".
  • Loan Shark: Misplaced Optimism has two companies that allow players to borrow money from: MisOp Finance in the Downtown crater, and Charlie Wadsworth in the Riverside crater. Once a loan has been taken, a mail notification will tell you that once the deadline has arrived, you must pay back all the money that you've borrowed. Fail the first time, and you'll get a stern warning that you must immediately go back to the building that you've borrowed money from. Should you ignore this warning and let another day pass, an enforcer in a Death's Head Moth will come out and attempt to kill you until you pay back the loan. Needless to say, this is generally treated as a novelty among players because they can easily get rich in many ways in the game.
  • Mighty Glacier: The aptly named Death's Head Moth, the heaviest Moth in the game. It's as slow as a Moon Moth, and has average maneuverability, but it has the thickest hull rating and the largest number of weapon bays out of any other Moth, making it practically suited for combat. It's generally unsuitable as a trading Moth because of its already slow speed, and fitting even a small pod on it can greatly diminish its speed even further, making it possibly the slowest Moth in the game (a Moon Moth fitted with the smallest engine unpodded is even faster).
  • Money Spider: Killing a pirate moth (i.e. any moth equipped with the conspicuous yellow-clad medium pod) usually rewards you a bounty of 500 credits. These bounties add up whenever a pirate kills a specific moth (i.e. any moth from the major factions), or repeatedly kills innocent traders and/or scavengers (mainly for their valuable cargo on board).
  • Most Annoying Sound: When you dock into a hangar, there's an incredibly annoying wavy-electronic noise playing, presumably intended to portray some sort of scanner or tool used on your moth. It didn't take long for a patch to come out that disabled it.
  • My Nayme Is: The plasma cannon in-game is spelled with the letter K in the 'cannon' part. Maybe the developers thought that the letter C would be too American...
  • Ninja Looting: When a Moth blows up, any cargo it was carrying is dropped. Now, it might have been the attacker's intention to collect the cargo for themselves, but try and tell that to any scavengers that may be combing the crater floor. This can be exploited by the player: wait for a fight to end (invariably with the explosion of at least one moth), and you can nab the cargo yourself. You can even exploit the rudimentary physics engine and grab it before it falls to the ground.
  • Obvious Beta: One of the later patches - unofficial, but created from official content - had a lot of experimental content that Software Refinery were working on before they folded. This included a complete overhaul of the economy, intended to make it more realistic and dynamic. Sadly, the bugs hadn't yet been worked out, so applying this patch creates an economy that freezes solid after a few days of game time. Oh, and savegames are corrupted at random.
  • One-Hit Kill: The Devastator missile, which kills an enemy Moth in a single shot regardless of shield level. The drawback of this weapon is a very slow traveling speed, which can be exploited by countermeasures and/or deft turning.
    • However, this is subverted if you use it on a Moth when inside a tunnel; it only merely causes minor shield damage due to a bug.
  • The Pardon: Described in the main community site as "amnesty". This is when you've offended the Police or a particular faction by doing crimes just to get on their bad side and then do something for them to grant you a reprieve. The most obvious example is attacking their particular Moth. You'll have a price put on your head if you attack or, goodness forbid, destroy a Moth belonging to a particular faction or destroy trader and/or scavenger Moths. The easiest way to solve this is to destroy a pirate Moth (i.e. any Moth with a Medium Pod). This will clear your record immediately once you've killed the pirate. However, if you're in a pickle with any faction other than the Police, it becomes more complicated. You'll have to observe one of their transport Moths being attacked by that particular pirate. This is the break you'll need: target the pirate Moth and destroy it to clear your record. Once done, all is well for you in Titan.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Obviously averted, as pirates can be seen attacking innocent traders and/or scavengers for their valuable cargo, as well as having the fortitude to attack transport moths from the major factions for the same reasons. You, too, can fall victim to pirate attacks for whatever cargo you have in your hold even if you only carry as much as about 10 bits of scrap metal. Then again, you also can be a pirate, though you will suffer the same consequences as they have doing so (i.e. being wanted by the police, the factions, etc.). Eventually, someone's going to have to tip the balance of life in Titan...
  • Player Mooks: Later versions allowed you to hire them, assign them aircraft and equipment, and have them do stuff for you, like flying escort missions, killing specific targets, transporting cargo between your hangars, selling goods to other hangars, or keeping your manufacturing operations supplied with raw materials.
  • Point Defenseless: The faction buildings have laser turrets that should, presumably, protect them, but they are of no threat at all to even the lightest Moth in the game.
  • Police Are Useless: Played with. They can actually handle petty crooks like pirates and smugglers rather well, but are so horribly outmatched by the big factions that they pretty much just stand idly by and let them do whatever they want. A mod that enables the Police to do about their business with no drop in morale was made so that the game would have more immersion and lessens the threat of pirate attacks. Unfortunately, this doesn't work in the patches after U3.00 Beta #5 and before U3.00 Beta #4, so for now, you'll just have to stick with pirates endlessly pursuing valuable cargo from traders/scavengers/faction transporters/etc. without fear of being attacked by the Police.
    • Fixed in the latest patch, HUP 6.00, part of UIM v6. Among the various improvements in this patch, the Police are now finally able to patrol Misplaced Optimism with absolutely no drop in morale. Now pirates are no longer exempt from getting away with their crimes and will get subjected to karmic retaliation without the player's intervention.
  • Ramming Always Works: The game doesn't register kills if they do not happen via direct weapon hits, so wise management of one's shields can allow for consequence-free killings by simply ramming the target until they blow up.
  • Recursive Ammo: The Swarm missiles split up in four smaller missiles which robotech on the target, minimizing the effect of anti-missile flares.
    • The Fireburst bomb launches several explosive energy balls that deal massive damage to a Moth's shields and engines, further confounding the effect of countermeasures.
  • Respawning NPCs: After a Moth is destroyed, another will take its place. In the case of pirates, they will keep respawning after being killed until you buy off their hangars, provided you know their names.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: One crude but potentially very useful strategy in the game is when an enemy has targeted you, you can fly near another moth (often by bumping into it first), and then cause the enemy's stray shots to hit that moth instead of you, thereby joining the fight to stop your would-be killer. This can be very effective if you want to escape a dogfight, or even better, appease a faction that you've offended. Especially when you've gotten into the wrong side of the Police and/or the Klamp-G/Lazarus factions, you can use a moth (mainly a Pirate moth if you don't carry cargo) as bait so that you can kill the bait moth for amnesty.
  • Skybox: Subverted in that the game has no real visible sky. Apparently Titan has a very dense atmosphere, so everything beyond a few hundred meters is hidden in a sort of pinkish mist. Looking up merely lets you see a few low-hanging clouds, then more mist.
  • Subsystem Damage: Every Moth's hull integrity indicator is its main health meter (the zeroing of which will result in Critical Existence Failure), but there are several indicators for subsystems - engines, weapons, electronics and such. Some weapons damage one particular subsystem leaving the others alone, which is relatively useless to the player but very annoying when you're hit by one and (say) your Moth slows to a crawl because your hull is still strong but your engines are shot.
  • The Taxi: Misplaced Optimism has such a service for your ferrying needs, in the form of Moon Moths. However, it's generally treated as a novelty among many players unless they're using multiplayer.
  • Trick Missile: The Power Leach missile does no damage whatsoever, but it'll attach to the target moth and drain its power cell, forcing it to drastically slow down and flee to a lightwell to recharge. This can only be done once a moth's shields are out as firing the missile when it still has shields is effectively useless.
  • Vader Breath: You actually do this during the cutscenes with Xavier Lazarus. Oddly enough, it sounds almost eerily similar to the original effect that Star Wars utilizes.
  • We Buy Anything / We Sell Everything: Trade Central and any building with the words "Trading Post" in it. Also, Reservoir Trading.
    • In the later patches, you can turn any of your hangars into one, with or without manufacturing kits.
  • Weak Turret Gun: The laser turret is probably the weakest of the primary weapons for a moth, but at least it fires fast and has an auto-tracking ability that minimizes misfiring incidents against non-hostile moths.
    • Exaggerated even further with the turret-mounted faction buildings: they are so weak and fire every five seconds that even the Silver-Y moth can breeze past by without taking so much as a caress on its shields.
  • Weapons That Suck: The Groundbase missile creates a cone of gravitational inversion that sucks the target moth to the ground, giving impact damage proportional to the distance of the dive and trapping it in place for a few seconds, plus impairing the AI's ability to fight for another few seconds after the effect ends as it regains its bearing. Also, it is one of only two weapons that don't get you credited for a direct kill, the other being the Devastator missile.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: As with most others commercial/fighting games, there's so very, very much to do outside of the plot that the programmers included an option to start a game entirely without it, just so you can play for the hell of it.
  • Wreaking Havok: The physics engine can be exploited for considerable profit. For instance: catching dropped cargo is made a lot harder by the presence of other scavengers in the game world, getting their drones to precious jettisoned cargo boxes before you. However, when a drone is ejected its speed gets added to that of the originating moth - even if it's flying in the opposite direction. This makes it possible to fly at breakneck speed at cargo boxes, deploy the drone right when you're above them, and nab them before they even reach the ground - often stealing them right under the nose of NPC drones, who are ejected by their ships with zero additional speed.
    • If you manage to lure your enemy into a tunnel while he/she still has cargo, you can exploit the physics engine by taking the cargo after killing him/her. For some reason, once the cargo is dropped in the tunnels, no scavenger or pirate would even bother to go there to pry it out of your hands, presumably because they don't want to risk collisions with other moths in the tunnels. Which leaves the lion's share all for you. This can be a ridiculously easy way to get rich in the game without using the God Hangar, especially if that cargo is highly valuable like alcohol, narcotics, etc.


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