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Video Game: Escape Velocity
aka: Escapevelocity
A series of three open-ended sci-fi shareware computer games from 1996 to 2002, published by Ambrosia Software for the Macintosh (though the last is also available for Windows). Looks like Asteroids, plays like Elite.

Though being part of the same series, the games are not connected by any sort of overarching plot, very much like Final Fantasy. In each, you start with nothing more than a simple shuttlecraft and are free to more or less do what you want. While the first game required the player to pick one side or the other in the ongoing galactic conflict, later games introduced more complex politics. Since the third game is the only one still updated, the publisher has released free Total Conversion plug-ins containing the scenarios from the first two games.

  • Escape Velocity (1996) - The original. After humanity beat back galactic invaders and destroyed them, the planets closer to Earth (The Confederacy) began pushing the outer systems around, causing them to rebel (The Rebellion). They are locked in a bloody stalemate throughout the game.
  • Escape Velocity: Override (1998) - The middle one. Humanity (United Earth [and her colonies]) is fighting against an evil alien race (the Voinians). Naturally, the two sides are locked in a bloody stalemate. Curious players are likely to discover the advanced Crescent aliens, consisting of the peacefully aloof Miranu and the bitterly warring Strand polities.
  • Escape Velocity: Nova (2002) - The last game made. Taking the Absent Aliens of the first game's setting even further, the different “races” are the result of numerous human diaspora, all of which dislike each other with varying fervor. These include The Federation from Earth (and their B.o.I.I.), the enslaved Vell-os, the Auroran Empire, and the advanced Polaris.
  • Naev, an open source clone available here, subtitled Sea of Darkness, exists on all three major platforms. The plot is based around an ill-defined "Incident" in which the Sun is destroyed, leaving the remains of a Vestigial Empire and several Houses bickering over territory.

EV Nova has its own wiki here.

This series provides examples of:

  • 2-D Space: That's how the game plays out, although Nova attempts to give 3-D graphic effects to a 2-D platform. That combined with Zerg Rush, below, makes combat turn out like jousting.
  • Absent Aliens:
    • Subverted in Classic. The game had them in the backstory, but humanity wiped them out after they tried to do the same to us. There's still one last alien cruiser floating around out there, though.
    • Averted entirely in Override.
    • Played with in Nova, which has the Wraith north of Polaris space. They only have any role in the Polaris storyline, and a small one at that. Double Subverted with the Krypt, which are derived from the former Vell-os ruling council, making them a human offshoot instead of true aliens.
    • Inverted in the Polycon TC for Nova. Humanity exists, but we're still using Soyuz. Earth is an Insignificant Little Blue Planet.
  • A.I. Breaker: As one forum commenter put it, "the AI doesn't use any techniques more advanced than 'charge', 'charge in a group', or 'fire missiles then charge'." This means that the player can always get more out of their ship than the AI can, and three techniques in particular for abusing the AI have become so well-known they've acquired names (see Attack Pattern Alpha, below).
  • The Alliance: A rebellion against their respective “empires” in both the original and Nova (and, in the last case, also the anti-Bureau alliance the Rebellion makes with the Polaris and the Heraan House in almost all the storylines.
    • Word of God reveals this was the trope for United Earth of Override, but things have been formalizing into something more similar to The Federation in the time since the Voinian invasion was beaten back, at least regarding interstellar matters (the colonies, foreign policy, the United Earth Navy). More obviously an alliance, there is the UE/Emalgha/Hinwar Alliance that forms against the Voinians during the course of the UE missions.
    • In Nova, the Auroran Empire is a loose confederation of warrior houses.
  • all lowercase letters / No Punctuation Period / Think in Text / Translation Punctuation: Vell-os telepathy in Nova is depicted as such. <they talk like this although theyre not really speaking theyre manipulating your surface thoughts>
  • All Planets Are Earthlike: Mostly straight, though many planets are outright uninhabitable, and some have been terraformed.
  • All There in the Manual: Override had some of this (most importantly, the out-right stating that the Strands are all the same species), but Nova goes beyond that, having seven Preambles of varying explanatory effect on the game, revealing such things as when certain states and organizations were formed, what preceded them, how the Rebellion's informant network is organized, etc.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Done by the Federation to the Rebels in the Fed storyline.
  • Alternate Universe: Each game takes place in a new universe.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: By Word of God, although hints are in-game: Turns out the Council of Override has spent the last few millenia keeping the Strand War balanced, with no side being allowed to gain a permanent upper hand- and the entire War was their decision in the first place, as a scheme to ensure the species' long-term survival (one faction being rejected for putting the species at too much risk from internal unrest and outside threats, two factions being rejected as being inherently unstable and hard to keep balanced). Humans end up upsetting the system so much that the Council decides on enacting Plan B, a single empire united under them.
  • Animal Theme Naming / Arms And Armor Theme Naming / Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Most factions throughout the franchise don't have any recognizable naming convention for their capital ships. The exceptions are the Vell-os and Polaris in Nova, who use projectile weapons and animals respectively.
    • The Auroran interceptor and fighter-bomber are the Firebird and Phoenix, respectively. Their Federation counterparts are the Viper and Anaconda.
  • Apocalypse How:
    • Nova's backstory contains a war between the Colonial Council and the Vell-os, which ends in the Vell-os being enslaved to the Colonials and succeeding Earth-led governments. Following the Vell-os surrender, the Colonial Council used WMDs to render all but one of the formerly Vell-os-ruled planets uninhabitable. The planet Korell on the extreme western edge of Vell-os space somehow escaped notice.

      Not long after, a dissatisfied Colonial Council member leaked the security codes for the Sol hypergate to the Armetis terrorist group, who blew it up. This sent a shockwave through hyperspace that outright destroyed around half the hypergates and rendered the others inoperable. This resulted in Galactic/Societal Collapse and the destruction of any semblance of organized interstellar government.
    • In Nova proper, the Federation and Vell-os storylines result in four of the six Auroran capitals being depopulated at the hands of the Federation Navy and the Bureau-subverted House Moash.
      • Pollution from extreme overpopulation had already resulted in biosphere destruction on all six Auroran capitals.
    • They also do it to New Ireland in one ending of the Wild Geese string. At least, they try. The New Irish are a tenacious bunch, and manage to restore life to their planet a couple in-game years later.
    • Though not possible in-game, the developers make it possible to destroy planets with Game Mods.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: Can be justified for everything except weapons that rely purely on kinetic energy.
  • Arcology: In Nova the Auroran capital planets each have at least one large arcology where their tens of billions of inhabitants live, due largely to the planet being too polluted to support life anymore.
  • Artifact Title: Override has a variant — it's called Override because it began as a mod overriding the original (this being 1996, the term 'Total Conversion' had not yet become as common as it is these days). What was released was, of course, an actual sequel.
  • Artistic License - Military:
    • The original Escape Velocity had a major become an admiral. That's not even trying.
    • EV Nova may have an example with General Smart, a Federation officer who defected to the Rebels and is now in charge of their Space Navy. The Federation Navy appears to use US Navy ranks (the two named Federation officers, Krane and Raczak, are a commander and an admiral respectively), so the only way to resolve it is by having the Rebels use Army or Air Force ranks. Given that the Rebels are of Federation extraction, this seems unlikely.
    • Possibly, he was an actual Federation General (in charge of some sort of ground troops, one imagines) who defected and was put in charge of the Rebel navy because eh close enough.
      • He might not have been a commander of ground troops — the backstory has him taking command and saving the day for the Federation at a time when defeat seemed almost certain, but many countries have their marines be a part of their Navy but use Army ranks, and it would have given experience with ships (since his marines would be on ships)...
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Nova has six main storylines. Four feature this trope in some part (the Vell-os ascend after you help liberate them, and the endings mention this as being humanity's ultimate destiny), and, of those four, two has it as a central part of the story: the Vell-os storyline, in which you participate in their ascension, and the Polaris storyline, in which you — heavily implied to be the universe in human shape — explicitly merge with the universe after convincing the Polaris to sacrifice their civilization to bring peace and helping their plan to pull that off work.
    • Some of the epilogues indicate that humanity eventually merges with the universe, becoming Precursors to an unnamed alien race.
  • Asteroid Miners: In Nova, certain asteroids can be mined for metal and water.
    • And Opals as well, mine them in the Fomalhaut system then sell them off on Serenity in the Lotus system for big credits.
  • The Asteroid Thicket: There are a LOT of asteroids. However, the asteroids themselves pose no real threat to ships or other asteroids, only really getting in the way of combat. Though they can be mined in Nova.
  • Attack Drone: You can hire/capture escorts and launch fighters from capital ships; they're destroyable, though.
  • Attack Pattern Alpha: Three well-known maneuvers which abuse the AI have earned proper names from the fandom.
    • The "Monty Python Maneuver" makes use of the series' partial aversion of Space Friction to fly away from multiple targets while shooting backwards. The name refers to the instances in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the knights yell "Run away!"
    • The "Not the Nine O'Clock News Maneuver" allows the player to land on blockaded planets. Instead of blasting your way through, you lure the enemy away from the planet, then double back around the enemy fleet.
    • The "Qaanol Maneuver", named after its inventor, involves using an absurdly fast ship to draw the enemy's fire while your escorts make the kill.
  • Author Avatar: Ships like the Andrew Welch from the first game are named after the game's creators. They are indestructible.
    • This has become a tradition both in the basic scenarios and in the modding community.
    • In Nova, a large number of developers, producers, and random associates of the project can be spotted tooling around in their own custom ships. Most are overwhelmingly powerful, but some are downright puny.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Thunderhead Lance comes stock with the Thunderhead Heavy fighter, can be bought at Rebel II in the Koria system for 100,000 credits, does considerable damage, but its short Beam range forces you to get very close to your target, and by then you would get shredded.
    • Actually, on any ship with decent speed, they're one of the most powerful and effective weapons, despite the beam being shorter than Frodo Baggins.
    • The pirate version of the ship, reasonably enough, sticks another engine on.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Stud Beefpile, among others; many of them are Shout Outs to Space Mutiny.
  • Bag of Sharing: For some reason, when you mine asteroids with cargo escorts in Nova, the asteroid bits seem to somehow magically teleport to your fleet's freighters.
  • Battle Halting Duel: The Flavor Text for the Auroran Firebird in Nova mentions that entire fleet battles between Auroran and Federation naval forces sometimes come to a halt to watch dogfights between famed Firebird and Viper pilots.
  • The Battlestar: All the heavy capital ships except the Auroran Thunderforge qualify.
  • Betting Mini-Game: In each game, the spaceport bar contains some sort of gambling.
  • Bilingual Bonus / Meaningful Name:
    • The name Voinians seems to originate from the Russian word "voyna" ("war"); the same with Miranu and "mir" ("peace"). There's also Dogovor, a system where a treaty between Voinians and the UE was signed; "dogovor" means "treaty" in Russian.
    • The Space Station in the Dogovor System is Pax Station. "Pax" is Latin for "peace".
  • Bizarre Alien Psychology: The Krypt in Nova believes itself to be the only intelligent creature in the universe.
  • Blessed with Suck: Inertialess ships. Sounds cool, looks awesome, steers like a cow.
  • Breakable Weapons: It's possible to design outfits that wear out after a given amount of time by putting together two oütf resources (one for the good version, one for the bad version) and a crön resource (a time delay) that replaces one with the other. Nova's in-game example is the cheap versions of the Fission Reactor (which breaks down after a few months) and the Thorium Reactor (which becomes an explosion waiting to happen).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Nova, the description of the planet Our Spiel, to which the player is teleported once they beat a storyline.
  • But Thou Must: Once you have started the Vell-os storyline, even without realizing you have done so (it's started by a perfectly normal, innocuous cargo run), it's impossible to get out of it — attempting to cancel the mission will cause the entire Federation navy to hunt you down and kill you. When the time comes for your character to be arrested, it will always happen, even if you have a crew of 250 and two full mercenary platoons with you.
    • An attentive player can notice that there is something off with that normal cargo run, but it requires that random chance doesn't put it up too early: ordinary cargo runs never goes to Earth, which that one doesnote . It is also possible to get out of the Vell-os storyline by rejecting (that is, saying no to, rather than aborting) the second mission (you are still hunted by the Federation, but you are told where to go to get them to stop following you - and that somewhere is three jumps away) - but you are still locked out from five of the six storylines, just with the Vell-os story as one of the those five instead.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Nova's pirate string, where almost four-fifths of it was dedicated to trade runs, both legal and illegal, message conveyances, as well as the fetching of certain people, all of that eventually adding up to an alliance with the Rebellion, a daily salary, and the launch of the Heavily Modified-class Pirate Carrier Unrelenting.
  • Cool Starship:
    • Again, you can buy it if you complete certain mission for a faction. There are several. The Igazra from Override, and the Unrelenting and the Thunderforge from Nova.
    • Main Nova fans would argue the point in favor of the in-universe considered Cool Starship: the Mod Starbridge.
    • Nova's Polaris Raven. Not only is it one of the biggest and most powerful capitol ships in the game, it also looks like a spiky black manta ray with feelers... feelers that emit a death ray. Also, it can become completely invisible to radar at a whim. In fact, a lot of the Polaris ships qualify, as they're created by dipping a spaceship skeleton into an organic medium, causing it to grow an entire organic body. This allows these ships to benefit from more efficient shield, fuel, and even armor regeneration, simply because they're all produced organically.
    • Also, any of the Vell-os ships. They're projections of the pilot's mind.
    • The Federation Carrier "Heavy Missile" variant can be modified to fly as fast as fighter craft. It gets to keep the heavy shields, armor and a massive amount of weapons slots.
    • The Voinian Dreadnought from Override. Holy crap. It cannot be acquired in a normal game, but with a lot of patience and luck, you can disable and then capture it for yourself. It's slow, large and impractical, but it has the highest armor out of any ship in the game.
      • Its slowness is a major reason that many people, if they capture it, choose to use it as an escort rather than their own ship.
      • Most of the end-game ships are unpleasantly slow (Unrelenting, Raven, Federation Carrier) because they are carrier-class warships. The Kestrel (a bonus ship available only after the end) is an exception, but ultimately the most maneuverable ships are souped-up Starbridges or Mantas. Depending on their piloting style, players may prefer to stick with a heavily upgraded mid-game fighter until the end instead of going for the Big Fucking Spaceship.
    • Frankly, every ship in Nova except for shuttles and Terrapins are badass. Even Leviathans.
      • ESPECIALLY Leviathans. Using the maximum amount of mass conversions, retools, Sigma conversions, and getting additional ports for guns and turrets, someone on YouTube made a warship out of one, earning it's rightful place for this trope.
      • It's called a "mass mod"; you could do it in the previous games as well, though not to Nova's extent.
  • Crapsack World: Nova to some extent, though it never quite loses a hopeful tone. The Federation is a police state thanks to the elected government having been suborned by one of its intelligence agencies, and has the Vell-os enslaved to it. The Auroran Empire is a loose confederation of warrior houses that fight among themselves as often as they fight the Federation. The Polaris are xenophobic isolationists with a higher tech base that lets them blow away anyone who looks at them cross-eyed. Then there's all the Space Pirates floating around. On the other hand, there are a great many people trying to make things better. The Rebellion against the Federation, for instance, which seeks to destroy the Bureau and restore democracy to the Federation's government.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Cap'n Hector would come at you with one of these if you didn't register the game within a month. It may not be impossible to survive him, but it's highly unlikely.
    • As someone who back in high school took over most of the known galaxy with Hector on my tail the entire time, I can attest that the challenge is more tedious than entertaining. Register the game.
  • Dead Man Writing: Techerakh, Thurokiir of Heraan and the Player Character's mentor in the Auroran string, is killed in action about two-thirds into the plot. He leaves a message for the player that ends in the line "Unite us, then lead us to victory."
  • Disability Immunity: In Nova, neither the game nor the manual explains what the Vell-os nanite organ actually does beyond being necessary for a Vell-os's life (presumably it has something to do with their long lives), but the fact that you aren't actually a Vell-os and so lack it ends up being very important in the Vell-os storyline: a powerful enough telepath could sidestep the control mechanism in the slave implant for a few seconds and simply remove it, but as the device is hooked into the nanite organ, doing so would be lethal to a Vell-os. The Bureau, not realizing that you aren't actually a Vell-os, never bothered to add additional safeguards in case you got that powerful...
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • Earn Your Title / Red Baron: Auroran battle names, earned for feats of combat skill. During his time as a Heraani warrior Eamon Flannigan gained the moniker "Archindar", meaning "he who refuses to die", after he covered a retreat via a rear-guard action wherein he repeatedly destroyed the Moashi fleet's forward scouting elements. The Auroran storyline gets the Player Character dubbed first "Little Wolf", then "KarHallarn, Leader of the Pack". The Aurorans also give such names to entire military units; the Wild Geese are called the "Archekro", meaning "they who dance with blood and war".
  • Elite Mook:
    • In Nova, each ship has several variants. One might also single out Polaris Nil'kimas craft (which are significantly better than regular Polaris ships, but these are the Polaris: you wet yourself regardless of type.)
    • Also, the Pirate Valkyrie IV, FULL STOP.
    • As well, the Pirate Starbridge D, Rebel Starbridge D and Mod Starbridge D and E, and Rebel Valkyrie IV and V. All of these are technically light freighters like their lesser cousins, but mount capital-ship grade weapons like ion cannon, railguns, and Hellhound launchers.
  • The Empire:
    • The Confederation in the original. Also, the Bureau of Internal Investigation — and by extension, the Federation — in Nova, and, of course, the Voinian Empire in Override.
    • It's called The Empire outright in Naev.
    • In Nova, the literal "Empire" more closely models a Proud Warrior Race and Feudal Future, as it is a collection of noble houses that fight amongst one another rather than a monolithic authoritarian body.
  • Escort Mission: Somewhat inverted, as the engine is only built to support other ships following the player, not the other way around. You still have to see your charge safely to their destination.
  • Fan Nickname: "Mass-modding" involves converting a freighter into a Q-ship. Start with freighter with decent stats like an Enterprise or Leviathan, the bigger the cargo bay the better. Buy mass expansions until you can't fit any more. You now have a smaller cargo bay and a lot more room for weapons.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Polaris in Nova have an occupation-based caste system; citizens are assigned to castes based on aptitude tests. The Kel'ariy are the governing caste, the Ver'ash are doctors and medical researchers, the P'aedt do most other science research, the Nil'kemorya are the military, and the Tre'pira are the labor caste (which ranges from construction all the way up to ship captains). Oddly the Tre'pira are the most honored caste because they're seen as the backbone of Polaran society.
    • The Sixth Ranger caste is the Mu'hari, a caste created after the Polaris Civil War. These are made up solely of citizens who failed the tests to enter another caste. They learn a little of everything, but their primary duty is to ensure the survival of Polaran society, which in practice makes them the Polaran diplomatic and intelligence service, as well as providing internal security.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel:
    • Instantaneous "hypergates" in Nova, in addition to normal ship drives.
    • In Nova, the multi-jump organ allows your ship to perform up to 10 instant hyperjumps for the cost of one. It blows Hypergates out of the water.
  • The Federation:
    • The United Earth of Override is a union of the countries of Earth, is generally good, and has a Parliament. It began as an Alliance, but has grown tighter since then, with plans to introduce a common currency mentioned in-game and Word of God mentioning it doesn't fall apart after the Voinans are effectively defeated.
    • The Federation of Nova was as a Federation in the backstory, and in four out of six storylines becomes one again.
  • Fictional Document: Several of Nova's preambles contain excerpts from these. We've got minutes of a Federation government meeting, part of a memoir by Eamon Flannigan of the Wild Geese, and an essay on the Mu'hari among other things.
  • Final Death: An optional mode of play is "Strict Play", which deletes your character file if you die in the game, rather than allowing you to just reload it as you would if you were playing normally. Fortunately, escape pods can be used to escape from your ship if you have this enabled, but you start over in a shuttlecraft and lose any legal status you've gained in systems. This can be annoying, as often, you need a certain legal status to take a mission.
    • On the other hand, resetting your legal status also means you'll no longer be attacked if you had previously pissed off a government.
  • Flying Saucer: Mentioned as having existed in Override — the current generation of Miranu ships are based on a half-saucer design (cut vertically), but an older version of the Scout was apparently a full saucer. Theories of the Miranu having visited Earth at the time remain unconfirmed.
  • Forklift Fu: An Easter Egg Lethal Joke Item lets you launch forklifts at enemies, which explode massively on contact. It is a direct reference to the MST3K episode Fugitive Alien, complete with soundbite.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: The Polaris' and Vell-os' hat in terms of weapons.
  • Game Mod: Hundreds, ranging from cheats to total conversions. The data files were easily editable via ResEdit and numerous fan-made graphical editors. Nova even has official GUI editors.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: Played straight in Override between the United Earth and the Voinian Empire. Inverted in Nova, where the Federation is The Empire, and the Auroran Empire is really a loose confederation of warrior houses.
  • Great Offscreen War:
    • Classic had an alien invasion that nearly resulted in humanity being wiped out. The Confederation managed to turn the tables on the aliens but there's still a leftover alien cruiser floating around out there somewhere.
    • The First United Earth-Voinian War in Override, again an alien invasion in which the Voinians attempted to overrun and enslave humanity and were handed a disastrous defeat at Sol.
    • Nova's more extensive backstory gives a longer list. Read the official timeline for the complete story.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: Factions flagged as "xenophobic" will be hostile to anyone not of a faction marked as an ally. This is most often used for creating Space Pirates; so are the aliens in the first game. There's also an "always attacks player" flag which is supposed to be used only for mission-specific ships.
  • Hit-and-Run Tactics: Due to the game's poor grasp of real-life physics and the blindly-aggressive AI, such tactics are favorable in combat. This leads to the infamous "Monty Python" and "Not the Nine O'Clock News" maneuvers.
  • Human Subspecies: After they left Earth using their Psychic Powers around 980 AD, the Vell-os evolved separately from mainline humanity. They developed an organ that produces nanites.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: Only certain system-to-system jumps are possible.
  • Hyperspeed Escape
  • Invisible Wall: In Escape Velocity and Override, flying out far enough from the center of a system will cause one to fly into an invisible wall, rather than being transported to the next system as some games allow. In Nova, the player's ships and all nearby ships are instead teleported to the opposite "edge" of the system, allowing for more breathing room when you're being chased down by enemy fighters.
    • The initial release of Escape Velocity had a similar setup to the Nova system, but would crash the game when reached. The method described above was implemented to prevent the crash, and was kept until Nova's release.
  • Legacy Starship: The Atinoda Kestrel, the most powerful civilian-legal starship in Classic, reappears in Nova, available on Our Spiel if you have 50 million credits when you beat the game.
    • If you purchase it, it turns out to be decidedly underwhelming, though.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
  • Mad Scientist: To some extent, Olaf Greyshoulders (who is your uncle if you're in the Pirate string) of Nova. He is the brains behind the Pirate Carrier, one of the most powerful and versatile pirate warships in the game, as well as the creator of the sensor boosters and jammers that well-to-do pirates install on their vessels. He is also the owner of Greyshoulders Dockyards (the shipyard at Viking in the Tichel system), which sells every single pirate vessel in the game. This is despite the fact that he does all this in the open, under the eyes of the lawful Federation.
  • Mega Corp.: Sigma Shipyards in Nova is an engineering corporation based on the Kane Band around Earth whose main business is constructing and upgrading starships. The company also controls its own shipping line and supply chain, and has control of what's left of the hypergate system. Interestingly for this trope, Sigma is portrayed fairly positively: Donald Chick, formerly a member of the board of directors, now works for the Rebels, and Sigma provides them surreptitious backing.
  • Merging The Branches: Override told its story "Rashomon"-Style according to Word of God. Officially all the endings happened.
  • Mile-Long Ship: Aurora Carriers and Polaris Ravens are 1.2 km long.
  • Misguided Missile: One of the flags in the wëap resource makes it possible for missiles to lock onto the originating ship if their intended target jams them.
  • Morale Mechanic: Nova includes a mechanic that calculates the ratio of enemy strengthnote  to friendly strength and compares it to a ratio specified for their faction, above which they will attempt to retreat rather than continue fighting.
  • More Dakka: Literally, chainguns. More figuratively, Auroran ships embody this trope, using a wide variety of heavy weapons to project a ballistic stream of death down-range. Federation ships prefer a heavy barrage of missiles, while Polaran ships have beam weapons.
  • Multiple Endings: All of the games except Override (which did have multiple storylines; it just turned out all of them happened), although, as the No Ending entry notes, the effect is rather minuscule in Escape Velocity Classic.
  • Mutant Draft Board: In Nova, all telepaths in Federation space are enslaved by the Bureau.
    • A plot point in the Vell-os storyline rests on the fact that technically, it is the Vell-os rather than telepaths per se that are supposed to be enslaved (unofficially. Officially, even the Vell-os serve voluntarily), it is just that at first the only telepaths known are the Vell-os. You aren't actually a Vell-os, but your immense telepathic potential leads the Bureau to think you are one.
  • No Ending: It was totally impossible to affect the war in the original game, even if you personally conquered and dominated every planet in the galaxy. Override allowed you to make permanent changes on the galaxy, but the strings of missions end without either side being completely defeated, leading some people to make plug-ins that finish the story. Nova finally allows you to actually finish its wars to victory, though at great cost.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The Auroran preamble mentions that warriors occasionally acquire "blood enemies" who will seek to ensure their survival until they get the opportunity to kill them in a ritualized duel. Narrator Eamon Flannigan remarks that hopefully old age will render both him and his blood enemy Nyiaarh unable to fight before this ever comes to pass.
  • Opening Scroll: In Classic and Override. Nova's game engine changes it to a non-scrolling Opening Narration or Opening Montage, depending on the game files used.
  • Outrun the Fireball: The Loading Screen for Nova, which shows a Valkyrie and Starbridge doing just that.
  • Pass Through the Rings: A rare NPC example. The Betting Minigame for Nova exchanges the first two games' slot machine for gambling on a space race with Viper fighters doing this.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The Auroran preamble discusses a disgraced Heraani warrior named Turo'mar, also known as "The Claimer" or the Tharakoodesh, who kills those who attack the innocent. He leaves the headless corpse behind with the message,
    Thus die those who attack the innocent. Death's harvest is rich with the blood of cowards, and the virtuous have the strength to reap it. The claimer is here. Take heed...
  • Person as Verb: "Pulling a Monty Python" is EV slang for turning around and shooting backwards while flying on inertia.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Numerous weapons. Neutron turrets are superior to proton turrets, which are superior to laser turrets.
  • Physical God: The player winds up as this at the end of the Polaris and Vell-os (maybe Auroran) strings. Especially the latter, as you get a large bonus to your shield rating, no matter what ship. The T0 rank becomes great fun when you are equipped with a Kestrel.
    • Storywise, you are painted as even more of a god-powered being then the game mechanics say — the climax of the Vell-os story is single-handedly storming the Bureau headquarters, after having warned them that you were planning to do exactly that (your plan requires them to have time to prepare).
  • Portal Network: The hypergate network in Nova allows starships to travel between certain star systems instantaneously, whereas using your ship's built-in hyperdrive can go more places but takes anywhere from one to three days per jump depending on the mass of your ship. Unfortunately many of the gates were destroyed by a terrorist attack on the Sol gate in the backstory, and the knowledge to build more of them was lost in the subsequent collapse of the Colonial Council. Nowadays Sigma Shipyards controls the remaining network in its entirety, and gaining access requires their approval.
  • Precursors: In Nova, Those Who Came Before. They appear to have merged with the universe en masse centuries before humanity reached space, leaving constructs like the rings around Kont and Kel'ar Iy, and the ringworld Tre'ar Helonis.
    • Some of the epilogues mention that humanity in turn became a precursor race to another species by similar means.
  • Press X to Die: Literal version. Holding down Cmd-D (Ctrl-D on Windows) for ten seconds triggers your self-destruct sequence.
  • Promoted Fanboy: As a matter of fact, both the later games originated as ambitious total conversion fan plug-in projects before Ambrosia recruited them whole.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • The Aurorans, especially the Heraan House.
      • Ironically, of the Auroran Houses, the Heraan also happen to be the one that most remembers that non-warriors can be worthy of respect (and not just grudging respect, at that). And that's why THEY'VE got cool toys like the Argosy and Thunderforge — because they actually fund scientific research.
    • Over in Polaris space, the Nil'kemorya are Proud Soldier Race Guys.
  • Punny Name: The devs aren't above making jokes in the names of star systems. Like Tekel Over, for instance.
  • Random Transportation: Escape Velocity: Nova has 20note  wormhole ends that send ships instantlynote , but randomly, to other ends. By re-entering the wormholes it's possible to randomly cycle through them and end up the where you want.
  • "Rashomon"-Style:
    • You can only get the full story of Nova if you play every faction to the end. It's not too important, but several interesting details can be discovered. For instance, you are in fact the universe in human form, the Rebellion was started by the Federation as a way of finding all the would-be traitors, the Vell-os were from tenth century Earth (although that is also All There in the Manual), your father was the king of all the Pirates in the galaxy before being betrayed by McGowan, and that the Wild Geese are Irish (of course, their world is called New Ireland).
    • Do note that the nature of Frandall, the character's nature as the universe in human form (there is Wild Mass Guessing that the character in the Auroran string is humanity, taken as a whole, in a single human form, in the Vell-os storyline the character joins the Vell-os mental conglomeration, and in the Pirate storyline, the character doesn't unite humanity, one way or the other, which the Polaris storylines implies to be the raison d'etre for the universe to descend into human form in the first place) and quite possibly exactly who Olaf is an uncle for (in the Auroran storyline, you make contact with a person named Eiric whose father was killed by McGowan and who is leading a rejuvenated Association. Considering that that is exactly your role and background in the Pirate storyline...) is a Schrödinger's Gun.
      • In the Rebel storyline, Frandall is a jerk for the good guys, but in the Fed string, he's a jerk for the bad guys. Go figure.Spoilers! 
    • It is not apparent (there's a few hints that could imply this, or could mean something else) in the game itself without Word of God, but Override uses this for the mutually exclusive storylines — all of the storylines happened, so you have to play all of them to see Override's full story, but since all of the storylines can't have been done by the same human, you have to do so in multiple play-throughs.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: Nova uses "Mars, the Bringer of War" from Gustav Holst's The Planets Suite.
  • Recursive Ammo: The Polaris-designed Multi-Torpedo Launcher. Only their two largest capital ships mount it, but they can take out opposing warships in only a few shots.
  • Reference Overdosed: The first game is especially packed with them, from the forest moon of Endor to the joint-swelling, speech-degrading Torgo virus.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Averted in the first two games, which used the same stat bar for both armor and shields (your hull had to fully regenerate before your shields would come back online). Nova broke them into separate stat bars and played the trope straight with ships built from Federation and Auroran technology, but averted with Polaran living ships which can gradually heal hull damage.
  • The Remnant: In the Playable Epilogue to five of six plotlines in Nova, the Bureau is ousted from their control of the Federation and its lawfully elected government is restored to power. But you periodically run across Bureau remnant forces flying their trademark RAGE Gunboats, battling Federation Navy ships.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The ring around Kont is one, though only In-Universe: Word of God is that it's an ancient hypergate.
  • RPG Elements: It's an RPG in that you choose what side you're on, and being on nobody's side is a valid choice. You have a great deal of freedom on how to customize your ship, too, but you need a lot of credits for it.
  • Running Gag: Very, very many.
  • Running The Blockade: The Aurorian story line normally starts with the player being hired as a blockade runner and then doing multiple supply runs to the Dominance station.
  • Save Scumming:
    • A certain minor storyline in Nova gives you a permanent 750 credit per day wage, but only if someone does not die and the pirates accept your offer. Save scum away!
    • Another random fork in the Polaris missions will make available the best outfit in the game, though not till tens of missions later. Got the Collect Wraith Sample mission? You might want to kill EVN and retry till you get the Observe Cloaking mission.
  • Schmuck Bait: In Nova, you can occasionally be attacked by the Auroran Drop Bear in Auroran space. Repellent is sold at most outfitters, but it doesn't do any good.
    • It's been speculated that drop bears are actually Auroran warriors in disguise, mugging foreigners.
    • Thankfully, the attacks can stop completely if you go far enough in the Auroran storyline (obviously they wouldn't attack their own warriors), the Vell-Os storyline, (obviously able to detect their hostility and probably fry them with your abilities), or the Polaris storyline (You would be able to detect their weaves and subvert them).
  • Secret A.I. Moves: There are some ships, weapons and outfits that the game never meant for you to use, like a Polaris Raven with inertia [which comes with four Capacitor Pulse Lasers, Manta Bays, and Polaron Multi-Torpedo launchers that can fire while cloaking]. However, you can create plug-ins that allow you to access them.
    • Actually you could get ahold of those super-ships, no modding required — you just can't buy them. If you disabled, boarded and captured an AI-controlled ship that was using and illegal load-out, and you then chose to use that ship yourself, you would inherit the illegal load-out, and still have access to it. This was amusing to no end, when one captured one of the illegal load-out super-Ravens — the normal, player-accessible Raven already arguably being the most powerful ship in the game. A great way to get a very powerful ship early on was to capture a Starbridge D, which, if memory serves, had more space then and superior stats to any Starbridge you could actually buy — and still had more equipment installed than it had space for, even with the extra!
      • There are, however, some ships with unique pilots that are actually INVINCIBLE, meaning they cannot be captured, and thus inaccessible without cheating. Also, weapons that do not have a defined outfit (such as the super-weapons that planetary defenses use) are erased once you land at a planet.
  • Self Healing Phlebotinum: Polaris ships in Nova, being Living Ships, will gradually regenerate from hull damage.
  • Single-Biome Planet: Several planets are described in a manner that seems to give them a single biome.
    • Though this might be application of the Law of Conservation of Detail: the planetary description box has a limit on the amount of text it can display, and has no scrollbar.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Each entry in the series takes place in a completely different continuity from the others. EV Classic and EV Nova are tangentially connected because a Negative Space Wedgie kicked two Atinoda Kestrels from the Classic universe into Nova, but it's more of an Easter Egg than anything else and doesn't affect the plot.
  • Space Elevator: In Nova, the Kane Band is connected to Earth's equator by six of them, colloquially called "Kane's Ladders."
  • Space Flecks: In all three games.
  • Space-Filling Empire: Nova, compared to the previous games — both Classic and Override had a fair number of independent worlds. Nova has two.
  • Space Is Noisy
  • Space Pirates:
    • Lots and lots of space pirates. They're the most hated "faction" in every game so no government will care if you kill them.
    • You can become a space pirate yourself in any of the games. Also, there actually exists a good pirate faction in Nova, though you won't discover that until you follow the pirate string.
      • In EV Nova, the Association of Free Traders' (the good pirates) ships don't pirate anything but other pirates. They are formed of dock workers and merchantmen who found themselves out of work after the Federation started laying down much harsher import and export laws. In many ways, they are less like pirates and more like armed smugglers. The Guild pirates if they think they can get away with it, regular pirates pirate anything, period, and Marauders don't even try to pirate. They just try (and fail) to kill things.
    • The Marauders are despised by every other faction, even by the pirates themselves. If you are in the same system with a pirate and a Marauder, the pirate will kill the Marauder first, even if you have a lengthy history of blowing up their comrades.
  • Space Friction:
    • Partial aversion. Ships don't magically stop when they shut off their thrusters, and you can turn your ship in any direction without affecting your direction of movement, but all ships have a maximum speed, and a disabled ship will slowly drift to a halt.
    • Played straight, in a way, with the few inertialess vessels in Nova — a player getting his first Vell-os vessel would often yell WHEEEEEEEEE at finding out how nimble the bugger was. Also the ridiculously large Polaris Raven. These ships are usually less popular with players, since you can't pull the Monty Python maneuver without inertia.
      • Inertialess flight can also be frustrating since some of the most powerful weapons in the game are fixed weapons, meaning you have to be pointing your ship at what you want to shoot. With inertia, you can strafe around the target to maximize the damage you deal while minimizing the damage you receive (if you do it correctly). However, with inertia, attacking with a fixed weapons means you are forced to fly your ship directly at what you are attempting to shoot, which minimizes the amount of time you can keep your weapon trained on the target before you fly over it and have to turn around. This is especially frustrating if you want to shred an enemy with the Vell-os Winter Storm or a Polaris Raven's Capacitor Pulse Laser.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet:
    • In Nova, the Federation and Auroran Empire each have an interceptor, a fighter-bomber, a gunship, a light cruiser, and a carrier. The Federation adds a scoutship, while the Aurorans later develop a fast battleship designed for close-range brawling. The Polaris use living ships equivalent to fighters, gunships, frigates, destroyers, and two types of battleship/carrier hybrids. Meanwhile the Rebels have an interceptor, fighter-bomber, three different gunships, and two different cruisers.
    • EVC gives the Confederation and Rebels each a fighter, gunship, destroyer, and cruiser.
    • The UE in Override starts with a fighter, a destroyer and a carrier, and later adds a cruiser. The Voinians have a supply ship (the UE uses civilian contractors/ships), a 'heavy fighter' (more-or-less analogous to a fighter-bomber), an interceptor, a frigate, a cruiser and builds a dreadnought in the course of the story (which is promptly destroyed before it is even properly deployed).
  • Standard Sci-Fi History: Nova's backstory follows this structure almost to the letter. Humanity is currently in the Renaissance stage.
  • Standard Sci Fi Setting: The main twists Nova puts on it are: all the main factions are humans (or human offshoots, in the case of the Vell-os); there are no precursors for all intents and purposes (Those Who Came Before having been gone so long that nothing's really left of them); and that Space Marines are present but, due to the series taking place entirely in space, are basically ignored.
    • Though Space Marines are present and active in Nova, where the player can actually hire platoons of mercenaries to be stationed on their ship. Every platoon the player has aboard increases their odds of capturing ships when preforming boarding actions. However, every platoon also occupies five tons of expansion space for their barracks and armory.
  • Starfish Aliens:
    • The Wraithnote  in Nova. They can grow to 30 meters in size and look like the business end of a trident, live in gas giants, can cloak and enter hyperspace unaided, are telepathic, and can emit graviton beams.
    • Also the Krypt, the hive minded result of the Vell-os ruling council having imbued their minds into their nanites upon the Vell-os' surrender to the Colonial Council in 555 NC. The Krypt manifests as "krypt pods", weird purple-glowing spheres in the wastes west of Federation territory.
  • State Sec:
    • The Bureau of Internal Investigation in Nova. They control their own navy, and have authority over the Vell-os (IE, the only telepaths known to the Federation at the start of the game). They're also The Man Behind the Man to both the Federation and part of the Auroran Empire, and their leader wants to rule the galaxy from behind the scenes. They're not nice people.
    • Part of the mission statement of the Mu'hari is to ensure the survival of the Polaran people, whatever the cost. This means that they take on the State Sec / Secret Police role at times by necessity, but since they're treated as benevolent caretakers, this counts as a subversion.
  • Story Branching: Nova had six major and two minor storylines. Some of these storylines have multiple paths and/or endings and at certain points it's possible quit one storyline and start another.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: In the first two games, hostiles will always attack you. Even in a lightweight fighter against the best ships available. Nova's upgraded engine allows for individual governments to Know When to Fold 'Em at pre-programmed odds.
  • Terraform:
    • In all three games, Mars was the first planet to be terraformed. And it always Went Horribly Wrong, and the next few hundred years are spent trying to fix the mess.
    • Nova also lets you see somebody get it right in the Nirvana Terraforming questline: you deliver supplies to the eponymous terraforming company's proof-of-concept job, which turns the chlorine-atmosphere rock UHP-1002 into the class M planet Nirvana. The Polaris have largely mastered it, with several worlds listed as terraformed in the "hail planet" dialog.
  • Telepathic Spacemen:
    • The Vell-os in Nova, who left Earth using their powers around 980 AD.
    • The Polaris also have telepaths among their numbers, many of whom are in the Mu'hari.
    • The Wraith are also telepathic.
    • It is heavily implied in several of the storylines that the rest of humanity will become this as an intermediate step to Ascending To A Higher Plane Of Existence in the distant future.
  • Thematic Series: None of the games take place in the same universe as the others.
  • Toxic, Inc.: Astex Mining Corporation in the original, a Mega Corp. allied with the Confederation whose sole purpose in the plot is dumping toxic waste into the oceans of Diphidia II.
  • Tuckerization: All the leaders of Rebellion in EV Nova have surnames (or in case of Frandall, a code name) from the development team.
  • Units Not to Scale:
    • Many large warships are only slightly larger than their destroyer and light capital brethren.
    • Not to mention that some of the larger ships appear to be bigger than most planets. The game's scale is a bit messed up.
    • Also, the Polaris Striker and Dragon share the same in-universe length (50 meters) yet the sprite clearly shows the dragon being longer. (This is possibly a mistake by the developers.)
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Raiding civilian ships is a decent way to earn extra cash.
  • Villain Protagonist: At least one of the storylines in each game is arguably this: the Confederation string in Classic, the Voinian and two Renegade storylines in Override, and the Federation string (after a certain point of no return) in Nova.
  • Warp Whistle: Nova has the hypergate system, unlockable after the right mission(s), as well as wormholes hidden at the edges of certain systems.
  • Wave Motion Gun:
    • Plenty, although Nova's Capacitor Pulse Laser is probably the best example.
    • Nova's Winter Tempest weapon for the Vell-os. It does quite a bit of continuous damage and ignores shields, skipping straight to hull damage.
    • The Triphammers on the Thunderforge. An entire ship was built just to have them mounted onto. Removing them actually reduces the ship's performance.
  • We Come in Peace — Shoot to Kill: In the original and Override, the aliens and Voinians sort of did Type 2. The Classic aliens wanted to kill us, while the Voinians wanted to enslave us. Nova's a little more complicated. First contact between the Polaris and Wraith ended up as Type 1 when Polaran border patrol ships thought some young Wraith playfully buzzing them were attacking and killed them.
  • Wide Open Sandbox:
    • Very wide. All of the games have large galaxy maps.
    • Some total conversions for Nova, notably Starfleet Adventures and EV Nova: United Galactic Federation, feature map sizes bordering on ridiculous.
  • X Meets Y: As previously mentioned, the look of Asteroids meets the gameplay of Elite.
  • Zerg Rush: In many missions, the player has to deal with this. The AI can only handle a few forms of combat, and Zerg Rush is one of them.

DEFCONCreator/Ambrosia SoftwareHarry The Handsome Executive
Endless FrontierTurnOfTheMillennium/Video GamesEther Vapor
Enchanted SceptersUsefulNotes/Apple MacintoshExile
Changeling Bullet HellShoot 'em UpColosseum
Assault on Dark AthenaScience Fiction Video GamesE.T. the Extraterrestrial
Epic PinballVideo Games of the 1990sEternal Champions
Ephemeral FantasiaWide Open SandboxPolycon
Damage IncorporatedUsefulNotes/IBM Personal ComputerAvernum

alternative title(s): EV Nova; Escape Velocity
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