The X series through Albion Prelude provides examples of the following tropes:
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- Macross Missile Massacre:
- Terran Conflict introduces the M7M missile frigate class. These ships can hold hundreds of missiles and use Macross Missile Massacre as their only form of attack. They can launch dozens of missiles in a matter of seconds, and the anti-fighter missiles each split into 8 sub-missiles. They also Robotech in a spiral pattern. And they'll go after new targets if the original target is destroyed while the missiles are en route.
- The deadliest M7M of them all is the ATF Skirnir, which uses the Shadow missile (755k damage per warhead on an 8-warhead missile). Think Macross Missile Massacre taken Up to Eleven.
- This typo in the missile data was fixed in Albion Prelude so the Skirnir actually has to earn its salary.
- Terran Conflict also introduces the M8 bomber, which is essentially the M7M lite. It fires smaller missiles two at a time and is quite good at eliminating enemy capital ships, though taking out a station may require the entire magazine.
- Since the advent of missile spamming M7Ms and M8s, the Mosquito Missile Defense script (available in the free Bonus Pack) has become a whole lot more useful. What does it do? Spams even more missiles at the enemy missiles!
- Albion Prelude gave the AI the ability to properly use M7M and M8 ships. This now means that invaders typically jump into a system and immediately get 50 "ALERT: INCOMING MISSILE" warnings. This includes the player. Be very afraid.
- In Albion Prelude missile frigates got serious with the whole missile thing. Not only can (and will) they Macross Missile Massacre their enemies before they even get in visual range, they also fire swarms of countermissiles in a Macross Missile Defense to protect themselves and their allies against similar attacks.
- Even outside of M7Ms and M8s, triple-M is a pretty good tactic. One common use of the Falcon Hauler as a carrier-based fighter is to stuff its cavernous cargo bay with Tornado missiles and use it as a bomber against capital ships.
- M7s, M1s, and M2s naturally and justifiably have enormous cargo bays to stuff missiles in, even more so if it's a Teladi ship. The Typhoon Missile can be crammed into these ships at bulk and is able to be spammed at the hundreds against other capital ships beside fighters due to being well-rounded in its stats and, albeit without the ability to re-acquire targets, has a tracking ability. This makes the Typhoon a poor man's anti-capital ship version of the Flail Barrage missile (commonly used in M7Ms), as well as the best general-purpose swarm missile due to better availability. Its only drawback is that it cannot pursue M5s because of its slow speed.
- Mad Libs Dialogue: Hits generic information dialogue hard.
- "The place which you seek is somewhere far behind the NORTH GATE. Good profit!"
- "Attention, today there is a sale in the TOOL SHOP on level THREE. Don't miss the special offers :)"
- The latter example is possibly justified by it being an actual computer. Betty (the ship's computer) has the same problem.
- Made of Explodium: You are. If a pilot is EVA, including the player, getting shot or running out of air results in the character going up like they were wearing a suicide vest.
- Magic Tool: The Repair Laser in Terran Conflict can repair any ship or station. It can repair a M5 scout ship in about a minute, whereas a M2 destroyer can take hours real-time; just remember to pop back into the ship every once in a while, lest you run out of oxygen
- Magnetic Weapons:
- The Mass Driver, a fighter-class weapon which can bypass shields and damage the ship directly, though it requires specific ammo. You will learn to fear this weapon.
- Also in this category is the Gauss Cannon, a Teladi ammo-based capital ship weapon that fires metal slugs instead of the usual energy disco-balls of doom that other capital ship weapons fire. The weapon does good enough shield damage, but it is notable for dealing the most hull damage out of any weapon. It is often paired with the Boron-designed Ion Cannon to quickly eradicate capital ships; the latter weapon being notable for having the highest shield damage out of any weapon.
- A number of the game's energy weapons use magnets to fire bolts of plasma. The Ion Shard Railgun is a good example.
- Majorly Awesome: Kyle Brennan held this rank in the United Space Command until his little mishap with the Xperimental Shuttle's jumpdrive.
- Martial Pacifist: The Boron Kingdom is very dedicated to peace, but they also pack some extremely potent capital ships which they will not hesitate to use against pirates and invaders.
- Master of None: Boron fighters. Pathetic energy reserves, shielding equal to Split ships but with less speed, and very limited weapon selection - ironically, despite their tiny energy reserves, all their race-specific weapons require huge amounts of energy to fire (such as the Ion Disruptor). Oh, and all Boron ships can't be cosmetically repainted at the Player Headquarters thanks to their organic construction. Their size also makes them very good targets for fighter-jock-type players.
- Meaningful Name: Retroactively. Flavor Text for the Mars sector, named for the Roman god of war, says that the United Space Command is headquartered there.
- Mechanical Evolution: As the opening cinematic for Terran Conflict explains, terraformers are examples of a technology called artificial general intelligence, "mechanical minds capable of making themselves more intelligent, and again, and again, recursively forever." The intent was presumably to make the robots capable of adapting to unexpected events during the terraforming process, but somebody fouled up a software patch and they went haywire, turning into the Xenon.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The Xenon and the tame terraformers of Aldrin have become sapient due to the aforementioned Mechanical Evolution. Predating them by 500 million years are the Sohnen, a mechanical species used by the Ancients as an intermediary to the young races.
- Mechanically Unusual Class:
- M7Ms and M8s again, this time for their missile tubes that are placed where most ships mount gun batteries. As such, they can fire multiple missiles at a time to fill the surrounding space with deadly warheads.
- Military Transport freighters introduced in X3: Terran Conflict are moderately fast, well shielded freighters with mediocre-at-best weaponry. However, they make up for their so-so stats by swapping out the standard freight modules for fighter docking clamps, allowing them to carry their own escort internally. A Magnetar TM kitted out with four Eclipse M3+ heavy fighters is a force to be reckoned with.
- The M7DC Drone Frigate ship class introduced in Xtended Terran Conflict. Terrible weaponry barely more powerful than a corvette and with poor shielding, they rely on their ability to produce their own advanced fighter drones on the fly. The drones are launched en-masse (up to 24 at a time) and have stats similar to a M4-class interceptor. The ships make excellent patrol vessels due to their speed and force-projection ability much like a real carrier, at the fraction of the price of a standard M1-class carrier. The ships later appeared in X3: Albion Prelude, though they function more like miniature carriers rather than a unique ship class.
- The M2+ introduced in Albion Prelude typically include a gimmick in addition to being even bigger, tougher, and slower than normal M2. The ATF Valhalla and Terran Kyoto are Battlestars that can dock ships of up to M6 size, for instance (M1 can only dock up to M3, and M2 can't dock anything), while the Xenon I has a missile turret with three tubes that can spam a wide variety of missile types, including Firestorm torpedoes.
- Support frigates in the Xtended mod for Reunion (which were classed as "M8") had) so-so armament, but had a useful gimmick. The Argon Griffon, Paranid Agamemnon, Split Panther, and OTAS HCF (all appeared in some form in Terran Conflict, albeit without their abilities) could build MKII drones, carry phased missile launchers, build fighters, and board enemy ships, respectively. The Boron Swordfish could sap shields from ships, the OTAS Custodian could buff the shields and repair the hulls of nearby allied ships, the Teladi Tern could build and deploy minefields, and the Terran Ollerus could build jump gates.
- Mega Corp.: Several of them exist in the series (OTAS, Strong Arms, NMMC, etc.) and they're self-sufficient enough to have their own Space Navies. While they generally protect their assets from Space Pirates, the Xenon, the Kha'ak, and other rival governments, they do occasionally have rivalries with one another which generally leads to Corporate Warfare in order to prove whose assets are larger. The Teladi as a whole have their society organized as one (well, for the spacefaring ones anyway). The Plutarch Mining Corporation from X3: Terran Conflict becomes a full-on One Nation Under Copyright in X Rebirth following the jumpgate network collapse. You can also start your own huge-name company yourself once you have the money, resources, and the player HQ to do so to rival that of the other corporations in the games.
- The Metric System Is Here to Stay: Played straight for everything except time, which until TC used Teladi time units.
- Microts: Zuran time, the chronological system used by the Community of Planets for interstellar timekeeping and developed by the Teladi and used in-game through X2. Reunion used the names but changed them to a 1:1 ratio to Earth time units for player convenience, and TC dropped them completely. In the X2 manual the conversions are:
— 1 Sezura = the smallest, mercantile time unit; equals roughly 1.7 s
— 1 Mizura = 96 Sezuras = 163.2 s = 2.72 min
— 1 Stazura = 96 Mizuras = 15667.2 s = 261.12 min = 4.352 hr
— 1 Tazura = 7 Stazuras = 109670.4 s = 1827.84 min = 30.464 hr = 1.27 days
— 1 Wozura = 7 Tazuras = 8.89 days
— 1 Mazura = 7 Wozuras = 62.23 days
— 1 Jazura = 8 Mazuras = 56 Wozuras = 392 Tazuras = 497.84 days = 1.36 yr
Furthermore, there are various terms used almost exclusively by the Teladi:
— 1 Quazura = 22 Mizuras = 3590.4 sec = 59.84 min = curiously enough, this is almost ONE EARTH HOUR.
— 1 Inzura = 8 Mizuras = 1305.6 sec = 21.76 min
— 1 Sun = 1 Jazura
- Mighty Glacier:
- Fighters amongst strike craft and Destroyers amongst capital ships, as well as some of their weapons (some capital ship guns fire projectiles that can be outrun by scouts).
- This is also the design motif for the Teladi spaceships, which are horribly slow for their class, but (for the most part) have very strong shields, hulls, and cargo capacity. There is an exception to this rule, though: the Teladi M5 Kestrel is the fastest ship in the game, and likely the most powerful member of the M5 class because of it (mostly on Out of Sector battles, where asteroid and ship collisions are disabled).
- The Teladi M2 Phoenix gets outran by almost every ship in the game, but soaks up damage like a sponge and carries a massive weapons loadout.
- "Sentinel" ship variants, which mount weaker engines in exchange for massive shield capacity. Taken to the extreme by the Teladi Falcon Sentinel M3 fighter, which has the shielding of a corvette and a top speed barely higher than some carriers.
- The M2+ battleships introduced in Albion Prelude are even slower and more powerful than standard M2 destroyers.
- Mile-Long Ship: The X3 rendition of the Teladi Phoenix provides the current page picture. This thread establishes by way of comparison to the 1 km diameter jumpgates that M7 are usually in the neighborhood of 1 km long. M1, M2, and TL are typically somewhere between two and three, with the Valhalla at five.
- Military Mashup Machine: Of the Mobile Factory/Carrier variety. The Xtended Terran Conflict mod for Terran Conflict has the M7D Drone Frigate class of ships, which will build high-powered combat drones equivalent to a M4-class interceptor. Losses are quickly replaced by building more drones. The frigates are fairly fast, but have mediocre shielding and firepower. Other factory ships exist, such as the Goner Aran, a mobile shipyard which can build a wide variety of ships, plus the standard civilian factory ships which produce weapons/shields/ore/energy/crystals/food.
- Mission Control: In X3: Terran Conflict's Terran plot, depending on the mission it's either USC Commander Mark Jackson or ATF General Rai Ishiyama. Operation Final Fury has you under the command of the Split warlord Fjuny t'Scct.
- Mobile Factory: Xtended Terran Conflict has T0 mobile production ships, which can produce a huge variety of wares. There are variants for energy, food, technology (microchips, crystals, etc), ore processing, and military technology (weapons, shields, missiles).
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: The literature and encyclopedia are probably an example of One Big Lie: ships follow Newtonian/Einsteinian physics apart from spacetime manipulation tech, which allows for tractor beams, artificial wormholes (the gates and jumpdrive), certain weapons (particularly the phased shockwave generator and point singularity projector), and for ships' cargo bays to be Bigger on the Inside. Gameplay is significantly softer given the Rule of Cool space physics.
- Money for Nothing: Avoided until the late game. At that point your trade empire typically earns more money faster than you can possibly spend it. You'll still have to go to the NPCs for additional stations, but in X3 especially you can manufacture almost everything else in-house.
- Mood Whiplash: If you're in a happy mood, it is not adviceable to read some of the sector descriptions.Faded Dreams: The Boron colonised this sector with dreams of such magnificence even the Queen offered her blessings. Flourishing for a great while, such dreams indeed became reality until the Split discovered and gained control over the connecting sector. Trade turned to war and dreams once cherished were left faded and broken.
- Mook Maker: Drone Frigates in the Xtended Terran Conflict mod. They produce their own advanced combat drones on the spot, and manage them like a carrier would manage their fighter wings. These are made canon by Albion Prelude but Egosoft apparently couldn't get the drone builder working properly so they turned them into conventional pocket carriers akin to the Split Panther.
- Morale Mechanic: Modders have discovered that ships that can have the pilots bail out (M3-5, M8, TP, TS, and GO) have an invisible, randomly generated "morale" statistic that factors into the algorithm that calculates whether or not they will bail out when fired upon.
- More Dakka: Certain M6 and many M7 can mount a ridiculous number of flak weapons. One effective loadout for the otherwise underwhelming Terran Yokohama and ATF Aegirnote is to put Starburst Shockwave Cannons everywhere possible. In Terran Conflict's somewhat wonky OOS modeling, this lets them tear other frigates to shreds in seconds.
- Mundane Utility:
- The Split Iguana from X2. This TP-class ship (think space bus) can compete with dedicated heavy fighters, in terms of shielding, speed and firepower.
- In TC, the Blastclaw Prototype is used in about equal proportion as either a fighter (which it excels at) or as an extra cargo bay for a Hyperion Vanguard (it has double the cargo space of the next-largest fighter).
- "Hauler" variants of fighters, due to their larger cargo bays, allow them to do some form of trading better than their more combat-oriented counterparts. Although they come without the "Hauler" version, the Teladi Kea and its Enhanced version make excellent impromptu trading ships besides dogfighting vessels thanks to their absurdly large cargo bays for their class.
- Multiple Game Openings: Starting in Reunion. They differ mainly by starting credits, what ships you have, and what system you start in.for example: Some starts have additional features: "Suicidal Squid" is Dead-Is-Dead mode, while "Bankrupt Assassin" has you periodically attacked by small groups of bounty hunters for a while.
- My Rules Are Not Your Rules: Non-player owned ships have access to what is essentially a point-to-point jumpdrive. Ships in the plot will jump into empty space, and escort missions have swarms of enemy ships warping in scant kilometers away from the ship you're escorting. Player ships are limited to jumping to Jump Gates.
- According to Word of God, this is Gameplay and Story Segregation: they decided to use the jumpdrive "flash" for enemies spawning. The official line is that only the Kha'ak have point-to-point jumpdrives, though the Xenon have jump beacons they can use if they know precise coordinates to send it to. The scene during the Terran plot where the fleet jumps to Aldrin involved a reverse-engineered jump beacon, so that technically doesn't count.
- The Split M2 Python was among the best destroyers in X3: Reunion. In Terran Conflict, its ability to mount flak weapons was removed, reducing it to using comparatively ineffective corvette guns for fighter defense.
- The Terran Conflict 3.0 patch reduced the laser generator capacity of the Terran M1 Tokyo, a carrier that could previously fire its anticapital guns indefinitely. Nobody really minded because carriers aren't supposed to be able to do that.
- The M7 Panther's laser generators were weakened in Albion Prelude to compensate for it having by far the largest fighter capacity of any M7.
- Similarly, the OTAS M2 Boreas had a shield generator removed in AP, reducing its shields from 10 GJ to 8 GJ for Competitive Balance.
- The Shadow Missile, infamous for being game-breakingly powerful in Terran Conflict, was downgraded in Albion Prelude to having a single warhead and its stats were slightly sapped. Nonetheless, it's still more powerful than the Commonwealth Hammer Heavy Torpedo that it competes with.
- Xtended Terran Conflict nerfed (and buffs) dozens of ships to bring them in line with the rest. Missile Frigates were collectively nerfed - their (anti-capital ship) missiles can no longer acquire a new target after the original target is destroyed, they have no turrets, they have much weaker hulls (equivalent to a corvette), and their cargo bays were nerfed slightly to reduce their staying power. Terran frigates were buffed, as they can now use a dedicated frigate-class weapon (beefed-up Matter/antimatter launchers; their corvettes now carry the new Gamma Electromagnetic Plasma Cannon). Crazy powerful ships like the Springblossom and Spitfyre were nerfed to make them specialized for a certain role.
- In X2: The Threat and X3: Reunion, Kha'ak craft were once one of the deadliest vessels a player can encounter at the time, since their then buffed weaponry can vaporize other ships in seconds. Come the time of Terran Conflict, they no longer became the threat they were in the previous games, with their weaponry sapped in stats for balancing reasons.
- Never Trust a Trailer: X3: Reunion's trailer shows ships flying in close formation (not likely with the autopilot), sound effects that don't exist in the game (such as more prominent engine noises and weapons impacts), and much more impressive station destruction than in the final game. The real-time tech demo also shows a massive space station with internal tunnels that is nowhere to be seen in the game. The real-time tech demo of Terran Conflict shows a pair of Terran Scimitars chasing each other through tiny gaps in the Torus Aeternal, which is completely impossible in the game, as the AI will freak out and fly straight into a wall when it realizes that it's too close to a station several dozen kilometers wide. (Never mind the fact that the guns on the Torus would turn you into space dust if you tried it.)
- N.G.O. Superpower:
- Pirates and Yaki as of Terran Conflict have access to capital ships (and lots of them), despite having no government and no central organization. The corporations also have their own navies - OTAS in particular fields two to three of their Boreas destroyers, several dozen transporter ships, swarms of fighters, and multiple frigates.
- The Player Character tends to end up being this by the end of the game.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When the Argon Federation is closing in on Sol System with their swarms of reverse engineered Xenon fighters, about to subjugate the Terrans, the jump gate system completely shuts down, isolating every system.
- Nintendo Hard / No Damage Run: Dead-Is-Dead mode. If you die, the game will delete your save game. This includes when the game is a bastard and teleports a capital ship onto your tiny fighter when you come out a jumpgate. It's hard enough that Terran Conflict and Albion Prelude each offer an achievement for completing all the storylines in DiD mode.
- No Fair Cheating:
- Using any kind of mods or scripts brands your save with an unremovable ***modified*** tag to keep you informed of this circumstance. Given the amount of bugs in the games (and the fact that a lot of the mods are plain cool), players tend not to care about it.
- If you fail to complete a "Retrieve derelict ship" mission in X3TC and you still have the ship in your possession, a squad of police heavy fighters or pirates will warp in, blow the ship to bits and then warp out. It's thus impossible to make any use of the ship except for selling it first. Or, at least, it's supposed to be. The cops aren't invincible, so you can actually destroy them. There's even a couple ways to do it that will avoid reputation hits; it requires a spare jumpdrive and a good supply of energy cells. You see, the Space Police will only spawn once. See the trick in Enemy Mine above, or failing that, jump it to one side of a Xenon sector, wait for the police to spawn, and jump it to the sector on the other side of the Xenon sector. The police will follow and be attacked by the Xenon. On the off chance they survive, jump the ship back to the first sector.
- No Plot? No Problem!: Though there is an over-arching narrative to the games, a lot of the replay value comes from the sandbox mode where you pick your starting circumstances and are dropped into the universe to run amok.
- No Such Thing as Alien Pop Culture: In Terran Conflict: A blink-and-you'll-miss-it aversion. Randomly-picked flavor text for some Fetch Quests and bits of junk carried by certain NPC ships point to alien sports and advertising, among other things. Reunion had the Bulletin Board System, you'd get bits of news and culture in it (along with missions).
- Nose Art: X2: The Threat allows you to import an image file from your computer that would be applied as nose art to all your ships and stations. It could be a pin-up, a coat of arms, whatever. (GameSpot's reviewer used a character from The Simpsons.)
- Not the Intended Use: Half the fun of the game is finding bizarre ways to use things that Egosoft never considered. The Truelight Seeker seems like a goofy gimmick until you notice it can mount Gauss Cannons. The Blastclaw Prototype frequently doubles as an external cargo bay for the Hyperion. And we can't forget station-bombing.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The unknown sectors. Head into one, get a fair distance from the gate, and just look at how empty it is in there. Think about all the things in the universe, mundane things like Space Pirates, or insane terraforming robots or a Horde of Alien Locusts with point to point jumpdrives that could be jumping in right out of scanner range...hey, why are you running for the gate?
- NPC Roadblock: Civilian ships are famous for docking at your stations and just sitting there, doing absolutely nothing for several minutes before undocking. This can prevent your own ships from docking, including when the ship is under attack and trying to dock for protection.
- This got so bad that a mod was made whose only purpose is the forced undocking of all ships currently docked to a station.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Partial: while nuclear weapons are fine, "large scale" nuclear reactors aren't, and stations and ships are forced to purchase energy cells produced at solar power plants in order to manufacture goods or use jumpdrives. "Large scale" apparently doesn't include battleship reactors with outputs capable of razing planet surfaces, strangely.
- It leads to a bit of Fridge Logic when the player wonders how exactly does a spaceship generate enough energy to run all of its systems, but needs separately provided energy cells for the jumpdrive.
- The X-Encyclopedia explains that this came about due to government and civilian overreaction to a major reactor accident aboard an Argon resort station that left the hulk so irradiated it was completely off-limits for 30 years.
- Nuke 'em: Terran "Hammerhead" missiles are nuclear-tipped according to flavor text. A single Hammerhead can kill an entire wing of small ships in loose formation, and will one-shot any M6 except the ATF Vali. Several of the other heavy missiles are also nuclear.
- Obvious Beta: The games tend to ship with a plethora of bugs, from annoying to game breaking. Reunion suffered from this in its plot (which was often impossible to complete), and Terran Conflict was a massive system hog for several months after release.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: Pirate bases in X3 are recognizably an Argon Colossus model mated to the top half of a Teladi Albatross and part of a Teladi Shrike. Lampshaded by the Flavor Text, which notes that the bases' primary components are salvaged derelicts.
- Old-School Dogfight:
- Played down to the letter. A character in the later parts of the game who flies into a Xenon sector to duke it out can bring in a few battleships and carriers, as well as combat drones, resulting in hundreds of ships battling, and dozens of dogfights going on at once.
- Crazy furballs happen when the player is flying a slow ship and going against a faster one. For some reason, attacking ships seem to only fly at their maximum speed; as weapons are forward-firing, they tend to come at you guns blazing, then overshoot, turn back and repeat as long as necessary — god forbid they'd slow down and try to get on your tail. Flying a faster ship, or going against slower ones, makes dogfighting a lot more interesting.
- Played with a la Babylon 5 in recent games. On certain fighters you can see brief puffs of propellant from maneuvering jets when you hit the rudder or whatever.
- Ominous Floating Spaceship: Terran Conflict's introduction shows a Terraformer fleet hovering over the remains of New York City
- Omnicidal Maniac: The Xenon and the Kha'ak.
- One-Federation Limit:
- Argon Federation. Kingdom/Queendom of Boron. Godrealm of the Paranid (or Paranid Empire for short). Great Patriarchy of the Split. Teladi Space Company. Earth/Terran State (which is split between the United Space Command and the AGI Task Force).
- The X-Encyclopedia also adds the Free State of Solara (the Aldrin region), the Hatikvah Free League (an independent human government whose capital is in the sector The Hole), and the Convention of the Herd (the government of the aforementioned Wenendra).
- One-Gender Race: Justified. The Teladi do have males, but they nearly all still live on the homeworld because the Teladi discovered early in their space age that unfertilized eggs would always hatch females.
- One-Hit Kill: Larger, more powerful weaponry can pretty much destroy smaller craft in a single shot. M5s, for example, can't take damage from any capital ship weapon, a single blast of Plasma Burst Generator fire, and certain powerful missiles such as Hurricanes and Disruptors.
- One-Letter Title: Which is why the series is more commonly called the X-Universe: the number of other works titled "X" is quite long because "X" Makes Anything Cool.
- One Nation Under Copyright: The Teladi Space Company. Their entire race is organized like one Mega Corp.. The head honcho, the Chairman (his name is Ceo at the time of the games), and business and smaller companies are arranged like subsidies or divisions. However, they employ an actual police force and a proper military, making their government more like a corporate republic.
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Battles you partake in are varied, frantic and involve quite a bit of tactics. However, Out-Of-Sector battles, which happen in sectors you are not in, are simulated under a different set of rules, and they usually boil down to shield capacity in first place and (large) numbers in second.
- The One True Sequence / Sequence Breaking: In Terran Conflict, the intended order to complete the plotlines is "Terran Plot" → "Operation Final Fury" → "Goner Plot" → "Hub Plot" → "HQ Plot" → "Aldrin Expansion" → "Treasure Hunt" → "New Home Plot" → "Balance of Power". Though none of the individual plots allow for internal sequence breaking (i.e. you can't skip missions), it is very easy to complete certain plots out of order. Players have reported finishing the Goner Plot before the Terran Plot, and the Aldrin Expansion only requires you to have completed the first half of the Hub plot.
- One World Order: Present in the games (aside from the Terrans and Argon; same race, but they had several hundred years' separation), but the X-Encyclopedia describes how there are other factions, like the human Hatikvah Free League.
- Only Six Faces: NPCs' faces are picked at random from a list of about five possibilities per faction.
- Opening Monologue:
"Almost a millennium has passed since the last great plague of humankind had been wiped out from the solar system and its precious blue pearl planet Earth.
- Reunion frames it as a story from an Argon news agency.
- Terran Conflict's opening cinematic:
"It was a plague so dangerous, a threat so grave, that it spread throughout the infinity of space and eternity of time almost effortlessly to infest the stars. It spread its pestilence to civilizations unknown, devastated the galaxy as if it was just an ordinary body made of flesh and bone falling prey to a mindless virus.
"And in a sense it was really a virus, a virus created by humankind. One made with the best of intentions, but a virus nevertheless.
"Von Neumann probes, self-replicating machines, Terraformers, Xenon, even the Enemy of God. But at its core, it was really only one thing.
"Artificial general intelligence, or AGI. Mechanical minds capable of making themselves even more intelligent, and then again, and again. Recursively forever. The greatest threat to biological life that ever existed throughout the whole universe. The Terraformers were cast out of the solar system by sheer luck, just barely, with billions upon billions dead in their wake. The Earth Jumpgate was dismantled, legislation was put in place never to allow AGI to be created again, ever.
"Humankind never forgot the lesson of AGI, never ventured to try out this concept once more, not in a thousand years, but then it was discovered that species from outside the solar system thought differently. The plague of AGI was being released on the universe once more. Again perhaps with the best of intentions and again however, with the deadliest of results. The government of Earth had to intervene, even if it meant cold war, even if it meant a cold war between brothers, and intervene Earth did.
"This escalating conflict would be given a name by historians. Terran Conflict."
- Operation Blank: The names of two plots. Operation Final Fury in TC, a privately funded mercenary effort to drive the Kha'ak the rest of the way out of the Community of Planets. In AP the Terrans get Operation Loose Ends, a counterintelligence operation to recover stolen Terran weapons data and dossiers of deep-cover operatives from Argon space.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: The cover for X3: Reunion.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: All the races depend on the Lost Technology Jump Gates scattered around the universe to get around. They occasionally disconnect, separating colonies for hundreds of years, until they reconnect (if ever).
- According to the X-Superbox Encyclopedia, the wormholes are only different by using exotic matter to power the wormhole, and by using magnetic forces to flatten the wormhole to allow travel. if those factors didn't occur, it would be the exact same as Real Life's theoretical wormholes.
- Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: Played with. From the X-Encyclopedia:
- Overall the Argon are into science and logic. About half of them consider themselves "spiritual" but don't believe in any specific deity, while most of the rest are atheists. But since the Argon believe in tolerance of other lifestyles and worldviews, there's no stigma attached to being religious.
- The Boron have no organized religion, nor do they believe in any omnipotent or creator deities. Some believe that after death they will live on in the presence cloud of the Ancients.
- The Paranid religion permeates every aspect of their lives. They see themselves as the chosen people of an unknown god they believe to be "the highest expression of spacetime itself within the three visible dimensions." Whatever that means.
- The Split commonly view religion as outdated superstitions, and almost none of them still give credence to the "beasts of the sky".
- Not much is known of the Wenendra (a race of Sapient Cetaceans on one of the Boron planets), but it involves a creator deity. Upon First Contact, the Boron had some trouble convincing the Wenendra they weren't that entity.
- The X-Encyclopedia gives no information on the Teladi or Terran religion(s), so your guess is as good as ours.
- Oxygen Meter: Your spacesuit has a two-hour air supply, though checking it requires you to open up the spacesuit's info screen. Two hours is usually plenty of time for you to do whatever you need to, although it's possible to run out if you're trying to patch up a capital ship's hull with the suit's repair laser. Somewhat bizarrely, when your oxygen runs out, you explode.
- Pacifist Run: Possible in all the games, if you skip the plot. Some players go for an all-out "Cannot kill any enemy, at all", others go with "My other ships can kill enemies", or "I will only kill enemies required by the plot lines". The goal for these is to keep your combat rank at "Harmless" — getting one kill will bring the combat rank up, and it takes a long time for it to go back down to Harmless.
- Painfully Slow Projectile: Capital ship weapons. Special mention goes out to the Terrans' Point Singularity Projector, which is incredibly easy to avoid in almost any ship.
- Pass Through the Rings: the very first game, X-BtF, has you do that in the opening intro, to test your ship's systems. Also, several missions in X3R and X3TC have you racing against other
targetsships; you do not technically fly through rings, but you do have to pass through arbitrarily placed checkpoints.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Xtended Terran Conflict has a remote sector, called the "Glorious People's Republic", which is a brutal dictatorship where the citizens have almost no knowledge of life elsewhere. The sector also has effectively no industry. Sound familiar?
- Perfect Pacifist People: The Goners. They're normally Actual Pacifists espousing peaceful coexistence, and their ships don't have any weapons mounts at all, in contrast to every other ship in the game apart from cargo drones. If pressed hard enough as a society, however, they will fight back with lethal force: the climax of the Goner plot in TC consists of smuggling a bomb onto a Space Pirate station whose denizens have been beating the crap out of the supply lines to the new Goner Temple.
- Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Several weapons in the series (particularly the later games) fit this. Ion Disruptor, Ion Pulse Generator, Ion Cannon, Ion Shard Railgun, and Photon Pulse Cannon. Oh, and the Kha'ak use kyon emitters, which fire a fictitious particle. The names are normally fairly justified by Flavor Text; for instance, the ISR "fires ionised 'shards' of super-heated plasma, which are then accelerated to high speeds using magnets."
- Planar Shockwave: Some of the larger explosion graphics use this.
- Planet of Hats: One of the series' major criticisms is its poor job of fleshing out characters and races.
- Boron: Peace-loving space hippies
- Teladi: Profit-crazed lizard folk
- Paranid: Holier Than Thou religious extremists
- Split: Proud Warrior Race
- Terran: Xenophobic paranoid isolationists
- Goner: Jehovah's Witnesses IN SPACE!
- Yaki: Yakuza IN SPACE!
- Bilingual Bonus: The faction name actually means "many yakuza" in Japanese.
- Xenon: Insane robots
- Kha'ak: Trying to kill anything that isn't Kha'ak?note
- Planet Spaceship: The backstory provides an extreme example. Billions of years ago the Ancients fought a several-million-year-long war against a Kardashev Type V+ race called the Outsiders who are believed to have invaded from another universe. They entered ours in the form of several ships that were each the size of a solar system. (Yeah, Sufficiently Advanced Alien doesn't even begin to cover this.)
- Planet Terra: In X3, humans from the Sol System are referred to as "Terrans", but the planet is still called Earth.
- Player Headquarters: The... Player Headquarters, first introduced in Reunion. You gain the Headquarters by doing a sub-plot in each game. The HQ lets you reverse engineer ships (to gain their blueprints), scrap ships (for resources), build ships (from learned blueprints and resources), repair ships (using some resources), and adjust the hue and saturation values for non-Boron ships - allowing you to make pink Split shipsnote , or make the flames on your Pirate Nova bright blue. The HQ has a massive storage bay for storing all your crap, 12 external docking ports for capital ships, 20 external docking ports for freighters and corvettes, and an infinitely large internal docking bay for fighters, making it an excellent parking location for your unused ships.
- Player Mooks: Any player-owned ship other than the one physically piloted by the player. You can give them named pilots by activating certain scripts (whereupon a name is generated based on the owner of the sector the ship is in), but you never interact with them at any deeper level than the command console.
- Plot Armor: Ships that are critical to the plots are usually indestructible. They'll go down to 93% hull and stop. Likewise the jumpgates are completely indestructible unless the plot specifies otherwise, like when the Kha'ak destroy one of the gates in President's End during X2.
- Portal Network: The only way to get around the universe is by using jumpgates or a jumpdrive (which teleports you to a jumpgate of your choice).
- Point Defenseless: The Split M2 Python, one of the best destroyers in Reunion, became this in Terran Conflict because its ability to mount Flak Artillery Arrays was removed. It now has to rely on comparatively ineffective corvette weapons for fighter defense.
- In Xtended Terran Conflict, missile frigates have no turrets, only missile batteries. The only missile frigate with a weapon slot is the Xenon R, which has a pair of corvette guns in a rear turret. Not like they particularly need turrets, anyways.
- Some of the M7Ms lack any gun turret coverage whatsoever which means they have no way to defend themselves from missiles other than spamming their own missiles at them. Specifically, the Boron Kraken, Argon Minotaur, Paranid Ares, and Yaki Senshi. At least the other M7Ms have the common sense to fit at least one or two turrets in their designs to prevent being chipped off by enemy missiles.
- Police Are Useless: They and the Border Control ships seem to exist mainly to attack the player after friendly fire incidents, or when the player keeps a ship he's supposed to return as part of a mission.
- Pompous Political Pundit: Xtended Terran Conflict adds news services for each race. The Terran version, Terran Morning News, is a satire of Fox News as a whole and Glenn Beck's and Alex Jones's shows in particular, what with rampant paranoia, conspiracy theories, and subtle or not-so-subtle discrimination (Muslims in post-9/11 Fox News have been replaced by Aldrinites in Terran Morning News, for example).
- Previous Player-Character Cameo: Terran Conflict's Aldrin Expansion plot has Julian Gardna-Brennan from X2 and Reunion turn up in Terran Unknown Sector 3.
- Private Military Contractors: The Split Strong Arms. All the corporations maintain warships, but the Strong Arms are the only ones for whom they're not just for protecting their own supply chains.
- Privateer: The governments of the Commonwealth offer "police licenses", which act like letters of marque. You're paid a preset bounty for destroying space pirates, Xenon, and Kha'ak, and destroying neutrals or allies costs you the license.
- Product Placement: Nividium; aside from being extremely valuable, it's also a considerable plot point for X2 and X3.
- This gets brought up a lot, and Egosoft has always said no, it's not product placement. Cynics just say they're trying not to alienate ATI/AMD fans. However, it's worth pointing out that, although the second game way "The way it's meant to be played" branded, Nividium is not spelled the same as Nvidia, and was also in the first game, released in 1999. The second point especially reduces this to conspiracy theory levels.
- Properly Paranoid: The Terrans are deathly afraid of artificially intelligent ships, because their own Terraformer ships were throwing asteroids at Earth because of a programming error.
- The Terrans were wary of Commonwealth races for this exact reason, along with guarding other Terran-exclusive advanced technology. The Balance of Power plot in Terran Conflict and the Argon use of reverse-engineered AGI warships in the Second Terraformer War proves that their fears are completely correct.
- Proud Merchant Race: The Teladi have their entire race organized like a Mega Corp., calling their interstellar government the Teladi Space Company. Their government fits the criteria of a corporate republic. They leveraged their status as a neutral party between the rival Argon/Boron and Paranid/Split alliances to enrich themselves, which had the beneficial side effects of the founding of the Community of Planets and creation of unified currency and timekeeping systems to simplify interstellar trade. We should note that the encyclopedia says the Proud Merchant Race Hat really only applies to space-living Teladi: planetbound Teladi are apparently much more varied.
- Proud Scholar Race:
- The Goners are pacifistic and very devoted to preservation of knowledge and education, with their main religious center doubling as a fully accredited university. In particular, they insist that the Argon are not originally from the planet in the sector Brennan's Triumph, or from their current capital Argon Prime. They're mainly viewed as, at worst, nutty but harmless (the official Argon line is that Earth is a myth) ... until the events of X: Beyond the Frontier, when a test pilot from Earth becomes stranded in the X-Universe.
- The Paranids' secondary Hat is being the best mathematicians in the galaxy. They have a particular flair for multidimensional geometry and astrophysics.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Split race is basically a clone of the Klingons.
- Purposely Overpowered: AGI Task Force ships are ridiculously good, even better than standard Terran ships. However, their capital ships require a huge amount of work to acquire (which will permanently soil your reputation with the ATF), and about as much effort to equip because the Terran economy is in a perpetual state of implosion. The only real disadvantage to an ATF ship is their fighter weapons' slow projectiles, which makes them have a lower hit rate than other ships.
- Quicksand Box: X: Beyond the Frontier through X3: Reunion hit this hit pretty hard. X3: Terran Conflict is a bit better at giving the player a goal and plenty of things to do.
- Ramming Always Works:
- Ramming is the fastest way to kill enemies; just make sure you have more shields than they do. (Though you REALLY shouldn't do it at full speed, unless the target ship is a lot smaller than your ship.) Actually, as long as you don't try to ram anything too big, the faster you're going, the less damage you take. In X2, a kitted out Split heavy transport could crush a Paranid battleship without taking a scratch.
- Ramming has also the pleasant side effect of not angering the local sector police (unless you take too long to kill the target), a must if you need to eliminate a "friendly" ship without nuking the entire sector.
- Random Number God: Worshiping it is a Running Gag on the forums.
- Randomly Generated Levels: The Unfocused Jumpdrive warps the player into a randomly generated sector, which typically includes asteroids, a random background, random sun(s) color/brightness, and a few squads of Xenon or Kha'ak enemies. The player may also find a critically damaged Aran TL.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: Nautilus.
- Recursive Ammo: A wide variety of missiles, from the strictly fighter-to-fighter Wasp on up to the sector-obliterating Shadow, have multiple warheads. There's even a few unguided multiple-warhead missiles, although only one is actually of any use.
- Recursive Creators: The Xenon (and the Terraformers before them) are Von Neumann machines, capable of self-improvement and self-recreation.
- Red Alert: The game is pretty decent about it. Once hostile ships come within about ten kilometers, you get a single beep, then the background music switches to the battle soundtrack.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Split ships use rust red armor panels with gray/black backgrounds. Xenon ships are pitch black and gray with glowing red internals.
- Reference Overdosed: The Xtended Terran Conflict Game Mod has oodles of references, primarily in sector descriptions and GalNet news articles.
- One Teladi sector mentions how the capital city on a planet is made largely of recycled ship hulls, and travel is done through cable cars that use arms to swing between different cables. Another describes the ring around a planet in the background as being made up of thousands of small space stations, called the Rust Belt.
- The Mercenary Information Network has a personal appeal by founder Jim Whales.
- A random article talks about frigate sized ships appearing asteroid fields, spewing out automated distress calls about "necr---rphs" before vanishing.
- A technical article about the Jump Gate network talks about a conspiracy theory where the jump gates are designed to direct the expansion and innovations of the races so that they can be harvested by an ancient precursor race.
- Refining Resources: There are three basic resources - foods, ores, and energy. All resources require energy to be produced and refined. For example, to produce a Flail Barrage Missile in a Flail missile fab, you need to set up two mines - one on a silicon asteroid, another on an ore asteroid, a basic bio factory (i.e. a Chelt Aquarium), a foodstuff production factory to refine the bio into food or oil (i.e Rastar Refinery), and then finally, a Solar Power Plant to produce Energy Cells to power the complex, but (non-NPC) solar power plants require Crystals, which on their own require Silicon, Energy, and foodstuffs. Creating a self-sufficient space station capable of producing all of the resources required for the Player Headquarters ship production facilities is one of the end-game goals for many players.
- Regenerating Health: The game normally uses Regenerating Shields, Static Health, but mods can enable ship repairs while in-flight. One mod makes Boron ships capable of autonomous regeneration, another allows you to put your marines (normally used for boarding) to work mending the hull. Xtended has the R6 ship system, which can enable automatic repairs on corvettes and capital ships, at the cost of draining your credits while repairs are in progress.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Shields are held in the cargo bay and will regenerate constantly. Hull is non-regenerating, and once the hull reaches zero hitpoints, the ship will be destroyed.
- Reporting Names: A justification for Earth-derived Arms And Armor Theme Naming of nonhuman-built ships. The Boron M1 Shark is unpronounceable in the original Boron, but the word used for it translates to "cartilaginous fish with lots of sharp teeth". Likewise, the Paranid M4 Pericles was probably named for a Paranid whose career paralleled that of the Athenian Pericles.
- Retcon: The X-Encyclopedia retcons some of the events of the games and some of the backstory. For example, instead of being a long-forgotten Terran colony, the Aldrin colony deliberately cut itself off from the X-Universe during the Boron Campaign. Of course, we know Future Imperfect was in play with Earth so it's possible that everyone forgot about Aldrin.
- Ridiculously Fast Construction: Stations basically pop fully-formed out of your TL's cargo hold. Which enables the station-bombing combat trick.
- Ring World Planet: The Torus. Also, one forum member built a space station complex around the Aldrin planetoid for fun.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The Terrans in Albion Prelude. After the Torus Aeternal (a massive station wrapping around the Earth) is blown up by Saya Kho, they deploy their entire battlefleet to attack the Argon Federation.
- Robot War: The Terraformer War, the First and Second Xenon Conflicts, and the constant low-level warfare against the Xenon. The Argon/Terran war probably takes the cake, though.
- Roboteching: Missiles are launched towards the bow from ventrally-mounted tubes (or flank-mounted tubes in the case of M7Ms) and immediately curve off after their target. This leads to spectacular visuals of swirling streams of fire when using swarm missiles.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Split. In the games, they have red skin, tall and narrow heads, and large eyes that are very close together, but otherwise they are fairly human-like. Concept◊ art◊ makes them look like space elves.