As an "expansion" plug, it continues one of the six major storylines in the stock game, but does not add a new storyline or remove any of the old ones and modifies very few stock Nova resources. Another popular "expansion" plug is Unity, which expands the Polaris and Vell-os storylines.
The plugin continues the Federation storyline (picking up after the character becomes "overlord of the known universe"). In addition to adding to the 'evil' EVN storyline, it also adds several new ships and weapons to the game.
The character is given several choices (where to spend money etc.) during the storyline which can affect what happens later on. However, the character follows generally the same storyline no matter what choices they make.
The plug can be found in the EVN addons page, though currently only up to the second chapter are available. The last two chapters have been in development since December, 2007. Two patches have been released, and may be found on the same page.
The last public announcement regarding the prug-in was May 27, 2012, where Archon announced a private beta version.
The first chapter of Anathema focuses mainly on setting the scene for the following chapters. As such, while the missions move the storyline forward, the majority of the focus rests upon the player guiding the Federation via "budgeting" missions. In these, the player can choose four (out of a total of eight) budget allocations, resulting in increased espionage, stronger border security, or research into a number of areas to name a few. After pre-determined time frames, the player observes the results of these choices.
The second chapter shifts to the player's direct involvement with his or her top staff. Rather than making simple economic choices, the player is asked to make decisions on the military policies of the Federation. Additionally, rather than merely watching these policies take hold, the player is directly involved in the execution of the policies. These choices have a less overt impact on the immediate condition of the Federation, but the results of his or her actions will be seen within the fourth chapter.
Anathema features a unique mission failure mechanic. Instead of a failed mission resulting in a storyline branch, failing the more critical missions in Anathema results in the player character's suicide or eventual death conveyed via text box. The player then finds him or herself in Hell, represented by the player's relocation to a system titled "Hell."
In writing Anathema, Archon attempted to eliminate all random or seemingly-random elements found in the stock Nova scenarios and some expansion plugins. With very few exceptions (all taking place in chapter 4), all dynamic events are direct results of player actions earlier in the campaign.
New Content Edit
The first two chapters of Anathema add a great deal of content. The two expand the Federation storyline by a total of 165 missions, although many of these are used to set bits and do not require action on the player's part.
Chapters one and two add six new ship types, although two are only used by përses before chapter three. These ships are:
- Sentinel: A powerful missile frigate with low speed and moderate defenses
- Titan: A huge battleship with powerful weaponry and strong defenses
- Scimitar: A medium cruiser with well-balanced speed, defenses, and weaponry
- Hydra: An in-system, unmanned defense drone. This ship is not available to the player, but can be bought as a shipboard fighter in chapter three, and is used by Guy's përs.
- Myrmidon: A very fast, very lethal vessel with mediocre defenses. This ship is not available for purchase until chapter three, but is used by Archon's përs.
Additionally, all ships apart from the Hydra have one or more variants. Of particular note is the Scimitar, which has 8.
Cultural References Edit
- Elijah Mallow: Taken from the characters Elijah Bailey and Hober Mallow of Isaac Asimov's "Robot" and "Foundation" series, respectively.
- Animus: Taken from Carl Jung's concept of the male principle (as opposed to the female Anima). Used ironically in that Animus is the only female on the Director's cabinet in order to signify a (usually) latent misogyny within the Bureau.
- Janus Benedictus: From the two-faced Roman God of doors and gateways. Reflects the character's deceptive nature and his role as the Bureau's media "gatekeeper." Last name ironic use of Latin "to speak well."
- Radio Free Federation: Reference to Radio Free Europe, an American anti-Communist radio network established in 1949.
- "If it bleeds, it leads." Common axiom in modern journalism.
- "A rumor's not a rumor that doesn't die." From 1995 film The Usual Suspects in reference to arch-criminal Keyser Soze. Soze and the player character share many parallels, including their ruthless natures, personal magnetism, and large degree of anonymity.
- "Fear will keep them in line." Reference to Star Wars: A New Hope. Used in the final mission of Chapter 1.
- "It is safer to be feared than loved." From Nicolo Machiavelli's The Prince. Final line of Chapter 1.
- "It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven." Taken from John Milton's Paradise Lost, spoken by Satan.
Upcoming Content Edit
The third and fourth chapters of Anathema have been in development since early December of 2007. Chapter three involves the same budget allocation mechanic as the first, but also includes a great more political intrigue and combat than the previous chapters. The chapter also delivers a stronger plot as the player character attempts to manipulate galactic events to the advantage of the Exiles. The fourth and final chapter focuses on the deteriorating galactic situation and the Exiles' war to reclaim the Federation, along with setting up a potential sequel. Chapter four also adds many new ships, outfits, weapons, graphics, and sounds. Together, these chapters will more than double the number of new missions and flyable ships and use every available outfit resource.
In order to fit all of Anathema into one plugin package (and thereby save the player the hassle of swapping plugs mid-game), the current development version overwrites the missions and several outfits from the Polaris and Vell-os storylines. Therefore, is likely that there will be some minor compatibility issues for users carrying over a pilot from the Chapter Two plugins to the finished work due to some re-assigning of resources.
Changes Between VersionsEdit
In addition to adding new content, chapters three and four will modify some resources from chapters one and two. Changes include some minor balance tweaks (especially to long-range weapons and the Scimitar), graphical updates, new chapter transition texts, bug fixes, and a strictly enforced "non-capturing" policy on stronger Federation ships. There are also plans to release a separate plugin (either along with or after the final installment) representing a "hard mode," affecting all four chapters.