Well, it’s been a while since I even looked at this project, but the tiny glimpse of Mass Effect Andromeda from E3 got me somewhat remotivated.
So I’ve started going through my proposed race changes, and updated all references in the ROM for each. Everything it, and in some cases has given me a few characters to play with when I redo the scripting. The only real problem was with the Elowan… Their name being somewhat shorter than “Salarians”, has had me refer to them as the “Salari”. I will try and take another look at this and see if I can extend some of the references. Luckily, in much of the conversational text I can reword things to buy myself the few extra characters needed, hopefully it’ll only be a minor canon-quibble in the end.
So now I have NPCs in the game claiming to be Mass Effect races! The script still needs changing – no self respecting Volus would meet you without calling you “Earth-Clan” – and the graphics definitely need changing, but baby steps!
Whilst hunting through the ROM for race names to change, I stumbled upon a piece of text test from the original development:-
THIS STRING TESTS IF THE NEW WRITEMESSAGE FUNCTION WORKS PROPERLY OR NOT. THIS MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR CORRECTLY IN A WINDOW WHEN THE START BUTTON IS PRESSED PLANETSIDE. WHEN THE WINDOW IS FULL, THE USER PRESSES THE A BUTTON AND MORE OF THE MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR. THIS IS TO BE USED FOR ANYWHERE THAT A MESSAGE COULD RUN LONGER THAN A WINDOW, FOR EXAMPLE IN THE ALIEN COMMUNICATIONS SECTION, WHERE ALIEN MESSAGES COULD BE SEVERAL WINDOWS LONG. SPECIAL CHARACTERS THAT ARE ALLOWED ARE: LOWER CASE R STANDS FOR RETURN, SO YOU CAN BREAK A LINE IN THE MIDDLErSMALL C IS c, SMALL T IS t, SMALL I IS i.rPUNCTUATION STANDARD ASCII: !+=-:?%#.,rANY ILLEGAL VALUE SHOWS UP AS A
In my previous meddling with the initial briefing text, I had already worked out that “r” would insert a line break. Now I also know that “c” and “t” do something! The “c” diplays as ©, and “t” displays as an up & down arrow in the same character – generally used in game as a “press to continue text” notifier. I can’t see either of these bindings being of particular use in game, but the list of supported punctuation characters definitely will be. No semi-colons for this game!
Also, I may hijack this part of the ROM for a hidden message of my own. The kids go crazy for hidden messages these days.
After doing the race names successfully, I moved onto the mineral elements. Starting out with the fuel source “ENDURIUM+”, I decided tochange this to Element 0, or Eezo. In official environments (briefings, trade centre, etc.) would become “ELEMENT0” (to fit into the character space of “ENDURIUM”), and in more conversational/informal settings (convos, discovered logs and the like) it would be replaced with “EEZO”, in keeping with Mass Effect usage. So I searched the ROM and updated as necessary, and loaded it up to see the change.
I’d forgotten about the “+”, which seems to have persisted. On the upside, this means I can replace “ENDURIUM” with “ELEMENT-“, and if I can replace the “+” with a “0”, it will eventually read as “ELEMENT-0”. However it was only ever showing as “ENDURIUM” in the ROM. Tracking down where the “+” comes from will be a greater challenge, as that lone character appears a lot in the code.
That’s slowed me down somewhat, so I’m going on a trial & error fishing expedition for this elusive punctuation mark!
I’ve been putting a lot of thought recently into how the races will marry up in this conversion. There are 7 main races that you meet in Starflight – this leaves a lot of Mass Effect races out… Thinking about how they react to the player (and each other), I’ve put together a little list of changes I intend to make. The most important ME races are all covered, and things kind of fit. Any major issues can probably be written around when changing the script though.
Below are the ways I plan to convert each race for this mod. And check out the beautiful artwork ripped from the Starflight manual. They don’t do game-art like this anymore!
The Mechan -> The Geth
This was the mos straight-forward of them all. Have one synthetic race, replace with another synthetic race. The Mechan are guarding the world of “Heaven” in SF, which I can easily replace with “Rannoch” (the old Geth homeworld). In SF, they are waiting for an old expedition to come and arrive, and are friendly with you if you claim to be a part of that expedition. With a bit of script-jigging, that can easily be changed to waiting for materials for their “megastructure”, and convincing them that you were sent by Nazara (the reaper Sovereign). Easy, and relatively clean.
The Gazurtoid -> The Asari
The Gazurtoid are described as “highly religious”, and see themselves as “redeemers of the galaxy”. The Asari are a highly spiritual race themselves, and while not “redeemers of the galaxy”, this can be toned down. They were the first to inhabit the Citadel, and political leaders, so not too much of a stretch.
The Thrynn -> The Krogan
Much like the Mechan, the choice for the Thrynn was obvious. They are described as “Cunning reptiles not to be trusted”. Which made me immediately think of the Krogan. In SF, you have to be friendly with them to stop them from attacking you. With the Krogan, being dominant is more likely to earn their respect, so that doesn’t quite fit. But with a bit of hackery, I may be able to change that. The Thrynn will attack you almost immediately if you are friendly with Elowan, or have one on board. Given the genophage in ME, that made me think…
The Elowan -> The Salarians
Who would the Krogan hate more than Salarians, for unleashing the genophage! The Elowan are described as gentle & peaceful, which can match up quite nicely with the Salarians thoughtful, scientific nature. The Elowan are wary of the Thrynn, as the Thrynn eat their children – the delicious “headfruit”. They won’t communicate if a Thrynn is on board, or if you have been friendly with them recently. This can be seen as the Salarians being wary of the Krogan, as they strive for revenge for the genophage. I did think about having the Turians fill this role, but they don’t really count as “gentle & peaceful”. However…
The Spemin -> The Turians
The Spemin are an arrogant race, which can be tied into the Turians “warmonger” attitude – arrogance in their militaristic strength. They are also said to be knowledgeable of the other races in the galaxy, and considering the Turians have been part of the council for a long time, that should fit. They are more likely to respond to you if you go in threatening – which sounded right for a warlike race. This is a trait that fits closer with the Krogan, however… So I may have to replicate this code with the Thrynn somehow. Swapping the Turians for the Krogan won’t work so well, as there is no bad-blood between Turians & Salarians, so it would make for having to change everything around. And 1 inconsistency is better than many!
The Veloxi -> The Volus
The Veloxi are an obsequious race, and highly knowledgeable of all the others. Which is very similar to the trading Volus – always polite to get a deal, and full of information from their galactic trading. The Veloxi are proud of their ties to the ancients in SF – but that can easily be written out for the Volus. Their information on the ancients is also somewhat incorrect in the game. And this can be easily rewritten as the Volus picking up rumours whilst trading – and rumours aren’t always factually correct.
The Minstrels -> The Hanar
The Minstrels are a race of space faring poets, singing songs of history, the ancients and the universe. Change poet for preacher, and ancients for “Enkindlers” and you have the Hanar to a T. This one practically writes itself!
So that is how I plan to change the SF races to those of ME. I’ve got all the main citadel races covered, but a few side races are missing (Elcor, Drell, Vorcha, Quarians, etc…). I may look at adding more, but I think that may be way beyond my skills. But due to the text-heavy nature of the game, I’m sure I can slip in some references to the others somewhere! If you have any clever ideas on how to convert the races that you find superior to mine, please let me know in the comments.
Now I’ve got a plan, it’s just the HEFTY task of changing in-game text and graphics! If anybody is any good with pixel-art, and wants to help out, please let me know.