Earth & Beyond


Earth & Beyond

Infobox VG
title = Earth & Beyond


developer = Westwood Studios
publisher = Electronic Arts
distributor = Electronic Arts
designer =
engine =
version =
released = September 24, 2002
genre = MMORPG
modes = Multiplayer
ratings = ESRB: Teen (13+)
ELSPA: 11+
platforms = Windows
media = CD-ROM|requirements = Pentium III CPU, 128MB RAM, Internet access, graphics card
input = Keyboard, mouse

"Earth & Beyond" (commonly abbreviated "E&B" or "EnB") was a science fiction massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by Westwood Studios and published by Electronic Arts (EA). The game was released on September 24, 2002 in the United States. EA shut down "Earth & Beyond" on September 22, 2004.

Game universe

It is not known what year it is set in exactly, but that it is some time around 2575 AD. It features three races: the Progen, Jenquai and Terran. The Progen are a genetically altered and advanced race. The Jenquai are philosophers that seek eternal life. The Terrans are the original humans. Each of the three races is descended from the human race on Earth, in essence they are all human. The game's storyline takes place in the Milky Way Galaxy. The Progen, Terran and Jenquai are all uneasy of each other, but still manage to live together in peace. The Terrans are known for their extremely large corporations, such as Infiniti Corp. and GetCo. Infiniti Corp. is the manufacturer of the inter-system and inter-sector warp gates. The warp gates were originally created by the mysterious Ancients, an enigmatic and hyper-advanced race who had all but disappeared.

The universe

Each Universe (server), consists of 12 main solar systems; more were added later in updates. Each system contains multiple sectors. Warp gates are used to travel from sector to sector, and system to system. While a large portion of time is spent in the beginning exploring all these sectors, travel can quickly become tiresome without faster engines.

The Official Maps

* [http://www.picvault.info/images/536993206_mapblack.jpgOriginal game star map, large and with a black background.]
* [http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y199/mauiman/enbwhitemap.jpgA smaller copy of the original, on a white background.]

The warp gates

The warp gate of Akeron was discovered when the reactor of a Progen freighter on a trade run near Pluto exploded. The explosion propelled the freighter into a nearby asteroid field, where it collided with an asteroid, revealing the warp gate.

When you flew into the gate, you would be almost instantly transported to the Aragoth system. The finding of this gate led to many things, both good and bad:

* The loss of several explorer vessels investigating the new Aragoth system
* The start of the Gate war
* Infiniti Corp. gained the ability to make other gates

Origins of the races

The home planet of all three races is really Earth, but when long range space travel first became available, humans started to explore and branch out. Those who stayed on Earth would later become the Terrans. Those who set out to explore the far reaches of the Solar system later became the Jenquai and colonized the Galilean moons around Jupiter. Those that colonized Mars would later become the Progen. Each race then split into united but separate castes.

Changing conditions

One of the more interesting aspects of the game was the actual use of a plot and back-story in a game that would otherwise be just another ordinary MMOG. Regular updates added to the story, and included many new NPC missions as well as bug fixes.

Boss spawns

The universe was unpredictable - a sector that was normally peaceful could quickly change and become dangerous unless players stayed on their toes. There were several varieties of boss spawns: Some were activated after a certain number of lower level monsters were killed, while others were time-based. For example, the Crystal Daeva, which produced very valuable loot, had a spawn time of 72 hours.

As in most RPGs, nearly all bosses carried valuable and rare loot, which could be sold for significant amounts of cash on the in-game market. Boss spawns would usually cause a frenzy among the players in the area as everyone rushed for the kill - the player who scored the most damage would receive credit and looting rights.

Invasions

Some sectors had areas where "Invasions" were staged. Sectors like Aragoth contained a heavily defended Red Dragon base that was surrounded by multiple layers of defense turrets, carriers, battle cruisers, and frigates. Invasions often involved a multitude of clans joined together to attack the base and a huge battle would ensue. Another well known invasion point was the TADA-O gate in Beta-Hydri. The story behind this invasion, is that TADA-O was levering for a position in the interstellar transportation market and started research on gate travel. Their first success was the TADA-O gate which successfully created a gateway to a new sector. Unfortunately the sector was filled with giant, mutated, and vicious fish called TENGU who proceeded to spill into the Beta-Hydri sector. TADA-O attempted to seal off the gate, but failed. They fled the gate station and proceeded to deny any knowledge about the gate research or TENGU. A "Gate Raid" is triggered when a small tengu that wanders around the gate is killed and summons its larger and meaner parents.

The language of the V'rix

In the Aragoth system, suddenly after the Progen opened up another recently discovered ancient gate, ancient artifacts about the V'rix appeared. Two large Maelstroms appeared in Jenquai and Progen sectors. Alien life forms started appearing all over the galaxy, small bat-like creatures poured out of the Maelstroms. The Aliens would fly around sectors in random patterns, when a comm signal was opened to an alien craft, it would simply reply in a language like this: (Note: this is not the actual text message they would reply with)

H2LL4,3'M1N1L32N

It was first believed to be a mathematical form of communication, until the language was decoded. When the V'rix first appeared they were merely another NPC class that was hostile towards no particular faction and merely appeared to be exploring the sectors in and around the maelstroms from where they came. After a short while though it was discovered the V'rix were really planning an invasion, and became hostile towards nearly every faction and quickly swept through the surrounding systems. Before cancellation the V'rix could be seen building a large Weapon or Station in the Akeron Gate sector under heavy guard.

Decoding the language

H2LL4,3'M1N1L32N

* There are English punctuation marks
* There are Roman-style characters
* Numbers are used in seemingly random places

To decode the language, you will need to use a chart like this one, that lists the vowels.
A=1
E=2
I=3
O=4
U=5
Y=6

There are five vowels in the English language, if you replaced them withnumbers, in the sentence Hello, I'm an alien you would get

H2LL4,3'M1N1L32N.

Note: The Aliens do not use spaces.

Playable professions

There are three races (as mentioned above) and three professions:Warrior, Explorer and Trader. Not all combinations were available for play.The following professions were available:

Jenquai Defender (Shinwa)

The Warrior of the Explorer cast. Led by Du'Shao Silva, the Shinwa control Europa and the Sirius system, as well as Callisto (joint control) and Asteroid Belt Beta (joint control).

Jenquai warriors rely on stealth. Their weapons of choice are beams, weapons with the shortest range. Some also reported good success in using missiles. Able to target enemies from an extreme distance due to their advanced sensor range, and jump in, get their hits in, and cloak in order to escape. They could also manipulate space-time in any desired direction, summoning remote enemies or even friends to their location, or as a means to enter or exit a battle in the blink of an eye. Jenquai Warriors could cloak themselves but not others, even while moving. These combat tactics were the bane of Terran Enforcers and Progen Warriors alike, because they allowed the Shinwa to jump into a fight against an already attacking enemy and effectively steal a kill.

Key Skills: Summon, Critical Targeting, Fold Space, Cloak.

Jenquai Explorer (Sha'ha'dem)

The Explorer of the Explorer cast. Led by Merjan Kathrada, the Sha'ha'dem control Io and the Capella system, as well as Callisto (joint control) and Asteroid Belt Beta (joint control).

Jenquai Explorers are very difficult to play solo. This class has the thinnest hull and the fewest (three) weapon mounts. Conversely, they have six device mounts. Class ability enables them to share their extreme sensor range (best in the game) with other teammates, Jenquai Explorers could also cloak other group members. Also, the Open Wormhole ability was unique to this class. Since a teammate would also be pulled through the wormhole to wherever the player went, this race became a glorified taxi service. Payment for a trip usually was around 10,000 credits.

The JE class has some unique abilities in the game:
* Open wormhole.
* Build reactor. Because player-built items have better stats than looted or NPC items, JEs with high "Build Reactor" skill are very sought after.

JEs also have the "Jumpstart" skill which can revive incapacitated players, without the need to be "towed" to the last station they were docked. Jumpstart cancels some of the EXP debt (up to 49% at the highest level).

Key Skills: Cloak, Prospect, Environment Shield, Jumpstart.

Progen Warrior (Centuriata)

The Warrior of the Warrior cast. Led by Memnon, the Centuriata control Mars Alpha and the Vega system, as well as Asteroid Belt Gamma (joint control).

The ultimate tank, slow and loud. Huge hull, powerful shields. Hull damage control skill increases survivability in tight situations. Class ability allows it to build weapons and ammunition that are of much higher quality than bought from NPCs.

Key Skills: Shield Inversion, Critical Targeting, Self Destruct, Gravity Link.

Progen Sentinel (Sabine)

The Explorer of the Warrior cast. Led by Vinda, the Sabine control Mars Beta and the Gallina system, as well as Asteroid Belt Gamma (joint control).

The most under-used class. Slightly less firepower than the Progen Warrior, but has the ability to mine asteroids. The Progen Sentinel could also Menace enemies causing them to run away for a brief time. The PS is the only other class which has the Jumpstart skill, and some argued that it is better suited for this task than a JE due to better survivability.

Still, the Progen Sentinel remained the least popular class in the galaxy. Late in the game a new skill was added to try to increase its popularity. The "Call Forward" skill, when used on other players, made it possible to reclaim skill points from a skill deemed unimportant.

Key Skills: Gravity Link, Power Down, Prospect, Jumpstart.

Terran Enforcer (Earth Corps)

The Warrior of the Tradesman cast. Led by Admiral Diego Herrera, the Earth Corps controls Luna and the Alpha Centauri system, as well as Low Earth (joint control) and Asteroid Belt Alpha (joint control).

Second only to the Progen Warrior in hull strength, the Enforcerbenefits from fast engines (fastest warrior class) and long-range missile weapons.These last two attributes make the class ideal for kiting. Tactical leader of hunting groups, able to increase the firing speed and decrease the reload time of teammate weapons. Can also repair equipment. Class ability allows it to build weapons and ammunition that are of much higher quality than bought from NPCs.

Key Skills: Hacking, Rally, Enrage, Negotiate.

Terran Tradesman (Infiniti Corp.)

The Tradesman of the Tradesman cast. Led by Lady Isabel deWinter, the Infiniti Corp. controls High Earth and the Tau Ceti system, as well as Low Earth (joint control) and Asteroid Belt Alpha (joint control).

Despite its name, a Terran Tradesman is an asset in any hunting group, due to its in-flightrepair ability and shield recharging. Class abilities allowed it to build the largest selection of equipment, so most master builders are Terran Tradesman (with the exception of reactor builders who must be Jenquai Explorers).

Terran Tradesman also have the "Negotiate" skill which increases profits and experience gained from trade. At the higher levels it reduces costs at the analysis and build terminals.

Key Skills: Befriend, Negotiate, Recharge Shields, Trade Skills.

Non-playable professions

Though not playable and not fully implemented, these classes can be accessed for customization through the "Earth & Beyond 'Character and Starship Creator'".

Jenquai Seeker (Sharim)

The Tradesman of the Explorer cast. Led by Ariad, speculated to control Ganymede and the Antares system, as well as Callisto (joint control) and Asteroid Belt Beta (joint control).

Its abilities are open to speculation, though as Traders they could likely build components and recharge shields. As Jenquai they would likely have good scan range, as well as the scan skill, the ability to cloak themselves equal to the Jenquai Defender and the Psionic Shield ability.

Key Skills: Psionic Shield, Cloak, Build Components, Trade Skills.

Progen Privateer (Collegia)

The Tradesman of the Warrior cast. Led by Theodoric Cassel.

While only speculation remained on its capabilities. Had this class been made playable its rumored reactor building skill would have opened up the small market on reactors for some servers, as well as given Progen their much wanted player-built Progen reactors.

Key Skills: Dismantle, Negotiate, Menace, Shield Inversion.

Terran Scout (Hyperia Corp.)

The Explorer of the Tradesman cast. Led by Loric.

Again only speculation remained on its capabilities. Improved stealth, scan range, navigation as well as high beam capabilities were among them.

Key Skills: Missile Weapons, Prospect, Jumpstart, Navigate.

Character and Starship Creator

The "Earth & Beyond" Character and Starship Creator is a utility program that let potential players of "Earth & Beyond" create up to five characters that could later be imported into the full version of the game. This program was still of value to players of the game since it included three classes that had been unreleased in the full version. This let you preview what those classes main ship designs and key skills were.

Accessing these classes is simple, a parameter needs to be added to the target line of the "Character & Starship Creater.exe" shortcut. After quotations and without quotations " -noclassrestrictions" should be placed.

Character statistics

Combat

Combat experience comes from killing mobs and combat jobs. Being incapacitated results in "EXP Debt," where the character only receives half of the normal experience, until the debt is repaid. Logging off for a period of a couple hours usually cleared up any minor debt.

Trade

Trade experience comes from selling loot dropped by mobs, by building stuff, by taking trade jobsat job terminals or just buying low and selling high (trade runs). The most effective trade runs became famous,acquiring nicknames like:
* The "newspaper run" (delivering Net-7 news between Net-7 Sol and Friendship 7 stations, which were only one hop apart). This was the canonical low-level trade route. When the trade experience starts to diminish, one graduates to
* The "spice run" (so called because the most effective item on one leg was "Spices"). It's four hops long.
* The "Fenris run" (delivering antenna parts to Fenris observatory). This is a very long run (12 hops).

Exploration

Exploration experience comes from visiting navigation points and exploration jobs. In general each system hasa number of "nav points," usually between 20 and 50. Visiting a nav point for the first timegives a certain amount of exploration experience (the amount diminishes when exploration experienceincreases). After a nav point is visited, it appears on the "radar" when the player is in the system.

Certain nav points are hidden, which means that even after visiting them they don't appearon the radar. Experienced players would offer to "tour" less experienced ones (usually for a fee)by forming a group and visiting these hidden nav points.

The number of nav points in the game is limited; after a player has visited all nav pointsthey could gain exploration experience by visiting them again grouped with players whovisit the nav point for the first place. This is called "assisting," but the rewardsare much lower.

Characters playing an Explorer class, such as the Jenquai Explorer and Progen Sentinel can mine asteroids for Exploration experience, and in turn sell materials for Trade Experience.

Certain NPCs give missions with rewards in exploration experience.

paceships

All ships consist of three essential pieces of equipment. Your ship will not be allowed to leave from spacedock if one of these items is not installed when you decide to disembark.
* Reactor - Provides power to your ship
* Shield - Protects your ship from weapons fire and environmental damage
* Engines - Propel your ship and enable warp travel

Secondary Equipment consists of
* Weaponry - Beams, Projectile Weapons, and Missile Launchers
* Devices - Equipment used to Buff or Debuff friendlies or Enemies

Customization

Since nearly all equipment in-game could be reverse engineered, rebuilt, and enhanced, a large trade market was planted on the dismantling, analyzing, and construction of equipment for sale to other players. Player made weapons boasted a higher quality percentage, (200% maximum), and allowed for a moderate degree of ship customization. Player made weapons boasted faster reload times, shorter cooldown, and faster firing rates which made them essential for combat. Player made shields gave greater recharge speeds in combat, and offered higher capacities. Modified reactors were a must for characters using beam weapons due to the huge energy demand. Player made engines allowed for faster than average warp travel, higher thrusting speeds, a tighter turning radius, and shorter spin-up and spin-down times for warp jumps. Ammunition for projectile and missile weapons could also be player made, producing higher damage ammunition.

Weapon classes

* Beams - close range, can be fired only if the player is facing the target - hardwired Energy, EMP, or Plasma damage - moderate firing rates, moderate to high energy usage, moderate to high damage. Favored by the Jenquai.

* Projectiles - medium range, can be fired only if the player is facing the target - damage varies by ammunition type - fast firing rate, low energy usage, low damage per round, but usually many rounds were fired at once. Small ammunition size. Favored by the Progen.

* Missiles - long range, can be fired even when the player is facing away from the target with lowered accuracy - damage varies by ammunition type - slow firing rate, low energy usage, high damage. Large ammunition size. Favored by the Terrans.

Ammunition

Unless using beam weaponry, players needed to buy or build ammunition for their weapons and keep some on hand for an emergency reload. There were over 260 different ammunition models, of which about 250 were analyzable.

Projectile and Missile ammunition:

* Explosive - Explodes on contact with the target.

* Plasma - DoT: covers the target in an ignited plasma cloud. Effective against organic enemies.

* Chemical - DoT: covers the target in a corrosive chemical. Effective against enemies with metal based ships.

* EMP - Depletes the targets shield strength and reactor energy. Causes no damage to hulls, and organic enemies are unaffected by it.

Projectile ammunition:

* Impact - Causes blunt force impact damage.

Factions

In "Earth & Beyond", every player and most NPCs belong to a faction. Some factions get along well, some less well, and some don't get along at all.

A player's standing with a faction is a numerical value

* -2000 or below: red. Mob attacks on sight.
* -1999 to +1999: yellow. Neutral, won't attack until provoked.
* +2000 and above: green. Friendly.

Here's a list of factions (incomplete):

* Centuriata Warriors (Progen Warriors)
* Sabine Explorers (Progen Sentinels)
* Collegia Traders (Progen traders, NPC only)
* Earth Corps Warriors (Terran W.)
* Freespacers (NPC only)
* Infiniti Corp. Traders (Terran T.)
* Hyperia Corp. Explorers (Terran explorers, NPC only)
* Shinwa Warriors (Jenquai W.)
* Sha'ha'dem Explorers (Jenquai E.)
* Sharim Traders (Jenquai traders, NPC only)
* The Red Dragon (abbreviated RD). Pirates. Hate any form of authority.
* Bogeril. A loose collection of early settlers in the Alpha Centauri system. Bogeril are renowned for their ingenuity and tinkering abilities.
* Anseria. Violent Psionics, they hate Infiniti Corp.
* V'rix. Mysterious aliens. Apart from the Mordana, they hate everyone, though few in the V'rix case ever attacked on sight, even when red, they acted as if neutral.
* Mordana
* Glenn Commission. The Glenn Commission is the neutral government of Beta Hydri.
* Good Earth Trading Company. Although competitors of Infiniti Corp., their faction standing is neutral.

Every time a player kills a mob, their standing with the victim's faction decreases,and their standing with other factions that hate the victim increases. For example, killing Red Dragonsdecreases Red Dragon faction, but increases (in a smaller measure) Centuriata and Earth Corps faction,because these factions hate each other.

The Red Dragon are a special case. Although players start with a large negative RD faction,getting friendly with them is desirable because this allows access to the Smugglers Run system,which is an excellent shortcut between far-flung places in the galaxy. Also, the Red Dragon leaderoffers some missions with large experience awards once a player's RD standing is green (+2000 or greater).

There are two "well-known" methods of increasing a player's standing with the Red Dragons:
* Killing Chavez. The Chavez are pirates who dislike Red Dragon, and the NPCs can sometimes be seen fighting each other. The Chavez don't have their own faction so one doesn't have to worry about losing standing with them.
* Killing one's own faction. A Progen Warrior can go and hunt Centuriata NPCs, taking care not to reduce the Centuriata standing below +2000, because he'd get kicked out of the faction and won't be able to land on Centuriata-owned stations.

Here's the algorithm for getting better RD faction:

# Kill some NPCs of your own faction (e.g. Centuriata) until your standing approaches +2000
# Run lots of trade, explore or combat jobs sponsored by the Centuriata, until faction increases.
# Lather, rinse, repeat.

Cancellation

Rumors of the game's cancellation became prevalent in early 2004. Between January and February of 2004 EA repeatedly lied to the playerbase even after internal sources confirmed the game would, in fact be cancelled. EA eventually confirmed the suspicions in March 2004 by announcing that "Earth & Beyond" was to be discontinued the following September, stating that it would refocus on other projects. Earth and Beyond had up to 38,000 subscribers early on at its peak, but numbers went into decline thereafter, falling to 22,500 at the time of EA's announcement [ [http://www.mmogchart.com/ Mmogchart.Com ] ] . This could be attributed to the lack of advertising it suffered from and the opening of "Star Wars Galaxies" by Sony Online Entertainment or to the coinciding release of the Star Wars Galaxies space expansion, "Jump to Lightspeed", which came out on October 27, 2004. It has also been rumored that Electronic Arts wished to put more money into The Sims Online and turn that into a big marketing success. "Earth & Beyond" officially shut down on September 22, 2004.

References

External links

*moby game|id=/earth-beyond
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2434305932211518515&hl=en "Earth & Beyond" trailer] from Google Video
* [http://www.ENB-emulator.com/ Earth & Beyond Emulator]

Fansites

* [http://www.earthandbeyond.ca/ EnB fan site] , Earth and Beyond Fansite almost the same as the official EnB website!
* [http://www.saveenb.bravehost.com/ Save EnB/News Center Net-7] , Earth and Beyond Fansite for over 2 years!
* [http://www.enb-revival.tk/ The Earth & Beyond Revival Site] , a recent fansite with "E&B" info and news.
* [http://enb.rpgplanet.gamespy.com/ Universal "Earth & Beyond"]
* [http://www.enbx.com/ ENBX: "Earth & Beyond" Lives!]
* [http://forums.electronicarts.co.uk/other-ea-games/280803-bring-back-earth-beyond.html "Bring back Earth and Beyond!"] , poll on EA-UK forums.
* [http://forums.electronicarts.co.uk/ea-retro-games-archive/172284-reopening-earth-beyond.html "Reopening Earth and Beyond?"] , archive of original 77 page thread on EA-UK forums.
* [http://www.freewebs.com/mauiman Mauiman's "Earth & Beyond" Tribute site]
* [http://www.enb-emulator.com/ Earth and Beyond Emulator] , an attempt to reverse-engineer "Earth and Beyond". Closed to BETA testing.


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