In the twilight of Earth’s great civilizations, we were chosen to venture to the stars in search of a new home. But we did not travel alone. As we slept, behind us streaked messages from Earth. Their dream that we would not let the light of humanity extinguish. When we awoke we listened to words spoken centuries ago. As we gazed across the vast space and time that separated us, we hoped that Earth still lived and that the words were not the echoes of ghosts.
Today is the one year anniversary of the release of the “New Horizons” mod for Beyond Earth. And I want to use it to announce “Echoes of Earth” the spiritual successor for Rising Tide. Echoes of Earth is a total conversion that is full of new mechanics and new story elements. I’ve been diligently working on it since Rising Tide came out and I am targeting one or two weeks before public release. The initial version has been in internal play testing and I am looking to expand play testing. If you’re interested in becoming a play tester see the bottom of this post.
The story of Echoes of Earth
In Echoes of Earth the seedships did not leave alone. After launching the seedships Earth continued to send messages along a chain of satellites it launched in the wake of the seedships. These satellites allowed Earth to send one way messages to the seedships that the colonists would be able to read upon landing. These messages contained the history of Earth after the seedships left, discoveries Earth hoped would help the colonists and all the failed research on instantaneous communication. The signal from Earth is not just a story element in Echoes of Earth. It is a mechanic that is woven into many different parts of the mod. Early buildings and satellites focus on collecting and decoding the signal, providing Science and Culture.
The new mechanics of Echoes of Earth
The first public release of Echoes of Earth will include:
- Completely redone tech web
- Completely redone buildings and building quests
- A new orbital system
- A new Health system
- A new Trade Route system
- A new Energy economy
Tech web and buildings
The new technologies and buildings form a unique core economic skeleton in Echoes of Earth. Buildings are more specialized and not every city will need or want every building. Many buildings are dependent on nearby terrain or resources to be most effective. As the game progresses each Affinity has a section of the tech web that contains units and buildings unique to them. What Affinity you choose will shape what technologies you pursue and what units and buildings you have access to.
Orbital units play a much more central role in Echoes of Earth. Orbital units are available very early on and provide large economic bonuses. All satellites can collect the signal from Earth, providing science, in addition to whatever else they do. While satellites do not boost tiles themselves they provide a large 50% multiplier to yields within a city. Making satellites a core way to specialize your cities. The Paean’s +1 Health to worked tiles is a main (though not exclusive) way of generating local Health.
But satellites are also expensive. Most only last 20 turns, requiring more production to keep them maintained as they age. Satellites also require the strategic resource Oil, which means the amount of Oil you have constrains the number of satellites you can have even if you have plenty of production. Orbital Coverage is also harder to get. Cities start with only the tile they are on. If you want more you’ll need to invest in infrastructure to expand it.
Keeping your colony Healthy will requiring careful management of population, local Health and Global Health. Expansion is easier as Cities cost much less unhealth. But populations much be watched carefully as every citizen costs more than 1 unhealth. Local Health is never enough to make a city health neutral and the more population you have the more sources of Global Health you need to avoid penalties. If you’re diligent about keeping your local Health sufficient for your cities you can make your starting Global Health last a long time.
Some tile improvements, like the Science boosting Academy, cost unhealth when worked. If you have a city working large numbers of these kind of improvements extra investment in local Health infrastructure will be critical even if the city population remains modest.
Trade Route system
The Trade Route system in Echoes of Earth is similar to the one used in my “Balance of Trade” mod. Yields are smaller overall and are dependent on buildings in the source and destination city. Cities with a large number of strategic and affinity resources nearby will be able to produce large amounts of Energy and Science from international Trade Routes. Young cities, that haven’t built a Trade Depot of their own, will get extra Food or Production from domestic Trade Routes, allowing them to develop quickly and catch up to other more advanced cities.
Many sources and uses for Energy have changed. Not just roads but most tile improvements cost Energy to maintain. Over expansion is now more likely to tank your Energy economy than your Health. Unit maintenance is now calculated differently as well. Basic infantry units are free to maintain, making them good ways to garrison your cities without taxing your Energy economy in peace time. More advanced units, like tanks, artillery and jets cost one or more energy per turn to maintain, so be careful about building a large army unless you plan to use it quickly.
Generating Energy can be done with Generator improvements, Trader specialists and certain resources. If you find yourself struggling to produce enough energy to meet your colony’s needs and there is terrain with plenty of Geothermal expanding to it could help counteract your deficit.
Becoming a play tester and release date
Most of the mod is fully implemented. I’m targeting two weeks for open play testing before a public release. Most of what I currently have left to do is write text strings, implement tutorials and other quality of life features that are not 100% mandatory. While I’m doing that play testers have been playing the mod and helping me refine it. With the vast majority of the mechanical aspects of the mod fully functioning, I want to expand play testing so I can get as much perspective as possible for the upcoming full public release. If you’re interested in becoming a play tester please reach out to me via this post, through a private message on CivFanatics (I’m Machiavelli24) or through Steam.