Planetary Annihilation Seeking Lore Help From Community

'Why?!' bellows the robot. 'Why do we annihilate the ones we love?'

Writing is hard. For instance, that sentence? It took me 37 hours to think up. 43 if you include the time I spent watching that bug live out its entire lifespan. So you can understand why Planetary Annihilation developer Uber isn’t exactly in a rush to reinforce its (so far campaign-less) real-time warmonger-er with reams upon reams of lore. At this point, after all, systems matter first and foremost, and that’s really why most players backed the ludicrously large-scale Total Annihilation spiritual successor anyway. But people don’t just strap rockets to planetoids and play intergalactic bumper cars for no reason, and Uber is in the process of coming up with reasons. They would, however, be oh-so-grateful for a little bit of your assistance.

Here’s the basic backbone of the story, via a post on Planetary Annihilation’s Kickstarter:

“The world of Planetary Annihilation is a complex one. It’s filled with untold numbers of scarred, warring machines with identities molded by the philosophies of their Commander. There are four known factions in the universe, and though every Commander and his troops have assimilated their machine-parts, each has a wildly different outlook on the world.”

“Commanders haven’t always existed. They were built. Then abandoned. Now, they’re coming back from an extended dormancy, long after their creators have moved on. Few Commanders remember scraps of what life was like. Those that can become leaders and begin scouring the cosmos, reactivating other Commanders and converting them to their way of thinking.”

The post contains a fair amount of backstory on one of the factions as well, but it’s still lacking a name and other details. And that’s where players come in. Uber’s opened up a (currently backer-only) message board for both voting and open discussion of factions’ finer points. Player input will apparently drive the faction going forward.

So then, it’s not full fan control, but it’s certainly a more open approach to story than most developers take. Personally, I also think it’d be really interesting if Uber tried incorporating pivotal player matches into official faction lore – or at least squeezing in a few of the more legend, myth, and triumphant-space-jaunty-friendly details. But this is just the beginning, so who knows? Speaking of, the game is officially going into beta sometime today. Have you set yourself on an interplanetary collision course with its strategic bounties?


  1. BobbyDylan says:

    Here’s the Story:

    Russians lost a Nuke, which Islamic Militants stole to use on Murica. You must stop them, the Russians attack Europe with asteroids, for da Lulz. Then China Rises, and joins in on Russia’s side because of reasons. Now Murica must hold of the whole world (and the income several other world-lets) with their tiny army that’s 8 times as everyone else’s.

    Market research tells me that this is this story is both unique and will resonate with gamers.

    • DragonOfTime says:

      Sounds like a Tom Clancy novel to me. This could be a best-seller.

    • bstard says:

      This game is too large to run from a floppy disk, so before playing you must first install PA to your hard disk drive. Now you can blow up planets, enjoy!

    • Synesthesia says:


    • Kynrael says:

      “the Russians attack Europe with asteroids, for da Lulz.”

      That’s what sold it to me as a realistic plotline. After all, they do organise tank olympics.

    • Megakoresh says:

      And Nobel Prize in writing goes to…

  2. Seafort says:

    I backed the game on kickstarter but I don’t feel part of the community as that’s a way higher tier than I could afford at the time.

    So I’ll just wait till it’s released and hope it’s a good game. I don’t feel obliged to help them out in any way due to lower tier backers not being worthy enough to be involved in the process :)

  3. Gap Gen says:

    I think Supreme Commander dropped the ball a little compared to Total Annihilation. TA didn’t have much of a plot, but its backstory was solid. By contrast, Supreme Commander shoved in a lot of crap (so you have your generic acronym faction, your cyborgs and your wizards, and then a bunch of gumf around it, which is a lot weaker than the simple premise of TA) and didn’t invest properly in writers and voice actors, so everything that included words grated horribly in that game.

    • iaguz says:

      Yea, agreed.

      TA works better then Sup com because very little story is better then a boring huge amount of story. You mightn’t care so much about the first games lack of narrative simply because it was an incredibly visceral experience without having to wonder why Commander A is motivated to fight, or the philosophies of each side or of the brutal pointlessness of war or any of that crap. It’s a fun robot explodathon let us aim for no higher pretense then that.

      Though I did kind of like the Core Contingency, if simply because I find something hilarious about “oh we lost? WELL THEN LET’S BLOW UP THE UNIVERSE!” is a great premise for an expansion.

      Also Sup Com 2 has a fucking hilariously bad story. I’m really surprised that it was made by the same team that did the first game. But at least the pathing was actually good, so… progress I guess.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I imagine Chris Taylor did a Lucas and gained more overall control over the whole thing, leading to his weaker points not being offset by other team members with those talents. That’s my guess, anyway.

        A lot of sci-fi game stories are hopelessly bad. There’s no sense of what starts conflicts, other than picking some generic sounding Council of Space Planets or United Federation of Asteroids or Galactic Zorbing Empire and smushing them against each other like a kid playing with action figures. I appreciate that it’s difficult to make people relate to people fighting over places that don’t exist in alien environments, but there are a lot of cues to how geopolitics works on Earth that can be applied to space. For example, you could have an American Revolution scenario on Mars with the war as a proxy for conflicts between factions on Earth, or the moons of Jupiter jockeying for overall control over Jupiter orbit, or have a Europe-carving-up-the-globe scenario between various Earth powers and the solar system at large. Plus a bit of immersing people in a culture to give them a sense of the place and people they’re fighting for. That said, something like Freespace managed just fine with a few limited storytelling tools, so it’s not too intensive a task if you get it right.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    So they’re going to pour fanwank into it. Whoop-de-doo.

    Thankfully, it will matter naught, because I suspect I’ll spend most of my time in this playing skirmishes and compstomps in no need of second-rate Internet-fiction narrative structure.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Asking the community to do the challenging job of a trained professional is probably bad news, yeah. Then again, maybe they’re just asking for names of things, and this is just a PR thing that’ll have little impact on the game.

      • Xocrates says:

        The polls are for names, and symbols based on provided backstory. Fans aren’t creating lore.

    • The Random One says:

      That’s a rather interesting mental picture your choice of metaphor paints.

  5. honuk says:

    if they’re asking a community of people interested in playing the game to come up with fake reasons for them to want to play the game, one must ask the question of what the point is in the first place. tell a story to yourself! why? I don’t know!

  6. Lemming says:

    Go the TA route, not the Supreme Commander one. We don’t need lore, just have a back-story of constant war for resources and everyone’s long forgotten a time when there wasn’t one.

    • Bfox says:

      Yes. This.

      The whole Russian “Dead Hand” scenario is wonderfully chilling by itself and tells its own story.

  7. SkittleDiddler says:

    I’m surprised they’re not charging $79.99 for the honor of adding lore to the game.

    • Doganpc says:

      This tired line again? Seriously, why is it that when something comes out on steam and is priced the same as it was priced for everyone else before it came to steam that people get all butt hurt over it? BTW if you look the price lowered now that they’re into Beta. Fucking overinflated ego maniac entitlement kiddies.

      • airmikee99 says:

        I have no idea what you’re talking about, but $80 for a video game is fucking ridiculous.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Good job it was $80 for one of the crazy “LET ME THROW MONEY AT THE SCREEN” Kickstarter tiers instead, then.

          • airmikee99 says:

            Ah, you’re right.. Steam has it listed for $70. That’s still $70 too much for a game that isn’t finished.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I think the point is that kickstarter charged $80 for the tier to access it this early. People who pledged that did so to get the early access, thus to avoid doing those people a disservice, they have to charge that same amount to access it this early.

            That some people feel it is too expensive is irrelevant because others thought it was well worth it – the price will come down to match the other tiers and you can buy it if and when the deal is right for you.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I think it’s largely to allow people to throw money at the screen post-Kickstarter. It won’t be $70 on release and this is probably just to avoid pissing off people who already paid $70 via Kickstarter. I agree it looks bad, but eh, it’s their project.

            EDIT: Ninja’ed.

      • SkittleDiddler says:

        Any time anyone trots out the old “entitlement” line, I immediately think “fanboy overreaction”. If you can’t come up with an appropriate insult, why even bother replying?

        I’m not interested in Planetary Annihilation. Never have been, never will be. I do, however, have an opinion on developers that think it’s okay to charge an obscene amount of money in a retail environment (i.e. not a Kickstarter portal) for access to an alpha-phase unfinished game.

        I couldn’t give two shits and a shake about willing Kickstarter contributors who might have gotten their feelings hurt due to a potentially lower Early Access starting price.

        • Sheng-ji says:

          “I couldn’t give two shits and a shake about willing Kickstarter contributors who might have gotten their feelings hurt due to a potentially lower Early Access starting price.”

          But if you did want this game and had purchased it at a particular price, wouldn’t you be pissed off if they then gave others a significantly better deal for no good reason. To me that would be the same as botanicula did to me, I purchased the game on release day from their website only to see that they had put it in a bundle on the same day for pay what you want.

          • airmikee99 says:

            Just an hour earlier you posted: “That some people feel it is too expensive is irrelevant because others thought it was well worth it”

            Now you’re upset that you feel you were overcharged? Which is it? Is the price irrelevant because you thought it was worth it, or were you overcharged? It shouldn’t matter what other people paid, because you paid an amount that you felt was worth it, didn’t you?

            If you feel ripped off paying more than others, why does it come as a surprise to you that some people feel it’s a rip-off to pay for an unfinished game to begin with?

          • Sheng-ji says:

            I guess because no-one is denying you the ability to buy the game, on release day at it’s retail price. If you choose not to pay $70 or $80 now for early access, you will miss out on nothing.

            In the case of Botanicula, I read a review of a game coming out that day, I went to the website and I bought it. The same day as release, they put it in a pay what you want bundle where the vast majority of customers got it, at the same time as me, in the same state as my copy for significantly less.

            Just to really make it crystal clear, again, you can buy this game on release day for the normal retail price and no-one else will have paid less than you. Some people would have paid more, but that is their business – you, yourself have not been ripped off because you have neither had to wait to play the finished product, got a lesser product or paid more than someone else.

            There is no comparison in my mind, but if you feel that there is, then the person who waits till release day and pays the lower amount is equivalent to the person who buys Botanicula in a bundle, i.e. it is the person who paid more for early access who got the raw deal. But as you have stated, this is not you because it is too expensive. I say well done, you have a keen and perceptive notion of value, I’m with you – I too am waiting till release day and reviews. If you feel somehow pressured into buying early, pay the expensive price for an alpha release which is a crappy version, then you may feel ripped off and honestly, I say then that you need to develop some willpower and don’t let internets pressure you. Plenty of people are happy with what they have paid and just because they are doesn’t mean that you should follow them like a sheep – you should make your own decisions!

            Oh and calling me upset about Botanicular is rather strong, seeing it in a bundle made me go “Hmmmm” and then I filed it in the back of my mind as odd things indie devs do. Was I happy with my purchase and the price I paid, yes. Would I liked to have paid less, yes as it was avaliable. This game is not avaliable to you for less, so maybe stop wishing it did and deal with the reality of the situation which is that you know exactly what it will cost at various stages of it’s development. Choose the one you want to buy in to or just move on and wait for a sale, or just file it in the back of your mind as odd things kick started projects do!

  8. Bobtree says:

    Sometimes less is better than more.

  9. Doganpc says:

    Did not want

  10. Ein0r says:

    Pay me money, give me a free copy of the game and i will start using my time to create Environment-, Unit-, and Faction lore.

    No? Oh well, thought so much.

  11. dagudman says:

    I certainly want to see how they will integrate stuff people thought about for 5 minutes in the game and keep it relevant.