By PWE_BranFlakes @ October 16, 2013 at 12:00pm
Designing the Voth Ground Combat Experience
My name is Jeff “AdjudicatorHawk” Hamilton, and today I’m here to talk to you about the group and combat design of the Voth, as experienced on ground maps. To start, we began our research by taking a look at “Distant Origin” (Star Trek: Voyager, Ep 3×23), which introduced the Voth species. While the episode largely deals with Voth scientists and aristocrats rather than military members, it still helped us answer one of the most important questions when designing something:
“What defines the spirit of the Voth?”
When looking at the Voth as a species, our starting point was only one episode, so we had to look at what stood out about them and extrapolate from there. Their actions demonstrated that they were highly defensive, both culturally and militarily. While they vastly outstripped Voyager’s level of technology, offense was not their preferred solution to the problems that Voyager posed to them. They were also clearly very Science-focused – they had entire councils of elders dedicated to each field of Science, and their technology was able to transport an entire Intrepid-class starship. Their vessels were exceptionally large, and their cloaking technology was an advanced form of phasing not seen in the Alpha Quadrant.
So what did we take from all that? In combat, we want the Voth to feel defensive. The Voth aren’t waging war on the players, and the players aren’t waging war on the Voth – they’re just coming into conflict over their different motivations for being in the Dyson Sphere (you’ll learn more about this as you experience the story in The Sphere). Voth should also feel unique to fight against, using high technology and intelligent tactics to their advantage. Many of their powers revolve around shields, cloaking, and their own special take on Antiproton energy damage. All of this combines to form the framework of which we’ve created the Voth ground group. Let’s go into some details about what individual Voth are capable of!
Rank and file Voth conscripts and enlisted officers make up the backbone of the Voth military. These are the known varieties of Voth soldier you will encounter in the Dyson Sphere:
- Voth Specialists are enlisted soldiers with basic Voth racial abilities. They are equipped with Voth Antiproton pistols, and are able to paralyze humanoids with a short-range, toxic spine projected from their wrists. In times of duress, they can feign death by shutting down their metabolic systems, causing them to appear to be medically dead without a close examination.
- Voth Medics are front-line support troops who are tasked with the protection of their fellow soldiers. They use science-based abilities to keep enemies away from themselves as they attempt to resuscitate fallen comrades. When forced to defend themselves, they are equipped with Voth Antiproton Pistols or Voth Antiproton Sniper Rifles.
- Voth Spec Ops Troops are elite melee combatants, making use of their physical prowess and speed to engage and disable enemy targets with tactical strikes. Voth Spec Ops make good use of Voth cloaking technology to keep them safe as they oppose their targets, while utilizing Antiproton Raptor Blades to deal out tons of melee damage.
- Voth Strike Commanders lead from the front, protected by their bulky armor and their contingent of allies. They bring battlefield-altering powers to the table, including Dampening Fields and Orbital Strikes. Commanders are equipped with the Voth Antiproton Overload Rifle, allowing them to participate directly in combat as they direct their strike forces.
Not all combatants in the Voth force are so mundane, however! The Voth have bred and trained creatures we would only recognize as dinosaurs to use on the field of battle:
- Bio-Engineered Dankanasaurs are small, raptor-like dinosaurs used by the Voth as shock troops and terrifying swarmers. Dankanasaurs are fast, agile, and lethal – while many enemies prefer either range or melee combat, these dinos are capable of dealing damage at all ranges. Their most dangerous attack allows them to leap on the shoulders of their victim and pin him to the ground, dealing damage while rendering the target completely immobile for several seconds!
- Bio-Engineered Furiadons are larger alien raptors with higher cognitive abilities than the animalistic Dankanasaur. Bred to be perfect war machines, Furiadons unleash mortar fire and beam volleys from a distance, peppering the battlefield with damage. Normally, their vicious bite is used as a last resort, but on occasion, the electronics controlling their animal instincts short out in-combat, causing them to fly into a savage rage.
- The Bio-Engineered Viriosaurus Rex is the pinnacle of Voth biogenic technology, towering above the trees and dominating combat. His scream pierces through the air for miles, summoning allied Dankanasaurs to protect him, while his substantial armor radiates Antiproton beams and Transphasic Chroniton Mortars at all nearby targets. This walking artillery piece is best approached only in a group – lone officers are advised to find backup from nearby operatives before engaging this king of monsters.
Lastly, some Voth soldiers use bipedal, mechanized armor to augment their already-able combat abilities:
- The Ceratopsid-class Exosuit is the original line of mechanized combat armor in use by the Voth military. These mechs are equipped with a pair of rapid-fire Antiproton Cannons, as well as a “Ceratopsid Siege Shield” which they can deploy to trade mobility for an ultimate defense against all incoming fire in their front arc. While locked down with their Siege Shield, they forego the use of their cannons in favor of launching a flurry of mortars from their back.
- The Dacentrus-class Exosuit is an improved retrofit of the Ceratopsid-class Exosuit. Its cannons are enhanced with a “prolonged burn” mode, allowing them to create patches of molten ground under particularly hard targets. The Ceratopsid Siege Shield employed by the Dacentrus-class is enhanced with phasing technology which reflects directed energy attacks back at their point of origin when it is struck by them – so be careful when attacking it! Additionally, to deter bold combatants who have closed in to melee range, Dacentrus units are able to unleash an electro-magnetic pulse, as well as use a rocket-assisted low-arc jump to regain positioning.
All-told, the Voth are an incredibly varied group of combatants on the ground, capable of using teamwork and ability synergies to create interesting combat scenarios. The vast majority of their mechanics are telegraphed via animations and FX, allowing astute players to react to their abilities before they finish using them. Most important of all, the moment-to-moment combat of fighting Voth is fun on both ground and space – blasting dinosaurs and mechs never felt so good.
We look forward to seeing what strategies you' will come up with when fighting Voth, and also what stories authors will tell in the Foundry using them. Stay tuned for our next blog about designing the Voth’s space combat experience, and we’ll see you in-game!
Jeff "AdjudicatorHawk" Hamilton
Star Trek Online
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