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Interceptor is the first commercial game in the Valiant Galaxy setting by Valiant Galaxy Associates. It takes place over a thousand years in the future. At this time, the human federations of planetary colonies are at war with aliens known as the grays who have from time to time visited Earth and other worlds, experimented upon those they have abducted, and spied upon the doings of humanity.
As the human ship Rapier travels toward a new colony, it is attacked by fighters of the grays. You are a squadron leader in an interceptor wing. As always, an interceptorís primary mission is to go out, meet the enemy, and destroy them. Your fighters are to screen the Rapierís withdrawal if possible.
The alien mother ship is blanketing the sector with heavy jamming so each fighter is virtually alone in its own battle. Visual signals to wing men are chancy at best, and only careful maneuvering to pre-established rendezvous points allows fighters to meet their robotic resupply ships. The enemy forces consist of 2 types of drone fighter, 3 types of manned fighters, robotic tanker ships, command and control vessels, and a mother ship.
Interceptor is a menu driven audio game. You do not have to position a gun in a specific point to fire it; you do not have to worry about real time concerns: you only have to keep track of resources and attempt to rack up as high a score as possible. The game can be played with limited keyboarding skills, and presents two play modes:
Other games in future Valiant Galaxy Audiogames releases will be set in the same universe, use the same aliens, and take place at different points along the Valiant Galaxy timeline. There are plans for a space-based strategic game, a first person shooter, trading games, and more. If you enjoy Interceptor, you might try our free release Traders of Known Space. Good luck Interceptor Leader.
Interceptor should work on any Microsoft Windows computer that runs Windows XP or later. There are no graphics, and the game is self-voicing. The game does require an active internet connection, though you do not have to have a browser open to play.
Guidedog games (click here) is a revolutionary new service for connecting game developers to visually impaired game players. As more developers use the site, more and more games will be centrally located, and the visually impaired gaming community will have a service equivalent to Steam for sighted players. The service is operated by Dennis Towne who also operates the online mud Alter Aeon. The account system on Guidedog is fast and easy to set up, and the encryption used for account and credit card information is the same utilized by Alter Aeon.
To set up an account, click on the above link, or go to the site with your browser. Click on new account. The site will prompt you for an email address. This email address is necessary for account creation, and is used by Guidedog in confirming the account's registration as well as in providing receipts. Once the email address is entered, you are prompted to pick a user name. Once this is done, the site sends you a confirmation email. Open your email and find the message from Guidedog. If you do not have one, wait a minute or two, and try again. If there still isn't one, try your spam or junk folders just to be sure. Open the message and select the provided link. This will allow you to set your password. You are now ready to buy games and play games using the Guidedog service.
You can browse the games lists on Guidedog by genre, company, etc. Once you have picked a game, you can add that game to your shopping cart. The site prompts you for your credit card information and some personal billing information. Once all your info is added, the site processes your transaction and sends a digital receipt to your email account that is associated with your Guidedog account. It's that easy.
In the case of this and future Valiant Galaxy titles, a Guidedog account is required to play. You have to be logged in, and connected to the internet to play. Our games automatically open the log in screen for you, so you do not have to connect from a browser. When you open the game, the game prompts you to switch window focus to the Guidedog window and log in. Once this is done, the game continues operating as normal.
The main menu of the game consists of 8 items:
Most of these are self explanatory.
This opens this documentation file. This file is also accessible from inside the game by hitting f1.
Settings contains thirteen options. They are set to a default level that seems optimal for game play. You are free to change these and the game will save your preferences online in your Guidedog account (except for SAPI settings which only save to your local hard disk do to different computers not having the same SAPI voices). By saving the settings to Guidedog, the game's settings are available on any computer you log into Guidedog from. Further, if you are not connected to Guidedog, all settings will be loaded from the local hard disk (assuming they were previously saved on this computer). When you are finished adjusting settings, closing the menu as normal with escape or with the return to main menu item will save your changes. You will experience a delay in closing the settings menu if you have changed many settings from their default options as these need to be synchronized with the account server. In this way though, logging into this account again on any computer will have Interceptor reflect those settings there too except obviously the ones that do not get stored online. The options are:
Reactor volume: by using the left and right arrows you can control how loud or soft the background hum of your reactors is.
Voice over volume is set with left and right arrow like reactor volume. It controls the volume of the game's voice.
Speech File Cue Before End Delay: This setting controls how much pause occurs between speech objects in the game. Making this pause shorter makes the speech sound choppier. Making it longer makes the speech more natural. If the delay is too long speech sounds play too close together.
Announce Menu Indexes: This tells the game whether to announce items in menu with a number such as Interceptor Status 1 of 8.
Pause Before Announcing Menu Indexes: The game tells you where in the menus you are at the end of each item. This is called the menu index. So for instance, on the main menu, start game is followed by the announcement 1 of 8. This merely enables or disables a pause between the item and the menu index.
Pause Before Announcing Efficiency of Systems in Menus: This enables or disables a pause between the announcement of a systemís name and its current efficiency.
Disable keyboard hook allows a user to disengage the keyboard hook that intercepts input. Doing this might be to the user's advantage if their screen reader is asleep, or their screen reader does not intercept incoming text. Disengaging this hook may make the game unplayable by users using a screen reader, such as Jaws, which intercepts text before it reaches the game. You can re-engage the hook with the f8 keystroke. If you are unsure of this option, we recommend leaving it enabled.
Announce Missing Speech Items with SAPI: If this is enabled, the game uses SAPI to announce any information that is not pre-recorded. Otherwise, the game spells out such information with the in-game voice. It may be selected using the left and right arrows.
SAPI Voice: This item selects which installed SAPI voice to use for SAPI announcements. Again, you can use the left and right arrow to select the voice.
SAPI Volume: This adjusts the volume of SAPI speech. Left and right arrows will change the volume level.
SAPI Rate: This changes the rate at which SAPI announces information. Left and right arrow will change the speed of the synthesizer.
SAPI Pitch: This changes the pitch of the SAPI voice. Left and right arrow will change this pitch control.
Return to Main Menu: This returns you to the main menu of the game.
As you scroll through this menu, the game announces the soundís function in the game and then plays one or more variations of the sound. Note that during game play, the sound may sound louder or softer depending on how far from your ship the sound occurs.
When this choice is highlighted in the main menu it displays the gameís activation statusóeither activated or not activated. If your copy is not activated, then you will be able to play the first level, but no more. To activate the game, you must have a Guidedog Games account and be connected to the internet so that Guidedog can verify your activation.
Interceptor has a demo mode in which you may play the first level of the game. At the end of this level, the game will prompt you to log into your GuideDog Games account. If you do so, you can continue your game.
The cockpit is the nerve center of your fighter. It is where you the pilot are strapped, and where you make the second to second decisions of how to survive and make the other enemy fighters fail to survive. This system is of critical importance because damage to it provides distractions to the pilot that slow down his or her reaction times.
The reactors, port and starboard, are high quality microfusion plants. Unlike traditional fusion generators, the reactors gather their own reaction mass from the ramjetsí exhaust, however, due to the fact that this is an inefficient process, the fighter must be refueled with reaction mass periodically. The reactors fuse particles gathered into heavier elements and the energy released in this process powers the ship. When damaged, the reactors temporarily shut down and run a damage analysis to determine if restart would endanger the fighter. However, shutting down a fusion reactor is not the same as shutting off a light. Sometimes, restarting the reactors is a difficult process. If the reactors are damaged, they do not produce as much energy as quickly.
This system is what keeps you, the human pilot, alive. It consists of air chemistry controls, bodily waste elimination systems, food delivery systems for long term sentry duty, and constant monitoring of the pilotís vitals. If the life support system is destroyed, the pilot dies, often a slow and lingering death. Even damage to the life support system can be critical, however, as the pilotís abilities are impaired by improper air chemistry or other distractions.
This system controls the flow of power throughout the ship. It steps down energy from the reactors to power computer systems and other delicate pieces of electronic equipment, controls important linkages in the engines, and generally provides your power. If the electrical system is damaged, the first systems to weaken are weapons systems. The electrical system automatically diverts power from the weapons to life support and other vital systems. The electrical system is vital in keeping the reactors cooled and in restarting the reactors from battery power. If the electrical system is destroyed, the reactors cannot be started, and the ship becomes powerless.
The navigational computer helps determine your fighterís accuracy in distance moved, trajectory, and how much fuel you use reaching that point. In addition, the navigational computer acts as a homing beacon for your fighter to facilitate pickup by robotic resupply and by your mother ship. Further, the navigational computer is used in the complicated mathematics of docking with a ship. If your navigational computer is damaged, the first thing that a pilot will notice is that the normal small amount of error in any move's distance begins increasing. This can be devastating if you are low on energy. Besides its function as a navigational aid, the navigational computer operates as the central processing unit for the shipís systems and allows them to communicate with each other effectively. If destroyed, the navigational computerís critical secondary function is taken away, and the fighter soon becomes ineffective.
The targeting computer helps the accuracy of all weapons. Without it, the weapon's blasts become less tightly focused: spreading out, inflicting less damage, and losing range. The targeting computer controls the interceptorís ability to deliver precise weapon strikes against alien systems. Rather than blasting away at random with a weapon, the targeting computer, in conjunction with the scanner (see below), allows the pilot to target only critical systems.
The deflector is a shield of highly polished crystaline mirror-like alloy that is used in deflecting energy weapons. The deflector is built to withstand energy weapons and discipate their force. When it is in good condition it also protects the systems of your ship.
This is the other half of your interceptorís defense. The point defense system is a rotating set of laser weapons, powered by a separate battery and circuit so that it may operate independantly of interceptorís power supply. The power supply has only enough power for forty blasts. However, the point defense targets incoming rockets. The system is computer controlled and automatically operates if it has power to do so.
Besides communicating with the mother ship, your fighter wing, and even intercepting occasional messages from the enemy, the communications system aids in docking with the robotic resupply ship. If damaged, this system may not allow you enough time to refuel fully, or you may even miss your rendezvous.
The scanner allows you to see not only what has been done to the alien ship during the game, but allows you to scan him at any time. Further, scanners are important in the use of the computer assisted shot functions of the targeting computer.
This system prevents improper levels of waste materials in the reactors, cockpit, or life support systems. If the waste disposal system is damaged, harmful materials begin building up quickly and can destroy an unwary pilot.
Though the interceptor has peroxide rockets for lateral correction, its main thrust comes from ramjets set port and starboard. These jets are closed or opened at either end to produce forward or reverse thrust allowing the ship to accelerate or decelerate as the case may be. As the engines become damaged, the fighter's maneuverability is impaired, making it less likely that the fighter will be able to outperform enemy fighters. If this happens, aliens may be able to get in more attacks against your fighter than you can get against them--a most undesirable state of affairs.
The rocket pods are the first of the weapons systems. There are two of these, again port and starboard. Each pod is a cylindrical drum holding three rockets. The drum rotates to bring a new rocket into firing position. When the rocket is launched, compressed air in the firing chamber is released, the rocket is propelled away from the interceptor, and the rocket then lights its own engine and acquires its target. The rocket arms after 10,000 meters of flight and has an effective range of 80,000 meters although rockets have been known to strike unlucky targets beyond this range. Rockets inflict damage on multiple systems at once, and can be very deadly. They use hardly any energy since they are self-contained and have their own power plants. The only energy expended by their fighter is the energy needed to launch them. When the fighter docks with the robotic resupply ship, rocket tenders slide into place, rotate the drum, and refill it with new rockets then slide back into their locked positions.
The particle beam is the first of the energy weapons. The particle beam is a stream of high acceleration alpha particles coupled with an intense beam of laser light. The combination of the burning laser and the high impact of the particles combine to melt and/or twist metal, skin, or other materials it comes in contact with. The particle beam does not use as much energy as the nutrino cannon, but has a much longer range being effective even up to fifty thousand meters.
This powerful weapon is one of the foremost new weapon technologies in use by the human federations. The cannon spews forth a stream of high acceleration nutrinos. The nutrinos, tiny sub-atomic particles strike the target at the sub-atomic level and begin tiny nuclear reactions. This process often results in structural flaws, weakness, or even in some cases disintegration as low grade fision or fusion occurs. The nutrino cannon uses much more energy than the particle beam and has a much shorter range often failing to hit targets beyond twenty-five thousand meters.
This robot is capable of repairing any nondestroyed system on the ship. It has tiny service robots that it directs to areas it itself cannot reach. The engineering droid is very important: if damaged, it does not perform as efficiently, and if destroyed it can spell doom for the pilot of its fighter. The engineering droid cannot repair itself however.
There are six critical systems on any interceptor fighter:
If any of these systems are destroyed (both of the reactors must be destroyed to accomplish this) the fighter is disabled and considered destroyed. These same systems may be targeted upon enemy fighters to do unto them before they do unto you.
The interceptor game is organized into levels. On each level you face a number of enemy vessels. At the end of odd numbered levels you are refueled to your full compliment of energy: one thousand units. If your communications system is damaged, then you may miss out on part or all of this refueling.
On even numbered levels you have a chance to replace one or more systems. At lower levels you are allowed to replace only one system, but at higher levels two, and even three, systems are replaced. For each system replacement you forgo, you receive bonus points. This can be done by choosing the finished replacing systems option at the bottom of the replacement menu.
Finally, your ship is, on even numbered levels, rearmed. You are loaded with six rockets and your point defenseís battery pack is switched out giving you forty shots.
The following is a list of hot keys that can be used at any time in the interceptor game. Note that interrupting speech with the hot key control will interrupt all incoming speech until the menu focus is changed. Hitting any other hot key will cause the game to announce the information as soon as the game can do so. It generally will not interupt speech to do so, so you might have to wait a second for the info.
This menu consists of the following items:
Some of these options are fairly self explanatory while others need more in depth coverage. If key components are destroyed, items associated with them will disappear from the menu. Example: if you lose your scanner, the scan enemy vessel option is unavailable. In addition, some options not listed above appear when certain conditions are met in the game. These are Emergency System Replacement and Break Off Pursuit. Both are discussed below.
Interceptor Status: This presents a menu showing your current energy level and the efficiency of each system on your ship. If this option is highlighted on the combat menu, a brief damage report is given after the announcement of Interceptor Status.
Attack Menu: As with the combat menu, when weapon systems or related items are destroyed, menu options are taken away. Example: if your particle beam is destroyed, all particle beam related options disappear. Example 2: If targeting computer or scanner get destroyed, the computer assisted versions of energy weapons are unavailable. Example 3: If your engines are destroyed, obviously, ramming is right out. This menu contains 8 items:
The first four of these fire the appropriate weapon at the enemy. The computer assisted options for the energy weapons only operate if the weapon itself, the targeting computer, and the scanner are all somewhat functional. Ram moves your ship to collide with the enemy. It is included as a desperation tactic for when all weapons systems are destroyed or exhausted. A ram does about as much damage as a rocket attack to both your fighter and the alien fighter. It is therefore only recommended in extremely desperate situations.
Scan Enemy Vessel: If successful, you receive a menu similar to interceptor status menu, but showing the enemy fighterís energy levels and the condition of its systems.
Vessel Movement: There are four entries on this menu:
Current distance shows the current distance and the current energy level of your ship. If you wish to approach or retreat you can arrow down to the appropriate option and either hit enter and enter a distance between 5,000 and 100,000 meters, or you can hold down the right arrow and scroll to the appropriate increment of 5,000 meters and then hit enter. Either will take the ship the distance that you designate with a bit of error due to navigational error and the movements of the enemy vessel.
Repair Menu: If successful, you are taken to a menu that displays all damaged systems on your fighter. Hitting enter on the appropriate system causes it to be repaired. A damaged engineering droid will not repair as fully as an intact one. If the droid is too badly damaged, it is notorious for causing errors, resulting in your shipboard computers reading out a string of zeros and ones. Needless to say, this usually results in no repair.
Emergency System Replacement This menu option only appears after the interceptor has received twenty-five thousand points. If selected it subtracts twenty-five thousand points from the player's score and allows them to break off combat with the current fighter and replace one system. The fighter is skipped, and the player goes on to finish the level. A new fighter is added to the next level.
Break Off Pursuit This option appears only if the alien fighter's distance to the interceptor increases to two hundred and fifty thousand meters or more. If you wish you can break off pursuit and allow that fighter to escape. You skip that fighter and move on to the next. An additional fighter is added to the next level.
Game Status This item displays a shortened form of the final screen to give you an idea of how well you are doing. For more information, you may hit enter and scroll through the information.
Complete Turn: This option tells the computer you have no further actions. It is useful when you wish to do nothing and allow energy to regenerate from your reactors.
Damage to one or all of these systems could spell doom for you.
The following list of droid responses are provided for people who have trouble understanding the ship's onboard computer.
The grays are a race of aliens. They were known on old Earth as far back as the 20th century in the lore of UFO abductions. The grays stand approximately 130-150 centimeters tall. Their eyes are disproportionately large, and some xenobiologists believe that they dwell on a planet that is far from its star. The graysí heads are also large in proportion to their bodies. They prefer curves and wide angles in architecture and engineering when possible, and it is thought that many flying saucer reports are of gray ships.
The gray is otherwise human-like: two small ears, a nose, a mouth, two arms, two legs. Their hands are fine-boned and long and have three fingers and a thumb. They are completely hairless, and some believe that their metabolism is very fast. Some reports, at any rate, mention frequent eating or drinking.
The grays are masters of technology and some report that they also have mastered extrasensory powers such as telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, and more exotic disciplines. They have been known by other races, most notably the svrak and the khrol. In all cases, they have appeared to spy on a race at first, then later abduct and experiment upon its members. Many have suspected that the grays have sinister plans. Their sudden surprise attacks on the Solarian Confederation in the years between 3050 and 3053 seem to support this view. Since then the war has spread and engulfed the Interstellar Union as well as Yungdun, Khrol, and Oloi space.
The enemy fighters are designated by Greek letter codes.Epsilon: These drone fighters are piloted from a command and control ship, or alternatively, by an alien mother ship. They do not have the full range of systems that your interceptor has, and are often the easiest to destroy.
In addition to fighters, you may encounter targets of opportunity. A brief description of the more common types follows:Tanker: This robotic ship is the equivalent to our robotic resupply ships. They are single engine drone ships built on an epsilon chassy. However, instead of the weapons systems of an epsilon, they carry a storage tank and fuel transfer system. They will evade destruction and will run for it at the first opportunity. These vessels carry a large amount of reactor mass. Their destruction can cause damage to ships that are too near them.
This age saw the rise of computers, the internet (a primitive forerunner of the infonet), robotics, virtual reality, and other common technologies. This era also first saw the use of fission and later fusion weapons. As the era progressed, technology advanced and computers became smaller, virtual reality improved, robots became more sophisticated, and cybernetic prosthetics began to make inroads in medical technology. The advances in the biological sciences led to stem cell generated organs and to large scale cloning of food plants, domestic animals, and toward the end of the period, human beings. The age saw increased competition for limited resources: petroleum, coal, and fresh water. Social unrest caused by resource competition led to terrorism and wars for control of resource rich regions.
At the dawn of the fusion age, fusion reactors were made feasible. Further, better control mechanisms for regulating nuclear reactions made nuclear power safer and more attractive to governments that could afford it. Also at the beginning of the era, human cloning became a reality. To help combat the societal unrest and threats to human safety that this technology created, the existing forms of world government such as the United Nations, World Health Organization, International Monitary Fund, etc, were strengthened to form an actual world government. Among the first actions of this government was the formation of laws against the rights of artificial people and limitations placed on the use of cloning technology. With the formation of a world government, the need for new sources of necessary minerals etc forced the government to fully fund space exploration. However, the international, now multinational, megacorporations had already funded space travel. Governmental and commercial interests fought for control of the Earthís solar system. However, this competition led to the exploration and exploitation of Earthís orbit, Luna, Mars, Mercury, and the upper atmosphere of Venus.
At the beginning of this period, the miniaturization of computers reaches the goal of computer designers and nanocomps are born. With this advance, the virtual reality net known commercially as the Infonet forms. Corporations, now reigned in by the Earthgov, begin exploiting the asteroid belt and the first long haul colonization attempts are made to the Jovian moons. Ganymede is colonized as is Calisto, but the Europa colony is lost. Near the middle of the period Johann Eschelmann discovers the physical warping effects of subatomic space on macrospace. Using this knowledge in 2580, Jean Rene Montclerc develops the Montclerc drive which makes interstellar travel possible. The Montclerc drive arrives just in time. Other scientists had managed to miniaturize fusion cells to the point of making energy weapons feasible, and warfare on Earth and in the inner planets had suddenly become a terrible reality. The race, in a desperate attempt to avoid racial suicide expands outwards, first to the outer planets of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, and Proserpina, but also begin exploring the nearest stars likely to have Earth-like planets. The first interstellar colonies are established. The race expands, but communications are still limited to the planetary level. Reliable interplanetary communication is slow and no form of communication can bridge the stars.
During this time the Terran colonies are consolidated, new colonies are established, and older ones are absorbed. Humans split into the Solarian Federation of planets (more commonly called the Solarian Confederation or the Federation) associated closely with old Earth and the Interstellar Union formed from colonies opposed to old Earthís domination of interstellar trade and politics. . Communications are still slow, but it is now possible to send messages to interstellar destinations. Cybernetic enhancement and genetic manipulation have become commonplace for those who can afford it, and robotic gladiator arenas begin developing.
The First interstellar wars take place between the IU and the SF. After bitter battles, some that occur after the final peace negotiations are made, the hostilities end in a Solarian victory. The time is wild with pirates, new illegal colonies, and rampant civil disobedience. Robotic gladiators, known as battle droids, gladbots, or combat entertainment droids, become commonplace and a source of entertainment. Miniaturization of fusion cells continues, and hand-held particle beams become more widespread. Trade expands, as does smuggling due to the expansion of the black market caused by widespread shortages.
The first generation of this period is spent in quelling pirates and smugglers. The Solarian Patrol ships create a lasting peace. During this time humans make first contact. There is a time of peace for the most part, and the old planets of the IU gather their strength. Near the end of this age they agitate for self government. The aliens are mostly peaceful: svrak, yungduns, and khrol. But the humans first encounter the oloi and later the grays. A brief war with the oloi ends in a negotiated peace. There are advances in all technologies from contacts with other races. Svrak are able to design microcircuitry of immense subtlety and the khrol can create faster and more efficient nanocomps. Yungdun regenerative technology holds out the promise of long life treatments for humans, and the grays demonstrate how human DNA can be manipulated to increase incidence of psionic wild talents.
The grays attack humans suddenly, rapidly, at many points, and with no warning. Many human ships and Solarian patrol vessels are destroyed before the human federations are even aware that hostilities are commenced. An age of warfare begins. At first the IU is neutral and the SF and its allies among the svrak and khrol fight the grays. However, when the grays invade IU space, the oloi begin trying to take advantage of the situation.
If you liked Interceptor, try our free game Traders of Known Space. It is set at the same time period as Interceptor. If you'd like to try something different from VGA, check out Yellowbonnet, a Wild West mini-game. More information on both games, as well as demos, can be found at our web site
Primary coding was done by Aaron Speares with some minor code work done by Jeremy Brown. Likewise, most of the creative design was constructed by Jeremy Brown with a lot of objections and suggestions by Aaron Speares. The voice of Valiant Galaxy Associates' applications is Aaron Spears with ample criticism from all of the beta testing team. He can't help the accent--they live way out thar in the country! Documentation was written by Jeremy Brown with objections and useful input from Aaron Speares. Further, in regards the documentation, our thanks go to Michael Taboada and Rich Maroney for important typo and html checks.
Valiant Galaxy Associates would like to thank the following people:First and foremost, Philip Bennefall, creator of BGT (Blastbay Game Toolkit). This powerful scripting language is what makes the Valiant Galaxy come alive. Philip kindly made changes we needed to his latest version of BGT available at Blastbay Studio's web site Blast Bay Studio
Dennis "Dentin" Towne, creator of the mud Alter Aeon, for his advice and coding expertise. A lot of this would have looked quite different without his input. He also kindly put Guidedog games at our disposal.
Our beta testing team:
Our beta testers have suffered through numerous setbacks and changes to the game. Their competitiveness and thoughtful comments have made the game much more enjoyable. Thank you all, you have been a great help and we valued your feedback and patience.
We'd also like to thank the good folks of the AudioGames.net forums who not only got excited about Interceptor before it was even officially announced but offered suggestions and feedback with little more than a sketch of the game's design. Your excitement has been gratifying and we hope that the final product delivers on the promises made.