Hello! I’m the one woman (for now! All contributions welcome) contributor behind the new mod that you’ve doubtless seen in the list.
A Brief History
Dark Skies actually started off as a dark fantasy conversion mod called ‘Darker Days’ (that may one day see the light of day) but I ran into some trouble with the sheer scope of such a project and ceased development until there are cleaner way to blacklist like a million jobs and items. After moping about the forums for a while, I noticed that there was a little discussion about how it would be cool if there was an XCOM-like mod, and I grabbed the idea and ran with it.
My biggest inspiration is probably from XCOM 2 and its tale of a small band of survivors going on to take on a much larger organized threat, but I also take points from other ‘alien occupation’ media like Half Life 2, Falling Skies, War of the Worlds, and more.
What’s before you now is a proof of concept: not only about the rough idea of Dark Skies, but also a testament that such a mod is possible! I hope that Dark Skies inspires fledgling modders and provides a point of reference for their own projects.
Most content so far is a showcase of my general vision and likely will change version-to-version as I work to make Dark Skies a unique experience. As with anything in an open source project, your contribution or additions are greatly appreciated!
At its core, Dark Skies is a struggle to survive against overbearing odds and finding ways to outwit your enemy (so, not unlike vanilla, just with a twist). Your primary enemy will be the aliens, informally known as the “New Order” after a worldwide broadcast where they mentioned the term, though you may never truly see the masterminds - just their creations.
Many buildings were outright destroyed by carpet bombing, intense street fighting, and looters. The towns are filled with Strays, those unlucky enough to be caught in the middle of a fight and horribly mutated into shadows of their former selves. They are not undead but not quite living either, kept moving by their own runaway biology. They are numerous and don’t have much HP, but they are competent enough fighters to make attempting to take them head on is a losing move for most people. Basically, they provide a somewhat familiar enemy that will ease you into the world.
Other than them, the Order makes a small debut in the parks (areas close to cities that are clear enough to drop in), cleaning up their own mess for who knows what purpose. These units will be unlikely to stay as they are, but are included to give you an idea of the general theme of the Order - alien religion worshiping a marriage of biology and technology. Soon, they will not appear at all on the first days and begin to gradually filter in as the Order moves to carve out spaces for themselves, eventually becoming the dominant enemy after the player at least has resources to self-sustain and think up a plan to bring the fight to them.
Stray rebalancing. Strays will go through a cycle of evolution not unlike a smaller version of vanilla before the Order arrives to clean them up. They’ll also get a slight refluff to emphasize that they are becoming one with the ‘new’ biosphere that’s evolving on Earth, starting as mostly human and turning into something… else.
Order rebalancing. They get a major refluff to emphasize that they’re all creepy biotech cyborgs of things conquered by the masterminds of the Order. Consecrators have their flamethrower attack replaced by a spell that doesn’t spawn fire to ease CPU load. Many more units get “gun” spells so they don’t shoot each other in the back but still represent a ranged threat, befitting of this sort of media. Cataclysm obviously doesn’t support “squad based tactics” because zombies don’t, but I’ll do my best to present at least a somewhat organized enemy.
Initial framework for a crafting system. Alien tech is generally bio-coded to only activate in the hands of said aliens, but that doesn’t stop the crafty survivor from taking it apart and finding new ways to use it!
Order strongpoints. Places that spawn more personnel and house something interesting to a rebel or survivor: a VIP, experimental technology, base coordinates, etc.
NPCs. Most alien invasion media revolves around groups of plucky rebels facing off against their enemy and Dark Skies will be no different. Like XCOM 2 there will be a few NPC factions to pick from to align with, each with their own philosophy and way of doing things. There will also be several “RP traits” that have no mechanical benefit other than a bit of dialogue, to help give your character a sense of place as being someone who just survived the apocalypse alongside others. The only limits on what does or doesn’t make sense are these are the ones you set for yourself.
Dungeons. Naturally, alien strongholds will be a late-game target for the inspired survivor to whet their teeth on. Already they occupy military installations, but things will ramp up on their own turf.
New aliens. The Order seems to have dragged in several alien creatures, gene-modded to survive Earth’s biosphere. Some aren’t even hostile! Stay out of the sewers.