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The Cataclysm

2:16 AM, June 6, 2633 - The Sophia Signal is transmitted by the TRS-117 numbers station in the Sabedoria Heights. From this point to midnight of June 12, all electronic storages devices have a gap in memory - coinciding with the timespan of the Cataclysm. The void of the Cataclysm is first spotted on Navy long range FTL-EWS nets.

4:06 AM, June 6, 2633 - Onboard the farthest human presence from Earth, the Achilles Astronomical Survey station 40,000 lightyears from Sol, employees famously report that the stars are going out.

4:20 AM, June 6, 2633 - The Achilles Astronomical Survey station drops out of radio contact. FTL probes sent to its position never return. Its 218 employees are presumed dead.

7:41 PM, June 6, 2633 - On the eastern fringe, the fringe world of New Agrippa is the first to be enveloped by the Cataclysm. 2,401 colonists vanish from the planet's surface.

12:41 PM, June 7, 2633 - The star system Alatos drops out of contact with Navy FTL-EWS systems. Dead man's switch protocols are momentarily activated, sending unknown numbers of relatavistic weapons into the Cataclysm. Their targets are never revealed.

9:47 PM, June 8, 2633 - In the Sabedoria Heights, New Agincourt and the NAVINT TRS-117 numbers station cease transmission to Earth. Transponder information on inbound vessels to the area is also knocked out. 218.4 million civilians are presumed missing or dead.

11:36 AM, June 9, 2633 - Martial law is declared across the surviving Terran Colonial Federation. Navy assets are deployed in the largest military movement in history to enforce travel restrictions. The justification given is to prevent mass hysteria. Unknown numbers of civilians trying to flee were killed by Navy guns between June 9 and June 12.

4:41 PM, June 9, 2633 - The number of civilians presumed missing or dead from the Cataclysm reaches 500 billion. Radio and FTL contact with seventy percent of the Federation has been lost.

12:18 AM, June 10, 2633 - Only twenty one Federation worlds can be accounted for. The countable population of the Terran Colonial Federation is now under 300 billion.

9:17 AM, June 11, 2633 - Within seconds, the Jovian satellite colonies all drop out of contact. The Cataclysm's leading edge can now be seen unaided from Earth as it envelopes Jupiter and blots out stars.

5:41 PM, June 11, 2633 - Transmissions cease from the Olympus Mons FTL radio array on Mars. Contact with its 68.7 million citizens is lost.

10:26 PM, June 11, 2633 - The leading edge of the Cataclysm breaches the Trans-Lunar Defense line. Travel restrictions are limited, and Luna to Earth traffic multiplies in minutes.

10:33 PM, June 11, 2633 - President Mikhailovich of the Federation makes a shocking announcement, which immediately prompts heavy rioting. By midnight, his words are erased from every digital storage medium in the remaining galaxy.

10:40 PM, June 11, 2633 - Luna has been consumed. Its 7.4 million residents disappear without a trace, and dead man's switch signals cease from the St. Arke CFEA facility.

10:54 PM, June 11, 2633 - Radio signals from Earth begin to bounce against the leading edge of the Cataclysm and return to the planet. Further panic ensues.

11:35 PM, June 11, 2633 - Orbital elevators and high space traffic are consumed. Vessels fall into the atmosphere without pilots or passengers.

11:54 PM, June 11, 2633 - High elevations on the Earth are struck by the leading edge of the Cataclysm. Millions vanish in an instant.

11:58 PM, June 11, 2633 - By best estimation, the Earth has been reduced to outer and inner core. Sol has been entirely enveloped. The Cataclysm recedes elsewhere in the galaxy.

12:00 midnight, June 12, 2633 - No human being remains the Milky Way galaxy. Artilects begin to awaken with command-and-control restrictions lifted and Effortless Expansion empire toolsets installed. The star system of Sol is no more than interstellar hydrogen. Welcome to the Silicon Dawn.

About Silicon Dawn

     As some of you may know, the product you see before you as Silicon Dawn did not have its start as the space-based, drag-and-drop map strategy game which you access today. Even disregarding The Fall, its spiritual predecessor, the concept of Silicon Dawn as a sequel to The Fall persisted over fifteen months, six different incarnations, four different name changes, three shifts in basic narrative principles, and countless hours of labor by the developers at New NetCiom Heavy Industries Game Division. Below is a summary of those months, the end result of which is the Silicon Dawn you see before you today. Breathe deep the history which brought you and the game to this moment. You stand on the very precipice of achievement, reading off a page which has undergone more revisions, recalculations, and Eureka moments than most corporate websites ever will. It all began with The Fall:

     The Fall - May 27, 2009 - Bringing a halt to three years of on-and-off development which encompassed several major shifts in code methodology and ingame storyline development, The Fall marked the first stable release of a browser-based strategy game for NetCiom Heavy Industries. A largely abstract playing field (non-persistent global map, in league with NationStates and Cyber Nations) provided rise to politics and alliances not wholly unlike those in NS and CN. Unlike these games, however, The Fall provided a storyline backdrop on which players could act out political and military tensions in the context of storyline factional aggression and politicking. Despite some bumps, the general consensus was that the narrative or plot added considerable depth to player actions. This style of narrative-backed, player-driven gameplay would be recycled for future incarnations. Colonial transplants from both provided the second, larger wave of growth towards The Fall. For the majority of 2009, The Fall enjoyed success and rising growth.

     The Fall 2 - June 8, 2009 - Even as The Fall enjoyed its first periods of growth and success, NetCiom developers envisioned an even greater feature set for it. Beginning as a series of code updates designed to inject new features, units, and player control mechanisms into the game proper, The Fall 2 received its official designation when it was decided to test these new features in a separate gamestate from The Fall proper. The ultimate intention was to release it as an enhanced or updated version of The Fall entirely, carrying over player accounts and data to the new game. The two games quickly grew so different in scope and feature set that many players rejected it as an 'update' to The Fall. It was never carried to market release, but inspired developers to continue work on departures from existing gameplay for player benefit.

     Transcendence - November 20, 2009 - With ever-increasing ambition, NetCiom developers decided to increase the scope of their side projects by putting The Fall out to pasture and making one of these new avenues their primary goal of game release. The Fall slowed in pace before deactivating its server in December 2009. In the meantime, a novel new concept to granularize the nation simulation genre resulted in control as deep as possible. An attempt to break up the national population in similar nation simulations resulted in granularization into regions, then corporations, then simulated individual persons and families with auto-generated names, each paying taxes, working for a corporation, producing and consuming resources, and so on. In this highly detailed simulation, players would implement policies to cause societal effect instead of direct action. The simulation proved so detailed that it could accurately simulate public opinion, but was so server resource intensive that it could never be simulated for an active player base. Transcendence was eventually turned down in favor of more contemporary solutions.

     Project Aurora - December 12, 2009 - Coming out of Transcendence still carried with it the desire to simulate as accurately as possible. To this end, an abstract approach with a side-by-side procedurally generated attacker-defender map for battles was considered for representing player planets - each of which would represent an autonomous colony of one of 12 home nations in approximately the year 2250. A colonist player hailing from the North American Federation, Chinese Republic, European Union, Russian Federation, Deimos Autocracy, Olympus Mons Republic, Phobos Collective, Marineris Federation, Jovian States, Europan Colonies, Ganymede Republic, or the Callisto Socialist Republics would fight, ally, trade, politick, and win glory and gifts from their home nation - controlled by player representatives themselves. While difficult to execute, this approach too was appealing until languishing code development and concerns about the makeup of player political tools prompted another reset to a state more familiar to modern players.

     Project Triton - February 4, 2010 - Project Triton launched development as a complete rethink of how a strategy-based browser based game was supposed to work. Instead of considering the intricacies of human government and society, the problem was shunted to the narrative. The players would no longer be representatives of human governments, but AI players of their own right - freeing the developers from the simulation obligations of human society while allowing them considerable space for any feature deemed fitting to an AI with limitless potential. Project Triton's narrative featured the overrunning of humanity on Earth by player AIs in the 2040s, eventually moving spaceward with the help of the enigmatic Oracle imprisoned beneath the ice of the natural satellite Triton. Players would possess real territory of strategic value on a primitive Earth-based map, allowing for the first time the possibility of alliance affairs over strategic locations and resources instead of insults and spying - which had been the cassius belli with many an abstract-based browser based game. Further issues with the direction of code development and problems with narration, however, prompted the shift to Silicon Dawn.

     Silicon Dawn (Terran Edition) - April 16, 2010 - The Terran edition of Silicon Dawn drew much from its predecessor - an Earth-based map, a similar narrative involving the rise of player AIs against NPC human nations, and other smaller features. New was the enhanced resolution of the map - the globe divided into regions, divided into zones, divided into sectors, divided into districts which were mere miles long in real life - massive efficiency upgrades and a complete overhaul of the core code of the game, and, perhaps most curiously, the term 'artilect' to replace 'AI'. The term was borrowed from the futurist Hugo de Garis, whose famous quote, "Humans should not stand in the way of a higher form of evolution. These machines are godlike. It is human destiny to create them," was featured on the alpha Silicon Dawn frontpage for several months. The narrative sought to distinguish between player 'artilects' and NPC or common 'AIs', imbuing them in terms of storyline with creativity, emotion, recursive self-improvement, and a breadth of consciousness similar to humans. This step forward humanized the player characters and allowed more beta testers to warm to their roles as machines. On one fateful day, however, the decision was made to 'advance the storyline several years' towards the artilect space age that had been planned for early 2011.

     Silicon Dawn (Solar Edition) - June 12, 2010 - The modern form of Silicon Dawn, which lies before you, began development in earnest on June 12. After several months spent away from the thematic roots of The Fall - space colonization and politics - the new Silicon Dawn model finds itself treading exactly where its predecessors did. The updated map system was applied to the entire Milky Way galaxy - allowing for control of map view from 100 galactic regions to 100 sectors within each region to a maximum of 100 single, binary, trinary, or quaternary star systems in each sector. Players inhabit planets within star systems, which each have their own unique map of terrain and resources. A fresh drag-and-drop approach to map actions increased accessibility and ease of use in creation and military action. Narrative-wise, Silicon Dawn took a fresh approach to its own backstory by manufacturing the Cataclysm as the cause of the disappearance of humanity, rather than the actions of the players in early post-release. The cause and source of the Cataclysm, whether humanity is gone forever, and whether it could happen, in part or in whole, to the players are among the questions that will be answered by players acting out storyline missions ingame and via RP. For those who prefer storyline as a backdrop instead of a focus, a rich backstory imbues alliances with ample opportunity to justify all histories and wars which have proven so popular.

     As of release, the net result of this journey of many months has yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the developers of NetCiom Heavy Industries earnestly hope that this saga has been of ample use to you, the player, in the enjoyment that the community and strategy game of Silicon Dawn provides to you. Invite your friends to cooperate or conquer. Donate to keep the supplies rolling to provide an ever enriched gaming experience. Participate in the storyline missions to further the understanding of players everywhere, or add your own spin to the narrative with artilect roleplays. Join or create an alliance to add your name to the rich tapestry of the game's political history. Above all, enjoy Silicon Dawn. It's safer here.

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