This is a introduction on all you need to know on the various ways you will be able to carve out your little niche in our universe. This is something of an umbrella page, in case you're too lazy to go look about the other pages on certain things, as well as an introduction to topics not mentioned in the databases.
Never mind the big words I tend to use, that's what google is for.
Creating an Empire: Race
Well, the first thing you'll need to do is have a race to carve that niche with, eh?
Obviously, you can't start out with a god race ruling over an empire of a thousand systems right off the bat. You need to actually put thought into who and what your race is, what they do, what they specialize in, and their weaknesses and quirks.
After you've got a profile down, if you can, look for an image that fits your description, or go reverse. Just make sure that race and look isn't already taken! The only "open profile" race that can be taken by multiple players at the moment is Humanity, though thanks to being spread across different planets of all kinds and colors, there's no such thing as a 'normal' human anymore.
Also, it would be nice, though it's not needed, to have a history for your race, a back story on how they came to be. However, that's just me nitpicking, so do what you will.
Creating an Empire: Government and Social Characteristics
This is an easy one, relatively. Now that you have your race, you'll need to have a government to rule over them with, won't you? You can't control an empire in anarchy. Luckily for you, there are many governments to lead your people with, be it monarchy, republic, or a socialist union, among others.
After that is done, you have to think of how your people act, how their culture is. You can't have a utopia completely devoid of conflict and want, but you can come pretty close. Throw one or two free radicals into the mix to give your culture some flavor.
Creating an Empire: Home, Sweet Home
You will need a homeworld. Even if your race is a herd of space migrants, everything comes from somewhere, and life doesn't evolve in the depths of space it evolves on a planet.
Go on, take your pick. It could be a green garden world, it could be a tropical death world that's home to giant, tank sized, man eating scorpions that shoot acid that can eat through steel in seconds from their tail, or it could be Hoth. There are so many choices to have a pick on, you have no excuse(NONE!) to shrug your shoulders and ask for someone's advice on this.
However, there are basic requirements for a homeworld. One is liquid water. The other is life.
Creating an Empire: Infrastructure
What, you thought claiming a world is all you needed to do in order to start? Bah! Foolish Fool!
You can't expect a space age civilization to live in mud huts and live on grass! You'll need homes, tenements, apartments, and whatever else you need to house the citizens of your budding empire. Not only that, but you'll need farms to create food for them to eat! Otherwise, they'll start eating each other( and if I find out that you aren't feeding your citizens, I will arrange for that to happen). Next, you'll need a source of electricity, to power your thangamajiggers while they beep and whistle and light up in funny colors! So you will need a powerplant or few!
You will need mines, and factories, to make your stuff! You can't make space ships without metal and trinkets, after all. Make a few factories, get them smokestacks pumping!
Finally, you may or may not decide to put a military base. I suggest putting something that shows some sort of military presence in your city, as to make it look defended.
Creating an Empire: Colonization
Ah, we're finally moving out, ready to go into the wild blue yonder... wait, what's that? We need to meet certain conditions in order to feasably suport a budding population of ExampleRacians on ExamplePlanet? Blast it all!
YES! You need to do things before you can do more things somewhere else. One of these is, obviously, a colony ship! Next is people! You will need sufficient technology to make a safe, practical colony ship for those thousands of folks trying to make a living somewhere else. You need a way to get people to that colony, be it a giant slingshot in space, or a warp drive. No using generational, slower-than-light ships here, sorry.
You will need to stock that sonuvva with food and water and materials to start your colony, as well as enough people to create a self sustaining population. Then, you will need to keep a military presence on and/or around that ship, to defend against pirates and keep the peace.
Finally, you will need to pick a world.
Creating an Empire: Military
Your people will need a strong arm, a shield against the blackness of space! I don't CARE if your people are a utopian society of sentient ponies, because it is a GUARANTEE that someone will not like you. You will need guns and people to hold those guns in order to prevent your race from becoming another leaf in the long, tattered book that is history.
You will need to design starships. That is a requirement to be in SAP. Read that again, if you will. You will need to design and build your own starships. No, we will not be using these models in battles, the goings on are strictly RP, but we'll need showcase pieces so that we know just what your space thingies look like. There's no taking a shortcut and taking an image off of Google or Bing from this, you will need to make your own starships. You can take INFLUENCES from various things, but you can't directly copy on this. Sorry, friend.
Military: Weapons (Warning: Science ahead) (Warning: It's huge!)
This next passage is on what makes weapons work how. With both energy AND kinetic weps, you have leeway in what you can do with it. There's a modern variation of bullets known as a 'hollow point' round, which is made of lead, has a hole in the tip, and mushrooms, or flattens, on impact, many times shattering even, making it devastating against dudes without armor. Armor Piercing rounds are sharp and smallish, able to cut through steel.
One could easily do that with Magnetic Acceleration weapons. In the series Mass Effect, even the ship's rounds are specialty made, constructed to shatter on impact in order to transfer as much force into the target as possible. In Halo, UNSC MAC rounds are incredibly dense, and have incredible penetration. They have to, in order to cut through covenant ship plating, unlike Mass Effect ships, which generally use layered composites. MAC rounds pierce using a combination of sheer mass, speed (though comparatively slow to Mass Effect weapons and plasma projectors), shape, and (late war) likely a sort of ablative coating to cut through shields. MAC rounds are made of a mix of high density and magnetic materials and are in the shape of a missile, with a rounded, plateau'ed tip and a cylindrical body. The smallest ones measure a little short of eight meters, and are made of either ferric-tungsten, ( magnetic tungsten, which is an extremely high density metal), or depleted uranium, the latter likely having threads of magnetic metals lined through it. There are sources that say some MAC rounds use Osmium, which is a metal with one of the highest recorded densities (weight-to-volume) ever, but this is unconfirmed. Mass Effect rounds are shaped like bullets, likely hollow point rounds, as they are most efficient in energy transfer. They pulverize, as opposed to a MAC gun's piercing through.Also, Mass Effect ship rounds, are incredibly small,with even the dreadnaught rounds being a little over 2/3 a meter long and only a few kilograms in weight. Comparatively, MAC rounds are massive, with even the smallest weighing in at 200 tons, and being, as mentioned, almost eight meters long.
However, the drawback for this increase in slugging power is that it will be slower, both in velocity and fire rate. Remember that so you don't go overboard; A Mass Effect, Everest Class Dreadnaught can fire a twenty kilo slug to 1.3% the speed of light every five seconds. That's pretty impressive, and the impact is massive. A UNSC Marathon class Heavy Cruiser, which is roughly the same size as the Everest, though heavier (It's hull is made of several meters of solid titanium plate, as opposed to the Everest's ablative composite layers), packs two MAC guns, each able to fire a 600 ton slug to 0.0001% light speed. That may not sound impressive, but that's where the weight comes to play.
A good comparison would be this: The Everest is a slim, wily man who's quick with his hands and feet, and knows just where to strike, and can strike often, able to hit you before you react, leaving you bruised blue before you know what happened. The Marathon is a large brute with fists the size of your head. He's slow, and you can easily see him coming, but if he hits you, you're going to go down rather quick. This man has two hands. Both systems have their advantages and trade offs. From what I understand, both ships pack about the same force behind each shot, with the Marathon packing a little less kinetic force in exchange for more piercing power, and vice versa for the Everest.
With energy weapons, the deciding factor, much like with ballistic weapons, is the shape of the projectile. Also, the stability of the magnetic field holding the energy together comes into account. If you want to pierce something, or cut it apart, you need a strong, compressed field to reach far and hard. Covenant energy projectors fire columns of plasma ranging in thickness from a flagpole to a pencil, for area bombardment and cutting apart ships. The latter form can apparently reach for over a million kilometers. For pulses or projectiles of energy, it's much the same. If you want to cut through something, you need to have the magnetic field and projectile strong and compressed, respectively. For area effect bolts, you would need an unstable magnetic field, and the size will depend on how much material you've vaporized for the energy pulse is inside the field. Generally, a moderate amount of material compressed to a small space makes a larger explosion than a moderate amount of material in a large projectile. Also, I'd suggest using plasma for area effect rounds, rather than beam or lasers. The dealie with all matter is that molecules 'bounce' off of each other on impact. As you go higher up the state of matter chart, that happens with more intensity. Air is the most common extreme, but plasma puts the dial on eleven with it. It's how nukes get their heat, material is converted to plasma on detonation due to the chain reaction that sets off the fissile or fussile reaction that in turn creates enough heat to turn the reactants into plasma, which rapidly expands with magnificent force.
When anything impacts with anything fast enough, there's a shockwave from displaced air and the like. Any high energy reaction, such as an explosion( which isn't necessarily from a bomb), displaces air and creates a small vacuum around the epicenter of the explosion. Thunderbolts do this due to the heat exciting the atoms and molecules around the column of plasma and electricity, flinging them away at high speeds, giving it that deafening 'boom' as the air molecules rush back to their original place and smash into other molecules. Nukes do this way stronger, with the explosion creating enough heat to basically ignite a temporary sun(literally with hydrogen bombs), and creating a shockwave that pushes everything down and away for what is often several kilometers, and a vacuum for hundreds of meters away from the explosion in every direction, then the air rushes back and crushes anything in the vacuum zone even more than it was on the first shockwave in a less severe but still devastating motion that basically flattens whatever might have survived the first boom. After that, the wall of air meets itself in the middle, and explodes again when all that air bounces off of itself once more. Underwater explosions do the same thing. An explosion occurs, creating vapor that expands until the surrounding water pressure overpowers the internal air pressure, collapses, the pressure makes the air inside ignite explode, expand outward, collapse, ignite, explode, so on and so forth, until all thermal and kinetic energy is expended and the air dissolves into the water.
I've digressed on my original point, however relevant the above paragraphs about nuclear explosions may be.
A huge, HUUUUGE problem in space battles is heat. HEAT. There's no air in space to vent the heat into, and if your ship gets too hot it will melt, explode, or melt AND explode. This is a major thing in the comparisons between the Everest and the Marathon, and I'm bringing them back because they are relevant to this topic. In Halo, the humanity, and the galaxy as a whole, as not backed itself into a technological closet. Early on, MAC weapons gave the problem of heat. That's the case with any weapon, but in particular any weapon that uses electricity, be it railguns, coilguns, helical railguns, plasma weapons, particle cannons, lasers, so on. The UNSC, and the Covenant, have had centuries of experience dealing with incredibly massive heat management issues, with the Covenant going on several thousand. Both Mageto-kinetic weapons and energy weapons generate enormous amounts of heat. To combat this, both civilizations no doubt created incrediby efficient cooling systems. In particular, Humanity had to deal with this issue in their MAC weapons, because moving any large mass generates energy, which translates to heat, in particular powered methods of movement. This is likely why the United Nations Space Command doesn't use railguns, because as it is, gigantic coilguns, where the projectile doesn't even come in contact with the magnetic rails, produce great waves of heat. Railgun rails are constantly in contact with the projectile until it leaves the barrel(think of pressing your hands together with your knees and rubbing them together really hard). To combat this issue, humanity developed super efficient cooling systems, so as not to explode their ships after melting them. It helps that MAC capacitors take a few minutes to charge up. These factors greatly increase their endurance in space warfare, extending the battles for what could potentially be hours and hours on end( The only reason the space battles last just a few hours during the Great War is that Covenant ships could smite almost any UNSC ship with impunity if it had an energy projector)
Mass Effect vessels never ran into the issue of gigantic masses of metal being flung into the great beyond. Instead, they are slinging at best twenty to twenty five kilos of fragmented, dense projectiles at opposing vessels. This is much easier to manage( think of trying to sling a rock the size of your head into a lake, then picking up a palm sized rock and skipping it), and much less heat to deal with. What do militaires naturally do with smaller projectiles? They increase the firing rate of said projectile. This increases heat generated, though the only problem is that they can't seem to get the cooling aspect down, and instead, in an admittedly genius move, redirect it to high-specific heat ceramic strips along the outside of the hull, and large, high efficiency heat sinks. Now, I don't know why ME navies can't seem to get cooling down pat like Halo navies, though it might just be the parent companies operating on different perspectives of space combat and the like, but this heat issue is a major blow to endurance. At best, a Mass Effect space battle will last half a day, more if you push it and regularly rotate vessels in and out of battle to vent their heat somewhere. The heat issue might also be that Element Zero produces crazy heat when subjected to electrical current, or it may even be simple construction.
I know you children are wanting an end to my comparisons between two rival universes, and as much as I love one universe, I'll have to give it to the one most hate to win.The Marathon would win. I'll explain. It's actually kind of complicated. It all depends on what weapons one would use, and distance of engagement. The Everest has superior range and speed, which it would need to use if it doesn't want to get torn to shreds by the Marathon. At current UNSC tech, Marathons are outfitted with pulse weapons, secondary railguns, high powered shields, two MAC's, and very, very large amounts of missiles( You can pack a LOT of missile pods into 1.1 kilometers). This is a slugger ship. It's meant to kill whatever gets in close enough to be subjected to it's terrible wrath. The Everest is a sniper. Two thirds of the ship's length is taken up by its main gun, and for secondaries has smaller mass accelerators(not to be confused with MAC weapons, Mass Accelerators use Element Zero for a main accelerant, along with a few magnetic rails lined with the stuff) along the sides like an old Ship of the Line, and GARDIAN turrets, which are really big lasers, with short range. The Everest runs on a high efficiency fusion reactor, possibly two, to power a large ball of E-0 and kinetic barriers( which only block solid objects, with marginal protection against plasma and particle beams, where the particles themselves are stopped but the heat and radiation get through) strong enough to withstand a few volleys of MAC II fire. The Everest can take advantage of its' higher rate of fire and superior shot velocity to take shots at the Marathon before it can react well. The Marathon is tough enough to shake these off, and can try and close in, but the Everest's light mass compared to the big M, along with the game breaking E-0 core, which can change its' mass even more, allows it to move faster than the Marathon, quicker. The Marathon has larger, more powerful engines, but its' slow to accelerate. The Everest would whittle the Marathon down to its' armor, then try to take shots at vital places while keeping away from the Marathon. If it focuses fire on places like the engines or lesser armored places, it might cripple the Marathon, but it still has to contend with the missiles (which are armored and guided by an AI), and the recurring problem of Heat. Sure, the Marathon's been slugging too, firing away, but at best the inner temperature has been raised by a few degrees. Lets say the battle's been going on for three or four hours. It's gettin a little warm in the Everest. Six hours? A bit toasty, like someone accidentally jacked up the heater a few degrees. The Everest has to cut through almost two meters (over six feet) of solid titanium. Not even ordinary titanium, either, but a sort of super titanium that's been artificially reinforced on a molecular level, probably doubling or tripling the strength compared to the normal metal, which is rediculously strong as is. If the shields on the Everest go down, which by now the missiles likely have done so, then all it will take is ONE volley with the MAC gun to tear the poor vessel in half. Remember, the Marathon was made originally to take on other mobile fortresses like itself. Its' gun was created, to cut through similar armor as its' own, and then improved to take on the covenant, which left the UNSC's armor in the dust( Reputably, an Archer missile, which is a low powered, directed nuke, could gut a UNSC frigate with one hit. Volleys of archers would pockmark Covenant vessels, but almost never destroy them, and as such they were used as distractions). ME's humanity is centuries behind both Halo civs, especially after Humanity started poking at forerunner tech. Pre-war Marathons would lose to Everests though, if only because the weapons couldn't keep up with the ship. The armor would still be a pain. If the Everest could vent heat regularly, it would definitely win, but when dealing with seemingly any humanity outside Mass Effect, it almost always turns into an endurance battle, and that's something the Systems Alliance just can't top. Wait! Some may say, "what about disruptor torpedoes" you ask. You'd have to launch both a scrambler program AND a swarm of lesser missiles, or a volley of DT's, to get even a few through. That's how it works in ME as well, and the UNSC has point defences dialed to 10 at least, with the SA being 8 or 9. A Disruptor Torpedo would definitely do some major damage, but once again, to do that the Everest would have to get close, knife fighting range, where it would be within the range of the Marathon's secondaries, which would chew the ship up before it could launch the disruptors.
The comparison isn't because I favor one universe over another, I dearly love both, but I felt that the scenario was relevant to the topic of weapon and ship construction, and not just me saying one universe is better than another. It all depends on circumstances, but in a straight up fight, no smart AI's involved, and no allies, a Marathon would simply be able to outlast the Everest. It might not destroy the vessel, but it would certainly make it retreat to cool off. Remember: The only reason the Everest would lose is endurance. If the Dreadnaught could deal with heat for just a few hours more, the Marathon would be toast, but Eezo seems to be the straw that breaks the camel's back with its' heat generation. Nutshell: Projectile shape and makeup is going to affect how strong your weapon is going to be. Heat will hamstring long space battles, and different armors are good against different things. Different weapons have different benefits, and if you don't agree with my explanation, I'll destroy your homeworld with my Super-Laser(makes quotation marks with fingers)