When humanity first sent probes into the great black deep of space, it expected nothing but barren rock and ice among the worlds of the solar system. With the discovery of liquid water oceans beneath the desolate, frigid crusts of many of the solar systems moons and asteroids, however, all of that changed. Signs of bacteria and microscopic exophile organisms, while hardly the alien life many might have wanted to discover, still shook the foundations of both religious and philosophic thought.
When the great burrowing machines plunged into the almost unimaginable depths of Europa, the tiny blind pale fishlike organisms represented an alien life even farther beyond what anyone had hoped for.
Then it happened.
In late November of 2420, an experimental Europan research submersible exploring deeper than had ever been possible before drifted through a forest of tiny fluorescent plasmic organisms the likes of which had never been recorded before, even on Europa. Samples confirmed the impossible - the samples were not native to Europa, but something very different and very much more complex than Europa's simple fish.
Consortium authorities quickly clamped down on the discovery, enacting security protocols of the most extreme nature. More samples were sent, and it was soon established that the xenoplasmic organisms, while alive, were dormant, waiting for a biological signal that never seemed to come.
Thirty years later, the wall of secrecy fell, though not from anyone on Europa, but from Sedna, a distant dwarf world deep in the Kuiper Belt past Neptune. The massive secret research done on Europa was no long alone, and unlike the discovery on Europa, the discovery on Sedna rapidly went to the public feeds, and archaeologists, biologists, and scientists swarmed that most distant outpost of humanity in the solar system.
In truth, the remnants on Europa were far more expansive than the fragments discovered on distant Sedna, though Europan xenoarchaeologists quietly sent to investigate for themselves did verify that the Sednan site actually pre-dated the Europan colonization by a significant margin on the order of approximately 6,000 years.
But even the discovery of extrasolar life must eventually fade, and though the study still continues, it continues more quietly, though no less significantly.
For while no great living sentient intelligences were discovered, it became clear that the myriad sites around the outer solar system represented a long-abandoned colonization, a xenoforming of the interior of at least a dozen known moons and asteroids. An entire ecosystem of xenoplasmic organisms slowly began to be unraveled, including the sobering conclusion that the colonization was not a natural colonization, but a directed one involving utilization of biotechnology of a scale far beyond what was available to humanity.
Different polities, research institutes, and scientists took a wide array of stances. Some, such as the Europan Consortium, wished to lock away the knowledge behind physical and virtual security gates to keep the public blissfully ignorant of the implications of their discovery. Others, notably the research institutes on Sedna, considered the study a gift to all humanity and the greatest scientific adventure of all human history. Still others saw the xenoplasmic ecology neither as a threat nor a scientific cornucopia, but instead as a commercial opportunity of unparalleled significance.
Some of the solar system's national polities banned experimentation entirely; others merely banned the exploitive commercialization of the alien ecology and the growing number of potent products created out of it. Other polities embraced it, founding much of their own economy to the propagation of the xenoplasmic biology.
In ORG, all of these approaches offer avenues of gameplay to the player.
Extensive task chains can be undergone to obtain the political permission necessary to survey for sites; when found, sites can be plundered for their archaeological artifacts, or even siphoned for their constituent biological material wealth. Hybrid technologies can be developed, and the resulting xenomorphic products ranging from consumer and medical goods to technologies with military applications can be built, sold, and deployed to a dozen different ends.
Much as with the conventional commercial material exploitation of ORG, xenoarchaeology requires the active development of expertise and several different possible paths of both discovery and profiteering. Surveying, mining, artifact extraction, reverse engineering, technology discovery, and commercialization of individual technologies are all viable mechanics that can be pursued individually or in tandem with each other.
Hybrid ship and agent modifications, rejuvenation techniques, experimental fuel cells, organic implants and hybridization can simply provide a difficult, elite commercial opportunity - or a source of potent agent and ship enhancements to be used yourself.