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From Missions to Meglomania

From Missions to Meglomania

Having read a couple of issues of IGN, been entertained by the stories and starting thinking that there is quite a bit to this game, you may now be ready to take the plunge. If this is the case or even if you have already signed up but are now confused, this article is for you.

You may be wondering where the game is. There is nothing obvious to point you mouse at and no graphics of a ship, just a big ol' table that looks like a forum. Where's the control interface and which buttons controls movement and how do you fire your weapons? Phoenix has none of this - if it did, how could you possibly control a hundred ships simultaneously, each acting independently? How could you march across a world and storm a stronghold with a hundred thousand soldiers? How could you conduct research in a dozen facilities and supervise factories while mining rigs churned up asteroids? Phoenix offers all this and because of this, such things as spinning planets, blaster sounds and real-time control of ships are superfluous to the game, in fact they would make the game unplayable. Phoenix is a strategy, roleplaying, resource and diplomacy game - things happen on all scales, from an assassin putting a bullet in the head of a beloved leader all the way up to a thousand ships launching salvo after salvo of antimatter missiles in a desperate bid to turn the tide of annihilation. What really separates it from massive multi-player games though is that you - yes, you - can do all this - on your own!


Is the game complicated?
Yes and no.

No because the basics are really simple - moving about and transfer items account for most of the things you will be doing and as your initial ships are already fully functional, you don't need to concern yourself with the nitty-gritty. To begin with all you need to do is follow the fairly clear instructions in your missions and get to know the players.

Yes because there is a hell of a lot of it and it is heavily nuanced - three types of movement for ships, more than five types of troops, three types of combat. There is always something new to learn. Many players have specialized in some aspect of the game but are utterly clueless about others. This also pretty much sets it apart from mainstream games that you can learn in a few minutes and equally tire of all too soon. While we are not trying to stop people from joining the game we do feel that a game is really only any good if you have to invest time into learning it and that even after years of playing there are still things to know. Phoenix has been designed as a game for life!

The game is strategic in its implementation in that you submit orders for any or all of your positions and they carry them out. As others are doing the same this can result in very complicated scenarios. There is a lot of planning and plotting in Phoenix. You can have plans that take years to come to fruition or react to events that are over in a day.

Nexus in a Nutshell
This online site has everything you need to play the game. This boils down to just three necessary features:

  • Submit orders for your assets
  • View your assets along with the results of the orders you submitted
  • Access data about the game universe

Everything else, the forums, messaging system, libraries, missions etc are simply bells and whistles that make the game easier and more enjoyable to play.

Missions
So, back to your situation - you have signed up, you have been thrown through the first mission, created your ship, chose a captain and pressed the submit button and wait... Er, why the wait, why not process all submitted orders in real time? And what is with all these bloody numbers?

Some History
Phoenix has its origins in the mists of multi-player gaming - it comes from a time when people used letters and even wrote things by hand - okay, you can stop chuckling now. A set of instructions would be sent into KJC by post, opened by the staff then the orders would be manually inputted. At the end of the day all the turns (the term for the results of the orders and the manifests of the positions) would be printed and posted out back to the players. Attempting to input (DOS screens) names for items, systems and planets was a nonstarter from a commercial point of view. As a consequence all the games used numbers to represent all these fields. While you now have dropdown menus, learning a few numbers can make for quick inputting of orders. For more about what fields exist and details, see the appended section below. Getting to know some of the common numbers can speed up inputting your orders no end though using the dropdowns is a useful way of double-checking your entries as are reviewing your orders on Nexus.
A key feature that endures even to today is the ability to play the game around normal working hours and even take a break for days while your positions are active in the game. Further, as turns were not (and still aren't) processed at the weekend you can play when convenient for you (often generating orders during work breaks).

So, the strategic nature of the game means that you generate orders, submit them and wait for the results. To begin with you are doing a lot of waiting around and then probably spending no more than an hour a week creating orders for your couple of ships (mostly spent looking at maps and rules) - not much to do but then again that's the point. As running individual ships often requires very little time, you can start to collect more ships especially as you can often send two, three or more to help do the same job - you are now on your way to megalomania.

Signing up for a political and joining an affiliation will open the doors to more assets really quickly. Before you know what has happened you could be controlling 20 ships, half a dozen outposts and maybe even a starbase. This will be a very exciting time as you work out things like manufacturing, searching for new ores, maybe even doing some exploration. There will be trade to get to grips with in order to pay for all the personnel that have come with your swelling asset base. You will have questions about blueprints, defenses, weapon systems, platforms, refitting ships, platforms and merchandising. You will be learning about squadrons and creating macro-orders in order to make submitting common sets of orders more efficient. You will be chuckling that you ever spent more than ten minutes a week dealing with a single ship as you become the spider at the centre of a web.


Infinite Expansion
You may look to start your own shipbuilding programme. You will need shipyards, blueprints for ship designs and the components from which ships are built. Are you going to buy these in or go the whole way, mining the minerals, building the hulls, armour and installed items as well as hiring mercenaries and training them up into crew? With large starbases, solid production and research you could be increasing your complement of ships by half a dozen small freighters a week or maybe just a couple of warships. By this point you could be running battle fleets patrolling your empire or trade fleets that span known space. Given a few years you could be running hundreds of ships, dozens of outposts and maybe even a handful of starbases - if your budget allows.

Keeping it Real
At some point however you have to look at what you have, what you want and what you can manage. Ideally all these should be the same, but if you have more than you want or can manage, get help - chat with your affiliation members and allies. Be realistic about your commitment and bin off excess assets. Burn out is a very real phenomena in Phoenix. Some players over the course of half a decade have ended up taking on more than they have time for and have had to go cold-turkey. Generally they return (because there is no game quite like Phoenix) after a break with a promise to themselves to resist the temptation of taking on too much and trying to single-handedly control and run the entire affiliation.

Appendix - Number Fields  [Recruit]

Back in the days of BSE (the postal/email forerunner to Phoenix) you submitted a list of instructions:

Ship Bob's Demise(4855)
Acct: 1234
Move to SS: 1052
Swap Engines
Jump: Capellan (1)
Enter orbit: Agin(854)
Buy from: Ratnest (445)
10 BCMs (35)
Leave Orbit
Jump Starling(160)
Swap Engines
Move to SS:135

This allowed for rapid entering of the instructions, making the game commercially viable.

Decades later, we are still employ the basic numbering system. We do use auto-complete in many places along with dropdowns in alphabetical order but for many veteran players knowing the number is very useful. It's handy knowing that metals is item 1, the Yank star system is 146 and the numbers of your favourite starbase and ships.

So it is handy to know something about the various number lists in the game.

Positions - each position has a unique number between 0 and 100,000
Positions include:

  • Starbases
  • Outposts
  • Ships
  • Ground Parties
  • Agents
  • Operatives
  • Platforms
  • Politicals
  • Cargo Dump


Items - items can have any number though they are rarely above 100,000. Originally items tended to be grouped around number ranges, such as ores with numbers below 50, trade goods with numbers over 30,000 and troops around the 500 region. Years of expanding the item lists due to player research and game upgrades has meant that there has been a blurring of the original structure. While not totally random, an advanced version or a common object may have been inserted into the database at much higher number if the next sequential number had already been assigned.

Item Types - are definitions of items that perform the same task. For example Troops accounts for everything from Felini Marines through to Human Mercenaries. Zero(0) is reserved for Any item. This is quite handy for emptying a position such as a cargo dump of all its contents. There are about 80 Item Types. It is not uncommon to accidently use Pick Up Item Type rather than Pick Up Item. The difference is that Item Type(1) is Troops, while Item (1) is Metals. I am sure more than one person has been as confused as all the soldiers in the cargo hold. It does therefore warrant a little look-see at the boxes, even if you are in a rush.

Officers - officers, though an item are each classed as unique. As there are thousands in the game, they each have their own data held on the item rather than assigning each a space in the item data base. Each officer is preceded with a #. Use this # system when dealing specifically with the officer. The manifests of positions have been designed so that there should be little confusion as officers will be listed in their own section. Just don't forget to use the # symbol when transferring them. Picking up item #1 will take the first officer from the target position. If you are on your way to rendezvous with the warfleet, last thing you want to do is try to explain why you have 1mu of metals(1) in your cargo and no officer on board...
One final point on officers, their numbers can change to accomodate changes to the officer list on a position. If you have an officer then the next one you pick up, even if #1 from the position you are picking up from, will become #2 at the time of being added to your position. If you intend to deliver this new officer, then remember to use #2 or you will transfer your original officer.

Systems - Each system has a unique number. While you can theoretically enter any number into the orders, i.e. Jump to system 5, unless the system is common knowledge or you have specific knowledge of the system you will be told in your report that you do not know about this system. Alternatively, if you do know about it, there may be no obvious route to it. There are a few reasons for this. The system may require your ship to move through stargates or wormholes or may be beyond a region of space that you do not know about. When starting the game it is best to simply follow the missions and study the maps.
Halo-Kastorian Space - the best way to leave Halo is to move to the wormhole in Agripeta and enter it. This will bring you out in Yank in safe Kastorian Space (Outer Capellan Periphery).

Planets - These include planets, moons, gas giants, asteroids, belts, nebulae, stargates wormholes and anomalies. They are unique numbers within a system. A moon in one system for example can share the same number as a planet in another.

Resources and Mineral Deposits (ID#'s) - These are unique to the world on which they exist. It is a common mistake to use the item number rather than the ID#. For example a resource of Food (30048) may have ID# (1085) - Exploit Resource order should therefore use 1085, not 30048.

There are other fields though armed with the above information, everything else should be relatively straight forward.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News THE MUSICAL *****

*** Norozov, No More ***

Kantner: No more do I see the starlight caress your cyclops eye
No more feel the tender kisses we used to share
I close my fists and clearly my heart remembers
A thousand goodbyes could never put out the embers

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Chulainn: Oh all the Stellars mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Kantner: No more do I feel the touch of your hand on mine
No more see the love-light making your dark eyes shine
Oh, how I wish I never had caused you sorrow
But don't ever say for us there is no tomorrow

Chulainn: Oh all the ladies mine now!

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more

Sylvansight: I will have his eye!

Chulainn: Oh the power is mine now!

Chorus: The power is in the eye!

Kantner: Norozov, I love you so, and my heart forever
Will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before.

Lanner: So, old cyclops has finally met his comeuppance
Maybe its time for a comeback

Chorus: No, no one wants you back!

Lanner: I always did like that chair of his…

Chorus: The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!
The power is in the eye!

Continued in this special edition of the SSS...

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** ALIEN CRIMINALS BROUGHT TO JUSTICE ***

FILTHY AND DISHONOURABLE Dewiek mercenaries have dared to attack HONEST AND HARDWORKING GTT warships in the Coptuv system.

THEY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO JUSTICE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

The Dewiek commander’s lengthy response was appreciated by xenophile and philanthropist HQ Manager Tom Krieger but this does not change the facts.

FURTHER JUSTICE IS EXPECTED AT THE EMPEROR’S PLEASURE. LONG LIVE THE EMPEROR!

Inside this issue of the SSS: * SEDITIOUS FET CHARGED * LIES OF THE FAILED REBELLION * TERRORIST PLOTS FOILED * ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE CRITICISED * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Voice of the Naplian Liberation Front ***

We are the Naplian Liberation Front. We have commandeered this station to bring you important and vital deprogramming. You are a slave of the Galactic Trouser and Tussles Imperium of Unspecified Services! We have witnessed the press ganged upon by Imperial thugs. Rounding up reporters by the thousands and throwing them in weasel dens. Mocking the Great Uncle of the Flagritz. Manufacturing consent out of a lust for imports of wheat cereals! We poor Naplians(*) are given no training and substandard equipment when preparing your nutritious breakfasts. We are sent forward by the Imperial snack commissioners with threats of triple-filing tax returns on unreasonable deadlines! Death would be preferable. We are allegedly paid a wage but have you ever tried to buy anything with just $1? Strangely none of those politicals earning $10,000 or more a week seem to care about our plight. Not to mention that the Imperials throw perfectly good meat into the grinder instead of slow cooking it in black bean sauce. They have no respect for a classic burrito! We are left grieving for young families who have never tasted quality ranch sauce. You don’t need to be a dead Naplian to know the value of a good guacamole.

* No actual Naplians included.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT vs USN * GTT vs NLF * GTT vs IND * GTT vs KAS * GTT vs FET * GTT vs SSS * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire On Warpath ***

The newly re-united Stellar Empire continued to wage war against the Flagritz Empire to bring about galactic peace and freedom for all. The latest system to fall to the inevitable tide of history was Morroglyph in the Coreward Arm. Dewiek intransigence reached fever pitch as the FLZ facilities changed to DEN paws and subsequently became targets of Imperial truth and justice. Despite putting themselves between the past and the future, the DEN seemed to lack much will for an actual fight with Dewiek military commanders adopting “meh” as their watchword.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * GTT smacks NLF * DEN whack MRC * Slaves Liberated * FLZ Retreat * ARC in Orion Spur * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Stellar Empire Re-United ***

Celebrations were held across the vast territories of the Stellar Empire as the two-halves represented by the governments of the Imperials and Caliphate determined to unite. This followed almost inevitably from the assassination of the Caliph, a crime that has gone mysteriously unresolved. The old Caliphate ministers were ‘retired’ and at first it seemed the Imperials had managed what had alluded them for decades.

However, just as orders to claim systems for the IMP went in some places, conflicting orders to claim for the CIA came from Laton. In other systems, it seems overwhelming civilian support lies with the defunct CAL government and there are a number of CIV and CAL bases that seem to have not heeded the CIA nor IMP orders. With all the Caliphate's armaments now in the CIA’s hand and no political leadership in the old government, it seems inevitable that the civilians will be dragged kicking and screaming into the future.

A muted and cautious response from the rest of the galaxy was only to be expected given the formation of a new unrivalled superpower. The chilling effect on public discourse as the Imperial war machine taps into the substantial, if stunted, economies of the former Caliphate will surely be felt for years to come. Does this mark the 'end of history' as we know it?

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * KAS v IMP/GTT v FLZ * DEN v MRC * FOCed by IMP * BHD v DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Imperials Declare War Against Flagritz ***

A declaration of war came last week after an unsatisfactory reply to Imperial ultimatums that the FLZ accept resolution of the previous war. J. Jones issued the following proclamation, "We hope this reminder will prompt them to rethink the status they removed them selves from and come back to more peaceful co-existence.” Doublegood, Viceroy, doublegood!

More on this story inside this issue of the SSS along with: * Species Guide * FEL Barter With GIants * High Times &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Orion Spur Special Edition ***

Explorers of the galaxy rejoiced as knowledge of a new periphery became common knowledge, revealing charts to forty star systems. The Orion Spur is connected to the massive Coreward Arm with rumours that the locals of the Monument system at the heart of this new periphery may have been responsible for the collapse of the HarCorp civilisation.

We have in-depth analysis and information about the new periphery inside this special issue of the SSS.

Also inside this issue of the SSS: * Naplian Liberation Front Reality Show * FLZ v FEL * Mercs in Graydown * DOM Scare Stories * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Hoedown in Graydown ***

Wimbles in the Graydown system have come under repeated attacks by mercenaries. The Wimbles having already lost two outposts have had their ships come under attack by boarders. The Wimbles are pointing a hairy finger at the GTT whilst the DEN are itching to get their paws in.

Pleasantly rotund Wolf Lord Lyceum reported the destruction of one mercenary ship, a Corsair class explorer called "Eye of the Chosen" which had earlier dropped off ground forces flying the banner of "God Hates Wimbles.” Which God and why he or she hates Wimbles has yet to be revealed. We suspect its corporation-loving Mammon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Sargasso Update * Wakerians * Naplian Liberation Front * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Breaking News: Caliph Samuel Assassinated ***

The nominal head of the Caliphate, Samuel has been murdered in broad daylight at the starbase CAL Sidon in the Fortress system. The allegedly mad zealot was on his way to meet representatives of various civilian factions when a shadowy figure *cough*CIA agent*cough* shot him dead.

The CIA issued the following statement to the SSS with a customary nudge and a wink: "In these difficult times, as we come to terms with the loss of Samuel, we are taking things one day at a time.

"Samuel was not only our Caliph, but our leader during the Second Civil War which laid the foundations for the Confederacy after he left the Human Empire and settled in the Darkfold. It is truly a sad day and one that will be marked in history as one of many great leaders who were cut down in their prime.

"We will strive now to look to the future, whilst remembering our past”

Speculation is rife that this is the first step towards a unification of the two-halves of the Stellar Empire. Others are more hopeful this is a return to the Confederacy or the mark of greater separation with the Imperial bloc. Time will tell what nebulous motives the shadowy puppet-master Laton turned out to have had and which alien faction will be blamed for the Caliph’s murder.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * HEX / FET Invade Sargasso * Magnus v Nevets Fight! * Dewiek Black Hole Disaster * FLZ Correction * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic