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The Daily Run

Daily Running of Phoenix

From the player perspective it just seems a case of create some orders and press submit. The orders are collected, processed along with everything else and the results generated. This can lead to confusion as to why certain things happen as they do.

This is essentially a breakdown of what happens on a given day.

Start - Around 7am
Only turns that have been submitted by 6.50am GMT can be guaranteed to meet the deadline.
Download Emails
This checks a specific mailbox, pulls down everything and deletes them from the mailbox. It then has to decode any attachments, remove spam and check passwords and positions before adding them to the directory for incoming orders.

Possible issues
If the mailbox is not accessible the game will halt until the issue is resolved. We once had an issue with somebody mailing their entire turn directory as an order attachment. This caused the game to crawl as it attempted to download and read it for possible turns. This prompted a limit on the mail size to be set. Early on there were issues with unusual encoding for file attachments. These though have long since been resolved and we haven’t had issues in nearly many years.

Download Nexus Turns and Ancillary Data
While the game engine is dealing with the emails, DBsync shunts down turns that have been uploaded to Nexus from off-line order editors and those created using the Nexus Order Editor. Again there is a fair bit of data checking.

Ancillary data includes new ship designs, votes, changes to relations, mission actions and most importantly any new users (sign-ups).

Possible issues
These are not too common though generally relate to the shunting down of data. Data drop-outs can cause partial data downloads though DBsync has an indicator when this happens and a manual download can be initiated if necessary. This tends to occur when there are world events that are making the internet unstable (ISP maintenance, hacktivists hitting major nodes).
Once this has been done, Nexus is updated with the game status.

Maintenance Run
The next step is purely Game Editor and starts the process of organising the daily run. It updates the game with respect to new accounts and mission requests along with working out votes. There are quite a few steps to this of which the primary output at our end is a list of politicals to be maintained on the day and their current wealth.

Once these steps have been completed, a list of positions due for maintenance is generated. All positions undergo maintenance once per week on a pre-set day. For ships this is merely paying wages and seeing if the ship and its cargo decay a little more. For starbases it includes a full raft of checks, including research, production and merchandising to name a few. For starbases, outposts and political positions it will also process any orders that have been submitted for the position along with any standing orders, these being orders that have been specifically set to run at the time of maintenance (special actions are shuffled out and set for processing later in the day). For other positions, their orders will be processed later, even if they are maintained now.

The positions are processed sequentially from the first position to the last in the list.
Possible issues

The only real issue with this is that when a starbase, outpost or political has been set so that it runs after another position. If this happens to be on its maintenance day, it will remove any sequencing as it processes the orders for the position during this stage.

Orders Run
After the maintenance run is completed, the game editor moves on to create a list of all positions that have orders to process. This includes starbases, politicals and outposts that have not had their maintenance on this day. In the case of these positions, they need to have submitted a request update along with the submission of orders of the results of their orders will be appended to their between turns file to be generated when they next have a turn.

This is the longest part of the day and can account for thousands of positions encountering hundreds of positions. The amount of data that is processed means that a lot of effort has been made to make the code run as fast as possible where the code segments are used a lot. Nowadays, all positions are loaded into memory when they are first called and remain in memory until the game is closed. There are still a few more tricks to pull that Darak is working on though the separating of the run into orders and specials means that turns are sent out much earlier in the day.

Possible issues
This is a robust part of the game. If issues occur then it is highly likely that they are due to a recent upgrade. Positions that enter battles have their turns suspended and the position is removed from the front interface to prevent dozy GM meddling. This means that in some circumstances the submission of a special action will not even be accessible until after a battle is run. This can occasionally prove frustrating for players seeking to issue a mid-battle action.

An issue that thankfully happens infrequently is where a sequence includes a position with a special action. This halts the entire run in order for the GM to deal with the special action. The usual culprit is a ship in the middle of nowhere doing a surface exploration that has inexplicably been sequenced to a bunch of other positions presumably by accident. The other suspect is a base issuing a special action along with build hiport and therefore sequenced before the delivering ship. Occasionally, in fact, very rarely, there is a legitimate reason and the special action will be dealt with there and then.

Generally speaking, a halt in the run is spotted fairly promptly and dealt with. If you have sequenced specials into a run and turns arrived later than usual, then you probably have yourself to blame...

Battles
Battles require little more than selecting the identified battle and pressing a button – though the Game Master may take a closer look at any battle prior to initiating it. This may be done if there is something suspicious about the battle. These sorts of things used to be much more common, before the days of alliances, do not target lists and relations. On more than one occasion I have intervened for example when a Confederate (or was it Brotherhood) starbase and platform mistakenly added everybody to the enemy lists. I think that the pre-combat list indicated that a few dozen starbases, outposts and many more ships would have been pulled in.

Possible issues
This has been something of a minefield over the years as players have always pushed the boundaries. The biggest bugbear to date was the sending of entire warfleets into combat without enemy lists. The reliance on defend and support only resulted in spiralling checks as it looked for anyone willing to attack so that it could assign everybody to following them – over a thousand ships and not a set of balls between them. Something of an inruptus castratum. The code has now been modified to prioritise checks making this issue a thing of the past.

Where we are aware that there could be an issue, such as battles with thousands of ships, we will as a precaution take a battle-back-up. This pulls only part of the game data but reduces the time for a restore considerably. Over the years as the code has become ever more robust, this feature, like many others has become largely redundant and an unnecessary time constraint.

Finish Order Run and Send
After battles and updates to battling positions have been completed the next step is to add the manifests to the positions in the order run and any positions in the maintenance run that are to be sent out. This leaves only the positions with special actions, investigations and explorations outstanding.
At this point the game has generally been running solidly for around two hours and everything should have been received before lunch (in the UK).

This step assigns the turns to the email client and DBsync, freeing up the editor for the Game Master to deal with the remaining positions and their orders. As these are two separate programs they run simultaneously. On a day with few internet issues, the uploading of turns to Nexus will take around an hour while emails take around twice as long. Nexus is updated as to the progress.
As part of the step Nexus is also updated to include changes in markets, squadrons, treaties, stellar transactions, missions and a raft of other things including personal data.

Possible issues
The main issue is internet connectivity. While DBsync attempts retries that cope very well with natural blips, a longer drop-out will cause a halt that needs to be manually reset. This can cause timing issues as a complete fail close to the end of an upload requires it to start again. This is because it is normally a lot faster to upload all the data files (html turn results) then update the database that links them to Nexus accounts.

The email client however deals with turns individually so any drop-out simply requires the client to be started again. These are not particularly common.

Specials Run
Before we separated special actions from the orders run there was always the pressure to try to finish the run as fast as possible, or at least defer special actions if it was getting late in the day. This is simply because players need time to evaluate the results of the day before creating and submitting more orders. In the case of battles getting the results of a battle back in the early evening meant submitting orders for the next day was very difficult.

During this phase the Game Master simply deals with the explorations, investigations and special actions submitted for the positions. This is often very time consuming with the need for breaks (some days can feel like sitting exams). More details about being a Game Master for Phoenix can be found in IGN 5. Breaks in this case are often doing other things for the game such as writing IGN’s, looking at data in the game, discussing game improvements with Darak and answering PM’s – amongst other things.

Possible Issues
There is always the situation where a special action can present itself as part of a sequence of turns. Often this is simply a player getting over enthusiastic with the sequence request and they don’t really need some chaps to examine amphibians before their warfleet teams up with the rest of the armada. When these pop up a quick glance at the sequencing list allows the position to be removed from the list. There is also the potential that the actions of the position could trigger a battle though to date this has not happened in a situation where it is at all significant.

Send Specials and Back-up
The sending of these turns is as above, though rarely takes more than a couple of minutes though this second time there is also turn fee charges included. Following this the game normally initiates back-up.



Weekly Markets
On a Monday, there is an extra step. This calls the routines that sell goods from starbases to the planetary markets. This step also deals with income generated from claiming systems. This is very intensive and takes more than an hour to run though as it is done overnight, has no significant impact on game timing.

Bank Holidays
With Bank holidays everything is effectively run twice, one complete day after the other. The only real difference between the two runs is that in the first run only a couple of hours are spent doing Game Mastering (investigations etc). Sometime after lunch when an hour or so has passed since turns have been uploaded, all remaining positions will have their orders deferred. It is not quite this arbitrary though. The Game Master will have a look at the turns to see if some are urgent and try to give appropriate priority.

Deferred positions will depending on their type, be pushed through the next run or their next maintenance (in the case of bases). Then it is just a case of completing the stages and starting again with a new download.




 
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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