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New Rulebook Development

A new Rule Book

For over 12 years Phoenix has developed from a few journals of ideas on how to replace the decrepit Qbasic code of Beyond the Stellar Empire into something that far exceeds anything we ever imagined. During this time it has progressed from a purely email interface into something that from my opinion is unparalleled in the world of Play by Mail, by which I include all descendents of the genre.

So busy have we been in adding new features, updating old mechanics and refining elements of the game that the rules have become to be polite somewhat wanting. Occasionally we have added sections or updated other sections and even hardy players have taken up the baton upon occasion. The simple truth however is that they have been cobbled together and what little structuring that does exist is not overly user friendly.
So it is with both trepidation and resolve that I am to set the matter straight, starting with this article explaining what I intend to do.

To answer the most obvious question, why now and not years ago, it is because the end is now finally in sight. Yes indeed, we can now see what is needed to finish writing the game. Of course this in no way implies that we will stop developing Phoenix, rather we do not envisage anything on a par with the battle program, Nexus, notifications or relations. We will be largely concerned with bug fixes, bells and whistles. In fact in terms of major things left, all that we have to do is characters and improving the interfaces for missions and writing the orders for infrastructure as already laid out in the rules.


It is weird to have the end in sight such that afterwards we are concerned with doing nice things rather than necessary things, things that add depth to the game rather than things that when added you wonder how the game was played before. Of the latter, Nexus is the best example and from what I hearing, notifications is one of the best development since.

Returning to the subject of a new rule book; with a fair amount of hindsight and a lot of material contained within the IGN’s, the prospect of compiling one is much less daunting, though it is a task that I would rather do once and therefore properly. As such the purpose of this article is largely to share my thoughts on its layout and hopefully garner positive and critical feedback. In the existing rulebook my main complaint is that within pages there are often many sections. This makes for very awkward reading and location of information. I think that it is much better to use sub-pages, allowing for quick location of relevant information from the tree directory. This was previously not done because it was considered annoying to continually click between pages but mostly for players that prefer a printed version of the rules. We will bypass this through the creation of word documents and probably PDF’s of the rules. These can be generated by assembling sub-pages as sections in a single document (according to Darak, very straightforward).

The other major difference intended is to split elements into their own entries. For example, where research is currently a section within starbase, it will become a top-level page, as will things like production, exploration and the other key aspects of the game.

There is a question about depth. Many of the IGN articles, for example ‘Damage - Everything you needed to know’ explain aspects of the game to a higher degree than the existing rules. There are two schools of thought on this. The first is that the rules should contain all this data. The second is that as this level of ‘nitpicking’ is not needed to play the game, it might be best to simply give an overview that is sufficient for most players and give a link to the article for further reading. I sort of prefer this approach because the rules should give you what you need rather than put you off by seeming far too complicated.

So, the theory is that the main headings have an overview with the sub pages going into more depth. Purely by reading the heading pages, the player will have a reasonable understanding of the game.

There will also be a few notes in italics within the various sections explaining why things are the way they are.

This is what we have so far:

  • Introduction
    • Game Development History

  • How the game is played
    • Your Starting Position
      • Starting Missions
      • Submitting Orders
        • Offline Editor

    • Game Processing Cycle
    • Bank Holidays
    • Establishing your Game Presence
    • Stellars (in-game currency)
    • Fees (pay to play positions)
    • Leaving the Game

  • Navigating Nexus
    • ID
      • Changing ID
      • Pips/Medals/Ribbons

    • Forums
      • Posting Rules
      • IC/OOC

    • Game
    • Turns
    • Orders
    • Political
    • Library
      • IGN

    • Admin
    • Messages
    • Personal
    • Notifications
    • Missions
    • News

  • Positions
    • Ships
      • Squadrons

    • Starbases
      • Outposts

    • Operatives
      • Agents

    • Ground Parties
      • Debris
      • Cargo Dumps

    • Politicals
    • Platforms
    • Creating New Positions
    • Selling Positions

  • Factions
    • Affiliations
      • Profile Options
      • Charters

    • Power Blocks
    • Relations
    • Territory
      • System Claim
      • System Income
      • System Enemy Lists
      • Exclusion Zones

    • Roleplaying

  • Movement
    • Jumping
    • ISR Drives
    • Reaction Engines
    • Stargates
    • Wormholes
    • Surface and Orbital Movement

  • Scanning
    • Stopped for Combat
    • Cloaking

  • Personnel
    • Employees
      • Slaves
      • Indentured Workers

    • Troops
      • Militia
      • Training

    • Scientists
    • Officers
      • Skills

    • Recruitment and Acquisition

  • Trade
    • Merchandising
      • Merchandising Calculator

    • Item Value
    • Planetary Sales
    • Player Controlled Markets
      • Private Markets
      • Hiports

    • Trading with Civilians (Non-players)

  • Production
    • Assigning Factories
      • Basic Production
      • Mass Production

    • Materials and Substitution
    • Strion Enhancing
    • Blueprint Limits

  • Research
    • Principles
    • Techs
    • Blueprints
      • Prototypes and One Use

    • Scientists and Universities
    • Stellar Cartography
    • Esoteric Technology

  • Ship Design and Construction
    • Design Limits for tech
    • Limits due to Hull Type
      • Armour
      • Weapon Space
      • ISR
      • Installation Space
      • Integrity

    • Armour
    • Installed Item Requirements
    • Ship Template Alternative for Installed Items

  • Mining
    • Mining Calculator Resource
    • Types of Mining
    • Subsurface Mining
    • Enhancement of Deposits

  • Resources
    • Finding Resources
    • Growth
    • Dealing with Civilians

  • GM Moderation
    • Explorations
    • Investigations
    • Special Actions
    • One-off
    • Free Actions
    • PM’ing GM’s
    • Arbitration
    • Civilians and NPC Factions

  • Infrastructure
    • World Levels
    • Establishing a Colony
    • Infrastructure Classes
    • Enhancements
    • Governments

  • Combat
    • Targeting
      • Enemy
      • Support
      • Defend
      • Do not Target
      • Relations Override

    • Weapon Types
    • Combat Ranges
    • Weapon Types
    • Defence
    • Damage
      • Death and Promotion
      • Blowing Up
      • Integrity Breakdown

    • Control Battles
      • Boarding Actions
      • Raiding




  • Appendix
    • The Universe
      • Peripheries
      • Systems
      • Planets & Moons
        • World Types

      • Gas Giants
      • Asteroid Belts
      • Nebulas
      • Asteroids
      • Stargates
      • Wormholes
      • Anomalies

    • Items
      • Stats
      • Item Types[…]
      • Unique Stats

    • Orders
      • By Position Type and Group Type







 
News
Is open for business...
 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Acropolis Now ***

The IMP and GTT have brought peace and stability to Acropolis.

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Goodbye Falconians ***

The galaxy bid farewell to the Falconian Republic as the Human Empire subsumed them into their expanding territories. This marks the second death of an alien civilisation at the hands of the IMP / GTT in recent years. Like the extinguishing of the nearby Ulians, no voices of opposition could be heard from other quarters. This marks a long-period of appeasement by the Detinus Republic and Dewiek Elder Nation.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * DOMination * &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