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Pubmeet 2014

Pubmeet 2014

This last meet was a very good experience for us. We didn’t have a hard sell to push, such as in previous years when we were adding mechanics that would in some players’ opinions restrict their game. Nor was there serious grumblings about recent GM’ing decisions. Even Darak was laid back though I suspect this may have been due to the short course of medication he was on. In other words we were there to present nice stuff to a bunch of gamers over a truckload of beer.

The main drive of this pubmeet was to flesh out what we are developing which for the non-phoenix players, i.e. for those without Nexus accounts, details can be found in the other article in this issue. The main issue raised during the debate was on the subject of Characters, specifically on the conversion from scientists and officers when character mechanics are introduced.

There were two points of contention:
  • Having too many characters will be a pain in the arse but lots of scientists are useful for maximising bonuses over multiple research bases.
  • Having new skills available but capped out characters, i.e. question on re-skilling.

The premise in the first point is that by amalgamating lots of skills into one scientist, though making things simpler removes some of the flexibility of shuffling the scientists around especially where the scientists is being shared between multiple affiliations. If other skills were added then it could spell the end of this practise according to some pessimists. We weren’t quite sure what to make the issue. Was it a good enough reason to keep hundreds of extra and largely pointless characters in the game?

Darak is currently unmoved by the plea for free re-skilling as it sets a dangerous precedence insofar as any future expansion of available skill sets sends the masses clamouring for another call to re-skill. He is of the opinion that characters have developed and benefited from the skills they have developed in Phoenix and should not be able to change them. He does however concede that the conversion should allow capped out characters to at least be able to keep developed skills even if this breaks the cap rule at the time of conversion. The counter argument is that the new skills would have been chosen as they were more useful and as a result they have already lost out.

The debate though was based on too many unknown quantities to be much more than a hat tip to a future storm if there are too many constraints on the conversion. It was very clear that a few wanted to ignore any previous training and only convert their experience pools and apply templates to these pools.

While I am not sure what will happen with scientists I suspect that we will probably do something along the lines of converting experience and removing all their skills but giving them ‘training pools’ based on skills they have paid for so that they can learn skills without incurring the stellar cost. How this will take into consideration more points than the character cap will allow I have no idea. I do know though that we will think a lot longer and harder on the subject further down the line.
The other thing that came up which was something of an eye opener was the demand that items that have infrastructure values be made general knowledge when added if it seems reasonable that such an item be general knowledge even if added to the game through a special action. There was quite a lot more to the pubmeet but in general the following pretty much covers everything:

What Happens at a Pubmeet?
From my (KJC’s) point of view, the weekend is divided into two distinct parts – beer and socialising on Friday followed by the business end on Saturday. Saturday is further split into a presentation followed by around 6-10 hours of ‘quiet chats with the GM’ by various groups.

Friday is my favourite part because it’s a chance to chat informally (not that the private chat’s are particularly formal) while guzzling beer. It’s a time to hear rumours and listen to the in-game events that have entertained during the year which may have nothing to do with the results of special actions. There is generally a lot of cross-affiliation banter as small groups form around somebody delivering anecdotes. There is often a bit of baiting and trash talking. I may let slip a few points about NPC’s or drop a few hints on ideas for the coming year. Players also use this time to debate tactics and motives with some epic fails being laughed off or lamented.

Fast food is ordered and consumed to soak up some of the beer.

Here’s the leader of the DEN (Dave) enjoying a traditional Dewiek snack.

Saturday normally starts, in terms of official business, sometime in the early afternoon and typically goes through design and development documents already handed out. It is at this stage where glaring oversights are pointed out (if they exist, not that they every do, nosireebob) and players get their opportunity to require a zillion caveats and additions to the proposed designs while repeatedly expounding on over-complications in the design.

While we aim to have the presentation take at most a couple of hours, this has turned out to be up to four or more depending on how often and far we are led off the beaten track. The longest presentation was when there were two distinct mechanics camps with one faction favouring open attacks anywhere while another favoured draconian restraints based on exorbitant stellars fees leaving a lot of middle ground to argue over. From this came affiliation relations, charters and related mechanics.

Private Chats
After the presentation has broken we (Darak, Emma and I) depart for the quite front lounge of the hotel where we hold private chats with the factions. This gives the opportunity to discuss matters that need fleshing out and are otherwise unsuited to PM’s, special actions and emails. Often these are ideas on how to develop the affiliation or faction though may have foreseen snags or are currently impossible within the game mechanics as they stand. They may be requests for advice or a better understanding of a series of events in the game. It is here that we often hear anecdotes that cannot be told in public.
While these normally conclude around midnight we have found ourselves still chatting into the early hours. At some point though we discover that people have stopped wanting to talk to us.

The Rest
While for us the weekend is Phoenix, for others it has grown to mean so much more to the point where players often arrive midweek and set off back home on the Monday morning. In some circles, Thursday is the new Friday and it is on this day that best deals are struck freeing up the rest of the weekend for other matters. These now extend to board games, roleplaying and for a few players, finding somebody to fix and update their laptops (it’s handy that the game is dominated by tech-savvy people). Reconciliations, cake and skulduggery can all be found over the course of a weekend.

If the idea of hanging around a hotel for an entire weekend seems stifling there is always the town to visit. Blackpool, tourist Mecca has a lot to offer with its recent and extensive town centre redevelopment, new tram service, vast number of bars and nite clubs and of course the Pleasure Beach, Tower and Piers but to be honest most people only leave the hotel merely to get a quick bite to eat or smoke a fag. Apparently some wives are incredulous that people have been attending for a decade and have still to see the sites. That said, on many years the weather has been so horrendous that only the brave and foolish would consider abandoning the comfort of the lounge chairs.

Origin of the Phoenix Pubmeet
Back in the old days at the height of Play by Mail gaming when letter writing was an art or at the very least a necessity, computers were silly money and even national telephone calls cost a packet, the opportunity to meet fellow gamers and discuss at length plans for the coming year was invaluable. That it was in a pub conveniently situated next to a train or coach station was a happy bonus. People would turn up, chat, wave around sheets of paper much to the bemusement of the local patrons and many would drink copious amounts of beer before staggering across the road back to the station. These were often player organised in pubs around the country, usually London or Birmingham and rarely attended by KJC staff. Kevin, when he did attend would be bought large numbers of drinks, make lots of promises and invariably forget them or more likely discover that what sounded trivial turned out to be a coding nightmare once it hit the programming department.

Back then Quest meets ruled, though some dual gamers also brought along their Beyond the Stellar Empire data with them. Despite this, there was growing interest in BSE players forming their own pubmeet. The problem was a few drunken hours were insufficient time to broker all the trade deals and treaties with various factions along with the sharing and correlation of exploration and investigation data accumulated over time, especially for those that could not attend the regular player organised pubmeets. What was really needed was a weekend.

The first pubmeet weekend was announced for early May back in 1999 and as there were quite a few players around Bath this was chosen as the venue (that and it was organised by players). It proved to be a resounding success with a small hoard camping out at David and Emma Bethel’s house. Enthusiasm was running high so much so that players wanted a second 2-day event in the same year. By happy coincidence Danny’s girlfriend (who remembers Danny?) worked at a local hotel which opened during the season but was prepared to stay open for a weekend after the Illuminations finished. This was to be the first of the Blackpool meets at the Sutton Park Hotel on 5-7th November 1999 and we have been there every year (as far as I recall) every since.

So much and so little has changed since. On the one hand the average player is around 15 years older and most now have kids though a few lucky ones have watched theirs bugger off. Some factions at the height of their glory are now dull embers while others are firmly in ascendance. The hotel has switched owners and gone forever is the jukebox and Jolene while casually smoking cigars in the comfort of being indoors while an in-game enemy has a rant at you is also a thing of the past.

Is open for business...
As part of the update outlined in the 7th February post, turn fees have been increased as from today.

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******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the new version of ESNN (formally CSNN), giving the news and views from the former CSNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe,

And so with the news,
***** Inter Galactic News *****

A Detinus expeditionary force is being assembled to liberate slaves in the Twilight Periphery. Stung by the wit of the Wimble Dinash, Admiral Bridge is leading a personal and sizeable force against the newly constituted Flagritz Republic.

The Wimble Bake Off has new competition with the Dominion instituting a Master Chef competition in the Orion Spur. This is all said to be a cover for further land grabs and in preparation for a move against the Hive and Dewiek, tipping the balance further in the Stellar Empire’s favour.

Meanwhile, the Wimbles struck off a number of hapless Wimbles under their new rules. To cement their plan to align themselves with the Stellar Empire, they have offered the services of their new masters to the Emperor.

Several hundred thousand slaves have been released by the Flagritz Republic but the terms of their manumission are unclear. Millions more await their emancipation. Many have refused to accept freedom without transit home, especially those brought in from outside peripheries. Many reportedly were captured by the Stellar Empire from the Detinus Republic and then sold on to the Flagritz.

***** Inter Galactic News *****

The ship PRV HarCop Omega has been reported both in Orion and Corewards. This was the flagship of the former League Chairman, sacked from the role when the League went into administration and quietly disappearing beyond the edge of known space. It is thought that his return may have been for a clandestine meeting with his former contacts in Harlong and Coptuv. If so then he clearly has an agenda.

Unconfirmed stories that the Pirate King of The Pirate Holes and Million Islands is near completing research on the various larger ships his pirates have successfully captured over the past few years (big thanks to all the affiliations that participated in 'donating' ships). If the rumours are true it is likely a new armada of pirate ships using more advanced technology will be found in Corewards in the near future.

An supernova has been detected originating from just beyond the Transpiral Periphery. The rare event has created ripples in the subspace of the nearby stars. Nobody has reported any tangible ramifications but this is the first supernova in the current age of the Peripheries so esoteric scientists are excited by the prospect of grants to study the relatively nearby phenomena.
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

***** 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……..

*** 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


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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).