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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.


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

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite and most reliable unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last couple of weeks,


Cluster War! DNA Gather Fruit
 
******Empire Syndicated News Network (ESNN) ******

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Welcome to the latest version of ESNN, giving the news and views from the ESNN's reporter and news anchor, Ainsley Moore, making this the peripheries' most favourite unbiased publication in the known universe from our home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,


Cluster War! MZC attacks DNA
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

The Dewiek rise again!

After the death and destruction wrought upon the Dewiek Nation by the Architects, there was a period of calm if you were a werewolf fancier. But now the Dewiek have risen to once more in the name of the Dewiek Packs, led by Skarn. Their new message being one of peace, a most unusual change for the large humanoid wolves. While they rise from the ashes of the Mizuchi Combine the Galaxy waits to see how this new affiliation acts, baring in mind the Dewiek have something of reputation.

Empire invade the Cluster!

A significant force of GTT warships recently entered the Cluster, somewhere they have not seen the need to go for a very long time. At the same time the CIA banned the Dewiek Packs from it’s space and also sent a large number of warships into the Cluster to bolster the GTT’s presence. After this show of force the Crossley system, known for it’s wormhole connecting from the Cluster to CIA space shifted to be claimed by the GTT. Currently the Empire has over 200,000 troops and 2000 warships roaming the nearby systems. Inhabitants of the Cluster are waiting to see if there are any further developments. GTT CEO Xavier Fox when asked by our office dismissed it as a “Training exercise”.

Krell sale!

The Krell Clan Dark Angels has been selling off bases, outposts and even systems lately. It is unknown why they have decided to cash in their assets and territories, but it points to the accumulation of significant wealth by the Krell clan. If you have any spare cash and want to expand your assets then it seems to our office that the best place to go is the Dark Angel Clan and ask what will be going up for sale next, assuming they actually have anything left.

*** Affiliations ***

AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
BLG Bolg Organisation (22) - Akhenaten
BHD Brotherhood (63) - de Molay
CIA Combined Intelligence Agency (64) - Laton CIA
DNA Displaced Natives Asylum (66) - DNA people
DTR Detinus Republic (58) - Morley Decker
DEN Dewiek Elder Nation (67) - <unknown>
DWK Dewiek Packs (19) - Skarn
FCN Falconian Republic (70) – Bacran *
FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
HEX Hexamon (23) - <unknown>
KRL Krell (30) - Namica
KRT Krell of the Reverence Temple (37) - Kal Torak
KST Kastor Kastorians (12) - Kastor
MZC Mizuchi Combine (86) - Mizuchi
MOH Mohache (73) – Listens
NHS Noble Houses (41) – Roy Roberts
NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

* Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
** Only known contact, please update us if this is incorrect.

NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS
Inactive: ANT, COD, DOM, HVE, IDC, IMP, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

*** Submissions ***

By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
 
GTT step forward to control protection and peace in the Stellar Empire.

With the retirement of Jack Johns and various lower-level IMP officers from public life, the Imperial Services were left on the verge of being unable to fill their role as protectors of the Stellar Empire. Due to the serious nature the Imperial Services found itself in, the Emperor recently travelled to GTT HQ to attend a board meeting with the directors of the GTT.

With Galactic Trade and Transport being one of the few remaining loyal Imperial Chartered affiliations, who also supply well over half of the war material to the Imperial Services, the Emperor sought the position of the GTT with regard to the Imperial Services becoming overburdened with bureaucracy and lacking effective leadership. Effectively the Imperial Services were at the point of collapse. A position highlighted when an opportunistic supposed ally subverted four Imperial Outposts in the Inner Empire, thinking their asset grabbing would go unnoticed.
 
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  Star Date: 221.30.5

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RAGNAROK COMES

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A Forlorn Hope

The seat of Dewiek Government has fallen. What began as a small group of Architect ships picking up retreating DEN forces, amalgamated into a much larger force. The bombardment fleet comprised dozens of Adult ARC ships plus several Planet Killers. The force made short work of the impressive fortifications of the planetary orbit of Newstart. Multiple heavily armoured and maximised deflector shield platforms crumbled. They did so only after releasing their volleys of antimatter and nova weapon batteries. Any DEN warships that remained from earlier encounters also stood the line. But within the week, the last defence was gone.

Bombardment of Wolf Lair starbase proceeded without further resistance from the Dewiek. ARC Plasmas ripped through starbase shields. They demolished tens of thousands of factories and research facilities. The ARC demolished the huge military recruitment and training facilities on the planet. Over half a million trained troops evacuated from deep bunkers, leaving a token ground defence.

The ARC were not satisfied to burn the facilities and murder the workers. They deployed repeated salvos of their Virus Bombs on the wider population. Reports began to arrive of civilians of the world regressing. Leaving settlements and returning to nature. Much as the Dewiek found themselves some decades ago when they started to recover from the First Great ARC-DEN War. This time there was no High Lord Magnus willing to obliterate the world to save a remnant of the people. Newstart was already lost.

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Newstart is lost

 
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  Star Date: 221.27.2

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RAGNAROK APPROACHES

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End Game Lost

A short-lived period of peace followed the Dewiek Elder Nation’s historic and Saga-worthy defence against the Architect Planet Killers. A handful of the more typically encountered ARC ships were spotted picking off DEN support ships in Forlorn Hope before more than forty of them appeared back in End Game.

While the ARC “Adult” class ships, as the DEN had previously classified them, were eight times smaller than the “Planet Killers”, they were still as big as the largest ships any other species has managed to produce. Including the otherwise technologically advanced Dewiek.

Forty-four of these Plasma armed organic vessels smashed through the DEN forces left circling the orbit of Beacon, End Game. The mass of ARC weapons bombarded the DEN Shipyards at Ragnorak with their superheated ionized gas, razing the entire outpost to the ground.

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ARC Plasma weapons devastate End Game

 
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  Star Date: 221.22.5

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RAGNAROK BECKONS

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Assault on End Game

The ancient Architects have declared war on the Dewiek Elder Nation. The first sign of the conflict was subspace transmissions in a remote system in the Pocket Periphery. This followed reports that the ancient Ragnarok shipyards on Beacon were malfunctioning. In response, the Wolf Mother sent urgent orders to several Dewiek scout ships to patrol the End Game system.

The Konungr Smidamadr was the first to encounter the gigantic, “Planet Killer” class ARC ships. Measuring in at thirty-two hundred heavy hulls and armed with a hundred ARC plasma weapons, the ship was more like a mobile armed platform. It is certainly the largest vessel ever recorded. The scout ship was vaporised instantly.

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ARC Planet Killer dwarves largest DEN warships

 
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  Star Date: 221.11.4

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Caste Apart

The Flagritz Republic is (very nearly) no more. In its place, a single Hexamon and Flagritz power has arisen. The new Collective has absorbed much of the Flagritz holdings with only a handful of Clique-caste Flagritz systems choosing instead to align with the other Elder species, the Dewiek.

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Flagritz and Hexamon Hybrids - A hope for the Future?

 
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  Star Date: 221.3.3

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Meklanmania

Meklan scout ships continue to be seen around the Orion Spur periphery. These cyborg creatures in service of hidden ancient masters appear to be terrorising the Wimble Nation in particular. Despite public lamentations against the hardship of defending themselves, the Wimble leadership have not yet responded to our request for comment.

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Artist's impression of a Meklanised Wimble

However, Xavier Fox, CEO of Galactic Transport and Trade, did give us the following statement:

“We have engaged several Meklan ships, although currently the source has not been identified. GTT Directors have been running patrols and have engaged and destroyed numerous ships that have attacked outlying outposts belonging to different affiliations. The pattern of ships encountered leads us to believe there is a central source, but until that is found we would suggest any affiliation with assets in the area provide adequate defences.”

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Doomsday On Pause

At the site of the Thete anomaly, the Dewiek Nation has sent media sensation Sharon Aleman to the scene. Aleman, whose cybernetic enhancements allow her to directly interface with her ship’s sensor array, led her hardened crew into a dive of the outermost “edge” of the anomaly. After spending several days collecting and analysing data (mere minutes to the rest of us outside the anomaly), Aleman reported her shocking discoveries.

 
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  Star Date: 220.50.5

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Veil Lifted on Flagritz Home Space

As the Hellcadium ISR field continues to fluctuate, one of the newly exposed systems is Junista inside the previously hidden and inaccessible home periphery of the Flagritz Republic.

Over the past few weeks Flagritz Republic patrols and platforms have dealt with a number of scout ships from the Human Empire as the IMP wasted no time in exploiting this opportunity to poke around in their old enemy’s backyard. It is understood that at least one of these unarmed scouts was destroyed with no one willing to estimate how many more might be buzzing around.

Coincidentally, suspected IMP lackey, SSL TOAD, has also been overheard showing an obsessive interest in the Flagritz periphery. However, we have received no reports of this being anything other than his usual drug-fueled, barely decipherable mutterings at this stage.

Either way, this sudden, uninvited interest in the Flagritz Periphery has left the FLZ leadership muttering darkly about appropriate measures being taken. Defensive fleets and supporting structures are being deployed in the Junista system and beyond in expectation of further uninvited guests.

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When You stare into the Flagritz Periphery...

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Thete's Timey-Wimey Tease

Investigation into the Thete anomaly continued in the Dewiek Pocket Periphery. The anomaly was scanned from all angles by a number of the Dewiek Nation’s best sensor ships and officers. The data, collected over several weeks, was sent to one of the DEN’s most advanced scientific laboratories for analysis.

What they found will shock you!

 

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