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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.




 
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!

 

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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