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Pubmeet 2013

Pubmeet 2013

As has been increasingly the case, players are arriving earlier in the week for the pubmeet. For those arriving on Wednesday, it has been a leisurely few days of plotting, consumption of fast food and beer (in all its wonderful forms) and board gaming. For some, gone are the days of furious bartering before people get so drunk they dont know their own names let alone remember what they agreed to. For those unable to escape the suspicions of the wife, especially considering Blackpools often seedy reputation, Adam (of GTT fame) has a proof-positive tip invite her along first time round and you will get a free pass ever afterwards.

This years pubmeet though hard work was very enjoyable from our point of view. We had an unprecedented amount of positive feedback both on the recent updates and how the last years updates despite some opposition and inertia to their uptake have shaped the game for the better.

It is somewhat gratifying that our long term view of improving the game had paid off especially when companies with much bigger employee bases and vastly larger turnovers are failing so spectacularly. That said, possibly it is their size and eye on the balance sheet rather than staying true to the ethos that its worth taking flak in order to maintain the integrity of the game is the cause of their downfalls.


What I picked up on was the amount of activity across the game, both in terms of affiliations with their hands full and within all of the Peripheries, from the Inner Empire out to Corewards. Personally speaking I haven't seen this many things running concurrently in some years. It looks like the rise of the alien factions combined with the opening of Corewards has given factions both old and new areas of the game universe to get their teeth into.

Overall, this weekend has proved that we are for the most part heading in the right direction and it is being reflected in the small through steady increase in the player base, something we hope to improve on as we press onwards.

As usual the weekend was broken into three parts, Friday night beers and grand toot talking and Saturday split between a presentation followed by slots for factions to get their private chat with the game developers. By the end of Saturday night I had brain cramp and Darak was virtually scraped of the floor and poured into the waiting taxi.

The Presentation
For the most part the presentation was explaining the reasons and justifications for the developments as outlined in the rules. I will present a quick breakdown of them here.

Development Plan
This covered all the areas we intend work on in no particular order. The primary point of interest here was Contagions. A question raised by one of the players, Isnt this just going to be a pain in the arse, one which I would be happy to do without. This was received with much head nodding by other players. I explained that over the years we regularly get requests by players looking to research plague bombs and means of inflicting misery on other factions through viral warfare. When asked, who amongst the audience wants them in the game to develop such things there was a unanimous show of hands, including the chap raising the question.
Need I go on?

Not mentioned at the meet is that the contagion development has other benefits outside nasties as they utilise a vector mechanic that will be used to propagate information (rumours) and even transporting operatives through probability instances (a modest application of quantum mechanics).

Infrastructure
So, those big boys in their shielded fortresses can impose their will on you across space and you cant touch them bah. Wouldnt it be good to kick the smug bastards in their coffers? Dropping a few bombs on civilian populations would quickly bring them to the negotiating table or force them to extend their defences to cover all those women, children and eggs with great wealth comes great outlays.
Then there are the dark corners of the universe with their primeval gardens, ripe for colonisation. Wouldnt it be nice to replace the current method of using special actions to build up the civilian population and establish planetary infrastructure with a few standard orders?

The presentation effectively gave a bullet point explanation of development stages and what was needed to achieve them. This document though newly typed up is actually a refined version of the various ad hoc methods employed over the years as players have attempted to increase their merchandising and trade on various under developed worlds.

It was confirmed as it was not specifically stated in the document that once added to the game these civilian populations would also be susceptible to contagions.

Infrastructure being back on the table was to some peoples amusement. We explained that last time around, besides the description being somewhat fluffy, the primary obstacle was access to the data this sort of project would generate. The idea of generating world reports for email did not seem sensible. This required us to develop Nexus and all the ensuing features that were essential simply to make the game playable online. It was pointed out that now everybody uses Nexus to some degree and it has become an indispensable part of the game.

The main difference between this presentation and the previous incarnation is that this is very much both player driven but more importantly, easily implemented. In fact the values were used in the development of the established populations of Corewards.

Government
If infrastructure is considered the bare bones of a developing civilian colony, government is what gives it an identity. These can be considered the game-maintained counterpart to player controlled affiliations. As profiles defined by affiliations list what they will and wont do in various circumstances (such as use slaves or nuke civilian worlds) along with attitudes to other affiliations via the relations mechanics, so too governments have profiles and relations.

The government of a world may enhance or restrict affiliation assets on the world, lending them troops or denying them merchandising amongst other things and if you dont like the government, there will be means of changing them through persuasion or by more confrontational approaches.

The main points beyond the types of government was that certain styles of government took longer to establish than others and the list presented was neither exhaustive, nor covered variations appropriate to the counterparts of specific affiliations.


We gave an example whereby the Flagritz Empire may be closer to a feudal society despite its name. It may however invade a world and establish a temporary dictatorship style of government termed Martial Law and then over time move towards the Flagritz Empire by moving in its slaver overlords.

Old Stuff
Following the presentation and fielding various questions beyond the scope of the presentation, we returned to the development plan and rather than dictating the order in which we were going to go through the list, we opened it up to some degree (there are things that have to go in before others). The consensus (to my personal surprise) was to code characters sooner rather than later. It was pointed out that armed with the data in the infrastructure presentation, players now had an idea of what they were aiming for and as such they could easily continue using special actions as developing worlds was not overly widespread at the moment. Characters however opened up a lot for the vast majority of players, presuming that there was no need to run vast numbers of them.

Conclusion
It has been a busy time since, working on the extensive list raised during the private chat section of the pubmeet though we now have a clearer picture of what will be coded in which order and intend to release some of the features early in the New Year. Top of the list is incentives for introducing new players to the game, closely followed by contagions.



 
News
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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  Star Date: 220.45.1

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Perfidion Reached

Long speculated by theoretical Stellar Cartographers, Perfidion Reach finally opened in the last few weeks. Immediately, the Detinus Republic boldly staked a claim on the first accessible system, Hellcadium. Only time will tell the true value of this strategic move but their much-taunted bureaucracy may have finally proved its worth.

Early reports from scans of the system reveal a wildly fluctuating ISR field. Rumours suggest that at least one ship was destroyed as it was forced into an asteroid belt chasing a stable jump field attempting to exit the system. Casual travellers are warned away from the system at this time for their own safety. Leave it to skilled explorers and navigation officers.

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Mathematical model of Hellcadium ISR Field.

We spoke to Captain Zakiyah Ummahi via subspace link. Zakiyah led the first DEN expedition into the Perfidion Reach. "Spirits remain high but this is largely down to the extended R&R we were all forced to take immediately prior to jumping into this hole. Initial scouting reports show at least one planet with plenty of forests and grasslands which might help if we're going to be stuck here for Folkvar knows how long waiting for this damned ISR field to stabilise."

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Valhalla Stargate Reopens

Dewiek engineers and scientists have finally managed to re-enable Stargate Valgrind this week and the protective Exclusion Zone is to be lifted. If DEN investigators discovered who caused the gate to malfunction, or why, they were not willing to share it with us. Military sources, however, have announced a project to provide a significant boost to the already formidable defence platform in the stargate’s orbit.

 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***

Empire - DEN action grinds to a halt

After months of tension relations between the Empire and the Dewiek Nation, which rose to several large scale fleet actions ending in the DEN losing over 60 Direwolf warships in Solo, things appear to have moved from antagonistic to unfriendly. With the Solo system being a particular issue an agreement has been reached between the Wolf Mother of the DEN and Xavier Fox of the GTT. Since this things have become very quiet, not just because the shooting has stopped, but also because my reporters have been on their summer holidays.
 
News For Discerning Naplians!
---- Special Galactic Edition ----



(The Host sits at his desk as the studio lights dim, and a single spotlight bathes him in light. He looks straight into the camera and begins to speak: )

Host: Naambta!
Good Greetings, and welcome to the show.

This is News for Discerning Naplians, and i’m sure you are all showing much impatience to see this week’s Panel Discussion. We will be discussing religion with the Lady Ghadir of the Temple of Ya Zoon, renowned neo-naplian spiritualist Chairman TonTon, and a very special guest from our imperial neighbours, Bishop Samantha Porteus of the Brotherhood. But before we get to that...

(Looks demonstratively at his digital wrist watch. )

... it is time for a word from our sponsor.
 

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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).
-Zigic