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Latest Release

Latest Release

While the full list of updates, changes and bullet pointed effects (of which there are 134) can be found in the rules, I thought it useful to share some of the background thought processes behind the latest release, in specific the three major updates for boarding (and raiding), mining, slavery and notifications. For those that read the IGN but dont play who are wondering where the rules are as they cannot find a link, thats because you havent registered and logged in. Of course we would be delighted if you chose this time to register and join the game.

Boarding
In the game the act of boarding a freighter has always been incredibly tough, requiring a lot of patience and even more skill. So much so that for the most part it is by far easier to actually build a ship than it is board one even when there seems to be so many wandering through the Peripheries with no escorts.

Prior to the update, to successfully board, first of all an intended target needed to be spotted then specific orders to board the target had to be submitted for the next day. A simple procedure used by many traders was to simply keep moving, therefore cutting down the chances of either being spotted or still being around when the would-be pirate showed up. Another tactic is to make short runs between safe locations. This is achieved by mapping the time between the safe locations and using the Wait for TUs order to ensure that the ship only moves when sufficient TUs are available.

Even if somebody cocked up and left a ship stranded for more than a day, a pirate or other vessel intent on boarding, there was still the issue with the actual boarding itself. A would-be pirate runs the gauntlet of fire as it engages without being able to counter. Even after this theres still the defending crew to face. All in all few in the history of the game have made a success of piracy.

Having analysed the issue we drew the following conclusions:
Needing to know the target before committing to board severely weakened piracy.
It is important to specify the sorts of ships against which boarding actions are carried out.
Getting away with the boarded ship could be problematic especially if multiple ships arrived looking to counter-board it had chance to move away.
Even though a ship dropped cargo to flee, hanging around to pick up the cargo was rarely sensible.

Auto-boarding
We addressed the primary points in the above list through orders that specified the sorts of ships that would be boarded when scanned as the shipped moved through space and where a successful boarding was conducted, the submission of orders to the captured vessel, allowing them to immediately move away to a convenient rendezvous.
The development included raiding, the ability to run a partial boarding action in order to liberate the cargo of the boarded ship. When developing the code however it was discovered that the design of ship capable of successfully raiding would not have sufficient cargo to actually bag what it had gained. To this end the development extended to include boarding craft. One of the designs included swag bags called boarding nets. This allows lighter craft to take a boarding/raiding craft along with them in order to perpetrate the boarding while the lighter vessel stands off, ready to receive either prisoners or cargo.

Mining
In some older parts of the game universe mines are beginning to run dry! Special actions have been carried out to tap deeper deposits through we have always envisioned giving mining a makeover. To this end we introduced three new ways of mining beyond the standard method. The first two simply look at the standard mining program, either looking to excavate great big holes to get at the largest veins, ripping through the lesser ones along with the slag. This increases the yield but reduces the stockpile at a quicker rate relative to the amount of ore extracted. The opposite method is also now an option, sacrificing yield for every grain of ore, including the ones normally dumped with the slag.
Finally there is deep core mining, which differs from the above two alternatives in that it does not actually involve the deposit but rather seeks out new deposits that can be exploited along with the surface deposit by seeking out veins that are deep underground.

Another aspect of mining that we expanded on was the replenishing and improving of existing deposits. This is generally a replacement to special actions that have been utilised over the years. A typical example is using a blueprint to replenish an exhausted stockpile by identifying lesser veins. This option increases stockpiles though at a cost to the yield.

Slaves
Thankfully good roleplaying has prevailed over the years ensuring that the use of slaves has by and large remained the domain of only a few affiliations who have historically been predisposed to using them. This said, we were very much conscious that the capability of exploited them (from a game mechanics perspective rather than the moral issue) meant that it was a Sword of Damocles that needed addressing.



As we had already covered the accepted use or not via profiles, all that was needed was accounting for this and when this did not quite balance the books in some cases, various other tweaks including though not limited to the introduction of proto-governments (see the Pubmeet article in this issue) for a few pro-slave factions.

All this makes for some very interesting situations that are now identifiable rather than being confined to only being discoverable through special actions.

Notifications
In a nutshell, it is simply the informing of a player on the front page of Nexus when something vaguely significant has happened in-game with a colour flag

While on the face of it, this can sound quite a modest change to the game, it has far reaching consequences and as has been something we have been looking to implement for a long time. While a half-baked option has always been possible, in the long run it would require more effort to increase the variety of notifications such as message from the GM or even missions. Further, this update also re-tailored the front page allowing sections to be easily shrunk. For PC viewing this is of little benefit but with ever more people viewing turns and forums on mobile devices, this makes moving to the right area of the home page much simpler. Despite the vast amounts of data that is now accessible from the home page there has been negligible decrease in loading speed something I suspect many larger companies could learn a thing or two from.





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

Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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***** Inter Galactic News *****

Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 

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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