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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.

Beer
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.

Presentation
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.

Blackpool
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.





 
News
Is open for business...
 
******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 new home in the Heartland,

And so with the news from the last few weeks,
 
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*** Inter Galactic News ***
  • DEN assault FEL base and get wiped out
  • CIA Trade fleet caught and destroyed by the DEN
  • Krell denounce worship of the True One

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

    Huge fleet skirmish at the London/Crossley wormhole

    A large fleet of over 700 DEN warships responded to the EMP action in Crossley, where a 4000 hull DEN platform was destroyed. Reports show the DEN ships caught a group of CIA ships napping and inflicted significant losses on the humans. IMP and GTT fleets moved to assist the CIA, matching DEN fleet numbers, but the arrival of over 1200 Hexamon ships seems to have tipped the battle in favour of the DEN-HEX alliance.

    The combined DEN-HEX force pushed through the wormhole into the Heartland area of human space and retaliated, attacking several CIA platforms in response. The outnumbered Empire fleets abandoned the area and fled, they are currently waiting for the larger alien force to make their next move from their hiding places.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Admiral Lord Simms killed after a long and distinguished service to the Empire.

    The Imperial Services have intercepted and serious damaged several DEN ships on the way to the Empire’s home systems. Unfortunately during the action Admiral Lord Simms was injured and reports from the Viceroy indicate he has passed away, fighting the enemies of the Empire like any true Imperial Officer.

    The Viceroy has stated that the officers and crew of the DEN ships have been captured and are now awaiting trial at a secret IMP base.

    DEN continue to strike at the Empire

    Reports are coming in of multiple engagements between the Empire and the Dewiek Elder Nation over the last week. With several battles taking out Empire ships in the Heartland of the CIA.

    AFT turn to piracy

    The Association of Free Traders have, after a long history of neutrality, turned to piracy this week. AFT Drake boarded an IND ship in the Halo periphery, killing several of the crew in the process.
    Independent trader Jarlebanke Langhofdi immediately took to the public communication channel demanding an answer to why supposedly peaceful traders had killed his crew and taken his ship.

    The AFT remain silent over the attack.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    Combat Special Edition

    Since the DEN started shooting at those lovable FEL fluffballs things have certainly been heating up. So we through it would be prudent to bring you, gentle beings of the peripheries, a special edition in order to keep you updated with all the latest action in regards to who the DEN are shooting and who is shooting them.

    Felini strike back at Dewiek

    Reports have come in of the FEL striking back at the DEN in the Kallisan system. A huge FEL force supported by the IMP and CIA assaulted DEN positions taking both the platform and base called Lucien. There was much rejoicing in the FEL camp as the Felini proved they were not such lovable fluffballs after all!

    GTT get sucked into the war

    A passing fleet of GTT warships got caught in the fighting and this saw the GTT enter the war. When asked about this CEO Fox pointed out they are not warships at all, they are trade defence ships. So how they came to be in the DEN system of Kallisan is a mystery to us. But the GTT CEO was clear that they only engaged using support and defend orders to protect allies. Needless to say, the CEO commented “We found ourselves on the Dewiek Nation’s enemy lists pretty soon after.”

    Dewiek Nation attacks GTT positions in Orion Spur, breaking DOM system rules

    A fleet of DEN warships has engaged and destroyed a significant number of GTT cargo ships and escorts in the DOM system Monument. The GTT immediately took to the public channels to ask why the DOM were not doing something. In reply the DOM issued a statement to stop, which the DEN ignored.

    The DEN newssheet "The HOWL" published a completely unbiased review of the attack shortly after.

    DOM make a choice

    After the above incident and then further raiding by the DEN, taking out a few GTT cargo ships in the DOM system of Coptuv, the DOM seemed to have been faced with a choice of stopping drinking their tea and doing something or just hoping it would go away. Instead they seem to have decided to abandon the whole idea of being an active affiliation and we have since folded. The lengths some people will go to not to have their elevenses disturbed is truly staggering. We asked the DOM for a statement on their new system rules to share with our readers but have received no replies.

    DOM positions share out

    Just as we were going to press news has come in of various DOM assets being given to other affiliations or sold. Hopefully we will have more on this story in the next issue of your favorite factual newsheet. Yes, that's us at the SSS.

    *** Affiliations ***


    AFT Association of Free Traders (54) - Marion Tweedy
    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) - Urd
    DOM Dominion (57) – we believe the DOM are now inactive
    FCN Falconian Republic (70) - Bacran
    FEL Felini Tyranny (49) - Juris
    FLZ Flagritz Republic (47) - Kayxaer
    FET Frontier Exploration & Trade (56) - Cu Chulainn
    GRC Gracians (13) - HG1
    GTT Galactic Trade & Transport (52) - Xavier Fox
    GCE Garcia Enterprises (4) - Neil
    HEX Hexamon (23) - Ando
    IMP Imperial Services (51) - Jack Jones
    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
    MIC Mohache Independent Commune (76) - Sleeps with Dragons
    NLF Naplian Liberation Front (38) - NLFHQ
    RIP Regularly Involved in Piracy - Githyanki
    RRH Roy Robert Holdings (39) - Roy Roberts
    SMS Stellar Mining and Smelting (53) - MikhailM
    USN Ulian Stellar Nation (34) - Oeipus Prime
    WMB Wimble Nations (25) - zz

    * Leader MAY be inactive, affiliation may be active
    ** Affiliation has no leader but this is the only known contact

    NPC / FoC: ARC, CIV, CGT, FRE, HBO, HEF, IND, ISP, JCN, MEK, MRC, PIR, PRV, TCA, TRN, KAS

    Inactive: ANT, BHD, COD, HVE, IDC, RIP, RCF, SKW, TAG

    Deceased: CAL

    *** Submission ***

    By private message to The Editor or via Mica if you prefer to remain anonymous.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****

    New pirate threat rocks Corward Arm.

    Several large pirate ships have been spotted in outer rings of Corward systems. Reports forwarded to us at the SSS allow us to exclusively tell readers that traders should keep their wits about them when moving through these areas.

    No existing pirate menace has yet claimed ownership.

    In a possibly unrelated event one of the FET cartel members claimed nothing was happening in the outer ring of Coptov shortly afterwards. But it could be that they are still trying to catch Empire backed pirates and have nothing to do with the new sightings.
     
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    ***** Inter Galactic News *****


    DEN continue to shoot innocents

    The Dewiek have made themselves busy shooting at the peaceful and innocent traders of the SSL. Leader of Solar Spices and Liquors Mr TOAD has been vocal pointing out that the Beast-DEN are being totally unfair. News of a go-fund-me appeal are yet to surface though.

    This office is sure that it must have provided the DEN light relief after picking on the equally defenceless Felini. Word is that the DEN faced such an uphill struggle in these recent actions they had to take up Felini inter-breeding to provide some entertainment as the battle reports were rather boring.
     
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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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    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