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Developments for 2015

Developments for 2015

For those with a Nexus account, greater details can be found in the Rules, both under the 2014 Pubmeet for new additions and the bulk of Character information in the 2011 pubmeet.

2015 is the year we seek to tidy up the loose ends of Phoenix and really get down to flattening the learning cliff but at the same time add long-term depth and luring back former players and catching the attention of completely new players.

Here is presented an abbreviated list of things that we will be focusing on:

Player Recruitment
We have already outlined improvements to the UI. Further to this and with the understanding that any reduction in turn fees in certain areas may require balancing to remain financially stable, we will review costs to play the game and the limits of free-play. Key features of this overhaul:
  • Tightening signing up procedure - there are steps in the process that could be clearer as discovered by a review of where players stop when signing up.
  • Pulling sign-ups back to the site - need things to pull players back to the site over the first few days to check results, get more things moving - email/SNS.
  • More Initial Missions - tutorial style with stellar rewards, officer experience, access to ships. These will include tasks such as contacting affiliations, signing bonus for joining an affiliation and posting on the recruitment forum.
  • Advertising - we have already identified sites that list games along with voting protocols. These have response hooks back to the origin of the vote. Include links on Nexus to allow players to vote and get in-game rewards (a thousand stellars is a big deal to a new player).
  • Free Basic Political - The old arguments against this are no longer salient.
  • More Political Perks for Upgrades - Give big reasons to upgrade and remain upgraded. Monthly fees to be applied to prevent swapping and changing political level.
  • Android and Iphone App - initially these will receive push SNS's of (Red) notifications and PM's. Give a reason to download the app such as a stellar bonus. Make the benefit of the download clear on signing up.
  • Event Notifications - things happen to politicals (or at least the position they are in). Offers of a good trade deal such as BP's or hi-tech goods, information about an anomaly, chance to buy a nice ship. These may be in the form of mission tags. Always a Red Notification and pushed through phone app.




The Political Package

As politicals are essential for playing Phoenix, they have historically formed a barrier to getting into the game by those that are initially unwilling to pay to play. To remove this we will make them free to play but including Political upgrade options to discourage current players from downgrading to free politicals:

  • Political - 10k Bonus on creation (and 5 ships) - but need the KJC account - free
  • The Budget Package - Pol + Starbase + 2k/week + 2 free Updates/week (and 10 ships) - £2.50/week
  • Pol Upgrade - one-off 200k bonus on upgrade + 10k/week + 5 Updates/week - £2/week
  • Pol Upgrade - 10k/week + 20k weekly troop wage subsidy +15 updates/week - £3/week
  • Pol Upgrade - 20k/week + 50k weekly troop wage subsidy + unlimited updates/week - £4/week

Upgrade to politiical also include upgrade to in-game political support, i.e. better contacts with civilians and backers. A free political for example may only get the occasional offer of a few trained troops for purchase from civilian sources whereas a political with the best political support may find out about a few hundred veterans.

The Budget Package:
  • One off package per account and purchased for minimum period of 1 month.
  • Advice on where to build and basic starbase construction will be covered in future IGN articles.
  • The package will also include some authorisations from civilian populations for the following complexes to get the starbase up and running quickly:
    • 5 Command
    • 100 Factory
    • 50 Merch (6700 stellars even on a 80/3 120/30 merch world)
    • 35 Starbase Shields
    • 50 Mines
    • 10 Security



Characters
We have converted all the existing characters to the new framework described a number of years ago. This has required that all the items in the game are databased and instanced correctly and has required a large rework of the existing code. While the actually implementing this kind of thing is relatively easy, making it work in code that was not designed this way 14 years ago is not :) However we now have a system that has all the characters converted to individual items that can carry their own data, so that system can be built on.

We need to expand this so that you can get report on all the characters and submit orders as separate positions. We are going to make it so that you can interact with characters through the positions they are in and via individual orders. This will be achieved via a character tab on the nexus that will keep all the necessary utilities for characters in one place so that they can be happily ignored if that's the way you chose to play them or used to micro manage every detail if you are that way inclined.

We need to create the option to apply a default template to characters along which they automatically develop. This will be a Nexus tool (similar to Position and Base Editor). So when you recruit a character you could select one of these templates and ignore the character as he develops into the role that you hired him/her for. We also need to create a utility to allow you to create these templates so that you can plan out exactly how they will develop. We want to provide all the tools so having characters can be relatively painless but at the same time they can be a whole other aspect to the game.

Agent Networks (for characters)
We will be rewriting all the agent orders so that an agent/operative is more about setting up a network consisting of safe houses and operation centres within a starbase and then using these accumulated assets to interact with the starbase in a more straight forward way. This will not make it more simplistic to cause problems at a starbase but will make it clearer what is required to actually do an action. We will be using notifications to make sure the starbase owner has a clue what is going on but on the other side of things we will be creating false alarms so that a single clue will not bring down everything onto a new operation. We will be stepping far away from the current mechanics of one shot and % success equates to sending in multiple operatives to achieve success.





Missions
Missions are in a very usable state within the game but adding and checking them is very time-consuming. We need an internal debugging process for the missions allowing their results to be checked without requiring a test platform. This will allow Mica to add more missions without having to have to write them 'blind' and having them debugged later by Darak.

Infrastructure
The infrastructure orders are being done entirely in custom code within the game. The underlying custom code engine and interface has been slowly improving stretching the achievable limits of custom code. This has allowed coding of some interesting things that previously would have got bogged down in how much could be done. This organic development as also defined clear and achievable borders for development.

The engine and therefore custom orders will constantly improve. We are adding more features to the orders and more generic features to the custom code, this is allowing the game to evolve without constantly changing to base code.

Improve Utilities and UI
We are going to go through the nexus and see how we can create a bunch of utilities that allow turns to be crafted more easily. We will never remove the standard order editor but there are ways of creating turns that mean that you will never have to see the actual set of orders. These utilities will focus on letting you do what you want to with your assets and not on automating the game. Part of the ideology is that modern gamers are daunted by the old PBM style of issuing orders and this may a big part of the learning cliff.

Currently we are not exactly sure where this is going to go but we need to make the game easier to play the game while not removing the ability to do everything in the game with simple lists of orders. I'll be looking into how the jump/system maps could be improved to help with movement and actions. We will also look to parsing the turns from text into a more interactive format.





 
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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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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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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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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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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.


 

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