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360 degree Review - Paradigm Shift

360o Review - Paradigm Shift

At the start of last year during the cold dark days when most people are hibernating, we conducted a fairly thorough analysis of the game looking at trends over years and from this produced what we think were reasonable speculations as to the possible future of the game. We also looked to see if certain concerns players had voiced had merit and to what degree.

The nice discovery was that the game was doing well. The player base, though changing was staying at static levels. We were seeing some affiliations had grown significantly even though others had shrunk. What was interesting though was which factions had grown and where they were active and which had shrunk and where they were most active.

The disconcerting discovery was that there was a distinct divide with the game. The factions that were recruiting, growing and very active were largely based on secret space and expanding further into secret space. It was found that the vast majority of starbases built over the past five years were in secret space and this is despite the addition of Corewards and Orion Spur. Further, the ratio of secret to public starbase was accelerating as public starbases were being dismantled or downgraded to outposts.

We questioned various leaders why they were favouring secret space. The answer was clear. Colonisation of public space meant compromising roleplaying in order to buddy up with aggressive factions or potentially fighting an endless war against dedicated wargamers. Many held the view that this was not viable as the combat system favoured all out aggression. What was very interesting however was those building in secret space felt forced to do so rather than doing so preferentially.

As wargamers want opposition to fight they are also unhappy that factions are primarily expanding into secret space. As such it was looking like without intervention nobody would have the game they wanted. The question raised is what is to be done?

The first thing was simply to define what we wanted. This was fairly obvious:

A rich communal environment where all players can get involved, interact, fight, explore, trade and create legacies. There also needed to be areas where small factions could thrive without large aggressive factions simply using weight of resources to dominate. We are definitely not looking to neuter aggression but want to emphasise projection of power, locus of control, how it can be deployed and diplomatic repercussions.

We realised though that bringing the game in line with the vision shared with the majority of players was neither going to be without issue or quick.

Elephant Hunt

For this to happen we had to first tackle the elephant in the room – ground combat. Not all ground combat, but rather the super-elite form whereby a potentially unlimited size ground party could bypass all orbital defences and bring everything to bear on its target. Up to this point we accepted that dealing with the issue was in the player domain but all we were achieving was pushing one faction into every greater specialisation in waging this kind of combat and everybody on the receiving end out of public space.

The first stage of resolving the issue was simply to render bypassing orbital defences on developed worlds impossible. We introduced planetary shields as part of infrastructure. This feature along with improvements to platforms means that invading a world (starbase) is now a two step operation; dealing with orbital defences then the ground assault. Of course we also had to revisit orbital defences ensuring that they could be up to the task. Players now have the ability to develop some serious defences that are more than just follies that telegraph the actions of the aggressor and give the defenders greater opportunity to play a part other than victim.

As planetary shields potentially only delay the initiation of ground combat we appreciate that the update is however a step along the road, not the destination. We need to reshape ground combat altogether, moving away from the propensity for overwhelming odds in order to achieve near immediate but no less absolute victory. To this end it is our ambition to make combat fun for the defender – no small feat to say the least.

With one eye on the future of ground combat, the second step was to introduce benefits for making space communal rather than exclusive. Unlike the hatchet job on the ability to bypass orbital defence, this is more subtle and can be read about in Living Together (in the next IGN - soon).

Is open for business...
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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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***** Inter Galactic News *****

The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.

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

”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.

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

Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."

******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,

And so with the news,
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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).