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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).


 
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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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Control everything, up to an entire empire
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Over 20 years of content development
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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