Aurora 4x

Fiction => Starfire => Topic started by: coldsteel on September 08, 2007, 09:21:18 PM

Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: coldsteel on September 08, 2007, 09:21:18 PM
[quote="
Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 09, 2007, 04:42:06 PM
Quote from: "coldsteel"
May be time to try again with Baen, with the success of White & Weber's Starfire novels. Casually let 'slip' that they use the Starfire system; of course, with Jim Baen dying last year-ish, who knows?

I would be careful about that. When Marvin published ISW4, which was work David Weber had done before Marvin bought Starfire, he was breaking Weber's copyright. David Weber got involved but decided not to sue because he believed Marvin had made an honest mistake and wasn't deliberately stealing his work, or at least believed he was stealing it legally because he had bought Starfire. He made a long post along these lines on Baen's bar several years ago. Its a good thing for Marvin that David Weber was so understanding. Which incidentally makes the amount of unsubstantiated fuss Marvin made about SA breaking his copyright (after ten years of allowing it) seem more than a little hypocritical.

When I was involved in creating the Unified Rules, I exchanged some emails with David Weber, partly to explain what we were doing and partly because I was concerned about putting his original work into a new document, as well as any extended background based on that work. He was pleased to see Third edition being kept alive, as he wasn't happy with the direction that Fourth was going (and said so in his Baen post). His view was that the books now constituted a separate Starfire universe from the one in the game so we could create whatever additional background we liked as long as we didn't use any of the characters from his books.

Its probably best to bear that restriction in mind in any Starfire-related stories that you write and it also might be worth trying to contact David Weber or Steve White to check they don't mind you trying to sell a Starfire story. David Weber may not read the story because some authors try to avoid sub-conciously picking up ideas that they may get sued about later but he might ask someone at Baen to read it. Worth a try at least :)

Its probably worth informing Marvin too as the copyright situation is a little confused, Bear in mind what he says may not represent the actual legal situation as he is still telling people he is planning to sue me (as of a couple of weeks ago) and that's why 3rd edition is no longer on sale. However, he might see a Starfire story as good publicity and try to help you get it published

Steve
Title:
Post by: Þórgrímr on September 09, 2007, 05:14:18 PM
Well thats the whole thing Steve, My Romans in space are NOT Starfire, the fiction was based on a campaign of Starfire, and thats why I came up with ships, names and all the various sundry items needed to create your own universe. I did not want to have to deal with IP and copyright headaches.  :D

And I think you can see, the only remote mentioning of anything Starfire is the HET's, but they can be changed witha swift edit in word.  :D  I purposefully kept the weapons generic enough so that there was no impinging on copyright. All my sweat went into the details of my Romans and the background of their universe.

But if you have read anything in my stuff that would indicate otherwise, please by all means, let me know so I can change it.




Cheers,
Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: Kurt on September 09, 2007, 06:16:16 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Its probably worth informing Marvin too as the copyright situation is a little confused, Bear in mind what he says may not represent the actual legal situation as he is still telling people he is planning to sue me (as of a couple of weeks ago) and that's why 3rd edition is no longer on sale. However, he might see a Starfire story as good publicity and try to help you get it published

Steve


Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  

Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  

Kurt
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Post by: coldsteel on September 10, 2007, 12:00:07 AM
Aren't HETs from SFB...? :)

Also, same here about the majordomo list.
Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 10, 2007, 05:12:55 AM
Quote from: "Kurt"
Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  
I don't think he ever intended to sue me. I think it just makes a convenient excuse for why he stopped selling 3rd edition. The most charitable 'real' reason I can find for the decision to stop selling 3rdR was to try and get people to finally abandon 3rd and move on to fourth instead, which Marvin obviously believed was the long-term future of Starfire. Although I was obviously annoyed and upset at the time, I now look back and realise that, in a way, Marvin was the driving force behind Aurora. Without all that upset I wouldn't have created a new game which is my own design (with a lot of help :)), rather than a assistant program for someone else's game. I can also make much faster progress with Aurora than SA because I am creating something specifically for PC, not trying to create a computer-based boardgame based on rules not designed for the PC.

Even before the final row, I had started to add optional rules to SA that were impossible without computer support and I know that was one of Marvin's primary worries. Because of the number of people using SA to play 3rdR, he felt SA had more control over the 3rdR rules than he did, which was probably a justifiable and understandable concern. He had already forbidden any type of tactical game within SA because of the Digital Gamers contract (anyone know what happened there btw?) so I think a row over SA was probably inevitable even without the flare-up over the Unified Rules.

Quote
Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  

I am not on the Starfire list so I can't confirm this. However, isn't there an archive somewhere? That might have the answer. Also, Mathhew Siedl runs the Starfire list so he may know what's going on if someone has his email address.

Steve
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Post by: Þórgrímr on September 10, 2007, 10:31:24 AM
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Aren't HETs from SFB...? :wink:




Cheers,
Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: Kurt on September 10, 2007, 11:58:25 AM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Too bad.  I would have thought that Marvin would have given up on that subject a long time ago.  Of course, I haven't spoken with him directly in a long time.  
I don't think he ever intended to sue me. I think it just makes a convenient excuse for why he stopped selling 3rd edition. The most charitable 'real' reason I can find for the decision to stop selling 3rdR was to try and get people to finally abandon 3rd and move on to fourth instead, which Marvin obviously believed was the long-term future of Starfire.  

As much as I loved 3rd, I had advised Marvin several times that he should have dropped 3rd completely once fourth came out, making a clean break.  By continuing to support 3rd he was diluting the brand, and I believed it would eventually lead to a schismatic break, which is exactly what happened.  This was just after the release of the 4th edition, when it was not really clear how much support either version had.  I believe that after the events that led to the disbanding/destruction of the 3rd Design Group, Marvin decided to belatedly implement this advice, but of course by then it was too late.  Thbe schism had happened, and a lot of people that had clung to 3rd, and even some 4th Ed. people got upset and dropped out.    

Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Although I was obviously annoyed and upset at the time, I now look back and realise that, in a way, Marvin was the driving force behind Aurora. Without all that upset I wouldn't have created a new game which is my own design (with a lot of help :)), rather than a assistant program for someone else's game. I can also make much faster progress with Aurora than SA because I am creating something specifically for PC, not trying to create a computer-based boardgame based on rules not designed for the PC.

Even before the final row, I had started to add optional rules to SA that were impossible without computer support and I know that was one of Marvin's primary worries. Because of the number of people using SA to play 3rdR, he felt SA had more control over the 3rdR rules than he did, which was probably a justifiable and understandable concern. He had already forbidden any type of tactical game within SA because of the Digital Gamers contract (anyone know what happened there btw?) so I think a row over SA was probably inevitable even without the flare-up over the Unified Rules.

As you note, Marvin was in a difficult position, albeit one largely of his own making.  With SA only available for 3rd, 4th had a difficult time competing, at least among a certain segment of the market.  Fourth really needed its own computer assistant to make it viable, a fact that Marvin admitted at some point, but ultimately he also admitted that he did not have the time or skills to program it, and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

What he really should have done was get you (Steve) or someone like you on board during the development of 4th to modify SA for 4th and release as an "Official" supplement.  Unfortunately, he was too focused on the release of 4th itself, and subsequent to the release, when it became clear how popular SA was, his relationship with you was too bad to make it work.  Also, by that time, Marvin was distracted by the online gaming issue, which he believed to be the future of Starfire.  

I checked the Starfire Online site, and it appears that the last time it was updated was 03/06.

Please NOTE that none of the above speaks as to who was right or wrong in the entire blowup, or motivations, and it is not an invitation to rehash the whole stupid event.  

Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Is anyone else here on the Starfire list?  I haven't received any mail from it since early August, which I hadn't realized until just now.  I got the Majordomo auto-mailing at the start of September that confirmed that I was still subscribed.  
I am not on the Starfire list so I can't confirm this. However, isn't there an archive somewhere? That might have the answer. Also, Mathhew Siedl runs the Starfire list so he may know what's going on if someone has his email address.

Steve


I was hoping someone here was on the list.  I poked around the links that came with my subscription e-mail and didn't find anything, I suppose I could look a little harder.  

Kurt

Edit: PS: If anyone has any questions about the demise of 3rd Ed., or comments, I am more than happy to discuss it via private e-mail.  I will not discuss it further here, as the subject is explosive and public discussions in the past tended to devolve into flame wars.  

E-mail me at Phoenix2350@ssctv.net
Title: Re: Siliconate War
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 10, 2007, 03:41:52 PM
Quote from: "Kurt"
As you note, Marvin was in a difficult position, albeit one largely of his own making.  With SA only available for 3rd, 4th had a difficult time competing, at least among a certain segment of the market.  Fourth really needed its own computer assistant to make it viable, a fact that Marvin admitted at some point, but ultimately he also admitted that he did not have the time or skills to program it, and couldn't afford to pay anyone to do it.  

What he really should have done was get you (Steve) or someone like you on board during the development of 4th to modify SA for 4th and release as an "Official" supplement.  Unfortunately, he was too focused on the release of 4th itself, and subsequent to the release, when it became clear how popular SA was, his relationship with you was too bad to make it work.  Also, by that time, Marvin was distracted by the online gaming issue, which he believed to be the future of Starfire.  

That was really the crux of Marvin's problem. When 4th first came out, I was excited to see a new edition and before I had really gone through the rules, I posted on the list that I would start work on a Galactic Starfire Assistant (for free of course). That idea was quickly shot down by Cralis, who was part of the SDS at the time and insisted that new software would be created in-house by the SDS and they didn't want me to work on any 4th software. I am not sure how much effect that really had on the lack of 4th edition software. Although it obviously annoyed me, once I had gone through the rules properly there were a lot of things about 4th I didn't like (which I won't rehash here) so I probably wouldn't have created a new program anyway.

The problem for Marvin, which I don't think he or Cralis really ever appreciated, was that I had put a LOT of work into Starfire Assistant over perhaps ten years and it was a very large and complex program. The two things that kept me going through all that time were how much I enjoyed playing 3rd edition Starfire and how much I enjoyed being part of the community that had grown up around 3rdR and SA. There is no way that Marvin could realistically have paid me (or anyone else) for that amount of work. Starfire just doesn't generate that kind of money. The reality is that a program with the depth of Starfire Assistant will never be commercially written for a game as niche as Starfire because it is not even close to a commercially viable proposition.

When you looked at the other products produced by Digigamers, such as Fish Pond, Dominoes, Cribbage, etc., it seemed blindingly obvious that neither they nor Marvin/Cralis had any real appreciation of the amount of work involved in a Starfire program, or at least a Starfire program that bore any resemblance to the boardgame. Digigamers underestimated the task because they presumably didn't understand the depth of the rules and Marvin/Cralis underestimated it because they aren't programmers. However, I assume none of this was apparent to them at the time, which is why they kept insisting that Digigamers would produce something.

What Marvin needed was someone similar to me who liked 4th edition and would put the same amount of free effort into an SA equivalent for 4th. However, that person had to have the necessary programming skills, the necessary design skills (which are very different to programming skills), an obsessive-compulsive personality :), lots of free time, a willingness to put in hundreds, probably thousands, of development hours for free and provide free on-going support. They would also need an enjoyment of playing 4th edition Starfire that would continue to motivate them for several years at least. Although there must be 4th edition players with some of those qualifiers, finding someone with all of them was extremely unlikely. Will Gore was probably his best bet and I think he did start some early work on a 4th assistant.

It really must have been a difficult dilemma for Marvin. The existence of Starfire Assistant was probably a major factor (although my no means the only one) in making it difficult for 4th edition to gain real momentum but he had got himself into the situation with some bad decisions, which unfortunately would not have been obvious based on his subjective knowledge of the situation at the time. However, even if he had realised the problem in time, he was still stuck with the existence of SA, my dislike of 4th edition, a lack of suitable people to build a 4th assistant and no viable commercial path out of the situation.

If I was in his situation at the time, then banning further updates to SA and stopping the sale of 3rdR might have looked like a good way out of the mess, because that would take away what he believed was the main reason players were sticking with 3rd. However, because of the game play issues I don't think he was ever going to drag a majority of the 3rdR players into playing fourth. Now I am looking back without any of the emotion of the time, I can see Marvin was in a very difficult situation and I can even have a little sympathy for him.

However, I believe two different decisions might have made things easier. Firstly, it might have been worth finding out from Starfire players what they liked about 3rd edition and what they didn't like before creating 4th edition. He effectively created a new game in secret based on his own views of the deficiencies in 3rdR and his vision of how Starfire should be played and then released it. While that was certainly his perogative as owner and designer of Starfire, a little market research would have gone a long way toward making 4th edition more commercially successful. Secondly, he should have actively encouraged player participation in creating software and other play aids instead of discouraging it. While large companies that produce lots of add-ons for their game systems might discourage competition from players, a small company should gladly accept all the help it can get, especially if that help is provided for free by willing fans.

All this talk of Starfire made me visit the web page for nostalgia. I wish I hadn't bothered. It appears that Marvin no longer sells countersheets or accepts credit card orders (although he does accept Paypal) and the order page of the web site stopped working in February (based on the last update date). It may be that the list issues are not an isolated problem.  Whatever my general antipathy for Marvin, it would be a great shame if a game with the long history of Starfire faded into obscurity.

Steve

BTW, if anyone wants to discuss the reasons why I prefered 3rd to GSF then please mail me direct. As Kurt said, the flame wars around 3rd vs 4th were damaging to everyone and I don't want them on the Aurora forums
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 10, 2007, 03:44:43 PM
Erik,

Is there any way to remove the last few posts re the old 3rdR situation from this thread and place them in a separate thread so they don't detract from reading
Title:
Post by: Erik Luken on September 10, 2007, 04:05:12 PM
Done. And let's not start any major wars betwixt ourselves
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Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 10, 2007, 04:30:59 PM
Quote from: "Erik Luken"
Done. And let's not start any major wars betwixt ourselves

I dont think we will. There is no heat in this thread; its more of a reminisce :)

Steve
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Post by: Þórgrímr on September 10, 2007, 04:51:13 PM
When I first heard about 4th edition, I to was very excited, I even bought a copy at Gencon. But once I got it home and began to read it, the more horrified I became. Eventually, I just tossed the whole set in the garbage. That was the first time I EVER threw away a game.  :shock:

I hated the new tech rules with a passion! So I went back to 3rd and won't even consider looking at 4th ever again. And it would be a REAL shame if Starfire finally went the way of the Dodo.


Cheers,
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 10, 2007, 05:50:31 PM
I'm with you,
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Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 10, 2007, 06:49:47 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
I took a long break from Starfire (from the mid 90's up until this past July).  I was able to use Ebay to buy the 3rdR rulebook, as well as First Contact, SM#1, and Alkelda Dawn.  What I'd really like to get my hands on is SM#2.  SM#2 always seems to get mentioned in any thread where 3rdR is discussed, but because it's only a PDF document, it's just about impossible to get a hold of.  From what little I can gleen from posts in The List's archives and from reading the Ultra rules themselves, it seems that there are some similarities between SM#2 and Ultra's strategic rules, but I'd like to get a copy of SM#2 so I can see this for myself.  Besides, I'm thinking of starting up a new solo campaign, and would like to see what SM#2 has to offer.

Some other 3rdR products worth having are Crusade, which is a book with good scenarios and background and few new rules and tech, Interstellar War #4, which is a huge electronic product containing some new rules and new tech, plus a lot of scenarios and great background, and the Unified Tech Manual (UTM), which is a large electronic product that consolidates all of the 3rdR tech systems and tables and cleans up several other rules. Although the UTM contain all of the Crusade and ISW4 tech systems and the new rules for that tech, I think both the older products are worth it just for the background material alone. There is also the Unified Rules, a huge, unpublished electronic product that includes all the rules/tech from 3rdR, Imperial Starfire, SM#2 and the scenario modules plus a lot of background material in an updated and consolidated rulebook.

Although you might find a copy of Crusade in a store or on ebay, the electronic material is more problematic. The main problem is that 3rdR has been discontinued by Marvin and he seems keen to prevent any copying of existing electronic material. I have had a number of people contact me directly regarding copies of the UTM, etc, and I have always directed them to ask Marvin if they can get copies of the existing, 'out of print' electronic material from a friend. The response is usually that they aren't allowed to do that and would get sued for copyright infringement if they did so. I have no idea what the legal situation is for out of print material that is available electronically (vague I would guess) or if Marvin would carry out any such threat but I have avoided passing out such material.

When the UTM was produced, I simply included a request for people to buy the product and not copy it. However, given human nature and the ease of distribution by email, I expect there are probably a lot of unpurchased copies of ISW4 and the UTM floating around out there. Finding one is going to be the trick. There are also at least thirty copies of the Unified Rules, assuming that each member of the now-defunct third edition design group retained their own copy. I use my own copy as my only 3rdR reference material.

In fact, after writing this I think I am going to dig out my own copy of ISW4 and reread it :)

Steve
Title:
Post by: RoguePhoenix on September 10, 2007, 07:18:31 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
There are also at least thirty copies of the Unified Rules, assuming that each member of the now-defunct third edition design group retained their own copy. I use my own copy as my only 3rdR reference material.

In fact, after writing this I think I am going to dig out my own copy of ISW4 and reread it :-P. Steve your next hehehe.

Lastly I don't know how much luck you'll have getting ahold of Marvin, I tried his e-mail twice back when I was trying to get the latest version of the UTM since mine was two versions out of date.

*sigh* I really need to start finding some time to plop myself down and actually do a game. It really isn't that hard but it always seems like it is.

Oh and my appologies for lurking so much lately but work led to wedding on the way led to kid on the way so ummm well... I could find the time to be more active but someone else might not be to happy at the moment :-)
Title:
Post by: Þórgrímr on September 10, 2007, 07:19:29 PM
@Crucis, yeah the tactical side blew chunks bigtime.  :shock:




Cheers,
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Post by: crucis on September 10, 2007, 08:20:20 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
I took a long break from Starfire (from the mid 90's up until this past July).  I was able to use Ebay to buy the 3rdR rulebook, as well as First Contact, SM#1, and Alkelda Dawn.  What I'd really like to get my hands on is SM#2.  SM#2 always seems to get mentioned in any thread where 3rdR is discussed, but because it's only a PDF document, it's just about impossible to get a hold of.  From what little I can gleen from posts in The List's archives and from reading the Ultra rules themselves, it seems that there are some similarities between SM#2 and Ultra's strategic rules, but I'd like to get a copy of SM#2 so I can see this for myself.  Besides, I'm thinking of starting up a new solo campaign, and would like to see what SM#2 has to offer.
Some other 3rdR products worth having are Crusade, which is a book with good scenarios and background and few new rules and tech, Interstellar War #4, which is a huge electronic product containing some new rules and new tech, plus a lot of scenarios and great background, and the Unified Tech Manual (UTM), which is a large electronic product that consolidates all of the 3rdR tech systems and tables and cleans up several other rules. Although the UTM contain all of the Crusade and ISW4 tech systems and the new rules for that tech, I think both the older products are worth it just for the background material alone. There is also the Unified Rules, a huge, unpublished electronic product that includes all the rules/tech from 3rdR, Imperial Starfire, SM#2 and the scenario modules plus a lot of background material in an updated and consolidated rulebook.

Although you might find a copy of Crusade in a store or on ebay, the electronic material is more problematic. The main problem is that 3rdR has been discontinued by Marvin and he seems keen to prevent any copying of existing electronic material. I have had a number of people contact me directly regarding copies of the UTM, etc, and I have always directed them to ask Marvin if they can get copies of the existing, 'out of print' electronic material from a friend. The response is usually that they aren't allowed to do that and would get sued for copyright infringement if they did so. I have no idea what the legal situation is for out of print material that is available electronically (vague I would guess) or if Marvin would carry out any such threat but I have avoided passing out such material.

When the UTM was produced, I simply included a request for people to buy the product and not copy it. However, given human nature and the ease of distribution by email, I expect there are probably a lot of unpurchased copies of ISW4 and the UTM floating around out there. Finding one is going to be the trick. There are also at least thirty copies of the Unified Rules, assuming that each member of the now-defunct third edition design group retained their own copy. I use my own copy as my only 3rdR reference material.

In fact, after writing this I think I am going to dig out my own copy of ISW4 and reread it :)

Steve


A few points.  

* I purchased Stars at War and Crusade before I went on my Starfire hiatus, so I'm set there.

* I have a copy of ISW4, a non-SDS copy in fact.  And how, you might ask, does such a non-SDS created copy of ISW4 even exist?  Simple, I own a copy of the original ISW4 manuscript in a number of Word docs that Dave Weber sent me back when we ... yes WE ... worked on it.  I'm more than a little PO'd that I wasn't properly credited in the SDS release of ISW4 which I've also seen, since the amount of work that I put in on ISW4 was hardly insignificant.  At least, Dave remembered to give me credit in The Shiva Option for my work.


* I've read on some other (don't remember where) board where some old List member (IIRC) sent ML an Email last year asking about the availability of some of the 3e products.  IIRC, ML was willing to sell some but not others.  Don't remember which products fell into which category.



* If I can never get a copy of SM#2, I'll just create my own House Rules, combining the best of ISF and ULTRA.  Frankly, it's what I'm doing this very moment, in preperation of my first solo campaign in many years.
Title:
Post by: coldsteel on September 10, 2007, 08:43:36 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
A few points.  

* I purchased Stars at War and Crusade before I went on my Starfire hiatus, so I'm set there.

* I have a copy of ISW4, a non-SDS copy in fact.  And how, you might ask, does such a non-SDS created copy of ISW4 even exist?  Simple, I own a copy of the original ISW4 manuscript in a number of Word docs that Dave Weber sent me back when we ... yes WE ... worked on it.  I'm more than a little PO'd that I wasn't properly credited in the SDS release of ISW4 which I've also seen, since the amount of work that I put in on ISW4 was hardly insignificant.  At least, Dave remembered to give me credit in The Shiva Option for my work.


So what you're trying to say is, you're Fred Burton...?


EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 10, 2007, 08:47:50 PM
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Quote from: "crucis"
A few points.  

* I purchased Stars at War and Crusade before I went on my Starfire hiatus, so I'm set there.

* I have a copy of ISW4, a non-SDS copy in fact.  And how, you might ask, does such a non-SDS created copy of ISW4 even exist?  Simple, I own a copy of the original ISW4 manuscript in a number of Word docs that Dave Weber sent me back when we ... yes WE ... worked on it.  I'm more than a little PO'd that I wasn't properly credited in the SDS release of ISW4 which I've also seen, since the amount of work that I put in on ISW4 was hardly insignificant.  At least, Dave remembered to give me credit in The Shiva Option for my work.

So what you're trying to say is, you're Fred Burton...?


EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Yep, that'd be me.  


EEEEE????  Huh?
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Post by: crucis on September 10, 2007, 08:56:41 PM
[quote="
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Post by: Þórgrímr on September 10, 2007, 09:10:27 PM
Crucis, I think that may be a sticking point on why I keep getting turned down by publishers. They see the latin terms and their eyes glaze over and flush the submission down the toilet as unreadable.  :D

Beyond the confusing Latin, how are the two stories themselves? Any comment you would wish to toss my way? I am in desperate search of commentary.  :wink:


Cheers,
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 10, 2007, 09:37:48 PM
To extend my remarks in my "That'd be me post" above...

Yes, I am Fred Burton (hence my handle of Crucis), formerly a loyal minion of Dave Weber when he was producing Starfire products.  I haven't stayed in contact with him for a long time, so don't be looking for any scoops on his latest projects.  I'm as much in the dark as any of you.

However, I was/am the creator of The Star Union, the Zarkolyan Empire, The Pitariad (betcha'd LOVE to know who they are), the Laser Torpedo, the Anti-Shield Warhead, the Box Launcher, co-creator of the Gunboat, and nearly every Star Union and Zarkolyan character in The Shiva Option, as well as the "scenarios" in Crucian space shown by Dave and Steve in TSO, and that Starfire map of a part of Crucian space at the front of TSO.  And the ship designer for the Arachnid, Star Union, and Zarkolyan fleets, as shown in ISW4.


The first scenario/scene between SF19 and Wingmaster Furra's 6th Strike Wing was scripted by me right down to the exact tactics used by the technically inferior Crucian ships defeat the Bug BCs.  I actually gamed out that specific scenario in the tried and true map, counters, and d10's.   The fact that Furra's SDR's managed to take out all but one of the Bug command datalink command ships was COMPLETELY random dumb luck.  I was as astounded as I'm sure any reader was at their incredible good luck.

The Battle of Reymiirnagar (also called Hell's Gate, in Crucian) was also as I scripted it, although not in as much detail.  The massive Asteroid Fortresses were my idea, and had been initially placed at another WP in the system which led to the Telik system, which is where the Crucians actually feared that a Demon attack might come for about 100 years.

The seemingly suicidal corvettes with ECM2 (datalink jamming ECM) was also my idea.  I saw it as a very "crucian" thing to do.  The Crucians aren't the religous fanatics that the Rigelians or the Thebans were, but they are very committed to defeating the Demons.

Along that line, a scripted battle of mine that wasn't included in The Shiva Option was the First Battle of Rabahl, where a reserve formation, the 10th Grand Wing (IIRC) fought a battle to the very last ship to buy time for the Br'stoll'ee to evacuate their very recently emplaced colony.  In my history of the Star Union, 10th Grand Wing was called the "Gray Wing" because its ships and its crews were so old, and every member of 10th GW was posthumously awarded the Star Union's highest honor (whatever that is), since their sacrifice not only allowed the Br'stoll'ee the time to evacuate every single colonist, but it also delayed the Demon advance into that sector of Star Union space for many months, and bought the USN time to prepare itself for some larger battles to come in the area between Menkasahr and and the immense USN Fleet Base at Beylaktuur.  




OTOH, I'm also the person who created the apparantly flawed Arachnid ships that, according to some people on the List, had some Magazines to far forward on their control sheets.  That was both intentional and a mistake.  Intentional in that the Bugs, IIRC, didn't start the war with anti-matter warheads, thus more forward mags wasn't an issue.  And a mistake in that after they encountered AM whds early in the war and developed their own, the Bugs should have moved their magazines deeper into the ships at the first refits.  (In my defense, if this was such an issue, I'd like to know why SDS didn't catch it before publishing ISW4.  Moving a few mags back in some designs would have been a near zero effort amount of work, since it wouldn't have required any recalculations of costs, etc.  But I disgress.)  In the words of a well known Honorverse character, "Oooops".
Title:
Post by: coldsteel on September 11, 2007, 12:00:21 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
However, I was/am the creator of The Star Union, the Zarkolyan Empire, The Pitariad (betcha'd LOVE to know who they are), the Laser Torpedo, the Anti-Shield Warhead, the Box Launcher, co-creator of the Gunboat, and nearly every Star Union and Zarkolyan character in The Shiva Option, as well as the "scenarios" in Crucian space shown by Dave and Steve in TSO, and that Starfire map of a part of Crucian space at the front of TSO.  And the ship designer for the Arachnid, Star Union, and Zarkolyan fleets, as shown in ISW4.


Anti-Shield Warhead???
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 06:18:19 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
I purchased Stars at War and Crusade before I went on my Starfire hiatus, so I'm set there.
I completely forgot about Stars at Wars. That was also a great product.

Quote
I have a copy of ISW4, a non-SDS copy in fact.  And how, you might ask, does such a non-SDS created copy of ISW4 even exist?  Simple, I own a copy of the original ISW4 manuscript in a number of Word docs that Dave Weber sent me back when we ... yes WE ... worked on it.  I'm more than a little PO'd that I wasn't properly credited in the SDS release of ISW4 which I've also seen, since the amount of work that I put in on ISW4 was hardly insignificant.  At least, Dave remembered to give me credit in The Shiva Option for my work.
I have had my own complaints along those lines. Marvin isn't particularly good at handing out credit :).  Congratulations on ISW4 though. It is one of the best modules I have seen for ANY game.

Quote
I've read on some other (don't remember where) board where some old List member (IIRC) sent ML an Email last year asking about the availability of some of the 3e products.  IIRC, ML was willing to sell some but not others.  Don't remember which products fell into which category.
That's interesting. If someone does manage to get hold of Marvin, I am sure that information would be useful to a a lot of people on this board.

Quote
If I can never get a copy of SM#2, I'll just create my own House Rules, combining the best of ISF and ULTRA.  Frankly, it's what I'm doing this very moment, in preperation of my first solo campaign in many years.

I have SM#2 electronically as well but its still the same copyright problem. Have you played around with Starfire Assistant? That is up to date with all of the latest 3rdR rules so you might be able to work backwards from that and there are plenty of people on here who will gladly answer any questions you have about any 3rdR product or rule.

Steve
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 06:19:16 AM
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Anti-Shield Warhead???

I seem to recall that is mentioned in the novels but I don't remember seeing it in the ISW4 module.

Steve
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 06:27:00 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
To extend my remarks in my "That'd be me post" above...

Yes, I am Fred Burton (hence my handle of Crucis), formerly a loyal minion of Dave Weber when he was producing Starfire products.  I haven't stayed in contact with him for a long time, so don't be looking for any scoops on his latest projects.  I'm as much in the dark as any of you.

However, I was/am the creator of The Star Union, the Zarkolyan Empire, The Pitariad (betcha'd LOVE to know who they are), the Laser Torpedo, the Anti-Shield Warhead, the Box Launcher, co-creator of the Gunboat, and nearly every Star Union and Zarkolyan character in The Shiva Option, as well as the "scenarios" in Crucian space shown by Dave and Steve in TSO, and that Starfire map of a part of Crucian space at the front of TSO.  And the ship designer for the Arachnid, Star Union, and Zarkolyan fleets, as shown in ISW4.
That must have been a lot of fun to work on. What I particularly liked about the 3rd edition products was the great depth of background information. I have often reread Stars at War, Crusade and ISW4 simply as an entertaining read, not to play any scenarios. If you still have your notes on the Pitariad, please post them because we would love to know who they are :)

Steve
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 06:37:43 AM
[quote="
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 08:07:59 AM
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Anti-Shield Warhead???


Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "coldsteel"
Anti-Shield Warhead???
I seem to recall that is mentioned in the novels but I don't remember seeing it in the ISW4 module.


Oh really...  Marvin cut it out of the SDS release?

OK, I'll give you the ASW description right out of original ISW4 manuscript...



27.10.16 ANTI-SHIELD WARHEAD (ASW): Another invention of the Zarkolyan Empire, the ASW is incapable of inflicting any armor or internal damage on its target and cannot be used, even in sprint-mode, against fighters or small craft. Because of this, some members of the Grand Alliance were initially inclined to dismiss it as a pointless technical curiosity . . . until they realized what it did do.

    An ASW is a purely electronic warhead whose function is to destroy enemy shields, and it does just that. It doesn't burn out fuses or pop circuit-breakers--it burns out the shield generator itself with a focused burst of electromagnetic radiation set for maximum phase interference with the generator. Shields knocked out by ASW may not be reset and cannot be restored with emergency repairs; their generators must be replaced by a shipyard or machine shop module.

     Each ASW hit destroys one shield generator. Hence it would destroy one "S," 3 "S1" or 5 "S2" on a hit. (The player whose ship is damaged selects the exact generator destroyed, but he must select one which was active at the moment the ASW struck; that is, he could not choose to burn out a generator which was already down with popped circuit-breakers when the hit came in.) The ASW may not be fitted to SM, but may be mounted on any "capital missile-sized" missile (i.e., CM, CAM, CAM2, SBM, etc.) Mounting ASW does not affect a missile's hit probability.

The Anti-Shield Warhead was meant to be an HT8 system.




The ASW was designed to be a useful, but safe warhead to use on XO-mounted missiles (as opposed to exceptionally dangerous anti-matter warheaded missiles).  Given that it only destroys shields, its usefulness is a bit limited, but it can be a nice weapon to use at the start of a battle to strip an enemy's shields.  (Of course, using a full load of XO mounted Laser Torps can just wreck your target's day as well.)
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 08:22:27 AM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
To extend my remarks in my "That'd be me post" above...

Yes, I am Fred Burton (hence my handle of Crucis), formerly a loyal minion of Dave Weber when he was producing Starfire products.  I haven't stayed in contact with him for a long time, so don't be looking for any scoops on his latest projects.  I'm as much in the dark as any of you.

However, I was/am the creator of The Star Union, the Zarkolyan Empire, The Pitariad (betcha'd LOVE to know who they are), the Laser Torpedo, the Anti-Shield Warhead, the Box Launcher, co-creator of the Gunboat, and nearly every Star Union and Zarkolyan character in The Shiva Option, as well as the "scenarios" in Crucian space shown by Dave and Steve in TSO, and that Starfire map of a part of Crucian space at the front of TSO.  And the ship designer for the Arachnid, Star Union, and Zarkolyan fleets, as shown in ISW4.

That must have been a lot of fun to work on. What I particularly liked about the 3rd edition products was the great depth of background information. I have often reread Stars at War, Crusade and ISW4 simply as an entertaining read, not to play any scenarios. If you still have your notes on the Pitariad, please post them because we would love to know who they are :)

Steve


Steve, which battle are you refering to above  ("is there any chance you still have the details of this battle and the background story?")?  Are you asking about the First Battle of Rabahl, or the battles between Menkasahr and Beylaktuur?  For 1st Rabahl, what I wrote above is about the limit of my info.  For the battles between Menkasahr and Beylaktuur, I do have more.  ;)    But like with most of my notes, it would need to be pulled together.  Still, I know the general outline of that set of battles.
Title: The Pitariad
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 08:40:31 AM
Steve, I wanted to post my Pitariad teaser in a new thread, but I just realized that I don't have the rights to create new threads yet.  Only replies.  ;)  )


From the Pitari point of view, things looked rather different...

The Pitari learned that they were farther behind the Crucians and their Zarkolyan lackeys than they'd realized.  However, they were able to get a lot of good scanner telemetry of a number of advanced weapons and other systems, so the "battle" wasn't a total loss.  Regardless, the Pitari leaders decided that they simply were far from ready to take on the Star Union.  Also, they didn't want to get involved in this war if they could avoid it.  They had no points of contact with this new race the Crucian dog called a "Demon", and there was no profit in looking for trouble.  The Pitari Matriarch decided that the Pitariad would withdraw from contact with The Inferior Races until such time as the Fleet was ready.


"The Matriarch" is the translated title of the Pitariad's absolute monarch.  And the Matriarch at that time was royally (pardon the pun) pissed off when she learned about the result of her raiding force's retreat in the face of the Inferiors.    She didn't blame "Admiral" Sreena Raan Tirinatta, much as she would have liked to.  Tirinatta acted properly in preserving her command and bringing back this valuable information on their enemies and about the wider war going on outside of the Pitariad.  The Matriarch was enraged that her Blood Fleet was forced to run by these ... these ... damned Inferiors, the Crucians and their Zarkolyan puppets.  Damn them all to the eternal hells!!!

(She was a little PO'd.)

The Matriarch ordered that the highest priority be placed on R&D to close the gap and surpass the technology of the Star Union.  No effort was to be spared.  The Matriarch would have her vengeance!

===

Oh, and yes, a star empire with an absolute ruler called The Matriarch is most certainly a matriarchal society.  A *very* matriarchal society!

Here's the super-super-simplified racial profile on the Pitariad.  They're a matriarchal society of lizard-like beings who have a society and government that's an absolute monarchy with some strong hints of fascism.

===

I do have more on the Pitariad, but I'm going hold off on posting it for now.  It needs to be pulled together better before I release it.  And the post-battle Pitari PoV stuff is a bit less set in stone than the previous stuff.  I haven't completely locked down that part of Pitari history and really hadn't bothered for many years.  However, I might do so now.

Also note that I called Sreena Raan Tirinatta an "admiral" in quotes because I don't have the Pitari rank structure set yet, and I'm not particularly fond of the current Pitari flag ranks.



Wow.  I went on a bit longer than I'd intended.  

Regardless ... enjoy!
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 11:41:03 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
I'm with you.  I'm not much of a scenario player.  I also like reading the fictional interludes.  

It might take me a little while, as my profile on the Pitariad is not complete, but I'll try to pull it together at some point.

I actually wrote up a truly complete profile of the Zarkolyans and gave it to Damon Bradley to include in his next Sky Marshal Ezine.
I would love to see that too. I think Damon is on here as well but I am not sure if he has posted a link to SM#8, or if he doesn't mind you could post the Zarkolyan profile in the Fiction section. Its like getting new 'official' 3rd edition background, which I thought we would never see again.

Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Steve"
Likewise, is there any chance you still have the details of this battle and the background story? It would be great to finally see it included in the ISW4 history.
Steve, which battle are you refering to above  ("is there any chance you still have the details of this battle and the background story?")?  Are you asking about the First Battle of Rabahl, or the battles between Menkasahr and Beylaktuur?  For 1st Rabahl, what I wrote above is about the limit of my info.  For the battles between Menkasahr and Beylaktuur, I do have more.  :))

Steve
Title: Re: The Pitariad
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 11:45:20 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
I do have more on the Pitariad, but I'm going hold off on posting it for now.  It needs to be pulled together better before I release it.  And the post-battle Pitari PoV stuff is a bit less set in stone than the previous stuff.  I haven't completely locked down that part of Pitari history and really hadn't bothered for many years.  However, I might do so now.

Wow.  I went on a bit longer than I'd intended.  

Regardless ... enjoy!

I did :). Looking forward to seeing more when you have pulled it together.

Steve
Title: Re: The Pitariad
Post by: Erik Luken on September 11, 2007, 11:54:05 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Steve, I wanted to post my Pitariad teaser in a new thread, but I just realized that I don't have the rights to create new threads yet.  Only replies.  ;)
Title:
Post by: Þórgrímr on September 11, 2007, 12:03:52 PM
Crucis wrote:
Quote
I haven't stayed in contact with him for a long time, so don't be looking for any scoops on his latest projects. I'm as much in the dark as any of you.


If this was aimed at me due to my asking for any commentary, you need not worry, for I ,gasp, do not like most of Weber's stuff, and despise the Honor Harrington universe.  8) So I could really care less what he is writing now a days.  :wink:

BTW, I love that Anti-shield Warhead! I usually tend to go force beam heavy so having a missile warhead that can strip shields would act as a HUGE force modifier for my fleet, making my force beams all the more better.  :D  


Cheers,
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 12:56:57 PM
[quote="
Title: Re: The Pitariad
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 12:58:58 PM
Quote from: "Erik Luken"
Quote from: "crucis"
Steve, I wanted to post my Pitariad teaser in a new thread, but I just realized that I don't have the rights to create new threads yet.  Only replies.  ;)


Thanks, Erik.  Be assured that I am most definitely NOT a spammer.  :)
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 01:03:59 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
I'm with you.  I'm not much of a scenario player.  I also like reading the fictional interludes.  

It might take me a little while, as my profile on the Pitariad is not complete, but I'll try to pull it together at some point.

I actually wrote up a truly complete profile of the Zarkolyans and gave it to Damon Bradley to include in his next Sky Marshal Ezine.
I would love to see that too. I think Damon is on here as well but I am not sure if he has posted a link to SM#8, or if he doesn't mind you could post the Zarkolyan profile in the Fiction section. Its like getting new 'official' 3rd edition background, which I thought we would never see again.


SM#8 was released back in July.  He's working on SM#9 these days, although I don't know how long it will be before he releases it.  I sent him the Zarkolyan profile in late August.

BTW, Damon's Sky Marshal E-zine can be found at: http://http://www.ilkar.ws/starfire/ezine/index.html
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 01:13:08 PM
BTW, I forgot to reply to this ...


[quote="
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 11, 2007, 01:19:39 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
No, no, it was not aimed at anyone.  It was just a pre-emptory comment to avoid a barrage of requests about what Dave's doing next, etc.

Personally, I hope its either the next HH or the sequel to Off Armageddon Reef but I am happy to wait and find out :)

Steve
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 01:43:18 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
No, no, it was not aimed at anyone.  It was just a pre-emptory comment to avoid a barrage of requests about what Dave's doing next, etc.
Personally, I hope its either the next HH or the sequel to Off Armageddon Reef but I am happy to wait and find out :)

Steve


Steve and anyone else who's interested in DW's books...

I posted this is the Dave Weber newsgroup a couple of weeks ago.  I found this link on thefifthimperium info dump site that I visit once in a rare while and was lucky to have found this glorious little tidbit...


posted at: http://http://infodump.thefifthimperium.com/writingschedule.php

Quote
"Actually, I just handed in By Schism Rent Asunder. And in another couple of weeks, I'll be handing in By Heresies Distressed. I'm not sure what the scheduled release date for either book will be, but they'll have the third book in plenty of time to position at my January of 2009.

    As you may have observed sometimes happens with me, single books turn into a book plus a sequel, and that's basically what's happened here. The bad news is that I was supposed to have the second book in the series handed in by the end of April, so I'm running about three months late. On the other hand, three to four months is my usual writing time for a single book, so since I'm actually handing in two of them, I'm about on schedule in terms of production time. The other thing that this means is that I won't have to hand in another book for TOR until January of 2009, which means that I'll have at least until October 2008 to work on some of the Baen projects which have lagged behind. Hopefully (and please note that I make no guarantees here, given what tends to happen to my life and my work schedule) what's going to happen is that sometime in August, I'll be starting on the sequel to Shadow of Saganami. In the meantime, Eric will have been working on the sequel to Crown of Slaves. As soon as I finish with Saganami 2, I should be able to go directly to work on Crown 2, which should mean (note the qualifier) that I'll have 2 Honorverse novels finished and handed in by the end of 2007. That should give me the first six months or so of 2008 to do the next mainstream Honor novel, and also the sequel to Hell Hath No Fury, which Linda is already looking over. I'd really prefer to do the sequel to Hell Hath No Fury before I start on the next mainstream Honor novel, since I'll just have done two comlete novels set in the Honorverse and I'll really be able to use the break before jumping into the "pull it all together" novel which will fuse the events and consequences of events from the two non-Honor novels. Simon & Schuster, on the other hand, would really prefer to see nothing but Honor novels, in an unending succession, and I'm not sure exactly how that's going to play out. Given that Toni will be getting a total of three Honorverse novels in a space of under one year, she ought to be able to keep the distributors -- and hopefully you guys --  reasonably happy while I work on the next multiverse book.

    That's the idea, anyway. If everything goes the way that I hope it will (which, however, it seldom does), I should be able to finish all of this up with a couple of months to spare. On the other hand, next year is Sharon and my 10th anniversary. We're planning on renewing our vows, and it looks like I'll be attending the big book exposition in London in March of 2008. That's not positive yet, but it's what we're working towards. And if it happens, then Sharon and I will probably head on to Ireland for at least a couple of weeks. That's where we went on our honeymoon, so it seems like an appropriate place to go on our 10th anniversary. I'm sure that someone is going to complain that I ought to take my laptop with me and continue working away. However, the love of my life would hit me smartly over the head (over and over) with a large, heavy, and very, very hard stone if I did any such thing. That would tend to preclude any eleventh anniversary, and, anyway, I do hope that you folks will concede that I should get to take at least a couple of weeks off every two or three years whether I really need them or not."





BTW, the Hell's Gate series is an idea that Dave described to me about 15 or more years ago.  I think that I read in some interview at Sci-Fi.com where he said something about how this was an idea that he had floating around for many years but never had time to write.  I knew when I first read Hell's Gate that it was incredibly similar to the idea that Dave described to me.  About the only differences are a) the mental-like abilities of the Sharonans and b) in his original idea, Sharona wasn't used as Arcana's enemy, our own Earth was.  I remember Dave describing how he wanted to have modern technology get less and less effective the further from our own home dimension the "earth" humans got.  And this original idea seems to be manifested in HHNF where the Sharonan mental abilities and the Arcanan magical abilities appear to be growing weaker the further from their home dimensions they go.

One strange thing about the Hell's Gate universe that I'm sure any Starfire player has noticed is that the dimension gates are rather like warp points in effect, since they create WP-like choke points and the different dimensional Earths connected by these gates are rather like Starfire star systems connected by WPs.  Even the map in HHNF looked eerily similar to a Starfire map.

Strangely (perhaps), I find myself looking forward more to the Hells Gate and Off Armageddon Reef sequels more than the HH sequels these days.  Perhaps, I'm a bit Honor-ed out and find the other universe a little fresher.
Title:
Post by: MWadwell on September 11, 2007, 09:43:00 PM
[quote="
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 09:56:24 PM
Quote from: "MWadwell"
[quote="
Title:
Post by: sloanjh on September 11, 2007, 11:13:31 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
In the words of a well known Honorverse character, "Oooops".


ROFL - and they both have the same effect!! :-)

John
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 11, 2007, 11:20:31 PM
Quote from: "sloanjh"
Quote from: "crucis"
In the words of a well known Honorverse character, "Oooops".

ROFL - and they both have the same effect!! :-)

John


Good point, John.  That didn't even cross my mind when I wrote it.



That reminds me of when I mentioned to Dave Weber back when he was creating AM warheads that putting AM warheaded missiles on XO racks might be a "bad thing" (since destroying such a missile in its XO rack could destroy the ship).  

Dave's response:   "D'oh!"
Title:
Post by: MWadwell on September 12, 2007, 12:39:38 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "MWadwell"
[quote="
Title:
Post by: Shinanygnz on September 12, 2007, 12:10:30 PM
Quote from: "MWadwell"
[<snip>
Well, to be honest I've come to dislike the "mainstream" HH novels as well.

I loved the series up to "War of Honor" - but I really disliked how HH was becoming a "uber" character (and this is what turned me off the series).


I really liked them up to Ashes of Victory, but have gone off them more and more.  Very, very stupid "bad guy" politicians and bigger & bigger fleets and missile salvoes don't make for a good story.  A massive fleet battle just doesn't carry the excitement for me.  ISW4 and the matching books suffer from this problem too, IMO of course.  It's a problem I've noted in many book series where the author seems to feel that every battle has to be bigger than the last.  I much prefer the smaller scale squadron battles where the characters can have more impact and the action can be described better.
I'm very fond of the Worlds of Honor series.  Stories are short, focused on a particular event that can be described more fully and don't suffer from the 200 SDs per side syndrome the main books now do.  Hoping the Shadow of Saganami series is back to similar roots; got to pick that up soon.

Stephen
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 12, 2007, 03:36:23 PM
[quote="
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 12, 2007, 03:43:54 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
I'm with you,
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 12, 2007, 04:31:28 PM
Quote from: "Kurt"
[quote="
Title:
Post by: Þórgrímr on September 12, 2007, 04:55:38 PM
For myself personally, I bought everything I could for 3R for the background 'fluff'. I don't think I have ever played a scenario out of the modules once ISF came out. I just loved the background and fought the ISF generated battles.

@Crucis, if you ever wish to run a E-Mail SF campaign, I am all for it. I would like to get into one and use my Romans again. Talking about Starfire has awoken a desire to give SA a run again.  :D




Cheers,
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 12, 2007, 07:35:12 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
[quote="
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 12, 2007, 09:26:59 PM
This is getting to be quite the quote tree.  I'll see what I can do to trim it....

Quote from: "Kurt"
I was involved in the list for quite a while, although not as long as some others, and I was in the middle of a lot of the mess that led to the demise of the 3rd Ed. and the schism between 3rd Ed players and 4th Ed players.  Over all of that time I came to the conclusion that there were two main types of strategic starfire players, those who essentially role-played their empires, and the competitive players out to beat their opponents in multiple player games.  Steve, myself, and I suspect you are all role-players, who like to build empires with interesting back-stories and personality.  Marvin, and many others who support 4th, are what I call power-gamers, who prefer competitive gaming and don't care as much or at all about back-story or personality.  

Yes, I'd call myself more of a roleplayer.  


Quote
This difference ultimately led to the schism, because neither side could really understand or appreciate the other's goals.  Marvin doesn't really care about the fiction, back-story, or personality, he wants a balanced game where the rules preclude any loop-holes that allow a player to win by "Gaming the system".  He, and his supporters, don't care if the result is flavorless because the competition is what they are after.  The 3rd Ed role-players don't care about loop-holes for the most part because they won't use them unless it fits the personality of their race, and then its all good.  For the role-players the flavorless, bland system of 4th was repellent.  

I guess what gets me is that a business owner/game producer should be smart enough to understand these divisions and be trying to find the best way to fill the gap between the two groups of players.  After all, if he's in it to make money, he should be wanting to have the largest number of customers possible, not simply creating the his personal House rules and slapping the Starfire label on it.






Quote
Quote from: "crucis"
I'm probably a hard core 3rd ed player.  I never bought Galactic SF, but of course, I was also on a Starfire hiatus up until recently.  But I have purchased Ultra.  And I'm of much the same opinion as you.

There are some interesting things in it. The uncertainty thing is  interesting, even if I find the R&D rules rather baffling.  

I challenge anyone to pick up a rule book for 4th ed, ultra or whatever, read it and be able to play a game without asking the starfire list a million questions.  The tech research system is very difficult to figure out, and I speak as a man who has played board games for over twenty-five years.

I haven't really tried to fathom the R&D rules yet, but there are other rules sections that I've found to be overly complex.

And to be honest, this pisses me off.

I don't mean to rag on ML, but I can't help myself.  Here he goes, competely gutting some of the best parts of the tactical system, wiping out missiles, etc. all in the name of simplicity, etc. and yet then at the same time, he produces some ridiculously complex rules abortions that would only be "simple" for a computer.  ARGH!!!

I'll admit that I like the concept behind the tech trees and trying to create a situation where have NPRs having different weapons and system mixes.  That's a great concept.  However, the follow thru on that concept shouldn't be so complex that it turns off the players.

To be honest, I think that I could come up with a far simpler version of tech trees that would accomplish the same general goal without all of the pain and complexity.  I could probably think of one as I'm typing right now, although it would probably be as full of holes as swiss cheese.  

Try this...

Put all of the basic weapons into different trees or silos.  Like in Ultra, take a SRW and a LRW.  Then say that you can only develop new weapons within those trees until you either see a weapon from another tree in use against you in combat (possibly requiring scanner readings or not), or perhaps you encounter an NPR who uses weapons from another tree and is willing to share information.  And there might be a provision for a breakthru or a technological epiphany that lets you open a new tree.  But it just doesn't need to be so horrifyingly complex.

And most of the same things could hold true for non-weapons trees, BTW.  Engine trees would be pretty important in this regard.

I'm actually trying to work on something along these lines for my upcoming solo campaign, just to create some racial differentiation, which is a worthy goal, even for "role-players".


Another thing that I despise about Ultra is the horrifically high number of generations of the same weapons.  Now, I'll give ML a little pass since his tech trees go all the way up to SL50.  But what the hell does he need to bother with going up in TL's that high for?  Has anyone ever heard of a campaign that went much past TL20 or so?

I also hate how he has all these generations of the SAME weapons.  Did I say that already?  Yes, but a dozen or so generations of the SAME weapon... without any exposition, without any difference worth noting?  Are all lasers exactly the same, just little upgrades that aren't worth mentioning?  It's a Mark I laser, a Mark 2 laser, a Mark 9 laser, yada-yada-yada.  Blah, blah, blah.  BORING!!!!!!    I want Lasers, Masers, Grasers, HET Lasers, and so on.  I want to know WHY they're bigger and better.  The damage numbers are useful in battle, but they're just data.  WHY is a TL9 laser better than a TL1 Laser???!!!  

Also, the very idea that nearly all weapons seem to start at TL/SL1 almost without exception and are the same weapons that exist for the entire game,  is a ridiculous concept to me.    

The idea that there are NO revolutionary technological developments is seems historically stupid to me.  Yes, there are evolutionary changes in technology.  They're the developments that occur between the big revolutionary technological leaps.    I've read (probably some 4e devotees) complain about how life sucks in 3e if one side gets Cap Missiles before the other.  Well, tough bleeping-crap!!!  That's the way history is!  When one nation (or whatever) develops some revolutionary new technology, they're SUPPOSED to have a major advantage!!!  Life is supposed to suck for the side that doesn't have some big breakthru.  That's why researchers are always trying to come up with big breakthroughs... so that their side gets a big advantage.  Sorry, I'm ranting.  But this idea of squashing out revolutionary tech developments really pissed me off when I read ML's little disertation on the SDS website, comparing 3e and 4e.





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Quote from: "crucis"
I like the expanded system generation rules and a lot of the galactic oddities.  As I said previously, I'm going to be starting a new solo campaign soon and had written up a new system generator script for my 3e rules, before I got Ultra.  But I was so impressed with most of the sys gen rules in Ultra, that I've been working to Ultra-ize my sys gen script.  (I don't like how he's made WP's more likely to be attracted to starless regions.  The underlying pseudophysics was that WPs are attracted to mass, not a lack of mass.  And the greater the mass, the greater the likelihood of a larger number of WPs.  So, I've used my own version of a WP's for my system generator.)

I like what I've read in the NPR political rules, although I wish that he'd have included racial description generation rules (which I happen to have a couple of versions of, BTW) ...

I like a lot of the galactic oddities, although I find the artifacts too cheesey for my taste.  The Leader's Baton seems like a freakin' +1 D&D magic item to me.  ;)
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 12, 2007, 11:01:04 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
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This difference ultimately led to the schism, because neither side could really understand or appreciate the other's goals.  Marvin doesn't really care about the fiction, back-story, or personality, he wants a balanced game where the rules preclude any loop-holes that allow a player to win by "Gaming the system".  He, and his supporters, don't care if the result is flavorless because the competition is what they are after.  The 3rd Ed role-players don't care about loop-holes for the most part because they won't use them unless it fits the personality of their race, and then its all good.  For the role-players the flavorless, bland system of 4th was repellent.  

I guess what gets me is that a business owner/game producer should be smart enough to understand these divisions and be trying to find the best way to fill the gap between the two groups of players.  After all, if he's in it to make money, he should be wanting to have the largest number of customers possible, not simply creating the his personal House rules and slapping the Starfire label on it.

Well, I think that Marvin did not fully appreciate the difference in views until after 4th came out.  Marvin had gotten quite a few complaints from people about strategic starfire concerning "explorer's luck", which usually let a person win almost regardless of how good of a player they were.  Because these complaints fit in with his own view of the game, I believe he came to think that everyone, or most everyone, felt the same.  

Quote from: "crucis"
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I challenge anyone to pick up a rule book for 4th ed, ultra or whatever, read it and be able to play a game without asking the starfire list a million questions.  The tech research system is very difficult to figure out, and I speak as a man who has played board games for over twenty-five years.

I haven't really tried to fathom the R&D rules yet, but there are other rules sections that I've found to be overly complex.

And to be honest, this pisses me off.

I don't mean to rag on ML, but I can't help myself.  Here he goes, competely gutting some of the best parts of the tactical system, wiping out missiles, etc. all in the name of simplicity, etc. and yet then at the same time, he produces some ridiculously complex rules abortions that would only be "simple" for a computer.  ARGH!!!

Marvin and I (and others) had many discussions about missiles.  Marvin felt that the problem with missiles is that in the strategic game they are inherently unbalanced against beams in that they are superior in almost every way.  For instance, a HT 1 missile launcher can launch a standard missile with anti-matter warheads and other nifty add-ons without modification, upgrading, or refit, just as a HT 5 capital missile launcher can fire capital missiles with HT 11 or 12 add-ons without refit.  If a player wants to use a beam-only strategy, though, he is forced to constantly refit his ships to upgrade to the latest beam weaponry.  A HT 1 laser cannot fire a HT 7 HET laser beam.  This puts a beam-only player at a disadvantage from the beginning, and Marvin's goal was to make multiple strategies viable.  

My objection to his solution was that by watering down missiles he made things so that no one cared what weapons system they were using.  If everything is balanced, what is the point?  

Also, and this was the big one for me, how much can you change everything before it isn't Starfire any more?  I felt that he had crossed that line.  Marvin disagreed, and felt that the changes were needed to produce a balanced strategic game that could only be won by skill and experience, rather than by dumb luck.  

Quote from: "crucis"
I'll admit that I like the concept behind the tech trees and trying to create a situation where have NPRs having different weapons and system mixes.  That's a great concept.  However, the follow thru on that concept shouldn't be so complex that it turns off the players.

To be honest, I think that I could come up with a far simpler version of tech trees that would accomplish the same general goal without all of the pain and complexity.  I could probably think of one as I'm typing right now, although it would probably be as full of holes as swiss cheese.  

Try this...

Put all of the basic weapons into different trees or silos.  Like in Ultra, take a SRW and a LRW.  Then say that you can only develop new weapons within those trees until you either see a weapon from another tree in use against you in combat (possibly requiring scanner readings or not), or perhaps you encounter an NPR who uses weapons from another tree and is willing to share information.  And there might be a provision for a breakthru or a technological epiphany that lets you open a new tree.  But it just doesn't need to be so horrifyingly complex.

And most of the same things could hold true for non-weapons trees, BTW.  Engine trees would be pretty important in this regard.

I'm actually trying to work on something along these lines for my upcoming solo campaign, just to create some racial differentiation, which is a worthy goal, even for "role-players".


Another thing that I despise about Ultra is the horrifically high number of generations of the same weapons.  Now, I'll give ML a little pass since his tech trees go all the way up to SL50.  But what the hell does he need to bother with going up in TL's that high for?  Has anyone ever heard of a campaign that went much past TL20 or so?

I also hate how he has all these generations of the SAME weapons.  Did I say that already?  Yes, but a dozen or so generations of the SAME weapon... without any exposition, without any difference worth noting?  Are all lasers exactly the same, just little upgrades that aren't worth mentioning?  It's a Mark I laser, a Mark 2 laser, a Mark 9 laser, yada-yada-yada.  Blah, blah, blah.  BORING!!!!!!    I want Lasers, Masers, Grasers, HET Lasers, and so on.  I want to know WHY they're bigger and better.  The damage numbers are useful in battle, but they're just data.  WHY is a TL9 laser better than a TL1 Laser???!!!  

Also, the very idea that nearly all weapons seem to start at TL/SL1 almost without exception and are the same weapons that exist for the entire game,  is a ridiculous concept to me.    

The idea that there are NO revolutionary technological developments is seems historically stupid to me.  Yes, there are evolutionary changes in technology.  They're the developments that occur between the big revolutionary technological leaps.    I've read (probably some 4e devotees) complain about how life sucks in 3e if one side gets Cap Missiles before the other.  Well, tough bleeping-crap!!!  That's the way history is!  When one nation (or whatever) develops some revolutionary new technology, they're SUPPOSED to have a major advantage!!!  Life is supposed to suck for the side that doesn't have some big breakthru.  That's why researchers are always trying to come up with big breakthroughs... so that their side gets a big advantage.  Sorry, I'm ranting.  But this idea of squashing out revolutionary tech developments really pissed me off when I read ML's little disertation on the SDS website, comparing 3e and 4e.!!!

Again, this goes back to his desire to balance everything.  My argument to him against this was that real life is inherently unbalanced, and by balancing everything he was creating a game environment that was uninteresting and unreal, didn't get very far.  

Of course, Marvin did have a point, Imperial Starfire and 3rd Ed are unbalanced, and to pure gamers that are in the game to fight against other people and defeat them, those imbalances are a significant problem.  SM#2 went a long ways towards eliminating some of the luck factor by making NPRs much more nasty, thus less likely ally themselves with the race that discovers them.  

Quote from: "crucis"
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After many conversations with Marvin I believe that he came to the conclusion that 3rd was fundamentally broken on the strategic level.  He wanted balance, balance, balance, so that one player was not given an unfair advantage because of early exploration luck, or because he met a pliable NPR right off the bat.  For a competative player, that kind of thing is frustrating.  

And that's that sort of thing that shouldn't be that hard to tweak.  Like the idea of every player starting with the same basic star system, 3 WPs in their home system, and knowledge of the 3 adjoining systems.  Not a big deal, and hardly something that couldn't have been added to 3e.  

I should also say that I think that it should have been pretty possible to gut the 3e strategic rules without gutting the tactical rules in the process.

Perhaps my biggest single problem with ML and his gang is this worshipping of balance uber alles.  Balance is obviously important, but not at the expense of a lot of other things, like game playability/simplicity, and game flavor and soul, etc.  I think  in a very large way that Ultra is a soulless game.  The heart and soul of 3e was the HISTORY. Raw rules do not engender the enduring love that the hardcore players had for the 3e and earlier versions of Starfire.

As I said above, I agree with your point of view as stated above.  I think we are in complete agreement on this.  

Quote from: "crucis"
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I too liked this concept, and I really liked the ?tough hulls?, where more than one point of damage was required to do damage inside of the shields/armor.  Marvin wanted to get away from the armored-eggshell concept of standard starfire, where even dreadnoughts evaporated quickly once their shields and armor were breached.  

I'm not as fond of tough hulls, but I understand what Marvin's getting at.  I just don't buy that "hulls" give you this toughness.  The point of armor in Starfire is that "armor" represents the toughness of the hull and its ability to take damage.  Having said this, I had a scheme for making armor tougher that I presented on the List prior to it going down about a week into August.

My idea was roughly that armor should take damage differently than it does currently.  Say that you have 10 points of normal armor.  And you take only 9 points of damage.  The armor repels the damage without taking any damage to itself.  If you took exactly 10 dp, you'd mark off 1 A, but the armor penetration would do no further damage.  But, if you took 11+ points of damage, the armor "belt" would lose 1 A and the remainder would penetrate the armor and damage the inside of the ship.  However, you'd still have 9 A remaining, so that the next volley that hit that ship would have to do 9 or more damage to the armor belt to penetrate and possibly do internal damage.  A ships armor belt would be able to withstand a number of penetrations equal to the # of A it started with.

Having proposed this, I don't know how well it would work out or what problems would come from it.  It might be necessary to limit the number of hullspaces of armor to a percentage of the ship's total HS to prevent creating nearly invulnerable ships.  of course, any "invulnerably" armored ship would probably be severely lacking elsewhere.

BTW, I proposed doing much the same thing with shields.  My thought process was to give some serious advantages to larger ships.  Clearly, smaller ships would be limited in the number of S and A that they could mount, but larger ships would become much tougher customers.  

One thing that I *do* know would result from such rules is that they'd severely weaken swarms, since shields and armor that could repel damage that isn't strong enough to penetrate would make plinking attacks by swarms of ships each only doing 1 dp totally useless against much larger ships.  My first wild guess is that you'd probably need to take on a large ship so protected with a similarly large ship, like BB vs BB, so that your ship would be mounting enough weapons to produce enough damage to create shield and armor penetrations.  I also mentioned on the list that this protection scheme wouldn't TOTALLY make swarm ships useless, but what it would do is to force them to mount certain kinds of weapons, such as primary beams or weapons capable of producing heavy damage, although at short ranges, like perhaps force beams, plamsa guns, or plasma torpedoes, etc.  And the result of this is that you'd have your swarms having to act like swarms have always done historically ... i.e. having to charge their larger enemies and make "torpedo runs" or get in really close so that their pop guns might do more than scratch the paint of their enemies.  I actually find this idea to have an interesting historical feel.  


I suppose that if with tough hulls, if you didn't do the full 3 dp to destroy the system, the partial damage was ignored, you'd end up with the same effect as my armor belts.  I guess that I've always felt that ships really are just eggshells.  It's just that the "shells" in Starfire simply are not strong enough in any historical context.  It seems to me that the "shells", i.e. the shields and armor should have the ability to repel damage that cannot penetrate, just as the armor on a WW1/2 battleship could take LOTS of hits, but unless you actually penetrated it, you did no damage, and even if you did penetrate it, that didn't mean that all of the rest of the ship's armor simply vanished.

The thing I didn't like about Starfire was that ships retained 100% of their combat ability right up to the point that their passive defenses were penetrated, and then they evaporated.  Even battleships tended to take some damage, even from shells that didn't penetrate.  They might even be destroyed or knocked out by the first shell to hit them if it penetrates their armor, which can't happen in Starfire.  Of course, real life battleships don't have shields, either.

Quote from: "crucis"
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Interesting stuff.  I always liked the Star Union, and thought it should have gotten more attention.  

Kurt

To be fair, Kurt, it was only in the final Starfire product that Dave Weber produced.

However, had things been different back then, Dave and I had seriously discussed doing a small number of followup modules for the Star Union, based on some ideas of mine ... that I still have on my computer.

Ideas like:

The First Crucian-Arachnid War (100 yrs before ISW4), a bit of a ISW4 prequel.

The Pitariad-Star Union War (immediately after the Terran Civil War)

And the strangest of the bunch..

The Heeaqi War  with a big change from the Nexus article where the Heeaqi were first presented.

In the Nexus article, the Heeaqi fought against the Terrans and Orions.  In the Heeaqi War that Dave and I discussed, the Heeaqi would have ended up fighting the Star Union in the time period about halfway between ISW4 and the Terran Civil War.

I actually plotted out the 1stCAW and have all of the ship designs, althought they'd need some 3rdR updating and tweaking, etc.

And I roughly plotted the Heeaqi War.  Aside from the use of the Star Union, the HW would have been rather different than presented in the small nexus article.  Remember that the Heeaqi homesystem is many months travel thru deep space from the WP where the first battle takes place.  This fact plays a big part in some of the tech involved on the Heeaqi side.  I'm holding back on the details, cuz ya just never know if I might get a chance to do something with it.  

And the Pitariad-Star Union was is by far the least pre-plotted of the three.  I know a few details.  One, it takes place in the immediate aftermath of the Terran Civil War (the Insurrection) for a number of reasons.  a) The Terrans, all of them, will be war weary and in no position to help out the Star Union, b) the Orions are about to join the Pan-Sentient Union and, while they greatly respect the Star Union, they don't want to muck up the amalgamation, c) ditto for the Ophiuchi, and d) the Pitari know much of this, because they have a pretty good idea of what's going on in the rest of the known galaxy (they have their sources ... the Tangri), and timed their attack on the Star Union for a time when they'd be the weakest and their allies would be least willing and able to help them.  And while I don't really know much about the plotting of the battles themselves, I do know that the Pitariad-Star Union War would have been the most carrier/fighter intensive war since ISW3, since both sides would have heavily carrier/fighter focused navies.  ... except that in this war both sides would appreciate the value of balanced fleets, unlike the Rigellians who had a nearly 100% carrier/escort fleet.


I seem to remember that Dave Weber was pretty excited about the these ideas since they were a way to do more more historical modules without mucking around with Terran Federation's history as he envisioned it.  I remember a very long phone conversation with Dave (remember that Email didn't exist at the time) when he helped me flesh out the Pitariad.  And I think that he was really, really warming up to my nasty lizards.  And I thnk that he also like the ideas that I had for the Heeaqi War as well.    I can't say as much about the 1stCAW, since it occurs at lower TL's and isn't quite as exciting from that perspective.  But it was some great historical backstory for the Star Union and Telik, etc.


Once again, I've gone on and on and on...  

My fingers are begging for a rest.  ;)


Like I said, good stuff.  I look forward to any campaign reports you would post.  

Kurt
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 12:01:54 AM
Quote from: "Kurt"
Quote from: "crucis"
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This difference ultimately led to the schism, because neither side could really understand or appreciate the other's goals.  Marvin doesn't really care about the fiction, back-story, or personality, he wants a balanced game where the rules preclude any loop-holes that allow a player to win by "Gaming the system".  He, and his supporters, don't care if the result is flavorless because the competition is what they are after.  The 3rd Ed role-players don't care about loop-holes for the most part because they won't use them unless it fits the personality of their race, and then its all good.  For the role-players the flavorless, bland system of 4th was repellent.  

I guess what gets me is that a business owner/game producer should be smart enough to understand these divisions and be trying to find the best way to fill the gap between the two groups of players.  After all, if he's in it to make money, he should be wanting to have the largest number of customers possible, not simply creating the his personal House rules and slapping the Starfire label on it.

Well, I think that Marvin did not fully appreciate the difference in views until after 4th came out.  Marvin had gotten quite a few complaints from people about strategic starfire concerning "explorer's luck", which usually let a person win almost regardless of how good of a player they were.  Because these complaints fit in with his own view of the game, I believe he came to think that everyone, or most everyone, felt the same.  


There's always going to be some luck.  Crap, just look at some of those artifacts in the Galactic Oddities chart in Ultra!  Talk about adding luck to the game.  

Unless you change Starfire from Warp Points (where you have no clue at all what's on the other side of the WP until you go look) to a hyperspace game (where you'd have a minimal idea what sort of system you might chose to go explore, before you jumped into hyperspace), there will always be a level of luck in system generation.  It's the nature of the beast.

Wanna reduce luck?  Get rid of NPRs.

Wanna reduce luck?  Make all star systems exactly the same.

At some point, you just have to accept that in the Starfire paradigm, luck in exploring is, as they say in golf, the rub of the green.




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Quote from: "crucis"
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I challenge anyone to pick up a rule book for 4th ed, ultra or whatever, read it and be able to play a game without asking the starfire list a million questions.  The tech research system is very difficult to figure out, and I speak as a man who has played board games for over twenty-five years.

I haven't really tried to fathom the R&D rules yet, but there are other rules sections that I've found to be overly complex.

And to be honest, this pisses me off.

I don't mean to rag on ML, but I can't help myself.  Here he goes, competely gutting some of the best parts of the tactical system, wiping out missiles, etc. all in the name of simplicity, etc. and yet then at the same time, he produces some ridiculously complex rules abortions that would only be "simple" for a computer.  ARGH!!!

Marvin and I (and others) had many discussions about missiles.  Marvin felt that the problem with missiles is that in the strategic game they are inherently unbalanced against beams in that they are superior in almost every way.  For instance, a HT 1 missile launcher can launch a standard missile with anti-matter warheads and other nifty add-ons without modification, upgrading, or refit, just as a HT 5 capital missile launcher can fire capital missiles with HT 11 or 12 add-ons without refit.  If a player wants to use a beam-only strategy, though, he is forced to constantly refit his ships to upgrade to the latest beam weaponry.  A HT 1 laser cannot fire a HT 7 HET laser beam.  This puts a beam-only player at a disadvantage from the beginning, and Marvin's goal was to make multiple strategies viable.  

My problem (among many) is that missiles SHOULD be superior to beam weapons.  Throughout the history of weaponry superiority fell to the weapons with the greatest range.  And what has always been one of the most important features of new technological development in weapons?  The seeking to increase range over your enemy's weapons.  Superior Range almost always equals victory.

People whining about how missiles are too superior to missiles sound like battleship admirals complaining about naval aricraft and aircraft carriers, and trying to fudge the wargames to make them look inferior.  (Sort of like as DW presented it a parallel situation in one of his HH books.)

Also, it's exactly proper that older missile launchers should be able to fire newer weapons.  Old guns are perfectly capable of firing newer ammunition, as long as the ammo's fitted to the old gun's calibre.  I'm not a gun person, but there's no reason I know of that you can't take an old 1910-something Colt 45 pistol and put the latest teflon coated bullets in it and use it as it.  This crap about requiring a new missile launcher for every missile upgrade is a bunch of bullpucky.


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My objection to his solution was that by watering down missiles he made things so that no one cared what weapons system they were using.  If everything is balanced, what is the point?  

Exactly.  If every weapon is the same, what *IS* the point?  

Part of the reason that you do tech research is so you can get the bigger, badder, longer ranged gun than your enemy so you can open a big can of whup-ass on his fleet.



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Also, and this was the big one for me, how much can you change everything before it isn't Starfire any more?  I felt that he had crossed that line.  Marvin disagreed, and felt that the changes were needed to produce a balanced strategic game that could only be won by skill and experience, rather than by dumb luck.  

A. "how much can you change everything before it isn't Starfire any more?"  I've had the same thoughts as well.  While 3e is a much larger and involved product than the old 1e baggie game, you can clearly see 3e roots in 1e.  This is not true of 4e.  4e might as well stick a different name on the cover, cuz it's only barely recognizable as Starfire any longer.  


B. If he cares so much about skill, why doesn't he just take die rolls out of the game too?

Frankly, Kurt, the more you describe Marvin to me, the more he sounds like a ... person  at TFG that Dave had to deal with who was , in our opinions at the time, a very clueless person who made life miserable for him for years, before there was some sort of shakeup.

It had gotten so bad, that Dave, Steve, and I actually had produced a complete manuscript for a game to compete against Starfire.  We never got around to trying to submit it to any game company becuase there was a shakeup at TFG that moved the objectionable person out of the way, and allowed Dave to work with more reasonable people and he was able to produce the 3e games and mods with far, far less resistance.




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Quote from: "crucis"
I'll admit that I like the concept behind the tech trees and trying to create a situation where have NPRs having different weapons and system mixes.  That's a great concept.  However, the follow thru on that concept shouldn't be so complex that it turns off the players.

To be honest, I think that I could come up with a far simpler version of tech trees that would accomplish the same general goal without all of the pain and complexity.  I could probably think of one as I'm typing right now, although it would probably be as full of holes as swiss cheese.  

Try this...

Put all of the basic weapons into different trees or silos.  Like in Ultra, take a SRW and a LRW.  Then say that you can only develop new weapons within those trees until you either see a weapon from another tree in use against you in combat (possibly requiring scanner readings or not), or perhaps you encounter an NPR who uses weapons from another tree and is willing to share information.  And there might be a provision for a breakthru or a technological epiphany that lets you open a new tree.  But it just doesn't need to be so horrifyingly complex.

And most of the same things could hold true for non-weapons trees, BTW.  Engine trees would be pretty important in this regard.

I'm actually trying to work on something along these lines for my upcoming solo campaign, just to create some racial differentiation, which is a worthy goal, even for "role-players".


Another thing that I despise about Ultra is the horrifically high number of generations of the same weapons.  Now, I'll give ML a little pass since his tech trees go all the way up to SL50.  But what the hell does he need to bother with going up in TL's that high for?  Has anyone ever heard of a campaign that went much past TL20 or so?

I also hate how he has all these generations of the SAME weapons.  Did I say that already?  Yes, but a dozen or so generations of the SAME weapon... without any exposition, without any difference worth noting?  Are all lasers exactly the same, just little upgrades that aren't worth mentioning?  It's a Mark I laser, a Mark 2 laser, a Mark 9 laser, yada-yada-yada.  Blah, blah, blah.  BORING!!!!!!    I want Lasers, Masers, Grasers, HET Lasers, and so on.  I want to know WHY they're bigger and better.  The damage numbers are useful in battle, but they're just data.  WHY is a TL9 laser better than a TL1 Laser???!!!  

Also, the very idea that nearly all weapons seem to start at TL/SL1 almost without exception and are the same weapons that exist for the entire game,  is a ridiculous concept to me.    

The idea that there are NO revolutionary technological developments is seems historically stupid to me.  Yes, there are evolutionary changes in technology.  They're the developments that occur between the big revolutionary technological leaps.    I've read (probably some 4e devotees) complain about how life sucks in 3e if one side gets Cap Missiles before the other.  Well, tough bleeping-crap!!!  That's the way history is!  When one nation (or whatever) develops some revolutionary new technology, they're SUPPOSED to have a major advantage!!!  Life is supposed to suck for the side that doesn't have some big breakthru.  That's why researchers are always trying to come up with big breakthroughs... so that their side gets a big advantage.  Sorry, I'm ranting.  But this idea of squashing out revolutionary tech developments really pissed me off when I read ML's little disertation on the SDS website, comparing 3e and 4e.!!!

Again, this goes back to his desire to balance everything.  My argument to him against this was that real life is inherently unbalanced, and by balancing everything he was creating a game environment that was uninteresting and unreal, didn't get very far.  

Of course, Marvin did have a point, Imperial Starfire and 3rd Ed are unbalanced, and to pure gamers that are in the game to fight against other people and defeat them, those imbalances are a significant problem.  SM#2 went a long ways towards eliminating some of the luck factor by making NPRs much more nasty, thus less likely ally themselves with the race that discovers them.  

As you said, real life is inherently unbalanced.  Technological research is a process designed to create imbalance.  People who are reasearching a new weapon aren't looking for a fair fight.  They're looking to IMbalance the status quo, and they're looking to do so in the biggest way possible.  It's the nature of real life.

But by pushing the balance uber alles system for competitive (aka power-) gamers, he's ended up alienating the non-power gamers.  And pissing off a huge chunk of your customer base is REALLY stupid for someone trying to sell a product.


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Quote from: "crucis"
Quote
I too liked this concept, and I really liked the ?tough hulls?, where more than one point of damage was required to do damage inside of the shields/armor.  Marvin wanted to get away from the armored-eggshell concept of standard starfire, where even dreadnoughts evaporated quickly once their shields and armor were breached.  

I'm not as fond of tough hulls, but I understand what Marvin's getting at.  I just don't buy that "hulls" give you this toughness.  The point of armor in Starfire is that "armor" represents the toughness of the hull and its ability to take damage.  Having said this, I had a scheme for making armor tougher that I presented on the List prior to it going down about a week into August.

My idea was roughly that armor should take damage differently than it does currently.  Say that you have 10 points of normal armor.  And you take only 9 points of damage.  The armor repels the damage without taking any damage to itself.  If you took exactly 10 dp, you'd mark off 1 A, but the armor penetration would do no further damage.  But, if you took 11+ points of damage, the armor "belt" would lose 1 A and the remainder would penetrate the armor and damage the inside of the ship.  However, you'd still have 9 A remaining, so that the next volley that hit that ship would have to do 9 or more damage to the armor belt to penetrate and possibly do internal damage.  A ships armor belt would be able to withstand a number of penetrations equal to the # of A it started with.

Having proposed this, I don't know how well it would work out or what problems would come from it.  It might be necessary to limit the number of hullspaces of armor to a percentage of the ship's total HS to prevent creating nearly invulnerable ships.  of course, any "invulnerably" armored ship would probably be severely lacking elsewhere.

BTW, I proposed doing much the same thing with shields.  My thought process was to give some serious advantages to larger ships.  Clearly, smaller ships would be limited in the number of S and A that they could mount, but larger ships would become much tougher customers.  

One thing that I *do* know would result from such rules is that they'd severely weaken swarms, since shields and armor that could repel damage that isn't strong enough to penetrate would make plinking attacks by swarms of ships each only doing 1 dp totally useless against much larger ships.  My first wild guess is that you'd probably need to take on a large ship so protected with a similarly large ship, like BB vs BB, so that your ship would be mounting enough weapons to produce enough damage to create shield and armor penetrations.  I also mentioned on the list that this protection scheme wouldn't TOTALLY make swarm ships useless, but what it would do is to force them to mount certain kinds of weapons, such as primary beams or weapons capable of producing heavy damage, although at short ranges, like perhaps force beams, plamsa guns, or plasma torpedoes, etc.  And the result of this is that you'd have your swarms having to act like swarms have always done historically ... i.e. having to charge their larger enemies and make "torpedo runs" or get in really close so that their pop guns might do more than scratch the paint of their enemies.  I actually find this idea to have an interesting historical feel.  


I suppose that if with tough hulls, if you didn't do the full 3 dp to destroy the system, the partial damage was ignored, you'd end up with the same effect as my armor belts.  I guess that I've always felt that ships really are just eggshells.  It's just that the "shells" in Starfire simply are not strong enough in any historical context.  It seems to me that the "shells", i.e. the shields and armor should have the ability to repel damage that cannot penetrate, just as the armor on a WW1/2 battleship could take LOTS of hits, but unless you actually penetrated it, you did no damage, and even if you did penetrate it, that didn't mean that all of the rest of the ship's armor simply vanished.

The thing I didn't like about Starfire was that ships retained 100% of their combat ability right up to the point that their passive defenses were penetrated, and then they evaporated.  Even battleships tended to take some damage, even from shells that didn't penetrate.  They might even be destroyed or knocked out by the first shell to hit them if it penetrates their armor, which can't happen in Starfire.  Of course, real life battleships don't have shields, either.

True, BB's don't have shields.  But Shields are just another form of armor.

And as far as the rest of it, you always have to remember that SF is a very simple tactical system and there are limitations to what you can do and still keep the system simple.

And there's the problem of balancing the tactical game between the "needs" of people who only play the tactical game and those who play strategic Starfire.  The people who only play the tactical game might like a smidge more complexity, particularly since it seems that many of them like small battles.  However, the strategic player probably favors the simplicity since it speeds the play of the tactical battles and helps to prevent the strategic game from getting overly bogged down with those pesky battles.  ;)


Also, the system I describe above would actually create a situation wherein your were getting internal damage without completely wiping out all of the passives.  Of course, depending on the size of the ship and the numbers of passives it was mounting, the target ship could absorb quite a bit of punishment before you penetrated the passive.  Honestly, I think that there's a workable idea in there, it just needs to be honed.



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Like I said, good stuff.  I look forward to any campaign reports you would post.  


I hope to finish my Ultra-ized system generator soon, as well as my "3rd Fred" House rules.  Maybe then I can get started on my solo campaign.

I actually already have my two player races created.

One is Earth,  called The Solar Concordium.  Nothing fancy.

And the other is The Pitariad.  The Pitari deserve to get played in some way, so what the heck.  The Matriarch is itching to conquer somebody!


Aside from the above work on my system generator and house rules, I'm also trying to give some thought to a campaign theme.  it seems that the best campaigns that I've seen on the list have good themes.  Like the After the Fall theme, or the (ugh) TrekFire theme, etc.  Good themes seem to be inspiring.  I have a theme idea that I'm working on, although
it seems to have ended up suspiciously similar to the Markukan campaign in ISF and Ultra.




BTW, I've got a question for you, Kurt.  I've seen in plenty of List posts by Marvin that he's always been properly concerned about the copyrights for the Dave and Steve's 3e history.  But I'm confused as to why he feels that he can use "Berzerkers" without any copyright problems?  Do you know if he has some sort of waiver from Fred Saberhagen?  Or is he thinking that Berzerkers are public domain?  Seems a bit fishy to me...
Title:
Post by: sloanjh on September 13, 2007, 12:53:11 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "sloanjh"
Quote from: "crucis"
In the words of a well known Honorverse character, "Oooops".

ROFL - and they both have the same effect!! :-)

John

Good point, John.  That didn't even cross my mind when I wrote it.


Have you seen/got the "Oops!" shirt?  Scott (Pegasus Publishing) sells them.

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That reminds me of when I mentioned to Dave Weber back when he was creating AM warheads that putting AM warheaded missiles on XO racks might be a "bad thing" (since destroying such a missile in its XO rack could destroy the ship).  

Dave's response:   "D'oh!"


And did you point this out before or after your fleet started shooting at his ships that were carrying them?  O: -)
Title:
Post by: Father Tim on September 13, 2007, 03:19:06 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
<--Lots of armour talk-->


Car Wars' metal armour handled this beautifully, in my opinion, with its semi-ablative nature.  In that game weapons' damage was measured in d6s - the total damage done was compared to the strength of the armour (with any excess penetrating) but the armour itself was only reduced by the number of 6s rolled.  Metal armour would slowly wear away, sometimes under shots that couldn't penetrate (a single d6 vs 10 points of armour, for example), but that final one or two points seemed to last forever, virtualy irrelevant vs heavy rockets yet still shedding light pistol bullets like road gravel.

Starfire would need a slighty different system (maybe each 1 rolled to hit would ablate a point of armour, or maybe every full 5 points of damage from an attack) but I would love to see semi-ablative armour in the game.
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 08:22:07 AM
Quote from: "Kurt"
This difference ultimately led to the schism, because neither side could really understand or appreciate the other's goals.  Marvin doesn't really care about the fiction, back-story, or personality, he wants a balanced game where the rules preclude any loop-holes that allow a player to win by "Gaming the system".  He, and his supporters, don't care if the result is flavorless because the competition is what they are after.  The 3rd Ed role-players don't care about loop-holes for the most part because they won't use them unless it fits the personality of their race, and then its all good.  For the role-players the flavorless, bland system of 4th was repellent.  

I understood Marvin's desire for a competitive game and I enjoy a lot of competitive games myself. However, I don't think Starfire is at all suitable for a competitive game. For something as complex as Starfire with a playing time of months or years, you have to want to play for the sheer joy of playing and an interest in seeing what happens, regardless of the result. Unless you play a tiny universe, it would be extremely hard to get a result anyway and the 'competitive' gamer would likely quit once it was obvious he was going to lose, which spoils the game for everyone else. In fact, I don't think I have heard of even one Starfire campaign played to a competitive result. I would be intrigued to hear if anyone else has.

To me Starfire is more like a roleplaying game, where you play for the enjoyment of the game and try to play in line with your character's (race's) personality, even if that gives you some disadvantages. If everyone always went for a in-depth calculation of the optimum tech and strategy at all times, it would be a very boring game.

The idea of balance is also very difficult. In a game with as much variety as Starfire (or Aurora), some races are sometimes going to get an advantage through a lucky break or two and NPRs are going to vary hugely in size and capability. That's life. If you play the game for enjoyment though, that type of thing adds to the challange. One of my favourite games is Europa Universalis and that game is anything but balanced because it is based on actual history. Some of the best games are playing as a totally outclassed nation, trying to survive while the great powers battle around you. 3rdR Starfire (and I hope Aurora too) are the same. Races of varying sizes and capabiltiies with different personalities build up a fascinating history as the game progresses. In the Rigellian Campaign some races, such as the Holy Dragon Empire or the Trajan Dynasty, were dwarfed by the superpowers but they were still very interesting to play in their own way because they had a completely different set of problems and challenges to the Rigellians or Andromedans.

I enjoy playing both Star Fleet Battles and Advanced Squad Leader as competitive games (when I can find opponents :)) and they are both as complex as Starfire. However, they can be played to a definitive close in a few hours or a few days and that is the key difference. The only game I ever found where a competitive game could be sustained for several months or longer was Diplomacy and that has extremely simple machanics. The gameplay was in the letters and phonecalls between each three-weekly turn as we plotted the demise of our opponents. Even that depended on players seeing it through to the end when they were plainly not going to win. I am just not convinced that a complex, competitive game (of any type) with a relatively small number of players (3-10) can be sustained for months or years if winning is the reason for playing and competitive balance is the overriding design goal.

Steve
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 08:45:00 AM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "Kurt"
This difference ultimately led to the schism, because neither side could really understand or appreciate the other's goals.  Marvin doesn't really care about the fiction, back-story, or personality, he wants a balanced game where the rules preclude any loop-holes that allow a player to win by "Gaming the system".  He, and his supporters, don't care if the result is flavorless because the competition is what they are after.  The 3rd Ed role-players don't care about loop-holes for the most part because they won't use them unless it fits the personality of their race, and then its all good.  For the role-players the flavorless, bland system of 4th was repellent.  

I understood Marvin's desire for a competitive game and I enjoy a lot of competitive games myself. However, I don't think Starfire is at all suitable for a competitive game. For something as complex as Starfire with a playing time of months or years, you have to want to play for the sheer joy of playing and an interest in seeing what happens, regardless of the result. Unless you play a tiny universe, it would be extremely hard to get a result anyway and the 'competitive' gamer would likely quit once it was obvious he was going to lose, which spoils the game for everyone else. In fact, I don't think I have heard of even one Starfire campaign played to a competitive result. I would be intrigued to hear if anyone else has.

To me Starfire is more like a roleplaying game, where you play for the enjoyment of the game and try to play in line with your character's (race's) personality, even if that gives you some disadvantages. If everyone always went for a in-depth calculation of the optimum tech and strategy at all times, it would be a very boring game.

The idea of balance is also very difficult. In a game with as much variety as Starfire (or Aurora), some races are sometimes going to get an advantage through a lucky break or two and NPRs are going to vary hugely in size and capability. That's life. If you play the game for enjoyment though, that type of thing adds to the challange. One of my favourite games is Europa Universalis and that game is anything but balanced because it is based on actual history. Some of the best games are playing as a totally outclassed nation, trying to survive while the great powers battle around you. 3rdR Starfire (and I hope Aurora too) are the same. Races of varying sizes and capabiltiies with different personalities build up a fascinating history as the game progresses. In the Rigellian Campaign some races, such as the Holy Dragon Empire or the Trajan Dynasty, were dwarfed by the superpowers but they were still very interesting to play in their own way because they had a completely different set of problems and challenges to the Rigellians or Andromedans.

I enjoy playing both Star Fleet Battles and Advanced Squad Leader as competitive games (when I can find opponents :)) and they are both as complex as Starfire. However, they can be played to a definitive close in a few hours or a few days and that is the key difference. The only game I ever found where a competitive game could be sustained for several months or longer was Diplomacy and that has extremely simple machanics. The gameplay was in the letters and phonecalls between each three-weekly turn as we plotted the demise of our opponents. Even that depended on players seeing it through to the end when they were plainly not going to win. I am just not convinced that a complex, competitive game (or any type) with a relatively small number of players (3-10) can be sustained for months or years if winning is the reason for playing and competitive balance is the overriding design goal.

Steve


Many good points, Steve.  It's just not the nature of strategic Starfire for a competitive game to be played to a true conclusion.  I suppose that one might say that ISF (and previous strategic versions) perhaps should have have brought this up to the game player, so that it was understood that playing a large game to a conclusion was difficult, but that there could be great fun in in the playing and the role-playing, even if no definitive conclusion to the entire campaign was never reached.  Sometimes, just beating a tough, well played NPR can be superemely satifying.

BTW, I can safely say that I never played a SF campaign to a definitive conclusion.



Oh, one deficiency that I see in Ultra is that it includes no rules for generating NPR species and societal descriptions.  Sure, player can do these themselves, but sometimes it's just easier to let rules generate descriptions and just fill in around the edges and smooth over any inconsistencies.

I suppose that this deficiency is very much indicative of Marvin's focus on the competitive nature rather than the role-playing nature of strategic Starfire.  I suppose that if you're just in it to beat the other guy, you may not care about the nature of the NPR's physical or societal descriptions, or your own race's descriptions.  It just seems to me that if you're not interested in absorbing the ambience of the overall sci-fi Starfire environment, you might as well be playing chess or checkers.
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 08:52:08 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
My problem (among many) is that missiles SHOULD be superior to beam weapons.  Throughout the history of weaponry superiority fell to the weapons with the greatest range.  And what has always been one of the most important features of new technological development in weapons?  The seeking to increase range over your enemy's weapons.  Superior Range almost always equals victory.

People whining about how missiles are too superior to missiles sound like battleship admirals complaining about naval aricraft and aircraft carriers, and trying to fudge the wargames to make them look inferior.  (Sort of like as DW presented it a parallel situation in one of his HH books.)

Also, it's exactly proper that older missile launchers should be able to fire newer weapons.  Old guns are perfectly capable of firing newer ammunition, as long as the ammo's fitted to the old gun's calibre.  I'm not a gun person, but there's no reason I know of that you can't take an old 1910-something Colt 45 pistol and put the latest teflon coated bullets in it and use it as it.  This crap about requiring a new missile launcher for every missile upgrade is a bunch of bullpucky.

As someone who had played a lot of tactical battles in the Rigellian campaign, I thought the missile rules in 3rdR were fine. Yes, capital missiles were a big advantage in deep space against a non-CM opponent but try assaulting a warp point with them or fighting a close action against gunboats. Below are several currently in service Rigellian designs using different weapon types. If the game was unbalanced toward certain weapon types then why would I be using different weapons on different ships. Answer, because the usefulness of a weapon depends on the intended role of a ship and the situation at any given time. Some ships are designed for long range missile action, some are designed for close or point blank warp point defence and other are designed as mid-range fighter and gunboat killers. I do think that the introduction of the Wc at TL11 swings things toward the missile-equipped ships because capital missile ships suddenly gain a powerful short range capability as well.

However, a simple way to give missile ships a more realistic balancing effect in 3rdR would be to remove their magical ability to reload their magazines whenever they like (thanks to the omnipotent Missile Fund and CFN). In the original 3rd rules, those missiles had to be built and moved to the ships, which gave missile ships a logistical tail that the beam ships didn't need to worry about. I have added this logistical element to missiles in Aurora and you really need to think about manufacture and supply if you want to use a lot of missile ships and/or carriers. The gutting of missile weapons in 4th was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (a nut that Marvin added in the first place with the CFN and the Missile Fund).

Examples of Current Rigellian Designs
Code: [Select]
BATTLE MOD 5 class BC   AM2 10 XOg Racks 80 Hull TL 12
[2]S2x20Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4H(BbS)Q(III)Q(II)Q(III)(II)(III)Wax6M5?j!2DczWaWaXrsLhQDcz?3DczWaZ2(II)Mgx3[6]
80 RCP  20 MCP  100 FCP     Trg:6  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  3039/ 455.8
HTK 93 S2x20  Al2x6  Ac2x24  Dczx3  Wax9  Mgx3  
350x SM-b, 120x AFM, 160x fR-b, 40x fL, 320x fM3-b
Code: [Select]
CATACLYSM MOD 2 class SD   AM2 26 XO Racks 130 Hull TL 10
[3]S1x30AiAcx30ZHs(BbM)H(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)(IIII-It)(IIII-It)XrFcQ?jDcxFcFcDcxFcMi1FcDcxFc!2LhQFcDcx?Dcx(IIII-It)Fc[5]
130 RCP  20 MCP     Trg:9    Atk +1    Def -3  Tem -2     Cost =  3964/ 594.6
HTK 112 S1x30  Aix1  Acx30  Dcxx5  Fcx8  
Code: [Select]
HARBINGER MOD 3 class SD   AM2 16 XOg Racks 130 Hull TL 12
[3]S2x40Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x14H(BbS)H(IIII-It)QLhQ(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)QWcx4Dcz!2Wcx3Mi1DczLhXrsQWcWcDcz?3DczZ2(IIII-It)Mgx4[5]
130 RCP  160 FCP     Trg:9    Atk +1  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  4915/ 737.2
HTK 158 S2x40  Al2x6  Ac2x54  Dczx4  Wcx9  Mgx4  
150x CBM-b, 36x CAM2-b, 18x AMBAM2, 90x AFM, 192x fR-b, 64x fL, 526x fM3-b
Code: [Select]
TRIBAL MOD 11 class DD   AM2 6 XO Racks 30 Hull TL 12
[1] S2x5Al2Ac2x5Al2Ac2x5Al2Ac2x5ZHsQsM4(I)(I)(I)(I)(I)(I)!2WaWaQs?3WaDcx(I)Mg [7]
30 RCP  20 MCP     Trg:5  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  1040/ 156
HTK 42 S2x5  Al2x3  Ac2x15  Dcxx1  Wax3  Mgx1  
80x SM-b, 80x AFM
Code: [Select]
VALHALLA MOD 6 class CA   AM2 12 XO Racks 60 Hull TL 9
[1] S0x3Acx12ZHs(BbS)Q(II)(II)(II)(II)(II)Pgx9?jM5DzPgPgLhQPgDz?DzPg(II)Pg [6]
60 RCP  40 MCP     Trg:6  Def -3     Cost =  1615/ 242.2
HTK 53 S0x3  Acx12  Dzx3  Pgx14  
Code: [Select]
BS3H-M class BS3   17 XO Racks 85 Hull TL 7
[0] S0x18Aix18ZH(BbS)Q(MCS)(HET)x4Dc(HET)M6(HET)LhQDc(HET)?Dc(HET) [0]
85 RCP  15 MCP     Trg:7  Def -3   Cost =  1552/ 77.6
HTK 56 S0x18  Aix18  Dcx3  (HET)x8  
Code: [Select]
SWORDSMAN MOD 6 class BC   AM2 10 XOg Racks 80 Hull TL 12
[2]S2x30Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6H(BbS)Q(III)Q(II)Q(III)(II)(III)WcWcDczWcM5!2DczWcLhQ?3WcXrDczZ2(II)MgMg[6]
80 RCP  20 MCP  100 FCP     Trg:6  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  2997/ 449.5
HTK 109 S2x30  Al2x6  Ac2x36  Dczx3  Wcx5  Mgx2  
81x CBM-b, 15x CAM2-b, 40x AFM, 120x fR-b, 40x fL, 320x fM3-b


Steve
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 13, 2007, 09:47:05 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Well, I think that Marvin did not fully appreciate the difference in views until after 4th came out.  Marvin had gotten quite a few complaints from people about strategic starfire concerning "explorer's luck", which usually let a person win almost regardless of how good of a player they were.  Because these complaints fit in with his own view of the game, I believe he came to think that everyone, or most everyone, felt the same.  

There's always going to be some luck.  Crap, just look at some of those artifacts in the Galactic Oddities chart in Ultra!  Talk about adding luck to the game.  

Unless you change Starfire from Warp Points (where you have no clue at all what's on the other side of the WP until you go look) to a hyperspace game (where you'd have a minimal idea what sort of system you might chose to go explore, before you jumped into hyperspace), there will always be a level of luck in system generation.  It's the nature of the beast.

Wanna reduce luck?  Get rid of NPRs.

Wanna reduce luck?  Make all star systems exactly the same.

At some point, you just have to accept that in the Starfire paradigm, luck in exploring is, as they say in golf, the rub of the green.

I tend to agree with you.  Which is largely why I am here rather than part of the 4th Ed crowd.  

Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Marvin and I (and others) had many discussions about missiles.  Marvin felt that the problem with missiles is that in the strategic game they are inherently unbalanced against beams in that they are superior in almost every way.  For instance, a HT 1 missile launcher can launch a standard missile with anti-matter warheads and other nifty add-ons without modification, upgrading, or refit, just as a HT 5 capital missile launcher can fire capital missiles with HT 11 or 12 add-ons without refit.  If a player wants to use a beam-only strategy, though, he is forced to constantly refit his ships to upgrade to the latest beam weaponry.  A HT 1 laser cannot fire a HT 7 HET laser beam.  This puts a beam-only player at a disadvantage from the beginning, and Marvin's goal was to make multiple strategies viable.  

My problem (among many) is that missiles SHOULD be superior to beam weapons.  Throughout the history of weaponry superiority fell to the weapons with the greatest range.  And what has always been one of the most important features of new technological development in weapons?  The seeking to increase range over your enemy's weapons.  Superior Range almost always equals victory.

People whining about how missiles are too superior to missiles sound like battleship admirals complaining about naval aricraft and aircraft carriers, and trying to fudge the wargames to make them look inferior.  (Sort of like as DW presented it a parallel situation in one of his HH books.)

Also, it's exactly proper that older missile launchers should be able to fire newer weapons.  Old guns are perfectly capable of firing newer ammunition, as long as the ammo's fitted to the old gun's calibre.  I'm not a gun person, but there's no reason I know of that you can't take an old 1910-something Colt 45 pistol and put the latest teflon coated bullets in it and use it as it.  This crap about requiring a new missile launcher for every missile upgrade is a bunch of bullpucky.

You are hitting are the very core of the schism that ultimately broke apart the starfire community.  Marvin and others wanted balance, while 3rd Ed. loyalists wanted starfire substantially as it had been in all its unbalanced "realism".  

Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
My objection to his solution was that by watering down missiles he made things so that no one cared what weapons system they were using.  If everything is balanced, what is the point?  

Exactly.  If every weapon is the same, what *IS* the point?  

Part of the reason that you do tech research is so you can get the bigger, badder, longer ranged gun than your enemy so you can open a big can of whup-ass on his fleet.

Quote
Also, and this was the big one for me, how much can you change everything before it isn't Starfire any more?  I felt that he had crossed that line.  Marvin disagreed, and felt that the changes were needed to produce a balanced strategic game that could only be won by skill and experience, rather than by dumb luck.  

A. "how much can you change everything before it isn't Starfire any more?"  I've had the same thoughts as well.  While 3e is a much larger and involved product than the old 1e baggie game, you can clearly see 3e roots in 1e.  This is not true of 4e.  4e might as well stick a different name on the cover, cuz it's only barely recognizable as Starfire any longer.  

B. If he cares so much about skill, why doesn't he just take die rolls out of the game too?

Frankly, Kurt, the more you describe Marvin to me, the more he sounds like a ... person  at TFG that Dave had to deal with who was , in our opinions at the time, a very clueless person who made life miserable for him for years, before there was some sort of shakeup.

It had gotten so bad, that Dave, Steve, and I actually had produced a complete manuscript for a game to compete against Starfire.  We never got around to trying to submit it to any game company becuase there was a shakeup at TFG that moved the objectionable person out of the way, and allowed Dave to work with more reasonable people and he was able to produce the 3e games and mods with far, far less resistance.

Well, I don't know about that, but I think from our conversation that you can see how things got to the point where the 3rd and 4th adherents nearly came to blows and ultimately split.  The starfire list is now primarily populated by 4th ed supporters, and almost all conversation that takes place there is 4th ed related.  A truce has been called between the two sides, but the schism is complete.  

As for Marvin, I don't agree with the direction he has taken starfire, and I don't agree with much of the way he has done things.  However, I do think he truly cares about starfire, and he did pony up cash to save starfire when TFG was willing to let it rot and the rest of us were saying things like "That's too bad", or "someone should do something".  

Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
Again, this goes back to his desire to balance everything.  My argument to him against this was that real life is inherently unbalanced, and by balancing everything he was creating a game environment that was uninteresting and unreal, didn't get very far.  

Of course, Marvin did have a point, Imperial Starfire and 3rd Ed are unbalanced, and to pure gamers that are in the game to fight against other people and defeat them, those imbalances are a significant problem.  SM#2 went a long ways towards eliminating some of the luck factor by making NPRs much more nasty, thus less likely ally themselves with the race that discovers them.  

As you said, real life is inherently unbalanced.  Technological research is a process designed to create imbalance.  People who are reasearching a new weapon aren't looking for a fair fight.  They're looking to IMbalance the status quo, and they're looking to do so in the biggest way possible.  It's the nature of real life.

But by pushing the balance uber alles system for competitive (aka power-) gamers, he's ended up alienating the non-power gamers.  And pissing off a huge chunk of your customer base is REALLY stupid for someone trying to sell a product.

Hence the schism.  Marvin is really, really not a people person.  

Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
The thing I didn't like about Starfire was that ships retained 100% of their combat ability right up to the point that their passive defenses were penetrated, and then they evaporated.  Even battleships tended to take some damage, even from shells that didn't penetrate.  They might even be destroyed or knocked out by the first shell to hit them if it penetrates their armor, which can't happen in Starfire.  Of course, real life battleships don't have shields, either.

True, BB's don't have shields.  But Shields are just another form of armor.

And as far as the rest of it, you always have to remember that SF is a very simple tactical system and there are limitations to what you can do and still keep the system simple.

Very true.  We already had one SFB's, no one wanted another <G>.

Quote from: "crucis"
And there's the problem of balancing the tactical game between the "needs" of people who only play the tactical game and those who play strategic Starfire.  The people who only play the tactical game might like a smidge more complexity, particularly since it seems that many of them like small battles.  However, the strategic player probably favors the simplicity since it speeds the play of the tactical battles and helps to prevent the strategic game from getting overly bogged down with those pesky battles.  ;)

Also, the system I describe above would actually create a situation wherein your were getting internal damage without completely wiping out all of the passives.  Of course, depending on the size of the ship and the numbers of passives it was mounting, the target ship could absorb quite a bit of punishment before you penetrated the passive.  Honestly, I think that there's a workable idea in there, it just needs to be honed.

I hope to finish my Ultra-ized system generator soon, as well as my "3rd Fred" House rules.  Maybe then I can get started on my solo campaign.

I actually already have my two player races created.

One is Earth,  called The Solar Concordium.  Nothing fancy.

And the other is The Pitariad.  The Pitari deserve to get played in some way, so what the heck.  The Matriarch is itching to conquer somebody!

Aside from the above work on my system generator and house rules, I'm also trying to give some thought to a campaign theme.  it seems that the best campaigns that I've seen on the list have good themes.  Like the After the Fall theme, or the (ugh) TrekFire theme, etc.  Good themes seem to be inspiring.  I have a theme idea that I'm working on, although
it seems to have ended up suspiciously similar to the Markukan campaign in ISF and Ultra..

I really liked the After the Fall stories.  I know how it is that some races just won't die.  I have one race, in particular, that just keeps coming back no matter how I try to get rid of them.  The funny thing is, I really didn't like them when I originally created them.  

Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, I've got a question for you, Kurt.  I've seen in plenty of List posts by Marvin that he's always been properly concerned about the copyrights for the Dave and Steve's 3e history.  But I'm confused as to why he feels that he can use "Berzerkers" without any copyright problems?  Do you know if he has some sort of waiver from Fred Saberhagen?  Or is he thinking that Berzerkers are public domain?  Seems a bit fishy to me...


I fairly sure he doesn't have a waiver, although you'd have to ask him to be sure.  I'm not sure what Berzerkers you are talking about, they must be in Ultra, which I haven't seen.  I suspect that if he thought about it all, he figured that at this point they are a nearly ubiquitous science fiction theme.  They really should have been called something else, though.  

This entire conversation has been rehashing a lot of the things that were part of flamewars, hate, and discontent on the old list.  If you can stand it you really should dig through the archives to see what happened.  I know that no one wants to start those wars again.  That ground has been salted.  

Kurt
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 10:30:43 AM
Quote from: "Kurt"
This entire conversation has been rehashing a lot of the things that were part of flamewars, hate, and discontent on the old list.  If you can stand it you really should dig through the archives to see what happened.  I know that no one wants to start those wars again.  That ground has been salted.  

I've actually read thru much of the archives.  I certainly ran across the big Steve/Marvin SA dust-up and will NOT rehash that.  Strangely, I don't recall ever coming across any real flame wars about 3e vs 4e.  Maybe I just didn't hit the right posts, since I wasn't reading absolutely every post.  For the most part, things seemed pretty cordial most of the time.  Oh well.

I'm going to try to limit this reply to no-rehashing sorts of things... :roll:


Later....

Fred
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 10:34:50 AM
Quote from: "Father Tim"
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
<--Lots of armour talk-->

Car Wars' metal armour handled this beautifully, in my opinion, with its semi-ablative nature.  In that game weapons' damage was measured in d6s - the total damage done was compared to the strength of the armour (with any excess penetrating) but the armour itself was only reduced by the number of 6s rolled.  Metal armour would slowly wear away, sometimes under shots that couldn't penetrate (a single d6 vs 10 points of armour, for example), but that final one or two points seemed to last forever, virtualy irrelevant vs heavy rockets yet still shedding light pistol bullets like road gravel.

Starfire would need a slighty different system (maybe each 1 rolled to hit would ablate a point of armour, or maybe every full 5 points of damage from an attack) but I would love to see semi-ablative armour in the game.


Interesting stuff, Father Tim.

There are a few things to keep in mind.  

1) It's necessary to keep more advanced armors in mind when trying to come up with different armor damage resisting processes.  That is, if the process for mere Ind-2 "A" is too good, imagine how horrifyingly difficult it would be to punch damage thru 2nd Gen Composite Armor?

2) The Anti-Laser armor that's already in 3e was originally called Ablative Armor.  I think that Dave changed its name so that he didn't have an Armor that was coded "Aa".  ;)

3) The idea that idea that a die roll of "1" (or whatever) would ablate 1 unit of armor is an interesting way of doing it.  My fear is that it could end up being too good, as mentioned above in point #1.  Basically, it would mean that only 1/10th of all hits would ablate a unit of armor.  (Of course, the ablative number is open to adjustment.)  

For plinking swarm ships, it would become all but impossible for them to punch thru armor ... which I don't have a problem with, as it would force them to use what I see as more realistic weapon choices and tactics.  (See my previous comments for details.)  

However, volleys with a lot of incoming weapons and plenty of potential "1" die rolls might wear down armor pretty quicky.

Some open questions that I have with this suggestion:

A) If a volley fails to produce to produce enough damage to overwhelm (i.e. penetrate) the armor, is any damage done if no 1's are rolled? Is all of the damage repulsed/absorbed/whatever by the armor?

B) Alternate version of question #1.  Say that a volley of 3 hits (damage type irrelevant for the question) strike the armor (which is more than sufficient to take all of the damage, say 10A vs 6 dp), and only one of the to-hit rolls is a "1", and a point of armor is ablated... what else happens?

I have to admit that at the moment, I'm kind of fond of the system I described above, although I haven't playtested it.  While I don't know if it would be too good, I can foresee the sorts effects that it would have on tactics, since it would force smaller ships (i.e. smaller than their targets) with their smaller volleys that intend on attacking larger, more heavily armored targets to close on their targets and use primary beams, which would remain unaffected by the different armoring scheme (and hence become more valuable for shooting at larger targets) or close to point -blank range and use high short range damage weapons that have the potential to punch thru heavier armor belts.

Father Tim, it's entirely possible that the system that you've roughly described might have the same effect on tactics, which would be a good thing.  I'm not a fan of swarm tactics, and particularly of plinking enemy targets to death.

Come to think of it, for people that would like to see beam weapons have more value in the game, making shields and armor tougher, posibly in a scheme such as I've described, would likely force ships, not just smaller ships to close on their targets so that they could get their beam weapons into their more destrcutive ranges (unless their missile batteries are so superior that they can easily overwhelm a target's passives).  It would also make weapons like Energy Beams, Lasers, and Primaries more valuable, since any weapon that could ignore some or all passive defenses would become much more valuable, particularly against larger ships.  At higher TL's, a high damage weapon like the Converging Anti-Matter Beam would become important for blasting thru the high density defenses that exist at those TL's.
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 10:41:22 AM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
My problem (among many) is that missiles SHOULD be superior to beam weapons.  Throughout the history of weaponry superiority fell to the weapons with the greatest range.  And what has always been one of the most important features of new technological development in weapons?  The seeking to increase range over your enemy's weapons.  Superior Range almost always equals victory.

People whining about how missiles are too superior to missiles sound like battleship admirals complaining about naval aricraft and aircraft carriers, and trying to fudge the wargames to make them look inferior.  (Sort of like as DW presented it a parallel situation in one of his HH books.)

Also, it's exactly proper that older missile launchers should be able to fire newer weapons.  Old guns are perfectly capable of firing newer ammunition, as long as the ammo's fitted to the old gun's calibre.  I'm not a gun person, but there's no reason I know of that you can't take an old 1910-something Colt 45 pistol and put the latest teflon coated bullets in it and use it as it.  This crap about requiring a new missile launcher for every missile upgrade is a bunch of bullpucky.

As someone who had played a lot of tactical battles in the Rigellian campaign, I thought the missile rules in 3rdR were fine. Yes, capital missiles were a big advantage in deep space against a non-CM opponent but try assaulting a warp point with them or fighting a close action against gunboats. Below are several currently in service Rigellian designs using different weapon types. If the game was unbalanced toward certain weapon types then why would I be using different weapons on different ships. Answer, because the usefulness of a weapon depends on the intended role of a ship and the situation at any given time. Some ships are designed for long range missile action, some are designed for close or point blank warp point defence and other are designed as mid-range fighter and gunboat killers. I do think that the introduction of the Wc at TL11 swings things toward the missile-equipped ships because capital missile ships suddenly gain a powerful short range capability as well.

I agree that the Wc is a very potent weapon, but it just seems so completely logical, given the existance of the W and Wa, that not including would feel somehow wrong.  (BTW, I really dislike how the GML was taken out of Ultra altogether.  Just another thing about 4e that I don't like.)

And relative to how ships get used relative to how they're armed, I fully agree.  Some people (and historical SF navies) go for balanced fleets while others go for specialized fleets.  The TFN designs tended towards the balanced approach, although there were BCR designs in the TFN (the BCR is just too good a combination of speed and missile power to not use), while the Bugs tended towards the highly, highly specialized.  (God, I should know.  I designed every friggin' one of those designs from scratch, using Dave's general guidelines, i.e. highly specialized designs, commercial engines, etc.)

I suppose that one could say that with balanced designs you can use them in most any battle without fear that you won't have at least some weapons that can engage an enemy at any range.  OTOH, certain specialized designs can be more efficient at specific tasks (such as WP assaults), but at the expense of being vulnerable in other circumstances.  And if you are playing in a low money campaign, cay you really afford the luxury of specialized designs?  Who's to say?  I suppose it depends on the circumstances, how much income you have at the time, how tough the WP defenses are or are expected to be, and so on...

I'm going off on a bit of a tangent...

Regarding Capital missiles, I suppose that it could be argued that maybe giving them the penaids ECM with the initial missile design might be a bit much, although with the UTM or 3rdR, the penaid ECM was heavily nerfed to just -1 on PD rolls, which makes CM's seem far less nasty in that regard.  

Regardless, I agree with you about balance.  But I also have the belief that some weapons should be imbalanced due to their very nature.  I believe that greater range is tantamount to victory in battle.  However, Marvin seems more concerned with balance and skill uber alles.  I find this very wrong.  I find nothing wrong with the idea of a technologically superior, though perhaps tactically inferior player/ship/side being able to defeat the tech inferior, but superior side/ship/player most of the time, if the technology of the weapon in question is sufficently superior.  A weapon like the capital missile should provide such an edge.   I guess that the problem is that 4e-ish players find that galling, but my response to them would be tough bleeping crap.  That's the way "history" is.  Warfare ain't chess.  

If you have a technologically inferior race that runs across someone with cap missiles, your reaction shouldn't be to pray for divine (i.e. game designer) intervention.  Your reaction should be, when your ships are blowing up around you, outside of your own missile range, ... "holy (bleeping) ..." (boom) "crap!" (boom), while your captains are peeing their pants and trying to either run for the proverbial hills or trying to close on the CM armed ships ASAP to engage at closer range.  The inferior (non-CM) side should be trying to create situations where they can use things like terrain (i.e. WPs, etc.) to reduce or nullify their enemy's range advantage.





Quote
However, a simple way to give missile ships a more realistic balancing effect in 3rdR would be to remove their magical ability to reload their magazines whenever they like (thanks to the omnipotent Missile Fund and CFN). In the original 3rd rules, those missiles had to be built and moved to the ships, which gave missile ships a logistical tail that the beam ships didn't need to worry about. I have added this logistical element to missiles in Aurora and you really need to think about manufacture and supply if you want to use a lot of missile ships and/or carriers. The gutting of missile weapons in 4th was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (a nut that Marvin added in the first place with the CFN and the Missile Fund).

I fully understand what you're saying, Steve.  The problem is that you run into divergent, but legitimate goals of simplicity/reduced paperwork vs game balance/perceived realism.  On one hand, attempting to reduce paperwork and create overall simplicity tends to favor pushing towards not having to buy, move, and track individual missiles and hiding all of that under some layers of abstraction.  OTOH, the desire for game balance and a perception of realism tends to push towards paying attention to all of those individual missiles.

Personally, I've always been enough of an accountant at heart in my campaigns that I never minded paying attention to those details, but I can understand that some might not want to do so.

I suppose that it also comes down to how much of the detail of various things should players have to pay attention to and how much should be subsumed into the game's abstractions.  For example, we don't have to worry about paying for food or specific spare parts or whatever.  All that stuff is assumed to be a part of the maintenance abstraction.  Of course, it's safe to say that those things don't exactly have a direct impact on combat.  

The question for missiles then seems to become what's more important, the simplicity/reduction in paperwork aspect or the balance/realism aspect?  One point that I'd make is that I think that the "balance" question is debateable.  People may feel differently about how out of balance missiles may be.  OTOH, I  would like to think that most people would think that the value of simplicity and paperwork reductions are good things... which in the end, is why I'd probably tend to lean in favor of the simplicity side of the argument, just because its value seems unquestioned, while the balance side of the argument seems much more up in the air.  Of course, as they say, your mileage may vary.  

I suppose if one was playing a low money, low number of ships type of campaign, paying attention to ammo would be far less of a concern.  But at the fleet sizes in ISF, paying attention to ammo at any level of detail could be nasty if you didn't have the soul of an accountant.




Quote
Examples of Current Rigellian Designs
Code: [Select]
BATTLE MOD 5 class BC   AM2 10 XOg Racks 80 Hull TL 12
[2]S2x20Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4Al2Ac2x4H(BbS)Q(III)Q(II)Q(III)(II)(III)Wax6M5?j!2DczWaWaXrsLhQDcz?3DczWaZ2(II)Mgx3[6]
80 RCP  20 MCP  100 FCP     Trg:6  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  3039/ 455.8
HTK 93 S2x20  Al2x6  Ac2x24  Dczx3  Wax9  Mgx3  
350x SM-b, 120x AFM, 160x fR-b, 40x fL, 320x fM3-b
Code: [Select]
CATACLYSM MOD 2 class SD   AM2 26 XO Racks 130 Hull TL 10
[3]S1x30AiAcx30ZHs(BbM)H(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)(IIII-It)(IIII-It)XrFcQ?jDcxFcFcDcxFcMi1FcDcxFc!2LhQFcDcx?Dcx(IIII-It)Fc[5]
130 RCP  20 MCP     Trg:9    Atk +1    Def -3  Tem -2     Cost =  3964/ 594.6
HTK 112 S1x30  Aix1  Acx30  Dcxx5  Fcx8  
Code: [Select]
HARBINGER MOD 3 class SD   AM2 16 XOg Racks 130 Hull TL 12
[3]S2x40Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x8Al2Ac2x14H(BbS)H(IIII-It)QLhQ(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)Q(IIII-It)QWcx4Dcz!2Wcx3Mi1DczLhXrsQWcWcDcz?3DczZ2(IIII-It)Mgx4[5]
130 RCP  160 FCP     Trg:9    Atk +1  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  4915/ 737.2
HTK 158 S2x40  Al2x6  Ac2x54  Dczx4  Wcx9  Mgx4  
150x CBM-b, 36x CAM2-b, 18x AMBAM2, 90x AFM, 192x fR-b, 64x fL, 526x fM3-b
Code: [Select]
TRIBAL MOD 11 class DD   AM2 6 XO Racks 30 Hull TL 12
[1] S2x5Al2Ac2x5Al2Ac2x5Al2Ac2x5ZHsQsM4(I)(I)(I)(I)(I)(I)!2WaWaQs?3WaDcx(I)Mg [7]
30 RCP  20 MCP     Trg:5  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  1040/ 156
HTK 42 S2x5  Al2x3  Ac2x15  Dcxx1  Wax3  Mgx1  
80x SM-b, 80x AFM
Code: [Select]
VALHALLA MOD 6 class CA   AM2 12 XO Racks 60 Hull TL 9
[1] S0x3Acx12ZHs(BbS)Q(II)(II)(II)(II)(II)Pgx9?jM5DzPgPgLhQPgDz?DzPg(II)Pg [6]
60 RCP  40 MCP     Trg:6  Def -3     Cost =  1615/ 242.2
HTK 53 S0x3  Acx12  Dzx3  Pgx14  
Code: [Select]
BS3H-M class BS3   17 XO Racks 85 Hull TL 7
[0] S0x18Aix18ZH(BbS)Q(MCS)(HET)x4Dc(HET)M6(HET)LhQDc(HET)?Dc(HET) [0]
85 RCP  15 MCP     Trg:7  Def -3   Cost =  1552/ 77.6
HTK 56 S0x18  Aix18  Dcx3  (HET)x8  
Code: [Select]
SWORDSMAN MOD 6 class BC   AM2 10 XOg Racks 80 Hull TL 12
[2]S2x30Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6Al2Ac2x6H(BbS)Q(III)Q(II)Q(III)(II)(III)WcWcDczWcM5!2DczWcLhQ?3WcXrDczZ2(II)MgMg[6]
80 RCP  20 MCP  100 FCP     Trg:6  Bmp +6  Tem -2     Cost =  2997/ 449.5
HTK 109 S2x30  Al2x6  Ac2x36  Dczx3  Wcx5  Mgx2  
81x CBM-b, 15x CAM2-b, 40x AFM, 120x fR-b, 40x fL, 320x fM3-b

Steve


Steve, there are a few Modifiers (?) that I am confused about in the designs above.  What's Bmp?  And what's Tem?  (I know that Trg, Atk, and Def are; they're pretty obvious.)

I notice that you're still calling 130 hs ships "Super"dreadnoughts, instead of the updated UTM (?) term of just "dreadnought".
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 11:18:12 AM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Kurt"
This entire conversation has been rehashing a lot of the things that were part of flamewars, hate, and discontent on the old list.  If you can stand it you really should dig through the archives to see what happened.  I know that no one wants to start those wars again.  That ground has been salted.  
I've actually read thru much of the archives.  I certainly ran across the big Steve/Marvin SA dust-up and will NOT rehash that.  Strangely, I don't recall ever coming across any real flame wars about 3e vs 4e.  Maybe I just didn't hit the right posts, since I wasn't reading absolutely every post.  For the most part, things seemed pretty cordial most of the time.  

The real 3rd vs 4th arguments were in several waves and a while before the two SA dustups. I don't remember the dates but one was just after GSF came out and a second was after I created Unofficial Supplement #1. That one was productive because it eventually resulted in the formation of the 3DG and the production of the Unified Tech Manual (UTM) and the UTM v1.1. Several more rumbled on throughout the time of the 3DG but they were really just rehashed versions of every precceding arugment and I don't think anyone ever changed their minds. Probably because it is a matter of perspective rather than provable fact.

The last big argument was after Marvin invited himself into the 3rd edition design group just as we were finishing up the Unified Rules. As the group was formed to create products for those who didn't like Marvin's game design, you can imagine how well that went. Eventually Marvin declared that the 3DG wasn't producing products up to his standards and he was kicking me out of the group I had formed and led. I should point out that the UTM was out-selling GSF at this point and Ultra was due for release. Given the quality of the products Marvin produced, my personal opinion (which I can't prove) was that he was more concerned that the Unified Rules would significantly out-sell Ultra and therefore reflect badly on his own design. He seemed more interested in stopping 3rdR than making money.

As 3DG was a completely independent entity with its own Yahoo group and no connection to Marvin, except that we passed on free products for him to sell (and we got nothing), he obviously couldn't kick me out. I responded by removing him from the group. While that was extremely satisfying at the time, it wasn't the most helpful thing I could have done.

Marvin said he would not accept any more 3DG products and would form his own group, the 3EEG, which would bring third edition up to his standard of fourth edition. He really didn't get the problem with this idea. I pointed out that he could create whatever 3rdR rules he wanted but the reality was that most 3rdR players used Starfire Assistant and they would use whatever ruleset SA supported. That ruleset wouldn't include any rules that make 3rd more like 4th.

At this point Marvin decided to ban any further updates to Starfire Assistant, including bug fixes. This had become something of a crusade on Marvin's part to stop people playing a game he was selling :). I obviously objected to this idea and we had a major argument about copyright. No one really truly knew the legal situation but in the end I decided it wasn't worth taking the risk of getting sued for a piece of software that I could use at home anyway. The people who were losing out were other players of 3rdR rather than myself. Even with no more SA updates, the 3EEG produced nothing and eventually vanished. I have no idea what happened within this group or why they produced nothing.

I left the Starfire forums and list to avoid further arguments and created a Yahoo group so I could continue publishing updates from the Rigellian diary and have a 3rdR discussion forum.

However, a few months later I got some reliable legal advice that Marvin hadn't got a leg to stand on. We had a second major dust-up and I updated SA, published it on the web and dared him to sue me. Instead of suing me, he then stopped selling all 3rdR products (even though they were electronic and cost him nothing) so new people couldn't use play the game. If anyone asks, he says it is because he is launching legal action against me. Its been two years and I have seen nothing from him. Besides, if you are really going to sue someone, why stop selling the products?

I was going to make some modifications to SA to add new computer-only functionality but that eventually metamorphed into Aurora, which is a completely different game but one that should appeal to 3rdR players. Erik kindly offered to host and moderate these forums, although digests are still sent to the original Rigellian Yahoo group. Now the arguments are all over, I am happy to be in a situation where I creating my own game with the same type of community as once existed for 3rdR Starfire.

Steve
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 12:12:28 PM
Yeah, Steve, my impression (flawed though it may be) is that Marvin didn't like having older products and editions of SF being more successful than his own personal edition of SF, and I do think that that has played a part in his surpressing of 3e.

I've been sorely tempted to try to produce a competing product to Starfire, but I don't really have the patience to do that much work.  It's one thing to create a module largely composed of some some racial profiles and a few scenarios, and ship designs.  But producing a new game from scratch (as you obviously know) involves writing/creating/re-creating a lot of basic rules that are taken for granted, even if one tried creating a game that's a near-mirror of Starfire.

I'd love to see 3e resurrected and made into what it should be.  I just don't think that as long as Marvin holds the 3e rights or perhaps the Starfire rights, that it's going to happen... which probably means that the only options are to play with 3e as it remains, or to create a new game as you're doing.
Title:
Post by: Shinanygnz on September 13, 2007, 12:45:39 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
The real 3rd vs 4th arguments were in several waves and a while before the two SA dustups.
<snip>


A fairly succinct summary.  Some of us tried to play peacemaker, but it didn't work.  Marvin had one particularly vocal crony (a complete and utter pillock IMO) who always seemed to jump in at the wrong moment and make things go to hell again; especially if Steve and Marvin ever appeared to be heading towards some sort of accomodation.

In the end everyone and Starfire were the losers.  A bloody shame.   :D

Stephen
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 01:01:22 PM
Quote
Regardless, I agree with you about balance.  But I also have the belief that some weapons should be imbalanced due to their very nature.  I believe that greater range is tantamount to victory in battle.  However, Marvin seems more concerned with balance and skill uber alles.  I find this very wrong.  I find nothing wrong with the idea of a technologically superior, though perhaps tactically inferior player/ship/side being able to defeat the tech inferior, but superior side/ship/player most of the time, if the technology of the weapon in question is sufficently superior.  A weapon like the capital missile should provide such an edge.   I guess that the problem is that players like Marvin find that galling, but my response to them would be tough bleeping crap.  That's the way "history" is.  Warfare ain't chess.  
Exactly. Starfire campaigns are rarely about who is the best tactician because that only matter in a fair fight. The goal of any at-the-front general or admiral should be to avoid a fair fight and the goal of the strategic-commanders should be to ensure material superiority at the points of contact

Quote
If you have a technologically inferior race that runs across someone with cap missiles, your reaction shouldn't be to pray to the god "Marvin" for divine intervention.  Your reaction should be, when your ships are blowing up around you, outside of your own missile range, ... "holy (bleeping) ..." (boom) "crap!" (boom), while your captains are peeing their pants and trying to either run for the proverbial hills or trying to close on the CM armed ships ASAP to engage at closer range.  The inferior (non-CM) side should be trying to create situations where they can use things like terrain (i.e. WPs, etc.) to reduce or nullify their enemy's range advantage.
I totally agree. You fight with what you have and try to make best use of it. What you don't do is fight your enemy where his advantages are greatest unless you have absolutely no other choice.

Quote from: "Steve"
Quote
However, a simple way to give missile ships a more realistic balancing effect in 3rdR would be to remove their magical ability to reload their magazines whenever they like (thanks to the omnipotent Missile Fund and CFN).
I fully understand what you're saying, Steve.  The problem is that you run into divergent, but legitimate goals of simplicity/reduced paperwork vs game balance/perceived realism.  On one hand, attempting to reduce paperwork and create overall simplicity tends to favor pushing towards not having to buy, move, and track individual missiles and hiding all of that under some layers of abstraction.  OTOH, the desire for game balance and a perception of realism tends to push towards paying attention to all of those individual missiles.

The question for missiles then seems to become what's more important, the simplicity/reduction in paperwork aspect or the balance/realism aspect?  One point that I'd make is that I think that the "balance" question is debateable.  People may feel differently about how out of balance missiles may be.  OTOH, I  would like to think that most people would think that the value of simplicity and paperwork reductions are good things... which in the end, is why I'd probably tend to lean in favor of the simplicity side of the argument, just because its value seems unquestioned, while the balance side of the argument seems much more up in the air.  Of course, as they say, your mileage may vary.  
If a campaign was completely paperwork-based then I have to agree that keeping track of individual missiles would be a nightmare. However, I haven't played a game without computer support since second edition and I seem to recall it took an hour to roll up one star system. Its virtually impossible to play any sizeable Starfire campaign wihout computer support so if you assume even limited support, then tracking things like missiles becomes easy enough to be a realistic option.

As an example, the Rigellian universe has seventeen active races, 1937 fully-generated systems, 1200 inhabited worlds and 9420 individual ships. I would guess Kurt's campaign was even larger. That isn't going to be a paper-based campaign so why not make use of the added realism that a computer can provide, especially when the software is free.

Quote
Steve, there are a few Modifiers (?) that I am confused about in the designs above.  What's Bmp?  And what's Tem?  (I know that Trg, Atk, and Def are; they're pretty obvious.)

In the UTM, we combined the effects of the Evasive Maneuvering and ECM rules into Engine Modulation. In the original rules, each one created separate but similar effects. In the UTM, they both produce 'bonus movement points' that can be used for Engine Modulation, which creates an ECM-like effect. Here is the updated rule:

UTM6: ENGINE MODULATION
(Replaces 03.03 Evasive Maneuvering)
Ships may use Engine Modulation (EM) to decrease the hit probability of weapons targeted upon them.
UTM6.1 If a unit desires to use EM, the owning player must so declare before expending that unit's first movement point in the current movement turn. He announces how many points he will use for engine modulation and the unit's movement allowance is reduced by that number.
Example. If a ship had six movement points and chose to use two of them for engine modulation, its effective movement would be only four.
UTM6.2 The first point of EM costs an amount of movement points equal to the ship
Title:
Post by: Erik Luken on September 13, 2007, 01:07:11 PM
I'll second that "write your own rules" bit is hard. I've done so and if you want a look at them, the address should be in my sig. I spent close to 4 years working on them (mainly because there were things in 3rdR that felt "wrong" and 4e just wasn't "it")
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 01:50:18 PM
Quote from: "Erik Luken"
I'll second that "write your own rules" bit is hard. I've done so and if you want a look at them, the address should be in my sig. I spent close to 4 years working on them (mainly because there were things in 3rdR that felt "wrong" and 4e just wasn't "it")


I take it that the user name and pword that works for this forum doesn't work on the Astra Imperia site.  (Like the name)
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 01:51:41 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote
However, a simple way to give missile ships a more realistic balancing effect in 3rdR would be to remove their magical ability to reload their magazines whenever they like (thanks to the omnipotent Missile Fund and CFN).
I fully understand what you're saying, Steve.  The problem is that you run into divergent, but legitimate goals of simplicity/reduced paperwork vs game balance/perceived realism.  On one hand, attempting to reduce paperwork and create overall simplicity tends to favor pushing towards not having to buy, move, and track individual missiles and hiding all of that under some layers of abstraction.  OTOH, the desire for game balance and a perception of realism tends to push towards paying attention to all of those individual missiles.

The question for missiles then seems to become what's more important, the simplicity/reduction in paperwork aspect or the balance/realism aspect?  One point that I'd make is that I think that the "balance" question is debateable.  People may feel differently about how out of balance missiles may be.  OTOH, I  would like to think that most people would think that the value of simplicity and paperwork reductions are good things... which in the end, is why I'd probably tend to lean in favor of the simplicity side of the argument, just because its value seems unquestioned, while the balance side of the argument seems much more up in the air.  Of course, as they say, your mileage may vary.  

If a campaign was completely paperwork-based then I have to agree that keeping track of individual missiles would be a nightmare. However, I haven't played a game without computer support since second edition and I seem to recall it took an hour to roll up one star system. Its virtually impossible to play any sizeable Starfire campaign wihout computer support so if you assume even limited support, then tracking things like missiles becomes easy enough to be a realistic option. [/quote]

I can accept that.  I guess that the trick is that if you write a pen and paper game, you tend to want to write the game with the basic assumption that it should be playable on P&P.  But if you're going to assume that computer support is needed from the start, it almost seems incumbant on the game designer to include the computer support tools with the game, which, of course, is a completely different kettle of fish.

I should say that I also haven't rolled up more than a tiny handful of star systems in most of my campaigns after the mid 80's. I've written my own sys gen programs over the years.  (Now, if only I can get around to finishing my Ultra-ized system generator....)

Other than system generation, I've tended to just use P&P.  Part of the reason is that I just liked grabbing my campaign notebooks and plopping down in a comfy chair and doing my SF game stuff without being tied to my computer, although I suppose that in this age of laptops, one can accomplish the same thing with such a laptop.



Quote
As an example, the Rigellian universe has seventeen active races, 1937 fully-generated systems, 1200 inhabited worlds and 9420 individual ships. I would guess Kurt's campaign was even larger. That isn't going to be a paper-based campaign so why not make use of the added realism that a computer can provide, especially when the software is free.

Ho-lee freakin' crap!!!  That's a LOT of star systems!!!   And 1200 inhabited systems... that's probably a lot of income, even under the (as I understand it) reduced income rules in SM#2.



Quote
I notice that you're still calling 130 hs ships "Super"dreadnoughts, instead of the updated UTM (?) term of just "dreadnought".
The Rigellian campaign has been going for 10-12 years, although the last update was about 18 months ago, so I didn't want to change hull sizes part-way through. The change to using Dreadnought in the UTM was partly to explain where you would get a "Super" Dreadnought but also to get rid of the Light Monitor designation. Personally I prefer the older system because it fits with the books but I think I was outvoted on this one. [/quote]

I think that Dave Weber once considered calling ships in that general range "Heavy Superdreadnoughts", SDH's.  I think I prefer the current DN/SD nomenclature, although it does create a bit of a conflict with the novels.  But, I think that I'd prefer SDH to LM.
Title:
Post by: Erik Luken on September 13, 2007, 05:14:47 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Erik Luken"
I'll second that "write your own rules" bit is hard. I've done so and if you want a look at them, the address should be in my sig. I spent close to 4 years working on them (mainly because there were things in 3rdR that felt "wrong" and 4e just wasn't "it")

I take it that the user name and pword that works for this forum doesn't work on the Astra Imperia site.  (Like the name)


separate forums yes. :)
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 05:37:58 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote
As an example, the Rigellian universe has seventeen active races, 1937 fully-generated systems, 1200 inhabited worlds and 9420 individual ships. I would guess Kurt's campaign was even larger. That isn't going to be a paper-based campaign so why not make use of the added realism that a computer can provide, especially when the software is free.
Ho-lee freakin' crap!!!  That's a LOT of star systems!!!   And 1200 inhabited systems... that's probably a lot of income, even under the (as I understand it) reduced income rules in SM#2.

The largest race has 245 inhabited systems (and a lot more uninhabited), 8608 inhabited system bodies (including asteroids), a total income of 960,000 Mc and 3200 ships in service. Their total hull spaces is 195,000. We have been playing 3rd edition campaigns that are larger than the universe in the David Weber Starfire books :)

There are plenty of other after action reports for other Starfire campaigns, including the Phoenix campaign at http://pentarch.org/aurora/viewtopic.php?t=415 (http://pentarch.org/aurora/viewtopic.php?t=415) which is of a similar size to the Rigellian campaign but uses a different way of telling the story.

Steve
Title:
Post by: MWadwell on September 13, 2007, 06:01:38 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
Kurt, while I've never spoken to Marvin, I don't know how anyone could miss the fact that the history and the expository quality of the rules were an intergral part of what made Starfire what it was.    After all, shouldn't it have been blindingly obvious that the combination of the historical modules, such as Stars at War and Crusade, combined with the two Starfire novels in the early 90's (Insurrection and Crusade) must have been huge driving forces in whatever popularity Starfire enjoyed in the 90's?

A question that should be asked when considering the above thoughts...

How many people bought the modules like Stars at War, Crusade, or the 2e Gorm-Khanate War and so forth, and then how many people bought them to actually play the scenarios?  I expect that a pretty high number of people bought the modules with little intent on actually playing them, and did so because they treated them like a type of fiction, a type where you got some exposition, but you got to see how the battles were set up, what forces were involved, and the ships designs, and so forth, as well as any new tech that was added.  I certainly know that I'd fall in that category, and I've read and heard a number of other people say that same thing.

So, if that's the case, it's telling me that there's a large group of Starfire customers that are interested in the Starfire fiction and the history, beyond the dry rules of the tactical or strategic game.  (It'd also tell me that there's probably a market for that type of module as well, but that's a different story.)

Well, I'd have to agree with you.

Up until a few years ago, I was collecting all of the campaign fiction being posted on the mailing list, and putting it on a website - and I noticed that almost ALL of the fiction was R3rd ed - very little was 4th ed.

At first, I thought it was due to the fact that 4th ed was new, and so a majority of the players were still playing R3rd ed. But a year later (when a majority of the fiction was still R3rd ed), I realised that it was probably due to the fact that very few of the 4th ed players were interested in fiction......


(SNIP)

Quote from: "crucis"
I've read thru the List archives pretty heavily over the past couple of months and I find it hard to believe that 3rd ed was so unsalvageable.  I just don't believe it.  


Thinking back to the time of the schism, I think that Marvin still believed that 3rd ed was still viable - witness the fact that when he canned the 3DG, he was planning on re-working the 3DG's work and release it within a few months. (This didn't eventuate as a number of 3DG people refused to allow Marvin to use their work.)

But the fact that Marvin believed that it was possible to release a 3rd ed update in a few months means that (at that point in time) Marvin was still willing to support a version of the game.

It was only after the schism, when it was realised that all of the 3DG's work would have to re-done (and so would take more than a year), did Marvin finally kill 3rd ed.....
Title:
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 13, 2007, 06:15:27 PM
Quote from: "MWadwell"
Up until a few years ago, I was collecting all of the campaign fiction being posted on the mailing list, and putting it on a website - and I noticed that almost ALL of the fiction was R3rd ed - very little was 4th ed.

At first, I thought it was due to the fact that 4th ed was new, and so a majority of the players were still playing R3rd ed. But a year later (when a majority of the fiction was still R3rd ed), I realised that it was probably due to the fact that very few of the 4th ed players were interested in fiction......

Or perhaps it was because there were very few people actually playing any 4th edition campaigns :)

Steve
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 06:40:35 PM
Quote from: "MWadwell"
Quote from: "crucis"
Kurt, while I've never spoken to Marvin, I don't know how anyone could miss the fact that the history and the expository quality of the rules were an intergral part of what made Starfire what it was.    After all, shouldn't it have been blindingly obvious that the combination of the historical modules, such as Stars at War and Crusade, combined with the two Starfire novels in the early 90's (Insurrection and Crusade) must have been huge driving forces in whatever popularity Starfire enjoyed in the 90's?

A question that should be asked when considering the above thoughts...

How many people bought the modules like Stars at War, Crusade, or the 2e Gorm-Khanate War and so forth, and then how many people bought them to actually play the scenarios?  I expect that a pretty high number of people bought the modules with little intent on actually playing them, and did so because they treated them like a type of fiction, a type where you got some exposition, but you got to see how the battles were set up, what forces were involved, and the ships designs, and so forth, as well as any new tech that was added.  I certainly know that I'd fall in that category, and I've read and heard a number of other people say that same thing.

So, if that's the case, it's telling me that there's a large group of Starfire customers that are interested in the Starfire fiction and the history, beyond the dry rules of the tactical or strategic game.  (It'd also tell me that there's probably a market for that type of module as well, but that's a different story.)

Well, I'd have to agree with you.

Up until a few years ago, I was collecting all of the campaign fiction being posted on the mailing list, and putting it on a website - and I noticed that almost ALL of the fiction was R3rd ed - very little was 4th ed.

At first, I thought it was due to the fact that 4th ed was new, and so a majority of the players were still playing R3rd ed. But a year later (when a majority of the fiction was still R3rd ed), I realised that it was probably due to the fact that very few of the 4th ed players were interested in fiction......


(SNIP)

Quote from: "crucis"
I've read thru the List archives pretty heavily over the past couple of months and I find it hard to believe that 3rd ed was so unsalvageable.  I just don't believe it.  

Thinking back to the time of the schism, I think that Marvin still believed that 3rd ed was still viable - witness the fact that when he canned the 3DG, he was planning on re-working the 3DG's work and release it within a few months. (This didn't eventuate as a number of 3DG people refused to allow Marvin to use their work.)

But the fact that Marvin believed that it was possible to release a 3rd ed update in a few months means that (at that point in time) Marvin was still willing to support a version of the game.

It was only after the schism, when it was realised that all of the 3DG's work would have to re-done (and so would take more than a year), did Marvin finally kill 3rd ed.....



(Argh!!!  My browser ate my reply!!!)

Let's try this again...

All this talk of schisms makes the recent history of Starfire sound like the title of an upcoming Dave Weber book...

By Schism Rent Asunder


A pity.  A real pity.  IMHO, there was still plenty of life left in 3e.



I just don't understand WHY Marvin killed 3e, in spite of the schsim, etc.  Why throw away potential sales for such a small business, when most of those products were zero cost PDFs to begin with?

Furthermore, if sales continued to show that there was more interest in 3e products than 4e products, a smart business man would have said to hell with 4e and focused his new production efforts on the products that the customers really wanted.  



*sigh*  

BTW, MW, I see that Marvin has replied on The List regarding your Digigamers question by saying that he thinks that it's dead.  Is "digigamers" the same thing as this CorbyNova thing?


It makes me wonder if all that online Starfire stuff has completely died, if this might change a few things?  Or at least let Marvin open his eyes to new possibilities, a little bit of a back to the future kind of thing...  What was old is new again?  :wink:
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 13, 2007, 06:44:22 PM
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote
As an example, the Rigellian universe has seventeen active races, 1937 fully-generated systems, 1200 inhabited worlds and 9420 individual ships. I would guess Kurt's campaign was even larger. That isn't going to be a paper-based campaign so why not make use of the added realism that a computer can provide, especially when the software is free.
Ho-lee freakin' crap!!!  That's a LOT of star systems!!!   And 1200 inhabited systems... that's probably a lot of income, even under the (as I understand it) reduced income rules in SM#2.
The largest race has 245 inhabited systems (and a lot more uninhabited), 8608 inhabited system bodies (including asteroids), a total income of 960,000 Mc and 3200 ships in service. Their total hull spaces is 195,000. We have been playing 3rd edition campaigns that are larger than the universe in the David Weber Starfire books :)

There are plenty of other after action reports for other Starfire campaigns, including the Phoenix campaign at http://pentarch.org/aurora/viewtopic.php?t=415 (http://pentarch.org/aurora/viewtopic.php?t=415) which is of a similar size to the Rigellian campaign but uses a different way of telling the story.

Steve


As of the last turn, which was...turn 143, the ASR, which was the largest race in the Phoenix Campaign, had the following stats:
HT Level: 11
Inhabited Systems: 312
Inhabited System Bodies: 3394
Production Income: 980,879 MCr's
Total Income: 1,200,000 (approximately)
# of ships: 2,572
Total Hull Spaces: 162,466

The ASR was locked in mortal combat with the Eaters, a hive mind race:
HT Level: 8
Inhabited Systems: 227
Inhabited System Bodies: 354
Production Income: 2,393,756 MCr's
# of ships: 4,698
Total Hull Spaces: 355,208

The fact that I was able to run a campaign that lasted 143 turns, and which had races that were as large as they were, is completely and totally due to Steve's Starfire Assistant.  Without it I wouldn't have even tried.  Of course, even with it each turn was taking longer and longer to complete, and if there was a battle it was much worse.  

Kurt
Title:
Post by: Kurt on September 13, 2007, 07:12:28 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
(Argh!!!  My browser ate my reply!!!)

Let's try this again...

All this talk of schisms makes the recent history of Starfire sound like the title of an upcoming Dave Weber book...

By Schism Rent Asunder


A pity.  A real pity.  IMHO, there was still plenty of life left in 3e.

I just don't understand WHY Marvin killed 3e, in spite of the schsim, etc.  Why throw away potential sales for such a small business, when most of those products were zero cost PDFs to begin with?:

Well, there were several things happening here.  First off, it wasn't clear at first that there was going to be such a large faction that continued to actively play 3rd edition.  There are always some that don't move on to the next edition, I think there was at least one guy on the list that still only played second edition <G>.  Marvin truly thought that 4th was better than 3rd, and had no way of knowing what was going to happen until it happened.  

When the 3rd vs. 4th arguments began, they quickly became very personal between Steve and Marvin.  Each had supporters who rabidly believed in "their" leader, and who made things much worse every time a reconcilliation was attempted.  Truces would be formed for a while, but the wars would flare up again every time someone criticised either 3rd or 4th.  Ultimately, rightly or wrongly, both Marvin and Steve came to believe that the other was out to sabotage them.  By that point they were probably right, given all that had happened between them.  Things were exacerbated by the fact that both Marvin and Steve have somewhat volatile personalities.  In Steve this is somewhat excusable, but in Marvin it is unforgivable because he is the businessman here, the one that should be promoting a community conducive to selling products.  

I think that Marvin decided in a fit of anger that 3rd was dead and that he would no longer sell anything 3rd related.  He claimed it was because of legal advice, but as others have noted that doesn't make sense.  I think he decided to kill 3rd at that point and continue with 4th in the hope that everyone would either switch or go away.  Truthfully, at that point, he didn't have much choice because the 3rd well was so poisoned.   Nearly everyone that was motivated, capable, and willing to work on 3rd had been part of the last blowup over the dissolution of the 3DG.  

I guess you could say that he got his wish.  The list is almost completely 4th ed at this point.   As Matt notes, there are very few fiction posts any more, and to me the vitality that used to exist is gone.  So many old hands got sour over the constant fighting or the eventual blow up that the list lost something that had made it special.  

Quote from: "crucis"
Furthermore, if sales continued to show that there was more interest in 3e products than 4e products, a smart business man would have said to hell with 4e and focused his new production efforts on the products that the customers really wanted.  

*sigh*  

Very little of this has anything remotely to do with logic, and I think we can all probably agree that Marvin either isn't a very good business man, or at the very least allows his personality to interfere with what should be purely professional business situations.

Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, MW, I see that Marvin has replied on The List regarding your Digigamers question by saying that he thinks that it's dead.  Is "digigamers" the same thing as this CorbyNova thing?

It makes me wonder if all that online Starfire stuff has completely died, if this might change a few things?  Or at least let Marvin open his eyes to new possibilities, a little bit of a back to the future kind of thing...  What was old is new again?  :wink:


Ouch.  Marvin had a lot hopes for the Digigamer's thing, which he told me once he thought was the future of Starfire.  My personal opinion was that Marvin wasn't as focused as he shoudl have been on the Fiction Project that he started because of the whole Digigamers issue, which apparently would have allowed you to play both strategic and tactical starfire online, seamlessly, with multiple players.  If they pulled it off, which they didn't.  Steve was right.  After all of this years of experience programming SA he said all along that Digigamers had no idea of the complexity of strategic starfire, and that they were in over their heads.  

It isn't the same as Corbynova, which is, from what little I know, a sort of online Starfire Assistant.  Basically it is a Space Master Assistant, and may allow players to play a stragic game via e-mail or online.  Much more basic and less ambitious than Digigamers, which is probably why they have been up and running for quite a while.
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 08:59:18 PM
Quote from: "Kurt"
Quote from: "crucis"
(Argh!!!  My browser ate my reply!!!)

Let's try this again...

All this talk of schisms makes the recent history of Starfire sound like the title of an upcoming Dave Weber book...

By Schism Rent Asunder


A pity.  A real pity.  IMHO, there was still plenty of life left in 3e.

I just don't understand WHY Marvin killed 3e, in spite of the schsim, etc.  Why throw away potential sales for such a small business, when most of those products were zero cost PDFs to begin with?:

Well, there were several things happening here.  First off, it wasn't clear at first that there was going to be such a large faction that continued to actively play 3rd edition.  There are always some that don't move on to the next edition, I think there was at least one guy on the list that still only played second edition <G>.  Marvin truly thought that 4th was better than 3rd, and had no way of knowing what was going to happen until it happened.  

Yeah, I remember seeing that some posts from that 2e person.   Actually, 3e is pretty much what I think Dave wanted 2e to be, except that he was constantly fighting with TFG at the time of 2e and 2e was more a result of compromises with the TFG Starfire editor (who was a complete pain in the butt).


Quote
... In Steve this is somewhat excusable, but in Marvin it is unforgivable because he is the businessman here, the one that should be promoting a community conducive to selling products.

I think that Marvin decided in a fit of anger that 3rd was dead and that he would no longer sell anything 3rd related.  He claimed it was because of legal advice, but as others have noted that doesn't make sense.  I think he decided to kill 3rd at that point and continue with 4th in the hope that everyone would either switch or go away.  Truthfully, at that point, he didn't have much choice because the 3rd well was so poisoned.   Nearly everyone that was motivated, capable, and willing to work on 3rd had been part of the last blowup over the dissolution of the 3DG.  

While 3e may have lost all of the 3dg people that could have helped it move forward, it just seems so dump to have stopped selling a product that could have continued to make Marvin some more money.   :roll:

And hoping that a significant portion of his customer base would go away seems utterly moronic to me.  Marvin should have learned something from the New Coke/Classic Coke debacle.

Maybe the demise of the Digigamers thing will have some sort of impact on Marvin.  But with the mistakes that he's made in the past, it's hard to hold out much hope.


Quote
I guess you could say that he got his wish.  The list is almost completely 4th ed at this point.   As Matt notes, there are very few fiction posts any more, and to me the vitality that used to exist is gone.  So many old hands got sour over the constant fighting or the eventual blow up that the list lost something that had made it special.  


INDEED.  The vitality on the List came from the role-players, not the power-gamers.  Power gamers just check in when they have some problem, or whatever.  Role-players, whether they're producers of fiction or not, are probably checking in to submit or read the stories of others, to read of the exploits of someone else's great empires.  

If The List had been around when I was seriously into Starfire in the 80's and early 90's, I'd have submitted campaign reports and a couple of (not particularly well written) stories.  I had some moderately extensive campaign reports in my Starfire III or 2e campaign that featured the Star Dominion of Crucis (the *original* Crucians), the Mekklon Empire, and The Vegan Empire, as well as a late entry by a mysterious power (mysterious because I can't find much of any documentation on them in my Starfire archive) named the Basharaan of Zapuushar.

I actually wrote up campaign reports every 5 turns back then and snail mailed them to Dave and Steve.  Dave actually made some ship design suggestions for one of the Mekklons (IIRC) at a time that they were in a serious bind.  A cheap HET laser armed CT (at a time before HET Lasers were canon technology) and another CT, but I don't remember the deals on it.  It was great having Dave as a gaming buddy at the time, cuz I had ALL the poop on all of the new systems that he had in his fertile mind's pipeline.
Title:
Post by: MWadwell on September 13, 2007, 09:55:44 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, MW, I see that Marvin has replied on The List regarding your Digigamers question by saying that he thinks that it's dead.  Is "digigamers" the same thing as this CorbyNova thing?


As Kurt said, Corbynova is an online SM assistant - based on the 4th ed rules.

I can remember, that when Marvin signed the deal with Digigamers, SA and Corbynova had to have permission from Digigamers to remain available (as digigamers had the sole rights to an electronic version of starfire). The reason I remember this, is that Will Gore (and someone else) was working on an online battle resolver (i.e. you can play the battles over the net), that was killed by Marvin (thanks to the agreement with Digigamers).

Oh well, it just reinforces your comments about it is the roleplaying (i.e. "passionate") players who are the ones that invest their time to create aids, not the power players.....

BTW, here is a link to Corbynova (now known as "Starfire Online"):
http://www.starfireonline.com/ (http://www.starfireonline.com/)
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 13, 2007, 10:09:12 PM
Quote from: "MWadwell"
Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, MW, I see that Marvin has replied on The List regarding your Digigamers question by saying that he thinks that it's dead.  Is "digigamers" the same thing as this CorbyNova thing?

As Kurt said, Corbynova is an online SM assistant - based on the 4th ed rules.

I can remember, that when Marvin signed the deal with Digigamers, SA and Corbynova had to have permission from Digigamers to remain available (as digigamers had the sole rights to an electronic version of starfire). The reason I remember this, is that Will Gore (and someone else) was working on an online battle resolver (i.e. you can play the battles over the net), that was killed by Marvin (thanks to the agreement with Digigamers).

Oh well, it just reinforces your comments about it is the roleplaying (i.e. "passionate") players who are the ones that invest their time to create aids, not the power players.....


That's a great point (i.e. about creating aids, system generators, etc.) that I'd overlooked.

It seems that these contracts with Digigamers were just killing the joy of Starfire's most passionate players.

While he saved Starfire in the 90's when he purchased it, it seems to me that with all that has gone on in the last few years, aside from the UTM, Marvin couldn't have done a better job of killing Starfire if he'd set out from day one to do it.  

There just seems to be no joy in the Starfire game system on the List.  Hell, I think that there's more excitement about Starfire in this one thread than there is on the List, since I joined it in July.




BTW, I've noticed, and I'm sure that you have as well, MW, that the people on the Starfire List are all talking about some online Sci-Fi game called EVE, among them Marvin.  I don't know exactly why, but this is pissing me off a bit.  I'm so tempted to ask why the people on the Starfire List, Marvin in particular, aren't working on making STARFIRE fun to play again, instead of using the Starfire List to wax poetic about some other game.
Title:
Post by: Charlie Beeler on September 14, 2007, 01:49:37 PM
I've noticed over the last 2 years that posting to the List has had a downward spiral.  From the increasingly sparse fiction to even sporatic battle reports.  

The sad part about the Digigamers part is that Marvin's contract is appearently open ended.  And they (DigiGamers) appear to have indicated to Marvin that they intent to retain the contractural control of the Starfire Web content.  Based on performance he should be able to break the contract for non-performance by them.  I have the feeling that he won't since appearently finding the EVE has the online content he wanted.

Something to keep in mind.  Marvin is not a businessman.  The last I'd heard was that he was an ATC Controller.  Which is an Alpha personality kind of job.  That's not a slam of Marvin.  But it does mean that there can be un-intended bad outcomes if the Alpha type looses control of something.  Sometimes to the point of destroying that something instead of reliquishing control.
Title:
Post by: Arwyn on September 14, 2007, 03:46:12 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
While he saved Starfire in the 90's when he purchased it, it seems to me that with all that has gone on in the last few years, aside from the UTM, Marvin couldn't have done a better job of killing Starfire if he'd set out from day one to do it.  

There just seems to be no joy in the Starfire game system on the List.  Hell, I think that there's more excitement about Starfire in this one thread than there is on the List, since I joined it in July.

BTW, I've noticed, and I'm sure that you have as well, MW, that the people on the Starfire List are all talking about some online Sci-Fi game called EVE, among them Marvin.  I don't know exactly why, but this is pissing me off a bit.  I'm so tempted to ask why the people on the Starfire List, Marvin in particular, aren't working on making STARFIRE fun to play again, instead of using the Starfire List to wax poetic about some other game.


I have been a long time Starfire player (since the original zip lock baggie version) and enjoyed the hell out of it. I have been a gamer for 35 years, and what impressed me about the Starfire system, was that it remained PLAYABLE over several generations. I played SFB extensively when it first came out, and as the expansions started rolling out, the game slowly began to die under the weight of its own rules. Saw the same thing happen with Squad Leader. That didnt happen with Starfire.

I have bought everything Starfire related that I could, and while I really liked 3ed, I always thought there were some rough edges that could be smoothed out. I had thought that was Marvin's goal with 4th, and had spoken with him about it a couple of times while ordering stuff.

It became pretty clear there were going to be some pretty serious departures from the previous generation, and while I did purchase 4th, I have never run a game with the rules. I found the 4th stuff to be pretty schizophrenic. The GSF stuff had some good stuff in there, and the systems design and economic rules had some nice material. Then I hit the technology section and the wheels came off the car. 4th ed tech rules and generation just sucked. IMO, the quest for the mythical "play balance" ruined the core of what made Starfire enjoyable.

I think that while the overall idea behind 4th was a good one (organization, simplification, some play balance), the implementation was poor. The previous body of work on Starfire pretty much got pitched right out the window, which was (IMO) kind of like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. In ANY large scale dynamic system with a built in random generation system, there WILL NEVER be a fair game. Ever. Period. As in "Not going to happen in this lifetime".

This isnt just anyones opinion, its a statistical fact.

That is what frustrated me so badly with the "play balance" faction at the time. There just isn't a way to create a "balanced" random generator. SM #2 and some of the subsequent rules did make it less likely you would get ganked by a hostile NPR in the first few turns of the game, but that was about it. Trying to cram a "one size fits all" approach to what is supposed to be a randomly generated system kind of defeated the whole purpose of the strategic game. At the same time, there was a whole section of "unique encounters" that WERE play balance altering. :D
Title:
Post by: Arwyn on September 14, 2007, 03:49:33 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, I've noticed, and I'm sure that you have as well, MW, that the people on the Starfire List are all talking about some online Sci-Fi game called EVE, among them Marvin.  I don't know exactly why, but this is pissing me off a bit.  I'm so tempted to ask why the people on the Starfire List, Marvin in particular, aren't working on making STARFIRE fun to play again, instead of using the Starfire List to wax poetic about some other game.


Eve is an online PvP sci fi MMO.

Basically, you have groups of players (Corporations in game) grouping with other corporations and this large alliances then seize portions of know space in game, and denying access to the rest of the player base.

Outside of production and PvP, their isnt a lot of other content.
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 14, 2007, 04:51:17 PM
Quote from: "Arwyn"
Quote from: "crucis"
BTW, I've noticed, and I'm sure that you have as well, MW, that the people on the Starfire List are all talking about some online Sci-Fi game called EVE, among them Marvin.  I don't know exactly why, but this is pissing me off a bit.  I'm so tempted to ask why the people on the Starfire List, Marvin in particular, aren't working on making STARFIRE fun to play again, instead of using the Starfire List to wax poetic about some other game.

Eve is an online PvP sci fi MMO.

Basically, you have groups of players (Corporations in game) grouping with other corporations and this large alliances then seize portions of know space in game, and denying access to the rest of the player base.

Outside of production and PvP, their isnt a lot of other content.


Sounds like the perfect game for Marvin and his 4e powergamers.  All competition, no flavor.
Title:
Post by: crucis on September 14, 2007, 05:27:49 PM
Arwyn, so much of what you wrote is exactly what I feel.

4e: Yucky technical systems with little to no flavor, confusing r&d rules, upgraded system generation rules,

There are ways to mitigate the "risk" of encountering a hostile NPR early.  For starters, you could rule from on high that you encounter no NPRs for 1 game year.  Might be a little boring for the people looking for battles, but if you're thinking long term, it might give you a chance to do some exploring and get started on some colonizing.  Or you could make it, no NPRs within X transits of your homeworld, if you want to explore and colonize a bit more slowly (in game terms).  That is, with a set time, some players might take the opportunity to explore outwards like crazy.  Indeed, with a set time, you might almost have to explore like crazy, just to keep up with the jones.  So, perhaps a set number of "no NPR" transits from your honesystem might be better.  Actually, Ultra (and perhaps earlier versions) set up a 1 transit buffer zone, but for those who are really worried about early nasty NPRs could just make a deeper buffer zone.



As for the randomness, therefore the inherent imbalance, of system generation, you are exactly correct.  Like I said earlier, if you want perfect balance, get rid of all NPRs and have only a single template for all star systems.  That'd be perfectly balanced.  And it'd be perfectly boring.  Any process that creates the high degree of randomness and variety as does the Starfire system generation process does, particularly when you add things like anomalies and galactic oddites, is by definition going to be random, inconsistent, and unbalancing.  

However, if you're playing a larger game, as Steve and others have described, I think that you could also say that statistically, things will tend to even out in larger Starfire galaxies.  Sure, the NEXT star system thru the NEXT warp point may be horribly rich, may have a terribly nasty NPR (or a very friendly NPR), be a deadly nebula, pulsar, neutron star, or black hole.  And sure, you could have bad luck at a bad time, but them's the breaks.   If you can't deal with it, you're playing the wrong game.  People that want a game that 100% skill should be playing something like chess.



I also agree with your comment that the 4e weapons seem so bland.  Everything's just bland weapon X of generation Y.  There are no "Heterodyne Lasers", no SBM's, no flavor.  If anything, 3e could have used more flavor, not less flavor as has been seen in 4e.    "Ooooooo, I'm soooooo excited.  I just developed the 'e' generation of Lasers.  I'm sooooo excited."  Spare me.   :roll:




I'm not the history major that you are, Arwyn, but as a mere layman I've come to the same general conclusions as you.    R&D is an effort to create imbalance.  There are some evolutionary developments in weaponry, but the way that I see it with my layman's view, that's what happens between the big breakthroughs.  People don't stop trying to make things better, of course, but the real goal is to find the next magic bullet, or golden bee-bee, or whatever you want to call the "next" big breakthru that gives you a major advantage over your enemy, even if that advantage is fleeting... just as long as you can use that advantage mercilessly until your enemy manages to duplicate it.



Ah well.  I think that I'm nearly done on my Ultra-ized system generator, and perhaps within a week or 2, I'll be ready to start my new solo campaign with my 3rd "Fred" rules.
Title: missile costs in SA
Post by: jmelzer on September 17, 2007, 09:45:54 PM
Quote from: "crucis"
Quote from: "Steve Walmsley"
Quote from: "crucis"

-- snip by Jacob

Quote
However, a simple way to give missile ships a more realistic balancing effect in 3rdR would be to remove their magical ability to reload their magazines whenever they like (thanks to the omnipotent Missile Fund and CFN). In the original 3rd rules, those missiles had to be built and moved to the ships, which gave missile ships a logistical tail that the beam ships didn't need to worry about. I have added this logistical element to missiles in Aurora and you really need to think about manufacture and supply if you want to use a lot of missile ships and/or carriers. The gutting of missile weapons in 4th was using a sledgehammer to crack a nut (a nut that Marvin added in the first place with the CFN and the Missile Fund).

I fully understand what you're saying, Steve.  The problem is that you run into divergent, but legitimate goals of simplicity/reduced paperwork vs game balance/perceived realism.  On one hand, attempting to reduce paperwork and create overall simplicity tends to favor pushing towards not having to buy, move, and track individual missiles and hiding all of that under some layers of abstraction.  OTOH, the desire for game balance and a perception of realism tends to push towards paying attention to all of those individual missiles.

Personally, I've always been enough of an accountant at heart in my campaigns that I never minded paying attention to those details, but I can understand that some might not want to do so.

I suppose that it also comes down to how much of the detail of various things should players have to pay attention to and how much should be subsumed into the game's abstractions.  For example, we don't have to worry about paying for food or specific spare parts or whatever.  All that stuff is assumed to be a part of the maintenance abstraction.  Of course, it's safe to say that those things don't exactly have a direct impact on combat.  

The question for missiles then seems to become what's more important, the simplicity/reduction in paperwork aspect or the balance/realism aspect?  One point that I'd make is that I think that the "balance" question is debateable.  People may feel differently about how out of balance missiles may be.  OTOH, I  would like to think that most people would think that the value of simplicity and paperwork reductions are good things... which in the end, is why I'd probably tend to lean in favor of the simplicity side of the argument, just because its value seems unquestioned, while the balance side of the argument seems much more up in the air.  Of course, as they say, your mileage may vary.  

I suppose if one was playing a low money, low number of ships type of campaign, paying attention to ammo would be far less of a concern.  But at the fleet sizes in ISF, paying attention to ammo at any level of detail could be nasty if you didn't have the soul of an accountant.



-- snip by Jacob


This is a game that makes players (or SA  :lol: ) track the cost of every ship in the fleet, for maintenance purposes. The cost of a magazine loadout could have been added into the ship cost before calculating maintenance. If you "balance" the magazine loadout right, you reach a situation where the cost of the missiles balances out with the cost of beams.

This wasn't worth throwing out a gaming system over.
I was alway amused comparing how Marvin handled Starfire, and how Bruce Harper developed his update of 3rd Reich (The World at War).
Bruce developed the whole game openly, with playtest groups, and a public message forum. The rules were (still are) downloadable on the internet ... and while I didn't agree with every design decision (e.g. I still think he exagerated the combat power of the German battlefleet), I understood the reasoning behind all of them (e.g. the designer was trying to simulate how the allies through about / treated the German warships -e.g. large # of British capital units picketing the Tirpitz late in the war.

Of coure, Bruce wasn't doing it "for the money". He's a lawyer, and probably could have made as much in 2 or 3 weeks on his "day job" as he ever did from the game. But the game was published by a serious games publisher (GMT Games) ... most expensive individual game I ever bought.
Title: Re: missile costs in SA
Post by: Steve Walmsley on September 19, 2007, 04:55:46 PM
Quote from: "jmelzer"
I was alway amused comparing how Marvin handled Starfire, and how Bruce Harper developed his update of 3rd Reich (The World at War). Bruce developed the whole game openly, with playtest groups, and a public message forum. The rules were (still are) downloadable on the internet ... and while I didn't agree with every design decision (e.g. I still think he exagerated the combat power of the German battlefleet), I understood the reasoning behind all of them (e.g. the designer was trying to simulate how the allies through about / treated the German warships -e.g. large # of British capital units picketing the Tirpitz late in the war.

Of coure, Bruce wasn't doing it "for the money". He's a lawyer, and probably could have made as much in 2 or 3 weeks on his "day job" as he ever did from the game. But the game was published by a serious games publisher (GMT Games) ... most expensive individual game I ever bought.

I can sympathise a lot with the Bruce Approach :). Getting the feedback and suggestions from the players on this forum has made a huge difference to Aurora.

Steve