Phoenix
Phoenix: BSE
Phoenix at a Glance
The Game
Sign Up
Nexus Tour
FAQ
Flagship#130 Review
Contact
Resources
History
Wallpapers
IRC and player sites
SubSpace Static Archive
214
Previous Years
Intergalactic News
Issue 28
Issue 27
Issue 26
Issue 25
Issue 24
Issue 23
Issue 22
Older Issues
 
From Missions to Meglomania

From Missions to Meglomania

Having read a couple of issues of IGN, been entertained by the stories and starting thinking that there is quite a bit to this game, you may now be ready to take the plunge. If this is the case or even if you have already signed up but are now confused, this article is for you.

You may be wondering where the game is. There is nothing obvious to point you mouse at and no graphics of a ship, just a big ol' table that looks like a forum. Where's the control interface and which buttons controls movement and how do you fire your weapons? Phoenix has none of this - if it did, how could you possibly control a hundred ships simultaneously, each acting independently? How could you march across a world and storm a stronghold with a hundred thousand soldiers? How could you conduct research in a dozen facilities and supervise factories while mining rigs churned up asteroids? Phoenix offers all this and because of this, such things as spinning planets, blaster sounds and real-time control of ships are superfluous to the game, in fact they would make the game unplayable. Phoenix is a strategy, roleplaying, resource and diplomacy game - things happen on all scales, from an assassin putting a bullet in the head of a beloved leader all the way up to a thousand ships launching salvo after salvo of antimatter missiles in a desperate bid to turn the tide of annihilation. What really separates it from massive multi-player games though is that you - yes, you - can do all this - on your own!


Is the game complicated?
Yes and no.

No because the basics are really simple - moving about and transfer items account for most of the things you will be doing and as your initial ships are already fully functional, you don't need to concern yourself with the nitty-gritty. To begin with all you need to do is follow the fairly clear instructions in your missions and get to know the players.

Yes because there is a hell of a lot of it and it is heavily nuanced - three types of movement for ships, more than five types of troops, three types of combat. There is always something new to learn. Many players have specialized in some aspect of the game but are utterly clueless about others. This also pretty much sets it apart from mainstream games that you can learn in a few minutes and equally tire of all too soon. While we are not trying to stop people from joining the game we do feel that a game is really only any good if you have to invest time into learning it and that even after years of playing there are still things to know. Phoenix has been designed as a game for life!

The game is strategic in its implementation in that you submit orders for any or all of your positions and they carry them out. As others are doing the same this can result in very complicated scenarios. There is a lot of planning and plotting in Phoenix. You can have plans that take years to come to fruition or react to events that are over in a day.

Nexus in a Nutshell
This online site has everything you need to play the game. This boils down to just three necessary features:

  • Submit orders for your assets
  • View your assets along with the results of the orders you submitted
  • Access data about the game universe

Everything else, the forums, messaging system, libraries, missions etc are simply bells and whistles that make the game easier and more enjoyable to play.

Missions
So, back to your situation - you have signed up, you have been thrown through the first mission, created your ship, chose a captain and pressed the submit button and wait... Er, why the wait, why not process all submitted orders in real time? And what is with all these bloody numbers?

Some History
Phoenix has its origins in the mists of multi-player gaming - it comes from a time when people used letters and even wrote things by hand - okay, you can stop chuckling now. A set of instructions would be sent into KJC by post, opened by the staff then the orders would be manually inputted. At the end of the day all the turns (the term for the results of the orders and the manifests of the positions) would be printed and posted out back to the players. Attempting to input (DOS screens) names for items, systems and planets was a nonstarter from a commercial point of view. As a consequence all the games used numbers to represent all these fields. While you now have dropdown menus, learning a few numbers can make for quick inputting of orders. For more about what fields exist and details, see the appended section below. Getting to know some of the common numbers can speed up inputting your orders no end though using the dropdowns is a useful way of double-checking your entries as are reviewing your orders on Nexus.
A key feature that endures even to today is the ability to play the game around normal working hours and even take a break for days while your positions are active in the game. Further, as turns were not (and still aren't) processed at the weekend you can play when convenient for you (often generating orders during work breaks).

So, the strategic nature of the game means that you generate orders, submit them and wait for the results. To begin with you are doing a lot of waiting around and then probably spending no more than an hour a week creating orders for your couple of ships (mostly spent looking at maps and rules) - not much to do but then again that's the point. As running individual ships often requires very little time, you can start to collect more ships especially as you can often send two, three or more to help do the same job - you are now on your way to megalomania.

Signing up for a political and joining an affiliation will open the doors to more assets really quickly. Before you know what has happened you could be controlling 20 ships, half a dozen outposts and maybe even a starbase. This will be a very exciting time as you work out things like manufacturing, searching for new ores, maybe even doing some exploration. There will be trade to get to grips with in order to pay for all the personnel that have come with your swelling asset base. You will have questions about blueprints, defenses, weapon systems, platforms, refitting ships, platforms and merchandising. You will be learning about squadrons and creating macro-orders in order to make submitting common sets of orders more efficient. You will be chuckling that you ever spent more than ten minutes a week dealing with a single ship as you become the spider at the centre of a web.


Infinite Expansion
You may look to start your own shipbuilding programme. You will need shipyards, blueprints for ship designs and the components from which ships are built. Are you going to buy these in or go the whole way, mining the minerals, building the hulls, armour and installed items as well as hiring mercenaries and training them up into crew? With large starbases, solid production and research you could be increasing your complement of ships by half a dozen small freighters a week or maybe just a couple of warships. By this point you could be running battle fleets patrolling your empire or trade fleets that span known space. Given a few years you could be running hundreds of ships, dozens of outposts and maybe even a handful of starbases - if your budget allows.

Keeping it Real
At some point however you have to look at what you have, what you want and what you can manage. Ideally all these should be the same, but if you have more than you want or can manage, get help - chat with your affiliation members and allies. Be realistic about your commitment and bin off excess assets. Burn out is a very real phenomena in Phoenix. Some players over the course of half a decade have ended up taking on more than they have time for and have had to go cold-turkey. Generally they return (because there is no game quite like Phoenix) after a break with a promise to themselves to resist the temptation of taking on too much and trying to single-handedly control and run the entire affiliation.

Appendix - Number Fields  [Recruit]

Back in the days of BSE (the postal/email forerunner to Phoenix) you submitted a list of instructions:

Ship Bob's Demise(4855)
Acct: 1234
Move to SS: 1052
Swap Engines
Jump: Capellan (1)
Enter orbit: Agin(854)
Buy from: Ratnest (445)
10 BCMs (35)
Leave Orbit
Jump Starling(160)
Swap Engines
Move to SS:135

This allowed for rapid entering of the instructions, making the game commercially viable.

Decades later, we are still employ the basic numbering system. We do use auto-complete in many places along with dropdowns in alphabetical order but for many veteran players knowing the number is very useful. It's handy knowing that metals is item 1, the Yank star system is 146 and the numbers of your favourite starbase and ships.

So it is handy to know something about the various number lists in the game.

Positions - each position has a unique number between 0 and 100,000
Positions include:

  • Starbases
  • Outposts
  • Ships
  • Ground Parties
  • Agents
  • Operatives
  • Platforms
  • Politicals
  • Cargo Dump


Items - items can have any number though they are rarely above 100,000. Originally items tended to be grouped around number ranges, such as ores with numbers below 50, trade goods with numbers over 30,000 and troops around the 500 region. Years of expanding the item lists due to player research and game upgrades has meant that there has been a blurring of the original structure. While not totally random, an advanced version or a common object may have been inserted into the database at much higher number if the next sequential number had already been assigned.

Item Types - are definitions of items that perform the same task. For example Troops accounts for everything from Felini Marines through to Human Mercenaries. Zero(0) is reserved for Any item. This is quite handy for emptying a position such as a cargo dump of all its contents. There are about 80 Item Types. It is not uncommon to accidently use Pick Up Item Type rather than Pick Up Item. The difference is that Item Type(1) is Troops, while Item (1) is Metals. I am sure more than one person has been as confused as all the soldiers in the cargo hold. It does therefore warrant a little look-see at the boxes, even if you are in a rush.

Officers - officers, though an item are each classed as unique. As there are thousands in the game, they each have their own data held on the item rather than assigning each a space in the item data base. Each officer is preceded with a #. Use this # system when dealing specifically with the officer. The manifests of positions have been designed so that there should be little confusion as officers will be listed in their own section. Just don't forget to use the # symbol when transferring them. Picking up item #1 will take the first officer from the target position. If you are on your way to rendezvous with the warfleet, last thing you want to do is try to explain why you have 1mu of metals(1) in your cargo and no officer on board...
One final point on officers, their numbers can change to accomodate changes to the officer list on a position. If you have an officer then the next one you pick up, even if #1 from the position you are picking up from, will become #2 at the time of being added to your position. If you intend to deliver this new officer, then remember to use #2 or you will transfer your original officer.

Systems - Each system has a unique number. While you can theoretically enter any number into the orders, i.e. Jump to system 5, unless the system is common knowledge or you have specific knowledge of the system you will be told in your report that you do not know about this system. Alternatively, if you do know about it, there may be no obvious route to it. There are a few reasons for this. The system may require your ship to move through stargates or wormholes or may be beyond a region of space that you do not know about. When starting the game it is best to simply follow the missions and study the maps.
Halo-Kastorian Space - the best way to leave Halo is to move to the wormhole in Agripeta and enter it. This will bring you out in Yank in safe Kastorian Space (Outer Capellan Periphery).

Planets - These include planets, moons, gas giants, asteroids, belts, nebulae, stargates wormholes and anomalies. They are unique numbers within a system. A moon in one system for example can share the same number as a planet in another.

Resources and Mineral Deposits (ID#'s) - These are unique to the world on which they exist. It is a common mistake to use the item number rather than the ID#. For example a resource of Food (30048) may have ID# (1085) - Exploit Resource order should therefore use 1085, not 30048.

There are other fields though armed with the above information, everything else should be relatively straight forward.


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

*** Wimbles Crisis Solved ***

The Wimble Crisis of 217 has come to an end with the human Baron making way to the wimble Grandfather Paden Mastaak. Celebrations were held in Wimbledon upon the news with crack teams of Wimble security staff guarding all the pies.

It’s unclear how long the Wimbles will enjoy this new era of peace and self-determination.

Vocal Wimble Dinasha, one of Paden’s early backers, has chosen this precarious moment to bait Dewiek, Flagritz and humans who were initially disposed to be friendly to the new administration. Whilst the Wimbles' history with the former-slave-loving Flagritz could be understood, their animosity towards the Dewiek and humans was more mysterious. One insider alluded to a rise in the number of cases of foot-and-mouth across the herd as being a likely cause.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Storm in a Teacup *** Yahn Bares All * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door ***

The stargates are closed! Reports from multiple sources indicate at least three of the stargates, all within Dewiek controlled systems, have been closed.

Two different sources have indicated that the TCA have been spotted recently in a number of systems and may be behind this turn of events. A scan sent to the SSS indicated eight TCA ships were recently spotted first in the Faery system and later near the Kasmer stargate.

Another source, suspiciously put the blame on the ARC, suggesting the ARC and DEN were working together because they “need to trap [the TCA] and try and finish them off after the DEN bodged their operation to protect the ARC while they incinerated the MEK homeworld, which ended up with several ARC ships being destroyed and the job only being half done."

However, with no public statement from the Dewiek themselves, its hard to know whether these rumours are reliable.

Lord Igor of the Dominion and Erasmus Andersen of the Garcia Family both offered public apologies at the delay in meeting their trade commitments because of the recent closures. The not-so-subtle subtext being that someone will pay with blood for this interference in their business. Or at least with a stealthy price rise.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Wimble Civil Strife * Who Sniffs the Sniffers? * Largin’ It * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Videtis quantum scelus contra rem publicam vobis nuntiatum sit? ***

The Flagritz Empire is no more! The Flagritz Republic is reborn! Quick on the heel of the collapse of the Empire, the Fessin caste declared a new era of foreign and economic policy with a rapid withdrawal behind the Black Gate.

The new ecologically-friendly Prime Minister Kayxaer, asked for patience as “economic” reforms were undertaken. It remains to be seen whether there will be any price to pay for the dramatic changes being made by the reclusive Flagritzi or whether it will all be sunshine and rainbows going forward.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Large at Large * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Bravo for Freedom ***

Naplian Forces have attacked three human pirate outposts in the Morroglyph system. A spokesperson for Naplia HQ told the press that the plucky duct-tape loving free people would continue their war against slavers and pirates in their home periphery.

One salty Naplian libertarian told the SSS, “The people of the Naplian Home Periphery are sick and tired of human criminals coming here just because their homeworld is an overcrowded hell. It’s time for them to go back home.”

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Igor of Fang and Horns * Admiral Loves Dick Turpin * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

.What is It?
..a wOrmhOle?.
…No.. worse..
….the KANG singularity!…
…..It pulls us IN…..
……lOOks sO familiar……
…….yet so strange…….
……..what is……..
………that?……..

*** Flagritz Liberalise Economy ***

In good news for all the galaxy the Flagritzi have vowed to liberate all slaves across their Empire. Furthermore, the hectapods have given up eating other sentient species; taking up a strict diet of veganism and soy chai lattes. Sales of turtle neck sweaters and Forbidden Fruit laptops have skyrocketed.

The news was cautiously welcomed by the benevolent Felini Tyranny who looked forward to reducing the War phase of their daily Nap-Lick-Nap-War-Nap-Eat-Sleep cycle to a perfunctory forty winks.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Baron Womble * A Short History of the DPP * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Empire Strikes: Solo ***

A massive fleet of some 1600 warships, including large numbers of super-heavy capital 300 and 400 hullers, attacked the DEN in the Solo system, catching them with their metaphorical pants down. The DEN gate platform and some two hundred DEN freighters were subject to antimatter missiles amongst other high tech ordinance.

Jack the lad, Viceroy of the Empire, claimed a victory for freedom and the Imperial (right of) way leaving the sullen Dewiek unusually unresponsive.

With DOM platforms firing on CIA ships, will the IMP now demand the DOM add them to the Do Not Fire lists as well? And what exactly is the nature of the DOM and DEN alliance in light of the sustained attack from the Empire? And will the DEN’s alien friends stand idly by as the Empire fleet camps in the vital gate system of Solo? How will the DEN retaliate for this action or are they ready to roll over and have their bellies rubbed?

All this remains unknown. All that is certain is the “feel good” factor across the DTR has increased, with citizens reassured that for some time yet, they may continue in their slumber with the easy assurance that their number is not coming up anytime soon.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * New BHD Guy * DOM Statement * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** To Ur Is Dewiek ***

Dewiek forces had a hefty smackdown against the mysterious living ships known as the T’Cath (TCA). Seven adult TCA 400 hull capital ships, each firing eight of their notorious plasma cannons, were killed by a DEN and DOM fleet of some 700 ships.

Of the minimal losses suffered by the DEN / DOM, one-eyed Magnus and Nevets Motnhap of the FEL were amongst the dead.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * Caribbean Congo Continues * Ur Witness Report * * Hive Briefing * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** The Long Quiet Season ***

Listen…
There’s no sound of anger or of annoyance,
There’re neither cruisers racing on the jump lanes
Nor there jump lanes for them to race on,
There’re neither monks chanting on the battlegrounds
Nor bells calling us to the True One.
There’s neither the lightning cracking of the sky
Nor the persistent Naplians pattering on my roof.
There’s no Dewiek arm in arm to admire the magnificent view
There’re no war drums to feed Human ears
Nor Hive sirens to steal the boredom away
There’s no unfamiliar wing creeping underneath the Falconian sun
Nor floods to enshroud the Aquaphid grounds
The land lies lonely out here
On this lazy summer’s day
There’s no pollution to poison the airs of Inversion
Nor forests to give them life
All I hear is the hushing sound of the wind
Assisting the sand to fall into beautiful undulations.

Whilst we’ve been away: * Operation Giantslayer * Naplian Liberation * Back in the DTTR * &etc

 
***** Inter Galactic News *****

*** Falconians Saved ***

The Imperials have cunningly saved the Falconian Republic from being consumed by the Dewiek Elder Nation and at no small cost to the DEN either. Whilst the new pro tem Consul crowed about the “victory”, all former FCN systems besides Acropolis have been taken over by the two warring Empires - Human and Flagritz.

Was it all worth it? For the IMP / GTT it clearly was, for the movement of a few hundred thousand troops is surely nothing to the cost they endured trying to and failing to knock the DEN out of Solo after the fact. The FCN now plucked off most of their navy and wider assets are a tiny nothing of their former self. The DEN may have resorted to some dirty namecalling but can the costs endured to save an enfeebled FCN have really been worth it? Time will tell.

Inside this issue of the SSS: * INDignation * FELicitous Caribbean * Nah Plan for Naplia * Mercs Trouble DEN * &etc

 

Free Ship when you sign-up
Complete missions for in game rewards
Control everything, up to an entire empire
Dedicated human moderators
Player and Moderator driven plotlines
Discover new worlds to explore, exploit & colonise
Over 20 years of content development
Persistent Browser-Based Game (PBBG)

I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic