Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Crucis on Sun 16 Jun 2013 01:54

mcb1968 wrote:It looks like you are still taking the approach of presenting Starfire as an integrated campaign/tactical system. I backed away from the game for years because it was presented in this format. I would sooner buy products featuring linked campaigns or scenarios within a good backstory than a monster campaign game. Market wise, tactical games have a broader reach than empire building games. Look at the plethora of tactical starship games that have done fairly well. The campaign system for them (where there is one) is distinct from the tactical game.

Starfire's strengths are fast play and easy ship design which allows players to tweak ships fairly easily. There is a good pool for players who will take the plunge on this.

Even within a linked campaign game there is room to allow players to build and deploy variants on existing ship designs without getting bogged down into the minutiae of budgets and such. The pool of players who have the time and inclination to do the accounting and production calcs to run an empire is way smaller and many of them are going to be looking more for a high level approach such as Twilight Imperium or Space Empires 4x or even Federation and Empire.

Steven Cole's genius in presenting the escalating tech of ISW1 and ISW2 in the original Starfire as a series of tactical battles, was that it provided not only a good, if loose back story, but also a programmed instruction approach to learning the game. SF 2 continued this tradition, but it seems to have been lost with 4E and follow on editions. There were several operational campaigns presented in NEXUS that clearly showed how this type of approach could fit into the Starfire experience.

I think Marvin assumed that because all the folks that were "involved" in the Starfire community at the time he took the game over were campaign aficionados, that this was the strongest market for the game. I can tell you that for my part, this is certainly not the case, and I think there may be many potential players and customers out there that would respond better to a more tactical approach to the game.



mcb1968, I think that it's probably safe to say that a lot of how Marvin and others viewed the Starfire community was predicated on the makeup of the people on The old Starfire Mailing List back then. And while I was not a member, I have read thru the old mailing list extensively, and I can tell you that tactical only players were almost or entirely non-existent. So I can't blame Marvin for thinking that his market for the game was the campaign players, since they were the ones who cared enough to join the mailing list and talk Starfire. The old Starfire Mailing List was quite large and incredibly active, and totally dominated by strategic players.

This is not to diss tactical players. But sometimes if you want to get noticed, you have to speak up (which you are doing here, BTW). But back then, no tactical players were speaking up on the mailing list.


Another thing to remember, which I think that you've been overlooking when we try to tell you, is that we're not full time game designers. We're regular people with regular jobs for whom Starfire is a hobby and a passion. And people like us tend to work on the things that we enjoy. And if the designers are full-on strategic game players, should it be a surprised that they like working on the strategic game?

That said, I'm more in between. Unlike some players who came to the game after 3rd Edition was produced and the first Starfire novels were published, I came to the game during 1st edition in the early 80's, and played one really big solo campaign using just plain old 1st edition Starfire III: Empires. So I know what you're talking about when it comes to simple. The idea of a campaign system at the low complexity level of SFIII appeals to me greatly (with the exception of the sysgen rules and the game scales used which were ridiculously unrealistic). Also, the idea of writing scenario modules is why I got into doing Cosmic in the first place. Once the tactical rules are completed for Cosmic, it's my intention to produce scenario modules. (Heck, right now, I'm working on outlining the first few wars of the Cosmic history, because I want to know who's fighting who, who wins and loses, and what tech was used, so that I can add some "historically accurate" fluff in the tech item descriptions.)

Anyways, that's all I have for now. I appreciate your stance, and hope that some of the work I do with Cosmic will appeal to you. (And I apologize to Cralis for slightly hijacking his Solar thread for some Cosmic discussion.)
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Vandervecken on Sun 16 Jun 2013 03:08

Just remember that there are no current tactical products for a tactical player to comment about. There hasn't been for a LONG while. Well, there is the QSR; but unless you are lucky enough to know someone who already frequents this website, the average gamer will not have any idea it is out there. And a game with a real board and counters would re-infuse Starfire into the gaming community; if someday you can make that 'capital hungry' goal happen. (Even a modern baggy version is gosh-darn expensive). I was certainly shocked about a decade ago, when I made an inquiry as to what a distributor wanted (Their cut) once I got MY own product published and added to it's distribution system. To make money meant that I'd have to sell quite a few units and that upped the up front money as well, and it upped the risk of losing money as well, with less chance to find resources to market it. A nasty, vicious circle that few game designers (New or old) can break. But getting something to the Gaming/Hobby stores still needs to be a stretch goal at SDS. Solar is very good, but Solar + tactical/physical game would be even better. The same goes for Cosmic, of course.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Vandervecken on Sun 16 Jun 2013 03:55

P.S. any reason why the official announcement in the Announcements hasn't moved the date of the 'Last post' It still shows as "on Sun 02 Jun 2013 21:30'" and not earlier this morning? It is there in the right spot but It never showed up for me highlighted in red that it had a new post in it either after I Logged in. Just letting ya know, as at home my "favorite" directs me right to the forums, whereas my "favorite" at my work computer goes to the main Starfire page where I see the 6.02 update message.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby aramis on Sun 16 Jun 2013 05:28

By the time y'all were asking, many of us Tactical players had been chased out of the mailing list.

And from the Delphi forums.

In re Cap Weapons...

The Rc was the only 1E capital weapon I recall... and it was restricted to ships of 30 HS or larger, as I recall. Made Rc useful on CL's.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Crucis on Sun 16 Jun 2013 05:55

aramis wrote:By the time y'all were asking, many of us Tactical players had been chased out of the mailing list.

And from the Delphi forums.


Interesting. I was never on the mailing list way back then (or even aware of it). And in all honesty, in all the time I read thru those old mailing list archives, I never remember seeing anything that looked like strategic players harassing tactical only players. However, I also never read every single message, so I could have easily missed this.


In re Cap Weapons...

The Rc was the only 1E capital weapon I recall... and it was restricted to ships of 30 HS or larger, as I recall. Made Rc useful on CL's.


This isn't correct, aramis. The smallest ships that were allowed to carry Rc were BC's. Says so right on pg 15, rule 16.2, 1st sentence of the Capital Ship Missiles rule in Starfire III: Empires rulebook. ;)

Regardless, I doubt that there'll ever by any such artificial limitation such as this in Solar or Cosmic. History doesn't support it. One of the more familiar examples is of the so-called German "pocket battleships" which were really just cruiser sized ships carrying "capital" 11" guns. Or you have the so-called "monitors" of the WW1/2 era that were smaller than contemporary cruisers of their era but mounted BB-grade guns.

Here's an example of one such "monitor", the HMS Erebus which was 7,200 tonnes but carried two 15" guns.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Erebus_(I02)


But I'm going off on a rather OT tangent, so I'll stop here.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby mcb1968 on Sun 16 Jun 2013 19:41

Crucis wrote:
mcb1968, I think that it's probably safe to say that a lot of how Marvin and others viewed the Starfire community was predicated on the makeup of the people on The old Starfire Mailing List back then. And while I was not a member, I have read thru the old mailing list extensively, and I can tell you that tactical only players were almost or entirely non-existent. So I can't blame Marvin for thinking that his market for the game was the campaign players, since they were the ones who cared enough to join the mailing list and talk Starfire. The old Starfire Mailing List was quite large and incredibly active, and totally dominated by strategic players.

This is not to diss tactical players. But sometimes if you want to get noticed, you have to speak up (which you are doing here, BTW). But back then, no tactical players were speaking up on the mailing list.


Another thing to remember, which I think that you've been overlooking when we try to tell you, is that we're not full time game designers. We're regular people with regular jobs for whom Starfire is a hobby and a passion. And people like us tend to work on the things that we enjoy. And if the designers are full-on strategic game players, should it be a surprised that they like working on the strategic game?

That said, I'm more in between. Unlike some players who came to the game after 3rd Edition was produced and the first Starfire novels were published, I came to the game during 1st edition in the early 80's, and played one really big solo campaign using just plain old 1st edition Starfire III: Empires. So I know what you're talking about when it comes to simple. The idea of a campaign system at the low complexity level of SFIII appeals to me greatly (with the exception of the sysgen rules and the game scales used which were ridiculously unrealistic). Also, the idea of writing scenario modules is why I got into doing Cosmic in the first place. Once the tactical rules are completed for Cosmic, it's my intention to produce scenario modules. (Heck, right now, I'm working on outlining the first few wars of the Cosmic history, because I want to know who's fighting who, who wins and loses, and what tech was used, so that I can add some "historically accurate" fluff in the tech item descriptions.)

Anyways, that's all I have for now. I appreciate your stance, and hope that some of the work I do with Cosmic will appeal to you. (And I apologize to Cralis for slightly hijacking his Solar thread for some Cosmic discussion.)


After the collapse of Task Force in the 1990's, the first I heard of a new Starfire game was the 4th edition which was presented as an internet oriented game publishing effort featuring pretty much the strategic game. I was never on the "Old Starfire Mailing List", and it sounds like it may have had limited hobby penetration. Mind you, I was out of the loop for much of the great collapse from 1986 to 1991, but I have kept up with the hobby including what I could of Starfire over the years. It does sound like the Cosmic Starfire may provide a revitalized story line to bring the game back into the mainstream and that would be cool.

For my part, I will continue to help with promoting the game, especially now that the new introductory rules are out. I have even sent a couple of folks your way already and they have bought some items.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Cralis on Sun 16 Jun 2013 20:04

mcb1968 wrote:was never on the "Old Starfire Mailing List", and it sounds like it may have had limited hobby penetration.


The old list, at it's height, had somewhere between 1000 and 1500 members. By comparison, TFG sold 30,000 copies of Imperial Starfire.

The truth is that the game had at least two times in it's history where the publisher did squat for a period of no less than 5 years and as a result players lost track (and interest) in the game. That is the primary reason I created this site and made a promise of releasing at least 1-2 products or updates per year for STARFIRE.

Interestingly enough, you don't know how many times I've heard someone say something like "Oh STARFIRE! That game seemed cool but the company let it die out. I have _______ and haven't been able to find anything else."

That _____ was usually something from 2nd edition or one of the 3rd edition scenario books.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby mcb1968 on Sun 16 Jun 2013 20:11

Yeah, know what you mean. :). I was talking the game up at Rapier, and I plan to put in my convention rotation beginning with Hurricon in August of this year. My first foray will be a "meet and greet" squadron engagement with each player commanding a squadron of 1 cruiser and 2 CT's per the basic rules. Looks like I will make about 5 conventions a year, and I plan to rotate Starfire among 3 of those as well as my local game shop.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby PracticalM on Mon 17 Jun 2013 11:55

I had read through the old compuserve forum discussions which is about as far back as I go and if the impression was that tactical players were not welcome, I didn't see that. Yes a lot of the discussion was on the strategic game because that's where the rules were more open to interpretation.

In the Starfire Mailing list off the Berkeley mail server I saw a number of tactical scenarios presented that were very interesting and had a lot of discussion about them. I know a lot of strategic players posted scenarios which generated a lot of discussion on the tactical aspects.

Many of the strategic and tactical questions overlap though. How many ships through a WP? What should we do about the tactic of putting all the ships in the same hex for battle? Should ships be built as generalists or specialized? How do you deal with swarms? All these (and more) were tactical questions asked and discussed on the Mailing List and no one cared if you played the strategic game when people chimed in.

Trying to balance the 4th and later edition's tech trees were a lot of tactical questions of how balanced are the generational tech systems.
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Re: Announcing SOLAR STARFIRE

Postby Cralis on Mon 17 Jun 2013 20:41

PracticalM wrote:In the Starfire Mailing list off the Berkeley mail server I saw a number of tactical scenarios presented that were very interesting and had a lot of discussion about them. I know a lot of strategic players posted scenarios which generated a lot of discussion on the tactical aspects.


Now that you have me thinking about it, probably hundreds of scenarios were presented from campaigns where the players wrote up the battle data. I didn't think of them as "tactical games", but if all you wanted to do was play tactical battles... any one of those scenarios would work just fine. And the best part would be that they'd have context in the larger picture of the story.

Many of the strategic and tactical questions overlap though. How many ships through a WP? What should we do about the tactic of putting all the ships in the same hex for battle? Should ships be built as generalists or specialized? How do you deal with swarms? All these (and more) were tactical questions asked and discussed on the Mailing List and no one cared if you played the strategic game when people chimed in.


Agreed.

Trying to balance the 4th and later edition's tech trees were a lot of tactical questions of how balanced are the generational tech systems.


Like anything new, they needed tweaking. And we've been tweaking them for a while. Having said that, I don't think it will ever be exactly perfect. But when you put the technologies in the context of a story line, they may not need to be!

(that doesn't mean we won't stop tweaking them, however...)
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