Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

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Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Fri 01 Nov 2019 11:54

This is one of the main points that I want to stress, so I hope I can make my case quickly and clearly, and hopefully generate a good deal of participation from everyone that wants to chime in. Unlike my other threads, in this thread I'm going to try something a bit different, and simply ask questions in the beginning, before I start off. So, here we go...

If starfire is going to be successful in creating a playerbase of campaign gamers (as opposed to a disproportionately large tactical vs. very small strategic playerbase), how much should these gamers have to learn, and (when and how) do they learn this? Right now, Solar Starfire is a very complex and involved gaming system, and one that seems to be aimed at the default way to learn this is to try to create an interstellar setting and rely on a SM to run the whole shebang. Is this a correct and fair assessment of where we are and where things are going?

If not, please share your own thoughts and impressions. If so, is this the best way forward?

My thinking is that the best way forward, to that shining future where folks (many thousands, or indeed millions of them) could come to know and love the starfire game franchise, might just be in keeping things simple, easy, and including strategic elements from day one, to eliminate (or greatly reduce) the tactical only players. We will never be able to make folks do lots of bookkeeping if that is not their thing, and that is carved into stone, so to get around that, we need to have the bookkeeping done in the background, by computer, so that folks that don't want to deal with any of that stuff, can create a game with all those rules/work just subsumed into the background environment, and leave them to enjoy the parts of a campaign game that they do like.

If we want to get strategic level of play on day one, but keep things fast paced enough that folks can keep the battles flowing, we need to keep things simple and easy, right?

What could be simpler than running a faction that plays against other factions within a Home World?

Make a starter game, have it set up on a single planet, within a single solar system, and provide dozens, scores, or even hundreds of scenarios, that take new players from the 'quick start', "this is what you have, what do you do with it" kind of thing, but within the context of an ongoing, greater game.

Initially, I would even propose that a player is just a single ship's captain, in command of their own ship, and on one of many given possible missions, when, inevitably, war breaks out, either with another faction, or alien invaders, and then the story should include several missions, where they have to accomplish different goals (the scenarios) within each predefined section of the rules. Some examples of such things might include:

1) Far flung exploration/exploitation vessels, either boldly going where no man has gone before, or the poor slob that is tasked with keeping the robotic 'Harvester Fleets" up and running and processing materials mined from the endless rocks in the "Debris Fields" on schedule propelling product in system for pickup by the other poor slobs that have to keep the robotic "Far Flung" merchant fleets running profitably and under costs, making pickups of inbound product by matching velocities and snatching them up for delivery further in-system. Naturally, one cannot simply tag such product and have it broadcasting its location, as then competitors may decide it is easy enough to risk high jacking/diverting/destroying such shipments, if they don't have to go the much harder route of searching for such...

This mission tree could include the rules sections of detection/silent running, resource extraction, commercial shipping, commerce raiding as well as the odd bit of combat.

2) Outpost Commanders. Have the players command one of a variety of the outer systems widely scattered outposts, with the mission types possibly being, 'distress call received, help is on the way', 'search and rescue' and 'hold the fort' missions where they have to call for help, and hold out for reinforcements to arrive.

This mission tree should cover commanding fixed defenses, S&R rules and implementation, and simple blockade/siege warfare on a small scale, as well as communications rules and limits.

3) Task Forces. Have the player progress to command of one of several naval task forces, and perform one complete path of missions of this nature, before moving on to other paths and their missions.

This tree should cover maneuver, speed and distances over time, balance of power, small fleet actions, bluffs and counter attacks.

4) Actions in the vicinity of the Home World. These missions should not really be attempted by the uninitiated, but rather played only by those that have mastered all the previous, and less involved/challenging ones listed previously.

This tree should cover all of the remaining tactical rules in the game.

The above are just a starting point, and I wish I could say that I have all of that ready to go and start posting scenarios immediately, but the truth is I have only some ideas, and some of them may or may not prove to be all that good, but these TOaST threads are going to be very important to making it possible to write these kinds of missions/scenarios.

So finally, why does the threads title mean anything?

Everyone that plays ALL of the 'required' scenarios (the ones that don't yet exist, mind you), should find that there are few if any parts of the game that they don't already have experience playing, from the linked tactical scenarios that tell the backstory of how we (the audience) arrive at the beginning of their turn 1. A Home World should never be 'just another planet', but rather one that has been developed before the game even begins. How do we do this, you might ask? Not with just a single pre-game turn, I think. We need to have a system in place where we get the rules for getting this down created, along with variations, so folks can have a good feel for what an actual starting off space faring civilization might have already had to deal with, just to even get too their home systems resources, let alone exploit them.

These TOaST threads are going to be where I learn how to write up the various concepts that I think are not fully developed and explored within the current rules, and I don't just mean Solar Starfire, but rather common amongst the entire genre.

I want to explore what our civilizations, nations among many within our home world, will experience as they move up and out of Earth's gravity well, into GSO and beyond, and having to consider at every step what a competitor may pull to undermine or sabotage them at any time, and what they will have to do as a consequence. The reason I made the first thread, was to have a basic starting place to begin gathering together the ideas that will allow us to begin building the needed knowledge base (and the scenarios that arise from that) to help cover the gaps between what we already have (game rules for how to expand outward from an established home system) and that which we still need, and that is the initial steps of getting out of the gravity well, and establishing our first orbital bases, and starting to gather resources in space, for use in space, to extend and expand our presence there, and start an ever increasing process of exploitation - expansion - exploration.

Procyon did a most amazing story, and I would like to do something like that, but systematically develop the process of exactly how a civilization like ours, gets to, establishes itself in orbit around Earth, and establishes orbital bases around the moon and throughout the whole Earth/Luna system, and begins to extract material resources. NEO's seem like a very likely place to begin harvesting tiny, bite sized pieces, while the moon offers a very large scale place to develop low-gravity industrial facilities and procedures. In the real world, we don't have anything like what a starfire race has with respect to propulsion capabilities, so we have no way to just fly out to the NEO's, scoop them up, bring them back into GSO or LEO, and start playing pac-man with them as their highly sought after material content become manufactured goods and components within our space based infrastructure, and whos waste materials, become the solid rock hulls of the constellations of man made satellites that will form around the home worlds of any race as they first begin moving into space.

What I envision for the near future, is that the nations of Earth will start sending out automated spacecraft that will effectively be part tug, and part miner operation, that will match velocities with, board/attach themselves to, and begin altering the natural orbits of many of the smaller NEO's, to bring them within range of either Orbital industrial facilities around either of Earth or Luna, or else impact them onto the Lunar surface directly.

What is easier, working in Zero G, Micro G, or Low G? Or are some types of operations going to go better in one place and not so well in another? I personally think that Lunar impact mining is probably the easiest short term, as we don't have to learn how to do the first two operations yet, and while Low G industrial materials extraction operations are NOT going to be the same as what we are used to here on Earth, they are not going to be as extreme and the Micro and Zero G environments will be at first.

Lunar impact mining allows us to have an easier time working on the shattered remnants, that are conveniently smashed into tiny parts, and also conveniently within a gravity well that conveniently allows us to work with what would be far heavier loads of materials than we could on earth.

Orbital extraction mining, OTOH, means that everything has to be accounted for locally, debris cannot be allowed to just drift around up there and get into everything, and what do we do with all the slag? Later on, when we have thousands of tons of debris, slag, and waste material, what if we can melt that down, shape it, and fuse it into hollowed out, orbital rock walled (un)natural satellites? NASA says that there are millions of NEO's, and some of these are NOT small, so if all the low hanging fruit are quickly being snatched up by competing nations, how many years will it be before we as a species have thousands of slag satellites up there, as a natural consequence of space based industrial facilities going all Woka-woka-woka on the former NEO's? And if, as I rather suspect is going to be the case, the Slag Hulled artificial satellites are hollow, and far larger than man made facilities that get lofted up from earth, are these facilities going to forgo the protection of thick rock walls from impacts with particles that escaped from improper, cheapskate mining operations, let alone radiation? And just how big might these things get?

I predict that at least until we actually get to starfire levels of technologies, the vast majority of space based facilities are going to be hollow molten-slagged satellites that are the waste products on their own mining operations. I picture several different possibilities, from tubular to doughnut to spherical, all with outer hulls comprised of rock, with the mining and manufacturing facilities located within. Raw-Materials enter, valuable content is extracted, and the slag becomes more hull material for the next facilities.

If we follow this path, and I cannot see how we wouldn't unless we advance far faster than I think we will, and go from today straight to starfire like tech, I cannot see a space faring worlds Home World somehow lacking vast numbers of rocky space facilities in orbit around it, and these places will in all likelihood include large numbers of such that are well armed, especially if they originate from a multi-national space race over decades or centuries.

Some of the fictional stories i intend to write, will be post 'first steps into space' stories, where, having hugely overbuilt such orbital facilities and mined out all the NEO's, what does a race do with them? Enter starfire engine tech. Former orbital facilities around Earth now equipped with powerful engines, and start heading out to Mars or Venus, of Mercury? Get these things into the asteroids, and just start chucking every nearby rocks right to them, and start the whole Woka-woka-woka process all over again?

Just how long will the NEO's last us? Will the asteroids provide decades, centuries, or milenia of convenient resource extraction. At some point, we are going to advance enough, and require enough additional resources, that we will begin tapping the TNO's, and then later the Oort cloud. That just happens to be where I mentioned the first part of the scenarios that new players might be starting off with.
Last edited by voidstalker[woe] on Fri 01 Nov 2019 11:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Home Worlds, a TOaST thread

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Fri 01 Nov 2019 11:57

Lol, looking back at the start of that post, I have to shake my head...

I started that post around 2am my time, and around 3am was trying to post it and couldn't connect. That went on for five hours or so, and then I called it a night at around 8am my time, lol.
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Re: Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

Postby Vandervecken on Sun 03 Nov 2019 17:38

Modifying the game has always been an option. Go for what you want the game to do.

There is a whole folder of player modified rules that have been done over the years, it is called 'House Rules".

The men in 'Blue' have done a good job of listening to our ideas and thoughts, but ultimately it is the owners decision alone as to where, and in what shape(s) it will go in the future.

Don't be afraid to keep posting; this is a darn good OPEN forum.


P.S. - I made a whole 4x space empire building game; but realized thru intense studying of the market that it would never make me a rich man. The making of the game was the satisfying part (especially SysGen), marketing and maintaining the game is not my bag. Starfire is the 'Ultimate' detailed 4x game (of any genre), and that is still a good thing to me and why I am still here. Thank you SDS. Being part time guys, each with a full-time RL, you are doing a Journeyman's job here.
I weary of the chasssse. Wait for me. I will be mercccciful and quick.
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Re: Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Mon 04 Nov 2019 01:33

Vandervecken wrote:Modifying the game has always been an option. Go for what you want the game to do.

There is a whole folder of player modified rules that have been done over the years, it is called 'House Rules".

The men in 'Blue' have done a good job of listening to our ideas and thoughts, but ultimately it is the owners decision alone as to where, and in what shape(s) it will go in the future.

Don't be afraid to keep posting; this is a darn good OPEN forum.
I love playing by house rules. Right now, I am trying to get things set up and playable for a game that uses the starfire pieces, but is a very limited game. If fact, though, I'll probably have to create several different games, to get what I want. Right now, I'm working on being able to take players from current techs in use by the space faring nations of Earth, and attempting to visualize where we are and how we are going to go forth, and doing so over a time scale of a couple centuries, to arrive at starfires tech level 1.

My current thoughts are Earth too LEO, then on to GEO, and then expanding to eventually include all of the Earth/Luna system, on a single tactical hex map. I'm thinking that there needs to be some seperate levels of play, that can mirror progressively more advanced space programs, that have different levels of in space facilities.

Vandervecken wrote:P.S. - I made a whole 4x space empire building game; but realized thru intense studying of the market that it would never make me a rich man. The making of the game was the satisfying part (especially SysGen), marketing and maintaining the game is not my bag. Starfire is the 'Ultimate' detailed 4x game (of any genre), and that is still a good thing to me and why I am still here. Thank you SDS. Being part time guys, each with a full-time RL, you are doing a Journeyman's job here.
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Re: Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

Postby Cralis on Tue 05 Nov 2019 02:07

Vandervecken wrote:P.S. - I made a whole 4x space empire building game; but realized thru intense studying of the market that it would never make me a rich man. The making of the game was the satisfying part (especially SysGen), marketing and maintaining the game is not my bag. Starfire is the 'Ultimate' detailed 4x game (of any genre), and that is still a good thing to me and why I am still here. Thank you SDS. Being part time guys, each with a full-time RL, you are doing a Journeyman's job here.


Fun fact: I was designing a new 4x space empire game back in 1999 when Marvin asked me to join him and work on Starfire... actually we wouldn't all be here if it wasn't for all of the players and volunteers that have helped with Starfire over the decades. Some say it takes a village... Starfire proves that it takes a galaxy!

So here's to everyone who has worked on and/or played Starfire!
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Re: Home Worlds, a "TOaST" thread

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Tue 05 Nov 2019 07:02

Cralis wrote:
Vandervecken wrote:P.S. - I made a whole 4x space empire building game; but realized thru intense studying of the market that it would never make me a rich man. The making of the game was the satisfying part (especially SysGen), marketing and maintaining the game is not my bag. Starfire is the 'Ultimate' detailed 4x game (of any genre), and that is still a good thing to me and why I am still here. Thank you SDS. Being part time guys, each with a full-time RL, you are doing a Journeyman's job here.


Fun fact: I was designing a new 4x space empire game back in 1999 when Marvin asked me to join him and work on Starfire... actually we wouldn't all be here if it wasn't for all of the players and volunteers that have helped with Starfire over the decades. Some say it takes a village... Starfire proves that it takes a galaxy!

So here's to everyone who has worked on and/or played Starfire!

Nice! What I love is that the game still has folks that care about it, after 40 years since it's first introduction!
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