If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

General Starfire discussion, including information about old products and editions.

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If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Tue 22 Oct 2019 08:55

Ok, so this thread is my reply to question #4 "If you could have whatever new product you wanted for Starfire tomorrow, what would it be?" asked in the thread Marvin Asks...
https://www.starfiredesign.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3460&start=0

So, I would have several answers to the above question. For the sake of brevity (or at least as close to that as I can get with such a topic), I'll state that all that follows will be based upon the move from a purely PnP game to the realm of a mixed PnP game with computer support, and then continuing on to a full blown pure computer based Starfire game.

Starfire 1 series...

Requested product #1
A simple computer game playing file, that allows me to enter options desired for a particular game, and then does all the generation needed for playing any tactical space combat scenario in the Starfire 1 game, whether that be "First Contact" or whatever. Obviously, this would need to include the ability to 'build' custom ships and enter/store them for printout at any time thereafter. This product would only do the paperwork, to include map setup, starting positions, and whatever, and would need to have the capability to printout all needed fleets. The actual game would still be played out with paper hexmaps and cardboard counters. Like the PnP versions, this would need to be a copywritten IP, that couldn't be played without the PnP portions.

Requested product #2
As in #1 above, but this time, add in the ability to actually play the Starfire 1 series of tactical space combat battles on the computer itself, so no need for any PnP components at all. I would prefer to be able to play both a single player vs AI opponents mode, as well as a multi player vs player mode, that may also include AI run NPR's. Unlike the above, this product would be a complete game in and of itself, and all tactical space combats would be played out upon the computer screen. The option to 'save game' cannot be overstated in importance here, as in, if you play this game, it always makes a record, and then you can decide to make a permanent backup elsewhere, or just let the game be overwritten latter. This would allow folks to share their battles and experiences with the rest of the SF community, so everyone could share the experience, as well as critique each others performance. It should also be able to do double duty as a way for a SM to get battles run for a campaign game.

Requested product #3
As above, but this product should include the ability to play both the tactical space combats from Starfire 1, but marry that to the campaign rules found in Starfire 3. I would point out here that the same maps would be used, and that the introduction to scaling maps might be a very good idea as an additional option kinda thing. This would mean a return to the good old/bad old days of super simple, super fast game play, but also the "the entire solar system in setup on a single tactical space combat map! Having planets potentially within range of each other should make for a very fast game indeed. Once folks play around with that enough to realize that that kind of scale is not conductive to a long game, introduce them to the different scale maps, and have them play on an 'anatomically correct' solar system map, where they can get acquainted with zooming in and out, depending on what they want to take a look at, the whole system at a glance, just one planet & it's moons, or perhaps just a tactical space combat at a specific location. I used to know the different scales used in the game at one point, but unfortunately I've managed to forget that info nowadays. :( Anyway, this product would at most support starfire 1 gameplay in a single solar system sized campaign game using the Starfire 3 campaign rules, but upgraded to include of aforementioned 'anatomically correct' solar system/multiple map resolution/scales.

Requested product #4
Building on the above, I would want to see the Original Starfire 2 rules added into the mix, along with the ability to play in a campaign that includes very limited, extended playing fields. Likely, this could best be defined as a user selectable value anywhere from a binary/trinary star system, to a few warp points out from the Homs System. The idea is to introduce the gamer to the concept that all campaigns are not just one system.

I have more ideas, but I'm not trying to spend all day with them. 8-)

At this point, I'd like to lay out why I would want starfire's first steps into the realm of computer rather than PnP gaming to follow this path.

Starfire has never been a full fledged computer game in the past, and SDS is not a computer game writing company, so start off with the minimal game, make whatever mistakes, bugs, glitches and what have you, and get them all fixed ASAP, and before you release the more complicated versions!

A few thoughts on the reality of campaign vs tactical gameplay;
1. Has anyone ever played any version of a campaign of starfire, without playing any tactical space combat?
2. Has anyone ever played the tactical space combat, and not played any campaigns?
3. Of those of us that have, once upon a time, played in one or more campaigns, how many were played to completion? (Read as, one side clearly emerged victorious)
4. What percentage of your campaign games have been completed/abandoned.
5. What is the longest campaign you have ever personally played in (turn wise), and did that campaign complete?
6. Would it be a good idea, right at the start, to get folks into playing and completing, campaign level play? This is my thinking with the above product requests. Give a bare bones game a strategic component, one so simple that they could simply go on building ships and fighting an endless series of TSC's, without any real thoughts above or beyond that, should they so choose, but get them to play campaigns as the major focus of the very first product.

I'm hoping for some good and spirited discussion here.
Crosses fingers.
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby aramis on Wed 30 Oct 2019 19:14

I prefer to play tactical. I've not gotten to (other than solo) in years. I've not tried to run a campaign in decades (1993-ish?)

Of the campaigns I have run, most died in under 4 campaign turns. I think 2 made it past 4 turns. I think that's about 20%.

Players who have no tactical experience tend to design poorly.

My ideal would be 1E tactical rules but using d10's, and with the drive rooms article placed in.
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Thu 31 Oct 2019 23:36

aramis wrote:I prefer to play tactical. I've not gotten to (other than solo) in years. I've not tried to run a campaign in decades (1993-ish?)
Same here, got friends into a 4 way tactical battle, back a couple three years ago, but nothing at all for the campaign level. :cry:

aramis wrote:Of the campaigns I have run, most died in under 4 campaign turns. I think 2 made it past 4 turns. I think that's about 20%.
Ouch! I had a couple campaigns that got to over 100 turns, technically, but that was just because a very few players got down to it and handled all their turtling/colonising/massive build ups without exploring after the first 20-30 turns or so. And I say technically, because we had to use the expedient, if you didn't do your turns in the time frame stipulated, you didn't do anything. The way we did this, was we just altered the starting times for the active players, pretending that they had evolved earlier, and that was the mechanism that allowed us to continue our campaigns, rather than just ending them by forcing the active players to wait (endlessly) for the slugs to get around to doing their turns. This worked out well, in that when the slugs got wiped out with their pathetic, small, low tech empires meeting older, larger, higher tech level empires, they had no one but themselves to blame. Still, we only did that a few times, and were never able to get everybody to always get all their turns done on time. Of course, we didn't have any real computer support in those days, except for the SM, so everything had to be done by hand on good old PnP.

aramis wrote:Players who have no tactical experience tend to design poorly.
If your were tasked with a "mission impossible-esc" challenge, how would you set about rectifying the lack of experience? My own thoughts are to write some tactical battles, and wrap some financial/campaign concepts around the between battles content, and have folks playing a fraction of a tiny mini-campaign, all in the space of an evenings casual gaming. For example, the whole atmosphere thread is part of a stage 'setting up for later exploitation' to allow for me to write many a tactical battle scenario, many of which are going to be set up around a planet and it's shipyards, and will include fixing/building some ships for the next battle. I WILL NOT be doing anything all that involved (read as a full campaign game) in order to set some of this up, but rather will be posting rather a lot of threads to get players thinking about some possible 'house rules' for some battles, and then how to do a very poor mans version of what Procyon did with his Nemesis Campaign.

aramis wrote:My ideal would be 1E tactical rules but using d10's, and with the drive rooms article placed in.
Nice! My own preferences would be for Original (heavily modified) using 2d6, but flipping the whole "You need a 9 or less too hit" to a more AD&D-esc "You need a 5 or more too hit" type thing. I find it easier to work with a bonus/penalty, if a '+' is good, and a '-' is bad.
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby aramis on Sat 16 Nov 2019 03:28

Essentially, the solution for lack of tactical experience is to have a good scenario book that doesn't use any scales other than tactical. At least 3 different engagements per TL...

TL 1 needs a 1v1 (CT or FF vs same) or 1v 3 (FF vs 3 Es)
All TL's need a 3 v 3 and/or 5v5. if and, rather than or, one is semi-mirrored, while the other is intentionally dissimilar in composition
All TLs should have access to the generic scenarios WP Defense by ships (separate ship lists by TL but one scenario setup), and escort-the-transports.
All TLs should have some form of 10-20 ships per side battle
All TLs should have at least one asymmetric battle, high numbers of small vs low numbers of bit.
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby voidstalker[woe] on Sat 16 Nov 2019 11:18

aramis wrote:Essentially, the solution for lack of tactical experience is to have a good scenario book that doesn't use any scales other than tactical. At least 3 different engagements per TL...

TL 1 needs a 1v1 (CT or FF vs same) or 1v 3 (FF vs 3 Es)
All TL's need a 3 v 3 and/or 5v5. if and, rather than or, one is semi-mirrored, while the other is intentionally dissimilar in composition
All TLs should have access to the generic scenarios WP Defense by ships (separate ship lists by TL but one scenario setup), and escort-the-transports.
All TLs should have some form of 10-20 ships per side battle
All TLs should have at least one asymmetric battle, high numbers of small vs low numbers of bit.
What about battles between mismatched fleets and TL's? Big low tech fleet meets smaller, but higher tech fleet?
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby Kumakunshu on Sat 16 Nov 2019 11:29

voidstalker[woe] wrote:
aramis wrote:Essentially, the solution for lack of tactical experience is to have a good scenario book that doesn't use any scales other than tactical. At least 3 different engagements per TL...

TL 1 needs a 1v1 (CT or FF vs same) or 1v 3 (FF vs 3 Es)
All TL's need a 3 v 3 and/or 5v5. if and, rather than or, one is semi-mirrored, while the other is intentionally dissimilar in composition
All TLs should have access to the generic scenarios WP Defense by ships (separate ship lists by TL but one scenario setup), and escort-the-transports.
All TLs should have some form of 10-20 ships per side battle
All TLs should have at least one asymmetric battle, high numbers of small vs low numbers of bit.
What about battles between mismatched fleets and TL's? Big low tech fleet meets smaller, but higher tech fleet?


I've always liked that one. The low tech barbarian hordes vs. the the high tech Goliath. :shock:
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby aramis on Sun 17 Nov 2019 02:05

voidstalker[woe] wrote:
aramis wrote:Essentially, the solution for lack of tactical experience is to have a good scenario book that doesn't use any scales other than tactical. At least 3 different engagements per TL...

TL 1 needs a 1v1 (CT or FF vs same) or 1v 3 (FF vs 3 Es)
All TL's need a 3 v 3 and/or 5v5. if and, rather than or, one is semi-mirrored, while the other is intentionally dissimilar in composition
All TLs should have access to the generic scenarios WP Defense by ships (separate ship lists by TL but one scenario setup), and escort-the-transports.
All TLs should have some form of 10-20 ships per side battle
All TLs should have at least one asymmetric battle, high numbers of small vs low numbers of bit.
What about battles between mismatched fleets and TL's? Big low tech fleet meets smaller, but higher tech fleet?

As a history=type person (at least per my diploma), if the difference is more than a TL or two, it should get pretty one sided... but the rules won't actually do that.

It's not something that needs a number of variations for each TL. Especially under the editions I've played (1, 2, 3). A couple such battles can be amusing...
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby Sunwolf on Sun 17 Nov 2019 08:07

A simplified set of campaign rules for Solar Starfire. Something where you could ignore maintenance and research costs in general and focus on Strategic moves and Tactical battles.
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby Cralis on Sun 17 Nov 2019 14:00

Sunwolf wrote:A simplified set of campaign rules for Solar Starfire. Something where you could ignore maintenance and research costs in general and focus on Strategic moves and Tactical battles.


I want to clarify this, because I've been expecting someone to say this.

Do you want a simplified strategy game or a specialized campaign game? I'm making a distinction here because over the last year or so I've been thinking about this and reading a lot of the user responses over the years. What we call in the rules a "campaign game" really should have been called a "strategy game", because most games a campaign is not nearly as big in scope.

A campaign game would be a lower scope then the strategy game. You'd have some defined area in space and set in a slightly lesser timeframe, perhaps measured in weeks instead of months. Strategic concerns like research, diplomacy, etc. wouldn't really be involved although they may come as an integral part of the turn sequence instead of something the player would handle. Because of the reduced scope, perhaps the campaign may have actual goals like "capture 50% of the territory" or "eliminate your opponent's sector capitol". And the player's primary focus is on construction, movement, and combat.

Does that sound like what you are talking about?

The reason I ask is because some players have asked for a simplified strategy game. In fact, we've had players asking for a version simplified to the level of the Quick Start Rules. Somewhere around 2nd edition Starfire in complexity. But it would still have research, diplomacy, and all the strategic-level concerns. But I have the impression that this isn't what you are talking about.

Do I have it about right?
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Re: If you could have whatever new product you wanted...

Postby PracticalM on Thu 21 Nov 2019 11:04

Hm. Thinking about this, I've never had an issue with the tactical games in our campaigns because we used Vassal and muddled along with it.
Campaigns don't lead to fair fights so when I was running and playing in campaigns it wasn't hard to figure out what was going to happen, especially since we were all playing each other and able to get a good feel for the game.

I would like a better way to play tactical games.
A simple campaign that could be tied to it much like the idea around a map similar to the Stellar Conquest board game (and computer game from SSG)

A replacement for shipyard would be nice. Spreadsheets don't quite have the same power as the original shipyard software.
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