Welcome, Guest
You have to register before you can post on our site.

Username/Email:
  

Password
  





Search Forums

(Advanced Search)

Forum Statistics
» Members: 346
» Latest member: balexyjnray4040
» Forum threads: 810
» Forum posts: 5,959

Full Statistics

Online Users
There are currently 64 online users.
» 0 Member(s) | 63 Guest(s)
Bing

Latest Threads
Spam reporting?
Forum: Website Related
Last Post: GrimFinger
10-25-2021, 11:42 AM
» Replies: 3
» Views: 33
Galaxy 122
Forum: Galac-Tac
Last Post: Talisman
10-19-2021, 02:45 PM
» Replies: 25
» Views: 4,646
Species Log: The Most Glo...
Forum: Far Horizons: The Return
Last Post: ronin
10-18-2021, 05:24 AM
» Replies: 20
» Views: 2,999
DOING TIME - A PBM Newsle...
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: ravenzachary
10-12-2021, 06:16 PM
» Replies: 6
» Views: 538
Forum Signature
Forum: Website Related
Last Post: PNMarkW2
10-10-2021, 02:03 AM
» Replies: 4
» Views: 155
Mutterings of the "MAD" S...
Forum: Designers Notes
Last Post: PNMarkW2
10-09-2021, 02:35 AM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 52
Who was that masked man?
Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself
Last Post: Davin
10-06-2021, 08:32 PM
» Replies: 3
» Views: 133
The Ongoing Appeal of PBM
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: PNMarkW2
10-05-2021, 07:05 PM
» Replies: 4
» Views: 290
Small Games
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: Serpent Blight
09-26-2021, 02:19 PM
» Replies: 9
» Views: 827
Islander 22 Now Out
Forum: The Isles PBM
Last Post: Roy Pollard
09-25-2021, 01:43 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 97

 
  Game design from the beginning
Posted by: ixnay - 01-08-2011, 05:33 PM - Forum: PBM Design - Replies (22)

I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and create a new PBM game, along the lines of what I described in the opinion thread. This will actually be more of a Play By Web game, although I could provide a paper mail variant if there is demand, assuming the game actually works.

So I thought I would crowd-source the design and development process -- make it an open experience that others can witness and participate in if they wish.

Here are my high level specs for the development platform:

- web-based interface, with no client-side requirements
- open-source server and development tools
- unix or windows (depending on where I can get hosting)
- java / JSP for the application code, perhaps with Hibernate as the data access layer and Eclipse as the development tool
- MySQL for the database
- some design portability, such that it could be played by web, Facebook, smartphone, etc.

And here are my high level game design specs:
- close-ended
- computer moderated, though I could be persuaded to open it up to human-moderated with computer assistance
- space empire building genre
- heavy control over economic, military, and scientific development
- different races for each player, with different strengths and weaknesses
- some level of automated non-player activity (perhaps an ancient berserk computer player, fully automated, to give everyone an early opponent)

Finally, here is a possible approach to developing it:
- lay out a SIMPLE rule set to start with
- develop the page layouts to support this
- build the database
- build the game logic (again, for a SIMPLE preliminary version)
- ALPHA TEST #1
- incorporate early feedback
- lay out an expanded rule set
- redevelop
- ALPHA TEST #2
- incorporate feedback
- lay out final rule set
- redevelop
- BETA TEST

I invite any and all readers to give me feedback on this idea. Is my process going to work? What suggestions do you have for the initial rule set? What types of features would you want in the user interface? How important are graphics/images to your user experience?

And, of course, would anyone like to pitch in and help build it? I would do the database and coding, most likely, but could use help in setting up server and hosting, getting a URL, and lots and lots of testing.

Print this item

  [PlayByMail.Net Interview] Sean Cleworth of Gad Games
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 07:12 PM - Forum: Interviews - Replies (4)

Tell us the origin of Gad Games.

[Sean Cleworth] Gad Games, like most PBM companies, had a rather humble beginning. From the age of 14, I had always preferred to be the GameMaster, whenever our local role-playing group got together for a session of AD&D, RuneQuest, MERP, RM, etc.. However, the group started to dwindle, as I reached the age of 16/17. I think this would have been in the mid 80’s (1984/1985).

It was at this point that I stumbled upon Flagship (an early UK issue - #3 tends to stick in my mine – it was a full colour cover of a Super Hero). I bought it by mistake, actually, thinking it was to do with table-top RPG! Anyway, this is how I got into PBM, and I started playing a number of games such as Vulcan Wars, StarWeb, Midgard and a few others that I can’t remember. For some reason, I didn’t really grasp the whole PBM thing for a while, but eventually, I got it, and that was when I caught the PBM bug.

Although I played a varied number of games (computer, mixed and hand moderated), I initially related to the hand-moderated games, especially the fantasy games such as Saturnalia, Crasimoff’s World, AEs, etc..

At some point (I can’t quite remember when, but it must have been when I was about 16 or 17, as I was studying for A Levels), I decided to start up my own hand moderated game called ‘World of Chaos’. It was relatively successful, right from the outset. At the time, I was still living at home in a small village in the countryside in Cornwall. Our house was quite old and large. My bedroom was on the third floor (actually an attic room with its own stairwell, and it was actually quite a cool setting), and it was from here that Gad Games was born.

During my first year of A Levels, more and more of my time and thoughts were on World of Chaos and PBM in general, rather than my studies! Once I had devised and written the rules (I used my mom’s old typewriter), I then stuck together a ton of A4 hex paper, and stuck it onto my wall and drew the world map. For each major place of interest (such as towns, cities, ruins, dungeons, etc.), I drew a detailed street map. I also produced ‘tokens’ for various items, NPCs, herbs, creatures, etc.. These, I photo-copied, to be handed out upon encountering.

I then advertised the game through the various fanzines, and eventually, Flagship, to obtain players. It didn’t take long to get the game running, and before I knew it, I had 50 players actively involved and playing!! It pretty much took up all my spare time. I had to drop my morning paper-round job, to keep up with the demand. To begin with, I wrote the replies by hand, using carbon paper to file away copies for myself, and I used pins with player numbers on the map, to keep track of their location.

It was exciting times. I finally got the thrill of being a GameMaster, again, and this time I had 50 players who were mostly passionate about the game and actively involved in asking me questions, contributing to newsletters, forming player alliances, and helping shape the history and enriching the experience for everyone. Players contacted me on the house phone so much that, eventually, my parents agreed to getting an extension for my bedroom, so I could respond and answer questions with the material (map + information) at hand.

It goes without saying that my studying took a bit of a back seater, but I still continued with them and passed. After A Levels, I really wanted to take a gap year, and finally got my parents to agree. I decided to run Gad Games full-time for a year, at least to see where it would take me. The company and World of Chaos game just grew and grew, and before I knew it, I had several hundred players, before my gap year was up. I never did end up going to University. Gad Games just kept on expanding and growing.


What made you decide to resurrect Gad Games, and why do you think that that is a good idea?

[Sean Cleworth] I really miss running PBM Games. I think it’s a great idea, as I’m hyper-excited about it, and looking forward to being creative and having fun, at the same time. Along the way, I hope players will also benefit from playing a PBM game that has the main elements of a PBM game, while harnessing the strengths of the Internet. I also think the time is right in my life, right now, to get back into PBM. I don’t have that much spare time (which is my biggest worry), but all other aspects of my life are stable, and I believe I’ve got the right mix of design experience and programming skills to do a really good job. I believe most PBM Companies alive, today, have not harnessed the true power of the Internet, and therefore, the conversion to online is both clunky and less than user-friendly. With the right mix of game design and technology, I think the modern PBM game could well appeal to both new and old players, alike.


What are you hoping to accomplish with your return to the helm of Gad Games? Are you in it for the money? For fame or for infamy? Are aliens using some form of mind control to compel you to do this, Sean?

[Sean Cleworth] LOL, no not quite. I’m fast approaching 42, and potentially, I am trying to regain a part of my youth that I really enjoyed. I know I miss running a PBM Company. I’m certainly not in it for the money. In fact, our new game is going to be free. We’re still toying with ideas on how to still make enough money to cover, at least, the hosting and admin expenses, but at worst case, we are prepared to absorb the costs, ourselves, as long as they are reasonable, and we get the thrill and enjoyment out of running it.


The Gad Games website advertises that you are working on a game called Ilkor: Dark Rising. Who - or what - is Ilkor, and what will distinguish this game from other games that came before it?

[Sean Cleworth] Ilkor: Dark Rising is the game we’re currently designing and coding. It is a computer-moderated game. I don’t think it will be too different to other such games, either out there now or in the past. It will be a single character RPG - The usual type of game where you create your own character, and roam about the world, going on quests, collecting items, fighting, etc.. There will be a number of unique features (we think), but we don’t want to reveal them quite, yet, nor do we feel they are big enough to distinguish it from other such games, without taking into consideration the user-interface, which I also can’t really go into detail about, either. I will, however, reveal more about the actual game mechanics (game rules, background, etc.) soon.

The strength of Ilkor will be in its simplicity, which will be achieved in both its game design and the technology it harnesses. There will be just one, single, persistent world where all characters will live. The turnaround will be fixed, maybe a weekly turnaround, maybe 2 turns a week. We haven’t decided, yet. This will come out of beta testing.

Players will access the game via their web browser. No downloads will be required. The website will store all of the player’s historical information (old turns, etc.).

I really can’t say too much more, right now. I don’t want to give away our plans, as the design has been a collection of thoughts gathered over the past few years.


Who designed the Gad Games logo, and what made you decide to go with that particular logo design for your company?

[Sean Cleworth] I actually designed the logo, myself, while at school, during a rather boring Geography lesson. I remember, quite clearly, doing this on a scrap piece of paper. At the time, my nickname was ‘Gads,’ and therefore, this is where the name of the company spawns from.


Not counting games that Gad Games has designed over time, what were some of your personal favorite old school Play-By-Mail games to play, and what made them your favorites?

[Sean Cleworth] I played a lot of games, especially at the beginning, but as Gad Games became more demanding, I had to reduce my list to about 5 or 6. Most of the games I played were based in the UK, simply due to the faster turnaround, cheaper postage, and interaction with players. Remember, in those early days, we didn’t have the Internet and e-mail, so communication came in the form of hand written notes passed through the game system, letters externally, or phone calls.

My favorite games of all time (from memory at least!) really must be:

Saturnalia (I played this almost from it’s launch. My main character was a thief called Morden. This was, without a doubt, my favorite game right through my PBM experience. I loved the simple game mechanics and great interaction with the players).

Aes (not sure about the spelling – its been a while, but I remember this being a great hand-moderated fantasy single-character RPG. To date, I’ve never seen this game mentioned on the web, but it was a very popular game in the UK, at one point).

Crasimoff`s World (Another popular game of mine. I really enjoyed playing this game, but I found it, at times, rather slow in both progression and turnaround)

Keys of Bled (I think this could have been one of my very first games I ever played, and I will always have fond memories of this).

Vulcan Wars (This was one of my first experiences of a pure computer-moderated game. I loved it, especially the clean up rules, turn cards, and printouts. It was extremely professionally put together)

Tribes of Crane (a huge game at one point, though plagued with issues that affected the turnaround greatly).


How would you describe the Play-By-Mail game industry, as you see it from your perspective? Describe its past, it present, and its future through your eyes.

[Sean Cleworth] I think the past was most certainly the golden era. I don’t think anyone who was around then would disagree. It was great to be part of that and have fond memories of that time that I’ll remember forever.

I’ve been out of the PBM scene, since then. I believe I left, just as the Internet was really starting to take off in a big way. Potentially, it was around that time the PBM hobby started to decline, to where it is, today? I’m not sure, as I’ve been pretty removed (though I have been subscribing to Flagship on and off over the past few years) from the hobby.

The hobby does feel close to dead! Am I the only one feeling like that? I am in the process of playing a few more games, so maybe things will change in the coming months. I think the Internet, especially, is a big contributing factor to the hobby’s decline. The actual name of the hobby (Play-By-Mail) doesn’t do it any justice, either. I’m not sure how many games are still run through the snail mail system, but I am guessing it is very low.

Currently, most games that are still alive, today, have a web presence, and to be honest, a lot of them have been badly thrown together. Coupled with a bad transfer to electric/on-line media, it feels like it is just a matter of time, before the PBM hobby really does go underground.

That is how I see the current state of PBM. Like I said, I feel like a bit of an outsider. Maybe I’ve read the signs wrong, but I am not negative of the future. I see small signs of some companies starting to move up to the next level, and really go truly online. I think that is where the future lies. I am not talking about hosting a poorly designed website, having the rules available online or to download in PDF, a signup form and then turn orders and results sent via email.

I think the next generation of PBM Gaming will need to drop ‘PBM,’ and call itself something more appropriate that describes the hobby in today’s terms. Maybe something like: Online Turn-based Gaming (OTB Gaming). I don’t know, but I hope you get my point. Then, the games need to be truly online, available via the web browser, iPhone apps, Facebook plugins, twitter feeds, wikis for GM and Player game material contributions, the use of HTML5 and CSS3 for rendering of graphics, map tiles, chat clients for clans and alliances to talk to one another, etc.. We need to harness the strengths of the Internet, and model it into the game design. Sure, it might mean changes to the way we traditionally play PBM games, today. For example, take a order form. That worked 20 years ago, when codes, etc. were required, so that GMs could capture your turn orders both quickly and at the same time reduce errors. But, today, people want to drag and drop, plot a course on a map for travelling, etc.. The game that is coming close to that is BTSE. I think they are on the right path.

So, in summary, I think the future is bright, though I believe PBM is going to have to move with the times to survive, and if they do, I think it could be bigger than ever.


What is your favorite genre of PBM game to design, and why? What is your least favorite, and why?

[Sean Cleworth] Fantasy, without a doubt. I am a RPGer, at heart. I especially like the hand-mod versions, but learned to equally enjoy the mixed and computer-moderated versions. My least favourite are crime games. I did play a number of them, but they didn’t really capture my imagination, for very long.



Have you ever attended any PBM conventions or other gaming conventions, either as an individual gamer or as a game company, and what were some of your most memorable moments attending those?

[Sean Cleworth] Yes, I’ve attended, as both. Originally, just as a player, and then, as a company. I can’t recall all of the details, now, as it was such a long time ago, but we pretty much attended all of the major (and even the minor) PBM conventions that were based in the UK. We even journeyed to Germany, for their main PBM/War Game convention, one year. The UK conventions were quite a trek for us, having to come up from the depths of Cornwall to places like Leeds, London, and Sheffield. Besides PBM Conventions, we attended the major War Gaming conventions, when our Game portfolio had such games that would potentially interest such attendees.

We were also quite big in the Football (Soccer) PBM scene, and attended a number of Soccer related conventions. I remember, we were invited up to Wembley to watch the Cup Final one year. We were given the full VIP treatment, pre match meal, drinks, entertainment and then we watched the game from a private box. That was certainly memorable. We were given this due to the large amount of advertising we gave Match magazine.


What is your view on the role that magazines have played in impacting the Play-by-Mail genre of gaming, and what do you wish that those magazines had done differently, if anything?

[Sean Cleworth] Magazines (including the various fanzines and semi-professional magazines, like PBM Scroll from Jon Woods) played an extremely important part in PBM in the golden era. Without them, it was extremely difficult to find avenues from where you could promote your games to new players. PBM has always struggled I think. It has never been easy, and considered an almost ‘unknown’ hobby. Flagship played a huge role in bringing the hobby together, and do a wonderful job, in my opinion. It was always put together very professionally, and is a fantastic read. I don’t know if the magazines could have done anything differently, really, that would have impacted the hobby in a positive manner. I found the magazines listened and reacted to the comments and suggestions made by both player and company. It felt like belonging to a special secret club!

Print this item

  [PlayByMail.Net Interview] Jay Colombo of Empyrean Cluster Wars
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 06:37 PM - Forum: Interviews - Replies (1)

1. Tell us the origin of both Empyrean Cluster Wars and its PBM predecessor, Empyrean Challenge.

Much like Vern, I got into the play by mail games by starting off with Star Web.

It was a gift from a girlfriend, who saw it in a science-fiction magazine, and knowing that I was a science-fiction enthuasist, thought I might like it. She was ever so correct.

Later, I saw Empyrean Challenge advertised in an Isaac Asimov's science fiction magazine, and I thought I'd give that a try. I would say that seemed to take well, as I played in these games for about 20 years. First, in the EC-1 & EC-5 games that Vern Holferd had started, and later into several of John Ess’s games (Maxi challenge’s, I believe they were called). The Maxis differed from the EC games, in that in an Empyrean Challenge game, your position was akin to a single nation on earth (obviously among many nations), whereas in the Maxi games -- like Cluster Wars-- your position was akin to the sole ruler of an earthlike planet.

When John had had enough, (there were several aspects of running the game that were too taxing for him, and also, not profitable enough), I purchased it from John.

Around 2003, I contacted Vern, and negotiated with him for his help in an effort to relaunch the game. I had acquired the rights, but very little, if anything, in the way of programming code from John..


2. Who are Jay Colombo and Vern Holford, and what are your respective relationships to the game of
Empyrean Cluster Wars? Also, which one of you does the most work on Empyrean Cluster Wars?

Presently, Vern and I are running the relaunch, together.

Initially, I provided the financing, and hired Vern to do the programming. As time went by, we developed a close working relationship, and decided to somewhat throw our lots together. In our working partnership, Vern does virtually all of the programming ( I say virtually, because I occasionally hire some outside assistance, which, of course, Vern oversees). We both work diligently on the conceptual and design aspects of the game. Presently, I'm engaged in play testing a massively developed position, which is somewhat more complex than I would've imagined (and more rewarding), while Vern is kept busy fixing bugs in the code, and adding or making changes as suggested to us by our platoon of dedicated playtesters -- Mostly, former Empyrean Challenge players and affectionatos, of the game.


3. What about Empyrean Cluster Wars distinguishes it from other space games?

While the game is turn based, as any play by mail was, the ability to use the Internet allows us to to both process turns simultaneously, and deliver them quickly and easily. The game combines not only war like strategy and tactics, but also, resource management and diplomacy in a way that encourages empire development and conflicts that, quite amazingly and consistently, parallels the development of civilizations or nations expanding and exploring here on earth .


4. For players, what is the primary focus of the game?

Initially, you must concentrate on taking the resources you have at hand, and growing your empire and production facilities in the fastest manner you can muster.

The ability to grow your production base depends not only on your resource management, but also, it hinges on the decisions you will make, based on your exploration of the known universe.

Much like on planet Earth, you start alone in the universe, and deplete the resources of the planet that you are on. Soon, you will need to gather resources from nearby planets, and later, nearby stars.

Eventually, this path of interstellar development leads to the meeting of other developing civilizations.

From the point of first contact, diplomacy, Machiavellian alliances, tactics, or simply pure, brute force will eventually yield a sole dominant power.


5. What were some of the similarities, as well as some of the differences, in the programming of
Empyrean Cluster Wars and Empyrean Challenge?

Empyrean Challenge did not require a user interface. Orders were written, then keyed in at our end.
The user interface in Empyrean Cluster Wars must present the data, and help the player edit their
orders. It also contains tools to help the players manage their vast empires.


6. What are you hoping to accomplish with Empyrean Cluster Wars?

We do actually hope to make this a viable entertainment business, or at least, bring back a game
many people enjoyed and make it much more playable in this format. Actually, Empyrean Cluster Wars is not play by mail, anymore. The client called "Central Command" presents the game data, and helps the player create an order set, which is them sent through the web site to our processing server. In the old game, we needed a much longer turn around.

We would like to get the full turn around down to around a week, with most of that taken up by the players writing their turns. That might be reduced still further, by things like our ship design tools and standing orders.


7. How much effort is required for an individual new to Empyrean Cluster Wars to get off to a
decent start in the game?

Unlike its play by mail predecessors, you are started off with your factories up and running, and the means of production set up and on a very reasonable path of development.

So, that means starting and learning game is really quite easy. Remember, though, the goal of the game is to achieve intergalactic dominance.

As supreme ruler, you will lead your home world, along with the population and production that you control, through a period of accelerating economic and industrial development & expansion. This era of growth and technological advances will quickly fuel the need for interstellar exploration and colonization.

Voyaging into deeper space, establishing your mining bases, and projecting a military presence, you will continue to expand into the neighboring star clusters, where you eventually will encounter other space faring civilizations.

Ultimately, it is in this intergalactic arena that you and the other emerging alien empires will struggle for economic control and military supremacy.

Strategy, military tactics, Machiavellian alliances (or perhaps just plain, brute force), will eventually yield a sole dominant power.


8. On average, how long does it take for a player to issue orders for their position in Empyrean Cluster Wars?

That simply depends a lot on how big the player's empire is. It could be a few hours on up.


9. How did you come up with the name Empyrean in the first place?

Empyrean is the name of the seventh heaven. Vern's wife thought of it, although when we go commercial, we may shorten it, for simplicity, to Cluster Wars¶


10. What is the maximum number of players that can play in Empyrean Cluster Wars?

There really is no set limit. The game can accommodate two players on up.

However, personal experience tells me that the most enjoyable configuration, for us armchair generals, is about eight players, and no more than about 20, with the universe containing about 25 star systems per player.

The current test game is 14 players and 465 systems.


11. During Empyrean Challenge's heyday, which other PBM games of the space genre from other PBM companies did you feel presented the greatest threat to Empyrean Challenge's player base?

I didn't really look at it that way. No one had exactly the same thing, so the main thing was our service and avoiding errors. If we had problems with those things, players would go elsewhere people seemed to like several types of games.


12. Are alien races a part of Empyrean Cluster Wars, and are players in the game each playing a race or a species that is alien to the positions of all other players in the game?

No. The populations in each empire have the same behavior patterns, and can do the same things, just like the populations of different nations on planet Earth do.


13. Does Empyrean Cluster Wars incorporate players on teams, or do all players in the game compete with one another on an individual basis?

Currently, everyone is playing as an individual, but we do intend to add team aspects in the future.

Of course players do form alliances and thereby may act as a team, but this is quite different than being on a team as part of a formal basis.


14. Design-wise, what was the hardest thing about Empyrean Cluster Wars to get right?

Combat is the biggest item on the processing side. The Order Writer and ship/colony designer were the hardest on the client (Central Command) side. The order writer is still growing, and of course we are always adding the “bells and whistles” as I like to call them, and streamlining the game.


15. Not counting Empyrean Cluster Wars and Empyrean Challenge, what were some of your personal
favorite old school Play-By-Mail games to play, and what made them your favorites?

Star Web was a classic I also enjoyed Beyond the Stellar Empire,

Historical note the developers of Beyond the Stellar Empire were EC players.


16. How would you describe the Play-By-Mail game industry, as you see it from your perspective?
Describe its past, it present, and its future through your eyes.

Sadly, I believe it is part of the past, I think the play by mail is going the way of newspapers these days, it's an ever shrinking economy. On the bright side, however, the Internet is alive and well and I think that's the future.


17. Have you ever attended any PBM conventions or other gaming conventions, either as an individual gamer or as a game company, and what were some of your most memorable moments attending those?

I wish I had something to say on the topic, but alas, the answer is simply no.


18. What is your view on the role that magazines have played in impacting the Play-by-Mail genre of gaming, and what do you wish that those magazines had done differently, if anything?

Well, I'm pretty sure they were a, if not the, major source of subscribers for the play by mail industry. My only wish is that they (the magazines) had given bigger advertising breaks to their PBM advertisers.


19. When all is said and done, what do you think will be Empyrean Cluster Wars' legacy to the world of gaming?

Well, I imagine that through the use of the Internet we can combine the thrill of

sci-fi with the strategy and tactics that are par for the course of hard board war games and bring them to the various gamers and potential generals that I know are out there.


20. In issue # 33 of The Space Gamer magazine, Empyrean Challenge was described as a mountain of fun to play.
How - specifically - does Empyrean Cluster Wars intend to top that, and what kind of gamer do you believe would be attracted to playing Empyrean Cluster Wars?

Well EC certainly really was a mountain of fun to play. I certainly was quite addicted to it for decades.

But cluster wars will easily top it. There are, of course a number of reasons for this, I'll give you a few of the major ones. For instance, recordkeeping is now automatic, you don't have to go pouring through your old turns to find various bits of information like surveys, planetary configurations, alien ship numbers, messages that you have sent or received etc. through the use of central command and filing cabinets all your information is readily accessible, as you need it.

Another biggie is that central command properly writes your orders for you (whereas in the old games, you either had to write them out by hand or input them manually on a disk or an e-mail).

You still have to input your orders, but it's much more automatic, and the real result of this is that you make far less errors. They used to be an argument that these types of games were less about strategy and tactics, than who made the least amount of errors in putting their orders. Cluster wars is changing all of that.


21. Empyrean Challenge was operated out of Boise, Idaho, according to an old ad for that play by mail game.
Where is the real world headquarters for Empyrean Cluster Wars?

The computer side of it is run from Los Angeles, and the business side runs from New York City.

Good gaming

Jay Colombo

Print this item

  [PlayByMail.Net Interview] Vern Holdford of Empyrean Cluster Wars
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 06:35 PM - Forum: Interviews - Replies (1)

Tell us the origin of both Empyrean Cluster Wars and its PBM predecessor, Empyrean Challenge.

[Vern Holford] I got into playing Star Web by Flying Buffalo, about 1977, I think. I also started playing Galaxy II by Brett Tondreau, about the same time. Empyrean Challenge was inspired, in part, by those two games and a board game, Stellar Conquest. I decided I could do as well, or better, and launched Superior Simulations, in 1979. After about 10 years of limited success, I sold it to John Ess, in 1988. John finally had to give it up, due to health issues, I believe. Jay would know more about that. I was not involved with the game, at that time. Around 2002 or 2003, Jay contacted me, to acquire my interest in the game, as he had been given the go ahead by John to have the game relaunch. Eventually, about 2004, I became involved in the relaunch, which became Empyrean Cluster Wars.

I should mention that Empyrean Challenge had a version called Maxi Challenge, that involved fewer players than Empyrean Challenge. Empyrean Cluster Wars is basically an update of the Maxi Challenge variant of Empyrean Challenge.


Who are Jay Colombo and Vern Holford, and what are your respective relationships to the game of Empyrean Cluster Wars? Also, which one of you does the most work on Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] At this point, Jay and I are running the relaunch as a partnership(correct me if I'm wrong, Jay). I do or oversee the programming, We both work on the design aspects. Jay is running a huge position in the test game. I'm not sure who does the most work. Also, I need to mention that the testers are, except for one player, all players from the old days. They are all helping, immensely, in finding bugs and critiquing the rules.


What about Empyrean Cluster Wars distinguishes it from other space games?

[Vern Holford] I think we have a unique combination of features. While the game is turn based, as any play by mail has to be, we process turns, simultaneously. We combine strategy and resource management in a way that allows for diplomacy, as will as combat. Most important is, we take advantage of the Internet for turn and orders transmission. This helps in keeping the costs down and turn around more rapid.

We are using computer software for turn presentation and interactive order editing, so that we have almost no costs for input or output, just development and processing. Traditional play by mail computer games require hiring people to manually input the orders, and then paper, printer, and postage costs. A game the size of Empyrean Challenge would cost as much as $50 a turn for a good size empire.

One unique feature still under development is a kind of team play, where the player in charge of a given game position can recruit subordinate players to help run his empire, while they learn the game, at the same time. Along with this, we are also planning in-game alliances, for the larger games.


For players, what is the primary focus of the game?

[Vern Holford] The focus starts on growing your empire, resource management, and exploration. Then goes to diplomacy and combat. Information gathering is always important. I would say the players must maintain multiple focus areas, in order to win.


What were some of the similarities, as well as some of the differences, in the programming of Empyrean Cluster Wars and Empyrean Challenge?

[Vern Holford] Empyrean Challenge did not require a user interface. Orders were written by the player, and then keyed in, at our end. The user interface in Empyrean Cluster Wars must present the data, and help the players edit their orders. It also contains tools to help the players manage their vast empires.


What are you hoping to accomplish with Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] We do actually hope to make this a viable entertainment business, Or at least, bring back a game many people enjoyed, and make it much more playable, in this format. Actually, Empyrean Cluster Wars is not play by mail, anymore. The client called "Central Command" presents the game data, and helps the player create an order set, which is them sent through the web site to our processing server. In the old game, we needed a much longer turn around, for the United States Postal Service to handle all of that paper going and coming.

I would like to get the full turn around down to less than a week, with most of that taken up by the players writing their turns and doing between turn planning and diplomacy. That might be reduced, still further, by things like our ship design tools and standing orders.


How much effort is required for an individual new to Empyrean Cluster Wars to get off to a decent start in the game?

[Vern Holford] It takes a bit of study and planning. This is not a beer and pretzels game. Players have been known to claim that their hobby is running an interstellar empire. The satisfaction of building a respectable empire, though, is correspondingly large. This is a game you can sink your mental teeth into. We plan to allow a sort of sand box variant for players, that will allow them to try out the game system, without any nasty neighbors to contend with.


On average, how long does it take for a player to issue orders for their position in Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] That depends, a lot, on how big the player's empire is. It could be a few hours on up. We are adding tools to cut down on this, as we continue in the development. Standing orders, alliance victory, and team play(subordinates), for instance.


How did you come up with the name Empyrean in the first place?

[Vern Holford] My wife, at the time, used a thesaurus. Empyrean is the name of the seventh heaven in Dante’s Inferno.


What is the maximum number of players that can play in Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] I anticipate several sizes of maps. Each map is a 3 dimensional cube. The smallest is 10 light years on a side, for two player games, or even 1 player trial games, and 10 to 20 systems. 20 light years on a side, for 4 to 16 players, with 80 to 160 systems. 30 light years (that was the original Empyrean Challenge standard) on a side, for 14 to 54 players, with 270 to 540 systems. Possibly larger universes, depending on how we do reducing the player's time commitments. In fact, the largest one I can currently imagine is 50 light years on a side, for up to 250 players, and 2,500 systems. Players would have several sub ordinate players, and there would up to 25 players in each alliance. Testing will show if the larger numbers are feasible. The current test game is 30 light years on a side with 14 players and 465 systems. Its turned out to be too many systems for the number of players.


During Empyrean Challenge's heyday, which other PBM games of the space genre from other PBM companies did you feel presented the greatest threat to Empyrean Challenge's player base?

[Vern Holford] I didn't really look at it that way. No one had exactly the same thing, so the main thing was our service and avoiding errors. If we had problems with those things, players would go elsewhere. People seemed to like several types of games.


Are alien races a part of Empyrean Cluster Wars, and are players in the game each playing a race or a species that is alien to the positions of all other players in the game?

[Vern Holford] The populations in each empire have the same behavior patterns, even though we treat them as separate races. They do not have any distinguishing characteristics, except a number.


Does Empyrean Cluster Wars incorporate players on teams, or do all players in the game compete with one another on an individual basis?

Vern Holford] Currently, they are playing as individuals, but we do intend to add team aspects, as I mentioned above.


Design-wise, what was the hardest thing about Empyrean Cluster Wars to get right?

[Vern Holford] Combat is the biggest item on the processing side. The Order Writer and ship/colony designer were the hardest on the client(Central Command) side. The order writer is still growing.


Not counting Empyrean Cluster Wars and Empyrean Challenge, what were some of your personal favorite old school Play-By-Mail games to play, and what made them your favorites?

[Vern Holford] Star Web is a classic. I also enjoyed Beyond the Stellar Empire, for the open-ended-ness and epic feel. Historical note, the developers of Beyond the Stellar Empire were Empyrean Challenge players before they started Beyond the Stellar Empire.


How would you describe the Play-By-Mail game industry, as you see it from your perspective? Describe its past, it present, and its future through your eyes.

[Vern Holford] I haven't been following it much lately. I think its always going to be part of the gaming industry, in one form or another. Flying Buffalo is still out there, and from what I can tell, doing well. It’s always going to be at least a niche market.


Have you ever attended any PBM conventions or other gaming conventions, either as an individual gamer or as a game company, and what were some of your most memorable moments attending those?

[Vern Holford] Yes, at least, it was a general gaming convention in Los Angeles in 1989. I do not remember the name of it. Flying Buffalo was there, holding a seminar. I went with my oldest son to play games. I do remember that some of the local guys had an enhanced map for King Maker that include Scotland and Ireland. The Scots got control of Parliament.


What is your view on the role that magazines have played in impacting the Play-By-Mail genre of gaming, and what do you wish that those magazines had done differently, if anything?

[Vern Holford] I only wish they flourished. I do not know what they might have done better.


When all is said and done, what do you think will be Empyrean Cluster Wars' legacy to the world of gaming?

[Vern Holford] Well I hope that, by using the Internet, we can bring the fun of having your own interstellar empire to any one who wants it.


In issue # 33 of The Space Gamer magazine, Empyrean Challenge was described as a mountain of fun to play. How - specifically - does Empyrean Cluster Wars intend to top that, and what kind of gamer do you believe would be attracted to playing Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] We can top that by making easier for the player to participate. Our players will be interested in the thinking and planning, rather than the flash bang, manual dexterity required by a lot of gaming.


Empyrean Challenge was operated out of Boise, Idaho, according to an old ad for that play by mail game. Where is the real world headquarters for Empyrean Cluster Wars?

[Vern Holford] Actually, it's in Los Angeles and New York. The computer we run it on is with me, in Los Angeles.

Print this item

  Backups of the forum software's database used here on PlayByMail.Net
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 05:04 PM - Forum: Website Related - Replies (17)

This thread will be dedicated to myself posting updates, each time that I generate a new backup of the forum software's database used here on PlayByMail.Net.

If you, as a site user, feel that it has been too long between backups, then feel free to post in this thread, to remind me to create a new backup of the forum database.

Thank you for your time and interest.

Print this item

  PBM is dead! Long live PBM!
Posted by: ixnay - 01-07-2011, 04:39 PM - Forum: Opinions & General Discussion - Replies (20)

PBM is both dead and vibrantly alive, depending on how you look at it.

I played a number of classic PBM games back in the 80s -- Battle Plan, Its A Crime, Monster Island, Silverdawn, Out-Time Days, and a few others. And the grand-daddy of all close-ended computer-moderated space empire games -- Empyrean Challenge. I spent hundreds of dollars, obsessed over drafting orders, waited with extreme anticipation for the mail to come, collaborated and conspired often, and even ran a newsletter for my team on EC. At intervals I wanted to run my own PBM game.

The reason I dropped off had nothing to do with the internet. It had a fair amount to do with the *expense* of it all. And there was the perennial problem of having other players drop out -- usually well over 50%, even for games that held a deposit. And finally, some games were starting to become available to scratched that itch while playing them at home -- board games and computer games.

But if you are reading this, you are fan enough to know that there is nothing like a well-done PBM experience. The contact with other players, the laying of long-term plans, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, etc. Board games can't quite match it, because they're over in one night and you don't really have a chance to connive with fellow gamers much. Computer games can't come close unless they are multi-player, but ultimately fall short for the same reason - they are completed quickly and the pace allows for nothing other than action and grind.

So I miss PBM, big time. But even if the PBM community were as alive and vibrant as its heyday in the 80s, I still probably would not re-enter the fray. For the same reasons. It's too expensive, too many players drop out, and there are many other types of games out there.

I pine for it, as I sit with my Friday night buddies, playing Settlers of Catan and whatever else. I even showed them some of my old turn results, rulebooks, and newsletters (drawing blank stares).

BUT, PBM is still ALIVE, I say! Not just alive - it is booming! Just not in its present form. You need look no further than Facebook. That new genre of "casual games" has taken the web by storm. Games like Farmville, Mafia Wars, etc, have enormous player bases and draw revenue streams that would dwarf what Flying Buffalo took in at its peak, I daresay. Yet they bear many of the same hallmarks as PBM games -- periodic cycles of play, social interaction, excitement and addiction over each new round of play.

And now, lo and behold, one of the great computer games of all time -- Civilization -- is preparing a Facebook version called Civ World. THAT will be a PBM game in all ways except delivery.

So basically, "classic" PBM fans need to move our focus just a little bit and see the opportunities that the dreaded internet - slayer of postal gaming - has made available to us all.

Vern Holford (who ran Empyrean Challenge) is working up a re-release of EC. It is in Beta-testing now. But this time, you send in your turns via FTP, get your new turns emailed to you, and use an Access-based client to interact with the game -- inspecting your ships and space colonies, issuing orders, viewing star charts -- all far more easily than in the old days of paper and pencil. I don't know Vern's ultimate plans, but I suggested that he consider building a web-based version and serving it up for "free" (with revenue from banner ads and fees for "premium content").

I am so into this idea that I am back to considering my own PBM game. PBweb, to be more precise. Free to join, fun to play, casual internet play, persistent environment, with a base revenue from advertising to pay for hosting.

I had thought that the classic PBM genre was quite dead, and was very pleased to learn that many companies are still offering games along the same lines as in the 80s. I wish them all good luck! But I am not going to sink hundreds of dollars into their games. I urge them to move up to a new funding model, and unleash their epic talents on a ripe new audience of modern gamers.

Print this item

  Gloom, Despair, & Agony
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 02:10 PM - Forum: Editorials - Replies (1)

The old television show, Hee Haw, featured a skit where cast members would lie around surrounded by moonshine jugs and sing a song that began with the words, "Gloom, despair, and agony on me!" So, I have chosen the three main words in that line of the song as the subject heading for the first original editorial on the state of play by mail from this website for the new year of two thousand and eleven. It just seems an appropriate fit.

Rest assured, all ye hardcore denizens that abide throughout the play by mail realm, that play by mail isn't dead, yet - nor is it in danger of being absolutely dead anytime soon. Some play by mail games are still going strong, Hyborian War from Reality Simulations, Inc. being one that comes instantly to mind.

The Internet didn't really kill play by mail, as is often speculated. As a decentralizing force, the Internet has certainly facilitated the scattering of the PBM diaspora - to the extent that the pallor of death hangs eternally over all of play by mail.

Gaming has advanced to the point where players' imaginations are kept occupied and exercised to a degree sufficient to satisfy many of them ad infinitum. Also, the Internet makes it exceptionally easy to find games of all sorts and scopes, these days, so the PBM diaspora is inhibited from just jelling together, again. It's not that there is some sort of magical force field that keeps PBM gamers from reconnecting. Rather, their focus is elsewhere, and there are no real signs that this cosmic effect of the Internet is likely to abate anytime soon.

Ironically enough, the play by mail genre is continuing to attract new players, but the sheer volume of new converts to the play by mail industry is the equivalent of a trickle - or perhaps more accurately, the equivalent of a slow drip. Some are joining the PBM flock because it always intrigued them, back in the days of old of their youth. To others, the play by mail genre is simply something entirely new to them, so they try it on a whim, or they were led into the hobby by someone else who tricked or beguiled them into giving it a try, or it was a concept in gaming that they just stumbled into.

So, what are my expectations for this website? At the moment, I don't really have any. I'm not really out to accomplish anything. Play by mail gaming is an interest of mine, and that pretty much is the limit of it. I'm not here to save the play by mail industry from a final death, nor am I here as a harbinger of a revival of the hobby of postal gaming. From time to time, I will post, when I take a notion, and hopefully, a few others will join in, whenever the mood strikes them.

Print this item

  Inter-Galactic Manhunt: Tracking Down Those Who Stole The Secret Of Play By Mail
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-07-2011, 01:31 PM - Forum: Editorials - Replies (6)

GrimFinger
08-06-2010, 02:53 AM


Through out the eons, the Masters of Shadow have been involved in many of the great espionage actions through out the galaxy. From the theft of the Reality Sphere from the ultra guarded Maze of Madness of the Tar-EE-Srang to the assassination of the High Sorceror of the Vor'Koon during the Psi Wars, the claws of the Krulang-Krang have been suspected in many of the greatest covert operations through out the history of the galaxy.

- Excerpt from a Galactic Data Base Reference entry from the Play-By-Mail game Galaxy: Alpha



Across the dimensions of time and space, the icons of PBM's halcyon days have scattered to the wind - dispersing themselves in an attempt to hide the dark and arcane mysteries of Play-By-Mail from those who would come after them.

With them, they ferried something called "The Secret." It is that which we seek, and it is that which we shall have.

One of the greatest culprits of this bygone era is a figure so notorious, so nefarious, so utterly influential, that his name is only spoken now in hushed whispers in dark corners. I am referring, of course, to that towering behemoth of PBM infamy, that galactic sultan of PBM finesse, and that arch-lord of the PBM universe - Gary Smith.

Yes, that Gary Smith. The Gary Smith of Andon Games. The very same Gary Smith of AndCon. He's changed his appearance. He's changed his wardrobe. He's even changed his age. But, nonetheless, it was to no avail.

For he has been discovered!

He shall be interrogated.

He will divulge much.

Of this, we are certain.

He has already stirred in your midst. He has already visited the site, here. Were you able to detect his presence? Were you aware that he lurked right under your nose? Were you ready when the moment came?

If not, then you are are deemed unworthy.

All that you can do at this point is to gird yourself for renewal. You must renew your sense of PBM purpose, and you must not let down your guard, again. To do so will incur great cost, enormous sacrifice. Eternal vigilance must be your creed.

When at last we captured him, all that he could say was, "I've reviewed your website and have to thank you for the blast of pleasant memories that even thinking about PBM provided me."

Pleasant memories, indeed! We shall soon see just exactly how pleasant that Mr. Smith finds the interrogation to be.

And if Gary Smith can't hide forever, then what hope do the rest of them really have of evading us in perpetuity?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Walter
08-06-2010, 04:15 AM


Come on Gary!
You can tell a bit more about the past!
What happened to AndCon?

And what happened to Family Wars? Always wanted to play that game, but I was to busy playing Super Vorcon Wars and Knights of Avalon at that time.
Both games had Paul Hartman as GM, with his company the Pbm Express.

You did run Family Wars did you?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
GrimFinger
08-06-2010, 05:52 AM


Relax, Walt. I think that you'll be hearing more from Gary in the very near future.

Heel, Walter. Heel!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Walter
08-06-2010, 06:26 PM


Blush I am to curious I guess!!Angel

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
GrimFinger
09-13-2010, 07:14 AM


PBM icon Phil Chenevert, overseer of Louisiana's bayou of PBM gaming and regular contributor to Paper Mayhem magazine, is unable to hide any longer. PlayByMail.Net has tracked him down in one of his countless lairs scattered across bayou country, and I fully intend to gore him through with an interview.

Already, he has consented to an interview, and there will likely be much that is PBM related to drag out of him. Interview questions should be sent out over the next day or two.

It is doubtful that he expected us to confront him so suddenly and without warning.

Let this be a lesson to all of the PBMinati. We're coming for you!

Print this item

  PBM Boneyard
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-06-2011, 11:18 PM - Forum: Games - Replies (29)

This will be an attempt to list Play-By-Mail games that have existed over the years, some of which are still up and running, today, and many others which have, unfortunately, fallen defunct with the passage of time. This list will be revised and updated on a recurring basis. Be sure to check back from time to time, to see which memories of the Play-By-Mail heyday that this list stirs deep inside you.

4 Sight
The Weapon

7th Dimension Gaming
Suzerainty

Acheron Simulations
Ruler of the Galactic Web

Advanced Gaming Enterprises
Crack of Doom
Crack of Doom II
CTF 2187

Advent Games
Atlantic Conflict
Takamo

Adventure Simulation Games
Dark Blades

Adventures By Mail
Beyond the Stellar Empire
Capitol
Crasimoff's World
Isle of Crowns
Monster Island
Quest
Smuggler's Run
It's A Crime!
Warboid World
Warlord

Agents of Gaming
Continental Conquest
Star Fleet Warlord

Aggressive Addiction Games
Krahlizek: The Last Battle
Military Krahlizek

Aleator Games
Takamo

Anarchy By Mail
Armed Forces Commander
Galactic Anarchy

Andon Games
Family Wars
Kings & Things

Ark Royal Games
Adventurer Kings
Darkness of Silverfall

Australian Wizard PBM
Kingdom
Realms of Fantasy
Spiral Arm

Balrog Adventures
Warboid World

Bard Interactive Games, Inc.
Galactic Gambit

Baron's Regime
Wastelands

Battle-Magic Gaming
Atlantrix
Into Infinity
Into Infinity: 3 Dimensional Galaxy

Bill Paspaliaris
Swashbuckler

Blue Panther Enterprises
Destiny
The Final Campaign

Bob Stribula
Empires In Space

Bronze Star Games
Evermoor II

C2 Simulations
Against All Odds
New Order
Space 101

C-T Simulations
Star Cluster Omega

Capitol Consulting/VRL, Inc.
Cluster

Centurion Game Company
Aftermath 2150

Chain Mail Games
Kingdom Quests

Circle Games
Adventurer Kings
DarkStar
Lizards!

ChoZen FroZen Games
Magika
WdG Mithra

Classified Information
Belter

Clemens & Associates
Celestrek II
Terra II
Universe II
Universe III

Coconut Council, Inc.
Adventurer Kings
Darkness of Silverfall
Dino Wars
Thunder At Sea

Compu-Caper Gaming
Lost Knowledge

Crasiworld
Crasimoff's Quest World
Extra Time
Phantasmech

Create A World, Inc.
EIWF
Galactic Twilight 2050
IWBL
Lord of the Land
Super Hero Nation
Supreme Empires
The Mystic Land

Creative Management Services
Bounty Hunter

Creative Simulations
Mail Maniacs

Cyborg Games
The Next Empire

Cyclops Gaming
Family Wars

Damien Games
Armageddon's Aftermath
The Bloody Blade

Daredevil
Polaris

Dark Magus Productions
Dark Magus

Daurada Games
Charioteers

Delta Games PBM
Midgard

Deltax Gaming
Blood, Guts and Gore Across the Galaxy
Domination
Gameplan
Star Quest
Wastelands
World Emperor II

Desert P.B.M.
Ruler of the Galactic Web

DFS Productions
Mageborn
Mageborn: Arena
5th Tier

Dragon Games
Gladiator
Legends: North Island Campaign
Legends: Realm of the Immortals
Legends: the Crystal Shard

Dragon Byte
Ad Astra
Empyrean Challenge

Dymar Enterprises
Legions of the Empire

Dynamic Games
Against All Odds
Balance of Power
Combat
Continental Rails II
Feudal Lords II
Hall of Champions
Iron & Steam
Keys of Medokh
Magic
Quest
Star Realm
Trolls Bottom

E-Mail Games
Age of Discovery
Global Diplomacy
Imperium
Imperial Expansion
World at War

Earnshaw Enterprises
Conquest
Outer Reaches

Ebonrock Enterprises

Eckert Gaming Group
Apocalypse: Survival After Armageddon
Counter-Terrorist
Death & Sorrow
Seeds of Destruction

Eclipse Consulting, Inc.
Haunted House
Island Takeover
Wizards & Warriors

Empire Games, Inc.

Emprise Game Systems
Warp Force Empires
Xenophobe

Enchanted Horizons
Portinium
Portinium II

Entertainment Plus More, Inc.
Adventurers Guild
Deathsgate
Star Sword
Ultimate Warrior

Essentially Racing
Essentially Racing

Ethereal Edge Enterprises
Lords of the Fray

Fantastic Simulations
Fleet Maneuvers
The Weapon

Fantasy & Futuristic Simulations
Gladiators of Death

Fantasy Workshop
Centurion

Fields of Nephlim
Fields of Nephlim

Final Frontiers

Flying Buffalo, Inc.
Battle Plan
Covert Operations
Election Year
Feudal Lords
Galactic Conflict
Heroic Fantasy
Illuminati
Lizards!
Mobius I
Nuclear Destruction
Nuclear War
Riftlords
Riftwars
Starlord
Starweb
World Wide Battle Plan
1939 World Wide Battle Plan

Flying Dutchman Games
Quest of the Great Jewels

Fractal Dimensions
A Duel of a Different Color
Warriors of the Fractal Domain
Toadal Chaos - The Frog Wars

Frank Pompillio
Stand & Deliver

Full Moon Gaming
Realm

Furypost Games
Scramble
Warlands
Warworld

GAD Games
Austerlitz
Battle of the Planets
Iron & Steam
Middle-earth Play-By-Mail
Soccer Supremos
TimeLapse
World of Chaos

Galactic Simulations
Swords of the Gods

Galactic Society Four
Battle Robots
Knight Commander
Tactical Command
The Galactic Game
Timelapse

Game Systems, Inc.
Earthwood: Original
Earthwood: The Sea Kings
Middle-Earth Play-By-Mail
State of War
Venom

Gamer's Den
Phoenix
Industrial Empire
Odyssey

Gamers Guild
NFL Pro League Football

Games By Mail
Games By Mail Football Simulation

Games Without Frontiers

Gem Games
Galactic Overlord

Genesis Games Design
Cosmic Crusaders

Graff Simulations
Continental Rails
El Mythico
Feudal Lords
Feudal Lords II
Gameplan
Kingdom
Kings & Things
Realms of Fantasy
Spiral Arm
Spiral Arm II
Supremacy

Grandel, Inc.
Galactic Prisoners

Grenade Games
Exodus

Half Time PBM Football
Half Time PBM Football

Harlequin games
Amaranth
Battle of the Planets
Crack of Doom
CTF 2187
Exile
Legends
Legends II: Adventurers in Avalon
Legends II: Crown of Chaos
Legends II: Swords of Pelarn
Middle-earth PBM
Premier Football
Serim Ral
Star Quest

Harold Kercher
The Runes of Inngoal

HCS Games
Dark Age
Glory II
Stellar Realms
Strike It Rich

HCS Games
Dark Age
Glory II
Stellar Realms
Strike It Rich

Head Games
Banana Republic

HFR Games
Lord of the Realm

High Point Games
World War IV

Horizon Games
Firebreather

Huscarl Hobbies
A Stitch in Time

ICBM
Starweb
Universe II
Universe III

Imagery
Saga

ImagiCom, Inc.
Electronic Mail American Civil War

Incubus Designs
Serim Ral

Infinite Odysseys
Star-Saga

Inner Dimension Games
Sirius Command

Interesting Times
Privs Inter Pares

Intergalactic Games
Galaxy: Alpha

International Software
Stellar Warlord

Irondragon Enterprises
Nexus of Mystery
Warlord of Thunder Crag

Jason Oates Games
Ancient Empires
Company Commander

Jeff Perkins
Cricket Manager
Overlord 5
Tribe Vibes

JFH Games
World War IV

Kage Interactive
Gameplan American Football & Soccer Strategy

Keith Langley
Ancient Empires
Diplomacy
Global Conquest
One True Faith
Starway II

Kelem Games
Agamemnon
Agamemnon II
The First Crusade

Kelstar Enterprises
The Melding

Keys of Bled
Keys of Bled

Kingdoms of Telgard
Kingdoms of Telgard

Kings Guild, Inc.
Kingsearth

KJC Games
Beyond the Stellar Empire
Crasimoff`s World
Extra Time
It's A Crime!
Monster island
Phoenix
Quest
Warhammer Quest
Warlord

KSK Concepts
Starmaster

LAMA
Dominations

Leisure Time Unlimited
Archella
Thunder Junction
Urban Empire

Lucky Llama Games
You Rule!

Madhouse UK
Continental Rails
DungeonWorld: Daemonrift - Valley of the Lost
Feudal Lords
Football Director
K
Lords of Destiny
Mortis Maximus
Necromancer
Odyssey
Steel Fury
Ultimate Football
You Rule!

Madhouse Australia
DungeonWorld
DungeonWorld: Daemonrift - Valley of the Lost
Midgard
Mortis maximus
Necromancer
Odyssey
Steel Fury
Ultimate Football
You Rule!

Maelstrom Games
Into The Maelstrom
Lords of Destiny

Mailed Gauntlets
The Borderlands of Khataj

Marguerite Dias
Kavernes

Mercury Games
Spiral Arm II
Troll Quest

Mialdian Press
Castle War
Magocracy

Midgard USA, Inc.
Midgard

Midnight Games
Epic: The King's Game
Legends: Crown of Avalon
Legends: Realm of the Immortals
Legends: The Dark Domain
Legends: The North Island Campaign
Legends II: Adventures in Avalon
Legends II: Crown of Chaos
Legends II: Dark Domain
Legends II: North Island Campaign
Legends II: Swords of Pelarn

Mindgate
Stars of the Dark Well

Mindless Games
Serim Ral

MindShift Design LLC
Suergan: The Shattered Isles

Mitregames
Tribes of Crane

Monastic Software
You're An Amoeba, GO!

Nevanis Games, Inc.
Age of Gold

Northwest Simulations
Global Supremacy

Nova Games
2 Halves
Glory to the Lance

Octagon
Celestrek II

Opcon Games
Adventurer Kings
Lords of Destiny
Warriors & Wizards

Pagoda Games
Adventurer Kings
Alamaze
Centurion,
Domination
Godfather
Realms of Fantasy
Star Fleet Warlord
The Double
World War IV

Palace Simulations
Cluster Lords
Rimworlds

Paper Tigers
The Land of Karrus

Paspa Games
Swashbuckler

PBM Adventures
Jurien Range

PBM Enterprises
Legends II: Adventures in Avalon
Legends II: Crown of Chaos
Legends II: Swords of Pelarn

PBM Express
World Emperor II

Pegasus Productions
Alamaze

Perseus Arm Enterprises
Perseus Arm

Pfodd Enterprises

Piranha Games
Kings of the Boryian Empire II
Kobe II
Mercenary
Return of the Empire

Phildee Enterprises
Blitzkrieg
International Internet Football
Kings of Zanthia
Krahlizek
Phoenix Rising
Star Quest
Vampire!

Play By Electron Games
Eldritch

Post-It
Star Quest
World Emperor II

Prime Time Simulations
One-On-One World Conquest
World Conquest
Modern World Conquest

Quail Canyon Systems
Ruler of the Galactic Web
Stellar Syndicate

Quest Games, Inc.
Beyond The Quadra Zone

Reality Simulations, Inc.
Duel2 (formerly Duelmasters)
Forgotten Realms: War of the Avatars
Hyborian War
The Next Empire

Rebel Games
Gunners

Red Talon Gaming
Wild Frontiers

Rolling Thunder Games
Beyond The Stellar Empire
SuperNova: Rise Of The Empire
Supernova II
Victory! The Battle For Europe
Warriors and Wizards
World War IV!

Roma Games
Adventurer Kings
Darkness of Silverfall
Blood Pit
Dino Wars
Lizards
El Mythico
Warriors & Wizards

Sardarthion Press
Cruenti Dei

Saul Betesh
Crystal Island
Dragonian Worlds
HorseMen

Sceptre Roleplaying
Sceptre

Schubel & Son, Inc.
Alien Conflict
Alien Invasion
Ancient Empires
Arena Combat
Company Commander
Computer Boxing
Conquest of the Stars
Crusade
Fog of War
Gallic Wars
Global Supremacy
Glory
Horizon's End
Masters of Magic
Robot Armies
Siege American
Starmaster II
The Tribes of Crane
Vietnam
War 1940
War of 1812

Scott Bowyer
Conquest By Millions

Sevenstar Games
Green Sun

Shadow Island Games
Arena
Food Chain
Olympia
Olympia: The Age of Gods
Singularity

Simcoarum Systems
Freedom
Guns of 14
Grand Alliance
A National Will

Sinbad's Games
Coup d'tat

Slow Motion Games, Inc.
Beyond the Stellar Empire

Soccer Star
Soccer Star

Spellbinder Games
A Bledian Diary
Galaxy
Golden Realms II
Hand of the Demon
Heavens Above
Horses for Courses
Kickabout
LT Wars
Star Empires II
The Apoch

Spyder Games
Outpost

Starlord
Starlord

State of Mind Games
Archmage
Overland
The Chevian Chronicles

Steve M. White
Pentegarnia

Strategic Fantasy Games of Australia
Middle-Earth PBM Third Age

Sudden Asylum
SpyKor

Superior Simulations
Empyrean Challenge

Synchronicity, Inc.
Immortals

Terry Crook
Briny en Garde!

The Barons Australian Midgard
Midgard

The PBM Locomotive Srl
Adventurer Kings
Godfather
MedioEvo
World War IV

Throne Enterprises LLC
Lords of the Earth

Time Patterns PBM Games
Mining Meyham
Quest of the Great Jewels
StarGlobe Plus
Starweb

Time Space Simulations
Midgard

Total Simulations, Inc.

Treesahran Industries
Private Sector

TribeNet
TribeNet

Tudor Games
Privateers
Torpedo Boat Duel

Twin Engine Gaming
Death By Starlight
Out Time Days
Space Combat

Undying King Games
Corporation
Europa
Inferno
Ixion's Wheel
Pieces of Eight!
The Centre Cannot Hold
Unexplained

Viking Games
Empires of Corinium
Legends of Israa
Realms of Israa

Vorpal Games
Throne of Rhianon

War College Simulations PBM, Inc.
Eagle Day: The Battle for Britain
Operation Barbarossa: The Battle for Russia: 1941-45
World War II: A Second World War Simulation

Warlord Strategic Gaming
Sovereignty

Warrior Games
Clans II
Darkstar
Pub Quest

WoW Games
War of Wizards

Yellowseed Games of Canada
Balance of Power
Clans of Trove
Cosa Nostra
Speculate!

Zephyr Enterprises, Inc.
Abyss
Continuum
Warlords of the Shattered Land

Zorph Enterprises
Quest of the Great Jewels

----------------------
Sources Used To Date:
----------------------

Flagship
Issue(s): #1

Flagship (U.S. Edition)
Issue(s): #47

Paper Mayhem
Issue(s): #27, #38, #58, #62, #70

------------------------
Contributors To This List:
------------------------

Ardagor
GrimFinger
Sean Cleworth
Shimeril
Toppers
Walter

----------------------------------
List Last Updated: March 21st, 2011
----------------------------------


NOTE: Updates in progress.

Print this item

  Return from the dead
Posted by: GrimFinger - 01-06-2011, 08:57 PM - Forum: News & Announcements - Replies (7)

Well, after much deliberation and numerous instances of fiddling around with corrupted database and system files, and after being prodded by site user Ixnay, I have started from scratch.

Nobody hates starting from scratch more than myself, and I even sought assistance from my web host, who tried to help. But, unfortunately, it was to no avail. I even tried uploading and importing a database file from this past September - again, to no avail.

I may eventually be able to recover some of the old stuff on the site by manually digging through a database file manually (which is always a very time consuming pain in the ass), but it's not a priority for me. I started to just resume from scratch on New year's Day, but I was hoping, even at that late date, to try and salvage some of the old forum postings.

The site had all but died, anyway, even before the screw-up, if I measure it by the number of forum postings. So, I don't expect any real surge of interest in the site, now that it is back up and running, again. Of course, with the new Flagship magazine website and forums never really gaining much traction (a consequence of Carol being hospitalized, no doubt), and with the PBM Gamer website drying up (due to Mark Wardell's extended absence - although Mark made a reappearance on his site on New Year's Day), this site becoming dysfunctional certainly didn't prove to be a boon of fans of the Play By Mail genre of gaming.

But, at least this site is functional, again. Or, at least, it should be. Try registering and posting, and check things out for yourself, if you happen to be a lurker out there on the Internet reading this announcement of mine.

On a positive note, however, I will be doing future upgrades to the software here using the Softaculous installer script, which will hopefully make upgrading both faster and substantially less problematic. This should equate to less human error doing upgrades, from here on out.

You may encounter some dead or misconfigured links. I will be trying to weed these out over the next day or two. You will need to re-register. Yes, I am well aware that re-registering sucks, but the only alternative is to not re-register, if you were a former site user, and just read the forum postings while logged on to the site as a guest/visitor.

Regardless of what you choose to do, welcome back to the site - and happy new year, to boot!

Print this item