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[split] Splitting Galac-Tac discussion into new thread - Printable Version

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[split] Splitting Galac-Tac discussion into new thread - Davin - 04-06-2016

Well, we're still out here and Galac-Tac is available for play, but participants are scarce and welcome.

Please let us know what kind of decisions you're making (even half-baked ones) about the future of the magazine.  Personally, I think that continuing S&D would be a good plan, as it is already set up with a publication history and good exposure, unless you really want to take off in an entirely different direction.

I'd previously submitted some material for the last unpublished issue of S&D (November) that I hope you've been able to acquire from GrimFinger.  If so, that should all still be fine to include in the next issue.  (If not, let me know and I'll get you copies.)


RE: PBM zine cranking up again - BobMcLain - 04-08-2016

So then what's your elevator pitch for Galac-Tac?

Even when Jon Capps ran the game, back in the early 1980s, it never really clicked with the crowd (back then, of course, there *was* a crowd), and I'm curious why you've resurrected this game, along with such other not-so-well-known properties as Wasteland and Jim Graham's old Manifest Destiny (few turns of which ever ran, unless I misremember)? Do you think there's a market for these games today?

My advice - for whatever that's worth - is never to admit on a public forum that players are "scarce" for your game, since nothing will keep away potential new players quite like the lack of existing players! By the way, some of the most popular features in my old magazines were "diaries": a series of articles by players in a game about what it was like to play the game, turn by turn. Why not organize a free game of Galac-Tac, for play-by-mail.net players only, on condition that they submit short narratives to you each turn, which you can then assemble into a diary and post installments here (not in the PDF fanzine, but here in the forum, where they might be noticed). Any other moderator who visits this forum looking for players might consider doing likewise. It could give a lot of us reason to visit more regularly.


RE: PBM zine cranking up again - Davin - 04-08-2016

Ixnay, I'd like to discuss this further with Bob, but I think a new thread would be more appropriate than cluttering up your Zine's thread.  What do you think about splitting it off for us?


RE: PBM zine cranking up again - ixnay - 04-14-2016

This thread-snip raises a number of issues.

First, the "elevator pitch" of PBM games is a really good thing to focus on.  There are so many demands and distractions pulling on people's limited leisure time, that there has to be a good concise 20-second description of what a game is about.  Why should I play this and not another round of Civilization on the computer?

Second, Galac-tac doesn't shy away from the past glories of PBM.  Indeed, based on the ad in the last Suspense & Decision, it embraces it with a photo of one of the old computers used to run it!  I can see this going either way.  It suggests the game is dated, but it also suggests it's been around a long time and is thus a good solid design.  It also might appeal to the older crowd of those of use who were here for PBM's initial surge.  It's hard to say whether this approach is great or questionable.

Third, I myself *love* game-log type articles.  They are indeed perhaps my favorite type of PBM piece.  I have long been meaning to consolidate some of the old "far horizons" stuff we played out here on the forum into a piece for the zine.


RE: [split] Splitting Galac-Tac discussion into new thread - Davin - 04-17-2016

Sorry for the delay in answering, folks. Let me try to address some of these points one at a time...


RE: PBM zine cranking up again - Davin - 04-17-2016

(04-08-2016, 01:36 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: So then what's your elevator pitch for Galac-Tac?

Galac-Tac is a vintage 4X play-by-mail game of space conquest, computer-moderated and updated to view, print and submit turns on the web while still retaining its classic 1980s PBM play style. Players have a finite number of turns to compete with a handful of others for domination of a limited galaxy. Fun for friends, foes, and family!  Would-be rulers of the galaxy combine long-term military strategies, technical planning and execution, efficient economics, creative use of limited resources, diplomacy, mastery of the unexpected, and patience as it all comes together. Though the rules are relatively simple, your ultimate strategy is not!  One of its more unique features is the ability to design and build all your spaceships from scratch, using customizable components to construct ships for any purpose you can foresee. The basic rules of play are unchanged since 1982, but online access and a Windows-based "assistant" program (with customizable color graphical maps, ship design tools and other utilities) allow a more interactive approach. Solo play against computer opponents is also available for learning and practice, and turnaround times are configurable to suit the players' preference for solo, public, or private games. Watch as your empire grows from a simple "you are here" map to a vast galaxy-wide dominion as you explore, exploit, and conquer!



RE: PBM zine cranking up again - Davin - 04-17-2016

(04-08-2016, 01:36 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: Even when Jon Capps ran the game, back in the early 1980s, it never really clicked with the crowd (back then, of course, there *was* a crowd), and I'm curious why you've resurrected this game, along with such other not-so-well-known properties as Wasteland and Jim Graham's old Manifest Destiny (few turns of which ever ran, unless I misremember)? Do you think there's a market for these games today?

I'm certainly pleased that there are some of you still around that remember these games from the old days!

Back in the 80's Galac-Tac had enough players and games to keep us fairly busy, but you're right - it certainly wasn't a flood.  I like to think that some of the interest back in the earliest days was due to the color-printed turns and color-plotted hex maps every turn, which were almost unheard of that far back.  But the high mailing costs of large empires tended to keep the turn costs relatively high for those days so it was one of the more expensive games to play.  And if your empire gets hurt too badly to be likely to win, that can certainly make high costs less rewarding.  I think that expense accounted for much of the lower-than-expected interest.  But by putting it on the web I can take the postage and per-turn costs out of the equation and let everyone play the same old game for a trivial monetary investment.  I'm hoping that in itself can help renew interest.

Actually, our friends kept playing Galac-Tac with one another over the years because it was so much fun.  It really only disappeared from public view for lack of a PBM market when all the new console and computer games came out.  Now I'm hoping that many players, new and old alike, will find it fun once again when they go looking for PBM-style entertainment.  It wasn't too difficult to bring over to the web so it wasn't much of an investment to get it going again.

As for the other old games, I don't know whether those will end up being usable or not.  They may require some substantial reworking to make more sense today, but I'm keeping my options open there.  At the moment we're putting what development time we have into bringing Midgard back to life, but it takes a ton of work and we don't get as much time to spend on it as we'd like.  But there are still a number of old Midgard players out there, anxious to see a revival.  After Midgard, I'd really like to tackle Gateway - an original design that Jon and I put together back in the late 80's or thereabouts.  I think that game still has promise for today's PBM-style market.



RE: PBM zine cranking up again - Davin - 04-17-2016

(04-08-2016, 01:36 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: My advice - for whatever that's worth - is never to admit on a public forum that players are "scarce" for your game, since nothing will keep away potential new players quite like the lack of existing players!

That's true, and I definitely appreciate your advice, but then I don't want people signing up expecting games to be starting every week and being angry when they're not.  I can deal with disinterest better than frustration from implied promises.  And hopefully I can get the interest going again now that S&D is starting back up and I'll get enough of a player base to keep things rolling.



RE: PBM zine cranking up again - Davin - 04-17-2016

(04-08-2016, 01:36 PM)BobMcLain Wrote: By the way, some of the most popular features in my old magazines were "diaries": a series of articles by players in a game about what it was like to play the game, turn by turn. Why not organize a free game of Galac-Tac, for play-by-mail.net players only, on condition that they submit short narratives to you each turn, which you can then assemble into a diary and post installments here (not in the PDF fanzine, but here in the forum, where they might be noticed). Any other moderator who visits this forum looking for players might consider doing likewise. It could give a lot of us reason to visit more regularly.

That's a wonderful idea!!

I think maybe I'd rather have the players speak for themselves directly rather than playing editor myself, and the forum allows us to do that easily enough.

Let me then make this offer to all the playbymail.net forum denizens...

I'll set up a private game of Galac-Tac just for our use.  Any of you can sign up to play in it for free as long as you agree to make short regular posts (most turns) here about the game you're in.  Mostly I think everyone would like to see notes about what your position is doing and how you're faring, but I'll understand if some of that commentary may be secret for a few turns while you're setting up a surprise attack (but please let us know how it worked out).  If you would also like to contribute any thoughts on what you like or dislike about the game, want to make suggestions, or just want to taunt your fellow players in public, that would be great, too.

How about we set it up this way...  If you want to participate, drop by my web site at www.talisman-games.com and sign up to be a player.  You may just close the "send payment" screen after you've signed up.  Then leave a note here with your TG login name that you'd like to play.  I'll give you three years of free play time, during which time you can play in the group game and any number of other Galac-Tac games you'd like to participate in, including "solo" games where you can practice with computer players before trying things out on human opponents.  I'll PM you the password for the game and you can enroll yourself in the game from the web site.  When we get a reasonable number of players signed up, we'll start the game.  If more players (or the same players) want to give it a go after the first game has started, I'll spin up more to run in parallel.

How does everyone feel about a one-week turnaround for each turn?  I think that should give most everyone enough time to check their turns, compose their strategy, and enter their actions.  But if several of you feel like you need more time, we can arrange for that.

Any questions or suggestions?


RE: [split] Splitting Galac-Tac discussion into new thread - ixnay - 04-18-2016

I am up for a game. I will gladly and enthusiastically relive the glory of Far Horizons here in Galact-tac land. We just need to get Grim to join in for the fun. One of the funniest things I ever read on this forum was when he named his new destroyer "Granny Goodness" as it glided shark-like into my home system.

I had thought about writing a review of Galac-tac, but wanted to play some first. But this idea of a "public" game sounds much better. I will see what I can do to hype this up.

How many players does it take to make a game run well?