Beyond the Stellar Empire

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Beyond the Stellar Empire

In July 1992, KJC games launched its replacement to the sci-fi wargame, Capital. This game, Beyond the Stellar Empire, or BSE for short, had been running for some years in America, as a hand-moderated postal game. This version, however, had been programmed in qbasic by Adventures By Mail, and while vaguely based on the events in the American version, was sufficiently unique to be considered a brand new game.

Members of the KJC company spent a short working holiday at the ABM offices learning how to input the game, and came back to the UK, complete with floppy discs and rule books. Within a few short weeks, the game was up and running.

As the two companies went their separate ways over the next few years, it became clear that KJC was on its own. The Americans sold their license on, and the version across the waters drifted through a successive number of owners, before finally floundering. Others may know more about its fate, but that's another story.

The KJC version of BSE went through a quick succession of moderators, until it was taken on by Mica Goldstone, back in 1994. From there, the game became relatively stable (there will always be ups and downs in an open ended game), and the fan base, now having a dedicated GM, could look forward to a long and relatively untroubled future.

As technology in the outside world progressed, so, too, did the game. First, back around the beginning of 1998, the game was upgraded to send email turn reports. This was a big change in how the game was played. Suddenly the American and the European players were on a level with the British players.

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The Shape of Things to Come
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Just over a year and a half later, the beginning of a remarkable relationship started.

David Bethel, then a professional programmer and power behind one of the in-game factions, offered his services in re-programming the planetary battle module of the game. These being grounds for occasional grumblings amongst the players, the offer was readily accepted.

Within a month, the new program was integrated, though in effect, as this new program was written in a different language (c++), it quickly started to reveal the ever widening cracks in the rest of the code. Maybe it was the beer, maybe seeing his colleagues going insane under the pressure of highly demanding jobs, or, more likely, the frustration of continually putting right other peoples' dubious quality work, but David decided it was time for a career change. This project had also whet Dr. Bethel's appetite for the sheer 'joy' of coding professional games - the long nights shouting at monitors, stamping on bugs, explaining to players that their worst fears would only come true if the programmer was a complete moron, then having to explain that no, this was not an admission of being a complete moron - you get the picture.

So, with the unmitigated success of the new battle program, talks (largely beer induced) were undertaken to write a replacement to Beyond the Stellar Empire.

To accomplish this, Skeletal Software was founded by David Bethel, in order to tackle the prospect of re-writing Beyond the Stellar Empire. Phoenix: Beyond the Stellar Empire was envisioned.