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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: 4,656
Species Log: The Most Glo...
Forum: Far Horizons: The Return
Last Post: ronin
10-18-2021, 05:24 AM
» Replies: 20
» Views: 3,007
DOING TIME - A PBM Newsle...
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: ravenzachary
10-12-2021, 06:16 PM
» Replies: 6
» Views: 540
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: 53
Who was that masked man?
Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself
Last Post: Davin
10-06-2021, 08:32 PM
» Replies: 3
» Views: 137
The Ongoing Appeal of PBM
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: PNMarkW2
10-05-2021, 07:05 PM
» Replies: 4
» Views: 292
Small Games
Forum: Submit your ideas!
Last Post: Serpent Blight
09-26-2021, 02:19 PM
» Replies: 9
» Views: 833
Islander 22 Now Out
Forum: The Isles PBM
Last Post: Roy Pollard
09-25-2021, 01:43 PM
» Replies: 0
» Views: 98

  Spam reporting?
Posted by: Davin - 10-21-2021, 03:42 AM - Forum: Website Related - Replies (3)

Why can't I get the "report spam" button to do anything on my system? Is anyone else having this problem?

Someone calling themselves "annesmith" has just posted a bunch of garbage on the Galac-Tac group and I'd like to be able to report it to the admins so they can remove it and block them.

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  Mutterings of the "MAD" Scientist - #001
Posted by: PNMarkW2 - 10-09-2021, 02:35 AM - Forum: Designers Notes - No Replies

Several years ago I was gifted a collection of rulebooks for a number of PBM games, along with a many, many, Paper Mayhem and Flagship magazines, along with samples of various PBM related newsletters. recently I was looking through this collection and noticed a wide spectrum of games and design intents and I wanted to discuss two examples of what I discovered, specifically as different designed approach the subject of rules.

First I would like to talk for a minute about the rules for the game "Third Foundation". From looking at the rules I have not yet been able to determine who the GM was, or what year these rules are from. I do know who the play testers were, and that this was worked on for 10 years. And according to the rules this is an "exciting role-playing space war game". Or translated, this is a sci-fi empire building 4x game, but unlike many such games there does actually seem to be a bit of role-playing involved. However, this is not a review of the game itself, but more a review if you will of the rules if you will. To put it mildly, this game had ambition. Here are some fun facts about the rules.

  • 6 pages for the table of contents
  • 89 pages of rules, including 3 appendixes
  • 22 pages of index
  • All printed in a 10-point font
  • On top of this, 20 pages of game map

As I said, these rules are ambitious. They are ambitious in scope and depth, but also with the bar they set for what is expected of a potential player before playing their game.

Now lets take a look at another game, "Galactic Pest Control" by Tom Webster copyright 1997, revised edition. This appears to be more of a traditional role-playing game. I say appears because there is nothing in the rules that describes type of the game it is, or the setting for the game. I will admit there is a distinct possibility that I do not have a complete rulebook, but I don't think so. It starts with section I, and goes to section VIII and covers all the basics, so lets review what we have.
  • No table of contents
  • 2 pages of rules
  • No index
  • A nice 12-point font
  • That's it.

I would say these rules are equally ambitious, but in a different way. These are ambitious with the total lack of content and in what they expect a player to know, or accept on faith, before playing their game.

It is my contention there is a sweet spot for rules and other reference material somewhere between 2 pages and 120 pages, plus 20 pages of maps. Of course rules need to cover the information needed to play the game, but if they feel too long, they probably are. If you have to assure people that the rules aren't too long, they probably are. By way of self confession, the rules for my game are too long, and I'm working on it.

It is also my experience that in many cases some extra editing would not go amiss. Looks for ways to cut extra words out of a sentence, or a sentence out of a paragraph. Naturally rules need to cover what is necessary to play the game, but if they can be kept both clear and tight I believe there will be fewer questions.

I am only a "MAD" Scientist, there is more I could say, but now it is your turn. You may take my mutterings as you will.  Wink

a.k.a. The "MAD" Scientist

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  Forum Signature
Posted by: PNMarkW2 - 10-08-2021, 11:54 PM - Forum: Website Related - Replies (4)

For some reason I'm getting a 403 error when I try to create a signature. Not a big deal, but I thought it should be known by more than me.

a.k.a. The "MAD" Scientist

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  Who was that masked man?
Posted by: PNMarkW2 - 10-05-2021, 07:39 PM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (3)

I've come and gone so much, and most recently I've been gone so long that although I introduced myself once before I feel the need to reintroduce myself again.

I was born and raised to Portland, Oregon and lived there most of my life. When I was first married we did live on Boston for a just over 2 years, but decided Portland was better for us. Then, somewhat unexpectedly, we move from Portland to Salem, Oregon where we live now.

My introduction to PBM gaming came back in the 1980's in the form of a flyer mailed to me based off of an Opponents Wanted add in The General magazine published by The Avalon Hill game company. My first thought on reading it was "what the heck?". I was looking for people to join a local board game club in Portland, not a PBM game. But the GM was offering three free turns to start, and there was a little something that tweaked my interests, so I signed up intending to play my free turns and see what came of it. Within a few months I had 7 or 8 other guys at the club playing as well. All of us at that time had heard of playing our board games by mail, but none of us had ever heard of a game designed to be played by mail. The game itself, Galactic Empires, was engaging in large part because of the interaction with other players in the game and we all kept playing for several years.

From that point some of the guys discovered the magazine Paper Mayhem and learned of other games that several of us joined. Games like Terra II and Galactic Poisoners come to mind, but I know there were others.

Lots of details passed from then until much later, but in the end the games we played all faded away mostly when GMs lost their interest. Most games at that time, as I expect still today, are run by one or two people, and I think most of us who have never done it don't realize the time commitment involved. There is a paradox here, if you don't get enough players it hurts your game and it becomes hard to justify the time you're putting into it, get more players and then you find you have no time for anything except the game. That said, I did acquire and still own the rights to my first PBM game, Galactic Empires, and I ran it as a side hustle for several years until I put it on hold to update the rules and program, and that's where it sits today. Every now and then I get the idea to start GE back up, and perhaps to pursue some of the other ideas I have for PBM games. Perhaps someday...

a.k.a. 'The MAD Scientist'

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  Islander 22 Now Out
Posted by: Roy Pollard - 09-25-2021, 01:43 PM - Forum: The Isles PBM - No Replies


The latest Newsletter and Rumours for The Isles is now out and readable from the above URL. Attached is a preview of Page 1

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  The Ongoing Appeal of PBM
Posted by: CantripMaestro - 09-07-2021, 04:22 AM - Forum: Submit your ideas! - Replies (4)

I suppose this post is in lieu of writing a letter to the editor of Suspense and Decision. As a relative newcomer and admittedly, not a die-hard PBM player, I might be overstepping my bounds. But I think what I have to say needs to be said.

There has been much written throughout the years, and in several issues of S&D, about the need to revitalize the hobby. About how something new and innovative needs to be done. All the great minds of the PBM world seem to come up lacking. I think that is for good reason. If you want new and innovative, there are plenty of modern games on PC's, consoles and smart phones to play. That's being new and innovative. PBM and PBEM games are not any of that. They are, quite simply, completely retro. They are never going to be anything else.

Nor should they be.

Honestly, I think the best strategy for promoting PBM is to fully embrace the retro feel and play it up as much as possible. That's it's enduring power. That's it's strongest selling point. Be completely and totally unapologetic, and never for an instant try to portray PBM games themselves as anything other than what they are. If you're going to market PBM, market the hell out of that retro feel. Never pretend. PBM has survived decades for a reason. It offers something real and substantial. PBM just isn't going to change that much. It can't, without losing its identity. So I say, flaunt that identity and market it to new generations in all of its old-fashioned goodness.

S&D has been doing all that wonderfully, actually. But I get the feeling it's publishers yearn for the hobby to evolve, to change, to be what it's not....all the while never losing its charm. Do you see what an impossible situation this is? The charm of PBM is PBM, plain and simple.

That being said, there is a tremendous packaging problem when it comes to PBM--or at least PBEM games, which is what I am familiar with. And this is where it might get controversial.

Most PBM web sites are completely outdated, and the look and feel is simply of the "ancient days" of the internet. If you're going to market the classic PBEM feel, you can still do it with more streamlined and responsive web sites. I am firmly of the opinion, if you're going to go retro, it should be the artwork alone that has a retro feel. You can still update the web site and have a slightly more modern layout. It's the game that's supposed to be classic retro. A web site that hasn't been redone in fifteen years, on the other hand, looks cheap and neglected. Like it or not, that's the impression most PBM web sites give. This is unfortunate, because I think it's safe to assume that the games themselves are completely worthy of time and attention.

Maybe I'm contradicting myself. But I am fully of the opinion, that in order to attract a younger audience in greater numbers, web sites need to update a little. The heart and soul of PBM need not change, but boy, could it ever use a facelift! Let the games themselves be retro, and never apologize for that. But making it look good on the outside would go a long way toward improving the image of PBM as a whole.

Of course, you are perfectly welcome to disagree with me. Maybe you think the outdated websites are fine. Maybe you're of the opinion, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I'll even agree with that, as long as you mean the PBM games themselves. But I still insist giving web sites a fresh look for fresh eyes would go a long way toward revitalizing the hobby. Rather than inadvertently portraying PBM as a rusty old relic, it could use some new paint and polish to really bring out its glory. Like it or not, image matters.

There's plenty more to be said about marketing. But I am going to end my discussion here, as advanced marketing topics are far beyond my expertise.

One final thing: Frankly, I think S&D is excellent for the hobby, and I never would have gotten back into the hobby without it. It has led me to numerous games that I never would have found otherwise. I hope to see many future issues. S&D is a perfect example of the classic retro feel I'm talking about in this post. I just wish the editors would be a little more unapologetic about what PBM is and always will be.

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  Returning PBEM player
Posted by: CantripMaestro - 09-07-2021, 03:00 AM - Forum: New to the site? Introduce Yourself - Replies (1)

Greetings, one and all!

I'm a one time PBM player (I played a PBM game whose name I do not remember back in the early nineties for a few turns) and also an old PBEM player. Though I admit, I can hardly be called a hardened PBEM veteran. I played the commercial version of Olympia G2 for a while, and also a game called Smuggler's Run (which I would really like to play again sometime.) I took a few year hiatus, and came back to PBEM to temporarily play in Olympia G3 and G4. I've also played in Atlantis. Recently, I've started to get into paid PBEM's again, and am trying my hand at a few trial games and low-cost intros.

In my dreams, I'd still like to create a computer-moderated PBEM of my own. I'm convinced I'm capable of programming one, if given enough time. Whether or not it would be any good? That's the real question, isn't it?  Big Grin

Anyway, I'm looking forward to hanging around here, and having a little fun. Glad to be here!

EDIT: For anyone who has information on Smuggler's Run, and if it would be possible to resurrect some source code or get it going again, I would love to hear it!

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  Far Horizons Space PBeM
Posted by: Fungus - 08-22-2021, 05:44 AM - Forum: Games Seeking Players - File Repository - Free Downloads! - No Replies

Far Horizons is an active, free, open-ended space opera PBeM which has been recently relaunched from sourcecode released in 1999.

The game is played weekly, with turns as a series of orders submitted via email to the GM before Monday evenings Pacific US time.

Players control a species in the galaxy, newly capable of interstellar travel. The goal for each species is to utilise the resources they have to hand and build ships and technology for exploration, colonisation, development and warfare: for the galaxy is a finite place, and the other species are as desperate for your resources as you are for theirs...

The game is currently 15 turns in, and is currently looking for some new players to replace some of the NPC species in the game. Scan the game manual (link below) for a sense of the wide-ranging technology available in the game, and the basic mechanics. New players will receive support and will be given the history of the turn results for the species they adopt.

game Manual: https://farhorizons.dev/index.html
Email for signup: farhorizonsorders@gmail.com

See https://playbymail.net/mybb/forumdisplay.php?fid=45 for the specific forum hosted here.

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  stepping back into the pool...
Posted by: ixnay - 08-17-2021, 11:07 PM - Forum: Opinions & General Discussion - Replies (5)

Observations at a high level:
 - more posters on this forum (!!)
 - active games are pumping out turns
 - the hidden hand of the market is moving things around, sometimes in plain sight and sometimes veiled in fog
 - did I mention there are people posting about games?

Game stuff I've been mucking about with recently:
 - heavy board games
 - war games (mostly collecting and reading, not so much playing)
 - RPGs (again, mostly collecting and reading, not so much playing)
 - computer games (minecraft with my son, and a ridiculous obsession with Rimworld)

Project-like things in the pipeline:
 - helping one set of friends playtest an impressive set of hybrid board/RPG games
 - helping another set of friends playtest/develop some board game ideas
 - looking at tools for easy app development (for online games)
 - a game zine similar to S&D, but focused on the meatiest game experiences across all channels (not just PBM)

Stuff that has gummed up my presence here in PBM land:
 - real life putting high pressures on my available time/energy
 - we have an embarrassment of riches in game options all around us
 - awareness of how much actually goes into zine-crafting

Questions?  Comments?  Rotten tomatoes?

I'll be taking vacation soon, and will hopefully have time to push out some work on issue 20...

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  Flying Buffalo to Rick Loomis PBM
Posted by: Wilks - 08-01-2021, 11:33 PM - Forum: News & Announcements - Replies (6)

I got an e-mail earlier this week from Flying Buffalo.  They have sold all of the Face to Face games (RPG, Card, etc.) they own to another company along with the domain name Flying Buffalo.  They have set up a new site for the PBM games at RickLoomisPBM.com.  Nothing there yet really but the e-mail address to contact them but it states they will be announcing something soon.

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