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Impressions & Commentaries
Although I recently started another thread in this forum that pertains to Phoenix:BSE, Captain's Log: The Voyage of the Simian Star, that one is intended to be more of a diary, of sorts, similar to one that I did for a game of Far Horizons that I tried, once upon a while ago.

This thread, I intend to use just for making comments off-the-cuff about particular things about Phoenix:BSE that catch my attention, for pretty much any reason, whatsoever.

One thing that I do like about the game is the fact that I received an e-mail version of my turn report.

The whole "Between Turn Report" thing, I don't know about, yet. If I received turn results, then doesn't that qualify as a turn? To me, that adds to the confusion factor of trying to learn the game. It's not enough to make the old confusion meter start spinning wildly, but it does make the confusion gauge go up a notch on my end.

One thing that stands out in my mind, probably due to an article that Amber of the Phoenix:BSE crew wrote for Issue # 5 of Suspense & Decision (which is still very fresh in my mind), is where she said in that article the following things:

However, when you actually join the game and use the forum, there are lots of features incorporated into it to make it as minimalistic as possible, if you want it to be.

...and also...

In conclusion, I would have to say if you want to get new players to stop and read your website and ultimately play the game, then you have to have something that is appealing to look at, something that looks as if you care about it, but when you have them hooked, you have to get the information over to them how they want to see it, which is usually as clutter-free as possible.

SOURCE: Do Graphics Have a Place in PBM?
Suspense & Decision magazine - Issue # 5


This same philosophy of a clutter-less look and getting the information to them as they want to see it doesn't seem to extend beyond the forum, itself. That is rather unfortunate, since that philosophy would be of far more use to me, as a player who is new to the game, if it were applied to the game's turn results than to the forum.

My experience to date is that, even where this philosophy is applied to the Phoenix:BSE forum, itself, the information that I am most interested in there (namely, the forum postings, themselves), is the information to which that very same philosophy isn't even applied. The philosophy in question is applied more to layout and to presentation, than to information, itself.

My own experience to date has been that the ability to search the forum, for specific information, and to do so effectively and in a timely manner, is sharply constrained. Not in every instance, but in certain instances. For a game where player affiliations dominate, not just in practice but by design, as well, and whose affiliations are denoted by three-letter acronyms, the inability to perform a forum search for information by keying in on those very same acronyms is problematic, to say the least. The fact that players routinely utilize such acronyms in their postings underscores the importance of being able to access such information, when searching.

This approach all but ensures that newer players will remain at an informational disadvantage, when starting out, and while it is certainly possible for new players to pose questions to either their fellow players or to company staff, what this translates into is a more time consuming approach, which equates to inefficiency, and a dependency upon others to provide the information being requested.

It also serves to make much of the depth of the game, which manifests itself through the players' forum postings, less readily accessible than it needs to be. It facilitates a diminished game experience, from an overall standpoint. It cuts into the enthusiasm factor. At least, it has for me, as a player, anyway. The chances for player longevity increases, where enthusiasm remains undiminished. As enthusiasm erodes, player drop outs become more likely.

When I compare the turn results sent by e-mail to the same set of turn results available to me via the game's Nexus interface, I find myself debating which of the two that I like better.

I like the fact that officers aboard ships can gain experience.

A lot of the information presented to me on these early turn reports, I don't really care anything about. Maybe I should, but the reality is that I don't. Much of it is little more than useless clutter to me, at this early stage of the game. Hopefully, I haven't overlooked some of the more interesting tidbits scattered in amongst the mass of text that collectively comprises my turn results.

On my e-mailed turn results, I very much like the use of blue text to denote certain things. This is very, very helpful to me. The online version of the turn results available to me via the Nexus utilizes a different approach to managing the distinction of information through visual means. Scanning both the email version and the online version quickly, I seem to find the specific portions of information that I am after more quickly using the e-mail version.

That's ironic, I think, in light of the fact that the online version likely has far more capability built into it than the e-mail version. That's speculation on my part, though.

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