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Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Tue Dec 25, 2018 2:23 am
by darbycmcd
Is there anything to hope for with this game? Tyrel hasn't posted for months, none of the promised supplements seem to be coming out, and only some fan work has been done with Galaxies. Is it dead? I hope not, I feel like there is still potential here, but maybe time to move it to new management.... not sure who would pick it up but there might be someone. Maybe Kast from MJ12?

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Sun Dec 30, 2018 6:00 pm
by BroAdso
I'm running a couple of test games at a slow pace with the new Galaxies rules and having a lot of fun, but haven't heard from Tyrel or seen anyone edit the test google docs in a long while. I agree it's a real shame - this is a gem of a system that I'd hate to see slip into a coma. Here's some pics to keep things likely from my two current test games!

From a small Star Wars map test:

From an attempt to use the old Terran Civil War source material:

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Sun Mar 03, 2019 6:00 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
It's a victim of no one having time to work on things, and what time we have being spent rearranging the old deck chairs more than anything else.

There is still a spark of life going on in the background, but the focus has been on improving combat first and foremost.

What has been happening on my end is that I have moved over into the wargaming space and taking a hard look at what similar games are doing and seeing where there are better solutions to our existing problems.

Combine that with a year from hell at work (had to work most weekends and holidays in 2018) and that destroyed any hope I had of getting things done. :?

I have a version of the rules that I've been testing that I think distills VBAM to its core elements, but it has a few more months of work to go before I think it's going to be cohesive enough for anyone else to play. The upside is that the rules are down to about 24 pages through a combination of (hopefully) clever consolidation and a complete rewrite of the combat rules.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:00 pm
by darbycmcd
It is great to hear that you haven't completely abandoned this game, it still has lots of potential. Could I just make a suggestion/request. Please finish the supplements for 2E that you promised and then go back to work on Galaxy. I get that you are sort of out of the 2E headspace, but you promised those products to support a commercial offering, just do what you said you would do. Your paying customers deserve a bit more respect than to be left behind.

With that out of the way, I am interested to hear about the move to a more wargame theme. Once again I will put out there, try to involve the community more. There are some really great people on this board that do a lot of work on this game. BroAdso honestly has basically kept the lights on in this place for the last year you have been absent. But his stuff is great! Use him!

I have some experience with wargames, helping a bit with rules development and OOBs for a couple WWII monsters. I also have played lots of F&E, Imperium 2000, 5th Frontier War, and Starfire which might be useful. What can we do to help?

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:33 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
At this point the plan is to complete all of the core books for what the Galaxies/Rebirth project has become before we commercially release anything else. These new books will ultimately replace 2E, and I want to make sure that those that bought 2E are taken care of to upgrade them at little or no cost. We haven't really discussed that internally yet as we're concentrating on the rules design and then deciding how we're going to proceed with the company and products from there.

You can be assured that BroAdo's contributions have been well noted and I've been talking with him to get some input on the direction that the rules are headed to get his feedback.

We are going to be doing another round of internal testing at the end of the month on the newest build of the rules. I am currently doing some testing to finalize changes to some rules that I don't think are working quite as smoothly as they could.

My goal once we finish a few independent solo tests is to begin publishing weekly diaries covering those rules elements that we know are locked in, and then releasing a public playtest pack that includes as much of the rules as possible for players to digest. That means the core rules, rules for creating your own empire, and other advanced rules that will end up in the companion. That way we can get feedback from there.

RE: Wargames, after researching the market and seeing what players in that space want it became pretty clear that most player consider a 24 page rule book to be pretty meaty and often intimidating. That matches up with some feedback that we're received over the years, too, and our increasingly complex rules can seem impenetrable. I've been cutting down rules and removing fluff to get as close to the 24 page target as possible, moving as much to advanced rules as necessary to achieve a tighter design.

Combat is being completely turned on its ear and more like what you'd see in a wargame. The classic VBAM CSCR was great for flavor but could slow down a game more than it needed to, and while it had lots of decisions they were not always meaningful. We have been working on improving on this, and I think at this point the internal feedback has been to move to a single round of combat to speed things up. This speeds up play, but also will help us on the strategic layer by eliminating a lot of the all-or-nothing combat affairs that we've seen in the past. Right now I think the space combat rules are dialed back to about 3 pages of rules before we add examples.

Movement is also being overhauled to add a movement stat to all units, and making jump lanes have a movement point cost. A very simple adaptation, but something that fixes a lot of our movement related issues and allows for better integration of terrain that affects movement.

The map is also going to be a bit bigger to allow for more opportunities for defense in depth. 2E started down that road, but integration of some sysgen elements that Geoff wants to use in his Nexus setting has led to a proliferation of middle of the road systems and a more varied map.

I am sure that this new direction is going to upset some players after the debacle of 2E, but that particular death march has taught us that we need to concentrate on getting all of our ducks in a row before we push too far ahead. That is why we are making sure to have all of the core content ready to go before we relaunch the game in any way. I personally want the equivalent of a "boxed set" available day one that has everything that players could need equivalent to the old editions, and then we can proceed from there with some extra content that is in the "nice to have" column.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:38 am
by PaulB
Have you guys ever looked at Empire of the Sun's combat rules? Not played it myself, but just listened to a podcast and the combat resolution sounds very similar to what VBAM had in 1e and 2e. I think it likewise has a single round of combat resolution. Some reviews will call that combat swingy, but the game is highly regarded by quite a few gamers from what I understand. It seems like it could certainly allow for some of the more notable and decisive battles of history.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Sat May 04, 2019 8:22 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
Paul, you know the name of one of the White Whales I've been hunting for the last few years :)

Yes, Empire of the Sun's combat has some similarities to VBAM's, and I've been trying to incorporate elements of it into our test versions. Specifically, being able to look at your total attack factor and know that is the theoretical maximum hits to be scored makes it much easier to plan for how effective your fleet will be in combat.

EOTS also uses the same convention as VBAM where Defense remains the same even when a unit is crippled, and only its Attack is halved.

For those that might be interested, I finally flipped the switch on my Patreon that I've had in stasis the last 4 years and I am going to use it as a place to aggregate dev diaries and commentaries on the game until such time as we have something more official to release.

And don't worry, I'm not rattling my begging cup, and most everything is going to be publicly available. If I end up with any patrons then I'll have to worry about finding the premium content, but with my well documented history of slow delivery I don't think that will be a problem :) But I think it might be an easier way for me to collate and push content out to people.

My goal is to post a new dev diary every week, and post up playtest rules as I finish bashing together my rules revisions. After regrouping on combat, I think it makes the most sense to get the core rules (sans diplomacy, which is the next piece of the rules I'm not super happy with right now) pushed out in a playtestable state. All empires will be in a forever war state until diplomacy is possible, but it would be a good way of getting some eyes on things finally.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 7:37 am
by aelius
I like the direction your going in. Looking forward to seeing the new rules.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 4:16 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
Given my current rate of completion, I think the core rules (sans diplomacy) should be done by Memorial Day weekend. I am going over my revisions from the last few playtest versions to see what worked, what didn't, and what could be improved.

Expect the next dev diary to probably discuss construction rules (working on finalizing changes to those this week), plus some more discussion on combat.

I worked on troop combat this last week and some consolidation based on my own notes and BroAdso's feedback has led to a few changes that should make that flow better and remove some exceptions.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Sat May 25, 2019 5:57 am
by PaulB
Maybe you ought to mention the Patreon in a blog post or its own thread.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Mon May 27, 2019 11:24 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
Maybe once a new set of playtest rules are completed it might be worth pushing, but the fact is that only the die hards are left here and the Patreon is more to invest in new content and not a "product" in its own right, so it feels disingenuous to panhandle to the wider VBAM customer base.

Knowing that there are two people interested enough to help throw some dollars in has lit a fire under me to get more content out, though. I am trying to reach a sustainable level of posts/content per week, and getting some rules drafts out. We'll see how things go.

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 9:44 am
by mort2018confed
Sorry I haven't been here in a while, but I've been busy doing other things (notably doing a FT:PC supplement and re-releasing my old SAE supplements) so I haven't checked in here for a while...

So, with the post above regarding 2E, would it be fair to say that the supplementary documents aren't going to surface soon, and that if someone were to want to do a VBAM campaign in future it'd be best to stick to 1E? If so, is there any reason why the construction rules in 2E couldn't be ported to 1E (or the 1E exploration rules to 2E) to allow a solo exploration campaign some people used to run a lot of a few years ago...?

Just asking for a friend, is all...:D

(note: I know in theory it shouldn't be an issue, but I want to make sure there isn't anything that might cause issues with marrying the two systems together)

Re: Any life in the old girl?

Posted: Fri May 31, 2019 9:49 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
All of the planned 2E content will be rolled up into whatever the new version becomes. Which is looking to be more of a cleaned up 1E given that I effectively went back to 1E to create the development "fork" for this new set of rules.

All of the 2E content should be applicable to 1E, so I don't think you should have any problem there. I will have to work with Jay on converting WAP to the new rules once we are finished testing. There are some things that his rules assumed that probably are not safe assumptions anymore.

Another thing you could experiment with is to use an even further simplified ship design system where you multiple the construction cost of your ship by 2 and that is how many ability points (AP) you have to spend on DV, AS, AF, and special abilities. Then everything gets an AP cost.

CR is still kind of special because I don't think it should be directly purchasable using AP except for some rare exceptions for command ships. I've been giving my test ships CR = Construction Cost, and then adjusting it slightly from there if I feel it necessary on some designs.

EXAMPLE #1: I have a 8 EP Heavy Cruiser. I have 16 AP to spend on abilities. I give it DV 7, AS 7, AF 2. It has CR 8 based on its cost. I could modify that to be DV 8 and CR 7 if I wanted to.

For tech, I am balancing around 5 Tech Levels, with each one being about 12.5% (1/8) difference from the baseline. This is just enough to show evolutionary growth without breaking the rules too bad. 25% growth led to too much deviation between tech levels.

EXAMPLE #2: Our example CA from before has 16 AP at TL3 A TL1 CA would have 75% x 16 = 12 AP to spend, a TL2 CA would have 87.5% x 16 = 14 AP, etc.

The overall goal here is to simplify the rules to remove edge cases and strange interactions, and generally make the game easier to play without as many spreadsheets. I am still fighting against the urge to add complexity for its own sake, though.

If you run into any problems reconciling 1E to 2E post here and I'll get a response to you. My schedule will probably be okay again until January, and I'm trying to check the forums every couple of days to keep on top of things.