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CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51


11 days ago
CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51
The Boldor Essays:
A. Introduction
1. Expectations of Seren, and what game he was actually designing.
2. Effects of a Reset
3. Reduced Scale
4. Extending the End-game
5. Higher Stakes
6. Volatile Markets
7. Trade Problems
8. Micromanagement Hell


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Boldor Galactic Inc, AKA the old StarCorp
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CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51


11 days ago
CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51
A. Introduction

I know this may not be the opinion of many of you, based on the increasingly critical feedback of recent changes; several players have left or taken a break (can’t blame them considering the immediate circumstances), and others are hanging on to their corporations, trying to survive in a completely changed market. I personally think for the (potential) future of BotG, the most recent changes were needed.

I believe Dr. Dread has fixed the game through this last update. I am not saying the game is actually fully playable at this point or that it is even close to a polished, finished product. There are still some very key issues that must be resolved and as highlighted by Cogs, there are several issues that are game-breaking currently. But this change alters things in a very fundamental way, which I believe could bring about much more interesting and dynamic gameplay (Again, dependent on a few crucial changes being implemented).

I plan to write a series of articles focusing on these changes and what the effect will be. Of course these are my own opinions and thoughts and may not interpret the situation entirely correctly. I would welcome counter points, or if there are other pros and cons to this change that I have not considered.

Many players have stated that Seren broke his game. I would offer a counter-argument: he has broken the game that we have known.

This is a new game.

We, as a community, must understand that Barons is now moving towards a completely different experience from what we are used to. We must unlearn and reshape some assumptions we have made, forgetting how it was “back then”, and instead focusing on the new and emergent gameplay that can come about from this. The following essays will be an attempt to highlight what we should expect the future to become for this platform.


--
Boldor Galactic Inc, AKA the old StarCorp
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CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51


10 days ago
CptCommanche
CptCommanche
Posts: 51
1: Expectations of Seren, The Game

To begin, we should discuss the developer and what I understand to be his vision for the game.

There has been, for several months, an increasingly critical attitude towards the developer of Barons of the Galaxy. This attitude is justified to some degree through a variety of shortcomings on his part; these shortcomings have left the community with questions and discontentment that is often left unaddressed by the developer. I will not discuss these at length, since many of you could create a more thorough and accurate list of these than myself.

A. Perhaps understanding the reality of the situation will help us gain a better perspective. To begin with, we must remember that Dr.Dread/Serendipity is a part-time, solo developer. He has a full time job outside of Barons, plus a family; I believe these should be the first focus of his time. Barons is not more important than family or his livelihood.

Second, he is not a professional developer. I have high expectations of full-time, seasoned developers. To my knowledge Seren has not developed any browser games before this. So he is learning as we go. An expectation of perfection is simply not rational or reasonable: relate this to the experience of starting a new job (or perhaps more accurately, a new career), where often many mistakes can be made until you learn the ins and outs of the new position.

This is not a great reason to handwave the issues (specifically lack of open communication and respect for the players), but it helps me to understand the situation, and set my expectations accordingly. If you would like better than this, perhaps go play a game that has a team of professional developers and designers who do this for a living.

B. As a solo developer, it is somewhat astonishing to me that we have a platform that works as well as it does. It is easy to talk big, as evidenced by a certain other project that has apparently failed almost as quickly as it began. It is much harder to follow through, and the fact Seren is still here and (slowly) implementing changes is actually something quite unique and deserves some recognition.

We can nitpick all day, and if this is your attitude, I challenge you to go try it yourself and come up with something half as good as Barons. Ideas are cheap, implementation is hard. Seren has actually made something, and while far from perfect, it works and is even fun sometimes.

Many have offered their services to help Seren, which he has repeatedly shot down. Though perhaps confusing on the outside, I can understand this from his perspective. As soon as you open up to other people, you are opening the potential for numerous problems. People might sound and act more confident in their skills than they really are; if they cause issues for the game, Seren will likely have to fix them. Getting others involved by default makes Seren a manager, who must guide and direct the others in their development. He surely doesn’t have time to do this. In addition, this is his project, and he is moving towards his vision for it. Opening up the code for others seems inherently risky, and I can understand why he is not opening it up to outside help.

C. Opening up to outside help has one other issue: it could steer the game in a direction that is even further than from what Seren intended from the beginning.

To understand this, we must go back to the beginning. Seren has communicated a few key ideas about how the game should be. Here are a few of these based on past comments, the front page of the site, as well as an interview from 2016 that I found on a website:

A. Barons of the Galaxy is a loosely cooperative strategy game.
B. Played online with thousands of players.
C. Game was meant for millions, not billions, of dollars.
D. Monoliths should be very rare, the pinnacle of achievement in the game.
E. Trading between corporations who specialize in different goods is often required.
F. Describes the game as having 3-10 HQ per city.

I would argue that none of these conditions were met before Seren implemented the recent changes. Not to say that the recent changes have magically fixed all this, but brings it much closer in line to what his original vision appeared to be.

The recent changes have either directly impacted these items, or lays the foundation for them to be possible in the future (with the possible exception of “thousands of players”). From a design standpoint, it is the thing that needed to be done to bring the game back in the direction of the original vision that Seren had intended.

Many players have bemoaned the fact that they can no longer run their own city effectively, or build huge star-spanning mega corporations. While both fun, I don’t think either of these things was meant to be possible, nor do they seem to be communicated as a game feature in the game description.

Here is a definition of Baron: “a man who possesses great power or influence in some field of activity
// ‘a cattle baron’”.

Examples of baron in a Sentence:
“A media baron who owns newspapers, television and radio stations, and even several cable networks”

The game isn’t called “Galactic Empires”. Any player “can” still be a baron in the game. Be the cattle Baron? No problem. If the game had thousands of players, there would be plenty enough volume to sell tons of cattle. Set all 12 points to cattle research, you can offer cattle at a very competitive price. Apply this to metals, and you can theoretically supply metals to scores of other players, as well as the high demand locations in the galaxy and make a pretty penny doing so (Though it would be a fraction of the amounts we were used to a couple weeks ago).

As a side note, imagine if player density was 3-10 HQ’s per city. Current numbers (Including a few inactive alts) are 59 players for 70 cities. What if at this same point we had 210-700 players occupying the same space? Now what if we restrict the playable area to 2-3 systems total with 70 cities? You can imagine how incredibly different this game would be (Now this requires the game to be attractive enough to have that number of players, which it is definitely not at this point).

I believe this is the type of game Seren has in mind, and the last 1.5 years have not been that. He is taking a bold and risky move to put his project back on track to what he first intended. If it works and the issues get ironed out, I think we will have a better game than the one we had hoped for.

Now let’s say, if it doesn’t work? The game dies out in the next few months and ends in disappointment for all. We are perilously close to this I believe, and unless a few issues are resolved, there won’t be anyone left to try out and test the new features. To be honest, that is why I am still here, to test the new environment, and see what has changed and what new issues arise.

Perhaps one day the game will become a fun and engaging platform again, and one that doesn’t kill its players through micro-management. I believe this is at least partially Seren’s dream and he is making the difficult changes that will allow that to happen.

The changes can still be disappointing or impossible to adjust to for some players. The game is now broken in several ways, and we can only hope that the issues are correctly identified and addressed appropriately. Others have been affected through the drastic changes made by Seren with no forewarning that they are coming (I.E. artificially cutting all demand levels by 50% instantaneously).

The latter situation is especially unfortunate. Seren gave a weeks’ notice for this last change, and I for one appreciate the better communication this time around. Let’s hope for more of the same going forward.

In the meantime, I hope we can adjust our expectations of our developer and what he is capable of, and better understand the game that this is striving to be. Doing these things will help us put the rest of this conversation into the proper context.


--
Boldor Galactic Inc, AKA the old StarCorp
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