The next issue of Suspense and Decision will be Issue # 14 Anticipated Publication Date: September 2016



Saturday, April 12, 2014

Aliens By Mail: PBM Players take to the Stars

12:38 PM

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Over the span of the last few days, a number of different space aliens have taken up shop in the PlayByMail.Net forum. They aren't the first to do so, of course. Rather, they are merely the latest PBM players to do so.

While the destruction of site user Ixnay's fleet in a previous run of Far Horizons is never far from the front of my mind, it is refreshing to see PBM conflicts in space taking root in our forum, anew.

The Cluster Wars gang has long since moved to our forum, and as always, it is a true delight to read of the various forms of misfortune (often self-inflicted) that is visited upon the respective players of that game. Thus far, the Cluster Wars players seem to pose a bigger threat to themselves, than to any of their fellow players. I am inclined to believe that the ability to make mistakes, when issuing orders, is actually one of the benefits to playing PBM games.

Yes, it's irritating to do. Yes, it can completely frustrate your plans. But, what about how it boosts the morale of your enemies? When the shoe is on the other foot, don't you enjoy reading their respective tales of woe? Plus, when that woe is born somewhere out there, way on out in the furthermost reaches of deep space, it just seems to become all the more enjoyable to learn about. In space, no one may hear you scream - but, we can certainly hear you cry, it seems.

This latest batch of aliens fresh off the star ways and into our PlayByMail.Net living room (our forum) hails from the game of Takamo. Takamo Universe isn't ready to play, yet, so what Randy Ritnour and crew have done over in that neck of the PBM Woods is to fire up the original version of Takamo (yeah, the very same one that many of you former Takamo players knew all too well, back in the day). To my personal misfortune, I have managed to find my way into this game. Long may my enemies-to-come be cursed for taking delight in my early misfortunes in this game. it could be worse, though. I could be that poor soul whose every probe seems to be a gutter ball - ending up getting swallowed whole by a black hole, pardon the pun. But, from my perspective, his misfortune is to my good fortune. Hopefully, he won't take it personally, but even if he does, at the rate that he is going, he'll likely end up getting sucked into a black hole, himself. Mu-hahahahahahaha!

I didn't get the whole story, but apparently, one of these new-to-our-forum space aliens sacrificed his "crown jewels." Now, while I'm not sure if this is an accepted form of pre-game ritual for his species, I would like to go on record as saying that you really might want to think twice, before surrendering to his species in-game.

Not too long ago, I started posting some bits and pieces about my early experience in trying to come to terms with Phoenix:BSE, as a player new to that game. I'm still trying to figure out the essence of what that space game is, since it really isn't touted as a space combat game - even though space combat routinely occurs within the game, from what I have been able to discern, thus far, while browsing the Phoenix:BSE forum that KJC Games runs via its Nexus game engine thing-a-ma-bob.

I probably shouldn't even mention that I have already started tinkering with Galac-Tac, yet another space game with roots stretching waaaaayyyyy back into the heady, other-worldly heyday of PBM gaming. All that I need to do, now, is to join a game of Starweb (which is run by Flying Buffalo, Inc., of course), and the full extent of the size and depth of both space, itself, as well as the range of PBM space games still available for gamers to play in the current day and age, should strike me in the head like a hammer.

But, time runs so short for me, lately, that it's really hard to envision me continuing to join so many games, all at one time or in such close proximity to one another. So, Starweb will probably have to wait - for NOW!

But, my misfortune doesn't have to stop you.

The reason that I subject myself to so many space hazards, simultaneously, is that I do it for the readers of our PBM magazine, Suspense & Decision. Rest assured, 'O enlightened denizen of the Internet that dares to visit this site and to read this, that it isn't simply because I am a glutton for punishment, nor because I am simply trying to flanoozle my way into games, just to have fun amongst the stars. The story that I am going with, on this one, is that it is all for you - the many yous out there. Is yous even a word?

Anyone know? I could look it up, but that would require time, time that I simply don't have.

Did I mention that the game of the original version of Takamo that is running is free? FREE!! Man, I tell you - now THAT'S a good deal.

How do these various PBM space games compare to one another? Well, that will likely be the subject of a forthcoming article (or articles) in Suspense & Decision magazine. I can tell you this, though - sampling these games (Takamo, Phoenix:BSE, and Galac-Tac) makes me appreciate all the more the simplicity of my own PBM space game design (Starforce Battles), back in the day.

These three games each enjoy their own respective levels of depth and complexity. They also all have their own learning curves - none of which are to be sneezed at, if my own first-hand experience is any indication.

Even if you aren't sure if you want to join any of these games, feel free to join in (or just lurk and read) the discussions in our forum.

We could play that Event Horizon game that site user Ixnay is supposed to be designing - provided that we could pull him away from all of the PBM games that he is currently signed up for, long enough for him to do any actual designing and programming.

In closing, cast your eyes to the stars - and ponder on joining us there.

Also, have a PBM day!

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