INTRODUCTION TO THE STAR EMPIRES GAME SYSTEM:
Each star empires game has one or more active players, each of whom controls one power. A power is a generic civilization, which may include anything from just a few beings to an empire controlling many star systems, worlds, and cultures. Each game is intended to be a relatively long term experience, with individual players being added and eliminated over the course of the game. Although there are victory conditions, players are encouraged to think of the game system as more of a "virtual playground" for exploration and empire building than a winner/looser type competition.
HOW THE GAME WORKS:
All game calculations are made by a central computer. Each player has a player interface program, which is used to view the game situation and to issue orders to his units. Internet based communications routines allow the player interface to transfer data to and from the central game master computer.
The Star Empires game is turn based. Each turn, each player will download information for the game he is playing from the internet, then calculate any orders he will give the units he controls and any messages to be sent out to other powers, then send these orders in via the internet. The individual player orders for the game are then input into the game software, and the results of the turn are calculated.
THE TURN CYCLE:
Each time a player signs in to a Star Empires game, he will be required to provide his user name, game password, and game number. If the computer being used has a valid internet connection, the program will check the internet for any available data updates, and if the data on the web is more current than the data in the player's computer then the new data will be downloaded. If the player's computer has no internet connection, the player will still be able to view the game situation which existed at the last download. Next, there will be a slight delay while the data is loaded into the game software. The length of this delay will depend on how large and complicated the game being loaded is.
Once the game has been loaded, the player will have access to the game interface. He will be able to see only worlds and systems where he has units, and will always be able to see his power's data and his power's units. The interface is used to input orders to the power's worlds and units, as well as orders which apply to the whole power and messages to be sent to other powers. As the player inputs orders, the orders are stored in the data files on that player's computer. At any time the player's computer has an internet connection, he may transmit his orders to the website simply by selecting the green "Submit Orders" button on the "Power Home Page" window. Transmitted orders will overwrite any previously submitted orders, unless the next turn has already been calculated. If a player does not have an internet connection, he may simply leave the orders stored in his computer for transmission at a later time.
When all players have submitted their orders, the game calculations for the next turn will be run. Games will also have a time deadline for order submission. If a player has not submitted his turn orders by the time of the order deadline, then the turn will be calculated anyway, and the player's units will use default orders. At the time the next game turn is calculated, the deadline will be advanced by the number of days previously announced for that game's deadlines (from 2 to 28 days). Thus, even a two week game can have several turns in a week if all players submit their orders early. If, however, any player does not submit his orders, that same two week game will go for the entire two weeks between turns.
NAVIGATING AROUND THE PLAYER INTERFACE:
The first window which will be displayed after signing
in to a game is the "Power Home Page" window. A player may always
return to this window by selecting the "View Power" (labeled "Go
to Power Home Page" in some windows) button on the other display windows.
If the power has any allies, they can be viewed by clicking on the collapsed
box labeled "Allied Powers."
The other major windows are for individual systems, individual worlds, individual ships, and individual armies. These other windows can be accessed in several different ways.
If the power has a home world, then there will be a picture of the home world on the "Power Home Page" window. Clicking on this picture will display the window for that world.
From an individual world window, the window for the system in which that world is located may be accessed by clicking on the "View System" button. Clicking on a picture of a ship will pull up the window for that ship (If there is more than one ship orbiting a specific world, an addtional label will note how many ships are present. Clicking on this label will pull up a listing of all ships orbiting that world.). Clicking on a picture of an army will pull up the window for that army (If there is more than one army on a specific world, an addtional label will note how many armies are present. Clicking on this label will pull up a listing of all armies on that world.). Clicking the "Mining Report" button will pull up a report showing details about resource mining on that world (the mining report button will not show if you do not control the world). If renaming the world is permitted, a button labeled "Change World Name" will appear above the mining report button. If a xeno-diplomatic report is available for the world, a small label will appear below the mining report button. If you are permitted to change the build orders for the world, there will be a button labeled "Change Build Orders" near the center of the world window. If it is possible to transfer control of the world to one of your allies, a button labeled "Transfer Control of This World to an Ally" will appear just above the army display area. Other worlds controlled by the power may be viewed by using the "Next World" or "Previous World" buttons.
From an individual system window, the window for a world within that system can be accessed by clicking on the picture of the world. Clicking on a link to another system will pull up the window for that system. Clicking on a picture of a ship will pull up the window for that ship (If there is more than one ship at a specific location, an addtional label will note how many ships are present. Clicking on this label will pull up a listing of all ships at that location.).
Squadrons are groupings of ships specifically created to make issuing orders to ships easier. Squadrons have no effect on the movement, combat or transport capability of ships, and are not even visible to other powers. If a power has any active squadrons, from the individual squadron window, the window for the system in shich the squadron is located can be accessed by selecting the "View System" button. If the squadron is orbiting a world, the window for the world can be accessed by selecting the "View World" button. A name for the squadron may be selected or changed with the "Rename Squadron" button. If there are any ships controlled by the same power which are not attached to the squadron but are at the same location as the squadron, then a "Select Additional Ships(s)" button allows additional ships to be selected for attachment to the squadron. Individual ships may be removed from the squadron by selecting the red X to the left of the ship listing.
From an individual ship window, the window for the system in which the ship is located can be accessed by selecting the "View System" button. If the ship is orbiting a world, the window for the world can be accessed by selecting the "View World" button. If the ship is attached to a squadron, a "View Squadron" allows that squadron to be displayed, but if the ship is not attached to a squadron, a "Join Squadron" button is displayed instead. Other ships controlled by the power may be viewed by using the "Next Ship," "Previous Ship," "Next Same Location," or "Prev Same Location" buttons.
From an individual army window, the window for the system in which the army is located can be accessed by selecting the "View System" button. The window for the world on which the army is located can be accessed by selecting the View World" button (If the army happens to be loaded onboard a ship, the world and system buttons will not appear). If the army is located on a world where there are also multiple armies belonging to the same power, a "Worldwide Army Orders" button allows a player to issue the same orders to ALL controlled armies on that world (caution must be exercised when using this button). Other armies controlled by the power may be viewed by using the "Next Army," "Previous Army," "Next Same Location," or "Prev Same Location" buttons.
There is a menu bar across the top of all of the major
"File" allows a player to exit the player interface from any window. On the main power window, the data files may be downloaded from the net, and special scenario rules may be reviewed from this menu item.
"Find" allows a player to find an individual system (if the system is visible to that power), world (if the world is visible to that power), ship (if it is controlled by that power), squadron (if any are active), or army (if it is controlled by that power).
"View" allows a player to view lists of the top five powers in terms of victory points, technology, treasury points, controlled population, or villainy. The "Other Power Colors" item allows changing the display colors of other powers (this change is temporary, and will be lost on the next turn update).
"Return" allows a player to view the world, ship, squadron or army which was most recently displayed.
"Reports" allows a player to view the "Army Report" showing all armies belonging to the power, the "Fleet Report" showing all ships belonging to the power, the "Industrial Report" giving general details about industrial production of all controlled worlds, the "Trade Report" giving details about any trading the power is participating in, "Planetary Defenses" giving general details about planetary defenses of all controlled worlds, "Visible Systems" showing some details of all systems visible to that power, or "Visible Worlds" showing general details about planetary defenses of all worlds visible to that power. Clicking on a display line in any report screen will take the view to the relevent item. The "Turn Events" item allows a player to view special events which have affected his power in the last turn.
"Information" allows a player to view the game rules, a glossary, and other notes.
"About" allows a player to view the current version of the player interface.
The orders a player may issue are of five types: orders which affect the entire power (including messages to other powers), orders which affect a world, orders for ships, orders for squadrons of ships, and orders for armies. Each of these types of orders will be explained below.
Power orders: All of these orders are accessed on the
"Power Home Page" window.
"Choose Home World" is an order which is only visible if the power does not have a home world. If the power does not have a home world, selecting this button will allow a home world to be chosen.
"Change Colors" allows the player to change the colors used to denote the units of that power. Changing the colors of a power's units has no effect on game play other than to change the way the display looks.
"Research Orders" allows the player to change the type of technological research being conducted by that power. A power may conduct general research, which is the least expensive option, and which has a greater chance of success, but which may result in a technological advance of no immediate use to the power. Or the power may research a specific technology, which is more expensive and slightly less likely to be successful, but if successful will always increase the desired technology.
"Public Works Orders" allows the player to change the number of treasury points spent on public works. If the population is made unhappy by the currently ordered expenditure, this button will be red, if they will be made very happy, this button will be green, and otherwise the button will be yellow.
"Alliance Orders" allows the player to order an alliance to be formed between his power and another power with which his power is in contact. Only one alliance order may be issued each turn. Clicking the box above the "Alliance Orders" button will show all powers with which the displayed power is allied.
"Diplomatic Messages" allows the player to view messages received from other powers, review messages to be sent to other powers, and send new messages to powers with which his power is in contact. One message may be sent per turn to each other power a power is in contact with.
"Transfer Treasury" allows the player to send treasury points to another power with which his power is in contact. Only one treasury transfer order may be issued each turn.
"Transfer Technology" allows the player to send technology to another power with which his power is in contact. Only one technology transfer order may be issued each turn.
World orders: These orders are accessed on the individual
world window. A player may only issue orders for a world which he controls.
"Change World Name" allows the player to change the name of the world.
"Change Build Orders" pulls up a menu of possible build orders. Some orders may not be available on that world - such orders will be grayed out. Note that if a world orders "Refit Ship," then there must be a ship in orbit at that world which also has refit orders, otherwise no refit takes place.
"Transfer Technology to This World" allows the player to increase the technology of a world if the controlling power has a higher tech level than the world. Only one tech transfer order may be issued per world per turn.
"Transfer Control of This World to an Ally" allows the player to transfer control of the world to an allied power. This transfer can be made only if the ally has armies or civilians on the world in question.
Ship orders: These orders are accessed on the individual
ship window by selecting the "Change Ship Orders" button. A player
may only issue orders for a ship which he controls. The orders which may be
issued to warships are slightly different than the orders which may be issued
to transport ships.
If a player issues no orders to a specific ship, then the default orders for that ship are "Return fire."
If a player issues fire orders to a ship, then a list of possible targets will be displayed, and a target for that ship must be chosen (no target list will be displayed if the target is industry).
If a ship is ordered to "Refit," then the world must have build orders of refit as well or no refit takes place.
If a ship is ordered to "Demobilize," then the ship will be scrapped and its crew will be changed to civilians.
If a ship is ordered to "Transfer control," then a listing of possible recipients for the ship will be listed (see rules for what happens when the control of a ship is transferred).
If a ship is ordered to "Move," to "Move and jump," or to "Go To System," then a list of possible destinations will be displayed, and a destination must be chosen.
Only a starship may be ordered to "Jump," and this order may only be chosen only if the starship is at a jump point.
Only transport ships may be ordered "Assign Sched Rt.," which pulls up a menu allowing the ship to be assigned to a scheduled route. This menu may be used to create a new scheduled route if no current route fits the desired routing.
Only transport ships may be issued loading orders. If a ship is ordered to "Unload," then its cargo is simply unloaded at the current world. If a ship is ordered to load any type of cargo, and the ship is currently loaded, then the ship will be unloaded first, and then will load the new cargo. If ordered to load an army or civilians, then a list of possible units to be loaded will be displayed, and a cargo must be chosen. If a ship is ordered to load an army, then that army must also be ordered to "Board ship," or no loading will take place.
Squadron orders: These orders are accessed directly from the squadron window, and are very similar to the individual ship orders. Note that ships will follow the squadron orders as best they can, but if the squadron is given orders with which a particular ship cannot comply, that ship may not follow the orders exactly (for instance, a transport ship belonging to a squadron which has been issued fire orders will not fire, while a warship belonging to a squadron which has been issued loading orders will not load anything). Changing squadron orders will instantly change the orders of all ships CURRENTLY attached to the squadron, but the orders of individual ships may be changed at any time.
Army orders: These orders are accessed on the individual
army window by selecting the "Change Army Orders" button. A player
may only issue orders for an army which he controls.
If a player issues no orders to a specific army, then the default orders for that army are "Return fire."
If a player issues fire orders to an army, then a list of possible targets will be displayed, and a target for that army must be chosen (no target list will be displayed if the target is industry).
If an army is ordered to "Board ship," then a ship must also be ordered to load that army, or no boarding takes place.
If an army is ordered to demobilize, then that army will simply be changed into one civilian point.
If a power issues worldwide army orders, these worldwide orders affect the armies on the world in much the same way as squadron orders affect the ships in a squadron.
Systems, worlds, ships, squadrons, armies, and scheduled routes can be named in this game. Although names have no effect on the actual game mechanics, they do make it much easier for players to keep track of which units are doing what. For this reason, it is recommended that players name their units. Systems and worlds must be named, and if the players do not designate names, the game master may. Most items may only be named by their discoverers or their builders. Worlds and systems may be named by the first power which discovers them (moving into a system, or orbiting a world). Ships and armies can be named by their building power the first time they are viewed. Scheduled routes are named as part of constructing the route. The only items which can be routinely renamed are worlds and squadrons. The power which controls a world or a squadron may rename that world or squadron if he wishes. Although it is unlikely to be a common problem, only 50 new names may be supplied by an individual player in a single turn (any new names in excess of 50 a which player attempts to designate in a single turn will be ignored).
SAVING MESSAGES AND EVENTS:
At times, players may wish to save diplomatic messages for future reference. The method outlined here may be used to save not only diplomatic messages, but also turn events or even personal notes. To begin, start from your Windows desktop before signing in to the game. Right click on your desktop, then click 'New,' then 'Text Document.' Name your new text document something so you will remember what it is, then double click on it to open the document. You may type notes to yourself here, and when ready to begin your game, simply click the minimize ('_') button in the upper right corner. Next, sign in to your game normally. At any point you wish to write yourself a note, just click on your document in the program bar (along the bottom of your screen unless you have moved it), and type your note. When you are finished, minimize the document again. If you wish to save a message or turn events, highlight the text you wish to save (left click and drag over the text to highlight it), then press ctrl and insert at the same time to save this text in the Windows clipboard. Now open up your document, right click where you wish to add the saved text, and click on 'Paste.' When you are finished with your text document, select 'File,' then 'Save' from the menu bar in the upper left corner. You may now close your document, and it will be ready to use again the next time you sign in to the StarEmpires game. In future turns, simply open your text document before signing in to the game, and it will be ready to use as outlined above.