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Topics - Admiral T-Wayne

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Any type of interaction between two parties is governed by a contract, either formal or tacit (understood without needing to be stated).  In the case of SFC, the interaction between BFG and its gaming community is governed by a simple social contract:
  • BFG provides and maintains a game that players enjoy playing.
  • Players provide BFG with sufficient revenue to profitably maintain the game.
If either end of this contract is broken, then SFC (and, ultimately, BFG) fails.

I pose the following questions to the player community and to BFG, because their input on this point, particularly the revenue side of the contract, is important:
  • In your opinion, is the contract being fulfilled, or is it being broken?
  • If it is being broken, how is it being broken?
  • If it is being broken, what are your suggestions for re-establishing the contract?

I realize that the conversation around these questions could be a bit sensitive.  However, we all -- players and BFG -- have a LOT invested in this game.  We BOTH want SFC to succeed -- players, so we can continue having fun, BFG, so they as a company and as employees can keep their lights on.  In order for the contract to be fulfilled and both parties win, we need to be willing to work with each other and address whatever issues might be threatening this game's vitality.

Can we talk and partner, so that a satisfactory result is achieved for both parties?

For the past several weeks, the larger players in SFCO have noticed that the larger NPCs display with a "floor" color level (the color level varies by player, naturally!) that does not vary as the size of the larger NPCs varies.  Current case in point:  I am looking at two NPCs in my galaxy page view.  Both are light green, with an RGB value of 344.  One target yields 85M DSPs and has 29M Missile Launchers, with other defenses to match.  The other NPC yields 42M DSPs and has 14.6 Missile Launchers, with other defenses to match.  Clearly, the first NPC is about twice as large as the second.  But, both display to me identically (light green, with an RGB value of 344).  My understanding is that NPC colors should be differentiated based upon the RSPs level that is assigned to the targets.  Given that one NPC is twice the size of the other, they should not be assigned the same RSPs, thus they should not display with the same color.

Further, this color level increases (becomes greener) for a given player on a daily basis, as his/her RSP level rises.  Case in point:  I first noticed this behavior a number of weeks ago, when suddenly there were no "red" NPCs and the "floor" color code for me was in the 280's.  This "floor" color code has migrated upwards to 344, and it moves up a few points each day.  The implication is that the RSPs value that is assigned to the largest NPCs is not changing as the NPCs grow.  So, as a player grows, the largest NPCs, with this fixed-in-place RSPs value, progressively appear to be greener and greener.  As time goes on, all NPCs will appear to be bright green (RGB = 510) to the very large players.

Conclusion:  There is some maximum RSPs value that is assigned to any NPC in SFCO, thereby resulting in undifferentiated coloration for the largest NPCs and creeping migration of this "floor" color toward bright green.  This is baaaaad, for the reason I describe below.

Impact:  larger players are progressively losing the ability to differentiate NPCs based on Galaxy Page color.  As time goes on, there will be no differentiation.  Once this occurs, we will not be able to filter our probing decisions based on target color.  Scanning will become an increasingly onerous activity.  Enjoyment with the game will decrease, less fleets will fly, less hydro will be spent, less trips to the Merchant will be made, BFG revenues will decrease.

The standard answer from BFG regarding NPCs is along the line of, "nothing has been changed".  That might be the case.  HOWEVER, I think that it is worthwhile to check the code that controls how colors are assigned to NPCs, to determine if it has been broken (applies a ceiling RSPs value to very large NPCs) since "day one", and this breakage is only now becoming manifest as NPCs (and players) have reached a certain size in SFCO. 

We really, truly need to have NPC differentiation-by-color, even for the largest NPCs.  I hope that BFG will consider this issue to be sufficiently significant to justify some exploration on their part.

Original Universe / Some excitement at the top of the Uni1 Leaderboard
« on: December 09, 2013, 04:35:57 AM »
Greetings, all,

In case you haven't been watching the Leaderboard lately, Bruce Mays has made a big push to get to No. 2 and mount a reasonably serious challenge for the No. 1 slot.  It's been entertaining to see the ebb and increase of the gap been this new challenger and the reigning No. 1, lllaubacher.  Over the past few weeks, Bruce has closed the gap from being around 2.5B points behind to now being slightly above 1B behind.  He's running his assault like the race is a sprint, rather than a marathon.  Will he have enough speed to catch llaubacher, and will he then have enough stamina to hold on to No. 1?  Only time will tell!

Battle Reports / Not posting coordinates is an obsolete rule
« on: November 10, 2013, 09:18:55 AM »
Greetings, all,

It seems to me that the proscription against posting coordinates is antiquated and obsolete.  Given the name of any player and planet or moon that is involved in the contest, it is trivial to use Matt's Open Parser to find exactly where the combat occurred.

I would move that the coords-posting proscription be eliminated.  If someone wants to keep coordinates hidden, that's fine.  But, doing so should be optional, given that doing so has little to no ability to obfuscate where the combat occurred.

Original Universe / Congrats to llaubacher of Doom Beavers
« on: August 21, 2013, 05:17:16 AM »
Back on May 6, Space Cat wrote:

In SFCO, the #1 player of the #1 Alliance is the FIRST person to reach 1 BILLION points...

Here we are, less than 4 months later, and we can write:

In SFCO, we have both a new No. 1 player and the FIRST person to reach 3 BILLION points...  with both happening on the same day!

Whew -- in 107 days, llaubacher gained almost exactly 2.1 billiion points.  That is averaging almost 20M points per day.  Not too bad :-)

DSPs last forever, but my gut tells me that llaubacher's key to success is having one smokin' fleet that can drag in more DSPs that anyone else.  He has 255M more RSPs than does the No. 2 in that category, Bruce Mays -- 711M vs. 455M.  I bet he hasn't been sticking all those RSPs into ground defenses!

Matt posted a few days ago, in some forgotten thread, that a new battle algorithm (I assume a new large battle algorithm) was being installed into some of the unis.  I assume that the old LBA was being ripped out of X2 and Conquest and it was being replaced with an improvement.

Matt, has the new LBA been installed yet?

If so, guys and gals in the impacted unis, can you tell a difference?

The current version of the script (Version 1.2.4) will add an NPCs rank next to each NPC on a Galaxy page.  I asked The Man what the ranks meant.  Here is what he wrote:

"The RSP rank is just based on the color of the NPC itself, so the number is relative to the player looking at it. I heard a few complaints about the quantity of useless NPCs since the rank restrictions were lifted, so I used an old algorithm I had to make it easier to tell which are probably worth your time to probe. The lower the number, the more worthwhile the npc is/was.

Technically speaking, it uses the RGB value of the npc name. If the color is on the red spectrum, the number will be between 1 (very red) and 255 (white-red). If the color is on the green spectrum, the number will be between 256 (white-green) and 510 (very green).

I thought about adding something that filters out the NPCs above a certain threshold (at least from the count at the top) but decided to wait until I heard if it was desired."

And, for those of you who haven't used the eljercode scripts before, you can find them at

I've Skyped with some other large players today, and we all agree that there has been a sudden decrease in the profitability of NPCs that are available, at least for the Large Floating Colonies, Floating Colonies, Colossi,and Large Abandoned Leviathans.  There seems to have been a very sudden shift in the ship/defense ratios.  As a result, many more ships are needed to defeat a target that returns a given level of resources.  More hydro has to be spent and more ships have to be rebuilt in order to bring back home a given amount of gross resources.  Net profitability is falling sharply.

Here are a few examples from my own play:

May 29:  1.37M DSPs target required 300K Proms for a 5-round win;
May 29:  981K DSPs target required 110K Proms and 10K Ares for a 5-round win;
May 31:  996K DSPs target required 240K Proms for a 5-round win (more than twice the Proms needed for a similar target from two days earlier);
May 31:  1.67M DSPs target required 520K Proms and 55K Ares for a 5-round win (over 1.5x as many Proms as for a slightly smaller target from two days earlier);
June 1:   670K DSPs target required 350K Proms for a 5-round win (more Proms than was needed 2 days ago for a target that was twice the size);
June 1:   312K DSPs target required 150K Proms for a 5-round win 9 (more Proms than was needed for a target 3x the size, 2 days earlier).

The concern here is that the Proms/gained DSPs ratio is growing substantially (that also means the Hydro/gained res ratio is growing substantially).  If we flip that expression around, it would appear that the profitability of the attacks has decreased substantially, recently.

Is anyone else seeing this?

So, what's the downside of less lucrative targets?  For me, personally, it becomes harder to justify attempting a given attack, because the upside of gaining the resources is becoming dominated by the downside of possibly getting nothing back for the hydro needed to make the attack.  If I can't gain enough res to replace my hydro and also grow my civilization a bit, there is less incentive to send out the fleet.  I don't want to play SFC simply as a zero-sum game, where I spend my hours to get enough res to replace my hydro.  I want to grow a bit, too.

Any other opinions here?

Feature Suggestions / The Hera class transport ship
« on: March 12, 2013, 04:55:25 AM »
The Hera is a very large, globular transport vehicle that is based upon the same technologies used to create the Zeus.  Its notable features are its incredible fuel efficiency -- and its very slow speed!

Description: The Hera was developed to play the role of very-high-capacity, long-distance cargo hauler.
Construction Cost: 250,000 Ore , 200,000 Crystal, 50,000 Hydrogen -- 5% of the construction cost of the Zeus.

Hull Integrity: 45000
Weapon Power: 25
Shield Power: 500

Rapid-fire For + Values [Good Against]: Charon x5, Hermes x5, Solar Satellite x5
Rapid-fire Against + Values [Bad Against]: Thanatos x5, Zeus x12

Cargo Capacity: 625,000
Fuel Consumption[In Hydrogen]: 1
Base Speed: 100
Engine Type [Jet, Pulse, Warp]: Warp

Building and Research Requirements: Same as Zeus, less Laser and Weapons techs, + Expedition Tech 8


Original Universe / How do you attack LFCs?
« on: January 22, 2013, 11:53:03 PM »
I thought it would be useful to start a thread that addresses how we attack the larger NPCs in Uni1 -- to share some of our philosophies and general approaches.  Things that might be interesting to discuss here include:
-  Your general approach for determining how many ships to send,and what mix to use
-  How you alter your mix as the range-to-target increases
-  What (if any) rules do you follow regarding how far to look for targets
-  How much hydro do you keep on your planets.

My first real note on this thread is coming up, next (unless someone beats me to it!).

Feature Suggestions / Augmenting the War capabilities of SFC
« on: January 20, 2013, 06:15:57 PM »
War is an interesting aspect of the game.  Given the current focus on NPCs, wars often are the primary mean by which players perform focused hunting on fellow players.  Given that SFC has a major PvP component, wars are to be encouraged.  Game changes that can lead to more wars are desirable.

Problem:  Wars are between Alliances.  All members in an Alliance do not necessarily desire to participate in a war, or they are not prepared (due to game experience, whatever) to participate in a war.

Current approaches to the problem:  Because of mixed desire among Alliance members to go to war, some Alliances refrain from engaging in this activity.  In other cases, players are "culled" by either going into "d" mode or by leaving (or being expelled from) the Alliance.  In a third approach, the Alliance splits into a "war alliance" and a "non-war alliance".  The first solution is not adequate, because it reduces the numbers of wars that are fought.  The culling approach is not adequate, because it either slows the rate of advancement in the game of the "d" mode players, or it creates estrangement between the warring alliance and the members who are removed from the Alliance.  The third approach is not adequate, because it reduces communication between players who once were part of a single unit (the original Alliance).  SFC is a social game, and communication should be encouraged.

Proposed solution:  Enhance the war mechanism so that, at the beginning of a war, an Alliance lead can input a list of players who are to be either included as war participants or excluded from being war participants (also provide an "include all" push-button option).  If a player is not included, they do not show up as "red" on the Galaxy page when their planets are viewed by the opposing players.  Further, war points are not gained from attacks against them, nor are war points gained if such players participate in attacks or in Group Defends.  During the course of the war, an Alliance leader can **add** additional participants, but an Alliance leader cannot **remove** existing participants.

-  Alliance members who are not interested in wars can more easily opt out of same, continue to grow as an active player (not being in "d" mode), and continue to communicate with fellow Alliance members via standard game mechanisms, such as alliance message boards.
-  Alliances are able to avoid the artifice of creating "war" and "non-war" sub-Alliances, thereby maintaining continuity of leadership and communication
-  More wars will occur, resulting in an increase in skill level of the warring participants
-  More wars will occur, resulting in increased use of hydro, planet hopping, etc., thereby generating additional revenues for BFG.

General Starfleet Discussion / What are the trading limits for Hephs?
« on: January 09, 2013, 02:14:29 AM »
OK, yeah, I should just load my Heph up with res and see, but I don't have 1B of anything at any one location, so I can't do a good test...

I understand that a deployed Heph can carry an "infinite" amount of res, and that you can use it to trade in Billion-unit lots.  Does this mean:

(A)  I can trade 2.5B ore for 1B hydro; or

(B)  I can trade 1B ore for 250M hydro?

Original Universe / Was this the largest battle in SFCO history?
« on: December 30, 2012, 11:42:59 PM »
As previously reported by lazoputz, back on December 25, four of the Top 10 players in SFCO -- lazoputz, *SHINZON*, Psiosa, and uss nightmare -- Group Attacked the main bastion for Fair Play, one of the highest-RSP players in SFCO, after Fair Play had gone inactive.  Given that the participants have chosen to not post the Battle Report, I won't do so, either, but I will list the ships and number of ships that were involved:

Fair Play (defense):
Hermes:  524,787
Artemis:  304,885
Atlas:  5956
Apollo; 175
Zagreus:  2457
Charon:  324
Hercules:  13,358
Dios:  7000
Gaia:  23
Posis:  21,119
Carms:  3000
Athena:  22,620
Ares:  2414
Hades:  36,335
Proms:  31,557
Zeus: 27
Heph: 1

Total of 92,926 capital ships, 861,515 fodder ships, 21,119 cruisers

Defense units:  34,170 Missile Launchers, 139,921 Laser Cannons, 5164 Pulse Cannons, 1410 Particle Cannons, 5002 Gauss Cannons, 5000 Plasma Cannons, Decoy and Large Decoy

The attacking forces included the following:
Artemis:  1,808,361
Apollo:  163,107
Posi:  62,426
Athena:  201,576
Ares:  103,615
Hades:  121,644
Proms:  297,135

Total of 723,970 capital ships, 62,426 cruisers, 1,971,468 fodder ships

Total ships involved:  3,733,424

Is anyone aware of a battle of similar or larger magnitude, in SFCO?

Problem:  The larger NPCs (LFCs and FCs) seldom are attacked twice, because hits beyond the first have little to no profit.  As a result, "stripped" larger NPCs pollute the universes with essentially useless targets, impeding the spawning of targets that have value.  This is particularly frustrating to larger players, who have relatively few NPC targets, anyway.

Solution approach:  Change the way that the expiration time of an NPC is calculated.
Let us say that, upon spawning, an NPC's lifetime is such that it is set to expire at time "X".
Upon suffering the first attack that removes more than 20% of the NPC's RSP value, set the NPC expiration time to the lesser of "X" and "hit time + 8 hours".

Rationale:  with this approach, NPCs that are damaged have enough remaining lifetime to permit someone who wishes to attack them again, to do so.  However, in many cases the demise of the NPC will be accelerated to a degree, clearing the way for more timely re-spawning of fresh targets.
The "20% damage" threshold is put in place to ensure that some demented soul can't accelerate an NPC's expiration by, say, attacking it with a single Prom.

Benefits:  NPCs with limited value will be cycled out of the Universe more quickly, enabling fresh NPCs to spawn. This will enable players to be more active in their play.  The benefit to BFG is that more missions will be run, more hydro will be consumed as fuel and to rebuild ships, and more trips to the Merchant will be performed. BFG's profits will be increased.

Bug Reports / 0-tech NPCs are seen only with "monster" NPCs
« on: December 14, 2012, 02:05:54 PM »
There appears some dependency in the code between size of created NPC and assigning those NPCs 0-level techs.  I have seen two monster ULFCs (a rare occurrence, themselves) with 0-level AWS, while I have never seen any other NPC (which occur much more frequently than monster ULFCs) with 0-level NPCs.  If the process for assigning AWS is driven by a random process, we should see 0-level AWS assigned to more normal targets more frequently than we see these being assigned to monster targets.

Matt, I assume that your application is able to build records that report which AWS levels are assigned to NPCs.  If not, I would suggest that you add such logging :-).  I think that it would be useful to examine those records to determine whether it appears that 0-level AWS are being assigned in a skewed manner.

BTW, here is what I mean by a "monster" ULFC, in Uni1.  This was spawned off a top-5-RSPs player in that universe:

Encounter Large Floating Colony [X:XXX:X] has:
* ore: 7,789,494 
* crystal: 15,544,400 
* hydrogen: 12,109,600 
Total plunder: 17,721,747 (142 carm / 709 herc / 3545 atlas)
DSP: 1,756,817 (25246 Dios / 100984 Zags)

* Artemis Class Fighter: 52,448
* Atlas Class Cargo: 49,630
* Apollo Class Fighter: 26,679
* Zagreus Class Recycler: 24,366
* Hercules Class Cargo: 18,257
* Dionysus Class Recycler: 13,572
* Poseidon Class Cruiser: 4,095
* Carmanor Class Cargo: 2,259
* Athena Class Battleship: 1,148
* Ares Class Bomber: 998
* Hades Class Battleship: 247
* Prometheus Class Destroyer: 581

* Missile Battery: 130,220
* Laser Cannon: 110,523
* Pulse Cannon: 27,666
* Particle Cannon: 28,289
* Gauss Cannon: 6,041
* Plasma Cannon: 2,368
* Decoy: 1
* Large Decoy: 1

* Armor Tech: 0
* Weapons Tech: 0
* Shield Tech: 0

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