Pride And Falls: Neptune’s Pride Diary Part 1

By RPS on March 10th, 2010 at 1:09 pm.


Neptune’s Pride is an in-development slow-form browser-based strategy game from Iron Helmet games, currently in open beta. You can play it now. Over a period of a month or so, we did just that, with intriguing consequences. We’ve joined forces with PC Gamer (who are also posting this diary here) to bring you the full story of what happened…


Neptune’s Pride is, in its current state, a simple space-strategy game. The aim is to conquer just 50% of the stars in the galaxy, rounded up. Each planet can be upgraded in economics, industry or science. Economics gives you money to spend on more stuff. Each level of Industry will churn out a number of space-ships every day. The total amount of science in the empire determines how quickly you can improve your ships in one of four categories – weapons, ship-speed, scanner range and jump-range. In other words, simple space-conquering. The twist is the aforementioned “slow-form”. For ships to go from one place to another can take literally hours. The idea being, you drop in a couple of times a day, give orders, and go and do something else.

The something else rapidly becomes “desperate scheming”.

It’s in Beta now. It’s developing constantly. It has changed considerably since this game was played.

The combatants were…
Phill Cameron aka Poisoned Sponge, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Tom Francis, PC Gamer
Kieron Gillen, Rock Paper Shotgun
Hentzau, FREELANCE SOLDIER OF FORTUNE.
Chris Pelling, Inventive Dingo Games
Quinns, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Jim Rossignol, Rock Paper Shotgun
Graham Smith, PC Gamer

And here’s a rough map of where they were at the start of this war. Worth noting, all maps – with one exception have been re-created after the fact and should only be used for vague illustrative value.

Kieron: I didn’t have a clue. While I’d quickly rounded up people to join a game, I didn’t have time to actually read any of the rules. The game started on Friday, I believe, so the opening weekend was me flying without anything other than my base strategy skills to guide me. Economy? Sounds useful. Industry appears to make ships… yes, some of that. He who has the best science tends to win, so I’ll take that. And what to research? Weapons, as I don’t really get what the other stuff is for, and bigger guns are generally SEXY. All the sexy comes from the barrel of the gun, to quote Communism’s Mr Sexy Mao.

And what to do with my ships? Well, just send them off. As quickly as possible, claiming as many planets as possible. I mean, territory grab is paramount in all these sort of games.

These are all fair assumptions. They pretty much immediately screw me.

Chris Pelling/Crispy: My initial thought processes were much the same as Kieron’s, but with less care and attention and more “ooh shiny shiny clicky clicky!”

I, too, sent out a wave of spaceships to do some early game land-grabbing. Unfortunately, I was hampered by two immediate problems.

In Civilization II, there is a unit called the trireme. It’s the weakest ship, the first one in the tech tree. While its stats are truly pathetic, its main weakness is that it must end turn adjacent to land, or risk sinking. Since it can only move 3 spaces per turn, this severely limits its range. It’s often nigh-impossible to leave your starting continent until your historical boffins figure out the whole “sailing” thing properly.

Although it’s been years since I played Civ II, the Trireme Legacy haunts me still. You see, one of the technology categories Neptune takes such pride in is jump range, which governs the maximum distance that can be crossed by a single hyperspace jump. Jumps can only be made directly between star systems – and immediately Galactic North of my starting area was a vast empty gulf, containing no star systems. A gulf I therefore couldn’t cross without first upgrading my jump range.

I set my space boffins to work immediately, but in the meantime, there might as well have been a gigantic Space Wall blocking me off from expanding towards Graham. Expansion to the “east” and “south” was more open, geographically speaking, but would quickly cause me to run into Sponge’s and Kieron’s territory, respectively. Expansion to the west was possible, but not without first veering southwards, leaving me with a large front to defend against Kieron. Yes folks, starting in the middle sucks!

This is not to say that the starting layout screwed me entirely. I could still have done okay had I not forgotten to log in for a while. Forget playing to win; I wasn’t even playing! When I finally awoke, the entire galaxy had already been colonised. Although I now had the tech to penetrate the Space Wall, I couldn’t actually do it without declaring war on Graham, who had taken advantage of my limited range/intelligence/attention span to annex everything to the Space Wall’s north. Oops.

So I focused on improving the star systems I had managed to grab, established alliances with my northern and eastern neighbours (Graham and Sponge), and engaged in some minor skirmishes with Kieron, who I figured would be an easier target than the others since he was surrounded by other players on all sides. Clearly, I am a tactical space genius.

Sponge/Phill: I’d like to say how I’m one of those simple and elegant RTS players, but I’m not. I’d love to be one of those grand chess masters who can think a dozen moves ahead, predicting all my opponents moves before even they can think of them. Problem is, I’m not much one for strategy games in general. I can just about handle the tactics of organising a squad to flank a position or set up a pincer movement, but the more complicated nuance required to handle an entire empire of galactic proportions is mostly beyond me. So I’ve got a very simple concept when dealing with this sort of game; I stick as many grimy fingers in as many delicious pies as I possibly can. And in Neptune’s Pride, pies are people. 
So, first things first; I survey the map. I’m surrounded by four different people, at least three of which I know enjoy, and are good at, this sort of game. So I pick the two I expect to betray me the least, Jim and Graham, and leave Kieron to smoulder in his own filth. Then, looking further afar, Hentzau is the geologically furthest from me on the map, so my greatest natural ally. Quinns and Tom are similarly far away, kept from attacking me by a tricolour of Kieron, Crispy and Jim. So basically, I need to get chummy with everyone I’m not intending to invade. 

This is made even simpler by there being four different types of technology to research. If I can rope three other people into helping me out, we can literally cover all the bases. And if I’m the only one they know of, I can be the only one with all of that tech, and I can dole it out to who I see fit. Basically,  I’m planning to win through wealth of ideas, rather than overly aggressive tactics. If I’m the one with all the tech, everyone wants to be my friend, right? I’m pretty sure that’s how it works. 

So that means investing in science, and then economy. If I do that, I get more money tomorrow to spend on industry and all the tools of war, just in case one of my chums decides that my ever so delicate shade of light blue is best served decorating their wall rather than their battlemaps. This also means I need a hell of a lot more stars than the poxy amount you get to start with. Messages to potential allies sent, I shift out my ships, picking the biggest stars, because I like them chunky. (It may or may not also be the fact that the bigger the star, the more resources it offers, and thus the cheaper it is to build on them. I’m just glad that my intergalactic persuasions happen to coincide with sound tactical nous.) 

Hentzau: My first reaction to Neptune’s Pride is one of slight bafflement. This is space strategy stripped down to its most rudimentary bare-bones – only four areas you can research, only three types of colony improvement, ship construction is entirely automated, and ships themselves are abstractly represented by a single number telling you how many you’ve got in a given fleet. That’s all there is in the way of empire-building. It’s clear that the meat of this game is supposed to be in the ship movement and inter-player diplomacy, and so my first course of action is take a look at who the most immediate threats to my budding empire are going to be so that I can perhaps convince them to not smash my face in.

Neptune’s Pride has given me what looks like an excellent starting position. I’m pressed up against the edge of the galaxy; to the west of my empire lies empty void. Everything interesting is to the east of my empire; specifically, my borders with the only two neighbours I’ve actually got to deal with in this game. One is Pentadact, otherwise known as PCG’s Tom Francis. I duly send him a message saying that it would be terribly nice if we could just be friends. The other, though… the other is Quinns; henceforth to be referred to as That Bastard Quinns. Readers of the Solium Infernum game diaries will understand that I’m still nursing a slight grudge against That Bastard Quinns, and so he doesn’t get any space-olive branches delivered by space-dove. I’ll bide my time, build up my forces, and then annihilate him.

Or at least that’s the plan. I’m hampered somewhat by my utter ignorance of all of the game mechanics. The sensible thing to do would be to find some sort of manual and learn about them, since forewarned is forearmed. Naturally I decide instead that it would be an excellent idea to just wing it. Other 4x games place great emphasis on technological development, so I assume that’s going to be a good place to start and build a new science facility on my homeworld. Unfortunately this turns out to be the worst possible thing I could have done; the cost of improvements scales up depending on how many of that type you’ve previously built, and the homeworld comes with two science facilities as standard. I had two planets with no facilities where I could have built the thing for half the cost. To add insult to this self-inflicted injury, science facilities are about ten times as costly as the other types of improvement, meaning that building one on my homeworld has wiped out my entire starting budget. Bugger.

My fleets set out and start grabbing other planets for me. They’re a pretty anaemic bunch, sadly – the cost of improvements also scales depending on how many resources a planet has, and the explorers are turning up a series of dustballs with resource levels as high as “0″ and “1″ – so the future of my industry is not looking bright. I get no reply to the message I sent to Pentadact, but the inevitable snubbed feeling is assuaged by some communication with Poisoned Sponge, who is waaaaay over there on the other side of the galaxy. It seems that since there’s four different players separating us he feels that we’re not going to be threatening each other for a little while, and so we’re in the ideal position to do a little tech trading. I like this idea and expand the initial one-off transfer into a coordinated technology pact; I do ship speed upgrades, Sponge does everything else, and we exchange these technologies more-or-less freely.

With the diplomacy system having at least borne some small amount of fruit I concentrate on expansion for the next few days. The few worlds to the north are gobbled up quickly. Pentadact isn’t moving his fleets, so I take the opportunity to snatch some of the planets near to him out from under his nose. However, That Bastard Quinns and I are both expanding into the area southeast of my homeworld. It’s only a matter of time before our scout fleets run into each other. And when that happens? It’s not going to be pretty.

Kieron: My fuck up was over-expansion. I grabbed stuff with no idea about whether I could defend it, quietly hoping that just owning a planet would give it some base defences. But no, only ships count. This means that my spread out forces, when they actually contact the opposition, pretty much dissipate. It’s Sponge which causes the initial problems. He just expands directly in my direction rather than any of the other ones. Crispy, to my north, is also nibbling. I suspect Quinns will inevitably come in, and it’s only the distance from Jim’s empire which makes me think he’s not going to bother. Simple mass dynamics mean that I’m going to be chewed apart. At this point, I have no idea actually how the combat works. If I’m going to play a defensive war, I’m going to have to learn to play.

And I’m going to play a defensive war, as I make extremely clear to Sponge. After he’s claimed a few planets I got, we talk about a ceasefire. I stress that he’s never keeping those two planets, and I’d ruin my empire rather than give them to him. This is only mildly hyperbole for the sake of diplomacy. If he keeps these planets, any fleet stationed there would be within striking range of the heart of my empire – with the high production planets without whom I’d be more screwed than I already was. He wasn’t keeping them, as it would be game over. It was game over anyway, really. Survival was only my secondary objective at this point. My primary one was making sure Sponge got his face sliced for his unreasonable expansion. Thought for the day: Sponge is a right fucker.

Of course, there’s some stuff I don’t know…

Sponge/Phill: Whoops. 

One of the more fun parts of playing a new strategy game, at least one that’s a slow-burner like this, is getting to know the game. When I first started, I was incredibly excited by the fact that, before a hyperspace jump, your fleet has to engage in a thirty minute ‘pre’ jump. Spooling up the engines, or some such. At the time I just thought it was an interesting moment of attempted fidelity in the game, and thought nothing less of it. Now I know different. 

You see, that pre-jump is there so that you can change your mind. It’s thirty minutes because that’s just about enough time for even the most idiot of idiots to re-evaluate their decision and pick a better course. The reason you’re given this grace period is because once you’re in hyperspace, that’s it. You’re the bullet fired from the gun, unable to be rescinded or reasoned with. Once you’ve had the stars whiz past your windscreen and everything’s turned into a blur of pixels and vacuum, there’s nothing you can do. I explain all this because it’s the seed that sows the beginnings of a very difficult situation. 

You see, I headed brashly into Kieron’s territory, thinking I wanted a deep border right near him so that I can pump ships directly up his nostrils when the time came. But naturally, this being early in the game, he was expanding outwards. And outwards means the star I just fired a fleet at. So I pop him a mail explaining how my race of fish-bowl wearing reptilians were vastly superior in almost every way to his terrifying looking thorn monsters, and therefore he should just be glad I’m taking a star he hadn’t quite taken yet, rather than one of his homestars. I fluffed my gills and pumped up my chest, and he laughed. Mentioned something about destroying himself to destroy me, and how I was some sort of insignificant smudge on the vast screens that adorned his battleships. Basically, we were at an impasse. 

So I cleared my throat and mentioned how I couldn’t move my ships away from the course they were on, and I was just hoping to scare him off with some big words. Everything went a bit cordial, we had some tea, and figured out that if I withdrew as soon as I took the star, everything would be rosy. And I’m sure things would’ve been peachy between us from here on in, except I wasn’t about to let him rebuff me quite that easily. So I moved my ships up after taking the star, attempting to create a border.

He didn’t like that.

Graham: Patrick Swayze had it wrong: being in the corner is fantastic. Born in the northern-east quadrant of the map, my purple armies were free to expand without any grab-happy neighbours getting in my way. My nearest space-neighbour was Crispy, who I made sure to immediately turn into a space-friend. I didn’t really understand how the game worked, but I figured delaying our inevitable battle would work in my favour. At the same time, I made an alliance with Jim, promising that together we would crush all that lay between us: Crispy, Kieron, and Poisoned Sponge.

In the meantime, I mostly pumped my funds into Economy and building fleets. In the early game, I had twice as many fleets as anyone else, though only an equal number of actual ships. This allowed me to quickly gather my nearby unclaimed planets, and put me comfortably in second place.

Jim: I was in the corner too, which proved useful because I really wasn’t paying attention for the first three or four days, and hadn’t even really worked out what the various resources were for. It’s was only when Kieron sent me the link for the combat tutorial that I realised I was doing it all wrong. This is absolutely one of those games that I assumed I understood from a cursory glance, but actually wouldn’t really understand until I began talking to people. Talking to people! In a game! What will these boffins come up with next?

However, as things unfold it becomes clear that I’m going to start checking this game four or five times a day. Just to be sure. Just to know. Just to check.

Quinns My goodness! Listen to these guys whinge. “Being in the middle is so bad!” “I was up against the side, which of course sucks.” “My star systems were in space, leading to all kinds of problems.”

Let me offer you something more upbeat, namely the story of how I ended up blasting off into an early lead despite being assigned leadership of a race with a face like a toilet brush.

The fact that developing your systems gets exponentially more expensive the more you build on them meant I clearly needed to start by grabbing as many systems as possible. Also, since none of my neighbours would be in fightin’ range of me for at least 48 hours I chose to spend all of my starting cash on increasing the Economy of my systems as opposed to their ship-creating Industry stat, meaning I earned even more cash the next day, which again I chose to plough back into my economy. By day 4 I was the cigar-chomping baron of the Galaxy and still shunting most of my insane income back into my economy.

This was the easy stuff. The need for delicacy began when there were no more unclaimed stars for me to take and I was left with three neighbours- red Kieron to the right, Burgundy Tom above me, and lime-green Hentzau to the left. With my broad swathe of territory and monstrous economy I was a force to be reckoned with, but by no means a goliath. My planets were producing space-bourbon and space-flatpacked furniture, not fleets. I’d be able to happily crush perhaps one of my opponents, but taking on two at once would see my territory (and space-bourbon) being torn from my hands.

So began the anti-Kieron alliance. I got in touch with Jim and Sponge, the players beneath and to the right of Kieron, and proposed we all invade him at once while exchanging our technological advances. We all get a safe chunk of extra territory, enough tech to keep us in the game and the removal of one of our opponents. Everybody wins! Except Kieron, who gets spanked.

At least that was what I told Jim and Sponge. In practice, I had no intention of invading Kieron.

See, at this stage of the game neither Jim or Sponge had decent enough scanning tech to see that I wouldn’t be invading Kieron. Instead, after Jim and Sponge invaded I got in touch with the poor, paralyzed Kieron, and happily proposed and signed a non-aggression pact with him. Through this series of plays I locked down my rightmost border, allowing me to turn my attention to Tom above me and Hentzau to my left.

Fortunately for me, Tom sucks. He forgot to log in for several days after the game began and as a result his holdings are pathetic compared to the rest of us. I send a quick mail assuring him I’ll obliterate his people if he makes a move on me, making sure not to give so much of a whiff of the truth: it doesn’t matter I have four times his territory, I’m still afraid of his fleets. If Hentzau and him attacked me together they might just crush me. So I’m bluffing, really. Making out in my communication with Tom that I’m only worried about him slowing down my inevitable conquest and that he should sit tight if he wants to live.

With that, I begin shifting my fleets left, my eyes set on Hentzau’s territory. It shouldn’t be that hard to quickly strip him of his systems. Right?

…right?

, .

78 Comments »

  1. sonofsanta says:

    Awesome! The SI diary was amazing, so I’m very very glad indeed to see another one turning up :)

    Any chance of a game diary detailing how you’ve all taken turns mocking Alec for his weakling immune system?

  2. Insectecutor says:

    Sounds sort of like Planetarion, which I sunk too much time into at university. This enthuses me.

    Also that headline image or whatever you internet fabulosos call it is utterly great.

  3. James G says:

    Yay! Lunchtime reading is sorted for a while.

    Today I had a ham and sexy mayo baguette.

    • Premium User Badge

      AndrewC says:

      You had what now?

    • Colthor says:

      @James G:

      “Sexy Mayo”? What a wonderful euphemism.

    • James G says:

      It was supposed to be a reference to Kieron’s Sexy guns, sexy communism and sexy Mao. It clearly didn’t work, perhaps because most people didn’t spend their teens thinking Mao was pronounced Mayo.

  4. Frenz0rz says:

    Yay, a Neptunes Pride diary! Woooo!

    Having been obliterated in a game a couple of weeks ago, and consequently deserting my empire in favour of Mass Effect 2, I can safely say that this game is harsh. As. Fuck. Diplomacy really is where victory lies though – I seem to lack the abililty to see when I am being blatantly lied to.

    Anyway, I predict Quinns will come out on top of this one. A strong starting economy really does make all the difference.

    • Vague-rant says:

      In my game it made the difference in that we started to gang up on what appeared to be the clear leader… Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the big bad empire.

    • cyrenic says:

      Apologies, Frenzorz, as I was the guy that wiped you out ;) (I don’t know if you remember the post I made in that first NP article, but I was “Hapless Noobie”). You were the biggest threat so I figured I’d try to blitzkrieg you and it worked :P. Granted, that game was pretty much handed to me when light blue decided to quit and started handing out worlds, and I got his homeworld. Quinns’ original article on NP was pretty much right: playing this game makes you a bastard.

      Also, cheers to Tom Camfield, I’ve seen him post on this site a few times and he ended up as my ally that game.

    • Tom Camfield says:

      @ Frenz0rz
      @ cyrenic

      No way!
      Who knew we were all from RPS?
      Good times.

      Somewhat like Kieron, after a few initial battles, survival became a secondary concern, I just wanted to beat my neighbour Conge. This involved a non-aggretion pact with cyrenic, while simultaneously pretending to be part of a three pronged attack by Frenz0rz and Conge against cyrenic*.

      I would tell cyrenic everything my comrades Frenz0rz and Conge told me, while amassing ships on Conge’s border so Conge couldn’t risk attacking cyrenic when Frenz0rz needed him to**. Then by the time Conge managed to attack cyrenic, cyrenic was more than ready for the attack.

      Once Conge’s fleet was depleted enough, I attacked him and had the happy moment of capturing his capital before cyrenic romped to a massive victory. It was quite the thing.

      * There was an elaborate ruse involving cyrenic gifting me his planets so it looked like I was attacking him. I don’t know if the other players noticed but I think it’s safe to say that we both thought it was very clever :)
      ** This was cyrenic’s very clever plan, I think I was all for moving out of radar range then attacking in force, but by keeping Conge occupied, it gave cyrenic time to kill Frenz0rz without having to deal with two fronts at once.

    • sinister agent says:

      In my game it made the difference in that we started to gang up on what appeared to be the clear leader… Sometimes it doesn’t pay to be the big bad empire.

      Yeah, this happened in a game I was in, too. I was originally on side with the leader (it was a fairly slight lead, and we bordered the runner-up, who was acting suspiciously), and I think another player was as well. But then he tried to strong-arm me. And his other ally. And another player.

      A day later, all four players (a few AI and stragglers were powerless by this point) had a war council, and whomped the crap out of him. His paranoia had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It felt deliciously evil, and yet righteous at the same time. This game does worrying things to people.

    • Frenz0rz says:

      @cyrenic

      Dont worry mate, it was my first game and I was a fool to have trusted you. My main plan was to ready myself for war, whilst ensuring that everyone else was prepared to attack you at the same time. Unfortunately I overexpanded, and should have spent more resources on quickly taking over yellow before the AI took over. By the time you’d got blue’s capital, I knew it was too late, but stubbornly stuck to my crappy plan.

      @Tom Camfield

      Oooh, you little bastard! Should have seen that coming really, but I was too dogged up in preparing my (somewhat obvious) backstab on cyrenic and trying to get everyone to go to war with him. If I see you again, I know what to expect now :D

  5. Yargh says:

    woohoo, another diary to follow… I love these things, especially the multiple perspectives.

  6. Labbes says:

    Neptune’s Pride rocks, it’s so full of double-crossing and overall dickishness, you just have to love it.
    Really interested in where this is going, I don’t think it’s possible to turn a game around as subtly as in SI, but two against one is usually a harsh thing in this game – even if the two are weaklings.

  7. M says:

    Graham is Space Newcastle?

    Also, nice format for the writeup. I think it works really well, despite it being MEGAWORDS. Will read this simply because my own game of NP was such a hilarious clusterfuck.

  8. Vague-rant says:

    Huzzah for the yellow spider people! (I played them in my game).
    Starting in the middle really does suck, if 2 people attack you fairly early just to take you out of the game theres not much you can do. To make matters worse, I missed the first few turns in my game and did the same over upgrading thing early on, wasting vast swathes of cash. How I came second I’m not really sure.

    Also, does anyone know why Jim didn’t take the uncontested stars south of him?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Well, maybe he focused on other things first. Remember what Crispy wrote: you can only jump so far. On that map you can see he’s prioritised expanding inwards, towards the other players.. This seems like a wise thing, since the outer systems aren’t likely to be taken by anyone else any time soon.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Partly because I was slow, and also because I knew I had to secure the space that bordered with other people first: I knew they wouldn’t take what was behind me without coming through me.

    • Vague-rant says:

      Fair enough. I probably would have focused more on the planets further away and let Sponge to fill up that whole side (possibly earning his trust?) rather than having borders with Keiron and Sponge at the same time.

      In terms of prediction for a win? Probably Graham. His empire looks very defendable, as opposed to
      Quinns who borders 5 different people.

  9. JohnArr says:

    Tom and his foul-mouthed space-bunnies are just biding their time, I expect.

  10. radomaj says:

    Where is Tom Francis/Pentadact’s write-up?

  11. Falsus says:

    I’ve been waiting for this diary to appear! I played a game of Neptune’s Pride a couple of weeks after you chaps wrote a post about it. Sadly, though, it ended with me winning against 5 AIs. Here’s to you gentlemen having a better game then I did!

  12. Scuzzeh says:

    Jim got my favourite alien, the one I like to call “American Football Turtle”.

  13. Richard Beer says:

    I quite enjoyed the couple of games I played, although people kept dropping out and being replaced by rubbish and irritating AI players.

    The most satisfying part of the whole game for me was a border skirmish I had near the start of a game where, like a good chess gambit, I completely outmaneuvered one opponent, luring his ships into attacking my desert planets, and launching back at his juicy ones just as his 30 minute launch window expired, our fleets passing each other like literal ships in the night.

    Taking someone else’s home planet provides a massive boost to research and industry early on. I’m sure this game you’re diarising has finished already, but I highly recommend it!

  14. laikapants says:

    I was thinking just last night that I hoped RPS would do another one of these type things and lo you have! This makes my rain sodden day much much better.

  15. skizelo says:

    Been looking forward to this ever since it was mentioned in the last PCG podcast.

  16. Schmung says:

    Nicely sums up my first experiences of the game. The initial thought that you’ve understood everything, followed very rapidly by the realisation that I really, really didn’t. The memories of the complete spankings I’ve had every time I’ve played have almost faded enough for me to give it another go. I just need to be nicer this time instead of going to war with everyone like I did in my last game. That did not end well.

    Any RPSers up for starting a game this afternoon?

    • Lu-Tze says:

      Our “Mutually Benefical Arrangement” was pretty friendly. It didn’t stop everyone else from annihilating you, but I did go on to win (because everyone else gradually feebed out).

    • Schmung says:

      This is true. My mistake was to ignore the friendly overtures from Cyan. I thought I could take him, but rapidly got embroiled in more conflicts and ended up ballsing it totally. My last gasp stab at yellow was more an attempt to go out in a blaze of glory than anything else.

    • Scuzzeh says:

      I’m sure I was Cyan in one of the games, I just forget which.

    • Quadiago says:

      It’s great to see now familiar names on here! I reckon percentage wise the majority of NP players are actually RPS readers. This diary is brilliantly entertaining, since I recently played in a symmetrical game where diplomacy was an oh-so-major part of success. It’s good to be bad in NP…. :)

      Another thing, since the game is so slow, it can be truly agonizing waiting to see if your strategy worked.

  17. FriendGaru says:

    Playing Neptune’s Pride with friends was a good deal of fun. I realized early on that most people will go for any tech trade as long as they get something out of it. So, naturally I put my research into scanning (by far the easiest to research) and traded for the rest while maintaining friendly relationships with nearly everyone. Once I got new tech from someone, I went ahead and immediately traded it to whoever else would buy it. For most of the game I had the best tech without ever having bothered building science facilities. My economy was glorious. Then orange suicided against me. That bastard.

  18. Inigo says:

    So… Time of Defiance?

  19. Jayt says:

    Screw underdogs, claim the universe Quinns!

    • Quinns says:

      Your enthusiasm has been noted.

      Man, we missed a trick not having a vote set up at the end of each part so everyone can guess who’s gonna win.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      There’s a reason you’re referred to as That Bastard Quinns, Quinns.

      Just sayin’. So conniving.

    • Quinns says:

      :D

  20. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I much, much prefer turn-based or even real-time games over this time-leeching nonsense. Well, not nonsense, apparently, but it could just as easily be done without the time-wastery. Except that’s what these browser games float on.

  21. cyrenic says:

    I’m finishing up my second game of Neptune’s Pride, and it’ll probably be my last for a while. I get too wrapped up in it when things get really heated, as my games usually got decided over a series of one or two days when a huge war breaks out. I really like the game, but I’d prefer something more turn based or something you play against an AI (which I read in an interview is probably the next thing they’re going to do). I think the actual paid side of their business model sucks, though. They need to go look at League of Legends and see if there’s anything they can steal from that business model, because League of Legends’ free to play/paid model works really well. Right now the Neptune’s Pride points are too expensive for me to even think about buying them, and you don’t earn enough from playing the free games.

    For anyone interested, here’s some tips I came across while playing (diplomacy reigns supreme, of course, but these can help when you go to war):

    -If you’re fighting a defensive war, and decide to “cede” a planet to an invading enemy in hopes of making a stand elsewhere, be sure to leave a single ship on the star you’re retreating from. That single ship will destroy weapons power + 1 enemy ships, since the defender gets first strike and damage done isn’t based on your number of ships.

    -Once your empire has gotten pretty big, logistics are key. Always have several “supercarriers” (fleets) picking up ships in your back lines and moving them to your front lines. Try and do this early; it can take a day or more for a fleet make its rounds, but this way the ships will be there when you need them. If the game comes down to two big empires duking it out, logistics are a huge factor in deciding who wins.

    -And if you’re really big into micromanaging, try not to lose any supercarriers. They cost $25 and losing one should be rare. Obviously you’ll lose one if you miscalculate an attack, but if you’re defending you can move just the carrier away before the enemy gets there. However if you do that, it’s helpful to do the math and see if that one ship will make the difference in the coming battle. One ship could be the difference in getting another round of combat and thus another salvo of your weapons score since you’re defending.

    -Try to “trap” attacking enemy fleets. Keep a big fleet out of the enemy’s sensor range (you can see this by selecting an enemy star), and once they commit and enter hyperspace, move your fleet to the star they’re trying to take.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      Early on, I’m a big fan of making sure every planet has 1 industry, even if you’re not really interested in developing it further. 12 hours later, it’ll pop out a single ship, and as mentioned above, a single ship is the best possible defense of a planet you are willing to concede. All those 1s add up, too.

      It helps psychologically as well. Your empire just looks more prickly, and folks become reluctant to take you on if there are softer targets.

  22. misterk says:

    I’m not sure how much I like this, having played several games now. The first couple of games I lost the internet for, and fell behind, but clamoured back up to third place in one, and even second in another (thanks to being gifted someone else’s empire). I’ve only played public games, which are less fun because natural allies will turn into ai, or, even worse, inexplicably not want free technology from someone who poses them no threat.

    Also, the real time nature of the game means that, while everything takes ages, you really do need to log on quite a bit, because if your fleets are sitting idle while someone else is attacking you then you truly are in trouble- that same game I came second in was thanks to a massive assault for which I was feeling too ill to get online for.

    • WildcardUK says:

      I had the pleasure of playing against you recently misterk!

      You’re absolutely right that the slow pace of the game gives a deceptively casual feel. Seeing an incoming fleet as soon as it’s in range can make the difference between scrambling a fleet for defence or logging in to find your planets are all the wrong colour. I was able to keep an eye on things whilst *ahem* working as they haven’t blocked it at the office….yet.

      My money’s on Quinns at the moment. His first post says all the right things. Economy first, avoid an early war like the plague but make sure everyone else is fighting (and losing ships). I won my last game by being the first person to successfully backstab an ‘ally’. I’ll shower, but I’ll never feel clean!

    • misterk says:

      Indeed, you did excellently in that game, to the point where none of us could stop you.. I think I need to focus on economy and expansion more initially, then arming up, rather than the other way round, which proved disastorous in that game

  23. roy7 says:

    I used to love a PBeM game called Galaxy and have always wished there was an web version of it, either in real time or turn based. Neptune’s Call seems exactly what I’ve kept my eyes out for the past 10-15 years. Awesome! :)

  24. Zerai says:

    Great, just as i finish my game, i get a diary, is neptune never going to get out of my life?

    Some pointers for newbies, economy is the best for starting, with industy behind, since you can trade tech, also, your defense is (simplifying) equal to your weapons, so leaving 1 ship in an abandoned system means you’ll destroy as many enemies as your weapons tech, lastly, get a tech trading partner

  25. Schmung says:

    For those that are interested a new free game has just opened up. Called Psi Sham. I’ve gone and joined it, hopefully a few of the rest of you will as well. I’d really like not to lost so badly this time.

  26. Dan says:

    Great stuff! I am trying the game out right now and i honestly have no idea what on earth is going on. Oh well. Looking forward to Diary Part 2.

  27. Rob says:

    I just Joined Pi Regulus anyone else in this game?

  28. Primar says:

    I enjoyed the couple of games I was in a few weeks back, but got thoroughly fed up when several players flipped to AI control and then promptly all decided to invade me for no apparent reason other than “just because”. I wouldn’t have minded so much if they’d been real people – sneaky backstabbing hurts, but at least it’s someone doing the backstabbing. When the AI does it, it’s just… Eh.

    I suspect it’s one of those games that would be far better with a group of friends who won’t bail out and that you can actually get some proper faux-diplomacy going with.

  29. Skusey says:

    It’s a shame that the undisputed king of space-diaries forgot to play the game at first. I’m sure he’ll come back to win though. Or at least be mildly amusing.

  30. Grandstone says:

    Darnit, now you’ve gotten me to play, and I don’t even like this kind of game. I had a bad experience with online Diplomacy. But maybe the real-time element will make it more bearable, considering how stressful the turn deadlines were in that game.

    I’m playing as “Segismundo” and I’m in Phi Seginus.

  31. Nimic says:

    This sounds like a much stripped down version of Space Civ. It’s basically a stripped down Civ in Space, but with a most brilliant 3D view of the galacy. It wasn’t just a map with some dots on it, it was an actual 3D galaxy with stuff to all sides. That was a sort of a browser game as well, and it had turns of something like 40 minutes, sending ships anywhere taking several turns. As most of these games, it just became too time consuming. I was one of the big guys, and at one point I spent a terrible amount of time on the game just making sure I was doing something in all my colonies.

    But, I digress. This looks interesting; keep it up.

  32. P7uen says:

    @Vague

    Yes I believe I was the crushee

    edit: Gorram comments system. Anyway, I’m totally and utterly obsessed with this game and need to find a way to make a living from it.

  33. sinister agent says:

    Ooooh, yes, yes, yes! I’m just about halfway into my second game now. I was hoping you lot would have stuff to say. I’ve been badgering people to play this for weeks, and now that I can link to something, I have a good excuse to harangue them in person this weekend. I just know it would cause the most terrific arguments.

    Right, I should actually READ the article now.

  34. sinister agent says:

    Survival was only my secondary objective at this point. My primary one was making sure Sponge got his face sliced

    That’s how my first game turned out, too. I ended up selling my services as a kamikaze bomber to anyone who also wanted my nemesis dead. Anyone could have crushed my puny three planets, but I’d packed them so tight that doing so would weaken them so much that they’d be out of the running, too. I managed to live to the end by simply hovering threateningly, selling intel to everyone and slowly becoming unassailable.

    Being in the top three is really scary, though. I just wish I had that extra layer of complication that comes with knowing who you’re up against.

    My money’s on Graham at this point. That couldn’t be a better starting position, really.

  35. amishmonster says:

    I love the format of this game diary – much easier to follow than the Solium Infernum one (as great as that was).

  36. Pani says:

    Sounds interesting, so much so I too have just started a game. If anyone else is playing on Nu Pleione, let me know.

  37. pfox says:

    @Schmung I believe we’re in a game as I speak? I can already tell I’ll be getting my ass kicked, heh.

    • Grandstone says:

      @pfox

      Oh, hey, I think we’re all in the same game. Good luck, even if we aren’t.

  38. LionsPhil says:

    Oh boy, another of these!
    *popcorn*

  39. PHeMoX says:

    The art is totally awesome. Great job to whoever made it.

  40. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    I think I have no idea how to play this even with the tutorial? >_<

  41. PixelCody says:

    Hooray, go-go-gadget strategy-game-diary!!! I’ve been waiting on this one.

    From the sounds of things “That Bastard Quinns” is a fitting moniker, having flexed his deceptive muscles more than most in the early game. But what’s this? A healthy Quinnsian economy? Surely some form of metal shortage is waiting in the wings.

  42. The Pink Ninja says:

    I want people to continue making games like SI and NP just so I can read these game diaries.

    I’m almost touched you invited Sponge and Hentzau to come and play.

    I’m rooting for you Sponge!

    (Except the game is finished already so I should have rooted a month ago)

  43. Daz says:

    Stars! ftw

    • LionsPhil says:

      Stars! indeed FTW. I really wish the developers, if they’re never going to get anywhere with a sequel, would just patch out the copy protection on it or something. (I suspect selling it again on something like GoG could be hampered by it being a [surprisingly inoffensive] 16-bit Windows app, and thus no-go on increasingly popular 64-bit Windows.)

    • Nick says:

      Yeah, I spent a huge amount of time playing Stars! when I was younger, brilliant game.

  44. KillahMate says:

    Sponge:

    I stick as many grimy fingers in as many delicious pies as I possibly can. And in Neptune’s Pride, pies are people.

    You know, you might want to rethink that sentence. :-)

  45. Minicow says:

    I enjoy how most everyone’s entry is “well I didn’t have the slightest idea what I was doing, so…” while Quinns’ alone is “so here’s how I became an all-powerful space emperor and a traitorous bastard in the opening moves of the game.”

  46. malkav11 says:

    God I want a Dominions 3 diary like this.

    • Vinraith says:

      @malkav11

      Now that’s a dangerous idea. A Dominions 3 diary like this would almost certainly result in me buying Dominions 3. Really the only thing stopping me is concerns about the long term viability of the single player game (coupled with the cost) as it is.

    • PixelCody says:

      @Malkav11

      Agreed! I nearly suggested this myself but held back after remembering how old the game is.

      It’s a shame the ThreeMovesAhead podcast’s D3 diary fell apart fairly early on.

  47. medwards says:

    Man, everyone else has played in a game with eachother, but I never got to play any RPSers :(

    Neptune’s Pride is a bad game for me because I’m prone to paranoia… having negotiated a border agreement (complete with specifics as to which stars belonged to whom) I watched my neighbour take stars that were supposed to be mine with sizeable fleets. I blustered and he pulled back trying to stroke my ego. As my ships approached I noticed him placing economy and industry on them. At this point I became convinced that he was going to betray me, that he had cut a deal with the front-runner of the game. Here my paranoia leads me to a bit of a god complex. “How DARE he even CONSIDER betraying me? This MAGGOT thinks that not only is he worthy of LIVING but worthy of trying to TAKE MY LEGACY?!” type stuff. At which point I elected to decimate him. A couple of smart moves on my part and dumb moves on his and I’m sitting on his home planet.

    I was now going to work on an AI player and leave my second neighbour (blue) alone. Blue, however, claims the front runner is going to attack me but that he has my back and will attack the front runner when he begins. I think that it is not only self-evident that the front-runner was going to attack me, but that it was horse shit that my neighbour was going to do anything other than attack me. But, I have no evidence yet, so I move ships into position for a green attack while also preparing a reserve for a blue attack. Blue moves his ships to a place that is monumentally ineffective for a sneak attack. Unless he’s planning on attacking me. My third neighbour also prepares, and when blue launches his horribly prepared attack, I prepare a trap and strike back. It takes us roughly a day to completely rip apart a sizeable empire. At this point the front-runner is no longer the front-runner and requests to cede the game to my neighbour and I in exchange for third place. Success.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Isn’t everyone playing this from RPS in one way or another?

  48. nate says:

    I predict that Speedo’s gonna fuck all y’all up. You probably don’t even yet know he’s stuck in this game with you. Or rather, that you’re stuck in this game with him.

    This sounds a lot like Travian. Have you played Travian? Hell, is it still around? That thing sucked up every ounce of my attention for several months. Had me setting my alarm clock for the middle of the night.

    Since SI has this annoying tendency to take more than a month to play, I bought Sins on your recommendation and kept getting annoyed with it. I’ve been thinking lately, “I should make SI in space, in real time, maybe in Unity.” But that’d be a lot of work, and I really ought to start looking for work one of these days. So I’m glad somebody else did what had to be done.

  49. Acosta says:

    @Tom Francis

    Tell me you blow some sun in part two or I will be disappointed.

  50. Rocco says:

    Reminds me a whole helluva lot of Polecon, a stand-alone modem game server on the Apple 2, which got ported to MajorBBS as Galactiwars. Right down to the minimal resources (steel, radium, oil then) and the slow-burn gameplay.

    A diary in the Galactiwars help system ends:

    Turn 61: I cannot believe this. The H.O.D. was never going to attack Photon I at all… it was just a trick to test my loyalty! Now they have my missiles, I’m kicked out, and Photon thinks I’m lying! I better get in some alliance quick, because it’s pretty dangerous out here on my own.

    Turn 63: The H.O.D. has invited me to return on a purely financial ground. They claim that they are going to attack somebody, but they won’t tell me who until the job is done. This is because of my tarnished record with them. They asked for 3 more missiles. I’ll be able to pay that soon enough. Meanwhile, I’ll get the protection I need, and I’ll share the profits of the H.O.D. killing!

    Turn 65: I logged on this morning to see that H.O.D. did indeed keep their promise by performing the killing. My poor planet, Klozz was stripped of all materials, and my people were annihilated by a rain of nuclear explosions! I should have seen it coming, I was a fool. Oh well, just wait until I get my NEW planet built up to power… heh heh heh.