Thursday, 19 February 2015

Updates: The Mod, Communication and Our History

Once again, it seems to have been some time since I last posted. There has been plenty happening in the TSN RP Community, so there is lots to write about.

The Mod
We have been running the mod for the past few weeks during duty shifts, and it has been a great success. To help people who first join us, a team of senior officers have put together an instructional video on installing the mod. Switching back and forth between the modded and unmodded game was also addressed and made simple with a simple enable/disable executable. So far, there have been no problems whatsoever with installing and running the mod on peoples computer, which has been a great relief. The next update to the mod is due soon, with the team responsible aiming to update it on a monthly cycle. This should keep things fresh and allow any tweaks or improvements to be made.

Scout Operations
In my last post, I mentioned about the role of the Scout during combat operations (missions). The operational procedures put in place work well. The captains of the Scout ships in our Division have reported that they are useful in defining what the Scout should be doing at a given time. We are still practising and getting used to using them, however they enable clear communication of the scouts role, quickly and effectively.

In-Game Communications
The new focus on combat operations is communications between ships within the Division. Although we communicate well between ships, allowing us to coordinate ships effectively, there has been some confusion as to who is communicating, and what people on the receiving end can or cannot hear. Sometimes, communications would be bridge to bridge (the captains would talk directly to the channel on TeamSpeak and the target channel). Sometimes though, communications would be sent via Comms Officers using a comms channel (setting up whisper keys to talk only to those on a Comms Server group). The confusion would arise when a comms officer did not know which orders were being sent bridge to bridge (and hence everyone could hear) and which were only sent to them through the Comms Server group.  With assistance from the senior officers, a clear protocol was drafted to deal with the issues.

All ships in the Division are organised into small sub=groups called Battle Groups. These are teams of two ships that operate within an area in the sector (their Area of Operations). Between ships in the same Battle Group, the captains communicate bridge to bridge. This allows for quick communication, particularly in combat when both ships in the Battle Group are likely to be attacking the same enemy.

Each Battle Group has a lead vessel and when there are two Battle Groups operating together, the communication from one Battle Group to another is via the comms officers on these lead vessels. Usually, the messages give particular objectives, or an area of operations, examples include: defend DS2; Area of Operations is Grid A4 through B5; or, rendezvous with ships in Grid E3. Short orders such as these allow flexibility for the leader of the Battle Group to make decisions, but also means the overall commander all the ships knows where the Battle Group is located and what they are doing.

Scouts are organised into a separate group named "Support Elements" and are contacted via comms officers on the most senior ship (usually the flag ship). The operational procedures are used to give quick instructions to the Scout ship.

The Euphini Campaign
The Euphini Campaign is now underway, and is set to be a thrilling adventure. The GM team have really worked hard to get everything set up for this campaign and it is already proving to be a great experience. The background to the story is relatively straightforward - the USFP have sent the TSN into the Euphini Expanse to secure the system for future expansion. The 4th Light Division have been deployed to the system, relieving the 3rd Deep Space Escorts who had gone ahead to set up a base of operations. The thing is, the jump point into the system is unstable - engineers are still working on setting up the gate systems to allow travel to and from the system. This means that the Division is cut off from TSN Command most of the time. Supply convoys can make it through when the point is forced into alignment, but when it is out of alignment nothing can get through.

This all makes for a very interesting story arc. We can't fall back to an established system easily to get ships repaired should they take damage, or to resupply with ordnance, knowing that there is in infinite supply of both parts and weapons. Instead, we have to stockpile supplies and ordnance at our base of operations, the TSAF Asimov. Everything we use - ship parts, ordnance, even energy - drains these stockpiles on the Asimov. If we go out on a mission and come back having used all our ordnance, we are going to very quickly run out!

There is also special equipment that has been added into the mission script to enable us to really explore the area. Probes have to be launched into an adjoining sector to set up a nav point, and it is not until the following week that we can then actually enter it; comms buoys and sensor relays have to be deployed to secure an area; and there is a whole load of other equipment to search for anomalies, mine resources, collect samples from asteroid and much more! We actually have to plan our missions in advance, thinking carefully what to do, which makes for some really amazing game play. It has taken the whole game to a different level altogether.

Documenting our History
During our previous campaign, some of the actions that took place were documented to provide a history of what happened to the Division. Many of the records were left incomplete however, because it was only part way through that we started to record the campaign in more detail. This new campaign is being documented in much more depth though. Mission Briefing documents are created before each mission and given to senior officers and crews, detailing their objectives and summarising the mission. After each mission has been played, there are going to be uploaded to our site and released for any and all to view. Along with these are two written logs - one by the TSAF Asimov captain, and another written in character by me. Finally, there are video logs being kept of the actual missions themselves and uploaded. The intention is to create a really detailed record of the campaign so we can create a real history and look back at all we have done. If you want to check it out, it is all on our website:, under our new 'Campaign History' pages:

Awards and Medals
Some time ago, a system of awards and medals was designed. This gave something other than just a rank for officers in the Division to earn; from ribbons showing years of service, medals for actions taken during missions as well as pins showing someones level of expertise at a particular role. The greatest problem we had though was how to actually give these awards out and allow officers to see and track them. Now, with a new add on to our site, we have a way to award the medals, ribbons and pins, adding them to the officers profile on the site.  This was the missing element, and should help kickstart the awards systems again.

Final Word
The TSN RP Community continues to grow. We have a strong team of officers leading the way, and committed members who make it all worth while. Looking back at where this all began as we approach our 2 year mark makes it clear how far we have come. When I set out to create this group, I wanted to build a lasting community of players, and to train crews who could work together better than any others. There have been ups and downs, times when it seemed that it would all collapse and fail, but the group has endured. It has faltered, but not fallen. Instead it had grown stronger and better than I could imagine. In two weeks time, we will be entering our 3rd year; I wonder what it will bring...

I am looking forward to it though!

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