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Galactic Milieu

The Galactic Milieu is a metagame utilising various free open source games as components.

So far it has mostly been using Crossfire RPG, Freeciv and Battle for Wesnoth, although a few possibilities for web-based modes of interacting with the game are being tested in the form of Fantasy Online, Galaxies Online, Universes Online and Villages Online.

CoffeeMUD is also being playtested, initially at mudgaard.knotwork.i2p on the I2P network, now also reachable by telnet as mudgaard.knotwork.com:5555 and by web browser at http://mudgaard.knotwork.com:27744

Funds permitting, it is hoped that eventually fully immersive three-dimensional virtual environments (such as OpenSimulator) will also be used, a few free open source engines for that purpose are being watched but it is not yet clear which of them to use for which aspects of the game.

The main project site is http://sourceforge.net/p/galacticmilieu/home/Home/

People seem to get confused by one particular java-based client that is at the client site, maybe because the way it is filed in the directory structure makes it appear to be “the” client. It is actually just a play by mail java client that was tried out as yet another possible way people might be able to interact with the Milieu but that despite having an installer for Windows apparently does not really actually work for people who use Windows. Because no one other than the developer ever actually managed to send in via its built in email system any actual play by email orders, the engine that processes such orders is no longer being run and the gmail address it sends the orders to hardly ever gets checked anymore to see whether by some fluke someone actually has managed to get it to work and managed to send in some orders through it.

So basically the particular galaxy that client relates to is yet another timeline that is no longer moving forwards in time, and the whole idea of play by email has kind of been left on the back burner for a long time now. (Not much point working on that part if no one is interested enough in playing to even debug the client on their platform to find out why it doesn't work on their platform and how to fix it so that it does work on their platform.)

The main focus lately has been on the economic underpinnings of the project, for example we do not have so many dedicated servers lying idle that we can just keep running on cron the order processing for the play by email client for years while no one is actually sending in any orders through that client so the whole play by email angle is currently dead. Once we have oodles of spare funding we can just keep such things running on some server somewhere just in case someone someday finds use for it but initial funding has been such that anything we are not directly immediately using gets shut down to free up RAM for things that might make more money faster so as to keep the whole project financed and eventually get more and more servers running to a point where every planet is in RAM 24/7 active and available to play.

Right now we do not even have each and every Freeciv-based planet in RAM running. Ideas have been thrown around about setting up some system whereby paying players would log into some front end from which they could choose one planet at a time to fire up, so it would not be necessary to have all of them always actively running on some server somewhere.

Basically the big bottleneck on the whole project is finances, thus finance and economy has had to become the most important focus until that is solved. To that end work continues on Open Transactions servers and cryptocurrencies, and the prototype for how the stock exchanges that Freeciv cities build can function as actual stock exchanges (using Open Transactions for example) bringing in real revenue to support the project is the Digitalis Open Transactions server.

Its GitHub repository, https://github.com/knotwork/galacticmilieu is distinct and separate, not a duplicate of anything that is on the Sourceforge site. It is just an initial sketch so far, not yet useful, towards a system for automatically installing stuff and automatically grabbing information about what is happening in the game, possibly to include grabbing intelligence reports, responses to orders and so on.

Economics

Economics subsumes two potentially distinct areas: the economics of developing, providing, hosting, serving (etc) the game and the within the game economies and economic systems. We deal here first with the economics of developing and providing the game, inasmuch as without solving the problem of providing the game any economics within the game itself are somewhat moot.

Of the game

The game is set on, between and among worlds that are represented by means of Freeciv free open source software. That software provides clients for users to use to connect to worlds and servers for serving worlds. These servers need to be hosted, and worlds that are not hosted are unavailable for players to access at the level of scale Freeciv provides. Basically anything that happens at sufficient scale that it causes changes large enough to be visible at the Freeciv scale requires a Freeciv server to be fired up and told about that change or happening.

However, part of the reason for using Freeciv is to enable numerous civilisations all to progress in time, and their progress at the Freeciv scale requires, typically, a Freeciv “turn” to happen each year of game time. Thus game time itself can only move forward by running one or more Freeciv servers. This does not matter for applications such as documenting history in the form of Battle for Wesnoth campaigns until such documenting reaches a point in history which has not yet been resolved or documented at the Freeciv scale.

For example, certain events happened on the Freeciv scale on the planet known as E29 that were then documented in the form of the Battle for Wesnoth campaign Mutiny in 1626. That was all well and good until that campaign had been progressed all the way up to the point to which the Freeciv level of play had already reached. From that point on, the further development of the Battle for Wesnoth campaign has lain fallow, awaiting the results of the next Freeciv scale “turn”, since events at the Freeciv level could, and probably would, strongly influence what would happen next in the Battle for Wesnoth campaign.

Discovering what happened next became, on the planet known as Earth, a problem of economics. Who would pay to have the planet known as E29 made available for play by running its Freeciv server? There are plenty of local timelines within the milieu whose progress might be more or less useful or interesting to explore, so which timelines to move forward by how much becomes a problem of how many players are how interested in moving which storylines forward by how much, and how many other storylines they might need to also move forward, or at least have some effect upon, in order to do so.

The fact that Freeciv has the ability to use primitive artificial intelligence algorithms to determine the actions of civilisations means if even just one player is willing to pay to have a Freeciv “turn” executed all the civilisations on the chosen planet can be moved forward without any “absolute” necessity for other players to devote time and thought to determining what other civilisations are going to do that “turn”, but the less players there are who wish to have that “turn” executed the more of the cost of executing a “turn” falls to the player or players who do wish the turn to be executed.

The artificial intelligence system is however not a particularly good player. If players get to be the only played-by-a-human civilisation on a planet, they are likely to be at a significant advantage, faced only by artificial intelligence opponents, compared to players whose opponents are human players. This fact provides motivation for preferring to wait until all civilisations on a planet are controlled by actual human players before proceeding forward along that planet's local timeline.

As of this writing, many timelines within the game have been effectively “put on the back burner” mostly for lack of economic motive to move them forward; this is not something that can really be ameliorated by recruiting non-paying players into the game. A backlog of costs has been accrued, to the point where whether any given planet's server is “fired up” (run; put online) has become entirely an economic question. Will someone pay to have it put online? If so it can be put online. If not it will not be put online.

This still leaves plenty of scope for players at smaller scales of play. Any play that would not be affected if some movement of units happened at the Freeciv scale can take place, provided it does not cause effects such as the creation or movement of Freeciv scale units.

However, the hosting of servers used for the smaller scales of play also costs money, and those servers, too, have accrued backlogs of costs. The result of such backlogs building up at all scales of play has been a shifting of the focus of development toward economic matters and to economic and financial software such as Bitcoin, DeVCoin and Open Transactions.

Thus there now exists the Digitalis Open Transactions server, dealing mostly with assets whose contracts mention the city MI5ius on the planet known as M5. This server should allow an abstraction of at least some economic or financial aspects of the game to a degree sufficient to at least allow forex and/or stock exchange subgames to take place, again dependent, of course, upon the economics of running the server. The server serves also though as a DeVCoin exchange, which has given it the initial startup benefit of a bounty which has at least enabled it to get set up and running ready to explore whether it will turn out to be able to support itself.

Within the game

At the Freeciv scale, national and planetary economies are treated very abstractly by the Freeciv software. When a city is conquered, the amount of “cash” loot (the so called “gold” of the normal Freeciv game) obtained by the conqueror is computed from the “cash” holdings of the nation from which the city is taken simply by dividing the nation's cash by the number of cities the nation had prior to losing the city. The conqueror simply gets that amount or maybe some amount proportional to that amount. That is all fine and dandy for the Freeciv level of play but how are privately held fortunes at smaller scales but located in the territory of the conquered city to be treated? Also, if we are to tie in stock exchange games with actual stock exchange city-improvements built in Freeciv cities, how are such stock exchanges to be affected when the city they are in is conquered?

Many off the shelf online multiplayer games give starting players various things that, within a larger system, really ought to be relatively expensive, such as a trained unit of colonists, transportation to a place suitable for them to colonise, equipment and supplies to get them started and so on. In the Galactic Milieu all these riches that, in stand-alone games, players simply start with “out of no-where” need to be accounted for. Thus, for example, in a villages game the initial villagers and their equipment came from somewhere; in an intergalactic mining game, the initial robotic colony startup ship came from somewhere.

Initially, these startup costs were accounted for by startup loans. All players started with debts, and, because it was initially unknown quite how risky such debts would turn out to be for the creditors, the interest rates tended to be quite high, albeit not as high in gametime terms as in real life time terms. (Game time usually moves faster than real time, so 1% per day in real life time might be closer to 1% per twelve days in game time.)

It did not take long to discover that the majority of players who start a character, village, mining operation or whatever in an online game tend to fade away into the night, resulting in abandoned villages, abandoned mining operations, abandoned startup loans. This, however, had been anticipated, and the loans had not been characterised to their creditors as “secured loans” without reason; repossession corporations stepped in to take over abandoned startups. However this in turn led to a shortage of qualified executives to run repossession corporations, so the practice of allowing random visitors from the internet to start up in a villages game or galactic mining game for free had to be abandoned. The signup systems were shut down so no new players could join without administrator intervention, and the process of repossession continued until all abandoned positions were taken over by repossession corporations. That is where things stand at the time of writing.

By the time a year or so had passed since the initial random passerby players had started play, all abandoned startups had been taken up by repossession corporations and the financial community's confidence in the startup loans was high enough that competition to refinance startup loans began. By offering lower interest rates than the original high rates, a number of entities succeeded in convincing various operations to let them pay off the original startup loans, of which GMC and GRF had been the creditors, replacing them with new loans typically denominated in different currencies.

At time of writing, this process is continuing, albeit slowly due to various political and economic considerations. (The fortunes of the two major corps GMC and GRF being so intertwined with the fortunes of other politically important entities that depriving them entirely of these lucrative startup loans is not seen by all parties as necessarily a good thing.)

Interaction between in game and out of game

Blockchain-based currencies make it particularly easy for players to trade between in game and out of game, since such currencies are not bound to any particular game, server or computer. Players can perfectly well run wallets of their own on their own machine or use third party wallet services. Thus there seems little point in trying to avoid interactions between in-game economies and out of game economies; indeed it is partly because of a desire to eliminate barriers between in game, out of game and between game trades of in game resources that blockchain based currencies were adopted as ideal for use in the Milieu.

History

Approx. 250000+ b.c. Elves arrive at D'ydii.

Approx. 100000+ b.c. to 40,000+ b.c. Oceania slays Aum.

Approx. 40000+ b.c. Fox existed, but how old was she?

Approx. 20000+ b.c. End of Age of the Overlords on D'ydii.

Approx. 10000 to 6000 b.c. (somewhere in there) founding of the Three Cities.

Approx. 6000 to 4000 b.c. (somewhere in there) Cammel rampages on D'ydii.

5000bc: Freeciv software can do startyear of -5000 so this is a potential nexus.

4000bc: Neoancient Nexus:

Tuxette's mission on A4. (Illyrians are there.)
Proto-British colonise B29 (from where???).
Proto-Canadians colonise C29 (from where???).
So-called 'Egyptians' originated on or settled E29 (???).
Martian homeworld M4.
Manchu/Cornish homeworld D4.

3400bc: Tuxette founded Cheyenne Mountain on A4.

2800bc: Tuxette founded city of Marion Island on A4.

1680bc: Hittite nation formed on Sol III at about this time.

1000bc: Some time before this, Illyrians appeared on Sol III.

753bc : Romulus founded Rome on Sol III.

Approx. 600bc (7th century bc) Jimmu forms Japanese Empire on Sol III.

550bc : Persian (Achaemenid) empire on Sol III.

500bc : Malian/Sioux Alliance nexus.

Approx. 500bc (6th century bc) Lankese found Sinhalese kingdom on Sol III.

Approx. 400bc (5th to 2nd centuries bc) Carthaginian naval empire on Sol III.

221bc : Chinese unified on Sol III by Qin dynasty.

146bc : Carthage destroyed by Rome on Sol III.

0ad → 100ad: (first century ad) Vietnamese nation formed on Sol III.

606ad : Begali's first recorded King on Sol III.

622ad : Arab civ begins on Sol III (lasts there until 1495ad).

668ad : Mummu forms Korean kingdom on Sol III.

681ad : Bulgarian nation (first Slav nation in history) on Sol III.

800ad → 900ad:

Sometime in 9th century Arpad founded Hungary on Sol III
and Iceland was settled by Norwegian Vikings.

862ad : King Rurik forms Russian state on Sol III.

958ad → 988ad: Harald Blatand forms Danish kingdom on Sol III.

1034ad: About this time, Scottish form a kingdom on Sol III.

1050ad: Manchu on D4 meet Cornish, make ceasefire.

1100ad: ('by the 12th century') Kingdom of Sweden exists on Sol III.

1170ad: Barbarians appear weirdly on D4 next to city of Yankifu

(Load 1160ad savegame of D4 and do end turn to see it happen.)

1180ad: Cornish on D4 develop Gunpowder, give it and 855 gold to Manchu

in return for Banking.

1200ad: Manchu anarchy on D4 resolves itself into a Democracy.

1210ad: Manchu/Cornish ceasefire expires on D4.

1372ad: Ryukyuan nation formed on Sol III.

1400ad→1500ad (15th century): Aztec nation originated on Sol III.

1492ad: Spanish nation formed on Sol III.

1495ad: End of Arab nation on Sol III, according to its 'legend'.

1570ad: Communicator on M4.

1572ad: Scanners 1 on M4.

1579ad: Dutch form Union of Utrecht on Sol III.

1585ad: Global Warming occurrs on D4? (Depending on how Nexus resolves?)

1586ad: Martians colonise M5 from M4; Proto-Canadians already there (??? Huh?)

Manchu are also already there, hmm, from D4?
Scanners 2 on M4.

1589ad: Scanners 3 on M4.

1650ad: Boers on Sol III as Dutch settlers in British-controlled South Africa.

1707ad: British form United Kingdom on Sol III.

1776ad→1783ad American Revolution on Sol III.

1788ad: Australian nation originated on Sol III as a British penal colony.

1811ad: Venezuela gains independence on Sol III.

1814ad: Norwegians on Sol III, under Danish rule, create a constitution.

1816ad: Argentine nation orginated on Sol III by independence from Spain.

1819ad: Colombian republic gains independence on Sol III.

1822ad: Brazilian nation founded on Sol III (from Portuguese colony).

1830ad: Belgian nation on Sol III gains independence from Dutch Kingdom.

1832ad: Hellenic Republic formed on Sol III.

1832ad: Cochrane's Flight on A4; gained Scanners 1 and Sensors 1.

1834ad: Starfleet Academy built on B29.

1836ad: Starfleet Academy built on A4.

1837ad: B4 and B5 colonised by British from B29.

1839ad: Sensors 3 on B29.

1840ad: British annex New Zealand on Sol III.

1841ad: Scanners 6 on B29.

1844ad: Force Fields developed on A4.

1845ad: Scanners 8 on B29.

1848ad: Scanners 2 on A4.

1849ad: Scanners 3 on A4.

1850ad: Scanners 4 on A4.

1852ad: Scanners 5 on A4.

1853ad: Peace negotiations take place on A4.

1855ad: Scanners 6 on A4.

1858ad: Scanners 7 on A4.

1861ad: Confederate states formed on Sol III.

1862ad: Canadians on C29 prepare to do Cochrane's Flight.

1870ad: Italian nation formed on Sol III.

1899ad→1902ad: Boer War on Sol III.

1900ad: B6 colonisation nexus.

1905ad: Norwegians on Sol III unite with Sweden, gain independence from Danes.

1907ad: New Zealand on Sol III made independent dominion by British crown.

1910ad: Union of South Africa formed on Sol III.

1917ad: Soviet Union (Bolshevik Revolution) on Sol III.

1948ad→1984ad: 'Big Brother' nexus.

1960ad: Nigeria on Sol III gains independence from British.

1991ad: Armenian (descendants of Haik) nation recreated on Sol III.

2000ad: Millenium nexus.

2008ad: Sol III / Freeciv nexus.

2063ad: Cochrane's Flight on Earth, Humans meet Vulcans (aka Martians???).

2800+ad 29th Century Timetravel Stuff (Star Trek mythos).

5000ad: Q/H Nexus. (Quizatz Haderach, Q Continuum, Home Continuum, etc etc etc.)

Approx. 10,000+ a.d. Dune Mythos?

Protagonists

So far two civilisations exist within the Milieu specifically for the purpose of providing enemies suitable for player versus environment type play. That is, these two civilisations are not there to be thought of as fellow players but, rather, to be common enemies of “good”; to ensure that even if all the normal players decide to co-operate peacefully there will be a reservoir of “villians” upon which to draw, if only for dramatic purposes.

These two “designated evil” civilisations are the Egyptians, conceived as being led by evil mind-parasites of some kind who use humans as hosts and slaves; and the Manchu, who traditionally title their leader the Foo, as in Foo Manchu. The most prized attribute of a Foo is that he or she be fiendishly diabolical, capable of dreaming up and causing to be executed intricate, nefarious plots.

Against these evils are contrasted the Ancients (represented in Freeciv representation by the Antarcticans) and the Cornish. The Ancients are conceived to be good, but not necessarily to still be human and also not necessarily willing to “interfere” in contemporary affairs. The Cornish are the people of Art aka Arthur, the once and future king, mythical hero of a united Britain. The Cornish are underdogs; an important Temporal nexus is found on the planet known as D4 where the Manchu, with superior technology, threaten to destroy the Cornish civilisation.

Clients

Although Battle for Wesnoth, Crossfire RPG, Fantasy Online, Freeciv, Galaxies Online, Universes Online and Villages Online can all be regarded as clients from the perspective of the overall Milieu, some of them are also listed as servers because for example Freeciv has a server-client architecture and webservers, although serving pages to visitors, also basically allow people's browsers to act as clients.

This section has been added to this page though for the purpose of discussing the “play by email client” which is available for download at https://sourceforge.net/projects/galacticmilieu/files/releases/

Although play by email has not been very popular, that particular client has recently become of interest again due to its use of launch4j and, especially, its use of the nsis installer to create, even on a Linux system, an installer for Microsoft Windows.

Because the Open Transactions test GUI client, Moneychanger, is also written in Java and we would like that too to have an installer for Microsoft Windows platforms, revisting the old Galactic Milieu Play By eMail client seemed apropos, and a new version of it has been placed online at the above URL. Not much has changed with it, but because repositories use names like com.digitalis.galacticmilieu.client to find Java artifacts and projects it seemed time to start working out where exactly to place various projects within our Java workspaces and source repositories.

The PBeM client is still rather primitive, but by playing around with Eclipse and Netbeans it seems possible it and Moneychanger might be able to teach each other something and possible even eventually come together into a larger richer client platform. Basically at this point the PBeM client is not really for actually playing the Milieu through but, rather, is a test client, a step on the road to deploying rich clients written in Java.

One thing that it is teaching us is that Java is not necessarily platform-independent at all; the SWT widgets system is specific to windowing-system, operating system and hardware-platform. That means we have to find some way to make sure each user uses the correct widget jars for their particular situation, which seems to thoroughly undermine Java's much-vaunted “platform independence”.

Campaigns

Characters

Cultures

Currency

Games

Institutions

Planets

Rulesets

Clients

Servers


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