Across a Sea of Stars: Neptune’s Pride Game Diary #4

Neptune's Pride featured image

If this is your first encounter with this series on a Neptune’s Pride game, then please have a read of part one, part two and part three before carrying on. You may also want to read over LiberalEurope’s parallel series on the game – parts one, two and three.

The game lasted about twenty-four days in total, and my involvement in it was more or less inversely proportional to the amount of writing I’ve devoted to each phase of the game in this series. Part one was just a few days; I dipped in and out. Part two was about a week and I was following it quite closely, even going so far as to fill friends in on the latest developments down at the pub. (My friends are good people and at least pretend to listen to me rambling on about such things as ‘Spearbeams and Tears’.) Part three spanned about a fortnight in all. I was too busy playing to take extensive notes and screenshots. I was checking in on the latest developments and messages almost constantly.

That said, at no point in the game did I sacrifice a social engagement to keep tabs on fleet movements, or stay up later to launch a fleet at the ideal time, or wake up early to maximise my industry investments, or take my netbook with me to play the game at the pub. I managed to steer clear of the total, despair-ridden Neptune’s Pride addiction that has characterised some other diary series. Perhaps this is because it was not my first game; perhaps it is because Spearbeams and Tears was a game that could be enjoyed at a more sedate pace as it was so dominated by roleplay, diplomacy and co-operation.

To be honest, it is probably the latter. I’ve never known a game of Neptune’s Pride to involve so much goodwill between players – even players who were warring among themselves. Leo2k5 remained good-natured and phlegmatic throughout, even when his empire was crumbling. RoboCaptain got stuck right into the role-play and carried it through to the end of the game, even after he was reduced to a half-dozen stars. LiberalEurope held the GPO together for just over three weeks – and, we now know, went from using it as a cynical tool of self-protection to participating in it as a means of playing the game differently – diplomatically and, often, peacefully. Sargent Hatred I rarely spoke with but he dabbled in the Doctor Terror story too, as did Grand Space Lord Al. Sirron seemed genuinely surprised and grateful that I acted to help him, and exhibited mild remorse when he later turned on me.

Captain Wells was a steadfast, generous and helpful ally throughout the entire game, which made swallowing the bitter pill of his betrayal a little easier. I think in retrospect that the blows he and Sirron delivered to me were pre-emptive warnings rather than punitive. They had seen my willingness to get involved in peacekeeping operations and wanted to forestall any such efforts on my part. I can’t deny that it was a sensible move.

I don’t think Blueshift2k5 ever trusted me, or liked me, but he did give me such a wonderful Gift. He was great fun to play against, both squabbling over border forces and warring against towards the end of the game.

As I said elsewhere, “I found the game a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience, in part because I adopted a consistent persona and carried it through to the end game, and in part because of the way my experiences defied so many conventions of Neptune’s Pride, but mostly because the other players engaged with everything that happened with as much enthusiasm as I did.

“That’s right: I feel closer to these people because of Neptune’s Pride. I told you we defied almost every convention.”

I’m not really sure I can say it better than that.

If you’ve been reading this series then it’s fairly obvious which conventions we defied and how we played the game differently to what might be expected. Neptune’s Pride’s mechanics encourage you towards playing the game a certain way, but really its toolbox is simple and flexible enough to allow much more than that. Sure, you need to fill in the blanks yourself… but since when was having to apply a little imagination a bad thing?

Thanks for reading.

Proud Hardshelled Starwarrior

[Addendum: I wrote this finale a week and a half ago at the same time as Part 3, so some additional revelations emerged in the comment thread after this was written. I had hoped to edit this a bit before it went live but due to non-AR commitments (the less fun ones) that won’t be possible. Apologies! If you desire more then I suggest looking over our discussions in the comment threads – most of the game’s players show up at some point!]