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Subject: New to this series - updates on future release? rss

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Caleb
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Just ordered this game - it should arrive at my parents' while I'm there for Christmas - hoping my son and I can interest Grandpa in it

I've read several threads, most several months/years old, on the 'next steps' for this series. Any updates on timing, etc. of future releases? I've got the Aliens on my wishlist pending what I expect to be a good experience with Humanity. I like the nod to Imperium/Dark Nebula and the simple game play. Hoping this series will continue.
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Lance McMillan
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I won't go into particulars, but the third expansion (Us-versus-Them) is about 80% complete. The new systems (small craft/carriers, and unexplored terrain) have all been tested and work well. All that still needs to be done is to construct new scenarios (we're anticipating 6-12 of them) and test them for balance.

The "problem" is that VPG's marketing analysis suggests that the games' current format/pricepoint isn't optimal and some re-structuring may be necessary. For example, customers will come up to the VPG booth at conventions, look at 'StarBorders' and as a lot of interested questions about it or say they played a friend's copy and really liked it, but then put SB down and buy a different SciFi themed game instead (like, say, 'Imperial Stars') because it costs about 60% of what SB does, even though they admit they'd rather get SB. Accordingly, the current thinking is to make future SB releases cheaper (and thus smaller), and that's requiring us to revise our thinking about what will go into each upcoming expansion (and the total number of expansions we envision).
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Caleb
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Thanks for the response. It does seem like, from a components perspective, (aside from the mounted system boards) it could be made more similar to the smaller-format games like Imperial Stars with a corresponding price reduction. I don't know anything about the economics of game production, however, so I may be way off. But maybe ditching the mounted boards would enable future products to be closer to the $30 price point than the $50 one. You've included the paper boards anyway so everyone would have matching components for combining the games.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to playing - it's supposed to arrive either Friday or Saturday at my parents' house and I'll break it out with my son immediately, assuming I can tear him away from Commands & Colors: Ancients
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Lancer4321 wrote:
I won't go into particulars, but the third expansion (Us-versus-Them) is about 80% complete.

I think you mean the third game in the series, rather than third expansion, yes? It would actually be the second expansion since the initial game can't really count as expansion.

Or has there been one published beyond Humanity and Aliens I'm not aware of?

And I'm really looking forward to more of these! I'm especially looking for the one that introduces multiplayer scenarios.
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Chris Hansen
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Great news regarding the status of the third game, Us-versus-Them. I am less than thrilled however to hear that VPG is contemplating yet another component change. I already purchased a 2nd copy of Star Borders: Humanity so that it would match with the Aliens game new components, and now it sounds like VPG are going to change things yet again?

I understand the reasoning, but still...that's uncool man, uncool. shake
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Lance McMillan
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sos1 wrote:
I think you mean the third game in the series, rather than third expansion, yes?


Correct -- there have only been two games released in the SB series thus far: Humanity and Aliens. There have been two editions of Humanity, and the first isn't really compatible with Aliens (the basic system and unit ratings essentially the same, but the graphics were changed significantly and there were new/additional scenarios, cards, and a few new units included in the 2nd edition).

As for components (e.g. mounted maps), that was a VPG decision. I personally would have preferred sticking with the original (1st edition) format, but I learned long ago that my artistic notions differ noticably from the mainstream, so I always defer to Alan on these sorts of matters.

As things currently stand, the thinking for U-v-T is to divide it into two separate expansions. The first will include the additional ships for the four existing factions, scenarios mixing those factions together, a new neutral sector map (and possibly a new home sector map for each faction) and rules/scenarios for both 3- and 4-player matches. The second would add in the "unknown galaxy" aspect, possibly a couple new maps, "campaign" rules (e.g. linked scenarios that you play in sequence), and possibly a new faction (we have two new ones mostly done, and another one in the conceptual stage). Again, the issue is to keep the price point for these future projects reasonably accessible, so some stuff may need to get cut.

ichirou wrote:
...less than thrilled however to hear that VPG is contemplating yet another component change... I understand the reasoning, but still... that's uncool man, uncool.


You'll get no argument from me on that account, Chris. I wasn't convinced the first "component upgrade" was needed, and I'm even more positive that another is absolutely the wrong way to go. But I don't have a lot of say in the matter...
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Paolo D'Ulisse
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Ichirou wrote:
Great news regarding the status of the third game, Us-versus-Them. I am less than thrilled however to hear that VPG is contemplating yet another component change. I already purchased a 2nd copy of Star Borders: Humanity so that it would match with the Aliens game new components, and now it sounds like VPG are going to change things yet again?

I understand the reasoning, but still...that's uncool man, uncool. shake


+1... I decided to buy both the games only when I knew of the expansions and the multiplayer capability! ninja
This game as an alternative to the various Twilight Imperium/Eclipse/Space Empires etc. for a multiplayer sci fi game night would be great...
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Jim Riley
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The splitting of U vs T new expansions as you describe is ok with me. I enjoy the system and would continue to buy expansions at the current (slightly high) price point but not if they are not physically compatible with the existing games. A non compatible "third edition" would be crazy and would end my future commitment to the game. I could live with paper maps only but hope that the slimming down of content in each expansion for a more competitive price will allow the existing high quality of components to continue.
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j b Goodwin

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Thanks for this honest reply. I've gotten several copies of SB:H, and it was one of my favorite games, but when the reissue/upgrade came, the price was beyond my budget, especially unfortunate as the sequel (which was not compatible with my first edition) was also soon out. I would like to play in this wonderful game series again, if VPG and I can come to a meeting of wallets!
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Alan Emrich
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Quote:
I would like to play in this wonderful game series again, if VPG and I can come to a meeting of wallets!


That's the plan. IMPERIAL STARS II has shown us the way. I'm not sure when we'll get back to STAR BORDERS (Lance and I both have a lot of projects going one), but we both love SB and will get there one day!

Alan Emrich
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Jason Webster
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I Hope You get back to the Star Borders series soon!
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Lance McMillan
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Dnasearchr wrote:
I Hope You get back to the Star Borders series soon!


+1 whistle
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Paolo D'Ulisse
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Lancer4321 wrote:
Dnasearchr wrote:
I Hope You get back to the Star Borders series soon!


+1 whistle


+2!!
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Caleb
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I know it's only been a couple months since the last post here, but any word on direction of the next expansion? I saw a note a few weeks ago that an expansion to Imperial Stars II is in the works. I prefer this game to that, so I'm bummed if that's going to take VPG resources away from development of the next installment in the Star Borders series.
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Alan Emrich
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Quote:
I know it's only been a couple months since the last post here, but any word on direction of the next expansion? I saw a note a few weeks ago that an expansion to Imperial Stars II is in the works. I prefer this game to that, so I'm bummed if that's going to take VPG resources away from development of the next installment in the Star Borders series.


Actually, you should thank your lucky stars (forgive the pun) for IMPERIAL STARS II. It has been a blessing in disguise for STAR BORDERS.

First, IMPERIAL STARS II has sold much better than STAR BORDERS, particularly through retail outlets, and continues to do so. Upon reflection, I believe we were wrong to go "high end" with STAR BORDERS, pricing it out of the market range, and should have kept it small, light, and affordable, as IMPERIAL STARS II is. This is a publishing error on my part and a lesson learned.

Second, we'll soon see how the "expansion" route for IMPERIAL STARS II works out. The first expansion should be released by mid-August, and the second is largely done awaiting some further adjustments as to how we'll manufacture the different geomorphic maps sections. Those two expansions for IS2 may well close out this game series. At least, I haven't heard anything different about that from designer Chris Taylor (and I don't have anything in mind to add), so I think that could well be "a wrap" for IS2. Chris has other fish to fry these days, and we still need him to goose and juice ASTRA TITANUS and FORLORN: HOPE from that same universe so we can get amazing boxed versions of those games out in the future. Besides, he's Chris Taylor, and we'll do what HE wants!

So, regarding STAR BORDERS, designer Lance McMillan and myself are planning to relaunch this series ("yet again?" I hear you cry... I know, I know). This time the game will emerge using the proven-successful IMPERIAL STARS II size/price point model to help ensure its success and longevity. And, yes, everything republished should be totally backward compatible for present owners...

WHEN that might happen is anyone's guess. This project, although reasonably far along, is currently not on a burner, and Lance and I have a lot of other game projects to get out first, including the next NAPOLEONIC 20 series game (ESPANA 20 vol 2), THE AFRICAN CAMPAIGN, and the first installment of FRANK CHADWICK'S ETO: Campaigns in Russia (which is huge).

But Lance and I both have a very strong love for STAR BORDERS, believe me. This is a project that we're not going to forget, but we expect a lot of impatience out there while we get these other projects done and clear a slot in the queue for it again. I'm sorry it's that way, but there's the plain truth from the Big World of Game Publishing...

Alan Emrich
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Chris Hansen
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Thanks for the open and honest post Alan. Admitting that mistakes were made, but lessons were also learned is a good thing and more than many companies would do. Also glad to hear that Imperial Stars has done well as it's a great little system.

As for Star Borders, it looks like it will be a couple of years before we see more, but it sounds like you have a lot on your plate at the moment. However I think you'll probably have to do a big selling campaign on this when it comes time for the next expansion, particularly since you will need to convince people to buy the earlier games yet again for compatibility. Or for the third time for some in the case of the first game.
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Paolo D'Ulisse
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Alan I undestand all your points and I appreciate a lot your company (as you can see from my collection)...
But for the Star Borders series to not see published the multiplayer expansion with the same wonderful quality of the first two games (mounted maps etc...) still makes my heart bleed... zombie
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Alan Emrich
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Quote:
I think you'll probably have to do a big selling campaign on this when it comes time for the next expansion, particularly since you will need to convince people to buy the earlier games yet again for compatibility. Or for the third time for some in the case of the first game.


Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that... But our hope is that you don't have to buy the game you own over again; we want it to just plug into the new stuff. But we will be upgrading the counter graphics, I'm sure, so while the values in the old games will still be accurate, the new edition will have a more "unified" look across the series.

Quote:
But for the Star Borders series to not see published the multiplayer expansion with the same wonderful quality of the first two games (mounted maps etc...) still makes my heart bleed...


I wish there were more gamers who felt that way, but the reality is that there are not. If we're to get this entire series out, it will have to be in smaller, less-expensive bites.

Alan Emrich
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Caleb
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Alan Emrich wrote:


Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that... But our hope is that you don't have to buy the game you own over again; we want it to just plug into the new stuff. But we will be upgrading the counter graphics, I'm sure, so while the values in the old games will still be accurate, the new edition will have a more "unified" look across the series.

Alan Emrich


I'm glad you'll be working on the series again, but please Please PLEASE keep the artwork mainly consistent with the current 2 games. Owners of both of those games have a $100 investment in them and it'll be a huge bummer if they look radically different than new stuff, even if the values are consistent across.
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Alan Emrich wrote:

If we're to get this entire series out, it will have to be in smaller, less-expensive bites.

Alan Emrich


Alan and Lance,

I'll just put it out there that I'm not fond of a large number of small expansions. Expansions can end up being expensive due to shipping if their release and/or purchase is spread out. Also, and maybe I'm not typical, but if I see a game with a large number of expansions I tend to think either the base game is inadequate, or the game system is being milked with expansions of diminishing play value. (No offense to fans, but think endless Munchkin or Starfleet Battles expansions).

Have you considered stressing a low cost of entry with the base game, but then packing the rest of the material into a very small number (say two or three at most) of meaty expansions. Somebody looking at expansions presumably already knows they like the game and won't be quite so price sensitive. For me, a substantial expansion avoids the feeling of being nickel and dimed.

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Lance McMillan
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rayofsunshine wrote:
...I'm not fond of a large number of small expansions. Expansions can end up being expensive due to shipping if their release and/or purchase is spread out... For me, a substantial expansion avoids the feeling of being nickel and dimed.


Totally understand (and to a large extent personally agree), but that unfortunately runs counter to what marketing stats are telling VPG. The whole point of the "re-boot" is that the price point of the two existing modules is simply too high for most potential customers: at conventions (and presumably on the VPG website, or on Amazon) people will look at the game and say, "wow, that looks cool" and then look at the pricetag, put it down, and pick up one of VPG's other (cheaper) SciFi titles and purchase that instead.

The sad reality is that even with all of the very positive feedback we've received on StarBorders, its sales don't justify keeping it in inventory any longer. If we're going to release the additional content we planned to put into the expansions, the games need to be physically re-structured to the point where VPG can market them at a price which will generate the volume of sales needed to keep the series moving forwards.

Does that make sense?
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Lancer4321 wrote:

... at conventions (and presumably on the VPG website, or on Amazon) people will look at the game and say, "wow, that looks cool" and then look at the pricetag, put it down, and pick up one of VPG's other (cheaper) SciFi titles and purchase that instead.
...
Does that make sense?


Absolutely. However, I'm not sure I made my point. I was speculating that it's on the very first buy-in to the system that the price comparison is most important. Right now each Starborders title is standalone. If you instead define a single entry point into the system, then that's the most important title to make low cost, and maybe, maybe, the rest of the series is a little less price sensitive.

If the current price structure of the six module series (as described on the back of the Humanity rulebook) is roughly this:

$50 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50

and you`re competing against this (Imperial Stars II for example):

$30 + $15

then perhaps:

$30 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50 + $50

is almost as good as:

$30 + $30 + $30 + $30 + $30 + $30

but if at all possible, please don't do this to me:

$30 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15 + $15

if anything I'd rather see:

$30 + $50 + $50 + $50

All of the above aside, it seems clear to me there are cost savings to be had in the current presentation. I mean, make a call on mounted vs unmounted maps, don't include both. The mounting of the terrain effects chart and turn countdown track is unnecessary as is them being separate components. The scenario cards could probably go in a scenario booklet if that cuts cost. If it's cheaper to give me a more conventional black text on white paper rule book, my eyes will thank you.

I hope VPG can figure out a way to move forward with this system.


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Well, Alan's the marketing guru for VPG -- I'm just the designer, so anything about "packaging" is pure speculation on my part.

What I suspect we'd be looking at are three "base" modules (basically the re-worked versions of the existing 'Humanity' and 'Aliens' boxes, and another one with two other races) with price points set at perhaps $30-$35. These would each be compatible but completely stand-alone games. Then there's a series of expansion modules, each probably in the $25-$30 range, each of which would require at least one of the "base" games to play and would add to the various concepts and systems in the overall StarBorders universe. How many expansions there will be depends on how much content we can squeeze into each box and still keep them within the target price range, and how many new ideas Alan and I come up with. And therein lies the rub...

Every time Alan and I sit down and start working on StarBorders we keep coming up with other new things to add: "...wouldn't it be neat if...?" And that generates the foundation for another new expansion module. Honestly, when I first created the prototype it wasn't even intended as a serious game, just a quick knock-off to respond to Alan's challenge of "I've got 16 extra counters on this sheet, can anyone come up with a game that uses only 16 counters?" Then we added to that and thought "what if we created other races whose fleets had a different 'feel' to them?" And then "what about fighters?" and "what about exploration of unknown systems?" and "what if you could move ships off the warp lines?" and so on... So we really don't have a firm grasp on how many expansion modules there are going to be -- not infinite, certainly, but there's no final number yet.

So I'm not sure that answers your question, but it gives you some idea of the issues we're dealing with.
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Steffan O'Sullivan
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I only want one thing: multiplayer rules/expansion compatible with the two second-edition games I have. Will that be forthcoming?
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Lance McMillan
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sos1 wrote:
I only want one thing: multiplayer rules/expansion compatible with the two second-edition games I have. Will that be forthcoming?


I certainly hope so, but the ball's in VPG's court.
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