LATEST NEWS - PROGRESS REPORT
The new version 2.0 software is now ready to run. It probably doesn't look all that different from the old version, at first sight anyway. If you know it only from the original version produced by Waveney Games then it'll be very different, of course, as our version already had a lot of stuff added (see the link at the top of the page for the version history).
The major changes are an expansion for up to fifteen players, an extension to allow company share dealings so that companies can hold shares in each other and rules to require plant to be assigned permanently to specified production lines. The startup positions are different, as I've thrown out the share-buying round in the startup turn (which had very chancy results, and very much favoured the experienced players). Everyone gets an allocation of shares so that each player at the start is in control of one company. This makes sure you're right into the action at the start with a company to run. You might not get to keep it very long, though.
You now recruit staff on a permanent basis, or pay extra for overtime and temporary staff. Multiple shifts allow plant to be used more than once per turn (at extra cost). The turn order has been changed so you know the results of your buying and selling on the market when you write your orders, but deals with other players occur at the start of the turn (so that if you're missing an essential commodity, you can still chase around the other players looking for a deal).
There are also some extra companies which can't be controlled by the players but whose shares can still be bought and sold, and whose profits depend on what the other companies are doing (agency staff, recruiting, banking, stock and commodity brokers, import and export brokers, storage, construction and advertising - ten in all). This should even up the balance between share dealing and running companies: in the old version your couldn't really achieve much just by dealing in shares. I've done away with salaries, since you can always make a few bob from the service companies.
Buying & Selling
The routines that handle buying and selling (both shares and commodities) have been completely replaced. Most transactions are now direct between companies (or direct with consumers) rather than having stuff bought and sold in and out of a central pool (a very odd and complicated way of going about it). Instead of deciding competition for sales and purchases in proportion to the number attempted we've added options to set your own prices (the lowest prices gets the sale, and the highest price makes the purchase).
We've replaced the ordering system with one of our action-driven systems so that instead of having to order every detail for every company each turn you instead set targets and stock levels which stay in force from turn to turn - until you change them. The companies buy and sell stuff to try to achieve the stock level you've asked for. This should be a lot more reliable and a lot less sensitive to errors, and allow you to order a lot more stuff with less effort, because you don't have to keep ordering the same things over and over. Left unordered a company will get slowly less and less efficient, but it shouldn't fall apart.
There's now a storage cost for holding stocks of commodities, so you can't pile stuff up for free. If you can manage to acquire the raw materials you need, run them through production and then sell the stuff you make, all in the same turn, then that's when your costs are lowest and your profits are higher.
Share dealings are handled in a similar way. You decide what shareholding you want an the price you're prepared to pay, and your stock broker attempts to achieve it. The same instruction might stay in force for several turns, and might do nothing until the share price rises or falls to the value you've decided. This should mean the stock market develops proper trends, rather than having inidividual share prices swingly back and forth independently. A share that's rising one turn will probably rise again next turn, unless the players change their orders or the share price moves too far.
The new game should be a lot more responsive than the old one. It should be easier to make things happen, and when things you've ordered don't happen as you hoped then you should get a clear indication of why, and wht to do about it. Usually it'll be that someone else offered a better price.
Another advantage will be that the software is being completely rewritten in-house so the game will be properly integerated with our support systems (so you get player messages, message files, email reports and the option for emailing turnsheets). And now thatit's our own software it'll be that much easier to make changes in future.