Neptune's Pride is a free multiplayer game of space conquest played in your browser - incredibly slowly. You each start with a few stars, you get a daily allowance of dollars to upgrade them with, and you can send the ships they churn out to colonise or conquer other systems.
That's when the slow bit kicks in: ships take hours, sometimes even days, to reach their destination. The idea is that you log in, buy a few more science, industry or economy points for your stars, make sure your ships are heading where you want them, then get on with your day.
It's essentially very simple, the complexity is all in who you befriend, attack, trust or betray. So when PC Gamer, Rock Paper Shotgun and friends started an eight-player game, things got a bit fraught - the game ended up taking a month to unfold. This is the story of how it all went wrong.
Phill Cameron/Poisoned Sponge, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Tom Francis, PC Gamer
Kieron Gillen, Rock Paper Shotgun
Hentzau, Freelance Soldier of Fortune
Chris Pelling, Inventive Dingo Games
Quinns, Rock Paper Shotgun Affiliate
Jim Rossignol, Rock Paper Shotgun
Graham Smith, PC Gamer
This diary will be going up in seven parts, one a day, both here and simultaneously over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun. We'll just take out the part where Quintin says Tom sucks, and call everyone wusses in the ed's comments.
Kieron: I didn't have a clue. While I'd quickly rounded up people to join a game, I didn't have time to actually read any of the rules. The game started on Friday, so the opening weekend was me flying without anything other than my base strategy skills to guide me. Economy? Sounds useful. Industry appears to make ships... yes, some of that. He who has the best science tends to win, so I'll take that. And what to research? Weapons, as I don't really get what the other stuff is for, and bigger guns are generally SEXY. All the sexy comes from the barrel of the gun, to quote Communism's Mr Sexy Mao.
And what to do with my ships? Well, just send them off. As quickly as possible, claiming as many stars as possible. I mean, territory grab is paramount in all these sort of games.
These are all fair assumptions. They pretty much immediately screw me.
Crispy: My initial thought processes were much the same as Kieron's, but with less care and attention and more "ooh shiny shiny clicky clicky!"
I, too, sent out a wave of spaceships to do some early game land-grabbing. Unfortunately, I was hampered by two immediate problems.
One of the technology categories Neptune takes such pride in is range, which governs the maximum distance that can be crossed by a single hyperspace jump. Jumps can only be made directly between star systems - and immediately Galactic North of my starting area was a vast empty gulf, containing no star systems. A gulf I therefore couldn't cross without first upgrading my range.