Last Updated 3/10/05
Page Author: Ben Hallert

A Tactical Starship Simulation

One of the last major features to undergo development before the Begin developers disappeared from public view was the ability to define scenarios of various battles.  The feature involved creating a file that defined specific ship types, orders, locations, and names.  It appears that a game played twice with the same inputs would have the same result,  leading to the intriguing idea of establishing baseline battles for trying new tactics while maintaining a stable reference point.  This conjecture is based purely on a brief examination of the file format and observed behavior, but it is first and foremost a guess.

The scenarios are distributed in the form of a single .SCO file which contains the above data and is invoked like this:

C:\begin2\> begin2.exe scenario boarders.sco

In the above example, the scenario is the boarders.sco file.  The "scenario" command line signals to the game that the next argument will be the filespec. 

Scenario Editor
Within days of finding the community, the developers released their scenario compiler to the group!  With a definition of the file format in hand and a working compiler, one of the members put together a user friendly front-end to make generating these setups easier.  Castral01's ( 32-bit 'Scenario Tool' unlocks several interesting features in Begin2. 

You can:

Download here: Scenario  (readme.txt)

As you make playable .SCO files, email them here and/or to the Yahoo group to share with others.

Early Scenarios
When the developers found the Begin Yahoo! group, they posted some of the early scenarios they had been working on:

Scenario 1 - "The Kobayashi Maru" (right click here to download)
The most memorable and immediately identifiable simulated battle in Star Trek was featured in The Wrath Of Khan.  In the movie, the Enterprise receives a call from a disabled freighter deep in the Neutral Zone.  As they move to offer aid, the signal breaks off and they are attacked by wave after wave of Klingon D7 Battle cruisers.  The simulated Enterprise is eventually destroyed, and the scenario is shown to be a test not primarily of tactical prowess, but instead of a Captain's performance under the severe pressure of a no-win scenario.  The early scenario has some things in common, namely, a tanker named 'Kobiashi Maru', and it is both disabled and in danger of attack by the Thantos, a Romulan War Eagle, but past that, it's origin as an early test subject for the scenario logic is apparent.  As you enter the game, the hapless freighter transmits a plea for assistance, and any red-blooded captain would be compelled to respond.  The Romulan War Eagle, easily dispatched by your Heavy Cruiser, is not followed by wave after wave of relentless Romulans, but is instead allowed to escort the motionless tanker unharmed.  If the fates smile on us, the developers may produce an updated scenario with more ships or, better yet, an enemy generation system to create the almost but not quite beatable waves of incoming ships.  A game of attacks coming in squadrons with ever increasing fleet sizes as you dispatch them would provide hours of fun.  Further in the future, a device for demarcating borders would do well to increase immersion.  A crew member warning me about the upcoming Neutral Zone or a line of text from the ship computer announcing that we are in violation of Treaty XYZ would be neat.

Scenario 2 - "Boarders!" (right click here to download)
This scenario puts you in the Dreadnought USS Invincible.  You have nothing on your scanners, but ahead, there are three Orion Anarchists and a Grappler heading towards you, ostensibly with the intention of converting your proud ship into the newest member of their rag-tag fleet.  The Orion torpedoes are designed to cripple and neutralize ships without destroying them, and the massive crew of the Grapplers make it economical to take over ships by straight attrition, but for some reason, the scenario crashes almost immediately as I enter the game.  Within a command or two, the game exits on my laptop with the message "Unknown sif call", so I can't report on the playability.  I expect a DN to make short work of the three Anarchists, but if they attach from different angles at the same time, they could definitely post a threat.  If this scenario functions for you, let me know so I can add a PIREP to this page.

Scenario 3 - "Convoy" (right click here to download)
This final scenario is exactly the kind of game I used to set up on my own all the time.  You start out with two destroyers, yourself in the USS Evans and Captain Nizhawa on the USS Prescott.  You're escorting seven Tankers to rendezvous with the USS Nelson, a Dreadnought that's almost 14 minutes away at convoy speed (Warp 3).  There are two Klingon Battle Cruisers, the Growler and the Snarler, who have other things in mind for the fleet, so your mission is to take them out so the tankers can get away.  The Nelson is seven minutes away, so you're either going to need to take out these ships on your own or do something to pull them away from the tanker fleet until help arrives.  This mission is a lot of fun, and I wish I had seen it years ago before I learned so many tricks in the game.  It's not as hard as some battles I've been in, but it's a lot of fun.

To use:
Download the above files to your begin2 directory and launch them as shown above.  Example command line format is 'begin2 scenario convoy.sco'.  When the game starts, you will be asked to specify your name.  Your race and that of the enemy is already defined in the scenario file, so that'll be the only question.

The scenarios in their current form are very promising.  If the method for designing them is distributed to the players, there should be a number of really cool fights available quickly.  If the developers open up their old development environments and made a few more additions to this, it could be the most exciting development in the game since capturing ships was introduced.  Stay tuned or join the yahoo group for more info as the story unfolds.

Begin: A Tactical Starship Simulation is (c) 1988 Clockwork Software.  Star Trek properties are copyright Paramount Pictures.