The Allied Electronic Simulations (also known as Allied Electronic Sims or AES) was a simming group that was created on August 20, 1997 under the name "Allied Email Simulations". Its name was changed, with the "E" becoming "Electronic" in January 1998 to reflect the group's attempt to expand its stable of games to include non-email mediums such as IRC. At its height, AES offered approximately forty-three e-mail simulations (35 of which were considered active). AES folded sometime between 2008 and 2010.
The founding members of AES were the bulk of what was then (in 1997) the Email Division of the Federation Sim Group (FSG). The Division was originally under the management of Derrik Lange, then GM of Outpost 77, and the division grew to include over 8 active games.
In July 1997, Derrik Lange had to step down as division manager due to time restraints due to his full time job. The management position was offered to Dennis Busse, then GM of the Enterprise-E. In the first few months after taking on the job, the division had doubled in size and was considering offering non-Star Trek games. The flipside to the rapid growth was that game quality started to become an issue.
In late August 1997, the leader of FSG abruptly announced his retirement. As he was also providing the bulk of the Internet services to the group, including listservers for the email games, he withdrew the services. This resulted in a rather chaotic 48 hour period in which GMs were forced to fall back to running their games by having players send their post to all the other players manually. At the same time, FSG's management was working towards restablishing some form of group management. While it was natural that resources such as listservers -- quite rare for a group to have at the time, given their cost -- would be delayed in being established, the lack of easy means to post game logs was deemed serious by the GMs of the email division.
After a quick sounding of the GMs of the division, the division manager decided that they would split off into their own group, with the hope that they would have better luck finding their own resources from within. By early September, AES was officially in operation -- without much in the way of resources, but a loyal player base spread across 19 individual games. Eventually, the then-GM of the USS Galaxy, Mark Williams, provided the group with its own domain name, website, and listservers, and AES was truly a sim group by December 1997.
The organization of AES was not planned out in advance; the division manager simply became the chief operating officer (COO) of AES, much in the same way that FSG was organized. The only major change was that ranking did not factor into one's position in the group -- thus, a GM could be a commodore or admiral in their game if they felt it was necessary, and not require the appropriate permission or promotion from the group. The COO was the go-to person for the admission of new games into the group, as well as other managerial roles such as maintaining the group's website.
In early 1998, the workload of the group had advanced enough that the COO instated the office of the assistant operating officers (AOOs). Two were chosen from the group's GMs: Mark Williams and Colin Pinnell. The role of the AOO was somewhat nebulous and often ignored by the COO, and as the COO's work and college studies increased, the quality of AES began to decline. At about the same time, personal issues began to spill over into the AES Staff mailing list, which was the primary means of administering the group. This was also when the group changed its name and began to actively seek an IRC presence, to draw in new pools of players and games.
By late May 1998, AES was at a crossroads. AES Staff had become so clogged with email traffic that in one week, it clocked over 125 individual emails, the COO was suffering a nervous breakdown, and GMs were abandoning the group or ignoring the staff mailing list. Dennis Busse resigned as COO, and the group underwent a major reorganization into a group that was run by a GM council, with each GM having say over their own game as before, and made up of working groups that split major decisions (such as approval of new games) into subcommittees led by Moderators. At the time of the reorganization, there were an estimated 33 active games in the group.
The group continued to flourish as one of the Internet's larger PBeM RPG communities, including its notable "Helm Guild" and long-running games such as the Atlantis, Galaxy, Sovereign, Enterprise, and Outpost 77. By February 2000, the group had an estimated 43 active games running with an average player count of around 20 players per game. In fact, many of the games that have been added to the AES stable over its existence come from those created by players within existing games.
Despite AES' popularity, it too has suffered from the major decline in "traditional" Internet roleplaying outlets due to the rising popularity and availability of graphical MMORPGs. By September 2008, the group had been reduced to two active games. It went defunct sometime before 2011.
Items Of Note
Aside from being one of the larger sim groups on the Internet, AES was also among the first sim groups to adopt the idea of accountability on the part of GMs. Each game was required to submit a monthly status report -- later changed to an every-other-month reporting period -- to confirm that their game was indeed active and to help identify games that either needed to be released from the group or who needed recruiting assistance.
AES was also one of several groups that participated in "The Neutral Zone" -- one of the earlier attempts at getting simulation groups to cooperate with each other, as opposed to the then-traditional bashing and competition.
The fallout of AES' problems in 1998 resulted in three rather unique things:
The first was that AES' new organizational model was unique among sim groups. Gamemasters were no longer required to be a part of the group's operational core, but could instead opt to select a delegate or proxy. Likewise, the running of the group was broken into smaller workgroups, allowing staff to pick and choose participatory voting in what they were most interested in.
The second was that AES became one of the first and few groups to actually have a documented history in terms of its games and the vital statistics about those games. This data, gathered between 8/1997 and 6/1998, and 2/2000 and 6/2001, offered the first statistical proof that PBeMs, as viable gaming methods, were beginning to decline in popularity.
The last unique thing was a series of observations, published by AES' COO shortly after his resignation in 1998. These observations were an analysis of the common organizational structures that sim groups operated under at the time, as well as using the previously mentioned data and personal experience to support the "sim group operational cycle". In its essence, the cycle posed the concept that the rise and fall of groups was inevitable and proceeded through predictable stages.
What Others Have Said
Many of our sims have their stories intertwined. A mission that I did in the first "chapter" of my sim, the USS Sovereign, for instance, has been used by the GM of the USS Knight for a long-running subplot for his character (who is a man out of time, so to speak). That was something negotiated between he and I and he and I alone. It's up to us to keep the story 'straight'. AES doesn't have a "fleet" history or database or whatnot however a lot of our simulations do have common elements like the one I just mentioned. The group that begat AES started about eight years ago and this left us with a large number of Old Guard simulation closures last year - seven years, it seems, is not only a common number amongst the TV shows. Of these simulations there were many characters who had had their careers span a few and, as well, players tend to cross over and use characters of similar lineage. We, the GMs, tend to keep track of that lineage and it ties our simulations together and does create a "fleet"-style grouping within the club. Not all GMs are interested in this sort of thing and so they don't bother, just like the rest of AES if you're in for a penny, then you're in for a penny. The rest is up to you.