Thursday, December 28, 2006

Game Night! Er, Year?

I previously mentioned the idea of a game of Diplomacy being played by email among skeptical/atheist bloggers. Since it's getting buried under long posts, I'm expanding some of it over here.

Here are some of the ideas I'm thinking for the game.

1) We need a moderator who'd receive the emails with people's commands and post updates to the map, inform players of combat results, etcetera. (Or a program to do it for us)

2) Ideally, I'd like to be able to play a large custom non-Earth map with more than the standard 7 players. One thought I had was playing the game on a globe of some sort, but that might have a few difficulties from a programming stance: I don't know much about that sort of thing, but I imagine if the concept's advertised enough, it won't be hard to find a programmer who's willing to work on it. After it's done, it'd probably be something other people would like to use. Suspect people would like to be able to name their starting regions and supply centers. (Canis Aeneus, the impenetrable city... ...nah.)

3) I'd like a relaxed pace for turns. Lot of bloggers out there can get unexpectedly busy, so maybe just one or two turns per week. More time for players to talk about where they'll put the knives in my back, too.

Alternate game concept, just because: Heavily abstracted map: Bunch of connected nodes, handful of identical units. Some twists, such as nodes with certain features, or limited accessibility, (like land/sea/air/city/wall/whatever nodes).

If you're the coding sort, or at least willing to moderate a bunch of pieces on a physical board for a long time, be sure to email me at my gmail account or leave a comment.

EDITED TO ADD: Here's a link to a tutorial for the fellow newbies.

25 comments:

austinatheist said...

I'll play, but I don't think I'll be much help setting it up, or moderating. I'm the learn-as-you-go type when it comes to games I've never even heard of until recently.

Infophile said...

Well, I am the coding sort, but I don't have any experience with the game or a copy of my own.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Don;t have the game either but that's just a good excuse to go buy one. Count me in though for sure.

Rockstar Ryan said...

I way too stoopid.

Ford said...

I remember Diplomacy being really absorbing. Looks like tools for web or email play have been developed (links in Wikipedia).

Infophile said...

Hmm, reading about it, I'm thinking it would be a good idea to come up with a custom map. It would nullify a lot of the effect of experience with traditional Diplomacy some, though not all, of us would have, but wouldn't affect general skill. Besides, if we have more than seven players, this would be necessary.

Joshua said...

Diplomacy is the only game that has literally made me cry.

Just sharing.

Otherwise, I'd have loved to participate. ;P

Brendan said...

Well, I'm not good enough to come up with most of the tools to play this, but I'd be more than happy to design a board, if given enough creative input on what kind of playing field we'd like.

Bronze Dog said...

Well, since Ford mentioned it, there are those online ways to play mentioned that I skipped over.

Feel free to go ahead with making the map, Brendan. So far, it seems the players are: me, AA, Infophile, the reverend, JackalMage (from the earlier comment thread), and you. Don't know about Joshua and Ford.

I'm thinking we should play for an entire fictional world, maybe with some emphasis on naval battle in places (When I play Civilization, I always feel that I could do *something* with a navy, but I never really do anything.)

Feel free to throw in a twist like fantasy floating continents with an air force instead of a navy, asteroids in deep space, or whatever.

IAMB said...

My younger sibling had to play a complex variation of this game over the course of a semester while getting his international relations degree. They all felt bad about the result until the prof told them that out of 20 years, the scenario had avoided nuclear war only twice.

I'll have to see if he wants to play. I'm guessing yes, since the basic game is similar in some ways to Axis and Allies and that's one of his favorites...

Brendan said...

It'll probably take a while to come up with a good map, since I'll have to work out how to balance it for whatever number of people are playing. How many of us are there, anyway?

Bronze Dog said...

We're up to six players thus far. The upper bound of my ambitions is 20 players, so you might try for some upper teens number, and I'll just recruit up to that.

Game balance in map making: Seems it's standard for players to get three regions with supply centers, plus three empty regions. Everyone gets at least one coast supply center. Areas with two coasts get two fleets and one army at start, and those with two inland centers and one coast get two armies and one fleet. Scattered on the map are several neutral supply centers that don't initially belong to anyone.

In the standard game, Russia gets four units, since they have more area to defend or something.

Infophile said...

Russia's also the country that wins most of the time. It's also the country most often ganged-up-against early game. With that in mind, I'd recommend keeping it to just 3 supply centers for each nation.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

You think Cocksnack will want to play?

Bronze Dog said...

Doubtful: He'd expect us to all gang up on him from round one. He'd probably be right.

Rockstar Ryan said...

I would play with the sole purpose of making Cocksnack's campaign a nightmare.

JackalMage said...

I am completely fine with being moderator/updater/etc. I don't know enough about asp (or have access to a server) to code something up, but I can at least handle it manually, updating a picture of the map every combat turn and emailing everybody.

Joshua said...

I just bumped into this: http://phpdiplomacy.kuliukas.com/

Like whoa, dudes.

xiangtao said...

It seems that IAMB has volunteered me. I've never played but it does sound quite similar to our IS simulations, which were a blast (I took them as many times as the department allowed.) Count me in if the space is available.

baldywilson said...

Came across this from the skeptic's circle: I'm a C++ code monkey, but I've done Perl and MySQL. If someone can point me in the direction of a good appropriate server, I would be happy to put together some back-end code to get the thing running. I need a project to get my teeth into in my spare time :)

Otherwise, if it's still open; I learnt the rules to this game when I was a kid, but never really got to play, so I wouldn't mind being in.

Bronze Dog said...

Came across this from the skeptic's circle: I'm a C++ code monkey, but I've done Perl and MySQL. If someone can point me in the direction of a good appropriate server, I would be happy to put together some back-end code to get the thing running. I need a project to get my teeth into in my spare time :)

Ooo! I knew we'd find one eventually. I don't have a server with a permanent IP addy, but I might be able to get some help from a co-worker who runs some servers for a personal business.

One thing I imagine the freeware community might appreciate, if you've got the time: See if you can make it user friendly enough that anyone could set up a game with your program.

Higher priority: I know you're probably already thinking of it, but make sure you try to think of all the movement scenarios not covered explicitly in the rules, or at least have something to pause the game if a weird situation pops up so that we can manually correct.

Lower priority, and probably simple to do: I'd like to be able to name my armies and fleets when I create them to make giving orders easier.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

I have a server running at my house that we could use. Mind you its an ancient beast (hopefully will be upgrading soon). It has a dydns entry and a domain name so it will be accessible whenever my cable service is up (which is most of the time). I have a couple extra boxes laying around the house, I could build one and dedicate it to a game server of sorts. Now understand this isn't a highend configuration so I'm not sure it will or won't do for our needs.

baldywilson said...

Now understand this isn't a highend configuration so I'm not sure it will or won't do for our needs.

Can't see that it would need a high-end system. Perl and MySQL have a pretty low foot-print, and I don't even think - for the bandwidth you're looking at - that we even need mod_perl. I'm thinking of having a simple perl script to run the current play, and a cron job running at a given time to do the play update, so most of the time the box will be sitting idle.

Higher priority: I know you're probably already thinking of it, but make sure you try to think of all the movement scenarios not covered explicitly in the rules, or at least have something to pause the game if a weird situation pops up so that we can manually correct.

I'm going to be looking at making the moves as flexible as possible - I'm currently thinking of using an easily editable rules system (ie. a .config file) so most scenarios can be easily managed; it would also mean that the rules could be modified as required which would be good for making it more Freeware friendly. (I'm already wondering how Diplomacy would work in, say, a StarTrek universe :)

Lower priority, and probably simple to do: I'd like to be able to name my armies and fleets when I create them to make giving orders easier.

That's the easy part :-)

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Well I can load that box up with win or linux. Either way.

I can have it ready to go after you get the code monkey'd up if we don't find a better solution.

Bronze Dog said...

Posted an update on the game.