Friday, January 12, 2007

Game Year Update

Well, Brendan's working on the map for our big Diplomacy game, and has set the number of players to 18 14, so now we have a particular number of slots. One thing Brendan requested to help inspire ideas for the map: Some history of the fictional world soon to be ruled under my not-quite-iron fist we'll be playing in. Remember that the genre and such aren't being restricted, so go wild with your imagination. One idea I'm fond of for the moment is floating islands with an airforce substituting for fleets.

baldywilson has offered his 133t code monkey skills for programming a server to handle the board, and Rev. BigDumbChimp has offered a machine to act as said server.

The player list:

1. Bronze Dog (duh)
2. Austin Atheist
3. Rev. BigDumbChimp
4. JackalMage
5. xiangtao
6. Infophile
7. baldywilson
8. Brendan
9. Bourgeois_Rage
10. Akusai
11. Greedy Algorithm
12. Nes

If you'd like to join, say so in the comments (unambiguously, please), and I'll add you to the list. Here's a tutorial for the new players.

While you're here, I'd also like ideas for what to call the big game. Would help it become a regular event or something if we enjoy it enough.


Unknown said...

As the list indicates, I'm not on board yet. Let's change that, and add an unambiguous statement of intent. I'm down for the game!

Clint Bourgeois said...

I hereby declare my unambiguous intent to submit my name to this playing of Diplomacy: The Bronze Age OR The Dog Fight.

I'll be playing as a Diplomacy newbie.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Woo Fu

Infophile said...

Okay, fine, I'm in for sure. As for a name, how about "Skeplomacy"?

And a Skies of Arcadia feel (flying islands, air battles) would be so cool. Damn that was a good game. Only problem was that it was released on the wrong system originally. The Gamecube released helped a ton, though.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah, sounds like a good idea, Info. Simple and I like portmanteaus.

baldywilson said...

I'm still definately in.

For the coding, one thing that's bothering me at the moment is whether the Diplomacy (conversation) part going to be conducted via private e-mail - ie. uncensored by the system - or is it going to be regulated?

I'm personally of the opinion that the ideal would be for it to be regulated. In this way no communication could be possible during the withdrawal phase. That, obviously, would require more code, so I think it's something that could be added later, but it could - potentially - skew the withdrawals as a tactical process which was deliberately excluded by the original game, but could make it more "interesting".

I'd also be interested in how precise people would be prepared to make their final orders on each turn, and for withdrawals. By this I mean, would people be happy to send an e-mail saying (for example):


I'd prefer it to be a pure point-and-click system, but I must admit to having real problems working out how it would really make sense.

Any thoughts on either of these will be gratefully received.

Bronze Dog said...

I'm not sure we could really regulate all the negotiations. If you're really concerned about the withdrawl phase, maybe you could put some kind of time limit.

Idea I just had, though I don't know much about the coding end: Some emails send a receipt when they're read, right? Maybe you could set it up so that when the player reads his combat results, he has a short period of time to perform the operation.

I'm a bit hesitant about the above concept, though, as well as over-regulation: Want the game to be fairly casual.

Maybe you could make it so that players have to view combat results and deal with them at the same time. Maybe give them, say, 30 minutes to handle it. Would suck to lose the connection during that time, though.

As for the appearance of point and click, suppose you could do different colored arrows for each type of action, say red for move/attack, green for support, and blue for convoy. Maybe a yellow circle for hold.

TabAtkins said...

On the interface:
Once you realize how similar everything is, the interface just falls into place. Look at this suggested flow scheme.

1) I am shown a map of the world, with all the units placed in their provinces. Below the map, a "Finish Turn" button is shown.

2) I click on a province which contains one of my units. A "Give Orders" button appears in the province.

3) I click the "Give Orders" button.

4) The "Give Orders" button becomes "Cancel"
Next to the "Cancel" button there is a "Hold" button.
In neighboring provinces, a "Move" button appears if they are empty, an "Attack/Support/Cut" button appears if they are occupied by an enemy, a "Convoy" button appears if they are occupied by one of my 'ships' (whatever they turn out to be) in a 'sea' province, and nothing appears otherwise.

5a) I click "Cancel". My order is finished. Nothing appears, as no order is given. The "Give Orders" button reappears, and all other buttons disappear.

5b) I click "Hold". My order is finished, and the HOLD icon appears on/next to my unit.

5c) I click "Move" or "Attack/Support/Cut". My order is finished, and the MOVE or A/S/C icon appears on my unit. Preferably, this would be an arrow pointing in the direction they are going.

5d) I click "Convoy". "Move", "A/S/C", and "Convoy" buttons appear as appropriate in the provinces adjacent to the convoying province, as determined by the above rules. The order is not finished until a "Cancel", "Move", or "A/S/C" button is pressed. This should be indicated by the moving province having a MOVE icon of a different color, and the convoying province having a HOLD icon of the same different color.

6) With the move finished, all buttons dissapear. One can now click on the same or different provinces to bring up the "Give Orders" button again. A nice touch would be for the "Give Orders" button to indicated "Reassign Orders" if the province already has orders set, just to indicate it again.

7) I click the "Finish Turn" button. A summary (either abbreviated or in English) of your orders appears below the button. Below the orders, a "Confirm End Turn" button appears, along with a "DO NOT END TURN YET" button.

8a) I click "Confirm End Turn". The orders are sent off to you, and a confirmation message appears on the screen.

8b) I click "DO NOT END TURN YET". The order summary dissapears along with the buttons, returning you to the image of the board and the "Finish Turn" button.

Is that what you were looking for? If not, then I apologize for taking up all this room!

As for moderated talk and withdrawal phase, I'm going to have to say no. Several of us know each other's emails already, so it would give us an unfair advantage over those who we don't know (and we would be forced to exploit that advantage). Without moderated chat, there's no way to guarantee that the withdrawal phase is secret. I say just abandon that. We can lie to our heart's content, or strategize like little bastards.

Oh, and using the above program flow, it should be obvious how to set up the Withdrawal round as well. It would work similarly, but only allow clicking on units forced to withdraw. It should indicate which units these are prominently, and tell you if you have no need to withdraw any units. If you attempt to submit a Withdrawal order without giving *all* required withdrawals, throw an error message.

After the Withdrawal Phase, flip back to the Battle Phase, and link to a Battle Results picture that shows the map and all results (with Attacks/Supports/Cuts decided appropriately and indicated with different colors).

As for colors, I like BD's suggestions, except that I would make it Red for Attack/Support/Cut in the Battle Phase (since they're identical) and Blue for Move. In the Battle Results map, you need different colors. Perhaps Red for Attack, Orange for Support, and Green for Cut?

Don said...

I think that after much consideration and reading of a tutorial, I've decided to formally and unambiguously throw my name into the pot. I hope I don't suck as much at this as I do at chess and Risk...

One idea I'm fond of for the moment is floating islands with an airforce substituting for fleets.

A little Last Exile on the brain there, BD? I think two important questions are why and how the islands are floating. As for how, I opt for tech over magic, which, far as I can tell, are the two best options. They couldn't have always been floating. Why, then, are they floating? What's wrong with the planet underneath them and where do the inhabitants get the water they need to live?

My scenario: an advanced civilzation was overrun by zombies. The various militaries of the world were defending all the most important supply depots, and so when the high tech was developed to blast the safe zones off the zombie-infested planet, those were the obvious choices for airborne safety. Water is pulled from the air like on Tatooine.

If not zombies, then something else catastrophic, but I'm quite partial to zombies.

Unknown said...

I'm thinking (right now anyway) to go for kind of a steampunk feel, so I'm guessing it was colonized by high-tech aliens, who either died off, left, or were rebelled against. I'm not clear on why they were raised (worldwide catastrophe? Deep Impact sort of thing, maybe?) or how they stay up (probably some kind of antigravity machine. I'me guessing fusion, but I've no idea) but the current inhabitants have only recently acheived air flight, so the vast majority of airships are the massive, dirigible affairs you see in Final Fantasy and Tailspin. Because of the altitude and size of the islands, the air fleets can't really go over or under the islands, and the islands' mass keeps them from moving too fast. Probably several near-continents, just so that armies aren't obsolete. I'm guessing the current warlike scenario is due to the various nations only recently being able to communicate meaningfully with one another, and tensions are mounting from basic desires for territories. The world's suddenly got a lot smaller, and things are ready to explode.
Anyway, this is all speculative, so if anyone wants to change something or add something, give a yell.

Bronze Dog said...

I think I'd like to try out a little steampunk stuff. Helps that dirigibles would be easy to draw for educational posters intended to educate the sheep, I mean masses, of our inevitable victory.

If you're going to have aliens be involved, suppose it'd be good to have multiple species involved as the liberated slaves/discoverers of the islands/whatever, so that some of us have an excuse for our avatars. I'm already got some humorous dog-related jokes I'd include in the military reports.

Think it'd be funny if Infophile's fleet icon would be a bunch of cow painted hot air balloons.

If it's not too demanding, baldywilson, see if you can do something to let us include our own images for unit icons.

Guy Srinivasan said...

I played Diplomacy once, by email, week-long turns, several years ago. I'd love to get in on this game.

TabAtkins said...

"It all started out quiet. Revolutions tend to. An undercurrent of disruption, whispers of something happening, and then all hell breaks loose. The problem then is getting the hell bound up again. That's, er, a bit more literal these days, I suppose.

A'course, you young'uns didn't see the world before. You've never been Below. You don't know how the world used to be. Before the Grays. Before Above and Below. Before magic."

Short summary: Magic returned to the world, sometime in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, this manifested mainly as zombies. Lots and lots of zombies. It was about this time that we finally learned that we weren't alone in this universe as well, as the Grays showed up in their polished brass steamwork-and-gear spaceships. They knew of what was going on, having experienced the same effect on their own homeworld and detected the same anomaly in our star that heralded the change on their world. Unable to reach us quite in time to prevent the zombocalpyse, they did the next best thing - they gave us plans for creating large-scale hover generators to raise us far above the relentless undead host.

The generators were cobbled together by craftsman across the world, using whatever materials were at hand. Each one lifted up a few square miles of dirt, and everything on top. By the time the Grand Project was started, it was almost too late, but we got several hundred miniature islands in the air before we were completely overrun. We ended up banding together, little groups of us, so that we'd have enough farmland between us to support everyone.

Nowadays everyone still alive is Above. The undead are Below, and don't look like they'll be stopping anytime soon. The world's a crazy place now for you kids - all the ways we used to divide ourselves up were wiped away in the Grand Project, and that confused a lot of people for a long time. A lot of people are still confused a lot, and do some terrible things. But you kids have a future. You can change all of that. The whole world changed when I was only a boy, so why can't it do the same for you?"

Damnit, I switched back to narration at some point there, and now I don't want to put in the effort to keep myself consistent. Oh well.

Unknown said...

Oh my Tzeentch, YES!
I love it. Steam-powered airships, zombies, space aliens, magic, I don't think anything that makes everything AWESOME is missing! If someone really wanted to, actually, they could run a zombie-sympathetic nation, there could even be several, which would lead to tension with all of the other nations, thus precipitating war.

Clint Bourgeois said...

I, for one, welcome our new zombie overlords....

Bronze Dog said...

The zombie overlords have a place they want you to go, BR.

Unknown said...

Should we cut the number of players down to 14 or so?

Bronze Dog said...

I'm beginning to think so. Maybe we can try for 18 in 2008.

Nes said...

What's this? Zombies, steampunk, airships (presumably with pirates), magic (have we been playing too much Arcanum or Final Fantasy 6 recently?), and aliens, but no NINJAS?! Curse you all!

Though it would be my first time playing it, I would like to unambiguously declare my interest in joining this as well.

Though, no, despite my rant, I don't plan on being a ninja nation.