I've never played PBEM for a variety of reasons, but I decided to see what the mechanics of the file transfers were like. I loaded a Coral Sea game after reading the manual and played both sides through to the end. I simmed everything, including mailing myself each turn file. Have a couple of questions for PBEM vets.
1. I do not play the AI with hexes on at all. I find them visually overpowering. I especially do not play with hex sides on; that's like the Vegas Strip to my visual cortex. Am I correct in thinking that the Japanese player alone controls if hexes are showing? And that the Allied player can only, for his own side's presentation, control if hex sides are used? Do PBEM players ever get into a beef on whether hexes show at all?
The Japanese player controls how things look during the replay, and how things look when you get the turn. You can make any changes at all that you want to in appearance.
I play with hexes on, otherwise I can't see what hex I'm clicking on for my TFs. Easy to change, though and it's a hot key, I just forget which one because I don't use it.
Hex-sides (terrain) is easy to toggle on and off: it's the F6 key.
Hex-side ownership is toggled with the 'w' key.
These (and other things that you can change, range circles, etc. etc.) will have no effect on your Japanese player opponent.
2. Does it mess up either side if the Allied player adjusts the game settings he can control in the course of the game? Can each side have different Delay settings for example and it not break something as time goes on?
No messing up. But, the Japanese player controls how things look during the combat replay, and how things look when you first open the turn. If, for example you like message delays when giving orders to be different than your opponent, you will have to change them when you get the turn (every turn).
3. I use Outlook for a mail client. How do people handle file naming and file retention? It was a little weird doing both sides and having to remember to send two files for Japan, but only one for Allies. How do GC players label their e-mail so they don't load yesterday's or something? Is there an easier way to handle them than cut & pasting between the e-mail client and the Explorer pane? Do PBEM players keep a deep archive of old turns, and if so how do you label?
I have a separate AE install (just copied the top AE folder to a new name) for each PBM so the save slots (and scenarios, and artwork, etc.) never collide.
For a given PBM, I use save slot 010 for my intra-turn saves (whenever I feel like saving during the turn) and as my "saved it just before ending the turn" save. I use save slot 015 for the end-of-turn save that goes to my opponent.
Because I have done a whole lot of bug-hunting, I find it easier to take one additional step. I copy the slot 010 file into a 'saved' sub-folder and rename it to append the game date to the beginning. I also copy the slot 015 file to a 'sent' sub-folder and rename it likewise. It is this file, with the turn date as part of the name, that I send to my opponent. I figure it cuts down on confusion. Here is a file I sent last night: "1942-10-03-wpae015.pws"
I delete those files periodically, keeping roughly two game-weeks worth to help hunt bugs when the need arises.
I follow the same procedure with the turn and combat replay that I receive.
As far as email goes, I use Thunderbird and every couple of months (real-time) I clean up the folder for each PBM so it only has about a month in there.
Opponents with Outlook have at various times reported that it has problems sending and needs to be kicked in the pants.
Also some ISPs are prone to corrupting save games in transit through their own (ISP, I mean) email servers. I don't use ISP email, only Google and a for-pay service and have never had a problem on my end with the email. I did have a problem when my DSL service was all wonky and error-prone.
If you run into a problem with corruption, it helps to put the save inside something like a .zip file or.7z file. Then you will know for certain it was an in-transit problem because you will not be able to get out the file.
4. An aside: it seems like the acceleration keys work very differently than in AI play. There the space bar accelerates the movement through animations and the ESC key dumps to the combat report. In PBEM it seems that the space bar removes delay between turn phases, but the ESC key accerates the animaitons. And there was no way I could find to dump to the combat report.
I know that they do work differently in AI versus PBM because I've seen Michael and players post about that. I don't bother using them, I just watch as whatever speed my opponent has selected.
Also, I noticed that the TF reaction messages seem to be reported in PBEM while I don't recall seeing them for CVs in AI play. Also, it's disconcerting to run the combat replay and hear the "enemy ship sinking" sound effect when you didn't recently see the attack which caused it.
FOW is really good but not perfect. I play without the sound so I don't hear the sinking sounds, but others have told me they knew that a ship damaged a while back had finally sunk because of the sound.
Anyway, any help from the PBEM gurus on 1-3?