junk2drive -> PBEM/Multiplayer Questions (4/24/2011 5:41:44 PM)
A few people at various places have asked about PBEM and multiplayer in PCO. Here is that section of the manual. Hopefully this will get you ready for the Demo and release.
Panzer Command Multiplayer System
There are three methods of playing another person or yourself. Live Sync file exchange (Mulitplayer), EMail file exchange (PBM) or HotSeat.
Play by EMail
Live Sync Multiplayer system:
While you can use the new multiplayer system much like the old PBEM system (see below), it is really designed it to be totally automatic, hands off, idiot proof and maintenance free!
The concept of the new multiplayer system is based around a play group of like minded friends. Someone in the group elects to be the "leader" (you).
It is highly recommended that you use a live sync system. There are plenty of those out there now (and you can use whichever you want), but we have found that a good system is Dropbox. Go to
1. Download and install Dropbox. You get 2GB for free - which is more than enough for multiplayer files and a few scenarios and maps.
2. Tell your friends in your game group to do the same.
3. In your Dropbox folder make a new folder called "(your name)Ostfront", right click on it and share it via Dropbox. Dropbox will allow you to send out invites to your friends to access this folder. Don't forget to invite yourself first.
4. Ok now start PC via the configuration screen. (See manual for adding /c to your shortcut). Notice there are two boxes at the bottom, Player Nickname and Email directory.
5. In the Email Nickname box type a unique (for your play group) lower case only name for yourself, (such as: joe or tiger) and then select your Email Directory by using the browse button. Find the Dropbox folder which you have shared (assuming you are the leader) i.e. C:\My Documents\My Dropbox\joeOstfront. Now click the apply button and PC will remember these settings for you. Your friends need to do the same, but in this case they browse to the Dropbox folder on their computer.
6. That is it, you never need to fiddle with files or email ever again, PC will now automatically do everything for you. More on this in a bit.
Your friends can invite you to use their Dropbox folder and you then browse to that named folder in your configuration screen. Keep in mind that if you are playing multiple games with Dropbox or PBM, you will need to exit the game and browse to the proper folder location for multiplayer to find the correct files. If you and your opponents are all using the same Dropbox folder (the group leader folder) you do not have to exit and browse.
Another good idea is to make separate folders for save files and other files. In your main Dropbox folder share the (name)Ostfront folder (see 3. above). Now inside that make a Multiplayer folder (or PBEM, PBM, Save or whatever name will make it easy for your friends). This is the folder where your .sav files will be stored. Set PC up to point to this folder for the multiplayer games (see 5 above). Now also under nameOstfront make a new folder and call it Files. In here put copies of your files that opponents will need to play the battle with you. Put in this folder only your new scenarios / maps. Now it is easy for another player to simply grab those files and drag them over to their own PC install to then play the game! Wait, what files?
The above works for stock scenario battles. But what if you download a scenario or create a Random battle? You need to share these with your opponent. You can email them or use Dropbox. PC will check to see if you have the files necessary to play the battle. If you are using a stock map but your opponent doesn't have the scenario, such as with a random generated battle, PC will upload it to your Dropbox folder with the Setup file. Non Stock Maps must be handled manually. Random generated battles create an xml file in your scenario folder. When you start an MP game with a RBG scenario, it will create a unique numbered xml and place it in your Dropbox folder. If you later generate a new random battle, it will overwrite the xml file in your PC Data\Scenarios folder but not the file in your Dropbox folder.
Now that we have Dropbox set up, how do we play our friends? It is similar to the original PBEM system.
Remember with the new system you don't both need to start a game. Only one of you does and then the other waits for the invite. Contact your opponent through email, phone, text, forums, twitter, facebook or whatever you have in common and decide on a scenario, sides and player names.
Lets say Joe wants to play Tim with Return road to Kharkov. They both have PC and Dropbox and Tim has access to Joe's folders. Both players have Dropbox running with the system tray icon active.
Joe starts the game, browses to his Dropbox folder, clicks Play, then selects Multiplayer from the main menu. In the next screen, he types in tim in the opponent box, chooses a password and then clicks New Game. From here he will be taken to the set battle menu. He chooses which scenario he wants to play and which side or generates a random battle. He then moves on to TOE. He selects his forces and side and then goes into the game. He makes his setup selections and then clicks "play". The game is now saved and a Message window opens with the default Setup and a Return button. Clicking the Return button takes Joe back to the Multiplayer screen. Here he can minimize the game, refresh to check for updated files, or go back to the main menu.
Now Tim will see the tray notification for Return Road to Kharkov. Tim starts his game, makes sure he selects Multiplayer and sees New... All he needs do at this stage is click on it, type a password and then click new game. It will automatically check that he has the scenario and choose the opposing side. Tim does the same as Joe and is returned to the Multiplayer screen. Before he minimizes (or exits if he doesn't want to keep playing) he clicks the refresh button. If the file listed shows >>>> (outgoing) or <<<< (incoming) it is not ready to play. If the file shows Play, then Joe has already done his part and Tim can continue playing. This is similar to Hot Seat play but you don't need to be in the same room. While the file is in >>>> status, you can load the file and review the battlefield. You cannot change things or give orders. Click the Play arrow to exit.
Dropbox will pop up a notification (above the tray icon) when new files are added to the folder. When you see this, maximize or start the game, and continue playing your turns. If PC is left running, it will also notify you that a turn is waiting to be played. Dropbox notification can be turned off, if desired. To check the status of your folder, right click the Dropbox tray icon and place your cursor over recently changed files.
When you finish your battle and are sure you no longer need the files, simply use the delete button in the Multiplayer menu to remove the files from your computer and Dropbox. As you play and send files, PC will delete the oldest ones for you. If needed you can also open the folder on your computer and delete them manually.
This system has also been tested with Windows Live Sync. You install and invite similar to Dropbox. You do not get notifications. Click the tray icon and click Activity to see new files.
To Play By Email
Start the game with the configuration screen. Type a lower case name in the player box. Browse to your PBM folder within the PC install. Click Play.
Contact your opponent and agree on scenario, sides and player name. Select Multiplayer from the main menu. At the top right is an arrow. Use it to select PBM or HotSeat. For now, use PBM. Below, type your opponent's lower case name, your password, and click New Game. Select a scenario or create a random battle. Be sure to select the correct side. Purchase your units. Do your setup, click play. The message window opens with the default message Setup. Click return and you will be taken back to the Multiplayer menu. You may minimize the game, or go back to the main menu.
Email the file in your PBM folder. It will have your name#your side#opponent name# opponent side#scenario name#turn number#phase. The first turn will be Setup 0
If you chose a scenario that your opponent does not have or created a random battle, you must also send the xml file to your opponent. This is only necessary the first time. Your opponent puts this file in his Data\Scenarios folder.
Your opponent downloads the Setup 0 file into his PBM folder. He starts the game, with the name you agreed on, browses to his PBM folder and clicks play.
He also goes into Multiplayer from the main menu and selects PBM. He sees "Play "scenario name" vs your name (side) - Turn:# | Phase" and selects it. It puts your name in opponent and he puts in his password, clicks Load Game and is taken to his setup screen. After his setup he clicks play and gets the popup. He clicks Return and sees the Multiplayer screen with Play...Turn:1 | Orders. He again selects the line, password, clicks Load Game, gives orders, play, return, and back to Multiplayer. He can minimize or exit and go to his email provider. He replies to your email and attaches the two files with his name at the front. From this point on, you will both play two phases and email two files.
When your opponent sends you his files, download them into your PBM folder. From the Multiplayer menu, select the file "Play "scenario name" vs his name (side) - Turn:# | Phase", type in your password, click Load Game and continue the battle. You will do Orders 1, see the replay, and do Reaction 1. You will return to the Multiplayer screen.
When you reply to his email and select attach files, you will see the two files with your name, Orders 1 and Reaction 1. Setup 0 has been deleted for you. Send the two files with your name to your opponent.
He will do Reaction 1 and Orders 2 and send you two files. You will both do two phases for each email after the initial setup by player 1.
Repeat these steps until the battle is finished.
The program will delete your old files so that you always see the latest two files that you need to send to your opponent. When the battle is over, go to your PBM folder and delete the opponent files for that scenario.
Start the game with the configuration screen. Type a lower case name in the player box. Browse to your PBM folder within the PC install. Click Play. Select Multiplayer from the main menu. At the top right is an arrow. Use it to select PBM or HotSeat. Click until HotSeatGerman or HotSeatRussian appears. Enter a password and click New Game. Continue as above for PBM except when you return to the Multiplayer screen, click the top right arrow until the PLAY file appears. The player with the country shown at the top line now clicks the PLAY line, enters his password, and clicks Load Game.
Repeat these steps until the battle is finished.
The program will delete your old files so that you always see the latest two files. When the battle is over, go to your PBM folder and delete the opponent files for that scenario.
While you are waiting for your opponent to complete his turn you may review the current battlefield. From the Multiplayer menu, select a file marked >>>> and click Load Game. You will be taken to that phase as it ended. You may not make changes or give orders. Click the Play button to get the popup menu to exit.
When you end your turn you will see a popup window with an area to type in text. There is a 256 character limit. Use this feature to discuss the battle with your opponent. You will see your opponent's message when you start the next phase after setup. If you decide to review the message again after closing the window, use the ? key.
The Options screen allows you to turn on and off some game features. Yellow radio button is on, black is off. When playing a Multiplayer battle, the person starting the game controls the options for both players. These options will then be saved and used with each turn, overriding any other settings.
Verbose Messages - Allows less important events to be displayed in the Message Box
Display Shadows - Turns on shadow effects. Turning off may improve performance on some systems
Display Tool Tips - Allows Tool Tips popups when hovering cursor over applicable buttons and items
Vehicle Breakdowns - Allows Bogging and Breakdown chance events
Force 60:0 Turns - Removes Reaction Phase from battles designed with them
Use Inverted Mouse - Determines the direction of camera controls when using the mouse
Display Weather - Turns on weather effects. Turning off may improve performance on some systems
Limited Infantry - Turning on allows only 3 soldier figures to be displayed for squads. Turning on may improve performance on some systems
Infantry Fatigue - Allows Fatigue effects
S.O.P. - Allows SOP order button for setting standard operating procedures
Q. My opponent can't start the battle?
A. Make sure that your opponent has the scenario file and if necessary, the map files.
A. Check that you have both browsed to the proper folder locations.
A. Check that you have the correct player names and lower case letters.
Q. I tried to play on another computer and the game crashed.
A. Check to see if you have the scenario file and map. If you are player 2, the scenario file would have been sent to the live sync folder. If it is not there, check to see if your live sync provider has archiving. For example, dropbox retains backups of deleted files for 30 days. From the website, select show hidden files, scroll until you find the deleted scenario file. Undelete the file, then copy and paste to your PC installation.
Q. I press F4 and cannot place my units where I want to?
A. F4, unlimited unit placement, is disabled for Multiplayer games. The allowed distance is 10% of the map size, i.e. 100m for a 1k map.
Q. I forgot my password or I can't remember how I typed it.
A. Sorry but you must start over. There is no way to retrieve a password.