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speeding up play - 11/22/2008 6:43:27 PM   
borner


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I know this has been brought up before, scattered in previous threads, but based on recent experience, I wanted to offer a thread for discussion here.

In two different games, players have left after becomming fustrated that the game is mostly file management, not gaming. While I understand that combining phases will take some things away from traditional EiA, I think this is well worth it. know of several players now that have left as they spend an hour loading files, and 20 minutes playing the game. Yes, doing reinf and Dip phases together and having them all gathered by the host will impact things to a minor degree, but will save days, if not a week or more, trying to get through a month of game time.

I cannot think of any other way to reduce the number of file needed to get through a turn, and thus speed things along. I am not even sure if this is something Marchall can do with the game program. If so, I would be interested in a yes/no opinion of other players out there in the fourm if overall the feeling is that such a change would be worth what is given up to speed along game play, as most games have players from different time zones or nations.

my vote is yes.

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RE: speeding up play - 11/22/2008 6:55:25 PM   
NeverMan

 

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I'm all for cutting corners to speed the game up (which says a lot about exactly how slow the game is now, IMO, since I'm a more EiA purist).

The game is somewhat enjoyable but I am tiring quickly of the long process. If the game was faster it might be worth it to stick out those games where it looks like there is a winner early on but at the moment, it's not worth playing those games out for me.

EDIT: Sorry, I'm against putting Dip and Reinf together, this is just not good, IMO; however, I don't have a problem with simul Dip, which would probably be about the same amount of time as Dip/Reinf together not done simul.

< Message edited by NeverMan -- 11/22/2008 8:34:32 PM >

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RE: speeding up play - 11/22/2008 7:44:36 PM   
Dancing Bear

 

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I agree with Neverman, Borner, and many others on this topic, and game speed should trump EIA purity, as long as the balance between the major powers is maintained (i.e. no one power gains or losses a significant advantage (and it has to be a significant advantage)). The much anticipated “skipping” feature will help somewhat, but more needs to be done. Other items discussed are:

a) Simultaneous phases (diplomacy, reinforcement, and economics), which Marshall reports would be a technical challenge (simultaneous reinforcement also drew some flak because of the slight affect on game balance, but I think the general agreement was, that if it was optional it should go in).

b) Pre-programming a nation’s reinforcement during the diplomacy phase, which would essentially combine the diplomacy and reinforcement phases, but allow those players who wanted a separate reinforcement phase to still have one (this would be combined with auto placement of minor neutrals without corps/fleets, and have a trigger to ignore the pre-programmed reinforcement orders and revert to the normal process if there was a change in the DOW status of a major power or minor neutral with corps/fleets). Again this appeared to be a technical challenge.

c) Borner’s suggestion of simply combining diplomacy and reinforcement, which I’m sure will draw a similar line of resistance to a simultaneous reinforcement phase, but likely more intense. Players will point out that placing reinforcements after being made aware of the DOW against them is a strategy for nations that are generally on the defence, like Austria and Prussia, which then affects the game balance that is the heart of the game.

Personally, if we can’t have a or b from above, I could live with Borner’s suggestion.

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RE: speeding up play - 11/23/2008 8:30:52 AM   
eske

 

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As mentioned elsewhere, simlutanious diplo and econ phase seems natural to the game.
Combined with Bears option C, preprogrammed reinf, to me looks like optimal solution. But simply combined with being able skip reinf, goes a long way down that road.

Lacking the above having combined diplo-reinforcment as a game option would be a bonus.

/eske




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RE: speeding up play - 11/24/2008 3:39:29 AM   
borner


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Anything will help

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RE: speeding up play - 11/24/2008 5:48:16 AM   
mr.godo

 

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In addition to making phases simultaneous, battles could be simultaneous as well. The only reason for making it linear is to keep the data file in tact. The use of a single threaded data file is what makes this game slow. Everything has to be stacked on in order for it to run.

One minor mechanic that I find particularly annoying is the loading of game files. Load next, ok, load next, ok, load next, ok, load next, ok... Why can't all the available files just be loaded in sequence?

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RE: speeding up play - 11/24/2008 1:16:59 PM   
Marshall Ellis


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mr.godo

In addition to making phases simultaneous, battles could be simultaneous as well. The only reason for making it linear is to keep the data file in tact. The use of a single threaded data file is what makes this game slow. Everything has to be stacked on in order for it to run.

One minor mechanic that I find particularly annoying is the loading of game files. Load next, ok, load next, ok, load next, ok, load next, ok... Why can't all the available files just be loaded in sequence?



Battles will probably NEVER be simul simply because the engine requires A battle to fought to completion until another can begin.

Auto file loading? That can be looked at. It is much better than it was simply becuase in version 1.00 you also had to manually choose the file itself!



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RE: speeding up play - 11/24/2008 9:36:23 PM   
Dancing Bear

 

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i would not put auto-loading of files as a top priority. Sim dip would be better.

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RE: speeding up play - 11/27/2008 1:21:08 AM   
mr.godo

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Marshall Ellis
...
Battles will probably NEVER be simul simply because the engine requires A battle to fought to completion until another can begin.
...


I can understand needing to have all the battles completed before a turn is over, but to have the system dependent upon having one battle process at a time? That doesn't sound like an engine problem, but what's behind the engine.

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RE: speeding up play - 11/27/2008 5:30:01 AM   
gwheelock

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: mr.godo


quote:

ORIGINAL: Marshall Ellis
...
Battles will probably NEVER be simul simply because the engine requires A battle to fought to completion until another can begin.
...


I can understand needing to have all the battles completed before a turn is over, but to have the system dependent upon having one battle process at a time? That doesn't sound like an engine problem, but what's behind the engine.


The sequential battle mode is from the original EIA. The results of some battles could affect choices made
in other battles (such as reinforce attempts; win/loss; etc). I think that if you had asyncronous battles that
that would change the flavor of the game.

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RE: speeding up play - 11/27/2008 10:06:05 PM   
eske

 

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Agree with Gweelock here. The sequence of battles can be crucial.
However it is phasing player who decides his sequence - as it is in EiANW now.
Why not let phasing player chose to run all the battles he wants to simultaniously ??
He is still in control of the chronology, and doen's lose any advantages, does he ?

- however Marshalls statement on the engines requirements still stands, so not much point in discussing this...

/eske

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RE: speeding up play - 12/1/2008 12:53:54 PM   
Marshall Ellis


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quote:

ORIGINAL: mr.godo


quote:

ORIGINAL: Marshall Ellis
...
Battles will probably NEVER be simul simply because the engine requires A battle to fought to completion until another can begin.
...


I can understand needing to have all the battles completed before a turn is over, but to have the system dependent upon having one battle process at a time? That doesn't sound like an engine problem, but what's behind the engine.


LOL! You're spot on!

Not that you care but ...

The original engine designer (ME) made the design decision that EACH battle must be fought to completion before ANY other battle could begin and the phasing player decides the order in which they are resolved. This sounds much like the original EiA huh? That was intentional.






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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 6:53:11 AM   
mr.godo

 

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Would having sequential battles not be a function of playability for a board game rather than a requirement of the simulation? I would propose that it was a means of keeping the game progressing. How exactly would you tell your opponent "okay, let's stop here and move on to the battle in berlin!"? You finished the battle you started because it would be too difficult to keep track of the phase you were in. Sequential makes sense in ftf play or against the computer where you're getting an immeidate response. However, when you have to wait hours or days for a response from your opponent, bundling the battles might be a nice shortcut to quicken the pace.
However, as mentioned above, this is a moot point.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 12:31:12 PM   
Marshall Ellis


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Moot indeed but I understand your point.
I could really streamline the game by simply rolling a 1d6 to decide each battle but that would go a little far IMO :-)



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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 7:28:59 PM   
dodod

 

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I have to agree...I can't stand playing a game for months, then someone quits because of mechanics or worse, the game goes too slowly..

It wastes everyone's time, as someone new will have new ideas and any alliance can be meaningless when a new country takes over.

PLEASE do something....to have econ, diplo and reinforcements done together...this would be very helpful...

those that have some need for old rules, fine, play your way, but have the option for most of us that get tired of a week passing without doing a single phase!

Remember, that france can do it's reinforcement last if all phases are turned to france...so he can still pick movement based on diplomacy results. Also England currently doesn't have that luxury except with spain, so it would be less limited for them...

This is really really critical...it just becomes a waste of effort after months of playing!!!!

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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 10:26:33 PM   
Jimmer

 

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Just a point: Game speed (i.e. the slowness of the game) IS from pure EIA. Perhaps some don't remember, but it took well over a year to complete a grand campaign game, playing weekly for 6 hours (plus the diplomatic time spent outside of game time, which easily eclipsed actual at-the-table game time). This game isn't a whole lot slower than that, actually.

So, the tradeoff is not speed vs. EIA purity. The tradeoff is whether to change the game (again and/or more) in order to speed up a game that was known to be slow when started. Some people didn't like the length of EiA. They played Diplomacy or Machiavelli instead. I was drawn to this game (EIA) for reasons that are directly related to the speed of play! The game cannot be both as complex and as deep as this game is, and still be played in an evening. Star Fleet Battles or Wooden Ships and Iron Men could be played in an evening. But, they simulate only a tiny fraction of "life" that this game simulates.

When our group tried to play Diplomacy or Machiavelli (or Blue Max, for that matter), our natural bent towards complexity caused us to eventually ... invent a campaign version of the game! It would take longer. We knew that. It was a tradeoff worth making to have a deeper and richer gaming experience. Starfire: Same thing. Star Fleet Battles: Same thing. The list goes on and on. Heck, we even tried to make a campaign game out of Titan!

But THIS game provided all of that in one box. We didn't have to invent a game around a typical game to satisfy our lust for complex gaming. Here was a game that could be played for a year or two and still be fun!

Guys, I do NOT want speed over EIA. Even what has happened thus far to the game has made it "EiANW" rather than EIA. People here have frequently blamed EiH for the changes, but that's pure hogwash. Yes, EiH was used and yes it was different, but it was MORE complex and I'm guessing even SLOWER to play than pure EiA was!

No, the reason the game is changed from EiA MOSTLY is because of speed. Nearly every improvement done just because of speed (in any PBM or PBEM game, not just this one or ones on computers) speeds up the game, but nearly always does so with a sacrifice in the game itself. PBM and PBEM have always at least doubled playing time. In the days of paper mail, 10-to-1 is more accurate. Anybody who has played a PBEM game AND the original (on a board) knows this.

Is speed worth it? Perhaps. But, please stop arguing that the speed loss is caused because it isn't as close to original EiA as it could be. Almost 100% of the speed loss can be directly linked to the game being designed for email. And, much of what was EiA was sacrificed to make it a playable PBEM game.

Could it be "fixed" by having network capability? Absolutely not, at least not just IP play as has been suggested. Because, such a position completely ignores the real reason by PBM and PBEM campaign games came about: Because it's nearly impossible to find 7 players to all be in the same room at the same time, week in and week out, for 1-2 years.

The only way to solve all of the issues is to have it be an online game (as in, players log in to a server for all game functions). The server must be available over the Internet to all prospective players. And, multiple games at a time have to be hosted by this server, using IP as the transaction medium. If the game were served like this, THEN EiA would be a possibility (including all of the steps in each of the phases, etc.)

This game is EiA-like, NOT EiA. And, it is EiH-like, NOT EiH. It can only be legitimately be compared to a PBM or PBEM version of either of those.

< Message edited by Jimmer -- 12/3/2008 10:29:35 PM >


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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 11:32:26 PM   
dodod

 

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I think you miss my point.

the default is the way you want...you can keep that...

but there should be a way to satiate what many many people in this forum are stating...in EVERY game I have played, people have complained about the speed...so in order for your theory to work, you need 7 such players...

I think there would be few people who would not want a faster game...much faster

I have played the board game, and while it may take a year to play, these games will take much more! Furthermore, boardgames are with people you know...these games are often with people who you don't know, and it is easier for them to quit...leaving everyone having invested time and a sudden game changer...

It seems that since so many people complain about the speed, it may be worth addressing it...

It may take a lot of programming, but certainly, it would be worth it.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 11:56:13 PM   
Jimmer

 

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That misses MY point (which wasn't addressed at you anyhow, but here goes):

The game is slow because it is PBEM. It's not fair to blame a lack of EiA-ness or lack of IP play or anything else. The ONLY way to speed up the game is to remove depth. It may be obvious or it may be subtle, but that's the lay of the land.

I agree that it would be nice to speed up play. But, don't blame what is not at fault (not you personally, but we as a group).

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RE: speeding up play - 12/3/2008 11:58:35 PM   
Jimmer

 

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By the way, I completely support efforts to speed things up (to a point, sometimes). But, it will always come at a price. The question is whether the price is worth it.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 12:08:05 AM   
Dancing Bear

 

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Pure EIA also had things like lots of manual accounting, thousands of tiny counters, coke stained maps, BO etc, which I am more than happy to leave behind.

I with speeded up the game, but keeping the essence of EIA. I think it can be done with toggle type switches to turn on things like skipping when they are needed and turn them off when they are not. The trade offs are well worth it if you want to keep 7 players in a game.

The has been a lot of good discussion in these forums on what the essence of EIA is, so we should be able to figure what made the game great, and what sucked about the old board game and can be improved because someone (Al Gore?) invented the internet.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 6:30:30 AM   
mr.godo

 

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While I agree that there should be an alternative mode which allows players to control the speed of the turn, I do not believe that there is any means of leveraging optional features for game play acceleration as most of the engine is hard coded to follow a particular model. A follows B follows C.

As an example, diplomacy. In the original games, this was a simultaneous venture. You wrote down your declarations and then revealed them simultaneously. The same is done here, but the mechanism for the phase relies on player A entering his info, then player B, then player C... This order is what kills the speed. If all players could submit simultaneously, that would take a huge chunk out of the speed and not interfere with gameplay.

The same goes for econ. I don't see what the other countries are building. Why am I waiting for the others to get their phases in before I send my off blindly to the next link and then have all revealed later? This is intentional and implemented rigidly. No bundling is required here: Diplomacy should be done by all players at the same time. Econ as well. There shouldn't be some uber diplo-reinf-econ phase. I declare war on you, then build out my forces and set them up here, only to find someone else has stabbed me and set up forces somewhere else. I should know who I'm fighting before I set up to defend myself.

quote:


The has been a lot of good discussion in these forums on what the essence of EIA is, so we should be able to figure what made the game great, and what sucked about the old board game and can be improved because someone (Al Gore?) invented the internet.

I honestly believe that the design of the game is fatally flawed and fails to implement modern notions of workflow, graphic design and usability.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 10:51:22 AM   
Marshall Ellis


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quote:

ORIGINAL: dodod

I have played the board game, and while it may take a year to play, these games will take much more!

It may take a lot of programming, but certainly, it would be worth it.



Forgive my selection of your statement but I must strongly disagree with your time comparison with the boardgame. This is already MUCH quicker than the boardgame simply from automation of manual tasks such as supply, eco, reinf, etc. Even me the programmer can see this :-0

I've played several PBEM games using the Cyberboard system and it too is just as slow AND not to mention inaccurate as heck (Supply calcs wrong, etc).

I will say this again and I will stand behind this forever! The main cause for PBEM game delay is someone going away on vacation, sick, job change, holiday, etc. ALL of which a thousand hours of programming would not fix (It doesn't matter if diplomacy is run at the same time, you still cannot proceed without Turkey's diplomacy and if Turkey is on vacation then you're waiting).

I'm not saying that there is not room to improve but I must be realistic about the gains of a lot of programming that IMHO would gain little.




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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 11:51:21 AM   
La Provence


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To speed the game, in a first time, I think that the Diplomacy and the Eco phase could be simultaneously.
Because this don't change / alter the spirit of the game.

For Diplo : every one play like he want AFTER contact with the others (mail) so it doesn't mater if the phase is simultaneously.

Eco : The same. The incomes and expenses don't depend of the others !

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 1:06:42 PM   
Marshall Ellis


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quote:

ORIGINAL: La Provence

To speed the game, in a first time, I think that the Diplomacy and the Eco phase could be simultaneously.
Because this don't change / alter the spirit of the game.

For Diplo : every one play like he want AFTER contact with the others (mail) so it doesn't mater if the phase is simultaneously.

Eco : The same. The incomes and expenses don't depend of the others !


If there is any room for improvement it would be here. I agree with this.
Diplomacy and Eco are the only phases I would ever allow this for.


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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 3:34:38 PM   
mr.godo

 

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quote:

I will say this again and I will stand behind this forever! The main cause for PBEM game delay is someone going away on vacation, sick, job change, holiday, etc. ALL of which a thousand hours of programming would not fix (It doesn't matter if diplomacy is run at the same time, you still cannot proceed without Turkey's diplomacy and if Turkey is on vacation then you're waiting).


The current system makes itself susceptible to temporal patterns.

If player A lives in the eastern timezone and is online from 7pm to 9pm and player B is on pacific time from 7pm to 9pm, as long as player A goes before player B, there's no problem (provided player A doesn't take 2 hours to finish their turn and move it along). If player B goes first, then that adds an entire day to a phase. How often will that ever happen? I had been playing with danes, swedes, americans, canadians and germans. For diplomacy to take a week wasn't ridiculous, it was the norm!

While we can expect the game to last years, the dismissal of considering simultaneous phase resolution is one of the main reasons this game is never going to get any better in terms of time. If it takes each player 5 minutes to play their phase, that means you cannot finish a general phase in any less than 35 minutes.  And if it takes a couple players longer, say an hour each, to process their phases, it elongates the window of opportunity for the players to complete the diplo phase within a reasonable amount of time.

quote:

If there is any room for improvement it would be here. I agree with this.
Diplomacy and Eco are the only phases I would ever allow this for.

Then why aren't you? Think of it in terms of adding dependancies. What if you couldn't complete your phase until you had a confirmation email from each player? Would that slow things down, speed them up or make no change?

Russia dip ready: england ok, france ok, prussia ok, turkey ok, spain ok, austria ok .... russia dip sent
France dip ready: england ok, russia ok, prussia ok, turkey ok, spain ok, austria ok .... france dip sent

This is the same as having non-dependant game phases dependant upon other players. Keep in mind, however, that in my scenario, order matters.

England dip ready: russia ok, france ok, prussia on vacation. waiting for prussia. prussia ok. turkey afk will be back tomorrow. turkey ok. spain ok. austria ok ... england dip sent

Simultaneous phases shouldn't be optional. They are crucial.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 3:59:19 PM   
La Provence


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Perhaps is it possible to skip same phase :

For exemple : Naval for MP who have not fleet ! Prusia and Austria

And for naval turn of MP which all fleet are blockade :
Exemple : a pop up windows at the end of the renforcement :
      "Skip my turn if all my fleets are blockaded and/or if the strategic situation of my navy are the same when my turn begin"

In this case : if the french fleets are all blockaded and no british fleet moves to quit a blockade box : the soft should be able to skip automatically the french navy step ; and go to the spanish one.

In a lot of turn, it is possible to skip at least 3 steps (Prussia, Austria and France).
+ 1 Diplo step (minus 6)
+ 1 Eco step (minus 6).


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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 4:58:29 PM   
dodod

 

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Marshall...yes, the mechanics are faster...but any process is as fast as the rate limiting step...which in this case is the email filing....it does not take a day for calculating battles, but it can take 3 days to do a battle with PBEM...

So regardless..when trying to speed up a game, the rate limiting step is the one that has to be addressed...which is the slow process of emailing multiple phases in succession.

I still don't see why reinforcement can't be done simultaneously and sent to france to do his last..

Yes, we would have a bit more blinded placement, but it would really really speed things up if diplomacy and econ were together and simultaneous, and reinforcement also...

the former is more important, though.

Furthermore this can be an option.

We have to concede that if players are quitting because of speed, this is a failure of the game as much as the lack of patience of the player. Until that is realized there will be no fruitful conversation. I believe the game is outstanding and would be great hotseat...but alas, most of us don't have that capacity. So lets work to a game where we don't have players dropping like flies, after everyone has invested months of game time...

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 9:00:22 PM   
NeverMan

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Marshall Ellis


I will say this again and I will stand behind this forever! The main cause for PBEM game delay is someone going away on vacation, sick, job change, holiday, etc. ALL of which a thousand hours of programming would not fix (It doesn't matter if diplomacy is run at the same time, you still cannot proceed without Turkey's diplomacy and if Turkey is on vacation then you're waiting).





You can stand by this all you want and you are right if that person is on vacation then you are screwed either way; HOWEVER, if no one is on vacation in a 24 hour turnaround game and it takes, on average, 12 hours for each player to do his/her turn then:

12*7 > 24

That's just math you can't deny and I don't understand why you insist on denying it!!!!
Maybe in your universe 12*7<24 but in everyone else's it's not.

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RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 10:29:17 PM   
DCWhitworth


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Marshall Ellis

I will say this again and I will stand behind this forever! The main cause for PBEM game delay is someone going away on vacation, sick, job change, holiday, etc. ALL of which a thousand hours of programming would not fix (It doesn't matter if diplomacy is run at the same time, you still cannot proceed without Turkey's diplomacy and if Turkey is on vacation then you're waiting).

I'm not saying that there is not room to improve but I must be realistic about the gains of a lot of programming that IMHO would gain little.



Nope I disagree completely. I probably have more experience of PBEM play than the majority on this board being currently in five games most of which are pretty fast moving.

All the games have an agreed turnaround time and if you don't play your turn you get skipped. But this is rare, if people know they are going to be away or unavailable then they will arrange in advance for someone else to play their turn (much easier since the 1.04 advent of different save game names.)

In all the games player absence has *not* been an issue for game speed.

_____________________________

Regards
David

(in reply to Marshall Ellis)
Post #: 29
RE: speeding up play - 12/4/2008 11:44:16 PM   
fvianello


Posts: 536
Joined: 8/6/2002
From: Italy
Status: offline
Empires in Arms is inherently slow, and there's not much that could speed it up,
It's a 7 players game, with several sequential phases per turn; the average turn takes 28 phases (diplo, reinf, naval, land * 7).

It's like trying to speed up bridge; the game has its pace, and that's all.

_____________________________

H. Barca,
Surplus Consuls Dispatcher

(in reply to DCWhitworth)
Post #: 30
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