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More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/3/2016 5:42:20 PM   
paulderynck


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quote:

ORIGINAL: brian brian

Not sure where to post this, too many threads possible.

I think you should really analyze exactly how this game is played before a lot of effort goes into Multi-Player NetPlay. If it is a rigid system requiring all players to be logged in to the server simultaneously then games will move very, very slowly. Since the rules are hard-coded in, take advantage of that and let the server allow non-phasing players to be offline whenever possible. The Russian player needn't be connected while the IJN fights the USN, for example. Likewise, the USA player needn't be online while the land units are moved in Russia.


The above was posted in Tech Support but I think the general forum is a better place to encourage this discussion.

IMO any player should be able to make moves on his own while the others are not present - as there are many times when one player has a large land or naval move to make and the others have little to do. To me this means being able to take a copy of the game file and do your thing and then have the other players re-sync to it later. All the steps in Production could and likely should be done the same way. This is especially true considering we have a game that enforces the rules, so there are no worries about errors and omissions.

Again IMO, without this capability further work on NetPlay after the two-player version is wasted effort. It is terribly optimistic to expect no regression bugs going from 2 to "more than 2 NetPlay" and what segment of the players out there will use it? - given that screen/mouse sharing is already an effective method for multiplayer which already has the desired feature above. I think Steve's time would be much better spent on moving onto the other items on the roadmap, and would encourage others to post their opinion in this thread.



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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/3/2016 7:42:20 PM   
davidachamberlain

 

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Makes sense since this goes beyond tech support.

Here is my recent posting in the other thread with my opinion:

I am not sure if that is a question about how the game is played, but more on how it should be played. I believe the design goal was to simulate much of the tabletop game.

A team (Axis/Allies) will simultaneously work through the impulses of the phases to get to the point where action would be triggered by the opponent players.

For the most part, that is how things happen now with 2 player. The addition of more players should not change that, but there will need to be more processing to assimilate the moves of multiple players on a team before communicating the updates to all players.

With that in mind, I don't think that this would be much of a problem.

Regarding your point about not needing to be online while different theatres are in play, I have to disagree. The way the tabletop game is played, everything for a phasing team happens at once. You can not really have things going in one theatre without the others. Turns end on a die roll (for the entire game). Actions on each side happen simultaneously. Russia needs to care to some extent on what is happening in China/Japan as US needs to care about what is happening in the Pacific and Europe. Germany needs to care about what is happening on both their fronts, so even though in early stages, the US might not have a direct impact on what happens in Russia, that will start to occur at some point.

This is not a game multiple timelines dealt with independently. US and UK actions will often occur in multiple theatres after the US is fully in the game and even occasionally before that time.

Unless there is the ability to transfer responsibilities between players on the same side, it is an all hands on deck requirement. That may make this player re-assignment requirement something that needs additional thought at some point.

In response to your point about playing the game when players are missing, though I agree with the rationale behind it, it would require this to be a different game. Tabletop WIF was all about simultaneous multi-theatre play. When someone was missing, someone else would cover their moves. You really could not just stop the action in one theatre and continue in another.

I think this is a design principle, like it or not, that needs to continue. Otherwise, it becomes a Doctor Who adventure with time and space rules violations.

IMHO.

Dave

(in reply to paulderynck)
Post #: 2
RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/3/2016 8:06:30 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: davidachamberlain

Makes sense since this goes beyond tech support.

Here is my recent posting in the other thread with my opinion:

I am not sure if that is a question about how the game is played, but more on how it should be played. I believe the design goal was to simulate much of the tabletop game.

A team (Axis/Allies) will simultaneously work through the impulses of the phases to get to the point where action would be triggered by the opponent players.

For the most part, that is how things happen now with 2 player. The addition of more players should not change that, but there will need to be more processing to assimilate the moves of multiple players on a team before communicating the updates to all players.

With that in mind, I don't think that this would be much of a problem.

Regarding your point about not needing to be online while different theatres are in play, I have to disagree. The way the tabletop game is played, everything for a phasing team happens at once. You can not really have things going in one theatre without the others. Turns end on a die roll (for the entire game). Actions on each side happen simultaneously. Russia needs to care to some extent on what is happening in China/Japan as US needs to care about what is happening in the Pacific and Europe. Germany needs to care about what is happening on both their fronts, so even though in early stages, the US might not have a direct impact on what happens in Russia, that will start to occur at some point.

This is not a game multiple timelines dealt with independently. US and UK actions will often occur in multiple theatres after the US is fully in the game and even occasionally before that time.

Unless there is the ability to transfer responsibilities between players on the same side, it is an all hands on deck requirement. That may make this player re-assignment requirement something that needs additional thought at some point.

In response to your point about playing the game when players are missing, though I agree with the rationale behind it, it would require this to be a different game. Tabletop WIF was all about simultaneous multi-theatre play. When someone was missing, someone else would cover their moves. You really could not just stop the action in one theatre and continue in another.

I think this is a design principle, like it or not, that needs to continue. Otherwise, it becomes a Doctor Who adventure with time and space rules violations.

IMHO.

Dave

Most of this is covered in my design specifications for NetPlay for 6 players. To wit:

One player for each side is "team leader". He accumulates all the moves for his side and once everyone is done, the whole set is sent to the other side. For instance, in the Production phase both sides make their build decisions simultaneously, but no information as to what those builds are is exchanged until everyone is done with Production. Simultaneous decisions come up several times in a game: Trade Agreements.

It is always possible for one player on a side to disconnect once he has completed his decisions (e.g., during Land Movement) and the other player(s) on his side can continue moving units. Although all players will have to be on-line for the next phase of the game.

I recently added the ability to 'Review' NetPlay games off-line. You can't make any decisions off-line, but you can figure out what you want to do the next time you're the phasing side (for instance). That should help players get a "fast start" when they resume a game. When playing over the board there was oftentimes a 'lost' hour while the players who had to travel to get to the game reviewed the board and reacquainted themselves with what was happening around the world.

[My opponent insisted that we always halt the game with him to move next - I hosted. That was because he far too often returned a week later to find that I had planned out "the perfect move". What really exacerbated the situation was that whoever moved last usually was making decisions late at night when they were tired.]

Before starting work on NetPlay for 6 players, I'll open a thread to discuss all the various possibilities for making the game play as fast as possible/reasonable. But that won't be for e while yet.



< Message edited by Shannon V. OKeets -- 12/3/2016 8:07:34 PM >


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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/3/2016 8:28:00 PM   
juntoalmar


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Hi,

I’m going to give my opinion.

Firstly, I should say I am not really interested in playing with NetPlay, as something similar can be achieved as a workaround (like TeamViewer). However, that’s what fits me and I think a workable NetPlay should be accomplished (not everybody wants to play as I do). I am more interested in a PBEM working solution (PBEM + mini AI to solve the non-phasing-player interaction).

This being said, let’s talk about NetPlay.

I don’t know why NetPlay is being implemented first on 2 players to be updated later on to 4. I trust Steve, so I’m sure there must be a good reason for it. I’m worried of solving bugs for two players and afterwards killing them again for 4 players as the first solution wasn’t universal.

Regarding usability. I have to disagree here with davidachamberlain. The game simulates the boardgame but, when possible, we can use the computer to improve the experience. We have broken already part of the original design (unified map, production and supply calculation…). Any change that makes the experience better is welcome for me.

Playing asynchronously allows the game to advance faster. Let’s say we play every Sunday. The allied player needs 20 minutes to think and move all his ships.

a) No online interaction possible: both players wait until Sunday. First thing is moving all the ships (20 min)
b) Online interaction possible: Ally players moves the ships on Thursday and updates on the server. Axis players connects on Saturday and sees Ally movement. Sunday they start playing with the first combat.

The game will still be multi-theatre play as you name it. All rules and coherence is maintained. Simply avoids people waiting for each other.

In fact simulates the behavior of boardgame too: if one player leaves the room, the game can carry on. When the player comes back takes a look at the board and game continues.

I believe both players don’t need to be connected at the same time in Vassal in order to work. Anybody has experience with this?

IMHO.

Cheers,

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/3/2016 8:56:00 PM   
Centuur


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What will be needed IMHO is that only the US player is allowed to see the US entry pools, just as only the players involved in a neutrality pact are allowed to see the drawn markers of that pact. It's up to those individual players if they want to share that knowledge with their allies, or keep it secret. That's the most important thing which is different from a 2-player game, when playing on the board.

And of course, we need voluntary peace and neutrality pacts to be operational too, before multiplayer netplay is build IMHO.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/4/2016 4:20:40 AM   
brian brian

 

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re: The Germans need to take an interest in the Pacific comment - I would have to ask how much actual play of World in Flames that is based on?

In a grand strategic sense, yes, very definitely. But in an operational sense, and in the minute-by-minute play of the game, Ummm, No.

In history, do you think the IJN awaited sailing for Pearl until the results of the Battle of Moscow were known? Did Rommel wait to see how much of the US Battle Fleet was destroyed at Pearl Harbor before ordering a withdrawal from the Egyptian frontier?

When playing a multi-player game face-to-face, the USA and the Japanese can determine the results of an impulse simultaneously with the Russians and the Germans doing the same thing elsewhere on the map. Even if Japan took a naval impulse and the Germans a land impulse. Each map might take 30 or more minutes to complete.

MWiF has already ceded a large segment of WiF players to other platforms by going on a strictly hard coded rules approach, with no ability for the players to over-ride anything. The hard coded rules are necessary to ever create an AI, sure, but some people just want to move the counters around without having an extra ping-pong table in their house. If NetPlay forces every player to be online to advance each and every phase, as in this comment from Steve

"Although all players will have to be on-line for the next phase of the game",

this will make multi-player online gaming even slower than face-to-face. (And if you have played enough paper-and-cardboard World in Flames, you will likely quickly conclude that one would much rather play by email and have the phasing player just input a few decisions for you after communicating somehow outside of the program). It would be more work to create some kind of "catch-up" communication between the server and one player, yes. But at some point, I think this software project needs to consider the needs of the players rather than only a forced march to the creation of an AI.

I'm not suggesting the incredible effort that would be required to allow 2 players to do Naval Combat while 2 other players do Land Combat, clearly that would be far, far more work than reward. But being forced to have my computer connected to the server while my team-mate(s) play for up to an hour with no activity on my part would not drive play of this game at all. What happens if the American player's Internet connection is broken while the Germans are just digging in to their first impulse in July, 1941? (And who would volunteer to play the USA in such a system anyway?) Hopefully multi-player can be created so that only one person per side needs to be online to move the game forward. Keep in mind that the way the game is being played multi-player right now, only one of the players from _either_ side needs to be running the program.


Since my idea might be a detour from the roadmap, I think Matrix could do a little more to illustrate and facilitate that waiting for true multi-player NetPlay is a pointless wait. The game can be played multi-player right now and is quite likely to be the superior way to play it, given the design of the game and the interaction points. One new player's aid text write-up and/or video would go a long way here. Outputting moves and combat results to even just a text file should be a very simple feature to add, even though one needn't worry about rules violations. A system to lock the US Entry system with a PIN # or something, for people using Solitaire mode to play now, would be very handy. The program would still enforce the rules, so no one need worry about any cheating, but only an American player could see the chit values and would thus have to perhaps be the person to advance the game before emailing out the resulting game file to the others. Or someone else could tell the program to draw one chit to the Euro pool without being able to see the chit value, by agreement with the US player.


I would note that the design of WiF and all those interaction points does not exactly facilitate remote play at all. It is a true table-top game designed to be played in person. It is one of the strengths of the design - during your impulse, you are making decisions about what you will be able to do during your opponent's impulse, which you will participate in. And this keeps you more involved in the game and probably improves your play, instead of wandering off while your opponent calculates all the attacks and then tells you when he is ready to roll the dice.



Oh and I just wanted to say that I like how the screen for a US DoW includes windows for the US participating in a Neutrality Pact, probably because the same screen is used for other powers. But a game with the USA participating in a Neutrality Pact would be a very interesting game indeed.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/4/2016 3:39:42 PM   
davidachamberlain

 

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I think you must have misread my post. I mentioned " US needs to care about what is happening in the Pacific and Europe. Germany needs to care about what is happening on both their fronts".

However, regardless, this is based on over 10 years of WIF play and that included many complete Global War games.

I agree, "minute by minute, no". However, action limits are world wide. So, when US does naval or air actions, those limitations affect the entire game.

My point is simply, that WIF as a game design does not really enable the type of independent activity that you are looking for. To properly enable that, it would be a totally differnt game. There are some online versions of games that are similar to WIF that do enable what you are looking for, but that won't happen for WIF. The simple reason is that the work that has been done is based on the existing design and constraints and to allow multiple independent timelines that do not require the involvement of opponents nor the involvement of actions on other theatres would require a complete redesign. That is something I do not expect to happen. Again, it would be an entirely different game.

Dave

< Message edited by davidachamberlain -- 12/4/2016 3:41:29 PM >

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/4/2016 6:49:33 PM   
paulderynck


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That is completely true. The design of MWiF is absolutely regimented by the sequence of play. The designer spent many, many hours making sure the sequence of play was bug free. As stated, it would be a complete re-design and would not even resemble MWiF if it were possible for groups of multiplayers to resolve their sequences of play separately on their own timelines.

I'm encouraged by Steve's statement that he'd accept input on how Multi-player NetPlay should work. I know that what has been talked about so far has been an Allies and an Axis "Team Leader PC" which I assume would have to be online (although not necessarily attended) while the other side is moving. It sounds like other members of a team will then be able to re-sync with the Team Leader's MWiF game file. There's likely a large investment in this approach, given that 2-player NetPlay gives us the two eventual team leaders and defines how they can maintain an updated copy of the game.

However, I think consideration should be given to the fact that very few home PCs have 7 x 24 availability and yet the Slitherine server (that we must connect through to NetPlay) must have close to that (given usual short downtimes for required maintenance). Thus is seems to me that it would make more sense for the Slitherine server to host the game file and arbitrate the connections of the players.

This would not be unlike the way myself and two friends are presently playing the game multiplayer. We set up a virtual server on Amazon and installed Teamviewer and MWiF on it. All three of us can connect whenever we like but of course do need at least one other to resolve the interactive parts. This same idea could be done by someone at his home if he has a spare PC and an extra router port to dedicate to hosting the game, although Amazon (and others) have better global networking speeds and offer "five nine" availability of their servers.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/4/2016 11:54:53 PM   
brian brian

 

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I'm (mostly) not suggesting players should be able to work on different phases on different parts of the map. That would be far too much work to code and clearly the game can't be played that way except for occasional combinations of activity in Europe and the Pacific, in face-to-face play.

But I truly hope multi-player NetPlay can include some way that not all the players need be "present" / online to move the game forward. Does the USA player really need to be around to get through an Air Resupply Phase in 1940? Sure, it would be simpler to code that way, declare NetPlay complete and move on to other things. But the simplest route for coding everything isn't the simplest way for players to play the game.

And since the rules are hard-coded and there is a server involved, the ideal would be for the USA player to be able to tell the server 3 ships to move in 1940, and which land unit to debark off the TRS in the movement phase, and then sign off for a long while. The sequence of play for Neutral Major Powers is far less important. Hopefully Multi-Player NetPlay could leverage things like that, for Neutral Major Powers, or other things, like not requiring participation in the phasing side's impulse's Ground Strike missions when a Major Power took a Naval impulse. Yes, I know, more work, and we don't have infinite resources. But if technology can't speed up a very long game...

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/5/2016 2:26:38 PM   
pzgndr

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck
I'm encouraged by Steve's statement that he'd accept input on how Multi-player NetPlay should work.


FWIW, one option would be to allow players to select pre-action reactions like EIA has (ie, SOPs, etc.) for either specific units or types of units. Another option down the line would be to allow the AI to perform certain player reactions, which is what the AI will have to do anyway, but perhaps with some additional settings to be more aggressive or more passive as the case may be. I can't imagine too many play groups are willing to have everybody online all the time, so some compromises/options should be considered. Just a thought.


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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/21/2016 12:05:03 AM   
Zorachus99


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Suggest you make 3+ multi-player games an add-on feature for upgrading the product. Not yet worth it vs fleshing out the optional rules. Depends on what is defined in your contract with Matrix Games. If you do develop multi-player, I suggest you support all 6 players for tournament play (of which I would participate in).

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 12/21/2016 4:40:32 AM   
Jagdtiger14


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quote:

for tournament play (of which I would participate in).







This is what I am hoping for! I think NetPlay will make this possible.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 1/4/2017 5:29:47 AM   
fearlessdylan

 

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Hi all, Interesting topic.

It seems that the objective of Netplay should be simply and only to allow multiple players to play the existing game at the same time (all present or not) with enforcement of sides for executing moves and decisions.

If that's the case, then it would seem that the simple and obvious approach is to build it around a host/client paradigm, whereby one player for a given session hosts and any other players can optionally dial in. Ability to move units and advance phases would be restricted to players of the given side, but otherwise all players would be able to click things/mouse hover and see responses on their local client.

Effectively what I'm proposing is a Teamviewer (or VASL) approach, except with the difference being that each player is running the actual game so as not to suffer the lag and resolution issues that Teamviewer provides. Additional advantages to Teamviewer would be mouse control (as stated above) and the ability to scroll and bring up windows locally without other players needing to see it.

For enforcement of moves and decisions, players could optionally allow other players of the side (or even the other side) to do it for them, and this could be set willy nilly as needed by a given player. A team leader for each side should be able to control options for all players on his side as well (so as to avoid problems when players inevitably drop off the face of the planet).

Another aspect to consider is having a centralized server that stores all multiplayer games for a global repository, so as not to worry about who has what file (ala Steam cloud). I suspect that the community is not large enough to make this cost prohibitive.

Can anyone suggest why this wouldn't cover everything and offer best of all worlds, including from a development perspective?

Thanks,
Dylan




< Message edited by fearlessdylan -- 1/4/2017 5:43:23 AM >

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 1/4/2017 8:01:48 AM   
BrianJH


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quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck


IMO any player should be able to make moves on his own while the others are not present - as there are many times when one player has a large land or naval move to make and the others have little to do. To me this means being able to take a copy of the game file and do your thing and then have the other players re-sync to it later.




Thought I'd chime in on this discussion.

While I have never tried a NetPlay game, I've been thinking as to how much more complex this might be when interaction between players on the same side is required during the same phase.

For example, take the situation where the French player may have a land unit located in Lille. Let's suppose last impluse the CW player landed the BEF in say Boulogne, and now needs to move them this impulse during a land movement phase into Lille. Because the French and CW don't co-operate they cannot stack together - even momentarily, so the French will need to move his units out of Lille first before the CW player can move his units in. This will require the French movement of units out of Lille to be updated to the CW player during the phase before he can move his units in there. When playing solitaire, this is easily achieved as one can simply switch between the French and CW to achieve this, multiplayer on the other hand would require more interaction between the allied players. Batching up all the land moves for each player, until the end of the phase, would clearly not achieve the desired result. Then add the complexity of undoing a move. As you can see this might not be as straight forward as it may appear.


Brian.

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Post #: 14
RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 1/4/2017 6:37:27 PM   
Shannon V. OKeets

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: BrianJH


quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck


IMO any player should be able to make moves on his own while the others are not present - as there are many times when one player has a large land or naval move to make and the others have little to do. To me this means being able to take a copy of the game file and do your thing and then have the other players re-sync to it later.




Thought I'd chime in on this discussion.

While I have never tried a NetPlay game, I've been thinking as to how much more complex this might be when interaction between players on the same side is required during the same phase.

For example, take the situation where the French player may have a land unit located in Lille. Let's suppose last impluse the CW player landed the BEF in say Boulogne, and now needs to move them this impulse during a land movement phase into Lille. Because the French and CW don't co-operate they cannot stack together - even momentarily, so the French will need to move his units out of Lille first before the CW player can move his units in. This will require the French movement of units out of Lille to be updated to the CW player during the phase before he can move his units in there. When playing solitaire, this is easily achieved as one can simply switch between the French and CW to achieve this, multiplayer on the other hand would require more interaction between the allied players. Batching up all the land moves for each player, until the end of the phase, would clearly not achieve the desired result. Then add the complexity of undoing a move. As you can see this might not be as straight forward as it may appear.


Brian.


The design for 4 player NetPlay has both players on a side moving their units at the same time. Communication via Skype is probably the most likely method for players on the same side, but NetPlay also enables sending text messages to other players - either to all players or to selected players. So even without Skype, it would be easy to ask for your partner to take certain actions (e.g., move units). The only catch with this is if you move units which prevents any previous moves from being Undone (e.g., overrunning enemy units. Many naval moves would also have the same restriction.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 1/4/2017 8:00:43 PM   
paulderynck


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quote:

ORIGINAL: BrianJH


quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck


IMO any player should be able to make moves on his own while the others are not present - as there are many times when one player has a large land or naval move to make and the others have little to do. To me this means being able to take a copy of the game file and do your thing and then have the other players re-sync to it later.




Thought I'd chime in on this discussion.

While I have never tried a NetPlay game, I've been thinking as to how much more complex this might be when interaction between players on the same side is required during the same phase.

For example, take the situation where the French player may have a land unit located in Lille. Let's suppose last impluse the CW player landed the BEF in say Boulogne, and now needs to move them this impulse during a land movement phase into Lille. Because the French and CW don't co-operate they cannot stack together - even momentarily, so the French will need to move his units out of Lille first before the CW player can move his units in. This will require the French movement of units out of Lille to be updated to the CW player during the phase before he can move his units in there. When playing solitaire, this is easily achieved as one can simply switch between the French and CW to achieve this, multiplayer on the other hand would require more interaction between the allied players. Batching up all the land moves for each player, until the end of the phase, would clearly not achieve the desired result. Then add the complexity of undoing a move. As you can see this might not be as straight forward as it may appear.


Brian.


Sure. Then they both need to be there. I'm talking about a German Land when Italy does a Naval or almost always a Soviet Land.

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RE: More than 2 Player NetPlay - 1/4/2017 8:56:31 PM   
davidachamberlain

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck


quote:

ORIGINAL: BrianJH


quote:

ORIGINAL: paulderynck


IMO any player should be able to make moves on his own while the others are not present - as there are many times when one player has a large land or naval move to make and the others have little to do. To me this means being able to take a copy of the game file and do your thing and then have the other players re-sync to it later.



Thought I'd chime in on this discussion.

While I have never tried a NetPlay game, I've been thinking as to how much more complex this might be when interaction between players on the same side is required during the same phase.

For example, take the situation where the French player may have a land unit located in Lille. Let's suppose last impluse the CW player landed the BEF in say Boulogne, and now needs to move them this impulse during a land movement phase into Lille. Because the French and CW don't co-operate they cannot stack together - even momentarily, so the French will need to move his units out of Lille first before the CW player can move his units in. This will require the French movement of units out of Lille to be updated to the CW player during the phase before he can move his units in there. When playing solitaire, this is easily achieved as one can simply switch between the French and CW to achieve this, multiplayer on the other hand would require more interaction between the allied players. Batching up all the land moves for each player, until the end of the phase, would clearly not achieve the desired result. Then add the complexity of undoing a move. As you can see this might not be as straight forward as it may appear.


Brian.


Sure. Then they both need to be there. I'm talking about a German Land when Italy does a Naval or almost always a Soviet Land.


This would be a good question for Steve. I recall that as I was playing in a Netplay game (just one-on-one), I could see the opponent moves soon after each move. I am guessing that the same would occur with additional players on the same side. Unless the timing was very close, it is likely that one player or the other would see the earlier moved piece in the space where he intended to move. That would block the other move and prevent sharing the same space.

Dave

(in reply to paulderynck)
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