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.