Join Basic Game

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Join Basic Game

Postby Mr.E » 21 Jul 2019, 15:08

I've been doing some trawling recently and a range of issues that come up fairly regularly are related to getting into a game. Sometimes a game is difficult to fill and get started. There are a number of reasons for that but the options chosen for a game when it is created is the main one.

It isn't that long that something similar to what I'm going to suggest was discussed but I think it's worthwhile looking at it afresh.

When people are looking for a game to join, they can click on a new PLAY tab. This brings them to a tab which has three (or four) options:
- JOIN BASIC GAME ("Standard" would be better but I wouldn't want this to be confused with Standard Dip)
- SEARCH NEW NON-BASIC AND ON-GOING GAMES (or, ideally, two separate options)
Each option would need it's own "i" button to explain what they are - or a set explanation with each option.

For a quick start, players could then join a BASIC game, and I'll discuss what the BASIC game options could be below. If the player doesn't want to play a BASIC game, there are then other options. I, for instance, wouldn't be able to join a BASIC game because the deadline options I'm going to suggest wouldn't work for me. This suggestion doesn't help me, I know, but I'm not losing anything by it, either.

BASIC game settings
Name: Something along the lines of "PlayDiplomacy"+"Game Number"
Description: Blank... or something giving information about the game type.
Class of game: Rank.
Countries: Random.
Game Type: Regular.
1st turn NMR protection: Checked.
Number of players: Full game.
Map Variants: Standard.
Game Variants: Classic.
Draw Proposals: All survivors in draw.
Draw voting: Open ballot.
Order Phase deadline: 2 days
Retreat Phase deadline: 1 day
Build Phase deadline: 1 day
Map: Standard
Icons: Standard (tank and destroyer/cruiser - whatever the fleet icon is)

To explain some of the reasoning behind this:
These games should be ranked because this is the site norm. Remember, this isn't necessarily just new players who are playing these games, but anyone who wants a quick game start. There could be an option for a new player to start a Mentor game with the same settings, which would be unranked.

I think we're looking for people to have a good game experience, so turn on 1st game NMR protection. Despite the offer of joining a mentor game, we'd get new players wanting to join these games, I'd imagine. So why not a Protected game? Because NMRs are also a fact of online gaming and it would help for people to get used to this from the start.

As for Draws, well DIAS is the option most of us think is closest to the spirit of the game from the way Calhamer describes it, and although it isn't necessarily a popular view on the Forum, open ballots are more usual then secret ballots. I probably prefer secret ballots myself, but we want to prepare people for play on site.

And now the Deadlines. I know there is a big thing about faster games, and - if you've taken notice of my posts previously - you'll know I don't like the Pussycat philosophy that faster games are better games. However, these deadlines are faster than I can play as they are, so I'm not bothered overly much - any form of BASIC game is going to feature deadlines that are too fast for my circumstances. But I also think we, as experienced players, need to encourage a better type of game play, and this means mid-standard deadlines. So I've gone for a compromise: 2 days for Negotiations, and a day for Retreats and Adjustments. The first may be a twice as long as a lot of people would like but come on - Diplomacy is about communicating and do we really want to turn Dip into nearly-Gunboat?

(1) There should probably be more than one basic game 'recruiting' at a time. This would prevent most cases of potential meta-gaming or multi-accounting. For example, if two friends join the site at the same time, and use this function, they are placed in alternative games. Although this slows down the start of a game, it helps prevent potential cheating; otherwise, games ought to be Anonymous Players (which wouldn't be a bad thing to my mind, although it takes away the option of researching other players before a game starts).
For multiple BASIC games, I'd think two or three start-ups would be best, although this complicates the coding. But I'd rather discourage players joining together from being in the same game from the start of the process: if they want that they can join Friends games.

(2) The GAMES tab could be renamed MY GAMES. When a player joins a BASIC game, they are informed that the game has moved to their MY GAMES tab. Additionally, the GAMES menu can be modified by removing the JOIN GAME option (which is now under PLAY tab) and the CREATE GAME option (also under the PLAY tab). It is possibly then going to be awkward to have ARCHIVED and ACTIVE games under the MY GAMES tab... I guess it depends whether these are accessed often. Perhaps they could have another menu option under PLAY for these.

(3) Under the PLAY tab, we'd have the option to join a non-basic game or an on-going game. This might be better as two different menu options. Not everyone will want to join a BASIC game, after all, and we don't particularly want players creating their own game - with non-BASIC option choices - if we really want games to fill quickly. It's a very different skill set to join a game that hasn't started to a game that is on-going.

Other Thoughts
I have to say that, personally, I don't like the option of joining any kind of BASIC game, because I think it takes options away from people. Options are empowering. I've already said that I wouldn't be able to use this because the deadlines aren't long enough for me. Reality makes this not a viable option.

But I do think the site as a whole would benefit from a less confusing set of options, providing those options don't minimise the key skills necessary for playing the game. And I also have come to recognise that for new, younger, inexperienced players, there is a lack of knowledge and - well, experience - necessary to make informed choices.

My work involves me working with young adults. This is an eye-opener because I am working in a system that treats them as adults, and doesn't differentiate between a 40+ year old and an 18 year old. Yet the experience between these two age groups is huge. This is sometimes frustrating: when I'm dealing with people who are older teens, I sometimes find their questions and general neediness annoying. And then I have to remember that I have a wealth of experience behind me so that I have some understanding of what they have none. It makes a difference.

This isn't about intelligence. Intelligence grows with experience. If you have experience, you are better able to understand something and will appear to be more intelligent because you're able to make informed decisions.

I strongly believe that, as a community, we should be encouraging people to experience Diplomacy, without making it comparable to Risk-like games. It isn't about ordering pieces around on a (virtual) board; it's about communication. It also isn't about experience on it's own: it's about contextual experience. I know a number of decent FTF players who struggle to play online because the context is different.

For me the BASIC game should be about helping people play an enjoyable game of Dip in the general context of online gaming, with all it's positive and negative aspects.

For me the BASIC game is a good way to allow players to get into a game of Diplomacy and experience it in an applicable context, without making deadlines so tight as to be difficult to work with.

It isn't about getting a quick game alone, about getting a perfect game, or about pleasing people, whatever their ideas. It's about introducing people to Diplomacy in the online context and about getting them into a game which is - comparatively - typical.

And there is a wider consideration: that of encouraging more considered play. We want players who have some understanding of what makes a "good" game of online Diplomacy, because we're not just thinking of the inexperienced; we're thinking of those people who enjoy Dip, in whatever format, for the fantastic game that it is, without pandering to the Pussycats who see online Dip as being no different from online strategy games, and just want it to go faster.
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