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Out-Of-Game Communication is trouble

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I'm trying to design a browser-based, turn-based game. There will be several players in a military environment, probably around WW2, and players cannot talk to each other instantly, they must use their radios, or whatever is at their disposal at the time to relay the signal to a central HQ. My problem is how to resolve "out of game" communications. To make this all a bit clearer imagine I'm the Commander on board of an U.S. Carrier, on a top secret mission to destroy or take command of facilities located on a small pacific island being used by Japanese forces for fuel extraction & refinery purposes. On the way to that Island, my scout fighters, scouting the way ahead, locate a small japanese patrol boat. Due to an error of the player controling that air unit, the Japanese boat spots us. I scramble the whole carrier to take out the patrol boat, and we're successful. Here is the dilema: What is stoping the player playing the japanese patrol boat of sending an email to his other comrades, about what just happened? In Real Life (tm) the Japanese would be dead, and therefore the element of surprise would have still be maintained, but now I have no idea if I'm sailing into a trap... Is this going to force me into an "Honour System"? Cause I think we all know how those work... Any suggestions?

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I don't see it as a problem because most online games are better with outside communication.

The problem I see is preventing players from having accounts on both sides to prevent people from potentially spying. I'm sure a cookie or ip check can prevent that at the base level?

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Could work something out that looks at players intel, deployments, and in game coms. Shouldn't be too hard to work out a system to dected the very fishy looking redepolyment of forces.

Teams A and B.

A is attacking B from the north, but has a surprise unit comming in from the east. B has nothing in the area near where A is comming in from the east, but B sends something out east. Now if B sent something out that wasn't truely needed according to statistics, then clearly they're lucky and guessed that there might be surprise attack.

Same thing. A attacking B from north. A has surprise unit in the east. B has a scout with no radio in east, spots fleet. A kill scouts, but B sends out a fleet before B's scouts could have come back. B is flagged.

B does that a few more times, B is banned for cheating/ungodly luck.

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I actually don't think there's anything you can do programming-wise. It's way too hard to study each game and figure out whether a player is cheating/lucky/good/etc.

The best way is probably a cheater-report system.

edit: deleted the wrong word...

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Well, till now the only thing that I could think of is that, once the game is finished, every player would be able to review the war scenario, play by play, a bit like in the end of Civilization, you get to see a replay of events.

I cannot avoid people exchanging emails, and the game will be much more interesting if you can play it with friends, which means that you already know their emails and how to contact them.

So I'm hoping that having the ability to review the game once finished will put player's minds at ease regarding any possible foul play...

None the less it's still not a 100% solution...

Thanks for the input guys, keep it comin' [wink]

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You shouldn't have punishments for "strange deployment". In war, if a unit stops sending information, it is presumed dead or captured. I would prepare my units for an attack from that direction. How is that any different from someone telling me that their unit has died, and me doing the same thing?

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Quote:
Original post by anteaterking
You shouldn't have punishments for "strange deployment". In war, if a unit stops sending information, it is presumed dead or captured. I would prepare my units for an attack from that direction. How is that any different from someone telling me that their unit has died, and me doing the same thing?


Yes, you got it half-right.

See, picking up my initial example again, let me add a few more rules to the war environment. First of all, all radios do not have infinite range. That means that the radio on the patrol boat might not have been able to contact shore, because it was too far out to sea. Let's assume that is true.

Second, the Japanese Commander in the area must have instructed the boat more or less in the following manner:
"You are the patrol the southern shores of the island, and report anything unusual. You are armed, but you're only to use force if you acertain that the enemy is defenitly weaker than you. Your job is to get back to base with information at all time."

Now, patrolling the shores, that is something that takes time. Let's assume it takes from 20 to 25 turns for fuel to run out and the patrol boat to return.

Now, once I destroyed that patrol boat, I initiated a set of circumstances that force me to act quickly, in the next 8 to 10 turns at least. I'm kinda screwed as you said, because my plans relied heavily on secrecy, but I still got a very considerable amount of firepower, and how it all pans out depends on how each Commander will play out the next 10 turns.

See, if I am playing the Japanese Commander of the Island, and I don't get word of a patrol boat, I'll send another one out there to investigate. Yes, it might have been destroyed by a passing submarine, that doesnt mean we're about to be invaded. But if I get an email from another player, detailing what happened, then, well, then all the game goes to s*it...

I think I'll have to enforce an honor system of sorts... I don't yet see a way out...

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Of course, you could also have the option of randomizing which players get on each team. If Player X doesn't know Player Y's email, they wouldn't be able to communicate. Maybe a mask of who is actually who until the end of the game. That way, you would also have to judge throughout the game how good your commander was, and not judge from past experience.

And if you did want to play with friends, and you knew one was a "cheater", then you could exclude them from your games.

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I think a replay/review + honor system + cheating reports would do the trick.

Player suspects he's been cheated on, reviews the battle, confirms (or at least keeps believing) and reports the presumed cheater.

Enough complaints and the user gets banned. Or something.

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