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Designing a better PBEM

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Not many people play Play By Email games anymore. It seems as though this age of high-tech computer graphics has smacked the gaming world in the face. I''ve been wanting to write a PBEM for a long time now, ever since I started to play diplomacy, risk, and HOMM3online. The games were fun, and highly addictive (to me). Now, what did they have? Player interraction. You could contact anyone you wish. if you wanted to call the President of Germany and propose an alliance, you could. If you wanted to move troops to the border of Siberia and propose that they surrender or join your military, you could. If you wanted to go to defcon 2 and start the nuclear launch sequence and scare the small Russian army in Bolivia that you mean business, you can. I always loved the negotiational part of PBEM''s. It has a lot to do with real role play. Because if you think about it, assuming a role like a leader of the military forces of a country sort of gives you a feeling of dominance (something we all strive for, no?) What the games don''t give you is graphics. I don''t need them, personally, because usually the leaders of the forces aren''t on the front line anyway. Anyway, I was thinking of a world-domination type of game, through the use of diplomacy and military strategy you would control the most resources to construct an army, whether military or diplomatic, and take over the world. Now I''m having trouble with what sort of things the players would be allowed to have. Should it be small like Risk? Where you simply construct armies and go attack? Or should it be more like real life, where you can train tank platoons, jets, bombs, missiles, subs, aircraft carriers, etc... Anyway, just your two cents would be nice. Thanks. ~Dwarf

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I think PBEM is slowly being taken over by PBW (play by web). Web-page based turn-based games have the benefit of a user interface and accessibility from (generally) anywhere.

I used to have links to a couple that were pretty cool - maybe I''ll dig them up again...

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Ever play the one where your a pimp and you have hoes and sell crack and do home invasions on your rivals? You can jack somebodies ride... Drug Lords was the name. You only had so many action points per day, you could put a hit out on someone, buy more crack so you could keep more hoes around to make more money to hire thugs, it was great fun, all on your web browser!

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I believe there was a discussion of what games would work/sell best in the emerging mobile (cell phone, pda, blackberry) market a while ago, do you think this would apply there (Doesn''t require realtime reactions, doesn''t need fancy graphics, encourages player-player interaction [text messaging])?

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I tried designing a PBEM game once but I''m sure I''d be embarassed by it if I found the rules page again... of course, I think part of the reason it never got off the ground was that I didn''t have any good way of advertising it. It kinda interests me, so I''ll post here again a little later (my sister needs the phone or something) or we can discuss it via email if it doesn''t get much interest here.

As for the PBW games AP mentioned... two I like/d were Archmage (http://archmage.magewar.com) and Circle of Darkness: Arena (http://arena.idiotworld.com).

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If you''re going for a wargame-y style game then I''d say factoring in time to train troops/build vehicles is a definite... actually I guess it depends on complexity, which reflects your target audience. Archmage gives you another "turn" ever so many minutes (depending on which server you''re using) and then it takes certain amount of turns and resources to train...well, recruit or summon...your units. That''s why I think I''d prefer PBEM over PBW, because you would get the effect of everyone doing everything in the same time frame--the unbalancedness of it meant you could get completely wiped out by someone while you were gone, or at least you could get swarmed and then have to wait 40 minutes before you could get the 2 turns needed to attack back. And of course by then you''d already lost a lot of your troops, so you really need more turns than that to recruit/summon new units... *Ugh* it was a mess, yet I guess it was fun in its own right. A lot of that would be resolved in designing the rules of the game I guess.

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What about a fight game that is PBEM? It''d be Jackie Chan, lots of acrobatics, maybe a small number of dummy characters. First you''d adjust camera, then you''d sequence a maneuver (anims could be too complex).

Beyond "I move, you move" the game becomes like high level programming "If you move x, I move y; When you move z; I move a". Could work though - if it stayed simple for stupid.

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quote:
Original post by deClavier
What about a fight game that is PBEM? It''d be Jackie Chan, lots of acrobatics, maybe a small number of dummy characters. First you''d adjust camera, then you''d sequence a maneuver (anims could be too complex).

Beyond "I move, you move" the game becomes like high level programming "If you move x, I move y; When you move z; I move a". Could work though - if it stayed simple for stupid.


Can''t remember the name... but I think there was a game like this. Unfortunately it required an outlook/express-based email account and all I had at the time were various webmail accounts (and this was a couple years ago before hotmail was owned by M$) so I didn''t get to try it. If I recall correctly tho... more than programming reactions it was just make a list of actions, then the lists were run simultaneously to calculate damage, etc.

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PBEMs were great!

I found one that wasnt totally PBEM, because it had a seperate system, and had some cool isntant messanger features.

It was called Allies and Enemies. It had a horrible name, but if you find a copy, it has some good ideas you could learn from

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You really should read this thread: Online game idea - politics & conquest. Read it all the way through. I was particularly going after the idea of using real persuasion, propoganda and media, as opposed to defining it as a gaming statistic.

In that game idea, persuasion meant actually explaining to other gameplayers why you would be the best person for the job. Propoganda actually meant sending out real information (true or false). Media actually meant players really reporting on events. And the media would be your source of information as a player. Intelligence would be provided by other players. If they doctored it or lied about it, then that is the intelligence you get.

In other words, there are no gameplay statistics which determine who you are, what you get, and how you get it. You define who you are. What you get is defined by what the other players provide you. How you get it is based on the channels and contacts you develop.

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...And there was also a game called Stars!, a galactic conquest game where everyone played out their turn and then emailed the turn file to a central server, it calculated them all out and then sent the start-of-next-turn file out to all of the players. Such a fun game...

(Edit: This was brought on by the comment in bishop's thread that players needed something graphical--that thread looks interesting, I'm getting ready to go through it.)

[edited by - draqza on June 7, 2002 10:44:14 PM]

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