Content Design & Play Platforms

Place of the offtopic, funny or interesting threads, discussions about history, politics, movies and other war games.

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HexCode
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Content Design & Play Platforms

Post by HexCode » 2021-07-31 04:06, Saturday

MY POSTS

Prologue
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p10622

Setting the Stage
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p10668

Ideal Situation
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p10720

Ideal ? Not Likely
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p10778

Taking It From the Top
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p10972

Two Very Useful Examples
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11003

Starting Out With A Concept ?
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11013

Initial Motivations & Hoped For Audiences
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11030

Inception: Panzer General Forever
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11044

Inception: Open General
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11107

In Real Life It's From the Bottom Up
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11115

Wargame Replication
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11127

Wargame Titles: Their Significance
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11193

Precursor Wargame Content: Its Relevance
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11205

Web Venue Exposure: Implications
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11288

Web Venue Exposure: Panzer General Forever
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11499

Web Venue Exposure: Open General
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p11780

Evolutionary Steady State
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12059

ESS ?: Panzer General Forever
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12162

ESS: Open General
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12313

ESS: Post-Abandonment Possibilities
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12475

Abandoned, Cryptic Platforms
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12560

ACP: Niche Interests
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12616

ACP: No "Outsider" Annoyances
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12646

ACP: Significant Differences (Part I)
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12681

ACP: Significant Differences (Part II)
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12684

Concluding Remarks
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=616#p12685


Topic Legitimacy

The Pub's description follows:
Place of the offtopic, funny or interesting threads, discussions about history, politics, movies and other war games.
Are "content design & play platforms"

1) . . . off topic ? It doesn't much matter, does it ? The expression "Place of the offtopic" should take care of "things", right ? :bonk

2) . . . funny ? Perhaps. However this won't be my angle under this new topic. :nyet

3) . . . interesting ? Well, I do know of a couple of posters who might think so. :)

4) . . . connected to "history, politics, movies" ? As far as I'm concerned, I've absolutely no desire to enter into such discussions, even if tangentially relevant. :deal

Key Reference

Wargames vs. Wargaming Interests
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=451#p6956

Other Wargaming Topics

[OPN] HexCode - Opinions
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=503

Chess & Wargaming: Musings & Angles
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=281

Historical Wargaming
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=451

The AH Blitzkrieg Connection
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=605

The Meaning of Victory (Play Systems)
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=522


Prologue

The impetus behind the launching of this brand new topic has been an enduring, intensive and fruitful interaction between three "advanced" modders over at the (sub)forum dedicated to Panzer General Forever (PGF) matters. A lot of what has been discussed pertains to "traditional" Turn-Based, Hex-Based play systems (TBHBPSs) in general.

What's a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) within the context of wargaming ? Well, for starters, any computer wargame title does qualify ! :bonk The key issue is the degree to and easiness with which designers may generate diverse content and players may explore diverse battlefield experience options.

SSI's PG1-DOS was that company's initial... salvo in that it launched the 5 Star General long-winded, play system evolution. At the point of its release, the wargame was essentially "canned". It just featured Prestige and Experience modification levers and the choice of utilizing one or more of three play system features: Hidden Units, Weather and Supply. With the passage of time, a host of support utilities were developed independently of SSI. As a result, viewed as a computerized CD&PP, PG1-DOS was being progressively rendered ever more versatile and conveniently helpful with each passing year.
Last edited by HexCode on 2022-01-25 10:48, Tuesday, edited 37 times in total.

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[CDP] Setting the Stage

Post by HexCode » 2021-08-03 03:50, Tuesday

SETTING THE STAGE

This post exclusively features the text of two very important and informative communications recently penned by a veteran / advanced modder. I view the below text as an ideal agenda upon which more detailed posts to follow will be based on (or triggered by).
As for programming languages, that's not the most important decision here - in the modern .NET world any language would do just good; and you can even mix and match (some languages work better for coding certain things than others due to their simplicity - say menus and such, while others would be better when speed of execution is of essence). But these days, nobody is actually developing a game "from scratch" - you would pick one of the popular game engines and start from there. It takes care of handling the graphics, lighting and shading, sound, basic controls and such, so you basically code content - you build the "world" and all the objects that will inhabit it, design sound effects, code the AI module / behavior for all objects in the game (usually in some form of a scripting language unique to the given game engine) and such.

This is why most of the games today, even if dealing with seemingly very different subjects and being in a different genre, often look and feel the same. Also, today 3D is the name of the game; nobody cares about 2D computerized board games any more - and with that the ease of modding / tinkering with the game significantly falls - which for me personally is quite important and a reason why I stuck with PG1 / AG / PacGen -> PGF rather than moving onto "3D like" or true 3D descendants of it. I like to be able to quickly and easily alter my games and create new stuff for them. And while I would likely be able to generate and skin simple 3D objects as well, the time and effort required to do a decent job of it are just too much for me.
AND
The main problem is that, in today's game programming world, it's not easy to find a programmer who would have the will to do a "from the scratch" design rather than to use some of the widely available tools that are out there (i.e. a commercial game engine) and just do "content" for it.

Also, many modern-minded game programmers worry too much about eye candy, to make sure the finished product looks "nice" and "modern" which really in the context of a turn-based war / strategy game isn't nearly the most important part (and as I mentioned before, if overdone, it can complicate things regarding modding and tinkering with the game later). Because, for these kinds of games clarity is more important than anything in the visual sense, and even symbolical representations of units (as used on military-historical maps) would do just as good if not even better than hyper-realistic animated 3D model representations.

So, finding a programmer with the required skill level and an open mind to do things differently from the current norm and who would be willing to put in time into something which is not commercially viable (because, to be realistic, the market for these kind of games is quite small even if we talk "nice looking" modern games, let alone an "ugly" old style one) will be very hard.

I didn't say it's impossible, but IMO it would have to be somebody who is coming from the community itself rather than an "outsider". Unfortunately, at this moment, I do not see anybody in this (rather small) community who fits this bill...

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[CDP] Ideal Situation

Post by HexCode » 2021-08-10 05:03, Tuesday

IDEAL SITUATION

In the real world, computerized Content Design is anything but ideal. Nevertheless, it's analytically helpful to attempt to outline some perceived, ideal situation which can always be fruitfully compared to any specific, real one. There're two inextricably intertwined aspects here:

--- The computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) itself.

--- The Content Designer & Play-Tester (CD&PT) himself.

Ideal, Computerized CD&PP

An Ideal, computerized CD&PP comprises the following constituent elements:

1) A computerized Play System, including its underlying source code.

2) Perfectly integrated, computerized, content editing functionalities including any pertinent, underlying source codes (i.e., dedicated support utilities).

3) Full, unobstructed access to any other helpful utilities, the underlying source codes of which might not be in the public domain.

4) Perfectly accurate, all-inclusive and readily accessible technical information.

Ideal CD&PT

An Ideal CD&PT exhibits the following characteristics:

A) He is an accomplished Developer / Programmer of wargame titles and dedicated, support utilities.

B) He has tremendously diverse interests and tastes which inform both the Play System itself as well as any Designed Content playable under this System.

C) He is an accomplished Author of technical manuals.

D) He intends to engage in Content Design activities under his CD&PP for many years.

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[CDP] Ideal ? Not Likely

Post by HexCode » 2021-08-20 11:55, Friday

IDEAL ? NOT LIKELY

The immediately preceding post outlined computerized Content Design... Paradise ! It's time to come down to planet earth.

The Source Code Isn't "Publicly" Accessible

A computerized wargame's source code is the equivalent of a board wargame's rulebook. Its "public" unavailability forces the Content Designer (CD) to depend on secondary source information (if any) and his own experimentation within the confines of a "black box". SSI's PG1-DOS and Panzer General Forever (PGF) are typical examples.

The Programmer Isn't Accessible or Cooperative

When it comes to de facto abandoned software the source code of which isn't in the public domain, the CD is left to his own devises. The "black box" will continue being, well, a... black box. Once again, SSI's PG1-DOS and Panzer General Forever (PGF) are typical examples.

A somewhat brighter picture emerges in instances where the software isn't abandoned and the programmer is accessible. In such cases everything depends on the relative willingness and ability of the programmer to service a CD's wishes / needs. Open General (OG) is a good example.

Support Utilities

Invariably, a CD has to rely on content editing software. The availability and "public" accessibility of such software is critical. The software's reliability and supportive documentation are extremely important.

Ideally, support utilities should be seamlessly integrated into the wargame proper. The OG Suite is a good example.

More often than not, content editing software are unavailable (at least, "publicly") or, hopefully, some programmer eventually comes to the CD's... rescue and codes such utilities. The case of SSI's PG1-DOS is rather typical.

Technical Knowledge

A CD need not know... everything, of course. The requisite know-how should be in lock step with the CD's "ambition". The more "ambitious" a CD is, the more hobby time he must expend on acquiring technical knowledge.

What's "ambition" ? It's the desire to design and "shoehorn" content markedly different from the one (if any) generally viewed as the wargame's "flagship". Once again, the case of PGF is typical.

Documentation

The more "ambitious" a CD is, the more pressing the need is for well organized, easily accessible, reliable information. PGF's Online Library is a rather atypical example.

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[CDP] Taking It From the Top

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-06 16:25, Monday

TAKING IT FROM THE TOP

Key Statement

Earlier under this topic:
So, finding a programmer with the required skill level and an open mind to do things differently from the current norm and who would be willing to put in time into something which is not commercially viable (because, to be realistic, the market for these kind of games is quite small even if we talk "nice looking" modern games, let alone an "ugly" old style one) will be very hard.
For Profit ? Forget It

Never mind a "wargame" itself. A fully intended, for profit, computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) ? Yeah, what's a snowball's chance of... making it in hell ? :lol Moving on...

Not For Profit ?

Quite unlikely but not impossible. :2cents Once again, never mind the "wargame" itself. The developers / programmers must have an "open mind" towards designing a CD&PP, not just a "wargame". :bonk

But Look, They're Quite "Moddable"

Oftentimes, wargames per se allow Content Designers (CDs) to change all kinds of "things". Not always, such wargames come bundled with reasonably well integrated support (editing) utilities.

Ok, are "we" still talking about CD&PPs ? Well, only in the sense that CDs elect to "shoehorn" their creations into certain wargames, for better or worse. :2cents

So, at least in theory, "moddable" wargames may be viewed as accidental CD&PPs. ;)

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Re: [CDP] Taking It From the Top

Post by Lettos » 2021-09-07 11:32, Tuesday

HexCode wrote:
2021-09-06 16:25, Monday
TAKING IT FROM THE TOP

Key Statement

Earlier under this topic:
So, finding a programmer with the required skill level and an open mind to do things differently from the current norm and who would be willing to put in time into something which is not commercially viable (because, to be realistic, the market for these kind of games is quite small even if we talk "nice looking" modern games, let alone an "ugly" old style one) will be very hard.
For Profit ? Forget It

Never mind a "wargame" itself. A fully intended, for profit, computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) ? Yeah, what's a snowball's chance of... making it in hell ? :lol Moving on...

Not For Profit ?

Quite unlikely but not impossible. :2cents Once again, never mind the "wargame" itself. The developers / programmers must have an "open mind" towards designing a CD&PP, not just a "wargame". :bonk

But Look, They're Quite "Moddable"

Oftentimes, wargames per se allow Content Designers (CDs) to change all kinds of "things". Not always, such wargames come bundled with reasonably well integrated support (editing) utilities.

Ok, are "we" still talking about CD&PPs ? Well, only in the sense that CDs elect to "shoehorn" their creations into certain wargames, for better or worse. :2cents

So, at least in theory, "moddable" wargames may be viewed as accidental CD&PPs. ;)
Wargame was a good past time.
Now it may be needed for two purposes: training military officers, or - to a much lesser extent - for the learning process as part of the study of military history.

The military structures will take care of themselves.
But the study of military history in the context of the general decline in the level of secondary and even higher education is no longer relevant at all.
Statistics:
Total posts 10287 • Total topics 497 • Total members 193 • Our newest member joroi
193 members.
In "World of tanks", where tanks jump off bridges and jump over pumpkins, already has 75 million users.
In June 2013, Wargaming stated that they now have 60 million registered users for World of Tanks.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_of_Tanks

It's about time something changed around here, isn't it? And not at the level of a hobby.

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[CDP] Two Very Useful Examples

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-08 16:43, Wednesday

TWO VERY USEFUL EXAMPLES

Not Particularly Interesting...

Readers who:

1) Are of the opinion that "a wargame is just a... wargame, what else ?"; and / or

2) Just "play" whatever content is "around", no questions asked...

need not spend their precious hobby time reading through this topic's posts. :bonk

Fortuitously, There Are These Two Wargames !

About a decade ago, Panzer General Forever's (PGF's) Developer / Programmer "publicly" stated:
OG naturally inherits PG2 spirit, for better or worse. But at the same time, it is probably the only true product made "by modders for modders"; it has a huge array of options available to designers, and so will remain the ultimate tool for veteran modders. PGF is a good attempt to keep the old PG/AG content alive on modern equipment. Each game is targeted at a very different audience.
The preceding, highly illuminating statement fits this topic's contents like a glove. :)

On a number of occasions, I've "publicly" stated that SSI's Panzer General I for DOS (PG1-DOS) represents the alpha of the 5 Star General play system evolution; Open General (OG) is the omega. Earlier under this topic, I've suggested that Content Design & Play Platforms (CD&PPs) all but require / presuppose not-for-profit project activities. To this effect, viewing PGF as a PG1-DOS "replica", I will unapologetically treat PGF as the contextual alpha.

The preceding sets the stage for diving deeper into CD&PPs and the inevitable Content Designer & Play-Testers (CD&PTs).

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[CDP] Starting Out With A Concept ?

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-09 19:00, Thursday

STARTING OUT WITH A CONCEPT ?

Ideal Preconditions

Ideally, the Development Team Members (DTMs) don't start out by aiming at authoring just a... "wargame". Nay. Instead, they explicitly target a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP).

Collectively, the DTMs "better":

1) Possess a wide knowledge of play system designs which have predated their project.

2) Be open to visualizing and anticipating a truly diverse set of potential content types and play modes to be accommodated by the envisaged, computerized CD&PP.

Panzer General Forever (PGF)

To my knowledge, the DTMs consisted of PGF's sole Developer / Programmer and a few interested hobbyists.

At its inception, PGF wasn't viewed as a computerized CD&PP. Rather, it was welcomed by those hobbyists who desired to render SSI's "flagship" PG1 / AG content playable under a wargame natively coded to Microsoft Windows XP's technical specifications.

Open General (OG)

To my knowledge, the DTMs consisted of OG's sole Developer / Programmer and many interested hobbyists.

At its inception, OG wasn't viewed as a computerized CD&PP. Rather, it was welcomed by those hobbyists who desired to render content playable under SSI's Panzer General II (PG2) way more moddable.
Last edited by HexCode on 2021-09-12 16:49, Sunday, edited 2 times in total.

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[CDP] Initial Motivations & Hoped For Audiences

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-10 17:07, Friday

INITIAL MOTIVATIONS & HOPED FOR AUDIENCES

Computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) development invariably is an extremely multifaceted and challenging affair. The principal actors are the Development Team Members (DTMs). Almost equally important are the Content Designers & Play-Testers (CDs&PTs). The audience at large enters the picture later... :)

Given the non-profit character of the project:

Initial Motivations

The following not necessarily all-inclusive list outlines the most obvious, initial motivations stemming from particular interests / angles.

Enjoying:

1) The construction of an internally consistent play system capable of handling truly diverse content.

2) The specification of the logico-mathematical framework which translates the play system into a programming-friendly, abstract entity.

3) Programming, especially as it pertains to the AI Module as well as multimedia accommodation functionality.

4) The design of pilot content for the purposes of play-testing.

5) Play-testing itself.

6) The thought / hope that "others" might enjoy playing / modding under the envisaged, computerized CD&PP.

Hoped For Audiences

The following not necessarily all-inclusive list outlines the most obvious determinants of potential audiences:

A) DTMs themselves comprise a small but very important audience.

B) CDs&PTs themselves involved in pilot design and testing obviously augment the audience referred to under preceding point (A).

C) A CD&PT complement the size of which increases over time is a necessary precondition for the emergence of a... respectable :) "Pure Player / Light Modder" audience to finally emerge and maintain itself over the long haul.

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[CDP] Inception: Panzer General Forever

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-12 05:01, Sunday

INCEPTION: PANZER GENERAL FOREVER

Relevant Precursors

Panzer General Forever (PGF) certainly didn't appear out of the blue. SSI's Panzer General I (PG1) and Allied General (AG) had already trail-blazed the specific territory of interest.

SSI didn't provide any content editing utilities. Yet, over the years, a handful of technically inclined hobbyists "deciphered" the relevant external support file formats and even proceeded to code content editing utilities which they made available to the hobby for free. In addition, a few very technically adept hobbyists "deciphered" selected subroutines (in hexadecimal code) residing within the relevant executables and put that knowledge to good practical use, thereby rendering the design of "technically demanding" content feasible.

Prima's "Panzer General: The Official Strategy Guide" featured quite a bit of technical information (albeit, not always reliable) regarding play system mechanics and internals.

Foundational Choices

PGF's Developer / Programmer "simply" decided to replicate PG1's / AG's play system mechanics and internals. Irrespective of whether this individual at the time even thought of Content Design & Play Platforms (CD&PPs), his decision was tantamount to irrevocably establishing important foundations to underlay whatever (if anything) was going to happen in the years to come. PGF was going to:

1) Be "freeware".

2) Be a "classic", turn-based wargame.

3) Sport play system mechanics and internals consistent with SSI's 5 Star General paradigm. Most importantly, Individual Unit Independent Action Phases would replace traditional, Collective Unit Action Phases.

4) Feature an AI Module.

5) Feature SSI's "flagship" PG1/AG content, suitably converted so as to be playable under the envisaged wargame. In fact, the aforesaid content would be an inextricable, defining aspect of the wargame.

Modding Functionality Intentions

Given the hobby's past experience with technical "investigations" and the attendant appearance of content editing utilities, it should come as no surprise that, at the beginning, PGF's Developer / Programmer definitely saw the need for rendering modding activities under PGF substantially easier than was the case with good ol' PG1/AG.

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[CDP] Inception: Open General

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-17 19:14, Friday

INCEPTION: OPEN GENERAL

Relevant Precursor

Open General (OG) certainly didn't appear out of the blue. SSI's Panzer General II (PG2) had already trail-blazed the specific territory of interest.

SSI did provide an integrated content editing utility, the Scenario Builder. Yet, over the years, a handful of technically inclined hobbyists "deciphered" the relevant external support file formats and even proceeded to code more content editing utilities which they made available to the hobby for free. In addition, a few very technically adept hobbyists "deciphered" selected subroutines (in hexadecimal code) residing within the relevant executable and put that knowledge to good practical use, thereby rendering the design of "technically demanding" content feasible.

Foundational Choices

OG's Developer / Programmer "simply" decided to replicate PG2's play system mechanics and internals. Irrespective of whether this individual at the time even thought of Content Design & Play Platforms (CD&PPs), his decision was tantamount to irrevocably establishing important foundations to underlay whatever (if anything) was going to happen in the years to come. OG was going to:

1) Be "freeware".

2) Be a "classic", turn-based wargame.

3) Sport play system mechanics and internals consistent with SSI's 5 Star General paradigm. Most importantly, Individual Unit Independent Action Phases would replace traditional, Collective Unit Action Phases.

4) Feature an AI Module.

5) Somehow feature SSI's "flagship" PG2 content, suitably converted so as to be playable under the envisaged wargame. In fact, the aforesaid content would be a pilot design aspect of the wargame.

Modding Functionality Intentions

Given the hobby's past experience with technical "investigations" and the attendant appearance of content editing utilities, it should come as no surprise that, at OG's inception, OG's Developer / Programmer definitely saw the need for rendering modding activities under OG substantially easier as well as richer than was the case with good ol' PG2.

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[CDP] In Real Life It's From the Bottom Up

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-19 05:32, Sunday

IN REAL LIFE IT'S FROM THE BOTTOM UP

Let's Get Real

Up until this point, computerized Content Design & Play Platforms (CD&PPs) have been mostly presented as top down intellectual and programming exercises by... Philosopher-Developers ! :) In real life, computerized CD&PPs eventually emerge from within the bosom of particular wargame titles. Invariably, a wended trajectory full of trials and tribulations precedes their "formal" emergence, if ever.

Precursor Wargame Titles Included

A computerized (CD&PP) "story" usually starts with one or a few wargame titles. Such titles may be commercial releases or not. However, "things" start for real when a successor wargame title appears which is freeware.

SSI's Panzer General I (PG1) and Allied General (AG) have fueled Panzer General Forever's (PGF's) appearance and, hence, are important elements of the "story".

SSI's Panzer General II (PG2) has fueled Open General's (OG's) appearance. Similarly, SSI's wargame title is an important element of the "story"

Are They "Canned" ?

A "pure" wargame title doesn't give a hoot about modders. Less than "pure" wargame titles feature integrated content editing functionalities.

PG1 / AG were as "pure" as they come. They were completely "canned". On the other hand, PG2's Scenario Builder represented an attempt to satisfy modder types which SSI perceived as being likely contributors to the company's bottom line in some significant way.

Let's Help Modders

A "pure" (i.e., completely "canned") wargame may not remain such forever. Technically knowledgeable, capable and willing hobbyists may come out of the woodwork and develop content editing utilities with or without the consent of the entity owning the rights to the "canned" wargame they're targeting.

None of SSI's wargame titles remained "pure" for long. In fact, PG2 was "impure" from the get go. Clearly, modders did get some help.

Hey, Isn't That Enough ?

In a static world, all that PG1 / AG modders would've needed would've been a utility such as PG2's Scenario Builder, thank you very much.

Modder needs and desires are anything but static. Modders keep on needing / wanting additional functionalities. At the same time, continually meeting such needs and desires progressively renders the size of the pool of modders who keep on asking for more, ever smaller.

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[CDP] Wargame Replication

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-21 19:31, Tuesday

WARGAME REPLICATION

Important Caveat

Abbreviations:

SSI's Panzer General I (PG1)
SSI's Allied General (AG)
SSI's Panzer General II (PG2)
Linux General (LG)
Panzer General Forever (PGF)
Open General (OG)

Due to my own lasting hobby interests and focus, I am much more familiar with the details of the PG1/LG/AG/PGF "story" when compared to the PG2/OG one.

Play System Replication

Conceptually, attempting to Replicate an existing, computerized wargame is tantamount to automatically electing to fully embrace the wargame's underlying play system. In this sense, the envisaged wargame Replica will straightforwardly incorporate and reflect the replicated wargame's overall hobby orientation.

The Examples: PG1/LG/AG ==> PGF and LG/PG2 ==> OG

Source Code Unavailability

Attempting to Replicate a commercially released title almost always implies that its source code will be unavailable. To be fair, "freeware" source codes aren't always available either; au contraire...

SO, a Replicator must deal with the usual... "black boxes".

When it came to PGF and OG, LG was the only relevant, computerized wargame the source code of which was in the public domain. PGF's Developer / Programmer "publicly" stated that he did take advantage of LG's source code.

Unsatisfactory Play System Information

Computerized wargames never come with adequate and reliable play system information. To the extent that such information even exists "somewhere", it should always be taken as something to be tested for as opposed to be blindly and naively relied upon.

SO, a Replicator must engage in wide ranging, very time consuming, almost thankless experimentation with the wargame to be Replicated.

The Developers / Programmers of PGF and OG have "publicly" stated that the preceding was, in fact, the actual case. PG1 and PG2 respectively were extensively as well as intensively experimented with.

Play System "Deep" Information

Computerized wargames feature "engines" which are executables. They contain formulas which are almost impossible to zero in on via experimentation. Unless one successfully decompiles these executables, he won't be able to fully Replicate the underlying play systems.

PGF's Developer / Programmer "publicly" stated that he successfully decompiled PG1-Win95's executable (easier than dealing directly with PG1-DOS). He also added that he aided PG2's Replication by selectively decompiling PG2's executable and "uncovering" those... elusive combat-related formulas.
Last edited by HexCode on 2021-09-26 05:34, Sunday, edited 1 time in total.

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[CDP] Wargame Titles: Their Significance

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-26 05:29, Sunday

WARGAME TITLES: THEIR SIGNIFICANCE

Another Important Caveat

My personal interest in Content Design & Play Platforms (CD&PPs) goes back a few decades. Now, when it comes to "our" TWO (2) Examples (i.e., PGF & OG), I haven't served as a member of their Development or Playtesting teams, however such teams may be defined or perceived.

My commentary specific to those two wargames is solely based on the software themselves, existing content playable under them and many relevant posts lodged in Web venues such as these OG forums.

What's In A Title / Name ?

Sometimes, a wargame title itself says a lot; at least at the wargame's inception and early development years. In essence, it heralds the shape of its intended future, if any.

Panzer General Forever

The case of Panzer General Forever (PGF) seems to me to be pretty clear. PGF's Developer / Programmer "publicly" stated:
PGF is a good attempt to keep the old PG/AG content alive on modern equipment.
SO:

a) I deem it unlikely that the "Forever" part just applied to the underlying play system. Rather, it very directly applied to SSI's "flagship" content itself. Relatedly, the "Panzer General" part could easily be interpreted as establishing a perceived or desired primacy of stock PG1 content over stock AG content.

b) What about PGF's intended future ? Well, as far as I can tell, no such thing was in the cards ! :bonk

Open General

The case of Open General (OG) was very, very different, indeed. As an observer, PGF's Developer / Programmer put it succinctly in a "public" post of his:
OG naturally inherits PG2 spirit, for better or worse. But at the same time, it is probably the only true product made "by modders for modders"; it has a huge array of options available to designers, and so will remain the ultimate tool for veteran modders.
As far as I'm concerned, the seed to OG's eventual evolution is likely to be found in the choice of the wargame's title / name. Most significantly, it was NOT Open Panzer General II (OPG2) ! :nyet

SO:

1) Instead of outright celebrating PG2's play system near perfection :) , the "Open" part seems to me to have heralded an emerging, open mindset willing to entertain significant enhancements to the underlying play system and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Module. I would imagine that the "General" part was intended to communicate that OG's play system would always be easily recognizable as a 5 Star General emulation of sorts.

2) Instead of lionizing SSI's "flagship" content, it seems to me that the "Open" part pointed towards an emerging content specificity agnosticism.

3) What about OG's intended future ? Well, something that's "open" must have a future, right ? :ihope Openness implies possibilities... :bonk

CD&PPs On the Horizon ?

With respect to PGF's and OG's inception and early development years:

A) PGF: If some hobbyist happened to view / treat the wargame as a CD&PP in the making, all the power to him and good luck ! :evil :)

B) OG: The "openness" DID point towards a potential CD&PP in the making. :2cents In other words, wargame Replication would more than likely be the development's initial phase only.

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[CDP] Precursor Wargame Content: Its Relevance

Post by HexCode » 2021-09-29 19:25, Wednesday

PRECURSOR WARGAME CONTENT: ITS RELEVANCE

Abbreviations

AG = SSI's Allied General
PG1 = SSI's Panzer General
PG2 = SSI's Panzer General II
PGF = Panzer General Forever
OG = Open General

Who Actually Plays ? A... Red Herring !

Let's get something rather important out of the way, once and for all. Unless some wargame aficionado "publicly" posts or otherwise communicates about his player experience, all this will be confined to the bottom 90% of the hobby... iceberg; "publicly" invisible and, hence, essentially unknowable.

My background is anthropology, not psychology. In any case, to the extent that Developer / Programmer team members may derive some encouragement and satisfaction by imagining or speculating about a gazillion players privately enjoying the fruits of their not-for-profit projects, well, that's a very good and, most certainly, harmless thing, indeed. :2cents

Precursor Wargame Content: What to Do With It ?

From a technical standpoint, it makes a lot of sense that the precursor wargame's "flagship" content would be put to good playtesting use. However, what about custom content ? Is it relevant ? In my opinion, there're two related, critical issues to consider:

1) To the extent that potential playtesters aren't members of a tightly knit team, their good will re: potential playtesting in the future better be preserved. :bonk

2) Oftentimes, informal playtesters are custom content designers first and foremost. One shouldn't infuriate them by consigning their "masterpieces" of old to the dustbin of hobby history. :( Besides, such hobbyists may be relied upon in the future to generate custom content playable under the envisaged successor wargame... :bonk

Panzer General Forever

PGF's case was pretty straightforward. The project essentially focused on SSI's "flagship" (i.e., PG1/AG) content. Custom content was somewhat discussed but played a very minor role in the PG1/AG Replication project. It's important to note that custom content playable under PG1/AG has NEVER enjoyed "centralized" referencing, let alone accessibility. It was a thoroughly anarchic, piecemeal reality...

Open General

OG's case was considerably more complicated. As an observer, PGF's Developer / Programmer opined:
Exact PG2 game formulas were not known until I researched them, a few years ago. Which did not prevent the enthusiasts here from creating a lot of great campaigns for PG2.
Yes, unlike PG1/AG, PG2 custom content designers:

a) Generated a lot of accessible campaigns.

b) These campaigns did enjoy "centralized" referencing via the Campaign Challenge "public" mechanism.

Backwards Compatibility Preservation ?

Clearly, backwards compatibility preservation of custom content playable under precursor wargames is quite important to the extent that hitherto "publicly" active hobbyists need be enticed to stay with the Replication projects and hopefully contribute to their future development.

Panzer General Forever

PGF's situation was... tautological. It's Developer / Programmer converted SSI's "flagship" (i.e., PG1/AG) content and rendered it playable under PGF's play system (the Replica). That's backwards compatibility preservation in spades ! :)

Open General

It should come as no surprise that playing custom content hitherto playable under PG2 had to be technically accommodated under OG; or else... :evil :)

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[CDP] Web Venue Exposure: Implications

Post by HexCode » 2021-10-06 05:55, Wednesday

WEB VENUE EXPOSURE: IMPLICATIONS

How Extensive ?

A Replicator project may entail lodging a few posts here and a couple of announcements there. I'm NOT particularly interested in such rather pedestrian Web phenomena. Rather, I fully intend to focus on the kind of project where some Web venue plays a central, even critical, role in its evolution.

A Web venue such as these forums may host a flurry of highly interactive posts discussing a Replicator project's future in more or less specific terms.

Any Benefits ?

The more likely it is for a Replicator project to eventually morph into a "respectable", computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP), the more benefits can be gotten directly attributable to the project's "serious" and persistent Web venue exposure.

New Ideas Coming Up From the Floor

Wargame development team members are NOT all knowing philosopher-programmers. :) They always stand to benefit from hobbyists' ideas and opinions, irrespective of whether they will (or not) be actually acting upon them.

Volunteers

Not-for-profit wargame development brings together hobbyists with diverse interests, skills as well as practical attitudes. Besides the inevitable play system programming per se, "someone" has to design content and playtest it, for example.

Episodic Feedback

Not all hobbyists are predisposed towards maintaining lasting commitments in the context of Replicator projects. Nevertheless, some such individuals aren't completely "selfish"; namely, they do bother to post regarding "warts" they may have come across during play.

Any Downside ?

Precursor Wargame Attachment

[OPN] WWG Hobby Conservatism
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=503#p8548

outlines a hobbyist personality that one comes across in wargaming circles quite often. In a nutshell, the Replicator project team may come across fierce resistance by hobbyists not willing to stray too too far from the Precursor wargame's play system. Such resistance may very well poison the "public" goodwill well...

IRONICALLY:

Whether conscious or unconscious, when it comes to a CD&PP's evolutionary trajectory, hobby conservatism serves two rather useful functions:

a) It subjects any new ideas put forward to hypercritical discourse.

b) It affords the programmer some relatively peace and quiet so that whatever new he decides to incorporate into his code can be done on a sure footing and won't end up creating undesirably messy outcomes which might be very hard to troubleshoot.

Poster Selfishness & Insensitivity

[EPH] Virtual Written Communications
viewtopic.php?f=95&t=174&start=100#p9749

The foregoing says it all. That's what I'm talking about...

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[CDP] Web Venue Exposure: Panzer General Forever

Post by HexCode » 2021-10-22 18:12, Friday

WEB VENUE EXPOSURE: PANZER GENERAL FOREVER

1) A certain (now defunct) Web venue DID play an important role in this Replicator Project's (RP's) early evolution. The Web venue hosted a flurry of reasonably interactive posts discussing some of the RP's features in more or less specific terms. Unfortunately, the specific forum hosting these posts accommodated quite a few wargame titles which resulted in a rather messy topic structure.

2) Although the RP was subjected to "serious" and persistent Web venue exposure early on, "public" talk about it potentially serving as a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) never got off the ground. The closest that it got to that were a few "public" discussions involving a couple of posters who were proposing that the RP be programmed to emulate the (feature-richer) play system underlying SSI's Pacific General. Nothing came of this.

The fact that the RP's Developer / Programmer (D/P) was heavily involved in "public" discussions himself may be considered as prima facie evidence that he was getting something out of whatever was coming his way up from the Web venue's "floor".

Having perused all the relevant posts, I was struck by how little help actually came up from the "floor" regarding reliable PG1-DOS' play system and pertinent technical information.

3) It appears that a few posters did playtest "things PGF" on a rather episodic basis. Nevertheless, they were NOT predisposed towards maintaining any lasting commitments in the context of the RP's evolution. But, a few hobbyists DID bother to post regarding "warts" they were coming across during play.

Interestingly enough, the D/P's sole "sidekick" was very conscientious but a novice when it came to PG1-DOS' play system and pertinent technical knowledge.

4) Because of the RP's sharply narrow intent and focus, there was no "conservative" hobbyist resistance to it and, consequently, no poisoning of the "public" goodwill well... To this effect, there was no need to subject PGF's play system to any critical discourse. As a result, the R/P's D/P was the beneficiary of relative peace and quiet when it came to truly serious matters such as, well, programming...

5) Quite a few posters profusely thanked the RP's D/P for making it possible for them to play SSI's "flagship" content without having to resort to "exotic" technical solutions involving DOSbox and the like. Others appeared to be tone deaf in that they kept on pestering the RP's D/P with frivolous questions and observations regarding some pet content of theirs...

All in all, a lot of posting activity either had no useful impact on the RP's early evolution or, worse, wasted a lot of the D/P's precious time by chasing after... unicorns ! :2cents

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[CDP] Web Venue Exposure: Open General

Post by HexCode » 2021-11-12 04:45, Friday

WEB VENUE EXPOSURE: OPEN GENERAL

1) A certain (now defunct) Web venue DID play an important role in this project's early evolution. The Web venue hosted a flurry of reasonably interactive posts discussing some of the project's features in more or less specific terms. More importantly, perhaps, Open General's (OG's) Developer / Programmer (D/P) independently maintained and fully controlled a Web venue essentially dedicated to OG.

2) Although the project was subjected to "serious" and persistent Web venue exposure early on, "public" talk about it potentially serving as a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) never got off the ground. In fact, some posters emphatically claimed that OG was NEVER "intended" to serve as a CD&PP...

The fact that OG's D/P was heavily involved in "public" discussions himself may be considered as prima facie evidence that he was getting something out of whatever was coming his way up from the Web venue's "floor".

3) It appears that some posters did playtest "things OG" on a rather episodic basis. Nevertheless, quite a few of them were NOT predisposed towards maintaining any lasting commitments in the context of the project's evolution. For sure, though, some hobbyists DID bother to post regarding "warts" they were coming across during play.

4) There certainly was serious, "conservative" hobbyist resistance to OG. To this effect, poisoning of a "portion" of the "public" goodwill well did occur in some instances... However, the aforesaid resistance subjected virtually all of OG play system "innovations" (i.e. PG2 play system deviations) to determined, critical discourse. This resistance considerably slowed down OG's evolutionary pace. Ironically enough, OG's D/P was the beneficiary of that slow pace in that it allowed him to effectively focus on truly serious matters such as, well, programming in technically chewable chunks...

5) Some posters profusely thanked OG's D/P for making it possible for them to play PG2 "flagship" and custom content on operating systems of more recent vintage without technical hassles. Others appeared to be tone deaf in that they kept on pestering OG's D/P with frivolous questions and observations regarding some pet content of theirs, now potentially playable under a markedly different AI... A few hobbyists truly embraced OG thereby rendering themselves members of OG's "informal" development team.

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[CDP] Evolutionary Steady State

Post by HexCode » 2021-12-03 10:15, Friday

EVOLUTIONARY STEADY STATE

Obstacles to Overcome

A computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) either fails within a relatively short time following its inception or eventually reaches an evolutionary steady state (ESS). Reaching that ESS all but presupposes that:

a) The Developer(s) / Programmer(s) (D / P(s)) don't get discouraged enough by the inevitable annoyances and disappointments inherent in such projects' inception phase so as to unceremoniously, even abruptly, quit.

b) The D / P(s) are quite comfortable with the notion which requires them to actively pursue the project over a rather lengthy period of time (invariably measured in years).

c) The usually "informal" Development Team (DT) members don't get bored or otherwise sidetracked over time.

d) There's, perhaps, a "minimum level" of Modder / Player (M / P) "publicly" expressed interest which doesn't appear to be dying out.

Technical Matters

1) Programming a CD&PP which has reached ESS and is chugging along is way more demanding than programming some wargame title to specification. A CD&PP programmer must have the patience of the... biblical Job, not to talk about exhibiting a dogged perseverance and an unbridled optimism. CD&PP programming is subject to feature openness. The code has to be modified / augmented repeatedly as the CD&PP's play system progressively expands in scope and detail. To this effect, every programmed play system modification / augmentation has the potential of introducing unforeseen, often undesirable, effects.

2) Unlike some "canned" wargame title, a CD&PP uses Modder-friendly, external support files to the max. The play system's progressive enrichment inevitably necessitates that external support file formats be periodically revised to reflect and work along with the play system's ever evolving code.

3) To the extent that a CD&PP features bundled support utilities and / or an AI module, their programming must be periodically modified / augmented to bring them into concordance with the play system's ever changing code.

Bottom Line: Oh, those poor D / P(s) !! :(

Modder / Player Attitudes & Involvement

A) Uncommunicative "pure" Players are irrelevant to a CD&PP's ESS.

B) Communicative M /Ps can be quite useful in that they may serve as an ad hoc, ever changing in composition, hobbyist group the members of which occasionally "post" about any ostensible "warts" they've come across during their "play time".

C) Over the long haul, a CD&PP's "informal" DT members play an extremely important role which often mightily extends into the... psychological sphere. Not only do they shine in their rather obvious role as "dedicated" M / Ps, their very "public" presence and frequent interaction with the D / P(s) provide a much needed and most assuredly appreciated, psychological boost to the "struggling" CD&PP's D / P(s).

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[CDP] ESS ?: Panzer General Forever

Post by HexCode » 2021-12-13 16:22, Monday

ESS ?: PANZER GENERAL FOREVER

Project Evolution & De Facto "Abandonment"

As far as I know, the Developer / Programmer (D / P) of Panzer General Forever (PGF) NEVER claimed that this Replicator project was intended to serve as a Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP). Therefore, one CAN'T logically conclude that the project... failed as such.

Did the project reach an Evolutionary Steady State (ESS) ? Well, NOT exactly. The project was "kind of finished" and subsequently de facto "abandoned" within the span of something like three years from its inception. Leading up to the project's de facto "abandonment", one can... tautologically assert that the D / P didn't quit prior to it due to any annoyances or disappointments. :) Moreover, as it turned out, for whatever compelling (or NOT) reasons, the D / P was not prepared to maintain a multi-year commitment to the project beyond the aforementioned three year period.

Following the project's de facto "abandonment", PGF's "informal" Development Team (DT) members (not that many to begin with) gradually dropped out of "public" sight.

Technical Matters

The D / P elected NOT to put PGF's source code in the public domain. Consequently, barring direct hex-exiting of the executable, the play system and AI Module could NOT be augmented or otherwise modified.

Although PGF was clearly intended to be an "essentially canned" wargame, the D / P DID bother to introduce a few Modder-friendly, external support file formats (i.e., plain text).

Other than a rudimentary content conversion capability embedded right into PGF's executable, the Replicator project did NOT feature any bundled support utilities whatsoever. Nevertheless, another D / P significantly modified a preexisting support utility targeting SSI's PG1-DOS to enable Modders to engage in certain "SSI-style content" modding activities under PGF.

Modder / Player Attitudes & Involvement

For a decade or so ever since the project's de facto "abandonment", a few PGF Modders / Players (Ms / Ps) sporadically made "public appearances" to introduce their (invariably "lite") Mods and / or comment on related play matters. The frequency of such observable goings on gradually diminished over time...

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[CDP] ESS: Open General

Post by HexCode » 2021-12-24 16:24, Friday

ESS: OPEN GENERAL

Project Evolution

Viewed through the prism of a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP), Open General (OG) reached its evolutionary steady state (ESS) a good number of years ago.

a) The Developer / Programmer (D / P) didn't get discouraged enough by the inevitable annoyances and disappointments inherent in such projects' evolutionary trajectories so as to unceremoniously, even abruptly, quit.

b) Obviously, the D / P has been quite comfortable with the notion which required him to actively pursue the project over a rather lengthy period of time (certainly measured in years).

c) At any point in time, there has been a sufficient number of "informal" Development Team (DT) members to usefully interact with the project's D / P.

d) An "adequate level" of Modder / Player (M / P) "publicly" expressed interest has been maintained over the long-haul.

Technical Matters

1) OG reached its ESS a good number of years ago and has been chugging along ever since. The project's D / P DID exhibit the patience of the... biblical Job, what with his dogged perseverance and unbridled optimism throughout all these years. OG's code has been modified / augmented many, many times as the underlying play system progressively expanded in scope and detail. Some such system modifications / augmentations did introduce unforeseen, often undesirable, effects which eventually got corrected.

2) OG does use some Modder-friendly, external support files. The play system's progressive enrichment inevitably necessitated that external support file formats be periodically revised to reflect and work along with the play system's ever evolving code.

3) OG comes bundled with an Editor Suite and an AI module. Their programming has been periodically modified / augmented to bring them into concordance with the play system's ever changing code.

Modder / Player Attitudes & Involvement

A) Uncommunicative "pure" Players have been irrelevant to OG's ESS.

B) Communicative M /Ps have been quite useful in that they served as an ad hoc, ever changing in composition, hobbyist group the members of which occasionally "post" about any ostensible "warts" they come across during their "play time".

C) I speculate that, over the long-haul, OG's "informal" DT members played an extremely important role. Not only did they shine in their rather obvious role as "dedicated" M / Ps, their very "public" presence and frequent interaction with the D / P must have provided a much needed and likely quite appreciated, psychological boost to the "struggling" D / P. :2cents

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[CDP] ESS: Post-Abandonment Possibilities

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-07 19:58, Friday

ESS: POST-ABANDONMENT POSSIBILITIES

This post sets the stage for my remaining contributions under this topic.

No Programmer, No Source Code

Earlier under this topic, I wrote:
What's a computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) within the context of wargaming ? Well, for starters, any computer wargame title does qualify ! :bonk The key issue is the degree to and easiness with which designers may generate diverse content and players may explore diverse battlefield experience options.
Can there be "hobby life" following some Developer's / Programmer's de facto abandonment of a wargame crucially coupled with source code de facto inaccessibility ? Of course it can. Just look at SSI's Peoples General...

HOWEVER

What about an Evolutionary Steady State (ESS) ? Specifically, in what ways can the de facto abandoned wargame serve as an evolving, computerized CD&PP ?

Two Potential, Interrelated Evolutionary Axes

1) Invariably, computerized wargames "come" with some "flagship content". The lion's share of post-release modding revolves around close emulations of such content. It's the desire to mod content which radically departs from the "flagship content orthodoxy's" ways and actually doing so that can serve as a credible Potential Evolutionary Axis (PEA).

2) Relatedly, computerized wargames "come" with skimpy or no play system documentation. Hobbyists can certainly play and enjoy diverse content adhering to the aforementioned "flagship content orthodoxy" with a rather limited knowledge of the underlying playing system. However, playing mods which radically deviate from the "canon" all but necessitates that modders and players alike possess way more detailed knowledge of the play system's capabilities and limitations. It's the painstaking, gradual acquisition of such ever growing knowledge that can serve as a credible PEA.

Requisite Experimentation Focus

Experimenting with:

a) The wargame in "as is condition" by setting up diverse content "snapshots".

b) Binary or text-formatted, external support file settings by... fearlessly modifying their values. :yes

c) Executables by... fearlessly hex-editing their hexadecimal entrails. :yes

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[CDP] Abandoned, Cryptic Platforms

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-14 20:29, Friday

ABANDONED, CRYPTIC PLATFORMS

I know of no computerized Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP) the development of which was launched while at the same time consciously intending to eventually... abandon it. On the other hand, I know of quite a few such Platforms the source codes of which have never been "publicly" released. In my books, such Platforms are, well, de facto cryptic.

Video Wargaming

Video wargaming is pursued by humans playing various computer wargames. More often than not, human players duke it out with the wargames' Programmed Opponents (AI). The underlying play systems are quite complex. Yet, to the extent that explanatory documentation exists at all, it tends to gloss over quite a bit of "detail". Nevertheless, the sort of content that comes with video wargames can be thoroughly enjoyed by video wargamers possessing only some basic play system knowledge, mostly adaptively learned via the very act of playing. The resulting playing experience essentially amounts to "entertainment-lite". Moreover, video wargamers play all kinds of wargames. Consequently, they very seldom acquire detailed play system knowledge of any such wargame. Simply put, they just don't need to.

Abduct This Video Wargame !

At the technical level, a typical wargame consists of a main executable (the "engine") and a number of external support file formats. It also encompasses the wargame's editing utilities (if any). When it comes to content though, "flagship" or custom, an interested party can take it or leave it...

Not every hobbyist possesses the necessary programming skills to develop his very own computerized CD&PP from scratch. Also, irreconcilable differences in wargaming interests may make it impossible and, often, manifestly counterproductive to meaningfully engage with the Developers / Programmers of some evolving, computerized CD&PP.

That's where abandoned video wargames possibly come in. Basically, an interested hobbyist may decide to... abduct some such wargame and treat it as his personal, computerized CD&PP. Almost always, the video wargame subject to... abduction is cryptic as well !

Enter the Abandoned, Cryptic Platform

It takes a very conscious decision on the part of a hobbyist to treat some video wargame as his personal, computerized CD&PP. In my case, I've chosen SSI's PG1-DOS and its "replicator sequel", A. Shargin's Panzer General Forever (PGF), for... abduction. As far as I'm concerned, I'm currently treating PGF as an Abandoned, Cryptic Platform (ACP). Although conceptual, the remainder of my contributions under this topic will nevertheless draw heavily upon my experiences with my chosen ACP.

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[CDP] ACP: Niche Interests

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-18 20:34, Tuesday

ACP: NICHE INTERESTS

ACP = Abandoned, Cryptic Platform

A... "Canned" Wargame Developer / Programmer Opines
... in such a game, the rules, content and AI all work together to create the playing experience.
The above is a truism, of course. However, within the context of video wargaming, there's an implied suggestion. Namely, one should either accept the playing experience "as is" or simply move on to the next... "canned" wargame.

Rare Hobbyists...

It so happens that, once in a blue moon, a hobbyist will choose NOT to move on. Instead, he will... abduct the wargame and treat it as his personal, Content Design & Play Platform (CD&PP). Why ? Because he exhibits strong, niche interests. :bonk

AI Play Interests

More often than not, a wargame's Programmed Opponent (i.e., AI Module) is anything but reasonably competent. Technical knowledge acquired via experimentation with the wargame's engine and external support files may unearth ways to markedly improve the Module's battlefield performance.

All-Human Play Interests

In depth technical experimentation may unearth all kinds of hitherto "hidden" rules / features / properties which could be put to good use when it comes to play between knowledgeable human players (invariably, one or two, tops ! :) ) intending to "stick around" for years. Remember, this isn't anything like the ever popular chess... :bonk

Qualitatively Different Custom Content

Irrespective of the targeted play mode, an ACP all but invites the design of custom content which is qualitatively different from the wargame's "flagship" content. Such design products specifically aim at triggering "higher" quality (i.e., intellectually more demanding) play experiences. :ihope Something kind of like, well, ... chess, my preceding reference to that classic game notwithstanding ! ;)

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[CDP] ACP: No "Outsider" Annoyances

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-22 06:49, Saturday

ACP: NO "OUTSIDER" ANNOYANCES

ACP = Abandoned, Cryptic Platform

Narrowing the Focus

The... abducted VIDEO wargame utilized as an ACP is:

a) Hex Based
b) Half-Turn Based
c) NOT Real Time
d) Inviting warfare scales NOT "lower" than Grand Tactical and NOT "higher" than Grand Operational (i.e., NO Platoon or Army Corps explicit representations).

Copyright Challenges

To the extent that the... abducted wargame is a commercial release, copyright challenges are highly improbable. Such legacy wargames are hopelessly retro and certainly NOT big money makers. As long as the... abductors don't try to make money out of their niche interests, they should consider themselves pretty safe... :2cents

Spiteful Programmer Annoyances

It's always possible that a freeware wargame's Developer / Programmer may strongly dislike the... abductor(s) as well as his / their niche interests. To this effect, he may be tempted to cause some "trouble". Well, as long as the designed content is kept private, the spiteful Developer / Programmer can't do much; otherwise, it would be akin to fighting... ghosts. :)

Fan Annoyances

It's always possible that a segment of a wargame's fan base may also strongly dislike the... abductor(s) as well as his / their niche interests. To this effect, some of them may be dreaming of causing some "trouble". Once again, as long as the designed content is kept private, such hostile fans can't do much... :bonk

The Meaning of "Private"

It isn't necessary that niche interests be pursued by a single, solitary hobbyist. A few hobbyists seeing eye to eye on how to take advantage of a particular ACP may band together and collaboratively pursue content design and play. If so, their products and activities will remain "private" (i.e., unknowable) to the remainder of the "hobby world"; NOT to them, for sure ! :bonk

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[CDP] ACP: Significant Differences (Part I)

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-25 01:32, Tuesday

ACP: SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES (Part I)

ACP = Abandoned, Cryptic Platform

The ACPs I am covering under this topic are computerized. To this effect, they first appeared as self-contained, VIDEO wargames sporting some "flagship" content.

Hobbyists employing computerized ACPs for content design and play have very little in common with the "Player & Modder-Lite" hobby culture which revolves around the corresponding VIDEO wargames per se. There're very significant differences at... play :) ; indeed !

Computer-Assisted Matters

Elsewhere in these forums:
The earliest envisaged usefulness of computers in wargaming was to relieve players from the drudgery of having to count hexes, roll dice and the like (i.e., wargame "bean-counting").
The "Player & Modder-Lite" hobby culture just... "observes & obeys". In fact, there's very little interest in understanding how the computer "counts beans" and why.

The ACP hobby culture is very, very interested in the ways and hows of "bean-counting". Via extensive experimentation, the hobby culture aims at full understanding. Once that's accomplished, the requisite conclusions are carefully and securely documented within the situationally appropriate media.

Computer-Moderated & Computer-Enhanced Matters

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A bit later, the appearance of "robust / responsible code" opened the way for players to begin trusting the underlying software's ability to impartially and accurately observe and "police" a wargame's play rules.

Eventually, Designers / Developers embarked on a trip the purpose of which was to come up with and implement features which, without the computer's assistance, would be virtually impossible to emulate in a board wargame environment (e.g., Fog of War, "dummy stacks" notwithstanding).
Once again, the "Player & Modder-Lite" hobby culture just... "observes & obeys". From time to time, some hobbyist comes across some... aberrant (?) play system behavior and invariably cries out... BUG ! :lol Not unexpectedly, there's very little interest in a follow-up understanding of the whys behind such... unsettling observations. ;)

Naturally, the ACP hobby culture is quite interested in the ways and hows of everything, "strange" behavior included ! There's NO such a thing as a... "BUG". Virtually every... aberrant behavior can be viewed as a play system exception which, under certain circumstances, can be put to imaginative use by a creative content designer. Via extensive experimentation, including the judicious hex-editing of the wargame's binary files (as well as those of pertinent support utilities, if any), the hobby culture aims at nothing less short of full understanding. Unsurprisingly, once that's accomplished, the relevant results are carefully and securely documented within the situationally appropriate media.

HexCode
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[CDP] ACP: Significant Differences (Part II)

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-25 10:08, Tuesday

ACP: SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES (Part II)

ACP = Abandoned, Cryptic Platform

Computer-Glorified & Computer-Entertained Matters

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It didn't take long for the industry to realize that a hitherto untapped, customer cohort was there to be commercially exploited. To this end, role-playing elements / features were introduced directly aiming at inducing "heroic, larger than life" emotional states in such players. Ever since, such players have been identified as the dominant slice of video wargamers.
Finally, multimedia elements / features were also introduced aimed at entertaining video wargamers not so much by lionizing them but rather by inducing psychological "being there" states (antiseptically presented, of course, since no virtual stray bullet / bomb could ever threaten such players).
I'm going to make this quite short and to the point. In my opinion, hobbyists who are "serious" about designing content and playing it via an ACP invariably consider the preceding matters to be peripheral and rather unimportant. Such features / content are at best harmless and at worst distracting to players intent on engaging in thoughtful play (especially in All-Human Play Mode). :2cents

HexCode
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[CDP] Concluding Remarks

Post by HexCode » 2022-01-25 10:46, Tuesday

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Computer-Challenged Matters

Elsewhere in these forums:
The real break with board wargaming came about through the industry's introduction and continual embellishment of Programmed Opponents (POs), usually referred to as Artificial Intelligence (AI). In theory as well as in demonstrable, widespread practice, a player couldn't care less about "finding" another player to, well, ... play, anymore. Instead, the "computer" would be there at a moment's notice... It's here that video wargaming entered the hobby picture in a major way.
So be it. Hobbyists who adopt some Abandoned, Cryptic Platform (ACP) to do their content design and actually play as well may be able to improve the AI's battlefield performance by taking advantage of helpful, technical "discoveries".

NEVERTHELESS:

ACPs are ideal for supporting content design specifically aiming at enabling challenging all-human play. Yeah, like in board wargaming... :)

Detailed Documentation Is a Sine Qua Non

Taking effective advantage of an ACP cannot materialize in the absence of plenty of well organized, reliable play system and technical information. Therefore... :evil :)

The... End

As far as my contributions under this topic go, well, this is the end of the line ! :deal

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