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Thread: Play by Email

  1. #1

    Play by Email

    I think a great addition to this application would be a system to allow PLAY BY EMAIL. Most virtual table top websites like BoardGameArena have system like this, so you can play games, but take your turns as time allows, nor have to meet up online in realtime. One of the most common forms of this, that people have been doing long before the internet was playing chess by mail.

    Now I know technically you can email someone your save game, and this kinda works... I make a move, save it and the email it... they load it, make a move and email it back. Still it is fiddly and not very interactive as well as being open to abuse.

    What might be cool is a way for TTS to record a log of the game in progress and the ability to "play it back". This could even be a entire feature.. you could play your wargame and then "watch the reply" like in RTS games and see all the actions.

    Anyway, having something like that so you could receive your PBM data, and then "watch" them take their move. Would be awesome.

    You could add a way to enter email information directly into the app so TSS could send and receive mail. Click END TURN and it mails it, click START TURN and it receives it.

    i realise this is a major suggestion and probably not going to happen, and if it did people that are actually problem solvers and programmers could think of a way better way to do it... but the basic suggestion is...

    TL;DR

    Would be great to have some kind of system for playing a game in a PLAY BE EMAIL style, where you can take turns over days or weeks.

  2. #2
    I have a strange feeling that undo is implemented in TS by dumping entire game state and restoring it on undo. What you would expect is fine grained changelog, which would help with efficient undo/redo and could be replayed and serialized to file. Implementing proper undo system on top of existing system unprepared for that is well known horror story for IT systems... but maybe they can pull it off, who knows?

  3. #3
    I'm also all for this idea. While i don't think we'd need a full rework of the undo system, a "Play by X" (X being forum, email, whatever asynchronous method you like) would be nice. Using saves could work really well if there were a few features added to make the process simpler. Doesn't have to be a built-in email system either, just a quicker way to make/retrieve/send saves.

    You could have a save file log the states of every turn taken by players. Right now that would take a lot of space in save files but you could probably make a special form of "Play by email" saves that are much smaller. Currently, save files are made to be human readable, so a lot of extra characters are written in the json, but removing them can go a long way to making them smaller. Here's an example from one of my save files:
    "Grid": {
    "Type": 0,
    "Lines": false,
    "Snapping": false,
    "Offset": false,
    "BothSnapping": false,
    "xSize": 0.5,
    "ySize": 0.5,
    "PosOffset": {
    "x": 0.0,
    "y": 1.0,
    "z": 0.0
    }
    could become:
    g:{t:0,l:f,S:f,o:f,BS:f,xS:0.5,yS:0.5,PO: {x:0.0,y":1.0,z:0.0}}
    That's 63 characters vs 249 (start-of-line spaces are removed by the forum), 25% the size of the original. And you could probably go even further by removing the semi-colons and other tricks. Characters add up fast, and there's no benefit for human-readability in a "Play by email" save. In fact there's benefit AGAINST human-readability in those types of saves.

    A way to see a match play out could also be implemented decently easily. You'd just need to take a screenshot of every turn taken and make a gif out of it (or keep it as a set of images). Ideally, those images would be taken when the player saves and taken from a neutral (read "non-player oriented") angle, like a top down one (ideally something you can set, like the default view of the spectator/admin seats). Adding images to the save file would make it considerably bigger but you could either A: have a setting to add the images as part of the file or not, B: only include them locally but in a folder matching the name of the save, or C: set a filesize limit on save files (and it trims the earliest turns to reach that limit).

  4. #4
    That's 63 characters vs 249 (start-of-line spaces are removed by the forum), 25% the size of the original.
    Compression is easier to implement and will give considerably bigger space savings.
    If you would compress multiple full documents with minimal changes between them, it would have even better ration.
    You could also implement [URL="http://xdelta.org/"]xdelta[/URL] between revisions (like many control version systems do) for minimal changesets.

    I don't think that file size is a blocking point on its own. It is how heavy it is to reload it going forward/back in history and lack of clear changelog which is probably bigger issue (you might miss a small hack of changing order of hidden cards for example)

  5. #5
    The changelog itself would probably have to be implemented in the game. Like chess notification. There is also a mod that shows you your last movement visually, so you could maybe modify that?

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