Simplify Starting PBF Games

  • Admin

    So currently we have a lot of people struggle to setup PBEM/PBF games for things like tournaments. @prastle brought up some good questions around why can't we make it easier to get started and have TripleA do more of the work. This is especially true now that both this forum and A&A uses the same technology/API.

    So the first suggestion is could TripleA start the PBF thread for the user rather than the user having to go create the thread and copy the thread ID into TripleA? Instead they choose to start a new PBF game, select which forum, and input a title. I assume the forum API has a thread creation method and if so I'd think this should be pretty easy.

    @RoiEX Any thoughts here? I know you originally wrote the new PBF code for this forum and I essentially extended it for the A&A forum.

    There are some other ideas then that extend this concept if we get it to work for PBF. An example is we could create a 'ranked' or 'recorded' field for lobby games that then creates a forum thread to post their games to.

  • Donators Moderators Admin

    @redrum TY

  • Admin

    @redrum Good points, creating a thread isn't difficult via the api, just another request.
    Simplifying the whole process is a little bit more complicated though.
    Before starting to think about this, I want to simplify the code first. (Finish my current project)
    We could indeed hide the topic id from the user if we simply created the thread via the client. (Not sure how to check exactly if this is a new game, but I'm pretty sure we can check if the history is empty or something.)
    Thinking a step ahead we could potentially also have the engine close a topic once somebody wins the game, to be cleaned up by admins. (Can potentially be automated, or half-automated (requires button click) via a custom plugin too).

  • Admin

    I just dug through the code and found a couple of interesting things:
    The "Game ID:" Field is something in between misleading and useless, all it really does is change the prefix of the subject in mails (i.e. Replace "TripleA" with something else):
    So really the whole field can be removed as nobody probably ever knew this.

    Also the new dice-server doesn't really support multiple CC addresses for security reasons anyways, so sending an email to an independent third party anyways wouldn't work either in the future unless someone implemented it.
    Given that even with a dice server that sends out emails it's hard to 100% verify the savegame wasn't modified in any way (it's certainly possible, but I don't think it would be worth the time checking every single detail every time a turn is made), PbEM/PbF is probably not well-suited for competitive gameplay unless you can be sure nobody is going to cheat (a sudden additional unit in some random territory would probably not be noticed for example).

  • Admin

    What I'm trying to say is that there is certainly room for simplification, by simply removing unnecessary options and adjusting the UI appropriately to guide users through the process.

  • Admin

    @RoiEX The Game ID field is actually really useful though can be optional if it isn't already and yes probably isn't labeled that best name as its really just a email title prefix. The reason is if you have 5-10 PBEM/PBF games going and are looking to review the rolls for a specific one, it would be close to impossible without some kind of prefix on the dice emails.

    Generally, competitive TripleA games are played using PBEM/PBF not the lobby. The way players verify that someone isn't cheating is checking the dice rolls and reviewing the turn history. While you could probably find ways to hack these, it would be fairly difficult and not aware that anyone has ever done it successfully.

    Not sure what you mean by not supporting multiple CC addresses. We definitely need to support sending dice rolls to more than just 2 users for team games. Though the difference between TO and CC doesn't really matter and I think they could be combined.

  • Moderators Admin

    @RoiEX Personally I find both IDs (thread-ID and game-ID) extremely useful. While I understand the desire to keep things as easy as possible for every user, those IDs are handy for searching and sorting topics/mails (as @redrum said, too).

    Just one of my use-cases of thread-IDs: When testing pre-releases or creating/testing scenarios I always post fragments of games into one of my "test-threads". So whenever there is any fragment I want to post to the forum, I use one and the same thread-ID. I would not want a new topic for every case, then.

    So when thinking about hiding the topic-ID from the user I would welcome very much an option to enter a given ID into the UI in order to continue posting there whatever I want. Other players would maybe welcome the opportunity to post multiple games into one and the same thread.

    @RoiEX said in Simplify Starting PBF Games:

    Thinking a step ahead we could potentially also have the engine close a topic once somebody wins the game, to be cleaned up by admins. (Can potentially be automated, or half-automated (requires button click) via a custom plugin too).

    In that case we should also consider how to keep/archive the very last savegame of every game.

  • Some good ideas here. If Triple-A was creating the thread, the Game-ID would presumably be the topic/subject or whatever you call it.

    I presume the thread number is returned from the API call to create a new topic? Otherwise it won't work. I don't really see the need to hide the existing options though.

    One of the limitations of the dice email system from the point of view of cheating is anyone can download the game and roll some dice, perhaps accidentally. So you can't really hold your opponent to the dice you've received because they can claim that possibility.

    Not sure I like the idea of closing the topic on game completion. Wouldn't it only work if the thread starter won? Also, there's the issues with the victory conditions not working properly (checked at the end of round - wrong in Global). Finally, there's people playing non standard victory conditions.

  • Donators

    while I'm thinking of it, ctrl p doesn't post to forum. Does the Players thing instead. Which I like. Just might want to update that next time it's convenient.