Lobby games "Players" information


  • Moderators

    Just saying something I'm sure we all realize, or at least it has been already touched a number of times, but I'm not sure anybody is bothered by it.

    In the lobby:

    • The "Players" column counts all users in the host, comprising those that are not players by any meaning of it. This is definitely either a wrong naming or a wrong behaviour, as when you say "Players" you cannot possibly mean the guests/spectators too.
    • The "Players" column naming is confusing with the fact that "Players" also define the maximum number of "Players" in the game (that usually is the number of powers/countries that game features). This figures in a very many places, both for the makers and the users (and I suppose also in the program's code), the primary one probably being the "Number Of Players" info in "Select a Game"; for example:
      World War II Classic
      Map Name: world_war_ii_classic
      Number Of Players: 5

      So, one of the two cases of "players" should be rather changed to something like "participants" (I don't actually like participants much; maybe there is a better alternative) and the other one to something like "powers".
      On top of that, the in game tab giving the main statistics during the game is now called "Players" too.
    • If "Players" would be supposed to mean anything making any sense with itself, I think the positions of the "Round" and "Players" column should be inverted, as in games you either have a fixed number of players/powers/countries or you start it with a given number of players/participants, so that should be at least something more stable, during the course of the game, then the current game's round, thus I would have it having listing priority over it. If "Players" is meant to be the indistinct collection of participants and spectators, I suppose it can stay after pretty much anything else, instead.

    The above said, I actually like the presence of a column telling you the total number of users that currently are in each host, as that gives a good popularity information for the various games going on (if you see a game with 10+ players inside you'll be curious what's going on there; though obviously those are not all "players"). However, also knowing, for example, what games are 1v1 and what are multis may be interesting (now, if you see 2 players that probably means that the game is a 1v1, but if you see 4 players it may mean it is a 2v2 or it is a 1v1 with 2 spectators, or else).


  • Admin

    I think the core of the problem is that 'Players' has multiple meanings, the XML meaning for player is specific to XML concepts. IMO the real problem is the "Player" name in XMLs, and probably should be disambiguated by calling it the 'player tag'.

    Otherwise player is more commonly synonmous with 'people'. eg: "How many players are in the lobby?" "How many players are in that game?" "How many players are playing in the game?"


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette said in Lobby games "Players" information:

    Otherwise player is more commonly synonmous with 'people'. eg: "How many players are in the lobby?" "How many players are in that game?" "How many players are playing in the game?"

    Oh, I never thought in those terms. Since TripleA is a gaming program, and you have to start it to, then, join the lobby, you can argue anyone in the lobby is a player/gamer by definition. I guess if that makes sense, then players=participants+spectators might be even justified, but it still doesn't sound right to me.


  • Moderators

    Well, also the same user present multiple times is counted multiple times, for giving the number of players in a host (but that shouldn't really happen).


  • Admin

    Thinking about this a bit longer, @Cernel I'd certainly agree it is a bit ambiguous, I think the missing terminology might be 'seats'. eg: "How many seats are left in that game?" "We've 4 players and 3 taken seats." Where it is ambiguous, in some cases a player can be a 'specatator', or, if they have taken a seat, actually playing in a game


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette For the lobby, I think it would be clearer just giving the number of "participants" and "spectators", whose sum would be the "users" in that host. Or just changing the name, renaming the current column from "Players" to "Users"; tho "users" still makes me thing they are being active, but at least much less so than "players".

    For the "seats" thing, I think by now we have agreed there is not really a very good term for it, and it can be called, either, "powers", "countries", "factions", etc. (Axis&Allies calls it "powers"). I'm starting thinking that "faction" may actually be the best choice, as long as it is not too confusing with the fixed alliances, usually identified as "sides" (meaning the "Germans" being a faction of the "Axis" side, in a game like Classic).

    Google gives the following synonyms for "faction", in case anyone might sound better:
    clique
    coterie
    caucus
    cabal
    bloc
    camp
    group
    grouping
    side
    sector
    section
    wing
    arm
    branch
    division
    contingent
    set
    ring
    lobby

    I would say all those alternatives are worse than "faction", here, except maybe "bloc"; for example, the "Russians" are representing what would be eventually called the "Soviet Bloc".
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Bloc


  • Admin

    The terminology discussion is long overdue. We should really come up with a glossary that defines the terms. A few things to bear in mind:

    • so-called "sub-domains" can share the same term but with different meanings. EG: maps is a sub-domain apart from the game-core or the game-playing sub-domain. Hence, we can have a term "player" be referenced in maps (eg: <Player>), but that means something different when talking about a game. Even "game" has different meanings even, as the 'domain' term in the broadest refers to a specific map, yet the map-sub domain refers to a game as a specific XML.
    • some naming decisions were made and are not optimal. Specifically, it's best where naming matches exactly the words that standard users/players would use. For example, the name "node" is how the game-core refers to a player. Nobody calls a player a "node". That was done to avoid re-using the name "player" which is heavily used in the maps domain.
    • the existing naming's will add constraints, so we can maybe perhaps identify which of these are 'legacy' but still will be used in specific contexts as those names are just too heavily integrated to be ignored.

    As far as seats, I think that may have a 1:1 relationship to 'faction'. 'Seat' though is a more general term though I think. In an ideal world I think the XML and code would have used the term 'faction' instead of 'player', reserving the word player to refer to a logged-in user.

    I'll see if I can write up a quick start of a glossary-wiki page, that should hopefully clarify some of this, and we can continue discussing terminology. Getting such a document put in place will be really helpful, it's a small crisis when coding sometimes to know which term to use, and it's important as naming/terms stick for a long time and bad decisions can have lasting consequences.

    For the 'players' column, I think 'players' might be clear enough for the lobby context. 'User' I've come to think of as any user, logged in or not, but clearly for lobby they would be logged in and active. I think you could be right that 'user' would be more specific/concise, I wonder if it's a bit too nerdy and actually outside of the domain of how people commonly talk. I think one trick might be to observe conversations happening in lobby and see what terms people naturally use.


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette said in Lobby games "Players" information:

    As far as seats, I think that may have a 1:1 relationship to 'faction'. 'Seat' though is a more general term though I think. In an ideal world I think the XML and code would have used the term 'faction' instead of 'player', reserving the word player to refer to a logged-in user.

    "Player" to refer to the powers/countries would be actually a good term if we were talking history or politics ("games theory" comes to mind). While the term it itself very good, the problem arises from the fact that TripleA is a game, and the various factions are not inherently sentients, like it would be the case in reality. So, in less than full multis, the real/human players may be sort of "hive minds", each controlling multiple game players, and actually this is the case in probably something around 99% of the played games (it is rare to see (and even much rarer to finish in the same condition) multis in which each game player is assigned to a single human player, that would require 5 human players for v1, v2, v4, v5 and v6 and it would be illegal for v3, where Chinese and Americans must be played by a same human player).

    So, instead of changing game "players" to "factions", it may be argued to leave that terminology as "players", that is a very good definition itself. But, in this case, the other case should be changed. If not "participant", a possible name for each human player may be "assignee" (that in code terms would identify a "node" having a "player" currently assigned), as the definition of this word is that of a "person appointed to act for another", and here we have the game players that cannot act themselves (except maybe for the Neutral/null player), so need to be assigned to human players. How about that?

    In this case, for example in a Classic 1v1, you could say that you have 1 "assignee" for the Russians, British and Americans "players" and 1 "assignee" for the "Germans" and "Japanese" players.

    In lobby, you could have a column for the "assignees" numbers and a column for the "users" numbers, where the "users" one would be just the current "players" column renamed (and it would be always equal or greater than the number of "assignees").

    As the naming currently goes, the problem would be solved if we would forbid any human players taking more than 1 game player each, and impeding the game starting until all players are taken, thus forcing real and game players to always be exactly the same number, but certainly we don't want to go this way (making TripleA unplayable in about 99% of cases, for PvP, and restricting local play, in which the human player is always 1, to taking no more than 1 player, forcefully assigning all other ones to AI).


  • Admin

    @Cernel I think the only problem is really 'player' being used in XML; it's pretty rare for the 'game player' as in faction, to actually be labelled as such in the game. For the most part, that is an internal only name, rarely exposed to the user. Meanwhile, player is pretty common usage, there is a cost to trying to change it and likely the name is ingrained enough I would be suspicious if it could even be changed.

    On the other hand, when looking at naming changes in code, often the deciding factor is counting how many usages of each instance there are, and the majority simply wins, it's less things to change. In this case, we have 'player' baked into the code to mean both XML player tag and also game player. It can co-exist to have different meanings and be the same word, but regardless the cost to change is also a bit prohibitive from that perspective as well.


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette Yeah, I was just saying, but I agree that, having to choose, it's probably more natural to use "player" to refer to the human players, rather than to the game players.

    As for changing the name of the game players to something else, we could make a list. My list would be, from first to last:

    • Factions
    • Powers
    • Countries

    Another possibility I've not listed but I wonder about is "actors". For me "actor" sounds better than "faction", as it is clearer we are talking of something that is not a group, since I'll always feel "faction" to be possibly a synonym of "alliance" or "side". However, I wonder how "actor" would feel to an English speaker (I really don't know). So, how much is it common in English to talk about, for example, "political actors", when referring to the international actions of some States?

    I don't like seats, also since a player would usually take multiple seats, and that sounds strange to me, as it is not like that if you are playing a boardgame and someone is all the Allies he gets 3 chairs to seat on. Seats I think would imply that you are at least normally supposed to take 1 seat each (it would really make no sense for games like TWW).

    As fare as the code goes, I don't think we should change the xml, or at least not until other reasons may be breaking game compatibility with the engine, since I don't think semantics should be a good enough reason to, for example, oblige @RogerCooper to update all his maps once again. What I would suggest is, in case, keeping "players" in the xml, but having it called "factions/powers/countries/actors" anywhere displayed to the user (like games' selection).


  • Admin

    With seats, you can say, "we have 5 seats available", with 2 players taking 2 seats and all 5 sides, you take 3 of the chairs away 🙂
    We do not message "5 seats open" or such anywhere, so I think the terminology point might be moot.

    As noted, happily the "player" (meaning faction) terminology is mostly internal (but still very important within map XMLs). I think keeping 'player' to mean human players is probably most natural and yields the fewest changes. For example, IIRC the boot player text says "boot player", such things would not need to be changed.

    The 'player' tag is so baked into XML, it's hard to justify changing it. It's probably easier to just be more specific whether referring to ' game players' (or TripleA players), 'player tag' (for maps context), or 'faction' to be more specific.


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette said in Lobby games "Players" information:

    For example, IIRC the boot player text says "boot player", such things would not need to be changed.

    Well, that is one of the things that I suggest changing as per my first point, due to the fact that I think it is a stretch to consider all guests being players (you may want to boot someone that is not playing any factions, but just spectating). Unless, of course, it is intended to consider "players" all users connected to the lobby or to any hosts, no matter if they are actually playing anything (which, as I said, feels wrong to me).


  • Donators Moderators Admin

    @Cernel @LaFayette Spectator would be a good addition to the list. Which of course would require quite a bit of changes. If taking this route with the code it would be the most logical name to be added.


  • Admin

    I created a start to the game glossary wiki: https://github.com/triplea-game/triplea/wiki/Glossary

    It's really more intended to capture internal names used in code, but they should match what people typically use when playing the game and unaware of the code.

    Listing it out, the code names/domain terms are pretty messed up... 😞


  • Moderators

    @LaFayette Well, this definition:

    Map: downloadable collection files, images, polygons text, properties, and game XMLs

    I don't think that it is really exact. Theorically, you can have a Map without images at all (and theorically the assets of the program could support everything but the xml), as not even the relief are really needed (the sea would be all black, but you could have a game without sea), and why talking about polygons? There are a lot of other text files beside polygons. Also, why downloadable? If I make a map, that is a map, isn't it, even if nobody has ever downloaded it from anywhere, yet (and maybe I keep it for myself, and never leaves my terminal). And, besides, everything is downloadable, potentially.


  • Admin

    @Cernel It's from the perspective of the code, all maps are downloaded one way or another. That maps can be developed locally is perhaps a good nuance to point out. Some of the file collections can be empty, I suppose only the XML collection must be non-empty. 'Map' vs 'game' is one of the more painful examples of poor domain terminology as the two are virtually flipped compared to common usage.


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