The Point of Play by Forum


  • Moderators Admin

    In https://forums.triplea-game.org/post/40946

    @Lafayette said in a Play -By-Forum settings context:

    Do the 'help' buttons give enough info to get past your questions bluelionman ?

    If not, totally cool, just means they are not actually helpful enough.

    Side-note, if that is all not enough, I think this is a good example of how PBEM/PBF is just too damn complex to be useful. Cloud saves would simplify all this... cc: / @panther2


  • Moderators Admin

    @LaFayette

    Please don't put PBEM and PBF together. They address totally different target groups!

    Please see for example

    https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/topic/35254/tutor-game-andrewaagamer-x-vs-trulpen-and-everyone-else-a-50-oob

    to understand that Play By Forum is so much more than the question about where savegames are downloadable from.

    This single PBF game at this time has more than 1000 postings and is watched, replayed and discussed by the community while being played by the protagonists.

    Actually we already have cloud saves, as the cloud in this case is the forum server. OK it is not Google or AWS or whatever.

    I am not sure if you aim to remove Play by Forum one day ... but please understand the communicative and social aspect of these forum games.

    You would remove an outstanding popular feature that is most important for the community there.

    But maybe you want to elaborate a bit more about your idea. "Cloud saves" is still quite nebulous to me, as it does not address the core features of Play by Forum, that is more or less a social medium, and matches perfectly the purposes of a forum. Storing savegames is just an add-on.

    Play By Forum on that forum has been the most important platform for hundreds or thousands of players throughout a decade. Of course there is a small fraction of users struggeling with settings (or whatever software features) here and there. As it is with every software.

    Those users are more than welcome and get sound instructions and instant help in the TripleA-support category of that forum. There is no PBF-usability issue.

    In short: It does not really matter which server technically stores the savegames. What does matter is the communicative and social aspect of public PBF-games on a (or more) forum(s) that should not be restricted or removed, IMHO.

    @LaFayette
    In any case a user struggeling with the settings (here for example of a way outdated version with likely outdated texts behind the help button and with outdated forums) is definitely not a serious basis to (dis-) qualify PBF as "too damn complex to be useful". You are terribly wrong with this/your statement.
    Hundreds of users with thousands of games have proven the contrary for more than a decade!

    Let's save the files wherever you want - but please don't question the Play By Forum format!


  • Admin

    In A&A.org it's a more popular format. I wonder what percentage of that is from TripleA vs other sources. On this forum, what should represent a larger percentage of PBF traffic for TripleA, the activity is kinda anemic: https://forums.triplea-game.org/category/45/play-by-forum

    Comparing that, to say the lobby, where around 5 games are always in progress all day long to give anywhere from 20-50 games, per day; compared to just a dozen over the last few weeks on PBF.

    PBF has some issues as well, the game save being large and constantly being appended is eating into disk space, creates a maintenance problem.

    My thinking about 'cloud' saves is essentially that the lobby manages the saves and that there is a UI built into the game to view games and load your games. Adding a social aspect to this where you can make games public and comment on them would be considerably cool.

    In terms of priorities though, fixing save games to be smaller, compatible files between versions is high on the list and will take a long time. It'll also help solve the maintenance issues of forum games consuming lots of disk space. In the meantime, making PBF more useful and streamlined would be a good move, it is considerably complex right now.



  • @LaFayette

    PBF is more that just the storage of the save file. In fact, if we could do PBF without the save file, people would still use it. PBF accomplishes a few things:

    • Gives people a long-standing place to gather to find opponents. Chat is ephemeral but it doesn't give a sense of the scope of a community like a forum.
    • Allows people to "watch" a game in progress. And, again, have a centralized location to find these games.
    • Let's people play a game for as long as they want. You can even download a game that somebody abandoned and pick up where they left off.

    I count at least 50 games that posted turns in the past 24 hours on the forums. Some of those games post multiple turns in a day.

    I'm all for streamlining PBF. "Cloud saves" would be a great idea. It would be great to have a NodeBB plugin that would link to the latest file and maybe even refresh an image of the current map. I think people still get a kick out of reading the turn-by-turn action though; especially if we can fix the formatting.


  • Moderators Admin

    @LaFayette @djensen47

    Also let us not forget one of the Play by Forum's biggest advantage: It allows for games of people from all over the world without the requirement of being online at the same time. Timezones simply don't matter - and there is no need for appointments. Everyone plays individually when having some time. However they play together and communicate in their forum game thread.

    Personally, I have never played any lobby game - though I like the platform and its possibilities very much - as I simply did not and do not have the time to be online for hours to play "live". Also I am limited to players being online at the same time and am dependent on their individual time management.

    So with lobby games and Play by Forum we offer two concepts that address different types of players - but those concepts complement each other perfectly.


  • Moderators

    @Panther said in The Point of Play by Forum:

    @LaFayette @djensen47

    Also let us not forget one of the Play by Forum's biggest advantage: It allows for games of people from all over the world ...

    Sorry I just really like that part 🙂


  • Admin

    @djensen47 said in The Point of Play by Forum:

    I count at least 50 games that posted turns in the past 24 hours on the forums. Some of those games post multiple turns in a day.

    Are these all TripleA games? Can you post a link to that activity? On the TripleA forum, the activity for PBF is low.


  • Admin

    The question is really how do we complement PBF and make it more part of the game. A cloud save could perhaps post to a forum. Overall the flow is completely and utterly manual, you have to register in another place, find the save game file, download that, put it in the right place, load it in a PBF context, etc.. The integration is very weak.

    If we had the game allow you to select and download the game file an ongoing basis without ever leaving the TripleA app, I think that would pretty clearly be an improvement and make it simpler.

    The purpose of cloud saves is in part to allow for async play. One thing I'd like to address is the ability to more easily transition live games to async and vice-versa. It's a big weakness today that games are difficult to finish, many live games do not easily migrate to async and hence you get a lot of unfinished saves. To that extent, whether those saves are unified, perhaps makes sense. How to achieve that and get any benefit from public forum posts is an interesting question.



  • @LaFayette

    4 out of the 8 subforums here are all TripleA games:
    https://www.axisandallies.org/forums/category/65/play-online-axis-allies

    Just look at the latest post dates. Some days are more or less active than others.


  • Moderators Admin

    @LaFayette said in The Point of Play by Forum:

    @djensen47 said in The Point of Play by Forum:

    I count at least 50 games that posted turns in the past 24 hours on the forums. Some of those games post multiple turns in a day.

    ... On the TripleA forum, the activity for PBF is low.

    Yes. IIRC the TripleA-forum has started to offer PBF not before December 2017. In my observation historically this forum (apart from development and map making) has always prioritized lobby play and left PBF to A&A .org at least until then. I remember topics where users of this forum have been directed over to A&A .org for playing PBF.

    That is what I meant when saying
    "So with lobby games and Play by Forum we offer two concepts that address different types of players - but those concepts complement each other perfectly."
    The two forums reflect this.


  • Admin

    I might split hairs a bit, IIRC the nabble forum supported PBF (before we moved to NodeBB ourselves). I don't really agree that "this forum" prioritized lobby play, it has supported PBF since essentially inception. There might have been problems with Nabble that left us down to just A&A.org. I just want to be sure there is no impression that we've yet tried to kill PBF or even discourage it. From a coding perspective, "features" are not innocent, they are all a cost and things to test, keep working, and to understand and verify whenever making any changes. A more stream-lined codebase leads to other features faster and less risk to existing features. If there is anything that does not justify this overhead, we are better off dropping it since it does incur a cost. A better integration, less support, another feature that supersedes historical features, are all generally going to be good things.


  • Moderators Admin

    @LaFayette I agree to your last posting in general.

    What triggered me was your sentence that PBF was "too damn complex to be useful".

    It has been proven on A&A .org that PBF is useful, that PPF does not have further usability issues, that PBF is popular and is used by a relevant number of players in a relevant number of games. And this is not an ephemeral impression but has been like this for more than 10 years - and still is of course. I am sure you have taken a look in the meantime.

    No one questions the benefits of streamlining processes or improving the code.


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