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FCOL Questions

 
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ericphillips
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
Posts: 702
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA, Sol, Gould Belt, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Universe Beta

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 9:56 am    Post subject: FCOL Questions Reply with quote

I am thinking of signing up. Here are my questions:

1. Does anyone actually play FCOL on a regular basis? I always see SFB games, never FC, and there seem to be no tournaments underway for FC.

2. Is there going to be an improved version? Usually with software assisted games I expect the game to handle some things automatically. While Damage Allocation works well, i find it hard to believe I need to roll for each weapon and click on the weapon table to determine damage, then open up the shild box and type in the damage, then open the damage allocation and add in the damage. Seriously, it should allow me to determine damage, apply it to a shield and do damage with one button click (of course, bringing up dialog boxes to ask about things like shield reinforcement). The way it is increases the chances of human error, which software should help eliminate.

Number one is most important for me to sign up. If there is no one to play, I am not subscribing.


Thank you
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Lochmacher
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Joined: 01 Jun 2009
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Location: Tacoma, WA US

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few points, based on what I've read thus far:

-From the postings, it looks as if there are few, if any, who play this online.

-It has been the same version (4.0) for two years.

-It doesn't keep track of the rules, such that players must be conversant enough and keep each other in check.

-It's only 5$ a month, but VASSAL and Sun Tsu are free.

+It is an on-going service.

+It replicates the gameplay with sensible controls and some automation.

+It's only 5$ a month.

+It runs on JAVA.

+Possibility of Tournaments.

With these in mind, I'll think about it, but much rather prefer the face-to-face game any day.
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terryoc
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Joined: 07 Oct 2006
Posts: 1378

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lochmacher,

The fact that the client doesn't know the rules is deliberate. There's a limit to how much can be computerised for legal reasons.
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Wolverin61
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Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 497
Location: Mississippi

PostPosted: Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lochmacher wrote:
... I'll think about it, but much rather prefer the face-to-face game any day.


Of course playing face-to-face is preferable. The online game doesn't replace that, it just supplements it.
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1836

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

terryoc wrote:
Lochmacher,

The fact that the client doesn't know the rules is deliberate. There's a limit to how much can be computerised for legal reasons.


Is it down to legal reasons? Certainly SVC owns the IP etc, and can say what does or doesn't go, but is that the reason for the game not doing more in terms of automating certain functions. He seems to be fairly supportive of the game, which made me think it was just a case of the developer not programming the software that way rather than being forced to.

I ask this from 2 perspectives:

1) as someone who just tried out FCOL last night, and felt like it could really do with more in the line of rule enforcement (e.g. don't let the game progress to the next impulse until I've actually moved, don't let my my opponent move when he shouldn't etc), as well as more in the line of plain user friendliness (e.g. telling you how much damage you've done at the point of rolling the dice, rather than then working it out yourself).

2) I'm a developer my self, and have played around with a couple of personal SFU software projects (computer version of F&E, an FC game etc). These are purely me engaging in hobby programming, and are going no where without SVC knowing and agreeing, though I seldom finish anything so I'm never likely to ask. There is, however, 1 game I have in mind that I don't think would be treading on any toes (in terms of other software already doing the same thing), that if it ever got beyond the pie in the sky phase I might be tempted to ask SVC if he minded such a thing being made available. I suppose this is therefore more directed at SVC - is there a blanket ban on computer games 'knowing' the rules and enforcing them?
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Scoutdad
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Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Posts: 4467
Location: Middle Tennessee

PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

storeylf wrote:

Is it down to legal reasons? Certainly SVC owns the IP ...


It's ben a while since ADB last responded to a questio f this type and I'm sure that Steve can (and will) provide a more thorough answer... but, basically - yes, it's due to legal reasons.

As is, the client merely facilitates two people who already possess a copy of the Fe Comm game to play, even though they may be half a world apart.

If you begin to add rules enforcement and the like into it... then it becomes more of a computer game - which IIRC is not covered by ADB's license with Paramount. And that does raise issues.
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Andromedan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SVC has never told me not to implement rules. The only problem with implementing rules is that there is a balance between being a help and a hinderance.

For example, lets say I implement a fire to damage system. (i.e. select the weapons to fire, click "Fire!" and it calculates the damage and brings up the "Allocate Damage" window with the appropriate damage in the window). Now, lets say that you are playing a scenario where a hex or number of hexes add a shift to all direct fire that goes through the hex and this "feature" has not been implemented into the client yet, what do you do then?

And more to the point, if I implemented all of the rules. (Which would take me years to implement) How many more subscriptions would I get?

Another question, what happens if I do implement the rules and people do not know the rules, so they don't know when there is a bug in the client. Then the client rules become the one people know if it is wrong.

Can I improve things to make it a help? Yes. Is it my top priority? No. Why not? Somethings like adding more ships are currently more important and something that I feel will help grow the user base.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2009 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul can implement all the rules he wants.
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And more to the point, if I implemented all of the rules. (Which would take me years to implement) How many more subscriptions would I get?


Couldn't answer that. In terms of rule enforcement the one, or couple of related ones, that I (and yes this is purely my opinion) think the client desperately needs is to stop the phase advancing if the someone hasn't moved yet, and to stop someone moving if they are not scheduled to or it isn't a move pulse.

Several times during the game I played the phase was progressed to quickly, or moves were taken at the wrong time. Whilst we can catch it and go back, it left me feeling mentally exhausted and 'eye strained' as I was having to be so attentive to all the text flying past and the map to see what was happening. I felt that I would never have a 'casual' game on FCOL due to that. Yet it is that sort of stuff I expect a computer game to be good at handling, I can live without the fancy 3D graphics etc.

Quote:
Another question, what happens if I do implement the rules and people do not know the rules, so they don't know when there is a bug in the client. Then the client rules become the one people know if it is wrong.


Well if they do not know the rules then they currently can't play nor spot bugs. At least they might be able to play, leave the bug spotting to those who really do know the rules just like it is now.

Quote:
Can I improve things to make it a help? Yes. Is it my top priority? No. Why not? Somethings like adding more ships are currently more important and something that I feel will help grow the user base.


I respect your opinion. You are making money off it, and presumably are therefore more focused on what you think will be better.

For myself, however, more ships for subscribers is less of an issue if the free client does not make me think I want to subscribe. If I subscribed then, yes, I'd expect to get a good selection of ships.

The following is on the basis that you might be interested to know why someone is or is not going to subscribe, obviously it is only me and I can't claim to be representative of any other people.

I'm probably about as good a 'prospect' as you are going to get; I love the FedCom game, can't play face-face enough (several times a week would be nice) , play plenty of other online game and the subscription fee is peanuts for me.

I tried the client out quite a number of months ago, couldn't suss out how to set up a game properly, didn't see many people online (and those that were seemed to be SFBers), and just gave up on it. Just occured to me, one thing the client is really crying out for is some decent documentation under the help menu about how to perform all the various activities.

I've decided to give it another try following a forum discussion about who would win scenario X, with FCOL being a place to test it out. I remembered my first go, but decided I had to put aside first impressions and make the effort to get familiar with it. I got a game by posting in the forum. I watched the 3 tutorial videos, but they didn't seem to go through much. I'd have struggled to play without someone telling me how to do various things. My second impression is that yes it is probably ok once you have a few games under your belt and are familiar with how to do things, but I'm still thinking it looks to much hard work to keep tabs on what is going on (as noted a few paragraphs above).


PS. If you want any help with development then I'd be interested to have a go and see how it works out. It would only be during my spare hours obviuosly, but I'd do it for free. I've been using java for over a decade now, both at work and as a hobby. Send me a PM if you want to discuss further, or even just to tell me to bog off.
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pinecone
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Joined: 03 May 2008
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Location: Earth

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, we do have a good group going (At least 5 people) and games have also been arranged over PM so that we know when to go and meet for battle.
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Andromedan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006
Posts: 225

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
In terms of rule enforcement the one, or couple of related ones, that I (and yes this is purely my opinion) think the client desperately needs is to stop the phase advancing if the someone hasn't moved yet, and to stop someone moving if they are not scheduled to or it isn't a move pulse.


Both of these are handled in the client, in that it warns people that either there are un-moved units if they try to advance to the next sub-pulse/phase, or if they try to move a unit that is not scheduled to move. I can give warnings but that is the extent that I want to do. Any further and unless the client has 0 bugs and covers every possible angle it will be useless to use for playing.

Quote:
Several times during the game I played the phase was progressed to quickly, or moves were taken at the wrong time


This can happen playing FTF too. Because normally, you have one controller who advances through phases and if they are going to fast you need to tell them or ask them if you can be the controller. Now, the client can change this though I am not sure if it would be a help or hinderance. That is that each player needs click "Next Phase" to move forward. So unless all the players agree to move the next phase it does not happen.

Some other solutions are:

1) Have a voice announce each sub-pulse/phase.
2) Have a sound beep or play that announces the moving forward.
3) Have a list of phases and have it in a separate floating that you can watch.

I agree I need to make more tutorials. Probably even have a step by step that shows how one would use the basic features to actually play a game.

When it comes to helping out, I would love to have an experienced coder help out. I will send a PM.
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storeylf
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008
Posts: 1836

PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Andromedan wrote:
Quote:
In terms of rule enforcement the one, or couple of related ones, that I (and yes this is purely my opinion) think the client desperately needs is to stop the phase advancing if the someone hasn't moved yet, and to stop someone moving if they are not scheduled to or it isn't a move pulse.


Both of these are handled in the client, in that it warns people that either there are un-moved units if they try to advance to the next sub-pulse/phase, or if they try to move a unit that is not scheduled to move. I can give warnings but that is the extent that I want to do. Any further and unless the client has 0 bugs and covers every possible angle it will be useless to use for playing.


Interesting, I didn't see any chance warning etc. Is that only seen by the person who actually clicks the next phase button? In the game I played we agreed that the I would leave advancing the phases to the other person. It does make sense for one person to be doing that as thing currently stand.

Quote:
Quote:
Several times during the game I played the phase was progressed to quickly, or moves were taken at the wrong time


This can happen playing FTF too. Because normally, you have one controller who advances through phases and if they are going to fast you need to tell them or ask them if you can be the controller. Now, the client can change this though I am not sure if it would be a help or hinderance. That is that each player needs click "Next Phase" to move forward. So unless all the players agree to move the next phase it does not happen.


The difference with face to face is that you are all there, can see what everyone is doing, and the moment someone 'jumps' a phase you can tell him to back off before anything actually happens. I've never noticed a need to contentrate to much on what phase we are in or whether someone is moving when they shoudn't. That doesn't work so well online, first you have to be really concentrating on the chat area to see the text going past AND watching the map to make sure nothing is moving when it shouldn't, then when you do want to stop you need to communicate that before it goes any further. At one point I noticed something happen out of sequence and tried to get the other guy to go back, but I think he missed my call and by the time I got noticed we were several phases further down the line. A fair bit of confusion set in.

Yes - having each player required to advance the phase is one solution I was thinking of, maybe as an option so you can switch the feature off if you want. To an extent it already appears to work a bit like this, in that each player is sort of expected to say 'wait', 'ready' or 'thinking'.

As to the moving when you shouldn't (or shouldn't under most circumstances), if it happens after the game has started maybe put up a veto option to the other players, so it won't happen unless they agree. This should only happen where someone has got a bit lost as to what phase it is, so hopefully will never be getting in the way, and if it does pop up then it is probably to stop something you want to. In our case it was happening in the defensive fire phase when it happened, presumably cos the other guy is getting used to repetetively phase move, phase move, phase move, phase move oops.
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Andromedan
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Joined: 17 Nov 2006
Posts: 225

PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 12:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Interesting, I didn't see any chance warning etc. Is that only seen by the person who actually clicks the next phase button? In the game I played we agreed that the I would leave advancing the phases to the other person. It does make sense for one person to be doing that as thing currently stand.


When it comes to warning about moving when you shouldn't it is only to the person doing the action that gets the notification.

Also, the only person that is notified that there are ships that have not moved is the controller (i.e. the person tracking where you are in the turn)

Now, if you have person that ignores the popup windows then you have a big problem. Because I assume that people want to play by the rules and know what the rules are.


Quote:
The difference with face to face is that you are all there, can see what everyone is doing, and the moment someone 'jumps' a phase you can tell him to back off before anything actually happens. I've never noticed a need to contentrate to much on what phase we are in or whether someone is moving when they shoudn't. That doesn't work so well online, first you have to be really concentrating on the chat area to see the text going past AND watching the map to make sure nothing is moving when it shouldn't, then when you do want to stop you need to communicate that before it goes any further.


If you just keep an eye on the chat area, it shows when the phase/sub-pulse changes and when people move their ship.

Quote:
At one point I noticed something happen out of sequence and tried to get the other guy to go back, but I think he missed my call and by the time I got noticed we were several phases further down the line. A fair bit of confusion set in.


Sounds like you have an over-eager player acting as controller.

Quote:
Yes - having each player required to advance the phase is one solution I was thinking of, maybe as an option so you can switch the feature off if you want. To an extent it already appears to work a bit like this, in that each player is sort of expected to say 'wait', 'ready' or 'thinking'.


Actually, that is a system that the SFB players worked out. That is zip when you can. (i.e. if you both are running opposite directions they agree to zip and the controller can click "Next Impulse" right after all units have moved then at some point they agree to switch the non-controller player click on "Ready" to move to the next impulse.) Same thing would work for Fed Com. But as I said I can code it to require all players to agree before going to the next phase.



Lets backup just a little bit though. Can you describe to me exactly how things usually go when you play FTF? Does the controller verbally announce the phases and every sub-pulse even if there is nothing to do or do they start skipping the announcement of those phases?

I would like to know how the experience differs and see what can be done about making it closer or at least be able to make up for the difference.
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