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Author Topic: Computer moderated games  (Read 1137 times)

Offline vtsaogames

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Computer moderated games
« on: May 20, 2024, 10:45:14 AM »
I recently played in a game of Carnage & Glory. Each player had to give pertinent data to the GM who entered it into his laptop and reported results. As the game went on, players attention wandered. Some couldn't recall if they had already fired this turn. The GM had to check, etc.
The single point of data entry slowed the game down.

I read something about a guy working on a system of linked tablets, so each player could enter data called Electronic Brigadier. It is on Facebook, which I avoid for various reasons. Also, the last post there was in 2015.

Victrix is working on a platoon level WWII game that runs on an iPhone. I have an Android.

Anyone else know of commercially available computer moderated systems? Hopefully that don't require advanced study to operate?
« Last Edit: May 20, 2024, 10:49:34 AM by vtsaogames »
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Offline Dubar

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2024, 12:05:13 PM »
I've looked but have found nothing.

Years ago I wrote a program for my Commodore 64, entering all the data necessary to play the old game "Tank Charts".  It surprisingly worked!!!  I think all I had to do was enter the type of firing and target units, then the distance, press the ENTER button and BINGO...the program gave me whether or not I hit and penetrated the armor of the target.

Recently I "found" all my Tank Charts but unfortunately the C64 is long gone.  I "put my Google on" and searched for something I could use in the modern world to rewrite the basic program but so far nothing has popped up.

My thoughts were any time I can do away with having to lookup tables of data (let the computer do it) it should make the game easier and quicker to play.
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Offline ChrisBBB

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2024, 08:55:00 AM »
I am too scarred by my experience from years ago. A friend created computer-moderated rules for WWII and Napoleonics. I spent too many hours with four of us round a table twiddling our thumbs and watching him doing the input. It's the same objection I have to card-activation or other such rulesets where only one player is active at a time - not good for multi-player games.

If a linked-tablet system could cope with two or three players resolving stuff simultaneously, that would be better.

Offline Capt Troy Tempest

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2024, 12:34:32 PM »
Here’s a blast from the past. I had the battle honour napoleonic version on cassette for Sinclair along the the big noisy printer.
Only played one other and we all decided the game was allot quicker using the normal dice and rules.
May be different now that machines and devices can be linked.

Offline Freddy

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2024, 08:24:58 PM »
I made a computer campaign system for my games, that works really well.

But involving computer in the actual tabletop game- here I have a theorhetical concern. If the game is too difficult to handle the traditional way, then the data you have to feed to the computer is also very difficult, thus taking a long time feeding into the machine- rendering the game unplayable the same way it would be with a difficult traditional system.
For example: a to hit roll of 4+ does not need computer. A to hit calculation involving skill, distance, calibre, ammo, wind, cover and enemy skill would need a computer to calculate, but to do so you would have to manually input 7 variables. Which is unplayably slow regardless of how fast the computer makes the actual calculation itself. So, this is a dead end, at least until the computer is able to get the input data for itself (by scanning the battlefield for example), which will come at some point in the future, but we are clearly not yet there.

Offline fred

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2024, 09:35:38 PM »
The points about slowness of data entry / unit identification seem to be the big issue with computer moderated rules. Yes, the rules can take into many more factors and modifiers than typical table top rules - but this isn’t very helpful if you need to input all of these.

I was interested in the Victrix one, as it seemed a much more modern idea. But it was still tedious to pick your unit, and the enemy unit. Given it uses the camera on your phone, it feels that being able to identify the unit is close. But it still felt like a lot of effort to get the result.

The other factor for me is that one of the main reasons I like table top games, is that I like the physical presentation and representation. There is something about a table top covered in terrain and figures that has a tactile value to it. During Covid when we were playing remote games, I was much happier to host the game for the remote players, than to play.

I don’t mind computer games - but they fill a different gap for me.

Offline Daeothar

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2024, 09:02:35 AM »
How far is that RPG/skirmish game on a horizontal Touchscreen along these days?

I remember that there was this software being developed that used a large surface flatscreen TV, together with chips in the bases of miniatures. The terrain was on the screen (much like a mat, really) with some 3D terrain pieces scattered about. The minis were seen by the system, and it could determine (and display) the movement options for each mini, line of sight, etc.

It also determined the damage inflicted etc and if I recall correctly, also did the combat effects like explosions and other effects, complete with sounds (so you don't have to *pewpew* yourself).

It looked very promising, but had its limitations, obviously. It could only handle a limited amount of miniatures, each mini required a programmable chip in the base, and each miniature's stats had to be loaded into the mini's base before the game.

Also; a screen is hardly a visually pleasing surface to play on, regardless of the terrain pieces on there.

Then again; the DM was able to draw on the screen in real time, and could add effects like snow, fire, fog etc on the go (using a tablet), which seems interesting.

It was pretty hyped around a decade or so ago, but I have no idea if development has continued though.

But as it was able to determine a lot of variables in real time, because of the RF(?) chips in the bases, there was no real input required other than 'This guys shoots that guy', and the software did the rest (including the combat effects). So a system like that would forego all the tedious input of variables after each move, as it would be able to read those things itself...
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Offline ithoriel

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2024, 01:44:42 PM »
As far as I'm concerned, if you want computer moderation of a game get one of the multiplayer computer games like Total War or Combat Mission where the computer knows the firer/ target/ weather conditions/ airspeed of an unladen swallow and can give results instantly.

If you want a tabletop game, however, dice, tape measures and the like are hard to beat.
There are 100 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who can work from incomplete data.

Offline jon_1066

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2024, 02:09:37 PM »
A home brew method that could work would be using Google sheets or something similar where multiple people can work on the same spreadsheet at the same time.

You could have a page for each command with details of all their units.  You would then have a sheet for resolution where you select a unit, what it is doing, the target unit, distance, cover, etc and the spreadsheet could use the random number generator to calculate the result.

Each combat would be on a separate line so it would be a record of the battle as well.

Each player would need a lap top but it would allow fine grained info to be stored on the status of each unit (even down to how many officers are left, fatigue, etc). 

Offline Westfalia Chris

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2024, 05:33:16 PM »
Personally, given the issues with data input effort in relation to effective outcome, I don't really see a practical use "on the battlefield", but I've done some campaigns long ago where bookkeeping and managing player's actions really benefitted from the computer's strengths.

You could even use it to play double-blind campaign movements, with the computer generating campaign turn maps based on actions submitted by the players and game outcomes.

Working in business data analysis these days, I am probably biased, but I really see the computer's strength in non-time-critical, decoupled data management and number crunching. We used to run the LPL using such a tool for pairings, for example, issues with participant number and duration notwithstanding.

Offline vtsaogames

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2024, 08:25:08 PM »
I should clarify that Carnage & Glory didn't require a huge amount of info for each fight. Number of firing unit, number of target unit and range. That entered, the GM said how many troops were hit and asked the other player if they wanted to return fire, (presuming the unit hadn't yet fired). If someone wanted to change formation they called out the unit number and the GM would tell them how much movement they had left. The software kept track of casualties, fatigue, morale and the like. This info was only available to players by inference, when informed that your unit needed a morale test and did you want to attach a commander. Not that much info to input. But after a couple hours at a convention when some players attention wandered, getting that small amount of info was a problem.

Plus the system rolled the dice and didn't say if you got boxcars or snake eyes. One of my units and one of the enemy units seemed to be getting crap rolls, but hard to tell.

Offline ced1106

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Re: Computer moderated games
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2024, 07:43:28 AM »
> How far is that RPG/skirmish game on a horizontal Touchscreen along these days?

Well, for dungeoncrawlers, what seems to work best is that the game has hidden setup. The players still move the bits on the board.

As others have said, inputting the information is a common problem. The defunct Golem Arcana had you inputting unit data with a pen, though dunno the rest.

I can't find it, but CMON, months ago, mentioned a partner who was going to create an electronic Zombicide game board.

Many boardgames have computer versions, including computer opponents. Inexpensive way to try out a boardgame before buying.

Then there are the numerous helper apps for RPGs and boardgames, more for bookkeeping and bling than inputting and processing data. Of course, playing RPG's online with Zoom or even chat, and Tabletop Simulator are other examples.

Going back to wargames (: I suspect that computer games would add most value for a fog of war situation, as well as solitaire. But now you'd be considering a computer game without physical components?

« Last Edit: May 29, 2024, 07:46:13 AM by ced1106 »
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