Internet Diplomacy

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A map generated by the online Diplomacy game stabbeurfou

Internet Diplomacy refers to any of a number of online implementations of Diplomacy, a board game in which seven players, each controlling one of the major European powers of the early 20th century, fight for control over Europe.

Instead of communicating face-to-face, as in the board games, or by mail, as in the play-by-mail games, communication and order submission is done over the internet. Typically orders are processed by software, but in the earlier systems a person called a GameMaster would process the orders manually.

Background[edit]

Internet Diplomacy is popular for many reasons, including avoiding the hassles of playing the game face-to-face, and the lack of availability of local players. Also, a face-to-face game needs up to seven players and can last several hours, which makes it difficult to find enough players with enough free time for a game.

Internet Diplomacy brings together players from anywhere in the world, with deadlines ranging between a few minutes to a few days, and allows players to play multiple games at the same time. The role of GameMaster, depending on the specific implementation, can be minimized to setup and resolution of rules questions/disputes, or even eliminated entirely.

This makes Internet Diplomacy the preferred choice for many, but it is not without its flaws. Plain text messages aren't as good as face-to-face conversation for back-and-forth discussion or watching for signs of deception. Also playing with relatively anonymous remote players may be less emotionally rewarding than playing with close friends.

Types[edit]

Play by email (PBEM)[edit]

Play-by-email internet Diplomacy followed from Play-by-mail games dating to 1970s fan zines. Similar to standard mail games, players originally sent press directly to one another through email, and sent their orders via email to a pre-designated human GameMaster.

Email judges[edit]

As email became more prevalent software Judges were developed, which would route emails addressed from one player to another, and route submitted orders and results to/from human GameMaster(s). As well as routing messages they provided more accountability and security, a place where all the info about the game could be stored and retrieved, and provided a way to keep scores of players from multiple games.

These software Judges were eventually extended to include adjudicators, which are pieces of software capable of resolving orders and producing results, thus replacing the human GameMaster with software. Those adjudicators often had many bugs and only after a few years they became reliable. The Diplomacy Adjudicator Test Cases were written to overcome this problem. With the use of these test cases new programs can be of high quality on first release. The DATC contains also recommendations for ambiguities in the rules.

Variants to the original map and rules were also added to judges. As it is sometimes difficult to find many people who are familiar with the same variant in a face-to-face environment, and the addition of software expanded the possibilities for variants, many variants are specific to Internet Diplomacy, where players can easily download a map and rule-set.

Ken Lowe Judge[edit]

The Ken Lowe Judge system was the first judge system to be created.[1] The Ken Lowe Judge system allows users to send press to one another and send orders to the processing server through a variety of text commands. Today, many online adjudication systems run in the same, or similar, fashion to the Ken Lowe Judges.

NJudge[edit]

Njudge was a rewrite of the Ken Lowe Judge system, with more support added for different variants. This version of the judge software was created by Nathan Wagner, then Judgekeeper (Administrator for a Judge Server) to clean up issues that arose over the years due to the multiple different programmers who had made adjustments the original code. This software program continues to be used on a number of email servers.[2]

Web/email interfaces[edit]

In recent years as the web has become more dynamic Internet Diplomacy has shifted from email to the web. Due to the complexity of adjudicators and judges, the earliest web implementations primarily provided a web interface to the email based Judges.

One of the main advantages of web-based implementations over previous options is that they can display computer-generated graphical maps of the current board on the web-page, instead of requiring the user to update the positions of the game's units on a physical board based on text output.

Diplomacy.ca[edit]

Developed by David Osborne, Diplomacy.Ca has been in operation since 1984 as a Bulletin Board and since 1999 as a web site. It was one of the first sites that allowed participation through an automated online system. Currently, it features web-based order entry, automated game turn processing, public and private games, press and no-press games, and custom designed interfaces. It also features a proprietary email system that allows users to protect their identity and a proprietary player ranking system.

The DPjudge[edit]

In 1995, Manus Hand created the DPjudge, among the first to use a web interface for an email judge. DPJudge allows players to view maps, game history, enter orders and write press to other players through a web interface, however some features, including signing up for a new game, or filling a vacancy in a game in progress, require email usage. The DPjudge is also able to handle numerous variant maps and rules, in addition to the standard map and rules as published by Hasbro.

Diplomaticcorp[edit]

A sample variant on diplomaticcorp

Organized in September 2000, Diplomaticcorp is a Diplomacy community that offers standard and variant Play-By-Email and Live games. Approximately 100 member-created variants are documented and playable. Also home to the DipWiki, the first online community-content-driven strategy and variant library. All games are run by a human GM (game master), no automated systems. Besides having colorful graphics, maps, a large database and player stats, there's also a wide-ranging forum for games and related topics of interest.

Web based[edit]

The most recent Diplomacy via web implementations were created for the web from scratch. This gives the advantage of allowing more complex features to be added (e.g. rule variants), but requires that complex adjudicator code be rewritten.

Comparison of Web-based Diplomacy variants
Title Year Platforms Parent Turn deadline Bots Features
Backstabbr ? ? ? ? ?
BOUNCED 1999 ? ? ? ?
webDiplomacy 2004 Web based ? 5m - 10d None
vDiplomacy ? ? webDiplomacy ? ?
Stabbeurfou 2005 ? ? ? ? English & French
playdiplomacy 2007 Web based webDiplomacy 12h - 7d (live games only for premium members) None
Conquest of Nations 2008 ? ? ? ?
Diplomacy by deNes 2003 ? ? ? ?
DipGame.org ? ? ? ? 6 bots

Backstabbr[edit]

Backstabbr is designed to bring some modern sensibilities and functionality to that space. It is purely a product of passion, made by players who enjoyed the game and wanted to spread it. Built by Tile Games, a group of self-proclaimed "handsome but scurrilous rogues" founded around two core principles: 1. Always work on projects you care about; 2. Coding is more fun when there's beer involved. The group is headquartered in any bar with free wifi in Seattle, WA. This is the site formerly known as PlayDiplomacyOnline.[3]

BOUNCED[edit]

BOUNCED (Basic Online Utility for Network Computerized Electronic Diplomacy), constructed by Christian R. Shelton in 1999, has an interface that relies upon a variety of frames, allowing players to switch between internalized press information, maps, orders and game rules. BOUNCED press and orders are stored in a database structure. It allows for a variety of press options and turn time deadlines, as well as a number of variants, including One Hundred, Sail-Ho! and Shift-Left.

webDiplomacy[edit]

A webDiplomacy generated map

webDiplomacy (previously known as phpDiplomacy) was started in December 2004[4] as an attempt to make Diplomacy more accessible to people who haven't played Diplomacy before as a board game. Orders are entered by choosing valid options from drop-down lists,[5] instead of being entered in with text, and a points system is used to let players find people of their own skill level to play with.[6] Players are given the option to mark their orders as "ready", if all seven players do so, the game advances to the next round without waiting for the clock to run out. More recent releases have introduced choices of phase length, variant support, and the site runs a fully DATC [7] compatible adjudicator. There are a number of tournaments that are run by members of the site, including a 7-player league tournament, a 49-player round robin and a location-based team tournament. The site and all its features are free to use, with hosting costs completely maintained through user donations. Since it is open source[8] it can be used to help create new web-diplomacy sites more easily, such as vDiplomacy, Facebook Diplomacy, and the first version of PLAYdiplomacy.[9]

vDiplomacy[edit]

vDiplomacy, formerly "OliDip" is a variant-centered diplomacy website based on the open source[8] of webDiplomacy run by Oliver Auth.[10] It currently features more than ninety variants,[11] with a very active member base that turns out a new variant every few months or so. These variants consist of about seventy map-change variants, and numerous rule-change variants, such as no-press, public-press, Anonymous, build anywhere ("Chaos" builds), neutral armies, and more.

Stabbeurfou[edit]

Started in September 2005, stabbeurfou is the only bilingual English–French game running site. It has full features to play standard Diplomacy and has focused on additional features for hosting tournaments that are not available elsewhere. Its simple interface makes it accessible for beginner players, while also offering various tools for orders translations, map building etc. The web site has full email notification of new messages as well as game adjudications and a warning email to advise that a deadline is 24 hours away.

The adjudicator follows very strictly all rules from the original rulebook, only deviating to guarantee adjudication correctness in absolutely all cases (convoy issues) and references the DATC protocol.

It is hosting The Diplomacy World Cup, also called the Diplomacy National World Cup, in which about 15 different nations are involved.

Orders are entered in text form so that players used to the site are ready to play face to face Diplomacy correctly. Elaborate syntax checking helps the player to correct typos. There is also an alternative mode "point and click" to enter orders.

It is also the sole platform to provide an Artificial Intelligence that will tirelessly issue decent orders for Civil Disorder powers (only in gunboat games).

playdiplomacy[edit]

playdiplomacy.com, started in December 2007, is free to play and currently has the most users. Upon clicking on a unit, the available options are displayed on the screen, eliminating the need to enter the correct order syntax.

Games have a range of deadline options, from 12 hours to 7 days. Games may be ranked or not. Players are rated by an ELO-based rating system that rates player performance based on the strength of other players in the game. Users can choose to join games anonymously, by first-come-first-served sign up, or instead create their own private password protected games to be enjoyed with friends. Games also may be played with less than 7 players.

The site has a very active forum community who often discuss game strategy as well as to play member-organised forum games with more complex maps and rule variants, which are open to all members. There are also tournaments, including individual, doubles, and team tournaments, as well as tournaments for some of the variants and tournaments open only to the highest-ranking members. Currently the site has over 130,000 registered members and over 2000 that participate regularly and is ranked by www.alexa.com as the most popular Diplomacy site on the web.

The site recently announced a major overhaul to the source code will be implemented in 2016 to make it more compatible with mobile devices. Play in up to 3 standard games simultaneously is free whilst flexibility to play more games at once and many variants requires a premium membership costing $20 or €20 per annum. There is an active mentoring program for new members wishing to learn from experienced players that is available to standard (free) members and premium members alike.

The site has its own online magazine involving all things diplomacy: a Fleet In Paris.

Conquest of Nations (formerly WorldLeaders the Game)[edit]

Conquest of Nations, launched in August 2008 as Worldleaders the Game. It has an interactive point and click interface. The standard, fast, and private game can be played, but also the variants Colonial and Youngstown. Currently there are four map variants, and game size and attributes are customizable. An extensive rule book and quick start guide are available for reference.

The site features tournament play, sophisticated anti-cheating scripts, video tutorials, and thorough help files.

For communication between the players, there is an in-game instant messenger and chat room.

Diplomacy by deNes[edit]

Diplomacy by deNes, launched in 2003. The site is developed by Dutch people, although the texts are in English.

DipGame.org[edit]

DipGame provides a web-interface to an DAIDE AI server that allows a web-based single-player game against 6 bots (i.e. computer players). It is also possible to save games and to resume later. The website is a beta version and has some known bugs, including a critical one that makes the game stop and impossible to log in again until the webmaster restarts the system and your game is lost (June 2012).

The website was initiated for a PhD research project to provide a Multiagent Systems' testbed developed at the IIIA-CSIC in Barcelona. They plan to develop negotiating capabilities for the bots,[12] however these are not available in the web-interface yet (June 2012). It is also possible to download an off-line version to develop your own bots.[13]

Smartphone Apps[edit]

Resolution Phase (Conspiracy Android App)

There are also several implementations for smartphones, giving an easier way of keeping track of games for the cost of a simpler and sometimes more limited user interface.

Droidippy[edit]

Droidippy, launched in 2011. An implementation for Android smartphones that only supports classical games. It has a point and click interface with panning and zooming of a map and long click to give orders to units.

Conspiracy[edit]

Conspiracy was launched in early 2017. This Android port sports a modern material design interface, helping the players to compose complex, but valid, orders. An ELO rating system is used to rank the players worldwide.

Online service based[edit]

The GEnie online service offered fully automated versions of Diplomacy and variants to subscribers.[14]

Intellectual Property[edit]

The Diplomacy game is in copyright in most of the world, and in addition, Hasbro holds a trademark in the name. All the Avalon Hill intellectual property did not go to Avalon Hill allowing Valley games to reprint under the Avalon Hill title.[15] None of the implementations in this article hold a license from Hasbro or from Allan Calhamer. Since Scrabulous has been removed from Facebook, there is a concern that Hasbro may pursue other unlicensed Facebook implementations of their games.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is njudge?" by Millis Miller, The Diplomatic Pouch, S2002R, retrieved October 4, 2006
  2. ^ DP:Judge current openings list
  3. ^ Tile Games, 'Backstabbr About'.
  4. ^ "phpDiplomacy - Starting off"
  5. ^ "webDiplomacy order interface screenshot"
  6. ^ "webDiplomacy points document"
  7. ^ "DATC Adjudicator Test cases"
  8. ^ a b "webDiplomacy SourceForge page"
  9. ^ PLAYdiplomacy about page
  10. ^ "vDiplomacy Disclaimer"
  11. ^ "vDiplomacy Variants"
  12. ^ Fabregues & Sierra, 'DipGame: a challenging negotiation testbed'. Scientific journal article in prep. at EAAI
  13. ^ Fabregues & Sierra, 'DipGame: a challenging negotiation testbed'. Scientific journal article in prep. at EAAI
  14. ^ "A Survey of On-Line Games". Computer Gaming World. 1993-05. p. 84. Retrieved 7 July 2014.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ Avalon Hill History