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(TFT) yesterdays text, this is STILL a test...

This is the stuff I sent yesterday.
It's still not showing up in the archives so I've no clue what's happining with this ISP...

If this is messing things up then I'll keep banging my head on the prob.


Okay, Im not sure that everybody will get just why Im sharing/inflicting this on the list as it refers to an old DOS computer game.

What the heck does that have to do with TFT come the cries.

Ahhh, but there are a NUMBER of shared issues here.

Ill point out a couple to keep an eye on in scanning the stuff below.

1 - TFT and Panzer General DOS are both effectively "dead" systems.

Therefore many of this guys comments mirror my own feelings about writing for such a system.

2  Pay close attention to his comments about "computer assisted" boardgaming.

Ive got an awfully cobbled together system that lets "clicks" in a game like Civilization translate into x turns in other games, i.e. a Build Road order in Civ opens Transport Tycoon for a year, or sending out a Caravan unit opens up a open source version of Space Trader with the terms and goods modified for the proper genera, etc.

This allows for all out war w/o a TON of bookkeeping for the poor GM.

That S.O.B. Sherman can walk to the ocean and I can give a playable model of the effects on many Scales, as well as from an infrastructure standpoint, or economic, etc.

This is what brought me to the 5star stuff, its abandon-ware, and its SMALL.

I can draw my square-hexes over the Civ grid, then bring up PG with each hex mapped to a custom scenario. 

Anyway, thats how I found this.

3  As one can tell from the text, this was written during the late 90s.

Some of it is spookie-prophetic IMO.

Of course some of it is outta date.

Like me!

(I wonder how much it is to "get in bed" with Carmac on Quake these days?)

(Has anybody been keeping an eye on the "Public Domain" lately? Some intresting stuff oughta be coming outta copyright these days)




My reluctance to "replace" Panzer General (DOS) with either Panzer General (Windows '95) or Allied General (Windows '95) as my main object of play, study, research and development mainly stems from the fact that I consider SSI's PG/AG (Windows '95) engine to be an insignificant game system variation on the original that is rather poorly documented and which definitely exhibits the infamous PBEM"backwards looping prestige bug". However, why is it that I am resisting to take a closer look at, say, SSI's Pacific General what with all these reputed improvements and added flexibilities ? This IS an important issue and I intend to deal with it thoroughly !! 

In my humble opinion, "instant/gratification" is threatening quality wargaming. The world of computers, electronic communications and modern life, in general, is simply not conducive to the keeping of long term commitments......There are NO ENDURING CLASSICS, period !!! Yesterday it was DOS/WINDOWS, today it is WINDOWS '95 and tomorrow it will be something else. '

Similarly, yesterday it was Panzer General, today it is Panzer General II and tomorrow, well, who knows ? 

Now that SSI's Panzer General II has arrived on the scene, Panzer General (DOS) will become obsolete and forgotten about, right ?

Hence, what is the use of trying to MASTER ANYTHING be that a computer operating system, a piece of software or, even, a computer wargaming title ? 

Here is the "curse" bedeviling my hobby. Namely, for some time now, SSI has been engaging in shameless "release creep" rendering the object of my study slippery at best, virtually undefinable and chaotic at worst !! Basically, what is one too do when confronted with successive and frequent SSI releases of computer strategy game titles that are SO similar to one another (but NOT identical) ? Is it worth studying them all ? 

If not, how does one pick THE ONE to study ? Shall it be PG (DOS), or, perhaps, PG II ? And what does one do a few months from now when/if SSI floods the market with PG III (well, they HAVE released Steel Panthers III, haven't they ?).

When does one start playing and studying the UNDERLYING BOARDGAMES ? 

(ed note; PREACH Brother!)

The reason why I am focussed on PG (DOS) is that PG (DOS) is a "classic" and..........came first. Personally, I would not touch any of the other SSI 5 Star General game titles that have been published to date because I consider ALL OF THEM to be INSIGNIFICANT VARIATIONS of the PG (DOS) game engine !! 

To this effect, Windows '95 plays no role whatsoever in this regard......It is just my BOARDGAMER'S preferences that are at play here (i.e., just give me ONE GREAT computer-assisted boardgame that I can UNDERSTAND and MASTER, that is ALL_I_ASK) ! If I am going to MASTER a 5 Star General game title, it may as well be the original PG (DOS) !! From where I stand, I see no reason to master (as opposed to merely toying with) Allied General, Pacific General or, even, Panzer General II. 

For some time now, I have been spearheading an effort to produce NON-PERISHABLE DOCUMENTATION for those PG (DOS) enthusiasts who desire to master the game and play it in various innovative ways. In fact, it is the availability of adequate documentation that transforms a run of the mill computer wargaming title into a computer assisted boardgame.....For example, those of us who have never bothered with Prima Publishing's Official PG Strategy Guide have very little chance at mastering the game within a reasonable time period..... 

You see, some of us, oldtimers, who have been playing the reasonably well documented boardgames of yesteryear, have a hard time looking at strategy computer wargaming titles as "black boxes" inviting empirical simulation and not much else....... However, younger enthusiasts appear to like these games just fine and do not appear to be bothered at all by the relative lack of documentation !! 

Let me start off by commenting on PG (DOS-Floppy Disk) in the context of SSI's 5 Star General game title series. Perhaps the greatest blow dealt to PG as a classic game framework/universe was the release of the CD-ROM version of the game by SSI and the attendant, gradual phasing out of the floppy disk version !! The CD-ROM version did two things: first, it effectively stopped meaningful PG customization dead in its tracks and, second, it moved the focus of interest away from the underlying boardgame itself by highlighting and advertising a bevy of special effects capabilities that had nothing to do with hobbyist playing skills......

As it turned out, SSI was right in the sense that the CD-ROM version proved to be a hot seller ! To capitalize on Windows '95 as well, SSI quickly (and "dirtily")

repackaged the PG (DOS) engine and made it available as PG (Win '95).

Moreover, they released what, in effect, was a scenario add-on to PG (Win '95) and

called it.....Allied General (Win '95), a game title in its own right !! It is interesting to

note that, in certain european countries, Allied General was released under the

name Panzer General II.......In many respects, PG (DOS) is not even a "legitimate"

part of SSI's 5 Star General game title series !! This is because the series

PRIMARILY concerns itself with CD-ROM wargame titles that are NATIVE to

Windows '95. 

OK, then, PG (DOS-Floppy Disk) is distant....history, no question about it !!

HOWEVER, is PG (DOS-Floppy Disk) a classic game framework/universe ? In the

mind of this author it definitely is ! BUT, there is NO evidence to suggest that more

than a handful of enthusiasts would ever be willing to read (or write) anything about

this game title let alone customize and organize things under the

hood......Interestingly enough, more recent wargame title releases like Pacific

General and Panzer General II do not seem to have generated much enthusiasm

either.....I am guessing that SSI's 5 Star General game title series just CANNOT

attract ANY enthusiasts with STRONG, LASTING interests !!! 

Now, let me talk a bit more about PG (DOS). 

A) PG (DOS) was released in late 1994. After two updates (versions 1.1 and 1.2)

and when SSI started beating the drum in support of Allied General, I bought the

game being reasonably sure that I was buying a FINAL product and not some

"crypto-beta" version !!:)) That was in late 1995 (even back THEN, finding the

floppy disk version was not exactly easy). 

B) I spent A YEAR playing (on and off) against the PG (DOS) AI module and

researching the game with the INVALUABLE help of Prima Publishing's Official PG

Strategy Guide. In late 1996, I made my Internet PBEM debut at some club....... 

C) It took me ANOTHER YEAR of experience with PBEM PG (DOS) hobbyists to

embark upon the venture of the Panzer General (DOS) PBEM Research Center.

YES, the Research Center was launched 3 FULL YEARS after the game title's

initial release...!!!!!! 

Let us now look at Pacific General. 

1) This game title is hardly 6 months old......The original release was, without a

doubt, "crypto-beta". Update version 1.1 fully discharged SSI's "responsibilities"

towards its customers. It is more or less a safe bet to assume that SSI is basically

FINISHED with this title, which, in my books, is a VERY GOOD thing (i.e., no more

SSI tinkering) !! At least one has a FINAL product to play with while those who have

RUSHED to buy PG II, well.... 

2) To my knowledge, there is no such thing as a Pacific General Strategy Guide

("official" or "unofficial"). In other words, there is a BIG problem with advanced

mechanics documentation ! Moreover, 6 months is not a very long time for

enthusiasts to REALLY try this kind of game out. You may recall that it took a

LONG TIME for such nasty little "details" like the infamous PG/AG (Windows '95)

"backward looping PBEM prestige bug" to.........come out in the open (and, unlike

the present soporific times, 18 months ago somewhat SUBSTANTIVE discussions

were STILL taking place throughout the Internet regarding 5 Star General game


3) To my knowledge, there is little or no experience with PBEM Pacific General !! I

have NEVER come across a SINGLE reference on the Internet regarding this. For

all practical purposes, the "public" is treating this game title as non-PBEM


Bottom line is this: Will anyone be playing Pacific General in the year 2000 ?



Oh yeah, the final reason is because Outlook seems to not like the list...

I'm spitting text at this attempt to figure the prob.

Okay, here's another from the PG archives.
This guy does a good job of explaining some of the underlying factors involved so, rather than babble myself, I'll let him explain it for those non-wargamers on the list.
Afterwards I'll explain why I think this is important to TFT.

     Let me start off by giving you my definition of concurrent, mirrored play in the
     context of ANY standalone scenario play mode in Panzer General (PG): 
     In my opinion, concurrent, mirrored PG play is very desirable for the following
     1) Ever since the beginning of competitive gaming among humans, a certain
     time-honored, gentlemanly tradition of giving one's opponent a "second" chance at
     play has developed over time, the practical manifestations of which exhibit
     considerable resilience and staying power from chess to poker to backgammon
     and so on. Clearly, this gentlemanly tradition has a lot to do with FRIENDLINESS.
     At a minimum, there is a recognition that lady fortune is a fickle ally and, hence,
     everybody should get a fair chance of being bestowed with her favors...
     Concurrent, mirrored play addresses this concern head on ! It also does this in a
     most efficient manner. 
     2) PG and many other computer wargame titles involve combat where one side is
     attacking while the other one is grimly hanging on to fewer and fewer objectives as
     the game unfolds. Although the defender may eventually prevail by hanging on to
     that last precious objective, his psychology of being pushed to the wall and
     witnessing the wholesale decimation of his units can be problematic, to say the
     least. This represents a tangible threat to FRIENDLINESS. Concurrent, mirrored
     game play seems to be what the doctor ordered here...For starters, the concurrent,
     symmetrical experiences of the two players will not allow either an attacker or a
     defender type of psychology to set in. Moreover, such experiences will put a
     "human face" on all forces on the PG battlefield, a definite plus for FRIENDLINESS.
     3) The implicit camaraderie fostered by concurrent, mirrored PG play tends to
     make players more communicative than they would otherwise be. Aside from the
     obvious boost to FRIENDLINESS, better communication invariably results in better
     player EDUCATION as the two opponents may exchange friendly opinions and
     analyses. In fact, the greatest thing that concurrent, mirrored play does is that it
     allows the players to view the two symmetrical PG games as ONE entity to be
     talked about and, possibly, studied. The symmetrical nature of things leaves very
     few things in the dark...The concurrent nature of things ensures a positive dynamic
     in that the two opponents are increasingly drawn together as the games progress
     by dealing with and discussing successive layers of common experiences... 
     4) By playing both sides of a PG conflict, players develop an all around appreciation
     of scenarios and the types of forces involved, thus enhancing their EDUCATION.
     Even well disciplined and serious PG wargamers may have a tendency to gravitate
     towards certain types of familiar or esthetically pleasing situations...Concurrent,
     mirrored play is a great way to ensure that such lopsided preferences will not be
     allowed to interfere with a player's all around PG EDUCATION. 
     5) By its very nature, concurrent, mirrored play is ideal as a "research" tool in
     instances were PG scenario balancing experimental information must be
     extracted, massaged and distilled into some appropriate body of knowledge of a
     lasting utility.... Lest I forget, concurrent, mirrored PG play is "fair" when such
     game(s) are registered for "ladder" status. Who knows, such arrangements may
     even disuade certain wargamers from....replaying their moves !

Okay, I read EDUCATION as just that.
Lord knows these things can teach.
I read FRIENDLINESS as entertaining.
Being the social critters what we are, entertainment indicates the scratching of a very deep, deep-seated itch in our psyches.
But what does that have to do with TFT?
Perhaps the way you play TFT will make what I have to say here irrelevant.
That, in itself is a problem.
But anyway, here I go.
Over the years, I've narrowed my focus of roll-playing down to education and entertaining.
I consider that kinda the point of the whole thing, the "why are we all here?" question I ask myself when looking around at my players before starting a session.
I also have gravitated to the "sandbox" approach for creating an adventure rather than the plot or storyline approach.
It is MHO that if a GM takes some care in setting up the initial conditions of the adventure, a story is told through the players actions themselves.
In other words, it's been my experience that if the GM sets up two households, both alike in dignity, and lays the scene in fair Verona and throws Tybalt at 'em from the get go, well you might not get Romeo and Juliet, but you'll probably get a story.
But what does this have to do with mirrored play Jay?
Well it has to do with NPCs and Monsters.
My entertainment dictum mandates that I try to keep players as involved as I can in the action.
In situations where the party doesn't remain cohesive this can become a problem, so I let inactive players take NPC's and/or Monsters whenever possible.
That's pretty mirror like nicht whar?
Of course this raises other issues, a major one being consistency of action as over the course of time quite a number of players can have played the same NPC.
In other words, how do I communicate the basic motivations of an NPC like Tybalt who was fighting by the end of his second line?
And talk of peace?
I hate the word, as I hate hell, all Montagues. And THEE.
I ended up adopting a form of alignment for NPCs and Monsters.
It's more like motivation that alignment really.
100% divided between Fame, Fortune, and Happiness.
Points are distributed depending on how a given GM views Tybalt.
One guy might see him as proud and arrogant, perhaps feeling that Tybalts motivation for his quick temper lies in a desire for personal glory, therefore giving him a high percentage of Fame.
Another GM may think Tybalt to be motivated strictly by a lust for combat, assigning him a large Happiness (dueling) percentage.
Experience points can be used to reassign motivations and stuff like that.
This seems to help.
When I drop a greedy NPC on a player, they get the basic point of what the NPC should be doing with just a little bit of notation.
That's the role-playing side. 
Then there's the roll-playing side.
To introduce war, I either keep all the units to myself as GM, or I hand some of them off to players.
Giving players control over units like this also brings up mirrored play issues.
While allowing some very esoteric characters like bankers or politicians to actually DO something in an RPG, the entertainment dictum can have a player controlling a Unit on a smaller scale that is actively opposed to the players goals on a higher scale.
Like a player Figure who is a merchant type, (Fame 20 Fortune 70 Happiness (fine clothing) 10).
This guy's all about the cash, but as the movement of caravans and whatnot is handled in Downtime, this player will likely find themselves playing a lot of Monsters a such at role-play scales.
So my point is, consider the following situation.
The player ends up playing a Monster in role-play scale, that is actually attacking a caravan that belongs to his merchant Figure.
Motivation helps make the transition a little easier for the player.
I'd be interested in the group's opinions on this idea.
Is it a simplification, or is it just excess baggage?
I can make it work in practice, but again that may simply be a matter of taste or style.
At the very worst, if y'all see that notation in the future, y'all will have an idea of what I'm talking about, take it or leave it.

Damage ought to be scaleable.
To assign any real-world value to 1 pt. Dam in TFT allows the general construction properties of various materials to be roughly translated into game terms.
Like so.
One point of damage represents the change caused by a force in the neighborhood of 100 foot pounds.
So if I obtain a figure for some materials strength, like common brick has compressive strengths of around 600 lbs. then I can say that, in game terms, it'd take x damage to "break" the material, > 1 d dam for a brick.
I've posted some lists of material characteristics on the list already; I'll try to get around to collating them under this topic in the next week or two.
Also worth noting, the simple data on various construction materials has already been applied to various problems, like span, in the field of architectural engineering.
It's easy to simplify for hexes. (or squares)
So it's only been in the last 100ish years or so that the platform style of construction kicked in (wood).
Before that it was post and beam all the way back to the middle ages.
Before that it was pole construction.
They didn't really build wooden enclosures before the pole tech(nique) kicked in.
So give me the type of wood, the style of construction, and the number of hexes/squares you wanna span, and I can use the architectural engineering info to give you the minimum size of a given post, and more importantly its ST in damage relative to the same force the Figure uses to beat on anything else in the game.
Even slow velocity black powder weapons are coming at something in the neighborhood of 1000fps.
That's going through walls, but not posts though.
This is gonna be important because TFT has a few Talents that suggest that some type of Siege warfare type supplement was planed down the road.
The Lords/Dragons thing makes me think that even w/o SJ this was a likely planed extension of the system.
So, lacking proper rules for Sieges I've made some.
You can even build fortresses outta Lego's, to scale.
Popcicle sticks, toothpicks, those 3d foam puzzles, whatever really...
But if your gonna make any sense outta my stuff then you gotta know how I'm using some of the undefined terms in TFT, as my definitions can make a rule read a tad different...
Or is all this just an example of what Brewer and Shipely were singing about?
I think that probably the most primary purpose of a RPG rule should be to combine the players imaginations together, clearly and concisely, on the result of an action.
I've tried to talk about this as the many different views one could take of flight.
I try to imagine what it would be like to be able to "download" what my players have experienced after a session.
Are we seeing roughly the same images, or do they envision things quite differently?
I'm willing to bet that there are more boobies than "I" put there happing in some cats imagination I've GM'd for.
I think the rules and game components help everyone keep the same basics, kinda on the same sheet of music imagination wise.
But then look at who's saying that...

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