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Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

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Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Martin on Tue Oct 20, 2015 11:25 pm

A couple of guys (one each in the US and UK) have asked whether it would be possible to remotely participate in our monthly face-to-face k/spiels over the internet.

I think we should look at this, and it should surely be possible to organise something.  But what I suspect we need to do is design a game around the idea, rather than try and bolt it on to one of the monthly Little Gaddesden games.  Apart from anything else, the internet there is almost non-existent.  It’s hard to even get a mobile phone signal.  

I thought I would start this thread in the hope of generating some ideas on how best to implement this.  Here are some questions which occurred to me:

What’s the best venue?  Maybe what we are looking at is a game run from someone’s home, with a good internet.  

Are we looking for a mix of attendees?  By which I mean some physically present and others via the internet?  What issues would that raise in terms of umpiring?

How should we organise the game?  In our regular games, whatever the timescale, players will often get sitreps every 10 or 15 minutes.  We normally have as many umpires as players.  How will that work if players are not physically present?  How will that work if umpires are not physically present?  If you step away from your PC for a coffee, there is no way of briefing you, whereas if you are in the hall at Little Gaddesden, you can always be found.

Would a game with just one umpire work better?  Several years ago Ben Hutchings successfully umpired a traditional detachments c1870 game by telephone.  That had the advantage that you knew when you were needed because the phone would ring.  But it’s a lot more expensive with overseas players, and to keep the game moving at a reasonable pace means limiting the number of players to a maximum of 4 or preferably less.

Would it be best to play over a weekend?  That way the umpire(s) could send out sitreps say every 2 hours, so players would know when to check their PC, and still have time to do other stuff.  Players would then need to submit any new orders an hour later, so umpires would also know when to check for incoming stuff, and have time to implement new orders and generate the next sitreps.  Is an hour turnaround enough?

How best to communicate?  By text, email or Skype?  Or something else?

What type of game would be best?  A traditional horse & musket k/spiel needs lots of umpires to keep it moving.  Perhaps something totally different would be best?  We currently have lots of different topics in the works for running at Little Gaddesden.  ECW, Zulu War, WW1 Naval, Vietnam.  Perhaps one of more of these would work well.

Hopefully this will generate some discussion.........and some additional games Very Happy

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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Uncle Billy on Wed Oct 21, 2015 12:26 am

Is Little Gaddesden the only place to host these games? Might there be another venue which has at least embraced the 20th century, if not the 21st. How about a university commons or public library multi-purpose room?

If such a place could be found, initially, an internet player could be just a team member in an appropriate game. He'd be paired with one or more players that are on site. Once the limitations of such play are identified, then games could be modified to take them into account.

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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  midgetmanifesto on Wed Oct 21, 2015 4:44 am

Google hangouts allows sharing of a screen amongst people. There are some roleplaying game sites (roll20 comes to mind) that allow multiple users to view and manipulate features (typical the tile that represents their character on a map). I could see having a whole team in a given game group where they can play with their known map & info.

The GM(s) could have separately join each group to give a single briefing to all players. You could have set times for briefings to to occur to avoid trying to find the players.
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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Father General on Wed Oct 21, 2015 5:57 am

Hunt the Bismarck...

One month we do the hunt, the following month the naval battle.

Even if the Bismarck escapes, we can do the naval battle for the halibut anyway.

It's very nebulous in my mind right now, but the idea is growing on me...

-Neal
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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Guest on Wed Oct 21, 2015 8:46 pm

Used to do Table wargames all the time until my mid 20's then the source of players dried up.  Sure do miss those days.

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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Father General on Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:48 am

I keep thinking about the Naval kriegsspiel and how we could make it work.

I have even considered creating a fictitious WWII scenario to make scenario building even easier. I could also run something myself as PBEM, if there's enough interest. But of course, I do want to participate in a real-life KS game with the gentlemen in England so I can see firsthand how the pros do it. I feel I could learn some lessons that might be handy in the games I umpire.

Well, my creativity is flowing now, so depending on how this thread turns out, I will cobble something together.

-Neal
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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Mr. Digby on Fri Oct 23, 2015 9:00 am

I think we need to thrash out the logistical issues first, then think about scenario design later that will work with whatever participation framework is used. A PBEM game isn't addressing the question. We can play those any time.

It seems to me that having a venue with stable broadband internet is the first stage and as we all know, Little Gaddesden hall isn't it.

This means a location at either a member's home or a one-off hired venue. A physical venue also has to satisfy all the other face-to-face KS requirements - mostly ease of access for the maximum number of people. That's where we should focus initially.

Personally I have always thought Little Gaddesden was too far south. A venue in the midlands may open up our games to more KS Society members. This is a different issue again and one that ought to be announced via a society newsletter (which I don't think we have!)

Village and church halls are often quite cheap to hire.

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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Father General on Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:26 am

You will need to find a workable venue.

Time difference is a factor. As for me, I am GMT -8. I'm still asleep when you're having lunch. However, I would have no problem getting up at 4AM for the experience. It would limit our game to your schedules on the back end, so the most we could probably get done is an 8-10 hour game. The good news is everyone lives east of me, and has a better time situation than I do.

Google+ is an excellent way to network for free with a webcam. As for maps, updates and face-to-face communication, those are minor issues which can be resolved by anyone with a little ingenuity.

I keep thinking what would it cost to choose a venue and fly everyone to the same spot for a weekend... Then I realize just how crazy I am. Still, if my business future pans out, it just might happen, because I am crazy enough to spend that kind of money on an experience like that.

Can't be much more expensive than a weekend at Disneyland anyway.

-Neal
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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Master of Europe on Sat Oct 24, 2015 12:49 am

I'm in the US, and I'm intrigued by the idea. Only problem is that you guys are six hours ahead of me, so that's a problem. Would like to see if anyone has a solution to this problem. A solution I could think of is that we have email reports, say every 2 hrs. Hope that we can work out something. Bob
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Re: Remote participation in our regular kriegsspiels

Post  Martin on Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:33 pm

Glad to see this has generated some interest.  Let me respond to a few questions/points in the discussion so far:

1. Are there any other regular groups & venues?

I’m not aware of anyone doing exactly what we do in the UK, although there is a group called Megagame-Makers who run very large scale games, and these frequently have a large k/spiel element.  These are full-day events, they hire a school or other large venue, and make a substantial charge for participation.  There is some overlap in personnel between this group and our own.  I have seen references to a group in Germany, but I do not know if they still play on a regular basis.  In the US, James Sterrett occasionally runs games for US army officers at Leavenworth, and the Father General has recently started doing so in California.  

2. It would be more convenient for some folks if KS games were run in the midlands

Absolutely, and it would be good if that could be arranged.  Of course for players from the London area, they would be as inconvenient as the Little Gaddesden games are for players from further north.  What’s really needed is for a new group to form in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Coventry etc.  I think there are sufficient players to do that, but how to mobilise them is the question.  It would be great if that happened, and I’m sure some of the Little Gaddesden contingent would make the occasional pilgrimage if another group got going.

3. I’m not sure we can separate logistical issues from scenario design.  Depending on the type of game, the logistics may vary.  Here are two examples:

a) For a traditional horse & musket detachments game between forces of divisional or corps size, we would normally aim to give players frequent briefings - say every 15 minutes.  These are not usually very detailed eg “2 battalions and a battery have appeared on the ridge to the NE, and the guns are unlimbering.  What are your orders?”.  There might also sometimes be a courier message received from one of the player’s team-mates.  In essence though the players are briefed often but receive relatively limited amounts of information.

b) For a game which I’m hoping to run at some point on strategic decision-making by Hitler and his top generals, there might only be a briefing every hour.  But this briefing will include a lot of information, covering as it must developments on all main fronts and also taking account of aspects such as formation of new divisions, industrial production, strategic considerations such as whether we should continue to field an army in Finland?  And what are the implications if we do not?  Each player represents the head of a function (eg OKW, OKH, OB West etc).  There will follow a discussion between the players (chaired by AH) following which decisions will be made which impact the next 4-6 weeks.  Here we have infrequent but very detailed briefing, and virtually unhindered communication between players.

From an umpiring and logistic standpoint, these are very different, and it seems to me that this may well impact the amount and type of remote participation.  I therefore think it best if folks float their ideas, and we discuss them from both a game design and umpiring & logistical standpoint.  Hunting the Bismark sounds good, and at this stage the more game ideas the better IMHO.

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