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Below are the 18 most recent journal entries recorded in Flip Flop Productions' LiveJournal:

Wednesday, August 6th, 2003
11:08 pm
Brute force, finess, and the cost of armour
Just got off the phone to yapman... so a quick brain-dump before i forget what was said.

Er... first, we're back to thinking about this FFP stuff after various other things have had increased priority with the little grey cells. But the new concept and thought that needs documenting is this:

There is a relationship between the amout of damage an attack does to the Victim and the Victim's Armour, dependant on the weapon used.

Take for example:

A hammer thunking down on:
Chain armour. Ow. Damage to the wearer. But the armour reforms to take the strike. [Damage to armour < Damage to wearer]
Plate armour. Oooh. Pain to the wearer. Also requiring a modicum of panel beating for the armour. [Damage to armour = Damage to wearer]
A crash helmet. Loud. Helmet smashed to heck. Owner unscathed, yet annoyed at losing an expensive bit of kit. [Damage to armour > Damage to wearer]
A manhole cover (laughez-vous pas, it was done in A Fistful of Dollars). Loud. But no damage to the strikee, and tbh, no damage to the manhole cover. [Damage to armour = Damage to wearer = 0]

So, this is a different (some would say more sophisticated) slant on the traditional - "bludgeoning, piercing, slashing" classification of weapons. The armour that is being attacked can take more, less or the same amount of damage than the wearer - or even be impervious.

yapman prolly had a more sophisticated idea of how the concept was meant to be expressed. But he can expound on it later :-)

Current Mood: enebriated as passed wind
Tuesday, June 24th, 2003
3:54 pm
Is this what it will look like
Look at http://timb.net/ffp, it's something Ive scratched together in my
spare time.

What do you think? Is it too complicated? Too simple? Missing anything
(yes - it's missing a section for the party's transports).

Once all everything brought up in that page is implemented, there's a good
game to be played.

Current Mood: artistic
Monday, June 16th, 2003
4:54 pm
Ok, mightyfoo has posted some stuff on the Twiki, but I want to discuss a little more the underlying mechanics. The actual creation and implementation of the planning aspect, I leave for another time.

Having spent a little time over the weekend thinking about it, I propose the following:
Combat is simple in essence - units have an attack skill, a defend skill, a damage score, an armour score and hit points.
Combat proceeds in rounds

  • Movement and missile
  • Everyone 'takes a swing'
  • People disengage

Obviously, rounds continue until combat is somehow resolved.

In terms of 'taking a swing', attack skills are compared to defense skills, random factors included, obviously, then damage is determined. Note, both sides could potentially take damage - quite a lot of it. This is intentional, I think it'll make things far more interesting, and allow people to tailor their troops more.

So, what do people think?
Thursday, June 12th, 2003
3:38 pm
While I was out...
I've opened a TWiki Web - FFP HERE

ATM the following aren't populated - but this evening I'll be filling them in.
Please don't edit any pages until about 8pm, since I want to keep the edit locks on them.

To quote from the Main page:

Welcome to the home of TWiki.FFP. This is a web-based collaboration area for ...
* FlipFlopIntroduction
* CombatRules
* TradeRules
* ReputationAndContracts
* MessagingAndInteraction
* WorldBackground
* MapsAndMovement
* CaravanRules
* CharactersAndUnderlings
* FrontEnds

This web is open for all and sundry to edit... if there's any abuse of that - it won't be.
(Simple enough I think)
Wednesday, May 21st, 2003
2:42 pm
It gets tricky when there's a stupidly long thread, and that's where this idea has come from, so I thought I'd give it a nice, visible place of it's own.

I (and apparently jimfer) like the idea of local reputations.

It's a simple concept, that may not be easy to explain, so bear with me if I'm not appearing to make sense.

Every community in the game, will have a reputation score for each player (yeah, I know, it's a damn big table). Actions players take will have an instantaneous effect on the score in their local community (breaking contracts, helping out caravans, supplying desperately needed foodstuffs, whatever). The complicated bit, is where we then have those reputations 'ripple' out from where they occurred. Basically, we then have another (large) table which determines the effect the reputation score in each location affects that in the others, which will be based on things like distance and ease of travel between them. This, then, gets applied at every (daily) update. Also, reputations will tend to decay back to 0 (neutral) over time.

What does this mean? Well, simply put, you can outrun a bad reputation. It should catch up with you eventually, unless of course, you perform good works to counteract it (or it just isn't very bad). Theoretically, depending upon the variables we use, it might be possible to run both a good reputation in one locale, and a bad one in another, although if we decide to allow this, it should be hard.

Now, obviously we have your reputation affect how NPCs interact with your character. The prices you get, the amount any law enforcement harass you, etc. Also, we let players check the local reputation of any players they are interacting with (and I mean the location of the player making the check), in order that they can decide how to react and whether to form contracts, and the like.

So, what do the rest of you think?

Current Mood: creative
Thursday, May 15th, 2003
5:11 pm
Kwikee topic to start this off:

Pledges will be made from one party ((N)PC, Train, the game gods) to another.
Pledges can be chained and dependent on each other (allowing a bit of either or flexibility)
Contracts will be implemented as 2 one-way pledges.
(i.e. an exchange of goods and services)

When one commitment is made, the other becomes binding.
The game will watch for a breech of binding pledges (and uncompleted contracts); either branding the breecher as a purjuror or voiding the contract.

Either party can release the other from his duties, but that will not automatically be reciprocal. Without entering into a “Release” meta-contract, such an act is foolish, trusting (foolish) or generous (foolish).

An incomplete list of commitments is show as an exampleCollapse )

If you want to add comments, please do
Wednesday, May 14th, 2003
4:30 pm
It's not how big it is ...
A question we've not yet considered (or at least, I haven't) is just how big we're going to make our world, and are we going to limit the number of players?

Now, before you all get excited, thinking that this is just crazy talk, hear me out.

We can, probably, make this an infinitely growing world, with a system of generating whatever is over the next hill before the players get there. Alternatively, we can generate entire worlds, allow up to a certain number of players into that world, and run (potentially) multiple worlds in parallel.

If we're going to go heavy on the diplomacy, to the extent that we encourage players to work together, backstab each other, et cetera, all facilitated by mightyfoo's contracts system, then we need to seriously consider limiting the number of players in the world, as otherwise it's awfully difficult to manage a system where there is a (not artificial) downside to butchering your 'allies'.

Current Mood: contemplative
Tuesday, May 13th, 2003
4:08 pm
More degrees of freedom
We need to decide what resources we're talking about players being able to produce, use and trade in. this is where we can rapidly overcomplicate things and go into much too much depth, or oversimplify, seriously reducing the long term playability of the game, so we need to be terribly careful ... Now, I'm pretty sure that we don't just want manufactured goods, but do we want to be able to manufacture goods, even if it's a non-player activity (or a player directed but not controlled activity), which I think it should be? Given that we want to manufacture goods, do we want multiple resources to be used in the manufacture of (some) goods? Well, that's clearly yes, otherwise there's hardly any freedom at all.

So, a rough list of resource types, with some levels of resources below them, so we can talk about this some more.

Long example list ...Collapse )

Obviously this gives a lot of flexibility, but also makes the coding more complicated. We need to make a decision on how many levels to work with, and how much detail to include at each level.

The more I look at this list, the more I think it might be suited to Prolog ...

Current Mood: focussed

Monday, May 12th, 2003
2:29 pm
How detailed will combat be? Will we assume a convoy is just so damn heavy the players can’t get too tactically involved in defending one.

Will they set “policies” — when to withdraw (% damage), when to advance, when to release the flying monkeys?

IMO, this is prolly the fairest way, because unless players agree to fight (ala neopets), one player (the defender) will be at a severe disadvantage to someone who can change tactics from round to round.

Defenders: have standing orders for convoy defence
Attackers: must submit a battle plan for the battle... and only one per day (per victim?)
12:05 pm
It's time we got on with setting out some specifics, so we can get on with coming up with some rules ...

We seem to be agreed on making this a post-apocalyptic game, in the vein of Elite, giving us and (more importantly) the players a great deal of flexibility about what can be done. In order to put some more constraints on thing, I'm quite keen on the idea of not only having inhospitable areas, but setting the whole thing in desert conditions. This has the potential advantage of actually forcing the players to do things, since if they sit around doing nothing, we can make them use up their water supplies, or something.

What we haven't agreed on as yet, is whether we're looking at an Earth (or near Earth) analogue, or something totally alien or fantastic. I'm inclined towards avoiding classic fantasy, but going for a near Earth analogue.

11:57 am
keep them busy ...
Moving on with our Elite theme, there's a number of things we might want to enable groups to be (not necessarily players, I include non-player roles here).

Here's an early attempt at a list (with some stolen from mightyfoo):
  • warriors
  • producers of resources
  • transporters
  • traders
  • refiners of material
  • manufacturers of goods
  • thieves
  • consumers of resources

So, what's missing?

Current Mood: thoughtful
11:29 am
IMPL: resouces
We will probably want a scheme along these lines:

  • A player plays a party of PCs
  • Each PC is responsible for carrying a quantity of zero or more resources
  • Each PC is responsible a zero or more NPC resource porters (animals, carts and broad shouldered anonymous chappies)
  • Only PCs improve with experience although they can “inspire” their underlings
  • In any fight, a PC that is hit and “killed” will be dragged off by his remaining porters, who will patch him up. (The unit is withdrawn from the combat). A PC with no porters can stay in combat (displaying stupidity or heroism) or run away (displaying presence of mind in the face of danger)

This way the player gets to play a large caravan, but with minimal mini-μ-management
Friday, May 9th, 2003
5:03 pm
Turn policies
The two methods of applying players’ orders into the game seem to be:

- Turn based (batch)
- or Real Time

(or a hybrid of course)

Real TimeBatch
Players feel like they’re actually doing something
Players don’t have to wait for the next update to see results of their actions (it’s a game, not a bonsai tree)
Players can interact in-game with each other (OOB interactions occur separately anyhoo)

All actions are resolved concurrently
Players cannot use timing in order to “play” the game
The rules are executed more predictably
Although micro-management is possible (and encouragable), standing orders can be executed in a batch
There has to be a batch run anyway to do daily things (like pay interest, grow grass, possibly healing)
Thinking of empire, batch processing helps with “budgeting” and planning.
Players know that so long as they play their moves anywhere in the turn period (between batch runs) they will be fairly treated
There is no way to synchronise in-game interactions between players in different time-zones (whether geographical or that they just don’t get out of bed in time)
This can be (ab)used to clobber players while they are asleep… which is not really fun for the victim

A lack of the “advantages” of real-time
The server is sluggish (or even unavailable) during the batch run

These are both pure views, and a mix would allow - say live interactions, and the ability to practice skills in real time, whereas movements and longer term actions can be managed in batch.

As an implementation note: if real-time handling is implemented, then batch processing comes for free… a batch run is a job lot of rt events happening simultaneously

Current Mood: geeky
2:45 pm
Game Ideas
Clive asked elsewhere for some ideas - so here you go:

I always remember Stu playing silly wrestling games, but I'd have thought Gladiators might be nice - different arenas to travel between (with scope to watch roads and try and ambush opponents with overwhelming force); tactics; weapons; teams etc. I'd avoid any crappy future settings for this style and go for something Historical.

Also Elite as one of my all-time favourite games, perhaps where you can do trading on one level, but at the same time run "convoys" of ships - traders plus fighter-carriers, escorts etc. - so you can either have a small, well protected, fast convoy or a larger rag-tag fleet. Maybe even some way of letting players run together on the same convoy, or control Bounty Hunter or Pirate fleets.

Only other historical period which interests me is Arthurian (pre-Saxon) where you could have a warband level game; with hero figures; levies; control of villages; two sides on a strategic scale like "Battle for Europe" or whatever the DoD thingy is.

Current Mood: cheerful
2:00 pm
Backend mechanism
Related to Engine constraints. What are we planning to write all this in?

Obviously, we want to be running on cheap systems, so we're effectively talking one or other Linux distro, probably, but not necessarily, Mandrake. We had decided to use Apache without any real discussion about alternatives, so what are our alternatives? What are the relative advantages?

Also we talked about using MySQL for the backend databases. postgreSQL has also been mentioned. Once again, are there other alternatives? What are the pros and cons?

Current Mood: keen
12:32 pm
An example game configuration language
This is for a totally different kind of game (hex-based war game):

But shows the flexibility possible (and probably necessary) for any kind of game implemented this way.
11:23 am
Engine constraints
Being an eager chap, mightyfoo is keen to get on with creating an engine. He has persuaded me that he is capable of designing something that is flexible enough to enable us to write the game rules in parallel.

Being somewhat paranoid, I want to make sure we get some constraints written down, so that something fundamentally key to something we later want to do doesn't turn out to be impossible.

So, initial list:
Submission method - we're planning to make it web form based, but don't limit it, we can turn this into a pbem engine later, potentially
Processing turns - if we have a mechanism for processing turns as they arrive, it should be easy to adapt to an all at once system if we decide to go that way, so design with on the fly processing in mind.
The engine should allow for the possibility that there can be multiple directly controllable and indirectly controllable units within the players 'party' (for example, villagers within a player's community that can be directed, but might do their own thing, or similar)
There should be a mechanism for GM's to directly alter things, to make things happen within the game world (for example, the GM's should be able to create and then initialise an 'event' that affects the world, players or whatever)

Thoughts, comments, abuse, whatever please ...

Current Mood: avoiding work
11:05 am
And so to the next stage
For anybody randomly wandering into this community, here's what it's all about.

Some time ago, several people (mainly yapman and mightyfoo) decided it was time to start writing a new web game (see here for the post that moved the discussion public).

Anyway, rather than continuing things on an old post, it was decided that it would be worthwhile creating a community to discuss things, so, without further ado, I present Flip Flop Productions ...

Current Mood: optimistic
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