Attached art the transcripts from the recent online chat on Consimworld (“csw”) with DALE LARSON, creator of the pbem utility tool CYBERBOARD. If you don’t play games via email or have little interest in such, ignore this lengthy post.
This is an interesting discussion because Dale intimates that the next build of CYBERBOARD will include real time play capability. I helped transcribe this longish document so feel lucky you didn’t see the regular online shenannigans at CSW’s online chat room.
Dale_Larson has joined room #consimworld
[Allan] dale, how do you want to do this – q&a, presentation, what?
Skip_Franklin> A little order here. First question for Dale?
Dale_Larson> not machine gun style questioning S
kip_Franklin> Dale should know most of the names here.
Grrry> <========== that christiansen guy.
Jim_Anderson> How about Allan trying to moderate….Pick which of us to ask next
Joe_Steadman> I am Joe Steadman “wargame enthusiast” and overall rotten guy
[Allan] ok, works for me
Dale_Larson> isn’t it late for you joe?
Walter_OHara> I am Walter O’Hara.. just regular old guy
Joe_Steadman> 11:10 here am
Dale_Larson> Walt my ogre buddy Dale_Larson> from years past
Walter_OHara> I just mentioned that… I learned how to use CB from you
Jim_Anderson> I am Jim Anderson, player of Cyberboard
Jim_Anderson> brought me back into wargames
[Allan] i will cue people, one at a time, to ask one question each, other than that, please wait your turn and see what happens. as you are cued, ID yourself and add whatever bio info you want to
Skip_Franklin> Skip Franklin whose first gamebox was Wacht am Rhine
MikeR> I can’t seem to find game boxes for games I own
Walter_Claytonb> I don’t have questions. I just want to watch
[Allan] does that work for everyone?
guest> Sounds good. I’m just here to listen.
Joe_Steadman> I dont want to be first
mandelberg> sorry, i just joined, could you repeat the ground rules?
Jim_Anderson> allan will moderate [Allan] i will cue people, one at a time, to ask one question each, other
than that, please wait your turn and see what happens. as you are cued, ID yourself and add whatever bio info you want to
mandelberg> roger [Allan] who has to leave soon?
Walter_OHara> Will someone keep a log of this?
[Allan] ok, mike, and you already have a q already, i believe, let er rip
Walter_Claytonb> Good question
[Allan] i can keep a log, anyone care to edit it afterwards?
Walter_OHara> I can help Allan… I’m selfess and professional like that
[Allan] done and done
[Allan] mike, you are up
MikeR> Miker Logn time rule reader first time gamer
MikeR> How ablut Double Blind capability for Cyberboard?
Dale_Larson> I saw the question in comments; I don’t have a plan for that. If you have an idea how that would work in CB it me.
[Allan] tex, your next, ask away
Dale_Larson> I keep a file of all ideas sent to me.
MikeR> I’ll email you through the CB site
Dale_Larson> that woudl be great
Skip_Franklin> Dale, If the players could set a hex distance where a unit would not show up for the opponent that would work.
Dale_Larson> Perhaps if I put out what I think my next big steps are…?
[Allan] yes, good idea
Dale_Larson> 1) Real time play.
Dale_Larson> 2) auditted die roller
Dale_Larson> 3) better editing in CB Design (clip board and stuff)
Dale_Larson> 4) Let me open my list….
MikeR> Vector graphics?
mandelberg> could you elaborate on each of these? 2 in particular?
Dale_Larson> 5) ? Better graphical die roller that can be audited as above
Dale_Larson> > ? Hand ownership directly to another player.
Dale_Larson> ? A lobby server for online CB play.
Walter_OHara> explain “auditing”
Dale_Larson> ? Fix the damn baloon tip problem!
Dale_Larson> enough for now.
Dale_Larson> The audited roller would be to play offline but have die rolls come from a server
Walter_OHara> Aha, that is a great idea
Dale_Larson> by offline i mean online but not realtme
Walter_OHara> got it.. I follow what you mean
Dale_Larson> A person vould verify the rools by visitig the site
Walter_OHara> have a hook for input from a PBM server
[Allan] would you create a server or use an existing server?
Dale_Larson> creat a server of propose a protocol
Dale_Larson> create a server or propose a protocol. Most are email based
[Allan] back to q&a now that we have some specifics?
Walter_OHara> that’s brill, Dale
Dale_Larson> oh. I meant ay questions
mandelberg> I have one!
Dale_Larson> ay -> any 🙂
Joe_Steadman> me too
[Allan] ok, mandelberg, lay into him
mandelberg> ok, for the dice, it seems to me there is a workable protocol w/o using a server
mandelberg> you would just need to make any random events unviewable until both parties “sigh off” on them
mandelberg> is that possible?
Dale_Larson> I’ve thought about something like that.
mandelberg> this is especially useful for CDGs for which ACTS doesn’t yet have modules consimworld>
Jim has a follow-up question
Dale_Larson> i think the only way people would only trust in tourny play would be off box though.
mandelberg> well, i don
mandelberg> don’t think people are worried about hacking the code, just about trying until the dice are in their favor…
Joe_Steadman> the dice thing happens a lot a Vasl
Dale_Larson> what’s the dice thing that happens in VASL
[Allan] i see what he is saying, in non-real time play, you can keep re-opening the save game and rolling the die until you get a desirable result and save the game at that point and go on
Joe_Steadman> in a log file… right allen
Jim_Anderson> Dale. audited die rolls sounds great, but what about log files that would let players know how many times the file had been opened and closed before being saved. It would help keep the cheaters from re-rolling until getting the results he wants. Same with cards and other random draws
Dale_Larson> Yep. that’s what an audit server is designed to prevent
Walter_OHara> The primary way you can cheat in CB
mandelberg> problem is it doesn’t hel pwith other random events sch as card dealing
[Allan] the auditable server does seem like a way to end that possibility
Dale_Larson> as long as the data is on box a clever person can cheat (not that anyone plays with folks like that)
Dale_Larson> It’s that naggin doubt we need to prvent though
[Allan] i don’t see how that is 100% certifiable without a GM in non-live play
Dale_Larson> allan… which isn’t 100%
[Allan] yep, even then
Grant_Whitley> My attitude has always been, if you want to replay a turn multiple times just to get the right die roll, you deserve it
mandelberg> mmm, but if the data is encrypted, a la shadow passwords…
mandelberg> anyway, don’t want to get too gechnical here. Thanks for the explanation.
[Allan] mandelberg, but that would require every die roll to be verified by both players before you can move on, wouldn’t that add a tremendous amount of time in non-live play?
Walter_Claytonb> what if the program or computer crashes….or just reboots..
[Allan] okay, next question, JoeS
Dale_Larson> I’ve thogh about way to keep logs by exchanging public keys but there always seems like there is a way to cheat
Joe_Steadman> HI, Joe here, how are things financially for CB? (do we need to donate more?) How does Aid-de-camp, VASSAL, Hexwar, and ACTS relate to CB and have you seen a decrease in demand for CB and new game boxes as theses others have become bigger? Do you see CB ever becoming a ?pay for? product? I have also heard some call CB “clunky”, what are your thoughts on that? thanks
Dale_Larson> > On clunky…I’ve only herad you call it that in ep2 of the dice tower…not that I’m listening 🙂
Dale_Larson> I don’t see it ever going for pay unless I couldn’t earn a living 😉
Joe_Steadman> well, that was after a few emails from others
Joe_Steadman> clunky was a nice way I summed up a few others reactions…. basicly meaning not user friendly
Dale_Larson> I don’t track demand as I don’t count downloads. People are free to use CB as the wish (or not). They shouldn’t feel like they have to be exclusicve
[Allan] hey, it’s a fair question. CB has its detractors as well as adherents
Dale_Larson> I follow Windows APO conventions. I can’t account for how people relate to the program. Some like it and some hate it.
Grrry> so I should send another check then.
Joe_Steadman> so things are OK for CB money wise?
Dale_Larson> As far as donations. get a few a month. Sometimes there is a burst. It helps keep me in software an games
[Allan] dale, front page news in the NYTimes today, MAC released softwared that will let their machines run IBM type OS, free download from their website and will be included on new machines
Dale_Larson> Saw that. I think you’ll still need a license foe WinXP though
[Allan] makes sense
Dale_Larson> Boy I wisht the chat window was bigger
Walter_OHara> We’re having a talk with Dale Larson, Lone Star Walt
Joe_Steadman> how about a good tutorial? is there one I have not found?
Dale_Larson> When it comes to writing stuff you won’t see much from me
[Allan] joe! there are plenty
Dale_Larson> I’d rather write code than docs.
Walter_OHara> Gary wrote one, I did too, so did Chris Fawcett
Dale_Larson> this is the bad part about CB. However there are excellent writeups by other folks.
Dale_Larson> I’m surprised noone creted a wiki yet.
Joe_Steadman> good, thanks forthe great program and I have changed my thoughts on CB from show #2 I need to do an update onthe show
Walter_OHara> Hmmph.. that would be professional
WalterTEXAS> Okay, GREAT, but am I supposed to know this guy……is he like Jim Dunnigan or something?
Walter_OHara> tch tch.. you never studied at Walt School
Joe_Steadman> to be honest I have been playing alot of VASSEL as of late…
Dale_Larson> Tiem for walt to create a CB Wiki. 😉
WalterTEXAS> are we talking about cyberboard?
Dale_Larson> I’ve heard 🙂
Walter_OHara> I could do that.. that’s a damn fine idea Dale
Walter_Claytonb> I don’t have time
Dale_Larson> Real time questions anyone?
Joe_Steadman> thanks, next person can ask
Walter_OHara> Raising hand
Walter_OHara> Dale: You may recall an item called SEALED VIRTUAL ENVELOPES by Peter Furniss. Reference: http://www.furniss.co.uk/sve/ This is a way of having two players involved in the same game to store turn information that needs to be hidden either through the course of the game, or the course of the turn, in a manner that it can be revealed to both either at the end of a turn or the end of the game. This can be very handy when you have a hidden objective for multiplayer games. Can you see Future_CB having a feature similar to this?
Joe_Steadman> slaps student in the back of the head Korean style
Grrry> oooh. great question, good idea.
Dale_Larson> I’ve heard of it but not look at it. Will someone have this transcript later so I can get teh link in case I lose it?
Joe_Steadman> give me an example Walt
Walter_OHara> I have it handy Dale… Follow up through me
Walter_OHara> The idea, in general…
Walter_OHara> A virtual Container is created that is password protected from both players. This Virtual container can be opened when the password is shared between the players
Walter_OHara> The container holds information each player wishs to hide from each other until the agreed upon time period.
Walter_OHara> Furniss created a workable solution, but it is, to quote Joe, “clunky”
dale_larson> how do die rolls end up in the container… I guess I’m missing the point as it relates to CB
Walter_OHara> It would seem to me that it could be added to FutureCB rather easily
[Allan] ok, on to the next question
Jim_Anderson> raising hand
Nate> I’m currently playtesting Salerno in CB ~any additional features for the live version to help out?
Walter_Claytonb> working on the log
[Allan] nate, i think you had one, jim up after that
[Allan] clay, we need it from before you came in
dale_larson> My plan (and I’m currently working on it now) for real time is..
[dale_larson> The interface will stay mostly the same. you shoudl be able to move seemlessly from reatime sessions to pmem sessions. all ending up in the history/
[Allan] jim, if you have a short q, ask it while nate is still formulating his question
Jim_Anderson> Dale, how about something other than bitmaps. I like to use jpg or pdf of maps, but the maps make the gamebox huge.
dale_larson> I actually have your comments about this in my wish file.
dale_larson> Internally CB during play the format must be bitmaps.
dale_larson> I do compressthem in the file.
dale_larson> Are yous asking why you can’t import them as files?
Jim_Anderson> I do import them (cut and paste) onto the lowest level. The gamebox file is huge though 10M or bigger
dale_larson> I already compress them into the files using the same algoritm as PNG’s.
dale_larson> Of course you still need to turn on the compression.
Jim_Anderson> I do
dale_larson> If I compressed with JPEG data is lost each time. plus there is patent action going with jpgs right now.
dale_larson> My compression yields about the same as pngs
[Allan] (looking for hands for the next question, back channel me if you have a good one)
dale_larson> bitmap size also doubles when cb swtiched to 16bit bitmaps.
dale_larson> i was happy to get ride of palettes
Grrry> Dale, how long before we see a beta of the online version?
Walter_Claytonb> yeh yeh yeh!
dale_larson> can’t give dates since I don’t really know. however I am actively working on it on the weekends. I hope to have something before the weather get’s too nice :). I will need people who are will to risk all and test it.
Grrry> oh, yeah, another quicky… I’ve been doing graphics for headers on CSW for various folders. Would you mind if I ask john to set me up so I can get some pretty stuff in the header for CB?
Jim_Anderson> If you build it, we will come
Walter_Claytonb> sign me up
Skip_Franklin> [Gee, I helped push ver three with Ardennes ’44 gambox. Should I go for it again?]
dale_larson> I don’t understand the question re: headers
Grrry> Headers for the discussion folders on CSW
Walter_OHara> Hey, make a header for my blog, Gary!
Grrry> I’ve been making pretty for headers in various game folders.
Grrry> no Walter, you know how to do your own.
Grrry> you dolt
dale_larson> If you need something email me off line.
[Allan] dale, will there be a dedicated server site or will the game play peer to peer directly?
dale_larson> peer to peer
Grrry> Okay, I’ll drop a line to explain better off line.
dale_larson> lobby server at some later time
[Allan] mandelberg, i think you had a question that skip also asked me about
Grrry> what would host the audit for the dice?
mandelberg> I’d like to know if you would consider expanding the design to incoporate various rules, for example counting movement points
dale_larson> I’ve got the network software half working with a staging area chat at this time.
Walter_OHara> Hand up!
Grrry> I’ll hit the ceiling then?
dale_larson> rules: I’ve though a long time on how to enbable hooking the engine so rules could be hooked it. IT’s not easy but I haven’t given up on the idea. I’m currently pndering some .net style hooks… that’s off in the distance though.
Walter_OHara> Some of us LIKE turn based PBeM.. will you still be able to play games the old waywith the new simultaneous networking stuff added in?
dale_larson> grry: a server woudl be required I’d probably set one up here first just tho get it running. Then see if anyone would host it for real.
Grrry> <======== gary christiansen, privatewars
[Allan] jim, i think you had something to ask
dale_larson> walt: seemless. play pbem. go online play some more. go offline and do pbem. not a problem. the entire history of game on/off line all kept with game file.
mandelberg> no more move files?
Jim_Anderson> allan, nope, i’m good right now.
Walter_OHara> <— Makes suitable Ooooh and Ahhhh sound
dale_larson> not for real-time. pbem will be as it always was
Nate> Dale did you examine any of the winning CD Olympic GBXes… comments?
dale_larson> yes. Very nice. I especially liked… hold on…
dale_larson> can’t find it now but one said it didn’t use any scans but it was gorgeous
[Allan] anyone have a question, nothing is pending from anyone
dale_larson> talavera ,—
Jim_Anderson> Yes. very nice gamebox….wish I could do maps that well
Nate> <<<does nice…..CLUNKY….work
mandelberg> i lost the list of things dale is working on off the top of the window, what else was it? The audited dice, the real time play…?
dale_larson> I’d like to do better graphcal dice so you actually roll them onto the board.
mandelberg> Ooooh. Eye candy!
dale_larson> Actually this is supported today but not overtly.
Nate> with heat comin off of um
[Allan] knocking over my nice stacks of retreating units!
[Allan] nate you had a question before you scampered off
dale_larson> If you drag from a random marker tray with ctrl held CB will prompt for the number of markers to randomly create. The markers can be die images.
Nate> already answered Allan…
[Allan] clever, just add in the definition of dice type and drms and it is done
[Allan] no hands up from anybody?
dale_larson> yep… but cb needs a more obvious way to do this
dale_larson> does anyone use the easier move stepping (spacebar, auto step etc)?
mandelberg> i do
Jim_Anderson> didn’t know about it.
mandelberg> but i use F3, not the space bar. [Allan] um, neither did i
mandelberg> autostep, you mean f6?
Walter_Claytonb> explain please?
dale_larson> space bar is has some special features so you can blast through a playback and also stop and resume autoplayback
Nate> yep uses that in playback
Walter_Claytonb> didn’t know that….I click the arrows
[Allan] same here
dale_larson> that’s the hard way. I got tired of doing that
mandelberg> would be nice if reverse step were as swift as forward step
[Allan] and so you rewrote the code, nice d
ale_larson> guess cb needs a manual. 🙂
[Allan] it will need a new one soon enough
Nate> tip guide with key function secrets….. players do not know that you can “select” units out of a stack for movement… they disassemble the stacks and drag out the victims instead
dale_larson> reverse step is slow because I totally playback all steps up the the previous move behind the scences. I guess you need a faster computer.
mandelberg> hey now! I’ve got a 3.2 GHz machine!
dale_larson> I just upgraded to a dual core amd64. Sweet!
Jim_Anderson> Gary, you need to get rid of that 386 machine of yours.
Grrry> um… Grrry> I’m on a 1.8 ghz
Grrry> I might still have a 486 in the basement. maybe.
dale_larson> I’ll be dropping of at about 10:30 or so CDT… just a warning. I have to get up at 4:45 in the AM and I’m just not as young as I used to me.
Nate> Thanks in advance for coming Dale
[Allan] ok, last questions, anyone who hasn’t had a chance to ask yet, do so now
Grrry> but we do appreciate you being here.
dale_larson> I’m 51 … got you!
mandelberg> i’d like to just say thanks to dale for all his hard work. what a great service to our hobby.
Jim_Anderson> Thanks for stopping by Dale. we ended up with a max of 17 people at one time….very good attendance
[Allan] best i can remember in a long time
Skip_Franklin> Thanks for dropping in Dale
dale_larson> still here for questions.
[Allan] no one?
dale_larson> got 10-16 to go… unless you want me to leave!
Grrry> so you need us all to send another batch of donations, right?
Nate> as soon as you leave we’ll turn on each other like wolves
dale_larson> Donations are always appreciated but don’t feel obligated. They should be form the heart
Grrry> I have 3 mos of the pain pills I hope not to have to use
[Allan] dale, they always are, trust me
Jim_Anderson> Dale, any chance of you showing up at a Con?
Skip_Franklin> I’m trying to think of anything about CB I do not like but…..
[Allan] lago, are you here for the CB/Dale Larsen session?
Grrry> even just show up for a visit if you must, the hell with the con.
Iago> Nope…just saw there were a few people here for a change
dale_larson> I attend Gencon. I;ve been going for years. I was thinking of trying origins next year
Jim_Anderson> I have done some CB demos at the Cons Did a big one for Compass games this past weekend
Grrry> happy squirrel dance.
Skip_Franklin> Origins would work
[Allan] we are just wrapping up here on that anyway
Grrry> Origins is a great choice.
[Allan] jim, yeah, do you think i sold compass games on CB?
Grrry> as an officer in CABS, I’d be glad to help you out.
[Allan] dale, where is home for you?
dale_larson> man the text is really flying now. can’t read it all
Grrry> that is unless I resign.
Nate> playtesting via CB too
Iago> oh good, just have to be careful of the publisher I’ve found
Iago> That the Salerno game?
dale_larson> what bulge game are you refereing to?
Nate> Iron Tide…of course
[Allan] nate designed Iron Tide
Grrry> Well nate designed Iron Tide
Jim_Anderson> Allan, I got an email back from Ken. Might be doing some boxes for them
[Allan] that was my goal, jim
im_Anderson> Wait until you see my CB box for that Gary
Iago> speaking of PbeM in general, CB and VASSAL are why i’m still playing boardgames
Nate> Dale….told you the hot blooded CB guys would be here
dale_larson> i see that!
Grrry> there’s a pile of people who started back into wargaming I know because of CB
[Allan] lago, between PBEM aides and CSW, i think the hobby is tighter than ever
Jim_Anderson> we were holding back, knowing you were going to visit. Kids are restless now.
Nate> agrees with Gary
Jim_Anderson> That’s right Allan. thanks Dale
[Allan] definitely a g-dsend for the isolated gamer
[Allan] or the gamer on the road all the time
dale_larson> What is the typical topic for these chats?
Jim_Anderson> Or one on the road like me….
Jim_Anderson> I see I just got an EFS .gmv file in my email
Iago> Allan, absolutely – I have 5-6 PBeM/Virtual gamesgoing on at one time…plus have bought wto 24″ dell LCDs so i have workable screen area
Grrry> typical topic, whatever happens to catch the imagination.
Nate> topic? we rant and rave then calm down and talk games each week
Grrry> sometimes it even degrades into discussions about music and politics, religion, and utter crapola
Grrry> then again, we can talk aboutt Nate’s turtles.
[Allan] i have the entire log file up until about 20 lines ago already saved. walto will be editing it down. dale, do you want the raw unformatted text or the final product?
dale_larson> Well I’m be heading out. THANKS FOR THE INVITE!
Nate> Lago you playing IT with CB or on the table?
[Allan] before you dart off, let me extend a big thank you for dropping by and taking all these questions. cb is definitely a major plus to the hobby, and it’s all thanks to you and your devotion to it
Jim_Anderson> hear hear
Nate> yay Iago> ditto
dale_larson> I appreciate the thoughts adnd support. It’s what makes it fun. Thanks!