GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

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GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 15 Aug 2016, 20:30

Introduction
When I GM a Diplomacy game, which I typically do via Email, I tend to end up with a large collection of files: map images, orders documents, press, etc. They all end up living inside a cloud-based filesystem (Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.), and it can be a bit of a task to keep them organized.

Moreover, if you like to make "action shots" of orders, rather than only picturing the result, like my example here, you can end up with at least 10 different images per game-year.

Alphabetization Problems
The default way for most files to be organized is by filename, but that doesn't always play nicely with turns that are normally labeled Spring, Fall, and Winter. Also, numbers in filenames are alphabetized on a digit-by-digit basis rather than looking at the whole number.
Example:
  • 1
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 8
  • 9
This particular problem is easy to fix just by making sure all your numbers have the same amount of digits, prepending the right number of zeroes to it.
Corrected:
  • 01
  • 03
  • 04
  • 05
  • 06
  • 08
  • 09
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12

Naming Files via Month-Based Numbering
It's taken some time, but I've cobbled together a naming & numbering system that is compatible with standard computer alphabetization that also keeps with the overall theme of how Diplomacy turns are organized. It should work for any games dated AD/CE. I name all my important game files using the following format.

Filename Format:
YYYY.MM <optional description>.ext

Examples:
  • 1901.01.png
  • 1901.03 Orders.txt
  • 1905.08 Player Press.txt
  • 1912.12 Builds.txt
  • 1913.08.png
Components:

ext is the file extension.
<optional description> can be left empty or replaced with text that reminds you what the file contains.

YYYY refers to the game-year of the file. For most games, four digits will be appropriate for this number.

MM is the game-month of the file. This is the slightly less obvious part of the system, since Months aren't actually a concept in Diplomacy. What we have instead are seasons: Spring & Fall at the least, optionally Winter, and Summer for some game.

Month numbers don't line up perfectly with the seasons, since seasons actually start partway through a given month. However, here's how I do my numbering:

Code: Select all
Month   Title               Description
======  =================== ========================================================
01 Jan  New Year            State of map between Winter and Spring
02 Feb  (skip)   
03 Mar  Spring Orders       Action shot of all Spring Orders
04 Apr  Spring Resolution   State of map after Spring Orders, but before Retreats
05 May  Spring Retreats     Action shot of all Spring Retreats
06 Jun  Spring's End        State of map between Spring and Fall (aka Summer)
07 Jul  (skip)
08 Aug  Autumn Orders       Action shot of all Fall Orders
09 Sep  Autumn Resolution   State of map after Fall Orders, but before Retreats
10 Oct  Autumn Retreats     Action shot of all Fall Retreats
11 Nov  Autumn's End        State of map between Fall and Winter
12 Dec  Winter Adjustments  Action shot of all Builds & Destroys (aka Winter Builds)


I use the terms Autumn & Fall interchangeably; that's just a preference on my part (since Autumn, Spring, and Winter all have the same word length).

*You may note that Autumn Orders occur in August, which is technically before the actual start of Fall. This was unavoidable.

Final Words
If you're slightly OCD like me, keeping all those files in order can be a pain. I'm not sure how useful this will be to other GM's and players, but this system has been a straightforward means for me to keep consistent chronological labeling across all my PBEM and PBF games. There are probably simpler ways to do this, but I like keeping the thematic connection between the naming convention and the chronology of the game.
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Re: GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 15 Aug 2016, 20:39

Additional Notes on Retreats

These instructions apply to turns that might not require a full retreat phase.

If, after you adjudicate an Orders phase, there are no dislodged units at all:
  • For Spring, skip directly from 03 to 06.
  • For Fall, skip directly from 08 to 11.

If there are dislodged units, but they are all auto-disbands (with no possible retreat locations):
  • For Spring, skip month 04, showing the disbands in 05 (and a clean map in 06).
  • For Fall, skip month 09, showing the disbands in 10 (and a clean map in 11).
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Re: GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 16 Aug 2016, 17:32

Addendum: Dating for BC / BCE

If your game uses a year in BC / BCE, alphabetization of files won't play nicely with this year & month number system. The months in BC/BCE dating still increment as time passes while the years decrement.

I suggest the following change:
XX_YYYY.MM <optional description>.ext

Where XX is a two-digit representation of the game year, but as a positive number.
If your game starts in 1400 BC, for instance, here are a few examples of how the filenames might look.
  • 01_1400.01 New Year.png
  • 02_1399.03 Spring Orders.png
  • 02_1399.12 Winter Builds.png
  • 10_1391.08 Autumn Orders.png
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Re: GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

Postby EpicDim » 16 Aug 2016, 19:43

I simply use the a one up counter for phase. The number is increased for whatever the next phase is. I have a .txt, .pdn, .gif file for each name.

01 1901 Spring
02 1901 Fall
03 1901 Adjustments
04 1902 Spring
05 1902 Spring Retreats
Gauls (Ad Arma) 3-way, Russia (Othello) 4-way, Austria (Crowded Othello) Solo, England (Devious GM 2) Solo, Egypt (Time Travel) 3-way, (Exploration: Great Expeditions) Solo
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Re: GM Tip for Organizing Files: Month-Based Numbering

Postby NoPunIn10Did » 17 Aug 2016, 20:49

EpicDim wrote:I simply use the a one up counter for phase. The number is increased for whatever the next phase is. I have a .txt, .pdn, .gif file for each name.

01 1901 Spring
02 1901 Fall
03 1901 Adjustments
04 1902 Spring
05 1902 Spring Retreats


That's a good system too, and it's a simpler one. I just wanted to come up with a numbering/naming system that could be more integrated into the themes of Diplomacy, and it seemed like doing months-of-the-year was the right way to go. It allows me to more fluidly present a timeline of events that take place within a game-year.

It's also different depending on how and whether you depict the orders themselves, and in how much detail. Is "Spring" a set of orders, or is it the result of those orders? Or is it the state of the game prior to those orders?
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