Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901 - Now an OPTION

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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby rick.leeds » 05 Aug 2011, 17:55

WokkaPater wrote:Why don't you just say "screw them, they're joining an active game so they'll of course be at a disadvantage" and go on with your lives. Just make sure they're joining an active game. No need to restart.

The restart is about not unbalancing the game at the very first set of orders, not about helping people out who join the game. It isn't about someone who has joined a game and surrendered before Spring 1901 orders are processed, though that would have the same affect; it's about players who join a game and NMR in Spring 1901. If that was a mistake it is tough on them; if it is that a player has joined a game and then decided to leave site or otherwise not play it, then that power's units wouldn't be become active for three order turns: s/he would be surrendered after Spring 1902 so any new player wouldn't enter until Fall 1902, when the power could well be all but gone from the map and one or two other players have achieved a great advantage. Of course, it could just be that the NMRing player is surrendered and the game NOT re-started, but it was felt in previous discussion that the best way forward would be to restart the game because an NMR in Spring 1901 could put some countries at an immediate disadvantage (and not just the power that NMRed).

krossevans wrote:I think it is bad because then the game can just keep starting again if one person can't fill their orders in

This is an issue, yes. But it's a balance: if one country NOT ordering in 1901 means that it's neighbour(s) get a great advantage over it, is it better to let that go on, with other powers who are not neighbours disadvantaged, or better to not let the game start until all powers enter 1901 orders? Would you rather play a game where all powers enter orders from the get-go, or where the game is unbalanced by one - or more - NOT entering orders? Isn't a delay in starting a game, if the balance is maintained, better than playing a game where one or more powers have an immediate advantage?


I guess these questions will be better answered after the system has a chance to run for a while.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby iamgraef » 05 Aug 2011, 21:47

I am brand new to the site this week. This is my first post, and I have some honest feedback in regard to the "Auto-Restart" for countries that NMR in the first turn. This appears to be a brand new thread according ot the post dates, so hopefully some of my suggestions would be considered - I apologize for the length beforehand.

While I've read through this thread, and I understand the reasoning behind a "majority" of players prefer a restart vs. a continuation with less than 7 active players, I have to disagree with several assumptions about this restart process. I am a professional UI designer, and I actually have my own private Diplomacy website, so I can empathize with the need to placate user requests. However, first and foremost, this implementation is incredibly frustrating for a new user. Again, I am speaking as a new player who was burned on this while attempting my first game on your site. Luckily, my second game started, so I am somewhat less frustrated, but I do believe this will continue to affect players old and new.

#1) This needs to be ANNOUNCED. My apologies if you have it posted somewhere that you may think is obvious, but I did not see it through the course of this week. My first suggestion would be a default Public Post in every new game; just so that players are aware of this possibility. The amount of communication and effort spent by all countries involved is down the drain when this happens; momentum has a big effect on negotiations. If people were at least aware of this possibility, the frustration would be mitigated as mere disappointment instead of a WTF?!? moment.

#2) If possible, this process should be OPTIONAL. If it's understood by all active players that there's a chance it could get restarted (from point #1 for example), and everyone still wants to continue anyway, they should be allowed this option. If the country is an NMR, in my case it was Austria-Hungary, that means that no one had communicated with them anyway, so proceeding with the game as-is should not be seen as an "unbalance". Which brings me to my next point:

#3) Countries next to KNOWN NMR's do not gain an "advantage". This might be the first inclination of a theoretical situation, but I can tell you in practice it is completely the opposite. I've been playing Diplomacy for years face-to-face, most of the time with less than 7 players. Since neighbors of these missing countries are seen to have an advantageous position, this automatically makes them more of a target. The "boon" of being next to missing countries are built into the negotiations, making it actually tougher for the neighbors to strike beneficial deals with active players. Anyway, the merits of playing with less than 7 is a topic for another thread, I'm just speaking from personal experience that it can be very enjoyable and offers no unbalance (if you must re-organize the points awarded for only having 6 active players, or turn these games into unranked, so be it).

#4) The inability for users to "unsubscribe" from a pending game, combined with the possibility of ongoing restarts, makes the process for actually getting a game to begin very annoying. If you do intend to keep the unannounced NMR restart process as-is, would you consider allowing players to "unsubscribe" from pending games? Or, potentially, raising the limit of 3 free games so that there's greater chances of starting a game?

My point basically comes down to usability. If you are concerned about attracting new players, especially with the goal to end up signing them on as premium accounts, I really suggest some of these minor changes. What you do not want to do is alienate potential players by seeing their excitement and efforts wasted - why would they bother trying again? If players are too wary about a potential restart and continuous re-confirmation of pending games, it becomes too much bother, and players (like myself) actually get less invested in the hobby and the overall quality of play is reduced. By doing auto-restarts, even in games where players wish to continue, you end up causing inconvenience for 6 people, when only 1 is to blame. If the players want to play, let them play. Thank you for your time.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby TheCraw » 06 Aug 2011, 01:03

iamgraef wrote:I am brand new to the site this week.

Welcome! Glad to have you on board, what size dagger do you take? :D

iamgraef wrote:#1) This needs to be ANNOUNCED. My apologies if you have it posted somewhere that you may think is obvious, but I did not see it through the course of this week.

Um... it's on the FRONT PAGE of the website. A link that says:
Last developer announcements: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

iamgraef wrote:#2) If possible, this process should be OPTIONAL.

Kind of odd, as how is anyone to know if someone's gonna NMR, and if they are, why would they play (or anyone want to play WITH them?) Choosing that to be an option for a game one is starting is sort of advertising the probablity that one of the players is gonna flake-out.

iamgraef wrote:#3) Countries next to KNOWN NMR's do not gain an "advantage".

If I'm Turkey, and Italy's headed South or West, and Austria NMR's, then I know Greece is a guarantee, and even Serbia might be mine. Russia walks into Rumania and Galicia... oh, I'd say that's quite an advantage for those two countries RIGHT off the bat...

iamgraef wrote:#4) The inability for users to "unsubscribe" from a pending game, combined with the possibility of ongoing restarts, makes the process for actually getting a game to begin very annoying.

Once a game defaults due to NMR's, you may in fact chose NOT to re-confirm, and then you are free of the game.

the bother of a game restarting is (I believe) just as annoying as a country sitting with no orders for three turns until the game removes him under the old rules.

And we'd LIKE more Premium Members, but to my understanding, this website is a pet project of Avalanche, and it's not a major source of income for him.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby iamgraef » 06 Aug 2011, 01:57

Thanks for the reply.
TheCraw wrote:Um... it's on the FRONT PAGE of the website. A link that says:
Last developer announcements: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Fair enough. As a new member to the game, I had no idea what an "NMR" was, so the article title on the front page meant nothing to me. That is an issue with my own ignorance, however. If most regular users do keep up with the front page articles, then this should suffice.

TheCraw wrote:Kind of odd, as how is anyone to know if someone's gonna NMR, and if they are, why would they play (or anyone want to play WITH them?) Choosing that to be an option for a game one is starting is sort of advertising the probablity that one of the players is gonna flake-out.

Let me expand on this suggestion more clearly. I did not mean to suggest this option would be set up before the game, as what you're saying is correct, no one would setup a game knowing people will be NMR. My suggestion is to allow this option in the unfortunate event that this happens. So, when 6 people are fully expecting orders to progress, they can be prompted whether or not they wish to continue on with the game anyway. If your conclusion is true that the majority of players don't want to continue; this won't be an issue as most games will in fact choose not to go with this option. However, for those that do want to keep going, why not allow it?

TheCraw wrote:If I'm Turkey, and Italy's headed South or West, and Austria NMR's, then I know Greece is a guarantee, and even Serbia might be mine. Russia walks into Rumania and Galicia... oh, I'd say that's quite an advantage for those two countries RIGHT off the bat...
.
I will continue to strongly disagree; I'd be happy to debate this in another thread as the positives and negatives of playing a game with less than 7 players isn't completely germane to this thread, it was just a point I wanted to make about assumptions. I would be completely surprised, in any game where one country was known to be an NMR, that any of those conditions above would ever occur (and I can even debate your conclusions about Greece, Galicia, etc. as I've seen it played out, though I can only recount my own experiences, perhaps this is not the prevailing outcome on this website). In my experience with <7 players, there is actually MORE conflict in the opening moves between active players trying to deny these "free" areas; the disadvantages diplomatically more than counter any perceived tactical advantage. Anyway, back to the point...

TheCraw wrote:Once a game defaults due to NMR's, you may in fact chose NOT to re-confirm, and then you are free of the game.

the bother of a game restarting is (I believe) just as annoying as a country sitting with no orders for three turns until the game removes him under the old rules.


I guess my overall point is that having the freedom to not re-confirm to the game is a surrender that all of the previous week's efforts in negotiating will be completely wasted, as you are no longer in the game. I feel obligated to continue subscribing, though if other players do not and are replaced, that negotiation is wasted as well. Wasting your efforts in one game and trying to subscribe to a brand new game, a new game which itself faces the same set of potential start problems, is not a good decision to be faced with as a user. I'd simply rather play in a less-than-ideal game, than not play in a continual re-start process.

Just my two cents. I don't mean to be harsh, rather honest. I am enjoying the site so far. Thank you for your time.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby rick.leeds » 06 Aug 2011, 15:03

iamgraef wrote:#1) This needs to be ANNOUNCED. My apologies if you have it posted somewhere that you may think is obvious, but I did not see it through the course of this week. My first suggestion would be a default Public Post in every new game; just so that players are aware of this possibility. The amount of communication and effort spent by all countries involved is down the drain when this happens; momentum has a big effect on negotiations. If people were at least aware of this possibility, the frustration would be mitigated as mere disappointment instead of a WTF?!? moment.

It is announced. Main page: "Latest Developer Announcements". It was announce late because the guy who it in place - super_dipsy - went on a much needed hiatus and passed the process to the other tech admin. Unfortunately no accompanying announcement was put up then, but it is there now... and has been from the date of the post.

iamgraef wrote:#2) If possible, this process should be OPTIONAL. If it's understood by all active players that there's a chance it could get restarted (from point #1 for example), and everyone still wants to continue anyway, they should be allowed this option. If the country is an NMR, in my case it was Austria-Hungary, that means that no one had communicated with them anyway, so proceeding with the game as-is should not be seen as an "unbalance". Which brings me to my next point:

Perhaps. However, the option could only be taken at the beginning of the game, as every other option, rather than changed part way through. So it would mean everyone joining the game would have to accept that a Spring 1901 NMR wouldn't be accepted.

iamgraef wrote:#3) Countries next to KNOWN NMR's do not gain an "advantage". This might be the first inclination of a theoretical situation, but I can tell you in practice it is completely the opposite. I've been playing Diplomacy for years face-to-face, most of the time with less than 7 players. Since neighbors of these missing countries are seen to have an advantageous position, this automatically makes them more of a target. The "boon" of being next to missing countries are built into the negotiations, making it actually tougher for the neighbors to strike beneficial deals with active players. Anyway, the merits of playing with less than 7 is a topic for another thread, I'm just speaking from personal experience that it can be very enjoyable and offers no unbalance (if you must re-organize the points awarded for only having 6 active players, or turn these games into unranked, so be it).

I'd suggest that all depends upon the players in the game. But if, say, you are Russia and Turkey, and you've received nothing from Austria, isn't it possible that Russia and Turkey could well agree to split at least the Balkans between them? That brings both the likelihood of two centres each from the Balkans. Of course, they may simply see it as a chance to get one over on the other, but an NMRing Austria through to Fall 1902 is not going to help other powers. Yes there is the possibility of other powers aligning against these two. But, if we're in the region of theory: what advantage does France have in allowing England and Germany to work together against Russia in the north whilst he leaves them alone? Would Italy be happy to allow French naval units to creep through the Med to help against Turkey? And we're also talking about the early game, not the mid-game. Would the sight of a CD Austria in Spring 1901 be enough to band the other 4 powers against the Juggernaut so early? The thing with the Jug is that people scream it out loud at the first indication - and often when there is NO real indication too - and France loves it in the early game. She has no way to immediately oppose it, unless she forms a Western Triple that is going to cripple her, especially if she agrees to leave Italy alone too.

iamgraef wrote:#4) The inability for users to "unsubscribe" from a pending game, combined with the possibility of ongoing restarts, makes the process for actually getting a game to begin very annoying. If you do intend to keep the unannounced NMR restart process as-is, would you consider allowing players to "unsubscribe" from pending games? Or, potentially, raising the limit of 3 free games so that there's greater chances of starting a game?

Won't be raising the three game limit for non-Premiums any time soon, I expect. But you can do something to not participate in a game: when the game goes to re-start, as I understand it, it requires a replacement to join. Then the game goes into Confirmation stage again. NOT confirming means not playing the delayed game. Which only delays the game further, but no more than being able to unconfirm or drop out from a delayed start would. Still frustrating for those who stay in the game. And it is also a balance between the frustration of having a game re-start and the frustration of, once in a game, having one, or more, powers NOT actually turning up. Interesting that, with the exception of new site members, there was a loud cry for something to be done about Spring 1901 NMRs which the site responded to, and now there is a cry of what have you done? ;)

I think what it comes down to is whether, over a given time, this works. It will depend upon how many games are actually affected by this; how many games DO have Spring 1901 NMRs, as well as what the reaction of players is over a longer period. There's nothing to say it wouldn't be changed and put back to the way it was, or even adapted. There have been a number of changes and alterations to the site over the last few months, ALL in response to member concerns. NONE of them have had universal approval, which you wouldn't expect anyway, but all have come about because the members involved in the discussions have mostly agreed.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby iamgraef » 07 Aug 2011, 01:23

Well, thanks again for taking the time to reply to my lengthy post. Today, I am now able to see clearly the flip side of this coin. As a new member with a three game limit, I have attempted to join 6 games in total this week. Only two of which have successfully started, one of which NMR re-started (which was the impetus for my original reply above) and has yet to start again, and now my only active game today sees one of the countries that was active in Sping NMR in Fall 1901. So, this game is down the tubes as well (not to mention the discovery of two of the countries being brother & sister working together.... yikes). My experiences have all drawn from FtF games and dedicated online games, where you typically don't have this much flakiness and drop-outs, and active players can have time to adjust accordingly in the case that one of the players needs to leave. These unexpected NMR countries are a whole different animal, and I can clearly see the need to try to do something about it, which you have done.

I'm still hopeful for this site, but it has been a very rough first experience. What would you recommend a new user doing in order to get into a competitive game with serious players? I'm signing up for a premium account as I write this with the hopes of finding better games.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby TheCraw » 07 Aug 2011, 04:29

iamgraef wrote:I'm still hopeful for this site, but it has been a very rough first experience. What would you recommend a new user doing in order to get into a competitive game with serious players? I'm signing up for a premium account as I write this with the hopes of finding better games.

A common problem, actually, with many no0bs quitting and such. The standard option is to look for advertised games in the Games Sub-Forum. Those are usually stand a better chance of attracting serious players, and you could always start one yourself and advertise it too.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby super_dipsy » 07 Aug 2011, 07:49

I popped into the site again from my break and noticed some good points raised in this thread about the new NMR protect capability - in particular, the one on new players coming to the site. I remember my first game, and I was just keen to get going and didn't care if anyone NMRed. More experienced players DO care about 1st turn NMRs in particular - it is really annoying.

I think there is more discussion to be had, and improvements to be made, but until I come back properly I wont be able to respond properly to them. However, I definitely do not want to risk alienating new players who get fed up when the first game they join just goes back to the beginning after the excitement of first round negotiations. Here is what I am planning to do (and I will make an announcement when I actually do it, which will be today (Sunday). I have knocked up some code to make the 1st turn NMR protect an OPTION, available on game create. I think this is the ideal answer - experienced players can create/join games with NMR protect on while newbies can create and/or join games without. We can still gather experience and suggestions to improve the feature through people who do use it, but it will not be a forced choice. I hope this makes sense to everyone. But to be clear - once I put the new code up, any games created previously that are currently in their first turn will NOT be NMR protected any more - instead, ONLY games created with NMR Protect specified in the game creation options will have the protection. All other games will revert to normal.

By the way, while I am away you might want to think on how the capability should be extended if at all. My idea was that this was the first step in limiting the impact of NMRs. While it seems a good idea (for some!) on the first turn to just restart, once the mechanism is in place we have the option of doing things with NMRs for all moves. Suggestions I have heard in the past include giving a 'grace period' if someone has not submitted orders, emailing people some period of time before the phase completion is due, allowing people 3 strikes (extending the phase 3 times but if they carry on missing then booting them), allocating 'default' orders, etc

So to confirm - I will put up a separate announcement when the new NMR option is in place, which should be within the next 12 hours.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901

Postby iamgraef » 07 Aug 2011, 10:52

super_dipsy wrote:While it seems a good idea (for some!) on the first turn to just restart, once the mechanism is in place we have the option of doing things with NMRs for all moves. Suggestions I have heard in the past include giving a 'grace period' if someone has not submitted orders, emailing people some period of time before the phase completion is due, allowing people 3 strikes (extending the phase 3 times but if they carry on missing then booting them), allocating 'default' orders, etc


My suggestion, coming off a freshly tainted NMR game in Fall 01, would be to not actually process the orders, until a replacement player is found. It seems that allowing non-orders to actually be counted for that season, the damage has already been irrevocably done to that country's chances, and replacement players are already near dead.

Would it be possible to detect an NMR and pause the orders from processing? Then, a Public Press can announce something like "France did not enter orders - user has surrendered/been booted, waiting for replacement player to join" The replacement player who joins would then be able to enter in legit moves for this season, and the game could continue without too much harm done. I'd think most players wouldn't mind a small delay in order results (to find a replacement) if it meant that one country's NMR wouldn't taint the game nearly as badly.
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Re: Protecting games from NMRs in Spring 1901 - Now an OPTIO

Postby diplomat42 » 07 Aug 2011, 15:04

iamgraef wrote:My suggestion, coming off a freshly tainted NMR game in Fall 01, would be to not actually process the orders, until a replacement player is found. It seems that allowing non-orders to actually be counted for that season, the damage has already been irrevocably done to that country's chances, and replacement players are already near dead.

Would it be possible to detect an NMR and pause the orders from processing? Then, a Public Press can announce something like "France did not enter orders - user has surrendered/been booted, waiting for replacement player to join" The replacement player who joins would then be able to enter in legit moves for this season, and the game could continue without too much harm done. I'd think most players wouldn't mind a small delay in order results (to find a replacement) if it meant that one country's NMR wouldn't taint the game nearly as badly.


Your suggestion is good in theory. However, when the game keeps getting bogged down by having to wait for a replacement (that may never come) more players lose interest and...NMR.

What if a one-center player NMR's? Do we wait endlessly for someone to take the position?
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