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 Post subject: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:59 pm 
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Location: Canberra, Australia
I've been thinking about this for a little while - having computer support for R2E. I play mostly solo games and want to play larger scale battles and think a computer could help with record keeping, ORBATS, combat resolution and opponent randomness.

I saw this recently http://15mm-madness.blogspot.com.au/201 ... -code.html for Empire V and wondered if anyone had attempted this with R2E?

It doesn't look hard to computerise the tables and bits on the quick reference sheet, and add an ORBAT manager.

It could be done on either a webserver (which would need internet access during away games) or better still an iPad. I have downloaded the software to develop iPad software and have started playing with it.

Having this with a PDF version of the rules would be a bonus. Obviously Barry and Clarence would have to approve as it is their intellectual property and very hard work. I know it would have a very limited market, but might be useful to those who like the rules. I can't see it having any commercial viability, rather a labour of love.

I am time poor with two jobs, family and 10,000 10mm figures to get painted, but would like to kick it along when I get a chance. But if someone is already developing this would be happy to help in any way I could.

Thoughts if anyone was interested in the project? General thoughts, reactions, reality checks about it?

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:10 am 
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Well Karim, it is not territory I am very familiar with on the technical side.
Clarence and I would be open to any discussions which allow the rules to be used and spread throughout the wargaming community as long as IP was protected.
I would refer you to BP, an active member of this forum and R2E player who has constructed a couple of programme models for randomized casualty calculation for R2E. He may be interested as he is a programmer. If you two hookup and discuss, Clarence and I would be interested to hear about any proposal you might create. Hope this provides encouragement enough.

cheers

B

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:18 am 
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Thanks Barry,

I was initially seeing if anything had been done already.

I was a programmer in a previous life, but I would have to relearn lots of things.

The beauty of rules like R2E is that they lend themselves well to be automated. The thinking is already done in the tables. It would not be a substitute for the rules, but an enhancement - making things go smoother. you still need to buy the rules to know what is going on, this just makes it easier to run large games or play solo.

I thought initially something that kept track of the units and their status would be good. Then bit by bit things could be added - Leaders and abilities, MP and Order trackers, Resolve checkers, fire table results etc.

The iPad format seems ideal for this kind of thing, nice screen, touch controls easy to have at a gaming table, has a built in camera, could even play background music :D

Some publishers have released their rules as PDF's that allow bookmarking and easy finding of bits. Which would be a bonus.

I would imagine something like this would also be pretty neat at demo games to keep things moving along.

It wouldn't be a commercial project - mainly because I think there would only every be a hundred or so users. I'm not sure how many rules have been sold, but only a small proportion of them would have an iPad or similar. There are some small costs in developing applications, which I probably would just pay for, I a not sure what is involved yet. And the time would be donated, a good way for me to learn how to write an application.

Maybe I talk in more detail offline with you and Clarence about what you would be happy to let happen or not, before I invest too much time in the project. There is certainly no interest from me in doing it without your approval.

I think it would be a good project to get this community interested in, there collective wisdom and experience could make something very useful for all of us.

Like I said earlier, I am normally horrendously busy, but I could potter along with this in the elusive spare time.

I'll see if I can see contact BP and see what he has already done.

Thanks for the encouragement


Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:08 pm 
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Location: Bellshill, Lanarkshire
A pdf copy of the rules wold be amazing, especially for those like myself who are grafted to our ipads but seem to forget where we leave boks nowadays.

IanB

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 5:18 pm 
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Hi Karim,

I created a charge resolution programme to check the outcomes. It was written in a language called SAS, which is a very expensive tool used by large companies use for a variety of uses these days, but has its roots in statistical modelling.

I have made a start on porting it over to excel using VBA, but thats something I'm having to re-learn and it has stalled in the last few weeks.

It's main purpose was to simulate the point from where a charge is initiated, does it actually occur, if so what is the defenders reaction, followed by any defensive fire, reaction to charge home, followed by fight or flight and then any melee resolution.

This could be repeated a given number of times, so you could see the various outcomes as a percentage of the overall number of tries.

It took as inputs

Attacking unit size (number of models)
Attacking unit quality - G,VE,V,DE,D,RE,R
Attacking unit formation - Line, Column of Attack
Defending unit size (number of models)
Defending unit quality - see above
Defending unit formation - see above
Defending unit nationality - only important when a British drilled unit in line formation
Number of iterations - anything from 1 to how long you were prepared to wait ;) I usually used 400.

Assumptions used were each unit was in command and supported by brigade units and the attacking unit had already advanced this turn - makes a difference if in Column of Attack.

Once the excel version is finished I'll fire a copy off. Not sure what use it would be given what you plan i.e. almost an App running on a tablet.

Like you say, the tables etc are very linear, so its a lot of if-then-else logic loops with pre determined escape points.

Any questions, fire away.

Cheers

Bill.


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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 11:23 pm 
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Thanks Bill,

At this stage I am looking more at starting with a troop management system, then look at resolving combat etc. I figure if I can get the management system right, then you just select the units involved in the fight and things get worked out. The other way around you would have to enter in all the variables each time, something often faster with the QRS.

I'd be interested in seeing what you come up with, there is always something to learn from seeing other people's work.

I am sketching out the database at the moment to see how easy it would be.

Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:54 am 
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Sounds interesting, guys. I am not opposed to looking into the possibilities of adding digital elements to support the game. We are looking at other avenues to take more advantage of the digital age as well.

On the subject of PDFs - Again, this is possible we might release the rules in a digital format. The work is already finished and we could start offering them tomorrow (Barry and I have PDF versions on our computers with bookmarked chapters). Online piracy seems impossible to stop, though many books that were never digital are available as scans so simply not offering a PDF won't stop a determined pirate!

Let's hear from forum members. If you have a hard copy of BLB or R2E, would you buy a PDF? If you have a hard copy book, would you be more likely to also buy a PDF if it had bonus content (extra scenarios for example)? Would you be more likely to buy a PDF instead of a hard copy book in the future if we thought about releasing both versions at the same time?

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:48 am 
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I'd buy a PDF first for new releases, then possibly a hard cover after it. Postage is a factor in purchasing for me living in Australia (cost and time to send it). PDF's offers a cheaper and quicker option.

I know seeing online samples before hand made the difference for me buying the printed rules, as no one near me stocks it.

I have R2E and would buy a PDF version if it was available whether it had bonus content or not.

While piracy is a risk to potential earnings, the niche nature of a rules system like this means that there is a very small market. I would imagine most people would appreciate the work that goes in to it and pay for it. Different if there were a bunch of younger people with no money!

Maybe you could go the other way with the PDF being the basic rules system and the printed rules has all the bonus stuff. Then the PDF could be much cheaper (or free) to get people into it. As they get hooked they buy the additional bits - FREMIUM model

Just my thoughts

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 7:19 am 
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I would love a PDF version. While I am a books man (the walls of my games room can attest to that) I sometimes think about rules when I am on the road and while I do not have them along, I always have my iPad along.

Plus maybe there would be a way to keep an updated PDF for those who bought the rules (be it in print or as PDF) which includes the errata. Right now I have post-its on the relevant pages which looks a bit strange at times.

Cheers,

Burkhard

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 8:56 am 
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Location: Bellshill, Lanarkshire
I would love a pdf version of BLB and R2E, as i said i frequently misplace rules due to my health issues but my ipad is always around my person so a version i could carry around digitally would be an amazing bonus for me.

IanB

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A moth eaten rag on a worm eaten pole
It does not look likely to stir a man's soul
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth eaten rag
When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.

E Hamley


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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 1:53 pm 
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Clarence and I have been discussing this and are happy to let you chaps loose with your programming/code writing type black arts. Please keep us in the loop and as things begin to come together into something that might be commerically usable we can discuss what to do.

Re; PDF we are debating the possibilities of wider pdf application. I know from gaming/hobby commerical sources that rules issued in pdf only without hard copy availability at any time in the life cycle are general not treated as seriously as those committed to print. I have this on pretty good authority from several of the larger traders.

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:51 pm 
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To be honest... I would always prefer to have both. I know some companies put CDs with PDF in the back of the rules, but I think those days are past. Other companies give buyers a code that allows them to download them from the website. I think that is better, especially if these are copyrighted (=you can only use them on two or three machines).

Cheers,

Burkhard

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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:33 am 
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Location: Bellshill, Lanarkshire
Of course i like both versions, but that way the printed book can stay on my book case and not leave the house minimising risk of loss or being picked up and carried off by someone else as has happened previously with rules at events.

A download code for 2 machines would be a good way to prevent piracy, or even 1 machine as i doubt there is a need for 2 electronic copies if you have the printed rules as well.

IanB

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A moth eaten rag on a worm eaten pole
It does not look likely to stir a man's soul
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth eaten rag
When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.

E Hamley


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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 7:50 pm 
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Hi All,

Sorry the late reply in this interesting discussion .. but better late than never :)

Im the guy who is doing the computer moderated project for modelling the Empire rules, and Karim got me interested in this project.

I have been working on this almost full time now for around a month, and have quite a bit of progress to show for it. Everytime I dive back into the rules to tackle the next section though, its just a reminder of how much of the iceberg remains below the waterline :)

Been running playtests continuously, and its actually starting to come together now, which is great !

I will stick to the current project through to completion before getting into R2E, but from what I have read, its a system that would translate well to computer moderation. When the time is right, Ill buy a printed set of R2E and get stuck into it.

The main points of difference between what I am doing, and how .. say C&G II handles the same concept is :

- Its multi-user, with each player logging in to a back end server via a web browser. So a game is BYO laptop / ipad.

- The system explains the rules and modifiers as it goes, so it acts as a learning tool for the ruleset.

- The system generates delayed messages to the players from the little lead figures on the table. They talk to you as the game progresses.

- The system uses unit IDs the same way that C&G II does ... but I am looking at using inexpensive RFID tags on the battalion bases to make the troops scan-able.

- The system handles photo uploads during the game, and can (almost) handle a webcam feed at the moment. The purpose of this is 2 fold :
1) To provide everything needed to generate a detailed AAR of the battle, complete with sequenced photos and captions to match the engagements. With a couple of clicks, the system should be able to generate a complete AAR and post it to your blogger account to share with the world.
2) To allow players to join in a tabletop game from a remote location. This was an accidental side-effect, but something that I think should have massive appeal.

- The system is designed to run large campaigns - so you have massive Orbats for several sides, and each tabletop clash is a subset of commands from the larger forces. Battle damage is of course tracked for the unit across multiple tabletop engagements.

- Each side can have several complex levels of sub-commands, with multiple players on a team managing portions of the forces on the tabletop.

- Finally, the system is designed to allow user defined plugins for different 'code engines' to handle aspects like firepower, morale, etc on a per game basis. I intend to ship the finished product with Empire / Napoleonic era engines, and a couple of optional extension engines to handle Franco Prussian war, and later 19th C battles. (at least).

- It is designed to be fully 'interwebz aware' ... which means that the software will be capable to listing fresh new OrBat files, code extensions, etc that are hosted from a website and allow the user to grab them, install them and use them. Likewise, people can publish their custom OrBats, code hacks and AARs from the system as well.

Most important difference to all of the existing CM systems available is that this software is open source, so all the code is available for free download, and no legal restrictions on changing it.

If there is a commercial opportunity with the software, it is in having a well setup hosting service to host games for the general public across the internet. Thats a long term goal, but since the code itself is free to grab, anyone can offer hosting services if they want to put the work in to building a game hosting service. (its not as hard as it sounds, but its still work)

Getting there ! Current state of the software is pleasantly good .. however there are some rough edges, and setting up a fresh install remains quite painful. Will address these issues as we go, but the current focus is on completing a thoroughly correct base first .. then adding the sugar coating later.

Thanks for all the interest so far, its been great to hear ! Very pleased to hear the principals of R2E eager to allow their rules to get a similar treatment.

Cheers

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Blog: http://15mm-madness.blogspot.com


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 Post subject: Re: Computer moderated rules for R2E?
PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 11:32 am 
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Hey Steve,

Great you are interested in it. I did not want to "volunteer" you for it since you were immersed in the Empire thing, but really glad you are interested. I think it would be better than what I could do. I was seeing if anything had been done and how it might look on an ipad.

I have had an initial look at your system and am very impressed.

I have tried to install it on a local Mac server I have but haven't got there yet (still need to sort a few issues out).

WIll be keen to help, debug, offer ideas have a much around with, especially on the R2E option. Mainly because I don't have an Empire V set (only Empire III from my misspent youth).

Cheers

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http://10mmnapoleonics.blogspot.com/


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