Diplomacy Games podcast: Episode 14 shownotes – When the boss bans Dip, new Lab, interview with Flame & Periscope

The bar at the Embassy Hotel, BrisbaneVenue: Embassy Hotel, Brisbane

Drinks of choice:

  • Kaner – Drought Relief lager by Newstead Brewery from Queensland, Australia
  • Amby – Cake shiraz from McLaren Vale, South Australia

The guys live stream with Periscope and hit many Diplomacy topics: when your employer blocks Dip, the new Lab & variants being tested and interview with Flame. Plus we talk Dip etiquette on readying up orders, Victory Points farming in Bourse and how they’re going in their games.

Around the grounds

  • Amby describes for new listeners/viewers on Periscope what the podcast is about (1 min)
  • Both of the guys say they’re in way too many games. Amby says his problem is he’s often having to go to 4 different Diplomacy platforms (2 mins 10 secs)
  • Amby describes briefly Cisco Spark, one of these Dip platforms that we will highlight in a future episode (2 mins 30 secs)
  • Kaner asks Amby how he’s going in the Online Diplomacy Championship over at PlayDip (3 mins)
  • Amby also goes to on to briefly discuss the group messaging system at PlayDip and his initial thoughts on it, before talking php and their WebDip games (4 mins)
  • The guys stuff around with the live Periscope feed (6 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner talks about how he’s been going in his Sengoku tournament games (7 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby digresses onto the Known World tournament, before briefly touching on his First Crusade game, with that variant being highlighted in more detail in a future episode (8 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby tries setting Periscope viewers expectations straight about the podcast being about the game Diplomacy, rather than real life international foreign affairs (9 mins 30 secs)
  • The guys talk about how a number of players in games they’re in are criticising other players for taking too long to ready their orders (14 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby explains why he’s occasionally been guilty of this of late (16 mins 45 secs)

Diplomacy Dilemmas

  • Kaner raises a Diplomacy Dilemmas question he received: “Is there any time in a game where you can legitimately NMR in a game?”  (18 mins 50 secs)
  • Amby gives his take, indicating he might have done this once in the past (20 mins)
  • Kaner describes how he’s done this once before too (22 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby discusses how a player contacted him about Victory Points farming in the Bourse Known World 901 game, trying to get Amby to see the light (25 mins 15 secs)
  • Kaner gives his independent non-player perspective on this issue (28 mins)
  • Amby flags how he’s looking forward to when the game finishes up to have a wide ranging end-of-game interview in the podcast from other key players (29 mins 30 secs)

What the Doctor Recommended

  • Amby discusses how he received a PM from Murcanic who made it into the vDip top 100, and wanted to be included in an updated pronunciation effort from the guys (30 mins)
  • Kaner and Amby then go on to start a What the Dr Recommended attempt at pronouncing the names of the top 20 players at webDip (31 mins 10 secs)

When the boss bans Dip

  • The guys discuss how Amby’s employer blocks pretty much all Dip sites, while Kaner’s gives him access, but blocks Diplomail, possibly because its a Russian site (34 mins)
  • Amby gives Kaner some bullshit excuses on how to convince your employer to lift their block on Dip sites. Kaner adds to the possible arguments depending on your line of work (35 mins)
  • The guys then go onto explain how you can try getting around this by not using the boss’ network (eg using an iPad, phone etc) (37 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby explains how the only Dip site he can reach at work is Cisco Spark’s Diplomacy area. Amby goes on to talk briefly about Cisco Spark and North American face-to-face champ Chris Martin. We’ll cover this in a future podcast when Amby has more time to familiarise himself with how it works  (40 mins 20 secs)

The new Lab

  • The guys discuss the new Lab and its 4 variants being currently play tested: Napoleonic, War of the Austrian Succession, Mongolian Empire and Lepanto x6 (42 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner is playing in all 4 games, Amby just in Napoleonic. As a result Amby asks Kaner to explain his thoughts and experience first up on Lepanto x6. It follows a lot of the same principles and gameplay as Lepanto which is a 1 vs 1 game, but turns it on its head (44 mins 15 secs)
  • Kaner talks about how Flame (Admin at Diplomail and the new Lab) has received some of the files for the new Lab (45 mins 15 secs)
  • As Guroz created the game but has since dropped off the scene, it may be a little harder for this game to make it live. So far it is the only variant that failed technical play testing by crashing – as a result we have no link for you (46 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby starts describing how Lepanto x6 is played out on a hexagonal board set in space. Kaner gives the details for how armies, space ships, planets (SC’s), warp points and space stations work in the game (46 mins 45 secs)
  • Kaner explains in light of all these little twists the board is a bit visually overwhelming for his liking and gives it a thumbs down. Amby explains he likes the space based concept but maybe not this map (50 mins)
  • The guys move onto the next game Kaner is playing in the Lab, the War of the Austrian Succession. Kaner likes this one, he played as Prussia and felt he was thrown straight into the diplomatic arena of negotiation straight away while still having opportunities to expand. Amby explains how he likes the visual nature and historical accuracy of the variant (51 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby asks Kaner what the dark black lines on the map are, but doesn’t get a very convincing answer from Kaner. The guys also discuss some of the border connections on the board shown with red lines. Overall they both give this two thumbs up (53 mins 45 secs)
  • Finally the guys turn to the new Napoleonic variant in the Lab, discussing the test game they’re both in. They both really love how the map looks and works, even down to the way territory names are displayed on the map. What makes this variant particularly challenging is the absence of neutrals. For this reason Kaner doesn’t like this aspect of the map, making diplomatic negotiations even more important. Amby doesn’t mind this but acknowledges it makes the game a lot harder (56 mins 45 secs)
  • They discuss how they’re going in this particular game, with Kaner as Italy and Amby as the Ottomans. As its a test game, the usual confidentiality and speaking about a game they’re both in isn’t as critical as normal. Amby goes on to discuss how he likes the little postcard sized territories. Players on the board have different number of units with most on 3, some 4 and France on 5 SCs  (1 hour 00 mins 30 secs)
  • Beer labels on the way to the gents at the Embassy HotelAfter Amby stuffs around with the pause button as they get drinks, Kaner explains the decor in the hallway to the gents toilets. In wrapping up the Lab games, Kaner explains he wants to discuss the Mongolian Empire variant a little later in a future episode, so we’ll wait ’til then  (1 hour 05 mins 30 secs)

Interview with Flame, creator of the new Lab and admin at Diplomail

  • Amby gives a quick back story on how Diplomacy labs work in creating php games. He explains vDip while having a Lab, its become inactive with Oli busy with other priorities (1 hour 07 mins 15 secs)
  • As the php web Diplomacy code is open source, it can be picked up and installed anywhere. Kaner explains why some Dip sites have been reluctant to install extra variants because of the risk of code incompatibility and crashing. Basically you need a good php coder to manage the risk of this. The Diplomail community was created using this open source, primarily for the Russian community. However, Flame has made the Lab more open to English speaking players (1 hour 09 mins 15 secs)
  • Due to the fact that English isn’t Flame’s first language, he preferred to do a text based interview which we were cool with. Kaner is going to ask the questions, and Amby answers on behalf of Flame (1 hour 11 mins 45 secs)
  • We start exploring why Flame created the Lab, what level of technical skills are needed to add variants to the Lab and whether there’s a guide on what to do to create variants (1 hour 12 mins 30 secs)
  • Next we look at Flame’s role at Diplomail and his role in personally creating the variants Classic Cataclysm – the standard map but units can move seamlessly between land and sea territories regardless of how they start. Flame says the next variant he’d like to see is the Western 901 variant. The Known World 901 variant was originally envisioned by David Cohen as two maps, a western and eastern version but it was subsequently sewn together. Flame would like just the western iteration to come to life on the site  (1 hour 15 mins)
  • We ask Flame about in his opinion what makes a great variant. He says he likes good balance and based on history, for this reason he really likes the Napoleonic variant (1 hour 19 mins)
  • Amby asks about the flexibility of the Lab and its game engine eg he’d like to change the way retreating clippers operate in Pirates, as their current behavior is generally hated by anyone playing the variant. Flame goes onto explain what new game functionality will be available from the Lab (1 hour 20 mins 45 secs)
  • Amby goes on to say that if there’s a chance the double space retreat movement of clippers can be reduced to one, he’d like to check with the Dip community if there are any other fixes so they can all be done at once in the Lab. Amby goes onto say some players bitch about how privateers are tied to their host nation eg Captain Henry Morgan (one player) and England (another players) cannot attack each other. Amby goes on to explain that he doesn’t want to change that as the coding would be too difficult to swap privateers into pirates, and potentially pirate to privateers (1 hour 24 mins 15 secs)
  • We explore with Flame whether he can personally help if a variant creator doesn’t have strong php technical skills (1 hour 27 mins 30 secs)
  • Next we tackle the question of plans for once games are successfully play tested in the Lab and then moved to Diplomail, what chances are there that the variant will also be moved to vDip (1 hour 28 mins 30 secs)
  • We ask about Diplomail and its community and culture compared to other Dip sites, and support for Diplomail (1 hour 32 mins)
  • We discover that Flame isn’t actually Russian, how he got into Dip and shares some of his political views about Putin. Flame goes on to discuss the breakdown of Russian players at Diplomail compared to players from other parts of the ex-Soviet Union (1 hour 35 mins 15 secs)
  • Amby goes off on a tangent with a culturally insensitive joke (1 hour 38 mins 45 secs)
  • Flame explains in Classic what countries he likes and dislikes playing, then he discusses what variants are his favorite and what he thinks about getting more people playing Diplomacy (1 hour 41 mins 30 secs)
  • Lastly we ask Flame about the quality of Amby’s Russian pronunciations from our last episode before wrapping things up (1 hour 44 mins 15 secs)

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If you have any suggestions on what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming podcast, or something you’d like to see regularly covered, please contact us or leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks to Dan Philip for his rockin’ intro to the Diplomacy Games podcast.

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