So this is just a what and how thread, because I don’t really know.

Generally assuming 1 interaction per day.

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  • Sequential turn based
    Players take turns one at a time, each player can see the result of the previous player’s actions.
    Pros: you can see exactly where everything is and make informed decisions.
    Cons: doesn’t scale, if you have 7 players, you get to make one move per week.
  • Simultaneous turn based
    Players take turns all at the same time, and players can see the state of the game when the turn starts but nothing the other players do until the turn ends.
    Pros: scales.
    Cons: having to take actions by guessing is kind of awkward - say, attacking an empty tile that you think an enemy will move into, or if two players try to move to the same location they effectively lose their actions.
  • Relativistic sequential turn based: Players within interaction distance have sequential turns, but the turn flow is disconnected from players in other areas. If players approach interaction distance they are inserted into the flow at that time.
    Pros: kind of scales, benefits of sequential play
    Cons: Can lead to unfairness, by someone who goes away can take a bunch of quick turns then come back (potentially), still need to limit number of interacting players.
  • One-third triplex
    Players have one way interaction by means of seeing the results of the actions of other players - abandoned fortresses, ghosts, trained AIs, etc.
  • Real time
    All MMOs. You can interact with the environment, and depending on timing, directly with each other, but you don’t have to play at the same time.
  • Indirect control
    This is basically simultaneous, but rather than directly indicating what you want to happen, communicating intentions which are carried out by AI. Or perhaps things like neopets where interactions are all indirect and not time sensitive.


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  • Play by email
  • Server - I might be wrong, bunchronous multiplayert I haven’t found a single sequential/simultaneous asynchronous multiplayer game that offers this solution.
  • Hotseat

Any other ideas? All of these kind of suck in some way.

I’m a huge fan of asynchronous multiplayer. I want to play, with other people, in different timezones. But I want to basically take a turn while waiting for an email, or think about what I’m going to do next and then do it and then think a bunch more, rather than sit in front of a vidcon for n hours.

I tried doing Civ 5 (bullpig?) with a friend and it didn’t work. There’s no headless server. You can run the graphical client but it uses 100% cpu constantly, which is not cool for a game you expect to take several months. 9/10 times we’d fail to connect, or turns would disappear, or something. I tried using a CPU scaler to give Civ 5 only 1% cpu time and it seemed to do okay (like, surprisingly I was getting a solid 20fps) but when someone actually tried to submit a turn everything would suddenly time out.

I thought people played Civ in play-by-email. Looks like there are some tools to help with it, but it’s not built into the client:

Yeah, I looked at that, but it’s a huge hack either way. Copy file from some hidden save directory, email, receive, paste back in directory, hope you got the turn order right and maybe use passwords, etc. Like if you accidentally don’t end your turn suddenly you just showed your opponent all your cities, and then you have to go back and redo the process.

FWIW Dominions seems to be exactly the same - it’s like a 10 step process to take a turn.

There might be some way to do this more sanely, like mail client hooks and stuff, but I’d still worry about transferring multi megabyte mystery binary files over email (have we passed that era yet?)

Yeah, you’d need some circle of trust with the other players. although this is a niche enough case that any community for this would pass my ‘honest nerd’ gut check.

Asynchronous multiplayer is something I am fascinated by but have never really pursued. I’m not that into the kinds of strategy games that it seems most [frequently used for/suited to].

For a while, I ran an Apples-to-Apples-by-email game for myself and some friends.

I also initiated that game where you write a sentence, then the next person draws that sentence, then the next person interprets that drawing as a sentence and so on (we call it “Picture Sentence Fun Pass” but I know it has other names, including some branded ones, but I can’t remember them). That was cool because it required very little central administration–once the turn order was set, everyone more or less can keep it moving on their own.

These are very different games from the kinds of games we’re talking bout here though.

Yeah, that too. Civ seems like an obvious fit, since you end up taking 10+ min per turn, but I think board games in general could be a good fit. Maybe also sim games, like Cities? Or Final Fantasy Tactics, especially with its board style movement and all. I definitely took a long time on turns there.

I’m not sure! IMO this is about being able to enjoy games with people but with limited focused time, or games that have interactions that leave certain players with a lot of free time.

Maybe this is a different model of scaling - a game where the longer you wait until it gets back to you the more interesting what you have to work with is. If you were doing picture passing with 20 people it could be months until you get it back, and being able to see the transformation over that time could be a lot better than if only 2 or 3 people passed before you got it back.

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i really like chess, and i pretty much exclusively play correspondence games on would be willing to play. not sure if this thread is implicitly excluding chess or not.

Works for me! I’m personally mostly interested in exploring how asynchronous gaming can be done, and perhaps how various communities adapt it/to it. I’ve heard of correspondence chess but never done it - do people actually finish their games? How long does a game take?

Okay here’s another idea, probably just a riff on the stuff above but whatever. A game where each turn you play a minigame that’s effectively a normal single player game - puzzle, strategy, side scrolling, whatever - but the results of those minigames affect a larger turn based game that’s sequential/simultaneous.

Actually scratch that, I think an intensive single player minigame would draw the focus away from the multiplayer aspect.

i’ve finished hundreds of correspondence games. on lichess i usually just set it to something like 2-days-per-turn and just install the (free) mobile app so you get notifications when it is your turn. you can just have the site email you as well

games can take a few days if moves are coming out quickly, or sometimes stretch into several weeks

I know you said to scratch this, but you kind of just described a significant part of Mario Party.

Yeah, I remember that! Okay, what about a system where it’s 90% async with scheduled sync times for certain events?

I’m the sort of person who says “this would be awesome if it had multiplayer” to just about everything but… maybe? :smiley:

I guess since it’s two players max it would be pretty fast, but I think if I didn’t limit myself to one move a day it would be horribly distracting. Like when I’m expecting an email I check my email every 2 minutes type distracting.

in my experience the pace varies wildly depending on how available the players are, their personal style, the complexity of the position, etc.

for me, i play a lot faster in an opening i’m familiar with, or when most of the pieces have been traded off. in the complex middlegames, sometimes i’m taking the whole 48 (or more) hours to consider my move.