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Subject: Digitizing Silverton rss

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Brian E
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This game feels like it calls for being digitized and played online.

That would:

- eliminate all the math and dicing
- enable rail lines to be painted in player colors as the game progresses, eliminating map confusion
- enable map zooming
- enable automatic location of places unfamiliar to people who are not native to this region
- enable freight and snow math to be easily done
- enable flawless record-keeping of mining and other activitny
- significantly reduce play time
- enable scheduled play sessions, or staged play
- eliminate errors

Imagine if all the markets just adjusted at once, or all the mines just produced or depleted in a split second. This would make the game so much easier.

The mechanics would be easy to digitize, and the graphics already have been. Inter-player transactions (the equivalent of trading properties in Monopoly) would be the tough part, but that could still be done: each player could have an asset list with check boxes that could be transferred to another player's ownership.

This game, great in concept, is physically and mentally cumbersome to play FTF due to these many fiddle factors. Digitizing the game would enable it to be played with a focus on strategy and would greatly increase the game's appeal.

You could almost do it all in Excel if you were a serious power user - that's the level of complexity.

Is it a copyrights issue? Or is it just something no one has bothered to do?
 
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Darrell Hanning
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But it would effectively eliminate FTF play, and render Silverton another, soulless, tactile-deprived experience in the digital world.

Math is easy, dice are fun, and the board isn't confusing once you've played a few times.
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Brian E
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I understand your point, but for example, I play Puerto Rico both online and FTF with friends. I play bridge online with an old friend who lives far away. The online game isn't soulless. I live far from some gamer friends. You communicate with chat - you're still interacting. My idea would bring more people to the game so more friends could enjoy it more conveniently.

I believe you designed some of the tools and boards on which such a game's user interface could be based?
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Iain K
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Quote:
Imagine if all the markets just adjusted at once


There's a spreadsheet that already does this, and it does aid FtF play significantly

Quote:
or all the mines just produced or depleted in a split second.


Where's the fun in that? Mines are a crap shoot, and who has ever enjoyed "digital" die rolling over rolling physical dice?

Regardless, I don't think the game has enough market to be a computer game. Automating the marketplace is nice, and removes much of the overhead and excessive die rolling. When coupled with FtF play of a physical game it makes for a great experience.
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Len K
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citizen k wrote:
Where's the fun in that? Mines are a crap shoot, and who has ever enjoyed "digital" die rolling over rolling physical dice?
[...]
Automating the marketplace is nice, and removes much of the overhead and excessive die rolling. When coupled with FtF play of a physical game it makes for a great experience.

thumbsup This.

Probably 90% of my Silverton plays are solitaire, and part of that experience, for me (as with most solitaire play), is the tactile interaction with the game. This includes rolling the dice for mines - it's that push-your-luck feel - but does not include rolling for price changes, which is basically bookkeeping. For that reason I do spreadsheet the price changes for FtF, and usually for solitaire as well.

Now, with all that said, would I play an online version if it were available? Absolutely. It would enable me to play way more multi-player games (there's only 1 other Silverton fan in my local game groups) and I don't see it detracting from FtF play. I'm also an 18xx fan and I can play way more 18xx online than I can play locally, even though I enjoy FtF.
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Brian E
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Fair enough, but a digital game could go either way. It could roll for production for all mines at once automatically and blindly, or could do it sequentially with some cool animated dice - it depends on the UI and player preferences.

You could really have fun with a colorful UI and "Old West" digital sights and sounds for this game (train sounds, picks striking rocks, dynamite, a glittery mountain, sawing lumber, an old miner saying "Gooooold!") Imagine the old Railroad Tycoon games for an idea of what I mean.

I tried to do this in Excel some time ago, using a small subset of the board to avoid the tedium of programming the whole thing, and completed a prototype that was clickable and did automate all the key functions. The pilot worked, but I don't know how to program online. Maybe this is my big chance to learn.
 
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John Farrell
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There are JavaScript apps for both versions - check the other threads in this forum. These are web pages which do the market for you, including "oh, I made a mistake, I sold one more than that, I have to go back and fix it".
 
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Brian E
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Reflecting a bit more, digitization seems like a better idea.

1) It would enable Darrell's multiple maps and other awesome insights to be realized and enjoyed by a wider range of players. They'd become setup options. Do you want the old map with preset routes, or the Darrell map with the hexes? Click this box...

2) The map would present in vivid, easy-to-read color, with player activities distinguished by color. Your rail net could be red, your opponent's could be yellow, etc.

3) Players would still have to make some computations for planning purposes. But since they'd be at a computer, it would be easy.

4) Play time would be far shorter with all the accounting and dice rolling and train, distance, and freight division and calculation and competition for passenger routes automated (if players wish). Hours shorter per game. I would totally want to automate all that.

5) You could easily rid the game of fractions, making the math more intuitive.

6) Fun, quality animations could increase the period and experiential appeal of the game.

7) The computer could, with mouse overs or other means, perform the function of the chart that tells you how many claims each location has and what they are worth. You need that information to play well. See link

http://spotlightongames.com/chart/silv.exp.html

The fact that Java apps and other aids already exist to handle these tasks is a standing argument in favor of point-and-click digitizing the game such as you'd find on Yucata or BG Arena.

Darrell, you might love the fiddliness but my idea is really meant to respect your unique contributions to enjoyment of the game. I'm seriously thinking about how to make this work.
 
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Brian E
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Brandon Pennington's (TGov) artwork would be great for a digital version also
 
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Brian E
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Silverton is far too good a game and has too many dedicated fans to be a solitaire exercise. When you look at what people do with the artwork, etc. you see we have got to get this game online.

Like others, in Excel, I've built an engine that enables with the push of a few buttons and minimal inputs

- Menu-driven scenario selection (all scenarios including solo), with proper number of players (whether optional or fixed) and an automatic rules-compliant market setup for players and scenario
- UI for deliveries reporting
- UI for market movements based on turn and deliveries
- UI for turn incrementation, turn order determination, winter display, and train and snow plow availability notification
- UI for claims rolling including full results display
- Nice-looking UI

I don't know how to program a money-deducting, dispute-resolving, route-coloring GUI map for the web (but I did a working prototype in an older version of Excel). Of course, Excel is also not the right app in which to make the game publicly available. In theory I have the programming skills to take the next steps, but it would take significant time and learning to do it personally.

The immediate purpose of the Excel exercise is that I do have access to a local group of gamers that might be interested even in the 6-player Campaign Game. We would play face to face, but the purpose of the Excel is to sharply reduce game play time and game fiddliness by shifting to a computer the rote functions and freeing players to better plan and strategize. Players need to "worry" about how they will fund risky projects with limited resources in a competitive environment - that's what the game is about - not about rolling dice a bijillion times for every little thing and moving a bunch of little cubes around and being careful not to bump into all the cubes.
 
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