Diplomacy, Messaging, Jettison

Monday, November 8, 2010
The last three remaining functions have been added to the game as well as a button to transfer from Starbases to Ships.  I'd like to talk for a moment about some implementation decisions we made when building the diplomacy and message system as well as jettison and ship to enemy ship cargo transfer.  

Cargo Transfer

In the original Tim Host there are actually two ways which ship to unowned ship cargo transfers are supported.  In the WinPlan version if you transfer to an enemy ship or planet you are not allowed to transfer more resources onto the ship transferring to a foreign ship or planet.  However, if you were using the VPA client host would actually allow you to transfer additional cargo onto your ship.  If the ship you are transferring to does not have enough space for the cargo and your ship's cargo hold is full then the cargo would be lost.  Since both of these options were supported by the original host program, we decided to use the second approach which feels more natural to the player.  So you will be able to transfer to an enemy ship, and then load more cargo onboard.  But be warned, if your cargo has no place to go, it will be lost in space.  

Note:  It is still only possible to transfer to one enemy ship or unowned planet or jettison on a single turn.  The game will warn you if you change your "foreign" transfer target.  

Diplomacy and Messaging

In the old days, before there was email and the internet the only way to send messages in VGA Planets was to send a message in your turn, wait one turn for it to arrive and wait one turn for the response to come.  This creates a certain amount of "realistic" challenges in diplomatic communication.  Allies however, began to seek better ways to communicate and soon most host websites offered some way of sending instant private messages to other players, thus making communication easy and faster between turns.  Unfortunately, this was never really integrated with the game, and players did not ever see those messages inside their turns etc.  

Since this area of the game is a little unclear we have tried to integrate the above two communication styles into a new diplomacy system by introducing the concept of an Ambassador.   In the new diplomacy screen (accessible from your dashboard) you can see the relationship you have with another player and the relationship they have with you.  By clicking on the player you can choose to set your relationship level with them.  

If you have no relationship, you will only be able to send messages in the "old-fashioned", turn by turn method.  If they send you an Ambassador however, they are inviting you to be able to communicate instantly with them.  So if someone sends you an Ambassador, your messages to them will be sent instantly.  This creates a new 2 level message system which makes sense within the game concept.  

Note: If you don't want to receive any messages from someone else, you can also block them. 

Have fun making new friends (or enemies) in the Echo cluster!