Does anyone have experience with “play-by-mail” games?For those unaware, there were thousands of multiplayer RPG and strategy games in the 80s and early 90s where people would play entirely through the mail (and later, email):>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play-by-mail_gameSo who has played them? Anyone interested in playing one?
Believe it or not, there’s still one magazine devoted entirely to play-by-mail games: “Suspense & Decision” and the issue just released for free online>https://suspense-and-decision.com/issue-20-is-out/It contains a complete list of the currently-running PBM games (which I’ll post separately)Here’s the link, and I’ll post pics separately:
>>85331356I gotta tell you, /tg/ went downhill when OPs stopped being able to bump their own threads
>>85331451I'll bump it for you, because the subject matter interests me. I'm too young to have actually played by mail though - to me "play by post" means forum posts, not the post.
>>85331472They’ve since expanded to encompass those as well. There there are still a few old-school ones out there
>>85331489Surprising to see how many there still are
Check this out, OPhttp://rickloomispbm.com/
>>85331513Very cool fellow! Sadly died a bit ago, although the games may still be running, I’m not sure
>>85331196Excuse me what the fuckHow did anyone find the play this?
My new favorite old-school ad
Closest thing I’ve experienced personally is Diplomacy, played at my school without most of the players ever seeing each other face-to-faceI didn’t really end up seeing the appeal of the game, but some people got very into it, obviously.
>>85331725There’s some real gems from old PBM ads
>You are the Ice Cool leader of a gang of drug crazed terrorists
The genre was apparently strangely popular in Japan, in case anyones interested:>https://www.dampfkraft.com/games/japanese-postcard-net-games.html
>>85331919Only played the Starcraft map, I never knew it was anything but
>>85332219Yeah, it actually dates back to the 50s, I believe. It’s since been around so long it’s been adapted to every historic, fantasy, and sci fi setting
how the hell does this work
>>85333462Are you incapable of writing a letter?
This stuff is awesome.
>>85334606NTA, but RPGs and strategy games are already slow as hell in person; over mail seems intolerable. I can't imagine taking over a month just to play one game of chess.
>>85336285For chess, you're supposed to send your move as part of a proper letter. Your move is just something you tag on at the very end of a substantial letter because paper and postage wasn't and still isn't exactly free. Basically, it's a way for friends to keep in touch, while the game is just to encourage them to not have too much time between letters (and also to save the letters so that you have a complete record of the match in case someone accidentally tips over their board and has to recreate the previous moves). If you don't send letters often, the game might take months or even years to finish, so it's a good way to maintain a healthy correspondance.
>>85331196The closest I've done was play by post.I would love to play by mail at least once.>>85331962I love that ad.>wizards, heroes, elves and dwarvesI raugh.
>>85332137Was literally just about to bring these upWhat a feeling doing this over a year with other people before everyone got internet
>>85331196I wondered if play by mail was ever a thing but I thought only for chess and checkers because it would take forever to get reply's and to finish turns.
>>85335979work on your art
>>85331697>every turn generates its own encyclopedia's worth of informationA grognard's wet dream.
>>85331196>>85332137Thanks for posting this. This is amazing!
>>85331196I've played Dominions by email with /vg/. It was pretty fun.
>>85332137>A Net Game was a play-by-mail RPG with one world shared by a huge "net" of players. A given game would typically run for a year, during which you'd have one character and make one move - an in-world action - each month. While this may sound like a glacial pace of interaction, it only accounts for official actions; communication between players allowed for information sharing and coordinated efforts that could form the greater part of the game.>you'd get a monthly magazine featuring news from the game world, player submitted art, columns, in-world classified ads, a list of suggested moves, possibly some unique clues, and a postcard to submit your turn for the month. >the main attraction of the game was writing a free description of what you wanted your character to do, similar to what you'd do verbally in a tabletop RPG. The next month you'd get a "reaction", a detailed description of what happened to your character written in the style of a short story>Besides the main part of his reaction, there's also a short note from the game master who wrote it, as well as a list of player characters who ran into each other, including their real-world contact information. By contacting other players you could exchange notes and solve mysteries without waiting for a monthly reply. >At the end of the game there would often be a large real-world meetup, and most years they published a commemorative book chronicling major game events. >While some plot developments would be planned before the game began, many twists and running jokes started off as postcards sent in by ordinary players.>At their peak the largest Net Games had roughly ten thousand playersI’m not even a weeb but this sounds fucking awesome man! How do we get something like this started nowadays?
>>85341194Well, start small and encourage word of mouth.>set up a dedicated email address for turn submissions>make a basic homepage - neocities, wordpress, etc - conveying the premise, some setting details, and of course a simple form to sign upSince this is probably a "new" thing for most who might sign up, it might be useful to go shorter but more frequently at first: biweekly for a few months instead of monthly for a year. But regardless of the schedule, keep to it tightly: schedule your emails to send at a specific time on the expected dates.And of course, be prepared for only a few people to sign up. It's a cool idea to revive, but you definitely won't see numbers anywhere close to 10k.What sort of game were you thinking of running?
This sort of makes me imagine an MMO before MMO's. Very neat.
>>85341895They're essentially the predecessor to the MUD, yes. A lot of MUDS were basically just semi-freeform roleplay MMOs (I think there was another term for the story-based ones but I forget it now).
>>85331196bought a magazine when I was 13 that contained the world and rules for such a game. Magazine editors would run it for everybody interested. So me and my pala made characters, mailed them in, and talked about nothing else while awaiting replies and the next edition of the magazine.Replies never came. Turns out this was the last edition of the magazine.Some years later I decided to gamemaster something like this for some pals. Everybody would be a ruler of their kingdom, get reports from their various underlings, and issue orders that I would process asynchronously. Turns out, it required too much work from me - 5 underlings, 4 players, that is 20 reports to write each turn - and we stopped after three turns.
>>85336285>over mail seems intolerable. I can't imagineThe past is indeed a foreign country.I played in at least six PBMs in the early- and mid-1980s. In general, they were initially an attractive addition (for me, not alternative) to face-to-face-gaming, but few were interesting enough to be worth the expense to my teen-aged budget (registration and turn fees plus the long-distance phone bills for collaborating with other players.)Star TrekNot a MUD. Play as the Captain of a Constitution-class cruiser (with the entire crew of 400 statted out!) I stopped playing this one after receiving the results from my first turn. A friend of mine from school started playing just before I did. We were presented with the same scenario/problem for that first turn, submitted completely different moves to address it, but then received identical results--same ship damage, same Klingon force disposition, same new info, etc.Global SupremacyPost-WW3 war/strategy game with dozens of players in each iteration taking up the leadership and resources of all the countries in the world. Collect resources, build your units/tech level, ally or fight with your neighbors, repeat until you have a king of the hill. I played Australia, successfully invaded New Zealand, tried some diplo with (Vietnam? Thailand? Indonesia?,) got bored, quit.Out Time DaysA multi-player fantasy RPG in a bespoke setting. Played a turn or two, wished it could have been more.continues 1 of 2
>>85344089continued 2 of 2Feudal LordsMultiple players as barons in mythical medieval Britain. Manage your estate resources, deal with fellow barons, try to become king. No real memories--I think I may have gotten the starter pack but never submitted a move.It's a CrimeA multi-player city street gang game. Each block of the city grid map was rated for level of police protection, value of extortion and drug sales, availability of weapons, number of recruits, etc. Grow your gang, expand your turf from your first block, become a Boss. Played a few turns, realized how disgusting the premise is, quit.Universe IIIOpen-ended multi-player sci-fi interstellar exploration. Start with a single ship in an unknown universe/galaxy/quadrant, discover cool stuff, meet other players' ships and their factions. Space battles played out on a 3x3 grid with pre-planned ship moves. Most fun of them all, played it the longest. Became pen-pals/phone-friends for a while with another player/ally from the other side of the country.
I play by text a lot. It works well with smaller groups and PbtA games. I like Homebrew World for it.
>>85344139By this I mean over text chat.
>>85344089>>85344101I'm more familiar with D&D and similar games with relatively tedious combat mechanics, so my initial vision of PBM was>"Boy, I sure hope I hit that wolf with my sword! Can't wait for next month, where I can try to hit him with my sword again!"
>>85340828They stopped using email
>>85341194This is basically just a slow-mo version of what today is a play-by-post Discord server.
>>85341194>>85341194I was trawling through some old Japanese TRPG's earlier and found this "netto ge" in a Japanese twitter thread
>>85345296Well the net game thing is what I found later, these others I found first I have no idea if they're all net games
>>85345307But they all seem to be part of the same setting
>>85344327Yes, that would be difficult and hard to imagine being fun! Take a look at the wikip article on It's a Crime for a description of how a relatively short list of available moves plus player interaction between turns leads to the complexity and real fun of the game. A lot of the games were like that; Universe III was similar but open-ended--a lot of the play of the thing was interacting with the differing factions that organically arose from the play of people who came before you.>https://oldschoolfrp.tumblr.com/tagged/pbmhas images of ads for some PBMs of the time.
>>85342814what magazine was it anon? I wanna go check it out
>>85341815>but a pot pie is a pot pieHallelujah Hollaback
>>85345296>>85345307>>85345314>>85345333very cool find anon. I wish I could read this shit.
Out Time Days/Twin Engine Gaming made it into the internet age at least as far as the AOL years while they were also developing a new game, but still play by mail.
I wonder how much you can use automation for this kind of concept in today's age. It could be like AI Dungeon, expect you don't need results in real-time and you can have people acting as editors reviewing the output or have the AI aggregate and sort data so writers have an easier time keeping track of everything and get recommendations for possible interactions and plot points.
>>85347413the secret answer is that, minus AI aggregation, you just described forum roleplaying
>>85347252Same, it looks really coolAll I know is that it's called 鋼鉄の虹 or "Steel Rainbow"These things feel so niche and tight knit yet pic related seems to have been a doujinshi some fan made for it
>>85341815>>85341194All right, enough chitchat. Let’s get to work making this happen, people.>Step One: What kind of setting or storyline should we use?
>>85331196No. I've done play by post and play by email. Play by mail seems like it would take too long. Like years for even short scenarios. Maybe one day when I'm retired and have lots of time for letter writing.
>>85331697>1000 page turn summarymuh dick
>>85340828>I've played Dominions by email with /vg/. It was pretty fun.That sounds baller. Like Quests, but with better rules.
>>85354136If we’re going with the more open-ended Japanese style described above, I think we might want a setting where lots of people would interact regularlyThe most popular of those games was Hourai High, which spawned a whole franchise. It was set in a high school, which I imagine made several elements easier. Specifically, all the locations / activities you could do on a given turn would make logical sense (for instance, various clubs and teams). Also, it would make sense for all the students to be interacting and befriending one another.
>>85354234Hmm. You know, I live in a resort town, and now that it’s summer there are kids running around everywhere.That might make a good setting. Town with some mysterious secret, and it’s up to the kids to investigate it?
>>85354136>>85354234>>85354714Choosing a genre or setting first is not quite putting the cart before the horse (it's inspiring and defines parameters and tasks for later,) but it is also not the first thing that is going to be hard work. I think you will need to very early think about how the enterprise is going to function, about how you are going to build the infrastructure and procedures that run behind the scenes to put turn-by-turn results in front of the players. What are the human and digital workflows, databases, rules-code, etc. at work with the description of the game in >>85341194 or, for instance, the It's a Crime! game described on wikip? And how are you going to build them? I would bet that there has already been talk of this before, perhaps in back issues of the magazine mentioned in >>85331275 or especially in the old PBMG magazines like Gaming Universal, Paper Mayhem, and Flagship.Rock on.
I’m afraid I have nothing to contribute myself as these were definitely before my time, but I gotta say, this was some comfy ass reading. I would totally get on board one of these if they came back in vogue. Thanks for sharing something rare and interesting, /tg/. It was a momentary glimmer of better days on this board.
>>85355436My current theory is to run a test game through /qst/, detailed here: >>>/qst/5346512Basically:>Start a thread on /qst/ with detailed info on the setting and rules>Instead of posting their orders in the thread, players send them privately through email>After a set period of time (one or two weeks, most likely), the players would receive a "reaction" email, with a detailed description of what happened to their character>The reaction email would also give a list of player characters who ran into each other, including their contact information (email, discord, etc). By contacting other players you could exchange notes, solve mysteries without waiting for a monthly reply, and make plans to team up in the future>At the same time as the reaction emails, updates would be posted in the thread: major happenings, new locations, in-world news, etc>And this whole time players would, of course, use the thread itself to chat and discuss things, or just give feedback on the gameSeem doable?
>>85355769Could work. Since it's good to start small anyway, limiting players to only people who visit this thread or /qst/ is a wise choice.It may be wise to leave time to write responses - if you want an update per week, any action sent during the last 2 days is either ignored or at least not guaranteed to happen. Punctuality of updates is crucial for serial projects.
I'll bump this for you lads
>>85354234Speaking of Hourai High, the company released all the books and stuff for the tabletop version of the game for free onlineIt’s allegedly very fun (in case anyone can read Japanese lol):https://www.mangaz.com/book/detail/48582
>>85354234I'm unfamiliar with the game, but it sounds like fun! I'm guessing that, rather than an overarching plot, each character has their own goals, and must work together or against others to accomplish them?