About The Diplomatic Pouch

Manus Hand, Publisher

A Welcome To The New Player!

With the release of the Hasbro Interactive CD-ROM version of Diplomacy, the amount of mail I receive from new players has started to rise. Welcome to all of you who have been introduced to The Game recently.

As you may have found already, the Diplomacy hobby is a large and thriving worldwide entity, and we're proud to count you among us. Here at The Pouch -- the Internet home of the hobby -- we will be only too happy to put our motto into practice with you: "Stab you soon!"

The Big Development

Traditionally, the "About The Pouch" column contains a quick run-down of happenings in the hobby at large and especially at The Pouch. Of course, the biggest thing to happen to the hobby in the months since the last Zine issue was published was the issuing of the Hasbro CD-ROM software mentioned above. And within a month from now, the re-issued board game should be on shelves. You'll find a couple of Pouch Deposits on each of these products elsewhere in this issue.

From a personal standpoint, I was flattered that Hasbro involved me in the production of the CD-ROM game. Everyone make sure you pick up a copy so that you can see my name in lights on-screen, and you can read my insights in the game manual. Thanks again, Hasbro (Bill Levay in particular), especially for devoting the inside back cover of the manual to promoting the hobby by directing the reader here to The Pouch.

In fact, in the game manual, I had myself listed as the "Weblisher" of The Pouch. You might recall that I coined the word "Weblish" when writing the last issue's About column, and I wondered if it would catch on.... Well, since the word is now printed and packaged in thousands and thousands of boxes on shelves all over the world, I can flatter myself (who, me?) as a certified neologist! Someone call Webster's!

Pouch Developments

This issue, rather than recounting the different Pouch updates for you myself, I decided to have the various members of the DP Council regale you with the goings-on in their respective sections. Let's start with yours truly.

The Zine, the Front Page, and Elsewhere
By Manus Hand
Well, the Zine (as you can tell) continues essentially unchanged. As for the front page, we have a minor reorganization planned, in response to some recent complaints that The Pouch is not newbie-friendly enough. In true Manus Hand fashion, I roped one newbie who made this kind of report into creating a "Newbies' Guide to The Pouch." Hopefully he will have this to me sometime soon and The Pouch will be as newbie-friendly as we all want it to be.

The Diplomatic Pouch T-Shirts and Mousepads continue to fly out of my house to yours. Great merchandise, great prices. Outfit yourself to promote The Game and the hobby!

The E-Mail Section
By Doug Massey
We've reorganized the E-Mail section a bit, in the great tradition of moving a bunch of existing stuff around to make it look original. Primarily, the E-Mail section now has a bit of hierarchy to it: the main page has one link for new players and one link for experienced players. The new players are "treated" to a monologue about their various options for on-line play and given further links where they can investigate those options and embark on their on-line Diplomacy careers. The veterans are given links to the various on-line resources that comprised the previous incarnation of the Email section -- the ratings systems, the subject index, etc. We felt that the newbie shouldn't be immediately exposed to so many details . . .

With the release of Hasbro's computer game, the hobby is likely to experience an influx of new players. Since the game is, apparently, still most enjoyable with seven human players, the new E-Mail section will hopefully help bring them together with like-minded dippers around the world.

The Showcase Section
By Ry4an Brase
Even the slowest changing (most neglected?) section of The Pouch has undergone a few changes. The main page has been redone to be slightly more attractive, marginally more navigable, and infinitely less seizure inducing (fewer animations).

In addition to looking nicer, the new summaries for each showcase include a link to an archive file containing all the files within that showcase. This feature has been requested by a number of people -- though I can't for the life of me figure out why.

Let me know what you would like to see in the Showcase, and as always, feel free to point me at games that deserve to be put into the fishbowl.

The Openings List
by Hans de Graaf
The Openings List will soon offer maps in two different formats. Currently the list offers PostScript maps. They have a few nice properties, such as easy printing and good scalability, but it requires a PostScript viewer to view them on-screen. Since there is no single graphics format that covers all the advantages, maps will now appear in two formats: PDF and PNG. PDF has most of the properties of PostScript such as easy printing and scalability, and many people have already set up their browsers for viewing PDFs. PNG is a pixel-based format supported by modern browsers that can be displayed directly in the browser. Will the PostScript format stay? That is up to you: let me know.

The Online Resources Section
by Simon Szykman
The Online Resources section has undergone a total renovation. Among the changes are a complete facelift with brand a brand new appearance. The new appearance includes improved navigation within a section, visual cues (arrows and highlighting) to help identify where you are. To make finding the information you are looking for easier, the content has been revised in addition to the improved navigation. All the main section pages have been updated, with some links removed, new ones added, and content of the sectional generally reorganized to be more coherent. Comments and feedback are welcome.

The Postal Section
by Stephen Agar
The Postal section has been streamlined (well, all the references to dead zines have been stripped out) and it is hoped that it will soon be restocked with the details of those thriving enthusiastic postal zines. With the help of John Harrington it is intended that the zine listings will all include a brief review, rather than just the bare bones. Truth to tell though, with the growth of the Internet, times are hard for postal Diplomacy.

We're considering a rather major rework that would put all zines (postal and electronic) into a single section. (The current Postal Section would become the Zines section.) What would you think of that? Should "zines" in a particular medium be kept together (of course, some 'zines now operate in more than one medium). or should things be categorised by content rather than by the means of distribution? Please let me know so that my section of The Pouch can be as useful as possible to you. Personally, I think that what Pouch surfers are looking for is content. Detaching postal zines from the rest just makes it less likely people will consider their unique selling points (and they do still have some!).

The Face-To-Face Section
by Matt Shields
and Tim Richardson
There are a few interesting things going on in the Face-To-Face section. The front page of the section looks the same as it has for months; both of us agree that at this point an "Ain't broke, don't fix it" approach is appropriate for the front end!

Tim has faithfully maintained the Upcoming conventions page, a fact which makes Matt eternally grateful! For Matt's part, he's been woking on an ambitious process of taking The Pouch's tradition of collecting FTF results to the next level.

Matt's contributions, in turn, make Tim grateful. Matt has done all of the reoganization, reformatting of the results section -- especially the ADR work. It's everything Time wanted to do, but never had the time or technical ability to pull off. With Matt around, the FTF Hobby has a new ally at the Pouch!

We continue to keep the Clubs and Organizations list updated. Please let us know if the information there changes or if new groups spring up!

Over the last few months, results from about fifty new convention announcements have been added to the Pouch, with more coming in every day. As we type this, Tim has a stack of 20 or 30 more conventions sitting on his piano that he hopes to have up soon!

We're also proud that the Pouch is displaying results from the ADR Grand Prix. This is Buz Eddy's North American answer to the very popular Swedish Diplomacy Rally.

Expect a slow and steady of Diplomacy records to collect on the Pouch over the coming months. Results, stories, and announcements are all welcomed. If it's information about FTF Dip, it has a home at The Pouch!

Other Hobby Developments

The activity by Hasbro has inspired a lot of new activity by the hobby as well. Buz Eddy has stepped up his efforts, in collaboration with The Pouch, to get a "rally points" system in place for North American Face-To-Face players. Edi Birsan has set up the Diplomatic Corps (in fact, he announces it elsewhere in this issue).

The local and regional tournament scene in North America continues to grow, with support coming from Hasbro and their affiliates. One regional organization recently held its first-ever tournament (reported by Tim Richardson elsewhere in this issue) and another (my own pet project, the ARMADA) has also scheduled its first tournament. (If you're in the Rocky Mountains, join the ARMADA and make sure to show up at the February tournament!)

The European and Australasian hobbies continue to keep the hobby strong. This is exemplified by a couple of articles in this issue: Larry Peery's report from the 1999 World Championships held in Belgium and Brandon Clarke's essay on how to run a successful tournament, based on his experience running the New Zealand Diplomacy Championships. (In fact, at the time of this writing, the Don Diplomacy Challenge is going on in Australia. Wish I could be there! Honest I do. I really, really do.)

An Apology and A Plea

You might have noticed that this issue is once again late. Can you guess why? Because it's so very large! I found myself unable to resist including just about everything that was sent me. This is both good and bad. Good because it made this issue (in my opinion) one of the highest-quality issues in the history of The Zine, and bad because I have not held anything in reserve for the next issue. Help!

The next issue (Winter Adjustment) is theoretically the largest issue of the year. Without your help, though (I need articles, and I need them quickly!) there is no chance of the next issue even coming close to this one. So please, help out by contributing an article. I know I say this every issue (and it's worked so far, I suppose, so there's no reason to stop) but this one is particularly urgent. All I have for the next issue is a couple of promises.

Okay, Enough Preliminaries. Enjoy The Pouch!

Manus Hand

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