An Obituary for Dietmar Kulsch

by Martin Asal


In June 2012 the DEUS GM, Dietmar Kulsch, passed away. Let’s have a look at the things he did for the Diplomacy hobby and the current status of DEUS.

Dietmar told me that his first contact with Diplomacy was a live game in the early 1980’s on TV — one of the German “3rd programs” — non-commercial senders who had the chance to do very unusual experimental things back then. The TV moderator kibitzed about the player agreements and commented on the game for the observers. Well, today we see so much nonsense on TV, so why not Diplomacy?

Diplomacy wasn’t the only thing that’s necessary to say about Dietmar. Another thing was his precise way to use the German language. He always avoided foreign expressions — especially English ones. And, more to say, he loved to intentionally misinterpret other people. If someone e.g. would have asked: “Is the traffic light red or green?”, he would have answered: “Yes!”

I don’t know if, or how often, Dietmar played Face to Face in this time, but around 1996 he found Ken Lowes judge. So he decided to translate the judge. In early 1997, Judge DEAC started — the first and only judge that did not respond in English. It was (and is up to this day) possible to use the “set English” command to get an additional translation of results into English, but its ordinary language was German.

In 1999 there was one of the first Diplomacy conventions in Germany — organized by DEAC players. There, the idea of a DEAC homepage was born. It was the first of only two times I met Dietmar personally. But it was the beginning of intensive and steadily correspondence for many years. During the next months, about a half dozen people brainstormed via mail about a homepage, and www.lepanto.de was born. Most of the brainstormers disappeared then, but Dietmar and I did the work — HTML by me, Scripting by Dietmar.

Lepanto didn’t describe PbEM only: soon it was possible to get games information, too. DEAC became the second active judge worldwide. In September 2002, there were more than 160 games concurrently. At this time Dietmar started Judge DEUS, a copy of the DEAC software. In 2005 all old DEAC games were finished.

During the following years, we developed a judge Internet interface step by step. First, there was a “gateway” — something like a mailing form. Next came a form for press and broadcast, so the players need not think about these commands any more. In 2005, I developed the DiploMap software — interactive maps, a little bit like Realpolitik, but integrated into lepanto. Now DEUS players were able to play via browser also.

In 2012 we began a discussion about several new features. In June, DEUS didn’t answer suddenly. Some few days later, lepanto.de was offline, too. This was so unaccustomed, and Dietmar didn’t answer via mail or phone, so I decided to google for Dietmar. What I found, was a death announcement. Dietmar had passed away.

I informed the community as well as possible. Desisting from the shock into the community, there was the question about the future of DEUS. I wasn’t able to see any chance at first, but then Sascha Rei▀ner informed me that he had downloaded the DEUS sources weeks before. At nearly the same time, Marcus Leber, a DEUS player, found an IP, where the server still was online. Now we downloaded the complete server data. Few days later, the old server was offline. In July, Sascha restarted DEUS. The lepanto homepage was reborn as www.lepanto.at, and the new DEUS address is DEUS@lepanto.at now.

Meanwhile, we modernized some things. Even in the old version, it was possible to play from a site called “command central”. Now, this is more clearly arranged, so a player has an easy overview of the map and his correspondence within a single site. And it’s possible to create orders and messages comfortably and easily there, without having to know commands like “signon”, “press to” or “broadcast”. GMs can create games via a separate form easily, too. We have some more plans to modernize the play by judge hobby - support for more then 2 languages, for example.. We hope this is in Dietmar's Spirit.



Martin Asal
(asal@gmx.de)

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