Diplomacy is an ingenious game which has always attracted and accumulated a rich, varied community, so developers like myself can’t take much credit for giving it a new medium to thrive in. We nonetheless felt satisfied when a few weeks ago the original webDiplomacy server, webdiplomacy.net, reached game #100,000 in time for its 9th anniversary: A good chance to have a look back, look at what has happened since the last article in 2009, and look ahead.
Long before Scrabulous / Words with friends, or even web browsers, online Diplomacy had already established itself. The code, interface, and technology have changed, but the game, and sense of community, haven’t. However the online Diplomacy tradition we’re most committed to is openness: Online Diplomacy has been open-source since the beginning, which has helped make it so enduring, and allowed various communities / languages / ranking schemes / variants to thrive.
webDiplomacy has been forked for Korean, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, for Facebook, for commercial purposes, and to create sites dedicated to variants. Anyone who wants to create their own community with their own ideas can. The only license restriction is that derivatives of the webDipomacy platform remain open too (as with e.g. Linux).
Since last writing in 2009 there have been three major changes to webDiplomacy, all aimed at enabling webmasters & developers who are working with their own servers:
Github.com: We’re now hosted on Github, a site based on the new standard in source control, which makes sharing features between different servers easier than ever.
Variant support: When I last wrote there were sites dedicated to adding variants, but they had to be applied directly to the core platform, making them difficult to develop and share. We introduced a variant system, allowing variants to be installed as modules on top of the core platform without altering it.
Vdiplomacy.com, by Oliver Auth, switched over to the new system, and currently hosts over 80 Diplomacy variants (ranging from njudge classics to interesting new creations), any of which can be easily shared, and two of which have been merged back into the official release.
Alex Lebedev sponsored a translation system, allowing translations to exist independently of the core platform. This means anyone who can translate can create a webDiplomacy community in their own language without making code changes.
The code has been developed and tested, but needs to be put to the test with multiple translation sets. We need are people who are:
webDiplomacy is about taking away the technical hurdles so we can focus on bringing Diplomacy to more people, so get in touch if you want to be involved.
For players: http://webdiplomacy.net/
For webmasters / developers: http://forum.webdiplomacy.net/
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