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Diplomacy in October?

September 7th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · 1 Comment · Uncategorized

The Inquirer says that Paradox’s version of the boardgame classic Diplomacy will be released in less a month – October 4.

This is great news for strategy gamers like me who eagerly await each new Paradox game, from the great (like Europa Universalis) to the near-great (like Crusader Kings) to the passable (like Victoria). We’ll leave aside the dregs of the company (like Two Thrones).

Diplomacy poses a great challenge for the computer game developer. The board game depends entirely on player interaction. There are no dice, no spinners, no cards. Everything relies on making deals, carrying them out and knowing when to stab an ally in the back. To win, you have expand without provoking a counter-reaction from everyone else. Stalemates are common.

Designing an AI that can approximate human behavior is such an absurd ideal that to even try invites ridicule. No strategy game has ever created a truly dynamic diplomatic AI that can assess its position and its interests reliably from one situation to the next. Paradox plans to ship a variety of AIs with Diplomacy in order to give the player a greater number of player types to wage war against.

There have two other Diplomacy games for the PC and both were failures. Translating Diplomacy to the electronic world may be impossible – especially beyond the multiplayer world. People play Diplomacy over email all the time, so any decent MP interface can make it work online. Yes, Europa Universalis was originally a board game, but it was a marginal one at best. It was long, complicated and mostly unknown so Paradox could mess it up a little in the interests of the computer gaming community. Diplomacy is a classic; to mess with its rules in order to make it a more playable computer game is a great risk.

We should see the results soon.


One Comment so far ↓

  • Brinstar

    I nearly played Diplomacy once. Students in my school were forming a wargaming (excluding RPGs)society. It was kind of funny because some girls walked into the first meeting, fully intending to join (because wargaming and simulation can be very useful, particularly for anyone studying politics), but I think they saw how geeky everyone else was, and got put off.

    Anyway, I was really busy that year in university, and D&D took precedent.

    I’ll be watching to see how this game fares, because it could be interesting to play a computer version.