Archive for September, 2009

Mappa Mundorum: Map Generation, version 3

September 24, 2009

Almost forgot that I needed to put in the Great Solar Storm, and keep paths from crossing it. So I did that, with results as seen in these maps:



Mappa Mundrorum: Update

September 23, 2009

Well, I finally beat the “avoid paths through the sun while not getting so many false positives that the program hangs” problem.  (Basically, by abandoning the java2d intersect tools and going straight to the math: walking down the parametric form of the curve and seeing if it collides.) Which is a substantial improvement but also an invisible one; the maps generated now aren’t much different from the last set.  (I did implement the change in control points I mentioned in the last post, and that does give me a nicer variety of curves, but not dramatically so.)

So now there’s a lot of cosmetic work to do: adding keys and scales, and getting the whole thing into a more usable application or applet.  Then I can start thinking about additional support for the online version (automated dividers-based path length measurements, something to keep track of the 15 agents, their resources, and the victory point totals, that sort of thing.)

Mappa Mundorum: Map Generation, Version 2

September 18, 2009

A bit more work, and some maps that are a bit better:


The first improvement to note is that I’ve put in the sun.  The second improvement is that there are fewer extremely flat curves.

The third change is noted by what you don’t see on this map, which is to say that you don’t see any paths that go through the sun.  This was the more difficult part to do, and there are still associated problems: sometimes, when planets are nearly opposite the sun, it may refuse to find a good path entirely and stall out.  I could make it abort and relocate the planets for this, but that’s not a good idea and the issue will only get worse when I put in the Great Solar Storm and (possibly) also exclude paths that collide with a third planet.  So what I’m leaning towards doing as changing the set of potential control points to not use the point 180 degrees across the orbit sbut instead the two points 120 degrees behind and ahead, and see if that freedom makes it easier for the system to find non-colliding curves.

Mappa Mundorum: Map Generation, version 1

September 17, 2009

I’ve been doing a little noodling around with automated map generation, and I thought I’d share some early results:


Not exactly what I originally imagined, but on the way to usable at least.  (I’d want to add scales and keys of course.)

For the technically inclined, these paths are all cubic curves.  The start and end points are obvious, and the control points are randomly grabbed from a set of points consisting of the five planets, the sun, and points 180 degrees opposite the planets in their orbits.  The colors are a gradient between the two planets, reversed so that you can tell where you’re going from the start of a path.

So that’s a start.  For preference, I’d like to be able to automatically avoid the more boring, line-like paths, and then have a random subset follow more complicated paths (possibly comprised of two or more cubic curves, with the midpoints somewhere near a random third planet?)  Still, this is a lot better than I expected to have this soon.

Mappa Mundorum: Next Steps; Critique Exchanges

September 15, 2009

So, I’ve completed a fairly good first draft of the game, if I do say so my self.  What next?

Well, playtesting would be the obvious next step.  The problem here is that even if the software support for the online game were in place, I don’t see finishing a game in less than two months, let alone the two weeks before the next deadline in the online mode.  Which is not to say I’d be uninterested if volunteers were to materialize.  For the tabletop version, I don’t anticipate getting a group together for this in the two weeks either.

So, there’s working on the software, which I may end up doing, and aiming for, if there’s to be any resubmission, the 365 day deadline.


If this had been a more traditional Game Chef event, these two weeks would be the critiquing phase.  This is something that I’ve missed (apart from many admirable responses on my CW post and a couple of small comments elsewhere) this time around.  Even though it’s not official a part of the competition, there’s nothing to stop us, so…

Anyone wanting to exchange draft critique/reviews, drop a reply her, and I’ll take a look at your game and post some hopefully substantive comments while you do the same for mine. (For at the very least the first five in the unlikely event that response is overwhelming to this offer).  In previous years, I’ve tended to focus on mechanical issues (degenerate strategies, un-covered or counterintuitive corner cases, and the like.)

Mappa Mundorum: Revised First Draft

September 14, 2009

This is the submitted version of the First Draft.


(Only a few changes from the Friday version.  Fixed a few typos, added an Agent sheet and expanded the Victory Points sheet,made it clear that Agent’s carrying capacities are 1, 2 for favored,  and added a brief boxout on narration duties and warning against blocking.  Also added a line separating the columns for ease of reading.  No rules or background changes.)

Mappa Mundorum: The First Draft

September 11, 2009

Here is the first draft:


As always, comments or any sort are more than welcome, as, at this point, are volunteers to help playtesting…

(Edited to fix attachment)

Mappa Mundorum: A Taste of Flavor

September 10, 2009

Last night I finished the Horus page.  (Today’s plan is to write the Incidents rules and at least two more planets.)  Atany rate, I thought I’d post that page as a preview of the more detailed flavor of the game, so here goes:


The inner-most planet, moving swiftly in a tide-locked orbit around the sun. Half a sea of molten rock, half a frozen tundra, with communities of mystics scattered along the barely-livable meridian. A few trading outposts have been placed on this planet.

The native population of Horus are almost entirely of Egyptian stock, and most follow a nearly Gnostic version of classical Egyptian religion. There is a small Semetic minority, practicing a religion that is vaguely Abrahamic, but quite distinct from Terran religions.

The culture of the Mystics disdains most technology in everyday life, but is not unwilling to make use of it in emergencies.


The Mystics of Horus can see the future, or into the minds of others…provided the price is right.

On Horus, any Agent may exchange Luck or Starlight for Secrets on a 1-to-1 basis.

Luck is Trump on Horus

Recent History

Most of the orders on Horus are reclusive and insular even during the best of times. During the Martian War, even the more outward-looking of them remained steadfastly neutral, providing medicine and succor to the wounded of both sides.


Here are a few examples of Sites that can be used for Incidents on Horus. Feel free to go beyond these as the Narrator of Horus if you choose.

● Trading Posts (any) – All of the powers do some trade on Horus, for information or artifacts.

● Pilgrimages (any Terran)- Some religiously-inclined people have chosen to adopt the beliefs of the Mystics, or co-opt them into their own belief systems.

● Archaeological Digs (any) – While the Mystics show disinterest in the ancient ruins long the habitable ring, most other powers find them fascinating.

● Shipwreck (any) – Landing on Horus is more difficult than on any other planet, and the surface outside of the ring more dangerous, but wrecks may be survivable if help arrives quickly.

● Monestary (Order of Hotep)


The Planet Horus is about information. Incidents and Outcomes here should likewise revolve around information: long-buried secrets, communication, prophecies, and conspiracies should inform play here. Here are a few idea seeds for Horus Incidents:

● A Mystic has seen corruption at the Imperial Academies of the Undying Empire. Will the news be suppressed or made public? Will either France or the Undying Empire have the audacity to violate the Mystic’s Order’s sovereignty, risking a war?

● Mercenaries in support of one side in a brushfire war on another planet seek to buy knowledge of the other side’s plans. Will they succeed and end the war on their terms, or cause it to escalate and spread? And what interest do the Superpowers hold in the outcome?

●A working piece of prehuman technology has been discovered in an ancient ruin, one powerful enough to alter the balance of power. What price will be paid to keep it out of-or into- the wrong hands?

●Pilgrims from different religions compete over what they both claim is a Holy Site on Horus. The Mystics, vehemently against the idea of war on their planet but powerless to stop it on their own, seek assistance from the Superpowers.

●Diplomats seeking to end a long-time conflict have agreed to meet on neutral ground, on Horus. But one of the ambassador’s Seabird has suffered a malfunction, crashing it in the lifeless tundra or sweltering deserts beyond the habitable ring. Can they be rescued? And who might benefit if they aren’t?


The only spacefaring Power on Horus is the Order of Hotep. Their brand of Mysticism has lead them to intimate knowledge of medicine and the human body, skills they provide freely to those in need.

Mappa Mundorum: Status Update

September 9, 2009

Work on the First Draft proceeds.  In paricular, I’ve written up the introduction, an Overview, the Background, the setup rules (apart from the online Agenda selection, since that’s not yet satisfactory), and the Map/Ship/Movement rules.   If I write more today, I’ll skip ahead and do at least one Planet writeup, changing gears to a mostly flavor section for a while.  I’ve got the five of them to do, plus the Incident rules, and then I’m mostly done.  (I may revisit the sample map, since I need to put some Great Solar Storms on it and that may inform some more interesting paths.)

Not much has changed, rules-wise, since the posts where they came up.  I have decided to rename the Magic Resource “Starlight”, which works better flavor-wise and lets me claim the last Ingredient, which was an odd one not to have in a pseudo-SF setting like this one anyhow, but didn’t feel comfortable claiming simply on the basis of the Sun being a fairly strong presence.  I like the flavor of the new name, anyhow.

Crying Wolfman: Private, Random Distribution Problem

September 9, 2009

In my game there are five players, and six Agendas (victory conditions, basically).  I need to distribute them in a random, private manner: each player should know their own and only their own Agenda, and nobody should know which Agenda went unchosen.  In a face-to-face game, this is an utterly trivial problem: deal out five of six shuffled face-down cards and hide the last card away.

The problem is that I’m trying for the Al Gore award, with the game playable in a group of blogs.  So the tools I have are public, signed posts, signed comments, anonymous comments, and  temporarily screened comments.  And I’m willing to use the honor system in general, but not to the extent of expecting players to  not notice something that is blindingly obvious.  I can come up with procedures that do most of what I need to using those tools, but in all of them either everybody knows the unchosen Agenda or else one person knows and everyone else has it narrowed down to two possibilities.  Is there an obvious solution here that I’m missing somehow?