Search Results for: diplomacy

Diplomacy woos FPS fans :: More PAX plans

Ego-surf du jour: fans of (a mod of) the multiplayer shooter Battlefield 1942 discovered the Diplomacy show, and it inspired them to give the game a whirl themselves. They started a game over on webdiplomacy.net, and recent posts on the original forum thread are now devoted to international saber-rattling circa 1901.

The sight of hardcore FPS fans getting excited about discovering a board game (even one played electronically) due to a Gameshelf episode quite honestly delights me.


In other news, I've bought my registration to PAX East. I look forward to seeing what IF-related plans coalesce over the next few months, and to meeting lots of y'all. Eager to see the show beyond that, too; not counting SF cons, the only game-related event I've attended is the rather modestly sized Origins Game Fair, so I'm prepared to be completely unprepared for PAX.


Personal goal: by mid-March, I want to be able to say, with a straight face, that I produce a TV show about games. I can say that now only with a lot of hemming and hawing about how infrequently it's published. So, I'd like to get at least a couple more episodes in the can by then.

I've begun production of episode 9, insofar as there is now a stack of index cards on my desk that more or less seems to outline the next 30 minutes of the pure gamish elucidation that only The Gameshelf can provide. With fairest winds, it'll be done before January. Stay, as they say, tuned.

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Diplomacy: Deleted Scenes (confessionals!)

As my disheveled and shaky-cammed head at the top of the above video explains, our shoot of the Diplomacy episode featured a "confessional cam" that players could operate in private in order to spill their guts about the game, even while it was still going on. They made great use of it, as did certain members of the crew, and other persons who happened to be in the house at the time...

I ended up not using any of this footage in the final episode, but it was too good to just leave on the cutting-room floor. So, I glued most of these bits together into a bonus episode, complete with a surprise twist ending. Enjoy!

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Episode #7 - Diplomacy

I am pleased to present the seventh episode of The Gameshelf, a product of over four months' work from both me and my totally stellar cast and crew. In this episode, we focus on a single board game: Diplomacy, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of its original publication this year. In usual Gameshelf fashion, we show you a game in play. But this is a very unusual game, so we took an unusual approach to filming it. I hope you enjoy it.

Watch it through the embedded player above, or download it as a high-quality Quicktime video file.

This was the most ambitious show we've ever made, and I am as proud of it as I am looking forward to returning to humbler (read: easier to edit) show styles.


Some show notes and links:


  • A Chicago Magazine profile of Diplomacy's designer, Allan B. Calhamer, from earlier this year. Describes the life of a trailblazing game designer in a time when the world wasn't quite ready to support his chosen passion, which is why he spent most of his life as a mail carrier. (He's now retired.)

  • The two websites I mention towards the end of the show:

    • The Diplomatic Pouch, a Diplomacy fansite with deep roots, collecting lots of resources related to the game. It includes an archive of a "Dip" fanzine nearly as old as the web, and links to print zine archives decades older.

    • WebDiplomacy.Net, an online implementation of Diplomacy with some pretty sweet graphics, and the ability to browse games in progress. This website was brought to my attention from Matt Sakai (Italy), who hadn't played Diplomacy at all before the weekend of filming, and then went on to play several games online.

  • Wizards of the Coast's Diplomacy page. As mentioned on the show, WotC is the game's current publisher, and kindly provided the copy we used to play.

  • This is the weddingest episode of The Gameshelf ever:

    • Kevin Jackson-Mead, who played Russia, flew off to real-life Russia the following weekend to get hitched. (He wrote a blog entry about his experiences there as a visiting gamer.)

    • Dave Heiman (Turkey) and Diana Mirabello (France) got married to each other earlier this month.

    I'm fairly certain that, in both cases, the weddings were planned well in advance of our game shoot. But who knows how existing passions may have been further enflamed by the desperate clash of anthropomorphized nation-states?

  • We set up a "confessional camera" (a MacBook with a webcam app loaded) in a closet. All the players (and some of the crew) made healthy use of it, but I ended up not using any of the footage so collected in the final show. I plan on releasing a "bonus episode" that will simply concatenate all the confessions into a single document of world domination.

  • This was the first episode of The Gameshelf filmed without any use of the Somerville Community Access TV studio, though I still made use of their camcorders, with gratitude. All filming took place in my home, including the greenscreen bits.

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The Work-in-Progress post

Diplomacy.pngAs you've likely gathered by some combination of the teaser and my Twitter blathering, the next episode of The Gameshelf is going to focus on Allan B. Calhamer's board game, Diplomacy, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. As a matter of fact, I've had the idea of dedicating an entire episode to the game ever since I first came up with the concept of The Gameshelf, knowing exactly what approach I'd take with it.

When, last spring, I was talking with a friend about getting back into producing the show, I decided on the spot that now was the time to make it happen. It would get me excited about working on the show again, and would also result in a damn fine half-hour of television. (If you're a geek for this sort of thing, anyway.)

I knew all along that it would be a challenge to make this episode the way I wanted, because Diplomacy is a very long game. So when I realized after the fact that three independently taping cameras times six hours equals way too much work, I really had no platform to complain from. When dealing with completely unscripted material, during which something usable might pop up at any moment, it takes me between three and four hours to review one hour of footage. Between logging, editing, recording voice-overs, and everything else, I've easily sunk more than 100 hours into the project so far, inching ever closer to the 30-minute-long final cut. I'm committed to finishing it, and I'll be glad to have done it, but it's highly unlikely I'll ever want to do something like this again.

However, while I've been slogging away at this, I've been plotting out what I want to do next with The Gameshelf. My relationship with games and game culture has changed over the last couple of years, and I've picked up new philosophy and inspiration from other people who have learned how to publish regular and frequent creative work on the internet. (See, for example, Scott Kirsner's excellent book Fans, Friends and Followers, or Ze Frank's seminal rant about Brain Crack.) This puts me in the interesting state of being really excited to work on The Gameshelf again - mission accomplished - and also really impatient with the work that still remains with the Diplomacy episode, since it doesn't resemble what I really want to do any more. All I can do is set my shoulders in a posture of grim resolve and try to put another hour or three into it every night until it's done. It'll turn out good, and you'll like it. Then I'll get to start really having some fun...

Kevin_Denis_Diplomacy.pngSo what does come after this? I don't want to spent much ink on it here, at least not until I've produced a couple of solid examples, because I'm a firm believer in the dangers of self-jinxing: to talk too much about a thing you haven't made yet is to let all the air leak out of your own inspiration for it. The teaser mentioned "new episodes", with-an-S-plural, in 2009, so feel free to hold me to that much. We'll see what happens.

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Episode 7 Teaser

Just a teaser for the next episode of The Gameshelf. Here's the Quicktime version.

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A rather frank Diplomacy ad

Diplomacy ad.pngHere's the top half of a banner ad for the latest edition of Diplomacy that I just spotted on BoardGameGeek. It's unclear whether this was designed by the BGG folks, or by Avalon Hill / Hasbro themselves, though there's no reason to think it isn't the latter case.


Even if that's so, I'm guessing it's a custom-produced ad for BGG, a very popular site with a huge slate of semi-apocryphal group-knowledge; all BGG fans know that Diplomacy's a great game that you should never play with anyone you care about. Even so, "buy this game because it will make you sad and alone" still seems an odd message to make so overt in your ad copy. It'd be like seeing an ad for Fluxx on BGG using the site's general attitude about that title: "Everyone in the world hates this game! How the hell have we sold almost 400,000 copies! Get yours today!"

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