I'm in the process of taking one last look through some of the old Redscape threads, since I imagine Chad might decide he needs to pull the plug on it at some point soon. There was one thread over there that I thought was uniquely worth C&Ping over to the new site, which was a History forum thread where some of the original (join date in 2000) Redscapers recalled the origins of the site. I haven't copied everything from that discussion, as things drifted a bit from the subject of how the site got rolling. Below are the excerpts from that thread:
GMTom wrote:I'm not quite an original member.
I joined about 3 -6 months after Redscapes inception. The site was waaaaay different back then but it was similar as well, the site had several games all with maps posted, at that time I don't know if there was anything like it, at least I could fine nothing else (and I hunted a lot) .
Also similar was what seemed like a well established core of players that seemed to love to talk and talk. To be honest, I was simply a fly on the wall for a few weeks before registering and before making my first post. It seemed like they all knew each other so well, heck, who was I to jump into their discussions?
I did obviously jump in (look at my post total) and they welcomed me as a friend. That;s what i really like about redscape is the friendly nature of the site, everyone is welcome.
Riaz wrote:I tend to agree with Tom about the quality people on Redscape. You can have all the best players in the world, but, without good people, a gaming site cannot be successful. Thats probably what makes Redscape so great, I've never met a player in real life that I didn't like. I hope to one day meet every person I've played a game with, yes, even YOU Pawnmaker Wink
I think I fall into a similar category as Tom in terms of signup time, though I lag way behind in terms of service done to Redscape and the game of diplomacy.
As for memorable and infamous players, how can you make a list and not have Uhtar on it? Thats about as infamous as you can get!
geojanes wrote:Member 272 here.
The discussion boards have changed somewhat over the years. There were fewer categories, and I believe that more people participated (as a percentage of the total). The discussion on these forums after 9/11 was memorable, historic in fact. I wished they had been saved.
Ridculously Randy was one of the reasons the forums were so active. He was an articulate, affable, conspiracy theorist nutcase. He was equally sure to provoke laughter (chemtrails, anyone?) or outrage (promotion of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that no Jews died in the attacks of 9/11), and occasionally provide a link or an idea that had a kernal of wisdom.
While there was at least one time I would have kicked his ass if he was in front of me, I miss his wacky perspective.
From a gaming standpoint, it's too bad Uhtar doesn't play anymore. His record was something like 8 solos in 9 games. It was amazing the quality of play here when I first joined. I learned sooo much in those first couple of games, and as a FtFer who only first played on-line here, I came to appreciate that Diplomacy is probably better played on-line than FtF. At the very least, they are different games.
I wish Redscape magazine had caught on. I think there is a place for more designed conent, rather than ad hoc discussions. The first issue was great, and it would be great if someone tried it again.
Memorable games include: Christine taking a one center austria and bringing it to 14 centers before time expired (I forget the game name, but I watched it, it was amazing).
Blod Bad had one season where 11 supply centers changed hands
But there are a ton of others that were worthly of further analysis.
GMTom wrote:Andy and barry were original members who are still with us.
I also remember Stuart (a very young kid of maybe 12 at the time) and Brian (a college professor from North Carolina) from way back who are no longer around. One other I miss (not an original but a long timer) is PMTed, he started the NWO game working from my original WW4 map and a bit of input. I took it over from him, made several changes working closely together and then, baaam, he dropped out of sight. That was years and years ago.
Sir Daffyd of Carmarthen wrote:Member #32 Checking in.
Still alive and kicking. What's that quote, "rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated" or something like that.
I am not currently playing in any games but I might jump back in soon. Redscape is a good environment. Lot's of entertainment and there is also a good variety in games. I have had my issues posted with some variants types but the bottom line is if you don't like a particular Diplomacy game structure then don't play and just wait for the type that appeals to you. That is one of the good things about this site. And people are people, (some incredible, some to avoid, and most are decent) same as everywhere else. I do appreciate the quality of this site however.
As for slappy's query:
My candidate for greatest redscape citizen would be Keith Bailey. Perhaps not as active of some of the others but a quality guy and long standing veteran.
Infamous characters: whoever stabbed you last. I might be fairly infamous on a few peoples lists I suppose, but I think most people who have been around a while on the site have their friends and foes.
Memorable moments: I'll have to take the 5th on my own memorable moments on Redscape as you never know when you may want to reuse some of those strategies. I can say that when you plan comes together in diplomacy is really gives you some satisfaction (at least for me anyway). Some is by chance, but an awful lot is through effort. You reap what you sow type of thing. Some see LUCK, some see Labour Under Correct Unknowledge. That is, those that work strategically often are rewarded with good luck. I think that theory can apply to a lot of things, with the understanding that often does not mean always.
Lot's of memorable characters have seemed to have come and gone. Rediculously Randy was one for sure. It has also been interesting seening some others go from diplomacy neophytes to really good players. Perhaps they may not have had any direct dealings with me through match play but I have done a fair amount of watching from the sidelines in games I have not been involved in. You also see players change in tastes as well as Minister X has noted.
GMChad wrote:We experimented with a Redscape Magazine for awhile, but it ran aground after three issues. Anyways, here's a recap of the online interview Baron Ollie had with me about the founding of Redscape.
We all know what Redscape is today. Over 2000 of us frequent this site, play games, and participate in an online community that is second to none. But how did it all get started, and who is this guy who runs the place? Here is an introduction to the Diplomatic Corps' Don Miller Award winner for 2002, for Meritorious Service to the Diplomacy Hobby, and the site we have all grown to know and love.
How did you get started in Diplomacy?
Growing up, I had few friends who enjoyed playing boardgames; rarely could I coax someone into playing a game of Stratego, Axis & Allies, or chess. Myself, I was fascinated with games - particularly military simulations - and was greatly intrigued with boardgame design. I remember buying Diplomacy especially because it was a strategy war game NOT reliant on die-rolls for conflict resolution (something I loathed from playing Axis & Allies and Risk). I read through the rules, but as expected, never found the opportunity to play the game. The game went into storage and remained there undisturbed for nearly two years.
What gave you the idea for Redscape?
A friend of mine started dabbling in web design, and that inspired my own curiosity. Originally I created a website devoted to my interest in science fiction, but there was little content to distinguish my site from others or provide much interest to viewers. While searching for website inspiration, I stumbled upon my copy of Diplomacy resting dormant on my closet shelf and wondered if I could find and assemble six other "lost souls" online to finally play the game.
As luck would have it, the Avalon Hill website had a message board for people (like me) looking to find email opponents for various "grognard" boardgames; Diplomacy included. Jackpot! I contacted a few people and quickly found my way into a PBEM game as a replacement Austria. Alas, I played all of one turn before the game was cancelled due to sufficient lack of interest. Not to be deterred, I offered to take over as GM of a new game and invited the remaining players to join. I had a few accept, one of whom was the GM, Pete Chace (who soon proved instrumental in getting Redscape started). I went back to the Avalon Hill message board and succeeded in drumming up enough players for a new game. One of the players who accepted was Andy Baker (GMAndy).
What does Redscape mean?
"Redscape" is the title of a short story I wrote for a Creative Writing course in college. My story was profoundly inspired by my childhood reading of Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles": where Mars was depicted as a warm, desert planet laden with mysteries.
I decided the title would likewise make for a good website (domain) name, as the name's ambiguity would lend well to any sort of creative content I wanted to cover, be it science fiction, artwork, storytelling, or gaming.
Sounds like interesting reading. Care to release it to us for inclusion in a future issue?
Although I wrote the story for a Creative Writing class, I envisioned the story best as a short animation work. Regardless, I've been meaning to get some more writing done and I want to polish the story slightly, but I would like to include it in a future Redscape magazine issue.
How did Redscape begin?
Although I was hosting a game of Diplomacy, I still wasn't playing a game of Diplomacy. Pete Chace soon offered to host a game and I was able at last able to play the game. With these two games running, it was easy to see something was missing with playing strictly over email; notably, players couldn't observe each other's games or fraternize with one another. Itching to do something with my idle webspace, I designed a site where players could choose a game from a main menu and then browse the map, results, center counts, and press statements for that game. At that time, all the webpages had to be manually created and uploaded by me and Pete Chace, but from a player's viewpoint, it looked like a Diplomacy game interface.
What happened then? How did it become a community beyond the buddies you had in those first two games?
I wish I had been keeping a journal of how the site matured! The best I can remember, it was a combination of word of mouth and having Redscape added to the Diplomacy web ring to attract new players, along with the inception volunteer GMs being first-rate - GMAndy, GMBaj, GMKib, GMTom, King in Yellow, Brian Tanner and Pete Chace - to name just a few. Even to this day, I still haven't done any advertising beyond search engine listing, partly in order to keep my workload manageable.
Has everything gone according to plan?
Definitely not. The first attempt (with Gary Pennington) at producing an automated Diplomacy program, Webjudge, started off like a dream come true, but soon fizzled out. In retrospect, some of the blame for that is mine, as I didn't formalize a design document and several times Gary had to undo hours of coding work to accommodate changes. However, this project was caught up in the "tech bust", and Gary's position with Sun Microsystems came into jeopardy and he had to put in overtime at his job just to stay employed. The overtime, and family responsibilities, sounded the death knell for the first WebJudge attempt.
What happened to Gary anyway?
I have no idea. I contacted him a few times but never heard back from him.
Have there been any surprises along the way?
That this site is still going - and growing! - is still the most wonderful surprise I experience every day.
How is the Webjudge coming?
The new WebJudge work will begin in June, with a new programmer this time, David Psurny. The plan is to use the already-scripted Ken Lowe judge code as the Diplomacy adjudicator and house the user features in a separate shell. This shell can then communicate with any game adjudicator, not just Diplomacy, and the forum scripting. This will allow players to access and utilize their personal settings wherever they are on the website.
Our estimated completion time for the WebJudge is December, 2002. Testing will probably begin around October.
Do you have anything like a development timeline for Redscape?
No definite timeline, other than the WebJudge to be fully operational by December. The completion of the WebJudge will mark the beginning of Redscape v2.0.
Aside from the Webjudge, can you give us a taste of any other upcoming changes in the works?
Definitely the main site pages covering the RHR (Redscape House Rules) need to be completed and the launch of the Redscape magazine is an obvious addition (thanks Shane!). Aside from those details, the goal is to continue broadening the site to encompass all strategy boardgames.
What does it REALLY cost in terms of time and money to keep a site like this up and running?
Present costs are $150/month. That pays for a dedicated server and decent bandwidth. I originally upgraded to a dedicated server in anticipation of the first WebJudge. A dedicated server isn't necessary to operate the forums, but it is teaching me how to operate one (in anticipation of the next WebJudge).
Time on the other hand is another matter. It goes without saying there is no way I could run the site without the Redscape and volunteer GMs assisting me. Daily administration and maintenance for me requires around 1-2 hours a day. It is finding the time for writing, designing, and programming additional pages for the site that eludes me.
What do you envision Redscape's place in the Diplomacy world to be?
Simply, the best place to play online Diplomacy!
I don't really expect the site to compete with compendium sites like the Diplomatic Pouch. Instead, the Redscape site is first and foremost about community. Having a place to play and socialize in a fun environment is what Redscape is all about!
What is your favorite power to play and why?
Truthfully, I don't have a favorite power. With all the site responsibilities, finding the time to think any more about Diplomacy by playing actual games could be hazardous to my health!
Thanks again, Chad for agreeing to the interview, and for Redscape. This is one heck of a site and getting better every day!
Machiavelli wrote:I actually wasn't an original member of Redscape, but showed up shortly after it was launched (for Game #7, a fleet Rome variant called "Hornblower," which was run by Brian Tanner). Uhtar trashed me in that game (which was also his first) by sticking a knife into my 11 center Austria with his 10 center Prussia. I haven't been able to get comfortable in an alliance since. GMTom arrived for the next game, ("Harbinger"). Here before me were GMAndy (whom I haven't heard from in a month of Sundays and Colin Bilasky.
Chad can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Redscape got started in early 1999. The first iteration I saw was a black-bordered title screen with the Dip logo in the middle that clicked through to a black-backgrounded screen with, I think, map thumbnails from ongoing games. There were never more than 8 or so games running at a time, so that format worked pretty well. It also had some sort of bulletin board function, but as I recall the threads were only sorted chronologically, so you never knew what you'd find.
As I recall, the (more-or-less) current site launched on February 11th or 12th of 2000, and I was among the first dozen or so to sign up, but there was some technical issue that caused those first sign-ups to be wiped. My wife's birthday falls on the 16th, and I think we took a romantic weekend, so I didn't get back to re-register until the 17th, dropping me all the way to member #39.
An interesting and entertaining ride it's been. Chad deserves major kudos for putting it all together (actually, he deserves more than kudos, I'm gonna drop him a long overdue "paypal" tip). I rarely have time to play Dip anymore, but the constant development of the discussion forums (which Randy certainly helped midwife, but which really owe their existence to the Clinton/Lewinsky/impeachment affair) continues to fascinate.
GMChad wrote:I registered the Redscape domain name on November 1st, 1997. However, I don't believe the site was geared up for (Diplomacy) gaming until October 1998.
GMTom wrote:Barry is close to nailing many points but he was here before me and Harbinger was not my first game. I joined in the very early stages of Redscape, I think it was in February-March time frame of 1999. I actually was following the site for a month or two before registering so dang, I'm even earlier than I thought.
At that time the site was sooooo small, I felt like an outsider to this small group of players. They all knew each other so well, I felt like I might not be welcome... I was wrong! Our bigger size helps make people feel welcome a bit more I hope? A small group of say 50 people is more "daunting" than one of several thousand!
Junkoman wrote:I was a mere lad of 16 when I joined this site for my first game of online diplomacy. I must be an anti-Uhtar. My survival record isn't even as good as his solo record.
King In Yellow wrote:I started playing here in August of 1998. I remember Machiavelli, GMAndy and GMKib and GMWill and of course Chad from the very early days. Tamerlane and PMTed were around very ealy as well. Not sure when Muad Dib started in, but it was pretty early as well.
I believe my first game was entitled Game 3 (yes games used to be numbered).
Great place to play all games, I must admit I have made some very good friends here, though I generally don't play Diplomacy anymore.
Andy wrote:As Scott mentioned, Game 3 began in August 1998. Chad contacted me in July (as he mentioned, Avalon Hill maintained a list of people interested in playing games via email) but I told him that I couldn't play because I was going on vacation. He contacted me after my vacation to tell me that there was an opening, so I joined the game. Game 4 opened one or two months later and I joined that game, too. A few months later, Chad asked me if I would GM a game and I agreed. I GM'd a number of Diplomacy games during the next few years (never more than two at one time) and then switched to Advanced Civilization. Lately, I have been very busy with other activities, so I am only involved with the annual Patriot Games tournament.
der Blaue Reiter wrote:I only get a chance to browse the forums irregularly now, but for awhile there I was a relatively significant contributor.
Great to re-read all these thoughts tonight.
As for Slappy's original post, I'm definitely up for a rejuvenated book club--Jeff (McBeth) knows where to find me if I don't reply to forum invites. Clued me in to some great works.
Great moments in dipping, I suppose I'll toot my own horn with a bit of self-consciousness, only because I know no one else will and people occasionally ask about this kind of event. I believe I was the first to be part of a round-the-map convoy: PG2, I was Italy, Corruptone was Turkey, we got my A STP-Syria just as I scored my 18th center for the win.
Other than that my most memorable game would have to be Olympians. On that note the one guy that gets my competitive drive going the most (when I'm not working with him Smile ) is Frost. With Uhtar I can still be laughing with multiple knives protruding out of my chest...but alas he's sworn off this silly thing.