Entity numbers are ugly

Rich Skrenta (skrenta@shadow.com)
Sat, 18 Dec 93 19:09:05 EST

I hope some folks are still around on the design list, and haven't
left for the holidays yet... :-)

The problem:

Entity numbers, while necessary for referencing units, are quite
ugly. The problem is slightly worse than it appears now; to
support enough units for a game with hundreds of players, I will
either have to go to five-digit numbers, or use an alphanumeric
code, as is done now for locations.

Why have codes? Why not just recognize the names?

1. Names would have to be unique.

2. Typing long names may be error-prone. For example:

Bastrestric ther Archymonaged

3. Parsing without the helper quotes is not reliable.

So if instead of:

give "Bastrestric ther Archymonaged" peasants 10

you typed:

give Bastrestric ther Archymonaged peasants 10

Your order would probably fail.

What can we do?

There are three possible solutions:

1. Simply decimal number entities, and ignore the ugliness
with four and five digit numbers.

2. Use an alpha-numeric code, such as base 36. "Osswid [p7x]"

3. Allow short player-chosen tags.

How would that #3 work?

unit bta # Bastrestric ther Archymonaged
form 17556 "Cirdan the Shipwright" cirdan cts

unit 17556 # Unformed noble
new orders for Cirdan...

Bastrestric ther Archymonaged (bta)
> form 17556 "Cirdan the Shipwright" cirdan cts
Cirdan the Shipwright (cirdan) stacks beneath us.

This is what happened above:

1. We are Bastrestric ther Archymonaged (bta). We wanted
to form a new unit. We chose a number from our unformed
nobles list, "17556".

2. We gave this to the FORM order along with Cirdan's name,
and a list of suggested entity tags: "cirdan" and "cts".

3. Cirdan is formed, we got our first choice for a tag.

4. Our orders for the first turn Cirdan exists must use the five
digit number, since we don't know what his tag will be for sure.

Suppose we didn't get our first or second choice for tags; tags must be
unique, and perhaps they've already been used. In this case, the computer
will choose a tag for you:

> form 17556 "Cirdan the Shipwright" cirdan cts
Cirdan the Shipwright (cts2) stacks beneath us.

Now we can either stick with this tags, or issue an order to try to change it.

Cirdan the Shipwright (cts2)
> tag cir cs cird
Now known as Cirdan the Shipwright (cs).


Name changes:

old tag new name
------- --------
cts2 Cirdan the Shipwright (cs)

Cirdan issued an order to try and change the tag by which he is referenced.
The second choice was not used, and we got it. Note that there must be
a new section in everyone's turn reports announcing all tag changes, so
people will still be able to correctly reference units.

The old tag will continue to work until the end of the turn, so orders
already sent in for the turn won't fail because of a tag change.

Please comment.

Rich Skrenta <skrenta@shadow.com>

Main Index  |  Olympia  |  Arena  |  PBM FAQ  |  Links