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rasqual
08-20-2005, 08:06 PM
Once there's a lot of action on the boards, how about this?

Process every single page view by players. For each possible action taken by a user, contrive a stock narrative element. "So and so was just examining the details on London." Stuff like that. For some possible actions, contrive several differing stock narrative elements: (a) "Joe Schmoe just added some troops to his 4th largest army," or (b) "Joe Schmoe just added 150 troops to an army in Shanghai," or (c) "Joe Schmoe just increased troop strength in his 4th largest army." The notion here is that real intelligence -- not all it sought, but often just picked up from random sources -- is often spotty, varies in detail, and isn't always as helpful as you want. It leaves one aching for more, but rewards those who can synthesize some sense of reality from its flow, turning raw data into useful information.

Imagine a tickler -- a lot like the current news tickler -- that just streams news bits and random crap like a river. It wouldn't be persistent on the server-side. Let's say it amounts to 3% of anything that happens during the preceding 24 hours -- and let's also say that some random chaffe is thrown in there for fun. Mickey should tap into Google news and deliver bloomin' Sports headlines in the middle of this stream, just to add the distractions that always come with useful information.

I think this kind of thing would be separate from the current "factoid enumeration" listing that updates regularly on several pages. Possibly some of the news there could go to the intel tickler, but a lot of what we're currently seeing could be construed as a source of reliable, non-random basic facts, a place simulating having an organized agency that keeps track of it all for the bureaucracy. The intel tickler, OTOH, would simulate the Fourth Estate, informal reports from citizens abroad, bloggers, and low-classification intel from military reports.

This isn't really the "spying" thing that's been discussed. This is "chatter," "noise," "news," "hearsay," to represent that middle ground of information that costs TIME and thought-power to process, but which could give clues for anyone ambitious enough to mine it for what it might be worth. It might be possible to infer significant aspects of an enemy's (or friend's) strategies by tapping into such a thing.

The stochastic element of multiple possible narratives, as in the second example above, is key. There are many less-than-exhaustive-and-precise ways to recount a particular factoid. And this is what the real world is like. People sourcing reports do NOT respect the later hearer's "Why the deuce didn't they see whether [something more specific, blah blah blah]." That's for the more formal spying exploits.

But I rant.