RogerBW's Blog

Flamme Rouge by Forum 21 February 2021

I have written and released software for running games of Flamme Rouge by forum.

It's a very good game for play-by-forum, because there's only one round-trip per turn (and round-trips from player to moderator are the thing that slows down PBF games): player sees their hands, player makes their plays, once all plays are in the riders are moved and start again. (I have made a small optimisation which relies on the players to follow the rules: the messages to the players show both their riders' hands, hidden separately, and they need to remember to choose one rider, look at their hand, choose a card, and only then look at the other.)

Some people expect this kind of game assistance software to be one great monolithic block, as it would be if it were designed to be played in real-time. That's not the way I work; this is more of a bunch of little programs flying in close formation (with some shared code). The Linux command line is where I spend most of my time already…

So for example there's one program that has the specific job of "take the cards played by a single player, verify that they're valid, and record them". That's all it does; then it dumps me back to a command prompt.

Another program produces an image of the current state of the track, using an internal vector system to produce a bitmap at whatever scale is wanted. (I'd have done them in SVG, but it's painfully hard to merge one SVG file into another with exact placement.) The curved sections are drawn with straight edges, because it was easier to get up and running quickly – but also because the correct placement of a rectangular marker on a small curved space to minimise overlap with other spaces is not at all obvious.

This part actually produced most of the potential complications: I'm using icons for weather (from the excellent which are CC-licenced, but because it's not always obvious just where a section of special terrain begins or ends (because, for clarity, my rider images take up most of the space in which they're placed) I also used some British road signs. I thought I'd have to replace them for the release. But it turns out that the Highways Agency document "Know Your Traffic Signs" (which has all these signs in vector format, so I can trivially pull them out in Inkscape) is released under the Open Government Licence, so I can use them in public too.

All the game state is stored in YAML files (I like YAML, at least the sane parts without the encoded-object extensions), and every change in state produces a new file, so I have a full history of the game to look through.

All the rules are supported, including the weather from the Meteo expansion. (Probably the most complicated rule, certainly the bit that had most bugs, is slipstreaming, which is rather simpler on the table.) The unofficial Grand Tour rules are also in play, so you can run multiple races in a row and get intermediate and final standings.

Doing this also meant coding up all the courses I could find, including some promo courses of which I don't have physical copies. If I'm missing any, let me know. But you can design your own too; the software uses the same notation as the course cards.

There's no support for bot players yet, nor any for Time Trial mode (which I've never played). Some time soon maybe.

The code is on Github.

  1. Posted by John Dallman at 10:16am on 21 February 2021

    The road signs format and licensing is rather pleasing.

  2. Posted by RogerBW at 12:03pm on 21 February 2021

    I rather suspect that, like most people who produce PDFs, they have no idea that it's possible to get stuff out of them again. But I'm not complaining, and I think this usage is reasonable.

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