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Feature request - command line option for starting an incoming email game


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I have four PBEM games on the go right now in CMBN and some games are going smoothly with one turn per day and others slower. I have to keep looking at file numbers in my Incoming Email and Outgoing Email folders to correctly determine if I am waiting for a turn or I owe a turn for the various games.

I have things setup nicely for most of them to use Dropbox and a file sync tool to automatically get and send turns. See this thread for an explanation of how I have this setup: http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=97839

I am planning to write a little app to help me identify which game(s) I need to play a turn for and which I am waiting for a turn from. Of course then I thought about all the other things I could do. One of which is start CMBN with the right ema file open. So I tried executing the game passing the ema file path as a command line argument and it did not use the file path.

I found this thread which seems to indicate that there is no command line support but there was nothing officially stated: http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=96968

Can someone officially say that there is no command line arguments supported? Can someone official say that there are and here is how to use them? How about unofficially? Is this something that is planned?

Typically the work involved in supporting a command line interface is one of those things that can be simple if you only offer a few options but can quickly grow at an astonishing rate. But given how good the CM developers are at prioritizing feature work I am sure you guys could come up with a few useful command line options that would not cost a huge amount of work.

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No, there's no command lines option. It's something I'd love to see.

There's a (VB?) utility called PBEM Helper out there somewhere that does a lot of the automation. It actually fakes screen clicks so doesn't need an API, it moves files into the correct directory, creates sub-dirs to hold ongoing games and launches an email client with the return emails. It supports several games, not just CM.

A man who was brave and just could take PBEMH and modify it to run BN. He would be assured the adulation of the masses and would be assured his place in heaven.

Are YOU such a man?

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  • 1 month later...

Since I have not heard anything on this topic here is my proposal. This is what I would consider to be a bare bones simple as possible set of command line options that would allow many third party helper apps (PBEM helper apps, find scenarios and campaign apps) to offer a much richer experience to your customers. In fact calling it a set of options would be a gorse exaggeration.

There would be one and only one command line option passed - the file name. No paths, no drives just the file name. Based on the extension the program will determine where to look for the named file (all under the "Game Files" folder tree).

I know this does not allow controlling of game settings, resolution and all the other things you could think of. Nor does it do anything for map / scenario editing but that's the point. I am suggesting a starting point - minimum, simple. The kind of thing that could be implemented in a patch even;)

Here is what the hypothetical command line help would look like:

CM Normandy [filename]

[filename]

the name of the single file CM Normandy will open

The [filename] must be the name of a file plus its extension found under the game's "Game Files" directory. The game will look in its "Game Files" directory tree according the following rules:
  • *.cam

    Will load a new campaign using the specified .cam file from the "Game Files/Campaigns" folder. This is equivalent to starting the game and picking the "Campaign" command from the main menu and then selecting the campaign.

  • *.btt

    Will load a new battle using the specified scenario file from the "Game Files/Scenarios" folder. This is equivalent to starting the game and picking the "Battle" command from the main menu and then selecting the scenario.

  • *.bts

    Will load a previously saved game from the "Game Files/Saved Games" folder. This is equivalent to starting the game and picking the "Saved Game" command from the main menu and then selecting the named saved game.

  • *.ema

    Will load a PBEM game from the "Game Files/Incoming Email" folder. This is equivalent to starting the game and picking the "Saved Game" command from the main menu and selecting the PBEM game from the named game list.

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Quite some time back I proposed to BFC a command line option for starting a game. It is such a simple and obvious thing to streamline the "game playing experience".

We could debate whether this should be a single file or a command line option set. Personally, what I want to see is

CMBN -game <saved game fie name> -password <password>

But I'd cheer for anything of this nature - I'm longing to enable H2HH Helper to actually start the game that it's helping you with, like the old PBEMH did.

GaJ

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No, there's no command lines option. It's something I'd love to see.

There's a (VB?) utility called PBEM Helper out there somewhere that does a lot of the automation. It actually fakes screen clicks so doesn't need an API, it moves files into the correct directory, creates sub-dirs to hold ongoing games and launches an email client with the return emails. It supports several games, not just CM.

Are YOU such a man?

PBEMH source code is not available... ages ago Fuerte declined to share it.

I don't think the mechanism it uses for pressing buttons works for CMBN anyhow.

A man who was brave and just could take PBEMH and modify it to run BN. He would be assured the adulation of the masses and would be assured his place in heaven.

Have you looked at H2H Helper.

H2HH.jpg

It does everything I can think of that you might want, except actually start the game ... for this we either need CMBN command line option, or someone needs to tell me how to press the buttons on CMBN...

GaJ

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PBEMH source code is not available... ages ago Fuerte declined to share it.

I don't think the mechanism it uses for pressing buttons works for CMBN anyhow.

Someone pointed me to some source code a while back. I am not sure if it was for PBEMH or if it was for something similar. Anyway it used VB to do its magic. I looked at the code for the button pushing and password entering and you are correct it will not work for CMBN. The older CM games used standard windows controls / dialog boxes to open the game file and there is lots of examples on how to manipulate a standard windows file dialog. However the new CM uses its own custom screen with a page scrolling area for game names. To a helper app it would look like a bunch of pixels - if you could even get at those. So finding the game name and scrolling the list on screen while theoretically possible would be way to much work than I am willing to under take.

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We could debate whether this should be a single file or a command line option set. Personally, what I want to see is

CMBN -game <saved game fie name> -password <password>

I'm in total agreement. This is something that I would personally really, REALLY like to see happen. It would be awesome to be able to launch CMBN from h2hh and have it automatically load the proper save game and pass along the correct password.

Frankly, I'm shocked that the CMx2 engine has been around for this many years without having this sort of functionality.

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Don't hold your breath: I haven't seen any feedback from BFC on this topic, or any interest in it from them.

I think they are more likely to implement their own H2HH style features to displace the community options, as they did with the repo: it makes business sense to be able to have control of the customers, hit them with advertising etc, keep them using BFC products and not anyone else's...

GaJ

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Don't hold your breath: I haven't seen any feedback from BFC on this topic, or any interest in it from them.

I think they are more likely to implement their own H2HH style features to displace the community options, as they did with the repo: it makes business sense to be able to have control of the customers, hit them with advertising etc, keep them using BFC products and not anyone else's...

GaJ

That is standard business thinking (I see it all the time in high tech businesses - it is usually the wrong way to go). But if you look at the success of some products, it is the openness to a community that made or bolsters their success.

For an example look at the Apple iPhone. Sure it is a good phone and if Apples and a few partners were the only ones developing apps for it it would probably still have some success. But open it up to any developer to join in and you can amp up our success. They can only use the tag line "There's an app for that" because of that openness.

The preceding comment is not meant as a criticism of GaJ but as encouragement for BFC to question their standard business thinking and move towards a better model.

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I used to get mixed up with if i have played the file or not.But we ended up making a couple of folders called incoming turns for ady and incoming turns for kev.So all you do is add the outgoing turns to the correct folder and then remove the done turns from you folder.

simples.

In fact if the other person is on and has drop box running you get a message saying files being removed.

So create a few folders and add and remove the files as and when you need them.

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The preceding comment is not meant as a criticism of GaJ but as encouragement for BFC to question their standard business thinking and move towards a better model.

No criticism incurred :)

I stated what I think BFC's thinking is, based on what we've seen before. I didn't say that I support it: quite the opposite: from the perspective of a community player and contributor, it sucks. It's just understandable using the logic that I described.

I wish BFC would be more supportive of their community and the massive volunteer effort that goes into it. But for better or for worse, the community is largely about H2H play, which clearly isn't their main money maker...

So create a few folders and add and remove the files as and when you need them.

Or use H2HH and have it do all that for you ;)

Except actually start the game, which would be nice, but would need a CMBN command-line option to do it...

GaJ

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  • 2 years later...

Pretty much crickets. If I recall correctly my more extensive suggestion to support community based tools requesting force selection for QBs, full causality reporting for game end, generating maps etc was rejected as too much work that would take away from the development of game features. Which is why I suggested this to at least get things started (pun intended).

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Yikes with the conspiracy theories, GaJ and Ian! :) This is just a regular old lack of time and other priorities*. Frankly, as a request it's not a) very visible / seen as broadly requested or B) very attractive due to the potential for breakage.

If you guys can make a strong case and convince Steve and Charles of the necessity / value of this, go for it. The fact that it could be used by H2HH is probably the strongest reason I see for its implementation.

* - In response to para: these are, notably, the usual logical reasons for not implementing every feature customers ask for, so if we haven't addressed the issue explicitly you can generally assume that's why.

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Yikes with the conspiracy theories, GaJ and Ian! :) This is just a regular old lack of time and other priorities*.

I searched again and could not find the thread. Bummer, I did not mean to create a conspiracy theory. I fully understand that this is just about time and priorities.

I just wish support for external tooling would make it up the list enough to get some actual attention - starting with command line launching.

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... The fact that it could be used by H2HH is probably the strongest reason I see for its implementation.

...

Well, considering the - let's not mince words here - immense help that H2HH provides for the day to day management of one's PBEMs, I'd say that implementing this would reach/affect a lot of your customers.

The fact that there isn't a groundswell of people making this case is probably down to the fact that many people are not computer geeks and are probably unaware that this is a possible improvement.

Hell, you should probably have at least a mention of H2HH on the site for people who don't necessarily frequent forums ;)

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  • 1 year later...

Opening ability for mods or even command line options can only help. Look what happened to Arma when community started to mod it and add its own launchers and mod managers. It went in direction no developer even imagined.

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