I have been reluctant to post about this until I had some solid game design work completed for this project, but since I have no idea how long that will take, I figured I would at least throw this teaser out there.

So what is the Open Wargaming Initiative? Well, imagine a wargame system designed from the start to be open-ended and extensible. But more importantly, a wargame system that nobody "owns", or rather, we all own it together. Like Linux, the system and all its materials would be "open source" in the sense that they are free for anyone to do with as they like. Anyone can take the materials and productize them and sell them if they wish, but the free version would always be available to anyone who wants to download and construct the components themselves.

The larger hope is that the fan community for this system would contribute new rules and materials to the source repository, and the game system would grow and become richer for everyone's participation. Nobody is required to make their new rules or components freely available, but the spirit of the project would hopefully encourage people to do so anyway so that the system evolves and improves over time.

What I want to do is provide the first version of the game system myself--rules, counters, mapsheets, and player aids--as free PDFs on a repository website, and then let the wargaming community take it from there. The system itself is intended to be essentially generic, modeled after games like Blitzkrieg, Strategy I, and Field Marshal in that it would allow gamers to play out hypothetical campaigns on a hypothetical land mass over four different technological eras (ancient, gunpowder, mechanized, and high-tech). It would also allow for historical scenarios ala Ancients using mapsheets customized for particular battles/campaigns. The game system operates at two scales: campaign and operational. The campaign scale is best suited for large-scale conflicts in more modern eras (i.e., late gunpowder/early mechanized and beyond), while the operational scale is better suited to more detailed gaming of any era, though it is important to point out that the system is not intended to reach down into tactical scales (I'm not interested in introducing the complexities of LOS, for instance).

The tentative title for this system is Open Warfare and I have a skeleton design sketched out, along with some playtest components, but it is so far away from completion that it isn't even ready for peer review. Half the reason I don't have more developed already is that I am busy with other projects (like Napoleonic 20), and the other half of the reason is that the design ideas have not been as free-flowing in my brain as I would like.

Now, I don't know who else out there might find this idea intriguing, but if you do, let me know. If nothing else, a healthy exchange of ideas either here or on a CSW forum would be a positive addition to the effort. This is also your chance to tell me I'm insane and that this idea will never fly...

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Comment by Skip Franklin on March 24, 2008 at 9:44pm
Sounds similar in technique to the Gamers SCS series.
Comment by John Cooper on March 24, 2008 at 5:46pm
This idea was inspired largely by the community of wargamers who, over the years, kept expanding upon AH's Blitzkrieg game. The idea of a wargame that could evolve through new "modules" of optional rules hanging upon a simple-but-elegant basic framework led to many expansions. It also clearly inspired the even more modular Strategy I from SPI.

So the way I envision this, to start with at least, is that the basic game system would be constructed and all of its essential components would be uploaded for anyone to download and print. Then, the hope is that players will want to expand it by adding new rules modules for things (and levels of detail or complexity) not covered in the original version. New rules and components would be made available online right along with the core components. And should some enterprising soul wish to make a business out of printing/die-cutting/boxing the system as an actual product, then they will be encouraged to do so without requiring they first acquire a license or anything like that. The game system will be, in essence, completely public domain.

If others want to apply this basic principle to other designs, by all means, they should do so. My contribution to this concept is a particular game design that is intended to be open-ended and user-expandable. It isn't my intention to design Open Warfare by committee per se.
Comment by Don Lazov on March 24, 2008 at 3:03pm
John,

This sounds very interesting. We are talking about actual board war games or computerized ones?

I'd like to see the core components and basic rule sets to see what could be standardized and what not. While I am not into generalities, it would be neat to see if less abstraction and more realism could be introduced. It depends on the scope of the main project (if any).

If you want a consortium of 'designer/developers' then lets see 'whatcha got' so we can further confuse the issue with our own thought processes. If the chemistry fits great move forward if not tell us to scam.

Just my 3 cents.
Comment by Skip Franklin on March 24, 2008 at 11:10am
Don't use a D20. I see that AD&D is dropping this as well.
Comment by Pelle Nilsson on March 23, 2008 at 6:26pm
(Ooops. Two posts, and the delete button does not work...)

I think in general spending some time looking at the open/free RPG systems and how they work could provide some good ideas. They have after all been doing this for at least 10-15 years, and it seems to have been not a single board wargame made that way so far.
Comment by Pelle Nilsson on March 23, 2008 at 6:18pm
John, you know I'm with you about this (if you remember our mail conversation about 6 months ago), except possibly for some technical details (like using PDF files in the repository - I'm thinking more of something like a wiki, like I've seen they use for some open RPG system(s)). Also I would prefer working on many game systems in parallell to get more designers involved, and benefit from copying ideas and graphics freely between the projects sharing the same website. It would not matter to me if most of those systems were only empty stubs waiting to be filled in later, especially if editing could be done easily directly on the web (again, wiki-like).
Comment by Kim Meints on March 23, 2008 at 5:06pm
John,

Right now the whole idea sounds darn interesting;)

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