I thought I should provide a short update as to the progress, just to let those of you who have supported this important endeavour how close we are to production.

Map and counters – check.
259 Narrative Cards – check.
Player Boards – check.
Playtest VASSAL Module – check.
Playbook – check.
Rules & Player Cards – wip

We’ve been working on the Patrol feature for the Security Forces: the RUC, BF and UDR.

The highways and byways of Northern Ireland facilitate the movement of men and materiel for the paramilitaries, as well as being targets for them in hindering the countermeasures employed by the Security Forces.

Dohmnall has provided us with a simplification to the Military Checkpoint feature, which allows the installation and configurability of ‘chokepoints’ to the many roads that thread through Northern Ireland; there is to be one per County Seat, and this forces the Paramilitaries to take die rolls when they are encountered, similar to the Border Control feature that simulates the controlled ingress/egress between the North and the Republic of Ireland.

And there is the Belfast to Dublin railway, which has – like the various Towns in the map – key Economic Value as well as providing a traversable map feature.

I’ll endeavour to keep these updates a regular occurrence.

Progress Report

Finalising the Rulebook Scenarios, but progress expected to be minimal as I am about to experience what I envisage to be the most overwhelming few weeks of my 15+ years as a teacher here in Scotland.

IEEE/ACIS Paper Submission

I am delighted to be submitting a paper on the use of VASSAL in supporting the development of the analogue and digital versions of The Troubles to the IEEE/ACIS’s Workshop on Best Practices of Serious Games Testing.

1974 – Sunningdale

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Intrigued that there were two General Elections in 1974 (one in February, the other in October) I have expanded the number of Event Cards between this period from 5 to 25, in order to provide an intriguing ‘mini’ scenario that encapsulates an important event that many have said was replicated by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

The Sunningdale Agreement, delivered a shortlived power-sharing arrangement between Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland via a Council of Ireland; it collapsed in May 1974 after pressure from Unionist politicians and Loyalist paramilitary violence, which influenced the largely Unionist workforce to conduct general strikes.

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What is also compelling is the affect that the October Election in two seats in Northern Ireland would have five years on, leading to the installtion of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Government. (More here.)

IV Bellota Con

Arrivals from Spain! For my first Con!

I really haven’t had much time to prepare the two presentations I am scheduled to deliver at IV Bellota Con, Spain on Saturday and Sunday, but extremely excited about being afforded the privilege to participate.

ISM University of Management and Economics (Lithuania)

The Troubles serves as a perfect example on how to represent a complex political process in a simulation. The multifaceted faces of the conflict in Northern Ireland allowed discussing how to choose sides (and their goals) to be represented in the game, how the different parts of the process can be included and represented. This is particularly relevant, when talking about the armed conflict and the electoral struggle. The Troubles example served well when explaining the decisions that a designer has to make, when addressing political topics. Finally, it also allowed to discuss the difficult topics in simulations. Difficult in the sense of the conflict being recent, people still feeling the results of the conflict, and the divisions still there to an extent.” (Dr. Pijus Kruminas – Lecturer, research and innovation policy analyst)

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