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All our games at Software Simulations and Ab Initio Games (and our associate companies) are being adapted to use email and the internet. We are developing so that orders can be submitted by email via a dedicated website and results can be sent to you via email for you to print off yourself or read on-line.

The advantage of using the internet for play by mail games is that it is quicker and cheaper to use than printing and posting game reports and turnsheets. An emailed game report can be in your hands within minutes of the adjudication (instead of days).

Using the website to input your orders is also quicker and cheaper. There should be fewer mistakes as the website checks what you've entered and will report many of the common errors and insist you fix them. Even after your orders arrive they're copied direct from computer to computer, so the GM can't make mistakes reading your handwriting or otherwise introducing extra errors you didn't make for yourself.

In the long run there may be other advantages and other things we're able to do, but for the time being we're concentrating on using the internet to improve the service for our existing games and new games under development.

To print out emailed game reports properly you need to be able to install and run our Windows printer utility. This is available as a download from our "active website", or we can email it to you as an attachment if you prefer. There's also an early prototype that can be used on a DOS computer with some types of printer, and we expect to be able to offer a Linux version of the utility at a later date (if someone wants to work on a version for Macs then we'd be happy to help).

The printer utility is needed because game reports with printer control codes inside them don't transmit reliably by email, and because we'd need to know what sort of printer you wanted to use and which printer driver and operating system were installed on your computer.

To be able to access the "active" website at www.softsim.co.uk and use the online turnsheets you must first request a user name and password from your GM. Once you've got these you can enter the website and register individually for each game you're playing.

If your email and internet access is at work then you may find you're not able to use the system. You might not be allowed to install the printer utility on your system and some companies are very restrictive about which websites you can access.

As well as adapting our existing games for play by email we're also developing a new range of games specifically for the internet. The main difference is that we're designing these to have much simpler reports that can be viewed on-screen and printed direct from your email program or web browser. Look out for more news of these games when they become available.

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