Directions for using IRC for SimCapitalism game

This page describes everything you should need to know to get IRC up and running in order to be a player in the SimCapitalism IRC game. Please note that, in addition to these instructions, one player will need to start up the game program itself, using the instructions which have been e-mailed to Chris Klug.

What is IRC?

IRC is a protocol for talking to other people in real-time over the Internet. It works roughly as follows: you start by making a connection to an IRC server in some central location. Some IRC servers are huge, serving thousands of people at once, though the one we are using is a private server.

Once you are connected to a server, you join a channel, which is basically a conversation. The channel opens its own tab in your IRC client, in which you can read everything anyone on the channel says. Channels have names which start with the # character.

In addition to channel talk, you can have private conversations with other IRC users on the same server. Private conversations get their own tabs, and are only visible to the participants.

Installing an IRC client

In the interest of cross-platform support, i will be giving directions to install the Mozilla web browser, which contains the only cross-platform IRC client known to me. If you already have and know how to use a different IRC client program, there is no need to install Mozilla.

Download Mozilla for your operating system from this site at The download (which is large, sorry) will present you with a compressed archive file, which your operating system should be able to open. For Linux or Windows, this will give you an installer; for Mac, it simply opens a disk image containing the program, which you can run immediately. If you are using the Windows installer, make sure you tell it to install all components. In particular, the piece you need is the IRC client, named Chatzilla.

Running Mozilla's IRC Client

Start the Mozilla program you have just installed. Once in Mozilla, go to the "Window" menu, and select the item "IRC Chat". A window called "Chatzilla" should pop up. The window is divided into three panes. The top right (largest) pane is the connection record, in which you will be able to read things other people say. The left pane is the list of who is online in your channel (more on this later). At the bottom, there is a long skinny pane. This is the text box, into which you will type all commands and all message text.

Immediately above the text box, there is a row of tabs. (When you start the client, there will be only one tab, but we will add more in the next section.) The tabs determine which of your channels and conversations is currently active. The active tab determines both which conversation is shown in the top right pane, and which conversation the input you type into the text box enters. Switch active tabs by clicking with the mouse on the tab you want.

Joining the SimCapitalism IRC server and setting up your channels

Please note: the server i am instructing you to use is a private server. You have permission to access the server for the sole purpose of testing the game during the next week or two, but, if you decide you like IRC and want to keep using it, you will need to use one of the public networks, such as EFNet, instead.

In the text box of your Chatzilla window, type:

If you have not used Chatzilla before, a small dialog box will pop up asking you for a preferred nickname. Enter some short name for yourself (no spaces) in that dialog box. Chatzilla should respond with some welcome messages. This may take awhile, and the messages will be somewhat cryptic, but they can usually be ignored. Once the connection has happened, you will have two tabs, named "*client*" and "", and the "" tab should be active.

Now, you will join the channel named #simcap, which is the channel for public game messages, and for any table talk amongst the players. Type:

    /join #simcap
This should add a third tab, named "#simcap".

You will need one more tab, for exchanging private messages with the gamemaster robot, whose IRC nickname is gm. Since this is a private message tab, rather than a channel, open it by typing:

    /query gm
Note that, if the person running the robot has not yet started it, you will get an error, but the tab will still open, and will behave normally once the robot is running.

Interacting with IRC to play the game

During the game, the only two tabs to which you should pay attention are "#simcap" and "gm". When a tab contains new information for you, Chatzilla will beep, and the tab label will turn red.

Change the active tab by clicking the tab you want to view. Commands and text you type will be sent to the active tab, so, if you type text while "#simcap" is active, it will be sent to the "#simcap" channel. If you type text while "gm" is active, it will be sent as a private message to gm.

The gm robot ignores everything you say on the "#simcap" channel --- the channel exists so that you can read public information sent by the robot, so that you can talk to the other players in the game, and so that non-players can watch the game. Thus, any command you want the robot to interpret, you must send in the gm tab. In addition, if you type commands in the "#simcap" channel, other players will be able to see them, which may not be what you want.

Note that there are three possible game states:

  1. If no one has run the robot program yet, then any private message you send to gm will result in an error message from the irc server: "no such nick/channel". This is harmless.
  2. If the robot program is running, but no one has sent the start command yet (see the main game instructions and/or the gm's help page for start), then all commands except help will result in an error message from the gm user. This is also harmless.
  3. If the robot program is running and the game has been started, then commands you send to the robot are considered to be game moves. If they are valid commands at that phase of the game, they will affect your game position.
After the robot starts running, but before anyone uses the start command to run the game, everyone should get a feel for talking to the bot, and for what its error messages look like, by typing commands in the gm tab. Type anything you want (except for start). In particular, try
which tells the robot to give you a list of commands used in the game. After that, try
    help bid
to get the help listing for the bid command. Each command has its own help listing, which explains the syntax of using that command in-game, and you can request those listings at any time during the game.

That's all. Return to the main SimCapitalism instructions to find out how to play the game itself. Good luck, and happy gaming!