03-24-2011, 03:21 PM
I absolutely agree that some games could do with less obfuscation. But I'm not sure that games in general have become more simulation-y.
Originally Posted by Ben Sones
That might be the case for flight sims and wargames, but if you consider FPSs I think they have gone on the opposite direction, and I hope I'm not derailing the discussion too much.
Strategy games in general can benefit from simple rules because then you can actually know the system enough to formulate strategies.
However, I feel that FPSs are very different in that you rely more on seeing the world around you and having an intuitive understanding of how the game systems work. Because of this, I think they benefit from being simulation-y, since you understand the the effects of the simulation, and they'll be more satisfying because there will be more to explore.
What I'm trying to say, and I'm not sure if I'm succeeding, is that in strategy it's desirable to be able to enumerate each state and transition between states so that you can make informed choices, but in FPSs you will naturally know how everything works because you see it happen (like the physics puzzles in half-life 2).
Of course, I also think that some strategy games and wargames can benefit from intuitive visual information and can actually work, like Combat Mission. But that might be because with CM you can see everything happen 100 times to know exactly what happens.
As much as I like RTS games, I have never been able to truly understand why things happen in a certain way or another during a game. I'm sure that if you spend enough time with an RTS you'll get an intuitive understanding of the system, and then you'll be capable of telling if a certain tactic is a good move or not.
So I think strategy games are more susceptible to system obfuscation than other genres.
03-24-2011, 05:24 PM
My old brain surgeon friend: just wanna say how much I miss reading your stuff on a regular basis.
Originally Posted by Brooski
03-25-2011, 07:12 AM
The apocalypse is nigh. HPS Simulations is selling a download only version of one of their games, Greek Wars.
03-25-2011, 08:44 AM
As part of the overall reshuffling of things after John Tiller set up his own shop (which offers digital downloads, and only digital downloads), it appears HPS is starting to move into the new century as well. Prices seem to be coming down a bit across the board too.
Originally Posted by Lake
03-25-2011, 08:56 AM
Greek Wars is great stuff too. The more I play it the harder it is to fire up Field of Glory. I like the simultaneous turn system it uses and the fact the manual is actually informative and fun to read is a huge advantage over FoG in my book. There is also an ongoing blog/dev diary here which has helped me a ton. I think itís a great series and the devs deserve a lot more attention than what they get.
By the way, if anyone wants to play a small/medium scenario from either Greek Wars or Tunisia '43 send me a PM!
03-26-2011, 11:56 AM
I miss writing it. Thanks.
Originally Posted by JeffL
03-26-2011, 12:12 PM
I really wish there was a demo. Your description sold me, but I won't buy it until I know if it plays well with Wine or not.
Originally Posted by The Bird Flu
03-26-2011, 01:01 PM
Anyone playing the new Matrix effort, Combat Command? It looks 18 years old.
03-26-2011, 01:06 PM
It is. Or it's at least ten years old. It's a re-release of an old Shrapnel Games product. The developer, Boku Strategy Games (Horse & Musket series) changed publishers.
Originally Posted by moss_icon
03-26-2011, 02:53 PM
Yea HPS really needs to get some demos and more digital downloads on their site. I'd spend a lot more money on their games if they did.
Originally Posted by tiohn
There is a youtube video of some gameplay here but I think it only shows the zoomed in 3d mode which is horrible for anything other than watching the turns play out. I do everything from the 2d overhead map and then switch to the zoomed 3d mode to watch the carnage.
My only complaints so far are that the graphics are rather ugly and the UI is horrible but I went in expecting that.
03-26-2011, 03:04 PM
Originally Posted by Brooski
03-27-2011, 06:21 AM
I wonder if my grognard days are over. I still can't find an acceptable war game. I tried the demo of Command Ops and just didn't get it. I had my game up and the little Youtube demo going at the same time, but it didn't grab me whatsoever. What was especially shitty was that I didn't see any feedback on the fighting between units. I clicked probably every box I could find, but found nothing. I uninstalled the demo.
I tried AEGOG's Civil War offering again - one I bought and never could get into - and then quickly remembered why. Not only is the tutorial in such small type that it's almost impossible to read, but it's littered with mistakes to the point I consider it unforgivable. I didn't even get through the first tutorial before uninstalling. I think this game holds the dubious distinction of being the single biggest waste of gaming dollars I've had in the last 10-15 years.
Downloaded the old Steel Panthers game. I guess it doesn't work on new video cards, because the screen was all fucked up in terms of colors/graphics. I didn't feel like messing with it, so it was quickly deleted.
Still looking at Korsun Pocket or maybe Grigsby's American Civil War. But right now I'm feeling more than a little gun-shy, because neither have demos. For cryin' out loud, I used to play Patton vs. Rommel. Combat Mission. Panzer General. All the old V for Victory games. TOAW. The original Empire and many, many more. What happened to my old genre? >.<
Last edited by Blackadar; 03-27-2011 at 06:35 AM.
03-27-2011, 07:14 AM
Blackadar, post #5 of this thread may help you with Steel Panters.
03-27-2011, 08:44 AM
About AACW, did you update to the latest patch? I installed it the other day with the intent of finally getting into it, and with the manual, spelk's AAR, and the tutorials I feel like I'm getting a decent grasp of it, even if the interface does get a bit crowded. It's probably because I'm playing it at 1920x1080, but I haven't noticed the tutorial text as super small. The Gamersgate version at least came with several documents, including a separate PDF for the first tutorial, with associated graphics.
Originally Posted by Blackadar
03-27-2011, 10:19 AM
Yeah there's something about the way that Ageod designs their interfaces that is really offputting. I usually find the graphics of their games incredibly appealing, and dig the subjects they cover. Yet I've tried to work through various demos three or four times and always end up feeling defeated by the tiny text and shrunken buttons. It's a shame because I really want to like their games.
For all their faults of their games, I find Paradox UIs attractive and generally functional. I was hoping some of that might rub off on Ageod after their merger or buyout or whatever, but there doesn't seem to be any sign of that yet.
03-27-2011, 11:04 AM
No, because I don't think it addresses any of my problems with the game with incorrect tutorials, tiny text and a host of other issues. There's something obtuse about it that I just can't get past and my level of patience (or at this point, forgiveness) with this particular game is just too limited.
Originally Posted by Mitya
One of the main problems with this particular genre - and Matrix in particular - is that the games simply cost too much for far too long. If Battle of Normandy was $20, I'd have picked it up already. But Matrix wants to charge $50 (download!) for a game that came out in 2004. Korsun Pocket is a bit more reasonable at $30, but that's still high for a game released in 2003 - also when KOTOR, Vice City and Simcity 4 were released. There's a chance that if I liked Grigsby's War Between the States, I'd like something like the Eastern Front game. But $50 is a little high for a 3 year old game with no demo and so I haven't pulled the trigger.
As such, the price "risk" of entry is just sometimes too damn high. I'm frugal with my gaming dollars and this genre - and pretty much ONLY this genre - makes it both costly and risky to acquire new products.
At least Battles in Normandy has a demo...downloading that right now. EDIT: What a complete waste of time that was. I've seen better graphics on games from the Windows 3.1 era, never mind they couldn't bother putting tutorial information in, ya know, the tutorials.
Last edited by Blackadar; 03-27-2011 at 12:23 PM.
03-27-2011, 11:32 AM
Another good matrix title with a demo is Hannibal: Rome and Cartharge in the Second Punic War. You can find it here. The demo actually lets you play the entire game in beginner mode which is more than enough to help you make a decision on the purchase. Don't let the fact it's beginner mode fool you, the AI is absolutely brutal. It's actually a little similiar to an Ageod game with a decent AI and great documentation.
03-27-2011, 01:19 PM
Thanks for the suggestion, but the graphics in that game just hurt my eyes. The screen shots show a bunch of text that's not all that easy to read and some crudely drawn hieroglyphics. Maybe that's true to the time period, but it makes it harder for me. Plus, the time period holds very little interest for me.
Originally Posted by The Bird Flu
I tried the demo for Strategic Command, but that just didn't click either. Probably has something to do with the demo running for 14 minutes before I had even a chance to move my troops...not to mention being pretty butt-ugly. I'm not a graphics whore, but it is 2011 and that game looks worse than the 15 year old Panzer General 2.
I kinda liked Forge of Freedom some years back...that is, when the game worked (which wasn't all that often when it was released). But the deal breaker on that game were the horrible victory conditions. The one game I did get to work some years back, I remember that my Union troops had captured everything but VA by 1963...and still was losing on the victory conditions. That's beyond screwed up and I gave up on the game.
Frankly, the best demo I've played thus far is Empires of Steel. But it's little more than a remake of the game Empire from what, 25 years ago? Good interface and quite colorful, but probably not deep enough for me.
03-27-2011, 01:28 PM
Blackadar, you keep complaining about graphics. If that's an issue for you, you aren't going to find many wargames that you will like - it's simply not part of what they provide. You'd be better off looking at more mainstream strategy titles like Total War or something, but they tend to sacrifice realism. At the same time, its pretty clear you have no patience to actually spend trying to overcome whatever learning curve these games are going to put in your face. Again, that's something that is typical of wargames.
So yeah, maybe your grognard days are over. Grognards put up with sub-par graphics, steep learning curves, and marginal UIs because we care more about the subject, the realism, and the challenge of the AI or the quality of the MP experience. Just like we used to put up with the complicated rules of games like Third Reich even when Axis and Allies was easier to play and those plastic figures looked neater then hard not to lose cardboard chits.
Last edited by Sarkus; 03-27-2011 at 01:34 PM.
03-27-2011, 01:48 PM
It just ain't graphics, Sarkus.
Originally Posted by Sarkus
See the screenie Ben posted earlier this week of the Eastern Front? That looks fine to me. In fact, that looks pretty damn good. But some of these games look like absolute shit and some of these guys should be embarrassed to put this kind of stuff on the market. As I said before, a game from 2011 shouldn't look worse than a game coded in 1997. I'm not a graphics whore - hell, I still play text-based games, but some of these I just find to be atrocious.
Steel Panthers I can forgive for being old and not working with modern video cards - it is old. The Battle In Normandy demo looked nothing like the screen shots. Strategic Command looked worse than PGII. Those are the ones that I find the graphics off-putting to the point I won't invest any money or time in those. I'm sure there are a few more, but if I'm going to pay $50 or more for a game, I think asking for at least a crisp, clean presentation isn't too much to ask.
For example, I thought Command Ops looked good. I like the looks of AEGOG's Civil War game, it's just their tiny text + incorrect tutorials = bad play experience. Hannibal? Have little interest in the subject matter, funky text aside. I don't particularly like the look of Hannibal, but if I had an interest in the period I'd give it a try because it's not that bad.
P.S. - After E:TW, CA can go screw themselves. I have no desire to give those guys any more dough. Plus, those games aren't all that challenging, even on difficult levels.
And to address your edit(s):
No, I have no patience to spend time trying to figure out obtuse interfaces with no documentation. One demo said "open up your manual and follow along" or something to that effect. Follow the manual that's not downloaded with the demo. Um, ok. Uninstall. If they can't get that right, it leads me to believe they can't get much else right either.
Originally Posted by Sarkus
Games like Patton vs. Rommel, Combat Mission, Panzer General, V for Victory, TOAW, War in Russia, etc...they worked, they looked decent for their day and while they had a learning curve, they weren't obtuse. So why lower your standards? Why should wargaming get a free pass to stay in the mid-90s while the rest of PC gaming has progressed? Grognards put up with sub-par graphics, obtuse interfaces, bad documentation, lousy tutorials and the like perhaps because they don't demand anything better. Maybe that's the state of PC wargaming nowadays, but that doesn't mean that it's right. That's a bid sad, actually.
Originally Posted by Sarkus
I remember all those little chits. I still have my early 80s Squad Leader board game sitting in a box in my garage. Good times.
Oh, and if anyone wants my version of AEGOD's Civil War, they're more than welcome to it.
Last edited by Blackadar; 03-27-2011 at 02:06 PM.
03-27-2011, 01:56 PM
I'm not saying it's just the graphics, but you do keep mentioning them so its clearly an issue, as you admit. If its that important to you, you are going to miss a fair number of otherwise fine wargames.
As for TW, I was in the same boat. But even Tom likes Shogun 2 and my experience is that its the best TW game in some time. I've also seen a lot of people complaining about how hard the late game is. That may be a legitimate design issue, but it does address the "not very hard" complaint even if you don't like their solution to the problem.
03-27-2011, 01:58 PM
While I also had a hard time in the beginning, the way AGEOD designs their interfaces has kinda grown on me. There are a few things left that bother me a little, but overall I'm pretty happy with it.
It helps that they have half a dozen games by now that essentially use the same UI.
I also really like AGEODs approach to graphics - much moreso than Paradox's.
It's like EU2 taken to high-res 2D as opposed to the third-rate 3D of EU3.
I think AACW is AGEODs game with the richest set of options, but unfortunately it has the (completely historical) downside that the conflict is basically decided from the beginning. As soon as you know what you're doing, playing as the US basically guarantees victory against the AI, and as the Confederates, it's a lost cause unless you game the system or are incredibly lucky.
I purchased each AGEOD game so far except Revolution under Siege, because that one seems far too short. Maybe if it get's a boxed release outside Matrix or drops below $20 at GG.
Anyway, I'll definately check out that Hannibal game based on your description The Bird Flu, thanks for pointing it out.
03-27-2011, 02:16 PM
I can't bring myself to buy Shogun 2. I just can't give those guys any more money after E:TW - especially full retail price. It might be the best thing since sliced bread, but it's a no go. Er, let me change that - it's not that I can't do it, it's that I won't do it. I just won't reward a company that ripped me off.
Originally Posted by Sarkus
Graphics are an issue because if they're that ugly, it's a barrier to entry. But so is good interface design and a useful tutorial because I believe those are the hallmarks of a well-designed game. And it appears I'm not the only one who is griping about that in today's wargaming market.
03-27-2011, 02:33 PM
World's End Supernova
Blackadar--you mentioned that you liked Panzer General, so you might want to keep your eye on Panzer Corps, which is coming out this summer (-ish), through Matrix Games. It's a sort of spiritual remake of PG, and one of the people working on the project is the guy that did the great Panzer General Forever mod. I have high hopes for this game.
03-27-2011, 05:09 PM
Thanks Ben, I'll keep an eye out for the reviews on that one.
Alright, let's get back to talking about games. I think I have the list narrowed down somewhat. I'm looking at the following 3 games right now:
Grigsby's World at War: A World Divided
- Supposedly more of a "beer and pretzels" game
- WWII interests me
- $40 investment (cheapest of the bunch)
- Good reviews by more "mainstream" websites
- Fun Tom vs. Bruce article I found on the web. Good read. :)
- Too abstract?
- Too limited from historical results preventing real decision making or replayability?
- Oldest of the 3 games, perhaps more problems with engine and interface.
- Supposed issues with having to micromanage supply
Grigsby's War Between the States
- Excellent Reviews by wargaming websites
- Civil War greatly interests me as I like to punish Southern traitors ;)
- Looks like it might have more depth than WaW
- If general management is well done, it's something I'd like.
- No real mainstream reviews
- Higher price tag (by $10)
- If general management is tedious, I'll hate it like I dislike AEGOD's Civil War
- Is it too difficult to learn - i.e., do I have the patience for this game?
Grigsby's War in the East
- Very deep
- Interface looks very clean
- Chance to have large, strategic tactics over a large area...conduct grand battle plans
- Very deep
- This may be over my head. I like the detail in something like Champ Manager, but this might be overkill.
- Not quite as much interest in the subject matter as the other 2 games
- Too slow to play?
- Comparatively very large dollar investment
So if you've played one or more of the 3, what are your thoughts?
03-27-2011, 05:24 PM
WaW is basically a HOI clone, so what did you think about those games? It's a more simplified version IMHO, but that may appeal to you.
War between the State is the most simplified of that gen of US Civil War strategy games, at least from what I've read, and also the least popular. Like WaW its considered more of a casual title. If you didn't like Forge of Freedom or Ageod's treatment, though, maybe it will fit your needs.
War in the East is too expensive to take a risk on, IMHO, unless you played and liked the earlier versions. I'm surprised you are even considering this as it is one of the examples of bad design cited in your earlier link because of its lack of a tutorial to teach you game.
03-27-2011, 06:07 PM
HOI is a real time game and as such it was an automatic "no buy" for me as I dislike most all RTS games. I gave the demo a very short try some years ago, but it just felt so wrong in such a grand strategy game. I know you can pause, but the RTS aspect still ruins the game IMO. So comparing HOT to WaW doesn't mean much to me since one is turn based and the other isn't.
Originally Posted by Sarkus
FoF would have been fine had it not been very unstable on release and not had entirely laughable/absurd/unrealistic victory conditions. The tactical AI needed some work too, but that wasn't unexpected. Ageod's Civil War...meh.
Yeah, I know WitE is a pretty large risk, but it was one of the games mentioned when I asked about the best war game out there. But if it's pureaweomesacueBBQ, maybe it should be in the running.
03-27-2011, 06:58 PM
HoI can't intelligibly be called RTS, whatever one's feelings about a game that runs in time when you unpause it. It's a game you play paused; the "clock moving" part is basically just replacing a turn-resolving mechanism.
That isn't to say it's for everyone - although I'd say that's more a matter of the strategic game + division/corps/army scale abstract wargame package than the (heavily airquoted) "real time" element. HOI2 with all of the trimmings is a pretty amazing game.
03-27-2011, 08:21 PM
It's the very definition of one, Jason. It may not be of the style of a Dune II, Warcraft or RoN, but it's still a RTS because it doesn't progress in turns. To suggest otherwise is simply... incorrect. I just vastly prefer the IGOUGO method in my strategy games over anything that runs with a constant clock (pause-able or not).
Originally Posted by Jason Townsend
03-27-2011, 08:45 PM
RTS games are played unpaused and inactive when paused (if paused at all.) Games like EU and HOI are played paused and only "run" unpaused to resolve actions, you'll pretty much never take any action "in real time."
The gameplay is completely different. If you don't like EU or HOI for whatever reason that's quite legitimate, but lumping either in with AOE3 or Supcom is beyond apples and oranges.
EDIT: Caveat: some RTS games do permit actions while paused, but playing them like that is basically tantamount to cheating.