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Brit

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Hey Brit, I've been watching from the sidelines and I can tell you that the biggest issue you have is exclusivity with BattleFront (if that's the case). You need a bigger market to sell into as this economy is making it very hard for people to spend money on games.

I have several other friends who are struggling with PC based games right now because the market is shrinking with all the competition of smart phones. I agree with the comment that getting yourself on Steam and Impulse would broaden your market. So would matrix games. Battlefront is a great site and publisher, but they are very small when it comes to the overall game market.

Have you had gamespot do a review? What about armchair general, PC gamer, the wargamer, etc.

I haven't played the game in a while, but the biggest reason I stopped was the instability , the AI, the combat results, and more importantly the lack of scenarios. From what I can tell, you have significantly improved things and I will give it another try, but playing the same old maps get's old.

Most people like to play campaigns and have a purpose when they are playing a game. They like to defeat the evil villain. If you came up with a creative story line and set of linked scenarios, you might find the interest in your game pick up.

I know that playing against the AI is fun, but I really like a story and a purpose when I'm playing a game. Somehow, you have to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competition. You have created a great game, but it is too similar to other games and you need to find a way to position it as something fresher and better than the others.

You also have to be patient. The Great Recession is a big drain on everyone right now and while we are starting to recover, dollars are tight and people are not spending the way they used to. Games are discretionary and I know that I have cut way back in the past 2 years on the number of games I have purchased.

Keep moving the game forward. In time with continued improvements, you will find your mark.

Bret

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I think the problem might be the "quick game's a good game" issue. Playing a game just takes too damn long, really long!

Yeah, I originally envisioned the games taking less time.

An alternative quick-play ruleset might be a good idea?

That sounds good.

Can you turn off FoW?

By FoW, I assume you mean more than the "map is known" option? You mean that everything on the map is visible?

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Hey Brit' date=' I've been watching from the sidelines and I can tell you that the biggest issue you have is exclusivity with BattleFront (if that's the case).[/quote']

Yes, I do have an exclusivity deal with them.

Don't know how much digitial distribution services like Steam take. I heard a while ago that they took 40%. Don't know if that's accurate.

(Thanks for the rest of your comment, too.)

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No way I will ever sit there and finish an online multiplayer game at 4 hours + in game play time. PBEM is definately a must have for me, and the implementation seems to be a good one.
Ditto. Got a three and a one year old, wife, house, garden, work etc. I'm lucky if I get a few consecutive gaming hours every week (usually it's very "on, off"), and if I do it's never scheduled. PBEM is the only multiplayer experience that'll work for me.

Somehow' date=' you have to differentiate yourself from the rest of the competition[/quote']Exactly, and the PBEM/WeGo multiplayer implementation does just that. Unfortunately like I wrote, too few people understand this model, they're totallt caught up in old-fashioned I-go-You-go turn based, which is absolutely terrible for multiplayer.

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By FoW, I assume you mean more than the "map is known" option? You mean that everything on the map is visible?
Actually that's a good idea, although stealth-units like submarines should still be hidden.

Imagine 10+ players at LAN party playing Empires of Steel with this option on and a projector showing the entire map and action on a big screen. Once all turns are submitted eveyone sits back together and watch the action on the big screen, laughing, cursing and shouting.

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I don't really know if anyone would use it, but it might have some appeal for casual players.

A couple of promotional ideas is to latch onto the empire classic heritage of the game. Maybe putting a link in the wiki entry for empire or posting on the www.classicempire.com website?

Also maybe a basic "empire remake" ruleset might get some interest. I'm thinking one class of army, battleship, fighter etc. etc.

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Perhaps it is helpful to hear from someone who isn't a customer to hear why not. Which would be me. I've only given the demo a try yesterday because I chanced on this thread. Previously, I just dismissed this title out of hand.

There are the looks of the game. Not exactly setting the world on fire. As a side note, not as bad as I thought once I got playing. YouTube and smallish screenshots images don't do it any favours in this regard.

It's not clear what this game is about. People have said it's very much like Empire. What is this Empire you speak off?

The turn based system: it's not adequately shown how this plays out in a game in full swing. It's mentioned, but that is about it. One bit which is entirely inadequately shown is combat. You might want to regale us with stories of fighters automatically intercepting bombers entering nearby airspace. I was surprised that one of my DDs detoured from it journey to my invasion staging port to chase off an enemy ship that was bearing down on a lone transport. Details like that needs to be shoved to the forefront, as it's neat as hell!

The menus. In what I've seen in preview videos the menus quickly flash open and closed. You want to show more of what is going on with them, actually. It might not sound interesting to show menus but half the game and it's depth is hidden in the menus. Without exploring these depths the game seemed shallower then I found it to be.

Communications. You might want to update/remove the Youtube videos that have "pre beta" and such to it. There's a few good vids out there, but I mostly got the older ones on Youtube. They are now outdated, and don't do much to make a favourable impression now compared to, say, the video on Brits EoS site.

Minor niggle on that video, the comment about bug fixes. Call me crazy, but I want to hear about bugfixes from fans. When a developer tells me about them, it doesn't make nearly as good an impression, quite the opposite. Maybe I'm silly in that, I dunno.

Similarly, the 'news' section of the website might contain more recent updates. At first glance a big "UPDATE: Registrations are now CLOSED!" is not creating a cheery positive vibe in any case, even though it's a useful message. It's petty stuff, I know, but every little bit helps to put the customer in a buying frame of mind.

As for me being a customer after the trying the demo... I've thought about about it.

Sadly, this is a time where an unusual number of games that tickle my pleasure centres have been released. With Bad Company 2, M&B: Warband and Rise of Prussia, it's going to be tough for any game to squeeze in amongst that!

But! When I tried the demo I was dead impressed by this game and it's maker(s). It's been obviously made by a very capable set of hands. Stuff like voice chat, update checker in main menu and other neat touches dispelled my first impression of this being a shoestring budget game. All in all a very professional and complete game. The guys at Battlefront could learn a thing or two!

It's clear to me that you guys may want to focus any future efforts on people TRYING the demo of the game, not having it looked at.

I hope things pick up, as I certainly would like to see such a Stirling job go rewarded.

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Also maybe a basic "empire remake" ruleset might get some interest. I'm thinking one class of army, battleship, fighter etc. etc.

Ok so I did it. I bought the game. I was meaning to buy, I have money, I got authorisation from my finance minister and so here it is.

My first task was to make a beer and pretzels ruleset. It is uploaded as a beta version on the share server in the game.

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Many very good comments here, Elmar! I especially agree about the news section of the webpage, which is the first potentially new customers see. Brit, you need a start page with more ... gusto! :) Something that immediatly gets new people hooked.

In regards to realtime multiplayer, it's a breeze to start a game, playe a few turns, exit and then pick up at a later stage. A friend of mine and I are doing just that, since we both have bussy schedules. When we see each other online on Skype, we quickly find out if we have time for a couple of rounds there and then. No problem!

I do however see that playing multiplayer with several people would perhaps not be so easy that way, so a better pbem option would be great for bigger games.

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Ok so I did it. I bought the game. I was meaning to buy, I have money, I got authorisation from my finance minister and so here it is.

My first task was to make a beer and pretzels ruleset. It is uploaded as a beta version on the share server in the game.

Hey, neat! I took it for a spin and the AI seems to be doing a good job so far. It does spend unnecessary time grabbing resources, but otherwise it seems ok (in my short test). Great ruleset! :)

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I think the problem might be the "quick game's a good game" issue. Playing a game just takes too damn long, really long! I have a one year old child and a long commute, though EoS is beer & pretzels on one hand, it is slow and complex on the other.

I was thinking about your comment later, and I started thinking: what if there was an option in the game to give players X free production right from the beginning of the game? For example, if players had 600 free production, then on the first turn, they could go and spend production points to choose their starting units and buildings. They could buy:

- 12 Infantry (50 production points each) = 600 production

- 2 transports (140 production points each) + 4 Infantry (50 production each) + 1 Barracks (40 production) + 2 Shipyards (40 production) = 600 production

Or some other combination that the player comes up with.

With the standard rules, players start with 1 transport, 2 infantry, 1 zeppelin, which adds up to 280 production points and some iron. I was just thinking that it might make for a more interesting start if players could choose their starting units, plus if players start off with a lot of free production it would speed up the start of the game and shorten the time until players run into each other.

Maybe free research points could also be added into the system, so players could research factories and then buy factories with their initial free production.

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Goodaye Brit,

I haven't bought the game although I have played every version of the demo. I also posted quite a bit prior to the games release when you were kicking around a number of ideas.

I've admired the work you've put into making EoS better and appreciate that you're looking to find ways to get a better return on all the time you've put in.

EoS in it's current incarnation isn't for me however I'm happy to give you - for what it's worth - the benefit of my feedback.

My views may not coincide with others here or yourself but they are given with the intention of providing an alternative point of view that might be of some use to you. So...

1. EoS is too generic. It does what it does well but there is very little about it that makes it stand out from the crowd.

2. The aspect of EoS that is different is the very good multiplayer tools. Unfortunately multi-player is a tiny market despite the vocal protests of those who do it. Stardock Games recently (last 12 months) released a game with a heavy multi-player focus and an adequate but not brilliant single player experience. The game was marketed primarily at the multi-player market.

It didn't sell as well as expected so they did a follow-up customer survey and found that the percentage of players who bought the game that actually played multi-player was a heck of a lot smaller than they thought it would be. The vast majority of players (even those who'd bought it for the MP experience) ended up playing the AI. You can chase down the actual survey results and analysis on Gamasutra from memory.

EoS had a great MP set-up and a lackadasial AI (intially - I can see that it's greatly improved). In hindsight I think you would have been better to come out of the gate with great AI and basic MP.

3. The marketing of the game was 'off target'. The impression I got from the PR was that it was an improved 'Empire' with great MP.

The number of players who remember Empire or who even know of Empire would (I'm guessing here) be pretty small.

4. EoS sits in the 'Easy+' wargaming complexity bracket. Kind of an advanced 'Beer and Pretzels' game. Making a good B & P game is a worthwhile goal but the pricing at $45 completely killed off any meaningful sales into that market. Even $35 is a stretch.

Additionally Battlefront - of whom I'm a big supporter - sell and promote wargames that are all a lot further up the other end of the complexity scale than EoS. Their inbuilt customer base is more accustomed to 'meatier' offerings than EoS. I'd suggest that EoS isn't a good fit with their stable of games.

5. On the other hand if you wanted to market EoS to the typical Battlefront / Matrix 'detailed' wargaming crowd then you run into the problem of a generic, simplified game with initially poor AI not having much appeal in the face of competing products at that price point.

All of the above are my own views and could well be - like my comments on the marketing - "off target".

What to do?

1. I think you need to decide whom you want to market the game at. If it's the B & P crowd then I'd suggest you'd want to gear up the game for fast and furious action and talk to Battlefront about allowing you access to an online sales outlet that is more in line with that type of game.

If, on the other hand, want to target the 'wargaming' market then you need to throw something else into the mix to give the game an 'angle' and more depth. You need a hook to pull in the wargaming crowd.

In my previous posts before the games release I was pushing pretty hard for a basic supply / resource depletion system but that is just one possibility amongst a number. The guys at Battlefront would probably have a head full of good ideas.

2. I'm not sure that if you did either of the two options above if you'd manage to pick up sales momentum as EoS has been on the market long enough for a lot of potential customers to have considered it and to have already taken a pass. Very difficult to get them interested again once they have made up their mind.

Perhaps you could take what you've done already and use it as the basis of a second iteration. I suspect that you'd need to do this to convince people to take another look.

I'm probably not making your day with all of the above and I could, as already mentioned, be way off on a tangent. Feel free to ignore or disregard my post if I've caused offense.

Best of luck.

Cheers,

Plugger

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Goodaye,

Artilcle I mentioned. Wasn't where I thought it was.

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/11/19/only-23-even-attempted-to-play-multiplayer/

Cheers,

Plugger

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Hi Plugger I agee about the pricepoint, $30 tops is appropriate I reckon. The price would be a barrier to sales as any economics textbook will tell you.

I also agree about the multiplayer. Persistent PBEM games freely available to join on the server might help here.

I don't agree about battlefront marketing only complex sims though. Strategic Command is happy here and games like down in flames are simple fun too.

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what if there was an option in the game to give players X free production right from the beginning of the game?
Sound like a good idea as a "Quick start" option. Would make the initial game more interresting.

Unfortunately multi-player is a tiny market despite the vocal protests of those who do it.
True, but it's sorts of a Catch 22: The multiplayer market for turn based games is very small because the traditional (IGo-UGo) implementation totally sucks with more than two players, and few developers want to develop a good multiplayer experience since the market is very small.

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Hi Brit, I've been a supporter of this game since it first came out, as you can tell from my post history, so I hope you take my following comments in that spirit. Also, I've appreciated your responsiveness and regular updates: a lot of more established developers could learn something from you in that regard.

I very rarely play multi-player, so the performance of the AI is key for me in any game I play. Although it doesn't do a bad job, several months post-release the AI seems unable to do some things I would typically expect of it in a game like this. Most importantly, I've yet to see the AI effectively use airpower consistently, and it does not appear to be able to engage in meaningful diplomacy. Hopefully these will be addressed in the future, but I'll put the game aside until then I think.

Now, of course, I understand the "there is no perfect AI" argument. But I would argue that the current AI does not push the limits of what is technically feasible in a PC game. The question comes down to an allocation of resources of course. Here Plugger might have a point (although I thought most of his observations were worth consideration):

EoS had a great MP set-up and a lackadasial AI (intially - I can see that it's greatly improved). In hindsight I think you would have been better to come out of the gate with great AI and basic MP.

So, going forward, perhaps an investment of what I expect are very limited marketing and development resources to promote and extend the game in either the single-player or multi-player direction might make your proposition clearer to potential buyers.

Good luck with it!

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2. The aspect of EoS that is different is the very good multiplayer tools. Unfortunately multi-player is a tiny market despite the vocal protests of those who do it. Stardock Games recently (last 12 months) released a game with a heavy multi-player focus and an adequate but not brilliant single player experience. The game was marketed primarily at the multi-player market.

It didn't sell as well as expected so they did a follow-up customer survey and found that the percentage of players who bought the game that actually played multi-player was a heck of a lot smaller than they thought it would be. The vast majority of players (even those who'd bought it for the MP experience) ended up playing the AI. You can chase down the actual survey results and analysis on Gamasutra from memory.

Interesting. I have to admit that I prefer single-player games myself. Even though I rarely play multiplayer, I think multiplayer functionality seems like a cool feature - despite the fact that I rarely use it myself. The only time I really play multiplayer is in first person shooters. What I'm saying is that I could see this being true: everyone (including me) thinks multiplayer is great, even though the actual use of multiplayer is quite a bit less frequent.

EoS had a great MP set-up and a lackadasial AI (intially - I can see that it's greatly improved). In hindsight I think you would have been better to come out of the gate with great AI and basic MP.

Yeah, I've considered that I could've waited a bit longer and gotten the AI to be really good.

Perhaps you could take what you've done already and use it as the basis of a second iteration. I suspect that you'd need to do this to convince people to take another look.

By "second iteration" you mean a second product?

I'm probably not making your day with all of the above and I could, as already mentioned, be way off on a tangent. Feel free to ignore or disregard my post if I've caused offense.

No, I'm not offended. Any feedback you have is useful.

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Brit,

I would love the option on the "X free production right from the beginning." And a better AI might be the needed hook for wargamers. The only company that brags about its AI--and gets away with it--is SSG. And even they have had their issues selling the latest AtD "expansion" at a $40 price.

What hooked me immediately was the moddability and rulesets. Have I finished my own ruleset yet? Of course not!

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Hi Brit....My computer just died so that's why I was gone for awhile, but new laptop is here and I'm back to playing.

Now, I go to ALLOT of forums and the one of the most main things that keeps them from buying the games is the DRM. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I don't buy from Battlefront.com anymore because of the new DRM."

I know taking off the DRM is not an option(I haven't had any problem with it, so far.), but I'm just telling what I observe. Strategy games niche by itself, let alone this type of game.

More advertising wouldn't hurt either.

Just my $.02

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Now, I go to ALLOT of forums and the one of the most main things that keeps them from buying the games is the DRM. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I don't buy from Battlefront.com anymore because of the new DRM."

I know taking off the DRM is not an option(I haven't had any problem with it, so far.), but I'm just telling what I observe. Strategy games niche by itself, let alone this type of game.

Yeah, I understand. The long term plans are to remove the DRM, but not soon.

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Glad to hear it will be removed at some stage. If I can get over the problem of getting it to work under Administrator then I would be a buyer sans DRM.

With so many areas to spend money any disincentive is sufficient to convert from a sale to a non-sale. Recently there was hyped a very good ACW game but the DRM requirement of having a connection everytime you want to play is ludicrously restrictive - or at least unacceptably restrictive.

I try never to use proprietary file formats - hence Open Office, no wma music files. :)

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Most wargamers will probably murder me in my sleep for saying this, but what Steam?

Have you heard of game called AI War? This guy made this game with a few friends, put it on Steam and was soon selling thousands of copies. He actually got to the point that he now pays his own salary just on that one game. He was even able to release an expansion to sweeten the deal.

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