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Gamey Scenario Design?


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Hi all

 

The term gamey has been around for years now as it relates to game play vs the AI or Human.

However, do you come across scenarios that seem to be designed in a gamey way in that they are set

up using unexpected/unreal military practices? For example, plotting the AI to move along the side of the board

(football play) in combination with terrain features giving an unusual cover advantage. The use of set-up zones

that allow the enemy to pop up expectantly. Sure there are legitimate uses for these types of designs - but have you

seen designs that sort of tick you off?

 

Kevin

 

 

 

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The feedback I get that is indicative of the player being ticked off or pissed off or frustrated have been these:

 

1. BRIEFING: inadequate info, poorly worded or vague or leaving them confused on the objectives or exactly what is going on.

 

2. ILLOGICAL STUFF: something that doesn't make sense and could have been worked on a bit longer to figure it out better.

How did that get there if my troops could not put it there?

 

3. BLOCKED TERRAIN: Blocked terrain that the player cannot check to "see" with the movement cursor. Tac AI only discovers as the vehicles try to follow orders and end up going in weird routes.

 

4. UNWARNED DANGERS: Not enough warning for certain dangers such as flak guns waiting to make swiss cheese of their kubelwagens.

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I would hesitate to use the expression gamey. Gamey to me signifies more a player doing stuff outside of the theoretically agreed upon terms of a game between two players. That standard changes depending on the players themselves.

I expect what you are more seeing is an issue of design experience. One of the best parts of being a beta tester is you have a very tight community to learn from. You also get a test environment of a lot of people helping you try to iron out your design, review the briefing, do all the cool map portions of the briefing etc. creating a scenario without all that help leads to some uneven results. Rather than refer to stuff as gamey, I think a more constructive and positive approach would be better to avoid discouraging someone.

The setup zone one is I think a good example. Having reinforcements potentially appear right in the middle of a players force is not good design ( unless you are springing an ambush in a Vietnamese jungle). The designer does have to take into account where a player might be able to get to unexpectedly.

Moving along the sidelines is really scenario dependent. Some times you do need to take into account the limitations of the AI in movement so we would need to be more specific in that item to see if it adds to the scenario design or not.

I am far from being an expert at designing, but one thing I think I do appreciate is how difficult really good design is. It takes a lot of patient feedback to help someone interested in doing design improve their skills and considering how few have ventured to do so it is worth the effort.

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Actually, I have not noticed too many examples but since I am coming back to CM after a long while I wanted to see if the are any tricks not well received by players. I am not sure trick is better to use than gamey - just seem to see the term gamey used in the forum as relate to gameplay.

 

Kevin

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Actually, I have not noticed too many examples but since I am coming back to CM after a long while I wanted to see if the are any tricks not well received by players. I am not sure trick is better to use than gamey - just seem to see the term gamey used in the forum as relate to gameplay.

 

Kevin

 

I use the word "contrived" to refer to certain designs which are meant to be a very static puzzle: there's one or two solutions, and you need "search" for them by trial and error. That doesn't make them bad scenarios necessarily. Making scenarios that pose several, dynamic challenges requires experience, skill and time.

 

What Kohlenkau mentions above about "blocked terrain" used to be fairly common on some of the first scenarios made for CMBN. People went a bit overboard with the bocage: bocage fields too small or with illogical entries preventing any kind of meaningful use of the land, access to the fields designed so you had to charge at a HMG/AT Gun/Inf Gun frontally, etc. 

 

There's more subtle stuff to put you on rails. Most people don't realize it, but if you look at things, you'll tend to find stuff like maps where two-storey (or higher) buildings with windows looking on a particular direction are hard to come by or heavily defended, a treeline can be found in a most curious alignment and much thicker than any other nearby covered areas, etc. This kind of "contrived" map making I think is fair - as usually there is some way to work around that obstacle/challenge/problem rather than figuring out one very particular sequence of arty support/smoke/bounding assault.

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Aircraft are gamey.  They get results a couple orders of magnitude above their real life effectiveness.

 

If you absolutely, positively have to use aircraft, only use 1 per side max.

 

Do you find this effectiveness to be affected by map size? On the biggest CMRT maps - and with AAA on the map - I see that they're not the "Hand of God" they used to be.

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Do you find this effectiveness to be affected by map size? On the biggest CMRT maps - and with AAA on the map - I see that they're not the "Hand of God" they used to be.

 

No.  Just finished playing Sicherungs as the Germans and while my opponents 4 (!!!!) Il-2's occasionally strafed destroyed vehicles from either side, they tore up so much of my force that it was a cakewalk for him.  It was quite a large map.

 

After 15 years of playing CM I'm well aware that we could play it 10 times and we'd get 10 totally different results from the aircraft, but the people I pbem with all typically don't use aircraft.  We usually change the weather to overcast to solve the problem, but neither of us thought about it or looked at our troops in the editor beforehand.  C'est la vie.

 

The only time I've ever enjoyed aircraft was in CMMC3, which was a large campaign with a bunch of players using CMAK to play out a series of battles in Tunisia.  Twice, the Germans tried to hit my unit with Stukas, but I had around 30 US halftracks with .50 cals and I shot down every one of them before they could release ordinance.  It was glorious.

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I think of aircraft on some sort of search and destroy mission. But don't add them to scenarios since they are outside player control in RT.

They seem to add a form of generalized attrition to the battle. Without feedback that purchased AAA is having effect its hard for the player/designer to decide

how much to add. But airpower is not tricky - it is what it is.

 

Kevin

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I would hesitate to use the expression gamey. ... I expect what you are more seeing is an issue of design experience.

I think this is a very good, and positive way of thinking about it. No one - I hope - wants to go to the effort required simply to make a bad or stupid scenario. People use techniques they know or think will work to create the kind of scenario experience they want. Sometimes they're right, and other times the scenario becomes *ahem* a 'learning experience.' Critically deconstructing 'good' scenarios to try and figure out why they work well, and studying feedback about other scenarios from players and other designers helps minimize those frustrating learning experiences.

 

[Edit] regarding planes: Personally, I tend to avoid them because they're just too random. If they had only a minor effect, that randomness would be ok. But because they're so powerful, they can totally swing a scenario one way or the other in ways the players have no control over. Those kinds of deus ex machina experiences are, I think, frustrating for the players, regardless whether it gets them an un-earned win or snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. Planes can be used and work well in the right context but, like Royal Tigers and IS2s and other super weapons, they need some serious design thought before being included.

Edited by JonS
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Planes can be used and work well in the right context but, like Royal Tigers and IS2s and other super weapons, they need some serious design thought before being included.

 

I mostly agree with that. But I need to say that "superweapons" are as "super" as the brain guiding the hand that moves those assets knows what they're good for and what are they weak spots.

 

The Royal Tiger has a sweet lethality, but its gun is best not used as a shotgun of sorts, and it's not like you can maneuver very well with it. The IS-2 is fast, reasonably armored (and awesomely designed turret), has a hot gun... but compared to any German tank it will take longer, to spot and engage enemies. And that can be very bad if the opposing German armour doesn't do silly stuff, like charging forward and exposing its flanks or closing in the range below 500 meters. It's also obvious that these weapons, in tight quarters are both extremely exposed to infantry AT weapons.

 

With the AA capability that came in with RT and without the 'WW2 laser designation secret tech' that came in CMBN and CMFI - I think that close air support makes more sense tactically. But only on the bigger scenarios. Add a IL-2 to a platoon level engagement and probably you'll be killing the scenario. Adding a couple IL-2 to a Bn level scenario creates the kind of variability that might want people to replay the scenario (i.e. deploy your AFV's under the cover of trees, rather than on those perfect hull down positions which are so conspicuously exposed from the air).

 

As you say: it does require design. But it's not like we're trying to figure out the nature of dark matter here, either.

Edited by BletchleyGeek
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  • 3 weeks later...

I use the word "contrived" to refer to certain designs which are meant to be a very static puzzle: there's one or two solutions, and you need "search" for them by trial and error. That doesn't make them bad scenarios necessarily. Making scenarios that pose several, dynamic challenges requires experience, skill and time.

 

What Kohlenkau mentions above about "blocked terrain" used to be fairly common on some of the first scenarios made for CMBN. People went a bit overboard with the bocage: bocage fields too small or with illogical entries preventing any kind of meaningful use of the land, access to the fields designed so you had to charge at a HMG/AT Gun/Inf Gun frontally, etc. 

 

There's more subtle stuff to put you on rails. Most people don't realize it, but if you look at things, you'll tend to find stuff like maps where two-storey (or higher) buildings with windows looking on a particular direction are hard to come by or heavily defended, a treeline can be found in a most curious alignment and much thicker than any other nearby covered areas, etc. This kind of "contrived" map making I think is fair - as usually there is some way to work around that obstacle/challenge/problem rather than figuring out one very particular sequence of arty support/smoke/bounding assault.

This is bad map making, plan and simple. I recently redid a number of CMBN bocage heavy maps... all of them mine. We learn as we live... hopefully

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