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Heres an article i read today over at the Daily radar called "Tank Rush":

There has been a lot of speculation during the last year as to where the strategy genre is heading in the area of graphics performance. We are starting to see more and more games slowly migrating over from sprite-based 2D graphics to full-blown 3D graphics. While 3D has always found its place in the adrenaline-pumped world of first-person shooters, it has not necessarily found a home in the strategy realm, and perhaps for now we should keep it that way.

Gimmick Over Gameplay

3D is simply used by developers to add pretty effects instead of focusing their efforts on good strategy-style gameplay. You must keep in mind here that we are talking about strategy games. Games like Ground Control and Sacrifice have been able to somewhat successfully integrate a 3D gaming system within a game that closely resembles a strategy game, but for the most part these games have a tendency to play like first-person shooters. It's the same old run-and-gun formula, except now, instead of maintaining yourself, you are forced to maintain a small number of units in a 3D world. A reader (Gary) wrote in and noted, "A few games need 3D, [but] for most games 3D would be just an expensive gimmick, distracting rather than adding to the enjoyment of the game."

It is easy to be led astray by rotating cameras and dynamic 3D lighting and perspective, but if a developer spends more time focusing on making the game pretty, could that time not have been spent better on play balancing and strategic elements? Strategy players got hooked on games like Civilization and Warcraft. They are control freaks. The key to winning their hearts is gameplay.

All Loss Of Perspective

When I heard that there was a Dark Reign 2 coming, my excitement could hardly be contained. You can bet that the folks at Pandemic heard from me often asking for news and info of the release. When the demo was available, I jumped on it immediately. The original Dark Reign's design and balance make it one of my favorite games of all time.

As I loaded the demo, I was immediately mesmerized by the beautiful 3D graphics -- and this was just in the menu system! When I started to play the game, however, I was still mesmerized by the beautiful graphics, but at the same time I couldn't help but feel I couldn't get a good grasp on what was going on with the units under my control. The fully 3D camera control was awkward and I never seemed to be able to pull back far enough to see what was really going on. So I sat back and marveled a little longer at the amazing 3D graphics and basically gave up on giving the title any serious consideration.

Control and perspective are very important to a strategy gamer. Take Warcraft III, for instance. Though it was originally designed as a fully 3D title, Blizzard eventually decided to pull back the camera at a fixed angle because camera control was too detracting to gameplay. As one of my readers (Renegade) pointed out, "...If you restrict the 3D so much that it is no longer a worry, then you are just playing a 2D game with 3D graphics, and it would have been better to go with 2D in the first place." I don't think I could have said it any better.

Limitations On The Engine

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk with Garrett Graham from the Warlords: Battlecry design team. When asked why the team chose 2D over 3D for Battlecry he said, "For right now, I think [2D] offers better quality unit art..." and, "3D engines need higher-end machines and better graphics cards. Most magazines and websites (in my opinion) tend to focus on the "hard core" gamers -- people who buy high-end machines, upgrade often and play lots of games. But there is a huge population of casual gamers who buy their machines at Radio Shack or Gateway and have no idea how a computer works or is upgraded..." The idea is that by relying too heavily on 3D you are diminishing the number of potential gamers that you can serve with your product, while at the same time giving up on some graphical clarity.

As 3D cards get better and better, we will probably see more and more games start to rely on them. The immediate effect of this can be seen in strategy games that limit you in some way. They may hide this under the slogan "gameplay revolution" or some other farce, where they try to tell you that they removed resource collection or lowered the number of units to make it a more tactical game. The reality is that in order to provide smooth gameplay in a fully 3D engine they were forced to restrict these things. So what is truly a loss to the gameplay experience is passed on as a feature. Luckily, we do not have to be blind to this tactic.


While a good 3D engine can help make a game prettier, more realistic looking and more fluid, it is important to keep the idea of "strategy" as the key to the game's design. Strategy gamers like to have their wits challenged. They like to contemplate moves and work towards tactical advantage. In order to do this they need a clear view of the battle. Strategy gamers are not necessarily the types of people who rush out and buy the latest and greatest gaming hardware. While 3D slowly seeps its way into the strategy genre, we can only hope developers will try to keep things in the proper perspective.

- Jonathan 'Dragon' Zook


Well after reading this article with not a single kudos to CM i fired up Outlook and shot Mr. "Dragon" and e-mail. Later today day over at Strategy Planet, Mr Dragon had this to say:

"Here is an e-mail I received from Mr. Anderson (from the Matrix?)."

(my email -->) I recently read a short commentary over at Daily Radar that you had written concerning 3d environments and strategy games. It blows me away that you did not mention the game Combat Mission. This game is a break-through game in many people's opinion because it does blend hard-core, turn-based strategy and a full 3d environment. This is the direction stategy games need to head. I'm not sure if you have heard of this truely wonderful game or not since its only purchaseable directly from them. Head over to www.battlefront.com and see what you might be missing.

This is not an advertisment and I'm in no way affiliated with the guys over there at Battlefront. Its just that when you mention 3d and strategy in the same sentence there is only one game that truely falls into that category.

Thanks for listening and keep up the good work."

Dragon's reply: "Well, I am just stoked that somebody is reading my now monthly column over on Daily Radar! I will definitely have to check out that title. Thanks for the info." -Dragon

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To be the Devil's (Dragon's?) Advocate here, I myself only learned about CMBO by accident when I did a search for ASL related stuff on versiontracker.com, It maybe hard to believe to the more seasoned members of this forum, but CMBO is still very much an insider's game. I would not be surprised if the majority of the new CMBO players were referred to the game by other players, as opposed to picking up the game after reading a review somewhere.

The guy might just not know CMBO exists.

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Guest ckoharik

Well, I first heard about it from a quick preview blurb at Adrenaline Vault I believe (maybe 3dfiles.com). Anyways, there has been plenty of coverage of CMBO from numerous print mags and Web sites. Just look at all the awards it has received. That the author did not even know about it does show a lack of research on his part.

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Badaf, just a suggestion, but perhaps it would be better to put a link to the article instead of cutting and pasting. By cutting and pasting, you successfully kept me from visiting his site since what I wanted to read was right here. But, he does not profit from his work unless I visit his site.

As I said, just a suggestion.


Jeff Abbott

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Gyrene, I hear you, and I know most gamers don't have a clue that CM even exists.

But if you write monthly column on strategy games on a public gaming site you really ought to know better, don't you agree?


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Originally posted by ckoharik:

...Anyways, there has been plenty of coverage of CMBO from numerous print mags and Web sites. Just look at all the awards it has received. That the author did not even know about it does show a lack of research on his part.

In a similar vein, Military Heritage magazine ran a short review of CM in this months issue. A very favorable review, as you would expect from a military history mag. But while the author mentions that CM is only available by download from the "internet", he summarily fails to give the BTS web address!!! D'oh!!!

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hi all,

well down here in Australia the major PC magazines which include those from the USA and the UK have hardly made mention of it! Even the applauded demo version hasn't made it to a cover disk AFAIK. Games like CM and SPW@W (which made it to the cover disk of one mag but then it wouldn't load!) just do NOT get the coverage of those games from large publishing houses. The writers, as has been mentioned above, just do not seem to take much trouble to look for or at these game, they seem to accept the publishers adverts as gospil and rarely realy can a game if it is bulls***.

I think CM (and SPW@W) could do themselves (and us) a big favor by taking out adverts in some of these 'main stream' gaming magazines.



RAAMC capt

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Well actually peter, Australian PC User had the demo on it's cover CD ages ago. So maybe you should give those imports the flick and try some home grown product. biggrin.gif


"Stand to your glasses steady,

This world is a world of lies,

Here's a toast to the dead already,

And here's to the next man to die."

-hymn of the "Double Reds"

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Really, I mean, ANY person that would term themselves a gamer at least thumbs through the gaming mags at the local grocery store, if not actually subscribing to one (or more). I first heard about it in one of my mags (can't remember which one was first). I get PCGamer, CGW, ComputerGames, and MaximumPC. They ALL had glowing reviews within about a month or so of each other. Not knowing is simply not an excuse! tongue.gif


All CM All the time!

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