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===/ WW2: The Hardest Game to Make \===


Otto
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I have watched the progress of Strategic Command since almost its conception. I'm a Beta Tester so I have seen much more than most. I have studied World War Two gaming for several years and have studied WW2 extensively. I feel I have a fairly good base from which to make some of the claims I am about to.

Hubert's task of creating a WW2 game is probably one of the most difficult software design endeavors one can undertake. (I'm not even going to begin discussing the fact that he did this alone!) This is why: WW2 Games are by far the most difficult type of game to create.

Why? you ask. Well consider what a WW2 game involves. World War Two is probably the most documented series of events in history. Literally tens of thousands of publications, thousands of games and countless other media formats have been produced under the WW2 umbrella. There seems to be no end in sight to this massive field. There are millions of people with a very good grasp on what happened, and you have to produce a game that satisfies all those people!

Consider someone making a game like Warcraft. Warcraft is a very good game, I played it a lot and enjoyed it very much indeed. However, one must recognise that this type of game is an exercise in fantasy. No one will go to a history book and correct you because the Orcs you designed are too tall, or too green, or too powerful in combat. Other poplular games like Unreal Tournament or Sim-City are based on the very premise that they are not realistic. Sure they look very good, but people don't ask for reality in those games.

At the same time, a WW2 Gamer will demand that his/her game is accurate and true to history. Due to the war's scope and complexity, and the number of people who are interested in this field, this would be a difficult enough task if everyone held the same views and perceptions about it. But this is far from the case. WW2 historians, amateur and professional alike, have a great many differing perceptions of what actually happended. There is no "absolute truth" about the war, only points of view, some more valid that others. I mean seriously, if there are still people debating wether the Holocoast/Shoa even occured, how can there be any concensus about why Germany lost, or what may have happened if Germany didn't invade the USSR in '41.

However, this type of hypothetical situation is exactly what Hubert is trying to create. A task that by it's very nature must be incredibly historically accurate have enough room for hypothetical events: This my friends is what you call an oxymoron.

The best WW2 games are those that bridge these two factors "very well". From what I can tell from the reactions of people in these forums, Hubert has done this "very well".

For instance;

I was reading the thread about the U-Boats in the game. Some people in the thread said that the U-boats were too weak overall. In the exact same thread others posted that the U-Boats were too powerful. What this tells me is that Hubert has done a good job in this area. There is no satisfying everyone, but at least the complaints are on both sides if the spectrum.

Then there are the inevitable comparisons to all the other WW2 games out there. It's no surprise that this game has some similarities to others in the genre. It has to be somewhat like others, or else it wouldn't be a WW2 game. I'm willing to wager a hefty sum that the next WW2 European theater strategy game will be compared to StratComm. But back to my original point...

What Hubert has done here is create a game that I think is well balanced, very playable and historically accurate. Sure there are things that might not be consistent with my personal view of the Second World War, but I'm still going to play it because in my view it's a darn good sim.

================================

I would love some feedback on this.

[ May 30, 2002, 08:10 PM: Message edited by: Otto ]

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Very much agreed!

The higher level of abstraction, the higher the design difficulty. Not just the what's in and what's out of the game itself, but communicating the game's concepts to its audience. Posts in this forum indicate a relatively bug free beta, but much second guessing of design concepts. Perhaps HC could write a forward to the game telling his goals for historical accuracy vs fun game play, single player vs multplayer, etc. (I know a lot of this has come out in HC's replies, but not everybody looks at old posts before posting, so a lot of ground is rehashed over and over).

It's interesting to note the paucity of posts concerning trying "mainstream" historical alternatives for the Axis. Guess that will have to wait for the full game. Meanwhile maybe a FAQ of settled concepts would be in order.

The feedback is all good. The occasion drift into personal attacks is not. How anyone could imagine there are "sides" taken for/against this game at this stage is mind boggling!

HC deserves congrats for keeping a great sense of humor and open mind during the beta. :D

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I commend Hubert and all the playtesters for getting SC to this point. I think the real difficulty for a WWII strategy game is not the game mechanics, but getting the AI, and politics to work well. This is where the hypothetical and possible need to come together with just the right mix of audacity and wisdom. That's tough, and was the biggest problem with the Third Reich PC game and others. From what I've seen, Hubert has done a good job with the AI and politics.

The basic game mechanics should be fairly well established after all these years with other games. The scale, turn length, resource model, and the rest all have great examples to select from and implement in SC. Hubert needs to choose wisely and make appropriate adjustments, but the choices need to make sense. The U-boat example cited points out they are both too weak (because the damage they inflict on British convoys is relatively insignificant) and too strong (because the inflict relatively high losses on capital ships in unrealistic engagements). This is not an indication that SC has it about right; it is just wrong on both counts.

The resource model is skewed too far for the sake of simplicity. The variable turn length creates a very abstract economy which may play well for many just looking for a fun game, but is downright irritating for everyone else looking for a decent simulation game. The lack of seasonal effects, justified by the variable turns, is also an irritating abstraction. Why not just make 2-week turns with a consistent production model and some seasonal effects? That should be adequate for the grognards without making gameplay any more complicated for those who just want a fun game.

There's been a lot of haggling about what's "realistic" at this scale game, from airborne units to beach hexes for seaborne invasions. These are basics which have been adequately addressed in other games but are lacking in SC. It's OK to land whole armies anywhere on any rocky coastline, but not OK to airdrop a corps?? Granted, these aren't showstoppers, but why not include this stuff if you're going to call SC a WWII strategy game?

I'd prefer to see unit stacking and multiple unit attacks and other stuff like that, but SC has a rather elegant game system which does make for quick play. Overall, it works fairly well. Retreats and advance after combat could be included. I like the HQ units and how they affect unit performance. I think some way of being able to change HQ links and designate subordinate units needs to be considered.

I do like SC and again commend Hubert for his individual efforts to bring it to us. Based on everyone's comments on the beta demo, we should see some improvements in the release version. And I expect future versions will become increasingly more realistic with either additional options or advanced game features. Heck, over the past 27 years I've watched Third Reich go through 4 editions and then an advanced game version with its own revisions, so some growing pains can be expected with any game of this scope. SC should become a classic, just keep at it.

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I understand where you are coming from Otto but I think the large volume of feedback here can only be praise for Hubert and what he has done with SC, not otherwise, though it may be hard to discern at times.

You raise a very good point about what attracts gamers to this sort of game, the "what ifs". No question there is that freedom in SC to explore different strategies, that is accomplished quite well. I think the crux has been on gamers getting their mind wrapped around the historical accuracy portrayed in implementing those strategies. Are what we do in SC guided/constrained by some form of "historical reality" or is it "fantasy" as you say? I think as suggested, a "Designer's Notes" in the manual would be a good step towards the rationale of the choices made or not made in SC.

While any creation is *personal*, this medium defintely requires a thicker skin. smile.gif Keep up the good work for all involved, looking forward to the finished product.

Ron

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Two months ago, at least as far as I knew, there was no NEW WWII grand-strategy game on the horizon.

Now there is Strategic Command. smile.gif We tend to forget that Hubert has (... very nearly!) summoned something playable -- out of nothing.

Over two years at this! It can't merely be opportunism, since there are other genres which offer more of a potential reward. So. He must really LIKE this particular kind of game. Therefore I tend to trust that he will make it the very best that he is able. I can't imagine the countless hours & hours that have gone into the hard-wiring.

It was not only difficult, but a challenge, AND it had to be (... and continues to be) a great deal of, well, plain old fun. True that there are many thousands of documents on this subject, and there have been some successful iterations (... Advanced 3rd Reich the best so far; I have played COS and enjoyed it, but SC is far superior), but to pick and choose what to include -- of all the possible approaches, had to be part of the allure in the first place.

Which one of us would not have liked to try it? We all have our favorite aspects (I am simply thrilled that Hubert has included a more detailed naval game, no matter if imperfectly implemented... so far anyway -- I also trust that this will remain an ongoing, and eventually improved upon -- labor of love... ) and are quite forthcoming with our suggestions and comments. To any creator, this can be both frustrating and welcome. Making those final small adjustments can mean a great deal in terms of successful game-play, AND success in the marketplace.

I have to continually remind myself that I am about to get a game that will satisfy MOST of my requirements, and that two months ago -- well, there didn't seem to be anything to hope for.

So, thanks again Hubert for the dedication and persevence and most important, the final follow-through. Sometimes there are hopes and dreams, but not enough of the inner committment needed to actually get the thing done. smile.gif

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have been waiting all of my adult life for a WWII strategic simulation that lives up to what Hubert seems to have created.

Certainly there are minor quibbles, but for me it all comes down to the AI.

The other day I was mopping up the pathetic remnants of the English in the northern UK when dastardly Joe Stalin launched an invasion on my eastern frontier, making some inroads and threatening Warsaw and the Romanian oil fields. Next turn, I plundered a boatload of MPPs from the defeated Brits and purchased/operated a large number of military units onto the eastern front.

So what did the AI do? It PULLED BACK and assumed more of a defensive posture. Almost as if it realized that I would quickly cut off and annihilate the red army spearheads.

Quite frankly, this is a revolution in wargaming AI and I have the utmost respect for the man who has put this together. That's why I come back to this forum several times a day just HOPING to see that the Gold demo has been released. Or (gasp) the game itself.

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Originally posted by Otto:

For instance;

I was reading the thread about the U-Boats in the game. Some people in the thread said that the U-boats were too weak overall. In the exact same thread others posted that the U-Boats were too powerful. What this tells me is that Hubert has done a good job in this area. There is no satisfying everyone, but at least the complaints are on both sides if the spectrum.

================================

I would love some feedback on this.[/QB]

I think that the U-Boats need to be stronger against the Transports and Able to sink a ship on a random value, or just incur standard damage.

The U-Boat sank the Lusitania after all, with 1 shot, right? The Transports are not that different, and The Battle ships and Cruisers are still boats...That have radar, granted, but that should only still reduce the value that the U-Boat sinks it in 1 shot.

T.Sr.

The Purist

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Originally posted by arax3:

TOM: The Lusitania was loaded with contraband war materiel for Brits and French. The torpedo ignited this stuff and ... . L3

Shucks, I Omitted that fact from my education...

Even still....nevermind.

Nice game Hubert! smile.gif

T.Sr.

The Impurist

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In school (long, long ago ...) I was taught that the Lusitania incident beyond a shadow of doubt proves that Germany was the bad girl in WW1 - of course, the small issue with that contraband war materiel (of which the passengers had no clue about) was not mentioned (maybe it also was not known by teachers back then).

Anyway: a lone torp CAN sink a troop transport, even ships with better armour than APs, but it depends on many things like where it impacts, whether it ignites outside the hull or when already penetrating, and how good the damage control mechanisms work. Its more or less the same with shells - remember the Hood. smile.gif

Straha

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Originally posted by Panzer Leader:

However, can a single U-Boat, or even Wolf Pack for that matter, sink the ENTIRE ARMADA of 100+ ships that would be involved in moving a corps or army across the channel? Not to mention the myriad destroyers that would be gaurding the flanks and pinging away.

Well ... no! Good point. smile.gif

Straha

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Heh heh, I just read a book "Steel Coffins" about a U-Boat Ace, and it was VERY informative about the abilities, and weaknesses, of the Kriegsmarine. Basically, they were a strategic weapon, rather than a tactical weapon. If I were to clamour for some adjustment to the U-Boats in CM (oops! I mean SC ;) ) then it would be for them to have better stealth, do LESS damage to enemy units, and do more damage to the Allies MPPs.

In fact, Churchill himself, spoke of the U-Boats after the war, saying that of all Germany's might, it was the U-Boat he feared the most. They came very close to strangling Britain -- much closer than the Luftwaffe ever came to defeating the Brits.

However, as we all know, the U-Boats lost their effectiveness just before they were able to achieve that strategic victory. That seems to be the lot of all Germany's efforts. (and thank GOD for that smile.gif )

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"Steel Coffins" is excellent. Subs could and did engage and sink capital ships, but this was the exception. SC has subs and capital ships going head-to-head, which is not accurate. I like having sub units to manauever, but I'm not impressed with how the U-boat war plays out in SC. It needs tweaking.

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