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Grog and the Car Designer - A Parable


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Turns suck...

WeGo is better... providing a more integrated combat environment... plot and play turns where you wonder if your Schrek team will make it to cover in time and dispatch that Sherman that is trying to turn the side of your Tiger... But the turn is still a turn, simultaneous yes, but the start and stop of a turn still exists as an event.

For the future give me a combat system where:

the end of a turn is a brief pause, not a break, in the continuous action. "Go" means "pick up from where we left off"... No loss of situation awareness of the units, no loss of target affinity, no loss of threat awareness. Give my pixellated panzertruppen a memory.

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The guys here that are talking about context only have a partial point. The part you are missing is that when the designer realized that Grog was not thinking larger than cup holders, he posed some direct examples to Grog. Things like better gas mileage, better safety, etc. Grog's response, to this context was to repeat the list of narrowly focused, small details that he had rattled off before. In other words, the new context that was put in front of him was ignored and, even, rejected. That is the kind of thing I've seen from some people. Al's posts in this thread illustrate that better than anything I could ever say.

Those of you who don't think I've given you enough context are partially correct. No, I haven't spilled all the beans and had an indepth discussion about all things CMx2. But when I have talked about large parts of it, such as 1:1 representation, there has been a LOT of flak. The flak boils down to people not wanting things to change. Instead of reading my posts and trying to imagine the POSITIVE that can come from it, they instead imagine all the NEGATIVES. And those negatives are coming from a strict application of the idea to the CMx1 game system, as is without any other changes being made. This is counter productive.

It is clear to me that some people do not have the capacity to discuss things which require more than a little imgination. They are better suited to commenting on things they can actually touch and feel (or have explained in minute details). That's fine... these guys are GREAT to get feedback from once they are in their element. The thing that annoys me is that this group of gamers appears to not comprehend their own limitations and therefore insist on being involved in conversations that they are simply not well suited to participate in. When I (in particular) try to point this out, they get rather annoyed and continue to derail the conversation with all sorts of junk that has nothing to do with anything relevant to the discussion being had.

So I am faced with a bit of an interesting dilema. I can simply NOT try to discuss anything in order to not cause the "Grog" types (as in the parable) to blow a fuse in frustration, or I can post and be forced to remind the "Grogs" that they should probaby refrain from posting until we have a demo out. I've been doing the latter, but obviously not posting at all is much easier, though everybody would complain (as they were before I started posting again smile.gif ).

Now, why must I correct those who aren't "getting it"? Well, do you REALLY think it was valuable to have had heated, passionate posts made telling us how wrong we were for dropping hexes and how utterly useless 3D graphics are to wargames back in the pre-CMBO Alpha AAR? Post after post telling us that we should not try to "fix what isn't broken"? All the while knowing that there was not a chance in Hell that we were going to do as they asked? I don't see any value in such posts, instead actually seeing them as harming discussion.

To sum up... context is not as important as some think. What is more important is to have the capacity for imagination and to understand that competent change should be embraced, not fought tooth and nail against. The latter would have kept CMBO from being created, the former is what made it possible.

Steve

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I want a tactical game where [nation X]'s units use [nation X]'s formations and tactics as well as weapons and language.

I want to be able to play on a huge map using huge forces with the option to actually command only a part of them, including a different part or parts each turn.

I want my side to attempt to complete its objectives without my intervening at all, if the mood strikes me to watch a battle rather than fight one.

I want to LOSE, painfully and quickly, if I use tactics that wouldn't have worked in real life.

I want a reason to conserve my men and materiel as carefully as real commanders must, and I want to know that my opponent(s) must do the same.

That's a start. How BFC does it isn't my concern. Perhaps they can build me my perfect house through cunning use of hamster wheels, gas jets, and dumbwaiters. On the other hand, maybe it'll have a fusion reactor in the closet and broadcast power covering the entire property. Whatever, just so the game's fun.

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OK

That sounds Great Steve

Just Please don't stop posting news and engaging those commited to progress!

smile.gif

This worries some of us:

"or I can post and be forced to remind the "Grogs" that they should probaby refrain from posting until we have a demo out. I've been doing the latter, but obviously not posting at all is much easier,"

Remind the folks (niche group) you are trying to address in your sig line on EVERY POST!

How about adding something suitable to your signature line:

"Remember what your mother told you"

"If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all"

OR

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem!

OR

"If it looks to me like you are the one making the most noise in the most unproductive way with the most disrepectifull tone, DON'T be surprised if I completely ignore your posts and focus on something more productive because we are moving forward with you or without you!" :D (I had wanted to put something in there about "dragging them kicking and screaming" but it did not seem productive, and could slow down the progress smile.gif )

I like that last one...

I am Sure that anyone as creative and talented as the writer of the car designer parable that began this thread can come up with a suitable disclaimer or WARNING (!) for the sig line. :D

Good Luck

Please just don't stop engaging those interested in the progress and the design and developement of the new game!

thanks

-tom w

[ February 14, 2005, 10:49 AM: Message edited by: aka_tom_w ]

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Here is a concrete example of why CONTEXT is not all that important. I'll use the pre-CMBO debates as an example because it is directly comparable to what is going on now.

When we told people that there were to be no hexes, we did so with a clear explanation that we were doing this to increase realism. The Grogs of the world were very, very upset. We were told, in no uncertain terms, to put the hexes back in. We got long tirades about the time honored tradition of using hexes and how dare we push this aside for whatever reason. Lectures about how we were abandoning our customer base for some useless, graphical fluff features that we should be ashamed to have even suggested could possibly be of value to wargamers. The lame attempts to illustrate the game system advantages of hexes were always, very easily defeated in rational discussions because there are no inherent advantages. Protesters therefore generally resisted engaging in debates about the merits of going with our system because, fundamentally, they didn't want it for emotional reasons and not pragmatic ones.

This is the way SOME people responded to the few bones I put out. Especially the 1:1 representation threads, since I went into a fair amount of practical discussion (i.e. context) about what all this would mean for the game system. Some simply refused to have anything good to say about it, but instead telling us that we should just abandon the system because we simply wouldn't be able to make it work. This, of course, coming from people who have been playing the games we made for more than 4 years thinking that its the best thing since sliced bread. In other words, our credibility means little. Which is why I keep going back to the hex and 3D discussions... we had the same flak, the same doubts, the same lack of respect... and we proved those guys so wrong it isn't even funny. Yet here we are as if the last 6-7 years of our discussions and games never existed.

And you wonder why so few developers bother talking with their core customers.... :D

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

And you wonder why so few developers bother talking with their core customers.... :D

Steve

So don't bother... ;) I don't try and peek under the wrapping on my Christmas presents on 23 December, either... Perfectly happy to see what you have in store for us. I found with CMAK that "conversations" on cupholders after release were largely unappreciated in any event. I guess we weren't suffiently in awe of the V-8 under the hood to have inspired you to fix it....Just get the Stens and Thompsons right, we'll be happy. :D
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Steve,

My big issue is AI. I want it better, smarter, cleverer. I want it to use combined arms tactics.

Is this a cupholder or a redesign? Based on some past threads it seemed like it was a redesign.

This is what I care about most.

Warren

PS By the way, I agree with treeburst that a simulation of a company or battalian commanders job would also be way cool.

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Why do I bother? Well, I do honestly ask myself that question more frequently than I would like. But the answer keeps coming back the same... it helps us feel connected to my customers, and my customers to feel connected to us. However, I do think it is helpful to try to redirect discussions that are going down unproductive paths, especially if it is likely to keep cropping up in other future discussions.

WP,

Something like "make the AI better" is sorta a cupholder thing, but only because AI always needs to be better. CMx1's AI is a lot better than any other tactical wargame AI I can think of, but it is indeed imperfect. And I did have a thread on that specific topic, in fact, which you might want to look for in case you missed it (actually, Tom put my initial post earlier in this thread).

Steve

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Ok, to me these last piece of explanation is perfectly clear.

I therefore stand by my earlier view on this. We suggest and think about how this game could look like/be better/explore new horizons, and we do so in many directions, thinking about just as much important principles as we can, and if this sparks something up in BFC mind, all the better. These ideas can be, in fact most of them probably are, silly, but they can keep the debate going.

And for the complaining part, my mind is at ease on this count: I simply cannot pretend to sustain any argument with someone who earns a living creating games while I don't. The fact that I play them so much entitles me with some credibility as to what may be worth considering from a design standpoint. Fair enough.

That being said, I'll retire and go see some other CMx2 thread where I belong and suggest those of you who harbor the next big idea about game design to do the same. Otherwise your ideas might get lost in all the noise.

Cheers.

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Why do I bother? Well, I do honestly ask myself that question more frequently than I would like. But the answer keeps coming back the same... it helps us feel connected to my customers, and my customers to feel connected to us. However, I do think it is helpful to try to redirect discussions that are going down unproductive paths, especially if it is likely to keep cropping up in other future discussions.

So where were you during the CMAK patch threads? We didn't see hide nor hair of you, and I thought those threads were incredibly productive. That was, naturally, from a grog point of view. I got the impression you felt differently.

Perhaps it is one of those artistic vs. nuts and bolts type debates, which I will admit unabashedly that I fall firmly on the nuts-and-bolts side of the fence.

You play your games, we play ours... :D

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Water under the bridge...

Lets look forward shall we?

smile.gif

-tom w

Originally posted by Michael Dorosh:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Why do I bother? Well, I do honestly ask myself that question more frequently than I would like. But the answer keeps coming back the same... it helps us feel connected to my customers, and my customers to feel connected to us. However, I do think it is helpful to try to redirect discussions that are going down unproductive paths, especially if it is likely to keep cropping up in other future discussions.

So where were you during the CMAK patch threads? We didn't see hide nor hair of you, and I thought those threads were incredibly productive. That was, naturally, from a grog point of view. I got the impression you felt differently.

Perhaps it is one of those artistic vs. nuts and bolts type debates, which I will admit unabashedly that I fall firmly on the nuts-and-bolts side of the fence.

You play your games, we play ours... :D </font>

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So where were you during the CMAK patch threads? We didn't see hide nor hair of you, and I thought those threads were incredibly productive. That was, naturally, from a grog point of view. I got the impression you felt differently.
Others were looking at those threads while I did other things (like working on CMx2). Many of those threads, however, were attempts to get us to invest quite a lot of time into the core of the CMx1 engine. Did we fix everything that you guys wanted fixed? I know we didn't. We didn't for CMBO or CMBB either.

A reasonable person would be happy about the 98% of the stuff they got with the shipping version, but of course we know how some of you guys operate. Even if the glass is almost overflowing, some think the glass is nearly empty. We have absolutely no intention of spending our limited resources in a vain and useless attempt to make such people happy since it is so painfully obvious that they never will be.

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />So where were you during the CMAK patch threads? We didn't see hide nor hair of you, and I thought those threads were incredibly productive. That was, naturally, from a grog point of view. I got the impression you felt differently.

Others were looking at those threads while I did other things (like working on CMx2). Many of those threads, however, were attempts to get us to invest quite a lot of time into the core of the CMx1 engine. Did we fix everything that you guys wanted fixed? I know we didn't. We didn't for CMBO or CMBB either.

A reasonable person would be happy about the 98% of the stuff they got with the shipping version, but of course we know how some of you guys operate. Even if the glass is almost overflowing, some think the glass is nearly empty. We have absolutely no intention of spending our limited resources in a vain and useless attempt to make such people happy since it is so painfully obvious that they never will be.

Steve </font>

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Steve, I do not blame you for getting mad, it is amazing to me to see how some act. I think you said it best "as this is not the place to get the thinking about game design" that you desire to hear.

Years ago, many wanted someone to come along and make a game on the computer to match the board game series of squad leader. Even though I understand that your approach was different than that game, your cm games became the game that filled that slot. Many, many of your players come from that backround, and many of the minor request come from things that sort of gaming expearence had brought. Most of us are not "real thinkers outside the box"

Trust in your abilities and go where you think you can take this war gaming too, shock us all with a new level of gaming that will make us want to burn everything we own to this point.

I and some around me have always wanted one game that could play well, that could give you the fill that cm does now, but also allowed you to be the commander in a single tank, or the sniper taking out that important unit leader. or any unit. On the other hand to also give you the fill of being the commander of the entire force.

I might be wrong, but no game has ever given you that much capability, to experence all the different levels of combat in one single game,

this is my best shot of thinking big, if you don't like it, thats fine, I never claimed to be a game designer smile.gif

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Jeez I never realised until today what a Grog Wingr Dorosh is! At the end of the day I agree with Steve, stop thinking about the past. If BFC make a new gae and you dont like it, go out and buy something else, or even design your own! BFC dont owe anyone anything. Thanks guys for the great games I play no, some aspects may be imperfect, but, AI will never be perfect, graphics will never be perfect either. For gods sake, get a grip here. Its a game. If BFC listened to only Grogs they would never make a penny. BFC I trust you to take us to the next level. If you dont I will look elsewhere. Get real here people, its a game...... Not real life.... Let them bring it out and then vote with you money...

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Although I would say this as well. BFC, just dont get involved any more untill at least the Demo comes out. Let them bray and Winge. Bloody hell, ask the grogs to give you a thousand dollars each and say youll include what they want, see what happens then. And finally, most guys dont want a perfect wing mirror on their kubelwagen, most guys want a great playable game. GET REAL.

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Steve,

I think the problem that Grog has is that the car designer already has a plan for his new car and already knows the basic shape. Grog doesn't know about that, and merely telling him to think bigger doesn't help him any, even if the designer gives a few examples of things that Grog can not really imagine.

Going back to CM, I can only speak for myself, but still:

When I read the short news post on VoodooExtreme that a small new company called Battlefront was developing a new turn-based strategy game (yes, it did say turn-based strategy) and I decided to take a look, I couldn't get much information out of the forum except some basic design goals like the WeGo concept (which sounded interesting) and the TacAI. This wasn't nearly enough to enable me to get a feel for how the game would be. But the Alpha AAR had just started, and that was what really got me interested, and it painted a much better picture of the game than any forum thread could.

I think we have a similar problem now. You can't get your ideas across with just words. Of course, you may not want to do a CMx2 Alpha AAR because you don't want to give away your design secrets, or the coding is not yet done to the point where a game would be possible. But most of us will not be able to imagine what you have in mind without something like an AAR. Not your fault, of course...

Dschugaschwili

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"A reasonable person would be happy about the 98% of the stuff they got with the shipping version, but of course we know how some of you guys operate. Even if the glass is almost overflowing, some think the glass is nearly empty. We have absolutely no intention of spending our limited resources in a vain and useless attempt to make such people happy since it is so painfully obvious that they never will be."

That is where the disconnect happens: You say 98% but to me it feels more like 80-85% and therein lies the frustration and feeling of abandonment...

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Does that then perhaps suggest you are one of those "unreasonable" people Steve describes here (as opposed to the reasonable person who would be happy with the %98 offered in the first place) :

"we have no intention of spending our limited resources in a vain and useless attempt to make such people happy since it is so painfully obvious that they never will be."

I think programers have a saying, it goes something like this:

"The last bug will be found only once the last user is dead"

OR

"You will ship with bugs: I've always said that the last bug will be found when the last customer dies. Accept that you have to set the right quality bar, but that realistically you won't reach an absolute zero on bugs. Your priority should be that your features work as advertised - first fix the bugs that users will hit. And make sure you have a great post-sales support process in place to love the customers if they run into a serious problem."

-tom w

Originally posted by BigAlMoho:

"A reasonable person would be happy about the 98% of the stuff they got with the shipping version, but of course we know how some of you guys operate. Even if the glass is almost overflowing, some think the glass is nearly empty. We have absolutely no intention of spending our limited resources in a vain and useless attempt to make such people happy since it is so painfully obvious that they never will be."

That is where the disconnect happens: You say 98% but to me it feels more like 80-85% and therein lies the frustration and feeling of abandonment...

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