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PBEM in CMx2


Andreas

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Originally posted by Schrullenhaft:

I think BFC/BTS are quite aware of how popular PBEM is to those players who frequent the forums. However not all of CM's players frequent these forums (as hard as that is to believe for some people) and most likely forum members don't even constitute the majority of people who have purchased and played the game. Therefore, as much as we may not like to think so, our thoughts on how CM is played and what features must be in the next version may not match the overall reality or potential demand.

I don't believe that BFC/BTS is trying to get rid of their current player/fan base in a quest for some mythical audience of millions of untapped players who would suddenly want a wargame of CM's nature. I believe that a number of people on these forums are over-reacting and making knee-jerk reactive statements as if every detail of CM's development is known and has been decided, especially if it effects them negatively in their opinion. I don't think that BFC/BTS will drop PBEM if they can help it and they may even pursue other options as yet unmentioned (though these pose their own risks/costs too) if need be.

As Steve said, the main issue is the size of the data files that get generated. For many people this does pose a problem for PBEM since a vast majority of mail systems have limitations on attachment sizes. A built-in SMTP server/email client is also not a completely feasible option either (this is how some SPAM is generated on the net and it would be noted by some email systems as such). Possibly breaking the PBEM into fixed size chunks is a possibility, though the potential file size of PBEM turns could still cause problems if the total aggregated file size ends up very large (50+ Mb, etc.), though such huge sizes for a single turn seem unlikely for a majority of play in CMx2.

As noted above all of this is just speculation at this point and Steve was just warning players that some changes could come along that not all users would like. He cautioned that these details are still not known at this point in development. Nevertheless several posters decided they would harangue him on this point with threats along the line of I'll never buy your &$%^! again if you drop PBEM. It's pretty hard to reply to people who react like this without reading things thoroughly (and attempting to get clarification). It's also one of the reasons why Steve hates talking about things in development and speaks of 'grogs' derisively since it was this sort of ardent 'fan' that gave him the most grief regarding CMBO's feature-set and development.

Another thing to remember, the PBEM file size isn't increasing solely due to 'eye candy' considerations. Relative spotting could have one of the largest effects in increasing PBEM file size - and this is considered one of the key improvements in CM by both BFC/BTS and most users on these forums.

FINALLY!!!!

Someone who speaks with an open mind and even understands as I do what Steve is saying.

I personally would like to see a game that fixes the many existing problems of the original CM series.As well as adds new features to make the game even better and more realistic than its predessesors.And if that means they have to remove PBEM to do so than so be it.I will buy the game with or without PBEM.

As Steve has said numerous times.They would like to keep PBEM in if at all possible... BUT they will not sacrifice features or any part of the game just to keep it..and if it is not practical they will remove it and not lose any sleep over it.Its all part of the game industry.Something that worked before may not work as well or even be practical because the game engine and such outgrows its ability to support said feature.This is the case with PBEM in Combat Mission.What worked for the original 3 games may not work or be practical for the new CM engine and games.

So to close everyone just needs to cool there jets and just wait and see what happens.I can understand the want for PBEM but if they need to remove it to make the game they want then thats the way it is and no amount of whining or crying will change the fact.And if that means some refuse to buy simply based on PBEM then that is their loss..there are most likely 10 more that will buy instead.BFC has a proven track record of making the best wargames out there compared to many other companies and I for one will trust that record and their commitment to make the best game they possibly can.Not many other companies can say as much.Few game companies have the dedication to their games as BFC does.And to me that should be enough to give them the benifit of the doubt and just wait and see what happens.

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Originally posted by Tero:

Perhaps the answer to the file size issue is to rethink the data which is required to make the play back file. The units will have memories built in now. Can that already stored game play memory be used to cut back the amount of data which needs to be transferred between the machines ?

This was brought up in the other thread.

Basically, the 'memory' (relative spotted info list for each unit), would be constantly changing during the game turn as it is updated.

It depends on how the new movieplayback will be seen by each side. If its a overview and not a relative view (basically something like we have now), then what you are saying may be true.

If it has relative function playback, seeing the turn from a unit's perspective, then much more data will probably have to be sent.

When playing PBEM, one machine crunches all info for both sides. It then sends that info over to the other player to be viewed first. So this may be a 'light' file if it contains non-relative playback. Its an overall 'grand' generic view. But when the file is returned, and the next player views it for his first time, he can view the turn in both a 'grand' view OR a relative view. He already has all the info needed to do that (it was generated on his sytem right?).

But once he plans his turn and sends his email, he will be sending a much larger file. He must include at least the relative info for just his opponent. But he does not need to resend the 'grand' view.

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IF PBEM makes into any future products. PLEASE have some form of letting the player know that he is just viewing the movie AND should turn that 'movie' around IMMEDIATELY to the other player. Something like an auto email notice. Anything! I am so sick of people just sitting on movie turns when they could have returned the file back to the other player who COULD be planning moves.

OK that was a rant.

Why not have an auto return before the player can even view the movie?

He sees the email. It says in the email title MOVIE TURNAROUND, and he knows that all he has to do is download it and it auto starts CM and generates a return file automatically and sends it back?

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You guys are either extremely narrowminded or just blind!

If anything 1% plays CM BB/AK as PBEM. And, who knows if PBEM will be in or not, are you just deliberating not reading what Steve said, or ignoring it? Sheesh, I'm glad I dont have to deal with you as my customer base!

PS! Who gives a **** if you are going to buy it or not depending on PBEM is in or not? Not BFC, so give it a rest.

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Originally posted by Panzer76:

You guys are either extremely narrowminded or just blind!

If anything 1% plays CM BB/AK as PBEM. And, who knows if PBEM will be in or not, are you just deliberating not reading what Steve said, or ignoring it? Sheesh, I'm glad I dont have to deal with you as my customer base!

PS! Who gives a **** if you are going to buy it or not depending on PBEM is in or not? Not BFC, so give it a rest.

Narrow minded? You?

YES MATE

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1%???? one percent?

I don't think even BFC believes that.

BFC emails people don't they? With announcements and what have you? Why not just send out a poll? They would get a very good feedback as far as who plays in what modes.

[ February 28, 2005, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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Well well - this must be one of my more 'successful' threads. Pretty much one of the few I am embarassed to have started too.

No PBEM would be a bummer, but I'd still buy the game. No surprises there, I guess. But since Steve has not said anything about no PBEM, I guess the chances of really not having it are pretty slim.

As for Steve's style, he is clearly not a natural diplomat. I do think that despite him sometimes losing his temper, we are better off than we would be if we had something like this, for example. (Randy's Blog - "Tarted-up press releases" and "Dad does Disco" was how Lucy Kellaway described it in her column today, singling it out as the best example of why execs should not do blogs). At least from Steve we get an honest view of things, and he actually does get into a debate about things. Like all good grogs, he does of course think he is always right and has a short fuse, too. :D

The reason why I would still buy any Mac-compatible CM product that BFC put out is that I know they will produce something that I would want to play. Prior to CM, I had never even considered playing PBEM or TCP. So I could not have argued for or against it if I had been offered the choice. The same now - I have no idea what they are going to do, but if it is anything near as good as CM-BO/BB/AK are, I know I would want to play it, no matter how.

I think those people accusing Steve of hubris, or arrogance need to imagine something. Imagine a world where you have never played CM in any of its incarnations (i.e. pre-2000). The next five years never happened in the CM universe, you lived a sad life without it. Tomorrow, on 1st March 2005 they publish CMBO in its original form, warts and all. Would you buy it? I would. I know others who would too, because today there are only two games that are better than CMBO at doing squad-level computer combat. They are CMBB and CMAK. Then the whinging about the graphics would start, of course :D

If Steve and his colleagues are proud of what they have done, or think they know better than we do, it is because they have shown in the past that they actually do.

Given the choice, I would want to have the best computer-playable combat simulation there is, regardless of how I can play it. If it is that good, I will find ways to play it. I trust BFC to give me that simulation. Anyone accusing them of dumbing down (as Mike implicitly has done), has not read what Steve has said. They are going to make the game more, not less realistic. Remember the last time that happened? It was the move from CMBO to CMBB in the area of infantry modelling - anyone can recall the amount of stick they got for the game not being 'fun' anymore? or the lack of explosion waves? That probably did cost them some sales too. The decision to put 'Cemetary Hill' on the CMBB CD? Put at least one customer of playing and probably buying the next game. Or why not make CMAK a mythical all things on the west front game with King Tigers and Cromwells? Again a decision to go for historical realism instead of purchase appeal.

We have been around this block so many times. It does not get more interesting at each new iteration. So far BFC have delivered perfectly playable, 'yep that does it for me' products that are far from perfect, but that do what they say on the tin, and that (sadly) after almost five years still have no competition.

I get off my soapbox now.

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Let me see... NARROW MINDED...

Definition says... Not giving a **** about other peoples opinions or a **** about what they think or a **** about what they like...

Now where have I seen that recently?

Some people just choose to be blind.

:D Well... I'd still like some PBEM if you can fit it in please, thanks BFC!

[ February 28, 2005, 10:22 AM: Message edited by: Richie ]

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Mmmmmm....PBEM (or a reasonabe facsimile thereof).

I tend to agree with Andreas to a point. I think that CMBO was frustrating in that you could position your troops to realistically stop any IRL infantry advance and they would still get over run in many instances.

The advancement to CMBB brought more realistic 'behaviour' but it was like they were modeling individual behaviour at the squad level. The game became so 'challenging'. I remember someone suggesting that they should have used the half squad as a means to stop the 'squad-based' terror effect from enveloping the whole squad. So half squads would 'peel' off in many instances. The idea went nowhere. CMAK continued the trend.

In the recent threads, in some cases started by BFC, the designer goes so far as to say he will not read the threads anymore because they will solve the dilemmas that are brought up internally. This is after claiming that the 'Grogs' can not understand the design implications, yet it is they, the Grogs, that are pointing out the issues.

I have extensive customer relations experience. There is nothing to be really gained by calling customer's names. There is nothing to be gained by openly rejecting customer's input. Even if you do (and I did in many but not all cases), don't go out of your way to say so, its just not the profesional business way of dealing with customers. We are all customers or potential customers?

[ February 28, 2005, 11:03 AM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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Many people sell the game after buying it. They just find over time that it is not to thier liking.

Surprise! People who like email games usually do not sell the game. They are keepers.

So every ebay 'sale' is another 'sale' that BFC does not realize. The ebay sale becomes the 'return policy' of the dissatisfied customer.

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I think any numbers on how many people play which way belong in the stats thread. Truth is we all don't know, but it is reasonable to assume that most games are solo games. Then there are the unhinged like me or Kip Anderson, who spend 85% of game time in the editor, 5% in solo-testing, and 10% in PBEM.

But I am quite sure that BFC realise that PBEM is important enough that they should try to make it work. BTW - you can design games in the current engine that will lead to PBEM files that are outside most mail servers' acceptance limit. Very easily. Those are outliers of course. My guess is BFC's worry is that they become the norm with increasing complexity and realism of the game.

What happens after BFC have sold the game is really not something they can do anything about.

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True but keeping a dedicated customer base happy always helps. There will always be copying of unprotected software too. But when there is a situation where people are willing to pay for your product, and you are not benefitting from that, then its really lost revenue.

My own opinion is that software, and even some sealed books, should not be allowed to be sold on ebay. Once a seal is broken, the customer has bought the item under a no-return or sale agreememnt. Ebay is making money off illegal activities and everyone knows it.

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I think any numbers on how many people play which way belong in the stats thread. Truth is we all don't know, but it is reasonable to assume that most games are solo games. Then there are the unhinged like me or Kip Anderson, who spend 85% of game time in the editor, 5% in solo-testing, and 10% in PBEM.

Some would say you actually 'play' the game PBEM 66% of the time!

Are scenario designers more than a few percent of the owners of the game?

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How would you feel, and be honest, if BFC determined that since scenario designers are such a small minority, and they themselves could perhaps make a market from scenario design products (packaged with mugs or other sought after items), that there will be no scenario editor for the new cmx2?

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