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PBEM in CMx2


Andreas

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Steve,

Regarding PBEM, market niches, and advice from Vadr, you wrote, in part(edited for brevity):

Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Obviously we don't agree. There are games that sell hundreds of thousands of more games than we could ever imagine selling, and yet they have HORRID AI (almost none) and no PBEM functionality. The overall game, therefore, is what is important.

Steve [/QB]

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Define "good enough"? Was CMBO "good enough" when it came out, or are the people still playing it 4 years later (plus the two siblings) settling for second best?

My point is that there is no perfect game. Each person has their own conception of what perfect is, and I doubt that it really is perfect. So all we can do is do better than we did before. But not like CMBO to CMBB better... more like Steel Panthers to CMBO kind of better.

Steve

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I never said perfect, I said good enough. Please don't put words in my mouth.

Will it "good enough" in that playing against the AI will be sufficient to sustain my interest in the game, sans the ability to play against humans*? CMBO wasn't, neither was CMBB or CMAK. It was and is playing humes that has sustained my interest. Well, for CMBB and CMAK - CMBO is long gone.

Jon

* Reminder: this thread is about PBEM/async, not TCP or H2H.

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Originally posted by Demster:

Sergei,

I'm not sure you give the casual player enough credit. I would have to place myself as a casual player. I have played maybe two, half games of PBEM and two games of TCP/IP but I have played hundreds of games against the AI and I really enjoy a quick battle. I visit off and on this forum to see what is happening and I might go a few months between games and then play several dozen over a few weeks.

But what has made this game worth playing is the quality put into it. I am by no means a grog and this is the only hard core military game I play but I do appreciate the quality of this game and the opportunity to be the commander of my forces in my eternal quest to win and succeed.

-Demster

This is me in a nut shell.

And like Steve said mostly hard-core gamers and grogs frequent forums like this , most normal people (unlike myself) do other stuff besides posting in forums.

I have drawn the conclusion that I'm a hard-core gamer/computer addict , not that it's a good thing mind you smile.gif .

//Salkin

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BFC is a company out to make as much money as it can. That's great and they're supposed to do that. We all work to make as much money as we can. It's also their right to design the games the way they feel they should be designed. However, let's speculate on what their Big Picture could be.

Steve said several times, that they did not expect or intend the CM games to be played as long as they have. I believe the ability to pbem is a major reason they've lasted so long. When a game is still being played for a long time, it means the customers are satisfied with them. If they're satisfied, they may tend to not buy more games. Why should they if they enjoy what they have? This is bad for a company that wants to sell lots of games.

Steve also said, that BFC wants to release new games every 6-10 months. He said their games are not meant to be played for many years.

Since pbem is likely a major reason why CM games are still being played, and Steve has said that pbem is irrelevant to their Big Picture, does this mean, that BFC is going to become just another game company more concerned with churning out the numbers?

Whatever BFC does, it is their right and their choice.

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It's true to say that BFC did not expect us to be playing the same game for years, but most of us have bought BB and AK and will buy CMx2, because we enjoy the game and want to play the latest version...

Steve said they'll slot in PBEM if they can, and from what I can gather, that's all we can hope for at this stage.

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Define "good enough"? Was CMBO "good enough" when it came out, or are the people still playing it 4 years later (plus the two siblings) settling for second best?

My point is that there is no perfect game. Each person has their own conception of what perfect is, and I doubt that it really is perfect. So all we can do is do better than we did before. But not like CMBO to CMBB better... more like Steel Panthers to CMBO kind of better.

Steve

Well, I don't know about good enough, but like JonS, I define it as something that is challenging and unpredictable. I mean, how many times do I have to defend against an all out full scale rush along a single aoa to figure out how to stop an attack? Answer...not many. You play against one attack, you've played against them all (or so has been my experience). I can give the computer a bonus, but that just makes the odds tougher, not the AI smarter.

As an example, people who played the AI learned how to play the game a certain way. However, once they started playing against humans, a lot of what they learned was quickly exposed as being poor tactics or poor setups. Humans are unpredictable. The AI is (or was shall I say) not.

My fear is that with all the CPU power being sucked up by the LOS checks and other overhead that there will not be enough time spent on the tactical/strategic AI parts of the game. I mean, if, IF, PBEM is unworkable, then the AI has to improve vs. what it was.

Perhaps there will be some "smart" AI, or several different aggression levels for the AI so that each game is uniquely and distinctly different? I don't know, I'm not a programmer. You guys are. I'm just asking before it's too late.

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Originally posted by c3k:

Umm, Steve. Those games you're talking about? You know, no AI, etc.? They sell like hotcakes because they have big-breasted, semi-naked elf chicks. Err, I don't see elf-porn working its way into the East Front, do you?

smile.gif

Ken

You don't have the Red Victory GUI, do you. ;)
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And yes, I understand well designed scenarios can make the AI seem smarter than poorly designed scenarios. A good scenario designer is worth his weight in Tungsten rounds. So it could be my unsatisfactory experience with the AI is a direct function of which scenarios I've played solo.

The question that BTS has yet to answer though, is there increased attention to the AI part of the game or is there really nothing more that can be done in that area?

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Jon,

I never said perfect, I said good enough. Please don't put words in my mouth.
Sorry... what you intended was not very clear. I think CMx2 could be "good enough" with the same AI and no PBEM. Based on how many people probably have never played a multi-player CM game, yet still enjoy it, I'd say that people certainly have different standards.

Will it "good enough" in that playing against the AI will be sufficient to sustain my interest in the game, sans the ability to play against humans*?
I'm not sure why you put it like this and then add the disclaimer which shows you understand that your worries are nullified. CMx2 will ship with the ability to play TCP/IP and H2H and that means there is no need to worry about being stuck with just the single player experience. The only question is if PBEM will be one of those Human vs. Human options, either at all or in a practical sense.

As for the quality of the AI... we'll know when it is done and not before then. It's not something that we can plan on being good, bad, or otherwise. Well, not in the way you're asking for anyway. From a design standpoint of course we are designing it to be the best ever made :D

Steve

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Sanok

BFC is a company out to make as much money as it can.
Qualifier... we are out to make as much money as we can in a very difficult, fickle, and sometimes (as has been demonstrated quite well recently) thoroughly ungrateful nice market. If we wanted to make as much money as we can, the LAST thing we would be doing is this stuff.

Since pbem is likely a major reason why CM games are still being played, and Steve has said that pbem is irrelevant to their Big Picture, does this mean, that BFC is going to become just another game company more concerned with churning out the numbers?
Like all good conspiracy theories... one must start with a total distortion of facts. PBEM's inclusion, or exclusion, rests on technical issues alone. I have said this countless times, and have been ignored by the likes of you each and every time. Well, except when the nonsense arguments came out such as "make sure that PBEM is the #1 priority, even if it means hobbling progress in a major way". The only reason why I brought up the bit about "we never intended you to play the games for 4 years" is because this was offered up, by the likes of you, as something that is important enough that we should purposefully restrict progress just so PBEM can be a sure bet.

So, your logic is "game can only be good if it is played for 4 years, and PBEM is an essential tool to make this happen, therefore you must include PBEM". Our logic is... well, actually logical ;) Specifically, "our games were never intended to be played for 4 years, you got your money's worth probably after 2-3 months of play, therefore we don't owe you a single thing beyond that. If the lack of PBEM shortens your enjoyment to 1 year instead of 4, you're still getting too much for what you paid so shut your yap and quite whining". Or somefink like that :D

Now, hear me loud and clear Followers of Whiney and Beaters of the Dead Horse... PBEM will be in if we can, and not taken out for any other reason besides it being technically impossible. Conspiracy theories started by Sanok to imply that we might be chopping PBEM out for marketing reasons can kindly show themselves to the door 'cause I have no intention of being civil to people that would insult our proven integrity like this.

Have I made myself clear YET?

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

I'm not sure why you put it like this and then add the disclaimer which shows you understand that your worries are nullified.

Heh - it was meant to head off your red herring, but it didn't work.

For me H2H and TCP aren't practical options. The version of CMx2 I buy will have them, of course, but they will not be used. So, promising to include code that I can't use does nothing to nullify my worries.

Cheers

Jon

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Heh - it was meant to head off your red herring, but it didn't work.
I knew what you meant the first time smile.gif

For me H2H and TCP aren't practical option
Don't be so sure. Some people would think they can't get by without TV or a microwave, but I bet they could if they had to smile.gif If PBEM is absent form CMx2, you might just find out that TCP/IP isn't really all that bad. Perhaps it might even be better. Certainly is faster to complete a game.

Steve

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Juardis,

The question that BTS has yet to answer though, is there increased attention to the AI part of the game or is there really nothing more that can be done in that area?
Oh, there is certainly more to be done in this area. Always is. I have mentioned some of them recently, but here are a couple:

1. Relative Spotting - makes the player less certain about what is going on, hinders his ability to be Borg/God, and in general causes him to be more in the dark (various options make this more or less true, player choice). Since higher level planning is the hardest AI behavior to program, reducing the player's ability to plan so well (i.e. know more than he should) automatically levels the playing field a bit more in favor of the AI.

2. More detailed C&C simulation - similar to above, the increased challenges that come with more realistic C&C mean that the Human player will find it more difficult to react to the AI in a Borg/God like way. This is also made more/less difficult through player choices, but since the players that are asking for a better challenge should be playing the game at its most challenging level, it is assumed they will be using such features (and if they don't, they have no grounds for complaints).

3. Scenario Editor Tools - there are a variety of things we can offer the Scenario Designers to coax better, more scenario specific behavior out of he AI. Currently there is no direct way to do this in CMx1, though there are certainly "dos and don'ts" the really experienced Scenario Designers have discovered through trial and error.

And lots of other stuff too, but I don't want to get into those things yet.

So... yes, the AI in CMx2 should be a lot more challenging than the AI in CMx1. Will it actually turn out that way? We won't know until it is programmed, but we'd be pretty bummed if it didn't.

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Heh - it was meant to head off your red herring, but it didn't work.

I knew what you meant the first time smile.gif

For me H2H and TCP aren't practical option
Don't be so sure. Some people would think they can't get by without TV or a microwave, but I bet they could if they had to smile.gif If PBEM is absent form CMx2, you might just find out that TCP/IP isn't really all that bad. Perhaps it might even be better. Certainly is faster to complete a game.

Steve </font>

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

PBEM is not the game. But without it the desired playability and customer product life is severely hampered for those who are diehard PBEM players.

Separation axiety is catching. smile.gif

You hardcore Grogs are great... but at $45 you guys aren't large enough to keep the bills paid, not to mention expanding what we are capable of doing.

I just hope we band of brothers have not become the fringe group weighing your down. smile.gif

What a dumb thing to say.

How long have you been married and how many kids do you have ?

With the added cost of upgrading the HW for the sole purpose of playing CMx2 the overall argumentation has to be VERY solid. :D

you can't tell me that the price per hour of entertainment is still lower than any other form of entertainment out there (excluding masturbation, of course smile.gif )

And you can not tell me that solo play (which is much like masturbation) is good enough when compared to going head to head (pun inteded) at your own leisure instead of both being in the mood for it despite global time zone and/or other limitations.

Sorry, I get that at home often enough. :D

Have you not been paying attention? We haven't a clue and won't have a clue until the game is coded. Anything I say now will be wrong.

I have been paying attention. And you never admitted in so many words you did not know the size, you only said it MAY be possible that the file size might become an issue. You really should know us better than that to go blurting things like that in a growd as exitable as this one. smile.gif

What are you talking about? It's been $20 for a dog's age, and was $35 before that. If you purchase it as part of a multi-purchase bundle it is even cheaper. And you Europeans have the CDV Anthology available too. Having said that, we have avoided the bargain bin. But since the bargain bin is a tool for retail, at the detriment of the developer, everybody here should be happy we've avoided this.

So you do agree that after all these (dog) years you still get more for a copy than the average gaming company around ?

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Originally posted by Juardis:

My sentiments exactly.

And what, I can't give no more vino away via PBEM tourney's, sheez ... this has serious repurcussions for Charles' jar fluid! :eek:

Sincerely,

Charl Theron

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Co-creator & Sponsor of the following CM tournaments:

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“I am simultaneously embarrassed and proud to state for the record that only two bottles of your fine South African wines remain in my wine rack. The rest gave their lives honorably in the service of the construction of CMAK over the past several months.” -- Charles Moylan, CM programmer, 28 Nov03

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Thankyou Steve for clarifying things.

I for one don't read every post in every thread about CMx2, in fact, far from it, so I appreciate your time in spelling things out. I don't think I'm the only one. For many of us (if I can speak for others) we're hearing some of this for the first time... even if you've said it all before.

Maybe for some of us CMx1 is an old dog that's kept us company for years and we don't want to see it put down, even if the new pup is full of life and promise, bites and chews, like the old dog used to be years ago. We like the old dog, she's become a good friend.

That said I have alot of faith in your product and I can't wait to see the demo...

Richie

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