Just sharing a link to a discussion on the Matrix forums. Lower level scale is an intriguing idea that would probably work well. Especially in a linked-scenario campaign setting. Also repeating something I posted in this thread: Potential game designers might want to notice that VR Designs is open to commercial joint ventures with proven scenario designers that have shown they can find their way around with the editor and the engine AI.
Oh.. and thanks for taking the poll everybody. The results where quite clear: 75% of the players who answered the poll are basically “AI players”. This would have to be adjusted for the fact that PBEM players are more than averagely active on websites and fora and so in reality the PBEM gamer is probably only 1 out of 6-8 players. For VR it reinforces the fact that we need to have as good as possible AI in our games and cannot rely on telling players to just play eachother. Not saying there is no market for PBEM only games, but being already in a niche it seems like going after a subsection of an already small player base.
This would really just take a second of your time. Please tell me if you play your turn-based strategy games mostly against the AI or also against other human players.
The results will be shown to you after you have selected an answer in the poll.
In this post I would like to share 5 games with you that I really liked as a younger player and that have elements that are still driving my design.
1. Empire Deluxe
The thing that I am taking from this game is exploration. If you ask me there is something magical in sending out that Destroyer and exploring the coastlines of unknown continents. And then later on follow it up with a cargoship dropping of troops to take hold of the continent and explore its interior.
2. Advance Wars
The thing that I am trying to take from this game is ease of play while retaining depth. I want Workname Empire to be playable and a pleasure to move units around, do combat or just look around the map.
3. Romance of the Three Kingdoms
The thing that I like here is that leaders play such an important role. What I am trying to do in Workname Empire is to have real bonding between the player and the leaders he has available. They will have stats and skills and be able to develop as the game continues and they gain more experience. Probably wandering leaders will also be recruitable or will join you from one of your cities.
Next to the artwork done by Steve Ford (who also did AT and ATG artwork) I loved the heroes in this game. It really got it right in my opinion. The ability to chose to use them in the frontline or as wandering explorers searching out the treasures of the temples was very cleverly done. Expect to see the same kind of dual use leaders in Workname Empire.
5. The whole wargame tradition
There is a zillion games in the SSI and Matrix catalogue I played a lot. I group them together here because in a way I love them for the same reasons. I love frontlines, lines of supply, combined arms, concentric attacks, manouvre and lots of tables of modifications. What I am trying to do with Workname Empire is to keep the essential rules of most wargames in, but making them as streamlined and accessible as possible.
Hope you all enjoyed this little flash to the past and will have some more news soon.
I am a bit to late with my September report am I not? Well yes I am. Its because it has not been an easy September and October. I had some setbacks with the AI I was coding for Workname Empire. And putting quality above else I had to restart.
As usual i tried to make a to deep AI in the first attempt and it turned out I couldn’t manage to make it work at any reasonable speed. Like just 100 iterations for a small group of maybe 5 units already took like 20 seconds… And if I actually made the AI look into the deeper future (like a round or 3) its speed dropped to completely unacceptable. So I took a big breath and restarted, this time using an approach that will guarantee speed. Where in the previous attempts I used cloned game states of the actual game state I am now using an abstract representation of the game state. Much like the human mind probably ;)
Basically when considering its moves the AI is now in its own little world, a world that is much more simple data-wise than the real game and thus much faster. I think a speed gain of at least up to a 100 times is going to be achieved by this new approach. This will leave room to add some some optional higher AI settings for players who want to wait longer to get better results.
I have made quite some further gameplay improvements to Workname Empire as well. Longer development time has some payoffs. The most interesting thing to share is that the leader model is really starting to get a lot body. The leaders are getting a lot of personality and development opportunities now. There are four classes: Troopers, Technicals, Administrators and Barbarians. Although I am not limiting the player in their character development there is a penalty for learning skills belonging to other classes. The interplay between regular combat units and the leaders is very good and I think it will be one of the strong points of this game. In a sense this game is going where no wargame has gone before. The game will also show the player that larger forces can be overcome by smaller forces if led by able and experienced officers.
Hope to tell you all the AI is working out in my November report. Hoping to have the interface completed by x-mas.
In the meantime Decisive Campaigns 3 is also slowly progressing. I am adding some advanced new reporting functions as we speak as well as the option to take multiple choice decisions when confronted with specific issues. I am working with an as yet secret other developer on this title, if we feel comfortable in opening up to the public we will. So far so good though.