I was in a Lancaster over Bremen...
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://www.quartertothree.com/fp/2017/12/04/bomber-crew-demands-help-help-help-bombardier/
I was in a Lancaster over Bremen...
An excellent read.
I’ve heard some people complain about the interface, but I’m pretty sure that based on how smart the rest of the design is, this is an intended feature. … This is the game’s cognitive load, and it is deliberate and well executed.
Yeah, it’s intentional. They intend it to suck. If you overwhelm my brain with more threats than I can process at one time, maybe that’s a good thing. But don’t overwhelm me with pixel-hunting.
How cool would it be to have a crew that (mostly) stayed together through 25 missions, have a log that shows their kills, successful bombing runs, ammo expended, etc.?
Could we at least see which gunners got kills at the end of the mission? Or how many fighters we shot down? Anything? This is where the game breaks down for me. I don’t feel like I’m in a loop of getting information, making informed decisions, getting information on the results of my actions, and learning how to do better next time. I just take off, frantically click on stuff, and either end up crashed or back at base with little idea of what I did wrong or right. And if I do crash, I’ll just get a new bomber that’s as good as the one I lost. It’s like the game is trying to remind me that my actions don’t matter.
Strangely, I think all that is what made the game appealing to me the most. Arguably, I am just a masochist player - and also not a grognard, at all -, but I thought the game was all about that frantic panic in an attempt to evoke what it may have been like to go on board those bombers. The game lost its appeal with me too quickly to my taste, but, in a way, because of the excess of information it was giving to me and the power curve it was assuming me to pursue. Then, as Bruce described, you quickly learn to game the game on certain aspects, because that’s how we are (personally, I think the exploits weren’t intentional, but, after the uprising over no pause option on release already, the devs knew better for their damn Steam overall score than to add more difficulty). I can still play Bomber Crew for the bombing themed Cook Serve Delicious it is, but that wasn’t what was thrilling me in the first few hours. Still, those first moments, I’d recommend to anyone.
Not to be snarky, but you’re doing it wrong lol. BC is in actuality a very grindy game, equipment and especially crew levels are massively important. Re-equipping a plane is one thing, if you actually have the money to fully do it, it’s not much of a setback, but losing a mid to high level crew member is a big deal. You really do need to spend some time running those easy missions and building up a plane and crew before advancing on the main story line.
I agree that the game has horrible feedback in terms of what’s happening under the hood, but then again, I think it’s a game that people may be looking for way too much from. This is a tiny little game, made by a handful of people, that never expected it to actually do much. I think it’s meant as a casual, sort of grindy clicker. There are definite game loops that are repeated, like…they will always send a fighter squadron right as you have to line up a bomb. In reality, it’s a very simple and repetitive game, with very few actual mechanics.
This was a great read, Bruce. I haven’t played the game, and you explained very precisely why it’s not for me. It’s a cool idea, though.
If they are, why does the game give me back exactly the guys I just lost, at the same levels, with the same primary skills, when I wipe? I think it’s telling me that they don’t matter that much.
I’m not sure that’s necessarily the case, either. I’ve flown missions on the last step of the campaign with no crew equipment whatsoever and done just fine. In fact, I did this several times so that I wouldn’t so I wouldn’t spend needless money before I was ready to gear up my plane for the last mission. I agree that you need to build up the plane for the critical mission of the campaign, but my point was leveling up the plane over the course of the game is pointless: once you get to each campaign stage, it fixes your plane’s advancements so that you have equipment generally appropriate for that stage. In the last step, for example, you always have Standard Engines Mk 5 on your inboard engines and Mk 4 on the outboard engines. So progress is really just over that one campaign step.
As we have learned from French New Criticism, authorial intent is irrelevant :) But I do appreciate what you’re saying, which I think is that the game is less ambitious than we think. This is one of the great tragedies of this game, in my opinion: it could have been so much better than it is. But it obviously sold very well, so what do I know?
Great write-up, although I disagree with the end result. But then I think that’s the sign of a great write-up; I can appreciate it despite holding a differing opinion.
I’ve put plenty of hours into the game, and would second the “play the easier missions some more” strategy. I’ve only lost my plane a couple times, and the integrity of the crew does matter. Of note, it used to be more extreme; replacement crew and planes used to be worse, but the developers responded to complaints and tweaked that to make it a bit easier to recover.
As for the plane, grinding through some easier missions to build up both unlocks and affords you better gear than the minimum needed. When you lose a plane and get the “basics” for that point in the campaign, you really feel it unless you’ve got quite the bankroll to make up for the loss.
Still, for me this is a great casual game that’s best enjoyed in half-hour to one-hour chunks. If I went in expecting a simulator or heavy strategy experience, I’d be quite let down. That said, there’s certainly a market niche out there for such a game like that and I hope it gets filled sooner than later.
I can totally believe that. I’m just not on the same wavelength as the developers so I keep expecting things to work one way and it turns out to be the opposite.
I went back to try and get the “30 mission” achievement (get a crewmember to survive 30 missions). I actually went 32 missions before losing anybody at all, but on mission #33 I got shot down returning from a high-risk raid on an airbase and half my crew died after the crash landing. I think I’m done with it for good now, but it was an interesting ride. The second time through emphasized to me how much better the game could have been. Nice design on their part, though. Just not for me.
A Kerbal WWII game might be nice, where you can design your own bombers.
Makes me think of Cannon Fodder’s bobble headed cannon fodder, Boot Hill and its anti-war message… only without the message!
Interesting read. I’m not sure the structure of the game is for me and I’m also not keen on ‘disposable characters’ design either (hence why I mentioned Cannon Fodder above). I could get by in games like X-COM and Darkest Dungeon but here it sounds like the churn is high. Even in RTS games I don’t like throwing my dudes into the grinder. This is why my brother always beat me.
Given bomber loss rates over Europe in World War 2, both planes and crews were ultimately disposable. That part they got right.
Very true. Fifty percent of Bomber Command crew never returned.
You were Bruce Grey back in the year 2000? How many more nom de guerre you have out there on the internet?
Ugh. Makes me think of Catch-22.
Heh, GameSpot just changed all my bylines at some point to “Bruce Grey.” I don’t know why. I used my real name with them (and pretty much anywhere else I actually got paid). I saw the same thing happen with bylines of my contemporaries so maybe that’s some policy they have with older content.
Yeah absolutely. I think that just saddens me in the same way as it did with Cannon Fodder to be honest. I wouldn’t really want the game to not reflect the reality but as a gameplay loop losing levelled up dudes sounds annoying.