It can’t be a coincidence that the guy who made Afghanistan '11 is also South African.
That should have been me. But I couldn’t keep up much of an interest. If wargames are going to survive into the next generation, they need to be about the history of the battles they’re simulating, not the nostalgia their designers have for pushing pieces of cardboard around a map before I was born. When I see a CRT, I just think, why is this necessary when I’ve got a computer that can do any kind of math you want? When I see hexes, I ask, is that really the best way to model terrain in this scenario, or is it just hexes for the sake of hexes?
Actually, I think very much that Steve Grammont’s view on the status of the genre isn’t different in substance to your view. But I think his hands are tied and perhaps, just perhaps, they’re moving onto the next stage of their lifes. So they take a more chill approach to “business”.
He doesn’t have time for fools, real or apparent, either :)
Not out of the left field at all. Actually, that’s #1 priority for serious war games.
Yes, the whole gaming industry is replete with inefficiency and poor management. Wargame companies are just a subset of this, albeit one with even less in the way of resources.
As far as legacy stuff, screw it. You can’t build for the future while desperately trying to support people still running XP. It’s a non-starter. If your business model is build on ancient OS’s and antediluvian hardware, you’re toast anyhow.One big reason for zero growth is, well, hobbling games to be compatible with archaic standards. It won’t work in the long run.
And, sure, you can learn from exceptions, but I stand by my point–one I’ve been making for decades now, and a point that nothing that has happened in wargaming has seemed to contradict–that there is nearly zero room to expand traditional wargaming. By traditional, I mean heavy emphasis on history, technical accuracy, and simulation rather than shooter or RTS games with vaguely historical skins. It is a niche, it has always been a niche, it will always be a niche. I’m ok with that. I think chasing a chimerical “mass market historical wargame that will make us big bucks” is a recipe for financial ruin.
I know I simply will not play a game that isn’t at the very least up to Windows 10/2018 standards of UI and graphics and usability, not unless it’s very, very, very good in some essential and otherwise unavailable way.
It’s not like you can wake up one morning, look at the computer screen, take a deep breath, say loudly “Fck this sht, I’m done”, and then go to the forums to announce to whomever is still following you “Screw your clunky Windows 8 boxes, I’m done with you lot. See you in three or four years, which is the time it’s going to take me realistically to redo the UI working part time”.
But other than that, indeed, you’re totally right.
Big bucks lol, I don’t think anybody is playing the game with that outcome in mind. I would say that the aims of most is like make enough to work full time on something they love. Yet, at the same time, that inherently conservative attitude is going always to put a lid on it: it you don’t aim high, the only way for sure is down.
That’s why I said that someone with a reckless disdain for what conventional wisdom prescribes, deep pockets and a knack for self promotion could have a shot at producing the next big war game hit.
What I can’t take for granted, as I read you’re, is that there’s no point on keeping the dream alive or discouraging any dreamers out there. You say you have already moved on… I will still be rooting for Quixote, thank you.
I don’t think you’re alone, in that, on the contrary.
Cogent comments, and well said. I think your key point is deep pockets. My dream–and I’m not totally jaded yet–is that someone with Bezos money (or even a fraction of that) and a bug in their ear for wargames would fund something like you’re talking about. An innovative, true to its roots, accessible, modern, wargame, a project all about the quality of the product without the pervasive fear of “how will I eat and pay the rent this month” that dogs most developers. I’m not holding my breath, but it would be cool.
I applaud your Quixotic quest, sir. I simply decline to be your Sancho Panza.
I’m sure @Brooski will have the ex cathedra comments, but I have to say I’m on the fence with stuff like this. On the one hand, I agree; why replicate the old simply because it is the tradition? We don’t have hand crank starters and manual chokes on cars any more for a reason. Yet, there’s something intellectually satisfying about looking at a clear, well thought-out chart or table that reduces complex considerations to simple yet elegant formulas, and then making decisions based on this considered reification. When done well, you get the beauty of, say, John Hill’s original Squad Leader, before all the chrome dragged it down.
Ditto with hexes. It’s an abstraction that, yes, is no longer needed in the era of GPS precision and Google Maps. But it’s also a very easy way for the gamer to visualize and conceptualize space and things in space relative to each other. Again, when done well, it poses provocative intellectual challenges to the player, by concentrating the information about terrain in such a way that they can focus on the essential elements of the situation, and not get distracted by superfluous detail.
Of course, when done poorly, or by rote, both of these abstractions can result in dull, overly formulaic, and uninteresting games. That’s more a design issue IMO than a systems issue.
The area I have the most conflicted feelings about though are counters. I love them, in one sense, and I am so used to thinking of a counter as a military unit that it’s second nature. But I hate shuffling through stacks of them on the screen, and moving scads of them one after the other.
An interesting read. I might quibble with the authors comment that their computer games had “little success”. Two friends and I designed and developed many of the original Avalon Hill computer games including Midway Campaign, North Atlantic Convoy Raider, B-1 Nuclear Bomber, Planet Miners, Empire of the Overmind and maybe one or two more I’ve forgotten. All together our games sold about 100K copes so we were quite happy with that. That and the fact that when we went to Baltimore to discuss projects with Eric Dott he always gave us his box seats right next to the Orioles dugout while we were in town. :)
I will say, to this end, that the Unity of Command games are an example of how you can make a wargame with better production values. It is where I have started when suggesting a turn based wargame to people, since it is very good and reasonably modern in approach.
That it has a novel mechanic and game thesis it uses to great effect is a bonus.