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PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2004 8:56 pm 
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oops. Forgot to log in. That post above was mine.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:21 am 
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UllerPSU wrote:
All is not rosy, however. I know MA:PR is in the late phases of developement, so I don't expect any
of this to be implemented. I'm just rambling in hopes of getting some of these ideas into the heads of people for the
future.

- The game seems a bit unstable. Occasionally I lose my mouse pointer and have to save the game. Sometimes the game
just exits with no warning. In Hot Seat mode, the units seem to stop drawing. Those are all bugs, of course. I'm a
software developer and I know that bugs happen...

- It would be nice if each side had some truly unique units.


I think MAPR is more stable, but if you'll find new bugs, you can hope to get new patches too :)

In the MAPR each side have 3 new unique units and there are 2 new equal units for each side.

UllerPSU wrote:
- More factions and more than two players in multiplayer would be good (but players would have to be
really good at getting their turns done or games would take months to play).

- Some economic developement would be good...Maybe allowing players to divert some resources to "growing" their
economys. Also it should be possible to attack enemy economic resources to reduce enemy resouce output (of course,
invading an enemy territory does this).


I could recommend you to try Clan War tournament for MA/MAN.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 6:52 am 
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Continuing the musings about the ultimate Simultaneous game (just as Massive Assault is the ultimate in-order game), I'm going to start by enumerating the best of MA's features in my view:

In all, the draw of MA for me is the strategic aspects, and the fact that you can look at a battlefield and get a good idea of how the game is flowing from a high-level perspective. Why is that so? I think it is because of its simplicity. Units are varied, but each have their own role that you pick up over time. Economics are simple and defined by where your allies are. The number of secret enemy allies remaining is easy to remember. In all you don't have to spend a great deal of time understanding fully your situation (just as a Chess Master can look at a game in progress and immediately see who's winning). Because of this you can spend a lot more time strategizing and plotting.

So here's a list of the best features I'd like to see in more games:
1) Simplicty of concept, economy, and unit choice. Units should be designed like MA, where each has its place but none are more powerful than the others. MA does this by making the more powerful units less coss effective. A group of Heavy Bots is impressive, but awfully expensive.

2) Secret Allies. This is the only random element, and it is enough to make each game completely different. This concept alone adds a great deal of strategy of the game, as where your revealed enemies are, where your secret allies are, and where your enemy's secret allies might be all affect your strategic decisions.

3) Indemnity. This makes you think hard about revealing a secret ally. If you can't support it, you shouldn't reveal it because if defeated, your revelation will hurt you much more than it helped you.

4) Deterministic battles. When you attack another unit, you should know the immediate result (either from simplicity, or even if battle is complicated if you can easily check what would happen). I think this adds a lot to MA, as once again, it adds strategic value to your decisions. If chance plays into it, its difficult to plan a few turns ahead, as a little bit of bad luck can change the face of the game.

Any other MA features easily transferrable into other games?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 7:52 am 
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There were lot's of ideas about simultaneous TB system. And all it wen't down to 2 variants:
1) RTS style resolution (game is 100% RTS and a pause occurs every x seconds to change orders)
Examples:LSN, Stars! (a sort of), VGAPlantets,
2) A non-restrictive TB resolution.
The second one could be done as following:

get state from server
0) all players distribute fire.
1) all hexes around all alive enemy units are marked as non-tresspassable (if you stand there you can only move to "free" hex) at the start of a turn
2) all players move units independently
3) sync of fire and movement with server (update HP and positions)

here you don't see how enemy fires and moves while you plan your moves. Your fire and move commands are not restricted by player's actions. There maybe lot's of different units in one hex.(but only 1 per player)
Extra features:
You can see the actions of your allies while planning your's. You can change them anytime before a set time of generation of the next turn.


The main problem of this system is that it's non-intuitive and seems to be rather complex.

PS. I played a few Stars! games(Advanced level) a while ago. It's a pity they didn't find funds to finist Supernove Genesis.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:34 am 
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Maelstrom wrote:
4) Deterministic battles. When you attack another unit, you should know the immediate result (either from simplicity, or even if battle is complicated if you can easily check what would happen). I think this adds a lot to MA, as once again, it adds strategic value to your decisions. If chance plays into it, its difficult to plan a few turns ahead, as a little bit of bad luck can change the face of the game.



Actually now that you mention it, I believe Stars! had a deterministic battle system. You could download tools to predict the results of battles between fleets for you. I don't think there was any random factor. When two fleets fought, the server would place each fleet on a 2D grid, move ships and fire their weapons at targets based on whatever orders they were under (attack warships, attack non-warships, retreat, etc.) I don't believe there was any random factor in how ships moved, what they shot at and what damage was done.

Anyway, I concede that for a SimulTBS game you'd probably have to drop the tactical level for the most part. The game would have to rise more to the operational/strategic level where units are moved around as combat groups and fleets...but I still would rather see the map be hex-based with varying terrain that effects movement (and combat) than just a Risk style set of oddly spaced territories. But it actually isn't that big of a deal one way or the other.

Units could stack (maybe enforce some limit) and generally move one space at a time. Battles are abstracted and occur whenever stacks of opposing units attempt to enter the same space. Some units (like artillery and aircraft) can lend support in these battles and/or damage enemy units/resources from a distance.

Most ground based units would move at a rate of 1. Certainly there could be units that move quicker. Roads, rivers, terrain should play a factor and units that transport other units is pretty cool.

But airbourne units could be introduced.

Yes, the secret allies concept is definately cool. That could be done even with a lot of popular tabletop wargames like Risk or Axis & Allies ("Oh...you're invading Siam? Well...That's my Secret Ally! Ha!")

Really, it boils down to over all simplicity, secret allies system and no random events (beyond the secret allies). The latter I don't care that much about. Some level of randomness is okay with me on the condition that all random events are determined by the server during results calculation and not on the player's computer while he is playing his turn. I've seen too much cheating when players can play, close and replay their turns until they get favorable results.

Another important MA concept is Guerrilla forces and invading a neutral territory drives it into the enemy camp. Questions have been raised in this and those other threads about who would control those guerrillas and which player would get to "own" the invaded territory.

Two possible answers:

1) No one. Neutrals remain neutral and are controlled by an AI to defend itself as best it can. This is what the Warlords series of games did. If someone attacked a neutral city, it would defend itself with whatever it had and if it repulsed the attack, it would start producing more units to bolster its defense better against future attacks.

2) As someone else mentioned, all neutral territories could have two "favored" allied camps. If it is invaded, it goes to one of those two camps. This opens up some more possibilities. Neutral nations could have a "friend/foe" rating for each player and even with other neutrals. If you invade a neutral, it's friends dislike you more and its enemies like you more. If the rating a neutral nation has for one of the players gets so high or so low, it could spontaneously declare itself in one camp or another. This way, invading neutral nations could have ripple effects in the game. Of course, the more "realistic" this system, the less simple and since simplicity is the rule of the day, it is probably right out.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:50 am 
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Sky Keeper wrote:
The main problem of this system is that it's non-intuitive and seems to be rather complex.

I don't know. Yes, it is _more_ complex than any sequential turn system. But Stars! was reasonably intuitive most of the time. There were some corner cases where as a player I was bewildered about what would happen or a clever player could "spoof" the system...for instance, if you suspected the enemy was giving orders to follow one of your fleets, you could "split" your fleet and put all but one ship in the "new" fleet and send the old fleet (now containing only one - probably minor or fast - ship) off in some wierd direction which would cause the enemy fleet to follow the single ship and end up out in the middle of no where. But that was generally the corner case or you could argue that was how a "skilled" player played and is no different than an MA player using transports to extend the range of heavy bots and rockey launchers.
Quote:
PS. I played a few Stars! games(Advanced level) a while ago. It's a pity they didn't find funds to finist Supernove Genesis.


Yeah. It was too bad. But I think where stars feel down was that

1) after about 20 turns, managing your planets' resource collection and production queues became more like work than fun.

2) Warfare was too slow compared to economic/technological advancement. Often you'd launch an attack and it would take so long for the attack to land that the enemy would be advance his tech to easily thwart the attack. Taking over an enemy planet required first annhilating the population and that offent took way too long to ever be worth it.

Results of wars in a strategy game need to be resolved reasonably quickly for the game to be good. In MA it is usually 1-3 turns for minor battles. More for larger battles, but things change rapidly enough to keep the game interesting. Plus, the game is generally over in 10 turns or less. That's a good thing too. Stars! games could last 100 turns even on a small map!


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:09 am 
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Sea Wolf
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UllerPSU wrote:
2) As someone else mentioned, all neutral territories could have two "favored" allied camps. ... Of course, the more "realistic" this system, the less simple and since simplicity is the rule of the day, it is probably right out.


This sounds like a pretty descent idea to me. If you don't have as many unit tactics, you better have Something else or the game will be shallow. A watered down diplomatic solution (which is what this is) might do the trick.

Skykeeper wrote:
2) A non-restrictive TB resolution.


Am I right in thinking that this solution would require all parties to be there playing? So it would be a sit-down and finish TBS, rather than email based? Consulting with your allies will require collaboration. Maybe a messaging system is good enough, but not if there is a lot of unit movement details that have to be worked out with an ally.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:43 am 
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Maelstrom wrote:
Am I right in thinking that this solution would require all parties to be there playing?


To me, this is undesirable. Part of why I rarely play RTS games on-line is that I hate that you have to play the entire game in one go. I would rather play a two player game the way we play MA than a 3+ player game in one sitting. Part of the fun of diplomacy is having time to look at the map, think about your strategy and finding out ways to convince people to form alliances and non-aggression pacts. A sit-down-and-finish (SDAF) game is rushed and doesn't allow this.

I'm not opposed to the SDAF option (and it sounds like that will be an option in MA:PR) but it should not be required by the game system.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 9:55 am 
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Agreed. If you want to sit and finish a game, play a quicker one like an RTS. Strategic games like this are meant to be pondered over.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:02 am 
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Maelstrom wrote:
Agreed. If you want to sit and finish a game, play a quicker one like an RTS. .


noncence.in MA you also can sit and finish the game.it helps to chat with opponent via MAN chat or instant messenger and decide to finish game in one sit. small maps take much less time than average RTS - you can play it within 30-60 minutes.
medium maps - 2 maybe 3 hours.
btw can play 2 maps in same time- you work on turn on one and opponent on other


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:30 am 
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Mrakobes wrote:
noncence.in MA you also can sit and finish the game.it helps to chat with opponent via MAN chat or instant messenger and decide to finish game in one sit. small maps take much less time than average RTS - you can play it within 30-60 minutes.
medium maps - 2 maybe 3 hours.
btw can play 2 maps in same time- you work on turn on one and opponent on other


Sure. But (back to my original post) one of the beautiful things about MA is that you don't _HAVE_ to play it SDAF style. I don't want to devote an hour or more of my time and play the entire game in one sitting. I prefer to ponder my decisions. To move units around and see what happens, then rewind and try something different until I'm satisfied before sending the turn over. And that is even more true with a 3+ player wargame where diplomacy is a factor.

Plus, I rarely have 2-3 hours to devote to a game at once. Generally, my day is like this: Wake up 6AM, check to see if there are any turns waiting for me. Play one or two. Go to work. Come home ~5PM. Check and play one or two turns while dinner is cooking. Have dinner. Spend time with kids (and/or do household related chores). Put kids to bed. Spend time with wife. Check turns again ~10PM. Go to bed. Repeat. I don't have time to play a game for 2 hours at a time most days...maybe on weekends, but even then I have a life outside of computer gaming.

So like I said, SDAF should be an option, but playing one turn at a time should not be precluded by the game system.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 11:35 am 
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Maybe 30-60 minutes, but this game doesn't encourage sitting through a game as is. Playing 2 games at a time helps, but you have to keep in constant contact with your opponent to keep it going. And there will be times where you are waiting for your opponent, even with 2 games going.

Maybe others can play like that, but I can't, at least when turns take 15-20 minutes to complete, like I like to play MA in the late game on small maps. On larger maps it takes me almost up to an hour late game.

Stellar Crisis had a blitz option, but with only ships to move around with simple orders, it was quite feasible and worked well. You could easily play with just 3 minutes per turn. That way I didn't get distracted between turns :).

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 12:53 pm 
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Maelstrom wrote:
Am I right in thinking that this solution would require all parties to be there playing?


I had in mind another system in mind: you all have a set time to make 1 turn (ex: day). You give orders anytime you like and you see the final position of your troops at the end of your turn. You don't see enemy moves until the beginning of your next turn and the rules don't prohibit any combination of the orders of 2 or more players from happening.(there is no such thing as movement blocking(read a post above)).

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:38 pm 
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2 UllerPSU
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Come home ~5PM. Check and play one or two turns while dinner is cooking. . Check turns again ~10PM.


so overal you have 5-6 hours to play that is perfectly okay to finish New Paradise game in one sit :D then you will have some real fun!
(dont bother about household chores and other boring stuff :lol: )[/quote]


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:59 pm 
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Sky Keeper wrote:
I had in mind another system in mind: you all have a set time to make 1 turn (ex: day). You give orders anytime you like and you see the final position of your troops at the end of your turn.


This could definately work. Is this assuming the similar unit statistics to MA? If so you could still have collisions between high-movement units in the open.

Also, just so I understand better, there are two seperate phases? Moving and Firing?

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:05 pm 
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Mrakobes wrote:
2 UllerPSU
Quote:
Come home ~5PM. Check and play one or two turns while dinner is cooking. . Check turns again ~10PM.


so overal you have 5-6 hours to play that is perfectly okay to finish New Paradise game in one sit :D then you will have some real fun!
(dont bother about household chores and other boring stuff :lol: )
[/quote]

Damn my weak body...if only I didn't need to sleep.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:06 pm 
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Ehh, sleep is a waste of time :)

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 2:28 pm 
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Or we could all do like one of my friends. She has so much nicotine and caffeine in her system that she only sleeps three hours a day. Once in a while she can manage two or three days without sleeping.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 5:41 pm 
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Maelstrom wrote:
If so you could still have collisions between high-movement units in the open.

Also, just so I understand better, there are two seperate phases? Moving and Firing?


collisions: well, non-restrictive movement rules mean that it's possible to move through a hex if it was free at the beginning of the turn.

Both varants are possible: you can have two separate turns (firing turn and moving turn) or unite them. I prefer to unite them to speed things up.

As I said before this ruleset has some confusion when units of several players meet in one hex. And that you have to guess the orders of your enemy (which one of your units will be dead, where would he move to).
To my mind it removes the simplicity and the outcome of a turn becomes unpredictable.

Whether this system is worth implementing ... it's better to wait and see how MAPR will do.
It won't be long.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 16, 2004 8:57 pm 
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1) As many have noted in this thread, MA is a great game. :-) The features that hooked us are worth recounting: The secret ally system, the deterministic battle model, the balanced units, the simple economic system, and more...

2) Sure, I would plunk down $40 for a game vaguely similar to MA with multiple players. However, the 1 vs 1 type of play found in MA and MA:PR would probably still remain my favorite.

3) UllerPSU's commented in his opening post that MA:PR has the potential to grab some RTSers. It does. Related to this point, I think it is very important for a map editor to be released for MA:PR, along with as many other tools as possible. Why? Because games live much longer lives when there is a community keeping them going with new modifications.

One reason people are still playing old RTS games like Myth II is because of the user-created modifications. The mere availability of an editor tells people that this is a serious gaming community that won't just vanish after a short time, that this community is worth investing time in. Just think: how many more MA maps we would have to play now if an intuitive map editor was released rather than the "map per month" made by developers in MAN? Releasing a good editor is hard work, but it keeps on paying dividends; it basically gets the fans of a game to do volunteer work for the game company for years to come (Die-hard fans can create some pretty nice stuff, too)! And the longer the fan base sticks around, the more likely they are to notice and buy the next game from your company.

4) The Mac port of MA has many problems (see my other posts whining about this...). It has been a few months now, and I'm not counting VP out as they *have* fixed two bugs with patches so far, but I'm not impressed with their speed or communication given all the problems that remain. My suggestion: if possible, consider another company for the port of MA:PR if VP doesn't get the Mac version of MA up to speed soon.

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