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A long time coming!

 
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A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 1:56:45 PM   
James Crowley

 

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Well, well. The first Combat Mission clone (AFAIK).

I have been quite surprised that no publisher, up to now, has gone down the Battlefront route of turn-based, 3-D tactical WW2 combat since the release of CMBO over five years ago. Perhaps because they have covered it so completely with the subsequent CMBB and CMAK releases and the planned CMX2 engine upgrade?

In any event, this has certainly grabbed my attention, although I can't really evaluate this offering based on the information given to date.

Is it CM Lite? Or is there more detail/depth as yet unrevealed? This is going to be compared to CM, big time, and if it is to offer a serious alternative it must demonstrate significantly diffferent features beyond being simpler/more fun to play. I really do hope it is not just a dumbed-down version of CM with slightly better graphics.

The focus is quite narrow but if there is enough depth, both in detail and decision making, this need not be a problem. After all Battlfront have declared that their intention is to produce smaller scaled CM games and modules, albeit with many improvements over the current CM games.

I shall certainly be watching the development of this with great interest.

In the meanwhile a few questions, if I may.


What Command and Control mechanisms will there be? Will they reflect a realistic approach or will I, as the player, have a God-like control over all of my forces at all times?

Ammo and fuel supply were critical to this campaign, on the German side especially. How will these factors be handled?

How, if at all, will air-power be represented?

The screenies would seem to indicate a maximum force size of 52 units (4 rows of 13). Is that the limit for each side? And will the mix of units be historicaly accurate.

There are several references to the player "purchasing" units. I have never really favoured that approach, as tactical commanders of the time were hardly in a position to "shopping list" for their requirements. Will there be the option of pre-made or, better yet, random force selection (again, hopefully historically based)?

It has already been asked and answered but how good is the AI? I think this will be a critical area, not just from the point of view of providing an opponent but also from the angle of how units act and react. CM's AI is pretty decent on the defence but generally lame on the offence - in common with the vast majority of wargames. Will Panzer Command up the ante at all or will it be the usual "if you want a good opponent play PBEM"?

"Winter Storm" was a pretty unequal struggle for the Germans. How will the battles and campaigns be balanced to reflect this?

Finally, please consider a Battle/Campaign "generator". While it is good to be able to put a battle together, picking the units from both sides, there is no surprise in this. Some form of generator would pick one or both sides randomly so you have to fight using what you are given against an unknown foe.







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Cheers

Jim
Post #: 1
RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 4:46:21 PM   
wodin


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A little preview here answers some questions.

http://grognards.1up.com/

"However, Panzer Command takes a different approach to command structure than Combat Mission. Instead of being able to order all of your units individually and micromanage them, Panzer Command restricts your orders based on how ambitious they are. For example, if you want to advance a great distance, you will only be able to give orders to the platoon leader tank. The rest of the platoon will get orders automatically based on the orders you gave to the platoon leader. However, if you want your units to hold, you'll be able to order each member of the platoon, such as giving independent target orders.

These distinctions are based on the type of order given. For example, "Advance" or "Rush" are different types of orders (Advance is cautious when you suspect enemy presence, while "Rush" is what you might expect it to be) but neither one allows individual unit orders. "Bound" is an order available only to the tactically superior Germans, where half of the platoon moves and the other half provides cover. The type of order given also determines the number of firing opportunities a unit will have. It's a nice way to balance the depiction of historical command realities without overly confining the player.

The game tries to depict the different doctrines used by the two sides, wherein the Germans are more flexible but more easily disordered, while the Soviets are more rigid but less prone to breaking. This doesn't seem completely historical to me."

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 4:57:25 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Wodin,

Yep, Bruce has a copy.

quote:

ORIGINAL: wodin
The game tries to depict the different doctrines used by the two sides, wherein the Germans are more flexible but more easily disordered, while the Soviets are more rigid but less prone to breaking. This doesn't seem completely historical to me."


By the way, one misunderstanding there. The Soviets are not less prone to breaking and the Germans are not more easily disordered, I'm not sure why he thought that was the case. The Soviets actually have worse morale than the Germans and thus are more likely to break, less likely to rally and more likely to disperse when broken.

Regards,

- Erik


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Post #: 3
RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 5:14:55 PM   
James Crowley

 

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Thanks for the info.

The other questions still stand, though.

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Jim

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 7:34:52 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: James Crowley
Well, well. The first Combat Mission clone (AFAIK).


Not really, but I certainly understand that it looks that way from the graphics. It's actually not even the first 3D tactical wargame since CM, but it's our first attempt to build a tactical wargame from ground up that plays in 3D. As I've posted in other threads and in the FAQ thread, we did not set out to redo or replace CM.

If you think about it, not only was the original CM released a while ago, but they've had years to refine and expand the engine. For a first release to try to meet and beat that advantage all in one go would basically require the kind of development budget small wargaming companies don't have. However, CM's existence doesn't preclude other 3D wargames existing or being fun or worth playing.

We're not trying for a better CM, but I keep saying that to me it feels more like a Close Combat (although at a company command level) mixed with Panzer General for the campaign system. In other words, it's definitely a wargame and it's historical, but it's not the next step in wargaming hyper-reality.

quote:

I have been quite surprised that no publisher, up to now, has gone down the Battlefront route of turn-based, 3-D tactical WW2 combat since the release of CMBO over five years ago. Perhaps because they have covered it so completely with the subsequent CMBB and CMAK releases and the planned CMX2 engine upgrade?


It's certainly a big hurdle to jump. One of the larger software companies could do it easily, but they couldn't justify it based on the sales. Thus, only smaller wargame companies are going to want to do it and from that perspective Battlefront has been able to build up a huge advantage through their investment in the engine and the series. In case it wasn't clear, we all like CM a lot and wish we'd invented it, but we didn't set out to duplicate it - what would be the point?

quote:

Is it CM Lite? Or is there more detail/depth as yet unrevealed? This is going to be compared to CM, big time, and if it is to offer a serious alternative it must demonstrate significantly diffferent features beyond being simpler/more fun to play. I really do hope it is not just a dumbed-down version of CM with slightly better graphics.


Hey, I think the graphics are more than slightly better in this case! With that said though, you are using a different yardstick on this than we were using. I think it's all based on expectations, which is why I've said from the beginning what I said above. CM's existence no more prohibits other 3D tactical wargames than the existence of War in the Pacific prohibits other 2D Pacific wargames. Ultimately, variety in design is good for wargamers and CM can remain the most hard-core 3D simulation of WWII while we try to deliver historical gameplay that's designed to also interest some non-hard-core gamers.

Compared to CM, this is less detailed and less hyper-realistic. However, this is as realistic as any wargame short of the CM / WITP level generally gets. It plays historically, it's fun and it comes with a campaign for each side.

quote:

What Command and Control mechanisms will there be? Will they reflect a realistic approach or will I, as the player, have a God-like control over all of my forces at all times?


There are limitations based on the orders available, there is a built in delay for changing order types for the Soviets and there are penalties when a commander for a platoon is lost. You give full orders once every 80 seconds, with reaction orders 40 seconds into that, so you don't have God-like control. You can't jump in at any point, as in a RTS, and micro-manage a unit. Planning your moves and reacting when necessary are definitely good things.

quote:

Ammo and fuel supply were critical to this campaign, on the German side especially. How will these factors be handled?


Fuel supply is not a concern within this context. Ammo is handled in game and units on either side can run out as each battle progresses. Resupply is not a campaign issue. It's handled automatically between battles. On the other hand, recovery of abandoned vehicles, reinforcements/replacements, etc. are handled at the campaign level.

quote:

How, if at all, will air-power be represented?


We're still debating on whether we will have air power in for the release. If it's in, it will be out of sight but with battle effects when it's called in.

quote:

The screenies would seem to indicate a maximum force size of 52 units (4 rows of 13). Is that the limit for each side? And will the mix of units be historicaly accurate.


Yes, that's the interface limit, though in theory you could add more in and the game wouldn't break (but they'd overflow the interface). The main reason that exists is to keep performance reasonable.

We've made the unit mix as accurate as we can. If you disagree with any of our choices, editing them is as easy as changing the scenario XML file (just like editing a text file).

quote:

There are several references to the player "purchasing" units. I have never really favoured that approach, as tactical commanders of the time were hardly in a position to "shopping list" for their requirements. Will there be the option of pre-made or, better yet, random force selection (again, hopefully historically based)?


Purchasing units is a great thing from a fun campaign perspective. It's not a historical but rather a gameplay decision. With that said, the campaigns each predefine a "core force" which was selected to be historical. That is 'pre-bought' for you at the start of the campaign and the scenarios are balanced around that expectation. Changing the core force to a different force mix is again as easy as editing the XML files for the scenarios in the campaign.

quote:

It has already been asked and answered but how good is the AI? I think this will be a critical area, not just from the point of view of providing an opponent but also from the angle of how units act and react. CM's AI is pretty decent on the defence but generally lame on the offence - in common with the vast majority of wargames. Will Panzer Command up the ante at all or will it be the usual "if you want a good opponent play PBEM"?


Well, I think the best games are always against humans, but Koios has a good record with AI on its previous titles. Again, I greatly enjoy CM but the AI in that was always one of the weak points IMHO and I think we can reasonably expect that this one will be better. I can't give you a definite answer because it's still being tweaked and improved. I'd say at this point it's better than CM's was, so I would expect it to improve on that further.

I would always recommend playing a human for the best opposition though, in any wargame to date.

quote:

"Winter Storm" was a pretty unequal struggle for the Germans. How will the battles and campaigns be balanced to reflect this?


The German campaign goes up until the Germans really hit the wall. Then, the Soviet campaign starts. The Germans had some very tough fighting but also made some good progress even as the strategic situation was falling apart around them. We give the player a chance to recreate that without forcing them to be run over by the 2nd Guards Army once things really went to pot. Similarly, the Soviet player gets to run the last part of the defense and then the counterattack, dealing with the remaining experienced 57th Panzer Korps troops and other units as they push south to Kotelnikovo.

quote:

Finally, please consider a Battle/Campaign "generator". While it is good to be able to put a battle together, picking the units from both sides, there is no surprise in this. Some form of generator would pick one or both sides randomly so you have to fight using what you are given against an unknown foe.


We're including a skirmish level which will allow a wide range of choices for both sides to keep replayability high. It's basically our version of a quick battle.

A full battle generator will have to wait. We have a plan for a much more full-featured system for editing and battle generation, but it will require this release to meet expectations and development to continue. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a good wargame engine.

Regards,

- Erik

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Post #: 5
RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:08:59 PM   
Hertston


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quote:

ORIGINAL: James Crowley

This is going to be compared to CM, big time, and if it is to offer a serious alternative it must demonstrate significantly diffferent features beyond being simpler/more fun to play.


I'm curious... I wouldn't disagree on "simpler" (assuming it is, of course) but why isn't "more fun to play" sufficient? That's generally what I base ALL my games playing choices on.

It is, no doubt, going to be compared to CM big time (mostly, if previous experience is anything to go by, over at Battlefront by CMers who havn't played it ), not least because it undoubtably looks a lot like it. As to "serious alternative", though... an alternative to what? An alternative candidate for realism king of WW2 tactical games, or an alternative way to spend your (no doubt limited) recreation time? I very much doubt the former is intended - despite, I suspect, what will be a widespread assumption among CMers that it was - although the latter will have been.

The danger with comparisons with CM is that they will always be done on CM's terms, by assuming Panzer Command must be a 'clone' even if it becomes obvious on release to anybody with an open mind that it isn't. The further away Panzer Command is from being a CM clone, the more it will inevitably suffer in such comparisons regardless of how good, or otherwise, it may actually be.

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:31:00 PM   
James Crowley

 

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Thanks Eric.

I hope my questions didn't sound too hostile. I really do welcome any new contenders in this arena; more competition can only be good for the genre.

I do like the look of this and accept that it is coming in on a different tack from CM. I was just a bit worried that it might, in trying to appeal to a broader customer base, become a bit...well, style over substance. But your answers have reassured me somewhat.

East front and an interesting battle are certainly a big plus for me and unless I see something really negative, this is likely a purchase for me. Thankfully not too much of a wait until completion!

Here's hoping for much success with this title so that more can follow on.

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Cheers

Jim

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:41:17 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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James,

quote:

ORIGINAL: James Crowley
I hope my questions didn't sound too hostile. I really do welcome any new contenders in this arena; more competition can only be good for the genre.


Thank you, no I didn't think they were hostile at all, but I'm definitely getting the idea that I'll be explaining my thoughts above to a lot of folks.

quote:

East front and an interesting battle are certainly a big plus for me and unless I see something really negative, this is likely a purchase for me. Thankfully not too much of a wait until completion!

Here's hoping for much success with this title so that more can follow on.


Thank you!

Regards,

- Erik


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Erik Rutins
Director of Product Development


For official support, please use our Help Desk: http://www.matrixgames.com/helpdesk/

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Post #: 8
RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:43:58 PM   
James Crowley

 

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Hertston

Tactical WW2 is my passion, so when CM first appeared it seemed and, in many respects was, the game I had always been waiting for. CMBB took it a step futher but CMAK was something of a disappointment, being a stop-gap while a new engine was and is being worked on.

Far from knocking Panzer command, I heartily welcome fresh blood, so to speak. However "fun" is in the eye of the beholder and I certainly would not get much pleasure from a watered down version of CM for the masses. Thankfully this does not seem to be the case and I will judge the game on its own merits as it develops.

And I love the idea of being able to pick my own ammo for a shot!

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Jim

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:47:57 PM   
James Crowley

 

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Eric

Any chance of a short Alpha AAR?

This would be a great way to showcase the basic mechanics and decision processes involved in Panzer Commander.

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/21/2006 11:57:44 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: James Crowley
Any chance of a short Alpha AAR?

This would be a great way to showcase the basic mechanics and decision processes involved in Panzer Commander.


Agreed, but we're completely swamped at the moment. I promise a Beta AAR as early in March as possible.

Regards,

- Erik


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Erik Rutins
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For official support, please use our Help Desk: http://www.matrixgames.com/helpdesk/

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Post #: 11
RE: A long time coming! - 2/22/2006 12:01:23 AM   
James Crowley

 

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Nice one!

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Jim

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 10:17:36 AM   
Andreas1968

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: James Crowley

Far from knocking Panzer command, I heartily welcome fresh blood, so to speak. However "fun" is in the eye of the beholder and I certainly would not get much pleasure from a watered down version of CM for the masses. Thankfully this does not seem to be the case and I will judge the game on its own merits as it develops.


Amen to that.

All the best

Andreas

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Post #: 13
RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 3:33:34 PM   
Becket


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

Wodin,

Yep, Bruce has a copy.

quote:

ORIGINAL: wodin
The game tries to depict the different doctrines used by the two sides, wherein the Germans are more flexible but more easily disordered, while the Soviets are more rigid but less prone to breaking. This doesn't seem completely historical to me."


By the way, one misunderstanding there. The Soviets are not less prone to breaking and the Germans are not more easily disordered, I'm not sure why he thought that was the case. The Soviets actually have worse morale than the Germans and thus are more likely to break, less likely to rally and more likely to disperse when broken.

Regards,

- Erik



Can we have a blocking detachment?

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Post #: 14
RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 3:48:02 PM   
FNG


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Becket
Can we have a blocking detachment?


Now we're talking

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RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 5:47:30 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Becket
Can we have a blocking detachment?


I wonder what the ESRB would rate that little feature... With that said, particularly if we move on to Stalingrad proper in an expansion, I would like to see something like that in the game as part of the system.

Regards,

- Erik


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Erik Rutins
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Post #: 16
RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 6:05:51 PM   
Becket


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It would certainly be interesting. Flames of War (the miniatures game, which is a neat diversion even if I tend to disagree with some of the things they've done) has a blocking detachment unit, but luckily doesn't have to worry about the ESRB. The mechanics there allow for re-rolling of morale checks (but you have to remove a stand of soldiers!). I think a computer game could allow for a lot more, but...the implications in terms of press coverage and the like are a bit daunting.

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Post #: 17
RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 6:24:58 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Becket
It would certainly be interesting. Flames of War (the miniatures game, which is a neat diversion even if I tend to disagree with some of the things they've done) has a blocking detachment unit, but luckily doesn't have to worry about the ESRB. The mechanics there allow for re-rolling of morale checks (but you have to remove a stand of soldiers!). I think a computer game could allow for a lot more, but...the implications in terms of press coverage and the like are a bit daunting.


Yeah, Flames of War is a fun game. My only problem is that since I started working on making computer games, I haven't been able to find time to keep painting miniatures, so I've been out of luck as far as collecting new forces (my wife thinks I have quite enough unpainted metal already, thank you). However, the new A&A minis, while they are certainly not perfect are great for inexpensive pre-painted plastic and can be used in a variety of rules sets in a pinch.

Regards,

- Erik


_____________________________

Erik Rutins
Director of Product Development


For official support, please use our Help Desk: http://www.matrixgames.com/helpdesk/

Freedom is not Free.

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Post #: 18
RE: A long time coming! - 2/23/2006 6:32:06 PM   
wodin


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What about this for a minatures game.

http://www.alzozero.it/eng/index.html



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