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Review @ Out of Eight

 
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Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 6:25:51 AM   
JaguarUSF

 

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The Operational Art of War III review has been posted at Out of Eight PC Game Reviews:
http://jaguarusf.blogspot.com/2006/06/norm-kogers-operational-art-of-war-iii.html
Enjoy!
Post #: 1
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 6:46:26 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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Thanks, I find that to be an excellent, balanced review of the strengths and weaknesses. (except for the "nerds" comment.)

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer


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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:02:21 AM   
FlipTrac_511


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The review comments negatively about the 'dated' graphics inherent in wargames.  But really, how fancy can you make the graphics on a 2D map with units represented by square counters?  SSI's Panzer General looked wonderful, but similar graphics would be out of place in advanced wargames such as TOAW IMO.  The best looking advanced strategy wargame I've seen yet happens to be Flashpoint Germany. I own earlier TOAW titles and the graphics in those were not bad at all. However, the 3D icons were terrible.

< Message edited by FlipTrac_511 -- 6/14/2006 7:03:12 AM >

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:19:36 AM   
JaguarUSF

 

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Who says you have to use a 2D map with square counters?

He he....nerds.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:28:25 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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FlipTrac,
I'm going to hate myself in the morning, but I'm going to disagree with you.

I should be able to use the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, from twice the detail out to the minimap scale. There's no reason that I can't make the map spin around and even tilt(if that makes sense,) etc. You should have some control over the font, you should be able to move the windows around on the screen, and dock them where ever you want to. You should have a dockable window that shows the terrain effects.

Heck, I should be able to play on a topo or other map instead of the graphics that are there.

I'd love an option to independently size the counters, and make them a bit bigger.

The sounds should sound like they're coming from where they are on the map (left, right, up, down.) Heck, I'd love to steal the SPWAW graphics and use them <g>.

I'd love to have 'tooltips' following the cursor instead of having to look at the bottom of the screen.

In the end, it's going to be counters on a map, if it wasn't, it wouldn't be TOAW, but there is a lot that can be done to the presentation to bring it up to modern standards. I'm not saying that a 3D presentation isn't possible, and that I won't try to improve the 3D presention too, or even make it real 3D, but it's never going to be the main display for most people.

Ralph Trickey
TOAW III Programmer

(in reply to FlipTrac_511)
Post #: 5
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:33:19 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF

Who says you have to use a 2D map with square counters?

He he....nerds.

Hey! It's not 'Nerdy' It's 'Traditional'<g>.

I actually did want to update the 3D, but ran out of time. I figured that if I added bars for attack, defense, and movement, people might switch to it <evil grin> They'd have to decide between the denser information of the 3d view, and the traditional counters. That would be fun to watch!

Ralph

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Post #: 6
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:34:19 AM   
JAMiAM

 

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Of course, all that fancy, schmanzy graphics may have to wait for TOAW IV, after we've brought TOAW III to its evolutionary zenith...

Plus, I want CAP overlays, defineable air interdiction zones, discrete supplies, intelligent reserves...

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 8:04:57 AM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF

Who says you have to use a 2D map with square counters?

He he....nerds.

Thanks, excellent idea. I've got to add horizontal and vertical map folds, 'finger factor', fold mountains, and some other things to break up the symmetry and add to the realism.<g>

< Message edited by ralphtrick -- 6/14/2006 8:05:45 AM >

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 8:31:19 AM   
JaguarUSF

 

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I think TOAW should have a chewy, nougat center. In 3-D, of course.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 11:47:51 AM   
liuzg150181


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quote:

ORIGINAL: ralphtrick

quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF

Who says you have to use a 2D map with square counters?

He he....nerds.

Hey! It's not 'Nerdy' It's 'Traditional'<g>.

I actually did want to update the 3D, but ran out of time. I figured that if I added bars for attack, defense, and movement, people might switch to it <evil grin> They'd have to decide between the denser information of the 3d view, and the traditional counters. That would be fun to watch!

Ralph


Let's call a spade a spade,if one really loves the like of TOAW series he or she is very likely to be a nerd.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 12:03:53 PM   
Lava


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Hmm..

Another review that can't escape the "graphics trap."

Personally, one of the major selling points of TOAW for me is its' simplicity.

Yep, you can go for fancy-smancy map graphics... but then would it be so easy to create your own maps? Doubt it.

Yep, you can make counters with reams of information on them which look great... but may cause you to lose your eyesight.

TOAW isn't a classic for nothing. It is flexible, simple to manipulate and the BIG BONUS (which reviewers always seem to forget)... FUN!

FUN is why I play games. FUN is why I love TOAW. You can make it more fancy smancy, but if you start entering into the relm of needing a programming degree to edit/design scenarios or make maps, then the FUN goes away... no thanks.

Ray (alias Lava)

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Post #: 11
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 2:57:17 PM   
Bossy573


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Seems to be a question of your target audience. I would venture to say 95% of the people who buy "classic" wargames would prefer playability over gloss. The question is whether adding gloss is going to widen your audience enough to justify the time and expense. Personally, I would doubt it BUT games like HOI and even the Combat Mission series might suggest otherwise. Those games have definitely expanded beyond the gronard and quasi-gronard crowd.
I'm just thrilled to death to hear the words "TOAW IV."

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Post #: 12
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 3:38:06 PM   
Lava


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Well..

My point wasn't that enhanced graphics wouldn't help sell the game more... probably would.

As for myself, the last adjective I would use to describe me is "nerd." So if things get to complex... I drop it like a hot potato.

If Ralph can figure an "easy" way to import topo maps... great! But if you have to take a course in "TOAW IV map creation".. you'll probably lose me.

Ray (alias Lava)

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Post #: 13
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 3:54:31 PM   
JaguarUSF

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lava
Another review that can't escape the "graphics trap."


I talk about the graphics in every game I review. Personally, I don't weigh the graphics heavily at all (especially in wargames); TOAW3 did get a 7/8, I don't give many of those. I try to approach the game from the perspective of a more general audience, because:
(a) people who really like the game are going to get it anyway
(b) most of the people on the Internet fall into this category
I do say "Of course, most people who play wargames don’t care about cutting-edge 3-D graphics"
I've played plenty of games that looked good but had no content and I rated them as such (UberSoldier is a good example).
Of course, on the flipside, why can't (or don't) wargames have the same graphics as a real time strategy game?

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 4:19:40 PM   
liuzg150181


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF

Of course, on the flipside, why can't (or don't) wargames have the same graphics as a real time strategy game?

Partly coz the higher up the echelon of command it goes,the more abstracted it is.
As from TOAW manual:"The title “Operational Art of War” is based on a Soviet era military term meaning,essentially, “the theory and practice of army level combat”. There isn’t really a hard definition of “operational level” scale. The term is generally used to describe anything in the gray area between strategy (overall conduct of a war, including non-combat factors such as industrial production) and tactics
(the details of the actions of small units). If your primary focus is the battlefield, it isn’t strategy. If you can’t smell the smoke, you aren’t really dealing with tactics. Think of the operational level as a view of the battlefield on a scale just exceeding that at which differing ranges of various direct fire weapons are significant."
Thus while tactical wargames would benefit easily and the most from a graphical overhaul,the less is true for operational games like TOAW3,unless it is a hybrid level wargame which goes to and fro btw tactical and operational levels.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 4:26:12 PM   
JReb


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In a turn based game what are the alternatives? Having 3D fidgeting units standing tall, out of proportion to their surroundings? Civ comes to mind. Love the game and graphics but for a wargame the scale of the map is critical to the display of the units. In the campaign series, 3D works because the map scale is small enough to keep the units in proportion. In TOAW it just doesn't work.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 4:31:20 PM   
liuzg150181


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JReb

In a turn based game what are the alternatives? Having 3D fidgeting units standing tall, out of proportion to their surroundings? Civ comes to mind. Love the game and graphics but for a wargame the scale of the map is critical to the display of the units. In the campaign series, 3D works because the map scale is small enough to keep the units in proportion. In TOAW it just doesn't work.

If you are referring to my reply,then a graphical overhaul doesnt do much even for a Real-time operational wargame like HttR in terms of aesthetic function.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 4:41:08 PM   
JReb


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quote:

ORIGINAL: liuzg150181


quote:

ORIGINAL: JReb

In a turn based game what are the alternatives? Having 3D fidgeting units standing tall, out of proportion to their surroundings? Civ comes to mind. Love the game and graphics but for a wargame the scale of the map is critical to the display of the units. In the campaign series, 3D works because the map scale is small enough to keep the units in proportion. In TOAW it just doesn't work.

If you are referring to my reply,then a graphical overhaul doesnt do much even for a Real-time operational wargame like HttR in terms of aesthetic function.



No, just making general observations. I can't see 3D for TOAW but you never know. Once you stack units in a hex, 3D becomes irrelevant.


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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 5:46:07 PM   
JaguarUSF

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JReb
Civ comes to mind.


Excellent example.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 5:48:53 PM   
golden delicious


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JAMiAM
Plus, I want CAP overlays, defineable air interdiction zones, discrete supplies, intelligent reserves...


Yeah. All these things are more important than purely aesthetic improvements. No doubt TOAW could look better- but it looks good enough for now.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 5:55:28 PM   
LOK_32MK

 

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For whatever is worth, i'd prefer to see the few precious resources devoted to TOAW, applied to the many game engine improvements suggested in this forum and elsewhere (improved naval, air model, multiplayer play, scenario editor, etc. etc.).
The Graphics are good enough for me and (being totally unscientific here ) to the majority of the people who buy and play TOAW.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 6:18:12 PM   
Arinvald


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Just to add my 2 pence, I quit expecting or even wanting better wargame graphics after Atomic's V4V series came out. They have reached a point that they are now about on the bottom of my priorities list for any wargame enhancements. Interface and AI improvements are right at the top.

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 6:57:48 PM   
JReb


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quote:

ORIGINAL: LOK_32MK

For whatever is worth, i'd prefer to see the few precious resources devoted to TOAW, applied to the many game engine improvements suggested in this forum and elsewhere (improved naval, air model, multiplayer play, scenario editor, etc. etc.).
The Graphics are good enough for me and (being totally unscientific here ) to the majority of the people who buy and play TOAW.



Absolutely!! How much can anyone expect from a 2D top down map?

and welcome to the forums. (saw its your first post)


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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:03:50 PM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF


quote:

ORIGINAL: Lava
Another review that can't escape the "graphics trap."


I talk about the graphics in every game I review. Personally, I don't weigh the graphics heavily at all (especially in wargames); TOAW3 did get a 7/8, I don't give many of those. I try to approach the game from the perspective of a more general audience, because:
(a) people who really like the game are going to get it anyway
(b) most of the people on the Internet fall into this category
I do say "Of course, most people who play wargames don’t care about cutting-edge 3-D graphics"
I've played plenty of games that looked good but had no content and I rated them as such (UberSoldier is a good example).
Of course, on the flipside, why can't (or don't) wargames have the same graphics as a real time strategy game?

And that's why I appreciated the review. If it was on a wargaing site, it wouldn't make a lot of sense.

As a review going to the general public, I'd say that 7 out of 8 is a pretty darn impressive score.

Thanks,
Ralph

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RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:08:24 PM   
ralphtrick

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: JReb


quote:

ORIGINAL: LOK_32MK

For whatever is worth, i'd prefer to see the few precious resources devoted to TOAW, applied to the many game engine improvements suggested in this forum and elsewhere (improved naval, air model, multiplayer play, scenario editor, etc. etc.).
The Graphics are good enough for me and (being totally unscientific here ) to the majority of the people who buy and play TOAW.



Absolutely!! How much can anyone expect from a 2D top down map?

and welcome to the forums. (saw its your first post)


I hope to rework the internals anyway, the code has way too much duplication in it (It was written in C, and that had to be done at the time.) That makes the dialogs sometimes act differently, and also makes the whole thing a bit harder to modify without breaking something. It's also caused some subtle errors.

If I'm going to modify that anyway, I may as well update the UI to more modern standards if I can do it easily.

Ralph

(in reply to JReb)
Post #: 25
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 7:56:02 PM   
Lava


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quote:

ORIGINAL: JaguarUSF

quote:

ORIGINAL: JReb
Civ comes to mind.


Excellent example.



Not my cup of tea...

Personally, if I was going to upgrade the graphics of a game like TOAW what I would do is include an even closer zoom whereas you could then have whatever you wanted displayed... bigger unit icons with more information or 3D stuff, for example.

But I doubt I would use the function. At the operational level, I perfer to be able to see the big picture and not have to zoom down to play the game. It would depend heavily on how it is implemented.

The graphics may look "old" but what is more important is that they convey the necessary information which you require to plan and execute your strategy. In my opinion, graphics compliment gameplay, not the other way around. TOAW may look simple, might look outdated, but it is one kickass of a wargame.

It's like chess. Your basic chess game doesn't sell because of the handcrafted Star War's spinoff pieces. It sells because of the game mechanics.

Ray (alias Lava)

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Post #: 26
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 8:18:44 PM   
Siberian HEAT


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The beauty of TOAW 3 is that you can change the background to almost anything you want (see attached)...and the challenge (as I have been doing this a lot lately) is finding a set of graphics which work with the large variety of land features (roads/cities/etc.), and also work well on a variety of terrain. To find one all-encompassing graphics set is difficult, although the stock graphics which come with T3 are very nice, and are more realistic looking IMO than other similar games out there.

In the future you are going to see even more cool graphics come out of the scenario design environment because graphics can now be changed on a per-scenario basis, meaning one graphics set can be created that only has to look good in 1914 German East Africa, and nowhere else. In a very real sense, each scenario could look totally different, making them almost standalone games of their own. With a little patience, it would even be entirely possible to create a scenario which looks identical to a boardgame covering the same operation (make it look like the PanzerBlitz map for example LOL).

While part of me would like to see the ability to overlay maps such as TOPOS, at the scale we play there is little use for them other than eye candy. TOAW doesn't use elevation in a more sophisticated way which would necessitate knowing where valleys, ridgelines, etc. are located (eg. for LOS) -- because all relevant information is already on the playing map. TOAW 3 shouldn't make the mistake of throwing in all sorts of maps which add nothing functional to actual gameplay. Because we have to play on a hex grid, it would be impossible to play solely on any other sort of map without constantly changing layers to see what is really below that hex. Would it be cool to see a real map of the battlefield on the screen - probably. Could you "play" on that map - doubtful.

As for 3D, I'm pretty old school on that point. It isn't that I am dead set against it, but the fact is that you lose tons of information when compared to a 2D map. Most significantly you lose the ability to glance at a unit and intuitively know its contents (and strength!). When looking at 3D you can't see the difference between similiar units...forcing you to mouse-over the entire battlefield. This is a problem that is not easily solved. RTS games can get away with it because there are fewer units and they are much larger on the screen because the battlefields are so much smaller...and that is why their graphics can assume more realism. At the scale of TOAW 3, you can't have trees that are visibly swaying and whatnot, because you wouldn't see individual trees at operational scales. More importantly, TOAW is not a game where you push one stack into another and fight it out like an RTS game - and I would hate to ever see this game billed as such.

I should point out that I am not here to say that 2D in the way of the Old School is hereby the Truth of all things. I've just not seen an implementation of 3D graphics which provide more detail than 2D in this environment. I'm on the lookout for it though.






Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Siberian HEAT -- 6/14/2006 8:26:55 PM >


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Post #: 27
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 10:15:45 PM   
Dr. Foo


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The remark about the graphics just shows that the reviewer does not really understand the community TOAW is serving. Most of us grew up playing with a map and cardboard cutout units, sitting at our kitchen tables painstakingly calculating and bookkeeping each and every turn that could take hours. Now we have all our Avalon Hills and Victory Games, on our PC's!

If the units looked any different I would not be as interested in this game.


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Post #: 28
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/14/2006 10:17:40 PM   
JReb


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[/quote]
If I'm going to modify that anyway, I may as well update the UI to more modern standards if I can do it easily.

Ralph

[/quote]

That sounds great but I am sure it will be a challenge!

[/quote]
I should point out that I am not here to say that 2D in the way of the Old School is hereby the Truth of all things. I've just not seen an implementation of 3D graphics which provide more detail than 2D in this environment. I'm on the lookout for it though.
[/quote]

My point exactly. Love to see it...haven't seen it yet. I have to admit I have no ideas in this area either. Regardless, TOAW is a great game.






< Message edited by JReb -- 6/14/2006 10:18:10 PM >


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Post #: 29
RE: Review @ Out of Eight - 6/15/2006 3:09:03 AM   
golden delicious


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Lava

Personally, if I was going to upgrade the graphics of a game like TOAW what I would do is include an even closer zoom whereas you could then have whatever you wanted displayed... bigger unit icons with more information or 3D stuff, for example.


It WOULD be neat to have a bigger zoom level where instead of each hex containing one stack of nine units, each was three stacks of three.

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