From: Southern California, U.S.A.
Game Status – Reality and Myth
The following are solely my opinions and conjectures based on my (albeit limited) knowledge of the game as it stands.
I’ve started this thread because I think that there are a lot of people with misconceptions of the status and of the process of making a game. Some of this is due to disinformation fed into these threads or simple the lack of understanding. I was one of the latter (ignorance is bliss) prior to coming into the scenario design/testing team a few years back. Now I have a better understanding, and so hope that by sharing this you will have a better appreciation of the game.
For starters, the development of this game falls under what I consider 5 phases: 1) Initial conception and preliminary programming by the developer, 2) Matrix joins the efforts, and thus is able to bring very talented and seasoned designers (Trey Marshall, Daniel McBride, etc). These people become the core or initial group that shapes the direction of the game’s development, 3) more testers and designers are brought into the mix. I joined around this time as a tester (read a note below about this), 4) the game gets major re-work based upon the testers and designers input. Here is where the long “wish” lists get implemented. 5) (not yet done…) the game goes through another phase of testers, existing designers making final tweaks and balances to the scenarios. Game is then released.
We’re somewhere between Phase 4 and 5 in my opinion. And let me add that because of the great work that the designers and testers have done, this game had a lot of major improvements implemented. The flip side is that sometimes (as is the case with all programming) when you add or fix something, it can cause something else to fail.
Could the game be playable today? Well yes and no. We have “played” it and tested it, but there were some major improvements that needed to be taken care of. This included the AI. I’m not going to get into a discussion of the AI, because quite frankly it’s not something I know a great deal about. BUT, You may want to note here (before you feel like ranting) that the scope of this game’s engine is huge. It’s not just a new system in terms of how turns are played out, but much more than this. You will be able to re-create any battle, whether in the frozen artic mountains of Norway, to the deserts of Africa, the beaches of Normandy, the steppes of Russia or the jungle islands of the Pacific. IT’S ALL THERE FOLKS!!!
Which is why it is taking so long. Take movement for example. There are numerous movement styles, and movement over a plain terrain or a steppe is different than an amphibious landing in a jungle island or a para-drop in Crete. THESE THINGS TAKE AN ENORMOUSE AMOUNT OF TIME to test and to fix. Hexes are divided into 6 “sectors” each having their own set of “rules”. IT’S MASSIVE!!!
Releasing the game pre-maturely would be plain dumb. I personally would have liked to see this game released already. I’ve spent thousands of hours testing and designing and researching, not to mention hundreds of dollars out of pocket to get databases, maps, books, etc. So yeah, I guess you could say I have a vested interest.
The fact is that the game cannot be released until all the many ideas, features, and tweaks are worked out to a level that meets the developer and the distributor’s satisfaction. That’s a business decision as much as an artistic one.
Now I’m going to once more go out on a limb here… (flame away if you want, BTW – I own all TOAW incarnations)…
THIS IS NOT TOAW!
Never was. Never will be. It’s also not V4V (though much more similar).
People keep making these comparisons but you really got to separate the two. TOAW had (or has depending on your view) its strengths and weaknesses. So does ANY game. With this new gaming system, You will need to find new strategies when playing even same battles from those other systems.
So now the million-dollar question: WHEN IS THE GAME COMING OUT?
Sorry, I really don’t have that answer for you. For Matrix or anyone to say again would be dumb, because when the final phase of testers comes onboard there may be a lot more tweaking. I know they are dying to tell you a date, as much as you’re dying to hear about one. For now we have to keep waiting. Yeah, it sucks. Get over it.
What is certain is that the game is rock hard steady. I’ve had no CTD’s. The editor is fully functional, as is nearly all features. A lot of work has been done on PBEM because the DEVs want to insure that the games turns are protected so there’s no exploitation.
The other certain thing is that Erik, Ludo and others have NEVER said anything to the contrary as to the completion and release of this game. And it is my belief that when you finally play it you will have a whole new appreciation for all the hard work that went into it.
That’s all I got to say. I don’t claim to be a fanboy or anything else. All I want is what YOU want. That the game comes out, that it is a success, and that future versions become a reality.
So rant or send kudos… it’s not my party. I’m just on the VIP list.
NOTE: My experience as tester turned designer:
I came into the game as a tester, and nothing more. But to really learn the game we had to test things like the editor. So I started making a scenario. Other testers did the same. Soon we found ourselves being testers AND designers. Perhaps not always the best combination. But it was a necessary evil to fully test the game. As the game has developed there have been an introduction of so many features, that most of those early scenarios need to be overhauled. I still have to go back and tweak out many scenarios I did. But the end result…VERY FABULOUS…
JUST SAY NO... To Hideous Graphics.