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What a Fantastic Game

 
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What a Fantastic Game - 11/28/2007 11:11:22 PM   
Anthropoid


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What a terrific game . I'm impressed by how difficult this game is, and how effective the AI is! I'm not sure if it is the latest patch, or just that I'm playing the standard scenario instead of the Coming Fury, but the game I'm playing now with the 1.10.10 patch on First Sarge difficulty seems to be very nicely balanced.

The combination of strategic level decisions, disposition of forces, building, politics, and tactical battles is just a terrific mixture for a totally engrossing strategic war game. Now if I can just keep from losing my job before the glint wears off . . .

I'm an old "Civil War Generals II" player, so I had some 'un-learning' to do for the tactical battles in this game, but overall I think that this system is just as good if not better than the tactical battle system in that game. Certainly the importance of generals, terrain, unit attributes, morale, weapons, etc., are all very well represented in the system. The only thing I wonder is the effect of height, and cover, and the existence of sunken roads.

In CWGII, high ground, cover (forests as well as buildings, tall grass, etc.) all had a significant, and quantified benefit for defense. Maybe my reading of the manual has not been close enough yet, but I do not get the impression that there is much defensive benefit to these terrain types in this game, whereas swamps ARE highly protective? And there do not appear to be sunken roads at all?

There was one small matter I noticed that is not a bug per se, but it did perplex me for a while. One of the senators wanted an Engineering College. I ignored it or did not see it for a while, until the first time I noticed it it said: "Insists Engineering . . ." that was all I could read. For a while I was puzzled since there is no way to change settings to focus on "engineering" research. Then I finally realized that he was asking for a college, but the text did not all fit on the one line. Not a big deal, but maybe could be fixed so that text wraps there?
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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/28/2007 11:47:38 PM   
Gil R.


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Thanks! We're glad you like it so much.

You're definitely right about the standard scenario's balance -- we designed the game to start in November because that seemed the optimal time, but the July scenario seems most popular.

The hexes you mentioned -- heights, woods, buildings, etc. -- definitely do have defensive values. As for sunken roads, we did want to have them (along with railroad tracks, stone walls, etc.) but adding them would have been a lot of additional work. Believe it or not, adding a single new terrain type can involve an enormous amount of work, not only in terms of graphics but also time spent training the AI how to deal with it. One day, either in an expansion pack or a FOF2 we'd like to add these terrains, but can make no promises.



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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 12:39:01 AM   
Anthropoid


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I know there is a thread here where one of you guys describe the different scenarios a bit, but I frankly was baffled by what the different scenarios are supposed to represent.

The Coming Fury starts in July, and is setup for the CSA to be more powerful compared to the Standard Campaign which starts in November?

I find I like a couple of the Advanced Game settings turned off too, such as random general stats.

Another thing that I think impacted my first try being a lot more difficult was more population and more wealth, which I think must tend to benefit the CSA more than the Union?

One of the things I like about this system as compared to the old CWGII "campaign" system is the benefit that leaving a tactical venue has on troops. They actually get better, particularly when they win, and replacements clearly can have a negative impact on quality too. This I think is a critical dimension in a four-year long war of diffuse attrition which gradually evolved into a 'total war' like that one did.

Do you get booty when you over-run supply caissons? Does this include weapons or just "supply" (meaning primarily ammo)?

ADDIT: I don't think the lack of sunken roads is a serious issue, I was mostly just curious if height and cover afforded defensive benefit. Clearly (inferring from battle outcomes) hasty entrenchments DO have a significant impact. Using only two units that had the digger skill (out of a total of about 25 brigades in a battle in 1862) to prepare a pallisade, I was able to repulse about 1.75 times as many CSA brigades!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.

Thanks! We're glad you like it so much.

You're definitely right about the standard scenario's balance -- we designed the game to start in November because that seemed the optimal time, but the July scenario seems most popular.

The hexes you mentioned -- heights, woods, buildings, etc. -- definitely do have defensive values. As for sunken roads, we did want to have them (along with railroad tracks, stone walls, etc.) but adding them would have been a lot of additional work. Believe it or not, adding a single new terrain type can involve an enormous amount of work, not only in terms of graphics but also time spent training the AI how to deal with it. One day, either in an expansion pack or a FOF2 we'd like to add these terrains, but can make no promises.






< Message edited by Anthropoid -- 11/29/2007 12:45:04 AM >

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 1:29:29 AM   
Gil R.


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Essentially, there are two types of scenarios available: "balanced" and "imbalanced." In both cases, our economic and demographic numbers are based on sounds historical research. However, in the "balanced" scenarios whenever there were different numbers available we went with those favoring the CSA and disfavoring the USA, with the effect being that the CSA is closer to the USA in wealth and population, but certainly not equal to it. The "imbalanced" scenarios use 1860 census figures, which have a much sharper difference between the two sides. There is no scenario that gives both sides equal wealth and population, though anyone who wants to can create a mod like this.

So, those are the two types of scenarios, and we currently have July and November (for which "Southern Steel" is the more imbalanced). We do plan to add additional scenarios, and have a Dec. 1862 (= Fredericksburg) one partly ready, but any scenarios set in 1862 or later would require a good amount of extra coding, so we'll probably wait for an expansion pack for them.

I'm glad that you like the effect of hasty entrenchments. I read a whole book that was devoted to field fortifications during the Civil War (Earl J. Hess, "Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War: The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864"), and that impressed on us the need of making them play an important role. We also decided based on that book that units should not start off knowing how to entrench at the start of the war, since this skill was only being learned during the Peninsula Campaign of spring 1862 -- that book saved us from a significant historical inaccuracy.

As for caissons, I don't believe that destroying them gives one any material gains. Perhaps something to consider, though I'm not sure if it's necessary. On a related note, way back pre-release I had the idea of showing on the map where each side's camp was, so that if the army overran the camp it might raise the morale or disposition of soldiers who just got some extra food, coffee and tobacco. This idea was chopped because though nifty it was nonessential, and we couldn't put every last good idea in the game.


< Message edited by Gil R. -- 11/29/2007 2:27:18 AM >

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 2:23:22 AM   
ericbabe


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Thank you for the kind words.

Swamps have a defensive penalty.  You take more casualties if you are attacked in swamps.  (Unless the unit defending has the Swampwise special ability.)

Heights have a defensive bonus: artillery do -33% against units on heights, other units do -20% against units on heights (unless, of course, those units are also on heights).


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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 3:41:23 AM   
Anthropoid


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You guys have really done a good job on this. It is a pleasure to explore it. Making a game that combines all the necessary elements (historical accuracy, user interface, different levels of difficulty, playability, visual appeal, unknown 'random' factors, balance of it all) into a really compelling work of art is no simple feat. You guys have done it.

I'm guessing you must have played CWGII back in the day? Maybe there were other Civil War games about which I am not aware, but that one was a good one for its era. This game strikes me as being a highly worthy 'descendant' of that game, in that it combines tactical and strategic, but also adds the civilization style stuff, and politics.

If you have not played CWGII, it is now freeware if I understand correctly, and there is (or at least used to be a couple years ago) a TREMENDOUS amount of stuff (maps, scenarios, and such) out there in cyber-storage.

http://willisnyc.tripod.com/

I cannot now find the link to the site, but at some point I found a site that had literally a hundred or so DL-able maps for specific historical battles.

This is the one area where CWGII and FOF differ. In CWGII, many if not most of the battles of the actual civil war have a map in existence, and the starting units and reinforcement schedules for each battle are determined by the specific path one takes in the 'campaign' game. Having played it through on the hardest difficulties, I don't think there really was quite enough capacity for ahistorical fluctuation in the alternate flow-charts afforded, but in any event, that is how it worked.

Maybe you guys are intimately familiar with this old game, and I'm just preaching to the choir, but if not, it might be worthwhile food for thought for future installments, else for a kernel to promote fan-generated scenarios, and/or brief campaigns involving pre-made maps of historical areas.

ADDIT some more links I scrounged up:

http://pettigrew100.tripod.com/HQ/index.html

IIRC, that one above has tons of DLs

The following link has a bunch of other links that I have never really explored. In sum, I really loved CWGII, but found that after I maxed on the learning curve against the AI, it was not much fun any more, and because it is like a 15 year old game, there does not seem to be a PBEM community any more. I have been looking forward to your FOF as a possible 'upgrade' to my old CWGII fascination since I first saw it here on Matrix a couple years ago. The opportunity was finally right, and I'm really delighted to get back into it :)

http://www.dmoz.org/Games/Video_Games/Strategy/Turn-Based/Civil_War_Generals_II_-_Grant,_Lee,_Sherman/

< Message edited by Anthropoid -- 11/29/2007 3:48:03 AM >

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 4:02:54 AM   
Anthropoid


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quote:

ORIGINAL: ericbabe

Thank you for the kind words.

Swamps have a defensive penalty.  You take more casualties if you are attacked in swamps.  (Unless the unit defending has the Swampwise special ability.)

Heights have a defensive bonus: artillery do -33% against units on heights, other units do -20% against units on heights (unless, of course, those units are also on heights).



All makes good sense :) I also think not having the hasty entrenchment ability uniform in the game at start adds a LOT to the game. Indeed, it is the 'patchiness' of abilities dotted in different brigades and generals throughout ones forces that creates a really interesting link between tactical and strategic levels, and affords a player an opportunity for operational creativity. (e.g., so what if you got a kick-ass division or even corps, if it is not in the right place in the right time, it is a worthless source of expense). Not many games manage to create that sort of dynamic in a basic game mechanic the way you guys have done with many such mechanics in this game.

Were you guys influenced at all by Civ4? I think that game and FOF must have come out at about the same time, some maybe some of the similarities are just interesting synergies (e.g., 'attributes and abilities' in FOF and 'promotions' in Civ4). Both I think are advances in how games are representing military operations, while still remaining playable, fun, and marketable.

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 9:45:53 AM   
pixelpusher


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Hi Anthropoid,

Glad to hear you're enjoying Forge and welcome to the community! Tell your friends!

quote:

I'm guessing you must have played CWGII back in the day? Maybe there were other Civil War games about which I am not aware, but that one was a good one for its era. This game strikes me as being a highly worthy 'descendant' of that game, in that it combines tactical and strategic, but also adds the civilization style stuff, and politics.


A few people have asked us that: actually no, I don't think any of us really played that one much. The inspiration for the FoF detailed battles were the excellent paintings of battles in the American Heritage New History of the Civil War, by Catton, (paintings by David Greenspan), plus a bunch of lessons learned from making the CoG gfx.

quote:

worthwhile food for thought for future installments, else for a kernel to promote fan-generated scenarios, and/or brief campaigns involving pre-made maps of historical areas.


Being able to plug in pre-made historical or user-made maps into the detailed battle part of the game is something we have definitely talked about for Forge 2, currently in the planning phase. Certainly on my wish list, but I don't have to program it, either. So, no promises yet!

quote:

Were you guys influenced at all by Civ4? I think that game and FOF must have come out at about the same time, some maybe some of the similarities are just interesting synergies


We all like the whole Civ series, and play it from time to time. (Eric usually wins, even with a huge handicap!) The upgrades and abilities came more from a desire to give more detail and 'personality' to the various units... same thing w/ the weapons and flag customization. All swell features that make the units less homogeneous, and in ways that would resonate w/ civil war fans. You think twice before throwing your legendary unit into harms way! Same thing w/ the generals...


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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 4:46:22 PM   
ericbabe


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I researched CWG while designing FOF (along with about a dozen other CW products), but haven't seriously played it.

FOF did come out after Civ4, but honestly we had already designed everything in FOF by that point.  I grit my teeth when I saw that Civ had added the abilities to its units, as I knew people would think of those when they saw ours, but in all honesty our system was already up and running when I first saw Civ4.

The main change I wanted to make from our first game COG to FOF was to provide much more customizability to the units, so we added Disposition, Strategic Supply, Firearms, customizable flags, Special Abilities and Attributes.  I had in mind players who like to dream up different ways of organizing and customizing their brigades.





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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 5:32:47 PM   
WallysWorld


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This may sound stupid, but I bought FOF way back in May and haven't played it yet for one reason or another.

Finally started reading the manual and now I'm really looking forward to playing this game.

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 8:02:01 PM   
Anthropoid


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One thing to consider on the detailed historic battles issue: Like I said, there is (or at least was a year and a half ago) a _TON_ of user made maps for the CWGII game out there in cyber-storage. Also the game itself had the majority of the major battles made up as hex maps. I'm pretty sure all of this stuff is freeware now.

I have no idea about making maps or importing old files or whatever, but if there is a will, I reckon there would pretty readily prove to be a way for earnest FOF fans to use publicly available resources to produce specific battle maps.

On the topic of similarities between FOF and other games, I wouldn't sweat it. Great minds think alike! In science, when more than one lab or scientist independently arrive at the same solution/conclusion it is taken to be more solid proof of the truth/beauty of the finding. The same is true of artists, though for whatever reason, there is some kinda taboo about being influenced by other artists

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 8:27:54 PM   
Gil R.


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If we do one day do a map editor -- either for the expansion or a FOF2 -- we would certainly be seeking the help of volunteers to help us put the maps together. My guess is that some of them will take advantage of this resource. (Me, any map I work on I'll use as an excuse to visit the place. Heck, for me it's even tax-deductible!)

I know that Eric spent a bit of time studying other Civil War games (which is important for any lead designer to do), but for my own part, I've not played any of them, so all of the ideas I contributed came from reading books and websites and trying to apply what I was reading to our game. (And there are a heck of a lot of ideas that didn't get implemented; somewhere, several pages down, there's even a thread about this.) Of course, the most important factor in game design was that we were using the "Crown of Glory" engine, and wanted to create a game that would work well with it, instead of starting from scratch.

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/29/2007 11:45:59 PM   
Gil R.


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While we're discussing the issue of adding historical maps to FOF in a future incarnation of the game -- which, I stress, is just an idea that we have kicked around, and not something we have decided to do -- I'm curious about how popular a feature this would be. If FOF came with a bunch of maps for historical battlefields and you had a chance of fighting a detailed battle on one instead of a randomized map, would people like that? My concern is that people might be disappointed when a battle fought at Gettysburg is nothing like the actual Battle of Gettysburg, even if the hexes correspond to the actual terrain. After all, the forces that would meet there would never be the same -- it might just be a few brigades fighting, one army might be twice the size of the other, the battle wouldn't necessarily begin north of the town and move southwards, etc. Or, a battle fought at Chickamauga in 1861 before Union troops know how to construct field fortifications is going to be very different from the real battle. Moreover, it's important to note that games that are devoted to a single battle tend to have highly scripted AI's that help battles to unfold roughly the way they did (or might have), whereas we wouldn't be able to do that. So the question is, would it be fun to fight battles on historical battlefields when the ONLY thing that corresponds to the historical battles would be the terrain? I'd hate to put an enormous amount of work into this, only to find people are disappointed by it.

< Message edited by Gil R. -- 11/30/2007 1:47:19 AM >

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 1:45:13 AM   
AndrewKurtz

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Gil R.

While we're discussing the issue of adding historical maps to FOF in a future incarnation of the game -- which, I stress, is just an idea that we have kicked around, and not something we have decided to do -- I'm curious about how popular a feature this would be. If FOF came with a bunch of maps for historical battlefields and you had a chance of fighting a detailed battle on one instead of a randomized map, would people like that? My concern is that people might be disappointed when a battle fought at Gettysburg is nothing like the actual Battle of Gettysburg, even if the hexes correspond to the actual terrain. After all, the forces that would meet there would never be the same -- it might just be a few brigades fighting, one army might be twice the size of the other, the battle wouldn't necessarily begin north of the town and move southwards, etc. Or, a battle fought at Chickamauga in 1861 before Union troops know how to construct field fortifications is going to be very different from the real battle. Moreover, it's important to note that games that are devoted to a single battle tend to have highly scripted AI's that help battles to unfold roughly the way they did (or might have), whereas we wouldn't be able to do that. So the question is, would it be fun to fight battles on historical battlefields when the ONLY thing that corresponds to the historical battles would be the terrain? I'd hate to put an enormous amount of work into this, only to find people are disappointed by this.


I think that would be really cool and I'd pay for an expansion pack that included it.

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 4:01:50 AM   
Missouri_Rebel


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To me it sounds like way too much effort for effect. While actual fields would be welcome, the work of getting them 'right' would seem to be difficult at best. With FoF's abstracted locations inside a rather large province the battles can  take place wherever ones imagination guides them. Will every battle in Tenn. be Shiloh? Or every one in Ole Miss be Corinth? Personally I think resources should be spent on other areas.


You have a great game no doubt. One that has consumed much of my free time, and still does. I guess what I am trying to say is that you have a good thing going and  imho,now is the time to take it to the next level. I should probably read the wish list thread and see what has been touched upon, but my view is that you spend time on engine improvements and added terrain rather than actual battlefield locals.

Not sure how one would implement it, but I would like to see battles that didn't  include every troop in the whole province? A strategic posture of some sort or a way of allowing only portions of the troops to be in the same area. Instead of dumping large numbers of troops into a province and overwhelming the enemy, how about a way to show dispositions and areas of operation.

How do you accomplish that? More spaces/provinces? I'm not sure. Maybe we are not talking FoF anymore if we do. Or maybe there is added another level of battles that isnt at the current detailed battles scope. Could also add something along the lines of introducing command points that allow differing levels of troop shiftings and reinforcements, possibly based on other factors such as the results of previous battles in the province. ie. ground gained or lost. Could be event triggered too.

But I guess my point is that I would love to see this title grow and given the limited resources a developer has, realistic fields would not be high on my list of improvements.

sorry for the spelling

mo reb




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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 5:59:04 AM   
Gil R.


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quote:

To me it sounds like way too much effort for effect. While actual fields would be welcome, the work of getting them 'right' would seem to be difficult at best. With FoF's abstracted locations inside a rather large province the battles can take place wherever ones imagination guides them. Will every battle in Tenn. be Shiloh? Or every one in Ole Miss be Corinth? Personally I think resources should be spent on other areas.



If we did this, the way it would work is that each province would have a database (or whatever one would call it) of historical battlefields, and each time one fights a battle there one would have a chance of getting one of those instead of a randomized battlefield. So fight a battle in "Fredericksburg" and you might get to be at Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court House, or even Fredericksburg itself, among other sites. Maybe we'd even let the player select which historical battlefield to fight on.

As far as the work involved goes, the graphics (for new terrain) and coding would certainly be a good amount of work, but the battlefields themselves would have to be made by volunteers, since there's no way our development team could handle such a project. So this feature is not impossible -- but as you point out, adding it would come at the expense of other new features and improvements.

Regarding your other suggestions, I think that we might be able to institute a system that would achieve that result. For example, if we gave generals their own "Logistics" ratings then maybe those with better stats would have a chance of getting more of their men into a battle. Do you think that might work well?


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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 6:31:33 AM   
Missouri_Rebel


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I would like to give this some further thought. It seems that there certainly can be a system that might add to the feel of flow and ebb of operations.Contested provinces that have their own rating of control which can sway by events of the previous turn. Both armies stay in the province after a battle while the game tracks who is gaining ground and who is losing, and ultimately, who has control. Might have some choices to make during the strategic portion of who to commit to the 'area of operation' while giving up some province ownership/control at the same time. The opposing player might then choose an attack from a more quiet sector that could spin another smaller battle or choose to shift its weight around, also affecting stances and/or control. This tied in with 'Logistics' might add a whole new level of strategy. Are the troops spread out, on their heels, out of steam? Is this a main attack, a feint or do they move in to take a defencive(sp) stand? Hasty fortifications, troops trickling in? Reserves, second and third lines set up that might take some troops away but also slow down the stronger army? etc.....


just my

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 6:52:52 AM   
Missouri_Rebel


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ps...I do like what you have proposed as far as choosing what battle if you do go the route of hitorical locations though. I just dont want it to take from the rest of the engine. But these are only my views. Curious how others feel.

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 8:44:45 AM   
Tanaka


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Another option perhaps?

Historical Maps or Random Maps

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 9:17:38 AM   
briny_norman

 

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While I like the proposed method of implementation, I personally have no desperate need for historical battlefields.
Especially not if it comes at the expense of the evolution of other parts of the engine.
I'm sure I would find it interesting the first couple of times, but I think it would loose it's appeal rather quickly as the unpredictable terrain is one of the things that make the detailed battles exciting.
You never quite know what you get and, theoretically at least, have to play each map differently.
Random terrain is one of the things that keep me playing detailed battles.
The dynamic nature of the random battlefields system is a much more appealing feature than having historic ones, and while I'm sure I would enjoy historic battlefields I'm also sure I would rather quickly start to ignore them and keep choosing the random ones.
While apparently a neat and sympathetic idea, in the long run I don't think historical battlefields would be worth the effort.

But on the other hand, I'm sure the community would love having a map-editor to play with. A map editor is a pace-maker for grog-level wargames - can seriously lengthen their digital lives.
So in that sense, there is some long-term sense in the idea too.


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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 9:23:48 AM   
Gil R.


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Sure, if we did this it would probably be a game option.

One of the biggest barriers in the way of implementing this would be the need to add a whole bunch of new hexes to detailed combat. As I mentioned in another thread, that actually takes an awful lot of work: not only does Pixelpusher need to create the graphics, but Eric has to train the AI to deal with each on offense and defense, and then we need to test it to make sure it's working well. And the palette of hexes that we can currently work with has some gaps that would need to be filled before we could create historical battlefields: to do Antietam's "Bloody Lane" we'd need a sunken road hex, to do 2nd Manassas (and some others) we'd need a railroad embankment, to do Gettysburg we'd need giant boulders as in the "Devil's Den," Monocacy requires railroad bridges, etc. (Of course, adding some new hexes for this purpose would also benefit the randomized maps, though it would also involve additional coding to get the game to know where to put these new hexes.)

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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 1:59:41 PM   
Ironclad

 

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Although the idea of refighting Gettysburg or whatever has great appeal that would require the full works ie same orders of battle and replicated start conditions. If that isn't a runner then the use of the actual battle terrain becomes far less important, indeed random terrain even when repeated has the advantage of being less well known and therefore a better battlefield experience.

So maybe one possibility would be to add a new range of terrain features or new combination of existing ones that could be inserted into the existing maps. Hopefully that would be a cheaper way, in terms of development time, to make available more unknown battlefield maps. However I wouldn't see this as a priority compared to other possible developments.

A health warning though: I hope that any improvements won't make the game unplayable by moving it beyond current system requirements. FOF is a great game and happily works on my laptop without generating constant fan use - there is some, particularly for larger HW battles, but with the use of an external cooler this is kept within limits. In contrast AGEOD's ACW (the same stated system requirements as FOF) generates constant use of my laptop cooler despite the external help. Result game left on the shelf.

< Message edited by Ironclad -- 11/30/2007 2:28:48 PM >

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 22
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 11/30/2007 11:02:07 PM   
pixelpusher


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ironclad
Although the idea of refighting Gettysburg or whatever has great appeal .. (SNIP) .. indeed random terrain even when repeated has the advantage of being less well known and therefore a better battlefield experience.


That's the reason why they're random now - we wanted the player to not be familiar with a map going in! (unlike say, some of the total war games where you get to know the maps.)

But, on the other hand, it would be fun to refight Gettysburg in FoF detailed battle, or to play a battle with slightly tweaked forces or whatever. (ie counterfactuals). Either way, I think the player would have the option to include the custom maps or not, so the players can have the experience they prefer. What might be fun could be being able to play a series of historical battles for a score. Like a single-player ladder, maybe. That would be HW only and not require the whole strategic game.

quote:

So maybe one possibility would be to add a new range of terrain features or new combination of existing ones that could be inserted into the existing maps. Hopefully that would be a cheaper way, in terms of development time, to make available more unknown battlefield maps.


Our terrain system is pretty flexible, so it can handle new gfx pretty readilly, within reason. The trick is to teach the AI how to work with it. Particularly, say, new categories of things. What sort of terrain features were you thinking about?

quote:

I hope that any improvements won't make the game unplayable by moving it beyond current system requirements. FOF is a great game and happily works on my laptop without generating constant fan use - there is some, particularly for larger HW battles, but with the use of an external cooler this is kept within limits. In contrast AGEOD's ACW (the same stated system requirements as FOF) generates constant use of my laptop cooler despite the external help. Result game left on the shelf.


Fear not: None of the improvements we're talking about above should increase the performance requirements!

-px


< Message edited by pixelpusher -- 11/30/2007 11:03:28 PM >

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Post #: 23
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/1/2007 4:32:41 AM   
Missouri_Rebel


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I guess we are talking about a variation of the existing engine. My suggestions were given with the understanding that there might be a re-write eventually. While I would welcome(read purchase) an expansion of the original, my true wish is for a 'fresh' and overhauled FoF that was groundbreaking while keeping the things that are done well. Any chance of seeing such a project?

mo reb



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Post #: 24
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/2/2007 3:56:28 AM   
hgilmer

 

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    I think a historical battlefield addition would be pretty cool.  Of course you would never have the same actual battle, but you could kind of try to get the same number of units there.

Or.... you could build into the game some sort of several factors that need to be in place to trigger an actual battle of Gettysburg and  at the almost correct date.

What i mean is if you are just playing the game and at, near or around July of 1863, certain triggers happen and the game asks something along the lines of "You and your opponent have the opportunity to refight Gettysburg with much the same order of battle as the original.  Would you like to see if you could do better?" And then you could have a Yes or No choice and go into the basic same battle set up.



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Post #: 25
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/2/2007 6:29:26 AM   
Gil R.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: hgilmer

Or.... you could build into the game some sort of several factors that need to be in place to trigger an actual battle of Gettysburg and at the almost correct date.

What i mean is if you are just playing the game and at, near or around July of 1863, certain triggers happen and the game asks something along the lines of "You and your opponent have the opportunity to refight Gettysburg with much the same order of battle as the original. Would you like to see if you could do better?" And then you could have a Yes or No choice and go into the basic same battle set up.



That strikes me as perhaps an unnecessary complexity. But what we could do is include in the historical maps the raw numbers in terms of how many men fought for each side, and have those numbers factor into the decision of which battlefield(s) should be available. So if two armies in Fredericksburg are adding up to around 70,000 men, they might get Manassas, but if they're at 200,000 one gets Chancellorsville. This might be a useful mechanism to track, since smaller battles will have smaller battlefields (generally speaking). Perhaps a better example would be the Battle of South Mountain, with 46,000 men, compared to Antietam. Then again, perhaps this idea is an unnecessary complexity.

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Post #: 26
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/4/2007 11:02:42 PM   
ericbabe


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One idea we had was to have the human-designed maps randomly available after the Initiative Check before a battle, so listed among the options among such things as "Wooded and Populous" it might also say "Fredericksburg" and so forth.

Ideally the system would be open enough such that users could design their own maps, put them in the proper directory, and the game would automatically add them to options available during the game.


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RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/5/2007 9:49:57 AM   
takati97realm

 

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I understand it was a design choice.... I'm for historical "like" maps. I feel the strategy map scale is perfect to include several predesigned maps, and then based on a "choice" open, wildernness etc. . One has certain battle map options.. entire battle site or certain section of a battle site.

I think this could allow for more choices/options that make the game feel more civil war. Like the defender gets to choose where victory point locations are at perhaps with certain parameters (not that you couldn't do that currently with random map).

As per walls/sunken roads... isn't there already an entrenchment field works digging in feature in the game? Sounds like code reuse to me....

But I wouldn't go so far as getting extremely detailed on heights and every little picket fence etc. I'm not going to sit here and prettend I know every last detail/scale of all the major battle sites.But I do think historic "like" maps would add a lot of civil war feel that is absent from the current detailed battle game.And you already have all the main terrain features handy... And as mentioned I think by others, I believe the civil war general maps are freeware...and even if they weren't, who wouldn't want to make a little extra money by using that evil word of license....As for the scale of those maps and the current... i'd say near identical....

I don't think anyone would be realistically trying to create a recreation of battles like gettysburg antetiam etc.... but there are reasons battles were fought there. As far as "actual troop" deployment...Forgot history... let initiative choose direction of entry... or "scripted" entry points...... But isn't the AI already scripted to look and interact with certain terrain types in a certain way? So I don't see how anything would need to be recoded there...

My main beef with detailed combat, I don't feel like i'm fighting the civil war fighting over random rocks. look a random lake. who on earth would put a town there. He wants me to defend those three objectives ?????!!!!!????? The enemy can have them. Look we're fighting in Virginia, seems just like Mississippi.... Oh wait...this is Mississippi....Or was it Missouri? It all looks the same to me... It's an over expensive sandbox...

My other beef is the battle objectives.... They make no strategic since in relation to the terrain...The terrain layout makes no sense....It makes no sense to be fighting here... where is here... Is this even the civil war? Lets be honest, anyone who has played civil war generals I or II knows that the map is simply a historic map, and the historic similarities end there for the most part. But for some reason "being" there was all the difference.

If you are not going to make historic maps.... could you shrink the detailed battle randomness to say half a 1600X???? monitor of hexes. You might as well just have deployment north... deployment south ...couple of hexes in between ... width is 2 spaces to the left and two spaces to the right larger than 60-70% of the largest sides battle units and only one to two hexes of "reserve" space. I never understood why the random maps where so large anyway... Yes this would cut down on pursuit losses.... but I've always felt pursuit losses in the civil war games were more fiction than fact....deaths and captured units I feel were always something at or near the point of engagement (for majority of either)...Granted most deaths came to disease of wound infections if I'm not mistaken....

While were're talking about civil war generals II... I miss the Corps leader/headquarters unit and how it was seperate from fighting units...don't have to waste fighting forces on someone who really is just "leading" and not fighting....do Corps leaders/division leaders even have any ratings affects on subordinates in detailed battle in forge of freedom? I remember there was a fire multiplier...but I don't recall seeing any other visual aid or influence over troops or subordinate commanders...

and speaking of influence and generals =)... ah...the days your brigade/regiment commander or division commander got shot and had to be replaced by none other than that lothsome leader that provided negative traits to all the subordinates in the heat of battle....where is the cutscene of the general walking in the woods and getting sniped when you need it...No not that one...noooo that's not the right general either.... NO I don't want cutscenes...but it was morbidly enjoyable losing so many generals in battle.... particularly when the battles got fierce and contested....

But forge of freedom has superior AI battle intellegience(perhaps the best overall that I've seen, arguably, for any hex game...(battle maps to big though, particularly for being random), it has the campaign/strategic map that generals II doesn't have (no offense but AGEOD's strategy map has the best strategy scale in my opinion, regarding civil war...only to date though =)......). I'd also say forge of freedom has the best order of battle that I've encountered. It has ease of use and scale regarding size units and number of units in a container for each side. Perhaps the design allows one to build Corps and "Armies" to soon but I like how one gets to choose and move around it's generals...I don't recall if it does... but perhaps a feature where generals stats could fluctuate depending on losses of soldiers in battle/obtaining victory/is he leading men wounded...I think it was Hood who wasn't exactly sane after he lost an arm... sure there are other examples...add some emphasis of finding the right man for the job...but keeping it somewhat historical...

But alas I've completely fallen off topic...sorry...Yes given the current design of the game...I'd say historic maps were a must...But alas I didn't design it...nor could I at this point in my programming career....While a pretty good game, it's current design is hard to call it a civil war game, and I feel(given the current design) that has mostly to do with the generic pointless detailed battles of no mans lands.

I'll admit I had an assumption the game was going to be "like" a civil war generals I and II battle wise... with a strategy map and order of battle that could be manipulated, economy etc. I feel you messed up the one thing that was already done for you, and I've always felt like I received half to 3/4 of a game... It just never felt like the civil war....And besides historical maps,which I'd for one pay for, given the current overall design of the game... I don't see what could possibly warrant one wanting to put more money into say a forge of freedom two. I could see a complete overhaul of the engine and game mechanics...but other than that....

Well, I hope I didn't come across as bashing,that was not my intent, merely constructive.

(in reply to ericbabe)
Post #: 28
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/5/2007 5:50:37 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Hi Takati,

quote:

ORIGINAL: takati97realm
I understand it was a design choice.... I'm for historical "like" maps. I feel the strategy map scale is perfect to include several predesigned maps, and then based on a "choice" open, wildernness etc. . One has certain battle map options.. entire battle site or certain section of a battle site.


That's the plan under discussion for a possible expansion, yep.

quote:

This could allow for more choices/options that make the game feel more civil war. Like the defender gets to choose where victory point locations are at perhaps with certain parameters (not that you couldn't do that currently with random map).


Well, that's really the point. Right now, the random maps do work just like battlefields did for the real civil war. The historical battlefields were not pre-destined in the sense that everyone knew the war would be fought there. They ended up as the battlefields based on the choices made by the opposing generals and the lay of the land and the position of the armies. That's what the current battlefield choices represent and once you actually get to the battlefield, most battles usually end up resolved over part of it rather than the whole, based again on the choices you make during the detailed battle. It feels very historical to me, even though the maps themselves are representative rather than exact historical battlefields.

quote:

handy... And as mentioned I think by others, I believe the civil war general maps are freeware...and even if they weren't, who wouldn't want to make a little extra money by using that evil word of license....As for the scale of those maps and the current... i'd say near identical....


Personally, I think the Talonsoft Battleground maps were the best made for those battlefields. CWG was a great game, but I don't see the point of going back and trying to re-use their maps or graphics. I think our graphics are a darn sight better and we can make more historical maps as well if we decide to do that. In a grand strategy game where all of history takes an alternate path once play starts, I think it's understandable why including the historical battlefields doesn't seem to be a requirement. At the same time, I think it would be a cool addition.

quote:

My other beef is the battle objectives.... They make no strategic since in relation to the terrain...The terrain layout makes no sense....It makes no sense to be fighting here... where is here... Is this even the civil war? Lets be honest, anyone who has played civil war generals I or II knows that the map is simply a historic map, and the historic similarities end there for the most part. But for some reason "being" there was all the difference.


Hm, I can't agree with that. I've fought on a lot of maps in FOF that reminded me strongly of historical battlefields in the area where they were fought.

quote:

only one to two hexes of "reserve" space. I never understood why the random maps where so large anyway... Yes this would cut down on pursuit losses.... but I've always felt pursuit losses in the civil war games were more fiction than fact....deaths and captured units I feel were always something at or near the point of engagement (for majority of either)...Granted most deaths came to disease of wound infections if I'm not mistaken....


Pursuit losses includes stragglers, which were very much a fact of any defeated and retreating ACW army. The maps are so large to allow you to choose your ground as the historical generals did and to allow you room for flanking maneuvers, second lines, reserves, etc.

quote:

While were're talking about civil war generals II... I miss the Corps leader/headquarters unit and how it was seperate from fighting units...don't have to waste fighting forces on someone who really is just "leading" and not fighting....do Corps leaders/division leaders even have any ratings affects on subordinates in detailed battle in forge of freedom? I remember there was a fire multiplier...but I don't recall seeing any other visual aid or influence over troops or subordinate commanders...


Yes, turn on the combat reports and you'll see. The manual also describes the wide variety of effects leaders have in detailed combat in FOF. You can also assign a Corps Leader to a supply unit or a rear area unit if you want to keep them out of the way, just use the "G" key.

quote:

and speaking of influence and generals =)... ah...the days your brigade/regiment commander or division commander got shot and had to be replaced by none other than that lothsome leader that provided negative traits to all the subordinates in the heat of battle....where is the cutscene of the general walking in the woods and getting sniped when you need it...No not that one...noooo that's not the right general either.... NO I don't want cutscenes...but it was morbidly enjoyable losing so many generals in battle.... particularly when the battles got fierce and contested....


Um, how much FOF have you played? Generals are regularly lost in detailed combat.

quote:

But forge of freedom has superior AI battle intellegience(perhaps the best overall that I've seen, arguably, for any hex game...(battle maps to big though, particularly for being random), it has the campaign/strategic map that generals II doesn't have (no offense but AGEOD's strategy map has the best strategy scale in my opinion, regarding civil war...only to date though =)......). I'd also say forge of freedom has the best order of battle that I've encountered. It has ease of use and scale regarding size units and number of units in a container for each side. Perhaps the design allows one to build Corps and "Armies" to soon but I like how one gets to choose and move around it's generals...I don't recall if it does... but perhaps a feature where generals stats could fluctuate depending on losses of soldiers in battle/obtaining victory/is he leading men wounded...I think it was Hood who wasn't exactly sane after he lost an arm... sure there are other examples...add some emphasis of finding the right man for the job...but keeping it somewhat historical...


I'm glad you like those parts of FOF. Playing with hidden/random stats really duplicates the search for a good general for me at least. Adding in something like "semi-random" might work, also your suggestion about allowing some fluctuation of stats based on battle results might be interesting to implement as well. Right now, if random stats are on, stats can fluctuate when a general is promoted - which gives you the "Hood effect".

quote:

Well, I hope I didn't come across as bashing,that was not my intent, merely constructive.


Well, your last paragraph I felt was far too negative. Lacking the historical battlefields is hardly something that torpedoes the game as a whole. It still "feels" like the entire Civil War to me, just one where I get to fight it out so it does turn out somewhat differently. Heck, I'm fighting a PBEM now where the CSA player is about to besiege Pittsburgh! Which historical battlefield would I choose for that? In any case, thanks for the feedback, it's good for us to know what you did and didn't like about the game.

Regards,

- Erik

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(in reply to takati97realm)
Post #: 29
RE: What a Fantastic Game - 12/5/2007 7:00:24 PM   
ericbabe


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Yes, thanks for the great quantity of feedback!

Regarding whether the maps should be random or whether we should only use historical battle maps, we've received enough positive feedback on the random maps (both for FOF and COG) to indicate that a great number of our players like the random maps.  I'd never consider substituting purely designed maps for the random ones; such a system (if we did it) would only supplement the random one.  We use fairly sophisticated fractal algorithms for generating the battle maps.

As for the objective-hexes, I agree they are contrived to a certain extent, but it's a contrivance that many other wargames of this sort use, seemingly to great effect.  I recall from refighting the Battle of Ligny on the old Talonsoft games that there was a certain windmill that was worth a lot of victory points if I captured it.  I once narrowly lost the battle as the French because I was one turn short of capturing that windmill when the game ended.  My Napoleonic Empire fell apart for want of that windmill!  I have no idea why that windmill was a make-or-break victory point location, but it gave the battles a coherent sort of narrative and worked very well as a game mechanism.  Certainly lots of people seem to have enjoyed those old Talonsoft games.  We don't have victory hexes in COG, but we had many players request them, and based on that we added them to FOF.

The suggestion that we made a design decision is correct.  There are plenty of games out there that allow players to re-fight the Civil War by stringing together historical battles.  We wanted to distinguish FOF from these by emphasizing the grand strategy aspect of the game, and by tying the battles to the grand strategy as tightly as we could.  By necessity, this means keeping the options for detailed battles unrestricted.

Personally I much more enjoy fighting battles that have context, and personally I think the game mechanisms we use in FOF (and COG!) give more context to the battles than any other game on the market.  The context we give to the battles isn't purely historical context -- the chances of exactly re-fighting a Gettysburg in FOF is very low -- rather, the context is within the grand strategy portion of our game.

I can understand that if a player is going into detailed combat thinking, "Lee never fought this battle!" that player might be disappointed.  However, there are plenty of other games that players who want battles in a pure historical context can play.  We wanted to distinguish our games from these types of games. 

One idea for another type of product our engine would be to produce a series of detailed battle scenarios that would allow players to re-fight the Civil War (or Napoleonic Wars) one historical battle at a time using only the detailed combat portion of our game.  Part of the goal of the discussion on this thread is to ascertain whether such a game with our engine would have market appeal even though there are plenty of other games out there that do just this.

As for Virginia being no different than Missouri, we actually have terrain information to indicate what sorts of terrain should be available, and to what degree, in detailed combat for every single movement area in the map, including levels of population, roads, etc.  Gil went through enormous pain putting this file together, and he'll be very sad to read the claim that FOF makes no terrain distinctions between provinces.





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