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My Review - 8/15/2010 3:18:34 PM   
junk2drive


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Now that I have played a bit longer, some thoughts.

My recent favourite games have been Steel Panthers, JTCS, Combat Mission and Panzer Command. The first two use hexes of 50m and 250m, squad and platoon levels. SP is 2D and JTCS is 2D or isometric 3D. The other two are WEGO squad level full 3D.
They are all very detailed in their inner workings. All except CM let you mod the details. The editors allow small and large battles to be created and have random generators for battles. SP and CM will generate maps.
BA has no generating ability. Everything can be modded but you need to know programming to do the scripting. Something I haven't been able to wrap my old head around.
BA has single tanks and abstract squads with no command structure. Off board artillery and air support are simple and unrestricted.
It is 3D with a look that reminds me of Micro Machines toy vehicles. Animations are very well done. It uses squares instead of hexes.
Simple last man standing scenarios can be made quickly and easily. The maps can be map as simple or as detailed as you like. There is only one elevation allowed above ground level. I think that might change in the future.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Iain McNeil

The scale is abstracted. 1 tile range is intended to represent 50-100m. 2 tiles about 200m, up to 8 tiles at about 2km. This may sounds strange but it allows us to get the more subtle differentiations at shorter range without having to make ranges so high you cant see what you're shooting at on screen. This makes it very hard to give you a real ground scale. Maps can be 64x64 tiles at present but there is not really a technical reason they can't be bigger as far as I know but we didn't want to make missions like that.


What this does is that a vehicle can be next to a structure and your unit cannot target it because it has no line of sight, like a 50m game. A few hexes away and your infantry and tanks have less effect or cannot fire at all because of the range to the target like a larger scale. When your best units are on one side of the map and the enemy threat appears on the other side, it seems to take forever to move across the map. In other words, don't leave your weak units unsupported holding a victory point. This is when the scale seems the biggest, crossing large areas.

The gameplay is very good if you like games, not simulations. The AI does a good job of flanking, attacking, and so far for me, in the campaigns, not predictable.
Playing the game is simple, intuitive (after you read the manual and read enough on screen tips), and addicting. It has that "one more turn" feel. A large part of this is the lack of tedium. That may change as the game gets fan contributed battles and campaigns but the simplicity of the design and mechanics will still keep it at a minimum.

The negative comments that I have seen so far are about the puzzle aspect of the included campaigns, in that you have to figure out how to capture/kill/hold for x number of turns to win. I've seen worse but it is there.
Also mentioned is the opportunity fire routine and using shoot and scoot tactics, sometimes combined with unit sacrifice to bleed shots. This is always a problem with turn based games. Slitherine states that they are looking at ways to make this better.
Lastly, although the game is completely modable, it is not user friendly to do so. You need outside programs to view and change the data. I would say that you need higher than average computer skills to do anything worth sharing.

All in all a very good game system for me and my free time at a reasonable price.
Post #: 1
RE: My Review - 8/15/2010 11:38:12 PM   
Dale H


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It is good not to become too jaded. I cannot recall when I had more fun gaming. This interface & gameplay is so intuitive you can just let it happen. No review here but just some first impressions. I can see why some have compared it to Steel Panthers. I find I am having to think tactically. Call me a fanboy. I am glad I gave in to my impulse to buy.

(in reply to junk2drive)
Post #: 2
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 5:33:43 AM   
Grotius


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Thanks for posting your thoughts, guys. I'm pretty tempted.

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RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 8:06:01 AM   
jomni


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Best part of junk's review is the part where he said that BA is a game and not a simulation.
That is very true.  Players should not even try and nitpick about the realism of the game.
But the tactical considerations found in the gameplay seems to be credible and (most of all) fun.

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RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 10:56:00 AM   
Melnibone


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Most fun I've had with a game since the original Combat Mission. Multi player is great and will only improve as more varied scenarios come along.

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RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 12:35:02 PM   
Adam Parker


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quote:

ORIGINAL: junk2drive

The gameplay is very good if you like games, not simulations. The AI does a good job of flanking, attacking, and so far for me, in the campaigns, not predictable...

The negative comments that I have seen so far are about the puzzle aspect of the included campaigns, in that you have to figure out how to capture/kill/hold for x number of turns to win. I've seen worse but it is there..


Agree with the first being on the verge of finishing the Western Desert Campaign. Just got wiped by the AI.

The puzzle aspect actually isn't all that bad, for unlike many such designs there are plenty of turns to get things done. As a result I don't feel like I'm fighting the game engine as opposed to actually playing it. This is a nice differentiation and its what's bringing me back for that "one more go - one more scenario" feeling.

Love the mixed arms feel too - nothing boring due to lack of force mix.

Also kudos for the very quick first patch that added brand new features. Awesome new zoom out.

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Post #: 6
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 2:58:56 PM   
redmarkus4


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I have played sequentially from the start of the Desert Campaign as far as Operation Cobra in the Normandy Campaign, which I just won on the second attempt. I jumped forward to check out the first Bulge scenario and got totally wiped out by a vast AI tank force. Not sure how I'm ever going to win that.

I am really enjoying Normandy. The scenarios have been based on actual events, though adapted, but you really get the sense that the developers have paid attention to the flow of history.

I also found that a number of key features (unit strength, LOS, movement points, etc.) can be edited with Excel. I lowered the unit speeds and upped the LOS, while also editing the terrain file in Notepad so that tanks could penetrate one forest hex each turn. I made the buildings tougher to attack by setting them as light fortifications - a Normandy stone house should be at least as tough as a sandbag emplacement IMO. I then increased the squad sizes (e.g. 8 soldiers for Infantry squads). This changed the whole character of the game in a number of ways, and I felt that the extended fire fights in built up areas were more convincing.

I'm not a real modder (no patience) but 'realism' and 'gameplay' mods seem to be very easy to produce with this game. Scenarios and graphics mods are probably harder.

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Post #: 7
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 3:10:21 PM   
rich12545

 

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I've taken a look at some of the files and don't quite understand.  Would you mind sharing which ones, where they are, and what you modified?  

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RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 3:16:31 PM   
Pford

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: redmarkus4
I also found that a number of key features (unit strength, LOS, movement points, etc.) can be edited with Excel. I lowered the unit speeds and upped the LOS, while also editing the terrain file in Notepad so that tanks could penetrate one forest hex each turn. I made the buildings tougher to attack by setting them as light fortifications - a Normandy stone house should be at least as tough as a sandbag emplacement IMO. I then increased the squad sizes (e.g. 8 soldiers for Infantry squads). This changed the whole character of the game in a number of ways, and I felt that the extended fire fights in built up areas were more convincing.


Interesting. I messed around a bit with the files as well. I changed the the unit type from artillery to infantry on the mortar and MG teams to give them limited foot movement. It worked but now without animations so they glide from square to square like the Volturi vampires in the Twilight novels.

And, yes, it seems a bit to easy to deplete infantry in stone buildings and pillboxes, especially with small arms.

Also, increased the range of some guns to 12 squares. For example the German 88s, don't feel commanding enough on the extended LOS maps. But this could mess with the AI logarithms.

< Message edited by Pford -- 8/16/2010 7:28:01 PM >

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RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 4:30:46 PM   
PipFromSlitherine

 

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Just a reminder that if you alter the main game files, then multiplayer will not work correctly. If you're not ready to try it yet then you have no worries - just a warning :).

Cheers

Pip

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Post #: 10
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 5:29:21 PM   
redmarkus4


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Yes - I saved the originals and I paste them back in before playing MP. I'm looking at maybe making a separate install for each version and editing the name of the shortcut.

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Post #: 11
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 5:34:48 PM   
redmarkus4


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Hi.

If you browse to your BA Folder and open the Data Folder you will see two files named Squads. Open the one that's in .CSV format (if you see Tabbed Excel Worksheets when you open it, then you've opened the wrong one).

Here you will find every unit listed and all of its characteristics. I'll PM you now and we can email.

The Terrain file dictates how terrain affects each unit type by setting the movement cost for each. So, if Infantry have an AP of 16 in the Squads file, and the movement cost for Infantry in Water is 100 in the Terrain file, then they can't enter a water square. If you change the water AP cost for Infantry to, say 8, then they can move slowly through water for 1 or 2 hexes.

Here you can also set houses as fortifications etc. It's pretty simple once you understand the structure.

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Post #: 12
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 5:43:55 PM   
rich12545

 

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I'll take a look.  I'm really pretty dense on this kind of stuff but would like to make some changes especially setting up different start positions for existing scenarios to add replayability and changing units to have some all infantry scenarios.  That will be down the road though. I'm still playing the originals.  I haven't liked a game this much in a long time.

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Post #: 13
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 5:49:14 PM   
gijas


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I agree with this review. I've only played a few missions into the western desert campaign but the game is engaging if a bit simple. Coming from those games junk2drive mentioned like panzer command and combat missions this game seems like a lite version of those but its still fun and more personal since you have a comical plot that goes along with each mission. I would not go as far to say that this is more for kiddies since some missions can be hard even on easy difficulty that require as junk2drive suggested tactics that usually only more mature players understand but its not by no means a simulation. I still think panzer command is my favorite wwII game here on Matrix and with all that game offers including a mission generator and map editor its really ahead of this game as far as replay goes but it does not have the multiplayer aspect as Battlefield Academy has. Achtung Panzer is one that has recently come out and I enjoy along with this game but there are differences (pros and cons) with each game.


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Post #: 14
RE: My Review - 8/16/2010 7:43:39 PM   
redmarkus4


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Just note that you can't edit the scenarios using the method I outlined - only the unit stats etc... I haven't looked at scenario creation or editing yet, but I was able to open the stock scenarios in the editor by copying them into the appropriate folder in My Games/BA/etc

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Post #: 15
RE: My Review - 8/17/2010 1:39:07 PM   
Joram

 

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It's good to see the feedback on this game.  It sounds better than what it looks.  My main beef that makes me not want to pull the trigger is the one playable side in campaign which inevitably will be rectified with future expansions.  I hate this dribble out the content approach and will probably wait a long time before I get it unless some outstanding mods are developed.  And I never buy games for their multiplayer capabilities so that isn't even a feature to me.

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Post #: 16
RE: My Review - 8/17/2010 1:45:23 PM   
junk2drive


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There won't be a need for expansions because they have made it so that anyone can create new content.

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Post #: 17
RE: My Review - 10/22/2010 3:07:18 PM   
junk2drive


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Slitherine has proved my wrong by announcing the first expansion, France 1940.

I'm still having a blast playing the game, designing scenarios and modding.

The latest patch makes it easy to place victory point flags on a map in the editor. Now you can easily make scenarios for last man standing, capture the flag, defend the flag. You can also tell the AI where to go and how aggressive to be getting there with GUI windows.



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RE: My Review - 10/22/2010 4:37:36 PM   
wodin


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SO the game is growing...do you think it will ever get a mod that turns it into a more realsitic sim? Still keep the fun, just make sure things work the way they should...the infantry seem very fragile...blowing tanks up with grenades seems odd....

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RE: My Review - 10/22/2010 4:49:04 PM   
junk2drive


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Every game has a rock paper scissors aspect.

You can mod the squads to not have grenades or anti tank assets.

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RE: My Review - 10/22/2010 4:57:20 PM   
Iain McNeil


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The grenades simulate the variety of close assault weapons the infantry have such as explosives, panzerfausts etc. so its not just grenades but we didnt want to use up a lot of resources making the visuals match exactly what the model is representing.

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RE: My Review - 10/23/2010 5:30:02 PM   
wodin


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Couldn't you just have one soldier in the squad with a bazooka who fires when attacking tanks?

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RE: My Review - 10/23/2010 7:41:11 PM   
junk2drive


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Yes you can. I don't know why they chose two.

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RE: My Review - 10/25/2010 8:04:16 AM   
Iain McNeil


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I think he means why not 1 of the 5 men have a bazooka in infantry. The reason is that for technical reasons all the guys in a squad are currently the same. We cant have a mixture of models without a fair amount of extra work.

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RE: My Review - 10/25/2010 1:51:45 PM   
junk2drive


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I had just watched the video by DeLaVega and the vision of two was stuck in the way of my reading his post correctly. Abstract works for me.

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RE: My Review - 12/6/2010 12:05:41 PM   
junk2drive


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I posted this in another forum and thought I would add it to my comments here. After a few months of play, I am still enjoying this game.


quote:

ORIGINAL: junk2drive

That's part of what I like about Battlefield Academy. It plays like a game, not a complicated simulation. The 3D units are low detail so that you don't need a super computer to run it. The units and map items are large enough so that my old eyes can see them and I can zoom in and out with the scroll wheel. It is IGOUGO so that I can keep up with it. It has details behind the scenes and dice rolls to keep it risky.

It's about as close to SP as you are going to get from Matrix/Slitherine. But you never know. Who would have thought that the guy behind PGF would get to make a commercial game of it.


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RE: My Review - 12/6/2010 2:04:42 PM   
sabre1


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junk2drive:

I still love BA, but (always a but) I wish there was more campaigns that lasted a whole lot longer. Maybe it's just because I played through what was there so fast. I want more, and I want larger operations.

It is a wonderful game, simple, elegant, and you can pick it up even after you haven't played it for awhile.

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RE: My Review - 12/6/2010 2:35:05 PM   
junk2drive


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It's sad that more people don't post what they would like to see in solo battles and that more people don't take the plunge and try designing something themselves.

I did get a request for more multiplayer battles but my skills are limited. I don't want to burn out either.

I am busy with a couple of beta tests and looking for a job too.

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Conflict of Heroes "Most games are like checkers or chess and some have dice and cards involved too. This game plays like checkers but you think like chess and the dice and cards can change everything in real time."

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RE: My Review - 12/6/2010 6:43:23 PM   
diablo1

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: sabre1

junk2drive:

I still love BA, but (always a but) I wish there was more campaigns that lasted a whole lot longer. Maybe it's just because I played through what was there so fast. I want more, and I want larger operations.

It is a wonderful game, simple, elegant, and you can pick it up even after you haven't played it for awhile.


This is what I was afraid of....no replayability. Sounds like it needs a random battle, random campaign generator like Panzer Command which I continue to play and play and play because of this.

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Post #: 29
RE: My Review - 12/6/2010 7:25:28 PM   
junk2drive


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There is a random AI tool. I made a battle and posted it at Slitherine. I'll post a link here. I took one of the bocage maps and clipped out a portion with the tool for that. I put a selection of units for both US and Germany on the map. Using the other tools (which I have written step by step with pictures, How To pdf's) I set it up so the the US player buys his force and the AI randomly buys its force, then the US player gets to deploy his forces within the starting LOS area. It works great and I had to play it several times before I beat it.

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Conflict of Heroes "Most games are like checkers or chess and some have dice and cards involved too. This game plays like checkers but you think like chess and the dice and cards can change everything in real time."

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