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RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 7:09:51 AM   
Franciscus


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Joined: 12/22/2010
From: Portugal
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quote:

ORIGINAL: morvael

Perhaps the team needs to switch to a game-as-a-service model, charging monthly. Only a steady stream of revenue can guarantee there will be paid professionalsnto do the work of updating the game and the manual for the years to come. To me it's unreasonable to expect the same treatment for a product that you pay only once for. I think some people feel entitled to updates for life (their's, not product's), but if someone makes a living from selling those games (I don't), then I won't blame them when they abandon current product to focus on the new. Until the game was patched by the original team (up to 1.7.11), there was a living manual. Badly written or not, it was at least updated. After creators moved to next project, this one was left in the hands of volunteers. But there was never a volunteer to update the manual. So here were are. I'm too longing for the day when we all move to WitE2 with new shiny manual.


I see your point. But the other side of the coin would be to say that, once a game is no longer supported officially by the devs, but by non-paid volunteers, it should not continue to be sold at the same price...

Regards

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RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 7:10:29 AM   
Laz

 

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I dont understand why the publishing company would not have nor maintain the talent to produce the rules manual etc. and review/revise such online component repository for it's customers. It would make sense to do so, to help improve sales by ensuring quality standards achieve customer satisfaction...happy customers.

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Post #: 32
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 8:02:59 AM   
Stelteck

 

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One thing to consider is that game manual are such a XXème century thing. Maybe this community is a little old .

Instead of elderly () arguing about how manual used to be better 40 year ago, maybe we need to enter in the XXI century.

Now we need online wiki and youtube tutorial video !!!

We do not really need volunteers to keep the manual up to date. We need volunteers to keep the online wiki infrastructure fresh, while everyone could (and do) add information in it and keep it up to date.

We have to move forward.

Ps: And maybe the matrix forum could deserve a technology update too




< Message edited by Stelteck -- 12/1/2017 8:03:34 AM >

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Post #: 33
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 8:16:48 AM   
morvael


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Stelteck, good points. Most games nowadays ship without any manuals, especially on paper.

A live wiki, like this one would be a lot better. Much easier to update, people can contribute (provided mod approves).

Matrix forum indeed has some problems (like with code tags), that could be solved by updating.

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Post #: 34
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 6:44:26 PM   
randallreed

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: morvael
Perhaps the team needs to switch to a game-as-a-service model, charging monthly. Until the game was patched by the original team (up to 1.7.11), there was a living manual. Badly written or not, it was at least updated. After creators moved to next project, this one was left in the hands of volunteers. But there was never a volunteer to update the manual. So here were are. I'm too longing for the day when we all move to WitE2 with new shiny manual.


In my experience, once a game is released, it becomes part of the company's (back list) catalog of products. It does have a sales life (generating income--pure profit) for years to come, but not as great as that initial release period. It has become practice in the computer game industry to release DLCs and expansions periodically to generate income and update the game system. That is an incentive to continue to support the game. What undermines this system, IMHO, is the profusion of amateur mods and DLCs that offer brilliant to terrible quality and no rational scheme to embellish and improve the system. This undermines the ability of professionals to put food on the table by being very good at their chosen profession. If there IS brilliant embellishment material out there, then pay amateurs to perfect it and pay them money for it so that publishers can charge customers for this extra excellent content. That way, there is a positive incentive to keep development under the publisher's roof. (By the same token, I am no fan of "game editors" and similar products paired with game releases because they (a) take time and effort away from the focus on the game about to be released and (b) put a lot of junk out there that may or may not represent a logical, rational, extension of the game as released. Game editors are a strong disincentive to produce tested and endorsed DLCs and expansions under the aegis of the publisher and adds to the "orphan" game effect of which you speak.)

"Subscription" game development and publishing (ie. prepaid sales for games that are not published until sales reach a certain minimum "trigger" target) has been part of the manual war game scene for years and works so long as the publisher has a track record for honesty and dependability. It is a concept worthy of more discussion. Nice post!

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Post #: 35
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/1/2017 11:10:50 PM   
Ridgeway

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: randallreed

quote:

ORIGINAL: Franciscus
If I may add a suggestion:
Please, prepare the manual to be updated as necessary as in the future patches will for sure make the first version obsolete in many parts. At the very least, make available a doc (or Pages ) version...
Best regards

When I was managing 12,000 pages of documentation for the Buffalo MRAP route clearance vehicle, I was enured in the concept and practice of Total Life Cycle Management, TLCM. Simply stated, this means that developers consider the entire life of a product from concept, design, development, manufacture, testing, maintenance, and final disposal, at every step of the product development and maintenance process. Clearly, when considering something as relatively simple as a rule book, there should be plans, processes, and procedures in place to guarantee that a game's rules keep pace with other parts of the product as the game system matures. It is NOT rocket science. The average customer has expectations of getting years of play value from his purchase. If these things are not considered, he is being denied full value for his money.

Nice post. I hope it rings a few bells for the design team working on TWO.


Out of curiosity, what were Avalon Hill's procedures for updating game manuals in a timely manner for every owner? I remember errata being published in The General (at $4.95 per issue or so), but I do not recall ever receiving any personal updates.

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Post #: 36
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/2/2017 12:46:35 AM   
randallreed

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Ridgeway
Out of curiosity, what were Avalon Hill's procedures for updating game manuals in a timely manner for every owner? I remember errata being published in The General (at $4.95 per issue or so), but I do not recall ever receiving any personal updates.

I spent 10 to 15 hours a week personally answering the "nut mail," as it was colloquially known inside the office, and four other staff members spent at least that much time, if not more. We also had a Question Box section in every issue of The General. For new games with " rules issues," we would publish a special feature on the game in the magazine, and then print it up and offer it free to customers send us an SSAE. I know for The Longest Day, which was actually released after I left the company, Bruce Milligan, my ace developer at AH, consolidated questions and put them into a front-and-back single sheet that was inserted into latter-day assembly runs until the first press room update, upon which the rule book was revised to incorporate the Q&A from the errata sheet. At Avalon Hill, we took our obligation to ensure that every player who played our games understood the rules, regardless of whether he was a customer or just the customer's friend from across the street. This was before the days of the internet and online electronic manuals. I imagine that we would have made an effort to create policies and procedures to update the rule book and printed charts and tables in near real time, if it were at all possible. HTH!

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Post #: 37
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/2/2017 1:54:25 AM   
Crackaces


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I just remember the 2st version of rise and decline of the 3rd Reich .. I went through 2 sets of rules from fumbling through 4.1 day’s XYZ but 51.2 says ABC .. I guess a second version cleaned things up ..

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Post #: 38
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/7/2017 5:01:42 PM   
GamesaurusRex


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And,as usual, Moravael has hit the nail on the head here. It really is a matter of what is and is not practical. I can sympathize with most of randallreed's concerns and agree that products sold should be properly documented. However, this game was and remains a "Monster Game", complete with convoluted coding that not even the programmers were certain of at the time of it's writing. Furthermore, years of effort to debug and correct problems with the game model by Moravael, Denniss , and others has morphed the game over time in major ways that made the original (and even revised) manual obsolete. Today, you really have to read through the matrix forum to come anywhere close to understanding the game.

But let's face it... IT'S A GROGNARD HOBBYIST'S GAME... not a government defense contract. In the end, it has been the labor of hobbyists and historians here (tipping my hat to Morvael and many other contributors) that have made this game something other than a majorly frustrating exercise in fantasy.

I also would like to applaude Matrix, Grigsby, and the producers of this fascinating mess for allowing and fostering the involvement of the game community in this evolution. If they had not been open to it, this game would have been dead already.

(Ah... Avalon Hill...The General... SPI... GDW... Now you're making me swoon reminiscent. I actually have a copy of The Longest Day in my closet... still unplayed... oh well. )


< Message edited by GamesaurusRex -- 12/7/2017 5:22:27 PM >

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Post #: 39
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/7/2017 8:39:33 PM   
randallreed

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: GamesaurusRex
...I can sympathize with most of randallreed's concerns and agree that products sold should be properly documented. However, this game was and remains a "Monster Game", complete with convoluted coding that not even the programmers were certain of at the time of it's writing. Furthermore, years of effort to debug and correct problems with the game model by Moravael, Denniss , and others has morphed the game over time in major ways that made the original (and even revised) manual obsolete. Today, you really have to read through the matrix forum to come anywhere close to understanding the game.

But let's face it... IT'S A GROGNARD HOBBYIST'S GAME... not a government defense contract. In the end, it has been the labor of hobbyists and historians...
(Ah... Avalon Hill...The General... SPI... GDW... Now you're making me swoon reminiscent. I actually have a copy of The Longest Day in my closet... still unplayed... oh well. )


Thanks. I suggest you try The Longest Day. You will find that the rules are straightforward and the game play crisp. The only thing that makes that game a monster is the sheer size of the mapboard and the number of counters in play. For WITE,any hassles and complexities with the code have little bearing on what the PLAYER needs to contend with to play the game without expending many hours of study and dedication. If things don't work right in the visual display, or the panzers won't compute correctly when moving over the Prypyat Marshes, then fix it, but all you need to tell the player is, "Its fixed!" There is no need to go into detail on how you corrected the code to make it work the way you originally intended.

The advantage of a computer game is its ability to automate and reduce game complexity for the player. I note that in most computer games I have played, no one spends pages describing how the Artificial Intelligence works. They don't seem interested in it very much except to say, "The AI is really stupid in this game, even on the hardest setting." Why do players not crave information about the AI? Because they do not need it in order the play and enjoy the game (in most cases). Are they interested in the logic built into the AI? Probably, but not to the point that they need pages in the rules covering aspects of the AI.

I am desperately trying to think of an analogy here but the best I can come up with is finding a big old grey blob of a hornet's nest in a tree. In order to avoid being stung, I do not need to know the intricacies of how the nest is constructed on the inside, all I need to know is the location of the hole where all the hornets will come swarming out. If I don't stick my finder in the hole and shake it around, my experience with the outside of the nest should be fairly uneventful. (I said it was lame!) The programming code is there to facilitate the player's task load, not add to it.

When I wrote the game manual for The Longest Day, it was published as a fairly dense 48-page "Rules of Play" document. Of the 48 pages, 14 pages are actual rules, the rest are designer's notes, game variations, a 224-item annotated bibliography, five pages of "job aid"-like summary charts and tables, and five pages of index. To play the first scenario, a player needs to digest less than two pages of rules. Of the 34 pages that are not rules, much of that is filled with interesting data gleaned from my research that can be optionally accessed by any player so inclined. These 34 pages are part of the game manual, but are clearly not part of the rules. I went out of my way to delineate to players what were rules, what were optional variations and embellishments, and what was historical and other data listing my research sources as a courtesy for full academic disclosure.

I believe that the 380-page WITE manual is about the same or even less. As an educated guess, I believe that the essential rules to WITE could be presented in 38 pages or less, using the same typeface, text density, and page layout as the online game manual. Then, create a second document,and let's call it Historical Synopsis and Data. There you can do with it what you will; study it or ignore it or worship it. But sequestering the two categories of information can only help the first-time player.

Likewise, even in beta testing, online rules can be kept reasonably current as major changes are made to the system. But, if the rules are horribly disorganized and poorly written, revising a hot mess is not at all easy. Create a solid, structured, foundation for a set of rules and one will find that the ability to keep pace with revisions or expansions is pretty robust.

GROGNARDS? Well, yes, I guess I still am. But the same can be said of the majority of wargame players, whether manual or computer, right? Play on!




_____________________________

Randall C. Reed
Game Designer, Instructional Designer, Documentation Consultant

(in reply to GamesaurusRex)
Post #: 40
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/8/2017 5:06:37 PM   
HardLuckYetAgain


Posts: 1418
Joined: 2/5/2016
Status: online
quote:

ORIGINAL: randallreed

quote:

ORIGINAL: GamesaurusRex
...I can sympathize with most of randallreed's concerns and agree that products sold should be properly documented. However, this game was and remains a "Monster Game", complete with convoluted coding that not even the programmers were certain of at the time of it's writing. Furthermore, years of effort to debug and correct problems with the game model by Moravael, Denniss , and others has morphed the game over time in major ways that made the original (and even revised) manual obsolete. Today, you really have to read through the matrix forum to come anywhere close to understanding the game.

But let's face it... IT'S A GROGNARD HOBBYIST'S GAME... not a government defense contract. In the end, it has been the labor of hobbyists and historians...
(Ah... Avalon Hill...The General... SPI... GDW... Now you're making me swoon reminiscent. I actually have a copy of The Longest Day in my closet... still unplayed... oh well. )


Thanks. I suggest you try The Longest Day. You will find that the rules are straightforward and the game play crisp. The only thing that makes that game a monster is the sheer size of the mapboard and the number of counters in play. For WITE,any hassles and complexities with the code have little bearing on what the PLAYER needs to contend with to play the game without expending many hours of study and dedication. If things don't work right in the visual display, or the panzers won't compute correctly when moving over the Prypyat Marshes, then fix it, but all you need to tell the player is, "Its fixed!" There is no need to go into detail on how you corrected the code to make it work the way you originally intended.

The advantage of a computer game is its ability to automate and reduce game complexity for the player. I note that in most computer games I have played, no one spends pages describing how the Artificial Intelligence works. They don't seem interested in it very much except to say, "The AI is really stupid in this game, even on the hardest setting." Why do players not crave information about the AI? Because they do not need it in order the play and enjoy the game (in most cases). Are they interested in the logic built into the AI? Probably, but not to the point that they need pages in the rules covering aspects of the AI.

I am desperately trying to think of an analogy here but the best I can come up with is finding a big old grey blob of a hornet's nest in a tree. In order to avoid being stung, I do not need to know the intricacies of how the nest is constructed on the inside, all I need to know is the location of the hole where all the hornets will come swarming out. If I don't stick my finder in the hole and shake it around, my experience with the outside of the nest should be fairly uneventful. (I said it was lame!) The programming code is there to facilitate the player's task load, not add to it.

When I wrote the game manual for The Longest Day, it was published as a fairly dense 48-page "Rules of Play" document. Of the 48 pages, 14 pages are actual rules, the rest are designer's notes, game variations, a 224-item annotated bibliography, five pages of "job aid"-like summary charts and tables, and five pages of index. To play the first scenario, a player needs to digest less than two pages of rules. Of the 34 pages that are not rules, much of that is filled with interesting data gleaned from my research that can be optionally accessed by any player so inclined. These 34 pages are part of the game manual, but are clearly not part of the rules. I went out of my way to delineate to players what were rules, what were optional variations and embellishments, and what was historical and other data listing my research sources as a courtesy for full academic disclosure.

I believe that the 380-page WITE manual is about the same or even less. As an educated guess, I believe that the essential rules to WITE could be presented in 38 pages or less, using the same typeface, text density, and page layout as the online game manual. Then, create a second document,and let's call it Historical Synopsis and Data. There you can do with it what you will; study it or ignore it or worship it. But sequestering the two categories of information can only help the first-time player.

Likewise, even in beta testing, online rules can be kept reasonably current as major changes are made to the system. But, if the rules are horribly disorganized and poorly written, revising a hot mess is not at all easy. Create a solid, structured, foundation for a set of rules and one will find that the ability to keep pace with revisions or expansions is pretty robust.

GROGNARDS? Well, yes, I guess I still am. But the same can be said of the majority of wargame players, whether manual or computer, right? Play on!




What I would like to see is "Longest Day" on computer, yes the game you Designed. Before I go on with this I will say that I bought my first Longest day for $15 that a clerk mismarked at a K&B Toy store. They had other games on a rack in the back of the store and the clerk assumed all the games were $15 bucks. I tried to explain that the game was much higher priced than the $15 bucks but the clerk refused to change the price. I even explained it to the store manager that the game was higher priced but they left it at $15. I had $20 bucks & bought the game(I was a poor kid). (I have other copies now since the original counters are badly worn on the original . But I have to say my favorite counter of all time comes from the Longest Day game. I have always referred to this counter as the, "Food, Drug, and Alcohol Company". See Image attached)

From late 1980 til May of 1984 I pretty much played "Longest Day" full tilt(no space after May of 84 I'm in the Marine Corps after that and you never have any space to play anything other than small things. Hence the first computer games that came out i.e. Gary Grisby Kampfgruppe that I purchased. Didn't need a large area for that in the Barracks). As such I would absolutely LOVE for this game to be done in a computer game and put to practice what you have been referencing here once again :). The Longest Day was one of the best War-games I ever played. But I'm getting to the age where handling counters on a map just isn't my cup of tea any more. Virtual counters are so much easier to push around ;-)




Attachment (1)

< Message edited by HardLuckYetAgain -- 12/8/2017 5:12:09 PM >


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Post #: 41
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/9/2017 6:06:52 AM   
Joel Billings


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From: Santa Rosa, CA
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quote:

ORIGINAL: randallreed

GROGNARDS? Well, yes, I guess I still am. But the same can be said of the majority of wargame players, whether manual or computer, right? Play on!



Actually, I believe there are a lot of computer wargamers that are not grognards. I base this on the fact that Panzer General sold over 250,000 copies at full price, and hundreds of thousands more at reduced costs or part of bundles, and the fact that Steel Panthers sold around 1/2 that. Compare that with the fact that few other SSI wargames sold more than 15,000 copies (Kampfgruppe being one of the few). Clearly those players of operational and monster games like WitE are much more likely to be a grognards so for these kinds of games you're probably right. For the tactical games, or more abstract games, there's a much wider audience. I'm sure this was no different in boardgames where Panzerblitz and Squad Leader were much larger sellers than the early operational games.

As for Longest Day, unfortunately I never got a chance to play it, but it sounds like a great game. I'm sure I would have enjoyed playing it, as well as showing it to my father and uncle since they were both there. I did find an Omaha Beach game that had platoon sized units, and my great joy was being able to show my uncle the several pieces in the game that represented the company he led on D-Day (he was the person that got me into wargaming when he gave Tactics II to my father as a gift). Never got to play the Omaha Beach game, but just looking at the map and pieces was worth the price.

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Post #: 42
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/9/2017 7:17:20 AM   
STEF78


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If it's not a secret data, I would be interested in knowing how many WITE copies were sold.

The game was released 6 years ago and at a high price, but as I already stated, it's my best wargame buy ever! I played between 3500/4000 hours for 80$... that's what I pay monthly for internet access + TV + phone.

It would give a clear idea of the potential market of WITE2 and other games of this type.

The quality, energy, talent of the developpers isn't shown in the price. But when you look at the comments on Steam, most people cannot undertand why it is Worth paying 80$ for a game. Life is unfair for wargame's developpers...





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Post #: 43
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/9/2017 6:03:00 PM   
Joel Billings


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AFAIK, Matrix doesn't give out sales numbers. I only gave out the SSI numbers as I think I already turned over the info I had from the 80s and 90s to the Strong Museum.

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Post #: 44
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/10/2017 1:37:01 AM   
Whyalterhistory?


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I'm an old man now, but in the early 70's I used to go into Avalon Hill on Saturdays. There I saw Randy, Don Greenwood and Tom Shaw and the usual bunch. Best days of my life. Randy was working on 1776 at the time. I have played War in the East almost everyday for the last 6 years. I truly love this game.

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RE: great read over on the steam forum - 12/10/2017 2:02:48 AM   
HardLuckYetAgain


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Whyalterhistory?

I'm an old man now, but in the early 70's I used to go into Avalon Hill on Saturdays. There I saw Randy, Don Greenwood and Tom Shaw and the usual bunch. Best days of my life. Randy was working on 1776 at the time. I have played War in the East almost everyday for the last 6 years. I truly love this game.


You went to the warehouse looking building in Baltimore Maryland? You would come down a slight hill, turn left then the place was on the left. I don't remember all the road names since I'm not from Baltimore I just know I was going down a one way street before getting to the place and people honking at me trying to get to the place back in 82/83 timeframe ;-).


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Post #: 46
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 1/14/2018 8:26:55 AM   
Snowleopard762

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: morvael

Stelteck, good points. Most games nowadays ship without any manuals, especially on paper.

A live wiki, like this one would be a lot better. Much easier to update, people can contribute (provided mod approves).

Matrix forum indeed has some problems (like with code tags), that could be solved by updating.


Both Stelteck and Morvael have neatly shown what must come next.
A wiki + YouTube library is the XXIst Century solution.

There are already players producing these "how to" videos as per the featured video plus extra examples along the right panel- see this link
Examples of How To YouTube videos

Most are campaign videos of 30+ minutes, however, shorter 5 - 10 minute videos are also desirable/possible.
Detailed game mechanics videos featuring "Using Air Staging Bases like a Boss" and "Naval transporting Units like a Pro" will add to the knowledge base and attract more players to the game.

PS. Tried to cut and paste an image in .png format, however jpeg file is required......


< Message edited by Snowleopard762 -- 1/14/2018 8:27:55 AM >

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Post #: 47
RE: great read over on the steam forum - 1/15/2018 4:19:05 AM   
uw06670


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I actually read (most?) of the rules before I bought the game. Daunting yes, but I've always been a rules guy. I found them informative enough to get started pretty well. I read about the changes in updates, but didn't read the forums at all before starting my first game vs. AI. But I think it pretty obvious that the game isn't as approachable as most, or what is ideal.

I've not worked on games much nor defense software, but been in software industry for almost 20 years in testing and management. From a dollars and sense standpoint, and even a software "professionals" stand point, WitE probably never should have been created. Docs aside, the likely modest sales projections (relatively speaking) shear size and complexity precludes enough resources to adequately test it to the level where it is well balanced and doesn't have exploits that break the game in some manner. But to reach that standard, the price would had to have been much higher or the dev cycle never ended prior to ship. Which is why the past few years look like they do. So, would the software world be better without it? Not at all. I didn't start playing until a few years after launch, so can't say what that early first edition experience was like. But the game I've been playing has been enjoyable and engrossing, and worth the money from a time spent stand point, and i've not played nearly as much as most anyone on here regularly.

That is the past though, looks like some good ideas being tossed about on this thread and WitE2 docs should be better for it. As was suggested, a streamlined 'work flow' like brief manual I think would be good. Get the player started with a short scenario. But detail docs should be online and living. I don't like a true wiki where things just change. But having a "current" and "beta" manual would be a good approach i think.

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RE: great read over on the steam forum - 1/17/2018 10:35:17 AM   
postfux

 

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Congratulations for a great manual from someone who recently bought the game and is in the progress of learning the rules.

I got into the game playing the tutorial secenario surprisingly fast thanks to the manual and it still is extremly helpful.

It is very well structured and referenced and has the right amount of information. Seems almost complete without being overwhelming.

Just today I wanted to clarify the rules for committing arty to a battle. I knew there was a special rule, but not much more. Took me about a minute to find and understand. I have now an idea how much SUs to assign to my Corps and am very, very happy I dont know the exact formula of how arty gets commited.

I am not much of a manual reader, but this one is without flattery the best I know of.

(in reply to uw06670)
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