Behind the Lines
May 2006

In This Issue

 

A Letter from the Editor

Ah, E3... Time of Booth Babes, dazzling light shows, and three days of 900 decibel music.  I left for E3 on the 9th, I returned on the 12th, and my hearing returns sometime around October.  Every year I talk to people and they say "Gosh I wish I could go to E3."  So today, I dispel the myth- No you don't.  It's loud, its got the epileptic light show from hell, its got tons of people wall to wall complete with body odors.  To make matters worse if you DO go there you're probably working, and if you're working you have a schedule that looks something like mine.  36 meetings in 3 days.  No lunch breaks, no bathroom breaks.  Business at breakfast, business at dinner.  I came home a wreck, mentally and physically exhausted, and when I relay this to some passerby they will pipe up "Oh, E3, I wish I could have gone."  If I am arrested for assault following whatever unfortunate person says that... you now know why.

Sincerely,
Joe Lieberman, Editor
 

Feature: The Releases are Coming!

Holy good golly miss molly.  Due to a number of circumstances way beyond anyone's control, the following months are going to be crazy.  We've got releases galore and not much time to do them in. 

We've got PureSim Baseball 2006, the continuation of our spots line.  PureSim 2006 has got some awesome improvements.  My favorite so far is the new Almanac.  When I was a baseball junkie (At the age of 9 or so) my favorite thing to do was to read over the Almanac.  Now, before you tell me how much of a geek I am/was, I AM a geek, so don't bother.  The point is PureSim now is able to track detailed histories in the Almanac.  Literally able to generate THOUSANDS of pages of your fictional history that you create.  Nostalgic of the famed '2030' Oregon Woodchippers season you played yesterday?  All the stats are right there at your fingertips.

Then, of course, Harpoon 3.  Harpoon is the closest you can get to commanding a naval task force without going through bootcamp.  The engine, as you may know, is so realistic that actual naval military powers use it to train their officers.  Mind you, the military gets a special version, but they probably pay a little more for that luxury.  The biggest key feature in this new game in the Harpoon series is multiplayer.  For the first time Harpoon fanatics can go online and see who's got the biggest strategic guns.  Harpoon 3 may be the last naval warfare game you'll ever need to purchase.

Oh it doesn't end there though.  Conquest of the Aegean is coming along too, real close now.  This is the sequel to Highway to the Reich, and it is destined to live up to its predecessor.  Highway to the Reich is famed for having a wonderful command structure, making what is technically a real time strategy game actually have STRATEGY in it, and moving at a speed even the most stoic wargamer can respond to (plus you can pause the action to put in orders).  If a broad command of many units wandering around the Aegean is you poison, Conquest of the Aegean is your antidote.

If broad command isn't your thing, then Panzer Command: Operation Winter Storm has you covered as well.  This is the best looking wargame since... ever!  It looks sharp, it plays sharp, it is a true 3D wargame.  It is easy enough for beginners with a magnificent AI both on your units and your enemies, and complex enough for veterans when you get down to controlling individual tanks in simultaneous turn based glory.

Coming real soon is The Operational Art of War.  Our very first game with the TalonSoft license.  The original was so well received it is actually difficult to search the internet and find negative things about it.  "Brilliant"  and "incredible simulation" comes up numerous times.

To make it all seem a LITTLE bit crazier... It's all happening THIS SUMMER... So much for going to the beach for the PR guy (me)!

 

Feature #2: Interview with Shaun Sullivan!
 

Please welcome Shaun Sullivan, author of PureSim Baseball 2005 Gold Edition and the newly released PureSim Baseball 2007.  Both great products and incredibly detailed simulations of baseball goodness.  I decided to get Shaun's opinion on the classic game, but unfortunately he didn't have any of those great ballpark hotdogs to go with it!

BTL- Hello Shaun.  I'm sure our readers care about you just as much as they care about your game, so tell us a little bit about yourself.

Shaun- Well, I am a father of four, lover of baseball (and baseball sims).  I own every baseball sim ever released for PC.  I am a die hard Red Sox Fan.  What more is there?

BTL-I like the fact you didn't mention your wife, despite the fact she is cooking dinner in the background.  Don't worry, I won't tell her you love the Sox more than her.  At least you put your kids first!  So you said you owned every baseball Sim.  What was your favorite, other than your own game of course.

Shaun- Hey I love the Sox just as MUCH as I love my wife!  It's complicated!  Ok the answer to your question is Earl Weaver Baseball for Amiga.  1986 or so.  I played that game to death and the game that got me into making my own baseball sim.  I actually hacked the player stats by breaking it open.  I was also really involved with the Front Page community from Dynamix.  We'll give them honorable mention to this question. 

BTL- So not every reader out there is a die hard fan of the game.  What is it about PureSim that will appeal to the Saturday 'game with the kids' fan?

Shaun- PureSim is very approachable, especially since we have the Lahman stats right from the get-go now, packaged with the product.  It only takes three clicks to get going with any time period, ever.  The game can control as little or as much as you want.  So in the end, as long as you know the basics of baseball there's something you can be doing in PureSim.  It's also a great way to get to know the game better.

BTL- So there seem to be a lot of ways you can play the game.  Can you categorize some of the more common ways players can get involved in the PureSim universe?

Shaun- There are the folks that prefer general management.  Managing the team budget, salary caps, sign players, make trades, ect.  These players probably don't sit there and play out every game, but take a much broader scope on managing their team.  There are also those that prefer the strategy of baseball game to game.  When to call a bunt or a pitch out or when to pull a pitcher off the mound.  The strength of the game is it is equally approachable from both perspectives.  There's also the people like me who love both. 

BTL- There's a lot of new stuff in the 2006 version.  What new feature is your favorite?

Shaun- The most exciting feature is the Almanac.  It keeps the entire history, every pitch, every at bat of your virtual career.  Every true baseball gamer loves stats and now PureSim provides incredible detail. 

BTL- Ok lets get to real life stuff.  In your expert opinion, who in real Major League Baseball is going to garner the most press coverage this year?

Shaun- The core rivalries of the northeast are always a good choice for getting a lot of print.  Also Barry Bonds' chase of Hank Aaron's all time homerun record and the controversy around possible steroids.  I simulated this season hundreds of times.  PureSim points to the White Sox as a big power again and the L.A. Dodgers may make a comeback as well and have a shot at the title.  A good point is this game isn't just about replaying history, it is also about predicting the future.

BTL- So are suggesting PureSim could be used to bet on sporting events!?!??  Can you beat the curve on it?  How many millions have you made!?

Shaun- Well I have had that thought, but I have never gone ahead and made a bet based on the results.  I believe PureSim to be incredibly accurate, but any number of random factors in a single game could totally change the outcome.  If I had to bet on a simulated game, I would bet on a PureSim simulation, but I guess I am too stoic.

Disclaimer:  Matrix Games nor PureSim support the use of PureSim Baseball to predict betting on sporting events.  If you happen to win big let us in on it though!

BTL- So what's the biggest appeal of PureSim to Matrix Fans who haven't quite crossed over to baseball?

Shaun- It has gotta be the ability to go back and replay historic events.  You can go back to any time point in history, 1952, 1902, and 2002 and really see if you can alter what happened or see if the PureSim engine lives up to its reputation.

BTL- So speaking of history, what do you think was the most exciting moment in baseball, through all time and so on and some such?

Shaun- Need you even ask!? The Red Sox win the World Series in 2004.  0-3 against Yankees and then they swept four games to win the pennant and defeated the Cardinals 4-0 in the World Series.  An 8 game winning streak at just the right moment... those were the days!

BTL-  Er, those days were only two years ago man.  Sheesh, Red Sox fans are all like this... they get all teary eyed talking about anything that happened in 2004.  Ok, well, I will let Shaun go and revel in his victory.  I can only guess how many times he has replayed the 2004 season in an attempt to duplicate that momentous event.

And so we leave our heroic developer, still retelling the play by play action of the 2004 World Series even though the mic was turned off a long time ago.  Shaun Sullivan is a baseball fan first, game developer and father second, husband a close third (apparently).  We at Matrix Games wouldn't have it any other way.  Find out more on PureSim 2007 at the new website:  www.puresim.com or take a look at it at the Matrix Games site at http://www.matrixgames.com/games/game.asp?gid=329
 

Article: Lazy Gamers

I believe gamers are getting lazier.  Ok, gamers have always been lazy.  Sure my mousing-finger can click 270 times a second, but apparently that isn't "working out" according to my wife.  However, this article isn't about my inability to run marathons.  It's about the GAMES themselves making the population lazy.  Now wait, before I get lynched by people saying "The games don't make us fat," let me explain that isn't what I mean either.  Once upon a time strategy games were the most popular genre.  Not just strategy games, turn based strategy games!  However, as time has gone on the size of the turn based market has fallen considerably.  I postulate the reason for this decline is because strategy games reward hard work.  Strategy games are difficult, that is what makes them fun.  It is fun to overcome adversity by use of your noggin.  As time went on a variety of other 'strategy' genres have been crowned king of sales.  In the mid 90s the RTS genre took flight.  RTSs were pretty lazy about rewarding intelligence and more about rewarding ability to micromanage.  We took a step down the slippery slope of rewarding players for the wrong reasons.  Following the rise of RTSs we saw the MMORPG world sprout and put a death-grip on the industry.  MMOs took this rewarding players for wrong reasons a leap forward.  While RPGs were originally wargames (as we discussed a while back in an article), the MMORPGs didn't reward tactical brilliance at ALL.  They rewarded time spent.  Each generation of gamer has become more lax in requiring skill to succeed.  Imagine what impact that must have on our mentality as a race of humans.

In the tactical era of the 80s- Smart thinking and creative methods delivered successful results.

In the RTS era of the 90s- Micromanagement and trying to control every detail deliver successful results.

In the MMO era of the 2000s- Time spent delivers successful results.

Am I the ONLY person concerned by this?  In the early days of games it taught us a valuable lesson- planning and logical thinking made us successful.  In the RTS era it taught us exactly the OPPOSITE of what a management class will teach you.  In management you learn that you must rely on your team and understand a BROAD SCOPE in order to create success.  Micromanagement leads to failure and usually mental breakdown of the managing body.

And now we teach that the more time you spend the better your rewards are?  Are we suggesting that if I spend twice as long writing this newsletter, but not producing anything extra with that time spent, that I am delivering a better product?  I worry that there is a subconscious rule being taught to gamers that doesn't equate into reality... and I am very glad that I have the mental vigor to work and play wargames, and equally glad my readers do too!
 

Whispers...

What on Earth are all these people talking about?

Rumor:  A little birdie told me that Star Chamber: The Harbinger Saga will be releasing a new card set very soon.  More strategy?  Yikes!

Fremen has a War in the Pacific fan site!  http://www.telefonica.net/web2/witp/en/index.html.  It's a real class act so if you're a WITP fanatic, fan, or hanger-on, be sure to stop by and take a look!

Shaun Sullivan at PureSim, with the help of some beta testers, have come up with a new Career Arc for PureSim Baseball 2007.  Read about it here:
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1121696  

There's also some interesting research on the T-34 being a "hunk of junk".  T-34s play an important role as "things Germans can shoot at" in the upcoming Panzer Command: Operation Winter Storm.  It's very interesting:
http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=1103864
 

Updates

This section provides links to the updates released between the last newsletter and now.  No more having to search for download links; we've got 'em right here!

Flashpoint Germany v. 1.11

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=287

Gary Grigsby's World at War v. 1.20

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=295

Maximum-Football V. 1.0.139

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=301

War in the Pacific V. 1.81

http://www.matrixgames.com/games/downloads.asp?gid=294

 

Coming Soon

Crown of Glory v1.20

Keep an eye on the news page and forums at www.matrixgames.com for information on these two upcoming patches!

 

 

A Parting Shot

You know what I like best about May?  It isn't Cinco De Mayo, but that is a close second.  It's May Day.  Not because it is an adopted Pagan Holiday... in fact I know very little about the Holiday.  It is just fascinating to me that May Day and Mayday (the distress call) sound remarkably similar.  Ok, that segue sucked, but the fact is I was curious if there was a relation between the holiday and the distress call.  Some research in the Wiki universe showed this:

Míaider is the infinitive form of the reflexive verb "help me" within French syntax; however, it isnít used as a stand-alone imperative command. This has led some etymologists to claim that what the convention really meant was an abbreviation of the phrase, "Venez míaider" ("Come help me"). "M'aidez" (which is not gramatically correct either) is considered an acceptable alternative. In both cases, however, mayday must be considered as a rather crude English phonetic representation. It should be also noted that while in English the phrase is only used in distress situation, in French it carries no more sense of urgency than its English translation "help me". What French people in distress actually shout is, "Au secours!".

It further goes on to say, The Mayday callsign was originated in 1923 by Frederick Stanley Mockford (1897-1962). Whilst senior radio officer at Croydon Airport in London, Mockford was asked to think of a word that would indicate distress and would easily be understood by all pilots and ground staff in an emergency. Since much of the traffic at the time was between Croydon and Le Bourget Airport in Paris, he proposed the word "Mayday" from the French m'aidez.

So there you have it.  May Day (May 1st) and Mayday are NOT related.  They didn't name the last words of uncountable pilots after a holiday for the working man.  

Joe Lieberman
Newsletter Editor