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Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/25/2008 2:18:55 AM   
Bombur

 

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-No, I´m not starting a flame war here, I´m a huge fan of both TOAW series and AT. My interest is to open a debate on what scenarios designed for TOAW could be "translated" to AT, and to what extent these scenarios could be improved by taking advantage of the AT engine, which, from my POV, is superior to that of TOAW in some aspects and inferior in others. Here are the points of interest
1-Terrain
-TOAW models terrain better than AT, it has a lot of extra tiles, each with its own modifiers for movement and combat. However, unlike TOAW, AT allows the edition of new terrains and also the change of terrain properties.
-Conclusion: TOAW wins this one, but AT has the potential to be even better. It will give a lot of work to bring AT to the TOAW level.
2-Movement
-Here AT wins by a large margin. TOAW hasn´t editable movements, and its time space scale is horribly broken. Movement of ships, for instance, goes from 10km/h to 200km/h depending on the hex size and time scale. AT allows far more realistic movement rates, but again, you have to work in the editor to realize the full potential of realistic movement scales.
3-Naval supply and interdiction
-Another point for AT. While TOAW has no functional engine simulating naval supply and interdiction, AT can simulate naval supply at both operational and strategic level. It also can simulate submarine warfare, while TOAW lacks submarines
4-OOB
-TOAW wins, as the game has a much more detailed list of units. Both games have unit editors, but the TOAW one is a third party project that was eventually adapted to the game, while AT has a fully integrated editor. The AT editor is by far more flexible thanks to the use of groups. For instance, in AT I could create a pure interceptor with good combat rating against bombers and poor performance against fighters (like, say the Ki-44 in WWII or the MIG-25 in the 70´s). It would be impossible in the TOAW editor.
Conclusion: Again the stock version of TOAW comes with an advantage, but AT has more potential
5-Strategic bombing
-AT can simulate strategic bombing while TOAW can´t
6-Naval combat
-Both systems are relatively weak, but AT is more editable. The weakness of both system is related to their inability to simulate damage and repair of ships (althought AT seems to allow a better modeling of this feature, I´m not sure). Again AT has subs, with is a good advantage. AT needs a lot of editing to simulate aeronaval warfare, while TOAW seems not to be able to simulate it at all.
7-Air combat
-The highly abstracted air combat in TOAW works pretty well, but one should notice that it was a design choice not to make it very detailed. I like the air combat system of AT, but planes are too effective against land units and work badly against capital ships. Both games had a disadvantage of not taking into account the limits of airfields sizes, making relatively easy for one side to achieve local air superiority by concentrating a lot of planes in the same place. AT model of interception is better than that of TOAW, as in the latter the fighters can intercept frequently at their full range.
8-Production
-TOAW can´t simulate production while AT can
9-Diplomacy and neutrals
-AT can simulate diplomacy and neutrals while TOAW can´t. AT also can have more players than TOAW.
10-Logistics
-For operational scenarios, the rigid TOAW system of fixed points work better. In strategic scenarios, I would take AT system of HQ´s chain network and local production. AT´s supply system is also more editable.
11-Event editor
-I´m not very familiarized with AT event editor. My feeling is that it´s far more flexible than that of TOAW, but also more difficult to master
12-Scenario editor
-The strong point of two games. TOAW has an advantage of the big OOB, with more than 2000 units, which makes scenario edition much easier. To achieve the same level of detail, you will take much more time in the AT editor. That´s an explanation for the relatively small number of historical scenarios built with AT. On the other hand, if one takes full advantage of the better flexibility of AT, it will be possible to built best scenarios than anything done with TOAW
13-Monster scenarios
-TOAW deals with 300x300 hexes maps. AT has no theoretical limits but it seems to that large scenarios are unplayable by the AI (just compare Ostfront with Fire in the East). This erodes one of the biggest advantage of TOAW, compared with AT.

My conclusion: As a finished product, with 10 years of development, TOAW is better than AT as far operational warfare is of concern. It lags behind AT in the ability to create strategic scenarios. Using the extraordinary flexibility of AT editor, it would be possible to create far batter scenarios than TOAW in every aspect but it would take too much time to the designers (I personally have the feeling that AT could simulate the entire WWII even better than the upcoming WiF)
Post #: 1
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/25/2008 2:03:36 PM   
JMass


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
My conclusion: As a finished product, with 10 years of development, TOAW is better than AT as far operational warfare is of concern. It lags behind AT in the ability to create strategic scenarios. Using the extraordinary flexibility of AT editor, it would be possible to create far batter scenarios than TOAW in every aspect but it would take too much time to the designers


I agree and I think that with AT the Gamers OCS games like "Enemy at the Gates" http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/6203 could be translated better than using TOAW because AT simulates supply very better.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
(I personally have the feeling that AT could simulate the entire WWII even better than the upcoming WiF)


And far better than WW2:RtV...

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(in reply to Bombur)
Post #: 2
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/25/2008 5:26:39 PM   
Widell


Posts: 913
Joined: 4/27/2005
From: Trollhättan, Sweden
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
1-Terrain
-TOAW models terrain better than AT, it has a lot of extra tiles, each with its own modifiers for movement and combat. However, unlike TOAW, AT allows the edition of new terrains and also the change of terrain properties.
-Conclusion: TOAW wins this one, but AT has the potential to be even better. It will give a lot of work to bring AT to the TOAW level.

Fully agree, and I hope this can be improved in future updates of AT. For example, roads should be possible to model in different flavours. One idea might be to collect all the new terrain mods in one download so it can easily be included in the vanilla AT in future releases?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
3-Naval supply and interdiction
-Another point for AT. While TOAW has no functional engine simulating naval supply and interdiction, AT can simulate naval supply at both operational and strategic level. It also can simulate submarine warfare, while TOAW lacks submarines

Another complete agreement. Of course the AT naval model can be very much improved...

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
4-OOB
-TOAW wins, as the game has a much more detailed list of units. Both games have unit editors, but the TOAW one is a third party project that was eventually adapted to the game, while AT has a fully integrated editor. The AT editor is by far more flexible thanks to the use of groups. For instance, in AT I could create a pure interceptor with good combat rating against bombers and poor performance against fighters (like, say the Ki-44 in WWII or the MIG-25 in the 70´s). It would be impossible in the TOAW editor.
Conclusion: Again the stock version of TOAW comes with an advantage, but AT has more potential

This is an area in which TOAW was always in the lead given all the work that has gone in to the equipment database(s) over the years as well as in the original release. I would strongly recommend that a team is put in place to build at least a basic WWII equipment specific database with a reasonable tech tree to go with it. This should be part of the stock version of AT IMHO.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
6-Naval combat
-Both systems are relatively weak, but AT is more editable. The weakness of both system is related to their inability to simulate damage and repair of ships (althought AT seems to allow a better modeling of this feature, I´m not sure). Again AT has subs, with is a good advantage. AT needs a lot of editing to simulate aeronaval warfare, while TOAW seems not to be able to simulate it at all.

Yes, TOAW was never intended to simulate naval action, and the manual recommends it is abstracted in scenarios, i.e using events rather than fighting it out so to speak. I also think a game like AT at least should have an option to have locations with ship repair ability, and that the ship SF_Type should have a way to deal with damage. This may be an option in the scenario as it is very much related to the scale of the scenario. If I'm playing WAW, naval action can probably be more abstracted as compared to playing a Pac War scenario.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
7-Air combat
-The highly abstracted air combat in TOAW works pretty well, but one should notice that it was a design choice not to make it very detailed. I like the air combat system of AT, but planes are too effective against land units and work badly against capital ships. Both games had a disadvantage of not taking into account the limits of airfields sizes, making relatively easy for one side to achieve local air superiority by concentrating a lot of planes in the same place. AT model of interception is better than that of TOAW, as in the latter the fighters can intercept frequently at their full range.

I completely share your views on the over effectiveness of air to ground, and vice versa against ships. I addressed this in my mod of Delyn Locksmith's Third Reich scenario by reducing the kill ratio in air versus ground. Personally I think the changes made sense, so this is possible to fix in the AT editor.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
9-Diplomacy and neutrals
-AT can simulate diplomacy and neutrals while TOAW can´t. AT also can have more players than TOAW.

And wouldn't it be nice to have more diplomacy options for AT? Transiting or basing troops in allied countries for example. BTW, TOAW can simulate the effects of diplomacy with exclusion zones or am I wrong?

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
11-Event editor
-I´m not very familiarized with AT event editor. My feeling is that it´s far more flexible than that of TOAW, but also more difficult to master

AT event editor is superior to TOAW.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
12-Scenario editor
-The strong point of two games. TOAW has an advantage of the big OOB, with more than 2000 units, which makes scenario edition much easier. To achieve the same level of detail, you will take much more time in the AT editor. That´s an explanation for the relatively small number of historical scenarios built with AT. On the other hand, if one takes full advantage of the better flexibility of AT, it will be possible to built best scenarios than anything done with TOAW

Completely agree! This is the major advantage long term for AT.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
13-Monster scenarios
-TOAW deals with 300x300 hexes maps. AT has no theoretical limits but it seems to that large scenarios are unplayable by the AI (just compare Ostfront with Fire in the East). This erodes one of the biggest advantage of TOAW, compared with AT.

On the other hand, AI in TOAW is not the best in multi-front scenarios either. Remember TOAW has a pre-planned AI, so it's to some extent up to the scenario designer.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Bombur
My conclusion: As a finished product, with 10 years of development, TOAW is better than AT as far operational warfare is of concern. It lags behind AT in the ability to create strategic scenarios. Using the extraordinary flexibility of AT editor, it would be possible to create far batter scenarios than TOAW in every aspect but it would take too much time to the designers (I personally have the feeling that AT could simulate the entire WWII even better than the upcoming WiF)


Yes, TOAW has more stuff available and ready to play, but AT is catching up and may/will eventually become a classic as well. Wouldn't compare AT to WiF at this stage as they seem to be very different, but I may be wrong.

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Post #: 3
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/25/2008 5:42:11 PM   
rickier65

 

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I'm also quite a fan of both games. Though I haven't played TOAW in over a year now.

I actually think AT is the better game for grand stratgy. The one problem with AT that I have is the inability to "lock" units in order to enforce TO&E constraints. It makes it difficult to build a historical operational level scenario, that will stay historical for more than a few turns.

On the other hand, the flexibility of the AT scenario editor is incredible. The best I've encountered I think. The map maker, with its revolutionary overlay technique is tops.
And the event editor with the progam functions gives gamers extrodinary control over scenario design.

And of course, I'm still playing AT.

Rick

(in reply to JMass)
Post #: 4
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/25/2008 9:30:48 PM   
Widell


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Joined: 4/27/2005
From: Trollhättan, Sweden
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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rick
I'm also quite a fan of both games. Though I haven't played TOAW in over a year now.

TOAW is indeed one of the classics! I'm hoping to start a PBEM right now on one of the stock scenarios. Just waiting for my opponent to patch and we're off. Incredible given I first installed it 10 years ago as TOAW I and then got Modern Battles and Flashpoint Kosovo the following year. It has not left my computer(s) since then. Simply amazing!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rick
The one problem with AT that I have is the inability to "lock" units in order to enforce TO&E constraints. It makes it difficult to build a historical operational level scenario, that will stay historical for more than a few turns.

This is the classic issue when you create a game that include production and tech development and a flexible C&C structure and give the player control over these areas of the game. It's a matter of preference of the type of game you want to play. Games like TOAW that are more rigid in guiding the player along the path set by the scenario designer are more "historical" in the sense a historical outcome can be expected to occur in a given scenario more frequently compared to a "less controlled" game like AT. OK, in AT you can use events to produce and develop technology if you want the player to stay away from that, or you can let units be produced "by event" as well. At least that will require more work from the player to move stuff between units and "mess with history".

The main drawback with AT is, IMHO, the generic unit types in the stock database. Here TOAW is light years ahead, and AT, again my own opinon, must over time add a WWII database to the stock release.

quote:

ORIGINAL: Rick
On the other hand, the flexibility of the AT scenario editor is incredible. The best I've encountered I think. The map maker, with its revolutionary overlay technique is tops.
And the event editor with the progam functions gives gamers extrodinary control over scenario design.

This is indeed what will, over time, make AT a classic just like TOAW already is!

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Post #: 5
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/26/2008 1:55:30 AM   
Bombur

 

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Adding non generic units to AT would be great. I´m starting to do this with my mod for random maps. But keep in mind that the units must be reedited for scenarios with different space/time scales (TOAW does it automatically, but the result isn´t good). TOAW also has fixed scale. One plane= one plane , one rifle squad= 1 rifle squad. In AT, these settings can change a lot depending on the scenario and again we must do specific edition. Anyway, it´s better to do minor edition than create a full SF list from scratch. Capt Cruft´s Ostfront OOB is a masterpice, btw....

(in reply to Widell)
Post #: 6
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 9/26/2008 11:50:00 AM   
Widell


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Going a little OT with this response, so maybe this can continue in the Mods forum, but would it be a reasonable request to Vic to consider some kind of solution for the future where you would "host" a generic SF list in a file (CVS, XML, whatever) outside AT and then at the time of scenario design, it would be possible to enter some kind of "deviation" factors given and the generic SF list would automatically be translated into at least a first shot at a scenario specific ditto aka saved as a master file...

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Post #: 7
RE: Comparing TOAW with AT - 10/12/2008 4:13:07 AM   
Szilard

 

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There is one area where TOAW wins pretty much hands down: the effort put in over the years to speeding up the AI. I onlyt play these games against the AI & I really only play with scenarios which I tinker for myself. Whenever I put an AT scenario together, it always turns out to be something where the AI takes around 20 min to complete a turn. A similar scale thing in TOAW III would generally play at around 1-5 min per turn, to the extant you can compare apples and oranges.

From glancing thru the AI logs, I'm pretty sure there's a lot which could be done internally in AT to prune search trees, speed up path finding, and so on. Compared to what it actually achieves, the AI seems to look at too much (eg sub-areas geographically way far away) and to take too long (eg in moving units). I wouldn't be surprised if there were also a bunch of easily-trimmed overheads: eg, AT chews up 10-15% of one of my CPUs just sitting waiting for user input during the human term.

(in reply to Widell)
Post #: 8
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