From: Living in the fair city of Melbourne, Australia
Hey. Never played WITE, I'm afraid. Can't get my head around those hexes. Maps don't look like that in real life, so why should they in games?
And maps don't quite look as the real thing, do they? :-) Abstractions are Ok, as long as they're useful. In this context that means "makes for an enjoyable, engaging and interesting experience".
Plus, do you not get carpal tunnel syndrome playing WITE - all that pointing and clicking, nothing handled by AI staff etc? It would hurt my wrist. I'm not joking either.
The "carpal tunnel syndrome" thing is a bit of an exaggeration, but still isn't either far off the mark Indeed, it can be an extenuating - mentally especially - experience. You've got to do a lot of computation in your head. It tends to feel like work: you might need from time to time to get up and take a short walk, have some coffee, smoke a cig and then get back to it. However, it's also very engaging, time flies while doing your turns.
I used to love games like CMBF (and Shock Force, before that) until I got sick of the lack of AI and all the pointing and clicking. I shouldn't need to have to EXACTLY position a tank in EXACTLY the right place to make sure it can get through mud/squeeze through a hedge/cross an obstacle without exposing itself/line up for a shot/whatever, because I haven't a clue how muddy it is down there, what the EXACT LOS is etc. The driver of the tank (the AI driver) should be able to handle all this - I should just have to say 'Attack this', or 'Cover this' etc - the AI should handle the rest. But with CMBF it's all about getting your pointing and clicking EXACTLY right (and other things too, of course, but if you get your pointing and clicking wrong you're stuffed...). This isn't an answer about WITE, I realise, but there are similarities in that very little - as I understand it - is handled without your EXACT input in WITE, and that would drive me mad just the same. But this is roughly the answer you're going to get in here, of course, as it's the BFTB forum. I wonder what they say about WITE in that forum - I shall have to look.
I also play some CM:SF and CM:BN. And you're very right in that about at the end of the day, CM:BN and WitE giving a similar feeling. My major gripe about Battlefront is their incapability to really improve the UI in their games, either by providing slick mechanisms to coordinate your forces (as in Frozen Synapse, for instance, where you can make commands to be tied to another unit completing their assigned task), or by giving the player some AI staff that's able to do a decent job with little supervision.
Or you could tell me why it's so great?
Maybe, beyond all the AI considerations etc, it just comes down to what scale you prefer to play? BFTB is small scale, compared to WITE, I think. No?
The scale is indeed one of the biggest differences: you get to look and manipulate at a very different picture. Actually, if you check most of narratives out there of WW2, 90% of them fit very well the scale WitE depicts, hence the popularity of operational wargames at the division level, with time coming in week/half-week intervals and maps abstracted at the 5-10 mile per hex.
Command Ops (and previous Panther titles) allowed you too look into fine-grained fabric of war, by having continuous - or rather high-fidelity - renditions of time and space. There are very few books that describe things at this level, basically they're usually "professional" books, i.e. edited by armed forces educational and research institutions. Hence, the lower popularity of these games (who hasn't read here Enemy At The Gates? who has read Glantz's studies on Soviet operational warfare?).
Regarding the AI in WitE... well, it's not even playing in the same league as that of Command Ops. To put a footy analogy: it's a bit like comparing Manchester United or Chelsea with Merthyr Town F. C. However, WitE AI provides an enjoyable challenge to those who haven't the time - or the inclination - to look for a human opponent.
There's some people who do indeed think that playing Command Ops is like "watching TV". While I sort of understand this feeling, I think it says more about how narrowminded can be people than anything else. I've played a lot of computer and traditional table wargames. I've seen dozens of different systems trying to portray what Command Ops does in a faithful manner. And I must say that it's Command Ops the game that gets the most of it right. And it also teaches you a few thing. There very little games that not only are enjoyable, but also educational.
This is something which is not really appreciated nowadays: most people approach games thinking they have to win them by sort of default, so game mechanics get dumbed down (sorry, "streamlined") etc. I'd say that most games out there are much more like watching random TV soap operas and reality-shows than Command Ops. With Command Ops you can actually learn something about how war is waged. It's very much like limiting yourself to watch those excellent BBC documentaries and the odd HBO show, ignoring the rest of dross.
And here we touch the only aspect where WitE works very well, the asynchronous nature of MP play. BftB MP play works fine, but it's exclusively synchronous - it requires people to be on-line together to play the game. This is not a problem for in itself, provided there's plenty of people around so it's easy to get games going on your same TZ. Asynchronous means you can get opponents across the world, with ease.
Command Ops is niche - it's not Civilization IV! - so we lack the critical mass of players for MP to explode. On the mean time, having some sort of asynchronous MP mechanism I think would help a lot (think of CMx2 - reluctantly added - WEGO system). However, I also think Command Ops would lose part of its spirit - Assess, Plan, React - in that format.
< Message edited by Bletchley_Geek -- 1/12/2012 11:46:57 AM >