I wanted to express my views about Tigers on the Hunt, but didnít want to rush into it. Iíve left it a good couple of weeks so that I could get a good sense of the game before making my mind up about it.
To give you a little bit of context, Iíll just tell you than Iím a fifty-five year old Englishmen who started wargaming as a child back in the early seventies, and was playing and loving the original Squad Leader shortly after it first came out in the late seventies. I also got involved with computers and computer games early, back in the late seventies, and have been playing computer games ever since.
Like a lot of people, I bought Tigers the day it was released, having been tracking it for some time on the Matrix website, and was eager to get on and try it out. Iíve so far played seventeen of the original scenarios (some several times) and a number of the scenarios provided by other players and have had to overcome the odd technical problem with the interface, particularly one which gave me very little view of the playing area, which was an enormous frustration.
Coming to the game, the first thing Iíd like to address is the price and professionalism of the product. I know there have been some people who have been disappointed with the game and felt that the price warrants a much better polished game.
I can sympathise with that view. If I had paid £40 for a game from EA or Microsoft or any large publisher, and had received this game I would probably want my money back. But that isnít the situation here. This is a game which has been produced by a single developer, working on his own, with no support and, over a long period of time (ten years, was it?) and he has not only managed to produce the game but also get published.
Itís not, as it stands at the moment, a game for the mass market, but for a smaller market of wargamers, particularly those who have a love of Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader. If you ask me whether I think itís worth £40 then I would have to say that depends who you are.
For me, I am happy to spend £40 to support a small developer developing a game that I very much like Ė cheap at twice the price Ė in the hope that the game will continue to be developed and will improve over time. If youíre an eager teenager with limited means and used to the kind of professionalism you get with Call of Duty, I would say not.
This isnít about how many hours Peter has put in, or what he deserves for his effort. Thatís not how the commercial world works. Itís about what people are willing to pay for those efforts, and different people value things differently.
If thereís a fault here, itís with Matrix and their advertising. Nowhere on the product page does it suggest that the game isnít what you might expect with that price tag, and so people might well be buying with entirely reasonable false expectations, and then being disappointed. Not their fault.
The interface has received a great deal of criticism and for good reason. Itís like stepping back twenty or more years. Itís hard to believe that the many failings of the interface werenít flagged up in alpha testing, let alone beta testing, and I can only imagine that they were, but that there wasnít time before final release to sort them out.
One has to hope that this is something Peter is working on and that it will improve over time. The problems arenít just with too much clicking, poor reporting of information, and little concern for the overall user experience, itís also that the game provides so little detail to the user. Itís very difficult to provide effective defensive fire when you have no clue which enemy unit moved and where it moved to. And clicking over and over again on an enemyís rout phase when they have a lot of broken units Ė and I have never once, in all the games Iíve played, managed to interdict an enemy unit in rout. Every attempt (and there must have been hundreds) have been met with some objection as to why I canít interdict the enemy unit. I no longer bother to try.
At the moment, the frustration level is pretty high with the interface, and at times, the frustration overtakes the fun of the game and so I have to stop playing for a while. There is a danger that when the initial excitement of the game wears off a little the frustration level will be too great and Iíll simply stop playing altogether, which would be a great pity.
The game itself, interface aside, is great. The game as it stands at the moment is an excellent modelling of SL/ASL and, frustrations aside, I have enjoyed it very much. The prospect of new features and functionality is exciting, and whatever features might be missing in the game (multi-player availability, multi-level buildings, the ability to target empty hexes with OBA, etc) we can always hope that these might be implemented in the future.
All in all an astonishing achievement for a one man band and I take my hat off to you, Peter, not only in appreciation of the extraordinary effort and skill that must have gone into producing this game, but also in thanks to you for providing me with such a great game for me to play.
Iíd also like to add my thanks to all those many other people who have contributed to the game with mods and scenarios and so on; it is already immensely impressive whatís been created, and I can only imagine that as time goes by the communityís contribution is going to grow richer and richer.