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A little quiet round here...?

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  • John Ludlow
    We ve had a few newcomers recently, so just so they don t think we re always this quiet, I figured it was time for a topic. Has anyone been playing MOO3? I ve
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 10, 2003
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      We've had a few newcomers recently, so just so they
      don't think we're always this quiet, I figured it was
      time for a topic.

      Has anyone been playing MOO3? I've been playing it a
      bit. Everyone's going on about the AI, and
      admittedly, the AI is a little flaky, but I think
      there are deeper issues.

      The big one that smacks me round the face like a wet
      kipper is the way you handle units. They've clearly
      attempted to bring some manageability and a little
      realism into the game with military units.

      This is how it works. Whenever you build a unit, it
      goes into a central 'pool'. You can create 'task
      forces' from this pool, which you then send off to
      war.

      Ships in this pool are on standing defensive orders,
      and cost less to run. When you recruit them into a
      task force, the cost goes up, but you can move 'em
      around more.

      Simple eh? Well, er, no. It actually just adds
      another step you have to go through, without really
      addressing the problem.

      For example, I decide I want to attack a planet. I
      want a task force. If I don't have one, I go create
      one. To do this I need to find a mobilisation centre
      (a facility on a planet - but you can't tell just by
      looking at the star map or planet screen which planets
      have mobilisation centres). Having found one, I can
      create my task force. Assuming I have the correct
      ships. If not, I need to go into another bit of the
      UI (close the task force creation screen, find a
      planet, produce ships, etc...)

      Keeping all your ships up to date is similarly
      fustrating.

      (Side note - how's Ocean Mars coming, Brandon?)

      I have an idea which I think could help, but it would
      mean breaking the traditional model of warfare in this
      type of game.

      Currently, you have to research the tech for a
      particular unit, design that unit (not in all games,
      but it's increasingly popular, especially in Sci-Fi
      games. Not a bad thing, as long as the player doesn't
      have to spend the entire game there), build it, then
      you can use it in a campaign. Repeat until done.

      My idea is to swap this around. You know what you
      want to achieve. You don't want to be bothered with
      details like whether your marines have Type 1 or Type
      2 lasers. So you select the planet (or city, region,
      etc, depending on type/setting of game) and select
      'attack'. this might bring up several more options
      (like bombard, invade, etc...) for the type of attack.

      Then a screen comes up telling you what the govenor
      plans to do to achieve this.

      Of course, the game cannot play itself. So this would
      be a balance between getting the player involved
      without getting him bogged down in boring
      micromanagement.

      Incidentally, the more interactive, player-focused
      approach of Galactic Civilisations (coming out at the
      end of the month) seems interesting.

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    • Dustin Clingman
      Yes it has been quiet around here. :) I should pipe up and say that this year s GDC was pretty cool. Did anyone else manage to go? I don t seem to remember
      Message 2 of 6 , Mar 10, 2003
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        Yes it has been quiet around here. :) I should pipe up and say that this
        year's GDC was pretty cool. Did anyone else manage to go? I don't seem
        to remember meeting anyone from the list.

        Dustin

        --
        Dustin Clingman
        Zeitgeist Games, Inc.
        www.zeitgeistgames.com
      • Brandon J. Van Every
        I couldn t make the GDC. Too pricey for my current means. I did help judge the IGF though... more on that in another post. John, it sounds like from your
        Message 3 of 6 , Mar 10, 2003
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          I couldn't make the GDC. Too pricey for my current means. I did help
          judge the IGF though... more on that in another post.

          John, it sounds like from your comments that MOO3 recognizes the
          management problems that I think are central, tries to do something
          about them, and fails. I'll look at either the demo or the game when I
          have the time, which is certainly not now.

          > (Side note - how's Ocean Mars coming, Brandon?)

          Unfortunately, the need to get some kind of client / cash flow going has
          completely pre-empted all work on Ocean Mars game design. I finished my
          planetary terrain definition a month ago and haven't been able to do a
          darned thing with it. Instead, I've been worrying about 3D performance
          and eye candy issues. Things that I absolutely wouldn't / shouldn't
          care about as a game designer at this stage of the product cycle, but
          that are critical to convincing other people that I do have skills worth
          paying for. I am reminded of postmortems that said "we lost 6 months
          because we had to do all these marketing materials for publishers and
          trade shows that we didn't plan for." Proportionally, it's the same
          issue.

          You can write code that will survive a 25 year timeline, but you're
          going to get forced into dealing with the latest-greatest ephemeral
          buzzword technology a lot sooner than that....

          I am pretty pleased, however, about the announce at the GDC of all the
          cheap DX9 cards. It means that given my anticipated release date (err,
          don't try to pin me on it :-), I can skip the DX8.1 generation of vertex
          and pixel shaders. Probably go straight to HLSL, and maybe even OpenGL
          will have a stable vertex/pixel shader API by the time I ship.

          If clients + Ocean Mars prove to be yet more of a bog this year, a
          circumstance that seems likely, then I'm going to create an e-commerce
          website and make one or more much, much smaller games. I've seen a
          number of small developers disappear down the black hole of the
          mega-project, and I've seen how their business strategy has inevitably
          had to change. I need a marketing pipeline, and a marginal revenue
          pipeline would be nice too. Something I can drop Ocean Mars into once
          I'm ready for public tests. I do not want to Build It and then wait for
          them to come.

          From a "small game" standpoint, I was totally impressed by "Strange
          Adventures In Infinite Space," an IGF finalist. It was not a terribly
          original game, it simply distilled the Space Opera ship trader genre
          down to 20 minutes of pure crack! It was exceedingly well executed and
          my pick for the Technical Excellence award. Please go to
          http://digital-eel.com/sais/files.htm and lose your life. :-)

          This game, plus judging the IGF in general, plus interviewing at Cat
          Daddy Games, really has me thinking about games that are Small. Cat
          Daddy is a "mill" that wittingly produces second-rate titles for
          Activision, a lot of "Tycoon" games for instance. But, they only spend
          $100K on a title, and only 5 people work on it for 4 months. They'll
          make maybe 8 games in a year. At least 2 will suck rocks, like the
          excreable "Gladiators Of Rome" that I doubt you can even find a trace of
          anymore, other than horrible reviews. But the other 6 or so will show
          profit, and are conspiciously present in mainstream retail channels like
          WalMart, BestBuy, Fred Meyer, and Office Depot. They have a solid
          business model and say they don't crunch much at all. They take aim at
          what they're doing and then they do it. They seem quite the antidote to
          the AAA Postmortem Hell we're always reading about.

          So, considering how good I think Strange Adventures is, and how little
          work it is compared to Ocean Mars, I see an obvious plan. Make a small
          game, make it excellent, try to sell it. It may not make money, but
          it's bound to help market something bigger later. I also think I can
          produce much more innovative / avant garde titles than Strange
          Adventures or Cat Daddy, there's no reason that I personally have to be
          safe or conservative about what I make.


          Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
          Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

          20% of the world is real.
          80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
        • John Ludlow
          ... Yeah, that s pretty much it. They ve thought we have this problem, how re we gonna solve it? In this case, they got it wrong. Personally, I think this
          Message 4 of 6 , Mar 11, 2003
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            > John, it sounds like from your comments that MOO3
            > recognizes the
            > management problems that I think are central, tries
            > to do something
            > about them, and fails. I'll look at either the demo
            > or the game when I
            > have the time, which is certainly not now.
            Yeah, that's pretty much it. They've thought 'we have
            this problem, how're we gonna solve it?' In this
            case, they got it wrong. Personally, I think this
            could have been solved with a few dry-runs. But there
            is a lesson to be learnt here, I think

            > > (Side note - how's Ocean Mars coming, Brandon?)
            >
            > Unfortunately, the need to get some kind of client /
            > cash flow going has
            > completely pre-empted all work on Ocean Mars game
            > design. I finished my
            > planetary terrain definition a month ago and haven't
            > been able to do a
            > darned thing with it.
            That's a shame. It sounded quite good. Something to
            be shelved for a later date, perhaps?

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          • Brandon J. Van Every
            ... I haven t given up, but I m definitely being interrupted in a big way. I don t expect to recover in any serious way until the fall. Right now I m trying
            Message 5 of 6 , Mar 11, 2003
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              > > Unfortunately, the need to get some kind of client /
              > > cash flow going has
              > > completely pre-empted all work on Ocean Mars game
              > > design. I finished my
              > > planetary terrain definition a month ago and haven't
              > > been able to do a
              > > darned thing with it.
              >
              > That's a shame. It sounded quite good. Something to
              > be shelved for a later date, perhaps?

              I haven't given up, but I'm definitely being interrupted in a big way.
              I don't expect to recover in any serious way until the fall. Right now
              I'm trying to do the last I possibly can before, inevitably, I have to
              concern myself mainly with some client's problems for awhile.


              Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
              Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA

              20% of the world is real.
              80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
            • John Ludlow
              Good to know it s not completely dead. ... __________________________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Web Hosting - establish your business
              Message 6 of 6 , Mar 11, 2003
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                Good to know it's not completely dead.

                --- "Brandon J. Van Every" <vanevery@...>
                wrote:
                > > > Unfortunately, the need to get some kind of
                > client /
                > > > cash flow going has
                > > > completely pre-empted all work on Ocean Mars
                > game
                > > > design. I finished my
                > > > planetary terrain definition a month ago and
                > haven't
                > > > been able to do a
                > > > darned thing with it.
                > >
                > > That's a shame. It sounded quite good. Something
                > to
                > > be shelved for a later date, perhaps?
                >
                > I haven't given up, but I'm definitely being
                > interrupted in a big way.
                > I don't expect to recover in any serious way until
                > the fall. Right now
                > I'm trying to do the last I possibly can before,
                > inevitably, I have to
                > concern myself mainly with some client's problems
                > for awhile.
                >
                >
                > Cheers, www.3DProgrammer.com
                > Brandon Van Every Seattle, WA
                >
                > 20% of the world is real.
                > 80% is gobbledygook we make up inside our own heads.
                >
                >
                >
                > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gamedesign-l/
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
                > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                >
                >


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