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A work of art in game form

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 8:25 am
by davouthojo
After neglecting urgent work to play this as much as possible over the last 2 days, I have just come up for air after my first Brilliant Victory, and felt inspired to comment.

This game is a work of art.

The art comes from paring away all the unnecessary complexity so that the elegance of the design shines through.

What I particularly admire in the design:
AI. The AI has caught me several times through exploiting a weakness in my line to put half my army out of supply.
Your AI leaves FOG and Panzer Corps in the dirt as a singleplayer challenge.
Specialists. The many unit types in Panzer Corps add complexity, making the game a tactical juggling act with too many variables. Your specialists allow unit variety and customisation while still leaving the base infantry divisions as they were in reality - standard units.
ZOC and front line. Simple rules, yet with great depth. It has taken me many plays, plus looking closely at ComradeP's AARs (many thanks!) to understand the implications.
Supply rules. Executed even more elegantly than in Schwerpunkt's Russo-German War. The choice of where to put the +1 is exactly the sort of "interesting decision" that makes a great strategy game - take the short term benefit to supply my current spearhead, or the other supply source I know I will need for the final push?
Theater assets. Great easy abstract way to handle air power, building supply infrastructure, bridging, partisans, etc. Looking forward to paratroopers and naval bombardment in future releases! (PS/ should weather reduce air strikes?)
User interface/polish. Shames developers with much greater resources.

In my view, this game is much better than Panzer Corps.

Some thoughts for future development. All focused on the UoC experience, since I think the developers should be appropriately cautious before adding bells and whistles to the Mona Lisa:

1) Multiplayer. The puzzle-nature of the scenarios will keep me interested for weeks. To stay played for years, you need multiplayer to work. It won't work in the current setup - too much trouble. Apply the same elegance of design to the multiplayer interface that you have to the game engine and you will have a winner - look to the PBEM functionality as Slitherine on Panzer Corps as a start

2) Community. The strength of community you build will impact whether this game is around for a year or much longer. The game is crying out for a developer/player-supported wiki to help newcomers up the steep learning curve. Needed now to help build the buzz and reduce the numbers of buyers who drop because it is "too hard". Forums are not ideal for this - too many different threads. And you need critical mass in a forum - don't fragment across Matrix and here, pick one or the other to build (and black background is hard to read!). More PR would help too - you need full reviews on Wargamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, Three Moves Ahead etc.

3) Business Model. I am sure your focus currently is on launch. However, I think it is worth sparing a thought now for the future business model. Will it be free updates, with user-contributed additional scenarios, relying on attracting new players into the base game for funding (Minecraft model)? Or a radical alternative, still possible at this stage - move to a low monthly charge with continuous free expansions, incentivizing everyone to support the community (WOW)? I would explore alternatives to the PanzerCorps path, with paid expansions - under this model, funding is guaranteed to taper off as every expansion sells less and less.

4) Format. If you want to be really brave, port this game to android and iPad tablets. Maybe introduce anew generation to the joys of WWII turn based strategy!

Just some ideas, the loving care that went into this game deserves a wider audience.

Re: A work of art in game form

Posted: Fri Dec 09, 2011 9:46 pm
by Tomislav Uzelac
Hi davo,

welcome to the forums. Thanks for the kudos, this is all much appreciated :)

We fully intend to upgrade to proper modern multiplayer for this game (opponent matching, email notifications etc). It would really help us with the development though, if we can get some matches going already. The current system is perfectly usable, just not turbo convenient. Determined players can still play and have fun, and we had a few people doing just that in the beta.

So anyway, the more people play and share their experiences, we can get a better idea of how to structure the multiplayer support for the update. Currently, I think what's going on is precisely what you described: the AI is still keeping everyone busy. Which is good for the moment :)

We're doing what we can wrt/ community etc, but at there's only so many hours in the day. We can set up a wiki easily, but it's no good without someone who will log in daily for the maintenance etc. And we just don't have the time to do that too, I assure you.

Re: PR and reviews, November was really crowded with new game releases and we're kind of last in the queue for reviews. But I'm pretty sure they're coming, and the ones that did come through are really positive so we just need to be patient.

Cheers! :-)

Re: A work of art in game form

Posted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 11:02 am
by davouthojo
After a bit more single player practice, I will certainly give multiplayer a spin and provide feedback.

On a wiki.........It looks like you are visiting this forum every day, would it be so different on a wiki?

You can appoint some semi-official moderators to lighten your load.....I helped contribute to the Field of Glory wiki, which players put together themselves without developer support (although with official approval).

It would be better to be developer supported, but even very light developer support is better than nothing....

Re: A work of art in game form

Posted: Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:03 pm
by Tomislav Uzelac
That wiki for Field of Glory certainly looks impressive. We would certainly support such a community effort from our side. Where do I sign up? :)

Actually, there was a pretty good community response on the "Tips & Tricks" thread initially, but that tapered off. Could be that a forum thread is not a good venue for this type of effort, true.

Anyway, on our side, we could host the wiki, add another subforum for discussions and also contribute both released (the manual) and unreleased (stuff from our internal wiki) content.

If there's interest from the members on this forum, we'll set things up from our side. Let me know guys...

Re: A work of art in game form

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:21 am
by ScottP
I know most of my strategy game buddies have nearly lost their hearing from me talking about Unity of Command to them. My girlfriend even expressed interest in trying it out...which is a big thing since her highest level of technology she owns to play games is a NES.

As for getting the game out there with full reviews, Wargamer did publish a review recently (written by moi :)): ... of-command

All I can say is that I can't seem to keep it off on my latop!

Re: A work of art in game form

Posted: Fri Dec 16, 2011 4:07 pm
by Tomislav Uzelac
Too bad about your friends I say, as long as spreading the word part seems to work for us ;)

The review has been noted and posted up already, many thanks for the kudos! :)