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 Post subject: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Wed Jul 09, 2014 5:16 pm 
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I am one of the developers for Western Civilization Software's upcoming release "Brother against Brother 1: The Drawing of the Sword," and wanted to let those of you who might be interested know that we would like to have additional testers -- especially since our game is partly designed with ACWGC in mind as our target audience.

If you are unfamiliar with the project, here is the sub-forum: http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tt.asp?forumid=808
The best screenshots can be found in http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3367636 and http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3585094 and http://www.matrixgames.com/forums/tm.asp?m=3630741 (with this last one being done by one of our testers, and showing a bit of his playing strategy).

Details of the game can be found in that sub-forum, but here are some basics. We plan a series of releases -- the overall number to be determined by how successfully the game sells -- that will each have several battles. The first release, devoted to opening battles, has 1st Bull Run/Manassas, Wilson's Creek, Mill Springs (with the Beech Grove encampment thrown in for kicks), and Williamsburg. The tactical engine is a greatly changed version of the one used for our game "Forge of Freedom," and is based on 75-yard hexes. We have come up with some rather innovative command & control rules that simulate the difficulty of commanding an army of that era: it is not enough to have strong, well-armed units, since one must also get them into position and have them attack at the right time. We also are especially proud of our maps, not only because of their visual appeal, but their level of detail and size (the largest of which will be around 50 square miles). And in the case of Williamsburg, our map is the most extensive and detailed of any map out there (better even than the ones published in books on the battle and campaign). So we think this game will appeal to a lot of you.

We are trying to complete it by the end of August, and need to ramp up the testing in order to reach that goal. So if you think you might like to be involved, please go to this webpage and register: http://matrixgames.com/beta/cnda.asp?gid=505 (I should note that Matrix lets in new testers periodically in groups, and will be doing so in the next few days. So if you register later in the week and don't get in that would be why.) As I like to tell potential testers, everyone can make a contribution, because there are different types of testers: some love to look for historical inaccuracies, some want to find bugs, others focus on game-balance issues and quality of play, etc. We welcome any and all sorts.

If you have any questions about the game I would be happy to respond. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:00 am 
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Couple of questions since I didn't see a design summary:

Is it a Player vs Computer and/or Player vs Player?
Is it turn based or "real" time?
Can it be played by email (PBEM)?

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 2:20 pm 
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Thanks for asking, since I should have said:
We have human-AI and human-human in either hotseat or PBEM form. And it's turn-based.

I should also add that you play the overall commander, rather than, say, a specific division commander.

And I did not note above that the game is set at the regimental level, BUT 1) regiments can be split and 2) in order to keep our OOB's accurate we have independent companies. So there is a good deal of granularity (and in larger battles a hell of a lot of units). We also place an emphasis on the role of generals and officers, so every unit can have up to three command slots, normally colonel/lt. colonel/major -- and thus if a colonel is killed his subordinate takes command. Similarly, brigades/divisions/corp commanders who are killed can be replaced, but in that case the player gets to choose who takes over.

All of which are reasons why I immediately thought of ACWGC when pondering where to go looking for additional testers...


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:00 pm 
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I really like what I see so far. I hope some people from the ACWGC jump in and help with the testing particularly from the perspective of PBEM. There have been a few other games out but they usually drop the ball on effective PBEM. Without PBEM the games usually degenerate into how to fool the AI. I think members of the ACWGC can give you some valuable input in what makes a superior PBEM game.

Unfortunately, I can't help with testing as much as I would like too since I have been writing my own game which will give me some problems signing the non-disclosure agreement. But I think you have nailed it game wise so I look forward to being able to buy it. I don't have the resources WCS has so I hope this is the game I would have done if did have them. Then I could play instead of write code. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 6:14 pm 
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Posts: 50
Location: Italy
hmm
From the graphics the game remember Forge of freedom of 2006..and is not a great result..
Recently are published on Steam two games similars (Ultimate Gettysburg and Battleplan American Civil War) which have better graphics (UG) or more scenarios (BAMW).
Scourge of War recently had a PRODUCt less maneuverability as compared to the TW series and did regret the old series of Sid Mayer or the invincible "From sumter to appomattox".
The real news would make a game on the model of the Total War series, with the chance to move from the general strategic vision on the map to view a tactical battle.
The tactical battle should be allowed to play in real time or PBEM.
For the battle should be given a different weight to solti factors: the type of weapons, morale, strength leader, the shock effect of attacks to the hips, chafing, etc.
For the strategic aspects of industrial production, political and diplomatic choices, human resources.

If you can consider all of these factors, giving it an eye-catching graphics have made a masterpiece.
Good Luck

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:11 pm 
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KWhitehead,
Thanks for your comments. PBEM is the least tested way of playing the game -- in no small part because of a bug that's now gone -- so we especially welcome PBEM-oriented testers. In fact, that's the most crucial aspect of testing at this point, other than testing the new scenarios as they appear.

Asterix75,
Some of what you propose would make this a completely different game (a good game, but a different game), but I can at least report that we do have some of it: to the extent that historical weapons are known, we assign them, with each unit able to have a combination of two weapons types (to reflect the fact that companies were not always armed uniformly, or that artillery batteries sometimes had mixed guns); morale is a crucial factor in determining the outcome; leaders have ratings (historically accurate when possible) in Leadership, Tactics, Command and Initiative, plus Cavalry and Artillery for those leading such units. Our game's inspiration is more on boardgames like "Across Five Aprils" or Richard Berg's than certain other computer games -- if one likes those classics then there's a good chance BAB will appeal.


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:56 pm 
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Is it build up on former games like "Crown of Glory"?

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2014 11:20 pm 
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Yes and no. "Crown of Glory," our Napoleonic strategic+tactical game, was WCS's first, and we then used that engine for "Forge of Freedom," which likewise is strategic+tactical. "Brother against Brother" is an enormously modified version of that game's tactical engine -- it will be familiar to anyone who has played FOF, but no one who has played FOF will find it the same experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 8:56 am 
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Quote:
Thanks for your comments. PBEM is the least tested way of playing the game -- in no small part because of a bug that's now gone -- so we especially welcome PBEM-oriented testers. In fact, that's the most crucial aspect of testing at this point, other than testing the new scenarios as they appear


I do hope you put the time in to make PBEM work effectively. I consider it critical to any game on the Civil War to be a success. I have numerous Real Time games like Scourge of War and Sid Meir's CW series. Games like these and the Total War series are fun to play against the computer but their tactical handling gets to be a click fest quickly. So they all end up in my CD stack rather than on my computer. While HPS and before it Battleground games are played over and over for the last twenty years. A bit dated now but they can be played by email. They don't require prearranging opponents, blocks of time set aside and setting up servers to make the real time connection that renders them curiosities rather than played games.

PBEM should be worked into the game seamlessly.
It should do the following:

When you mark a game as PBEM it should automatically end each turn letting you know to email the file to your opponent.

It should know whose turn it is and password protect logging into the game as that person.

It should automatically compress the file (and only one file) for emailing. This also eliminates the need for encryption. These files are usually unreadable anyway. Compression will make it sufficient difficult as well and the file will be much smaller for transmitting.

The location of the file should be easy to find. Some games bury it rather deeply. Others let the Microsoft Window's stupid idea of separating Data from Program areas put the file in hard to find places.

And, a turn should be long enough that the number required to complete a game can be completed within one's life time. :)

AGEOD's ACW game is a good example of a game that has PBEM support but does it as an afterthought resulting in a very confusing procedure for completing a email turn.

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:42 pm 
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Well, we'll soon be implementing the e-mail system that Matrix/Slitherine uses for its games these days, which automates just about everything, so I think that addresses your concerns, and that's not really what needs to be tested. When I mention the need to test PBEM it's not the mechanics so much as how the game plays, and balance issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 4:22 pm 
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Any idea on when we will hear back for those of us who have applied?

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 4:43 pm 
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nelmsm,
Thanks for volunteering! It should be sometime this week. WCS has a conference call scheduled with one of the Matrix people for Tuesday, so if there is a delay I will let you know.

All,
In a private message I was just explaining a bit about command & control and fog of war in BAB, and figured I might as well get some extra use from what I wrote, since this will be of interest to some of you. So here's a bit more info about the game:

We decided to make c&c one of our main features. Our system gives generals at each level different responsibilities (the success of which is based on ratings), the chain of command needs to be maintained spatially (i.e., a regiment must be within reach of the brigadier's HQ unit, which must be within reach of the division's HQ unit, etc.). The combination of these means that there is a good deal of uncertainty regarding whether one's plans will be executed properly: as with the Civil War itself, bad commanders will have trouble getting the units under them into the proper position at the right time, while the best commanders will find their plans falling into place more often. In a sense the game is about getting your units into the position from which they can cause maximum damage to the enemy, and this only happens if one works effectively within the c&c rules.

And fog of war is definitely a big part of the game -- areas of the map that one's units can't see are grayed out, and line of sight is very carefully calculated based on elevation and vegetation. So you can only see enemy units in areas that are in view of at least one of your units. Moreover, even when enemy units are visible they are not always identifiable, since if one or more factors are in play then an enemy flag will be shown, but there is no way of knowing if that is a small company or a large regiment.


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 5:05 pm 
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Gil R. wrote:
Well, we'll soon be implementing the e-mail system that Matrix/Slitherine uses for its games these days, which automates just about everything, so I think that addresses your concerns, and that's not really what needs to be tested. When I mention the need to test PBEM it's not the mechanics so much as how the game plays, and balance issues.

If you are just testing game balance that shouldn't create any conflicts with my being a tester so I will add my name to the site. If you are going to do much balance testing by August you will need some people who can do fast turn around.

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Last edited by KWhitehead on Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:56 pm 
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Testers for Overland understood that the game engine "is what it is" and the need was for testing balance and also accuracy and spelling in oobs, maps and pdts. If testers understand what the needs are, it can be a very rewarding experience.
John Ferry
Overland co-designer


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 Post subject: Re: Testers needed for "Brother against Brother"
PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2014 1:02 am 
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At this point we can't really make too many changes to the game itself, so most about testing really is scenario-related (with user interface also being something on which we can still use feedback, as well as tweaking rules). Features are pretty much set, especially since experience shows that making feature-related changes can cause delays, especially with the introduction of new bugs. However, if an idea is a good one we will save it for later: BAB is going to be a series, after all. So while new testers might not get to help mold the game right away, they can certainly have an impact via features patches and/or changes made for BAB#2 and beyond.


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