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 Post subject: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 1:50 am 
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Location: USA
I don't suppose that I'll be leaving this club anytime soon of my own volition. (That's not to say that I might be forced out because of my advancing years!) I like it too much! I like it all. I'm an ACW student, always have been. I like the games, which I think are the best out there for their depth, scope, playability and incredible selection. I like the club's structure, durability and resilience. And for the most part, I like the people in it, in both Military Groups. I guess that I can say those things since I've been a member now for the last 15 years. (Funny, but it doesn't seem that long to me!) The ACWGC stands today as a product of itself, having gone through a number of tough times and suffered its own quota of incorrigible individuals bent on forcing everything to their own will. The club has rebounded from these trying experiences on the strength of the good, common sense exhibited by the majority of its members, who time and again have made it known that we ought not to take ourselves too seriously and that we're first and foremost a place for hookup and enjoyment of the games we play.

So I'll ask the question that's been continually on my mind. Can the club become better? And if it can, how?

We see people come and go, a slightly disturbing thing if you think about it. Oh, I know that there will always be those who cannot remain because of illness, family priorities, loss of Internet connectivity, etc. The club expects that will happen on occasion and allows for it with a pretty liberal membership policy. I guess that I'm speaking more of the individuals who take the time to go through the academies, graduate and then simply disappear after a year or two. Their like raindrops on a window, splashing and sticking for a moment and then rolling away. Are they eventually put off by something the club does or doesn't do? Do the academies train and explain to them enough so that they fully understand the environment? Do you think that those guys are insecure in their own expectations, or that they come to feel after their first two or three games woefully inadequate to the competition? Or does the club expect too much of them? What is it that is making them leave? Are we too regimented, or are we too loose? Where's that magic point at which everyone says, "This is great!"?

If you take the time to look at the retired and discharged ranks you will see that the majority of members are at and below the rank of colonel. Is that telling us something?

Our overall numbers seem to be hovering year by year and maybe taking a slight downward track as far as membership is concerned, although I've not lately taken a hard count comparison. It seems as if we take in as many as we lose in a year's time. The club's strength isn't necessarily a reflection of its membership count, but it can certainly signal an upward or downward direction. Right now an upward direction seems more preferable to me. I'd hate to think that for all of my personal enthusiasm that the club might leave me some day!

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General Jos. C. Meyer,
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Commander, Army of the Shenandoah
(2011-2014 UA CoA/GinC)


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 7:45 pm 
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Hi, Joe,

Thanks for your thoughtful post.

I surely hope you are right about club strength, but I am not optimistic.

In the past we have always been blessed with folks willing to volunteer to take on club administration. I'm not sure that is still the case.
It certainly was never the case with me; I just like to play the games.

Sort of like backpacking; I love hiking the trails, but somebody has got to keep them maintained.

Wargaming came of age in my youth, but I don't see that in the upcoming generations. Hope I am wrong.

In the early days of the club your post would have generated a dozen responses by now. Things seemed to have slowed down considerably.

Respectfully,

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 8:33 pm 
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I agree, things have slowed considerably, here as well as the NWC.

Hardly anyone ever comments at either.

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Lt. Gen. C. N. Matthews
Pickett's Infantry Division, I Corps,
Army of Northern Virginia, CSA


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:52 pm 
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There are, at least, 2 times in a week that posts are slow: weekends and Wed. :mrgreen:

There are still many folks that volunteer to fill spots, but even with posts down, games are still being played at a good rate.

Keeping games going is important; keeping the administrative duties to a minimum is important; getting and training new members is important and all those things are going along nicely.

We always need trainers.

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General Ernie Sands
President ACWGC -Sept 2015
Western Theater, Commander, USA
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:53 pm 
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Ernie Sands wrote:
There are, at least, 2 times in a week that posts are slow: weekends and Wed. :mrgreen:

There are still many folks that volunteer to fill spots, but even with posts down, games are still being played at a good rate.

Keeping games going is important; keeping the administrative duties to a minimum is important; getting and training new members is important and all those things are going along nicely.

We always need trainers.


Thanks, Ernie!

That is heartening news indeed.

Didn't know trainers were in demand. I will be backpacking soon, but if you still need a trainer I will be back in October at the latest. For HPS only.

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MG Mike Mihalik
Forrest's Cavalry Corps
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:03 am 
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Gen. Meyer, Sir <Salute>

I think you bring up some great points here, what causes members to lose interest or move on? The club offers some great opportunities to meet members around the world and engage in our hobby but at times things seem to slow down (like now, very little activity on the forum). I think the games in general offer a lot of fun but at some point they being to get bland. Things like the RBC tournament offer some new excitement and meet members from the opposing side. The two things that stand out to me is the Lt. Cup and RBCT. I've meet some really interesting members in those forums that have created a good bond for game play.

The key is today that more and more development is towards RTS games and Turn Base is an older format loved by the true strategic hobbyist. I'm a die-hard strategy gameplayer and love the old board format too, that is why I'm addicted to the HPS, PanzerGeneral, Civ and Matrix style games. They bring back good memories for true hex H2H, direct opponent, game format.

I think for things to evolve with the times, HPS/Matrix/JT games need to incorporate updates or new releases that compete with new and old formats. As the current versions are all the same format, but just different scenario changes, they begin to be the same dry cracker taste after owning one game after the other.

I'm big into game design and have developed a custom battle/game to bring our AotT division in a H2H battle against a full Reb division (10 player matchup). The game play is going great and the guys like the new graphics and game map which added a spice-of-life to our MP match. I've been working on a full GRAND SCENARIO covering the whole ACW with a full size custom map of the civil war. The map and OOB was the toughest part but would be a great play for a MP version to have commander take their Army against their opponents in their region covering the whole war. I wish I could incorporate thinks like Engineering units creating rail lines or have regular unit destroy rail lines or have replenishment of units from a source pool or allowing units to do sea transport with naval support. Little things like those changes would make a great new game to release and stir some more fun. Another thing I wish I could incorporate in the GRAND SCENARIO would be the change of the weather/terrain to match the season. That would be unique too.

I must say that I'm really pleased with the upper command of both armies and how much they offer to the club. They really make it a special place and deserve some recognition for their services.

Just my thoughts,

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BG. Derek Hampel
Cmdr. Second Div., XV Corps
Army of the Tennessee


Last edited by D. Hampel on Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:38 am 
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Location: USA
Unfortunately we are in a downward spiral. Fewer players each year means less demand for new games and to little return if any for game developers. So our games get older and our players too. The Brother Against Brother web site hasn't had but about a dozen posts this year. Everyone is waiting for them to issue a new game but you can be sure they are looking at the lack of activity and wondering if they can afford to even dedicate one developer to doing it. There have been some games out with newer formats and better graphics but they are games that are difficult to play if at all by email which is a necessity for a game club.

Getting more players is the solution but it is a difficult one for a game system created twenty years ago. And, really exited in board form sixty years ago. Not the kind of thing that is going to interest players use to World of Warcraft, EVE and Halo.

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:48 am 
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Posts: 266
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I think that the doubters have strong points. We are a niche group (turn based games) in a niche market (Civil War Games). Two things come to mind-

(1) what is the experience for our members? Are we finding opponents? Are we getting answers to our game mechanics and history questions? Are our members missing something from here they used to get? Are the administrative duties more work than the number of volunteers can comfortably handle? I think, considering our demographic and market issues, answering these questions positively should be a goal.

(2) There have been a fair number of real time and turn based Civil War tactical and strategic games that have come out in the last ten years that never really got traction here (I have no idea what the market for them is)--Grigsby, Ageod, Brother Against Brother, Scourge of War, Ultimate General, etc--are our members playing these games? Did we miss opportunities to meet new gamers by reaching out more to these communities? Is the time and effort to reach out and bring in new people conflict with point 1 above? In other words, if a vast majority of current members do not want to play these new games and are happy with the club, do we add games and complexity to the club to bring in new members who may never play the tiller games? Do we keep our current focus and let the club slowly fade over the next 5 years. Do we aggressively reinvent ourselves? If we want to be aggressive, we should think long and hard about whether it is worth the effort and what we have to offer players of other games that they do not get on the game company forums..

my 2 cents (and I am involved in the administration over at the NWC where we have similar conversations).


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 28, 2016 12:27 am 
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General Meyer, Sir,

As someone that is a recent member to the club, I have found the people, organization, groups, camaraderie, everything very enjoyable! If I did have more time to volunteer, I certainly would (I spend about 3.5 hours in the car M-F...if only I could multitask!)

I agree that the essentially play has to evolve a bit (through updates, new releases, etc, mostly outside of our control), but this will always be a niche group. As someone in sales and marketing to a degree, have we thought about using more social media (facebook, twitter, for example) to get information out? We're not looking for thousands of people to join, but maybe handfuls...from around the world! I don't find the situation a lost cause (pun intended), but more of a challenge in recruiting and name recognition.

My two cents,

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Co. I (Panna Maria Grays), 6th Texas Infantry
5th Brigade, Hindman’s Division (3rd Division)
Stewart's Corps (2nd Corps)
Army of the West (AotW)
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Fri Apr 29, 2016 8:58 am 
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Jim Pfleck wrote:
I think that the doubters have strong points. We are a niche group (turn based games) in a niche market (Civil War Games). Two things come to mind-

(1) what is the experience for our members? Are we finding opponents? Are we getting answers to our game mechanics and history questions? Are our members missing something from here they used to get? Are the administrative duties more work than the number of volunteers can comfortably handle? I think, considering our demographic and market issues, answering these questions positively should be a goal.

(2) There have been a fair number of real time and turn based Civil War tactical and strategic games that have come out in the last ten years that never really got traction here (I have no idea what the market for them is)--Grigsby, Ageod, Brother Against Brother, Scourge of War, Ultimate General, etc--are our members playing these games? Did we miss opportunities to meet new gamers by reaching out more to these communities? Is the time and effort to reach out and bring in new people conflict with point 1 above? In other words, if a vast majority of current members do not want to play these new games and are happy with the club, do we add games and complexity to the club to bring in new members who may never play the tiller games? Do we keep our current focus and let the club slowly fade over the next 5 years. Do we aggressively reinvent ourselves? If we want to be aggressive, we should think long and hard about whether it is worth the effort and what we have to offer players of other games that they do not get on the game company forums..

my 2 cents (and I am involved in the administration over at the NWC where we have similar conversations).


For item 1 I haven't had a problem but I haven't been keeping as many games going as I use too. I do wonder if new members are having a problem getting opponents since older players sometimes get stuck in a rut of playing the same people over and over again.

Item 2 is a more difficult thing to address. While there are a lot of games out there most except the RTS ones have been around for a long time. Most don't handle PBEM very well, either due to length or lack of email support. The only game that I know of that recently came out that is tactical and turn based for PBEM is Brother Against Brother. However, BaB reflects the current state of the CW game market. Not enough money in it to put enough development in the game to make it attract buyers. I have been active in beta testing of BaB and really like the game system but with only one large battle, First Manassas, and three small ones it just doesn't have the replay ability it needs to be a first class game. Not many people as a result have purchased the game which makes the problem worse since the developers aren't willing to put more manpower into the game to make add those battles that would make it a first class game system.

There have been some excellent RTS's like Scourge of War but these don't make good club games. They can't be played at leisure by PBEM. You must set up a real time connection between all players which is very difficult. Also many like the Total War series only play a subset of their game when using multiplayer option.

1. Obviously the best solution to this problem is more players which would create more demand, which would bring in bigger and better game companies with the resources to make first class games. One thing we could do is start a club Facebook group for the ACWGC. We don't want it to be a substitute for the web site but a link back to it.

2. From the club point of view expanding the games supported would hopefully attract more active members. Also, getting some volunteers to start putting out some posts so it isn't weeks between something new showing up on the forums would help. The War College had at one time a number of articles on tactics and specific games that were very interesting but the number of people visiting the site was to low to justify the work. We need to start putting these articles on this forum to help create interest and discussion.

3. We also need to see if their is any way to better integrate Game company sites into our site and/or the "Facebook" site. I am not to sure how to do this but Matrix maintains its own Forums for it's games and it would be nice to somehow include discussion there in our site or at least links to them.

Anyway my three cents worth (inflation). :D

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General Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2016 12:31 pm 
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I think the reason why we see a lot low rank members vanish is due to the fact that the HPS/JTS games(that are the main series played here) are easy to play but hard to master, especially if your not up to a serious analysis of the game. I had to read the manual 2 times and made some sheets to collect important things that have to be understood or else I would have always fought with one arm tied behind my back.
So if those players don't overcome this initial "barrier" it's likely that they sooner or later drop out if they don't really understand the way these games have to be played.


Now what could be done better, I my eyes a bit more connection of the games and the history behind it would do it.
If we would open a feedback section for each game that allows members to post all kinds of things from simply feedback to a scenario to questions about historical facts regarding a scenario I would think that this could lead to interesting discussions, especially if the scenario designers would join in.
In my current game(Bull Run) some things came up and I will surely post about them, all this can bring a bit attention to the scenario and the historical battle and with that it can make some interesting discussion that could raise the attention to the board and activity on the board.

Besides that, adding other CW games would be good too, "Civil War 2" and "Brother Against Brother" and the Scourge of War series are some examples of games that should be added.
I don't see a reason to confine the games played here to PBEM capable games, things like the Scourge of War series could add a different way of gaming to the club that is surely a nice change from the usual PBEM gaming.
All the various game types, be it battle PBEM games like HPS/JTS or strategy games like Civil War from AGEOD or RTS like the Scourge of War series would simply broaden the entry points for the club and could potentially have a positive effect on each other.

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Corps Commander V Corps, Army of the Potomac
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2016 6:28 am 
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I've enjoyed all the Multi Player Games games that I have been involved with. I believe they should be at the heart of the Club and need organising and promoting as a priority - just don't ask me to or initiate (not what I am good at).

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1/2/III
Army of Northern Virginia

"He walked with long, ungraceful strides, enormous feet adding to the spectacle, and he sat a horse as if leaning into a strong wind."

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 11:05 am 
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Posts: 108
Location: Sweden
Gents,

looking back in the mirror - I joined in 1999 or so - I can surely see some big differences compared to then.

Firstly, we have a totally new PC technological level, allowing for more "action games" and release of adrenalin, which is what most young people are looking for. In 1999, a 56k modem was state of the art and online RTS play not really possible. Further, the role playing style discussions in the forums has changed dramatically since then. Now a challenge is more like "Need Yank for BG game" and that's it. Sounds more like I am out of milk and need a bottle for breakfast... Back in 1990's and early 2000's, challenges were dramatic and lively, encouraging bantering and dialogues.

Secondly, what I personally miss today is the possible "chase" for challenges, trophies or whatever we want to call it. A new joiner will advance through the ranks pretty quickly, but then, about the LtCol-Col rank, all that stops. You play and play and you don't really see any promotions etc, unless you go into club admin.

Thirdly, the graphics for the HPS/ JTS (3D) are so outright boring and at 1990 level that simply don't appeal to many nowadays. I play those games in 2 D but the graphics in BG series is much more appealing. JTS/ HPS games with BG graphics would help a lot but I doubt any designer will put any effort into doing that.

Fourthly, the club admin is not very appealing. Most of us older chaps have much more hectic days today than we had 15+ years back, due to the way society and work life is. We want to relax and play, not bother with similar Excel sheets we do at work every day..

So what to do about all this...?
I am a total PC idiot, so I cannot do much to tweaking or modding any games, but I would like to see a different promotion system, where you basically start as a private in a selected regiment, then earn your promotions more regularly/ often if you play "normal length" games. You could have a system with a webpage where you have a uniform jacket and as you earn rank, you get stripes and epaulettes etc displayed on it. Same with some medals.

Instead of starting as a Lt, commanding a brigade, you start as a private in a regiment and then becomes a corporal, in charge of a squad and then a sergeant for a platoon etc. Organizing the club sides like that might reduce the number of required admin personnel maybe - having less armies and just a few selected regiments in one corps or so.
Distinguished service could result in transfer from a militia regiment to a regular unit and then to a sharpshooter unit (for infantry soldiers), and similar developments if you choose arty or cav instead of infantry.

Maybe a single (and alternatively MP as well) player campaign where you fight the ACW (selected scenarios from 1861 - 1865) and in the end your final result will see you as having participated in winning or losing the entire war. You still play it like we do today but each player could be pursuing his own campaign. (e.g. I play my first ACW campaign game and I chose Bull Run. For me it counts in the final ACW statistics. My opponent has already played this one and had it recorded so for him it doesn't count as an ACW campaign game, but is recorded as a normal game)

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Gen. Lars W
Army of the Cumberland
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:38 pm 
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Now there is a name I haven't heard in quite awhile!

Good to hear from you, General Wister! Brings back memories of the good old days.

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Forrest's Cavalry Corps
AoWest/CSA


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:14 am 
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Gen. Wister you gave some good ideas. Some though require a lot more commitment and technical savvy than people here are willing to commit.

Your time line is a little off. The MMORPG acronym was coined in 1995 at E3. It was followed by the release of Ultima Online in Sept of 1997 and we lost a generation plus all future generations to the new game gentry.

My son's Uncle introduce him to Ultima about that time, curse him. And, with that his grades and interest in just about anything outside of MMORPG's when down the tubes. To those growing up on MMORPG's and games for PS and Xbox, what we do is close to watching grass grow. My son occasionally walks by and laughs at me pushing little computerized cardboard chips around on a screen. But then he is 27, at home still, and trying to get a degree on the GI bill before he ends up on Social Security.

Our problem of course is numbers. We not only need more players but we need to show growth in those interested in playing these sort of games. Then developers would start taking notice and game companies would start investing in newer state of the art games. But its going to be a hard sell to a younger generation raised on non stop action in their games.

I fear we are in a Catch 22. To get games with better graphics and systems we need more players. To get more players we need better games. :(

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Chatham Grays
AoT II/1/3 (CSA)


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