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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 04, 2016 4:17 pm 
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From what I have heard, MOST of the HPS/JTS (and others) style of strategy games are BOUGHT for SOLO play. That is a tough market to get into the PBEM fold. As the AI gets better in this genre, that keeps the SOLO players happy.

So, HOW do we tap that large market of people?

Social media, making sure we are prominent on searches, word-of-mouth, publicity; can we throw some $$$$$$ into the mix to generate more exposure into the fray??

I wish I had an answer. :roll: :wink: :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:35 am 
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Frankly, when designing Overland, I never had an inkling that vibrant, active clubs and forums existed, just to PBEM these games, even though some of my testers were active in the forums. Never mentioned as far as I can recall. So, yes that indicates that we could do a better job of getting the word out. There are many guys who sit at their computers and play the AI, which needs to get a LOT better. I mainly got into HPS because of the potential for game design. So there is another niche.
John Ferry
Col 2/20th Army Corps


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 8:54 am 
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Hard to believe most players are playing the AI. HPS has one of the worse AI's in their games I have ever seen. AI seems to be added to these games as an after thought. Maybe we need to find a way to reach out to those playing the game that way and tell them there is a better way to play the games. Although we would have to find some way to make sure these type players are not matched up against better players so they won't get discouraged.

Playing the AI gives players some really bad habits. I can usually spot a player who has mainly played the AI within a few turns. They get use to the other side always doing the same thing and using very poor tactics. It isn't hard to beat an opponent who attacks with wagons and limbered artillery.

So far it is a problem with all these type games (computerized board games). I have been playing Bulge'44 against the AI as the allies just to see how it plays. I just got attacked on one flank by supply wagons. Who can lose against an AI that attacks with supply wagons?

I am not sure how we can reach out to those who aren't playing these games by PBEM but once a new player does join the club we do need to identify their experience level and see if we can match them to equal players. Our current rating system mostly reflects how long and how active the players are in the club. Not their experience level. When I and my brother joined the club we had both been playing these games for years against each other. If matched against players who just bought the game or had always played the AI we destroyed them. Which probably cost the club some members.

Coming up with an experience rating isn't easy. Win/Loss ratios don't really tell the story since it depends on what scenarios you are playing. Maybe we should implement a self rating system just so newbies will have some idea who they are taking on. Another idea is to identify some scenarios that are very one sided and let new players start on the easy side of them until they show they can win. The game also has a slider for balancing the game. It is very difficult to use since it isn't calibrated but it would allow the club to assign a balance factor to new players until they start winning regular. Maybe HPS/JS could change the slider to a numeric value so it would be easier to use and assign.

Also, it would help if HPS/JS would push the PBEM clubs a little better in their games.

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2016 9:36 am 
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I don't think AI is an afterthought. I just don't think JT has put much, if any, of his limited programming time into improving it.
When I was a Fort Benning there was an interesting way that the students were rated. By their peers. Each student was rated weekly by the 15 other members of their group, from one (cretin) to 15 (super soldier) and the results were posted each week. Maybe our commanders and staff could come up with a way to do that on the forum, perhaps using the "A" thru "E" rating of the games--and somehow make it anonymous, probably. Self rating is sure to come up with some "inflated" scores.
John Ferry
Col 2/20th AC


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 5:28 am 
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Ernie's information probably comes from the company; I know for a fact that I have heard that exact same thing from Rich Hamilton when testing, as well as when providing guidelines for designing scenarios (not as a hobby).

The issue is that the engines were not ever designed for the scope that they can portray - that is something that the Scenario Designers pushed things to. It can do some things well, but as a scenario designer you have to set things up towards it's strong suit. One of which is definitely not water crossing scenarios :) don't ask - but it is what it is... as a designer you have to work around that sort of thing.

Another can be selecting the proper formation (and if you have more formations to choose from - then ... well you can have more problems from one engine to another. ).

Personally I think they push them pretty well -or put another way, I get jack for having clubs listed on the SDC site -and if I didn't feel like I owed it to Rich -I would dump that area in the blink of an eye without a second thought. I think the entire 'secret squirrel' our side's tactics need to be protected ... etc does nothing at all for game play and is a layer of competitiveness that is not really all that topically conducive to covering the titles.

Or put another way -when in a club a person would cop faecal matter when writing up comparative strategies for all sides in a scenario -so my own opinion is, say if a lot of guys are not PBEM - and talking about the entire topic -and play, strategies, objectives and all that is not taken on as a whole - then it follows that I have no idea why a person, maybe not into PBEM would look for a club, because they might not see that a club has anything to offer them. Something to think about, but I don't actually claim to know the answer.

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:38 am 
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Sven--
I know everything is upside down in Australia, but I am having a very hard time trying to translate your post. Maybe its just moi.
John Ferry
2/20th AC


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:26 pm 
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How about adding the Sid Meyer's Gettysburg and Antietam? Those are RTS games that play pretty easy h2h on-line. An hour battle between members seems totally doable. Another possibility would be the Scourge of War series. Those would allow players to go h2h with a live strategy game vs the current turn base game (1 to 14 players). I think it would bring a whole new life to the club as well and would be a modern format.

I think with the HPS or JTS versions we really only have the "open source" option left (Ken Whitehead's idea) as there is little development prospects with the current games. Actually, I could take all the scenarios and OOB's with the current games and make them run on one HPS or JTS game. There is really no need for all the versions of the games now. As mentioned before, they are all the same dry crackers repackaged under another campaign game.

I really enjoy the club and work hard to make new scenarios/games from the current format but there are many limitations within the program. That is where we are stuck. No programing updates to allow changes or improvements. We are stuck in time when the HPS/JTS games were released with no real changes.

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BG. Derek Hampel
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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:57 am 
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For adding new games, doesn't matter how folks can play it.....the particular thing is it needs to be able to be added either into our current scoring system, or have victory levels easy to distinguish (similar to HPS/JTS) to get a separate scoring bracket, but still similar to the format we already use.....

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General Scott Ludwig
Commanding Officer & Chief of the Armies (CoA) of the Confederate States of America (CSA)

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:07 am 
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Also the Club info has been placed in the game literature in the past. The problem is it is not consistently done over time nor is it always in the same place (mostly is, but not 100%). The EAW & Napoleonic series are more consistent and have it in the same place typically. The other issue with this is that when it is placed, we have two links for us listed. One the current one & the one placed above it is the one for Larry Quick's page that was formally associated with the Club.

We do have links properly placed on HPS's page and on Steve's SDC page ( which we are thankful for, we appreciate it Steve!). JTS' site does not do link outs to external places. We are placed in a variety of other venues and sites. I am working on doing it for a few more places. Joe Meyer has done a good job fanning out & placing info up, as well as Christian Hecht doing it too. We normally get click backs to our site that I can see when I look at the visitor data.

The format for the Club works just fine, if it hasn't broke in almost 20 years (and folks have tried to break it), then why fix it?? We could be better about things, for sure, but a massive overhaul isn't something I think we need.....

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Commanding Officer & Chief of the Armies (CoA) of the Confederate States of America (CSA)

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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:12 am 
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Scott,

I would agree. The Club isn't broken we are just looking at improving it and making it more desirable to all potential members. The current HPS/JTS software versions are good but with no means of improvement. We either need to looking at the "Open Source" version to get the improvements we want or add additional games to create a diverse forum for battles. The key here is offering different methods to explore CW engagements between members. If that can be done through turn base and RTS games, why not? Like you pointed out, as long as there is an even/fair method for the point systems between the games, why not? I know it means updates to the forums or links to the matchup for the version of games but it might add a nice balanced variety of old and new style games for the Club.

Just my thoughts.

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


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 Post subject: Re: A Stronger Club...A Better Club?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:16 am 
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I think the basic systems we have in place for the club work well other than the Union Army of Tennessee needs to change its name to Army of Losers or something so the army I am in can be the AoT. :mrgreen:

The Club would probably benefit from implementing some of the ideas that have been presented like a separate rating system for player ability to help people choose more equal opponents, maybe some handicapping on scenarios and player ability, getting the club on other media like Facebook, etc.

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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: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:51 am 
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This post would be equally applicable to Ken's post about a new game.
It is said that an elephant is a pony designed by a committee. In other words the pony becomes too big and complicated when input exceeds what is required. I think these games succeed because they are simple representations of combat. Sometimes oversimplified, but not beyond the ken of the average person to learn and understand it, with the potential that a person can get really good at it through practice. So it is probably just was well that Ken has pretty much designed the new game by himself. We would have been adding tusks and trunks and big ears to the pony in an effort to fulfill each our own separate visions.
I've always rejected the charge that it is the fault of the designers that the AI can't handle the scenarios. I never had any intention that AI would have even a clue on how to handle the Grand Scenario, with a million hexes and 1300+ turns, but the AI should be able to handle a recreation of any Civil War Battle, such as Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Chickamauga. etc. There are games out there, such as Age of Rifles by Norm Koger, where the AI will hand you your ass on a plate. Max AoR maps are 50x50 hexes and Max OOBs have 300 units on each side, so all those battles I just listed exist at regimental level. Sadly it is all in abandonware now. Norm never has made an attempt to make it better.
I think if each one of us could be more of an apostle to the gaming community ACWGC has a lot of years left.
John Ferry
Col 2/20th Army Corps


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