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"Is there Innovation in Rules?" Topic


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Celtic Tiger18 Jan 2010 12:30 p.m. PST

Or are rules just a regurgitated blend of old stuff?

Lee Brilleaux Fezian18 Jan 2010 12:53 p.m. PST

I certainly try to regurgitate old stuff as much as possible.

I am presently trying to combine Star Fleet Battles, Empire III and WRG 6th into a set of rules for every period, designed to be as complex as the tax code, but not as interesting.

Then I will package them in extra-super glossy form, with lots of pictures of figures I didn't paint and do not own.

Seriously, are you asking whether or not there has been anything new in wargaming since Don Featherstone sat up in bed reading copies of Jack Scruby's newsletters in 1957 and thought, "Hey – there's a chap 6000 miles away who also plays battle with toy soldiers" ???

Personal logo The Nigerian Lead Minister Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2010 1:10 p.m. PST

Occasionally there is something new. Usually it's a blend of old stuff, but put into a format that the author likes better and you might too. Someone can come up with different ways of applying tried and true mechanics to come up with new rules that have different feels and all from the previous incarnations. Sometimes a new idea can come along and it's poorly done, but then it's soon borrowed and used well somewhere else. Sometimes the new idea is nifty right off the bat. And of course, if we hammer together two concepts that have never been hammered together, sometimes you get a unique game system. Hopefully it's good, but no guarantees.

Waco Joe18 Jan 2010 1:15 p.m. PST

It is said that the ancient greeks devised all the possible variations of wargaming. They are:

Man vs. Self (Solo gaming)
Man vs. Man (typical gaming)
Man vs. Society (Historicon)
Man vs. Nature (gaming or sex)
Man vs. Supernatural (luck)
Man vs. Machine/Technology (dice, computers, etc)
Man vs. Destiny (GW)

so yes everything else is just variation on a theme.

Charlie 1218 Jan 2010 1:17 p.m. PST

Sometimes a new, fresh approach comes along. But it always seems to hit headlong into the inherent conservatism that a lot of gamers hold.

Griefbringer18 Jan 2010 1:25 p.m. PST

Wasn't Crossfire supposed to be somewhat revolutionary in a few aspects?

Martin Rapier18 Jan 2010 1:29 p.m. PST

The only really original things in wargaming I can think of in the last twenty years are:

a) DBA
b) Crossfire

there are plenty of tweaks of existing mechanisms, and plenty of crossover mechanisms from the ever fertile world of boardgames, but they are the only two which stand out. IMHO.

lkmjbc318 Jan 2010 1:30 p.m. PST

I actually have a copy of Howard's Star Empire 6th Edition.

My club didn't like them. We stayed with 5th edition.

Joe Collins

Timmo uk18 Jan 2010 1:38 p.m. PST

When I first came across variable bounds a la Empire I thought that was innovation so too when I first saw card activation but I guess they've both been about since the dawn of time. But I do think there are some original, inspired thinkers out there and others that are more developers.

Ambush Alley Games18 Jan 2010 2:24 p.m. PST

Curse you for stealing my idea, Mexican Jack Squint!

Hmm. I'll change it to a fantasy game and then it will be original again!

In your face, Jack!

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jan 2010 2:27 p.m. PST

What the heck are variable bounds?

The Monstrous Jake18 Jan 2010 2:52 p.m. PST

I'm still working on my new game design that's based around the concept of solitaire tournament rules.

Right now I'm sort of stuck on how to handle min-maxing against myself, and what to do if I field an unpainted cheese army against an army that's "broken".

Then there's my other game design, that used miniatures that haven't been taken out of the package yet. Blister packs are particularly powerful in those rules.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2010 3:20 p.m. PST

If it ain't broke why fix it? New is not necessarily better.

Goldwyrm18 Jan 2010 3:30 p.m. PST

Where's the system that awards victory points based on the losing general's memoirs blaming his subordinates, the weather, and other factors for the disaster so he looks better historically, OR for the winning general of a minor victory inflating himself to grand proportions through hyperbolic style and exaggerating the prowess of his adversary's mediocre army?

<Rolled 1 for low on ammo. Attacker rolled 1 less than needed to drive off defenders and game ends on turns in a draw> =

"The last of our powder spent, the enemy threw themselves at us with reckless abandon… Suffering greatly at the onslaught I encouraged the men to give no ground, and when this murderous tide of force arrayed against us gave way and at last subsided, we had held the field." +15 Victory Points.

Space Monkey18 Jan 2010 4:32 p.m. PST

Invention doesn't equal 'innovation'. Just because you change something or add something doesn't mean it's an improvement.

Until it's proven, one person's 'innovation' is another's 'marketing gimmick'… I don't think you can claim it's an 'innovation' until it's had enough play that you can look back and see that it really changed how the games were being played.

I'm always a bit suspect of new rules that want to trumpet how 'innovative' they are. Innovation seems like something that just happens… and doesn't usually happen when it's a goal unto itself.

quidveritas18 Jan 2010 5:49 p.m. PST

Well,

I don't think you will find anything like the integrated movement system in Watch Your Six in any other game.

I've been playing wargames for a long time and I haven't seen anything like it. Of course if I'm wrong, please feel free to educate me.

mjc

idontbelieveit18 Jan 2010 5:51 p.m. PST

Legacy of Glory seems pretty different than anything else around.

Piquet also seemed pretty different.

Were there precedents for either of those before?

jizbrand18 Jan 2010 6:06 p.m. PST

A couple of things that I've liked along the way:

1. Clan War: The use of leaders/characters to significantly impact the combat capability of the units they led, rather than being super-soldiers. Perhaps not innovative, but still very different from the run-of-the-mill fantasy games of that time.

2. Wings of War: The card movement system is unlike anything I've ever run into before, and I've been playing since the 60s. And it works quite well.

3. Wargods of Aegyptus: Game play is conventional, but army-building is different allowing recruitment across multiple factions. Again, perhaps not innovative in the greater scheme of things, but certainly refreshing when compared to other fantasy games of the time.

4. Fairy Meat: Although cards have been used for combat resolution, the FM method struck me as unique and added to the playability of the game. I notice that Malifaux is doing something very similar.

MWright19 Jan 2010 7:02 a.m. PST

Crossfire – no ruler, no fixed turns

HoTT – best of the DBX rules IMHO.

We Can Be Heroes (!st Edition) Roll to see if you, 1)lose initiative, 2)can take an action and then lose initiative, 3)take an action and retain initiative, 4) Take an ENHANCED action and then retain initiative.

You also rolled for Hero Points you could use to improve rolls and results.

Savage Showdown (Save World RPG) Target number is 4, the variable is what type of die you roll d4 – d12.

GASLIGHT – Simple no fluff & fun

Fist Full of TOWs – Modern Micro – actually is a game of manouvere, not just sit and shoot.

Martin Rapier19 Jan 2010 7:19 a.m. PST

"new game design that's based around the concept of solitaire tournament rules."

Isn't that just Pattons Best or B17?

"Where's the system that awards victory points based on the losing general's memoirs blaming his subordinates, the weather, and other factors for the disaster so he looks better historically,"

We usually do that sort of thing at the end of Matrix games. Each player gets a chance to argue why they have won.

"Piquet also seemed pretty different."

Not 100% the same but Firefight used initative chits and Tank Leader card driven unit activation. Yes, I guess Piquet put some of these elements tgoether in a new way.

"I don't think you will find anything like the integrated movement system in Watch Your Six in any other game."

How does that work?

quidveritas19 Jan 2010 8:53 a.m. PST

"I don't think you will find anything like the integrated movement system in Watch Your Six in any other game."

How does that work?

Movement sequence is based on relative advantage/disadvantage.

mjc

RudyNelson19 Jan 2010 12:45 p.m. PST

So many concepts are revived from old forgotten wargames of the 1970s or miniature from the 1960-70s.

The large bases with few figures are similar to boardgames where the unit controls and specific sized area 9hex) regardless of strength. Bucket of dice were used by several rules in the early 1970s. matrix firing/combat systems began becoming popular in 1976.

half or total casting kills were used in the 1970s and 1980s. Counting casualties (20 men to a casting and you count 20 hits before the casting is remved.)was strong in the 1970s.

Sometimes rules may change troop or ground scale and adapt mechanics which have rarely been seen for that level before. But the basic mechanic has been around for a long time.

Some may have different opinions and that is OK. We all view game mechanics differently. Some as gamers and some as designers and gamers.
Sometimes it seems that too much is made about the need for innovation when refing old concepts can work just as good.

(Phil Dutre)20 Jan 2010 6:15 a.m. PST

A few remarks:

1. Most innovations in gaming these days are to be found in german-style boardgames. Many game mechanics have crossed over, although mostly in house-rules in gaming groups, not so much in published rules. E.g. I'm still thinking about how to incorporate time as a game element (either using timers to drive actions (Space Dealer, Tamsk), or a real-time environment such as Space Alert or Icehouse).

2. If one only looks at miniature wargaming (that is, shuffling toy soldiers around on a gaming table), the material aspects of this gaming interface are somehow limited. For real innovation, one should take a step back, think outside of the box, and come up with something new such as committe-style games or matrix games.

3. Limited to toy soldiers gaming: rules such as Crossfire really caught my eye when they were first published. No fixed turns or movement distances, but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

RudyNelson20 Jan 2010 7:46 p.m. PST

The use of timers in tournaments games was popular in some areas of the USA back in the 1970s. Egg timers and sand hour glass (2 minute/5 minute) were used a lot. So this is not a new concept.

The Germans have done nothing new. They have just done a great job at refining concepts. For example the 'Settlers of Catan' enter a hex and flip it over for terrain type is not a new concept. The first board game that I saw it used was a Space board game in the mid-1970s. It is also very similar to the board game called 'Source of the Nile' in which you did not know what the terrain was until you entered it and rolled on a chart to find out.

Liek I said nothing new but great refinement of old concepts by German designers.

(Phil Dutre)21 Jan 2010 3:12 a.m. PST

The use of timers in tournaments games was popular in some areas of the USA back in the 1970s. Egg timers and sand hour glass (2 minute/5 minute) were used a lot. So this is not a new concept.

It was probably used as a device to time turns?
Have you looked at games such as Space Dealer or Tamsk, in which timers are playing pieces themselves to be manipulated, and time is a resource in the game to be used?


The Germans have done nothing new.

Then you should play more German-style boardgames. The essence of SoC is not flipping tiles over, it's about resource management, which is the crux in many boardgames. And SoC is an oldie, newer games have a lot of new innovative concepts.

Granted, if you take it down to the level of an individual gaming mechanic, nothing is ever new. Drawing a card or throwing a die is as old as the street. Innovative game design is about how to put various building blocks together, to create new game dynamics and an overall feel and experience of the game being played.

RudyNelson21 Jan 2010 7:57 a.m. PST

Phil being from Europe your experience with American boardgames of the 1970s by such giants as SPI, Avalon Hill, GDW, mayfair and others. Having played boardgames since the 1960s and sold them since 1983, I am quite familair the progress of companies and products over the years.

SoC, "…it's about resource management,…" is nothing new. Look at Third Reich of the 1970s or Empire in Arms 1980s and countless other games tand computer games like Civilization (both board and computer), resource management is the focus or main componenet of the game.

I am not trying to downgrade European products. I visited many FreiZeit stores when I was stationed in Germany in the 1980s. Boardgames were not popular back then. I am glad that mainly starting with SoC, there was a huge growth in German boardgames.
I just do not stock them in my store not because of any lack of quality but because of their price and the cost to have a decent stock to show.

(Phil Dutre)21 Jan 2010 8:18 a.m. PST

@RudyNelson:

I didn't want to imply that you were unfamiliar with the German boardgame genre, my apologies if my comments were understood like that. I could have phrased my response a bit more clear, I agree.

Although I'm not a gamer since the 60s, I picked up board wargaming in the very early 80s with the AH classics such as Tactics II, Afrika Korps, and yes, 3rd Reich (3rd edition if I recall). My view and exposure is indeed probably different than yours, colored both by time period and geographic location.

However, when looking at where the 'new ideas' in gaming these days are being explored, my opinion is still that currently this is happening in the German boardgame genre. (Miniature) wargaming, at least in the commercially published rules, has seen little new ideas in the last 15 years or so.

W.r.t. resource management: I agree with you that at some level, most games are about resource management. But if you compare a classic board wargame like 3rd Reich, to something like Agricola (still one of the most popular games on boardgamegeek), the way in which the player has to think about managing and allocating his resources, is quite different. Some of these gaming mechanics are trickling into wargaming as well.

It might be case that there is nothing new under the sun, and that any game mechanic has been explored many years ago by some company or some gaming group. But it also true that often new game mechanics or ideas only can succeed when applied in exactly the right combinations, with the right theme, or just when the public is ready for it.

Pierce Inverarity21 Jan 2010 10:33 a.m. PST

To use BGG-speak, miniature wargames are Ameritrash by default, so I can't see how they're ever going to be eurogame-ified in a more than superficial manner. Are there examples for this?

RudyNelson21 Jan 2010 10:47 a.m. PST

Phil, no problem with us having varying views. that is part of being a gamer in different parts of the world. heck, even in the USA views vary on the same area just in the USA.

As i said, as far as selling german games, I can get them but my cost to stock just one copy each of the series with all the variants would be very high. Add into that one each of a lot of other titles and all my available stocking cash would be sunk into a high cost series with limited appeal (due to the retail price).
I recently got a couple of sample SoC tiles one is called Fishermen of Catan and the other three tile set is called the great River. I have not been able to sell these unusual SoC expansions either and I only want a couple of dollars.

Mal Wright Fezian26 Jan 2010 3:44 a.m. PST

Well…..I'm certainly hoping that players will find the way battles are brought about in DEADLY WATERS the CONVOY series, will find it a breath of fresh air. Particularly for naval gamers. I've sort of thrown them in the deep end.

But in the combat resolution areas I struggled and struggled to achieve new ways. It was hard. One can usually only end up providing ones own version of how something comes about and it will inevitably be similar to the line of thought someone else has had previously.

I have been experimenting with new, interesting, and innovative ways to fight wargames for many years now. Its not an easy task.

Russ Lockwood30 Jan 2010 4:27 p.m. PST

Having done MagWeb, just about every rule or variation you can think of for every mechanic gets revisited over a decade or two. Some evolution of a mechanic occurs, and the mixing and matching of existing mechanics occur, combine for a different flowing game. I've gone towards simpler systems recently to play faster games, less static games, and games with more players.

The biggest evolution of rules is in their production: fancier, more colorful graphics and more on-demand printing. And more PDF versions…

surdu200501 Oct 2019 10:48 a.m. PST

I think there is a lot of innovation going on, but whereas the board gaming world is open to innovation, the miniatures world is not. Very few innovative systems rise to the level of "cool rules" sets, often for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the rules.

There is also a lot of copycat rules "development" that offers few new ideas.

Analsim01 Oct 2019 11:18 a.m. PST

Personally, I think half the problem with the apparent lack of wargame innovation is a result of the limited 'wargame designer gene pool', that innovation can draw upon. This is No indictment of anyone here, just noting that our small population (numbers), will limit innovations.

Notwithstanding, wargame design innovation is occurring, its just not at the rate and order of magnitude, that will always get your attention. Most of this I believe is related to how innovation occurs. Whether it is Revolutionary or Evolutionary, will make a big difference on whether or not it shows up on your own radar.

In respects to Wargame Design, the concept of "Revolutionary" is very distinct from "Evolutionary."

The Revolutionist designer is more radical, and innovations are more discontinuous or nonlinear (i.e. he invokes novelty). Revolutionary thinkers may take customer feedback into consideration, but ultimately they aim to deliver results that consumers have not yet considered.

By comparison, the wargame Evolutionist is prepared to think of continuous improvements inside a linear framework (i.e. he evolves paradigms). If you make evolutionary change, you probably do so based on an existing infrastructure, most likely from the feedback produced by prior iterations of whatever you decide to improve.

To make an analogy, picture two wargame designers standing halfway up a hill. The Evolutionary designer ponders about which way is best to reach the top of the existing hill. The Revolutionary designer imagines how to scale a yet-undiscovered taller hill.

Even so, you can make an argument that the gradual and necessary innovations on top of these new ideas are just as important as creating them.

In any case I offer this up as Food for thought.

Wolfhag01 Oct 2019 7:24 p.m. PST

I'd have to agree with Surdu. It seems any "innovation" in miniatures seems to be some new mish mash of activations, command points, and other ways to break up IGYU sequences. I admit some do have some interesting tactical applications but leave out the real reasons for unit command and control problems and the difference between good and poor crew type. I find very few rules that are fathfull translations from manuals, especially at the lower levels.

I know quite a few board game designers and developers and they seem to have more innovative ideas, especially the COIN type series.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Oct 2019 9:28 p.m. PST

There are issues, but I think the major reasons one might not seen much innovation in miniatures wargame rules, but they have been noted already. As Wolfhag notes, compared to the relatively huge cross-fertilization that goes on between board game, military, computer and general board game designers, there are handicaps for miniature designers:

1. Historical Miniatures is comparatively small population in comparison to board game/computer designers.

2. Because of that small population, Miniature designers see relatively few outside ideas [which is one mainstay of innovation].

3. There isn't a lot of technical discussion of game design among miniatures designers… they are often way behind the curve about both understanding the possible in game and simulation design, and the varieties of methods and mechanics available and be developed regarding historical wargames. Chapter two of Rick Priestley's Tabletop Wargames is a classic example of this.

4. We [gamers and designers] haven't been very good at keeping track of wargame design evolutions, let alone past innovations [however that is defined]. I have seen popular game designers on TMP say things that show a fairly broad ignorance of what has gone on before. For instance, one insisted that ALL miniature wargames have dice or cards for chance events and combat charts, and always have. I could immdediately name off three since the 1980s, such as the Complete Brigadier that didn't have either things.

5. This general lack of awareness leads to a lot of 'reinventing the wheel', thinking that THIS mechanic is new. One popular game designer stated that using pips as command resources was first seen in the 1990s, or taking whole stands instead of individual figures is a recent 'innovation' or another designer insisted that the 'command radius' mechanic had only one meaning throughout the hobby's rules sets.

6. Learning a new set of rules is not easy, let alone rebasing or learning a new period. There is a lot of enertia to miniature wargaming that simply doesn't exist with board games. That has some definite positives and negatives for our hobby. However, that leads to designers being unwilling to stray very far beyond the tried and true in rules, basing etc. It is much easier to mix-and-match, this mechanic from one game and one from another set of rules, both familiar and put in a 'new' set of rules. Both familiar and 'different.'

7. The other problem is that often, the easiest thing to do for a wide audience is create a simple game 'hollywood' game with known rules, but this tends to water down history altogether and move the game experience out of any history supposedly being represented. In the historical wargame hobby, it is a design catch 22.

8. There is a rather provincial attitude among miniature wargamers that A. if it hasn't been done in our hobby, it can't be, B. Outside ideas from board games and general game design don't or can't apply to our hobby and C. some ideas about game design are held onto tightly even though they are counter-productive and not held anywhere else in the game design or simulation design communities.

These aren't insurmountable issues, but they do have an impact on the pace of 'innovation.'

Wolfhag02 Oct 2019 7:04 a.m. PST

I think for many people a game comes down to recreating the experience. For miniatures players it is slanted on recreating the visual experience. A simple and abstracted set of rules can do that. It can give the "feeling" of realism based on what a particular individual thinks it should be so it can vary quite a bit from person to person. I seen vets with several combat tours prefer a simple dice game over a detailed chart driven game. For them they don't need any innovation.

For me, at the lower level 1:1 combat, it's all about recreating the OODA Decision Loop between all units. That eliminates much of the artificial and abstracted game rules so you are moving from action (Act in the loop) to action without the need to determine move/shoot sequences. The idea of "activating" a unit is unrealistic to me (I was in the infantry) but I see how it works and the reason behind it and why many people prefer it.

When something goes wrong I like to know why, not just you failed to move as far as you wanted or failed an activation because of a die roll. However, I think I'm in the minority as I don't see a lot of demand for change or innovation other varying the mechanics of certain rules.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2019 8:02 a.m. PST

I think for many people a game comes down to recreating the experience.

Wolfhag:
That is what a game is… an experience. Game designers are experience engineers. So are simulation designers.

For miniatures players it is slanted on recreating the visual experience.

That is a major attraction, for sure. But that isn't reserved to miniatures. Board game discussions always involve the visual representation, the art work etc.

A simple and abstracted set of rules can do that.

It sure can if all you are doing is looking at the pretty table.

It can give the "feeling" of realism based on what a particular individual thinks it should be so it can vary quite a bit from person to person.

'It' being the visuals or the game play? And of course it can vary from person to person. So?

If all one is shooting for is a 'feeling', visuals can be important, but I can also see how generating a 'feeling' with the rules would be ney-on impossible with it being so particular to the person and so, so vague.

I seen vets with several combat tours prefer a simple dice game over a detailed chart driven game. For them they don't need any innovation.

I don't see the connection between game preference and any 'need' for innovation, particularly with vets… between combat tours I too might want something simple and less mentally demanding.

The question is how to get players into that 'zone' where they are immersed in the game [something all good game provide]. For a historical game, that is very important and the immersion zone very specific and defined.

When something goes wrong I like to know why, not just you failed to move as far as you wanted or failed an activation because of a die roll. However, I think I'm in the minority as I don't see a lot of demand for change or innovation other varying the mechanics of certain rules.

Again, the desire to know why [the historical basis for that failure] isn't a minority issue. If it was, you would see a different hobby with different promotional efforts. Think about from that standpoint.

The problem or the consensus is that we can't know, so we
pretend and make up stories to fill the gaps--we've gotten good at it over the years.

The game designers don't tell you and gamers can't suss out the particulars, answer your questions by themselves, so they stop trying and play.

Yet designers and publishers still push the historical content that they don't explain

Players continue to search for that 'perfect' set of rules that match the history they know.

Lots of players continue to tweek or simply change rules to match their understanding of history.

And a good portion of ALL historical wargame discussions are around history and what the rules represent rather than simply 'that is a fun game mechanic.'

Innovation is about the new and different as well as the better. We seem to be talking about both with an emphasis on better representation.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Oct 2019 12:15 p.m. PST

If the stated preferences of miniatures wargamers here on TMP and elsewhere on the internet are any indication, most of them have little appetite for innovation, preferring instead to play the same style of game over and over again but with different miniatures. This seriously undermines the motivation of publishers of new rules to pursue anything beyond subtle changes, resulting in more "evolution" than "revolution" in game design. There have been innovations over the decades; just not the kind of disruptive innovations we're used to seeing in tech, for example.

There must certainly be as much (or more) room for innovation in game design as there is in other fields of creative endeavor, which have been around for centuries longer. Why write any new songs? After all, all those notes have already been used before.

Analsim02 Oct 2019 2:45 p.m. PST

W.A.,

Good comments and thanks for helping to keep us focused.

Hopefully, we are talking about 'meaningful innovation' here.

Wargame design, like the design of a good Tank depends on "the balance" of its three (3) major design aspects; Protection, Mobility and Firepower). In the case of Wargame design, the three (3) major factors are; 1) Speed, 2) Detail & 3) Scope.

1) Speed. Speed focuses on efficient design 'execution'. Which reinforces design simplicity, execution in the form of moves and simply demands less of the participant Player's time to run it.

2) Details. It relates to the level of detail or 'Granularity'. Granularity (i.e. level of close-up detail) relates to level of operational fidelity, while it does not necessarily follow that greater detail provides greater accuracy, or realism.

3) Scope. Scope refers to how many aspects of the conflict are depicted. For example, will the game address only force-on force issues, or will it include the impact of logistics too. Broader scope can also increase accuracy.

The Bottom line is 'BALANCE'. Like Tank design, each factor represents a trade off against the other elements.

OK! What's all this have to do with Innovation??

It's this simple. I expect wargame design innovations to provide a meaningful 'payoff' in the form of greater efficiencies and/or design performance related to one or more of those three (3) wargame design elements I identified above.

What's your opinion?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2019 3:15 p.m. PST

If the stated preferences of miniatures wargamers here on TMP and elsewhere on the internet are any indication, most of them have little appetite for innovation, preferring instead to play the same style of game over and over again but with different miniatures.

A.W.:

What do you see as 'the same style of game?'

What I find is the state preferences don't necessarily match other statements from the same gamers, nor their actions.

Yes, there are any number of gamers who stick with the same rules for a long time. However, I see

1. Most discussions centering on some form of history matching the game, from visuals, uniforms to game mechanics.

2. Designers constantly presenting their set of rules doing better than the previous set of rules…even when they are a retread. [keep that comfort level]

3. Gamers constantly tweeking rules, talking about changes and often then publishing those changes as a set of rules…again, new and improved.

Granted, there is no reason for any game designer to publish a set of rules unless it does offer something better or different. However, if the hobby was dominated by gamers who "have little appetite for innovation, preferring instead to play the same style of game over and over again but with different miniatures", then you wouldn't have anything like the traffic for issues #1-3.

Personally, I think there is more going on than simply gamers' lack of interest.

It's this simple. I expect wargame design innovations to provide a meaningful 'payoff' in the form of greater efficiencies and/or design performance related to one or more of those three (3) wargame design elements I identified above.

Hi Analsim: I think you mean:

innovations should provide a meaningful 'payoff' in the form of new OR greater efficiencies and/or design performance related to one or more of those three (3) wargame design elements I identified above. [I could take an old set of rules and make them meet those greater efficiencies for the most part. It's done now: Grand Armee termed FG.

And to have that beyond simple personal preferences, you liking one game better than another, there would have to be some baseline on

What constitutes an innovation?
what constitute 'greater efficiences'?
What constitutes better 'game performance'?
What constitutes better a detail/operational fidelity
relationship?

In a technical sense we all have to recognize the same game system traits as the same 'thing.' If we can't, then are left with judgements for those qualities as completely
personal preference
Feelings

And that is not only difficult to describe in game terms, but much harder to design for when everyone has a different preference.

The solution of course is:

Don't bother other discussing game design beyond expressing what you like, it doesn't go anywhere.

Designing successful games mean designing for whatever a large number of players already like.

Every-once-in-awhile, someone does something different, some get dissed to death and others catch on and become the next 'convention'. I am thinking of F&F for instance, after Johnny Reb.

Yet, you see a lot of variety at conventions, including home made rules. So, do folks really want the same-old, same-old all the time? It could be situational too.

Analsim03 Oct 2019 7:44 a.m. PST

McLaddie, my lad, ;^)

I'm not worried about pleasing the masses. If you build a better 'Mouse trap' the masses will beat a path to your door to get one. ;^)

I view Innovation as being the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.

To be called an innovation, an idea must be replicable/doable and must satisfy a specific need (i.e. meaningful innovation).

Innovation involves deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative in deriving greater or different values from resources, and includes all processes by which new ideas are generated and converted into useful products.

For Example. In respects to mounting & utilizing Military Miniatures themselves. We began with single figures, evolved to movement stands holding 2-8 figures and on to 'Movement trays' holding entire units. Using Bar Codes and/or RFI Tagging to imbed Unit Data/Information onto those stands would be an ideal innovation providing both utility and potential game design efficiency (future design margin).

I recognize that Innovation is Not limited to the physical aspects of wargaming (as per the example I used above). But it is this kind of real payoff that makes innovation valuable.

UshCha04 Oct 2019 1:09 a.m. PST

I think that War Artisan has in his 2 Oct post. There is insufficent appetite for inovation. True inovation would require considerable new learning as it would be diffrent whatever it is.

I suspect the reason for there being no apetite for inovation is that unlike board gameing, many consider it to be far more about the minatures than the game. This carries against inovation in two ways. As its more about the art there is less appetite to learn rules afte all its about moving and admireing the, in many cases minature works of art, even I admitt in our games there is no time to stand and stare, but for me that is fime the game should be demanding, but not for folk wanting to spend time apreciating there hadiworks on a beautifully scenic landscape. I suspect boardgame do not in general have that pull to the same extent, so inovation is far higher on the list of requirements. Three are wargamers to whome the minatures are very secondary to the game, but such folk as we are in the minority. Look at posts on this board and they are domunated by models and painting with just a few serious therads on the gaming strand.

Analsim04 Oct 2019 7:09 a.m. PST

ALL,

It seems that 'WE', in the recreational Wargame community are not alone pondering the apparent stagnation in game design innovation.

It seems that the US Defense Department recognized that they had the same problem a couple of years ago.

On 9 February 2015 the former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work signed a memorandum subject: "Wargaming and Innovation,"

He began the memo by declaring that the department's wargaming abilities had "atrophied." It went on to
argue the importance of reversing that atrophy: wargaming could "potentially make the difference between wise and unwise investment trajectories and make our forces
more successful in future conflicts."

The memo described several major initiatives and
outlined how they would be implemented. The initiatives included a four-star General Officer summit on reinvigorating wargaming.

I'll have to go back and see if anything ever resulted from any of these summits & initiatives.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP04 Oct 2019 2:47 p.m. PST

There is insufficient appetite for innovation. True innovation would require considerable new learning as it would be different whatever it is.

On whose part? The consumers or the designers? Appetites have to be fed. If the designers can't or don't provide innovation meeting some if not all of Aanalsim's criteria, what happens to the appetite? It dies or goes where it is fed.

Did iphone innovations follow consumer demand or the other way around? Did consumers have to do 'considerable new learning' or the designers--to produce even modest changes and 'up-grades' rather than 'innovations?'

If gamers have no appetite for innovation, why do so many buy lots of rules? Or change rules to meet their 'appetites?' I also think that there has been innovation, [the use of cards in a wide variety of ways, for instance] which has gone unrecognized, or not marketed properly or simply badly done.

All of which goes back to the designer/publisher rather than
the gamer/consumer. That all goes back to the conceptual basis designers in our hobby and the inherent limitations created by those conceptual 'givens.'

How do designer now meet gamer appetites? What do they succeed at providing and fail? Fail often enough and consumers stop asking. They go away to find it someplace else.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Oct 2019 9:22 a.m. PST

I think we are forgetting that like any hobby appetite, our hobby's is a developmental trait, not necessarily inherent at all times or places.

As an illustration:

If the our hobby don't offer historically grounded innovations, or new game systems, but spectacular visuals, then those who are attracted to those things will come to and remain in the hobby. Those who are looking for historically meaningful game experiences and innovations won't be. They will go to boardgames for instance, who still toss around the word 'simulation' on a regular basis.

Sooner or later, the hobby is filled with those who like the visuals and comraderie, but expect little from the rules, asking for simplicity and easy access because that isn't the draw… any rules will do--except when it doesn't look right.

And it is the designers who create that draw or lack of draw through their products. It's a matter of 'build the field and they will come' dynamic. My dad was heavy into RC planes. Being an architect, he made hobby money by drafting the layouts for model kits. He was asked to do that for one of the first model companies to offer jet engine kits. No one was doing that at the time. Now? Quit common to see them. It wasn't the modeling community that clammered for jet engine models. The military wanted them for testing and drone research.

We have historical wargame designers who argue that it is all fantasy and not history at all and others that claim 'historical accuracy' as a primary quality of their rules when there is no effort to establish that 'accuracy' with the consumer, let alone define what it is.

why should folks actually interested in historical wargame history and the attendent experience hang around?

UshCha06 Oct 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

I think that The major part of minature wargaming is not the actual play but the collecting and painting to the majority. If you only play one set of rules 3 or 4 times a year and really, you want to look at the figures while moving them around, you have an audience that is not really bothered about the rules.

There are a considerable number of threads saying how boring learning rules is and that most players let one guy do most of that. Minor re-writes with cards instead of dice/words is not really innovative in terms of the game. Perhaps in presentation but its still just random and words just in different paces. Certainly to me its not even close to innovation. Why are ther lots of rules, It seem to be a fad all of itself, the novelty of the "NEW". You do not need a new car every 2 years but many folk like to have one anyway. I suspect rules cater for that effect, not necessarily in rapid changes in simulation approach which would make swapping rules more demanding so less appealing.

You will only get real insights to a period if you play and read a lot. I have been playing almost exclusively modern for 10 years. I still have not grasped some of the basics in the manuals of the real think. Part maybe unlearning what has been imbued into "Standarsd wargaming" that is contrary to the real world. What is clear there are a very few who really want simulation so there is not much of it about.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2019 8:45 a.m. PST

Why are ther lots of rules, It seem to be a fad all of itself, the novelty of the "NEW".

Uh, wouldn't that mean appetite for innovation?

There are a considerable number of threads saying how boring learning rules is and that most players let one guy do most of that.

That is true of board games. YouTube link

Minor re-writes with cards instead of dice/words is not really innovative in terms of the game.

No, so we aren't taking about such thngs. I am talking about changing or adding to the rules and game mechanics.

If you only play one set of rules 3 or 4 times a year and really, you want to look at the figures while moving them around, you have an audience that is not really bothered about the rules.

Quite true. Some players are still playing only Johnny Reb or F&F after more than a decade or two, so some do, some don't, but even those wedded to learning one set of rules well, still try out other rules, particularly at conventions.

Miniature wargaming has all the developmental and 'innovation' issues of any other hobby. Trying to figure out why something is happening or not happening in this hobby without any comparison process isn't promising and rather insular.

Every hobby has it's own draw. Fantasy miniature wargaming has different draws than boardgaming. Historical wargames have a different draw. If the hobby has no unique draw from other hobbies, it is difficult to see how it could do well.

Fantasy miniatures have:

The spectacle
The painting up of figures and making terrain
Fairly simple rules.

Many board games have figures too.

So, what are the strengths of Historical Wargaming--those unique draws? Those are the things that should be emphasized and developed.

Instead, we have popular historical game designers and players who insist that historical wargaming is fantasy wargaming.

So, if that is true for both hobbies, where do interested gamers go? Which type of gaming 'takes over?'

UshCha06 Oct 2019 10:56 a.m. PST

McLaddie,

"NEW" and innovative to me are not the same. The recent sets like Team Yankee would never count as innovative as far as I am concerned. In fact they are a further step backwards to me with unrealistic rules, loved by many as they allow units on the tabletop that would never be so in the real world due to the time/space distortion of "Exponential Ranges" beloved of modellers whose prime aim is to get toys on the board at any cost in credibility.

UK conventions are not places to try out rules, they do not involve the public in the same way.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Oct 2019 5:07 p.m. PST

When I said 'new', I meant not seen before, not the same rules rebaked with bells and whistles for another era.

I understand the UK conventions are not the place to try out new rules, but you can see them in operation.

Analsim07 Oct 2019 5:02 a.m. PST

UC & McL,

REF: Innovation

I'm sure that both of you are aware that our miniature wargame community is made up of two (2) main subsets: 1) Lead Pushers (60%) and 2) Rule Writers (40%).

Thus, you have two (2) target audiences for innovation.

As both of you have alluded to, Lead Pushers are more interested in collecting units and seeing them move about on the tabletop. Thus, games like "Black Powder", satisfy their needs right now.

The Rule Writers like their miniatures but, are also looking for a better mouse trap too. Their individual motives are many.

I'd venture to say that, Historical-Rule Writers, is actually a subset of the Rule Writer group. Which would help explain why that community is so small these days.

Circling back around to the broader issue of Innovation, you have to consider the overall demand or even need for innovations within these communities.

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