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Action Log

12 Aug 2016 10:39 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

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Featured Hobby News Article


4,236 hits since 16 Feb 2016
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
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Pages: 1 2 

Ottoathome20 Feb 2016 3:39 p.m. PST

Dear McLaddie

He said

"They like lots of choices but they don't like many difficult/significant choices."

That means they are lazy.

They tend to rely more on intuition than logic, a reliance that's often encouraged in the schools and society ("use the Force, Luke", don't depend on the computer to aim that torpedo).

That means they are stupid and can't think.

This trend is already enormously clear in video games. Players want to be rewarded for participation, they don't want to have to earn their rewards by making good decisions.

That means they are unmotivated and have an enormous sense of entitlement.


Hobby wargaming often involves studying the games. People don't study games much anymore, especially casual gamers. Between cheap or free video games and the proliferation of many hundreds of new tabletop games each year, people are accustomed to playing a game only a few times before they move on to the next one in a kind of "Cult of the New".

And that takes care of "the attention span of hamsters."

I know people who have played Britannia more than 500 times, but nowadays you're going to find few newly published games that anyone will ever play 500 times, especially not one as long as Britannia.

This reiterates all of the above again.

I think wargames are still going to be a haven for people I'm put in mind of a young lady who used to attend our university game club. At age 18 she was exceptionally intelligent and focused, and when she played games she really put her brain to work (more than most), but because she was playing games to relax she did not want to play anything like a standard wargame where you have bunches of pieces to move in each of your turns. That was far too many decisions to make. She liked tactical video games, where you have just a few characters to control.

And here he not only says it all again, but says "Chicks are twice as bad"

Yeah!!! I'd say that was the takeaway.

I'm with Garth in the Park.

Besides, I know a lot more people who play, after all these years, Featherstone, Young, Bath, Sword and the Flame, Koenig Krieg, and the old chestunuts and have no intention of changing.

I also know that in the past three years I've seen dozens of brand new 100/100 ($100,100 pages) games that have a life of six months. Maybe it's the type of games the guy writes.

Wolfhag20 Feb 2016 4:27 p.m. PST

I think overall people are looking for instant gratification when they want to be entertained. I read video game designers stating that you need to get a player involved in the fun part of the game right away. Point, shoot and blow things up.

Miniature gaming involves dropping $50 USD-$200 to get started (rules, terrain and models) plus the investment in time and painting before you even put a model on the table. But that is what "entertains" most miniatures players. It seems to be just as much or more about the visual creativity than the game itself. Nothing wrong with that.

If you are going to be a financial success do what it takes and forget your critics. If you can build an immersive environment where people can have fun, earn rewards (or better yet purchase them) then just keep them entertained.

It's a game and games are all about being entertained. Entertain the masses and you may make some money. Entertain a groups with a narrow interest and go broke.

Game designers may want to take a page out of WoT (yes, I really did say that). I'm no fan but they are a successful and profitable company but even they do not satisfy everyone.

They make it easy and inexpensive to enter the game, dangle rewards, give a lot of instant gratification with a good balance of challenge. Players can measure their success against others. They get to customize their vehicles as they advance. You always have opponents. The graphics are beautiful with no painting involved. It's hard to compete with them in the miniatures gaming universe.

Do WoT players care if it's not 100% historical? Some do but most don't seem to care.

I feel the hobby is a continual WIP and any new game design, rule or mechanic is a step in the right direction. Good ones will survive, most will die a slow death.

I too feel today the production value, graphics, rules and overall presentation are much better than 20 years ago. Some of the games that take the most heat for not being realistic or historical are doing the most to bring in new and younger players into historical miniatures. We should not criticize players for playing them or we may chase them away.

Right now you can choose to play an easy dice game and roll D6's to your hearts content and able to memorize all values or a game where you almost have to read the military manuals to understand the game concepts and charts. There seems to be something for everyone. It really depends on your level of effort, finances and interest.

Wolfhag

Weasel20 Feb 2016 4:46 p.m. PST

The annual reminder that:

*A game can be a simulation without being complicated.

*A game can be fun while being complicated.

*A crap game with a fun group is still pretty good.

*Most people don't play exclusively "realistic" or "unrealistic" games. I'll play Command Decision and 40K in the same day.

*Most gamers are pretty insular and don't really have any interest in the industry at large.

*The industry is so small that whoever goes and does something gets to shape it.

*What you consider easy can be hard for someone else. My stoner friend gets ASL, but gets tripped up playing Crossfire.

*I've seen kids calculate their D&D characters attack bonus 30 levels in advance and old men forget which dice to roll in Crossfire.


All in my sort of humble opinion of course.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2016 8:25 p.m. PST

I'm old enough to remember when the cutting edge of game design was a typo-ridden 200-page monstrosity full of flowcharts and tables and uber-serious injunctions from the designer about how we're not doing this to have fun, but rather "Playing History!" so you've got a moral obligation to do it the right way!

Garth:
I agree. I am glad those days are gone. That approach did the hobby no good in the long run. We are still feeling the effects.

Count me among those who think that games are a lot better now than they used to be. The writing is better, with better editing, more illustrated examples to make things clearer, and designers have forced themselves to make cleaner, simpler designs that don't require a week and a slide rule to work out.

I understand completely and tend to agree. However, how is that a different view than what says about the general population?

So a game with lots of choices but few decisions that make a significant difference tends to be preferred to the older kind of game, where there is not only lots of choices but lots of decisions, and decisions within decisions. [Read, Wargames from the "Good Old Days."

I don't want to go back to the Good Old Days. My eyesight, patience, and leisure time aren't up to it.

So how is that different than:

but because she was playing games to relax she did not want to play anything like a standard wargame…?
[Read: Wargames from the Good Old Days.]

"people are accustomed to playing a game only a few times before they move on to the next one in a kind of "Cult of the New". I know people who have played Britannia more than 500 times, but nowadays you're going to find few newly published games that anyone will ever play 500 times,"

That is supposed to be some sort of virtue that we've lost? That you stubbornly play the same thing over and over and never try anything new?

grin I don't think he was presenting that as a virtue at all, but a basic difference. And your comment seems to support his observation in changing or at least current gaming preferences.

IF true, that is just fine by me.

Lewis Pulsipher maybe an old curmudgeon longing for the good old days, but I don't think you can assume that from his blog unless you imbue his observations with like/dislike opinions about how it 'should' be and the mental failures of the present generation. If you read the rest of his blog from which I pulled for this take on game 'depth.', I think you'll find he isn't doing anything that.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2016 11:29 p.m. PST

He [Pulsipher] said:

"They like lots of choices but they don't like many difficult/significant choices."

That means they are lazy.

Otto:

Wow. That is some mean 'reading between the lines', particularly when Lewis described those games with 'many difficult/significant decisions" as

So a game with lots of choices but few decisions that make a significant difference tends to be preferred to the older kind of game, where there is not only lots of choices but lots of decisions, and decisions within decisions. [Read, Wargames from the "Good Old Days]

So, if the gamer doesn't like that kind of game, they are automatically considered stupid? Isn't it possible that Lewis can state what he sees as new preference in games without judging in such personal and derogatory ways?

"They tend to rely more on intuition than logic, a reliance that's often encouraged in the schools and society ("use the Force, Luke", don't depend on the computer to aim that torpedo)."

That means they are stupid and can't think.

So, I guess having a preference for relying on intuition in playing a game is an act of stupidity in all cases? The last resort of those who can't think?

I do know there is a lot of research to support his observation about intuition and schools, for good or bad.

"This trend is already enormously clear in video games. Players want to be rewarded for participation, they don't want to have to earn their rewards by making good decisions."

That means they are unmotivated and have an enormous sense of entitlement.

It amazes me how you can see such negatives, particularly when he is only agreeing what the designers of "Angry Bird" and "Jewel" and many other current game designers who have observed and designed games accordingly. Again, they are all noting what they see as general trends and designing accordingly.

So anyone preferring participation over 'winning decisions' for their games means they are unmotivated and have an enormous sense of entitlement. Quite a leap.

"Hobby wargaming often involves studying the games. People don't study games much anymore, especially casual gamers. Between cheap or free video games and the proliferation of many hundreds of new tabletop games each year, people are accustomed to playing a game only a few times before they move on to the next one in a kind of "Cult of the New".

And that takes care of "the attention span of hamsters."

So, anyone who has a greater attention span won't play game only a few times and move on to another? Or playing a game 500 times equates to a long attention span? One does not equate to the other. I know Lewis wasn't, unless you are saying that one can determine their length of their attention spans by how often they play a game** which I seriously doubt.

You really want to see his views as really, really derogatory.

"I know people who have played Britannia more than 500 times, but nowadays you're going to find few newly published games that anyone will ever play 500 times, especially not one as long as Britannia."

This reiterates all of the above again.

So, he's saying that anyone who doesn't play a game 500 times is all those negative things, stupid, short attention span, unmotivated and feeling entitled??? That is a huge leap. That makes him out as the worst sort of misogynist.

"I think wargames are still going to be a haven for people. I'm put in mind of a young lady who used to attend our university game club. At age 18 she was exceptionally intelligent and focused, and when she played games she really put her brain to work (more than most), but because she was playing games to relax she did not want to play anything like a standard wargame where you have bunches of pieces to move in each of your turns. That was far too many decisions to make. She liked tactical video games, where you have just a few characters to control.

And here he not only says it all again, but says "Chicks are twice as bad"

So, the admittedly exceptionally intelligent woman was actually really stupid, and although she really put her brain to work, she was unmotivated with a short attention span. And of course, because she wanted to play games to relax and avoid games with all sorts of pieces to move each turn, she must have an enormous sense of entitlement?

I will admit he made a real tactical error in giving an intelligent woman as an example of a wargame player.

Yeah!!! I'd say that was the takeaway.

Whatever you are taking away, I am not at all convinced it has anything to do with what Lewis actually wrote.

Besides, I know a lot more people who play, after all these years, Featherstone, Young, Bath, Sword and the Flame, Koenig Krieg, and the old chestunuts and have no intention of changing.

? You read that Lewis believed that everyone was going to change?

I also know that in the past three years I've seen dozens of brand new 100/100 ($100,100 pages) games that have a life of six months.** Maybe it's the type of games the guy writes.

So, maybe folks are more interested in the new at the moment and not playing the same games 500 times. Lewis was suggesting that if you want to sell to the widest audience possible that maybe that is the type of game you design.

Now is it possible to consider those game design observations without insisting that there are some extremely negative judgments on what gamers prefer at the moment?

Or is this veteran game designer, when talking about what he sees as trends in gamer preferences, ONLY stating what he likes [old standard wargames] and calling anyone who likes something else stupid, etc. etc. etc.?

Bill Owen21 Feb 2016 11:55 a.m. PST

Why are the games fun. Is it only the challenge and recognition of historical elements …or are their more aspects of the fun?

A few mentioned the extra investment in painting a miniature army. For many that is where a lot of the fun is. Better be, it takes so long! The research both of what to buy and how to paint it, cost, techniques, expertise mean that many wargamers* may start and sometimes end up as modellers. Learning history or at least militaria is part of the process.

At age 12, I remember the paradigm shift from painting one-off model planes and having the idea of painting a *unit* of three B-25 bombers. And still without any rules. But since we were familiar with Avalon Hill wargames, we struggled to figure how to fight battles with models. Until Leon Tucker's Fast Rules came along… and then Tractics. The latter moved us up from "above average" to the rarefied pinnacle of elite gamers overnight. No more dirt clods from the roof of the house (which we called Greek Artillery) or bb guns at 50 yards with binoculars to watch the fall of the shot.

Remember the postcard that came with each AH game Do A Bright Friend A Favor… If you know someone who has the basic brain power to comprehend Avalon Hill games… (they would send them a catalog). So here AH was prospecting for new business but a big part of the appeal was to reinforce your wargamer proof of High Intelligence.

Some games have a similar Call To Action to the Brilliant or at least Well-Read but a bit more subtle insofar as the claim to realism is an invitation to the reader to verify with his own vast knowledge. And perhaps sneer at yokel gamers.

It is indeed a different time. But when I was growing up, it seemed that I would go to Vietnam (my Junior High School gym teacher said that was his goal, to prepare us) after generations who had to go to war. Perhaps playing wargames we might be learning some survival skills? It's a cinch that most of us city kids had little shooting skills. But war had become more technological. I don't understand the young folks' choice of subjects--and that may be a feature for them not a bug.

Games might appeal to the grandiose Walter Mitty. Can you do better than Napoleon? (Or as well?!)

One way wargames can have more depth and less of a one-off game's last-turn scramble is to play campaigns of linked battles. Harder said than accomplished. Great Battles of WWII is a remarkably accurate set for its simplicity that allows you do accomplish multi-day battles with reserves and supply considerations all in one game session. The designer subtracted much of the minutiae to make it a playable game.

Finally, it's a sad fact that some wargamers may find it almost as much fun to e-talk about wargames more than they get to play them.

*Not all are there to play may not appreciate the effort put into the miniatures or terrain. And with fewer gamers around here, I have found it easier to train raw recruits to play wargames who had zero previous experience.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2016 5:45 p.m. PST

Why are the games fun. Is it only the challenge and recognition of historical elements …or are their more aspects of the fun?

Hi Bill:

Yes, some excellent observations.

A great book is Raph Koster's book A Theory of fun for Game Design

from my experience, lots of different kinds associated with miniature historical Wargames, some specifically wargame related and others can apply to any game.

Times change and with it so do people's preferences. The possible types of fun possible don't chance. There's

*Just playing the game… the pleasure in the process. Immersing yourself in them.

*Some like simple games and some like really detailed games.

*The competition, either with friends or tournaments.

*A method of relaxing from the stresses of the day… just to do something different.

*Curiosity: How does the game work?

*Learning something of history

*Applying what you know of military tactics--And yes, imagining yourself as some incarnation of Napoleon

*Designing or modifying games

*Building the armies, having favorite units or generals.

*Creating scenarios and campaigns

*Enjoying social gatherings--wargames can simply be an excuse to get together.

*The story-telling, before, during and after 'debriefing'. I once played a political wargame of the French Revolution in Paris. We all spent more time telling stories and writing news reports than actually playing. I certainly enjoy the debriefing bull sessions afterwards. Beer helps.

*There is a pleasure in researching the history for your armies, uniforms, OOBs and scenarios.

*Painting the armies. There are those who say that painting and building the armies is the core fun for them.

* Building the terrain: That to can become an addiction.

* And yes, talking about wargaming. For instance, Jonathan Reinhart admits to spending as much time with his Podcast Wargame Recon as he does actually wargaming.
I don't think that is a sad fact. It is often easier

* Another form of enjoyment is sharing what they are doing on blogs, some beautifully done websites that certainly took up a good deal of time.

Historical wargamers focus on some of those aspects more than others, some focus exclusively on one or two. It's always been that way. The only things that change are the circumstances and the numbers who enjoy particular parts of a varied and enjoyable hobby.

That is all to the good and personally, I don't see any of those as better choices than others. It a sad fact that some gamers see one aspect as good and others as bad, or not a part of the hobby, or feel it is necessary to criticize each other because they don't like the same things. [A result of it being hard to find gamers who like the same things?]

Ottoathome22 Feb 2016 7:12 a.m. PST

dear Mcladdie

You say

"I don't see any of these as better choices than others."

As always you answer "All the cows are standing up except those which are laying down."

How is it that you can raise such walls of text on matters you proclaim indifference to?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP22 Feb 2016 8:20 a.m. PST

How is it that you can raise such walls of text on matters you proclaim indifference to?

Uh, how does my willingness to value others' preferences in how they participate in the hobby equate to proclaiming 'indifference'????

Does caring mean I have to find those preferences that aren't mine bad and the players stupid for making the wrong choices?

That seems to be your expectation.

This Friday, my friend and I played a simple skirmish game, Desperado by Knuckleduster. We each had two characters [unpainted rubber figures!] and some toy buildings on the kitchen table. We only had a couple of hours to play. We'd never played it before, but we enjoyed ourselves.

It was our choice to play a simple game with lots of choices, but few decisions, playing a new game that didn't require a lot of time--or thinking--instead of ones that we have played in the past.

If we choose to do that kind of gaming a lot and someone sees the very same distinctions… how do they describe them if they aren't 'indifferent'?

That we have short attention-spans, are stupid and have a magnified sense of entitlement--or maybe he insists that is the only way to have fun. After all, we are just playing with toys?

When wargaming fun and game design are held to be so subjective and intensely personal, it's not surprising that my viewing others' personal preferences as equally acceptable would be viewed as indifference.

Yellow Admiral22 Feb 2016 2:06 p.m. PST

I think McLaddie hit the nail on the head a few days ago:

No one is ever going to make a game that *perfectly* reflects anything, let alone historical tactics and decision making. The question will always be what parts history and military tactics the designer picked to represent and how well did he succeed?

I look at miniatures game design as an engineering exercise: pare down the decision cycle to the things that best evoke the aspects to be simulated; abstract the aspects that lend atmosphere but don't need detailed decision trees; ignore the rest.

That article by Lewis Pulsipher is an excellent analysis, and describes what I see around me too. In my area we're decidedly short of gamers willing to study a game (or maybe just gamers who agree on which games to study); games have to be learnable in a few turns and masterable in a single play session, or they get dropped. Most of the players are quite gray, too, so this isn't just the inconstancy of youth.

- Ix

Garth in the Park22 Feb 2016 2:29 p.m. PST

Maybe the cows are laying down the law?

Rick Don Burnette22 Feb 2016 3:46 p.m. PST

As to war game design we might get at a reading list that includes not only Featherstone and Young, but also Griffith, Sabin, Phillies, even Dunnigan Perhaps Bill H aka Mcladdie could put together a volume. The semi Socratic give and take on this site defeats any thorough discussion
It's like trying to settled a complex issue in an email, not enough space.
And game designers will reinvent the wheel. Case in point The new Team Yankee At a recent convention I mentioned the Frank Chadwick game of the 1980s that was based on the same novel as the new TY and even though there were older gamers none could recall the Chadwick game, indeed only a few had first hand knowledge of the Coyle novel
And I posted to the Modern Board this with someone objecting to Chadwicks missile stats, with my observation that those stats Frank used then were the stats then, asking if we should have the new TY reflect the stats they supposed then, in the novel, or use the now declassified or updated stats of today. Indeed if we take Brian Stokes Tank Charts of the 1970s well we wouldn't be using his data anymore than we would the inferred data from Red Storm Rising. Would we update them to be realistic in light of the current data or use the original data? If we u see e the updated data will we still have a Coyle TY?
And there's also the problem of mixing levels of command. Are you a tank commander or a platoon leader or a company commander or several at the same time Griffith wrote on this
And the D6 lacking that ability to introduce a finer granularity Why does TY use d6?
And the excessive casualties with the winner suffering 80% the loser above 90% a throwback to many miniatures games of the 1970s and 80s

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2016 5:50 p.m. PST

If we want to improve game design for our hobby, we can't continue to think in the same way about it. We will have to improve how we think about how to do it: how to do it better and differently, which is what improvement is, whether thinking or designing.

Historical Wargaming has elements in it that are unique in game design, and any number that are shared.

Rick points out one of the differences with the missile stats. The historical sources improve and change with new discoveries, new history. The rules for Monopoly don't need to be updated because of some new information developed in Economics. You just change the flavor to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or a different city like Paris or London.

So, the research that went into say, Empire in the 1980s can be outdated or wrong thirty years later. It happens to authors of history books all the time.

Certainly what a majority of gamers like will change over time, but that is another issue.

Lewis talked about 'deeper games' being those with many more layers of decisions within decisions compared to designs where the players have fewer, but more decisive decisions. [Of course, in simpler games, decisions will be more decisive because there are fewer of them.]

Some wargame designers have called decision-heavy systems 'process-oriented' games vs fewer decisions 'results-oriented' games, one being very complex compared to the other. This is a rather confusing distinction because every single game process has its own paired result. A game system can't be result-oriented. It will always have a process complementing it. It is a lot more practical to simply talk about the number and kinds of decisions participants are asked to make in a turn or game.

There is an example of where "terms" get in the way of comprehension when poorly applied.

Tony suggested the 'deeper' a wargame is, the better it portrays history and military operations. He pointed out that Bolt Action doesn't provide for a basic element in platoon tactics: Supporting fire and movement by platoon elements whereas Chain of Command does.

That appears to be true regardless of which set of rules you prefer, nor is it an indication of which system you *should* prefer. It just is.

Now, the question for those of us that are interested in designing games, is why that difference when both are platoon-level games?

It could be for any of the following reasons [or ones I haven't thought of]. The designers of BA:

1. Were unaware of that basic element of WWII tactics.
2. Chose to ignore it to focus on other basic elements.
3. Believe they captured the 'results' of such tactics
without portraying them.
4. Chose to ignore it altogether because it created too much complexity and a fun game was the primary focus.

I am sure we can all think of hobby wargames where each of those design choices seem to have been made and where wargamers enjoy playing them.

Now without sounding too 'indifferent', any of those approaches are the designer's choice and obviously have been the basis for popular and unpopular rules. In talking about game design, it is just a matter of which approach the designer chose and more importantly how he designed around that choice. And we would be more interested in success than those that died by the wayside. However, to do that, we need to avoid judging one choice as bad or good because it gets in the way of the conversation.

The only 'bad' thing about such a choice is when a designer claims to have chosen one approach, but succeeded in another, or keeps worse it a secret, letting players believe the game succeeds at whichever approach a particular player wants--it does promise to sell more games.

Any number of designers are upfront about which option they have chosen for a particular set of rules. Others aren't, let alone how they achieved their particular design goals.

That makes it difficult to talk about some rules.

Rick asks several about Team Yankee. The questions are what choices did the designer make regarding the data used, the mixing of levels of command, the use of the D6 or the casualty rate. All of those design decisions flow from the first four listed above. Only the designer can answer those questions without guessing.

Wolfhag24 Feb 2016 10:15 a.m. PST

McLaddie,
Regarding Bolt Action. I don't think they had any desire to further war game design. The Italian guy in the videos who developed it states he knows little or nothing about WWII, he did 40K. I think BA is an excellent example of marketing a game to a good chunk of the war gaming community. Especially with the miniatures and eye candy. Their products are first class. The dice pull is a somewhat innovative and playable idea. Other than that everything else is dumbed down. Despite that is gives a good feel and an enjoyable game for many players. Just not me.

Innovation and new ideas seems to continue along the same lines, tricky activation mechanics and die roll modifiers. I think we are limited by the "tools" in the hobby: dice, cards and charts. It's hard to get more detail and "realism" without additional steps or complicating things.

It would be great if a company could come out with a line of miniatures or play aids that are integrated into the miniature. Something like Heroclix maybe? The base could show the posture/movement of the figure or vehicle.

3D printing shows a lot of promise but other than printing traditional miniatures I have not seen anything. The new laser cut buildings with removable roofs and floors are great.

One area I'd like to see would be in the area of hidden deployment and more of a FOW as to where units are. I know this is something near and dear to your heart.

Miniature GPS devices show promise. Some are small enough to attach to a 20mm miniature vehicle. If the locations could be shown on a digitized image of the playing surface on an iPad that would be pretty cool.

I use miniature Blue Tooth speakers around the table to generate gunfire and artillery sounds. They can be operated from my cell phone. I picked up the speakers for $2.00 USD each. I've tried to put one inside of a 28mm vehicle but so far am unsuccessful. We have a Sherman with speakers mounted on it and wanted to use it like Kelly's Heroes.

I use movement markers to show the speed and direction a vehicle is moving. When it comes to the movement phase we have simultaneous movement and players must move their units in the direction of the arrow, not wait to see where their opponent is moving. It really speeds up the game. Nothing real innovative but it works.

I like detailed tank gunnery but don't like endless rolling, multiple modifiers and multiple charts to look up. I use a fairly simple accuracy system (no math or die roll modifiers) that determines the direction and distance a round disperses. By aiming at a scaled image of a target I get the hit location and armor value and system behind armor (ammo, fuel, engine, crew) is shown visually with no additional die rolls. Included are weak spots like hull MG locations and turret rings. If close enough the player can aim at these weak spots and have a fair chance of hitting them. This is nothing earth shattering but integrating pre-generated armor values for horizontal and vertical angles for all aspects and showing the systems damaged is only being done in video games.

It eliminates additional die rolls and charts to determine hit location and system damage. The best part is it delivers a visual result of the shot like a video game. You are aiming at a real image of the target, not rolling the dice to see if you "hit" or not. I can include areas where there is spaced armor and locations where the armor angle is large enough to ricochet the round. It's so simple even a Marine Grunt can do it.

Wolfhag

Yellow Admiral24 Feb 2016 5:18 p.m. PST

McLaddie said:

Some wargame designers have called decision-heavy systems 'process-oriented' games vs fewer decisions 'results-oriented' games, one being very complex compared to the other. This is a rather confusing distinction because every single game process has its own paired result. A game system can't be result-oriented. It will always have a process complementing it.
No.

You're conflating game processes and battle processes. The term "process-oriented" refers to the processes being simulated, not to the mechanics used to play the game. In wargame design terms, "process-oriented" means "simulating the processes that cause battle events" and "results-oriented" means "simulating the results of battle events".

Process-oriented design typically features more mechanics than results-oriented design, probably because wargames use results-oriented mechanics to streamline or speed up play, but that isn't necessarily the case. For instance, an order-transmitting system where you just write out the order, move a courier miniature across the table until he reaches the subordinate, then have the subordinate follow the new orders to the letter would be extremely process-oriented and mechanically simplistic. Contrast that with the very popular Warmaster-style system (BP, HC, BKC, etc.), which is mechanically heavier (test every move until one fails) but much more results-oriented (the player neither knows nor cares how the orders got there, what they said, how they were interpreted, if it's a spontaneous decision without orders, etc., just whether the subordinate gets to make another move).

Of course, the distinction between "process-oriented" and "results-oriented" is a sliding scale, not a binary switch. All games are necessarily results-oriented at some level. If you tried to simulate every step of a process, you couldn't even complete a game about making a sandwich in a reasonable time frame.

- Ix

Anthropicus25 Feb 2016 3:06 p.m. PST

Another way I've heard that described is bottom-up versus top-down design. Do you start by adding details until you have enough that you get the outcome you desire, or do you start with the big picture and carve out mechanics until have a game?

Both approaches have their strengths and weaknesses. If your details aren't a good model of reality then it doesn't matter how many you pile on top of each other – garbage in, garbage out. If your top-down model is too simplistic, then the simulation value can be too narrow and lead to strange results outside of the designer's focus.

The biggest risk with top-down designs is the collision between player expectation and intentional abstraction. Players aren't designers, and when they see something happening on the table that wouldn't happen with a more classic bottom-up design they can be quick to judge, even if the final result is accurate.

Garth in the Park25 Feb 2016 4:55 p.m. PST

Process-oriented design typically features more mechanics than results-oriented design…

…Players aren't designers, and when they see something happening on the table that wouldn't happen with a more classic bottom-up design they can be quick to judge, even if the final result is accurate.

I was a playtester for a Russian front boardgame. The designers had a system for calculating the stompy value of tank units vs the AT value of infantry units so that there was a sense that having better tanks was better, but having better AT defended the infantry better against tanks, and so on. There was a process of comparing one vs. the other, and then that gave you what column to use in the CRT.

At some point they figured out that it wasn't really adding or determining anything. As the war progressed tanks got bigger and meaner, but AT weapons also increased in effectiveness and usually kept pace. So 90% of the time you were getting the same basic effect of tank-vs-infantry, whether you were playing in 1941 or 1945. The designers therefore took that sub-process out.

Even among the playtesters – who presumably had been paying attention and should have known why it was taken out – this was a really unpopular decision. Most thought that "period flavor" had been lost. They wanted to go back to that pointless process of comparing the tank's value vs. the AT value, just to get the exact same result they could have gotten if they'd skipped the whole process altogether.

How do you explain something like that? The results – with the mechanic or without it – were identical. But the players just wanted the process. Just going through that process "felt right" to them, even though it didn't add or change anything. Getting rid of the process "felt wrong," even though the designer had explained why it wasn't necessary and didn't change anything.

It made me realize that games are about the playing experience more than anything else. They're not really about the results or any sort of historical verity, and they definitely aren't about the designer's intent. The players come in with their preconceptions and those probably won't change.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2016 6:39 p.m. PST

Regarding Bolt Action. I don't think they had any desire to further war game design. The Italian guy in the videos who developed it states he knows little or nothing about WWII, he did 40K. I think BA is an excellent example of marketing a game to a good chunk of the war gaming community. Especially with the miniatures and eye candy. Their products are first class. The dice pull is a somewhat innovative and playable idea. Other than that everything else is dumbed down. Despite that is gives a good feel and an enjoyable game for many players. Just not me.

Wolfie:

Well, there you have it. I never had any intention of designing a WWII wargame that actually simulated anything. That's okay. It's still a wargame and obviously any number of gamers like it. I think it is to the hobby's benefit that the designer is upfront about what the game was designed to do… and not do. The dice pull is innovative, but as far as I can tell, not having played BA, I don't see it representing anything historical either.

Personally, I shudder when someone says a game has a ‘good feel' or ‘feel right' etc. etc. Certainly folks can have those feelings and they can be a major reason for playing a game. No problem. But what that means in practical terms is anyone guess when it comes to representing history and military operations. How do you design for someone's ‘feelings'? It ends up sort of like the definition for pornography: "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I feel it."

Innovation and new ideas seems to continue along the same lines, tricky activation mechanics and die roll modifiers. I think we are limited by the "tools" in the hobby: dice, cards and charts. It's hard to get more detail and "realism" without additional steps or complicating things.

Well, miniature units and a tabletop are limits to what can be done to some extent, as are the current game tools. However, those are being reinvented all the time. You gave some great examples. Sometimes it is just a matter of using old tools in new ways.

You do see more innovation outside our small wargame hobby simply because there are more experienced designers working, communicating with a great deal more money to work with. Our hobby can certainly take advantage of that. One of the more powerful things they have developed that we haven't is a common technical language.

McLaddie

Anthropicus25 Feb 2016 9:29 p.m. PST

Garth in the Park – For sure, that's a perfect example of that difficulty. I don't take the same lesson from it, I think it is possible to have something more results and simulation oriented, it just makes it harder to also meet player expectations. And it's harder to make it fun. It's certainly not the player's fault.

Though I think it's also worth noticing that when you actually do have a system like armour penetration which does map tightly to a gameplay mechanic like dice rolls that it's a really hard thing to let it go. And you have to do more work to justify it.

Rick Don Burnette25 Feb 2016 9:54 p.m. PST

Wolfe
If the designer of BA said on YouTube that he didn't know much about WW2, then where did the sidebars, the historical commentary and those OOBs and weapons stats come from or are the discussions about automatic rifles and the T34 just made up, I mean where did he get those ideas about grenade usage and weapon ranges? Indeed, the designer at the beginning of the rule book said in the Introduction that, and I'm paraphrasing, while its a game, the gamers are supposed to be set into the same frame as the actual or real troops were, to recreate the circumstances in which these battlefield decisions were made, indeed, to have your realistically and eat it with your game fork Alice in Wonderland like. The Introduction has all the marks of a game designer who wants a game that is inspired or feels like the real thing but is still a game
Talk about a throwback
Not only do we have d6, turn alternating stop and go traditional turns, figures on the table seen but not spotted, the cute Ambush, well painted figures being handled, not unlike someone using mint coins to buy coffee but the quite I relevant discussions of history that is in the game as if getting the weapons ranges right as an example would improve the game historical realism in light of all of the other hilarious so called realism. Yes kids, with WW2, the third act has got to go, it's depressing, they're losing the war, but we've got to balance everything to include Bahrain and Berlin
Indeed. Bill, I had thought that at least the use of D10 in both TY and BA would have given the designer flexibility the use of a modigie f variable length bound an innovation, or the abstraction of the individual pieces into larger organization to reduce the mixed command perspectives issue, but Nooo, we backtrack, not for realism sake but because the designer doesn't know and has to reinvent the wheel. For all of Chadwicks or Mirada or Barkers or Dunnigan failings. They have progressed from the cart to the Chevy. The designers of TY and BA have not done the game design homework
As far as the history goes, how ever so irrelevant

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP25 Feb 2016 11:00 p.m. PST

Garth:

I agree. It is about the experience and I can explain it. It is a very common phenomena among simulation designers and game designers:

Sam M. related a similar experience when he was still on TMP. He designed a Pacific War game. In it there was an air combat process between US and Japanese planes [F-4s and Zeros IIRC] which involved several die rolls. No comments whatsoever from play-testers. He realized that he could get the very same range of results with just one die roll. After the change, those very same play-testers complained that it didn't 'feel right', that it wasn't 'historical'.

There are several, interconnected reasons why those play-testers wanted that process. It has to do with how simulations and games work. It is how that ‘magic circle' that designers talk about is created. Wargames and simulations are "guided pretending."

1. It has to do with how 'pretending' works, that suspending of disbelief and imagination we wargamers enjoy in playing.

Creating the conditions for that is something that novelists, movie-makers, any story-teller--and game-makers all are interested in--especially participatory simulation designers.

One reason wargamers enjoy playing wargames is ‘to feel and act as if it is real.' In the case of a wargame designed to actually portray reality in some way, the connections between the 'feeling', ‘acting' and reality have to be established.

2. So, how is that established for the participant? By details. by information. In game play, it has to be about the mechanics.

Simulations only work if the players can connect the game play to ‘reality.' That requires details, a coherent narrative based on the real world. Wargames, both board and miniatures use fairly abstract mechanics which make the connecting details all the more important if players are going to ‘get into it' as intended.

If I know nothing about the actual events and the game is not designed to represent reality in anyway, then the player is free to pretend whatever he wants to and the game still works. So, Chutes and Ladders and Bolt Action work as games. It isn't as much the designer ‘dumbing down' play as simply not designing a simulation of any sort. Any detail/flavor is very general and provided by the board and game pieces… not the mechanics.

Not so with simulations.

3. The designs don't work as well as they should unless the players know what they are simulating, what the very specific guided pretending is illustrating. They need the details and connections to history. That is either what they already know about history and military operations [i.e. pre-conceptions] or it is what the designer knew and based his wargame on. Guess which players have to know to 'simulate' what the designer intended?

When gamers engage in a wargame intended to recreate real military operations with cardboard and lead figures, they are far more focused on specific pretending. They want to know, what they need to know ‘what is really happening and why' visa vie history for them to ‘get into the simulating.'

And what pops them out of that make-believe? ‘why is that?' or ‘that doesn't make any sense to me' responses to game play. You felt the play-testers should have assumed why the changes were made. Why should they? They didn't know by just looking at the simplified, abstract mechanic what the designer intended historically.

And that was their problem. They knew more about what was happening historically with the extended mechanics, but not what the designer knew then he eliminated them from the design.

"Period Flavor" comes from details, knowing what the game play says about the historical narrative. Because game designers provide so little of that connecting detail between the mechanics and history, many gamers want information, need information about what's going on: how is the game recreating the historical conditions.

The trick, like movies or novels, is to provide enough details and narrative to guide the pretending in a historical direction without miring it down in too much or counter-productive details.

They're not really about the results or any sort of historical verity, and they definitely aren't about the designer's intent. The players come in with their preconceptions and those probably won't change.

If all they have is their own knowledge/preconceptions, why should anyone be surprised that they stick with them?
They rely on what they know when faced with the typical information vacuum left by wargame designers.

The military realized very quickly whether flight or urban tactical training, participants had to know in considerable detail what was and wasn't being simulated before the experience worked as simulations for the participants. That doesn't mean they had to be educated to fly or in urban tactics, only what the simulation modeled of reality…and what it didn't.

It sounds like the game designer of Russian Front didn't explain the change until sometime after the resistance popped up and probably not in any historical detail. For the players, it was like cutting out part of the story they actually understood and replacing it with a comparative abstraction they could ‘pretend with.'

It all depends on what the wargamers want from their game experience and how the design provides it.

McLaddie

Garth in the Park26 Feb 2016 6:54 a.m. PST

It sounds like the game designer of Russian Front didn't explain the change until sometime after the resistance popped up and probably not in any historical detail. For the players, it was like cutting out part of the story they actually understood and replacing it with a comparative abstraction they could ‘pretend with.'

It wasn't the old AH Russian Front game; this was an operational level game they were pitching for GMT.

Anyway, the designers and play testers did discuss it. I think it was even one of the play testers who pointed out that you'd get the same CRT column in most cases when tank units attacked infantry units, whether you had the sub-process or not. So there was in fact discussion about whether it was necessary.

The sub-process would have worked if you took 1941 tanks and put them against 1944 AT guns, because then you'd have a dramatic difference. But that never happened in the war, so it never happened in the game, either.

But once the sub-process was removed, people didn't like the fact that it was gone. They enjoyed the process. Just going through those motions of doing a pointless thing made the game "feel" more historical to them. Even though most of them understood it was pointless.

I was all in favor of dropping it, simply because doing so saved time. But I was in the minority.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2016 7:43 a.m. PST

They enjoyed the process. Just going through those motions of doing a pointless thing made the game "feel" more historical to them. Even though most of them understood it was pointless.

Yeah. I was simply explaining why it was enjoyable. If you are going to successfully suspend disbelief, pretend, acting 'as if it were real', it will be by 'going through the right motions.'

We all are good at and enjoy pretending. Kids don't have to be taught. We do it whenever we watch a movie, read a novel. We get into that mode where that made up world 'feels real.' Many go to the game table for the same reason.

And as adults, we tend to know what we need to create that 'magic circle.' We also tend to unconsciously know what we need, what to reasonably expect when venturing into 'guided pretending' where game experiences are 'engineered' to relate to the real world in specific ways. Similar to the expectations of reading a historical novel compared to one that isn't.

The more abstract the game, the harder it is. Thus games with few mechanics, fewer game decisions, less information can make it harder.

For the play-testers, that was what the designer was doing by eliminating the tank/AT-gun process. It is obvious to me that the game was not providing enough details for their 'pretending' if they missed that 'pointless' game process.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2016 8:27 a.m. PST

YA:
I was speaking about "Some wargame designers have called decision-heavy systems 'process-oriented' games vs fewer decisions 'results-oriented' games." But you've pointed up another issue with the terms: Everyone seems to have their own personal definitions.

Anthropicus provided another version with the top-down, bottom up designs. I don't know about you, but I have sat through discussions between game designers all contending over whose definition was ‘right' or which to use, never getting to a discussion of game design itself. A technical term is one that all parties agree on and is clear enough so that anyone can look at a game [in this case] and recognize what it describes.

You have raised an issue that is intrinsic to wargames: How the game mechanic works itself vs what it is or isn't supposed to represent. Two different, if related issues.

Process-oriented design typically features more mechanics than results-oriented design, probably because wargames use results-oriented mechanics to streamline or speed up play, but that isn't necessarily the case.

Okay, so the more or less mechanics/decisions can fit, just not necessarily?

For instance, an order-transmitting system where you just write out the order, move a courier miniature across the table until he reaches the subordinate, then have the subordinate follow the new orders to the letter would be extremely process-oriented and mechanically simplistic.

How is something extremely process-oriented, but mechanically simplistic? The mechanics in a game system are what the players have to do to play it, right? The order-transmitting system doesn't sound simplistic. The Warhammer order transmission system is so simplistic as to be ignored…about as simplistic as you can get.

Contrast that with the very popular Warmaster-style system (BP, HC, BKC, etc.), which is mechanically heavier (test every move until one fails) but much more results-oriented (the player neither knows nor cares how the orders got there, what they said, how they were interpreted, if it's a spontaneous decision without orders, etc., just whether the subordinate gets to make another move).

The mechanically heavier [lots of dice rolling] system is more result-oriented because of what the player cares about? In all cases, the game is going to have a cause and effect relationship for every mechanic. The game tells the player what to care about. In Warmaster he cares about the odds of continuing to have his command move. In the other, he cares about that courier figure and the order reaching the subordinate without a lot of dice rolling. In both cases, the results are the players' commands move or they don't.

Is one results oriented if both take the same amount of time to resolve? Could it simply be what part of reality the designer wanted to focus on rather than 'results' over 'process?' The Combat system for Warmaster-style games, there are still lots of processing of combat on top of the movement. Can a game contain a lot of processing and still be 'results' oriented?

Of course, the distinction between "process-oriented" and "results-oriented" is a sliding scale, not a binary switch. All games are necessarily results-oriented at some level. If you tried to simulate every step of a process, you couldn't even complete a game about making a sandwich in a reasonable time frame.

The how do you make the distinction? Can I tell where the simpler Volley & Bayonet or Snappy Nappy fits on that sliding scale compared to say Black Powder,Age of Eagles,Empire or Napoleon's Battles?

Is that based on overall simplicity or complexity? On the heaviness/lightness of the combined mechanics? Or perhaps what is or isn't portrayed? Or is it the scale at which it is portrayed? Or is it based on whether it is designed top down vs bottom up?

If we can all place them in the same positions on that sliding scale for the same reasons, then we might have a set of technical terms for process-oriented and results-oriented.
Then they can be used in discussing game design with some clarity. Personally, I think the phrases themselves make it difficult and lead folks to think about games in less than useful ways regardless of the actual definition.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2016 8:53 a.m. PST


If the designer of BA said on YouTube that he didn't know much about WW2, then where did the sidebars, the historical commentary and those OOBs and weapons stats come from or are the discussions about automatic rifles and the T34 just made up, I mean where did he get those ideas about grenade usage and weapon ranges?

Yeah, where did he get them? OR did he simply make up whatever 'felt' right and made for a good game and then justify them later? Who knows? Wargamers are great at justifying game mechanics after the fact, particularly in the information vacuum usually accompanying a design. Obviously, the gamers who play BA care or there wouldn't be those discussions--or side bars.

Indeed, the designer at the beginning of the rule book said in the Introduction that, and I'm paraphrasing, while its a game, the gamers are supposed to be set into the same frame as the actual or real troops were, to recreate the circumstances in which these battlefield decisions were made, indeed, to have your realistically and eat it with your game fork Alice in Wonderland like.

Yep. Alice wondering in Wonderland is an apt analogy.

The Introduction has all the marks of a game designer who wants a game that is inspired or feels like the real thing but is still a game.

So the designer, admitting he knows little about WWII wanted the players to be inspired or feel like it is the real thing, but still be a game. So how close to actual history are those gamer experiences, those feelings? Where? How is it done? Sidebars and feelings?

And we wonder why discussions about wargame design are so difficult/confusing.

Weasel26 Feb 2016 11:20 a.m. PST

I'll add in that a game aimed at emulating "Saving Private Ryan" or "Band of Brothers" is as legit a game, provided the author is up front that we're emulating war movies rather than anything else.

That's not a comment on Bolt Action (which I've never played), just adding a bit of observation.

Yellow Admiral26 Feb 2016 11:23 a.m. PST

How do you explain something like that? The results – with the mechanic or without it – were identical. But the players just wanted the process. Just going through that process "felt right" to them, even though it didn't add or change anything. Getting rid of the process "felt wrong," even though the designer had explained why it wasn't necessary and didn't change anything.
Nice anecdote.

We don't play wargames just for the results. One could determine the results of any battle by rolling off with a single die each, no miniatures necessary. However, that removes the player's influence from the outcome. The process matters.

If your summary is correct and the process of indexing AT vs. Panzerstärke (tank strength) was deterministic, but the playtesters insisted it was necessary to the "feel" of the game, then the real solution should probably have been to make the process less deterministic and allow the players some influence over its outcome. I don't know about anybody else, but I am extremely annoyed by rules that use me as a robot. My role as player is to influence the outcome of events, not just enact the game designer's will on my table. Rules that underutilize my brain lose my interest quickly.

- Ix

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2016 12:31 p.m. PST

I'll add in that a game aimed at emulating "Saving Private Ryan" or "Band of Brothers" is as legit a game, provided the author is up front that we're emulating war movies rather than anything else.

Weasel:
Yes, that isn't a comment on the 'rightness' of the subject matter or which designs gamers *should* enjoy. There is not right or wrong in those choices. Gamers are free to find fun where they want to in our hobby.

What is wrong is when the designer claims the wargame does things, provides the player with experiences, it was never designed to. That is simply false advertising.

Weasel26 Feb 2016 12:44 p.m. PST

Yah, I wasn't coming at you specifically, just wanted to throw in another perspective.

A superhero came can be a stringent simulation, but the source material for that simulation is obviously very different :-)

Yellow Admiral26 Feb 2016 2:41 p.m. PST

YA:
I was speaking about "Some wargame designers have called decision-heavy systems 'process-oriented' games vs fewer decisions 'results-oriented' games." But you've pointed up another issue with the terms: Everyone seems to have their own personal definitions.
I am unaware of any formal definitions for wargame design. I'm merely relying on logic and English language skills, which is how such terms are initially generated. It seems to me the terms "process oriented" and "results oriented" are simply English prosaic descriptions of the approach emphasized for a given game mechanic, or (often) the game as a gestalt.

The number of decisions is orthogonal to either the results or the process, so it doesn't make any sense to say that "process-oriented = more decisions" and "results-oriented = fewer decisions". I think the fact that more process-oriented games typically have more decisions is a reflection of the use of the mechanics, not a guaranteed result.

How is something extremely process-oriented, but mechanically simplistic? The mechanics in a game system are what the players have to do to play it, right? The order-transmitting system doesn't sound simplistic.
I don't understand the confusion. :-)

On the face of it, the couriers are mechanically simpler, because all you do is write orders and move a few courier miniatures every time you move your other miniatures. Not much to do.

The Warmaster system requires testing every unit's move with a die roll, and there are branching decisions about which units to test, how to modify each test, and what order to make tests, etc. That's mechanically more complicated.

BTW, I agree the Warmaster system is not complicated because I'm a veteran wargamer like you, but it has more formal mechanics than the Strawman Courier Rules™ I made up to illustrate my point.

Also, an excessively process-oriented system like my scarecrow couriers will eventually become way more mechanically complex, as rules are added to define the process better. (E.g.: First, the rule that couriers have to touch generals because they can't "just shout". Next, generals can't move to meet couriers even if "they could see them coming". Then, couriers no longer count as lost because of random events like the time the host's cat batted one down the heating vent, so no, you can't steal other players' couriers even if that would be "just as realistic as a giant cat". Then the limit of one courier per order because everybody sends every order by 10 couriers via different routes. Then the limit on how long orders can be because everyone now spends 30 minutes carefully wording his after the last "misinterpration" argument. Then the courier morale rules to stop them from riding right through enemy fire zones. Etc. ad absurdum.).

Then how do you make the distinction?[…]

Is that based on overall simplicity or complexity? On the heaviness/lightness of the combined mechanics? Or perhaps what is or isn't portrayed? Or is it the scale at which it is portrayed? Or is it based on whether it is designed top down vs bottom up?

No, it's based on whether the rules are ignoring the actual process or simulating it.

A more "process-oriented" mechanic has actual mechanics simulating actual events, like a courier figure physically moving across a battlefield while avoiding terrain, death, capture, and giant cats to deliver actual written orders to a subordinate officer figure.

A more "results-oriented" system ignores the process and tests only for the results, like the Warmasterish roll-per-move test, PIP dice in DBx systems, the General de Brigade "roll to change one order" test, etc.

Can I tell where the simpler Volley & Bayonet or Snappy Nappy fits on that sliding scale compared to say Black Powder,Age of Eagles,Empire or Napoleon's Battles?

When I said "sliding scale" I didn't literally mean a graduated scale with increments marked on it. I'm not sure why you'd "measure" rules for "orientation" anyway. The terms "process oriented" and "results oriented" are just philosophical statements describing the reasoning behind mechanics.

- Ix

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP26 Feb 2016 10:35 p.m. PST

I am unaware of any formal definitions for wargame design.

YA:
Thank you for the explanations. They have helped. To start with, I don't favor some particular definition of the process/results-oriented games, so I am not arguing for one over the other. I am simply saying that to be useful in describing games and thus designing them, the terms have to be moved from the philosophical to the literal because game systems and game mechanics are literal in their processes and procedures: what they do and what players do to play them are literal, not philosophical.

I'm not sure what would constitute a formal definition, but I do know of a number of commonly-shared definitions. For instance, any game or participatory simulation designer would know what is meant by 'the magic circle.' Another is 'scaffolding', referring to the parts of a simulation game that help make the simulation work though, but are not part of what is being simulated. [such as dice] I wasn't suggesting we all need to incorporate a particular set of terms, only that without specific, shared meanings, it is hard to discuss wargame design. It ends up a philosophical debate about semantics.

I'm merely relying on logic and English language skills, which is how such terms are initially generated. It seems to me the terms "process oriented" and "results oriented" are simply English prosaic descriptions of the approach emphasized for a given game mechanic, or (often) the game as a gestalt.

And I was pointing out that however logical your terms are, they are shared by our hobby or wargame design community… in fact, just between the posters here, we have three different descriptions. They each remain very personal, or shared by a small group rather than the hobby.

The number of decisions is orthogonal to either the results or the process, so it doesn't make any sense to say that "process-oriented = more decisions" and "results-oriented = fewer decisions".

I wasn't arguing for that meaning, only pointing out that "some wargame designers' see it that way.

Here's another term: Any game process [however long or light] and the result that doesn't involve a player decision is called "an administrative task." Too many of those kill a game or simulation. So there could be lots of processes without any player decisions.

I think the fact that more process-oriented games typically have more decisions is a reflection of the use of the mechanics, not a guaranteed result.

So, by saying it is orthogonal, you mean there is no relationship between the number of player decisions in the system and the number of game processes?

I don't understand the confusion. :-)
On the face of it, the couriers are mechanically simpler, because all you do is write orders and move a few courier miniatures every time you move your other miniatures. Not much to do.

That's okay. It's my confusion. ;-7

The Warmaster system requires testing every unit's move with a die roll, and there are branching decisions about which units to test, how to modify each test, and what order to make tests, etc. That's mechanically more complicated.

Well, obviously I am not clear about what you are saying. Warmaster is more complicated both by branching decisions and mechanically? Are you referring to the whole process of generating orders with a system using couriers?

BTW, I agree the Warmaster system is not complicated because I'm a veteran wargamer like you, but it has more formal mechanics than the Strawman Courier Rules™ I made up to illustrate my point.

Well, we can use an actual set of rules that includes couriers if that would help.

No, it's based on whether the rules are ignoring the actual process or simulating it.

Okay. It is my understanding that Warmaster command systems and those like it such as Black Powder were simulating the actual process. The designer of Warmaster states: [page 6 of the rules]

The most important aspect of the game is the role allotted to the armies' commanders. Warmaster is based around the ability of generals and their subordinate commanders to control the action around them.

So, the designer certainly isn't ignoring the command process or the events. He further explains:

In the game this is accomplished by dice rolls but in reality we might picture the general and his staff bent over maps, eagerly awaiting word from their subordinates, reading reports of the distant fighting and dispatching messengers with fresh orders.

The designer certainly hasn't ignored those aspects, but made it the most important aspect of the game.

A more "process-oriented" mechanic has actual mechanics simulating actual events, like a courier figure physically moving across a battlefield while avoiding terrain, death, capture, and giant cats to deliver actual written orders to a subordinate officer figure.

The designer of Warmaster wasn't trying to simulate actual events? He says he is. So, if a designer chooses to represent some of those various events physically on the table mentioned by the designer above, that makes it process oriented? How many need to be included to make a 'process-oriented' game?

A more "results-oriented" system ignores the process and tests only for the results, like the Warmasterish roll-per-move test, PIP dice in DBx systems, the General de Brigade "roll to change one order" test, etc.

The difference appears to be one of simply more detail vs less. [Not a criticism] The same things are supposedly being simulated, only with more detail in one [which I see as invariably involve more processes AND results] and less in the other, which I would think includes Warmaster type games. They aren't ignoring or including different things, but attempting to simulate the same events in different ways.

If I use one die-roll to move a courier across the table for each order [Let's say 4 for argument's sake], how is that more process-oriented than rolling the dice the same number times to establish the same result? Note that the players experience all the events described above with a courier system.

When I said "sliding scale" I didn't literally mean a graduated scale with increments marked on it. I'm not sure why you'd "measure" rules for "orientation" anyway. The terms "process oriented" and "results oriented" are just philosophical statements describing the reasoning behind mechanics.

To move that 'sliding scale' from the philosophical to the practical, useful understandings, means to move it to the literal. We would have to know how to rank the games on that scale [it is a scale, right? To measure the quality or quantity of things?] If the terms remain philosophical--meaning we can't logically place the games on that scale with any agreement using the meanings you or any others give--the scales and terms aren't particularly useful in practical terms as either terms or a measure/description--of those games.

As I said, I don't favor any particular version of the process-results definitions and design comparisons, but I sure want whatever they are to be useful in designing games which have concrete mechanics that produce very specific game processes and results. This particularly true if they are designed to represent something of reality.

Best Regards, McLaddie

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP27 Feb 2016 11:17 a.m. PST

I don't know about anybody else, but I am extremely annoyed by rules that use me as a robot. My role as player is to influence the outcome of events, not just enact the game designer's will on my table. Rules that underutilize my brain lose my interest quickly.

Just an aside:

I agree. Taking too many or the wrong decisions away from the players is a serious game design problem.

That interaction to game events is what games are all about. Sid Meiers calls games 'a series of interesting decisions.'

A 'result-oriented' game [if I understand your useage] which ignores events as noted above can thus hurt a game and simulation if done wrong. It certainly can hurt the ability of players to immerse themselves in the game as well as the games' ability to simulate for the players.

Ottoathome29 Feb 2016 12:04 a.m. PST

Any "improvement" in war game design must be measured by observable results. That is what you get out of it compared to the work you put into it. Being a capitalist I believe in the most bang for the buck. That is, the most fun for the least work.

Saturday we had the second game in our "Imagi-Nation" 18th century campaign, it was The Battle of the Bois Hardi (or Fleu-deCoupe depending on your side). It was a mid range sized battle, went on for six hours. It had over 200 figures per side, came to a definite conclusion, and was a whopping good time.

In the game players had a large number of decisions to make and puzzled over them intently. They had several strategies they could implement, and they debated them constantly. They did not argue the rules, but over what to do on the table top. It was exciting and tense, and all the time everyone was laughing and joking and eagerly fighting the battle. I had to shut the lights out in the game room to get them to come out to dinner. After dinner we took it up again for a short while to do a few more things and then the self-justification, redefinition, and excuse phase began, which were also intensely enjoyable. There was no recrimination or acrimonious argument phase.

After that, the players had to give me their intentions for the NEXT phase of the campaign. Took ten minutes. Again a lot of politicking and a lot of "surprises" when some players did not fall for the blandishments of others. Lots of decisions. Everyone is eager to see the next battle, where something of a grand crusade is taking place against the country of Ikea.

The players have hit on the old idea that attacking a non-player country is a good idea. They have forgotten that these people work for the umpire.

Everyone had fun.

The campaign was fought with a eight page campaign system and a twelve page rule book. They had a monstrously fine time. Successful rules, better rules, put the decisions in the hands of the players and lets them do almost anything they want, and with a minimum of verbiage.


That's what war gaming is supposed to be like. I realized this, as umpire, when I sat there on the couch watching the guys play quite well on their own with only the occasional yea or nay needed from me on an arcane point that this is the way the games should be.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2016 8:26 a.m. PST

Any "improvement" in war game design must be measured by observable results.

I totally agree.

That is what you get out of it compared to the work you put into it. Being a capitalist I believe in the most bang for the buck. That is, the most fun for the least work.

Well, that would depend on the economics of your fun.

Weasel29 Feb 2016 8:47 a.m. PST

From each according to their design skills, to each according to their gaming table?

Wolfhag29 Feb 2016 9:15 a.m. PST

I think the vast majority of people that play miniatures the fun and experience is in the visuals created by the figures, vehicles and terrain. The actual rules can be secondary. I think this is especially true for people with an average or minimal knowledge of the historical and technical aspect of the game. There is nothing wrong with that.

I see this at conventions. We have a guy that has the most beautiful and realistic terrain and figures. He plays a set of rules that are so simple a 9 year old can walk up and start playing. It's an IGOUGO version of move-move, move-shoot, shoot-move or shot-shoot. There is some player decision involved which is important. No opportunity fire, reaction, over watch, etc. The rules work for WWII, Cowboys & Aliens, or spears or & bows. People have a great time because there is lots of action and great visual stimulus including a dead miniature for all killed figures.

When I play test WWII tactical level games I normally use
micro armor and a minimum of terrain detail. Why? Because the feedback I want from people is about the interaction of the players with the game rules. No so much on how cool everything looks.

Bottom line is overall enjoyment of the game can be from the visuals created just as much as the game design itself.

Wolfhag

Wolfhag29 Feb 2016 12:49 p.m. PST

Having a video available is very helpful in learning the game but it's pretty hard to have them available during a game. To solve that problem I'm using the Aurasma augmented reality app (it is not virtual reality). aurasma.com

Once the free app is downloaded the player points his cell phone or iPad camera at a trigger image and a video on a web site linked to that subject pops up and starts playing. It works like recognizing a QR code. The video is not downloaded so there is no waiting time. You can also tap on your screen to be taken to a site like Dropbox or Slideshare that has that has diagrams or images/PDF of the rules for that part of the game.

You can use it to augment your written rules by having an image trigger for that particular section or game example. The trigger images even work on a computer screen or Kindle. You can customize or create your own images too.

You can update the video and PDF content and still use the same trigger images.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP29 Feb 2016 4:06 p.m. PST

I think the vast majority of people that play miniatures the fun and experience is in the visuals created by the figures, vehicles and terrain. The actual rules can be secondary. I think this is especially true for people with an average or minimal knowledge of the historical and technical aspect of the game. There is nothing wrong with that.

Wolfhag:

I don't know whether the 'vast majority' play miniatures primarily for the visuals, with the rules being of secondary importance. Certainly that are any number who play for those reasons, visuals being primary.

And nope, nothing wrong with that at all.

The methods and techniques for designing wargames effectively [to do what you want them to] doesn't change by how important they are to a particular gamer's fun.

The videos to augment the written rules is a great idea.

Wolfhag01 Mar 2016 3:23 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
The "vast majority" is from my observation at conventions in northern California. When we set up games very few people inquire about the details of the rules we'll be using. If you want people to sign up for your games put on a great display.

In our area the 28mm scale with the mdf buildings that can have figures on different levels is the most popular. Most use BA or CoC.

People go to conventions to be entertained, have fun and try things they are not normally exposed to. I've found most are not there to learn a game system. Nothing wrong with that. Games like BA, CoC and FOW and the new terrain and buildings seem to be getting more people interested in historical gaming.

My only criticism is that with the larger scales and limited space on a table and with densely packed terrain the time and distance scales are warped. It could be due to too many units on the board or an abstraction of the rules to make things fit on a smaller table. I don't have any suggestions on how to design a game to be improved that has those types of limitations.

The 28mm stuff is here to stay and the guys I game with that have the eye candy want to throw it all on the table. It looks great and we don't get any complaints so who am I to criticize.

Wolfhag

RudyNelson01 Mar 2016 4:48 p.m. PST

There is more than one way to approach any era or level of command and play.
Hints are provided in th above comments and I enjoy reading them. However, i do not regard them as cut in stone ways of doing a specific mechanic. :)

Ottoathome02 Mar 2016 7:18 a.m. PST

Wolfhag is correct.

Put on a great display and people will want to play.

I am a somewhat eccentric gamers and frequently do experiments in games to see what players reactions are.

There is one experiment I am afraid to do.

This would be to put on a really tremendous visual display with gorgeous minis, terrain, and the like, leave dice out and put a sign on the table, "go ahead and play."

In this, give no rules, no tutorial, and simply let people make up their own as they go along. I am convinced they will do quite well and make up the game in their minds and ad-hoc- as they go along and have a tremendously wonderful time.

They will quickly revert to the sand-box of their youth and create stories and battles in their minds and not need one stinking rule at all. Get two players together and they will dice, coin toss, or use whatever to make a story.

Rules and rule designers are completely superfluous to what they want out of a game.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2016 1:25 p.m. PST

Wolfhag

The "vast majority" is from my observation at conventions in northern California. When we set up games very few people inquire about the details of the rules we'll be using. If you want people to sign up for your games put on a great display….

People go to conventions to be entertained, have fun and try things they are not normally exposed to.

Wolfie:

I am sure they do. I would suggest that in general, that is what conventions offer, so why wouldn't folks go there for that? It's not only a self-selection process for who attends, but also on what they attend for.

Sort of assuming that everyone who frequents Burger King indicates that the 'vast majority' of diners in the US want burgers for dinner. It may be true…or not.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP02 Mar 2016 1:34 p.m. PST

There is one experiment I am afraid to do.

This would be to put on a really tremendous visual display with gorgeous minis, terrain, and the like, leave dice out and put a sign on the table, "go ahead and play."

You don't have to go to a convention to try out that experiment. You can do it at home and seem to know the result. "Get two players together and they will dice, coin toss, or use whatever to make a story."

The experiment has been done many times. Put two or more children in the sandbox and they will make up stories and battles in their mind…and rules between them for playing. ["Tanks can only go there." "We move all the men before shooting". "This is a hill. You can't see them over there."] Procedural and result-type rules. The number of 'rules' created and followed will depend on their age, numbers of children [more children, more rules] and what they are playing.

Ottoathome03 Mar 2016 2:40 p.m. PST

Then McLaddie

It means that game designers and rules writers are superfluous and only get in the way of the game.

Otto

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Mar 2016 4:32 p.m. PST

It means that game designers and rules writers are superfluous and only get in the way of the game.

So why are you umpiring, let alone writing eight pages of campaign and 12 pages of game rules?

It sounds like you as umpire or pages of rules should be superfluous too, so why are you getting in the way?

Otto, I support your version of fun. I certainly have played in similar ways. [For instance, one half-page of rules for a game of the French Revolution battling political factions in Paris.]

However, you're black and white conclusions about how games *must* work for everyone and how it *should* be for the whole hobby with such a johnny-one-note version of fun really doesn't leave room for any discussion of game design.

It means that game designers and rules writers are superfluous and only get in the way of the game.

Again, an absolutist translation. Play is a process, and all children turn them into 'games' i.e. procedures and rules, however childish. It means every child is a game designer in play/pretending and invariably creates rules for themselves and those they play with.

If game designers were superfluous, then children wouldn't play by rules and procedures at all, whether theirs or others'. It's an act of creation, creating a game. Think of all the children's games created AND the rules that accompany them. Adults didn't create them. Writing them down doesn't change that dynamic, whether it is an adult or a child.

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