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"On the virtues of IGO-UGO" Topic


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Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Feb 2020 10:06 a.m. PST

I am saying that the validity of any functional simulation simply isn't based on impressions, feelings and flavor. Those always remain vague, based on so many unconscious assumptions, anecdotes, or just the beer you drank or the last book you read. Such feelings have to be tested against actual evidence to be used as the basis for historical representation.

But the standards of evidence against which you validate are based on impressions, feelings, and opinion.

Ultimately, when selecting a referent, you decide what is important and how that is demonstrated. Within that arbitrary framework, empirical standards can be used to demonstrate differing degrees of conformance with the opinion on what is important.

Empirical demonstration is important. It's the part of the process I like the best. But it is meaningless unless you start with a consensus of what the referent is.

This is what derails most such discussions. The belief that empirical data is somehow superior to opinion, when it is actually subordinate to it.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2020 11:02 a.m. PST

But the standards of evidence against which you validate are based on impressions, feelings, and opinion.

Yes, and no. Your impressions, feelings and opinion, if we are talking about history, are based and dependent on evidence, past records. Opinion as Intepretation is what we are talking about, and it is an interpretation of *something*, not whatever feeling you might have or any free-form opinion.

Empirical demonstration is important. It's the part of the process I like the best. But it is meaningless unless you start with a consensus of what the referent is.

That referent is what evidence is and how to establish it as useful, particularly in a representative game system or simulation.

This is what derails most such discussions. The belief that empirical data is somehow superior to opinion, when it is actually subordinate to it.

I don't agree, one isn't superior or inferior to the other. What derails most discussions it lack of any agreement on what constitutes empirical data and why any valuable opinion is based on it. Because evidence is believed to be subordinate to opinion, and no one can agree on what constitutes evidence, data is ignored in the face of opinion.

Lincoln was president during the American Civil War. Opinion or empirical data? It is based on written records and individuals' reports. You and I weren't there. Why can it be considered empirical?

How well he did as president is an interpretation. That opinion/interpretation is not superior to emphirical data/historical evidence, but dependent on it.

The entire discussion fails apart if both parties don't recognize that vital relationship.

Soult told Napoleon he could march his corps a mile up slope in battle formation in 20 minutes according to an officer who heard the conversation the morning of Austerlitz. From all indications of other records and written 'opinions', he did just that. If true, that is 80 yards per minute.

Now, we can all have an opinion on that, but which opinion--without any other historical evidence of the same kind--would you accept, mine or Soult's [and what that officer heard] if designing a war game on the battle?

Opinion is simply a generalized view of evidence. You can't have an opinion with any value without evidence of value when discussing history. Determining valuable evidence is critical.

That is why paying attention to methodologies in determining and testing evidence AND conclusions [opinions] is so important.

It's also why most game design criticisms deal with historical representation [that's realism, no it isn't, CoC is the best representation of leadership, no it isn't] and also why all such discussions desolve into simply stating opinions without any real resolution or consensus on either empirical evidence or interpretations of that evidence.

Forget talking about actual game/simulation design methodologies.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2020 12:41 p.m. PST

McLaddie,

I want to add, that is what 'the by scenario tweaking' does at worst, create a straight-jacket game, a movie. At best it makes a mishmash of two distinct types of simulation by mixing the goals and methods for producing them and then failing to provide a functional simulation of either.

I agree. The straight-jacket approach was the goal was and the experience the players were looking for so there were no complaints and no one felt "ripped oof" or deceived. It was the entertainment value, not an attempt to dynamically model all of the variables that could have occurred. I agree there is a difference. We got the historical results like a made for TV movie would which is why I stated that the rules would not be applicable for other scenarios just like a script for one movie is not going to fit another movie. If it was an attempt to dynamically simulate all of the periods historic activities we never would have finished the game. There were no typical game rules to bog down the game. The players determined the speed to move and the ramifications and what tactics they wanted to employ in the skirmish. They spent much of their time discussing the battle, the different units and the painting on the models as each squadron had their historic uniform colors. I thought it was boring but the visuals and their interest in the battle kept them engaged.

While we may have gotten historic "results" I can't claim the overall game engine is historic because I really don't have enough knowledge. However, the movement and rates of fire were historic but I forget the source. I just tweaked the firepower results to deliver the right amount of causalities during the charge as we didn't want them to be wiped out along the way, what fun would that be?

It might well produce a great game experience, but it ain't providing history in a dynamic system much at all.

The Charge of the Light Brigade we did was not an attempt to recreate a dynamic system but to put the player into the historical constraints that the commanders that led the charge had, that was what they wanted to experience. I told my partner I thought it was a bad idea because I saw that battle as being boring from the player's side. They charge while being shot at, conduct a small skirmish and go back. However, the players really liked it. They liked the fact the game played out pretty much as it did historically (no surprise there) but they did not know that in advance. That's not unusual and meets the expectations of many players. Whether it is truly "historical" is a subject of dispute. They had a high degree of historical knowledge of the battle and remarked a number of times about what was taking place in the game was in the historical references they had. Personally, I thought it was somewhat boring.

Most wargame designers confuse the two systems all the time. One recreates a historical event, a movie to experience, then other recreates a historical environment where players make decisions and create the events.

I don't. My game design recreates the historic timing of actions which can be somewhat variable when a crew attempts to execute an order. Historic tactics are used by the player to gain a timing advantage, increase accuracy, shoot sooner trading increased speed for decreased accuracy and use positioning to gain a first shot initiative. I've taken tactics from the manuals and used their timing and effects in the game with almost no abstractions. The timing will be different across weapons platforms and better crews execute sooner with all other factors being equal. All units are on the clock with the seconds ticking away and actions being executed when their time comes.

When we played the ACW Battle of the Crater game I did Dana Lombardy and Frank Chadwick were Union players. After the game, Frank came up and complimented me on the game the way it flowed, leadership, morale and the results. When I told him I had designed the game the be "straight jacked" to deliver the historic result of a Confederate victory he got somewhat miffed as he was a Union player. He was not notified in advance as to the game design and programmed result.

I think I get a good historic feel because my timing system eliminates the need for artificial rules like activations and initiative. Action is simultaneous because as each second ticks away (called out one by one) all units are executing their actions or getting one second closer to executing. They don't sit there and then "magically" activate when the player, cards or dice say so. The initiative goes to the faster units, not a lucky die roll.

After an action is performed the player goes back through his loop to order and execute his next action based on the amount of time to execute it there is no orders phase. It treats everyone fairly with that respect. You can design your own scenario or tweak a historical one but the game engine remains the same for any period of warfare at the 1:1 level because it's all about timing, not artificial and abstracted rules.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP18 Feb 2020 1:23 p.m. PST

The Charge of the Light Brigade we did was not an attempt to recreate a dynamic system but to put the player into the historical constraints that the commanders that led the charge had, that was what they wanted to experience. I told my partner I thought it was a bad idea because I saw that battle as being boring from the player's side. They charge while being shot at, conduct a small skirmish and go back. However, the players really liked it.

Wolfhag: Yes, I realized that and can understand why players might have liked it. More power to ya. What I am not sure about is what I've bolded. Depending on where you began the scenario, you weren't necessarily showing any of the constraints, but rather the results of decisions made by those commanders.

My game design recreates the historic timing of actions which can be somewhat variable when a crew attempts to execute an order.

Yes, and in playing your wargame design, I know exactly what evidence/statistical analysis you've used to establish that 'historic timing.'

That is made plain [the connections between the evidence and play] during play and discussions with you, which is what makes it a historical simulation of that timing. Players need to know what those specific connections are to make a wargame a functioning simulation--for the players. It doesn't work for the players if only the designer knows.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Feb 2020 8:27 a.m. PST

I don't agree, one isn't superior or inferior to the other.

That's why I didn't say superior and inferior. I said superior and subordinate.

Yes, and no. Your impressions, feelings and opinion, if we are talking about history, are based and dependent on evidence, past records. Opinion as Intepretation is what we are talking about, and it is an interpretation of *something*, not whatever feeling you might have or any free-form opinion.

Your opinions are what frames the establishment of a referent.

From your example,

Lincoln was president during the American Civil War

Empirical or opinion? Neither. False. Lincoln died before the end of the American Civil War.

Whether or not that is relevant to the discussion at hand is the opinion I am talking about. That is the framing of the referent.

Part of the problem with discussions about what constitutes "good enough" data are anchored in the framing of the referent. I can accept all the facts and references you gave about Lincoln and still find your statement false.

If I had never brought that I believe the exact dates of the ACW proper and Lincoln's death are the relevant criteria for discussion of the Presidency during the ACW, then we would go round and round (as you indicate happens) and devolve into Unh-hunh/Hunh-unh, the flipping of tables, and the throwing of feces without realizing this is a referent problem, not an issue of establishing criteria for empirical data.

The discussion of that referent might then take the timbre of whether or not any presidential decisions/action post Lincoln's death had an impact on the conduct of the war. For that discussion, we could string out a bunch of facts, but ultimately, what makes a sufficient criterion is the agreement on which facts are how important to the intended use.

The intended use, as we have often discussed, establishes the frame for the referent(s), and is entirely opinion.

You can't have the discussion about empirical data without first establishing the subjective context. One of the problems we have with that is that often, a large portion of the context on an issue is similar (enough) among the interested parties to start (and possibly have the lion's share of) the relevant discussion. Then we have a disagreement on something we think is empirical, but ends up being just misalignment of the subjective references within which we frame our empirical data.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2020 11:57 a.m. PST

The belief that empirical data is somehow superior to opinion, when it is actually subordinate to it.

Empirical or opinion? Neither. False. Lincoln died before the end of the American Civil War.

Whether or not that is relevant to the discussion at hand is the opinion I am talking about. That is the framing of the referent.

grin etotheipi, saying it is false so emphatically indicates that you feel your statement is empirical.

That's why I didn't say superior and inferior. I said superior and subordinate.

And subordinate means, less than, dependent on etc. Right? The dictionary definition is "treat or regard as of lesser importance than something else." I think the word inferior isn't misconstruing your meaning, is it?

Part of the problem with discussions about what constitutes "good enough" data are anchored in the framing of the referent…

…The discussion of that referent might then take the timbre of whether or not any presidential decisions/action post Lincoln's death had an impact on the conduct of the war. For that discussion, we could string out a bunch of facts, but ultimately, what makes a sufficient criterion is the agreement on which facts are how important to the intended use.

Yes, more reason for agreement and methodologies to anchor the 'applicable to', the referent. That is how mutual criterion are established and what is missing as you note. Again, what constitutes empirical evidence [which includes referents--applicable to X case] and opinion is the issue.

The intended use, as we have often discussed, establishes the frame for the referent(s), and is entirely opinion.

Exactly--intended use. In this regard, how the designer's game system is used to repersent the history--and how to effectively do that modeling.

The referent here is how to represent that history chosen by the desginer with a game system. That includes determining what evidence is applicable/referent. Simulation designers have spent a lot of time over the decades refining how to establish that… with resultant testing.

That choice as to were and why to apply evidence is up to the designer--certainly subjective, no rules. That doesn't make that choice superior to evidence… it is still a mutually dependent relationship… when the goal is to effectively represent historical evidence.

That's what game designers do, decide what to represent and how with a game system, knowing there are choices to make concerning what to include and exclude. There are no 'rules' as to what they 'have to' portray or the mechanics used to do it.

There are parameters on valid and invalid representations of history in game system form, even though the designer is free to choice whatever history he wishes to portray.

You can't have the discussion about empirical data without first establishing the subjective context. One of the problems we have with that is that often, a large portion of the context on an issue is similar (enough) among the interested parties to start (and possibly have the lion's share of) the relevant discussion.

That subjective context in game design is what the designer choses to represent of history--his referent in this discussion. And he is free to determine that in anyway he wants.

Then we have a disagreement on something we think is empirical, but ends up being just misalignment of the subjective references within which we frame our empirical data.

The whole question of IGO/UGO 'virtues' is one of "How well does the system represents reality, historical and current?"

Right? The referents, the particulars, the criterion for judging that has all been mostly unspoken, and certainly individual choices: opinion.

I am more than happy to work within the designer' 'subjective' set of choices, his referents for that 'representation' of history. I haven't been engaged in a discussion of what *should* be represented---designer's choice, but *how* that is effectively done.

Games are systems, simulations are systems, and there are proven methods for making systems objectively model parts of reality--because they can be and have been tested for results. If that is the goal, then there are proven methods for doing that…and proven errors in the attempt.

I have been trying to point out, after more than a half-century of experiments and tests by simulation AND game designers, the proven methods for doing that: representing reality with tested methods.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP20 Feb 2020 1:04 p.m. PST

grin etotheipi, saying it is false so emphatically indicates that you feel your statement is empirical.

That's called theatre! grin

And subordinate means, less than, dependent on etc. Right?

Lexicography. In this case, I was working with the dependent concept. There exists some hierarchical model where the subjective parts of deciding on what constitutes a referent must be done before dealing with the empirical representation (what? how much? etc.).

That choice as to were and why to apply evidence is up to the designer--certainly subjective, no rules.

Yeah, I think once we get past the way I was using subordinate – as dependent – we are in violent agreement.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2020 1:09 p.m. PST

Wolfhag: Yes, I realized that and can understand why players might have liked it. More power to ya. What I am not sure about is what I've bolded. Depending on where you began the scenario, you weren't necessarily showing any of the constraints, but rather the results of decisions made by those commanders.

Yes, constraints from decisions made by the commander. They could have attacked one of the hills with the cannons but chose not to. One constraint was they had to attack the cannons at the end of the valley, they could not take initiative to change that. My "color commentator" began the scenario by narrating the historical events of the last few days and incidents leading up to the charge and how it will affect the rest of the game. That has some scenario constraints.

That is made plain [the connections between the evidence and play] during play and discussions with you, which is what makes it a historical simulation of that timing. Players need to know what those specific connections are to make a wargame a functioning simulation--for the players. It doesn't work for the players if only the designer knows.

I'll generally explain the background or what the manual says when the players get to a point that he's using that part. I'm finishing up the documentation now.

I had the pleasure of engaging an ANG tank commander (M60 and M1's) from Sacramento at DunDraCon over the weekend. He had been playing WoT and some popular tank boardgames. I went over with him all of the maneuvers and tactics tank use (WWII is not that much different) like Shoot & Scoot, holding fire tracking the target, reverse slope defense, battlesight and burst on target, etc.

When I first developed the game I used the terminology and nomenclature from the manuals but it was too steep of a learning curve for new players and just confused them. The players will eventually learn what's behind the design and why after playing for a while and reading the terminology and nomenclature documentation.

The whole question of IGO/UGO 'virtues' is one of "How well does the system represents reality, historical and current?"

It does have virtues but I think it's going to be determined on the player and if it paints a picture of reality for him. Some players like it and their mind "fill in the gaps" for the abstractions to generate reality. If the scenario outcome is mostly historical it's easier for the player to buy into.

My Action Timing system is IGYG but I go before you go because I'm quicker, not because I just activated or it's my turn and you can't do anything about it. If I'm too slow your wingman may kill me before I shoot at you. The timing is all interactive when a player executes an order.

Traditional IGYG can approximate Action Timing by having smaller turn increments (time scale) that allow more interaction between all units with some type of reaction rule. Ideally, it's based on troop types (better troops execute more quickly), tactical positioning and surprise, friction/suppression, C3, and weapons platform performance and not chance.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP20 Feb 2020 5:45 p.m. PST

Yes, constraints from decisions made by the commander. They could have attacked one of the hills with the cannons but chose not to. One constraint was they had to attack the cannons at the end of the valley, they could not take initiative to change that.

Hi Wolfhag:

Well, that isn't true. They didn't have to attack the cannons at the end of the valley. The three officers involved [if you count Nolan] hated each other and accepted Nolan's historonics without question. The actual order was to attack up the hills. So, the real dumb part was not to question the meaning of the order, calm Nolan down and find out what the order was about. Instead, they all sneared at each other and Cartigan attacked the guns.
So, what they [and the players] 'had to do' was their their decision.

It does have virtues but I think it's going to be determined on the player and if it paints a picture of reality for him. Some players like it and their mind "fill in the gaps" for the abstractions to generate reality. If the scenario outcome is mostly historical it's easier for the player to buy into.

Players might 'feel' it paints a picture of reality, depending on their skills at rationalizing. They may like it by their 'filling the gaps' but that has nothing to do with simulation design and very little to do with providing history for the players.

Wargame designers and simulation designers mean to paint that picture FOR the players, not leave it up to the player, where everyone gets to finger paint on their own, reference free.

Simulations are 'guided pretending', [guided painting, if you will] circumscribed by the reality portrayed in the system. It does the designer and validity of the system if the players never 'imagine' what the designer incorporated into play.

What you've described are players imagining *something* based on something they remember of history…or not--who knows?? I have rarely had players come up with anything meaningful historically when questioned about what they 'filled in' the gaps with--i.e. What that 'flavor' or 'feelings' represented. The system doesn't guide, it says 'find your own way'. Such a design is full of gaps in unannounced places that the players have fun 'filling' in with whatever free association they come up with at the time… OR they don't and identify the gap as a flaw in the rule's representation of history.

It's fun to engage the imagination that way and players are certainly free to do that, but it is or should be a designer's nightmare if they really designed a wargame without those unhearlded 'gaps.' That is what functional simulations provide--gapless systems and/or presented with the gaps clearly identified.

Traditional IGYG can approximate Action Timing by having smaller turn increments (time scale) that allow more interaction between all units with some type of reaction rule. Ideally, it's based on troop types (better troops execute more quickly), tactical positioning and surprise, friction/suppression, C3, and weapons platform performance and not chance.

So, either the designer does that 'basing' meaningfully or he simply leaves it to the players to imagine what the game is based on however they want to.

Designers are free to do either. What I really dispise and see as the continual weakness of the hobby are designers who do the latter while claiming to achieve the former.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP21 Feb 2020 11:39 p.m. PST

Well, that isn't true. They didn't have to attack the cannons at the end of the valley. The three officers involved [if you count Nolan] hated each other and accepted Nolan's historonics without question. The actual order was to attack up the hills. So, the real dumb part was not to question the meaning of the order, calm Nolan down and find out what the order was about. Instead, they all sneared at each other and Cartigan attacked the guns.
So, what they [and the players] 'had to do' was their decision.

Yes, historically. For our scenario, they had to attack the cannons. That's really what all of the players wanted was a historical "replay". I had asked if they wanted some latitude built-in but the answer was no. The group was looking to be entertained and we delivered. It was real to them so I didn't complain.

McLaddie, my experience is that players (and designers) make up in their minds as to what the abstracted rules generated. Things like:

My unit failed its activation roll, which simulates a breakdown in command and control.

The game turn randomly ended before some of my units could activate. That's the Fog of War.

My unit was not able to move, probably because someone thought they saw a minefield or a sniper and stopped to observe.

etc, etc. They still seem to enjoy the game or they are being polite and keeping their mouth shut. I'm going to post an article on how the experts explain it.

How often do you hear feedback about how a game delivers the "right feeling" to a player using game mechanics or tactics that cannot be found in manuals, military terminology or nomenclature? But in the end, isn't a playable game that delivers the right feeling and high entertainment value the player is looking for is most important? Think about it, how many players really know enough or have real military experience to determine if a game delivers historic realism? Not many.

I think we are back to the design for cause or effect.

Designers are free to do either. What I really despise and see as the continued weakness of the hobby are designers who do the latter while claiming to achieve the former.

I'm being very careful not to make any realism claims in my design. I'm willing to share the sources for the action timing of events and their references in manuals, training and AAR's. It's OK to disagree with the sources and their interpretation.

I've had real tank commanders with experience on everything from Panthers, T-34's and Shermans to M1 Abrams to help me out. I've corresponded with guys that work at European, Russian and US museums that drive and work on the tanks too who have helped me out too. I try to keep the abstractions to a minimum. If someone thinks it's real, that's great. If not I'll live with that. No game design is going to please everyone and I'm not trying to either.

With miniatures games, the visual that the game recreates is more than half of the realism and "feeling" for the player. If an IGYG system does it great. I've seen great figures and terrain deliver a great experience for the players despite the rules being completely wrong, unrealistic and overly simple.

When I game test my stuff I use just the basics and pre-painted 1/144 or micro armor. I want feedback from the players on the rules, not the visuals. Most of the AAR's posted on TMP are close-ups of the models and barely a report on the action which occurred. Some are better than others.

There seem to be many people on TMP that are very invested in their game routine activations and turn sequence rules as it works for them and others and they are not looking to change. Personally, I just want everyone to be entertained and have a good time with a game system easy that is easy to play.

I've designed it so that it challenges both sides in a time competitive way with player decisions and the use of real tactics determining who dominates the battlefield with a minimum of reliance on the dice. Timing, not abstracted rules and random die rolls will determine the outcome – seconds count just like in real combat. Hopefully, they learn something along the way about the different historic weapon systems and tactics.

Wolfhag

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP23 Feb 2020 12:48 p.m. PST

I thought this item might provoke more discussion:

One of the features of Bonaparte at Marengo that has excited the most comment is the chance-free method of resolving combat. Although it is not the first game to resolve combat without dice, cards or other randomizers, it is certainly one of a very small group of wargames to do so, which is why this aspect of the game has attracted so much attention.

It is not the point of this essay to defend the game against accusations that it doesn't work: there is in fact a general consensus among players of the game that it does work, rendering such a defense redundant. It is also not the point of this essay to attack other games that use chance elements; although some games that use chance may not work well, so many do (and some work very well indeed) that a general attack on the practice would have to be considered absurd.

Rather than make a general attack or defense of the use of chance in wargames, the intent of this essay is to explore its role where it is used, the class of problems it is invoked to handle, and specifically, since wargames are simulations as well as games, what it is called upon to simulate.

Article link: link

Wolfhag

RudyNelson06 Mar 2020 2:34 p.m. PST

At a design stage where each turn lasts a week or more. The UGo-IGo is common in the HQ TAC and TOC due to the need to react to enemy movement.

At the turn equals several hours to a day reaction is still the process for high level commanders.

For a time scale of only a few minutes to half an hour per turn, the UGO IGO process may not be desirable depending on the scale or action. Other initiative based systems are more reflective. Then there is the card drawn order of play with an entirely different area for debate.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2020 9:35 p.m. PST

I'm being very careful not to make any realism claims in my design. I'm willing to share the sources for the action timing of events and their references in manuals, training and AAR's. It's OK to disagree with the sources and their interpretation.

Wolfhag:

If you feel you can't draw any relationship between reality and what players do with ANY certainty, then what are you doing in creating your rules about WWII armored combat?

McLaddie, my experience is that players (and designers) make up in their minds as to what the abstracted rules generated. Things like:

My unit failed its activation roll, which simulates a breakdown in command and control.

The game turn randomly ended before some of my units could activate. That's the Fog of War.

My unit was not able to move, probably because someone thought they saw a minefield or a sniper and stopped to observe.

Yes, that has been my experience too. That is a failure of the designer…one that has been repeated for decades in the wargame hobby. However that:

1.Isn't simulating anything historical. It's just one person sticking in whatever they imagine the results to mean.

You know, a game design version of a rorschach test. It doesn't represent a bat, it is just whatever sprung into the mind of a particular observer…never the same thing twice.

Why bother studying history and all the effort you have put into designing your game if players may or may not see ANY relationship between their experience and what you have built the wargame around. If you HAVE provided that, why can't you claim that realism?

Whatever the players are doing in the examples above, it is not guided pretending or simulating. Wargame designers are [or should be] experience engineers who supposedly are engineering for fun gameplay AND game experiences that match particular historical environments and circumstances. [What the players you describe are trying to 'imagine' in a game design vaccum.]

What you've described and we've both experienced is the designer doing *something* and all the players imagining whatever they like. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn't simulating and it isn't presenting history to the player.

It is presenting a game and taking no designer responsibility for whatever the players *think* they are experiencing… you know "I'm being very careful not to make any realism claims in my design".

2. Realism in a design is the objective, 1:1 correlation
between history/reality [however specific and limited that may be] and what the players are experiencing in the way of decisions and game circumstances within the game environment. THAT isn't what players are doing in your examples because they have no idea what the DESIGNER purposely built into the game as 'realism', or if they did at all.

The designer isn't providing a narrative, the players are making up whatever rationalizations and narrative for the results they think of at the moment.

Wolfhag, you have participated in military expercises that were basically simulations. Would they have worked as designed if the participants were left to decide completely on their own what the simulation was about? Is that the way they are designed?

I don't mean to be harsh, but I don't like the pussy-footing around the core issue of historical wargame design and attempts to capture history…you know a simulation. Technically, mechanically, ANY effort to use game systems to provide an experience that represents, resembles, recreates or mimics another reality, historical or otherwise, is a simulation. Simulations don't work if there isn't a clear, specific relationship between player experience and the specific historical evidence used as a template.

As I have pointed out with the F&F 'command radius' rule: There was no relationship between what the designer intended the rule to portray as 'historically accurate' and what players 'imagined' the rule to represent.

The designer's intent was lost and the players imagined they were doing something not part of the design.

That is happening with the examples you gave above. It is a waste of designer effort and a complete loss of any historical representation. It's just players riffing any which way feels good in what amounts to a historical vaccuum.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

OK McLaddie here you go:

If you feel you can't draw any relationship between reality and what players do with ANY certainty, then what are you doing in creating your rules about WWII armored combat?

Mostly for my own edification, fun and entertainment. I wanted to take my knowledge and experience and translate that into a game and using the traditional game rules and structures and I failed in that attempt. A friend of mine said to try the second-to-second timing (needed to get historic rates of fire) which Dana Lombardy pointed out to me was the timing of an OODA Loop, got all excited after seeing a game and wanted to help me get it published. He cautioned me by saying the way to make one million dollars publishing a game is to start with two million. I wasn't real enthused but people more knowledgeable than me came aboard to help out and when we played people wanted to buy a copy.

Regarding realism, it's in the eye of the beholder with visuals and "feelings" sometimes being more important than what should historically be occurring. You probably disagree with me. Add to that player prejudices which we all have to one level or another. Some people claim a game is not realistic because you don't have hidden deployment, you are not fearing for your life, pissing in your pants, bleeding or not experiencing what it's like to have your buddies brains splattered in your face. Point taken. I can't recreate that level of realism. Others have said they get the same level of realism using abstracted rules and tactics not found in any military operational or training manual, so be it. I don't try to convince or argue with them. Some will change their opinion after playing the game but you are entitled to your opinion even if you have not played. If a player remarks how realistic and fun it is mission accomplished.

Why bother studying history and all the effort you have put into designing your game if players may or may not see ANY relationship between their experience and what you have built the wargame around. If you HAVE provided that, why can't you claim that realism?

Since I've been challenged, I will delve into detail about why I think using the OODA Loop interactive timing and Virtual Movement can create a high degree of historical realism in a game because it makes the game time competitive between the players. It can also recreate any action or tactic with a minimum of abstractions and special rules. This makes it easy to modify or add actions or tactics. Players use real tactics to gain a timing or initiative advantage just as crews did in real combat, it's not a die roll modifier.

Warning! The following is going to be a high level of self-promotion, you've been warned.

Summary: The game uses one-second time increments and the OODA Loop as a way to determine how long it will take an order to be performed because orders are not carried out instantly. The unit which has better situational awareness, overwatch, faster engagement time (turret traverse speed, reload time, optics, and crew efficiency), makes the right tactical decision, takes risks (trading decreased accuracy for increased speed) will generally shoot first and more often. Players compete somewhat like being in a race to execute their order or act before their opponent.

"Whoever can make and implement his decisions consistently faster gains a tremendous, often decisive advantage. Decision-making thus becomes a time competitive process and timeliness of decisions (OODA Loop) becomes essential to generating tempo."
Tactical Decision Making, Marine Corps Doctrinal Publication 1, Warfighting

In real combat units are always active and able to observe to a greater or lesser degree depending on their situational awareness and attempt to react the second a new threat appears in their LOS. That occurs in the game using a Situational Awareness Check and Engagement Delays from poor SA, poor crews, suppression, mistakes, etc as there are no unit activations or IGUG move/shoot sequence. Units rarely react or act immediately. Realistic or not?

In real combat units move a specific distance each second-by-second proportional to their speed, not in a movement phase or use movement points. In reality, a unit moving at 28kph will move about 8m per second. In the game, a unit moving at 28kph will move about 8m per second. That happens in the game using the movement markers and "Virtual Movement" and is transparent to the players with no special rules, player actions, activations or die rolls. Realistic or not?

In real combat, not all actions are executed as expected or order carried out successfully. In the game, each time a unit fires there is a 5% chance of a SNAFU that will result in situations that occurred in combat like a misfire, jam, gunner panicked, loader passes out from fumes, loader slips or loaded the wrong shell, gunner fired his coax machine gun rather than the main gun, etc. Realistic or not?

In real combat, if a target is moving at a speed of 28kph and he is being targeted by an enemy that will shoot at him in 12 seconds he can get out of the shooters LOS if he can dodge behind a vertical obstacle that is within 88m (8m per second time 11 seconds). That happens in the game with no special rules, opportunity fire exceptions, activations or die rolls. Realistic or not?

Two tanks are in a shootout at 1000m range of each other. One tank is shooting at a clock time (game time as all units are on the clock) 1:03 and the other is shooting a second later at 1:04. The one that shoots first hits, penetrates and kills. Game over, right? No! The one that fired first has a gun with a muzzle velocity of 800m per second. At 1:04 when the other tank is to shoot the round is actually about 200m away and has not hit him yet so he gets to shoot at 1:04 and about of a second later he is killed. That happens in the game using timing generating split-second results without special rules, activations or die rolls. The muzzle velocity or time of flight in 100m increments is on the unit data card. Realistic or not?

In real combat, the opposing commanders do not get together and roll dice to determine who will have the initiative for the next turn. If you want to have the initiative you need to "seize it" from your opponent by out-thinking him, using better tactics, using your strengths against his weakness to gain a timing advantage to execute (Act) before he does. Initiative is time competitive, not random or determined by a die roll or who had it last. In the game, the OODA Loop is all about interactive timing between all units that deliver split-second results. Realistic or not?

In real combat as soon as a crew acts/executes an action they IMMEDIATELY observe the results, orient themselves to the new situation and how they've responded in the past and their options, decide on an action and issue and order which executes/acts at some point in the future. The "game" is actually a continuous loop for each unit, there is no orders phase, unit activations, initiative determination, etc. What I just described here is the OODA Decision Loop that players go through with each unit throughout the entire game. Realistic or not?

In real combat all units in the battle have their movement and actions synchronized to the same one second of real-time on the clock. The action unfolds smoothly like a movie or video game. They do not act based on some random method, turn sequence or players choosing. Orders are not executed immediately, it takes time. There are no "turns" in real combat. Based on action timing within a units OODA Loop any or all units can perform an action within each one second of time including artillery and mortars landing (based on their time of flight after being fired), infantry and vehicles moving at their rate of speed, guns shooting based on their historical rate of fire, aircraft shooting, etc. In real combat, a natural Fog of War is created because you don't know which enemy units are going to execute an action (Act in the OODA Loop) or where exactly they'll be or do in the next 5-30 seconds. In real combat commanders and crews can take risks to increase the speed of an action to shoot first but there will be some type of a penalty (called a Risk-Reward Tactical Decision in the game). It's not a die roll modifier. All of the above occurs in the game and it is easier to play because players just track the future time their unit will Act in their OODA Loop. In the game, as each one-second turn is announced any and all units scheduled to Act execute their order and then loop back to observe and determine when in the future their next action will occur. If no units have an action to perform the next one-second turn is announced. The game is always moving to the next unit action to perform. Realistic or not? When it comes time to shoot a player can decide to hold fire and track the target to shoot in any future turn with no delay when conditions may be better or to trigger an ambush. They can also cancel and change an order to respond to new threats. Realistic or not?

In real combat, there are no unit activations, opportunity fire rules, initiative determination, command points, turn interrupts, etc. These are abstracted rules needed to parse actions within a specified period of time within a game turn. They may recreate a "feeling" of being real but ignore the timing issue. Real combat is time competitive within each unit's individual OODA Loop to Act. Poor situational awareness (being flanked, ambushed or surprised), wrong tactics, risks that backfire, poor crew performance, friction, suppression, SNAFU's and player mistakes create the chaos and unknowns and increases the amount of time to go through the loop to Act.

After 5 years of playtesting, mostly with new players who never read the rules, I've found that the game is easier to play because the OODA Loop is natural and not taught. To determine the amount of time to Act involves no more than one D6 die roll and adding a few numbers together.

Players are kept in the game because as the action unfolds second-to-second they need to be prepared to react or change orders. They are not waiting for their turn to do something and are not inactive because all of their units have activated for the current turn. Any action or tactic used in combat can be recreated based on how long it actually takes to perform. It's still IGYG but the action is parsed by being time competitive through each unit's OODA Loop.

I tell new players to, "Play the loop for each unit, be aware of the action as it occurs second-to-second, react as needed and listen for your turn to Act and do it all over again. Forget about the rules for now". It's what I call "Playing the Loop". The mistake many players will make until they understand the OODA Loop is that they will execute an action and then wait to be told what to do.

If they understand how to "Play the Loop" and think like a real tank commander the customized data card will show their historical options, actions, timing and guide them through the game. They'll be on their own in less than an hour without ever reading the rule book, mainly because it is not written yet.

Let's do a survey of how many players think the OODA Loop action timing and "Virtual Movement" are historically accurate or realistic. Personally, it should be self-evident without a lot of explanation from the designer.

I'll close with a quote from Otto Carius, Tigers in the Mud:

"Unfortunately, impacting rounds are felt before the sound of the enemy's gun report, because the speed of the round is greater than the speed of sound. Therefore, a tank commander's eyes are more important than his ears. As a result of rounds exploding in the vicinity, one doesn't hear the gun's report at all in the tank. It is quite different whenever the tank commander raises his head occasionally in an open hatch to survey the terrain. If he happens to look halfway to the left while an enemy anti-tank gun opens fire to his right, his eyes will subconsciously catch the shimmer of the yellow gun flash. His (the tank commander) attention will immediately be directed toward the new direction and the target will usually be identified in time. Everything depends on prompt identification of a dangerous target, usually seconds decide.

It's the seconds that decide in my game using the OODA Loop timing for the IGYG parsing of the action.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2020 12:00 p.m. PST

Regarding realism, it's in the eye of the beholder with visuals and "feelings" sometimes being more important than what should historically be occurring.
You probably disagree with me. Add to that player prejudices which we all have to one level or another.

Wolfhag:

First of all, feelings are important in simulations, just so you know we are talking about the same thing. However, they are only important to the simulation experience if the feelings are about what the game is supposed to be representing.

The whole production of a game or participatory simulation is meant to orchestrate a particular experience for the gamer, a particular set of feelings, impressions, thinking, decision-making. That is true for chess, Chutes and Ladders, The Settlers of Cataan or any wargame.

In otherwords, the whole point of most any game is to
show very specific things to be seen by that 'eye of the beholder.'

For a historical wargame, that particular experience HAS to relate to actual historical evidence somehow to be called a 'historical' experience, i.e. a simulation.

You have just spent several paragraphs 'promoting' your game design…basically how it leads players to "think like a real tank commander." Not whatever they happen to imagine based on their 'prejudices' or the last book they read, but what YOU want them to understand of real tank combat based on what YOU understand of that reality--which should be based on real evidence, not just whatever 'feels' good.

IF that isn't realism, if you can't claim any realism produced by your game system, then what the hell are you doing?? What are you promoting?? If you can, why are we debating that issue? Then it is just a matter of HOW to produce that realism, that 1:1 relationship to PARTs of reality/history.

Werner Heisenburg [yes, that scientist] wrote about science:

What we probe is not nature, but nature under our methods of questioning.

That is what historians are doing, which include what historical wargame designers are doing: they ask particular questions of history and present those particular answers in the medium of a game.

Some people claim a game is not realistic because you don't have hidden deployment, you are not fearing for your life, pissing in your pants, bleeding or not experiencing what it's like to have your buddies brains splattered in your face. Point taken.

This is a crap argument, even when true. First of all, no simulation can--or should--represent everything of a historical experience. Their whole purpose is to avoid having to 'do it all.'

Second, if the designer didn't choose to represent hidden movement, you can't fault him for something he never intended to recreate.

It's like criticizing the painter David for not showing the entire French army crossing the Alps in his portait of Napoleon. That wasn't the part he chose to represent. Do you criticize the design of a Porsche sportcar for not being a one-ton pickup?

Third, because of the basic nature of wargames/simulations, I can fault ANY and ALL simulations for not representing something of reality. In fact no end of things. Please, pick a simulation you feel works realistically, and I can go on about what it doesn't address of reality until the cows come home.

Unless you WANT your players to have PTSD and Bleeped text in their pants playing your game, I can't fault you for not producing those effects OR say what you have represented isn't realistic because of their absence.

What realism is found in a game experience is only those particular aspects of reality YOU as the designer chose to model. THAT is what realism the game can be judge on.

The whole purpose of a simulation is to avoid the expense and danger involved in recreating ALL reality, while focusing on particular parts of history…just as Heisenburg notes scientests do. And no, I am not suggesting that simulation design is hard science, rather that the approach to understanding and representing parts of reality are the same.

So, Wolfhag, is your game system realistic where you designed it to model reality?

Does your game system have players 'think like a tank commander' based on what those tank commanders have related and YOU understand?

Or is it true that in playing your game you can't claim any realism built in the experience and players will experience whatever their 'eyes happen to behold' at any particular moment of play?

The act of guiding pretending [e.g. the imagination] is what all art is about…even if that guiding is to leave it to 'the eye of the beholder.'

Representative art, whether visual, written or wargames, has the goal of guiding the imagination along very specific paths. As I noted before, what one writer refers to as 'envoking' images, feelings and ideas.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2020 12:13 p.m. PST

Wolfhag:

So, man up. Is your wargame design realistic? If yes, then we can discuss where and how that is produced with a game design along the lines you have already explained.

If no, you can't claim any realism for your design, end of discussion. But then, I am not clear about what you are talking about when you spend time promoting your design.

Blutarski07 Mar 2020 1:48 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
Based upon your above post, it seems evident that all wargame designers are subject to Herr Heissenburg's critique tendered by McLaddie, Blutarski, Wolfhag, and everyone else with a grandiose pretensions to distill aspects of warlike human historical experience to an exercise carried out on a card table with little lead models, dice, pencils and paper. That said, it is clear that no one will ever achieve the goal of prefect realism; and even it, by some miracle, someone actually did achieve this impossible feat, not one in twenty of us would recognize the fact simply on the basis of our own intrinsic biases and ignorance.

That said, I will confine my opinion to the following -

Wolfhag's approach to game mechanics is fundamentally a multiply interlocking time-motion study very similar to George Jeffrey's "variable length bound" Napoleonic rules from the 90, the first case of a "clock-time seamless game play approach of which I am aware. It was considered quite ground-breaking at the time and I still re-read my copy from time to time for inspiration. This approach, by its somewhat more complex nature, may well have limits to the overall size of scenario that can be comfortably accommodated, but I consider it a far more realistic (not to mention mechanically flexible) approach than conventional rule systems that rely upon turns denominated in arbitrarily fixed spans of time. It simply models human interactivity better.

- Anything else, such as technical vehicle and weapons statistics pales into relative insignificance.

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2020 8:41 p.m. PST

Based upon your above post, it seems evident that all wargame designers are subject to Herr Heissenburg's critique tendered by McLaddie, Blutarski, Wolfhag, and everyone else with a grandiose pretensions to distill aspects of warlike human historical experience to an exercise carried out on a card table with little lead models, dice, pencils and paper.

Blutarski:

Yes, of course. So? I am not sure what your point is here.

That said, it is clear that no one will ever achieve the goal of prefect realism;

1.No one will ever achieve 'perfect realism' or perfect anything--that's obvious--So why is it brought up?

2.no one is or has been attempting 'perfect realism' in any simulation design. If I wanted perfect realism for a battle, I guess I'd have to go out and start a war.

The working term is functional, successful in achieving the goals of the simulation. And like many artists, historians, engineers and scientists, etc. etc. striving for better, towards perfection without believing the goal is attainable is still the preferred direction for any wargame/simulation efforts.

and even it, by some miracle, someone actually did achieve this impossible feat, not one in twenty of us would recognize the fact simply on the basis of our own intrinsic biases and ignorance.

So true, and true even now with most wargames which are nowhere near perfection… and the reason no one can recognize what wargame designers have achieved visa vie history is that they aren't telling. All gamers have to work with in 'imagining' what is being represented is their "intrinsic biases and ignorance." So, rules are misrepresented, misunderstood and something else other than functional representation occurs.

picture

Here is a portrait of Orion Percival Ochainy, French General. It is an accurate portrait.

Unless I tell you where I got that portrait, you wouldn't know whether it is or not or how 'accurate'…recognizable compared to the historical evidence. Bias and ignorance is all you've got. That is where most gamers are at.

IF you have some experience with Napoleonic history, you *might* or might not recognize that portrait as Napoleon. IF you do, it is only because you've compared it to other portraits [evidence] of Napoleon.

Now, you have to find out why I would presented that portrait as an accurate image of Orion Percival Ochainy.
Perhaps I'm mistaken, perhaps Ochainy looks like Napoleon when he was young, maybe I'm full of it and totally wrong. Sorry, I'm not telling, like most wargame designers.

And wargames are far more abstract and open to bias etc. than a painting. To work as simulations/representations, the participants need to know what exactly they are simulating.

Blutarski07 Mar 2020 10:17 p.m. PST

Hi McLaddie,

You wrote "Here is a portrait of Orion Percival Ochainy, French General. It is an accurate portrait." Based upon your other commentary above, how exactly can you know that to be the case? It is unlikely that you knew the subject of the painting personally, so someone else's word must have been taken as a voucher for its authenticity. The vast majority of wargame rules writers are likewise forced in manifold respects to rely upon the word of others. Is therean inherent risk in doing so? Yes. Is the risk so great that no hope exists to produce a useful simulation? In my humble opinion, by no means. There are a lot of intelligent, informed and insightful individuals, such as Wolfhag and your goodself, who can make useful contributions.

If one wants to put an atomically fine point upon the issue, every human endeavor whether it be designing a wargame, picking what to have for lunch, or deciding which hot chick to annoy at the bar is affected by human bias. Experience suggests that bias, while it will certainly color or shade, is not inevitably fatal to such endeavors except in the most egregious cases.

At the end of the day, I am honestly perplexed by this apparent fixation upon perfection in "realism" as essential but hopelessly unachievable. If so, why shallenge Wolfhag to declare whether he considers his rules to be "realistic"? What's the point? What exactly is the acceptable threshold? Is there any merit in producing rules that are fairly realistic or approximately realistic or partially realistic? Arguing over total purity of realism as a goal in wargame rules is cosmically fruitless. It is patently obvious that no sane individual really expects to achieve a state of perfection in any intellectual endeavor, especially such a one as this that proposes to simulate/model/represent aspects of warfare using dice, pencil, paper and lead figures on a tabletop. The best one can really aspire to is to produce a useful approximation.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2020 10:53 a.m. PST

If one wants to put an atomically fine point upon the issue, every human endeavor whether it be designing a wargame, picking what to have for lunch, or deciding which hot chick to annoy at the bar is affected by human bias. Experience suggests that bias, while it will certainly color or shade, is not inevitably fatal to such endeavors except in the most egregious cases.

B:

That is true, so what are the usual methods for identifying and modulating the effects of bias in historical endeavors? And no, bias isn't necessarly fatal at all.

At the end of the day, I am honestly perplexed by this apparent fixation upon perfection in "realism" as essential but hopelessly unachievable.

Then forget any effort to improve. How about simply establishing what designers claim to have already achieved--historical accuracy, simulating, recreating, having you think like a commander, etc. etc. etc. but never bother to explain how that is done… particularly when there are proven methods for doing just that.

If so, why challenge Wolfhag to declare whether he considers his rules to be "realistic"? What's the point?

Because 1. I admire the work that Wolfhag has done, played his rules. 2. Wolfhag spent several paragraphs in several different posts working to establish how his rules were developed, based on historical and military records and studies, that his rules get players to 'think like a tank commander.' Then says he can't claim any 'realism' for his rules. Do you see the disconnect there? I hope he does.

What exactly is the acceptable threshold?

Whatever the designer establishes for his rules. If he claims his rules are 'historically accurate', then he has set the threshold and it is up to him to explain how that is accomplished. If he claims to simulate, the same is true.
Designers are the ones to set their design goals, so that is the threshod. Only designers never say what the hell they are doing to meet that threshold in game design terms.

I simply am pointing out that there are established, proven ways to do just that.

Is there any merit in producing rules that are fairly realistic or approximately realistic or partially realistic?

No, not when no one seems to know what that means or how it is achieved. However, there must be SOME merit in it as most all the wargame designers claim their games, past and current, are 'realistic.'

First of all, I don't require that designers do anything but prove what they claim to do. I haven't required them to say the things they do.

Second, I know that:

1. Creating objectively 'realistic' wargames, simulations is possible, that designers in a variety or arenas create
functional, effective participatory simulations every day. That isn't my opinion.*

2. Wargame designers claim to do the same, but never provide the information or methodology to actually do it.
That isn't my opinion.*

3. Wargamers continually kibitz about whether this or that is 'realistic' or accurate or 'historical' and are looking for 'historical flavor' and 'feeling', but seldom if ever can explain in game design terms what that is because it is just so much 'bias' without much regard for even what the designer has claimed to do.
That too, isn't my opinion.*

Arguing over total purity of realism as a goal in wargame rules is cosmically fruitless.

Absolutely, so why do you insist on bringing it up? I have never called for perfection in any sense.

I have asked that when a designer claims 'historical accuracy', realism, simulation etc. etc. he explain how that is done. That the game design methods for achieving that
threshold be establish…or in this case, simply recognized.

I have said there are methods for designing functional, PROVABLE, simulations with a game system. Done all the time. That is your " The best one can really aspire to is to produce a useful approximation." That is what a functional simulation is… a tool, a useful approximation of, model of something else.

I have said that what game designers are doing now is claiming realism but never explaining how it is achieved.

Wolfhag has turned that hobby design approach on its head. He explains where his design template came from in convincing detail, his 'approximation of tank warfare' and then says he can't say it's at all 'realistic.'

If tomorrow, wargame designers dropped any claims to realism, historical representation or simulating, I wouldn't have any reason to mention all this. If it wasn't a continual interest of historical wargamers, there would be no reason to bring it up.

This isn't about any 'purity', its about establishing design methods to achieve what designers ALREADY insist they are doing but never explain how it's done. It is about what many wargamers call for, discuss, challenge and debate all the time but never seem to have any clear way forward with the discussion.

It's about creating useful, functional approximations of actual history, actual evidence--you know the things that tell us about history.

*I am glad to provide examples of each of these if you want.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2020 1:12 p.m. PST

B:

As I've said, these 'useful' approximations of reality are built on objective, proven methodologies.

I have in the past on TMP, but am more than willing to give you examples of how that works, both in and out of the historical wargame arena.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2020 12:56 p.m. PST

I'll respond to McLaddie shortly. I wanted to bring up what Slow Oats said earlier:

My IGOUGO rules have overcome most of the complaints people have mentioned above (at least in our club's members opinions) by limiting the time scale of one turn, and especially by having mostly simultaneous shooting/melee in each player's phase.

This is essentially what I did. I wanted split-second results so I used seconds after failing to get it to fit into 30, 15, 10 and 5-second turn.

I think that if you have a game that has a specific time length for a turn (10 seconds to 30+ minutes) you need to design in some type of timing for moving/changing formation, shooting and command/orders issued. If not you'll spend your time attempting to come up with various abstracted rules (activations, opportunity fire, turn interrupt, etc) to parse the action within the time of a turn. That is where a lot of complications can come in.

Any game would have what I'd call a "sweet spot" that smoothly portrays the action with a minimum of abstractions. For ACW it might be to put a movement marker showing how far a unit moves in 1-3 minutes (orders can be changed within that time and morale check could occur) but shooting in one-minute intervals. Now you have the simultaneous movement that integrates with gun and cannon rates of fire. You run the game on the clock in 10 to 30-second intervals. During that one minute of time muskets could fire 1-3 times (every 20-60 seconds) depending on the variables you've established. Cannons 1-2 times. Units would take a specific amount of time to change formation with better troops being quicker. It's still IGYG with actions parsed differently.

Just a thought.

Wolfhag

Blutarski10 Mar 2020 8:17 a.m. PST

Hi Wolfhag,
Just curious if are you familiar with George Jeffrey's "variable bound" concept for wargame mechanics? I ask because I think that is what you have effectively re-invented in a way with your own rules.

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 12:05 p.m. PST

B: Having played both, that isn't what Wolfhag has done. George's VLB had troops move until they came to a 'change of situation', then time was calculated as having been spent.

The Grand Piquet rules did something similar, but more along the lines of Crossfire.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 1:34 p.m. PST

I've looked at the VLB and it's not exactly the same and they don't use movement markers. In my system, we do something similar to VLB. When a game starts units are normally out of the LOS of each other. We do what I call "time compression" where units are given an objective to move towards before the game starts and then we do consecutive 5, 10 or 15-second movement increments until a mutual LOS is established. We then go back to the 5-second increments.

Creating a battlefield lull: During the game, there may be situations when there is no longer a mutual LOS. We again assign objectives to move towards (unknown to each side) and move by "time compression" until a new mutual LOS is created. An attacker could pull all of his units out of the enemy LOS and create a "lull in the action". The clock continues to tick and he may be waiting for artillery or an airstrike to arrive or reinforcements to move up. The defender can redeploy or counterattack during the lull. When a new mutual LOS occurs we go back to the 5-second increments. I guess you could consider this a type of strategic movement.


Here is a dynamic representation of movement on the battlefield. This allows players to observe the action unfold almost like a movie or video game.


This is how Virtual Movement works and a new LOS is generated or lost. The length of the movement markers shows distance moved every 5 seconds in 1-second increments. If an enemy unit appears on your flank or you are buttoned up it will take you longer to detect and issue an order to your crew.

To speed up the game after physically moving the models and replacing the movement marker I'll ask if anyone will be shooting in the next 5 turns. If not, we go right to the next 5 turn movement segment. It's easy to see how everyone is kept involved in the game. The game is always moving or going to the next turn for a unit to Act/execute. There is no need for activations, initiative, etc. Opportunity Fire naturally occurs without additional rules.

Level of realism: The result in the game is that as the clock ticks to the next second of time all moving units "virtually" advance at their real rate of speed, all units with an order not yet executed are one second closer to executing (Act) and all units scheduled to execute/Act for the current game time execute and loop back to observe to do it all over again. So units can react to split second new LOS as they are created with split-second combat results. If you think about it for a moment is there a better way to realistically portray 1:1 actions in a game?

Wolfhag has turned that hobby design approach on its head. He explains where his design template came from in convincing detail, his 'approximation of tank warfare' and then says he can't say it's at all 'realistic.'

Thank you for those kind words. My hesitation on making claims is that in the past someone (who most likely has not played the game) has said, "I don't feel the game is realistic". Sorry dude, I'm not a shrink and I can't do anything about your feelings, let's move on. Now if anyone wants to address specifics, references, and research that may be wrong I'm all ears.

The goal of my game is to deliver a playable and entertaining game that is time competitive and engaging for multiple players with a high level of solitaire play. I wanted it to deliver split-second combat results that were so common in 1:1 tactical combat and have the player's decisions impact the result more than die rolls and chance. After playing it, you will have experienced a greater or lesser degree of realism depending on many variable factors to the individual and their previous gaming and military experience. There is only so much a game design can do.

What can I claim regarding realism? I can make the claim that every aspect, rule and timing value in the game can be traced back to a realistic document, historical fact. Well, actually the Engagement/Suppression Delay rule may be a little abstracted. Units are always active and they can attempt to react to any enemy activity the second it occurs.
The "attempt" part and how long it takes is arbitrary and hard to model because of varying levels of Situational Awareness. It's not playable to have a spotting chance every second of gameplay or select sectors to search. I tried spotting in 5-second increments but that didn't work either. The solution was to react with a Situational Awareness Check which would determine if the crew can take action right away or have a delay of 1-10+ seconds. However, it does seem to work realistically enough based on overall real-world engagement and fire times in WWII.

This is something I don't think any other games can recreate but I may be wrong:
In a real engagement opposing crews are working to balance speed/rate of fire and accuracy to get off the next shot. The same tactics and decisions they made in WWII are created in the game letting the player make that choice, not the dice or a rule. A time competitive environment actually recreates simultaneous action for all crews that are attempting to execute their order for all units across the entire playing surface.

So what is actually happening is that as the clock ticks second-to-second realistic rate of movement is taking place for all moving units and crews are all active and one second closer to executing their order. It's not unusual in the game for 3 or more seconds to be rapidly ticked off because there is no action to execute but there real action taking place. If there is a better way to simulate playable simultaneous movement and crew actions I'd like to hear about it.

For a playable IGYG game, I think that's about as realistic as you can get. Another realistic aspect of the game is that with all things being equal the better crews will execute their loop before poor crews. Not because of a rule or die roll but because they are actually faster. Real-world actions take place in time and space, not within an artificially structured game turn. I think my game system recreates the time, space and decision process pretty well.

Wolfhag

Blutarski10 Mar 2020 6:04 p.m. PST

Wolfhag,
When you adjudicate a tank engagement on the basis of each element keeping track of the elapsed time required for each of its various functions on the same running clock, you are employing a fundamental mechanic from Jeffrey's rules. Although I do not believe that you employ the term "change of situation", every time a new enemy is spotted, or a tank takes a hit, or a bridge collapses under the weight of your Tiger II, a "change of situation" has effectively occurred in your rules. Just sayin'.

I did a lot of play-testing of Jeffrey's VLB rules "back in the day" and still have a copy in my file cabinet.

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 6:38 p.m. PST

When you adjudicate a tank engagement on the basis of each element keeping track of the elapsed time required for each of its various functions on the same running clock, you are employing a fundamental mechanic from Jeffrey's rules.

B:
True, but with Wolfhag's mechanics, everything is counting forward, where little of anything has to be 'synced' among the moving units, whereas George's VLB sort of moved until a CoS, which was ajudicated and then time was counted up covering the time that had alapsed up until the CoS and consequences. [Or at least that was the way it worked when I played it…]

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 6:52 p.m. PST

My hesitation on making claims is that in the past someone (who most likely has not played the game) has said, "I don't feel the game is realistic". Sorry dude, I'm not a shrink and I can't do anything about your feelings, let's move on. Now if anyone wants to address specifics, references, and research that may be wrong I'm all ears.

Wolfhag:

Well, you were doing something if you denied any realism because someone was going to challenge it with their 'feelings.'

The goal of my game is to deliver a playable and entertaining game that is time competitive and engaging for multiple players with a high level of solitaire play.

Okay, a game design goal.

I wanted it to deliver split-second combat results that were so common in 1:1 tactical combat and have the player's decisions impact the result more than die rolls and chance.

Okay, a simulation design goal.

After playing it, you will have experienced a greater or lesser degree of realism depending on many variable factors to the individual and their previous gaming and military experience. There is only so much a game design can do.

Another simulation design goal.

What can I claim regarding realism? I can make the claim that every aspect, rule and timing value in the game can be traced back to a realistic document, historical fact. Well, actually the Engagement/Suppression Delay rule may be a little abstracted. Units are always active and they can attempt to react to any enemy activity the second it occurs.

So, can you objectively prove that claim? That is the question. [I'll answer that question directly in the next posts.]

Wolfhag, you've done a great deal in covering all the simulation bases for creating a functional simulation, but not all of them. Certainly not perfect, but "an approximation" of what you wanted to portray of WWII tank warfare.

I'd like to point out the remaining parts that need to be done to finish creating an objectively, provable simulation with the realism you chose to portray. The parts that any and all simulation designers carry out at some point to establish that their design is a functioning simulation of that *something* they chose to recreate--very common methodologies.

They should resolve any of your hestitations about claiming the realism/simulation aspects of your wargame.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 7:07 p.m. PST

First of all, a definition of 'realism' for a simulation:

Realism is the established 1:1 relationship between the game system and the reality it was designed to model, and only that. Reality=the sources used to describe that reality. You have been upfront about those military probability studies and historical evidence.

It may not be the realism others wanted in a game, it may not 'feel' realistic to some particant. The point is YOU can identify those aspects of game play that have that 1:1 relationship to reality/tank warfare and how the game play leads players to 'think like a tank commander.'

And you can prove it.

Second, a participatory simulation only works for the participants if they know specifically what parts of reality they are recreating with play…and thus what parts they aren't recreating. This is something most wargames are missing at the moment…it is all just whatever the player imagines. With your wargame, because of the scale, the time mechanics and focus, as well as you being there to relate the basis for the rules, this has been taken care of. I never questioned 'what does this represent?' nor did I think that because it didn't handle ammo depletion, it wasn't 'realistic.' I knew what aspects were just game mechanics or game superstructure and what were the designed simulation experiences.

If only the designer knows what reality/historical evidence is being modeled, then only the designer ever has any sense of the game being a simulation--of what HE chose to re-create in game mechanics.

So, how do you prove that your game contains 'realistic' experiences of WWII tank warfare? Not everything, of course, but just those things you chose to include. How do you know that players start 'thinking like a tank commander?' How do you confidently claim that for your design?

First, you have to determine what you mean when you say "think like a tank commander." Obviously, you are taking about SOME of the things a tank commander had to think about, not everything.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP10 Mar 2020 7:45 p.m. PST

Wolfhag:
Back in 1998, I met an astrophysicist who was creating a computer simulation of galaxies colliding. It was on a computer monitor 14" across using some 3,000 white pixels for the galaxies' stars.

Now, talk about fake and unreal. Those galaxies are hundreds of thousands of light years wide harboring billions of stars… and many times the number of planets, all millions of light years from us.. and he's going to have a 'realistic' simulation of them with a couple thousand pixels on a computer screen?

He can put in all the know science he can, but the computers are limited which is why he only used a few thousand pixels intead of milions.

So, how could he possibly know that what his simulation showed on the screen had ANY relationship to actual galaxies colliding?

He tested it against the real thing. He found his simulation helped identify colliding galaxies because they matched his simulation… or vice versa. Did he model EVERYTHING in the Universe? No. Did he create a perfect model of galaxies colliding? No. He created a funtional simulation--obviously an approximation. How did he know it was working?

By testing it against reality. It worked, doing what it was designed to do, no more, no less. It wasn't a partial simulation, or a little bit of of a simulation. It was a simulation of exactly what it was designed to model.

Here is an updated 2013 version of what he did twenty years before to establish that his simulation was functional… by comparing it to reality. It worked to model what he designed it to model… and note, ONLY that. It was 'realistic.'

link

So, to establish that your wargame is a functional simulation, 'realistic', you have to test the finished design against real actions, against real narratives of tank actions. There are many ways to do that using history.

This is what wargamers want to be able to do: see the connection between reality/history and what they are doing in the game… and you can test you design for that very characteristic.

If you want to claim your wargame has players "thinking like a tank commander" in the ways you mean, you have to test to see if that is true. Is it happening on a regular basis. There are many ways to do that.

It's the same process that the astrophysicist used: get the best information, create a system to model it and then test it to see that it works.

Not perfection, not the whole of reality, but just those aspects you have chosen to model.

Of course, you have to be clear on what aspects of 'thinking like a tank commander' you mean to reproduce.

I am not suggesting game designers be astrophysicists, only that if they are creating simulations, the methods are the same and establish in provable fashion that a simulation works as designed…or doesn't.

I am not suggesting that wagame designers have to use simulation methods. I am saying that if they want to recreate, model, mimic, simulate successfully, confident in their product, the wargame play working as simulation for the buyer, then that is the way it is done. Not opinion, but simply the unavoidable technical challenges and methods for success IF simulating is a design goal.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 9:41 a.m. PST

Blutarski,
I haven't played any games using VLB but I'll defer to your judgment. The two differences between my system and VLB are that not all units are synched on the clock to the same time frame the game is using and it doesn't use movement markers. Other than that I think it hits the "sweet spot" for the level of action it portrays. I'm surprised it's not more popular.

McLaddie,
I'm more than willing to delve into those issues. However, I kind of feel we're hijacking ChrisBBB2 post and maybe I should start a new discussion. Unfortunately, I have not played BBB so I can't really contribute to the discussion.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 12:39 p.m. PST

Wolfhag:

Only Chriss could say whether his thread has been hijacked, that is, ranged off topic.

Chris's comments wasn't about BBB per se, but IGO/UGO systems in general. That discussion quickly became one of which was more 'realistic.' Chris dealt with the game/player issues in his blog, particularly multi-play games. I don't think anyone disagreed with his observations there. Most everyone was focused pretty quickly on whether the IGO/UGO or other systems best modeled reality.

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 2:10 p.m. PST

Don't worry, fellers, I don't feel the thread's been hijacked. It's stimulated a ton of interesting discussion, which is great, and as you can see, I'm still following it – just felt I'd contributed as much as I could myself. Carry on chatting here or start another thread, whichever you prefer, it's all good.

Chris

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 3:58 p.m. PST

Thanks for letting us know. grin

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 8:17 p.m. PST

I find that when one goes back to what it is that we, as game designers, are wanting to representt, it opens the door to real innovative thinking, rather than starting with what is easier to play--which leads to current/conventional mechanics--which are certainly easier if only because everyone already is used to them.

For instance, IGO/UGO vs simulataneous movement in pre-radio battle. If we look at what armies did, because of the time it took to move large number of men effectively, there was a definite act, react process. We see that at Waterloo. When the Wellington saw where the French were already moving, that is when he turned to Uxbridge to move the cavalry up. It wasn't 'simulataneous…and Wellington had to believe that he had time to get the cavalry in position. It also has to do with what was the typical attack/defense stance of armies.

That is not 'more' units moving, but units moving further in the 'same' amount of game scale time.

But the OODA process wasn't the same for all armies. Instead of rolling for pips or drawing cards, as though it was all 'by chance', why not ask how long did such OODAs take between armies? Find enough evidence, and that migh justify having one side being able to move further in their part of the turn, than the opponent because their Situational Awareness,[experience] command and control systems that allowed for faster action/reaction.

The question is whether that matches what we see from contemporary reports. Another aspect that adds to that is the ordinary and quick pace for the British was ten and twenty yards faster per minute than the French ordinaire and accelere pace. That gives a designer a lot to play around with. Wolfhag has a game system that shows how a Churchill tank was at a real disadvantage over distance from German tanks in the desert. The same could be true for the French compared to the British.

The bottom line as far as representation is concerned is not whether mechanics are easy or 'fun', but if they are built on such observations match what we know of Napoleonic maneuver and combat. Do they prove to actually represent what we see in the evidence?

If those observations were true about action/reaction battle dynamics, any host of different mechanics/subsystems could be equally 'functional' in simulating that aspect of pre-radio combat.

If a game designer could present evidence like Wolfhag has for those kinds of mechanics, would there be gamers who would find them 'fun'?

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2020 8:44 p.m. PST

The two set of methodologies that are part of creating a functioning simulation are:

1. the reality/history used as the template for the mechanics and creating the probabilities for the chance events [Which the Military did in great quantities for Wolfhag's design.]

2. How do you test the simulation to see if it indeed does what it was designed to do, both in game dynamics and having players 'think like tank commanders' or whatever commanders we are talking about.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 10:24 a.m. PST

I decided to start a new discussion and take a simpler (I hope) approach to the concept.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 12:06 p.m. PST

Well, if you want to know how to establish in objective terms [to others] both the realism and players 'thinking like a tank commander', let me know.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 1:59 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
Hopefully, I'll accomplish that in the new discussion.

It will be easiest with diagram examples and videos rather than long descriptions.

Wlofhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2020 3:11 p.m. PST

Wolfhag:

I think you missed my point. You still are putting a lot of energy into establishing what the game mechanics were based on and how the mechanics work with your new thread. Nothing wrong with that, only:

I am talking about testing the resultant game system to see whether it does what you've designed it to, both as a wargame environment and whether it gets players to 'think like a tank commander.

Not your impressions, opinions or player antecdotes, but established, objective tests to prove it works.

Among other things, it is an effective response to gamers who say it 'doesn't feel realistic.'

As an example, I am working on a Corps/Division-level Napoleonic wargame. I certainly want players to start 'thinking like corps commanders' when playing the game.

For instance, what does a battleline do when coming to an obstacle like a small village or farm, forest or rough ground?

I certainly researched what contemporaries said and did about such obstacles. Obviously, I designed the wargame to create an environment where contemporary approaches to the problem of obstacles make sense and work in similar fashion.

Once done, does the system work the way I meant it to? Does it illustrate the right things if compared to NEW situations I and others have come across since I designed the system?

I can have players take a little test before and after playing a game or several of my system. For instance, after playing, I can give them an historical situation like Leith's Division in two brigade lines coming to a small village in its advance at Salamanca. I ask the players to predict how leith probably maneuvered to pass the obstacle.

Or how about a Russian brigade in line coming to a forest. In what formations would the Russians use? Other nations? Why?

We aren't talking about a 100 page test, but a survey of issues that will provide statistical evidence that your rules do what you want them to.
If the consistently choose Leith's solution, that is ONE question in a survey, a strong indication that the game leads players to think like corps and division commanders.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2020 12:01 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
I've always thought that if the players know what the game is historically based on (real actions, manuals, real decisions, and options) they'll be able to figure it out for themselves what to do which is anything a real tank commander could order his crew to do. However, I was wrong. Most people don't have an idea of it. It takes a while for players to visualize the battle in a realistic and dynamic way and think and act within their OODA Loop. It appears they've trained their mind to process game turns within the confines of a specific sequence with only certain ones performing an action at a time. Very few people know the nuances of a crew in action.

What the games do portray is each crew is "virtually" performing their duties and moving vehicles are moving at their real rate of speed as each second ticks away. This can be hard to visualize and understand at first. I think this is why players tend to confuse it with some other game.

Most of the old-timer miniatures players that stepped into a game were pretty lost for the first hour or so. They have a hard time understanding the simultaneous action taking place across the entire game. They'd shoot and then just sit there waiting to be told it is their "turn" to shoot or move.

Here is a good example of what I mean:
The game time is 00:3:20 (three minutes and twenty seconds on the game clock) and the player just shot and is just sitting there watching the game as a few seconds of game time have ticked away.
Me asking the player at 00:3:22: "What are you doing?"
Player: "What do you mean?"
Me: "Well you just shot at a target and missed, what are you going to do about it? What step in your OODA Loop are you in?"
Player: "Well I'm not sure".
Me: "OK, no problem. Let's pretend you are a real tank commander in a real battle and your crew just fired. What do you Observe?"
Player: "Well, I see the shot missed."
Me: "Good, now you move to Orient in your loop to see your different options to shoot or move based on your observation. What do you want to do?"
Player: "I'd tell them to shoot again at the same target."
Me: "Excellent, So you really do know what to do and have decided to shoot (Decide part of the loop). So next in your loop is Act. Will your crew shoot right away or will it take some time?
Player: "I'm not sure but don't I have to wait for my turn or roll to activate my crew?".
Me: Having NEVER mentioned activation or initiative in the game, "OK, let's forget this is a game and forget about rules. In a real battle would a commander need to discuss with the enemy whose turn it is to shoot to move or roll dice to see if his crew could perform an action, wake them up or activate them?"
Player: "Of course not, that would be stupid."
Me: "Good, remember, just like in a real battle your crew members are always active and ready to react or receive an order from you. You're the boss. Got it?"
Player: "Yes, so I issue an order to fire again, what happens next?"
Me: "Well we know they don't shoot immediately right? So how long would it take for them to execute your order to shoot/Act?"
Player: "Is that on my data card?"
Me: "Yes, remember, your data card for that particular vehicle has all of the customized data you'll need to determine how long an action will take to execute or Act in your loop and the options and real-life tactics you have. Your Decision Flow Chart will guide you."
Player: Looking at his Decision Flow chart: "OK, my first shot missed so my next shot is Ranged In, right."

The player is determining how long it will take to shoot starting at the left and moving right: "The target is to the front at 800m so not in my blind spot. I roll a D6 for a 4 so that's 12 turns for my crew to reload and fire. I have a veteran crew so no change there. I can choose Rapid Fire because I'm at or under 900m. I want to shoot a little sooner so I'll subtract two seconds to shoot in 10 seconds but have two accuracy modifiers using the accuracy for 1000m and not 800m. I'm not moving so I can ignore the +8 for firing on the move. The time on the clock is 3:22 so I'll fire when the clock gets to 3:32 right.
Me: "I think you've got it! Now as the clocks ticks away for the next 10 seconds/turns your crew is actively loading and aiming your gun and there is nothing else to do until 3:32. However, you can react to a new threat until then. Now, what happens at 3:32 on the clock."
Player: "I shoot, observe what happens, orient myself and consider my options and tactics, decide to move, fire at the same target again or engage a new one and determine how long it will take and then do it all over again. Right?"
Me: "Yes, now you are thinking like a real tank commander."

You may think the above is extreme but it's common in every game I've played. People that have never played a traditional war game are at an advantage because their mind is not looking to understand it from something familiar from the past. They take a clear and objective look at it.

This is the Decision Flow chart I use to show players their options and how to execute their next action. You'll see that there is very little resemblance to other games:

Most new players don't take into account all of their options when in the Orient part of the loop so have a hard time deciding (getting through the Decide part of the loop). This chart will help them. All of the options to move or shoot are highlighted in orange.

I think the game "forces" players to think and act like real tank commanders because they use the natural OODA Loop, make the same decisions and use the same tactics. All they have to do is follow the steps and guidelines. There are no arbitrary rules to "simulate" what the game can portray realistically. The player basically decides to shoot or move and the Decision Chart and data card tell you how and how long. If you are not moving you should be shooting. If you are not shooting you should be moving.

I've found it's easier to show people than tell them. However, I've had some people say it does not "feel" realistic because there are no initiative rules, unit activations, special rules for opportunity fire and that all moving units move at the same time. Really! Not much I can do. However, former tank crewman has all liked it, had no complaints and could not add much to the design or rules.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2020 1:17 p.m. PST

Most new players don't take into account all of their options when in the Orient part of the loop so have a hard time deciding (getting through the Decide part of the loop). This chart will help them. All of the options to move or shoot are highlighted in orange.

Wolfhag:
I imagine that is true for new tankers/commanders too.

I think the game "forces" players to think and act like real tank commanders because they use the natural OODA Loop, make the same decisions and use the same tactics.

Prove it.

However, I've had some people say it does not "feel" realistic because there are no initiative rules, unit activations, special rules for opportunity fire and that all moving units move at the same time. Really! Not much I can do.

Not true. There are things you can do.


However, former tank crewman has all liked it, had no complaints and could not add much to the design or rules.

That is one way to test the game system, Wolfhag…if you do it more methodically than just one antecdote.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 5:43 a.m. PST

McLaddie,

That is one way to test the game system, Wolfhag…if you do it more methodically than just one anecdote.

I'm currently using three former tankers to do the QA work and test things out in addition to driver/mechanics at some museums that can answer technical questions.

I think the game "forces" players to think and act like real tank commanders because they use the natural OODA Loop, make the same decisions and use the same tactics.

Prove it.

You disprove it. The OODA Loop is the natural way we all approach a problem or take action. It's not a game rule, I use it to guide the players. Every game uses it to an extent. When a player activates a unit he'll observe the threat environment to move or shoot, go over his options and tactics, decide on an action and then move his unit or roll the dice to shoot. There is no getting around it. Boyd didn't make this up, he just documented human actions that were common to everyone.

The players prove it in the game. You can't Act before you see something, you can decide what action to take unless you've observed it, you can't Act unless you've thought about what to do first, you can't make a decision about something you have not seen or thought about. You can't Act immediately because real actions take time. It's a natural process I'm taking advantage of, not an abstracted rule I made up because I think it's cool. I don't take credit for it. You can't get away from it.

The OODA Loop is about timing which most games leave out (or abstract to a large degree) and which I've included using seconds of time. That's why experienced players sometimes have a hard time catching on but a kid that has played a tank video game that is all about timing catches on right away. He's used to the time and distance problems and the timing of an action to shoot even if the video game is not authentic in the respect to timing.

make the same decisions and use the same tactics.

Have you seen the Decision Flow Chart that details the decisions and tactics? Since the game does not have abstracted rules for initiative, command points, random activations, turn interrupts, opportunity fire, etc the player can only choose from real actions that have a timing value or effect speed or accuracy. You've played the game before, did you see any players making unrealistic moves? If there is I need to work on it.

Some other problems new players will have:
Their timing is off. They are used to shooting immediately when activated or it is their turn. In our system, they first need to be deployed correctly for good SA and then they need to think ahead 10-15 seconds/turns in advance to engage a threat. Many times a new player goes to engage a target only to have it leave his LOS before he shoots. He should be able to estimate where it will be at any point in time just like on a real battlefield but has never had to do it before. New players are not thinking in terms of time and space but in an action sequence set by the game or random.

Another problem is not using the right tactics (or being aware of them) and not being creative. Most games are very abstracted using tactics as a special rule or die roll modifier. In a time competitive game tactics are about gaining a timing advantage to Act first. That's a new concept for most players. I have a Decision chart to guide new players and bring them up to speed.

We have a former military player that likes the T-34/85 going up against Panthers and Tigers. He'll start an attack from 2000 to 3000m knowing he needs to get to 800m to ensure penetration. So he moves diagonally dodging in and out of the German LOS. When he gets within 1200m he'll stop briefly and fire his coax machine gun or a HE round hoping for a lucky shot to knock out some system or optics. If the German tank commander is unbuttoned there is a slight chance he'll be hit unless he voluntarily ducks down. Once he does every 10th turn is an admin turn when we determine if he can pop back up based on his Tactical Competence. A buttoned-up opponent is going to take 2-4 seconds longer to shoot and be slightly less accurate.

While moving diagonally he engages a target that has its gun pointed at him to shoot on the move. But when it comes time to shoot he holds fire and continues to track the target as shooting on the move is too inaccurate. When the German does shoot and misses or the round ricochets because of his angle he'll take a few seconds to halt, take a few more seconds to shoot (the gunner already has the target in his sight) and then move out immediately after firing (Shoot & Scoot). He does all of this while the German is still reloading and can't shoot while he's static. When he gets to 600m he can use the Precision Aim tactic that gives a modifier to the hit location to target a weak spot, including the Panthers lower mantlet. It's kind of sad to watch a new player's eye light up when you give him Tigers and Panthers only to have the experienced Russian player getting inside his loop the entire game because of his inexperience and using tactics against him he's never seen.

Because of the small one second time increments any tactic or maneuver can be performed pretty much as it is on the battlefield. You can do a reverse slope defense by starting turret down, go through Observe, Orient and Decide and traversing the turret to the target. Then move up to hull down, spend a few seconds for the gunner to aim and shoot (Act). Shooting will be quicker because the gunner acquires the target quicker. Immediately after shooting place a movement marker to reverse (Shoot & Scoot) back to turret down and reload. It will be almost impossible to engage you unless the enemy was overwatching where you popped up. I tell players to be creative.

However, I've had some people say it does not "feel" realistic because there are no initiative rules, unit activations, special rules for opportunity fire and that all moving units move at the same time. Really! Not much I can do.

Not true. There are things you can do.

It's not worth the trouble. They came to the table with fixed ideas and don't want to change. I tell them to read a manual and go over the real tactics and come back another time. The ones I did run into were running another WWII combined arms game at the same convention using a different system. I understand some people are very invested in their current system and don't want to change, I can respect that. I'm the same way too.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 10:42 a.m. PST

You disprove it.

Wolfhag:

That's not my job as a gamer. It is the job of the designer to prove/substantiate any claims for the product made.

I said 'prove it' because that is your challenge as the game designer, not mine. There are established ways of doing just that for any simulation.

You are working to prove it with the experienced Tankers 'testing' your game system. To create a functioning simulation, you have to move from 'I think' the game has players thinking like a tanker to 'I know' it has players thinking like a tanker. THEN you have to provide that evidence to players.

Obviously, those tankers are not WWII tank commanders, so there are other ways to prove that your game does what you designed it to do, what you *think* it does, and how to answer all those folks that say it doesn't 'feel' realistic.

It's not worth the trouble. They came to the table with fixed ideas and don't want to change. I tell them to read a manual and go over the real tactics and come back another time. The ones I did run into were running another WWII combined arms game at the same convention using a different system. I understand some people are very invested in their current system and don't want to change, I can respect that. I'm the same way too.

Actually, Wolfhag, it is worth your time--and you seem to think so or you wouldn't spend the time explaining…and having those other tankers look at your rules. I know a few. You would want more than three to solidly establish
that experienced tankers agree with your assessment of 'thinking like a tanker.'

All those questions are what all gamers bring to the table, with their past game experiences [biases] while looking for 'realism.'

There are all sorts of ways to make a functional simulation of tank warefare at your game's scale. How does your game do that?

The question is what your game does…which is what you are doing anyway.

I created simulations and games to train teachers and business people, educational simulations for schools and colleges.

Gamers have nothing on the expectations and biases educators, students and business people brought to the table.

However, I've had some people say it does not "feel" realistic because there are no initiative rules, unit activations, special rules for opportunity fire and that all moving units move at the same time. Really! Not much I can do.

Think about it. Next time some gamer says that to you, instead of going into all the detailed explanations, you simply said the following:

"Ten experienced tank commanders say it is a realistic simulation of tank warfare in these ways:" You could even have it printed out.

"This system can recreate any WWII tank encounter without any "special rules." It has been tested 30+ times."

"This system's probability tables are built on the following Army and Marine studies:"

Those folks are responding with their favorite game mechanic tropes rather than what would constitute 'realistic feel' because that term has no specific meaning design-wise at the moment.

If you have established that your rules do correspond to what actual commanders 'think about' and experience in the way of tactical challenges, that is a powerful response to those folks.

It's not that you will change their minds and have them suddenly like your game. You will be challenging their understanding of what it means to 'feel realistic' which can only 1. help your game acceptance and 2. help the hobby with it's wonky understanding of what game systems can and can't do in the way of 'feeling realistic.'

That's why I say prove it. Test your system. Then let everyone know:

1. What your design target was historically, tactically
2. How the mechanics represent the historical evidence you chose is meant to hit the target.
3. Show through testing your system how close your system hit the bullseye.

That is what simulation designer do. You have spend A LOT of time on #1 and #2 including the post above. #2.

#3 is what proves that #2 was successful… all the explaining of #1 and #2 won't establish that… You need # 3 to go from *I think* to *I know*.

Blutarski14 Mar 2020 11:59 a.m. PST

McLaddie,
The research library underlying my Age of Sail wargame rules consists of 114 books (in three languages) on my bookshelves plus 115 books, essays and articles digitally stored on my computer, plus 29 photocopied journal articles and sets of library research notes sitting in a file cabinet.

Any reasonable effort to justify everything contained in my rules would exceed the length of the rules by several orders of magnitude. I am not inclined to write the equivalent of a doctoral paper justifying the research/mechanics of my rules. I might perhaps do so if a seven-figure consulting contract were at stake, but as of this date such has not been proffered.

I have a much more efficient approach toward justifying my rules. I run scenarios based upon historical engagements, then (a) compare the overall outcomes in terms of ship maneuvering, (b) compare the overall casualties suffered, (c) compare casualty distribution among individual ships of the respective opposing squadrons and finally, (d) point out that the results track consistently with those of the historical battles portrayed.

Just saying.

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2020 12:54 p.m. PST

Any reasonable effort to justify everything contained in my rules would exceed the length of the rules by several orders of magnitude. I am not inclined to write the equivalent of a doctoral paper justifying the research/mechanics of my rules. I might perhaps do so if a seven-figure consulting contract were at stake, but as of this date such has not been proffered.

Blutarski:

Well, first of all, I am not inclined to do that either--at all, and that isn't what I'm talking about.

What I am talking about is doing just what you said here:

have a much more efficient approach toward justifying my rules. I run scenarios based upon historical engagements, then (a) compare the overall outcomes in terms of ship maneuvering, (b) compare the overall casualties suffered, (c) compare casualty distribution among individual ships of the respective opposing squadrons and finally, (d) point out that the results track consistently with those of the historical battles portrayed.

That is one point tested. Are you recording those results? How consistently??? I am only suggesting that such testing be methodical and coherent, not a doctoral thesis.

Simulation designers don't write a doctoral thesis to justify their design, to establish that their simulation functions as designed…that it works to actually simulate/mimic/recreate the aspects of reality it was designed to emulate.

The research library underlying my Age of Sail wargame rules consists of 114 books (in three languages) on my bookshelves plus 115 books, essays and articles digitally stored on my computer, plus 29 photocopied journal articles and sets of library research notes sitting in a file cabinet.

As for all that work at research and expense of building up that library, what good is it to the players? Is it necessary if you have no response to 'it doesn't feel realistic?' If there isn't any way for the players to connect the history you know to what is in the wargame, why bother?

I am also sure that all those books don't consistently agree with your chose of evidence to use as a template for your wargame.

What the simulation designers provide is simply the results of three things.

Any reasonable effort to justify everything contained in my rules would exceed the length of the rules by several orders of magnitude.

What justifies a simulation isn't the magnitude of the research, but whether the simulation does what it was designed to do: Model particular aspects of history and/or reality. There are three parts.

1. What were the goals for your Age of Sail wargame: What was it supposed to do? Do you have ANY examples of that historically? You don't need three thousand, but one. For instance, you must have used historical evidence to develop the casualty figures you used to justify your rules. You didn't create a doctoral thesis to establish that, did you?

2.How are your game mechanics supposed to illustrate those aspects? You say your game mechanics do produce the same levels of casualties as in history. Obviously you have a sense of the general rate, which was determined somehow.

3. And finally, like you have started to do, you compare your game system processes to actual historical evidence.

Four tests like the ones you describe for different aspects of your design, comparing history to game function is the usual, basic foundation for claiming 'it works to simulate those chosen aspect of reality.

Game designers do a lot of work at some parts, in some respects, but then waste it all, research, game design and any possible justifications by not doing all three in a methodical way.

The final loss is that the players have little idea of how their decisions and actions relate to all the 'realism' the designer has supposely injected into the game system. Simulations don't work for the players if they play in ignorance of what the connections to reality are.

I've designed a lot of simulations and I have never written a long manuscript to justify that they work. All I had to do is demonstrate to the customer/client where the simulation connected to the reality they wanted simulated.

You know, that it worked.

Simulations might work for the designer, but for the players left in ignorance, it isn't a simulation at all…just a game.

I'd like to see all that hard work have real payoffs for designers, players, and the hobby, rather than being completely lost, or muddled among some 'feelings'.

Blutarski15 Mar 2020 3:41 p.m. PST

Blutarski:
What I am talking about is doing just what you said here:
I have a much more efficient approach toward justifying my rules. I run scenarios based upon historical engagements, then (a) compare the overall outcomes in terms of ship maneuvering, (b) compare the overall casualties suffered, (c) compare casualty distribution among individual ships of the respective opposing squadrons and finally, (d) point out that the results track consistently with those of the historical battles portrayed.
That is one point tested. Are you recording those results? How consistently??? I am only suggesting that such testing be methodical and coherent, not a doctoral thesis.

>>>>> I first undertook writing these rules in 1980. The intervening 40 years have been spent with an ongoing research program guiding the development of game mechanics necessary to represent the fruits of that research on the tabletop in a manner simple to grasp and easy to execute. I still regularly perform after-action damage/casualty analyses, but nowadays do so mostly for my own interest, as the combat system has IMO already satisfactorily proved itself. This is not the only aspect that has been "stress-tested": among other things, years have been devoted to study of local weather behavior, shiphandling characteristics of the many different classes of ships that plied the seas in that era to the point of understanding and quantifying the effects and consequences of collisions. The goal is to create a simulation environment within which ship models possess the maneuver characteristics of their real-life counterparts and where historical tactics and formations make the same sense on the tabletop as they did historically.

- -

Simulation designers don't write a doctoral thesis to justify their design, to establish that their simulation functions as designed…that it works to actually simulate/mimic/recreate the aspects of reality it was designed to emulate.

>>>>> The problem is that few gamers are likely to agree upon what exactly constitutes "reality". The beliefs of many are often governed by the last game they played or the last novel they read or their own imaginations.

- -

As for all that work at research and expense of building up that library, what good is it to the players? Is it necessary if you have no response to 'it doesn't feel realistic?' If there isn't any way for the players to connect the history you know to what is in the wargame, why bother?

>>>>> Not sure where you are going here. Truth be told, few players have ever actually challenged me on "realism" issues. I do not know whether that is because I project a some sort of authoritative aura or because few players care terribly much about how "realistic" the rules may be. One comment I do recall that I would interpret as having been related to "realism" … a first-time player and Age of Sail buff at an HMGS convention some years ago said to me with a smile "Wow, you actually get to sail the ships in your rules." I took it as a compliment and have always appreciated it as a validation of my efforts.

- -

I am also sure that all those books don't consistently agree with your chose of evidence to use as a template for your wargame.

>>>>> There is, as always, some truth in that remark. However, the fundamental mechanical aspects of sailing and shiphandling remain more or less consistent and do not differ greatly among nations within the period the rules are deemed to cover (~1700 1815). The "differences" usually focus upon issues such as national performance and morale characteristics over time for example, the relative speed and competence with which ship evolutions may have been carried out, gunnery skills, morale, command competence, etc. In such cases, it is dangerous to put too much reliance upon the "popular histories"; case in point anyone who subscribes to William James' account of the naval war of 1812 will have a rather different view than an individual who has read Roosevelt's history of the same campaign.

- -

What the simulation designers provide is simply the results of three things.
Any reasonable effort to justify everything contained in my rules would exceed the length of the rules by several orders of magnitude.

>>>>> Generally true for anyone who has dived deeply into his topic of interest.

- -

What justifies a simulation isn't the magnitude of the research, but whether the simulation does what it was designed to do: Model particular aspects of history and/or reality. There are three parts.
1. What were the goals for your Age of Sail wargame: What was it supposed to do? Do you have ANY examples of that historically? You don't need three thousand, but one. For instance, you must have used historical evidence to develop the casualty figures you used to justify your rules. You didn't create a doctoral thesis to establish that, did you?

>>>>> I assume you are speaking rhetorically; one can hardly craft a simulation with drawing upon historical evidence as a guide and a single example of anything is dangerous, statistically speaking, to rely upon. I could perhaps have written a doctoral thesis, given the time and effort committed to this project.
Research guides the process. The French Navy of the American Revolution, for example, was a far different creature from the French Navy of the Revolution; Even in the Napoleonic War, the RN displayed differing degrees of efficiency within differing theaters of operation not every British squadron was the equal of the Nelson's generally hand-picked fleet at Trafalgar. Guerriere little resembled Shannon in terms of combat effectiveness in the War of 1812.

You asked about how I was able to correlate typical casualty results within the game to historical results. It took a lot of research work coupled with a system of game mechanics that permitted different sorts of adjustments without creating unwanted "bugs". The best historical data were derived from suitably interpreted single ship actions (Clowes analyses/tabulations of frigate actions in the early part of French Revolution; also one-on-one actions such as Leander/Genereux. Review of large battles (Camperdown, San Domingo for example) are useful, but IMO the larger the battle, the more difficult it is to assess due to number and varieties of ships involved. Whatever case was being studied, however, care had to be exercised in all respects, however, as one was always obliged to account for factors such as crew gunnery skills (pointing), rates of fire, ranges, crew strength and health, sea state, etc.

You asked about the goals of this wargame … they are to place a gamer in the historical role of an admiral in command of a division of ships of the line, or, in the case of a small action, in the role of captain of an individual warship. In either case, the player is responsible for conducting his command in battle under the various conditions of wind, weather, opponent and tactical circumstances that might be encountered in the real world.

Example, the last game I ran was based upon an historical "near-miss" encounter off the Briths port of Tortola in 1806. It involved a small and heavily outnumbered British squadron running for safety along a lee shore with a very much superior pursuing French squadron in apparent hot pursuit. The French admiral (unknown to the British) was in fact not pursuing, but desperately trying to come to the support of Jerome Bonaparte (historical captain of one of the French 74s), a rash glory-seeker who had set off alone in pursuit of the British. The French Admiral was so fixated upon Jerome's plight, under attack by two British 74s, that he never noticed that the weakest ship at the end of the British line (Agamemnon 64) had had a topmast shot away about midway during the action and was dangerously falling behind; no French ships were detailed attack Agamemnon and the subordinate French player took no independent action and simply followed his admiral. Ultimately, no ship was lost on either side. Despite having reduced Jerome's isolated ship to a totally dismasted drifting wreck with half her crew casualties, the British could not linger to finish the job with the heavy French main body bearing down (Note Despite the totally desolated condition of Jerome's ship, she actually never struck her colors; the player representing Jerome passed an incredible series of morale checks how incredible? He was already down to his last morale reserve and any further morale check failure would have caused him to strike his flag. A score 6 on a D6 was required to pass each of more four morale checks; he passed all four (1 in 1296 odds).

OK. Enough war stories.

- -

2.How are your game mechanics supposed to illustrate those aspects? You say your game mechanics do produce the same levels of casualties as in history. Obviously you have a sense of the general rate, which was determined somehow.

>>>>> Casualty analysis has been touched upon above.

3. And finally, like you have started to do, you compare your game system processes to actual historical evidence.
Four tests like the ones you describe for different aspects of your design, comparing history to game function is the usual, basic foundation for claiming 'it works to simulate those chosen aspects of reality.
Game designers do a lot of work at some parts, in some respects, but then waste it all, research, game design and any possible justifications by not doing all three in a methodical way.

>>>>> Yes, it's a complicated process. Great research can easily be betrayed by inadequate or overly complicated/cumbersome game mechanics; great game mechanics can be betrayed by lousy research. At the end of the day, it's important to keep a "weather eye" upon keeping an intelligent balance.

- –

The final loss is that the players have little idea of how their decisions and actions relate to all the 'realism' the designer has supposedly injected into the game system. Simulations don't work for the players if they play in ignorance of what the connections to reality are.

>>>>> I favor a "Learn by Doing" approach. Good research properly translated into good game mechanics should be able to reward good tactics and tactical judgment without denying anyone the opportunity to gloriously screw up. Nothing is arbitrarily penalized or artificially rewarded beyond the bounds of historical fact; a player is free to craft his own tactics as he sees fit. However, new players customarily receive a brief "tactical guide" which describes "good practice" versus "bad practice". For example:
getting your ship isolated and unsupported within a crowd of opponents will generally produce bad consequences;
- a carronade armed ship within musket shot range will gives good gunnery effect; getting into pistol shot range will produce better effect still.
- if you have fast ships with poor gun crews not trained to conduct hulling fire, try keeping the range beyond musket shot distance and disordering opposing ships over time by injuring them aloft.
- do not attempt a Nelsonic column attack against an equally efficient opponent.
And, from LONG experience …..
"Be careful in your tactics. These rules play like a slow-motion knife-fight; by the time you realize you have made a bad mistake, it is often too late to recover.

- -

I've designed a lot of simulations and I have never written a long manuscript to justify that they work. All I had to do is demonstrate to the customer/client where the simulation connected to the reality they wanted simulated.
You know, that it worked.
Simulations might work for the designer, but for the players left in ignorance, it isn't a simulation at all…just a game.
I'd like to see all that hard work have real payoffs for designers, players, and the hobby, rather than being completely lost, or muddled among some 'feelings'.

>>>>> LOL, I've just blabbed on for about five pages!

B

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2020 5:27 p.m. PST

but nowadays do so mostly for my own interest, as the combat system has IMO already satisfactorily proved itself.

B:

I got that. So how do you provide that information for the player so THEY can see the proof you've worked on so long. As I said, it may be a simulation to you, but it is about what the players are experiencing…and they can't if they don't know what mechanics are linked to what reality.

Not sure where you are going here. Truth be told, few players have ever actually challenged me on "realism" issues. I do not know whether that is because I project a some sort of authoritative aura or because few players care terribly much about how "realistic" the rules may be. One comment I do recall that I would interpret as having been related to "realism" … a first-time player and Age of Sail buff at an HMGS convention some years ago said to me with a smile "Wow, you actually get to sail the ships in your rules." I took it as a compliment and have always appreciated it as a validation of my efforts.

That's encouraging, but this isn't about whether folks challenged you on your game's 'realism' or not. Most wouldn't know what to challenge you on… Let alone have a coherent game design understanding of 'Realism' other than what 'feels good.' Whether this is through ignorance of the Age of Sail or/and through ignorance in knowing what your rules actually protrayed of history.

The problem is that few gamers are likely to agree upon what exactly constitutes "reality". The beliefs of many are often governed by the last game they played or the last novel they read or their own imaginations.

Exactly. That is why you have to be clear on what YOU see as the reality provided by YOUR game and where so they can experience it as designed. You know, such things as stating what 'realism' is for your design and examples/tests used to establish that link. The reason gamers most often feel free to go with the last book read or game played is that is ALL they have to go on. And they have had permission by designers to do that and a lot of practice at it.

Simulations are "guided pretending" but only if they have the guide. Simulation designers are 'experience engineers' only if they clearly describe what experiences they have engineered and what they haven't.

Great research can easily be betrayed by inadequate or overly complicated/cumbersome game mechanics; great game mechanics can be betrayed by lousy research. At the end of the day, it's important to keep a "weather eye" upon keeping an intelligent balance.

That doesn't matter if the player doesn't know anything about that 'intelligent balance.' They'll interject their own with nothing to go on.

I favor a "Learn by Doing" approach. Good research properly translated into good game mechanics should be able to reward good tactics and tactical judgment without denying anyone the opportunity to gloriously screw up.

They are learning the rules to the game. While that may lead them to use good tactical judgement, they have no idea where that simulates historical decisions or actions. They can make up what it means without your 'guidance.' I know that from experience and any number of simulation research.

However, new players customarily receive a brief "tactical guide" which describes "good practice" versus "bad practice". For example:
getting your ship isolated and unsupported within a crowd of opponents will generally produce bad consequences

Well, a tactical guide for competent play is not the same as making connections between play and the real thing. Getting part of your force isolated is some any military man would avoid, starting in 2000 BC. etc. etc.

Let's see, close range, better, be careful of your tactics, don't do a head-on attack against a competent opponent. Basic tank tactics. No problem.

I'm not dissing your game. I am pointing out that without a historical grounding, 'learning by doing' isn't going to get you a simulation where the players are concerned--just a game, which they will enjoy or not.

one can hardly craft a simulation with drawing upon historical evidence as a guide and a single example of anything is dangerous, statistically speaking, to rely upon. I could perhaps have written a doctoral thesis, given the time and effort committed to this project.

This isn't an all or nothing proposition where the research is concerned. Using a single example to show how
specific history relates to specific game play is not a guide to all historical evidence, but rather a reference point that players can use to 1. understand what reality they are recreating with play and 2. the kind of thing they can find in their own reading.

I would think with all that research and time spent in creating the game, you could come up with something less dangerous and more on point.

LOL, I've just blabbed on for about five pages.

Well, why not. This is game design AND simulation design, it is game mechanics that have to be a good game AND representative of history. It is therefore twice as difficult. It isn't a pithy one sentence endeavor.

Wolfhag can probably speak to this having been in any number of these 'simulations', but every military exercise has extensive briefings on exactly what participants are going to practice visa vie reality…almost pedantically, e.g. reminding soldiers that there are no umpires in combat. Because while the soldiers 'pretend' to be in combat, they have to know which skills they are learning and practicing relate to the real world.

For a historical simulation to work as a simulation of history, players, not just the designer, have to know how what they are doing relates specifically to history/reality, or it isn't going to be a simulation at all for them.

It doesn't matter whether it is a simulation created for entertainment, for the military, for business staff or the classroom.

That knowledge is critical to a functioning participatory simulation.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 9:24 p.m. PST

McLaddie,
Let's backtrack for a moment regarding realism and reality in a game. There are many personal and visual factors for why someone plays these games. Rules, terrain, and figures create different levels of reality that are acceptable or unacceptable to a player. Ultimate reality may or may not be an experience a player is looking for. You can't ignore the player's feelings.

So, man up. Is your wargame design realistic? If yes, then we can discuss where and how that is produced with a game design along the lines you have already explained.

As I said, I'm not going to make claims about realism for the specific reason that we are having this discussion. I'd spend all of my time trying to convince people like you that the game is "realistic" because it aligns with YOUR knowledge, expectations, experience, and feelings which will be different than others and maybe mine. Imagine if I had to do that with dozens of people who had different ideas, experience, and levels of knowledge, it's a lose-lose experience and I'm not falling into that trap just to please you or anyone else. If you feel I'm not manning up, so be it you are entitled to your feelings.

If you like, tell me what your criteria are for a realistic game and I'll see how closely I can match it. I just don't want to get into playing a guessing game with you. For something a little more constructive why don't you tell everyone how the game met your expectations or not on a scale of 1-10 and give me some constructive feedback on improvements, that would be useful.

Like I said, the game is based on real-world quantifiable data with some of the sources I'm listing below. If someone knows of a better source I'm open to suggestions.

The game uses various formulas developed by the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, British Bovington Test Grounds, British War Office Reports, Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment. References used include the Ballistics Research Lab (Error Budget), Armor Magazine, Fort Knox Armor School, various US and UK tank manuals and German Fiebels, and research at Bovington. We've also had help from technicians at Kubinka, and technical suggestions from a number of US & UK armor crewman, successful commercial game developers and designers.

Below are some links to sources I've used for raw data, tactics, vehicle engineering, timing values, and weapons platform performance. I've tried to use original sources when possible:

Frankford Arsenal, Tank Fire Control Systems Study
PDF link

Army Research Lab, An Introduction to the Sources of Delivery Error for Direct – Fire Ballistic Projectiles:
PDF link

WWII Ballistics and Armor by Bird & Livingston:
link

Armor Magazine January-February 2001, Tank Error Budget and Screening Policy:
PDF link

Engineering Analysis of the Russian T-34/85:
PDF link

T-34 Mythical Weapon:
PDF link

Sherman the American Medium Tank:
link

Germany's Panther Tank: The Quest for Combat Supremacy:
link

Tigerfibel:
paijmans.net/Tanks/Tigerfibel

WWII Enemy Vehicle Ordnance:
PDF link

Murphy's Law of Armor:
link

FM 17-12 Tank Gunnery:
PDF link


What generates realism to a greater or lesser degree for many people? Realistic terrain and figures to start with and there is nothing I can do about that. In reality, all vehicles and guns have different performance parameters, armor, and weapons. A realistic way to portray them is with a data-driven game using the real values with a minimum of abstractions. That's why I have customized data cards for each vehicle model that covers their performance, armor, gun and penetration and special characteristics (two-man turret, variable traverse speed, long gun, panoramic periscope, turret traverse command override, crew locations, radio, etc). You can compare the data cards and get a realistic data-driven idea of the historical strengths and weaknesses between vehicles and guns based on the best data I could find. Player's decisions and various historical tactics can modify those values.

All IGYG games have the player using some type of OODA Decision Loop to perform an action but most do not reflect the timing aspect to get through the loop. In 1:1 combat seconds count. I use seconds for timing so we get a historic split-second combat results without the overhead of special rules. If the timing to perform an action like shooting is portrayed in a historical manner that should generate a higher level of realism which may or may not be important to the player.

Non-data driven games are normally dice or card-driven. The number of dice and the pips or the card type/color represents the data and performance with better vehicles getting more dice and more positive die roll modifiers or special cards. For many people, that's good enough and doesn't want to bother with a data-driven game that should show a higher level of historic realism.

The armor on a real tank might be from 40-90mm depending on the location and angle but they'll represent the armor with a value of "9". Why? Because it works best with the dice mechanics of the game. Now it would be very easy to prove to them that armor is not measured that way but they don't care. Dealing with human nature; emotions, personal preferences, past experiences can trump reality. It's what they "feel" is right even if you think it's not the way it should be. That's the reality of it. My personal experience is that reality is in the eye of the beholder and the person experiencing it. There is only so much game designer can do and you will never please everyone.

I've designed a lot of simulations and I have never written a long manuscript to justify that they work. All I had to do is demonstrate to the customer/client where the simulation connected to the reality they wanted simulated.

I don't have long manuscripts either. New players don't even have rules to read, you didn't read any. A 10-minute explanation on how to navigate their data card, and some examples of moving, shooting and Risk-Reward Decisions they can make and we start playing. I guide new players through their loop for the different actions until they catch on and see how easy it is. Don't take my word for it. Play the game and determine it for yourself. When the design gets finalized I'll have video examples that are easier to understand. Players with a high degree of historical knowledge for what the game portrays will be up to speed more quickly than others even if they've never played a game before.

What I think gives a realistic portrayal of action is the historical timing of actions between units with some variation of the OODA Decision Loop being involved. Without the right timing for the level of the game, the designer needs to set off on a path of using artificial and abstracted rules to parse the action that does not exist on the battlefield, in military manuals or training.

Rules like unit activations, arbitrary combat factors, random activations, orders phase, command dice, turn interrupts, dice driven actions, random movement distances, the game turns randomly ending, alternate move/shoot sequence, initiative determination, etc are an attempt to parse the action for a more believable and playable and generate some level of believable reality. Some of these rules create strategies and tactics that a data-driven game doesn't and maybe more preferable to some players even though they are not very realistic. That's ok too.

Ask yourself, how realistic can rules and tactics can be if they are not taught or practiced by a military unit? But despite that, many highly abstracted rule systems do deliver a high level of believably to players, at least that's how they feel. In fact, that's what the most popular set of rules use! Marketing people survey what people want and how they "feel" about something. Realism is only part of the equation.

For a historical simulation to work as a simulation of history, players, not just the designer, have to know how what they are doing relates specifically to history/reality, or it isn't going to be a simulation at all for them.

I tell the players to they will be issuing their crews the same type of orders (generally move, shoot, communicate) as historically were issued. After the order is executed (from 5 to 20 seconds of game time) they issue a new one (OODA Loop). There are various tactics they can use that affect timing and accuracy to gain a timing advantage and get through their loop first. To play the game determine what you want to do, look at your data card to see how long it will take and your tactical options. Record the future time it will be executed. When executed go back through your loop and do it again. Moving and shooting have different options. When shooting there are specific steps to follow that are outlined on the data card. They cover measuring range, determining accuracy, determining hit/miss, hit location, armor, and penetration, damage and critical hits. That's like most other games. The system allows players to use whatever gunnery and damage rules they want. What I described above will give the "feeling" of different levels of realism for different players. Some will like it and some won't.

The majority of the feedback has been positive. Here is some of the feedback I've gotten in the past from people that have played and not played: "so what", "interesting", "X system is still better", "cool, I'd like to find out more", "so what, I don't play that type of game", "where can I buy it", "that's not realistic", "boring", "it doesn't play to my scale", "not chaotic enough", "best simulation I've ever seen", "I like my game better", "I don't play games with charts", "I like more abstraction and less realism in my game", "X game simulates the same thing", "too complicated", "I don't play games if they have more than two pages of rules", "you can't play a game with one second turns", "I only play games using a single D6", etc. That's human nature, you can't please everyone and I'm not trying to.

Based on some of the responses, historical realism is not at the top of the list of what players are looking for. If realism is what they are looking for the game system must meet THEIR expected level of realism despite what the designer claims and give them the feeling they are looking for.

What I'm really hoping for is a game that delivers a different experience, is easy to play, rewards players for their historical knowledge of the period, and allows their tactical decisions more than the dice to influence the outcome. If the game does portray a high level of realism for a player, that's great but it's a failure if it's not fun and enjoyable experience.

I don't think people are ever going to appreciate what game designers and developers go through and the amount of time spent in research, play testing, writing rules, etc unless they try it themselves. I just want people to have a memorable and enjoyable experience. If they appreciate me so much the better.

My website will be set up soon and I'll be able to have discussions and get inputs from others. They'll be a section for downloads of research and technical specifications I've used and a free version of the game. I'm always open to suggestions.

Wolfhag

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP16 Mar 2020 9:50 p.m. PST

What generates realism to a greater or lesser degree for many people? Realistic terrain and figures to start with and there is nothing I can do about that.

Wolfhag:
That's not the point. What are you as the designer doing to create 'realism', that link between game system and the evidence you've listed as your template.

Based on some of the responses, historical realism is not at the top of the list of what players are looking for. If realism is what they are looking for the game system must meet THEIR expected level of realism despite what the designer claims and give them the feeling they are looking for.

Again, you missed the point. The only reasonable 'expectation' a player/consumer can have of a wargame/simulation is what 'realism' built into the system in the first place. Unfortunately, in our hobby, there is no possibility of such reasonable expectation, so they go by likes and feelings, often misjudging completely what they've gotten in the way of 'realism.'

If a buyer comes to a Porsche dealer looking for a pickup and rejects the sportcar because it doesn't haul 1 ton, then either the buyer is ignorant or the Porsche dealer really hasn't been clear about his product.

As the designer, guess which of those two possibilities you have control over?

hat's human nature, you can't please everyone and I'm not trying to.

True, so let's stop worrying about that. It's a given. It isn't what I am talking about. I'm talking about what it takes to make a simulation work.

I am trying to point out that:

1. Those players who say they don't like your system or that X system is better generally couldn't tell why it might be better 'realism', only that they like or don't like yours [i.e. Feelings]. Not everyone is going to like a Porsche.

2. You have to be clear about what realism you are providing, can say "I know" that your system delivers the types of realism you want… and present that to the consumer. It is not only important for expectations, but also important for the simulation to work for the participant.

At the next convention, you had a placard stating:

A. 10 experienced tank commanders agree that THIS game system represents their experience in X, Y and Z.

B. The system has been tested against X number of WWII tank battles and can relicate them without any rule changes.

C. 30 Players have been surveyed before and after playing and have demonstrated that they do begin to think like a tank commander based on WWII narratives and experienced tanker feedback.

Now, those same folks who ask 'so what?' or that it's not realistic, or that they think X system is better can't say the same above as you do, won't know the same level of 'realism' of their favorite game.

They still may not like your system, but they won't have much to say challenging your realism or when you challenge them on the realism of their preferred game. More importantly, players will know exactly what experience to expect when they invest time [and money?] to play your game.

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