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Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:06 pm

MarkShot wrote:Well, there are enough games out there now for this question to be asked and discussed (or more accurately a series of questions). I will limit this just to games based on the AGE engine (thus, GI and WWI are excluded). So, we are talking about: BOA, AACW, NCP, and WIA.

I know many people here are historians and are particularly attached to certain epoques. However, for my question if you will, can we focus on the game mechanics, scope, and play.

(1) Which of AGEOD's games has greatest replay value? Why?

(2) Which of AGEOD's games has the most satisfying game play? Why?

(3) Which of AGEOD's games is the most intuitive to learn? Why?

(4) Which of AGEOD's game broke the most new ground? Why?

(5) Seeing the evolution from BOA through WIA, are you happy with the direction which has been taken in evolving the AGE game engine? Why?

(6) It is part of AGEOD's business strategy that each new game not only refines existing features, but essentially adds new modules (completely expanded scope) to the engine's capabilities. Putting aside periods and theaters, how would you like to see AGE evolve in the future?

(7) AGE was initially born as primarily a grand scale warfare engine. The evolution has been to go beyond warfare into many other realms. Where do your interests primarily lie? Is it with warfare? Is it with the challenges of national growth, leadership, and the international stage (with warfare as just a singe option)? Or is there something else?

(8) For those who have followed AGEOD's growth over the last few years and purchased the full spectrum of games is there anything else which you would like tell us about where we are going that you think we should know?

Feel free to answer any or all of the above. Please simply be clear as to what your response pertains to.

Thank you very much for your business, reflection, and time.

Let me add also my thoughts to this very intersting thread.

Regarding the qustions of Mark:

1. AACW. The grand campaign the AI and the several improvements since the begining make this a high replayable game

2. AACW. To me at least... :) . But let me say that this answer is very biased. I am definitely not a wargamer, my interests in PC gaming revolve around grand strategy and RPG games. But I am also a ACW nut :bonk: , so AACW had and has a particular appeal in my heart :coeurs: What I like most about AACW? The Grand campaign. The very satisfying AI. The map and overall artists work. The way we can recognize real generals in the ones we have in the game. The way, at least to me, that the game plays intuitively: meaning, although it pays to know the rules, I allways felt, since day one, that if I play with common sense and using history lessons, I could very much forget about the rules and concentrate in the fun. And this is a great, great quality in AACW. What could be better: naval AI; even better UI. And battle reports and unit history.

3. Having started with AACW, the rest is easy (and sadly a bit unsatifying :( - see point 5). And I truely believe AACW is VERY intuitive :)

4. AACW, definitely

5. Not really. AACW shines. BOA was OC inovative, and is an easy game to play, but is too much of a wargame to my taste. NCP was probably a sad failure, and I still do not understand exactly why. The lack of a grand campaign, political and economic option are surely a reason. The relative lack of support for this game was also definitely a factor. Unfortunate problems with the community also played a role. WIA ?. Sorry, Lodilefty et al, but I feel that it is really BOA2, with more bells and whistles (again, IMHO). I just bought it to support AGEOD. Forgive me and do not flame me, but I still do fail to grasp the wisdom to have invested time and effort in that game. American war of independence et al is not, I think, a big topic of interest for wargamers and strategy gamers in general. Was AGEOD banking on the USA market ? Or just catering to a small but very vocal fanbase of BOA ??. So, the evolution from AACW, with 2 games with good quality but without nothing truley innovative, and without grand campaigns, REAL political and economical options, etc, was not very fortunate, IMHO.

6. Mixed feelings about this question. Definitely there was an evolution in some/many aspects of the engine, many of which were even incorporated in AACW, for which I am definitely grateful :coeurs: . But I am expecting the real evolution in VGN.

7. Definitely more grand strategy elements. BUT I would also very much like an introduction of a tactical aspect to the battles, as I have stated countless times, in these last 2 years :D

8. Mixed feelings. I hope the best for AGEOD. I guess the interest base in the period of VGN is great. To me, besides some focus of interest - ACW, Franco-prussian war, WW1, the victorian period never appealled much to me. Where I would like AGEOD to thread in the future ? Definitely in NCP2, with a real grand campaign, etc. I believe the sales potential of the Napoleonic saga is huge. Next ? AACW2 :D . Next ? Medieval ages (specially the fall of Byzantium :coeurs: :coeurs :) , Ancient (Greek, Rome), and why not Fantasy grand strategy ??


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Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:21 pm

Stwa wrote:A strong game system and simplicity is the best approach. New whiz bang features, assistants, or other tools, might be nice, but the core system are what fans are most interested in.

Close Combat is a game system that has remained pretty much unchanged for over a decade, but enjoys sales even today and a large fan base and probably more mods than a single title in history.

HPS simulations could produce many titles utilizing basically the same engine, without adding new features.

BoA engine properly enumerates the unit/sub-unit relationship which could be anything from an entire army to a regiment to a simple warband.

1) Close Combat: irrelevant. When published by Microsoft, CC was sold to some hundreds of thousand consumers. When CC was sold thereafter by SSI, it numbered less. Matrix rate of sales today are much more lower, at best some thousands. So not only the game sales are declining from the first, but the initial success is totally out of reach for AGEOD, because CC them and realtime features are just the 2 most popular features in computer strategy games. So it's not anormalous to have a small but suuficient core players group. If Ageod game basis should go the same way, we would be maybe around...10 to keep playing thier games in 10 years.

2) HPS: the reverse. Now I know HPS isn't creating downloable version of their games because of the cost, I firmly belive their games to be sold at very low numbers. HPS has a dedicated small group of admirers. They have too a large group who never buy one of their game, because of the UI glaciation since 20 years, the micromagement of hundereds of units, the lack of innovation, and so on. I suspect a large part of buyers never really playing HPS games, just buying it to get maps and OOBs, who are excellent.
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Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:50 pm

1) AACW. The bigger, the deeper.
Seriously though, it has so many units, so vast a map, and so many potentialy different strategies that give it a depth worthy of countless hours of "just-one-more-turn" and/or "what-about-I-do this-instead-of-that?".

2) WIA.
The operationnal focusing of that game, compared to AACW, makes it easier to grasp and later control. It is pretty difficult to lose focus of the big picture here, and yet it gives enough sense of the grandeur of the game that you feel the magnitude of the conflicts you play.

It doesn't required the huge learning curve of AACW, while retaining all the complexity of the behind-the-scene game mechanics which make the experience of AGE's engine so precious.
Overall, the extensive use of toolpips in all of AGEOD games is also very appreciated.

4) As already said, probably BoA. Because it started it all.
Talking from my personnal experience, I'd probably never have come on this ground, would it not have been for the era chosen, the easy enough learning curve, and above all, way above all, the slickness and originality of Sandra's graphics (and Robin too?), which put any other wargames to shame, up to now (I may not be a wargamer, but I still know my way around HPS and Matrix's forums, to use the above examples).

5) I own BoA, AACW and WIA, and enjoy both different play styles.
As long as you guys put enough work into it (and so far you've done it), I see only good into trying to explore new grounds, in this case expanding the engine from pure operationnal level to grand strategy, military being only one component of the picture. I especially appreciate the continual support provided, and the introduction of new features from later games into older ones.

6) A tactical level? At company level? Oh boy, yes...
Not 3D, not part of grand strategy games. Just full games centered on one battle, or maybe one campaign. With the understanding that creating a different map for each battle, and keeping the current graphical standard with your actual resources seem currently utopian.

7) While it may not help you much, I'm going to say all of those. It then depends on the quality of the final product. I'd rather play a well crafted grand strategy game, with full economy, diplomacy and trade, but less emphasis on military, taking place in Ancient Egypt, than a poorly done game centered on the siege of Québec in 1759 at the company level.

8) The only AGE engine game I didn't buy is NCP, because of the graphics. I'm so glad you chose to stick to Sandra's for WIA, otherwise I'd probably have thought twice before buying it. Yes, visualy appealing graphics are a plus. Hopefuly you won't be too far away from those of BoA/WIA and AACW in you next titles.
But I'm being picky. I believe this company to be one of the most reliable, honest, and professionnal in the gaming industry, no matter the size or the market it aims at. For all of this, thank you.
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Tue Mar 24, 2009 7:53 am

Clovis wrote:HPS has a dedicated small group of admirers. They have too a large group who never buy one of their game, because of the UI glaciation since 20 years, the micromagement of hundereds of units, the lack of innovation, and so on. I suspect a large part of buyers never really playing HPS games, just buying it to get maps and OOBs, who are excellent.

I recently bought my first HPS games. I hesitated for a long time because they didn't offer digital downloads and the games do, in fact, look dated. I finally bit the bullet, because the topic I was looking for (NATO vs. Warsaw Pact) is hardly a topic in wargames anymore. I've been very happy with my purchase despite the, shall we say, "traditional" presentation. Easy to learn, hard to master, and not looking much worse (in 2D mode) than TOAW.

What I'm saiyng is that HPS is probably a sustainable business model because besides the usual selection of WW2/ACW/Napoleonics stuff they also offer games about periods not covered much elsewhere - the Mexican War of 1848, Ancient Battles, Middle East Wars, NATO vs. Warsaw Pact, a new game about 16th century etc.
The brutality and inhumanity of war stood in great contrast to what I had heard and read about as a youth.
- Reinhold Spengler, war volunteer 1st Bavarian Infanterie Regmnt., 1916

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Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:25 am

MarkShot wrote: (The closest other similar gaming memory might have been EAW [European Air War] and for the very first time seeing huge dog fights and formations. Until that time 16 planes in the air was the standard for flight sims. EAW filled the air with hundreds.)

That brings back many great memories. I too loved and played this game like crazy.It was great for that time and people put out a lot of great mods with it.You could fly in theathers that were never covered in any fly simulation before like Poland 1939 and Spanish Civil War.To my surprise people are still making mods and patching it..
The thing that amazed me in this game was the "feel" of the true campaign as you got promoted, earn medals etc. Red Baron 3D from Sierra was a diamond too.
Those were the happy days :coeurs:

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Thu Mar 26, 2009 12:49 am

Before answering I'd like to say that the I only own two AGE games - AACW and WIA - so I can only comment on those. I never played BOA (since AACW was available by the time I learned of it), and frankly I didn't really care for the demo of NCP, I think the graphics are what turned me off.

1) For me, I think WIA has the greatest replay value. The scenarios and campaigns are very diverse and cover a long time span, and are all very enjoyable, whereas when I play AACW I almost always play the grand campaign.

2) I think I'd have to say AACW, for the reason that you have more economic control than in WIA. Still, WIA gives me a better feeling of immersion, for some reason.

3) I didn't find either one intuitive to learn. In fact, I still learn new stuff when I play them. Also, when I haven't played for a while, I have to learn a lot of stuff again. It's usually worth it, though. :)

4) For me it was AACW, although to be honest, I'm not sure how much new ground it broke. I think I've seen most of the features in other games, but I've never seen them work this well together. The wego system, combined with the chain of command, economic management and the way battles are handled, make for the best game on the American Civil War I've ever played.

5) I'm happy with the two games I have. I was a bit sad that WIA lacked the chain of command and the economic features that AACW, although I perfectly understand the reasons and agree with them. Still, they were great features, that I really liked in AACW. Also, as I mentioned, I didn't like the demo for NCP. Mainly because of the way the map and units look, I think, but also because of the lack of a grand campaign, and because for a game on the napoleonic wars, I'd want much more than a wargame. I'd need much more economic and diplomatic control than AACW.

6+7) I don't mind wargames, but with a few exceptions, I usually lose interest in them after a while. I prefer games where you control a nation, and not just the armies of that nation. That means more diplomatic, economic and political options. Also, I very much like flavour. Historical events - possible ones presenting choices to the player - very much help to make me feel that "I'm there" (as well as teaching me something, once in a while :) ). I know that several of the AGE games already include several or all of these features, I just want MORE. :D

8) I haven't purchased the full spectrum of games, as I stated above, but I'm interested in several of the games you're developing at the moment (VGN and Frederich the Great) and expect to buy both on release. I'm especially happy that you're doing Frederick the Great, since that game - along with BOA and WIA - cover conflicts that are very rarely seen in computer games. Those slightly obscure setting, along with an excellent engine, is what sets you guys apart from everybody else, imo. I think I read somewhere that you were considering making a ww2 game, which is ok by me (even if those are a dime a dozen), but I hope you will continue to walk the paths less trod, so to speak.

PS: I want a game on the wars of the roses, a la Kingmaker by Avalon Hill, and I think you're just the studio to make it. :siffle:

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