Developers Log #6: Never go full retard. O, rly?


“And he was a god damn war hero! You know any retarded war heroes? You went full retard man. Never go full retard.”

never-go-full-retardPicture 1: Famous scene and quote from Tropical Thunder

This time, I would like to talk a bit about turn based system. Since beginning of time, namely from Rebelstar and Laser Squad, turn based system was based on chess style of play. Later, some variants appeared, but mainstream gaming kept well known turn by turn execution. Boring one, to be honest.

Main reason for which I started to hate turn by turn system, besides waste of time, is the thing that system is completely unfair.

Example one: There is important hilltop. You send troops there, opponent does the same. Same units, same speed. Who wins that point of interest? The one who is moving first!

Example two: Oh, there is unexplored area. Ok, let me take this cavalry unit, which can move around quick and has nice field of view, and let me throw it in that direction. Nice, it moved, spot enemy troops, which stand there like Chinese clay soldiers, and moved away. Now I can harass those troops with my arty.

Example 3: Enemy unit and my three units. Let me try first with this one to attack. Oh, great, it killed it. Now other two are completely free to do whatever I want, since there is no more enemy unit on that spot.

And examples like these could go on for eternity. It is just too simplified, wrong, not logical and not realistic.

So, developers started to implement different solutions and expansion to the system. The most obvious was to make real time, which then became completely new genre. There we had further advancement, as “simple” real time has own disadvantages (about I already talked about in some previous log). That how pausable real-time system was born, in games as Total Annihilation and legendary Homeworld. This system found its way also to RPGs.

homeworldPicture 2: One more legend – Homeworld

In TBS area we had improvements as implementing phases, namely in Battle Isle series, with movement phase and attacking phase, where players in one on one going criss-cross, while one is in movement phase, other one is in attacking phase.

Another advancement was implementation of initiative and/or speed, where each unit, no matter on side, has own attributes that determinate when that unit plays, which is also nice one and was well used in Heroes series and again in RPGs as Fallout etc.

But, by my opinion, the best possible system was made with implementation of simultaneously executed games. The best example of that system was Combat Mission and if i recall there was in battles in Master of Orion One, and not Two (sorry, played both 20 years ago, so i cannot clearly remember). What we had in Combat Mission is that you have your ww2 troops and you give them orders, set of orders in fact, and then you go for execution phase, where you can only observe what is going on and think about what would be good to do in next orders phase.

Therefore, I would like that we make AoT as true simultaneously executed game, which will bring realism, fairness and possibility of numerous players playing in same time, without boring loss of time as in classical turn by turn games. Since Combat Mission was at tactical level management, and All Our Trenches going for grander scale of battles and strategy, to implement CM execution phase (real time movement across any point of the map) wouldn’t be good idea and it would be consuming in resources. I.e. it is not the same to show movement of 50 models and 50.000 models. To manage those, we are going to make simultaneously executed turn based game on hex map.

combat-missionPicture 3: Combat Mission and its orders phase

So, are those simultaneously executed system games popular? No, not so much. Or better to say, they haven’t found their way to mass population of gamers. People tend to play games or do things in simple way, and this system is far away from that, since players have to think in advance, to predict enemy moves and on the end just sit and watch what will happen.

Maybe we ll go with it full retard, I don’t know. We ll try for sure, and in testing phase we ll see if people like it or not. But in any case, we are aware that we are not aiming for mass population of gamers, but for specific niche, gamers like us. And this is only one and first of the features that are specific and not so common. More about others in some future blogs.

Stay well,