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Three Moves Ahead 32 – 45 minutes of cold open

September 29th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 14 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


So what do you do when your guest doesn’t show and your schedule for the rest of the week is shot to hell? You go ahead, press record and make it up as you go along.

A beloved friend of the show is on his deathbed and no doctor is in sight to save it. Tom calls Section 8 “the shooter from the Kohan guys” and fights with Julian over whether or not the game is very good or just good.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Bryan Peterson

    “The Section 8” podcast, I actually am a big fan of this game but I’d have to agree with Julian’s comment that this game is “dying on the vine” unfortunately. It has the depth that Tom talks about but nobody is playing it. **Sigh** You guys need to do a podcast on marketing guys who should be shot… Sorry to hear about the demise of Dominons btw.. Was looking forward to hearing how things ended up.

  • driillSGT

    I’m glad you guys gave the Dominions game proper closure. I knew when a week or 2 weeks would slip by and you guys had not finished a full turn that it was going to die a sad slow death. You guys should all agree on a shorter game that you can finish in a single night, play the game and then talk about it on the next podcast like the old Tom vs Bruce formula.

    Since you guys have 4 members of your podcast, why not have one member issue a ‘Formal Challenge’ to another member and name their game. If the challenge is accepted you guys will compete and report back on what happens at the next podcast?

    Even though this episode was free-form it was surprisingly good. Most of the other podcasts that I listen to usually don’t have guests and generally just ramble on about whatever they are currently interested in. You guys do fine just hitting topics that you’re interested in.

  • spelk

    Sad to hear of the loss of the Dominions 3 game, listening to the panel’s commentary, I was unsure as to whether the loss of interest in the game was down to the appeal of the game itself, or more about the lack of time and scheduling on the players parts. I guess it was primarily the latter, plus you have game reviewers ploughing through a large amount of games per week, and being paid for it, without intense enthusiasm or dedication it was always going to be hard to maintain momentum on a game like this. I think your listeners might have got mileage out of what was played if there was some tangible record of progress from turn to turn, but again that would warrant a lot of time set aside by all to put that information up as an Action Report in progress. Shame really, as I come to Dominions as a new starter, and I guess I was hoping the TMA panel could open the Pandora’s box that is so tightly closed and protected by an almost arcane user interface. Perhaps if the panel had set aside an evening, and played the game Blitz style, PBEM, but in IRC or over Skype, chatting and what not, but submitting turns within 15 mins or so (if its possible to process Dominions 3 turns in 15 mins). The only PBEM game I’ve ever had any success with was the turn based 4X style game Stars![1]

    So, I thought I’d pose the question, what (turn based) strategy game can four people play in a short single sitting that can be picked over afterward in a podcast?

    Another cloud of sadness settled like a choking smog from old London town on the proceedings, for me at least, is that the Endwar discussion wasn’t going to happen this week. I hope it will materialise sometime in the near future. However, a dissipating breeze and a ray of sunshine illuminated this weeks session with the discussion on Section 8, a game I have an enthusiastic love for, and one which I see as pushing the frontiers of tactical team based shooters. I think the key to Section 8’s design and mechanics is that it allows for a more slow paced thinking game, but still provides enough adrenaline soaked shooter action to satiate the gun toting masses. You have to process actions immediately, but you have the option of tactical deployment, not only of offensive or defensive equipment, but also of yourself. Burning in to the map at key locations to sway the tide of the battle is essential in this game. Burning in as the appropriate tailored class to deal with threat or conflict in progress is also key. You can make these decisions at the dropship, before you embark. So you reacting to the situation unfolding and you can step back and make the jump based on what you see, if you are in communication with your team, you can co-ordinate a drop with numbers of troops giving you an advantage. The game affords you those few seconds to make a higher strategic plan of attack or defence. There are very few one shot one kills that can be so frustrating in other shooters, a successful kill in Section 8 really requires the effectiveness of combined arms to make a difference.

    I think Julians comment that its dead on the vine is sadly true. The Xbox Live S8 community is more or less none-existent. Most of the time you’ll attempt to join a Quick Match and you’ll be thrown into an online game, filled up mainly with bots. Its only if you select the ‘no bots’ option you might find a game with 10 or so people playing. Its going to die a death the same way another novel team and class based shooter went, namely Shadowrun. I think S8’s mechanics are excellent and can’t be praised highly enough, I think their style is where they suffer. The premise of the conflict is quite bland and generic. Their power armour whilst impressive does nothing to expose any characters as such, theres no connection there. The different classes you create have very little in the way of discernable difference in presentation. Both sides look very much similar to each other, except for identifying colours. If they could have exposed character a bit more, and used a more ‘Team Fortress 2’ style approach to making the classes have character, ones which people will relate to and identify with, they may have drawn more people in. As it is, you have rather samey bland armour suits, fighting each other in what initially seems like samey bland ways. It needs an injection of PR, to expose the nuances of the gameplay to the wider audience. It hasn’t got a patch of the effort that’s put into Bungie’s characterisations or story. However, as I’ve said on the Quarter to Three forums, Orbital Drop Shock Trooper is exactly the acronym I’d use for the guys in Section 8, because that’s what they do, and its part of the games mechanic, where ODST in Halo 3 is just part of the story. [Thanks to Tom for pointing out that difference to me]

    So, I thought I’d pose another question to the panel, why do all these “thinking based”/”Strategy Elements” shooters die a death early on?

    Oh and are the panel ever going to rake over the dry cracked bones that is Stormrise? Again, another game, a proper strategy one this time, that pushed the frontiers of the genre, and fell flat on its ass due to bugs and dropped support.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stars!

  • spelk

    That Stars! link requires the exclaimation mark on the end to link properly, otherwise you’re just staring into space :)

  • Michael A.

    Ah; played both Stars! and its predecessor, VGA Planets. Good times. Pity SuperNova never got created.

    These kind of games suffer, I suspect, from being usually made by enthusiasts, though. So you get “everything and the kitchen sink” designs (e.g., like Dominions), rather than something that is leaner and more playable. One reason I am looking forward to seeing what Vic Davis comes up with for Solium Infernum is that he seems to avoid this impulse better than many independent developers.

  • Ginger Yellow

    “Since you guys have 4 members of your podcast, why not have one member issue a ‘Formal Challenge’ to another member and name their game. ”

    Four players? Formal challenge? Has to be Gauntlet, surely.

  • James Allen

    The answer to the Section 8 question is very good.

    It’s hard to tell how popular the game is on the PC because GfWL automatically filters out full servers, but I have no problems finding servers with 20-30 human players on them evenings Eastern time.

  • Paul

    James, your review of Section 8 really surprised me when I read it. A full eight! I’m still waiting for a price drop on it, but no one here cares about that.

    Anyway, good episode even if it was just rambling about whatever. Sometimes freedom to ramble is a nice break in podcast land.

    I am, however, horribly disappointed, though not surprised, that Dominions is going away. I really enjoyed that aspect of the podcast.

  • driillSGT

    Holy hell, I just played the new demo Military Madness: Nectaris on XBOX live arcade.

    I had never heard about this game before and I was prepared to dismiss it when I saw the screenshots, but after playing the demo a bit and reading through some of the rules WOW! (the rules are what really got me)

    This could be the perfect game for you guys to slug it out online with 2-4 players and nice features like a ‘chess clock’, turn limits and victory point conditions if the turns run out. You’re ‘commander’ can even gain perks if you perform well in multiplayer games. This game seems to have a lot of little tweaks to make the online experience more comfortable ( i.e. pre-turn planning), I think this pre-planning is a great idea because you don’t feel like you’re just sitting their twiddling your thumbs while you wait.

    I don’t play hardcore wargames, but this seems to have a pretty solid wargame ruleset and manages to make the battles tense and interesting despite it’s ‘battle on the moon’ setting. Give the demo a shot and let me know what you guys think :)

  • shanicus


    Military Madness! I had that game on Turbo Grafix 16 back in the early 90s. Basically, it is a turn based military game like Field Commander (PSP) or other hexed based games that are fairly popular on the Nintendo DS and PSP and, to a lesser extent, the PC.

  • James Allen


    I really like S8…I think they designed it for me and my play style. It strikes a nice balance between shooting and strategy (meaning not too much reflex-based stuff and more thinking about how to approach an enemy).
    Plus, the custom loadouts, drop anywhere, deployables, and dynamic missions are very nice features.

  • spelk

    I’ve mentioned the podcast on the Timegate Section 8 forums – we Section 8 Evangelists have to stick together :)

  • Warren

    Was still an enjoyable podcast. Julian and Tom amiably arguing over a game I’ve never played is still better than most podcasts.

    Echo sadness over Dominions 3 game death. Seconding suggestion of redo of 4 way Dom3 game blitz-style via IRC/Skype/whatever works; Possible fodder for some podcast material if recorded. Echo reminiscing re: VGA Planets & Stars!

    Wow. That was a weird style I fell into there.

  • Pulsebane

    Sorry to see the Dominions 3 game go the way of the elves. I really like the game, but I don’t have the time to play it, so listening to people I respect discussing in thoughtfully was a treat.

    Section 8 is pretty great, and I never have a problem getting into a PC game. Of course I never hit the “quick match” button. I am not even sure if they hook that button up to anything in PC games. Like the sticker of a gas gauge on my son’s stroller.