Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 40 – Listeners Write Back

November 25th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 10 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Troy, Bruce and Julian deal with a few questioners listeners brought to the panel. Can noobs and experts play together? What is the place of AI in current game design? Why do we keep doing this? And where is Tom?

Thanks for your questions, and keep them coming. We might do this again some time soon.

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.

Bruce Geryk on MOO3
Julian on Populous
Rob Zacny on Black & White
Solium Infernum Live Blogging


10 Comments so far ↓

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    Thanks for airing some of my questions Troy, and thanks to the panel for their answers.

    I think the magic ingredient for TMA, speaking as a dedicated listener, is the mix of your backgrounds and personalities and the broad coverage of the entire gaming spectrum – obviously centered around strategy games most run-of-the-mill gaming podcasts won’t talk about.

    I played single player Demigod, and found it a dull war of attrition, with little in the way of strategy. The last thing I wanted to do was to go online with it, and be beasted by strangers, especially with strangers who probably have a lot more time to spend on learning the intricacies of each demigod and their powers. Also, with competitive multiplayer gaming, comes a certain amount of ‘trash talking’ however, with strangers it just comes across as plain rude and aggressive. If you’ve come to know a bunch of folks even if they’re only ‘net friends’, you at least still have a level of consideration and appreciation of them as persons. Anonymous pseudonym toting aggressive strangers just seems like torturing yourself by people who don’t have any concern for you as a gamer, and who given half the chance would rather find some way or exploit to win, for the sake of a high score or a leaderboard placing or whatever. Its so impersonal, and seems so harsh, that it comes across as very hostile, and something I wouldn’t spend precious time pursuing.

    If I play a action title on a public server, I’m usually surrounded by a protective set of friends only chat, and most of the players I rub up against, are mere additional unpredictable bots. In fact I’ve had more fun in Section 8 playing against the AI bots there, than I’ve ever had in Modern Warfare against public anonymous strangers.

    I’ve been a big fan of the iPhone as a viable gaming platform, and I think its perfectly pitched for strategy and board gaming, the beauty of it is palpable; no cartridges, no UMD discs, no stylus necessary, esoteric homebrew development, cost effective for the gamer (a dollar a pop most games), more portable than the other handhelds, more useful than other handhelds for basic 20th century communications and media playback. Admittedly there are 90,000 apps out there, and 95% are useless or cash ins, however there are some excellent strategic portable gaming out there that just need to be weeded out.

    A lot of the early slew of iPhone games seem to be overly fascinated with making the gyroscope tilt mechanic or use a plethora of finger twirling and drawing, but conservative touch screen use can be quite satisfying when moving strategic tiles or zooming in and out from a map. The best iPhone games are the ones that use these interface mechanics sparingly to support the game, rather than be key novelty to the appeal of the game

    Examples of decent portable iPhone strategy games are:

    Defender Chronicles: Legend of the Desert King
    Romance of the Three Kingdoms
    The Myth of Hero Legends (similar to Battle of Tiles)
    Mecho Wars (is better than Uniwar)
    Rogue Planet (Advance Wars meets Mass Effect)
    Tradewinds 2
    Lux DLX (Risk)
    Civilisation Revolution
    Reiner Knizia’s Knights of Charlemagne
    Orions: Legend of Wizards (card collecting battler)
    The Settlers
    Animal Kingdom (Jungle Chess)

    Recommendation for a pan global Strategy and Wargaming community – The Wargamer (wargamer.com)

    My internet handle ‘spelk’ is a North Eastern (mackem) English slang term for a sliver of wood embedded in your finger. Essentially a slang term for a splinter. However it can also mean a persons who is very thin, like a splinter. And I adopted it because I rolled a fat ogre in the original EverQuest game, and I liked the idea that he would be thought of as slim and a niggling annoyance easily removed. Has Tom, Troy or Bruce ever used an Internet nom de plume, if so what was it?

  • Punning Pundit

    I’m going to agree with Ian about your different backgrounds colliding into something quite good. I remember realizing once that your panel had gotten advanced degrees in all the things I got my BA in (save medicine, which I’d never studied). It lead me to think “these guys are like me, but better educated”. It was a nice thought.

    One quick thought on iPhone gaming: the battery life on that thing is so poor that I’m always hesitant to actually game on the go– I don’t want to lose my phone because field runners rocks.

    I was _very_ amused at the disbelief over the demigod single player percentage. Methinks there’s a bit of selection bias going on. :) I’ve _never_ played a game of that online, and I don’t really want to. If I’m going to game with friends, I want to play _with_ them, rather than against them. And playing with strangers is not much fun at all.

  • Troy

    Selection bias? Maybe.

    I play almost all my strategy games single player, though. I hardly ever MP beyond the occasional board game or skirmish for a game I am reviewing. So I understand why people prefer single player. I do, too, for many of the reasons Bruce outlined.

    However, Demigod is surprising to me because it is such a multiplayer centered game. The single player game is a series of tournaments, and you’d have to be pretty bored to win a tournament with every Demigod. This was readily apparent, I think, in all the coverage of the game. This isn’t your ordinary RTS.

  • Ginger Yellow

    What Troy said. Company of Heroes is just about the only strategy game other than Demigod I’ve played more than a couple of multiplayer matches on. Yet it never even occurred to me not to play Demigod multiplayer after a few warm-up singleplayer games, because that’s so obviously what it’s designed for.

    I do think people, especially in the gaming industry, massively underestimate the number of people who only play RTSes singleplayer. But I was still surprised by the 23% multiplayer figure for Demigod.

  • Punning Pundit

    I’ve been playing Demigod since day 1. It’s a highly enjoyable game– that I’ve never played multiplayer. It is a bit thing, but I don’t know what I’d get out of MP that I’m not getting from SP– other than dropped connections and trash talk from strangers. All the game modes are the same, right?

  • Quinten

    I prefer single player to multi player because I don’t like the pace MP introduces in strategy games. It’s like having your opponent in a board game able to do five turns while you contemplate one, because they play the game more. I only like MP with friends I know, and even that is rare since my friends have different gaming tastes than me, outside of shooters.
    I am a recent fan of Memoir ’44, but I understand Bruce’s dismissing it in the context of the question. Flames of War and ASL are concerned with minutia, while Memoir paints history in broad, abstract strokes. I like Memoir because my friends who live near me aren’t as hardcore about boardgames and wargames as I want to be, and I can teach it quick and easy. Plus, it looks cool. I will be picking up the ASL Starter kit #1 soon though. ASL sounds interesting to me in the same way as Nethack, which I love, and Dwarf Fortress, which is almost incomprehensible to me. They are games where the rules allow for almost anything, and hearing this from Bruce and Julian makes me excited to try it.

  • dingus

    Great job on this Troy. I really enjoyed listening and hope you consider doing this a couple of times a year. I’m almost tempted to suggest you make it a regular feature, but I think everybody would roll their eyes if I did that.

    Also, thanks for answering my question. That was very cool.

  • Paul

    I love the podcast and listen to it every week. Thank you for the laughs and incredible insight about strategy gaming that I can’t find anywhere else.

  • Paul

    oh. I forgot to add that I didn’t hear anyone mention Sword of the Stars in the 4x discussion. I was wondering if that was a mistake, or if it should be forgotten since it was that bad?

    I was thinking of picking this up.

  • Tom Grant

    Whether or not the Demigod multiplayer numbers were affected by the problems at the launch, one thing is for sure: the recent pronouncements of the death of single-player games were total BS. Some industry pundits need to take a deep, cleansing breath.