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Three Moves Ahead Episode 80: Question Time

September 1st, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 16 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


This week, the sound is terrible again mostly because my wireless refuses to cooperate. Big promise to fix this next week – I thought I had the problem solved.

But if you bear with us, you will hear Troy and Rob answer some questions from listeners about logistics, making losing fun, why games are released unfinished and a dozen other topics.

Listen here.
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16 Comments so far ↓

  • Michael A.

    Alexander the Great as the “Babe Ruth” of Ancients. Heh.

    Not entirely in agreement with Rob’s comments on Napoleon’s merits; IMO, he takes the credit for a lot of reforms developed by others, but hey – I’ll let it slide. I agree with the Napoleonic period being interesting for exactly the reasons mentioned.

    I really need to listen to the politics podcast.

  • Cory

    Great podcast as always, Troy. I noticed you guys mentioned Master of Orion 2. You can actually buy Master of Orion 1 & 2 on GOG.com for only $6. Runs on modern systems too.


  • jorune

    Good show, but I find the Q&A better with more people. You two are more grognardy…but now that I think about it, so is Julian. Only reason I miss Tom is that he’s more of the everyday strategy gamer, while most of you guys love your wargames and historical time periods, hexes, etc. ;-) Strategy gaming is indeed a niche, but their are niches within the niche. Good show nonetheless.

    TECH: Couldn’t you record on your laptop, so in this way be closer to your wireless router and than possibly run a cable wire right into it?


  • Troy

    Everything is better with more people.

  • Daniel Frandsen

    Age of Empires Online was playable at Gamescom, and I had a chance to play a mission for a little over a half hour. Being someone whose first RTS was Age of Empires II, I have a little bias but here’s some quick impressions:

    – Gameplay seems to be pulled directly out of AoE II, with some minor tweaks. For example: rather than a separate drop pile for each type of resource (mill, wood pile, mine), there is one drop pile that handles any type of resource.
    – The era the game spans is the same as AoE 2, with infantry / archery / cavalry / siege. I didn’t get to the last age, so I’m not sure if they expanded how many ages there are.
    – The capitol city idea remains from AoE 3, but the card system is gone in favor of other types of upgrades. You level your city through experience earned on missions, those levels gain you access to abilities that can be used in-game. In the demo, I could spawn a gold mine, call in mercenary units for a limited time, etc. I also remember reading somewhere about upgrades that are attachable to units, but didn’t get a chance to see it in gameplay.

  • One Move Behind – Expanded Question Time | RobZacny.com

    […] after we recorded the latest Three Moves Ahead, I realized Troy and I had over-discussed each question and under-answered many of them. I would […]

  • Quinten

    Battlefield Heroes seems to be successful, or at least self sufficient. They make it easy to buy little buffs and other things in game, and the value for the money is sometimes worth it. I will say the coolest things are cosmetic items, and those are most expensive. The good thing about the cosmetic items is they are unnecessary to enjoy the game play.

  • Jimmy Brown

    One thing I miss as a result of following gaming nesw the way I do now is the experience of picking up a game because the box makes it sound like an interesting idea. That how I bought Shogun: Total War. Deus Ex is my favorite game to this point, and I had never heard of it before I picked up the box. I wanted an FPS to test out my new computer, and the box made it sound more interesting than a run-of-the-mill shooter.

  • Jimmy Brown

    I should explain that the above was prompted by the discussion of how tycoon games sell.

  • Michael A.

    Well, given all the excitement about and around Elemental, I suspect your next episode is going to break all records for listeners. Better work on those sound issues.

  • Jared H.

    I agree with Rob, having Question episodes a bit more often sounds like a good idea.

  • Mind Elemental

    Hi Troy – thrilled to hear you guys anwer my question! :D

    I really liked Rob’s suggestion that the “bonus” buildings of one era should become the “malus” buildings of the next era. Rob mentioned an interest in eras when there’s a military paradigm shift — and similarly, I’d like to see games tackle social and economic paradigm shifts. His idea would be a cool way of modelling elites and vested interests opposing reform.

  • Larry

    I realize that Rob didn’t have the benefit of seeing the questions beforehand, but as a former military logistician and long-time strategy gamer, I felt his thoughts on logistics in gaming missed the mark.

    Sure AGEOD and the Operational Art of War model logistics, but in both of those examples, logistics is mostly abstracted; the player is only minimally involved in operating the supply and transport system.

    I think good logistics games get the player involved in establishing transport routes, building transport capacity, linking resources to production sites, moving troops / supplies to the combat area and maintaining replacement / supply levels.

    If a game pulls these elements together well, logistics adds a new dimension to gameplay. For example, strategies that leverage interdiction (destroying the enemy’s transport units), and active defense (defending a large area with fewer troops using a good transport network) are much more potent and satisfying when the game has a detailed logistics model.

    My list of games that do this well would contain:

    The Settlers series where the player must build an efficient road network linking resources to production, and then getting troops to the battlefield.

    CivIV where you have to establish transport networks and ‘get there the fastest with the mostest.’

    Distant Worlds also has some great logistical elements (like most 4x games). For example, when you have to travel across the galaxy to “mine” an abandoned warship hoard. This often involves establishing one or more refueling points, sending construction ships to repair the abandoned craft, and finally sending a fairly strong fleet to take and defend the site. Then once you start repairing the abandoned ships, you have to get all of that hardware back to your empire.

    Then there is the ultimate logistics game (in my opinion): Grigsby’s War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. The player has to master the details of transporting supplies and troops over great distances. Logistics is often the main consideration for strategy. Picking a target for invasion mostly has to do with establishing a logistics base that serves as the stepping stone to the enemy’s main territory.

  • Rob Zacny

    Here’s my thinking: I don’t want to get bogged down doing staff work, but I do want to be forced to construct plans around logistical realities. Many of the better TOAW scenarios do this well. Logistics are abstracted, but they still have to be taken into account. From your supply points to the front, the supply capacity of each hex is determined by things like road quality and rail capacity, continuity of the supply line, and distance. So you are constantly thinking about issues like leakage (behind-the-lines units topping off their supplies while front-line units see supplies arrive at a trickle) and capacity. Then there’s the importance of keeping HQ units and formations together for supply bonuses.

    That’s probably about as hands-on as I need to get. In some scenarios, of course, supply barely factors in. But others are completely determined by logistics. The August 1914 scenario in TOAW 3 becomes, on the German side, a test of your ability to maintain momentum on the right flank without burning out your units.

    AGEOD games are even more hands-on. Before any kind of campaign you’re thinking about where to position depots, how many supply wagons to an army needs, and what lines of march you can get away with.

  • Dirk Knemeyer

    Good show. I’m behind on my podcast listening so apologies for timing.

    The (good!) question was asked: how can a game be more like the course of real history – undulating, often bad, not always pretty or positive – and still keep players happy and engaged? I suspect it is a simple answer: the game needs to make explicit and, in practice, reinforce that doing bad for a while isn’t going to screw your whole game. We have been conditioned to expect that we need to get on the front of the curve early and then stay there or else we’re screwed. It is just “how games play”. We would need to be re-taught that it is fine to be couped, or lose a huge war, or see your hated rival accomplish something super-spectacular good and *still* we can end up “on top”.

    Put more simply, we need to know losing the battle doesn’t cost us the whole war, and indeed that the best rewards might just come from eating dirt for a while in order to do even better. This sort of shift would also help move our expectations toward enjoying the journey moreso than simply playing for the victory.

  • Michael A.

    Interesting point.

    In board games, I usually distinguish between games that I play to “win” and games that I play to “experience”. Pretty much every euro game is something that I play to win – whereas games like Empires in Arms, Republic of Rome, War of the Ring… these are games that I play to experience them. I still play to WIN, of course, but winning or losing is not crucial to my enjoyment of the game. What is fun is to experience the game, and then afterwards be able to share the stories.

    Did I tell you about the game when Ney captured London – twice? Or Frodo slam-dunked the ring of power into mount doom with the free peoples all but destroyed and only one corruption token left to draw? Memories are priceless, even if the victories and defeats may sometimes have more to do with luck than actual skill.

    I think it is the capacity to generate – and share – narrative that makes the big difference. The problem with the computer games is that usually games do not support creating a narrative, and even when they do, you rarely have the possibility of sharing it easily. Where it is (e.g., the AAR community that Paradox has managed to grow), you see much more of an acceptance of this type of game.