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Three Moves Ahead Episode 87: Borrowing and Personalization

October 21st, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 18 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Hellmode‘s Ashelia (aka Rhea Monique) joins Rob and Julian for a discussion of how strategy games can learn from other genres.

Rob also coins the Old Country Buffet approach to strategy game design.

The October pledge drive continues with a more subdued plea for money.

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18 Comments so far ↓

  • Ralph Trickey

    I just started listening, putting togther the last two podcast about supply with the initial comments about controlling at a higher level, my first that was that you really want a wargame where you can just play the supply officer, right?

    Hey, they just put out a dungeon crawl where you play the shopkeeper, so why not?


  • Chris King

    Having listened to this I have to agree with the point about RTS games. The RTS campaign mode is a very nice way to teach people the game. You start off with one building and one unit it makes it a very nice way to break a new player in. The problem with other strategy games, let’s not mention names, but say Victoria 2, is that the game world is difficult to atomise that way. I would have loved to have been able to remove large chunks of the games at start and then gentle introduce them in via some mechanism like technology. Not only would have it made the game easier to get into it would also have given the player a sense of progress and achievement. However, when you create interlocking game systems it becomes difficult to decouple them like that.

  • Jan Karell

    Argh I just turned this on and the sound is in the left ear and in the right ear and it’s terrible. Really, really terrible.

    I think I’ll have to go and convert it into mono or something to get rid of this because at the moment the episode is unlistenable on headphones.

  • Troy

    Sorry about that Jan. The recording I was using was in stereo and I couldn’t remember how to convert it to mono on the Audacity version I have on my netbook. I *always* record in mono precisely because of this.

    Given how long it takes to do anything on this machine, I did mix the tracks some to make the right/left less extreme, but clearly not enough.

  • frags

    The whole RPG mechanic of building a character is becoming more prevalent with strategy games. Shogun 2 Total War with the upgrading your assassins, End of Nations with persistent users, and who knows how AOE online will turn up, but you can bet there is going to be MMO/character persistent features in it.

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    Rob briefly mentioned Valkyria Chronicles on the podcast. VC is also a great example of some of the other things discussed, such as genre blending and the use of a first or tight third-person perspective.

    Rhea/Ashelia mentioned permadeath of hero units — FFT let hero units die, but the trade-off was that those characters were immediately written out of the plot once they joined your party.

  • MikeO

    You should have Rhea on again, she was really good. I think a lot of us have been playing these games since the early ’90s or before, and it’s nice to get the younger perspective.

  • Troy

    Rhea is definitely going into the pool of people I want back on the show – and it’s already a long list.

  • Tony K

    Suggestion for a future topic:
    Will the Free-2-play revolution come to strategy games and will it work? What will need to happen to game mechanics for this business model shift?

    We are seeing the success now in the West of F2P. D&D Online, LOTRO, League of Legends, and now even Team Fortress 2. The first F2P strategy game I know of is Company of Heroes which I have tried. It’s good but needs to still build out its virtual item store. Also I think I heard the new Age of Empires Online will also be F2P. The question will be will more strategy games go this model since its pretty much proven that packaged box sales just won’t cut it anymore.

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    Further to Tony K’s question, how successful would F2P be for strategy sub-genres OTHER than RTS?

  • fmdickerson

    A quick musing on match making in strategy games, which was discussed (briefly) in this podcast.

    Starcraft 2 has very effective matchmaking in terms of skill balancing (at least in my experience). It seems clear to me that a big component of this success is that games are short, which produces a relatively large number of data points on each player relatively quickly. This allows the system to “slot” players effectively into leagues.

    I would love a way to replicate this for games that are longer than the typical RTS (Sins, Civilization, etc.), but I am not sure how to get over the data points hurdle. Maybe we could pull data points from single player, or track some kind of in game statistic that would correlate with skill (maybe something like resource collection rates in SC2, which correlate with being in the upper vs. lower divisions)?

  • Tony K

    to repeat above comments, Rhea was quite good. I liked her analysis. Fresh new voice.

  • Quinten

    If there was a F2P Panzer General, where I unlock new tanks, can go head to head with opponents in play by email matches, my units level up and gain experience/abilities, and I could buy digital clothes for my general avatar…. I would probably end up dropping out of college… and life, dropping out of life.

  • jwiv

    A little behind on listening to podcasts so this comment is a wee bit late, but oh god did it warm my heart to hear the discussion of Allegiance. It was an amazing game that was ultimately crippled due to some significant design flaws that – namely a poor commander could cripple your team. Researching the wrong tech tree or poor positioning of the harvesters by a single person would negate the efforts of the 23 or so other people on the team that were busy flying and dying for their cause.

    That said, there is still a community supporting and playing the game and they can be found at http://freeallegiance.org/

  • Iain

    I have to agree about the stereo – it was almost unbearable. I managed to change the settings on my MP3 player to fix it.

    Rhea was excellent. Get her on again.

  • kenny b

    This is almost certainly the Blue Byte game you were grasping for:


  • Erez

    Where’s Tom when you need it? They’ve been asking about a story, being able to zoom in, traveling between fights, playing a role… BRUTAL LEGEND!

  • TallFurryMan

    Just a note about the “stereo”: I believe having the three mono voices to span 75% on either side would solve that problem. Yes that would be that cool to have Rhea in the middle, Rob on the left, Julian on the right, and an omniscient Troy in the whole background ;]

    I believe you can fix that fairly quick by asking for support here: https://lists.sourceforge.net/lists/listinfo/audacity-users

    Note that it doesn’t kept me from listening! Just couldn’t bear it with headphones. Keep up the good job :]