Flash of Steel header image 2

Three Moves Ahead Episode 107 – Hail, Hail, the (GDC) Gang’s All Here

March 10th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 20 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


During GDC, Tom Chick and Soren Johnson hosted a talk that was so good that a single panel couldn’t contain them. They have invaded Three Moves Ahead to talk to Rob and Bruce about why strategy gaming is in a platinum age, how the business of development is changing, and the relative importance of AI in the development process. Then Tom, Bruce, and Soren freak out over League of Legends, although Bruce is convinced it’s Land of Legends. Whatever it is, it sounds pretty good.

Tom’s evidence for strategy’s golden age of independents

Labyrinth: The War on Terror 2001 – ?

Listen here.
RSS here.
Subscribe on iTunes.


20 Comments so far ↓

  • MFToast

    Totally off-topic (Sort of), but a koala just crapped a rainbow in my brain with this article:


  • David Brake

    Thanks for the podcast – Tom and Bruce together again at last! It would be a really great service if you could put up links to as many as possible of the games that you mentioned as being good just above so we can easily check them out…

  • Rob Zacny

    I know I promised links, and we will have some. I think Tom is actually writing up a little companion piece to this episode, and I will link to that ASAP.

  • Arlothe

    Great cast, one of the best. My only complaint was that I winced when I heard Tom Chick introduced as a guest with no cup of coffee joke.

    I’m not saying it’s inaccurate, just that I winced.

  • Troy

    MFToast, I read the article a few days ago and am working out a commentary on it.

  • Riso

    As long as Bruce is still semi-regularily appearing the podcast is doing more than fine.

  • Troy

    The return of Bruce brings me great joy. Now that I am more settled, I hope to be on a couple of times a month, too.

  • Tom Chick

    Arlothe, the coffee reference doesn’t come until the end of the podcast!

  • Quinten

    I like hearing that Bruce is playing games more often.
    I like the comparison of fighting games to RTS’s, and that is how I approach an RTS. League of Legends sounds interesting, and I think there should be a link to it at the bottom of the podcast.

  • treq

    I think this is one of the best episodes i’ve heard on 3ma. Thank you Rob.

  • kabutor

    I will love to have links to those 6 games you talked at the beggining of the podcast.

  • Jon Shafer

    Wish I could have been on this episode… was fighting off a nasty strain of GDC flu that laid me out for a few days. In any case, a good listen. :)


  • Quasar

    This really was a special episode I thought, not that the other episodes under the new regime have not also been good.

    Interesting to hear the positive thoughts about LoL from Bruce and others. All I’ve ever heard about the communities surrounding LoL and Heroes of Newerth is how unfriendly they are. I had actually been hoping that Valve might have been able to solve that particular issue with their game.

    The discussion about the state of the industry was also interesting. I’ve never really had a good feel for it, as I only ever hear about such a small sliver of it as strategy games gets so little press in terms of publishers and the games press (aside from the likes games like Civ, Total War, Starcraft, etc). The exceptions are few.

    Thinking about the comments on the difficulty of boardgame designs to go digital I find it kind of interesting to see how many euro games ala Carcasonne and Catan have made it over and how well they seem to work on a range of platforms from a range of developers (and thus interpretations).

    Anyway, keep it up guys. Tom and Bruce need to be on together more often.

  • MFToast

    Just had to say, the screenshot for AI Wars in Tom Chick’s article contains what looks like a boss from Tyrian 2000 (The smaller ship in the pic). Anybody else know what I’m talking about? Bizarre.

    Example: http://media.gamerevolution.com/images/games/pc/tyrian_2000/tyrian_2000_004.jpg

  • Peter S

    Really good discussion, guys – one of my favourite 3MA eps in a while. I loved the exploration of the key issues in the strategy games industry – how developers actually operate, business model, AI, game design, how these relate to each other – and I loved having Bruce, Tom and Soren on the show, all together.

    Re: intuitive and transparent rules, I wrote about the topic a while back (http://matchstickeyes.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/the-appeal-of-common-sense-intuitive-gameplay/) but with a rather different meaning. I define it to mean more or less playing by what seems intuitively reasonable, or common-sensical rather than relying on knowledge of game-specific rules. So for example, you can play Total War with common sense without having to look at rulebooks or numbers (if I can see a line of heavy cavalry galloping at infantry with their backs turned, I don’t need to look up stats or rules to guess the outcome) whereas I suspect that those same rules/stats often being hidden would disqualify it from Bruce’s definition.

    MF Toast – I believe at least some versions of AI War used public-domain artwork, and I believe that includes Tyrian.

  • doctorfrog

    This is one your best episodes. I really enjoyed the discussion about AI, and how different folk react and value AI. Personally, I feel that if your AI cannot handle the game mechanics you have programmed it for, you have a broken game. Either trim your mechanics, introduce an artifice for giving the AI an unfair advantage (as in AI War), or build a better AI. Both AI War and Bronze deserve major kudos for addressing this issue head on: AI War creates an asymmetrical battlefield, and the play mechanics of Bronze were designed with AI capabilities firmly in mind. Civ 5 is a fine example of ignoring AI capability in favor of bitchin’ cool mechanics, and hoping that franchise popularity will help it coast long enough to make a profit.

  • RW117

    Rob, great show! I listened to all the episodes and the quality of the show remains the same under your helm.