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Three Moves Ahead Episode 128 – Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Topics

August 4th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 15 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Freelance writer Phill Cameron joins Rob and Troy for a discussion of the games they’ve been playing that haven’t quite fit into recent writings or podcasts. New Men of War DLC, Troy and Rob’s changing views on Panzer Corps, RTS time-traveler Achron, high-level Blood Bowl, Out of the Park 11, and racing games all come up for discussion in this open-ended discussion.

Hazardous Software’s Youtube account, with Achron videos.
Sim HQ Racing Guide for Beginners

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15 Comments so far ↓

  • Ginger Yellow

    I’m a bit surprised it didn’t come up, but on this side of the pond the equivalent to OOTP is Football Manager. It too is updated every year and has the same sort of feature creep – from the sound of things, it puts OOTP to shame in the absurdly granular level of detail stakes. But the really funny thing is that far from leaving people behind, Football Manager is consistently the best selling PC game in the country, year after year.

  • Ginger Yellow

    Also, Achron sounds amazing. Is it worth getting in beta state or should I hold out for the official release?

  • ryepunk

    blood bowl league? Yes please!

  • Skyrider68

    I took an interest in your comments on what I perceived as a sidebar on the subject of simulation fidelity in the context of overall game enjoyment. In other words, where is the threshold where too much detail starts to detract rather than add to the enjoyment of a game? Each individual’s taste will vary, of course.

    I think the question might be easier answered in the scope of what the designer needs to accomplish. Someone designing a flight simulator to train a military fighter pilot certainly paints with a different brush than the game designer making a simulation-type game for the entertainment market. Why are some game designers oblivious to this reality?

    Is your OOTP game is suffering from its own particular strain of “feature creep”? What has been the feedback from the user base? Positive? Negative? If enough people playing the game say they like stuff like “player mood,” “shoe contracts,” and “tracking the number of times baseball players ‘adjust’ themselves,” you have a runaway train on your hands. Sure, some statistical fidelity is nice, but some of these features/details in sports games do seem to cross the line of absurdity.

  • Rob Zacny

    I think if Achron sounds amazing to you, you’ll probably enjoy it. But they are still nailing down some major issues, and I’m still working out what I think of the game as a whole. Like I said, there’s the Big Idea and then there’s the game. If the Big Idea sounds cool enough to you, you’ll probably put up with whatever baggage and shortcomings the game brings along.

    @Skyrider, the issue of detail threshholds is a topic in itself. We should discuss it, because I’ve been mulling over what it is that pushes additional details from being enriching to over-saturating a game.

  • Roke

    Achron blew my mind… the possibilities with the time travel mechanic are amazing.

    I’ve liked some of the recent additions to OOTP and disliked others. Draft slotting was a big win in my mind as I wanted the draft to be similar to what I know about MLB. I follow the finances in the sports I watch though so I can see that it might be too much detail. On the other hand, the Dynamic Evolving League thing doesn’t feel right to me and I always have it disabled.

    I have a question though. Do player personalities or mental attributes actually affect on-field performance or “chemistry”? I have only played single player games but I don’t pay much attention and haven’t seen any ill effects from ignoring them.

    I assume that you have a few players who won’t sign with crappy teams and I have had players complain about playing time but other than that I can’t figure out how it effects what is going on during the games. It seems nebulous to me, especially with baseball being a fairly individualistic sport.

    In my mind Football Manager handles mental attributes a lot better than OOTP. If a guy has poor composure it means that he’s more likely to miss when he has a clear-cut scoring chance. Someone with creativity will be able to pick out those brilliant passes, the hard-working guy will close down opponents, and so-on.

    Similarly for personalities, a guy who is ambitious will want to move to bigger clubs, determined players will work their socks off, and players of similar personalities will work better on the pitch.

    I’m skipping OOTP 12, but I would like to see a little more functionality added like the ability to customize the stats on the player profile page. I’ve gotten big into sabermetrics over the past year and a half and when building my lineups I would rather look at rate stats, ISO, wOBA and others rather than the less informative counting doubles, triples, R, RBI, etc. It would save me a few clicks and I’m spoiled by Fangraphs’ custom dashboards when I look at real-life statistics.

  • Skyrider68

    >@Skyrider, the issue of detail threshholds is a topic in itself. We should discuss it, because I’ve been mulling over what it is that pushes additional details from being enriching to over-saturating a game.

    I look forward to listening to such an episode. I will be interested to see how you structure it in the framework of a podcast about strategy gaming.

  • Troy


    Feature creep is always a problem in any game that focuses on let players plan ahead or have reliable expectations based on formula and performance – flight sims are predictable technical physics engines that just kept throwing stuff in after all. Soren Johnson, I know, has long warned that this was a peril for strategy gaming in general and I think that sports sims are right on the edge of lunacy, with the difference being that you can probably make more money banking on the Asperger tendencies of a FIFA or MLB or NCAA fan than you can on the similar leanings of a War of the Spanish Succession fanatic.

    There is a line, but the trouble is that defining that line is equally perilous. I point you to the Western Civ games published by Matrix, which had many good game elements but also let you customize your experience and detail so finely that there was no real sense of how the separate systems were connected. In some ways, this is the inevitable course of more detail. You want keep the super Sim nerds enthused and buying new versions, but not alienate people who are solid fans but don’t want to mess with concessions or scouting or running around African leagues in Burkina Faso looking for a new striker. Letting some systems be “optional” usually cuts them off from real engagement or impact, let alone education or training.

    It is not an easy decision for devs. The hardcore are your bread and butter in some niche instances and you need to give them new reasons to buy. I do wonder if this is sometime sacrificing the future for the immediate cash hit.

  • Anders

    Have you guys had a look at STORM Frontline Nation? Or going to? I can’t recall it ever being mentioned.

  • Jarmo

    About the Blood Bowl single player game: The game does not cheat. You’ve just had bad luck with the dice rolls. It happens. Play more and it’ll go away. I’ve played about a hundred SP games and two hundred MP games and the dice are fair. Maddening, cruel, capricious and elusive but fair.

    The AI takes crazy risks no human would (especially on easy, on hard, not so much) and sometimes succeeds and then it’s really easy to think that the game cheats. How else to explain the four dodges and a long bomb pass that led to a touchdown? The phenomenon is mostly confirmation bias in action, a very human reaction.

    A cracker looked at the game dice code and ran it separately a huge number of times. The result: each number came up with a probability of 1/6 to a ridiculous number of decimals. He also created a cheating program that showed the rolls coming up. Watching those you could see that the AI uses the same rolls and does not know what is coming up. (The cheat program can’t be used any more, Cyanide added more security to the rolls to prevent it. There has been no proven cases of MP dice cheating since.)

  • Troy


    I think that Phill has played it and mentioned it briefly. It’s certainly on the long list of things I need to catch up on.

  • Erik Hanson

    It’s OK to mix up writers on GWJ. Especially because I think JP and Cory are two of the few beardless regulars.

  • Shaun

    I’m late to the party here, so I doubt this will go noticed, but I felt compelled to respond when I heard Rob’s comment about losing track of the world while he’s working on lap times.

    Congratulations. You have achieved what a vast majority of racing boils down to. Once you have memorized the track (which I would highly suggest as opposed to taking your cues from a racing line) you can slip into this zone where your subconscious takes care of the actual driving. Time will go by without you noticing. You will think about a vast array of things that have *nothing* to do with the game you’re playing. Your heart rate will drop, as will your lap times and the amount of errors you make.

    There are plenty of names for this but “the zone” is the most common I’ve heard. Its a common occurrence among endurance drivers like you see at Le Mans – and it is a very good sign that you’re “getting it”. It wont be long before you’ll be ready for the harder sim racers.

  • Ian

    Where is the link to the racing guide you guys discussed?

  • Troy Goodfellow

    Sorry about that! Rob forgot to add it and I didn’t notice.