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Three Moves Ahead Episode 141 – Failing Basic

November 4th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 10 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Rob summons Troy and Julian for an emergency therapy session about how many strategy games simply cannot get their acts together when it comes to basic standards. The panel discusses busted cameras and mouse controls, disastrous campaigns, and nonexistent endgames.

The beginning of the Subversion saga

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Kergguz

    Didn’t Frozen Synapse and Shogun 2 come out in 2011? None of you mentioned those during the games of 2011 part. Great show as usual though.

  • Vinraith

    I’m sure we’ll get a 2011 retrospective show once we’re closer to the end of the year, but one of my favorite strategy titles this year has been the “Light of the Spire” expansion for AI War. You guys might be due to revisit that one, actually, through three expansions Arcen has turned it into an almost unrecognizable game compared to what it was when last 3MA had a look at it. It was pretty great back then, it’s one of my all time favorite strategy games now.

    Speaking of space games, the upcoming Distant Worlds expansion might bear a look too. I’m pretty excited about the feature list, anyway, there seems to be a lot of character-driven stuff going into it.

    Back to something resembling topic, though, I was really disappointed about Stronghold 3. Being something of a natural turtler I’ve always had a real affection for defense building games, and it’s not like a lot of them get made. To have that release turn out so badly is just a huge loss, does it look like it might at least be fixable through patching?

    The SotS2 mess, at least, seems to be getting tidied up as fast as Kerberos can do so. Rumor has it that was a launch about “getting a cash infusion before the studio collapses” but that doesn’t make it acceptable. Then again it’s Paradox, and as much as I adore them they’re not historically known for the product going out the door finished. To their credit, they ARE known for doggedly patching things until they’re fixed, though, and Kerberos has a fairly solid record in that regard as well.

    Anyway, great show as always, and I’m glad to hear the pledge drive went so well.

  • Hawkeye Fierce

    Obvious joke is obvious, but you really SHOULD do a game on Football Manager.

  • Hawkeye Fierce

    Podcast, that is. Not game.

  • Masta De Gumbo

    year’s not over. Anno 2070 on the horizon, no?


  • Bruce

    I dunno what world you guys live in, but League of Legends has a fixed perspective because it is an e-sport, and one thing this does is that it keeps control of presentation.

    It’s also historically accurate. How large were units in real life? Actual size. So having a zoom function makes no sense because you cannot just magically make things look smaller unless you fly up in an airplane.

  • Anders

    Still holding my breath in hopes you guys get to talk to the people behind Xenonauts….

  • Tynan Sylvester

    You’re right, MOBA sounds stupid.

    It’s even internally redundant. “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”? Multiplayer and Online mean the same thing, and Arena implies Battle. You could compress it to “Multiplayer Arena”, but then you’d realize that it covers so much that it means almost nothing. It’s like bad student writing 101.

    I thought this genre was called ARTS as in “Action RTS”? It related them to RTS games, communicates the concept, and isn’t infuriating.

    Or, perhaps, RTT as in “Real-Time Tactics”. I remember people used to call Myth that, and WiC and DOTA fit the mold of RTS games without building.

    There is hope. I hadn’t heard “MOBA” before this show, so it might still be small and weak enough to kill.

  • kenny b

    Nuanced, powerful controls are difficult to make, even if other games have them, even if those games are old and supposedly “industry-standard”. If it’s not considered a priority it’s not hard to screw them up, especially on strategy titles where the controls are generally going to be complex and UI-heavy. If they are not properly quality-controlled /with people who aren’t familiar with them/ it’s hard to identify problems, because your existing devs or QA might have already adjusted to the quirks and don’t actually see them anymore. It’s our job to make it look like the controls were easy to make because they feel so good. :)

    Re: Left mouse button for everything… if it was a cross-platform title you can blame Macs. Alternatively, you can blame hyper-accessibility dictating that your average fundamentalist Christian gamer (an oxymoron?) doesn’t know how to use the right button. :)

    Monaco is a good example of a game that’s seen success from a dev who decided to drop their ongoing project. Too bad it’s not /actually/ finished yet, but the IGF 2010 success made it into a cool reboot story. There’s a similar reboot story with Alec Holowka’s Marian reboot (though that’s more about an impractical production model) and his recent work on the “Alone” project he’s just started with another indie dev. It’s much easier and more refreshing for indies to decide to cut their losses and change course.

  • laler

    Speaking about basics, while everyone were orgasming from playing Panzer Corps, i looked at it in astonishment. NO indicator of whether a unit has moved or not in the unit list ??? In 2011 ??? Wow, talk about a dev playing his own game so much he doesnt even know what a semi-decent UI is like. On huge maps its crippling. In-game help is horrendous, i had to actually go to gamefaqs to see WHY pioneers were costing more than ordinary infantry squad, despite having worse stats. Nope, its not told to the player anywhere in the game, or the manual. Talk about basics…what a badly designed game that is.