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Three Moves Ahead Episode 121 – Pride of Nations and Philippe Thibaut

June 15th, 2011 by Rob Zacny · 13 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


Paradox France’s Philippe Thibaut and GWJ’s Erik Hanson colonize 3MA this week to talk about Pride of Nations, Paradox France’s new grand-strategy game of imperialism. Erik and Rob are intrigued by Pride’s cynical view of colonial competition and its novel mechanics. Philippe explains the game’s origins and how it is at once a departure for Paradox France and a natural extension of their work as AGEOD. The Victoria II comparison comes up for discussion, and Erik and Philippe discuss the game design challenges of the Civil War.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Hudson

    the only thing that sucks about this podcast is that now not a bad word will be said about any Paradox game…and its basically an advertising forum. Lame

  • Rob Zacny

    The last time we covered Paradox in any depth was when I interviewed Johann Andersson in early March. I’ll help you out: that was over three months ago.

    You may also have missed the part where Pride of Nations is a very new game and we have had limited time with it. When I haven’t spent a lot of time with a game, I generally don’t start shooting my mouth off about it. I like to understand something before I bash it, which is an example you should feel free to emulate.

    Pride of Nations makes a good first impression, and Philippe Thibaut is an interesting interview. I wanted to hear what he had to say about the game. So we had a conversation, and it didn’t get too critical. I wasn’t in a position to go there, and this was our first time talking to Philippe on the show. You’ll have to forgive me for not turning it into “Crossfire.”

    I’m sorry you don’t enjoy hearing us talk to developers, or hearing developers explain what their game is about, and the decisions that went into making it. I’m also sorry that you think that constitutes advertising. You have some pretty restrictive criteria for what constitutes appropriate games discussion. Too restrictive for 3MA, I fear.

  • skshrews

    Great show, listening to Thibaut articulate how he turned his perspective of history into a game was fascinating.

    I thought the AGEOD’s battle resolution system too abstract for the more “operational” American Revolution and Civil War games, but for a grand strategy game like “Pride of Nations”, it works well.

    There are, I’m sure, many of us in the strategy game community like Thibaut-history students who dream of recreating what they read of the past into something they can live in the present. Hats off to him for doing it so well.

  • Mengtzu

    I picked up PoN on the strength of the podcast, my first Paradox game and my first grognardy historical strategy game in general.

    I’m confused and frightened, but hopeful of progress. Glad I didn’t start with Victoria 2 ;)

  • Erik Hanson

    Thanks again for having me on, Rob.

    At this point the only criticisms I have on PoN were brought up in the interview. I think it could use more intermediary scenarios for players to ramp themselves up to the Grand Campaign. We talked about that, and I look forward to new scenarios being added.

    Then there’s the performance issue that comes up at the end of this ‘cast. It takes a long time between rounds, and Thibault said they’re working on that for a patch.

  • Nikolaj

    Thanks for a great podcast, guys. I can certainly see why Hudson is complaining about the lack of criticism, although personally I love this game, despite it’s shortcomings, some of which have already been resolved.

    Great to hear a good in-depth interview with Thibaut, though. I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for him, and what he’s trying to do, although not all his efforts have turned out equally well.

    I hope you guys will be returning to this game in a future podcast, when you’ve had some more time with it, as I’d love to hear more of what you think about it. From what I’ve seen so far, it beats Victoria 2 in every single way, except in the interface department. Then again, I prefer when historical games provide somewhat historical, or at least plausible outcomes. I’ve been somewhat sad to see Paradox moving more and more in a sandbox direction with their games, so PON is a godsend to me.

    Thanks again for a good show.

  • Anders

    The thing that annoys me with Paradox is their lack of new player tutorials. They just throw you into the game, and you end up getting frustrated.

    Most of Paradox games look VERY interesting, but I just can’t play them because they will not teach me how….

  • Erik Hanson

    Anders: I can’t remember a Paradox title that didn’t have tutorials. The trick is that the tutorials are fairly brief and dont give you much of a chance to test out and learn what you’re being told. That’s why I generally try to run one or two tutorials and then find a scenario (or country and year) to try them out. I think I mentioned in the interview that I usually start out a Paradox title as Sweden, and that’s the reason why—there’s enough room to breathe as a second-tier power that’s a bit out of the way, so I can try out what I’ve just learned.

    That’s also why I went through the scenarios in PoN after going through the tutorials. I’ve always had a rough time with the AGEOD interface (I think just because I tend to jump in too quickly), but by going from tutorials to scenarios, I was able to get a grasp on at least the military interface in PoN fairly quickly.

    @Nikolaj: I don’t know that PoN and Vicky 2 are in direct competition. The two take fairly different views on what the “goal” is and was in the era. Colonies, industry and military strength are certainly important to both games, but in different ratios, and with different nuances to each. PoN takes a fairly direct stance that it’s about prestige (mostly via colonization), while Vicky 2 places more importance on the trickiness of managing the politics of industrialization.

  • Sonson

    Hi Folks,

    Great podcast as usual.

    One tiny request however-Can we have British instead of English when referencing the British Empire please, or indeed any British history post 1707? Irrespective of whatever the convention might be regarding this in the US, it is both historically incorrect and inaccurate, and it is a glaring error in a podcast which is otherwise notable for it’s passion for scholarly accuracy.

    Given that the contingent elements across the empire showed a far greater proportion of other nationalities beside the English than would have been expected, to refer to the British Empire as being English/England/London centric etc is to both rob Scots, Welsh and Irish of their considerable part in all of the aspects of the British Imperial project, be they positive or negative, and is to simplify the whole idea of Britain in political, cultural, economic and social terms, as well as to fundamentally misunderstand the history of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and indeed the Colonies of North America, for a good century at least. Britain was (and is!) very different from England. The history of the world would have taken a decidedly different turn had England not absorbed itself as the spearhead into a greater political union. Moreover modern scholarship is more or less united on the front that the majority of the people of Britain had a strong British consciousness which did not jar with or challenge any national sentiments they might also have had-see the Scottish popular convention of referring to Scotland as “North Britain” for a good century, example.

  • Anders

    @Erik Hanson I know they have tutorials, but they are very bad, and not very good for NEW players.
    Usually they just point and tell you about the interface. I miss having them guide you through a scenario. And they always tell you to read the manual. Something I personally believe should be unnecessary for a PC game.

    I have not tested out PoN, but don’t want to invest my money in a game where I get dull “boxes of text to read for each step” type tutorials, and then also being forced to read a manual.

    Interactive tutorials should be standard today. And most games do this. But not Paradox, no sir, we still get text to sit and read….

  • Rob Zacny

    Anders, I will say that the tutorials in this game (while dull) are a bit better and more informative than I’ve come to expect from Paradox / AGEOD. Still, I think these games pose a big challenge to tutorial design. To really teach players the game, you would have to pull them into some very long, very deep tutorials, and that is frustrating, too.

    The truth is, I’m starting to turn around on the PDF manual a little bit. Alt-tabbing to do a phrase search usually yields the information I want, and it lets me absorb the game as I play it, without forcing me to play 4 hours of tutorials.

    I’m always in favor of better tutorials, but I think it’s unreasonable to say that reading the manual should be unnecessary for a PC game. Big, complicated games require documentation, and don’t easily lend themselves to walkthroughs. It’s the price we pay to enjoy this genre.

    @Sonson – You have a good point and it is well made. If we conflate Britain / England, it is surely a case of misspeaking, not misunderstanding. I’ll try to be more conscious of how I interchange the terms in the future.

  • Gary

    Great podcast. I’ve played a bit of BOA and the demo for RUS. The PON setting is really interesting as I’ve a real fascination with 19th century hisory, but I’m feeling a bit daunted by the complexity of these games, not being a grognard. There’s a saying, how does an anaconda swallow a donkey? A bit at a time. I’m hoping that applies here, too.

  • Sam

    I have ambivalent feelings towards Pride of Nations. One the one hand, it captures perfectly the 19th century world of industry, warfare and colonisation. When you’re dealing with your colony in the Pacific Islands, it really does feel like some far flung corner of the world, which is more useful as a diplomatic tool than a resource. I love that. Marching my cavalry around the western frontier fighting injuns? Great fun.

    On the other hand, the execution and the engine really try my patience. Sometimes there is simply nothing to do in a turn but hit next turn a few times, and then before you know it you’re closing on 10 minutes of having done nothing. So it’s hard to slip into that flow that lets hours fly by.

    I know this is all pretty much been talked about to death, and the Phillipes probably know about this more than anyone, so just wanted to say to the guys that there is a great game here, and their vision for what a grand strategy game can be has succeeded spectacularly. I hope Paradox gives you the support to continue to improve the experience.