Jump to content
Game-Labs Forum

Recommended Posts

Ultimate General: Gettysburg has the immense potential to support an entire series of epic, blockbuster, Civil War battle games of unique realism, historical accuracy, and player engagement and enjoyment. But there is a problem or two that stands like a roadblock to that success:

I have mentioned some of these problems in previous posts. But, now I have come to realize there is an absolute game stopper sitting right in front of us. This flaw is so impactful and over-powering, it drowns out the many good things in the UGG design. It can well keep this design from ever being accepted by the larger RTS community. Let me illustrate:

Look what happens in every game: The situation reveals itself; forces arrive to the battlespace; they maneuver, they fight, they advance or withdraw; and victory is declared. And then the lights go out. When the curtain is raised on the next “act” of this play, we are faced with a whole new scene, set, and premise. It is like the first act never happened. From scenario to scenario, there is no AI “analysis” determining the starting positions for the next game. In fact, the absurdity of the non-historical historical scenarios is damningly demonstrated by the fact that when the next scenario starts, the two sides are not where we left them; they are not even in contact with each other. Hell, they not even in eyesight if each other on the entire battle field. Now, think of the three-day history of the battle, with fixed lines from flank to flank. Did that EVER occur in the real battle?

Think about that for a minute, HARD:

Here we have the main battle forces of both sides knocking each other silly, going toe-to-toe for hours. Then, the bell rings, the game is over, and the stage—literally—goes black. When the curtain rises again for Act Two, there is no enemy opposition of any size to be seen anywhere on the map. The enemy force that was deeply engaged with you on a seven-mile front is nowhere to be seen on the battlefield and there is no clue as to where they might have removed themselves. The entire enemy army has VANISHED!

What is wrong with this picture?

Everything! This throws any semblance of historical accuracy right out the window. Regardless of the tactical actions of the player or players, no matter how atypical or eccentric the maneuverings or battle outcomes, the opposition has magically disengaged, disentangled, and vaporized into thin air, into thin air!

The arbitrariness and implausibility of this unavoidable start to every scenario is even more staggering when one considers (a) how difficult it was during the ACW to disengage from an enemy once combat had been joined by major forces; and, (B) the absurd assumption thrust upon the players by the game’s designers that states that both sides would implicitly want to disengage and run away from each other regardless of the tactical situation.

One of the primary duties of skirmishers (which, as I have previously reported, are not functionally represented in UGG) was to keep eyes on the enemy battle line opposite and report any critical movements, advances, withdrawals, or shifts that the enemy commander may attempt. To think that at 3:00 in the afternoon of July 1, Meade’s Army of the Potomac would simply vanish without leaving so much as a dust trail behind is just plain silly. What is equally as puzzling is why the Alpha playtesters, the Beta users, and the buying public have not screamed like stuck pigs at this artifice is equally amazing. It hits you in the face every time you start a subsequent scenario after Day 1, Scene 1.

I do not think that the company, with its whole future at stake, has been well served by a group of testers who appear to be, as a whole, enthusiastic, well-read, erudite, experienced game players. And I do not know why they did not do a better job pointing out this fatal flaw.

One of the critical duties of a good playtester, and I’ve managed hundreds of them in my career, is to think critically, respond skeptically, be the Devil’s Advocate, share honest opinions freely, and, most importantly, TELL THE TRUTH to the folks in charge without worrying that they will kick you off the team for being too negative. I have learned over the years that playtester feedback—good, bad, or indifferent—is worth its weight in gold and is absolutely critical to a design’s success. The UGG designers and developers are neck-deep in alligators trying to drain the proverbial swamp. They cannot see the forest for the trees. That is why they absolutely depend upon a group of well-briefed, well-directed, well-coached, testers--who know what their job is and how critical that job is to the success of the game--to show them the way and act as the acid test for their brain child.

Something went off the tracks here. Maybe it was a new design team underestimating the time and effort required to playtest a new design. Maybe it was production deadlines truncating development schedules; maybe it was a belief that playtesters should be game virgins, naïfs, and innocents to be effective; I simply do not know.

The UGG game design and game engine has SO MUCH potential, it makes my head ache. At this point, the guys in the back room need to realize that insight and brilliance is a wonderful thing, but it needs to be balanced with practical know-how and experience getting a viable game design out the door and into customer’s hands. Developing on the backs of your “early adopter” customers is an abuse of your best customer base. Paying customers do not like to be guinea pigs for poorly developed designs.

Serious improvements need to occur that go well beyond the next “patch.” There are fixable, yet fundamental, flaws in the current design that cannot be repaired by patches. A Version 2.0 needs to be undertaken that address the suite of historical scenarios, a Campaign Game, real unit specialization, skirmishers, and features that enhance hardcore user aesthetics and AAR reflection. A true multi-player/multi-side function would be nice also.

As it currently stands, UGG’s ability to even roughly simulate the real battle is nearly zero. And that is in fact due to deliberate, but wildly misguided, decisions by the developers to come up with a hokey, screwy, scenario system that can’t even loosely replicate the real battle situations as it unfolded. (One of the advantages of the old board wargames was that we could move units around the mapboard and step through the real historical campaign to demonstrate whether the real battle could be replicated by our simulation design in terms of space/time/resources. It was very useful. Apparently, that is a problem with computer games.)

This is a game stopper. As it stands now, you cannot even broadly replicate the Battle of Gettysburg with this game design. Guys, you got a good thing here—potentially—but we need to talk. Can this game be saved? Yes, but the “not invented here” egos have to be put away and the designers on the other side of the world have to realize they have to tap into a wealth of game design and development experience here in the States who can help them make this game the winner it can be for the US market. If you haven’t walked the battlefield, then it’s like you are trying to perform brain surgery from 10,000 kilometers away. Possible, but not very likely to be successful.

Enjoy!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

short version - sandbox mode needed: one of the most requested features for the future products.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ultimate General: Gettysburg has the immense potential to support an entire series of epic, blockbuster, Civil War battle games of unique realism, historical accuracy, and player engagement and enjoyment. But there is a problem or two that stands like a roadblock to that success:

I have mentioned some of these problems in previous posts.........snip 

 

**I do not think that the company, with its whole future at stake, has been well served by a group of testers who appear to be, as a whole, enthusiastic, well-read, erudite, experienced game players. And I do not know why they did not do a better job pointing out this fatal flaw.

 

**One of the critical duties of a good play tester, and I've managed hundreds of them in my career, is to think critically, respond skeptically, be the Devil’s Advocate, share honest opinions freely, and, most importantly, TELL THE TRUTH to the folks in charge without worrying that they will kick you off the team for being too negative.

 

**I have learned over the years that play tester feedback—good, bad, or indifferent—is worth its weight in gold and is absolutely critical to a design’s success. The UGG designers and developers are neck-deep in alligators trying to drain the proverbial swamp.

 

****{They cannot see the forest for the trees. That is why they absolutely depend upon a group of well-briefed, well-directed, well-coached, testers--who know what their job is and how critical that job is to the success of the game--to show them the way and act as the acid test for their brain child.}****

******************************************

Randall! EVERYTHING you mentioned in your post has been relayed time n time n time again, to the Developers by the Testers!!!! (Good / Bad/ Ugly about the game).

There is a Closed Forum For Testers n to give Suggestions / Feedback.

 

I have come across some very educated n informed people concerning the Civil War n its Battle progressions /Hourly / Daily.Here at this Forum n Steam's....

All the thing's you mentioned in you post was mention by me n 1/2 Dozen others, a number of times...Battle Progression, n the lack of it between Phases. 

As a Tester, I take your post as a back handed insult with my ability n others to give proper / Historical / Accurate information on Historical Facts. Reporting Glitches / Putting forward

Suggestions for a more enjoyable / balanced gaming experience, etc....

 

Perhaps maybe you should volunteer to Be a Tester so 'you' can give your valuable feedback.

Its not what you said that's irritating, but how you put it!

Especially this comment!!!!!!

**I do not think that the company, with its whole future at stake, has been well served by a group of testers who appear to be, as a whole, enthusiastic, well-read, erudite, experienced game players. And I do not know why they did not do a better job pointing out this fatal flaw.[/b]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Randall! EVERYTHING you mentioned in your post has been relayed time n time n time again, to the Developers by the Testers!!!! (Good / Bad/ Ugly about the game).

There is a Closed Forum For testers n Feedback.  perhaps maybe you should volunteer to Be a Tester so 'you' can give your valuable feedback.

Read the different threads Than realize everything you mentioned with the condescending way you put things!!!

 

I shouldn't have to be a playtester to voice my opinion. And playtester should not be hidden behind some Closed Forum, for God's Sake! If I appear to be condescending, I sincerely apologize; that was never my intent. I guess I am just so totally dismayed that such an immense flaw could come out of a playtest and never see light of day in print. If you were a playtester and you knew there was a problem, and failed to point it out after it was left unresolved and the game was released, then you did your fellow gamers a disservice. If you felt constrained because you had to sign some Non-Disclosure Agreement to test the game, you should have told them where they could put their NDA. A publisher has an ultimate obligation to its fan/customer base. If obvious problems were pointed out to the developers and they chose to release the game as a train wreck anyway, well, shame on them. If you failed to speak out after the game was released and people were paying good money to obstinate, egotistical developers because they didn't know MAJOR flaws were left uncorrected, then shame on you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

short version - sandbox mode needed: one of the most requested features for the future products.

No, it goes much beyond a "sand box version," whatever your definition of that term might entail. Bad design is not corrected by coming up with a new "mode" to paper over deep-seated issues. You still need to have a satisfying player experience with the current game design. Period. End of argument. No more excuses! No more slogans. Just listen to your critics, consult with some experts, and make the thing work as you intended it. Otherwise, you and your development group are caught in an endless self-perpetuating loop of "ignore those idiots; we are the code writers." And things will never get fixed. 

 

These issues are FIXABLE. The basic game engine is sound. The scenario implementation, on the other hand, is a train wreck that can only be repaired in a Version 2.0.  You can come out rich and famous on this, but you really need to reach out and make REAL connections to the professional gaming community. You are too insulated and, frankly, too far away to accurately gauge public reaction to what you do and say. No one will think less of you if you open up your mind to many different ideas and cop a solution that works. Customers don't care who thought up the fix; they just want it fixed. Good luck and I still think you guys are brilliant!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its not what you said that's irritating, but how you put it!

Especially this comment!!!!!!

**I do not think that the company, with its whole future at stake, has been well served by a group of testers who appear to be, as a whole, enthusiastic, well-read, erudite, experienced game players. And I do not know why they did not do a better job pointing out this fatal flaw.[/b]

My apologies. Obviously, there is history there of which I know not. I never meant to offend. I erred in not reflecting more before I hit the SEND key. And, BTW, I do think you guys were erudite and well-read. I guess I never thought developers would just blatantly ignore warnings that there were icebergs ahead. I will temper my tone in the future, lest I paint good people unfairly. HTH.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I shouldn't have to be a playtester to voice my opinion......snip

 

........If you failed to speak out after the game was released and people were paying good money to obstinate, egotistical developers because they didn't know MAJOR flaws were left uncorrected, then shame on you.

 

***********

Again you fail to realize It was voiced over n over again to the developers(Players n Testers alike).

What else could we do but Give feedback to the (obvious / in-obvious) problems.

​Before / During / After Release.

 

How the developers used this feedback / implement their game plan, was / is completely out of our hands.

 

Perhaps Randall try to work with us/devs. on these problems. We all agree on the disjointed battle phases n how it takes away

from immersion, looks basically incomplete with not having a realistic flow of battle (Gains/Losses etc etc).

Inability to pick up where one left off..

 

We as testers have no control how the Admin Staff controls different forums(Locked)

 

Randall,,, just realize, this isn't a testers fault the game is where its at.

We did our due diligence as testers...

 

Maybe you should put that whip away, kindly untie us Testers from the 'Buck Board Wheels'.........

 

Come now my good man,,,,Take this hoe,,,,work along side us as we Toil in these Bloody Fields...

 

 

Have a nice Day Randall...........

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Randall,,, just realize, this isn't a testers fault the game is where its at.

We did our due diligence as testers...

 

Maybe you should put that whip away, kindly untie us Testers from the 'Buck Board Wheels'.........

 

Come now my good man,,,,Take this hoe,,,,work along side us as we Toil in these Bloody Fields...

 

 

Have a nice Day Randall...........

 

 

Oh, Mr. Watkins, when I mess up, I don't go half way. I forgot that most people haven't been playing, designing, and marketing wargames for 55 years. I also forgot that the way we playtested 25-30 years ago may not be like they do it now. (And, therefore, I am a purveyor of the dreaded "not-invented-here" syndrome.) And finally, I committed the cardinal sin of shooting the messengers in this case instead of the emperor who refused to heed the warnings. I give you my word that I have learned an embarrassing lesson and will not commit the same mistake again. (Other mistakes, of course, are fair game!) And, of course, my faux pas deflected attention away from my original premise; we cannot do what the G-L marketeers say we can do with their product: We cannot use UGG to play an historical facsimile of the great battle fought in Gettysburg from 1 to 3 July, 1863. Sadly, we cannot even get close.

 

Being old and wizen, I would be more than willing to forgive the G-L boys their hubris and bravado because the basic game system has so much potential that simply hasn't been realized yet. IT CAN BE FIXED.  However, a pattern of behavior and character is beginning to emerge in the individual operators associated with G-L that gives me pause:

 

1. I can find very little information on Game-Labs as a business and the principles in the company in online sources. One would expect a start-up to do a bit more crowing about their success and wax somewhat more poetic as to their identities. Some of them are apparently Russian-speaking Ukrainians, perhaps from the rebel-occupied eastern region, near Donetsk, perhaps? That might speak to personal security concerns that would be most understandable given the political reality in that corner of the world. Still, there is an information void here which, superficially, does not appear to work in their PR interests. We love Horatio Alger stories about small start-ups doing brilliant things and surmounting huge obstacles to release great projects. Inquiring minds want to know! The G-L boys would be more sympathetic characters if we simply knew more about them, their gaming backgrounds, and their aspirations for the future. Just a suggestion...

 

2. I have received numerous reports that the G-L developers are strongly resistant when confronted with customer feedback and playtester concerns. This has come from Forum sources and private communications. Game development is an essentially social enterprise. One does not do it very well in an information vacuum. Feedback from the user community is an incredibly valuable resource that must be conserved and husbanded. Ignoring numerous warnings of serious problems with the game from credible sources like playtesters is a reckless act. If financial pressures forced the group to push the game out the door in spite of problems, that is understandable, but it is not forgivable. It is customer abuse. At this point, fuller disclosure would be a viable move that would endear the company to their customer base and give confidence that problems are recognized and acknowledged and solutions are in the works. We love to forgive!

 

3, Careful reading of G-L responses and press releases leads me to the conclusion that misinformation and deliberate distortions about the nature of the game's AI and the scenario-generating mechanism were being disseminated by the company. We were led to believe that all kind of mumbo-jumbo AI was going on to "set" the next scenario when all that was happening was that the AI called up one of almost a hundred scenario pre-sets based on the rough location of forces, the type of AI dialed in, and the selection of one of the 2 or 3 tactical options by the player to begin the game. There is little evidence of anything else. We need G-L to come out with a statement acknowledging that the game is broken and needs a major fix. We also need then to admit that you cannot play a three-day Battle of Gettysburg with UGG the way it is currently configured, but a solution has been identified and is being implemented. We will love them for that!

 

4. If the rationale for the scenario situation is that there was not room in the mobile platform version (which, I guess, is THE version) for a playable set of scenarios to play a full campaign game, then this is an unrecoverable error and there is no fixing the game and there really is no Gettysburg simulation in UGG. Decades at Avalon Hill showed me that a hardcore group of loyal customers ("fanatics") can keep a company going for a long time, as long as they are being provided with the types of games that they want to play. To giveup  that hardcore to pander to iPad and mobile device users--who do not play heavy-duty wargames on those devices by the way--is a certain formula for failure.

 

Now, Mr. Watkins, if you wouldn't mind moving over a bit, I've got a row to hoe, don't I?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just want to throw my two cents in on the statement about after certain battles usually after a full day of battle going from day 1 to day 2 or day 2 to day 3 the Brigades will not be in the same place left from the previous battle. I fear that some people are overlooking a very simple and realistic explanation. The word of the day is Logistics. Yes this was a real issue in the American Civil War.

 

You have to remember soldiers marched into battle with only a Knapsack or Haversack on their back. Sometimes marching upwards of 30 miles a day. Then charging without hesitation into deaths jaws. An American Civil War soldier carried with him his Brogans(Boots) 2 pairs of socks, Under garments (Cotton) "To keep his wool clothes from chaffing his body", 2 Shirts(Cotton), pants (Jean or Wool) Jacket/Coat (Jean or Wool), Haversack or Knapsack (Canvas or Oil painted Canvas) contents weighing between 5-15lbs of food and personal items, 1/2 of a Dog Tent (Canvas) which he would share with another soldier to put together to make 1 complete dog tent, Ground Cloth or Poncho, Ammo Box (20-40 rounds) Not every soldier carried the same Ammo Box, Cap Pouch(30-100 caps), Canteen, Bayonet and leather Scabbard, belt, suspenders and his hat. (Anyone who has ever marched in a long campaign as a Civil War impressionist can attest to how HOT and HEAVY a civil war uniform can be especially if wearing wool sweating your ASS OFF!) On average a soldier could fit a total of 40 rounds at MOST into a Ammo box, Usually only 20 rounds though. if he was smart would carry another 20 or so in his Haversack or Knapsack.

 

A well trained soldier could fire about 2 shots per minute. Not all soldiers were trained the same and some could fire faster. So about on Average after 30-45 minutes of battle a Civil War soldier would be out of ammo. Not to mention his canteen would be completely empty of drinking water. Which usually means if you could survive the hail of fire being shot at you as you either attack or defend a position you are incapable to stand and fight any longer.

 

ALL American Civil war Brigades fell back to regroup, rearm, rest, eat and drink. If you read your history books prime examples of this in the battle Gettysburg is how 1st Corps fell back to Culps Hill after the first day only to encounter Ewell on the second day. Or what about the 20th Maine who fought on Round Top only to fall back on the third day to the center of the Union line to face Longstreets Charge. Units would fall back sometimes MILES from the original battle even if they carried the day to rest refit and refill canteens. Civil War battle lines although the lines at times were Static Blue or Grey.  Inside the lines themselves were constantly moving engaging, disengaging and falling back as units tire and ran out of ammo.

 

So I say this. Is it really so strange to start a American Civil War Battle, only to move from day one to day two and find your armies moved to different locations than you left them?

 

I say no it is not.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So I say this. Is it really so strange to start a American Civil War Battle, only to move from day one to day two and find your armies moved to different locations than you left them?

 

I say no it is not.

No, but only if YOU move them. Mr. Blunt you are an erudite, reflective, knowledgeable, gamer. I respect you very much. As a reenactor, your insights on the "soldier's burden" in battle are wonderfully stated, vivid, and highly informative. We are lucky to have you engaged in this discussion. And, broadly and largely, you and I are in agreement: There are numerous stories of exhausted soldiers performing night marches to preserve their unit from destruction or to use a night march to stage for an attack at daybreak. The supply trains would catch up to them at night and attempt to rearm and resupply them as best as could be done. A Version 2.0 of UGG MUST include possibly three night "interlude" phases over the campaign where these types of activities, with very limited (but not unheard of) night combat, could possibly occur. These night interludes can be treated like the "modes" our developer friends allude to so as to reflect the logistical tasks that had to be done if the fighting were to continue into the next day. For that matter, I think the computer ["AI"] could handle ammunition logistics during firefights to force brigades to retire from the field to resupply if the ran out of ammunition.

 

But I was not talking about the implications of the "dusk-to-dawn" interlude. Specifically, I was recounting the events that happened between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM on 1 July when the game ended and then resumed (with a small time lapse) for fighting from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. In that vaguely determinate interval between 3:00 and 4:00, the hotly engaged and hard pressed Union Army simply vanished from the field once the bell sounded at 3:00 PM. No one was quietly retiring from the field in this one: It was daylight, with highly engaged and interspersed armies and--suddenly--The Rapture of the Union forces. They Were Simply Gone... As it currently stands, we cannot fight the first day with even a poor semblance of round-to-round continuity. And playtesters tell me that they complained to the developers repeatedly about this conceptual FUBAR --and nothing was done. Their complaints were ignored.

 

That distresses me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The point is valid but in a "what if" scenario anything may happen.

I would focus more on how things develop from one scenario to the next, what kind of battle and where the troops will spawn. This HAS been mentioned and I think they're working on that but at present time all the attention is on (and it has to be on) the Ipad version (which I can't for the love of me stop playing ahahahahahah).

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello Randall,

I want first to thank you for visiting our forum and sharing your feedback and constructive criticism. I have read your posts and I am happy that you like most things about the game. Your negative opinion about the scenario system is respected but I now have to defend it, explaining the limitations we faced and why we followed the difficult and complex way to simulate the battle.

We could easily create 7-8 sequential scenarios that would completely play out as the historical battle did, without giving additional choices to player and AI. But then the game would be mostly a "movie". You would play it once with each side and never again attempt to see what would happen if different strategies were followed. But we wanted to make something more challenging and interesting with a dynamic campaign that would offer many more hours of replayability. And there were 2 ways to do it: With a sand-box system as mentioned above, and a complex chain of different scenarios.

The sand-box system would be easier for us to make but there were technical and practical limitations. Both armies are huge and if we allowed freely to command them as time passes on an enormous map, most players would be overwhelmed by the amount of units to control, not to mention that most PC systems would have lag problems. So we have chosen to separate the battle in logical scenarios, connected with each other, with literally hundreds of different of ways. You must have noticed in most battles that units are placed logically on the map, according to the positions they had previously, of course not exactly, because we simulate here an acceptable re-positioning of units with their own initiative to re-supply, entrench, go in reserves etc. as mentioned above by R.E.B Blunt.

In Early Access period, this dynamic scenario system was unfinished, so many players and testers complained and reported its problems. We had repaired most if not all the issues. In the next patch, more battle flow corrections will follow and the AI will be much more challenging, intriguing you to replay the battle multiple times.

I think most players will agree with me that the scenario system is pretty much solid, giving in most situations very logical continuations of the battle, that lasts up to 4 days. Of course, currently, the battle can be played with specific tactics, win the AI with the same manner, each time you play it. If that becomes tedious, then you can switch your tactics, to see what will happen, or try the 90+ single player "what if" scenarios offered in custom battles.

In the future and next battles we would like to offer a more free "Sand-Box" scenario system with more limited scenario branching. But for this game, to completely re-make its scenario branching, to be direct 100% super-duper, mambo-jambo consistent, as in no other game in the universe, as we speak now, it is impossible... because we have to move on to different projects and our resources are not unlimited, as in all companies.

I hope I had clarified. Sorry to you and all other that I do not respond lately but we have a lot to do for next patch and iOS release and so sometimes it is overwhelming for me to follow all the forum messages.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We could easily create 7-8 sequential scenarios that would completely play out as the historical battle did, without giving additional choices to player and AI. But then the game would be mostly a "movie". You would play it once with each side and never again attempt to see what would happen if different strategies were followed. But we wanted to make something more challenging and interesting with a dynamic campaign that would offer many more hours of replayability. And there were 2 ways to do it: With a sand-box system as mentioned above, and a complex chain of different scenarios.

 

The sand-box system would be easier for us to make but there were technical and practical limitations. Both armies are huge and if we allowed freely to command them as time passes on an enormous map, most players would be overwhelmed by the amount of units to control, not to mention that most PC systems would have lag problems. So we have chosen to separate the battle in logical scenarios, connected with each other, with literally hundreds of different of ways. You must have noticed in most battles that units are placed logically on the map, according to the positions they had previously, of course not exactly, because we simulate here an acceptable re-positioning of units with their own initiative to re-supply, entrench, go in reserves etc. as mentioned above by R.E.B Blunt.

In Early Access period, this dynamic scenario system was unfinished, so many players and testers complained and reported its problems. We had repaired most if not all the issues. In the next patch, more battle flow corrections will follow and the AI will be much more challenging, intriguing you to replay the battle multiple times.

 

I think most players will agree with me that the scenario system is pretty much solid, giving in most situations very logical continuations of the battle, that lasts up to 4 days. Of course, currently, the battle can be played with specific tactics, win the AI with the same manner, each time you play it. If that becomes tedious, then you can switch your tactics, to see what will happen, or try the 90+ single player "what if" scenarios offered in custom battles.

 

Nick: Thank you for your gracious response. Cutting my teeth as an executive in a small game publishing company, I really do understand limited time, limited manpower, tight schedules, and constrained resources of all types. So, I deeply appreciate your taking time to respond all the more. Thank you.

 

Now, it could well be that what it boils down to is simply different philosophies of game design. I can accept that. Men of goodwill can have differences of opinion. But when it comes to creative use and design of scenarios, my body of work speaks for itself. Every game that I designed or developed was scenario-based, except for Air Assault on Crete (developer). In several of my designs, I had a set of shorter scenarios and a capstone campaign game, (Richthofen's War, 1776, Starship Troopers, The Longest Day). The shorter scenarios were actually presented hierarchically to teach the game rules in a series of increasingly complex stages (1776, Tobruk, Arab-Israeli Wars, Panzer Leader, Starship Troopers, The Longest Day), so that the campaign game was very dense, long, and large scale, but still manageable for the players because they mastered the mechanics of play on the shorter scenarios. Not to play "story-toppers" with you, but I know a little something about creating viable, satisfying, game scenarios out of complex historical campaigns. But let me address your very cogent points:

 

1. You say, "We could easily create 7-8 sequential scenarios that would completely play out as the historical battle did, without giving additional choices to player and AI. But then the game would be mostly a "movie". You would play it once with each side and never again attempt to see what would happen if different strategies were followed."

 

Not at all, not at all. These would be detailed, "anatomy of a battle" type games that were not meant to be played as "linked battles." Each one would START with a detailed "snapshot" of the two armies; location, morale, condition, and casualties already dialed in for that particular chronological time and place "snapshot" and the players would play it out until darkness, defeat, or exhaustion set in. Nothing stops you from trying any number of tactical maneuvers in any scenario. Believe me, quality scenarios do not "play out" as easily as you make it sound. I don't know how many thousands of times certain scenarios were played in AH's PanzerBlitz (Dunnigan, 1969), and I never heard hardcore players complain of boredom.

 

2. You say, "But we wanted to make something more challenging and interesting with a dynamic campaign that would offer many more hours of replayability."

 

But, in that respect, Nick, G-L has failed miserably. There is NO campaign in UGG. (A campaign starts at time hack Zero and pushes on to time hack Zulu without appreciable interruption.) The "continuity of play" between UGG snapshot scenarios is so jumpy and broken as to make game flow a non-concept. That is the over-riding, undeniable, flagrant, fact and salient shortcoming of the game. To claim otherwise is to devolve into Orwellian "crazy talk" and I can't engage in coherent debate with that degree of obtuseness. What is "replayability" anyhow? If you mean that you can play the same scenario repeatedly and still squeeze out new tactical wrinkles and surprises, that's great, but I would call that simply "playability," a term we old board wargamers have been throwing around for 40 years. But, I would agree that it is a very worthwhile goal in any wargame design.

 

3. You say, "The sand-box system would be easier for us to make but there were technical and practical limitations. Both armies are huge and if we allowed freely to command them as time passes on an enormous map, most players would be overwhelmed by the amount of units to control, not to mention that most PC systems would have lag problems."

 

You are kidding, right? How can you claim to be able to depict in the current UGG scenarios Pickett's Charge of 3 July with the units of both sides at maximum numbers on the field and then say your game engine can't handle a full campaign game without most PC's lagging??? And you want to put this on a mobile device like an iPad??? Look at the actual campaign: the maximum dimensions of the historical Gettysburg battlespace varied very little over the three-day battle. (At least a dozen different wargames have managed to play out the entire campaign on game boards that do not require expansion over that time span.)  And, as designers, YOU control the dimensions of the battlespace, (that is, the mapboard) and the size and complexity of the conflict. Players cannot force the UGG battlespace to expand since their units just "exit stage left" and then wander around a bit on the edges of the mapboard.

 

4. You say, "You must have noticed in most battles that units are placed logically on the map, according to the positions they had previously, of course not exactly, because we simulate here an acceptable re-positioning of units with their own initiative to re-supply, entrench, go in reserves etc. as mentioned above by R.E.B Blunt."

 

And, Nick, you bring up a very critical and troubling point: Your "repositioning" system is NOT acceptable to the vast majority of players. It is simply arbitrary and baffling. It is a total non sequitur to that which transpired in the previous game just played. And in a battle lasting, oh, say, two hours, there is simply not that great a need to reposition, retrench, go into reserves, etc. right in the middle of the blasted battle. And regiments would not go "into reserve" on their own initiative, without orders, unless routed. And if there were that need, the obvious solution would be to let the players make those kinds of decisions and give those kinds of orders to their own troops. You take the GENERALSHIP right out of the players' hands! And the kind of housekeeping and ammo and water replenishment you are referring to are tasks that take place at or below brigade and would be transparent on the mapboard no matter how you handled it. No, what I noticed is that the battle I fought has been so mix-mastered by the designer's "AI" that it is unrecognizable as a continuation of the same fight just fought seconds before. That is bad; very, very bad.

 

5. Finally, Nick, you say "I think most players will agree with me that the scenario system is pretty much solid, giving in most situations very logical continuations of the battle, that lasts up to 4 days."

 

No Nick, the reason for this whole topic is that your customers, hard core game players, do not agree with you --at all! Your playtesters conveyed the essence of the problem (lack of campaign game capability) and you attempted very late in development to impose a fix, but didn't have the time or resources to correct the error. The problem remains like a jab in the eye with a sharp stick. And the continuations are NOT logical, hence all the complaining and hollering. And no scenario in UGG "lasts up to 4 days!" Are you kidding me? If they did--or could--we would not be having this discussion.

 

Nick, I like you. I love the potential of the UGG game system. I sincerely want to see G-L turn this newborn baby into a friggin' seven-foot 300 pound giant of a game system. In the era of the internet, you have instant access to gamer feedback that I would have given my right nut to have had back in the day. What I think we fans of the game would like to see is a two-step reset: First, acknowledge the problem that your customers have placed at your feet. And, secondly, lay out a workable solution, a UGG 2.0 refinement and course correction, that resolves these serious issues. Or, if 2.0 is simply not possible, let us know that resources are tight and a solution will happen when cash flow improves. If we know a fix is coming, we can live with the current iteration.

 

Finally, Nick, tell all the decision-makers at G-L that they need to do one more thing: Trust their loyal customers and realize that what all these people are saying after playing thousands of games is an accrued knowledge you fellows simply do not have anymore. I was very fond of saying when I was at Avalon Hill and 10,000 copies of a first-release went out, "Well, it is out of my hands now, 10,000 customers have collectively played more games and seen more weird variations that I ever will. It belongs to them now..." And it did.

 

I got a couple more comments and questions, but they are best said off line. Email me privately if you are still interested. If I didn't think this was a great system with HUGE potential, I wouldn't have expended all this energy. I criticize because I care and I desperately want you guys to be successful. Thanks for your response, again, Nick. God Bless you!

 

Randall

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been keeping my powder dry on this thread; but I'd make one observation:

 

There is a vast difference between a "what if" scenario and a "wtf" scenario.  It seems like the branching system should be a bit more constrained to ensure that the flow between phases fall into the former category.  You don't want the Union to hold Culp's Hill in one phase then see Culp's Hill ownership switch sides in a future phase without a fight.  

 

Good thread.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anything may be justified by something that makes sense.

If next scenario starts with Culp's Hill having switched side, with an explanation like "Due to the heavy losses sustained and in view of the approaching of our own army to Gettysburg, Gen. Meade decided to withdraw to a more favorable position which is both fortified and now reinforced".

 

I think what matters the most is the losses but here, in the dynamism of the campaign many factors that are currently not fully developed are not in place and I still consider the PC version a work in progress. In order to make what you said happen, David, we'd need a new scenario for Culp's Hill decisive battle.

 

Practically the battle starts with the prelude and we have 2 options. Consider the prelude like the trunk of a big tree. It now only has 2 branches and for a "what if" that properly worked it should have 5. Each of these 5 branches should have 5 branches too and each of the latter should have 5.

 

ALL of your observations are correct. If the team released a map, obj and OOB battle an entire campaign can be built and I think this is a good idea, provided then the team can assess the validity of such 3rd party campaign and it's the DEVs and the DEVs alone who may then introduce it into a future patch to replace the one we have now.

 

We are talking of 1(prelude) +5 (possible outcomes) +5 (where 1 of these is ONE of the 5 previous possible outcomes) and so on. It's hundreds of scenarios. It takes a whole community to build it properly.

 

To make another example, it's like an RPG book where you've given 2 pages at the end of the paragraph, 2 choices only. Each of these 2 choices brings to dozens more, which are built in hundreds of pages and then these all concur towards a single page where the main plot resumes after the result of either path are complete. By analogy, we have the hundreds of pages already written (it's the engine) but we haven't got the MANY choices that would correctly make the "what if" scenario developed.

 

After all, it's a description, a map with objs and an OOB (but you do realize neither the community nor the DEVs can do this OOB right now because it requires a window with options to select/deselect/merge/disband that is currently missing), then the engine computes the results (VP + losses) and picks the next scenario. If you have 5 to pick from it's something. If you have 2, it's rather obvious that many things won't make sense.

 

You are obviously right in your observations, I am just wondering if the DEVs are going to allow the community of players to develop the 3 choices missing out of the 5. And mind it's 5 per side (USA wins OR CSA wins the engagement), so that means a lot of scenarios need be built. The whole concept implies modding which is always great but wouldn't this modding tamper with possible DLCs? I think not. DLC includes map, leader and units. We're just talking of working out more possible battles within the Gettysburg scenario.

 

There's definitely a big choice to be taken here but I think this is the way the problem should be addressed: community based "what if scenarios" evaluated, then inserted.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

GShock,

 

If the player is the "Ultimate General" then I don't buy your argument.  Your entire logic is based on a "Chewbacca Defense" - anything is correct if your build an implausible argument supporting your logic.

 

If the player is a minion who steps into UGG to manage a tactical battle for Meade or Lee then the game is in essence the "Ultimate General" or General in Chief; then maybe this makes sense. 

 

It's just a question of the game design and who is making the critical decisions to manage the battle.  

 

With a title like, "Ultimate General" my presumption has been that I'm the decision maker and General in Chief.  Silly me.

 

I don't believe there are right and wrong answers - just different perspectives that deliver a completely different game experience.

 

UGG is a fine tactical experience - but it is not a game that delivers enough Phase to Phase continuity for a player to claim they are directing the strategy to win the Battle of Gettysburg over the course of July 1 - 4, 1863 (IMHO).

 

On the other hand you can claim anything your want to - ahhhh the beauty of the Chewbacca Defense.

 

The tension here is fundamentally game architecture.

It is a tremendous challenge to design logic trees from canned scenarios.  

As you point out above the number of options grows exponentially with each phase.  

Perhaps a "best fit" analytics logic to determine the "next phase" options might help resolve some of this tension.  

I'd need to think about this some more.

Any thoughts you have would be helpful to reduce the "wtf" factor in UGG. :)

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Practically the battle starts with the prelude and we have 2 options. Consider the prelude like the trunk of a big tree. It now only has 2 branches and for a "what if" that properly worked it should have 5. Each of these 5 branches should have 5 branches too and each of the latter should have 5.

 

We are talking of 1(prelude) +5 (possible outcomes) +5 (where 1 of these is ONE of the 5 previous possible outcomes) and so on. It's hundreds of scenarios. It takes a whole community to build it properly.

 

To make another example, it's like an RPG book where you've given 2 pages at the end of the paragraph, 2 choices only. Each of these 2 choices brings to dozens more, which are built in hundreds of pages and then these all concur towards a single page where the main plot resumes after the result of either path are complete. By analogy, we have the hundreds of pages already written (it's the engine) but we haven't got the MANY choices that would correctly make the "what if" scenario developed.

 

You are obviously right in your observations, I am just wondering if the DEVs are going to allow the community of players to develop the 3 choices missing out of the 5. And mind it's 5 per side (USA wins OR CSA wins the engagement), so that means a lot of scenarios need be built. The whole concept implies modding which is always great but wouldn't this modding tamper with possible DLCs? I think not. DLC includes map, leader and units. We're just talking of working out more possible battles within the Gettysburg scenario.

 

There's definitely a big choice to be taken here but I think this is the way the problem should be addressed: community based "what if scenarios" evaluated, then inserted.

 

I understand what you are saying, but I do not agree with your approach. I have found two truisms in the careers I have chosen to pursue: (1) Every teacher thinks he or she is an instructional designer. Not true; those who have talent to teach do not necessarily have the analytical talent to analyze content. (2) Every game player thinks he or she could be a game designer. Not true; those that are expert game players do not necessarily have the skill set to translate history into successful game mechanics. Every design has a certain style and flow. To open a design up to a "Wikipedia" approach is to invite losing focus and definition. Any design is a series of compromises and conventions that should be applied consistently throughout a game. To open that up to outsiders is to invite a "Heinz 57" product outcome and mediocrity. Leave the development of scenarios to the professionals.

 

What is this five outcome minimum stuff? That is arbitrary and just plain puzzling. I do not consider scenarios to be multiple-choice questions; the historical and game situation determine any branching outcomes. We currently have 80+ scenarios now because of that type of thinking. More is not necessarily better when it comes to scenario development. Give me a dozen great scenarios over 100 mediocre one any day.

 

Good comments, however, GShock, and they got me thinking. Keep engaged in the thread. Your contributions are valued.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, this is a heck of a game, and one I proudly recommend to all my wargaming friends. I hope the series grows and gives us many more great installments.

 

That being said, I have to agree with the general criticism in the thread. I would like to see more continuity between scenarios: more than just troop condition/morale/numbers, but positions and units engaged.

 

Example: suppose "The Union Counterattacks Benner's Hill at Dawn" on Day 2. Union reinforcements come in from II Corps and V Corps.

 

If the player's successful, the next scenario is "The Union Right Flank Under Fire." In that scenario, V Corps is nowhere to be found to back up the right flank! That exposed flank is rolled up by Stuart's whole division and things fall apart.

 

I love the premise of the game, I love the scenarios, and I love the tactical system.

 

However, it would be nice to think about how the game flows, and how that could be improved.

 

Thanks!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My idea is the tree where the prelude is the trunk. There can be many outcomes depending on the side who wins but also on how many objectives are taken by that side and what the losses % were for both side.

 

That puts you on one of the X branches that depart from that tree and here I'd already give an option on which battle to fight of the following Y branches (X<Y), which puts you again on a smaller branch out of N possible branches (objs and losses as above). That goes on and on until you get to the leaf which is the end of the campaign. Computing the losses and and VPs into the possible X, Y, N etc. that can be chosen, the engine brings you to the next battle to be fought (branch) but the choice on which branch to fight rests on the player. At this point it's all a matter of creating 50+ hypotetical scenarios in the same area covered by the map. Every battle takes you to a smaller branch and, in the end you get to the leaf where the overall computation of VPs taken and losses given (and taken) happen, which decides the side that won the campaign.

 

I'm putting my efforts entirely on the IOS version for the release, you guys are probably talking of a PC game that has vastly changed since the last time I saw it, keep that in mind when you read what I say about the dynamic campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding branching scenarios - If my S/W team was working this issue I'd build a table that included all of the VP locations (since the game is driven by VP's).  

I'd ensure that all VP locations on each of the scenarios was included in each scenario map.  

The only scenarios that would be open for the next phase branching would be those that did not transfer ownership of any VP location between phases.  

The only exception to this format would be a player's ability to voluntarily abandon a VP location(s) (Example Phase 1 - player selects to abandon VP locations they currently hold - Oak Ridge, Oak Hill, & Seminary Ridge).

Based on the player's input on holding/folding on VP locations the next phase would be tied to a player's decisions (rather than game logic decisions).

 

Also, it seems to me that an entire Corps that is deployed on the field in the morning but disappears in the afternoon phase should be addressed.  My hunch is that a similar table for the Corps-level OOB could be built to expedite these forces as immediately available reinforcements.

 

While this suggestion isn't perfect it would reduce the "wtf" factor in game flow. 

 

 

 

At the end of the day we forum members have the luxury of criticizing the implementation.  Its a privilege that comes from buying the game.

 

Nick & his team face the reality of code design, revenue generation, paying salaries, and betting the company on the next game.  

 

It might be more valuable for the design team to leverage the forum members to assist with information/data/research into other areas they are considering.

 

My hunch is that the G-L is fighting alligators more than worrying about draining the swamp.  

 

Nick & Team - if we can help we are ready, willing, able, competent, and capable to assist.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My idea is the tree where the prelude is the trunk. There can be many outcomes depending on the side who wins but also on how many objectives are taken by that side and what the losses % were for both side.

 

 

I remain somewhat surprised that the fact that scenarios are based on "Victory Points" of various THOUSANDS of points for physical occupation of terrain objectives doesn't bother more players. This is a major concern on two counts: First, these "victory points" are purely backward-looking assessments based on what was critical in the historical campaign. Little Round Top is assigned a four-place point value based on the fact that in the real campaign, it anchored the Union left flank. Had the flank rested on Big Round Top, instead, the points would have been viewed by designers quite differently. If the players create a different tactical situation, the value of specific terrain would be perceived very differently. There is nothing intrinsically valuable about Little Round Top to the national strategic goals of either the Union or Confederate causes. It was just a hill. Yet, its occupation is a major driver in the game in determining victory or defeat regardless of what happens to the fighting forces of either side. Second, the strategic goal of both sides was the incapacitation of the other side's army. Gettysburg was a serendipitous accident of geography, with little strategic value to the North. Why, then, create a victory assessment system weighed so heavily on occupation of points on a map that would have no sense of value a week later? I maintain that, once again, the designers have over-thought the scenarios and added a totally unnecessary element to what should be a more elegant design. Destroying enemy units tactically appears to be quite sufficient to determine "victory" for these mid-point mini-battles. (Not every scenario has the tactical capacity to result in anything approaching a "decisive" margin of victory.) It should be simpler than that; basically the Last Man Standing concept should be able to indicate a winner to the extent that one has to be so designated. And by the way, think about it, really, why 1,200 VPs in stead of 12? Is it just a sign of verbosity or vanity on the part of the designers? Or, did they really not understand, fully, the implications of their own victory system? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Randall,

 

You shouldn't be surprised.  

Gamers and history games diverged with the introduction of graphic cards.  The gamer community cares little about history.  

In fact most of the gamers that play UGG know little of the ACW.  

Your expectations seems to be too high for the Steam distribution channel and game community generally.

 

The UGG AI is driven by the VP's so it is more of a reflection of the AI implementation.  

 

Gamers just want to play a fun game and win.  

They want a public score board where they are acknowledged for their game prowess/standing.

Most of the folks playing this game don't know that much about history, and don't care about the game mechanics.

Does it matter that the cavalry implementation has nothing to do with the ACW?  

Does it matter that the Videttes are a complete fiction as an organized unit?

Does it matter that the artillery is way out of line with the ACW - black powder simply was not volatile enough to be UGG effective?

 

The design team and the community for the most part seem to be satisfied.

 

The VP's are simply the metric that holds the attention span of the gaming community.

 

It seems like you are looking for something that the G-L isn't and doesn't aspire to be.

 

While I share some of your frustrations when I see the potential for the game the design team is satisfied with their game and they are moving on.  

 

There is more than a year of discussions that you are rehashing.  Nothing you have stated has not been said previously to the design team.

 

What are you trying to accomplish?  

 

Isn't the horse kind of out of the barn?

 

We both want a different game design and game experience - but G-L is not likely to redesign their game when the Steam community is satisfied.  

 

The modding community is the best hope for a more historically relevant UGG.

 

My perspective is that G-L's innovation is focused on the tactical AI.  It is their core competence.  They aren't really contributing much to design innovation.  

 

Everything they are doing has been done before; but, with a better AI.

 

Perhaps their vision will change - but I don't see how your posts help them along to a more vibrant commercial future for the games they design.

 

Do you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is at all possible to retropatch UGG with the new "technologies" discussed here that will be built for the new game. I think the DEVs are satisfied for the release of a new engine that has got a huge potential. Fixing this and that here in UGG and moving on to a new scenario is the fastest way to survive in the business but if they fix this and that in UGG, port new things into the new title and these new things are retropatched here, UGG will be a seller for over a decade. I'd like many things to change too but we've got to face reality of business. The path to improve UGG will be slow but success is what matters.

 

Consequently, the IOS version is close to release and the many good things it has will probably be ported to the PC version. The IOS is very different and extremely enjoyable. It is only natural to focus on this release first and the things that are already in, do not need much hassle to go to the PC. THEN can we talk of improving them both, slowly, as the next title gets built.

 

Most likely, this process in the curtain will bring new little changes to UGG. Then UGG becomes the stable platform to test mechanisms for the new game and when THAT is released, all its stuff can be "ported back" to UGG.

 

It's a "engine 1.0" right now until next title is released. Patience is the virtue of the strong. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello all. We promised long time ago to be honest and direct in communications with players. 

So here are the responses. 

  • UGG is our first game and the tactical engine is done from scratch. We of course made some minor or major mistakes in technical design when making the foundation for the game. Some of the issues you mention are very hard to fix and could require full rework making it impossible to drastically improve UGG. We know those issues and when making new games in this series we will try to avoid them - generating new bugs or issues as a result.
  • We also found that historical games are a lot harder to balance due to historical factors - most battles in reality were not balanced and realism a lot of times interferes with depth or tactical choices. But when making a historical battle game compromises are usually impossible because people want to participate in that specific event - not some generic balanced and interesting battle. We believe it is a reason why there are not enough historical battle games in the market: to make them fun developers have to compromise, and grognards don't want to see those compromises.
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...