Author Topic: Burden of Command Announced  (Read 26891 times)

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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #75 on: October 06, 2017, 10:38:25 PM »
Fascinating the way you talk about Mindsets and Crucibles.  The only thing that might really ruin that is making an Option vague or confusing, so you don't know what you're really choosing (e.g., "Run as fast as you can" without specifying whether that's a charge or a retreat).

It only takes one or two episodes where you're role-playing and confusion over which option your role-playing just leaves a horrible taste in your mouth.  So long as the quality control is good on script writing, you should be fine there.

I'd also want a little mystery around the character development.  Maybe give folks the options to suppress Tooltips telling them what a given choice will do?

Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #76 on: October 07, 2017, 04:29:45 PM »
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Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #77 on: October 07, 2017, 06:52:27 PM »
Fascinating the way you talk about Mindsets and Crucibles.  The only thing that might really ruin that is making an Option vague or confusing, so you don't know what you're really choosing (e.g., "Run as fast as you can" without specifying whether that's a charge or a retreat).

It only takes one or two episodes where you're role-playing and confusion over which option your role-playing just leaves a horrible taste in your mouth.  So long as the quality control is good on script writing, you should be fine there.

I'd also want a little mystery around the character development.  Maybe give folks the options to suppress Tooltips telling them what a given choice will do?

Fair enough.

I'm a wargamer. Been around for awhile. Had, what some consider to be, a small modicum of success in creating tense battles for wargames. I've created battles/scenarios for PanzerBlitz, SL/ASL, Fire Team, The Operational Art of War, Combat Mission and Flashpoint Campaigns to name a few. In all those battles/scenarios I did my own briefings, maps and Orders of Battle. When I was approached to work on this project I was in a holding pattern waiting for the next iteration of Flashpoint Campaigns to get to the point where they needed my skill set. (Coding computer games is not part of  my skill set so they were in no hurry to use me at the time.) I took long enough to make up my mind that I believe Luke had decided I was going to reject his offer. I was taken back by just how different this project is.

As you say, a few wrong steps and this will blow up in our faces. I took a LONG TIME to make up my mind if I was talented enough to keep that from happening. I finally decided that there is a good chance that my skill set is strong enough to do what I thought I was going to be asked to do. Luke and I had discussed the fact that he had two, not one but TWO professional writers as part of the team to do the interactive historical writing. That fact went right by me. I'd never had anyone else do my writing for me and didn't know how that would work so I discounted it out of hand.

That was my first mistake and I believe it will be for most hard core wargamers mistakes with this game as well. This interactive historical game is a different animal than I've ever seen. I don't do interactive fiction so I wasn't duly impressed. I am after all an accomplished wargame and scenario designer with decades worth of experience. I mean, just ask anyone, they'll tell you. Why would I need writers to do what have proven I can do. The answer to that is simple. They can write, and believe me they do!!

So, then what do they write? They write the history of the campaign. They tie the string of battles, we felt were representative of what the 7th Infantry Regiment took part in during the war, altogether.  They do that with the help of the rest of us. We are all researchers first and secondary team members second. Once the volume of historical data is compiled they sift through it to glean the most interesting facts about the fight being presented. Then we have a meeting and go over what they have come up with. What is relevant historically to the battle and just as importantly what is relevant historically to the leader YOU are portraying. The choices the leader makes impact the game. YOUR boots on the ground are important. Each specific battle situation is different and your choices are always changing.

Sometimes the choices are the same with different results. You have to take a farmhouse. Do you:

- send scouts and get more information?
- assault from the front/left/right?
- ask for additional support?
- grand stand (put yourself at personal risk to give your men a morale boost but have a higher chance of personal injury or death)

In this case you asked for additional support and got a  mortar barrage added to your forces and then you assaulted from the right. The attack failed. You ran into a hidden MG42 that inflicted heavy casualties on you. As you started taking casualties you called the attack off. You lost the confidence of higher HQ because they gave you extra support and you didn't take the objective. You gained the confidence of your men because you cut the attack short and reduced further casualties. Every decisions outcome is not always simply positive or negative. Each decision can at times have asymmetrical results.

Three scenarios later you have a similar situation. But this time higher HQ doesn't offer you additional support because the last time you got it you didn't take the objective. This time your men attack quicker because they trust your judgement where their well being is concerned. This time you take the objective. Restoring higher HQ's faith in you but you took so many casualties that your men have lost some of their faith in  your leadership skills.

And so the campaign goes. It's a series of battles/scenarios that test both your tactical skill and just as importantly your leadership skills.

The writers - Allen Gies and Paul Wang - are the ones that tie all of this together. In my personal opinion, they are unsurpassed in their ability to create situations that draw you into the action, bring you nose to nose with the gritty choices you have to make to both win the battles you are thrust into and to get you and as many of your men home safely as possible. This is WW2. You've heard it said that "War is Hell" and when you play this game they are going to prove the truth in that to you with every scenario you go further along your path. It will be YOUR boots on the ground and it will be intense enough to crack your computer monitor. From the opening sequence to the last battle!!

In my opinion this is going to be a benchmark game. One that sets the standards for all those that come after it for decades. If I hadn't thought that I wouldn't have joined the team.  Now all that's left is to see if I'm right and these writers and this team is as talented as I think it is.

Good Hunting.

MR   
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 07:08:59 PM by Mad Russian »
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Offline lhughes42

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #78 on: October 07, 2017, 07:09:48 PM »
Luke here (project lead),

  As Steve so eloquently expresses it, it is both the promise and the risk of this novel endeavor to try this crossing of fields and skills. But hey life requires some risk taking right? And key I believe to our success, should we have it, is that we spend a lot of time listening to feedback like yours. In fact every piece of interactive history that will be tied into a scenario eventually is gone over in fine detail by two waves of around 12 readers each wave. These readers are a mix of wargamers, veterans, outside professional writers, team members, and a few non wargamers (we will get more of those in future).   It is this kind off feedback process that I hope will allow us to catch the mistakes you wisely point out. You can help us by continuing to voice your concerns. Also encouragement ;-)

  cheers,
   Luke
« Last Edit: October 07, 2017, 07:12:15 PM by lhughes42 »
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Offline Father Ted

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #79 on: October 08, 2017, 04:59:19 AM »

I'd also want a little mystery around the character development.  Maybe give folks the options to suppress Tooltips telling them what a given choice will do?

I'd second that - make it an RPG that doesn't feel like one when you're playing.  Thus the choices you make should be unprompted.  Rather than have a message saying, "Do you press on or cancel the attack to evacuate the wounded?", the player just plays out the scenario as he sees fit and the results of this then manifest themselves in his ongoing relationships with superiors and subordinates - all "hidden under the hood".

For instance, if you call it a day and evacuate the wounded, there is gamey no indication of what this means ("+2 to morale of your platoon"), there just is more chance that they'll follow your orders next scenario.  Or perhaps there's a chance they'll think you're a coward and be less receptive.

Another thing that I think would help with immersion is to have a huge collection of fairly random between-scenario events.  Things will feel more real if the same things don't keep popping up again and again.

This project does sound very exciting, and I wish you all the best with it.

Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #80 on: October 08, 2017, 07:53:30 AM »

I'd also want a little mystery around the character development.  Maybe give folks the options to suppress Tooltips telling them what a given choice will do?

I'd second that - make it an RPG that doesn't feel like one when you're playing.  Thus the choices you make should be unprompted.  Rather than have a message saying, "Do you press on or cancel the attack to evacuate the wounded?", the player just plays out the scenario as he sees fit and the results of this then manifest themselves in his ongoing relationships with superiors and subordinates - all "hidden under the hood".

For instance, if you call it a day and evacuate the wounded, there is gamey no indication of what this means ("+2 to morale of your platoon"), there just is more chance that they'll follow your orders next scenario.  Or perhaps there's a chance they'll think you're a coward and be less receptive.

Another thing that I think would help with immersion is to have a huge collection of fairly random between-scenario events.  Things will feel more real if the same things don't keep popping up again and again.

This project does sound very exciting, and I wish you all the best with it.

We are doing our best to give you random events. If this project was interactive fiction our options would be greater. Working with a set of historical situations limits the 'huge collection of fairly random between-scenario events' that can be done. The goal is to give the player as much randomness as possible, while at the same time staying true to the historical event.

What that means is that we give the player as many realistic choices in each particular situation. The same choices that the leader with boots on the ground would have been capable of making. When and where to attack, when and where to stop attacking, do you ask for additional support or not, do you make a grand standing action to motivate your troops - do you get killed or wounded in the effort, etc, etc...

The goal is that you feel the intensity of the moment. My goal, as the scenario designer, is for you to feel that 20 seconds of terror. I want you yelling at your monitor trying to interject yourself into the action. I want your heart rate up and when the action stops for you to have to take a moment for your heart rate to return to normal.

Here's to the effort to make that happen. Time will tell if we are successful or not.

Good Hunting.

MR
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Offline Father Ted

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #81 on: October 08, 2017, 12:08:10 PM »
Thanks for the prompt reply MR.  My comments/questions should not be read as criticism, BTW, I'm just trying to get handle on what sort of beast this game will be.

So, if we're tied into history, the player's choices don't have an effect on subsequent events (i.e. you can't change history) - is that right?

Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #82 on: October 08, 2017, 12:48:31 PM »
I didn't take your comments negatively. I fully understand how hard it is to get a handle on this game. It took me a long time to decide if I was going to join the team or not.

We aren't tied to historical results. We are tied to the historical chain of events. I wouldn't have anything to do with a scripted campaign. That would be worthless to me.

You will fight the battles they fought in order. We aren't going to fight in North Africa, go to Southern France and then come back to Sicily or Anzio. But you are also not going to go to the Normandy Beaches or fight for Rotterdam. The battles are in order and they are historically based. Your results are your own. You can lose battles, make the wrong choices - or the right ones, etc...just like any small unit leader.

Just like any small unit leader the choices you make have consequences from that moment forward. It's a big deal if your men trust you, they respond quicker - if at all. It's a big deal if HQ trusts you, they will support your mission or not by how well they think you do in the field.

Good Hunting.

MR
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 06:16:00 PM by Mad Russian »
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Offline Father Ted

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #83 on: October 08, 2017, 03:12:44 PM »

We aren't tied to historical results. We are tied to the historical chain of events. I wouldn't have anything to do with a scripted campaign. That would be worthless to me.

Ah, good to know.

OK, so to change tack slightly, I'm interested in how the game will actually play.  I imagine a sort of X-Com-type deal where you play out tactical battles and then sort out unit-management in the "down-time" between combats.  Would that be a fair guess?

Offline jomni

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #84 on: October 08, 2017, 07:21:05 PM »
Does that mean battles lost by the Allies are still lost. Its just how you handle your men during the situation. Can lost battles turn to victories?  Will they affect the next battle?

Offline ComradeP

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #85 on: October 09, 2017, 03:24:26 AM »
Like Mad Russian, I'm involved with scenario research and design for Burden of Command.

This isn't a strategic or operational level game, so you don't influence the success of entire battles or the war. It's a big war and you're a small unit leader.

What you cn influence are the decisions on the tactical level. You can decide how to take a certain objective and, through player actions and events, you may or may not succeed. As you're commanding a (reinforced) platoon up to about a company, objectives will mostly be along the lines of "take that hill or village", but they will all be at least 90% historical.

The 10% are for situations where the writers and scenario designers make the situation more interesting by slightly changing historical parameters like battalion/regimental/divisional boundaries or availability of reinforcements. There's no convenient row of lights or the like to indicate where the boundary was on the battlefield, so it's not a stretch that your men sometimes end up on the other side.

As the formation we use is hypothetical within a historical higher formation (as in: the company you belong to didn't exist, but you're part of an existing battalion) we have some flexibility when it comes to positioning. Generally speaking, historical starting positions as mapped out (if available) or researched guesstimates as to where the formation would be form the base for scenario design. You'll encounter historical individuals, but one of the main arguments for not using a historical formation is not being tied to a very specific chain of events that would limit player choice in terms of being railroaded towards a certain conclusion.

As was the case in the real war, there will be battles that can't really be "won". You can succeed in taking your objectives, but that won't win you the overall battle. Example: Rome won't be captured before June 1944, you'll be stuck at Anzio with everybody else during a muddy, wet winter just like the 7th Infantry Regiment was historically. If the 7th missed the part of a battle that was, with hindsight, more interesting from a military/historic perspective than the part it was involved in, it will still miss it.

Randomness comes both from player choice and from actual random events in the narrative. By and large, the game is narrative driven in the sense that in each mission you move from A to B and will encounter a number of fixed and a number of random narrative events along the way, with events caused by - or in response to - your actions thrown in along the way. We're currently doing our best, with the feedback we receive, to make that as interesting as possible whilst keeping in touch with the historical situation.

At this scale, randomness can have just as much impact or maybe even more than on the operational level or above. The arrival time of reinforcements is just as important, but many little things that are abstracted on higher command and control levels have a strong impact on the way a fight develops.

A theoretical example: you're tasked with taking a certain hill, held by an unidentified German formation. Based on your previous performance, you may or may not have the option to get (additional) fire support. That fire support may or may not be effective and may or may not hit your own men. Friendly fire happens more often than the army likes to admit in this war, and the 7th wasn't particularly lucky to say the least.

Based on previous battles, your men may be experienced, green or anything in between. Squads might be full strength or degrees of depleted. Combat and squad mechanics are still being finalized, but the idea is to give the player an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of how a certain leadership style influences the behaviour of your men. Based on "real" behaviour, experienced troops fight well but don't like to take clear risks unless they know they can trust you. Inexperienced troops are more enthusiastic but need more supervision to prevent them from getting themselves killed when encountering their first Germans. Your NCO's and fellow officers also have certain feelings and ideas about you, which change based on your behaviour.

The German formation holding the hill is historical, on your next playthrough it won't randomly morph from a crack Panzer division to some Ost battalions who surrender at the first shot. The defenders will respond to your moves, and also face some randomness of their own.

Your men get going and encounter a log bunker. Your bazooka teams are alive and well and manage to blow the bunker and its occupants to bits. Without bazooka teams, this would require careful flanking and a close assault. Or maybe you picked tank support and a Sherman platoon from the divisional tank battalion is able to help out. Or maybe you decided to go around the log bunker and make the defensive position untenable.

The losses you may or may not have taken directly influence the capabilities of your squad, the support assets you may or may not have used may or may not be available later. Your squads won't magically heal during a fight, dead men remain dead and wounded stay wounded.

You get to the bottom of the hill and start moving up the slope. From your right, you're taking fire from a gun masked by the terrain. There's an FO team following you which is able to call in artillery. The gun is silenced, but you don't know if it's knocked out. Or maybe you can clearly observe a direct hit on the gun. Or maybe the FO team was sniped moving up. Or maybe the shells drop short, hitting your lead squad.

You move to the top of the hill, finding it unoccupied. The Germans seem to have left. Or maybe they're on the reverse slope. Or maybe they ran based on earlier losses. Or maybe they're preparing for a counterattack. Or maybe they wre planning for a counterattack, but were caught by some P-47's as they were forming up. Or maybe battalion HQ decides to send you after the next hill, seeing as how this is all going so well, and you run into a dense network of strongly held trenches.

The situation will be different every time you play the scenario, though the overall quality of the Germans and your objective will be the same, as will be your decision as to how far you want to push your men.

The uncertainty (and replayability) comes from not knowing what will be around the next corner, beyond the next treeline, in the farmland up ahead. There's a lot you don't really know, because you're not in a position to know. If some P-47's pasted the German counterattack, you wouldn't know there was going to be a counterattack to begin with. If there was a counterattack the previous time you played the scenario, you might be preparing for something that will never happen but which does make your advance more cautious. The game will never be unfair unless the historical situation was "unfair" in the sense that the 7th was rather outmatched or had totally unrealistic objectives.

The mixture of a narrative and the tactical combat we're all familiar with from various tactical games can lead to results that neither a pick your own adventure (no real action) or pure tactical game (only, potentially rather "dry", action) can achieve by themselves, and we hope to get that mixture just right.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2017, 03:32:16 AM by ComradeP »
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Offline MengJiao

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #86 on: October 09, 2017, 07:04:07 AM »
I didn't take your comments negatively. I fully understand how hard it is to get a handle on this game. It took me a long toime to decide if I was going to join the team or not.

We aren't tied to historical results. We are tied to the historical chain of events. I wouldn't have anything to do with a scripted campaign. That would be worthless to me.

You will fight the battles they fought in order. We aren't going to fight in North Africa, go to Southern France and then come back to Sicily or Anzio. But you are also not going to go to the Normandy Beaches or fight for Rotterdam. The battles are in order and they are historically based. Your results are your own. You can lose battles, make the wrong choices - or the right ones, etc...just like any small unit leader.

Just like any small unit leader the choices you make have consequences from that moment forward. It's a big deal if your men trust you, they respond quicker - if at all. It's a big deal if HQ trusts you, they will support your mission or not by how well they think you do in the field.

Good Hunting.

MR

   I keep saying the same thing: this is a great idea, but for better comic interactions (such as phone calls and visits from STAVKA) an army level would be far more interesting.  I very much doubt that the commanders of reinforced companies ever got to pick their support whereas at army level (at least in Russia in the Russian army) EVERYTHING WAS YOUR FAULT (fuel, ammo, recon, cooperation etc.)

Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #87 on: October 09, 2017, 06:20:54 PM »

   I keep saying the same thing: this is a great idea, but for better comic interactions (such as phone calls and visits from STAVKA) an army level would be far more interesting.  I very much doubt that the commanders of reinforced companies ever got to pick their support whereas at army level (at least in Russia in the Russian army) EVERYTHING WAS YOUR FAULT (fuel, ammo, recon, cooperation etc.)

I'm not saying this wouldn't be interesting at about any level you would like to fit the pieces together and make it work.

The commanders of reinforced companies do get to pick their support sometimes. The key is that they get to ask for more support everytime and the outcome of you taking extra support had better be you fulfilling the mission. If that wasn't what happened your boss is going to be less than happy. At which point EVERYTHING WAS YOUR FAULT! After all it was just as  much your mission as any Army Commander ever had handed to him.

Good Hunting.

MR
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Offline Moreb

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #88 on: October 10, 2017, 08:02:52 PM »
Ive read through this topic and must admit I'm highly intrigued about this title. It is so refreshing to see new ideas come to the genre. Good luck.
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Offline Mad Russian

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Re: Burden of Command Announced
« Reply #89 on: October 14, 2017, 08:27:16 PM »
The target for release is 2018. So, we'll see how we do.

Good Hunting.

MR
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