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GameTalk: Innovations in Wargaming


This week's GameTalk asks for your opinion on recent innovations in wargaming...

Jack Nastyface:
Although this ain't exactly what we might be thinking about, I am going to talk about the THREE most important things I've seen in the last 15 years (or so...)
1)  Desktop publishing:  Although some old-school, die-hard grogs (yes, I am looking at you Brian T) still like their counters with NATO symbols or dark shillouttes, there is no doubt that modern desktop publishing software and hardware tools have opened the door to some incredible examples of map and counter artwork.  Furthermore, these self-same tools make it possible for small-scale hobbyists to produce and self-publish affordable (or even free!) games via the internetwebs.  Desktop publishing has even breathed new life into old titles, and new, graphically updated versions of old stalwarts are finding new life.  As a result of this,  favorite groghead doom-and-gloom topics of discussion such as "they don't make 'em like they used to" or "damn few of us left" are - like end-of-day prophecies by Mayan Calenders and Nostradamus - becoming increasingly unrealized.
2)  Kickstarter:  Producing and publishing games has always been a fiscal challenge.  Even in it's hayday, this niche hobby of ours seldom if ever created millionaire game designers / developers.  Although kickstarter may not open the doors to untold wealth, it AT LEAST provides a reasonable and accessible way for current and aspiring game devs to sell their product without taking unnecessary and unwanted financial risks.  Furthermore, a good Kickstarter campaign will not only create sales, but it may also increase awareness about products, companies, genres and skilled talent in the field.  I'm not sure what a "win-win" result on a CRT table would look like, but IMHO Kickstarter is one of best innovations for the wargaming hobby we've seen in years.
3) Finally...(and I may be outside of our 15 year mark with this one), but I have to include the development, availability and proliferation of boardgame engines like VASSAL.  Thanks to VASSAL and internetweb technologies, old games are being made accessible to many new players, and player gaming sessions can occur at your electronic leisure, at the global scale.

Yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface

Hey Jack, I resemble that remark!

Though if there were no DTP software, I would still be working with shirt cardboard and Hi-Liter markers... heck, I still am.

The problem is that owning a paint-box does not make you Manet (and it won't make you any Monet, either).
You still have to have some idea of what you are doing, and yes, there are some nice graphic updates of things, but to my fading eyes there is an awful lot more that is just busy busy busy and clashing colours fonts and jaggy little .jpgs of tanky-tanks.
It may look great blown up to 9" square on a computer monitor but rendered onto a 1/2" cardboard chip, it looks like something the cat didn't finish eating.

Kickstarter is an interesting idea, but I'm not ready to play in it yet - most of what I do is of such marginal interest to "most" gamers that it sin't really worth the bother.
It does offer greater potential than the P500 model, which usually works but also often keeps worthwhile ideas and designs locked up for years before the trigger is pulled (or the idea just falls off the list).

VASSAL - yes, I am yielding to this and other technologies, but I don't like it.
I have never liked computer games, or playing anything on a tube for that matter.
A game has to offer a tactile, face-to-face experience to deliver its best - personally I just can't connect with these things.

Old-school, REPRESENT!


Mad Russian:
Btrain...get yourself hooked up to Skype so you can harass...errr...make comments to your gaming opponent in real time and that goes a long way towards the social aspect of gaming.
I don't play Vassal without a Skype connection.

Good Hunting.


I have started doing that very thing, in the process of playtesting my new COIN system game with my very able developer... who is much better at this tech stuff than I am.
It's working really well, but it will be a long, long time before I ever get my first VASSAL module together.
I see the point, I see the utility, but I also see my cement head in the mirror...



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