View Full Version : Thoughts on multiplayer design

Dr Zaius
18 Oct 03, 11:15
I've been thinking about the multiplayer aspect of ATF lately and there are a few things that I have wondered about. The multiplayer aspect of wargaming is a huge draw for many players and I believe this partially explains (at least currently) the small fan base for ATF/BCT. I love playing the AI in a lot of wargames, but many people won't do it. They get bored with it and want to play against other people.

Not many wargames support head-to-head live play because the nature of our games does not typically lend themselves to it very well. It's great in Age of Empires, but playing Panzer Campaigns live would almost be almost physically painful. :confused:

On the other hand, not all wargames are turn-based so it presents a challenge for the developer to implement multiplayer in such a way that it complements the original design of the game. I wonder (now hear me out) if it might be possible to design the next version of ATF, AATF, etc with simultaneous resolution. The game would still run in real time just like it does now, but it would be divided into "turns" of a certain time. 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or whatever the designer felt was appropriate for scale. Let me tell you why I think this would be the way to go.

First, it allows players to fight somewhat larger actions because the game doesn't turn into a click fest where something is happening at the far end of the map and your attention is diverted over here, and so on. Players would be able to issue orders, set SOP etc, but this system makes it more relaxed and enjoyable.

Second, this would allow PBEM. Combat Mission runs in real time as well, but it is divided into chunks -- or "turns" for lack of a better term -- that allow each player to issue orders, then all the actions for that turn are executed simultaneously in real time. Providing players with a PBEM option could be exactly what the system needs for it to grow a larger fan base. It's very difficult for a lot of gamers to arrange head-to-head online play and it sounds like there are still some technology issues as well.

Would this option alter gameplay a bit? Yes, but not dramatically. The game would still execute everything in real time, we would simply be breaking each battle up into more manageable pieces. it would also allow players to play out each battle over a period of days or weeks, even when they are from different time zones or whatever. Would a move to such a system involve a fairly heavy degree of additional programming for CPT Proctor? Yes, however, it could pay off by making the system a lot more flexible for many players. He is already doing a lot of programming for AATF anyway.

I think such a system is the best of both worlds. The realism of real time execution, with the flexibility of turn-based play. Combat Mission is probably the best example of this concept in action, but I believe the ATF series has potential as well. Thoughts?

Pat Proctor
18 Oct 03, 13:42
I have a seemingly unrelated question that is actually very related: Who out there owns an XBOX and plays it (i.e. it is not just for your kids)? Of those, how many of you have XBOX Live?

21 Oct 03, 09:49
While I do not own a consol game system...yet, XBOX is definately on the top of my list. It would be able to run larger scenarios, with more terrain features...(forests,urban, etc) with out the slowdown. :thumup:

I would consider buying it, but the drawbacks that come to mind:
No user mods or scenarios...

With this in mind, I think that the XBOX version (should one appear) should ship with a larger # and greater variety of scenarios. If this was the case I would most certainly consider picking it up!



Pat Proctor
21 Oct 03, 11:06
Who said anything about an XBOX version? ;)

Just a little market research.

22 Oct 03, 21:19
I agree with Don. That if the PC VERSION of the game came with the option to play a wego simultaneous pbem, it take alot of the pain away from finding someone to play. I know if the next game shipped with this it would be the option I would play the most. I find it easier to take 15 to 20 minutes a week, rather then 1-3 hours, as I am sure most of us would agree.

I like the live game, and would definitely want to keep it and maybe even see it optimized enough to allow team play...some day;).

You know for when the planets align just right, and you and ten or so of your friends have nothing to do...

While granted an XBOX type platform may solve all of this as far as online team style play goes, you still would not want to forget all of us hardcore wargamers who own pc's and helped get you where you are today.:D