Home Forums General Game Design Let's talk about perspective based wargames Reply To: Let's talk about perspective based wargames

Mr. Average

I think McLaddie makes the key point.  The biggest issue is that any given single perspective cannot really be guaranteed to produce a game that is both realistic and interesting for the player.  Playing World War II from the perspective of a Divisional logistics officer is likely to be pretty boring, however critical it may have been to the war effort.  And being a General on the field watching his armies wheel uncontrollably while being unable to stop it because he’s not at the right level of command to order them to withdraw and form up, well, that gets back to my original point of “You Can’t Do That.”  In my opinion, it’s when one takes on the interesting aspects of multiple roles in a battle that the real flavor of a game takes shape.  Any given person in a battle is likely to be panicked, frustrated, incompetent, out of control – and forcing that perspective is likely to force the player to take on a role that is either uninteresting or irritating, for the sake of “realism.”

Mechanics can solve this to some certain extent, though – how communications are carried out (as Norm mentions), rules based on morale or command abilities of subordinates, etc.  Even three-player, double-blind gaming with a GM is a possibility, albeit a complex one.  But you’re quite right to steer clear of mechanics that railroad someone arbitrarily because “everyone knows that” this or that is what should really happen – it is a grave temptation among designers to tip the scales based on their own prejudices, even though they be reasonable and historically-based.  One such game I’ve played, for example, was set in the Cold War in the 1980s, and the Soviet is almost always on the attack in an unstoppable wave, while the Allies are always falling back, retreating, regrouping, routing, or otherwise failing to measure up, because “everyone knows” the Soviet had a huge army that SHOULD roll over the NATO forces, so it’s built into the system that that’s what is happening.  Which gets very old very fast for the NATO player.

Or another example, not specifically perspective-related, but of a kindred variety in re: tipping the scales on the designer’s end.  A Russian Civil War game I once played, in which “everyone knows” the Communists were stronger than the Whites, giving them a battlefield advantage in almost every circumstance.  I played both sides at different times, and the Whites felt consistently frustrating, while the Reds were easy to the point of absurdity.  The claim was that the fun was in succeeding despite the system, but that seemed backwards to me.  It really got to where there were only a few determined ways to win in that system, and so the game really began to play itself, since the “right” way to play was the only way to win.  This may have been satisfying to the designer, who got to see his way of things work out, but how much fun is that to play?

You’ll forgive me for being verbose on the “con” side, I hope, but I think the pitfalls are many, and worth being aware of if this is the route you wish to take.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 9 months ago by Mr. Average.