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  • #8378
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    So there are:

    SIMULATIONS – Represent EVERY detail, MANY charts, LOTS of die rolls, likely plays slower than real-time, focuses on accuracy of detail. Example: Empire, Fletcher Prat, BattleTech…

    BEER & PRETZELS – mechanics MIGHT relate to history / reality, FEWER charts, abstracts ANYTHING or EVERYTHING, focuses on game play. Example: The Sword & The Flame, Lord of the Rings, Future War Commander, Memoir ’44…

    But what else is there? It is a very wide continuum. Most rules actually sit in-between these two poles but is it just a choice between two or is this a multi-axis graph we are making?

    I believe there are more… for instance there is FAST PLAY and I’m not sure that FAST PLAY is just between BEER & PRETZELS and SIMULATION, I like to think it has its own set of unique characteristics that may or may not overlap with the others.

    FAST PLAY – Obviously plays fast requiring straight forward turn sequences and mechanics, likely a high level game abstracting many or all lower level details. Example: Grande Armée, DBA / DBM / DBN / etc…

    I’m into talking about this because I am fascinated by the idea of cross-overs, i.e. FAST PLAY-SIMULATIONS, etc…

    So, what other game types exist and what defines them?

    #8379
    Avatar photoExtraCrispy
    Participant

    I don’t think games break down into thee kinds of categories. Nor is it a single continuum. Each game lies somewhere along a variety of continuum. For example, your definition of “simulation” is not one I share. I call that a monster game that, in trying to account for everything, accounts for nothing. Some games attempt to teach, some merely to entertain, some to look good. But I think these categories don’t bear up under scrutiny. Why, for example, would anyone assume a simulation has lots of charts? You have assumed the answer before you asked the question, “what makes a game a simulation?”

    #8420
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    It might be more accessible to look at games in turns of scope or level. Man-to -man skirmishes have more in common with one another (even if complexity differs) than with grand tactical battles of the same sort of complexity. I can easily see how my ‘Outlaws of Sherwood’ rules, which are deliberately fairly simple,  relate to the rules-heavy ‘Retinue’, which I played 30+ years ago; both are medieval skirmish games, but one has much more detail than the other.  That’s a useful starting place.

    I could compare ‘Retinue’ with, say, ‘Empire III’ as being complex rules from the 70s/80s,  but aside from that connection they have little in common. People might say, “I am looking for a medieval skirmish set’, but are less likely to say “I am looking for a complicated set with old-fashioned mechanisms and lots of charts. I don’t mind what it’s about.”

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8446
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    I don’t think any wargame is a simulation.
    A simulation is something that tries to mimic or copy a real thing.

    To simulate a war/battle would mean thinking actual lives were in danger, or that it was real time, having people scared, shouting, refusing to do orders, real people and interaction with soldiers etc.
    Sitting in a chair, rolling dice, reading a book and wondering if the paintjob is as good as you hoped, would not convince anyone that a war is taking place and you are in it.
    At best some wargames try to model the outcome of an event, not simulate them.

    Video games are better simulations, as you are in real time, there is the noise of battle, you don’t have a view of the entire area that you do when standing over a gaming table etc.
    But even these fall far short of a realistic/believable simulation.

    #8450
    Avatar photoExtraCrispy
    Participant

    Simulations, in my mind, can take many forms. For example I would never claim a wargame could “simulate war.” But an exercise or game played in the comfort of an office can simulate various aspects of war – certain kinds of decision making for example. There’s a famous experiment/exercise that was run on students. You were head of a Nascar team. You have to decide to race or not, knowing your car may break down. And you’re under pressure to deliver because you need sponsors. There is all kinds of data for you to look at and decide: do you race on Sunday? Of course, the exercise models the Challenger launch. The “reveal” was quite eye-opening to a lot of people.

    Even a wargame like “Kriegspeil” can simulate a decision making environment. It can instruct you in the ways things can go wrong, it can teach you how to make decisions without complete information, etc. A simulation, after all, is the imitation of a real world event or process over time. That does not mean it is invalid of there is no noise or smoke.

    It’s also interesting to note that, at least according to my father tho the info is 20 years out of date since he retired, for every wargame the army put on that was about the battlefield, they put on 20 that were about deployment and logistics. In general the thought was that tactical games were not that valuable. Strategic games were, but then you’re talking about freight capability, logistical tail, etc. What’s the old saying about “amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics?”

    #8458
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    For example, your definition of “simulation” is not one I share.

    To be clear, it is not my definition of a simulation. I believe a simulation must simulate specific things, i.e. perspective and focus. That by including too much you will blur that focus and infringe on portions of what you seek to simulate.

    However, when I consider what games people call simulations, what comments players make of simulations and what characteristics of a game players identify when saying disparaging things, they are the characteristics I describe above in my original post.

    I don’t think games break down into thee kinds of categories. Nor is it a single continuum. Each game lies somewhere along a variety of continuum.

    To be frank and direct, nothing breaks down into any categories and all things are spread across a mass list of continuums, such is the case with everything from food to books to movies to people. IMDB is useful because all the titles are logged against a huge number of genres so you can find action-comedies by looking up either action or comedy. However, when you go into a local video rental store (in the towns where those still exist) you have to decide if you are going to look for a given title on either the action or comedy shelves. That is still the world of wargaming.

    If you were to ask your average wargamer if he wanted to play a simulation I’m guessing he’d say something like, “no, no, too involved, too complex, too many charts, I’ve played Empire.”

    That is the common refrain. I don’t think that is what a simulation game is, I think, as you do, that it is more complicated, but the impressions of the players and the stereotypes that exist are of real impact on how people consider things.

    #8460
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    I am going to suggest that we stop using the word ‘simulation’ in reference to our hobby wargames with toy soldiers. It doesn’t help, and simply reminds people of very dull magazine articles from the 80s and 90s. Plus a particularly tedious commentator on TMP, who wrote a lot of those articles 15 years ago, and types at enormous length. He’s never actually written a set of wargames rules.  You’ll probably know who I mean.

    I am putting together a series of articles for Wargames Illustrated in which I gather (by email, not in my cavernous drawing room with leather armchairs and Remy Martin on tap) a group of established game designers, covering most kinds of miniature wargame. I asked them about the old ‘game versus simulation’ debate and you know what? None of them cared. It was old news. It was like asking whether Germany would win the 1998 World cup.

    It’s a game. It may be simple or detailed, high or low level, but it’s a game.

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8463
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Plus a particularly tedious commentator on TMP, who wrote a lot of those articles 15 years ago, and types at enormous length. He’s never actually written a set of wargames rules.  You’ll probably know who I mean.

    How about we don’t do things like this here as all it does is remind me of how catty, rude and disparaging the general environment at TMP commonly was.

    #8465
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    How about we don’t do things like this here as all it does is remind me of how catty, rude and disparaging the general environment at TMP commonly was.

    That’s true enough, but my point stands. The word ‘simulation’ has very negative connotations in the context of miniature wargaming.  It just causes arguments.

    And actual game designers are just completely over it. They just weren’t interested in that discussion at all.

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8467
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    Plus a particularly tedious commentator on TMP, who wrote a lot of those articles 15 years ago, and types at enormous length. He’s never actually written a set of wargames rules. You’ll probably know who I mean.

    How about we don’t do things like this here as all it does is remind me of how catty, rude and disparaging the general environment at TMP commonly was.

    Let us not dwell on the past or on other sites, but rather on the now and be cool whilst doing so.

    #8473
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    but my point stands. The word ‘simulation’ has very negative connotations in the context of miniature wargaming.  And actual game designers are just completely over it.

    I would agree with that and it is actually why I bring it up. ‘Beer & Pretzels game’ as a term also has a very negative connotation. Maybe it is an issue of my own that I see us [wargaming] as a market place where people want to know which bucket a given set of rules falls into, i.e. is it an X type, Y type or Z type of game?

    While Mark (ExtraCrispy) is entirely right in saying that all games are actually various proportions of each of these characteristics, since gamers still do think in these terms and categorize gams in these terms I am of the presumption that it makes sense to speak to these concerns and labels.

    Where I fall into a pitfall is that if you ask players to describe what they want, a lot of what you’ll hear is along the lines of:

    • plays fast
    • easy to learn
    • period flavor
    • reasonable result

    These are various levels of subjective but “period flavor” is perhaps the least useful of any of them. It is akin to saying, “I like games I like,” which is fair and true but not terribly helpful when you want to guide someone as to if ABC Game is one of those. So while speaking to stereotypes is lousy in a lot of ways, it does communicate in a language likely to be understood simply because you’re speaking to clear expectations.

    #8481
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    Where I fall into a pitfall is that if you ask players to describe what they want, a lot of what you’ll hear is along the lines of: • plays fast • easy to learn • period flavor • reasonable result These are various levels of subjective but “period flavor” is perhaps the least useful of any of them. It is akin to saying, “I like games I like,” which is fair and true but not terribly helpful when you want to guide someone as to if ABC Game is one of those. So while speaking to stereotypes is lousy in a lot of ways, it does communicate in a language likely to be understood simply because you’re speaking to clear expectations.

    I see what you mean. I suspect that simply saying ‘simple’ ‘complex’ or ‘a bit like The Glory of Glory but not really’ is the best we can manage.

    I add period flavour by playing by candlelight and serving the most appalling food.

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8485
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    I would agree with that and it is actually why I bring it up. ‘Beer & Pretzels game’ as a term also has a very negative connotation.

    Interesting, I never thought it did.
    I have often described my rules as fast play, lite, and beer and pretzels.

    I hope that conveys the fact they are quick to learn, quick to play and allow fast paced games.
    The kind of rules that allow for a battle to be played to conclusion in an evening after a day at work.

    #8534
    Avatar photoExtraCrispy
    Participant

    Here’s the issue I have these days. EVERY set of rules I read has an introduction that says “this is a fun fast game that still gives a flavor of the period” or words to that effect. Our hobby still has a blind spot for “simulations.” What was the last game published that said it was “detailed” or whatever code word we use now? I can’t fond one.

    I once asked for WW2 rules with more “meat” that were more sim and less beery. The number one response was Tractics, a set that had been out of print for 30+ years. As fas as I know the most complex set of WW2 rules readily available today is Flames of War. Schwere Kompanie is very detailed but semi-out of print. Maybe Command Decision? But after you name those two I counter with Chain of Command, Bot Action, Disposable Heroes, Nuts, Battlegroup, Panzer Grenadier, etc. etc. all billed as “fast play.”

    Ditto for Napoleonics. Aside from Empire and it’s various iterations, where is the last “simulation?” Grande Armee? Field of Glory?

    It’s as if we have PTSD from Empire and Tractics, despite the fact no similar games have been published in 30 years or more!

    Honestly, if you want to play a simulation these days you;re on E-bay looking for old and out of print games. So this “category” especially needs to go away. Which leaves us with what? Fast play and B&P?

    #8538
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    EVERY set of rules I read has an introduction that says “this is a fun fast game that still gives a flavor of the period” or words to that effect.

    Which really makes those statements completely empty right? I’ve got that same problem…

    Aside from Empire and it’s various iterations, where is the last “simulation?” Grande Armee? Field of Glory?

    And see I wouldn’t consider either of those to be “highly detailed” or “simulation” games. Certainly they don’t fit the stereotype but they also don’t fit my own expectation.

    It’s as if we have PTSD from Empire and Tractics…

    I agree with that.

    …despite the fact no similar games have been published in 30 years or more!

    Well, I don’t know Tractics, but several “simulation games” that either followed Empire or are related to Empire have been released in the last 30 years:

    • Battles for Empire 1990
    • Empire V can’t recall the year…
    • Legacy of Glory 1991
    • General de Brigade 1999

    More on point, roughly in the last ten years…
    • Revolution & Empire came out in 2003
    • Le Feu Sacre version 1 in 2003 and version 3 in 2009…

    I played a new “simulation” (designer’s description not mine) Napoleonics game at Little Wars this year that the designers ran, said they were releasing it at Historicon. I didn’t go to Historicon so I can’t report further but in theory a new one was just launched…

    So this “category” especially needs to go away. Which leaves us with what? Fast play and B&P?

    I know it should be obvious but what dictates that the “category” should go away?

    Because many are “out-of-print” – Lots of people still play out-of-print rules. Heck I think half the rules my Thursday night group plays have been out-of-print for ten years or more. Also, a lot of rules that people *think* are out-of-print, are not. For instance Revolution & Empire is readily available, from the publisher, Military Matters I believe… and for that matter at my local gaming store… and many that are out-of-print aren’t terribly hard to find or very costly.

    Because marketing speak has moved away from “highly detailed” and “simulation” well… that’s a marketing trend, even less precise than the stereotypes I started this thread with right?

    Because the number published is tiny compared to the “fast-play” genre?

    Because the market (players) seem scared of the word “simulation”?

    PLEASE NOTE: I’m not trying to put reasons in your mouth, I’m guessing based on your post.

    #8542
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    I do agree about claims that rules are fast and furious (always that same banal phrase) and just chock full of flavour. Sure, we hope they are. Who would say “Mind-numbingly tedious, and barely related to the topic at all”?

    Anyone remember the Newbury Rules ‘fast play’ sets, which were fast compared with that company’s glacial ‘normal’ rules, but still pretty damn heavy going. Okay, I’m told so – I’d been scared away by the originals, and wasn’t about to risk the new version.

    I’d be satisfied if the more complex and detailed rules just used those words as descriptors. There’s no pejorative aspect to them.

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8565
    Avatar photoShandy
    Participant

    From what I have read, the new ACW rules by John Hill, Across a Deadly Field, seem to be more on the simulation side of things. However, the problem seems to be that they take quite a lot of time to play – a battle on a weekend, they say. For me, personally, this is not feasible – I don’t have that much time at my hand.

    I don’t think the market is necessarily scared of the word ‘simulation’, but it is rightly scared of rules that create games that take a long time. Many people don’t have that time. So I am looking for rules that, indeed, give “a fun fast game that still gives a flavor of the period” – and with rules like the ones produced by TooFatLardies, I don’t think it’s an empty phrase.

    But then I have always been fascinated what could be called ‘elegance’ in games design – mechanisms that, while quite simple, manage to model quite complex processes and open up lots of possibilities. The TFL shock points are something like that.

    #8587
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I do agree about claims that rules are fast and furious (always that same banal phrase) and just chock full of flavour. Sure, we hope they are. Who would say “Mind-numbingly tedious, and barely related to the topic at all”? Anyone remember the Newbury Rules ‘fast play’ sets, which were fast compared with that company’s glacial ‘normal’ rules, but still pretty damn heavy going. Okay, I’m told so – I’d been scared away by the originals, and wasn’t about to risk the new version. I’d be satisfied if the more complex and detailed rules just used those words as descriptors. There’s no pejorative aspect to them.

     

    That was the 1980s ‘Realistic Rules’ syndrome Howard. Just about every set back then were like that, and the general perception was that they were ‘better’.

    Somewhere around the early 90s most folks started to realise that life was too damn short. That doesn’t explain or excuse Challenger 2000 however…

     

    All I ask these days is that rules are concise, clearly written with illustrated examples. And FUN!!!

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #8596
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

     

    That was the 1980s ‘Realistic Rules’ syndrome Howard. Just about every set back then were like that, and the general perception was that they were ‘better’. Somewhere around the early 90s most folks started to realise that life was too damn short. That doesn’t explain or excuse Challenger 2000 however… All I ask these days is that rules are concise, clearly written with illustrated examples. And FUN!!!

    I remember buying Paddy Griffith’s book Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun. By God, that title was a challenge to everything happening in wargaming in 1980! Paddy was brilliant, and a lot of fun to know.  I miss him enormously.

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8598
    Avatar photogrizzlymc
    Participant

    how about deterministic versus abstract.

    Deterministic rules seek to simulate an effect by simulating the stages of the effect, perhaps through a chain of die rolls, abstract ones seek to achieve an overall effect with no attention to intermediate events.

     

    I would use as an example the sort of 20th C naval rules where you acquire a target, roll, to hit , roll for hit location, roll for effect.  Versus GQ3 where most of that is down to 1 roll.

    #8610
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    how about deterministic versus abstract.

    I don’t think that is bad but I’m adverse to the whole “let’s not say simulation because these are toys for fun” thing. Really? “Just a game” and “play for fun” really feel dismissive often times – they are so obvious: I mean, has anyone anywhere ever said that a wargame was not intended to be a game and be fun?

    My problem is that historically wargames seem to have largely fallen into the category of “heavier mechanics but stronger link to history” or “lighter mechanics but zero link to history.” I’ve got gripes with both ends of the spectrum. When I ask how a given mechanic simulates of history, I think there should be a specific valid answer, not just “well, it works OK I think”. I also don’t understand why two pages of charts are necessary to perform a firefight between two battalions.

    As in many things the world of wargaming is bad at seeking the middle.

    #8628
    Avatar photoHoward Whitehouse
    Participant

    I’ve seen rules referred to as ‘crunchy’ if they had a lot of detail, which I quite like

    It’s also worth mentioning that some rules are quite light or vague in some areas while being extremely detailed in other parts. Sometimes that’s a deliberate way of focussing attention on the most important aspects of the game. Sometimes it seems like a response to an annoying playtester —-

    I do all my own stunts.

    #8639
    Avatar photoShecky
    Participant

    I’d lean toward “deterministic vs. abstract” as well. I’d also throw out for consideration, top-down vs bottom-up design.

    To me, top-down approach to game design places more emphasis on the results while the bottom up places emphasis on the reasons or process.

    Taking melee or close combat mechanisms as an example, in a top-down designed game, close combat may be initiated when units come in contact as a result of movement and there may be one or two rolls to determine the result of the combat. In the bottom-up designed game, the close combat mechanism may start with a unit being ordered to charge, must pass a test to charge, the target passes a morale test to receive the charge, the target the fires on the charging unit, the charging unit then has to pass a morale test to close and then there are one or two more tests to determine the result of the charge.

    Bringing it back to the deterministic vs abstract, in the above example, the bottom-up approach would be deterministic – the charge failed because the target passed its morale, stood steady, fired into the charging unit and caused it to waiver.  The top down approach would be abstract as the player doesn’t know or perhaps doesn’t care why the charge failed, he just knows it did.

     

    As for other genres of game design, there are open vs. closed systems. Usually the more open a system is the more the players have to put into the game – they have to design their own scenarios, build their own forces, determine victory conditions, interpret ambiguous or conflicting rules, etc. Closed systems usually have definite victory conditions, provide guidance or even demand strict adherence to force lists and have clear mechanisms for resolving rule interpretation conflicts.

    #8677
    Avatar photoExtraCrispy
    Participant

    “how a given mechanic simulates history”

    One of the real problems here is that I think most game designers (me included) can’t necessarily defend a lot of choices historically. Why three morale grades and not twelve? Why not just two? How did you determine your combat system yields historically accurate results? Why do you assume morale is a function of casualties? In many cases there’s simply no real data. How effective is a musket volley at 100 yards? You can find examples of officers describing coming under the most galling fire, only to find te regiment took just 21 casualties that day. Other times a regiment will lose 50% and memoirs don’t really mention anything out of the ordinary. There are peace time attempts to determine how often a musket could hit at various ranges. But that’s on a parade ground, with a good shot (after all the generals are watching), no smoke, and no one shooting back. Now how effective is an M60 at 200 yards firing into the jungle at barely glimpsed VC? Chances to hit are what? Suppressive effects are what? How do you know?

    There are some obvious areas where a design mirrors history or not – formations for example. You may exclude them as being below the commander’s notice (Altar of Freedom, Grande Armee, Volley & Bayonet). Or they may be a key in the game (Chef de Battalion, Johnny Reb III, Column Line & Square).

    Usually in my designs I am trying to feature or highlight one aspect of the battle and am willing to let the rest go. I’ve never seen a game that gave a bonus for refilling canteens or cooking coffee during a lull in the sector, for example. So often my shooting systems are designed around “how many turns, on average, will a target last given average dice rolls?” If 1.5 shots will wipe out  a squad, it’s too deadly. If it takes 48 shots to do the same, combat is too weak.

    And we often import “standard” rules in to periods where they have no business. I’ve seen Vietnam rules with rules for “routed” units. To see US troops running all over the jungle as they rout (to where exactly?) makes me chuckle. In my rules US troops do not rout. They simply go to a less aggressive order. Then they go to ground. They don’t run, but they are absolutely useless. All you can do is call for the choppers. The VC/NVA meanwhile do the same before they “melt into the jungle.”

    In the end I think designs simply reflect your prejudgements. Toss in confirmation bias by picking the memoirs/accounts you want and there you are.

    As for the fun vs. simulation – I agree. Some say “just for fun” as if any war game worth it’s salt must be tedious or serious. That may be true in the army, but they get paid to do it, that’s their profession. Out here for me the first test of a design is “Is it fun?” As I’ve mentioned before, in most horse & musket battles brigade commanders didn’t get to make too many interesting decisions. They largely ended up in”hold this line” or “go straight ahead and bash that line over there” mode. The interesting decisions are where to put the brigades and when. So I like a game that gives me more leeway than would historically have been “realistic.”

    One last thought: since gamers never behave historically, can a design be “historic” unless it forces them to do so?

    In general I think if you really want to design a good simulation, do it on the computer. Hidden movement, no 200 foot general, no knowing the enemy strength down to the second decimal, cantankerous subordinates, simultaneous action – no IGOUGO or move one unit at a time, no “turn phases” – you simply can’t come anywhere near that with miniatures. Heck in a computer game you can have morale ranked from 1-100 if you want…and “charts” can be as complex as needed because the computer does all the work.

    #8697
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I agree. Some say “just for fun” as if any war game worth it’s salt must be tedious or serious.

     

    And ‘some’ miss the point.

    or

    One man’s fun is another man’s tedious beyond belief.

    Some may find Harpoon or Challenger 2000 ‘fun’. Others may think Newbury’s rules are the funnest thing ever, and that Empire, in all its iterations, is an absolute bloody hoot.

    I’d rather stick hot pins under my fingernails before playing any of them again.

    One last thought: since gamers never behave historically, can a design be “historic” unless it forces them to do so?

    Many designs do exactly that, to a greater or lesser extent.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #8837
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    And actual game designers are just completely over it. They just weren’t interested in that discussion at all

    Howard:

    The current designers may not be interested in the discussion, but they all have used the word ‘simulation’, ‘historically accurate’ and/or claimed their games can do only what a simulation of history and combat can. [be glad to give you examples] I think the simulation issues surrounding our historical wargames will disappear when game designers stop claiming their games actually represent and recreate historical combat in any respect, and that will happen when gamers stop looking for those things in their games. [be glad to give you examples] They aren’t there yet, so the questions about what is represented with the games continues.

    The term ‘simulation’ has very specific and technical meanings.  It is neither a philosophical issue or one of personal preferences, other than wanting them or not.  The hobby has such a skewed, unclear and generally unattractive and wrong view of the word ‘simulation’ that it isn’t surprising folks want to do a way with it–it certainly is difficult to decide if you like them if it is so unclear what they are and what they can and can’t do.

    Being able to categorize different goals for designs and systems is a universal aspect of hobbies. What game systems are designed to do and not do should be fairly easy to categorize, but such things are purposely kept vague as not to self-select out possible customers.

    #8842
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    And actual game designers are just completely over it. They just weren’t interested in that discussion at all Howard: The current designers may not be interested in the discussion, but they all have used the word ‘simulation’, ‘historically accurate’ and/or claimed their games can do only what a simulation of history and combat can. 

     

    Not this again. New venue, same old merde.

    Persil used to claim to wash ‘whiter than white’. A make of car I used to own claimed to ‘give you the drive of your life’.

    Here, knock yourself out http://home.olemiss.edu/~egjbp/comp/ad-claims.html

    Are you really, genuinely, unable to understand the distinction between marketing andreality? Or is it a just drum you have to keep on banging?

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #8843
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    Or is it a just drum you have to keep on banging?

    Maybe he just thought you looked lonely banging your “drum of constant disparagement”.

    #8844
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Are you really, genuinely, unable to understand the distinction between marketing andreality? Or is it a just drum you have to keep on banging?

    NC:

    Sure I know the distinction. The problem seems to be that the hobby has a real difficulty with that. You have to ask why designers keep banging on the simulation/historical accuracy drum in marketing while it has nothing to do with the real product?  Who are they selling with that marketing?  It can’t be those gamers who are convinced such things aren’t real and can’t be done. I have never brought up the issues on threads as above. It is always someone else, with several people beating the same drums for and against, over what definitions etc…. So the drums are continually being beaten while some folks insist no one cares. Doesn’t that strike you as strange?  Sort of like the all the laundry technicians arguing over whether that white is whiter than this white, all the time others insist nobody cares.

    Who is doing the beating and why?  It sure isn’t me.  I’ve only been commenting on that phenomena and how marketing and reality could meet.

    So, how about facing an obvious bit of reality:

    Designers market their games as simulations recreating something of real combat because that is what gamers want and what they buy.  When they stop buying that hype, the designers will stop selling it.  And I am fine with that–if it happened, but seriously doubt it will.

     

    #8851
    Avatar photoJohn D Salt
    Participant

    how about deterministic versus abstract. Deterministic rules seek to simulate an effect by simulating the stages of the effect, perhaps through a chain of die rolls, abstract ones seek to achieve an overall effect with no attention to intermediate events.

    The trouble is, that is not what the words “deterministic” and “abstract” mean. And they are not opposites one of another. The opposite of  “determimistic” is “stochastic”. The opposite of “abstract” is “concrete”. You seem to want a term describing how aggregated or disaggregated (lumped or split) the combat procedures are — or perhaps just “simple” against “complicated”.

    It would be much easier to discuss this sort of thing if people could refrain from misdefining words with established meanings. Sure, using the word “simulaton” seems to cause arguments. That is mainly because a bunch of people have decided, for reasons known only to Dagon the Mighty Fish God of the Phillistines, that “simulation” means “absurdly over-complicated game that I don’t like”; of course there is going to be disagreement, because that isn’t what “simulation” means.

    All the best,

    John.

     

    #8861
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Persil used to claim to wash ‘whiter than white’. A make of car I used to own claimed to ‘give you the drive of your life’.

     

    Just to be clear, NC, neither of those bits of marketing hype would work at all unless buyers wanted white laundry and a great driving car.  It’s hype because the product doesn’t or can’t deliver–that’s how you and I know it’s hype.   Because it sells when people *know* it isn’t true says a lot about how badly people want what is promised.

    #8865
    Avatar photoJohn D Salt
    Participant

    One of the real problems here is that I think most game designers (me included) can’t necessarily defend a lot of choices historically. Why three morale grades and not twelve? Why not just two? How did you determine your combat system yields historically accurate results? Why do you assume morale is a function of casualties? In many cases there’s simply no real data.

    I suspect that there is a lot less jutification for lots of rules mechanisms than the rules writers would like you to think. I find it quite terrifying how little trustworthy data there is on lots of things even in supposedly recent and well-documented periods like ww2; once you get to ancients, the sources can often be eumerated on the fingers of one hand (see Phil Sabin’s excellent “Lost Battles” for how wargames can help understanding even when we are so light on data, though).

    It seems to me that it is very often necessary for the designer, even if he has a sound command of the available historical data, to just make things up. I am fine with this, but I would like to see designer’s notes declaring as much. Moreover, there does not seem to be much point in making finer distinctions in a wargame than commanders did historically. How many morale classes? Well, how many did historical commanders recognise historically? I should think that in any epoch there would be recognised crack troops, ordinary ine troops, and those known to be second-rate, but I find it hard to imagine an epoch where twelve distinct quality classes were recognised.  In this respect, naming things is important — if the military thinkers of the time did not have a word to describe the category, quality, effect ot result you have in mind for your design, maybe it shouldn’t feature.

    All the best,

    John.

    #8871
    Avatar photoBandit
    Participant

    I’d agree with McLaddie & John that there are real definitions for these things but they are typically incorrectly defined. Take my initial post, I’m describing how I believe these things are seen, not what they actually are. Or Not Connard Sage who says that it is all just empty marketing terms. But none of this is true. If there was no desire to emulate or simulate the history then we’d commonly have mashups of ‘Mechs vs French Old Guard vs Bear Cavalry – and we don’t. Sure, those games exist somewhere but there are tons of games and seek to provide a very narrowly defined notion which exclude such outliers.

    #8885
    Avatar photoExtraCrispy
    Participant

    Speak lightly of  Dagon the Mighty Fish God of the Phillistines at your peril. Peril I tell you!

    #8890
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    One last thought: since gamers never behave historically, can a design be “historic” unless it forces them to do so?

    EC:

    Never behave historically? A design can be ‘historic’ by providing a representation of the battlefield environment where the decisions were made. If the game environment succeeds, then it will process game play in a ‘historic’ way, with the ‘historic’ consequences for any of the decisions gamers make, whether they are ‘historic’ or not.

    In general I think if you really want to design a good simulation, do it on the computer. Hidden movement, no 200 foot general, no knowing the enemy strength down to the second decimal, cantankerous subordinates, simultaneous action – no IGOUGO or move one unit at a time, no “turn phases” – you simply can’t come anywhere near that with miniatures. Heck in a computer game you can have morale ranked from 1-100 if you want…and “charts” can be as complex as needed because the computer does all the work.

    Computers have their limits too, which is why the army, business and education don’t do all their simulating with computers. Hidden movement can be done on a game table as well as all those things you mention above.  Computers can portions of a simulation easier for the user and more of it than a player-administrated tabletop game, but easier and more isn’t the only definitions of a good simulation. Good simulations are ones that successfully mimic the parts of combat/history they were designed to simulate. Ease of use and more complexity are great things, but not the defining elements of a simulation.

    #8900
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    I suspect that there is a lot less jutification for lots of rules mechanisms than the rules writers would like you to think. I find it quite terrifying how little trustworthy data there is on lots of things even in supposedly recent and well-documented periods like ww2; once you get to ancients, the sources can often be eumerated on the fingers of one hand (see Phil Sabin’s excellent “Lost Battles” for how wargames can help understanding even when we are so light on data, though).

    It seems to me that it is very often necessary for the designer, even if he has a sound command of the available historical data, to just make things up. I am fine with this, but I would like to see designer’s notes declaring as much. Moreover, there does not seem to be much point in making finer distinctions in a wargame than commanders did historically.

    I certainly agree with this all.  Simulation designers always have to deal with the issues of too little information. It’s how they fill the gaps and why that count. Certainly, designers should identify what is history and what is made up.  That’s simply letting gamers know what history they are or not buying.

     

    #8903
    Avatar photoSpurious
    Participant

    One game that comes to mind that messes with a lot of the attempts at definition is Force on Force. It’s abstract all over the place, and yet it is attempting a degree of simulation, the abstraction is there to get around a mass of specifics through generalising in a way that seems appropriate. But it’s still very abstract, right down to it’s basic definitions of troop quality and firepower that the game revolves around.

    To get away from using the noun and verb, simulation and simulate, I used to use the term “represent” which seemed to go over well. I still take care to use “represent” because of all the negative connotations of the s-word.

    I like this. ‘Represent’ works well because a designer can reasonably claim that a system is supposed to represent a certain thing or aspects thereof. For a bit of a thought experiment,  compare the statements to see how you feel about it:

    Force on Force is a game that represents modern platoon level combat.

    Force on Force is a game that simulates modern platoon level combat.

    Whether it achieves it or not is up to you, but I feel the former statement fits better than the latter, if only for the ambiguity. Both really need (and not just for FoF) additional clarification about what exactly is actually being represented/simulated. Though that’s really the kind of stuff I like reading the developer notes of in a rules set rather than the blurb on the back trying to sell you it.

    It seems to me that it is very often necessary for the designer, even if he has a sound command of the available historical data, to just make things up. I am fine with this, but I would like to see designer’s notes declaring as much.

    And where there is the justification and clarification, it can be amazing the amount of thought put into it and resolving to categorize a thing. For example, there was a neat post in the A Fistful of TOWs yahoo group recently responding to a query about the oddity of the IS-2 having the same front armour as a T-34/85 (both rated as a 7 in the system). I’ll not post the whole wall of text that answered it, suffice to say it was a surprisingly complex issue that eventually had to be called in a certain way so that historical accounts of the IS-2 being defeated by certain German AT guns at range (rather than up  close as it could only be had it been rated higher) were met. The rating of 7 I guess could be taken as being a ‘high’ end of the bracket of 7 (like a 7.8) vs the low/middle end (maybe a 7.3) that a T-34/85 would be, but the system simply doesn’t account for the granularity of fractions like that. Which is a big thing with game design as a whole, where to sacrifice ‘accuracy’ (perceived or otherwise) for playability, and how that works into what the game is attempting to represent/simulate? Blimey that was a bit of a ramble, I better stop now before it gets worse…

    #8934
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    Force on Force is a game that represents modern platoon level combat.

    Force on Force is a game that simulates modern platoon level combat.

    Whether it achieves it or not is up to you, but I feel the former statement fits better than the latter, if only for the ambiguity. Both really need (and not just for FoF) additional clarification about what exactly is actually being represented/simulated. Though that’s really the kind of stuff I like reading the developer notes of in a rules set rather than the blurb on the back trying to sell you it.

    Well, that’s the issue, isn’t, that clarification.  What the heck does that mean when dealing with game mechanics. The who, what, when and why of exactly what is being represented.  The only reason  ‘represents’ fits better [into a predetermined slot] is because it is ambiguous and not carrying all the preconceived baggage of the word ‘simulation.’  However, the representation only works for the players if they know what it represents… hence the question about the ‘7’ with A Fistful of TOWs.  Often that is what ‘pops’ us out of the game [our pretending]. We hit a part of the game process that doesn’t make sense… we don’t know what it represents.  Either that or we guess… and have no idea if our guess is correct or not. I’ve seen that guessing game go wrong a lot.

    but the system simply doesn’t account for the granularity of fractions like that. Which is a big thing with game design as a whole, where to sacrifice ‘accuracy’ (perceived or otherwise) for playability, and how that works into what the game is attempting to represent/simulate?

    That granular aspect of simulation design [Argh, sorry…] wargame design representing historical combat is always present.  This is true of ANY simulation design.  I have used my friend the astrophysicist creating a computer simulation of galaxies colliding before as an example.  Instead of billions of stars, his representation consisted of a few thousand pixels.  Instead of an area involving millions of light years, he had a TV monitor.  And of course, the collisions weren’t done in real time, millions of years, but rather seconds all based on numbers flowing through very unreal silicon chips.  Really, really granular.  Even so, it did simulate what was targeted:  The way that galaxies behaved on a large scale when they collided.  He knew the simulation was correct when he found photos of galaxies with the same configurations as his simulations–much the same ‘matching’ process with history you describe with the Soviet tanks.

    Because a wargame can only represent so much, and it is often based on inadequate information and supposition,  what is being represented needs to be explicit or the designer’s work at representing is lost on the players.  I’ve seen lots and lots of examples of this over the years.

    #9158
    Avatar photoJohn D Salt
    Participant

    ’ve seen rules referred to as ‘crunchy’ if they had a lot of detail, which I quite like

    I’ve not heard it, but that’s good. And I imagine, on the model of peanut butter, that the opposite is “smooth”.

    One of the problems with many classification schemes is that they try to compress multi-dimensional variation into a few categories that miss out a lot of possibilities. Assuming that we are going to end up with a bunch of slider-scale classifiers for different attributes, I’d suggest that the key attributes are the ones wargamers already have words for.

    “Rigid” vs “Free”, “Deterministic” vs “Stochastic”, and “Complete information” vs “limited intelligence” already exist.

    In discussing games we liked with my wargames pals back in school days, we also used the following terms:

    “Crackable” (vs. “uncrackable”): whether or not the game lends itself to clearly-optimal play.

    “Savage” (vs. “un-savage”, strangely): how vicious the losses imposed by the combat results system are.

    “Wild” (vs. “tame”, I suppose): how subsject to extreme variation the combat results are.

    “Flavoursome” (vs. “whitebread”): how much specific period flavour was conveyed by the game, rather than being generic.

    My preference was generally for fairly crunchy, un-crackable, not-too-savage, not-too-wild games, and lots of my favourites were generic rather than flavoursome.

    All the best,

    John.

    #9175
    Avatar photoMcLaddie
    Participant

    John:

    Most hobbies, and for that matter most technical categories when it comes to genre are defined:

    • By designer goals [A simple game of catch vs a team sport; Role Playing Games vs Strategy Games,]
    • Purposes [What is the game used for, what’s the take-away [Yatzee vs Chess]
    • Materials used [Board Games vs Miniatures]

    Hobbies usually have all three types of categories.  It’s easy to identify them, from RC Airplanes to Knitting, Racquetball to Bridge

    Wargames are a game genre based on purpose, but within that you have different materials: Board, Miniatures, Computers, and Cards.

    Within the Miniatures genre, games are differentiated by:

    1. Scale   1:1  or 100:1  etc.

    2. Time Period or War or Imagi-nations or Fantasy and Science Fiction

    3. Organizational level  Squad or Battalion or Division  etc.

    4. Less Precise Game Purposes: For campaign play [large scale rules], tournament play [tight rules and point systems]

    Now to some extent all four categories identify the purpose of  a particular set of rules, and obviously those are questions gamers have in looking at them.  From there, the breakdown is about particular mechanisms, such as hidden movement, or a ‘bloody’ combat system or narrow or wide variations in results… which begs the question of why those different mechanisms were chosen to achieve the designer’s goals.

    Obviously, regardless of the rules set, entertainment is the designer’s goal, however there is a wide variety of fun to be had and no single rules set can provide all types of fun for all players, so this question would be moot.  For instance, Tiddly Winks is a simple game, but the rules run from very simple to tournament play with a rule book and judges, so the question of ‘what kind of Tiddly Winks you are playing isn’t moot, nor would anyone argue that any type of Tiddly-Winks play is as ‘good’ or the same as another.

    However, the questions on the thread haven’t revolved around any of those four issues above, but rather the ‘type’ of game play and historical representation provided by

    the rules.  Only the designer of the rules can state what the rules are created to do there.  Unfortunately, the problem is doesn’t help.  I can pick any two designers, one who states categorically the primary purpose is to provide a fun game, and the other the purpose is to create a historical simulation, but both will defend their designs as both fun and historically valid to the same degree… a measure that remains totally opaque. Even a game like Richard Borg’s Battle Cry system, which he called “Stylized History” is touted by GMT as “Conforming remarkably well” to period armies capabilities,  ‘effectively portraying epic battles’.   If  Command and Colors can do that, what possible differences in fun portraying warfare could Empire I-V offer other than details?  Yet, you and I know that Battle Cry and Empire were designed for very different reasons.

    So, how do other hobbies determine categories that everyone seems to accept?:  When the RC designers, the Knitting designers,  Racquetball and Bridge rules writers accept them.

    Best Regards,  McLaddie

     

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