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 Post subject: Everyone agrees this game is incredible. Now where are they?
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 2:44 am 
Most of the people I've seen post on the forums have been hard core TBS players, and I didn't even know this niche genre existed at such a scale. Sure, I've played my share of hex-based war games, but by and large I'm new to the nuances of this type of gameplay.

Massive Assault gives me some things I have never seen before in any game. The interface is incredibly simple to learn, but I would bet this game is almost as deep in strategy as chess. When to disclose your allies, what units you pick to build, when you decide to risk guerrilla forces, etc etc, the mind-peeling never ends, and I love it.

I remember specifically one scenario where you basically have three fronts the enemy is attacking you at, and each front needed an entirely different strategy to come out on top. I chose one front to focus my strongest units, so I could break through and take an enemy territory. The second was my holding action, only using enough units to keep the enemy at bay. The final front was a fighting retreat as the AI overwhelmed me. Yet when all the dust was clear, I had a single rocket launcher left, a pile of scrapped enemies all around. Victory sure was sweet.

So now I come to my point. This game has something for anyone with any strategic sense to them. You need both tactical and strategic expertise, the game has great eye candy, a rock solid AI (most of the time), and a draw that pulls you into the middle of the action. All the reviewers seem to agree. Being a game developer myself, I know that there is no easy formula to make a game fun, but somehow massive assault has perfected this in a way I have never seen in a game of its type. But where is everybody?

After getting through the scenarios I went online, and found there are only 20 some odd active players in the United States, and 50 in the world. I know there are thousands of other people that would love and breathe this game if they knew it was out there. I can think of at least 8 of my friends that would.

Well, I guess that's where I'll start. This game deserves to be spread around. It deserves to take over and redefine a genre with some of its unique ideas. It deserves a book named "Massive Assault for Dummies" available in every corner drug store.

See you online! Bring your friends!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 4:04 am 
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:cry: bah, I wish I could go online, although it's rather hard to go online with out the CD-key... and hard to get it when you've imported the game. and the third speed break, a company internet line that is so stashed up with firewalls and protective programs I can't any given games online. >_< even Warcraft can't get through those firewall....

I'll have to do with the single-player part for now... until I move to a place of my own.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 10:01 am 
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thunderbolt playing other poeple is the best part. AI is good but people will always be more fun.

it def wouldn't hurt to advertise.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 11:51 am 
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I'm not sure that advertising is the problem. The fact that Massive Assault got reviewed by many of the most popular sites alone should give it good exposure.

Perhaps the fact that the game market is flooded by games that just give an old game a new interface has something to do with it. Maybe people have learned to expect that, and people are scared to put the money forward to try something new. Maybe they think a game can't be good if it doesn't follow a set pattern. If that is true, it'll be rare to see imaginative games in the future as developers have to give the people what they want.

I knew from the first time I heard about this game I wanted to give it a try. And the shining reviews it got only furthered my appetite, but when it came time to find it I had a difficult time. I actually reserved a copy at Gamestop, but found out later they decided not to stock it after the fact. So the only way to order it was online. Finally, a month after its release, I got my copy.

I'm glad I finally did. It has been worth every bit of the wait.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 13, 2003 2:42 pm 
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Thunderbolt_A wrote:
:cry: bah, I wish I could go online, although it's rather hard to go online with out the CD-key... and hard to get it when you've imported the game.


:-)

What do you mean by "imported"?

:wink:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 6:28 am 
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Greetings Maelstorm! :D

Thanks for nice feedback on Massive Assault!

Besides the reasons you already mentioned in your post (i.e. people are reluctant to buy new titles from new-comers like Wargaming.Net, the market is flooded by clones of other strategy games) there're some more factors yet to be mentioned.

At first, many people are hesitating to play online since they feel themselves like newbies (which is certainly true), so they don't like to get beaten by stronger opponents. On average, only 10% are trying to play multiplayer and only 2% becomes active members of online gaming society.

At second, LOTS of people would like to get the Demo prior to purchasing the game and that's what Massive Assault is lacking now. Fortunately, we're planning to release it soon and hopefully we will see more people playing online :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 9:27 am 
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Vic: You know, imported from another country :x sometimes, Norway can be a bit on the slow side getting the new games. So I imported a neat looking game (this game) from EBgames. Which I believe is located in.. the USA?

And that's what I meant :P


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2003 9:44 am 
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You should not have any problem with activation code and online play with any non-pirated version, no matter it is imported or not...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 8:08 am 
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Nick_WN wrote:
Quote:
At first, many people are hesitating to play online since they feel themselves like newbies (which is certainly true), so they don't like to get beaten by stronger opponents. On average, only 10% are trying to play multiplayer and only 2% becomes active members of online gaming society.


That totally makes sense. I was the same way... I didn't want to even attempt to play someone online until I played through the scenarios and a few world wars. Of course, I couldn't put this game down so it didn't take me too long :D

On another note, I have a couple ideas that might improve the online play. I used to play a browser-based game online called Stellar Crisis, one of the few other pure strategy games I've played. It incorporated some of these ideas.

1- I think it would be nice to have some kind of blitz type multiplayer mode. You would have only so many minutes to finish your turn. That way we can sit down and play a game and know we'll be done in a few hours. Or if we can't play it all at once, have a way to set another time to start the clock again and continue. I suppose that with good communication between players this wouldn't be necessary.

2 - This shouldn't take quite as much work since it is all web-page based... How about having some kind of ranking system or additional stats? Right now theres a number of total wins for a player, but that doesn't necessarily show how good a player is. That shows more how many games that player can juggle at one time, or how much free time they have :). They could be playing 20 games at a time, only win 5 of them, and still be listed as the player with the most wins. A win/loss ratio would be nice.

3 - You can go further and use a bridier ranking system, or a standard chess rating system - when you win you get so many rank points, and those points are affected by how tough an opponent you beat. For example, an experience player might have a rank of 1500, and a newbie 1000. If the experienced player wins, he'd only gain a few points of rank, while if the newbie wins he'd get a lot more, based on the difference between their ranks.

With these in place, you could choose your opponents with more care. If you feel like you want to have a chance at winning a game, you would challenge someone with equal rank. If you would love to be humbled, or would like to see a master in action, challenge a top-ranked player.

Anyone have comments on these ideas?

One more question for the devs... any plans in the future for allowing more players in a game?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:00 am 
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Some comments:

The ranking system actually works as you've described. Number of wins is an additional parameter that doesn't affect your rank.

Multiplayer - the main problem here is the length of the game.
Example: assume there are 4 players. To prevent unit collisions they'll do thier turns one by one. That reduces the speed of a game. And if we add 16 more players it would take more than a week to complete the first turn!
And if someone drops?

So the problems are:
1) time
2) dropping players

We can ignore the second, but we have to deal with the first somehow... any ideas?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 9:16 am 
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There is an idea in development:

We can always forget about current "tabletop" rules and implement the idea of orders and action phase.

The examples:
Stars! (VGA Planets)
UFO3
Combat Mission
Laser Squad:Nemessis


But it will be another kind of game....


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 Post subject: btw UFO-Aftermath suxxxxx
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 1:20 pm 
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implementing real-time control with pause was bad mistake


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 2:51 pm 
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No, the tabletop type rules are very integrated into the balance of this game. Stellar Crisis was different in the fact that everone did their turns simultaneously, and then the map was updated all at once. That strategy definately would not work with Massive Assault without destroying its sensitive balance.

Also, with the current setup, there are a couple traits that make turns long. When you start your turn, you have to check out the current situation and see what nastiness your oppenent has pulled off. You have to examine how to best fend off or chase down your enemy, then begin moving your units. That takes some time, as you attempt to direct your units to do the most effective damage. After that, you need to decide how to spend your money and which allies to disclose. All of that can be very time consuming, and makes it difficult to make a timed game work.

There is another way, however. Here's a proposal:
How about adding a game mode which acts differently: Instead of each player sending their move, then waiting for the opponent to be finished, they can stay in the map and watch the opponent.

That way they can plan their turn's strategy ahead of time, and monitor the progress of their opponent to see how long it will take before their turn. This saves a lot of time, as the watching player will have time to plan their overall strategy for the next turn. It also saves time in the fact that in the current setup you won't know when a opponent is done until you check your email or update from the server. Since I use web mail, and don't automatically see a notification when an opponent is done, sometimes it takes 5-10 minutes before I see that I have turns waiting. At least the game can be windowed, that is a great help :).

Right now, with each player's turn taking around 10 minutes, and adding in the wait time in between, it can take 30+ minutes per full game round even if both players are currently online.

If this proposal was followed, each turn would only take like 15 minutes, as the players can plan most of their moves as they watch what their opponent does. This is if both players are being methodical. If both players are veterans, and are trying to get a quick game in, they can cut the turn time even more. So at this point we could put in a turn clock if the players desire. If they want a quick game, they can set the turn clock low. Sure, they'll make mistakes, but some people would prefer that if they can have a shorter game. Example: Chess. If you've played online at all, you've probably noticed that some people like to set a game clock as low as one minute. That leads to very interesting games :).

In addition to a turn clock, there could also be a game clock as well. I can't think of an easy way off the top of my head to keep that fair though... I'll give it some thought.

The problem with setting turn clocks is how to enforce it. Do you set a specific time for each phase? How do we penalize a player if they're taking too long? If they just lose their turn, that might be too much. Losing one turn in Massive Assault probably would kill you.

All right, this could solve the time issue with multiplayer games, but what about dropped players?

Here's a possible solution for that:
How about having a list of currently open games. They would have the information about the players involved and the game settings. Then people can hop into any game they want. If you have players leaving, someone else can hop in their place. You'd have to penalize people for leaving somehow, though, because some people might just leave a game if they are doing too poorly. (I bet that happens with the current setup too).

These ideas might even make a multiplayer version almost palpable! Ok, maybe not 16 players :P

Heh, I've written a book. You asked for the ideas though! I know these ideas would probably take a lot of work to get in. I think they could make the game appeal more to the masses... See how many people play online chess, I'm sure a big chunk of those people would like this game if they only knew about it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 3:18 pm 
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The time problem is a bit different...

assume we have 4 players from 2 parts of the world. Lets say that first and third player leave in USA and 2nd and 4th in Europe.

the game timing
1) player 1 makes his turn
2) waiting for player 2 to wake up in the morning
3) player 2 makes his turn
4) waiting for player 3 to wake up in the morning
5) player 3 makes his turn
6) waiting for player 4 to wake up in the morning
7) player 4 makes his turn
8) waiting for player 1 to wake up in the morning

Two days passed, 1 turn made...

We can't force players to be online several hours a day simultaneously to keep the game rolling. We have to find an idea that still requires only 10 minutes per day anytime you have them.

The ability to see the game situation while waiting for a turn is planned for patch2.

The in-game timer is possble, we may implement it in patch2

patch1 is almost ready... the AI was tested and now we have lots of replays where AI plays against AI on different maps. It take 5-7 minutes on 2Ghz PC to generate 1 repalay with average turn count of 30*2=60




thank you for ideas...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:17 pm 
I didn't mean to say that we would limit the current game style. And yes, the current game style makes multiplayer games too unwieldy. What I was proposing was an entirely different gamestyle that would be in addition to the current type.

The current style can be likened to a long term game, where each player only takes a few minutes per day to keep going. The type I was proposing would be more of a blitz, where the idea is that people can sit through and play a game in one sitting. So for a player to want to start such a game, they should be free for the next couple hours.

A two player game may be played through pretty quick (maybe 2-3 hours, thats how much sitting time it takes for me to play a small map against the computer), but I admit that more players than that would greatly increase the time needed, and may not be worth it. Its a nice dream though... Imagine the already deep strategy of Massive Assault complicated by having 4 players wheeling and dealing :)

Now if there was a limited number of turns, that might make for even a quicker game. You go for 20 turns, and whoever has the highest ratio when its over, wins. You could also lower the amount of revenue turns you can get from a new country.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 5:23 pm 
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Whoops, I got logged out somehow. I was Guest


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:00 pm 
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So the discussian becomes more and more theoretical :)

IMO: If I have 2-3 hours to spare I'd rather play Warcraft or Starcraft. The second one also has deterministic damage dealing system (with some minor random factor of height). BTW after playing Massive Assault for 1 year I've started to comprehend the strategy and tactics (as well as feints and errors) I see in SC online matches.

What concerns the improvement, discussed above(more than 2 players),.. I guarantee that we'll carefully consider them while planning MA2. MA1 internal structure was designed around 2 player concept and can't be easily changed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 15, 2003 6:34 pm 
Sky Keeper wrote:
The time problem is a bit different...

assume we have 4 players from 2 parts of the world. Lets say that first and third player leave in USA and 2nd and 4th in Europe.

the game timing
1) player 1 makes his turn
2) waiting for player 2 to wake up in the morning
3) player 2 makes his turn
4) waiting for player 3 to wake up in the morning
5) player 3 makes his turn
6) waiting for player 4 to wake up in the morning
7) player 4 makes his turn
8) waiting for player 1 to wake up in the morning

Two days passed, 1 turn made...


My vote goes to *Forget about more than 2 players*. MA is perfect as it is. Chess for 3 is just silly. :lol:

This is the best turn-based strategy game Iґve played in years. :D Everything oozes perfection, from unit balance to maps to the wonderful graphics.

There are a very few improvements that would make MA even better:

1) An additional planet or two, ideally somewhat more asymmetrical ones, like New Paradise.

2) Ai should use more variance in building; it should build Battleships on water maps, and should make use of transports.

3) An optional timer clock, as has already been mentioned.

4) A solution for drops. Currently it is hard to collect wins, because there are mostly two kinds of people online: the guys who vanish when they are losing, and the designers of the game, who always win. :lol: (Of course there are exceptions, but you get my drift.) I think you should get credited with a win, if the other person doesnґt show up for 15 days (or 30, or whatever).

Anyways, thanks for making a truly wonderful game! :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 12:05 pm 
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Coffeedragon wrote:
two kinds of people online: the guys who vanish when they are losing, and the designers of the game, who always win.

ROFL :D
true about designers...but there are honest players who surrender when seeing no chance to win.me for example.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2003 4:03 pm 
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I surrender allot aswell.


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