A better version of PON is available

Posted: November 22, 2012 in Wargaming

here, for 5 $:

 

http://www.gog.com/gamecard/imperialism

 

I could make mine this comment, comparing Imperialism to Paradox production, that may be extended to other current games :

 

Every time I play it, I wish we could pass legislation requiring all game designers to study it. 

1.  The interface is clean and everything is interconnected.

2.  You research something, you get to build it.  You build it, it produces tangible product.  If you build a lumber mill, it’s so much more satisfying to get wood instead of a 0.000375% increase in some hidden production value.  (I wish the Paradox guys had been awake during Imperialism class.)     

2.  The game elements are simple but challenging:  six or so commodities, two of this makes one of that, and Worker A needs this food and Work B that food.  Simple.  But really hard to fulfill over the course of game – just when you’re ready to take off, some critical shortage always creeps up on you.  (Compare to Paradox games.  In EUIII, for example, is there a single commodity that you really NEED?  Apart from tiny, largely invisible increases in income, why trade at all?)   

3.  Same with the transport system.  Developed a nice gold mine overseas?  Great, now all you have to do is transport the gold back home.  But, wait, you need those same ships for trade.  Or that grand invasion you’ve been planning.  You suddenly need more ships, which means you suddenly need more cloth, which means you suddenly need more cotton….which is also overseas, which means you need more ships….  (Again, I’m talking to you, Paradox.  A game mechanic, if well conceived, can be very simple and still very challenging.)

4.  I even like the combat (though I may be in the minority on this).  Each unit plays a specific role.  Tactics actually matter.  And I get to do it myself.  (Instead of just watching sprites stand on the map stabbing each other (for weeks!).  Another Paradox staple.)

5.  Finally, turned-based beats RTS for strategy games.  (RTS, with its emphasis on speed over thought, is too often just camouflage for a weak AI.)

My own view is that Paradox has taken us about as far as we can go in the spreadsheet as game genre.  Here’s hoping we can press the reset button a bit and revisit the elements that made games great in the beginning, before mega-computers spawned game bloat, when game designers had to search for elegant abstractions.  That may be the best impact of the mobile platform.  (I actually think CK2 is an improvement on the typical Paradox model, though they seem intent on adding yet more layers of questionable complexity with each DLC.)

Thanks.  I needed to say this.  I feel better now.   ;)

Comments
  1. berto says:

    After 10 years of purchasing but never really playing Paradox games, I recently, truly, definitively, irretrievably quit, Quit, QUIT!

    “Spreadsheet as game”, “0.000375% increase in some hidden production value”, etc. True, true.

    Abstractedly abstracted abstractions.

    History as an exercise in bean counting. Soulless. Mechanistic. Boring.

    The last straw was their recently announced CK2 Aztec Invasion fantasy DLC. (Yes, yes, I know it’s optional.) But it reveals their fundamental lack of seriousness. What’s next? Orcs and elves, perhaps a Space Invaders DLC? PI is less about historical simulation, more about sandbox popular entertainment. Nothing wrong with that. For some people, for many people. But not for me.

    I’m outta there!

    • Clovis says:

      Now I’ve decided to place blockhouse in SVF 2.0, my first 2 concerns as developper are:

      – how to limit micromanagement?
      – how to allow the AI to play seriously this new feature?

      Having a bright idea is easy. Having a bright historical idea is yet easy. Having an idea fitting well with gameplay and AI is hard. IMHO complexity is often a mask for a lack of talent in design. Going through details is time consuming, but it doesn’t need any in depth reflexion about key points.

      Commander WW1 has some big abstraction but once you have read the manual, you know designers and developpers have devoted a large place to packall the primary features in a system as simple as possible. Beyond some abstractions, like the one unit only per hex, all you ‘re expecting in a WW1 game is present.

      In AGE, it’s easy to fall into the MORE way: regional decisions by example may be multiplied almost at will. But, in the end, what matters is their role in the game: too much with to few effects will end with no player use.

      • Baris says:

        Crusader kings 2 definitely a very good game. Being real time just doesn’t hamper playability say like HOI. Even though it is the finest game of Paradox , I can not play continuously both CK 2 and EU3 like I used to. I return time to time after patches and such but I can not stop thinking these games just a fantasy history and the AI adequate only for limited entertainment.(I don’t think there are many multiplay commnity playing)Though it is sometimes fun to how watch AI nations shape nations history.

        I have played Slitherine games before such as Panzer corps. Played both versus AI and server games and I can say it is what it is called beer,French Fries games.
        I think Commander WW1 use the same engine with Panzer corps I hope it has better AI. But I don’t know game is developed by the same team. It is early to say but I think this review is spot on.

        http://www.daveenjoys.com/2012/11/19/game-comparison-review-commander-the-great-war-and-strategic-command-world-war-i/

        Especially about events,AI and design I think strategic command ww1 is excellent simulating ww1 for more hardcore gamers.

        İmperialism was an excellent game.

  2. Alex says:

    CK2 most likely will be the last Paradox title I play from the outset

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