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Are there many war games like this?

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Reading Tom Clancy books recently made me wonder if there is a genre of war games where you don't really ever see the battlefield, but have to rely on intelligence from your units out in the field to direct strategy. I suppose I'm thinking of a game which is to a typical RTS what Football Manager is to Fifa.

 

I know there are turn based games out there, or used to be, effectively board games played on the computer, but is what I describe a popular niche too? You'd maybe just have a map-based tactical display to work with and 3D static terrain maps to help you plan strategy, etc.

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Well the rainbow six games weren't turn based but there was a lot of pre planning and no real run and gun mechanics, you spent the better part of 80% of the game evaluating the area, sticking perescopes under doors etc and if you missed just one guy the whole level was hosed.

Is this the sort of thing you mean, military intelligence driven?

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Well, there's DEFCON (on Steam), where all you see is a 80s vector graphics projection of the world map. The idea of the game is that you're sitting in Cheyenne mountain (or the equivalent nuclear hardened bunker) and World War 3 has broken out, and you have to get nuclear assets positioned and launched, etc. I think that this fits your description. I haven't heard of many other games like that though. 

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I'm not aware of anything like that either. 

 

In any case, even if there is, it's rare enough that I'd start working on a prototype if I were excited about this idea. And in my opinion it sounds like a great idea! The player overlooks the strategic aspects of battlefields and the AI does the rest. Has an element of luck, and you maximize your odds by making good strategies and/or improving general stats, like gathering intel or simply training units etc.

 

OK, now I wanna play this. Get to work!  :P

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The AI does the rest?

Make sure the AI acts like real poeple, e.g. has a sense of self preservation.

Give it suicidal orders and watch as it potentially mutinies and runs away :lol:

 

Training makes a huge difference here... hardened vets compared to armed-militia novices etc. You could build this into the game so your troops are less likely to make mistakes or run away. Or even unlock better tactical awareness in AI squad leaders.


Well the rainbow six games weren't turn based but there was a lot of pre planning and no real run and gun mechanics, you spent the better part of 80% of the game evaluating the area, sticking perescopes under doors etc and if you missed just one guy the whole level was hosed.

Is this the sort of thing you mean, military intelligence driven?

 

 

(Just a shot in the dark here) but would XCOM 2 fit in the niche you're looking for? Considerably popular turn-based strategy game in recent times.

 

I guess sort of yes to both, but those are on a micro level and I'm thinking a macro level e.g. an entire battle-field covering a large land area with multiple engagements, surveillance, etc

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There's a couple of things like this -- the obvious one is the first two parts of "The Fourth Protocol". I'm sure I recall seeing a review of something 16-bit with a similar approach but it was some years back.

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I vaguely remember this sort of game play being more of a thing back in the DOS and older era of gaming. Different games like an air combat command game (That is totally slipping my mind as to a name) would put the player in a position that was more 'set back' from the action, and at a higher level command than what we see in later games.

 

The player ended up managing resources and directing [i]where[/i] missions happened, but the exact details on things typically were very glossed over. Sending out missions would generally uncover more information - New SAM sites locations would appear on the map, icons for interceptions by enemy fighters would appear, but you might not know which air base they were running out of, and you never had a complete picture of everything at any one time. Entire armies were moved around on the battlefield in a highly abstracted manner, but you as the player never saw more than things like missions to take out armoured columns, or sites where mobile SAM was setup. 

 

I think part of this being seen more decades ago is related to the computing and display power of the era, but it then fell out of favour with developers in the pursuit of flashier gameplay and more 'direct' user interaction. When you [i]couldn't[/i] give the user control over Supreme Commander sized armies and interaction, then a more 'stepped back' style strategy game made more sense than trying to do the impossible.

 

In a big way the simulation games of the era where heavily influenced by table top gaming more than it is today, and many designs really have the look and feel of "Well this would be awesome to play (as an extension of some existing boardgame concept), but it is just way too much math and tedious calculating/moving of things to do... What if we had a magic box that handled that stuff for us?" aspects. 

 

 

 

But I do agree that the idea of a high level command game that builds a slow but forceful strategy play rather than frenzied clicking 'in your face' up close action game play has a lot of appeal. Kind of a "Boxing match in slow-mo" sort of thing in a way. The hits are coming hard from either side, you have time to see them and think about how to respond, but you still need to plan well ahead of where you are now and what is going on or you'll never be in position to land the series of blows you need to take out your opponent. 

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I actually had a Space Opera styled MMO in mind that was heavily influenced by the idea of a near turn based fighting style to get around issues of lag and server load. Kind of abandoned the entire thing when life and reality kind of set in and I got swept away by actual paying work in other fields. Rather tempted to go back and revisit at least the fight system for it. Would have been focused around guards, attacks, and building energy. It is however terribly off topic for the most part. 

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A big challenge I can see to this idea might be how lo-fi or hi-fi to make the depiction. Likely you'd get a map of some sort, which could be very abstract and vector-based. Modern commanders are increasingly getting real-time feeds from helmet and gun cameras though, so if you kept that detail you may face all the downsides of rendering a 3d battlefield and none of the hand-on, visceral benefits (multiplied, I'd imagine, across however many drones, squad leaders, gunships etc. that would be on station).

 

The next factor would be audio, although you might get away with a library of callouts and background chatter.

 

Or you could go completely lo-fi and make it text-based, even procedurally generating text to match real-time battle situations. If the pace of movement was broken into real-time phases or the overall pace of real-time action was slow enough, I could see this working with text.

 

It would be a fascinating experience if you could get the trade-off right of getting players to identify with names units ("ok Patton's over here, Stormin' Norman's over there") they might come to personalize and indirectly care about versus limited resources (not everybody can get the air support they're begging for). 

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I think it would be great if you could employ the standard AI in games like C&C to do your bidding.

 

Such as "Build a small base over here and collect resources, spend 20% of the income on defense, save the rest" or "defend this passage".

 

Rather than being spammed with "unit lost, units under attack" it would be "area A is holding / requires reinforcements", "base complete, harvesting in progress" or "not enough funds to construct base"

 

I love strategy games but I really get annoyed when i am expected to make 500 commands per minute. For me, that isnt what strategy is about. It should be possible to ignore a sturdy battalion of units for 5 minutes and not have them replaced by a pile of bodies.

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A big challenge I can see to this idea might be how lo-fi or hi-fi to make the depiction. Likely you'd get a map of some sort, which could be very abstract and vector-based. Modern commanders are increasingly getting real-time feeds from helmet and gun cameras though, so if you kept that detail you may face all the downsides of rendering a 3d battlefield and none of the hand-on, visceral benefits (multiplied, I'd imagine, across however many drones, squad leaders, gunships etc. that would be on station).

 

The next factor would be audio, although you might get away with a library of callouts and background chatter.

 

Or you could go completely lo-fi and make it text-based, even procedurally generating text to match real-time battle situations. If the pace of movement was broken into real-time phases or the overall pace of real-time action was slow enough, I could see this working with text.

 

It would be a fascinating experience if you could get the trade-off right of getting players to identify with names units ("ok Patton's over here, Stormin' Norman's over there") they might come to personalize and indirectly care about versus limited resources (not everybody can get the air support they're begging for). 

 

Yeah. Being able to "see through the eyes" of any of your units would be on the one hand potentially really cool but also completely changes the dynamic. I think it would risk diluting the core concept if not done very carefully. Certainly it'd have to be done in a realistic way not a "God view" typical RTS style.

 

I think it would be great if you could employ the standard AI in games like C&C to do your bidding.

 

Such as "Build a small base over here and collect resources, spend 20% of the income on defense, save the rest" or "defend this passage".

 

Rather than being spammed with "unit lost, units under attack" it would be "area A is holding / requires reinforcements", "base complete, harvesting in progress" or "not enough funds to construct base"

 

I love strategy games but I really get annoyed when i am expected to make 500 commands per minute. For me, that isnt what strategy is about. It should be possible to ignore a sturdy battalion of units for 5 minutes and not have them replaced by a pile of bodies.

 

Amen to that! Clicks per minute is the one thing I hate about RTS games and the reason I suck at them competitively. I don't play multiplayer because what I like to do is nurture my base's growth and build up a big army.

 

I started working on an RTS years back - actually entered a very early version for 4E4 on this site - whose premise was a typical WarCraft II/C&C game but with just such ideas as you describe. Sadly it never got beyond the basic RTS engine - the only idea I implemented that was new was putting units in squadrons (10-12 IIRC) who could be commanded "guard this location" etc. I do keep thinking about it but I only have the code, no resources, and it was written against D3DX whereas now it'd have to use some engine like Ogre.

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Reading Tom Clancy books recently made me wonder if there is a genre of war games where you don't really ever see the battlefield, but have to rely on intelligence from your units out in the field to direct strategy. I suppose I'm thinking of a game which is to a typical RTS what Football Manager is to Fifa

 

i'm not familiar with football manager, so the analogy is lost on me.

 

but back in the day, about the time of wing commander 1 and 2, there were 2 versions of a tom clancy naval warfare game, very strategic.  there was a map of the atlantic, and you'd dispatch utnis to perform ops, and then it would display the results.

 

Harpoon...

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpoon_(video_game)

 

It was pretty popular.    #2  after wing commander 2 with the hard core crowd.  The arcade crowd was playing doom 1.  IE commander keen in 1st person view.

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