Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim . . .

It is three weeks into the campaign. After days of delicate maneuvering and pained diplomacy, you finally have your enemy in your crosshairs. Ever arrogant, they charge through your defenses - right where you want them! - and the trap SNAPS shut. Congratulations! Weeks of trench warfare have just paid off, and you can now blaze, godlike, towards glory and VICTORY!

This is every tactician's fantasy.

Grand strategy allows for thrilling drama - everyone loves to see a well thought out plan come to fruition. But how do wars of attrition actually play out on a digital battlefield like GXC?

After multis, a stalled game is probably the most damaging thing that can happen to team morale. To be fair, no game is ever really "stalled". Despite the seemingly static map, Commanders are always furiously working backstage to wrangle a satisfactory outcome for their team. There are, however, unfortunate consequences to this.

First comes the boredom. Troops energize less frequently. Compliance plummets.

Then comes the cabin fever. The chat rooms are stuffy and the tension is so taut it sets your teeth on edge. Previously likable teammates suddenly turn nasty. Even in the best run teams, impeachment polls begin popping up with alarming frequency. People become impatient and launch individual forays...just for the lolz. But then they get spy polled. And then they get pissed. Loudly.

Pretty soon the kids are spending fifteen hours in bed rereading Animorphs, Marge won't get off the phone, the Swedish exchange student runs up a credit card bill large enough to fund a small military coup and the cats won't quit keeping you up at night and it's all MADNESS. The MADNESS never stops. IT JUST NEVER STOPS!!

. . . these things happen.

It's also impossible to assign blame, because Commanders really do believe they are acting in the best interest of their teams when they play it slow. Players, however, also cannot be faulted for expecting a bit more ACTION. The game, after all, is meant to be FUN.

Perhaps it is enough that Commanders simply keep in mind that even the most brilliant strategies might backfire if they take too long to effect.

Anyone have any ideas how to prevent games from stalling, or at least make the slow moments more bearable? I know a guy with a banjo...


Anonymous said...

We tried crazy random theme days where we would bug the other teams over in Star Wars Ewoks, I'd say it was pretty successful. At the very least, it made the Christmas break more fun! I'm running low on theme day ideas though...

Anonymous said...

It also made every team in the game hate you, but Im sure that won't come back to bit you in the ass.

Anonymous said...

I hate Ewoks.

Anonymous said...

Really, is that why Jedi started doing it too, and other teams were asking us for it to be their day?

Mark said...

You're all about to hate the Ewoks a lot more because my theme days are much more cynical.

Like life day! When we celebrate the Star Wars Holiday Special!

Anonymous said...

suggest adding more strategic elements into battle plans to allow risky energy build things- take the risk, perhaps gain that energy advantage you desperately need! (Shields do this already). Other ideas? I see currently alliances doing terr swaps to get the additional energy bonus and using days and days of boring time to accomplish this goal- but if there were shorter-term elements to accomplish this, the games would be more dynamic with less waiting.

Perhaps additional energy bonuses for total # of territories, in multiple increments? 8, 12, 14, ...?

Perhaps, gain the player defeated instead of bouncing them back? (Optional rule)

Perhaps, movable energy-bonus features that can move to strategic terr based on some set of rules? (hidden or visible to the world might be an optional game setting)

Perhaps, each team has a certain number of "fake" assets, just like real battles can do, that can be moved and changed and hidden based on optional rules? (But can't battle or defend, just trick the other commanders). Maybe able to be destroyed, stolen, discovered in some fashion?

Lots of ideas to make the slow parts of the games more exciting!

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