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About biz

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    silicon valley
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    strategy games, computer science
  1. Designer Notes 19: Louis Castle

    very nice episode i'm not sure what the podcast is truly about, but these stories of how older game software got made always ends up being pretty interesting to me even if i haven't played the games discussed
  2. Episode 359: Chess in 2016

    the problem with chess is that it basically requires time pressure to function as a game, so it ends up being more like a real-time game rather than a turn-based one modern strategy gaming really has evolved to the point where you'd make the same move no matter whether you had 1 minute or 1 hour to think about it, and chess feels like it hasn't figured out how to adapt. maybe if it was computer-assisted so that normal people could filter out bad lines without spending minutes brute-forcing all the possibilities, it could work. i'm not sure how that can be done without devolving to computers playing instead of the human players though
  3. Episode 355: Stellaris

    fanboy detected
  4. there could be more optimizations you can make, but even if you learn that stuff you still should just fast-forward until you get enough money to do anything. the game is just paced horribly and making any progress is pointlessly slow
  5. i worry that this game is too "boring" to appeal to normal gamers, but actual strategy gaming is so dead at the moment that I really hope this reaches whatever audience it can there needs to be something strategic on PC to play that isn't a card game or some poorly designed epic that requires 10+ hours to play
  6. Episode 355: Stellaris

    the resulting software was completely expected given paradox's history the problem is it was marketed as a 4x strategy game, but it misses the entire point of what makes a 4x game a strategy game instead of a simulation game 4x games are just competitive races to victory conditions that will be extremely boring if you aren't playing to win. that's not really a problem with the games, but rather a disconnect between what the game is actually about (racing & winning) and how people actually play it (casually non-competitively in single-player and never actually reaching the end) you invest 50 minerals to increase production by +2 per turn so that in 25 turns you start getting extra minerals, and you hope you can turn those extra minerals into something relevant to win the race. when stellaris copies all the same mechanics in an uncompetitive space empire simulator, it's just pointless. and when those mechanics aren't interesting, the pace of the game is ruined i'm sure it matters in competitive multiplayer, but i still think it's a fantasy that people actually want to play a 25-hour long multiplayer RTS, especially when the whole concept of planning (i.e. what defines strategy games) is basically non-existent with random tech trees and random events and random everything stellaris feels like a 4X for people who don't actually like 4X games. that's fine and the audience for that is huge, but people really need to come up with better terms for this stuff. i haven't gotten to the end of a game yet, but if the game needs 50 packages of DLC that shift the focus away from 4X stuff and turn it into space EU4, then why bother trying to attract the 4X crowd to begin with?
  7. a problem can be extremely difficulty and relatively easy at the same time if a computer could play checkers in the 80s, chess in the 90s, and go in the 2010s, maybe it can finally play RTS games in 2050 and 4X games by 2100
  8. the game is much better if you just play it the obvious way use lancers to kill tanks / mounted guns use snipers to snipe from afar use scouts to scout / grab forward positions use engineers to defuse mines / repair & restock i didn't use orders at all and found it to be extremely well-balanced for a single playthrough the trick with all these Japanese games is to avoid overleveling and making a supersquad. i think i finished the game with level 10 units maybe i got lucky with my progression being close to whatever the game was tuned for, but it was a nice change of pace to play a game that was appropriately challenging by design instead of relying on a bunch of difficulty sliders in the setup screen and letting the players figure it out
  9. this game is the enemy of planning (which is entirely what strategy is about), so it's hard for me to see this in a positive light as a strategy game roguelikes have a lot of the same "stuff happens to you" design, but at least they generally put mechanics ahead of the lore/theme so they work better when it comes to making informed decisions (as opposed to making uninformed decisions)
  10. i'm not saying there's a shortage of strategy games i'm saying there's a shortage of good popular online computer strategy games. lack of alternatives is one reason why some games (eg. hearthstone) get more popular than they would be otherwise starcraft 2 is full of people who don't really enjoy the game but might play it anyways for some time because there's literally nothing else. i'm not saying it's impossible to play other games in small communities (for example, I still play civ4 multiplayer to this day), but that's a far cry from being accessible or thriving. you need popularity for things like skill-based matchmaking or playing on settings you enjoy to work. and don't confuse dota with warcraft 3. those are action games with a RTS interface, not strategy games. civ5 and paradox games are the only non-starcraft products with a large enough audience to even attempt multiplayer, but for various reasons they fall short. i don't really mean to single them out for quality reasons, but they're examples picked for popularity reasons. even if you like the game's design, civ5's problem is simultaneous moves being a "who clicks first" minigame. the games are also too long and unstable. paradox makes sandboxes where you can do lots of things and sort of simulate history, and some people enjoy that ride. multiplayer basically needs "game-like" victory conditions with more fair starting conditions. and i don't know if those experiences would even be satisfying in the span of a couple hours instead of days. the last time I played EU, you couldn't even win or lose. i'm not sure how that lends itself to competitive play the problem with single player vs. AI is that it's rarely good enough to beat even mediocre players without massive amounts of cheating. once you learn the rules of a game, you basically win 100% of the time. RTS game AI can do a little bit better than turn-based games by being really fast & precise compared to humans, but there usually isn't any strategy mastermind behind that APM. i'm not going to derail the thread further by elaborating on that point RTS is struggling, but if you can find ways to have fun with it more power to you. i just miss the progress and advancement of the 1990s and early 2000s.
  11. RTS is really just a term for the interface of managing lots of units there's just a huge difference between management and strategy deciding what to do with resources is strategy. actually performing all the clicks to do those things is not. and the genre is not so great because there's way too much emphasis on the second part, and Blizzard is a major part of the problem there. the fact that the starcrafts 'won' and rise of nations 'lost' was basically the end of hope for the genre. ironically, that was largely due to the single player campaigns & cutscenes/storytelling, but the 'why' doesn't really matter if the genre (referring to strategy, not management) wants to thrive, it almost needs to get rid of the interface because it's always a giant barrier between the management part and the strategy part i don't know how that can happen without some far-future neuroscience tech, so it's probably better to just go turn-based the RTS campaigns are kind of different, but i don't know if 'save/reload until you figure out how to beat each level' really counts as strategy part of the reason Hearthstone was popular is that there just aren't many strategy games to play. I guess board games are probably popular somewhere, but i don't know how PC gamers really get into that. civ 5 was & is awful. paradox doesn't really make "games". everything else is way too unpopular for multiplayer. and i'm not going to get started on why all these devs are awful at making single player AI that actually works vs strategy gamers...
  12. XCOM: Enemy Within

    the game clearly presents an objective that the player is supposed to achieve from a strategy game discussion standpoint, this creates an optimization problem i agree that most players might not try to solve it, but the actual game (the objective the designers want the player to accomplish) involves almost nothing beyond mindless repetition
  13. Gaming for peace

    strategy is just the art of planning the most common form happens to be adversarial games, but it can be applied to any goal there are city-builders and tycoon games where the goal is to create 'order' it's not "gamers" who are likely to accomplish something in a non-accidental manner, but rather people who can formulate plans to achieve goals not all people who play "strategy games" know anything about planning or goals or optimization
  14. XCOM: Enemy Within

    those were designed to be easier though, but it looks like it'll have that basic idea basically anything to add even 1 or 2 decisions per hour will be better than "take 2 steps. overwatch. repeat for 20 hours" the thing is it doesn't look like this meld thing is even required. guess it's just about how well they balance it
  15. XCOM: Enemy Within

    from the sounds of it this one might actually be a strategy game might fix the original problem with the game - no strategy at all in the main gameplay portions