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Trout

Newb comments on SB

29 posts in this topic

Hi,

I’m a new customer for SB and I just wanted to say that I think this is a fantastic sim. I was always a fan of the old Microprose military sims (like tank platoon), but its been years since I’ve had that kind of enjoyment from an offline sim.

One issue I have, however, is that without a dynamic or scripted campaign, you really have to rely on scenarios other people make. I find the rating system pretty useless and there are too many missions that are either too complex, or contain some sort of element that makes it less enjoyable.

I saw the same problem with Dangerous Waters, which is an outstanding naval sim that has a limited appeal. Its just too much bother to find missions that are enjoyable.

I think that even though the developers don’t want get into producing content, what they really should do is set up a mechanism for rating and describing other peoples missions. They could even set up a campaign description and get volunteers to fill in the missions.

Perhaps they could put together a committee of volunteers who could rate the missions and write a short 1 para review?

Either way, they should get involved somehow in ensuring that customers, especially new ones, have an easier time finding the right missions.

Trout

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Hi Ya Trout!

Just hang in there for in a few months and a campain will be coming your way. You should read up on 1ST Clash for whats coming to a PC near you.

Counterstroke will be as good if not better than 1st Clash, so hang on, and get to the range for some gunnery pratice.

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One issue I have, however, is that without a dynamic or scripted campaign, you really have to rely on scenarios other people make. I find the rating system pretty useless and there are too many missions that are either too complex, or contain some sort of element that makes it less enjoyable.

...

I think that even though the developers don’t want get into producing content, what they really should do is set up a mechanism for rating and describing other peoples missions.

The idea has merit but is based on the wrong assumption that people really would comment on scenarios and rate them. They don't. It is obviously that everybody would profit if each user would rate just his ten most loved and ten least liked scenarios - but usually it's cricket music whenever a scenario designer uploads his scenario or asks for feedback in the scenario design forum.

If at all, what this community could really use is a group of five professional, regular critics.

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If at all, what this community could really use is a group of five professional, regular critics.
Second, though some manner of objective criteria would needs must be established. Different people like to play different things; a scenario that would be rated should be rated accordingly.

As regards dynamic campaigning; I used to think that this game needed one, but the fact that it can be played on-line does largely for what I would have wanted from a DC. Too, the on-line aspect is both a lot more fun and a lot more interesting.

Shot

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What I meant was, the DEVELOPERS must do this, since clearly the player community has not. In the end you guys suffer for it because customers cant sort out the fun missions from the not-so-fun ones.

Maybe you guys dont have time to do this, but you could certainly appoint a committee of volunteers. When you look at the number of downloads it is clear that there are lots of people out there playing these missions. So just put a formal mechanism in place for proper peer review.

The idea has merit but is based on the wrong assumption that people really would comment on scenarios and rate them. They don't. It is obviously that everybody would profit if each user would rate just his ten most loved and ten least liked scenarios - but usually it's cricket music whenever a scenario designer uploads his scenario or asks for feedback in the scenario design forum.

If at all, what this community could really use is a group of five professional, regular critics.

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What I meant was, the DEVELOPERS must do this, since clearly the player community has not. In the end you guys suffer for it because customers cant sort out the fun missions from the not-so-fun ones.

Maybe you guys dont have time to do this, but you could certainly appoint a committee of volunteers. When you look at the number of downloads it is clear that there are lots of people out there playing these missions. So just put a formal mechanism in place for proper peer review.

I'm a firm believer in the principle that he who makes a suggestion should also be to one to carry it out (or to direct the effort).

Who's going to help Trout to form a board of critics?

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I've tried to make it a point to rate every scenario I've downloaded... I've just not managed to get to all of them yet. It is a bit depressing to see maybe five ratings and only one commented review when a mission has been downloaded 140 times. That's on us as a community. We can complain about it, but only we can fix it.

NTM

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Second, though some manner of objective criteria would needs must be established. Different people like to play different things; a scenario that would be rated should be rated accordingly.

As regards dynamic campaigning; I used to think that this game needed one, but the fact that it can be played on-line does largely for what I would have wanted from a DC. Too, the on-line aspect is both a lot more fun and a lot more interesting.

Shot

Well, the best of both worlds is a dynamic campaign that can be played on line as in Falcon 4.0.

The way on line play is now, the style of play (it's always gaming versus simulating, isn't it? :)) depends pretty much on the host and the missions that are chosen. With the possible exception of ARRC, I don't know of any virtual units that strive for realism in on line play.

On or off line, a campaign (even linear campaigns) tell an ongoing story that, if it's a good campaign, keeps you coming back for more.

I would like to see a good campaign. I may have to take Ssnake's suggestion and write one. :)

As to critiques of missions: Yes, everyone has different criteria. For example, I don't care for head-to-head missions, so it's unlikely one would ever get a high grade from me. The gamers want "balanced" sides. The simmers want realistic force ratios. Can't please everyone, it's true.

But from the standpoint of a mission writer, I would appreciate feedback, even if it's negative. Every player approaches a mission differently and often in ways that never dawned on me when I wrote the mission. Often there are flaws that I can easily correct and put up an updated version. But I have to be told about them.

The lack of feedback has been discussed here several times. My view is, if you don't want to state your opinion in public, send me a PM.

But, please, Trout, don't ever say the word "committee" in polite company. Next, you'll be wanting "Focus Groups" and "Mission Statements." :)

And, by the way...welcome to the asylum.

HT

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Also take into account player and mission design ability.

Depending on the skill level of the different players, a mission could be rated too easy or too hard depending on who has played it.

I think a large part of mission designers not getting feedback is the lack of experience in general that the community has with scenario design. Sure, I can drop down a few units on a map and get them to run around with some success, but anything more advanced, well that's beyond my grap for the moment. So when I see a large, complex scenario, how do I critique it? Sure, if there's a very obvious design flaw that sticks out I can comment on it, but anything else I just wouldn't know the difference.

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In regards to feedback, when we play online the majority of the people make no comment whatsoever on the scenario they just played. I always try to give a comment but the majority just simply show up, expect to play an awesome scenario, and then they disappear when it is done without a single comment of constructive criticism. Or, even better, you spend over four hours to make something and you get the always helpful and specific comment "this sucks" LOL.

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Who's going to help Trout to form a board of critics?
Sure, I'll hop aboard. Do we get to set the rules?

Shot

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Truth to be told, I don't really see the NEED for standardized criteria. If a critic provokes others to tell their different opinion we get exactly what's needed for someone who needs to make a decision if he will like a potential download.

Of course, you could give it a try. IMO a perfect review would have a look at

  • The level of responsibility to be taken by the player
    Gunner's seat, commander's seat, one platoon, several platoons, company team, SACEUR. Homogenous force, or combined arms mix
  • The amount of planning required from the player
    None - adjusting an existing but flawed/rudimentary plan - developing one from scratch
  • Immersion
    Orchestrated neighbors or not, proper mission briefing
  • Speaking of it - the mission briefing
    Does it contain a story line (is it any good?), is it complete, does it give a comprehensive description of the desired course of action and the mission goals
  • Scoring
    Does it reflect the mission goals - be they described in the mission briefing or updated by later events in the mission
  • Is the mission playable from both Red and Blue side
  • Force composition
    Fantasy hodge-podge or realistic selection of equipment for each side
  • Recommended mods to use
  • The fun factor
  • Originality and replay value
  • Version number that was tested, and suggestions for improvements

Be subjective, but describe what you were looking for and if you found it. Nobody wants to read critique that just says that everything was roses. Point out the strengthes and the weaknesses. Our mission designers will learn from this critique, and make even better scenarios in the future.

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Some missions are just for fun. So be it.

Some missions would like to illustrate/demonstrate certain tactical precepts. So be it.

Some might compare one weapons' system against another. You get the idea.

If there's to be a critic's circle then there should be some criteria (preferably objective) against which missions are judged. If nothing else, a corpus of such would let the panel make its decisions against such, rather than tossing out the complete-unhelpful 'Phew, this mission stinks' ruling and leaving it at that.

Knowing where you went wrong, if you went wrong, would be a lot more helpful and would lend some legitimacy to a reviewing panel. Establishing criteria would help the panel reach a constructive evaluation, and one imagines would do so within the confines of what the mission was trying to accomplish.

That, in my opinion, is why we'd want to have standardized criteria. How do you tell someone that the mission is good or bad (without resorting to 'Phew, it stinks') without them?

Shot

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Establishing criteria would help the panel reach a constructive evaluation, and one imagines would do so within the confines of what the mission was trying to accomplish.

You would definitely need to get the designer's "intent" in order to assess whether or not he met his intended aim. For example, I threw together a quick scenario for practicing with the engineering equipment. Certainly not a viable Co-op/H2H mission, but it provided a means with which to play around with the Biber/Mine plow/MICLIC etc. Goal achieved, but if anyone was looking for a realistic scenario, they would have been greatly disappointed.

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That, in my opinion, is why we'd want to have standardized criteria. How do you tell someone that the mission is good or bad (without resorting to 'Phew, it stinks') without them?

Shot

Okay, Shot, so what "standardized criteria" would you use?

I know what I would use, for my critiques, but the list probably would be different from yours.

And how do you weight the various criteria?

For example, very high on my list would be: "Does it have a realistic, doctrinally correct Op Order?"

The answer in almost every mission I've seen in SB is no.

Can you quantify that?

Is it a 10 percent good Op Order or a 30 percent good Op Order or a 90 percent good Op Order? How do you reach the percentages? What must it include to be 100 percent good?

What is the standardized standard? The correct five paragraphs? A properly worded mission (Para. 2)? Including attachments and detachments? Providing commander's intent?

So, if the Op Order flunks, does the whole mission flunk?

How about unit organization? Are the units in the mission doctrinally correct, mostly doctrinally correct, a little bit doctrinally correct or completely incorrect? Define "correct." Define "mostly" and "a little bit." Is there a sliding scale or just "go" and "no go"?

Okay, let's say the Op Order sucks and gets zero percent.

But the unit organizations are right out of the field manual! That's 100 percent!

Do we just add zero and 100 and divide by two? Or is one weighted more important than the other?

And if it is an unweighted average, is 50 percent a passing grade?

Sorry, but I would prefer a subjective narrative: "Your Op Order was pathetic (and here's why) (and here's where you learn to write one) but you had your battalion task force organized perfectly."

That's based on MY criteria (well, actually, the US Army's criteria for writing Op Orders and task organizing units), not some standardized silliness agreed on by a consensus. Consensus (or a committee) means no one is taking charge of the helm and the ship is adrift while the crew is all below decks contemplating their navels. (You still hanging around the 1st US Volunteer Consensus? Talk about adrift....).

And depending on whether the mission writer values my opinion or not, he can take it or leave it. As I often note, my opinion is free and worth exactly what you are paying for it :)

Everybody's score card is going to be different. Which is why the world has more than one movie reviewer. Does Roger Ebert use the same standardized criteria as every other movie reviewer? I think not.

Really, we don't need a Focus Group or a "critics' circle" or a "panel" (who decides who is on the panel?). And we don't need standardized criteria (because there is no way to quantify subjective conclusions).

Just people willing to give their individual unstandardized opinions. :)

HT

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I don't think we need opinions. They're like assholes ... everyone's got one.

Forget trying to grade a scenerio as 'good' or 'bad.' It's all subjective, and unless I know you well, it means squat to me whether you like something or not.

What's needed is something along the lines of the review Ssnake outlines. A comprehensive assessment of what is present in the .sce, what is required of you, whether it works as planned ... things of that nature.

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Okay, Shot, so what "standardized criteria" would you use?

I know what I would use, for my critiques, but the list probably would be different from yours.

And how do you weight the various criteria?

Thank you. I was thinking that I'd have to come up with some, and I wasn't looking forward to it.

You're right, my list would differ from yours and it wouldn't really matter which of ours was 'right', or that either of ours was right. What we'd like to see, if we're really going to do this, is a group effort where the criteria do not come from one source only. The broader the base, the more likely it is that the prospective evaluators would be able to judge intelligently a candidate design.

As for weighting, how about letting the mission speak for itself? They're not all going to be the same dog, why would we want to evaluate them as if they were? Some things are just for fun, they're meant to be just for fun, and they may even have deliberately shunned any attempt at making themselves into something like realistic.

That's fine. Let's remember that everyone who's playing -Pro PE has plonked down USD 125 or the local equivalent, if someone just wants to play tanks, and nothing else, what right does a panel of judges have to give it the thumbs down?

Again, not everyone plays the game for the same reasons.

Really, we...just people willing to give their individual unstandardized opinions.
Agreed. I personally think that the idea of a review board is questionable. I'd not like to find myself in the position of being forced to look at every mission that comes down the road, I have enough to do as it is. I think a requirement to look at everything wouldn't do either the mission or the reviewers any favors.

Good missions get good press, they don't really need anyone to tell them about themselves. But the issue seems to be that there isn't enough feedback, and if that's really the case then let's fix that.

I don't think that an advisory panel is the answer, but let's find something that is and then put it to work.

Shot

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On or off line, a campaign (even linear campaigns) tell an ongoing story that, if it's a good campaign, keeps you coming back for more.

A dynamic campaign similar to what Paul Lowengren has made for Il-2 would be amazing, however also would be alot of work. Would really make you feel like you're part of a larger battle though - having remaining forces reinforced for the next push or have to hold the line , the need to recover damaged vehicles or lose them - instead of indiviual battles just one long continuing scrap that can last days.

Wish I had some programming skills. Would require a programmer with a military background to do well. And a huge effort.

Mark

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I don't think that an advisory panel is the answer, but let's find something that is and then put it to work.

Shot

I'd be happy with just a few comments..what worked, what didn't work.

Sometimes what happens is completely unintentional.

In one mission I did the ammunition for the tank was limited but I had parked some cargo trucks in the area just for scenery and didn't make them computer-owned. One player (Tacbat, who else would be that clever?) used them to rearm his tank. He got a phenomenal score :)

It never even dawned on me anyone would use them to get ammo.

It's little things that can be easily fixed that make feedback so helpful.

HT

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On or off line, a campaign (even linear campaigns) tell an ongoing story that, if it's a good campaign, keeps you coming back for more.

A dynamic campaign similar to what Paul Lowengren has made for Il-2 would be amazing, however also would be alot of work. Would really make you feel like you're part of a larger battle though - having remaining forces reinforced for the next push or have to hold the line , the need to recover damaged vehicles or lose them - instead of indiviual battles just one long continuing scrap that can last days.

Wish I had some programming skills. Would require a programmer with a military background to do well. And a huge effort.

Mark

Paul Lowengren has to be the all-time champ of providing free stuff for a sim. And, on top of building the campaign generator and updating it constantly, he gave the best customer service I've ever seen. He donated thousands and thousands of hours of work to the community.

Really an amazing guy!

I wonder if he's busy right now...:)

HT

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I had exactly Lowengrin's DCG in mind while reading this thread. That would be very nice to have...

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I don't expect a board of critics to review EVERYTHING. But instead of discussing how to review you could, y'know, just do it. Get started. See where it's leading to. You find a review grossly subjective and unjust? Write your counterpoint, and publish it here. That's the point - providing some feedback to help both mission designers and people who are facing a plethora of anonymous missions.

If a critique spurs some discussion, so much the better. The attempt to be "objective" is anathema to the concept of "review". Any review will be subjective. And everybody has an opinion. Of course a pure opinion is worthless unless we know how the author came to his conclusions and verdict. And that's what a good review will do: Describe expectations, likely intent of the author, and whether he succeeded in it, and what the reviewer's experience was.

This thread reminds me of the inane discussions of the People's Liberation Front of Judaea. Don't discuss how to review, just do it.

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Sure, we could just do it, and we'd end up about like the PLFJ. Much better to have some coherent plan, nicht war?

'Just do it' is fine, but then again that's what the whole shootin' match was about. Not enough of us were doing it. And while I dislike the notion of a review board, we'd still like to have something or someone or both to say something intelligent (positive or negative) about a given design.

My 46th birthday is just around the corner, I'm obviously too old and senile and decrepit to come up with a good idea for how to manage this all by myself. I'm also not going to try. I have a campaign in the works, a VU to launch, and many a book to write. And the rest of the Design Guide, too.

In addition, there is a ton of talented designers amongst us; surely between we all who pad eSim's wallet we could find some way to generate something concise, relevant, and constructive for those who wish an evaluation.

Good ideas, put into practice. As Ssanta said, we could just do it, if we put our collective heads together for a couple of minutes.

Shot

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I'm a qualified designer.

Admittadly of electromechanical devices, but the principle is the same.

I suggest when reviewing a mission if you can find out the context of the mission from the maker and analyse it based on that, then your review shouldn't go too far wrong.

So long as everyone knows this context.

As for criteria, draw up a rough and ready version and refine it as you go along, you can always re review .

My two pence...

As for context a standard list would be good, summing along the lines of:

Type:

Training

battle

mission

Micellaneous :confused:

size:

single veh

platoon

company

division

army

this is just for starters, of course

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Welcome Trout and your first post is well read. My sentiments exactly but the rating issue I believe was addressed months ago. In fact, there was no rating system before.

As for a campaign, I would love it, but it doesn't have to be dynamic. As for scenarios, I've mentioned before and I will harp here, I hope one day there will be NATO vs Warsaw Pact ones. I mean, there are some available now, but would like official ones with consistent style, whatever that means.

Okay, I'm off to post "reviews" on some scenarios I've been playing...

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