Enhanced Wars

Discussion of complete and in-progress major AW Hacks or Projects - challenge hacks, War Room map packs, Online Advance Wars sims.

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GipFace
Rank: Lord of Children Games

Enhanced Wars

Post by GipFace » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:42 am

Yet another TBS claiming to follow in the footsteps of AW. First impressions? Not good at all. Here is my response. I cross-posted this to the dev forum here.

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Hello! I'm Gippy, a die-hard Advance Wars fan. When I first heard about your project, I was excited that there might be a viable Advance Wars clone for the PC. Allow me to me take your quotes from your website and development posts on Weewar and respond to them. The underlined points are what I want to address:

"Enhanced Wars takes classic, turn based strategy gameplay found in games like Advance Wars and Weewar and updates it for modern sensibilities. It is designed from the ground up to deliver a fast, accessible and fulfilling experience that focuses on strategic use of your army, not resource hoarding and base defense."

"Specifically, we've targeted three areas for improvement. We find that many turn based strategy games suffer from 3 common problems. The first is that the game is much more about resource hoarding than tactics. As soon as one player gets a defensible resource advantage, the game is essentially over.

"Which leads us to our second problem - long mop up phase. There's nothing more annoying than when both players know the battle is won, but the game is 30 turns from finished. Even worse is the third problem - long stalemates. Nothing is more frustrating than spending weeks going back and forth over a few pieces of territory with the tide of battle never changing.

These problems DO NOT exist in contemporary Advance Wars. Unfortunately, it seems that you have missed the mark on your Advance Wars assessments, probably due to the fact that you played some games on Advance Wars by Web (AWBW) and thought that was how contemporary Advance Wars is like. To understand how Advance Wars really works, you have to realize that all four Advance Wars games use different mechanics. This is very important to understanding how the games work. The following assumes you know how Advance Wars generally works; players have a CO (commanding officer) which can charge a CO power (COP), etc. etc.

First off, AWBW is not real Advance Wars. AWBW uses a mash of AW2 and AW3 (Dual Strike) COs and then shoehorns them into AW2 mechanics. There are a bunch of other inaccuracies which I won't bother listing here. All you have to know is that it's mostly AW2. Unfortunately, AW2's mechanics promote all the issues you mentioned: someone with a two property advantage in the endgame will win, and stalemates happen quite often due to reduced offensive power.

In AW2/AWBW, the rate of power meter charge is directly proportional to loss value. Therefore, there is a snowball effect: the player with more income can produce more units, send them out against the enemy, and charge his power meter faster when he loses those units.

The damage formula in AW2/AWBW causes defensive cover to be more effective. In addition, since AW2/AWBW's power meter charges the slowest out of AW2/AW3/AW4, and it charges at double rate when you take damage, there is less incentive to go on the offensive.

Image

So why do a few people play still AWBW, then? Easy. They refuse to play the newer AW games because of either time commitments, or they are simply inferior players that refused to adapt to the newer games as they were released. Or perhaps it's accessibility: it's easier to access AWBW than it is to set up a DS wi-fi connection or an emulator+Teamviewer connection.

AW3 (Dual Strike) didn't change the damage formula. However, power meter charge is proportional to unit type, not loss value. Infantry in particular were blessed by this; they charge the meter about 3.5X faster than in AW2. The basic units (tank/antiair/b-copter/artillery) also charge the meter faster. This makes AW3 a much more aggressive and power-oriented game than AW2. In addition, the black bomb, which is a mass damage explosive, ensures that stalemates never exist. The black bomb is banned in AWBW because the AW2 mechanics make it too good. However, in AW3, the game is so fast-paced that the black bomb is fair game. The non-AWBW AW community has played numerous AW3 games with the black bomb and not once did anyone say it was unfair in the AW3 environment.

AW4 (Days of Ruin/Dark Conflict) pretty much perfected the balance of the game. People say that the game was toned down offensively. That couldn't be further from the truth. It's the most offensive-friendly game in the series. There are FOUR things that caused this.

First, the big one: the damage formula was changed so that defensive cover isn't as good. Take a look at the following AW3 pic:

ImageImage

The first pic is a b-copter attacking a tank on a city. The second pic is a bomber attacking it. The b-copter vs. tank base damage is 55, while bomber vs. tank is 105. This gets reduced by 30% because of the city defense.

Now let's take a look at the same matchup in AW4:

ImageImage

Look how much more damage that is! B-copter vs. tank was increased to 70, but bomber vs. tank stayed the same at 105. How come there's more damage from the bomber, then? A city in AW4 will cause damage to be divided by 1.2. Since terrain defense is weaker, this promotes more aggression, and tech units such as the bomber shine because they can reliably 1HKO. Infantry, which were such a staple in AW2/AWBW/AW3, are reduced to role-players in AW4 because they easily get 1HKO'd (one-shotted) by a wider range of units. A graph illustrates this better:

Image

Second, hard counters were made harder. A hard counter is a unit that completely answers another unit, while a soft counter is a unit that can answer another unit as long as it's not injured. For example, tanks will soft counter tanks, but a b-copter will hard counter a tank. A comparison of the classic tank/copter/antiair unit triangle illustrates this:

Image

By making hard counters harder, it serves double duty to minimize rushing and to promote mid-game offensives. Units that do all-around damage discourage attacking because it makes it more difficult to find weak points in a defensive formation. In AW4, the units that deal all-around damage (war tank/seaplane) are very expensive, so they aren't built much.

Third, the COU (CO unit) gives players a battering ram in which to initiate attacks. Every COU has at least 130% attack. The offensive COs have at least 150% attack COUs, which means that surgical strikes are common in AW4.

Lastly, the power meter charging is offensively-based. When you deal x amount of HP in your zone, you charge that much HP for your power meter. This means that with the right amount of tactics, it's possible to win even with an income deficit as long as you're the one dealing more damage. In the old games, dealing more damage simply causes the enemy to get his COP and crush you with it. In AW4, you can use superior tactics to possibly not give the enemy a COP at all!

So in short, stalemates don't really happen much in AW4, either.

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TURTLING: You seem to think turtling is a bad idea. Turtling is a required mechanic to answer rushing and to prevent a player from reaching the center of the map first to simply win. Please watch the following video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWsy8wK1QWY

My opponent is using the most offensively-tuned CO in AW4, Tabitha. He builds a tank on day 2 and proceeds to COU it. This unit now has 180% ATK and 180% DEF, and will simply rush into my base. I am forced to turtle by conceding the center and building cost-efficient mechs, which answer the COU tank. I also build a COU b-copter which hard counters the COU tank. If either the b-copter or the mechs did not exist, I would've already lost this game.

STALEMATES AND MOP-UP: Doesn't exist. Contemporary AW3/AW4 plays with a 30-day limit, and there is a timer on games, usually 2 or 3 minutes. If there is one feature you should add into your game, it's a timer. It's absolutely essential. A 2 minute timer means that a 30-day game will only last 1 hour at the most. Realistically, it's a lot less because the first few turns can be done in a few seconds.

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So what's my overall message? It's that AW3 and AW4 don't have the problems you speak of, and that all you're doing is addressing issues that only exist in AWBW. To be honest, most of us Advance Wars fans simply want a new, accurate Advance Wars clone, and it saddens us to see that you won't be taking that path. You want to remove resource management altogether in favor of a simplistic skirmish-style game where both players ram their units into each other, and honestly I'm not very interested in that. I would contribute $200+ towards an AW clone that included both AW3 and AW4 game modes, but I guess that's impossible because Nintendo owns the IP.

Sure, you're not making an Advance Wars clone, but since YOU were the ones who compared your game to Advance Wars, you opened yourself up to comparisons against it. I hope this long post helps you to understand why the current AW mechanics are sound for multiplayer play. Hopefully you can take all this into consideration when determining your next move. Us Advance Wars fans will be waiting on the sidelines.

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Narts

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Narts » Thu Aug 08, 2013 3:43 am

Good write-up and I agree pretty much 100%.

One thing that could be emphasised more is that resource hoarding in strategy games exists for a very good reason - it's actually one of the easiest and most effective ways of encouraging aggressive play. It gives the players a reason to throw their units against each other, which leads to conflict and tactics.

If you remove resources and territory control without giving an alternate objective that encourages going on the offensive, there's the very real danger that the game devolves to two players sitting in their own respective corners of the map and waiting for the other one to flinch. Whoever first moves into the other's attack range gets pummeled to death and loses. There's no way to recoup losses by building more units, so any slight disadvantage you get is permanent.

This is exactly what happened in online Fire Emblem. Remove cities and bases from Advance Wars and you essentially remove both the Advance and the Wars.

Every decent strategy game in the past gave some sort of objective that forced the players to either attack each other, or one of the players to assume a defensive role while the other was the designated attacker. In the Steel Panthers and Combat Mission series this was accomplished by "victory points" on the map which would change owner when a unit traveled over them. Whoever controlled a majority of points and held it for a certain amount of turns won. In Laser Squad, each scenario had different, asymmetric objectives that were specially designed to pressure the players towards conflict.

The Advance Wars system of capturable buildings that generate resources that are used to produce more units is quite possibly the most elegant way of giving the players an objective, because it's not a hard victory condition per se - it's not like capturing one or two cities more than the opponent leads automatically to winning the game like Steel Panthers. It only gives you a substantial advantage worth fighting for, and worth defending - but the opponent can still overcome it with clever play. This same mechanic is used in most of the popular RTS games as well, and for a very good reason.

Capturable resources gives the players a way to trade a short-term tactical disadvantage for a strategic advantage. Sacrifice a few units in order to build more units later. It's what separates a strategy game from a tactics game.

GipFace
Rank: Lord of Children Games

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by GipFace » Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:24 am

lolol so the thread got closed because the mods gave in to the trolls. gg, guess that's the end of Enhanced Wars for me!

GipFace
Rank: Lord of Children Games

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by GipFace » Fri Oct 18, 2013 1:21 pm

Enhanced Wars (EW) is officially dead.

Official statement: http://quarterspiral.com/
Reddit rant followup from the dev: http://www.reddit.com/r/gamedev/comment ... _and_hard/
My game with Human_Debris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXQkLQM8KH4

My takeaways:

1. The dev had no idea of good game design. At the time of my game, he had spent ten months developing EW. The WWN IRC gang took all of two days to deconstruct the gameplay. The dev then attacked us, saying that AW had over ten years to refine its gameplay. Well, yes, but anyone who's played any game in the Nintendo Wars series other than AW4 can tell you that it was far from a balance haven. However, someone making an AW clone has all the info and history to not make the same mistakes AW did. This dev didn't, in part due to his hubris and idealism that he could design something better from scratch.

2. He was a fool to think that a game that ugly could raise $50K. The Custom Wars Tactics team would probably be ecstatic to have the $10K that EW raised. If you want an AW clone to be good, you must focus on the graphical aspect of it. That is why I completely criticized RoboSturm and his ill-fated AW clone project. I stated earlier that it's probably essential to hire a graphic artist if you want to make a serious attempt at an AW clone. I was right.

3. The dev spends way too much time on Reddit. I don't know how you could quit your job and spend ten months to only come up with that. Pokemon Showdown is free and was made from a disgruntled fan who had thought the current Pokemon simulators were inadequate. He focused on visuals, and now it's the #1 Pokemon simulator on the Internet. It is thanks to Pokemon Showdown that the competitive Pokemon community has exploded.

I hope the Custom Wars Tactics devs read all this and gain some insight. I told the EW dev that I would contribute $500 towards AW5 or a good AW clone, and that hasn't changed. I love AW so much, but seeing knock-off after knock-off by devs who think they're smart just makes me shake my head. Just get online AW done right already!

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JSRulz

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by JSRulz » Wed Oct 30, 2013 6:31 am

It isn't money that creates a good clone, it is the passion needed to do so. (Money just increases the time people can actually devote to the project, but the downside is that the hobby then becomes a job.)

For all those who didn't know, I am JakeSamiRulz, current lead developer of the Custom Wars Tactics project. I did follow the story of Enhanced Wars rather closely actually, but I didn't get involved because I wanted to observe. Boy, did I observe a lot from this. I've learned a lot from the failures of Enhanced Wars, but some of the biggest quirks I've realized is...

1) Listen to the fans

Seriously, I did not sink as much hours into AW as many of you inspiring folks have. In terms of the meta-game, what needs to be fixed, game play quirks, etc. There is no one who will do it better than the fans. My reasoning for the customizing was to protect the user base and the program CW:T from us, the developers. In other words, giving people the power to edit the system will make sure there isn't a full lock-down on future content.

2) Aim for completion

I think that one of the major flaws of development is the aspect of making things bigger and bigger. I realized that most of the major inherent problems of the game come from the fact that the core features never reach completion before we expand into new avenues. (A great example of this is collection of the game assets [sound, music, and art], which is surprisingly incomplete for all the AW games.) In other words, you can't improve on a wobbly surface. All the core aspects must be intact before moving forward. We fell in love with the original game, and we need to make sure the original game is represented before expansion.

3) Never give up

Great talent is very hard to find. The longer I've been working on this project, the more eyes and ears I've seen that has been looking and commending our progress. All of these people are potential backers of the project in the future. For me, Custom Wars Tactics is about being slow and steady. The best analogy is probably pushing a snowball down a hill. It starts off small, with little pebbles and flakes of snow. However, once it starts rolling, there is no stopping it.

The key is not giving up pushing the snowball. When people realize what you are trying to do, and the means you are taking trying to do it... Talent is no longer something you go looking for, it is something that ends up finding you. One of the greatest aspects of CW:T is that the people involved are those who really care about the game. They are in it solely for the purpose of creating a good AW experience.

http://ctomni231.github.io/cwtactics/

It is your eyes and your passion that drives Custom Wars Tactics. Just like Enhanced Wars, we want to work with and improve on the previous formulas. However, unlike EW, I realize that without the guidance from the fans, and the persistence to keep moving forward... there is no game. So, even though CW:T is my effort, I also realize that there are many of you who want the perfect AW experience. To find what you want, you have to keep working at it. That is exactly what the Custom Wars Tactics team, especially myself, intend to accomplish.

JakeSamiRulz
CWT Lead

Anonymous Guy

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Anonymous Guy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:30 am

Share with us this infinite wisdom of yours, o humble one. It's not like I can show this topic to a friend on IM hoping to show something you say late into it and he will already agree that you're an elitist because you claim that people play AWBW because they suck at games. And it's not like this video could possibly have a valid point:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRBcjsOt0_g

But hey, what do these guys know. It's the news of the century that an unofficial, fan-made version of the game isn't the real game.

By the way:
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FW ... system.JPG
Oh hey. I should come up with a way to make sure that when my guys get attacked while moving in, they won't get killed from mass attacking as easily. Said method would not get wrecked by sniping so easily under competent command because then it would become pointless. And I wouldn't care if it did lousy damage because oh hey look, the enemies' efforts to hurt this method is going to weigh on them, such that they would have to use multiple means of trying to control the method just to do precisely that or else I can just repeatedly exploit the flaws of the single used method and place the opponent back on square one, punishing them for thinking they could just kill me so safely and without the smallest regard for variety.

I shall call it....a tank.

Wait, whaddyamean there's already a unit called that? Oh, are you talking about the thing that can't move into the massive movement range of the same unit type being used by the opponent even with severe cover advantage or else it will be totaled regardless, and gets totaled regardless if it ever goes in range of the thing that can hit it from very far and isn't even dedicated armor busting? Well, if that's the case, that's stupid.

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Xenesis
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Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Xenesis » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:39 am

Hi Juigi.
IST wrote:Even the worst individual needs to discover the joys of a chicken statue that is also a pregnant blonde housewife.

Guest

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Guest » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:30 pm

Yo Gipface, I see you put a lot of time and effort into making that first post and I'm really happy for you, but all Strategy games suffer from those three potential issues. Resource Hoarding is rarely an actual problem, since it is a valid tactic in itself, leading to higher tier units and abilities sooner than someone who would be more likely to make an early rush. In terms of resource gathering, the AW series generally does a good job of encouraging aggressive play. However, there are more benefits from controlling resources in the AW series than in many other Strategy games.
First of all, unlike other popular games in the genre you are not required to leave the unit that captured a resource to maintain it. This allows you to expand far more rapidly.
Secondly each and every resource point in the AW series grants cover, which gives units of the player using it to attack the upper hand in combat.
Third the healing, it's not enough that resource points provide cover, they heal units of the player that controls them (for 10% cost per HP) and completely refuel and rearm them (for free).
And last of all, in Fog of War, which I know you don't like because... Well anyway, in FoW you can sometimes see where a small amount of an opponent's units are, just by using your resource gathering.

Outside of the AW series I can't name a single game that grants all of the above advantages. Now please note, I am not saying it is a problem that the AW series handles resource gathering this way, the third point is almost a necessity even for small maps.

Okay which issue is next? Ah yes, that long mop up phase. And this doesn't exist in the AW series, because opponents always yield when they can't contribute meaningfully to a battle? Do they always recognize when they've lost? The exact moment? There exists a point where one side has won, then there's the point where the battle ends and they claim their victory. These are two very different times, sometimes they happen very close to each other, other times they do not and the losing side just refuses to accept defeat when all odds are stacked against them, and the larger the map the longer it takes for a loss to become obvious. It exists, even the AI abuses it's existence.

Now for the long stalemates, wonderful, you're claiming they don't happen either. Okay then, if you absolutely have to keep bringing up CO Powers, they charge faster in the first three games based on unit loss and more slowly when attacking so someone being attacked is more likely to receive the benefits of a CO Power. Power based tug of war doesn't happen in AW4, but in the others. Almost all of the Powers enable pushes, or mitigate their results (there's also maps with chokepoints), potentially leading to a long stalemate.


The existence of these issues is something you shouldn't deny, the important question is about their designation as problem areas. Are they problematic in the AW series? Hardly.
I accept your conclusion on these points, but I reject your premise.

Anonymous Guy

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Anonymous Guy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 3:10 pm

You'd think when games involve a concept they'd get it right.

About the resource points, if the game isn't balancing around expected usage of their cover, then maybe you can tell me why Scrabble's spaces like "Double Word Score" exist. I know they can't be there to discourage people from using a single big word and winning that way any more than Advance Wars has terrain stars around to discourage spam, check overly safe attacking, etc.

Oh wait. Don't people detest maps with abundant amounts of terrain providing more than 1 Star worth of defense? Last I checked, it was because people fight over 2-3 Star terrain which gets in the way of key matchups. I know I'd rather be able to generally 1HK a spammable unit on a City and additionally not have my armored unit take so much punishment for even thinking of approaching this annoying thing that attacks from so far away. It's not like the obstacles are taking the abuse for it and thus letting it move through them to get into close-combat range unharmed, no siree Bob.

The whole mop-up business begs the question of why not make the HQ frontal more often. This would encourage offenses, prevent people who have lost from stubbornly fighting continuously, and allow the HQ's cover to actually do something. Apparently, the mere concept eludes a lot of map designers, and there's not even an overboard attempt at making use of it.

And stalemates happen because nobody wants to attack, and nobody wants to attack because nobody can find a way safe enough to do so, and nobody can do that because tanks are not doing their job of sponging abuse that isn't strong enough anti-armor, instead taking interest in doing more damage than they should to ground units in general. But hey, it's not like expected anti-armor usage promotes variety by its very nature of using said variety to make it actually work instead of being isolated tool fodder.

These problems exist, and they exist because of annoying problems.

GipFace
Rank: Lord of Children Games

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by GipFace » Sat Nov 02, 2013 4:06 am

each and every resource point in the AW series grants cover
...they heal units of the player that controls them
And last of all, in (fog), which I know you don't like because... Well anyway, in (fog) you can sometimes see where a small amount of an opponent's units are

What's wrong with any of these? Also, I never said I hated fog. It's just that it leads to longer games and the map must be tailored for it or a Tabitha CO unit becomes unstoppable.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRBcjsOt0_g
AW4 is the best PvP AW game because there are more counter-play options than any of the other games. That video reinforced my original post. The balance is so good that out of all the non-sea units, the only units that I think need tweaking are the antitank, the fighter, and missiles. Every other land/air unit is useful.

Don't people detest maps with abundant amounts of terrain providing more than 1 Star worth of defense? Last I checked, it was because people fight over 2-3 Star terrain which gets in the way of key matchups.
That's why AW4's defensive cover, using a curve rather than a line, works out. In previous games, cities stopped all 1HKOs and most 2HKOs. Now you can use your COU and your zone units to cancel out defensive cover. Positioning matters more because you can target an area where the enemy's units are non-zoned. Tech units benefit the most: a Waylon bomber will 1HKO a 100D tank on a city. In AW4, tech units shine because they can 1HKO.

The whole mop-up business begs the question of why not make the HQ frontal more often.
We played with this idea. Frontal HQs away from bases eliminate tempo trading and positional play. It's not a good idea.

stalemates happen because nobody wants to attack, and nobody wants to attack because ... tanks are not doing their job of sponging abuse that isn't strong enough anti-armor
Uhh... what? Increasing unit DEF discourages attacking. If I'm attacking in AW4, I want enemy units destroyed. The heightened offensive capabilities of zone units, along with less effective defensive cover, allows me to do that more in AW4 than in AW2/3. Also, the tank is a good defensive unit because nothing short of a bomber or a Tashacopter is going to 1HKO it, or a 150A md tank (Will/Lin COU md tank) against 100D (105%) or 110D (95%). And that's the point of the COU, to act as an offensive enabler.

Guest

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by Guest » Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:23 am

GipFace wrote:each and every resource point in the AW series grants cover
...they heal units of the player that controls them
And last of all, in (fog), which I know you don't like because... Well anyway, in (fog) you can sometimes see where a small amount of an opponent's units are

What's wrong with any of these?
What's wrong with them?

I highlighted them as a combination I believe to be unique to the AW series, and clearly stated that I wasn't trying to imply that those specific mechanics are bad. I did mention the necessity of healing/refueling on properties. What's wrong was your understanding of that part of my post, hopefully it's better now.

GipFace
Rank: Lord of Children Games

Re: Enhanced Wars

Post by GipFace » Sat Nov 02, 2013 9:49 pm

Unit repairing encourages micro in moving your crippled units back, healing them, and then living to fight another day. This is usually better than joining because you get to keep your unit count. In fact, joining should only be done in a few cases: 1) keep a vet unit/COU alive, 2) you absolutely require a 10HP unit to wall, 3) you need to join air units because the map only has 1 airport and 0 temp airports.

Defender is trading first strike for superior terrain. That idea is in most strategy games. I still don't get what your point is; other games have static defense installations you can build to defend your area.

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