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 Post subject: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 8:24 am 
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I feel the need to preface my review with a disclaimer. I am 100% fully aware that the release currently online is a beta and I know what the purpose of a beta is. I'm aware that the game is far from finished, that it is riddled with holes that will (presumably) be slowly filled, but I thought that the firsthand thoughts of a player might be helpful to the dev team in some capacity. As such, I ask you not to judge me too harshly when I say "x is bad and broken" when it's entirely possible that dev builds have probably already fixed the problem. I also have not been keeping up with the development of this game, 0.35beta is the first I have really seen of this game bar a cursory glancing at the CW:T topic on WCF every now and then. I haven't read dev diaries or anything similar, all I have really read is this forum post. This is a post to criticise, not to insult. It's also been written as I play the game, and as such may feel a bit disjointed. I'm just writing down my thoughts as I go through. I'm not here to tear your game down, I'm here to help. Really. :) 'Kay then.

Where to start... well, at the beginning I suppose is the logical place. The menu music is jarring and not to my tastes, though I'm willing to chalk that up to personal preference rather than a "problem" of the game itself. Thus to alleviate my irritation I headed to the menu. Blissfully, you can turn down music independently of sound. As a man who likes to game with music playing, this is a godsend of a feature and I'm glad it's there.

I don't know what "options.forceTouch" is, but considering the fact this game supports Android/iOS I would imagine it's something touchscreen related. Still, some clarification would be nice. The fact that the "Yes"/"No" bar is above "options.forceTouch" also strikes me as a little odd.

The ability to independently remap keys without having to go through the entire keymapping process would be nice, though given that there's only like six keys to remap it's hardly a huge concern. I am also completely unsure what the default keymappings are, as I had to remap them all in order to get through it. No huge criticism there, but I'd have liked to know what the defaults were so I don't have to remap every time I want to play.

Right, onto the game itself. Six maps to choose from is good for a first public release, I feel. I imagine it would've been so easy to simply have included Spann Island and no more. You can set each player's team to 0 1 2 or 3, where 1 2 3 or 4 would seem more logical. Though there doesn't appear to be any day-to-day abilities or CO Powers included, you can select a CO regardless. You also cannot turn FOW off, which I'd quite like to do as a non-competitive player.

Asadgusdgj on my god that sound the cursor makes when you move it around is annoying and grinding. At first I didn't even know you could use the mouse to control the game, but then I dragged my mouse across the game to switch to Skype and on my god my ears are bleeding. Occasionally when you move the cursor you get small visual artifacts appearing where the cursor just was for a brief moment, red lines on the side of the tile. At this point, I would have included a screenshot if my fingers were quick enough to catch it. Alas.

The map animation is really smooth and good looking, like that a lot. Beyond the aforementioned cursor artifacts this game is pretty good looking. Forest is misspelled "Forrest" when you highlight a forest tile. "CITY" is in all caps, as is "SILO", when other terrain identifiers simply capitalise the first letter. Headquarters is misspelled "Headquarter". I'm unsure if this is a regional thing or not, but I always thought they were called Megatanks, not War Tanks?

There are no movement sounds to determine when the AI is moving their units in the fog, thus beyond the turn indicator that flashes up at the beginning (and only the beginning) of your turn it's difficult to tell if it's still the AI's turn or not.

At the beginning of one of my turns, an indicator flashed up to say "Weather changed to STSN". I don't even.

The AI isn't very aggressive. Unless I'm directly within it's sight, they won't attack me, and seem to make no effort to search me out. In one game on Spann Island, they didn't even attack me at all. Confusing.

There's no way to see the range of indirect units visually on the map, which for a schmuck like me who doesn't remember the range of all indirects is a little frustrating. There's also no visual indication that APCs refuel and rearm units, though the statbox does testify that they do. APCs also can't manually rearm units at the end of their turn, another minor irritation.

Occasionally I find enemy units that have randomly taken damage I haven't given them, even on two-player maps. With FOW on, I have no idea what's causing this damage. I also seem to be unable to win a map via route, only by HQ capture.

Overall, my experience with this game is what I'd expect of an alpha build, rather than a beta. Obviously there are more features to be added, and those that have been added are in need of honing, but I believe you have a solid framework for an excellent game here.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 5:17 pm 
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Oh thank you thank you thank you Craig.

This information will go a long way for improvement. I am well aware of the fact that this game... more or less...is what a true alpha would look like. Regardless, I needed a few things from this release...

1) To get attention to the communities that something cool is being worked on.
2) To get people's opinions directly when we are on the User Interface part of the game.

I realized that we are actually in a very challenging time for AW. The communities as a whole have dropped in numbers and activity quickly. In all honesty, waiting probably would have been the best decision, but... what is a game without a community to show it off to. So, I focused on just getting all the bugs out and getting something we can show.

Did it work?

That is left to be seen, as I also released it during Christmas... one of the biggest holiday weekends. It'll take a while for people to notice. However, I am hoping that all this work we've been doing can help us get this program a little bit better as we start connecting the network up this January.

I hope that this will spur a bit of talk, and maybe keep some of the community lingering on a little bit longer. I know there are people who are going to be into something like this. I know because, I am a customer of it... I have been waiting for something like this to come up for a long time.

Thanks Craig.

Your words will go a long way into game improvement. I am ready and willing to listen and respond to any other inquiries you have in the future.


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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:27 am 
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Craig 2.0 wrote:
The menu music is jarring and not to my tastes

If it makes you feel better, I didn't make that; the old CW team did. My theme (not to mention my menu) is much better than anything they came up with. :P

Craig 2.0 wrote:
The AI isn't very aggressive. Unless I'm directly within it's sight, they won't attack me, and seem to make no effort to search me out. In one game on Spann Island, they didn't even attack me at all. Confusing.

The AI they've slapped together for the moment is pretty much just there to be there. The real AI is going to be taking inspiration from AI War. If you don't know about that game's AI, look it up. It's a doozy.

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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:11 am 
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Yeah, those look and sound so much better IMO. Did you make the menu FMV?

As for the AI, yeah I can understand that a somewhat functional AI is better than no AI. Looking forward to future releases, then. ^^


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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:28 am 
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Craig 2.0 wrote:
Yeah, those look and sound so much better IMO. Did you make the menu FMV?

It's from one of the trailers for AW4. I took a snippet from it and ran it through Gifsoup.

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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 6:49 pm 
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Good stuff ladies and gentlemen...

This month and the following months after, we will be working on the bugs and features. I expect that most of the bugs will be handled in a smaller sub- release for 0.3.6. The features described including the network will be tackled before 0.4. If you want something official then check this out...

http://cwtactics.blogspot.de/2014/01/open-beta-035-good-bad-and-ugly.html

You can see pretty much the topics we'll be looking into the most while working on this. Keep in mind that I am still actively looking at all your responses. If anyone has anything else to add please do. Otherwise, just be patient until the next update arrives. (I'll be sure to warn you of its coming. 8) )


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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Thu Jan 02, 2014 7:46 pm 
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Hello Craig :mrgreen:

If it's okay for you, then I answer to some of your points. Your text will be styled as bold text.

I feel the need to preface my review with a disclaimer. I am 100% fully aware ... I'm here to help. Really. :) 'Kay then.

Thanks for that. I'm always happy to grab thoughts from the user base. To be true I'm more happy with the negative ones, because only critics helps us to solve problems. Of course a "good job" is never bad to hear. :D

Where to start... well, at the beginning I suppose is the logical place. The menu music is jarring and not to my tastes, though I'm willing to chalk that up to personal preference rather than a "problem" of the game itself. Thus to alleviate my irritation I headed to the menu. Blissfully, you can turn down music independently of sound. As a man who likes to game with music playing, this is a godsend of a feature and I'm glad it's there.

As maron already mentioned there will be another main menu music in later versions. At all this was originally one song to test the audio system. I'm not a fan of it too. In my case this may happended because I heard it thousand of times during development. :lol:

I don't know what "options.forceTouch" is, but considering the fact this game supports Android/iOS I would imagine it's something touchscreen related. Still, some clarification would be nice. The fact that the "Yes"/"No" bar is above "options.forceTouch" also strikes me as a little odd.


A better description follows. We forgot to add a description for it in the language files. Basically this will be used on modern touch screen desktops like Windows 8.x. By enabling it, you can use the touch mode on desktops too.

The ability to independently remap keys without having to go through the entire keymapping process would be nice, though given that there's only like six keys to remap it's hardly a huge concern. I am also completely unsure what the default keymappings are, as I had to remap them all in order to get through it. No huge criticism there, but I'd have liked to know what the defaults were so I don't have to remap every time I want to play.

That's true and a good hint. Even because we only use six buttons. We will discuss about this!

Right, onto the game itself. Six maps to choose from is good for a first public release, I feel. I imagine it would've been so easy to simply have included Spann Island and no more. You can set each player's team to 0 1 2 or 3, where 1 2 3 or 4 would seem more logical.

Internal stuff. We will use 1,2,3,4 or A,B,C,D in the next release. :)

Though there doesn't appear to be any day-to-day abilities or CO Powers included, you can select a CO regardless. You also cannot turn FOW off, which I'd quite like to do as a non-competitive player.

Thanks for the hint. We checked the most scripting parts, but this may happended.
The round configuration screen gets an update in 0.3.6. There will be a panel to change the game configuration parameters. "fogEnabled" is one of them.

Asadgusdgj on my god that sound the cursor makes when you move it around is annoying and grinding. At first I didn't even know you could use the mouse to control the game, but then I dragged my mouse across the game to switch to Skype and on my god my ears are bleeding.

Seems an option to disable cursor sound is a good idea then? Maybe it's also a way to completely drop the cursor sound on mouse movement.

Occasionally when you move the cursor you get small visual artifacts appearing where the cursor just was for a brief moment, red lines on the side of the tile. At this point, I would have included a screenshot if my fingers were quick enough to catch it. Alas.

Yep this happens due the browsers canvas upscaling. We already sunk into deep discussions to solve that by a better scaling system.

The map animation is really smooth and good looking, like that a lot. Beyond the aforementioned cursor artifacts this game is pretty good looking.

8)

Forest is misspelled "Forrest" when you highlight a forest tile. "CITY" is in all caps, as is "SILO", when other terrain identifiers simply capitalise the first letter. Headquarters is misspelled "Headquarter". I'm unsure if this is a regional thing or not, but I always thought they were called Megatanks, not War Tanks?

Yup. English is not my native language and this may happens from time to time, but JSR is always here to fix my little language falls. The capitalise things happens on things that haven't a description string in the language file. We cannot say that this will be fixed in 0.3.6, but we try it. Language is a low priority thing atm.

There are no movement sounds to determine when the AI is moving their units in the fog, thus beyond the turn indicator that flashes up at the beginning (and only the beginning) of your turn it's difficult to tell if it's still the AI's turn or not.

Yep. At the moment we still reconstruct the original system. It's difficult to play the sounds exactly like in AWDS with the assets we own.

At the beginning of one of my turns, an indicator flashed up to say "Weather changed to STSN". I don't even...

Language file faults again. :lol:

The AI isn't very aggressive. Unless I'm directly within it's sight, they won't attack me, and seem to make no effort to search me out. In one game on Spann Island, they didn't even attack me at all. Confusing.

That is strange. We will have a look into that.

There's no way to see the range of indirect units visually on the map, which for a schmuck like me who doesn't remember the range of all indirects is a little frustrating.

That is strange. We will have a look into that.

There's also no visual indication that APCs refuel and rearm units, though the statbox does testify that they do. APCs also can't manually rearm units at the end of their turn, another minor irritation.

Comes with 0.4 or 0.3.6. Depends on the time we have left then. =)

Occasionally I find enemy units that have randomly taken damage I haven't given them, even on two-player maps. With FOW on, I have no idea what's causing this damage. I also seem to be unable to win a map via route, only by HQ capture.

Both situations are interesting. We will have a look into that. Thanks for that report.

Overall, my experience with this game is what I'd expect of an alpha build, rather than a beta. Obviously there are more features to be added, and those that have been added are in need of honing, but I believe you have a solid framework for an excellent game here.

Thank you. :mrgreen:

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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 8:34 am 
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Awesome, I'm glad to see my comments were noted :D

Whilst I have people's attention, I thought I'd asked this. What sort of capacity to you expect CW:T to have regarding custom units?


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 Post subject: Re: Custom Wars: Tactics 0.35beta - a review
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:46 am 
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Craig 2.0 wrote:
What sort of capacity to you expect CW:T to have regarding custom units?


This is a very tricky question to answer currently as user expectations for the engine has forced us to re-think how we approach this game. However, I can tell you what we allow currently.

Currently, the CW:T capacity in terms of custom units to allow you to edit the looks and behavior of any unit. You can also add units to the game following the behaviors of anything current units are capable of. (For example, you can have an indirect unit that can capture.)

Keep in mind, this isn't accessible yet to everyone. But we are allowing a lot of leeway to change the stats and behaviors of each object in the game. Our challenge is making sure that the overall speed of the engine and the AI can keep up with each change. My goal is to use the first AW games (AW1, AW2, AWDS, AWDoR) as a primary test, to see how the system reacts to just a small pool. After that, then I can venture to another modification a little bit more wild than the first. However, to keep a level head, I'm doing baby steps forward to make sure the engine doesn't fall apart as we do this.

Currently, my focus lies on the competitive end more than anything. Network and the online play is a lot more important to get into the engine. I want to make sure that the game stays fast and responsive regardless of what we do to it. Customization, though nice, takes a back seat to the game running smoothly. It is a very fine tight-rope walk, and every change we make needs to be heavily considered before adding it. I really am aiming for a high-quality production, and I will keep doing everything to make sure the game holds that standard.

Currently, the user cry has mostly been for a smooth interface and game experience. I completely understand that claim and I want to do as much as I can in that regard. However, given that our team for the most part is very small, I realize that filling up this hole will cause another hole to open up. I'm willing to take the damage for a smoother interface as control and GUI are crucial for a good game experience.

As for the customization, what is in bold will most likely be the case for a while. We realized that there is only so much we can do to abstract unit actions. (Unit actions are "Load/Unload", "Attack", "Capture", "Hide/Unhide", "Wait", "CO Load", etc.) Each one of these has to be coded in the engine by hand, and the AI also has to know how to handle each of these actions. This takes up space and also slows down the game with each addition. Since people would rather a smooth experience over anything else, I had to cut down a lot of dreams and focus on where we currently stand.

The problems are actually a lot bigger than what I said here, but trust me, I really want to work towards an engine that allows customization, online play, AI, and keeps a good game play experience. In order to realize this, I have to take really small steps and make sure we don't over step any bounds. I am documenting all your ideas as we go along, and trust me, if it is possible we will attempt it. However, in order to keep this project honest, I will not promise that we will move out of the bold message above. But, I will listen to all ideas. This may change in the future. There are a lot of unforeseen challenges in the game to come, and I want to make sure that a good quality experience remains the primary focus of the game.

Anyway, I hope this answers your question. At least in this place, I'll can go over things a lot more deeply than anywhere else 8).


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