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View Full Version : HELP! Designing a game, need advice from expert dogfighters!



sightreader
07-04-2007, 02:25 PM
Howdy all!

Since I've noticed some amazing IL2 jocks, I thought I'd ask for some help. I'm designing a game based on WWI dogfighting. It was originally based on the "Wings of War" games, but it has pretty much taken a life of its own as my changes have become increasingly radical. I have not yet named it, as all the good names seem to have been taken.

Basically, this seeks to be a tabletop version of what you do online. You put cards representing your aircraft on a table and start sliding them about based on "manuver" cards. These cards have arrows that show you exactly where to relocate your airplane card. The system accounts for energy bleed, banking, deflection shooting, and a variety of factors, although (obviously) it can't factor in as much as a 3 ghz machine.
http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic225757.jpg

I hope to design a game simple and fast enough to be accessible to complete noobs that will nevertheless introduce some basic concepts ACM. To make this ACM trainer as much like the real thing as I can, I wanted to get the opinions of a few true air grogs and see if there's anything I can do.
http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic225881.jpg
The game is in PDF format: a color printer and a paper cutter should be all you need to get it going. Here's a link to it:

http://boardgamegeek.com/file/25227/Prototype%202-1.pdf

Flight models for the Dr I, Camel, DVa and SPAD 13 are included in this first pack. I am currently working on very extensive changes to the damage and stall system, but this version should at least capture the major energy concepts I am using.

Obviously my graphics skills suck, so I'd also be looking for help with the pics.

Thanks for any advice you can give!

F19_Orheim
07-04-2007, 03:44 PM
I played "Wings of war" with a couple of friends (with loads of alcohol mind you) a few months ago, and I thought it was pretty fun... very simple and straight forward... works well with the intake :P

This looks kind of interesting work you have here, thanx for bringing it up... how does your version differ?

Lucius_Esox
07-04-2007, 03:51 PM
Inspired by "up Front" the old Avalon Hill game by any chance?

sightreader
07-04-2007, 06:09 PM
Originally posted by F19_Orheim:
I played "Wings of war" with a couple of friends (with loads of alcohol mind you) a few months ago, and I thought it was pretty fun... very simple and straight forward... works well with the intake :P

This looks kind of interesting work you have here, thanx for bringing it up... how does your version differ?

Believe it or not, this version was designed to be even SIMPLER than WoW, and was designed to play faster (my objective is to be able to finish a game in 1/2 an hour or so). Major differences:

- The most important thing is energy. As a result, boom and zoom and even a basic rolling scissors evolves naturally.

- You don't play 3 moves ahead: you react nearly instantaneously. You can do this without making the moves deterministic because bank and speed are now part of the equation. The flight models primarily factor energy bleed from various manuvers and roll rate.

- Amount of damage you do to the enemy depends on your firing position, not just range and guns, and is completely deterministic (i.e. it's not dependent on a draw of a card). Thus, kills are earned by solid concepts of marksmanship. Even so, the damage system is undergoing a complete overhaul, but I'm still in the early phases of this overhaul.

sightreader
07-04-2007, 06:11 PM
Originally posted by Lucius_Esox:
Inspired by "up Front" the old Avalon Hill game by any chance?

I've never played Up Front. However, I can say my design is trying to be a fast paced card game that's accessible to spouses and non-gamers, not just sim buffs and gamers. The two pages I posted are ALL of the rules, so it's not particularly complex.

sightreader
07-04-2007, 07:29 PM
Yay! I got some playtest results from one of the other forums. The first guy, "Tedman", was going to try to put the manuver cards into the Wings of War miniature bases. He's new to flying and ACM. His friend (the second review) appears to be more knowledgeable about ACM.

----


I played the prototype Saturday night with my friend Jesse. His overall reaction was quite good. He commented that he thought Sight was a "frickin' genius" in terms of the design of the thing. Probably his #1 complaint was the the roll right and roll left are not distinguished enough. He thought that green and blue were too close for the color coding, esp with the thin lines and small icons.

In terms of the cards, yes, I've got the airplane cards crammed up inside the bases of the flight stands for the WoW minis. I punched out the centerdot on the airplane card (printed on std. paper) and was able to fold it up in there without taping. The speed bars show right on the base edges.

The maneuver cards I've recut so that they all fit horizontally in ultrapro sleeves with index stock backing for rigidity. Having them all in horizontal orientation worked fine. It shortened the overall front to back length of the card which I thought made them easier to play. I would also encourage Sight to use this orientation as the added width would accomodate the rest of his icons and text nicely.

We had one stacking dilemma that we had to resolve when the planes crossed eachother's paths head to head. We wound up pulling the planes off and working with the cards alone for a turn until the problem was resolved. Even had to move one maneuver card off the stack temporarily, laying another card alongside it to mark its position. This is the only point that the card under the plane system caused trouble greater than the original WoW system. It was over quickly though and we had the minis and cards back in place for the next turn with little trouble.

The game we played was Sopwith vs Tripe. My friend Jesse had grasped the turn cutoff strategy fairly well after a couple games with Sight's old variant. By the time we switched to the prototype I was in trouble. A little left-turn shy, I got myself into a too predictable right turn pattern with the Tripe, allowing Jesse to predict my movements and Immelman me off at the next turn. The fact that I was taking pictures through the whole thing didn't help my game any either.

I found it interesting that Jesse independently came up with a similar opinion to me regarding the detail of the ACM mechanics in the system. That it probably means more to someone who can recognize the significance of those details. So while us uninformed types can play it, we still don't fully get the whole picture and kind of feel that we're missing some of the subtlety right under our noses. The solution to this might be a little education outside of what's in the cards. It does provoke curiousity, so some follow up information would be welcome for people who play it, I think.

Finally I gotta admit, Sight, you've really got a whole new game here. The maneuvers you've provided are all significantly different than their WoW ancestors, the flow of the game and the way the cards are plays is also very different. Don't know where you want to take it, but I don't think you've got much to worry about with calling it a new game. The only remnant really remaining is the size and shape of the airplane cards. I kind of hope you don't sever that tie though because I like being able to use the minis on their flight stands. Additionally, I would think the publishers of the WoW would welcome another avenue of sales for their minis line. I've heard that Canvas Eagles players are interested in them as well, for example.

---

Hey Sight, I'm 'That Air Grognard Buddy' :-)

First, anyone who can get a guy who seemed so wholeheartedly against my attempts to lure him into the world of fighting planes has got to have some serious mojo. Well done! Now I cab't wait to see Ted again so we can throw down!

and my comments:

My gaming group here in Tucson is notoriously non-airplane oriented, but last Friday night we played nothing but your variant rules using the basic 4 minis for hours. Quotes included (but not limited to)" Okay Sifu, you win. This is fun stuff!" and "these rules are really evocative of how planes like this must've flown". So from these results (including getting Tedman involved, elevate you to Miracle Worker status. I eagerly await your future endeavours.

WRT altitude and all - the fact that you've included energy seems to have rolled much of the abstraction into a nice package that I don't have to get people to grok serious 3D in order to enjoy. If it were to expand to actual alitiude in terms of visible differences between minis, I'd vote for telescoping bits or roach-clips-on-posts (a'la Goblintooth's stuff).

Excess energy- I'm less educated on the actual structures of WW1 crates, but just the apocryphal research I've done would seem to indicate that one green 'E' pip at most would be sane, where more than one would lead to shredding and/or departure risks. I've only worked on the stressed-metal stuff so I leave the rags-and-sticks knowledge to thems that know. ;-)

Sharp Turns - brilliant stuff in theory, but execution with a fast game is a bear - I was just tossing them under the card JUST as I played it and nobody seemed to mind (since a steep climb precedes one of two things 90% of the time: a steep turn or an Immelmann).

Thoughts: would there be a possible means of incorporating something like 'chopping the throttle' in exchange for a drag pip and a foreshortened turn arc?

Will there be a means of including ground attack once altitude is worked out?

Am i going straight to the Netherworld for playing your game with the minis without ever having gotten the original rules?

all these things and more, fluttering around in a fevered mind....

-j

M_Gunz
07-04-2007, 08:15 PM
ALWAYS lose speed in a turn? ALL the planes?

I don't see much on altitudes or vertical separation, how you play that?
How do you do the Immelmann turn and game mechanics preserves your energy instead of penalty?

Want to play faster, ditch those oh so 1970's cards (looks like SPI trying to cross their hex
WWI airwar game with one of the tape measure naval sims, you know who they were?) and maps
and counters and get it onto networked PC's. No physical setup and all calculations done
pretty much immediately, just jump on and go.

sightreader
07-04-2007, 09:52 PM
Originally posted by M_Gunz:
ALWAYS lose speed in a turn? ALL the planes?

No, some (notably the Albatros) are capable of gaining speed on a gentle turn, while most can at least maintain a gentle turn without losing speed.

Originally posted by M_Gunz:
I don't see much on altitudes or vertical separation, how you play that?
How do you do the Immelmann turn and game mechanics preserves your energy instead of penalty?
On the Immelman, you do gain a lot of altitude doing it, but it's more than made up for in a loss in speed, so when you get back down again you're either lower or slower than when you started. Thus, my cards show the Immelman as being a net loss in energy. Think of the energy ratings as a measure of aerodynamic EFFICIENCY rather than of speed or altitude per se.

The way I play boom and zoom in this game is to come in at full energy and try to trick my opponent into anticipating an aggressive move that requires an E-burning response. If he goes for it, then I bypass him, using my advantage in E to pressure him, only doing hard moves of my own when he has committed first. If things go well, he'll eventually be out of air and will be a sitting duck, but if not, I try to save E for one last hard disengagement move and get the heck out of there.


Originally posted by M_Gunz:
Want to play faster, ditch those oh so 1970's cards (looks like SPI trying to cross their hex
WWI airwar game with one of the tape measure naval sims, you know who they were?) and maps
and counters and get it onto networked PC's. No physical setup and all calculations done
pretty much immediately, just jump on and go.

It is precisely because most laymen can't just "jump on and go" that this game has been created. I found that a full fledged sim has too much of a learning curve to be accessible to people with a less than intense passion for flying. The problem is that it takes most people a lot of effort to learn the basic skills needed to fight a dogfight, but on the other hand most sane people want to know if dogfighting is fun enough to be worth the investment. The result is a Catch-22: you need a lot of work before you can play, but you need to play to know if its worth the work.

Thus, the point here is to separate these learning curves. The cards do the flying for you, leaving you free to concentrate on ACM, which will hopefully make the secluded world of dogfighting accessible to normal people. Once they understand that ACM is not just a frag fest with a ridiculous learning curve, then they may be more willing to invest in flight sims (with both effort and money).

sightreader
07-06-2007, 03:22 AM
No, it's much more like a miniatures game than a card game. Your airplanes are printed on cards that manuver across a table based on move cards that you play. It's designed to be realistic - i.e., actual tactics that work in IL2 should, for the most part, work in this game as well.

My main purpose is to find a way to introduce Air Combat Manuvering (ACM) to laymen. We dogfighting nuts live in a very small market. The problem is that you have to know how to fly before you can learn ACM, but most sane people need proof that ACM is fun before investing all that effort in flight training. To evade this Catch-22, the card game takes the dexterity part out and concentrates on the strategy alone, allowing noobs to sample ACM so they know dogfighting is not just some mindless frag-fest with a prohibitively steep learning curve.

M_Gunz
07-06-2007, 04:10 AM
What is wrong with spending time just learning to fly a single plane even moderately well
without even starting onto shooting? There is a lot to proper piloting that many players
don't bother with or guess at.

The deal with pulling an Immelmann is fast 180 turn at low speed loss. E-III had power to
make up the loss in the pursuit and Max wasn't a bad shot. Your cards also remove need for
player to participate in marksmanship as well.

Have you ever seen the Ace of Aces Books?

You can automate your system to run on cellphones probably. It's not that complicated.

sightreader
07-06-2007, 10:53 AM
Howdy Howdy again! Hope your weekend gets off to a good start!


Originally posted by M_Gunz:
What is wrong with spending time just learning to fly a single plane even moderately well
without even starting onto shooting?

Oh, nothing at all! There are a large number of people who always dreamed to fly and will take the reins of a sim without any interest in combat: if it weren't for them, we wouldn't have sims at all!

On the other hand, there is a diversity of reasons people might want to dogfight, just as there are FPS geeks who prefer graphics to simulation, shooting to strategy, realism to speed, etc etc. In this case, I believe access to ACM is limited by the "gateway" interest of aeronautics itself, much like someone might love calculus but never gets to find out because they can't stand arithmetic. Here are just two of the profiles of folks who I think could benefit from the game:

- Folks who simply like strategy. Many laymen are surprised to find out that a dogfight is more like a chessmatch than like a game of "Doom" (when I heard a radio announcer refer to Senator Duke Cunningham as just a "hotshot pilot", I truly understood what laymen think of dogfighting). If these people can get a taste for the depth of tactics involved in ACM, it may motivate them to suck it up and learn the flying skills they need, especially when they know the context in which those skills will be employed. If you take a look at the reactions of the boardgamers I posted earlier (as well as personal reactions from both my friends and their girlfriends), you'll see that this game has (so far) proven VERY effective in generating excitement from non-sim folks and non-gamers.

- Folks who don't "think on their feet" real well. Most of us, at some level, can get rattled under fire, but there are many who are completely paralyzed by action and just start yanking their plane about the sky until they're out of energy. What's important to realize is that many (if not most) of these guys are perfectly capable of formidable strategy, but they just freeze up under the gun and it keeps them from learning. This game will hopefully provide a way for them to conceptualize and understand their situation without the pressure and panic of a real-time dogfight, and allow them to return to a sim they may have given up on.


The deal with pulling an Immelmann is fast 180 turn at low speed loss. E-III had power to
make up the loss in the pursuit and Max wasn't a bad shot. Your cards also remove need for
player to participate in marksmanship as well.

I can't tell you how much I appreciate your analysis of my rules: it shows you really took the time to look at them carefully and is a mark of great character that you're willing to understand even things you're not real enthusiastic about. Your analysis of the Immelmann is very important to me: this is precisely the sort of input I need to hone these cards and make them more realistic.

I am currently doing a great deal of work on reworking the entire damage and shooting system. The current system is just a "stub" that allows us to fly the sim and do some shooting. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to at least simulate some basic aspects of marksmanship. I'm also seeking to work structural stress and stalls into the system, but I have to be real careful and make sure it doesn't get too elaborate.



You can automate your system to run on cellphones probably. It's not that complicated.
Exactly! That is, by far, my most imporant objective (something that runs on cellphones would simply be awesome, by the way). I'm seeking to create a game that can be taught to skeptical laymen in about 10 minutes and can be played in as short a time as possible (with the only real delays being in learning the dynamics of flight and devising a strategy).