greenexecutive (greenexecutive) wrote,

All Good Things

I've had that phrase stuck in my head for several days now. All good things come to an end, I suppose, but for me the phrase is more from the last episode of Star Trek: Next Generation. It wasn't a great episode as these things go, but it hit the right note of nostalgia---this was a long, long journey we had been on together, and this was seeing them off. I had been watching ST:TNG since I had to stay up Sunday nights at 1am to watch it on UHF out of Des Moines, and I had grown from a kid who liked space ships into a seasoned fan.

Now, all good things, again. I'm taking LGGWG down. Most of you who read this know why, but I thought I'd touch on some things I had learned in the process.

1. LGGWG remains a great multiplayer game. It was exactly the sort of game I wanted to play, and for a handful of people it took off. We passed 52,000 turns submitted, and that means with conservative estimate at 3 minutes a turn we get 2600 hours played multiplayer, plus countless others in tutorials. (Well, I can count them, but I haven't yet.) Obviously, LT, the MotionPlus, and NBA2K* geometrically exceed that in terms of hours played, but 2600 hours is still a heavy number---hard to say, no, no one liked that game.

2. LGGWG was too damn hard to play. The end-game multiplayer was rich and nuanced, sure, but oh, what a learning curve. The give-orders, see-orders executed later thing works for veteran wargamers with analytical minds, but it's just a bit too much like programming for it to be easy to grasp. When I was designing the controls, I was sacrificing clarity for control and complexity, but I'm pretty sure there's a better local minimum out there. Next wargame will have a completely modal interface so you can figure it out just by clicking around randomly, EVEN AT THE COST OF GAMEPLAY.

3. Single player, for Odin's sake. It was clear a lot of people liked the game and the format, but were overwhelmed by joining the multiplayer free-for-all. Unfortunately, LGGWG is a little slow-paced played at speed against RoboBot, and the tutorials were too predictable---not enough exploration, not enough variety. Once you got past those first three tutorials, I think the remaining ones were meaty and interesting, but if I were to start over, I would start with the single player content immediately with an engineering eye towards supporting multiplayer, rather than trying to graft a single-player campaign onto an essentially multiplayer experience.

Plus, then I could sell the single player experience to single-players and widen my audience significantly.

4. People on the Internet are terrified of failure. Nearly every game of NewTown with anonymous newbies started with a bunch of apologies---oh, I just started, woo you're gonna beat me, blah blah. I knew that they were setting expectations so they could leave the game with their pride, but it was a clue that I needed some more gentle way of introducing newbies to the game.

OK, enough for tonight. I'll post more post-game analysis later.

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