Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by nikivdd » Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:41 am

Years i played Panzer General and i can say the same for Panzer Corps. I guess i am hooked up to the 2D gameplay and i am hesitant to change. I tried the 3D versions of Panzer General but they could never please me, graphic wise it had no appeal.
I still give PzC2 the benefit of the doubt though, since there is still a lot of ground to cover. I can only make a verdict once we are able to try the beta. The only thing i really don't wish for at the moment is that AI turns would take considerably longer. I have experienced this with OOB, that is actually the main reason that i gave up.
I understand that creating a game costs time and money and that the end product must generate revenue but not at the cost of the original concepts what made PzC so great.
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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by guille1434 » Thu Jul 26, 2018 1:18 pm

The same happened to me and OOB (I tried the free training campaign). The game was good, but it had not the same "hook" for me that I felt when I started playing Panzer Corps, a game which made me feel right in the "Panzer General House" again. In Order of Battle, the little soldiers fired at each other, tossed grenades, the tank icons left thread marks on the ground, etc... but nothing of this made for me a difference. For me, that game had not "the touch" and I was not hooked to it. It was not a bad game at all, but it had not, in my case, the "magic" of Panzer Corps.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Intenso82 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:49 pm

Interesting discussion.
I understand almost all the reasons for criticism of PZC2,
but you need to draw conclusions is only after watching the video of gameplay.
A few incomplete screenshots are not enough for this.

At the same time, based on my sense and available to me public data (obviously incomplete) and using predictive analysis :)
I can say that before Steam closed the statistics on the games OOB had more installations than PZC.
Is it possible to say that the 3D game is more profitable? Maybe (there's still a free version). Rather yes. But definitely, now 3D game has more players (installs) than 2D. It is a fact.

It seems all right for 3D. This game has more potential and commercial success than 2D.
But does that mean that the player in 3D OOB spends more time in the game?
Absolutely not.
Even now, PZC's audience is twice as many as the number of players per day than in OOB.
And the average time spent by the player in the PZC game is 77 hours , against about 5 hours in the OOB. 15 times more! Interesting data :)

OK. Let's introduce one more metric.
Number of posts on the forum in the thread:
- OOB (total of 27,900 posts) - in Scenario Design about 5500. This is 20%.
- PZC (total 108,100 posts)- in Scenario Design about 38,000. This is 35%.
It turns out that Moding in PZC1 is almost 2 times more active in relative numbers. And almost 6 times more in absolute.

Why is that?
It would seem that the editor in the OOB has a more advanced system of triggers.
Maybe the reason is that in a 3D game - Scenario Design is more about creating custom scenario.
And in PZC this is about a complete modding. And the main thing(!) Is the ability to add your own units.
Those the ability to easily add your units is of such great importance for modding!
And it only works when it's easily available to players.
Pay attention to this. :) This is indicated by the statistics.
McGuba wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:44 pm
Therefore I would also like to suggest to at least consider making a 2D option in which the new 3D units would appear over the terrain in pretty much the same way (view angle, zoom level etc.) as they do in PzC1 to make everyone happy.
It seems in the Strategic Command was an option to use "pseudo-3D" units and 2D-counters icons as units.
Then it seems there was a mod with icons from PZC.
On the other hand, in the case of PZC2, the situation may be opposite to that in PG3D.
When the map is 3D and the units are 2D. :)

As for modding, now I see only one problem with the creation of 3D images for units.
In the official announcement of PZC2 it was stated that there will be about 450 units.
But only in one my mod different types of units about 1000 and it's only for the Axis and Soviets (without Britain and US).
And in other mods such as the McGuba BE mod and others, much more.

Although, in my opinion, global mods goes beyond common mods, because it should be separate big games :)
But to do something like that, you need someone who has such expertise,
because you can read one book about one battle. But in a global game, one must have an idea of ​​everything at once.
What requires hundreds of hours of research and hundreds of sources. And the years that such a person appeared. :)

Also, given the time spent by the player in the game, for example, only the passage time of the McGuba BE mod is about 100 hours of gameplay.
And all the official PZC content (the original campaign + GC + DLC), according to my rough estimates, takes about 200 hours.
It's worth adding that if a person plays in one mod, then he starts plays all others mods too. :)
Also, players can re-pass the mods when new versions are released, for example, BE mod, each new version (annually or more often) adds + 100 hours of gameplay to overall player time spend in PZC.

Also, it is impossible not to leave without attention that,
that now the locomotive of modern games is MP. And this requires 3D.
And probably the main effort will be directed there.

Those if estimate (my score) the amount of time spent by all players in the game, then in PZC1 it can be:
as 20% of the main game, 40% of the game in different mods, 40% multiplayer.

Given the above example of modding in 3D game OOB. Can predict that in PZC2 modding will be 20% and multiplayer will 60% of time.
But will the average time spent in the game in PZC2 over PZC1 be exceeded?

I do not know how to make it so everyone is happy, but it seems that Apple did such a trick,
when it released in the old design (iphone case) a new hardware inside. :mrgreen:
Maybe might think that for fans of PZC1 to do the same thing and make special an extended version of PZC1 with new traits, improved AI and new features ...

Guys! Do you imagine how difficult it is for some people to just perceive 3D on the screen? Any 3D.
For them, in view of their perception, this is like a multi-colored kaleidoscope in which it is simply impossible to control! And they can not concentrate.
Again, this is not for everyone, but there are such people.

These are just some observations and statistics, I hope someone can find it curious.
Comments are welcome :)
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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by edahl1980 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:34 pm

ptje63 wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 9:21 am
I agree with prolines argument that pg, pc etc are boardgames not wargames - and these games all go back to the checkers and chess (and several more ancient 1000s year old strategy games) - like I mentioned before in other posts. Now- some things in life must change and progress, and will change dramatically. Other things just must stay the same - just fundamental reasoning. Going 3d WILL find you a new audience - but will lose you the same amount (but I guess more).
What I mean, is the strength of a boardgame lies in its simplicity. I still play The Grandest Fleet!!! Despite all ita shortcomings I still love it.
If you feel 3D is the way to go, then make sure none of the graphics are distracting or disturbing from that basic gameplay joy. And make sure it is moddable: it is the time and effort of all modders that will extend the game's lifespan for many many years after which the original game would have been "dead".
I think thats the case.
PC2 is coming for us to spend money. 3D is included for todays audience to spend money.
The game itself will be abandonware within 2 years. Not offically of course.

As i said earlier. Jurassic world evolution is a good example of good graphics. But it didnt take long to realize that t-rex animation is the same everytime the rex munch a person. The person tremble and you know whats coming. Looks good in a trailer though.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by McGuba » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:58 pm

These are some nice statistics Intenso, thanks for taking the time to collect and sharing them with us.
Intenso82 wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:49 pm
I can say that before Steam closed the statistics on the games OOB had more installations than PZC.
Is it possible to say that the 3D game is more profitable? Maybe (there's still a free version). Rather yes. But definitely, now 3D game has more players (installs) than 2D. It is a fact.
It might be true, but we must not forget that PzC was released in 2011 and it only entered Steam in 2014. A lot of players (I would even dare to say the majority) bought and installed the pre-Steam version of PzC prior to 2014 (including me - I purchased a physical copy) and these are not included in those Steam statistics. So according to the publicly available Steam data we cannot decide which of these two games was sold more. Probably we will never know but I think PzC has been more successful financially than OOB and these statistics (number of posts in the two forums, activity, etc.) seem to support this assumption.

And there is another factor: a lot of people bought OOB because they saw it as a "spiritual successor" :wink: of PzC. The undisputed success of PzC generated a lot of attention for OOB as well. But again, your statistics seem to suggest that even if a lot of players tried OOB, partly because they liked PzC so much, many of them returned to the "obsolete" 2D PzC instead.

Maybe might think that for fans of PZC1 to do the same thing and make special an extended version of PZC1 with new traits, improved AI and new features ...
Altough I would support it 100%, I think it is very unlikely. PzC had reached the end of its lifespan from a commercial point of view. Improved AI, traits, etc. and other extensive changes would potentially break the balance of the existing official campaigns so those should be remade/retested as well. Which costs money and time and it is at least questionable if it would be profitable in the end.

Nevertheless, of course I would more than welcome another update for PzC. Especially the increase of the number of AI zones (which would not break the balance of the existing campaigns). :D
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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by guille1434 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:35 pm

McGuba wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:58 pm
These are some nice statistics Intenso, thanks for taking the time to collect and sharing them with us.

Maybe might think that for fans of PZC1 to do the same thing and make special an extended version of PZC1 with new traits, improved AI and new features ...
Altough I would support it 100%, I think it is very unlikely. PzC had reached the end of its lifespan from a commercial point of view. Improved AI, traits, etc. and other extensive changes would potentially break the balance of the existing official campaigns so those should be remade/retested as well. Which costs money and time and it is at least questionable if it would be profitable in the end.

Nevertheless, of course I would more than welcome another update for PzC. Especially the increase of the number of AI zones (which would not break the balance of the existing campaigns). :D
I also say thanks to Intenso for sharing that interesting data... Those numbers seem to show that Panzer Corps was a bigger sales success than Order of Battle. So, in that case the "addictive factor" was not on a par with 3D graphics... Again, I think there is no sense in asking for a 2D PzCorps 2... "You can´t make the clock to turn backwards..."

But I am 1000% on with McGuba proposal: To release some new .exe files, just like the v1.31 one with some improvements, and to give the necessary compensation to the people making them to charge those updates. As I said, I will gladly pay for them...

Imagine what could be achieved by McGuba, for example, with his super-mod Battlefield Europe if more AI zones can be added to the game!!
People at Slitherine: That guy is a real modding artist, and he surely deserves it, and who knows may be you will be selling some more copies of good old PzCorps1 just to people wanting to try his mod with the new features.

No hurry to do this now, I would wait after PzCorps 2 is released and then, may be, the developers can invest some time in improving PzCorps 1. Also, I would not be asking for big modifications to the basic game concept and engine, but some little details that would give some new lifespan to the game, some of which could surely be made available without a lot of programming work.

I hope Rudankort or any other of the development team read this (I am sure they will) and drop a comment about this topic.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm

McGuba wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:44 pm
OK, so finally I have decided to have a word here as I do not think it is fair that proline has to bear brunt of this debate when he is obviously not alone with his opinion. There have been several other guys who have also made similar claims regarding the look and especially the 3D nature of PzC 2 and I must confess that I share this opinion.
This should not be proline vs. Slitherine. And I am pretty sure that we all love Panzer Corps and we all wish the best for the next installment and this supposed criticism is a constructive one which is aimed at making the best out of it.
Hi Istvan! Welcome to Panzer Corps 2 bashing thread. :) I appreciate all feedback you guys are giving, but if I may give a small suggestion, I suggest to forget about the underlying technology for a second, and just concentrate on specific issues you see, like: "the graphics looks blurry and less crisp than Panzer Corps", or "the units are hard to tell from the terrain". This way, I'll have much better chance to address your concerns and actually make the game more appealing to hardcore fans of the series. Who knows? Maybe the primary game view will become quite acceptable in the end, and you won't need to switch to an alternative 2D mode, after all.
McGuba wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:44 pm
Therefore I would also like to suggest to at least consider making a 2D option in which the new 3D units would appear over the terrain in pretty much the same way (view angle, zoom level etc.) as they do in PzC1 to make everyone happy. I am not into technical stuff too much and I am not sure if it is possible or not, but I do not really see why it would not be.
"Panzer" games always had an option to display "strategic map", and Panzer Corps 2 will have it too. How exactly it will look is not fixed yet, and it might be a good idea to implement something more "2D-like" for this mode. This is certainly doable, but note that this will only address graphics concerns to some extent, but not the other issues related to our move to 3D. In particular, it will not enable the game to run on ancient hardware, and will not make the modding any easier.
McGuba wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:44 pm
It looks like a large portion of the hard core players of PzC are mature people and many of us share a dislike of 3D graphics in a wargame like this for the reasons described the previous posts. And it is a question if the new players will stay with it long enough to purchase the potential DLCs as this genre might just not appeal to todays' younger generation who seemingly prefer instant action and easy victories to thorough thinking and potential failures. Which might mean a risk from the profitability side as well.
I agree with you that going 3D was a risky decision, but staying 2D was also a risk. Nobody knows which risk was "riskier". But going with 3D certainly looked more future proof. As Panzer Corps experience shows, a game like this can have a really long time span.

I wonder why you guys are so sceptical about the "younger generation"? I mean hey, the majority of them are probably like you describe, but we are talking about tens of millions of people. If only 0.01% of them prefer "thinking and potential failures", it is huge. Civ 5 sold 10 million of copies, and that game is far more complex than Panzer Corps. And yes, I know for a fact that our vibrant Panzer Corps community includes some pretty young people. Some of them have released very good and popular mods. Go figure!
McGuba wrote:
Wed Jul 25, 2018 11:44 pm
If PzC2 goes full 3D most of this will be in question. Although we do not know much about modding, I guess it will still be possible to make custom scenarios, but adding custom units in 3D requires special skills which not many modders have. In the end I predict there will be much less mods being made for PzC2 "3D" which will shorten its lifespan and again reduce the revenues. Does it really worth the risk?
Just so you know, we are making some steps to enable really big maps in Panzer Corps 2. Guess which mod I had in mind when I gave this task to graphics team? :)

Modding of Panzer Corps 2 will not be more difficult per se, but adding a new unit will require 3D modeling skills instead of raster graphics skills. Once again, it is hard to predict what will happen. Even Panzer General 3D was modded, and nowadays, almost 20 years later, there are far more people who have the required skills and software. And modding community does not need many people creating units, as long as they share there work with others. As we have seen, Panzer Corps community has created some pretty cool software tools, and programming is also a difficult skill, on par with 3D modelling. So, people doing 3D units is a possibility. And we'll do our best to provide the right tools, tutorials and help from our end.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:57 pm

guille1434 wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:45 am
Hey, hehe, it's me again here after a long time...
Hi Guillermo! You are very welcome in this thread too. :)
guille1434 wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:45 am
Bottom line: I have faith in that this game developers team will be able to surprise us with a good product. True, I don't like very much the game screenshots published at present (but I think this will improve), but if the "content" of the game is good enough I would buy it, as a means of expressing my support to this company and trying the game. But what I would like to ask to the developers is that, if possible, AFTER the first release, and some expansions, patches, whatever is needed to reach the "breaking point" in revenues and you have collected enough money to go on some other projects (a really well made, fully moddable, with enormous maps remake of M.A.X. may I ask??) to release a patch, a new exe. or whatever necessary to be able to use the graphics (maps and icons mainly, no need to remake all the units graphics again, you can re-use the ones of the present day PzCorps "vanilla" game) of PzCorps 1 with the new game engine. I spent a lifetime making new units to try to improve PzCorps, and I will be doing so for the time being, so it would very sad not to be able to use it in a new good game released by the same company. I'm sure I will not start over again, and I am almost sure I will not be able to make 3D graphics... So, goodbye unit modding for this new game, which is, for me a lot of fun :-(
The only comment I can do about it is, the units and all the other artwork in Panzer Corps are owned by The Lordz Games Studio, and I have no legal right to use them in Panzer Corps 2. It might be possible to find a solution to this problem, but it is certainly not as easy as it might seem. Let us wait how the new game turns out, and then we can revisit this discussion. The thing is, even if such an alternative EXE is created, there is no guarantee that the majority of players will use it. And mods created using legacy units will only work with this EXE. Which can significantly reduce potential audience of these mods and fragment the community.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by guille1434 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:28 am

Hello Alex! Thanks for taking the time to give an answer to my comments. I think you are right, when company rights are involved, one should be careful... Anyway you can release that "alternative" .exe using just placeholders for unit icons or very simple ones (may be something like Nato style symbols) and I am sure the fan community will be filling the gaps with newly created icons.

Of course, as I already told, this idea has to be evaluated some time after the game is released, I totally agree with you here. This idea is not for the immediate future. And yes, I suppose it will be unavoidable that you will have mods that can be only used with the alternative .exe, but anyone can have two installations of the same game, if interested in doing so, and trying the "legacy units" mod or mods... I would think of it as a "total conversion" mod... A PzCorps2 engine with the looks of PzCorps 1.

Also, I am all in with the possibility of making PzCorps 2 engine able to support "really big" maps! If you make the unit graphics and map background looks right enough, I am sure that I will love this new game!

Anyway, it is a little early to talk about this alternative .exe files, as the game is not released yet... :-) But just an idea I wanted to share... Thanks, and keep it up!!

PS: Only when you and your team releases the game, and have less workload on you... Would you consider to release a new, detail improved .exe for PzCorps1 (nothing that requires a total redesign of the game code, of course), just the way you did when released v1.31, but not for free, (I think it would be right to charge something for that/those improvement as any work should be paid)? It would be a blast, for example, to give more AI zones to the game! Please, don't let PzCorps 1 die of old age! 8)

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:32 am

proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
You refer to PzC as a war-game, but first and foremost it's a board game. Here's how the timeless and enduring board game chess is depicted:
Well, for me Panzer Corps was always a video game, which belongs to "strategy" genre and "wargame" sub-genre. People play this game on their PCs only. They don't need to physically move units on the game board, roll dice and do many other things which directly affect boardgame design and ergonomics. For example, even though 2D chess diagrams are understandably popular, the classic chess board is still the golden standard, and that's how all significant chess tournaments are played. I think that ergonomics plays an important part here: classic chess pieces are easier to move by hand, and both players see all pieces (except knights) the same way. With 2D diagram either you or your opponent would see pieces "upside down".

So yeah, board games obviously have their own, unique design considerations which video games do not have. What do we gain by calling Panzer Corps a boardgame? How does it help us to make it a better video game experience? Why cannot we compare it to other strategies, which are much more similar to it than chess?
proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
Then use vector art so that the assets can be rendered at a suitable size for the display on which they are displayed.
There are many reasons why vector art is not necessarily a good alternative. It is more difficult to create, slower to render, and if you unpack it into memory for optimization, you will lose the memory benefit. Although in theory you can scale it any way you want, at a certain size it will begin to look cartoonish.

But let's imagine for a second that we solved all these issues and chose this approach for Panzer Corps 2. Two more problems instantly appear.

1. Vector art does not solve the fundamental problem of combinatorial explosion which is inherent to all 2D graphics. The numbers I've given in my previous message were just examples. At this time, Panzer Corps 2 has 3 locations (maybe there will be more), 4 seasons, 6 weather types and 4 ground states. All combinations of these factors render differently. This gives you 3*4*6*4=288 possible map styles. To reproduce this with 2D tiles and sprites, you would need 288 full-blown tilesets! I've told this before, and I'll repeat it again: it is only a matter of time before you hit the wall with 2D.

2. Vector art is obviously very different to Panzer Corps' raster graphics. Even if we provided some legacy mode which could display raster sprites for units instead of vector images, the sprites would not scale as well, and would look blurry and alien in the game. How would the modding community solve this problem? Would they redo all units in vector? Or accept the fact that their mods will look inferior and much fewer people would want to play their mods? Or would they just say that vector art was a really bad idea, the game did not need it, and they would rather stay with Panzer Corps which is completely adequate to their needs? You see, I'm not convinced that it is really 3D which is such a big problem. People "entrenched" in a game are naturally opposed to any serious changes in it.
proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
Nobody asked for unit orientations. They add little to the game and left/right is fine.
You most certainly did not. But other people did. :)
proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
I shudder to think how much time you spend on combat animations. Yeah, they'll look kind of cool in the demo video but 5 minutes later who cares? That's exactly what I mean by marketing driven stuff.
Yes, I can certainly agree with that. Doing beautiful art and animation is not easy. But you seem to be constantly searching for some evil schemes of bad marketing people, when reality is not like that at all.

Let's put it this way. I firmly believe that any developer needs to create games which he enjoys personally and which he is proud of. Trying to please the fans by going against your own judgement is never a good idea. For me video games, just like other types of media, are a form of art, and I'm convinced that a good game must not only play good, but also look good and sound good. I think that Panzer Corps did look and sound great, within its budget and technological limitations, and I will approach Panzer Corps 2 in the same way. I'm sorry if this does not match your own priorities, and you would rather have NATO counters over a 2D black and white map. ;) But let's not drag evil marketing into equation.
proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
Of course we want you to expand your audience. I want you to be able to afford to continue developing the game. But expanding the audience isn't guaranteed. Your core audience is quite happy with PzC and isn't guaranteed to go along with anything you do- we can just stick to PzC. Meanwhile nobody knows for sure that some graphics tweaks will accomplish much to bring in new blood. PG2 and PG3 didn't expand SSI's audience, they ushered in a long dark age for this game that people who enjoy the game don't want to repeat.
I understand that you guys are cautious about another "dark age", and I would not want that to repeat either. But I also don't want this style of gameplay to remain niche. I believe that the simplicity and beauty of this game's design can appeal to many more people. I know it is risky, but damn, I need to try. If I fail - well... I will just hope that someone else will manage it. But in the mean time - you guys could at least try to help me, instead of persuading me and others that I will NEVER succeed... :P
proline wrote:
Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:03 am
Some of your previous attempts to expand your audience have failed and sullied your reputation. For example, the deplorable macOS version that was abandoned after just one minor update remains a buggy mess. It won't bring any new people to the game even though it might with a week or two's work. The macOS version demonstrates that Slitherine is willing to release a game in a state of crap and then not fix it. That kind of behavior doesn't engender trust, nor should it.
I'm certainly not ideal and did wrong things in the past, although for the record Flashback Games was not involved in macOS port, it is based on a proprietary technology, and I don't even have access to its sources in order to try and fix things myself. It is debatable if it was better to release this version or none at all, and it was an experiment to begin with, but we never hoped to expand our audience this way. The idea was to allow Mac people to play the game on their primary platform without emulation/booting under Windows.

The good news is, Panzer Corps 2 is developed in a cross-platform manner, so when time comes for ports, we will be much better set.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by proline » Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:27 am

Rudankort wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:32 am
I understand that you guys are cautious about another "dark age", and I would not want that to repeat either. But I also don't want this style of gameplay to remain niche. I believe that the simplicity and beauty of this game's design can appeal to many more people. I know it is risky, but damn, I need to try.
This comment speaks not only to me but the various people who've expressed skepticism about younger people picking up PzC. Here's the thing- Panzer General / Corps does not have "simplicity". Not even close. Instead it has a super steep learning curve you have to climb a good part of the way up before you can have any fun at all. The combat equation is several hundred lines of code and if you don't fully understand it you can't play PzC well. You can't even play it poorly and have fun. If you, a novice, just pick up this game and start playing your units will unpredictably die for all sorts of frustrating reasons that aren't transparent to the user if you haven't read the whole manual. How come my tank demolished that infantry but the next infantry I attacked demolished my tank? How come sometimes repeating the exact same combat produces different outcomes? How come KV-1s are the bane of my existence in the GC but when I bought a brand new one in Soviet Corps it just died? Furthermore, understanding the map is really hard. At first the units don't really stand out, and it's hard to know which unit is for which faction (the color coding isn't as obvious as seasoned players think). It's hard to know if a unit is a tank or anti-tank or recon or armored transport without extra clicks and the game isn't very fun until you've basically committed the whole unit list to memory.

Now how have you addressed these problems? You've added new game rules that add to all the existing ones. I'll enjoy some of them myself, but they won't help anyone new pick the game up that's for sure. You've forced the user to either identify units by the hair on the tops of their heads or view the board from oblique angles where distances are distorted and where one unit can block your view of another and where aircraft (or their shadows) can appear superimposed on a hex different from the one they actually occupy. So the visual processing you're asking for is more than ever.

Basically, to expand the audience you have to make the game easier to pick up and learn. Fewer hidden mechanics, more ways of managing visual overload, maybe learner modes or levels that introduce the rules more gradually, etc. Many of us learned PG back in the 90s when there was a lot less competition. Back then games cost $50 so you could only buy a new one every so often and you had to stick with it if you bought it. Now tons of games are free. The Mac also had very few games, but shipped with Allied General so there was a captive audience for a few years. There were a lot fewer real time games vs turn based and gamers were used to playing physical turn based board games (which you apparently don't want to compare PzC to even though that's what it is and that's the audience it serves). You've got your work cut out for you to reach new gamers and 3D doesn't solve the main issue of making the game easier to enjoy as a novice. In fact it makes it so much worse.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:23 am

proline wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:27 am
This comment speaks not only to me but the various people who've expressed skepticism about younger people picking up PzC. Here's the thing- Panzer General / Corps does not have "simplicity". Not even close. Instead it has a super steep learning curve you have to climb a good part of the way up before you can have any fun at all. The combat equation is several hundred lines of code and if you don't fully understand it you can't play PzC well. You can't even play it poorly and have fun. If you, a novice, just pick up this game and start playing your units will unpredictably die for all sorts of frustrating reasons that aren't transparent to the user if you haven't read the whole manual. How come my tank demolished that infantry but the next infantry I attacked demolished my tank? How come sometimes repeating the exact same combat produces different outcomes? How come KV-1s are the bane of my existence in the GC but when I bought a brand new one in Soviet Corps it just died? Furthermore, understanding the map is really hard. At first the units don't really stand out, and it's hard to know which unit is for which faction (the color coding isn't as obvious as seasoned players think). It's hard to know if a unit is a tank or anti-tank or recon or armored transport without extra clicks and the game isn't very fun until you've basically committed the whole unit list to memory.
Panzer General / Corps does have "simplicity". This is my opinion, but it seems to be shared by many people in the industry. It has been widely characterized as "beer and pretzel" wargame by players and press alike, which by definition means easier and more casual-friendly games. Or here is a quote from Computer Games Strategy Plus:

In the years to come, computer wargamers may divide the world into two epochs, Before Panzer General, and After. Before Panzer General, wargames were supposed to be complex, intimidating things, accessible only by the anointed few, the grognards, veterans of decades of board gaming and masters of military arcana. SSI's Panzer General, however, shattered that view, with excellent graphics and animation, and sheer fun that drew in grizzled campaigners as well as green novices. Not surprisingly, there seems to be a rush now towards kindlier, gentler wargames.

Although it was long ago, I remember my learning curve with Panzer General very precisely (I was like 16 years old at the time, with zero boardgame experience). Many of its rules are actually very intuitive, like the roles of classes, defensive fire mechanics etc. The only difficult thing to grasp for me was close terrain. I remember how I bought my first Panzer IV with its huge soft attack rating, but very often it failed miserably against infantry, and I was wondering why. I mean hey, it is fine when your units have a lot of stats, but these stats need to make sense. After figuring this out, all the rest was straightforward.

I'm curious what other players reading this topic feel. Is Panzer Corps really that complex to you guys?
proline wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 6:27 am
Now how have you addressed these problems? You've added new game rules that add to all the existing ones. I'll enjoy some of them myself, but they won't help anyone new pick the game up that's for sure.
Well actually, Panzer Corps made many steps to help people learn the game. It had a pretty good tutorial, combat log screen, and things like different unit classes, stats, weather and ground states etc. were explained directly in game. Panzer Corps 2 will have further improved tutorial and user interface, and all game rules and unit's special abilities will be shown directly in the UI from day 1 (Panzer Corps only did it long after the initial release). Combat log will of course also be included, and will be more discoverable (in PzC you needed to rely on hotkeys, which are harder to find). People learn by example, and when you can easily see what happened in each particular combat, it does not matter any more how many lines of code combat logic has. Very soon you see clear patterns in what's going on.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sun Jul 29, 2018 11:43 am

Intenso82 wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:49 pm
Interesting discussion.
Hi Intenso, thanks for interesting post. Although I believe that every game succeeds or fails based on its own merit, and comparing to other games is not very useful, it is always interesting to look at statistics and try to understand what stands behind the numbers. In case of OOB, I'm pretty sure that it's "free to play" model explains both big number of installations and low average time spent in the game. People install the game to try it, and if they don't like it, they stop playing very quickly, but it remains in their account. But some other numbers are more hard to explain. For example, it seems to be a general trend that the number of posts in this forum is declining. It is true for all games across the board, even very successful ones. Nobody knows for sure why it is happening.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by McGuba » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm

Rudankort wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm
Welcome to Panzer Corps 2 bashing thread. :)
I do hope that it is not about bashing something that has not even been born. Like I wrote we all wish that PzC2 will be a big success and we are only explaining our concerns. And even if it feels a bit like bashing to you, which I understand is an unpleasent feeling after putting a lot of effort into creating it, I think it is still better to have it "bashed" by a few old PG/PzC maniacs now than to have it bashed for real by the market after its release.

Rudankort wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm
I appreciate all feedback you guys are giving, but if I may give a small suggestion, I suggest to forget about the underlying technology for a second, and just concentrate on specific issues you see, like: "the graphics looks blurry and less crisp than Panzer Corps", or "the units are hard to tell from the terrain". This way, I'll have much better chance to address your concerns and actually make the game more appealing to hardcore fans of the series. Who knows? Maybe the primary game view will become quite acceptable in the end, and you won't need to switch to an alternative 2D mode, after all.
OK, so here you go from my side then:
- There is not enough colour variation, at least the "summer" (I guess that's what we see) season tiles are just too greenish and somehow boring. The same looks way more crisp, contrasted, and colourful in PzC.
- Though I know it is unfinished, the "infantry standin" looks weird and just way too big compared to the other units. I think I would prefer to see unit classes better scaled in propotion to each other. Maybe you could start a poll or something like that and ask the opinion of the community in this regard? :wink: Since it is 3D, maybe the scaling of the units could be made optional and then players can decide how they want to see them.
- The shadows look horrible at the moment
- The second posted and zoomed in screenshot looks much more crisp but here the huge towering infantry is even more confusing, especially compared to the AT and the ships. You might want to consider adding crews to AT and AA guns, towed artillery and stuff like that. Then, when they fire in a nice animation it would not be so weird to see them firing on their own.

Rudankort wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm
"Panzer" games always had an option to display "strategic map", and Panzer Corps 2 will have it too. How exactly it will look is not fixed yet, and it might be a good idea to implement something more "2D-like" for this mode. This is certainly doable, but note that this will only address graphics concerns to some extent, but not the other issues related to our move to 3D. In particular, it will not enable the game to run on ancient hardware, and will not make the modding any easier.
I mean an optional 2D mode for not only the "strategic map" mode but for the "normal" tactical view as well. This would solve the original issue explained by proline in his opening post i.e. to present the units and the map from slightly different angles as in PzC and other 2D games: a more or less top down map as we can see in the 1st presented screenshot of PzC2 or as we see in PzC1, with units presented from a more or less 45 degree view angle as in PzC1 or in the 2nd presented screenshot of PzC2. This would help to understand the actual situation at a glance without the need to constantly tilt the view angle and thus would also speed up gameplay. In this case units may not need 6 orientations, only 2 would do as in PzC1 with similar limited animations, if any at all. The game would take the necessary unit graphics from the 3D renders, but these could be potentially replaced by 2D sprites in 2D mode so that custom made 2D units could be used as well. In the latter case, in 3D mode the game would still use standard 3D units in their place, which would be of course different. So basically custom made 2D units would only be presented correctly in this 2D mode. This would definitely make modding easier as modders would only need to add 2D sprites as in PzC1. The obvious compromise is that these would only be compatible with the 2D mode of the game, but I think the majority of the modders and many of those who use mods here would be happy to accept this compromise.

I think the need to run PzC2 on ancient hardware is not a requirement by us, "Old salts". Only because we started playing this genre in the mid 90's does not necessarily mean that we all use an Intel 286 PC today. :D

Rudankort wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm
I wonder why you guys are so sceptical about the "younger generation"? I mean hey, the majority of them are probably like you describe, but we are talking about tens of millions of people. If only 0.01% of them prefer "thinking and potential failures", it is huge. Civ 5 sold 10 million of copies, and that game is far more complex than Panzer Corps. And yes, I know for a fact that our vibrant Panzer Corps community includes some pretty young people. Some of them have released very good and popular mods. Go figure!
I agree that there is some truth in what you wrote here. The market does have reserves, however, the competition is also much larger than it was even just a few years earlier. And comparing Civ 5 to PzC2 might not be entirely fair. The Civ series is an ongoing success for decades and has been backed by huge companies with all their "marketing people" ever since. In comparison PzC was made and advertised at a much smaller scale and altough it indeed continues another successful title, it does so after many years of hiatus. Therefore there is a marked difference between the two groups of players of PzC: those who already played PG in the 90's and those who only joined this community in 2011 or after. By the way, I think it would be very interesting to start a poll on this as well, to try to figure out which group is in the majority.

Rudankort wrote:
Sat Jul 28, 2018 11:44 pm
Just so you know, we are making some steps to enable really big maps in Panzer Corps 2. Guess which mod I had in mind when I gave this task to graphics team?
Which of course I do appreciate! :D However, as it stands now, and it will require 3D modelling skills to add full 3D units to PzC2 I doubt that I would do the same again. My Battlefield: Europe mod is more than just a big map scenario. The large selection of custom units is just as important and crucial in it. Official PzC did not do a great job in adding all those special units of the minor nations and in my mod I largely managed to fix it. But it was only possible thanks to the large number of custom 2D unit icons made by the community and me. As you wrote it is hard to predict what will happen with 3D, but if there was a possibility of adding 2D units somehow it is almost certain that many would be added to PzC2, too.

Rudankor wrote wrote:I'm curious what other players reading this topic feel. Is Panzer Corps really that complex to you guys?
No, I do not really think it is complex, however, it is one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" type games. And even it if is regarded easy by many of us, it can be still too hard and time consuming for many young players. People are changing.

Rudankor wrote wrote:For example, it seems to be a general trend that the number of posts in this forum is declining. It is true for all games across the board, even very successful ones. Nobody knows for sure why it is happening.
As for PzC it is clearly nearing the end of its lifespan. Mainly due to being 7 years old, but also due to no more official DLCs released for a while. Maybe releasing another PanzerCorps.exe with some updates (e.g. more AI zones :wink: ) or adding Steam workshop to it as requested by many would breath a new life to it and would expand its lifespan as it would provide better access to the complex mods. In 2014 Ian wrote workshop was too early and maybe later. Then, since 2017 he has been writing that now it is too late. :oops:
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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by nikivdd » Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:33 pm

Panzer Corps is not all that complex and it should stay that way. Wargames with a more in depth management try my patience which i don't have in abundance. I am but interested in the tactics to win the scenario, planning moves and attack; the (hard) choice which new unit(s) to purchase and which ones to deploy on the field of battle. And naturally, an easy to use scenario editor ;)
PzC 2 can be expanded with some new stuff like the "overrun" or special rewarded traits but there should be an on/off switch in the game settings.
I am fond of and forwarding the idea that core slots made available for ground and air assets seperately.
I think i can speak for others as well that it is hugely appreciated that Alex is reading our posts and taking our ideas to heart, but he shouldn't hesitate to surprise us as well.
Perhaps Panzer Corps 2 will win me over in a 3D environment as long as the graphics don't give me a headache as in Civ VI and depending on the system requirements.
I have no intention to even learn how to create 3D model units for the game, i have no graphical skills. I will confine myself to the 450 vanilla units if i ever decide to create custom campaigns :)
https://www.facebook.com/NikivddPanzerCorps/
https://www.youtube.com/user/Nikivdd1/videos?shelf_id=0&view=0&sort=dd

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by Rudankort » Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:09 pm

McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
I do hope that it is not about bashing something that has not even been born. Like I wrote we all wish that PzC2 will be a big success and we are only explaining our concerns. And even if it feels a bit like bashing to you, which I understand is an unpleasent feeling after putting a lot of effort into creating it, I think it is still better to have it "bashed" by a few old PG/PzC maniacs now than to have it bashed for real by the market after its release.
From the beginning, the premise of this topic has been that, at least graphically, Panzer Corps 2 cannot be good "by definition", no matter what our team does. If you subscribe to this view, then it becomes kinda difficult to give constructive feedback. This is why I called it "bashing", although I feel that in reality your opinion is not as black and white as that. This is exactly the reason why I participate in this topic. ;)
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
OK, so here you go from my side then:
- There is not enough colour variation, at least the "summer" (I guess that's what we see) season tiles are just too greenish and somehow boring. The same looks way more crisp, contrasted, and colourful in PzC.
- Though I know it is unfinished, the "infantry standin" looks weird and just way too big compared to the other units. I think I would prefer to see unit classes better scaled in propotion to each other. Maybe you could start a poll or something like that and ask the opinion of the community in this regard? :wink: Since it is 3D, maybe the scaling of the units could be made optional and then players can decide how they want to see them.
- The shadows look horrible at the moment
- The second posted and zoomed in screenshot looks much more crisp but here the huge towering infantry is even more confusing, especially compared to the AT and the ships. You might want to consider adding crews to AT and AA guns, towed artillery and stuff like that. Then, when they fire in a nice animation it would not be so weird to see them firing on their own.
Now, this has been perfect feedback, thank you. Big thumbs up. We need more feedback like this.
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
I mean an optional 2D mode for not only the "strategic map" mode but for the "normal" tactical view as well. This would solve the original issue explained by proline in his opening post i.e. to present the units and the map from slightly different angles as in PzC and other 2D games: a more or less top down map as we can see in the 1st presented screenshot of PzC2 or as we see in PzC1, with units presented from a more or less 45 degree view angle as in PzC1 or in the 2nd presented screenshot of PzC2. This would help to understand the actual situation at a glance without the need to constantly tilt the view angle and thus would also speed up gameplay. In this case units may not need 6 orientations, only 2 would do as in PzC1 with similar limited animations, if any at all. The game would take the necessary unit graphics from the 3D renders, but these could be potentially replaced by 2D sprites in 2D mode so that custom made 2D units could be used as well. In the latter case, in 3D mode the game would still use standard 3D units in their place, which would be of course different. So basically custom made 2D units would only be presented correctly in this 2D mode. This would definitely make modding easier as modders would only need to add 2D sprites as in PzC1. The obvious compromise is that these would only be compatible with the 2D mode of the game, but I think the majority of the modders and many of those who use mods here would be happy to accept this compromise.
Yes, I understood your idea, but maybe I was not clear enough. What I was saying was, we needed to implement "strategic view" anyway, and we could easily make it zoomable and playable to get what you describe. Just a couple of comments:
- Yes, we can have two orientations with limited animations, as in PzC, but this works best with PzC hex orientation. Then you can make units huge (look at the Maus in the very first screenshot), because their barrel will go along the edge between hexes. With PzC2 hex orientation, it will not be possible to get the same size and clarity of units. Although, Panzer Corps 2 will be a higher resolution game, so maybe this problem will be compensated.
- As I already said, I'm afraid that any mods which only work in "legacy" mode will make the mods much less appealing and popular, and fragment the community. I know that, just like we developers, the modders want their work to be played and enjoyed, so I wonder if we can find some better solutions to potential modding problems. Let us wait and see.
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
I think the need to run PzC2 on ancient hardware is not a requirement by us, "Old salts". Only because we started playing this genre in the mid 90's does not necessarily mean that we all use an Intel 286 PC today. :D
Well, the ability of Panzer Corps to run on very low-specced hardware was very often quoted as one of its advantages, and Panzer Corps 2 will definitely be worse in this respect. But this is probably not a major concern. PzC was released 7 years ago, and video cards, including those built into main processor, are getting better all the time.
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
I agree that there is some truth in what you wrote here. The market does have reserves, however, the competition is also much larger than it was even just a few years earlier. And comparing Civ 5 to PzC2 might not be entirely fair. The Civ series is an ongoing success for decades and has been backed by huge companies with all their "marketing people" ever since. In comparison PzC was made and advertised at a much smaller scale and altough it indeed continues another successful title, it does so after many years of hiatus. Therefore there is a marked difference between the two groups of players of PzC: those who already played PG in the 90's and those who only joined this community in 2011 or after. By the way, I think it would be very interesting to start a poll on this as well, to try to figure out which group is in the majority.
Well I'm not that naive to expect sales numbers similar to Civilization. :) This was just an example to illustrate my point. There is definitely some life left in turn-based games which require you to think. Although Slitherine have also grown significantly since 2011, and with all the recent deals and sales Panzer Corps is now owned and played by a great many people.

Good idea about the poll, although a poll on this board might not be very representative.
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
Which of course I do appreciate! :D However, as it stands now, and it will require 3D modelling skills to add full 3D units to PzC2 I doubt that I would do the same again. My Battlefield: Europe mod is more than just a big map scenario. The large selection of custom units is just as important and crucial in it. Official PzC did not do a great job in adding all those special units of the minor nations and in my mod I largely managed to fix it. But it was only possible thanks to the large number of custom 2D unit icons made by the community and me. As you wrote it is hard to predict what will happen with 3D, but if there was a possibility of adding 2D units somehow it is almost certain that many would be added to PzC2, too.
I understand all this, and I'm not saying that I expect you to recreate your mod again under new system, but some other people might be inspired by your work and create something similar. Also, this time around, we might be able to provide more units ourselves, which will reduce the burden of creating new units by the modding community.

McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
No, I do not really think it is complex, however, it is one of those "easy to learn, hard to master" type games. And even it if is regarded easy by many of us, it can be still too hard and time consuming for many young players. People are changing.
You know, older people have been complaining about "young generation" since ancient times, but in reality things were never that bad. People as spieces are actually changing very slowly, although our environment is changing much faster these days. Still, I believe that the need for intellectual games has not disappeared.
McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
As for PzC it is clearly nearing the end of its lifespan. Mainly due to being 7 years old, but also due to no more official DLCs released for a while. Maybe releasing another PanzerCorps.exe with some updates (e.g. more AI zones :wink: ) or adding Steam workshop to it as requested by many would breath a new life to it and would expand its lifespan as it would provide better access to the complex mods. In 2014 Ian wrote workshop was too early and maybe later. Then, since 2017 he has been writing that now it is too late. :oops:
It is clear why the number of posts in Panzer Corps subforum is declining, but I was talking about the whole Slitherine board and all games listed here. Although there is no doubt that Panzer Corps was a successful game, the number of posts is a poor indication of success of later titles.

In retrospect, I think that we stopped doing content for Panzer Corps too early, but oh well.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by DeMeza » Sun Jul 29, 2018 5:42 pm

Regarding how complex PzC is:

I am a professional Army officer. And PzC isn't easy to play. You have to handle recon, armour, infantry, artillery and engineers. Logistics are played for you, but there are still some basic rules you have to master. And to really succeed, you have to conduct joint operations (air, land and sea).

That being said, we often get saved by the mediocre AI. If the devs implemented delaying action for the AI, we would suddenly have a hard time winning as fast as we do now on some maps.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by hs1611 » Sun Jul 29, 2018 8:43 pm

McGuba wrote:
Sun Jul 29, 2018 12:10 pm
I think the need to run PzC2 on ancient hardware is not a requirement by us, "Old salts". Only because we started playing this genre in the mid 90's does not necessarily mean that we all use an Intel 286 PC today. :D
Of course not. I just upgraded to a Cyrix MII.

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by hugh2711 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:01 am

This is a very interesting thread and despite: "...In retrospect, I think that we stopped doing content for Panzer Corps too early"... (yes, yes , yes :-)
In case no-one else says it;
This level of detailed engagement with the enthusiasts of the game is VERY encouraging and VERY good and I would have to really commend the individuals from the company for doing it. We know alot of companies and individuals would not. So THANK YOU.

[but if it goes wrong I am still going to moan like crazy :-) ]

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Re: Why "3D" Graphics Will Never be Good for PzC

Post by rubyjuno » Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:33 am

hugh2711 wrote:
Mon Jul 30, 2018 10:01 am
This is a very interesting thread and despite: "...In retrospect, I think that we stopped doing content for Panzer Corps too early"... (yes, yes , yes :-)
In case no-one else says it;
This level of detailed engagement with the enthusiasts of the game is VERY encouraging and VERY good and I would have to really commend the individuals from the company for doing it. We know alot of companies and individuals would not. So THANK YOU.
Good point Hugh, respect to Rudankort and any other members of the development team who are willing to take the flak, explain things and put their point across. As you say, many developers wouldn't get involved. Good to see such a lively discussion.

As for "...In retrospect, I think that we stopped doing content for Panzer Corps too early" - can't argue with that :cry:

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