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Thread: The psychology of Total War gamming.

  1. #1
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default The psychology of Total War gamming.

    The psychology of Total War gamming.

    An amateurs attempt.

    I would like to know if you agree or disagree with my observations and opinions, so please read the following statements carefully, and with that in mind.

    There will be a test

    *****

    Total War players basically polarize to either single or multiplayer self descriptions.

    A few are both, and some switch back and forth, but the camps are fairly well separated and distinct at any given time.

    I am writing this to explore the differences between the two, mainly to be able to make suggestions in game design that will be beneficial to both players and designers.

    Basic motivations for the two groups, at least at their extremes, are quite different.

    Single players play to win, multiplayers play to play.

    The SPs play against the machine at progressive levels, and to the end of learning how to, and then beating the game.

    This can be a great deal of fun, and is great interactive entertainment.

    The MPs play against other people, they too want to win, but their expectations are very different.

    Because of the nature of multiplayer, MPs can achieve winning only half the time, and still be comfortable with the game.

    In fact they might consider the game to be very well balanced, if their equally skilled opponents won half their games together.

    A SP might become discouraged winning only half the time, and there by unable to progress to total victory at some point.

    MPs might also become disinterested in the single-player game because of the imbalance of testing a person against a program, preferring their opponents to be at least equally people like them selves.

    SPs have an offline community of like-interest players, to compare progress and share tips and advice with.

    MPs play in an interactive real time community, that encourages natural gang groupings to both learn from and team together for multi-partner encounters.

    Most MPs at some point become community-aware.

    By that I mean that they begin to understand that teaching new players, forming clans, and participating in events, are necessary to maintain the community of multiplayers.

    New MPs are constantly arriving, but there is no guarantee that they will fit in the culture, and become integrated into the society of avid players.

    MP community needs to be maintained to keep a pool of qualified players active enough to provide challenging partners for games.

    What does this mean to game design?

    You can encourage SPs to participate in multiplayer, and the reverse, but their personalities will not be changed, and they will always gravitate back to their respective core groups.

    You can’t really mix the two, except those who already play both sides of the fence; it is like the apples and oranges comparison.

    The must-win orientation and accompanying aggressive attitude of the first-person-shooter SP, versus the “good luck and have fun” real-time-strategist community sustaining MP, are a bad mix.

    They aggravate each other, but are happy to coexist, if left to satisfy their own needs in their own games.

    True?
    Untrue?
    Needs correction.
    Needs explanation.
    Or, I have a totally different understanding or view.

    Thanks in advance!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I thought this fine article would be about the "competitive psychology" when you play mp, but instead its about what types of fan are involved and how they approach/enjoy the game and so forms bond with it. Interesting.

    I don't think that they are happy to co-exist, but that they exist by necessity and in a certain sense they balance each other out, Put too many competitive minded people in the community and relationships become strained ("that unit is unbalanced!" "you talk only AFTER you've beaten us" etc etc), friendliness decreases while gameplay becomes more one dimensional as nobody wants to try new things or is interested in balance for its own sake. The ease for new players in the community, and especially from the huge pool of SPers decreases and the community/game stagnates to dominating bragging/harsh/"manlyman" types. However, make the community too fair and too friendly and too SP open, and the gameplay quality will decrease because there would be less edge in battles, and no strong filter for the weak players to realise that they are weak.

    In sum total, the two need to coexist and CA needs also to take that account into consideration. Serious mp play requires a lot of commitment and people will not put the hours if the game is of flimpsy balance and buggy, in other words unrewarding and lacking gameplay depth. They need to get that right in order for the mp potential of TW to take off.
    Last edited by gollum; 01-22-2011 at 11:17.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Thanks for your response Gollum.

    The title was just a catch phrase (something pulled out of the air) to head up an explanation of fundamental motivational differences. I was possibly trying to attract "real" psychologists, as my training was sketchy at best, and over forty years ago at-least (something about dogs and bells, or something).

    Even the decision of where to post this discussion was difficult. SP or MP section of ETW or NTW or S2 forums; each had their potential bias attached. I choose Napoleon and multiplayer because it is the most recent game out, and I think that MPers have to think about SPers (invading their turf with the MP campaign), but in the reverse, Spers can safely ignore the MPers (for the time being anyway).

    Your summation brought out something very improtant that I forgot, and was right on the mark. The required commitment of serious multiplayers, especially MPer teams and the Clan groups that support them, is a major difference between the two.

    To me, the pinnacle of Total War gaming is the 4v4 Clan team tournament game. Maybe some day it will reach its full potential not only as extremely exciting to participate in, but also to watch on live stream distribution. In its full glory the vision includes global Olympic style competitions and titles, large cash prizes and international fame (albeit as temporary as any sport). But they would have to let me out of the asylum, if that were to really happen

    I found your "competitive psychology" observations very intriguing. Having a look at the affects of the range of individual personalities within multiplayer, how they interact and change the nature of the game, would be a fascinating study. Clan psychology, team dynamics, the freelance ronin personality, the influx of “other game” players, and now the migration of TW single players coming to multiplayer campaigns, wow! There’s at least a book in there somewhere.

    Please tell us more if it comes to you, all can benifit form a better understaning of these things
    Last edited by Tomisama; 01-22-2011 at 15:34.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I am an old board wargamer that made the transition to computer games.

    Since that time my experience has been mostly SP. I have played MP in NTW and I will cover that later.

    As an SP player, I may have a different priority playing than most, I play for the experience and enjoyment. I like to see historical accuracy in unit capabilities and develop tactics, within historical limitations, to defeat the enemy in battle or out maneuver him in the strategic game.
    I am not interested in the balance between say, English Infantry and German Infantry. I am more interested that they portray their strengths and weaknesses accurately. If a faction is militarily weak it just presents more of a challenge to play.

    On the other hand, this seems to run counter to what many in the MP community want. They seem to want all units to be clones of the other factions, and if they are not they say the game is unbalanced.

    After a CA rebalance I am usually disappointed if not down right outraged.

    That to me, is the major sticking point.

    As to my MP experience it has been mixed. I knew few of the opponents or if they were new to MP or old hands.

    I have had some very enjoyable experiences where we were working with historic tactics and deployment trying to test one another’s skill. Win or lose I can’t express how great it felt just to play.

    Then, the majority have been using some gimmick or exploit just to hammer the opponent as quickly as possible. I guess I would call the Head Hunters who just want a high MP rating. Needless to say they were not in the least enjoyable though I stayed to the end of every battle I do understand those who escape out in the middle.

    To me it seems that many MP players have formula units and tactics and are not interested in exploring the more historical aspects of the game.
    Were it otherwise I would love to have a human opponent to match wits with.
    Last edited by Fisherking; 01-23-2011 at 13:45.


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    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    My reasons for playing SP are similar to Fisherking's. I play SP to create a story, and lean towards mods with a focus on historical accuracy. I'll do thigns like forgo advantages for roleplaying purposes, or play to general's traits rather than just aim to win battles as easily as possible,

    My mp experience is minimal. I've generally found mp players (mostly in hotseats, where I have the most experience) to be far aware of imbalances and exploits, whether they use them or not. This is likely because these things tend to come out more when playing in a more competitive environment with other people, than in SP where the AIs in recent TW games have been easy to beat without seeking advantages.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I never knew what to make of your optimism Tommi (or how to be that way myself). Its such a great blessing:)

    TW in mp is a different game altogether. Especially team games as Tommi says, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 are amazing. The transition from SP, is certainly not easy for most, especially if you decide to just "drop in" all by yourself. That's because you need to learn the ropes, and to do that you need someone that can teach them to you. This requires time, patience from both sides, commitment and friendliness, otherwise it just won't work. Most people never cross this stage, and this is profoundly related to psychology; you need to be able to accept losing face in front of your online friends in order to learn to play the game. This however prevents you, for a while at least, from posting in the forums (say) with your usual elan, as now everyone knows "how good" you are. The key here is perseverance and an active, serious but friendly clan community that will take up new players and integrate them. However once you start getting it, and your play improve, there is lots more fun than in sp involved, especially with good company. 6 to 9 hours of straight online play at that stage are not uncommon, and an hour of mp is far more intense than an hour of sp in which your minds "coasts" while on the campaign map.

    Although all TW games have their quirks and characteristics (due to the different engines and periods/settings/gameplay explored), they have enough in common to say that a competent mper in one game will probably do a succesful transition to another. Its however in the cooking and coordination of the engine parameters from an MP perspective that things are decided for mpers. CA carries a lot of responsibility for that; bugs are relatively harmless for SPers, but for mpers an +1 or +0 stat in a unit due to a bug can make all the difference in the world between a balanced game and an unbalanced one.

    "Balance" it self is a tricky word; some people will bring up concepts like "rock,paper,scissors" with great intent while others will mock with equally great contempt, and these players are usually SPers to the core. They will argue from a "historical" and "realistic" perspective, but these mean little to an mper; the setting is a little more than a stage for them to play out their struggles in a way, but for many (not all) SPers the stage is just as, if not much more important than the acting of the interpreters.

    Needless to say that from a commercial perspective SPers are far easier to satisfy, as it requires less rigor and playtesting - besically the developers can get away with putting many things under the rug - and many companies, including i would say CA go for that, hence all the "bad blood" between the two communities.

    A good and certain measure for balance is the variety of units and gameplay styles the gameplay will allow for. In an mp context this manifests very easily, and there are waves of "styles", that is at one point everyone discovers that spear units (say) are too strong and build their tactics/strategy and armies around that. At some point, either the company changes the stats or someone finds (through skill or luck or combo of both) a way to beat the prevalent style; then everyone else slowly finds that out and the armies (of players in general) shift to the new style etc. Now, if there is a relatively quick succession and decent number of such styles (that perhaps recyslce), then the game most certainly is balanced. If however playstyles go down the same route and there is no coming out of there, then, the game is badly balanced and gameplay is poor, This property - more or less - of the gameplay is what mpers refer to as "depth". It is a very important property indeed, and an absolute preerquisite for a strong community. If the gameplay is shallow, ie its all the same and rush on rush with the same army, people will not commit to the game, and the community will either stagnate or worse still be filled with shallow people, that aren't interested in good play so much, but more in bragging.

    SP stats and MP stats have very different criteria for correct balance. Price of a unit in the camp map is determined also by the historicity, building dependencies etc, while the one in MP strictly in battle performance relative to the other units avialable in that era. The two clearly cannot be the same, and it is a major mistake that for many years - perhaps even still? - CA did not institute a different set of stats for SP and MP that would have gone a long way towards solving the issue.
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    Travelling Knight Content Manager Nigel's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    A very interesting thread.
    When I first read your post, Tomisama, I immediately started to think about my own experience at the back of my mind and, while reading, tried to find myself in it.

    I guess I am one of “those who already play both sides of the fence” – a citizen of both worlds, if you like. I take equal enjoyment out of both SP and MP, but I think this enjoyment has different sources.

    Here are some thoughts of one or your (maybe bold and provoking) theses :
    “Single players play to win, multiplayers play to play”

    By and large, in my opinion, this seems to be true.
    But equally, I think it is true when Fisherking says that SP players “play for the experience and enjoyment”. Because, don’t we all do that. Only enjoyment in SP mostly comes from finding out a good and clever way to beat the AI, perhaps against overwhelming odds, where in MP it comes from putting up a good fight, regardless if you win or loose.

    Now there are some more considerations (and it is not all that black and white) :
    On the MP side there are also some highly competetive individuals who do play to win, no question about it.
    On the SP side, there are players who like to play for the story. Players who enjoy historical accuracy. People who like roleplaying their characters and, as mentioned by Zim, will not use an advantage and even happily loose a battle or two if it fits in with giving a nice and exciting storyline. And I have done that too.

    Still, in the end, it hardly makes a good story if your nation is ultimately defeated on the campaign map and annihilated by the AI. So I guess, “single players play to win” still holds true. But perhaps it is not just the winning, which is the source of the fun for them.

    I guess there will be a lot more of good thoughts and discussions on this topic. I am looking forward to following this thread.
    Last edited by Nigel; 01-23-2011 at 16:40.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Quote Originally Posted by gollum View Post
    SP stats and MP stats have very different criteria for correct balance. Price of a unit in the camp map is determined also by the historicity, building dependencies etc, while the one in MP strictly in battle performance relative to the other units avialable in that era. The two clearly cannot be the same, and it is a major mistake that for many years - perhaps even still? - CA did not institute a different set of stats for SP and MP that would have gone a long way towards solving the issue.
    I believe that this is the golden key to the disparity between the two.

    Trying to satisfy two masters, neither one is achieved.

    Mper factions can be varied in there composition, but must be equal in potential against each other. Other wise you get only the strongest factions played with, and half the games wasted, and any variation in strategies and tactics that could have come from them (if they had been more effectively balanced), is totally lost.

    It’s the money! There were designers that understood this. There is a way to give a “koku” value to every thing. And as long as the potential for every faction to proves-out as equal in cost, then the game is balanced.

    The bottom line for multiplayers who come to the battlefield, is that they must have the same opportunity in options as their opponent(s), because they play against each other, and not against the game.

    Single player can be totally different in this respect, but applied to multiplayer, imbalance ruins the game for all concerned.

    Are we there yet?
    All thought are welcome and appreciated. It is all good, for all of our goods
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  9. #9
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nigel View Post
    Now there are some more considerations (and it is not all that black and white) :
    On the MP side there are also some highly competetive individuals who do play to win, no question about it.
    On the SP side, there are players who like to play for the story. Players who enjoy historical accuracy. People who like roleplaying their characters and, as mentioned by Zim, will not use an advantage and even happily loose a battle or two if it fits in with giving a nice and exciting storyline. And I have done that too.

    Still, in the end, it hardly makes a good story if your nation is ultimately defeated on the campaign map and annihilated by the AI. So I guess, “single players play to win” still holds true. But perhaps it is not just the winning, which is the source of the fun for them.
    I actually ran a short series of aars of me being destroyed in EU3. It was rather fun, although of course I was trying (and failing) to win.

    I'm not sure the differences in player mentality are quite so great, at least when it comes to concern with winning.

    In my experience SP players (of TW and other games) tend to be somewhat contemptuous of a game they never lose, at least when first starting out. They want to be challenged, and will replay campaigns (or, in games that have them, levels) again and again when they lose, until they figure out a strategy that works for them. Once they make it through once, they often ramp up the difficulty until it's hard again, and find even more effective strategies that work at those difficulty levels. If they get stumped they seek out support in communities like this one, "strategy guides", etc. If the game is too easy on all levels, SP can quickly become boring, although this can be staved off with disadvantageous House Rules or non standard goals. Straight out beating the AI may become easy, but holding X settlement while roleplaying the general's stats, sticking to a "historical" army composition, and refusing to raid enemy settlements may be much harder (at least in EB). On the other hand, if they continue to find the game generally too hard, it can become frustrating and they again become bored.

    MP players (and here I have to go outside TW to othe strategy games, where I have much more mp experience) tend to usually be ok with losing, especially when new, but try out new strategies until they find one or more that work for them. As they get better they seek out new challenges ("raising" the difficulty by seeking out harder opponents or entering tournaments). Like SP players, if they find things too easy, they get bored. If they find things too challenging they're likely to look for support in learning the ropes (from guides, other members, etc.). If things are still too difficult no matter how hard they try, they may become frustrating and they quit.

    To summarize, I find sp and mp players often prefer a challenge going in, try out and compare new strategies (either on their own or with the help of more experienced players), progressively seek more difficult opponents/difficulty levels/house rules, and can get bored and/or frustrated if they either find things too easy or too hard. Both groups play to win but prefer a challenge (whether in the form of actual losses or at least setbacks in game). SP players are more casual about quitting a campaign and restarting if it's obvious they are losing, but I think that has more to do with sportsmanship (note beginning/younger players are likely to do this in mp at first, but come to see it as bad form as they get into the mp community and are affected by it). Assuming TW mpers are like those I've met in EU3 and other RTS games, they seem to me rather similar in many ways to sp players.
    Last edited by Zim; 01-24-2011 at 09:40.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    With the TW games the primary breakdown has been units and capabilities.

    All of us remember the MORTAR controversy in ETW.

    If I recall correctly much of it had to do with the maps being too small in MP.

    In my opinion it should have been eliminated from MP play. CA chose a different path and made the unit all together useless. I am not sure it made anyone happy with the end result. But it did bring out the rivalry between many SP and MP players.

    Wanting units changed is not just the province of the MP players. A lot of SP player complain about units being too strong or too weak. Most of the time it is the players inability to grasp concepts in tactics with the result that they don’t do well against them. Others complain about faction bonuses.

    I can understand the objections in head to head battles. Seemingly those units need more level stats, but in campaigns, SP or MP, would you want to take out historical advantages?

    I suppose it could be handled with preferences but how hard would that be to implement?

    House rules are often used, is there something particularly objectionable about that?


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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Low on time, so here is my short answer.I play MP due to the RL aspect so to speak about it and because of the people I play with,love them or hate them.

  12. #12

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    You can't handle things for mpers at any other level than the developer level. This is because its very difficult to get people to play mods and follow rules collectively (which would b required for the community to thrive) in mp. In SP on the other hand, you can always home mod mortars or the whole game, and no one will bother, because you play by yourself against the AI.

    Talking about balancing units is most certainly the province of mpers. Its they that are affected first and foremost by it, and its usually they that notice all engine and unit quirks bugs, capabilities etc and a mod is not a solution for them, unlike for SPers. You can't get mp people to play a mod, because they will argue fiercely with the design/balancing approach of a fellow player. For them, is a bit like submitting to his will in a way, and many aren't keen on doing that. There has been such efforts with Samurai Warlords and with Retrofit. None of them was very popular although both had good gameplay and were balanced.

    Again, it all boils down to same stats for mp and sp, which is not gthe best way to go about it. I think that, have different stats for the two communities was proposed from as early as STW? Its still being proposed, as you can see, and who knows, maybe in 10 more years there will be a similar thread about it :)

    I am not sure how technically challenging it would be of course. Perhaps altering stats on units may be more challenging than we think. On the other hand i can't see why it couldn't come as two separate data files - one that the engine can load for the campaign game, and one that it can load for online play. I am not a programmer, so please, don;t laught to hard if this is a silly suggestion.

    In any case, trying to balance units for both communities in stats and prices is sheer folly and there will always be discontent between SPers and CA, MPers and CA and SPers and MPers - all at once :)
    Last edited by gollum; 01-24-2011 at 19:30.
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  13. #13
    Nur-ad-Din Forum Administrator TosaInu's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Quote Originally Posted by gollum View Post
    Talking about balancing units is most certainly the province of mpers. Its they that are affected first and foremost by it, and its usually they that notice all engine and unit quirks bugs, capabilities etc and a mod is not a solution for them, unlike for SPers. You can't get mp people to play a mod, because they will argue fiercely with the design/balancing approach of a fellow player. For them, is a bit like submitting to his will in a way, and many aren't keen on doing that.
    There are more reasons I think. It's often hard to get all players using the exact same version of the modded files in exactly the right location, resulting in games that never start, crashes at any point during the battle or diverge in outcome (seen that happen in vanilla installs too). Many hours are wasted by that and people give up.

    Again, it all boils down to same stats for mp and sp, which is not gthe best way to go about it. I think that, have different stats for the two communities was proposed from as early as STW? Its still being proposed, as you can see, and who knows, maybe in 10 more years there will be a similar thread about it :)
    Yes, as early as STW. Even suggested two different exes like some other games have. STW wasn't exactly a speedchampion online, a slim and optimized exe for MP only may have helped.

    I am not sure how technically challenging it would be of course. Perhaps altering stats on units may be more challenging than we think. On the other hand i can't see why it couldn't come as two separate data files - one that the engine can load for the campaign game, and one that it can load for online play. I am not a programmer, so please, don;t laught to hard if this is a silly suggestion.
    VI had some MP only codes in the unitstats I think? Yes, different datafiles can be used gollum. That was used in STW MI already, MTW and VI allowed it too. It was possible to hotswap stats while sitting in the foyer. The textfiles got read into memory every time a battle launched and only then and there was a check to verify you used the same stats when you tried to join a game (failed sometimes).

    In any case, trying to balance units for both communities in stats and prices is sheer folly and there will always be discontent between SPers and CA, MPers and CA and SPers and MPers - all at once :)
    I fear so too. Less units in TWS2 is not going to change that, it will become easier, but it's still near impossible.
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  14. #14

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Yes i think you are right, the last few columns of the unit data file in VI were for custom/mp play info, like which faction recruits what units - which could be different than the factions that recruited the unit on the campaign game.
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    Praefectus Fabrum Senior Member Anime BlackJack Champion, Flash Poker Champion, Word Up Champion, Shape Game Champion, Snake Shooter Champion, Fishwater Challenge Champion, Rocket Racer MX Champion, Jukebox Hero Champion, My House Is Bigger Than Your House Champion, Funky Pong Champion, Cutie Quake Champion, Fling The Cow Champion, Tiger Punch Champion, Virus Champion, Solitaire Champion, Worm Race Champion, Rope Walker Champion, Penguin Pass Champion, Skate Park Champion, Watch Out Champion, Lawn Pac Champion, Weapons Of Mass Destruction Champion, Skate Boarder Champion, Lane Bowling Champion, Bugz Champion, Makai Grand Prix 2 Champion, White Van Man Champion, Parachute Panic Champion, BlackJack Champion, Stans Ski Jumping Champion, Smaugs Treasure Champion, Sofa Longjump Champion Seamus Fermanagh's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    SP and historical realism preference here. For perfect balance I would suggest Go or Chess.

    Computer generated armies with some kind of "odds" would be interesting for MP. You play with what you are assigned but get some kind of handicap in scoring if your force mix is weak -- goal being to beat the odds and do better than projected.

    That will never happen of course.

    Ultimately, they'd need two games. A streamlined exe with one set of units that all may recruit for MP and then the full game for the rest.

    This conflict is no more tractable than the one in Palestine/Israel.
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  16. #16
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    As an SPer, there's one aspect that I don't see has been addressed: campaigns. In an SP game, what goes into a battle is determined by the campaign, and the results of the battle affect the campaign. In MP battles basically have nothing to do with each other, unless Clans take the effort to organize something. This is why I, who's been playing TW since before Medieval I came out, can count the count the number of MP games I've played on one hand yet I'm going to preorder Shogun 2 so I can start playing MP on Day 1.

  17. #17

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    In fact, TW has the potential to generate mp gameplay of the depth of go and chess or thereabouts, and i have been in mp battles that felt very much like those games and i'm sure my experince isn't a one off case among mpers. Its just that the SPers of the community don't want to hear any of that :) "Go to chess if you want a balanced game" they say, because basically they don't want one - not that TW can't be such. Part of them don't want it because it ruins the historical reverie of the campaign SP game, part because they actually prefer to play unbalanced battles and part due to a combination of the two.

    The "conflict" is not really perpetuated by the mpers or the spers anyway. Its perpetuated by the unwillingness of the developper to pay proper attention at each dimension of the game in its own right while at the same time advertising the game in both counts.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I am beginning to understand the importance of the role of history to the single player.

    Before I said that they played against the game, but I think really what is going on is that they are playing against history, the “what if” factor is the motivator.

    “What if” I was there, how would I have handled the situation? Would I have done better than Caesar, Alexander, or Napoleon? How do I measure up in a simulation of the events?

    Of course for the SPer’s the scope is much larger, with grand strategies to be concerned about, where the multiplayer only has the battlefield level real time generalship to contend with.

    I’m sure that there is great satisfaction in beating the history, but for me the camaraderie of the live multiplayer game, has its own special value.

    I think that most MPers are interested in history, but more as a container than a condition. They want historical accuracy, but not conditions.

    Now how do all of these things and people come together in the multiplayer campaign?

    Are any of you playing it?

    Has or will it create a third general character, the SP/MPer?
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  19. #19

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I have every TW game save NTW. Unless I'm missing something, TW MP is just battles. Or did they finally impliment an MP campaign with NTW?

    I'm entirely SP. If the former is true, I can easily say I'm an SPer because I don't want to miss out on the entire strategic side of the game. The battles are okay, and sometimes fun, but can become pretty repetative sometimes. But I like guiding a nation, building an empire, developing multi-generational relationships, roleplaying a bit. None of those are possible with MP. Even if there is now, or someday will be, a MP campaign, the major problem I see with that is how much slower the game will be. I don't know about the other SPers, but I take my time. The campaign is viable because the AI turns are relatively quick. If I was playing another person in a campaign, and they took as long as I did each turn, it would take forever and I'd get frustrated and stop playing.

    Another thing I don't like about MP is the balance issues. Even if we had a game where every unit was balanced, I've still yet to encounter an MP matching system that was actually good at matching you with someone of similar skill. Almost every MP game I've ever played, across dozens of games, has been a blowout, either with me or someone else as the victor. Blowouts are boring.

    Lastly, MP battles seem kinda pointless. I mean, it's like chess or checkers. You play to play, or play to beat the other army, but whether you win or lose, nothing changes. At least on the SP side there's a story there that you're participating in and shaping.
    Fac et Spera

  20. #20
    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Servius1234, NTW dose indeed have MP campaigns. Both competitive and cooperative.

    This dose add a dimension that will appeal to more of the players who enjoy the overall dynamics of campaigns.



    I never got involved in MP play because of hardware and needing to spend great amounts of time on line in the earlier days but thought it was a great idea.

    Once I became aware of the majority view of MP players idea of balance it sort of took a lot out of it for me.

    I do like to redo history and a completely level field between players is not my idea of how to do it.

    I do like to see such things as the British firing faster and using two ranks vs. the typical three. I do like to see particular traits of armies or equipment portrayed to give one side an advantage.

    To me the tactical challenge is to use your forces to best advantage of their capabilities.

    It can be a lot of fun to fight even battles face to face but I miss the diversity in unit strengths and weaknesses that add to that challenge.

    But that is just me.
    Last edited by Fisherking; 01-28-2011 at 09:17.


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  21. #21
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    It’s great to hear and get to understand more about single player’s intrigue with strategy, and get a glimpse of the MP Campaign's “competitive and cooperative” features (the second which I had forgot about).

    But in reading these responses something occurred to me concerning multiplayers. Just as there are the two major sub groupings to MP campaign players, and at least two major sub groupings of SPers (grand strategy only and strategy with battles), there are also sub groupings of multiplayers.

    Many will think only of the 1v1 pick-up battles when it comes the word multiplayer, but that is just the beginning, and only the rudimentary level of the MP experience. When you start getting into multi-partner teams of multiplayer (2v2, 3v3 , and 4v4) the complexities compound.

    The piece-de-resistance is the practiced team versus practiced team competitive tournaments, pitting the top Clan teams against a field of their peers for the honor of the best of the best. Talk about strategy, the multilevel considerations of who your team is (the individuals involved), who they are playing, what the requirements and restrictions of the contest are, and what battles plans might be employed to this overall situation; are only the beginning planning stage for these events.

    That gives us at least three major sub categories of multiplayers. And let’s not forget the game mods, who add another dimension to the mix. Mp games, random pick-up or planed competitive, single vs. single, small or large multi-partner; there might be a lot more to this end of the player spectrum than is readily apparent
    Last edited by Tomisama; 01-28-2011 at 12:57.
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  22. #22
    Travelling Knight Content Manager Nigel's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomisama View Post
    I am beginning to understand the importance of the role of history to the single player.

    Before I said that they played against the game, but I think really what is going on is that they are playing against history, the “what if” factor is the motivator.
    Or they just enjoy the roleplaying aspect of the campaign games. Without a particular need to win against anything but just playfully seeing their characters act and develop. Basically just playing our an interesting story (and, yes, Zim, good point you made regarding my earlier post above). Reminds me of the time I was playing with tin soldiers or the Playmobil pirate ship, when I was a kid.

    Regarding the new MP campaign - I would be that type of player - the perfect game for me. If only I had the time to really do it. At the moment I dont get more than an occasional hour on one day or other. I think for the MP campaign you need to be able to set aside a fixed day and timeslot together with your opponent/partner. People who can do that shold be able to make the MP campaign work really nicely for them.

  23. #23

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    I fall within the SP stereotype for Total War in general, but not by design. I prefer to play against fellow humans.
    The SP campaign aspect of the game I find intellectually stimulating, more so than the MP aspect of the game. The other aberration is that I don't play SP to win. I do it to tinker, to experiment, to me it's a sandbox. As is how I see most other SP game titles. Eventually a human will figure out the AI. Winning is inevitable. So for SP I think winning is highly overrated.
    But if there was better MP campaign support I would be in heaven. Most other strategy games I have played for the multiplayer aspect. And for MP I play to win. If I can't win I probably won't play. (i.e. Starcraft II, because I don't want to spend the time to get good at yet another RTS, and my reflexes are getting too slow)

    My dilemma is I am on the fast track to 40 and have a family now. And I never had that much time when I was younger because I was establishing my career. So what I think could be the most awesome game ever I realize will never exist or I'll be able to afford the time to play.

    I actually think MP campaign could be popular.
    But I also agree with others that the inherent weakness is to keep people in an ongoing game. This is where I believe it's niche as a crossover game is either multiple people playing the same faction against other multiple people playing the same faction.
    Or a few friends playing co-op/rivalry MP campaigns, which has already been achieved with varying success on multiple TW titles via hotseat/PBeM.

    So what does this make me?

  24. #24
    Wandering Metsuke Senior Member Zim's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Regarding the length issue for an mp campaign, EU3 multiplayer is a huge time sink and still fairly popular. Of course, being entirely real time it has the advantage that everyone always has something to do and won't have to wait for another person to finish a turn or battle (not having played NTW, does it's mp campaign have that kind of issue?). I can see how they'd most effectively be played between friends who can get together timewise easily, although I'd like to hope that with the relative success of other time intensive games in the Throne Room means it's possible to get good mp campaigns in.

    I've always had trouble with the concept of contextless battles. SP battles are too easy unless you're handicapping yourself but I enjoy the fact they have an effect in the larger campaign. I can also understand the desire cooperate and/or match wits and strategy against other, real people. I spend a lot of time playing "sandbox" type games in EB, but just as often I want to interact with someone.

    That's where the hotseats and PBeMs come in. Hotseats always filled part of that gap for me. I enjoy the intrigue and set up ti major conflicts in them, to the point that if I take over a faction for someone after lines have been drawn I can flounder (a trait I am quite willing to offer apologies to or accept thanks from the enemies of the disintegrating Turkish Empire, depending respectively whether they prefer a challenge or more land with which to fight their competent enemies. ).

    PBeM RPGs took it a step further for me. Suddenly there were games where I could get the diplomatic intrigue (and more) of a hotseat, which could directly affect whether I took on that huge Polish army with a nearly equal army of a couple of peasant units and some Feudal Knights. Even better they allowed for pvp battles (both traditional mp battles played on line and a more stylized semi turn based type of battle) that had context within a larger campaign (and where the strength of opposing sides also was strongly affected by the political machinations that led up to the battles). KOTR ended with the massive Battle of Trent, with 8 players on each side and LOTR made pvp battles easier to get into.

    Unfortunately those games can be tough to set up and get going, compared to hotseats. The current one looks very promising, though, with rules changes that give the players more control and encourage competitiveness.

    More on topic, if SP and MP players have certain preferences and goals as far as what they're looking for, where would players of hybrid type games be on that spectrum? Are hotseats more like MP? Technically speaking they are a form of MP, but as far as players go they seem to overlap more with SP players, as do the PBeM RPGs
    Last edited by Zim; 01-30-2011 at 04:04.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member Senior Member Tomisama's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Hotseats, emails, scripters, broadcasters (voice over battle videos), the list seems all most as endless as there are personalities and availability to play. I mention the availability because of the RARF (returning after raising family) phenomenon. Many of those are lurking in the shadows, waiting to see of they get “their Shogun” (or the fun that they remember) back again or not.

    The spectrums of diversity on both ends, in the middle, and on the sides, are much greater than I had fully realized. Looking at the community message board categories should have been a clue. But I think that I and probably many others naturally become myopic over time, focusing only on our major interests. This has been a very refreshing step-back to look at where we are, and to possibly get some ideas on where we might be going.

    What you would like to see in the future from the way that you particularly enjoy Total War gaming? What’s missing that would increase your enjoyment of the way you play the game?
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  26. #26
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    In my wildest dreams, I'd like to see a Total War MMO. Part of me thinks it would be a complete disaster, either as a commercial failure or because it would take too much of CA's attention from normal TW games. However, the other half thinks it would be the perfect game for me. The biggest flaw with these games is that the AI is such a boring opponent, but you can't get the full experience playing against a person.

  27. #27

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    There are far too many subsects because of the history aspect. If it was a fantasy game, then balance would work for both the SP and MP communities. However, that history aspect will always create divisions within TW communities.

    With history, you have:
    1) SPers who prefer balanced SP regardless of historical realism
    2) SPers who prefer unbalanced SP based on complete historical realism
    3) MPers who prefer balanced MP for fair competition no matter what with strict rules.
    4) MPers who prefer unbalanced MP based on complete historical realism with guidelines to facilitate somewhat fair competition.

    Within these subsects, you end up with people who play balanced/unbalanced SP in hotseat campaigns, but choose not to play multiplayer battles which would provide more balanced battles. You also get the vast majority who just play vanilla because it's the default.

    The only way CA will help unite the community, which would actually bring growth to the customer base is to choose one route of the two: complete balance in SP and MP or complete historical realism regardless of gameplay. CA's philosophy revolves around the former, yet they have so far failed miserably at balancing all the factions in SP or MP.

    I, however, don't care too much because I use mods for complete historical realism for MP games. Without complete historical realism, I'd choose fantasy games with those dragons, minotaurs and whatnot.

  28. #28

    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tomisama
    What you would like to see in the future from the way that you particularly enjoy Total War gaming? What’s missing that would increase your enjoyment of the way you play the game?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cecil XIX View Post
    In my wildest dreams, I'd like to see a Total War MMO. Part of me thinks it would be a complete disaster, either as a commercial failure or because it would take too much of CA's attention from normal TW games. However, the other half thinks it would be the perfect game for me. The biggest flaw with these games is that the AI is such a boring opponent, but you can't get the full experience playing against a person.
    Cecil has pretty much summarized my thoughts on the Total War series. I would love to see them bridge MP into more of a SP style campaign. However I also realize it would be very difficult to achieve.

    One game which contains a similar style of real-time tactical warfare contained within the wrapper of turn-based strategy is the Close Combat series. Originally developed by Atomic for Microsoft, based on an old table top game called Advanced Squad Leader, I believe. I've played it off and on since 1996. It's a 2D, top-down, WWII game that also emulates troop experiences under realistic circumstances, including ammunition, experience, mental state, etc.
    To keep brevity to this thread I won't delve into the more minute details of the game series other than to say that the current developers took it to the next level with the CC:Cross of Iron title. They bridged many battles with multiple online players and have 24/7 campaigns in place.
    How successful was this? Well, that is a matter of opinion. Though it does have a small following, I think it would be considered a financial flop. Why? I don't know. I never bought it because I bought two others before I knew about the new title supporting 24/7 campaigns and didn't want to drop another $40 for something that might not get me the online MP experience I wanted.

    That was four years ago. Now my goals have changed. I realize now I have a time share problem. There is no way I can afford to invest much time into playing some grand online campaign. I'm back full swing into a SP campaign of RTR, and probably EB after I reload my laptop. (I was getting CTD's with EB.) I am trying to get a few friends interested in the game in general.
    Assuming I do we will likely eventually start a MP campaign together.
    This gives me the freedom I need regarding time, yet also the cerebral experience I yearn. Time enough to play, but not be a slave to having to join a clan, stay in a year-long MP campaign waiting for X number of other players to finish their turn. I figure if I get just a few friends playing in a MP hot-seat game, even if it's just co-op, that will be a major achievement.

    So I said all that to summarize with the simple statement; One side of me wants some awesome online campaign multiplayer experience, but I realize I will never be able to achieve that goal in any practical manner. And the current titles already published are good enough to get me what I desire.

    ---

    P.S. I have serious doubts for the future of online PC gaming. The devs and publishers are constricting freedom so much nowadays I fear we won't have the ability to script or mod as we the user-base have in the past. I am watching Shogun2 with interest, but I am not holding my breath that it will be something so much more wonderful than previous titles. Eye candy sure, but my eyes aren't getting any better.
    Last edited by Risasi; 02-01-2011 at 22:38.

  29. #29
    The Count of Bohemia Senior Member Cecil XIX's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    This discussion has remind me of something. About a year and a half ago, during the TW RPG Last of the Romans, I was lucky to be the head of faction in what we called "The War of the Four Basileis". During this war there was I battle which I was only indirectly involved in. I had directed my vassal to take all of my cavalry and march to attack another player's army who was marching away from us. The goal was to use the heavy cavalry and horse archers for hit-and-run attacks, pretty standard stuff, and basically attack and retreat all the way from Trebizond to Antioch. Normally we used a much more realistic but time-consuming set-up, but this time the battle was resolved by having the two generals take their armies and fight it out online.

    Unfortunately it was discovered after the fact that you can't actually withdraw your units in an online battle, they'll stay until they're routed. I had never planned for my vassal to actually defeat the enemy's army, the plan was always to withdraw before a decisive action could take place, and so the battle was a crushing defeat with all my cavalry and my vassal being killed.

    The reason I bring this up is because I think it speaks volumes about the psychology of MP that the option to have your units withdraw is actually disabled. Apparently in MP there is no difference between a unit that has withdrawn at full strength and a unit that has been completely slaughtered by arrows before ever making contact with the enemy. When that is your reality, it suggests that you should think in a certain way that is entirely alien to the way battles are actually fought.

    What it comes down to then is whether you prefer fighting for it's own sake, or fighting as a means to an end.

  30. #30
    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: The psychology of Total War gamming.

    Thanks Cecil XIX

    I am glad you brought up this point!

    It has frustrated me on more than one occasion.

    With MP Campaigns it could even be a kind of game breaker.

    There are times when the object is not to win but just to harass or cause limited casualties, particularly in a campaign. Every battle is not about winning and being decisively engaged is almost always something to be avoided.

    Timers and the ability to withdraw are both important. And the abilities should be distinct from Surrender, which would also be a good option.

    What is desirable in a head to head MP match-up is very undesirable in campaign play. Be it MP or SP.


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