Any ProSIM news?

SoopSandwich

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Just wondering if there is any news about ProSIM, updates, new games, etc....?
 

KEYSTONE07950

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Since we're not getting the modern operational level game, I'm hoping for WW2 tactical level using the AATF engine. When they do come, I'd like to see many maps availalbe for scenerio creation.
 

Pat Proctor

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I can tell you that Gary Bezant (designer, TFW) is hard at work on a WW2 title. No projected release date, but it will be for the AATF Engine.

We are also collecting a last round of bug fixes in order to release a new round of updates for many of our titles. The engines are pretty stable at this point, so these will mainly be scenario and database corrections caught by you guys (doh!).

I am sorry for the slow pace right now. While I wait for the wargaming market to improve, a great deal of my attention has turned to writing. You should see several pieces by me over the next year in Armchair General (hopefully including that damned mini-game that never seems to see print). I was also recently published in Parameters. To see the article, go here:

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/08spring/contents3.htm

(It's the third article down.)

I have also completed one book, for which I am seeking a publisher. I don't suppose there are any editors out there, are there :)

I am currently working on a second book I hope to have done by the end of the year. For an up-to-date look at what I am working on, you can go here:

http://www.prosimco.com/writing

I know this isn't what ProSIM fans want to hear. I really do love working on wargames more than writing. But I also like having my wargames played and enjoyed by wargame players. Right now there are too many games out for the number of players, so I just can't motivate myself to work on a new engine that won't get played.

All of that having been said, we do continue to plug away on AATF Engine titles. Progress is slow, but it is still forward progress.
 

nicdain

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Just my 2 cents: I find the AATF engine very powerful and I have enjoyed the scenarios contained in the shipping game very much.

At the same time, though, I don't see a wide community of users or the same Prosim developing new maps/scenarios/databases to expand the possibilities of this engine. I mean: while we are waiting for new games, maybe new scenarios about different theatres could be released (not necessarily for free).

I would like to do it myself, but while I could be good with maps, I would probably mess up with scenarios or units databases! :D

Cheers
 

Pat Proctor

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I agree that the best approach is to release individual scenarios. In fact, that was the concept behind the ACG article series. But we are having trouble just getting the first one released.

The ACG route solved our cost problems. Each scenario takes a great deal of time and expense to build. The current install base and demand for wargames cannot support the cost to make scenarios. The ACG route would allow us to subsidize production so we can at least break even. Without this subsidy, we cannot afford to distribute scenarios individually.

I'm sorry if this is to frank. I am just trying to be honest. I am definitely not in the wargame business to get rich. But now that the defense contracting work is drying up, I can no longer afford to lose money on commercial wargames.

The best thing this community can do is (a) spread the word about AATF and (b) generate user content like scenarios and databases to atract more players. Until we recoup the loss we took on AATF, we can't aford to start new projects.

(Don't worry. We are not closing up shop and Gary B's game is still in production. We just can't afford to start new projects now.)
 

KEYSTONE07950

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Pat:
Far be it for me to tell you how to run your business, but would it be possible to establish a P500 type of publishing model? To see your operational game produced, I would be willing to pre-pay the estimated price. If enough of us did this, would it enable you to fund the production of the game?
 

Pat Proctor

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That is a possibility. I am a little concerned about it turning into the "All American" fiasco. The game could take as long as 3 years to produce. People might get a bit antsy about waiting that long to see a return on investment.
 

Dr Zaius

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The P# method is used by a significant number of board game publishers, but, as Pat mentions, PC games have an entirely different development process. I've not seen any PC game publisher regularly using a P# system with success.
 

KEYSTONE07950

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That is a possibility. I am a little concerned about it turning into the "All American" fiasco. The game could take as long as 3 years to produce. People might get a bit antsy about waiting that long to see a return on investment.
Pat:
Prosim has a proven track record of game engine development. I don't remember how many years between the releases of BCT, ATF, & AATF, all I do remember that it was several years between releases. I would be quite comfortable paying $50 up front for a two-three year period during the new engine's development. All I would ask for is quarterly updates of the games progress. Would you publish through Shrapnel?
 

Pat Proctor

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I have to be honest. I have not really considered this mode of distribution before. I am not sure if Shrapnel would agree to publish via this mode or not.

I am interested to hear from others on this list. How much interest is there in this method of delivery? Are you willing to pay $50 up front on a game that might take 3 years to build?

I am also interested to hear from anyone who has worked with a P# development project (board or computer) before. How does it work? What if they don't get enough purchasers?
 

Dr Zaius

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Pat,

Companies like Multi-Man Publishing use the P# system all the time, but there are some issues to be considered. First, in the case I just mentioned we're talking about board games. So the 'development' is basically complete and the game is mostly ready to go; the P# system simply ensures there are enough customers to make the print run worth the investment in capital.

With a PC game, development often takes 2-3 years and I would assume that game development would not be complete when the P# went active. That's a very important distinction from the situation board game publishers deal with.

Another point is that most game companies that use a P# system--at least the ones I have dealt with--do not actually charge until the product ships. In other words, the customers are not actually paying up front and then waiting 2-3 for their product to be delivered. When customers order via the P# system, they are really just entering into a loose agreement to pay when the game is ready.

You might want to touch base with the guys from MMP, but I believe I have heard them say the P# system is not 100% reliable. It often takes them a while to ship the product and they have to deal with a lot of expired credit cards due to the length of time that has passed since the order was placed. If you're talking 2-3 before a game is ready, you might be dealing with an even higher incidence of this type of problem.

Still, it would be interesting to see a PC game publisher try this. I've just never seen it done before.
 

KEYSTONE07950

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Based on Pat's track record, I would be willing to pay $50 now for the opportunity to have his operational game published in 2-3 years. I know alot of "life" issues can crop up in 3 years. I'm willing to take the chance if that's the only way this can see the light of day. I know nothing about the game, but if Pat is excited about it, I'm all for it. Hey, $50 is the cost of one evening out for dinner and a movie with my wife.
 

CPangracs

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The whole situation is very frustrating from a designer's POV. We've spent a great deal of time, effort, and even our own money to create AATF and the scenarios that went with it, and I personally spent numerous hours creating the mini-game for ACG, only to see it languish in non-published purgatory.

I have dallied with the idea of just making new scenarios for the games I've already done, but I don't have the energy to work on it, and time is limited.

Maybe I just need to make myself sit down and make some new maps/scenarios for AATF....
 

KEYSTONE07950

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and I personally spent numerous hours creating the mini-game for ACG, only to see it languish in non-published purgatory.

Maybe I just need to make myself sit down and make some new maps/scenarios for AATF....
I'm asking this question being totaly ignorant of your obligations to ACG, why not sell all new AATF scenerios as pay downloads from Shrapnel or Prosims site?
 

CPangracs

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I'm asking this question being totaly ignorant of your obligations to ACG, why not sell all new AATF scenerios as pay downloads from Shrapnel or Prosims site?
That's something to consider, though I'm not sure if the volume would warrant the bump in server space and bandwidth. I can't even begin to decide where the pricing would be on something like this - maybe something akin to downloadable content on XBOX live? $10 a scenario?

Definitely worth looking into....Pat?
 

Pat Proctor

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We have, essentially, tried this before. Our first title, BCT: Brigade Combat Team, came with 14 scenarios. It was followed by two 14 scenario scenario packs and a scenario builder, each as a seperate, downloadable package. What we found was that everyone hungout waiting for the "Gold Version" which would inevitably consolidate all of this into one game. BCT Commander, currently still for sale at Shrapnel, is this "gold version." It did significantly better than any of the scenario packs.

What we have found is that there is a great deal of benefit to selling games as complete packages, rather than by the scenario or as a scenario pack. When you sell a complete game, you increase the install base for the engine, encouraging players to buy more games in the series. By contrast, if you sell one big game, and then a bunch of scenarios, you end up with a bigger, up front investment, and then a lot of secondary content. If you sell a complete game, people buy all of the scenarios as a package. If you sell the scenarios individually, a player might not purchase a specific scenario because the write up or screenshort for it aren't appealing. We lose out on the sale and the player loses out on what might be a great scenario that just didn't appeal to them in the marketing.

Finally, selling complete games is a better deal for the player than selling individual scenarios. AATF would have cost a player $140 at $10 dollars per scenario.

All of that having been said, I am not opposed to selling download-only mini-games at a reduced price. If there are any designers out there interested in building a 4 scenario mini-game, please contact me off-line at:

pproctor@prosimco.com

and we can talk more...
 

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Hi Pat

The best thing this community can do is (a) spread the word about AATF and (b) generate user content like scenarios and databases to attract more players. Until we recoup the loss we took on AATF, we can't afford to start new projects.
In my view the series is very good with the new user interface. Regrettably Map making and Scenario Creation intend a steep learning curve that most people don't have time for. I have made one scenario and I can tell you that it was quite a chore, not to mention very frustrating at times. I was quite pleased with the result but if I am going to design scenarios I would rather invest my time in a game where the design process is more user friendly and enjoyable. I have looked into map making but have decided that keeping my hair is more important than trying to make a map for ATF.

Although I like the games a lot, ( I have ATF, TFW, and AATF ) after playing through most of the scenarios I do not use them much. Creating or finding content for them is a problem. Also there is no play by email.

So I will presume to offer my unsolicited advice as follows and in order of importance.

1. Find a new distributer. You do not have enough exposure where you are now.

2. Simplify the editors. If not both then start with the Scenario editor.

3. See if you can adjust real time to make the game wego. Then PBEM is possible.

I know nothing of code, or your business arrangements, so some things I am suggesting ( perhaps all? ) may not be possible . What I do know is that if a situation is not working then change is required.

A good example was your user interface. I bought TFW but never played it as I found the user interface very difficult and confusing to use. Then AATF was released with the new user interface. I tried the demo and consequently purchased AATF and ATF becuase of the new U.I. design.

Good luck with your writng and I hope you make more games. I really enjoy them.

regards John
 

Pat Proctor

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I appreciate the input. WEGO/PBEM is something I have wanted to build into our games for a long time. It is deceptively hard to do with a game that is command realtime. But it is still in the mix.

If you have any specific suggestions for scenario editor fixes, please let me know. I have gotten little feedback about what is hard to do and what is not. It all makes sense to me, but that is because I wrote it!
 

KEYSTONE07950

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Pat:
I have all games (Armored Task Force, Raging Tiger, Falklands, Star & C, & AATF) loaded together in ATF file. My major problem in scenerio creation is adding units from different games into the same scenerio - you can't do it.

My MAJOR problem is map creation - much too complicated. I get a headache reading the instrucitons.

Regards.
 

TDR

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Just love this statement.. Sorry but had to laugh a bit..
My MAJOR problem is map creation - much too complicated. I get a headache reading the instrucitons.

Regards.
I seldom say much around the game boards. Something about being tied up with some hideous code issue I self volunteered for.

A few comments though some, some what repetitive in thrust.

The PEBM is an issue but it would require a WEGO operation make PEBMers happy. Not knowing the underlying design , could not the real-time operation and WEGO be two distinct components, one for a single person vs. AI and WEGO specifically for the PEBM players.

Maps as such are a real pain in backside especially when you have to chase down the necessary 3 arc sec DEM, and if you don’t have a good copy of that bit of real dirt one can get somewhat despondent with poor development.
Being tied to real elevation data is in many ways a bind. I mentioned elsewhere on this forum there are many “exercises”, available to make into scenarios, eg the USMC Tactical Decision Games. Many of these have been converted into scenarios for CPXs in TACOPS as an example.

Maps take ages to make. The bigger the harder and are heavy in time consumption. BUT any good map can take ages to build. Simple example I built a 100 x 240 hex map for SPWAW. That is about 5 Km x 12 Km. To get the terrain and vegetation etc correct it took about 5 months. OK each tile had to be individually specially placed and height adjusted. No simple edit process.

The scripting of scenarios is to me a big headache, unless I am not following the basic instructions. It would help with a little more detail on how it all goes together. This is one big piece lacking in the documentation. Also at present the tutorial has bits spread about as each new game comes out. Possibly needs to be “tidied up”. I just hate chasing the additional bits. I was going to re hack it all but I got sidetracked, Ok lazy.

Databases are another little issue. Any chance of getting the game engine to accept more than one database or better some tool to actually merge two or more databases?
I did have some code that actually read a database and allow me to deal with its insides, but that was way back at ATF engine level. The database has altered since then and I have never got about to redo the problem. Besides I think it vanished in a compute changeover.

One thing I do notice is lack of the third tools to do things with. OK there are only so many idiots out there hacking code in this area. BUT!
Sorry but the BUT stands because if such tools were about would they really be used?

The overall development of a game also depends on the game community, not just the makers.
Anyway enough said.
 
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