Letters to the Editor

Healthy Living


In response to “Wargaming Through the Ages” from The Escapist Forum: A fascinating look at the history & evolutions of wargames.

They continue to evolve both on the battlefield and the tabletop. Modern warfare involves unmanned combat drones, guns that can shoot around corners & through walls and naval railguns with the kind of firepower that’d make the guns of Navarone look like water pistols.

On the tabletop, consider StarCraft the Board Game, which replicates the RTS experience without needing a LAN or Internet connection to play with your friends. The board is set up differently every time the game is played, players generate resources and research new technologies rather than having the exact same types of units throughout the game and battles are as much about strategic planning & tactical advantage as they are random chance.

Just as an example.


In response to “The New Basic Training” from The Escapist Forum: Its all fun and games until somebody gets hurt, or at least, thats what my father used to tell me. And pretty much every other parent has said at some point.

When thrown into a real life combat situation, I don’t think that any amount of simulated combat is going to let you get any real upper hand. When bullets start flying, everyone is susceptible to the same reactions of panic, anxiousness, restlessness, and survival. I find this article interesting though, because its partially true. Gamers today think they know a lot about what goes on in a real battlefield, but lets be honest, there is no substitute for actual combat experience.

I’d personally say the closest you’ll ever get to a true combat experience at this point in time, is paintball. Although, I have read about the virtual reality simulators in which soldiers wear a body suit that, when shot, they feel enough of an impact to actually sit them down.


In response to “The Agony of Defeat” from The Escapist Forum: The problems portrayed are inherently problems with games in general. How do you make a game with an involving story, where your friends can die, and you can still continue the game? You would have to cover all possible “endings” where this character dies, but this does not etc. It would require way too much development time to make it feasible. The reason why the successful war-games mentioned focus mostly on the atmosphere of the game instead of the stories of the individual characters, is because the characters are ultimately not important.

A players decisions means less and less the more the story focuses on character interaction, and so it must be. The best one can hope for are minor characters that may or may not be killed off during the campaign based on how you fare, but ultimately adds nothing to the ending.

It’s been years since I played the game now, but the original Rainbow Six (still the best in my book) did much of this right. Most of the story was set in background information for the characters you controlled, but when a character died in a mission, he was dead, dead, dead. Even the more “important” characters could die, and you could still progress in the game, though you were gimped a bit. Not that Rainbow Six had that much of a story, but still.

As for the “Winners perspective”, yes, it would be nigh impossible to make a story-based game where you know you will ultimately lose. Would I play it? If the gameplay was good enough, sure. Story-wise, it would probably be told in a long series of flashbacks, how it came to that the hero cast himself from a cliff or something (of course Kratos was actually “saved” in the end, but it would have made for a better(?) ending).


You know, I realized that some time ago. The problem is that, when a videogame shows a story, it’s always simple, naive and black-and-white, unless it’s a GTA-style game in which you are the bad guy, in which case it’s simple, naive and black-and-grey. And that’s the only way to do it, because in videogames stories must take second seat to gameplay and experience, and gameplay and experience are better if the story is a simple ‘here are the bad guys, beat them’ one. (A game in which you end up utterly and unquestionably losing would end up leaving a bad taste in gamers’ mouths… it might become a cult classic, but no one can afford going for cult classic nowadays. Of course, you can do like CoD4 and cheat by having two main guys and having one of them get fucked.)

It just shows more strongly for me that the real ‘stories’ that videogames should tell are the ones players make themselves. The SHIII experience you describe strikes me as very similar to a roguelike – you’re always afraid something will come up and murder you when you’re distracted, and when you die, you’re dead for good. And of course, there’s Dwarf Fortress, in which even if a farming mishap ends up with an entire fortress lost to starvation, that fortress still existed in the world, and you can visit it with a solo adventurer, send a dwarfing squad to reclaim it, find up those artifacts end up on the hands of goblins, etc… My point is that the stories video games should be trying to tell are those that gamers create themselves, be it your submarine finally being sunk but taking two destroyers with it or a beautiful seaside fortress being torn to pieces by a dragon. Much better than “oh no, Helpful Tutorial Character B and Evil Flashback Character C are the same person! Holy fuck!

The Random One

In response to “A View From the Trenches” from The Escapist Forum: I saw Men of War as I was reading about upcoming WWII strategy games one day. It’s always interested me (although I doubt my computer can give it the level of attention it deserves). My favorite WWII games have always been the Close Combat series, specifically because of the way they model strategy w/o requiring production or resource management. Some of my favorite parts have been when my squad of assault troopers gets hit by an airstrike and I write them off as dead, except, what’s this? Pvt. Gale was just unconscious, and he grabs the LMG and fights off two squads of attackers by himself, using the ammo from his fallen comrades, and takes the victory point. Or a lone light AT gun manages to outduel three panzers.

Ever since the 90s, I’ve been searching for a game that takes the Close Combat concept and expands upon it, or updates it and I think Men of War might have managed to do that.


“They gunned him down. I sat up out of my chair screaming: “He’s a tiny frickin’ hero!””


I was just idly mentioning on one of the other articles that C&C and it’s ilk are too fond of giving you the ability to sweep to victory. This occurs because you are never defeated, you just reload. Men of War seems like the sort of ingenious strategy game which shines a ray of hope into my cynical heart. That such craft can still be found in the most unlikely of places, is fantastic and I shall reward that by purchasing the game.


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