I do a lot of gaming… not as much now as in the past. Wargames are my first love. I’d move thousands of 1/4″ square cardboard chits around 3’x3′ maps for hours with my dad… until I started winning. Then we stopped playing.
Most of my friends were heavy into role-playing games. I enjoyed them a few times. Most of the time, it was 4 hours making a character. Ten minutes playing, then we never touched them again.
Computers came along soon after and it wasn’t too long before some decent tactical sims came out. Probably the best of the very early games (DOS PCs with 40 Mhz chips or less) was The Perfect General II. I played it for almost a decade… until the modern computers literally ran too fast for the game to be playable. Being developed in a pure DOS format, it just didn’t run correctly on hyper fast computers (1+ Ghz).
Most of the modern games are all about the graphics. Which I don’t mind, but the tactical games are all either squad level FPS or Risk knock offs. There was one that was pretty good, but it was another build-up battle (and I lost it in the Great Drive Crash of 2011 and can’t find it again).
First, here’s what I don’t want. I don’t want 4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). These are the games were you start out on one little planet or base and explore the area, build up your empire, mine resources, and then fight. Those get to be SO repetitive after a while. In every single one of these I have played, there is always one thing that you build or do to win. M.A.X. was one like this… the trick, never build mobile units. The base defenses were longer ranged, more powerful and could fire every turn. You you built bases and construction units. Star Wars has one of these. If you play the empire, you build upgraded AT-ATs and you win. If you play the rebels, you build upgraded X-wings and you win. If you play the Old Republic, you build jedi and you win. They are annoying me and it seems like ALL the science fiction games are going in this direction.
The other thing about science fiction ‘wargames’ is that they have the obligatory three races (human/robot/cat) and nothing else. The only difference between the three races are the diplomacy bonus that humans get, the research bonus that the robots get, and the fighting bonus that the cats get. Or it could be like Star Trek, where there is literally no difference between the races.
I also do not want first-person shooters. I have those… on my X-box. That’s what it is for. PCs have mice and keyboards. Consoles have 28 button joysticks. Thinking vs. action.
Now, what I do want is something where I can design a unit (company or brigade level), outfit my units and then control them in combat. I’d like there to be a good AI (a great AI would be better), morale, experience (in different areas like support, assault, defense, sneaking, recon, sniping, engineer etc). I don’t want to get x experience points that I can spend anyway I want. If a squad/platoon/company is always used as a reserve unit, then it should be getting experience as a reserve unit, not a frontal assault unit. I want to build these units, then carry them through campaigns and maybe even on-line play.
I want there to be a variety of missions, goals, and attack/defense options. I want realistic (within science fiction) differences between races that actually impact how they act, fight, and organize their units. And I want many possible races/factions.
I want a game that is large enough to have actual artillery with realistic ranges. Modern mobile howitzers have a range of up 30 kilometers. Free flight rockets can hit at 300 kilometers. At a decent tactical range of 1inch equals 1 kilometer (which is much too large for the platoon/company level), a modern howitzer can easily fire beyond the length of the average dining table. The MLRS can fire farther than the average living room is wide. At this scale, the average jet aircraft can travel about 150 inches per turn, again larger than the average living room. Computers are really needed for this, but no one is making games like this.
Modern computers have 10-100 times the processing power and 10-50 times the memory and 100 times the storage space, yet we can’t get a tactical game with more than 50 hexes in any direction anymore. I’ll trade graphics for map size and unit diversity.
There is a game very much like I’m describing here. Unfortunately, it’s a tabletop game. Warhammer 40k. It’s a neat game, I’ve played it a few times. Unfortunately, it’s miniature only and those are not cheap. A decent unit can cost about $150, plus time to assemble and paint the miniatures. Many places will not let you play (especially tournaments) if the miniatures aren’t painted. Have you ever tried to assemble and paint 120 1.5 inch tall infantry men? It’s a pain in the butt.
So please, someone, let me know if this game exists. If you’re a programmer, let me know, I’ve got all the details designed. I just need someone to punch them into an engine… and develop an AI, but I can help with that too.