WC TacOps Game Manual v0.1 released

Ironduke

Spaceman
Ladies and gentlemen, I proudly present: The first preliminary version of the

Wing Commander: Tactical Operations Game Manual

Wing Commander: TacOps (or even shorter: WCTO) is a turn-based wargame played on a hex map. As with most fan projects, a whole lot of work and time went into it, and I can't tell you how glad I am that I'm now at a point where at least some of it actually shows.

So what are you supposed to do with a manual, besides reading it? Easy: Play the game! Since I'm still tinkering with the balancing of capships vs. fighters, I would appreciate if someone found the time to help me playtesting the whole thing (PBEM-style). You might have stumbled over one of my test mission in this post - that's the GUI, but since I have no clue how to implement networking capabilities in Flash, you'd have to e-mail me your commands.

Also, if you browsed through the manual and found typos, or you simply have comments, feel free to post them in this thread!

I'll release things like ship counters, missile markers, game maps and ship sheets as well, so you might print those out at home. And, of course, the advanced rules have to be finished (including asteroids and nebulae, damage to ship components, collisions, campaign rules, etc.).

Needless to mention, I'll only continue this project if it generates enough feedback. So if you're interested in a WC hex (board) game - or if you couldn't care less -, please let me know! ;)

Here's the link to the manual: WCTO Game Manual v0.1 (ZIP-compressed PDF file; ~8.5 MB)
 

Bob McDob

Better Health Through Less Flavor
Hehe, TacOps. I remember that game.

Anyway, I'm no boardgamer, but your rules seem pretty solid and thought-out. Couple of things, though:

* When I first opened up the file I had to zoom in 150% before I could make out the text, and even then it was pretty awkward. I got used to it, but I could imagine somebody being turned off before they even make it through the first page. It's not just the size, it's the font; it doesn't exactly lend itself well to casual reading. I can't imagine this would work well for printed rules, either, let alone if somebody wanted to put in on a PDA or somesuch.

* Bits are awkwardly written - "Movement takes place in the movement phase (now who would have thought of that!)" The parenthesized bit is unnecessary and comes off as obnoxious. I realize you were probably trying to make it sound less patronizing, but it actually comes off as more so. If a manual ends up alienating its readers, it's violated a fundamental principle. The same goes for "the reason this was - and is - italicized"; the past tense isn't necessary and the explanation sounds slightly demeaning.

* I'm not quite sure how this is supposed to work in practice, or how difficult shooting down a fighter is supposed to be in the campaign, but the pilot rating chart seems to be either off or awkwardly phrased. Confed fixes "Ace" status at five kills, and you get your "Ace of Aces" medal at twenty-five; it seems worthwhile to include the "Century Award" distinction that happens upon one hundred confirmed kills, too (the one Hawk, a career veteran of twenty years of combat, was approaching when the war ended.) Instead of "ace," another moniker might (in my opinion should) be applied.)

The only other thing I noticed: "Confederated ship captains" (the proper alternative proper nouns are Confederate, ConFleet, or simply Confed.)

Besides all that, the main body of your work looks solid; as I said above, I'm no gamer, but I'll be looking forward with anticipation to your next works and playtest results.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
UPDATE

Thanks for your suggestions! I'll briefly comment on them:

* Zoom/small font: Yes, I know it's a rather small font, and I used a 150% zoom myself when writing/proof-reading the manual. It didn't disturb me much, but then again, I'm using a 22" LCD monitor. We'll see if there are more people having an issue with the font size - actually, if you print it out, the font size appears to be quite okay.

* Awkward bits: Granted - since I'm not an English native speaker, some of my phrases might sound a bit clumsy anyway. ;) I already corrected the passages you mentioned.

* Ace rating: Yes, I'm aware of WC's "ace" and "ace of aces" ratings - and to avoid further confusion, I simply changed it to "elite." However, please don't confuse the basic rules' pilot skill ratings with those of the (not yet released) campaign rules. We're talking about a means of leveling up pilots you use in simple free-for-all or team-vs-team dogfights - which are usually target-rich. Becoming an ace pilot could be accomplished very quickly that way, and I didn't want to have some 20 ace pilots after the first few dogfights. :)
The campaign rules are far more elaborate and will include the original WC ratings. Additionally, higher ratings in campaigns won't be aquired by kills, but by promotion points, which are also distributed more fairly. The basic rules' skills are just very, very simplified.

I've updated the game manual and put version 0.11 online. Apart from the changes above, I also revamped the appendix a bit. The new link (and the one for all future manual changes) is:


Wing Commander: Tactical Operations Game Manual v0.11
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
Errata in v0.11: The Grikath is rated as having a point cost of 6, while in "reality" its point cost is 7.

I'm currently working on implementing all other ships and bases I have available in v0.12 of the manual. Meanwhile, you can take a look at the most recent ship stats here.
 

Bob McDob

Better Health Through Less Flavor
* Zoom/small font: Yes, I know it's a rather small font, and I used a 150% zoom myself when writing/proof-reading the manual. It didn't disturb me much, but then again, I'm using a 22" LCD monitor. We'll see if there are more people having an issue with the font size - actually, if you print it out, the font size appears to be quite okay.

That's only part of the problem here, though; the other (more crucial part) is that the font you chose is hard to read. I have pretty good eyesight and capacity for discerning fine detail (with glasses, anyway) but it takes way longer to make out the text than it should. I got used to it several pages in, but that shouldn't be the case; one shouldn't have to fight an uphill battle simply to make out what the letters are.

If you'd made the font the same size, but with a more legible type, it wouldn't be nearly as bad as it is, and it would probably be readable at a greater distance, too.
 

ChrisReid

Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
I would appreciate if someone found the time to help me playtesting the whole thing (PBEM-style). You might have stumbled over one of my test mission in this post - that's the GUI, but since I have no clue how to implement networking capabilities in Flash, you'd have to e-mail me your commands.

Yeah, there does seem to be something a little off about the sizing/font. It sounds like it'd also be easier to just play back and forth over IRC to begin with rather than use email.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
UPDATE

I've put version 0.12 of the manual online. Major changes include:

* Font size raised from 10 pt to 12 pt. Hopefully, that will make the text more legible. It's still the same font, though, simply because I really like it and wouldn't want to replace it by a sans serif font. (BTW, it's a known fact that especially people wearing glasses have problems reading narrow fonts, like the one I used for the manual - no offense intended, I just hope the new font size is at least an improvement!)

* Flak cannons now work differently. Speed modifier rules have also been revised.

* Ship Stat Cards have been removed from the manual completely. I will release those separately, along with the necessary counters and markers. While the Ship Stat Cards are finished (for all 3D renders Marc sent me, that is), I'm still struggling with Flak and missile markers.

Some passages have also been altered, removed or enhanced.

@ChrisReid: I'm not sure if IRC play-testing would make much sense for me since I have to update the game turns manually, meaning I'd need at least a few minutes after all players sent their orders. Although, now that you mentioned IRC, I ponder reinstalling ICQ... ;)

Again, the link to the updated manual:
WCTO Game manual v0.12 (~3.5 MB ZIP archive)
 

Dran

Nothing is written here
Tried the trial game, but I am very confused. There are no promts to mark the end of a specific phaze, The A.I. does not move the enemy, and no conflict occurs even when I put ships on top of each other. 1 last issue is I could move a ship clear accross the board. (May want to make all controls accessiable using mouse instead of keyboard commands, Hot-keys are welcomed, but most thing should be avail through a menu.)
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
Tried the trial game, but I am very confused. There are no promts to mark the end of a specific phaze, The A.I. does not move the enemy, and no conflict occurs even when I put ships on top of each other. 1 last issue is I could move a ship clear accross the board. (May want to make all controls accessiable using mouse instead of keyboard commands, Hot-keys are welcomed, but most thing should be avail through a menu.)
Don't be confused: What you thought was a "trial game" is in reality nothing more than a map where you can drag around units. It's what helped me do some play-testing in the early stages of designing the game. WCTO is meant to be played as a board game, with dice, ship counters, missile markers, the likes.

Although, if you'd like to join a play-by-mail variant of the game (or play-by-ICQ, see my last post above :D ), you're more than welcome. Just let me know if you're interested. (Same goes for everyone else here!)
 

Dran

Nothing is written here
Don't be confused: What you thought was a "trial game" is in reality nothing more than a map where you can drag around units. It's what helped me do some play-testing in the early stages of designing the game. WCTO is meant to be played as a board game, with dice, ship counters, missile markers, the likes.

Although, if you'd like to join a play-by-mail variant of the game (or play-by-ICQ, see my last post above :D ), you're more than welcome. Just let me know if you're interested. (Same goes for everyone else here!)


This game is really giving me some interest. It reminds me of the D&D minitures game. The rules are a bit complicated and not sure if I understand it all, so I was wondering if you would be developing a full flash version. It would be really something to play. Congrats on this, I think this is a reall cool idea.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
This game is really giving me some interest. It reminds me of the D&D minitures game. The rules are a bit complicated and not sure if I understand it all, so I was wondering if you would be developing a full flash version. It would be really something to play. Congrats on this, I think this is a reall cool idea.
I'm really not good enough to develop something like a full flash version out of this game. I'd definitely love to do it, but I'm afraid I'm lacking the proficiency. :rolleyes:
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
UPDATE

I had hoped to put these online at least one week earlier, but what can I say: Real life just keeps interfering with my plans...
I still have to complete most of the game markers, but right now I've got the main sets of the Ship Stat Cards ready, plus a big hex map (divided into four smaller maps). Each stat card set includes printable back sides for each card, as well.
The hex map weighs about 35 megabytes (due to high resolution and sheer size), the stat card sets consume approximately 5 megs each.
All are meant to be printed out (which should hopefully work for everyone), preferably in full color. Personally, I chose to laminate my game maps and ship cards to make them more sturdy (I also applied the game maps on black glossy cardboard).

A quick rundown of what's downloadable at the moment:

WCTO Game Map - Open Space:
  • Space 001a
  • Space 001b
  • Space 001b
  • Space 001d
Download Map: "Open Space"

Terran Fighter Pack:
  • 2x Ferret patrol fighter
  • 2x Epee light fighter
  • 2x Rapier II medium figher
  • 2x Sabre heavy fighter
Download Set: Terran Fighter Pack

Terran Heavies Pack:
  • 2x Broadsword bomber
  • 1x Gilgamesh destroyer
  • 1x Waterloo cruiser
  • 1x supply depot
  • 1x star base
  • 1x sector base
  • 1x Confederation dreadnought
Download Set: Terran Heavies Pack

Terran Escort Pack:
  • 3x Clydesdale transport
  • 1x refinery
  • 2x Ferret patrol fighter
  • 2x Rapier II medium fighter
Download Set: Terran Escort Pack

Kilrathi Fighter Pack 1:
  • 6x Sartha light fighter
  • 2x Grikath heavy fighter
Download Set: Kilrathi Fighter Pack 1

Kilrathi Fighter Pack 2:
  • 6x Drakhri medium fighter
  • 2x Jalkehi heavy fighter
Download Set: Kilrathi Fighter Pack 2

Kilrathi Heavies Pack:
  • 2x Kamekh corvette
  • 2x Ralatha destroyer
  • 2x Fralthra cruiser
  • 1x supply depot
  • 1x sector base
Download Set: Kilrathi Heavies
 

Mike-L

Spaceman
I'm really not good enough to develop something like a full flash version out of this game. I'd definitely love to do it, but I'm afraid I'm lacking the proficiency. :rolleyes:

I'm not very good at flash but I have some experience programming simple games
(C++ / Java) and I very much like the idea of developing a full version of the game :)
I think I will be able to help with the code (except computer AI maybe) If you are interested.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
I'm not very good at flash but I have some experience programming simple games (C++ / Java) and I very much like the idea of developing a full version of the game :)
I think I will be able to help with the code (except computer AI maybe) If you are interested.
While a computer AI would be cool, I think we could substitute that for one or more human opponents in a pure multiplayer game. I'm thinking along the lines of ICQ's "Warsheep" here, to give just one example. Another approach would be play-by-mail: Have a look at the Crimson Fields project if you mind.

Apart from the fact that I don't think it'll be a "simple game" to code, you're more than welcome! I'd prefer C++ for performance reasons - however, coding the multiplayer part is probably easier to accomplish in Java. (Not sure there - it's been a long time since I tried C/C++.)
 

Mike-L

Spaceman
While a computer AI would be cool, I think we could substitute that for one or more human opponents in a pure multiplayer game. I'm thinking along the lines of ICQ's "Warsheep" here, to give just one example. Another approach would be play-by-mail: Have a look at the Crimson Fields project if you mind.

Apart from the fact that I don't think it'll be a "simple game" to code, you're more than welcome! I'd prefer C++ for performance reasons - however, coding the multiplayer part is probably easier to accomplish in Java. (Not sure there - it's been a long time since I tried C/C++.)

I think the game itself (without multiplayer) wouldn't be that hard to code (I've already thought over most of the stuff ). I'd rather say It will be time consuming. I also prefer C++ and imho it won't be very complicated to code multiplayer "by mail" similar to the one in Crimson Fields. To do so, it won't be necessary to use any networking at all. It's all about saving actual state of the game to a file. Then player sends it by email to another player.
I've noticed that Crimson Fields also features gameplay on client-server basis via LAN. It's all coded in C/C++ with the SDL_net library. I think that something like that would be also possible. I am more concerned about multiplayer via ICQ, cause at the moment I have no idea how to accomplish that :(

btw. Sorry if I made any mistakes, but English is not my native language.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
I think the game itself (without multiplayer) wouldn't be that hard to code (I've already thought over most of the stuff ). I'd rather say It will be time consuming. I also prefer C++ and imho it won't be very complicated to code multiplayer "by mail" similar to the one in Crimson Fields. To do so, it won't be necessary to use any networking at all. It's all about saving actual state of the game to a file. Then player sends it by email to another player.
I've noticed that Crimson Fields also features gameplay on client-server basis via LAN. It's all coded in C/C++ with the SDL_net library. I think that something like that would be also possible. I am more concerned about multiplayer via ICQ, cause at the moment I have no idea how to accomplish that :(

btw. Sorry if I made any mistakes, but English is not my native language.

Sounds like the PBEM variant in C++ is our best choice here, then. Don't worry about ICQ, I never planned to make it playable via any instant messenger. "Warsheep" was just an example what "instant turn-based action" could look like in a multiplayer game, and I picked "Warsheep," because I thought it was one of the more prominent ones.

Actually, what I'd like to see in the game is a separate editor GUI where you can create or modify scenarios (select and place ships and reinforcements, edit some in-game parameters, type in a title and description for use in a splash screen when loading up the scenario, the likes). Most of the graphics are already done anyway, so I could easily support you with any sprites, backdrops or buttons you might need.

You're welcome to discuss the details via pm or e-mail (or ICQ).

And don't worry about your English. I'm no native speaker, either. ;)
 

Kavok

Spaceman
Sir,

Had a play of the game 'so far' using just a few dogfights between several of the fighters on both sides. What came out of the game was that the Ferret, pretty as she is, cannot cope.

Fielded 2 vs. 3 against the Sarthas, and then 4 vs. 6, the Ferrets were quickly eliminated, and players swapped sides so skill wasn't a factor. Rolls were pretty much on the money too. Perhaps the Ferret should be reduced to 2 points per ship? For the same points the Epee performed much better. Given the choice, I don't think a Confed leader would ever take a Ferret.

I would also say that its performance against the Sartha was even-ish, but the Sartha is a 2-pointer.

I played the Games Workshop Space Battle game "Battlefleet Gothic" and yours is both simpler and more personal. A lot of fun really! Excellent work: just minor niggles now!

KvK

edit: Just had a thought sir, if you were worried about the Ferret being overpowered at 2 points, why not shave some of the armour off? That would make it nice and balanced for the price.
 

Ironduke

Spaceman
Fielded 2 vs. 3 against the Sarthas, and then 4 vs. 6, the Ferrets were quickly eliminated, and players swapped sides so skill wasn't a factor. Rolls were pretty much on the money too.
Tell you what: I "downgraded" the Ferret to 2 points. When comparing its stats to the Epee's or Sartha's, I thought its thicker armor would even out the odds. However, no missiles at all are obviously still worse than one single DF missile - that, and the Ferret's limited gunfire range of 2 hexes should justify the 2-point rating, I guess.

I played the Games Workshop Space Battle game "Battlefleet Gothic" and yours is both simpler and more personal. A lot of fun really! Excellent work: just minor niggles now!
Thanks, both for your kind words and for actually playing it! I admit I didn't have the time for extensive play-testing, so point cost balancing might really be off (which goes especially for capships). I'll be happy to hear whatever comments you come up with!

edit: Just had a thought sir, if you were worried about the Ferret being overpowered at 2 points, why not shave some of the armour off? That would make it nice and balanced for the price.
I prefer the 2-point solution, for a simple reason: I want the ship stats to be as true to the original WC games as possible.

Btw, no need to call me "sir," really. :)
 
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