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Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - Printable Version

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Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - GrimFinger - 08-11-2017

Deadline to submit new actions by Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 23:00:00 GMT-07:00.

Holy Hell!

Here I am, revved up and ready to try my hand at Clash of Legends once more, this time as an Orc Warchieftain. But, what do I get?

The Northmen.

Seriously?!

PAH! Well, now what? Looks like I'm going to have to improvise. From the list of e-mail accounts for the various players in this particular game of Clash of Legends, it doesn't look as though Bernd, our ever-absent assistant editor for Suspense & Decision magazine, made it into the game. Mu-hahahahahahaha! I shall take some small delight in knowing that this was one time when he paid the price for his gnoming about.

I'm for the South, but I'm playing the Northmen, of all things. My gut instinct and first impression both agree that this doesn't bode well for my people's fate. Yet, we are a hearty bunch, or so I suppose. I don't even know what kind of accent that I'm supposed to talk with, and they want me to wage war against multiple different kingdoms steeped heavily in evil notoriety? Sure, what could go wrong?

I guess that you'll have to tune into Suspense & Decision magazine and this forum thread, in order to find out.


Issuing Orders for Turn #1 - Game #421 - War of Dwarves and Orcs - GrimFinger - 08-22-2017

Thus begins my attempt to create a set of turn orders for the Northmen position in Game #421, the night before the deadline date. Here are some of my thoughts about what I encounter. Note that the wait until I have about a single day or so to try and figure out what to do is deliberate, on my part. This increases the stress factor, but the point is to see how intuitive that the game's interface feels.

1. I am lost! No idea what to do, in spite of trying my hand at a different scenario, previously, a while back. It is a demoralizing feeling to be at a complete loss. I sit with my head in my hand, and the clock just keeps on ticking. The desire to play the game and the scenario in question is there. Yet, I don't know what to do, nor what I should do, nor even how to do it. I haven't read the rulebook, yet, so I am lost on that end of things, also. The online documentation that I stumble through is no real help. What is needed is some kind of starter guide for the position, itself. I do not feel that the game is designed with the new player in mind. This player certainly feels the struggle, inside, but it isn't the game, itself, that creates this struggle. Rather, it is just the feeling of being at a complete loss.

2. I have printed the rulebook - the entire thing. To my dismay, the font size is too small to be of any use to me. This stack of paper, dozens of pages, will simply end up getting throw into the trash. If I intend to play this game, I'll have to rely upon reading the rulebook on my computer screen - which all but ensures that I will skim the rulebook, rather than actually read it at length. This will place me at further disadvantage within the game. Wasted toner. Wasted paper. Wasted time.

3. OK, so I am in the rulebook, now what? Honestly, no idea. I've wasted (that's what it feels like, anyway) a couple of hours or so, thus far. The clock keeps on ticking the whole time, bringing the deadline closer and closer. I have to work tomorrow, so if I don't get a set of turn orders created tonight, before I head off to bed, then that will mean that I won't have much time tomorrow, if any, to actually work on my turn orders then. So, this instills a real sense of urgency in me, and the fact that I am already tired from a long day leaves me wondering why I joined this game.

4. I joined, because I wanted to play an orc position. Instead, I am saddled (again, how I feel) with the Northmen. So, the scenario that inspired me stuck me in a position that does nothing to inspire me. Now, trying to figure out how to issue turn orders, and then to figure out what turn orders to exist, feels more like a chore than an epic adventure. Dull. Boring. Drudgery. These are all accurate terms to describe what I am feeling, right now. The wholesale degree of ignorance about the game and this scenario and this particular position all conspire to undermine any sense of enthusiasm that should be there, but which isn't. So, from an enthusiasm standpoint, I feel as if I am in quicksand, in over my head.

5. Before I did anything else, I made sure that I downloaded the most current version of the Counselor program. I had already downloaded my initial set-up info, or whatever it is called, and the map displayed reminds me of back when I played Middle-earth PBM, when GSI ran the game. Yet, the Northmen doesn't inspire any sense of much of anything within me. No orcs. No Nazgul. Just ordinary men. This yields an ordinary feel for the game, to me. I don't want to drop the game, but neither does it really matter to me, inside, how well that I do, or whether I get obliterated. In other words, there's no emotional attachment to this position for me. It makes me feel nothing. Yet, to get turn orders in regularly as the game progresses, won't I have to care about the position that I play? How will I do my best, or fight like Hell, if the kingdom and its people mean nothing to me, as a player?

6. Mostly, I just sit in front of my desktop computer's monitor screen, and shake my head. Over and over and over, again. What to do? How to do it? How to know if my choices are the right choices, or put another way, how to know if my choices are sound choices? The Google Group for Clash of Legends is a horrendous resource - at least, as far as I am concerned. Perhaps that is a bit harsh, but at a bare minimum, it doesn't strike me as a particularly useful resource. Give me a regular forum, any day.

7. Ten days prior to finding myself in this Hell of a mess to be in, I had sent out an e-mail to all players in this particular game of Clash of Legends. Only one bothered to respond, the Lindon player, a fellow by the name of Baldo. So, no real communication and coordination for our team. We do have a team, don't we? Or a group of loose allies, perhaps? Really, who knows? Baldo did inform me that this was his first game in this scenario (War of Dwarves and Orcs).

8. So, as of 8:31 PM the night before the turn orders are due, this is where I find myself. Now, to find the strength to power through this mess. I can always just experiment, and in fact, this is what I am currently leaning towards doing. This is not where Clash of Legends needs its players to be, at this stage of their experience with the game.

9. So, it's back to the interface for me. The problem, more than anything else, I suppose, is that the interface of the Counselor program feels anything but intuitive to me. At a glance, I need to know how many orders that I can issue, and to what or to whom that I can issue them. At the moment, this game is dredging up bad memories of Fall of Rome. Fall of Rome's interface was easier to use, however, but even the Northmen hold more interest to me, as bad as I already made them sound, than the rather generic feeling positions that I remember from playing Fall of Rome. Right now I sure don't feel like I'm in Middle-earth.

10. The interface of the Counselor program that Clash of Legends uses reminds me too much of a spreadsheet - and God knows that if I hate anything, it's spreadsheets! Experienced players enjoy something called a degree of familiarity with the interface. If I had any degree of familiarity from trying this game a long while back, it has long since evaporated. I feel brand spanking new, again - and baby, that ain't good!

11. Every time that I click from characters to cities to armies to magical items to nations to finances, to game to actions to troops, as far as clicking on the various tabs in the Counselor interface goes, it all screams spreadsheet at me. ACK! Just shoot me now, and be done with it, dammit!

12. After fiddling with the interface a bit (to be read as, a long while), it appears that I can issue orders to two different categories of "things" - namely, characters and cities. Now, I might be wrong about that, but that is the impression that the interface has left me with, after struggling to try and grasp it enough to come to terms with it, without having to drown myself in reading a bunch of rules. Again, this is all a test of how intuitive or not that the interface comes across as. Right now, I give the interface failing grades, where the issue of intuitive is concerned. The more unwieldy and clunky or clumsy that a game's interface feels, the more likely that a player is to drop out of the game prematurely, I feel. Knowledge of a game's mechanics and familiarity with rules and with an interface are separate things from whether a game's interface is intuitive on its face or not.

13. Not knowing how many orders that I can issue, either for characters or cities, I find myself in a bit of a new bind. Do I just issue orders in a pell-mell fashion, issuing as many as I think that the game's interface seems to be willing to allow me to do, in spite of my lack of knowledge and familiarity? Or do I try to dig a tunnel through that thick rulebook with the text too small to be inviting for me to read? What a Hell of a choice, huh? I am, truly, in between the proverbial rock and a hard place, right now, and neither is a good choice, as far as I am concerned.

14. I pause long enough to dig back through past issues of Suspense & Decision magazine. I had to open no less than seven back issues, before I found an article that I had authored for Issue #4 of S&D. In that article, there on Page #37 of Issue #4, what was it that I said, at that time?

The smokes and mirrors of magazine propaganda aside, though, the movement of both characters and armies seems straight- forward enough. Not quite as elegant as was the case in Fall of Rome, a few years back, but function and easily enough accomplished, in any event, for a game of this nature and type and style.

Say, what?! Nonetheless, there these words stand, in the perpetuity of digital ink. So, what does this tell me? Well, obviously, it tells me that I forgot what little that I knew back then, and it also tells me that any familiarity gained through the play of the game in past times is subject to being lost upon the altar of time. In other words, where this latest version of the Counselor software is concerned, I'm back to square one. The night before the final day, trust me - This sure ain't here you want to be!

15.I had sent a message to the Clash of Legends Facebook page just over an hour ago, but only silence emanates from that point. So, truly, I am alone, here in the late night hours of a Monday night. My eyes want to sleep. My body wants to rest. Yet, the name of this game - Clash of Legends - seems eerily appropriate at this late hour, for this game's interface and I have already begun to clash with one another.  Right now, I'm losing.

16. Returning to the PDF version of the rulebook, I zoom in to 150%, to aid my aging, tired eyes this night. I find what I feel to be my first big break under the Recruit Troops section of the rules - specifically, where it says: Type: Free - An actor (PC, city, army, nation, etc) can execute as many free actions as the available slots.

So, I need to figure out how many slots that there are for me to fill this turn. That's a starting point!

17. So, I then perform an electronic search of the PDF rulebook for War of Dwarves and Orcs for the search term "slots," and that leads me to an entry on Page #24 of the rulebook for the section called City upgrades. There, it said: The City upgrade package gives you 5 slots for improving cities. Each upgrade slot will increase both the size and fortifications of a city, but any that exceed the maximum are lost. You can apply more than one slot to the same city. For instance, a package with two slots selected for a village/none would make it a burgh/fort. If an invalid hex (without a city, or a city form other nation) is selected, then the Judge will make random selections to apply the upgrades.

So, what does this mean, exactly? Not sure. What does the term "upgrade package" refer to? Again, not sure. Yet, it's something exceedingly and immediately relevant, I think.

18. So, after clicking the Find Next arrow of the PDF search function, I soon exhaust my search for the term "slots." Yet, it remains a term shrouded in mystery. I grasp what a slot is, but I do not fully grasp slots and upgrade packages in the context of Clash of Legends. So, back to the Clash of Legends Google Group I go, to try and find out!

19. A quick browsing of possible message thread candidates that revealed themselves after I did a search for "slots" in the Clash of Legends Google Group made something click, and I then went back to the Counselor program to look more closely at the Cities tab. With my Cities tab set to Own, as in display only the cities that my position owns, I take notice of the fact that different size cities (population centers) have different amounts of open slots (white in color) down in the Actions section, which is below the table that contains all of my cities displayed in it.

Bingo!

That right there is a moment when the light bulb in my head turns on. I call it a Bingo moment. Voila! Ah ha! Now, this is something that I consider to be a major instance of progress. Now, maybe I can get somewhere with the filling out of my turn orders. The current time? 9:37PM.

20. So, since the total number of orders available to me appear to be the number of slots that my characters have, plus the number of slots that my cities have, that comes to a grand starting total of 34 orders.

Whew! What a relief! Why didn't the info that I had for the position simply tell me that, to begin with? That would have made it so much easier, and so much less frustrating, and so much less discouraging. Now that I know how many orders that I can issue for the turn, I can begin to see some light at the end of this long, dark tunnel of several hours of sitting in this chair, trying to sort this whole mess out.

21. Since the more slots that you have, the more orders that you can issue on any given turn, my gut instinct now tells me that I need more or better characters, or bigger cities, in order to be able to carry out more task and missions, from turn to turn. Now, which is the better deal? Which gives me more bang for my Clash of Legends buck? No idea!

But.....reducing the frustration of being completely in the dark is worth a king's ransom to the player new to the game. A feeling of hope begins to take root. Oh, sure, I might still bow things out my ass and fail so completely as to become infamous among Clash of Legend's overall player base, but that truly matters not - because I care far less about winning the game than I do about understanding the game. Of course, I'm still stuck with the Northmen, and hope for being able to maybe actually player this game should not be confused with enthusiasm for the position being played.

22. Where improving a city from one level to the next level up in size is concerned, the rulebook states: Success depends on the city’s loyalty and current city size, as it’s harder to improve as cities get bigger.

Yet, where is the formula for success found? No idea!

Back to the Class of Legends Google Group  to dig for clues.

23. It is now 10:00PM, Monday night, and the first order has not even been issued, yet. A quick browsing of the Clash of Legends Google Group, with searches for improve cities and cities as search phrases leads me to conclude (perhaps prematurely or erroneously) that improving cities is prone to failure. My gut feeling, at this stage in time, is that I will simply experiment, and maybe try to increase fewer pop centers in size, early on.

24. The clock strikes 10:30PM, and all orders to my cities have been issued. That leaves only the character orders to be dealt with. Hallelujah!

25. As of 11:10PM, I have issued orders to my characters, as well. Yet, when I go to save my turn orders to a file for uploading to the Clash of Legends judge program for processing, the Counselor program through which I issue orders to my kingdom yields the following warning message: Watch out! Northmen has at least one open action slot. You may want to double check it.

Granted, I do want to check it - and I have, in fact, checked it, again and again and again. Even still, I do not see what is missing. The slots all seem to be full. After all this time and effort, I remain lost - albeit to a significantly smaller degree.

Yet, in spite of that lingering reminder of just how unfamiliar that I am with Clash of Legends, nonetheless, I feel that I have made honest and genuine and meaningful progress, in spite of me getting off to such a slow - and harsh - start.

26. Turn orders have been uploaded, even though I still don't know what the empty slot was, not how to figure out how to find the missing slot. Time showing on the clock? 11:16PM, Monday night.

This concludes this entry in this thread.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - John M - 08-22-2017

(08-11-2017, 10:43 PM)GrimFinger Wrote: Deadline to submit new actions by Tuesday 22 Aug 2017 23:00:00 GMT-07:00.

Holy Hell!

Here I am, revved up and ready to try my hand at Clash of Legends once more, this time as an Orc Warchieftain. But, what do I get?

The Northmen.

Seriously?!

PAH! Well, now what? Looks like I'm going to have to improvise. From the list of e-mail accounts for the various players in this particular game of Clash of Legends, it doesn't look as though Bernd, our ever-absent assistant editor for Suspense & Decision magazine, made it into the game. Mu-hahahahahahaha! I shall take some small delight in knowing that this was one time when he paid the price for his gnoming about.

I'm for the South, but I'm playing the Northmen, of all things. My gut instinct and first impression both agree that this doesn't bode well for my people's fate. Yet, we are a hearty bunch, or so I suppose. I don't even know what kind of accent that I'm supposed to talk with, and they want me to wage war against multiple different kingdoms steeped heavily in evil notoriety? Sure, what could go wrong?

I guess that you'll have to tune into Suspense & Decision magazine and this forum thread, in order to find out.

Well, you should have selected your preferences in order when signing up for the game. 
There are over a dozen Orc nations that you could pick. If you don't choose them, then the system will pick one at random.

We are still working on the module to read minds, but it's imperfect as of now.  Rolleyes

Also, leaving things to last minute. What a good example of the Student's Law. In the very first email sent with the game setup and initial instructions, it was listed:

First steps for a new player:

-Make sure you join the announcements maillist. We use the list for announcements, rule changes and a few players’ discussions. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/clashoflegends
-Friend us on Facebook. It helps to bring more players as it shows the force of our community and you can see some trivia information and other stuff. Also, it will be used to identify if a fake account was created. https://www.facebook.com/clash.legends
-Go
 to the download section of the website and get the Counselor. Make sure you have Java installed and that you can run the Counselor.

-Also from the download page, check the Player reference sheet and Scenario rules.
-Check the Beginners section of our site: https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/beginners
-Read
 the FAQ section of our site: 
https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/faq


RE: Issuing Orders for Turn #1 - Game #421 - War of Dwarves and Orcs - John M - 08-22-2017

(08-22-2017, 03:17 AM)GrimFinger Wrote: Thus begins my attempt to create a set of turn orders for the Northmen position in Game #421, the night before the deadline date. Here are some of my thoughts about what I encounter. Note that the wait until I have about a single day or so to try and figure out what to do is deliberate, on my part. This increases the stress factor, but the point is to see how intuitive that the game's interface feels.


Thank you for the feedback. We improved a few things based on it.

1) We added a message in the beginners section to highlight the importance of reading the rules. In your post, a lot of the pain was caused because you were trying to learn a complex and rich game without knowing (or investing the time to know) the most basic concepts. The Counselor is not meant to be a tool to help beginners. The Beginners Guide and Players Reference Sheet are, in combination with the rules. They were both referred to in the very first message you received for this game.

This is an example of how the PRS could have helped with the time you took to understand where to add actions: 
Actions are what you, the player, do to control your nation from turn to turn. All characters you control may take actions, the type of actions depend on the character skills and status. See Characters below.


2) We noticed that the term slot was being overloaded. Depending on the context, slot could mean an action or a parameter. Now they are always qualified ad Action Slots or Parameter Slots.

3) We reviewed all mentions to packages to make sure they read as Startup Packages. Those are the unique boost packages that can be chosen by a player to make the nation more unique.

4) We will add a FAQ with the information that the rules PDF can be opened by Google Docs or Microsoft Word where one can change the font's size as desired. Or get new glasses if the eyes are too tired.  Cool

5) We put in a request to have the Counselor creating the rules PDF on the fly then allowing the player to choose the font size. You'd you prefer a font 18 and print twice as many pages, you got it!

6) Next time a player thinks: "What do I do? How do I do?", we strongly recommend them to read the rules. Or at least skim through it to find the answers. them let us know if the answers are not there. From what we can tell, all the answers you were looking for were both in the rules PDF and the Counselor help, while the most basic ones were also in the Player Reference Sheet.

7) As more people will read this post, we will have more feedback on how to improve things and they will be implemented.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - GrimFinger - 08-23-2017

John,

I will respond at greater length to your own responses to my previous posting, as time allows, which likely won't be tonight. I would stress this to you, though. The criticisms or commentary that is negative or critical, don't let those distract from one central truth - namely, figuring out the slots issue, what they were and where they were and how they work, that one central issue was a defining difference in me being able to dig myself out of the quicksand that I was in. The difference in grasping slots was of monumental and immediate importance.

I tried to explain what I saw or what I felt, in each of the numbered points, above. Certainly, reading the rules can be helpful, where any game is concerned. But, that's not the measure of how intuitive that a game interface feels, standing on its own two feet. Knowledge that a rulebook conveys can also convey familiarity. An average, ordinary person on the Internet who stumbles across your game might not want to read an 80+ page rulebook - even though a lot of those pages really weren't necessary to grasping how to jump right in and get started.

I am well aware that the scenario is new. It's still being developed and refined. If you can refine the interface to where someone who knows nothing about the rules, or even the interface, itself, can grasp it without clicking on a bunch of links and reading a bunch of different pages, then your chances of increasing your player base improves.

Also, to write about a game, as far as the experience of the game, itself, I have to be able to actually use the interface effectively. I don't want to get lost in the interface. I sure don't want to spend a bunch of time reading a thick rulebook. People met with those obstacles can easily persuade themselves to just try a different game, without ever really experiencing the full experience of Clash of Legends.

The initial frustration aside, when all was said and done, I was able to issue a set of orders that were what I wanted to issue. Now, ultimately, my choices may have not been the best or the wisest courses of action, but I did get them in under the deadline, and without reading a bunch of rules, yet while having a grasp of what I was trying to accomplish. Once the slots problem was figured out, things progressed fairly swiftly, all things considered. In my case, it all boiled down to one critical problem. Reading rulebooks is not the key to designing a game interface that is intuitive.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - Angerak - 08-23-2017

(08-22-2017, 09:05 PM)-Make sure you join the announcements maillist. We use the list for announcements, rule changes and a few players’ discussions. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/clashoflegends Wrote: -Friend us on Facebook. It helps to bring more players as it shows the force of our community and you can see some trivia information and other stuff. Also, it will be used to identify if a fake account was created. http://www.facebook.com/clash.legends
-Go
 to the download section of the website and get the Counselor. Make sure you have Java installed and that you can run the Counselor.

-Also from the download page, check the Player reference sheet and Scenario rules.
-Check the Beginners section of our site: https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/beginners
-Read
 the FAQ section of our site: 
https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/faq

I'm not sure why, but if I try to go to any of the links I get the "facebook broken link" page.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - John M - 08-23-2017

(08-23-2017, 06:35 PM)Angerak Wrote:
(08-22-2017, 09:05 PM)-Make sure you join the announcements maillist. We use the list for announcements, rule changes and a few players’ discussions. https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/clashoflegends Wrote: -Friend us on Facebook. It helps to bring more players as it shows the force of our community and you can see some trivia information and other stuff. Also, it will be used to identify if a fake account was created. http://www.facebook.com/clash.legends
-Go
 to the download section of the website and get the Counselor. Make sure you have Java installed and that you can run the Counselor.

-Also from the download page, check the Player reference sheet and Scenario rules.
-Check the Beginners section of our site: https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/beginners
-Read
 the FAQ section of our site: 
https://sites.google.com/site/clashlegends/faq

I'm not sure why, but if I try to go to any of the links I get the "facebook broken link" page.

Can you try https://www.facebook.com/clash.legends and let me know?
I'll update the links, thanks for reporting.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - Angerak - 08-23-2017

(08-23-2017, 08:11 PM)John M Wrote: I'll update the links, thanks for reporting.

The new link worked perfectly - thanks.


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - Angerak - 08-23-2017

What sort of application is the "councellor" app?  Are there any videos?

One of the most common bits of feedback I got from my alpha testing was that the UI is not immediately intuitive.  I have met with 2 of the alpha testers in the past week and they were running through what they wanted to see.  When I showed them that it was already there, they basically said "well, that's not obvious".  After I showed them, I asked if it made sense the way it is and I got a 100% yes - but it only made sense once I showed them how it worked.

Based on Grim's feedback, you might benefit from the same.  Nobody wants to read rulebooks.  It also seems that nobody wants to watch how-to videos either.  So, we as game developers need to find the middle-ground that gives the users the right level of handholding early on, without forcing them to sit through several hours of learning.

A tall order when your rulebook is over 100 pages long ...

Paul


RE: Game: #421 [Clash of Legends] Tolkien’s War of Dwarves and Orcs Circa 2973 - Angerak - 08-23-2017

Also, I'm curious, if the game is free - how do you make any money with it?  Do players pay for upgrades or fast-path solutions?

Or, are you building games for the love of game-making?

Paul