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3D A&A variant for PC, Web, and Mobile


  • '12

    Hello everyone!

    I am an indy game developer looking to develop a beautifully rendered custom A&A variant in 2D or 3D targetting the PC, Web, and Mobile platforms using my tool of choice, the Unity 3D engine (unity3d.com). I am looking for wargaming and A&A veterans to collaborate in creating a variant (or possibly original) game that incorporates as many wishlist items as possible. In other words, help me help you create the game you’ve always wanted.

    The idea is to base this on a Free-to-Play model; that is, anyone can play and receive the full experience without every having to pay a dime. The way I can make this work from a business perspective is to recoup costs via in-game purchases, such as expansions/variants or unique skins for the map, units, etc… Honestly though, this is more of a labor of love since as you all are probably already aware of, Hasbro’s A&A was a commercial flop, so it would seem that there’s simply not enough fans out there. That being said, I think there’s potential here to create a quality experience that may appeal to the masses in a way Hasbro’s version didn’t, and though it’s a gamble, I’m ready to take it should our discussions here prove fruitful.

    Here is a list of some subject matter that will need to be discussed and eventually ironed out in detail; if I’ve forgotten anything, please feel free to let me know so I can add it to the list.

    1. Project scope : determining whether an A&A clone, variant, or unique game is required.

    2. High-level requirements : high-level game concepts that don’t fall into the strategy or tactical layers can be described here; for example, 2D or 3D? Do we add a tech tree or not, and why, or oil-fields for refueling, etc…

    3. Strategy-level requirements : strategy-level game concepts can be described here; for example, National Objectives, turn-order, etc…

    4. Tactical-level requirements : tactical-level game concepts can be described here; for example, defining unit combinations that work better in tandem, special attacks, movement, etc…

    5. Rules : game rules.

    6. Metadata - any ideas pertaining to enhancing the overall game experience, as in how to display a large group of units in a small space, optimal and intuitive UI flows, etc…


  • Customizer

    Have you tried “TripleA” yet?

    It is the open-source adaptation, written in java, that I am currently developing.

    It plays all A&A games, and it is very flexible in that it allows lots of mods and user generated content (and not just A&A stuff either, people are designing totally different games, and one person got some other board games working on it too)


  • '12

    Hi Veqryn!

    I didn’t even realize it existed until a couple of days ago, and it seems that quite a lot of work has been put into it; clearly a labor of love. When I first saw this I thought that a port may be possible, but when I dug deeper I realized that it is a general framework for creating games rather than a particular game, which means that (assuming the TripleA developer would be interested in working together to port it) the code-base would be too complex for a port to Unity, and therefore not the right candidate for a first attempt given my limited resources (I’m essentially a one-man team and I pay for art/3D meshes out of my own pocket). My idea is based on the KISS model (Keep It Simple Stupid); I would like to create a framework for a singular game experience which can be played on multiple platforms (PC, Web, Mobile, and potentially Consoles if it makes sense to) which is something I can accomplish with minimal effort using the Unity engine. This is certainly within my capabilities and simplifies the coding aspect considerably since I don’t have to worry about supporting an infinite number of game variations.

    However, I love the idea of TripleA and I am starting to get ahead of myself with some ideas on how we can eventually merge our goals. For example, one thought that comes to mind is if I make the presentation layer (that is, the UI) modular enough to act as a shell that can be hooked into, then there should be no reason why the TripleA codebase can’t eventually be ported to Unity, resulting in the TripleA engine running behind a beautifully rendered (and possibly 3D/animated) scene that can be played on the PC, Web Browser, or the iPad.  😄


  • 2017 2016 2015 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    1. Project scope : determining whether an A&A clone, variant, or unique game is required.

    It should be based on perhaps Global 1939, which has taken much traction by our posters. It is a complete variant of AA.

    Of course having been playtested so many times, it should be close to perfect balance.

    All that needs to be done is plug in the rules and redraw the map. Check out it’s own thread.

    The main thing no matter what is done is NOT go down the road of “Heart of Iron” It’s really for hardcore people and is too complicated. Just keep the game simple.


  • Customizer

    very cool

    i actually do not know much about the unity engine.

    is it possible to have a java application doing the “business logic”, and unity engine doing the ui?

    i can certainly give some advice on the pitfalls and traps that you will encounter when coding, from an architecture and logic point of view (not from ui point of view)

    perhaps take a closer look at triplea, see how the game engine works, and more importantly, see how it “runs” the maps/games files, including the game xml, and all the files for the ui, etc

    that would certainly give a lot of ideas on how to make your engine


  • '12

    Java won’t be possible since Unity supports C#, UnityScript, and Boo (a Python derivative). However, I used to program in Java, and C# is mostly identical to the Java language so that helps. Of course, the libraries are different so the bulk of the work will be in translating dependencies on, let’s say, the Java hashtable to .NET’s Dictionary and coding a different approach when a direct mapping doesn’t exist.

    I would love your feedback on things to look out for as well as looking forward to eventually working with you if everything works out as planned.  😄


  • '12

    Ok, I’ll look at 1939; if everyone is keen on this, then it should simplify matters considerably.

    I do have a question regarding maps. Last night I wrote a script that takes a “blank map” of the world (blank maps are essentially grayscale maps freely available for use on wikipedia) and extracts individual regions from it and automatically figures out which regions connect to other regions. This comes in useful during the map creation process since only minimal user touchup is needed. That being said, I realized that the scale of countries in the actual game maps (such as Global 1939) vs a real world map is completely whacko, and I believe that this was done since most of the action revolved around Europe and the Pacific and to take the size of units into account. Since this was a major consideration on a physical board where space is a premium, my question is : should the software version use a real map since users can easily zoom-in at will, or should the “physical board-game friendly” map be used?


  • '12

    I was hoping that this thread would generate some lively discussion, but perhaps IL spoke for everyone when he suggested targetting Global War 1939. I have proceeded in this direction, but should anyone care to lend their voice in agreement or disagreement please let me know.

    In my previous post I raised a question as to whether or not to base the software version on a real map which can be zoomed in or out or use the same type of map used in the physical board game. I am hoping to hear some feedback on this since I have already put work into automating the map-creation process.

    In the meantime I have been working on a very simple UI prototype to sort out the most intuitive method of displaying a lot of information in a small space as well as monitoring or moving pieces across the board. This means that I have taken the opposite approach most developers (myself included) would take in creating a game, where normally one would implement the engine and only then worry about the UI. In this case I am of the opinion that the engine implementation is fairly trivial, meaning that the rules are well known and it is simply a matter of implementing them, and because there is no complex math involved the process is trivial albeit laborsome. The UI, on the other hand, can make or break a game, and I believe that it is the crucial element for me to get right, and as such I am devoting most of my efforts into evolving my UI into something that makes it a joy to use instead of a an encumbrance that needs to be tolerated in order to play the game. I have seen many good games ruined by a terrible user interface, extremely cumbersome to navigate through and very unintuitive, taking many clicks to get through the simplest tasks. A&A is particularly challenging because of the lack of real-estate (most regions are small, islands are worse), each region can contain a relatively large amount of varying unity types, and each country can have their own unit of each type in a region. Creating an interface that will allow 7 countries (let’s say 6 defending allies and 1 attacking axis), each with varying numbers of each of 7 different unit types, to be easily deployed and easily differentiated and quantified at a quick glance on a small island such as malta is a huge challenge, made even worse when you add naval units which are parked right outside the island.  Add to that the task of creating an interface in which the player can easily move pieces around and keep track of which and how many units are attacking what from which region, whether certain planes are involved in land assault or bombing run, etc… makes for a UI developer nightmare. I have already started serious work into exploring these issues and would appreciate any ideas and thoughts from the community. I plan to post varying evolutions of the UI prototype from time to time in order to get user feedback and help refine the process.


  • Moderator

    Anthony’s thread keeps getting marked as spam by the filter, so here it is:

    I was hoping that this thread would generate some lively discussion, but perhaps IL spoke for everyone when he suggested targetting Global War 1939. I have proceeded in this direction, but should anyone care to lend their voice in agreement/disagreement please let me know.

    In my previous post I raised a question as to whether or not to base the software version on a real map (which can be zoomed in or out) or use the same type of map used in the physical board game. I am hoping to hear some feedback on this since I have already put work into automating the map-creation process.

    In the meantime I have been working on a very simple UI prototype to sort out the most intuitive method of displaying a lot of information in a small space as well as monitoring/moving pieces across the board. This means that I have taken the opposite approach most developers (myself included) would take in creating a game, where normally one would implement the engine and only then worry about the UI. In this case I am of the opinion that the engine implementation is fairly trivial, meaning that the rules are well known and it is simply a matter of implementing them, and because there is no complex math involved the process is trivial albeit laborsome. The UI, on the other hand, can make or break a game, and I believe that it is the crucial element for me to get right, and as such I am devoting most of my efforts into evolving my UI into something that makes it a joy to use instead of a an encumbrance that needs to be tolerated in order to play the game. I have seen many good games ruined by a terrible user interface, extremely cumbersome to navigate through and very unintuitive, taking many clicks to get through the simplest tasks. A&A is particularly challenging because of the lack of real-estate (most regions are small, islands are worse), each region can contain a relatively large amount of varying unity types, and each country can have their own unit of each type in a region. Creating an interface that will allow 7 countries (let’s say 6 defending allies and 1 attacking axis), each with varying numbers of each of 7 different unit types, to be easily deployed and easily differentiated and quantified at a quick glance on a small island such as malta is a huge challenge, made even worse when you add naval units which are parked right outside the island.  Add to that the task of creating an interface in which the player can easily move pieces around and keep track of which and how many units are attacking what from which region, whether certain planes are involved in land assault or bombing run, etc… makes for a UI developer nightmare. I have already started serious work into exploring these issues and would appreciate any ideas and thoughts from the community. I plan to post varying evolutions of the UI prototype from time to time in order to get user feedback and help refine the process.



  • Interesting thread, I look forward to following the progress…


  • '12

    Hello everyone,

    I’ve been busy working at my day job and on a couple of projects on the side, one of which is the Axis and Allies variant I mentioned. I haven’t posted in a while so I thought I’d stop by and let you see where I was at so that you wouldn’t think this was vaporware. I’m posting a link to a technical demo of a 3D sphere with a custom map on it that can be zoomed in/out and rotated. The map used is very much a work in progress (sea zones need cleaning up) and will most likely end up being an alternative map that can be downloaded, but I’m working closely with one of the A&A veterans in creating a map that is more in keeping with the Global 1940 style or the 1984 Milton Bradley map; something more in line with the period. I do, however, want to get away from the old practice of distorting parts of the map since that was done on physical boards due to real-estate limitiations. We no longer need to do this due to our ability to zoom in and out of the map; this means we can use a real map that is scaled correctly, which is what I’m using in the demo.

    In any case, here is the demo of what we have so far; there are no units since this is just for testing the 3D map :

    http://www.quantumward.com/AA/WebPlayer.html

    edit : for those with a 64-bit browser you may need to install the following plugin (instead of the 32-bit one) at http://webplayer.unity3d.com/download_webplayer-3.x/UnityWebPlayerFull64.exe

    For Full-Screen mode, right-click and select from the menu. To exit, press escape key.

    Regards,

    Anthony


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Apparently my all-superior internet explorer browser is unsupported.

    IE is superior to everything, and unless I am expected to be running some dual boot linux system just to play and check out this variant you are making… (Which I’m not inclined to do) I would hope there is a simple solution to this problem - like a different link? 😄

    Glad to see you are back! I had written you off as Vapourware.


  • '12

    It should most definitely work on IE… do you get the “unity web player - install now” button? did you install it? let me know exactly what you experience.

    edit: Would someone else confirm that they experience the same issue in IE?


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    I get a white screen with black text that says

    **Unity Web Player | WebPlayer

    Unsupported browser.

    « created with Unity »**


  • '12

    Ahhh, let me guess… you’re using IE 9 64-bit?

    If so, the default Unity plugin on the page is only for 32-bit browsers. The 64-bit version can be found at http://webplayer.unity3d.com/download_webplayer-3.x/UnityWebPlayerFull64.exe.

    Let me know if this does the trick!

    Anthony


  • TripleA '12

    Hey, this is kind of cool! Feels weird spinning a globe though. Good zoom level too.


  • '12

    I updated the page to include some units in the mediterranean region for testing, just to get an idea of what their size looks like from different zoom levels. Any input regarding scale, colors, or anything is appreciated.

    BTW, you can view full-screen by right-clicking and selecting Full-Screen option. Exit with escape key.


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