Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Video Games: Inspiration to Tabletop Games.

A screen shot from Company of Heroes 2. This is from a map I designed.
     It always has interested me on where a lot of wargaming terrain ideas come from. For the most part, there is a "Sharing means caring" community amongst  fellow wargamers. Most of these ideas are past down from previous generations of wargamers, and some are new. In my case, I had a lot more influence from the digital world of video games and internet over what was available. Not to knock a lot of old school wargamers, but the newer generation of wargamers have new expectations. This could be taken as a disrespectful insult or a challenge to up your game. And I think the latter may actually improve the hobby.
    In several recent articles I have read that there is a bunch of talk about how to improve retention in the hobby of wargaming. As a hobby, it is constantly changing as new rules come out and some rules fade away. There is always something going on in this hobby of ours. The big concern with retaining new blood for out great games seems to be on the mind for these few articles. The one point that is never mentioned in these articles is that the younger audience is from the age of digital. These are the video game generations with Nintendo Gaming Systems, Sega, and Computer Games. It is important to address this for one major point: we are highly visual!
   When I was growing up, I experienced Atari, Nintendo, Sega, and computer games. In fact, other than my artistic mind, these games had a major impact in my life. The same goes for T.V. I watched a series called "The Blue and the Grey" when I was younger about the American Civil War. It was not that great of a series, but there was not a lot going on in the late 70's and early 80's when it came to shows. When, I saw the movie, "Glory", I was hooked on Civil War history. I went with my uncle who collected Civil War rifles to various battlefields. It helped that Kennasaw Mountain was less than ten miles from me where I was in Marietta, GA. So you can imagine my excitement as a kid when I discovered Nintendo's "North and South" game! I played that game until it stopped working. It did, and I never found a copy to play again.
What a great game! *

You had to make it a point to knock out the bridge with the cannons!*

    Even though, it was a Nintendo game, it was one of the first strategy games I had ever played. This type of game was new to me, but I found constant games that met this criteria. One of the major ones for me was the game "Starcraft." I loved this game, and was pretty good at it. It was also one of the first games I played against anyone I just met. This game was also really awesome for the greatest evolution to video games: the ability to design your own battlefield that people could play online on it. This was another great artistic outlet for me before I ever wargamed. It is sad to say, but I did not get the experience of wargaming until five years after college. It is sad, but true!

    As graphics progressed with our society well entrenched in the Info Age, video games have taken off. The graphics, story line, game play, and the type have captivated millions of youth which is still growing. Hell, it is to the point of cell phone games! Pokemon Go, anyone? The point that I am making is that the newer generations of wargamers are wanting more. The expect more to entertain them. There are even some who expect these games now! This could also explain the popularity of games like X-Wing versus the Star Wars: Assault Game. One has figures you can buy painted, where as, the other, do not come painted.
     When it comes to terrain, I was designing it before I started wargaming. I designed several hundred of strategic maps for online games. Quite a few, surprisingly, are still played on, despite some others claiming the design. There are no real copy rights with these designs. Sometimes, I find some of my Company of Heroes designs online that have been improved. And I play on them! Knowing this, when I was playing against people on Company of Heroes, I felt a sense of something missing. It was sportsmanship! I could be winning and cussed out at the same time, and I wouldn't know the person. At the same time, my wife and I discovered our first wargame of Flames of War. In wargaming, we discovered we could meet people and have a wonderful time without the stress of an online game.
    Now, because of the online gaming, I must admit that the terrain to many of boards was lacking. This seemed odd to me, since we would play in a Hobby Town, U.S.A. where the terrain for train sets section was bigger than our house! Needless to say, after play our first couple of games, I started upgrading terrain. I have a pretty good imagination, but I could not bring myself to play on felt cutouts after playing online games with awesome graphics.

    A good friend of ours and one of the first wargamers we met up in North Carolina was a guy named Hugh. Hugh is an awesome painter when it comes to figures. I know I could paint to his standards as well, but I am a little more lax when it comes to it. For one, he had mentioned that tabletop standard only really has to look good in an arm's length. Two, there was an article I read in Wargamer's Magazine where a guy referred to by his colleagues as the "Terrain Dick" mentioned that 10% of the visual art that is for a game is just on figures. So why not improve on the terrain?

   So after this long-winded affair, the point is for this post is that we want our hobby to grow more. We want it to excite and inspire! And to do this, we, as wargamers, need to try to improve on these details, such as, painting our figures, and definitely improving our terrain. After all, the future of our wargaming hobby is based on a visual perspective!

A Company of Heroes 2 map I designed after Holland.

This was part of a map based of the design of a Flames of War mission from the book "Monty's Meat Grinders."

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I seem to be the first at adding lakes in Company of Heroes 2 maps. I still have not seen others with this feature.

I like flowers in a design, as you can tell.
 * Since I do not own these pictures and you are the owner, please contact me for removal if it is a problem.

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