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Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:52 pm
by Charles Lewis
Steve Cole from FC Forums wrote:The original design was not adequately playtested

Yeah, the 10 years, or so, of VBAM 1E development and feedback from players was simply not enough. :roll:

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 5:56 pm
by Shadow Warrior
Charles Lewis wrote:Yeah, the 10 years, or so, of VBAM 1E development and feedback from players was simply not enough. :roll:

They weren't on Jean's mystery list so they don't count. :lol:

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 6:52 pm
by PaulB
Was digging through the FedCom forum, found this post by Steve from Dec 2010, pretty funny:

Steve Cole from FC Forum wrote:Let me be clear about a few things...

1. Jay is a great game designer, and I've never said anything less about him. No one from ADB has ever said a critical word about the DESIGN of Fed Admiral ... c&start=23

Hilarious given all the events that have transpired since then, he even re-iterates it in another post:

Steve Cole from FC Forum wrote:3. The "game design" is good, even brilliant. Nothing wrong with that. The worst design issue is that in a list of 100 defined terms, Jay forgot to define three terms. I've done worse. ... c&start=39

And yet two-three days later he pulled a complete 180 on everything he'd said:

Steve Cole from FC Forum wrote:The tech block thing is all wrong (under it, if you have an FF and a DD, you have to research an FFS and DDS separately), but the fix replaces 3 or 4 paragraphs (the math-EP-d100 system is fine, but what you do and do not have to research is quirky).

Steve Cole from FC Forum wrote:These three covered the supply system. It's VERY complex compared to F&E, an extraordinary amount of fuss and bother for something that (to my mind) the staff weenies take care of without bothering us command-grade combat officers. I know enough not to outrun my supplies, so why should I have to do all of this work? The system is seriously different from F&E, which concerns me. It also concerns me that the system Jay is coming up with is going to generation zillions of "new planets" not on the F&E map, and I am not sure that I want them in the gazetteer. I certainly have no time to vette them. There is also the point that a "marked on the map planet" in F&E generates more money than six blank hexes, each with 50 colony planets, and yet Jay's system is drawing supply from those newly named and generated colony planets. This leads to a mountain of concern. ... c&start=44

He then proceeds to complain about nearly every aspect of the game.

Tragic in a way, but terribly amusing if you got some downtime. Even more amusing when Steve gets all worked up when he feels his integrity is being questioned.

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:05 pm
by mwaschak
Shadow Warrior wrote:
Ten, eh? Such a shame we can't just have the one that was originally planned... a VBAM supplement for Federation Commander.

How about when all of this dust has settled I go back and offer them a FC supplement for VBAM 2e :P .

Sorry about being so quiet this week. I was traveling and had the PC put away.


Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Thu Sep 08, 2016 5:30 pm
by PaulB
Yeah so on the BGG boards, one of the ADB defenders called me a Troll and compared to me to people who beat their wives:

Nice fanbase huh?

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 10:54 pm
by PaulB
Tony just posted on the BGG. Admits that that he was wrong in saying he didn't playtest it.
Good on him for this.

Ah... Goodie.
10 pages in, but it's back to me - the ADB Fanboy scapegoat.
As you've pointed out quite thoroughly - I did indeed spend time playing the game.
I still do not however; at this late date remember much about the games we played (other than what is posted online) as my interests moved on to other things as the entire system seemed destined to never be published.
I have read the threads you linked to... I have re-listened to the podcast you linked to, and you know what... apparently I forgot more than I realized I had. I do wish I still had my computer from 8 to 10 years ago... I'd try to find any emails regarding our observations and post them here for you to read. Unfortunately, I don't - so I can't.
[Although Jay and ADB have my permission to post any email correspondence between myself and them regarding the game. I would be interested in seeing - 10 years after the fact - what I said about it back then in addition to the online posts previously referenced.]

I know you will not believe me, but I truly did lose interest in the system as it seemed less and less likely to come to fruition. And as newer games and activities... chief among them, play testing of ACTASF and then later ACTSF 1.2... came along that attracted my attention.

My initial declaration that I did not play test it was, as pointed out - erroneous.
I would have been much better suited to state that I didn't recall much about the games that we played, beyond the fact that we used them to generate scenarios for use in Federation Commander.

I know I mentioned the FACRS [Federation Admiral Combat Resolution System... IIRC] which is the present point of contention; online but I'm not sure that we ever used it... although if we did, I'm sure you will remind me. ;)

If we did in fact, NOT use the FACRS - then we should be chastised for that omission. Chalk it up to being ADB fanatics, or less than perfect play testers, or just sheer laziness - either way, we should have used (and tried to abuse) the FACRS. Just as we should have played FA the way it was written and not the way 'we knew' the SFU should have worked... Using improbably fleets and odd-ball situations that could have been legally created in Fed Admiral. If we had, we might have identified some of these alleged short-comings in 2006.

[I use the term alleged because I have not seen the new rule set, and I have not (as far as I can recall) used the FACRS to resolve any combats that would expose said deficiencies. Until I do play out battles using this system - I cannot make a statement myself]

This is where the real problem comes in. I can see everyone's side on the combat issue.
The VBAM system for combat resolution works, and works well apparently; according to Paul. and I have no reason to doubt him.
The F&E combat system also works well... I know this because I play Fed & Empire.
But I don't think either of them are exactly right for Federation Admiral, either.

I'm not an attorney and do not claim to be one. I've never seen the ADB / Paramount contact (and do not want to). I've heard for many years that the contract has this clause and that clause in it. I don't know - but ADB has been in business for over 30 years and they do have attorneys looking at so I take them at their word there.
That means that as good as the VBAM system is - there are several features in it that do not mesh with the SFU background.

Now, there's the F&E system - which does mesh with SFU background - but it's not right for Fed Admiral either. In a grand, tactical game covering the either Alpha Quadrant, thousands of ships, and 18 years of the General War - it works well.
For an operational level game though, it doesn't have enough detail or options.

What then is the solution? I'm not sure and at this point, I'm rather glad I'm not the one who has to decide. 'Cause you danged sure aren't pleasing everyone!!!

I tend to agree with Peter on this one. While its important that it have a combat system that works... it's secondary to the operational aspect of the game as there are several potential combat resolution systems that can be used.

OK... for someone who's stayed out of this for the last nine pages - that's a rather long post.:D

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2016 11:57 pm
by Shadow Warrior
What a bunch of self important dicks. Ah well, FA doesn't sound like it's going to be of much interest to me anyway after SVC's finished messing it up.

And yes, Jay, you should definitely offer them a 2e version. They've been writing Traveller Prime Directive for about three hundred years as well... so long they missed a version there too. And let's not forget d20 Prime Directive that came out in a 3.0 edition years after 3.5 had been released.

Because of course, some guy at Paramount goes through every line they write backwards checking it to an SFU history they know off by heart. FFS.

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Sat Sep 10, 2016 3:49 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
The saddest thing is that some of the outcomes they are looking for could easily have been accomplished by a simple modification of the CSCR rules.

They want single squadron combat? No problem! Just limit task forces to a single squadron and change the way that reinforcements work so that you can bring them over at the end of each round.

They want a shallower range of combat results? Just copy over that element and use that instead of the 10-60% effective system that is there now. Surprise could then just modify these rolls without issue.

But the best option obviously is to dump the baby out with the bathwater (and the kitchen sink for good measure?) and start over from scratch.

The BGG thread has been particular infuriating because it seems like it has pretty much derailed completely, and there are a lot more people that seem to have "read the FA first draft, and it was rubbish" than we ever knew were involved or that Jay received feedback from. I agree that the decimal maintenance changes are a bad thing, too, because I DID THAT for 2E during a playtest and it caused problems for everyone because you could no longer eyeball the cost of units on the fly. I think it was Paul that hit me over the head saying "this is stupid, give me fractional maintenance back" (not in those words, of course) because it's much easier to calculate maintenance using the fractions without having to whip out a calculator.

There's also the fact that strategy games are notoriously difficult to balance because there are too many moving parts and interactions to take into consideration. It usually isn't until an electronic version of the game is created and you can run through games faster that you can start seeing all of the issues just because you can play more rapidly so that those kinds of things become evident. I've heard stories about how players are starting to find some issues with Twilight Struggle that weren't evident on the tabletop just because now the electronic version lets you play a full game in 45 minutes, and that lets you play more often and start noticing patterns and elements that weren't quite apparent when you spend 2-3 hours playing a game with physical components (or the one nightmare game that lasted 6 hours with someone with bad analysis paralysis).

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:59 am
by PaulB
Right now there are three main guys on the BGG thread

Garth - Who is fairly level-headed, but I think I pushed his buttons a bit too much so now he's defensive and repeating a lot of what SVC is saying. I don't think he's seen the draft at all, but just takes what SVC says as gospel most of the time.

Peter - Who knows nothing about Fed Admiral but just likes to disagree with everything I say even when I'm quoting ADB's own words which directly contradict his claims

Andy - Who know knows nothing of Fed Admiral or VBAM either but claims that he is 100% correct in saying that SVC is likewise 100% correct in every change he's made. He claims to have played "hundreds" of fleet battles in SFB. Which, is a very dubious claim at best given how notoriously unplayable the game is with more than a couple of ships.

So of the three, Garth is the only one who has actively shown interest on either the ADB boards or the BGG boards. Peter and Andy are just jumping up and down, waving their arms about.

Oh and there's also Dennis (Aegis777) who is the one voice of reason of the long-time SFB fans.

As for the CSCR,
See Steve Cole changed all the ship values before he even tested the combat system. He apparently threw out most of the rules, all of the ships stats, and then sent it to playtesters and was suddenly surprised by the combat rolls. So then hes' on about changing the combat rolls as well.

Though in the past he's complained about maintenance, logistics, supply, espionage, tech system, etcetera. Basically every rule in the book, he even complained about the list of terms. So- who knows. Who knows what will remain if anything. Most of the WAP VP rules still seem to be in there though he's meddled with a lot of them, has encouraged players to throw half of them out if they don't like them, etcetera. The text he's added to the rulebook is frankly very bizarre.

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Sun Sep 11, 2016 3:39 pm
by Tyrel Lohr
With the VP issue, I do have some sympathy for SVC in that regard as there were many of the original WAP missions that were grossly unbalanced because they were based on experiences from FA development that didn't hold true for VBAM itself. For example, I think there was a mission that have you 1 VP per enemy ship killed. This works fine when everyone is more or less balanced and fleet sizes are small, but it falls apart the minute you have hordes of gunboats flying around. I had to work with Jay to get those fixed for WAP before it released.

That being said, the passive aggressive tone of some of the ADB text changes does make me roll my eyes sometimes, but it makes sense that this isn't a genre that SVC enjoys and he'd much rather be working on other projects that hold his interest better and that he finds enjoyable to write for. I completely understand that!

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:06 am
by PaulB
Yeah but if he dislikes some part of the product, or has some problem with what Jay's formatting or anything else, those sentiments should be kept behind closed doors. He is so afraid of shouldering any blame for the project's shortcomings that he uses Jay/VBAM as a scapegoat. For example, just say "we're having formatting issues" and be done with it, or "we've encountered some balance issues".

I've never encountered another company who has been so openly hostile of a contractual business partner. At least one store owner who chimed in on the BGG thread, said he has stopped stocking ADB products for exactly that reason (though not necessarily Fed Admiral).

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:57 am
by Shadow Warrior
In SVC's blog entry from yesterday, which was on the subject of how to be a good game designer, he holds up VBAM (without naming it) as an example of bad game design because there is little skill involved in playing it and the outcome is largely determined by luck.

Of course, based on his extensive experience of playing VBAM (none).

Expect the sycophants over at BGG to pick up and replay that message very soon.

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 2:14 pm
by Charles Lewis

VBAM is all luck? :roll:

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 4:29 pm
by Shadow Warrior
Charles Lewis wrote:...

VBAM is all luck? :roll:

Yeah, you know, that VBAM game. The one where you may as well just toss a coin at the beginning to see who's won.

UnIike the totally awesome F&E where you spend ages rolling dice and cross-referencing charts just to tell you that the larger fleet won while suffering two thirds casualties.

Re: Federation Admiral Public Update

Posted: Thu Sep 15, 2016 5:14 pm
by PaulB
Charles Lewis wrote:...

VBAM is all luck? :roll:

Yeah the SFB grognards can't bear the thought of one side rolling a 1 in combat and the other side rolling a 6. It keeps them up at night, tossing and turning. "What if that 1 is me?! I'll have to stop and think about my invasion plans!"

When talking about the possibility of a smaller fleet defeating a larger, for example a fleet outnumbered by an additional 50%, one guy said that the smaller fleet winning should be rare if one played a 100 games. Then he creates a table which makes the odds of the smaller fleet winning only about 1/1000, and the odds of them doing more damage on any given turn about 5% less as well.


Incidentally Jean also posted in the ADB boards saying that the game was delayed until 2017:

Amarillo Design Bureau has decided that our original plans for public beta testing of Federation Admiral this month cannot be implemented. Developmental testing of this creative and exciting campaign system which is powered by VBAM will be kept in-house with veteran players familiar with campaigns and the Star Fleet Universe. Regrettably, this means that the PDF sales of a playtest version of Federation Admiral will be delayed until next year. Both VBAM and ADB wish to make sure that this is the quality product that you expect from either company, and the reality is that it's just going to take more work to produce a beta-test document that blends VBAM with the SFU and is contract compliant. We've all put hundreds of man-hours into making this campaign system work well with all the games of the Star Fleet Universe. During the next few months, work will focus on creating a workable combat system and testing it to the point that testing by a broader public group of players can begin. (As of today, there is not a complete system for anyone to test and we do not want to just say "use the F&E combat system for now.") We expect to have usable reports by early 2017 and will incorporate that data into the system. ... POST761201

Apparently they're actually going to playtest all of those changes instead of just dumping it on the estores as Steve had originally planned to do back in August. :-P