10 Bloodiest Civil War Battles - ED GAME

scjoye

  • Posts: 62
http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/18439

A little background...

This is my first game and it is a SHORT educational game. The purpose is to teach students how / why the Union Army would win the Civil War almost every time, to give them a bit of background etc. on the battles themselves as most times when teaching about the Civil War much of the focus is on the history of slavery in the US, the Antebellum south, north south differences - the CAUSES of the war.

I would love some feedback. Clearly the version posted is too large (it is really to play as a stand alone flash file off of the computer itself) and runs slowly. After some initial feedback - thank you in advance - I will scale down to fit online. The images etc. have all been pretty scaled down to 56 color 72dpi PNGs, but there are a lot of images.

Any other thoughts on how to scale down more (I'll scale to 600 w ASAP) or thoughts on what to make it more interesting, any bugs you found, etc. please let me know.

I am already thinking of the next step which would be to let the player take the attack strengths (supplies, arms, rail) and CHOOSE when to apply them to each battle...

Thanks,

SC Joye

gruffman

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  • Posts: 562
Roll totals don't show :) I also didn't understand where the attack strength totals came from, they never seemed to change during battle?
Apart from that I am really impressed, I think this is an incredible use of Stencyl and certainly you have made an excellent educational tool here! Very playable :) Great tool and yet another fantastic entry into StencylJam.
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scjoye

  • Posts: 62
Cool - thanks Gruffman,

Roll totals don't show... So, it is supposed to be a RISKesque type of dice rolling... highest dice matches to highest dice and so on... so I don't want the mathematical total to show - if I understand you correctly.

Attack strength... Yes, I see looking back at the instructions page I did not explain that part very well... so historically in most battle situations the Union Army was better supplied, had more readily available weapons, and troop levels. I did a bunch of research on each of the ten battles included and did a rough calculations in each case to find who had a clear advantage regarding rail lines, general supplies and arms. So, in each battle the attack level for the north and south are indicative of that... BUT clearly I was trying to keep the instructions short and it seems I did not do a good enough job explaining that. IF I have time, I am going to repost the 640 x 480 updates version of the game by the end of the month - if time allows I'd like to create an additional aspect of the game so that the player actually chooses which battles to apply the three attack strength variables (rail, arms, and supplies) from a finite inventory / bank. This would add a level of strategy to the game that does not currently exist...

Otherwise - thank you for the feedback! Like I said I'll tool around with the instructions to make the attack levels more clear!

Hectate

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  • Posts: 4643
As a quasi-southerner, I'm obligated to remind you that we prefer to refer to it as "The War Between the States" rather than by the Unionist propaganda of "The Civil War".

Silliness aside, I think you've got a great thing going on from an educational standpoint. I recall one time I was setting up a game of Axis Vs. Allies (the board game) with my three brothers-in-law; when their mom asked what we were doing I replied "Secretly teaching them geography and history." Haha.

That said, from both a game and simulation standpoint, it's somewhat lacking. Here are my main two concerns:
1. There's nearly no interactivity, which turns this more into "Roll 100 dice and record the numbers." This makes it a non-game to me. Note that there's nothing wrong with non-games if that's your goal.
2. As a simulation of the war, it appears to be lacking in an appropriate level of interrelation. Specifically, you've indicated that this demonstrates "...why the Union Army would win the Civil War almost every time..."  except that you've given them the advantage in nearly every battle without regard to the results of each battle. A more cohesive simulation would require you to implement Union-advantageous starting conditions but permit their advantage to be altered or lost though the results of the previous battles. That would also require you to adapt the game to permit the inclusion of non-historical battles that would have taken place as a result of achieving non-historical results (e.g. imagine that Lee had won at Gettysburg, what would have followed?). As a result, I don't think the claim can be made that this demonstrates the probability of the Union being likely to win (and not because I'm a "quasi-southerner" either :) ).

And thus, you see that wargaming is an extremely complex topic - even when based on known historical data.
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scjoye

  • Posts: 62
HAH! This is fantastic - thank you! I was digging around for an answer to a bug I am having so saw your post immediately, I could not resist responding back ASAP.

Firstly, I COMPLETELY agree with you on most of your points re: the game functions, etc. Like I said, this is my first attempt at creating with Stencyl and time is a factor for me as I don't get to sit around making games all day.. too bad for me.

So - from a historical perspective, this is not so much a wargame, as a simulation to quickly understand the major differences in the 'war machine' capabilities of the south vs. the north. Clearly the north had huge advantages in troop levels, arms, comprehensive railroad lines, communications, etc. (for example the US Army had a 32:1 - literally - firearms advantage to the CSA, hundreds of thousands of more troops in every year of the war, etc. - hence the dominant advantage of the US Army in almost every battle... yet Lee COULD win at Gettysburg if his dice roll well...) THAT is the goal of the learning here... BUT:

I completely agree with you regarding the lack of interaction. One of my goals in the next couple of weeks (though my 200 8th graders will play this early next week...) is to take the three attack advantages (supplies, rail, arms) and allow the player to choose WHEN to apply them to the ten battles. While it is not monumental change - it should allow for SOME strategy in the game play.

At this point, I don't want to walk down the path of the infinitely complex wargame... but rather am looking for QUICK games that could be played 2-4 times in ONE class period (50 or some mins) for the repetitive nature of the learning process as this is paired with an Excel Spreadsheet to crunch some aggregate numbers between all the students playing, all my classes, etc. so that is an aspect of the game as well...

If you have any thoughts on how else I could build in a couple of simple strategy components without getting overtly complex I am all ears!

Thanks for the input - I am absolutely going to try to fit the "The War Between the States" into my title page ASAP!  :)


Hectate

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  • Posts: 4643
I'm always short of time that I would otherwise like to use making and playing games, so I understand completely.

Re: adding strategy

They key to adding strategy to the game is that it means giving the player choices but ensuring that those choices have consequences for good or ill. Your idea of giving them the ability to decide when to apply advantages is exactly the right kind of thing. In fact, it reminds me somewhat of the game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionare" where the player has to decide when to use their lifelines to push through those difficult questions (or else risk a wrong guess).

If the game wasn't intended for educational purposes, I would recommend remaking it to where the player was forced to play though a campaign of battles (as either the North or South) and their wins and losses have a cumulative impact on their future battles. To extend it just slightly more complex you could unlock sets of levels as they win (expanding into enemy territory) where some battles have a particular advantage (for later use) that can be gained by winning the battle. For example, winning a battle for a fort might provide an artillery advantage for a later battle. This would add to the strategy aspect as the player would need to weight the benefit of gaining that advantage versus the risk of losing or the cost of winning.

I doubt this would work for the educaction aspects you need because this would introduce the ability to "lose" and that would mean an arbitrary state of failure would prevent further progression and learning. Plus, it would require a complete rework :)
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Patience is a Virtue,
But Haste is my Life.
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scjoye

  • Posts: 62
http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/18768

So the game has been updated, FINALLY.

Made to run a lot smoother (down to 11mb) with added info, pictures, etc.

PLUS I added the slight strategic option to actually CHOOSE when to use the supply, arms, and rail advantages... which changes the game significantly IMHO.

Hectate: I completely agree with you - at this point I want to be DONE with this game, and move on to another. I am planning on building kind of a shell of a game where I could input different tile sets, actors (with mostly the same behaviors programmed in) to cover the Underground Railroad, Trail of Tears, Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark... any American history that has a migration aspect to it...

As usual, would LOVE feedback, thoughts on how to make better etc.

Thx,

« Last Edit: April 30, 2013, 02:44:11 pm by scjoye »