Wow. I vaguely remember this game from my childhood, but playing through the tutorial impressed me a lot. Basically it is a game that crosses genres.
It is a strategy game - you build bases, base defences, harvest resources and make factories to churn out units like the Command & Conquer series. It's also tank game - you skim a hovertank low over the planet's strafing and boosting thrusters to "jump" over obstacles. It also feels a bit like the old school FPS like Quake. Basically, it's a strategy game which you command as a tank pilot, but you can switch between vehicles and even steal enemy craft. Both elements are solid - simply the hovertank/FPS part is good - but combined with the strategy element it makes the game great.
Battlezone was a 1998 classic which garnered rave reviews, and is one of the trend of "re-releases" (the gaming industry, like movies, seems to have run out of ideas) - where they polish the graphics to an acceptable level on an otherwise identical game.
So what about genre-crossing games in wargaming?
Well, the hypothetical tank game in my last post is perhaps an example. "Tank games" aren't really uncommon of course - there are dozens of micro-armour/combined arms rules. Heck, Flames of War with a tank-centric force composition can do that job. But what I have in mind is a sort of Mordhiem-meets-FoW, where individual tank crew level up and gain special abilities, within a sort of mercenary unit feel like Hammers Slammers or Battletech - but with 1940s-60s tanks as the stars.
Games tend to fall into neat categories - "platoon level WW2" "platoon level hard sci fi" "10-man fantasy skirmish" etc. Games can struggle to bridge "scales" (and rightfully so - the same tactics and game rules should probably not be the same between, say, squad and company level). Quite a common complaint from designers is the desire to have characterful heroes fighting alongside hordes of grunts (somewhere between/inclusive of the squad and platoon level) - keeping the game detailed enough to accomodate the heroes whilst streamlined enough to handle lots of grunts. I'd suggest LOTR:SBG is one of the few which has done it successfully - it can be used with ~6 heroes in a quasi-RPG scenario, or handle as many as ~50 grunts per side.
I think when I say "genre crossing" I mean two things - the ability to bridge battle scale (i.e. detailed enough to zoom in on individual heroes, but can zoom out and deal with lots of grunts) as well as mixing up actual "genres" i.e. the Dune universe with its emphasis on hand-to-hand dagger duelling in a sci fi world with spaceships and lasers is a good example. I think this is a topic that has always subconsiously interested me - for years I have experimented with a game with 300kph submarine fighters merely so I could try to blend the maneuvers and tactics of PT-boat warfare, WW1 dogfights and modern ASW - three of my favourite, but rather disparate genres. Whilst, say, Warmachine (with its magic-meets-robots) would seem to fall into the genre-crossing category I'm not sure if it does - as you can see from the compatible Hordes, the robots act simply as renamed fantasy monsters. Whereas a 10-man modern skirmish where everyone had a Portal-style teleport gun would probably step outside of the usual genres by nature of its radically different tactics to "normal" modern warfare.
Hmm. I feel like I've talked myself around in a circle without defining/articulating anything clearly.
Any audience suggestions? What are games that you regard cross genres or the usual "boundaries?"
A further, fun question: if you could "mash up" elements from any two or three genres/games - what would they be?
"Stats" and Universal Resource Management
The Battlezone ability to switch "yourself" (i.e. your POV/player control) between vehicles interests me. I've always liked the idea of demons "possessing" human hosts or an AI controlling hordes of robots. Basically the "demon" or "AI" is a divisible resource which can be transferred from unit to unit. A normal unit which is "possessed" or directly controlled "override" by the master AI will become a "hero" unit and be gifted with extras stats, activations and special rules. This resource could be represented by a pool of counters which are assigned to specific models. For example, one token might give a unit +1 stats and an extra activation, two tokens might give a special ability, etc.
There could be various rules for how this "power" is transferred which could create a meta-game in itself. In addition, units which are "possessed" or "overridden", if killed when in possession of the special tokens, might lose the tokens permanently. Risk vs reward - if I add +3 tokens to make a normal unit a super unit - but I lose the enhanced unit - the resources attached to it at the time are permanently lost - perhaps fatally weakening my overall ability...
Basically, we often use resource management "pools" of tokens etc for activation (Infinity) or magic (Warmachine) but I'm thinking a universal resource that boosts activation, magic/special abilities, AND unit stats. You don't have an avatar or warband leader on the tabletop like Warmachine - instead "you" are the resource pool. A bit like the "life points" in Magic that sit in front of you on the table - when they are lost, it;s game over - only they can also be lent out to power your units on the table. It also adds an extra victory condition - once the "universal resource" is expended, you lose.
I suspect CCGs (like Magic) would be fertile ground for exploring this sort of "universal resource" management. Anyway, a further question:
Any games where something similar has been done? (I can't think of one offhand)
What is the best/deepest resource management mechanic you've encountered?