Author Topic: The future of Aces High is on Facebook  (Read 3397 times)

Offline Nefarious

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Offline Saxman

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #76 on: November 29, 2019, 12:23:53 AM »
So, building on a post I made earlier, I just spent a couple days on War Thunder. These are my observations:



PROS

It goes without saying, the game is GORGEOUS. Imagine to start with if all the aircraft in Aces High were remodeled to the standards of the Wildcats. However it goes beyond simply the meshes. The material system is considerably more advanced, and the terrain, weather, and environment modeling is visually superior to the Aces High graphics engine. The biggest surprise to me is that it doesn't come at a steep price for performance, even in VR. At 4K resolution and with high detail levels I was getting no loss of frame rate, even when the action was busy or there was a lot of terrain clutter in view. By contrast, Aces High has always had problems, particularly around the cities, but anywhere large amounts of ground objects were visible.

The game strikes a good balance between complexity and ease of access. One feature that I've often seen asked for in Aces High was complex engine management. War Thunder has it, and it's implemented in much the same way as the stall limiter and engine governor in Aces High: Automatic controls are enabled for players who can't or don't want to handle it, but more experienced players can shut it off and control engine performance manually. Much as with the stall limiter and engine governor, it gives players who opt to use the higher difficulty settings more control they can use to maximize their aircraft's performance at the cost of more to control (IE, maybe you risk redlining your engine for an extra 1-3 mph with a higher prop pitch and shutting your cowl flaps).

Additionally to the above, the damage model is much more robust. While Aces High uses an "All or Nothing" damage system, (with the exception of fuel, oil, and pilot wounds, which can vary in severity) where either your plane's surfaces are present or they're not, in War Thunder damage degrades components. It's entirely possibly to have your wing shot up...and then lose it because the damaged wing fails under G loads.

SOME of the upgrades I actually like in concept, particularly being able to tweak your ammunition belt with different loadouts (IE, the F4U-1A can load a belt of API-API-API-Tracer-Incendiary). This is something the Perked Ordinance system that had been discussed for Aces High could make a lot of use of (TBH, I've been gone so long I can't recall if it was ever actually implemented). Additionally, War Thunder offers a lot more variety for airplane subvariants (again, using the Corsair, there's a "Marine" F4U-1A option based on the lighter, denavalized FG-1A, with corresponding changes in performance) to increase the number of aircraft, which is something else that could be worked with the perk system (imagine being able to spend 5 or so perks to drop 1500lbs off an F4U-1A by removing the naval gear).

It's free. While you can use real cash to some extent, TBH it's not worth it (supposedly there's a way you can buy aircraft rather than have to research them, but I've yet to figure out how to actually do that, beyond certain premium packs which may not have aircraft you want).

CONS

The game model all around is War Thunder's single biggest problem. There's no persistent arena, and some play modes require grinding to even access (specifically, by unlocking particular aircraft tiers). This pretty much limits the game to CoD-style death matches, which limits the usefulness of bombers and attack craft since matches are ultimately decided by shooting down all of your opponent's aircraft, so may as well take a fighter, anyway. It also means waiting in queue, sometimes for as long as 5 minutes, while waiting for a match in which you might only get one or two minutes in the air. And if there's no respawn for that match, well...sorry. I find the persistent arena offers far more and better opportunities to learn and develop, since if you get shot down you can jump right back in again.

While there's training modes that let you putter around, there's no proper practice area (whether shooting drones offline, or the Training Arena available in Aces High). There is some solo mission play, but this appears to be rather clunky to use.

Additionally, the game is far too focused on grinding. You grind to unlock aircraft. You grind to unlock modifications. You grind to improve your pilot. You grind to gain access to alternate play modes THROUGH unlocking aircraft. Have a favorite plane? Well, strap yourself in for a couple hours to DAYS of grinding until you've unlocked the 10 other planes you have to unlock (AND purchase with in-game currency) FIRST before you can fly the plane you want. It's not that Aces High doesn't have that through the perk system, but the difference is that this is reserved for only a very few aircraft, many of which have a free variant (IE the F4U-1/A/D vs. the F4U-1C and 4).

Also, you can't NOT research an aircraft. The game literally forces you to select a new plane to research whenever you've completed the current one, even if you'd rather devote all your Research Points to upgrades.

The upgrades also come across as a fake way of increasing content by forcing players to unlock the actual written specs of the aircraft (IE, the F4U-1A was rated at 420mph at altitude, but you need to purchase something like 5 different upgrades to GET it).

The actual aircraft and damage modeling, and flight engine, is often suspect at times. Once again using the Corsairs as an example, the game only models three four flap positions (up, and three lowered positions) while also giving it a fully manual mixture control under manual engine settings (the Corsair only had four mixture settings: Idle/Cutoff, Auto Lean, Auto Rich, and Emergency Rich). I've also noticed strange behavior such as aircraft icons simply disappearing for no apparent reason. The sensation of flight also seems odd. I often feel like aircraft have no actual weight to them, with it being very easy to bounce them around.

This may seem like a minor thing, but there's apparently NO TEAM VOICE CHAT. I know, some of you will claim this is a bonus, but it makes properly coordinating incredibly difficult. For example, the other night I was trying to clear a friendly, but every time I tried to get guns on target my shot was cheated because the guy I was helping kept pulling the bandit in directions that denied me an angle. With voice chat, I could have asked him to ease up, or pull the bad guy in a direction that would have actually gotten me a shot.

It's been crashing for me. A LOT. Like almost every time I try to go to the Research menu after a flight, back to the desktop I go.

It's hard to really get a judge of the community, but I've found there's far more of a "Every Man For Himself" mentality in War Thunder. Maybe the lack of easy voice communication contributes to that, but there seems to be very little coordination.



The bottom line is, when it comes to actual GAMEPLAY, Aces High is the vastly superior title. It offers far more variety for game modes, and you don't even have to work to get them. The persistent arena is much more conducive to getting MEANINGFUL stick time, and players of a favorite aircraft don't have to jump through hoops to get them. Additionally, the base flight model is also superior, and gives a better feel of actual flight.

War Thunder does have its positive features, but these are mainly cosmetic or ancillary (although you can argue that the more robust damage model and availability of complex engine management are features it's WELL past time Aces High added). However the cosmetic advantage for War Thunder is going to be a significant one; players are often drawn to graphics first. And while I object to most of their business structure, there's no denying that people are going to gravitate to a free game over one with a steep monthly subscription.

Honestly, I DON'T have much desire to continue playing War Thunder. It's pretty, but the limited gameplay options are just to frustrating. However I think there's a good bit that Aces High could learn. To make some suggestions about the future of the game based on my observations of its main competitor:

1) I think HTC should bite the bullet and start work on Aces High IV as a complete ground-up rebuild. They've done great things upgrading Aces High II to Aces High III, but even those improvements aren't covering up how old the game is any longer. Most of the audience these days is looking for higher-fidelity graphics, and if that means giving up on making the game playable on lower-tier hardware, that may be the direction they need to go to attract a modern audience. However don't release it piecemeal, with one new aircraft appearing every few months (or longer). Have everything (or at least a substantial number of key aircraft) prepared and ready to release on launch date.

2) Consider adding more robust damage and systems modeling. The latter can be implemented in a manner similar to the Stall Limiter and Engine Governor in that players who don't want manual engine operation can leave it on automatic, but may not get the full level of performance that manual control would offer. The former would contribute to the fidelity of the flight modeling.

3) Reconsider the pricing model. I'm not saying it needs to go free to play, but to perhaps consider reducing the subscription to being competitive with other subscription-based MMO games, or perhaps move to a "buy the game up front, play it for free" model.
Ron White says you can't fix stupid. I beg to differ. Stupid will usually sort itself out, it's just a matter of making sure you're not close enough to become collateral damage.

Online Shuffler

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #77 on: November 29, 2019, 06:20:55 AM »
Interesting read. I can see where third world countries might consider 15 bucks a month steep.... but really. LOL

There is nothing free. The term is convenience.
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Offline Saxman

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #78 on: November 29, 2019, 07:52:13 AM »
Interesting read. I can see where third world countries might consider 15 bucks a month steep.... but really. LOL

There is nothing free. The term is convenience.

As I noted in my previous post, the pricing model is the single biggest complaint I see in reviews of AH (right ahead of the dated graphics engine). Aces High's subscription may not seem like much to YOU, but is still substantially higher than any other single-game subscription, (hell, it's more than some PLATFORM subscriptions, IE PSN) and when you consider just how many other subscription services people pay for many people DO find that $15 to be $15 too many.  That's the boat I'm currently in; I simply have too many other financial demands, and too little time to actually PLAY, to justify it.

No, I'm NOT saying "Oh just make it free," but the current financial model is going to continue to be a barrier to expanding the play base vs. War Thunder or even DCS. Most of the complaints weren't complaining about there BEING a subscription, but of how MUCH, combined with the steep learning curve meaning it takes longer than the 2 week trial for most players to actually start being able to achieve real success.
Ron White says you can't fix stupid. I beg to differ. Stupid will usually sort itself out, it's just a matter of making sure you're not close enough to become collateral damage.

Online Shuffler

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #79 on: November 29, 2019, 09:15:09 AM »
I believe those same folks that complain about 15 a MONTH for a game are probably those that complain they don't make 15 an HOUR flipping burgers to support a family.

They should try working for free.
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Offline The Fugitive

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #80 on: November 29, 2019, 09:36:50 AM »
While I think a complete rebuild of the game would be awesome it will never happen the way HTC is structured now. HTC likes to maintain a small group and keep coading in-house. Unfortunately a rebuild will take years that way and I just dont think the game will survive that long.

Pricing, the world changes and those that dont change with it just fall behind. Years ago a $75 a month cable bill was the norm. Now adays most people no longer use cable and instead pay $6-$8 a month per service, Netflix, ESPN, and so on to get the viewing they want and so Cable companies are hurting. The same goes for the gaming industry. These days games are free with grinding or pay per upgrade type models. This is what todays players are use to, whether it is a good way to go or not it is the reality of todays games. I'd love to see HTC have a number of subscription rates.

Free- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set (except scenarios and special events, you get to fly what ever is in the scenario)
$5 a month- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set but 20% more than the "free" group.
$10 a month- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set but 40% more than the "free" group.
$15 a month- everything that we have now.

Any new content added (plane, tanks, or boats) are added only to the top tier group. As a bonus month HTC could add a top tier plane to the lower tiers to increase interest in moving up to a higher tier.

A change like this would bring the game subscription style into more of an alignment with todays standards, giving the player options as to how much they are willing to spend. It may give the game enough life to last long enough for HTC to get that rebuild done in the background. I still doubt it will happen unless HTC opens up it office a bit more and brings in a number of programmers. The group is just too small to add on to the game. It is just big enough to keep it running. They haven't added a new plane in years and they still have a couple of skins that haven't been brought up to the AH3 standard yet

Offline Saxman

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #81 on: November 29, 2019, 09:55:07 AM »
While I think a complete rebuild of the game would be awesome it will never happen the way HTC is structured now. HTC likes to maintain a small group and keep coading in-house. Unfortunately a rebuild will take years that way and I just dont think the game will survive that long.

Pricing, the world changes and those that dont change with it just fall behind. Years ago a $75 a month cable bill was the norm. Now adays most people no longer use cable and instead pay $6-$8 a month per service, Netflix, ESPN, and so on to get the viewing they want and so Cable companies are hurting. The same goes for the gaming industry. These days games are free with grinding or pay per upgrade type models. This is what todays players are use to, whether it is a good way to go or not it is the reality of todays games. I'd love to see HTC have a number of subscription rates.

Free- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set (except scenarios and special events, you get to fly what ever is in the scenario)
$5 a month- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set but 20% more than the "free" group.
$10 a month- allows access to all arenas with a limited plane set but 40% more than the "free" group.
$15 a month- everything that we have now.

Any new content added (plane, tanks, or boats) are added only to the top tier group. As a bonus month HTC could add a top tier plane to the lower tiers to increase interest in moving up to a higher tier.

A change like this would bring the game subscription style into more of an alignment with todays standards, giving the player options as to how much they are willing to spend. It may give the game enough life to last long enough for HTC to get that rebuild done in the background. I still doubt it will happen unless HTC opens up it office a bit more and brings in a number of programmers. The group is just too small to add on to the game. It is just big enough to keep it running. They haven't added a new plane in years and they still have a couple of skins that haven't been brought up to the AH3 standard yet

I disagree with this model as I don't think it's going to satisfactorily address the negative response to the existing subscription model. If we've learned anything from EA's antics and the controversy over Star Citizen, gamers are becoming increasingly wary when it comes to cash-gated content, and quicker to respond with backlash. And these price points STILL keep full content at a rate well above any other single subscription game currently out there (and as I already noted, PlayStation's ENTIRE online service!). MAYBE if we were looking at fidelity on the level of the upcoming FS2020, and/or content that included every single WWII airplane and all of its variants (so bring on the TBD-1, F2A-3, F6F-5N, etc. etc.) that even flew a single mission of combat and these are the sorts of things beyond game play that would draw people to a subscription. "War Thunder is free!" "But War Thunder doesn't have 500 aircraft and graphics so high def it's realer than real people might be willing to pay a premium, but I don't think so with the game in its current state.

And while HTC may prefer that production method, IMO if they wish to continue to compete, AND survive, I don't think they can afford to cling to it much longer. Outside of small indie productions we're increasingly past the days of small in-house teams.
Ron White says you can't fix stupid. I beg to differ. Stupid will usually sort itself out, it's just a matter of making sure you're not close enough to become collateral damage.

Offline Saxman

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #82 on: November 29, 2019, 01:48:31 PM »
Also, where do you draw the line on which aircraft are in which group? Put all the popular aircraft (La-7, P-51D, etc.) in the Free tier and no one will pay for the others. Put all those aircraft behind a pay wall and not only are you less likely to attract players (especially if the full tier costs no less than it does now, which is part of the problem in the first place) but NOW you'd be introducing the same sort of "Pay to Win" conflict that's leading to much of the backlash against companies like EA in the first place.
Ron White says you can't fix stupid. I beg to differ. Stupid will usually sort itself out, it's just a matter of making sure you're not close enough to become collateral damage.

Offline The Fugitive

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #83 on: November 29, 2019, 02:10:00 PM »
Also, where do you draw the line on which aircraft are in which group? Put all the popular aircraft (La-7, P-51D, etc.) in the Free tier and no one will pay for the others. Put all those aircraft behind a pay wall and not only are you less likely to attract players (especially if the full tier costs no less than it does now, which is part of the problem in the first place) but NOW you'd be introducing the same sort of "Pay to Win" conflict that's leading to much of the backlash against companies like EA in the first place.

Where does HTC draw the line with ENY? They figured out a pattern for that, this Im sure would be easier. P51 as a freebi? No way, but the P40 is almost as well know with that "sharks mouth" give that one and a couple other mid/early war planes. Would they be at a disadvantage? Some players wouldnt think so because thats the planes they fly now. If a new player thinks they are a disadvantage, its an easy fix, just $5, $10, or $15 a month and you get the better rides and all the new stuff that comes down the line.

Ok, so you said that you couldnt afford the game right now. If they had the F4u-1, or even the 1D as a second tier plane for the $5 a month it wouldnt push that little bit to scrape together a buck and a quarter a week to play? I think it would.

I dont play many other games as this is the one I like. Thru thick and thin this has always been my go to game since EA killed AW. I have been here for 16+ years and will leave only went HTC pulls the plug. If it takes a tiered setup to get more players in, who care about the back lash. Something needs to be done to get the numbers up. A huge upgrade in either graphics or damage model just isnt in the picture for such a small company. Setting up a tiered payment system Ill bet is something they could do in a couple of weeks. They need to find a way to keep players here while they get over the steep learning curve. Having a number of "free" planes to play in the MA takes the pressure off.  It gives the new player a chance to get going, help out during raids or defending and understand the score of game play that is available all things they never get to if they dont stick around for a week or two.   
« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 02:11:31 PM by The Fugitive »

Offline Wiley

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #84 on: November 29, 2019, 02:11:34 PM »
I think peoples' perceptions of a sub these days is they want to see ongoing development.  Heck, they expect it in most games period, regardless of whether there's a sub or not, but if there's a sub the attitude seems to be more prevalent.  Regardless of what's been going on in the background, they don't see a new plane for months, or a new map, or anything that they perceive as "new" in the game.  And most people consider the MA "the game".  If you logged in last in mid 2018 and then logged in today, I checked the patch notes because I couldn't think of anything and if you're not a VR user, the only new thing to play with is the A-20 and animated pilots in some planes.

They've been taught to expect new things in games that have a sub, and when they don't see that at the pace they expect, they don't think there's value there.  Right or wrong, that's how the market strikes me.

There are people who don't think like that, but I think most of them are already here.

Wiley.
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Offline The Fugitive

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #85 on: November 29, 2019, 02:14:13 PM »
I think peoples' perceptions of a sub these days is they want to see ongoing development.  Heck, they expect it in most games period, regardless of whether there's a sub or not, but if there's a sub the attitude seems to be more prevalent.  Regardless of what's been going on in the background, they don't see a new plane for months, or a new map, or anything that they perceive as "new" in the game.  And most people consider the MA "the game".  If you logged in last in mid 2018 and then logged in today, I checked the patch notes because I couldn't think of anything and if you're not a VR user, the only new thing to play with is the A-20 and animated pilots in some planes.

They've been taught to expect new things in games that have a sub, and when they don't see that at the pace they expect, they don't think there's value there.  Right or wrong, that's how the market strikes me.

There are people who don't think like that, but I think most of them are already here.

Wiley.

Agreed, and we use to have that. It was almost every 3 months we would get a new plane or tanks. I created excitement especially when the screen shots started popping up. Now, its all they can do to keep things running.

Offline Saxman

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #86 on: November 29, 2019, 02:43:07 PM »
I'm sorry, but I don't see how you could even BEGIN to compare ENY to putting up a paywall for aircraft. And maybe you missed my the part where I pointed out gated access to aircraft is one of the top annoyances with the competition in the first place. Worst than that, now you're creating a "Pay to Win" system. The Perk/ENY system ALREADY in the game has historically led to rants on the boards as it is. Imagine how much worse it will get if instead of Perks, now "premium" aircraft are gated behind wads of cash.

Any company that doesn't even CONSIDER backlash before making its decisions frankly deserves to go out of business, because it demonstrates either total apathy or complete cluelessness towards their customers.
Ron White says you can't fix stupid. I beg to differ. Stupid will usually sort itself out, it's just a matter of making sure you're not close enough to become collateral damage.

Offline CptTrips

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #87 on: November 29, 2019, 03:19:09 PM »
I'm sorry, but I don't see how you could even BEGIN to compare ENY to putting up a paywall for aircraft. And maybe you missed my the part where I pointed out gated access to aircraft is one of the top annoyances with the competition in the first place. Worst than that, now you're creating a "Pay to Win" system.

People will complain no matter what you do.  People who are paying no money to fly and complain can safely be ignored.  No one is holding a gun to their head.  Now, you do have to be careful to not let people who pay get beaten by people who payed more.  That would be truly pay-to-win. 

I think it is a no-brainer to open up a set of hangar-queen aircraft to allow free-to-play since no one ever flys those anyway. 

1.  It would add more diversity to the arena so it's not always the same 4 planes every day.
2.  It would add more targets to the arena so those that are paying actually feel like they are getting a multi-player game for their money.
3.  It provides contact with potential customers longer than a ridiculously short two-week trial.  Every day you maintain contact is another day you might convince them to just sign up.
4.  You could allow the free players to earn perks to occasionally earn a 1 life ride in a premium plane to see what they are missing.
5.  It would bring in more eye-balls and spread the word.  Cheapest advertising HTC could buy.

It may not make a huge difference, but the down-side is minimal.  Let them fly P-40s.  Let Them fly goons and ride jeeps etc.  Sometimes you have to give out some line before reeling in.

Now wait for the cohort of self-appointed Aces High Political Commissars to come in and attack this idea because it is not the way we've done things since 1999.  Sorry.  It is not 1999 anymore.  The old approaches are not going to keep HTC solvent.  Every year less players.   In 2004 it was like 600 players a night.  last Oct it was averaging ~180 per night.  What are we seeing now?  120?  New things need to be tried. 

Or not. 

:salute,
CptTrips


« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 04:16:03 PM by CptTrips »
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Offline Wiley

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #88 on: November 29, 2019, 03:25:59 PM »
People will complain no matter what you do.  People who are paying no money to fly and complain can safely be ignored.  No one is holding a gun to their head.  Now, you do have to be careful to not let people who pay get beaten by people who payed more.  That would be truly pay-to-win. 

I think it is a no-brainer to open up a set of hangar-queen aircraft to allow free-to-play since no one ever flys those anyway. 

1.  It would add more diversity to the arena so it's not always the same 4 planes every day.
2.  It would add more targets to the arena so those that are paying actually feel like they are getting a multi-player game for their money.
3.  It provides contact with potential customers longer than a ridiculously short two-week trial.  Every day you maintain contact is another day you might convince them to just sign up.
4.  You could allow the free players to earn perks to occasionally earn a 1 life ride in a premium play to see what they are missing.
5.  It would bring in more eye-balls and spread the word.  Cheapest advertising HTC could buy.

It may not make a huge difference, but the down-side is minimal.  Let them fly P-40s.  Let Them fly goons and ride jeeps etc.  Sometimes you have to give out some line before reeling in.

Now wait for the cohort of self-appointed Aces High Political Commissars to come in and attack this idea because it is not the way we've done things since 1999.  Sorry.  It is not 1999 anymore.  The old approaches are not going to keep HTC solvent.  Every year less players.   In 2004 it was like 600 players a night.  last Oct it was averaging ~180 per night.  What are we seeing now?  120?  New things need to be tried. 

Or not. 

:salute,
CptTrips

The downside is minimal.  I also think the upside is commensurate. 

Completely changing it to a format that's more popular and generating a metric buttload of "content" (skins/maps/something to work towards) so people feel there's more of a "game" than just killing folks in the arena is about the only thing that would do anything other than continue the slide IMO.  Half measures just won't do it.

Wiley.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 03:31:39 PM by Wiley »
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Offline CptTrips

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Re: The future of Aces High is on Facebook
« Reply #89 on: November 29, 2019, 04:04:48 PM »
The downside is minimal.  I also think the upside is commensurate. 

Completely changing it to a format that's more popular is about the only thing that would do anything other than continue the slide IMO.  Half measures just won't do it.


I agree if you are talking about reversing the negative trend line. 

I was shooting more for stabilizing the trend with maybe mild improvement while still keeping the fundamental nature of the game the same.


 If I were Hitech, I would be looking to place Aces High into a low energy orbit and start focusing on applying his knowledge and experience towards another game where he would have more design freedom and not an entrenched community of old farts still living on their memories of AW pathologically hostile to change.  They have Aces High, and it is pretty much the pinnacle of that genre.  So leave them that to enjoy and shore it up best as possible with least amount of work and focus on a new adventure. 

I mean there is WO:P.  Not really the direction I would have gone.  ;). But I get the feeling that is not nearly finished and he has some interesting plans up his sleeve with that one so I am withholding judgement. 

I'd love to see him consider a offline single-player sim at some point.  I think the main reason everyone has heard of IL2 and no one has heard of Aces High is because IL2 is a stand-alone sim.  There is a several orders of magnitude difference between the number of people out there who enjoy plinking around in an offline sim vs wanting to compete player-vs-player online. IL2 has a slight advantage on graphics but the FM seem similar to me.   I think a lot of the advantage in graphics is because AH is using a generic modular component terrain instead of hand shaping a specific world.  HTC couldn't compete in the AAA space, but might could carve out a small value-priced narrow niche of under-served subjects.  IL2 started with the Sturmovik, maybe HTC creates a JU-87 study sim.  :cool: STUKA PILOT!  It could include a 1 month free in Aces High as a bonus. 

Or maybe they just add another obscure French or Italian fighter to the AH hangar and that will turn everything around.  Or just throw some money at advertising. ;)


« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 04:37:54 PM by CptTrips »
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