Since the gameappears to be dead, this seems like a good time for a postmortem. Hopefully there are at least a few people who still check this forumoccasionally.

I—and I’m sureothers—would still like a spiritual successor to MOM. Someone elseis sure to try to make one, and it would be good if that person couldbenefit from learning what notto do. For the people who tried WOM: please explain how it failed tomeet your desires. Was it gameplay? Race balance? AI? Did it justlack that certain magic that you experienced the first time youplayed MOM?

Ialso encourage the developers to explain where theythink their desires wentastray. Did fancy graphics take up too many resources? Wasbalancing races or spells much more difficult than you expected? WasAI programming too demanding? Wasthere a specific decision thatdoomed the project and thatyou wish you could have made differently? Idon’t think that aneventual new attempt atMOM2 will hurt WOM sales, so you might as well grant futuredevelopers the benefit of your experience.

Ihaven’t played WOM. I lost interest in the project after thedevelopers said that they didn’t want to consider making anyimprovements to gameplay. IfI wanted MOM’s gameplay,it already exists. I’m looking for a tbs game with deepergameplay. MOM is: ‘Spam cities, build the same buildings in eachcity, attack rivals as soon as you encounter them, then getbored and stop playing...’. I feel that it’s a mark of failure when a strategy guide doesn’tvary with random maps or random rivals. If it says something like‘on turn 47, build a library in your 5thcity, and set the global tax rate to 3.614879’ regardless of what’son the map or the game settings, then you’re not playing astratyegy game, you’re just micromanaging someone else’s fixedoptimum strategy. I consider most tbs games to be ‘activitycenters’ rather than games. Activity center being one of thosethings you find in doctor’s offices, to keep toddlers occupied. Move brightly coloured beads along a wire, spina spinner; thatsort of thing. (Move units around a map, click repetitively onbuilding queues.) I’d like a game where I actually have toconsider my situation and make some meaningful strategic decisions. I’d like my empire to turn out significantly differently if find aclay mine rather than an iron mine in the early game, or havemy long-term strategy change drastically ifmy first neighbour turns out to be a cutthroat mercantilist ratherthan a xenophobic religious cultist. Let me think about my empireeven when I’m notplaying, and worry aboutwhether I should go to war over a coal deposit. Ithink the game should make me want to go back a hundred turns andreplay it just to see how it would have turned out if I’d made adifferent critical decision.

As for graphics, I’d rather have MOM’s existing tile graphicswith better gameplay than awesome graphics with the same simplisticgameplay. I’d recommend that game developers start with simplegraphics as a placeholder while they put all their resources intogameplay development. Then when playtesting says ‘This game isfun! It just needs better graphics.’ you can devote the resourcesto that. It has the benefit of giving some extra time for tweakingand bug hunting rather than facing the decision of pushing out theproduct in a state that players will complain about.

Ibelieve that part of what made MOM great was that it was impressivefor its time. It was good gameplay for a 16-bit computer running ata few Mhz and around a single megabyte of RAM and fitting on a coupleof floppy disks. The gameplay—and graphics of course—wereconstrained by the hardware of the time. Today’s hardware isseveral orders of magnitude more capable; where’s the improvementin gameplay? FPS games have improved, with AI units acting moreintelligently. Why do tbs game AI’s act no smarter than ones runon 1990’s hardware? There’s certainly the resources availablefor ‘looking at the map’and for processing deeperdecision trees.

Oneproblem that seems endemic to tbs games is poor colonizationdecisions from the AI: they set up in (to us) stupid locations,ignoring better locations, or colonizing at the wrong time (buildingcolonies they can’t support, or colonizing far slower than thehuman player) or failing to send/build adequate defenses for the newcolony. Surely someone could have come up with a fix for that overthe past couple of decades. I think it’s the most critical flaw inmost tbs games, so even a heavy-handed rules-cheating patch wouldhelp. If you can’t program the AI to build the way humans do, givethem a bonus: the colony starts with adequate defenses sothat the human can’t send in one or two cheap units to take thecolony. Cheating, yes, but if it improves gameplay, it’s betterthan the blatant globalbonuses granted on ‘higherdifficulty’ settings.

I’m sorry that WOM didn’t achieve its goal of being the spiritualsuccessor to MOM. Even if it wouldn’t have met my desire forbetter gameplay, being a success would have encouraged other tbs gamedevelopment. Let the effort not have been in vain, by being avaluable lesson for future developers. Maybe a good discussion onwhat went wrong might even point out a way to improve WOM into whatit should have been.