Now that i have slept on it, the feeling of being gut-punched has subsided somewhat, and I have perhaps calmed down a bit.
I still think the real-time & APP solution was bad. Read on if you care to know why i think so. (Or feel free not to, it's not like i can make you. )
As previous posters said, the concept in and of itself of having a CD,DVD or even a videocassette in a board game is not something explosively new. An APP is just the modern-day continuation of the same idea. The example of Vlaada Chvatil's Space Alert was given as an example. Indeed he also made Galaxy trucker in the real-time genre.
Space Alert wants you to use the CD for it's missions. It is clearly stated that the game is intended to be played like that, and that it adds to the atmosphere. But, and this is a big one, it also includes a system for playing without it. The game doesn't recommend it, and say you'll basically need another player to do it, but if you prefer to so, or your cd-player is bust or whatever you CAN. That's really all i ask. Live and let live, right?
As for Real-Time in board games, I've really only tried it out with the two games mentioned above. In one, time was too short, and in the other, it was so liberal it didn't actually matter. I think there is a reason that real-time is not terribly common in board games, and that is because it's hard to make work, and harder still to make worthwhile.
The problem I see are that A) it punishes your group if you have mixed skill-levels. If 3/4 guys manage to complete their turns as they should, then mr 4 is either going to get everybody killed (as this is full co-op) or get run over by the faster players making all his decisions for him. Neither of these two are much fun for mr 4.
Further, I understand that the idea might be to reward fast thinking and decision making on the spot, but I fear that the reality is that it doesn't reward fast players as much as it punishes slower ones. To continue the example above, if mr 1 is super-fast, and can finish his turns with time to spare, then he just sits there twiddling his thumbs. No bonus. Or is the time he saved usable by other players or something? (Which could well be, I guess, haven't read the rules yes.)
my B) point is, Is it really necessary? Is this a gimmick for a gimmicks sake? As a previous poster mentioned, if you look at the picture in the game description, you see that big friendly "pause" button on the screen.
So which way do you want it then? Pauseable real-time? Isn't that just.... you know... regular board gaming then?
Now don't get me wrong, this is a step in the better direction, if you ask me, but it still means that the real-time concept is NOT as central as might first be indicated.
So why is it included? To build tension? Yes, but time-constraint doesn't build tension. It builds frustration and stress. These are in fact NOT things I think make a board game better. Battlestar Galactica (another of my top 10 games of all time) has tension in bleeding spades, and no need to rely on real-time for that. I know a lot of tense games, but can't think of any of them that would be made better by including a real-time element.
What else have we got? It creates situations where players need to make decisions with in-complete information. You mean, like locking your choices before drawing the modifer-event-card to the crisis card you just drew? There. I fixed that for you. This has been done in many games without having to resort to real-time elements or APP's to generate obstacles to overcome. Pausable APPs at that.
Anything else? Well, it DOES go really well, and is almost automatic to include if your game is run by an APP.
This is true. And if you are going to use an APP anyway, it's very easy to incorporate, to the point of almost being a free-include.
So is that the idea then? Did you (FFG) want to create a upcoming game that uses an APP as a central mechanic, and this just happened to be it? The next suitable game in the pipeline? I can totally understand that, and for me personally it's just a massive shame that it happened to be a franchise i LOVE. Had it been Harry Potter or Alien vs Predator or some suchlike, you wouldn't hear a peep from me. Sure, I'd quietly feel sad for the fans of those franchises but since I probably would not have bought those games anyway, no skin of my nose.
So taken that we can pause the real-time clock, the real difference between an APP or a player/deck/scenario-book running the Alien Ethereals is.... that if we DON'T enforce the time-element it will get too easy? The "crisis" don't bear close scrutiny or a group discussion? Well, the work has still needed to be put in to make the aliens "events and crises", are you saying they just aren't particularly tuned and balanced?
That doesn't sound right. We know for a fact Eric is well capable of balance, nuance and all round excellence. (Have you played Chaos in the Old World? It's pure gold.) So, if not sloppy game design, then... lazy? Maybe FFG is short on time/staff or something? As someone pointed out, the community and BGG will PROBABLY make versions with the option for APP-less play, but (perhaps ironically) that doesn't speak to me either. I don't want to play BGG's X-COM, I wanted to play FFG's X-COM. A shame I'm part of the group not in the target audience. This is like the X-com movie being made, with all my favorite actors, and then only being viewable in Australia.
If the game was presented like : "You can EITHER get an extra player, and have him work with a scenario-book and 4 decks of cards to play the Alien Ethereal Overlord, OR you can use our free APP, to do all that work for you, and let you play the game with one less player."
Then it would speak to and welcome two pretty different types and groups of gamers. We would have the option for asymmetrical game-play (and it did work VERY well for netrunner, didn't it) and would not need to exclude anyone.
Which brings me to my next point.
I think this is bad for business.
As someone pointed out, I agree that this is a calculated risk/choice on FFG's part, and they feel it's worth it to make a game like this. Sure not MANY gamers are going to pass on this game because of the APP, but I know for a fact that some are. I assume they are counting on that to be offset by... who? Are there gamers out there who will buy it JUST for the APP. I mean, gamers that would not otherwise have bought it? Because the group of gamers who will NOT buy because of the APP are gamers that otherwise would have. I have a really hard time imagining someone holding this box and going : "Hmm, I have never heard of this game or franchise. Aliens invading earth sounds cool, but I just don't know. No wait, it says here it's run by an APP! Cool! Ok, NOW I want to buy it."
Well, it MIGHT happen, but I'm fairly confident not in the same volume as people passing on the game.
ON THE OTHER HAND.
- I don't think people will have a problem finding something to play the APP on, in some form or shape. It's fairly safe to say that most gamers have access to a computer or that at least 1 person in the group has a device that can support an APP.
- I don't think battery power in said devices is a real problem. Like setting up a normal game, for this, you charge you phone/laptop/whatever, or have a power cable for it. Ok, so perhaps you don't bring this particular game with you camping, but A LOT of games fall into that category. You can't call that in and by itself a deal-breaker.
- I'm not worried the APP will not be available in 15 years. If this game turns out to be half as good as it could be, there will probably be somewhere (BGG, maybe?) to get it and a emulator to run it if that is needed. If I'm still playing this in 15 years, nothing would make me happier.
- For people who like to incorporate an APP into their board gaming, congratulations, this will probably be a huge success with you. Good that someone shows you some love.
- The market and the board gaming industry is a living evolving thing, and new steps needs to be taken. I am not surprised that FFG, that are frontrunners in the field, are among the first to try new implementations. I also think they do deserve kudos for it (although in this particular instance, the APP-"exlusive" thing might well be to big of a step in a single go).
So in conclusion.
I am willing to let go of my real-time gripe. You can pause it to teach new/slow player, or as needed for the occasional joke-telling session. Fine.
The APP-requirement remains a deal-breaker for me. Probably to my loss, but right now I can't justify put my money behind this. I will not monetarily support what might be a trend of games that demands an APP to play. The instance the option becomes available for an APP-less version, this will ZOOM back to my must-buy list, but until then, no-go.
I will probably play this game if someone in my group get's it, but this hypothetical somebody, will not be me.
I don't mind APP supported or assisted board games, but I don't want them in the drivers seat. I like my board games analog.
Yes. I know I have not read the rules, or played this game yet. These comments are made with the information available at the time of writing. Yes, I might be wrong. I acknowledge that, and almost hope that I am to some extents. This game might still become the best game in the history of ever, and people like me will be remembered as douchy nay-sayers. I will happily live with that, if it means X-COM turned out great, and i get to play it a lot.