My adoration of and compulsive addiction to Men of War and its predecessors cannot be understated - leading me to attempt to apply my limited attention-span to an hour-long rambling podcast on the subject. I doubt I'm going to make it to the end before something shiny grabs me by the optic nerves and hauls me out into the street, but an early comment by Jim Rossignol here captured my imagination for a moment.
He describes Men of War (Assault Squad's co-operative campaign, specifically) as, in a way, 'constant Crisis Management'. He's not wrong - but where can we take this notion?
Would you enjoy the experience of managing a crisis? How could this be translated into gameplay in the manner of Men of War?
Could you enjoy a management game in which you have mastery of a collapsing Black Mesa style facility, rerouting systems, sending security teams, using repairmen to restore communications systems to lower levels, trying to maintain communication with panicking AI survivors and guide them through a dynamically self-destructive environment?
Flooding an area with water to put out fires or eliminate antagonists - unlocking bulkheads and sealing others to prevent the flooding of the more densely populated sectors.. Ah, now I'm leaning toward yesterday's rambling thoughts; playing Battlestations: Midway I found myself craving Men of War's degree of control applied to Naval warfare, commanding troops on a deck and controlling the great guns as a colossal Destroyer slowly arcs across a bay. But I digress - Crisis Management as a gameplay concept is the subject here.
Would you like playing Shodan, or her antithesis? Would you like to indulge in the slow-motion control of a complex, interactive environment, trying to preserve lives? There's always the potential for a more violent game, but I've really had enough of that for the moment. What I find most compelling about Men of War may not be the destruction and the combat so much as striving to keep my men alive.
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