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Plugger

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  1. G'day, Understand that BF have a cost/benefit equation that they are working too. However I personally think that going forward with both further CM:SF modules and CM:N whilst continuing with a brain dead AI isn't going to be a winning formula. Reason being competition from other products. The majority of players buy these military simulation type games for single player use. No matter how good CM:SF is if it doesn't have an AI that can 'react' in some measure or form (and in it's current incarnation it is totally incapable of reacting to anything other than a preset clock) then you're going to bleed customers to competitors. There is always going to be a vocal hardcore of supporters for any game that are will rally around the flag. But at some point continuing to develop and sell a game system with a brain dead AI that can't react to the players actions is going to bite you hard in the backside. Imagine what this game would be like to play if you had to take into account an AI that was capable of doing things in response to something you did? Unfortunately for BF you an experience this elsewhere. As a postscript I'm not in anyway associated with a competiting product. I own every iteration of CM that has been produced and I'm simply a supporter scratching their head in amazement at the opportunity that BF are providing to others in not rectifying a glaring deficiency in an otherwise excellent game system. Cheers, Plugger
  2. Goodaye, Triggers? Hello? It's a little difficult to classify the current game AI as anything other than a brain dead Artificial Time Keeper that robotically follows a preplanned time-based script. No matter how smart you are with the Editor and scenario design you are still constrained by the limitation of having to shuffle units around with the clock being your only means of doing so. Oh, it's T+30. Time to attack yonder building. Who cares what the OPFOR are doing? Who cares if there is a big tank in the way? Not I, for it's T+30 and I'm going to do as I was programmed. I'd better point out that even with the non-existant AI (apart from the localised 'I'm under fire, better take cover') the game is still good but this is largely due to the lethality of modern weaponary and the fact that it is predominately the player who is attacking a static defence. Triggers. Magic word. No triggers, no ability to react to the player's actions. Triggers. Hello? Cheers, Plugger
  3. Goodaye, O.K, thanks for the information. Can't be done. % chance of inclusion was what I was after but the idea of a sealed building, etc. is a better idea than my toilet pit at the back. Hopefully % chance and Triggers might get a look in with CM: Normandy as the editor is very good at making maps but very limited in terms of AI. Cheers, Plugger
  4. Goodaye, Fairly basic Editor question but it has got me stumped. I have a scenario with a red defender force composition. What I want to do is have a number of AI plans. Each plan has different set up zones etc. but I also would like - and can't figure out - to have a different selection of units from my red force composition . So in effect I have a red defender force composition of, say, ten units. AI plan one uses only six of these units. AI plan two uses eight of them, etc. I've figured out that I can do it by hiding the units I don't want for a particular plan in a deep hole at the back of the map but this isn't an elegant solution. Attempting to do this via the AI plans described above has met with all kinds of weird behaviour. If anyone can tell me if I'm chasing a mirage 'cause it isn't doable or alternatively, how to do it, I'd appreciate it. Cheers, Plugger
  5. Goodaye, Artilcle I mentioned. Wasn't where I thought it was. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2009/11/19/only-23-even-attempted-to-play-multiplayer/ Cheers, Plugger
  6. Goodaye Brit, I haven't bought the game although I have played every version of the demo. I also posted quite a bit prior to the games release when you were kicking around a number of ideas. I've admired the work you've put into making EoS better and appreciate that you're looking to find ways to get a better return on all the time you've put in. EoS in it's current incarnation isn't for me however I'm happy to give you - for what it's worth - the benefit of my feedback. My views may not coincide with others here or yourself but they are given with the intention of providing an alternative point of view that might be of some use to you. So... 1. EoS is too generic. It does what it does well but there is very little about it that makes it stand out from the crowd. 2. The aspect of EoS that is different is the very good multiplayer tools. Unfortunately multi-player is a tiny market despite the vocal protests of those who do it. Stardock Games recently (last 12 months) released a game with a heavy multi-player focus and an adequate but not brilliant single player experience. The game was marketed primarily at the multi-player market. It didn't sell as well as expected so they did a follow-up customer survey and found that the percentage of players who bought the game that actually played multi-player was a heck of a lot smaller than they thought it would be. The vast majority of players (even those who'd bought it for the MP experience) ended up playing the AI. You can chase down the actual survey results and analysis on Gamasutra from memory. EoS had a great MP set-up and a lackadasial AI (intially - I can see that it's greatly improved). In hindsight I think you would have been better to come out of the gate with great AI and basic MP. 3. The marketing of the game was 'off target'. The impression I got from the PR was that it was an improved 'Empire' with great MP. The number of players who remember Empire or who even know of Empire would (I'm guessing here) be pretty small. 4. EoS sits in the 'Easy+' wargaming complexity bracket. Kind of an advanced 'Beer and Pretzels' game. Making a good B & P game is a worthwhile goal but the pricing at $45 completely killed off any meaningful sales into that market. Even $35 is a stretch. Additionally Battlefront - of whom I'm a big supporter - sell and promote wargames that are all a lot further up the other end of the complexity scale than EoS. Their inbuilt customer base is more accustomed to 'meatier' offerings than EoS. I'd suggest that EoS isn't a good fit with their stable of games. 5. On the other hand if you wanted to market EoS to the typical Battlefront / Matrix 'detailed' wargaming crowd then you run into the problem of a generic, simplified game with initially poor AI not having much appeal in the face of competing products at that price point. All of the above are my own views and could well be - like my comments on the marketing - "off target". What to do? 1. I think you need to decide whom you want to market the game at. If it's the B & P crowd then I'd suggest you'd want to gear up the game for fast and furious action and talk to Battlefront about allowing you access to an online sales outlet that is more in line with that type of game. If, on the other hand, want to target the 'wargaming' market then you need to throw something else into the mix to give the game an 'angle' and more depth. You need a hook to pull in the wargaming crowd. In my previous posts before the games release I was pushing pretty hard for a basic supply / resource depletion system but that is just one possibility amongst a number. The guys at Battlefront would probably have a head full of good ideas. 2. I'm not sure that if you did either of the two options above if you'd manage to pick up sales momentum as EoS has been on the market long enough for a lot of potential customers to have considered it and to have already taken a pass. Very difficult to get them interested again once they have made up their mind. Perhaps you could take what you've done already and use it as the basis of a second iteration. I suspect that you'd need to do this to convince people to take another look. I'm probably not making your day with all of the above and I could, as already mentioned, be way off on a tangent. Feel free to ignore or disregard my post if I've caused offense. Best of luck. Cheers, Plugger
  7. Goodaye, Aahhhh! That solves the problem. Thanks. Cheers, Plugger
  8. Goodaye, If - when designing a scenario - I use an AI plan to create a number of randomised setup locations for troops within buildings I run into the problem of 'facing'. Despite painting set-up locations only at the front of the buildings (the internal front) facing the enemy I end up with troops being placed within the buildings at the internal back facing the rear. So instead of the troops being inside a building peering out windows waiting for the approach of the bad guys they are looking out the rear windows with their backs to the enemy. I can't figure out why this is happening and hopefully somebody can shed some light on the subject. Thanks in advance. Cheers, Plugger
  9. Goodaye, Nope. Can't vouch for the previous incarnation but the way it works in CM:SF is that the person who makes the scenario knocks up a pre-determined plan for the OPFOR to follow. Eg. At exactly T+12 minutes the tank platoon moves to there. So once battle is joined the tank platoon will ALWAYS move to there at exactly T+12. The plan is totally independent of what you the player do. Essentially the AI doesn't care about you. It's been told to move the tanks there at T+12 and come hell or high water that's what it'll do. The refinement on offer is that the person making the scenario has the ability to make a number (up to five from memory) different plans for the AI to follow. So on any particular playthrough of the same scenario you may encounter different AI behaviour as they randomly follow a different plan. Each plan is the same, however, in that it is made and carried out in total isolation to whatever you the player does. Hence the request for Triggers which would at least enable the scenario designer to incorporate some dynamic behaviour and allow the OPFOR to react to what you the player does. Feel free to put your hand up and join 'Triggers - R - Us'. Cheers, Plugger
  10. Goodaye, O.K, my fault for not being clear enough in the first place. To much Xmas cheer imbided. My example - and the thrust of my post above - refers to simple triggers put in place by the scenario designer. There is no actual Artificial Intelligence involved. Nada. Zip. Referring to the example I've given I'm thinking something along the lines of a trigger placed on a specific point on the map (in this case a certain building.) It has a radius from here, think of a circle drawn on the map of say a 200m radius centered on the point chosen. The trigger has a condition, say... "If BLUFOR enter then.." which is associated with part of the OPFOR troops. They are given a preset move order. Essentially it is identical to a so-called 'AI plan' that you are currently able to knock up in the editor. All that is different is that it's conditional on the trigger being activated. With the couple of triggers I've given in the previous example there are simply two conditional moves. One of them activates first and in doing so perhaps sets a flag so that the other one is nullified. Something along those lines. Straightforward stuff that is bog-standard in most tactically orientated games with editors. You aren't providing Artificial Intelligence, all you are doing is giving the bloke who makes the scenario a few easy means to make the enemy REACT in some measure to what the player does. I'd stress that what I'm pushing here is ground level trigger implementation. The WalMart of Triggers. It wouldn't magically provide a wonderfully intelligent enemy picking on your weak spots. But it would be light years ahead of the current situation of an OPFOR that essentially goes into battle deaf dumb and blind to what the other side is doing. Imagine being a company commander in a current combat zone. You are told to attack or defend a certain place. No problems Major, Sir! The kicker is that you have to make a detailed plan the day before and then robotically carry it out on the day of the battle no matter what. That's what the OPFOR in CM:SF does at present. Not a recipe for military greatness. I'd better stress at the end of this long epistle that I'm keen for Triggers but that I'm doing my best to ask nicely while still trying to make my point. I like CM:SF and am happy to keep supporting it, triggers or not. Cheers and best wishes, Plugger
  11. Goodaye, Without triggers or some kind of conditional variables there isn't any ability to provide an AI that 'reacts'. CMSF is a great game and a superb effort by a small development team. The game shines in so many areas. Except the AI. The individual 'micro-scale' AI stuff is excellent, eg. run for cover, pop smoke etc. But the inability of the scenario designer to provide an OPFOR that can react - even in a simplistic manner - to the actions of the player is the elephant in the room. Sure you can make an AI plan that attacks up the left flank. But it'll do that everytime, robotically, irregardless of what the player does. Reading a few previous comments by Steve in this thread it appears that the development priorities don't include triggers for the forseeable future. Obviously the man is running a business here and has a better handle on what's viable and what isn't. But I'd suggest that - going forward with Normandy etc. - leaving the robotic AI in place may be more of a hindrance than a help. No matter how good the graphics, the ballistic simulation, the new terrain, the new units, etc., your average player is going to lose interest pretty fast once they figure out that the AI is unable to react to anything he does. While it's not easy to find a directly comparable product to CM:SF it's also pretty obvious that triggers are a standard inclusion for any tactically orientated game that comes with an editor these days. It's also worth keeping in mind that 'triggers' are purely a means of letting a scenario designer give some basic intelligence to the AI forces. It's not about building a sophisticated dynamic nueral pathway to allows the AI to react on the fly and maintain a coherent battle plan. Nope, triggers are pretty basic, simple stuff which are highlighted here only by their absence. Jump back to my example above of an AI robotically advancing up the left flank ten minutes into the game. Every time. Imagine the difference if there was a trigger in place so that the AI only advance up the left flank if enemy units came within 500m of a target building. Straight away you've got some basic reactive ability. Now what about if there was a second trigger on another building that detected the presence of enemy units. If this kicks in first then the AI might decide NOT to advance up the left flank at all as the player is doing something different. Instead the AI might choose to pull the left flank back to a secondary position. Ah huh! With two simple triggers in place the AI now has a range of behaviours that is allowing it to REACT in a basic manner to what the player does. Contrast that to the current situation where there are no triggers, the AI has no ability to determine what the player is doing and in fact is rigidly following a predetermined plan come hell or high water. So in summary my wish is for the inclusion of triggers in CM: Normandy and, hopefully, the retrofitting of the same into CM:SF. Wishful thinking maybe, but hey, it's Xmas. Cheers, Plugger
  12. Goodaye, I'm a long time player of Advanced tactics and while there a few similarities there is a vast gulf in complexity and strategy. Advanced tactics features a sophisticated logistics and staff model which leaves the simple resource system in EoS for dead. Not saying that one is better than the other, only that there is a significant difference between the two. EoS is very much strategy-lite compared to AT. I think the best comparison for EoS are the previous incarnations of Empire. Cheers, Plugger
  13. Goodaye, Ahh. Some would agree with you and some wouldn't. But - and it's a biggie - the developers have stated that Combat Mission AK, the last in the series of CM1 games, sold only a fraction of what the first in the series sold. In short people had tuned out. Same thing with Empire. Lots of vocal people here like yourself who enjoyed it and would like to continue to enjoy a EoS that emulates it as closely as possible (within reason). Which is fine. But I'd suggest that, like CMAK, nobody else is going to buy it. Times have changed. You have to move on. Battlefront have done so with the new version of Combat Mission (CMSF) which is a significant departure from CMAK. Keeping EoS in line with previous incarnations of Empire is a recipe for stagnation and low sales. So says I. Cheers, Plugger
  14. Goodaye, Empire might have sold a truck load of copies but consider the context of when it was sold. Years ago when it was released it was regarded as a lot more 'Advanced'. It certainly wasn't promoted as 'simple-strategy'. Times have moved on. Attempting to market a 'simple-strategy' game that carries the flag of past gaming glory is tricky. You're certainly going to appeal to a small vocal minority of players who liked the previous incarnations and appreciate a new version with a facelift and a few extras. But - and this is my personal opinion only - I'd suggest that deliberately keeping the game 'simple-as-possible' isn't going to be a winning approach if Brit wants to make a dollar out of it. A better approach - once again my opinion - is to throw some more gaming angles into the mix, whether that is some form of logistics, enhanced combat, whatever, and make them all optional. Each extra optional feature attracts a wider audience and ensures those that like it just the way it is won't be offended. The argument that more features equals more complexity therefore making the AI correspondingly harder to program is has some weight. However given that the game is - in terms of strategy - relatively simple already and that the AI, from what I've seen so far in the demo, isn't that flash it may be a moot point. Adding extra features doesn't necessarily have to overburden the AI. You could have a ruleset for logistics that applies to the player, for instance, but is abstracted for the Computer controlled players. So in summary I'd argue that deliberately keeping the game simple and aiming it predominately at the vocal multiplayer minority isn't going to ensure that it becomes anything other than a fun game for a small number of players. But hey, I could well be wrong. Cheers, Plugger
  15. Goodaye, I'm going to add to the debate here without, hopefully, getting into the politics. A major limitation and point of frustration with the CMSF system is the lack of conditional AI triggers. The AI is extremely passive and non-reactive as a result which is probably what is driving a lot of the arguements here. It's pretty much impossible to have any realistic or even fun scenario or campaign if you've up against a dead dog AI. Yep you can script stuff but it's totally out of context with what's happening on the ground and next to useless. The passive AI is something that is concealed from open view by virtue of the weapon ranges in relation to the available map sizes but sooner or later you are going to bump into it and realise that the bad guys are unable to react to anything you do on the battlefield. I understand that some kind of triggers or conditional AI is on the cards from Battlefront but it seems to be on the distant horizon. Imagine what kind of game you would have if you were dealing with an AI capable of 'thinking' and 'reacting' to what you did rather than one which is robotically following a preprogrammed script. I think that an awful lot of engine limitations (and it''s inevitable that this occurs given the complexity of what's being modelled) would be minimised or overlooked if the users were confronted by an active AI. Cheers, Plugger
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