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Everything posted by Kaunitz

  1. As I've been comparing CM's quickbattle-maps with actual landscape/maps, I couldn't help but notice that the scale of many quickbattle-maps is off (this issue doesn't apply to many scenario-maps which are more often based on real maps). Generally speaking, quickbattle-maps are too crowded and too small. It's a bit like the landscape of a model railroad. It’s extremely compartialized. Often there are tiny patches of trees ("woods") all over the place, the fields are tiny, there are little bumps in the terrain everywhere ("hills"). And even the houses in villages often seem to be placed too close to each other. A map of 2km² often contains several fields, villages and woods in Combat Mission, whereas in reality, you could probably only fit in only a few fields. I'm not saying that this is bad, mind you. In a weird way, our computer-gamer-eyes are accustomed to the look of it. And also in terms of gameplay, it does certainly make sense as it leads to a lot of close quarter action, forces tanks and vehicles into point blank to each other and into the range of infantry and generally speaking offers more (and more diverse) terrain to play with. So, to some extent, you could say that miniature-terrain guarantees "action packed" engagements and revamps infantry against vehicles (balance-issue). But the geeky wargamer voice in me kept pestering me, asking that seemingly innocent question: "Yeah, Kaunitz, but it is realistic?". So here we go. In order to silence that nagging voice in my head, I decided to make my own map. I've been trying that before, mind you (my Gerbini project is on hold until the patch comes out). This time though, the map will not be based on an actual battle and will not even be based on a real location. This simply gives me much more freedom and speeds up things. Here are some of my guiding principles for map design: realistic scale - even though the map is not based on a real location, the map will be based on a plausible scale. After a few short tests, the results are certainly interesting. You can actually set up MGs (without getting them killed the moment they can theoretically be sighted by an enemy unit) and attacking infantry needs to work a bit in order to get within rifle range! as few "cutoffs" as possible - A problem I have with many QB-maps is that they're so small that the more reasonable positions for vehicles, support weapons and FOs are simply cut off. Most of the time, I'm asking myself: Why would I place this tank/MG so close to the frontline? Nobody would do that! The weapon is not supposed to be used like that! Surely, there would be some small hill 1km to the rear where it would make much more sense to set up the weapon/vehicle? Also, do I really have to peek over that ridge at point blank range? Is there no hill in the rear area that would allow me to take a look from a safer distance? Admittedly, there can be situations in which there simply is no better position available, but QB maps constantly seem to force a deadly point blank ranges onto me. To prevent that, maps need to have a certain minimum size, and observation and long-range positions need to be taken into account when designing the map. Of course engagements were not static, and if you do take into account that the battle might move on a bit in this or that direction, the required map-size multiplies very quickly (irregular shaped maps would be interesting here…). To tackle this problem, I want to experiment with the “exit” objective (see below). if possible, I’d like to pay special attention to micro-cover - I do think that infantry is a bit too vulnerable in the open. I will see whether it is possible to add a few more small bumps in the ground and some props to give infantry more cover (if prone). But I'm not sure yet if and how that will work out. I suppose one would need very tiny differences in height which would provide some cover to infantry without blocking their LOS. I don’t think it’s possible in CM, but I see if I can somehow recreate the effect. Small preview of the current status (obviously not much yet, but it is a beginning): https://imgur.com/a/imul3HX (the map is 1456x1920m) https://imgur.com/a/5dX5B5s https://imgur.com/a/SahWEan Further ideas: Allow the defender to retreat to prevent implausible blood baths: As this is a little experiment, I do want to make the battle realistic, even at the cost of game play. Therefore, I want to give the defender the option to retreat to cut down his casualties. I’ve not taken a closer look if and how I can get it to work yet. The problem I see is that all units (tagged to be destroyed) that have not left the battlefield by the end of the battle are counted as destroyed, which is not really what I want. There needs to be a difference between "did not leave the battlefield because the battle was going well and there was no reason to do so" and "did not leave the battlefield because the player decided to make a desperate suicide last stand". I'm not sure if the editor allows me to differentiate between those two. Generally speaking, the option to retreat should also be interesting from a gameplay perspective as the defender will need to move and cover his retreat (with longer ranges, this is much more reasonable as you won't get killed the very moment you stand up and move...). ------------------------------------ Feel free to discuss and contribute! What are your thoughts on map design and particularly map-scale? Also, how many troops would be fighting over the map? I was thinking of at least 2 companies up for the attacker (the width of the front is 1456m). Do you have any comments on the retreat-idea? Right now, I'm stuck a little bit as I can't make the cornifer-woods look pretty and functional (lack of cornifer-trees that come with a short tree-trunk/low tree crown). I think I will have to go for mixed forests. I will also be looking out for volunteers to test the map once it is ready!
  2. By comparison, here are examples that show villages (in Bavaria) before and after major land consolidations (compare the pictures on the right hand side): https://www.historisches-lexikon-bayerns.de/Lexikon/Flurbereinigung ----------- PS: If you can speak german, there is a cute little documentation on youtube. If you can't, maybe it still inspires you as a mapmaker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC2HljwiVK0
  3. The question whether the terrain was more compartmentalized (thanks, Bud Backer ) in the 1930s and 40s than today is an interesting question. I.e. were there more line-of-sight blocking features 80 years ago than what the modern google street-view map suggests? I don't think one should draw any broad conclusions. The first question one needs to ask: what constitutes a field? What we "gamers" typically consider to be a field - a piece land that grows one type of crop, its boundaries marked by some hedgerow or farmtrack - in fact usually consists of several parcels. These parcels are clearly discernable in cadastral maps and they can but don't need to be the property of a single farm. So, if the amount of land that a single farm cultivates increases, that does not automatically mean that the number of "fields" cultivated by that farm increases - it can also mean that the farm simply cultivates more parcels within the existing structure of fields? And then again one also needs to ask whether it would be that easy to bring about the merging of several fields? There are certainly administrative obstacles...? Now, I'm fully aware that the situation may differ greatly depending on where in Europe you look at (for example, when trying to create a map for CM:BS, I found that the fields in modern day Ukraine are really gigantically huge!). But I think it's a good idea to come up with a comparison: Here is a village in Luxembourg as shown on a cadastral map from 1811-1831 [!] (source: https://map.geoportail.lu/theme/main?fid=256_590&version=3&zoom=14&X=694162&Y=6366435&lang=en&layers=256&opacities=0.25&bgLayer=basemap_2015_global - * you need to click the sector south-east of the currently selected one, can't get the proper link to work!) https://imgur.com/a/g56dmNp Here is the modern satellite view: https://imgur.com/a/XlFRROc Here, I tried to blend the two views (black lines = roads/paths from the cadastral map; green lines = green lines of the cadastral map - probably hedgerows?) https://imgur.com/a/KOQIRQu For me, it seems as if very little has changed. The structure of the parcels is almost the same. One could also compare the aerial recon photos (Ian Daglish's books, mostly concentrated on northern France, include many views) with the modern day landscape.
  4. Kaunitz

    Demo Feedback

    I assume it has already been mentioned somewhere: I'd like to point out that IFV/tank crews automatically opening up to reload weapon systems (.50 cal? ATGMs) is quite problematical.
  5. Hello! I'm a big fan of the series and have released some videos of my latest battles on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/TheKaunitz/videos). However, in my games, I came upon a few things that I think might be improved. Not CM:FB-specific, more related to the engine/whole series: 1. I'd like to be able to chain multiple "target briefly"-commands (i.e. multiple area targets) together in one turn for a stationary unit. Some weapons should be able to "spray" more than a single actionsquare in one minute/turn. E.g. in 1 minute, a MG should surely be able to control more than a section of 5 meters? Right now, the only way to do so is by moving units back and forth "on the spot" to give them multiple waypoints with a new target for each waypoint. Needless to say that this is fiddly and does not work for certain weapons (infantry-handled MGs that have delploy-times). Alternatively, I've often wondered what would happen if one changed turn-intervalls from 1 minute to 30 seconds. 2. I'd like to have control over infantry's stance (prone, kneeling, standing). LOS of a unit (to determine whether it is allowed to area-target or for indirect-fire-missions) seems to be calculated according to the current stance (of the majority of soldiers of? the unit leader?) a unit which is almost entirely a matter of contingency. It's not impossible but rather unelegant and very fiddly to get the desired results sometimes. E.g. if I want my FO-team to have a LOS over a ridge (so it needs to be standing), I need to give the unit a movement command after a 45 seconds pause so that it will be moving DURING the turn intervall, so that at the start of the next turn it will be moving=standing and have the desired LOS. Other than that, soldiers do whatever they like: some stand, some lie prone (even though this means they have no LOS and don't fire like the rest of their unit). The only way you can influence their stance is the "hide" command (which will make the whole unit go prone reliably). I think that LOS is by far too important to leave it to chance and coincidence. 3. Certainly more ambitious and more "fluffy"/superfluous: Some kind of incentive to evacuate wounded soldiers. Buddy aid is nice, but I'd like to see some incentive to and some way of transporting wounded soldiers (to an exit point?).
  6. Not to go too far offtopic, but my summary is overly short. The author mentions how he was on the fringe of panicking too and in fact the MG position (3 men, not just the author) only held out because another guy (who died in the process) brought back-up barrels. It's certainly true that one needs to question the intention behind eyewitness accounts (or rather "memories"), but you need to make up your own picture by reading the whole passage yourself before you raise such an accusation.
  7. Here's a short extract from Günter K. Koschorrek, Blood Red Snow. The Memoirs of a German Soldier on the Eastern Front. I found it interesting as it describes a situation in which an enemy attack could be observed from a large distance. The autor was a heavy machine-gunner, defending a position (bunker with MG, autor's HMG in foxhole on the right side of the bunker, the "light" (rifle) platoons in trenches on the left side of the bunker, 1 ATG behind a heap of earth). As I improve the field of fire in front of my HMG with Franz Kramer, the first enemy artillery rounds scream in towards us. The barrage is not directed at anything in particular – “A bit of disruptive fire,” says Waldi, who is standing in a foxhole to my side and behind me and is scanning the rolling hills in front of us with his field glasses. After a little while I hear him yell, “Bloody hell! They are coming at us like a swarm of ants!” I look through the telescopic sight and see them too. The Soviets are moving towards us like an army of termites, hell-bent on destruction. Waldi estimates that the range is still three or four kilometres. They’re moving slowly, at an almost leisurely pace, but they are making progress at a constant speed. They could be on us in about an hour’s time. After a few minutes, however, we decide that the mass of troops is not moving directly at us, but rather towards our right. “Looks like they might actually pass by us,” I say. “I don’t think so,” says Waldi. “We’ll probably just catch his right flank.” In the meantime the Russian guns are firing further ahead, pounding the vacant terrain immediately in front of their slowly moving infantry. Waldi is right: if they continue in this manner, we will brush their right flank. The first thing is that we mustn’t move, but when they get dangerously close we should open fire. Waldi agrees. The Leutnant sees it differently. He calls over to us and says that both machine guns should open fire now. “That’s crazy! At a range of one and a half kilometres it is a total waste of ammunition – and we will give away our position,” says Waldi, annoyed. So I wait. But then the other weapon opens up, so I fire off a belt too. The brown mass in front of us doesn’t stop for a moment, but continues forward as if nothing has happened. Then my gun jams. The autor then made his way to the nearby bunker to fetch replacement barrels and when he was on his way back to the foxhole, the German position was attacked by 3 tanks. The ATG fired one shot and was taken out. The light platoons and the crew of the bunker paniced and took to their heels (from other memoirs, it's interesting to note that these instances of "tank shock/panic" seem to have been quite common...). The Soviet tankers opened hatches to toss grenades into the bunker. The autor made its way back to the HMG foxhole, where the barrel was constantly jamming, while the Soviet infantry was getting dangerously close and laying rifle fire on the MG foxhole. In the last moment, the autor gets the MG working again and pins down some 60 Soviet infantrymen at a distance of just 50m and, as the German infantry had rallied and returned to its positions (after the Soviet tanks had somehow been taken out by ATGs...), these Soviet infantrymen then surrendered and the engagement was over.
  8. That's the reason why I don't play meeting engagements and prefer clear attack/defend roles. I don't think that meeting engagements make plausible CM scenarios, as they're something for the operational, not the tactical level. Yes, there are certainly more and less interesting slices of real terrain when it comes to gameplay. Which brings me back to my question what makes a good map. Like Bulletpoint said, it's about creating meaningfull decisions for the player. Obviously, the compartialisation (does this word even exist?) of a map, i.e. its break-up into several smaller "theaters" or compartments, plays a major role here as it forces the player to make decisions: Which one of the small theaters will he choose for his advance, how many troops to assign to each of the smaller theaters, Will it be easy to shift troops/reinforcements from one theater to the other once the battle has started, etc. The obvious way to achieve compartialissation is to separate theaters by using line-of-sight-blocking terrain features. On the other hand, one could argue that the limits on effective weapon ranges can also create (fluid) theaters. If you position this unit over here, it will not be effective over there. This kind of compartialisation by unit or weapon systems rather than by map is something that players can rarely experience in CM because the maps/compartments are not large enough. It turns the "approach" into a distinct phase of the battle, dominated by MGs, artillery and other long range fires. Also, compartialisation by terrain does automatically tell us anything about the size of the individual compartments. A single compartment can be 100x200m or 400x800m. And the size of compartments will play a major role on how the engagements play out, especially on their intensity and lethality (also: chance to withdraw) and the usefullness of different weapon systems. Unless we’re speaking about special regions like mountains, cities or extended woods or marshes, the “compartments” of your standard european countryside landscape are of course very variable, but generally speaking relatively large. That's why I've started this map-experiment. To create a map with (neccessarily fewer, as I want to finish the map at some point) but larger compartments, simply because I think that such maps are blatantly underrepresented in CM. I think it might even open up some new decisions for players, or at least put more emphasis on them: At which (of the many) targets to fire? How many units should fire? At what range should they open fire? And on a more general note, I also think that larger compartments are a bit easier on the players' minds. Small compartments put a lot of stress on the players (and the pixeltruppen, of course). It's the typical Combat Mission anxiety, claustrophobia or paranoia: http://community.battlefront.com/topic/133561-bit-of-a-ramble-on-how-cm-works-on-the-mind/ . At short ranges, any wrong step (or bad luck at spotting) is instantly lethal. If longer ranges are involved, the game is a bit less about ambushing. In more generously scaled compartments in the more typical, gently rolling countryside, the number of keyhole positions that can overwatch at short ranges should is a bit smaller. At least that's my conviction after driving through the Luxemburg countryside for a few hours on google maps streetview, measuring distances. Obviously for infantry it's easier to create ambush situations - simply because it can hide much better even in otherwise relatively open terrain than vehicles, But here, concealment (low to the ground, not blocking LOS at other parts of the map) is sufficient.
  9. Kaunitz

    Improvement suggestions

    As I've mentioned you can make use of the already exisiting pause-feature to give your units time to rally. I suggested it because it would be the easiest way to get the desired results (letting players decide if they want to move fast or deliberately with stops AND giving them close control over the path of movement) without adding new switches and buttons and whatnot to the game.
  10. +1 And I'd also be interested to take a look at the Ardennes map if it can be found somewhere. I fully agree to what you say. A good map should be balanced (according to the scenario or quickbattle conditions - if the scenario is assymetrical that's fine, of course) AND believable. That's why I don't think it's a crime if a mapmaker anticipates how the players will look at his map and tries to prevent a design that is inherently imbalanced/not fun for the players. I need to point out that, when it comes to breaking immersion, the edge of the map is one of the worst offenders. That's one of the reason why I feel the urge to have a certain minimum size for maps and try to prevent cut-offs. -------- More generally, I'd be interested to know what you would consider to be a good/fun to play map? Immersion/realism is probably a no-brainer. But can you name what makes the tactical appeal of a map? I will try to formulate some points myself.
  11. Interesting point and you might be on to something. With a gently rising canopy of leaves, this should be impossible, as the leaves -not the micro-terrain on the ground or tree trunks - block the lines of sight into the wood consistently. Thanks for the link! Cool stuff. I will also try to read up on some of the more mobile phases of WWII that you've listed. Re Map: Yes, I guess I'm prone to over-egging. But for me that's also part of the fun and experience. Scrutinizing how well the game's maps can represent real landscapes. This of course also applies to mere aesthetics that have no influence on the tactical gaming-experience at all. But when it comes to distances and foliage, I think these aspects are functionally important. On the picture, it does look like any unit in between the tree-trunks could be spotted quite easily, while on the real photograph, you'd be very safe from discovery because of the dense wall of foliage and the shadows cast by the canopy (the concealment effect of shadow is something that is abstracted into the "wood"-micro-terrains, which fails as soon as you stand up ^^). I haven't found a good way to simulate this effect, other than by using (chaotically and randomly placed) bocage fences. Generally speaking, I think that discussing things like these with the aim to bring the maps functionally (not just aesthetically) closer to real landscapes, is a good idea. I just wished I knew a bit more about the things that shape landscapes (I've no clue at all when it comes to agriculture or forestry....). All I can do is drive around in google streetview, measure distances, compare with WWII maps. I do think that some long-range scenario would be a nice addition to the pool of maps and scenarios currently available. Longer ranges are certainly realistic (which doesn't mean that short ranges aren't), and I also think they would give players a refreshing experience, with the role of some weapons becoming a bit clearer (e.g. MGs) and some aspects of the game becoming a bit more important than they usually are (finer graduation of suppression, aiming is more important, armor values/distance to target more important, movement under long range fire is sometimes still possible, firing without being immediately spotted, etc). In my last test, a AT-gun-bunker was duelling with a platoon of Shermans. At longer ranges, the Shermans had quite some troubles to hit and crack it. Longer distances also makes some problems stand out more though (tanks area-firing at not-yet-shared targets only sighted by infantry is a quite huge problem, infantry seems to spot much better at those longer distances).
  12. Kaunitz

    Improvement suggestions

    Interesting thing! I can clearly see how usefull it would be in urban environments ("Use that front door but please don't stop - or moonwalk - for 5 seconds out in the open!!"). But if anything like this is to be implemented, I think it would need to stay as simple as possible, without "checkboxes" that is. What about making infantry behave like vehicles by default, so that they move "through" waypoints without stopping. We already have a means to stop them temporarily or permanently (pause-order/pause-button/delete movement orders). - -
  13. This is indeed a problem. But it's not a deal-breaker and I think that all maps suffer from it. Especially ditches/small elevations that run diagonally across the map are an ugly thing, but there's really nothing you can do against it (if you know a trick please tell me! ). It's also true that the flatter /more gently sloped the landscape is, the more dead ground you create by implementing even a very small 1m-height feature or a simple hedge. First of all: Thanks for all the ideas you bring up! I still remember you, by the way! (http://community.battlefront.com/topic/125196-wip-mapscenario-taming-the-watchdog/?tab=comments#comment-1714589 I wonder though to what extent these mission-descriptions would apply to a WWII-setting. There are certainly people around who are more informed on these matters than me and maybe my picture of WWII-warfare is off (so pls correct me!), but as far as I know, WWII in north-western Europe and on the Eastern Front was still characterized by front lines, rather than the manoeuvre of "main bodies". So, apart from the early stages in which the frontlines were forming up (or failed at that...), I suppose that recon played a relatively small role in the main theaters of WWII? "If the enemy is not in that village anymore, he has probably retreated to the next one. If not, we just continue to advance until we get shot at...". But in a modified form, a "guard" or "delay" mission seems very plausible: as far as I know, WWII front lines, especially the German ones, were defended rather thinly but very deeply. The idea was pretty much to "slow down" the enemy with deposable infantry to prevent him from striking through the line (and wreak havoc among your support assets and your artillery) and in order to buy time to get your counter-strike-force ready to attack the enemy while he was still vulnerable/committed to the attack. The fear of the counter-attack is a very common theme in any WWII account. But then again I don't see why I should not also port this map over to CM:BS once it is finished! I will open up a CM:BS threat once I'm ready for the port. We can then discuss what kind of action would provide a suitable scenario for the map in more detail. At first glance though I have to say that I fear that my map will be to small for modern warfare. The narration you've described fits your map - which is larger (3328m x 1920m) - but I think we will find it difficult to come up with a plausible scenario for my 1.5 x 2km map. I've had all these troubles with modern warfare before (see threat linked above). But of course I could extend the map. ----- May I ask though whether your map is scaled 1:1 to the original? It's really hard to compare real pictures with ingame screenshots, but I do think I see some difference in the 2 pictures that you've posted? I know I'm extremely nitpicky (that's why I've started my own map! ) but doesn't the map looks smaller/denser than the real picture? For example, the house on the left seems to be at a distance of perhaps 4-5 action spots (32-40m) from the street, while on the real picture, it looks like it's farther away? It also seems as if you can't look as far on the map as you can on the picture? The trees on the horizon on the map seem to be larger (closer) than those on the real picture? I don't know whether they're already finished, but I would also suggest to add some concealment to the wood on the right or to woods in general. I've found bocage-tiles quite handy for that, in combination with terrain that offers some undergrwoth (light/heavy forest) and a sloping canopy (short trees at the edge, tall trees in the center of the wood). If you just place trees on light or heavy forest tiles, the effect is not really convincing. From my experience, soldiers that stand up are taller than the fortest-tile's terrain effect and thus can be seen quite easily if they're not blocked entirely by treetrunks or the trees' foliage. This can lead to ugly situations in which units can spot deeply into a wood. Also, thick vegetation at a wood's edge looks nice.
  14. Wait until you see the map before you decide how it feels. If the map is any good, it will feel natural AND turn out to be balanced (according to the idea of the scenario and/or as a quickbattle map).
  15. In CM:BS, Electronic Warfare does have a point cost. The only issue is that it needs to be set by the player who sets up the game, so both players know whether the enemy has EW or not. http://www.thefewgoodmen.com/thefgmforum/threads/opponent-wanted-cm-bs-tiny-small-quickbattle-on-medium-large-map.28262/#post-259796
  16. WIP: Working on woods This is the best "mixed" wood I could come up with. I tried to create a rising canopy, with shorter trees at the edges and taller trees as you proceed depper into the wood. The wood is not without problems: generally speaking, the trunks of CM trees are much too thick. I suppose it's necessary as an abstraction as the maximum number of trees you get per 8m² is 3). Also, the foliage/crowns of almost all CM trees are located very low/close to the ground. This means that lines of sight are unnaturally short in CM woods, wheras in most real woods, the situation "on the ground" is characterized by bare trunks - all the foliage is high up in the canopy of leaves. In CM:FB, there are two (cornifer) trees that feature tall trunks - tree E & H - but these are significantly taller than the other trees, so combining them looks a bit weird. It would be so great if map-designers had access to de-foliaged trees. Note that although the woods are cut off by the edge of the map, they are still large enough so that infantry has some space in it and is not trapped against the adge (so that the wood can not be saturated by artillery that easily). Small sidenote: In chapter 14 of Charles B. MacDonald, Company Commander. The Classic Infantry Memoir of WWII, you can read how firebreaks were significant features for orientation in woods. --------------------- WIP: View from the farm to the wooded hill (left) and orchard (right).The distance to orchard is ca. 1 km. Note the "gentleness" of the slope. There will be some hedges and ridges separating the individual fields. -------------------- In the potential scanerio, the German reinforcements (probably a platoon of PG in halftracks and/or trucks, 1-2 tanks/Stugs) will arrive on a road that leads through a narrow ravine between two hills (the same road will also be the exit objective). If the german player wants to evade the bottleneck (the ravine's exit), his troops will master a very steep road through the woods:
  17. @SeinfeldRules I just realized I've already taken a look at your maps some time ago! And I found them really great! Especially "Amongst the Ruins" stuck to my mind as the most beautiful urban map I've seen so far! And your Mine Mill Mountain! Your more agricultural maps were also created with a lot of love and astonishing attention to detail. The only issue I have with them is that they're very small, so I'm afraid that the "cutoff" problem applies for me.
  18. Thanks for the food for thought you provide! Scale, lines of sight, etc I'm not entirely afraid of dead ground, but I keep wondering about the scale. Disregard dead ground created by walls and other artificial stuff for a moment, let's just talk about dead ground created by the actual ground itself, in an agricultural setting - i.e. no mountains, no urban terrain, no dense woods. Here I've come to the conclusion that lines of sight of ca. 1.5 km are not that rare. Unless you're in a really mountainous area, the valleys created by hills are often 1-2 km in width. And you can look down into the valley from both sides. Just a small example from the border region between France and Luxemburg (my map would fit very well to this area): https://www.google.at/maps/@49.3228081,5.4817659,3a,60y,226.6h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1scauolubPaOzUGjZX0-Mqaw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656. The distance to that wooded hill is 1.5km. No dead ground (created by the shape of the ground itself) anywhere. And if you turn around, you can see for about 1 km until your eyes come upon another wooded hill. Sure, there is dead ground behind these little hills, but that is far, far away and can be disregarded if this was a CM-map. Here is an example of a view in a more hilly landscape, around Cheneux: https://www.google.at/maps/@50.4081518,5.9567179,3a,75y,143.91h,83.96t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1stQ6Oh1jpsxDiFAUiK0obmw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656. The distance to the wooded hill is about 1km. Here, you do get some dead ground in front, but vast areas of the hill are very well visible. And the dead ground/depression itself is probably also quite large - maybe well within rifle range, but not within point blank-ambush range. What certainly does obscure LOS is hedges, buildings, walls, patches of trees. But even here, if you're on the hill, you can usually see over smaller obstacles. It's a similar thing with those reverse-slope ambushes. In reality, hills are very large and the slope on their top is gentle (compared to slopes often seen on CM quickbattle-maps). A more gentle slope means that when you crest the ridge, you can see the enemy from a greater (less ambush-like distance). It's all a matter of scale. How often are your rifles out of range of a spotted enemy in a Combat Mission battle? In reality, you get to see other people very often from a distance of 300+ meters. So yes, I fully agree that in reality, you can find undulations in the ground that create plenty of dead ground, however, the scale of these undulations is generally speaking larger than what your standard CM quickbattle usually shows. As for vegetation blocking the LOS of machine guns: That's why I dream of some ability to prepare a machine gun position in CM, i.e. cut a fire lane through vegetation before the battle. Formations on the attack I've scanned through Ian Daglish's books and done my research for the Gerbini battle and I still wonder. According to the footprints of the individual companies drawn on maps, it often seems to be the case that companies were happily advancing across open fields, with their attack sectors touching each other. You can't find what we CM-players would call cover in each of these rather small (250m front) sectors (no houses, no ditch, no nothing). Often, judging from the map, these sectors had nothing in terms of cover. So perhaps I'm just underestimating how much cover even an "open" field can provide. That's one reason why I'd like to experiment with micro-cover. ------------------ I will certainly take a look at your maps! As I've mentioned, I don't really play scenarios, so I don't exactly know what's out there. Is there any you can recommend in particular?
  19. Slopes When you're working on a map, slopes can be tricky things. I think it's a good idea to share some thoughts about creating slopes. The crucial thing is not to accidently cut lines of sights by creating dead ground/reverse slope situations. Here are two examples: Here you can see a hill that rises gently at first and becomes a bit steeper to its top. In this case, units positioned on the top of the hill can see down in the valley and vice versa. There is no dead ground. In the game, this hill will have a "concave" feeling to it. (Note that on the very ridge itself, there will be some dead ground of course - but if you scale hills realistically, you won't be able to squeeze many hills/ridges onto a single map) In this case, the hill's slope gets more gentle towards the top. As you can see, this creates a significant dead ground (marked in red). In the game, this hill will have a "convex" feeling to it. If there are flat areas (instead of a gentle slope) somewhere on your hill, the effect is even stronger. My method is still developing, but I usually proeed in this way when I create elevations: 1. I define all the highest and lowest points/ridges of the map - these are my "base lines" 2. I define elevation info along lines connecting the highest/lowest terrain features, at regular intervalls (connection lines). I need to point out that I define every single elevation-change-increment along these lines. This gives me the control I need and usually it's also pretty to behold (no ugly "steps" in the terrain). Minor adjustments can then be made by placing single spots in between the lines. Here is an example of a connection line: In this case, the top of the hill is in the south. From the top downwards, there is a medium slope at first with -1 elevation for every (8x8m) square. I'm not a mathematician, but this would be somewhere around 12%. Then, however, from the 54m mark downwards, the slope becomes much gentler, with -1 elevation for every 2 squares. So, this example here would correspond to the first type of hill. There is no dead ground on it and units at the top will see all the way down to the foot of the hill. You may want to take a look at the contour lines to get an impression of nature's hills' many shapes : https://opentopomap.org/#map=14/49.13194/5.06470 (intervalls between contour lines = 10m in height)
  20. The issue is that the available standard road-tiles only come in 2 versions (straight/diagonal). There is no way to create gentle curves. I personally prefer straight roads over zig-zag-approximations. But it's true that long straight roads should be interrupted from time to time in order to prevent an artificial feeling and overly long LOS. Interestingly, "roads" through woods often appear very straight on contemporary maps. I didn't expect that - as mentioned above, woods are typically located on hills and roads would be built avoiding steep slopes. The reason is probably because these are first and foremost fire-breaks rather than roads. E.g. of a perfectly straight firebreak over a hill: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schneise#/media/File:Schneise.JPG
  21. Some thoughts about CM-mapmaking and some of my rules of thumb: Basically speaking, in the European setting, there should be no areas that are not used agriculturally in some way. For obvious reasons (how often do you need to turn around when ploughing?), fields usually come as a rectangle with one side significantly longer than the other. Don't place place fields "squarely" onto a slope/hill. The field's plough-tracks should follow the form of the hill, so that when ploughing, you don't need to go upwards or downwards. The plough-tracks of the respective terrain tiles (plughed E-W, N-S) should also follow that rule. Woods are usually found on hilltops. Creating slopes can be a real pain. Often, I have the adequate difference in height between two points, but the curvature in between them can take any (unwanted) form: convex, concave (or fake-concave - with a flat plain interrupting the slope), line. Both the convex and the concave versions are tricky because they create dead angles (and ugly "steps" in the terrain). To get the desired results, I started counting the exact number of spaces between my elevation-points. If you have irregular intervalls between elevation-transitions, you end up with dead angles very quickly. Aesthetics is one thing, gameplay another. Especially ditches, sunken roads etc. need to be tested in the game to see whether soldiers align on them the way you want. For example, see my struggles for the Gerbini scenario: Gerbini 1, Gerbini problems 2 Also, there are some issues you can't really solve as a mapmaker. E.g. you will have troubles to make units move along inside/in the cover provided by a ditch - they usually prefer to exit the ditch and get spotted and shot on the way. Another example is the transition between woods and open terrain. Placing dense trees and random bocage-fence-tiles at the edge of a wood looks really nice and seals off the wood from oberservation from outside (note that if you leave the edges totally open, you will end up playing the "spot me through the treetrunks" game - unless you stay prone, concealed by the "wood"-micro-terrain) However, this combination also means that you have almost no chance to see and fire out of the wood, even when your units are positioned on the very edge. There is no way to let units clear a fire-keyhole through the foliage. In this case, it might be a good idea to shift the bocage one tile into the wood, so that you can move around within the wood without being spotted from the outside, while being allowed to see out of the wood if you're on the very edge. You'd need to crawl the final part to the wood-edge (in order to make use of the concealment provided by the wood-micro-terrain). -------------------------------- Size of the scenario & How would formations attack? I'm a fan of smaller scenarios. I'm easily overwhelmed by the micro-management of larger scenarios. This, however, does not go too well with the larger maps that my approach requires (no cutoffs, realistic scale!). The current map size (ca. 1.5 x 2 km) is the best compromise I could come up with. Still the size of the forces that would realistically fight over such a front of 1.5km is huge. For the attacker, it's reasonable to assume that an infantry company on the attack would be assigned a sector with a width of about 250m. So, if we allow for a few gaps in between the companies, we would still end up with 5 companies "up"/in the first line. I often wonder how WWII formations would attack. Would they try to advance across the whole sector (roughly in a line), at least until hard contact was made, to make sure that the whole area is clear of the enemy? Or would they rather use cover to approach the final objective (switching to columns). In this case, however, the sector would not really be secure as pockets of the enemy can easily be overlooked? It might seem strange at the first thought, but to me the "line"-method of advance doesn't seem totally unreasonable. After all, you wanted to shift the frontline and gain ground. It makes no sense to capture an objective in front, while the approach to it is not clear (for support vehicles, etc). Also, with those relatively narrow frontages assigned to attacking formations, an approach that sticks to cover would quickly lead to bunch-ups and intermingling of the companies? So my suspicion (but this is purely guesswork, mind you) is that formations on the attack really advanced as a line until they came under fire. MGs are of special interest here as they would force a formation to seek cover very early on/at great distances, making it much harder and time-consuming to clear a sector. With a realistically sized map, you can recreate this early stage of an attack.
  22. Maybe I'll add another hamlet of this size. But the map is not really concentrated on this "village". It's located at the edge of the map. The attacker will deploy here and start moving towards the objective (a farm at the crossroads). So what should this area (defined by the the line "orchard - hamlet - thicket") offer for the attacker? Some positions for observation of the objective area and positions for long range support. The orchard is not suitable, as it is surrounded by a large wall - you can't see out of it. You might blow holes in the wall to create an interesting keyhole position for a tank. But moving infantry through there seems risky as you're just creating bottlenecks for your opponent to shoot at. (In any case you can use the orchard as cover to approach the wooded hill, so it serves a purpose). The hamlet is certainly an interesting position, but it is also an obvious target for larger calibres and - to a lesser extent - artillery. Adding more buildings would make each of them a less obvious target. So that's certainly something to consider. It's probably the best position for setting up MGs to fire at the farm, but enemy tanks are a big concern. Then again I'm not sure if the defenders will start with a tank and/or with a large calibre pointing at the hamlet. Also, they probably don't want to reveal their position early on, just to get rid of a single enemy machine gun? The thicket is a very suitable feature for observation and long range fires, but vehicles won't be able to enter it. Also, it is vulnerable to artillery because of its comparatively small size. Unlike the proper woods, which in this map cover quite large spaces, with their edges extending for 100+ meters, it's easily possible to "saturate" the whole thicket with artillery fire.
  23. I've placed the houses of my "village" - it's more like a few houses, really - very close together: https://imgur.com/a/MBviP5U https://imgur.com/9U5IzDS (the surroundings are not done yet - also, I'm not sure about that ditch...) And this is the orchard: https://imgur.com/98EDnfQ https://imgur.com/yBubriJ (this is the interior of the orchard - Note that the terrain is quite "bumpy". It should provide some nice cover for infantry if they get their heads down. I think this will also work perfectly for woods, but for fields it might look a bit weird.)
  24. Wow so much feedback! Thank you, guys! Scenario vs. Quickbattle: It's true that in order to implement the retreat-idea, I need to create a scenario rather than a quickbattle (@Bud Backer, @sburke). I think it's perfectly possible to create two versions of the map. One for quickbattles, one for H2H scenario-play (no AI!). I also wished that more (slightly modified, if neccessary) scenario-maps were available for quickbattles (@JulianJ), especially since most scenario-maps are really well done and often scaled realistically. It's just a pity that scenarios have a rather limited H2H appeal if both the forces and their deployment are pre-determined. With free deployment, it's more interesting. I think the appeal of scenarios could be greatly enhanced by adding more randomness: e.g. giving players the option to choose between sets of pre-selected troops, adding a random factor to the arrival time of reinforcements, etc. A scenario also gives me the option to select troops for the players. The selection of forces by the players is a good thing, but sometimes I think it really favors some set-ups while discriminating others. I'm also intrigued by the idea to add reinforcements for the defender. I can even imagine to make him start the battle with only infantry (against some armored support for the attacker). He would then get reinforcements (Panzergrenadiere in halftracks! ) to relieve the infantry or launch a counter attack. But maybe a proper counter-attack is better represented as a separate mission on the map (as part of a tiny campaign). Retreat-idea: Indeed I think it will be tricky to set up the objectives in a way to make the defender ponder whether it is better to retreat or not. As you've mentioned, domfluff, It's easy to give the defender incentives to run away. You just need to give him exit objectives. Giving him some incentive to stay, however, is more complicated. In any case, I'd like to make a retreat an option once the defender knows he's going to lose the terrain objective. Instead of making a final suicide stand, I'd prefer if he could withdraw his forces to limit the extent of the defeat or perhaps even get away with a draw. So therefore, I think that the defender should not be awarded too many points for destroying the attacker's units - this would just reward the suicide-stand rather than the retreat. I assume it's more reasonable to create a balance between "preserve own troops/exit the map" and "terrain" objectives. In order to make the decision more interesting, there need to be several smaller terrain objectives, not just a single large one. Another important aspect here is that I think players should be allowed to know how the outcome is calculated (by adding the info to the briefing...). They need to know that at some point, a withdrawal can be an interesting option for the defender. Scouting: For me, scouting is just not within the scope of CM. In a H2H battle, it's rather boring to exchange 50 turns of doing "nothing". Rather, I would like to add the information that has been gained by recon before the battle to the briefing, or perhaps even on the map (by using "landmarks"). But this again cannot be done if you allow free deployment of forces. But then you can still set the "intel filter" in the scenario editor to give some information to the players. Villages, sizes of fields: It's certainly true that in the 1940s, field sizes were smaller in general. However, there is still a lot of room between the standard QB-map field sizes and a properly scaled field. And you can get a pretty good picture by looking at the paths that are displayed running along larger fields on contemporary maps and also by taking a look at photos of aerial recon. As for the villages - maybe I'm confused by the maps. On many contemporary maps, houses seem to be spaced out quite a bit. But probably their footprints are displayed in an artificially distorted (also too big) way in order to make the layout of the village clearer. --------------------- Generally speaking, I need to point out again that I don't expect battles on a more realistically scaled map to be more interesting/tactical by themselves. I think they will just play out a bit differently and also a bit more "relaxed", with what I'd like to call a "soft" contact. Units will become aware of each other at longer distances which means that they're not knocked out instantly and can observe the enemy a bit more. And, for that reason, MGs can for example lay down fire when the enemy's rifles are still way out of their range. You will quickly learn how much of a "close range" weapon ordinary infantry really is. Casualties tend to trickle in more slowly and more "accidently". I also hope that the suppression-system will shine in a bit more nuanced way. If my units get suppressed, they're usually dead very soon anyway and their suppression bar is maxed out. I rarely see medium levels of suppression for sustained periods of time. WIth a larger distance between the contrahents, I hope to see more nuanced levels of suppression at work. In the same vein, I think that armor values will become more important (at point blank ranges, anything goes). On the current QB maps, by contrast, contact is very "hard", spotting leads to immediate catastrophical results. This fosters a kind of un-relaxed (many people would say: more exciting! ) gameplay and inculcates the typical "paranoia" in CM-players. Every freaking ridge, every corner of a house is just a death trap that potentially leads not to 1 casualty, but to the wipe-out of the whole team. It's just so unforgiving. This is certainly realistic for the final stages of an modern fire-arms assault (if the defender does not withdraw!), but it misses out all the stages before the assault, where it's not as much down to instincts and reaction time, but to slightly more deliberate decisions.
  25. Still I think that this issue is probably surmountable in the current engine if you would allow soldiers to clip through the ground mesh? Not pretty but it could solve problems functionally? I don't know anything about the inner workings of the engine so I can't tell. I'm not denying that there are issues/things that could be better (fortifications, crew-served weapons can't be remounted, urban warfare, targeting the ground for area fire) but I think many of them could be solved/improved with some effort within the current engine? The engine seems to be quite flexible (just take the "look around the corner" thing that got patched into the game). @Erwin: Blame it on "Saving Private Ryan" (1998). And Band of Brothers (2001).