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SimpleSimon

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SimpleSimon last won the day on February 5

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  1. It's been blocked John. Which is a shame because I was going to agree totally. You can even point to instances where guys had to work without horses and seriously lug the guns around by foot and sweat. Even a horse could became a luxury but usually they ended up becoming food when supplies started getting short...
  2. This bit about attitudes toward narcotics over time always makes me chuckle when I hear it. The increasingly complicated cocktail of drugs Hitler was taking most certainly played a major role in his physical degradation during the war. I wonder how much of it might've been psychological though. It's strange since in Mein Kampf Hitler makes many allusions to the achievement of a Gotterdammerung as the sort of Magnum Opus of his life. Yet once confronted with just that he seems to have proven rather overwhelmed by it.
  3. That's fair enough. I just think it's worth asking how badly we need the tools capable of programming in more sophisticated AI routines when it seems that just featuring more of what we've got would suffice. Your own point seems to reinforce that as well unless i'm misunderstanding something. I certainly have nothing against better mechanisms for influencing the AI, I would just like to know what the expense of these features are and how that would fit into an overall development cycle. Workarounds are not ideal, but how inconvenient are they? Which is exactly my point as well. Is it entirely necessary for CM to feature such sophistication? How much of how many scenarios are essentially "move here shoot that"?
  4. These are problems yes but can you name a game with AI that does any of these things? Everything listed here is an example of abstract thinking the sort of which no machine in existence is capable of doing yet or presumably the world would be a very different place right now. What you may think of as examples of games which can do the above concepts probably don't do anything like evaluation involving the sort of abstract thinking only a human mind can do. Any video game you've played that can do these things is in fact obscuring its inability to actually perform these concepts through the rest of the game's tools. Video game developers use all sorts of tricks to create compelling and intriguing challenges especially when the opponent is a human who possesses the insurmountable advantage of his human brain. For instance lots of games give the artificial intelligence huge stat buffs like a big health pool, damage buffs, borg communications, spawning enemies out of the player's line of sight, spawning enemies endlessly (ie: "clown car'ing"), granting them knowledge of player dispositions and stats, +2 on every dice roll etc. Basically the favorite method in many games is to build cheats into the AI. In Combat Mission this tends to lead to the infamous cases of overpacked maps with huge, in fact ridiculous defender headcounts vs the human attacker. While there is a time and a place for this and it's not necessarily a bad thing it is none the less a rather crude and inelegant solution to the AI's deficiencies. There are other ways to create challenge and intrigue. So no the AI cannot conduct self assessments, but you can use tools in the games to emulate that. You can restrict some plans to semi-completion, or have some other plans exist to implement what is describable as a "sub optimal" solution to the other side's plan. If you use the tools presented by the game successfully, it won't be necessary to think of such highly granular concepts like situational awareness or the limited AI plans available. Think of the game's many facets, like how the scenario is scored, how the terrain of the map influences each side's thinking, how the ToEs and tools available to each side can influence the computer's plan vs a player's plan. I'm not trying to suggest that there is any ideal or "right" way to go about designing scenarios but it's a bit much to expect BFC to make the Combat Mission games and also make us Skynet.
  5. One issue players seem to bring up a lot is that the AI seems to be prepared to conduct excessively bloody attacks to the last man. Like the AI doesn't conduct any kind of active threat assessment. Actually it does, but again here designers don't seem to be thinking about context and/or using the tools available to their fullest. If you tell the AI to advance through a sector and use modifiers on the designated units like "fanatic" and "elite" then yeah you're going to get an attack that seems pretty pushy. Fanatically so in the sort of Light-Brigade sense. I've gotten pretty used to designing my own scenarios low balling troop skill and motivation way more than I think most guys are used to and that tends to produce far better results than making everyone crack Airborne/Shock Troops. The AI doesn't make high level decisions like the player does...but high-level thinking isn't always necessary either. Remember we as the player are omniscient gods presiding over the battlefield with our instant and precise awareness of encounters and our assurance that the only enemies we will ever encounter will be in the highly predictable slice of map we are fighting on. (Just one of the issues with games using play areas of hard-definition. EG: Map borders clearly defining where the player does not need to expect enemies to attack him from.) You can delegate basic self-preservation to troops easily enough by just setting their motivation and morale values much lower. I experimented with this on a modification of the Troina campaign in Fortress Italy. I set the morale and motivation modifiers of a platoon of German troops so low that my opening bombardment on a sector of map nowhere near them caused them break and flee back to the Battalion leader's HQ elsewhere on the map. This is not very precise threat assessment, but it's an example none the less. Most guys would prefer awry attacks were simply cancelled I think, but given the scale available to the AI through its morale/motivation selectors I don't see how the leader AI couldn't be expected to self assess that well enough. Again here scenario designers need to be fair and remember that real life commanders were often afflicted by confusion themselves and could be unaware of just how badly their attack had failed, even from within that very attack, until very late. Edit: Also Squarehead's point that more maps need to feature mixtures of static and mobilized troops is a good point too. I designed one scenario with a pair of companies attacking from the edge of a forest one time. Company A was dug-in at the forest edge and Company B advanced from behind them toward a phase-line. Crucially I allowed both Companies to use the same deploy area, leaving the decision to deploy both Companies in line or both in attack up to the player. I used the entrenchments to suggest that at least one of the Companies be used as a base of fire, and in the briefing I allude to their positioning being necessary due to resistance from the opposing forest. Since the defense plan could include a counter attack, or perhaps nothing more than snipers there's context here for making use of defense while conducting what is, overall, an attack.
  6. Totally agree that the tactical AI is often sold short. A lot comes from the sort of vague feedback the AI gives scenario designers about its intent on plan execution which can lead to wildly unintended outcomes. On the other hand a lot of people expect an enormous amount of granularity in plan execution on the AI's part which is mostly unnecessary. "Force A moves to point B and shoots whatever it sees" is seriously 90% of Combat Mission and the AI just so happens to be able to execute movement and fire plans...so what more do you need? Certainly some stuff like the AI re-engaging historic contacts would be nice and a way to see AI movement paths in the scenario editor would be a great time saver for testing plans. Overall the biggest problem with the AI is the enormous amount of work involved in making plans for it because of the User-Interface feedback issues mentioned. This leads scenario designers naturally down the path of making simplistic and repetitive AI plans which then leads players to believe "the AI is bad" when it isn't really. A lot of what Freyburg is saying here is really important for scenario designers. In order to fully wield the AI you have to use multiple plans, and think very abstractly about what the AI can do to upset the player's movements and pose a challenge. For instance in literally every scenario i've designed for myself... i've always set up at least one attack plan for the AI that is very, almost recklessly aggressive. The likelihood of this plan's execution is dependent upon many factors (I increase the likelihood if the AI is Waffen SS for instance) but I always feature it because if the player never has to expect spoiling attacks of any kind, he's not really under any pressure except for that given by the scenario's time limits. Time limits are a good way to make scenarios tense but you don't want to become over-reliant upon the scenario timer either because it can unfairly handicap the player by restricting his movements to only sections of the map his force can realistically reach in the time allotted. Easy solution? The potential, not the guarantee, the potential of an active defense instead of a passive one regardless of how illogical or irrational it may seem. The other basic item is randomized deployment rights for the AI when it's both attacking or defending. You can abstract the quantity of the AI's deployment "rights" by considering (or featuring on map even) your own side's reconnaissance quality vs the enemy's. You shouldn't be too perturbed by sort of baffling or seemingly illogical deployments either because tbh a lot of that is a perspective thing and scenario designers often make their scenarios less interesting by trying to police the AI down to every individual square it can use on deployment because "that's not what I would do this is what I would do if I was running this show!" - The confusion here extends from an unclear objective on the scenario designer's part leading to an imbalance in the pursuit of challenge and intrigue. You should consider both of those things when making a scenario. A company of Panzer Grenadiers deploying in the middle of a forest hex around zero objectives doesn't make much sense no but that's only if the scenario designer is thinking about that in terms of a linear script. What if you open enough of the map up the player could potentially maneuver through that forest? What if they don't deploy there every time? What if you substitute a minefield instead sometimes? Every square on your map needs the potential for context. It doesn't necessarily need to be held or be dead, it just needs to be potentially something. Crucially when the AI is attacking its own fire support is going to be the biggest source of the scenario's ability to generate random outcomes. Lots of the scenario designers seem to avoid use of the AI fire support plans though, or make them too restrictive by using only one plan. One thing I always do with AI fire plans is include a heavy "rear area" bombardment to discourage the player from just pooling his force is a small area near the objectives. Remember that artillery was the solution to heavy force density and if the player can reliably concentrate his forces on areas of the map he expects to be safe the AI attacker's job will be predictably harder every time. I redesigned Hot Mustard in CMFI with a squadron of FW-190s in ground support and split their "missions" between attacks on my frontline or bomb runs on the train station the American commander is using as his HQ. If this squadron had existed at the battle it would've been perfectly reasonable to expect them to bomb and strafe the train station as a suspected HQ even if their mission had called for direct support of the German's attack. Usually they will not do this, but it could happen. So maybe pooling your whole Battalion for a dense and interlocking defense at the train station would not be the path to victory or an optimal defense every time hmm? What if there's a plan for a cancelled attack? Seriously what if you just put a plan in there where the AI executes a completely different set of objectives from what the player sees wherein just capturing the front half of the map was "good enough" for them in an "own objective" sort of way? It's important not to cripple the player I think, and give them enough assets to face setbacks and still reasonably be able to affect the scenario's outcome. Most of the scenario designers are thinking too much in terms of scripting though, and this makes their AI plans very limited or simplistic. Defense is easy enough, and randomized deployment is very basic. You've really made it though when you can construct compelling offense from the AI that doesn't rely excessively on any single constraint upon the player.
  7. No joke tanks destroyed weapons and equipment a lot by just running them over. The Germans noted that Matilda tanks seemed recklessly prone to trying to flatten Pak 36 crews in Belgium but probably thats what it'd come down to if the tank was out of ammo and running stuff over is a good way of making sure it can't be recaptured. It's amusing to imagine that tanks did indeed conduct a very abstract form of melee combat with like...their enormous mass and tracks.
  8. I think the trouble with the Soviet early war armored cars was that they just didn't quite fit into the sort of All-or-Nothing thinking that permeated the Red Army and its procurement. The BA-10/11 might well be a great armored car but comrade we can only afford to have a few chassis taking up production lines at a time. It was probably seen as neither light enough or subtle enough to make a good scout but also insufficiently protected and armed to make a good tank either. "Any job we'd use the BA-10 for we'd prefer to use either a BA-64 or a Valentine." The chassis it was based on was a modified version of the GAZ-AAA's chassis...which means it probably wasn't standard with that truck anymore and the Soviets would've axed its production in 1941 on those grounds. Can't show that this is what happened for sure, just that it's a theory. As usual any that happened to survive on the front were welcome to stay in service for as long as they survived and the vehicle probably wasn't so different from the GAZ-AAA that it couldn't share some parts with it. Also I think it weighed quite a bit for a wheeled vehicle and that was never good when conducting operations in Russia the Land of the Mud Rivers.
  9. Doesn't seem like it was a bad place to have directed them either. The Germans had some of the most heavily armed and armored reconnaissance formations in the world. Some of those Panzer Aufklarungs were organized like mini Panzer Divisions. Being in a Soviet reconnaissance unit probably meant you were likely to to run into an Sdk 234 or Luchs at some point and you weren't going to sick the BA-64 on those.
  10. It's unclear what the Russians seem to have done with the bazookas they received in Lend Lease. Panzerfausts and Schrecks were usually just put right back into service by the same frontline troops who had captured them. The bazooka seems to have had very little presence at the front though. I've heard that they were issued to reconnaissance teams but i'm willing to bet quite a few of them ended up at HQs.
  11. Cool to see it one day, otherwise abstracted easily enough by present mechanics.
  12. Whatsa matta you don't like the Nagant EBR?? The helpful thing that can be said about a polymer stock is that at least it won't catch fire rapid firing the gun the way the wooden stock of the Czar's finest rifles would. If you can rapid fire it that is. I'm not sure how guys managed to work the bolt on the M1938 that fast because no matter what condition the gun is in you either need some seriously strong hands or a crowbar to work that damn handle. They did get around to fixing the sight issue with the M1C and just redesignated the rifle the M1D. Course I think the even more ridiculous case of defective American WW2 small arms was the M1903A4. The US Army somehow managed to break a perfectly fine bolt action rifle just by removing a single groove in the rifling to produce a "sniper" rifle that was despised by snipers and marksmen alike. The Marines of course, never ones to go home when they can go big, stuck with their own M1903A3 sniper mods that all came with an attached Hubble Space Telescope for shooting the Captain off a moving Japanese Destroyer cruising through Iron Bottom Sound...from Oahu.
  13. The AI has a pretty good sense of self evaluation I think. Usually by the time the AI offers me a surrender I tend to examine its remaining assets and manpower and really most of the time I feel that it made the call at the right time. Usually but not always it seems to favor the presence of at least one unbroken formation of troops with a functional command link running up to the Company/Battalion commander, whoever is present. Usually when scenarios seem to be going on too long it has more to do with the lack of tools on the player's end than what the AI has. Just what I see. HAHAHAHAHAHA
  14. The whole reason the Germans broke out those shurzen armor plate kits for their tanks wasn't because of the bazooka as the Americans believed, but because the PTRD and PTRS were inflicting casualties on tank crews. Trouble is plates of spaced armor added yet more weight to the badly over-burdened Panzer IV chassis. The H model was actually slower than the Tiger in a road cruise and probably many maintenance failures from burnt out transmissions and sheared track pins caused vehicles to miss those important curtain calls that could affect whole battles. That's the sort of circumstantial history that western historians laughing off the Boys Rifle would miss about the PTRD/RS.
  15. I agree with Mikey and would like to add a corollary to it, I seriously dislike it when scenario designers make terrain restrictive or unpassable to infantry when really infantry did almost all of their fighting in the places where vehicles couldn't follow them. If im designing a map, I liberally feature foot bridges, terrain folds, unguarded hamlets, and forests going up to the edges of local high ground or the objective area etc to facilitate infantry's maneuver. Tiny impassable streams never make sense to me, it's one thing if it's the Rhine but lots of times I see what are basically creeks in the game give infantry a No-Movement and if I see that im cracking open the editor...
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