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Reducing player's god-like capabilities

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Just came across an idea, how the player's god-like knowledge and impact on tactics could be reduced further (thanks to CMx2's relative spotting).

To my understanding there are two big god-like problems the absolute knowledge the player creates:

1. The player can move units although the particular unit has absolutely no information where and why it is going to.

2. The player can then use area fire although the unit has no knowledge that an enemy is there.

This idea deals with problem #2.

Assumption: the game allows intelligence sharing between units from different command&control chains, but therefore the game denies high explosive area fire on locations without the unit having any indication of an enemy being there (exception: buildings can always be area fired).

Units can share their individual intel about enemy units and the receiving unit would get the foreign intel contact knowledge inherited. For the player this would be displayed just like sound contacts.

Any such "contacts" would be the prerequisite for the player to give a HE area fire command on this action spot.

A tank or armored vehicle would only share his intel to other units out of his radio net or C2, if it is opened up.

Example:

Ifantry spots an enemy ATG.

Now the player would simply order an on field mortar or a vehicle with a cannon to a position that get's LOS to the (adjacent) action spot and area fires it.

With intel sharing and area fire of HE being denied, the player would need to move the unit for countermeasures, for example a tank, close enough to the unit with the intel first (and open up to get a more reliable location). If the tank was in talking distance he could get a much better description than only being within hand sign distance. Stopping for 10 seconds could give worse intel than stopping for 30 seconds. Under optimum conditions the intel should be as good as if the tank would have spotted the unit himself already. And, ofcourse, then the information would be shared within the radio/communication net of the tank/receiving unit like it is done now already.

Negative consequences of this idea?

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Given it was standard practice by tankers to 'brass up' possible enemy locations ie use area fire in possible enemy positions is this such a big deal. Why not have a pal command your units whilst you control the battle using a map and issue orders by email or phone call? ;)

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1. CM does not model area fire effectively, linear concentrations by supporting SFMG's being an obvious example.

2. Units historically use ammunition in prodigious quantities, area firing any suspected enemy position. It's why most AFV's carried quantities of MG ammo measured in the thousands, in CM use of area fire is more discriminate, given the careful plotting required to effect a typical pattern.

As for command delays, it certainly stopped the multi-waypoint, grand palooza, that you sometimes see in AAR's, being responded to with no time penalty. This allows far too much flexibility.

Another bone of contention, and perhaps the most serious is the effects of being out of command. For a tactical wargame, the effects of command and control really need a make over. Theoretically, a Russian conscript unit can execute a complex series of movement orders, whilst being out of command control, in response to events beyond the knowledge of it's higher command elements.

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As others have said, it is a basic tactic to engage suspected enemy locations with fire. In fact, I would submit that the vast majority of time troops are firing they are not shooting at actual targets (as in I see someone let me hit him) but directing fire an an enemy location. Note that I'm not even talking about recon by fire which is maybe there's enemy there let's fire it up to see if they shoot back. I'm talking about actual head to head fighting. So its entirely appropriate to be able to shoot at an location. As some have said however it would be nice to designate a larger or linear area for area fire, that would be nice.

Los

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The biggest GOD-LIKE ability available is view points 2 and up. How many pre-Viet Nam commanders (helocopter) could levitate above the terrain and see down on the battle? Not very many. Additionally you cant see the battle from a spot that you are not on.

There was somebody's rule set went something like this:

1. Use the tab key to move from unit to unit and then do pivot while viewing the map.

2. Aways keep your camera at level 1.

There were several more. I'm not sure if this was a rule or not. I would toggle troops off, then using a view 7 review the empty map from high above. Because every commander had a map.

I tried this a few times and said NO WAY. What was the name of those rules??

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Franko's Iron Man Rules. Date all the way back to CMBO days.

Forensically interesting. For practical intents and purposes, not very playable except perhaps for extremely small scenarios -- they basically turn CM into a platoon command simulator.

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I actually found those rules very helpful when plotting infantry moves. Down in the weeds, so to speak you were far more aware of terrain. The problem I'm finding with CM2 is the lack of fidelity when moving units using the action spot system, it's an approximation now, less of a skill. More like a conventional board game, with a set number of possibilities. Though terrain modelling in CM2 is more accurate.

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There was a CMBO scenario you were supposed to play this way. Dispersed paratroopers trying to take a village objective, but you could only tab between units at viewpoint one to play. (honor system). It was incredibly difficult.

The biggest GOD-LIKE ability available is view points 2 and up. How many pre-Viet Nam commanders (helocopter) could levitate above the terrain and see down on the battle? Not very many. Additionally you cant see the battle from a spot that you are not on.

There was somebody's rule set went something like this:

1. Use the tab key to move from unit to unit and then do pivot while viewing the map.

2. Aways keep your camera at level 1.

There were several more. I'm not sure if this was a rule or not. I would toggle troops off, then using a view 7 review the empty map from high above. Because every commander had a map.

I tried this a few times and said NO WAY. What was the name of those rules??

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There is no end to the way you can play CM. Peregrine had a very detailed set of guidelines to try and develop a more immersive experience.

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=111966

You can not do linear barrages, you can enforce your own command delays etc etc.

In our current Campaign battle for Son I had to worry what Broadsword might do with a random arty barrage as I had my BN and Company commanders meet up to prepare the defense.....one lucky round and I was gonna be up the creek. The only thing we can't do right now is impose delays on the AI, but considering it is playing by a fixed set on instructions from the get go it is essentially how folks think the Russians should play. :P

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Ok, ok, I see some players insist on wasting ammo. :D

How about combining both?

I think there is a way to keep recon by fire available (probably even enhancing it) AND to decrease the player's god-capabilities:

Spotting dependent area fire

A pic says more than a thousand words:

lbfv-1-c4ca.jpg

In this pic I chose 6 action spots for firing HE where no contact/intel is avvailable (but maybe 4 AS would already be enough?).

The better contact in the pic reduces the area fire width to two AS, the weaker tank contact reduces it to three and the building can be aimed directly like it is now.

That way the chance to eliminate unspotted units would become vastly reduced, good spotting or sharing intel would be rewarded, while the capabilities with recon by fire are maintained, probably even increased. :cool:

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"The only thing we can't do right now is impose delays on the AI, but considering it is playing by a fixed set on instructions from the get go it is essentially how folks think the Russians should play."

Agreed. I still play CM1 tournies and find that command delays add a lot of C&C issues that "feel" much more realistic than the CM2 "everyone on the map can instantly respond to orders" system.

Am not holding my breath that BF will bring back delays. But, I never understood the rationale for eliminating command delays. (Maybe it was a requirement in CMSF when they were hoping to use CMSF for training sim defense contracts.)

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If I understand correctly is that you suggest that no area fire is possible unless something was spotted in the vicinity of the target square you wish to shoot at, even if that contact is old? If yes then that means you're eliminating recon by fire as in sometimes you shoot action squares where NO contact was ever spotted. The whole point is that you shoot probable enemy positions even if you had absolutely no contact near them. You're eliminating this option completely...

For example, imagine a treeline and you spotted enemy unit on one side of it. With some probablility the enemy has units along the whole treeline and you'd like to shoot the hell out of it, just in case. With your system it's tough luck, unless the targeted areas are close to the previously spotted enemy... (On your picture, imagine you wanted to shoot squares all along that treeline just in case and with your system you can only shoot at selected action squares near the old contact...What if you wanted to shoot the building behind the one with the contact etc.?)

Sorry, I think I know what you're trying to achieve here but you're eliminating too many tactical possibilities and real life tactics in your system. CM is and will be a game, some abstractions are necessary, also some "god-like" abilities of the player are needed for the game to make sense and can actually make it closer to reality and real unit behaviour.

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"The only thing we can't do right now is impose delays on the AI, but considering it is playing by a fixed set on instructions from the get go it is essentially how folks think the Russians should play."

Agreed. I still play CM1 tournies and find that command delays add a lot of C&C issues that "feel" much more realistic than the CM2 "everyone on the map can instantly respond to orders" system.

Am not holding my breath that BF will bring back delays. But, I never understood the rationale for eliminating command delays. (Maybe it was a requirement in CMSF when they were hoping to use CMSF for training sim defense contracts.)

I went back to see what some of the discussion terms were like. Some of this you probably recall, but some others may have missed. From what I can see in a couple threads, Steve wasn't necessarily opposed to the idea (apparently the CMx1 version was his idea) he just wasn't happy with how it functioned and it was more problematic than helpful. I think this is one of those issues where folks have kind of a rose tinted glasses vision of how it actually functioned.

Personally, I'm with the "ambivalent" group. We took a lot of heat for having Command Delays be mandatory in CMx1, so when we went to design CMx2 we did not view the feature as essential to recreate. As others have pointed out, there were a lot of unrealistic and annoying consequences to the original implementation of Command Delays that has caused few people to complain about their absence.

The primary problem with the concept of Command Delays is that they weren't context sensitive enough. There are basically three conditions:

1. Reactionary - taking fire while in the middle of the street? Moving to an adjacent building or back to an alley way should not have much, if any, delay.

2. Tactical - taking fire from the middle of the street might mean having to figure out how to flank and enter the house where the fire is coming from. So while there should be practically no delay to get off the street, there should be some delay involved in attacking to clear out the enemy.

3. Operational - being told to not take out the enemy in that particular house because the entire Company is going to pivot on 3rd Platoon and clear the park next to all the houses so supporting armor can move in and silence the enemy in the houses might involve a LOT of time to get going.

The problem with the CMx1 Command Delays is that they didn't really do any of these three things well. #1 was hamstrung by a basic Delay, #2 was frustrated by waypoint usage, #3 was not scaled well depending on the scope and complexity of the plan change (e.g. in real life it could take 20 minutes just to tell a unit to stop doing what it was doing, not to mention get it coordinated with others).

The real solution for simulating command decision is to have three different systems at work. Reactionary would basically be no artificial delay and instead be based on inherent unit attributes and situational issues (like being pinned). Tactical would be based on conditions specified by a planning overlay, such as unit boundaries, operational waypoints designated ahead of time, etc. The operational layer would simulate the difficulties of changing these plans to the degree of change and communications capabilities.

IMHO this is what we should shoot for. Unfortunately this is a TON of work. Months. So I don't have any clue when we'll have enough time to do it. Until then, we are remaining open about putting in an OPTIONAL CMx1 system (along with all of its shortcomings). But definitely not for CM:BN.

Steve

Er... but Command Delays weren't very realistic. Just read the last few posts to see why. Dropping Command Delays was a very, very good and sound decision. This coming from the guy who originally designed the CMBB/AK Command Delays system :D Was the old system fun? For some, yes. For others it was annoying as hell. And for nobody was it really realistic.

Plus, no system can be viewed based on one or two components. To judge if CMx2 is on the whole more realistic than CMx1 *all* features have to be looked at in aggregate. CMx1 can't hold a candle to CMx2 on most individual points of comparison, not to mention when added together. And as I said, on balance I don't think of the CMx1 implementation of Command Delays as very realistic. It was a decent stab at a very thorny problem, but we don't wish to repeat that particular implementation.

Steve

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All good points with regards to the command delays. But something should be done to the Russians because all accounts say they tended not to be creative and take initiative on the battlefield.

Nothing was more frustrating then the command delays when the log jam traffic pile up occurred. It took massive micro-managing to clear a jam out.

Like the 91 at rush hour. :D

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Well, part of the problem is that for all it is, CMBN is still an abstraction of tactical combat. There are things the player has that no commander in real life had. But, there are also things every commander, platoon, squad and soldier had that no player has: human experience, intuition and improvisation that go beyond orders. It seems to me the "god-like" capabilities of the CMBN commander are needed to balance out the lack of this capability.

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When I play I play in iron mode. I don't have units area fire known enemy positions without contact icons. I use area fire on suspected enemy positions on occasion (by suspected I mean there has been no enemy contact). If I am advancing to a position, with or without contact icon, I will use target light on that position regardless of contact icons. No one else has to play the way I do, which is a very good thing, and which is why I am against the idea of hard-coding additional targeting restrictions.

I am also very much against command delays. I, too, played and loved CMx1. Having been tasked to defend with conscript Italians I feel command delays are very unnecessary when using lesser quality troops. If you have CMFI you can download this scenario and try it for yourself (my game was h2h).

http://www.battlefront.com/index.php?option=com_remository&Itemid=314&func=fileinfo&id=2768

If they were any less capable there would be no point in having them modeled in game, IMHO.

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There also comes a point where the desire for realism and game immersion conflict with the pure enjoyment of playing a tactical simulation.

You can adjust factors as much as you want to produce a realistic model of a battlefield, and the amount of information available to the local commanders (you the player) about his opponent (the AI or another human player). However, once it becomes a continuous stream of micro management and order giving, the game loses its fun factor and just becomes work.

My opinion.

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CM is compressing time. Things that happen in the game usually took a lot longer in real life. This is a good thing because it makes the game more entertaining. A real soldier spends half of his life waiting - something I do not expect from a game.

So reaction times are also compressed - not perfect but good enough. IMHO no problem.

Regarding the ability to shoot anywhere: I would rather campaign for being able to shoot at more things. Especially at sound contacts which are often out of LOS in places where there should be LOS.

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But something should be done to the Russians because all accounts say they tended not to be creative and take initiative on the battlefield.

by which accounts? You mean all the German accounts, which manage to simultaneously deride the Russians as useless yet at the same time blame them for losing the war? Stuff like v.mellenthin's or guderian's books are ripping yarns, but HIGHLY suspect. Even the ETHINT reports aren't much better. They all suffer from the same basic problems:

1) written by a group who were collectively trying to restore their own reputations

3) written without access to even own-side archives, let alone enemy archives

3) written for a particular audience, who were keen to see the Soviet bogeyman brought down to size.

I'm not saying the Russians were all tactical geniuses. I am saying that "all accounts" aren't very reliable.

Oh, working from memory here, I seem to recall that v.mellenthin's book - for example - contains a significant internal contradiction. His overall assessment of the Russians was something along the lines of "brave and stubborn, but prone to fright and lacking initiative", but his accounts of actual battles are full of the Germans being surprised by the Russians seizing the initiative and doing unexpected things. It's like he were writing about two completely different opposing armies.

Jon

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I don't know about restrictions. I use area fire against any position where I think it is likely there may be enemy. That also includes plotting artillery missions against likely enemy positions, regardless of whether there is a spotted or semi-spotted icon there or not.

In real life that's what we'd do - plot fires on every location that the enemy is likely to use.

You need that fire to hopefully pin down or disrupt any enemy who might be there and would disrupt your next movement if not suppressed.

I can't see waiting to shoot until I actually id something (presuming of course that anything in front of me is known to be enemy). Or worse, until the first spot I get is my own tank going up in flames.

Dave

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@poesel

CM is compressing time. Things that happen in the game usually took a lot longer in real life. This is a good thing because it makes the game more entertaining.

With this argument also artillery delays could be criticised as fun killer.

I think the more realistic the game becomes, the better it gets - as long as realism is not burdening the player with micromanagement.

Did anyone read my latest suggestion at all?

There is no restriction of firing, in fact recon by fire would be improved while the gamey use of HEs would be prevented.

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Endymion did and responded to it on the previous page.

You mean this?

If I understand correctly is that you suggest that no area fire is possible unless something was spotted in the vicinity of the target square you wish to shoot at, even if that contact is old?

I ignored this post, since he obviously had not read or understood the latest suggestion, but since you also haven't got it, maybe I should clarify it better.

I wrote:

In this pic I chose 6 action spots for firing HE where no contact/intel is available (but maybe 4 AS would already be enough?).

The better contact in the pic reduces the area fire width to two AS, the weaker tank contact reduces it to three and the building can be aimed directly like it is now.

This means:

No contact = wider area fire.

The better the contact, the narrower area fire gets.

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