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BFC - Time to Rethink the 'Roadmap'?

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Dont get me wrong - I loved BFCs originally stated roadmap for all the CMx2 games.

However as time goes on its becoming more apparent that perhaps the games arent coming out as quickly as BFC thought and often mention of CMx3is made, the x2 engine is starting to show its age.

Which is unfortunate because I was MOST excited about whats really received the least love by far IMO - CMRT and the Ost Front.

Perhaps same roadmap plan with the newer games with a new engine bigger so theyre not modules but releases? Otherwise we.ll be using upgraded CMx2 even in 5 years JUST to finish all the modules IMO let alone start covering the rest of the Ost Front.

I really love CMx2 and really want some modules still to come out for it - but its going to be obsolete eventually.

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44 minutes ago, Sublime said:

However as time goes on its becoming more apparent that perhaps the games arent coming out as quickly as BFC thought and often mention of CMx3is made, the x2 engine is starting to show its age.

Yeah, it's a problem. I wonder if BFC will come up with a way to transfer older game into CMx3 seamlessly without undue labor and to continue on the roadmap. Probably not possible...

Michael

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43 minutes ago, The_MonkeyKing said:

They really just had one problem. CMSF2 and that is starting to get sorted out.

How do you figure? SF2 not being planned isnt even the true issue, its the engine. Lets not even count early games lets give BFC  5 yr head start and only count from 2011 with BN. Its almost an 8 yr old engine with THAT math and they still have stated theres modules for FI, FB, RT, BS, and now SF2.  I love their work and years and years ago I did think maybe the process would streamline and theyd punch out several modules out a year. Again Im not downing their ability to do work but it seems hindsigjht 20 20 and all that just the modules would take IMO another 4 or 5 years.

At what point will they put their efforts into a new engine that takes the best og x2 and really about 13 yrs of actual experience (because the engine really has been around since 06, I just named BN as probably the first really mature release of the x2 engine.) And add to it. Corners, rooms, basements, a lot of the stuff we.ve come to brick walls over.

Frankly I think, again IMO, that a decision needs to be made. Either start making an x3 engime and then do all future releases, or stick with x2 and minor, occasional moderate changes to the engine while the roadmap is finished.  ( and I could easily see that taking a decade, theres a seeming mission creep going on with the roadmap with massive unplanned diversions i.e. SF2)

I say minor to moderate changes to the engine as its been refined and tweaked for a lonnnng time now and Id venture to bet most of the biggest changes that could have been made have been thought of and or adressed, never mind statements the ladt few years about reaching the engines practical limits anyway.

Dont get me wrong I love the idea of SF2, though honestly Id rather have seen the WW2 titles and BS finished before any work had been done on it.  Still,  I feel the game series future is at a crossroads and one that needs to be adressed - Id love to hear everyones thoughts.

Edited by Sublime

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I totally agree with the OP's messages.  While CMx2 is a technological marvel and BFC has done an incredible job, it is definitely time to progress and move on.  CMx3 is well overdue and I certainly hope BFC is in an advanced phase of development behind the scenes on CMx3.

The flaws/limitations of CMx2 are readily apparent to me, and I would think anyone, that has been playing the games for an extended period of time.

-spotting, whether a tank spotting hidden infantry instantaneously, or troops not spotting a tank an action spot away, etc....

-pathfinding issues, TacAI troops and vehicles doing ridiculous things

-the lack of mouseover pop-ups and basic information for the player in a large section of the GUI

-ongoing weird or ugly graphical issues, shadows, water, fog, foxholes, trenches, etc.....

While playing CMx2 scenarios, I have multiple WTF moments every game now, where it just blows immersion and creates frustration.

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Well also the fact that a decision really has to be made - as much as Id like to see every title finished with 3 modules etc like say BN, I realistically think finishing all the games out now and now only would take 5, probably more years and by then the game engine will almost be 2 decades (!) old.

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2 hours ago, Michael Emrys said:

I wonder if BFC will come up with a way to transfer older game into CMx3 seamlessly without undue labor and to continue on the roadmap. Probably not possible...     

This is an important and interesting question.  If it is "transferable" BFC would probably stick, more or less, with the announced road map.    If it is not "transferable" the follow up question would be, "What would the first game of CM3 feature?" 

Also of interest, Steve from BFC said they would not use open GL in CM3.  I'm not a computer guru but does changing from Open GL to something else (Direct X?) make a "transferable" situation less workable? 

Below is a link to what Steve said: 

  

 

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On 10/28/2018 at 4:16 PM, MOS:96B2P said:

Also of interest, Steve from BFC said they would not use open GL in CM3.  I'm not a computer guru but does changing from Open GL to something else (Direct X?) make a "transferable" situation less workable? 

I think this would only affect one modular component of the engine code. You've still got all the calculation tables (movement and ballistics) and under the hood coding for all other aspects of the game that could be transposed into a new game engine - theoretically.

I wouldn't say though this is where the bulk of the work is anyhow, it's designing and creating a new game environment and developing a tool kit to build the environment. Then you've got to amend all the game interactions to tie into the changes made to the new game environment.

The most complex coding changes I would think would be developing new collision data - assuming CM3 would be a fully destructible environment, not merely decals. That means changes to model data, and overhaul of all the animations (I question of BFC have anyone that even touches the animations because they really are dated), well the list goes on.... 

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11 minutes ago, The Steppenwulf said:

I think this would only affect one modular component of the engine code. You've still got all the calculation tables (movement and ballistics) and under the hood coding for all other aspects of the game that could be transposed into a new game engine - theoretically.

Cool!!  This sounds encouraging for a possible "Transferable" situation.   

But then there was the below information ............................ "Sigh"  

11 minutes ago, The Steppenwulf said:

Then you've got to amend all the game interactions to tie into the changes made to the new game environment.  The most complex coding changes I would think would be developing new collision data - assuming CM3 would be a fully destructible environment, not merely decals. That means changes to model data, and overhaul of all the animations 

Thanks for the response.  +1

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22 minutes ago, MOS:96B2P said:

But then there was the below information ............................ "Sigh"  

39 minutes ago, The Steppenwulf said:

Then you've got to amend all the game interactions to tie into the changes made to the new game environment.  The most complex coding changes I would think would be developing new collision data - assuming CM3 would be a fully destructible environment, not merely decals. That means changes to model data, and overhaul of all the animations 

That's assuming they'd want to change everything in one go and reinvent the game from scratch. I think they could also decide to:

  • Focus on moving the existing game to a new core graphics engine. Gameplay would be exactly the same, everything copies over, but glitches (and crashes?) are gone and performance improves.
     
  • Next game, they then rework the part of the engine dealing with the map - for example they go from 8x8m squares to 4x4m. Several things would need to be updated to fit - pathfinding, spotting, targeting, the way buildings place on the map, etc,. - but the rest of the game content carries over.
     
  • Next game, they could focus on reworking buildings and fortifications. Bunkers to work more as buildings, and buildings to get more varied shapes, internal rooms, and a more detailed damage model. Maybe the walls would be 1x1m panels that could individually be destroyed in various stages. Again, this is a good deal of work, but the rest of the game carries over.
     
  • Next game, they could then update game models, animations, and the damage model of tanks. More detailed modelling and visual representation of damage. No more intact tanks sitting in a big hole to show they blew up.

(Disclaimer: this approach is just off the top of my head, I'm no programmer or game developer, I'm not telling anyone what to do, and you may disregard this post if you don't like it, etc. etc.)

Edited by Bulletpoint

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Do not assume you know what BFC's 'roadmap' is.  I'm not saying that they're transitioning to iphone animated unicorn games for Japanese teenage girls, but that would be where all the money is. ^_^

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57 minutes ago, MikeyD said:

Do not assume you know what BFC's 'roadmap' is.  ^_^

I don't think any of the posters on this thread are assuming.  We are (well, we were) having a discussion about the Battlefront road map.  Steve from Battlefront has talked about future plans.  See the link at the bottom of this post for what Steve said.  A portion from that post is pasted below.   You have implied what Steve posted (admittedly one year ago) has changed.  That would be a bone.  Since you brought it up, can you tell us more details about how the road map has changed over the last year?  A road map bone might help to get the thread back on topic.  Thanks in advance!!!          

  • Rome to Victory - this project got sidetracked due to a bunch of issues, but it's getting a lot of attention these days.  When completed, CMFI will have a big list of new forces and the timeframe extended to the end of the war.  It will likely be our next release
  • Untitled Eastern Front Module - active work has been going on since the Spring and it's shaping up quite nicely.  This will take CMRT up to the end of the war, including some huge Berlin maps. Existing TO&E expanded to April 45, Germans get access to a range of non-Heer forces, new weather stuff, and a couple new Regions.  Waffen SS and rag-tag forces will be available for the Red Thunder Module.
  • New Zealand Defense Forces training aid - pretty much that's all there is to say about it.
  • CMBS is owed a Module.  CMBS is theoretically next after CMRT.  Marines are an obvious selection for the first Module and the work being done for CMSF2 is going to pave the way for that to happen.

                       

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Yes no one was assuming man, the word 'roadmap' isnt even the term Id have used, rather a term taken directly from Steves posts (above and years ago as well) about the future plans for the series.

No one, nor I, has claimed insider knowledge, but we.re all customers and ought to be able to express opinions or ideas where this is all headed.  I thought the time was overripe to discuss this (apparently someone else I dont know who opened an almost identical thread the same time as me) especially as now I feel Ive gotten more of a feel on how long its taking to release new modules and games -  and IMO it.d be sheer folly to still be making CMx2 modules in 2029 (and I desperately wanted the Ost Front finished)

Thats all..

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On 10/28/2018 at 9:12 AM, Sublime said:

Which is unfortunate because I was MOST excited about whats really received the least love by far IMO - CMRT and the Ost Front.

Perhaps same roadmap plan with the newer games with a new engine bigger so theyre not modules but releases? Otherwise we.ll be using upgraded CMx2 even in 5 years JUST to finish all the modules IMO let alone start covering the rest of the Ost Front.

I really love CMx2 and really want some modules still to come out for it - but its going to be obsolete eventually.

Games only become obsolete if people stop playing them. People still play OG CM -- it's got a distinctly different set of features. The idea behind modules is that they are easier to make than a full release. So, more content for less time?

All this being said some of the more involved maps on CMx2 have stuttering that makes the game nearly unplayable. Sad for a comp that can handle games like Arma 3 and Monster Hunter World on Very High. If they only managed to optimize it somehow... I have no issue with it graphically (non-CM players are usually impressed by the amount of details on the models).

Ostfront, though? That's a tough one. I am a fan, and find early Ostfront fascinating. BFC is an American company, every game aside from CM:RT and CM:A has the US Army at launch. Vast majority of their audience are Americans, so you can't blame them. This being said, BFC does a great job including other nations -- Canada got featured in 3 games (most games just treat it as sub-faction).

It's an industry thing. I think Battlefront 1 had American soldiers on launch, but not the French. Fancy that? Doing early war (prior to the entry of the USA) or any fronts that don't include the USA isn't gonna sell well. Now, if you're Graviteam or 777 Studios and majority of your audience are easterners -- then the inverse applies (most games are about early war and/or Ostfront).

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47 minutes ago, DerKommissar said:

This being said, BFC does a great job including other nations -- Canada got featured in 3 games (most games just treat it as sub-faction).

Canadians are only included because the models and voices could be copy/pasted from the British and US versions :)

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  • Rome to Victory - this project got sidetracked due to a bunch of issues, but it's getting a lot of attention these days.  When completed, CMFI will have a big list of new forces and the timeframe extended to the end of the war.  It will likely be our next release
  • Untitled Eastern Front Module - active work has been going on since the Spring and it's shaping up quite nicely.  This will take CMRT up to the end of the war, including some huge Berlin maps. Existing TO&E expanded to April 45, Germans get access to a range of non-Heer forces, new weather stuff, and a couple new Regions.  Waffen SS and rag-tag forces will be available for the Red Thunder Module.
  • New Zealand Defense Forces training aid - pretty much that's all there is to say about it.
  • CMBS is owed a Module.  CMBS is theoretically next after CMRT.  Marines are an obvious selection for the first Module and the work being done for CMSF2 is going to pave the way for that to happen.

 

Personally I think we will be lucky to see these play out and maybe a mod for CMFB before its time to do some sort of new engine efforts.

If one thing has been consistent over the years, its been how much BF think they can do in a given time frame that never really happens.

So with work already well under way on the next two, no questions there that they are to be completed. Problem was, CMSFII, it has thrown all of these way behind schedule, a year plus at least.

Rome to victory was planned to be out a year ago, but then they had the personnel problems and too many projects to work on at the time, they had to shelf something, Rome was it, so once they ever do get back to it, it should be pretty quick to finish in comparison to what has been going on lately.

So that leaves CMRT, CMBS and CMFB all never having a mod yet, CMRT work in progress. CMBS-marines - parts to be used from cmsfII. and CMFB will get some help from the work on CMRT and CMFI.

So pretty sure these will all stay in the same engine and no major changes.

Now once they ever make it to that, I am pretty sure they will see the need to make a change, likely due to sells by that point.

But lets see how far out even these games will likely be before we see them.

CMSFII partial release  (in a month)

CMSF II completely out and Game engine 4.0 update for all games (6 months)

CMFI Rome to victory (6 months)

MOD for CMBS (12 months)

Mod for CMFB (12 Months)

 

So my guess is that is where the present engine will end. It will be the end of the year 2021. All present games will have at least one mod, they will all go to the end of the war for the WWII titles and CMBS will never see those other Nato forces.

it would be a good time to break into a new engine on a new topic by that point or a old tried and true topic.

 

 

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6 hours ago, DerKommissar said:

Games only become obsolete if people stop playing them. People still play OG CM -- it's got a distinctly different set of features. The idea behind modules is that they are easier to make than a full release. So, more content for less time?

All this being said some of the more involved maps on CMx2 have stuttering that makes the game nearly unplayable. Sad for a comp that can handle games like Arma 3 and Monster Hunter World on Very High. If they only managed to optimize it somehow... I have no issue with it graphically (non-CM players are usually impressed by the amount of details on the models).

Ostfront, though? That's a tough one. I am a fan, and find early Ostfront fascinating. BFC is an American company, every game aside from CM:RT and CM:A has the US Army at launch. Vast majority of their audience are Americans, so you can't blame them. This being said, BFC does a great job including other nations -- Canada got featured in 3 games (most games just treat it as sub-faction).

It's an industry thing. I think Battlefront 1 had American soldiers on launch, but not the French. Fancy that? Doing early war (prior to the entry of the USA) or any fronts that don't include the USA isn't gonna sell well. Now, if you're Graviteam or 777 Studios and majority of your audience are easterners -- then the inverse applies (most games are about early war and/or Ostfront).

True but if you.ve been around awhile or read old posts you.ll note Steve and most of BFC have an Ost Front fetish like any true wargamer ;)

Also IIRC CMBB sold best od all the CMx1s - but more than that I didnt pull the "finish the ost front" thing outta my @ss as something Id like, BFC originally had stated plans for RT-modulea to end of war. Then a release for each year going backwards with subsequent modules. Supposedly then after the RT modules we would have gotten say a CM Kursk, and modules then would take it both ways like Mansteins backhand blow earlier in 43 and then the Russian general counteroffensive fall of 43. Or something like that - its all made up ideas of mine on how modules for a 43 title would have worked but..

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What people should realise is that it is a two man team who are not getting any younger....

Unless there is a succession plan there might be no new engine? 

I will just be happy to get the update to fix the issues noted....

 

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I for one would rather stick to the current engine. It is very solid! Why change a winning horse? Why throw so much that has been achieved over board (even if some aspects can be carried over, it would definitively mean a big cut?). And there are still patches coming out. Sure aesthetics could be nicer measured by today's standards, but they're okay for me.  What matters more is gameplay. With a few tweaks here and there (fortifications? :) ), I think I will stay a happy subscriber of the current engine for a long time to come.  

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1 hour ago, Sublime said:

but more than that I didnt pull the "finish the ost front" thing outta my @ss as something Id like, BFC originally had stated plans for RT-modulea to end of war. Then a release for each year going backwards with subsequent modules. 

I'm not able to search BFC posts earlier than January 2014.  Not sure whats up with that.  I'm probably doing something wrong.  Where's @John Kettler when you need him.  John can find anything on the internet.  

I know In May 2013 Steve from Battlefront posted the below information which I am paraphrasing:

 

The Base Game establishes the start time and the theater. For Red Thunder we're going to start June 1944 and go through to May 1945.

The Eastern Front Families are basically divided up this way:

#1 = June 1944 - May 1945 Red Thunder

#2 = June 1943 - May 1944

#3 = June 1942 - May 1943

#4 = June 1941 - May 1942

 

The closest I can get to Steve's original post is a post of mine from December 2014:

 

 

Edited by MOS:96B2P

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For what it's worth I'd rather they decided to stick with the CM2 engine if it meant they can focus on content that pushes the games back into mid and early war. Every few months I read something and go "ooh that would be fun in Combat Mission" and then realise it's from 1941. Early and mid war is far more appealing than 'starting again' especially if it means we're heading back to Normandy.

If the shift to CM3 was designed around porting over existing games' content from already released titles that would probably be a big help but it's probably a pipe dream. Especially considering what's been going on with CMSF2 and that's the same engine. :P

Edited by Ithikial_AU

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I 100% agree - I do not think we can have it both ways. Either new engine or pursuing the modules scheme.

That said maybe if they made a new engine but didnt go back to Normandy etc

 

As far as realizing its a 2 man team.. Its more than that now but as someone whose been following the series and company -on this site even- since before anyone even had a copy of the finished 1st CMx1 title I.d say Im well aware of many of the issues BFC faces ;)

Finally yes I too love the CMx2 engine. And its more or less fine.. NOW. But how many conversations have we had where whole battles couldnt really be done because of inherent problems or flaws with the engine. Heres looking at the futility of a real city battle simulation for example. I think the engines flaws will start to seem kind of glaring in say another 5 or 7 years. Remember BN only came out 7 years and 5 mnths ago.  Imagine if you fast forward to double that. Theres only so much these patches and stuff can do, and I think we.re about to hit a wall on gameplay mechanics.  Also like Kaunitz mentioned fortifications - Kaunitz IDK how long you.ve been around, did you play the original SF?  Because fortifications are actually very relevant to this if you look at the trench issue. In SF trenches were actual depressioms in the map, like.. A real trench would be. They looked kinda huge because the 8x8 but whatever. The problem was... The enemy could see the trenches immediately - they were part of the map and there was no way to fog of war it.  Eventually they got foxholes and trenches of a different sort in to BN and ditched the old system.  Of course then we had nigh on endless problems with the troops staying in the holes, or finding reason enough to purchase these fortifications in a QB that justifies the points.

Just my 2 cents

Edited by Sublime

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I think it'd be good if CMx3 gets released like DCS:

So, anyone can DL the Demo and install the main client. The Title Releases and Modules all acting as add-ons for this main client. The main client would contain all the common code for the games. Every time a new Title is released, you get a new demo -- and if you buy it you get all the campaigns, factions and other content in the main client. Updates would be for the client as a whole, so BFC doesn't have to worry about the peculiarities of each Title's engine.

Can't take credit for this idea, but I would very much like to have all my CM games in one place. Maybe the ability to pit CMSF NATO forces against CMBS Russians in quick battle and editor.

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