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Kaunitz

"That's one vast valley!" - hard-edged, realistically scaled map

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2 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

There is no shortage of non-meeting engagement QB maps. ;)

And meeting engagement QB maps can be very interesting, if done well. Asymmetric starting points and objective location and values can create some delightful dynamics when given sufficient thought. One of the things I really enjoy when playing QB’s (99% of my play is QB against a human) is to contextualize the battle. To discuss with my opponent what we’re trying to simulate, whether it be past of a historical battle, or a theme of light forces skirmishing, or why some objectives may matter in the context of what is happening in the wider war that would be off-map, so that they are not just green blobs on the map. 

Yep, this “contextualise” is what I miss, too.

No really, that touches what I mean. For a good QB, one almost has to develop it into a properly designed scenario.

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5 minutes ago, StieliAlpha said:

Yep, this “contextualise” is what I miss, too.

No really, that touches what I mean. For a good QB, one almost has to develop it into a properly designed scenario.

Which can be done by discussion rather than design, which is not a bad thing as then the possibilities are limitless - what you and I may want to do will be different than what I and Bil may do or Bil and IanL. On the same map. The key is to give it meaning for that one engagement. You don’t need an editor, just an imagination. 

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On ‎11‎/‎8‎/‎2018 at 10:18 AM, Kaunitz said:

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. :D 

And herein lies the problem I think. Well actually it isn't a problem at all - it is all about the design decision. From my perspective I love making maps and getting them to that 'good enough for government work' standard. As an example relating to the map I posted screenshots of ….

I had a scenario concept for it and looking at the ground I thought 'wow - this is a realistic open map suitable for a guard mission'.

I made the map - and in terms of its representation of the real thing, I love it.

It might be a realistic and open map - but in reality the LOS is not what I thought it would be - I am now in the process of jiggering around with other scenario factors to make it work.

The takeaway here is that from my perspective - I would rather tinker with aspects other than the map to make the scenario work. Generally this is achievable and at the stage I am in testing I think I have a solution but it certainly doesn't involve bumping a contour here or there or changing a low wall to a high wall to block LOS etc.

Don't stress overly about micro terrains - the work that you've posted shows that you have more than mastered the mechanics of putting a map together so I would now spend more time thinking about the other bits of the editor to allow you to achieve the results you are looking for.

You are talented - keep at it mate. 

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18 hours ago, StieliAlpha said:

Hm, one could ask, how “realistic” QB’s are, anyway. I find usually they are not too realistic. More “chess like”. Problem is for me: Normally they are  meeting engagements with a rush to the VP areas, with pretty “accidental” force compositions. I know, one could try and set up attack-defense battles, but that would create similar issues with a different aspect. So, my conclusion: The Maps are not necessarily realistic, but often good for the “strategic games”, which QB’s are.

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. 

18 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

Real terrain is... well... real. It’s like saying Damned Normandy, too many hedgerows! Or that a flat map with nothing but wheat in it is “too realistic.” It’s far more likely that the choice of terrain and location was not going to make an interesting playing field, rather than it’s overly realistic. 

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. :D 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. 

 

Edited by Kaunitz

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14 minutes ago, Kaunitz said:

"...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."

+1 and a lot more.

Could not have said it better myself.  The best scenarios/missions do this.  I keep referencing MOS's superb Tactical Ops Center (TOC) scenario as an outstanding example of this design philosophy. 

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I think the word you’re looking for is compartmentalization. ;) I’m very curious what your map’s final appearance will have. While I agree with the notion, and it can be achieved in a wholly imaginary place, if one were to re-create a natural location, the compartments are whatever the withdrawal of the glaciers have left us with, and the players themselves will mentally compartmentalize the map as suits them. What becomes interesting is the interplay between what I may choose as my compartments as, say, attacker, and what the defender may choose. When it’s not deliberately a part of design, such as you are attempting, but adaptation to circumstance, the two players may see the map very differently, and often do, which is a key part of planning and often a sizeable determinant in who succeeds and who fails. 

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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.

Edited by Kaunitz

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20 hours ago, StieliAlpha said:

Problem is for me: Normally they are  meeting engagements with a rush to the VP areas, with pretty “accidental” force compositions.

I know, one could try and set up attack-defense battles, but that would create similar issues with a different aspect.

One issue is that the attacker will always have optimal forces for attacking, and the defender will always have optimal forces for defending.

I wish the automatic force selection could be relied on to provide a reasonable force but a bit unpredictable and also with a few curve-balls... And that the game could lock both players to go with the automatic selection.

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1 hour ago, Kaunitz said:

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.

How lucky for the Germans that they had an author in their ranks to win the battle :)

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11 minutes ago, Bulletpoint said:

How lucky for the Germans that they had an author in their ranks to win the battle :)

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. ;)

Edited by Kaunitz

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2 hours ago, Kaunitz said:

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. ;)

It was tongue in cheek :)  I haven't read the book. Thought the story was interesting.

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19 hours ago, Bulletpoint said:

How lucky for the Germans that they had an author in their ranks to win the battle :)

Quite off topic, but these days are exactly the right time to commemorate Erich Maria Remarque.

Another German writer in the ranks, though he wrote more about lost battles and souls.

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3 hours ago, StieliAlpha said:

Quite off topic, but these days are exactly the right time to commemorate Erich Maria Remarque.

Another German writer in the ranks, though he wrote more about lost battles and souls.

Speaking of loosing Battles...It's time for you to return the next Game File...Hey Fritz :-)

Edited by JoMc67

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A couple of you asked about the map I mentioned making. I didn't ignore or forget those comments, I was swamped with some unpleasant stuff and was only able to reply to posts while at work, where I don't have CM. 😝

On 11/8/2018 at 8:40 AM, Bulletpoint said:

Out of curiosity, what kinds of issues did you run into with the Ardennes map? AI pathfinding? Balance?

Did you scrap the map or just change it to make it playable, and if so, where can I download it?

On 11/8/2018 at 11:16 AM, Kaunitz said:

+1 :) And I'd also be interested to take a look at the Ardennes map if it can be found somewhere. 

I never uploaded the map anywhere. I don't have a login for uploading sites; I never thought anyone would care about my maps. Here are a couple of screenshots - they don't do it justice, the topography is tricky, with gentle and steep rises and folds in the land, vegetation variation, impassable terrain, and towering over the village, a mountain, hence the map's name, "Black Mountain"

Screen%20Shot%202018-11-11%20at%207.36.3

Screen%20Shot%202018-11-11%20at%207.33.4

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11 minutes ago, JoMc67 said:

Speaking of loosing Battles...It's time for you to return the next Game File...Hey Fritz 🙂

Don’t be impatient, my friend. Your guys will soon enough see, what they are up to.

I sent the last on Thursday. And the next file is planned for tomorrow.

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All is Good...We have plenty of spare COLD Houses for the captives at Games End :-)

Oh, Sorry, was this Thread about something else...Well, I gots to be going now.

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On ‎11‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 11:56 AM, umlaut said:

One comment regarding field sizes, though: I dont think you should judge the sizes of fields too much on your personal experiences. In my country field sizes have increased a lot since the war, due to the dramatic centralization and mechanization of agriculture: Fewer, but much larger farms - with tractors and combine harvesters instead of horses. I guess that would be the case in most countries.

This is a very important distinction.

 

On ‎11‎/‎1‎/‎2018 at 5:22 PM, JulianJ said:

I was actually today going to propose that some of us here modify the QB maps and make them better, call them Mk2 versions, that would be quicker than starting from scratch and if a few of us did one each it would not become too  tiresome. I am grateful to @Kaunitz for raising this topic because it was on my mind too.

Not being a talented map maker by any definition, I would like to propose and alternate solution:

A community built Master Map, containing examples of terrain you'd like to see, which can be carved up to make many different QB maps.

If the making of the maps is the largest roadblock to making scenarios and such, why not pool resources to make one large map?

 

On ‎11‎/‎10‎/‎2018 at 7:12 AM, Kaunitz said:

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.

Where the heck is that scenario? I want to play it. :) 

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General Jack, if I may speak Sir!  🤣  Unfortunately it is not possible to cut-and-paste parts of maps to reuse them AFAIK.  I'd love to be able to do that, which would speed up map making.  It doesn't seem possible, unlike say, photoshop, where you can select an area of a picture and copy-and-paste into another - I'd love to do that in the sceanrio editor.

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An interesting bit to throw into the mix - as I was reading Chinese sci-fi novel The Three-Body Problem in relation to a reference to game design that features in the book   - that some games try to attain realism by jam packing in detail though realism can also be (better?) served by a an essential/vital pinch of chaos thrown into the mix - that struck a chord with CM when it can at times be hard to discern if things in the simulation are a bug or a feature!   

Even in the text book assualt of Brécourt Manor there were 4 dead 2 wounded on the winning side - even in real life things aren't exactly perfect.

 

Edited by Wicky

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10 hours ago, Bud Backer said:

A couple of you asked about the map I mentioned making. I didn't ignore or forget those comments, I was swamped with some unpleasant stuff and was only able to reply to posts while at work, where I don't have CM. 😝

I never uploaded the map anywhere. I don't have a login for uploading sites; I never thought anyone would care about my maps. Here are a couple of screenshots - they don't do it justice, the topography is tricky, with gentle and steep rises and folds in the land, vegetation variation, impassable terrain, and towering over the village, a mountain, hence the map's name, "Black Mountain"

Screen%20Shot%202018-11-11%20at%207.36.3

Screen%20Shot%202018-11-11%20at%207.33.4

It is a decent piece of map making. But I think that your "Black Mountain" looks more like a slagheap from the Borinage, than a natural feature in the Ardennes.

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Community maps are possible, you can't copy paste but you can reduce the size of a map to what you want to use. It's basically how master maps are right now. Maps that large are incredibly hard to make detailed however, mostly because as you build more and more elevation data into the map the editing process grinds to a halt as the game re-calculates every. single. point.

2 hours ago, Warts 'n' all said:

It is a decent piece of map making. But I think that your "Black Mountain" looks more like a slagheap from the Borinage, than a natural feature in the Ardennes.

Well it kind of resembles the cliffs in Dinant... which is kind of in the Ardennes! Would probably make an interesting "what-if" scenario...

1280px-Dinant-2004.jpg

Edited by SeinfeldRules

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The fortress atop the mountain above Dinant has a very interesting underground museum. Or used to anyway. 😛

When I took the screenshots I realized they would not do certain things justice, the mountain in particular, but I didn’t want to flood someone else’s thread with my maps. :)

 

 

 

Edited by Bud Backer

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Some very interesting concepts and ideas being discussed. 

However, fields and their sizes are very different today, than they were in WWII.

Many of the agricultural fields (cultivated, tilled, plowed, orchards, etc.) were MUCH smaller. European inheritance laws, property rights, and industrialization (or lack thereof) all pushed fields into being much smaller than what we see today.

Modern fields are huge by 1940s European standards. And, they are far smoother (low spots filled in, high spots redistributed) and better (more uniformly) grown upon. Modern farming uses GPS guidance for the equipment and datalinks harvest amounts, in a 1m x 1m grid, to the application of fertilizers and pesticides. They compare this data year over year to get the maximum harvest from every square foot.

Additionally, farmers (in the US, anyway) would traditionally leave a large border of "wild" land between fields. This provided a windbreak and allowed for wildlife to flourish. (Birds, small mammals, deer, etc.) However, with the move towards better utilization, that 100' border which stretches for 1/2 mile represents money lost. More and more of that border has been plowed under and cultivated. This is why we have huge monoculture farms. If you're not efficient, you're out of business.

1940s Europe did not have these pressures.

FWIW.

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