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Johnlondon125

Is there anything that comes close to the CM games?

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22 minutes ago, RockinHarry said:
24 minutes ago, RockinHarry said:

Anyway, there´s always ppl around who know it all better

Know more than you about specific things is the better way to phrase it.  Instead of just admitting you really don't know much about the POA2 situation, you just decided to stick you fingers in your wears and yell.  Also see you  aren't actually done talking about it.  Again, All I ask is you show the same consideration for BFC and its record of releasing very stable and good games as you do for HPS and its proven record of releasing very buggy and unfinished games.  So show me all the rants you had against HPS.  It would have to be by phone recording or email.  Both of which I'd be more than happy to listen to.

 

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On 8/2/2019 at 9:20 PM, 76mm said:

I see...so his game, his vision, and his way of doing things is to release very expensive games that don't work, not to fix them, and to never engage with the suckers that bought the game?

Gee, that's an interesting approach for a game dev, but probably not sustainable, since at least from my "limited consumer view" it is not too far from fraud and completely inexcusable.  The very least he could have done is to come on to one of the forums to say something like "Guys, really sorry, bit off more than I could chew, working on the problems but it could take ten years or more to do so..." (or whatever his excuse was).  Would that really have been so difficult?

 

As said, I´ve no idea (ok, just a little guessworks) why Mr. Hamilton (or BFC) do or leave be certain things when it comes to "informing" the community. At last I got to live with it or quit, or maybe start an own game development and see if I can do better. Unfortunately I´ve neither time nor amibitions for the latter. Not lacking required passion though. Beside  that I´m happy with any dedicated wargame developer who keeps with his personal vision uncompromising enough to not appeal the mass markets regardlessly. Any yes, even if takes a decade or more. I really hope that Mr. Hamilton gets his vision of things translated into a working game the same as I hope for BFC taking CM to the next levels. Yeah... seems not comparable (HPS vs BFC), but that´s and remains the core of my point.

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1 hour ago, RockinHarry said:

...I´m happy with any dedicated wargame developer who keeps with his personal vision uncompromising enough to not appeal the mass markets regardlessly. Any yes, even if takes a decade or more. I really hope that Mr. Hamilton gets his vision of things translated into a working game the same as I hope for BFC taking CM to the next levels. Yeah... seems not comparable (HPS vs BFC), but that´s and remains the core of my point.

I don't really disagree agree with you there, but while he's working on the game, the dev should not sell it as a finished product.  If he does so, and then absolutely refuses to engage with/respond to his disappointed paying customers for ten years, of course he is going to generate some hostility.

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On 7/30/2019 at 12:27 PM, Johnlondon125 said:

... Or should I just shut up and buy?

Yes!  Pick your favorite time frame and buy at least one to check out all the features

On 7/30/2019 at 4:42 PM, Thewood1 said:

Anyone who thinks it doesn't rival CM modern has not been keeping up in the last four years.  Is it a full on wargame like traditional wargamers want?  Probably not.  You can easily lose control of the battle from nnot paying attention to detail and rage quit.  But if your not just wanting to play miniatures in digital form, and experience chaos and frustration of managing a modern battle, I would choose SB over CM any day.  It still has weaknesses around infantry and foxholes, but CM has its own issues that can be pointed out.

 For modern RTS, nothing tops SB, IMNSHO.  That said, it's a totally different system.  I do not play CM in RT just for all the reasons Mord and others have mentioned.  I have only in the last few months really started to pick up SB and learn the game.  I'm still not fully capable with everything that SB allows.  I have only CMBS to blame for even getting me into that game.  I never had any desire to play any other time period than WW II before I picked up CMBS.  Now, it's been several years since I've played anything but CMBS and SB.  When I feel like an infantry fight with some armor, I play CMBS.  When I want to mess with armor and blow ****e up, it's SB.

On 7/30/2019 at 5:08 PM, sburke said:

Yep. As with any game CM has it’s limitations. Noting that for the OP is important for their decision making process.  SB sounds like it would scratch an itch for me.  Graviteam tactics not so much. Would SB replace CM for me? No, nor should it.  Different itch, different solution. 

On 7/30/2019 at 5:15 PM, IICptMillerII said:

 

Exactly. Both CM and SB are great at what they do. Its important to recognize that they set out to do fundamentally different things.

 

SB will never replace CM as sburke says even though I find myself playing it more these days.  I've owned all of the CM series since the night of the refreshing monkeys.  I've has SB for a couple of years, but put it down for a good while due to the learning curve.  Now that I've made the decision to learn the simulation, I've been playing with it almost exclusively for several months.

I own many hundreds of dollars worth of computer wargames.  Exactly 4 games rest on my hard drive (if you count the entire series of CM and Campaign Series as one game).  Two are 3D & two are top-down; Two are RT (3 if you count CM as RT, I don't); two are igo-ugo They are:

  1. Combat Mission (I still have CMBB on my HD) 

       2. Steel Beast Pro PE

       3. Campaign Series (JT's and ME, not too interested in the new Viet Nam game, but I may still purchase it)

       4. Flashpoint Campaigns Red Storm

I also own many of Tiller's PC and Modern titles...  they just haven't made it onto my newest computer yet and I only have so much time.  The four above can fill that up easily.  Each game tickles a different fancy.

BUT, to the OP, I do not believe you can go wrong with any of the CM games.  I've been enjoying them for over twenty years.

 

Rake Out...

 

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39 minutes ago, Rake said:

Combat Mission (I still have CMBB on my HD) 

I just rebought CMBB for the third time.  I had the original CD, I bought it a couple years later at a store on sale for $10, and bought it on Gog for $5.  I am still amazed at the shear breadth of the timescale still.  It actually plays better on modern systems than CM2 does.

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On 8/1/2019 at 10:45 PM, RockinHarry said:

... switched to Grigsby´s Steel Panthers...

I forgot...  that's another that stays on my computer.  It is rarely played; not because it isn't an excellent game, but because I can't read the UI and I detest changing resolution each time I boot it up and MS's magnifier is a PITA.

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I use Steel Panthers more as a reference than anything.  Haven't actually played in years.  Frankly, I struggle with the abstractions and artificial feel of turn-based tactical games.  

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It's probably time to move this to the more generic General forum.

The wargame community is a great community and discussing other games only helps the community overall. It probably comes as no surprise that we think that we are the cream of the crop. The Gold Standard. And all games of our genre only help each other. 

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On 8/4/2019 at 10:33 AM, BletchleyGeek said:

Thanks @DMS. It is true that armored tactics weren't that sophisticated sometimes, especially for badly led and trained formations. But not all the fighting was like slapping someone with a leg of ham in the face :) 

Well, in 1941 Germans also used to concentrate tanks. This tactics became expensive in 1943, when Red army started to widely use "pak fronts". If you read Soviet documents, you often see: "Enemy attacked with 50 tanks at direction..." Why not, if Soviet battalion had only 2 anti tank guns.

Edited by DMS

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Effective AFV employment requires to concentrate them. You need mass your AFVs but you do not need to attack the enemy frontally. The Red Army had plenty of anti tank guns, but few commanders that knew what to do with them - the experience of the Spanish Civil War notwithstanding. That's why there are documented examples of an Army commander instructing the divisional commanders where to place their batteries. 

 

What changed in 1943 is that besides having better guns, for the first time you got to see German armour channelled into defenses in depth with carefully thought out kill zones. Which was pretty much the unsolvable tactical problem the Soviet armoured forces had to deal with for a really long time. 

On more fluid situations it all boils down to good command, control, training and luck. 

Andrey, for whatever the reason, thinks that the frontal attack on broad fronts the only tactic used ever by the Red or the German Army. I still enjoy playing the AI but I have to restrain myself from setting up traps as the AI will press on frontal attacks while being attacked on the flanks. Last week I annihilated one German infantry battalion just like that. Maybe it is a problem of how tactical battles are setup, but I have rarely seen the AI pulling out a concentric attack.

Of course, it is always simpler to take Andrey's approach to problem solving: say it does not exist and then eventually fix it a few years down the road...

Edited by BletchleyGeek

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2 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

The Red Army had plenty of anti tank guns, but few commanders that knew what to do with them - the experience of the Spanish Civil War notwithstanding. That's why there are documented examples of an Army commander instructing the divisional commanders where to place their batteries. 

Rifle division (04/600, 1941) had only 18 45mm AT guns. Yes, high command could reinforce rifle division with AT regiments, but they had to be placed on important directions, not everywhere. Large open spaces of Russia were favorable for large panzer formations, they always had a route from flank.

But tactically, when they chose direction, why couldn't they use mass of tanks, in line or "Breitkeil"? Frontal attack against few at guns (may be suppressed by artillery or Stukas with some luck)  worked well.

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We are pretty much in agreement re: first paragraph.

On the second paragraph I am more skeptical because I can see that working when surprise is achieved, or again infantry without heavy AT weapons caught in the open. Then armour pretty much has the effect of cavalry before the introduction of automatic weapons.

The 45mm gun was in principle capable of defeating the armor of most early war German tanks if not all, and AT rifles would be dangerous against sides etc. Of course, there are many cases when heavy weapons were scarce/not available, or troops weren't very inexperienced, or tactical leaders were quite incompetent. But I don't think thst combination happened "any given Sunday".

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On 7/30/2019 at 7:30 PM, Johnlondon125 said:

Wow, this can happen?? I thought this stuff was die rolls...

Yep, Mord describes it nicely.

I used to have a nice pic’ where a Wasp killed a Sherman from 70m distance. And you could see muzzle blast and impact on the same screen shoot. In the same game a lonely guy with a MP defended a street crossing for ages. Hm, probably more like minutes.

Of course, I would have dozens of similar stories. But you should rather experience your own.

For me, in such moments CM shines.

Though my nephew laughs at me, when he sees the graphics...

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Lot of interesting comments in the thread and morphing into a game review.   So if I may ...

CMx2 single player is a bit meh, but as a multiplayer WEGO game at this scale it is at the top of the pile (a pile of one maybe).  Being able to review the turn is a priceless feature.   Nothing else quite like it.

Glad to see that Flashpoint Campaign Red Storm got a mention.  Different scale and timeframe but another dose of WEGO goodness.

Being a gaming dinosaur, it is hard to break the turn-based gaming habit.   Of course, tried the Close Combat series but it just did not do it for me as a strategy and tactics game.  The first RTS that I liked was the CMANO series.  The timescale of naval/air combat was a good fit for RTS.

On a naval theme, also liked Cold Waters and Atlantic Fleet.

I wanted to like Steel Division Normandy 44 but just too much going on and a bit of a clickfest, a la Close Combat series.  

As mentioned in the thread, the biggie in the comparison stakes is Graviteam.  Played Op Star for 20 minutes – seemed so foreign, just could not get my head around it.  Gave Graviteam a second chance with Tank Warfare: Tunisia 43 (TWT43).   First time around it was just as baffling as Op Star.   

Decided to have a second punt at it and managed to figure it out.  As a WW2 SP I think it is brilliant.  The big hurdle is to put aside your CMx2 habits and concepts (not as easy as you think after hundreds if not thousands of hours).   In comparison, CMx2 is focused at a lower level of command, although you can direct squads in TWT43.   There are fewer clicks per TWT43 scenario v CMx2 because of this scale difference.  

The big downside is the learning curve is the lack of suitable documentation.   I have 100 hours on it and still haven’t figured out all the bells and whistles.   Also means I have not stumbled onto some of the criticisms other posters have mentioned.  

In many ways, Graviteam and BF have different games and that is why they can survive in the same game space.  

Edited by aus3620
spacing

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Uff, many comments come to my mind.

But let me reduce to some:

- most of us players are “game dinos”

- Single Player is quite ok. In well designed scenarios, the AI will whip your butt about 100 times. 

- Of course, multi player can be more interesting, but it is not necessarily challenging.

- learning curve? Yes, but you have that in very many games. If you care, I can send you a looong list of games, I quitted due to the steep learning curve. 

- lack of doc’s: For each game there is a manual (I can send them, if you want). Skip through them, play the tutorials, look at the manuals in detail again, play some single player scenarios and then switch to PBEM (PM me, or else you should not have a problem to find other opponents willing to help).

- and you are right into the “real life” learning curve. AKA, “I know what I should do: „but what the heck? CHARGE!“. 😎

Edited by StieliAlpha

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12 hours ago, StieliAlpha said:

In well designed scenarios, the AI will whip your butt about 100 times. 

+1

CM1 got boring vs the AI and was only worth playing vs a human.  But, after transitioning to CM2 (can't believe that was 12 years ago in 2007!) have been very impressed with the AI - and the game engine is always being improved.  As you say, it's all about a "well designed" scenario.  I have actually never wanted to play a CM2 Quick Battle for that reason.

Would like to try H2H sometime, but I know it requires a lot more patience and time than vs AI.  Waiting a day or two for a turn unfortunately doesn't work for me as I need quick intense CM2 fixes and then I may be traveling for a while again.

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On 7/30/2019 at 9:50 PM, IICptMillerII said:

However, I find the games to be extremely clunky. Some say this is actually a feature of the games, but I don’t buy it. The TacAI also leaves a lot to be desired for me, and I think CMs TacAI is far superior in every way. 90% of any given battle comes down to your unit deployment, whether you’re attacking or defending. If you give yourself a good setup, you’ll usually slaughter the enemy. The only real exception to this is when you’re blatantly outmatched, say as an infantry company going up against a horde of heavy tanks. Also, Graviteam lacks an editor which really hurts it in my opinion. 

Define "extremely clunky games." Which aspects are clunky? How many hours have you played GT? I had a series of expectations coming into GT from CM and other titles, and once I learned the UI and C&C system and philosophy behind the game design, it grew on me immensely and I appreciate both games in equal measure. It was kind of like going from Gary Grigsby to HOI3.

Context: I bought my first CM game in 2004 (Afrika Korps) and my first GT game in 2018 (Tunisia '43). I have over 500h in both "systems" though recently returned to CM after a long time away.

I respectfully disagree with your assertions. If you are defending, then 90% of your outcome should be based on where you position your men and heavy weapons, and whether the enemy's artillery and heavy weapons fire is accurate and intense enough to destroy key emplacements, and you should always be looking to achieve a men-materiel-and-terrain advantage over your opponent at the operational level, which will lead to asymmetrical force structures and dispositions in engagements. If you are the attacker, then the Graviteam "AI" is overly aggressive on defense, which is indeed frustrating, and that is down to its eagerness to seize victory/key points if it cannot see all of your forces and you happen to be sitting on a V/KP. However, many times I have been surprised when I have crushed what I thought was a pre-emptive (and ill-advised) attack only to find an entire company remained dug-in on the main objective. If you regularly win operations hands-down in GT, you are one of the very few who do.

The "AI" in GT rarely applies the same approach in the same exact battle (you can test it yourself by restarting). By contrast, I cannot help but feel that CM is scripted to a point where the AI will try small variations on the same thing every time based on the way the decision tree of interconnected conditions unfolds. The easiest way I have found to test that is to play the smallest battle. This is where CM should truly excel due to the emphasis on small unit tactics, but the TacAI will not deviate from its hand-made plan. All the human has to do is re-position one AT gun and the "AI" struggles to counter that.

Disclaimer: I work in the field of AI and Computer Vision, and calling a series of interdependent if-statements, "AI" is, at best, to apply an antiquated definition, and, at worst, to completely misunderstand what AI actually is. I prefer "Computer Opponent" or "Algorithms." When we eventually do play vs AI, we will be begging for mercy.

I do not believe (but would be happy if it were the case that) either game designer collects vast amounts of gameplay data and supplements it with multiple camera angle footage of soldiers in combat, and layers the computer vision data from cameras mounted on AFVs from Syria (opponents need to shoot back) allowing a series of Neural Networks to process and construct autonomous tactical models. The closest I have seen AI in battlefield simulation is the work done by Palantir Technologies and the DCGS-A system they are co-developing.

So what we are contrasting here is different approaches to C&C design, scripting and algorithm writing. With any system, for every 100m of combat front, 10 soldiers and 1 AFV you add, the complexities go off the charts. Case in point in CM: do a Quick Battle with 15k force budget and field an armoured battalion on a "Huge" map setting against a recon infantry opponent. The game engine struggles mightily to drive the 40+ tanks across the battlefield in any coherent manner. The front few race ahead while the majority smash into each other in a massive traffic jam. In Graviteam, the same command ("Move") produces a much more organised outcome, on a 3km x 3km map, for a variety of reasons, and you do not need to micro-manage AFVs to take roads. Primarily it is because Graviteam started life as an AFV simulator company and CM apparently started life simulating tabletop games like Crossfire (although thankfully the dice rolls have all but disappeared and I believe all projectiles are simulated and not probabilistic).

In Graviteam, I am able to split off a 2-man squad with one click (Alt-LMB) and have them covertly move to the crest of a ridge. I can lay down area ("observed") fire by moving the platoon leader to a position from which he can observe the target area and selecting which squads to switch to "AI Fire Control." I can also split up squads into fire teams, hotkey them, then quickly assign individual enemy soldiers as priority targets, as if I were Cpt. Winters in the Crossroads episode of Band of Brothers. So that fine control is present. However, that is not the heart of the game. 

CM is excellent for small unit tactical simulation on a relatively small battlefield and it has no peers when it comes to the degree of fine control that a human player can apply to squads and fire teams. To me it feels like playing Crossfire on a computer, but without the dice. Its WEGO and H2H are fantastic, although I would rather have a replay system and train AlphaStar to play it rather than rely on other humans to have the time, energy and skill to play me.

Graviteam (Mius Front / Tank Warfare) is a 3km x 3km battalion level simulation that actively discourages micromanagement and excels at recreating the relatively hands-off experience that a Captain or Major would have experienced in WW2. It is lacking replay/WEGO and H2H, and it needs better documentation. 

I think CM players should absolutely play Graviteam, and vice versa, take the time to understand them, and play them for their strengths, not their weaknesses. They're both worth your time.

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1 hour ago, Rattenkrieg said:

Define "extremely clunky games." Which aspects are clunky? How many hours have you played GT?

Pretty much everything. The menu's are rather obnoxious, both in their layouts and in their effects, such as changing various graphics settings or gameplay variables. The in-game UI is abysmal regardless of learning curve, and giving orders is a consistent exercise in frustration. The TacAI is the definition of clunky. Yes, you can give a move order to a company across a 3km map and it will execute it based on a movement SOP, which cuts down on micromanagement. However, the TacAI almost universally struggles along the way. Vehicles dogpile, crash and flip, or bunch up on a bridge and ram each other off. Infantry stretches out and takes long routes through complex terrain such as villages. All of these things can be present in CM too. The difference is that in CM I can directly intervene and unjam a traffic jam by giving new orders to vehicles, or to tweak the orders of infantry, etc. In graviteam, you have no such control and you just have to watch everything shake itself out, for good or bad. 

I have around 25 hours in Mius Front.

1 hour ago, Rattenkrieg said:

If you are defending, then 90% of your outcome should be based on where you position your men and heavy weapons, and whether the enemy's artillery and heavy weapons fire is accurate and intense enough to destroy key emplacements, and you should always be looking to achieve a men-materiel-and-terrain advantage over your opponent at the operational level, which will lead to asymmetrical force structures and dispositions in engagements. If you are the attacker, then the Graviteam "AI" is overly aggressive on defense, which is indeed frustrating, and that is down to its eagerness to seize victory/key points if it cannot see all of your forces and you happen to be sitting on a V/KP. However, many times I have been surprised when I have crushed what I thought was a pre-emptive (and ill-advised) attack only to find an entire company remained dug-in on the main objective.

 

1 hour ago, Rattenkrieg said:

The "AI" in GT rarely applies the same approach in the same exact battle (you can test it yourself by restarting).

I have found that the AI in graviteam follows specific SOP regardless of the map/scenario. For example, if you are defending, simply never put your men directly on a marked objective because the attacking AI will always shell the objective. I just put my defenders in a position offset from the objective but still along the obvious axis of advance and cut down the enemy as they bumble their way through the open. Similarly, while on the attack I've found that as long as I set up my formation in a sensible manner that has good fields of fire, I can generally cut down the enemy defenders and then walk onto the objectives.

In my case, most of the difficulty of the game comes from your lack of control over your men. Infantry who come into contact while on the move have terrible responses. I can't tell you how many times I've seen two opposing formations run at each other in the open, firing at point blank range blindly, running past each other and every now and then kicking one another to death. Its as if all the soldiers are blindfolded, or at least vision impaired to some degree. Additionally and conversely, key supporting weapons such as MG-42s or anti-tank guns seem to attract deadly accurate small arms fire in ranges of 700-1000m. In the first mission of the "Raid" DLC (I believe that is what it is called) playing as the Germans, I had to defend against a Soviet infantry attack coming across a large open snowy field. I set up my MGs in good positions, but watched them all get sniped from 700+ meters away, while the accompanying infantry had to wait to kick the Soviet soldiers to death as they stumbled into the trenches and seemingly did not notice my infantry. Same story for the anti-tank guns.

Granted, all of this is anecdotal evidence. And anecdotal evidence, isn't. But you asked for examples so I figured I would tell you some of what I have seen while playing the game. 

1 hour ago, Rattenkrieg said:

In Graviteam, the same command ("Move") produces a much more organised outcome, on a 3km x 3km map, for a variety of reasons, and you do not need to micro-manage AFVs to take roads.

Again, I agree that graviteam involves less micro managing and that sometimes that is a great thing, but many other times individual units struggle and there is no good way to intervene and help them, like you can do in CM. 

2 hours ago, Rattenkrieg said:

CM is excellent for small unit tactical simulation on a relatively small battlefield and it has no peers when it comes to the degree of fine control that a human player can apply to squads and fire teams. To me it feels like playing Crossfire on a computer, but without the dice. Its WEGO and H2H are fantastic, although I would rather have a replay system and train AlphaStar to play it rather than rely on other humans to have the time, energy and skill to play me.

I agree for the most part. I too would like to see a more robust overall AI in CM, and I think (as the developers have stated in the manuals for the games) that the best way to experience everything CM has to offer is to play against another human who is competent. 

2 hours ago, Rattenkrieg said:

Graviteam (Mius Front / Tank Warfare) is a 3km x 3km battalion level simulation that actively discourages micromanagement and excels at recreating the relatively hands-off experience that a Captain or Major would have experienced in WW2.

I understand and appreciate what the overall goal of simulation is, I just have not seen it pan out nearly as smoothly as others have. I'm all for simulating the friction and fog of war, and I do think in certain regards graviteam does a good job of simulating that. Its just in my experience the majority of the time it isn't working that way and when it becomes clear that there is a "glitch" occurring (such as vehicles ramming each other off a bridge they're trying to cross) there is no way to intervene. 

CM putting you in every leadership position in the formation, from team leader all the way to battalion commander and more has pros and cons. Graviteam automating much of the smaller unit leadership also has plenty of pros and cons. But when it comes down to it, especially in a simulation/game, I would rather have more control than less. At the end of the day, these are still computer programs, which are inherently prone to needing human intervention/guidance to run most optimally. 

One thing that I think graviteam does unequivocally better than CM is the special effects. I love seeing mud and dirt thrown by tank tracks and wheels of moving vehicles. I also love seeing those vehicles deform the terrain around them. The destruction models and physics are also excellent. Seeing bits of the tank blow off as it is hit by shells is a lot of fun to watch, and seeing a tank that has been hit and set on fire but still rolling forward under its own power is additionally great. I appreciate realistic gore as well, so seeing the effects of a flamethrower against its targets is a nice touch, and even the pool of blood and bloodied clothing of casualties is appreciated as well. Oh, and headlights on vehicles moving in low light. 

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46 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

The in-game UI is abysmal regardless of learning curve, and giving orders is a consistent exercise in frustration.

I used to find the Tactical Battle UI annoying - now I find that it works really well with a minimum of clicking. The order wheel is pretty intuitive and allows for a lot of permutations. I can give an order to covert advance in tactical column with tight spacing and then queue up an order to spread out into a line with medium spacing and attack using smoke. That's not too clunky in my opinion.

49 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

Vehicles dogpile, crash and flip, or bunch up on a bridge and ram each other off.

This is an unfortunate pathfinding problem if you issue multiple March orders to units that use the same roadway, and I just consider it one of those things I have to micro. I set my March orders to move by road that ends at a bridge, then I micro the bridge as I would have to do anyway in CM. 

50 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

The difference is that in CM I can directly intervene and unjam a traffic jam by giving new orders to vehicles, or to tweak the orders of infantry, etc. In graviteam, you have no such control and you just have to watch everything shake itself out, for good or bad. 

You can issue orders in Graviteam to un-jam a situation. Unless you give a series of expensive "Reverse" commands you can un-jam most situations without exhausting command points. Why are you under the impression that you "have no such control"? Keep in mind that if you play in WEGO, which is what many people play in CM, you have no option to intervene while your units bumble around for 60s.

54 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

I have around 25 hours in Mius Front.

This is pretty much the bare minimum timeframe to learn especially if you have extensive CM experience. For sure they need a better UI and tutorials, and I hope they develop them.

56 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

the attacking AI will always shell the objective

This is generally true, however also understandable as objectives are mostly important things to take and hold. If the "AI" guessed where your men were, you would wonder if it was cheating. It's a catch-22. 

57 minutes ago, IICptMillerII said:

I just put my defenders in a position offset from the objective but still along the obvious axis of advance and cut down the enemy as they bumble their way through the open.

This is kind of unavoidable, though. The enemy has to attack through the open in many cases - if they bunched up along some cover you would switch to shelling the obvious concealed routes and you would wonder why they don't vary it up. If you play Under The Cruel Star (DLC), for example, the Soviets attack through the open but they also have spotters who will drop rounds on you as soon as you reveal your positions. Perhaps you were lucky enough to always kill off their spotters or their units didn't have any assigned. I find they also move through gullies and make extensive use of defilade. Covert Move is pretty powerful and the "AI" does use it.

1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

In my case, most of the difficulty of the game comes from your lack of control over your men. Infantry who come into contact while on the move have terrible responses. I can't tell you how many times I've seen two opposing formations run at each other in the open, firing at point blank range blindly, running past each other and every now and then kicking one another to death. Its as if all the soldiers are blindfolded, or at least vision impaired to some degree. Additionally and conversely, key supporting weapons such as MG-42s or anti-tank guns seem to attract deadly accurate small arms fire in ranges of 700-1000m. In the first mission of the "Raid" DLC (I believe that is what it is called) playing as the Germans, I had to defend against a Soviet infantry attack coming across a large open snowy field. I set up my MGs in good positions, but watched them all get sniped from 700+ meters away, while the accompanying infantry had to wait to kick the Soviet soldiers to death as they stumbled into the trenches and seemingly did not notice my infantry. Same story for the anti-tank guns.

Interesting - perhaps I started playing when this behavior was already updated in patches. I sometimes do have the football kickoff encounters, but generally those are in wooded areas or when both units are concealed to each other by a rise in the ground and suddenly get revealed. I never see opposing platoons charging at each other and not reacting over open ground with good visibility. It is true that sometimes things like the LMG gunners running forward make absolutely no sense and that does frustrate me, but it's thankfully quite rare.

As for heavy weapons attracting fire, they also tend to give their positions away fairly easily, but I have not experienced receiving small arms fire from 700-1000m away unless it's from HMG fire. But in general you want an MG-42 HMG to be further back than 700m as you are losing the standoff advantage that comes with the telescopic sight. I tend to place them 1000-1500m back from where I expect the enemy to be. If that's not possible in the terrain, I give them a lot of cover. They are on a big tripod and if they aren't dug in, will be easy to hit. They were the #1 target for Soviet snipers, even above officers.

1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

Again, I agree that graviteam involves less micro managing and that sometimes that is a great thing, but many other times individual units struggle and there is no good way to intervene and help them, like you can do in CM. 

Again I'm not sure why you have this impression. I intervene to give units specific facings and fire arcs or new movement commands all the time. I just don't over-rely on it.

1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

I too would like to see a more robust overall AI in CM, and I think (as the developers have stated in the manuals for the games) that the best way to experience everything CM has to offer is to play against another human who is competent.

This is always the "excuse" from developers who struggle to create a challenge without resorting to "AI" cheats. It is immensely challenging to write algos that will challenge a human player, which is why we do have to encourage devs to train neural networks. If I were Battlefront I would record every H2H match and use it for training data to create a battle AI from scratch. They have a big advantage in this regard and I bet Eugen is already doing it with Steel Division.

1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

I just have not seen it pan out nearly as smoothly as others have. I'm all for simulating the friction and fog of war, and I do think in certain regards graviteam does a good job of simulating that. Its just in my experience the majority of the time it isn't working that way and when it becomes clear that there is a "glitch" occurring (such as vehicles ramming each other off a bridge they're trying to cross) there is no way to intervene. 

I do not that this is the 3rd time you've mentioned you don't have the ability to intervene, when you actually do. Knowing the engine's weaknesses, I plan the routing accordingly and conserve command points for intervention. It's like having to play MP. 

I know it's going to sound a bit off-putting to some, but 25 hours is barely enough time to experience 10 properly planned battles in addition to learning the UI, mechanics, and Operations system. This is a testament to the learning curve, of course, and in the Raid DLC you do have a large number of obstacles for vehicles early on, which is why you ran into the game's biggest weakness if you expected more automation.

1 hour ago, IICptMillerII said:

But when it comes down to it, especially in a simulation/game, I would rather have more control than less. At the end of the day, these are still computer programs, which are inherently prone to needing human intervention/guidance to run most optimally. 

I think what would make CM players embrace it more would be a way of lowering the Command Point cost of intervening. Having said that, I have often had situations where due to a Command Point penalty (loss of an officer), I couldn't intervene manually and the Computer figured it out, or made an even better move than I was thinking of doing.

I have a laundry list of features I want to port from one game to the other, essentially creating an amalgam of both, and add the infantry movement of a FPS. I approach both with different desires - for example I enjoy the urban combat in CM which is very clunky in Graviteam. I enjoy being able to set up a tactical engagement in ways that "real soldiers would." That, in essence is what separates the titles for me. If I could have Graviteam's scale, AFV and combat physics and production values and with CM's troop behaviour, I wouldn't do much else all day long. 

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13 hours ago, Rattenkrieg said:

Disclaimer: I work in the field of AI and Computer Vision, and calling a series of interdependent if-statements, "AI" is, at best, to apply an antiquated definition, and, at worst, to completely misunderstand what AI actually is. I prefer "Computer Opponent" or "Algorithms." When we eventually do play vs AI, we will be begging for mercy.

I do not believe (but would be happy if it were the case that) either game designer collects vast amounts of gameplay data and supplements it with multiple camera angle footage of soldiers in combat, and layers the computer vision data from cameras mounted on AFVs from Syria (opponents need to shoot back) allowing a series of Neural Networks to process and construct autonomous tactical models. The closest I have seen AI in battlefield simulation is the work done by Palantir Technologies and the DCGS-A system they are co-developing.

Just some notes on the above, as a member of the research community, I feel I need to comment on this briefly.

First of all, that stance of "anything rulebased is anything but AI" is a disingenous position that does not hold when contrasted with the state-of-the-art literature. Domain knowledge can be expressed in many ways: with if-then statements, or behaviour trees, all the way to neural network architectures engineered to "capture" very specific processes and signals. The successes that have been widely hyped up - like the Star Craft/DOTA players by Deepmind and OpenAI - are fundamentally hybrids of what you refer with scorn as "AI" and machine learning. Even the Alpha players rely on not an insignificant amount of handcrafted knowledge, from the basic features used to parametrize states to the particular selection of activation units and interconnection patterns. All those choices were made by humans seeking the best combination of parameters, architectures, initialization strategies and more. If you check the paper on AlphaGo on Nature you'll see that the section devoted to explain those details is actually longer than the main paper.

 Even more interesting is to see how former preachers of the "end-to-end learning" gospel are now turning to classics like early 1980s subsumption-like architectures to bootstrap and guide those neural networks training process. Suffices to say that all major companies working on self-driving vehicles have abandoned that gospel and are scrambling to snatch leading researchers of areas which two years ago were considered to be "not relevant any more". 

I have no idea what is Palantir trying to pitch but it sounds to me as pure bull**** tbh. This is for several reasons: tactics require to deal with partial information, considering processes that flow at different time scales, on environments which are complex and dealing with a wide variety of platforms that operate autonomously (e.g. single riflemen, AFVs, a drone and its controller). At the contrary than in games like Go, where the number of pieces is fixed and known, and the board is always the same, a contemporary, near-future or past tactical environment shares little or none of those features. The most fundamental issue - there are several, and there's plenty of fundamental issues to choose and work on - to me is that neural models are not composable.

That is, you can work out a neural network to say, steer a simulated squad of simulated robots broken into two teams just all right along a given line of advance and against a specific amount and direction of enemy fires. Here is a list of the dimensions such neural network has to generalize in order to be useful and interesting:

- Initial distance to target (assuming that the order is to Assault)

- Effective volume of fires on enemy positions as distance to them changes.

- Type of terrain the unit maneuvers.

- Obstacles obscuring LOS and LOF

- Equipment of unit

- Hypothetical equipment of the enemy

There is absolutely zero guarantee that a given NN that performs at a certain level, for any meaningful performance index, on a finite sample along these directions will generalize to any possible combination of the above. If you have an algorithm for that which you can use on any problem at hand, then congratulations, you probably solved too Hilbert's 10th problem.  This applies to everything, including Starcraft: how many possible Starcraft maps there are? Can you classify all possible tactical and strategic situations neatly into discrete homogenous categories? That's also why doing funny stuff to allegedly state of the art CV pre trained networks - like adding a 1-pixel wide black border to an image - catastrophically degrades the accuracy of object identification. Luckily, other than perhaps Russia and China I think, nobody even considers to deploy deep learning systems for target identification and acquisition. If somebody does, they're criminally insane or selling snake oil, or both.

Provably you haven't done any of the above, but you may have a quite decent closed loop control strategy that works well enough to make some nice videos to impress people, or even beats some hand coded controller that somebody put a decent amount of effort in designing exploiting knowledge about the laws of Physics or some other fundamental process.

That can be good enough, it all depends what you're comparing it against. Definitely you can't make any guarantees on suitability for any purpose other than that captured by your training set: YMMV.

The problem of composability is illustrated by the following question: can I use that neural network as a building block to coordinate the movements of a platoon? The answer, so far, has been a quite deafening no.

There is no known way to constrain back propagation to guarantee that the knowledge acquired by the neural network you are using as a building block is going to be obliterated or changed in a fundamental and undesirable fashion during training for the "composite" problem.

Composability also challenges the ability to train incrementally, as the capabilities of the unit change due to casualties or changes in equipment. There's again no guarantee that any knowledge will be preserved when re-training after changing those elements in the environment that generates the training data for the neural network.

Last, composability has to do with time: what is the minimum period of time to be considered? Is there a sensible upper bound on the number of such consecutive periods of time to consider? Taking off-the-shelf techniques used for Natural Language Processing has been shown to be pretty much like dancing about architecture, spoken and written word has a very definite temporal structure, for which we know its "laws" (because we invented grammar and rules of style!).

Another fundamental problem linked to this last observation is that whatever the neural network learns we cannot be sure that it is capturing the essential first principles that allow the behaviours which are to be mimicked. This is analogous to the fundamental issue with the classic research by T. N. Dupuy and the HERO institute - in the 1960s, one could overfit a model only by hand, in the 2020s you can use neural networks too!

Contemporary machine learning has a niche, like those "rule-based" approaches you disparaged in your post do. And I certainly appreciate the good things in deep learning, for instance, the dependability and efficiency, provided that the right conditions for the techniques involved to work properly are an invariant of the set of situations I need to deploy them.

Going back to the games briefly. Regarding Graviteam, I learnt through a weird interaction with Andrey on the Steam forums a few months ago that he's pretty ignorant on any of these topics. Which is totally all right, he's not expected to be an expert on that. So my educated guess is that what you see animating those pixel truppen in Graviteam games are not too different from the techniques used in 99% of video games and 80% (?) of robotics: good old hand-designed controllers via behaviour trees, A*/D* and PIDs/SQP/Non Linear Programming.

Last, I want to address the comment which I read is blasting BFC (and video game developers in general) because of not using deep learning technologies. I have zero idea of what is the operating budget of BFC, but say, the cost in $$$ to say develop and train an Alpha-like system for one of the countless drills possible in CMx2 would probably be somewhere north of 1 million USDs (that counts salaries, on boarding of staff and compute for like 40 days with a similar amount of computation power as the one wielded by Deepmind to ensure you can beat Bil Hardenberger like 90% of the time). Indeed, they would probably amortize salaries and onboarding over time, but the cost of computation is what it is, and changes in the game mechanics, or even bug fixes, etc. would require retraining (or training new networks for that special case).

Indeed there are opportunities for more modest applications rather than end-to-end tactical battle management, but I am skeptical than they are cost effective for the return on investment Battlefront will get. I am pretty sure they're already doing this pretty much for the sake of the arts, and unless they get patronage, I can't see why should they spend tens of thousands of dollars per month on EC2 just to replace their code for animations, drills etc by neural networks. Or maybe you could work pro bono for Battlefront developing those :)
 

Edited by BletchleyGeek

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13 hours ago, Rattenkrieg said:

In Graviteam, I am able to split off a 2-man squad with one click (Alt-LMB) and have them covertly move to the crest of a ridge. I can lay down area ("observed") fire by moving the platoon leader to a position from which he can observe the target area and selecting which squads to switch to "AI Fire Control." I can also split up squads into fire teams, hotkey them, then quickly assign individual enemy soldiers as priority targets, as if I were Cpt. Winters in the Crossroads episode of Band of Brothers. So that fine control is present. However, that is not the heart of the game. 

On the topic of clunkiness: it is clunky that I have been played Graviteam's games since 2011 - not sure I have clocked 500 hours, as I have to work some time - and I have precisely f*ck all idea about being able to do this after reading their "manual" and doing their "tutorials" several times over the years. Or is it just possible to do this on the quick battles? Plenty of clunky arbitrary design decisions like that in GT... as in pretty much every game out there as there no such a thing as a perfect design.

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5 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

If you check the paper on AlphaGo on Nature you'll see that the section devoted to explain those details is actually longer than the main paper.

 
It says a lot to me that you are referencing AlphaGo which was beaten 100-0 by AlphaGo Zero.
 
 
5 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

All those choices were made by humans seeking the best combination of parameters, architectures, initialization strategies and more.

That was 2015, mate, an eternity in DL-time. Either you didn't know about AlphaGo Zero (which as a researcher in the AI space would be weird) or you omitted it because it doesn't fit with your beliefs. Either way, not including AlphaGo Zero is like debating navies where one side is thinking wooden sailing ships and the other is thinking nuclear submarines and GPS missiles. The only thing in common is the laws of physics.

Let's just pause for a moment and put this into its just context. AlphaGo played 30 million Go matches over many months to learn how to beat the world's best human Go player 4 matches to 1 in March, 2016. AlphaGo Zero taught itself how to play without any human intervention and beat AlphaGo 100-0. It learned by playing 4.9 million matches against itself in 3 days, accumulating knowledge that would take a human thousands of years to learn. Surely a BletchleyGeek appreciates the colossal difference.
 

 
5 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

Suffices to say that all major companies working on self-driving vehicles have abandoned that gospel and are scrambling to snatch leading researchers of areas which two years ago were considered to be "not relevant any more". 

 
I don't know who is giving you this information. I'm impressed that you know this - I don't think even the top VCs in this space are aware of your above statement. However, I think you are conflating time-to-market and regulation compliance with technology. AV startups/projects are under immense pressure to deliver results in a given timeline, and there are enormous risks both to capital and more importantly to human lives. I would also be deliberately hiring people with cognitive biases. It's one way to get hybrid models to work.
 
5 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

I have no idea what is Palantir trying to pitch but it sounds to me as pure bull**** tbh.

That's a self-disqualifying statement.

I know it's en vogue to poke fun at the US military and Silicon Valley in the same breath, but unless you have a very clear idea of what the Pentagon have awarded to Palantir, and on the basis of what due diligence, you may wish to refrain from such a sweeping statement, even if you believe you are sweeping up "pure" bull****.
 
6 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

First of all, that stance of "anything rulebased is anything but AI" is a disingenous position that does not hold when contrasted with the state-of-the-art literature. Domain knowledge can be expressed in many ways: with if-then statements, or behaviour trees, all the way to neural network architectures engineered to "capture" very specific processes and signals.

This would be true if this were the stance. But it isn't. Nature observes the laws of physics; AI observes some basic rule set that is compatible with the desired outcome, e.g. AlphaGo Zero used the existing Go board and pieces as its basic rule set. But that was it. No human training, no guidelines, no previous frameworks.

So what I am objecting to (that comes across to you as scornful, disingenuous, etc) is the outdated and overused term "AI" insofar as there is no real intelligence happening in the vast majority of games. Unless you can show me how the algorithms are self-adapting to my aggressive or passive style of play, and will remember for the next battle how I conducted a particular set of moves in a given situation, I maintain that the use of the term "AI" in this context is outmoded. If you want to get sentimental you can call it "GOFAI." I would be thrilled if the algos are indeed self-adapting and can tell the difference between me playing and a friend playing on the same PC. Please enlighten me if they are.

 
6 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

The successes that have been widely hyped up - like the Star Craft/DOTA players by Deepmind and OpenAI - are fundamentally hybrids of what you refer with scorn as "AI" and machine learning.

 
Not-so-widely hyped in the grand scheme of things (maybe a short mention on the nightly news), but justifiably hyped. This argument is now short-circuited by the AlphaGo Zero omissions, but the fundamental problem with your mental model is that DL in AlphaStar is contributing 99.999% of the heavy lifting. It would be like saying a Prius with a self-parking feature and a solar powered autonomous aircraft are both hybrids of old and new technology. That is objectively true, like it is objectively true that the HMS Victory and HMS Dreadnought (nuclear sub) are both RN warships.
 
7 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

Last, I want to address the comment which I read is blasting BFC (and video game developers in general) because of not using deep learning technologies.

Please show that comment. I do not see any comments blasting BFC or anyone else. I do see a comment that is tongue and cheek about "excuses" and "AI" which is clearly contextualised by the sentence that follows it:

17 hours ago, Rattenkrieg said:

It is immensely challenging to write algos that will challenge a human player, which is why we do have to encourage devs to train neural networks.

If encouragement is blasting, perhaps you had a rough schooling.

8 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

I learnt through a weird interaction with Andrey on the Steam forums a few months ago that he's pretty ignorant on any of these topics.

This seems a bit like blasting the game developer for not using AI.

8 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

Or maybe you could work pro bono for Battlefront developing those :)

I seem to be working pro bono right now updating your DL knowledge, so I guess I had better not set a precedent. 😛

8 hours ago, BletchleyGeek said:

I have been played Graviteam's games since 2011 - not sure I have clocked 500 hours, as I have to work some time - and I have precisely f*ck all idea about being able to do this after reading their "manual" and doing their "tutorials" several times over the years.

Page 17 of the manual: select a Main and Auxiliary section.

Page 24 of the manual: Set Priority Targets. 

Page 24 of the manual: set Commander Observed Fire

The Steam forums are full of Guides and tips. Here is a comprehensive YouTube tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwwacMv-IjQ&t=1048s

And a list of cognitive biases you may wish to familiarise yourself with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

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I was talking about AlphaZero (or the Alpha style game players as they have gone on to play many other boardgames, including chess). The same applies to the more recent work on multiplayer first person shooters. They are well aware of using domain knowledge encoded as I said, I had no problems discussing that in person with Deepmind researchers in conferences, or watching them live answering to much more pointed questions from the audience in said conferences. Unbounded levels of aggro and ****ty attitudes are more often found on the Internet than in real life.

Please educate yourself a bit for instance studying recent work like that on Universal Planning  Networks and how those networks are constructed for another example of what I was saying.  And still, nothing of what you say addresses my comment pointing to the search of parameters, connections patterns, computation power requires, access to a model, generalization in neural networks, implications when deploying on the workflow of a game development company etc. Not to mention that one of the main components of AlphaZero/X is Monte Carlo Tree Search, an algorithm which was invented in 2006, and not learnt from interacting with a simulator.

So zero actual answers, zero references to papers or actual demostrations, just more e-peen swinging and accusations of being butt hurt about something (actually, some of the general algorithms I have worked on for the ATARI games haven't been beaten yet by any of the neural stuff). Your answer is disappointing to me, as it demonstrates that trying to engage with you on technical terms, while presenting an intellectual challenge at the same time, as there is no debate without some friction, is just a waste of time. 


If you wanted to prove me wrong, you just need to produce that system that learns to do a squad level drill from just capturing the sequence of frames rendered and provides inputs via, say, the same way people cheat on MMOs with bots and @Japanzer used to automate map creation years ago. I would love to be proved wrong, as that means that I would learn something from it. Just go an budget it for us, Battlefront will be very happy to learn that is doable with limited resources without running at a loss for years as any research project usually does (and almost always stay there). 

Thanks very much for the links to the Graviteam  manual,  but my question was about splitting squads etc being available on all game modes. I can't seem to get it work when I am playing with the "battlegroups" variants of the campaign. 

Edited by BletchleyGeek

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