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Paper Tiger

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About Paper Tiger

  • Birthday 12/08/1959

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    Music, computer gaming, music, reading, music and did I mention music?


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  1. There is so much more that we can do with this simple binary system with a little imagination. I'm feeling the 'so little time' part too. There reworks are taking up months of my time - I had hoped to make much faster progress with them but I just have to rework these old maps first and the AI in these two early campaigns was abysmal, basically being QB map AI plans. Although I was pleasantly surprised by what I was getting from testing the original Amarah - one sees what can still be done with the old forms by one who knows how to handle them.
  2. Two completely contradictory requests. Whatever I do, one of you is going to be unhappy. It's something I'm taking my mind to consider and I won't decide until a bit later, at least until testing properly starts. In favour of the consolidation option is that the average player will probably have pretty much the same head and vehicle count as they would without it. On the other hand, an experienced player who has managed to complete the earlier missions with next to no casualties would see his forces lost. My thinking on that point is that if you've already preserved your force so well, the campaign obviously isn't posing a real challenge and so you will probably find a better challenge at the end. Who knows? There's a lot to consider and sometimes the best answer is just to leave as much as possible without changing it. If it ain't broken, don't fix it. Which segues nicely to my next point. As I've said a few times already, the new engine has pretty much obsoleted the old campaign because defenders in buildings are far more resilient and even conscripts with low morale will stand and fight. And artillery doesn't do nearly as much damage to infantry in buildings as it did way back when the campaign was first devised. Add to that the near-absurd force ratios and that's a lot of rebalancing work. I've started real work on the phase 3 missions now, Amarah, Farmers, Jameelah and Tumah, and have decided not to make nearly so many radical map overhauls this time around apart from the Tumah Crossing map which has already been improved considerably. I am splitting up some of the massive grain fields on these maps and 'planting' different crops there to make them a little less yellow overall. And I'm reworking some of the compounds so that they're a bit more realistic but otherwise, I want to keep the flavour of these maps intact as much as possible. It will also save a bit of time. When I was devising core units, I spent a lot of time improving three of these four maps so most of the map work is already done. Amarah is the only one that needs real improvements but I'm keeping the extreme elevation changes and the overall terrain as is. What WILL go are the AT-14 ATGM teams. The briefing is totally misleading in that respect, not to mention that they're massively lethal to both vehicles and infantry. The initial recon phase is a bit boring so instead of having the reinforcements arrive earlier, I'm going to beef up the starting OB with some of the 'tools' that the original CMSF didn't have. These two changes alone should allow me to keep the general flow of the battle intact from the original rather than a whole new battle like Sagger Point and SAM Hill needed after the extensive overhaul.
  3. Dinas does actually have a finale with the entire BTR Mech Inf battalion and support present. The finale(s) are not really a problem as there is no way to predict what the average player will have left in the final mission after 12+ missions. Some folks will have busted OBs by the middle of the campaign while others will have their OBs pretty much intact at the end. The important thing is to make sure that it is winnable and the player takes what forces he has to the challenge and uses them well. So you'll still have the entire battalion in the finale. I'm trying to decide whether to 'disband' one of the three companies in each battalion to reinforce the remaining two later in the campaign so that you have full OBs for the final set of missions. Since the time span is far too short for replacements to be a thing, this is an option I'm considering. I'm aware of the counter arguments so it's not fixed yet. There are options available to the player that weren't in CMSF1 - namely that you can combine squads that are depleted so that you're no longer sporting a number of squads with 1 or 2 soldiers in them in later missions (unless you want to of course)
  4. I have frequently said in my post history that I play RT without pausing (with a few exceptions). Yes, it IS possible for somebody to pause every 5-10 seconds and issue new orders. That was one of the main concerns expressed by certain quarters of the community when CMx2 was announced with Real Time play so it's not a new issue but as old as the engine itself. But I never play that way and so every one of my missions ever made has been played and tested in RT with infrequent pausing so your expressed concern about design and testing is unfounded. I'm sure some scenarios do that with victory conditions but it's simple maths and I've seen others do it - examine the victory conditions before starting and determining what needs to be done to achieve a victory. The only tricky parameter I have to consider in most cases is where to set the enemy force preservation bonus which can offset some of the VP occupation awards. While the award itself may be uniform throughout a campaign, you'll find the threshold varies a lot between missions depending on experiences during testing. Pretty much every mission ever designed can be won "simply" by destroying the enemy force and forcing a surrender for the win. Not much can be done about that and honestly, if you can do that, you've captured all the VPs by default in most situations. I'm sure somebody will be able to cite an occasion when it should not but a win by surrender is always possible. That's how I win some of my missions - by intentionally forcing a surrender. For example, new Petani or Flintstones are situations where the enemy will surrender before you capture all the objectives if you take the time to clear the enemy from the orchards and fields first. Leave them and the enemy will fight longer in the town. It's designed like that intentionally.
  5. LOL. That's certainly true when I'm playtesting a mission with a very small force, for example, the start of a mission when you only have recon on the map. But I lose that focus when playing RT when there are more units and yes, I lose units and I don't see anything happen. Yes, the icon flashes but if you're zoomed in a bit, you miss those alerts. It's true that you can react faster and change their orders in RT when you are focused on one particular part of the map but then you're missing what is happening elsewhere unless you have everybody else just sitting doing nothing at all. If you're managing a company+ with support, you might actually have an advantage playing WeGo. RT is only really doable with small-ish forces. There's no way I could manage a battalion + of units in RT nowadays but I seemed to be able to do it up until Nijmegen at least when mission OBs could sometimes be quite large (Aalst springs to mind) I take great care to ensure that you have enough force to accomplish the objectives and always add at least 10 more minutes to the mission clock than I need to win comfortably, sometimes, quite a bit more. For example, I can do The High Chaparral mission in Gung Ho! in less than 2 hours but you get an extra half hour. (The reasons for an extra half hour should be obvious if you think about it.) BTW, I've seen players detach small scout teams which advance ahead of the others in WeGo to avoid such errors. You might lose a couple of scouts but you won't lose the whole squad. I use that tactic too, especially with the Syrians. Scout + Hunt usually does the job - it draws fire (the AI is dumb), it's slow but safe and since that's what I'm doing, you should have enough time in WeGo too. One issue I read players have is that they think they have to capture ALL the objectives whereas they're designed to be won by capturing at least one and denying control of the rest to the other side. Or to preserve every Preserve location. If you try to control or preserve them all, yes, you'll need more time and more bodies but read the victory objectives carefully and determine what is needed for a win and suddenly, many of my missions become much easier.
  6. While I'm at it, here is the old SAM Hill map... Don't ask me why but I hate this map with a passion. It's so artificial and yes, that's mud . So I updated it, expanding the map further to the back to give the player room to deploy his forces, reducing the elevations and making all the compounds far more realistic. And of course, SAM Hill itself is now a small military base modelled on a real-world base situated just north of the Jordanian border. I'm aware it looks flat but elevations vary a lot and the hill at the back of the map still dominates but it doesn't show on the screenshot. So that's all the Phase 2 missions ready for playtesting. That's going to take a bit of time to do as SAM Hill and Sagger Point are basically all-new missions. I've playtested Sulit Airfield and it's fine with not much needing to be done to finish that. Suib is still basically the same mission as it was but it no longer has a river crossing and the same is true for Sagger Point. The river crossings are a phase 3 feature and almost each one will be feature an opposed river crossing. I started work on the first phase 3 mission Amarah and am in the process of redoing the map for the final mission, Tumah Crossing. I've already redone Farmers and Jameelah so phase 3 shouldn't take too long to get ready for testing too.
  7. Well, it turns out the Sagger Point rework took a bit longer than I'd anticipated. It's almost finished now but I've had to redo the map. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here are a couple which show the old Sagger map and the new, reworked one, both taken pretty much from the same perspective. As you can see, the new map is a lot less yellow with more realistic farmlands and completely reworked compounds. The old village has been relocated to the centre of the map and the huge hill to the north has been cut down to size a bit so that it's a less dominant terrain feature. I think I was obsessed with building them really high back in the early days of CMx1 The plan here is to try and keep the OB to a company of mech inf with support rather than have two full mech inf companies + support. Sorry folks but I just don't play that way anymore and since this is going to require a lot of playtesting, I need to be able to manage everything in RT. By relocating the village to the centre of the map, it fits in with my strategy of giving the player mini goals to achieve while his forces arrive on the map for the big set piece, the assault on the hill. I'm using some UNCON units in this mission to represent small bands of civilians who are against the rebellion so the initial opposition is not too tough to manage with a small force. They are scattered around the small compounds and the villages and I'll be able to vary their set ups between AI plans so that nobody knows exactly where they'll be even if you've played it once already. Gone too are the 'emplaced' tanks on the hill so that you will be able to move your mech inf in sight of the hill without the AI overriding n your orders with self-preservation retreat orders. The map as you see it is relatively bare with respect to details and flavour objects - that's an evening job when I prefer to relax, listen to some old Eagles albums and do some light map work.
  8. That's interesting but the friendly fire I'm referring to is gone from the game. It used to be that units could misidentify a friendly unit and fire on it with everything and it was brutal. Perhaps most of you have never experienced this in your game because the feature was removed long ago. When this happened though, I have no idea. I can fire up the original version of Strong Stand which was an excellent showcase for this feature - a night mission which had a couple of companies of conscript reserve infantry arriving to reinforce a battle. You had to be extremely careful how you brought your conscript reinforcements into the battle space as they would misidentify your Special Forces as well as other conscript platoons that were out of initial C2 and a full-blown firefight between these formations ensued. I first noticed this feature was missing when I returned to revise Hasrabit last year - I was expecting it to happen but the conscripts never fired on each other.
  9. I spent most of this last week reworking the SAM Hill map. For some reason, I just hate that map and can't play on it so it's been a massive job to overhaul. I finished it yesterday and have tested it a couple of times and also got the Sulit Airfield map and mission updated. I'm currently reviewing the Sagger Point mission, the half-way point in the campaign and the Phase 2 finale, with probably the most ASL-style map of the entire collection and I just KNOW that I'm going to have to rework it massively. It's too yellow, there are too many hills, the fields are horrible and unnatural and some of the compounds could do with being made more realistic. Unlike SAM Hill, it's not a bad looking map at all but it looks completely artificial and I don't enjoy them like that any more. Although I'm not going to redo most of the elevations, this is going to be another SAM Hill-like rework so that's my job for next week. Sulit Airfield was pretty simple with just some prettying-up of the map, adding some hedges and fences and redoing the player set-up area so that it looks like Syrian farmland. As it happens, Syrians farm right up to the berm of military airfields so I've done that here. However, I'm going to take it a bit easy for a while as the SAM Hill rework took quite a lot of time to do and I want to play something else for fun for a while.
  10. I forget that most folks around here weren't playing CMSF1 back in the days before the Marines module was released and friendly fire was a real feature in the game as evinced by my anecdote about playing 'Strong Stand'. Hasrabit was made before even AI pre-planned artillery was a feature. (It was revised shortly after it became a feature and so you find it very sloppily implemented in almost every mission in Hasrabit, an over-correction rather like how movies made with colour in the 50s are riotously colourful just to show off that 'we've got colour now!!!' High explosives and ricochets still cause friendly casualties but your units do not misidentify other friendly units and fire upon them anymore. This only really applied to the Syrian side as their C2 is nowhere near as good as your average Blue force. That's my point, that both Hasrabit and Dinas were made when the game engine was a very different creature and the rework can't be 'the same but better' but has to be a whole new thing. If folks really liked original Dinas, especially back in the very early days, they might not enjoy the rework nearly so well. When this feature was removed, I have absolutely no idea as I was too busy with 'new' Blue v Red and WW2 campaigns to do much more than just add pre-planned artillery strikes to Hasrabit. I certainly didn't retest the mission beyond seeing that the artillery strikes were WAD and so missed the change. Last year is the first time I recall ever thinking about revisiting these two early works and I remember being disappointed that friendly fire was no longer working.
  11. That's what I thought. Thanks for that. Another really important engine change that came along much later was the lethality of MGs. When these campaigns were made, MGs fired in a random direction from the target itself so casualties were much lower. When it was changed. MGs became exponentially more lethal. I'm finding the Green and Conscript Reserve Infantry formations to be performing FAR better than their early CMSF1 counterparts. There's no Friendly Fire either so managing them carefully at night is no longer a concern. That REALLY changed Strong Stand, mission 2 of the old Hasrabit campaign, where you needed to herd them into the action very carefully otherwise they'd open fire on your Special Forces or each other. Wild. But that's a feature of Hasrabit that is lost forever due to changes made to the engine.
  12. I really wonder how many folks have played the original campaign with the new CMSF2 engine because I suspect it would be a very different beast to play now. In particular, infantry units appear to be far more resilient and have their survivability increased substantially when in a building. In Petani, the opening rocket salvo used to be enough to send half of the conscripts with Low/Poor morale running and make the rest jittery. Now it cause 2-3 casualties, if you're lucky, and the rest are 'concerned' but otherwise okay. If anyone has played Dinas with the new engine, I'd really like to hear from them about their experience and whether they won it or not. Both Hasrabit and Dinas are very old campaigns, made with the earliest iterations of the game engine and I suspect they are 'gone' for good. Thus the total rework required. I HOPE it will be better but there's always someone who will think the original was better, and maybe it was but the engine changed that.
  13. I've now moved onto mission 5, SAM Hill. Don't think that I'm finished with 1-4 yet. They all have AI plans and forces ready to go but I know I can improve them further, especially Sabatani and Suib but I've seen enough of them for now and will return to them later. SAM Hill has a map which I really don't like. I've tried it but it just irritates me because it just doesn't look real. It looks like something I just pulled out of my posterior with no real art or skill. I had already tried improving it by expanding it further to the east and adding a small village and some fields to give the BLUE deployment area some depth but I still didn't like it. So, once again, I returned to Google Earth to see if I could find something better and sure enough, I found exactly what I wanted - a small military base near the border with Jordan. It fit the bill perfectly so I ripped out all the elevations on the map and started work on the new base. It's not going to take long to do, it's just a hill winged by a berm with some weapon sites on one side of the hill and a small number of buildings near the entrance and at the back and that's already all done. There's what looks like a small barracks area near the site in Syria so i'll add that tomorrow and that's the new SAM Hill map finished.
  14. A quick update on last week's progress. I spent the week working on two missions, (3 and 4 in the campaign). As mentioned above, early last week, i was wanting to cut one of these two missions because they felt very samey. But i decided to rework the maps and try something different with them. I was very happy with the result in Sabatani and the force ratio is almost 1:1. Considering what you have and the quality of it, you're definitely at an advantage. And so at the weekend, I turned to Suib. I wasn't happy with the map and the compounds so I decided to revamp the map, removing the large orchards and replacing them with fields of vegetables and grain. I also removed the poor quality compounds to the east of the river and replaced them, once again, with actual Syrian village compounds. I also reduced the height of the hills at the back of the map and gave it a whole new RED OB. I now have two AI plans and another very reasonable force ratio so I feel like I've done a good job on both of these. I enjoyed playtesting them too and had to relearn a lesson - namely that I WANT to kill the player's units. I had an impulse to quit my run and change the AI to reduce the lethality and remembered that I WANT to make the AI tough if you are too hasty.
  15. I'm sure there are, especially on the East front but I only have CM:BN, CM:SF2 and CM:CW and I haven't done a thing for Cold War yet. I'd have to convince the wife to allow me to splurge $100+ on a new game just now as well. She'd say 'yes' because she's an angel but I'd feel like a ****. I'd probably spend the money on CM:FI anyway as that looks more like my thing. I've discovered that the key for me to enjoy something is to be able to use all the fun stuff and not just the vanilla formations with no air support and no proper artillery support - I like the combined arms and to have some unusual kit make an appearance from time to time, weird stuff like guns on trucks that are fragile and require some finessing to work without them being instantly wrecked.
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