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Survey: Do Graphics matter much in CMs case?


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For a game company with just two programmers, I think CMx2's graphics are pretty darn good and a huge improvement over CMx1's. I could never go back to CMBB/CMAK.

Compared to other small strategy gaming companies, Battlefront turns out a pretty visually impressive product. Have you seen the tactical games turned out at Matrix? They're either stuck graphically back in 1998 or are pale imitations of CMx1. Or the 2D sprites of games such as HistWar or the Take Command/Scourge of War series? Or John Tiller's 1996 retreads? Let's face facts, serious wargamers' choices as to games with "great" or "impressive" graphics are limited to say the least. As a result, I think CMx2's actually stand out as among the best of a very small field.

Yes, compared to the "big boys" such as Creative Assembly and UbiSoft's various contractors, CMx2 quite simply pales in comparison. However, I don't think BF would disagree that they're not at that level. They simply can't compete with those companies whose games' budgets run well into the millions.

I'd love to see improvements. Hand-to-hand combat animations? Depictions of tank riders? Burning buildings? Actual tank damage? More varied animations as to the pixeltruppen? Sure, I'd love to see them all and a lot more, but when a game is turned out by a few people with a limited budget because they're marketing their products to a small niche of customers then you've got to keep your expectations in check.

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Having played CM since CM:BB I am really enjoying the graphics of the CM2 engine. I spend a lot of time on ground level - just admiring the action. That said, I think there is still plenty of room for improvement. In my opinion, escpecially in these fields:

Building damage:

One slightly damaged building looks fine, but several damaged buildings look quite unconvincing, as the texture for heavy(?) damage seems to be the same hole in the wall - limited to the same floor. A heavily damaged five story building will thus have five identical holes in the each floor. I really hope that we will get more realistic looking damage here: For instance halfway collapsed buildings and empty burned out shells, where only the other walls remain standing - and preferably a combination of the two.

Vehicle damage:

I´d like to see knocked out vehicles that look more like they have been knocked out. Bent guns and armor plates, holes in the fuselage, wheels falling of - and the occasional flying turret :) Also one of the things I really liked about Achtung Panzer (though I don´t like it enough to actually play it) is the animations of tanks throwing a track.

I like these two points that Umlaut brought up. I fully agree that the most important reason we play CM is "Game Play" ... the graphics are a nice afterthought.

But in the area of Buildings and Vehicles, I think some things could be done that would both enhance the graphics AND gameplay.

Vehicles: It would be great to not really know 100% if a vehicle was KO'd or not. What if the driver and crew were killed in a half-track by small-arms? ... and the vehicle in some cases just keeps driving forward for a while? What if an AP round holes a tank and kills the crew or destroys some critical sub-system? There would be very little outside evidence of the tank being KO'd .... (or maybe you can't really see the tank in that much detail from your position) ...... You would have an incentive to keep plugging rounds into it until you are sure that it is KO'd. ..... For vehicles, external damage would replace the "Red Cross" to indicate that you have destroyed it (and it would remain a "valid" target for the remainder of the game until YOU indicate that it is "KO'd" ... at that point the AI will stop targeting it ... and yes, you might make a mistake and tag a vehicle as "KO'd" when it is NOT KO'd!). And in many cases, you would not know with 100% certainty if you have been successful! ... This would both enhance the gameplay AND look great graphically.

Buildings: It would be great if buildings had some additional "components" to them to have them be destroyed in a slightly more organic way. Then, Cover and Concealment would change accordingly as the building's state deteriorates. Also, basements would be great. ... you would have lower LOS ... but excellent Cover and Concealment.

... and finally, fire ... Seeing buildings going up in smoke. This looks great graphically and also adds interesting gameplay enhancements.

I guess that what I'm trying to explain is that I hope team BF focuses on graphical areas that have the added benefit of enhancing game-play. ... because game-play is what Combat Mission is all about.

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Vehicles: It would be great to not really know 100% if a vehicle was KO'd or not.

Great minds think alike! That's how it should be. Lobbying for dramatic KO graphics- which would be great- underestimates the difficulties involved. If implemented thoughtlessly it could potentially mess with realism.

Steve has mentioned that the more detailed depiction of structural degradation of buildings is on the to-do list. Along with fire. Unfortunately not in time for the MG module which will presumably feature intense urban combat.

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"What if the driver and crew were killed in a half-track by small-arms? ... and the vehicle in some cases just keeps driving forward for a while? What if an AP round holes a tank and kills the crew or destroys some critical sub-system? There would be very little outside evidence of the tank being KO'd .... (or maybe you can't really see the tank in that much detail from your position) ...... You would have an incentive to keep plugging rounds into it until you are sure that it is KO'd. ..... "

Conversely, this is very much like RL where one often doesn't know for sure if an AFV is KO'd. Tankers would routinely shoot at an apparently KO'd tank as they drove past, "just in case".

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Great minds think alike! That's how it should be. Lobbying for dramatic KO graphics- which would be great- underestimates the difficulties involved. If implemented thoughtlessly it could potentially mess with realism.

Yeah ... I'm sure that BF has thought about it. I think it would especially be difficult to program the AI. .... Right now, your guys shoot at a tank until the "Red Cross" appears indicating that it is KO'd.

With no "KO" indicator, something else would have to tell the AI when it's KO'd. Maybe a programmed % depending on the amount of visible damage?? .... This is totally out of my area! ... But I agree, some programming and serious thought would have to go into this in order to get it to behave well.

The other option is that you could over-ride the AI and "tag" a vehicle as "KO'd" ... That would prevent your units from firing on it. But vehicles that are burning or ripped in half etc .... anything that is blatantly obvious ... those would be tagged automatically by the AI.

The only problem when putting that into code is: "What is the definition of obvious!?" :)

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Conversely, this is very much like RL where one often doesn't know for sure if an AFV is KO'd. Tankers would routinely shoot at an apparently KO'd tank as they drove past, "just in case".

I agree Erwin. And because of this, it is a great case for making this added level of graphics lend to an added level of game play. .... It is not just "Eye-Candy" ... you would need to look at the vehicles and make some decisions ... Should I tag it as "KO'd" so nothing will shoot at it?? ....

... Should I order some guys to keep firing on it??

... Should I focus on other targets and let the AI decide?

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Many accounts I've read from tankers mention they didn't feel a tank was KO'd until it was obviously on fire or the crew was seen making a run for it.

I would like decals, etc. but I also want the realism of the crews not knowing immediately, so like you said perhaps only if it's obvious - e.g. turret flying through the air or brewing up. As it is now is pretty realistic though, often the AI thinks a tank is dead and it isnt, the crew recovers and it opens up again. Also I often have crews bail and manage to sneak em back into their tank, 'reviving' it.

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...often the AI thinks a tank is dead and it isnt, the crew recovers and it opens up again...

I don't think I've ever seen this. If a tank has been spotted, whatever can kill it will keep shooting at it until it really is dead, beyond a shadow of a doubt IME.

Also I often have crews bail and manage to sneak em back into their tank, 'reviving' it.

I've only managed this when the cause of the bailing has been neutralised before the abandoned mount has been destroyed. Once, a Panther crew bailed when under unspotted 57mm fire that couldn't penetrate the glacis. They got back on board when the 57mm stopped firing due to ammo depletion. That ATG never gave up. The ricochets did kill some engineers, though, so it wasn't a total waste :-/

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but I also want the realism of the crews not knowing immediately...

When first introduced way back in CMBB(?) it was called the 'death clock'. I always liked that phrase. :) FOW and unit experience seem to affect how long it takes a crew to realize that target on the ridge is really dead. This also affects how long it takes a crew to bail. That's why your crew stays put in their KO'd tank for an alarming number of seconds. Because in game terms bailing immediately would be a sure 'death clock' giveaway.

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I don't think I've ever seen this. If a tank has been spotted, whatever can kill it will keep shooting at it until it really is dead, beyond a shadow of a doubt IME.

I've only managed this when the cause of the bailing has been neutralised before the abandoned mount has been destroyed. Once, a Panther crew bailed when under unspotted 57mm fire that couldn't penetrate the glacis. They got back on board when the 57mm stopped firing due to ammo depletion. That ATG never gave up. The ricochets did kill some engineers, though, so it wasn't a total waste :-/

I've definitely seen it when there are more targets. It's odd you've had the almost exact opposite experience. All too often the enemy bails and my tanks open up on something else and the enemy tank is left abandoned. However I *can* target the tank to brew it up. Maybe it has something to do with target ORDERS and the AI picking targets?

I've also seen for example an ATG or Sherman get 3-4 penetrations on a Panther and move on. The panther crew loses a couple men, panics, sits there. They recover and go back into the battle. I had a pbem with a Sherman that got immobilized and kept fighting, its crew got shot down to one man, who continued to man the gun. Unfortunately my advance was beyond his LoS. However I do know my opponent was certain not once but twice he killed the tank. First when it bailed, second after I remounted the crew and they took a few more penetrations and crew deaths.

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I understand what Sublime is saying regarding tank crews leaving the vehicle and having the tank still be viable. (I've been on both the delivering and receiving side of this several times) .... but you can tell if the tank is manned or empty by just looking at the "Units" box. If the crew has bailed out, the tank shows up as "Empty" in the units box. If the tank is manned, the face of the commander will show up with some basic info. (btw ... I always play in either Iron or Elite ... so it has nothing to do with that setting)

I think what we all are looking and hoping for is that feeling of seeing 3 or 4 tanks on the horizon ... maybe hull-down .... having a shootout with them .... and really not knowing what their status is. .... I mean unless it's burning or has it's turret laying on the ground a few meters away or is basically blown into pieces .... It would be great to simply not know.

You would only know based on the graphical information you are presented with and have to make your own decisions based on that. (AI would 100% take over and "tag" the vehicle as KO'd only in the case of "obvious" KO's .. such as a burning vehicle or a vehicle that is clearly blown apart in some significant way) .... Other than that, you would only have "clues" ... Maybe the track is off? Why are the hatches open? The gun barrel is hanging down. It has 4 visible holes in the armor ... is it KO'd??

Also, it would be great to have more variable time on the "Death Clock" that MikeyD mentioned. In CMx2, I don't think I've ever seen a crew stay in their tank for a significant amount of time after it's been KO'd and is not burning. They just take the hit and either stay or immediately bail out. The AI seems to make the decision within about 1 second of taking the hit. I've never seen a case where an AP round hits a tank and the crew decides to bail out 20 or 30 seconds later when they realize that some critical system is out and it's a hopeless case. .... Or maybe they have an internal fire that they are trying to fight ... but after 20 or 30 seconds they realize it's time to get the hell out because the fire is winning!

I think some changes in this area would be great ... especially for the Eastern Front.

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It matters to me if the graphics of the vehicles and buildings and people do not match in quality the graphics of their enviornment ie trees, ground, bushes, etc. If the graphics of , say, a tank is like a scale model and its inviornment is poor then it looks like a scale model in a "sand box" and it is hard to get absorbed into the game. CM2 is pretty good in this respect. The buildings and building damage could use some work and so could the water. Small ponds or lakes look good but to me a stream of any length doesn't look natural. The trees are good but some sapling trees would round out the appearance of a stream bed and show some low growth and new growth in the forest where some logging had been done, you know, make it look more "lived in" and provide more cover for the infantry. The forests right now look more like a park or a tree farm than a natural forest and it would be fun to have both. All and all CMBN has very good graphics and I spend way too many hours making maps.

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