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Triggers !


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As i am a bit dumb anyone of you marvellous map makers able to give me a simple example of you would use a trigger?

Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is:

Ambushes!

For instance: Place some troops hiding in the woods surrounding a road. When enemy troops enter a certain sector of the road, the trigger is "released" and the hidden troops rush forward to attack.

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Well, the first thing that comes to my mind is:

Ambushes!

For instance: Place some troops hiding in the woods surrounding a road. When enemy troops enter a certain sector of the road, the trigger is "released" and the hidden troops rush forward to attack.

Oh i see cheers umlaut

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Here's a quick description, starting with the limitations of the current system.

Right now a scenario designer has to not only anticipate WHAT the Human Player will do, but also WHEN he will do it. It's not too difficult for an experienced designer to do a pretty good job of this. However, there are plenty of things the designers want to do that require more precision than guessing. That's where Triggers come in.

The new feature allows the designer to designate a specific order in a specific AI Group to "wait for" a triggered event. That can be either a friendly force starting a particular action or enemy units reaching an Objective (can be friend or foe). When this happens the trigger is "tripped" and the AI Group in wait starts to execute whatever comes next.

Unfortunately we do not have "conditional triggers" with "branching options". For example, "if enemy reaches here, do this. But if enemy reaches there, do that". That's too much for us to bite off at one time as there are many, many complications that come along with that sort of behavior. Right now an AI Group can only proceed or not based on either the clock time, a trigger, or both (clocks can be used as a failsafe).

Here's a basic example of how Triggers can make things more challenging for the Human Player...

The AI is on the defensive. There's two primary defensive AI Groups and a third one tank destroyers being held in reserve. The map and objectives mean the Human is almost certainly going to come down a particular road. The designer figures that when the enemy reaches a particular point on the map that a flank attack would probably result in a significant monkey wrench in the player's plans.

The designer places a Trigger Objective in the desired area. As with all Objectives it can be any number of Action Spots in any shape. To make sure it's not missed the designer paints a broad line that will for sure have to be crossed at some point. This Objective is *NOT* visible to the Human.

Now that the Trigger Objective is placed the designer assigns the AI Group 3 (the tank destroyers) to stay in their positions until that specific Trigger Objective is tripped. Meaning, there could be a half dozen Trigger Objectives on the map, each being used by different units or the same units at different times. With the Trigger Objective assigned the designer plots a bunch of different moves to be executed AFTER it's tripped.

During gameplay the Human moves his units cautiously along the road. Unknown to him he runs over the Trigger Objective and that springs the tank destroyers into action. They appear on top of a hill 800m off to the left, catching the player's attacking tanks in the flank and (hopefully for the AI) knocking some out. After a couple of minutes of trading fire AI Group 3 executes another Order to move back behind the hill for cover and then relocate to a new spot to then be tied into a new Trigger Objective so as to repeat the same sort of thing but from a different location.

That's just one quick example. Without Triggers the designer would have to guess when to have the tank destroyers crest the hill, which could be too late or too early. Now it happens right when it should.

Steve

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I'm reminded of scenarios designers struggling with the 'standard' AI orders for the original CMSF basegame. Oh lord, that was a hard slog at first. But by the NATO module scenario designers were running rings around players, regularly winning victories. I suspect these new add-on triggers are going to pose their own initial challenges and cries of protest. But with a little practice we will have figured out a laundry list of 'clever' ways to apply them. Its rather like learning how to parallel park a car. The car's not 'broken' just because your first couple attempts were a struggle.

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Meaning, there could be a half dozen Trigger Objectives on the map, each being used by different units or the same units at different times.

This sounds too good to be true. Do I understand this correctly?

The designer could assign a certain reserve platoon of TDs triggerA + planA and triggerB + plan B?

Both plans could end with a move back to the original position.

So if triggerA is activated the TD platoon moves according to the plan at the end of the plan returns.

But if triggerB is activated it moves according to planB and returns afterwards.

So the scenario designer could indeed make several different plans for different triggers for each unit?

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No, unfortunately that is not possible just yet. That's what I meant about no "nesting" and "branching" being possible. It's the next logical step for us to take and so it is going to happen sooner rather than later.

What I meant is that you could have 6 different AI Groups each assigned a unique Trigger Objective, or have 3 different AI Groups each assigned two unique Trigger Objectives. Of have 6 AI Groups assigned to 1 Trigger Objective. The emphasis here is that you are not locked into a single Trigger Objective for the whole Plan.

An example of this is AI Group 3 could have three Orders then "wait for" Trigger Objective A, then execute 2 Orders then "wait for" Trigger Objective B. But since this is linear progression there is no ability to "wait for " either Trigger Objective A *or* B depending on circumstances.

A reminder that our core design philosophy is to give you guys improvements as they are viable to develop. Instead of holding back until something is "perfect" we instead release it in increments so the game steadily gets better instead of long stretches stagnant and then BAM a big change. So far it's been working great!

Steve

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Well, any trigger is several orders of magnitude better than no trigger.

Question though: with plans, imagine:

Plan A: unit will wait on left flank and attack toward zone 1 if trigger 1 goes off

Plan B: unit will wait on left flank and attack toward zone 1 if trigger 2 goes off.

Plan C: unit will wait on right flank and attack toward zone 2 if trigger 1 goes off.

Plan D: unit will wait on right flank and attack toward zone 2 if trigger 2 goes off.

... with each plan having equal chance of running

This is possible, yes? i.e triggers can't be nested or branched, but they can still be used across different plans ?

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I'd really be interested to see how triggers could work for AI to move to fall back positions. Group A Soviets cross this point, Group Z Axis move back to a hard point. Could make things really interesting when the MG that normally sits in the house all game moves to a new position all the sudden and starts hammering you from a new location.

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Well, any trigger is several orders of magnitude better than no trigger.

You got that right ;)

Question though: with plans, imagine:

Plan A: unit will wait on left flank and attack toward zone 1 if trigger 1 goes off

Plan B: unit will wait on left flank and attack toward zone 1 if trigger 2 goes off.

Plan C: unit will wait on right flank and attack toward zone 2 if trigger 1 goes off.

Plan D: unit will wait on right flank and attack toward zone 2 if trigger 2 goes off.

... with each plan having equal chance of running

This is possible, yes? i.e triggers can't be nested or branched, but they can still be used across different plans ?

Yes. You can paint an Objective and use it for any Plan.

Orders that are used as Triggers are, of course, limited to an individual Plan because everything is limited to a single Plan.

A general guideline is that when you're trying to base friendly actions on enemy actions you use Objectives for Triggers. When you're trying to coordinate friendly actions with friendly actions your probably going to have Orders triggered by Orders. Though there is still some utility to having friendly actions coordinated by an Objective, just not likely the first choice for most situations.

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Question: if AI units are waiting for a trigger that enemy moves to some area, does some AI unit need to have LOS to the area? So are you simulating that once AI units see enemy in some area the trigger is used or could the trigger area be for example behind a hill with no AI units nearby?

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Their was a lot of discussion about this (hey PT ;)). As is it right now, there is no need to have LOS to the area. Which does make the use of triggers easier, because it is always certain the trigger will be tripped. Things are kept simple this first time around. Triggers are spanking new and the scenario makers are finding out how to put them to work as we speak. Really cool to see where they come up with. Triggers are the greatest addition to the game of all the new stuff IMHO. Most people do play against the AI, and the AI just got a lot tougher.

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Gents - happy to report that triggers work quite nicely in the defense, and have allowed me to program in a defense in depth with elements withdrawing by bounds to subsequent positions as successive phase lines are tripped by advancing enemy forces. You will like this feature a lot. The degree of creativity and complexity this allows is truly astounding when compared to the 'old way.' Although branches (A or B) would be nice, you can really manage quite a lot of previously impossible flexibility and variety in this way, especially when you combine triggers with larger and smaller time windows for order execution. Note: if the trigger is not tripped but the 'execute before' time is reached, the unit goes off and executes anyway, allowing you to 'backstop' your triggered events. Or set 'execute before' at end of scenario, and they will wait indefinitely.

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