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Some inspiration for BattleFront's future games?


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I'm not trying to tell BattleFront what to do or how to do it, seriously, I'm a friendly, don't shoot! :)

But with that out of the way, I would like to show a video I found yesterday.

It shows the engine for the next game in the Mount and Blade series. It's a very different game from Combat Mission, but the editor seems to allow for some extremely detailed and beautiful maps.

Especially the tesselation of the fields would be a great feature to see in future versions of Combat Mission. More and more detail appearing as you zoom in. Yes, it's just graphics, but while gameplay is king, I think most of us like to be as immersed in the game as possible.

Also, the way they create the map while being "in game" means seeing the results immediately, speeding up the creative process.

I am not a programmer, and I am sure you cannot just copy/paste this tech into the Combat Mission engine, but I thought I would share as inspiration.

(Mount and Blade is created by a small studio called TaleWorlds. I am not in any way affiliated with them, and I hope it's ok to post about other games in this forum).

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It looks like rural idyll, but that's just the art direction. Could easily have been used to make a grimy war scene with bombed out buildings instead of picturesque castle ruins :)

But of course, it might be difficult to combine flowing terrain like this with the tile-based nature of a wargame.

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IIRC Steve regrets choosing OpenGL as engine for CM. There was also a line from Phil that he asked not to have to change the UI because the code was horrible.

But IMHO we will see an engine change not too far in the future. The game UI does not scale very well with higher resolutions. Apple moves to high DPI displays for all their laptops in the near future and other manufacturers will follow suite (if they haven't already).

BFC will have to bite the bullet and switch over. That will cost them and I hope they can pull that through. OTOH that will give us lots of new features both in the UI and game visuals.

I'd like to state here that I would be willing to invest the equivalent of a full game price into a kickstarter campaign (or some such) that would convert any one CM game to something like Unity. I'd also take a new game, too. :)

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IIRC Steve regrets choosing OpenGL as engine for CM. There was also a line from Phil that he asked not to have to change the UI because the code was horrible.

But IMHO we will see an engine change not too far in the future. The game UI does not scale very well with higher resolutions. Apple moves to high DPI displays for all their laptops in the near future and other manufacturers will follow suite (if they haven't already).

BFC will have to bite the bullet and switch over. That will cost them and I hope they can pull that through. OTOH that will give us lots of new features both in the UI and game visuals.

I'd like to state here that I would be willing to invest the equivalent of a full game price into a kickstarter campaign (or some such) that would convert any one CM game to something like Unity. I'd also take a new game, too. :)

Not sure what the "cost" would be per se. I have no idea what the effort would be to change, but I'd agree it has to be part of BF's play book. When and how are very difficult questions, but for myself I'd rather see sooner than later if for no other reason than concern they'd have to end up duplicating titles. If on the other hand they can figure out how to port the existing games it wouldn't be so much an issue. I know less than squat about it, but I expect it won't be a simple process. (Phil is probably rolling his eyes now and muttering "you think?")

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I reckon a change out of OpenGL would constitute the advent of "CMx3", rather than being an iteration/version of CMx2. Not that that's a bad thing inherently, but it would mean starting again, in terms of "game families". Perhaps, though, it might give an opportunity to review and revise some of the archtectural decisions, in light of changed limitations. Perhaps it might allow an in-play-deformable terrain mesh, or make it easier to build a "core engine" that just has plug-in modules for content.

Edit: Oh, and [drool]

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Something about civilians. Yes, I know that civilians will not be directly simulated in the game, and that's fine. However, I think that civilians victims are an important issue in an modern environment. My idea for abstracting is to let the scenario designer paint zones of population density on the map. The number of civilian victims could be calculated on the basis of the preset population density of a zone and the amount of fire put into it.

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poesel71 .... "IIRC Steve regrets choosing OpenGL as engine for CM. There was also a line from Phil that he asked not to have to change the UI because the code was horrible. But IMHO we will see an engine change not too far in the future. …That will cost them and I hope they can pull that through......"

Based on Apple's 10.9.2 Open GL break it 'mistake' ... (the one Phil & BFC had to fix because Apple would not) I don't doubt they regret choosing OpenGL as engine for CM.

Buzz forum post, June 2014

"The Burning Basis Vector" was an opinion post suggesting OpenGL Is Broken.

Plenty of the article is beyond my limited graphics understanding but one of his strongest arguments is "OpenGL driver quality is highly variable, and lags abysmally behind DirectX..... "

Reason #1: OpenGL is highly fragmented across platforms.

Reason #2: OpenGL driver quality is highly variable, and lags abysmally behind DirectX.

Reason #3: The real problem is that OpenGL, as designed, is inferior to its competitors in several very important ways….

June 2014 - Apple is going to be moving to its own graphics API, codenamed Metal.. because per Apple…”existing OpenGL ES frameworks have interposed too much overhead between the GPU and the software running on it, leading to inefficiencies and performance loss...."

Battlefront will be moving and it sounds like Unity might be it.

02-05-2014, 12:35 PM

CMT is a Unity based product. Charles did take a look at Unity back in 2005 but found it was too "immature" at the time. More suited to 3D shooters than what we needed. But now? Totally different.

Steve

Currently dropping $3K for a gaming monitor is a bit steep. Ultra high DPI displays (4K) may be falling into normal consumer price range over the next 2 years or so. 4K will be a desirable feature soon. If you have not seen 4K in person, check it out at a retail outlet. It is very a impressive improvement in graphics. Photography is stunning. Video is very lifelike and zooming into a spot is amazingly appealing. No fuzzes, jaggies, etc.

From a business perspective it is wise to get enough of your current product to market before making such a major graphics shift. I suspect Battlefront has this all figured out and stuffed away in a mason jar or two ;)

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Battlefront will be moving and it sounds like Unity might be it.

02-05-2014, 12:35 PM

CMT is a Unity based product. Charles did take a look at Unity back in 2005 but found it was too "immature" at the time. More suited to 3D shooters than what we needed. But now? Totally different.

Steve

The Close Combat series is taking this leap. Will be interesting to see how it turns out.

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Interesting video, nice engine. We have to remember however that CM is not just like any other game. There is a lot of calculations going on under the hood that eat cpu cycles, spotting being one of them for example.

Converting current games is probably not an easy task. BF most likely have to pick a licensed engine to go with for the future so they can focus on what we all want, proper simulation of tactical warfare. Unity is the one mentioned and probably on BFs radar due to its´open platform enviroment. We want games and having focus on a new engine would probably mean no new games for couple of years. In order to do both they probably need to increase headcount. Remember also that modern engines require more out of artwork which also increases workload in that dpt.

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Interesting video, nice engine. We have to remember however that CM is not just like any other game. There is a lot of calculations going on under the hood that eat cpu cycles, spotting being one of them for example.

While that's true, the mass battles in M&B can have as many sets of eyeballs in them as a CM engagement, so it's possible the problem is tractable.

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M&B does not have relative spotting. The AI and "spotting" (the last time I played it the AI always knew where each unit was, there was no spotting nor fog of war) calculations it does are featherweight in comparison.

This discussion feels strange, apparently people want to ditch the features that make CM what it is only for it to look prettier? There are dozens of pretty looking strategy games out there with borg spotting AI. There are reasons why relative spotting is a unicorn.

It's not like you can port the core features of an engine into another engine overnight, if at all. The engine in question might not even support them at all.

I am not a programmer but I am familiar with the aneurysms programmers get when people draw parallels with different engines. Something akin to asking why can't this nuclear submarine perform the Pugachev's Cobra as well as this Sukhoi. Surely it is easy to make the submarine do it since the Sukhoi can too! Just add wings and stuff!

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Oh you can still have relative calculations for each entity, it just means the scale of battle may go back to a platoon level scale. Hey maybe even controlling individual soldiers with a couple vehicles. Now that would be a game to fill a genre niche in a bit of a dry spell right now.

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Sequoia 10-04-2014 08:46 AM

That's interesting Buzz. I know it's just speculation at this point, but what would such a move allow that can't be done now?

Plenty of speculation on my part as I have zero insider information.

What is possible? Plenty w/o the failed features / support of OpenGL.

See <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unity_%28game_engine%29> “Features”

I don’t think anyone is advocating ditch features that make CM what it is.. the apex serious war-game ... to simply make it look prettier. If OpenGL continues in it’s current support / enhancement stalemate it makes solid business sense to move ahead with a Unity based product... especially with 4K desktop resolutions around the corner for consumers.

poesel71 10-04-2014 08:16 AM

I guess this will (eventually) fall from the sky without pre announcement. BFC surely doesn't want to suffer the Osborne effect. :)

Battlefront has enough experience to avoid unintended consequences. BFC is aware of risks involved and their timing has worked for 15+ years. Actually they appear to be very sophisticated in how they are developing CMx2 if CMx3 involves a game engine transition....(speculation on my part)

I am enjoying Battlefront's current product development and roll out. I can not keep up in my free - play time with all their toys in my box.... CMBN.CW/MG 3.0 upgrade, CMFI/GL 3.0 upgrade, CMRT, New Modern CMBS around the corner and CMSF Resurrection .... Not enough hours in a day to play them all :)

If BFC keeps CMx2 support solid (they will) along with a new engine development for CMx3 ... everybody is happy:D

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M&B does not have relative spotting. The AI and "spotting" (the last time I played it the AI always knew where each unit was, there was no spotting nor fog of war) calculations it does are featherweight in comparison.

This discussion feels strange, apparently people want to ditch the features that make CM what it is only for it to look prettier? There are dozens of pretty looking strategy games out there with borg spotting AI. There are reasons why relative spotting is a unicorn.

It's not like you can port the core features of an engine into another engine overnight, if at all. The engine in question might not even support them at all.

I am not a programmer but I am familiar with the aneurysms programmers get when people draw parallels with different engines. Something akin to asking why can't this nuclear submarine perform the Pugachev's Cobra as well as this Sukhoi. Surely it is easy to make the submarine do it since the Sukhoi can too! Just add wings and stuff!

All true, but there is still the underlying question. If Open GL is too unreliable and eats up too much in the way of time and resources from BF to support, eventually they would need to consider doing something. It isn't about being prettier so much as being consistent.

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All true, but there is still the underlying question. If Open GL is too unreliable and eats up too much in the way of time and resources from BF to support, eventually they would need to consider doing something. It isn't about being prettier so much as being consistent.

Yeah, but it seems there is talk about engines and APIs interchangeably while they are not exactly the same thing. Direct3D renderer instead of OpenGL.

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Yeah, but it seems there is talk about engines and APIs interchangeably while they are not exactly the same thing. Direct3D renderer instead of OpenGL.

I know this much -----> . Okay half that, what I do know is the current situation is less than satisfactory. Whether Unity is the answer I have no idea nor do I know what BF is contemplating.

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Wouldn't it be nice, though, if we could retain the good bits and replace the tired-looking bits with sparkling graphics and an editor with some QoL features? Especially if that also led to efficiencies in support and future development.

Actually, a fully in-map 3-D editor including multilevel watercourses would be a significant game enhancement that should be well within the skill capacity of the team that's produced the actual game environment.

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