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Situational awarness and reporting from subbordinate units


DreDay
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Good day gents.  I am an "old school" CM/CMSF player that has also spent some time with the latest CM WWII titles as well. One major shortcoming that I (and many reviewers) have found in this (otherwise) amazing game engine is a low level of situational awareness and reporting from your subordinates (i.e. your units on the map). As a battalion/battlegroup commander you should be getting real time reports on the contact that your subordinates are making and the fire that they are taking. Those reports might not always be timely or accurate; but it is a duty of any CO to report such events to their superior in a chain of command. The lack of such features had made the real time mode completely unplayable for me in a past.

 

So now I am wondering if the developers are planning to add any new features that would aid the players with situation awareness (especially in real time)... What do ya'll think about such features and do you miss them at all, or am I on my own here?

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What do you mean? It's not realtime? I always get everything in realtime. Maybe you're talking about an aspect that they put into the game of information sharing, how it takes time for the team to communicate accurately with each other, so something one guy sees will take some time to run up and down the chain of command.

 

Sorry if I was not clear enough... what I mean are real-time reports from your subordinate CO's saying something like - "Enemy Contact - BMP platoon - 1500 meters away - position X,Y - engaging"; Or "Taking fire, from position X,Y; Enemy strength unknown. No KIA or WIA to report. Suppression fire on the way". The current engine relies on you (i.e. battle group commander)  to spot and to track all the enemy contacts visually  and also to keep visual track of your own unit status and possible casualties in real-time (if you choose to play in that mode) that is neither realistic nor user friendly and has been criticized by most game reviewers. Don't get me wrong, I love CM series and have a ton of respect for the developers; but that is one glaring weakness of the current engine that has been criticized by most professional reviewers (most of whom have also  praised almost all other aspects of the game)....

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Sorry if I was not clear enough... what I mean are real-time reports from your subordinate CO's saying something like - "Enemy Contact - BMP platoon - 1500 meters away - position X,Y - engaging"; Or "Taking fire, from position X,Y; Enemy strength unknown. No KIA or WIA to report. Suppression fire on the way". The current engine relies on you (i.e. battle group commander)  to spot and to track all the enemy contacts visually  and also to keep visual track of your own unit status and possible casualties in real-time (if you choose to play in that mode) that is neither realistic nor user friendly and has been criticized by most game reviewers. Don't get me wrong, I love CM series and have a ton of respect for the developers; but that is one glaring weakness of the current engine that has been criticized by most professional reviewers (most of whom have also  praised almost all other aspects of the game)....

 

I'm still not quite sure I'm understanding what you're talking about.

 

Are you saying you want to hear actual audible - to you, the player - sounds of units talking to/radioing their superiors ?

 

If that's the case, then consider that the game would need LOTS of soundfiles. And then how would it work ? If 5 different platoons saw 5 different ( or even the same ) enemy units, you'd either get 5 people talking at once, or they'd have to be queued - and then it wouldn't really be "real time", since some would have had to wait for a chance to speak. So you ( the player ) would probably have seen the enemy in question by that time. 

Or the queued one would be the important one and the ones you hear first would be for stuff you'd already seen and so on.

 

Plus it would probably need processing power that just isn't available...

 

And that's just in WEGO - playing Real-Time you'd miss stuff, they'd blot each other out or be irrelevant etc.

 

Or I'm totally misinterpreting what you're asking for.

Edited by Baneman
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Picture this: you are playing real time and are currently watching elements of D company assaulting the outer most buildings of a town. Meanwhile E company , who are clearing the near by orchards , suddenly start taking fire from some enemy tanks. Currently *you* have to notice that by magic intuition to react. What the OP and others in the past have asked for is a way to monitor other things going on on the battle field.

Assuming i have that correct, there are no plans that i am aware of right now to mask UI changes. We will have to wait to see if and how this might be addressed.

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I'm still not quite sure I'm understanding what you're talking about.

 

Are you saying you want to hear actual audible - to you, the player - sounds of units talking to/radioing their superiors ?

 

If that's the case, then consider that the game would need LOTS of soundfiles. And then how would it work ? If 5 different platoons saw 5 different ( or even the same ) enemy units, you'd either get 5 people talking at once, or they'd have to be queued - and then it wouldn't really be "real time", since some would have had to wait for a chance to speak. So you ( the player ) would probably have seen the enemy in question by that time. 

Or the queued one would be the important one and the ones you hear first would be for stuff you'd already seen and so on.

 

Plus it would probably need processing power that just isn't available...

 

And that's just in WEGO - playing Real-Time you'd miss stuff, they'd blot each other out or be irrelevant etc.

 

Or I'm totally misinterpreting what you're asking for.

 

I am sorry friend, but I think that I've made myself perfectly clear for the past two posts. If you have any kind of military background whatsoever you would know that there are standard COM OPs for reporting movement, enemy contact, casualties and such. Right now the game engine is seriously lacking when it comes to providing real time situational awarness to the player (let's call him battle group commnader) which is neither realistic nor fun. Many others have pointed this out before. I am sure that the Battlefront devs are on top of it and hopefully they can come up with some kind of a system to compensate for it. But hey, if you have never noticed that as being a problem - then God Bless you and please feel free to ingnore this particular thread.

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Baneman, I think thats exactly what he meant.

 

I remember looking at a stragegy game - I think it was called Ruse- where you had continuous audio feedback on everything happening. You might be commanding a tank in the norh and suddenly a message would pop up, saying something like "Bomber one under fire". At the same time you'd hear the message.

 

I mostly play WeGo, so maybe I'm not qualified enough to talk about this issue. I can imagine someone playing in realtime having problems following everything on the battlefield. In that sense it would be beneficial. However, to me it would destroy something I love about Combat mission. Combat mission forces you to have that situational awareness yourself. Sure, it would be easier to have someone read out loud what's happening, but in the end you are the one responsible for both recoginsing and reacting to new threats.

 

I don't know how many players play realtime and how many players would enjoy the constant newsflow. I'd imagine that implementing a feedback system is a ton of work, and I'm not sure if it's worth it.

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Fair enough, I see he's asking for some kind of information, not necessarily audio.

 

Am curious how he would like this information to be presented to the player though - the audio option ( I think, as per my post ) would rapidly become confusing and/or overloaded in any kind of large engagement. What other options are there ? Section of the screen with info scrolling ? ( would not be my choice )

 

It's easy to say "there should..."

Much harder to say how it should.

Edited by Baneman
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Baneman, especially in a modern title, text reports would be fine.  Would simulate FBCB2 or BFT2 type traffic.  Would be especially awesome if we could get both 'auto-generated' text reports, as DreDay refers to such as "contact, BMP, north, engaging, out!" which the TAC AI would spit out, coupled with scenario designer generated "messages" to the player over FBCB2, such as "You this is me, FRAGO Follows, break..  establish hasty defense vic OBJ Tomahawk, oriented north to northwest, and prepare to repel company-sized armored counterattack, ETA 7 minutes, over!"   Would make our mission creation options dynamic, since we already have 'hidden' objectives, bigger maps, and virtually unlimited ability to reorient or pump in reinforcements.  Coupled with auto reports on spotting, engagements, casualties and ammo state by your pixeltruppenfuehrers, it would make the game much more multi-faceted and immersive.  Would mean some sort of non-insignificant overhaul of the UI, but I think most of us support that at this point anyway.

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That sounds reasonable. I wasn't trying to knock the guy, just understand how it would be presented to the player.

 

Some sort of HUD effect ?

Or utilisation of the much maligned "empty space at the sides of the of the UI" ? I can see the latter being popular :)

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This is a drop down, and collapsible situational tool that allows one to see the status of all information one would only get by selecting each unit individually. It is basically a visual players radio that allows him to see 360 degrees at all times that connects him to the force, but it has sound toggle too. It can also, be used to navigate the game. Read the thread describing it if you want to know all it's functions. it is the ultimate situational tool for the player that can be deciphered at a glance being icon based.

http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=104982&highlight=roster

 

ROSTERFINAL.jpg

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I am sorry friend, but I think that I've made myself perfectly clear for the past two posts. If you have any kind of military background whatsoever you would know that there are standard COM OPs for reporting movement, enemy contact, casualties and such. Right now the game engine is seriously lacking when it comes to providing real time situational awarness to the player (let's call him battle group commnader) which is neither realistic nor fun. Many others have pointed this out before. I am sure that the Battlefront devs are on top of it and hopefully they can come up with some kind of a system to compensate for it. But hey, if you have never noticed that as being a problem - then God Bless you and please feel free to ingnore this particular thread.

Dreday-

The game already gives you info in the form of contact icons etc. Anything more than that is gonna create other issues. A scrolling text bar with potentially a ton of info, much of it useless? An audible? Never gonna happen, We already have limitations regarding weapons sounds. Not to mention it would just totally overwhelm you with info.

Think of it this way, you are the the leader of every team, every squad, every platoon every company and every Battalion. If you had any military background whatsoever (yes I am being sarcastic, that was an uncalled for little snipe on your part at Baneman, back at ya babe) you would know that no one member of the C2 chain is going to get every detail from everyone of those people, so why would you expect it? You already have the god's eye view. Your team members will report to their team leaders, depending on importance they will report to squads, who then report to Platoons etc etc. You as the eye of god in the game are gonna receive all of that. Sorry this looks to me more like one of those "I wish I had this, oh wait that is way too much, no let's tone it down I want to adjust to only get these types of reports at this level of the c2 chain, oh wait now I missed something urgent from someone not in the C2 chain, BF fix or do sumfink!!"

So let's just say they roll something out in the form of text. You are in the middle of a battalion scale engagement. You are now getting spotting reports from potentially 70+ different sources. Really? You think you are going to make use of that in a RT battle? If you are playing wego, you don't need it. You can replay at any level you want as often as you want to catch every little item.

Panzrldr, just consider for a moment that what you are requesting is the audio files match player selected names in the editor. It isn't just an overhaul of the UI. It is an overhaul of how the engine takes data and presents it including data that is user created. On the one hand yeah this kind of stuff would be pretty cool and immersive. On the other hand it is something Charles is gonna just say "Ha, yeah right, dream on suckers I will be retired long before I ever consider that." He'll then likely utter some expletive.

Granted I play wego so it does present a difference than RT, but in RT I have no idea how you expect to make use of the flood of info you will likely get.

In wego, I get contact icons, I get flashing icons for my units if they are taking fire or casualties, I see tracers and hear various weapons sounds that are directional. The game gives me a ton of info to process to develop my situational awareness. How you play the game determines how much of that info you actually process and make use of. Watching Chris play on twitch is an interesting experience for me. I realize he is only half playing as he is spending time answering questions etc and monitoring his output. Still it is funny when I see something happen and the game clearly shows it, but he misses it because he is focused on the presentation. The situational awareness info is there, you just need to make use of it.

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Steve, get a grip.  I specified TEXT messages.  You know, the things kids do these days with their phone?  Well, Blue Force Tracker, aka BFT now BFT2, allows our guys (and other SA battlefield networks do the same for other nations) to send texts to one another, as well as to their higher HQ.  They can also send icons, graphical overlays, preformatted call for fires, SITREPs, FRAGOs, full OPORDs, pictures of the enemy through their sights, etc...  I don't give a hoot for audio files.  I want a way to communicate with the player beyond mere icons, in the midst of play.  A new message pops up and says, "HEY, KNUCKLEHEAD, ENEMY COUNTERATTACK COMING FROM THE LEFT, ANY SECOND!"    Dreday is talking more about a flavor type message, where routine message traffic would be simulated, in order to provide a nice background.  "GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456.  ENGAGING. OUT.:" or similar.  Not that hard to put into scripts for the TAC AI to plug in at appropriate junctions.  

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Now we are talking about two different things.

One is a permanent flow of information: A way for the player to realise what is going on without having to watch everything all the time. I voiced my opinion about that one above.

 

Now we are talkng about triggered textmessages implemented by the scenario designer.

 

That one I'd find great. It would give every scenario designer the possibility to form a scenario. Especially in campaigns, where you only fight with one side this could add something unique to the battle. Stuff happening outside the actual battlefield could have an impact.

 

And it would only need small changes. Everything we need is inside the game already.

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Just to be clear - I am not claiming to know what a perfect solution for the current lack of a situational awarness would be - I would imagine it to be some kind of a mix of audio, text, and graphical (special icons, arrows, etc) indicators. My bigger concearn is that this needs to be somehow addressed as it is a major limitation of an otherwise amazig game engine. I don't know if Battlefront is currently working on it (I would like to hope that they are); but any suggestions that we can come up with here would probably be appreciated as well....

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Just to be clear - I am not claiming to know what a perfect solution for the current lack of a situational awarness would be - I would imagine it to be some kind of a mix of audio, text, and graphical (special icons, arrows, etc) indicators. My bigger concearn is that this needs to be somehow addressed as it is a major limitation of an otherwise amazig game engine. I don't know if Battlefront is currently working on it (I would like to hope that they are); but any suggestions that we can come up with here would probably be appreciated as well....

 

I don't find this to be a limitation, especially in WE-GO where you have the opportunity to rewind a turn over and over as much as you want. As for real-time in-game text pop-ups would be useful, but you can also pause during real-time to assess the situation.

 

Situational awareness isn't lacking either if you know what to look for as sburke has already explained in his post (flashing icons, ETC). Is player information something that can be improved upon? absolutely, but to call it a "lack" of situational awareness and a "major" limitation is just silly.

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Okay holding tight on mouse......nothing is happening. Damn thing is probably broke.

How many kids do you know communicate with some 70+ other kids in text messages while trying to run a battle? No a real battle, not world of tanks.  ;)

I understand the point and bow to your far far better knowledge, however answer me honestly-  is there any individual in a Bn size force who is going to be getting messages from every unit in the entire Bn with a live feed to see exactly what they are seeing anywhere on the battlefield from any angle repeatedly in slow motion. Hell is there anyone even within a company sized task force who gets as much info as we get already? Just exactly where is the threshold of far far too much information?  We already have too little FOW.  You commented in another thread about the reaction of your average soldier in combat and the propensity for mistakes.  I agree with your comment in that thread about that being such a wonderful part of CM.

It is a far cry however from situation updates from every unit you have on the map. Another example, a tank rolls across laterally in front of your men in and out of sight. You are now looking at multiple updates from every one of your units that can see it. Requests like this really need to be thought out as to how they will work in game as it very likely will not be what one is going to expect. Dreday and you are I believe talking about two very different things. Dreday is looking for a data feed on activity as sort of a status alert on what is occurring around the battlefield. See Vinnart's reply above on a previous proposal to at least have a full overview of your units status.  I don't think that is quite what Dreday is hoping for.  His request seems more an activity alert than a simple status display.  You on the other hand are looking to have the editor add flavor to the player to more fully immerse them in the battlefield as if higher command is issuing orders, alerts etc.
 
Seriously I do understand your intent - if you look at Out on a Limb in the MG release, I did exactly that with a touch point. The player hits the position and essentially gets a text radio message on when they might expect the rest of the company to show up. Unfortunately it is a one trick pony, but what the hell I wanted to try it.  I also messed around in Venafro trying to make the player's objectives (collecting intel) a bit more variable to allow for replay value and ran into some hard limitations on what you can and can not vary in objective locations etc.  It isn't that I wouldn't like to see this sort of thing, I just think there is a line on what we can realistically expect from the engine.

You say it is not that difficult to put in scripts for the TAC AI, I would actually defer judgement on that to Charles. My expectation is his answer would be quite different. In essence these would have to be trigger based messages. What is going to trigger that message? One scout in a Tigr hits your trigger and you get "GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456. ENGAGING. OUT.:". The game is not going to be context sensitive enough to do more than that.  The addition of triggers is very very cool and adds a lot of flexibility, but it is still heavily planned flexibility.  Even with them I think you will find like I did in Out on a Limb, that it becomes a rather unsatisfying one trick pony.
 
At this point I bow out.  I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, just wanted to keep expectations within what CM is going to present for either of the two options.

Edited by sburke
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Here is my 2 cents, it probably not worth that much.  The could use a specified button to kick to an alternate screen.  This screen should be as simple as possible and show the facing of all units, which is hard to tell now.  Their should a blink/color code of. recent casualties and recent out going fire. which it already sort of has.  A level nine view of the map with all base turning into very bright arrows might work.  If they ever redo the whole UI I will ad more on the subject, but until then I have a feeling a lot of this is going its nice, but list.  Of course If Panzrldr's employer wants to write the kind of check that will increase the size of the programming staff by a factor of ten, or twenty five, then a LOT of things will become possible.  Of course you will probably have to be in the military to play too.

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I very much agree with sburke's post #12 as to the potential can of worms. Then again, I'm a Wego player, too. So, situational awareness is really not an issue for me--no matter what the battle size.

 

Of course, for RT players, battle size has a huge impact and situational awareness quickly becomes an issue. Still, I would think the last thing you'd want would be a vomit of text or audio messages bombarding you.

 

It seems to me that a much more elegant solution that is faster to digest, much easier to code and crunch for the computer would be a toggle-able floating overhead map with symbols, colors and light-levels to denote the info. New contact? There it is on the map with a simple sound alert (maybe click on it and jump to). Where are your units, which direction are they facing and what is their status? Icons show them, their direction, and color/fade shows status. Something like that. 

 

Actually, that's pretty much what GT:OS has. That's a game that I don't like and have uninstalled after very little play.

 

However, if your criteria are:

  1. Must be real-time.
  2. Must be big battles with adequate situational awareness.

Then, I think a floating map system would be light years better than text/audio chatter.

 

Still, I'm not sure if that is what CM should be. Like sburke said, you're not just the overall commander. You are all the commanders from single-man team to multi-man team on up the command chain. Combining a ton of info tools on top of the god-view we already have seems problematic.

 

Before anyone thinks about this project...I'd really like to have resources spent on making the infantry animations more life-like and varied.

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I always liked the feature in close combat. The way pnzrldr explained it would really fit a modern combat mission title. (GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456.  ENGAGING. OUT.)

It would really help (me) to keep up with, what's overall going on. 

 

The userinterface could really need some refactoring. This would be a nice addition. 

 

Close_Combat_2_battle.jpg

close-combat-a-bridge-too-far_3.jpg

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Steve, get a grip.  I specified TEXT messages.  You know, the things kids do these days with their phone?  Well, Blue Force Tracker, aka BFT now BFT2, allows our guys (and other SA battlefield networks do the same for other nations) to send texts to one another, as well as to their higher HQ.  They can also send icons, graphical overlays, preformatted call for fires, SITREPs, FRAGOs, full OPORDs, pictures of the enemy through their sights, etc...  I don't give a hoot for audio files.  I want a way to communicate with the player beyond mere icons, in the midst of play.  A new message pops up and says, "HEY, KNUCKLEHEAD, ENEMY COUNTERATTACK COMING FROM THE LEFT, ANY SECOND!"    Dreday is talking more about a flavor type message, where routine message traffic would be simulated, in order to provide a nice background.  "GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456.  ENGAGING. OUT.:" or similar.  Not that hard to put into scripts for the TAC AI to plug in at appropriate junctions.  

 

With scripts I know this is possible from my experience with the Sudden Strike editor, which had triggers like we have now. A light radio squelch sound would be good to accompany and alert the player to notice the text. I agree this would be a good tool for map makers, and would give some more immersion to the player acting as the commander of the force. This would be exceptional helpful during tutorial missions for new players to give prompts through out the battle for more depth guidance.  I would suggest this to the powers that be if you  have not already. I do not believe this should be too hard to do providing there are triggers now programmed into the game.

 

What Dreday, and we all want, and need is the Roster to solve the situational problems especially associated with playing the game in real time mode. Although my concept is geared mostly to REAL TIME play, WEGO would find the reports it generates efficient, and helpful. In gathering situation awareness in general playing RT mode is very different in being able to mange, and know what is going on than WEGO for sure. This game has much more potential to explore with RT mode than it has now.

Edited by Vinnart
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... The way pnzrldr explained it would really fit a modern combat mission title. (GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456.  ENGAGING. OUT.)

... 

 

 

Thing is - do you know who GREEN TWO is ? Do you know where GREEN TWO is ?

 

I'd still have to look for it, which is pretty much what I'm doing anyway ( granted I'm a WEGO player, so I'm watching the whole battlefield and then more localised views )

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I always liked the feature in close combat. The way pnzrldr explained it would really fit a modern combat mission title. (GREEN TWO, CONTACT 2 BMPS, VIC GRID CN123456.  ENGAGING. OUT.)

It would really help (me) to keep up with, what's overall going on. 

 

The userinterface could really need some refactoring. This would be a nice addition. 

 

 

 

What pnzrlder wants I believe is someway to communicate with the player as a scenario designer. Texts that appear prompted by triggers.

 

In regard to what I believe the OP wants texts in reports from units could be fine for WEGO type play, but are not as efficient for REAL TIME mode of play than symbols. The reason why is that the brain processes reading and seeing symbols differently. Imagine the Roster design using lines of texts instead of symbols. One would never be able to decipher the information at the glance.

Edited by Vinnart
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"Lack of situational awareness"

This is simply a misunderstanding. The force commander in a CM game has far greater situational awareness in any mode of CM than any commander at the same level ever had, and likely ever will have in real life. You just get that situational awareness via the 3d modelling engine that has been so painstakingly created. That the situational awareness of a WeGo commander is probably closer to perfect than that of Realtime player is entirely down to the frequency of use of the Pause key. So any additional interface elements would be vitally essential only to those who won't use the pause key or don't have the same opportunity to use it because they're playing HvH realtime.

But still, a Realtime player, even denied the use of the pause key can know far more about their force than a real commander in the heat of combat, though some of that information might be different to the kind of "notification" the RL commander would have.

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