Jump to content

Squad retreat mechanic


Recommended Posts

So I've played through the SF2 demo, 'demo' doesn't really give the amount of content justice, for the most part I've really enjoyed the game with only few relatively minor issues. However unfortunately there is one problem so egregious I just can't get my head around it and that's the squad retreat mechanic.

Time and again squads when under fire just break and run off in a seemingly random direction, cover be damned. I've never served but it seems to me the only time a trained soldier would risk abandoning cover and running off would be if he is absolutely convinced he's about to eat lead. Yet in the game even Veteran troops, under a modicum of fire, who have suffered maybe one casualty or even none at all,  break and run for it. They're not even in a panic but merely 'cautious'.

One example in the Alamo scenario.Three squads abandon their position after engaging an enemy squad at close range. Most of the enemy had surrendered and there was no incoming fire at all by that turn. Yet they cut and ran off despite none of them being in a panic. Naturally straight into an enemy squad who took them out. I reloaded the turn and it turned out their own fire, I had an area target 30 meters away where the remnants of the enemy were, was what had triggered them into running off!

It's also reared it's ugly head when moving troops back that are under fire. In the Breaking the bank scenario a few squads were in a building when two of them came under fire and I ordered them all to slow move back one room. Three of them all Veteran, none in a panic then proceeded to run down multiple flights of stairs, out the door across the road into an open field where they were later mowed down. Two pics illustrating it.

CM-Shock-Force-2-Demo-2019-01-16-12-28-5

CM-Shock-Force-2-Demo-2019-01-16-12-29-5


I've witnessed countless other examples of this behavior which is so out sync a game that gets so many aspects right about warfare. Hopefully it's something that's being looked into as I can't see  myself purchasing SF2 as is. Which is a shame.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I play around with CMSF a lot with the full game and I am not having that same experience. I have had some individual cases but usually there is some set of circumstances that leaves me with the view that the behavior is plausible given what the units knowledge is versus my full battlefield knowledge. 

In the example you were using of that area fire by 3 squads if they are tossing grenades and the room is adjacent yeah I could see that freakin out troops. If I see grenades flying and I don’t necessarily know they are from my guys......  again your knowledge of what is happening is likely superior to that of your pixeltruppen  

Countless is a pretty strong word for only playing the demo. However if you feel you are seeing it enough to affect your purchasing decision that is certainly a justifiable reaction. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Apologies for the hyperbole but it was born out of frustration. Then again counting isn't a personal strength. Lets just say it's happened more times than tolerable given the dire consequences in terms of casualties. Especially for a particularly casualty adverse player.

I see your point about the pixeltruppen's view of the battle verses the players and you're right. However I still think the troops are over reacting. A short organized retreat behind cover, yes. However running off into the distance in a seemingly random direction doesn't seem right. Green troops panicked and disorientated okay but calm veterans? I understand there might be game limitations to deal with but it does seem serious gameplay issue.  To me anyway.

I've done a little more testing and captured a clip of what I'm talking about . That's if you'll  excuse the potato quality.  As you'll see the squad is not suppressed but when implementing their area target order into an adjacent room they become suppressed from their own fire and when one soldier throws in a grenade and it explodes they all make a run for it. In the same direction as the explosion.....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIiHFLzI3Xk&feature=youtu.be&ytbChannel=null

 

 

Edited by AlanSA
Link to post
Share on other sites

No worries. We all have our moments and the AI is what it is.  There are limitations and sometimes they express themselves in screen punching moments. 😁

fyi the video is showing as unavailable. 

If you have a save that is a better option.  I know the scenario in question and part of the issue there may be that the space is completely enclosed with only one exit so depending on what the AI thinks it is trying to do, its pathing options are very limited. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some players want their troops to act like Rambo then are disappointed when they don't. They forget the original 'First Blood' Rambo was PTSD'd up to his eyeballs from his combat trauma experiences. Game units after a close-in melee fight will sometimes conclude discretion is the better out of valor and relocate to 'anywhere but here' to calm down for a bit. Especially units out of contact with their leaders. Its an indication that you've pressed your men too hard. As to running into the enemy while attempting to relocate, welcome to confused urban fighting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no doubt some players think that. However I don't. I've made an attempt at constructive criticism of an issue I have with the game and I'd appreciate constructive replies. Hopefully that's not too much to ask.

The Youtube link is working now.

 

Edited by AlanSA
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, AlanSA said:

I have no doubt some players think that. However I don't. I've made an attempt at constructive criticism of an issue I have with the game and I'd appreciate constructive replies. Hopefully that's not too much to ask.

 

Hey Alan.  The video seems to be showing now.  The only things I can note in that video is there is what appears to be an enemy unit on the floor above that is a very recent casualty so I assume the turn before there was more of a firefight.  In addition the team leader at the start of the turn is cowering.  Why they would have chosen that direction to bug out to I can't say, but there seems to be a bit going on there that may be the source of their decision to bug out.  C2 on the other hand looks good.

I ran a quick test with a good order unit firing into an adjacent room and there is no ill effect so I wouldn't say the firing alone is the source of the AIs decision.  It could very well be that is coincidental and regardless of the target command they would have been bugging out anyway this turn based on whatever happened the previous turn.  Hard to say.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, MikeyD said:

 Game units after a close-in melee fight will sometimes conclude discretion is the better out of valor and relocate to 'anywhere but here' to calm down for a bit. Especially units out of contact with their leaders. Its an indication that you've pressed your men too hard.

Lately, though, from my own personal experiences, this mechanic seems to be a little out of whack (Game engine 4 tweaks?).

My troops, regardless, if it's trauma from close combat or crew members surviving their vehicle's destruction, that become "Broken" will run, ridiculously, all over the map and will remain in their "Broken" state for longer periods of time than what I seem to recall in earlier game versions.

It would be nice if those troops could be brought under control (subdued, surrendered, killed) after contacting a bordering hex that is occupied by allied or enemy troops, also, when coming in contact with allied troops in a bordering hex, that is linked to a HQ unit, they'd become glued (subdued) in their hex, until, they come out of their broken or panicked state.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, possible explanation could be in really old coding. If there's coding from say CMBO (CMx1), one of the rules in Advanced Squad Leader (ASL), upon which CM is based, was that a unit had to retreat to the nearest cover within (n) number of hexes, even if that brought the unit to a hex adjacent to the enemy. Now before everyone poopoos that thought, CM began by Steve and Charles as an attempt to develop a PC version of ASL for Avalon Hill or Hasbro, whichever owned the rights to ASL at that time. Perhaps there is an errant line of reused code that's been hidden since that time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Troops behaving strangely under fire has been a known issue since Game Engine 4 was released. If I recall correctly, the intent was to make troops be more intelligent about avoiding fire. Sometimes this works well, with troops changing their "quick" or "move" commands to "fast" commands when a shell lands near them or if they're peppered with MG fire. But one of the consequences seems to be that troops are too willing to change positions when under fire. Even more concerning is that they'll frequently leave cover when fired upon, which makes little sense even if we do agree that our pixeltroops shouldn't behave like Rambo. This has been pointed out in numerous threads:

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/124910-has-40-made-the-stock-campaigns-unplayable/

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/124976-how-can-i-prevent-infantry-running-away/

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/124998-infantry-breaking-to-easily-in-40/

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/124569-infantry-behavior-under-arty-bombardment-in-cmbs-40/

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/124173-40-infantry-ai/ <- somewhat related, more about infantry sneaking when under fire.

It'd be good to have a tweak that makes it so that when fired upon infantry retreat to cover if they're in the open, but keep their heads down and stay put if they're already in cover.

Some people say that if you give troops a "pause" order this will prevent them from running away, unless their morale goes as far down as "panic" or "broken".

Edited by Manfredo
Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it is important to be sure we are talking about the same thing. 4.0 behavior changed for a specific case. HE fire. The intended goal was for troops to do what people here hoped. Unfortunately it has troops leaving good cover instead of staying put. I don’t know that it has anything to do with the specific incident here. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately, it's all too common an occurrence to see troops running in the open in close terrain. I think this is a side effect of the more dispersed formation grouping taxing the pathfinding. Sometimes the retreat (slow/fast) displaces them in the same building resulting in either a SLOW or FAST down to the ground floor. This tends to happen when the troops are stationary. Other times this waypoint is placed 30-50m in the open which is where the problem is most acutely felt in urban/close fighting. This tends to happen during movement when the formation is more dispersed. The troops will ignore any intervening cover until they reach this waypoint (rally point?).

Perhaps, the AI is keying a (standard) 20m 'withdrawal' point on the lead or trail element/man which appears to result in a 30-50m distance.

I say pathfinding because we've all had issues getting teams into breaches and other tight spots. I also don't believe a fix is an easy one. Otherwise, we wouldn't be talking about this a year later...

It's particularly frustrating when this occurs early in the WEGO playback. All we can do is hope the minute runs fast so we can save what's left of the element...

Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Howler said:

Unfortunately, it's all too common an occurrence to see troops running in the open in close terrain. I think this is a side effect of the more dispersed formation grouping taxing the pathfinding. Sometimes the retreat (slow/fast) displaces them in the same building resulting in either a SLOW or FAST down to the ground floor.

Have very rarely experienced this in the game and wonder if this has more to do with one's playing style - ie tactics.  What is great about CM series is that the AI makes one's men (re)act in a fairly realistic manner - at least most of the time imo.  Perhaps another player simply would not do what you are doing with your guys?  CM does not play like other entertainment products in which a player can "get away" with a lot more.

Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, Manfredo said:

Troops behaving strangely under fire has been a known issue since Game Engine 4 was released. If I recall correctly, the intent was to make troops be more intelligent about avoiding fire.

The v4 Engine upgrade had changes so that the TacAI would attempt to handle HE landing on troops or near troops better. The side effect was they also withdrew from small arms fire too (along with the issue of not staying in fox holes or other good cover). Those fixes have been made and the CMSF2 is the first to see those fixes.

Therefore the behaviour you see in CMSF2 is coming to the other games near you. This new behaviour is much improved over the initial v4 engine upgrade. Is it perfect, of course not and we should stay alert for things to work on.  BFC have still not implemented Mind Reading Decisions (tm) so we are stuck with the decisions that the AI makes.

 

31 minutes ago, Howler said:

Unfortunately, it's all too common an occurrence to see troops running in the open in close terrain. I think this is a side effect of the more dispersed formation grouping taxing the pathfinding. Sometimes the retreat (slow/fast) displaces them in the same building resulting in either a SLOW or FAST down to the ground floor. This tends to happen when the troops are stationary. Other times this waypoint is placed 30-50m in the open which is where the problem is most acutely felt in urban/close fighting. This tends to happen during movement when the formation is more dispersed. The troops will ignore any intervening cover until they reach this waypoint (rally point?).

I think @Howler had picked up on something that is the big thing that people are seeing - pathfinding. What i noticed while investigating the v4 side effects was that when the troops made the decision to withdraw they frequently chose their route very poorly. Not always but too often. Nailing that down was / is not easy and a few tweaks were made. Once the v4 withdrawal side effect issues was sorted that lowered the number of crappy pathfinding decisions while withdrawing to very few. Not because all the path finding issues were fixed but because there were less instances of plotting withdraw orders.

All of which is to say I think there are several things happening:

  • We are paying way more attention to these instances because of the v4 engine issues. I'm not saying that's bad its human nature just remember two things a) expecting every incident of withdrawing to be correctly chosen and correctly executed is just not reasonable and b) we should look for patterns and report goofy stuff
  • The actual choice to withdraw seems to be back to where they were before the v4 engine upgrade (in my opinion based on my testing) but people were not universally happy with that level even then. So, remember that more attention and people not being happy does not equate to an actual problem. It might, it's just that more people bitching is not actually evidence of a problem. ;)
  • Path-finding issues can make all of this much worse.

In my opinion any gains towards making this better are probably going to come from tweaks to the path-finding. But I think that is going to be a heavy lift. Side effects from tweaks to path-finding can be surprising. I plan to focus on some of the obvious ones in my upcoming testing - choice of building doors, movement around walls and fences those types of things.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@IanL, Agreed.

If it was easy - it would've been corrected by now. Again, the AI generates withdrawal waypoints and paths reasonably well. The problem is WEGO, troops decamping early in WEGO and said decamping occurring in dense urban settings. When it's 20m on down to the ground floor - no problem. It's more noticeable when it's 50m away from any cover down alleys/streets...

@Erwin, I'll try to play better.

Link to post
Share on other sites

So I've been looking at a possible workaround to this issue. Certainly seeing more incidences of squads fleeing from their own outgoing fire especially when a thrown grenade explode .

Seems to me that in the game there is one solution to two different situations. The first situation I'd call 'regrouping'. A squad that is at worst 'cautious/nervous' concluding they're in a possibly untenable situation and intending to fall back. The second is 'fleeing' when a squad is overwhlemed i.e panic status and is convinced bugging out is the only  solution. 

For both situations the game offers a fast move in a seemingly random direction for around 60 meters. Which is fine for the later but an overreaction, often with dire consequences, for the former. A possible solution would be to introduce a second retreat mechanic specifically for the first situation. Say a short 10 meter quick move order back where the squad came from. This I reckon would be a more proportional response. Obviously I'm not privy to engine limitations and other consequences to changes being implemented etc...

Link to post
Share on other sites

In the 1st screenshot of "Breaking the bank" have you checked if there are actual doors between the room your troops are in and the room they are supposed to move to? THis is very easy to miss especially with two building right next to each other like in that screenshot. If there are no doors then the AI would run all the way down, exit the building run to the entrance of the other building and all the way up.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...