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Ok, next up is, I'm trying to build a scenario that uses mostly tanks (ignore the infantry for now in this question - at some point the reasons will become clear). I have 4 tanks going across an open area. There is a road but the area is so open, the road isn't of much assistance to them, although after a bit they seem to use it. Anyway, I'm trying to get them to stick to the road, and to go in a single column. All 4 are in the same group and the setup has them in single file in the setup zone. To try and get them to follow the road, I issue orders at each turn in the road, with the start/end times as 00:00.

First issue is almost invariably the lead tank in the group at the start just sits there and everyone else tries to go around him. It doesn't seem to matter who I put up front, they always seem to be the last to start going. I've tried shuffling the order of them, spacing them further out, I even tried giving the driver a cup of very strong coffee to wake him up, but no go. So as a result, all the tanks get in each others' way and bunch up massively (two of them even got into a shoving match with each other - almost thought I was watching a hockey game for a moment 😡). 

The second issue is, I know getting units from A to B is not an exact science with the AI (as in, they won't follow a straight line as though you were giving them a MOVE order - they'll just get there any way they can), but is there a way I can get them to maintain a column and follow the road at all using the AI?

Third issue is, the lead tank, a ways in, gets creamed by an enemy unit. Ok, it's kind of an ambush and that's not necessarily bad. However, the second tank comes up behind it, stops, then turns (placing his butt to the enemy shooting at them) to go around the tank but of course doesn't make it because suddenly a huge dose of Prep H won't even help his arse end (as in, he's on fire).  This is then followed by the 4th tank with the same results. None of them seem to think that maybe it would be a good idea to look around and maybe, oh, I don't know, shoot back? 👀 Novel idea, I know, but at some point it might be one worth exploring.

So, based on what you see here, any suggestions on how to program tanks in the AI? At some point I'd like to get to where there is this big tank battle in the open plains, which means both sides have to start shooting. It's much more "interesting" that way ;) .

Thanks again (I'll get it eventually, I promise ;) ). 

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Have you tried to add more AI-orders and space them closer together...Might help with the road following.

What order have you given the AI group ? Advance ? quick ? dash ? or something else...

How much space do you have between the vehicles ?

Getting a single AI-group to perform well when it comes under fire or get interupted for some other reason is tricky,,,as is getting the AI to use clever formations and bounding...It can be most frustrating to try and tweak these things...To make things even worse...There is some sort of randomness to how the AI will act...so if you think you have gotten a nice solution there is no garantee that the AI will act in a simular way the next time you play the scenario...

To get good controll of the AI smaller AI groups are preferable imo...An AI group with only 4 vehicles may not seem very big but unfortunatelly it can become tricky to get the AI troopers to do what you want.

 

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@Glubokii Boy, I actually started out with orders for each turn in the road. Even though I painted in a fairly long order location (not sure the technical term for it but you paint in the position you want them to finish in - yellow paint), they did go there ok but all bunched up together. I used the standard "advance" order.

@MikeyD, initially they were fairly close together (a tank length between them perhaps). At that time they were not in sight of the enemy and were not "expecting" an enemy attack (this will be a meeting engagement that will be a surprise to both sides).

I think basically what you are both telling me is to make each tank a group and issue shorter distances for each order, if I'm reading this right. I'll give it a shot (no pun.. well, maybe just a little) and see what happens. That, I hope, will also clue them in to actually fight when something comes up on them. H2H this would be a pretty decent little scenario, which once it's done will likely be released with that option.

Thanks a bunch people! Really appreciate it. I'll let you know... 

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Any order other then QUICK or DASH will use bounded movement. That is probably the reason for your first vehicle not moving out as you desire.

If these tanks are not likely to come under direct fire you might try to use the QUICK AI order. This way they should all start their movement right away...It might make things somewhat better if you keep the larger AI-group (all 4 vehicles). 

 

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Getting the AI to convoy convincingly (e.g., for a convoy) is quite hard. For the Salang Blues campaign for CM:A (which is mostly convoy ambushes), the designer couldn't solve it, so put in low walls along the road to keep the trucks in place.

I do think in general it's worth being "lumpy" with your plans - give the crucial stuff more detailed, individual plans, but letting the AI manage the broader stuff more loosely.

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It is decidedly tough to pull this off in a way that looks realistic (if the player indeed sees it). Timing and the pace of the order seems the best combination to focus on. I agree with others here - It does help to divide the forces into smaller, and if possible, individual units for the AI Plan for this.

Maybe try:

-Give the lead tank a "Dash" order at 0:00 (let's just use this time for example)

-Second tank a "Quick" order at 0:30

-Third tank "Advance" at 1:00

And so on, through the group. The timing helps avoid the units bunching up and competing with each other.

Shorter spacing between AI orders will help them stick to the road. Take care as to about when you will have contact with the player. If the goal is to simulate an ambush, the AI can barrel through. If the goal is to have an AI that is scanning for an enemy, having the individual units fan out at some point will probably help their survivability when the enemy shows.

The terrain on the sides of the road can help or hurt the AI's chances of the tanks staying in line, or also being able to go around if their compatriots are knocked out.

33 minutes ago, domfluff said:

give the crucial stuff more detailed, individual plans, but letting the AI manage the broader stuff more loosely.

Sound advice. Most of the best working AI plans allow the AI some choices. This is one area it needs some direction and focused AI location watching, in my experience. Think like a player/historical counterpart when doing any plan - Roads are both useful in different conditions, and a beacon for an enemy that will always expect them to be used.

Last would be to watch the Height values (hotkey "e" in Map Editor/AI Editor). That is very helpful for looking for hull-down positions, or covered approaches for the AI.

Then, Scenario Author Mode/Turn-Based, and run and re-run the thing, and adjust, ad infinitum. Until it works, or doesn't!

Edited by benpark
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When moving armor you should almost always use the DASH command - almost to the total exclusion of anything else.  The tanks will be more effective if a group of tanks all arrive at the destination at a similar point in time so that they can all engage any threats that are spotted.  If you use ADVANCE or even QUICK then the tanks will show up individually and just get picked off.  DASH will also let your vehicles move down roads the way you want to.  If possible you should put tanks into AI groups individually - so one tank = one AI group.  If you don't have enough groups available to do that then you should make your AI groups as small as possible.  Modern tanks can fire accurately at speed so there is almost never a reason to have them not moving at DASH.  WW2 vehicles can't fire on the move like that, but at least you can get them all to their destinations as one group thus reducing the risk of getting them picked off one at a time.  So DASH is your friend when using vehicles.  About the only time I would use something other than DASH would be if you are crossing a large open field in range of enemy units.  So long as all your vehicles are already in range of the enemy then you can use something like QUICK or ADVANCE, but otherwise DASH.  Did I mention that you should be using DASH for vehicles?  Yes, DASH is what you want to use in almost every circumstance.

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Great stuff - thank you people. We are making some progress, but as this is wide open territory, sticking to the roads is pretty much impossible it seems. That said, I'm not sure in retrospect that will matter in this scenario. I kind of wanted to keep it a surprise in case this gets released, but probably that's going to hinder getting this right. Basically it's a North Africa Scenario for 1943 between the Germans and the British. It's not meant to be an ambush per se (I sort of have it set that way for now to see how to get the defenders to engage, but that setup will not be present in the actual finished scenario), but a surprise encounter between the two forces. So given the terrain, the road is almost a moot point and putting up walls, etc. wouldn't be appropriate. 

I'm going to come back to it in a couple of hours as my head is hurting at the moment :D . I am getting there, but this part is a lot harder than I thought. I'll take it step by step based on what you folks have written. Many thanks!

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6 minutes ago, ASL Veteran said:

will show up individually and just get picked off

@ASL Veteran Yup, I'm REEEEL good at that :D :D !!!! Once this gets figured out, their distance moved will actually not be that great before they encounter the enemy. At that point I'll have to figure out how to get them to shoot back (one of them did, once. That was about it for him though :( ). However, stepping stones. I'm still in Kindergarten with the AI yet, so all this is helping immensely. I've noted your recommendations and will work on this for sure. 

Just one question though - is there ever a time when you'd use a DASH command with a tank (ok, KIDDING!! <LOL>). Seriously though, this is good stuff - thank you!

(PS - probably like most people here, I LOVED ASL! I'm sorry I lost track of that set - had the complete set at one time :( )

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2 hours ago, Vacilllator said:

apart from the huge rule book

Rule book 😳???? They had one of those??? :D 

Ok, I think for this to work and based off what I'm seeing here, I'm going to modify my map first. That will be key to making this work. Then tomorrow I'll start back in with a new AI, again based from what I'm seeing here. I think that should fix several of my problems. No doubt I'll be back here tomorrow with more questions ;) .

Thanks again :) 

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2 hours ago, Vacilllator said:

Sorry, but 'was ist Dash'?  In my WW2 titles I have 'Quick' and 'Fast' but no 'Dash'.  Is it a modern thang?

And yes ASL was very good, apart from the huge rule book which we tried to ignore when it served  our purposes 🙃.

It is a dropdown command in the AI editor part of the scenario editor. Not your UI during the game.

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Also the way the AI moves groups is sub-optimal.  You'll find situations where you want to move a group of say four tanks (call it AI group A2) 100m or so further forward from their last waypoint and it'll do something crazy like move the tank on the extreme right of the first waypoint to the extreme left of the second waypoint and the tank on the extreme left of the first waypoint to the extreme right of the second waypoint ... or what I call the cr@ppy crissy crossy behaviour.  We're trying to get it changed.

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2 hours ago, Combatintman said:

Also the way the AI moves groups is sub-optimal.  You'll find situations where you want to move a group of say four tanks (call it AI group A2) 100m or so further forward from their last waypoint and it'll do something crazy like move the tank on the extreme right of the first waypoint to the extreme left of the second waypoint and the tank on the extreme left of the first waypoint to the extreme right of the second waypoint ... or what I call the cr@ppy crissy crossy behaviour.  We're trying to get it changed.

Yepp...This criss-cross behavior many times ruins AI infantry movement also. It's really bad ! 🥴 It looks wierd and it is tactically...far from ideal.

Hopefully a fix could be found...Or even better...More AI-groups !!! 😊

 

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Yeah, more than once I've had infantry run to a location under fire, drop down in cover, only to get up again while still being fired on to change face and move to the other side of the square. They tend to get somewhat dead as they do so 😟. I'll see what I can do with these guys I guess. For what I'm trying to do, movement may be just one of a number of issues in regards to the AI. For H2H, it will work perfectly, I suspect ;) . I do have each tank at the moment as a separate group, so hopefully that will help.

Edited by Canuck21
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It can indeed be tricky to get the AI to perform as one would like. Imo one thing you could do to atleast limit the AI suicidal tendances is to keep the AI troops advance pretty narrow. If they advance on a broad front (using the same AI group) criss-crossing will be almost garantied.

You will need to considder if its worth it for the AI group to cover a wide area and risk criss-crossing or if you instead use a somewhat more narrow front for that particular AI-group. It may not be what you intially had wanted but in the end it may very well prove to be a better choise for your AI troops.

For example...If you have an AI group you intend to have advance up a street. You initially intended for it to advance on both side of the street. You will need to considder if this is really neccesary or if they could instead advance on only one side of the street. This will atleast avoid seeing the AI troops criss-crossing over the street as they advance and getting gunned down crossing that danger area over and over agian. It might not be exactelly what you want but you will need to find compromises to be able to handle the AI programing. Nice things can be done with it but unfortunatelly it is a bit tricky. Especially when first starting out. You will learn more and more tricks with experience. 

 

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@Glubokii Boy - actually what you are describing is exactly what I'm trying to get. I *would* rather the Infantry go down one side of the street only, or in the present case, the armour track across the desert in single file (initially) while on the road. That's the part I'm having trouble with and have pretty much given up on for this scenario. I may get it figured out for later, but we'll see.

@Combatintman - That's a good point. This scenario is a bit different from others I've seen though, where it's a meeting engagement, and one that comes as a complete surprise to both. As such, I'm trying to get both sides in a "relaxed" formation as they move across the desert. Neither knows, or expects the other to be there as they are both returning from a battle and rather beat up. It's pure chance that they happen among each other when they do, and hopefully when they do, there's a lot of scrambling as all hell breaks loose. Now that's the premise. Whether I can pull it off or not is up for grabs ;) . Anyway, that's why I'm trying to get them "formed up" in some sort of semi-disciplined formation as they each head to their home ports of call. It's entirely possible that what I'm trying to do, can't be done though. Still I'm going to work at it this morning and see what I can come up with.

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Well, I seem to be getting more confused with each test I do. For example, I wiped out all the orders for 1 of the 2 tanks I am using to test things with. I then gave it 2 orders, one which took it a short distance, and the second order took it the rest of the way across the map. With the second tank, I gave it an initial wait time of 00:30 to 01:00 then did a similar orders pattern, with all the following order times of 00:00 and 00:00. The second tank (A2) started at the same time as the first (A1), which was immediately, and both started across the map. However, it looks like the orders from before were never wiped as they made several stops with turns as they made their way across the map. When I look at the next movement phase between turns, both tanks were showing yellow movement lines to the next orders point, which shouldn't be there. The movement order was for a Max Assault (not ignoring what @Glubokii Boy said above, but I'm testing to see why these guys aren't returning fire when getting shot at). Both tanks got shot at, neither returned fire or even turned to look at the enemy. They were a long way off admittedly, but still, the second tank passed right by the burning first tank without even looking around, although he did button up when he started getting shot at, but still continued on his merry way. It looks to me like while I deleted the previous orders then saved the scenario again, then restarted the battle, like the previous orders were still being followed. I confirmed the orders in the Editor and they were as I entered them, but they are definitely following the old orders pattern when testing it as a battle. This has happened repeatedly now, so there's something I'm missing. Any ideas?

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Canuck21...Did your tanks actually see the enemy. You can check this when wiewing in scenario testing mode just in the same way as you can check this when actually playing a scenario. simply click on one of the tanks and any enemy unit incon that that clicked unit is able to see will be shown as a brighter colour.

Besides the ORDER choises you also have the 'stance' setting below. ACTIVE, NORMAL and CAUTIOUS...this setting will also to some degree influence the AIs willingness to open fire.

But you are right about MAX ASSULT...that should give the highest priority to the AI to open fire...

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, kohlenklau said:

You'll have a PhD in this stuff before too long!

@kohlenklauSo far, all I have is a visit from some very nice people that want to give me a new coat and are insisting I wear it. I don't think much of their tailors though - the sleeves are way too long. They seem to have anticipated this because they have buckles on them to "shorten" them :D :D :D ! Sheesh!! Yes, I only have the one plan in (good thought!), and I have checked that the plan actually is for the side that I want to have it 😂. Of course, I would *never* make a plan for the wrong side myself. I've heard others do, but I would never do that myself 🤥 (and if you believe me, I have some really nice "waterfront" property to sell you :D ). 

@Glubokii Boy They can see them after they've got about 2/3rds the way across the map, and they will swing the turrets and shoot at them now. I've set the enemy to having a target arc so they won't shoot at my guys. Before I did that, my guys were getting creamed before they could do anything about it (shots were coming from the port rear quarter so they were sitting ducks). On the Stance settings, I've been experimenting with those. Probably for this scenario I'll go with Assault, given that it is a surprise for these guys to meet up and they wouldn't be expecting it, but at the same time I want them to engage in a tank battle. I have tried a couple of battles where I take one of the enemy tanks out after them and that does seem to get their attention a lot faster, so some of my testing results when not doing that, I'm not too worried about. I'll deal with that once I get the movement sorted out.

So I am actually making progress. What I've found is that these guys make their own routes across the map. When I give them a "Go Here" command that is all the way across the map, they seem to take all kinds of different routes to get there, with lots of twists and turns in the process, much like what @Combatintman was saying above, but in between stops/order points. The trouble is, they are close enough to each other (they all have discrete end points but those are not that far apart) that they bump into each other almost the whole way across the map. It is almost comical to see. Slapstick comedy was never this good on TV! It's akin to watching 2 dingy's crash into each other in the middle of the ocean. This is what I was incorrectly referring to above when I suggested these guys were following old orders that I had removed. It's not that as much as just choosing their own routes, but exactly on what, I'm not sure because they are not in sight of the enemy when doing this. So the key here I think will be shorter and more frequent orders, although I'm not convinced even that will do it. What I don't like about that is that it means a lot of stopping and starting, which isn't too realistic for this scenario; and that's even with the Times set to all 0's. By the by, I have done as @ASL Veteran (and others I think) have suggested and have 1 tank per AI Group. Now I have tried the timing method as @benpark suggested, and there's something there I'm not quite understanding. I set the Setup for 00:30 / 01:00, but these guys move immediately once I hit the GO button. I thought they would wait for 30s to 1m before moving. Is that for the following order (as in when the get to the Order 2 stop, THEN they wait that time)? You are correct of course Ben, that would help prevent bunching, but there is a problem too with mixed tank types - some are faster and they are catching up and cutting off the slower tanks (I think I see the doctor coming with my meds that I started taking when I started doing all this 🥴). If I can nail this down a bit, that may solve a lot of problems.

Anyway, onwards and forwards (I hope). We'll stay with it. It may not come out as elegantly as I'd like, but I'll get *something* out of it ;) . Thanks again for all the help :) .

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With regards to movement....If you are using ONE AI group per tank....Do this ! 😎

When you paint the area for your orders (the yellow filles boxes)...Only paint ONE grid square for each order. This way you will get controll of where the AI tank will move. It WILL move to that location and not wander off.  If you are using one of the bounded movements it might possibly temporarely stop somewhere mid between to order-locations...and then move on to your disgnated grid square...but if you use quick or dash it should move straight towards the location you have specified and go as far as it can in a single turn (minute).

Also...To increase the controll of how and where the AI tanks move...Use many orders. You have 32 avaliable for each AI group. You might as well use them. The more complicated the terrain is the more tightely you place them...The main point is...Don't use long distances between each AI order location...The longer the distance the greater the chans is that the AI will get some 'stupid' 😉 idea of its own.

Keep the AI-orders tight and use ONE hex grid /order...This will give you decent controll 😎

If your AI group contains more then one unit increase the size of the AI-order...but only slightely...

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