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AI & Smoke?


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Posted (edited)

So, working on this scenario for CMFI + GL still. I'm doing an AI for both sides of an attack, but I'm not just sure about a few things. The defence I kind of have figured out but for the attacker, I'm having all levels of trouble. So, is there any way to get an on-board mortar (i.e. a light mortar team built into a platoon) to fire smoke using the AI? I understand that if using artillery, you need to program that in at the start, and there's no option to have it fire later in the scenario, but I don't know about the on-board units (such as mortars). 

I'm almost thinking that if you are using bigger guns and artillery, it's not worth doing an AI for a side with those as you're really limited in when and what you can do with them. I'm thinking tanks would be a better way to go for that sort of thing. Does that sound right or am I just suffering from inexperience here?

Thanks for the help advice in this area :) .

Oh, let me ask an even more basic question while I'm at it. When designing a scenario, do most of you start with what units you want to use then plan the scenario with those in mind, or do you plan the scenario first then decide what units you're going to use based on that? By that I mean, do you think that maybe you'd like to have some big artillery in a scenario for the attacker, and therefore decide the scenario will be a human attacker vs. a defender AI? Or, do you decide first that you maybe want either side to be able to have an AI plan and then decide what units to use (i.e. non artillery for example) based on what the AI can do?

Ok, thanks again.

Edited by Canuck21
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You can do pre-battle smoke orders.

During the battle, you're reliant on the AI FO, so you basically can't control smoke in that way.

You can (I believe) set the artillery as a reinforcement group, so your "pre-battle" smoke can come on at a specified later time.


In terms of more basic design - either is appropriate. Broadly there are two basic kind of scenarios in CM - one is a more sandbox affair, where you are given a textbook formation and a tactical problem to solve. This kind of thing will generally be informed by the problem you want to highlight.

The other side is something more narrativist - these tend to be more sculpted or puzzle-like, and you're trying to pick your way through a set of preset positions, or "artificially" created problems. In this case, the force selection should be altered to suit the puzzle, or be part of it.

Both are completely valid, and serve different needs.

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The AI mortar stuff - no.  You can get them to fire but not fire smoke specifically so they will always fire HE.

My scenarios generally replicate historical actions but I have no set approach to scenario-making other than:

  • It is something I want to make.
  • I have a reasonably solid concept of the narrative and what I want to do with it.

Although the second bullet is flexible as I found with my Zitzewitz scenario for Fire and Rubble and a couple of others I have done.

Historical stuff is easy in concept - you know the piece of ground and the forces so you follow the known facts as much as you can and test and adjust to make the thing playable and achievable in the editor.

Non-historical stuff is harder, or for me it is anyway.  Taking one of my Cold War scenarios, Rumpenheim Rumpus.  The concept was simply 'I want to do an assault river crossing.'  I then had to find a decent piece of ground which would fit the bill within the area that the US was deployed in Germany.  Once I'd found the piece of ground I then thought about the forces.  Due to the limited AI slots, it is difficult to make an attacking force much bigger than a battalion which meant that the defender would be about company(ish) sized.  It was just a case from there onward to test and adjust to make it work.

Bottom line - you need to find a way of doing stuff that works for you.  As you get better at it, you can be more flexible with your approach but above all else - it must be something you want to make.

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Posted (edited)

Improved AI artillery programing in one of the areas that is VERY high on my wish list. Appart from learning how to program the on-map mortars to be triggered to do area fire (HE) on desired locations and possibly VERY SIMPLE initial bombardments with other (offboard) assets...Forgett about the AI artillery. It's truely a MESS ! and a source for frustration.

It's difficult to program because of the randomness involved in targtet selection/ asset selection and giving the AI free controll of its artillery often prove to be more dangerous to the AIs own troops then to any player units.

If you do decide to try and get some AI artillery into your scenarios....Keep it VERY simple....or you will go mad 😉

Edited by Glubokii Boy
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@domfluff - Yup, I did manage to get that, but completely by accident. I have several platoon mortars and a 25 lbr field gun that can do smoke. I had pre-planned 3 arty missions - Destroy, Smoke, Destroy in that order. I got loads of smoke but the only thing I "destroyed" were the Italians lungs :D .  I have no idea who actually fired the smoke though, when watching in Scenario Editor Mode. There was no HE fire. I'm going to try your idea of a reinforcement thing at some point. That just might work.

@Glubokii Boy - I'm seeing that it's a mess at my end for sure. This is somewhat why I asked the second part of my post - how to design a scenario concept - design around a force type, or make the force type suitable for the scenario. 

44 minutes ago, Glubokii Boy said:

artillery often prove to be more dangerous to the AIs own troops then to any player units.

Ummnnnn, yup. Found that one out. I guess the arty guys wanted to make absolutely certain that our FO could see the spotting rounds. And he would have, had he lived 🤬!!!

46 minutes ago, Glubokii Boy said:

Keep it VERY simple....or you will go mad

Ummnnnn, yeah. Kinda too late (and it was a "short trip" at that) 🤪

@Combatintman - I think you are a master at giving really sage advice on scenario concepts, and that's saying a lot given the advice I've received here. All the posts have given me a lot of food for thought, and everyone is basically saying the same thing in essence, but how you lay it out really twigs with me and helps me immensely. I'm a bit different in that I think I prefer the fictional engagements more as it allows me a bit more freedom, but absolutely it must stay within the bounds of plausibility as you have expounded on before. The one I'm working on now is loosely based on a real situation, but there wasn't enough detail in that to lay out the "players" in full. Also, the Italians bailed in a hurry once the Canadians started shooting back, which was good in real life, but not so good for a scenario. So I was able to use the information I had to build around the concept, thus I'm calling this one fictional. Knowing how to go about it from the very beginnings though, is what I was after here, and I got it. Thank you to all of you for this. I feel as though I just took another big step forward. I hope to release this scenario (which will again be Allies vs Axis AI or H2H) this weekend :) .

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IIRC number of intended AI arty missions got to match with available AI artillery during 1st turn bombardments. Off map batteries as well count as onboard guns, although the AI can address the latter individually. In one my missions I had 5 bombardment targets (1x Smoke, 4x supress) with 2x offmap 105mm Arty batteries and 1x onmap Mortar Plt (3x 81mm) available. The single AI FO then assigned as follows:

1. Smoke, small target area = offmap 105mm Bty
2. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
3. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
4. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
5. Suppress, larger target area = offmap 105mm Bty

The AI always uses this same assignment in every playthrough reliably. That´s also what I wanted it to do.

The AI FO also had LOS to all 5 individual target zones. Can´t recall if this was of importance though. But it´s this FO that assigns all available Arty assets during initial turn (scenario author mode checked).

One surely can derive a couple of rules from this setup, but I rather found it working through trial and error.

Amount of adressable Arty vs. target zones plays an important role (unless one wants it all random), as is size of target zones and actual mission type (smoke, destroy, etc). Then ammo availability and intended effects likely comes next. If a FO´s soft factors are used for assignments, I don´t know. (likely not) Reinforcement method for Arty not to be used in 1st turn has been mentioned already.

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5 hours ago, Canuck21 said:

The one I'm working on now is loosely based on a real situation, but there wasn't enough detail in that to lay out the "players" in full. Also, the Italians bailed in a hurry once the Canadians started shooting back, which was good in real life, but not so good for a scenario.

Hm... that one asks for the "retreat" script to be used maybe. "Enemy AI" trigger zone combined with "retreat" order, when the canucks come too close. Or any the other orders, if one prefers more of a fighting withdrawal. I see some possibilities, without making it a too easy going for canadian human player.

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2 hours ago, kohlenklau said:

I don't know about you Glenn....

 

first all that talk of reserves getting loaded...now the AI is smoking? Smoking what, soldier?

I used to wonder about me. Not anymore. I'm SURE of it now 🤪!!!

 

@RockinHarry - That's kind of what I had set up today, but all I got was smoke. It was an off map field gun that was doing the firing and judging by the amount of smoke I got, it had to be that weapon that was doing the firing. Nevertheless, I had 2 other missions assigned to it, both Destroy. I wonder if you can only plot one mission per gun for starting arty missions?

58 minutes ago, RockinHarry said:

Hm... that one asks for the "retreat" script to be used maybe. "Enemy AI" trigger zone combined with "retreat" order, when the canucks come too close. Or any the other orders, if one prefers more of a fighting withdrawal. I see some possibilities, without making it a too easy going for canadian human player.

That's a thought. I might look into that tomorrow. Unfortunately, so far in play testing, the Italians are beating the poop out of my guys, so they don't have to retreat. If I play the Canadians, then I can make some progress against them (which is how the scenario will be billed anyway - Canucks against the Italian AI), but I did find out one very interesting thing during my one play test where I took the Canucks. If you run out of bullets, things don't necessarily go so well for you. Especially in the middle of an assault. Go figure... 😏. Oh well, next time 😒.

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7 hours ago, Canuck21 said:

 

@RockinHarry - That's kind of what I had set up today, but all I got was smoke. It was an off map field gun that was doing the firing and judging by the amount of smoke I got, it had to be that weapon that was doing the firing. Nevertheless, I had 2 other missions assigned to it, both Destroy. I wonder if you can only plot one mission per gun for starting arty missions?

Hm... that´s what I wanted to say matching amount of fire missions with amount of available guns (batteries if they´re offmap). Having more fire missions (support targets) than adressable Arty units then leads to just the first fire mission(s) to be executed. Or maybe random selection from assigned targets. Never tried so I don´t know for sure. Game manual V4, P111 says they´re executed in order, but from my understanding the bombardment got to start in 1st turn. There´s no switch to other support targets in later turns. So just 1 gun (battery) can´t engage three support targets the same time.

So in your example case you either need 3 offboard batteries (= 3 support targets) or some onboard assets. A combination like in my above example works too. Onboard guns can be adressed individually, while single guns from an offboard battery can be not.

7 hours ago, Canuck21 said:

That's a thought. I might look into that tomorrow. Unfortunately, so far in play testing, the Italians are beating the poop out of my guys, so they don't have to retreat. If I play the Canadians, then I can make some progress against them (which is how the scenario will be billed anyway - Canucks against the Italian AI), but I did find out one very interesting thing during my one play test where I took the Canucks. If you run out of bullets, things don't necessarily go so well for you. Especially in the middle of an assault. Go figure... 😏. Oh well, next time 😒.

 

Yep, ammunition tactics is something I tend to fail at oftentimes as well. Just as I found out playing russians in CMRT now. lol 😆 If you lack support units for your main assault then things like that can happen. Or if not setting priorities selecting enemy targets. The friendly TacAI is rarely a partner that one can depend on in these cases.

IIRC canadians all have motorized formations. That means any their vehicles contain loads of extra ammo for assigned weapon systems (small arms, AT, mortars etc). "Acquire" command comes handy, even during a running attack at times. But one can also bits of overload infantry with extra ammo before moving out to attack. That at the expense of tiring them quicker. Ammo can be acquired from vehicles directly or sometimes more conveniently from immobile ammo dumps when placing vehicles in "dismounted" state. So before deleting them from a selected OOB, check their loadouts first!

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8 hours ago, RockinHarry said:

IIRC number of intended AI arty missions got to match with available AI artillery during 1st turn bombardments. Off map batteries as well count as onboard guns, although the AI can address the latter individually. In one my missions I had 5 bombardment targets (1x Smoke, 4x supress) with 2x offmap 105mm Arty batteries and 1x onmap Mortar Plt (3x 81mm) available. The single AI FO then assigned as follows:

1. Smoke, small target area = offmap 105mm Bty
2. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
3. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
4. Suppress, point target (1 AS) = single onboard 81mm mortar
5. Suppress, larger target area = offmap 105mm Bty

The AI always uses this same assignment in every playthrough reliably. That´s also what I wanted it to do.

The AI FO also had LOS to all 5 individual target zones. Can´t recall if this was of importance though. But it´s this FO that assigns all available Arty assets during initial turn (scenario author mode checked).

One surely can derive a couple of rules from this setup, but I rather found it working through trial and error.

Amount of adressable Arty vs. target zones plays an important role (unless one wants it all random), as is size of target zones and actual mission type (smoke, destroy, etc). Then ammo availability and intended effects likely comes next. If a FO´s soft factors are used for assignments, I don´t know. (likely not) Reinforcement method for Arty not to be used in 1st turn has been mentioned already.

 

8 hours ago, RockinHarry said:

The AI always uses this same assignment in every playthrough reliably. That´s also what I wanted it to do.

I wounder what the exact requirements for this is...I have not really messed with AI artillery for quite some time but the last time i tried it a had a simular set-up as you describe above. 4 or 5 target locations ( i don't recall exactelly now) and a simular amount of firering assets (off-map) . All of the same caliber and all with the same targeting orders. 

I did NOT however see a consistant AI behavior in my playtestings...Sometimes it worked as intended with one asset targeting one location but the next time two assets targeted the same location and one or two locations did not see any bombardment at all...I ran many test and these things changed back and forth pretty much each time.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, Canuck21 said:

When designing a scenario, do most of you start with what units you want to use then plan the scenario with those in mind, or do you plan the scenario first then decide what units you're going to use based on that?

The only scenarios I've done which aren't based on a historical battle, one is uploaded some time ago and one is about to be uploaded, begin with the idea of a scenario. And then I pick troops which could fit for the scenario.

Edited by BornGinger
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2 minutes ago, Glubokii Boy said:

 

I wounder what the exact requirements for this is...I have not really messed with AI artillery for quite some time but the last time i tried it a had a simular set-up as you describe above. 4 or 5 target locations ( i don't recall exactelly now) and a simular amount of firering assets (off-map) . All of the same caliber and all with the same targeting orders. 

I did NOT however see a consistant AI behavior in my playtestings...Sometimes it worked as intended with one asset targeting one location but the next time two assets targeted the same location and one or two locations did not see any bombardment at all...I ran many test and these things changed back and forth pretty much each time.

 

 

I believe in my case it all worked reliably cause my single FO had clear LOS to all support target zones. Might be I stumble into new issues when dealing with new scenario projects. But I take theses as guidelines: FO = LOS to all Support Targets. Guns/Batteries matching amount of Support targets. Guns having matching ammo types (Smoke or HE) and amount of them. Working C2 between all units involved might be another thing, but think I never run into issues for preplanned strikes. I also tend to keep support target zones small or even single action spot. I´ll see if this still all works out well next time.

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24 minutes ago, RockinHarry said:

I believe in my case it all worked reliably cause my single FO had clear LOS to all support target zones. Might be I stumble into new issues when dealing with new scenario projects. But I take theses as guidelines: FO = LOS to all Support Targets. Guns/Batteries matching amount of Support targets. Guns having matching ammo types (Smoke or HE) and amount of them. Working C2 between all units involved might be another thing, but think I never run into issues for preplanned strikes. I also tend to keep support target zones small or even single action spot. I´ll see if this still all works out well next time.

Ok, thanks...

I  will do some more testing also and see if i can get good results...Or consistant atleast 😎...

 

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1 hour ago, RockinHarry said:

IIRC canadians all have motorized formations. That means any their vehicles contain loads of extra ammo for assigned weapon systems (small arms, AT, mortars etc). "Acquire" command comes handy, even during a running attack at times. But one can also bits of overload infantry with extra ammo before moving out to attack. That at the expense of tiring them quicker. Ammo can be acquired from vehicles directly or sometimes more conveniently from immobile ammo dumps when placing vehicles in "dismounted" state. So before deleting them from a selected OOB, check their loadouts first!

In most cases, yes. However in the first few days of Operation Husky, no. They were one of the few that were primarily on foot most of the way. They were also stretching their supply lines considerably, which didn't help in the early going. That all said, I've never even seen the "Acquire" command (most of the time I don't seem to have anything from which to acquire from, but I need to look into this more). Guess I'll be playing around with that a bit today :) .

1 hour ago, Glubokii Boy said:

I wounder what the exact requirements for this is...I have not really messed with AI artillery for quite some time but the last time i tried it a had a simular set-up as you describe above. 4 or 5 target locations ( i don't recall exactelly now) and a simular amount of firering assets (off-map) . All of the same caliber and all with the same targeting orders. 

Ok, I get it now. I only had 1 battery - the 25 lbr, so that would explain that. However, I ran the scenario 3 times, once I had the smoke coming first and twice I had Destroy as the first option. In each case I got smoke, so there likely is some randomness in what it does, but just what it's based on, I'm not sure. I get the feeling it's the first target area you pick, but I'm not certain.

 

1 hour ago, BornGinger said:

The only scenarios I've done which aren't based on a historical battle, one is uploaded some time ago and one is about to be uploaded, begin with the idea of a scenario. And then I pick troops which could fit for the scenario.

Excellent. I've been going in both directions a bit and not really being sure why. @Combatintman laid it out very well, I felt, and I suspect I'll be going more in the direction you are based on what you and he (and @Glubokii Boy) have said about it. It seems to twig the most with me. Thanks for this.

 

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