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Combat Mission/Close combat first impressions


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Hi all. New to CM - only just played the demo version, and already ordered the CD! Very impressed.

As a long-time player of Atomic's Close Combat (CC), it was part of what I'd been waiting for all this time! I say PART because there are several suggestions I'd make to the developers. Niggles first, praise later..

The first, and most important is to remove the 'turns'. Close combat is essentially the same game (in 2D) and it works very successfully without the turn-based approach. I know lots of war-gamers who are used to turn-based approaches might prefer it, but it would be a much more marketable game if it had continuous action.

An argument against turn-based is that too much is happening to be able to control it all without being able to stop the action. I'd disagree! One of the features of close combat, and of AoE is that it takes a skilled player to be able to manage a whole company of troops. Beginners who might be put off by this would need to be given gentle introductions, e.g. "beginner" battles with just 2 or 3 squads of troops in small scenarios.

Second, I really hate the way the squads are portrayed. They are okay, but a 12-man squad presented by three figures is confusing. I realise that showing full squads would chew up screen processing etc., but we are now into the time of 1Ghz processors and superfast 3D cards. I would prefer an option to enable 'full squad' display. If you don't have enough processor grunt, it can be turned off.

Thirdly, to find out a simple thing like how many are alive you have to click the squad. In close combat dead soldiers are coloured with a splash of red, and left on screen where they fall. This, plus the outlines used by Close Combat, would make it much easier to see which squads are functioning, and locate them without having to continually scale the units up during a turn, then back to normal during play so I see what is happening better. BF don't have to use the exact same method, but something would help.

CC also has customisable 'status bars' that float over units, using colours (green/yellow/red/black) to signify ammo, cohesion, leadership, morale etc. Something similar would be appreciated..!

I haven't played the Multiplayer yet, but I hope that this has an option where several human players can control different units on the same side. It probably doesn't make much sense with the turn-based system, but if the next version has continuous-action it, it would make for a truly realistic battle simulation system. Two or three players would have to communicate and co-ordinate their forces and their strategy. Here's hoping..!

Finally, the praise. It's what I've been hoping would happen to Close Combat for years!! The 2D model they started with made sense originally, but with 3D cards in almost all new PCs, it doesn't make sense any more. CC has enabled 3D terrain modelling and LoS for their maps, but the interface is still 2D!

When's the next version due? :)

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Howard

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I guess you are looking at CM as a "CC with 3D"; well it is not and it will certainly never go real-time.

The points about "full squads" and "dead bodies" were discussed to death.

For me, 12 men on the screen for every squad would not even slow down the game, but would clutter the screen.

Fred

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"I got signals, I got readings, in front and behind of us!" - PFC Hudson on LV-426 mission

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Guest KwazyDog

Hi Howard

One thing you may not realise is that CM can actually represent up to reinforced battalion sized battle, something I think would befinately be out of the scope of real time play. Once you check out some of the battles on the CD I think you will see the scope of CM and why the designers decided to leave the RTS system behind smile.gif Bottom line is it is something that certainally wont change.

If you do a search you will find plenty of info as to why units are represent by a 3 man squad at the moment, with processing power being just one of the factors considered. Being backwards compatable with slower system is definately a consideration at the moment though.

The next version is due well...in a while wink.gif No date have been given yet and probably wont for some time becuase CM has only just been released. CM2 will be on the Easter Front covering from 41-45.

Glad your enjoying CM Howard!

[This message has been edited by KwazyDog (edited 08-18-2000).]

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Please.. you cannot even begin to compare this game to any of the CC games.

See.. the difference is that CC is a very SUPERFICIAL game.. with plenty of little details that don't really matter..

Whereas CM is a game with incredible depth and complexity and is a strategy game.. not an action game.. To go through and point out the misunderstandings you have of CM and wargames would take me way too long so I'll leave that up to some other eager young soul..

However, I will take issue with your realtime vs turnbased point.. (PS realtime would work with unlimited pausing but developers have been slow to adopt this).. But here goes.. Last night I was fending off a german assault on a hill. At one time, I had to redirect my artillery, move my reinforcements up and into cover to ready the counterattack, move my 2 60mm mortars into attack position, readjust my MG fire, try to pull out my wounded from the hill, and change my Sherman's targetting priorities .. At the same time.... In turn based, its possible.. in REAL LIFE its possible (every unit has an independent commander), in REALTIME its IMPOSSIBLE. I don't care how good you are, you can't do all the above within even 5 seconds if you give the motions any serious thought. Therefore, not only is the current setup MORE realistic, but it would also be impossible to play this game with any depth in real time..

Jake

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Guest Germanboy

Everybody, breathe in the bag, nice and calm now, there. Thank you.

Hi Quango, welcome to the board. Most of your points have been extensively debated, and answers are all over the board.

In short:

RT - it's not going to happen

Full squad display - it's not going to happen, look at the FAQ why (it is work in progress, but still) here: http://cm4mac.tripod.com/

Roster-style info - it's not going to happen in a detailed way, you may get a clickable unit list in CM2 Eastern Front, due out earliest in 18months, but not before it is ready, I think.

These are all conscious design decisions, and once you get used to the system, I am sure you will see why they were made in that way, well, for most of them anyway.

Multiplayer is two players only.

Hope that helps, enjoy the game.

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Andreas

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Fred:

(A) I guess you are looking at CM as a "CC with 3D"; well it is not and it will certainly never go real-time.

(B) The points about "full squads" and "dead bodies" were discussed to death.

For me, 12 men on the screen for every squad would not even slow down the game, but would clutter the screen.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

(A) Is that an official position from the developers? If so I would expect Close combat to do this in the near future. Then they will have the market. Can't see the logic really. These games are trying to simulate reality. You don't stop battles every 60 seconds to have a think, look at the options, etc. etc. Maybe Atomic can buy out Battlefront if that is the case..!

(B) So make it an option! That way we both get what we want.

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Guest KwazyDog

Howard, in reality 1 man dosnt control a battle, many many men do. Sorry but it is totally unrealistic at anything above a platoon level for one man to have this sort of control, thus the compremise was made for real time resolution with pauses for orders. Real time would be uncontrolled in CM, youd merely become an observer telling the odd unit what to do. Trust us on that one, youll see when you get the full version smile.gif

[This message has been edited by KwazyDog (edited 08-18-2000).]

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Guest Mirage2k

Welcome. Now that you've discovered Combat Mission, be prepared to sacrifice most of your life for the sake of the game. smile.gif Now to your concerns...

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>The first, and most important is to remove the 'turns'. Close combat is essentially the same game (in 2D) and it works very successfully without the turn-based approach. I know lots of war-gamers who are used to turn-based approaches might prefer it, but it would be a much more marketable game if it had continuous action.

An argument against turn-based is that too much is happening to be able to control it all without being able to stop the action. I'd disagree! One of the features of close combat, and of AoE is that it takes a skilled player to be able to manage a whole company of troops. Beginners who might be put off by this would need to be given gentle introductions, e.g. "beginner" battles with just 2 or 3 squads of troops in small scenarios.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

There are several reasons why BTS chose to keep CM turn-based. Given the size of CM's maps and the possibility that many of your units will be spread out over a wide area, it would be very difficult for the player to keep track of the battle if it were continuous-action. I've never played CC, and so am not familiar with AoE, but I know that this was one of BTS' concerns.

Also, BTS felt that a real-time game lends itself to becoming a "click-fest" and reduces tactical possibilities, because the player is so worried about moving his forces around faster than his/her opponent.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Second, I really hate the way the squads are portrayed. They are okay, but a 12-man squad presented by three figures is confusing. I realise that showing full squads would chew up screen processing etc., but we are now into the time of 1Ghz processors and superfast 3D cards. I would prefer an option to enable 'full squad' display. If you don't have enough processor grunt, it can be turned off.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

As you note, not everyone has 1 GHz computer and superfast 3D card. I'm running CM on my 333MHz iMac w/ Rage Pro, hardly a top-of-the-line 3D card. I don't really see why representing a full squad with three men is confusing—you seem to have figured it out just fine. Keep in mind that there are a lot of abstractions in CM, as there are in many wargames.

Displaying the full twelve men would also, in my opinion, just look weird. There wouldn't be any real way to model it other than showing the twelve men as the three men currently are, all doing the same thing. Three men is fine, but twelve doing the exact same thing would just look odd (and would maybe be even more confusing than three man squads smile.gif)

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Thirdly, to find out a simple thing like how many are alive you have to click the squad. In close combat dead soldiers are coloured with a splash of red, and left on screen where they fall. This, plus the outlines used by Close Combat, would make it much easier to see which squads are functioning, and locate them without having to continually scale the units up during a turn, then back to normal during play so I see what is happening better. BF don't have to use the exact same method, but something would help. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Blood and dead squads were a major issue prior to CM's release. I'd use the search function to check out some of the heated threads on that topic. But to summarize:

BTS felt that blood and gore were not a necessary feature of the game and would only detract from gameplay. War is brutal; we all know that. Displaying blood and gore in a computer game is not necessary, and might have even turned some people off on the game. Blood would not add anything in the way of gameplay.

As it stands, squads can be represented by three, two, or one man to show the number of combat-capable men left in the squad. Squads that have been entirely killed off are shown by a man lying on his back with one leg bent up, which I feel is a good compromise to the blood and gore issue. If you're having trouble determining which squads are dead and which are still functional, try turning the unit bases on.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>CC also has customisable 'status bars' that float over units, using colours (green/yellow/red/black) to signify ammo, cohesion, leadership, morale etc. Something similar would be appreciated..!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This might not be a bad idea. If it could be modeled well, it might be something to consider for CM2.

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I haven't played the Multiplayer yet, but I hope that this has an option where several human players can control different units on the same side. It probably doesn't make much sense with the turn-based system, but if the next version has continuous-action it, it would make for a truly realistic battle simulation system. Two or three players would have to communicate and co-ordinate their forces and their strategy. Here's hoping..!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Members of this board have developed work-arounds to allow more than two people to play a game of CM. I haven't really tried it myself, so someone who has will have to jump in.

-Andrew

PS: Charles Moylan of BTS wrote an article for Gamespot in which he mentions some of the issues that you raised here. Check it out. http://www.zdnet.com/gamespot/features/pc/postgame_wrapup/

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[This message has been edited by Mirage2k (edited 08-18-2000).]

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by KwazyDog:

Hi Howard

One thing you may not realise is that CM can actually represent up to reinforced battalion sized battle, something I think would befinately be out of the scope of real time play.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I am puzzled about this reluctance to go real-time. I often used to play Age of Empires 1 & 2, on the net against four or five opponents, on giant map settings. You can have anything upto 100 mobile units plus buildings, etc. to organise, control, etc.

Perhaps you would consider building in the option of playing either turn-based or real-time?

Believe me, I think you'd sell two or three times as many copies if you did enable realtime play! Think of all the "command & conquer" type games out there - the people who play those would probably find a turn based approach strange and difficult. I certainly did, but I stuck with it as I'm so familiar with CC. It just takes too long to play even a CM simple battle with turns.

But hey, it's your software. If you don't want to, you don't have to. It's just that someone else almost certainly will :) and I'd bet that Atomic might be the ones to do it

Anyway.. looking forward to the CD arriving soon!

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Howard

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Howard, welcome to the forum. I hope you don't get flamed, but you've hit on some points that may grate on some of the old-timers here (I hope everyone is on their best behavior).

Bottom line, for every person that would like to see real-time, there are probably 15 that would crucify Charles and Steve (the two guys responsible for bringing us CM). It will never come to that, fortunately, because they have absolutely no intention of ever going down that road. If you're looking for realtime action, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Much of the same can be said about the number of soldiers depicted. Think of the squad representations as markers, rather than individual soldiers. Why? Because, as someone else said, CM's scope is much larger than CC. Full squad representations would only clutter the screen and today's computers definitely still don't have the horsepower anyway.

Multiplayer most likely will remain 1v1 for the near future, with TCP/IP coming soon.

The real issue here is who this game is targeting. It is aimed squarely at the hardcore, traditional wargamer. It's polish and freshness have some crossover appeal, but it is not designed for those more inclined toward real-time strategy games, even the close combat series. So, it is almost certainly not going to go in the direction you seem to wish.

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Guest Germanboy

<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Quango:

(A) Is that an official position from the developers? If so I would expect Close combat to do this in the near future. Then they will have the market. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Howard, it is, and no they won't. If you do a RT version of a game that can simulate anything up to 1,000 men and a large number of vehicles, it becomes more interesting to go and watch a movie. Also, there is no market to have. Many people buy both types of games, because they are aimed at different forms of entertainment.

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Andreas

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by duck:

Please.. you cannot even begin to compare this game to any of the CC games. See.. the difference is that CC is a very SUPERFICIAL game.. with plenty of little details that don't really matter..

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ahem. Close Combat is a strategy game, not an 'action' game. I assume you have actually played it? It does almost all of the same modelling of weapons, armour, etc. that CM does. It's just 2D and real time.

As to the point about making large numbers of decisions quickly and implementing those orders, that doesn't happen in real life either, which is the point I was making.

Still it seems from the other replies that the developers have made up their mind. Fine, it's is their game and I suspect the majority of people here would be fans of the game and would prefer and defend that stance.

I look forward to the day when someone else does create a Close Combat-in-3D or a Combat-Mission-in-realtime. It will make those developers rich! :)

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Howard

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Guest KwazyDog

If your looking for an official response to this question Howard do a search and look for responses from Steve or Charles, what I am putting forward is simply my take on the situation.

Really, I think you will see with the larger battles that CM was designed to represent (Ive seen some 8-9 times bigger than those in the demo) that real time simple isnt possable. Its all to do with the was CM operates and if you do a search you will find some more in depth responses from Steve and Charles. For instance the ballistics in the game is very detailed, something that wouldnt be possable if the game had to do all of thise calculations 'on the fly'. The AI also would loose out, having to be simplified to be quicker for the real time environment.

Add all these factors together along with the fact it would be unmanagable for the player and youve got your reason it will never happen smile.gif

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Guest KwazyDog

"It does almost all of the same modelling of weapons, armour, etc. that CM does."

Actually Howard to be honest CC dosnt even come close to touching the level of physics behind the balistics in CM, but thats another discussion. smile.gif

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jgdpzr:

Howard, welcome to the forum. I hope you don't get flamed, but you've hit on some points that may grate on some of the old-timers here (I hope everyone is on their best behavior).

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

So I see :) I notice that some don't take the time to read my points and just jump in to make that 'too complex' argument. Imagine if AoE was turn based!! It would have remained a niche product.. which is what I suspect CM will probably be. Still, as I've said in other posts, is BF don't do it, someone else will!

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Howard

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Quango:

Just adding to a point: Turn based is the only (yet admittedly artificial) way to simulate many commanders thinking at once. I liked CC2, and I enjoy AOE, but neither game permits the kind of realism depicted in CM. Heck, I have a hard enough time winning when given time to think and plot my moves. Take that away from me, and I'd really bite the big one. It would be like removing all of the commanders from the board - in real life it would be a slaughter.

I'm glad to see that nobody pounced on you here. We may not agree with your points, but we're always happy to see a new fan.

Cheers,

GAFF

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Imagine if AoE was turn based!! It would have remained a niche product.. which is what I suspect CM will probably be.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well, I think AoE does not compare to CM smile.gif

And yes, it is a niche product, but maybe you read some of the reviews and look what other people say about CM and the turn-based system.

At least, they seem to like it wink.gif

Fred

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"I got signals, I got readings, in front and behind of us!" - PFC Hudson on LV-426 mission

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Guest KwazyDog

Quango with all due respect youve tended to ignored pretty much what everyone here has said and just come back with the 'I want it' argument in your defence smile.gif

Unfortunately, as many people have tried to explain there are many reason it wont work, and I mean it wont work for ANY company, not even the mighty Atomic! Yes, it can work on a much smaller scale such as what CC represents, but I honestly cant see any way for it to work on a scale any larger. CM1 has sold incredably well, in fact its sold out of stock twice since it was released about 8 weeks which shows other people out there also like the current system wink.gif

CM is a wargame first and foremost, not a real time strategy such as CC which decided to forget about realism in some aspects in exchange for the real time nature. Dont get me wrong, I liked CC2 a lot, in fact I wront the map editor for CC3 but the lack of detail really did get to me as to me detail in a wargame is the most important first and foremost, which was why I was happy to find CM.

Anyways, enough said I guess, each to their own smile.gif

[This message has been edited by KwazyDog (edited 08-18-2000).]

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Thanks for the URL and the FAQ on it.

I was surprised there was no FAQ here - as you and others have said my questions are not the first time they have appeared.

Searching thousands of messages to find out if it has been asked before is a bit silly.. if it has been asked before, won't there be lots of messages matching my search?! :)

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Howard,

You are forgetting that from a business perspective, for every Age of Empires that makes Microsloth a zillion bucks, there are a dozen other crap RTS games that fail miserably.

CM might be a niche product, but it is a successful niche product. I am betting that BTS would much rather have a profitable niche product than just another also-ran twitch fest, of which there are more than enough out there.

I suggest you read the BTS manifesto. It addresses many of the issues you are talking about. To briefly sum up, CM is not about appealing to the lowest common denominator in order to maximize sales.

And thnk god for that. There are more than enough mindless click games out there to satisfy the droves of people who wish to play those.

Unlike many here, I actually do think that CC is an excellent game. The series brought wargaming to a different level. The real-time decision works in a limited way for that, but would NOT work for a CM type game.

I certainly do agree that BTS should write CM2 with an eye towards targetting the current level of processor and graphics power available. CM1 took several years, so the target moved a lot while in development. The current graphics almost certainly do not take advantage of the power of this years PCs. If CM2 can be done a year after development starts, hopefully it can use the power of the current generation of graphics cards.

Remember, CM was fundamnetally designed to run on a P2 with a 4-8MB video card. What they have managed to accomplish with two people is frankly amazing.

But they should be nervous about their own success. Other companies, with teams a lot bigger than two people, are certain to try to one up them.

Jeff Heidman

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Quango:

So I see :) I notice that some don't take the time to read my points and just jump in to make that 'too complex' argument. Imagine if AoE was turn based!! It would have remained a niche product.. which is what I suspect CM will probably be. Still, as I've said in other posts, is BF don't do it, someone else will!

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Yes, but that's not all: If CM2 does not have a flight simulator included along with Roger Wilco to allow conversations with the tower and between planes, they will lose a lot of sales mad.gif, and I bet someone else (probbly Microsoft eek.gif ) will do it! rolleyes.gif

Henri biggrin.gif

[This message has been edited by Henri (edited 08-18-2000).]

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by KwazyDog:

"It does almost all of the same modelling of weapons, armour, etc. that CM does."

Actually Howard to be honest CC dosnt even come close to touching the level of physics behind the balistics in CM, but thats another discussion.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Perhaps, I don't know CM well enough. I do note that CC is actually a better real-life simulation. For example, CM models at the 'squad' level, whereas CC models at the individual soldier. In CM (as the FAQ says) EVERYONE panics/fires/hides etc. In CC each soldier has his own characteristics, weapon, rate of fire and reloading capabilities.

I suppose when you get to the big CM maps with a thousand men this level of detail would be overwhelming and over-complex. Depends on whether you are concentrating on modelling realistically or just representing units as 'tokens' but in 3D. I think we'll all have to differ on this one.

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Howard

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<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Quango:

Thanks for the URL and the FAQ on it.

I was surprised there was no FAQ here - <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

You're welcome. The problem with a detailed FAQ that covers all is that it would be very long and take a lot of time to make. There is a simple one in the CM section of battlefront.com.

BTS is essentially a Two-Man-And-A-Weasel™ company, and they don't have the manpower. Or better, they could work on an FAQ or on improving CM and producing CM2. No prizes for guessing what most people her would prefer. Some of us under the enlightened leadership of Guachi and Colin are trying to set one up that will address these questions and many more. The germ for that is at the link I provided.

Henri, I was actually hoping we'd see that in 1.04, or else it is class-action lawsuit time.

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Andreas

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