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Road Movement in Column

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I was testing the Romanian unachieved victory objective flag that I'd finally managed to get decent ripples on when I found myself staring at a huge map of the Caucausus. And a long column of vehicles.

Even though I had more important things to do, I couldn't help myself. I haven't really played CMBB yet, but I figureed it wouldn't hurt to move some of those vehicles down the road to that bridge on the river. A couple of kilometers away.

Now in CMBO I've gotten fairly good at column movement. The trick is to make gradual turns by using several waypoints where the road bends, and to have many more waypoints on the straight stretches than you need.

I eventually run out of waypoints, but the reason that I do this is so that I can vary the speed of different vehicles in the column between Move, Hunt, and Walk. When used in combination with pauses I can usually keep a column of vehicles of different speeds moving along smoothly without anyone rear-ending anyone else. Too often, that is.

So I'm looking at my first CMBB column movement situation and I figure that I'll apply all that CMBO technique. Wrong.

I don't understand how you're supposed to do it, especially if there are lots of twists and turns in the road. I tried increasing the spacing between units, to the point that when I did get a column sorted out it would have about forty meters between each vehicle. That's a bit more than one meter of road space for each kilometer per hour. But I still got into trouble when I got my trucks moving. I had a huge hairball when I tried to cross the bridge, because the column was halted there (staggered stopping points), but vehicles still kept crashing into the tail end of the column, setting off a chain reaction of stalls and more collisions.

With problems like that, who needs the enemy ?

I got it to the point that if everything in the column was moving at the same speed I could make it around one turn smoothly. I needed three waypoints to do it, and the turn wasn't a very sharp one.

At this point, unless there is something that I'm missing, road movement in CMBO seems to be better than in CMBB, if for no other reason than the fact that if you use enough waypoints you can finesse a column of trucks and tanks down a road without it turning into a bumper-car derby.

Is there something that I'm missing ?

It's almost as if what is needed is a road movement toggle that severely limits the waypoint penalty as long as the mover is a vehicle moving along a road. What I really wish this game had was a command for maintaining a constant speed and spacing in relation to one other vehicle, so that you could create a string of vehicles and then only have to give movement orders to the leader.

It's really dissapointing to suspect that attacks on moving columns and attacks by moving columns aren't going to happen because there's a modeling problem with column movement. It's sad, because movement in, to, and from columns is a characteristic part of mobile warfare.

BTS, fix or do somefink!

[ December 09, 2004, 04:25 PM: Message edited by: Philippe ]

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Even worse is watching the enemy AI try to move vehicles. If the road goes throught scattered trees, the AI moves the vehicle very slowly along the edge of the road to gain the cover of the trees. I have also seen AFVs travel on a wall for 100s of meters when a jog to the right or left would have them in grass moving along swiftly.

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Here are some things to consider:

-If you are not in a rush don't bunch up a horde of vehicles to move down the road all at once. Only if you really need to bother than do . . .because it's complicated to make it work well.

-If you must bunch a group up and rush, go carefully through each vehicle and note the horsepower, top speed, and experience of each one.

If you have 4 regular sherms and 1 vet, place the vet in front because he'll have shorter command delay due to experience, and so will take off more quickly.

If you have 2 regular sherms and 2 regular stuarts, place the stuarts in front because experince is equal, but stuart has better horsepower so it will take off more quickly. Also consider since the stuart has better top speed than the sherm, it will tend to bump into the sherm if it is behind once the group picks up speed.

-Next consider who has a radio and who doesn't. If you have a gun tractor and a PzIVH, the gun tractor has better horsepower and top speed, but no radio, so command delay will be intense with long, complicated movement orders. Often it is better to put the slower PzIVH in front for this reason.

-you *can* move in 2 columns, side by side, if you must, but that gets really tricky and you have to be very careful placing each waypoint so you don't bump into each other. Views 1-5 sometimes blur the truth of the waypoint . . .so something that looks spaced out enough might actually not be . . .so check in view 6 . . . .check your waypoints at bends in the road extra carefully. As a general rule though avoid a double column. It's just too messy and the chanch you'll screw it up is high.

-You might be inclined to stack a single column of tanks (for example), really close to one another thinking you're being efficient. Don't. Keep some space between vehicles and the group will always get off a faster start. No matter how careful you are, the numerical command delay given to you when you give movement orders will never be EXACTLY as it says . . . so you inevitably bump into each other at the start if you're bunched up too close.

-The above are good rules to hold onto. But, consider that with a little tweaking of the pause command, and a few other little tricks you can often make any combination of vehicles move together effectively in any order.

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One of the most satisfying moments where three consecutive turns in CMAK where I moved 30+ vehicles on a road to a destiantion a mile away and it took only 6 turns - including loading up infantry.

Took a lot of careful planning. 4th turn had a traffic jam of the rear guard. A single bump forced all following vehicles to detour.

But it can be done!



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The trick to achieve what you want is to keep realistic distances between vehicles (when was the last time you drove your car 5 meters behind the car in front going 50 mph?). In order to do that you need to have some experience with giving the Pause order and how to use it to coordinate movement.

What I do is the following (and quite simple): each vehicle after the first receives a 15 sec pause order. This means that no more than 5 vehicles can start in a given turn, but that's ok, you know... one turn is only 60 seconds after all, and the rest of the column can be ordered to move later.

Granted, all of this is somewhat tedious when you're used to a pathfinding AI after playing the usual RTS games. CM has a very limited pathfinding AI because, eh... it's not realtime smile.gif You ARE supposed to give orders to each of your units, and plot all of this.


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A tip:

Don't use pause orders. Use extra waypoints instead. They have the same effect as far as timing the move starts, and you can use additional waypoints to fine tune the speed and/or directon of units after they've gotten started.

Also, remember roads are 2 vehicles wide in CM. When I'm moving a large convoy in column down a road, actually plot two parallel columns, one on each side of the road, and alternate the vehicles between the columns. So the first vehicle has its plots along the right side, then then next on the left side, then back to the right, and so on. This way, if I misjudge and two vehicles get too close, they just end up traveling abreast of one another. And if one vehicle stops because it is damaged or KOed, at least the vehicle immediately behind it will still get past. This doesn't always completely eliminate traffic jams, but it does usually greatly reduce their severity.



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I always thought it was somewhat silly for the game to have a Follow Enemy Vehicle command but not a Follow Friendly Vehicle command. It would prevent a lot of nonsense. It's actually better to shoot the vehicle leading sometimes, because convoys will continue to move unless they have a 'move to contact' which is incredibly slow for most traveling. This causes them to detour like crazy, totally ruining any sense of organization. Completely disorienting.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest BigAlMoho


Moon said above: "You ARE supposed to give orders to each of your units, and plot all of this."

This stance needs to be reevaluated. Having a "follow" order is a very good idea and it should apply to any unit following any unit on any terrain... So you can have a column of infantry snaking along a twisting and turning path through the countryside or a column of vehicles down a road or anywhere...

Having a "follow" order still means having to give each unit orders and therefore is still in the spirt of having to command each unit...

I cannot imagine any reason for not implementing a universal "follow" command unless it is "just too difficult" for the company to program... and, that would really be a sad thing...

I am looking forward to hearing the definitive company stance on this irratating issue...


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Moon, Yankee Dog, et al have all above posted sensible tips and ideas about how to get round a problem.

However I think that problem only exists because at some early stage in the design, probably when CM was still being thought of as a company scale game, nobody thought it was worth spending time on (how many vehicles could there be supporting a company and how often would games need to have them moving in column down a road).

This problem of road movement, especially when one has a convoy to move, is complete pain in the bottom. All the tips in the world won't change the fact that trying to get a column moving smoothly down a road with a few bends in it and that runs through some woods is a fiddly, time-consuming and frustating business that adds nothing to the enjoyment of the game.

Which game was it that had "road movement" where one could tell a unit to go from point A to point B and the "TacAI" worked out the detail and the unit stayed on the road? I can't remember the game, but it must have been a good few years ago because I haven't played anything but the CM triology since 2000. I am sure there was another old game that had convoy moves as well. (Could well be Steel Panthers or the Close Combat Series I am thinking of here).

Please BF, what we have now is, in my view, a frustrating, enjoyment-detracting crock of sh*t. For CMX2 please fix or do sumfink

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