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New CMx2 AI Improvements (planned)... New bone by Steve buried in PBEM noise thread


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Neat idea. But just like my idea, its off topic. The thread is supposed to be about FOW anyway.

I find it hard to discuss the game WITHOUT other issues popping in. And ideas as well.

Talk about Spotting, and C&C comes up, talk about FOW, and a new way to play the game pops up.

It is fun.

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Originally posted by Wartgamer:

Neat idea. But just like my idea, its off topic. The thread is supposed to be about FOW anyway.

I find it hard to discuss the game WITHOUT other issues popping in. And ideas as well.

Talk about Spotting, and C&C comes up, talk about FOW, and a new way to play the game pops up.

It is fun.

Yeah but

Sadly it is still in development and all the real fun is just about ONE FULL year away (unless you are dreaming of getting the demo before Next Christmas which would be nice but not very realistic IMHO smile.gif )

-tom w

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Since I do not like being one upped by Tom, here is another new way to play the game.

4 man Human to Human

Each side two teams. One guy in one team does the waypoints,overall plan, etc. The other guy does all the microwork. Same for the other team.

What's the rub? The two guys on one side do not know each other. They have no clue who the other guy on thier same team is! Why come? Cause they have signed up through the BFC server to be in a competition and the actual games are routed through them. So you may be limited to just message boxes that you send back and forth.

How's the competition work? Its a new scenario and each person participating gets to play in two games. In one he is the overall commander, in another he is the 'grunt' player doing all the legwork. So he plays the same scenario from two perspectives while still on the same side. He never does both positions on the same game.

Why? Because while BFC is charging to play in this manner, they are secretly using fuzzy-logic monitoring to use the game play to test scenarios to develop the best overall AI in this scenario. The AI is being adapted for individual scenarios!

Soylent Green is PEOPLE!! SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPULLLL!!!!

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Rollstoy,

Please keep in mind that there are thousands of scenarios floating around, so I am not afraid that the need to play any CMX2 scenario twice or more often will become urgent!
Correct. We've said from day one that we will never devote resources into making a single scenario somehow "more fun" the second time around. It is a foolish waste of resources. Scenarios are meant to be disposible and therefore one time play is all the game is designed to support.

Wartgamer,

             

So there will be a scenario editor for cmx2?
Yes.

You seemed to have missed the main idea of the post. A new form of Human-Human play.
Take someone else's scenario, pop it into the Editor, change the parameters around, and there you go... same thing that you are asking for without any additional work on our part.

Steve

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A new thing here for me today... (sorry this is more like a Blog entry than a forum post..)

Its funny how many folks here beef about the AI :confused: :(

I am one of them, (sorry sometimes perhaps without any real justification) but the AI has surprised me and has beaten me more than a few times.

So as Steve will tell us its not all that bad.

I am watching a totally green and inexperienced 25 year old computer game/video game player play the CMBO Demo Chance Encounter scenario for the first time as I type this...

This is his first time with anything like CMBO so he is trying and keen but the AI in Chance Encounter is keeping him more than challenged. He is not good at it and he will likely lose, but it is too early to tell. (his victory rating at 20 mins (half way) is %57)

Watching someone play CMBO and Chance Encounter for the first time is a VERY interesting experience. I would guess that for most players new to this game the CMx1 level of AI did in fact provide a half decent challenge. smile.gif

Sadly I think we may all be over looking the fact that the CMx1 AI was DAMN good when we FIRST started playing against it for the first time in CMBO. (yes I know for some of us here that was almost 5 years ago)

I hope the CMx2 AI is better, I am confident it will be (if they build on CMx1 as a foundation!) as I watch the German AI opponent in Chance Encounter challenge a first time player. he he smile.gif

To test the new game Steve should REALLY find some folks that LOVE computer games and JUST sit them in front of a pre-release CMx2 demo and watch them play and watch what they do, (given they have NO previous experience with any CMxx product) the observations and experience for BFC could be VERY informative and enlightening. Especially around User Interface design.

-tom w

[ March 02, 2005, 05:20 PM: Message edited by: aka_tom_w ]

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Take someone else's scenario, pop it into the Editor, change the parameters around, and there you go... same thing that you are asking for without any additional work on our part.

Steve

There was more to it than that. There could be intragame Human update to the 'Master-Plan'.

And another option is the AI takeover of a game. In many cases, its clear that one side in a human to human game is disinterested or just getting thumped. It would be nice if he could just let the AI play out his side instead of quitting.

[ March 02, 2005, 05:09 PM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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Well, I played about 10% of my CM games vs. humans and 90% vs. the AI (I have HIGHLY unsocial times for playing, for sure) smile.gif

And the AI, in CMAK at least, is quite good (that means I am an average player).

But a few things can be done , w/o winning a nobel prize:

- Keeping units in command, even when attacking

- Do not leave trenches and foxholes near a big flag, just because a 100 point flag was captured

- If 5 tanks were killed by an AT gun, do not drive #6 and #7 into the same kill lane

- Try to flank objectives, not going straight ahead all the time

Scenario scripting will help alot to make the AI look "good".

And yes, Warcraft AI was bad, but who cares for Warcraft and other RTS click feasts? smile.gif

Tankist

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Originally posted by Tankist:

- If 5 tanks were killed by an AT gun, do not drive #6 and #7 into the same kill lane

- Try to flank objectives, not going straight ahead all the time

Tankist

Thanks Tankist,,,I was wondering about CMAK since I've never played it, but these bullet items are what I'm remembering from CMBB. Seems like it hasn't changed.
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I for one wouldn't mind seeing the option for "AI Cheating"

When you click on AI opponent, you can also dictate the percentage level of cheating, just like giving a force bonus.

0% = AI does not cheat

25% = AI gets very good intel on spotted units and knows if the unit is under command. It gets readings on other units near the spotted unit by way of sound contacts (not precise locations, but can judge troop density).

50% = AI gains full intel on spotted units. If the unit is under command, it sees the other squads and HQ of the platoon and gets full intel on them.

75% = When the AI spots an enemy unit, it spots each other nearby enemy unit, regardless of command structure and gets full intel on all of them.

100% = AI gets to play with "No Fog of War" (but you don't, naturally).

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Steve, these are great.

I love the idea of the AI having bits of info about my force - I assume this could be on a sort of graduated scale. That could quickly add a lot of challenge to any game, and at a high setting it would be just pure evil!

And the idea of scenario designer being able to add 'hints' (actually I'm hoping for explicit commands - 'attack this direction', 'fall back in stages' etc - as well as cover arcs and such) would really rule, and it would certainly sort the sheeps from the goats as regards scenario design.

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So far I have not seen any comment or confirmation or denial that they will or can enable assymetrical FOW such that the human player can have a more realistic FOW level and the AI can be "granted" a less restrictive or less realistic FOW.

There as been no official comment as to whether this is workable or even actually helpful for the AI.

Just that one hint tha the AI can be granted intuition about the pt level of the scenario and suspected force size of the human player.

-tom w

Originally posted by citizen:

I for one wouldn't mind seeing the option for "AI Cheating"

When you click on AI opponent, you can also dictate the percentage level of cheating, just like giving a force bonus.

0% = AI does not cheat

25% = AI gets very good intel on spotted units and knows if the unit is under command. It gets readings on other units near the spotted unit by way of sound contacts (not precise locations, but can judge troop density).

50% = AI gains full intel on spotted units. If the unit is under command, it sees the other squads and HQ of the platoon and gets full intel on them.

75% = When the AI spots an enemy unit, it spots each other nearby enemy unit, regardless of command structure and gets full intel on all of them.

100% = AI gets to play with "No Fog of War" (but you don't, naturally).

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Originally posted by aka_tom_w:

[...] Watching someone play CMBO and Chance Encounter for the first time is a VERY interesting experience. I would guess that for most players new to this game the CMx1 level of AI did in fact provide a half decent challenge. [...]

I concur here. I know quite a few people who are wrestling with the AI and get it bad every now and then. Not to say things cannot be better, but certainly to put this in perspective.

Cheers.

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Originally posted by Tarkus:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by aka_tom_w:

[...] Watching someone play CMBO and Chance Encounter for the first time is a VERY interesting experience. I would guess that for most players new to this game the CMx1 level of AI did in fact provide a half decent challenge. [...]

I concur here. I know quite a few people who are wrestling with the AI and get it bad every now and then. Not to say things cannot be better, but certainly to put this in perspective.

Cheers. </font>

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Originally posted by Kip Watson:

[...] And the idea of scenario designer being able to add 'hints' (actually I'm hoping for explicit commands - 'attack this direction', 'fall back in stages' etc - as well as cover arcs and such) would really rule, and it would certainly sort the sheeps from the goats as regards scenario design.

Here again I most definitely agree. This IS the way to go. I remember talking about this a lot in the Hoolaman thread but I'll repeat it here: these "plans" or "hints" (I hope for the former, but since I'm not sure of the implication of the later, I'll refrain from speculating) could be changed by people in the community. Say you have the default "Valley of Trouble" with plan X. Someone could upload his own version with plan Y.

Think about it:

- AI would get pretty smart. I assume this based on the fact that even now experienced designers do have some way to make it not bad just by careful placement of flags and units. I'm sure that giving them more tool and a sharp interface to deal with the AI would do wonders.

- The replayability could expand tremendeously at not cost for BFC. Not only could players d/l different versions, but they could simply disable the feature just like he current "stick to scenario default" in CMx1.

- It would be a very interesting feature to illustrate some doctrinal points, perhaps results in even more ways to design a really historical scenario: you could implement events with very specific details about enemy deployment and advance.

- This would get even more interesting both for BFC and for us people if PBEM is out (which we all hope will not, but...)

Cheers

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Originally posted by aka_tom_w:

A little AAR on Chance Encounter [...]

The very first CM scenario I ever played, in the demo. Your AAR brings tons of cool memories. I think I fared about the same as your friend there. Those where the days. Thanks Tom. smile.gif

Cheers

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Since the scenario designer can waypoint and give a starting plan to the AIs forces, I wonder if that is also going to be done by the human player for his forces. Not only in the beginning of the game but also during the game. Perhaps that is the new C&C BFC is talking about?

So you have to give waypoints, SOPs to platoons or companies and these are restricted in how they can be edited (hopefully).

An example is a platoon that has been given a waypoint through a woods with a 'contact' type SOP (as soon as any unit in platoon reports contact, stop moving ie waypoint ceases and SOP changes to observe or defend). The platoon has lost LOS to other forces (due to woods/smoke/etc) and has also lost radio communication. So changing that SOP and waypoint can not be done. What effect this has (perhaps not being able to cancel any move orders for each unit?) would remain to be seen.

This is certainly realistic.

Perhaps after viewing a HQ based movie, that would be the time to give, waypoint/SOP 'orders'? This could even model delay in those Waypoint/SOP changes taken effect (using realistic parameters like communication/runners/etc).

Here we see another way to model company command at this level. In front line battles, infantry platoons are typically not Command points. Think of units as tools. Platoons are toolboxes. Companys are mechanics and the Battalion is the shop owner. Battalion HQs are typically removed from front lines. Company Command IS the reality of front line infantry.

[ March 03, 2005, 06:44 AM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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Steve,

Thanks for setting me straight about the cupholder. It just goes to show you how us non-programmer types don't really understand much about programming.

Since you are soliciting input, I would like to tell you another AI related feature that I would like to see in CMx2. It would be interesting if the human player could put part of his command under AI control. For example, In a battalian size battle, I could take control of one company and the AI could take control the other two or three. Of course to make this work one would need to be able to assign global commands to the AI sub-formations like "Company 1 attack toward objective A" or "Company 2 Defend objective B".

Now the problem with this approach is that I don't really understand how the current AI works. I understand that there is an operational AI, but does it have any relationship to actual unit formations, or does it simply direct each unit individually based on the strategic AI's overall plan? Based on watching the AI play it seems likely it is the latter.

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Good ideas.

I would actually want what Warren is saying much more than something like 3 way TCP/IP.

It would be cool to just 'storeyboard' with waypoints/SOP what you want the armor to do (model a briefing) and just command the infantry /arty.

It would also be cool to be playing a human (thumping him) and offer "Hey!, how about the AI takes over my infantry and I just fight out the rest of the game with the Shermans?".

So again we see the AI being a 'fun' factor.

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Originally posted by Warren Peace:

Steve,

Now the problem with this approach is that I don't really understand how the current AI works. I understand that there is an operational AI, but does it have any relationship to actual unit formations, or does it simply direct each unit individually based on the strategic AI's overall plan? Based on watching the AI play it seems likely it is the latter.

Yes that's the problem I percieve also. Its also present on the human side.

Its sort of like "Where does the rubber meet the road?". In CMX1, its at the unit level. Company command, briefings, reaction to battle, etc is all at the unit menu. Since its the human (or computer) that is allowed to micro operate at this level, the abuse is extensive. Delays, while a good abstraction, did not capture all the layers of complexity in Large infantry battles.

The game does a reasonable good simulation at a single platoon level agme. It diverges from reality at company/battalion levels.

Edit: Delays are still a good thing. Hopefully, they will still be used to some extent in the game. Its just they can not be used to model higher level mechanics of a battlefield IMO.

[ March 03, 2005, 07:29 AM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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Originally posted by aka_tom_w:

To test the new game Steve should REALLY find some folks that LOVE computer games and JUST sit them in front of a pre-release CMx2 demo and watch them play and watch what they do, (given they have NO previous experience with any CMxx product) the observations and experience for BFC could be VERY informative and enlightening. Especially around User Interface design.

One area of the game that would benefit from a rethink is the mechanism by which commands are given.

The problem is that, as Tom is suggesting, at this point we're all too inured to the current system to be able to imagine another way of doing things. But another way of doing things is exactly what I'm hoping for from CMx2.

Blinkered by the past I can't make as incisive a commentary as I would like, and, in any case, a detailed commentary about what orders should be different, or how going about giving them should be done differently, is meaningless at this point, especially if you can't see most of what is going into the game.

Thinking back to what I don't like about the user interface in CMx1 (besides a more rousing victory screen sequence that presents the opportunity to mod some naked elves cavorting -- screenshots of 19th century painting on this topic available on request), what it comes down to is the rather useless impressionistic comment that it is a bit clunky and hard to use. Leaving aside discussions of march column and vehicle column commands (but I really hope you're going to do something about that, Steve), I think what might help a bit would be a few command shortcuts, maybe sequences of hotkeys that don't appear in the main menu. For example, I don't use the group command because it doesn't really do what I want it to do, but it's a neat idea. Unless there's something about it that I don't understand (and there's a lot I don't understand, including why there's air) it would be really nice to be able to set waypoints with it. That way you could navigate a platoon around an obstacle (like avoiding a clearing that would be suicidal to enter, or moving around a flank keeping a small hill as cover between you and the enemy), and then go in and shift a few waypoints on individual squads which you noticed were slated to move in less desirable patterns. Something like this is not unrealistic, it's simply the mechanistic version of the captain telling the lieutenant to walk his platoon around that hill, or to take his fully deployed platoon across the river over that bridge (try that one with the current group move command !).

I'm not trying to turn this into a discussion of what features would be neat to add to the interface. Neat is not the point. I still fume that I think it makes no sense to even attempt to use Franko's rules because the interface simply isn't designed to allow it -- I can't control the camera well enough at FPS eye level to give reasonable commands in a reasonable amount of time, even though I would dearly love to operate in that kind of information deficit.

But I think this brings up another aspect of the God-like knowledge problem. As things stand, one of the unspoken roles of the human player is to repair gaps in the interface by human intervention. The problem is that to be able to intervene effectively, you have to know too much.

The ideal would be not having to intervene at all, but that will mean shifting the mechanical burden back to the TAC AI. Is it up to it?

One of the things I like about not having a waypoint-linked movement penalty in CMBO is that it allows me to assign what I consider to be a realistic movement path to my units. Left to my own devices my troops and vehicles in CMBO move somewhat more realistically than in CMBB (especially when they go around bends in the road).

I think it's areas like this that Tom's uncorrupted CM player would pick up on right away -- the rest of us are too used to the status quo to even remember why the interface didn't seem natural too us the first time we used it.

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As far as Delays. Do not confuse Delays, which model intra-platoon combat 'missions' coordination nicely, with delays in 'Convoy Missions'.

When giving movement commands for an infantry platoon attack, the delay is also modeling the platoon coordination needed so that people get up off the ground secure in the knowledge that everyone else is on the same plan.

If you have ever done this, you know its not just the time it takes a squad to stand up and move to another position. Its the time that the platoon HQ decides where he will send one of his units (or more), the time it takes to get another squad to cover them, and the time it takes to coordinate all that.

The amount of delay should be a function of what SOP that platoon is under, the number of units actually moving (having one fireteam move while everyone else covering resulting in a shorter delay as an example), the number of designated targets that the covering units are given ("you shoot up that house, you shoot up that bunker, etc"), the experience/leadership of platoon HQ/troops, etc.

So for a Airborne platoon that is under some Attack type SOP, with excellent leaders that wants to just give covered arcs to most covering troops and only wants to get a bazooka (that was attached to the platoon HQ) up to a crossroads 25 meters away, the delay would be minimal. But if its a conscript platoon, under a 'Hold' SOP, with a pinned HQ and wants to advance two squads (recently attached from a destroyed company)through a minefield to attack a bunker, well the delay may be substantial.

If you had a truck platoon moving up a road under a 'Convoy' SOP, you should be able to give as many movement orders (all same 'speed') as you need as long as it follows the waypoint roughly. Delay would be initially minimal and then perhaps non-existant.

[ March 03, 2005, 08:27 AM: Message edited by: Wartgamer ]

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inured

adj : made tough by habitual exposure; "hardened fishermen"; "a peasant, dark, lean-faced, wind-inured"- Robert Lynd; "our successors...may be graver, more inured and equable men"- V.S.Pritchett [syn: enured, hardened]

I figure I as have a pretty good vocabulary but I had to look it up because I have never heard the word before.

But I am happy to learn a NEW one here today smile.gif

AND inured is IT! smile.gif

-tom w

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OH YES!

Lets work on this

I think this needs a whole NEW thread

These are some points taken from Philippe's comments in the previous post:

1) A rather useless impressionistic comment that it is a bit clunky and hard to use.

2) Maybe a discussion of march column and vehicle column commands (but I really hope you're going to do something about that, Steve)

3) what might help a bit would be a few command shortcuts, maybe sequences of hotkeys that don't appear in the main menu.

4) I can't control the camera well enough at FPS eye level to give reasonable commands in a reasonable amount of time, even though I would dearly love to operate in that kind of information deficit.

5) I think it's areas like this that Tom's uncorrupted CM player would pick up on right away -- the rest of us are too used to the status quo to even remember why the interface didn't seem natural too us the first time we used it.

AND yes I agree with #5) especially. The CMxx games ARE GREAT games but they LEAVE a great deal to be desired from the point of view of the user interface.

I am VERY sorry to be critical but the user interface for the scenario editor and the Map builder is somewhat akin to using a chisel and a stone tablet to carve out your idea's on BUT Wargamer GEEKs don't really seem to care and to be honest I have not heard or read about any other bitching or moaning about how horrible the UI on the Map Editor is. We just seem to use it and deal with it and carry on! :rolleyes:

-tom w

Originally posted by Philippe:

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by aka_tom_w:

To test the new game Steve should REALLY find some folks that LOVE computer games and JUST sit them in front of a pre-release CMx2 demo and watch them play and watch what they do, (given they have NO previous experience with any CMxx product) the observations and experience for BFC could be VERY informative and enlightening. Especially around User Interface design.

One area of the game that would benefit from a rethink is the mechanism by which commands are given.

The problem is that, as Tom is suggesting, at this point we're all too inured to the current system to be able to imagine another way of doing things. But another way of doing things is exactly what I'm hoping for from CMx2.

Blinkered by the past I can't make as incisive a commentary as I would like, and, in any case, a detailed commentary about what orders should be different, or how going about giving them should be done differently, is meaningless at this point, especially if you can't see most of what is going into the game.

Thinking back to what I don't like about the user interface in CMx1 (besides a more rousing victory screen sequence that presents the opportunity to mod some naked elves cavorting -- screenshots of 19th century painting on this topic available on request), what it comes down to is the rather useless impressionistic comment that it is a bit clunky and hard to use. Leaving aside discussions of march column and vehicle column commands (but I really hope you're going to do something about that, Steve), I think what might help a bit would be a few command shortcuts, maybe sequences of hotkeys that don't appear in the main menu. For example, I don't use the group command because it doesn't really do what I want it to do, but it's a neat idea. Unless there's something about it that I don't understand (and there's a lot I don't understand, including why there's air) it would be really nice to be able to set waypoints with it. That way you could navigate a platoon around an obstacle (like avoiding a clearing that would be suicidal to enter, or moving around a flank keeping a small hill as cover between you and the enemy), and then go in and shift a few waypoints on individual squads which you noticed were slated to move in less desirable patterns. Something like this is not unrealistic, it's simply the mechanistic version of the captain telling the lieutenant to walk his platoon around that hill, or to take his fully deployed platoon across the river over that bridge (try that one with the current group move command !).

I'm not trying to turn this into a discussion of what features would be neat to add to the interface. Neat is not the point. I still fume that I think it makes no sense to even attempt to use Franko's rules because the interface simply isn't designed to allow it -- I can't control the camera well enough at FPS eye level to give reasonable commands in a reasonable amount of time, even though I would dearly love to operate in that kind of information deficit.

But I think this brings up another aspect of the God-like knowledge problem. As things stand, one of the unspoken roles of the human player is to repair gaps in the interface by human intervention. The problem is that to be able to intervene effectively, you have to know too much.

The ideal would be not having to intervene at all, but that will mean shifting the mechanical burden back to the TAC AI. Is it up to it?

One of the things I like about not having a waypoint-linked movement penalty in CMBO is that it allows me to assign what I consider to be a realistic movement path to my units. Left to my own devices my troops and vehicles in CMBO move somewhat more realistically than in CMBB (especially when they go around bends in the road).

I think it's areas like this that Tom's uncorrupted CM player would pick up on right away -- the rest of us are too used to the status quo to even remember why the interface didn't seem natural too us the first time we used it. </font>

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