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What the hell is 'Borg Spotting' ?


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For example, a Combat Mission Jeep flies over a ridge at 70kmh, and in the instant before it is blown up it sees the layout of the enemy defenses, how many tanks, where they are, etc.

This information is seen by the player, who can respond to the information, when "in real life" the Jeep would not have been able to report anything to the commander, and the player should be no wiser about what lay on the other side of the ridge.

The opposite; relative spotting, somehow simulates these communication issues, but seems like it would be impractical to implement it in CM.

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There's a lot that has already been posted about this subject. If you're interested in details, I suggest using the search button.

However, since some don't bother searching, I feel it's important to point out that there are two seperate game mechanics issues that are often lumped together is "borg spotting," but are actually totally seperate things.

The first is the aforementioned god-like player omniscence -- once any one unit spots an enemy, the player instantly knows about said enemy and can react accordingly. Obviously, IRL this would not be the case. While the unrealistic effects of this kind of Borg Spotting can be limited by game features like command delay, units dropping completely "out of command" if they stray too far from C&C, etc. it probably can never be completely eliminated unless you want to turn CM into a very boring game where player control of the action after setting the initial battle plan is very restricted.

The other big Borg Spotting issue in CM is TacAI Borg Spotting. That is, the computer TacAI for each individual unit "knows" about any enemy unit that *any* other friendly unit has spotted. For example, an overwatching MG instantly knows of an enemy infantry contact in woods 800m away the moment a closer scouting infantry team sees the enemy. Obviously, IRL it would take some time for the info about the enemy contact to make it to the MG team, and then they would have to do some searching on their own to establish hard contact.

This second Borg Spotting issue has far-reaching effects on CM tactics. For example, It makes scouting infantry ahead of tanks MUCH more effective than in IRL. In CM, most players put infantry at least 200m in front of tanks to spot threats. As soon as anything opens up on the infantry, the tanks take it under fire. IRL, tanks following hundreds of meters behind infantry might have real trouble spotting threats on their own, and there would be considerable delay while forward infantry units communicated to their armored support where they needed fire support. When you consider C&C issues, it suddenly makes more sense that IRL the infantry were often just a few meters ahead of their tanks. While not ideal in terms of providing a distance buffer, at least with proximity the infantry and tanks could communicate more easily.

The good news is, this second Borg spotting issue is probably more fixable. It's still complicated, and involves some challenging programming and conceptual problems (example: how to efficiently model radio nets?), but BFC has made it clear some kind of fix to the TacAI borg spotting problem is a major priority for CMX2.

Cheers,

YD

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I think the omniscience is the worst. But like you said the game would be dull if it were restricted.

Imagine a game where you are the commander, in a tent in the woods, listening to fragments of radio calls and being handed slips of paper with fragmented information. You could issue orders but you would have to infer the results. No total situational awareness. No cool explosions. None of the things that are so much fun to watch. It would be realistic but not much fun.

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once any one unit spots an enemy, the player instantly knows about said enemy and can react accordingly. Obviously, IRL this would not be the case.
...well...

In real life, soldiers are trained to report contacts as quickly as possible - and where radios are involved, you'll get a "Contact wait out!" call the second contact is made, and as soon as the unit is out of immdiate danger, a more detailed contact report will be issued that includes a grid reference good to 100m

It is standard procedure for anybody on the radio to plot those contacts on their map - and of course, those contacts are being relayed to higher commands.

If somebody's contact winds up being in your field of vision, the next thing that happens is an intensive search to locate that contact.

While this doesn't happen in RL quite as quickly as in the game, you might be suprised at just how quickly contact information is shared and just how seriously soldiers take reporting, plotting and tracking contacts.

Imagine a game where you are the commander, in a tent in the woods, listening to fragments of radio calls and being handed slips of paper with fragmented information.
Unless the game was called "WW1 Corps Commander" you'd have a hard time finding a place where it would be appropriate. Commanders at anything batallion/squadron sized and smaller are intimately involved with their troops, and will place themselves where they can have the largest possible influence over the battle. Tactical level command is very much a hands-on deal.

In CM, most players put infantry at least 200m in front of tanks to spot threats. As soon as anything opens up on the infantry, the tanks take it under fire. IRL, tanks following hundreds of meters behind infantry might have real trouble spotting threats on their own, and there would be considerable delay while forward infantry units communicated to their armored support where they needed fire support.
Uhh...

First off, infantry naturally avoid tanks, for a couple of reasons:

1) Tanks are big, noisy, smelly, and attract enemy fire like moths to a flame. They get shot at a lot, often with really big weapons that make really big bangs - and big bangs are not your friends.

2) Tanks taken uder fire react violently. Depending on the terrain, a tank may suddenly reverse or charge forward (seeking cover) and if you are between Mr Tank and where he wants to be, you stand a very good chance of becoming Track Grease.

Giving tanks 200m of maneuver room is not at all unrealistic.

Secondly, when tanks and infantry advance in concert, the zipperheads are every bit as keyed up as the infantry. They are a little more worried about anti-tank weapons... but even plain ol' infantry will get their attention. If the pongos 200m ahead of you suddenly chew dirt and start putting fire down, you'll probably open up before you even know what you're shooting at.

Thirdly, everybody has spent a huge amount of time being taught "action on" drills, to the point where it's almost reflex. Most action on contact drills involve putting out fire in the general direction of the enemy.

If I'm a troop leader with 4 tanks advancing in support of an infantry attack, I will be identifying potential trouble spots to my gunner as we move along, and will pre-authorise him to take certain actions.

"Gunner, if the pongos chew dirt, open up with the coax on the big bush up there until I figure out where the fire is coming from and give you fire direction"

DG

[ October 15, 2004, 11:13 AM: Message edited by: Dennis Grant ]

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Dennis --

While I don't think we disagree in general, I do think you're being more than a bit optimistic about how quickly and easily infantry and tanks could communicate in WWII.

I absolutely agree that it was certainly something units trained to do. However, keep in mind that most infantry platoons in WWII did NOT have radios -- even in the US Army, which was probably the best-equipped of any combatant as far as wireless communication, only the Company commander typically have a radio operator with him. Radios at the platoon or squad level were uncommon, and the radios used at this level were also notoriously unreliable.

So in order for a forward infantry squad to actually communicate by radio to tanks some 200m behind them, they would usually have to first send a runner to the Company HQ and THEN the Company HQ could relay the message to the tanks. Of course, there's also hand signals, colored smoke grenades to mark targets etc. But all of these have obvious limitations. For starters, communicating by hand signal involves keeping a clear line of sight and is also limited in terms of the detail that that can be relayed -- The equivalent of "fire on that house" might be possible, but "fire into the top window on the NE corner of the 3rd house to the North of the bridge" would be a bit difficult to relay quikly by hand signal! Also keep in mind that the tank crew can't necessarily open up on any signs of movement or fire that they see -- making sure that fire lanes are clear and that they're not actually opening up on friendlies is a very real problem.

But in general I do agree that every attempt is made to relay contacts to friendly units. I certainly don't think it would be realistic to have tanks 200m behind infantry for minutes on end without engaging enemy spotted by the forward infantry. But there's a HUGE tactical difference between the instantaneous reaction in CM now, and even a relatively short delay of, say 10-20 seconds between when the forward infantry first makes contact, and the tanks actually spot the enemy and begin firing.

As for the whole thing about infantry not liking to be on top of tanks, all your points are certainly true. However, there are many AARs and first person accounts WWII for all combatants where the infantry is specifically described as advancing within a few tens of meters of the tanks. I suspect that, IRL it was a trade-off and the decision as to how the infantry should be to the tanks depended on factors such as expected resistance, terrain, etc.

I guess my point is this: IRL, it apparently sometimes was a better choice tactically for the infantry to precede the tanks by a few hundred meters, and it sometimes was better for the infantry to be much closer. I suspect the reason that being really close to the tanks was that sometimes the advantage of quick and easy communication outweighed the negatives. In contrast, in CM there is *no* benefit to having your infantry closer to your tanks. In fact, in CM so long as the tank has a good HE gun (as opposed to AFV that have to rely on range-limited MGs for anti-infantry firepower), it's generally better to keep your tanks as far behind the infantry as possible so long as the tanks still have LOS to possible enemy hiding spots -- there's no inherent negative in having your supporting tanks 1km behind if LOS conditions allow.

Actually, while we're on the subject, I'd love to hear any input from any of the forum members with military experience on this subject -- especially anybody with actual training in AFV/Infantry mutual support tactics.

Given an "average" situation of an infantry force with AFVs on overwatch advancing through moderate terrain (some cover, but not really dense like woods or urban), does anybody with actual experience care to comment on how much time would pass between initial contact by the forwardmost infantry, and the AFVs actually opening up on enemy targets? Assume an enemy contact that would be difficult, but not impossible for the AFV crew to spot on their own (i.e., it will take a lot of searching to find the enemy unless someone from the infantry communicates to the AFV crew exactly where to look).

I'm sure modern innovations in communications and spotting gear have sped things up considerably, but I'd still love to hear some actual numbers from those in the know. . .

Cheers,

YD

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So in order for a forward infantry squad to actually communicate by radio to tanks some 200m behind them, they would usually have to first send a runner to the Company HQ and THEN the Company HQ could relay the message to the tanks.
You don't need a radio message to the tanks to get them to open up.

The CC in the tank is much higher off the ground than the infantry, and he has binos. The gunner is midway between the ground and the CC, and he (usually) has optics. Between the two of them, they can see better and farther to the front than the infantry can - at least, until they button up.

In a combined advance, the tanks fulfill a sort of "rolling overwatch" job. The rate of advance is much slower than the normal bound->bound speed, so spotting is nice and easy. More time is spent peering through the binos at potential targets, and less time keeping the damn driver from killing you. smile.gif

Furthermore, when the enemy opens up on the pongos, they all fall on their faces. It's the universal sign for "we've made contact" and it, as a CC, has a way of immediately grabbing your attention. As does tracer, muzzle smoke, etc.

Not to mention... 200m is not a far distance. 200m is actually really close.

there are many AARs and first person accounts WWII for all combatants where the infantry is specifically described as advancing within a few tens of meters of the tanks.
And I'll bet that, at the time, visibility forward was really poor. For overwatch to work, the vision limits of the infantry and the tanks needs to be about the same. So in close country, separation distances shrink, and in open country, they spread out.

Given an "average" situation of an infantry force with AFVs on overwatch advancing through moderate terrain (some cover, but not really dense like woods or urban), does anybody with actual experience care to comment on how much time would pass between initial contact by the forwardmost infantry, and the AFVs actually opening up on enemy targets?
"One Zero, this is One One, contact, wait out!"

"One Zero, this is One One, Contact, grid 123456, infantry in treeline, at least one MMG. Engaging, over"

"One One, this is One Zero, contact grid 123456, infantry in treeline, over"

"One One roger out"

"India One One, this is Tango Two One. Is your last contact about three fingers left of that telephone pole on axis of advance? Over"

"India One One roger, over"

"Tango Two One roger, we'll lay down supressive fire. Got get him!, over"

"India One One. Works for me. Lift fire on my call, over"

"Tango Two One roger, we'll supress until you call. Out."

...about that fast... :D

DG

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Ummm. . . still doesn't really answer my question.

As I said before, the forward most infantry in WWII would NOT have radios, so they wouldn't be talking to a tank crew directly -- the message would first have to get to the Company CO to have any chance of a radio relay. Unless, of course, the Company CO was far enough forward to see the contact himself. But this was only sometimes the case -- he has to be in a central location where he can maintain communication with all advancing units, and probably often won't be able to see what the point squads can see.

And forward infantry definitely did NOT carry grid maps in WWII. Company COs might have them, but usually not platoon and squad leaders. So there's also some time involved while whoever is on the radio translates the immediate Mk. 1 eyball info (i.e., MG42 in that red farmhouse!) into "MG42 in building at Grid XXXXXX"

So I ask again, how long in seconds from the first "rrrrip!" of an MG42 opening up to the first "BOOM!" of a Sherman's 75mm gun 200m behind the infantry, and therefore probably more like 400-600m away from the MG contact?

Incidentally, I'm taking a WAG that the actual radio communication segment of the call for suppressive fire like you've outlined above is probably going to take somewhere in the 10-30 second range given the radio technology of the time -- if you've ever played on a WWII-era set, even with a strong signal, clarity is not great, and you have to talk really slowly and repeat stuff a lot to be understood.

Cheers,

YD

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Originally posted by MikeyD:

"Borg Spotting" is proof, if proof were needed, that the board is mainly populated by Star Trek geeks. tongue.gif:D

Damn Straight!

AND Proud of IT!!

Live Long and Prosper!

-tom w

for more on Borg spotting its origins and possible "fixes" you might be interested in this thread:

http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=024461;p=1

James Crowley

Member

Member # 5698

posted April 18, 2002 02:53 PM                       

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have recently been giving the matter of relative spotting, a concept apparently consigned to the “re-write”, some thought and believe that the current engine already contains the necessary elements, by and large, to produce the desired results.

Before I expand on the above it might be a good idea to reiterate what “relative spotting” is and, more importantly, what impact that it’s implementation could have in more realistically portraying the realities of command and control.

This is perhaps better done by example.

Picture an infantry platoon, consisting of three squads and an HQ, moving in formation, all in command control range. As it approaches a belt of trees the lead squad comes under fire from an unidentified enemy unit, takes two casualties and is pinned. The platoon HQ immediately orders the second squad to open fire on the enemy position and the third squad to move off to the right and using a gulley for cover, to advance and attack the enemy position from the flank when in a position to do so.

The third squad moves off as ordered and, as it has no radio (in common with the vast majority of units at that level in WW2) is soon too far away from its HQ to be in command control. It proceeds along the gulley until it reaches the belt of trees, moves toward the enemy position but then runs into another, as yet unseen, enemy squad, comes under fire, takes casualties and is also pinned.

The reality of that situation is that the HQ is unaware of the third squad’s current status, is unaware of the existence of the second enemy unit and cannot issue any further orders to that third squad. Why? Because the third squad and the HQ have no means of communicating with each other; they are out of the C&C radius.

The same situation in CMBO is very different. As soon as the third squad spots the second enemy unit and gets fired upon the player knows it’s status, can still give it orders (although they will be delayed) and, more importantly, is instantly aware of the existence and position of an enemy which, in reality, would be unknown and can react to that unrealistic situation accordingly

IMO that is essence of relative spotting.

There are probably very many ways of over-coming this problem but I am looking at the simplest way, which introduces the least number of changes, at least IMO (without, it must be admitted, any programming knowledge)

Using the above example, let us first look at the second, previously unspotted enemy squad. It has always been there but with FoW on, does not show up on the map because it has not been spotted by a friendly unit. It is now spotted by a squad which has no means of conveying this information elsewhere but, in CMBO, its’ presence is still revealed.

Suppose that the spotting unit is flagged as “out of CC” and therefore, as a result, the enemy unit is not revealed. This seems reasonable in that you, the player, are not given the “all-seeing eye” over the battlefield. However, what about the spotting squad, which obviously can see the enemy unit? This squad is still providing visual info. But not if you are no longer given access to that squad. Instead, that spotting squad becomes flagged as “out of CC” and is treated like an enemy unit as far as visual displays are concerned i.e. you can only see it as a “last seen at” marker and when that marker is clicked on the display only shows the name and type and its last known status (or maybe just “unknown” status.)

Nothing new here in the visuals department, except you now have generic country markers for friendly “out of CC” units as well as for previously spotted enemy units.

The primary and probably the most controversial departure from the norm is that there will possibly be more units over which you, as player, do not have control. But this seems entirely realistic to me. After all we accept that squads which are in certain states cannot be controlled; pinned, panicked, broken…. why not out of command?

In previous threads on this forum, this type of suggestion has led to protests from those who say they do not want a command level game; they want to control all of their units all of the time.

Well, as I have said you cannot control all of your units at all times anyway. Also who gains from the current “all knowing, all seeing” status of CMBO.

Those who set-up their forces in non-historical, un-military fashion, scattered as they please, without due regard to staying in command control. Those who set up a few half-squads or MG teams or jeeps to act as unofficial “scouts,” relaying back intelligence of spotted enemy positions whilst they are way out of realistic command range. And so on.

The only other change would be that the order delay function, still present for in command units, would be relegated for out of command units altogether as it would no longer be needed.

Surely the trade-off in having, perhaps only temporarily, a few more units not in the players direct control is amply repaid by the great reduction of the “god” factor and by the fact that it would encourage players to adopt a more historical and realistic approach to keeping their platoons (and this could be extended to companies and battalions) in command and control range. It would also tend to amplify the role of HQ’s to something like that of their real life counterparts.

Just a few thoughts.

--------------------

Cheers, Jim.

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As I said before, the forward most infantry in WWII would NOT have radios, so they wouldn't be talking to a tank crew directly -- the message would first have to get to the Company CO to have any chance of a radio relay.
Your first premise I agree with, but I disagree with the second.

The infantry don't need to actually talk to the tank to get it to do anything. The tank is populated with a fully-functional crew entirely capable of making its own decisions and taking it's own actions.

It's _nice_ (and where possible, such as modern times where everybody has a radio, common practice) to quickly touch base with each other to help co-ordinate actions and avoid fratricide. But where that is not possible (for whatever reason) you fall back on established SOP and the personal initiative of the commanders.

Furthermore, missions don't spring out of the vacuum. An advance to combat with infantry leading and tanks in direct support would have been preceeded by a serious of orders groups where the concept of the operation would have laid out and a number of co-ordination actions would have been explicitly spelled out. Details vary nation to nation (and commander to commander) but you can count on all the subalterns having a map with the trace on it and (time permitting) they would have gone up to the start line to recce out the ground as best they could before the fact.

The quality of this is going to vary a lot, and so is hard to quantify in game terms... but there is a lot more pre-H-hour preparation going on than seems to be realized.

During the actual advance, the tanks will have orders as to what to do on contact, and will (if the mission commander has any brains at all) will be positioned such that the limits of their forward LOS correspond to the limits of LOS of the main body of the infantry. In open country where visibility is good, the separation could well be upwards of 200m. In close country, separation is going to be far closer - terrain dictates.

On contact, the infantry is going to chew dirt and return fire. The act of everybody hitting the ground is going to draw the CC's attention (assuming he doesn't see the initial contact at the same time as the infantry) He gets further clues as to where the contact is coming from via the way the infantry position themselves and from watching where their tracers are going (and from rifle fire, where the dust is being kicked up) He _should_ be able to spot where the fire is coming from in short order, and if he cannot, he'll move around until he can. Once spotted, he'll (probably - depends on SOPs) engage.

This isn't the same thing as "borg spotting", but a trained crew properly positioned should be capable of spotting and returning fire as fast or faster (they aren't chewing dirt) than the infantry they are supporting. If they are NOT capable of such, then they are being mismanaged.

However, what about the spotting squad, which obviously can see the enemy unit? This squad is still providing visual info. But not if you are no longer given access to that squad.
Here's the problem with that: you, as the player, "are" that squad. Your invisible, all-controlling hand inhabits that squad every bit as much as you do the commanding units.

You have to be; the AI is not sophisticated enough to be able to duplicate the potential of an enterprising squad leader acting under his own initiative.

In RL, sections do not just pin and sit around waiting for someone to tell them what to do; they actively seek to carry out their last orders and/or destroy the enemy.

It proceeds along the gulley until it reaches the belt of trees, moves toward the enemy position but then runs into another, as yet unseen, enemy squad, comes under fire, takes casualties and is also pinned.
So in this case (in RL) the section commander is going to attempt to get fire on the enemy to supress him, ir if he cannot, withdraw to cover. Then he is likely to send a runner to the platoon commander to inform him of the situation, and then come up with a plan as to what to do next.

He might choose to assault the enemy directly. He might choose to supress and wait for further instructions. He might choose to break contact, and attmpt to find another route to carry out the originally intended flanking attack on the first position. He might even choose to break and run. But just because he is temporarily out of contact with a higher HQ doesn't make him hors de combat.

DG

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  • 2 weeks later...

JonS --

Yes, you are so right; I should have been more clear; a more accurate statement would be "I absolutely agree that it [tank-inf cooperation] was certainly something some units trained to do.

In fact, as I think you are implying the actual degree of tank-infantry cooperative training varied from quite extensive, as in the case veteran Panzergrenadier and Russian Tankodesantniki units, to virtually nonexistent, as in early war US infantry divisions with attached independent tank battalions.

But back to Dennis' reponses:

I absolutely agree that a tank crew overwatching an infantry will take enemy under fire if and when they know the location of the enemy contact. However, there are many situations where the tanks, 200m or more behind the lead infantry, may not be able to make out the source of incoming fire for quite some time.

Binoculars and gunsight optics are great and providing magnification and more detail, but they also limit your field of view; you have to have some idea of where to look first.

Again take the hypothetical situation of an infantry company advancing into an enemy-held village, with a platoon of tanks 200m or more behind in support. Say the infantry gets pinned down about 300m from the edge of the town by a couple of MGs from somewhere inside the village. So the tanks are at least 500m away from the enemy MGs. A well emplaced MG can be very difficult to spot with the naked eye -- I've read accounts of infantry not being able to spot a firing MG team less than 200m for extended periods of time. And in the situation of an advance on a village, there are literally dozens of possible locations for the MGs -- in one of the buildings, in a patch of brush or small stand of trees, etc.

Evenutally, I'm sure that the tanks will figure out where the MGs are and take them under fire. As I see it, this could happen in one of three basic ways: (1) one of the tank crew members happens to be looking in the right place at the right time and spots a muzzle flash, (2) the infantry manages to give the tanks a general idea of the location of the enemy by hand signal or similar means, which narrows the search area, enabling the tanks to spot the enemy and take them under fire, or (3) a runner from the forward infantry actually gets back to the tanks (or to a radio in contact w/ the tanks) and communicates the exact location of the enemy contact.

So yes, eventually the tanks figure out, or have communicated to them, where the enemy is, and open up. But it will take time -- maybe only a few seconds if a TC gets lucky and happens to be looking at the right spot through is binocs, but perhaps even minutes in the case of green troops with no tank-infantry training, no radio connection, and bad luck.

The reason all this is important is that delay on the attack often equals artillery coming down on the infantry's head. Even an extra 10-20 seconds of delay can be costly. On the longer end, with Green troops and no radios, those infantry pinned in the open waiting for the tanks to open up are going to be sitting ducks if the defense has any indirect fire capability at all.

Of course, in fairness, similar factors also come in to play on the defense. In the above example, CM allows the defending player to put the HMGs farther back in the village, and use forward infantry scouts to spot the advancing enemy. You can then instantly direct fire from the MGs at the enemy infantry once they're spotted (actually the TacAI will even do this for you). IRL, the more distant MG teams might have difficulty spotting the approching enemy on their own, and so there would be some delay while the information from the forward OP/LPs was communicated to them.

So ultimately, I think a good 'fix' to borg spotting is going to require a much more detailed modeling of communications between units. Again using the above example, the initial chance of the tanks spotting the MG should probably small, representing the tankers actually managing to spot the MGs completely on their own. The spotting probability should then probably rise after an interval representing the tanks getting *some* info from the infantry (as in a hand signal giving them a line of bearing to look along), and then finally rise to a very high spotting chance as the actual detailed info reaches the tanks by runner or radio.

What exactly the spotting chances should be per unit time, and how quickly they should rise obviously depends a lot on unit training, conditions, etc. It will also take more detailed modeling of which units have radios and which don't etc. I'm sure things will have to be abstracted to a considerable degree if we want CMX2 to be released before the next milennium, but I'm very hopeful Charles & Co. will figure out some elegant solutions to this whole mess.

Cheers,

YD

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Originally posted by dieseltaylor:

That James Crawley sure had a good idea about Comman Control - looks like a great improvement ... I wonder if it is in the next generation game

UM

here are some BFC answers:

ig Time Software

unregistered

posted April 26, 2002 11:13 PM                

Oh my God but this is a really big thread

Folks, the crux of the issue is this...

Do people want a Command Style, Micromanagement Style, or Multi-Level Style game? These are terms I made up to illustrate the three major groupings. I define each as such:

1. Command Style - you are in ONE definite position of command. You can only influence the battlefield as that one command position would allow in the real world. More importantly, all subordinate units under your command would behave 100% autonomously from your will unless you were able to realistically give them "orders". I am not just talking about radio or messanger contact, but chain of command.

A Major does NOT go and order some buck private to move his MG to a better spot. He orders a Captain to set up a certain type of position in a certain location ("set up a defensive line along the north side of Hill 345"), the Captain then issues more specific commands to his LTs. ("1st Platoon go to that stand of trees, 2nd Platoon down thee road a click, 3rd Platoon deploy to 2nd's right), then each LT gives orders to his SGTs to deploy a little bit more specifically ("1st Squad, take that wall over there, 2nd Squad see if that house has a good field of fire on that gully over there, 3rd Squad go over there and see what you can do about covering that road junction"), and then each SGT in turn yells at various peeons to get moving to a VERY specific location ("behind that tree, numbnuts! Smitty!! Damn your soul... get that MG set up pronto behind that boulder facing that way or I'll tapdance on your butt for the rest of the day").

Now, in such a system the Major (that would be you!) does not know or even care about these details. That is called deligation of responsibility and initiative, which is what every modern armed force is trained around doing. The Major's responsibilities are to keep in touch with his neighboring formations and higher HQ, requisitioning stuff (units, supplies, guns, etc.) to get his mission accomplished, and making sure everything is running smoothly before, during, and after contact with the enemy. In non combat situations there are a LOT more responsibilities than that, but we are only focusing on the combat aspect.

What each unit under his command can or can not see, shoot at, or deal with is NOT the Major's direct concern. It is the direct concern of the unit in question and its HQ. The Major is, of course, trying to get as much information as possible so he can best lead the battle, but he doesn't care a hoot if there is an enemy squad 203.4 meters and closing on 1st Squad, 3rd Platoon, E Company. At least specifically he doesn't care.

So there you have it. This is how REAL combat works in terms of C&C. There is absolutely no way to simulate the reality of the battlefield without taking the player's mits 99% off direct control of units.

2. Micromanagement Style - You read all of the above, correct? Well, forget about it A Mircormanagement style game doesn't give a hoot about command and control aspects of warfare. You get some units, you use units as you see fit. When you click on one of the units you can order it to do whatever the heck you want without any thoughts about command and control. I would even include games with very primative attempts at C&C being lumped into this group.

3. Multi-Level Style - The player is neither a single commander nor an über micromanager. Orders can be given to any unit, but those orders and behaviors are influenced, to some degree or another, by Command and Control rules. In other words, you CAN order that individual MG to move 2.5 meters to the left, but you can not do this for "free". Some set of rules are set up to make such an order be more or less effective depending on the circumstances (in/out C&C, good/poor morale, good/poor experience, etc). The player is therefore still has far more flexability than a single commander would ever have, but not total and utter control in any and all circumstances.

Examples of each game...

Command Style - I know of no commercial wargame in existance that does this type of simulation. A game like the upcoming Airborne Assault comes VERY close, but even that one doesn't limit you to one command position with only the ability to see and affect the action as that one position would allow.

Micromanagement Style - best example I can give you guys is something like Panzer General or Close Combat. In both of these games you could order your units to do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted without the slightest interference in terms of command decisions.

Multi-Level Style - Combat Mission and Steel Panthers come to mind. The original system in Steel Panthers was quite simplistic compared to Combat Mission's, but both sought to penalize units which lacked C&C with their higher HQs. Combat Mission took many previous game concepts a few steps further, as well as adding a few new ones of its own. Some games, like Combat Mission, lean more towards Command Style while others, like Airborne Assault go even further. Other games, like Steel Panthers, lean more towards Micromanagement Style.

In terms of realism, Command Style is the highest ideal, Micromanagement the lowest, and Multi-Level somewhere inbetween. In terms of playability, Micromanagement is the highest ideal, Command Style the lowest, and Multi-Level somewhere inbetween.

In terms of proven trackrecord of being fun, the pie is split between Micromanagement and Multi-Level. No wargame has ever fit the definition of Command Style, so it has no reecord. We are not going to try and be the first because we would rather watch paint dry than play such a game. And we are very sure that 99% of our customers would agree. And that 1% would most likely not really wind up liking the game anyway. Sometimes people need to be careful about what they ask for because they just might get it

Command Style games do not exist for a reason. They are nearly impossible to make (the AI necessary boggles the mind!) and the gameplay value near non existant. So why bother trying?

Instead we will make Combat Mission more realistic through our system of Relative Spotting. Reading through some of the posts here, I don't think people necessarily totally understand what a profound impact it will have on the game. Will it make CM 100% realistic? No, and I pitty any fool developer who attempts such a silly venture. But will CM be more realistic than any Squad level wargame yet? Well... of course we already think it is , but we know we can do better.

So until we get into coding the new engine, do a search on Relative Spotting and see what has been said on the subject before. Lots of good stuff to read through.

Steve

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Big Time Software

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posted April 26, 2002 11:27 PM                

U8lead asked:

quote:

Do units in C&C spot and ID better then the same units out of C&C in the current game?

And if so, do any of the HQ bonuses (possibly combat bonus) apply to spotting and ID?

If units out of C&C had a substantialy reduced positive ID range would that help Borg ID?

No, no, and no

Why should a unit out of C&C be able to see less far? How is that more realistic? And if it can't see out as far, but in real life should, how does that affect the realistic ability of that individual unit to respond to the oncoming threat? Should a Tiger Tank with a Crack crew sit around NOT spotting an ISU-152 which it should plainly see, just because it doesn't have radio contact with BN HQ? I think not I also think we would have people screaming at us until we "fixed it or did somefink"

This is one of the fundamental problems I have seen in discussions like this. And that is thinking that unrealistically penalizing an individual unit somehow makes the game more realistic. At best it is a wash. At worst, it makes the game on the whole less realistic.

For example, not allowing a unit out of C&C to do anything until it is in C&C is totally unrealistic. Such a system simply swaps in one Borg behavior for another. It doesn't make the game any more realistic, but instead hobbles real life flexibility to the point of making the game unplayable and a joke of a simulation. Don't believe me? Try this one out...

Let us assume that units have to be in C&C with their higher HQs to pass on information and receive orders. OK, can anybody tell me what would happen, under this system, if the BN HQ unit got whacked on the first turn by a lucky artillery bombardment? Would the player just sit there staring at a screen totally lacking friendly and enemy units? Or would all the friendly units show up but the player couldn't do anything or yield any information about themselves or what they see?

The above situation illustrates why removing realistic tactical control is not the right direction to go towards. Because if you follow it to its logical conclusion (i.e. the ultimate realistic state), this is what you wind up with.

Honestly folks, your feedback is appreciated. But I for one am very glad some of you are gamers and not game designers

Steve

from:

http://www.battlefront.com/cgi-bin/bbs/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=024461;p=7

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Big Time Software

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posted April 26, 2002 11:51 PM                

Tom,

quote:

I think it has been a positive and constructive discusion with several different points of view represented.

I agree, but I must also point out that this discussion is not that different than a 1/2 dozen other ones held in the past. That is not to take away anything from anyone who participated here and not in the others, but rather to point out that the CM's borg problems are pretty well established by now. They are also not inherently different than those of other games, although we would argue CM deals with them better.

The ideas people are kicking around in this thread are also ones that have been kicked around in other threads. Specifics might not be exactly the same, but the core motivation behind certain lines of thinking are surprisingly similar.

Some people think the key to better realism is to have a sort of "you got it or you don" system of C&C where units not in C&C sit around dumbly until they are contacted again. A variation on that is that the AI somehow handles these units while you are not in command of them. The former is utterly unrealistic, the latter so difficult to program effectively that it is not the best design to pursue (i.e. spending a year making the AI for this means a year of doing nothing else ).

Others think that the way to go is to simulate "orders" down through the chain of command. This is something that most people would find about as exciting as watching paint dry Watering this idea down to make there be more game also means watering down the potential realism and reintroducing the Borg problem.

Believe me, I am not trying to ridicule people for their theories on how the Borg issue should be dealt with. I'm just trying to point out that some "cures" will actually kill the pateient before the operation is even over Others suggest things which will leave nasty scars and open up the doctors for lawsuits (or rather unpleasant commentary on BBSes ). But in general, I think most people understand the basic issues and some even see very simple solutions to some of the problems. Or at least can see how a huge problem can be tackled by several smaller, comprehensive changes.

I think that once people see CMBB they will understand how the Big Problems can be tackled by smaller, perhaps even subtle, changes. Not completely, of course, because to do that the human player would have to be removed almost completely from the game. Later, I think people will see that Relative Spotting (as we have discussed it in the past) they will understand that it reduces or eliminates most of the Big Problems in CM that remain after CMBB's changes. Will the future CM be perfect? From a realism standpoint, of course not. But I can assure you that we will get damned close. Close enough that people will probably ask for Relative Spotting related features to be optional

Steve

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Big Time Software

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posted April 27, 2002 12:53 AM                

Tom,

quote:

...even if the BTS idea of Relative Spotting were implimented, in that each and every unit makes it own spotting check and cannot target (but MAY be ordered to use "area Fire" at) enemy units it has not spotted, (BUT the player KNOWS where those enemy units are he can order or direct EVERY unit, irrespective of whether it has spotted the enemy unit or not, or whether it is in C&C or NOT, to fire or move in that general direction (NOW thats a "BORG Like Swarm" ™ to use Redwolf's term ), what would that solve?

Uhm... A HECK OF A LOT Area fire is useless against a moving target and has reduced accuracy and effects against a stationary one. If you think that Area Fire is a fine and dandy substitute for direct targeting, might I suggest booting up CMBO and playing a game on the defensive only using Area Fire commands. I think that ought to get you to see that you are taking a rather extreme and unfair look at what ONE ASPECT of Realitive Spotting will do.

quote:

I would (again) humbly suggest that anyone who is interested in playing ALL roles and commanding ALL units (EVEN with the BTS concept of Relative Spotting) is actually condoning the "BORG-Like Swarming Units Response" (B-LSR) to an enemy threat.

In a black and white world, where there is only Borg and Not Borg, you would be correct. But that is a world I don't live in As I described above, there is absolutely NO solution to the Borg problem except to remove the human player from the game. Do you really want that?

If so we could easily make CM play so that you deploy your troops (which CM buys for you) by simply clicking down the HQs at the next level lower than your own (i.e. if you are the Major, you can only click on the Company HQs). CM would then deploy all the rest of the units without you even seeing them. Yup, you wouldn't see anything except what was around your HQ unit, which would be set up and unmovable (for the most part) after the Setup Phase. Then the game would start. You would issue a couple of vauge orders to your next lower HQs and then sit back and wait. From Turn 1 on all friendly units would disappear from the map. Every so often a Spotted icon would appear where MAYBE one of your directly subordinated HQ was. At this point in time you might get back some meaningful information from the HQ, or perhpas not. Depending on if the HQ is in radio contact or not, you could issue orders to the HQ along the vauge lines of Turn 1. You will have no idea what that HQ does with them until the next time he resurfaces. If there is no radio contact, runners would be necessary and that means instant communication would be impossible, thus making that Spotted icon appear less frequently and even more prone to error. After the shooting would start you might have a rough idea about where and the nature of the shooting. But until one of those ghost icons popped up, you wouldn't know much more than that. And even when that does happen, you would only get back snipts of text about what was going on and you could still only issue a few vauge orders.

Gee... DAMN does that sound like fun! Whoopie Cripes, we wouldn't even need to program in anything except some sort of ZORK like text adventure script engine and a few generalized combat resolution equations.

You see.. THAT is the be all, end all Black and White counter balance to the RTS type Borg system. CM is already somewhere inbetween the two, and CMBB is a bit more towards the realism side. The engine rewrite will be even more towards the REALISM side of the equation by reducing the effectiveness of the Borg aspect. But no way, no how can we eliminate it. So why bother having such a black and white set of standards when one side is available and not liked (i.e. RTS with no C&C rules at all) and the other would be a yawner to even those who THINK they want it (i.e. human player almost totally removed from even watching the action)? Wouldn't it be more interesting and productive to focus on practical ways to make the game more realistic without all the hoo-ha about it not going far enough? Hmmm?

Tom, I know you have been a participant in many of the previous discusions. I would have hoped that you picked up on the fact that Relative Spotting is only the underlying mechanism, not the solution. In other words, there are all SORTS of things we can do once Relative Spotting is in place that will increase realism, decrease the Borg, and at the same time make CM more fun. Having restrictions on targeting is just ONE feature made possible by Relative Spotting. A better system of artillery requests is another. More accountable and detailed C&C delays is yet another. There are LOTs of possibilities made possible because of Relative Spotting. So again, don't think of Relative Spotting as the solution, but a part of the underlying foundation for other features which in turn will do lots of things to improve the game on all levels.

When we get into this phase of design we should all have a nice group think about ways we can leverage Relative Spotting and other systems to make CM more realistic. But at this point, we don't have the time to do that. Already spent too much time on this issue as it is

Steve

[ April 26, 2002, 10:00 PM: Message edited by: Big Time Software

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When we get into this phase of design we should all have a nice group think about ways we can leverage Relative Spotting and other systems to make CM more realistic. But at this point, we don't have the time to do that. Already spent too much time on this issue as it is

Steve

Did they get into that stage of development? Are they in it now? And more importantly, are the Aussie troopies enjoying 'CMAK for Greeks'?

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