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Originally posted by yuvuphys:

I honestly don't see how you do away with waypoints...

You'd still need some, but one idea might be to use an arc or curve instead of a straight line. Let the user place the end point and allow the line to be deformed or bent in between points. Might help with curved roads especially if route / path finding logic allows for some terrain "stickyness".
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That way the squad sticks to your order movement (as much as they do now, abstractly), but can use depressions in the ground for cover, or go around buildings/barbed wire if it's better for them to do so.

How does the squad work out whether it's better for them?

A quick point:

Load up CMBB or CMAK (haven't checked for CMBO). Plot a very long move (three turns or more, one waypoint)

After a turn or so, have a look at the movement path.

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Another thing that complicates this is the familiarity factor. If a unit has been posted to a small town for more than a couple of days, some units may get to know the town better than others. In fact they may or may not have indigenous forces who are intimate with the area assisting them.

Also, even if it is historical, good maps may be available to some or all of the platoons or not available at all - who knows?

I think an updated version of the CMX1 system is probably best solution and if I understand Steve correctly this is what we are getting, like it or not.

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Originally posted by Halberdiers:

dibujo53uz.jpg

Of course if the unit was familiar with the location or had a decent map, the order would simply be advance up main street to 2nd avenue, cut across the 2nd Avenue plaza and cross to the front of the Bank on King Street.

This isn't complicated and I don't see a need to any fuzzyness - even if they've never been there before, it'd be pretty obvious which building is the bank (for example)

[Edit - an added delay due to no LOS on one or more waypoints is fine, but unless they're under fire or really stupid I wouldn't expect a unit to move to the wrong location in CMX2]

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

BTW, I think wire is a bad example to use because it is something that the guys can move through. Depending on tactical conditions it might be better, even if slower, to go through it than around it.

I was thinking of the cases where the AI defender strings one thingie of wire in the middle of a field; naturally it is easier just to go around it (assuming there are no mines or presited weapons to the flanks). However, presume that wire instead to be a hedge at an 85 degree angle to the direction of travel. Ordinarily, you would get to the hedge, and either file along one side or just jump over/through it. You wouldn't crash into the middle of it and then walk in the hedge for 20 metres, which is what the tacAI sometimes does in the absence of detailed waypoints...
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naturally it is easier just to go around it (assuming there are no mines or presited weapons to the flanks).
Then naturally the player wouldn't plot the unit to move right through the wire :D Look, it really is simple... either we have a system that requires the AI to handle movement or we have a system that requires the player to handle movement. We can not have a system that does it one way when you want it to and another way when you want it to. CM can not read your mind to figure out which way to do it, so we have to pick one standard and stick to it.

For CMx1 the standard is to deviate from the player's orders only when there is blockage or the unit takes enough enemy fire. Otherwise it follows your orders. If you're too lazy to plot the path, then you will suffer the consequences. Simple as that.

CMx2 will be the same and for the same reasons as CMx1. The player is in control of his units, not the AI, so the player is responsible for how they move, not the AI. The only other way to do it is to have the AI control moving the units, not the player, so that the AI is responsible for how they move, not the AI. As I have said, I doubt we can do something that will make most people happy most of the time, so we are going with the player control vs. AI control.

Steve

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But that's not different from Close Combat. And all too often, the unit AI in CC was acting foolishly in regards to positioning the men.
And CC AI also had tanks spinnging around in circles and refusing to cross bridges even though that was the only path to choose. CMx1 didn't have the problems. So... :D

Halberdiers, I don't see that as being that much different than letting the AI control things. It really is about the same, just with a bit more flexibility where the unit winds up. However, it is the path that is the issue, not the destination so I don't think your proposal solves anything.

As for the delays, it would seem people are getting some stuff confused. There are two completely unrelated concepts being talked abou there;

1. Simulating the real world time delays associated with units getting going and working their way through instructions in the face of uncertainty (of the enemy, of their own forces, of the terrain, etc.).

2. Simulating how units move from A to B.

If waypoint delays are cut out then they must be replaced by some other system to simulate C&C and intra unit delay factors. This might be built into #2, but it doesn't have to be. In any case, as I have said many times now nobody has come up with a good alternative simulation solution for what the command delays represent. After dozens of exhausting discussions about this I doubt very much that anything better will come up.

Steve

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If waypoint delays are cut out then they must be replaced by some other system to simulate C&C and intra unit delay factors. This might be built into #2, but it doesn't have to be. In any case, as I have said many times now nobody has come up with a good alternative simulation solution for what the command delays represent. After dozens of exhausting discussions about this I doubt very much that anything better will come up.

Steve

The present system of command and way point delays as in CMBB and CMAK is as good a system as any.

I would say in CMBB and CMAK this aspect of the simulation works as well as can be expected and is acceptable if not better than acceptable for wargame, (even if it is a combat simulator, it is still just a $45.00 video game.)

I am left to wonder what the problem is here and if there are truly any better suggestions than the method and system of command delays we already see in CMBB and CMAK?? :confused:

seriously

-tom w

[ September 29, 2005, 04:30 PM: Message edited by: aka_tom_w ]

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The problem with movement of a unit in CM is the dichotomy between movement ordered by a higher command, and movement executed by the unit itself.

For example, movement ordered by the company commander may take the form of Dalem's "Go There". It may take 45 seconds of command delay or more for even this simple order to be delivered, understood and put into motion. On the other hand, this order may have formed part of the pre-battle briefing and the unit may already understand its destination.

Coordinated movement down the gully or through a town would however be done by the squad/NCO without any further input from higher command levels. They will see the path open up in front of them, and take it. This could be averaged out as slower movement through rough terrain.

I also think that low level movement should be conditional on LOS. If a squad can see down the gully, the delay should be less, but when the squad reaches a waypoint that is plotted out of LOS, perhaps they will slow down or even halt and take 10 seconds to look at the situation.

The unrealistic situations in CMX1 arise when a unit should clearly be making up its own mind where to move, but still attracts a command delay as if the order had been run in from HQ.

It was with this in mind that I was once suggesting command level based waypoints. One HQ level plots "Go there" type orders using a flag or some other UI system, and the squad level waypoints are more concerned with fine movement in pursuit of these orders, from house to house, or down a winding gully. The HQ waypoints attract the big command delays associated with reigning in a unit which is already doing its thing, and the squad movement attracts minimal delay.

How to implement all this in a way that satisfies everyone is, as usual, the hard part.

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Look, it really is simple... either we have a system that requires the AI to handle movement or we have a system that requires the player to handle movement. We can not have a system that does it one way when you want it to and another way when you want it to.

For my first post in over a year on any BF forum and my first post on a CM forum in God knows how long, naturally I am going to stick my neck out and disagree with Steve.

But before I do that, a few comments about my favourite subject... AI (as some of you may, but probably don't, remember). Now AI has come a long way in the last few years, but unfortunately the game industry is slow to catch up. I am not going to rant on about that (which is unusual for me) because there is nothing I or BF can do about it. I do not expect BF to be the AI trailblazers when they are already trailblazing an entire genre IMO. But there is one are of AI that I think BF can (and probably will/have) improve on.

A lot has been spoken about the two types of AI, the TacAI and the StratAI. But each of these (or at least the TacAI) can be broken into two also. Namely the decisions the AI has to make 'on-line' (in play) and decisions that can be made'off-line', such as when the player is making moves. In CMx1, there does not appear to be any of the later.

For example in CMx1, if you plotted way points that would lead the unit through impassable terrain, alternate waypoints would not be plotted until the turn started (when it was too late to do anything about it). I am hoping that some of these calculations will be done during the turn setup phase.

Now back to Steve's post. I think what some people are trying to say is that you can have it both ways... provided you have some "off-line" AI. It would work like this:

Everytime you plotted a waypoint (and I would lean heavily on the side of abstract orders - makes it easier for the strat-AI if nothing else) the off-line tacAI would calculate waypoints based on the order given. This would be done off-line and since it doesn't have to be very good (I'll get to that) and is only for one waypoint the time required would be minimal (I doubt the player would even notice it).

The reason it can be quick and dirty is because, if it's done immediately, the player can then alter the waypoints if they don't like them (and this is where I would add an extra order delay). If the AI feels that there is a point of interest (e.g. the barbed wire example) and has insufficient information to make a decision then it could just place a waypoint at that point - allowing the play to simply drag it one way or the other if they chose.

I would have probably just a few order types (fast, covered, sneak...) plus a toggle that allows you to turn off the tacAI waypoints if you either don't like them, your machine is too slow, or the orders are simple anyway.

Anyway, it's good to be back. I'm really looking forward to CMx2 and I am really happy with the way things are progessing (there's even a campaign thingy!)

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Originally posted by Bruce70:

For example in CMx1, if you plotted way points that would lead the unit through impassable terrain, alternate waypoints would not be plotted until the turn started (when it was too late to do anything about it). I am hoping that some of these calculations will be done during the turn setup phase.

Holy crap - yer a frikking genius!

erm...

I agree with this excellent alternative whole heartedly, but only so long as it doesn't take up so many CPU cycles that it bogs down movement plotting.

For example, if I'm giving an order for 10 infantry sections to advance (I select all 10 units and tell them to move) I would hope that when I placed the move to location, I wouldn't need to wait more than 100 ms for calculations to happen and control to return.

By the way, for those that care, I'm not wearing any pants. My wife told me to take em off, so I did. Unfortunately what I didn't realise at first it that its laundry night at the Ruddy house... :(

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Hmmm,

Okay, off the top of my head, how about this? The computer remembers how long it takes the player to plot the movement of each unit. THAT time is the delay that unit will occur.

Example: Player selects unit A. He plots a point. Looks around at different views, zooms, pivots, etc. Plots more points. Finally, he's done with unit A. He selects unit B. Elapsed time on unit A was 3 minutes. Unit A now has a 3 minute delay before it moves.

smile.gif

Ken

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so after you have selected unit A its JUST a click fest

and the faster you can send them on their way and go to the next unit the shorter the command delay is.

So I select unit A and give it ONE way point and set it on a straight line somewhere (takeing all of 2 secs to do it) and therefore is may be a lousy waypoint or path but the delay to get them moving was only 2 seconds. (you could probably get it down to 1 sec with some practice.)

this suggestion would have to mean if after I plotted unit C and Unit B and I came back to replot the move for unit A the time to plot that would end up being the actual command delay would have to be a cumulative effect of all of the repeated times I tried to re-issue new waypoints or replot the move.

I'm not so sure it would be good for the game or the game play.

:(

(sorry)

-tom w

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posted September 29, 2005 07:52 PM

The problem with movement of a unit in CM is the dichotomy between movement ordered by a higher command, and movement executed by the unit itself.

For example, movement ordered by the company commander may take the form of Dalem's "Go There". It may take 45 seconds of command delay or more for even this simple order to be delivered, understood and put into motion. On the other hand, this order may have formed part of the pre-battle briefing and the unit may already understand its destination.

Coordinated movement down the gully or through a town would however be done by the squad/NCO without any further input from higher command levels. They will see the path open up in front of them, and take it. This could be averaged out as slower movement through rough terrain.

yes

thank-you for bringing forth the core of the problem or the heart of the issue.....

it is a good point

"The problem with movement of a unit in CM is the dichotomy between movement ordered by a higher command, and movement executed by the unit itself."

I agree

However I would also suggest there is NO way for the game system or the game code or the game designers to "fix" this or make it work better.

I see the problem, I understand the issue and I agree that it is a problem. BUT after all of that I am satisfied with the present command delay system as we see it in CMBB and CMAK.

While the command delay system is not perfect it is a VERY reasonable compromise.

smile.gif

-tom w

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if the setting is WWII then sure, I REALLY like this idea!

smile.gif

-tom w

Originally posted by Halberdiers:

In a same way of "area fire", maybe a help to the waypoint system could be an "area of dispersion": The player will put the far waypoint with the knowledge of the RISK to be imprecise of where he arrive exactly (area dispersion).

In the example: the platoon move in a City

-The player start in the "waypoint 1" (green area of arrive)

-The player do not know exactly where is the "waypoint 4" (red area of arrive) that is out of LOS.

dibujo53uz.jpg

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Bruce70, you have a good point. The system you are proposing, however, is still inherently one way or the other. The difference is your idea allows the player to "intercept" undesirable ramifications of the AI's thinking and, if so desired, spend time undoing them. This is something that we've thought of, however there is a practical problem with this, though not necessarily a terrible one.

Currently CMx1 is set up to follow a "player path" as its primary directive. That means the player's waypoints are followed unless there is a blockage (that is the only terrain based reason). Let us say we have a "runtime" calcualted best path. If we keep with this philosophy for CMx2 then the outcome will look identical to the way it is in CMx1. To use Dorosh's example of the barbed wire, the squad would show it's path going through the wire instead of around it. Therefore, Bruce70's suggestion has no effect.

If we instead change the system so that the player's orders are altered as the AI sees fit, then using a "runtime" system might produce radically different results. Using Dorosh's example, the unit would not have a plotted path through the wire but instead around it. If the player really wanted to go through it then he'd have to move and delete some waypoints.

The potential problem here is that the player might not like the AI's take on things frequently enough to cause frustration. He might find himself replotting more moves than he cares to, and instead long for the existing system where you plot and the TacAI doesn't get involved unless there is a blockage. It is tough to say if this would become a real problem, but having played some games like this in the past I think it is reasonably possible.

Now, I know some of you guys are going to tell me that they spend tons of time undoing TacAI plotted paths already and there for what's the difference? The difference is that CMx2 solves some of the major reasons for the TacAI's plotting issues found in CMx1. Road behavior first and foremost. So with or without a runtime path calculation feature many of the CMx1 problems won't be found in CMx2.

I don't think it would be too hard to put such a feature in for testing. So who knows. In fact, Charles might have already thought of this. I wouldn't know because we haven't talked about it :D

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

**sigh**

Yes, Steve, but is there not the question of delay for each waypoint? I thought that was the entire issue here.... Plotting the path around the obstacle triggers these delays, no?

So, I don't know, why not a command "Avoid Obstacle". Set it like a waypoint, and then choose (right/left). No command delay.

So, in my example, I set the MOVE command to 200 metres across the field. But first, I add a AVOID OBSTACLE wapoint on top of the wire. Could be a fence, a minefield, a roadblock. Then the AI knows just to troop around the obstacle, in whatever formation, without stopping to think.

No? Some issues come to mind, at least my mind. How say you?

move.gif

[ September 29, 2005, 08:32 PM: Message edited by: Michael Dorosh ]

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Hoolaman,

The problem with movement of a unit in CM is the dichotomy between movement ordered by a higher command, and movement executed by the unit itself.
Correct. This is the primary reason we've rejected just about every other suggestion floated for a replacement for the waypoint delay system.

Coordinated movement down the gully or through a town would however be done by the squad/NCO without any further input from higher command levels.
Not true. There would still be a delay to start, there would also likely be delays if anything unusual was encountered. Small units only move when they think their actions are within the scope of the larger plan. If they have reason to doubt, the will hesitate. If they really think things have gone wrong then they will likely pause to reevaluate the sitution, either acting again on their own initiative or after consulting with a higher level of command. In some circumsatances the latter might be the only thing that will get them going again.

What I mean by all this is that the squad only has a certain amount of "authority" to wing it.

I also think that low level movement should be conditional on LOS. If a squad can see down the gully, the delay should be less, but when the squad reaches a waypoint that is plotted out of LOS, perhaps they will slow down or even halt and take 10 seconds to look at the situation.
That is an idea that makes some sense, but still doesn't deal with the limitations on initiative.

It was with this in mind that I was once suggesting command level based waypoints. One HQ level plots "Go there" type orders using a flag or some other UI system, and the squad level waypoints are more concerned with fine movement in pursuit of these orders, from house to house, or down a winding gully. The HQ waypoints attract the big command delays associated with reigning in a unit which is already doing its thing, and the squad movement attracts minimal delay.
This is the best way to go about it. Reason is now you are defining exactly what is a higher command objective and therefore pretty much everything should be lower level decisions. Well, in theory anyway. In reality the Platoon HQ still decides where the MG team goes, where to position the various squads, etc. So what you really need are differing levels of "objective flags".

The ultimate way it would work is the Company Commander puts down Company Objectives. The Platoon Commander puts down Platoon Objectives. The Squads/Teams act accordingly to achieve the Platoon Objectives. All that is needed now is a means of determining how and when these Objectives are communicated to the various units. That would then make for a good and realistic basis for determining how quickly guys should move. Still not perfect, but much better.

Now, it might sound like I've thought of this before tonight. You are correct. You might also wonder if I've thought out a lot more of the practical stuff than this. You are correct. You might then think that it will be a part of CMx2. You are correct, though if you think this will be in for the first game you'd be wrong. This is a huge, potentially black hole, feature that really needs to be inserted into a stable and well tuned existing game system. Trying to put it in now would be foolish. Best to hold it off for a future release when we can do it justice.

Steve

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Dorosh,

Yes, Steve, but is there not the question of delay for each waypoint? I thought that was the entire issue here.... Plotting the path around the obstacle triggers these delays, no?
Correct. But I don't see any reason we should try to allow people to weasel out of the command delay system. It is imperfect, that is true, but adding 2 waypoints to your example would add a couple of seconds, tops, to your command delay. If that is too much for you... well... I don't have any sympathies because the entire command delay system is overly generous.

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

Dorosh,

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Yes, Steve, but is there not the question of delay for each waypoint? I thought that was the entire issue here.... Plotting the path around the obstacle triggers these delays, no?

Correct. But I don't see any reason we should try to allow people to weasel out of the command delay system. It is imperfect, that is true, but adding 2 waypoints to your example would add a couple of seconds, tops, to your command delay. If that is too much for you... well... I don't have any sympathies because the entire command delay system is overly generous.

Steve </font>

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I am sure someone has already suggested this, but I thought I'd throw it out there again anyhow.

What I would love to see is, during the plotting phase, a "suggested" path, which the AI suggests when I choose a unit and a destination, then I can tweak, delete and move the waypoints. So, it is still totally player controlled movement, but it would be really handy for certain situations, when you don't want to plot a bunch of waypoints (e.g. moving a vehicle down a curvy road). So you could choose the "suggest path" option for the unit and the AI would plot a path for you. It could be really basic, too, just move the unit along the road, or use obvious cover. Nothing complex, but instead just a handy path for the player to tweak a little. Not sure if this would be super useful most of the time, but I'll bet it would come in handy for some situations. For example, one of the things I struggle with when moving units, is plttting the path to take advantage of the subtle variations of the terrin elevations that mioght provide better cover. Sometimes just a few meters can make all the difference. With a "suggest path" system, if you moved a unit accross open terrain, the "suggested path" would perhaps take advantage of the cover better.

You get the idea. Curious if this has been suggested before and what the response was.

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