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Individual spacing between single infantry squad members

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Hi there

sorry if this has been discussed in detail before!

I have the "impression" that soldiers do clump up too much in CMSF and need to spread out more. How ist that modelled (correctly) in CMSF and what would be the standard battle drill nowadays?

From my observations, individual spacing relates to the various movement orders, but I still think, soldier clumps offer too much of a valuable target for all kind of incoming fire.

I understand that "path finding" could lead to various problems, when modelling individual soldiers, as well as squad movements.

Also splitting squads to assault and support teams could not be a real solution IMHO.

For WW2 germans (thinking of CM Normandy now) there were various squad formation orders, as well as commands to adjust soldier spacing when appropiate. I would wish for something similar in the Normandy game.:) Also "custom" formations would be a nice feature maybe.

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I find the Assault command works really nicely. Keeps your guys spaced and lets you put down fire as well. That being said, some of the other commands don't work the way I would like. This is particularly true of commands over long distances. Put a "Quick" command to a point 300m away? Your guys will string out in a single file line. Often times what I want them to do is just the opposite, to spread out in a line perpendicular to their axis of advance, or to make a wedge or something... would be nice, but I can live without it :D

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I find the Assault command works really nicely. Keeps your guys spaced and lets you put down fire as well. That being said, some of the other commands don't work the way I would like. This is particularly true of commands over long distances. Put a "Quick" command to a point 300m away? Your guys will string out in a single file line. Often times what I want them to do is just the opposite, to spread out in a line perpendicular to their axis of advance, or to make a wedge or something... would be nice, but I can live without it :D

That is something I meant to say. "Scouting" german infantry squads would have the squad leader and maybe another soldier moving forward, with the remaining squad following in cover at distance. Also the single line column would vary related to soldier spacings, dependent upon proximity to enemy and available cover.

A german quick command would also differ in execution. Example would be crossing a forest track from one side to the other. It could be a quick jump of all squad members at once, or single soldiers following one after another in irregular intervals. That would be pretty much micro detailing movements under certain circumstances and probaly hard to code in any CM game to follow.

More easy to code would be "narrow" or "wide formations", although path finding would be more difficult to execute I think.

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One thing that helped me was to double-click the headquarters element and give the move order to them. This will move the entore unit in the original spacing that they had. I usually double click the leaders to find the platoons and move them as a platoon.

After which, you can go back and tailor the orders as needed so guys do not overshoot that shrubbery.

"Bring me a ...Shrubbery...." <darn> I digress...

Anyway this way you guys keep spacing as a platoon with you controlling the fine tuning. This is used on movement to contact across the plains but in this way you can set your guys in a wedge by platoon in the set up phase and they will keep this formation as they move out.

Upon contact you have to adjust but I think it is control click to choose more than one squad. (click each squad you want while holding control) Ok put your squads in a line, once in the line (say 2 squads) you can give them a movement order and they will maintain spacing and move at the same speed so as to preserve the line formation. Mainly for sweeping an objective or moving towards a subdued house or when I am trying to draw fire so my overwatch can pick off the enemy but my boys are still combat ready.

I know you are talking about an individual squad but I thought I'd throw this out there as it helps me find peace with movements.

FYI... I think the spacing is pretty good with individual squads. When placing use the colored squares to align them where you want. Usually you will see two colored square at the end of your movement. Use these to determine if they are aligning at the wall (tight) or loosely as the squares will not be a line.

Hope that helped...random thoughts late in the day....

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4 guys put into one 8x8 meter tile is balanced by toning down explosions. It in the end it doesnt' seem to be such big problem.

At start it was major immersion breaker for me as i've got used to that squad usually stretches to 70-80 meters wide line. Clustering them in to 16 meters long "line", more like cluster feck, felt very problematic.

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We've had discussions about "formations" and spacing galore over the past year or so. The Search feature of this Forum will bring up those old discussions with a bit of effort.

The basic point here is that there are significant limitations as to what we can do with individual soldier behavior. Some are simply the programming and testing time limitations, others have to do with hardware limitations that we can't work around (for now at least). There is definitely room for improvement, however we feel that compared to CMx1's grossly abstracted model the way things are now is vastly superior in all ways. Since we use CMx1 as our yardstick for improvement, not how close we are to reality, we feel we're in a good spot right now with the game as it is. Can it get better? Yes. Will it get better over time? Certainly.

The main problem we have is that in real life the spacing, order of movement, and other extremely low level decisions are situationally dependent to an extreme. The less predictable behavior is for a specific set of circumstances, the harder it is to achieve. This is further compounded by variety of circumstances.

Since behavior must be programmed (and tested, debugged, tweaked, tested, debugged, etc) there is only so much we can practically achieve. This is true with other aspects of the game, such as terrain variation, weather effects, vehicle behavior, etc.

There are also technical limitations which we have to deal with. One of which is how many "units" the game can keep track of. For general discussion purposes, the smallest infantry element in CM:SF is a "Team" (1 to 7 men). A Squad is not a unit, rather it is a container of 2 or 3 Teams. So when you move a Squad the game views it as 2-3 Teams trying to achieve the same goals, just from slightly different physical locations.

The system is geared to having a single Team per Action Spot. This offers a host of CPU and RAM savings which, in turn, allows us to have other things such as detailed terrain, realistic ballistics, high quality visual effects, etc. It also allows for exceptional circumstances to happen without bogging down the system.

By exceptional circumstances I mean a Team occupying more than one Action Spot at a time while it is on the move (either active or pinned). These situations increase the load on computing resources, however they aren't the norm so it's not a problem. If the smallest "unit" were a single man the explosion in resource needs would cripple any home PC out there. It is likely that making a "unit" consist of pairs of soldiers would also be unworkable.

The AI now has the ability to use a few different types of movement depending on Command and circumstances. Is it as varied as we would like it to be? No. Name me anything that is controlled by the AI and I'll give you the same answer :) Why? Because AI programming is the most time consuming, difficult, bug prone, "brittle" stuff to program. Therefore, rather small improvements in AI behavior come at the expense of much larger things people want to see. For example, in the time it would take to increase the fidelity of moving through forests we could probably have rewritten the entire QuickBattle system. Which would people rather? Exactly ;)

The spacing isn't even all that bad MOST of the time. Check out videos from Afghanistan and Iraq... it's always amazed me how clustered the guys are. Even out in the open. Obviously that isn't always the case, and certainly there are infinite set of conditions where soldiers in real life break from clustered behavior. I'm just saying that the overall troop density of CM:SF is not as far out of line with reality as it might appear to be.

We have done things to help with the troop density issue. We did this in CMx1 too, in fact, since the density there was even higher since an entire 12 man squad resided on a single pixel :D At least in CMx2 we don't have a system that is completely artificial, rather one that is semi-artificial in some ways. The two big ones are explosions and area fire of small arms. Both of these are "dumbed down" to compensate for the fact that in real life the unit being shot at would likely have better spacing. We also have it "dumbed down" because in real life terrain offers far more subtle ways of avoiding a hit than the literal simulation of terrain in CMx2.

So... I guess what I'm saying here is that we all have to be realistic about what a wee tiny game company like us can achieve using the limited hardware you guys use to run games on. If we could produce a completely realistic simulation that could run on the average PC, I can assure you that the pricetag would be vastly larger because the time it would take to make it would be vastly longer. Personally, we think our game development times are long enough, even though they are getting shorter ;)

That being said, things will improve over time as we have opportunity to do so. That's one of the major benefits of the CMx2 game engine... it's designed to be capable of improvement. Sadly, CMx1 wasn't and that's why it had to be tossed out instead of built upon.


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the only thing i wish for "unit spacing" of infantry is that they dont run into each other anymore. it is quiet similar to vehicles.

if a vehicle runs into another vehicle, one of both gets 5sec pause and the other one drives on.

now with infantry, if you looke em up in WEGO replay you can clearly see that a soldier wich "hits" another soldier from behind gets a "single" second pause, so the front soldier can go on but the soldier behind the one wich stops runs into the one wich stoped.

so if a soldier runs into another soldier in the front it creates a cascade of soldiers running into each other. and that slows down the squads drasticaly in the long run, also becouse it happens constantly and not just once.

it is most noticable in quick and fast movement.

i hope you get what i mean, and i hope that can be helped a bit, either by tweaking the inf behaviour generaly or simply allowing soldiers to pass through each other wich would look odd and wont be realistic but it would do away with this and would be my favourite solution.

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Thanks again for the great info Steve! 8) My questions were already made in anticipation for upcoming CM2 Normandy and at whatever state it will be delivered, I´m quite certain I´ll love it as much as I still do all CM1 games! :) Just started to dig again into CMSF after the release of the 1.11 patch and now have lots of fun with it, although I´m actually little interested in "modern" warfare and the middle east desert TOW in particular. Think the release of CM2 Normandy will be my main motivation, to upgrade my "vintage" hardware finally. :D

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