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Normandy: Immobilisations


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Now that ‘Normandy’ is on it’s way. I'd thought I re-hash… Immobilisations.

I’ve only had two real conversations/debates in these forums, and one was about terrain-caused immobilisation’s. (The other was about the relative value of fire vs manoeuvre, at the conclusion of which, Jason C. decided that I was “insane” - so, you may want to skip the rest of this).

If not (and you were warned) my argument is:

An untimely immobilisation can be a game-killer. Especially in games with a low numbers of AFVs.

“Oops, 50% of my tanks (ie, one) got bogged on the road while moving at normal speed”. Nothing I could have done to prevent that. But I lose 50% of my armour, possibly on turn 1. (Fair) game over.

I say this wastes a lot of time and makes games with a small number of AFVs a crap-shoot. I said, the chance of immobilisation should be toggle-able by the players.

I explained a simple way in which the players should be able to ‘set’ the immobilisation probability to their liking. It’s easy to toggle things from “normal”, default CM values to “never immobilise on a road”, to “never on a road or firm open ground”, etc, while maintaining unchanged immobilisation probabilities in soft ground, woods etc.

I contend that with CMx2’s smaller scale, and relative smaller number of vehicles, that this becomes even more important.

I said that if you want to drive your tank at high speed through the woods or into the swamp, you take your chances. Fair enough, and an interesting tactical choice to make.

I understood BFC’s opinion to be: ‘the current immobilisation regime is realistic. End of argument. “Do you think we should mitigate lucky random shots too?”’

I argued (to no avail) that enemy action was different, and that losing a game by just trying to move your tank from behind the barn, only to have it bog - was a game-killer. No tactical choice there.

I said it’s not a BIG thing, I agree that most of the time it’s not a factor, but when it happens, it sure sucks.

I said it’s easily fixed.

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I remember these discussions. I would contend that the lucky shot is no more of a game killer than a bogging.

Picture this: You achieve an excellent tactical manoeuvre to get a flanking shot on an enemy vehicle. You miss, he turns and hits, killing your tank. The chances of this happening are very low, you have no control over it. The end result is the same - you lose a tank. You can mitigate the risk, but you cannot eliminate it entirely.

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I don't mind it, although frustrating it adds an unexpected tactical challenge to the battle that requires your superior mind to overcome. It's up to the scenario designer really on the terrain types and placement and whether you want to risk immobilisation by crossing some muddy terrain.

I don't know what the real frequency was of tanks throwing tracks or having some mechanical failure was, obviously it was different for each tank type, theatre of operations, fuel availability, frequency of maintenance, quality of parts etc. Maybe this could be a scenario designers choice to have a 'breakdown' factor available to them when designing a scenario. So when designing late war scenarios you could give the germans a higher 'breakdown' factor. Which would be nice. :)

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I don't know what the real frequency was of tanks throwing tracks or having some mechanical failure was...

Let's please not have another thousand page discussion on this, only because it's completely unimportant.

Well, considering how much emphasis BFC puts on realism, I don't see how you can dismiss it as irrelevant.

That being said, I have encountered less bogging in CMSF when played at lower difficulty levels. Not at all a scientific study, but that's the way it appears to me.

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You take a vehicle. That is your choice (or that of the scenario designer) You or they should plan accordingly. If a single vehicle bogging spoils the scenario then it isn't a good scenario. If you choose the forces and you are entirely reliant on one vehicle then that is where your choice is. You lose because you rely on a single vehicle.

Your tactical choice determines how you put your T34 in contact with the enemy but sooner or later you have to (assuming that there is no other AT assets available) and from then on you are in the hands of fate.

Imagine if you will that I put my Mk4 in the perfect position for a shot on your T34. I'm at optimum range, behind it and undetected. I fire and by some fluke the T34 manages to detect the Mk4, turn and hit it first shot, destroying it.

Is it any more fair that I lose because I make a perfect tactical move?

Or if I have a Mk4 outside an artillery barrage (let's say rockets) and a flyer lands smack-bang on top of it and destroys it.

Is it more fair that I lose for doing nothing and being subject to the random wrath of the appropriate deity?

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I have *no choice* but to drive it down the road.

I lose because I drive down the road?

Yup. It could have been 75mm AT-gun, or mine as well.

Besides there already has been choices to be made.

"Choices to be made"-list:

1. To move or not?

2. At what speed? Spending 90 minutes to drive 200 meters or trying to cross that distance in half minute.

3. On what kind ground type?

That already has huge effect on outcome.

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I would like to see the possibility that you can set up the scenario with this option:

Select realism to bogging down or you still bog down but it would only last up to 5 turns max.

The other is when your tank gets a track hit and takes out your “1” track (you have 2 tracks) that you should be able to rotate your tank using the other track so you can utilize your bow mg. In an old game (board game) called Tobruk by Avalon Hill you could and its scale is the same as CMAK.

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BFC is not into the habit of giving player toggles for this kind of thing, for game mechanics. That option is out, I can promise you that.

The issue of whether CMBB/CMAK had too many immobilizations and whether the turn rates were too low has been hotly discussed ever since those games were released. You can easily disprove BFC's choice of turn rates by watching actual tank footage in historical videos, but it is difficult to argue the immobilization probability. You can say that Barbarossa would have broken down right east of K�penick if CMBB would reflect reality, but it is not as clean-cut as the turn rate issue.

Both turn slowness and bog chances were tuned down between CMBB and CMAK (one of the bigger reasons why I like CMAK better), so there is hope that BFC will go a little easy on the probabilities for CM:Normandy.

%%

Overall, I think that Paul has a good point in starting this thread. He doesn't know that player options are a no-go. But he is correct in pointing out that if you pick a too high bog and immobilization rate again, then the smaller scale CMx2 game will hurt more than the CMx1 game did. I really hope we can get through this with reasonable probabilities. You don't want the first 15 professional reviews all say that none of their vehicles made it to the enemy in the first place.

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My only real gripe with the bogging model both in CMx1 + 2 is when a is when a unit bogs on a road or track, there really should be some 'bonus' for using a road.

If bogging on a road supposed to model a thrown track ot blown tire(s), from my reading there should be at least a chance of even a broken track being fixed even under fire in the timescale of a CM battle. Hell a blown tire or two shouldn't even stop most vehicles, in an emergency, at least till they get out of LOF and can change it (in 5-10mins tops on a road or dirt track).

Im not sure how its setup right now but bogging should be linked closely to the experience of the crew (driver). Having operated both wheeled and tracked heavy equipment and as a avid 4x4er knowing your rides capabilities and limits is what keeps you rolling!

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Hell a blown tire or two shouldn't even stop most vehicles, in an emergency, at least till they get out of LOF and can change it (in 5-10mins tops on a road or dirt track).

If you watch the damage tab closesly, you'll see wheels occassionally go from big green to little yellow, which I'm lead to believe is a slightly damaged/degraded system. I'd always assumed someone managed to put some lead into my wheels when that happened, but the Stryker or BTR just kept on trucking.

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My only real gripe with the bogging model both in CMx1 + 2 is when a is when a unit bogs on a road or track, there really should be some 'bonus' for using a road.

If bogging on a road supposed to model a thrown track ot blown tire(s), from my reading there should be at least a chance of even a broken track being fixed even under fire in the timescale of a CM battle. Hell a blown tire or two shouldn't even stop most vehicles, in an emergency, at least till they get out of LOF and can change it (in 5-10mins tops on a road or dirt track).

Im not sure how its setup right now but bogging should be linked closely to the experience of the crew (driver). Having operated both wheeled and tracked heavy equipment and as a avid 4x4er knowing your rides capabilities and limits is what keeps you rolling!

Yes, this was annoying about the CMx1 bogging model, too.

It just had one flat bog probability by vehicle ground pressure, terrain title type and ground conditions.

But that created a whole bunch of realism problems, the first one being that you were as likely to bog on locally high ground as you were when going down into a ravine. The latter should be much more prone to bogging.

Furthermore, speed wasn't considered. It should have given a huge advantage to gain medium speed on a road if you wanted to cross a 20m title of flat mud. Similarly, going downhill or uphill through soft ground didn't matter.

These factor meant that realistic tactics weren't rewarded and added to the frustration about the high bogging chances. I argue that in the absence of these discriminating additional factors it would have been better to overall undermodel bogging chances, or at least not hugely overmodel them.

"Reading the terrain" and rewarding the player who does is critical for a realistic wargame.

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What it all boils down to is what Flamingkinves just said:

A bogging doesn't ruin a battle any more than a fluke shot, it just seems that way.

This has been our position on bogging (and a bunch of other things) since the beginning of time. We're not going to change that position now :D There are dozens of things that people have brought up, over the years, which are claimed to "unbalance", "ruin", or otherwise adversely affect the game. Yet I bet some of those same people are still playing the darned thing 6-10 years after bitching about said feature. There isn't a game developer out there that would turn down the opportunity to have "flawed" games played for even 6-10 months, so obviously we're not too concerned ;)

Bogging, fluke shots, losing a point blank dual by 2 mili-seconds, losing your last tank to aircraft friendly fire, finding yourself in a QB with mud when you decided to take King Tigers, getting into a QB with light tanks and finding the other guy splurged on a King Tiger AND the field is wide open, getting into a QB with all your points invested in a King Tiger or two and find the map to have no LOS over 50m, etc., etc., etc. I've heard it all before and then again and again on top of that.

We have no interest, absolutely none, in dumbing down luck because overly competitive people can't stand the thought of losing due to circumstances beyond their control. We ESPECIALLY have no intention of dumbing down the game to minimize punishment of bad tactical decisions simply because some players don't like it when those decisions fail to work as desired. We also refuse to "childproof" the environment by removing factors like weather and ground pressure interaction. It's simply not going to happen. We're also certainly not going to make 100 different "I don't like this so I want to toggle it off" features. That's not what the game is about so if these sorts of things REALLY bother a person, that person can avoid all the pain and misery we cause by not buying the game. And our position on this is not going to change either :D

Put another way... if Combat Mission doesn't produce real world results that frustrate, and perhaps even anger, players then we're doing a piss-poor job simulating real combat. Obviously we might have certain variables wrong here or there, and we have a very long history of tweaking things until they "feel right", but the fundamental behaviors are sound and won't be compromised because of artificial reasoning. Doesn't matter what it is.

Our opinion is we are already too generous with the reliability of units in general and vehicles specifically. We do not have vehicles spontaneously breaking down or not showing up despite being purchased or specified by the scenario designer. So if someone wants to argue about things being unrealistic, we should start by saying we don't do enough instead of we're doing too much.

I also don't appreciate Red Herring examples. If vehicles regularly bogged on dry roads then we'd definitely have a problem. If vehicles were more prone to bogging on wet dirt roads than the surrounding terrain, we'd definitely have a problem there too. Such obvious problems that they would have been addressed very quickly at the time, probably during testing. So it must be that the issue raised is about "outliers" and generally speaking we're fine with those existing. There is a difference between an outlier and common experience.

Steve

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Bogging is, obviously, a very complicated interplay of physics, operator decisions, and random factors. We could spend weeks coding a realistic bogging system done up with all bells and whistles. That's not what we consider to be a good use of our time. It's one of those things which continues to gain advantages of being a "design for effect" rather than going through the intense effort of direct simulation.

BTW, it has nothing to do with a lack of understanding what a direct simulation requires to function realistically. Conceptually it's all very easy stuff which any number of resources spell out quite clearly. Where I live we are currently in what is locally referred to as our 5th Season... Mud Season :D

Over the years and seasons I've "bogged" ("got stuck") my fair share of 2x2 cars, 4x4 commercial pickups, 4x4 construction equipment, 4x4 military vehicles, a tracked commercial vehicle, a tracked military vehicle (with the best floatation of any tracked vehicle ever), and probably something else if I think about it. I've also seen a ton more situations where I didn't do the bogging, as well as helping some of those people get unbogged. If you live in a rural area with land, full spectrum weather, have these sorts of vehicles, and the need to use them... it's only a matter of time before you get stuck. Experience just lessens the chance of getting stuck and increases the chance of self extraction. Which is why around here when you help pull someone out of a ditch or out of a field you don't make fun of him because next time he might be the one helping you :D

The point is that I know from first hand experience how bogging in various terrain and weather works. I also know that it's insanely complicated and extremely situationally dependent. Anybody in my type of situation who says he hasn't gotten bogged or won't ever be bogged again someone I wouldn't trust with anything of value ;)

Steve

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I'm all for bogging in all its irrating and nasty ways, but as Redwolf pointed out, modelling the effects in greater detail, depending on vehicle actions and terrain would be a good thing to add.

Retain the 'randomn' bogging, but give the player a way to influence the risk by applying caution to his movements and use of terrain.

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