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Am I missing something with Campaigns?


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ASL Vet,

Pretty good summary. From our perspective it's similar, though there are more subtleties now that we have RealTime as an option. I'd say, ranked in order of size, the Normandy mix would be:

1. Solo Play, WeGo

2. Solo Play, RealTime

3. MultiPlayer, WeGo, QB, PBEM

4. MultiPlayer, WeGo, Scenarios, PBEM

5. MultiPlayer, RealTime, QB

6. MultiPlayer, RealTime, Scenarios

The vast majority are in #1, with the others being significantly smaller, and proportionally decreasing down the list.

There are, as you point out, overlapping feature sets between these. That's what we focus on very, very much. The most common element for all of these groups? The tactical combat environment, obviously. Which is why I keep insisting that we must keep our focus on that element and NOT take our eye off the ball like I feel Close Combat did.

Conducting a Poll to ask which type our gamers feel they are tells us what our hardcore customer base is like. The vast majority of our customers never, ever post here. We expect that #1 is the group they most likely fit into because MultiPlayer is, by definition, a social experience which usually requires (or at least incentivizes) contact with others. Since they aren't here posting, one should assume that the largest reason is that they are playing solo.

Having a sort of embedded poll within the game is a good idea, though it should only pop up months after the person installed it otherwise the player may give us a false answer based on an assumption that they will play the game one way and then later find out they play it a different way.

Such as the assumption that the vast majority of people who buy CM products play exclusively vs the AI. Is that true? It might be nice to know, because if it is then the campaign might take some priority over other features if that's the case.

Well, it is why we're not jumping right in and doing CoPlay, that's for sure. But in terms of the Campaign... we already have one and we will continue to expand and enhance it. So we have our bases covered in that sense already.

Wrath of Dragon,

That's exactly what I meant by doing a poll.

Right, but we would have to design the systems first (which takes a massive amount of time and effort) and we'd then have to figure out what features would have to be given up for each. This would probably take 2-3 months of my time alone. Not going to happen :)

Anything less than that is pointless because of the point I've made a billion and a half times now... there's way too many different directions we can go with a campaign/strategic layer. A one line question can not possibly be enough for someone to figure out if what they are voting for is what they really want. People would need to read through a multi-page, well thought out design before they were informed enough to even guess at which one would be more appealing to them vs. another option. The last thing we want to do is dump 6 months into a system and have people say "yeah, I know I asked for that but I guess that's not what I really wanted". This is what I think of as the Homer Simpson car designer problem (which refers to an episode with Danny DiVito, which ultimately puts Danny's car business out of business).

I also have to point out again that the vast majority of our customers never, ever post here. Which means that no matter what we're going to get a skewed sample.

You've already made a great tactical wargame though, now all that remains is the strategic layer.

We've got a couple years worth of development suggestions for the tactical gameplay alone, so I for one don't think we're "done" with the tactical component. Not even close :D As stated above, that's the common bond between all players and the reason for Combat Mission existing in the first place. The day we forget about that is the day we start running into serious problems.

Yes, for sure a large number of you would enjoy whatever campaign system we came up with. A large number of you ALREADY enjoy the current system. Therefore, the question is how many more sales will we get by making a different system? The next question is will the expenses and sacrifices that are required for such a system be recovered from those extra sales? The next question we ask ourselves is if there is something else we could invest those resources into that would yield the same value for less cost, or better value at the same cost, or better value at less cost?

The investment needed to make the sort of game-within-a-game strategic layer some of you picture us doing is massive. Could be as much as one solid year's worth of development time. And I am not exaggerating. The current tactical level play took us 5 years to develop, so I think 1 year to make the sort of strategic layer you're talking about is minimum.

We think that flunks the tests we have to determine if it is the right way to go or not. The only way to know for sure is to roll the dice and try it out. We gamble with our futures all the time, so the fact that we're NOT anxious to gamble on a strategic layer should tell you something. It doesn't exactly scare us as a feature, because we know we could make a kick ass system, but we are concerned that it would cause irreparable harm to both Combat Mission and Battlefront. Which is why we don't care what a poll shows... it's not something we're interested in risking.

Someday we hope to make a strategic level game. But it will not be burdened with a detailed tactical environment. Game within games doesn't work for us.

Steve

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The vast majority are in #1, with the others being significantly smaller, and proportionally decreasing down the list.

See the vast majority are just like me, so obviously I speak for them [wink]

I'm sure I'm completely ignorant, but 1 year doesn't seem like that much. And I'd be happy with any op map you guys came up with, I'm sure there'd be some bitching, but it's the internets. And like I said, I can't imagine anything more valuable with the same development time, but if you think it's too much risk for BF, so be it, after all I'm not risking anything.

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Forum membership isn't indicative of players who like to play head to head any more than it's indicative of how many players play solo. I have four friends whom I know 'in real life' who were regular opponents for me in CMx1 yet none of them ever posted on the forum a single time (I tell them everytime there is a new demo out for CMSF but they just aren't biting unfortunately). I am trying to recruit a couple more friends to be opponents and I doubt they will ever post on the forum either. We all just play against each other and they just aren't 'forum' types. None of us belong to any 'clubs' for head to head either so even by that measure it wouldn't be a good yardstick to compare head to head vs solo.

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We measure the value of features in hours. So something that is going to take a solid year is completely out of the question. It's probably 10 times longer than anything else we have slated for development over the next few years. That means there's 10 times more risk for this one feature than any other. We're not risk adverse, obviously, but we aren't reckless.

ASL Veteran,

Sure, there are multiplayers out there who don't sign up for the Forum. But the people on the forum are, based on years of observation, heavily weighted towards multiplayer. Especially PBEM. But there are a lot of people on this Forum who have never or rarely played multiplayer in 10 years of CM play.

When you consider all of the retail stuff in all countries put out over the years at very cheap prices... I'd say that this Forum, on even a busy day of lurkers, represents less than 0.5% of the total CM customer base. If the majority of the 99.5% of the installed customer base were out there playing multiplayer, I think we'd all know about it ;)

Steve

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Dear Mr Battlefront

before i lost the track of the post...

one funny idea:

is it feasible that a "save game" could be edited? or saved as a scenario?...if yes, i think the problem of permanent damage could be shorted easily, and the set up of "advance lines" too (by drawing set up zones till HQ units or sth similar)...

of course would depend in your time cost evaluation that you make a kind of open campaign to deal with this option or just give the option to the gamers to manually create the arrival of reinforcements (a la QB style that you mentioned before) or the realization of meta campaings

...in my dreams i got refilling of ranks on existing units from the pool and even equipment to survived crews...downgrading the affected unit experience if applicable...just a dream

so please Mr Battlefront, reply if it is feasible or not to save an ongoing scenario as a new scenario (real brew up?) and if it could be implemented easily...the rest could be discussed on a later stage

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Paper Tiger,

I should find a link to that episode and stick it in as my sig. I've been using that episode as an example long before there was YouTube ;) The other example I use is South Park's Underpants Gnomes episode. This is where the Gnomes, who fancy themselves great at business, have a three part business plan:

Step 1 - Acquire underpants

Step 2 - (left blank)

Step 3 - Profit

Anybody who has ever started up their own business, or is in charge of a product development team, probably split a gut watching that one!

Dan Dare,

For whatever reason the save game format is not easily reconfigured into something that can be edited. The ability to edit a saved game was on my wish list before CMx2 programming started, but it wasn't possible for whatever reason. So no, I do not think it will ever happen since the time to do this was 5 years ago before the code was written. Sorry!

Steve

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ASL Veteran,

Sure, there are multiplayers out there who don't sign up for the Forum. But the people on the forum are, based on years of observation, heavily weighted towards multiplayer. Especially PBEM. But there are a lot of people on this Forum who have never or rarely played multiplayer in 10 years of CM play.

When you consider all of the retail stuff in all countries put out over the years at very cheap prices... I'd say that this Forum, on even a busy day of lurkers, represents less than 0.5% of the total CM customer base. If the majority of the 99.5% of the installed customer base were out there playing multiplayer, I think we'd all know about it ;)

Steve

I can’t totally buy into that premise. I read your post, thought about it, read it again, thought about it some more and I just can’t see things the same way. I think that it may be true that the vast majority of players who play CM may play it solo, but I think that has more to do with the subject matter than the personalities of those who are playing the game. The way I see it, forum membership and participation has to do with three things:

1. You have to have a certain dedication level to the game in order to visit the forum from either a positive or negative standpoint. If the game isn’t important enough to you then you aren’t going to be spending time discussing it on a forum, which brings me to two

2. You have to have the time available to participate in a forum. The more socially active a person is then by definition the less time that person has to participate in a forum. It’s pretty obvious that if you are having dinner with friends and going to Radio City Music Hall etc that you can’t be sitting in front of a computer participating in an online forum. However, the less active a person is socially the more time that individual will have to participate in a forum. The individual who has less going on in real life is going to have more time to spend on a forum which is exactly the opposite of what you seem to be implying (that being that if there were more socially active multiplayer gamers that there would be higher forum participation).

3. You have to have a willingness to participate. Yes, someone who is more socially active is probably more likely to participate in a forum than someone who isn’t, but I think it’s also fair to say that the threshold for participating on a forum is a lot lower than with real life activities. If I invited you and your significant other to dinner at the finest restaurant in New York City our social interaction would take on a different characteristic than it does while we discuss things on a forum. A forum allows someone a certain degree of anonymity that is not present in face to face interaction thus making it easier for someone who isn’t socially active to jump into the discussion.

What has all that to do with how someone plays the game? I don’t think it has anything to do with it. As a human being we all need social interaction at some level unless there is something wrong with that individual. Solitary confinement is punishment because it’s, well, solitary confinement. The problem for most players is probably the subject matter. It’s probably a lot more difficult to find someone to play a game of Combat Mission against ‘in real life’ than it is to find someone to play John Madden Football. If you have a friend who is a man with a pulse and lives in America then the odds are probably pretty good that you could interest him in a game of John Madden Football. If you want to blow up Syrian tanks? Probably not so easy to find someone.

My only point here isn't to say that your assumption is wrong necessarily, but to say that without any data there is just no way to know for certain one way or another. I have to believe that a normal gamer who buys Combat Mission and likes it will play it vs the AI for a while and then will try to encourage a friend to play against them. If there is no friend available who will play it (because of the subject matter), then they will either continue to play solo or reach out to the forum and attempt to find an opponent there. Alternatively they may also stop playing after the AI becomes uncompetitive for them if they can't find someone to play against. I would also hazard the guess that those who have been playing CM the longest and the most continuously are more likely to be multiplayer gamers than solo gamers because their gaming experience is going to be superior to those who just play against the AI.

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ASL Veteran,

It’s probably a lot more difficult to find someone to play a game of Combat Mission against ‘in real life’ than it is to find someone to play John Madden Football.

Bingo... that's exactly what I'm basing my theory on. Someone who plays a narrowly focused wargame is unlikely to find people to play against even with close acquaintances unless they are, or at one point were, active in online activities somewhere. So... if you aren't connected you are likely playing solo for the simple fact that you don't know anybody to play against. Since a game's official company website is the most logical place to start a search for opponents, then those who are interested in multi-player are more likely to show up here than those who have little-to-no interest in playing multi-player.

My only point here isn't to say that your assumption is wrong necessarily, but to say that without any data there is just no way to know for certain one way or another.

There have been many surveys in the past, done by game magazines and even informally here, and it's clear that the vast majority of the time a wargame is played it is played solo. Even the people that play a lot of multi-player are also inclined to play solo for a variety of reasons (easier, quicker, etc.). I doubt very much that a game that is not explicitly geared towards multi-player (chat rooms, automatic game linkups, inability to play solo, etc.) is played more multi-player than solo. Combat Mission is not explicitly geared to multi-player, therefore I think it's very logical to conclude that isn't its primary form of play.

In any case, it really has no bearing on which of the many different campaign style options is the one we should focus on.

Steve

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>>Dear Mr Battlefront:

Thank you for your answer but....sorry if I'm so persistent, but from my total ignorance about programming i think this matter is crucial, so .....[premise start] given that all the damage data is there in a saved game, and this info is related to an scenario, an both info (save game and scenario) at some stage are translated into the same tongue even if they initially have different format[premise end].....would it be possible to cross them both and generate a new scenario info? or would this cost you an undesired (by now) amount of time? is your approach to have permanent damage finally in so different to the above one?

>>Dear Rocky: you can always throw a coin.... it is no good to be undecided

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Dan Dare,

With some work we can get "persistent damage" to function. That means damage to the terrain, as well as destroyed vehicles, can be moved from one saved game into another. But it can not be moved from a saved game into a raw editable scenario file. In a campaign this is not a problem because a campaign's data format is the same as a save game, not raw scenarios. This means the two files are using the same language.

Yes, it is technically possible to move data from a saved game to a raw scenario format. But this takes time away from other development priorities. I do not see it becoming important enough to get ahead of the many things on our priority list for a very long time. That's simply because our list of user requested features is massive.

I also prefer good manners to YouTube commentators :) However Dan, it isn't necessary to be formal if you do wish to be casual.

Steve

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With all this talk of destroyed armor I was wondering. Do destroyed vehicles provide cover for vehicles? I distinctly remember someone mentioning they did not, but I have never found myself in a situation where I would want to test it.

ASL Veteran/Steve

I would think that the addition of even a simple co-play feature, such as splitting of the force along platoon or company lines, would increase the accessibility of the game immensely. Just as the ability for co-play in John Madden Football, and Halo allows even a novice player to join in the fun. And, more importantly, learn the ropes of the game.

Admittedly the comparison does fall short. Whereas any friend may be willing to join you in a game of virtual co-op football. Only a person with at least a passing interest in tactical combat, or a dedicated gamer, would join you for a game of CM:SF.

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With all this talk of destroyed armor I was wondering. Do destroyed vehicles provide cover for vehicles? I distinctly remember someone mentioning they did not, but I have never found myself in a situation where I would want to test it.

I have seen a knocked out vehicle nicely deflect MG rounds and I am sure it deflected 30mm cannon from a Scimitar in the Gravel Pit Brit mission. I had to move the Scimitar forward so its line of fire was clear of the knocked out vehicle to engage infantry nearby.

Cannot say I have seen a similar effect for destroyed vehicles, might have to give that a try.

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Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but IIRC destroyed vehicles block rounds that are directed towards infantry, but not those directed towards vehicles. In other words, in a tank-on-tank battle, destroyed vehicles are ignored. An RPG round fired at infantry can hit a destroyed vehicle that is in the way. An RPG round fired at a "live" vehicle will ignore a destroyed vehicle between the launcher and target.

The reason for this is that it is currently impossible for units to target specific parts of an enemy vehicle and will always aim towards the center. This means that if a unit is behind a destroyed vehicle, nobody can target the exposed areas and they will always hit the knocked out vehicle while aiming for the center. It is sort of the most expedient workaround for the time being.

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Alan8325 is mostly spot on there. The primary reason is that the AI isn't "smart" enough to aim or maneuver so as to be able to shoot around dead vehicles. This is a tricky thing for the AI to handle, for technical reasons, because dead vehicles are random in terms of their placement, orientation, and size. Terrain, in contrast, is all straight forward and "known" ahead of time.

At one point we did not allow shots to travel through dead vehicles. The result was you could park behind a dead vehicle of the same size or larger and, provide the enemy round didn't go straight through, be assure that your chances of getting hit would be quite low. This posed an unrealistic situation which definitely favored the defending unit.

I remember one instance where a Syrian T-62 was hiding behind another dead T-62 and I pumped a dozen rounds into the dead one without causing any problems for the live one behind it. As I maneuvered another tank into place the T-72 got a shot off first and knocked out my other tank (it had to approach with its flank exposed, unfortunately!). Not really an ideal situation ;)

Steve

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