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A covered arc issue


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So... last turn I gave this shrek team that just arrived at the bocage line the following orders:

- Do _not_ shoot at that nearest tank, it is already abandonned

- Wait till the other two come in range, then shoot them

I did this by giving the guys a covered arc. They are in command, and they are not rattled.

What's the first thing they do? Shoot the abandonned tank, giving away their position... rats!

GaJ

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One more thing you might try is to also give them a Hide command if you aren't expecting the tanks to arrive in the next turn.

But I agree that this is sounding like a real bitch and ought not to be happening. Something to be corrected in a patch, I hope.

Michael

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Doesn't the manual say that troops who "feel" threatened will ignore cover arcs and hide commands? You may know that the tank is KO'd but the word apparently did not get down to your AT team. Happens in the real world too.

I know that a lot of these little quirks irk some players but I take them as part of the chaos of the battlefield. If I can win a scenario in spite of such events, I feel like I've done something meaningful. If I want perfect robots, I'll play C&C...no thank you.! :D

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I dunno. Suppose they didn't realise the tank was not abandonned. So they see a tank and feel "threatened", this is an excuse to fire? In that case what's the point of covered arc at all? A tank is _always_ going to feel threatening. And note that these guys weren't even rattled. I think I would agree with you if they had been under fire, rattled, or in any way battle-affected. But they just ran up from cosy cover into another cosy cover. There was no fire there at all. What was the threat?

I guess it comes down to "what's your point?"

If your point is "there is a way that you can rationalise this as a player"..... sure. I can rationalise it.

_My_ point is that at this early stage in the game's life we're all providing feedback about whether everything is "working just right", and my feeling is that this was a surprise, and didn't feel right.

If I later discover that most times covered arcs work fine, and these were just trigger happy dudes... great, no worries. If it's your experience that it usually works fine. ... great, let us know.

Meantime, I table this as one data point that maybe it isn't working quite right...

GaJ

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Look at it from the pixeltruppen's viewpoint: they're just been ordered to go up to a certain hedgerow and position themselves to fire in a certain direction when they see armor approaching. They do that and one of them goes "Holy sh!t there's a tiger right over there!" What do you think the human reaction is going to be if you are sitting there with a bazooka and orders to kill enemy tanks - which will kill you if you don't get them first? That's what they did - react.

If BFC's plan was to get pixeltruppen to behave in a somewhat credible manner, like miniature human beings, we are seeing them do so.

If BFC's plan was that pixeltruppen are totally extensions of ourselves as the omniscient gamer, then we are seeing problematic behavior since that was not your intention.

I think they've opted for plan A, and we are seeing the result of that. Not always what we like, but if they dumb that down, watch all the wailing and gnashing of teeth if it turns out that panzer was live and they did nothing about it as it ran them down because it was outside their covered arc.

Sorry, I don't think we can have it both ways.

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I think it is fair enough though that GaJ has said to the newly arrived team, "Look take up position here, see this tank it is abandoned so keep a look out of any others." and to have the team do just that.

I mean as the commander this is what you would do and I agree that this does seem to be a bit of a fault in the AI plan that should be looked at. Particularly when the action that they decide on gets them killed. It would have been more realistic if the team had simply engaged nothing rather than fired willy nilly and get themselves shot.

I just don't see that a panicked unit or unit that feels threatened should respond by opening fire, rather they should hide.

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I just don't understand what circumstances you expect "covered arc" to actually work in, if you don't expect it to work in this circumstance?

That said, if someone comes along and says "yep, 50% of the time they will ignore covered arc due to panic", then we know where we stand.... I can live with that, if its deliberate.

gunnergoz thinks it's the latter... but based on what, I'm not clear.

Anyone else have something more factual to offer?

GaJ

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Here's what the manual says:

Any visible enemy units that are located inside this area, or that move into this

area, will be fired upon. Any enemy units outside of this target arc will be

ignored (until self-preservation takes over and the Tactical AI decides to

override player orders; e.g. if an enemy unit suddenly pops up at extremely

short range).

It sounds to me like the issue here is, was the tank hulk known to be knocked out by the AT team when they first saw it? Apparently not. They did not see it getting knocked out.

That seems important to me - this unit did not witness the tank being KO'd. As far as they know, it is still active.

You do not have any way as player of putting that "already KO'd" data into their little digital brain. All you can do is send them there and see what they do when they first observe a tank. The game gives them certain self-preservation routines that kick in automatically under certain conditions.

Maybe what you want as a game unit commander is some way to mark objects on the battlefield as "ignore this." That is something we could ask them to consider putting in the game and would resolve this sort of behavior.

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I don't agree with this.

No self-preservation was necessary. Even if that tank was not already abandonned, they had no reason to think it was a particular threat. They were nicely hidden behind bocage till they shot at it. Nothing, including especially that tank, was firing at them.

This to me is the time when covered arc _should_ work. If that tank opened fire on them sure they should shoot back.

If a shrek team is going to think that every tank it sees is "a threat", then covered arc is never going to work, is it? That would be rather pointless...

GaJ

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Maybe what you want as a game unit commander is some way to mark objects on the battlefield as "ignore this." That is something we could ask them to consider putting in the game and would resolve this sort of behavior.

Yes it is called nominating their covered arc, i.e. ignore anything out side this arc unless it is about to kill you.

I'd reckon that a tank that has been there since you got there and not moved in the interim doesn't fall into that "going to kill you" category.

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Well, the OP indicated that the AT team "just arrived at the bocage line" and he then gave them the cover arc command. Don't know if he was playing WEGO or what, but he says "the first thing they did was fire at the abandoned tank."

That sounds like reactive Tac AI behavior to me. The team did not see the tank being hit, they assumed it was active. Had it been moving? No - but maybe it was in ambush mode. I think they performed logically for their role.

Not sure what you think the unit is expected to do when the Tac AI perceives a threat. If you don't want a Tac AI, then maybe this is not the game for you. There's a limit to the intelligence and logic that can be programmed into these things, it seems to me.

If the tank was way distant, I'd understand...that should not be perceived as an immediate threat and the cover arc command should work. But the game's relative spotting rules have made for all sort of situations like this that seem to be infuriating a lot of people.

Anyway, we'll have to see if BFC weighs in on this and decides it is flukey behavior. Personally, I doubt they will.

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FWIW, relative spotting has nothing to do with this.

The question is "is it reasonable for covered arc to function as a means to stop anti-tank teams opening fire too early?"

How are you supposed to set up a 90m tank ambush if shreksters are always going to decide for themselves that a tank is a threat at 100m?

I do want the TacAI, and I think it is wonderful. I just think that it should respect a covered arc. I think that right now either covered arc has some sort of bug, or the perception of threat that breaks the arc way too high. "A theat" is not something out there that might maybe shoot at you. "A threat" is something already shooting at you, and looks like it will kill you if you don't do something. A threat is something that will definitely see you and shoot at you. A tank at 100m is not an immediate threat to someone hiding behind bocage with orders to ambush it at 90m. In my opinion.

GaJ

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Seems to me that relative spotting has everything to do with this since the AT team was not aware of the target being KO'd in the first place. If this was a borg spotting situation, they would not be seeing it as a threat if no one else did.

I think we can agree to disagree if this is a problem or not. Clearly you do and probably there are many who would agree with you. I'm not saying I have the right answer, only that this fits with how I see the game should work. If they end up nerfing Tac AI because this sort of thing is seen as defective behavior then so be it - you and others will be happy about that while I'll feel like the game has lost some of its character.

I do have issues with the covered arc not being specific enough and would like an infantry/armor/anything sort of choice to be available.

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An important piece of the point that I'm making is that I think it's irrelevant whether or not that tank was KOed.

That's why I think relative spotting has nothing to do with it.

That tank was outside the arc, and not firing on them. Period.

Therefore, they should be courtmarshalled for disobeyiong a direct order :)

GaJ

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I think it's perfectly acceptable to expect your AT team to obey a simple order. Going by gunnergoz comments, you would expect the AT team to actually discuss among themselves if the tank is knocked out or not but a vote taken means they will open fire any way. This may happen in future games but I don't expect it for this one :)

Let's get back to the simple fact that all the player wants is for that AT team to stay hidden and NOT fire until another tank passes which enters the covered arc zone.

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OK for sake of argument, lets say that your team gets to the hedge with their covered arc orders and sees an enemy tank which is not KO'd, and not within the cover arc but which, for whatever reason, you as player do not want them to target.

Do you want the team to ignore this live target? Could ordinary soldiers have this sort of self-control and discipline? I (perhaps wrongly) envision them saying "That d@mn officer doesn't know what he's talking about" and going ahead and firing on the tank anyway. (See below for exception.)

(Here, I have to assume, as I have all along, that the tank the OP mentioned as being KO'd was relatively close to where the AT team was deployed. If it was, then the team falling into reactive AI self-protection mode would make sense, to me at least. If on the other hand the KO'd tank was not in a distance that most soldiers would consider an immediate threat (lets say 100M) then I agree, there would be something quirky going on.)

This still seems to me to be primarily an issue of what circumstances will trigger Tac AI reactive behavior, because that is what seems to be happening here with the Tac AI over ruling the cover arc command that the player issued. I want the AI to let the pixeltruppen react defensively should I give them a stupid or suicidal order - but that's me.

OTOH, maybe there is, down the road, a way to "force" the troops to do as ordered no matter what the immediate threat to them may be - an extreme example of fanatical troops, perhaps. That might be worth coding so that players with such troops can give orders that other, more ordinary soldiers, would flat out ignore.

It is an interesting conversation and topic, no matter which way you may fall out about it and I am enjoying myself...hopefully you all are too. :)

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I think your going beyond what this actually is, which is a game!

I don't care about all the stuff between me giving my AT team orders (hide, set armour arc and stay hidden) and the blinking tank turning up. Is this tank outside the covered arc? then don't fire and give your position away. But if my AT team are facing North and a tank bursts through the hedge VERY close to them, say coming from the East, then I expect the game engine to take over and have my AT team open fire. Basically, just like what happens in CMx1 games.

Also, if Battlefront corrects this in the next patch, all you have to do is not apply the patch so you can continue to play like you do at the moment.

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How are you supposed to set up a 90m tank ambush if shreksters are always going to decide for themselves that a tank is a threat at 100m?

You can't.

But - and this is important - do they *always* disobey the covered arc?

If so, I agree there's a problem.

if not, I have my own seemingly-rhetorical question:

How are you supposed to create a realistic TacAI if the soldiers never make a mistake?

But if my AT team are facing North and a tank bursts through the hedge VERY close to them, say coming from the East, then I expect the game engine to take over and have my AT team open fire.

You want the TacAI to take over and disobey only against *extremely* obvious threats? That's not unreasonable... though it's definitely a shift away from realism. If people only fired on extremely obvious threats they wouldn't be people... We wouldn't have half as many wars, for one thing.

Or do you want the TacAI to take over and disobey only when it's the smart thing to do, and never if it's a mistake? I'd call that unreasonable. Even less realistic, and depending on how smart "smart" is, far too much to ask of the game.

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Pixeltruppen have never been 100% obedient in any of the CM games. There have and hopefully always will be ocassions when they fire outside their covered arc. Sometimes that behaviour benefits the player sometimes it doesn't. The greener the troops the more this is likely to happen to the player's disadvantage.

I would place a bet that within a few months someone will be posting here saying they set their unt a covered arc and this threat popped up and they ignored it, thats crazy, the game is flawed, this needs to be fixed etc. etc..

This is one of those situations which when it occurs will upset someone.

GaJ says that if most of the time his unit arcs work as planned he can accept the odd example of idiot or trigger happy troops. That is probably a good attitude and one which will meet with his in game experience.

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Isn't there a slight lag before orders take effect? Especially for heavy weapons?

Would the same situation have occurred if the covered arc had been pre-set, tagged to the bocage waypoint before they got there? As I understand it, the schreck team got to the hedge, and saw the tank before the covered arc command took effect.

My advice, make sure the covered arc is pre-set, and scorch the tank so everyone knows it's dead!

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I dunno. Suppose they didn't realise the tank was not abandonned. So they see a tank and feel "threatened", this is an excuse to fire? In that case what's the point of covered arc at all? A tank is _always_ going to feel threatening. And note that these guys weren't even rattled. I think I would agree with you if they had been under fire, rattled, or in any way battle-affected. But they just ran up from cosy cover into another cosy cover. There was no fire there at all. What was the threat?

I guess it comes down to "what's your point?"

If your point is "there is a way that you can rationalise this as a player"..... sure. I can rationalise it.

_My_ point is that at this early stage in the game's life we're all providing feedback about whether everything is "working just right", and my feeling is that this was a surprise, and didn't feel right.

If I later discover that most times covered arcs work fine, and these were just trigger happy dudes... great, no worries. If it's your experience that it usually works fine. ... great, let us know.

Meantime, I table this as one data point that maybe it isn't working quite right...

GaJ

I agree with you on this, we have too many players accepting things that the game engine does which is not rationale, saying it is the fog of war and they accept it. I can go along with that also. It does not bother me that things do not go as I always order them

But, and this is a big BUT. There should be things that are consistant in the command structure to the player that funtions as exspected generally.

The game has a covered arch that the troops are to focus their attention on unless they feel threatened. That tank was not moving, shooting or showing any signs of life, that is not a threat. So the point is a good one to bring forth as to if the programming is correct.

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You want the TacAI to take over and disobey only against *extremely* obvious threats? That's not unreasonable... though it's definitely a shift away from realism.

Just how realistic do you want this game to be?? Battlefront can only do so much with the game engine. I think your wanting something that's way in the future when there are more powerful computers.

Sure, I'm not expecting my AT team to be correct 100% of the time and as Blackcat correctly pointed out, it varies with the squads experience levels. But what I don't want to happen most of the time is my AT team opening fire outside the arc.

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Why is the tank not a threat? Where is its crew? Not on fire, just abandoned? ignore the tank, let it recrew and kill me? GAJ is god in the game, can see everything, the bazooka team is not, they felt it a credible threat. Not that units would shoot at tanks till they knew it was destroyed would be life like... oh wait, that is exactly what happened in real life. You never know for sure if it is playing possum, GAJ may know, the team doesn't.

Rune

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"The game has a covered arch that the troops are to focus their attention on unless they feel threatened. That tank was not moving, shooting or showing any signs of life, that is not a threat."

Maybe, but there are questions to be answered before such a conclusion can be reasonably drawn. For example, what was the time delay between the infantry seeing the tank and firing? What visible signs were there to the AT team that the tank was not a threat? What was the experience level of the infantry?

However, the key point in GaJ's original post is, "If I later discover that most times covered arcs work fine, and these were just trigger happy dudes... great, no worries". Based on my experience that is exactly what he will find and as he would have found in previous games. In CM games the troops don't always do as they are told, never have and, I hope, never will.

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