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A covered arc issue


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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

But if the AT crew has three tanks out there, why go after the least likely threat. If you to disobey orders, then at least go for one of the tanks that appears ready to possible kill you.

I say the player should expect the troops to be responsive to commands, but for known exceptions that the AI will override, so here is the trick, we have no clue what the AI is really doing. It is never explained, so it could be intentional or it could be poor programming or things that have not been thought of or addressed in the programming. If they leave it unclear, then we can make up all sorts of reasons as to why or why not it should be in the game. That is what most of these threads are about. face it, the game has limits, everything was not thought about and programmed into the game, so when things seem off at times, it is because it is off. I love the game immensly, but there is plenty of things that will always be off from what would truely happen. either accept it, or spend time here pointing them out.

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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."

The nub of the issue I guess is where does they player sit in the grand scheme of things. Are they an "on high" entity that seeks to nudge the pixeltruppen in the general direction of the overall plan OR are they representative of the different levels of command within the unit ?

If it is the first one then a reasonably autonomous AI would be expected, you simply give general orders, "like move to here and defend".

If it is the latter you would think that in this instance you have been in the position of the immediate commander of the AT team and have ordered them to move to the point and defend against threats in a given arc which in effect tells them not to engage the tank that is there when they get there.

It has always been a bit odd to me that if you order your troops to run across an open field they will do so without hesitation and be gunned down without stopping, yet often they take matters into their own hands quite readily in contravention of a fairly clear and specific order when it is a bad idea to do so.

As you rightly say there is a limit to the intelligence that can be programmed so that is where the player's intelligence comes in and to my mind should not be so readily overridden.

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The nub of the issue I guess is where does they player sit in the grand scheme of things. Are they an "on high" entity that seeks to nudge the pixeltruppen in the general direction of the overall plan OR are they representative of the different levels of command within the unit ?

If it is the first one then a reasonably autonomous AI would be expected, you simply give general orders, "like move to here and defend".

If it is the latter you would think that in this instance you have been in the position of the immediate commander of the AT team and have ordered them to move to the point and defend against threats in a given arc which in effect tells them not to engage the tank that is there when they get there.

Which would be a nonsensical order from the immediate commander from the perspective of the AT team. The order only makes sense, and the imperative to obey it only exists, at the level of the player as god.

It has always been a bit odd to me that if you order your troops to run across an open field they will do so without hesitation and be gunned down without stopping, yet often they take matters into their own hands quite readily in contravention of a fairly clear and specific order when it is a bad idea to do so.

Nonsense. A shaken or panicked unit won't obey the order. A unit under heavy fire won't obey the order, and a unit that does obey the order might turn around and run away if they take a loss in the middle of the order. All behavior that happens because in some situations TacAI self-preservation behavior will kick in and cause units to behave in ways the player did not intend or not do things the player wants them to, and that may be obviously contrary to self-preservation at the player's level of god-like knowledge.

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"It has always been a bit odd to me that if you order your troops to run across an open field they will do so without hesitation and be gunned down without stopping, yet often they take matters into their own hands quite readily in contravention of a fairly clear and specific order when it is a bad idea to do so."

Come on, Mr. Oz, you have served, doesn't that sound like typical squaddie behaviour to you? If it doesn't the RAR must have changed an awful lot over recent years.

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_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.

GaJ

You're right: it's early. Your demur may or may not be well founded.

All of the previous CM titles needed a couple of updates to really hit their stride. CMSF a half dozen. Battlefront is composed of a small team, but they listen. I find that CMBN is their least troublesome release with the possible exception of CMAK- in which they were building on a series.

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Ah... to be or not to be, that is the question :D

The problem with all TacAI behavior is there is always, always, room to argue that what is in the game now should be changed. The discussion here shows that pretty clearly. It breaks down into two separate sources of criticism:

1. Works OK most of the time, but in x situation it should be "smart" enough to behave differently so I don't have to micromanage.

2. Works OK most of the time, but in x situation I don't want it to be "smart" at all and instead follow my instructions to the letter. If I change my mind I'll change the instructions.

These two things often work against each other so totally that there is no real solution. This is probably one of those situations.

First of all, CM is a game as people rightly point out. But the heart of the game is imposed realism on the player. Our philosophy is to always err on the side of realism not player control. Overall this produces the unique experience that is CM and therefore we stick to this concept like a rabid rottweiler and his favorite chew toy. Since "fun" is a subjective concept, people need to either accept what CM is shooting for or go find a different game to play. We can't be all things to all people even some of the time, not to mention all the time.

What this means is that what the unit perceives is of critical importance to what it is/isn't able to do. The player knowing that a tank is or isn't a threat doesn't enter into the equation. It's only important to look at what the unit would do in a given situation.

In GaJ's situation I'm not really sure what to say other than I tend to agree that the Team should have overrode the Cover Arc. In real life it is quite doubtful a leader would say "advance up to this position and only shoot at tanks 90m or less, ignore anything else. Even if it looks like you have a great shot at something that could, at any moment, kill you".

So there is the crux of the issue right there. Tanks can spend a long time idle and therefore look inactive. There's plenty of accounts of this in real life. The Americans even adopted tactics which were described as "knock to see if anybody is home". When a tank came upon a German tank that wasn't obviously knocked out (burning, scattered debris, etc.) they would put one or two rounds of AP into it to make sure it was KO'd. According to some of the logic in previous posts, this sort of thing would never happen in real life and certainly shouldn't happen in the game.

But GaJ asks a good question when he wondered what good Cover Arcs are if the units routinely ignore them to engage things which are outside of their arcs. Well, not much if that's what is actually happening. Even GaJ isn't sure this is a generalized problem, therefore I suggest we just put this one in the backs of our minds and move on. If situations keep coming up where Cover Arcs are being too easily ignored, we can probably change that to some extent. We will, however, NEVER move to behavior where Cover Arcs are obeyed blindly. That would not only be unrealistic, it would also be more frustrating on a regular basis than the behavior is now.

Steve

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I'm with GAJ 100% on this one. The AT team should NOT have overrode his orders.

I like to think of myself as the platoon leader that gives the orders to the AT team. I have information that tells me that the tank is abandoned. I relay this information to my team along with orders (covered arc/ignore that tank). When they disobey my orders, thus giving away their position and possibly getting themselves and others killed, I get pi$$ed.

Those guys are in trouble.

The occasional disobedient mistake that I encountered in CMx1 was aggravating, but it DID add to the real-life feel. Mistakes happen. They ought to be rare, especially with "veteran", well-trained troops.

I hope this is also a rare occurrence in CMBN.

I don't like to hear that my orders are secondary to the AI.

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Which would be a nonsensical order from the immediate commander from the perspective of the AT team. The order only makes sense, and the imperative to obey it only exists, at the level of the player as god.

I don't agree,

Like Blackhand says setting the covered arc or many of the other things you can do to control a units fire is simply the act of the commander saying things like "Hold your fire until they leave the tress" or "Shoot the second tank to trap the first" all sorts of things that a typical commander might do, not God level at all.

Sure the TacAI can come in with its own tuppence worth but I would have expected that it would take a fair bit for a unit to disobey a direct order, regardless of whether it makes sense or not to the unit concerned. Varied of course by experience, morale, leadership etc.

I also think that units that lose their nerve and disobey orders would be more likely to NOT fire rather than open up.

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"It has always been a bit odd to me that if you order your troops to run across an open field they will do so without hesitation and be gunned down without stopping, yet often they take matters into their own hands quite readily in contravention of a fairly clear and specific order when it is a bad idea to do so."

Come on, Mr. Oz, you have served, doesn't that sound like typical squaddie behaviour to you? If it doesn't the RAR must have changed an awful lot over recent years.

I suppose those actions need to be in context a bit and I guess this is where it becomes difficult for the AI to adapt to the will of the player.

What I was saying is that it seems silly to me that if you order a unit across an open field and the enemy ambushes them the troops don't hit the dirt or run away before being shot to pieces which seems silly.

BUT you raise a good point in that in some instances, the bayonet charge for example, you want your lads to charge across the open ground without stopping and the AI has no way of knowing the difference, I'd not thought of that till now.

Just to throw it out there I remember TacOps has a setting in it for "Actions On" that you can set for your units. So you can say to a unit "Move Fast but if fired on go to ground" or "Move Fast but if fired on keep going". Something like that could go a long way to resolving some of the difficulties in the AI that Steve mentioned.

Oh and I was RASigs not smelly infantry so charging MG's was a bit outside my job description.

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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.

I wasn't asking a rhetorical question. (There aren't as many of those around as most people think.) And I didn't state what I wanted. I was trying to pin down what you.

IMO: Unless the teams are always disobeying the covered arc, I think the game's appropriately realistic for the computers we've got.

But what I don't want to happen most of the time is my AT team opening fire outside the arc.

Don't they? And what about provocation? (ie - what have we got other than 1 incident that is, at best, ambiguous?)

(No rhetorical questions in the post.)

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More to the point . . . I like to think of myself not only as the company commander, but also the one in charge right on down the line to the friggin' lance-corporal in charge of that bazooka. If my squaddie freaks out and opens fire, against MY orders . . . I'm gonna knock his effin' block off . . . if we live through his bone-headed maneuver.

It is MY game, right? Who's in charge here?

The scenario GAJ describes, where his orders are flagrantly disobeyed, better be pretty friggin rare.

I experienced something similar last night when I was playing the training mission. (That's all the further I'm in to the game so far.) I gave orders to target the PzIV's . . . but they were always overridden in favor of targeting the Panther. That takes me right out of the tank commanders seat . . . and plops the AI right down in there. Great.

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Ah... to be or not to be, that is the question :D

The problem with all TacAI behavior is there is always, always, room to argue that what is in the game now should be changed. The discussion here shows that pretty clearly. It breaks down into two separate sources of criticism:

1. Works OK most of the time, but in x situation it should be "smart" enough to behave differently so I don't have to micromanage.

2. Works OK most of the time, but in x situation I don't want it to be "smart" at all and instead follow my instructions to the letter. If I change my mind I'll change the instructions.

These two things often work against each other so totally that there is no real solution. This is probably one of those situations.

First of all, CM is a game as people rightly point out. But the heart of the game is imposed realism on the player. Our philosophy is to always err on the side of realism not player control. Overall this produces the unique experience that is CM and therefore we stick to this concept like a rabid rottweiler and his favorite chew toy. Since "fun" is a subjective concept, people need to either accept what CM is shooting for or go find a different game to play. We can't be all things to all people even some of the time, not to mention all the time.

What this means is that what the unit perceives is of critical importance to what it is/isn't able to do. The player knowing that a tank is or isn't a threat doesn't enter into the equation. It's only important to look at what the unit would do in a given situation.

In GaJ's situation I'm not really sure what to say other than I tend to agree that the Team should have overrode the Cover Arc. In real life it is quite doubtful a leader would say "advance up to this position and only shoot at tanks 90m or less, ignore anything else. Even if it looks like you have a great shot at something that could, at any moment, kill you".

So there is the crux of the issue right there. Tanks can spend a long time idle and therefore look inactive. There's plenty of accounts of this in real life. The Americans even adopted tactics which were described as "knock to see if anybody is home". When a tank came upon a German tank that wasn't obviously knocked out (burning, scattered debris, etc.) they would put one or two rounds of AP into it to make sure it was KO'd. According to some of the logic in previous posts, this sort of thing would never happen in real life and certainly shouldn't happen in the game.

But GaJ asks a good question when he wondered what good Cover Arcs are if the units routinely ignore them to engage things which are outside of their arcs. Well, not much if that's what is actually happening. Even GaJ isn't sure this is a generalized problem, therefore I suggest we just put this one in the backs of our minds and move on. If situations keep coming up where Cover Arcs are being too easily ignored, we can probably change that to some extent. We will, however, NEVER move to behavior where Cover Arcs are obeyed blindly. That would not only be unrealistic, it would also be more frustrating on a regular basis than the behavior is now.

Steve

once again I learned something as far as how Steve thinks as to the design concepts of his game, maybe somewhere down the road this will be the AI that takes over the World, and removes us Mortals from existance, we just kept wanting to control it and it became tired of us trying to override its code. Steve , you are just a evil mad programmer, not the truth can be told.

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We have over 11 years of practical, hands on experience with how customers react to TacAI behavior. We've learned some hard lessons over the years. The first (which we knew to start out with) is that it's impossible to make the TacAI read a player's mind. It would be nice, but it's not possible. Second is that so much of what a unit does is interpretation of a player's will, the lack of mind reading is a distinct liability in pleasing everybody in all situations all the time. Third, is that when the AI doesn't react to something the player tends to get a lot more upset than when it disobeys. Provided, of course, the disobeying is at least defensible from the unit's perspective.

Put another way, a player says "I always want my units to do exactly what I tell them to do" right up until the point when the unit does something dumb. In that case the player then concludes, with certainty, that "the TacAI is stupid. It should have done something else".

Well players... you can't have your cake and eat it too. It just doesn't work that way.

In most situations, most of the time, the TacAI's overrides of player Commands is for the better. The player might not see it that way, of course, and it might mess up the player's overall battle plan. But if the player doesn't take into consideration these sorts of possibilities AND plan for them ahead of time, well... then the player's punishment is probably justly deserved.

This is not to say that the TacAI always makes the best decisions all the time. Since Humans don't make the best decisions all the time, one can argue that even if we could make a perfect TacAI (which we can't) we shouldn't for the sake of realism.

Generally speaking the TacAI tries to stick to player Commands. Some Commands are more strict than others. Fast, for example, is purposefully highly resistant to TacAI changes. Otherwise dashes to safety would be pretty much impossible once the first shot is fired.

If we see patterns of behavior that appear to be inappropriate then we can probably make some tweaks. But players who expect their units to do exactly what they tell them too will forever be disappointed.

Anybody interested in discussions about TacOps SOPs, and why we don't think they would work for CM, can do a search of the CM:SF Forum or any of the CMx1 Forums. I'd start with the CM:SF Forum since it's more recent and therefore relevant.

Steve

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Just popping back into this thread to thank Steve for reading it and responding ... and not outright declaring me wrong: best possible result for me, couldn't ask for any more :)

I'm totally with "keep an eye on it, see if it happens too often".

Of courese, if someone with insight into the code knows whether this is "crap, we weren't expeting this code to result in him firing at that time, we better see why he did" or whether its "hey, the code has a 1/10 dice roll to decide to fire anyhow and that seems OK, this was just bad luck for GaJ" then that would be reassuring :)

GaJ

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Except for short arcs to limit some units from firing (e.g. HQ's, mortars in LOS or bazooka teams I'm saving) I don't much even use the cover arc command any more. I find the Tac AI is more than capable of picking and choosing its targets most of the time and if I cobble it with my ideas of where it should be looking for targets, as often as not I miss a good target and/or my unit gets clobbered by someone outside of the arc it was told to ignore.

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Really, the knee-jerk, reactionary, conspiracy theorist side of my brain is hearing that Battlefront wants to put the AI in control of everything. That is, the TacAI or whatever we're calling it, is actually the GOD in charge of my battle . . . and the frogs in the pot seem to agree. The rational side of thought tells me that this cannot really be true. My orders are MY orders . . . the AI is the GOD of my ENEMY . . . but I am in control of my fate and that of the troops under MY command. At least, when playing the . . . AI.

I will not willingly submit to any computer overlord.

Anyhow, another thing that occurs to me with regard to AT teams and cover arcs.

When I gave a cover arc to my AT teams in CMx1, I set my zookers to fire at 50 yards and my schrecks to fire at 75. It's my Company/Platoon/Fire-Team, those are how I train MY people. Sure, these weapons could kill targets at further ranges, but the probability of a hit at those ranges was (as I understand it), historically quite difficult. In MY company, I lay down the LAW (so to speak). WE don't open up on ANYTHING without a high-percentage probability of a hit/kill. Period. To open up at greater ranges only gives away your position, wastes ammo and brings down a world of hurt, from the enemy, and the company commander.

I understand that mistakes are going to be made, but the dice roll on whether MY (well trained) SOLDIERS disobey MY ORDERS better be pretty effing slim. Sure, I expect the occasional act of disobedeince and for reality's sake, I want those occasions to crop up. However, I want the greater percentage of my orders to be set in stone with the percentage of disobedience on a sliding scale depending on various factors (training, panic, fatique, etc.). I trust that this is how Battlefront has designed the game . . . but when I hear the disobeince in the OP's post excused (even championed) by a member of the design team . . . it makes me wonder.

I am the one in command here. If I turn out to be a $hitty commander and order my soldiers to do what may turn out to be stupid things, then I will lose.

I want to bear responsibility for my successes and failures. I don't want the AI in charge of my fate.

The TacAI didn't pay sixty bucks for this game. I did.

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I don't much even use the cover arc command any more. I find the Tac AI is more than capable of picking and choosing its targets most of the time and if I cobble it with my ideas of where it should be looking for targets, as often as not I miss a good target and/or my unit gets clobbered by someone outside of the arc it was told to ignore.

I find this very hard to believe. So, when you give pointed orders to your soldiers you are "cobbling" them with your ideas of how to play the game/win the battle?

Jeesus, man. Why even bother playing at all? Just watch a movie.

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I had a tube team sitting behind a hedge in long grass, I gave them a cover arc of about 45deg on the other side of the hedge and put a hide command on them.... A PzIV came within 80 meters BEHND them (only tall grass in between) and they did not fire on the PzIV as it rolled by. So were they not threatened (I guess), but that is different then what the OP questioned, I think it is good to question such behavour early on in the games lifeline. I do believe after palying about 15 PBEM's and 15 vs AI scenarios that there is enough 'what if' or 'wtf' built into the AI that at times one can feel slighted and other times glad their mini-minded pixeltruppen decided to do what they did... IMHO

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I find this very hard to believe. So, when you give pointed orders to your soldiers you are "cobbling" them with your ideas of how to play the game/win the battle?

Jeesus, man. Why even bother playing at all? Just watch a movie.

Thanks for the insult. How I play is my business. Who are you to judge. I simply said I do not find the covered arc command useful.

Go soak your head and get a grip.

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