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Not So Modest Proposal...

 
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Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/20/2008 4:23:38 PM   
jc4751

 

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I've been playing around the last few days with Company of Heroes and it's a fine game in a number of respects. While it's not 100% historically accurate, it does fine within the parameters of the game as defined by the designers. The AI seems pretty decent and there's plenty of tactical challenge within the game system itself -- I found myself making good use of suppressive fire and manuever to take out German positions, defense in depth and using AT guns to ambush German tanks.

The downside of the system is what plagues the majority of RTS games: pre-scripted missions in a linear format. This is by design as well -- there have been a few games which were non-linear in a campaign mode a little like the Close Combat series, and have been well-received, but most are not particularly interested in simulating a historical military situation. (I found Battle for Middle Earth 2 to be quite fun in this respect)

Close Combat, on the other side of the coin has some problems as well, including the 2d format and the fact that it's a ten year old engine that's been patched and modified as time goes on. It was excellent for the day, and is still fun, but it's showing its age. (before anyone lights the "flamethrower," I'm planning on buying and downloading CC:WaR in a few days!) However, using the strategic/operational system to generate tactical battles that affect the larger scale is a great idea and works very well indeed in numerous other engines such as the Total War series, as well as the CC series. Plus, people seem to really like the marriage of the two (I know I do).

So, I'm proposing a new design which would essentially be a marriage of the two systems -- a solid 3d engine with a 2d strategic layer which can accurately simulate a historical campaign of varying scale and historical period where players fight across pre-designed 3d battlefields. To that end, here's my tenative list of requirements:

Game modes:
Allow a player to fight across a board map with numerous units or a linked (or random) series of battlefields with a single unit (say, an infantry company 1944-1945 in NW Europe).

Single-player battles.

"Default" campaign mode where a player fights numerous battles across a campaign map similar to CCIV/CCV.

Live multiplayer via the Internet. A nice to have would be multi-multiplayers.

Campaign mode:
Area movement with units, represented on whatever scale a designer wants, both in terms of time, unit scale, etc. This would allow designers to represent anything from the Bulge or Stalingrad down to maybe something on the scale of Carentan (if it would make sense). Overall unit type may affect movement rate?

Support for land, air and sea interaction, with the latter two elements being somewhat abstracted. Some areas where I think they would matter would be interdiction of movement or reinforcements or aerial recon around the battlefield in addition to providing direct support during a "scenario."

Attrition, if it makes sense in the scenario. Varying resupply levels. Supply situation may affect battlefield morale and readiness (need to be able to simulated isolated units)

Weather effects on campaign movement, air support, attrition, etc. If scale is large enough, simulate weather fronts and temperature variations.

Scriptable event support.

Tactical mode:
Fully 3D battlefield, especially with complete line of sight support.

Weather!

Infantry units can enter buildings. Tanks may be able to damage/destroy some terrain.

Buildings and terrain features themselves can be damaged or destroyed (walls, bunkers, trees, headges, etc).

Vehicles have different armor based on facing, etc.

Heavy weapons need to be deployed. Guns can be towed, or emplaced (on setup)

Mines, mine clearing, etc.

Fires, within reason -- a building gets hit with a flamethrower and can burn. If it burns, anything burnable nearby can also catch.

Capturable locations and set up zones on a map that vary based on unit location/previous possession, etc.

Numerous unit attributes...maybe not try for a ton of units on a map, but detailed units?

Flying units (helicopters come to mind for a Vietnam/moden version)

Designer support:
Variable size maps on the strategic and tactical scale both. Map creation tools allow for modifying 3d terrain.

Ability to place nodes that the AI can intereact with. For example, if there's a strategically important spot on the map (hill, bridge, etc), the AI will either try to defend or attack that.

Put in "mud zones" on a map or other effects based on weather. Eg, if it rains for three days straight, a field turns to mud. Ditto for frozen ground/snow. Or, have a basic map and overloads which depend on weather type (eg: zone_31_mud extends zone_31, etc).

Ability to script AI for a campaign and to instruct it for a battlemap. AI is linked between campaign and battlemap based on various factors (ie: the AI tries to create good matchups based on the location terrain type, overall battle situation, etc).

Designers can create new units, buildings, vehicles, etc, with a little 3d modeling work. (might be possible to create a community-based content exchange)

Designers should be able to create battles from ~1900 to near future. Most users would probably be interested in a WW2, tho.

Anyway, those're some of my thoughts on the subject. Some of this is subject to issues of complexity...particularly creating a 3d map and the mapping tools needed to build a battlefield, although 3d graphics programming is getting to be a mature field. AI is another concern...I know people mention that no AI can stand up to a human opponent, but not everyone is interested in multiplayer all the time. (I find it to be less relaxing, myself) Bad AI has killed more than a few games... Animation of soldiers would be time consuming, but careful design would mean it would need to be done only once..

I'd be interested to hear some thoughts on the subject, particularly from those of you who are also software developers. Not really thinking about any commercial model or actually coding something like this yet, since it would definitely be a pretty large effort with a dedicated team. Not sure also of what tools would make sense...I work mostly in .net. XNA?
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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/20/2008 6:06:54 PM   
Mr. Skullduggery


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A project like this would have to be written in DirectX 10 or OpenGL 3.0, IMO.  I do not think XNA would have the horsepower to do what you are describing.  That being said, you could probably take the new Empire: Total War and create a mod to upgrade to the 20th century.  Otherwise, I would not be surprised if that is Creative Assembly's next iteration of the Total War franchise.

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(in reply to jc4751)
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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/20/2008 6:43:31 PM   
jc4751

 

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I remember that WW2 had been bandied about on CA's forums a couple of years ago and they didn't really show a lot of interest at the time. The Total War series really isn't quite in the same scope as Close Combat and would require pretty extensive modifications to the source code of the game which wouldn't be possible on a mod level.

Again, my intent is just to get some wheels turning and open up a discussion on what I think a number of people would consider to be their "dream game."

(in reply to Mr. Skullduggery)
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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/21/2008 11:51:41 AM   
Krasny

 

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If it were possible to marry the tactical game of Combat Mission with the strategy game of Close Combat, I would be a very happy bunny.

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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/21/2008 12:09:17 PM   
jc4751

 

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Yeah, Combat Mission was pretty decent in places, although I think even more could be done than what they did and I'm not aware of any new WW2 games in the series...? Seriously, this just seems like the game someone should be making, especially if all the tools are in place to allow outside parties to create content for it.

(in reply to Krasny)
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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/21/2008 5:57:12 PM   
killroyishere

 

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Doesn't Steel Panthers Generals do this? Personally I don't wany any real time elements that I have to play klik klik with and shuffle my wrist/hand around like I'm going through puberty again. And if you don't know what I mean don't ask. Also, I think Impressions did one like you are talking about called "D-Day:The Beginning of the End", but, it was mostly the Western Front I think. Takes forever to play out a full game since you play out every 'hex" battle on the map tactically if I remember correctly.

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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/23/2008 12:46:53 AM   
Deride


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Mr. Skullduggery
A project like this would have to be written in DirectX 10 or OpenGL 3.0, IMO.  I do not think XNA would have the horsepower to do what you are describing. 


XNA is used to develop PC and XBox 360 games. It has as much horespower as you need.

(in reply to Mr. Skullduggery)
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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/23/2008 1:40:43 AM   
Hertston


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I'm skeptical about the strategic/tactical link. IMHO it's just candy.. no strategic layer can create meaningful tactical encounters at that scale. It can work in a Napoleonic or ACW game where 'tactical battles' can involve divisions and even armies, but not for 'moderns'. I'd rather have just a good tactical game, which if good enough doesn't need the froth (ditto with a good strategic/operational game come to that). CM2 fills the bill admirably IMHO.. and the next game will be WW2.

I'm puzzled by

quote:

the strategy game of Close Combat


What 'strategy game"? All any of the 'strategic' layers in CC did was allow you to link scenarios with a little manpower management. And even in that only CC2 really 'worked'.

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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/23/2008 11:56:25 AM   
Krasny

 

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It had a strategy layer. Ok it could be better.

Which is what the Combat Mission games so sorely lack.

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RE: Not So Modest Proposal... - 11/23/2008 6:05:12 PM   
gunny

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Hertston

I'm skeptical about the strategic/tactical link. IMHO it's just candy.. no strategic layer can create meaningful tactical encounters at that scale. It can work in a Napoleonic or ACW game where 'tactical battles' can involve divisions and even armies, but not for 'moderns'. I'd rather have just a good tactical game, which if good enough doesn't need the froth (ditto with a good strategic/operational game come to that). CM2 fills the bill admirably IMHO.. and the next game will be WW2.

I'm puzzled by

quote:

the strategy game of Close Combat


What 'strategy game"? All any of the 'strategic' layers in CC did was allow you to link scenarios with a little manpower management. And even in that only CC2 really 'worked'.


There is a limit in terms of how many layers the tactical game can be versus the strategic elements. If you are battling with squads and individual tanks then the strategy Layer should not tbe bigger than a battallion, or it becomes an abstract representaion. The AOR must be the size of something a battallion would control. This would work well for Viet Nam as AOR's were stable and the same Company could be assigned to operate out of a center base and patrol a finite area of operation for an entire tour of duty.

For WW2 this would only work in a historically stagnant period, and limited location, perhaps 2 months in the Hurtgeon or better yet a sector in Stalingrad.

(in reply to Hertston)
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