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Question to Arjuna - 9/13/2012 3:12:43 PM   
wodin


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Dave,

I think every designer has their ultimate game design that they are trying to work towards. Either money, tech restrictions or general inexperience are what holds them back but the dream design is always there and the designer slowly works their way towards it. I'd be interested to know what your eventual dream CO game would be? What features does CO have in it's final state when you look at it and say yes I've made it exactly how I envisioned at the start?

J

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Post #: 1
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/14/2012 1:24:41 AM   
Arjuna


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From: Canberra, Australia
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Wodin,

Paul and I started designing our engine back in 1995. We spent many a late night discussing the design and what the game would end up being. Now that certainly guided us but as we got into the nitty gritty we realised in the initial stages that we would have to jetison some of the features we wanted like multiple commands to support team play, campaign mode, alternate doctrines etc. We just didn't have the resources or time to achieve these.

But as we got a couple of titles out we realised that there were features we needed that we had not envisaged, like mixed mode movement, better force allocation etc. So just as the engine has evolved, so too has our design intentions.

This evolutionary approach is a natural fit for a complex system. Because of the complexities your traditional waterfall approach of designing everything up front doesn't work. That was our initial approach but we soon ditched it for a rapid prototyping approach. It took us three attempts before we finally came up with the decision and scheduling engine we now use. That meant a whole year of delay.

So I think a better question to ask would be what would I like to see the engine have now. And be aware that this may change in twelve months time.

I am supposed to be doing my annual tax return today, so instead of a full blown description I will list the top features that I would like to add. They are:

  • Sequential Tasking - ie the ability to order multiple tasks in a sequence
  • Planning Graphics - so we can impose realitic controls such as boundaries
  • Triggers - so we can set conditions for tasks to start and end that are related to some condition other than time - eg enemy control town X. Note that Sequential Tasking, Planning Graphics and Triggers are a prerequisite for Planning Mode.
  • Planning Mode - so we can create, analyse and commit contingency plans - ie plans that are not the current plan but can be committed to become the current plan. That way you can be creating future plans while the current plan is being implemented.
  • Multiple Commands - each with a portion of the total force and each with their own AI processing thread. This would distribute processing and allow us to take better advantage of four and eight core processors, thus improving performance and enabling bigger battles or more detailed simulation. It and Planning Mode are prerequisites for Team Play.
  • Team Play - where multiple players can play online on the same or opposing team. This woul be terrific IMO.
  • Staff Roles - where different players can take on the roles of the different staff functions that a normal HQ would have. So you could have your 3 shop fighting the current battle while your 5 shop plans the future op. You could have a fires officer managing the allocation of fire support etc.
  • Campaign Mode - so you can fihgt a series or network of scenarios where the outcome of the previous scenarios affects the current and future scenarios.
  • UI Overhaul - to include ditching support for XP so we can take advatange of the new MFC graphics, including transparency effects, and so we can show info overlays like map control, movement maps, firepower maps etc. But also I would like to provide an enhanced sidebar which can be resized and with options to expand and collapse data views so people on larger monitors can take advantage of it. This would also include providing scalable text so older eyes can see the text more easily.
  • Data Logging - with options to specify what data is logged to file as the game runs. This would allow those with such a bent to analyse events to their hearts content.
  • Enhanced AAR - with more details on unit performance.
  • Game Recording - that could be replayed and edited to provide a dynamic AAR.


That will do for now. I can hear the taxman coming back.

_____________________________

Dave "Arjuna" O'Connor
www.panthergames.com

(in reply to wodin)
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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/14/2012 2:03:36 PM   
wodin


Posts: 8032
Joined: 4/20/2003
From: England
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Damn the Tax man;)

Well after reading that list I have to say it's everything and more I would love to see myself. Excellent insight into how you want the game to develop and I'm sure will get alot of people excited.

Thanks Dave for taking the time to answer. I only hope we get to see all this at some point in the future now I will leave you in peace to fill out those dreaded forms.

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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/15/2012 1:03:43 PM   
phoenix

 

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Would be fantastic with just the first five. The PLanning mode would be superb. BUT, BUT, BUT, it's a great game now with a few bugs that make it too frustrating to play too often. So I'd happily settle for a more speedy resolution of those types of issues. So, we've all (well, some of us) been complaining about the 'Halting, halting' bug for a very long time now - is it 6 months or more? before that there were other bugs that made play a bit frustrating, and again we complained for a very long time. And you - Dave et al - were, in fact, very prompt in addressing these issues (which for me have become game-killer issues), BUT, what happens next? Instead of a little patch put out quickly to get rid of halting and allow me to play a great game RIGHT NOW, the solution gets wrapped up in bigger plans that we all know from past experience will take months and months to resolve. So we're still waiting for the halting thing to be fixed, even though you told us many months ago that you had fixed it. Because the halting thing is part of a bigger patch, that is part of a COTA conversion, or whatever. And whilst i think all this development is fantastic, I know it will be many years before we get near your wish-list above, and - as I said - it's a great game right now, with several issues that surely could be fixed and patched quicker than this? Does it have to be done this way, Dave? Why can't we have smaller patches, now?

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Post #: 4
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/15/2012 11:32:05 PM   
wodin


Posts: 8032
Joined: 4/20/2003
From: England
Status: online
Pheonix I understand where your coming from but the list above is something I'm sure is on their mind for future games.

As for releasing smaller fixes that would be cool however not all developers work like that. Scott at HPS Sims does the same thing where I feel he should release patches to the public quicker where he'd rather do a set amount of things each patch which does mean big delays between each one.

It's just something we have to live with. Lets say Dave was working on something when the bug was mentioned he goes and fixes it, but what he was working on isn't completed thus if he releases it as a patch it would have more issues.

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Post #: 5
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/16/2012 1:17:33 PM   
phoenix

 

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Wodin. It's always the case that there are more issues. I've bought every game they made (except FB) and it's been like this all along. I don't mind that there will be 'issue' after 'issue' because it's inevitable, I feel, that it will be like that when you're trying to develop a competent AI. They're trying to mimic 'human' responses and it's just not possible to compute every possible variation in advance, so hence the work has to be reactive - responding to what we report. That's fine. And it's a big enterprise. But there's issues and issues. I notice many more than the one which kills it for me at the moment, but don't bother with them, because they're little. But the 'halting, halting, halting' thing makes it a bit silly to play sometimes. From the Meuse to the Rhine, for example, is very time critical. If you don't cut off the route south from Arnhem to Nijmegan before the end of Day 1 (as happened, after all, historically) then the Axis floods reinforcements over Arnhem road bridge and down to Nijmegan. If that happens then it becomes very difficult to take Nijmegan bridge before XXX Corps arrives, and then you're in for quite a slog, and meanwhile the brit paras are dropping like flies. The scenario has been killed for me many times because 1 or 2 battallions of paras end up freezing for many hours on the way to Arnhem (and not always when they run into a contact) with nothing but 'halting, halting, halting' appearing in the log, and then they fail to take the route south - one way or another - in time. There's not much point, I feel, in doing all the planning and spending so much time at it if this happens (if it happened with an explanation, even, I'd be happy, but it doesn't). The issue, I've been told by Dave, was fixed many months ago. But I still have it, because no patch yet. I have no doubt that when it's patched another issue will appear, for the reasons stated above. The last issue that got everyone frustrated - you may recall - was routing behaviour (units routing towards the enemy and then surrendering). That too was fixed very quickly, but, once again, it was many, many months before it was patched. So, I ask, why does it have to be like this? The genre is full of hotfixes and other ways of releasing improvements, and my point is that it CAN be done another way (if it can't, for some tech reason, then someone correct me...) and is done in other ways by many other games. The policy of rolling up many fixes and releasing, roughly, one patch a year basically stops me playing the game when it so happens that one of those fixes is just too desirable to live without. And I would like to play it. So, whilst it's nice of you, Wodin, to offer an apologia on behalf of Dave et al in advance of them explaining why it has to be this way, I would just like to put in a plea for quicker fixes to significant issues (by which I mean quicker, smaller patches). Why can't that happen?

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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/16/2012 4:05:12 PM   
SapperAstro

 

Posts: 208
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From: Penrith, Australia
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Fair complaint, but I have to wonder why you basically took over this thread with a seperate issue. Couldn't you have started a new thread? I was enjoying reading about Panthers future plans and then suddently 'BOOM' in you come...not saying you shouldn't be frustrated if you have a problem, just that perhaps barging in on unrelated threads is not really the best idea...perhaps starting a new thread, or posting in the thread relating to this problem is the key...?

Guess that ends Arjunas discussion regarding future plans for his ultimate wargame...

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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/16/2012 4:42:39 PM   
phoenix

 

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Yes, fair point, SapperAstro. It was part of a conversation about priorities, I thought, but maybe it should have been a new post. No doubt someone will move it elsewhere if they feel strongly. It wouldn't make complete sense of course, as a new post, given it refers to the previous post. 'Boom'?? Not sure it will have bothered Dave like that - certainly wouldn't cause him to shun the thread (if past experience anything to go by). I'm sure he'll take it in the spirit intended - from someone who has bought everything he's put out, from the beginning - as a suggestion for change, from within a community of users, not as a complaint.

< Message edited by phoenix -- 9/16/2012 4:51:41 PM >

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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 12:19:30 AM   
Arjuna


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From: Canberra, Australia
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Me, put off...no, I'm ok. I understand and accept phoenix's criticism about he lack of a new patch to fix the halting problem. Believe me that putting out a new patch is my number one priority for the series. Bit I am a captive in a way. Iam waiting on others with the expertise needed to finish it off. I spent most of last week trying to solve the memory leak/lockup isue that I encounter while trying to test the halting issue.Low level issues like memory management and processing threads are not my strong suit. So right now I am waiting on Paul to solve these. He is very much aware of the need for speed.

_____________________________

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www.panthergames.com

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RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 1:12:12 AM   
Lieste

 

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I think the impact of 'halting' is overemphasised. I have seen it once or twice, but it can be worked around, and is a prevalent problem in the real world. (That it isn't intentional makes it a bug ~ but I would welcome a managed 'retention' as a feature).

If the issue were severe then the tutorial 'game' I play ~ the elimination of 12th VGD(-) and KG Peiper before scenario end ~ would be less achievable, noticeably the race for St Vith - where the goal is to beat the German 'north edge' reinforcements into the objective.

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Post #: 10
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 2:16:08 AM   
danlongman

 

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From: Over the hills and far away
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One thing we as wargamers expect too much is for our plans to work out perfectly.
Many are guilty of planning just to beat the known AI limits. I have a son who does that.
"Son you gotta keep your sense of immersion, be in the moment!"
"dad, shut up. I am winning the game." I think a few are old enough to remember the
old SPI monster HTTR where if you made a mistake in moving your pieces on the map and
busted stacking limits the whole formation was disrupted. It was a rule that said
your mistake was part of the game. The wailing and gnashing of teeth! The torn hair
and dogs and cats savagely beaten! Nobody went for a smoke or a pee during the other
guys turn in order that his move be policed - real interactive turns. I remember a multiplayer
game where XXX Corps commander's face went white as he accidentally overstacked a road
junction and the Guards Armoured Div went into a traffic jam. Those were the days.
I know this is a bug but in warfare at this level things always go wrong and the winners
are those who plan for misfortune (and it helps to make the least mistakes).
I was part of a military exercise once in a well known training area where an officer thought
he would be really smart and make blown up copies of the standard maps at a very large scale
so he could more intricately place and direct his units. He had these blow ups encased in plastic
laminate on 8x11" sheets (so he could do it at home). Unfortunately he mounted them upside
down because he had blown them up so the numbers were not visible on most copies. Plan for that.

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(in reply to Lieste)
Post #: 11
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 4:22:02 AM   
Deathtreader


Posts: 716
Joined: 4/22/2003
From: Vancouver, Canada.
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: danlongman

One thing we as wargamers expect too much is for our plans to work out perfectly.
Many are guilty of planning just to beat the known AI limits. I have a son who does that.
"Son you gotta keep your sense of immersion, be in the moment!"
"dad, shut up. I am winning the game." I think a few are old enough to remember the
old SPI monster HTTR where if you made a mistake in moving your pieces on the map and
busted stacking limits the whole formation was disrupted. It was a rule that said
your mistake was part of the game. The wailing and gnashing of teeth! The torn hair
and dogs and cats savagely beaten! Nobody went for a smoke or a pee during the other
guys turn in order that his move be policed - real interactive turns. I remember a multiplayer
game where XXX Corps commander's face went white as he accidentally overstacked a road
junction and the Guards Armoured Div went into a traffic jam. Those were the days.
I know this is a bug but in warfare at this level things always go wrong and the winners
are those who plan for misfortune (and it helps to make the least mistakes).
I was part of a military exercise once in a well known training area where an officer thought
he would be really smart and make blown up copies of the standard maps at a very large scale
so he could more intricately place and direct his units. He had these blow ups encased in plastic
laminate on 8x11" sheets (so he could do it at home). Unfortunately he mounted them upside
down because he had blown them up so the numbers were not visible on most copies. Plan for that.


Great post sir..............hit that nail right on the head!!



Rob.

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Hmmmm... big place ain't it??
- Sir Harry Flashman (1854)

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Post #: 12
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 8:52:42 AM   
phoenix

 

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Thanks Dave. :)


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Post #: 13
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/17/2012 4:18:55 PM   
Txema

 

Posts: 231
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From: Basque Country
Status: offline
quote:

ORIGINAL: Lieste

I think the impact of 'halting' is overemphasised. I have seen it once or twice, but it can be worked around, and is a prevalent problem in the real world. (That it isn't intentional makes it a bug ~ but I would welcome a managed 'retention' as a feature).

If the issue were severe then the tutorial 'game' I play ~ the elimination of 12th VGD(-) and KG Peiper before scenario end ~ would be less achievable, noticeably the race for St Vith - where the goal is to beat the German 'north edge' reinforcements into the objective.


Hi Lieste,

First of all I want to say that I like this game very much. I think that Arjuna and the team are doing an excellent work. I also appreciate very much all the advice that you give in the forums. Very usefull, thank you !!!

However I also want to say that I am really looking forward to the patch. Perhaps it is due to my playing style but I have experienced the "Halting" issues and honestly they get on my nerves when they happen. Perhaps I expect too much for my plans to work out perfectly, as other poster has said, but if a managed 'retention' is introduced as a feature in the future, I want to beg to make it an option enabled only in the most difficult settings (when you select "painfully realistic" delay for the orders, for example). I will disable it in my games if possible, that's for sure. I don't enjoy it and I want to avoid it as the "painfully realistic" delay for the orders...

I want to say also that, in my opinion, the current bugs that produce the "Halting" issues are quite important. Actually if you follow the instructions of the video Tutorials carefully (something that a new player is expected to do ) you will not achieve the expected results, and that can be very frustrating, specially for a new player.

To show the importance of the bugs I want to refer to 2 posts recently posted by Arjuna while fixing the bugs. I want to repeat that I think that Arjuna is doing an excellent work with the game, fixing and explaining the issues, and I appreciate it very much. But now that I have experienced the bugs and that I know about them I can't wait to get them fixed in my game !!

quote:

ORIGINAL: Arjuna

From: Halting!!!!!!!! ARGH!!!!!!!

I found a bug in the code that tries to initiate attacks. There is a spot where it modifies down the initation probability if the subject has to cross a river to get to the objective. Trouble was that I had made a change to the default value that says whether you are across the river or not but had failed to change the actual test code to accomoate this change. As a result whenever you tried to initiate an attack it would say you are across the river and drastically reduce the prob of launching the attack. My bad. I have fixed this and will test to see if there is anything else amiss.


quote:

ORIGINAL: Arjuna

From: Play balancing

I have been running through a saved game Richard Simonitch sent me on RDOA. In particular he drew my attention to an attack he had ordered the KOSB to undertake and that had stalled. I have been paying close atention to the units as they attempted this attack and have discovered a few anomolies. First off the lead assault company changed facing as soon as it halted. It shouldn't do this in an assault as this decreases its cohesion and wastes valuable time. Next thing I noticed was that the KOSB mortars were firing at targets away from the objective. Upon investigation these mortars were supporting an adjacent formation because the ArtDirectFireOnly option had not been checked in the attack order. I have since made it default to be checked for attacks and probes. So this got the mortars now firing at those pesky German light flak units that were suppressing the assault companies.

However, the mortars were lucky to put in one minute of fire before they lifted. So I stepped through the code and found that it was because the vast majority of the five mintes of bombardment time alloted was being used to register the target. I have now ensured that the fire time is increased by the remaining registration time. So now the mortars get to pound the German lt flak and forced them to retreat thus enabling the assault companies to continue their assault. Yee ha!

But then I noticed that the mortars ran out of ammo just as the assault units got to the objective. This was very unfortunate. Now the code called for a standard bombardment time of five minutes per oncall shoot. Most arty has an allotment of 45 minutes of fire per day. So this would see around nine shoots, which should be enough for an attack. But the glider units don't land with a full load.

So what needs to be done is to reduce the bombardment time by the ratio of available arty ammo to estab arty ammo. I started to do so on Friday but ran out of time as this solution necissitates adding data to several classes ( ie we need to store the estab arty ammo for a unit ). Hopefyully I will complete this on Monday and then we should see the KOSB attack succeed.

Here is a list of the fixes I have done so far:

• Prevent face changing for assaulting units and those moving in road column
• Default the task settings for ArtyDirectFireOnly to true for attacks and probes
• Added the registrationTime to remainingDuration in bombardment events. This ensures that the arty unit fires for at least the specified number of minutes.
• Now cap maxSuppression to 75% for direct fire and to 85% for indirect fire when the target is in covered terrain.
• Reduced max registration times from 15 to 5 minutes and increased the range denominator from 200 to 500. Rego time = min( 5, range / 500 ). The overall effect is to reduce registration times for arty fire. Fatigue and training can increase time by up to 56% to a max of 8 minutes.


I will also take a look at the initial orders delay imposed upon the Germans at scenario start.

Oh and one other thing I forgot to mention above was that I have placed a cap on the amount a unit can be supressed if they are in covered terrain. this ensures that if they do Halt they can still return some fire.


(in reply to Lieste)
Post #: 14
RE: Question to Arjuna - 9/19/2012 7:26:51 AM   
wodin


Posts: 8032
Joined: 4/20/2003
From: England
Status: online
Txema..also remember that due to patches and game improvements the tutorials are now outdated and are alot harder than they used to be.So even without the halting bug it still wont play out like the vids.

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Post #: 15
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