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Fog of War - 5/10/2015 12:38:58 AM   
berto


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In the Beech Grove, North Attacks scenario, I send forth my Union cavalry unit, and this is what I see:




  • Why would I know Unit under Mouse info about enemy units to that much detail? (The mouse cursor is over the Southern unit at the trench angle.) I appreciate that the Approx. Strength & Approx. Morale figures might be bogus (but how would I know the unit starter Morale?), but the enemy firearms mix, and their ranges -- bogus too? Or why would I know any of that? From a distance of 300 yards?

  • Why would I know the enemy Brigade Orders? I might get a general sense of whether they are in column, in line, have deployed skirmishers, etc. But how would I know the intent of the enemy brigade commanders? Maybe for enemy units, the Brigade Order overlay should show ? question marks instead of Hold, March Column, etc. Or maybe the overlay should only show over friendly units, not enemy.

    With all the other uncertainties built into the game system -- a very good thing -- it seems a bit strange that we can see so much of the enemy -- his force makeup, his armaments, his plans, etc. -- through the thick Fog of War.

    Attachment (1)

    < Message edited by berto -- 5/10/2015 1:39:45 AM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 2:12:13 PM   
    berto


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    Why is it that one side can see the other side's echelon colors? (Not to mention also the enemy unit names.)

    Maybe add an Extreme FOW toggle where we can see less of the enemy, all aspects, if we so choose?

    All of these observations and suggestions offered, BTW, as constructive criticism of an otherwise fantastic, innovative game system -- in many ways the ACW grand tactical game of my dreams. Just trying to help make it better.

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 5:08:31 PM   
    Gil R.


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    A toggle button that increases FOW is a very interesting idea. Not sure how easy to implement (since I don't do the programming).

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 5:27:27 PM   
    ericbabe


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    The sorts of things you mention are generally things that either were known by one side about the enemy troops. Starting morale is related to a unit's quality. Commanders had some understanding about the different quality of troops on the other side, whether those troops were veteran units or newly formed militia. Remember that spies were very common in the Civil War -- there were sympathizers abounding on both sides of the war, and the borders were quite porous. It seems to have been more true than not that a commander would know who was commanding which enemy unit and what sorts of weapons those units were using.

    We show brigade orders for enemy units because we reckoned that in most cases brigade orders would represent something that the units were actually doing that would be visible to the enemy: forming into a march column, lining up for an advance, hunkering down into a defensive "hold" position (perhaps lying prone), alternating between firing-and-marching that is part of a brigade's advance order, and so forth. This isn't perfect -- could a commander tell the difference between an assault and a mass charge? I'm not so sure. But I think it's more true than not that a brigades orders would be reflected in the visible operations of the brigade.

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 5:40:14 PM   
    berto


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    Fair enough.

    But observations

  • made by a single Union cavalry scout unit newly arrived at the scene?
  • from a distance of 300+ yards (yes, they had binoculars back then)

    but also

  • with the enemy in trenches
  • through rain?
  • and (potentially) through smoke?
  • (give me enough time and I'm sure I could think of other FOW aspects preventing accurate intelligence of enemy dispositions and intent)

    So how about the Extreme FOW toggle?

    In any case, as you say, the system "isn't perfect". It's really hard implementing "realism", isn't it?

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 7:45:28 PM   
    berto


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    If you implement a new Extreme FOW option, or in any case, please consider these also:

  • In the top-most screen display, show ??? for the enemy Infantry/Cavalry/Guns indicators.
  • During the AI movement phase, don't provide a unit-by-unit account of enemy movement (in the screen-wide thin message bar).

    For one thing, in many situations the commander didn't know in full what he was up against, certainly not with any precision. (Worst case example: Bragg & Polk at Perryville, where they had no idea they were outnumbered by better than 3:1. And it can work both ways, example: McClellan at the Seven Days, where -- despite spies, informers, Alan Pinkerton, etc. -- Little Mac vastly overstated the size of the Confederate force arrayed against him.)

    For another, most of the movement takes place in the grayed out FOW areas of the map, often far to the rear.

    In the AI movement phase, by telling me move by move how many units the enemy has, I get a fair estimate of the size of his force. Only a rough estimate, yes, but maybe more than I really could or should know.

    Or instead of an Extreme FOW toggle, perhaps give less info -- even deliberate misinformation! -- as you ratchet up the Difficulty Level? This will also help to keep human-vs-AI play a competitive challenge.

    < Message edited by berto -- 5/10/2015 8:49:31 PM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 8:19:34 PM   
    berto


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    In the John Tiller ACW games (<shudder> BaB will always be compared and contrasted with those games, won't it?), in the Strength Dialog with FOW set to OFF you can see the enemy strength, with full breakdown. With FOW set to ON, in the Strength Dialog the enemy section is blank.

    Things I dislike about the JT ACW games are the determinism, and the overly powerful commanders. In those games, the player has too much control!

    By contrast, BaB excels at simulating the problems of command & control, chance happenings, and the like. Good stuff!

    Strange, then, that BaB reveals way more than the JT games about the enemy force compositions and movements, with or without FOW set (in the latter).

    < Message edited by berto -- 5/10/2015 10:34:42 PM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 5/10/2015 11:09:42 PM   
    Duck Doc


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    Tough call about how much to let the player know. Good arguments on both sides.

    Is the enemy standing or lying down (Jackson at First Manassas), are there folds in the ground, haze, fog, smoke, etc?

    I would urge an option for extreme FOW with only knowledge of rough size and posture until in immediate contact (maybe.) Agree also that the AI monologue that runs across the screen is superfluous.

    But these are design decisions were are second guessing after the fact and are not fatal flaws.

    Agree most with your description as a 'fantastic, innovative game system.' Had some more time with the game and I continue to be most impressed. I have fallen in love with it. All the meat is included. My kepi is doffed.

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/16/2015 10:41:20 PM   
    berto


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    (I'm using the Beech Grove what-if? attack scenarios to make my mistakes and to learn the game system.)

    Now playing the Beech Grove/South Attacks scenario. As the South, I check my reinforcements, if any, and what do I see? The Northern reinforcements, in full detail -- units, their strength & morale, time & location of entry.

    That's way too much intelligence! I don't at all understand why I should know any of that about the enemy. It's almost as if, apart from the grayed-out areas of the map, there is otherwise no real Fog of War in this game.

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/16/2015 11:29:50 PM   
    e_barkmann


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    Hmm I had read that the Confederates were expecting Militia at Gettysburg. They sure got that wrong :-)

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    RE: Fog of War - 5/19/2015 4:31:18 PM   
    ericbabe


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    We show enemy reinforcements because the scenarios don't have any variable reinforcement rule, so within the game this isn't secret knowledge -- any player who wants to know this can just open up a scenario in hot-seat mode or can learn about the reinforcement schedule from reading the scenario history. I figured that players who don't want to know this information don't have to read it. If we do introduce any sort of reinforcement variation, then of course I'll make reinforcement schedules a secret.

    The reports on which units the AI is moving is entirely a game-design decision. The AI can spend a long time moving units in the bigger scenarios, and it just isn't a good game design to have the screen do nothing for three minutes. So we show the names of the units the AI is moving. This doesn't mean that the unit actually moves, it just means the AI is thinking about a unit. The AI thinks about all its units every turn, so it really doesn't give away any information.


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    RE: Fog of War - 7/25/2015 1:07:33 PM   
    berto


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    Quoting from here:

    quote:

    ORIGINAL: ericbabe

    Thank you for the reply. The intention is to display reinforcements for the other side simply because this is considered to be public knowledge. Some players don't like this, and we have considered turning off this feature, but I've been waiting to see whether we receive more feedback on this.

    I don't understand your hesitation to turn this feature off, or at least make it an option.

    Across the life of the BaB series, think of all the scenarios you will be making. Consider just Chancellorsville (if the series gets that far), and all of its very many scenario possibilities. For each day, for each little side engagement of that complex and confusing battle, how is it "public knowledge" that one side would know, with precision, the time and hex where enemy reinforcements would appear? If there's anything more FOW than that, I don't know what it is.

    "That's what our spies tell us," or "we read about it in the newspapers" just doesn't cut it. In real time, as a battle is developing, how is anybody supposed to know this stuff? Heck, even Lee at Antietam had no idea if and when and where his own guy, Jackson, would show up to save the day. (Although I grant that one side should be able to investigate its own reinforcements. Here too, a bit of uncertainty and FOW would be good also.) Much less know McClellan's reinforcements. I could give countless other examples. But you get my point.

    Or maybe not.

    < Message edited by berto -- 7/25/2015 2:54:01 PM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 7/25/2015 4:23:53 PM   
    Geredis

     

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    quote:

    ORIGINAL: berto


    Quoting from here:

    quote:

    ORIGINAL: ericbabe
    The intention is to display reinforcements for the other side simply because this is considered to be public knowledge. Some players don't like this, and we have considered turning off this feature, but I've been waiting to see whether we receive more feedback on this.

    "That's what our spies tell us," or "we read about it in the newspapers" just doesn't cut it. In real time, as a battle is developing, how is anybody supposed to know this stuff? Heck, even Lee at Antietam had no idea if and when and where his own guy, Jackson, would show up to save the day. (Although I grant that one side should be able to investigate its own reinforcements. Here too, a bit of uncertainty and FOW would be good also.) Much less know McClellan's reinforcements. I could give countless other examples. But you get my point.

    Or maybe not.


    I personally think that there's a certain degree of meta-knowledge that us unavoidable. And by that, I mean that 90% of us that are playing or are interested in this game already know the historical outcomes, units involved, their general locations, etc etc... And frankly, whether or not they are listed in the game's menus or wherever for the player to reference, those of us with the historical knowledge and background do know it.

    And in some ways, that is unfair...no? Short of some sort of randomness on whether reinforcements arrive or not, or some greater control over their arrival time or location, those people with knowledge of the historical arc of the battle are vastly superior to those that don't. And frankly, while I agree with you, Berto, that having this information at hand is immersion-breaking in this context, I think it is necessary as well as a way to even the playing field for those that are knowledgeable and those that are not about the historical context and course of events.

    It's certainly an imperfect solution, but I just don't see much of a better option, short as I said, of creating soem sort of randomness or player-selection in reinforcement timing/location.

    As for the spies/newspaper thing, it may seem like a bit of handwaving or an incomplete answer...but it's also the reality, that while you may not have up-to-the-minute intel coming from those sources, looking at the past several days, or weeks, or even months in some cases of enemy movements as collected by those sources, you can make some pretty accurate estimations and some pretty good educated guesses about the enemy's plans. The page as you see it as a player, I think is simply a way to automate that information sorting process.

    Again, it's not perfect, and I agree that there's a lot they could do with it to make the fog of war better... but there's a certain logic behind it, both from a simulation and pure gameplay perspective.


    < Message edited by Geredis -- 7/25/2015 5:24:46 PM >

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    RE: Fog of War - 7/25/2015 5:58:56 PM   
    berto


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    I could rebut that in detail, but I won't. We agree to disagree.

    What I don't understand is why this is not an option, perhaps a toggle between (ordinary) FOW and a new, widely applied (not just to the reinforcements schedule) Extreme FOW variant.

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    RE: Fog of War - 7/25/2015 9:19:27 PM   
    berto


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    quote:

    ORIGINAL: berto

    I could rebut that in detail, but I won't...

    Um, changed my mind.

    quote:

    ORIGINAL: Geredis

    I personally think that there's a certain degree of meta-knowledge that us unavoidable. And by that, I mean that 90% of us that are playing or are interested in this game already know the historical outcomes, units involved, their general locations, etc etc... And frankly, whether or not they are listed in the game's menus or wherever for the player to reference, those of us with the historical knowledge and background do know it.

    About a year ago, I read a book on the battle of Chancellorsville. A year later, do I remember anything about the reinforcements at, for instance, the (side) battle of Salem Church? No.

    I have read maybe a hundred books on the ACW over the course of my lifetime. Yes, I know and retain details of the general arc of the major battles, but

  • I retain no detailed memory of individual side actions -- what in game terms would be scenarios -- within those major battles.
  • There are dozens of smaller battles -- Mill Springs, Williamsburg, just to name two -- I now have no detailed knowledge of, if I ever did. (I'd heard about Mill Springs & Williamsburg, but that's about it.)

    quote:

    And in some ways, that is unfair...no? Short of some sort of randomness on whether reinforcements arrive or not, or some greater control over their arrival time or location, those people with knowledge of the historical arc of the battle are vastly superior to those that don't. And frankly, while I agree with you, Berto, that having this information at hand is immersion-breaking in this context, I think it is necessary as well as a way to even the playing field for those that are knowledgeable and those that are not about the historical context and course of events.

    You're a PBEM player, I bet. You are speaking in terms of the PBEM player's hope for a "fair fight".

    I play exclusively against the AI. I am not looking for advantages vs. the AI. On the contrary, if anything, I want to be handicapped. Yes, I suppose you could say, "Well Berto, just don't peek." Fair enough. But FOW is violated in so many places in so many ways in this game, I'll be playing the game with gaze constantly averted. But I shouldn't have to. (Like we had to pretend ignorance back in the board war game days.) Just handle FOW properly, at least as I see it (or don't see it ).

    It just strikes me as the oddest thing. In any PC war game I've ever played, at least any game that purports to have FOW, I don't know of any that allows one side to see the other side's reinforcements -- at all, or in such exact detail -- like this one.

    quote:

    It's certainly an imperfect solution, but I just don't see much of a better option, short as I said, of creating soem sort of randomness or player-selection in reinforcement timing/location.

    That would be nice. But I'm not quite asking for that.

    quote:

    As for the spies/newspaper thing, it may seem like a bit of handwaving or an incomplete answer...but it's also the reality, that while you may not have up-to-the-minute intel coming from those sources, looking at the past several days, or weeks, or even months in some cases of enemy movements as collected by those sources, you can make some pretty accurate estimations and some pretty good educated guesses about the enemy's plans. The page as you see it as a player, I think is simply a way to automate that information sorting process.

    Then they could provide the basis for those "estimations" and "educated guesses" in the scenario briefing. But that is not justification for providing -- in real time, to such exactitude -- details about the enemy's reinforcements (and so much else; see earlier posts). Again, consider Chancellorsville, where Hooker's Signal Corps failed miserably in communicating orders from one army wing to another. Hooker was blinded to the disposition and actions of his own forces. How much more so Lee (of the enemy dispositions and movements)?

    I could devote hours to describing here many Real Life instances of ACW FOW, both own-side and other-side. But again, I won't.

    quote:

    Again, it's not perfect, and I agree that there's a lot they could do with it to make the fog of war better... but there's a certain logic behind it, both from a simulation and pure gameplay perspective.

    It beats me. This is the strangest take on FOW I've ever seen in any PC game. Strangest, because apart from some questionable design decisions, in other aspects the game's FOW is ground breakingly innovative. It doesn't add up.

    < Message edited by berto -- 7/25/2015 10:39:19 PM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 7/26/2015 5:46:56 AM   
    BigDuke66


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    @Geredis
    No no no!
    Of course most know in general how a battle ran, especially when not playing it for the first time but nonetheless I doubt the anymore than a single digit number of players know a battle in such detail so that they can say exactly when & where a specific unit shows up.

    If there really is such a player he can be so polite has to warn the other player of his great knowledge and than it's up to the opponent to read up on the battle to catch up with his knowledge, or he doesn't.
    If the players agree to even the battlefield by re-reading the historical engagement it's up to them to do that but denying FoW to all others is a pity and surely nothing to promote the game.
    Personally in all war games I play that depict a historical situation I usually read or re-read up to the battle but I never ever read the battle itself till it's over, it simply spoils the fun.

    < Message edited by BigDuke66 -- 7/26/2015 6:48:26 AM >


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    RE: Fog of War - 7/26/2015 3:49:18 PM   
    Geredis

     

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    quote:

    ORIGINAL: berto
    Um, changed my mind.

    Change your mind all you want! A lively discussion is never a bad thing, Berto.


    quote:


    About a year ago, I read a book on the battle of Chancellorsville. A year later, do I remember anything about the reinforcements at, for instance, the (side) battle of Salem Church? No.

    I have read maybe a hundred books on the ACW over the course of my lifetime. Yes, I know and retain details of the general arc of the major battles, but

  • I retain no detailed memory of individual side actions -- what in game terms would be scenarios -- within those major battles.
  • There are dozens of smaller battles -- Mill Springs, Williamsburg, just to name two -- I now have no detailed knowledge of, if I ever did. (I'd heard about Mill Springs & Williamsburg, but that's about it.)


  • Fair enough. And I'm probably in the same position as you with these smaller and early-war battles. But there are some people out there like that, and while BigDuke my have a point that they are in the minority, I'm not entirely sure they are in the single-digits as he suggests. Certainly not after you add in the players that have played a specific scenario so many times as to know it like the back of their hand, in addition to having the historical familiarity with a scenario as I suggested.

    quote:


    You're a PBEM player, I bet. You are speaking in terms of the PBEM player's hope for a "fair fight".

    I play exclusively against the AI. I am not looking for advantages vs. the AI. On the contrary, if anything, I want to be handicapped. Yes, I suppose you could say, "Well Berto, just don't peek." Fair enough. But FOW is violated in so many places in so many ways in this game, I'll be playing the game with gaze constantly averted. But I shouldn't have to. (Like we had to pretend ignorance back in the board war game days.) Just handle FOW properly, at least as I see it (or don't see it ).

    It just strikes me as the oddest thing. In any PC war game I've ever played, at least any game that purports to have FOW, I don't know of any that allows one side to see the other side's reinforcements -- at all, or in such exact detail -- like this one..


    Actually, I am, like you, exclusively an AI player. That said, I also understand the difficulty in having to create two separate rule-sets, one for vs the AI, the other for PBEM. Now, I think we actually agree, that having this 'extreme' FOW system would be for the best, for everyone involved. Hell, I'd love it if it were available as a toggle system as well, like you suggest.

    That said, I recognize that this game is primarily a PBEM game for a large segment of the player base. And that BaB is a game, first and foremost, and that there has to be a nominally level playing field for both players. Now, perhaps FOW does give too much information, but I'd like to think (and perhaps I am wrong) that they erred on the side of too much info if you have LoS on a target simply for balance's sake in PBEM than because they actually thought that having all this information was a good or realistic idea.

    I think we're actually in agreement that, frankly, this is a pretty terrible and unrealistic FOW system that BAB has in place at the moment. It's just that, disappointed as I may be, I (think) I understand where the developers were coming from in their decisions since this is supposed to be a game.


    quote:


    Then they could provide the basis for those "estimations" and "educated guesses" in the scenario briefing. But that is not justification for providing -- in real time, to such exactitude -- details about the enemy's reinforcements (and so much else; see earlier posts). Again, consider Chancellorsville, where Hooker's Signal Corps failed miserably in communicating orders from one army wing to another. Hooker was blinded to the disposition and actions of his own forces. How much more so Lee (of the enemy dispositions and movements)?

    I could devote hours to describing here many Real Life instances of ACW FOW, both own-side and other-side. But again, I won't.


    Here I think we both agree - it'd be better to simply have estimates. Hell, I'd like that much better too, especially from a SP perspective.

    quote:

    It beats me. This is the strangest take on FOW I've ever seen in any PC game. Strangest, because apart from some questionable design decisions, in other aspects the game's FOW is ground breakingly innovative. It doesn't add up.


    Agreed again, and if they had an extreme FOW option as you want, or modified the existing one to fit this model you suggest, I'd be all aboard with it. As I said, I'd even prefer it to what's already there. It is quite weird, but it is what it is...and I was just trying to maybe help get into the mind of the devs and give insight as to why they did what they did.

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    RE: Fog of War - 7/26/2015 11:26:50 PM   
    Nico165b165


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    One idea about FOW and reinforcement : adding an option "random reinforcement". It would change the turn of arrival for reinforcement by +- a random number of turns. Good for replayability and more historical : real commanders were never sure when exactly would their reinforcements arrive.

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    RE: Fog of War - 7/27/2015 4:42:50 PM   
    ericbabe


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    quote:

    ORIGINAL: berto
    I don't understand your hesitation to turn this feature off, or at least make it an option.


    Your lack of understanding in this case is perfectly reasonable. You don't have access to my work schedule, work list, budget, and other private aspects of our business.

    I understand your point, but you'll understand that we don't yet have games for Antietam and Chancellorsville, so your point is somewhat in the future subjunctive.

    Adding variations to reinforcements is something we'd like to add as a feature in future games, and when we do this, then we'll certainly need to hide the reinforcement schedule. Beyond this, an "extreme FOW" sort of setting is a nice idea for a feature. A lively forum discussion would help convince us that many people would be interested in such a thing.




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    RE: Fog of War - 1/29/2016 12:16:48 AM   
    shoelessbivouac


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    "Things I dislike about the JT ACW games are the determinism, and the overly powerful commanders. In those games, the player has too much control!"

    +2

    Yes, in the main, the 100 Foot General is still alive and well in parts of this niche industry.

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    RE: Fog of War - 1/29/2016 12:29:12 AM   
    shoelessbivouac


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    "... but you'll understand that we don't yet have games for Antietam and Chancellorsville, so your point is somewhat in the future subjunctive."

    I just love the fact that you mentioned both Antietam and Chancellorsville! You just raised our hopes by a multiple of ten.

    As for "Future Subjunctive" ??? ha!

    (I had to look it up to learn - courtesy Wikipedia - that it's a rarely seen or used form in "certain dialects of Spanish and in formal speech." The example given,
    quote:

    Phrases expressing the subjunctive in a future period normally employ the present subjunctive. For example: "I hope that it will rain tomorrow" would simply be "Espero que llueva mañana" (where llueva is the third-person singular present subjunctive of llover, "to rain").


    So, not only do those of us who study / play ACW simulations have the chance to learn a bit here and there about military history, we also get pro bono (publico) Spanish lessons to boot.

    < Message edited by shoelessbivouac -- 1/29/2016 1:31:27 AM >


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    Post #: 21
    RE: Fog of War - 1/29/2016 2:03:56 PM   
    kennonlightfoot

     

    Posts: 615
    Joined: 8/15/2006
    Status: offline
    FOW doesn't need to be extreme, just reasonable. Major improvements can be made to BAB with a minimum of software changes. Just not providing so much information to the player about the other side unless the units are in "physical" contact (adjacent) and even then you shouldn't know as much as we know about the unit. Randomizing the numbers reported for things like strength would also create some FOW.

    Right now there are apparently three FOW types in BAB. You know everything about the enemy unit, you can't even see the enemy unit but you have some idea its out there because of the "X"'s, or you see a "?".

    The "?" type needs to be dropped as now implemented because it is useless. It only occurs due to some command leader failure but since the units the turn before were probably displayed in their normal detail as FOW it just works for people with poor memories.

    I would like to see any unit that isn't in combat range but can be seen displayed as a "?". Maybe selecting the hex would display more detail based on distance and other factors with some randomization of numbers thrown in. This probably wouldn't require a major software change and could be included in an update.

    _____________________________

    Kennon

    (in reply to shoelessbivouac)
    Post #: 22
    Page:   [1]
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