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RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:36:22 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


We'll review what has happened during:

Day 2 @ 13:26
Day 2 @ 22:00

It's the end of the battle. As you can see my forces are well spread out and the Germans don't stand a chance of mounting a successful counter-attack.

In fact, the German commander offered to surrender a few hours ago, but since I came to fight, I refused it. (see yellow arrow)


Here is how things looked right before the end:




Here is the final map with no fog of war:




Here are the final numbers:




RDOA players should note that it is now possible to flip back and forth between the final map and the AAR screen. Also, it is now possible to save the AAR so that you can compare results from one game to the next.

(in reply to MarkShot)
Post #: 31
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:38:06 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Any comments on my AAR/tutorial/preview?

---

Perhaps if you ask me nice, I might even tell you about (very briefly) the approach I took as the German commander in this scenario. It almost worked despite Dave hinting that I could have well gotten myself shot by Herr Hitler, himself. Well, I always say if you got to be shot, make sure you go right to the top.

---

Good night folks.

PS: If I don't respond to anyone later this week, it could be that (a) I have no electricity, (b) I have no Internet access, (c) I have no home, or (d) all of the above. A major tropical storm is due to strike my part of the world quite soon. Ah, but, at least, I finished my AAR and I did get my hands on HTTR months before most.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 32
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:39:11 PM   
Tzar007


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From Rolfor:


Hi MarkShot

Many, many many thanks (!) for this great documentation (it is!)
and your work on this!

I read the original (and great) RDOA-manual but after this I had
so many questions, because it is not the same to read, option
by option, or - like I could it do with your AAR - to "show" a
profi "over his shoulder".

I wish I have had this AAR (or better documetation with 70 progress-screenshots and sidesteps in recon and others ...) in the beginning of my AA-Time ...

Thx again and
greetings

Rolfor

* sorry, my english is not the best but I work on this *g*

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Post #: 33
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:39:53 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Rolfor,

Thanks for your kind words. That makes this thread all worth while.

Yes, I know what you mean. For any new community of players like RDOA, they can be divided into three categories:

Cat 1: Players of previous games in the series.

Cat 2: Players of other games in the same genre.

Cat 3: Players new to both the game's conceptual base and specific mechanics.

I fell into Cat 3. I had a long history of air combat, but like to try something different from time to time. As you said although RDOA was well documented for Cat 2 players, there was nothing available to really help Cat 3 players get up to speed. This is often a shame for many fine games, since it results in abandonment by players who would have really embraced the given game if they only had a little more knowledge.

Hopefully, this thread will be of some help to future Cat 3 players of HTTR.

By the way, I understood your English just fine. Thanks.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 34
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:40:46 PM   
Tzar007


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From JeF:


Mark,

A quick question : why did you set so many waypoints at the end of your flanking attacks ?

The attacks following the highway are straight ones, most of the time a single way point to define the FUP.
The flanking ones offer way points to define the route, this is fine and understandable. Then there are half a dozen way points just before the FUP. Why ?

I found the hard way that setting waypoints close to the ennemy might not be a good tactic, as if, by any chance, an ennemy unit sits on it, then the TacAI is stuck and it will not turn around it by iself.

Rolfor: did you check the Drop Zone AAR section ?

JeF.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 35
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:42:31 PM   
Tzar007


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JeF,

There were quite a few screenshots in this thread and you did not specify which. I'll assume that you might have been refering to this one:



My reasons:

(1) As good as the AI is for path finding in RDOA/HTTR, I still prefer not to leave too much to chance.

(2) I'll specify very few waypoints when:

(a) The transit is likely to be fairly obvious and threats are low.

(b) I want the AI to find the fastest route and use it.

(c) Threats are high, but I personally don't have a good idea where they might be. So, I want the AI to respond to them as they are found.

(3) I'll specify some to many waypoints when:

(a) It's a long distance and I don't want the AI to get creative like taking a route that takes it through or near an objective. Even if Intel reports show no enemy contacts at or around an objective, prudence would dictate that an objective and nearby roads are a magnet for the bad guys. However, how is the AI to know? Because it might be a meeting engagement and thus, the enemy may not have had time to reach the objective. Or you might be conducting recon and your goal is to run across the enemy. Or you may suspect that the enemy is there but don't think they are present in sufficient strength to present a problem, but maybe time or positioning is of the essence.

In short, it's hard for the AI to know what is your intel picture (not the one it reports, but what you believe) of the battle and to know what your actual intent is when moving forces in the grand scheme of things.

(b) The engine does not permit changing route directives at different waypoints. So, I might want to do something like say while traveling from A to B avoid the enemy (since engaging them will only remove you from the battle) and while traveling from B to C force your way through (since you are needed where I told you to go and if you encounter resistance, then you still accomplishing something of value). Of course, you can perform multiple order cycles, but this also adds delays.

(c) I am intent on performing recon of a specific route and I don't want the commanded unit to find a better path. It's mission is to reveal the enemy on the ordered path even if that means that it will take horrendous casualties or find that it has no hope of reaching the specified end point.

(d) There are specific cases for which I tend to specify an extreme number of waypoints as in the screenshot above. Two which come to mind are:

Case I: I wanted the attackers to make their way to the area of St. Oedenrode as fast as possible. However, regardless of any intel reports, I strongly suspect a German presence at Ruzingen. Now, I want to FUP North of St. Oedenrode and hopefully unobserved by the Germans. So, I want to get off the road before I hit Runzingen. Using fewer waypoints, I run the risk of the AI plotting a fast route to my FUP that might take me across enemy positions (as I did want speed for 95% of the route, but not here). By using so many waypoints, I am overriding the route finding AI and leaving it no choice but to simply take a direct path between each and therefore implement my desired route.

Case II: Often I may want to set up particular units along a tree line or along the edge of a BUA to cover a road/clearing. I find that generally the AI will loop around the front of the woods or BUA to setup to cover the road/clearing. This fine and good when you are setting up a prepared defense. However, in a hasty defense when the lead is already flying this is somewhat suicidal and results in unnecessary casualities. So, I will specify a detailed route to the position which keeps cover between the unit and likely avenue of enemy approach. Granted I could try setting the route type to SAFEST or COVERED (which I have rarely experimented with), but once again my orders were to the ATG unit something like "get to the woods as fast as possible and then deploy to the tree line while avoiding unnecessary casualties".

---

JeF, I hope that I have answered your question satisfactorily. On the whole, I find the AI path finding in HTTR very good. It saves a lot of time and adds to the high-level feel of the game. For those who have not played RDOA yet, setting waypoints is nothing like what is required in flight sims and tactical combat games like Combat Mission. Often just a faint suggestion of the route you desire is sufficient to have your AI underlings work out the details. Also, you will commonly depend on your AI subordinates to respond to unexpected situations as they develop both in terms of path finding and providing security for the task force while it is in transit.

So, bottom line the AI path finding in HTTR is impressive, but it still doesn't read my mind.

< Message edited by Tzar007 -- 2/15/2004 1:07:01 PM >

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Post #: 36
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:43:28 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


JeF,

One other thing I forgot to mention is that this thread very much reflects personal style of play more than most AARs which have thus been written. It would be kind of hard to avoid that in a tutorial. I had hoped to accomplish two things by exposing my own manner of play:

(a) Help new players who were lost and needed a little guidance to get going.

(b) Raise various discussions (as you have done) as to how to play the game and the richness of interface and options available to the player. (Perhaps, we'll get more of that going when everyone else gets their copy of HTTR. )

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 37
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:45:45 PM   
Tzar007


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From JeF:


quote:

JeF, I hope that I have answered your question satisfactorily. On the whole, I find the AI path finding in HTTR very good.


Thanks for the answer Mark. Yes very informative. I usually take for granted that the AI chooses a better route than me, even, if sometimes, some strange path are choosen. Nothing that can't be resolved by a well choosen waypoint, but you go further. I might need to take a try.

quote:

One other thing I forgot to mention is that this thread very much reflects personal style of play more than most AARs which have thus been written. It would be kind of hard to avoid that in a tutorial.


Indeed. And in fact, it is most interresting this way.

Cheers,

JeF.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 38
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:46:40 PM   
Tzar007


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From Arjuna:


Mark,

Point taken about wanting to steer the final leg north of the treeline. However, I think JeF is correct in that you probably didn't need all six waypoints - I reckon three would have sufficed.

It's intereseting that you raised the issue of setting paramaters for each waypoint. This is doable but would add complexity. We could default to the standard task paramaters but then provide an overide facility for the selected waypoint. In the bulk of time it's not necessary, but I can see that in cases like your example it would be nice.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 39
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:47:27 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Dave,

Well, I am pretty sure that I probably use more waypoints than necessary on quite a few occassions.

For me, this comes with playing with ORDER DELAYS. If for some reason, I per chance specified too few, then:

(1) On a short move, it might be too late to redirect the task force, before they go where they should not.

(2) In any case, some measure of replan will be likely which will introduce new delays.

So, I look at it, if it takes an extra waypoint or two to save lives or keep a force from getting delayed three hours, then that is what it takes. The last thing I want to do is being going frantic at my CP trying to reach Colonel Smith on the radio trying to stop him from taking the road through Deelen when its probably infested with Germans despite whatever the intel weenies say.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 40
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:59:00 PM   
Tzar007


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From petdoc:


Just wanted to chime in to say how well done that AAR/tutorial was done. I own several Matrix games (all of which I love - except starships unlimited) but had NO intention of buying this one. The theater was exciting but the whole continuous time thing scared me. I'm a long time board gamer and I love my hexes and turns! RTS games make me crazy, I hate them. This was originally what I thought this was going to be like, and was the main reason that I didnt buy Red Devils (that and the small scope). Well you've made it very clear that is not the case, and Im now anxiously awaiting this game. Youve sold at least one more copy of this game with this wonderful AAR - probably more I suspect. Thank you.

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Post #: 41
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 5:59:55 PM   
Tzar007


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From Massattack:


Yes, count me in as a new convert to HTTR as a result of this AAR and other posts. I had RDOA gathering dust in the "used" pile, having completely failed to get into it on my first attempts a few months ago. I failed to appreciate exactly what the game had to offer until revisiting this forum to have a closer look at the follow-on game. As a result I reinstalled RDOA, and better educated, I am now really enjoying what it has to offer. I eagerly await HTTR, and wonder if there are others like me who made the mistake of initially writing off RDOA through an inability to adjust to it's different (and innovative) approach.

Regards

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 42
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:09:13 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Thanks for your comments. I am glad that the thread proved useful.

Petdoc,

As you can see from my AAR, you can apply a turn oriented approach to play. Basically, your turns will be of variable length and as opposed to being determined by the game structure, they will be determined by you. This is why I focused on identifying decision points (junctures) in my AAR. It's a very important part of playing the game. The "when" can be just as overwhelming for a new player as the "what" and "why". I think when you superimpose a turn oriented mindset on HTTR in regards to variable length turns, you'll find a game that allows you to optimize your playing style for maximal enjoyment.

Massattack,

I know what you mean about putting very fine games in the "tried it, but not for me" drawer. I think that happens quite a bit with very good quality games when players switch genres or want to try something new. Without a certain background (in similar games and concepts), some games seem very hard to approach. However, you know they must be very good and engaging since they got five star reviews and have very dedicated user communities.

I have been in that situation a few times. Usually the game documentation proves insufficient as it tends to be targeted to those familiar with the genre and basic concepts. Sometimes, you might get a strategy guide to help; but there are very few really good strategy guides out there. Myself, I look for forums. If you are lucky, you can find some good tutorials/player web sites. Otherwise, spending an afternoon scanning threads and bookmarking them can help you to build a pseudo-guide. So, from time to time, I try to write things, myself, and be sensitive to others who purchased a potentially very rewarding game, but don't know where to begin.

I had been playing Combat Mission (my first ground warefare strategy simulation) and was intrigued by RDOA and wanted to try ground warfare on a larger scale; operational. Thus, I pre-ordered RDOA. I had a lot of trouble getting started with RDOA, but I kept at it, since I was impressed by the elegance of the game play and interface, and knew that the problem was my own ignorance of ground warfare concepts. Slowly, a light bulb lit up here and there. Somehow, I went from clueless newbie to beta tester. Go figure!

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 43
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:10:15 PM   
Tzar007


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From Rooster:


...wonderful. I've played and enjoyed the RDOA demo, but largely in a vacuum due to the skimpy documentation. Your tutorial/AAR is just the thing to illuminate the game more fully and I am eager to buy and play HTTR.

Even though you have demonstrated very sound strategic and tactical principles, I would venture that you have a style of play that differs from that of others. It would be great to hear from them about how their approach to this scenario would have differed from yours, even though you were quite succusful. Not strategy necessarily (I'd be suprised if there were any other) but tactical and managerial differences.

Also, how do you think things might have developed if Phase 1 or 2 were disrupted by stronger forces south of Son bridge?

Thanks again for a great read!

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Post #: 44
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:12:41 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Rooster,

Phase I: Prepare Push on Son (1 08:00 - 1 14:00)
Phase II: Take Son (1 14:00 - 1 22:00)
Phase III: Prepare Push on St. Oedenrode (2 06:00 - 2 12:00)
Phase IV: Take St. Oedenrode (2 12:00 - 2 22:00)

Well, the assumption behind the Phase I/Phase II plan was that there would be a larger delaying force South of the canal. Recon was intended to confirm that assumption and if it had, then the first attack would have FUPed North of Eindhoven and attacked up the highway to about 2km from the canal. That would have represented Phase I. The second attack (reinforcements) would have FUPed behind the final position for the first attack and attacked through their lines to take the bridge. That would have represented Phase II.

---

When I played this from the German side, it was clear to me that the entire scenario hinges on Son and the bridge there. It is the best place to stop/hold the Allied advance. Once they cross the canal and break out from the North bank, it is pretty much over for the Germans. The Germans don't have enough strength to defend St. Oedenrode by blocking approaches at a distance and there are too many possible approach routes. Thus, they can only concentrate at St. Oedenrode, but the Allies will be able to mass even more strength for their attack.

So, the canal/bridge is the only terrain feature which the Germans can really use to their advantage. Holding the Allies at Son while making sure that every available arty/heavy flak/nebelwerfer/mortar was in range of Son is the way to go. Turn Son into a kill sac.

So, as the German commander, I immediately pulled back any units South of the canal to Son to set up a defense there. I did that by giving single unit DEFEND commands to each unit South of the canal. Remember that single units travel much faster than larger forces. Thus, they would stay ahead of the Allies and have a chance to deploy on the North bank. It would have been a waste of my limited resources to try to delay them from heading North out of Eindhoven.

---

Now as the German commander, I did something uncoventional at Son. I disregarded my orders (to deny the bridge) and only issued DEFEND orders. I did not want the bridge to get blown. The bridge was the whole reason for the Allies to stay focused on Son and allow themselves to be become fixed in my kill sac. So, it had to be left standing even if I lost control of it. Sometimes, the best path to victory can be to give up ground and retake it later via a counter attack. Thus, the general approach is to first destroy the enemy and second to take the objectives.

So, I had planned to hold Son if I could and, in any case, decimate the Allies in a kill sac. Two additional forces would set up blocking positions along the highway to St. Oedenrode in case the Allies made it out of Son. I guessed that they would first try the highway. By the time they would have made it out of Son under heavy barrage and passed the blocking positions or decided to take an alternate route, they would be out of time. Of course, the real plan was for the two blocking forces to counter-attack and retake Son after the Allies had been devastated there by bombardment.

This plan almost worked. I secured a marginal victory. However, you will note that I acheived a very effective 5:1 kill ratio and also that my counter-attack fell short maybe by two hours from retaking Son. Which would have been a decisive victory and one for Wehrmacht's text books. Oh, well ...

However, Dave said he would have had me shot for disobeying orders.


See screenshots (These screenshots were done with the RDOA terrain tiles as opposed to the new HTTR terrain tiles):





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Post #: 45
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:14:12 PM   
Tzar007


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From JeF:


quote:

It would be great to hear from them about how their approach to this scenario would have differed from yours, even though you were quite succusful. Not strategy necessarily (I'd be suprised if there were any other) but tactical and managerial differences.



You might want to check the AAR section at the Drop Zone. Yackstock produced two great AARs for AA:HTTR, with two different gaming styles. The first one is a small scenario, where he micro-managed his companies. The second one is a 5 days campaign where he only give orders to Bn HQ.

You might come across some other HTTR improvements as well.

Cheers,

JeF.

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Post #: 46
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:15:37 PM   
Tzar007


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From Rooster:


Thanks for indulging me, your response was helpful.

quote:

The bridge was the whole reason for the Allies to stay focused on Son and allow themselves to be become fixed in my kill sac.


Would the AI or another player have tried to repair the bridge using an engineer unit, or would they have moved east or west to alternate crossings?

Jef - I'll be sure to take a look, thanks!

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Post #: 47
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:16:15 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


The Allies did have a bridge building unit, but, in my opinion, they didn't have the time necessary to rebuild the bridge and accomplish their mission.

The problems with the alternate routes across the canal are they are all very round about. They are going to cost time. The loss of time has a triple impact. First, you could run out of it. Second, many scenarios have reinforcements arriving for both sides. If you can maintain a fast tempo, you can greatly reduce the impact that enemy reinforcements may have. Third, every minute that the enemy has that you are not engaging him, he is preparing his positions for your arrival. You want to avoid that if possible. And when you are dealing with a primed bridges, the more prepared the enemy is, the less likely you are going to take the bridge intact. The other routes might have been worth consideration if the goal had been simply to cross the canal and attack further North. However, seizing the Son Bridge was critical to the scenario's success. It's hard to imagine what would have been gained by taking the long route to attack St. Oedenrode and then having to double back to seize Son.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 48
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:17:19 PM   
Tzar007


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From James Taylor:


I to have been added to the growing collection of hex/turned based grognards of yesteryear that are eagerly awaiting the release of HttR, thanks to MarkShot's AAR, great promo. Thanks again MS for the introduction, I'll be posting for veteran help after the game's release, probably end up being a nuisance, bear with me.

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Post #: 49
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:18:10 PM   
Tzar007


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From elmo3:


Mark,

Thanks for a very interesting AAR. This one might get added to my Christmas list now that I've seen it in action.

Question - How did your units that were over 1km from the bridge know that the attempt to blow it failed. That seems pretty far away to know that.

Thanks,
elmo3

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Post #: 50
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:20:22 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


I believe the game gives the player omniscient status when it comes to the diposition of bridges and crossings. So, if it goes from pink to clear on the map then either you unprimed it or the enemy failed to blow it. (If you had actually been clicked on the bridge and watched the primed status thermometer style control, then you would know if you did it or the enemy failed to blow it. Depending on whether it changed gradually or abruptly.) In this case, I am sure that they failed to blow it.

In my games, most of my successful taking of a bridge has been due to the enemy failing to blow it. It's not that hard to do as long as you apply enough arty prep coverage over the area followed up with a strong assault.

---

I am glad you found this post useful. Thanks for letting me know.

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Post #: 51
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:22:06 PM   
Tzar007


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From Beery:


quote:

I believe the game gives the player omniscient status when it comes to the diposition of bridges and crossings.


It's certainly not good to hear that. As the Allied player, I don't think you should know whether any bridges are primed, or whether an attempt to blow a bridge has failed. Heck, you shouldn't know a bridge isn't there until your forces see it, and even if it's still there then they should be unaware about attempts to blow it. Part of the tension is crossing a bridge that might go up at any minute, like in the Nijmegen Crossing scene in A Bridge Too Far. With foreknowledge there's no tension, and if there's no tension, you lose a lot of the fun factor. Not only that, but it gives the human player an advantage that ends up making the job even harder for the AI. In every game system, AI needs all the help it can get. To give the AI what amounts to a disadvantage by including such an unrealistic feature is, in my opinion, ridiculously short-sighted. I mean this is supposed to be a realistic portrayal of a military operation. To remove such considerations from the player/commander's responsibility will create a situation whereby the player need not act realistically in regard to securing bridges. Unlike the real commanders, you'll already know that the bridge is safe, so you don't have to bother searching out nearby enemy engineer units or doing any serious mopping up - you can simply send even your most rare and important troops/vehicles across it right away.

I hate the omniscient player thing, and I really hoped that this game was going to be as realistic as possible in that regard. Hate to see it's crept into even this game (which, in many other aspects, is such a leap forward over other contemporary wargame systems). It's not hard to keep this information from the player. Why, oh why should the player know more than his historical counterparts???

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Post #: 52
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:23:51 PM   
Tzar007


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From MarkShot:


Well, you raise some interesting points about bridges. However, I'll let the designers respond as to what influenced their decisions in regards to this aspect of the game.

In regards to the omniscient thing, well that seems to always be a problem in games which simulate what in reality is many different experiences (each soldier is going to have a different experience even if they happen to be sharing the same foxhole) condensed down into a single experience to be conveyed to the player. The only way to get around that is to simulate the battlefield virtually, but with real people playing each role of every actor. I guess the military attempts to do that in their virtual training exercises, but it doesn't work for the video game market as a whole. So, you have to make some compromises between fog of war and abstraction and capturing the sense of the battle while not holding true to the most minute detail.

I can tell you that when multiple humans take roles (I've played online air combat) things go from the neat ordered world of player focused omniscience to total chaos in about 30 seconds after someone calls "3 O'clock low, tally ho!"

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Post #: 53
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:24:43 PM   
Tzar007


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From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
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From Arjuna:


Beery,

Point taken about trying to keep the information on bridges realistic. However, it's complicated by the victory conditions. Invariably crossings are associated with a victory condition. If we hide the true status of the crossing then the victory meter will not reflect the actual victory status but only your perceived status. Is this what you, as a player, want? We have taken the view that the player wants to know exactly what the actual victory state is at any time.

However, we're open to persuasion. What do others think?

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 54
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:25:59 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From Beery:


quote:

If we hide the true status of the crossing then the victory meter will not reflect the actual victory status but only your perceived status. Is this what you, as a player, want? We have taken the view that the player wants to know exactly what the actual victory state is at any time.


Why tie the victory condition to the actual state of the bridge? Why not tie it to the crossing of the bridge? If the bridge is blown, the Allied player won't get the points, but if the bridge isn't blown, the Allied player should really only get the points if he gets across. In real life, the 'victory' came with the actual crossing of the bridge. A bridge's state - either intact or destroyed, is irrelevant in and of itself. The important thing is crossing the bridge.

Actually, I'm of the opinion that this particular victory condition should be secret until the scenario is over. Letting us know a bridge's actual status in terms of its potential for being blown will tend to make us act ahistorically. Once we know the bridge can't be blown, we may be tempted to ease up, which a real commander on the scene could not afford to do (since there's no way a commander could know about the status of explosives until both sides of a bridge were well and truly secured), and which could lead to very different results than would be generated if the tension was there throughout the scenario.

Of course, the best solution would be to offer the player an optional setting in this regard. Some players may like to know the victory condition status throughout a scenario. Others, like me, would prefer not to know. Optional settings are always the optimal solution for this kind of problem where opinion is likely to be divided.

Alternatively, instead of giving the player a definite set figure for VPs, you could give the player a VP 'range' between the worst case and the best case, given the player's intel. Then the player gets a sense of what he's possibly accomplished without showing the whole story. That would force players to keep up the pressure throughout the scenaro. The actual VP total would appear at the scenario's end. It's a nice compromise, giving information without compromising the integrity of the fog of war elements.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 55
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:27:16 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From Beery:


quote:

...In regards to the omniscient thing, well that seems to always be a problem in games which simulate what in reality is many different experiences (each soldier is going to have a different experience even if they happen to be sharing the same foxhole) condensed down into a single experience to be conveyed to the player.


But in this case we're talking about a very objective thing. A bridge is either blown or it's not. If a bridge is there, any two soldiers, whatever their psychological state, are going to see it as being there (unless they are experiencing a severe break with reality), and if they are ordered to cross it both are going to worry about the possibility of it being wired to blow. However, in terms of the game, no one is going to be worried about that because unlike real life, everyone is going to know for sure if it's likely to be blown or not, and as soon as it's failed to blow, everyone will know that too. This is a totally unrealistic circumstance which actively detracts from the simulation, and which need not exist in terms of the game. While there are aspects of reality that are open to interpretation, this is not one of them. It is a simple problem which computers are well suited to solving. Fog of war is what computers do best, but in this case we have a situation where an unrealistic foreknowledge of a situation is being imposed on the player to the detriment of the simulation. There is literally no argument that can be made for this feature. It is unrealistic, it would be just as hard to program it as to program the lack of information (although given that it's already done, there is the added work to create a patch to undo it), and it actually serves to make the game less exciting. This seems to me to be a no-brainer. Leaving this feature in the game actually makes the game less exciting and less realistic. In this case, realism and playability go hand-in-hand.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 56
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:28:37 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From elmo3:


quote:

Beery,

Point taken about trying to keep the information on bridges realistic. However, it's complicated by the victory conditions. Invariably crossings are associated with a victory condition. If we hide the true status of the crossing then the victory meter will not reflect the actual victory status but only your perceived status. Is this what you, as a player, want? We have taken the view that the player wants to know exactly what the actual victory state is at any time.

However, we're open to persuasion. What do others think?


I originally raised the question about knowing the status of a bridge from afar. After reading a good part of A Bridge Too Far I'm left with the impression that neither side had a good picture of what was going on during most of the battle. So the more fog of war you can reasonably include in the game, the better. If a bridge is intact I don't think the Allies should know whether it is still capable of being blown or not until they have cleared the objective area of German units. Only at that point would they know the true status. Until then that info should be hidden and should not be included in the VP total since you don't know for sure that you have secured that objective. Once secured there would be no further chance for the bridge to be blown even if it were recaptured by the Germans.

As an aside I'd also like to see the victory meter made optional. It gives the player way more information than his counterpart had at the time IMO.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 57
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:29:58 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From MarkShot:


Beery,

Interesting discussion.

---

There are compromises which need to be made for any game. Realism needs to be balanced with game play issues. Since despite any degree of accuracy achieved, the product must also embody the "fun to play" factor.

As a player, I think it is of value to have a sense of how well you are doing prior to the end of the game as opposed to not knowing until it's over. To be totally accurate, in the real world, is the objective outcome of a battle known at the time it concludes or only years later after analysis and research is performed?

Along the omniscient discussion line, there are other HTTR details which one can ponder as well:

(1) The fog of war only applies to the commander's perception of the enemy. In reality, would you know the location, status, and activity of your own units with total clarity and in real time? I don't think so.

(2) The objectives flip state from "achieved" <-> "to lost" and back again without the player always knowing where is the enemy unit within in the control perimeter of the objective. At times, this may key you in to enemy location and movements that you would otherwise have been unaware of.

Those are two that have occurred to me in the past. And I am sure that there are others which could be contemplated as well.

However, I can say my interactions with others who have served in the military and/or studied history leads me to conclude that the game does a good job of conveying the challenges faced by a commander in this scope of combat during that time period. Myself, I would not know.

Regarding the other key element of balance, "the fun factor", that makes it worth owning/playing; I can certainly say that there is no shortage of that in HTTR.

---

More rambling thoughts:

(1) As a computer systems designer, I have always thought one of the most interesting aspects of design is handling tradeoffs and selecting from the huge universe of "what could be" in order to arrive at "what will be". This is no easy job.

(2) As interesting as the above was, it got even more challenging (for my career/business) with the appearance of commercial (consumer and business) Web sites and shift to their development. For the first time in my personal experience, systems designs were no longer being performed for a captive audience of "users". All of a sudden, the users were people who could appear or dissappear forever with a single click.

(3) It is clear to me that game design is a whole new challenge above and beyond my experiences with #2. In some ways I think it may be more akin to movie making. You can have all the right ingredients present and still not have produced a classic. It is very much an act of art and inspiration that is then painted using a canvas of Windows and C++.

I think Panther has produced a note worthy addition to the field of computer games introducing some elements henceforth not previously seen or integrated. I expect that it is destined to become a cult classic (I say "cult" since this category of game only represents a small niche in the total market). Unfortunately, Panther is privately held. So, I cannot buy stock in the company. However, I suppose if I did, then the SEC would slap me (as a beta tester) with an insider trading suit. But, at least, then I could share a cell with Martha Stewart and get served very good cookies.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 58
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:32:13 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From Beery:


quote:

There are compromises which need to be made for any game. Realism needs to be balanced with game play issues. Since despite any degree of accuracy achieved, the product must also embody the "fun to play" factor.


I agree. But in this case, as I said before, gameplay and realism go hand-in-hand. Knowing about the status of the bridge before it's realistically possible to know detracts from the fun factor. If you know you've secured the bridge, the game becomes LESS exciting, not more so.

quote:

As a player, I think it is of value to have a sense of how well you are doing prior to the end of the game as opposed to not knowing until it's over. To be totally accurate, in the real world, is the objective outcome of a battle known at the time it concludes or only years later after analysis and research is performed?


This is a bridge. Like I said before, it doesn't require years of research to determine that there's a possibility of it being blown. It either has explosives wired to it, or it doesn't. The 'value' in knowing how well you're doing is at a high cost in realism, and is completely unwarranted. It adds to the boredom factor and makes you behave unrealistically. If this game is to hold any fun value, it must create tension. If you are omniscient on any level it takes away from the tension, and thus detracts from the fun. I'm tired of games where I'm able to know everything about the battlefield. Winning is not a challenge in those games - it's just a grind to achieve a foregone conclusion. Where is the fun in micromanaging units to such an extent that was impossible in real life. Such games may be games, but they do not simulate war in any real way, and once you've played them once they have no replay value because they are like a math equation - if you place force A against the opponent's force B, force A will win every time because there is no variance - it comes down to a simple subtraction sum. War simply isn't like that..

quote:

(1) The fog of war only applies to the commander's perception of the enemy. In reality, would you know the location, status, and activity of your own units with total clarity and in real time? I don't think so.


I agree, but that is not an argument against fog of war. In fact it's an argument for enhanced fog of war that affects your troops too. A unit's position should have a variance too - it should not always be precisely where the commander thinks it is. This can be programmed fairly simply by use of a simple randomizer for a unit's actual placement, or it can be more complex.

quote:

(2) The objectives flip state from "achieved" <-> "to lost" and back again without the player always knowing where is the enemy unit within in the control perimeter of the objective. At times, this may key you in to enemy location and movements that you would otherwise have been unaware of.


Again, I agree. That's why I think VPs should only be known after the action is completed. You should know what your objectives are, and you can have a reasonable assessment of your progress, but no commander should be fully aware of how he's doing until after the battle. That's realitry, and there's no reason not to simulate it - like I say, it adds to the fun.

quote:

However, I can say my interactions with others who have served in the military and/or studied history leads me to conclude that the game does a good job of conveying the challenges faced by a commander in this scope of combat during that time period.


Certainly that's true comparatively speaking. But what have we to compare it to? Mostly all we have are hex games where fog of war is very limited, and which do not give a good representation of combat because they allow a ridiculous amount of micromanagement. The game does a good job, but if it can be improved we should work to improve it so that it does an excellent job.

quote:

Regarding the other key element of balance, "the fun factor", that makes it worth owning/playing; I can certainly say that there is no shortage of that in HTTR.


Again, I agree. But again that's no reason not to improve the level of tension, fun, and challenge of the game system. If you want full knowledge, you should certainly be able to have it. But there should be an option not to have it for those of us who want the extra challenge of enhanced fog of war.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 59
RE: Tutorial Thread - 2/15/2004 6:33:03 PM   
Tzar007


Posts: 766
Joined: 2/7/2004
From: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Status: offline
From Beery:


One thing I can guarantee. Given the option between knowing the VP score at every moment, and not knowing until the battle is over, the vast majority of players who play the game enough to get good at it will opt not to know. It adds to the challenge. No player I know of plays always on an 'easy' realism setting. Gamers play to be challenged, and anything that can give the player a more realistic challenge will give them a feeling of accomplishment, and a better insight into the problems of command on a real battlefield. As I understand it, that is what the developers are hoping to achieve with this game.

(in reply to Tzar007)
Post #: 60
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