From: Cologne, Germany
...it is still hard work trying to find somewhere to put your AT gun to cover the approaches - it's one of the PITAs of the engine at present for me. It is simply too painful to place a unit...I click pretty much everywhere on the map trying to find the best place to stick a unit - whether that be for long range, or a short "ambush" range...it's one of those "micro management" features I think could do with removing imo.
1: any of several fiber-yielding plants (as an agave)
2: the fiber of a pita ; also : any of several fibers from other sources
3: pit(t)a bread -> traditional flat bread in Greece, usually sliced and stuffed with meat (gyros), salad, onions and feta cheese.
So, what's PITA?
Ok seriously now, well there are several solutions regarding LOS and LOF present in games these days:
1) Games like TOW(2) feature 3 functions:
This approach is one of the best solutions for a 3D-game.
- a) If a given enemy unit exits the line of sight, it simply disppears from the map, it becomes invisible,
- b) pushing the FIRE/ATTACK button will draw a line from the selected unit to the mouse pointer, with the line turning red if the view is not obstructed (= clear LOF) and dark red/black if there are obstacles, i.e. buildings or trees,
- c) the user has the same overview as a Bn or Div commander, as all informations/sightings are drawn. But once he selects a given unit, he will just see what this particular unit would see. This can be quite thrilling, as the user might hear an enemy tank approaching some crossroads in a village, but he will not get to see it before it turns around the corner, unless he deselects the unit to go back to the commander's chair/HQ to administer all incoming sightings/messages.
2) Other 3D-games compute LOF/LOS in real time, too: "Men of War" would be a good example here, as its engine computes LOF/LOS across the 3D-environment in real time as well, the devs just decided to do without the actual "LOF-line", in fact they use 3 lights/dots:
Blue would be a clear LOF to a point on the ground, yellow would mark either a clear line to the target OR mark the point of impact on an obstacle where then red would illuminate the target, to tell the user that there is no clear LOF. In such a case, the user would have to adjust the cam and see what part of the terrain would block it and relocate the vehicle/weapon/soldier. Big guns would be able to destroy an obstacle, as like 98% of the environment can be destroyed (maybe except for concrete walls, etc.).
The "illumination" system is actually necessary, as the game allows the user to operate individual soldiers or vehicles himself (filling 3 roles: driver, gunner, MG-gunner), so this system simulates the gun sights in an inventive way, and it incorporates realistic elements, as the user has to wait for the slow moving turret to finish its 180° turn, if he wants to fire at a target behind him, for example.
The game's engine and especially the AI is superior to TOW2's engine, but Men of War is somewhat gamey, hvy weapon ranges are not realistic, small arms fire is less mortal, soldiers can be patched up with bandages .... they balanced stuff to make the game accessible for the masses.
Anyway, in these types of games enemy units are visible all over the map and all through the mission. So, while targeting (and bullet spread) turns out to be very realistic, the intel is not.
3) But even some 2D-games provide one or another feature mentioned above, namely the view of individual units. Once you select them you get their particular LOS and even more important their LOF, where enemy units outside the LOS area may disappear, and enemy units outside the LOF would be shaded/greyed out.
It's obvious that using the LOS area tool in the AA system is cumbersome, making it hard for some people (especially without contour lines) to place units in favorable (defensive) positions, as these users may be forced to switch between LOS tool and LOS area tool multiple times, just to find a good spot.
That said, connecting the LOS area tool to individial units may be a good solution. Once the user would click on a given unit, this particular unit's LOS area would show up, giving the user the opportunity to relocate units to the best firing positions.
This should be made an option like the grid, which can be turned on/off as needed.
EDIT: There are 3 more useful functions or features that would be a good addition to CmdOps:
1) "Target lock".
While many nations employ a method of what I'd call "relative indepency" (means small bodies are allowed to act independently regarding target selection or type of approach - to some degree), officers (CO or NCO) may still force their sections to target a particular enemy unit. With the current engine, there are situations like where a given Inf unit may fire at a laaaarge enemy Arty Rgt nearby, although an assaulting enemy unit may pass on the left side just to charge right into a reorg'ing friendly Bn in the rear, for instance. If i am correct, the threat level would suggest that the friendly inf unit should focus on the (bigger) Arty Rgt, as it may fire at the friendly unit, even though the assaulting enemy unit appears to be the bigger threat: maybe even for the entire sector.
Having the possibility to target and lock individual enemy units would improve the game experience for sure.
Adding a function to have the friendly unit chase a "locked" unit, would be even better.
2) The LOS area function I suggested above could be coupled with the view system from other games, in particular the method to grey out enemy units, to indicate that the selected friendly unit has no clear LOF to that enemy.
While most of the infos (intel - i.e. estimated enemy strength, enemy status - i.e. assaulting, reorg'ing / dug in etc.) in the CmdOps engine are brilliantly put together so that they can be accessed quickly and easily, the presentation of LOS/LOF appears to be somewhat cumbersome, maybe even ancient. IMHO, the threat level indicator could be removed, and replaced with something that I'd call "Direct LOF"-Indicator:
When selecting a given friendly unit all nearby enemy units residing in its LOF should be marked (with a green outline, for example)
3) An improved artillery system.
Currently, artillery pieces like infantry guns have either limited or no indirect fire-capabilities. If I am not mistaken, even German 75mm IGs had a range of up to 2.8 kilometers, enabling them to serve in a short-range arty role. This indirect fire range doesn't seem to be rendered by the engine and the "bombard"-button will be greyed out. On a sidenote, they had AT capabilities, using HEAT rounds.
In turn, currently, German 88mm-Flak units have limited direct fire (AT) capabilities due to the low range, even though official reports confirmed (tank) kills at 1800 meters in Africa, some veteran accounts even claim 2200 meters. Their optical gun sights actually allowed for long-range engagements.
< Message edited by GoodGuy -- 7/15/2009 5:46:51 PM >
General Anthony McAuliffe
December 22nd, 1944
"I've always felt that the AA (Alied Assault engine) had the potential to be [....] big."
8th of August, 2006