Thank you Artillerist!
There are several key issues to address with FOs (for simplicity sake, I will use this generic term for FISTERs, JFOs, COPs etc.). Personally, I wouldn't have even bothered with them if they were not necessary for implementing laser-guided precision weapons. Artillery with accurately modeled capabilities and available at the whim of what can be a company commander (player) will totally dominate the game-play at that force level, and that is why current, fairly simple and effective model, was not criticized much. Ditto for FACs, if you want to play at coordinating stuff like airstrikes, you really need a game at a higher echelon than AB.
First issue is the necessity to have a very flexible system that can cover a wide number of factions and doctrines, over a very wide time spanning from WW2 to present. Some games of similar scale create ad-hoc systems that are very detailed but applicable to 2-3 factions per game.
Second issue is AI. Here most of the games resort to AI-scripting for each scenario, or feature FOs that are effectively usable only by the player. The former is not implemented in AB as of date, the latter is strongly against our design philosophy.
Third issue might be the engine itself. 30x30m squares might not be well suited for fine techniques like FOs team crawling, siting in tree-tops, behind ridges, hull-down positions etc.
As FOs by nature tend to always stay or be in close contact with leadership, the simplest solution could be to keep the current artillery spotting system and to assign a predefined number of laser designator system (varying according to faction, force size or artillery formation) to HQs. Those could also serve as accurate rangefinders, eliminating fire-adjustment delays if we opt to implement more variety in that area. I should note that we are working on OOB re-work that will include layered command network so there will be more integrated HQ units on map.
If the FOs/COPs were always deployed as in manner similar to attached picture, that would have rendered things easy. However, it can positioned elsewhere in the company area to optimize its lasing/spotting and communications capability, or can be detached as for example COLT in US army or observation post.
Arguably, we can go for above mentioned abstracted and slightly unrealistic approach where special equipment like an M981 or a MT-LBu ACRV (or infantry forward observer team) is attached to company or above HQ and given the capability to place TRPs anywhere in LOS at game time (however, I would arbitrarily limit it to just 1 or 2 active TRP at the same time, to prevent player spamming the whole map with TRP and annulling doctrinal limitations; plus there will be era/faction dependent delay between order and TRP appearance). And of course, laser designator which will allow for point attacks with PGM.
That way we can make things much easier by not having to implement a highly complex special AI positional algorithms for independent FOs and other AI behaviors that goes with that (and are not guaranteed to make a smart AI). And the players might get some additional tools to play with if they wish so (he can create a separate HQ artificially acting as an observation post, for example).
< Message edited by nikolas93TS -- 6/5/2020 1:14:56 AM >
Armored Brigade Database Specialist