singleplayer experience

Close Combat: Panthers in the Fog is the first new release (not a re-make of a previous games) in years in the critically acclaimed Close Combat series. It details the desperate German counter-attack at Mortain, the last chance of the Wehrmacht to stave off defeat in Normandy. Can you match the tenacity of the American defenders of Hill 314? Or can you succeed where the Panzers failed, driving through to the sea and changing history? Improved 32-bit graphics and the ability to control more squads than ever bring the Close Combat engine to a new level.
Javolenus
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singleplayer experience

Post by Javolenus »

I always play pc game single-player. The CC games are sold as single-player games. But I think they are not good single-player games. And so I feel that I waste my money (these games are not cheap).

I recently tried again PitF. I created a custom campaign. The first engagement saw my US recon force (supported by 2 Stuart light tanks) run into German Panzergrenadiers supported by Panthers. My force was outnumbered and outgunned. I won. I had maybe 2 casualties and lost no vehicles. The enemy (AI) lost both Panthers and many troops. I am not good at this game and so I conclude that the AI is not fit for single-player. It is the same with all CC games I played. I feel robbed of money. I won't buy next game in series -- £150 is enough to spend on a series that does not deliver good play experience.

People will tell me: "What do you expect? You must play multiplayer!" But these games are all marketed as single-player games, so I think I cannot be blamed.
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Kanov
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Kanov »

Sad true.
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SteveMcClaire
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by SteveMcClaire »

I don't know that the games are marketed as Single Player, per se. They are both single and two player games. Also you can increase the challenge level by playing with yourself on the most difficult setting and the AI on the easiest.

Steve
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Javolenus »

Hi Steve & thanks. The Matrix store says "YES" to "AI" in all the specs for the CC series, with frequent references to "improved AI" and also the ingame scenario editor -- if that's not marketing the games as "single-player" then I suggest you clarify the specs!

As for changing the difficulty levels, yes, it is possible to grant the AI full info and constant line of sight etc. That does help in Cross of Iron, which has smaller maps and a more flexible Editor (permitting the player to create his own objectives and deployment zones). But in the later remakes (e.g. PitF) it makes not much difference.

Actually, I played again PitF just now. I created a single-player custom battle. After ten minutes on the huge map, the AI had not shown up. Meanwhile, my column of tanks could not even make it up the road without getting stuck on the scenery or wandering off into adjacent fields. Frustrating, boring, unrealistic and not fun. The game is not fit for purpose re. single-player and if your store was on the high street I would have got my money back by now!

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SteveMcClaire
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by SteveMcClaire »

Sorry, what I was trying to say was that the game is not marketed as single player as the primary way of playing over multi-player. Of course it is meant to be played single-player or multi-player.

There are AI improvements and path finding improvements in virtually every release from Matrix Games. These tend to be tweaks designed to get the most bang for the buck, resource-wise. Creating a whole new AI that can surprise and challenge veteran players of the series is beyond the scope of those improvements.

Thanks,

Steve
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Werewolf13 »

ORIGINAL: Steve McClaire

Sorry, what I was trying to say was that the game is not marketed as single player as the primary way of playing over multi-player. Of course it is meant to be played single-player or multi-player.

There are AI improvements and path finding improvements in virtually every release from Matrix Games. These tend to be tweaks designed to get the most bang for the buck, resource-wise. Creating a whole new AI that can surprise and challenge veteran players of the series is beyond the scope of those improvements.

Thanks,

Steve

Hmmmm...
The use of the word "tweaks" is hardly inline with the marketing hype on the product pages. Part of the reason I purchased PitF was the product page description (good on the marketing guys I guess). I'm not disatisfied with PitF but was surprised that it is not significantly different or improved from earlier versions in game play (graphics are incrementally better).

I don't feel ripped off in the least but one might want to consider toning down the marketing hype as the unrealistic expectations it creates are not really delivered.
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SteveMcClaire
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by SteveMcClaire »

Thanks for your feedback on the marketing information. I'll pass that along.

Steve
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by IslandInland »

I bought the game yesterday as part of a bundle. I played the Hill 314 scenario as the Allies and got a Major Victory without having a clue what I was doing. The Germans (AI) sent two stugs and some panzergrenadiers along the east-west road at the bottom of the map. I stopped them with artillery and mortars. I lost two rifle teams.

For the rest of the scenario nothing happened. I brought up some more troops to replace the ones I'd lost then I noticed the AI wanted a truce and clicked that and got the Major Victory screen. The AI really doesn't seem up to much at all. Thankfully I only paid £5.99 for this game and seven others.

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SteveMcClaire
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by SteveMcClaire »

XXXCorps,

Not every battle is fair, and the Hill 314 battle does favor the Allies. This is based on the historical situation, where the US Army infantry battalion defending that hill held out for days while surrounded by the Germans, with help from a lot of artillery support.

If you play an operation or campaign, it helps to give the battles more context. If you want a more challenging single battle as the Allies, I would suggest the ones where German 2nd Panzer or 2nd SS Panzer are involved.

Steve
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Rosseau »

Anyone who got the bundle got their money's worth.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mickxe5 »

ORIGINAL: XXXCorps

...I played the Hill 314 scenario as the Allies and got a Major Victory without having a clue what I was doing.

The held Victory Locations only scoring system in CC allows you to win Major Victorys even when you get demolished by your opponent or do absolutely nothing at all besides clicking the Begin button. As in many endeavors, success in CC must be measured by your own standards, not the hollow Huzzah! on the Debrief screen.
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Stwa
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Stwa »

Agreed!

There are a handful of things any player can do to create more parity with the AI. It is just that players like to stomp the AI. That is more fun.

1. Play with a system that makes soldiers "hit the dirt" when they take substantial fire. (girly soldiers)

2. Never instruct your teams to fire. Even your mortars. In fact use off-table mortar strikes instead.

3. Allow only one team to be moved at a time. Move in order. Top to bottom left to right, from team monitor during battle.

4. Accept the deployment the systems gives you.

5. Never play with a "run through walls" mod.

6. Impose new victory conditions. If you lose a vehicle, or do not rout (off the map) the enemy AI, then you lose.

7. Never use a ww2 map less than 12x12 or greater than 20x20 deployment tiles.

8. Restrict the number of victory locations from 4-8, depending upon the size of the map.

Most player will not agree, since most players like an arcade game, like RTW or CC5.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mickxe5 »

#4 should be elevated to #1. Redeployment gives the player a huge advantage over the AI which has to use the tactically poor default deployment. This forces it to use more movement to achieve its objectives. In CC the more units move the more likely they will die.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mooxe »

Yeah most players would not agree to using default deploy. Especially when a tank or ATG is deployed behind an impassable hedgerow. Willfully handicapping yourself to hopefully get a more even match against the AI is the absolute worst way to play ANY game. I doubt anyone has ever followed through on these handicapping measures for a full campaign. Its desperation.
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Stwa
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Stwa »

ORIGINAL: mooxe

Yeah most players would not agree to using default deploy. Especially when a tank or ATG is deployed behind an impassable hedgerow. Willfully handicapping yourself to hopefully get a more even match against the AI is the absolute worst way to play ANY game. I doubt anyone has ever followed through on these handicapping measures for a full campaign. Its desperation.

Remember, IT IS single player. It is you and the computer. No one is watching, so if something really weird happens, like a tank gets deployed into a structure, just move it somewhere.

And I really forgot one on movement and one on campaigns: Never plot moves before you hit "Begin". And, never play a campaign game.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mickxe5 »

ORIGINAL: mooxe
Yeah most players would not agree to using default deploy. Especially when a tank or ATG is deployed behind an impassable hedgerow.
The AI suffers from the same inferior default deployment. C'est la guerre.
Willfully handicapping yourself to hopefully get a more even match against the AI is the absolute worst way to play ANY game.
Many competitive contests use handicapping systems. I was taught chess by someone who played with fewer pieces, gaining one every time I won. I'd be interested to read your ideas on the best way to get a more even match against the CC AI.
I doubt anyone has ever followed through on these handicapping measures for a full campaign. Its desperation.
Outside of the occasional foray into forbidden single player territory, I practice what I preach. But youre right, its those desperate losing battles that are the most intense and enjoyable.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mooxe »

The only way I have ever seen the AI perform better is on small maps. Simply because the fight was concentrated. I've always encouraged online play, this was really my only answer to poor AI performance.
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Stwa
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by Stwa »

So, where do I start?

1. This thread is entitled "singleplayer experience". But you say multiplayer is the ONLY way to play CC. And you own an entire website (CCS) where you can tell people that. Instead you say it in this topic, maybe that makes you a multiplayer chauvanist? You want to do multiplayer, there is nothing stopping you.

2. CC has great graphics, and a ton of data that can be interesting to lots of people. And people can play all sorts of ways. Single Player games have one unique advantage over Multiplayer games. You alone decide, the time limit, the speed of play, additional victory conditions, battlegroup compositions, and whether or not YOU ALONE have met those victory conditions. All these things generally cannot be done in a Multiplayer game.

3. You say the AI performs poorly. I say the AI performs way beyond my expectations. And the AI has limited memory, and applies a single intent to its approach to most games. And for some people, just observing the combat can be very satisfactory.

4. You say the AI performs better on smaller maps - "Simply because the fight was concentrated." SIMPLY, there is your bias showing. You mean on a smaller map the AI teams can support other AI teams in width and depth. That is not very simple, it is the root of combat in the western world since antiquity and I doubt there is a object of methods in CC for the AI to plan support for its teams.

5. The campaign game, over time, has had the battle maps expanded to enhance the campaign game, but in so doing, it comes at the expense of the single player experience. It was an issue, the game designers didn't even know was happening.
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mooxe »

3. You say the AI performs poorly. I say the AI performs way beyond my expectations. And the AI has limited memory, and applies a single intent to its approach to most games. And for some people, just observing the combat can be very satisfactory.

I know that your expectations of the AI are basically to just sit there and die. Viewing any of your CCMT debrief screens shows massive one sided victories in your favour, and many of your screenshots show the AI not advancing, like in the videos below. So I believe that your expectations are far below the norm as this poor AI performs "way" beyond your low expectations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjYg4gcvDog

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U42co59Q0b0
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RE: singleplayer experience

Post by mickxe5 »

Smaller maps did play a big role in making CC1 & 2's AI more competitive. As Stwa points out, from CC4 on, maps got bigger to accommodate the entry VL zones. Had the code base been more flexible it would have been nice to include a utility like the feature in Mafi's 5CC that could have sliced off small sections of a map at runtime as an option not to have to battle over the entire map every time. That way you could have a legit 15 unit vs 5 unit attack on a ~100m x 200m map portion, or just a quick squad-sized engagement of small 2-3 man teams. Plus, with the static VL system many areas of the maps never get utilized. Those poor unloved virgin terrain features got painted and coded but never get played.

Had forced acceptance of locked default deployment been a difficulty option, players would have viewed it as a valid play balance function similar to choosing Elite<->Recruit. But given that the existing releases wont see any more development we're left to cobble together mods and homebrew rules to enhance single player mode. Again as Stwa remarks, you alone get to decide what tweaks you want to play with, be it custom VLs to utilze those unplayed nooks and crannys, or zero morale/experience teams of beserkers, fanatics and heroes.
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