Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Tim S, 24 Feb 2009.
I think you are underestimating how decisive maneuver (both spatial and temporal) can be in deciding or changing an engagement. Certainly some battles have been won on the drawing board, wars not so much.... and have you never heard of the reverse slope???!
Tactics are everything in combat... your level of equipment simply dictates which tactics you deploy. Having said that your idea sounds good, it's mirroring the current trend in accesability/simplification (AKA the THQ Effect) and would make a welcome change from a tried and tested format.
My only concern would be selling a game in which effectively you're turning battles into a roll of the dice, doesn't that adversely affect the illusion of control which involves the player?
Sounds to me like you're designing a space war version of the original Championship Manager games (the ones back before they allowed you to control individual players during the matches), where you do the advanced battle plan stuff, then click "play match" and watch it unfold rather than start a battle then control individual units.
This, I feel, is a MUCH better premise than the football versions! I agree completely with you - battles are fought and won by the strategic minds of the command centre and the "my gun is bigger than yours" approach.
I like your idea, keep developing it!
Unless you are simply throwing equally matched, identical units at each other on a static battlefield, then it's almost never "out of your hands".
I'll borrow a Supreme Commander situation. Yes one could simply march your (identical) army against theirs and let rolls of the dice dictate the winner. But for example if both armies are using equal numbers of T3 portable shield emitters, if I tell my forces to target those first I would always win. Otherwise after their shields collapse, the unit sits around and recharges its shield array. My point is none of the on-battlefield units don't have the insight they should destroy those sheild platforms once the shield is collapsed... it all comes down to tactics. Or I could shuffle my shield platforms around so they overlap and protect each other so every shield platform gives the others time to recharge while they are "down". If I micro-mange my forces I can play to the strengths of those forces to always win those battles, even though the other player's forces would be identical to mine.
Sure, that could be seen as a failing of the battlefield and/or unit AI's. But not every tactic can be pre-programmed (or is already learned) by commanders. Their depth of strategy and specific choice of tactics employed will often carry the day.
I could also use the terrain and other elements to my advantage, there are plenty of ways to attack forces with identically matched armies to one's advantage. Back to your example of Napoleon and Waterloo, that was why he lost. If I remember correctly specific commanders saw the opportunity afforded by attacking immediately and not allowing Napoleon a reprieve and to regroup, and that tactic paid off. Some of them wished to hold back, and had they done so Napoleon would of had time to set up his forces in advance for that last battle. Or at least that's what I remember, it has been awhile since my last history class!
In a strategy game it isn't always best to go for the tech 3 upgrades, or for more powerful or better ranging units. The other side can just use higher numbers of lower tech forces and hit you sooner as they are quicker to build. Or one fallback that usually works, why fight at all.
By that I mean throw up some base defenses, ignore their armada completely, and simply use your weaker forces to hit their means of production. Once you can produce more ships than they can, you've already won. Their space armada can either kill itself at the front door of your base or just sit around idle while you build up another wave. Often building that heavy cavalry or better ranging artillery just gives the opponent more time to attack first.
I will say your Gratuitous Space Battles concept reminds me strongly of Star Trek Armada and ST Armada II. Both of those were sweet PC games. Oye, I guess I rambled a bit on this one...
I love the Total War series, but I must share some feelings with the campaigns.
I've been for so long trying to play all my campaign's battles, but I just can't stand the horse archers. They run away. Where's the fun in putting your horses to catch their horses that never stop running?
Foot archers are a pain as well, and cavalry isn't really that abundant anyway. But in this case, archers are actually FASTER than your chasing infantry! Yay! :\
That's why I put all battles to auto.. Even though I have tons of fun in custom battles (obviously archer-free).
I had similar feelings when I played Warbirds (WW2 online flight sim). We would always put our plane's strengths to use, and that's what made the good pilots. But only to a limit! The true aces would know how to escape situations where their weaknesses were vulnerable, giving opponents great duels. Those who stuck to their strengths at all times could turn into cowards, always turning, always climbing or, like the horse archers, always running.
Where's the fun in that?
I'm getting confused... Maybe I just like watching the infantry slaughter themselves? CHARGE, YOU HUMAN FODDER!! Ermmm.. Am I a psycho?
Can't wait for E:TW! Cheers!
you are not a psycho until you play dwarf fortress. I'd say something about how in df the combat is about equipping your troops and stationing them strategically, while having zero control over what they actually do, but alas, the combat is still being worked on. hopefully the next release will get it sorted out. until then i will be satisfied with my completely overpowered hammer dwarfs sending goblin bits and entrails all over the castle walls.
incidentally, if you have never actually played df, you should. there are a lot of really good ideas in that game just waiting to be polished up. warning tho, it's an ascii game that will bring your ubercomp to its knees.
Micromanagement in most games is necessary because the AI is so.....stupid.
You need to decide where your left wing goes, not what target gunner #257 chooses.
...and 90% of Hitlers army beeing (routed) in russia at the time might have helped
Well that is a fair point the author makes. From all the documentaries I've watched, they indicated if Hitler hadn't required his commanders to personally get approval from him before they could deploy their Tiger reserve amor, the Normandy landings could've been pushed back to the beaches or according to them most likely completely rebuffed. The staff wouldn't wake Hitler and when he eventually finally rose from one of his stupors a day or more later and gave the orders, it was to late to stop the invasion. I know it's a wiki, but it's exactly as the documentaries stated: Link
Let's not forget the fact that the Wermacht had absolutely no Luftwaffe support that day. Since the Luftwaffe presence in Normandy at the time consisted of about 2 planes.
Two counter examples:
#1 Alexander's battle against the Persians
#2 War game before the first Gulf war I think where attacks by small speed boats on the mighty war vessels of the approachin U.S. fleet were so successful that in the war game the fleet had to retreat.
You should read *a lot more* before trying the judge the value of tactics again.
The thing that's missing here is the psychological effects of battle. Sure you could win with more superior weapons, but if the other team knows that they got their buddies to help out, they're probably just going to overwhelm you and surround that "uber" unit.
expensive persian war-elephants and dirt-cheap pikeman in AoE anyone?
I'm going to use the Supcom example again but in a different context. Remember those bombing runs? 50 normal bombers and about 5 tech III bombers simply to confuse the flac cannons. Individual units seem very dumb at the moment and I don't see why. In terms of processing, power AI is cheap compared to graphics and 3D objects.
So I guess what I'm saying is that I really should be able to leave my Paladins or whatever and go and do something else and not expect them to have charged right into the enemy base.
i still don't get the calvary thing. and joe's reply just scared me
Yeah, most game AI's are dumb because game devs don't spend any time on them. It just has to be "good enough". I think the SupCom Sorian AI mod is a great example of what a little serious work could achieve, that AI mod found some pretty amusing or devious ways to kill me and fixed quite a few of the basic AI bugs. It's still got many of the underlying game AI flaws, but it's a completely different game. And the Sorian AI doesn't need to cheat the game mechanics to do so.
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