Beware! Coder art!

So, Guided Action

The basic premise is: devise a robust set of atoms from the current mass of variables, which tend to indicate selections with a good chance of action and a relatively short time to battle.

Use these atoms to (a) automatically score->rank->sort the lists, so that the top of the list corresponds to the best match for the current policy, (b) identify what information the player is most interested in and better organize the informational screens.

Also, by identifying atoms, we can perhaps better identify information the system needs to gather in order to be able to adequately inform the player WTF IS GOING ON.

Some of you consider this dumbing it down. I never realized that it was expected that all our grunts be generals too. An “instant action” button would be dumbing it down, launching people into the game with absolutely no allusion to the fact that there is a plan other than to kill the other guy.

What I envision, and I’m no artist, is an initial layout with the list down the left side, and the map on the right side, with the highest-rated entry in the list ready selected for you. I rustled this up a long time ago (I borrowed the map background from a WWIIOnline maps site that I can’t refind)

guided.png

The actual layout and content isn’t really what matters – nor am I suggesting there have to be two panels. But, FWIW, the top panel from top-to-bottom is: Town, opposing brigade strengths, either relative people within 4km or recent deaths (its a stick man or a helmet on a gun), relative ownership (bases) and relative ownership (flags overall)

What this (bloody awful) image is supposed to convey is the potential of the “back” and “next” buttons to navigate you through the ordered list rather than requiring you to study a very dry looking list and request additional information about the entries to figure “wtf”.

You’d have the list there on the left, you’d have the option of not showing the info panel(s), you’d have the option of hiding the list.

Personally I’d like a return to a map-centric operation, most of the time the brigade/etc layers are frankly beyond me – I just wanna kill stuff, and the motive the rest of ya’ll have behind taking this town is window dressing. Besides, the experience seems to more closely match up with the descriptions I’ve heard of field assignment and deployment – the grunt was told to go take that hill, maybe he was told “so 6th brigade can sneak past”, but he probably wouldn’t hear the bigger or full picture until afterwards – and that’s often the play experience I get to have.

Another advantage to the guided method is … well, its very hard to learn a foreign language by reading a book, but you can pick up a lot by watching TV.

34 Comments

I like the idea of displaying relative forces – I can also see how it could be (ab)used by the Usual Suspects to complain about fights being unfair! Mind you this being WWIIOL that complaint will occur regardless. :)

BTW if something like this is implemented, can I suggest that the ordered list is global across sides, rather than countries? I really liked the recently introduced ability to join a squaddie by selecting them, then double-clicking on their current mission. Unless they’re playing French and I’m logged in to a Brit persona (or vice versa) – then I have to back out to the persona select screen (click… click… click) and then back to squad (click… click…) to get back to what I was trying to do. Argh. Like being forced to walk endlessly to get from A to B. :)

Okay, slightly tongue in cheek, but I’m sure you see what I’m getting at. :)

This is the wrong direction to be taking the game. The map is going to become less relevant, not more relevant.

Yeah, if I were to give it about 30 seconds of thought or less, I’d come to the same conclusion too, rd.

“The map” as a whole less important? Yes. But map as an information and context presentation mechanism, ever more important. We need to make more information available, and a map view provides the best, most natural, most logical method for doing it.

Well in all fairness, how “important” is the map now? Unless you’re a strategic type looking at where units can go after an AO (offensively or defensively), it doesn’t really matter what town you’re in. If you’re looking for what this is in the first place, all you care about is which town has the flashing border. Excepting the extremely vague indicator given through EWS, that’s also the only indication of what’s going on for the guys who’ve spawned in.
If you don’t plan beyond the next battle, the map will never be important, and if you’re looking for a guide to where the best fight is, my guess is you’re probably not planning to do much other than spawn in and play the game.

I loved the men with the sticks trying to hurt the other men with sticks.

Anyway, yes, it’s easier to make information arrive to the brain with images (and sounds!) than text.

I looked at that drawing/map – and UNDERSTOOD. As a grunt, its a great idea of what to expect on the battle I’m dropping into.

As a general I liked it – with a few more visual queues its a battle*field* map. The AO info is great. Color in an AB radio table and then radio when AB’s are hot and its even better.

This is sooo exciting. You want any language to be meaningless, and noobs to understand the basics of the map, and veterans to see whether the AB radio icon is colored or not, etc.

DO THIS. I’m a believer, KFS.

Lets introducte a distinction between “the map” and “a map”.

We had the situation where “the map” was marked up in limited fashion and you scrolled around “the map” trying to find a fight. Bad.

Right now you hop between fights by navigating through two levels of text lists. There is some kind of small-map display showing you a little more info. But really you make your choices by “reading” the screen. I understand the opinions of folks like shilling who don’t like it, so: Bad.

I imagine that the “shock troop forces”, the slightly-less-than-casual gamers, not wanting to parse thru reams of data. Yes, like neweggs Guided Search, I imagine they would rather be presented with candidates for fights, in some kind of logical order. Most people is not always the logical best fight; that frequently spawns you into pre-won situations (camps, completed battles, enemy withdrawls).

So the concept is simple. Provide atoms for the components of “what distinguishes a fight” – e.g. “has msp”, “enemy has a slight numerical advantage”, “+ve kill:death ratio”, “target is an AO or DO”, “HC has flagged this as #1 objective” – add a simple system that scores any presented list based on the users current atom-list and sort the list based on those scores.

Now your casual user can “channel hop”, cycling between the fights in order of rating. Chances are they won’t want to at first, they’ll go with the default scorings. The “a map” is then a background for giving them some context as to what they’re entering into, with the display panels as overlays *because* you have something on the list selected. Ramp keeps talking about adding “floating icons” at the map perimeter which show nearby but off-map entities.

So the “a map” can be zoomed in with ‘floating’ edge icons giving you a sense that “this town is surrounded by enemy towns” or “this brigade has 8 supporting brigades”, or whatever. By placing it peripherally, it’s information that you can quickly reference without it neccessarily having to add to the intimidation factor.

More importantly, it drives home “this is not a shoebox”, IMHO.

At the same time, its still “the map” as well as “a map”, so map-grognards can peruse at their leisure. It’s also still tied to the lists we use right now, so those text-freaks of you who think its all about the brigade orbat can still use that.

Last, but not least, if it can be well done, it can reduce the number of interfaces your average player has to deal with. Maybe each of those panels on the mockup should have expander buttons. Perhaps the map system could finally afford to have some of those “layers” Rick talked about early on – for topographical versions, TGPO versions, versions which show supply instead of roads, etc.

I like it, there’s a lot of potential there.

One other thing I’d love to see is a more flexible and explicit “spawn at” option. Right now, a given mission can spawn you at the AB/FB, or at the MSP.

I’d love for a mission to have a default location, but also offer a “spawn at…” list, allowing you to spawn at any facility that is linked to the same spawn pool as the mission. Of course, that gets a little ungainly with the megaCPs like Antwerp. :(

Something like this:

Spawn at:
( ) Mission leader (krenn)
(*) MSP (windhund)
( ) Antwerp-Bergen Op Zoom Depot
( ) Bergen Op Zoom-Antwerp Firebase
( ) Bergen Op Zoom Army Base

etc

Perhaps filter out the non-AB origin depots on offensive missions. If somebody wants to be spawning from an assorted small depot in an origin town, they should be defensive.

I’d love for a mission to have a default location, but also offer a “spawn at…” list, allowing you to spawn at any facility that is linked to the same spawn pool as the mission. Of course, that gets a little ungainly with the megaCPs like Antwerp. :(

But it allows missions to actually be missions instead of places to spawn. More often than not I find myself looking for a place spawning out of the SAB instead of based on who’s leading the mission, what its objective is, etc. Granted it wouldn’t mean too much at this point, but give Mission Leaders some powers so they’re actually leading the mission – powers that make it so instead of “Guy who approves contact reports” they actually lead the mission, can more easily communicate on and off the map, etc – and I think we might actually be able to aim for this Guided Action bit and still have the game go in the right direction (ie, that “Part Of The Whole” thing WWIIOL can sell but BF2 can’t).

THe map matters, as part of this UI because:

1) the terrain type is different depending on where you fight and sometimes people like to consider terrain when they are choosing a mission. This game really does have a geographic richness that you want people to discover and take adavantage of.

2) The map is a subtile reminder that the game does in fact have a strategic layer. It is important for newbs especially to be aware of this, but not be distracted by it.

Now, as to letting people choose their spawn location within a mission, I like it . For tactical reasons an ML may want his troops to be spawning further from the action, or simply because it suits HIS play style. Back in the days when everyone rode into battle in a truck, some leaders always chose VERY long routes for safety or other reasons. This was fine if you KNEW before hand what you were getting into, but often you did not.

I’ll bet quite a few people made their decision to not subscribe to the game while they were driving around the boonies in an opel or beddie.

Krenn’s idea looks like it might work within KFS’ model (which is quite like)

Trout

Ya’ll might want to refer back to my description of a mission system that used companies subdivided into leader-designated activities?

“Ya’ll” been in Tejas too long!

I certainly hope that “The Map” is not becoming less important.

I meant that the map as an information resource will be coming less important. It will be far more important to know what brigade you are in and what the equipment available is than where you are on the map. Of course, that would presume that you are all committed to the premise of TOE’s and everything that goes along with them. Considering your comments about how decisions people made 6 hours ago shouldn’t effect the equipment list of players in the present, (not to mention the constant constant refrain that they could ruin the game but you are going to do them anyway) I’m not so sure about that anymore.

Speaking of TOE’s…
How’s that beta test coming?

Right, rd, but “a map” – embellished somehow, e.g the mockup I drew, would help to provide some of that context. And my point is that I think that information is important enough that we can’t allow “instant action” because too many people will always use “instant action” and so too few people will learn about the context.

I think what I’m saying is exemplified by the layout of the mission screens. I wanted players to have to stop by an actual briefing screen to be aware of what was going on. It mean’t an extra mouse-click to achieve what other people wanted too, and unfortunately web-logic was applied (whereby you have to locate-move-click). I think if it had been done so that the briefing was easily scannable and so that the mouse didn’t have to be moved for you to click past it, it wouldn’t have been over burdensome, and we would see less people spawning in with no clue what they were doing. I didn’t intend for it to eliminate that – I know half the time I would just spawn in anyways, but it would be obvious that the information was there.

Having the mission screen be a picture of the map where teh ML has *drawn* arrows and circled depots and “ping” ability to your mission mates, in addition to the map logic you applied above, would be magical.

Guild Wars used this simple interface (although it erases in

Having the mission screen be a picture of the map where teh ML has *drawn* arrows and circled depots and “ping” ability to your mission mates, in addition to the map logic you applied above, would be magical.

Guild Wars used this simple interface (although it erases in under 5 seconds). I would love to have that here, with the people on my mission suddenly replaced with the arrows and quick-drawn designs of the ML for 5 seconds (in the compass); and then its back to your regular programming.

I bet that’d be an intense coding requirement though.

Giving the OIC or mission leader the ability to draw and type instructions on the map would be a vast improvement. Of course, one would need the ability to turn that view off.

The first thing anyone would draw would be a penis followed by a dozen wizeasses trying to interpret it as an ‘order’.

Alright, how about something more workable. Vectors. Let the OIC and the mission leader place little dots connected with lines. It would be easier to scale with the map zoom level, and if someone wanted to draw a penis, it would at least cost them a bunch of effort.

As opposed to doing it with report icons. (And yes, I’ve seen it, although thankfully only once.)
I think that maybe having “HC Sponsored” missions might help alleviate that, or at least limit it to relatively unpopulated missions (if at all – if missions aren’t tied to spawning locations, then there won’t be as many people taking mission leader, at least without honestly wanting it). Just a little icon that shows that the ML is working with the HC, maybe getting the full range of ML powers (if we ever limit spawning or the like, this is probably the best way to do it), and it’s overall more likely to be a “serious” mission and not some guy who won’t even approve contact reports.

If it’s desirable to indicate whether an ML is “serious”, much better to do so with a past mission success rating than with indirect indications (powers, HC affiliation, etc.) that may be misleading and/or too subtle for noobs.

Of course, that begs the question: what kind of success? What kind of leader is our hypothetical player looking for…someone that will accomplish the mission goal? Someone whose missions have a high kill ratio? Someone that will get him into a firefight ASAP?

Well as far as I’m concerned, someone who’s actually leading the mission. I’ve had one mission where that really happened – the guy was watching, gave orders, split us into two groups, etc. – and I was so inspired by that I joined the HC. Honestly, I think that’s the point WWIIOL needs to sell itself on, because I’ve never had anything even remotely similar in any other game.
You can’t just make up a number to say “Good ML, Bad ML” – it’s something that has to be input by players. I definitely don’t want any sort of voting system – I see nothing but problems with that – so having some sort of HC-Supported list would help A) identify good missions and B) help the HC guide players to where important (and probably fun – important objectives tend to be guarded, after all) missions are. Set something up where you can filter out non-HC supported – probably the default setting to make sure new players get a good first impression – and the game just got a touch more organized and, hopefully, a lot more fun because of it.

ML are afraid to be “wrong”. The system punishes individual actions without rewarding anyone with being “right”. I am always “wrong” and so have no fear of being found out wrong. Mostly, players are relieved to have “a plan”, even if its “any plan”. Rally points are things a veteran player knows and splitting forces and having armor work together and bringing air cover with you (and on channel with you on TS) is something that causes *amazing* results. THE NEW GUI MAP will make that easier for vets who are not afraid to be wrong. The rest is simply human nature.

Go forth and ‘coder art’ KFS.

Pass on the good feelings of good command, VIC.

Neat Stuff!

I am excited that these organizational tools are being discussed and feel that they will reinvigorate the game. I really like the suggestion of a briefing screen. This game is like a chess game in relation to how we use the ordinance and assign duties and these are badly needed.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of this concept but would it be possible to add togglable overlays of topo lines and section grids so that missions could be assigned by grid section or geography? The Navy and Air guys really need the grids if we will eventually be searching for visible supply targets in the air and at sea.

My remark was merely an observation, not a comment. No matter how you do it, the first thing anyone draws will be a penis :) So you just have to live with that :)

The first caveman figures out that certain materials can be used to make drawings, and he draws dirty pictures on the cave wall. Someone figures out that if glass or crystal is shaped in a certain way and you can view objects from afar, and uses it to look at the local bathhouse. Millions of dollars and centuries of scientific development go into allowing man into outer space and the ability to transmit images across thousands of miles, and you can find images on Google Earth of people scrawling dirty words in the ground to look at from outer space.
I think everyone’s used to the idea. Hopefully we’ll get over the novelty quickly enough that by the end of week one, people will tell the ML to quit being an ass. :P

And, at least in a literal sense, the tools are already there – you can draw a “line” using waypoints, coordinates are on map (although you have to draw the grid yourself with said waypoints), etc. It’s just hard to set up that way and somewhat difficult to read at a glance, so no-one really does it; it’s basically the same problem with the UI in general.
Whatever is done though, I’d suggest getting some players in there from the HC and non-HC levels, if only to look at it and give it a nod of approval. There are a lot of things that can be missed from a programmer’s perspective – whoever designed the interface is obviously somewhat comfortable with it, after all – and many players are… well, lazy. Might as well get the whining out of the way up front I say.

KFS’ plan for guided action would certainly allow for an icon to be displayed on missions where the ML was highly rated (some how).

If people were allowed to rate MLs with one, two or three stars, would that be a bad idea? Truely bad MLs (one who dont communicate) would not get any stars, and the most popular leaders would get 3.

Before you say, “the system would just degenerate into a popularity contest”, think for a minute about what it REALLY takes to be popular in the game!

Trout

Eh, it feels… wrong for some reason. You can’t assign someone a number that says how good of a leader they are – it just isn’t that simple. And even if you could, it becomes self-propagating at a certain point – your mission was highly rated so a lot of people spawned into that one instead of the one below it, making it a successful mission (or at least more successful than it would have been with fewer numbers). Also there’s something about the idea of having orders read “Vote Five” or whatever that just really turns me off to the idea.

Really, I think something with HC/OIC-Sponsored missions is a bigger step in the right direction than a “Hands Off” semi-automated one. Beyond the advantage of being able to highlight missions based on target as well as who’s leading, the fact remains that we have the people watching the map and leading the attacks already – why rely on a vastly inferior way of doing it as long as they’re there, just wishing they had some way of doing this as it is?

You counter that by making it relative, vic. What portion of the people on a mission are enjoying it?

>> You can’t assign someone a number that says how good of a leader they are – it just isn’t that simple.

Suppose you ask each player scoring a mission to indicate what kind of gameplay they are/were looking for in the mission they’re scoring, alongside the popularity score they assign to a mission. Or maybe you just ask them that question once every two months, and store it in their Profile.

Then, for instance: Joe Blow is a regular mission leader. His five most recent missions have a 95% combined “great” and “good” rating from players that identify themselves as simulation/realism fans who like realistic tactics and command leadership, and a 12% combined “great” and “good” rating from players that identify themselves as liking quick action and lots of kills. I’m a player that likes quick action and lots of kills.

I’d think that would work.

You counter that by making it relative, vic. What portion of the people on a mission are enjoying it?
Well again, missions with more people can be more fun, especially if there’s some sort of organization in there as well. Suddenly they become self-propagating in that way. Either that or the small missions that were fun because of the attention that the ML could give to the smaller group work their way up the chain, get swamped by a ton of people, and the person doesn’t want to be ML anymore because too many people join (Contact Reports anyone?).
It’s doable, but the ML will have to have controls and restraints in the mission they don’t now (player caps, for example – the ability to limit how many sappers spawn from that MS would definately be nice). Personally I don’t like suggesting things like that because, although I believe they’d definately make the game more fun, I’m afraid of some crusade being called against me for “Limiting fun” or whatever. ;)

His five most recent missions have a 95% combined “great” and “good” rating from players that identify themselves as simulation/realism fans who like realistic tactics and command leadership, and a 12% combined “great” and “good” rating from players that identify themselves as liking quick action and lots of kills.
Well consider that a lot of people complain about the interface being too complicated as it is. Personally I don’t see where that’s coming from – there are far more tabs in WoW and the same number of pre-action menus in Counter-Strike – and, although I like the idea, I think having a “I like this kind of mission” menu won’t help with these complaints much. Then again, I also don’t know what will – like I said, I have no problem with it.

First of all, if you make the survey a little more involved (as Jwilly suggested), then you will filter out people who are not that serious about the rating system (which is a good thing).

Second, you could combine the participant ratings with some hard data that indicates the ML is at least trying to run a decent show. Do they approve contact reports? do they type much in mission chat? do they fill in the text field for mission descrciption? Have they had good ratings from members of OTHER squads?

Having said all that, the “self propagation” you described is not really a bad thing at all. I would LOVE to know if an ML has the potential to draw lots of people into the action because he has run fun missions in the past.

Going back to KFS’ “guided action” idea, imagine a situation where a mission was lacking all the icons that would normally indicate a “good fight”, but where the ML was hightly rated. Lets say also that it is an FB busting mission. As we all know, FB missions can be a blast or a bore, and you generally have no idea which it will be. Personally, I can think of a few “low contact” or “no contact” FB missions that were fun simply because of how the ML ran things.

The ML rating system, as part of a guided action UI, could possibly be THE way to move newbs up the gameplay ladder into more sophisticated and taxing mission types.

Oh I have nothing wrong with the idea of an ML rating system – just one gotten through automatically gathered stats or past voting. Something where people give a thumbs up for this mission – ie, the current one, not past ones – I think would do a lot more to guide players towards the missions where there’s a lot of action than an automatic “Count the contact reports” method (and could also serve as a sort of call for reinforcements, probably denoting a decent fight).
I guess I’m just leaning towards a way for the HC guys to be able to bump a mission to the top of the list right now. This is partially a matter of trying to get people where they’re needed in a planning sense, but also because no matter how much time goes into any system, it’s going to have a bunch of holes in it – it’s just a fact of life. Beyond a really simple “bump this mission” button for people in it, I don’t see why all this effort should be put into finding byzantine algorithms to determine what’s a “Good Mission” when there’s a group of players who can handle that for you already – we don’t do that for OICs, after all, so why do it for missions?

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