Why I play something else…

Every now and again I find myself chatting to someone who asks if I like my own game and, when I reply that I do, asks “but not as much as this? :)”.

I do spend quite a lot of time in our game still (I’m trying to put together fraps footage of an FB battle I was watching the other night). But the longer I’ve worked on WWII Online/Battleground Europe, the more time I’ve spent looking at our virtual world as a virtual world. As Thunder used to say, you get into the habbit of stopping to look at things.

I’m not tired of WWII Online; but to enjoy it I have to play something else too, something to put me back in the frame of mind of a gamer. I’m sure it drives some of you nuts to see me post so often about EQ2.

I don’t know if other MMO devs experience the same thing – or if its a factor of our game being exclusively PvP.

72 Comments

Honestly, I don’t know if I could imagine it being any other way for any sort of thing where you know what’s going on in the background: although sometimes you can step back and separate yourself from knowing all that stuff and just enjoy, sometimes having that running through your head ruins your ability to just sit back and experience it. I know I’ve had times where I couldn’t listen to music and enjoy it just because I was thinking too much about it (I’m a musician), and I’m guessing this is the same thing.

It’s observably been the case since the earliest days that the customer base includes:

1. Individuals who perceive themselves as *gamers* and regard WWIIOL as one of many interesting *games*.

2. Individuals who are specifically interested in online commercial access to a realistic military *simulation*, and often don’t have any interest in other *games*.

I’m guessing that this dichotomy has affected marketing and design decisions.

unfortunately kfs1 falls in to cat 1. luckily killer and dock fall into cat 2.

Otherwise we would have ended up with something like “per battle balancing mechanisms.”

Very few MMO devs play their own games regularly. It’s as simple as this: do you want to spend your free time doing what you do at work?

I can only conclude that NH uses his opinions to derive facts. So lets set the record straight on your little bit of bile.

Killer particularly, and Doc because of Killer, are the cheerleaders of balance. Once they converted Gophur with the promise of continued employment, I’m just the implementor.

I am on record as saying that any balancing solution we try to implement will always be too much and not enough at the same time unless we got down to micro-balancing battles like shoe box games do intrinsically.

If that mode of conveyance is advocacy, I’m pretty sure you’ve said “over my dead body” at least once…

I sometimes wonder how improved this blog would be if it refused connections from the Nepalese netblock….

The two categories I proposed are just for analysis…I’d bet that 80% of the customers are not purely one or the other, but a mix. Thus the product benefits by being both.

And, from the perspective of someone that’s mostly in the simulation group, clearly it strengthens the game’s development capabilities to have developers that lean both ways. Obviously the numbers show that the product has to be a game to exist commercially, and its simulation character adds customers, uniqueness and flavor.

All right, I am really honestly torn as to whether to apologise or argue. So let me start by saying I’m sorry for posting stupid bitter comments.

That being said, this is a quote of yours from a couple days ago:

“I have to say, if I were starting WWIIOL from scratch, I would want to do some kind of “instancing” to allow per-fight balancing. That’s not possible right now because we can’t control how much either side can bring to a fight – e.g. by spawning there and driving here.”

I am actually for Balancing in general, But “Per-fight balacning” is a complete bastardisation of everything the game stands for and is the opposite direction I have been led to believe the game is going. Thats why I’m bitter (that and TOE being 4 years late). Thats why I posted that. I understand this is your job so it’s a little bit more personal than a random internet flamefest so I’m sorry for being a jerk about it.

“…’Per-fight balancing’ is a complete bastardisation of everything the game stands for and is the opposite direction I have been led to believe the game is going.”

One of the problems with community involvement in discussions about game development is that there seem to be as many versions of “what the game stands for and where it’s going” as there are discussion-participants.

At least the dead bodies are persistent in the game world.

I thought the point of war was to create imbalances on the localized battle field.

This game just happens to be where all of our selective realities intersect. How much of our individual bubbles overlap each other and the game are purely coincidental.

Getting back to your point of the post…I find myself in the same type of situation. It’s hard for me to play WWIIOL on a regular basis as I work on it every day. I need something different to keep my interest alive in game dev.

It is called “professional deformation”. Everytime I see a draw/picture, I want to press ctrl+L or ctrl+b to adjust its colors :) (I’m photographer, and work all day with PhotoShop)

I’d be worried if the devs didn’t play other games. Particularly I want them playing “whatever other MMO I happen to be playing at the moment” so that they can observe and plunder be inspired by all the cool features (particularly features A, B, & C) that I think “Other MMO” has.

Even as a Gamer I cannot play only One game at a time. Too easy to get burnt out on that one game. I suspect the same is much more true for a Developer. To work on one game all week long and then only play that same game for entertainment…”O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; No more of that.”

And to join in on the Hijacking Fun. War, as Breed, already pointed out, is about creating Imbalances. Back in the day, the means by which this was accomplished was massing of men and equipment and launching them with the hope of capturing a specific target…not on the frontlines but miles behind the enemy’s frontline…in an attempt to envelope a concentration of enemy troops. The enemy under attack had three basic options: Fallback to keep its troops from being surrounded; move up reinforcement to dig in and defend in order to blunt the attack and keep it from achieving its objective; or counterattack in the hopes of cutting off the attack thrust and do to the attacker what the attacker hopes to do to the defender. The defender could try one or combine two or all three of these basic options to varying degrees in order to deal with the Attack.

Unfortunately in WWIIOL, this is not the case. What we’re stuck with is a whole bunch of skirmishes, with AOs being bounced around the map and an attack being launched from any given point at any given time. The way AOs are being used these days amounts to nothing more than HC/Rat sanctioned Teleportengruppens…and does NOT represent the way WWII was fought at all. Hopefully with the advent of TOEs, we’ll see soon see AOs being replaced with or at least restricted by something much more long-term that doesn’t require HC members to always be on baby-sitting every AO and micro-managing the movement of every single Brigade.

The comment you quoted, rd, contains its own context in the predicate that begins it.

Yes, war is about creating imbalances, but thats where supply and attrition come in. If the dealer let one player draw from an extra deck of cards, how many hands of poker would you be willing to chip a $20 ante into? What if he allowed him to take just the top 4 cards?

The game is localized forces, versus battlefront management – into a STATIC world, with the building of new cities taking too long.

Allow us to build new roads and connections to nearby towns (Read the opening chapters of “Farewell to Arms” by Hemingway). These new connections would change the Static Battlefront into a slow dyanamic and changing map. I bet its a coder nightmare (like FB’s are).

But the map gridlocks in the same locations, based upon current game mechanics.

Developers play the game and play other games. They are close to the code and the game. I *just* have played this game. (Civ IV when the interweb was down only twice). I can feel when the game seems to be playing in the same towns with different names.

Let us build roads (under fire) out in the country, and allow various connections to cause each map to have a different “flow” direction. You don’t have to change supply. Just let me attack a neighboring town, across that forest, that simply doesn’t have a road connection. Maybe just a change to the AO/Brigade system and leave supply alone?

But we need Strategic imbalance *and* local imbalance. And changing pivot points on the map. Since rivers need bridges, the river lines remain the defensive bulwarks they are.

Summary: You can keep localized balance if you allow Strategic Imbalance. You can allow Strategic Balance and allow local imbalance. But you *cannot* have Super-Balance, unchanging map, towns that are similar, battles that resolve nothing…and have a long-term game.

I may have just said, “…too much and not enough…” in many more words. :)

We don’t have local balance, we have strategic balance. Even the current balance timers only reinforce that because it doesn’t have separate ArFR and BEF counters. Unfortunately the ArFR have unwieldy names and a lot more of them, so the BEF is generally more popular – all the die-hard grognards get to play French and whine about how small their elitist little clique is. (Apologies to the rest of the ArFR who are hard-working devils who would pwn the entire map every campaign if more Allies played French even if the overall numbers favored the Axis)

Town and map construction is a stray variable that I deny entry to this particular discussion. I think player and equipment balance is quite enough juggling for this topic.

:) stray variable indeed.

As was said earlier, The problem is that the local imbalances can happen anywhere at any time. One of the main points of TOES as outlined be killer 4 years ago is to stop all of the teleporting around the map. We need the local imbalances and the equipment to mean something other than who was able to tell enough people to show up. They should be a reflection of the long term strategic situation. When this happens, the maps will swing dramatically and this will have less to do with what numbers there are, and more to do with the decisions that the high command makes. Which is how it should be.

But it seems like every time you make a statement, I lose confidence that this is the system you are building. It feels like you are far more interested in whether the bf1942 kiddies will take their ball and go home, than you are in creating a reasonable representation of a supply line. Never mind though, it’s to late to influence the design document. TOE’s are ready to go strait into beta. You just have to get the compiler to build right(Right?).

I can’t wait to eat my words.

“whether the bf1942 kiddies will take their ball and go home”

I’ve no idea what that means.

Sorry, rd, but I’m putting you on ignore due to your inability to understand the use of conditionals in the English language. I would like to refer you to the official forums, where you are less likely to experience development team members discussing what they’d do if they were doing another game – hopefully that will avoid confusion for ya.

“One of the main points of TOES as outlined be killer 4 years ago is to stop all of the teleporting around the map. ”

Did Killer really say this? I dont remember.

There are no new planned features that I’m aware of (including ToEs) that will make it appealing for most people to stick it out in one map area for a full game session. The notion that people SHOULD be encouraged to play with one team in one area has been a destructive and limiting one (IMHO). I think it is one of the reasons behind the terrible UI.

WW20 is a game that provides different kinds of entertainment in phase oriented “chunks”. There is:

1)-battle preparation, planning and stockpiling
2)-fb combat
3)-combat on the outskirts of town
4)-CQB in town, building capture, camping
5)-mop up and pause until the process can repeat itself in a new town.

Very few people (not just current subscribers, but potential ones) value each of these phases the same (I only like 2&3), and their natural tendency is to map hop in search of what they want.

CRS has put a lot of work into making all phases more fun, and I think that is a very worthwile goal to pursue. I just dont think that they will ever achieve a state where the average guy is content to fight more than one battle in one map area.

THis is one of the reasons why I think KFS’ idea of a “player guided quick action” UI is very important.

Trout

Trout: I’m fairly sure Killer did say something along those lines. It was certainly said back when we were onboard with the idea of enforced brigade loyalty, although I believe it was ascribed to brigade loyalty and not TOEs.

I believe he’s also said similar about TOEs but in reference to equipment, since TOEs are just persistent spawnlists attached to brigades rather than cities.

Of course, the motivation [and stated motivation at that] behind persuing brigade loyalty was primarily as a form of shoebox balancing mechanism.

I guess if you spend most of your time steeped in (frankly, quite scary) politics its probably kinda easy to miss a simple straight line like that.

I just had an idea…but then again–who doesn’t have an opinion on this? :)

Vehicles are composed of parts, produced at factories. Ball bearings, foundries, munitions, fuel…I’m sure there are others we could include here.

Are there hooks tied into the TOE resupply code so that damage inflicted upon a factory can hinder production of a vehicle and it’s delivery to the front line unit? Imagine…

For instance, the French bomb a German fuel depot, reducing the rate of fuel production and starts to deplete fuel reserves. Once the fuel reserves are depleted, the resupply of both air, sea and ground vehicle units would be delayed until the required level of fuel is produced to send the next queued vehicle to the front. Fuel depots, warehouses, assembly plants–these could all be strategic targets that affect supply based on production capacity.

Once a unit is produced, it is driven in the gameworld by AI to it’s TOE of destination. This AI unit can be interdicted, be it on the road, or on the ocean.

If it makes it to the front line unit, it is placed in the spawn pool with a level of fuel that is a direct reflection of the fuel production/reserves available.

If you bomb one sides fuel system to zero, they deplete their reserves, then they can’t drive and can’t fly and can’t sail until factories/refiners/depots repair and start providing fuel to the front line.

Ah….when I hit the lottery…….

The in game representation of supply has been discussed a lot. It would be very nice, but other items are always more pressing.

It’s nice to hear that kfsone is not holding back on his personal opinions. I follow a similar philosophy on my own blog. What I disagree with is his expectation that his visitors hold back on their own opinions. So, if he wants (which is admittedly unlikely) he can continue to take personal shots at me and the ideology he thinks I have over on my personal site, and I will never place him on ignore. It would only be fair since I did take one to many personal shots at him.

I don’t know what happened in the thread where I “demonised” KFSone because I apparently unsubscribed the day before my billing, as apposed to the day after as was my intention. At any rate, I was quite clearly invited to do it in post 21 above, and it was hardly a demonization, as the two quotes from KFSone that survived moderation are quite relevant to gameplay.

I will continue to check this blog until TOES are released, as it is the only reliable source of information as to their status, and will resubscribe when they are completed, hopefully to be proven wrong in my doubts of their genuine implementation.

I think I just interpreted this quote correctly.

“Yes, war is about creating imbalances, but thats where supply and attrition come in. If the dealer let one player draw from an extra deck of cards, how many hands of poker would you be willing to chip a $20 ante into? What if he allowed him to take just the top 4 cards?”

He’s arguing against the current implementation of balancing. I agree with him here. But it is needed until TOE come in because the supply and attrition as they are now do not begin to counteract the effect of logins.

If the balance of various battles was determined by the equipment that each brigade managed to preserve more than the amount of players logged into each side, then the game would be much closer to the game I wanted to play, and the direction I believed the game was headed. If that is where KFSone wants the game to be, then I stand corrected.

Dude, both equipment and player numbers factor in. It isn’t one or the other, and it never will be. Morale, unlike real war, will cause a player to not log on. In real war, you can’t log off–so player numbers is always going to be a huge issue.

guessing that would be the thread where you asked the barracks to interpret kfs1es personal comments on his blog and then tried to pass off trouts comments as though they were kfs too.

where kfs or a mod replied

IF ( someone asked KFS1 to design a new wwii mmo from scratch )
THEN ( that game would include adaptations of fairness mechanisms that allow some shoebox environments to have fights that have more in common with historic battles than WWIIOL FB->city zergs have )
ELSE ( he would continue implementing the concepts that Killer, Gophur, Doc, etc design and trying to make the best of what we have )

And at this time, we’re living in the latter reality.

Well that’s good, I understood that from the get go, and I don’t know why he thought I didn’t. All I was saying (albeit a bit too rudely) was that IF that’s the case, I’m glad he didn’t design the game.

Now the second comments he made, about how TOE’s were not about stopping teleportation, are far less hypothetical, and I did almost cry when I read them. Perhaps Kfsone’s opinions will have little impact on the actual TOE implementation. I hope so. Otherwise, I really wish I had payed more attention so I could have unsubbed two years ago instead of yesterday.

Easting: I think the issue here is the comparative vs. the superlative, as apposed to conditionals. Your idea does not clash with mine.

that wasnt at all how it came across in your forum posts you seemed to be completely passing over the else part. your suggested translation was something about making it more eq-like. kfs1 seems quite capable of having opinions separate from facts so you have to sometimes think if he is merely stating something or expressing an opinion. I took his statement to be dispationate.

we’ve known since 1.19 they wasnt doing brigade loyalty, so how did you think toes was going to stop teleporting? or maybe your using the term differently than everybody else.

He demonstrates a very variable capacity for assumption making, Darren. To me “everquest-like” means NPCs or dungeons and dragons or hit-bars or health bars or something. On the other hand, I’m assuming by “teleporting” he is using it in the forum sense where it refers to players despawning from Anhee and respawning from a different brigade at Antwerp – which as far as I know, nobody here cares about except for the issue someone described earlier where you can usurp a well executed attack simply by warping in lots of new humans.

And when I talk about instancing, I’m not talking about zones; I’m talking about the potential for two players to see the in-game world differently depending on which battle/instance they are participating in.

To me instancing is about a more meaningful measure of control over the environment and giving some upfront warning about what you’re going in to. People will start the fight knowing if its 2:1 or 1:1 – that doesn’t mean it won’t change, but it won’t change ad-hoc like it does now.

The map itself would still be shared, the locations of the brigades, the equipment attached to the brigades.

What instancing is really about is addressing some of the things our sandbox format prevents us from doing that shoebox games do so well. And, much to my personal amusement, “reactive teleporting” is high up there.

Going back to not playing one’s own game, people forget that this is also a job for the developers.

Many years ago I used to work for Madame Tussauds, the waxworks, in London. People used to ask me what the exhibition was like and what did I think of xxx’s waxwork. Most of the time I’d no idea as to me the exhibition was a place I worked at, not something I went to for fun. I looked at the exhibition to find things that weren’t right. However, when I went to other tourist attractions I was always interested in how they did things and what could we utilise back at MT.

I imagine this must be the same for the people working at CRS. When playing the game, for the developers there must always be the temptation to stop and look at something if it’s not doing what’s expected, it’s their job to do so. But when playing other games they don’t have the same pressure to stop and examine everything. They’re also able to pick up new ideas that could be implemented into BE. If they didn’t, BE would stagnate.

KFS:

“What instancing is really about is addressing some of the things our sandbox format prevents us from doing that shoebox games do so well. And, much to my personal amusement, “reactive teleporting” is high up there.”

Killer once posted about a conversation he had years ago with Jonathan (Blue) Barron (founder of AIrwarrior). They talked about how you would “do” a virtual battlefield. Jonathan thought you woudl need to model the entire front and battlefield, and populate it with AI troops who would fight against each other in a dynamic campaign. Human players would then select a battle, and spawn in at the approriate time and location, in the unit they wanted.

BB was probably influeced by how Falcon 3 & 4 worked, which at the time was incredibly novel. Killer took a diametrically opposite view, hence, we have WW20 which is 95% pure PvP. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line people began to believe that:

-AI is unrealistic, hence too much AI makes the GAME unrealistic
-teleportation is unrealistic and we ought to root people (not just equipment) in place
-preserving the competative nature of this game will lead to greater realism, not less.

My point? I forgot…
Trout

“To me instancing is about a more meaningful measure of control over the environment and giving some upfront warning about what you’re going in to. People will start the fight knowing if its 2:1 or 1:1 – that doesn’t mean it won’t change, but it won’t change ad-hoc like it does now.”

This is another variation on the “suprise” debate. Everyone wants to preserve the ability to suprise the enemy, but they dont appreciate the fact that ANY spawn system is going to give the attacker unrealistic advantages. Also, the quality of gameplay for all participants is very limited when the defender cant get there in time.

In terms of realism, most defenders in WW2 had an opportunity to do recon or post LPs that would give advanced warning of an attack, or they were warned by the initial bombardment, or the sounds of vehciles moving to their front (all things that would be very cool to simulate, btw)

Trout

[quote]Killer once posted about a conversation he had years ago with Jonathan (Blue) Barron (founder of AIrwarrior). They talked about how you would “do” a virtual battlefield. Jonathan thought you woudl need to model the entire front and battlefield, and populate it with AI troops who would fight against each other in a dynamic campaign. Human players would then select a battle, and spawn in at the approriate time and location, in the unit they wanted.[/quote]

Now that would be interesting.

Well in that vein, remember that having none gives an advantage to the defender. Whoever has a lower unadjusted “spawn to target” time in a world where you respawn mid-battle has an inherent advantage through having more people in the battle at once.

Think of it this way: at any given time, the defenders have 25 people in town. If one of them dies, he comes right back – there are always those 25 people fighting.
The attackers are attacking with 50 people. They have a 2/1 advantage – a near-guaranteed victory, right? Well not quite: if it takes them ten minutes to get from their spawn to town, the enemy’s still fighting and killing them. There may be as few as 20 in town at any given time, giving the defender a natural advantage despite being outnumbered 2/1.

Obviously this is oversimplified, but the goal of any spawn system, as I see it at least, should be to make it so both sides have a roughly equal distance between their spawnpoint and their target. Obviously this is unrealistic when you look at an individual soldier’s standpoint, but if you look at a “numbers on the frontline” standpoint it’s what I see as the best way.

That was in response to this, by the way:
“This is another variation on the “suprise” debate. Everyone wants to preserve the ability to suprise the enemy, but they dont appreciate the fact that ANY spawn system is going to give the attacker unrealistic advantages.”

(Stupid no preview quoting system, *grumble*…)

True, but the current system makes for unrealistic trickle attacks. We lack position fighting except around depots and MSP/UMSes.

Certainly in terms of infantry I find that ahistoric and unrealistic.

People didn’t like the group-spawn-delay system we had ages ago because all it meant was 10 guys spawned in to find .. no ride.

An often discussed problem is that of the defender spawning more or less on top of the attackers objective and the solution of something akin to neutral towns.

Our current solutions – including table build timers etc – are to try and disuage the player tendency to want to get there first. Without a declaration of intent (AOs) we get what we had before – probing attacks that lasted as long as it took the attacker to discover a very simplistic upper hand (“defender hasn’t gotten here yet”)

Players still do that, only now the delay simply enforces camps often times – waiting out the timers. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve spawned in to find that there’s no fight, just a camp, because the fight was over some time ago and now we’re just scoring points off people desperate enough to spawn in to the AB we have filled.

To me, it would make sense to change this so that once you occupy the enemy’s spawn area, they can’t spawn from there. Right? Enemy in the AB = spawn at the FB.

But that’s where the lesson of Domino Caps kicks in. The attacker’s optimal route is to have your secondary spawn area pre-occupied before disabling your primary.

It all comes down to open-ended participation in whatever you happen to like. It just doesn’t work because you are forced to play in a more sportsmanlike manner in a game which has structure and rules – i.e a shoebox.

I use the term “instancing” not on a zone level. I use it to describe controlled access to battles. You could have spatially overlapping battles in which players cannot see the guys or EWS from the other battle. Thus the guys fighting for Antwerp spawning at Schilde cannot drive east to attack the defenders at Grobbendonk. They can drive to Grobbendonk but will only see and be able to interact with the battle for Antwerp.

Bloo and I discussed how you might do this somewhat like a board-based wargame, with ownable tiles rather than facilities. The contents of those tiles might affect their desirability – e.g. there may be a hill midway between both forces which has some kind of revetment that you can place mortars or artillery on. You can always prevent either side spawning at the front line based on occupation – you can only spawn at least one square/hex/tile away from the front line – nobody has to or can spawn right on top of the enemy.

You can’t camp, because your presence kills the spawners in your tile and at least one tile away. The open-endedness our game provides isn’t lost, because you don’t have 8 tiles like a shoebox game.

You *can* take a force and drive round the back of the enemy, because the enemy is present and active in the space – guaranteed – the old “you should have been here to defend” is solved.

“An often discussed problem is that of the defender spawning more or less on top of the attackers objective and the solution of something akin to neutral towns.”

There have been occasions in the past when it seemed that the mechanics might evolve toward attacker vs. attacker concepts i.e. both sides spawn simultaneously at a distance from the target. That seems to me to be the antithesis of classic positional defense, i.e. defenders always should occupy and re-spawn either within a continuous, closed line around the capture target (hedgehog defense) or a continuous, directionally oriented line astraddle the access to that target (line defense).

“You can always prevent either side spawning at the front line based on occupation – you can only spawn at least one square/hex/tile away from the front line…”

Any such system of course encourages each side to push a least-possible-density force outward over as much territory as possible in order to prevent enemy spawning. That of course could be partly controlled by density requirements, i.e. benefits/penalties to keep mission groups cohesive/proximate, and by mission-group supply encouragement, i.e. no leader-respawn if out of supply/comms range.

Even with such controls, attackers-arrive-first-to-push-back-defensive-spawning is fundamentally flawed, because the defenders conceptually should be there first. One way is to allow the defending command staff to pre-place well-designed defensive-bunkers/spawnpoints throughout their line, each of which is imperviously defended by AI until initiation of random AI-disappearance timers at event-start.

“You *can* take a force and drive round the back of the enemy…”

This of course is fine if the game chooses to model all defenses as hedgehog rather than line. If line defenses are to be allowed, a means of governing “drive round” is needed so that the attackers have to find a way *through* the human-player-defended terrain. One way might be to create code that auto-builds impervious AI front lines to either side of the intended battleground, with the human defenders responsible for bridging the gap in that AI line.

True, jw, but once you base a system on these premises you can tackle those issues in your design. For instance, because the fight has a greater degree of definition, you can allow both sides to choose initial starting locations – perhaps. You can have instances of defense from within a town and advantages to their holding it, and you can have instances of fighting over a particular town.

You have to change the base premises tho to have the flexibility. And again, by having a concrete start to the defense, the defenders *can* be there from the start rather than having to jump around to try and find where they *should* have been.

Simply stopping players from fight-hopping doesn’t do anything for you – because the potential to gain the upperhand out of combat still exists.

“That seems to me to be the antithesis of classic positional defense, i.e. defenders always should occupy and re-spawn either within a continuous, closed line around the capture target (hedgehog defense) or a continuous, directionally oriented line astraddle the access to that target (line defense).”

Well that’s accurate in terms of each individual soldier, but again, think of it in terms of overall numbers fighting at once: in a twenty versus twenty battle, all twenty defenders are attacking while maybe ten attackers are fighting at the same time.
The ability to respawn throws a wrench in the works of having a “realistic” system, at least in this regard. If you spawn where the fight is and your opponent doesn’t, you add to your manpower and have a significant advantage.

Anyways.
Something I was thinking of while planning things out for possible programming projects to work on was some sort of mockup for a spawning system. Although I dropped the idea for now in favor of other things, I did some thinking that I think could contribute to the discussion some more. :)

First, a (very) crude map:

The gist of the system are that there are three types of supply buildings:
1) Headquarters / Command Posts (CP) (The bulk of the system)
2) Vehicle Spawns
3) Infantry Spawns

Headquarters serve as the source for the supply, while the Command Posts serve as a forward outlet for it. Vehicle spawns are essentially counterparts to the current FBs, while infantry spawns are small outlets for the HQs & Command Posts.

Command Posts are set up by taking a building, having an HC officer / OIC saying “Here’s the Command Post”, and some supply being dedicated to it from the HQ. There’s a minimum amount to create the CP, but after that’s used up it will take supply from the HQ for as long as it has supply (just a chain of “Patrol Posts” that are small infantry spawns).
HQ’s / CPs can be “captured” like a CP in game now, with the radio and a modest timer, at which point they’re simply lost. In the case of an HQ, that also causes the Brigade to be routed. (A quick note: A brigade doesn’t have to be in-town to have a CP in town, even if it’s friendly – it can have CPs in any adjacent town (so attacking from a defending town is possible, but risky since the brigade has to stay vulnerable).)
In attack and defense it’s risky to set CPs up because you lose any unused supply if the building is lost before it’s all used, but at the same time it’s also necessary if you hope to win the town.

On the subject of attacks, I was thinking maybe having it so an attack ends if so many people aren’t on it – maybe 25 people with that as their objective (or X% of the server population for low-pop times). If an AO had a similar requirement for being placed, or even if not, I think that could help with some of this fake AO stuff.
Barring that, I also had a thought that maybe spawning would be disabled until AO/DO placement – once it’s up, both sides have equal time to prepare. Kind of iffy in a way, but definately something that could solve the problem.

Eh, a guy has to have his dreams. :p

Man…. “Domino caps” and “you should have been here to defend” sure brings back the memories.

As demoralizing as it was, it didn’t hold a candle to the feeling you got when you were hunkered down defending the Army Base when someone slipped through do to whatever, and the radio disappeared. The sinking feeling that every one around knew that all was lost, we owned the AB, we owned the surrounding area, and someone snuck in taking it out from under us. Now we were about to be overwhelmed and there was nothing we could do about it. We couldn’t take the AB back, as the radio table wouldn’t appear for several minutes. Several minutes the enemy had of uninterrupted spawning to clean out the massive defense we had setup. Several minutes to pour out the Armor, AT guns, and Infantry cleaning out the town of everything left.

The Domino caps just amplified that jilted feeling…..God I hated that cursed, god forsaken Radio table.

Well, the point JW makes is valid – that if you can’t spawn as a defender, then its attacker vs attacker. The trouble is that, in our game, all too often you only spawn the defender when you are spawning in under the enemy.

If you have event-like fights, whereby people must sign-up for the fight before it opens and allows spawning, then you can still have some respawning as defender, but you can also limit it. Bastogne doesn’t have an infinite number of defenders who can keep respawning, but once you die as defenders in town, you can start joining the force trying to break thru and reinforce them.

Once the enemy overruns you, you shouldn’t be able to respawn. As fun as the lemming experience can be, it generally undermines the overall health of gameplay and battle recreation.

Idea:

1. The standard instancing model is for a battle to be 4 km wide, with impervious AI line-segments to either flank. For now, all battles are centered on a strat-mesh town. Battles aren’t scheduled…attackers decide where and when to attack, within constraints. However, AI functionality prevents attacker ground engagement until defenders are in place. Constraints assure acceptable force ratioing. Virtual artillery allocations might be used for force ratio tuning during difficult hours of the day-cycle.

2. The defender’s TOE for the battle consists of the total current TOE for the Brigade in defensive mode in that sector, multiplied by 4, divided by the standardized defensive line length in km for the sector(s) defended by that Brigade; plus a TOE increment with some time delay, representing reserves if the Brigade is close enough to full strength. Additional TOE strength from other defensive or uncommitted Brigades may arrive during the battle, depending on operational-level movement.

3. The attacker’s TOE for the battle consists of the full TOE of the attacking Brigade(s), modified by a force availability factor representing the effects of a sector’s road net capacity. An action by an attacking Brigade–movement or attack–results in that Brigade dropping to a relatively much lower TOE, because much of its strength is delayed by the road net. As time passes, the TOE recovers back toward its full value, at a rate dependent on the road net capacity factor. Thus in a battle in a sector with a poor road net, an attacker may start with significantly limited forces, but continually receive incremental TOE increases as more forces arrive. Two powerful Brigades advancing toward each other in a poor-road-net sector may each have only limited forces for the initial meeting engagement.

Thus in a Battle of the Bulge simulation, the American early defenders’ TOEs in the north are weak due to long sectors and less-than-full-strength Brigades. The German attackers’ TOEs are initially strong due to dense road nets in the West Wall, but they drop off rapidly as the Germans move into sectors with very poor road net capacity. Once they begin to advance, the Germans in many instances have to choose between attacking immediately with very limited forces, with a risk of tactical defeat, or waiting an extended period for more of their combat strength to arrive.

Great discussion from all hands.

I love your idea KFS, and hope that it has some traction. I never thought of that, as obviously JWILLY has done (what hasn’t he thought about :] ).

I would *Love* to beta test those spawn rules… but it changes the game dramatically for the better long-term survival and growth of WWIIOL. I wondered what TOE’s could do, since it encourages fight-avoidance. No I see the daylight.

Well done. Have some tea.

I’m actually not trying to imagine the instancing system as a WWIIOL update – at least nothing less than WWIIOL 2.

. It would require a rework of the whole terrain and pretty sweeping changes throughout the game itself, because you have to rework every element of the design over the coals of “this is instance based” – you have to remove the in-place solutions to problems that overlap with the instancing system so that you can give back some of the freedoms we’ve previously taken away, you have to look – as we’ve been discussing here – for the new anomalies and quirks it provides, and I think you have to spend an amount of time developing a small stock set of in-play objectives.

For instance, maybe there should be semi-fixed artillery positions (or at least a finite number of artillery positions which might be enabled) in a given battle; there might be a system for injecting ongoing gameplay fuelling rules – if the number of players online has gone up, maybe it will the sides goals to obtain reinforcements (allow extra people in).

Now that might create an imbalance – I’m not trying to stop the creation of imbalances, its just far too arbitrary right now.

I like Jwilly’s idea of impervious AI defenses that essentially prevent “gamey” outflanking maneuvers – ie, manuevers that exploit the inherent spawn weaknesses of a non-shoebox game.

But any zone based spawn/ capture system also needs mechanisms to control how far the attacker can advance in order to prevent the domino effect. Would it be too restrictive to have “phase lines” that run perpendicular to the line of advance, and simply boot players or otherwise penalize them for getting too far ahead of the main group?

THere are MANY advantages gameplay wise to having some control over the advancement of the battle line.

Trout

Hm, what about having supply lines “stretch” as you advance into enemy territory, even on a smaller scale: The MS in the west side of town draws supply from the forward Command Post in the center of town draws supply from the Command Post outside town draws supply from the HQ in the friendly city you’re attacking from? Each serves as a bottleneck where MS != millions of soldiers pouring out, but at the same time allows some level of immediate action / defenders’ advantage (there will be fewer bottlenecks for an in-town defender, presumably).

Once you have a good mechanism for delivering fuel to keep a frontline fight burning, then you start being able to put more strategy back into it.

Remember when we made bridges blowable? Bridges – like FBs – can provide some really awesome battles because nobody spawns there and yet both sides want to secure it.

There are voices inclining towards a more BF1942 type of gameplay, but to be honest we’d have to go back to the drawing board to do that either.

The diversity of strategic options was one of WWIIOLs strengths, its open-endedness its achilles heel. Far too often there just aren’t as many people as there are pieces of equipment for a maneuver to be meaningful. If you disengage the enemy to flank him, what that usually means is the enemy moves away because nobody is engaging him.

If we gave you points for holding a depot after capturing it – betcha a lot more people would do it ;) Maybe after you capture a depot, until you leave it, we give you 2x score for each kill and one extra points for time in the depot afterwards – maybe depending on EWS status or something.

I sometimes wonder if useing the point system to encourage certain tactical behaviours would be counter-productive and somewhat of a crutch development wise. If you give people the option to do somthing that is not very fun just to get points, they may do it, but their love of the game could suffer (and they may not even be aware it is happening).

I felt this way about giving points to people who resupply vehicles. An activity that is not fun for most people gets re-enforced as those who want to rank up start to do it too.

The solution is to make the activity itself more fun, which of course is easier said than done. Defending an objective is, for most people, only fun when you anticipate the attack (people like suspense!), and when you actually engage in it. But if the attack does not materialize, and this happens on several occasions, you will loose your interst in defending a point objective.

“If we gave you points for holding a depot after capturing it – betcha a lot more people would do it ;) Maybe after you capture a depot, until you leave it, we give you 2x score for each kill and one extra points for time in the depot afterwards – maybe depending on EWS status or something.”

One of the advantages of instancing is that it eliminates the issue of advance defenders then not being attacked.

Of course, instancing damages the fun-realization for the player-types that likes attacking before there are defenders, and racking up the camp-kills.

My amateur opinion has always been that in terms of aggregate deliverable gameplay satisfaction, a wargame is better off having both attackers and defenders than it would be with either mostly attackers who are allowed to arrive first, or an attacker-vs-attacker context.

Of course, I’m just guessing that the attackers-and-defenders approach would be an acceptable-revenue path for CRS given the gameplay desires of its present customer base.

Jwilly,

I think there is a legitimate roll for these “pre-combat” operation (minus spawn camping of course!), and its called recon.

Currently though, there is no way to structure or regulate these kinds of operations. Some day I’d love to see some structure put in place to create proper recon missions that have limited enrollment, group spawn, non-combat/ non- capure objectives, time limits, gameplay borders, and clear identifiers that warn people these may be low combat intensity missions.

“Of course, instancing damages the fun-realization for the player-types that likes attacking before there are defenders, and racking up the camp-ills.”

Both sides probe for weak response to the AO being placed. If they smell blood in the water, people come running to gain the upper hand. It’s really not much more complicated than that.

Bear in mind, I’m not talking about WWIIOL here…

How I envision this system working is unlike our current game – its not Side A spawns at Town A FB/AB and drives north to attack Side B who are spawning at Town B AB/Depots. You would have the means the determine your own spawners (within reason).

For recon to work, you need either a couple of orders of magnitude more players or a much, much, narrower front line.

Sure, its fun to be the lone tank that triggers off a battle for Waterloo, or the single infantry who spots an enemy attack and brings the entire army from 50 other locations they were playing at.

The problem is that you are our gameplay content for the other guy, we have to try and offer you up to him – just like we have to offer him up to you.

I’d like to see instancing introduced to WWIIOL *specifically in order to get rid of* recon, which I perceive to mostly be a nice military word for the game action of looking-for-capture-points-with-insufficient-human-defenders-in-place. But, the caveats regarding revenue potential from the existing customer base are key.

Well, if you can control
a) the number of attackers and defenders in a given battle
b) the borders of the battle zone
c) when the battle starts and ends

then you can let in a limited number of people prior to the main battle and let them advance towards objectives where they need to record somthing (take a photo of an object), or examine an object (tire tracks = presence of armoured brigade), in addition to engage one an other.

After a certain amount of time, or after objectives have been met, you then let everyone else into the battle for normal combat. (In fact, the starting spawnpoints for the mainforce soldiers could be placed by the recon team as part of their job)

———
Kfs said:

Bear in mind, I’m not talking about WWIIOL here…

How I envision this system working is unlike our current game – its not Side A spawns at Town A FB/AB and drives north to attack Side B who are spawning at Town B AB/Depots. You would have the means the determine your own spawners (within reason).

For recon to work, you need either a couple of orders of magnitude more players or a much, much, narrower front line.

Sure, its fun to be the lone tank that triggers off a battle for Waterloo, or the single infantry who spots an enemy attack and brings the entire army from 50 other locations they were playing at.

The problem is that you are our gameplay content for the other guy, we have to try and offer you up to him – just like we have to offer him up to you.

Trout – quit designing single player games ;)

Just picking up on the comment about (as an example) giving more points for holding a depot after capping it (and referring to actual WWIIOL, not the Not-WWIIOL instancing discussion above), I think the mission system needs to be completely broken down into much smaller tasks in an RPG quest-like system that are generated on a semi-automatic basis, and then rewards given for completing those tasks. They’d get as small as “kill 5 attackers near objective Foo”, with better rewards for doing it in one life or something. And then lots of in-game on-screen (ie HUD not map) icons and info that make it very clear where and what those objectives are. And completely decoupling these missions as a “can I spawn here?” mechanism.

Most of these things can be generated automatically from an AO placement (either defensive or objective) – eg “capture depot A”, “hold depot X”, “destroy the Blargle-Fondue FB”, etc. But there’d be only 1 of each “task”, and the selection screen would let you see how many people were already assigned to each task (and you could drill down to see unit types etc). Anything you do that’s unrelated to your mission would give you no rewards (whether that’s rank points or “prestige” points for vehicle selection), but you can change missions without going through a despawn/respawn.

I know most of the realism crowd would hate it, but I think it’s the kind of thing you need to do if you really want to address the new player learning cliff, as well as the general lemming problem.

PS: Jwilly, no criticism of your ideas, because they’re good and constructive etc, but can you please find a small screwdriver or chisel and permanently remove the hyphen key from your keyboard before it drives me completely batshit? Thank you! :)

If you are going to do that, you might a well not have a seamless map. You could just have something like the current Total War engine, but allow people to play individual units when the battles happen.

That by the way, is not per-battle balancing. It’s per-battle Un-balancing. Or per battle equipment locking. This idea only becomes hideous when it is used to ensure an equal fight at the local level. Hence the confusion

People didn’t like the group-spawn-delay system we had ages ago because all it meant was 10 guys spawned in to find .. no ride.

This works in shoebox games because any jack the lad can climb into a humvee or black hawk and away they go. WWiiOL doesn’t have that ability. Planetside solved that problem nicely, I’m sure the purists would have an annurism on the forums if that idea was put forward.

BINGO! The Total War engine was exactly what I was thinking!

The seamless map aint all its cracked up to be. A bordered battle zone (map) can be huge (they get bigger every day). It allows for all kinds of good things that are not an option with a seamless map. And you can still allow aircraft to move between zones without any noticeable effect.

I think the next successful virtual battlefield simulator will have a mega-map for strategic purposes, and ground pounders will load smaller battle maps that are bordered and have fairly structured gameplay parameters.

Trout

————
Nhorning said:

If you are going to do that, you might a well not have a seamless map. You could just have something like the current Total War engine, but allow people to play individual units when the battles happen.

But there’s no compelling reason not to have the seamless map. That’s the point of instancing. You can have a Zeeland battle which is technically for one town but in which players might be spawning DDs from Dover and Den Haag, bombers from Calais and Eindhoven. I did say technically. Such long travel times might tend to lead to uninteresting fights.

There might be other classes of instances, e.g. there might be an open ended instance for “other” activities – recon, supply (naval supply?), rdp/bombing etc.

Heck, you could even allow instance transferal under limited conditions, if you did define a finite border around battlespaces.

An historical example of how instance-transfer might be useful: in the Battle of the Bulge, 1SS Panzer rolled through St. Vith in the hours after the disintegration of the American line, and moved onward to the northwest. The American line then reformed behind them, in a patchwork fashion. 1SS Panzer was isolated from supply.

The German player likely would be attacking to try to open up his supply lines and get his spearheads moving again. German supply elements striving to reach 1SS Panzer would have to participate in that eastward supply line battle in order to find a way through the American roadblocks. *If* they could get through, they could move onward to the battle-instance around their isolated parent unit to their westward.

Multiple town battles are conceivable – but then again, if there’s only a dozen players, you can scale it down. The core element of what I like about instancing is the ability to create a space within the world which is scaled to the players and which starts without infinite combinations of advantage. I’m not saying it should start with enforced advantage, but any balancing systems you do use would be presented up-front so that a player could decide, for instance, not to play in a battle space that is 5:1 imbalanced.

Heck, conceivably, we could remote-locate a few cell hosts and actually try and ge-locate particular battles based on the population… Put a cell host in Holland and Australia, and you might cut the ping variance down by 1/3rd. It doesn’t prevent a sunset player from playing with sunrise earlybirds, it just introduces choice.

But if instanced battles dont have borders, how do you keep people from entering the area and upsetting a strategic balance that was determined by the game at the strategic level?

The other value of borders though is that they let you define a front line, or line of battle that cant be flanked in a gamey way.

Trout

Shoebox walls are a very gamey way of bounding an instance, on several levels:

1. The ground boundaries need to be much smaller than those in the air.
2. It may be desirable to have a relatively narrow front of engagement, even though each side’s friendly territory extends out farther. This permits observation, retreat paths, defilade firing angles and distant artillery positioning within a wider area, among other things. It also forces the defender to hold at the specified line, because retreating causes the width of the line-space to grow substantially.
3. Wherever the boundaries are defined, it’s always preferable for them to be invisible to players.

IMO, it’s much better to use omnipotent/indestructible AI defenders on the flanks, plus game mechanics, to create functionally effective boundaries.

Oi – you’re using someone elses definition of instancing, Trout. Instancing doesn’t need borders if the instances a separate, even if they overlap. Guy at Antwerp in instance 1 doesn’t see guy at Antwerp in instance 2. It has the elegance of shoebox borders for lauching a battle, but it has the freedom of WWIIOL for executing the battle. For new players, you can maintain the borders philosophically – tell them when they are leaving the “Battle space” so they don’t get lost and wander off for lack of direction. But you can also grow the “in-play” battlespace. A fight at Liege might spill out into surrounding towns if both sides continue to grow the number of players. You can allow squads or events to run on the same server independent of the map by running it within its own instance.

And you could maybe even allow players to change instance within certain “continuity” constraints.

The real problem with a boundless game is that there is no “beginning” from which fairness can eminate. We know that people can accept evolving unfairness — losing a battle, attrition… Its when they find themselves spawn camped or unable to establish a defense because the enemy can just restart on the opposite side.

KFS, Jwilly,

Ok, I think I get it. BTW, I was not thinking of a hard boundary, like an invisible wall or hedgerow you cant climb over, but a map marked operational area and messages / point penalties if you leave the area. This would turn back most people before they suffer the final death from Jwilly’s uber-AI.

I love the idea of a host defined battle space based on participant numbers, strategic pre-conditions, and possibly even geography. FOr example, an armoured brigade advancing against another armoured unit in open territory could be given a larger battle space.

I have reservations about being able to “grow the number of players” unless this growth conforms to the strategic pre-conditions that caused the battle in the first place. IE, an attacking force with 3 to 1 advantage should be able to maintain the advantage unless it is strategically possible to move more defenders in given time and transportation constraints.

I’m guessing that my musings and KFSOne’s comments probably shouldn’t be conflated… 8^)

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