One AO to pwn them all…

That’s right, we toned down the number of AOs going on. Why did we increase them in the first place? Because people wanted to do their own thing. They did it, they got bored, and they slowly drifted away anyway.

The rest of us were left asking “Hey, where’s the fight?”.

But one of the game’s selling points for many people has always been the sandbox element. With small numbers of AOs, we are catering to the broader audience of people who actually want to spend their time in combat with the enemy over the people who want to win through bigger-picture machinations. At least those who want to do it on a short term scale, which covers things like “soft caps” and “sneak attacks”.

I’ve been having a lot more fun playing (on my seekrit toon) during the concentrated AO times – the people playing are largely people who want to see action, and aren’t afraid to stick it out, so the less aggressive doling out of AOs is a real boon.

That leaves a group of people who are instead saying “but I don’t want to go there”.

This is a yoyo-issue. When we satisfy the itch-feet syndrome, we give everyone athletes foot: You and your squad go to Tienen and depart to St. Truiden instead if an enemy tank spawns at Tienen.

That’s why we give someone other than you control over the AOs.


You are entering Conjectureville. Population: 3.

This is not an official CRS post. This is a post by me as a WWIIOL enthusiast and should be viewed with the same ‘whatever’ as you might apply to Yello1 or Zeebbee :)

What I’d like to see is a system that says: The AOs tell you where the “we just want to fight” community and the “we have a campaign to win” community have congregated to fight WWII Online instead of to a WWII engagement; but if you really don’t want to be there, and want to attack Tienen, and you’re willing to stick around and fight it out with enemies who decide to fend you off, we’ll introduce this mechanism for granting you a fight.

Maybe when we add the “Companies” concept to brigades, we’ll have it so that Alpha Company is the brigade. You join a brigade, you join Alpha Company, with no “Company Selection” hassle.

If you want to go off and do something else, you have to open one of the remaining companies, with a limit of say 3-4 companies per brigade. “Open” means someone has to say “I’ll be running this company for the time being”.

Opening a company costs X squad tokens and we’ll need to introduce a mechanism for squads to earn tokens.

It also needs to cost some kind of side points so that an overpop side can’t just open 50 companies and go all over the map – that undoes the purpose of AOs.

Then you need X many people to join the company before it becomes active and can be used for spawning.

Now you can spawn in and go wherever you like. You can attack Willemstad while the AOs are down at Metz.

But what do you get by attacking it?

Scenario 1: You go to Willemstad and no enemy appear.

Unless you can capture, it seems like a total waste of time, and I promise you now – you are not going to capture.

So how do we move past this item? We have to find something you can do that doesn’t let you crush the enemy just because (speaking from his perspective) he is being a team player.

How about:

* You MUST be in a non-default company for this to take effect.

– After capture.squadPersistTime minutes, you earn some squad tokens (thank you for sticking around), but not a full refund.
– After capture.squadUnchallengedNeutralize minutes, any enemy brigades in the town are pushed out and a new flag is placed on the town that prevents any brigade moving in for capture.neutralTime minutes — although that includes units of your side too.
– If you pull out early by going too long without people at the objective after starting the timer at the objective, you pay an extra penalty that keeps your squad from starting a new objective, and prevents your squad members from joining someone else’s objective (limiting you to regular companies and AO-oriented companies).

Ok — So now attacking undefended, unAOed towns has a purpose that can actually work with the guys who want to shoot at each other. Sound good?

Unfortunately for you, we really want the enemy to show up though.

Getting a brigade kicked is a bit of a nuisance, so some folks will want to turn up and defend. We need to keep this fairly light though, we do not want to make it a fresh bunker-duty burden on people.

Scenario 2: The enemy cometh.

So in #1 we’ve added a dependency: no enemy turn up.

If they do, you may as well leave. That’s going to get exploited 30 minutes after it goes live by some guys second account spawning in, finding a building to clip into and needing a GM to come figure out where he is and a terrain/client fix to seal up that hole. And then it’s going to happen again 30 minutes later.

So the enemy is going to have to make his presence felt. He’s going to have to shoot at you. Even if all he does is fire a pistol at your tanks every minute or so. If he’s clipping, you can move and he’s screwed.

And the whole thing should operate like a capture timer – modifying the new city-level progress bar. It will have to be slow, because the last thing we want is to encourage vaporactions. Kill scores contributing to it, maybe.

There is a flaw in this design, though: the enemy shouldn’t need to join/activate a company to defend against you. But that’s OK. As long as you stick around for capture.squadPersistTime, you’re getting points back.

Scenario 3: With great fury and vengeance.

The enemy doesn’t like you threatening their foothold in Willemstad, and an enemy squad decides to counter you. They activate a company and spawn in and begin trading shots with you.

Option 1: You make like oldschool and bugger off. Per #1, that’s OK, but your penance is to have to fight at AOs.

Option 2: You stick around and make a fight of it with them. Good on you. A reward needs to be devised for this scenario + option.

How about … whichever of you pushes the progress bar to 100% gets your tokens back: all of them, and extra points for all squad members. Heck, I think the system should even award a number of points which are spent globally on supply tickets. That’s right – make you team players even though you didn’t want to be ;)

We still need more, though. If you’re going to stick around and some of the enemy are willing to invest points, we need to allow for escalation.

For a start: this fight needs to start showing up – at the very least – on HC maps; The auto-AO system needs to consider this place a candidate for the next automatic AO.

And if it becomes an AO, everyone who participated at their own expense needs to get their tokens back plus some.

If SquadX wants to join your company, it should cost them at least one token. Not in a squad? Well the AO is on Reims: enjoy. Spying? Points can’t be spent by squad recruits, and if you aren’t actively playing for the side, you won’t have tokens to spend.

They’ll want to be careful about joining, too, because they may lose an extra token if your side fizzles. Don’t join engagements started by people you know don’t play nice. If they stick around and your side loses, they get their token back. If they stick around and your side wins, they gain an extra token.

How do you earn squad tokens? That’ll have to be AO based, perhaps with some RDP/bombing and other components for other branches.

Ok – now it’s time to confess. This is pretty much a raw brain dump. I have been making this one up as I went. Which means it is going to be riddled with flaws and icks. I think there’s something good at the bottom of this, but now it’s time for me to go post this to the producers and see what they think. In the meantime…

Have at :)


Some nice ideas.

Main issue with the system is you’ll end up with 20 odd squads all off doing their own thing just because they can go off and do their own thing, and your actual AO’s will end up with far less players fighting at them.

For some reason lots of players just seam to like avoiding the big fight. Some for reasons that their systems can’t cope with the big battles, other because they don’t like the big slog fests.

Still an interesting concept, that with a littkle work may be interesting.

Good luck!

!S MW.

Main issue with the system is you’ll end up with 20 odd squads all off doing their own thing just because they can go off and do their own thing

Ah – no they won’t:

It also needs to cost some kind of side points so that an overpop side can’t just open 50 companies and go all over the map – that undoes the purpose of AOs.

The number of side-points/tokens available needs to be based on population and/or something, so that there are only a small, finite number of these actions available at a given time. I definitely don’t want to empower everyone who wants to do something else to go off and dilute the front.

<warning>Pulling numbers out of the air for discussion purposes</warning>

Lets say SquadA opens Charlie Company out of 1div2bde to attack Willemstaad. It costs them (numbers-out-of-the-air warning) 8 Squad Tokens to activate a company, 10 for visible to squad only, 20 for a totally private company that nobody else will be able to join period.

They now need to populate it with – say – 6 people for it to activate and become spawnable, one of whom has to be OIC of the company with an XO assigned incase he CTHLs or something.

But it also costs 1 Side Token. If their side doesn’t have a Side Token, they’re SOOL. Sorry, but your side is already too spread out. Maybe it costs 10+ extra Squad Tokens to open a company without a Side Token and 10 people to activate it.

The number of Side Tokens might be roughly based on the number of AOs.

Now – players in your squad, SquadX, don’t want to fight at the AO. There are no Side Tokens available, so they can’t activate (open?) a new company (or they have to pay a lot more for it).

But unless SquadA went for the flat-out-private-seekrit option, they can join the existing company(s) for a small investment of their own — no Side Token required.

So the amount of dilution that can occur has plenty of room to be well constrained, and there is a significant investment in conducting an off-side activity and lots of incentive to commit to them so that they provide an opportunity for engaging content.

OK, that makes sense.

Wonder if you may get issues with squads arguing over who get to use their sides Side Token(s).

Otherwise, you may well be onto something here. Keep brainstorming it! :)

Absolutely you would. In the formal version of this idea I just wrote up to our production list, I have:

Concept: We could quash some potential griping about limitations by assigning a Squad-Token equivalen to Side Tokens… E.g. if it costs 10 Squad Tokens + 1 Side Token to open a Company, we could charge +6 compensatory Squad Tokens if no Side Tokens are available. Every additional Company would cost 6 more Squad Tokens so that if there are 0 Side Tokens and 5 Companies have been open since the last Side Token, it would cost 10 Squad Tokens + 30 compensatory Squad Tokens to open the 6th./

Hehe, I love this bit:


If, after becoming Engaged, a Company is Deactivated or Closed, any squads participating in the Company lose their Squad Token investment. Additionally, the originating Squad is flagged as “Cowardly” and will be unable to Open additional Companies for a period of /company.cowardPenaltyTime/ hours.

And before you think it: I’ve also included a clause that says “Company supply continues as long as the brigade is within one open link of the Company’s origin”: So you don’t lose your activity just because they move the brigade.

But that might create some scenarios that we don’t want. We’ll have to see.

would be a chance to get rid of the brigade spawning system. 1st choose the side you want to fight for (axis/allied), then company or by this means target, at last the unit you want to be in. combined with dynamic missions, no matter what branche or country your supply origins, it should get bge ready for the next 10 years to come.

so long slpr

Yeah, that’s a good point. I have been anti-Orbat since the very first meeting when we started discussing it for 1.17? 1.19?

I don’t mean I’m anti-The-Orbat. I’ve felt from the beginning that the up-front page should be oriented around activity — it’s the same damn question everyone’s been asking for 9 years, “Where’s the fight”. Answer the question already! When the user has made their side selection, make a list of the activity and put the best option up front, first and foremost, with “” button to cycle through them.

I recall at one of the very first conference room discussions struggling to explain my concept of organizing the information in two axes rather than just the one, i.e. the Orbat. But it was hard to sell because we were trying to burn the old “here is europe, spawn and see if you can find an enemy” Map-oriented version (map with a capital M to distinguish between a version that guides the map to useful information and show you it with visual context).

But yes — Alpha Companies with no players could be inactive, so that if nothing else, you could replace the Orbat with a Company List, meaning it is automatically culled down to active groupings.

Want to post missions from a new brigade? Cool, use the orbat or the map-right click to change brigade, and as soon as you post your mission, that company will join the Alpha Company List other people see.

Sort the ACL by population and bingo – information at that first page is an order of magnitude better for most people.

The problem has never been players who do not want to be a part of the main AO and even with 1AO those people have options via FB busts, etc.. The issue has always been those who wish to have a significant impact on the outcome of the map or other players’ enjoyment while avoiding all possible resistance. We’ve seen it with map skirting bombers, we’ve seen it with mass para jumps into stale AOs and there are other examples.

I like these ideas somewhat. The trick is that we need to bring back the importance of squads in the game while not allowing them to get out of control as they once were. There is also a need to provide opportunities for small unit actions. Making bridges and rail depots a part of the strategic layer would help if done correctly. I would propose making them bombable and damageable/repairable by sappers. Allow their destruction to hinder brigade movement either by denial or extended move times and remove the AO restrictions on them (require them to be within 1 link of an enemy brigade). This would not restrict them from being bumped back if kicked from the town as normal.

Just a thought, but it allows small units to make their own action and have an impact without allowing them to roll towns, would also help the overpop side during 1 AO time, instead of complaining they can’t attrite whole divisions to take a town, they could keep the other brigades from being moved in at all. This could allow them to use their numbers advantage while still having to fight for towns and not rolling the map due to a lack of opposing players.

I approve this feature and think that you should continue to brainstorm it.

Sorry I’m currently on stand-by mode and don’t have time to analyze it, but I notice that it aims at the right issues so it deserves debate. The /company.cowardPenaltyTime/ would be a very good mean to get people gathered first before going to battle, though someone not part of a squad and just willing to group up people would get screwed.

Or maybe convert the new training automatic mission converted into a “last-minute scenario” with a common objective showing up on both sides (along the frontline or behind the frontline, customizable) and which would be spawnable only if enough people joined on both side. I would close it once people spawned.

Seriously, what’s the point of these ‘company’ missions? To give folks who don’t want to play with others yet another way to play with themselves? To give players yet another means of attacking an OBJECT rather then the Enemy? Instead of pandering to this useless minority, give them some screenies of COD, a box of tissues and tell them to lock themselves in the bathroom till they get bored with themselves. Meanwhile you guys might want to look on how to introduce Mines, Medium Mortars and Artillery into the Game for the rest of us and make the Game even Bigger.


The problem really has been people who don’t want to be participate in AOs, particularly players who want to be able to go capture something with minimal risk of engagement.

That is not a condemnation of those people – I can completely understand much of the motivation behind groups of players feeling that way, and that’s why I started on this concept in the first place :)

At any given point the average player just wants to see some action. If you allow groups of people to go off and do their own thing it has been well proven, over the game’s lifetime, that the result is dilution of the front and difficulty in finding action.

Secondly: Because of the way the game plays out, those groups will generally end up relocating at the slightest whiff of resistance. The investment in attacking TownA is so minimal that relocation to TownB is the clear winning choice. Perhaps they didn’t get their equipment set up as they had intended for the start of combat, perhaps they lost one of their key pieces. There are all kinds of good, perfectly justified reasons for doing it.

That leads to further dilution in the form of city-to-city whackamole.

Allowing you to distract the enemy is one thing, but allowing you to do it without some commitment is a crime against gameplay. We have to balance warfare with gameplay. And leaving the main content zone of the game to visit an empty town is not gameplay.

I really do want to see more content for bomber pilots (and thus fighter pilots too) and naval players. I can’t go into details of that at this time though.


You’ll have to read the post – and my comments to Anfiach. The group you refer to – the “we just wanna do something else on our own” people aren’t targetted by this concept at all :)

Really interesting concept. The part I don’t fully see explained ss the blockade/neutralise idea, ie the goal of the Diversionary/Off-Side action. Am I reading you right in that the suggestion is that Diversionary activity would boot the Unit from a town without changing ownership of the town, in other words the Unit could be returned to the front, but only after the frontline timer? If so, it would limit the possible impact of low pop, as any Blockade gains could only be capitalised on if a real AO (ie to actually AO and own the town) was placed and completed within the hour.

The most interesting thing would be the increase in No Mans towns which in itself is an idea that many find attractive.

I think there’s mileage in this concept.

It does have limited potential – absolutely – but again, it’s not about letting people go off and do their own thing :) I mean, they can, and it has an effect, but if they do it on their own (and spend their points), as you say, the bde just gets rolled back after an hour or whatever. (The blockade timers could be longer, though, but that’s probably not a good idea because then the squads can grief their own side — since blockade = nobody can move in for a while).

However – if you think back to the old days of virtual AOs, we know that squads will be willing to co-ordinate to some degree, as long as they feel they feel they are in charge of the decisions. Diversions are hopefully unlikely to affect the current AO, but they might help the next. They might play a factor in where the enemy next AOs, etc…

The downpayment

Oliver, I think we are talking about the same people, just in a different way. It isn’t the AOs so much as the people. They are quite willing to attend an AO that has no opposition in it. They want to win the game without actually competing. In as much as funneling players to the AOs goes, the UI should direct players to the action and I don’t see how continually trying to force the remaining playerbase into a single area is going to address the issues that have caused the majority of players to leave in the first place.

Small unit actions are important to the playerbase and have always given an added layer to the game as well, KGW isn’t going to go an all out assault on a lonely bridge when they will have more impact at the main AO. In reality it is no different than a small squad going to repair that bridge 5km o the south of town so that friendly forces can flank. Changes to the game have killed such things like overstock/resupply and interdiction missions (yes, thew are possible, but like RDP bombing they are pointless).

My ideas weren’t meant as a counter to yours, it was just what came to mind at the moment. I should also have included the navy, ports were also meant to be a part of the strategic layer and giving them more meaning would give the naval game new life and best of all, my ideas are based on the original intent of the game and these strategic points were already designed to be a part of the supply scheme, so no issues with intellectual property there.

Back to your idea, I see plenty of opportunities for abuse and implementation relies on further restrictions on the playerbase. It also is only really a benefit to the largest squads and while they do not necessarily represent the majority of the playerbase, the have the potential to cause the most significant positive or negative impact on the outcome of the main AO, this will take us back to when the biggest squads controlled everything by choosing or refusing to participate in a particular action. This idea adds and takes away and in the end, while entertaining, doesn’t seem to make the game better overall. Fun concept though.

It isn’t the AOs so much as the people. They are quite willing to attend an AO that has no opposition in it

From my personal experience and Rat-enabled perspectives, I honestly don’t believe there is a significant portion of players who actually want that. The reason it seems to be prevalent is the lack of reward for setup. It’s the old “taxi to victory” in a different guise. People want to spend all their time en-route. That’s why MSPs were successful to the point of being their own worst enemy.

I think most of the people who fall into the “bugger off on contact” category are people who appreciate the process of establishment, enjoy the completion of a well executed action, but have tired of having so many of their actions thwarted – that would certainly be their perspective on it. So doing something relatively unchallenged becomes appealing. That chance to camp the enemy and dish some of it out for a change. Of course, when you do that well in our game, the enemy doesn’t come to you, because the enemy assumes you will evaporate. The enemy has probably managed to find a source of action and doesn’t want to risk departing to chase phantoms.

Hence this concept tries to embed some investment other than just your time with the goal of attracting you to staying. Ok – enemy turned up, you’re going to get waxed. But if you’d do us all the favor of staying and losing, we’ll give you some of your investment back…

Changes to the game have killed such things like overstock/resupply and interdiction missions (yes, thew are possible, but like RDP bombing they are pointless).

I wholly agree, but I they got killed in the first place to attempt to fix the problem I set out at the start of this discussion – the one I just re-expressed: the need to encourage rather than enforce the persistance of players at their small action. We need to stop making departure the optimum path. Then we can start to bring those things back.

Once we have the token system in place, I think we might start looking at things like resupply actions with a different take: significantly increase the resupply limit but require tokens to initiate one. That spares an obviously artifical limitation on the amount of resupply activity.

My ideas weren’t meant as a counter to yours, it was just what came to mind at the moment.

Don’t take my replies, or myself, as so egotistical to take any offense if you do — I’m not a designer. This is a raw brain dump. It’s not something in discussion at CRS towers, infact I posted it here to give those of you interested in pro-active discussion (*waves Zeebbee*) a chance to interact with such a discussion on a different level.

And I realize that many of you probably feel there are other issues that could/should be tackled more pressingly. I’ve chosen this one precisely because it isn’t something new and fresh without a lot of “already covered” for a change, because I know that it falls into line with some existing development concepts and therefore requires less resources to address, because I believe it tackles some root causes of other more pressing issues and because I feel that it will actually change the ballpark we are playing in with regards to so many issues that keep getting re-tackled.

As with the changes to the capture system: If you’ve paid attention to official posts, you may have noticed some changes in expression of the capture system.

There was originally no plan to change the capture system. The original changes that started it fell out of performance changes to the terrain system requiring art changes to buildings. Re-positioning every capture table in the game was out of the question, so Ramp and the artists had to remove many of the tables. Ramp and I conspired to change this to a tableless capture system, and after analysing the work involved realized that we would have to re-create capture from scratch.

So I broke the system up into two components: a hard-coded C/C++ CETS (capture event transport system) with hooks into the Lua script engine on the strat host.

CRS programmers have had a history of future-proofing stuff – which is effectively wasting time on implementing “TBD” feature hooks. This is different. Here I have merely separated the technical layer from the rule layer. And implementing and tuning rules in a Lua script is several orders of magnitude easier and more maintainable than having to do it in C/C++.

It also exposes it to the Producers. So we got the OK to do that to.

Of course, at that point, the rules were in a Lua script that I could hack merrily away at, and in which I have a huge amount of freedom without having to recompile anything, restart servers, or etc.

This system could actually implement individual capture-timers without a problem. All of the capture statistics etc on the host are “soft” (in Lua). So I could literally swap them out at a moment’s notice. But I went ahead and implemented a per-facility system as my initial: it’s as simple as indexing the statistics by facilityID rather than playerID. Baddaboom! New capture gameplay.

And you’ve hopefully seen me discuss in previous posts why I felt that was important: to encourage persistance of player presences. I want whackamoles to have to give a lot more commitment for their individual captures: you’re going to have to wait 8 minutes. Sure, the defender will take 8 minutes to retake his facility – but he doesn’t actually have to stay there.

From the Buzzard I know that usually 1 whackamole is chased down by anywhere from 3 to 16 players. So they’re going to uncap a lot faster than he is going to cap.

If 10 minutes passes between two caps in a town: whackamole detected. But if they fall somewhat faster – hey, there’s a good chance I’m going to find some content there.

I should also have included the navy, ports were also meant to be a part of the strategic layer and giving them more meaning would give the naval game new life and best of all

Yep – I think both the Navy and the bomber pilots need more content at the strategic layer. Again, there are some ideas in the pipeline there but I can’t go into detail at the moment. I will say that we seem to be close to making a quantum leap there; very, very productive discussions with Ramp and Martini on making certain things practical this last week :)

It also is only really a benefit to the largest squads and while they do not necessarily represent the majority of the playerbase,

You’ll have to expound on where you see that potential. I already said there would be an upper kitty size, and a limit to the rate at which you earn those rewards. The big squads would be able to afford private actions more often, but honestly I don’t think that’s a problem. If they’re big enough to be able to afford it, it gets rid of their points and reduces the frequency they can do these kinds of actions. The cost of a “Squad Only” operation should be a real sink – and we could perhaps scale the cost to the size of the squad… :) Heck we could even make it so that Squad Only requires an extra token per X squaddies. I’m all for the resource-sink here… That’s the beauty of the tokens.

If they go cheap and don’t exclude other squads, then chances are it will create co-operation. It also creates an opportunity for squads to be visible to each other to some degree, because A Squad will own the operation and others will be able to see what they’re made of.

There are also co-operative options such as allowing a non-squad HC to place a request for such an action, and that to cheapen the cost of the action by a token or two.

Please note: I’m not saying “you’re wrong”, I’m saying “I haven’t seen it yet”. We are brainstorming here… This is fresh turf. I know some of you are probably waiting for the “I’m a game developer, I’ve been working on this for 99 years, I know and have already discussed everything, you will listen and bow”. Nope. I can’t claim never to have been that Rat, I’ve gotten chased around the same dead horse often to say it from time to time. Again, this is fresh turf.

– Ol

KFS1 – I think this would tie in nicely to what the players say is needed to make the “flanks” relevant again.

Using this mode to allow fights within 3 towns of a map edge, and making the movement timers on “friendly” (non-frontline) towns faster (allows sudden movements to the flank); would require the MAP OIC’s to ‘un-stack’ and cover the flanks.

Let the players have their independent fun – but make it so that the strategic game benefits from flank attacks/movement timers – and unclogs the center.

This also benefits the naval game by bringing in those map edge naval towns – and navy defends against these flank movements. (Now just make Naval towns easier to mission, spawn and defend – if only with lots of rifles and easier rank-up!).

I have to apologize as I haven’t had time to write a proper response, sleep deprivation prevents my brain functioning at any reasonable level :). Your objectivity is appreciated, but no need to worry at hurting my feelings, I’m just not that sensitive.

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Terminology? « kfsone’s pittanceMarch 24, 2010 at 7:58 pm

[…] Terminology? By kfsone Leave a Comment Categories: WWIIOL Tags: battleground europe, squads, WWIIOL Question: terminology for the actions on a company in the “Squad Actions” concept… […]

Terminology #2 « kfsone’s pittanceMarch 24, 2010 at 9:30 pm

[…] make this a comment on the previous post, here’s what I put in my official proposal for the squad/companies idea: “Off-side Action” A formalized action away from Attack Objectives. […]

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