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CoH2 Mod, Fog of War and Truesight

Posted: 25 Nov 2016, 23:39
by kwok
EDIT: Mod description at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1192&p=12928#p12928
EDIT: Steam link posted at viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1696


Since the latest beta patch (4.9.6) has the experimental feature with fog of war, I want to talk about how I've taken a similar concept and successfully (opinion) put it into my mod. While the actually feature is essentially the same, there are some huge differences between BK and my mod that makes it work in my mod but not in BK. But, maybe it can be worked into BK. If not, at least entice you to check out my mod and see the difference in gameplay. Buckle up, it's a long one.

For those who haven't followed the beta closely, the experimental feature is units are no longer revealed in the fog of war when attacking/using abilities. This essentially means that you can take fire from a unit and never truly know where it is coming from.

Impact on BK Artillery
So for example, you may never know where a howitzer is shooting from while you get bombarded. This makes a lot of gameplay change because it makes counter barraging much harder, making howitzers in general more powerful as they can rain never ending shells from the sky with safety. A lot more criticism and opinions can be found on this post: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1503#p14661

Impact on BK Support Units
The feature doesn't just stop at buffing artillery though. Units like mortars and snipers became the center of controversy as well because they impose more of their already dominating power onto the battlefield. The new fog of war essentially shields them to continue to exert their power. Personally, I haven't felt that buff THAT much yet in BK in the few beta games I've played, but I can imagine the frustration for people who have had that experience.

Impact on my mod Artillery
My mod handles artillery very very differently than BK, which means that the beta fog of war feature has a very different impact on the artillery landscape. Firstly, artillery in my mod is managed through an off-map "request system". My goal in my mod is to create the company scale atmosphere, which means that artillery batteries won't exist on the battlefield. There will be no howitzers or artillery emplacements in my mod, even though the models exist. Artillery is called in by officers, observers, and radiomen that are fielded within your company. In a squad (a group of 9 men) there could be a radio man who can call in artillery based on vision. The observer in the squad will mark the target (using smoke unless you have a veteraned forward observer, which is its unit, who can relay coordinates) for to a dedicated artillery command. Different factions will have different shared cooldowns and artillery call ins based on some historical practices:
If the radioman dies, then your squad will not be able to call in artillery. That being said, there is no "off-map ability" that can be casted where ever, no blind firing into the fog of war, and no "artillery in base/basebombing" rule (aka basebombing is fixed because the only time you can basebomb is if you see the base, which normally signifies you have either won or lost and are using artillery to end it).
What fog of war does now is pretty much protects units from artillery more than buffs artillery. With the beta fog of war feature, units are less likely to get mercilessly bombed by "click to kill" abilities. This puts more focus on combat than click to kill abilities. With smoke marked targets and vision requirements, artillery actually became less of a tool for killing and more for forcing forces to move and/or taking out defenses as they were used historically.

Impact on my mod Support Units - Mortars
Similarly to artillery, a lot of supporting units behave differently in my mod and so are affected differently by the fog of war system. The unit that probably has most people concerned are mortars. The way I have made mortars work in my mod is they only bombard with the ability and munition cost. So, they've essentially become what artillery emplacements in BK are, but with much less power. My reasoning is that most mortar systems aren't reactive, but instead rely on a command by a leading element. They can fire into the fog of war with a very long range as they would historically, which really makes them comparable to an artillery emplacement in BK. This makes them pretty powerful, but they still come with quite the trade off. They are expensive, fragile, and require micro for something of relatively less powerful than a howitzer in BK. They are absolutely instrumental and important to a company, as they were historically, but they definitely do not drive the game because they heavily rely on some type of frontline to protect them. So even if you can't see them in the fog of war bombing your units, they are annoyances at most and can be hunted by your units. Just imagine briefing a your soldiers "we are faced by constant shelling, we suspect mortars are hiding in this location. first platoon will recon the area and destroy the mortar."

Impact on my mod Support Units - Snipers/marksmen
Because I changed the scale of the game to a company size, units are much larger and require a whole different philosophy in strategy. In BK, two snipers can cut down a six man squad quickly and force a retreat in fear of a squad wipe, a squad of nine won't think too much about a single sniper except maybe psychologically. Snipers have become support units at most in my mod. They provide extra "damage" and morale affects (damage and health are done differently in my mod) on squads rather than become single operating units themselves. Relative range, they actually have the same as other units but they fire with more accuracy to give that little boost/edge in a fight. In fact, it gets really interesting when you include the "tunnel vision" feature. What I've done in my mod is, if an infantry squad is in combat, they get "tunnel vision" which means they get a cone of vision instead. This coupled with the beta fog of war means that you can divert a unit's attention by engaging in a fire fight, then maneuvering assault units to flank or putting supporting units like snipers on the flanks to pick off units safely behind the beta fog of war. This makes vision heavily dependent on formation. For example, blobs will have huge tradeoffs and can be intentionally or unintentionally. Lets say a player wants to take a clausewitz approach to attacking, they create a huge blob to pressure a single point in an enemy defense. The blob runs the risk of being massacred just from vision because if they all get engaged simultaneously, then a player will be vulnerable to many blind spots.
Anyways back to snipers, if a squad faces a sniper, that squad will put so much fire on the sniper that sniper won't have a chance to cut down a 9 man squad fast enough without getting eaten alive. Snipers are supports at most even with the fog of war.

Re: CoH2 Mod, Fog of War and Truesight

Posted: 26 Nov 2016, 02:24
by Warhawks97
sounds pretty interesrting. Just i am not really into coh 2 in general. idk what exactly keeps me away from coh2. I think mostly the res system. idk if you changed something there.

The idea with arty as call in from spotter and radio men sounds good. Mortars also in theory. But for coh 2 engine with coh2 map sizes i am not sure if it works out as you intended it. Also how the high cost of mortars work along coh 2 res system. Especially when taking the upkeep also into acc. In coh2 you run very quickly into very low incomes. This also means that players are less likely to risk a unit which slows down games. And the general unit destruction and replacment rates might be slow. It might look at the end like axis (PE) and CW as only factions. High cost, long time to create fully capable army and thus very carefully playing. Some maybe like it idk. But isnt it somehow men of war style?

I mean your ideas arent bad. Just combined with coh2 ressource system..... I am trying to imagine this idea in current coh1 BK mod and the maps and res system.... I would say it would even work out better there as in coh2.

Re: CoH2 Mod, Fog of War and Truesight

Posted: 26 Nov 2016, 07:15
by kwok
Yeah, totally understand and I got some answers. Haha this is exactly why I wanted your opinion and maybe even some ideas.

About the resource system, it is actually so much simpler to control that CoH1 which really really helps. At first I didn't like the res system either, but now I very much prefer it as a modder.Because base manpower rate is more or less static and independent of the map, I can easily drive unit sizes to a company which is about ~100 men. Another thing I ended up doing which worked out really well was it's easy to create and replace units but there is this almost invisible cap that stops it from growing too far past ~120 men. With the battlegroup system, you can field a LOT of units really fast at a pretty low cost. Meanwhile, sudden upkeep from the huge growth in units stops the unit composition size from becoming too great.
So far from tests, it seems like at first people are just not use to the game so they lose units really fast (due to a whole other set of factors). That being said, after some more games they start to figure stuff out and start playing too safe just because they are still learning. But, after players have learned more about everything, they start becoming a LOT more dynamic. So for example, among more experienced players you get unit compositions with maybe 2 tigers OR 1 tiger and a couple of panzer ivs. They can lose that one or two tigers, but it wouldn't hurt them as much as it did in BK because it freed them from their upkeep so they can nearly immediately replace their unit. But, there is still a delay for that replacement, which is enough time for the enemy to gain some ground. In the end, between two relatively equal players you really get this prolonged fight of back and forth with constantly shifting front line.

My fear here though, is that I can't scale to map sizes and small maps (which players will no doubt tend to lean towards) will just make the game unplayable unless i compromise my ideals of the mod.
To my surprise, among a lot of testers, small maps is really playable and almost exciting. On large maps, units tend to take strategic positions and throw attacks at each other through more large macro moves. So less front lines and more operational actions. But on small maps, you get this really interesting line across the entire map. It almost feels like chess, where you have a line of pawns for a front line and you micro minor pieces, like knights = cars, bishops = support units, rooks = tanks, etc. to make operational strikes against the enemy front line. Sometimes players will collide in one area and fight it out. Other times, players might just attack each other simultaneously on different fronts trying to take each other's side and hoping the defensive formation they set on the other side of the map works out. It really feels like two different games, both are actually really fun.
You would think mortars become too strong on small maps, but because of how costs and resources works, taking a mortar has pretty large opportunity costs. I've seen mortars used much more sparingly because people will rather beef up their frontlines to strike harder or plug a hole in expectation for an attack.

These are all observations so far and definitely need more testing. in the beginning, resources was very tricky especially with many people with different opinoins. Some people really like smaller games with less units, some people wanted just spamming. But, I once I stuck with my principles I decided I want this company feel for my game, it was easy to balance and I've yet to have any complaints about resources no matter what map since adjusting. Of course, I'm always open to more criticism for people who play.

Re: CoH2 Mod, Fog of War and Truesight

Posted: 26 Nov 2016, 22:09
by Warhawks97
And how do factions and docs work out differently? When pretty much both sides fight with like equal sizes (you said 120 men, after that it becomes more tricky to get more). I mean did (or do) you simply give IS-2 to russians, pershing to US because axis have tigers? And at the end numbers are equal?

Coz for factional differences i would have a whole set of ideas based on their more or less realistic way to fight. In which parts they performed superior, what tools they used etc.

Besides that you just talked about mortars in general. But there are many different types. Small, 50-60 mm mortars that are cheap and pretty much everywhere behind the frontlines, 76-81 mm mortars that give more punch and then very heavy, almost arty like 120 mm mortars or larger that would really have high cost, big punch and low flexibility. How exactly do you consider that in your gameplay?

Re: CoH2 Mod, Fog of War and Truesight

Posted: 26 Nov 2016, 23:19
by kwok
Numbers are relatively equal infantry to infantry comparison. But, like you mentioned, vehicles make for an interesting mix and is more driven by fuel and map control rather than something static like manpower. So for example, numbers can the same but if one player is "winning" they may have a tiger and a couple of stugs/panzer 4s while the losing player might only still have stugs/panzer 4s.
So yeah, pershings are somewhat comparable to tigers, IS-2 hasnt been put in yet but they will be similar in fuel cost as well. But, they all have different trade-offs and characteristics with their own roles.

Factional differences are there, but are more focused on what "docs" are chosen rather than the factions themselves. For example, Russians will have the option to go a more stereotypical conscript numbers heavy composition. BUT, there is an option to choose something like guards rifle which is less numbers oriented but still russian.

So I would love to talk about the different types of mortars as soon as sega fucking lets us use other models. For now, there are only a few select types of mortars. I know there are a FEW other mortar types but I haven't included them yet but I imagine they would behave similarly or perhaps just have entirely different roles. For example, the larger mortar would only be able to fire a few shots with a lot of spacing in between shots making them only useful for taking out static emplacements because they won't be able to fire fast enough to really bombard general infantry.
But, I haven't come across more mortar types than the 50/81mm varieties yet. I do not play vcoh2 and am trying to avoid it while modding so I keep an open mind. I just cataloged all the available models to me but didn't look any more beyond that because I want to think of every unit and what value they can add as a unit, not necessarily what they were capable of historically. Maybe I missed some models.

Just a side example about deviating roles from history for the sake of gameplay: the panther has a very different role in my mod, it's more of a jackson equivalent rather than an all-around decimator. Meanwhile the Tiger plays the "all around" role but has a tradeoff of being generally expensive and clunky (it's fast but takes a while to accelerate so it really isn't that maneuverable, it relies more on positioning that straight up bulldozing at blitz speeds).