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kbluck
31 Mar 03, 16:35
Before I sound too critical, I'd just like to say that I find ATF very enjoyable and the best modern tactical wargame I've had the pleasure to play.

That said, there's always room for improvement, eh what? ;)

I've made some comment on artillery in the past. This time I'm concentrating on the actual process of calling for fire. In a nutshell, I think its way too micromanaged, especially considering the efforts made in other parts of the game to avoid that.

I don't think it should be necessary to select exactly which rounds are going to be shot out of exactly which tubes at exactly what time. After all, what are FDCs for, if not to make those sorts of decisions? As I recall, the call for fire does not require such details. Instead, you specify the type of target and sometimes the desired effect. You can specify specific ammo and fuzing if you wish, but the FDC is liable to veto your preference and substitute something else. I'm pretty certain no part of the call for fire even allows, much less requires you to specify exactly which guns will be firing the mission. The FDC sends that in its reply. Now, admittedly, I wasn't an FO --- they might have had more detail at their disposal. I don't think the intent of the game was to make the TF commander into an FO, though.

Speaking of FOs, it might be a useful game mechanic to provide such units as dismounts, as well as expanding the role of FISTs, and providing OPs for the enemy forces. As I recall, Threat forces were particuarly dependent on OPs and preplanning to control their fire. There ought to be speed and accuracy advantages to fire missions with targets in the LOS of an FO/OP. On a similar note, what about preplanned fires? It would be both helpful and realistic to be able to preplan targets; it essentially ought to cut out the compute time for such a mission. I would think that AMC missions might fulfill this purpose, but as far as I can tell AMCs get fired automatically once nothing else is left on the list , sort of the opposite of Immediate.

I've noticed that mortars take a rather long time to process a target before firing. Is this accurate, or am I doing something wrong? Should it really take an already-emplaced mortar section upwards of five minutes to get rounds in the air? Based on the vehicle specs it seems they should be shooting within two minutes, but it always seems much longer than that. Once they finally get around to firing, volleys go every 15 secs, as expected.

Thanks for your time,

--- Kevin

Pat Proctor
05 Apr 03, 00:20
I don't think it should be necessary to select exactly which rounds are going to be shot out of exactly which tubes at exactly what time. After all, what are FDCs for, if not to make those sorts of decisions? As I recall, the call for fire does not require such...

What do you want me to say? I'm an artilleryman.:D

Seriously, point taken. Perhaps an optional switch that automatically selects shell/fuze combination is in order.


Speaking of FOs, it might be a useful game mechanic to provide such units as dismounts, as well as expanding the role of FISTs, and providing OPs for the enemy forces. As I recall, Threat forces were particuarly dependent on OPs and preplanning to control their fire. There ought to be speed and accuracy advantages to fire missions with targets in the LOS of an FO/OP. On a similar note, what about preplanned fires? It would be both helpful and realistic to be able to preplan targets; it essentially ought to cut out the compute time for such a mission. I would think that AMC missions might fulfill this purpose, but as far as I can tell AMCs get fired automatically once nothing else is left on the list , sort of the opposite of Immediate.

In the mechanized/armor task force or brigade, there are only a few trained observer units. COLT's are usually dismounted or HMMWV mounted and inserted deep in zone. But these are seldom cut to the Armored/Mechanized Task Force, the topic of ATF. The mechanized infantry company has an FO per platoon, but this guy, is ill equiped, does not have any specialized equipment for observation (though he does have some digital devices for calls for fire) and, nine times out of ten, never gets out of the back of the platoon leader's Bradley. Like it or not, at the ATF level, the FIST-V is the main observer.

Of course FO's are much more important in light infantry organizations, but this is not the topic of ATF. Stand by for Air Assault Task Force.;)

The enemy DOES employ FO's in ATF. They are commonly called DRT's (Division Recon Teams) or are simply enemy fire teams throughout your zone. The DRT has a long view range and can direct PGM's, though they are seldom employed by the enemy AI (he has so much artillery, it is a waste of time).

AMC is not implemented in ATF. It's presence in the Fire Order dialog is a bug that will be rectified in v 1.02.

Planned fires, realistically, will not be implemented until AATF. We wanted to include it in ATF, but were trying to strike a balance between pleasing customers who had already waited a year past projections and adding "just one more feature...".


I've noticed that mortars take a rather long time to process a target before firing. Is this accurate, or am I doing something wrong? Should it really take an already-emplaced mortar section upwards of five minutes to get rounds in the air? Based on the vehicle specs it seems they should be shooting within two minutes, but it always seems much longer than that. Once they finally get around to firing, volleys go every 15 secs, as expected.

I will take a look at this and get back to you. It should not take significantly longer than an Artillery mission to calculate Mortar missions. I think we have the rate of fire right, though.

kbluck
05 Apr 03, 14:48
Thanks for your reply!

Yes, I take your point about the Blue dismount FOs. I kind of recall that behavior, now that you mention it. As a task force engineer, I seldom had a chance to see what the infantry guys were doing. It was always "dig this" and "emplace that" and "can't your f-ing ACE driver read a map?" Ah, good times...
:rolleyes:

Anyway, I'm less worried about selecting ammo than I am about having to pick firing units. As I mentioned before, it makes it really difficult to keep your batteries rolling properly when you have to worry about which battery is firing what. I'd like to see the Fire Order dialog allow you to specify the size of the mission (gun, platoon, battery, battalion, or just plain rounds per volley), and let the AI figure out which pieces are ready and able to fire the mission when its turn comes around. That would eliminate a major bit of complexity in the game... at least, complexity for the player... I'm sure its much more complicated for you, the programmer.

Speaking of OPFOR FO/dismounts, I still think they're way too easy to spot. I have no difficulty just driving my scouts up to each in turn and wasting them with .50cal. I don't find that realistic. I think you should need aggressive dismounted patrolling to find them. Admittedly, the start point may not allow for such operations, since the game usually seems to begin at the end of the recon phase. Personally, I wouldn't mind playing out the recon fight and even the deployment/emplacement phase before that, although some might find that a bit too boring. If you do want to abstract it, perhaps just leaving notations on the operational graphics about suspected dismount positions without actually showing the unit would suffice, and if the player is concerned enough to do something, they could preposition a patrol in the vicinity. Hey, how about a mission type... recon and counter-recon patrol missions for dismounted units.

Bottom line, I've seen over and over in wargames, computer based and tabletop, when mechanized units are the focus, dismounts get short shrift and are usually considered rather worthless. Unfortunately, that trend continues with ATF. Dismounts tend to be stuck in a preposition where they hopefully will get an eyeful of the enemy before being inevitably annihilated. On the attack, they either ride to their doom forgotten in the back of the carrier, or else again get prepositioned out of sight of the enemy, in which case they end up being useless, or in sight, in which case they might offer some value but are usually exterminated in short order. This just doesn't jive with my experience in mechanized task forces, where leg infantry is always in chronic short supply to perform too many essential tasks. I think the key to expanding their role is reducing their visibility to mounted units. Tankers fear running across an unseen nest of infantry, and players should fear it in the game, too.

I know, I know, wait for Air Assault... :bored:

Thanks for all your hard work!

Regards,

--- Kevin

amrcg
07 Apr 03, 11:34
Hi

Kevin:
>I don't think it should be necessary to select exactly which >rounds are going to be shot out of exactly which tubes at >exactly what time. After all, what are FDCs for, if not to make >those sorts of decisions? As I recall, the call for fire does not >require such details. Instead, you specify the type of target and >sometimes the desired effect.
For call for fires and other artillery practical aspects, I've found an interesting presentation:
sill-www.army.mil/fscaod/bfsb/OBC%20Classes/TB02SM.ppt

Captain Proctor:
>AMC is not implemented in ATF. It's presence in the Fire Order >dialog is a bug that will be rectified in v 1.02.
>Planned fires, realistically, will not be implemented until AATF.
=(. What about in a future expansion pack?

Best regards,
Antonio

Pat Proctor
08 Apr 03, 01:23
There are not going to be any expansion packs, in the traditional sense of the term, for Armored Task Force.

We are currently at work on the version 1.02 upgrade, which is presents massive increase in the feature set for the ATF Scenario Builder, as well as adding two new maps and, possibly, a new scenario. All of this will be absolutely free.

Air Assault Task Force will be a stand alone game. It will have a lot of innovations, which we are still working on in the design phase, which will make it a distinct, separate product. We hope to allow backwards compatibility, so that ATF scenarios built by players can be played in AATF, but no promises right now.

Planned targets are going to be a feature of AATF. In fact AATF will place an emphasis on the planning phase, simulating the MDMP (military decision making process) that takes place in real army staffs prior to a battle.

But that is enough appetite whetting for now.:p