View Full Version : ATF Demo

Saber 12
03 Oct 02, 13:38
Anybody playing the demo? Any thoughts?

I'm starting to get familiar with it. I really like the ability to choose formations for companys/platoons and give 'em missions. Really saves setup time.

Have noticed that you need to be careful with moving artillery-the batteries tend to want to default to "don't emplace" & "march speed". But sometimes I need to do a hip shoot while sprinting from Positional Area to Positional Area. I always sprint my arty anyway so don't have much use for march speed for those guys.

Would like the ability to create ad hoc sections/platoons & give them specific orders too, dismounted infantry for example. And give an NCO the leadership slot. I've found a workaround by using the grouping tool. Would also like the ability to view by section.

Also very interested in the multiplayer feature. In that vein it'd be cool in the fire mission window to select a target by inputting the grid square. Teammate passes you a fire request with grid-FSO inputs the grid in his mission window. Shot, over....!

Anyway, I've preordered and am looking forward to the final package.

LP out

04 Oct 02, 06:47
I've pre-ordered as well. The ability to suppress is a nice addition, particularly when trying to breach enemy obstacles. I wish it supported 32-bit, but will settle for 16-bit. (my graphics card only supports 16 and 32.)

The formation option doesn't really consider terrain. I would not deploy my tanks and BFVs so close in the desert, particularly during movement to contact. I usually deploy over several kms. I find that in the game it's wiser to costume organize your formations to deal with the mission. In DVATTAK, I find my first mission is to make sure enemy DRT is taken out. That's because I have alot of trouble, even with March Speed, keeping my formations together. So I have to stop various groups to make sure the force doesn't become a long line of targets. The other reason is what you specified, I might need to stop and shoot artillery. That takes time. So I kill DRT, check what they could see with LOS, and move into somewhere on the outskirt of the dead DRT line of sight. DRT units might overlap, but this is less likely further away from enemy positions. So I put my artillery around between 181-359 degree of dead DRT best view, or where ever I feel the enemy will not have overlapping LOS.

Since I always move along my northern (or eastern) boundary, I usually have a small TF screen my left flank, moving ahead, killing DRT.

Anyway, I find it better to organize formations myself. Takes up more time, but is worth it.

As for multiplayer, I haven't tried it yet. I will though. It would indeed be nice to pass coordinates to your forces. CO-OP games will be a blast. We just designate one commander, and he gives everyone a section, with orders. Then the human force completes the mission. Or at least that's how I hope it will be. Fortunately, Capt. Proctor didn't go with the common trend these days focusing on multiplayer. I want to be able to play a nice game at home as commander. (I like to be the boss.)

The biggest disappointment I have right now with ATF is that it will not come with the database mod I so desperately want. I like making scenarios more than I do playing them. BCT Commander was nice, but is limited. Ex: Trying to factor in the skill of the soldier into weapon accuracy can be a nightmare. I almost turned the M82A1A sniper rifle into a tank gun trying to get accuracy. Also, I wanted more objective options. Ex: evacuating or protecting non-combatants. ATF will have non-combatants (the last time I checked). I want to make some NEO missions. I pray we will not have to wait too long for the mod.

the other disappointment is Capt. Proctor's unwillingness to release a map making plugin or something for players to make and import maps into ATF. He has two reasons for the decision:

1. Map making in both BCT and ATF is not an exact science. Program crashes often, and it's not entirely accurate or easy.

2. Capt. Proctor is concerned with copyrights and outside exploitation of the program.

I understand that, but it's still a disadvantage. Decisive Action allows you to use an almost endless host of maps. I mean we can make a scenario where ever we want. As I told Capt. Proctor, the strength of modern games is in the ability to modify them. I don't buy a game if I can't modify it. He said the database mod will be a free patch. I take his word for it, and understand his concerns over the maps, but still believe might be a disadvantage for ATF in the longrun.

Also, there is the PC problem. I find that ATF is somewhat sluggish when you zoom in close even on my moderately fast PC.

On the bright side, Capt. Proctor does make maps for free. He stopped right now because of ATF work. Also, the maps in both BCT and ATF are not exact, so you can use your imagination. And ATF will offer a wider range of player control. That is a plus for scenario editors.

Overall, Capt. Proctor likely has a winner on his hands with ATF. 3D maps, better control, key shortcuts, drag and drop task force assigning, suppression, various new artillery options, etc, all will combine to make Armored Task Force a great tactical wargame.

Dr Zaius
04 Oct 02, 07:50
I found the demo to be extrememly sluggish on an Athlon 900, 512 meg RAM, and a Geforce III video card. That's not exactly a slow system, but the game was practically unplayable at times (and that's in 16 bit color!!!). I have not reloaded it since I upgraded my computer to an Athlon 1800XP. It should perform much better now, but this could be an issue for a lot of people.

I agree about the map editor. The lack of it is a huge strike against ATF. I have already had this same issue out with John Tiller and he refuses to make a map editor available for any of his games. It's purely a marketing decision on his part. I can't blame him, but I think it's a 100% bad idea.

I found some of the graphics a bit strange. At times the unit graphics were so huge they crowded the screen, at other times the symbols were too tiny to make out. This system could stand some improvement.

Pat Proctor
05 Oct 02, 21:40

The map thing is purely a matter of the generator not being ready for primetime (though I won't lie and tell you I don't worry about our maps ending up in someone elses game).

We are looking at some solutions which may result in a more automatic map generation process. However, right now, the map generator really requires you to have access to the code in order to use it.

I am very concerned about the sluggishness. Drop me an offline e-mail with your system specs, particularly your graphics configuration. The game was developed on a slower system than you have and runs fine on everything we've tested from a 300 to a 1800.

Would like the ability to create ad hoc sections/platoons & give them specific orders too, dismounted infantry for example. And give an NCO the leadership slot. I've found a workaround by using the grouping tool. Would also like the ability to view by section.

This is totally supported in Armored Task Force. Hit 'H' or select 'Hierarchy Tree' from the 'View' menu. You can drag and drop any section into any platoon.

In ATF, platoon leadership is the building block for commands. "PSG's" (platoon sergeants) are equally capable of leading platoons.

And, finally, select "Show Vehicles" from the toolbar or "Vehicles" from the "Echelon" sub-menu of the "View" menu to see individual sections on the map.

Dr Zaius
06 Oct 02, 05:33
Welcome to the forum! We're glad to have you stop by CPT Proctor.

On the issue of sluggishness, I found that the problem was directly related to how many units were on-screen at the time and also what zoom level I was using. Sometimes the simulation ran fairly smoothly, at other times it would barely scroll at all. Since I first installed the ATF demo I have extensively rebuilt my computer, but I will send an e-mail with my original system specs. Here are the basics:

OS: Windows ME
CPU: Athlon Thunderbird 900mHz
Motherboard: KT7 Raid
RAM: 512 meg SDRAM (CAS 2)
Sound card: Soundblaster Live! (original model)
Video Card: Hercules Prophet III (Geforce III). I was using the detonator driver, but I really don't remember what version it was.
CD-ROM: Cendyne 16x40 CDRW

My current system is a lot more powerful, but I have not reloaded the demo yet. I'll try it later today and see what kind of results I come up with.

On the issue of a map editor, I fully appreciate your concern about copyright issues, however, IMHO not including it does more harm than good. Wargames are not like other PC games. They thrive right from the day the player makes his initial purchase on the idea of third party scenarios, campaigns, etc. Without a useable map editor, scenario designers are at a huge disadvantage and would have to rely on ProSim to create maps for them. Not a very happy state of affairs. As I said, I have had disagreements with other designers on this issue. John Tiller is well known for his stance on not including a map editor in his games. In his case it's simply a marketing issue (which I am convinced is self defeating), however, in his defense it must be noted that each one of the Panzer Campaigns/Modern Campaigns games come with a HUGE map covering the entire area that is dealt with in that particular system. Although the scenario designer can't create new maps, they have an editor which allows them to slice up portions of the larger map to be used as they see fit. The lack of a true editor isn't really an issue. ATF is a whole different story. I understand that the editor isn't ready for prime time in its current form and needs further refinement. I can also see your concern if the editor requires access to certain portions of copywrited code. I would still urge you to continue to hammer away on that issue. Perhaps you can come up with some sort of a compromise that will satisfy all parties.

ATF looks to be very interesting so far and it sounds like its going to get even better. Thanks for the update. :D

Dr Zaius
06 Oct 02, 10:13
Okay I have reinstalled the ATF demo and I'm happy to report performance is much better now. Here are my current system specs:

OS: Windows XP
CPU: Athlon 1800XP
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-7VRXP
RAM: 256 meg 2700 DDR
Sound card: Soundblaster Audigy Gamer
Video card: Hercules Prophet III (Geforce III). Detonator driver version
CD-ROM: Cendyne 16x40 CDRW

The game seems to scroll smoothly, even with lots of units on-screen. I'm playing at a resolution of 1024x768 (16 bit color).

Pat Proctor
06 Oct 02, 19:33
We are already working on the feature set for our next project, tentatively titled "Air Assault Task Force".

In this feature set was a re-work of the map editor. Perhaps we should reconsider the ordering of those priorities, so that it is moved to the front of the line.

The issue is that, right now, the terrain analysis which assists the AI in making pathfinding and unit placement decisions must all be input by hand. The process is painful, slow, and complicated to explain to someone who doesn't know what the AI does with the information. We plan to redesign the editor so that it develops this information on its own.

Also, DEM (digital elevation model) formats are so fluid that we often have to re-code the software to digest them. We will have to correct this problem as well.

Everything you are saying is right. We will take another look at it. But I won't lie and tell you a solution is a few days away.:(

Dr Zaius
05 Nov 02, 06:49
Originally posted by CPT Proctor
We are already working on the feature set for our next project, tentatively titled "Air Assault Task Force".

In this feature set was a re-work of the map editor. Perhaps we should reconsider the ordering of those priorities, so that it is moved to the front of the line.

I'm still not entirely clear whether Air Assault Task Force will be an add-on/ehnacement to Armored Task Force, or if this is going to be a stand alone simulation?

If it is a stand alone, will it include all the features of ATF, or will it be a different scale etc?

Pat Proctor
05 Nov 02, 17:13
We are still working out the feature set, so bear with me. But I can tell you what we are thinking.

Air Assault Task Force will be a stand alone product, meaning you will not need Armored Task Force (though we'd really prefer you had it :p ).

We are committed to providing some REAL, substantive innovation with every release we produce. In BCT it was command real time, realistic contour maps and, well, just about everything. With Armored Task Force, it is a hierarchy system, formations, and friendly AI orders (you can give high level missions like 'Assault' and 'Attack to Breach' to your units and they will execute in doctrinally correct and realistic ways.

Frankly, we do not know what innovation will make the final cut for Air Assault Task Force (we are still wading through the options and doing feasibility studies/ test coding). Even when we do settle on one (or some), we like to get a good head start before we announce, just so we can a) deliver what we promise and b) not get one-upped by a competitor.

That having been said, there are some gameplay options that the subject matter demands be implemented. You will have the capability to slingload equipment such as howitzers and HMMWV's for transport. The 'Insert Dismounts' AI order from Armored Task Force will be expanded vastly to simulate real air assault operations. Those are just the starters.

To whet your appetite, we are also considering adding the framework to simulate airborne operations as well, including parachute infantry and airdrops of equipment and supplies.