Jump to content


Photo

Ultimate General - Civil War


  • Please log in to reply
57 replies to this topic

#41 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 28 March 2018 - 1559 PM

Played my next two major battles and I see how they keep the narrative the same in the campaign as in real life.  In both I wasn't the main focus of whatever campaign was going on.  I was the delaying force covering the retreat of the main army (which had failed).  Simple approach and no real complaints.

 

Finally starting to run into issues in camp between battles.  I have enough men, have upgraded weapons in about half my units (and all my arty)... I'm just running out of money.  Between every battle now I basically get awfully close to 0 whereas for a while I was several hundred thousand in the positive.  It's only 1862, too, and I'm maxed out in Politics (which boosts my rewards after battle).  The future should be interesting...

 

All in all I'd still rate this game in the 90/100 range.  Along the lines of what was said before having a real campaign option would be amazing but the development costs of something like that is probably far beyond the studio right now.  Maybe in a few years?


  • 0

#42 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 04 April 2018 - 1223 PM

This may be better suited to the Military History forum, but the gaming ties are fairly big...

 

A big problem with games in general (be it Ultimate General or WoT) is the limitation and influence that maps impart on gameplay.  Basically, in both, the extreme limitation of maneuver options heavily implacts how players play.  In WoT, for example, bad players will often hug the side or rear of a map because it's 'safe'.  Their situational awareness only has to be focused into very small areas (whereas on some maps the good players are the ones who are willing and capable of going into middle positions where in theory they need to be aware of every direction to survive).  In games like Ultimate General you are often given maps so small your army stretches from one edge to the other.  Again, your focus is so narrow there's a noticeable impact on decision making.

 

So what was interesting was I just finished a major battle in Ultimate General, Malvern Hill, where the last phase of the fight the map expanded into this huge zone where my army front was maybe a quarter the length of the map?  The square footage my army took up probably wasn't even 5% of the map.  In short, it was both amazing and terrifying because I felt so alone and isolated and for what felt like the first time in a gaming experience like this I was made painfully aware there's a lot more ground out there.

 

The instructions for the battle stated there was a chance I could be attacked from a far off approach nowhere near my line.  As such I had to divert troops to observe major roads and crossings.  No attack ever came from those directions and I don't know if it's because the AI chose not to or there was never really a possibility of that happening (there were some spotted enemy units but never enough in number to be a threat).

 

When I look up these battles on wiki after playing them, and the same applies to the battles I studied of the Napoleonic Wars (my first PC wargaming experience was Talonsoft's Waterloo), was that the fronts in these fights were basically connected and you never really had any sizeable force separate from this line.

 

So the question is... why is that the case?  Were there ever these far off maneuvers in a battle in this era away from the main line?  If not... why?  My first theory is due to the limitations of C&C and human nature.  Sending a unit far off to make such a maneuver means you won't be able to effectively communicate with them.  That bit of human nature, the one where the players in WoT often take inferior positions to feel 'safe', likely also plays a part in real warfare.  I imagine there's some psychological benefit to being tied in with every other unit in a visually and physical way.


  • 0

#43 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

    Of the Veronica Cartwright Ilk

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 46,418 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eloiland

Posted 04 April 2018 - 1256 PM

Played my next two major battles and I see how they keep the narrative the same in the campaign as in real life.  In both I wasn't the main focus of whatever campaign was going on.  I was the delaying force covering the retreat of the main army (which had failed).  Simple approach and no real complaints.

 

Finally starting to run into issues in camp between battles.  I have enough men, have upgraded weapons in about half my units (and all my arty)... I'm just running out of money.  Between every battle now I basically get awfully close to 0 whereas for a while I was several hundred thousand in the positive.  It's only 1862, too, and I'm maxed out in Politics (which boosts my rewards after battle).  The future should be interesting...

 

All in all I'd still rate this game in the 90/100 range.  Along the lines of what was said before having a real campaign option would be amazing but the development costs of something like that is probably far beyond the studio right now.  Maybe in a few years?

 

You have made some good posts, and I dont have the time to address them right now. But it strikes me, you are probably making too many of your units veterans. I usually keep maybe 2 or 3 brigades at elite (more if and as when I have the resources for it) but keep the rest as cheap cannon fodder. Use them up first, and then flank with the elites, or use them in desperate death or glory operations. You can very easily make so many elite units, you use up all your money, and you have a massive stack of manpower you cant afford to use.

 

It really is fun isnt it? I really must spend some more time on it, ive been spending a lot of time on the DCS harrier at the moment, but I certainly will come back to it. The main limitation for me is the lack of multiplayer. To get that you have to buy Gettysburg, but it would be nice to have it as part of a full multiplayer campaign.


  • 0

#44 Ssnake

Ssnake

    Virtual Shiva Beast

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,583 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hannover, Germany
  • Interests:Contemporary armor - tactics and technology

Posted 04 April 2018 - 1450 PM

A big problem with games in general (be it Ultimate General or WoT) is the limitation and influence that maps impart on gameplay.

 

Yes, the "safe flank" problem.

We tried to address this in Steel Beasts by duplicating the map in every direction, and the ability of mission designers to place units outside of map boundaries. That way you have, at least in principle, the means as a mission designer to put the player into a bigger context and to create threats on all flanks that may not actively attack him, but at least will take shots of opportunity if the player decides to always skirt the map edges.

Likewise, we added penalty zones that can be adjusted for the type of penalty ranging from very mild to severe, and how quickly they will be applied for venturing out of the designated battle area.

 

The fundamental problem is of course that terrain is either generated procedurally, or from geoinformation systems. The latter requires access to digital terrain databases and the tools to convert the data into your proprietary format that is tailored to deliver optimal performance. Typically these maps look less impressive (but can be huge). Or you have hand-made maps that come with a potentially very high level of detail, but since they are generated by human designers you have a direct relation between map size and the costs to generate such a map (which is quadratic, unfortunately).

So, in game design you tend to keep the map as small as can be justified, but what some game developers fail to appreciate is that the map size has a direct implication on your game design and the way how people will play it. Where the awareness exists (no doubt, wargame designers are very well aware of the issue) the question then is one of trade-offs. Do you want complete freedom of maneuver? Then you need to scale back the size of the force that the player is supposed to control, until it can realistically cover only a ninth of the mapped area. But most players like it big, so as you scale up the size of the formation/tactical level you want to hand over to the player (while keeping the maps as large as you can afford), you inevitably shrink the freedom of maneuver once that your force occupies more than the center square.

 

At the end of the day this is as much a question of what type of game you want to design vs what type of game you can afford to develop. Commercial considerations drive design decisions at least as much as artistic vision.


  • 0

#45 Harold Jones

Harold Jones

    Shaken but not deterred...

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,478 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Armor, History, Fishing and Beer

Posted 04 April 2018 - 1737 PM

I can remember reading articles in the war gaming press about the problems posed by map edges and their distortion of game play.  Grant tried numerous times to get his armies pull off wide ranging maneuvers but it rarely worked, C&C limitations, weather, lack of maps, overly or not sufficiently aggressive commanders, and unanticipated moves by the southern armies all played a part in foiling his plans at one time or another.


  • 0

#46 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

    Of the Veronica Cartwright Ilk

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 46,418 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eloiland

Posted 05 April 2018 - 0527 AM

I think the C and C problem was the real issue there. If one remembers, even Napoleon had this problem controlling far flung armies. I seem to recall at Waterloo he had an Army corp entirely unemployed that might just have swung the battle. But it refused to march to the sound of the guns.

 

The Confederates at Gettysburg had their cavalry entirely off on its own operation unders Stuart, and remained uncommitted to battle on the first day. A point when it might just have swung the balance of the battle.

 

I dont think any Army really had this problem resolved till the advent of W/T. And there are comparatively few wargames (i can think of a series back in the 1980s) that manage the patient waiting for someone to respond to your commands via messenger, or even ignoring them entirely. If a wargame modelled that, it would probably be dismissed as a bug. :)

 

As far as Ultimate General, when replaying battles, they do seem to do different things, so I wouldnt dismiss those flanks as being irrelevant. Best to screen with skirmishers and mass where necessary.


  • 0

#47 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

    Of the Veronica Cartwright Ilk

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 46,418 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eloiland

Posted 11 April 2018 - 0230 AM

So I play the Union at the Battle of Shiloh. I win an absolutely heroic defensive battle, then go onto the offensive and retake all the victory points. Then with 20 minutes to go, the Confederate retake one of them, far too late for me to retake it. So I lose the entire battle. :D

 

This is a great game, but sometimes the design flaws drive you completely nuts.


  • 0

#48 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 11 April 2018 - 1144 AM

I'm going to skip the little intros before major battles now.  For 2nd Bull Run it wanted me to spread out my smallish army fairly considerably for no apparent reason (historical, I guess, but made no sense given the size of the force I had) and that ended up costing me badly.  From now on I'm just going to load in, look where the objective is, study the map, and go.

 

As for the flaws, yeah, they're there.  I'm trying to keep it in context (smallish studio and the game was fairly cheap even when initially released) and viewing it that way it's an amazing value for the money.  Compare that to another studio rolling in dough <cough>WG</cough> which can't get basic gameplay elements right in their product going on several years... :glare:  Viewed that way UG:CW is a refreshing reminder of what you used to be able to expect from games and game studios.


Edited by Skywalkre, 11 April 2018 - 1151 AM.

  • 0

#49 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 11 April 2018 - 1204 PM

 

A big problem with games in general (be it Ultimate General or WoT) is the limitation and influence that maps impart on gameplay.

 

Yes, the "safe flank" problem.

We tried to address this in Steel Beasts by duplicating the map in every direction, and the ability of mission designers to place units outside of map boundaries. That way you have, at least in principle, the means as a mission designer to put the player into a bigger context and to create threats on all flanks that may not actively attack him, but at least will take shots of opportunity if the player decides to always skirt the map edges.

Likewise, we added penalty zones that can be adjusted for the type of penalty ranging from very mild to severe, and how quickly they will be applied for venturing out of the designated battle area.

 

The fundamental problem is of course that terrain is either generated procedurally, or from geoinformation systems. The latter requires access to digital terrain databases and the tools to convert the data into your proprietary format that is tailored to deliver optimal performance. Typically these maps look less impressive (but can be huge). Or you have hand-made maps that come with a potentially very high level of detail, but since they are generated by human designers you have a direct relation between map size and the costs to generate such a map (which is quadratic, unfortunately).

So, in game design you tend to keep the map as small as can be justified, but what some game developers fail to appreciate is that the map size has a direct implication on your game design and the way how people will play it. Where the awareness exists (no doubt, wargame designers are very well aware of the issue) the question then is one of trade-offs. Do you want complete freedom of maneuver? Then you need to scale back the size of the force that the player is supposed to control, until it can realistically cover only a ninth of the mapped area. But most players like it big, so as you scale up the size of the formation/tactical level you want to hand over to the player (while keeping the maps as large as you can afford), you inevitably shrink the freedom of maneuver once that your force occupies more than the center square.

 

At the end of the day this is as much a question of what type of game you want to design vs what type of game you can afford to develop. Commercial considerations drive design decisions at least as much as artistic vision.

 

Forgot to say thanks for this response from the dev side.

 

The bit about the time it takes to do these maps sounds familiar.  I think OE, back when they were still working on AW, made some comments about the vast amount of time it took to make maps (and when they ended up being poorly made all the extra work needed to fix them).

 

I'm curious how far away we are from really decent procedurally generated maps in some games.  Combat Mission had some amazing random maps which were randomly generated and that's going on 20 years old.  They wouldn't be good enough for modern games but I'm surprised at the lack of progress along those routes in the time since.  Guessing many devs simply aren't looking at that option and investing the resources to further develop it?


  • 0

#50 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

    Of the Veronica Cartwright Ilk

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 46,418 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eloiland

Posted 11 April 2018 - 1220 PM

I mean my own personal perspective of map making (I did one for Steel Beasts, and have made a job out of doing it for trainsims for nigh on 6 years) there are digital mapping systems that can generate maps. But in many cases they end up a generic look, which somehow lack reality from what ive seen of them. They probably require a human input to make fixes and add heighted reality to them. Also, in many cases I think computer generated terrain probably puts in more detail than is always strictly necessary.

 

From trainsim, initially I was spending lots of time putting LOTS of detail in, when about 2 kilometres from the track you would never see it. And I was replicating terrain that was in real life completely empty, but in trainsim looked 'dead'. It was often a case of putting in heightened reality to create a parallax view whilst you move through the terrain, in some cases false, but as long as it looks genuine nobody really complains. I mean, if you were putting in war elephants then I guess people would notice, but...

 

You can see what I mean from this, this is one that I did.

 

Re Civil War, Ive noticed that playing the Union is different from the confederates. With the confederates you have to husband your resources, so it make sense with the limited manpower to have smaller numbers of units but max them out to elite, and make them as large as possible. With the Union, it makes more sense to have as many units as possible, even if they are 1000 men, and max the corps out. That gives you more breadth in manoeuvre, allowing you seemingly to exploit the limits of the Confederate line. Ive used this and so far had some success at Shiloh, Malvern Hill and Antietam with it.


  • 0

#51 Ssnake

Ssnake

    Virtual Shiva Beast

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,583 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hannover, Germany
  • Interests:Contemporary armor - tactics and technology

Posted 11 April 2018 - 1310 PM

I'm curious how far away we are from really decent procedurally generated maps in some games.  Combat Mission had some amazing random maps which were randomly generated and that's going on 20 years old.  They wouldn't be good enough for modern games but I'm surprised at the lack of progress along those routes in the time since.  Guessing many devs simply aren't looking at that option and investing the resources to further develop it?

 

The question is, who would go at lengths to develop a really good prodecural map generator.

For most popular games - those that are likely to make enough money so that the developer has the cash to finance the development of a really sophisticated procedural generator - huge maps are detrimental to the game experience. About the only guys who need both detailed and huge maps are wargame developers, particularly if their design involves a 3D view. And among the wargame developers that actually made a lot of money with a title, well, there's Combat Mission which was probably the commercially most successful wargame of all time. Like, they probably made 20x more profit than the next best performing wargame. So who, if not the Combat Mission developers could actually do it?

Note that with Shock Force they scaled back the player's task force size from battalion to company team, and that while the 3D artwork looks nicer, the map complexity hasn't increased as far as I can tell.

 

For us, specifically, the customers seem to be happy with pilfering real-life digital terrain databases and then brushing up a few spots by hand. I have a few ideas how we could at least give the map designers a few more tools at hand to prettify maps at least in places that are likely to be visited by human players, but the military isn't very much interested in geotypical terrain that you flood with procedural detail. _I_ would certainly love to do more, but at the end of the day you only have so many man-hours per year to spend on competing development goals that this is somewhere in the middle to lower third of a wish list that is several miles long.


  • 0

#52 Harold Jones

Harold Jones

    Shaken but not deterred...

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,478 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Armor, History, Fishing and Beer

Posted 11 April 2018 - 1720 PM

The funny thing is that if I remember correctly, the genesis  of Steel Beasts was a mapping program that Al created as part of his post grad work.


  • 0

#53 Ssnake

Ssnake

    Virtual Shiva Beast

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,583 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hannover, Germany
  • Interests:Contemporary armor - tactics and technology

Posted 12 April 2018 - 0128 AM

At least, a software based renderer for rolling terrain from a close-to-the-ground perspective. And then he started looking for an application case and thought, "Why not tanks? How hard can it be?"


  • 0

#54 Harold Jones

Harold Jones

    Shaken but not deterred...

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,478 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Armor, History, Fishing and Beer

Posted 12 April 2018 - 0757 AM

That phrase is the software equivalent of 'Kick it in the ass driver you can make it!'
  • 0

#55 Ssnake

Ssnake

    Virtual Shiva Beast

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,583 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hannover, Germany
  • Interests:Contemporary armor - tactics and technology

Posted 12 April 2018 - 0818 AM

In all fairness, I'm probably directly and indirectly responsible for 90% of the scope creep, which constitutes about 99% of all the work ever invested.


  • 0

#56 Skywalkre

Skywalkre

    Garry F!@#$%g Owen

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 8,314 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Phoenix, AZ
  • Interests:military history, psychology, gaming (computer, board, simulation, console), sci-fi

Posted 12 April 2018 - 1933 PM

 

I'm curious how far away we are from really decent procedurally generated maps in some games.  Combat Mission had some amazing random maps which were randomly generated and that's going on 20 years old.  They wouldn't be good enough for modern games but I'm surprised at the lack of progress along those routes in the time since.  Guessing many devs simply aren't looking at that option and investing the resources to further develop it?

 

The question is, who would go at lengths to develop a really good prodecural map generator.

My first thought - WoT.  The maps they put out are generally pretty bad.  When you factor in maps that have been reworked multiple times it's something like half of all maps they've released have been pulled.  That's a lot of work put in and money spent for nothing.  Some of the ones left are still not that great but apparently are left in just for the sake of diversity for the playerbase.

 

Before the 1.0 patch their maps also weren't that pretty or diverse.  Playing a WoT game on an old Combat Mission map would have been preferable, gameplay wise, to what players got before the recent rework.


  • 0

#57 Ssnake

Ssnake

    Virtual Shiva Beast

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 5,583 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hannover, Germany
  • Interests:Contemporary armor - tactics and technology

Posted 13 April 2018 - 0127 AM

But doesn't WoT go with hand-crafted maps?

I thought this was one of their design decisions, that they wanted to have relatively small maps that are generated in a controlled fashion so they can influence the way that these maps can be played, where choke points are, etc; in short, like a classic shooter game where players need to memorize levels if they want to be successful (by kill count metric). After all, WoT is more of an arena fight than it is a wargame.

 

Also, note that - irrespective of their artistic value and excessive slope gradients, the maps are very detailed, and in a way that still looks functionally OK. Maybe they are procedurally pregenerated, but at the end there's still a lot of human effort in the creation of these maps. And even at Belorussian wage levels, the amount of effort that needs to be put into terrain generation is probably the commercially limiting factor for the map sizes.


  • 0

#58 Stuart Galbraith

Stuart Galbraith

    Of the Veronica Cartwright Ilk

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 46,418 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Eloiland

Posted 17 May 2018 - 0324 AM

New mod for this has come out, with the blessing of the devs. Not tried it yet but seems to buff some interesting things.

http://forum.game-la...andakraut-5118/


  • 0




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users