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View Full Version : Pre-mission buildup : Intel, Team, Kit and Planning



Defuser
03-17-2006, 03:55 PM
I thought I'd create a thread so that we can share our thoughts on the period before the mission actually occurs - the intelligence gathering stage (the briefing, the photoes, the file infomation on suspected terrorists etc.), the team choice stage (where each operator is chosen and put into a team), the kit distribution (where each chosen operator is then given the kit from a large pool of equipment, such as weaponary, tools and armour) and finally the planning stage (where a plan can be formed for the coming mission).

Intel

At this point in the mission, it's my first contact with what will be coming later on in the action stage. This should aim to achieve one thing and one thing only - the immerse the player into the action. This, I think, should be achieved by an in-depth storyline, with effort spent making each flashpoint seem like an independent incident, convincingly life-like situation that special forces would be called in to handle. To that end, what is required is briefings given with appropriate seriousness by professional voice actors with an appreciation that what is due to occur is a military action - so no hollywood epithets here. The intended audience for such briefings should be the operators themselves - so feel free to include plenty of military lingo and the suchlike to make the player feel like he is in a genuine military situation (again, building atmosphere and immersion).

The tangoes should, if they are a group independent from previous missions, be fully fleshed-out groups with beliefs and motivations for carrying out such an incident. We should be able to understand their actions, because in doing so we render them believable, and therefore more real. Such infomation on them could include lists of previous incidents believed to perpetrated by them (such as proper intelligence documents and newspaper cuttings), long-zoom photography from intelligence agents and other such miscellaneous data.

The location that is due to be hit should also be explained in some depth, so that the environment we find ourselves in has a sense of place and is not merely a level created at the whim of a designer. It should feel like it has stood for a length of time prior to that of the mission's occurance, with a history (and perhaps historical significance) and a reason for its importance. This is somewhat easier with existing landmarks, but to that end it would be best to include such data anyway, as not every player would be aware of such a target, or its significance.

Team

I think it is preferable to get a sense of the operators as real people, as this lends signifcance to their in-game lives and stops the player from thinking of them as disposable AI 'extra-lives' (should soul-switching be present). Obviously life-like AI is a dominating factor in such a situation, but nevertheless I don't think that is the be-all and end-all. The operators, like the tangoes and the locations themselves, must have a sense of having existed before the game took place. Not necessarily detailed infomation, but infomation none the less (such as age, weight, height, previous training, original unit, family etc.) lends creedence to the operators. If the game is appropriately realistic, we aren't going to be getting that much of an insight into their private lives while 'on-task'. Operators don't talk about their girlfriends or kids while on a mission (maybe on the way there... but not during an assault!), only in Hollywood do they do that. Operators are the most professional soldiers in the world. Their minds are focused on one thing and one thing only when moving into position for an assault - the mission. Don't patronise the player and take them out of the mission with crass and heavy-handed attempts at story-telling that challenge the boundaries of belief.

From here, we put the operators into various teams. Each operator needs to have the appropriate set of stats (the genre staples, such as stealth, leadership, stamina) for not just their physical capabilities but also their weapons handling - not every operator might be as good as each other with assault rifles, but some might be more at home with an SMG, or (god forbid) a pistol. Have the specialised team members, such as those designated as snipers, be good with both a sniper rifle AND a back-up, such as a pistol or an SMG. Don't have the mistake of Raven Shield where a sniper couldn't use a pistol for toffee (although the situations where a sniper would use a pistol should be few and far between if you're using a sniper properly). This would result in 'natural' specialisation instead of having to rely upon 'special' characters for certain things - obviously they would still be designated with their best ability, for ease of selection, but this shouldn't be the limit of the infomation about them. The different abilities (and the facility to look at them) shows us that the operators are individual people with varying skills and not the same bot repeated over and over with a differing visual representation and voice set - it takes us further into the game's atmosphere and adds an extra layer of strategy. For those who want to skip this stage, a pre-chosen team consistent with the a pre-chosen plan would make selection easy.

Kit

Kit selection should be as painless as possible - weapons arranged into class, with a brief blurb of infomation detailing their vital statistics (caliber, weight, range, muzzle velocity) and the attributes based upon such infomation (manouverability, recoil, reload speed etc.). Don't make some weapons artificially better or worse than others. While variety exists in weaponary, such variety should be consistent with real life. Don't make an assault rifle fire more slowly, or have more recoil, than its real counter-part just to provide an alternative to an existing one. To that end, leave us with a functional set of appropriatly varied weapons, and not a huge list of weaponary that is as ineffective as it is needless. Do, however, include a wide variety of modifications and adjustments - and allow us to attach more than one. Foregrips increase manouverability (at the expense of an under-slung masterkey), tac-lights allow us to illuminate areas (at the expense of night-vision), sights mounted on the rail allow us to get a better view of our target (at the expense of being able to use the ironsights or an aimpoint), a foldable stock allows, again, greater manouverability but greater instability. Suppresors allow (relative) silence but subsonic rounds render them less-powerful and with a smaller range...

As with real life, each kit option has its advantages and its disadvantages. As in real life, certain kit choices will rise to dominance as they are more preferable in cerain situations in combat - foregrips becoming necessary on rifles with long-barrels and therefore a lack of manoverability, for example. Give us a chart that shows such infomation being dynamically altered by the addition of modifications, so that we can see our adjustments on the fly. Don't assume the player is an idiot and cannot manage to make the mental leap that a combination of adjustments makes for a better (or worse) weapon, or would make the multiplayer unbalanced. If the game is consistent with real-life, then one weapon MAY rise to dominance, but even with the best attempts at gamebalance the one or two 'best weapons' will be found ANYWAY. Give us at least some reality and an attempt to discover the best weapon for the job (whatever that may be). By making the weapons behave genuinely, you have a world in which the variety of weapons, and their unique attributes, makes for the appropriate level of variety. The relevant weapons should dominate in the relevant areas.

Armour should be much the same as before - I don't recommend making the selection needlessly complicated with things such as balaclava choice or whether to wear a particular type of gloves, or a certain holster. Armour should be put into different 'roles' - 'Breacher / Demo', 'Assaulter', 'Recon', 'Sniper' (ghillies if necessary)... but don't limit the player to just the one based on their team member. Allow us to make the mistake, or mix and match. Of course, realism and conventional wisdom dictates that a certain choice is more preferrable than others, but allow us the CHOICE. Allow us to have a sniper go in with the assaulter's wear and see how much it affects his manouverability and camoflage. Let us make that mistake.

That's another thing that the armour should be consistent with - camoflage. In CQB, this is largely irrelevant, but the addition of varying scenarios, like recon, in varying weather conditions, like snow, could make going out in all-blacks a serious mistake. For sniping, stealth is the optimum (when you're lining up your scope on that guy's head from another building, he shouldn't see your human shape on that rooftop through the window and get spooked), so camo choice here should be paramount. It would add an extra layer of strategy, be pretty self-explanatory (who in their right mind would go for a snow mission in anything other than white?) and an extra-layer of realism and immersion.

I won't touch heartbeat sensors or pucks or anything like that because I don't approve of them nor do I think they should be included. I understand this is controversial as they are a part of Rainbow lore (despite the fact that in the book, it was accessible via laptop, not a hand-held sensor), but if anything should make a return, it's the 'goggles' from RvS as that was a very effective way of incorporating them - despite the fact that real operators do not make use of such a device. Tactical aids, such as breaching charges and the various types of grenades should make a return, as should the demo and lock-picking kits of old.

Finally, a few pleas as regards the kit selection - please allow us to save load-outs, so that we can select an optimum selection and not have to go through kitting out repeatedly for similar situations. Include a few pre-made load-outs for those unsure of how to outfit their team, so that they can gain an understanding of what is appropriate - like a 'sniper' load-out, or a 'breacher' load-out. This streamlines play and provides some tutorial for the beginners. Also allow us all the equipment for every mission. Don't limit us because you think we're too stupid to work out what works best.

Give us the choice. With appropriate training, intuitive and ergonomic menu screens, with concise and illustrative infomation about each kit item, we can make the right decisions quickly, painlessly and with some insight. These are complicated things that can be made to appear very simple with the right look - drag and drop, tooltips, dynamically scaled charts detailing the pros and cons of each kit item, and saveable pre-sets all provide much help.

Planning (this is copied from another thread with some additions)

We look at a rough/detailed map of the mission (depending on intel) and choose insertion points AND METHODS for said teams (such as fast rope, rapelling, or just on foot). When it comes to breaching the building, we can choose a variety of methods, such as detonation of diversionary charges and breach, blowing out the doors/windows, picking the locks, sledghammering a window in, shotgunning the hinges out... you get the picture - all of course depending on the team in question's kit. From then on, the orders are simply 'clear the floor' in a variety of methods (with different ROEs and speed). The AI should be able to calculate when each tactical aid should NOT be used, such as a frag in a room full of hostages. On the map is an objective marker pointing out hostages. At that point, the next order is 'wait for go code' or simply assault (in a variety of methods, some outlined above). In addition to the regular orders there should 'escort hostages to extraction' taking the hostages through an appropriate exit route.

So what you have is a map with a series of 'hotspots' in which you can place teams and specify how they assault. Not only would this simplify planning to the extent that you wouldn't NEED to put down waypoints, as they already exist in a skeleton sense you just need to put teams to them, but the AI would eliminate the vast majority of tedious refinement needed to produce a decent plan. The plans should have a varying number of hotspots depending upon the complexity of the operation, further operations having more opportunity for technical but non-the-less easy to instantiate plans. It should ideally make the player have to think about tactics, but not have to spend tedious hours laying down waypoints in every room they want cleared.

This makes great claims of the AI but it allows for maximum functionality and flexibility WITHOUT compromising tactical depth. With an appropriate interface, this could look incredibly simple. All these things need NOT look complicated with the right look.

Final Thoughts

Ok, let's open this discussion up to floor. A lot of what I have posted is consistent with previous Rainbow games, but in some cases with minor improvements, or certain additions. Now while a lot of this is present in previous games, I think it is vitally important that these aspects of the series be carried across into further iterations. This game's interface can be steamlined and adjusted to look childishly simple but belie a great deal of tactical depth. At every stage, the decicion should be made to revert to a prior 'best case scenario' plan that is pre-made to allow the user to skip things they feel are unecessary or too complicated for them. Allow them to learn by example.

Malleus.
03-17-2006, 04:38 PM
I think the planning is good already, with waypoints gocodes and milestones and everything. What I think would be logical is to put the planing phase BEFORE the team selection and kit selection phase. Like "Intel, Map/Planning, Team, Kit". Because in the previous games, you have to choose your operatives, organize them into fireteams, and equip them _without even knowing the layout of the map_. Countless times I had to go back to change operatives or their gear, because I realized my earlier setup won't work on the given mission / with my plan.

reggo
03-17-2006, 06:29 PM
Defuser,

Thanks for your post, it illustrates how I 'envision' the pre-mission myself.

I just want to re-express some points.

1) Maximum choices. I'm fed-up of UBI taking players for idiots. Give us all the choices and the freedom to experiment. If a player is afraid of having to choose or to experiment, give him a default load-out/plan/whatever.

2) Real weapon characteristics! Stop balancing weapons for multi-player, it's totally ******ed and arcadish. Also, it's about time you give us REAL weapon stats (weight in kg, range in meters, muzzle velocity in m/s, etc).

3) CAMOFLAGE! In RvS, it made no sense of being perfectly able to play a winter mission in all-blacks. Tangos must be able to detect us much more easily if we use clothings that doesn't blend with the surroundings.

4) Yes to planning, but no to micro-managing! There should be a way to set up a plan without spending hours setting thousands of waypoints. The 'hotspot' concept is a step in that direction. When a team is asked to clear a room, the AI should be able to do it by itself with some autonomy. In other words, the planning should be done much closer to the real world.

Well, I was about to re-express many other points, but I simply hope the DEVs will read Defuser's post MANY MANY MANY MANY times. Everything is there!

---

@ Defuser,

Please, don't use the word 'complicated'. It scares the DEVs. Nothing is complicated. It's about time they understand this and they stop thinking the player is stupid. Some things have some 'amount of complexity', but nothing is complicated.

The only reason that would make something end-up complicated would be if the DEVs wouldn't know the meaning of 'ergonomics'. However, if they went to school (I assume that yes) and they know the meaning of that word, then every aspects of the most rigorous R6 should be simple!

---

By the way, Geiger and Chadi, what do you think about all that ?

Defuser
03-17-2006, 07:43 PM
Ah yes, I apologise for my over use of 'complicated'. I realise that may scare people off. When you realise what we are asked to do, which is read intel, choose a team, kit out said team, and plan an operation, that is in itself a seemingly 'complicated' task. The genius of the R6 series is that it has always rendered this process with relative simplicity, as a step-by-step process. I do think, however, that this can be simplified and streamlined further (the interface) without compromising depth (gameplay).

I had a few ideas about interface for planning, so I thought maybe I'd knock up a few screenshots of what I think might look good. I enjoy playing amateur games designer for a while! I realise I'm not a professional, and I couldn't code to save my life, but I like to try and be helpful to a game's development and suggest whatever I can, if I think it would be either an improvement or useful to the developers to get another opinion - which, of course, they don't have to listen to!

inappropriate
03-18-2006, 04:33 AM
Nice post Defuser.

Vert22110
03-18-2006, 09:20 AM
Great post.

I do think we should have the same, in-depth planning mode (I will refuse to buy the next Rb6 if it does not), yet I do think the in-game commands should be similar to SWAT4, with an easy to use drop down menu. The combination of both could create some interesting scenarios.

KungFu_CIA
03-18-2006, 01:03 PM
I'm glad Defuser made a post specifically about planning because I think THIS is the big "complicated" thing UBI keeps trying to say makes the R6 not "accessible" to the masses and why they are (most likely) trying to get away from it to a more on-the-fly, SWAT 4 style command interface.

I think planning should STAY... But I think it CAN and SHOULD be made simpler given today's advances in GUI Ergomomics and AI.

The cornerstone of what would make planning more attractive to the casual gamer -- And even to long-time veterans who mainly play MP and don't really like SP because of this complex process is this:

It must be an easy and intuitive interface on at the same level as an ATM at the local bank, where everyone MUST understand how to use it in order to complete their business or transaction.

As some of you have said, we start with the basic floorplan/3D model of the map we are assaulting.

The player can then set ONE way point at the insertion -- Or, the insertion itself is a waypoint -- And then just another one at a potential "hot spot" like a room which needs to be cleared.

Heck, maybe even the rooms are ALREADY marked with a waypoint as a tutorial or just as a general plan to begin with?

If this is the level of simplicity it takes, I am all for it as, again, I think the planning phase is the part of the game the developers don't want to deal with because they've gotten feedback from the previous games where players said they didn't use it NOT because they didn't want to, but because they didn't know HOW to use it because it takes too much time when most people want to jump right in and start shooting things.

Getting back to the actual planning mechanics...

In addition, the AI is smart enough to work their way to that room (waypoint) under the given ROE (Stealth; Assault) and take out any threats it may encounter along the way like randomly spawned patrolling centuries and whatnot.

When you are at the room, you right click and a submenu pops up which has a bunch of options and other submenus which keep branching:

-Breach and Clear
-Open, Flash & Clear
-Frag and Clear
-Open & Clear

-User Fiber Optic and Report Status

1) If Tangos and hostages are spotted:
A) -Open, Flash & Clear
B) -Breach and Clear
C) -Open & Clear
D) -Wait for Go Code.

E) -Wait for Orders (to be given in-game):

Based on the intel the AI team gives the player, he/she can then issue the following orders in the game:

Orders: -Hold and Report Status
Orders: -Open, Flash & Clear
Orders: -Breach & Clear
Orders: -Open & Clear
Orders: Stand Down, Proceed to Next Target

This is all within the planning phase (except the in-game orders, of course) because the AI is competent enough to carry out both the macro level (get to the hot spot) and micro level (Room Clearing and Go Code orders) multi-tasking which needs to be present in a game like this to simulate more of a real dynamic and LARGER game experience and not a static, "scripted" one like the old R6 games felt like with their overly complicated planning where every little thing had to be taken into account...

But that, ironically, was not flexible enough if something went wrong where the player needed more in-depth, in-game control of the teams.

This is why I suggest things like being able to tell the assaulting squad to actually stand down and leave a hostage and Tangos alone because instead of the suspected one, or two Tangos in the room, the game may have randomly -- on purpose -- Spawned five, or six Tangos and your team is not equipped to handle this many given their kits, armor selection, tactical aids, etc.

This is something a lot of games try and simulate -- in every sense of the world -- But don't actually achieve and that is a sense of throwing real, unpredictable scenarios at a player and actually giving the player the choice as to whether or not they want to attempt something and possibly fail -- key element -- Or try again later when they are better prepared.

The only games which I have played where devs give the players the option to fail and try again are RPGs where certain mini-game challenges and side-quests have better outcomes if your player character has better stats/allignments/equipment, etc.

I don't see why this can't and shouldn't be used in a combat simulator like R6 because unpredictability -- Which includes the possiblity of failure -- Is a huge part of warfare, on any level, and it should be present in a game that supposedly emphasizes real world solutions to real world problems such as terrorism and anti-terrorism techniques as the definition of tactics is being able to adapt to unforeseen problems.

Contrary to popular belief (TV; Movies), when things go wrong in a military operation, they go really WRONG and there is a very real possiblity the "good guys" being completely wiped out because of poor planning, bad intel, changing weather, unpredictable behavior on the part of the enemy, etc. and it is this part of the word "tactics" no game has every really addressed except for the early R6 games and GR to where you could try and assault a better armed opponent/stronghold and the possiblity was your entire team could get killed...

Which I don't think devs really encourage or give the choice of to the player anymore via game design models because it is all focused on instant gratification and accomplishment for very little effort, I.E. scripted scenarios where it seems like your team or main character player is about to be killed, but by just shooting a few bad guys here and a few bad guys there and holding on for a few minutes, it triggers a "rescue script" where the enemy who seemingly outnumbers you just withdraws, or reinforcements arrive, etc, etc.

This goes right back to what Reggo said, and that is game devs (not just UBI), have to start giving players more credit than they do and have to have more faith in them that if they give them the proper tools/training this is all the player needs to play the game successfully...

And, more imporantly, even if they do fail, it doesn't mean they are going to uninstall the game and return it, or not tell their friends to buy it because the one thing Lockdown proved is there is such a thing as a game which is too easy compared to a game which is too hard because I think most non-casual gamers -- key element -- Prefer games that are "too hard" as there is at least some motivation to attempt to beat the game which doesn't exist if you can breeze through a game in less than four hours on "elite" setting for example.

Ninja Gaiden is a prime example of a truly HARD game. Almost too hard in some respects... But still very fun.

The producers/devs made no bones about this and they did this because as gamers, they too got sick of games you could beat in less than six hours and that had no replay value even if the games spanned multiple locations and had varied plot twists and other staple elements.

In fact, Raven Shield, as unbalanced as it is out-of-the-box, is another prime example because even if the Tangos were inhuman with their aim, it is a heck of a lot more interesting than having paper-cut-outs like Lockdown had to where they literally just sit there and wait for the player to shoot them with absolutely no challenge whatsoever like in some static duck-hunt game you'd play at a carnival for example.

Developers must give players back the option to FAIL -- as in be killed, outnumbered, outgunned, out manuvered -- As this is what made the original R6 and GR games the most realistic of all and gave true meaning to the words tactics and tactical as tactics is more than just using a realistic damage model, or using real world weapons, locations etc. Tactics and tactical means THINKING and part of thinking is taking into account you CAN'T win in a certain situation and knowing when to fall back because this is what is prevelant through out the history of real world combat: Knowing WHEN you are beat and when discretion is the better part of valor...

Or, more appropriately to back up what I am saying, NOT knowing when to retreat and charging ahead full force and getting everyone under your "command" killed, brutally and without compunction by the enemy -- Even if it is all simulated and in a video game.

This is why I think R6, both console and PC, need to start looking at other games which really ARE tactical and don't just claim they are because of the damage model alone.

Full Spectrum Warrior (the Army version) is the most tactical game I have ever played because it literally is an RTS at the micro level (if that makes sense?), but it forces you to THINK about what you are doing and not just worry about the damage model being used. In FSW:AV, you have to worry about windage for long range shots, civilian presence, and where you move your teams for both cover and not crossing fields of fire because if one team is in front of another, the team beind them will not engage an enemy no matter what in fear of wounding/killing the other fire team in front of them. These are elements real soldiers have to contend with when in a combat situation.... Not just worrying about a "realistic damage model". This is only half the equation and I personally think R6 has been lax in not expanding or capitilizing MORE on other aspects of what being "tactical" is -- Even on a CQB, small-squad level -- And other games are starting to catch on and do them better like SWAT 4 and others where the option of failing AND having to do something over is emphasized is left entirely up to the player.

Defuser
03-18-2006, 01:57 PM
I thought about a few additions:

When we start the mission, we should have a pop-up with 'Quick Information' listed on it. Before we hear any intel, we have a box that we click 'OK' on (that can be disabled for the hardcore with a checkbox saying 'disable this'). In it, we have information such as:

Situation:
'12 Tangoes'
'4 Hostages on 2nd Floor'
'1 Bomb in Basement'
'3 Floor Building'
Recommended:
3 Teams, Assault
1 Sniper

Variations on this could include;

Situation:
'14 Tangoes'
'1 Intel item in Garage'
'Training facility with 4 buildings'
Recommended:
3 Teams, Stealth

and so on...

This is very basic most information available to the player to enable them to get an immediate sense of the situation. In this respect they don't need to (should they want to) sit through masses of intelligence or expert analysis. All they need to know is;

How many tangoes
How many hostages
Where the hostages could be
What other objectives I have
What the location is
How best to attack

Upon clicking on the box, the player then goes into regular intel (or straight into it upon starting the mission should the checkbox have been enabled). In this respect, the player can now have the in-depth information should they require it.

I also thought that during kit selection, rather than the player being presented with a complex chart of weapons statistics, the default set of information should be a very basic 'laymen's description', that would go something like;

'This weapon has excellent stopping power, with moderate range. It is moderately manouverable with high recoil.'

or...

'This weapon has moderate stopping power, with low range. It is highly manouverable with low recoil'.

I know this sounds particularly derivative (and the two examples posted here are almost polar opposites), but for bare-bones info for the casual player, it provides all the information necessary (or rather, instrumental to the laymen) without the need to look at charts full of information about muzzle velocity and the caliber. The charts and detailed information should still be present, all the player has to do is click on a tab to look at them (with a checkbox perhaps to 'make this screen default'), but they should not be the first thing the player sees - I think the principle that should be worked off is to assume the player is completely new rather than assume they have any kind of technical know-how.

This could be echoed for the team selection, with the initial information being:

'Ding is an expert with assault rifles. He is highly stealthy but lacks technical skill such as lock picking and bomb defusal. He is an excellent team leader'.

Clicking, again, a tab would show us the technical data (such as a full bio, and his characteristics perhaps presented as some kind of operative/training report instead of random statistics to somehow advance immersion and realism).

A well-structured training mode would alleviate concerns about technical know-how, but nevertheless it remains that the player may just jump straight in (in fact, most casual players probably would). I think the key is not to punish them for not knowing the ins and outs, but also to encourage them to gain a greater understanding of the game's strategy if certain plans come unstuck. It's difficult not to break the game mechanic by partaking in reductio ad absurdum, but the basic information should belie the greater tactical nuances within without compromising the gameplay. Most of the information pertinent to the mission can be conveyed to the player without need of extensive briefings that the serious player would appreciate. Likewise, most of the logic behind kit and team choices can be simplified without compromising the realism of how the firearms are modelled or their technical data.

Inevitably the player WILL have to learn at some stage the tactics behind room clearing and the such like, but the planning phase should be to just to facilitate the choices into action, without explaining in too much depth about what each decision should mean for the mission proper.

Advancing the hotspot model outlined earlier, the selections for each potential action (such as 'abseil and breach windows with charges') should have a brief description of its tactical ramifications (so the choice above would be 'much faster than lock picking, but stealth is lost'). Each action would have its pros and cons stated simply. Things such as picking locks to gain entry should be emphasised for their stealth, and their lack of speed highlighted. ROEs should be decided for PRE-BREACH, POST-BREACH, PRE-OBJECTIVE and POST-OBJECTIVE (again, all hotspots). Each ROE should have its pros and cons again explained in a boxout - stealth before the breach is paramount, but sometimes impossible depending on the situation, and could perhaps be dangerous if moving too slowly... you get the idea for each situation. You could go all out for stealth up until the objective on this model, or assault your way there. It would be as simple as clicking spots and the map and specifying the approach.

If this all sounds too simplistic, think back to the majority of the plans made in previous R6s. More often than not, all you wanted to do was get a certain team to a certain position, either stealthily or all-out assault, while another team did it's thing in it's own way, and then the objectives were assaulted, and then it was a case of moving to the extraction. Anything more detailed than that was usually positioning of snipers (normally in 'sensible' positions the designers had preplanned for anyway) or covering units. With hotspots, and appropriate AI, you don't have to fiddle with too much detail - all you do is;

Specify insertions and method (fast rope, abseil, ground pound, etc.) > ROE prior to breach
Specify breaching method (charges, sledge hammer, shotgun, lock picking, any + tactical aid, etc.)
Specify orders after breach (clear floor / area, head to objective, etc.) > ROE after breach
Specify objective to hit > ROE before objective
Specify method of attacking objective (breach, flash and clear, breach, frag and clear, lock pick and flash, etc.)
Specify orders after objective (clear floor / area, defuse, escort hostages, head to extraction, head to another objective etc.) > ROE after objective / ROE before next objective

Hopefully this seems logical and fairly ergonomic. I think the planning mode can be childishly simple without compromising depth. In this respect, it would be an utter crime to forego it altogether. That just seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Malleus.
03-18-2006, 02:13 PM
We'll need some really good AI for this kinda plans. In the old games, you could adjust the plan to give the AI more chance to survive (setting waypoints on a certain side of a corridor to avoid being seen from somewhere, etc.). According to this simple planning model, all of this "micro management" will be done by the AI. Sounds possible, but it could end up frustrating if the AI always get themselves killed in a certain place, and you can't refine the plan to avoid it.
I think there should be an option for the old school detailed planning style ... and a "disable this" checkbox for every pop-up Defuser mentioned ... or maybe you shouldn't listen to me, I'm too much of a planning-*****. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Defuser
03-18-2006, 02:24 PM
As an addendum as I've just seen KFCIA's post, I think you might have nailed it. The thing that really needs to be eliminated somehow is the 'flying blind' symptom of previous games where the actual meat of the plan was an unknown prospect due to the fact that the outfitting of our team, and the relevant operators, was something we knew nothing about prior to the actual viewing of the blueprints.

If there's one thing that I think would be a really nice touch, and completely unecessary from a design standpoint but would be a very welcome detail, it would be that the plans themselves were actually 'scale' replicas of the target. What I mean by this is that, does anybody remember Hidden and Dangerous 1's planning screens? The tac map you could pull up and view with the space bar at any time? It was actually not JUST a 3D view of the map, but actually rendered as a 'model' of the map on a wooden table, complete with (comparatively) huge cigerettes and the odd rifle round or grenade lying next to it.

This may be difficult to make 'work' with any degree of functionality compared to say, blue prints, but even so it would be a great touch. If you've seen the 'planning' footage of the 1980 Iranian embassy siege, with the scale model, then it would be great to be able to look at a model or an approximation to get at least an idea of scale, and perhaps even have a few bodies standing around or the such like to give it some atmosphere. Alas, touches like these are completely uneccesary and development time is no doubt better spent elsewhere, but it would be incredibly atmospheric and somewhat realistic!

Relenquish
03-18-2006, 02:30 PM
Main reason why I never used the planning stage in RVS was because the AI wasnt good enough. Also it didnt allow things like, stacking up etc etc.

Some great ergonomic ideas here. But they all depend a lot on the AI being up to scratch, and I really doubt this, just clear this area stuff will be possible, because I dont think the AI will be that good.

Displaying the simplified infos a pretty sweet idea for widening accessibility.

Anyhow what I think is more achieveable is a planning stage similar to RVS but with interaction with doors etc. So although you would have to micro manage it, you could make them carry out a plan effectively. The AI should be able to clear doors but I think making up its own plan for clearing a building in different RoE and speeds will not be included.

Thats just my opinion. I hope they are able to achieve the macro managing thing, but i would be suprised. Delighted and suprised. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

Vert22110
03-18-2006, 02:32 PM
I have to dissagree with the notion that Planning is somehow interfering with the "casual" gamer's play. If it is optional, how does it interfere with them? You can either go to the planning screen or skip over it, its not rocket science. If the player can still command on-the-fly in the game, then both veteran and newbie are getting a good experience. Theres no need to dumb down the planning stage.

Relenquish
03-18-2006, 03:50 PM
Who said anything about dumbing down?

KungFu_CIA
03-18-2006, 04:54 PM
Originally posted by Vert22110:
I have to dissagree with the notion that Planning is somehow interfering with the "casual" gamer's play. If it is optional, how does it interfere with them? You can either go to the planning screen or skip over it, its not rocket science. If the player can still command on-the-fly in the game, then both veteran and newbie are getting a good experience. Theres no need to dumb down the planning stage.

The notion is if game developers (publishers) get feedback from casual gamers who think the planning phase is "too complicated" then this automatically translates -- in their minds -- To lower sales.

Therefore, lower sales = don't include a feature which "no one likes" or "will never use" in the first place, according to them, as it also saves them time and development resources which can be put into something else they are more positive the casual gamer is going to use like... Better AI (possibly), or more than likely, a better MP experience overall as this is the primary focus on video games these days.

The point isn't whether the assumption game devs and publishers operate under is "right" or "wrong" -- As fans, we think it is wrong because in a perfect world, there should be no need to have to cater to a certain kind of gamer, let alone the casual gamer whose needs are far greater than a veteran gamers in terms of simplicity...

The point is this IS the assumptions devs design games under and this is why Defuser and others like myself think the planning phase, and specifically, the planning phase is what detered a lot of casual and new gamers from the R6 series in the past as far as SP goes because again...

The planning phase may seem very easy for you (veteran R6 players) to use, but think back to the first time you loaded up R6 and had to figure it all out. It is this "figure it all out" phase which can and should be made more simple -- this does not mean dumb down -- To faciliate a greater ease-of-use...

And this applies to both new gamers AND veteran R6 players who also avoided this feature in the past, aka DayGlow, for example, for the exact same reasons: It is too time consuming and there is a lot of micro-management which needs to be taken OUT of the player's hand and turned over to better AI which can then let the player focus on actual tactics in the sense of how, where and when to do things and not have to worry about every little detail because in the real world, this is how most military, law enforcement and security forces like Rainbow operate.

I think one of the things R6 has kind of "spolied" everyone into believing is that real life CQB raids are both A) relatively slow and B) each and every little detail is accounted for...

When in reality, if there is a three story bank with hostages on each floor with about 10-15 gunmen armed with automatic weapons and possible explosives and about four to five, four man teams (20 men as opposed to 8) painting the "big picture" is more crucial than anything else because the "AI" in the game are trained operatives who can take care of the "little details" and get the job done to the best of their ability.

R6 has always cheated reality in not only are you the on-site coordinator in the planning phase, but you are also an operator in the action phase... When these two positions would most likely never mix or overlap given the realities of the chain of command, being too valuable an asset to risk on a mission due to your extensive experience (as coordinator), etc, etc.

Be aware, I am speaking strictly of how past games have handled various roles and operating procedures and not real life. There are always exceptions in real life...

But getting back to game design, the planning phase is one of the more convoluted ones if you step back and really take an honest look at it. Even TedSmith, and others have commented if we are to make suggestions of at least one aspect of the game that should be made more accessible (outside the actual gameplay of shooting and moving) it is the planning phase.

Also, I agree it should take more than say, two minutes to come up with a good plan and plot it out with the way points and everything else... But I also don't think it has to take two hours UNLESS THE PLAYER WANTS TO because this is what we are trying to address:

Most players DON'T want to take an hour to plan because the current system is very intimidating and overly complex -- hate to say it -- And would probably feel more comfortable with trying their own plans IF the actual process of formulating and plotting those plans was much easier and more streamlined than it is now. This is the main goal of what we think needs to be done to help make the series more accessible because even as fans, I think we can take an objective look at the planning phase and see where it needs improvement and where things could (and should) be made easier for both new players and veterans alike.

Vert22110
03-18-2006, 05:07 PM
Okay, I understand that.

My problem is, I want to get really into the planning phase. I used to spend many hours carefully planning each move. This added another level of the game for me. A lot of generic FPS fans don't want to spend hours at the planning phase, even though they want a good plan. I understand that.

I just think that the planning phase needs to be easy to make simple plans that work, and harder to use if you want a complex assault (multiple teams, hostage takedowns). An adaptable and well-designed AI can ensure both sides.

Is that what you are going for?

Relenquish
03-18-2006, 06:31 PM
Originally posted by Vert22110:
I just think that the planning phase needs to be easy to make simple plans that work, and harder to use if you want a complex assault (multiple teams, hostage takedowns). An adaptable and well-designed AI can ensure both sides.

Is that what you are going for?

Yer theres the evil word, "complex" http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/784.gif

I think the aim should be to make large plans as easy as possible. It will be quite a challenge designing a planning stage that allows a lot of flexibility whilst remaining simply and quick to use and understand. It appeal to the wider audience need to keep complexity out of the equation if at all possible.

bdr41
03-18-2006, 08:33 PM
Originally posted by KungFu_CIA:
R6 has always cheated reality in not only are you the on-site coordinator in the planning phase, but you are also an operator in the action phase... When these two positions would most likely never mix or overlap given the realities of the chain of command, being too valuable an asset to risk on a mission due to your extensive experience (as coordinator), etc, etc.

Actually that's not necessarily the case. I just happened to come across a section in Daniel Coulson's book about forming the FBI HRT where he discusses the method of mission planning they picked up from Delta Force.

He explained, "The commander himself did not draw up plans but rather critiqued schemes proposed by the team leaders. This was an added safeguard to make sure that the commander's ego did not become overly invested in any particular scheme. Also, Delta team leaders played a relentless game of 'what-if.' Nobody wanted fear of the commander to bias the operators' critiques."

GSG_9_Rage
03-20-2006, 09:17 AM
someone brought up a good point. snipers. we should be able to perch a sniper from somewhere that reports on what the sees. doesn't mean shoot everything he sees (he could if you ordered him to) but he is there to oversee everything and make frequent reports about what he sees. also, ive always wanted to see something with Tim Noonan, the team's tech specialist. i think he should do stuff like he did in the book, lik eshut down a cell tower or listen in to the enemie's radios (like in the end of the book).

Defuser
03-20-2006, 12:21 PM
Remember;

"Sniper, Gold! Sights are hot..."

We already have 'some' degree of reporting if and only if we remember where our snipers are and what they're supposed to be looking at. A more elaborate version of this could be;

"Sniper, Gold! Hostage down, tangoes executed a hostage..."

And with simple markers, you could have;

"Sniper, Gold! Sights are hot - tango outside to rear of building"

And variations therein. This would mean more recorded lines of dialogue, but it would help with situational and tactical awareness without compromising realism.