The mechanics of warfare: Weapons

By on November 9, 2008 10:02:58 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Tamren

Join Date 03/2008
+34

Edit: The main weave of conversation follows the outline in my second post and explains the details of 3 main points. If you don't feel up to hacking the walls of text that is just fine. In between those posts there is much conversation so feel free to join in.

  • Part 1 is the intro and can be found in the next post.
  • Part 2 is now up, conveniently at the top of page 2. It continues part 2 and introduces our mock battle.
  • Part 3 is in post #45 on the second page. The battle is heating up nicely.
  • Part 4 is at the top of page 3. A bit short compared to the rest, introduces new units.
  • Part 5 is in post #85 on page 4. Gives more detail about the new units, next up is the fight.

So, lets talk about weapon mechanics! This thread is not just for me to ramble on. If you see a discrepancy, feel that I am missing something or just have something to add, speak up! The mission of this thread as stated here is: to help us as players teach each other how realistic weapons function and most importantly, ask each other how realistic we want the weapons to be in our games.

To be perfectly clear this thread is about how weapons work. Later on we can start a master list of each weapon we would like to see and the particulars of each.

With the plans for a modular unit design system in the works its apparent that we as players are going to have a lot of choices to pick from. Its easy to provide the developers with a list of weapons that you would like to see in game. But first you must ask yourself if you really want a gigantic selection of choices, most of which a highly redundant. In a statistical sense does it really matter if the developers include katanas, zwiehanders and kopeshi if all of them just end up as Swords with a varying attack strength?

In a word, yes. All of those might be swords in that they share the features of sharp edge and a handgrip. But each weapon has a unique identity that makes it perform differently in combat. If you take the time to include these differences what you end up with is a much more realistic game with choices that affect your gameplay rather than being simply cosmetic. This is what most people would call adding depth to the game. To do this you do not have to detail every single weapon down to the last inch. Instead you must understand and quantify the mechanics that make each weapon work the way it does in real life and should in a computerized setting. If I arm my soldiers with halberds I want that to mean something. Halberds should not be just another spear with a +2 bonus against horses.

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November 9, 2008 10:03:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Before we can talk about fun stuff like spiked flails we need to go over some basics. This is so that everyone involved can work from the same page. I promise it won't be boring and hey, you might learn something.

For some semblance of realism as it pertains to warfare in a computer game, you have to understand 3 things:

  1. Damage is not just a number, and for that matter neither is Health, Stamina, Armour or Morale. In fact they are a combination of many numbers and no numbers at all.
  2. Computers run on math and everything can be quantified. Something quantified can in turn be simplified.
  3. The ratio of complex data to simple data is the difference between a game thattries to emulate reality and a game that doesn't need to.

Those might seem to be complex and arcane statements that few people but me would understand. Mostly because they are! But a sentence is more than the words that build it and you do not have to understand what you read, only what it means. So lets get right to it.

--

I could go into exhaustive detail about modeling systems of combat in a computer game. In fact I actually did, before I realized that I was including far too many examples and various redundant blods of information that would bore you guys to death or else melt your brain. So I deleted that and started over. It all boils down to some very simple principles.

Damage is not just a number. It is a series of numbers working with and against one another. The key is that none of these numbers are visible. If I punch something I apply force. This force can be measured in newtons, or perhaps pounds per square inch. Lets say I punched a glass window and it broke. Your logical mind can realise that the force of my punch overwhelmed the tensile strength of the glass thus causing it to shatter. We do not need to know the numbers involved, and those numbers do not actually exist until we measure and record them. Computers work differently. If you want a computer to model the effects of a fist striking glass it has to know the numbers involved, It can make these numbers up but it can not function without them.

To translate anything to a computer we need to quantify it in some form of math. In a computer game, when the ork hits the elf and cuts the elf in half, you might not see any visible numbers. At that moment the computer had a decision to make, does the ork's X beat the elf's Y. To determine whether or not anything happens, X and Y have to interact, what number they actually represent is not relevant. In this case its apparent than X beat Y and now the elf is in two pieces and the ork triumphant.

When this data is made visible to us we assign common names to different parts. Normally X represents damage and Y health. These are concepts familiar to all of us. But have you ever stopped to consider other things like material strength, bone density, deflective armour and force multipliers?

--

To first step to making your weapons more realistic is figuring out some basic physics. Weapons do not generate energy, they only store and transfer energy. This transfer can't take many forms and more importantly many shapes. Impacts can be divided into 4 general forms: Slashing, Cutting, Crushing and Piercing.

- Slashing and cutting are not the same thing, but any wedge shape is capable of either. The difference is how the edge interacts with the surface. Lets say you were cutting an onion in your kitchen. Take a knife and press it straight down onto the onion until you separate it into two pieces. That was a cut. Now do the same thing only press the knife forwards as well as down. The knife will slide forwards as it cuts in a saw action. That was a slash. The difference may seem insignificant, after all they both have the end result. But this distinction will become extremely important when you start to model the effects of these weapons against armour.

It also helps us differentiate weapons which otherwise would seem very similar. Most of you would tell me when asked that the longsword is a slashing weapon. In fact the straight edge of the blade makes it far more effective at cutting. In order to slash something the blade must travel across it instead of directly into it. For a straight edge this means drawing the edge back and forth as one would a hacksaw. Not very efficient. This is much much easier for a curved edge. Next time you have a dinner plate in your hand place the edge against your opposite palm. By rotating the edge you can draw it across your palm without moving your arm back and forth. Most swords aren't as curved as a dinner plate granted but they take advantage of this effect to amplify the slashing effect on a target.

-Given that a cut is defined as a seperation of material caused by a foreign object. Piercing weapons could be described as inflicting two dimentional cuts. Hitting some jello with a sword results in a straight cut, stabbing the jello produces another straight cut. Now think of what would happen if you took a coffie mug and pushed it down into the jello until it hit bottom. Instead of a line we now have a shape pressed into the material. The jello under the mug is forced to the side and out. When you remove the mug the jello has been disturbed so much that it has trouble flowing back into the empty space as it did with both sword cuts. This is something common to all piercing weapons regardless of shape.

Because of this the wounds inflicted by piercing weapons bleed far more than cuts and take longer to seal themselves. Many stabbing weapons in the middle ages had a triangular cross section for this very reason.

--

Next up, crushing weapons, force multipliers, realism ratio, and the conclusion. After that things will be in much more manageable chunks, I promise. If this works out I will consider tackling Armour the same way.

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November 9, 2008 11:13:33 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

If I wasn't already interested in this kind of stuff this would be a TLDR.

I think you are getting WAY too detailed to start with. 

If you just start with;

-----------------------

Physical Damage Types;

Crush (Example - Hammer) Slow

Cut (Example - Axe) Very Slow

Pierce (Example - Spear) Speed Depends on weapon length

Slash (Example - Scimatar) Fast

 

Armour Type Effectivness (None / Poor / Average / Good / Superior) vs Damage Type;

                      Crush      Cut          Pierce      Slash

Cloth               Average   Poor        Poor        Poor

Hide                Good       Poor        Average   Good

Soft Leather      Poor       Poor         Poor        Average

Hard Leather     Average   Average   Average   Good

Chain               None      Good        Average   Good

Scale                Good      Good        Average   Superior  

Plate                Superior   Superior   Superior   Superior  

 

Advanced Armour Types mix Armour types.

Chain Mail (Padded under Chain) Increases Chain's Effectivness to Average.

Partial Plate (Chain Mail under Breast Plate, Greeves, Bracers...) is almost as effective as Plate, just a lot heaver.

--------------------

And then go into Why and details more people will read.

Sammual

 

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November 9, 2008 11:58:05 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hate to say this but its just not that simple. If I listed every weapon and piece of armour as you described and explained things piece by piece then the list would be 10 times as long. To understand the specifics you must understand at least part of the whole.

Your chart for weapons and armour is waaaaaay off. The performance of armour is not something you can measure in a 0-4 scale. Let me give you can example. You list plate as having superior protection against crushing damage and the only one with no protection is chain. This is wrong, but its not enough for me to say that, I have to explain why.

Without getting too technical sharp weapons work on the principle of force multiplication. If I punched something, my fist applies X amount of energy over Y square inches. If you powered a sword with the exact same amount of energy, it would apply the same force on impact but focus it on an area thinner than a human hair.

This focused energy can be defeated by spreading it out which is why maille armour is so effective against slashing damage. Instead of pushing a hair thin blade through the meat of my arm you would be trying to push 10 square inches of chain links into my arm and out the other side, not gonna happen.

Crushing weapons don't work that way because they do not focus the energy they transfer to things you hit with them. You can't negate this energy by blunting it, its already blunt and there is a LOT of it. No armour will save you from crushing damage unless it incorporates heavy padding or can deflect the energy out and away. Without the padding, no armour on your list except plate will protect you from crushing damage. And for reasons too technical to detail here plate armour is at the same time the best and worst form of protection.

--

I will follow your reccomendation and split things up a bit. If and when we get around to armour I can divide weapons by damage type and armour into light, medium and heavy armour. Armour won't get nearly as technical as this thread because concepts that affect heavy armour simply don't apply to light armour and vice versa.

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November 10, 2008 5:52:54 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

As long as it doesn't follow the principle that GalCiv had, I'm cool with it.

I think the whole pierce, crush and slash thing is unnecessary. A swordsman isn't just going to try and slash his enemy in a fight. He might go for stabs, he might kick them. Hit them with the hilt of his sword. A spearman won't just be trying to pierce with his spear all the time. He might swing it and thunk enemy too.

 

I think greater focus should be on morale and effectiveness(training) of the troops. 

I think if weapons are to have some advantage/disadvantage it should be interesting:

Swords are more effective in melee. - Swords were popular for their balanced approach to stuff innit. 

Spears are more effective against mounted units and defensive posturing.

Axes are potent tools for shock troops.

etc.

While weapon type offer some advantage(with whatever disadvantage), the main focus can still remain on how effective the troops are at being fighters. 

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November 10, 2008 6:20:35 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree hence my suggestion on using a psychological system like the one used in Close Combat. I don’t think any other game has even come close to developing such a thing. So here we have Frogboy a noted AI programmer, and an opportunity to test his mettle at branching out with such skills. It is a daunting challenge in programming methinks...

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November 10, 2008 9:15:27 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting hiddenranbir,

I think the whole pierce, crush and slash thing is unnecessary. A swordsman isn't just going to try and slash his enemy in a fight. He might go for stabs, he might kick them. Hit them with the hilt of his sword. A spearman won't just be trying to pierce with his spear all the time. He might swing it and thunk enemy too.

The fighter is the deadly part, not the weapon.

Quoting hiddenranbir,

I think greater focus should be on morale and effectiveness(training) of the troops. 

I think if weapons are to have some advantage/disadvantage it should be interesting:

Swords are more effective in melee. - Swords were popular for their balanced approach to stuff innit. 

Spears are more effective against mounted units and defensive posturing.

Axes are potent tools for shock troops.

etc.

While weapon type offer some advantage(with whatever disadvantage), the main focus can still remain on how effective the troops are at being fighters. 

I agree.  If this were a single player RPG then I would be all about the weapons and breaking down Weapon vs Armour effectiveness.  In a game like this where combat and units are going to be abstracted to such a large degree anything more then a simple Weapon type vs armour type chart will be overkill and a waste of the developers time.

Sammual

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November 10, 2008 10:09:15 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree. If this were a single player RPG then I would be all about the weapons and breaking down Weapon vs Armour effectiveness. In a game like this where combat and units are going to be abstracted to such a large degree anything more then a simple Weapon type vs armour type chart will be overkill and a waste of the developers time.

I disagree.

Imho fights should be simulated as accurately as possible to make "realistic" results. Conversely to popular wisdom I'm the oppinion that the more accurate it will be modelled, the easier it will be for noobies to understand it. A highly abstracted system is not very intuitive and can produce strange results (invincible large uberships with only weapons in GalCiv2 for example) while a more "realistic" design would bring results that would be more expected. (Expected as in: I saw that in a fantasy film; read it in a fantasy book.)

That said, I would be ok with an armor/weapons table for the sake of time and money constraints, but plate armor shouldn't be superiour to everything. It should be weak against halberds/poleaxes and maces.

So, a weapons table based on individual weapons instead of damage type would be better imho.

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November 10, 2008 10:47:32 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hi vanden. Yes, the goal here is to try and avoid GalCiv's system. If our focus is simply that Weapon A is only fully countered by Armour B, we're getting the GC way.

I think, while weapons and armour type will vary in value, as will the material they are made of. Their differences can be developed to be alot more interesting and unique than an elaborate varied that how GC handles combat.

 

Using the example of plate armour. I think a better way to diminish it's high defence quality is it limiting a person's effectiveness to fight in it. Their attack rate per turn will be slower, their movement will be slower, their agility in combat with other troops will be lower. They'll have good defence, but it is at the cost of being weaker in other important aspects.

That seems far kinder than having specific weapons have some advantage over them. Since a Mace is going to be, just as, if not more effective against someone without plate armour.

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November 10, 2008 11:26:53 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Cost vs return.

What weapon / armour system offers the best return (Most useable and understandable) for the least cost (Programming and balanceing time).

This is a game about Magic, who care about realism.  It just has to be fun.  Options are good but too many options that the average user can't differenciate between is bad.

Sammual

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November 10, 2008 12:52:55 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

For sure gameplay is more important than realism. But the light/medium/heavy armor type is just ... not so good. the plate armor isn't the alpha and omega of armors. It has huge drawbacks, and only very well trained warriors could use it effectively.

First : armor HAS to slow the wearer. The heaier, the slower the unit becomes.

Second : special abilites. Maces were created to bypass shields. Halberds were a swiss knife : one part to make the cavalry fall, the one part to make a hole in the armor, then a part to put into the hole. Swords are all-around weapons because of it's ease of use and it's speed. Poelarms were not against cavalry at first ! They were to hit far away ! So polearms should have a "first hit" capacity : you hit and the unit counter after. It's not simultaneous. They were also made to be used in charge. So a horsemen with a polearm should have a charge bonus.

Third : Training and morale. A rookie shouldn't be able to use a plate or use effectively an halberd. (Or maybe apply a malus). And morale is THE thing that need to be inserted in such a game.

And why not a wounded system like dominions 3? It was such a beautiful idea to prevent uber warriors that were 324132454 years old.

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November 10, 2008 1:19:56 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Armour Type Effectivness (None / Poor / Average / Good / Superior) vs Damage Type;

Crush Cut Pierce Slash

Plate Superior Superior Superior Superior

I would just like state that  a crushing blow is very hard to block using armor in almost any type of armor.  Although, armor of this type may spread the force of a crushing blow over a larger area it is still going to be a sever hit.  Think about being hit in the leg with. lets say a slashing weapon, while the leg has plate armor.  The slashing weapon is relativly ineffective.  As long as the slashing cut does not penetrate the armor.  Now imagine a flail coming down on the same leg.  The blunt force trama will most likely break the leg.  If I was a knight going up against another knight dressed in plate I would much rather have a flail than a broad swoard.

*edit I think speed, weight, skill, and fatigue are more your elements that will make the difference in if you win or lose the battle.

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November 10, 2008 1:35:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

How about shields then?
They are a classic and basic element of armed combat, so how sould it work?

I would hardly mind if armor was given a straight protection value.
Would help with nonstandard protection such as the natural armor of a dragon.

When should there be a great difference between protection values against certain types of damage anyway?
When magic is involved perhaps? Would rather make it a special effect of the magic used (lack of effectivity or the opposite) against armor, then. Perhaps the same with weapons too. An exception based system rather than the opposite.

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November 10, 2008 3:38:45 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I think too much details and realism could be impossible for the player to follow and understand. After all, it's not intuitive, common man knowledge, I for one wouldn't know against exactly which armour types a flail is more or less effective for example.

Most important for me would be to have some different weapon and armour types, and possibly some "special effects" of some weapons, like extra attacks or being able to hit opponents further away with a long pike.

What should be achieved in my view is a strategc dimension like: a group of pikemen can be extremely deadly against mounted opponents (at least if they charge straight on) but much less in close combat against swordmen. Just so you have to think beyond simple damage and protection numbers.

As important would be the effect the changing environment and weather would have on different weapon types (especially in a game where you can manipulate the environment...). This was well done in D3. E.g. bows are useless in storm and heavy rain, plate armour in a marsh would be a nightmare ...

What should be avoided is that a unit is always of the same strength in all environments and against all opponents.

 

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November 10, 2008 4:06:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I agree with Gorgon about too much detail. After all, there's a reason why the 'rock-paper-scissors' mechanic has been a staple of most strategy games for decades; it's simple. Players can understand that polearms are more effective against calvary than they would be in close quarters combat against infantry.

Don't get me wrong, I love all this discussion about very precise, realistic combat models that would take into account all the ways a weapon could be used and the exact advantages and disadvantages of every type of armor, but, as it's already be stated, the devs are going to be constrained by time and money and these are things that could be better spent else where.

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November 10, 2008 4:47:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McCracken76,
I agree with Gorgon about too much detail. After all, there's a reason why the 'rock-paper-scissors' mechanic has been a staple of most strategy games for decades; it's simple. Players can understand that polearms are more effective against calvary than they would be in close quarters combat against infantry.

Don't get me wrong, I love all this discussion about very precise, realistic combat models that would take into account all the ways a weapon could be used and the exact advantages and disadvantages of every type of armor, but, as it's already be stated, the devs are going to be constrained by time and money and these are things that could be better spent else where.

QFT

I agree 100%.  That said please continue the weapon lecture.  I was enjoying it from a learning standpoint.

Sammual

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November 10, 2008 4:58:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting McCracken76,
I agree with Gorgon about too much detail. After all, there's a reason why the 'rock-paper-scissors' mechanic has been a staple of most strategy games for decades; it's simple. Players can understand that polearms are more effective against calvary than they would be in close quarters combat against infantry
I can only say "bleh" to rock-paper-scissors. Warcraft 3 began that way, so did Dawn of War and Battle for Middle Earth. All of them phased it out by means of expansions and content patches.

Not that I don't agree somewhat, I'm in no "four stats at the very least for armor"-camp.
But for the combat system to be fun I can't agree that simplicity is good. Soft counters and differentiation between differently equipped warriors and combat styles is great and awesome. I especially like when ideas are translated into mechanics, though that's a bit premature aside from simply outlining how things could work.

How one could want rock, paper and scissors in a tbs is beyond me. It's my goto genre when I want deeper strategic (& tactical, to an extent) management.

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November 10, 2008 5:07:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I also agree with gorgon.  I know in gal civ 2 I was frustrated with early ship creation because I didn't understand it.

 

I want to add to the armor thing.   Naturally, the final form of combat mechanics would have to be more than 10 times as long.  Its the nature of things, and I fear I am going to have to say it needs to be longer.

Do not forget this is fantasy in more than just how much damage things do.  Realism is great, but don't limit to realism when you have a game about throwing magical spells and raising armies of dragons and stuff.  We should have mythical weapons too, or things that would not have actually been seen on the battlefields of medieval earth because they arn't very functional.  Sammual had a good idea with the different types and I liked the chart he created, but I think it should also reflect the meterials of which it is made.   Since mithral chain mail should protect better from a orc's spear than iron plate.  Oricalcum spears would be better at piercing the plate than regular bronze ones.

That being said,  I think that a more advanced chart should be used similar to sammual's.  Charts are good to help with visualization, so if there is a mechanic that can have a chart applied to it in the help screen somewher, then that is what we should have.

 

I like vieuxchat's abilities idea.  That encourages custome item creation.  Maybe things that bypass other things, but we want to be sure the abilities are simple and still magical in nature.   Mccracken's rock paper scissors note is where to look.  In Master of Magic I was always sad at the item creation because I didn't know what I wanted my things to have.  If there is something like an ice enchantment that made armor impervious to almost everything other than fire weapons, it would really change the dynamic and encourage magic weapon creation.

 

Something I wanted to bring up is fire arms.   In fantasy games people tend to lean away from fire arms, and I understand why.  But at the same time getting primitive fire arms can sometimes still work.  Firearms would do about the same damage to everybody but would be really expensive to create.   I'm both a fan of classic pirates with cannon mounted ships and mage gun slingers that shoot magical bullets.    I'm not sure if it would fit or not, but it could.  I know when I was little I thought the sequal to master of magic would possibly include "technology" tomes that featured technology abilities rather than just the regular 5 magic tomes.   People with technology tomes would effectivly use mana to drive magic-based tanks and missles and stuff.

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November 10, 2008 8:05:41 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Hey I'm back! Part 2 might have to wait till tommorow because I have to go rake up 9 trees worth of leaves. But I do have time to continue the discussion a bit. There are a lot of good points raised and some of them are things that I slated to explain in the second half.

Quoting hiddenranbir,
I think greater focus should be on morale and effectiveness(training) of the troops.

Yes exactly. Equipment is important for sure, but the knowledge to use and improvise with the equipment you have is whats going to get you through a fight. Different damage types allow our soldiers to use thier weapons in different ways depending on the situation. Your typical wood splitting axe can be used as a hammer by turning it around to the flat side of the head. This is a tactical option and I can see at least one situation where it would be helpful. Lets say you had a 2 handed axe and your opponent had a wooden shield and a shortsword. If you simply hit his shield with your ax the blade might get stuck and leave you vulnerable, so instead you hammer the shield with the flat side and try to break the arm behind it.

Quoting Sammual,
The fighter is the deadly part, not the weapon.

Everyone take note, nothing I can teach you here will matter unless you also understand that one sentence right there.

Quoting Vandenburg,
So, a weapons table based on individual weapons instead of damage type would be better imho.

Yes that is the key. We do not need to have complete control over every single thing. But those things have to be there to begin with. We need a SIMPLIFIED system, not just a simple system. Its not enough to assign a damage type to a weapon because all weapons are capable of many damage types.

Quoting hiddenranbir,
I think, while weapons and armour type will vary in value, as will the material they are made of. Their differences can be developed to be alot more interesting and unique than an elaborate varied that how GC handles combat.

Yup, each piece of equipment is a combination of its design and its material, but its performance in combat depends largely on the user.

Quoting vieuxchat,
For sure gameplay is more important than realism. But the light/medium/heavy armor type is just ... not so good. the plate armor isn't the alpha and omega of armors. It has huge drawbacks, and only very well trained warriors could use it effectively.

When I get to talking about it in detail I might have to make a new thread because no other armour type even compares to full plate armour. Even partial plate armour functions differently.

Quoting McCracken76,
Players can understand that polearms are more effective against calvary than they would be in close quarters combat against infantry.

That gave me an idea. Let me explain:

If I was writing tooltips for your in-game interface I wouldn't just sum up pikes as "first strike" weapons. Instead I would mention that pikes are defensive "rank bonus 4" and "reach 4" weapons on the unit info page. The basic game tutorial would teach you the meaning of these and why it makes pikes such a good anticavalry weapon. The actual in game mechanics are complex and are only taught in more advanced tutorials to prevent the game from overwhelming the player with information.

When you get down to the gritty details it works like this. "Reach" weapons can hit people 1 quarter tile away, per level of the bonus, so with Reach 4 your front rank can attack anything 1 tile away. Units with non reach weapons can only attack enemies within arms reach. This means that anything attacking your pikemen will have to fight thier way over 1 tile of ground before they can start hurting the enemy. "Rank" bonuses are different. Normally only those soldiers in the front line can hit the enemy. The enemy must get "stuck in" and push past or defeat the front rank before the second rank can hit them. A bonus of Rank 2 means that the soldiers in the second line can reach pastthe soldiers in front of them and attack anthing in melee with the first line. If an enemy reached the second rank people in the third rank could hit him and so on.

Under this system spears would be reach 1 rank 2 weapons which means that the front rank can attack enemies just far enough away that they can't hit back. If they enter melee with the front rank, then the second rank can fight with the first rank. So you can see the considerable bonus that spears have when deployed this way.

If reach weapons with a bonus of 2 or higher such as pikes are involved the rank bonus means something else entirely. If you fight your way past one "rank" of reach 2 weapons, those weapons can no longer hit you. So anything that gets past the speartips of the first line of weapons will be only 3/4 of a tile away from the front rank of soldiers and will then have to contend with the second rank of speartips. If the attackers make it all the way to the front line, those pikemen will have to drop thier pikes and pull out secondary weapons. While they engage in melee up close they would be defended by rank 4.

This is a relatively simple system (and upon rereading it, full of holes) but you can see how all of this complexity can be conveyed with two words and two numbers. Considering that under such a system charging enemies can be killed on impact by reach weapons and never even touch the people who hold them, pikemen would be anticavalry supreme, and NOT because they have some sort of abstracted "first strike" ability.

Quoting Norhg,
How one could want rock, paper and scissors in a tbs is beyond me. It's my goto genre when I want deeper strategic (& tactical, to an extent) management.

How much realism do we want in our games? Only enough to be fun!

Quoting landisaurus,
Something I wanted to bring up is fire arms.   In fantasy games people tend to lean away from fire arms, and I understand why.  But at the same time getting primitive fire arms can sometimes still work.

They sure can. I once debated for many pages on how firearms could be implemented into Dwarf Fortress. The key to getting them right is the word "crude". Early gun tech is nothing like the machined rifles we have now. Crude guns and explosives are insanely dangerous and expensive to make and tend to explode in the users face even if everything else goes perfectly well.

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November 10, 2008 10:13:54 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This thread is quite interesting from a learning standpoint, however I think in order to be intuitive things have to be dumbed down a bit more... that being said, I can't understand why anyone would want a rock-paper-scissors model in a Turn Based Strategy game.

 

I would also like to note that a large amount of a weapons effectiveness is based upon how the weapon is employed.  Macedonian Phalangites were extremely effective to the front because of the abovementioned reach (which the said formation allowed them to utilize), however their massed pike formations lacked flexability, and were thus cut to pieces by the Roman Legions (who used light javelins and stabbing swords).  However, it was only proper use of the legions which enabled them to beat the Phalangites.  Had the Romans fought the pikemen head on, instead of utilizing their flexability to break up and envelope the pike formations then they would have lost.  Much the same can be said about almost any weapons type.  It is only when used with proper doctrine that it becomes effective, and a formation armed with almost any practical weapons can beat another formation armed with almost any other type of weapon if they are used properly (example, cavalry would utterly destroy a massed Pike line if they were hitting that line from the flank or rear... it is only if the pike line is actually facing the cavalry that you would have a lot of dead horses).

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November 10, 2008 10:20:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Everyone take note, nothing I can teach you here will matter unless you also understand that one sentence right there.

 

I prefer:

 

There are no dangerous weapons, there are only dangerous people.

 

That gave me an idea. Let me explain:


I like the whole idea of rank/reach; brilliant idea.  Adding in secondary weapons is also brilliant, if possible.

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November 10, 2008 10:40:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting lwarmonger,
This thread is quite interesting from a learning standpoint, however I think in order to be intuitive things have to be dumbed down a bit more... that being said, I can't understand why anyone would want a rock-paper-scissors model in a Turn Based Strategy game.

 

You do realize that a lot of TBS games use a rock-paper-scissors model. Units are designed to have hard and soft counters against one another. There's a reason why when you highlight your pikemen you see a little tab that says 'effective against Knights'.

Now TBS' add in other elements like terrain and battle conditions but all these systems are still based around R-P-S. Like I said before, there's a reason for that; it's simple. No dev is going to spend years trying to program a system that attempts to take into account every aspect of realism. That's time that could've been spent on other aspects of the game rather than wasted on developing the most convoluted battle system ever.

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November 10, 2008 10:50:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It doesn't need to be complex, it just needs to be more complex than "pikemen beat cavalry every time."  Things like terrain, unit orientation, weather, and possibly formation need to be taken into account.  Otherwise all that manuvering you do to get your cavalry around their flanks (or your phalanxes directly in front of their swordsmen) becomes frustratingly pointless.  Pikemen should be stronger than just about everyone in a straight up fight provided they are well trained (at least initially), simply because properly massed pikemen don't really have a melee weakness to the front.  Once axemen, swordsmen or cavalry get in among them though, it should be a slaughter.  This isn't tremendously complex or convoluted, but it does make life far more interesting from a tactical perspective.  If your tactical battles are just going to be you matching up your units with the enemies that they are strong against, why bother with the tactical map?  Facing, formations, shock effects and terrain should have an effect (most of which is common sense... densly packed pikemen aren't going to be effective in woods, ect).  I've seen too many games where it hasn't, and I've always wondered why they bothered resolving things tactically when there are no tactics involved.  If you don't want to do it, just autocalc your battles.

 

I don't think that the Total War tactical system was really complex in any way, and I am thinking of a slightly more detailed (but somewhat similar) turn based version of that.

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November 10, 2008 10:55:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Edit: This is in response to Iwarmonger of course.

Yes. But dumbing down or simplifying the system is not the way to go. You have to have as much detail as possible and simplify it for player consumption. The detail must be there to handle calculations in the background but you can't overwhelm the player by feeding it to him all at once.  So by picking out the most relevant information and putting it up front you give them as much as they need when they need it.

As for tactics. Simply put, good leaders do not micromanage. They teach those under thier command so that they can handle themselves with minimal imput. You don't need to tell them what to do because they already know. Its a bit more complicated than that of course but you should be able to tell your troops how to act in certain situations.

Some things should be automatic common sense unless you give orders to the contrary. A pikeman who gets his pike broken should draw his sword even if he can't immediatly use it. A group of swordsmen standing in the open with no outstanding orders should spread out and lift shields overhead. Stuff like that.

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November 10, 2008 10:58:13 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting lwarmonger,
It doesn't need to be complex, it just needs to be more complex than "pikemen beat cavalry every time."  Things like terrain, unit orientation, weather, and possibly formation need to be taken into account.

Hm, I think I've heard this before...

Quoting McCracken76,

Now TBS' add in other elements like terrain and battle conditions but all these systems are still based around R-P-S.

Oh yeah

Look, I'm not entirely disagreeing with you, but what I am saying is that fundamentaly it's all based off of a R-P-S type system of counters. All I'm trying to say is Stardock's time could be far better spent on other aspects of this game rather than trying to re-invent the wheel.

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November 10, 2008 11:12:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Oh, I agree.  I just don't want them to oversimplify things, as is the habit with a lot of games when they go down to the tactical level.  No point in even having it if they leave no room for strategy and tactics.

However, I think that this will have to be a bit more complex than you are thinking, simply to make designing your own units worthwhile.

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