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 Post subject: Commander Control
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:06 pm 
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buck private
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Quote:
Title: Thoughts on AI in Strategic Games
By: Jim Cobb
Date: 2005-11-13 4703

Thoughts on AI in Strategic Games

I have a long-standing policy on not critiquing games I review until the review is published. I do this in deference to the publishers and am not changing. However, I’m playing Crown of Glory and World War II: The First Blitzkrieg for review and questions raised about AI on forums and news groups have made me think why such games may not play out historically. Here are some thoughts:

The AI, dumb as it is tactically, will never be as stupid as the Third Alliance in 1805 or the Allied High Command in 1940. Its side’s strengths and weaknesses will be known to it and will allow a more rational concentration of force and effort. We won’t see a General Mack squandering time and resource at Ulm nor will the units of four armies just sit around as in 1940.

Perhaps more importantly, the AI won’t be overawed when the player is Napoleon, Lee or the Wehrmacht. The AI has no psyche, no emotional baggage so it won’t be mesmerized by previous experiences or propaganda. Designers may attempt to imitate doctrinal fallacies but it won’t throw away what advantages or capabilities it might have.
(Continued)
http://www.combatsim.com/review.php?id=738
To which:
Quote:
Artificial Whatsits
November 15th, 2005 by Troy Goodfellow · 7 Comments · Uncategorized

In a mostly grateful comment on my review of his Raging Tiger and Falklands War 1982, Curt Pangracs writes that I underrate the AI in those games when I refer to it as “lackluster”.

A few days later, veteran wargame reviewer Jim Cobb writes an editorial on Combat Sim that accuses developers of not spending enough time or energy on the development of competent computer opponents. (Full disclosure: I owe Mr. Cobb a review of Blitzkrieg II that I *promise* to get around to very soon.)

The “lackluster AI” criticism I levy at the ATF games is, I admit, wargamer boilerplate. Hell, I suspect that the word “lackluster” is found more often in game magazines than in any other press form. As I explain in my reply to Mr. Pangracs, my more general point was that the AI seemed well able to handle the expected and obvious, but not the creative. Cobb’s complaints about AI in are along similar lines, only he wants the AI to not just respond to creativity, but be capable of (or programmed to) surprise.

All of this raises the obvious question of what to expect in wargame AI. What makes an opponent believable?
(Continued)
http://flashofsteel.com/index.php/2005/ ... -whatsits/
and to that:
Quote:
Wargame AI again? Oh boy.

Nov 15, 2005 8:55PM PST

Troy Goodfellow just posted a blog response to a short blurb by Jim Cobb on Combatsim which was actually far more interesting to me than the original piece for a few reasons. The blurb itself was about wargame AI, or the lack thereof, and why couldn't it be better. We've all heard that before, and with all respect to Jim as a long-time wargame writer, I didn't really see anything in the blurb that hadn't been said elsewhere, maybe even by him. But Troy's response was intriguing, because when you combine it with what Jim said, it makes me wonder what people actually expect out of AI in a wargame. I'm not sure wargamers themselves know the answer. I also think they conveniently forget a few things.

First, Troy says that "Wargame AI seems easy to program." Troy elaborates in a comment that he means this more in theory than in practice, but I don't even agree with that. Take a game like Smolensk '41. You have several hundred units placed on a grid with over 10,000 spaces on it. The units have different capabilities, and the spaces have different properties. Those properties have different values based on a particular situation. You can't just give general directives to each side, because the difference between constructing an effective defense on a given turn may be the placement of a single anti-tank unit on a specific hex. Put it there and the German armor can't break through. Put it elsewhere, even one hex away, and the Germans may be able to breach the line and pour armor through it, completely unhinging the defense.

Wargames have both a very specific tactical requirement (counting factors) as well as a strategic requirement (getting those factors there in the first place), and just the scale of it (so many units, so many hexes) makes it seem very daunting to me just conceptually, never mind practically. I'm just a layman, but this kind of optimization seems much more complicated than managing RTS units and deciding on build queues.

But could it be done better?...
(Continued)
http://www.1up.com/do/blogEntry?bId=607 ... Id=5647873
So whats the answer?

IMHO Commander Control!

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 Post subject: Re: Commander Control
PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2011 9:38 pm 
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So what is Commander Control (CC)?

A post by 'Panama Red' about a third of the way down the page explains it's use in Talonsoft's Battleground series, the important point is:
Quote:
If you use "Commander Control" when you play the HPS or Talonsoft games against the AI, you will find that the game is far more equal since you only have a limited amount of contol over your units (just like a real commander did back in this time frame). Not only that, but your troops will make the same mistakes as the AI since the AI is moving both sides.
I've been a fan of CC since I first played SSG's Halls of Montazuma and Decisive Battles of the American Civil War, their part of their Battlefront series and restricts the players control, the player is a corp commander who issues orders to his division commanders and they (the AI) carry out the orders.

Now it seems others are trying Commander Control, Matrix/Panther Games use a form of it in their Airborne series.

And now HPS appears to be giving it a try with their Tigers Unleashed:
Quote:
PC Game Review: Tigers Unleashed
James Allen tries his hand at taming the German beasts of the battlefield, the Tiger Tank. Does this strategy game succeed in capturing the effect or fall short of its premise?
Published on 17 DEC 2011 10:47 by James Allen
http://www.wargamer.com/article/3129/pc ... -unleashed
{Snip}
Targeting enemy units is meant to be handled by your AI subordinate officers, but you can also manually choose important targets if you don't trust the computer.
Maybe it's catching on.

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Posted by Keld Denar
+3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthre ... D-2-5-What


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 Post subject: Re: Commander Control
PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:54 pm 
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The main question is:

What and why? For whom?

Are you making a warfare simulation-kind of game? Then you will need chain of command and various levels of command who range from brilliant to complete tools. Players will need to be aware that it's a game that simulates what it's really like being a high commander of several armies and corps.

Then there are games that are to be as challenging as possible, while being 'gamey' games. They have in effect game rules that are abstractions to model real life with simplicity. Sometimes this simplicity becomes so abstract that it is detached from reality and you can do things within game rules that would be impossible in real life. Imagine a 'blockade rule' that prevents a fleet from leaving port if there's any enemy naval units blocking the route. Challenging AI simply leaves one destroyer in place, whereas a realistic AI could simply ignore blockading altogether or blockade a wrong port, essentially make mistakes.

Proper honest marketing is one important thing with this - you have to make sure the player knows what he's getting into. If he's going to use every possible trick allowed by game rules to gain advantage, he's going to regard a realistic AI as 'dumb, slow, unresponsive'. On the other hand, someone wishing for a realistic command from enemy will find a gamey AI to be superhuman in its ability to exploit rules to gain advantages that were unheard of in the actual conflict being portrayed.

Neither type is superior. They're for different kinds of games. People should recognize that we're essentially talking of different genres. RTS for one could never be compared to a war simulation. War simulation is also different to a war game.

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 Post subject: Re: Commander Control
PostPosted: Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:35 am 
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Quote:
Fire Brigade: The Battle for Kiev 1943 download (Strategy game)
http://www.old-games.com/download/5247/ ... battle-for
One of the most overlooked wargames of all time, Fire Brigade is an exceptional game by Panther Games that simulates the 1943 battles around Kiev on the Eastern Front. Released only in Australia, Fire Brigade quickly gained a small following among die-hard wargamers for its tough AI, clean user interface, and realistic game engine. As M. E. Brooks points out in his synopsis: "...good documentation and excellent packaging have yielded a game that has withstood the test of time, although the learning curve was somewhat long. One of the few games from the early years of computer wargaming that remains playable, although the game often seems to play itself." If you are a fan of "hardcore" wargames that boast a challenging AI and high replayability, Fire Brigade is a must have - a game that deserves at least as much recognition as classics from fellow Australian company, SSG. And big thanks to our resident cracker Mok for patching this oldie to run on new graphics cards :)
This is the first computer game from Panther Games and is Commander Controlled like their modern products.

The Game download works fine in DosBox but the Manual is a Mac manual so you'll have to interpret the controls. Like it tells you to select the Scenario from the list in game, but the dos version sez 'type in the name' of the scenario.

Here are the Scenario names fbtut, fb3nov, fb15nov, fb5dec, and fb. You can get the names by looking in the game folder.

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Posted by Keld Denar
+3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthre ... D-2-5-What


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 Post subject: Re: Commander Control
PostPosted: Thu Feb 13, 2014 8:51 pm 
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Bump
In the current Civilization thread there's been some comments about AIs.

To paraphrase an early game designer 'When watching a dancing bear are you impressed by how well it dances or that it dances at all?'

So I prefer Command Control like found in Panther Games, Talonsoft, the old SSG Battlefront series.

'My AI is just as stupid as your AI or 'We're on that mountain over there.'

_________________
Posted by Keld Denar
+3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthre ... D-2-5-What


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