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Steel Beasts: Content Wish List

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Gib: you should be careful to state who "we" is in statements like that. Not every forum member understands that you are a military customer/user as well as the civilian/gamer type.

It's not a secret, but it's also not a given. ;)

Absolutely, hence the signature block. :)

But I'll amend the post.

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I merged the eye candy thread into this one because we don't need another "I want..." thread.

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A few comments.

Scalability of visual effects is a double-edged sword. So far we have tried to avoid that, with the exception of certain high-detail terrain render distances. The prime reason for that was that most visual effects have a direct tactical effect. We neither want people with a very powerful computer to have an advantage over network players without one (therefore the thermal images are always limited to a fixed resolution, just scaled up to match the screen size). By the same token, we don't want players with slow computers to have an advantage by disabling smoke screens and other elements that may obscure the line of sight of which might make target identification and localization easier.

Therefore, either all clients in a network session will have to adopt the host's visual settings, or the host would need to poll all clients settings and then settle for the lowest common denominator.

In a similar way, things that make it more difficult for human players should also make it more difficult for computer-controlled crews (who, however, work entirely different than human brains. What's super-easy for a human, e.g. to recognize a certain face, is very difficult for computers. Conversely, solving a differential equation is something that computers can easily do while a human will always use much, much more time to come to the correct result). Which is why we have been very hesitant with these things in the past.

To give a small example of our thinking:

1) Shadowcasting is nice

2) Targets in shadows are harder to spot, and harder to identify

3) Therefore, if shadowcasting is implemented, computer-controlled units should try to pick positions in the shade

4) If human players find it more difficult to locate targets in the shade, so should computer-controlled crews

5) In that case, a player would be rewarded for avoiding to park his platoon in a brightly lit spot

If on the other hand shadowcasting is implemented as mere eye candy but doesn't change the behavior of computer-controlled units, it may actually result in putting the human player at a disadvantage. This would be an inconsistency that is not desirable. In addition, ignoring the difference between sunshine and shade will result in computer-controlled behavior that is detrimental to the training and education of (young) tank crews working with Steel Beasts. It will force instructors to tinker more with the software to force the computers into positions in the shade while they use Steel Beasts to record instructional videos in order to show doctrinally and tactically sound model-case behavior. This would be a giant waste of precious instructor work time.

Similar arguments can be brought up for most visual effects. That doesn't mean that we won't work on them. I just want to be sure that we also keep an eye on eventual second-order effects. I therefore ask you for a bit of patience because there's a lot more tied to these issues than "just" the application of certain shader effects.

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I certainly sympathize with all that, just as the compromise is to have an unnaturally clear view of everything all the time- but at least everyone has that advantage. I only use the software as a single player, but isn't the trouble also with people having some different local settings like ground clutter, different mods installed and so on during networked sessions?

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Gib: you should be careful to state who "we" is in statements like that...

It would probably create less confusion if you didnt go out of your way to brag about having a different version than most of the users here.

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...but isn't the trouble also with people having some different local settings like ground clutter, different mods installed and so on during networked sessions?

The more ground clutter you select locally, the biggest your disadvantage - but only on very specific conditions (looking barely over a crest; admittedly, that isn't a rare situation). We figured that this was sufficient disincentive to have vastly different settings, and that people would eventually settle for 10...20% ground clutter settings in non-cooperative network sessions.

Different mods have the potential to create a bit more of a trouble - but so far these severe troubles do not appear to have materialized. Should that change, we have a Plan B ready.

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A few comments.

<snip>

To give a small example of our thinking:

1) Shadowcasting is nice

2) Targets in shadows are harder to spot, and harder to identify

3) Therefore, if shadowcasting is implemented, computer-controlled units should try to pick positions in the shade

4) If human players find it more difficult to locate targets in the shade, so should computer-controlled crews

5) In that case, a player would be rewarded for avoiding to park his platoon in a brightly lit spot

If on the other hand shadowcasting is implemented as mere eye candy but doesn't change the behavior of computer-controlled units, it may actually result in putting the human player at a disadvantage. This would be an inconsistency that is not desirable. In addition, ignoring the difference between sunshine and shade will result in computer-controlled behavior that is detrimental to the training and education of (young) tank crews working with Steel Beasts.

<snip>

Similar arguments can be brought up for most visual effects. That doesn't mean that we won't work on them. I just want to be sure that we also keep an eye on eventual second-order effects. I therefore ask you for a bit of patience because there's a lot more tied to these issues than "just" the application of certain shader effects.

I guess one would need to implement a better lighting module along with the shadows.

As at the moment if shadows were implememnted with the current lighting module the light is always generated from a single static point in the sky.

This would (certainly at Dawn & Dusk) generate a significant advantage to one side attacking from (say) the south as the shadows will cover a greater area along their axis of advance.

However the sun does always move from East to West.

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...

However the sun does always move from East to West.

Given that current rotation of our planet, it should allways be east to west...or have you found a way to change that 8-)

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I guess one would need to implement a better lighting module along with the shadows.

Not necessarily. The lighting direction is consistent with the position of the sun in the sky, it's just that when you look at the sky the sun isn't being rendered (there is no sun object; all the dusk and dawn textures fake a sun location to make it less obvious, which may have led in the (wrong) assumption that the sun position is static).

But what I tried to say is that it's not so much the shadowcasting as such that is the challenge. What's of much greater importance (and much more difficult to accomplish) are the consequences that the presence of shadows should have for the behavior of computer-controlled units.

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You know something else that would go a long way to balancing our new found playable OPFOR would be an MTLB engineer vehicle w/line charge, an MTLB ambulance, and perhaps a BREM-1, or a more plausible BTS-4.

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Technically both will orbit around a locus of points as the sun moves within the galaxy. Within the solar system 'fixed' coordinates the sun and each of it's satellites orbit around point between them, biased strongly toward the sun due to it's greater mass, but the sun is perturbed by the motion of all of the satellites it has orbiting it, no matter how insignificantly small...

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As a newbie I would like to request more training modules and gunnery range modules for non standard vehicles like light armor and Humvee scout units with and with out dismounted troops.

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- have a hotkey (shift-f7?) to go from any station to TC unbuttoned, i.e the equivalent of f7,q,q. This would make map reading much easier.

- the Splash messages to include which call for artillery they are associated with. TRP or map coord would be sufficient

- messages from your current vehicle to either be a different color or in a different pane than messages from your current platoon, and again a different color from other platoons and from system messages.

- if an infantry squad is current unit, to have some text on the lower right showing current and nominal strength and squad type and especially if they are equipped with AT weapons.

- mouse over in map to show pop-up hint for unit type, for those of us just learning NATO symbols. optional obviously

- a less hand-contorting default hotkey for 'next unit' than Alt-F10.

- a hotkey to go to and from a vehicle and it's associated infantry squad (for APCs, etc.)

- higher res map tiles on high zoom (eye candy)

Edited by Pakfront

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Technically both will orbit around a locus of points as the sun moves within the galaxy....

Ah, yes. But time is an illusion so, in fact, nothing is moving at all.:)

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- have a hotkey (shift-f7?) to go from any station to TC unbuttoned, i.e the equivalent of f7,q,q. This would make map reading much easier.

A programmable keyboard with macro keys could be your friend, e.g. the Microsoft Sidewinder X6. We have only very few simple hotkey combos left; not sure if you'd like abominations like Shift+Alt+\ where you'd need hands the size of frying pans.

- a less hand-contorting default hotkey for 'next unit' than Alt-F10.

That's why you can reconfigure the hotkey layout. Set it once, and be happy forever as long as you don't delete the corresponding files (they will survive a simple uninstall procedure).

The rest, all good ideas. :)

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I would like to see the ability to click on the message box and be taken to the unit that sent the message if you are acting as Battalion commander. Also a marker or highlight on the map to point out which unit is sending the message and why at a glance.

Need the ability to drag a box to group select a bunch of units and issues orders, can't tell you how much time this would save in offline play or controlling large MP battles.

Another shameless plug for in game save of battles in progress. This would be great help in large scenarios.

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I would like to see the ability to click on the message box and be taken to the unit that sent the message if you are acting as Battalion commander. Also a marker or highlight on the map to point out which unit is sending the message and why at a glance.

If it's a combat report, press Shift+F11, and you will jump in the unit that made the report (need to be the last report,though)

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But I thought that was just the next [random] engaged unit. Didn't realize it was the last one to report.

So, does hitting it again jump to the next to last report location?

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So, does hitting it again jump to the next to last report location?

Don't know, never tried it.

Must admit I usually just look for the callsign on the map.

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