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heinkill

Small gameplay changes to make the campaign rock

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Have just about finished the campaign now and I want to start a thread with collected small suggestions for making the campaign better if the devs ever get back to it in a patch or hotfix. I think the default campaign has a lot of potential, with a few small tweaks. I realise there may be very  little dev interest investing in this, so voluntary limits I have given myself:

 

- no major gameplay rewrites, recoding

- make suggestions that work within the current gameplay system

- don't bother saying 'get rid of unlocks', assume they remain as part of the game

- try not to rehash the excellent suggestions of this thread: http://forum.il2sturmovik.com/topic/11420-flying-bos-dream-campaign-sp-inspiration-singleplayers-only/ : the reason for this new thread is to generate some creativity on the cheap, not requiring the sort of total code rewrite which the 'ideal world' scenario in that thread refers to

 

So, to my el-cheapo campaign engine hotfix ideas. They are not mutually inclusive/exclusive and go from 'should be really easy' to 'might not be so easy':

 

EASY (zero or very little recoding needed)

 

- add more destroyed objects/smoke/craters/garbage/graves to airfields in and outside the Kessel. Make the airfields look more like front line positions, less like Swiss ski resorts

 

- make more realistic 'dirty snow' tiles around airfields and towns to add to the current pristine snow

 

- add shipping and/or traffic to the Volga and Don at the very least around Stalingrad

 

- add objects, smoke and buildings to the empty bank opposite Stalingrad

 

- add more AAA to Stalingrad. It should be a zone you have fly around or over at greater altitude, unless you are attacking targets inside the city

 

- increase the number of aircraft in each mission, within historical limits

 

- increase the number and type of ground attack missions (all you would have to do is add 'bombing' targets for the IL2 as they already are for the Stuka)

 

A LITTLE HARDER (requires some recoding)

 

- change the medals to real historical medals, not fake ones, and make them harder to win eg only one or two per campaign

 

- increase difficulty much faster, so that instead of 10 pilot levels there are only five and players face harder challenges, quicker (more flak over targets, more enemy flights over targets, more incidental traffic over the kessel)

 

- place some 'action points' and targets within the city of Stalingrad. 

 

- limit the aircraft available from each new unlocked airfield to one. Thus to unlock more aircraft, you would need to unlock more airfields, giving the player a real reason to try to unlock airfields;

 

- limit the aircraft available in each chapter so that you have to earn them (ie just implement the Russian 'nearly free to play' model. Before you scream about the stupidity of this for standard/premium game owners, standard/premium owners can still fly ALL their aircraft in QMB, single mission and Online modes.)

 

- Limit the aircraft available in each chapter of the campaign (but not the QMB, single missions or Online modes):

 

Ch 1. Lagg 3/109F4

Ch 2. Yak-1/109G4

Ch 3. IL2/Ju87

Ch 4. He111/PE2

Ch 5. La5/190A3

 

HARDEST (doesn't require substantial new code, just new content)

 

- promote the player automatically in each chapter.

 

Ch. 1 Start the player as wingman/katschmarek (limit sorties to two aircraft only)

Ch. 2 'Promote' the player to 'section leader' (limit sorties to 3-4 aircraft)

Ch. 3 'Promote' the player to 'flight leader' of six aircraft

Ch. 4 'Promote' the player to 'squadron leader' of 12 aircraft

Ch. 5 'Promote' the player to wing/gruppe leader of more than 1 squadron

 

- add (many) more chapters per campaign, allowing for greater variety in campaign plot and storyline. Adding (many) more chapters would allow the campaign to focus not just on the big broad phases of the battle, but smaller local actions eg you could create a campaign with chapters like this (I'm not a historical expert, this is an example only):

 

1. August Luftflotte 4 attacks: Luftwaffe attacks (undestroyed) Stalingrad, VVS defends

2. 5 September Soviet 24th and 66th Armies attack against XIV Panzer: ground attack and interdiction on both sides

3. 12 September German troops try to take Stalingrad in a single push: VVS and Luftwaffe flying a lot of ground attack and escorts over the actual city

3. 18 September, Soviet 1st Guards and 24th Army against VIII Army Corps at Kotluban. VVS vs escorted Stukas

4. Push on Mamayev Kurgan: German tanks/Stukas attack the hill, VVS defends

5. Attack on Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory. Luftflotte 4's Stukawaffe flew 900 individual sorties against Soviet positions at the factory on 5 October

6. Stukageschwader 1, 2, and 77 attacks on Soviet artillery on the eastern bank of the Volga

 

Etc etc. Thus what is just 1 chapter today could become 5, and 5 could become 25.

 

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Defo got some good ideas I'm going to have a proper think before writing anything

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Thanks for the effort Heinkill...

 

I have suggested before...

 

A community effort to create new radio chatter content ... maybe some story furthering, character developing chatter/ jokes / things going on at the airfield / pilots moaning about the conditions / pilots morning fallen comrades / pilots arguing about the leadership, enemy strength, giving each other tips on defensive maneuvers / pilots speculating on the conditions at home, talking about their sweetheart they left behind, how they miss their mothers cooking / Pilots goading and teasing each other etc etc ...

 

All to be delivered on the long ... do nothing ... flights in and out of the combat areas... maybe 2 or 3 set piece audios in each chapter... right now its pretty lifeless. It may give pilots a little more incentive to fly longer missions

 

I would suggest they be recorded in English with German or Russian accents (and subtitles)

 

Little to no coding required, just community effort and adding the audio trigger waypoints in the mission editor.

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Considering the slowdown effect some people have encountered in missions with many planes, I am not sure that simply increasing the number of aircraft in the campaign would be a good idea. Some kind of 'air intensity' option with low/medium/high settings that allow people to customize the number of planes in missions might be a better idea. A similar option could be used for ground objects.

 

 

And here a few easy to implement ideas from me:  

 

- Add the LA-5 as AI plane. In contrast to the Fw-190 the LA-5 was used at Stalingard!

 

- New mission variants/types:

intercept fighter-bombers, reconnaissance, free hunt, transport of supplies into the pocket (He-111)

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I like your suggestion, I missed the opurtunity to fly wing with a ai, But that require a AI witch make sense. It can be that Devs don´t trust their ai enough to let them be flight leaders.

Good topic Heinkill

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I agree with most of these except:

 

* Limiting planes - no, the player should have max choice, incl. flying 1 plane all campaign

* Bank opposite Stalingrad should be empty as is.

* There shouldn't be river traffic if you mean boats. There wasn't any at this stage.

* There should be pontoons over the Volga for tanks etc. Possibly also temporary railheads.

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Anything that could tie my pilot to the campaign, maybe tie in his promotions to unlocks/score anything really, just so I could care about my virtual pilot.

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+1 for pontoon bridges. I'm no expert on the battle but it seems like we should be seeing these on both the Volga and the Don.

 

My personal ssuggestion would be to somehow present the possibility of being intercepted (regardless of player aircraft and mission type) before or after leaving the Action Point. Even in fast missions this would lead to a lot more fun and challenge than just setting autopilot on and refilling your glass waiting to approach the objective or waiting to leave the mission.

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It doesn't seem like they'll be working on the campaign anymore and will soon leave it up to the community for a real campaign when the FMB is released.. At least I hope so they can focus on adding more content.

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Great post Heinkill!

 

Here are some comments and suggestions, in bold italics:

 

- make more realistic 'dirty snow' tiles around airfields and towns to add to the current pristine snow

Maybe best left 'as is' - contemporary pictures show even well-travelled areas looked pretty white & frozen, as seen in the 'then' pics in the 'After the Battle' Stalingrad special.

 

- add shipping and/or traffic to the Volga and Don at the very least around Stalingrad

IIRC shipping traffic is not appropriate for the current BoS time period, when the Volga was frozen. As for movement over the ice, wasn't most Soviet cross-river traffic at night, in this period? Artillery observers in locations like the grain elevator, in German hands since late September, let alone aircraft, would have had a field-day with daytime traffic trying to cross the Volga.

 

- add objects, smoke and buildings to the empty bank opposite Stalingrad

The buildings which should be there, are there eg Krasnaya Sloboda and the other relatively modest areas of habitation on the east bank of the Volga. As for other stuff, the Soviets were past masters of field camouflage and would not have left much in plain view, esepcially as the Luftwaffe was relatively strong.

 

- add more AAA to Stalingrad. It should be a zone you have fly around or over at greater altitude, unless you are attacking targets inside the city

Was the flak over Stalingrad itself that intense? True that German formations in particular had good levels of organic flak but these would have been deployed to defend supply depots, lines of communications etc further back out of field artillery range, not just or preponderantly the front lines. I would like to see more rear area targets, and for THESE, rather than Stalingrad itself, to be better defended by AA. Perhaps the other main flak hazard should be Soviet weapons placed so as to interdict the air bridge traffic, later in the battle (haven't got that far yet).

 

- increase the number of aircraft in each mission, within historical limits

Definitely a VERY good idea. Bombers in particular, apart from the odd aircraft on (eg) a recce mission, should be in at least staffel strength, say 5-6 allowing for serviceability or losses and keeping the system loads down. And there should be no single fighters - a pair should be the minimum.

 

- place some 'action points' and targets within the city of Stalingrad.

Yes and rename 'Action point' to 'Objective' or 'Target area'.

 

- limit the aircraft available from each new unlocked airfield to one. Thus to unlock more aircraft, you would need to unlock more airfields, giving the player a real reason to try to unlock airfields;

Given different units often shared airfields, two types at each might be fine. Especially as all but two of BoS's planes are single-engined, shorter-ranged types, likely to have shared bases closer to the front

 

- limit the aircraft available in each chapter so that you have to earn them (ie just implement the Russian 'nearly free to play' model. Before you scream about the stupidity of this for standard/premium game owners, standard/premium owners can still fly ALL their aircraft in QMB, single mission and Online modes.)

A step in the wrong direction, given the ideal is to let the player choose his plane and fly with it for as long as he chooses in simulation of a squadron career, and we're already rather far removed from that.

 

- Limit the aircraft available in each chapter of the campaign (but not the QMB, single missions or Online modes):

 

Ch 1. Lagg 3/109F4

Ch 2. Yak-1/109G4

Ch 3. IL2/Ju87

Ch 4. He111/PE2

Ch 5. La5/190A3

Again, a step in the wrong direction. If tying something into Chapters, better it's the weaponry unlocks, instead eg German planes get bombs in response to Uranus, Soviet planes get them in response to Wintergewitter and bigger cannon either then or for the air bridge.

 

HARDEST (doesn't require substantial new code, just new content)

 

- promote the player automatically in each chapter.

 

Ch. 1 Start the player as wingman/katschmarek (limit sorties to two aircraft only)

Ch. 2 'Promote' the player to 'section leader' (limit sorties to 3-4 aircraft)

Ch. 3 'Promote' the player to 'flight leader' of six aircraft

Ch. 4 'Promote' the player to 'squadron leader' of 12 aircraft

Ch. 5 'Promote' the player to wing/gruppe leader of more than 1 squadron

Not sure is this is readily practicable where it makes the player a follower and not a leader. That would require a high standard of AI flight-leading ability (under the eyes of the player, any weaknesses will stand out) AND flight-leader radio transmissions to match, eg bandit/bogey calls and issuing orders. At the other end of the scale, BoS does not appear to have the ability for the player to control multiple flights and the engine may struggle there too. So the player leading a flight of c.2-4 aircraft may be what we're left with.

 

- add (many) more chapters per campaign, allowing for greater variety in campaign plot and storyline. Adding (many) more chapters would allow the campaign to focus not just on the big broad phases of the battle, but smaller local actions eg you could create a campaign with chapters like this (I'm not a historical expert, this is an example only):

 

1. August Luftflotte 4 attacks: Luftwaffe attacks (undestroyed) Stalingrad, VVS defends

2. 5 September Soviet 24th and 66th Armies attack against XIV Panzer: ground attack and interdiction on both sides

3. 12 September German troops try to take Stalingrad in a single push: VVS and Luftwaffe flying a lot of ground attack and escorts over the actual city

3. 18 September, Soviet 1st Guards and 24th Army against VIII Army Corps at Kotluban. VVS vs escorted Stukas

4. Push on Mamayev Kurgan: German tanks/Stukas attack the hill, VVS defends

5. Attack on Dzerzhinskiy Tractor Factory. Luftflotte 4's Stukawaffe flew 900 individual sorties against Soviet positions at the factory on 5 October

6. Stukageschwader 1, 2, and 77 attacks on Soviet artillery on the eastern bank of the Volga

 

Etc etc. Thus what is just 1 chapter today could become 5, and 5 could become 25.

I'm not sure exactly when the snows arrived but the issue here is that you would need autumn terrain for the fighting much before Uranus in November. Good idea for future expansion, with the intros for new chapters partly compensating for the lack of context in current mission briefings.

 

Difficult or not, to this I would add:

 

- provide flight results, after each mission, not just player results - at least, kills or losses. And make the player's rewards dependent on the results of the flight he's leading into and in battle, not just his own.

 

- make the player being killed, wounded or coming down in enemy territory have some consequence, beyond failing to earn experience points.

 

- if we can't have planes with individual markings, add wingman # to labels, so you can have at least some sense that they are more than just faceless bots and to some extent keep track in-mission of who's doing what.

 

- enable multiple pilot profiles, switchable between, so that you can have some semblance of a pilot identity and progress, flying the same aircraft thru the campaign. Being restricted to one 'profile' for single player is beyond awful, never mind MP leaderboard stuff.

 

- do something, anything, to add even a semblance that you're flying for an historical squadron. For example, put planes at the bases that real units used during the current SP campaign Chapter and label the airfields to name the units flying each type (drop-down list?) or otherwise do something to make this apparent eg if you're flying from XXX airbase, label your plane Bf 109F, I/JG3. Something, anything, use your imaginations 1C/777!

Edited by 33lima
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And another suggestion from me:

- Add frontline markings on the inflight map. Apparently this can be done in the mission editor as Veteran66 has shown in his Chir Front missions. Even if it doesn't have any consequences I like to know which territory I have to reach in my damaged plane before I can safely bail out or make an emergancy landing.

 

 

- do something, anything, to add even a semblance that you're flying for an historical squadron. For example, put planes at the bases that real units used during the current SP campaign Chapter and label the airfields to name the units flying each type (drop-down list?) or otherwise do something to make this apparent eg if you're flying from XXX airbase, label your plane Bf 109F, I/JG3. Something, anything, use your imaginations 1C/777!

I agree, historical squadrons are really missing. On one server, I can't remember which one, I have seen different units listed when clicking on the airfields, so obviously this is possible.
Moreover for German units skins could be used that show the Geschwader markings. It's nice to know which unit you are fighting.

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While I think these changes are great, it's important to consider that none of these are actually easy. Very rarely are changes actually easy (and really, the only ones who know that, are the devs themselves).

 

That said, I would loove to see more coherence in the campaign, and a fuller debrief (showing who shot down what). Since we actually know that the game actually tracks and logs all that information (there's a mission file viewer out there), this seems definitely doable.

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Great work and thanks for your efforts Heinkill.

 

However, there are two things I vehemently disagree with:

 

1. One pilot profile that is all encompassing, this may be beyond your capabilities to incorporate.

 

2. Pilot level. This is why I have stopped playing the campaign even though everything is unlocked except for the HE111. If at all possible are you able to make this selectable, ie chose your own level or turn it off altogether?

Edited by pilotpierre

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A good list I think.  One other thing I'd like to see is the option to save a mission in the single missions folder.  The campaign really is a grind in all senses of the word but occasionally you get a really great, demanding mission and think "Wow!  I'd like to fly that again" but of course - it's gone! :(  

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Fantastic suggestions. One further improvement I'd like to put forward is get rid of the phrase "Action Point". Instead substitute it with Target Area. This is less arcade like and much more accurate, as the area is more a bubble than a specific spot. You are entering the target area sounds much better than You have reached the action point.

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Those are all great ideas. I like having challenges and rewards for playing. Unlocks, awards, promotions whatever. It's great to be rewarded and be scored.

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I reckon that any suggestions put forward will need to be created and delivered by the community.

 

Individual pilot Character dev, story arc, continuity narrative are all really low priorities for 777... 

They excel technically but are creatively impaired. so let them build the planes and maps and fm's and dm's

while we try breath life into the sim ... And hope they give us permission to do so.

 

To be fair, I don't recall an instance in the dev diaries that spoke of professional writers or ux specialists

being commissioned to turn Pinocchio into a real little boy... So I can't imagine them doing it now.

 

It's all $ and cents at the end of the day, however I wish more people (the devs) could see that a player's

emotional engagement is as important as delivering technically sound gameplay.

 

Memorable experiences can be delivered by just using sound and voice (and music - though the purists may balk

at hearing music) though even that can be artfully written into the pilots/squads storyline like -

 

The quirky Major playing his favourite number over the loudhailers as a big sortie is taking off... or

 

A particular song that your pilot is reminded of as he flies over Stalingrad... There are so many ways of adding humanity and feeling without having to add a pixel of visual content, that might be viewed by the devs (and many players weirdly enough)

as hindering development.

 

We can only keep asking

=zulu=

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Great suggestions Heinkill!

 

If a may, a few further suggestions;

 

-  Be able to return to the airfield and make a landing which the game 'accepts' (for some nominal points) without passing through the exit point or fulfilling the mission objective. This is necessary for those unescorted ground attack missions where you are overpowered by air cover and the only sensible thing to do is run home.

 

- Be able to make a landing which the game 'accepts' at any friendly airfield for some point penalty. This is important when you have a fuel leak or damaged engine and can't make it back to your originating field. 

 

The aforementioned increases in air traffic are desirable. Could someone knowledgeable explain what level of traffic would be accurate to simulate over Stalingrad? If there are technical problems with adding more aircraft then a traffic density slider would be nice so that people with weaker/stronger systems could make appropriate adjustments. 

 

I also reiterate the suggestion for a flight summary showing who shot what and flight losses (I'm for ever trying to figure out what happens to my wingmen when I'm not looking) and unique names for the wingmen.

 

Regards

Albino

Edited by Albino
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Great suggestions Heinkill!

 

If a may, a few further suggestions;

 

-  Be able to return to the airfield and make a landing which the game 'accepts' (for some nominal points) without passing through the exit point or fulfilling the mission objective. This is necessary for those unescorted ground attack missions where you are overpowered by air cover and the only sensible thing to do is run home.

 

- Be able to make a landing which the game 'accepts' at any friendly airfield for some point penalty. This is important when you have a fuel leak or damaged engine and can't make it back to your originating field. 

 

The aforementioned increases in air traffic are desirable. Could someone knowledgeable explain what level of traffic would be accurate to simulate over Stalingrad? If there are technical problems with adding more aircraft then a traffic density slider would be nice so that people with weaker/stronger systems could make appropriate adjustments. 

 

I also reiterate the suggestion for a flight summary showing who shot what and flight losses (I'm for ever trying to figure out what happens to my wingmen when I'm not looking) and unique names for the wingmen.

 

Regards

Albino

+1

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Anything that could tie my pilot to the campaign, maybe tie in his promotions to unlocks/score anything really, just so I could care about my virtual pilot.

Agreed, more story maybe like ROF, more emersion needed to an already great Sim.

Only a small gripe here.

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