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PatrickAWlson

Dynamic Campaign for BoX

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I didn't want to hijack the  campaign appreciation thread (it deserves to be left alone :) ) so I'm starting a new one.  The idea is a history altering dynamic single player campaign.  I have thought of doing it.  Then I think about how much work it would be and I stop thinking about it :) .  Still fun to talk about.

 

In this alternate reality the "other" side is the aggressor.  The player's side has his back against the wall and cannot afford to lose more than two battles.  The campaign would be fought as a series of battles until a winner was declared or exhaustion sets in. 

Green is starting point.  Red is losing.  Purple is winning.

For the Germans:

BOBP (Eastern edge) -> BOBP (western edge) -> Stalingrad (western edge) -> Kuban (western edge) -> Kuban (western edge) -> Kuban (Eastern edge) -> Stalingrad (Eastern edge) -> Kuban (Eastern edge) -> Moscow (western edge) -> Moscow (Eastern edge)

 

For the Russians it would be mostly reversed: 

Moscow (Eastern edge) -> Moscow (western edge) -> Stalingrad (Eastern edge) -> Kuban (Eastern edge) -> Kuban (western edge) -> Stalingrad (western edge) -> BOBP (Eastern edge) -> BOBP (western edge).

 

Come up with conditions where the player's actions contribute but out of mission events also play a role.  Winning moves the lines in the short run.  Move the lines far enough and win the battle.  Go to the next battle.  Lose and go back to the previous battle.  Spend too much time going back and forth and a stalemate is declared as both sides are exhausted.

 

 

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A lot of work it most certainly would be, but as you said fun to talk about. I'm game! :)

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Sounds like a great idea. Would also love to have some kind of resource management element, taking factories or other such and getting money for completed missions to buy more or better aircraft...

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There are lots of ways to achieve this in principle. Some of them would require vast amounts of work and some would require very little work.

Paradoxically, the more detailed the level of simulation, the harder the workload creating it, but the less the campaign appears to be dynamic.

 

An extremely basic solution is to simply move the front line forward by 100m every time a plane is shot down or a ground target destroyed.

In this case it is clear to the player that their actions have an effect, as even if they do not know about the front line movement mechanic, they can see that their side makes progress when they are successful in their missions and the opposing side makes progress when they are not successful.

 

A basic solution is good because:

  • It takes less time to develop
  • The player's actions are more meaningful with regards to the end result
  • Victory or defeat depends on few factors out of the player's control
  • It is simple to control the difficulty of achieving campaign victory

The basic solution is bad because:

  • It can feel more like a sport game, than a simulation of anything
  • Some factors that should effect the outcome, might not

Some of the negatives of a basic solution can be hidden by obscuring the mechanics of the campaign to the player.

 

 

 

An extremely complex solution would be to attempt to simulate a realistic number of ground and air forces (some in game and some only simulated in the background of the campaign engine). Simulating the unit's morale, supply, battles, manpower and whatever else one might wish to add into the soup.

However, in this case it is not longer clear to the player that their actions have an effect on the outcome. There are so many factors that determine the outcome of the campaign that the player's efforts are always going to be a drop in the sea and the result of the campaign will be, in most part, entirely disconnected from the player's actions. if they player is unaware of the mechanics of the campaign, they will likely not see any evidence that their actions make a difference to the result.

 

A complex solution is good because:

  • It allows for complex emergent behaviors to take place that can add to the story of a campaign

  • Players are more likely to have an intuitive sense of the impact of their actions

  • It is more likely to reflect real life and be more believable

  • It can be possible to give players strategic control of all or part or the campaign forces if desired and implement a kind of meta strategy game

 

A complex solution is bad because:

 

  • The workload to create it can be vast and the results of testing unpredictable
  • Difficulty of winning the campaign is very hard to control
  • The player has very little impact on the results of the campaign; the result may appear to be random

 

Of course, there are many middle grounds between these two approaches.

 

Falcon 4.0 is firmly in the complex camp, most others I can think of take some form of middle ground.

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This would be pretty awesome...

 

sounds like galactic conquest from star wars Battlefront :)

ah the good old days...

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This would be amazing...

I think an RNG factor should be added to the system since not everything should depend on the player's mission success/failure. For example, both sides will have X number of bombing/ground attack mission each day. Depending on the outcome of those missions, the RNG factor will change. Of course the player will participate only in a fraction of those missions, as they could be intercept enemy bombers or escort friendly ground attack planes etc... The rest of the missions in which the player does not participate will be "simulated" after the day based on morale, equipment that each side has, whichever side is on the offensive and so on... This way the player will know that his actions do have impact on the "war", but not everything depends on him/her.

 

RNG factor - Both sides start with 50/50% chance of a breakthrough or changing the frontline forward. Each map can be split in a couple of regions and depending of the successful bombing missions in each region the frontlines will change with N amount of meters (For example, a successful ground attack mission would increase the RNG factor with 5%. So if one faction has 6 successful bombing/ground attack mission in one day while the other has 1, the odds will be 75%/25% for a breakthrough). Objectives can be added throughout the maps and the side that holds a given object will have a higher RNG factor in a given region.  Of course when a certain objective has been captured the battle is considered as won and you advance on the next map.

Bombing missions -  Bombing missions can not only change the RNG factor, but also reduce enemy equipment storage. 

 

Ground attack missions - By destroying enemy artillery, frontline soldiers you are increasing the odds of a breakthrough in the region as the enemy positions are weakened.

Fighters - As per usual  the fighters will have to intercept / escort bombers / protect  ground units etc...

 

Morale - Morale can affect the RNG factor as well. If a faction is on the offensive and has won a couple of battles in a row, the morale of the troops would be increased as well.

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In my humble opinion any campaign where the players’ singular action affects the position of the front lines AT ALL is highly unrealistic and “gamey” and therefore undesirable.

 

Now if you took the time to script actual tank battles (I’ve done it many times - tedious), pipe those in to an “infantry dice roll” and let them play out, and the players’ contribution is what it is...maybe..I don’t know Patrick.

 

I think you’ll do a great job at whatever you create, but from where I sit the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

 

 

 

 

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Pondering this more - PTO and carriers would be the perfect subject for your idea.

 

The player, or the players’ flight could in theory sink a carrier, or contribute to this event...which would obviously have huge ramifications for the next battle. Even if AI takes out a carrier, no matter. Same huge event trigger.

 

I know you’re considering what we currently have - but just thinking out loud.

 

 

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Quite honestly the idea that a simple pilot could affect the course if the war in a comprehensible and believable manner is ludicrous to begin with. No single pilot can affect economic potentials of entire nations and those are what won the war we're talking about. Even if the IJN "wins" at Midway due to the player's achievements it does not change the economic potential of the US to eventually field Carrier Task Forces with a dozen or more flattops and a metric truckload of escorts. Japan can't seriously affect that economic potential ... and that makes the outcome of the entire affair not that different in the end. 

 

Same for the Luftwaffe. The player can shoot down dozens of soviet aircraft over Stalingrad (which several real-life pilots did), it still won't affect the soviet buildup on the flanks, the grinding down of german formations in this "War of the Rats", the willful blindness of german high command to what was happening and neither does it change the growing output of the soviet war industry that will overwhelm german capabilities from 1943 on.

 

Leave changing history to strategy games for these deal with the strategic and operational factors that really decide wars.

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6 minutes ago, csThor said:

Quite honestly the idea that a simple pilot could affect the course if the war in a comprehensible and believable manner is ludicrous to begin with. No single pilot can affect economic potentials of entire nations and those are what won the war we're talking about. Even if the IJN "wins" at Midway due to the player's achievements it does not change the economic potential of the US to eventually field Carrier Task Forces with a dozen or more flattops and a metric truckload of escorts. Japan can't seriously affect that economic potential ... and that makes the outcome of the entire affair not that different in the end. 

 

Same for the Luftwaffe. The player can shoot down dozens of soviet aircraft over Stalingrad (which several real-life pilots did), it still won't affect the soviet buildup on the flanks, the grinding down of german formations in this "War of the Rats", the willful blindness of german high command to what was happening and neither does it change the growing output of the soviet war industry that will overwhelm german capabilities from 1943 on.

 

Leave changing history to strategy games for these deal with the strategic and operational factors that really decide wars.

Agreed, but Gambit's post has a valid point.

53 minutes ago, Gambit21 said:

The player, or the players’ flight could in theory sink a carrier, or contribute to this event...which would obviously have huge ramifications for the next battle. Even if AI takes out a carrier, no matter. Same huge event trigger.

You won't win the war, if your flight sinks an aircraft carrier, but you surely will influence the battle. And that is what a dynamic campaign would be about, not changing the outcome of the war.

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In Il-2 1946, there was a mod of sorts called Dynamic Campaign Generator that did almost precisely this. it could be used to generate co-op missions or just for single player. 

There was lots of customization options in terms of difficulty, density of air activity, etc, and due to the sheer number of possible maps there were lots of possible campaign scenarios. 

The actions of your missions and AI flights were counted, and in practice it functioned a lot like the Tactical Air War server. Tanks captured territory, supply convoys, trains and ships resupplied defense positions. Each squadron on the map had plane limitations, pilot stats were tracked and their AI rank improved over time. If a squadron ran low on planes it would only spawn a couple planes in a flight, if it had a full roster it might spawn 8 planes. 

It was/is pretty complex and there is potentially a lot going on in any given mission. It captured the feel of a highly active battlefield with chaotic encounters and lots of action. it provided incentives to do well for the player but in theory the impact of a particularly good AI sortie was just as much as a player sortie, since it was all about targets destroyed or protected.

As [DBS]Browning suggests, because of the complexity, a single player's action was hard pressed to turn the tide of the campaign, especially in a fighter squadron (ground attack it was easier as the player was generally better at killing ground targets . And due to problems with AI (even with the very good AI in Il-2 1946) you sometimes lost entire flights on takeoff, or they tried to attack targets they couldn't actually kill, etc. Occasional weird issues like that could derail the entire campaign, and you would get odd, frustrating stalemates due to how the capture mechanics worked.

It was pretty good but, from my perspective, not significantly improved from something like the 'career mode' that we currently have already. The front line moves, your AI squadmates 'level up' (and DCG had a similar problem as Career Mode does with AI squadmates having very short lifespans), you get a variety of mission types that sometimes get repetitive. And it had its own unique downsides in the way the campaign sometimes didn't function properly or believably. 


 

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This sounds like the campaign from Digital Integration's Tomahawk game from 1985.

 

Now that takes me back.

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A fully complex dynamic campaign would most probably be too ambitious, I guess. But what if a certain loss level for each side could be set as a standard, that more or less accurately represents historical losses. The game could then compare that to the achievements not only of the player, but for the whole squadron. Of course that should be set in such way that even though the player may be able to change the timeline somewhat, it should still remain within a plausible frame, e.g. the player won't be able to single handedly win a campaign that was historically lost.

 

What I also would like to see is a bit of logistic. For example, with the present career mode the player has an unlimited supply of bombs. Not reaslistic.

 

I also think that putting in place some RPG elements could make things more interesting. Starting a new career, the player has to choose a character, complete with biography. A nice touch, but it doesn't influence the players career in any way. Now how about choosing a charismatic character would boost morale within the squadron, or another character have good organizational perks (helps with the logistics). Then having several characters to choose from would start to make some sense. I know this has nothing to do with a pure "flight sim". Probably it would be more of a "pilot sim", but I think it would provide higher immersion.

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Whilst this is a great idea for PWCG or similar, I don't think it's a good suggestion for the game it's self.

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For a proper Dynamic campaign we need something like Falcon 4.0's amazing system, instead of trying to make the player believe he can win the war with his pilot, make it so you control all the flights going on through the map, the ground war, ect... You can jump into any flight before take off or just watch the whole thing play out from 2d map mode. It's absolutely incredible what microprose achieved with that sim, it's still the best thing I've ever played and I just started here in 2019. Flying an F-16 with laser guided munitions and 6 amramms makes impacting battles a lot easier.

Edited by JonRedcorn

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