Bridges are ZOC Capture Points
My apologies for the length of this post. I trust the reader will understand when they see that it is brilliant, incisive, and could revolutionize the game!
I had an epiphany a few weeks ago and wanted to share, this is what it was: in this game bridges act as capture points that effectively create Zone of Control gameplay, and lead to the type of gameplay that advocates believe ZOC will bring - more realistic, coordinated, broad based fights - much more so than the normal flag building twitch fests. Let me explain.
Players have often advocated for a zone of control capture system. Clearing and holding a broad area is more realistic than one man building 'captures'. It would necessitate the type of coordination and teamplay more akin to what people expect and desire from a combined arms wargame than the wack-a-mole sort of play we currently see. Thus a ZOC capture system would be a step up from cap-the-flag for a game where the ambition is to simulate combined arms warfare.
However, that may need a lot of coding and CRS' resources are limited, and one can't be certain how the resource investment would pay off. For that reason, whenever I think to suggest options for game improvement, the line of thought is towards how the desired solution might be implemented on a limited resource budget: how to get there from here without needing a complete rewrite of any major system, and ideally, how to test the idea on a limited basis to see whether it is valid.
And so, as a substitute for a ZOC capture system, that might be tested without any coding at all, I wrote a post advocating an open city flag. This would be a 'flag building' that was simply an exposed platform with a flag on it. The idea being that to capture such a facility, one needs to control the area more broadly, dominating the potential lines of fire, in order that the point is secure enough for infantry to capture. One must control a zone, as it were - ZOC. The city flag was the suggested facility because it has no attendant spawn wherefrom the cappers might be sniped, and is more likely to be removed from the immediate area of other spawn points. Its capture would thus not be as likely to devolve into a silly ongoing spawn-twitch-die fest. This idea would allow a test of ZOC gameplay with minimal resources: artist makes simple object, it is designated as a flag building (there are several types, and their designation is probably a production rather than coding chore) and terrain guys place new 'building' here and there.
Next a fella posted an idea suggesting a trench FMS. I looked at that idea and thought that it would make a great flag building, allowing a player to 'guard the flag' while looking out on a broad expanse of battlefield (more so than from a window), thus being more engaged in the fight, making guard duty more acceptable and desirable. As well, part of the appeal was that a trench flag would be more open than the normal flag building. Not tightly placed among other buildings, located in an area looking out on an avenue of probable enemy ingress, lower slung than the flag building and thus easier to see over and around, it would promote a more realistic, combined arms, broader based fight, as with the suggested city flag. Thus while the trench provides some cover, its relatively exposed nature would also encourage ZOC gameplay.
THIS BRINGS US TO THE BRIDGES
Probably because the player who suggested the trench FMS also had a post advocating for capturable bridges, I thought a bit on bridge fights and realized that they act as exposed points of capture that promote ZOC gameplay and lead to more coordinated, broader based, combined arms, realistic fights; they are in fact an actual in game example of the above ideas, and deliver what those ideas would hopefully acheive.
The bridge is a structure that often must be captured/controled in order for a side to advance on their objective - the capture or liberation of a town. They divide, or are located in front of, towns, and they are at times the only way for ground vehicles to move on the enemy. While inf can swim the rivers, that is a very slow, risky endeavour, whereas the bridge is quicker and provides at least a little cover (just like a trench). An inf may swim across, vehicles may travel out a ways and cross a distant bridge, paras may fall from the sky, but the main body of an attacking or defending force generally must, or is at least attempting, to use the bridge. It is a capture/control point in the capture/recapture of a choke point, and an open/semi-exposed one at that.
And what are the results? In bridge fights with good player numbers you'll see more of a realistic, combined arms, broad based battle, with a sort of instinctive coordination. For example you'll have tanks and atgs arrayed at various points along the river that, even when under no direct, coordinated command, by reading the map, and observing the combat, tend to space themselves with reasonable judiciousness, going where they see a gap, or a need for their unit. You'll have an lmg, riflemen, and snipers covering the bridge, others covering one side of the city or another, mortarmen shelling the opposite side of the bridge, planes strafing and attacking along the enemy's shore, and of course inf charging the bridge itself to cross, defend, repair, or destroy it. And a bridge, while effectively a capture point, is not a spawn; it does not involve camping unless an FMS has been placed nearby.
In this game the fight over a bridge is my favorite type of battle for a very simple reason: in a bridge fight I feel like I am playing a wargame in all senses of the word, I'm involved in a broad and coordinated effort, whereas when I am charging, capping , or defending a flag building, I feel like it is just a game with ww2 weapons. Bridge fights are much more immersive, they have a much more realistic feel.
Of course a single inf might sneak across the river and cap the spawn or AB and end the fight to cross. Or a bridge battle might turn into a boring stalemate. But in general, this 'capture point', straddling the waters that lie between an army and its objective, leads to the kind of play that ZOC advocates propose: a more realistic, combined arms, coordinated, broad based fight.
Thus the bridge is effectively a semi-open, capture point which in fact leads to the kind of gameplay to which the ZOC, the open city flag, and the semi-open trench flag would aspire. It is an actual, in-game example of the above ideas, and it works. It delivers the kind of gameplay for which most players have expressed a desire; the kind of gameplay most seek when trying the game.
It is proof of the aforementioned ideas. IT IS PROOF!!! ITS ALIVE!!!!!!!!
Thus was my epiphany, realizing that the bridge acted as this game enhancing style of capture point, which I ultimately realized is not at all surprising. As with so many things in life, capture buildings and zones of control are not disparate entities, not nearly; they exist on a spectrum. A flag building is in fact a ZOC, it is just small, and is enclosed by walls and a roof. If you remove the walls and roof, and level the floor to the ground, voila, a small ZOC of the traditional sort - a designated area. What removing the walls and roof does gameplay wise is to increase the involvement of the surroundings, and the units therein, in the fight. One may cover, defend, or attack the zone from many points. Thus when the zone is exposed, it is effectively broadened. Bridges often must be captured, and their exposed nature regarding both object and placement, creates an extensive zone that must be controled, thus, in point of fact, not merely in effect, they are ZOC capture points.
Further, consider what happens when you expand the zone to contain a very large piece of terrain. If you are required to oust all enemy from that area you will inevitably find yourself involved in a mole hunt. You will sweep a copse, the nme will see you coming, move to the other side of the bush as you pass, and you will not capture because one inf, who controls nothing, is sneaky and gamey enough, to thwart you. It will be a silly waste of time, and not at all what most players are looking for.
On the other hand, with a small exposed area designated for capture, you cannot hide, you must fight, you must fire on the enemy, whether it is from the ZOC or its surroundings.
Which raises the question as to the ideal ZOC. Is it the large broad section of town or country, somewhat arbitrary, or the small area situated at a crucial point vis a vis its surroundings. I think the small exposed point may actually be better for gameplay.
Consider Warthunder: Its ZOCs are not generally huge, usually exposed from this and that angle, and almost always from above. It is an area to fight over that does not define the limits of the fight in the manner of an enclosed flag building, rather it defines a battle's centerpoint. You must cap the small area to win, players will thus inevitably collide, yet you must control the surroundings in order to cap the small area.
The above ideas of open, and semi-open flags are thus not merely less resource intensive replacements for ZOCs, they are in fact ZOCs, and may even be better for the game than broader areas of capture.
This game might stand to benefit greatly from more 'bridge fights', that is, from more fights over bridge like, capture points. Luckily, the idea of open and semi-open flags is not onerous in its implementation, and may in fact only take the work of artists and producers, and not necessarily a whole lot of that. It also would not take a wholesale change to any part of the game; it could be implemented on a small scale. There are several different types of flag buildings; replacing one does not mean all must be changed. Such flags may be strewn in limited quantities about the map as a further test of this idea's validity.
More 'bridge style' flags, is thus an ideal sort of proposition for ww2ol in its current state of restricted development capacity: it affects a central element - the nature and flow of battle - in a potentially very positive manner; it is relatively low resource; and it may be implemented on a limited, testing basis.
Its a win, win, win baby!
In implementing this what would CRS have to lose? A little time perhaps, which admittedly they don't have a lot of. But in the least they would gain a trench, a sort of defensive and potential PPO object players have often requested. The desired gameplay results might not pan out, but it almost certainly wouldn't break things, after all, bridges don't break the game, and in my opinion enhance it.
And so, again in my opinion, making some exposed capture points would be a great idea to try.