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      Hells Gate   03/24/2019

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      Date: 3/30/19 Time: 11:00 AM Server time/ 12:00pm EST/ 1600 GMT
caydel

Visual Supply

18 posts in this topic

I'm curious what the Rats' thoughts are on visual supply someday. I think it would bring back a big chunk of the air war, but would need some real thought as it would essentially require the introduction of a small 'supply economy'. I see it something like this:

Supply Trucks

These are the primary manifestation of visual supply. They represent supply travelling from the factories to the front lines. We can use existing truck models for this.

Supply Depots

Supply depots exist 1-2 towns back behind the front line - far enough that the drive is 10-20 minutes.  Their positions are unmapped and random so they need to be found by enemy reconnaissance / scouting. They would spawn alongside an existing road. They are well-protected by AAA AI, have have a smallish spawn-pool that allows them to react to ground attack.

Supplying front line towns

A supply depot facilitates supply into flags in nearby towns by running AI trucks along the road network into the nearest AB of a town with depleted flags, where they despawn (and spawn lists then increase).  Let's say a truck leaves the supply depot every 1-2 minutes, and 'carries' a certain number of replacement units, dispatched in the order those units were killed out of supply. Destroying the truck destroys those units, and they need to be dispatched from the Supply Depot again at a later time.

This would change the ground war into giving incentive to attack / defend the supply line into a flag. I would make it so that HC can stop supply into a surrounded flag / AB, to avoid destruction of the en-route supply until the supply line can be secured again.

For attacking flags, I would see AI trucks running from the town AB to the FB to replace units that have spawned.

Factories

Supply travels from factories to Supply Dumps via supply trucks. These trucks don't carry specific units so much as 'supply tickets'. When a truck reaches a Supply Depot, those 'tickets' are converted into units (ie, Riflemen, ATGs etc.) that are dispatched via supply trucks to the front. By interdicting the flow of supply tickets to a Supply Depot, you restrict the amount of replacement units the supply deploy can generate to forward on to the front line flags. We can use the existing damage / resupply rate to determine how fast tickets can be dispatched from the factories.

Defending the supply line

The biggest flaw with this type of idea is that there is nothing stopping a lone wolf from driving out into the middle of nowhere with a SPAA and stopping the supply network for an hour. To that end, we would need some sort of EWS and even somewhat vague area-based 'automarking' of nearby enemy units to help defenders (likely air based) locate and destroy the attacker. 

Bridges would become critically important, and require extra defences to protect against air attack. A downed bridge at a critical junction could cause a delay in supply as en-route trucks need to reroute themselves 'the long way around', or even a supply blockage if all bridges into an area without land access are cut. The routing AI will need to be able to accommodate these situations and make decisions as to whether a specific blocked truck should try to re-route, or perhaps carry it's tickets to another reasonably close supply depot that *is* accessible, or even turn back to preserve the supply until a route to it's destination reopens.

Islands

Islands, such as we have in Zeeland, do provide a hitch in this plan. I presume we would need to have supply transports performing a similar role to supply trucks, with the port towns having attached supply depots to dispatch the the supply to it's destinations.

Implementation

I see a few main requirements here:

  • A model for the Supply Depot
  • Logic to dynamically select a location and spawn Supply Depots
  • Truck navigation logic - can be pretty simple - they would have to be able to identify roads and bridges, and take the most direct route to the destination that stays 1-2 town back of enemy flags
  • The ability to create non-player units in game (like on the training server)
  • EWS and automarking logic
  • Figuring out how supply should flow through the resupply network - how do you prioritise active AOs and DOs vs resupplying depleted flags on back towns? Maybe set default rules that HC can override?

 

What are everyone's thoughts?

 

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Great post!

Thos is very similar to the original plan CRS 1.0 had regarding the supply system when the game was first designed. Like you rightfully said, this would expand the game and give players more things to do, different ways to "support the war effort," and potentially open up this game to also be played on mobile with a portion of it being more of a 2D "logistics simulator" that could be controlled by HC types who enjoy these types of things. There are enough people managing virtual sports teams and other browser based games where this could potentially work.

Sone points:

Truck convoys need their own EWS and have positions you can spawn into immediately to defend. It won't work if a player has to drive from the nearest town to defend. In effect the truck convoys would function as both a moving mobile spawn point as well as a persistent polycrewed "vehicle" with say 4-6 SPAA positions you can spawn into. That way players man the AA guns to shoot down planes, but the AI convoy still does the driving.

Heavy equipment should be transported by rail and not by truck. Rail yards need to be seriously well defended.

Kamikaze attacks. This I think is the elephant in the room. If truck convoys are negligible in affecting the overall campaign, players won't attack them. If they are very important abd can determine which way the map goes ppl will attack them at all cost and you will see gamey suicide runs on convoys.

I really have no idea how to address the suicide attack issue outside of a personal spawn point system where you are penalized for KIA abd rewarded for RTB. Any ideas?

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14 minutes ago, aismov said:

Truck convoys need their own EWS and have positions you can spawn into immediately to defend. It won't work if a player has to drive from the nearest town to defend. In effect the truck convoys would function as both a moving mobile spawn point as well as a persistent polycrewed "vehicle" with say 4-6 SPAA positions you can spawn into. That way players man the AA guns to shoot down planes, but the AI convoy still does the driving.

Possibly... The Red Ball Express didn't, AFAIK, have SPAA travelling with it although that was very much due to Allied air superiority at that point in the war. My biggest concern is that persistant polycrewed objects don't yet exist in game, and that would add another large coding task to the projects. I'd rather see better AI AAA concentration near towns, bridges and road junctions to provide some level of defence, along with a good way of alerting allied aircrews about threats to the supply line.

I think having AI work as 'Spotters' to track enemy aircraft over friendly territory is a viable alternative to the current AWS system, though with a certain level of 'communications' delay to help obscure the exact positions. That would help to intercept threats to the supply system before they get there.

17 minutes ago, aismov said:

Heavy equipment should be transported by rail and not by truck. Rail yards need to be seriously well defended.

Long term, I agree, but trains would provide more difficult in figuring out the routing. You can't just re-route a train to where it needs to go - it can't just turn around at a blown bridge! Furthermore, and so it sits...

19 minutes ago, aismov said:

Kamikaze attacks. This I think is the elephant in the room. If truck convoys are negligible in affecting the overall campaign, players won't attack them. If they are very important abd can determine which way the map goes ppl will attack them at all cost and you will see gamey suicide runs on convoys.

I really have no idea how to address the suicide attack issue outside of a personal spawn point system where you are penalized for KIA abd rewarded for RTB. Any ideas?

I would keep the trucks spread out, so that a kamikaze can only take out one or two - and make the supply value carried by those trucks be less than what is consumed by the loss of the plane. Make it a losing proposition to sacrifice a plane for a truck?

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I know discussions have happened about this in the past, I don't see it available for this coming road map as we are still learning the terrain editor and working kinjs out there.

Eventually I can see some form of visual supply take place to bring another element to the air war. 

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1 hour ago, caydel said:

I'm curious what the Rats' thoughts are on visual supply someday. I think it would bring back a big chunk of the air war, but would need some real thought as it would essentially require the introduction of a small 'supply economy'. I see it something like this:

Supply Trucks

These are the primary manifestation of visual supply. They represent supply travelling from the factories to the front lines. We can use existing truck models for this.

Supply Depots

Supply depots exist 1-2 towns back behind the front line - far enough that the drive is 10-20 minutes.  Their positions are unmapped and random so they need to be found by enemy reconnaissance / scouting. They would spawn alongside an existing road. They are well-protected by AAA AI, have have a smallish spawn-pool that allows them to react to ground attack.

Supplying front line towns

A supply depot facilitates supply into flags in nearby towns by running AI trucks along the road network into the nearest AB of a town with depleted flags, where they despawn (and spawn lists then increase).  Let's say a truck leaves the supply depot every 1-2 minutes, and 'carries' a certain number of replacement units, dispatched in the order those units were killed out of supply. Destroying the truck destroys those units, and they need to be dispatched from the Supply Depot again at a later time.

This would change the ground war into giving incentive to attack / defend the supply line into a flag. I would make it so that HC can stop supply into a surrounded flag / AB, to avoid destruction of the en-route supply until the supply line can be secured again.

For attacking flags, I would see AI trucks running from the town AB to the FB to replace units that have spawned.

Factories

Supply travels from factories to Supply Dumps via supply trucks. These trucks don't carry specific units so much as 'supply tickets'. When a truck reaches a Supply Depot, those 'tickets' are converted into units (ie, Riflemen, ATGs etc.) that are dispatched via supply trucks to the front. By interdicting the flow of supply tickets to a Supply Depot, you restrict the amount of replacement units the supply deploy can generate to forward on to the front line flags. We can use the existing damage / resupply rate to determine how fast tickets can be dispatched from the factories.

Defending the supply line

The biggest flaw with this type of idea is that there is nothing stopping a lone wolf from driving out into the middle of nowhere with a SPAA and stopping the supply network for an hour. To that end, we would need some sort of EWS and even somewhat vague area-based 'automarking' of nearby enemy units to help defenders (likely air based) locate and destroy the attacker. 

Bridges would become critically important, and require extra defences to protect against air attack. A downed bridge at a critical junction could cause a delay in supply as en-route trucks need to reroute themselves 'the long way around', or even a supply blockage if all bridges into an area without land access are cut. The routing AI will need to be able to accommodate these situations and make decisions as to whether a specific blocked truck should try to re-route, or perhaps carry it's tickets to another reasonably close supply depot that *is* accessible, or even turn back to preserve the supply until a route to it's destination reopens.

Islands

Islands, such as we have in Zeeland, do provide a hitch in this plan. I presume we would need to have supply transports performing a similar role to supply trucks, with the port towns having attached supply depots to dispatch the the supply to it's destinations.

Implementation

I see a few main requirements here:

  • A model for the Supply Depot
  • Logic to dynamically select a location and spawn Supply Depots
  • Truck navigation logic - can be pretty simple - they would have to be able to identify roads and bridges, and take the most direct route to the destination that stays 1-2 town back of enemy flags
  • The ability to create non-player units in game (like on the training server)
  • EWS and automarking logic
  • Figuring out how supply should flow through the resupply network - how do you prioritise active AOs and DOs vs resupplying depleted flags on back towns? Maybe set default rules that HC can override?

 

What are everyone's thoughts?

 

The original game design had such a system envisioned (actually had a more refined system which took into account horses and oil/fuel, ammo, and equipment).  Some of the models are in game (supply depots, fuel depots (and oil storage tanks), rail depots, etc) but at the moment (with the exception of the rail depots) don't do anything beyond simply be a building.  The rail links used to work, but were turned off as enough of us used to bypass the front lines at places using the rail links to initiate attacks.  

However the supply system never got much beyond the currently built system of produce x per hour and it magically shows up at the front.  Having a visible and interdict-able supply system would definitely open up the game to a wider variety of roles and missions. 

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34 minutes ago, caydel said:

I'd rather see better AI AAA concentration near towns, bridges and road junctions to provide some level of defence

NO NO NO! combat AI needs to be removed in all but the fewest of cases like AF AA, Dock AA, and other strategic locations where ever present defense makes logical and historical sense. The more places you put AA the more places you give gamey defensive screens for pilots who've got themselves into a bad spot.

34 minutes ago, caydel said:

I think having AI work as 'Spotters' to track enemy aircraft over friendly territory is a viable alternative to the current AWS system, though with a certain level of 'communications' delay to help obscure the exact positions. That would help to intercept threats to the supply system before they get there.

all sides had unarmed recon planes, as well as armed too obviously but for a pure AI using the unarmed versions of the contemporary tier fighter means the AI can pretty much run away at will - which is what it should do if attacked. you'd still be able to shoot them down but it would be somewhat difficult.

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8 minutes ago, madrebel said:

NO NO NO! combat AI needs to be removed in all but the fewest of cases like AF AA, Dock AA, and other strategic locations where ever present defense makes logical and historical sense. The more places you put AA the more places you give gamey defensive screens for pilots who've got themselves into a bad spot.

Ok... Do you have a suggestion for defending the supply lines? In reality, vulnerable infrastructure would have AA crews on the ready to defend them.

In game, we can't expect players to man positions 'just in case' (when a given spot may not be attacked for hours or days), and given the speed of the planes, way too much damage can be done before ground-based human players spawn in to react. And when they do, the attacking planes can just move a km or two further up or down the road until the defence shifts, then move again.

The only other option is to make that behind the lines defence completely dependent on friendly air until such a time as persistent multicrewed SPAA can be coded in to travel with the trucks. But again, sufficient air population would be needed to defend, and the friendly air would have to be proactive rather than reactive - you can't give an attacker 2 minutes of tearing up the supply lines before friendly fighters arrive up. They would have to intercept the attackers reliably somewhere near the front lines - if the attackers get past and can shoot up supply, then they've earned it.

Even that strategy would we strongly impacted by air population imbalance - the side with a few extra pilots can easily slip a few past and tear up supply at their leisure.

The only counter that I see is AI AA, which would blunt the advantage that overpopulation brings.

Finally, I'm not a pilot, but I don't see the problem with a pilot using friendly AA to his advantage. I'm sure it happened in reality, though so did friendly fire...

 

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3 minutes ago, caydel said:

Ok... Do you have a suggestion for defending the supply lines? In reality, vulnerable infrastructure would have AA crews on the ready to defend them.

In game, we can't expect players to man positions 'just in case' (when a given spot may not be attacked for hours or days), and given the speed of the planes, way too much damage can be done before ground-based human players spawn in to react. And when they do, the attacking planes can just move a km or two further up or down the road until the defence shifts, then move again.

The only other option is to make that behind the lines defence completely dependent on friendly air until such a time as persistent multicrewed SPAA can be coded in to travel with the trucks. But again, sufficient air population would be needed to defend, and the friendly air would have to be proactive rather than reactive - you can't give an attacker 2 minutes of tearing up the supply lines before friendly fighters arrive up. They would have to intercept the attackers reliably somewhere near the front lines - if the attackers get past and can shoot up supply, then they've earned it.

Even that strategy would we strongly impacted by air population imbalance - the side with a few extra pilots can easily slip a few past and tear up supply at their leisure.

The only counter that I see is AI AA, which would blunt the advantage that overpopulation brings.

Finally, I'm not a pilot, but I don't see the problem with a pilot using friendly AA to his advantage. I'm sure it happened in reality, though so did friendly fire...

 

1) define vulnerable infrastructure. every single town everywhere isn't strategically valuable.

2) has to be a job for SPAA and firendly air. Air needs missions that say "cover this route as we've got supply moving" SPAA needs to be something you can spawn into. "but thats more stuff to code and will delay delivery of the feature" ... really? you think enabling this feature is just going to happen over night? think about what the two features enable map and game wide? all the sudden navy gains life too - this entire feature set is worth doing right and together.

3) you don't design the system so its literal. meaning, if the supply convoy has 20 tanks, 50 trucks, etc etc even 100% destroying the convoy doesn't actually translate to a literal 1:1. you CAN'T do this, you can't allow either side to completely remove the ability for the other side to play. it will end in catastrophe. it has to be a percentage of whats represented and further, it should account for imbalance and adjust the percentage accordingly. remember, we've already got factories. again, if you allow a literal 1:1 removal of supply via convoy destruction and you layer on top a longer production time you'll absolutely kill the game. players need to be able to fight at all times - we've already seen what RDP does to 'the losing side' and you just can't exacerbate this further. can't stress this enough, it needs to be a cool feature, yes. it needs to hurt a bit, yes ... but you CANNOT remove players' ability to play the game they pay for.

4) IRL you didn't hug flak. IRL flak like tracers, works both ways and there were lots of fratricide accounts with planes and flak. hugging friendly AA is akin to moving and firing LMGs - its not realistic and its broken. get a wingman, learn to fly together, if you still get forced into a bad position - hit the silk. there shouldn't be any get out of jail free cards at every single podunk town on the map. further, having these get out of jail free cards lowers the airwar. if you want to hug human controlled flak, setup flak traps, go for it. my guess is you're not going to set those up 20km behind the front lines though - those are predictably nearish FBs and the front lines in general.

AI outside of AFs, Docks, factories, and a few other strategic locations where it would have existed IRL is 'fine' but should be limited to those areas at all costs.

15 minutes ago, xanthus said:

Heck, as a day one player, I think *all* AI should go.

pretty sure we've had AF AI since day 1. the town based AI though was put in to stop zerg hot drops that can no longer happen due to AOs and table timers. i don't understand why its still in game.

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Pity that the railroad system can't not be developed because of lack or resources. Try to imagine.

- Towns at the railroad and adjacent benefits with a XX% faster pool recovery as long as the line and bridges are intact. Pilots may entertain themselves destroying RR bridges. If brisges are destroyed you won't affect the usual pool recovery, just the, lets say 10% faster recovery.

- There could be a "reserve division", like in real live, at the rear. That division would have specific pool and it is camped in barracks or so. By bombing that camp, you kill de pool camped there. This camp would be like another type of factory. If there is pool in that "division" Hc could send it via Railroad with visible train to overstock a town in the front linked with RR or adjacent. If the train is destroyed, that pool is lost and there would be a maximum amount of overstock posible. 

that would provide with new targets to Pilots, camps and trains. those reinforcement division camps could be placed not so far away as factories.

Edited by piska250
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I kind of like the idea of visual supply system  with a more sophisticed supply network with supply depots, railroad stations, and making bridges more important etc...

However, before we all add these things, I would like to see 2 things implemented first:

1).  Implement a better air radar detection system first.  I would like pilots who fly defensive air missions to get more detailed reports when enemy passes by a town with (altitude, speed, and direction) of enemy bombers.  Right now it seems too hard to catch enemy bombers.

2). I would also like to first see airplane fuel modelled correctly :  it should be adjusted down to the map scale of the gameworld - so pilots would be forced to use historical airplanes to making these bombing runs deep into enemy territory.

Also Bomber should have to setup specific RDP / supply interdiction missions inorder to damage enemy factories or supply networks - And these missions should allocate only 1/2  the fuel supply to These bombers, because we all know 95 pct of RDP bombers never RTB.  They despawn after dropping their bombs.  These changes would force bombers to manage their fual accordingly.  

The fuel changes would probably benefit the Allied strategic airforce more than axis because of the airframes they had, but I think the axis had a few airplanes that could reach allied factories on this map too.  So something could probably be adjusted from historical aircraft numbers to give the axis a chance to be competice in this area.

Also, I think what we need to think about is what the original poster of this thread  is proposing is supply interdiction (depots, bridges, etc...) - not strategic bombing -which requires flying all the way to factories. This will shorten the flight times required for bombers  - And we should probably think about the game implications of this.  Need to be careful not to make the gameplay of rdp / supply interdiction too poweful where land-based players are run totally dry of their equipment.  It upsets a lot of players in game.

Cheers!

 

 

Edited by krazydog

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Love the idea, but the only way it works is with a much bigger overall population.  

 

No point putting in hundreds of new targets when there's only 5 people on one side.  

 

Still fun to dream about I guess.  

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16 minutes ago, krazydog said:

I kind of like the idea of visual supply system  with a more sophisticed supply network with supply depots, railroad stations, and making bridges more important etc...

However, before we all add these things, I would like to see 2 things implemented first:

1).  Implement a better air radar detection system first.  I would like pilots who fly defensive air missions to get more detailed reports when enemy passes by a town with (altitude, speed, and direction) of enemy bombers.  Right now it seems too hard to catch enemy bombers.

2). I would also like to first see airplane fuel modelled correctly :  it should be adjusted down to the map scale of the gameworld - so pilots would be forced to use historical airplanes to making these bombing runs deep into enemy territory.

Also Bomber should have to setup specific RDP / supply interdiction missions inorder to damage enemy factories or supply networks - And these missions should allocate only 1/2  the fuel supply to These bombers, because we all know 95 pct of RDP bombers never RTB.  They despawn after dropping their bombs.  These changes would force bombers to manage their fual accordingly.  

The fuel changes would probably benefit the Allied strategic airforce more than axis because of the airframes they had, but I think the axis had a few airplanes that could reach allied factories on this map too.  So something could probably be adjusted from historical aircraft numbers to give the axis a chance to be competice in this area.

Also, I think what we need to think about is what the original poster of this thread  is proposing is supply interdiction (depots, bridges, etc...) - not strategic bombing -which requires flying all the way to factories. This will shorten the flight times required for bombers  - And we should probably think about the game implications of this.  Need to be careful not to make the gameplay of rdp / supply interdiction too poweful where land-based players are run totally dry of their equipment.  It upsets a lot of players in game.

Cheers!

 

 

1) sure - all for it

2) fuel is modeled correctly. the map may be half scale but the altitude isn't. careful here too or you're going to pigeon hole the LW. while 'realistic' having no real escort fighter options likely won't make for fun gameplay. both sides should have escort options - i've provided a few realistic options the LW could use for this based on actual armed recon configurations for 109Gs and various configurations showing 190s in theory had the option for 3 x drop tanks.

 

i dont understand why you'd only allow 1/2 fuel load when you state most don't RTB anyway. now you're making sure none of them RTB so how does this force them to manage their fuel? doesn't make much sense and isn't needed. incentivize RTB or KIA by player don't punish MIA.

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It's bad game design to require a defender to be in place and ready for an attack that may never come, or may come after an indeterminate delay. The WWIIOL terminology for that is "bunker duty". A few players claim to like "bunker duty" defense, but most don't. It's not fun.

Designing a supply system in which trucks/trains/ships are moved by AI without letting the supplied side determine when to move those supplies...concentrating the traffic at night and during inclement weather, for instance...and having those supplies move over a large area of the map means that a very large amount of AA "bunker duty" will be needed. That would decrease the game's average fun delivery and/or tilt gameplay further toward the side that can provide more airborne and surface defense of its supplies and more attackers for the other side's supplies.

Historically, most close-behind-the-lines supply movement by armies that don't have air supremacy has occurred at night and in inclement weather, when it's substantially non-observable by enemy aircraft. That's because real armies aren't stupid, and understand that otherwise they'd create easy targets for the other side's air force. Why would we want a WWIIOL supply system to operate unrealistically in that regard, given that it's easily foreseeable that it'll break the game in several ways...?

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3 hours ago, madrebel said:

1) sure - all for it

2) fuel is modeled correctly. the map may be half scale but the altitude isn't. careful here too or you're going to pigeon hole the LW. while 'realistic' having no real escort fighter options likely won't make for fun gameplay. both sides should have escort options - i've provided a few realistic options the LW could use for this based on actual armed recon configurations for 109Gs and various configurations showing 190s in theory had the option for 3 x drop tanks.

It would be historical to have no fighter escort on strategic bombing until about 1944.  This was the main reason the british switched to night bombing during the war.

But I can see some of your points too.  Yes, I guess it would have to be a gameplay decision.

PS - I have never seen an airplane run out of fuel.   But maybe I just don’t fly enough.

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4 hours ago, jwilly said:

It's bad game design to require a defender to be in place and ready for an attack that may never come, or may come after an indeterminate delay. The WWIIOL terminology for that is "bunker duty". A few players claim to like "bunker duty" defense, but most don't. It's not fun.

Designing a supply system in which trucks/trains/ships are moved by AI without letting the supplied side determine when to move those supplies...concentrating the traffic at night and during inclement weather, for instance...and having those supplies move over a large area of the map means that a very large amount of AA "bunker duty" will be needed. That would decrease the game's average fun delivery and/or tilt gameplay further toward the side that can provide more airborne and surface defense of its supplies and more attackers for the other side's supplies.

Historically, most close-behind-the-lines supply movement by armies that don't have air supremacy has occurred at night and in inclement weather, when it's substantially non-observable by enemy aircraft. That's because real armies aren't stupid, and understand that otherwise they'd create easy targets for the other side's air force. Why would we want a WWIIOL supply system to operate unrealistically in that regard, given that it's easily foreseeable that it'll break the game in several ways...?

Sounds like setting AI supply routes, timing, and organizing players to attack/recon or defend would be something that could be done by the HC, or if we go back to the day of squads controlling/watching their designated sector of the front something they could do.

But one thing we learned with HC over the years is that you have to have a system that can function well on it own while running on autopilot. Last thing we need is a system designed in a way where it becomes a second job for the poor HC guy assigned to monitor the supply lines. Something simply where you can designate supply to only go at night or at some other point in time.

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If players could stock pile ‘points’ at the individual and squad level then players/squads could ‘order up’ supply from HQ that they then have delivered anywhere they want. no need for HC.

 

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55 minutes ago, aismov said:

Sounds like setting AI supply routes, timing, and organizing players to attack/recon or defend would be something that could be done by the HC, or if we go back to the day of squads controlling/watching their designated sector of the front something they could do.

But one thing we learned with HC over the years is that you have to have a system that can function well on it own while running on autopilot. Last thing we need is a system designed in a way where it becomes a second job for the poor HC guy assigned to monitor the supply lines. Something simply where you can designate supply to only go at night or at some other point in time.

Probably the simplest auto system is what the original system was to have been, it requires no player input to run

Factory fills equipment order tickets
Those leave the factory and travel town by town, following the depot links to their required destination.

There is traffic the other way, towns send raw materials they generate, depot by depot to the factories.

Small farm town might send AI horse carts over to a larger town, which sends out from the next connecting depot with a truck convoy.
Some may be capable of sending out via a train.

You basically have at least something moving someplace somewhere on the map at all times.

Downed bridges do delay transportation as the AI has to spend some of the resources to repair the bridge before it can procede
A horse cart might have to make quite a few trips from depot to bridge and back to "spend" enough to repair it.

And the whole system just runs on it's own, and the convoy times are somewhat random, inbound stuff is based on need
replacement tickets

Outbound stuff is based on the RP generation ability of a town, when it's storage is full, it sends out a convoy to get the RP on it's way to the factory.

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