Realism is well and good, but the problem is... if we were to implement said realism into WZ2100 (or many different games), the entire dynamic of the game changes dramatically. As it is, one of the more popular strats is to rush Scourge missles (high power AND huge range), and put them on light bodies to go kill stuff at high speeds. If opposing units can not even take a single hit from said missles before becoming "disabled", then every single other unit and strategy goes out the window, and it becomes "who can get Scourge's the quickest".
you are absolutely right: no sane designer can take this game as is, make everything use a "either one shot kills or not-worth-mentioning" damage system, and not deserve to eat 3 dozen pitchforks generously donated by formely-content players. there are two things i always stand by when it comes to gameplay altering features/imrovements to the source code:
- the old behavior is still accessible - new behavior must explicitly set in mods so that no breakage of old mods occurs, or if any, very little breakage.
- all change that signifigantly alters game balance (such as the above "one shot, usually one kill" possibility) will probably put existing mods into an irrecoverable downard spiral of unbalance, and thus should be tested and used only with new mods designed specifically to take advantage of new gameplay changes.
in regards to something like scourge overbalance happening: if you made a game that was completely realistic, there'd be absolutely no balance whatsoever -- there couldn't be... the whole reason for military research and development is to find new and exciting ways to slaughter your enemy in the most pathetically effective way -- look at hiroshima and nagasaki: if you call that "balance", i'd call you a psychotic.
warfare works sort of like a business (it's been said it works the other way around too): "supply and demand" is a very big deal... if your enemy has a whole lot of tanks but no infantry, you're probably not going to develop anti-infantry weapons, and you certainly won't bother wasting time teaching your troops hand-to-hand combat techniques. so, your enemy has tanks... you find out that you can't get anywhere near close enough to them with your infantry to plant explosives on their underbelly (no armor down there, so very light explosives do the job), or toss grenades through the hatch, or anything like that because they have really effective machineguns, and let's say, nerve-gas grenade launchers just for effect. you could make gas masks for all your soldiers, but then you'd still lose most of them to the mg's. so, you decide you will develop really really long range armor piercing rocket and the means to launch them: they allow you to kill the enemy's tanks with zero risk to your own troops, since they're way outside the maximum range of the tanks. you make a lot of these, and destroy all the enemy tanks. the enemy, then, realizes, that your infantry aren't at all trained in infantry vs infantry close combat, and make a lot of guns, and train their soldiers to wipe you out, or alternatively, make really manueverable light vehicles that move too fast for the rocket launchers to effectively take out. that's simply how war works.
giving a real world example: tanks... if the machinegun never existed, neither would the tank: machineguns were so disasterously effective in trench warfare conditions during world war 1 that the tank was created specifically to take out machinegun positions, while providing protection for doing this (aircraft was entirely ineffective at hitting such precise targets). then petrol grenades and other incendiaries ("molotov cocktails") were used to take out the tanks, so the tanks were given a whole lot more armor, so that only really lucky throws with an incendiary grenade would have any effect at all. at this point tanks had very small cannons, as they only had infantry and light emplacements to deal with, and were effectively impervious to all threats, so bigger tanks with big cannons were created to take out other tanks, so now all new tanks needed bigger cannons to handle anti-tank tanks, and then man-portable anti-tank rifles and rocket launchers became effective, so tanks needed machine guns to protect against that threat, so tanks are given stronger armor. simple explosive shells and rockets now do nothing against a tank, and shaped-charge warheads are developed to melt a hole through armor. for some time thicker/stronger armor races more powerful shaped charges until reactive armor (that's the term you were looking for, master) explodes outward on contact with an explosive shell, neutralizing to some extent the effect of the "explosive jet", and pushing it away from the tank so that it can harmlessly burn out. at this point, the only way for explosive shells to be of any effect is for them to either be nuclear, or hit in the exact
same spot as was hit previously, which, unless you're 5 meters away, isn't all that easy. more than ever before, tanks are pretty much invincible - those with reactive armor pretty much sit around and take out anything that comes their way (note that british tanks had a passive form of reactive armor during desert storm, and not one of them was destroyed by formely devastating anti-tank weapons). so explosive weapons don't work any more, so researches have the classic idea of "let's take a big metal shard, and send it towards a tank a 1.5 km/s. this was really really effective, and no known tank in existence, nor any that are conceivably producible within the next several years could possibly withstand the effects, as these new weapons can penetrate armor 3+ times harder/thicker than that which is found on the heavier tanks, and reactive armor doesn't make them any less effective - in fact, reactive armor is now weaker against these weapons than old style "metal plates". not only that, but the technology is cheap, and can be mounted on light and fast vehicles such as the humvee which can easily outmanuever a tank and always take it out from a safe distance: the future for tanks is bleak... the only way to protect against this new weapon is to use old-school armor, and everyone is already really good at defeating old-school armor - soon enough, as more world-militaries figure out how to develop these new weapon systems, building a tank will quickly become an "instantly lost investment". that is what you call "escalation".
never do two equal armies meet in battle - one is always superior to the other -- be it technology or number of soldiers. the only way to even up and defeat a more powerful enemy is through tactical superiority. the build up of scourge units already does happen in warzone multiplayer, or at least the last 5 games i've played, except they take the form of mantis/hover/heavy-cannon units, as they seem to be the preffered unit used in rush tactics. your balance issues already exist, since the only way to counter a well-rounded assault vehicle is to be able to take it out instantly -- if you can't take it out quickly, you will always lose to a well rounded enemy -- in those mp games i played, there was nothing that could do that, which was why they were favored for rush tactics - eventually two huge armies consisting solely of mantis/hover/heavy-cannon units would inevitably meet in battle, and both players could get up, take a jog, eat a snack, and then come back to catch the last 5 minutes of the battle... the only way to have balance is to not have balance. if two armies, truely equal in every single way met in battle, you'd not have a winner... you'd have a truce, thus balanced a truely balanced game is never worth playing.
HP are not *totally* worthless in a simulator, however. You give an example of a heavily armored tank vs high impact weaponry. That's fine, and all true, but what about a said heavy tank vs, say... a vulcan cannon? It's true, a lucky bullet can go down the tank's barrel and detontate an outgoing shell or something, but much more likely is that the raw volume of incoming lead will end up eventually fracturing / melting / whatevering the tank's armor. That doesn't happen in one bullet though, it takes a lot of em. And each one reduces the (forgive the overly-abused star trek term) structural integrity of the vehicle. Unlike the single-shot kinetic weapon you used in your example (which basically creates a neat "hole" in the armor), beating the tank down through sheer volume will eventually cause it to crack over time, which is indeed "hit an armor plate once, the armor weakens, hit it again, it's destroyed" (though of course, in this case, it's more like "hit an armor plate 200 times, and it weakens).
again, you are indeed correct. the a-10 thunderbolt ii (aka "warthog") does exactly that, though, really, each one of those rounds is supersonic, and the avenger (the a-10's gatling gun) has very little trouble penetrating armor when it can send 140 very large rounds into a tanks relatively light top armor during a 2 second burst.
And an example of a larger weapon affecting tank armor: Some tanks have (forgive me, I don't know the techincal term) semi-explosive packs around their exterior. If hit, these packs explode *outward*, reducing the force of impace from the incoming weapon. So lets say a high-explosive tank round hits another tank at an angle; it ends up blowing off an entire side of these things, and the resulting explosion, say, also rips of any type of bullet shield around the machinegun, maybe wrecks some of the exterior electronics, the heat of impact warps the chassie... this is the equivalent of a WZ tank in red-yellow HP. It can still *move* and *fire*, but that hit side is now substantially weaker, and less able to survive a hit from enemy weaponry, even some weaponry that until that point wouldn't have effected the tank much at all.
it is quite concievable that a high-rate of fire vehicle-mountable machine-gun could be developed with anti-tank warfare in mind - this was once popular, and could indeed phase back in, as some things do. you might think i'm missing the point in saying this, but, as it stands, light arms do *nothing* against a tank's armor. as an example, take a standard metal breastplate ("knight in shining armor") at 1/8 inch thickness -- for novelty purposes, many firearms were tested against that design and it was found that anything lighter than a .44 magnum (which is pretty much one of the most powerful handguns in existence) could not penetrate
that armor (remember, 1/8" thick) -- standard 9mm handguns made "soft" dents, and some of the large handguns would make noticably harder dents
. now think of a 2 inch thick armor (which is a light tank) that is specifically
designed to protect against stuff like 60mm shells. there's a sort of rule out there: any projectile that is designed to kill infantry (even an anti-body-armor projectile) is never ever going to be able to penetrate a heavily armored vehicle (such as a tank) -- in fact, it literally wont make a dent, as anti infantry ammunition is designed to be really really cheap, and it really doesn't take much money to develop and mass-produce even a body-armor-piercing bullet compared to one that comes close to being able to dent
a tank, much less penetrate it. while it is true that something that can "dent" a tank's armor, even if it's a really small tank, will eventually weaken and destroy that plate of armor, there is nothing
in existence that is anti-personel or anti-light-vehicle that can even do that, as even .50 caliber bullets, the largest anti-personel/anti-material round in common use, which can lay waste to lightly armored vehicles, will actually shatter on impact with a tank's armor because it's not nearly hard enough to survive the shock of initial impact. on the other side of the rule, any rapid fire anti-tank weaponry is devastatingly effective against infantry, but is way too expensive to use against infantry on a regular basis -- that being the case: you'd never design an anti-tank machinegun, and give it to infantry engaging in infantry vs. infantry battles -- you'd quickly find out that no matter how much money you had, it'd not be long before you'd be unable to feed yourself, much less your army -- that pretty much eliminates the "end all be all weapon". so really, it comes back down to: either a weapon does absolutely nothing to a tank (you could empty all the pistol and hand-rifle ammunition expended in the whole of world war ii into the front armor of an m1 abrams battle tank and you might actually get lucky -- that is, you might not have gotten wounded from all the fragments of shattered bullets flying back at you. simple high-explosive rounds (designed for anti-infantry use), even if they're extremely high yield, upon striking that same m1 tank, would not even dent the armor enough to cause the explosive plating to react - it's like trying to light a brick wall on fire. on the other hand, anything that can kill off a tank is either going to be anti-tank or anti-aircraft - for those light anti-tank rifles that have a rate of fire of about one round per every two second, emptying 200 rounds into the side of a tank would kill it off quite reliably -- you'd kill it off in 20 rounds, but after all, it is an anti-tank weapon -- the only issue is, the tank isn't empty... if you are in a tank, and you actually hear a "clank... clank... clank..." sound hitting your side armor, you'd realize immediately it's a threat, and would be able to localize it pretty quicky -- before you got through 5 rounds, you'd have the cupola machinegunner trying to take a shot at you... so you kill him/her easily enough, but at the same time you're only 2 seconds away from staring straight down that barrel, and at 200 meters, you couldn't trust annie oakley to win that fight.
same rules apply as in the rest of life: if you're going after a tank, unless yours is bigger, you'd better catch them by surprise and kill them off before they can react. in all other cases, you lose.
Try it at home yourself. Take a classical-looking block of reinforced concrete. Stand on it. Now take a sledgehammer and wail on the block a few times. Stand on it again. Repeat the process; as you continue, chips, then chunks, of the block will fall apart, but will still be able to hold your weight, until some critical point is reached. That is the concept of HP.
well, the physics are just a little bit different here (there's no way to represent the effect with such slow velocities): to make the analogy apply to tank warfare, the following changes are needed. that sledge no longer has any reference to small arms fire - that sledge now represents an armor piecing shell, and you get to chuck that sledge the slab of reinforced concrete at 800 meters/second. you'll find the results are extremely good. next, you test small arms fire -- in this example, grab a half-pound (or around .5 kg) wooden mallet: again, you get to chuck this at the concrete at 800 meters/second... okay - now we get to move on to anti-vehicle weaponry (.50 cal does this quite nicely). this time it's a thick 2 kg rubber mallet: chuck that at the concrete at 1000 m/s. let me know how that goes...
Why there are HP variances in the weaponry can be describe the same way. A tank cannon is basically a tube, made of the same material the rest of the tank is, whereas, say, a Scourge rocket isn't. If incoming fire hits your vehicles TURRET, then the Scourge will be disabled long before the Cannon-tank is. In realities sake, if this game could handle an equation to determine where on the droid a hit occured, and that determined how many "hp" was removed from the vehicle, or perhaps from that area of the vechile, that would be more accurate, indeed.
that's exactly how the more accurate damage models work: many of them still have an "overall armor remaining gauge" to make things simple, but do often round off non-anti-tank weapon damage to 0. a step above that would be giving each plate of armor its own hp, where there is no overall "shared vehicle armor/hp" -- if an armor plate gets to zero, it is assumed to have so many holes that any direct hit to that area that is explosive in native (even anti-personnel explosives) would destroy the inside of a tank. which such a thing could happen, in 98% of tank destruction via armor penetration, the very first thing to make a little hole is what makes the "big boom".