VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

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themousemaster
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VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by themousemaster » 16 Apr 2008, 17:15

As I was typing in another thread, this thought occurred to me.

Right now, any time you load up a transport, it can hold 10 of anything.  Which I don't mind, while we can sit here and debate the physics of cramming 10 tanks vs 10 people into a transport, that's not what I wish to bring up.



My point to note is, why do VTOLS need to be "transported"?  I would imagine that, due to their flying nature, they can get to where they are going without the aid of the airborne whale that is the transport.

Rarely is it ever a good idea to send in a VTOL to an LZ; on just about every mission involving the X-port, it is always a better idea to send tanks and trucks, only bringing in VTOL's once you have secured a huge swath of the area, if even then.  VTOLS are just a waste of transport cargo space.

Especially of note is the beta-evacuation stage.  If I was piloting a flight-capable craft, why on earth would I wait for someone to pick me up?  Especially since, in the stage JUST before it, we cleared out the anti-air en-route to the new LZ, so it's not like I'm worried about getting shot down.

And lastly, it appears whatever the VTOL's use as propulsion has a near-indefinite supply of reserves.  Not to overstep on lore or anything, but since I can, physically, make my planes fly without landing ever, I don't think the issue here is limited fuel.



So, here's my proposal:

On any stage in which a transport is involved, VTOLS should be able to fly to the LZ on their own power.  They could do this via a button found on the menu, between "go to repair bay" and "go to HQ" (or placed somewhere similar), which will cause them to take off for a remote LZ.  they will depart for said LZ in the SAME DIRECTION that the transport takes (ya know, just in case there are remnant AA units en route, for that nice realism touch).

On the LZ's side, any VTOL sent via this new button would take just as long to arrive as a normal transport drop (I.E. in a stage where a transport unloads at the LZ 1 minute after clicking the "launch transport" button, any VTOL which has it's button pressed will arrive 1 minute afterwards), so as to preserve the balance of timed drops.

Also, for balance sake (and with a nod to gamma-2), once a VTOL arrives at an away mission, it cannot return until the mission is over, just like the land forces.  Since your main base never comes under attack while you are on away missions, there is no need for the planes to have to be able to go back and forth.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by kage » 16 Apr 2008, 18:46

i like the idea, and agree with it in principle, but it will severely tip the balance of power in your favor once you get to the beta campaigns -- all you do is build a vtol sensor tower and a few pads once you get over, and you're set -- missions could be ended in a quarter of the time, and rebalancing the mission timers isn't quite fair, since a player that does not favor vtols at all would be unable to complete transport missions in the reduced time.

i would suggest a compromise: although i'd love to see vtol's having fuel, and ground units having ammo, i think the most practical solution to any balance problems would require that for vtols to be able to "make the journey" (assumption of limited fuel), they must be unloaded if they have limited ammo before they depart to join your own forces -- so when they arrive, any bombers, lancer vtol, and most others, would have to reload at a local landing pad in order to be used for anything but scouting after that point.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by Arcalane » 17 Apr 2008, 15:37

I think the reloading after the flight thing there is a good idea. Combined with not allowing VTOLs to return to home base to reload, it'll force people to build up their defenses (or at least use a garrison force of ground units) in order to set up a VTOL staging base.

Ammo for vehicles and fuel for VTOLs will just irritate people though. It's alright in a micro-heavy game (like, say, Mechcommander or Mechwarrior) but it's just not convenient for larger-scale RTS stuff.

I can see the logic by wanting to have to transport VTOLs via the larger transport. It does seem kinda silly.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by themousemaster » 17 Apr 2008, 18:42

kage wrote: i would suggest a compromise: although i'd love to see vtol's having fuel, and ground units having ammo, i think the most practical solution to any balance problems would require that for vtols to be able to "make the journey" (assumption of limited fuel), they must be unloaded if they have limited ammo before they depart to join your own forces -- so when they arrive, any bombers, lancer vtol, and most others, would have to reload at a local landing pad in order to be used for anything but scouting after that point.

That would work for me.  Heck, having a VTOL's flag set to "out of ammo" when doing this even sounds like it wouldn't be that difficult to program.

Also, don't forget that there are a couple away missions where the Transport gets shot at by AA, since enemy AA covers the LZ and/or approach route.  So as far as "imbalancing" is concerned, while there are some stages where sending in VTOLS early would make them much easier, there are others where sending in VTOLS early would result in needing to rebuild a lot of VTOLS (2nd to last BETA stage comes to mind ;p).  All balance out in the end, perhaps?


Really, my original point behind bringing this up was the BETA-EVAC stage.  After I started typing it, I just realized that if such a feature was added to that, the next logical step would be to add it to everything else.  If I knew a nuke was coming for me, and I was in an AIRCRAFT, I would sure as heck not be playing Solitaire in it ;p.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by gnou » 23 Apr 2008, 16:20

Arcalane wrote: Ammo for vehicles and fuel for VTOLs will just irritate people though. It's alright in a micro-heavy game (like, say, Mechcommander or Mechwarrior) but it's just not convenient for larger-scale RTS stuff.
I disagree,
support & logistic are the real strategie.
Having convoy going on a large map, embush them to break a breakthrough...etc
Actually, we have only "Front conflict".

But difficult to implement avoiding micro-management.
Using a "waypoint-loop" system can be a solution...

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by kage » 23 Apr 2008, 18:03

The micromanagement of using supplies for both armor and fuel will always exist, but it can be minimized (btw, fuel use isn't too applicable for least ground units, since they may never run out in even a 4 hour game unless we nerf their fuel tanks just for the effect).

I think the best way is to have supply trucks (not construction trucks) that can be directly controlled, but are mostly intended to be automated, and really do go back and forth between the nearest repair facility or factory and the designated supply point -- when it's automated the route would be defined by a waypoint system, but not via looping. it would just be a 'safe' path that could be followed by trucks and retreating tanks -- if a path is even vaguely between where the truck or retreating unit is, and where it needs to go, it'll use that path (so you can add multiple distinct segments, like one from your primary base to an outpost, and several from your outpost along guarded routes towards various enemy bases -- it'll use the paths that best fit its course).

I think the whole automated supply thing should require a command relay center -- you place 'supply dumps' much like you place factory delivery points, and ground vehicles that are out of ammo (or fuel) retreat to the nearest supply dump, repair facility, or factory.  In other words, the supply truck wouldn't resupply units directly.  The supply dump should be selectable as a structure, and has 3 selectable states: 'active', 'recycle', and 'abandon'.  'active' is its normal state, and units can return to it at this time.  'recycle' is like active in that units can return to it, but it won't be replenished, and actually the supply trucks will return to these types of supply dumps first (if they're close enough) to get supplies and move them on to resupply an active dump (this allows the player to leap-frog their supply route), and 'abandon' means that no unit should approach this dump automatically -- usually would be set when the enemy takes over that area.  if there's more than one supply dump, it'll go from closest to furthest using 'along safe path' logic, and distribute the supplies in the truck between each one equally.

'safe' routes could also have another feature -- perhaps a 'risk it' slider or button, where if an enemy ground combat unit is spotted near the path, units that are following the path for some automatic action (retreating, resupplying), they will return to the start of the path and wait there until the path is known to be safe again (this would also require a command relay center for the waiting part).  if the 'risk it' functionality was a button, and was activated, units would always follow the path anyways, and if it was a slider, there'd be some kind of weighting system (with 100% being 'always go', and 0% being 'always stay').

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by themousemaster » 24 Apr 2008, 01:35

Err... I didn't mean for this topic to turn into the debate about refueling ;p.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by Tucalipe » 02 May 2008, 00:02

kage wrote: The micromanagement of using supplies for both armor and fuel will always exist, but it can be minimized (btw, fuel use isn't too applicable for least ground units, since they may never run out in even a 4 hour game unless we nerf their fuel tanks just for the effect).

I think the best way is to have supply trucks (not construction trucks) that can be directly controlled, but are mostly intended to be automated, and really do go back and forth between the nearest repair facility or factory and the designated supply point -- when it's automated the route would be defined by a waypoint system, but not via looping. it would just be a 'safe' path that could be followed by trucks and retreating tanks -- if a path is even vaguely between where the truck or retreating unit is, and where it needs to go, it'll use that path (so you can add multiple distinct segments, like one from your primary base to an outpost, and several from your outpost along guarded routes towards various enemy bases -- it'll use the paths that best fit its course).

I think the whole automated supply thing should require a command relay center -- you place 'supply dumps' much like you place factory delivery points, and ground vehicles that are out of ammo (or fuel) retreat to the nearest supply dump, repair facility, or factory.  In other words, the supply truck wouldn't resupply units directly.  The supply dump should be selectable as a structure, and has 3 selectable states: 'active', 'recycle', and 'abandon'.  'active' is its normal state, and units can return to it at this time.  'recycle' is like active in that units can return to it, but it won't be replenished, and actually the supply trucks will return to these types of supply dumps first (if they're close enough) to get supplies and move them on to resupply an active dump (this allows the player to leap-frog their supply route), and 'abandon' means that no unit should approach this dump automatically -- usually would be set when the enemy takes over that area.  if there's more than one supply dump, it'll go from closest to furthest using 'along safe path' logic, and distribute the supplies in the truck between each one equally.

'safe' routes could also have another feature -- perhaps a 'risk it' slider or button, where if an enemy ground combat unit is spotted near the path, units that are following the path for some automatic action (retreating, resupplying), they will return to the start of the path and wait there until the path is known to be safe again (this would also require a command relay center for the waiting part).  if the 'risk it' functionality was a button, and was activated, units would always follow the path anyways, and if it was a slider, there'd be some kind of weighting system (with 100% being 'always go', and 0% being 'always stay').
That, my friend, could be called a "villager"  ;D

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and "---BETA: EVACUATE!---"

Post by Player1 » 17 May 2008, 03:25

I'm not for fuel ammo micromanagement. Instead, I believe a vehicle with a commander/sensor turret should be able to call in airstrikes on targets it designates. Maybe have it so that VTOL arrives from same point that the transport first appears on the map from. That way, if there is enemy AA in the area the player would think twice before calling in VTOL support. Also there should be a timer, like the transport, so you can't repeatedly spam airstrikes. Maybe make it a couple minutes longer than the transport one, because VTOL has to reload, which takes time. If this is implemented into the game, maybe it should be changed so that the transport cant transport VTOLs.

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and

Post by Skrim » 06 Jun 2008, 21:34

themousemaster wrote:As I was typing in another thread, this thought occurred to me.

Right now, any time you load up a transport, it can hold 10 of anything. Which I don't mind, while we can sit here and debate the physics of cramming 10 tanks vs 10 people into a transport, that's not what I wish to bring up.



My point to note is, why do VTOLS need to be "transported"? I would imagine that, due to their flying nature, they can get to where they are going without the aid of the airborne whale that is the transport.

Rarely is it ever a good idea to send in a VTOL to an LZ; on just about every mission involving the X-port, it is always a better idea to send tanks and trucks, only bringing in VTOL's once you have secured a huge swath of the area, if even then. VTOLS are just a waste of transport cargo space.

Especially of note is the beta-evacuation stage. If I was piloting a flight-capable craft, why on earth would I wait for someone to pick me up? Especially since, in the stage JUST before it, we cleared out the anti-air en-route to the new LZ, so it's not like I'm worried about getting shot down.

And lastly, it appears whatever the VTOL's use as propulsion has a near-indefinite supply of reserves. Not to overstep on lore or anything, but since I can, physically, make my planes fly without landing ever, I don't think the issue here is limited fuel.



So, here's my proposal:

On any stage in which a transport is involved, VTOLS should be able to fly to the LZ on their own power. They could do this via a button found on the menu, between "go to repair bay" and "go to HQ" (or placed somewhere similar), which will cause them to take off for a remote LZ. they will depart for said LZ in the SAME DIRECTION that the transport takes (ya know, just in case there are remnant AA units en route, for that nice realism touch).

On the LZ's side, any VTOL sent via this new button would take just as long to arrive as a normal transport drop (I.E. in a stage where a transport unloads at the LZ 1 minute after clicking the "launch transport" button, any VTOL which has it's button pressed will arrive 1 minute afterwards), so as to preserve the balance of timed drops.

Also, for balance sake (and with a nod to gamma-2), once a VTOL arrives at an away mission, it cannot return until the mission is over, just like the land forces. Since your main base never comes under attack while you are on away missions, there is no need for the planes to have to be able to go back and forth.
Here's an attempt, just for fun, to explain the VTOL problem without simply bringing up game balance or design flaw as the reason:

Either the VTOLs can't navigate their way there(Case 1), or they can't fly high enough(Case 2). Fuel is clearly not a problem since they can, as you said, fly patrols for an indefinitely long amount of time without ever landing.

In Case 1, we can consider that after a massive nuclear exchange and with civilization in ruins, there would be no GPS, at least not easily available. They'd have to navigate some other way, and for some reason, little tactical strike VTOLs can't do it(don't ask me why, please). Of course, there is a simple solution in that they can follow just behind the Transport rather than inside it, as the Transport can clearly find it's way. Which brings us to Case 2.

In Case 2, we assume that strike VTOLs cannot achieve the altitudes that the Transport cruises at, and this brings them in strike range of hostile AA that may infest the flight path at low altitudes. Although they don't make any appearance after Alpha 11(except for a non-influential cameo in Beta 5), it is also possible that various Scavenger groups exist in regions between the significantly more advanced Project, Collective and NEXUS strongholds, and within range to attack strike VTOLs. So maybe VTOLs would have to risk coming under fire from a half-dozen crude Scavenger camps in your average 3-minute trip to the Away region. Maybe these Scavs have some kind of rudimentary AA, as we've already seen them using Mini-Rockets and Cannons...(I think this assumption is getting stretched too far now)

Whichever way you try to explain the problem, NEXUS seems to have solved it - since,

*Spoiler*

in Gamma 8, NEXUS heavy bombers fly strike missions directly, all the way from their main base without needing local rearming pads, a Transport, an LZ, and all that other nonsense. While, in the very next mission, Project VTOLs of the exact same design need one-minute Transport rides to an LZ north of that very NEXUS base, and then require local rearming services to be established before they can do the exact same thing that the NEXUS birds were able to do independently.

*Spoiler End*

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and

Post by themousemaster » 07 Jun 2008, 16:46

Skrim wrote: Here's an attempt, just for fun, to explain the VTOL problem without simply bringing up game balance or design flaw as the reason:

Either the VTOLs can't navigate their way there(Case 1), or they can't fly high enough(Case 2). Fuel is clearly not a problem since they can, as you said, fly patrols for an indefinitely long amount of time without ever landing.

In Case 1, we can consider that after a massive nuclear exchange and with civilization in ruins, there would be no GPS, at least not easily available. They'd have to navigate some other way, and for some reason, little tactical strike VTOLs can't do it(don't ask me why, please). Of course, there is a simple solution in that they can follow just behind the Transport rather than inside it, as the Transport can clearly find it's way. Which brings us to Case 2.

In Case 2, we assume that strike VTOLs cannot achieve the altitudes that the Transport cruises at, and this brings them in strike range of hostile AA that may infest the flight path at low altitudes. Although they don't make any appearance after Alpha 11(except for a non-influential cameo in Beta 5), it is also possible that various Scavenger groups exist in regions between the significantly more advanced Project, Collective and NEXUS strongholds, and within range to attack strike VTOLs. So maybe VTOLs would have to risk coming under fire from a half-dozen crude Scavenger camps in your average 3-minute trip to the Away region. Maybe these Scavs have some kind of rudimentary AA, as we've already seen them using Mini-Rockets and Cannons...(I think this assumption is getting stretched too far now)

Whichever way you try to explain the problem, NEXUS seems to have solved it - since,

*Spoiler*

in Gamma 8, NEXUS heavy bombers fly strike missions directly, all the way from their main base without needing local rearming pads, a Transport, an LZ, and all that other nonsense. While, in the very next mission, Project VTOLs of the exact same design need one-minute Transport rides to an LZ north of that very NEXUS base, and then require local rearming services to be established before they can do the exact same thing that the NEXUS birds were able to do independently.

*Spoiler End*

I would think, if anything, that Nexus's ability to do it shows that, in fact, VTOLS can in fact fly in from off-areas. We can argue that they have a special tech to do it or whatnot, but if it can be done, there's no reason we can't find a way to do it ourselves, be it simply hard-coded or a researchable tech (from a downed NEXUS VTOL-factory perhaps?). I think it should just be inherent, myself. Adding more techs to a game which already has people clammoring for removal of a lot of them isn't what I'm going for here ;p.

Also...

Point1:

From what I can glean in-game, VTOLS attack craft fly at speed relative to the Transport. So GPS or no, you could just have them "follow" the X-port to it's destination (which would further make the concept of the shipments taking the same amount of time as a normal drop believable).


Point2:

Remember, in the 2nd-to-last BETA stage, you actually go out of your way to CLEAR the AA blocking your path. So even if VTOLS fly lower, they should still be able to fly there un-interfered (at the very least as far as the "rendezvous" point that you then ship into GAMMA1 from, if not all the way to GAMMA1 itself).

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and

Post by Skrim » 09 Jun 2008, 12:21

themousemaster wrote: I would think, if anything, that Nexus's ability to do it shows that, in fact, VTOLS can in fact fly in from off-areas. We can argue that they have a special tech to do it or whatnot, but if it can be done, there's no reason we can't find a way to do it ourselves, be it simply hard-coded or a researchable tech (from a downed NEXUS VTOL-factory perhaps?). I think it should just be inherent, myself. Adding more techs to a game which already has people clammoring for removal of a lot of them isn't what I'm going for here ;p.

Also...

Point1:

From what I can glean in-game, VTOLS attack craft fly at speed relative to the Transport. So GPS or no, you could just have them "follow" the X-port to it's destination (which would further make the concept of the shipments taking the same amount of time as a normal drop believable).


Point2:

Remember, in the 2nd-to-last BETA stage, you actually go out of your way to CLEAR the AA blocking your path. So even if VTOLS fly lower, they should still be able to fly there un-interfered (at the very least as far as the "rendezvous" point that you then ship into GAMMA1 from, if not all the way to GAMMA1 itself).
Point 1: That's what I said, the VTOLs could at least follow the Transport if they can't navigate on their own. That not only makes the shipment time equal, but it also means that the VTOLs can't leave the area until the mission is over.

Point 2: It's confirmed that VTOLs fly lower than Transports -
wz2100_shot_052.JPG
Collective Transport loading Scavenger 'civilians'.
Yes, you could say that in the missions "Beta: Destroy SAM Sites" and in "Beta: Establish Safe Haven", you cleared the SAM threat en route to the safe haven for "Beta: Evacuate!". Thus flying lower is not a problem either. But there are cases where AA threats are fluid and spring up in the course of the mission - like Beta 1, where the Transport gets 4 loads through safely before getting shot down, or Gamma 2, where the Transport *Spoiler* is unable to evacuate your units after the nuke time-bomb begins it's countdown. *Spoiler End*

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Re: VTOLS, away missions, and

Post by themousemaster » 09 Jun 2008, 15:05

Skrim wrote:
Point 1: That's what I said, the VTOLs could at least follow the Transport if they can't navigate on their own. That not only makes the shipment time equal, but it also means that the VTOLs can't leave the area until the mission is over.

Point 2: It's confirmed that VTOLs fly lower than Transports -
wz2100_shot_052.JPG
Yes, you could say that in the missions "Beta: Destroy SAM Sites" and in "Beta: Establish Safe Haven", you cleared the SAM threat en route to the safe haven for "Beta: Evacuate!". Thus flying lower is not a problem either. But there are cases where AA threats are fluid and spring up in the course of the mission - like Beta 1, where the Transport gets 4 loads through safely before getting shot down, or Gamma 2, where the Transport *Spoiler* is unable to evacuate your units after the nuke time-bomb begins it's countdown. *Spoiler End*
Point1: You are, in fact, correct in that you already said they can follow the X-port. I completely missed that sentence in your post. My bad :(.


Point2: I agree that AA can be "fluid". That said, I am also of the belief that the VTOLS should be able to go wherever the transport does, for as long as the transport can; I.E. once your Alpha X-port gets shot down, or in Gamma2 when Nexus blocks your retreat, the same is true for the VTOLS; but until that point, they should be able to follow the X-port around. Heck, think of it another way; when's the last time you saw any hardware-bearing (read: larger than a squad of soldiers) military transport flying over, through, and into hostile territory without some form of airborne escort? In short, VTOLS can be sent around without needing to be loaded, but only for as long as the little "X-port" icon is available in the top-left of your screen.

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