Mailbag 06-17-09

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Q: When watching WWII footages or gun cams you always see MG tracers bouncing off the target or the ground and spraying around wihch looks pretty spectacular. Wouldn’t that be a nice improvement of game play atmosphere, having tracers and see them bouncing off targets, buildings and hard terrain for example? I know every round is calculated in game, so it would be heavy to implement accurately “calculated tracers” , but maybe it´s possible to implement some random tracer bouncing effect?

A: We could redo hit effects to include a random “bouncing tracers” but we haven’t so far. It’s more calculating to do (What kind of round was this ? What effects do we apply ? Would they all have penetrated rather than bounce around ?) which is further drain on your CPU which is already fairly highly taxed depending on how high it’s ceiling is. Additionally, we have up until now not wanted to show bullets “bouncing off” if in fact bullets are not bouncing off, as it is ballistically misleading. We might review this policy but so far we have not done this.

Q: I just read the article on the website about “why” sights are the way they are and that’s great.  Why don’t you tell us how to use the Allied sights?  What do the numbers and lines mean?

A: The line down the middle is your bore sighting (the flight path the round will try and adhere to minus dispersion) and the horizontal cross lines are the various ranges (4 = 400m, 8 = 800m, etc..) where the round will most likely land, minus variation in muzzle velocity and individual ballistics, which have a net result that varies about + or – 2% on average. So if you are short of your target using the “4” line … move up to the “8” line or the one in between the “4” and the “8”. It’s a guesstimation principle just like estimating deflection on a moving target. Some practice, evaluating results in a controlled instance … will help you a lot.
Don’t rely on learning it in the heat of battle when the bad guy is shooting back at you, and having learned this stuff before he got into battle, will be killing you while you learn it. You can do some practice with a friend in training, or even offline learning ranges and sight line alignment. If you do this BEFORE you wind up in a gun duel, you might win the duel instead of trying to figure out what’s going on while the other guy kills you.

Q: Any chance we can get a campaign with half the numbers of Tanks, ATGs and AAs?

A: Probably wouldn’t be as popular with people who like to play tanks, ATG’s and AAG’s as it might be with infantry. Combined arms means you all have to learn to accept what they other guys want to play that you don’t prefer yourself. Since everything you mentioned runs out of supply (through attrition) long before all the infantry are used up, there probably isn’t too many of those things in the lists as things stand right now.

Q: I was wondering if there are any plans to lock sides during campaigns. eg stop the ability to switch from Axis to Alied or Allied to Axis. I know that lots of players hate the fact the people can switch sides during a campaign. This means that when a side is losing their number appear to drop and the winning sides numbers grow making it extremely difficult to counter any attack from the winning side. Locking sides for campaigns would mean that people would have two options leave the game or fight harder to turn the battle around for their side. This would also help to eliminate some of the so called "spying" that occurs.

A: This has been discussed numerous times in the past. We favour applying a delay to how soon you can change sides, to stop instant swapping around and such but not a permanent one. Being able to switch sides at some point during a campaign can have good benefits (like the ability to decide that you want to play on the side that has less players rather than continue on the side with the numbers advantage) and while some do feel “locked to a side” should be the state of things we tend not to agree with this view. We prefer to limit it from being possible instantly but not permanently.

Q: When I lead attacks as OiC, I make RPs for gunpositions, where I need pzrs, infantry cap priorties etc, but since it's for the whole attack, cross missions and flags, I'm forced to use contact reports for this (mostly EB or EA marks, since they are rarely used by others for their intended purpose). That is naturally a way far from optimal, since it confuses players, and need explenation, when you need people to carry out the order fast and without using a lot of focus on it. So I would very much like that we got some contact reports that were not meant to mark an enemy postion, but could be used to mark a friendly position or a good setup spot/RP, that works like the contacts we have now. It could be an "X" mark or even better "1", "2", "3" etc.

A: With the current system in place, I employ Rally Point markers for this and add notes in the “notes” box to explain what each point should have set-up there. If you want to use “contact reports” that are coming in from others (put an ATG here, etc..) then just ignore their mark and put your own RP there instead. While we can expand the functionality of the system to be more complex, you can use the current one in this manner already. Yes I understand you want a system that displays to all missions not just your mission, but we don’t have that system yet. We need to actually restrict the number of missions from an origin to an objective as currently there are usually way too many. We have a plan to redo the mission system and we’ll get into that when that starts being developed.
Remember also that there comes a point when … while wanting “everything possible” is a natural desire of the player, a war or battle simulator should not make everything always available or possible. Covering the “holes” and adapting to shortcomings is part of what effective battle success is built on. He who covers the shortcomings best usually prevails. We can’t build a system so complex that everything you need is provided, and we probably shouldn’t. Some things should always be left to resolve themselves out of a little fog of war. Too much intel is worse than not enough, at least as far as variety of outcome goes. Variety of outcome, in some unpredictable ways, is actually desirable even if it chaps your rear end a little.

Q:I still don’t understand how planes see each other in game regarding crashing into each other. I see myself not crash and I do, and I see myself crash when I don’t. Can you explain this?

A: It's determined by co-ordinate plotting on each individual game client. If your game client detects you occupying the same place as another (enemy) plane, you crash (blow up) if your game client doesn't see this, you don't. If both see it at the same time, both will die.

It can happen (due to internet latency) that both see things slightly offset from each other, but other times the difference is not so great that both are seen close enough to both die. So you will not see the same result every time. We only kill the one that sees itself as crashing into an enemy plane (occupying the same co-ordinates in space) and this can be either one, or both, or neither. Your position (co-ordinates) in space can be different to the other guys even if on your client they are the same. That’s because of latency and the program trying to plot (based on vectors) out the difference so everything is nice and smooth. It’s unfortunate that real life eyeball accounts and coded ones passed over the internet cannot be identical, but they cannot.

Your result tells you what your computer saw. Blow up, you crashed. Don't blow up, you didn't. There is a narrow margin where you might just manage to touch but not blow up ... usually seen as the ubiguous "wing tip spin off" and this is because your co-ordinates are based on the centre of the model. So you missed (each model center was offset from the other) but still touched parts (wing tips) ... be nice if these events, as rare as they are ... caused the wing to tear off but we don't have that kind of fidelity yet.