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Posted: Jan 08 2004
by Balthagor
The missile interface has been discussed in bits and pieces lately so I thought that with a redesign of certain parts fast approaching now would be a good time to discuss the various parts. There have been comments about some parts being too complicated and others working differently than people expected but we’re committed to creating a relatively simple interface that is clean and usable. Be warned, this is a VERY long post. Some people may just want to skim to the sections that say “Simple” and see if the instructions still feel more complicated than they like.

Now there are a few things I don’t think we want. Empier had suggested being able to go to the missile screen, pick a missile and then give it a target but I don’t think that really fits well. The missile itself can’t really be given orders. The other issue is of course that we allow doing same things in more than one place. You can press M for the missile popup or you can go to defence and chose the missile control section. It is even possible to find a unit with missile capacity and select payload in the popup to add or remove missiles from the unit but this does not function yet. All of these are similar but function in slightly different ways. I’ve been using the lowered section primarily so I’ll start with that section.

Before I get too far, there are also things I should explain about missile units. Each missile has a missile value representative of its size and control systems needed. An Exocet is a 2pt missile, a Tomahawk is a 6pt missile. Missiles are also given a launch type. JSOWs are air launched, Scuds are land launched. Units are assigned a missile capacity per unit. An BGM-109G Gryphon has a capacity of 12 per truck. This means it can fire any missile up to a size of 12pts by doing it this way, aircraft that can carry Exocets only won’t be able to run around with cruise missiles. If a battalion of 12 planes lists a missile cap of 24, 2pts per plane, then missiles of 6pts would not be able to be loaded since you’d be effectively using three planes to carry one missile. The max missile size is reported in the unit popup. This is one of the areas that is complex but we feel is a required restriction for accuracy. This makes planes like the F-18 with a high missile cap per plane more valuable.

The final element of missiles is launch authority. Some missiles like the Exocet should be used at the battalion’s discretion. Other missiles like the tomahawk should only be fired when ordered to. Launch authority controls this. There is a default authority for each missile. Exocets default to on, Tomahawks to off. We have already noted a problem that launch authority cannot be changed until the missile is loaded onto a plane, which, if the plane is near an enemy, is too late as the plane will have immediately launched the missile. But I do believe I’ve found a spot to fix this already.

So lets start in missile control. I’ll use New South Wales in Australia as my example. As I go through each of these areas I’m going to first present the simple way of doing things then discuss the details. Our goal is that the simple way is for those who wish to be done with missiles in two seconds and not look at it again. The flip side to that is it must still fit the accuracy and details we’ve incorporated without bothering the player. On the starting turn, the player has a selection of missiles already available here. They are listed on the second panel as soon as missile controls are opened and the first missile (Raptor) is already selected.

Simple: From here the player has choices on the right beginning with deploy. This opens a third panel with a choice for auto deploy all. If selected, all missiles are found an appropriate home and the list is now empty. Any missile with launch authority turned on will be used at the unit’s discretion, if off, will wait for orders from the player. THIS IS NOT IMPLIMENTED IN THE BETA. It is working in the Dev version and will be in the next update. Once cabinet AI is completed for Defence, players may also receive e-mails from their ministers asking for launch authority for certain missiles. This will be a simple yes or no in e-mail and will make new users aware of this control system.

Detailed: Once deploy is selected the player sees all available platforms on panel 3. If the missile can fit on multiple platform types (land and air for example) the selectors above the list of platforms will allow them to view all available platforms by type. Missiles can also be sold or scrapped here. Selecting a unit un-hides the “load” command as well as the “centre map on unit” command. With this the player can find the unit they like and load it specifically. As a missile is added, the selection in panel 2 jumps to the next missile without changing panel 3 so that the player could quickly add multiple missiles to a selected unit. The portion of the design that is incomplete here is the “Launch authority”. I think that it should be hidden until both missile and platform are selected. It should appear selected if the missile has authority by default and unselected if not. Changing this before choosing “load” will change the authority it gets once on the unit. The only thing where this might be cumbersome is if you want to load 6 tomahawks with authority on, as you load each one and panel 2 jumps to the next missile the selection would default back to off. We could allow Ctrl clicking of multiple selections in panel 2 but then if the player selects two missiles, one with authority, the other without, what should the default state of the check box be?

Once one of these methods is used, the list of “available missiles” will be empty. This of course brings us to the next step. Building missiles. For this Australia is no longer the best map since they don’t start with the designs to build any missiles. But we’ll assume the player researched a few of the Exocet designs.

Simplest: The autobuild in units will also enable the AI to autobuild and autodeploy missiles for use. Not implemented

Simple: Select either the conventional or WMD missile construction from panel 2. Find a missile you like based on the launch class and unit stats. Size of missile is also shown. Ensure that Autodeploy and Continuous are selected. Build up to quantity as shown on panel two or more (will rotate if extras). As missiles are built they will be deployed and used where Authority is on. This is also under review by the Dev team. We are considering combining both sections and having the line state if the missile is conventional, chemical or nuclear.

Detailed: That last comment on the authority takes me right into this one. I want to add a “launch auth.” Check box immediately above the Auto/Cont check boxes so that at time on construction you can specify the desired launch authority state. For better details on the missile, any item in the list can be double clicked to get the missile details popup. All stats are show here as well as the unit picture. There will be four different missile unit graphics for the missiles representing Anti-ship, Unit killer, Structure killer and Saturation. Inspecting the stats will also give an indication. Once a decision is made, build can be selected from here directly. To review what is being built, from panel 2 back in lowered select missile construction queue. This shows the two lists similar to how they appear in the base popup. To the right of the lists are control buttons for the list. What I feel is missing is a Auto/Cont flag between the to sets of buttons to quickly see or change the current options. If not auto deployed, missiles will be added to the “Available missiles” list of panel 2. They can then be deployed as discussed above.

Now we get to the use of missiles. The last screen from panel 2 allows reviewing of deployed missiles. This shows you all units that have missiles loaded. More can be added or removed here. If a unit is selected its picture appears in the top right. If the picture is selected this selects the unit and allows the player to immediately give it orders.

Simplest: NOT IMPLIMENTED. Right click on the hex with a target, chose “missile attack” and then chose target if more than one target in the hex. AI will do the rest.

Simple: Find a unit with missiles loaded. Move it within range of an enemy unit. The unit will fire any missiles with launch authority enabled. Select unit then right click target and chose “fire missiles” to launch missiles without authority enabled. Once AI is there, it will pick good mixes of missiles to use based on the target. To find a loaded unit use method described in above paragraph. BUG! If you try and target a structure that has units on it that you can see in this fashion it will not complete the order.

Detailed: The other option is of course to change launch authority on for all missiles to let it pick all targets or off to coordinate all attacks. The second way to fire missiles is to use the advanced orders. One of the choices in advanced is “fire missile” which allows you to pick a target and select the missiles you wish to use (Ctrl-click). At the moment, this is my method of choice until we get all the bugs out of the system.

The design of the popup is intended to do to same as the lowered sections but we’ve been finding that there are some design flaws in it that make it cumbersome to say the least. This has been on our list of things to address for little while and we’re getting down to that but I’d appreciate some feedback on what I’ve described here. I think that once all elements of the lowered are implemented and the launch authority issues addressed that missiles are much more simple than they first appear with options for detailed control. Of course, we hope that the entire game can be described in the same fashion.

Posted: Jan 09 2004
by 3iff
Well I did find missiles very confusing and was unable to launch any at all but part of this was due to features not yet implemented.

I did seem able to build them and even load some onto a launcher, although I'm not sure how I managed that though as it didn't seem to work for the next launcher and I 'think' I did the same thing!

I'm eager to try them out on the next beta...

Posted: Jan 09 2004
by Juergen
I get along quite well with the current missile interface,I dont think its to complicated.

The only thing I complain about is that you have to select every SINGLE missile to assign it to a launcher instead of handling them in numbers (20xSCALP to 6th Bombing Wing).

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Juergen on 2004-01-09 13:07 ]</font>

Posted: Jan 10 2004
by Talsworthy
Not sure its confusing, but:

I'm pretty sure I have the hang of these now.

Simply put, go to the deploy missiles, if an available unit is there then you can either load it by the auto load (is this working?) or by selecting the missile and the unit its going to and click the deploy. I now have my units with missiles and (number shows on unit screen) and can fire a missile. I did a number of test ones of these and worked a dream - very impressed!

However I now am looking at my unit
Missiles combat value is 8/345
Cargo is 4 AGM-142D Raptors

My orders say fire missile(shown on unit screen with coords) and the plane is not leaving base and firing, tried reclearing orders and redeploying missile but it is not wanting to fire on targets it did previously.
Launch authority is showing enabled, for plane and missile.

I think the launch authority may also be a little to flexible. From what I can gather you have the ability to give launch authority right down to an individual missile.

Additionally on the missile loadout screen of the plane. If I select a missile, click launch authority button nothing changes, I click the next missile and the authority then goes off.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Talsworthy on 2004-01-09 23:59 ]</font>

Posted: Jan 10 2004
by Balthagor
Currently the Autodepoly is working in the dev version. It will be working for the update we’ll be uploading this weekend.

As for the plane taking off to fire the missile, this will only happen if the unit is currently in range of the target. The unit AI is missing to make the plane leave the airport and fly to a point in range to fire the missile. If you move the unit towards the target, you will find that the moment it is within range it will fire.

As for setting launch authority for each missile this is required. If you have one interceptor loaded with a bunch of Raptors and one nuclear Tomahawk, you obviously want different launch authorities for these missiles.

And for setting launch authority as part of loading, this is broken currently, fixed for the next update.

Try testing all of this after you get the next update, should be working better.

Posted: Jan 11 2004
by Talsworthy
After a little more playing the missile interface is actually very nice.

Effectively M, brings up the missiles. Select missile, shows available units to load to. highlight both and then deploy and hey presto all ready to use.

I tried selecting multiple missiles and deploying in a unit but that didn't appear to work.

The Raptors have a much lower range than the JASSMs and I think that is the problem. I finally got one to fire when it was right on top of the unit. Hopefully after tonights patch with the AI this should be a doddle.

If you take it I am not a hard core war gamer at all, i'm certainly learning a lot. Kudos to the BG guys!


Posted: Jan 12 2004
by Balthagor
BTW, the entire popup is due for a redesign. I recently realized that the reason I don't like that screen is it is based on the wrong screen to start from. We took the Base popup and tried to give it the same feel, but missiles function diffrently enough than units that we've got the wrong information in the wrong places. The first thing you see when you open the popup is "current production". My first though is alwasy "what missiles do I have?" which happens to be the last thing (moving left to right) that you see. I've already drafted some ideas for this so it should be done for the following update (not tonight's). I feel that the lowered version has a better flow.