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Thread: Interface discussion

  1. #1

    Talking

    One thing that I always found irritating in OFP was the way you give orders and talk with each other. Selecting your squad individually and assigning orders is not a bad thing, but if OFP2 will indeed be with Marines, the F1 - F12 keys might seem a little few sometimes, especially during Nam and earlier.

    Recently I played that Vietcong game and I was really surprised how they implemented the way to give commands. It's all very intuitive there. Okay, you only have 5 guys or so with you, but even with larger squads like in OFP something like this would out. Basically, you yell the name of one of those team-mates and then he comes to you and does whatever is needed. You can really concentrate on playing the game, while the rest of your squad adapts to your movement.

    The other thing I really liked was the fact, that unlike in OFP, you communicate with your squad not via radio but with normal talking. However, you have that radio operator with you, which hands you the radio if there are any orders from command, or when you have to report in. I really really liked this, as it gives the whole atmosphere a great increase in terms of realism and accuracy.

    Sure, you can't simply adopt that very same system to OFP2, but you could create one by yourself that includes a lot of these features. I had some ideas about this, so I started to work the whole thing out a little more in detail:

    At first you have to see what's needed. In OFP2 there will most likely be many different branches present, like airborne units, armour and infantry. In some way or another they have to be able to talk to each other. So, at the beginning, we have to define channels. Like in OFP, communication should be possible on different levels. But unlike the unit-based structure (vehicle -> squad -> side -> ...), I'd prefer a system that allows for a more dynamic communication. In OFP for example, you can't talk to a nearby squad, without radio in on the side-> frequency. Sure, there is that nice direct talk option, but it's only useful for scripted sequences and thus doesn't offer much options to interact with the AI, and even in multiplayer it is almost never used.

    I would base the OFP2 way to communicate more closely on distances than group affiliations. That way, within the squad level and between nearby troops, you would mainly just talk and yell orders, while you would have to use the radio to reach tanks, aircraft and more far away units. Of course to work such a system out in detail would really cost some time, therefore I just want to show the direction.

    The basic structure in the game would be that if you want to talk to someone, be it AI or human, you have to come to a certain range and then aim at that person until a mouth-icon apears, which let's you initiate the talk when pressing a key. The icon could be colored to show in which radio channel you then would talk to the person. (We will come back to those channels later on, but they basically are similar to the different colored channels like the yellow vehicle chat in OFP) The range for that could be let's say max 50m, where commands are yelled and so even the enemy can hear them when in range and react to it, down to normal speaking (~10m) or even whispering. Whisper should only be possible when very close and requires a unit to be on something like a stealth mode. Otherwise, even at that close distance, people should normally talk to each other. A nice effect would also be that your voice signal is kinda pointed at the direction you are looking. This means that the sonic waves are sent so that people in front of you (meaning where you look at) can hear you up to 50 metres, while people behind you could maybe hear you only from a distance up to 25 metres. Outside of this talking range, you would have to use the radio (if you have one ;-) hihi) for communication. You could make it so that there are different types of radios in the game. a small walkie talkie style radio, a standard radio like there is in most infantry squads, a vehicle based radio, tank/aircraft radio with internal channel, and a stationary radio. The walkie talkie would be used for very close ranges only, and should only be accessible by special forces or some civilians. The idea is NOT, that every soldier carries one of these, like it seems to be the case in OFP. The standard radio should be present in almost every infantry squad and thus makes it possible to communicate with other units, including command&control. The vehicle radio should be included in most vehicles (except most civilian ones and some smaller cars like jeeps or even some trucks). The vehicle radio could be heared from - and used by - any person within the vehicle. If the vehicle is open, a nearby person should also be able to hear the radio up to a small distance (5-10m) The tank/aircraft radio with internal channel basically is a vehicle radio, but differs by the fact that every crewmember can only talk via that radio to each other, while in other cars, people should be able to talk to each other the normal way. It's just so that in closed vehicles, the talk should not be heared from the outside if someone stands beside the vehicle.
    Lastly, the stationary radio should work exactly like the vehicle radio in an open vehicle, meaning that up to a certain distance, you can hear and interact with it.

    Such a complex radio architecture of course needs a coresponding hierarchy, so you know who you can order around, and who not. This is very important for controling AI. In the editor a mission maker should be able to define such a rank overlay, similar to the one currently in use. Within a unit, the rank of the solider decides the hierarchy, but in addition it should be possible to define the hierarchy between different independent units. So, for example, you could define that unit A is in command of unit B, C, and D. Now this allows the leader in charge of unit A to access a wider range of commands/orders when talking or radioing to one of these units. Such orders of course have to be predefined for each unit in the editor. The idea is that they somehow replace the current "0-6 actions" and the "0-0 radio". For example, when you talk to your radio operator that way, a SMALL list with default commands should appear, like 'use radio', 'movement', 'behaviour', etc.. Just not that monster construct of a command menue we have in OFP right now. The 'movement' menue for example could simply consist of entries like 'return to formation/spread out' or 'halt/move'. Personally, I think that being able to assign formations is overkill. Instead, the soldiers should automatically use a formation based on the unit size, terrain and behaviour. For example a fire-team sized unit (~4 soldiers) would automatically use the wedge formation, while a standard rifle squad (~9 soldiers) would prefer a staggered column. The more AI does things on their own, the more increase in atmosphere you will achieve. Together with those basic commands, mappers should be able to define custom, mission-specific commands for units. So for example you could order unit B to "seize the town center and get the documents" instead of simply using a general order like "behaviour/engage enemy". It should also be possible to draw a recticle on the screen and thus select all units within it, and which are in range. That way, you can move more than one soldier/unit simultaneously.

    There would be space to include tons of nice little (but realistic) features in such a system. For example: You are squad leader of an infantry squad, with a friendly tank close to your unit. Now if you want to talk to the tank, you could simply call your radio operator to you, select the tanks frequency from the list that pops up when you 'use' the radio, or simply target the tank while using the radio (mouth icon appears), and then talk through your microphone (if the tank is human, only) or choose from available orders (general ones and custom ones for that specific tank). Another option would be to walk directly to the tank to let's say a range of roughly 10 metres and aim at the tank, until the mouth icon
    shows up. An AI commander would then automatically open the hatch and turn out, so he could talk to you. Yet another choice could be that on some tanks there are external 'telephones' which allow infantry to talk to the crew. If you aim at that telephone, the mouth icon would appear in the color of the tank/aircraft radio channel, showing that you are considered part of the crew and also receive radio transmissions directed at the tank, while you 'use' that telephone thingie. Once the tank speeds away, the connections automatically get's cut, and you would have to move in range again.

    One major advantage of this system would also be that units would no longer have to be limited to 12 soldiers. In theory, you should be able to make units with a size of 50+ soldiers, which however would almost never be used. Instead the forming of 2-3 smaller, squad-sized (9-15 soldiers) units under the command of a hq-section with the player being leader would be the more common thing. With such an organisation, it would be easy to order individual squads around, making it possible in theory that a single player could coordinate a whole company with ease, as he would only directly command the leaders of the lower group. For example: An infantry platoon, consiting of 3 riflesquads and one weapons squad, all under the command of the platoon-hq, would have the following command structure: The platoon leader, as being the leader of the platoon-hq, would be able to command every soldier in all four squads under his command by directly talking to them (if in range). However if he radios on of the squads, he will only be able to talk to the squad leader via radio and thus can command the squad as a whole. Of course he could also do so by directly speaking (mouth icon) to the squad leader when in range. The squad leaders themselves, are in control of their squads. The squads again could be divided into fireteams or machinegun crews, or whatever else, which the squad leader could either command as a unit by giving an order to the team leaders or by talking to the other soldiers directly and assigning orders, individually. There is one obvious problem here, though: When you select a leader of any kind, the people he commands will follow him wherever he goes. Only soldiers that do not control anyone else can be individually send to positions etc. So in the case of a simple soldier, both the team leader and the higher squad, and even the again highter platoon leader are able to command him. This can lead to confusing situations where people are send somewhere, only to be called back by another person on half the way. A solution would be that a higher rank can terminate an order (call the grunt back even though the order is not fulfilled), while a lower rank must wait for the order to be fulfilled, like that specific soldier having reached a certain location, etc..). If you want to select multiple units under your command by drawing that recticle on the screen with all units you want being within it, it should work so that if one of the selected soldiers is a leader of any kind, the men under his control are automatically selected as well, even if they are not within the recticle. For vehicles the whole system has to be slightly modified. Here, a tank platoon leader would be able to command all tanks seperatly, while the tank commander would be something like a squad leader, who has his crew under his command. The tank platoon leader would not be able to talk to the gunner of one of these tanks for example, while they in the tank and not turned out. A funny option would even be that the platoon leader would be able to move beside on this platoon's tanks and talk to the commander (or any other crew) of that tank directly, while they have their heads turned out.

    To make things even more complex (hihihi), you could even make it so that together with giving orders like return to formation, the player automatically gives hand signals. In case stealth mode is active he could even use hand signals only when there is visual contact between the player and the soldier/unit and they are too far away too whisper.

    There are lots and lots of things such an easy voice system would offer, while being more efficient, more flexible and more realistic at the same time. Of course when you first read through the above text, you most likely will get confused a little bit, but trust me, it's all very logically and intuitively structured, and so once you would be using such a system in-game, you will understand how it works in no-time. It's just how you would communicate in real-life, therefore players will get used to it, pretty fast.

    What do you think?

  2. #2

    Post

    Good Idea
    Yeah just to add to your idea i also think a Radio Command where if i'm playing with friends i could order the squad to split into two teams and half follow me and the other half follow my friends! ***
    Also i think in Civil Cars the radio should have music you could select or news broadcast station. that way if your driving a jeep down the road and a Civilian car drives past you would hear the music *** Great ideas!!! maybe you could even add your own music into a custom folder and play your own tunes through the radio!!!!



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  3. #3
    Good idea. I'd love to see OFP become more vocal. Right now, it can be eerily quiet sometimes. Firefights tend to be really loud from both the weapons and the commands being shouted on both sides.

  4. #4
    Master Gunnery Sergeant
    Join Date
    Oct 17 2001
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona
    Posts
    1,287
    I'd like to see intermediate stages of AI awareness. Units should have weapons at the ready when walking, its really lame to have a patrol walking with weapons shouldered.

    Better animations for relaxed postures are a must too. Soldiers should cradle their rifles, sling machine guns over their shoulders. We need a smoking and joking animation. Soldiers don't just sit about boy scut style during breaks, the stand around smoking and telling stories.

    An ability to lean out around a corner and fire a burst or lob a grenade. Low crawling on hands and knees and then lobbing grenades into bunker apertures.

    Better get in/get out animations so soldiers don't just pop up 10 meters from a boat when they exit.

    Realistic injuries, including severed limbs when a mine is stepped on. Actual pain for hit soldiers, instead of crawling silently to a medic, writhing on the ground and screaming for help.

    Soldiers with low expereience levels should panic under heavy fire and hug the ground, or freeze up.


    Animations, animations, animations! I can't stress this enough. We should have an easier animation editor to make the game more realistic.
    \"My guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect, decieved me into thinking I had something to protect. ***Good and bad I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow. ***Ahh, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.\" ***-The Byrds 'My Back Pages.'



    In Memory of David Albert Schoeler, 1974 - 2003.

    Third World Explosion Team

  5. #5
    Gunnery Sergeant
    Join Date
    Jul 12 2001
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia
    Posts
    426
    <moved to AI Thread>



    "We gotta go to the crappy town where I'm a hero!"

  6. #6

    Thumbs up

    Yes, the tactics used by the a.i. in opf are far from acurate/realistic, i dont like how the comander says "2, engage soldier" and we see a teamate soldier running alone against a enemy squad only to get killed, a squad should engage has a whole keeping formation, and i also would like to see the radio thing replaced with voice comands, that would be much more realistic and natural .

    The RADIO idea i find trully awsome, we would have a infantry squad that comunicates between themselves with voice commands and one soldier would carry a radio that would allow comunication with other squads (air/armored support) and comunication with HQ, calling reinforcements, receiving new orders, receive coordinates for extraction zones, etc. .

    While playing squad leader i would like to see much improvement also, the current interface is efective but not very user friendly nor fun, i dislike those litle icons (F1/F12) at bottom of my screen, most commands are rarely used has i always like to keep my squad in formation and pick up targets using binos, we should also call our soldiers by name, calling them "1" or "6" sounds a bit weird, how bout "Bruning, get in that jeep" or "Miller is down&#33;&#33;&#33;", something more natural maybe? Most ppl dont like to play squad leader cause it aint much fun, i personnaly prefer blackop. missions cause im on my own, and i dont have to hear all those anoying comands.

  7. #7
    Also how about more emotion, i find it quite odd that after all you&#39;ve been through together your best m8 thats just been killed gets the emotion, " Damn 3 is down " How about, "Oh my god they killed Fred, THEY WILL PAY" or something a bit more animated, it would certainly add atmosphere.

  8. #8
    The only cavet I&#39;d like to see is that I don&#39;t want a mouse driven interface like RvS, or at least the option to hotkey the coms. I hate the mouse interface because I use GameComander to give voice commands to my men. It works great in OFP right now, but for RvS I can&#39;t tell my men to gernade a door anymore, etc. Voice is a lot smoother and should be considered.

    COLINMAN



    "It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong...I'm not a big man." Chevy Chase, Fletch Lives

  9. #9

    Question

    I&#39;m also a user of Microsoft GameVoice/ Game Commander. I bought this tool especially for using it with OFP. It works damn nice.

    So I only have to say "one, two, four - flank left" and they&#39;ll do&#33;

    But I also like the mouse interface from Ravenshield&#33; It&#39;s nearly perfect because it is very fast to use. But it has to be said that Ravenshild doesn&#39;t contain as half as many possible commands than OFP&#33;

    What I&#39;m in need of is the replacement of the lousy action menu from the original OFP. It has to be replaced by a better and faster to use mouse-interface.

    By the way: switching between weapons like M16/ M203 was solved nicely in Novalogics Deltaforce BHD&#33; I switch to the M203 instantly as long as I hold down the ctrl key. By releasing the key I return to my primary weapon (M16). It&#39;s much faster than pressing spacebar first time for switching to "burst mode" and pressing spacebar a second time for switching to the M203. After launching a grenade I have to press space first time for switching to handgrenades and a second time for switching back to the M16 in "single shot mode".

    I&#39;m sure BI will do another great job with OFP2 and they&#39;ll find the best way for the user interface.




  10. #10
    I like the idea of voice commands within a certain distance and using an RTO for support and/or communication with other squads.

    and oh yes.. I&#39;d like to see a hierarchy of command up to company and possibly battalion levels. Naturally, the radio would be very important for multilayered command and control.
    -----------
    Former maintainer of "Dynamic Range" soundpack, Operation Flashpoint: Resistance.

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