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?