Line formations - like in Spring

Discussion in 'Planetary Annihilation General Discussion' started by Davioware, June 28, 2014.

  1. Davioware

    Davioware New Member

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    How do you set unit formations in this game? Is there a way i'm unaware of? TA spring had a nice click-and-draw formation tool with right mouse that drew a line on the terrain, and then all selected units were given evenly distributed move commands along the line, resulting in a useful line formation of units. you could give another line-move command and the units would advance as a battle line. This wasn't limited to straight lines either, it was a free form line you drew, you could make it wobbly, a circle, a square etc. and units would go into those drawn formations. The way we move huge armies is lacking, especially in a game where it matters so much. A blob of tanks/bots in no particular formation is way worse than a line formation. This is a mandatory strategic tool for this game (i'd argue any rts, but this more so, due to simulated projectiles, where overkilling a single file line formation unit results in wasted shots); it was one of the best and most useful improvements to unit control Spring made over TA.
  2. brianpurkiss

    brianpurkiss Post Master General

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    You can create custom formations using the icon on the bottom right with the squiggly lines.

    I'm pretty sure more formations are coming. Remember, the game isn't finished yet.
  3. scifi99

    scifi99 New Member

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    Any update on this, i think this feature is a must.
  4. squishypon3

    squishypon3 Post Master General

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    It used to be in, but was removed because not enough players used it I suppose?
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  5. scifi99

    scifi99 New Member

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    D: if thats true it makes be sad.

    Controlling lines versus blobs could do wonders for the game.
  6. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    It was removed because it was too rough to be of use and other things have taken priority for now.
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  7. Dementiurge

    Dementiurge Post Master General

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    The draw-formation tool in Spring wasn't really a formation tool but a way to quickly give a unique order along a line to every individual unit.

    I'm not certain if this is an efficient approach for Planetary Annihilation, because the advantage of flowfield pathing is being able to use the same flowfield for every unit given a particular order... Each unit having a different destination could require a different flowfield, eliminating the efficiency advantage.

    Area patrol orders do seem to give each unit a different destination, though at the same time they seem to be associated with poor sim performance with large numbers of units. I'm not sure how this works out.

    -----

    Lastly, I'd like to question whether line formations or line orders are more important.

    For example, forming your units into a box formation, and then having that box move as one unit would be an example of a line formation. That could increase the effectiveness of units that require certain formations to be effective, but doesn't help players

    Spreading units out into a customized shape, and then spreading their individual attack/patrol orders across another customized space is an example of a line order. It's visually more chaotic, but gives the player more power to execute attacks that are actually less linear. i.e. rapidly nuking only the perimeter of an opponent's base, to avoid anti-nukes and peel away their land defenses, sending a wave of dox across a broad front so that your opponent can't pool his tanks in one area to repel them, or spreading out targets for bombers so that they don't overkill one power generator at a time.
    Edit: In short, the line tool in Spring allowed you to give 'concurrent' orders, not just define unit formations.
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  8. scifi99

    scifi99 New Member

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    ^+1

    Or even dodge bombers with a single curved line command.
    Counter squared formations with lines.
    Scout the map more eficiently by moving lines of dox/scouts.
    More interesting patrol routes for air.
    Custom area attack for bombers on ground

    What i would like is spreading units out into a customized shape, which spring allows you to do, i think just that tiny feature would be great!
  9. mabn

    mabn Member

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    If you have 100 doxes and draw a line 10 doxes long they should automagically form something similar to 10 x 10 blob. There are many ways to make it work for various usecases.

    Line formations in spring was a game-changer.
  10. qwerty3w

    qwerty3w Active Member

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    Units in the same flowfield could have different destinations anyway, a line formation order could be easily handled as a single move order by flowfield.

    Uber think how the line formation was implemented in Spring is unfitted for their large scale RTS, so they invented their own overcomplicated version, and remove it because it is overcomplicated.
    But line formation works fine in NOTA on Spring, which is a TA mod with a scale on par with SupCom, if not bigger.
    Last edited: September 12, 2014
  11. liquius

    liquius Well-Known Member

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  12. cdrkf

    cdrkf Post Master General

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    Uber's implementation was more complex, but there were reasons for it. Also it is *still in the engine* they've just removed the button (so it's easy to turn back on for modders).

    The system in Spring simply spreads units out. Ubers took account of unit type distributing them with heavy short range at the front, long range at the back. This is why it was a 2 click system as you have to specify where the 'front' is. I think their implementation is worth developing further (as it couldn't handle irregular shapes properly) however I would like the Spring style 'simple' line formation as well.
  13. tatsujb

    tatsujb Post Master General

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  14. qwerty3w

    qwerty3w Active Member

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    One additional click should not be needed at all. Like I said years ago, if you draw a closed shape, the game could just use the start point or the end point of your drawing to decide the facing of the formation, for example a "6" could be a round formation facing north. If you merely draw a line, then it should be just like Spring. There are cases you do want the destinations stack up on a line instead of distributed into rows, the design shouldn't ignore that.
    Last edited: September 12, 2014
  15. GoogleFrog

    GoogleFrog Active Member

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    I think there is a mod which enables it although it is not worth enabling. The line formation tool is implemented poorly. They were right to retire it for a rework when they have more "spare time".

    The command took two clicks to issue which is already a large price to pay for a basic command. In Spring games people tend to give almost all of their move commands as line move commands because it flows well and gives so much unit control. It would be very clunky to do with two clicks per command. The other problem with PA custom formations is that units 'fill in the gaps' of the drawn line instead of positioning themselves equally along the line.

    In short I think the issue with PA custom formations is that it tries to do too much. It tries to be too smart with formation orientation and unit placement. It is too cumbersome to use. The best UI features are quick to use and intuitively implement some simple behaviour.
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  16. dusanak

    dusanak Member

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    I agree that the simple Spring implementation should be added although I also think that the Uber implementation shouldn't be thrown out right away, what if you made it so that if you want to use the Uber one you have to press/hold some button as well as draw the line thus keeping the simple one simple and the complex one complex :)
  17. annixa

    annixa New Member

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    since i played spring CA/zero alot, i often see myself try to drag a line in PA, and then i recognize its not possible :(

    so please add this function, or do we need to make this with a client mod (if it is even possible?)
  18. linike860

    linike860 Uber Alumni

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  19. squishypon3

    squishypon3 Post Master General

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    Do you know if it'd ever be possible to mod it in a similar way to how ZeroK does it, because I've played some games with large group of units and it worked decently.
  20. linike860

    linike860 Uber Alumni

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    Sadly I don't think so. The formation code is too low level to be exposed to scripts or data. If anything I may be able to get some specific modes implemented, that you could switch in mods, when I get back to that code. I may try to port over some of the area build modding code to formations (a-la https://forums.uberent.com/threads/reference-per-unit-area-build-tweakables.55748/) as well when that happens.
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