On tactical formations and movement

Discussion in 'Planetary Annihilation General Discussion' started by TheLambaster, September 9, 2012.


Your opinion?

  1. I like your concept and would appreciate to see it realized

    31 vote(s)
  2. Formations yes, the other stuff no

    5 vote(s)
  3. Formations and shape control yes, no to everything else

    4 vote(s)
  4. Formations, shape control, formation editor yes, no to the rest

    2 vote(s)
  5. Movement controls yes, the other stuff no

    6 vote(s)
  6. No need for formations and the like (movement controls etc.)

    7 vote(s)
  7. I don't mind

    1 vote(s)
  1. TheLambaster

    TheLambaster Active Member

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    I just noticed there has not been a topic on tactical formations yet. So, I myself am all in favor of a great diversity of formations and some intelligent UI features to allow to easily form your units. Therefore I'm going to tell you what features I would like to see in PA:

    Default formations:

    Box formation – support units (mobile AA, self propelled artillery pieces, engineers, the commander) get surrounded by main battle units (tanks, assault bots)
    Line formation – you draw a line and the main battle units form the first rows, the support and the commander units the back rows
    Column Formation – the head of the column is formed by main battle units, the middle part by support units, led by the commander
    Wedge formation – main battle units form the point with the commander

    Here are some is a graphic to some of the formations mentioned above:


    Custom formations:

    If there was a custom formations editor, you could design you own formations. This feature I would consider unique in the RTS genre, as I don’t know of any game that has this.

    Movement control:

    Evenly split selection – splits a group of units into 2 (default value that can be changed) sub groups of the same composition

    Move in current formation – self explanatory

    Move at individual top speed – all selected units will move at their individual top speed

    Move at the speed of the slowest unit – all selected units will move at the top speed of the slowest unit

    Using the cursor to define formations:

    Selecting a formation type with the RMB allows you to then draw a line with the LMB that will define the shape of the selected formation. For example: Drawing a long line for a box formation will cause the formation to look more like a lien formation.

    Drawing a line with holding the RMB pressed will define the density of the formation.

    Drawing a line holding RMB + LMB down will define shape and density of the formation.

    So yeah... discuss away
  2. renrutal

    renrutal Member

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    Do we need formations?

    As long as units with longer shooting range stay in the back, and tanks with high armor in the front, I'm happy.

    It's the sort of micromanagement I expect the game to solve for me, unless I explicitly micro them myself.
    corteks, wheeledgoat and Quitch like this.
  3. asgo

    asgo Member

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    there was a similar topic about unit roles.
    But there a more automatic approach was suggested by giving units awareness of their and their near allies roles. (support, long range, etc...)
    that wouldn't create formal formations, but behaviour which follows the same basic thinking.
  4. cola_colin

    cola_colin Moderator Alumni

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    formations never worked, neither in supcom:FA nor in TA or SupCom2.

    So I dont need them. Just put in good pathfinding.
    spicyquesidilla and matizpl like this.
  5. TheLambaster

    TheLambaster Active Member

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    Having formations and a feature that lets you control the density of you units makes micro easier and more precise due to more power of controll. That other games didn’t do it well is not necessarily a profound argument.

    Edit: Also with intelligent role behavior you still can't achieve formations like wedges and columns which at times might be useful given the scale of the game.
  6. nlspeed911

    nlspeed911 Member

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    I certainly want this.

    In Supreme Commander, everything concerning large armies was just so annoying. You couldn't properly put them in one spot, because they'd keep way too much space inbetween each unit, and well, with a 300+ unit army, that doesn't work...

    You also couldn't tell them simply to move, because they'd all run off on their own speed and die.

    You also couldn't tell them simply to attack, because anti-air would suddenly freeze (if you had clicked on a ground based entity), and everyone would move forward on their own speed and die.

    I want units that act logical. If I tell a group to attack, it should stick together. Tanks in the front, protecting the artillery until it gets in range. Then everyone stops and the artillery opens fire, until either the target is killed or the target gets in range of the tanks.
  7. Spooky

    Spooky Member

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    Formation moves worked a lot better in Supreme Commander 2, with its flow field path finding. It has been a while, but wasn't a formation move the default move in SupCom2 anyway? Units that were close together then always moved in formation, if the situation permitted it.
  8. dmii

    dmii Member

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    Custom formations through cursor dragging: yes, but that was already suggested in a better form in an other thread.
    The rest: no

    In my opinion this goes into the category, which you, the commander, are supposed to do and therefore I don't like it.
    Having to babysit your units a little bit is better than getting babysitted by the game.
  9. TheLambaster

    TheLambaster Active Member

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    This is not about being babysitted by the game. This is about UI-power. UI elements that allow you to achieve things that would otherwise not be possible for you, as you cannot order 200 units separately to form a V-formation or whatever formation more complex than what can be done with intelligent unit behavior (tanks go first, arty stays behind). It gives you more power, it does not take care of things that you ought to do... more power does not equal simplification but - in this case - making formerly impassible things possible. This is a complete misconception of UI-power on your part.

    Edit: Everybody talks about how much of a macro and strategy (!) game PA will be... but on the other hand people argue that the computer shall not take care of microing units (which in this case - as set out above - is not the case) and the like... could people maybe make up their mind and find set priorities?
  10. zordon

    zordon Member

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    Its a forum, of course everyone has different ideas and opinion on everything. This is a good thing.
    carlorizzante likes this.
  11. acey195

    acey195 Member

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    Some standard formations would be nice, but being able to drag a line/box of where your units are going would be even greater. I am a great fan of the total war games, in which this works really well. If you could also control the spacing, it would be perfect. (to minimize casualties versus arty) I don't know if an entire editor would be needed though, as it doesn't really sound intuitive and time consuming for the devs.
  12. Bastilean

    Bastilean Active Member

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    I want to be able to control the unit coherency of my groups if they move in a formation.

    I would also like a spreadable formation that will allow units to better scower the map for that last enemy installation/holdout/commander. A lot of times you have hundreds of units, but do a poor job ordering any kind of intel search with them because you don't have any kind of macro for searching or spreading out.
  13. Pawz

    Pawz Active Member

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    I haven't seen it raised yet, but the main point of 'wedge' or other shaped formations is to provide protection in a particular direction, and to break the protection of the enemy forces.

    Without directional armor, it doesn't matter if you're in a wedge or a box or anything else, apart from just organising your units. And at that point, you may as well stick with a clean, powerful system similar to the Zero-K 'drag a line' type of formation. No need to fiddle with additional buttons or shapes or sizes. The only thing I'd like to be able to do in Zero-K is to 'lock' the formation in place so I don't have to worry about it once it's in place, but that's a minor quibble.
  14. ghargoil

    ghargoil New Member

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    The total war series has this, and it's really nice.
    carlorizzante likes this.
  15. coldboot

    coldboot Active Member

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    Empire: Total War is set in the period of muskets and bayonets where units spent a lot of time standing around, and did a lot of melee combat. Formations were a lot easier to conduct in this sort of combat in real life because everything went so slow.

    I don't think the same things apply to highly-mobile units like tanks that all use ranged weapons.

    However it would be nice to tell units to spread out, tighten up, and keep specific types of units in the back.

    I don't think we need the ability to create complex formations, because all units tend to break formation during combat anyway, but having some of the more primitive formation components would be very helpful.

    I'd say the forum on Unit AI - Role Awareness sums up those ideas quite well.
  16. ToastAndEggs

    ToastAndEggs Member

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    I think the player being able to create custom formations could easily improve game play quite a lot and take away from tedious micro of positioning units replacing it with a large formation that was pre created. This could easily be a very innovative idea, is implemented right.
  17. zordon

    zordon Member

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  18. TheLambaster

    TheLambaster Active Member

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    Wrong. May I quote Wikipedia...

    "A flying wedge[…]) is a configuration created from a body moving forward in a triangular formation. This V-shaped arrangement began as a successful military strategy in ancient times when infantry units would move forward in wedge formations to smash through an enemy's lines. This principle was later used by Medieval European armies, as well as modern armed forces, which have adapted the V-shaped wedge for armored assault." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_formation)


    "An armored spearhead (UK English: armoured spearhead) is a formation of armored fighting vehicles, mostly tanks, that form the front of an offensive thrust during a battle. The idea is to concentrate as much firepower into a small front as possible, so any defenders in front of them will be overwhelmed." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armored_spearhead)

    and of course:

    "The Panzerkeil (Armoured Wedge) was an offensive armoured tactic [...]. [...] used by armoured vehicles, most commonly tanks. The tanks would form into a wedge-shaped formation, with the most heavily armed and armoured vehicles forming the tip" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzerkeil)

    Directional armor is not the critical element but the fact, that stronger units with more HP can shield weaker units and therefore keep the damage output more stable and the capability of penetrate a defensive line without the need to destroy it over its entire lengths, to pass through it. For example: You want to get your army into an opponent’s base that is turteling... would you waste your units on his defenses or would you try to break through the defenses with as few losses as possible and then raid his base/ kill his eco/ kill his com/ kill whatever…? Yes, you would do the latter. And that is done best with a wedge formation.

    carlorizzante likes this.
  19. linecircle

    linecircle Member

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    But that's exactly why we want formations, real formations, ones where units stay in formation cause.. it's a formation! :D

    Some strategies and tactics can't be done or would fail with no formations or formations that break easily. Having formations that units try hard to stay in adds a new layer of strategy. However, there are some considerations:
    - not everyone might like fiddling around with this new layer of strategy
    - doing your formations wrong can make your army perform worse than having no formation
    - it only matters if you regularly have battles big enough for formations to matter
    - it adds some degree of ui complexity
    - to leverage the most out of formations, unit behavior has to synergize with it; eg. if you assign wedge shape, units should focus fire in such a way as to break through enemy ranks; in a column, priority is given to protecting the inside units, etc..
    - some complex tactics require dynamic formations, eg. approach as a box formation, then split up and merge on the other side, surrounding them with your heavy units facing in, and annihilate with your ranged units positioned around the outside.
  20. exterminans

    exterminans Post Master General

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    This exceeds the possibilities of a pure formation system by far, what you ask for, is an individual unit AI which analyses the situation and chooses the appropriate targets / actions on it's own. Thats not a bad thing, if you are lucky, then the AI will even develop a more organic, more efficient form of the formation you had in mind, without the need for a fixed formation.

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