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Author Topic: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?  (Read 1749 times)

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Offline bedges

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Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« on: 18 Oct 2009, 14:10:11 »
Or to put it another way, "Dammit, where am I going? I'd better check my map!"

One of the greatest strengths of the OFP/Arma series is the free-roaming gameplay it makes possible, the ability to choose from multiple strategies to achieve the mission objective. The only boundary of any real consequence is the one where the land meets the sea.

However, mission makers who create anything more than a five minute fragfest and who attempt to create a sense of situation and background to the action face a dilemma: what happens if the player decides to x4 run to the other end of the island?

We've all seen various methods of dealing with this. The original OFP campaigns had a warning first, suggesting the player was leaving the acceptable area of combat, and straying farther ended the mission. Some of these endings were subtle, like spawning a deadly Spetsnaz nearby. Others were not so subtle, like bombarding the player with multiple tank shells.

To my mind this always seems like a cop-out, until you consider the alternative. The island is under attack, the enemy has a strong foothold with bases in the major populated towns. You x4 to the other side of the island and there's nobody there. Which means you have to either a) create these bases which the player may never visit, thus causing a lot of unnecessary lag, or b) set up some complex scripting to spawn these bases if/when the player gets close enough.

A related aspect of this would be environmental persistance in campaign missions, e.g. you blow up the bridge in one mission, and in the next run back to discover it's magically whole again.

I suppose my question is this: is the combat area trigger an accepted part of missions, or is more expected of mission makers these days?
« Last Edit: 18 Oct 2009, 14:12:19 by bedges »

Offline tcp

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Re: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« Reply #1 on: 18 Oct 2009, 18:27:27 »
I think missions with set parameters are fine the way they are. You are giving a mission, follow orders, and stay within the AO. This allows mission makers to create more exciting missions.

However, some mission makers have randomized their missions for greater replayability. However, its usually still limited to a certain area. Also, some areas tend to stay empty.

Another thing that is becoming possible is to use 3rd-party 3D editors to place units strategically and more easily. They are still in alpha development but allow you to create working missions and save the placement to script.

If we were able to collect scripts into a database and classify them by location and vehicle types then randomly select them for empty areas of our mission then we could give the players the option to risk taking a alternate route. I am not sure how much would be added to the mission because it might just feel like a side mission.

Offline laggy

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Re: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« Reply #2 on: 18 Oct 2009, 20:36:21 »
Interesting question  :scratch:

I think it depends on the type of mission.

In a mission with set and static objectives I don't care if most of the map is empty.
You move in and do your mission and then move out, filling the map with other stuff is usually pointless.
I have done this mistake many times myself, adding stuff everywhere "just in case".
To my disappointment I have never heard any player appreciating it, maybe because they never found out.
I guess very few players are interested in this realism/discovery/RPG factor.

In a very open mission like "Manhattan" however, I really want to feel that the world is alive.
Immersion demands that stuff happens everywhere, and that you can go anywhere.

Thankfully the ArmA2 modules solved many of these problems, I think.
But in OFP and ArmA it was a constant pain to achieve the same thing.

I think there are other and maybe more severe "realism killers" as well.

In MP I loath any respawn other than revive or group, the rest are arcadish and boring IMHO.
Group respawn at least lets you continue as another team member, a good realism/gameplay compromise.
The warfare style "build your base in 30 seconds" is also an immersion killer.
If story or practicalities don't work as in real life or very close to it, it really kills my fun.

Guess I'm a stiff realism fan, but I wish that every mission simulated reality as much as possible.
I wish that BIS at some point will implement editing commands that override the difficulty settings.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

And I looked and beheld a pale horse and his name that sat on him was Death and Hell followed with him.

Offline Wolfrug

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Re: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« Reply #3 on: 18 Oct 2009, 21:40:51 »
Luckily, it's a military sim, which means the player is almost always a soldier, subject to his CO's orders. That way, areas of operation can be defined and if they're broken the player can be reprimanded or worse. This, I feel, is not taking it too far outside the realm of the plausible - after all, mission makers are people too and can't be expected to populate every single town with a huge sized enemy base or to fill the forests with enemy patrols and snipers, and players need to respect that.

However, considering the scope of the game, artificially limiting the playing field to your average CoD-size is just stupid: you don't ever want to start getting people shouting at you (or even worse, forceending the mission) just because you decided to flank around the town instead of attacking it head on. Depending on the vehicles and manpower at your disposal, the mission maker has to make sure the playing field is "big enough" so that the player never feels trapped in a cage. Fixed-wing aircraft missions for instance typically need the whole map, helicopters probably at least 1/4th, tanks less than that, and so on. The least map-space is needed for the sole commando (or, as Gastovski or Nicholson showed us, all of it).

What mission-makers CAN do is to get creative with their boundary-setting. Whether it's a matter of orders or just "common sense" (i.e., enemies thataway), players should NEVER get the black screen of fail and restart just because they stepped half a metre too far outside the invisible trigger area. BIS did this too quite often, does not make it any more acceptable. Same thing applies for the "lol u were killed!!1" crap, especially if it's without any warning and impossible to stop. Of course, these measures are fine -- AFTER you've given plenty of warnings.

So yeah, that's my take on it. Of course with the cool new ready-made base templates and such in Arma 2, maybe something could be done with dynamically spawning enemy bases that don't look like crap wherever you may roam...and plenty of enemy patrols.

Wolfrug out.

"When 900 years YOU reach, look as good you will not!"

Offline bedges

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Re: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« Reply #4 on: 18 Oct 2009, 22:47:49 »
It does seem to be a balancing act. I want to avoid placing unnatural limitations on the player, and to my mind these area triggers are the definition of 'unnatural'. As a mission maker I could set up huge arrays of variables which would change from mission to mission and take account of every kill, so that later if the player wandered close enough to a previously-visited area, the script would kick in and spawn the relevant enemies and buildings etc. Imagine the immersion if you knew that a crate of LAWs you saw in the neighbouring town two missions ago would still be there...

However, it would be an immense amount of extra work, with one huge limitation: what if the player manages to visit every area and single-handedly clears the entire island in one mission? Naturally, logistical obstacles could be introduced, such as 3 enemy tanks and no AT weapons, but given enough AK47 ammo poured into the armour... end of campaign. Is that my problem as the mission maker? Is it the player's problem due to the path they chose?

It seems from the responses so far that a reasonably limited area is accepted by players so long as
  • there's enough leeway for tactical creativity;
  • adequate warning is given when the boundaries are pushed;
  • and a realistic punishment is doled out if/when the bounds are willfully broken.

I'm just concerned that such an approach might be seen as 'lazy' given what can be done with the engine, ready-made modules or not.  :confused:

Offline savedbygrace

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Re: Where to draw "The Line of Reality"?
« Reply #5 on: 19 Oct 2009, 01:03:05 »
Whenever I assault an objective from a different approach I always assume that the designer did not take into account for my off the wall tactics. If he did, then he impresses me if he didn't, I don't mark it against him. Afterall, only real life is truly dynamic. But ultimately, it falls on the editors shoulders as to how immersive he would like it to be. I recently just spent the summer revising my project to accomodate such a thing and I am hoping that it was worth the time and effort. One thing to consider is that being OFP, regardless of how much work you invest, it is not going to be seen by as many and thus not appreciated as much as if it were Arma or Arma2. But my justification for investing the time that I did? Because I liked the challenge, and I enjoyed building it probably more than anyone would enjoy playing it.