Orders and Navigation

Post your ideas on where the future evolution of Multiwinia should lead

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Qjet
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Orders and Navigation

Postby Qjet » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:46 pm

I've got a real problem with the way MW's decide their path when you order them to a point. The priority doesn't seam to be the shortest route but more like the route that goes through as small an incline as possible, (which is very very very often, not the shortest route), and it doesn't even do this well because of how course it sets the waypoints.

The logic here needs a rework, priority should be the time it takes to get from one point to another point. there should almost NEVER be back tracking.

If you play hamburger hill it's impossible to not notice the problems.

In addition to a rework here, an option should be available to set a custom set of way points that simply don't follow this shortest route possible, instead traveling directly from one waypoint to the next ignoring everything except impassible terrain.

Believe me when i say, this problem is enough cause for concern that literally several maps are imbalanced and unfair because of this path finding system, causing MW's to take convoluted and ridiculous routes for only a few players due to the slight changes in terrain.

Please follow this OP with your own stories of the insane path finding of your MW's. Post screenshots if you gottem!
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Postby ynbniar » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:58 pm

The pathfinding is a bit strange from time to time but I haven't had much problems for a couple of reasons..

1. The path your MWs will take is shown, so you know the route they will take. If the path shown isn't to my liking I tend to choose a shorter path, remember, then send them on their way.

2. No waypoint system needed...use officers.
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Postby MarvintheParanoidAndroid » Sun Oct 19, 2008 11:45 pm

If you hold control while clicking, they will take a straight line route to wherever you're pointing. More often than not, that solves any problems.
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Postby Qjet » Mon Oct 20, 2008 12:39 pm

thats an excellent piece of advice, things like that should be made explicit however.

way points are needed so that you can set the path the moment you want it, not gradually waiting untill a MW happens to arrive at roughly the spot you need it.

Also Officers are standing orders, Waypoints are implemented by thousands of strategy games for a very good reason, they are necessary, and they work.
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Postby ynbniar » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:38 pm

Qjet wrote:Also Officers are standing orders, Waypoints are implemented by thousands of strategy games for a very good reason, they are necessary, and they work.


I'm not sure I understand the point about standing orders ? Care to elaborate...

I use officers as waypoint markers and I think, though I might be wrong, the lack of a waypoint system is deliberate. To encourage micro management perhaps ?
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Postby xander » Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:52 pm

Qjet wrote:Also Officers are standing orders, Waypoints are implemented by thousands of strategy games for a very good reason, they are necessary, and they work.

And there are other strategy games that do not implement waypoints. Suggesting that something in Multiwinia ought to be changed in order to better match other games is a non-starter around here. Give us a real reason to support your ideas. If the only thing you can come up with is that it is done by other games, then you have failed to make your point.

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Postby Qjet » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:18 pm

Sorry i used the "hundreds of other strategy games support waypoints because they are necessary and they work" argument to save space and spare me to post the obvious, but if you prefer i be explicit about this then im more then happy to.

Let's start from square one, the users intentions.
An interfaces job is to reflect what a user wants concisely and exactly given the limitations of current technology, that is, a users intentions must be made clear through mouse clicks, and keyboard buttons. What does it mean when a player selects a group of mw's and right clicks while his mouse is over some terrain?

It's a good bet he want's them to go in that direction.
Here's the fun part, how many times have you noted yourself adjusting your mouse so that the interface reflects what you want? That is, finding a position where the path created is the correct one, doesn't have back tracking, doesn't take a long route, and acts proper.

Or again let me ask you, how many times have you wanted a specific group of multiwinians to get to a far off location on the other side of the map, but have the pathing system navigate into enemy forces.

What is the solution to this, this?:
I use officers as waypoint markers and I think, though I might be wrong, the lack of a waypoint system is deliberate. To encourage micro management perhaps ?

no because for one, there are no MW's at the locations you need,
two officers represent standing orders and are applicable only when you can expect you want a constant stream to follow these orders
and three because it adds huge visual clutter.

so what is the correct solution? Well what the user wants to do is specify a path the MW's should travel, so without complicating matters, without causing unnecessary visual clutter, without reinventing the wheel, we simply provide the user a tool for pathing and doing what the user wants. a user holds down a key, right clicks on a few locations in succession to indicate he wants these points traveled in order releases the key and sets the MW's on their way.

So outside of the obvious uses where are way points an interesting tool? Consider assault! typically it involves advancing a number of units on the same point from multiple directions at the same time. With MW's current selection system, this is impossible. With waypoints however this story changes. A player would have the option of making his first selection, and creating a path back and fourth on the same spot that the MW's would have to first navigate before they could advance.

A long path for the first selection
a medium path for the second
a short path for the third
and a direct path for the final selection

now all directions advance simultaneously. Even better is this technique requires an amount of skill. It adds a new depth of strategy and predictive action that a player have to learn. All in a very intuitive and organic interface.

in fact waypoints are primary tools if you need to attack from multiple vectors, created specific patrol on complicated pathing, maneuver a group, or create skillfully micromanaged attacks that would normally be impossible with the current system.

But it doesn't have to stop at direct user control. Users could also benefit from having officers receive waypoint orders too:
1. it reduces the amount of officers on the map, every bit of performance helps and officers can really clutter things up
2. users can be more explicit about how mw's navigate, perhaps there is an order you would prefer they follow? Like following a lineup of formations first before proceeding somewhere else?
3. Allows you to instantly implement an order without having to wait for the MW's to first get to the location before you can issue the next order. on the whole making the interface less constraining and making the players orders more direct.

As your reading this you might note something, that none of these are very specific to MW. That's because they arnt, the reality is thousands of strategy games use waypoints for THESE VERY REASONS (-officers). Refusing to implement an idea because alot of other games do it is insane. Have you ever heard yahtzee rant about how developers screw up navigation and with the thumb sticks in console games?
to quote:
"How is it that when you see something that works perfectly well you try to improve it and cock the whole thing up"
MW is a different game, no one will every deny that, and no one will take its title away just because it implements something that is in all regards, just common sense.

The reason we see drag select so much, way points, right click to go to, pathing that prioritizes time to destination, these are all intuitive organic methods of communicating the users will. Ignoring them just for the sake of being different does nothing but damage your game.
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Postby Cooper42 » Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:30 pm

I agree in regards to waypoints, but only because of the occasional fickleness of the pathfinding system.

I find the maps where there is a central 'island' but which is connected either by small stretches of land or surrounded by some highly steep mountains are a nightmare. On one map, the pathfinding system demanded that my MWs go via the central warzone in order to reach an adjacent spawn location. On another map, the pathfinding system often took my MWs some distance in entirely the opposite direction before directing them where I wanted them.

Having to incrementally move the mouse in order to find the 'sweet spot' which gets your MWs to where you want without painfully inappropriate and often inefficient paths is not fun, and can be fatally distracting in fast paced games.

Having to send MWs half way, then send them again, or having to return to a group of MWs to place a second officer on their path so they reach the desired end point just makes what is otherwise a very fluid and faced paced game just clumsy.

In lieu of better pathfinding (and under the understanding that it'll never be perfect) a waypoint system would be appreciated.
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Postby Qjet » Mon Oct 20, 2008 8:21 pm

come to think of it, ctrl already functions semi appropriately for waypoints. just add functionality on top of ctrl. hold ctrl then set either one point to go directly to, or set multiple points to follow. What could possibly be wrong with that, it adds no keys or complication.
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Postby xander » Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:35 pm

Qjet wrote:Sorry i used the "hundreds of other strategy games support waypoints because they are necessary and they work" argument to save space and spare me to post the obvious, but if you prefer i be explicit about this then im more then happy to.

It is not obvious. Starcraft, which is one of the most popular RTSes of all time gets by just fine without waypoint. So, it is by no means obvious or a given that waypoints are a necessary part of the game.

Qjet wrote:It's a good bet he want's them to go in that direction.
Here's the fun part, how many times have you noted yourself adjusting your mouse so that the interface reflects what you want? That is, finding a position where the path created is the correct one, doesn't have back tracking, doesn't take a long route, and acts proper.

Or again let me ask you, how many times have you wanted a specific group of multiwinians to get to a far off location on the other side of the map, but have the pathing system navigate into enemy forces.

You seem to be describing problems with the pathfinding, not problems with a lack of waypoints. This is a known issue, and it seems that IV is working to find a better solution. This is irrelevant to the discussion of waypoints.

Qjet wrote:no because for one, there are no MW's at the locations you need,
two officers represent standing orders and are applicable only when you can expect you want a constant stream to follow these orders
and three because it adds huge visual clutter.

Create an officer from the DGs in the traveling group, shift-click on the location where the DGs are going, give the officer an order. Officers are faster than DGs, so it will get there first. By the time your DGs get there, the officer will be there, too, issuing the next order. All told, it requires an extra two or three clicks of the mouse.

Qjet wrote:so what is the correct solution? Well what the user wants to do is specify a path the MW's should travel, so without complicating matters, without causing unnecessary visual clutter, without reinventing the wheel, we simply provide the user a tool for pathing and doing what the user wants. a user holds down a key, right clicks on a few locations in succession to indicate he wants these points traveled in order releases the key and sets the MW's on their way.

Either you are complaining about the poor pathfinding again, or you are describing a game that is not Multiwinia. DGs are dumb. They are supposed to be dumb. It is part of the design of the game. They cannot hold more than one order in their little stick heads, thus they need new orders every time they complete an old order. This was a game design decision that IV made years ago, and I really don't see any compelling reason to whine at them to change it.

Qjet wrote:So outside of the obvious uses where are way points an interesting tool? Consider assault! typically it involves advancing a number of units on the same point from multiple directions at the same time. With MW's current selection system, this is impossible. With waypoints however this story changes. A player would have the option of making his first selection, and creating a path back and fourth on the same spot that the MW's would have to first navigate before they could advance.

I already do this in Multiwinia, using officers.

Qjet wrote:But it doesn't have to stop at direct user control. Users could also benefit from having officers receive waypoint orders too:
1. it reduces the amount of officers on the map, every bit of performance helps and officers can really clutter things up

Waypoints to reduce clutter. Did you think that, perhaps, that kind of clutter is a part of the game? That it is a part of the aesthetic of the game design? Maybe it is supposed to be that way... With this point, you are criticizing IV's aesthetic. Perhaps you don't like their aesthetic, but it is what it is, and there is little than anyone is going to do to change it. Witness the reactions to some of the early Diablo III screenshots, and Bizzard's vow not to change anything.

Qjet wrote:2. users can be more explicit about how mw's navigate, perhaps there is an order you would prefer they follow? Like following a lineup of formations first before proceeding somewhere else?

DGs behave like lemmings. They go where you or an officer tells them to go, by the shortest (assuming that pathfinding worked properly) path they can. That is how they are supposed to behave. The player is not supposed to have any finer control over the units. As I said above, this is a design decision. Furthermore, people complained about the lack of waypoints in Darwinia, and IV didn't change anything for Multiwinia, so I think it is safe to assume that it is a decision that was made consciously.

Qjet wrote:3. Allows you to instantly implement an order without having to wait for the MW's to first get to the location before you can issue the next order. on the whole making the interface less constraining and making the players orders more direct.

It also removes the lemming-like behaviour from DGs, and makes them smarter than they are supposed to be.

Qjet wrote:As your reading this you might note something, that none of these are very specific to MW. That's because they arnt, the reality is thousands of strategy games use waypoints for THESE VERY REASONS (-officers). Refusing to implement an idea because alot of other games do it is insane. Have you ever heard yahtzee rant about how developers screw up navigation and with the thumb sticks in console games?

You still seem to be missing my point -- if there are compelling reasons to implement a feature, mention those. I don't care how many games have a particular feature -- if a compelling case cannot be made to include that feature in Multiwinia, the fact that it is in other games is irrelevant. For instance, there are hundreds of games that implement a first person perspective. Perhaps, in Multiwinia, you should take the perspective of a DG, and fight it out at ground level?

In short, you have provided a couple of reasons that other games have included waypoints, but have failed to make a compelling case that such a thing is necessary in Multiwinia. It is already possible to create waypoint-like-objects using officers that function in the way that waypoints would function. The only valid point that you bring up vis-a-vis waypoints and Multiwinia is the fact that you have to get a DG into position in order to create a waypoint. However, as officers move faster than DGs, this point is largely nullified.

Now, let me point out several reasons why adding waypoints would probably break certain aspects of Multiwinia:
  1. Officers are a unit. They can be damaged and killed like any other unit. That means that the ability to issue orders is dependent upon controlling a geographical area. You cannot, for instance, tell DGs to travel to a particular spawn point (which is occupied by the enemy), then keep going (presumably after they capture it). You cannot tell DGs to go deep into enemy territory, then go somewhere else. You first have to capture a portion of the map. Waypoints would remove the necessity of controlling portions of the map before issuing orders. Perhaps you don't like that requirement, but I don't see how anyone can claim that it is objectively the "right" or "wrong" way to design a game.
  2. Officers are created from DGs. This means that every time you create an officer, you are sacrificing a DG. On some maps, there are so many DGs created that it isn't going to make that much difference. However, on other maps (I am thinking of a few blitz and rocket riot maps, specifically), the number of reinforcements that you get are fairly limited. Thus, while not every single DG matters, if you create 10 officers to get fine control over your units, you sacrifice a portion of your offensive power. It is a minor balance to consider, but it is still there. Again, you may not like it, but I don't see how you can argue that it is, from an objective standpoint, wrong for a game to force you to make that decision.
  3. This is the weakest of my arguments, and I considered not making it, but you opened the can of worms. There are other RTSes that do not implement waypoints. Blizzard's *craft games come to mind, for instance. Thus, it is clear that waypoints are not, as you argue, necessary to the proper functioning of an RTS. It is perfectly possible to create a playable, fun, popular RTS game without waypoints. In the face of a paucity of compelling arguments for waypoints in Multiwinia, I see no reason to change the current behaviour.


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Last edited by xander on Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Qjet » Mon Oct 20, 2008 11:59 pm

wtf starcarft has waypoints

Also if MW's can build a rocket, they arn't dumb.

also your definition of a compelling argument is irrefutable fact on macro and micro levels. This is an internet forum.
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Postby xander » Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:15 am

Qjet wrote:wtf starcarft has waypoints

You respond to everything I wrote to pick at a minor point. Can you please explain to me how to create a waypoint in Starcraft? In all my years of playing, I have never needed such a thing, never used such a thing, and never had anyone point out that they are even there. So, even if they are there, they are certainly not necessary to play the game.

As to the rest of my post, do you simply not have any response? Can I assume that you have conceded the point?

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Postby Will Skyfall » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:10 am

Qjet's right when he says that Starcraft has a waypoint system. You can select a group of units, and hold down SHIFT while right-clicking each of the stops on the path you want the units to take. You can also right-click a number of enemy buildings while holding down SHIFT, and the units will destroy each building in turn before moving on to the next. I believe that Starcraft also informs you when you've maxed out the waypoint count for a unit (which I think is about 9.)

This system is really useful when I need a group of air units to scour a map for a hidden base, for example, or tell a massive swarm of attackers to go to town (so to speak) on my opponent's main base. There are tactical reasons not to assign waypoints (especially for direct attack orders, given that your units will not defend themselves if counterattacked) but most of the time they reduce the amount of crazy clicking required of the user.

I find your argument compelling, however, that the existence of officers-as-units deliberately requires the user to control territory in order to issue orders from it. I can understand Introversion's desire to not implement a waypoint system if it would undermine this deliberately strategic element of gameplay.

At the same time, I am frustrated beyond reason by my Multiwinians' tendencies (at least in the current build) to take wide arcs to their destinations that lead through crossfires, or spend the first leg of a reasonably-simple move order walking away from their destination. Something is broken in the pathing engine that didn't seem to be broken before, and I can't help but feel that the ability to place waypoints would have enabled a frustrated user to compensate for the current problem.

If Introversion is going to make a deliberate design decision to make units behave in a tactically limited manner (i.e. with a Lemming-like movement system and no waypoints), they need to also make sure that the mechanics of the game (AI, pathing, etc.) support that decision.
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Postby TheRileyDuo » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:13 am

It's the old question of whether it's a bug, or a feature!
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Postby ynbniar » Tue Oct 21, 2008 7:14 am

My main concern about introducing waypoints is that you effectively make officers redundant.

If, to make things easier for the player, you introduce a simple key press waypoint system then you can argue the same for creating formations...select a group of multiwinians and hit a key to set them in formation.

So no need for officers...but officers are an integral part of the Darwinia/Multiwinia story.Them not being there would be bad for the aesthetic and I also much prefer the challenge of setting up a waypoint system with active, destructible game entities than clicking a few keys and forgetting about it.

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