The tactical way: beyond the melee cluster

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
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A good number of M&B fans love the tactical potential offered by the game and even more since the additions that Motomataru introduced (Formations+AI). However in Bannerlord, this tactical illusion of deploying formations in different shapes is totally dynamited when the "charge" command is given; a direct conflict is created with Ai, apparently due to its hardcoded section.

With the addition of formations in Bannerlord (SP + MP [Captain Mode Beta]) we all looked with bright eyes at the same possibility of deploying bots in battle through formations such as Shield Wall, Column, Wedge, etc ...

All that stuff so beautiful, is now pure cosmetics; pure artifice that is useless because once again we find the same problem. When we command "charge" those formations are shredded by the same IA that governs it, because it is coded that way (plausible). The fact that the AI in formation does not keep the closed order when it is commanded "to charge", is absurd for those of us who play in this way. It simplifies the fight situation to a "mosh pit cluster hell" in which there is anything but mayhem.


In the Captain Mode I have tried the following scenario (My infantry unit against another enemy):

In an attempt to "hack" the breaking point of the formation itself, I thought the following:

What if by F1 I place the flag just behind the last member of the enemy unit?
My unit should therefore keep the formation; and it does keep it, but badly. The "aggressiveness" it has is much lower than when we give the "charge" order. So if I try that "hacking" my unit faces the situation passively and is annihilated because the AI "thinks" defensively.

Therefore, I don't know what philosophy you have for closed-order combat because the current proposal to capture "the picture" will look awesome in eventual publications; however, at the very end of the day... it doesn't work at all. And for those of us who pretend to play in a more tactical way, our experience is ruined (mine personally) when what I tell you happens.

If you are a Dev and you are still reading, know that all this if not complemented with this other, the tactical path will be limping:

[Suggestion] combine face direction with formation location (Osiris)
Suggestion for Troop Commands (John.M)
Battle Command: Switch Weapon (myself)
Fallback order does not work properly (myself)

It's okay to look at the product as, wow massive battles; but of headless chickens charging?
As individual combat is being polished (movement, blocking, etc.), please give the nut one more twist in this regard.

 
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fedeita

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I noticed the problem already in the famous E3 video of 2017 but almost nobody listened to my words.
Whatever, this is an issue that must be solved as fast as possible.
 

Fortnight

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Absolutely. The 'blobbing' has been an issue for as long as the franchise has existed, and would be further icing on the cake on bannerlords improvements, as well as an undeniable blow to the 'warband reskin' criers.
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
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fedeita said:
I noticed the problem already in the famous E3 video of 2017 but almost nobody listened to my words.
Whatever, this is an issue that must be solved as fast as possible.
Yes, I too have been carrying my hands to my head for quite some time in reference to AI. Years go by and no progress is seen in this regard.
This is a bailed out TercoSketch about the Sergeant Mode:



And this is the problem we're talking about by a gif:



A unit arranged in the form of a Shield Wall that is destroyed by Ai itself when given the charge command.

Fortnight said:
Absolutely. The 'blobbing' has been an issue for as long as the franchise has existed, and would be further icing on the cake on bannerlords improvements, as well as an undeniable blow to the 'warband reskin' criers.
If Taleworlds adapted the problem would be to give an important blow on the table, doing that those "3 levels of AI" (Dev Blog 25/10/18) of which they spoke to us become something tangible.
 

SturgiaStrong

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Didn't play Native Warband for VERY long time (lastly only VikingConquest (they have shieldwalls in it)). But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry. Just command them to hold position. This way your losses will be nearly 5 times less than with charge command. You order them to charge only to pursuit enemy archers, when you crush their infantry.
 

tane

Sergeant
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The suggestion is to add 2 new commands or functions "attack while keeping the formation" and "charge in this direction while keeping formation ".
 

Varrak

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Probably will get some shot on myself but i think that charge should either be removed, or it should only work like that AI will only charge towards the enemy within invisible circle around the player with certain distance. For example, let's say the distance is 50m, so that AI under control of the player will not charge anyone more than 50m away from their player, and will stop at the end of the invisible circle with 50m radius.

Most clusters happen when charge order is given by the players, and when they see that 1/2 of their troops are died and cluster ongoing, they just let their ai roam around the map freely in charge order & they don't bother to collect them in formation. I also do it time to time, hoping that remaining troops may get some kills here and there  :iamamoron: But that breaks immersion and creates cluster around the map.

In a battle without charge order, players can just move troops nearby enemy troops and AI will go fight anyway, and they won't break formations, and won't cause any cluster.

So these are my suggestions, that either remove charge or limit it's effect within certain distance from AI's player.
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
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SturgiaStrong said:
Didn't play Native Warband for VERY long time (lastly only VikingConquest (they have shieldwalls in it)). But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry. Just command them to hold position. This way your losses will be nearly 5 times less than with charge command. You order them to charge only to pursuit enemy archers, when you crush their infantry.
What you say I wouldn't argue if precisely the formations didn't exist in the game.
It is necessary to differentiate the open charge (is an onslaught in formation not compact, but spaced; what currently happens in the blobbing Warband/Bannerlord) and the closed charge (aproaching in fast/slow compact formation to enemy).
Closed charge (which is what I'm talking about here) is one of several uses of closed-order formations strategies. With this sort of " organized " charges we could simulate for example " the anvil and the hammer ", which unfortunately is impossible to simulate with fidelity at the moment.

 

Count Delinard

Lord of Uxkhal
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Great thread Terco, indeed a “charge keeping formation” order that made troops advance slower (walking/trotting) but keeping their formation would be amazing (less immediate impact but better unit cohesion as the fighting unfolds).

We could still keep the current charge order which would break the formation but gain more momentum (as troops run and smash the enemy) however being more exposed to casualties if the melee lasts longer than the initial first seconds, and the player would use one or the other according to the situation or type of unit they are commanding.
 

SturgiaStrong

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Terco_Viejo said:
SturgiaStrong said:
Didn't play Native Warband for VERY long time (lastly only VikingConquest (they have shieldwalls in it)). But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry. Just command them to hold position. This way your losses will be nearly 5 times less than with charge command. You order them to charge only to pursuit enemy archers, when you crush their infantry.
What you say I wouldn't argue if precisely the formations didn't exist in the game.
It is necessary to differentiate the open charge (is an onslaught in formation not compact, but spaced; what currently happens in the blobbing Warband/Bannerlord) and the closed charge (aproaching in fast/slow compact formation to enemy).
Closed charge (which is what I'm talking about here) is one of several uses of closed-order formations strategies. With this sort of " organized " charges we could simulate for example " the anvil and the hammer ", which unfortunately is impossible to simulate with fidelity at the moment.

100 % percent agree with you, but do you think it's even possible with current ai/engine?
 

Gab

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Completely agreed. Formations are rather useless if as soon as the fight breaks out they're immediately disregarded, thus becoming more of a gimmick than anything of substance. I've also tried using F1 to let them keep formation in a fight, but as you said each bot is too aggressive and in the end breaks it anyway. One more reason why I avoid using the "charge" order is that instead of targeting the unit that is in front of them, my bots will split up and go all over the place to attack nearby enemy bots that aren't as much of a threat as the unit I'm trying to charge, therefore removing valuable numbers from the main conflict and making the situation worse for those who are attacking the right target.
 

Captain Obvious

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Very nice thread man, it is ashame that you spend a bit of time putting your guys into formations and then when any fight breaks out they simply break formation. I hope the devs fix it though!
 

Nemerius

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I agree with having AI that stays in line with some formations. But not with everyone of them because that might cause AI stay and do nothing sometimes.In captain mod we only have 15 20 people to command. They can add something like a Guard mode and an Aggressive mode like in the strategy games.In guard they stay in line and in aggressive they can expand to attack. I think having something between total war and warband might be better. Great thread btw.
 

BingRazer

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SturgiaStrong said:
But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry.
The problem with this is that if you have them set on 'follow me' in formation, they'll keep their formation when following but will rarely attack, if at all. This is especially noticeable with cav as when you try to charge, they don't actually try to kill anything. Unfortunately, even if you did use charge, they would turn around and run after a guy on the opposite side of the map.
 

Terco_Viejo

Spanish Gifquisition
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nemeruis said:
I agree with having AI that stays in line with some formations. But not with everyone of them because that might cause AI stay and do nothing sometimes.In captain mod we only have 15 20 people to command. They can add something like a Guard mode and an Aggressive mode like in the strategy games.In guard they stay in line and in aggressive they can expand to attack. I think having something between total war and warband might be better. Great thread btw.
I would say that this "guard mode" is already implemented (the bots of the static unit protect themselves if they are shot by an arrow or if they are attacked). It is the "aggressive" mode that should appear. I explain myself with a Tercosketch:



Here you see the aggressive and defensive use of closed-order formations in the same "dramatized" MP environment where the teams are highly communicated (open/closed charge). The imperial units at all times present an aggressive attitude and engage in open charge. On the other hand the Sturgian make use of both attitudes (aggressive-defensive) in different moments of the battle.


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BingRazer said:
SturgiaStrong said:
But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry.
The problem with this is that if you have them set on 'follow me' in formation, they'll keep their formation when following but will rarely attack, if at all. This is especially noticeable with cav as when you try to charge, they don't actually try to kill anything. Unfortunately, even if you did use charge, they would turn around and run after a guy on the opposite side of the map.
+1
That's actually very annoying.

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and I would like to use the reply to thank those of you who are participating in the debate.  :party:
 

Reapy

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XDaron said:
This is right, but think of this from a computer sci perspective.

When you charge, what does the AI actually do?

Does it advance on it's current facing only?  If that is the case what if the enemy is slightly off to the left, your right flank would just run straight past everything. When does the left flank troops start attacking? How does it know to attack? Just swing at anything within a radius?  Would that win against a troop in charge mode that picks a closest target and attacks until it dies, then picks another target?

So in this slightly left facing enemy situation, so now we don't want the right flank to run straight on to oblivion. We can tell it to stay in its assigned spot, which will result in the right flank now standing helplessly nearby as the left is swallowed.

As was said people want the right flank to know how to bend the formation and wheel on something.  What if there are targets to the right also and your troops are split?

So let's take the simplest case and think about it, two lines charging into each other.  What's the algorithm? Run forward, search radius around you, pick target, engage. In the above picture, the center of those troops all collapse on that one circle because it is the closest person. Realistically the center 6 or so are going to collapse on that one guy then the blue edges will pick up the red edges.

So in that same scenario what if there are 2 red dots in the middle? In the 'move forward and attack in a small radius' the 3 center guys attack the red circles, while the rest stands in line waiting doing nothing. You can actually see this in the forms AI video linked above at around 8:40. The center knot of the troops hits the straight line and the flanks stand there doing nothing, they don't collapse on them.  Possibly this would be the moment you issue a charge command.

I think it's easy to picture these idea situations where two lines crash together and react, but in practice the angles will be all over the place, terrain will be odd, formations will make it really hard to have good results.

Ideally you have some sort of formation manager that has a behavior tree of its own. It would look at all the troops in its group and have information such as the center point, velocity, facing, troop status (moving / attacking etc). Formation managers would be able to detect they have engaged another formation and the two would grab information off one another and give the underlying AI behavior goals and targets. I imagine having some true north sorted 'front line troop' positions in a balanced binary tree, so the center guy is at the top.

When my formation gets near another formation then I could then traverse their tree list and assign my troops in the same order to attack theirs. That way my middle troop goes for their middle troop and so on outward from the middle. My formation's 'true center' would constantly update as my troops move, so unassigned troops would keep their original position relative to the changing formation and engage within that short radius around them. Maybe just do this once per engage so the initial clash is ordered but will break down to regular AI chaos.

You'd also need similar lists and behaviors for other parts of the formation. Say you have the wings and they can adjust to the formation they are engaging in a specific way, and you have the rear part of the formation which will do it's own thing too.

Every time formations target another one they will have to basically get a map of the formation they are engaging and react appropriately based on your own formations rules.

This would make engagement's sort of sticky, which actually might be alright. Not sure how you'd handle a 3rd formation entering the fray, but ideally there would be reactive code. Formation 3 attacks you, would notify your formation it's about to get engaged, and the AI can  follow rules to react to that.

I dunno it's pretty tough stuff when you start thinking about how to make it all work, but really interesting too.

 

BingRazer

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Reapy said:
So in this slightly left facing enemy situation, so now we don't want the right flank to run straight on to oblivion. We can tell it to stay in its assigned spot, which will result in the right flank now standing helplessly nearby as the left is swallowed.
I'm no expert on this stuff so not sure if this is possible or feasible, but maybe the line could act as a rubber string where there is a 'pull' for the ai to stay together. To resist that and do something else, there would have to be another factor that makes the AI not want to stay together. The further they are from the line, the stronger that factor has to be.

Let's say the pull from a guy at the edge of the line is increasing as he runs forward because the center of the line has stopped to attack. He would curve in to attack the flank unless there was another pressure, such as another charging hostile line.

In the image, the green lines represent low pull, yellow medium, red high. Blue is charging while pink is holding in a position.
 

vonbalt

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SturgiaStrong said:
Didn't play Native Warband for VERY long time (lastly only VikingConquest (they have shieldwalls in it)). But you should never ever press charge command for your infantry. Just command them to hold position. This way your losses will be nearly 5 times less than with charge command. You order them to charge only to pursuit enemy archers, when you crush their infantry.
Indeed, for warband mods with formations i always kept my infantry in formation and ordered them to attack an enemy formation (point the flag on top of enemy formation and your troops will attack it in formation), only ever used the charge command to run down archers or to persue running enemies.

Don't know if bannerlord has the same feature to attack in formation but i noticed something that could be it in the last captain mode MP game i saw, don't know if my eyes deceived me or if it was accidental and the guy playing didn't even knew he did it..
 

SturgiaStrong

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Terco_Viejo said:

Here you see the aggressive and defensive use of closed-order formations in the same "dramatized" MP environment where the teams are highly communicated (open/closed charge). The imperial units at all times present an aggressive attitude and engage in open charge. On the other hand the Sturgian make use of both attitudes (aggressive-defensive) in different moments of the battle.
Maybe if the game will be 10 more years in development, then they can do it. But personally i think even then, they couldn't make AI so smart