Established Orders for Military Groups

So, this comes in response to looking back at the streams from last week, where we saw the beginnings of direct commands for combat units. I’ve mentioned this intermittently in other threads on the forum (particularly the [Tactician] (Expanding the Future of Combat: Enter the Tactician!) concept from a long time ago, which I still hope for!), but I wanted to explicitly mention some hopes for upcoming unit controls.

Allow me to go back to the familiar (altered) image of the Kickstarter world chalkboard:

1. Chained Waypoints

Here’s a very basic situation the player might be faced with: they’re in the southwest, with a small enemy camp to the northeast and a large camp far to the east. If you simply put an attack command on the big camp (shown with a red banner), your forces will end up running into the small camp first and likely end up getting hurt before ever reaching the large camp. Having the ability to set a secondary waypoint in the route (the blue banner) would keep the units away from the other camp. You could predetermine the route, then execute the order once everything’s in place. It’s a basic function offered in most real-time strategy games, and it can be put to good use while still working in the hands-off, macrocosmic playing style Radiant has been aiming for.

2. Command Goals

But let’s expand this idea. Let’s say that at each point, you are able to set a “goal” that must be met before executing the next order. Maybe you’ve got a few slower units in your army, and you want them all to arrive around the same time. You could set a “wait until all selected units arrive in area “X”” requirement, followed by a notification system to say the action succeeded or failed after a certain (player-determined) amount of time.

Then, say that you put the order “Destroy all enemies” on the red banner location. You could then have the yellow arrow as another waypoint to crush the smaller camp after defeating the large one. However, this could be approved/denied by the player; if denied, they would follow the dotted-line route back home to avoid more fighting.

3. Retreat Points

This one’s been talked about by several people before, and it’s one I personally feel need to be included for the hands-off style. If a unit gets too injured, they should have a location which they should go to avoid dying. In the image, this would be the green arrow, away from both enemy camps at the blue banner.

Here, multiple possibilities exist:

  • Unit remains at location until further instructed
  • Unit seeks healer/medic
  • Unit returns to point “X” after being healed/waiting/etc., resumes original orders (or enters preexisting set of orders)
  • Unit enters new set of orders, such as patrol/defend the retreat point

4. Hands-off Encouragement/Diversifying Combat

A huge reason for these suggestions–chained waypoints, planned orders and goals, retreats–are to encourage the player to let the game take your commands and run them itself. But direct control still exists. How would the game recommend using established orders over an insane clickfest and hotkeys spreadsheet typical of StarCraft and MOBAs?

Perhaps using established orders gives benefits to the involved units: morale boost, increased defense/offense, etc. After all, an organized and planned out attack/defense tends to reassure soldiers (rather than “RUN IN AND BE RAMBO”) and improves chances of success. Or perhaps direct orders can only be given so often, simulating the delay in combat messaging systems; you should only change the plan when the situation turns for the worse. They could exhaust the units more or reduce morale as well, given the shifts in their plans. The larger the group in question, the greater the effects or delay in orders.

So, since the beginnings of this system are coming up soon, I’m interested in what everyone thinks of these points, and whether you can think of any other points you’d like to see in Stonehearth’s system!