More intuitive LOS/unit FOV mechanic

I don’t know why I hadn’t considered this b efore (but maybe someone else did) but I believe S44 could benefit by improving the way LOS is handled in a more intuitive, understandable way.

It has been discussed before the “reverse LOS” system, where the range at which a unit is spotted is based on its own unitdef. This proved impossible.

So another way to perhaps head in the same direction is to have units appear as visible when they fire their weapons. Up to now, annoyingly, when you have a unit being fired at by a tank or some such, all you see is a shell appearing out of nowhere and pounding into you with pinpoint accuracy, the only indication of its whereabouts being the brief tuft of muzzleflash and guesswork on the direction of the shot. This is kinda silly.

Instead, I propose that when a unit fires its weapons (with some exceptions, such as snipers, mortars, etc), it will appear visible to players who otherwise do not have LOS on it. An additive idea is that the unit will appear only if it is within a certain distance of an enemy unit (say, within AirLOS distance, allowing us to use that engine feature some how).

What do I see this changing? It will reduce some of the frustration of never being able to see what’s shooting at you from far away, but of course does not change the fact that what is shooting at you may be too far for you to hurt it (Tigers, for example). This will be a slight-to-moderate disadvantage to anyone trying to go up against a Tiger, as the Tiger will spot firing tanks and shoot at them. However, on the other side of the coin, when that Tiger fires it will allow you to see it as well, evening things up a little and allowing you to accurately avoid, flank, or counter in some other way. It should make it more interesting than being shot at by invisible ghosts.

Having the ability to turn this on and off for specific units (a la snipers and mortars) will also allow perhaps some additional “gameplay niches”, such as (off the top of my head) some ability to allow anti-tank guns to camouflage, giving up their defense for the ability to not be revealed when they fire (but will still appear if you have LOS) so that they can actually ambush.

As for infantry, there are very few infantry that can actually shoot further than their own LOS – snipers and mortars are all that come to mind and they too, as I said, would not become visible when firing (the sniper is always hidden anyway, and the mortar has no real visible plume of smoke, muzzleflash or anything. Anti-aircraft also should not become visible when they fire their weapons at aircraft (for the obvious reason that AA appearing universally visible = dead AA).

So, thoughts?

I like this idea. Ive always felt that tank combat is very much decided by LoS rather than positioning and numbers. Having recon planes to scout for your tanks is kind of unrealistic
It would be a very large change to the gameplay though.

Another thing is for how long units should be revealed after firing. Until they are have reloaded? If they disapear before they reload they will draw alot of innaccurate fire when its not in LoS.
I think ISU-152 has the longest reload time. Should it be visible all the time?

Artillery should not be visible in my opinion.

And then there is FFA aswell. When is it a appropriate that a unit should be revealed? In air LoS?

I came up with two supplimentary ideas to augment this feature.

  1. Giving stationary guns the ability to “Camouflage themselves”. By doing this the gun will give up its defensive strength (sandbags etc) and instead become exempt from becoming visible when they fire. They could also become cloaked (ofc would decloak when firing), and would not be detected by scouts/aircrafts/etc.

  2. Giving all/most cannon-armed units the ability to select between new, different firing modes; “Fire At Will” as it is now, units will shoot at anything in range. “Fire At Combat Ranges” or simply “Combat Ranges” will have the unit only use its cannon at targets that are relatively close, such as a blanket 1/2 modifier of their usual range or also known as “Combat Ranges” in which they stand a better chance of hitting and penetrating their target, this would allow for tanks to be a bit more stealthy as they will wait to get closer to their targets before opening fire rather than starting firing from way off where they have no realistic chance of hitting or damage it; and of course a “Hold Fire” state where they dont fire at all.

With these two abilities some of the downsides and upsides of becoming visible when firing can be alleviated through player action and decision. A player having his SHermans killed by Tigers firing from long range will be able to switch the Shermans to combat ranges for quick flank attacks where they will be able to remain undetected until in close proximity (unless spotted, of course). Artillery will be able to hide themselves from accurate counter-bombardment but will be more susceptible to harm from random counter-artillery or if they are spotted. Anti-tank guns will be able to hide and wait in ambush (combination of being Camouflaged and set to firing only at Combat Ranges) more effectively but like camouflaged artillery will be weaker when they are spotted. Players who use Tigers and Tiger II’s and IS-2’s etc to snipe from max range will make them become visible, allowing you to more easily assess their strengths and locations and deal with them accordingly such as through air attack or specific artillery barrage (ie smoke rounds to blind them) so you can rush your Shermans into Combat Range!)