Just some commands I think would drastically help in ground combat >.>
We need the ability to force our BO to face a given way when we tell them to move to a certain spot. This helps prevent flank damage, helps us get engineers to set their stuff up in the right spot - and get us to pose them for snazzy photo-ops! >.> (I recommend hold-drag right click and release while having selected the "go to" command as the method for this. - If the whole group is selected, have them face the same general direction, not looking exactly at where the mouse was released.)
Basically the ability to save and store up to 5 custom formations for BO positioning. I find myself routinely using several very similar attack plans depending on the terrain, and it'd be nice to not have to tell each individual officer where to go each time.
Basically, as part of the BO interface include a button that says "Save Custom Formation" - this will save your current BO positions. Next to it is a pulldown with all the formations you've currently saved - click one and you can now put your BOs into that formation instantly with just a click.
Follow Close/Medium/Distant - Some BOs you want further away than others (usually the guy who either draws a ton of aggro, or if that's you - the one who patches you back up)
Let us prioritize what our BOs shoot with the actual "Attack This one" command for when you need to override that behavior.
Melee/Range - Maybe it's just me, but my BOs refuse to use Bat'leths or their bare hands. They stand there tossing grenades or using any other ranged powers they may have; but will only attack in melee if something attacks them. This toggle lets you choose if the BO actively pursues melee engagement, or uses the standard AI.
Rez Me - Unlike the "Help!" command, where 'sometimes' a BO will listen and come help; this directly orders to BO to come and get you back on your feet, ignoring everything else to do so.
Rez target - Same as above, except for whatever individual you have targetted. (Useful for group play and when a close rez is the difference between victory and defeat.)
Item use - Triggers for each type of device - Shields 75%/50%/25%, Health 75%/50%/25%, Target 75%, 50%, 25%; Always use Food? Never use Food? Use Food if Combat is Over and below X%?
Finally: A change to the "Attack Target" command where, IF the BO has been given a position to stand at by the go-to command, they will not leave that position if given an Attack order. Instead they will fire from that position *or* if they cannot hit their target from there, move down the priority list from there.
I realize I'm asking for the galaxy here; but right now this is one of the things that's making ground combat more aggravating than it should be. I *like* ground combat in this game; but because Advanced and Elite require a little strategy, these points are really standing out in ways they never did before. So I figure they're worth putting out here.
Ground combat is one of those areas everyone knows has problems, but putting your finger on them isn't easy, so thanks for doing this! Feel free to ask for the Galaxy, IMHO the only real crime is not making it clear to Cryptic what we think the problems are.
In my experience "normal" difficulty is too easy, I don't even bother controlling the BOs. "Elite" is too difficult (I keep running into missions where for whatever reason I can not defeat one of the five groups and have to cancel the mission).
But all in all, even beyond what I've seen posted so far, I can't help but feel away-missions are missing something. Perhaps it's the combat mechanics, perhaps multiple of the 18 items listed in Saving STO, perhaps it's Banter Arcs, or perhaps something all together different.
Here are some idle thoughts while reading through your thread:
We need the ability to force our BO to face a given way...[to] prevent flank damage
I'd much prefer them just be smarter rather than try to microcontrol this.
helps us get engineers to set their stuff up in the right spot
I haven't had a problem with this, I can send to any spot and fabricated items tend to have a 360 arc. I know cover-shield is direction orientated, but I don't think any of my BOs have that.
to pose them for snazzy photo-ops!
There is that!
Formations...I find myself routinely using several very similar attack plans depending on the terrain
I can see this for solo play, not sure how well it would in group play. I like the mechanism you described.
I'm not opposed, but I think the reason you want this has more to do with larger flaws in ground combat - I'll keep thinking about it, but so far I'm not sure why I feel that way.
Prioritize & Attack Target
What you describe is sort of there now. You can manually set any target and instruct BOs to engage in combat or not. Given how situational each combat is I'm okay with the current system (might prefer the settings to stick between logins).
It's definitely not just you! I'd love to give my Klingons three weapon types: Ranged, Melee, and Honor. I'd also like the AI, based on a variation of your close/medium/distance, to know which weapon to use.
Rez Me/Target Now! - Orders a BO to drop everything and rez target.
That would be so useful. I don't know the number of times the battles over and they're still milling around cracking jokes about their careless captain. I can have a doctor that is ordered not to engage the enemy and they still refuse to do this. Possibly, just setting them to not engage and the Help could be switched to do this.
Item use Triggers - set threshold when to use item
Good one! Although, a sensitivity flag might be better. Sort a pep talk before battle, "Okay men! This is going to be a tough fight, don't be afraid to use your equipables" Or, "These are not worthy opponents, if you use your equippables I will have you on report!"
As an FYI, you might be interested in Darren's thread IDEAS: Improving Ground Combat (Combo/Situational Effects). He generally does a superb job at keeping the first few posts updated with a summary of the thread's discussion (something I wish I had thought of when I started the Starbase thread, who knew it would grow so big?)
Firstly - all of this is for solo play primarily. I do group, but when i do it tends to be with a full team; making BO commands utterly unimportant. That said I solo a great deal; and it becomes tedious to re-issue the same orders each battle. As for Normal/Advanced/Elite - I see them basically as Easy/Normal/Hard really.
I can beat elite, but usually prefer advanced because it's more enjoyable - it requires some thought but isn't a brain-grating frustration fest. (Not that elite is always such, but it can be and I prefer not to get myself into situations where that's the case.)
I want facings available because very often I set my squad up before a battle - like say at the corner of a hallway, and then bring the enemy around that corner. The problem is to do this right now, I have to send them far down the hallway,t hen bring the person back so they're facing the right direction. Otherwise they might start the fight with their back toward where the enemy will come from.
As to the engineering side of things - similar reasons. I want the guns up front, the mines properly placed, and the generators behind. (Some of it is aesthetics, but it also helps keep everything from getting nailed with one AoE, which given the fragility of ground constructs... well it's just a good thing to do.)
The thing here is that I'd like to give them some 'default' standard targets to shoot first; and override those standards if I need to by using the Attack option we have now. It allows me to have one person fighting Targs while everyone else engages the Targ Handler, without having to micromanage the Targ-shooter, for example.
Part of the problem with making the BOs 'just smarter' - is that it's not as simple as that. AI is basically just a series of If/Then statements - a set up like this allows the player to determine said if-then statements rather than relying on a programmer who sees the AI only from their perspective; whereas the player could tailor it to specific bridge crew's needs.
Follow Distance -
The big thing here is keeping my medics and other support personnel back from the line. Keep them out of grenade AoE and the like without having to tell them to stand back every single fight. It's the kind of thing that, if they were real, you could just tell them "hey, stand back a bit since you're covering our bums".
Melee/Range was actually intended to be an AI setting - ie" Use Melee" or "Use Range" - buuuut I certainly would not complain if NPCs had extra weapon slots. After all, enemy NPCs can switch from ranged to melee weapons... so it'd fit. Nice improvement I'd say!
Rez Me/Target - I really want this to be a button, rather than a setting of some kind. The reason being is; I don't want them to just run off willy-nilly rezzing someone who died in a really awkward spot - not until I'm sure they can get there without causing us more trouble. But I do want to be able to say "REZ PLZ" and actually get it done. Though that said a toggle "Use this automatically if an ally is down" would be nice; for those that do want it automated.
As for the Item Use triggers - while a simplified format like that could work; I'd really prefer a per-item slot threshhold system as it obviously grants a lot more fine control.
Most of the above are actually inspired by Dragon Age: Origins actually >.> it has a really phenomenal AI system; and while I know we couldn't go as deep as that system here (Oh if only!) - some of the simpler ideas would be immensely helpful.
I'll look at that thread in a bit; I'm working on another sizable suggestion at present (but it's going to require drawings, meaning it's taking... time.) But yeah, I'll check that out later >.<b
Some good ideas there. I personally am a bit a nostalgic player - I would love to give my BOs scripts like the old D&D and Baldur's Gate series had to define their behaivor. Like, you have 9 scripts to pick, 3 for each class. For example, sci BOs could use:
Script 1 - defensive, heal allies below 30 % health, defend captain, target enemies that flank captain
Script 2 - offensive, use debuff abilities, revive allies, target enemy medics/debuffers over other enemies
Script 3 - passive, heal allies below 50 % health, buff allies, revive priority higher than attack
Any threshold for item use would also be a big help. If I give a BO 2 tribbles - one with a damage buff, one with a heal - the BO will use the same one over and over again and not care about the other. While using up every single consumable in sight. Simply setting "use heal if health/shield below x" would already be great and stop them from eating everything.
I'd love scripting - that's actually what Dragon Age does too - you can get rather deep with it because of that.
However that said, while I'd love scripting, I see it as unlikely. The main reason is bandwidth; which from what's been mentioned in other games and, if I recall right STO CB; is why NPCs in MMOs tend to be 'stupid'. Every command the AI makes has to get processed just like a PC command. While it's not a big deal if they're only a few basic things and the ability to hit a button for other basic things... scripts might be too much.
If they feel like doing it though, I am all for it. Having deep control of your BOs would certainly help immensely; ESPECIALLY on Elite where things can go from fine to frakked in under 3 seconds. Sure pausing to give commands helps, but to do that you have to know things have become untenable - and sometimes you don't notice until half the BOs are dead and you're screaming "OH CRAP!" very loudly.
If they want to pursue that I'll highly recommend looking at Dragon Age's script system. Not the "gain extra script slots for skill points' bit - but the basic layout. It's painfully easy to use, even for someone who has relatively little patience for that sort of thing. Which means more people would actually give it a whirl.
On a completely seperate note:
I'd really like some maps where even on a team you could bring all your BOs with you. Have to be a fairly sizable map; but how awesome would it be to have an entire platoon with you? <,< Idle musing~ At any rate.
Interesting input on ground commands. Would be interesting to see and set up. It doesn't even have to be for BO. There could even be formations to setup with a group and/or team. Maybe even increase the team size to like 10 players. May allow for more missions and more players to join in on missions. This could even be for space. Sometimes 5 people on a team might not be enough and allow for a good size fleet.