Sign in to follow this  
sunandshadow

Fog of War?

Recommended Posts

sunandshadow    7426
Just taking a general survey of people's feelings about fog of war. Personally I dislike it, I like exploring an RTS map once but I find it very annoying to have my work undone. It's also visually annoying to see the fog fluttering around at the edge of my base whenever a peon walks by. I'm trying to find out how much of a minority opinion mine is. If something like 80% or more of RTS players liked fog of war I'd have to bow to that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Palidine    1315
Well the main point of fog of war is obscuring your opponents movements. So in order to see where their troops are moving you need to keep a unit/spell/whatever in place to hold the fog at bay. The fog opens up tons of tactics whereas its removal would eliminate a lot from the game: no more surprise attacks, you can't lure your opponent with a small probe attack back in to your giant army, etc. There are whole "libraries" of strategies that rely on the imperfect information that RTS games provide: if you want to know the state of the map you need to invest resources in to units that reveal the fog.

Usually fog stays at bay for the terrain, so once you reveal the terrain you can always see that terrain. It just closes in over user-owned entities

StarCraft2 has an interesting new feature in the MP maps where there are capturable radar towers scattered throughout the maps. Basically the last team to touch one owns it and the fog is permanently revealed in that area until another team captures it.

-me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Silvermyst    113
I think it is typically implemented so that terrain, once revealed, is left revealed, but enemy units in terrain that is not currently in your line-of-sight is not. Terrain not in your line-of-sight is typically represented somewhat shaded to remind you that it may hold enemy troops in hiding.

I'm sure you can design the gameplay in such a way that enemy troops not in line-of-sight but in previously explored terrain are visible but I don't really see a benefit in this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Palidine    1315
RTS Fog of War has 3 states. In C&C parlance:

Revealed: you can see everything that's happening
Fogged: you can see terrain but not player owned things (units/structures)
Shrouded: you see nothing, just blackness

-me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by Palidine
So in order to see where their troops are moving you need to keep a unit/spell/whatever in place to hold the fog at bay.

That's exactly the part I find utterly annoying. I do not want to spend thought, time, and resources on something as basic as being able to see the battlefield. I've got enough to worry about managing units, structures, and resources and trying to find time to glance at what my opponent is doing.

Quote:
StarCraft2 has an interesting new feature in the MP maps where there are capturable radar towers scattered throughout the maps. Basically the last team to touch one owns it and the fog is permanently revealed in that area until another team captures it.

I'd go for a single fog generator in the middle of the board that players could choose to destroy, defend, or ignore. It would be repetitive to have to destroy it every battle, but better than not being able to get rid of that damn fog. But to people who like fog of war that probably misses the point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sandman    2210
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
That's exactly the part I find utterly annoying. I do not want to spend thought, time, and resources on something as basic as being able to see the battlefield. I've got enough to worry about managing units, structures, and resources and trying to find time to glance at what my opponent is doing.


Fighting the intelligence war can be as much fun - if not more so - than the actual battles between forces. Supcom had lots of cool intelligence related features; radar, sonar, cloaking devices, stealth generators, radar jammers etc. Sneak attacks were a very real possibility. This is an area of RTS gameplay I would like to see expanded even further, rather than removed completely.

Remove fog and you lose covert operations completely. You'll also lose out on tactical subtleties, e.g the use of spotters for artillery.


Quote:
Original post by Palidine
Revealed: you can see everything that's happening
Fogged: you can see terrain but not player owned things (units/structures)
Shrouded: you see nothing, just blackness


Personally, I detest 'shroud', it adds very little to the game, and it's really just an annoyance that unfairly disadvantages players who are unfamiliar with a given map.

Fog on the other hand, is absolutely fine, and IMHO absolutely essential for good multiplayer gameplay. Single player, not so much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kaze    948
One of the less obvious benefits of fog of war is to help disguise the deficiencies of the artificial intelligence and level the playing field against a human opponent. Since the AI won't be capable of any high level strategies it hinders the human more than the AI while still being fair and rewards the player for strategies that deal with this hindrance. See xcom for a perfect example of this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Silvermyst    113
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Remove fog and you lose covert operations completely. You'll also lose out on tactical subtleties, e.g the use of spotters for artillery.

You're removing the "stratego" element, but you may be adding a bit of the "chess" element. And maybe the "fog" element could be reintroduced somewhat in that the units themselves may be wolves in sheep clothing. Think Warhammer, where a unit of goblins may contain some hidden super fighters within its ranks, only to be revealed when the enemy is too close to react. With a completely revealed map, feints may also become more prominent (even if less effective).

It just seems that every element you'd introduce in the absence of fog could just as well be introduced with fog present.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ezbez    1164
Quote:
Original post by Palidine
StarCraft2 has an interesting new feature in the MP maps where there are capturable radar towers scattered throughout the maps. Basically the last team to touch one owns it and the fog is permanently revealed in that area until another team captures it.


I don't have the beta, but it looks to me like you only keep control of the tower so long as you have a unit stationed on it.

Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Personally, I detest 'shroud', it adds very little to the game, and it's really just an annoyance that unfairly disadvantages players who are unfamiliar with a given map.

Fog on the other hand, is absolutely fine, and IMHO absolutely essential for good multiplayer gameplay. Single player, not so much.


I agree wholeheartedly. Particularly in futuristic games where it is unrealistic that the general layout of the terrain is unknown, but even in medieval and other setups, this just gives too much reward to memorizing the map layout versus actual startegy. However, in single-player campaigns this can be acceptable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
thk123    180
Obviously fog of war isn't required, the best strategy game ever, Chess, doesn't have it. However, it is a tool that opens up lots of strategic options such as the surprise attack and an intelligence war.

Obviously, if you are not interested in these, then yeah, it is just a pain, but there are plenty of games that don't have it, like Dawn of War 2. But if you take something like Civilization, that would loose a lot with out the fog of war because defence would be come too easy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
Quote:
Original post by Sandman
Remove fog and you lose covert operations completely. You'll also lose out on tactical subtleties, e.g the use of spotters for artillery.

You're removing the "stratego" element, but you may be adding a bit of the "chess" element.

Yes or the tactical turn-based game element - I've never seen one of those which has fog of war, and a lot of the fun comes from being able to see your opponent carry out interesting strategies, which you can learn to disrupt and imitate.

Quote:
And maybe the "fog" element could be reintroduced somewhat in that the units themselves may be wolves in sheep clothing.

A 'doppelganger' or 'copy' sort of illusion spell, allowing combat units to be disguised as peons or transports, has been proposed and I thought that was a fun idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gyrthok    412
Its interesting to note that earlier RTS's (IE: C&C: Tiberian Dawn, Dune 2, Warcraft 1) didn't have FoW but relied on revealing a shroud during the course of the battle. I don't think it really reduces strategic depth for some of the reasons Silvermyst mentioned.

The number of objects a player needs to keep track of in a round is one determining factor, building and defending their economy, army, setting up defenses, coming up with strategic attack/defense plans, etc. Can make it difficult to sit there and stare at your opponents base and troop movements 24/7 and try to deduce their strategy for attacking you. Even if you did do that, your opponent would be free to do the same to you, potentially resulting in active attempts to mislead or distract each other.

That said it would probably be nice to have the choice of having a FoW or not when setting up a new game or some such. That FoW generator idea also seems like an interesting idea, similar to the cloaking fields in C&C: tiberium sun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Palidine    1315
You can definitely do without it.

One other reason it becomes important in many RTS games is the rock/paper/scissorness of a lot of RTS games. Certain units operate as counters to certain others:

Your opponent is amassing a fleet of bombers -> build anti-aircraft turrets
your opponent has upgraded his space marines with extra armor -> boost zergling damage

Without fog of war you know exactly what they are building at all times so you eliminate some of the benefits of having rock-paper-scissors in the first place. It takes away from the risk-reward of deciding which areas of your tech tree to develop, and removes some of the mini-game of tech tree adjustment based on new information acquired. Without that fog, everyone should always be building the perfect counter and so a good match will have both players essentially doing a breadth first traversal of the tech tree which to me seems kind of boring. Obviously you can change how tech trees and counters work to make lack of fog preserve the interestingness of choice.

So at any rate, all I'm saying is that FOW is integral to a lot of RTS games and is very tied in with their gameplay mechanics. If you don't have FOW, that's totally fine and could be awesome, just make sure that it all hangs together with your total game design.

-me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by Palidine
Without fog of war you know exactly what they are building at all times so you eliminate some of the benefits of having rock-paper-scissors in the first place.


In practice you're still not going to know exactly what your opponent is building at all times. Every second the player spends looking at what the opponent is doing is a second he is disadvantaging himself by not doing anything, so the player in many cases won't spend tine to figure out the details of what the opponent is doing. Also some information, such as what they are researching, isn't going to be available to an opponent at all. Added to that, if the game starts shrouded and there are no flying units, the center of the enemy's base will remain shrouded unless the player goes to kamikaze lengths to get a unit in there to reveal it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Silvermyst    113
You could also just tone down the effectiveness of the fog. Give players the ability to start building observation towers with spyglass upgrades from the start; to add scouts to units which will improve range of vision; to cast long-range wizard spells to reveal parts of the map (for a certain duration).

This will give veteran RTS players that familiar fog they expect while at the same time giving you a chance to put a new spin on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Silvermyst    113
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
A 'doppelganger' or 'copy' sort of illusion spell, allowing combat units to be disguised as peons or transports, has been proposed and I thought that was a fun idea.

And you could give quite a few units the ability to hide. Sure, you can see that forest over there, and it looks quiet, but elves may be hiding behind the trees. That rock formation may look natural, but it's actually a massive stone golem, ready to attack whichever player's unit disturbs his rest. Warhammer: Shadow of the Horned Rat and Warhammer: Dark Omen (still my favorite single-player RTS games; I have to figure out how to play them on my current PC) had ratmen lay in wait underneath trap doors in the ground, ready to pounce on you once you had entered their trap. (It also used a very good line-of-sight system.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sunandshadow    7426
Quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
That rock formation may look natural, but it's actually a massive stone golem, ready to attack whichever player's unit disturbs his rest.


Ooo that's a great idea. We had already discussed traps but units as traps are much more interesting than structures as traps, which was my original assumption.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Talroth    3247
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
That rock formation may look natural, but it's actually a massive stone golem, ready to attack whichever player's unit disturbs his rest.


Ooo that's a great idea. We had already discussed traps but units as traps are much more interesting than structures as traps, which was my original assumption.


If you do go with this route, you have to include a function to randomize the extra elements on the map. If you don't then you get people who really memorize all the elements of a map, and are more likely to detect that 'pile of stones' as a unit that had been moved into place.


On the subject of fog of war, I personally like it. If the men I'm commanding can't see something, then I don't want to know it. Otherwise it feels like cheating. I also don't want my opponent to be able to see something if he doesn't have a spotter there.

Now I will agree that having to explore the land to find things is annoying in most cases, especially in multiplayer where we play the maps often.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wavinator    2017
If the game's slower paced I like fog because I like the intelligence gathering aspect. Running spies into enemy territory in Civilization was quite fun because the pace was slow enough that I could enjoy looking around and thinking about what I saw.

Without fog you may be looking at a game that feels like a throwback to the 90s. But I'd personally give it a chance because there'd be the possibility that you wouldn't simply win because you countered an opponent's specific unit.

What about a compromise? The gap generators which filled in fog only at your base in Red Alert might be a way to go. It would be neat to be able to throw a warehouse or tarps over things you deemed really sensitive, and cool to do it just as a ruse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dragoncar    517
With the tactical turn-based games the units are determined before combat so by the time you see what they have you can't change your army to be different.

With RTS's now adays you can assign control groups to buildings, so you could sit watching the enemy and still be pumping out units to counter, and once your ready move away from viewing them to attack. Also by removing the fog you stop people from being able to suprise the opponent and hence having to counter act the suprise.


Personally I like the fog, but still want to be able to see the terrain and buildings of the enemy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
phresnel    953
I want to throw in the fog-of-war alternative "line-of-sight", which would, depending on historical setting, be a "realistic" alternative to fog-of-war, but still enable surprise tactics and the like.

I come from the camp of Total-War and, uhm, Silent-Hill *ahem*, btw, and was never deeply in love with Dune-likes (except for Starcraft I and C&C I/II), so I am not sure if that's a good alternative.

*de-debunk*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cosine    100
Most Real-Time-Strategies have annoyed many players with the Fog-Of-War. I agree that I would like to see the battlefield most, if not all the time.

At least some popular RTSs have some sort of method of keeping the Fog at bay, like Sonar/Radar Towers in Warzone 2100. They're sturdy, but won't last long in the fight, if you catch my drift.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Orymus    156
Fog of war is tool that fills in several spots. Removing it means you'd have to consider these:

1 - Information. As Sun tzu says, war IS information (and RTS are part of the wargame genre). You need to find a way to deal with information in a genuine way that is at least as much fun (or people accustomed to the fog of war will simply complain there was no reason for you to change the core mechanics in the first place)
How interesting would poker be if cards were all put up? You lose gambling, and the psychologic edge to strategy (and yes, even a well designed AI can feel FEAR)

2 - Scattering. It is important to have goals on the map for the player to move his or her units out of his or her base. Resources are one way, but information is an indirect reason. While there is no numbers to be gained by doing so, information has direct consequences on your many choices, thus, on the outcome of the game. The player with the most accurate information is often the victor, especially because of the rock-paper-scissor rule. If you know some player is ready to do this unit, do that unit, and you win it out. Obviously, you don't want to be able to do that without comitting something to the game (getting information) otherwise, it would be boring.
To all of those claim it could be more like chess, think again. Chess is limited, there is no production involved, and it is a game of tactics, spending as well as possible the units you have, not expanding the economy or choosing what units to build. And yes, I won a chess championship for the record ;)

3 - Strategy. If the opponent knows what you are making, then everyone knows what each other fields on the battlefield. It thus becomes who has the strongest economy rather than who uses it most efficiently, and that, makes a boring game.

4 - Ranges. There was a massive design trend to expand on a rather unused concept in the last few years: sight and attack range started to diverge in such a way that artillery and certain other units required "spotters" (read, military units that go on the vanguard to give line of sight to units with long range but weak line of sight). This was one of the best improvement to RTS mechanics gameplay elements in a while. Removing fog of war disables that.

SO I'm not saying Fog of War is an absolute, but you'd better be damn ready if you're willing to remove it. Depending on the scope of the project, it might be an unecessary amount of work to face for the gain to be earned. To a seasoned RTS game designer, solutions might come more easily.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Roots    1625
Maybe 15 years ago when I was a kid, I hated the fog of war and preferred RTS games that didn't have it. Today I am on the completely opposite side. The unknown makes RTS games so much more fun and exciting because you don't have all the information. If I can look at everything going on in my opponents base, know what type of force they are building up, and be certain to have full knowledge about where and when they are going to attack, that's boring in my opinion.


But here's an idea: why not let the player choose? Let them enable or disable the fog of war. Of course in single player games against an AI opponent, this makes the game much easier so you might want to take that into account. Or how about allowing players to build units or structures that actually generate fog, so that they can obscure their bases from their opponent and their forces. All the opponent would see would be a big foggy cloud moving in toward their base and have no idea what units were in the cloud. Maybe have four clouds attack from multiple directions at once, but only one or two of those have actual forces hidden in the cloud while the others are decoys? I think that might be interesting and somewhat original. I think the original C&C Red Alert game did something like this, but not very effectively IIRC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Orymus    156
C&C had shroud generators which were essentially what you are stating. It worked great because it was the only thing that worked against radars satellites, etc. BUT, this means most games won't have it, and your base location and assets will be revealed for quite some time before it happens. Most games wouldn't even get to the point where one player has the time to invest in that kind of technology...

It was a good idea, its just not as great as fog of war.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this