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COH3 Retreat Paths, Solved

21 Sep 2021, 14:38 PM
#1
avatar of WhiteFlash
Senior Mapmaker Badge
Benefactor 119

Posts: 1274 | Subs: 1

I want to draw special attention to some ideas that I beleive will permanently solve bad retreat pathing for COH3.

These two items and much more were talked about on Elperns podcast if you want to see some live discussion on this retreat path topic, check it out here. https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1152274446?t=03h23m52s

If you support this, please say so in the comments. Relic needs to see support for good ideas in COH3. Cheers.

1. Implement a new feature that I call "Predictive Retreat"

This feature is explained in my last COH3 Pre-Alpha article but I will reiterate here.

"Retreating in Company of Heroes is an absolutely fundamental part of what the series is about. It is a great change to normal RTS games wherein conservation of units is all important. There is a problem.... When the retreat button is activated, there often isn't a clear idea as to which path the unit will take to return to base, which often unintentionally puts units in great danger. Generally speaking, players rely on the map designers built in “good retreat pathing” to see the job done. This is tricky to accomplish and many games would have a different outcome if a different retreat path was surmised by the player before they retreated. I propose to solve this issue with a new mechanism which combines the tactical pause dotted line graphics (or something similarly suitable) with an in-game graphically illustrated predictive retreat path. This mechanism would be called “Predictive Retreat”.



I'm talking about having players hold a button (default alt, ctrl or the like) while a squad, or group of squads, is selected. While this button is held down a path pops up and shows the player, in real time, where the unit will retreat if the retreat ability is activated. This would be an amazing piece of tech that will give players a ton of power over their units survivability and they would identify retreat issues ahead of time if they are smart enough to engage the “Predictive Retreat” feature. More depth, more control, better COH."

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2. Give mappers the ability to place a "waypoint retreat" object in the worldbuilder that only the mappers can see and are invisible to players on the map.

This object would be a retreat location that units retreat to first (if its closer than the base) and as soon as the unit hits that retreat point they continue retreating back to the main base. This will give mappers much more flexibility when designing maps that are wide. Currently maps are forced to be square or rectangular in the long direction, think rails and metal. There may be better ways to implement this "waypoint retreat" feature so think abstractly how to empower mappers to improve retreat pathing. There may be many ways to do this, this is the best ive come up with thus far. We want to give mappers as much flexibility to create the very best maps possible, this will aid in that effort.

Keep in mind units would only retreat to this "waypoint retreat" object if they are closer to it than they are the main base.

Below shows an undesirable retreat path (red) and a desirable retreat path (green) and the "waypoint retreat" objects placement (blue).



Please note: There may be issues with units that are near the waypoint that go TO the waypoint and then the base because they are technically closer to the waypoint retreat than the main base when not intended. This idea needs to be thought about more.

Maybe players have options for retreat paths when combining this with "Predictive retreat"? Maybe you hold down ALT or another key to see your retreat path then you scroll wheel to select the waypoint retreat path or the main base retreat path? Something more elegant than this??

This idea isnt perfect, but some version of this idea may be fleshed out more to put it in a place where some form of this idea functions in a hugely powerful way in the mappers hands.

Retreat paths are a foundational part of COH and its critical that they work as intended. Its possible Item 2 doesnt go anywhere because of its complexities, but Item 1 is a no brainer for COH3.

Cheers
21 Sep 2021, 15:29 PM
#2
avatar of Tobis
Senior Strategist Badge
Donator 11

Posts: 2301 | Subs: 4

Option one seems like a no brainer straight upgrade over the current system. The only problem I can see related to that is being able to "scout" for changes in the retreat path, literally seeing things in the FoW that change unit pathing like the enemy actively placing barbed wire. I don't expect that to be entirely significant, but it's worth thinking about potential ways this system could be abused.

Option 2 seems too difficult to implement. Imagine how you have to explain to new players how this system works, and then have them learn on each individual map how this is going to impact pathing differently. The retreat system is simple to understand, gtfo back to base as quick as possible. Most of the issues this would solve would already be fixed by implementation of option 1. This solution would add more complexity and frustration than just dealing with some poor pathing on certain areas of maps, which can already be fixed with map layout changes anyway.

Option one is the clear way to go here. Giving the player more information to play with is always better.
21 Sep 2021, 15:40 PM
#3
avatar of rickierifle

Posts: 6

About point 1. Implement a new feature that I call "Predictive Retreat"

This should be implemented in the worldbuilder. Just drawing a debug line on the calculated retreat path should be enough for inside the worldbuilder, so mappers can see where units will pass on there map and therefore can determine the flow of the map better.

For the core game idk. It sounds gimmicky. When is the player going to use this feature? Not in the multiplayer, and maybe in the single player but this would be unnecessary if the map is designed properly.

Which we will come to the next point 2. "Give mappers the ability to place a "waypoint retreat" object in the worldbuilder that only the mappers can see and are invisible to players on the map."

If the mapper is able to add and set retreats points himself the issue of having a "wrong" retreat path will not be there in the first place.

Adding retreat paths should be very limited imo and also maybe only set inside the base sector. So instead of retreating to the center of the base sector the unit retreats to the edge of the base sector first and then to the center.
21 Sep 2021, 15:43 PM
#4
avatar of Lady Xenarra

Posts: 797

Tbh, we already have predictive paths on the minimap when ordering a unit to a location and it can also be used to check for wire as well (Hello Hamburger bridge wire). Implementing it for a retreat path on the general map should be fairly manageable from a design perspective(?) esp as the game plots them consistently.
21 Sep 2021, 16:38 PM
#5
avatar of Zyswen

Posts: 149 | Subs: 1

Sick suggestion. 10/10
21 Sep 2021, 17:27 PM
#6
avatar of Siberian

Posts: 545 | Subs: 3

Interesting points but I am in disagreement with point number 1 for a number of reasons:

The whole concept of retreating & "danger" in doing so lies in the fact that it is a mechanic outside of the player's control, just like is the case with RNG rolls an a comparison. If one were to outright explicitly illustrate this on a map (whichever way you want to do so visually such as a line or a silhouette) for the player then you are directly giving people the ability to manipulate this. I understand the desire for more clarity over where one's units will retreat but this should probably be a calculate risk in the same fashion that you have no idea whether a shot will penetrate or bounce outside of an educated guess. Fundamentally, you also create a vast number of UI issues that require designing & implementing to visually represent this.

Moreover, giving ANYONE the ability to dictate retreat paths (such as the designers) by allowing "preferred" paths in my opinion is also doing the opposite of giving more control to the player.

I honestly think the way to alleviate the current frustration with retreat paths (I'd argue that PATHING is MUCH MORE of an issue in general than the RETREAT PATHS albeit they share the same algorithm) is to design maps in a way that unexpected obstacles (for pathing) aren't present. In this case, retreat indicators in the world builder will be perfectly sufficient for enabling designers to see how the overall flow of the map changes once objects are placed. From this, there would also be the possibility of simulating general pathing since it uses the exact same premise.
21 Sep 2021, 17:44 PM
#7
avatar of Sander93

Posts: 3164 | Subs: 7

I would evolve option 2 in a system that lets mappers create a small "bubble" of no-go zone around certain objects. For example on the edges of buildings or fences, to prevent an infantry unit from clumping up while going around the corner. The bubble should force them to make a wider turn, in which they would be able to keep a more spaced out squad formation.


I don't really agree with option 2 as it is, as it would be very unintuitive for players and it would take away a significant amount of skill. It sounds like retreating would become too easy. Knowing your own and the enemy's retreat paths, not overextending the wrong way or securing your retreat route should be a part of player skill / knowledge. I think the worst offending retreat paths (for example Lienne Forest west to east retreat) can usually be fixed with some map adjustments.
21 Sep 2021, 18:13 PM
#8
avatar of Orphan

Posts: 15

About point 1. Implement a new feature that I call "Predictive Retreat"

This should be implemented in the worldbuilder. Just drawing a debug line on the calculated retreat path should be enough for inside the worldbuilder, so mappers can see where units will pass on there map and therefore can determine the flow of the map better.


You can already do this with the Ruler tool. When it gives you the true distance and the pathfinding distance, the pathfinding distance is basically the same as a retreat path when measured from a base sector.
21 Sep 2021, 18:52 PM
#9
avatar of EtherealDragon

Posts: 1806 | Subs: 1

Predictive retreat sounds like a cool idea but I don't know how useful it will be depending on the pace of gameplay for COH3. A lot of time retreats are split second reactions to grenades or you being on the receiving end of an unanticipated RNG damage and you don't usually have the time to consider retreat paths. You would need a quick way to toggle between the preview of the path and being able to start the retreat so that it's useful beyond the few slow paced engagements in the early game.
21 Sep 2021, 19:44 PM
#10
avatar of Tric
Master Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1442 | Subs: 4

The problem isn't "pathing", in the way most people understand it. Its the precision map and proximity to objects that causes all the issues. This is why vehicles spin, and take odd routes. That and the way they navigate pathing with shift queuing as I've explained and show previously.

As Sib said, pathing in general is a problem, not retreat paths, and it is because of the way the engine handles collision and objects near one another, again as I demonstrated and showed literally years ago.

The above suggestion, especially number two, would impede the game and player choice more than solve anything. Especially since people would just sit on way points for retreats. The variety, though sometimes aggravating and annoying in retreats also causes a bit of unpredictability, rewarding players that react to that with kills or wipes.

And number one is already in the game if you pay attention to the minimap / enable the option. Since you are moving from the base sector it literally draws where your unit will move and the path they will take, this is also true for the retreat path. The only change to this pathing is areas opening up via crush or player built objects, such as barbed wire or sandbags.

So not really sure how either of this solutions solve the actual problem, and that is the precision map, pathing in general, and how units navigate within it.

EDIT: Since I didn't offer a solution.

You could have a player be able to set their own retreat way points that the unit would follow, much like shift clicking and the queuing of orders. Limit it to 1-3 markets that they would navigate to on retreat. Gives the player a bit more micro intensive freedom to make decisions and now you can retreat around things instead of through. Rewarding for the person retreating when it works, and rewarding for the opponent when they predict it and get a wipe on retreat.

This would be the simplest thing to implement, though doing it for large numbers of squads could be tedious and intrusive overall to the player experience. Though that is not for me how to decide how it should be implemented or what limitations should or should not be enforced, that is up to Relic. This would allow you to see the same pathing draw on the minimap as you see points, knowing where your unit is going to retreat and what path they will take, short of another player blocking you with sandbags/wire.

Edit 2:

Another way is from the main HQ you can set 3 retreat paths, like rally points. Then you can have a hotkey for each.

R+1 = 1 -> Base
R+2 = 2 -> Base
R+3 = 3 -> Base
R+4 = 1 -> 2 -> 3 -> Base

Or something similar. Then you can have quick retreats to sides, to base, or to the middle down then down a side to base, ect;.

Which would give more flexibility, couple that with the soft retreat that was suggested below, where you can soft retreat to friendly territory. There are a multitude of ways that would be interesting and offer a better dynamic than what is currently implemented.
21 Sep 2021, 19:47 PM
#11
avatar of HelpingHans
Strategist Badge
Donator 11

Posts: 1837 | Subs: 17

I agree with 1 for sure as it allows players to know if a certain path back to base is safe or not.

For 2 I'm not so sure about. Hard to implement and what if new terrain obstacles get placed in on these new retreat paths? How will it work then?
21 Sep 2021, 20:12 PM
#12
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 840 | Subs: 1

I'd say, even if there is no place for retreats via waypoints, it would over-all have been much better, if the units chose path according to the closest friendly territory rather then closest possible way to the player base.

And if for some reason base sector is actually closer then the friendly sector, then squads should retreat just like in coh1\coh2.

In this case it would at least give players ability to understand where and how squads will retreat based on the map controll they have.

21 Sep 2021, 20:33 PM
#13
avatar of Tric
Master Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1442 | Subs: 4

I'd say, even if there is no place for retreats via waypoints, it would over-all have been much better, if the units chose path according to the closest friendly territory rather then closest possible way to the player base.

And if for some reason base sector is actually closer then the friendly sector, then squads should retreat just like in coh1\coh2.

In this case it would at least give players ability to understand where and how squads will retreat based on the map controll they have.



This is also a good suggestion. It could even be a hard, and a soft retreat. A soft retreat goes to the nearest friendly territory (would be good for nades), and a full retreat is back to base.
21 Sep 2021, 22:41 PM
#14
avatar of GachiGasm

Posts: 840 | Subs: 1

jump backJump back to quoted post21 Sep 2021, 20:33 PMTric


A soft retreat goes to the nearest friendly territory (would be good for nades), and a full retreat is back to base.


I honestly wish with my full heart, that CoH3 wont have any kind of soft-retreat mechanics tbh. I mean no FHQs and no soft retreats (by that I mean not the ones that involves micro), so you either dodge by micro\prediction or enjoy full trip back to the base.

Because in CoH2 FHQ and soft-retreats just ruined everything up to 2v2+ and even 2v2 to some extend, while didnt affect 1v1. But out-side of 1v1 it just brought braindead blob retreats to FHQ and back to the fight in mere seconds.

Since any kind on retreat points which allows you brirng your forces back to the fight faster are pretty much destroying one of the fundamental coh concepts, being that you dont have to wipe squads in order to win the fight, but to knock the enemy away to the base giving yourself oportunity window and time.
21 Sep 2021, 22:59 PM
#15
avatar of Vermillion_Hawk

Posts: 130

Any kind of user-generated retreat point that isn't an in-game object is a non-starter, for those suggesting that. I can already picture semi-disposable squads like Pioneers "retreating" into your base and scouting all your stuff.
21 Sep 2021, 23:36 PM
#16
avatar of devlish
Patrion 14

Posts: 240

dont mess with retreat paths , learn to play with how it works and live with it. shit can happen to all
22 Sep 2021, 01:05 AM
#17
avatar of Spanky
Senior Strategist Badge

Posts: 1778 | Subs: 2

Usually the retreat path is obvious, but there are times when you are left scratching your head. Units take the shortest way back to base, it is simple enough, just tweak the pathing overall to be more consistent.
Vaz
22 Sep 2021, 05:02 AM
#18
avatar of Vaz

Posts: 1139

I put up a post with a similar idea almost a month ago, but I want to say that having to define it per squad would be a micro burden. I think global retreat path or even a weight that influences the path in a certain direction would be more useable in game.
22 Sep 2021, 13:01 PM
#19
avatar of Tric
Master Mapmaker Badge

Posts: 1442 | Subs: 4

jump backJump back to quoted post22 Sep 2021, 01:05 AMSpanky
Usually the retreat path is obvious, but there are times when you are left scratching your head. Units take the shortest way back to base, it is simple enough, just tweak the pathing overall to be more consistent.


This, but felt I had to offer something in my post originally instead of just shooting down the suggestions.
22 Sep 2021, 13:42 PM
#20
avatar of Hannibal
Senior Moderator Badge

Posts: 2601 | Subs: 2

I'd personally say yes to #1, but no to #2.

Having the retreat path shown on the map would be a good step forward.

The invisible retreat points would be weird though. They will just cause weird retreat paths that will change for every map. If they are too far away from the base sector, you suddenly create points that you must not lose because your units might be thrashed on the waypoint (I assume it will work as a hub for a larger area of the map). If they are too close, they could just be in the base sector anyway.

The current system is not flawless, but at least it gives everyone a fairly clear message where a retreating unit is going (apart from edge cases where it is unclear if they go "left or right", but feature #1 would solve that).
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