Better ORBAT and Planning UI

Truism

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Very much enjoying your simulation, and will freely admit that I'm no expert with this software with only a few dozen hours of experience, but wrangling the UI remains a constant challenge, reliant on a very intimate understanding of the locations of features and their interpretation in the current UI even for someone with a good grasp of operational planning. Two features in particular are particularly challenging, managing unit attachments and coordinating actions between subelements in time.

Firstly, the current orbat editor in operations can be very difficult to grasp and very finicky. Its presentation as a list in text format limits the ability to determine what attachments have been made, since the attachments will appear detached from their parent, but not attached in the orbat panel to their new HQ. The system of attachment is also counter-intuitive to someone used to using taskorg matrices; rather than selecting all units to be grouped, then issuing an order, it would be more intuitive to establish the force's organisation first and then to issue orders to those task organised elements.

The best solution to this that I can think of would be to replace the current orbat UI with either a German-style task organisation matrix where elements can be dragged and dropped in the matrix, or a wire diagram model that permits dragging and dropping. This would make the processes of establishing and determining attachments, detachments and command relationships far easier, and is far closer to the model used by staff in the period (and now).

Secondly, coordinating related actions in space is straightforwards in the current system, but coordinating them in time is difficult. Tasks laid out for multiple elements are each required to be interrogated in multiple menus to verify or attempt to establish synchronisation. The UI also doesn't allow for easy ways of verifying the synchronisation of preliminary actions across units, the integration of reinforcing units into existing plans or the establishment of conditions based tasks. The last is the most complex to solve in my opinion and is outside the scope of pure UI changes, so I'll refrain from commenting on it, except to say that it's an important missing element that currently requires micromanagement to alleviate.

The best solution that I can think of to this is to replace the current orders panel with an operational timeline showing when different unit's tasks and preliminary actions are planned to occur, preferably one that is interactive so that timings can be shifted in that panel or right clicked to go to the normal task info panel. If possible, the ability to establish branch and sequel plans in this panel, segregated by command decision points that would automatically pause time would be ideal. Such predetermined plans would better permit the integration of reinforcing units in future plans, and should be able to be worked on by HQs with spare time during or between tasks to reduce subsequent orders delay (as is much of the point of such plans).

Ideally, I would like to be able to set detailes plans up at the beginning of scenarios up to a few days in length, and then to watch them play out without interruption.

Please feel free to tell me I've missed things or that my suggestions are bad.
 

Dave 'Arjuna' O'Connor

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Truism,

I agree with just about everything you raise here. A lot of what you want is predicated on certain game features which have been on our wish list for a long time - in particular sequential and concurrent tasking for a selected force. But alas this is a very small niche market and we don't generate the sales to employ a team of programmers. Essentially these last few years it's just been me full time and Pavlo part time on the programming side. My expertise is in AI not UI coding. Pavlo isn't a UI programmer either. We both do this for the love of it, alas. So we do need a good UI programmer to volunteer to join the team or some benefactor to fund employing some competent UI programmers. Then we could do some amazing things, like ditching the antiquated Microsoft Foundation Classes and build a modern independent UI. But in the meantime we chip away as best we can.
 

ioncore

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Does this mean that Command Ops will not convert to 3D maps unless or until you obtain a UI programmer?
Short answer is yes. We have roughly discussed some ideas and roadmap for potential 3D maps before, and this actually requires more than just UI to be reworked, but, yes, significant investments into UI must come first.
It doesn't mean we won't go that direction, though. 3D map is one of the very natural features you'd expect from a XXI-st century wargame.
 
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drewww

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I've noticed these challenges too, and these are great ideas for a solution. Totally get that the team is cash strapped but agree that these would be great priorities whenever there's spare cycles to work on them.

One intermediate option is to not treat these as actual editable UIs, but just start with them as visualizations so we can see what's going on better but still make plans using the existing UI. Maybe that's a more tractable place to start?
 

ioncore

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but just start with them as visualizations so we can see what's going on better but still make plans using the existing UI.

My personal opinion is that adding any new GUI features on top of existing GUI is a waste of effort. We can definitely do some engine updates (like sequential tasking, adding more elevation layers, better logistics - just name it), but with GUI I'd rather switch the life support off and start doing things from scratch.
But, anyway, so far we have to deliver at least these three things:
  • new patch (along with huge amount of bugfixes and improvements)
  • Bradley at Bay DLC(s)
  • Khalkhin-Gol DLC.
and that will keep us occupied for next few months I think. After that we could decide on the feature roadmap. Stay tuned :)
 

drewww

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Totally understand! I can see how a new GUI might help you reach a wider audience.

But I do genuinely think there's something special to be done with timelines and the ORBAT matrix. I've never seen that in a wargame, and I think it might be a way to capture the feeling of being a staff officer and operating at the right level of abstraction. It's also struck me how strange it is that the role you seem to be playing in wargames is perched so high on the command hierarchy, and yet you're occupied with giving direct orders way, way down the hierarchy. CO2 addresses so much of that so well, letting you pick your level of detail. But I think better planning and organizational tools would really cement that feeling of being a leader.
 
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Totally understand! I can see how a new GUI might help you reach a wider audience.

But I do genuinely think there's something special to be done with timelines and the ORBAT matrix. I've never seen that in a wargame, and I think it might be a way to capture the feeling of being a staff officer and operating at the right level of abstraction. It's also struck me how strange it is that the role you seem to be playing in wargames is perched so high on the command hierarchy, and yet you're occupied with giving direct orders way, way down the hierarchy. CO2 addresses so much of that so well, letting you pick your level of detail. But I think better planning and organizational tools would really cement that feeling of being a leader.
At least for the current scenarios, the tools exceed what a World War II-era commander would have had available to command a force.

It wasn't until the early 2000s that what you suggest was being developed for US Army field commanders.

As far as aligning the OOB according to task, you should look at the OOB structure toggle, which aligns the structure by either organic structure, op plan structure, or player structure. it's at the end of the display filters on the toolbar.

You have a point that the GUI makes it somewhat cumbersome to find the information, but it's there.
 

ioncore

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I think we all can agree, that, while CmdOps provides some way to visualize the plan, there is always a space for improvement. Also, I expect things to get worse if/when we add sequential tasking.
So there is a certain number of possible UI improvements to consider for CmdOps3 I'd say.
 

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