Jagged Alliance Releases Feb, With Fog?

By Adam Smith on January 13th, 2012 at 9:29 am.

Thanks to the pestering of the community, this will all be covered in fog soon. Hurrah!

Edit: the fog of war info is conflicting and murky. Clarity is being sought.

If you read my earlier impressions of Jagged Alliance: Back In Action, you may have noticed that there was no release date listed. February 9th is the day the game will unlock on Steam and today, news comes that February 14th will see a US retail launch, with information on boxed versions in other territories to follow. Games in boxes! How quaint. Don’t leave though, because release dates are as nothing next to the news that fog of war may be present in the game.

Its lack was the biggest issue I had during my hands-on, diminishing the tension and exposing the artificial unintelligence quite horribly. Having been in a previous build, I’d been told that it may be re-inserted once more due to a strong community response, a move which I salute, while remaining slightly bemused as to why it was taken out in the first place. I’ll try to verify this as soon as possible and I’ll have more on how well it all works once the full version is in my grubby mitts.

Fog of war really could help to improve the game significantly. As I’ve said before, even if it is a form of smoke and mirrors to disguise the fact that enemies are simply waiting to be engaged, that can be enough of a distraction to make me believe in a wizard. Thankfully, I’m also small enough of brain to happily forget what was behind the curtain, even after I’ve seen a little chappie back there, cranking levers furiously to keep everything running.

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26 Comments »

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  1. Turin Turambar says:

    Yess yes yes! (/bison meme)… I hope the introduce visual indicator for sounds made by enemies, so you know there are people the other side of a wall.

    And I agree with your assessment, i think people would be shocked to see how bad was the AI in the original X-Com, for example. did the aliens have any other behavior apart from walking at random, and attacking straight at you?

  2. Turin Turambar says:

    Adam, what is your source for this news? In the official forum the admin says:

    JABIA is already feature locked. Nothing’s coming in, nothing is beeing cut anymore. If you have have read the FoW-Thread you’d know the reasons which lead to cutting FoW back in August.

  3. Svant says:

    Throwing in FoW this late might mean its poorly implemented and hard to balance if the difficulty is designed around you knowing where the enemies are. But FoW is still welcome!

    • sneetch says:

      According to a dev on their forums, It was in the game engine before but they removed it because “it was not fun at all”.

      “However let me explain why it wasn’t fun: The fog of war lead to dozens of trial and error situations which were not very funny. not knowing where an enemy is was kinda frustrating and the game paused all the way cause you’re facing yet another enemy. You couldn’t really use tactics but just move along and try to survive. It had nothing to do with deeper tactics and tricking out the AI but just fighting with some luck. In several testrounds with a lot of people it was decided to cut the fog of war.”

      Personally I think it sounds a lot more fun than seeing everyone at the start of the map and powering through most of it without pause. It depends on the implementation though.

      It’s post 3 in this thread.

      http://boards.jaggedalliance.com/index.php?/topic/306-is-going-fow-to-be-a-feature-of-back-in-action-yes-or-no/

    • Turin Turambar says:

      Yep, i read that thread, and what I understood is that the game wasn’t properly balanced/designed for FoW.

    • coldvvvave says:

      So, they thought ‘fog of war’ wasn’t fun and turn based wasn’t fun.

      Obviously, developers dislike Jagged Alliance 2.

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      Snidesworth says:

      Did the devs not consider that preparing your squad to react to the unexpected and unknown by watching all angles, covering each other as they advance and generally playing cautiously could be fun? How about enemies who can disappear behind cover and reappear elsewhere, or lie in ambush until you blunder into their trap? You’re robbed of a great deal of tension if you know where all the enemies are.

    • Svant says:

      Sneetch, agreed. Having fow or line of sight properly implemented makes tactics more important than knowing where every single enemy is doing all the time. I really dont understand his argumentation there…

      But the problem with most games FoW or LoS is that for some reason your guys only see 10-20 meters, which doesn’t really make any sense. If they had proper range of vision and other senses like hearing enemies and getting aproximate locations etc would not make locating enemies and using tactics to engage them that hard.

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      JiminyJickers says:

      Thanks Sneetch. Looks like they don’t want to put it in.

      Definitely a no-buy for me then. I don’t mind the pausable real time, but no fog of war is not good enough.

  4. NathanH says:

    “It hides bad AI” really is quite a weak justification for adding a tedious feature. Caring too much about the AI at all is probably a bad idea in games like this. It’s obvious that, say, the XCOM aliens are not being particularly bright even with fog of war, but that doesn’t really matter too much. The best case is usually to have bad AI and the odds stacked against you in other ways, because outwitting a superior force is quite good fun. I’d say that “good” AI in this genre is not AI that acts well, but AI that will always lose in a fair fight but can pose a threat in an unfair fight.

    I don’t much like fog of war and hidden maps in most cases. First, I don’t like it when good ideas are scuppered by the random existence of someone. Instead of two sets, “plans that are likely to work” and “plans that are unlikely to work” there is introduced a third set “plans that are likely to work only if some detail that you can’t be aware of is true”, and I tend not to like this set very much. Second, a lot of tactics to deal with the “day-to-day” challenge of fog of war are quite obvious to think of but quite tedious to implement. In XCOM, for instance, I can easily work out a sensible method of advancing, but this method requires a lot of busywork. Once I’ve worked out how to advance, which doesn’t take long and isn’t very hard, I don’t really want to go through the fuss of actually doing it. If I’ve identified a good strategy that is tedious to implement, I’ll look for more efficient ways to reach the same state, for instance by rushing forwards and reloading where necessary.

    • Gormongous says:

      If the Total War series has taught me anything, it’s that outwitting dumb opponents and overcoming impossible odds isn’t as much fun as I might think.

    • Alam says:

      I hate knowing precisely where everything and everyone is in a strategy game. Planning and dealing with the unexpected and unknowable adds another layer of strategy I enjoy, when properly implemented. Take high level Starcraft play – you can’t know what your opponent is doing all the time. This makes what scouting you can do and what you can guess very, very important. Yes, you might lose if you guess wrong. That’s a-okay with me.

      I do agree that scouting in a squad based game can be tedious. Surely there are ways to remedy this though – allowing characters to peak around corners instead of fully exposing themselves, giving players a decent LoS (no more missing guys because they are 21 tiles away from you instead of 20), scouting abilities and items, etc.

  5. coldvvvave says:

    Fog of war =/= Line of sight.

    • sneetch says:

      Well, in tactical computer games they’re usually very similar.

      In this game you know exactly where all the enemies are at the start of a map, where they are going, where they are looking and so on so you have complete visibility regardless of line of sight, which means there is no sense of uncertainty you have complete situational awareness, hence no fog of war.

      For example, you know there are two guys behind that container, one looking North East the other looking East, you know you can send your SMG gunner around the left side and catch them both unawares and he’ll be completely safe because the sniper in that tower is looking the other way. You can see all this despite the solid metal objects in the way.

  6. Vexing Vision says:

    That’s one way to fix the AI, I suppose.

  7. Pemptus says:

    Uh, slapping on a feature that drastically changes the entire gameplay right before releasing the game doesn’t exactly fill me with joy or confidence.

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    cairbre says:

    I hope this doesn’t turn into a sword of the stars II fiasco

  9. LXM says:

    Did this make anyone else go reinstall their copy of Silent Storm?

  10. UsF says:

    I posted the issue on the Publishers forum and got this response.

    http://forum.kalypsomedia.com/showthread.php?tid=13144

    I also added the question about fog of war vs line of sight, just to get a clarification on that.