What are the limits on multiplayer scenarios?

Dr Zaius

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I know there are limits with making single player scenarios for TacOps due to the AI, but what about multiplayer missions? Can any kind of scenarios be made with these?
 

MajorH

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There are eight possible force/team colors in TacOps - Blue, Red, Green, Gray, Ivory, Orange, Gold, and Yellow. Each force color can be configured to be hostile or non hostile to each of the other colors. The umpire determines how many force colors will be in play when he designs a human vs human scenario. The umpire can also add or delete force colors once a game is underway just as he can add, delete, or reassign units to players and players to units.

The rmaximum number of participants allowed in the retail version of TacOps is one umpire and up to 19 players and or spectators. The group of players can be spread across any combination of force colors so long as any given player is only playing for one force color. Spectators are not assigned to any particular color. Spectators are allowed to view the battle without any fog of war.
 

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The basic nature of TacOps multiplayer teams mode is explained below. This info may help to visualize what would be involved in designing a human vs human or human vs umpire scenario.

Appendix K - Multiplayer Teams Network Mode (Shortened a bit from what is in the user guide)

1. Contents.

Summary.
Player Identification Number (PIN).
Game startup instructions for the Umpire.
Game startup instructions for Players.
Network Menu Items.
Miscellaneous Notes.

2. Summary.

Note: Additional useful information on CPX organization and umpire techniques can be found in Appendix I - Command Post Exercise Guide.

The multiplayer teams mode (MTM) of play allows more than two players to participate in the same game via the Internet or a LAN. The technical limit on the number of players is 20 in the retail version and 200 in the military version. The practical limit for satisfying Internet play is 10 to 15 players due to the inherent slowness of the Internet in comparison to a LAN. The practical limit for LAN play is an unknown number significantly greater than 50. At the time of this writing, 50 players on a LAN was the largest group that had been tried.

One participant must serve as a neutral umpire. The umpire must be the network host. The umpire can not usually be a game player because he has perfect situational awareness - the normal fog of war rules do not apply to the umpire.

The Multiplayer Teams mode was designed primarily for use by military professionals during the conduct of a Command Post Exercise (CPX). The setup and administration of a multiplayer teams game is more complex than the other modes of play and requires at least one exercise umpire.

An MTM game requires one umpire and two or more players. The umpire "hosts" the game on a dedicated exercise control computer. The players "join" the game via networked player computers. The umpire starts the game in host mode, creates and sets up all unit markers for all players on the umpire computer, and designates the ownership of each marker by assigning it a player identification number (PIN). As players join the game session, they will each be assigned a unique PIN which matches the PIN that has been assigned to their unit markers. Later each player will a receive the unit markers that carry his PIN from the umpire via a situation update. Immediately after the initial situation update, the players may or may not be able to change the starting position of their unit markers. After the issuance of the initial situation update, game play proceeds like any other TacOps mode with alternating orders and movement/combat phases.

The general flow of a typical MTM game turn is as follows. A turn consists of a simultaneous orders phase followed by a simultaneous movement and combat phase. During the orders phase, each player gives orders to the units, off map arty elements, and or air support sorties that he controls. When a player has finished giving orders he selects the Combat/Begin Combat menu item. This causes his computer to automatically send a ready signal to the umpire computer. Once the umpire has received a ready signal from every player, the umpire computer will automatically begin to obtain orders from all players. Once all orders have been received, the umpire computer will automatically combine them into an orders update and then transmit it back to all players. Once all players have received the orders update, the movement and combat phase will automatically start on their computers and on the umpire computer. Movement and combat will then be displayed more or less simultaneously on all computers. Players can not issue new orders to their units until the movement and combat phase has finished on all player computers. The menus on all player computers will be disabled until the last computer reports that it has finished the movement and combat phase. If the exercise network contains computers of varying capabilities, the older and slower computers will likely take significantly longer to complete the display of the movement and combat phase. When the movement and combat phase is completed on each computer, another ready signal is automatically sent to the umpire computer. Once the umpire computer senses that the movement and combat phase has been completed on all player computers, it will automatically authorize all players to begin a new orders phase by sending a signal to their computers that re-enables their menus. This cycle is then repeated for the duration of the exercise. The umpire has the option to alter this cycle somewhat. The umpire can use the Combat/Begin Combat w Options menu item to (1) force the immediate start and display of a movement and combat phase on all computers with or without first collecting orders from the players or (2) to start and display one or more movement and combat phases on just the umpire computer followed by the manual transmission of a situation update to all players.

3. Player Identification Number (PIN).

The ownership or command of game items (unit markers, off map arty elements, and air support sorties) is controlled by the assignment of a unique Player Identification Number (PIN) to each player and to each item. A player can not use or give orders to an item unless it carries his PIN. When a scenario is first loaded on the umpire computer all game items have a PIN of zero – all items at this time belong to the umpire.

The umpire’s PIN is always zero. The umpire must assign a unique PIN from 1 to 200 to each player. The umpire must also assign a PIN to each game item to indicate which player can control which item. A player can only control items of his same force color. Do not assign the same player PIN to items of different colors. The umpire PIN of zero can be assigned to items of different colors. Any unit marker, off map arty element, or air sortie - of any color - with a PIN of zero belongs to the umpire.

The umpire can transfer ownership of a unit marker from one player to another, within the same force color, at any time during a game. The umpire does this by changing the PIN assigned to the unit's marker. The umpire must then immediately send a situation update to all players in order for the change to actually take effect. Note that sending a situation update to all players will undo any new orders that they have given during the current orders phase. Therefore if units need to be reassigned, it is best to do so at the beginning of an orders phase before the players have begun giving new orders to their units.

The umpire normally uses items from the Network menu list to assign PINs to unit markers, off map arty elements, and air support sorties. The following menu items in the Network menu list can be used to set or change item PINs. It is important to remember that PIN changes will not appear on any computer other than the umpire computer until a situation update is sent to all players.

Network/Change PIN Listed Units.
Network/Change PIN Selected Units.
Network/Change PIN Off Map Artillery.
Network/Change PIN Air Support.

It is expected that the umpire will usually design a scenario from scratch using one of the custom scenario templates. The umpire will be able to assign PIN numbers easily to the unit markers as he adds them via the Options/Add Optional Units menu item or the "Options/Add One Unit" menu item. However, if one of the precompiled game scenarios is used there may be times when some units begin the game off map with a delayed entry time and thus are more difficult to assign PINs to. In this case an entry point selection window will appear during the first orders phase of the game for each group of units that have a delayed entry time. At this instant a PIN can be assigned to every unit in that group by typing a value into the Set Pin text box located in the upper right corner of that window and touching the return key.

4. Game startup instructions for the Umpire.

Start TacOps v4. When the startup window appears ...
Select the check box for "Multiplayer Teams - Network".
Select the check box for "Host Game".
Click the OK button.

Select a scenario or a custom scenario template and map .
Create and set up all unit markers on the map for all players and all force colors.
Preplan a PIN (and call sign if desired) for each player that will be joining the game. Observers do not need a PIN – the program will automatically assign a PIN of 201 to all observers.

Assign appropriate PINs from the above roster to all unit markers, off map artillery elements, and airstrike sorties. Any unit or element that retains the default PIN of zero will belong to the umpire. Except for zero, do not assign the same player PIN to items of different colors.

If team colors other than Blue and Red are to be used, the umpire must use the Options/Rules of Engagement menu item to set force wide Rules of Engagement for the additional teams. The default setting for the Blue and Red teams is that they will engage each other's markers at any opportunity but they will not engage the markers of other team colors unless attacked. The default setting for team colors other than Blue and Red is that they will not engage any other marker color unless attacked. The Options/Rules of Engagement menu item produces a window that allows these Rules of Engagement to be changed. This window presents a matrix of possible color X vs color Y interactions. If a given color vs color interaction button in the matrix is set to "Free Fire" then markers of the first color will engage markers of the second color at any opportunity. If a given color vs color interaction is set to "Self Defense" then markers of the first color will engage markers of the second color only after being attacked.

After setting the force wide Rules of Engagement, the umpire can choose to give different Rules of Engagement to individual unit markers. This is done by clicking on a unit marker so as to open its unit orders window and then clicking on the button in the window labeled "Rules of Engagement".

For safety, save the current situation as a saved game file now.

Select the Network/Log Onto Network menu item. When the logon window appears note that your LAN IP address is displayed in the small black box with green lettering in the upper right corner of the window. Record your address so that you can later provide it to the joining players [see important note below for Internet games]. They must use this address in order to join the game session that you are hosting. Enter the call sign that you want to use in the "Call Sign" box. Click the OK button.

[Note: The LAN IP address shown in the small black box with green lettering is probably not the same as your Internet IP address. If you are hosting an Internet game you must tell the players your Internet IP address and not your LAN IP address. You will need to discover your Internet IP address by some means outside of TacOps. LAN IP addresses usually begin with the number "192".]

If all goes well, you will see a message at the bottom of the screen that says "Listening for someone to join the TacOps network" – otherwise you will get an error window or error message.

Tell the remote players what your LAN IP address [or Internet IP address] is and tell them to try to join the game.

As each player tries to join the game, a joining alert window will appear on the umpire computer asking if it is OK to let the person join the game. If the joiner has picked the wrong force color, the wrong scenario or map, or any of several other possible errors these errors will be displayed in the joining window. If errors are shown, the umpire may need to immediately disconnect the joining player and then tell him to restart TacOps using the correct items.

The umpire must assign a game unique PIN to the joining player. There is a text entry box in the joining alert window for this purpose. The umpire will also be shown what force color (team) the joiner has chosen and his desired call sign. If these settings do not match the umpire's wishes then the umpire can unilaterally change them with buttons and controls in the joining window. Once all is in order then the umpire clicks the OK button to admit the joining player.

Once all players have successfully joined the game network the umpire must transmit a situation update to all players in order for them to receive their units and the current overall game situation. Select the Network/Send Situation Update To All menu item. This will automatically transmit a situation update to all players. The progress of the situation update will be displayed in the information line at the bottom of the map window. Any errors in the transmission will be reported with an error sound and either an alert window or a message in the information line. If the situation update is successful, the players can proceed to giving orders to their units. If the situation update fails, the umpire should take appropriate steps to correct the network problem.

5. Game startup instructions for Players.

Obtain the following information from the umpire: the scenario file name, the scenario map number if a custom scenario template is being used, the umpire's LAN IP address [or Internet IP address], your network call sign, and your team assignment (Blue through Yellow - or Observer). Determine how the umpire will later cue the players to begin trying to join the game network.

Start TacOps v4. When the startup window appears:
Select the check box for "Multiplayer Teams - Network"
Select the check box for "Join Game"
Click the OK button.

Select the scenario or custom scenario template and map specified by the umpire. A map will appear on your screen but there will be no units displayed.

When instructed to do so by the umpire, select the "Network/Log Onto Network" menu item. When the logon window appears, enter the umpire's LAN IP address [or Internet IP address] into the four tan colored boxes in the upper right corner of the window. Do not enter any periods - just enter the four number blocks that make up an IP address - one block in each box. Enter a call sign in the red text box below the IP address boxes. Select the check box for your umpire assigned team color (Blue through Yellow). Click the OK button.

If all goes well, you will see a message at the bottom of the screen that says that you have joined the TacOps network. If all does not go well you will get an error sound and an error message will be shown in the information line at the bottom of the TacOps map window.

Once all players have successfully joined the game network the umpire will transmit a situation update to all players. The progress of the situation update will be displayed in the information line at the bottom of the battle map. Any errors in the transmission will be reported with an error sound and either an alert window or in the information line. At the end of the situation update your units will appear on your map and you may begin giving orders to them.

6. Network Menu Items.

The following items in the Network Menu list perform the indicated functions.

"Network Status". This menu item will display a window listing the players who are currently logged onto the game network. The umpire can disconnect a player by selecting that player's call sign in the window list and then selecting the "Disconnect Selected Player" button. The umpire can send a situation update to just one player at a time by selecting that player's call sign in the window list and then selecting the "Send Situation Update to Selected Player" button. There are no routine uses for these features. They are provided to the umpire for use in undefined problem situations where they may seem applicable.

The network status window has not yet been coded for use as a full time network monitor. It can interfere with network communications. Do not leave the network status window open any longer than absolutely necessary. Do not try to use the network status window to monitor orders updates or situation updates.

"Umpire Controls Turns". If this item is check marked, the umpire must select the "Begin Combat" menu item on the umpire computer before each movement and combat phase can take place. If this item is not check marked then each movement and combat phase will be started automatically as soon as every remote player has selected the "Begin Combat" menu item on their computers.

"Automatic Turns". If this item is check marked, each movement and combat phase will be started automatically as soon as every remote player has selected the "Begin Combat" menu item on their computers. If this item is not check marked then the umpire must select the "Begin Combat" menu item on the umpire computer before each movement and combat phase can take place.

More Network Tools. This menu item will display a window containing the following items.

"Disable the menu bar on all remote computers". Check marking this button will send a signal to all remote computers that disables their menu bar to prevent the players from accessing menu items and giving orders to their units. Unchecking this button will send a signal to all remote computers to restore the players' access to game functions. This feature is useful for preventing players from inadvertently disrupting umpire midgame activities such as adding or deleting units, changing PIN assignments, working on network or computer problems, etc.

"Enable Umpire Tools menu item on all remote computers". Check marking this button will send a signal to all remote computers that enables the "Options/ Enable Umpire Tools" menu item. This menu item should normally be disabled on all computers except the umpire computer. Unchecking this button will send a signal to all remote computers to disable this menu item. This feature is useful for temporarily allowing players to instantly reposition their unit markers with the shift + click procedure that is otherwise normally available only during the setup turn.

"Send Combat Done message to all". This menu item will send a signal to all computers indicating that the movement and combat phase has ended for all players. This signal will also re-enable the disabled menu bar on the remote computers. This is useful for the occasional network error which leaves all players locked out of their computer. Otherwise there is no routine use for this feature. It is provided to the umpire for use in undefined problem situations where it may seem applicable.

"Send Sound To All". This menu item will cause all remote computers to play a loud attention gaining sound. There is no routine use for this feature. It is provided to the umpire for use in undefined problem situations where it may seem applicable.

7. Miscellaneous Notes.

It is possible in a multiplayer game to have team (friendly) fog-of-war in addition to the normal enemy fog-of-war. If friendly fog-of-war is enabled, a player will not be able to see a unit marker belonging to a teammate on his computer screen unless that marker is in a clear line of sight and within legal spotting distance of one of his own units. For example, Blue Player PIN 1 will not be able to see a unit marker that belongs to Blue Player PIN 2 unless that marker is legally spotted by one of Blue Player PIN 1's units. Friendly fog-of-war is controlled by a check box in the normal fog-of-war window. To enable or disable friendly fog-of-war, select the Options/Change Fog-Of-War menu item to open the Fog-of-War window and then mark or clear the check box in the lower left corner labeled "Enable friendly vs friendly fog-of-war".

The "Map/Hide Units W Different PIN" menu item will hide all unit markers that do not belong to the player on a given computer.

If the umpire uses any menu item in the Options menu, he should send a manual situation update to all players prior to allowing the execution of the next combat phase. Otherwise the changes made by the umpire may not be passed to all players.

If the umpire uses the Orders/Duplicate Units menu item, he should send a situation update to all players prior to allowing the execution of the next combat phase. Otherwise the duplicated units may not be passed to all players.

Currently there are five ways to execute an orders exchange and combat cycle in TacOps v4. Adroit use of these options can speed game play greatly. The umpire can choose to use any of these options at any time during a game.

1) Each player and the umpire selects the Combat/Begin Combat menu item to signal the host computer that he is finished giving orders. Once the umpire and all players have so signaled, the host computer automatically collects orders from each player, the host computer then rationalizes the individual player orders into a single orders update, and then the host computer automatically sends that orders update on to every player. The combat phase then executes automatically on all computers.

2) The umpire can choose to take himself out of the turn cycle by uncheck marking the Network/ Umpire Must Start Combat menu item. If this menu item is not check marked then orders exchange and the running of each movement and combat phase will be started automatically by the umpire computer as soon as every remote player has selected the Combat/Begin Combat menu item on their computers.

3) The umpire can use the Combat/Begin Combat With Options menu item to arbitrarily force the start of an automatic group orders exchange and combat cycle even if some or all of the players have not yet signaled that they have finished giving orders. The umpire can also direct the automatic execution of one to five combat phases after the group orders exchange by clicking on the cyclic control labeled "Length of Combat Phase".

4) The umpire can use the Combat/Begin Combat With Options menu item to arbitrarily start a combat phase on all computers without collecting orders from the players but still allow the players to view the execution of the combat phase on their computers. If this option is used, the host computer simply sends the master situation that is on the host computer to all players along with a signal to begin combat using only what is in that master situation.

5) The umpire can use the Combat/Begin Combat With Options menu item to run one or more combat phases just on the host computer without getting any data from the players and without sending any data to the players. In this case orders are not auto collected from the players, the master situation on the host computer is not auto sent to the players, and the combat phase is not auto executed on the player computers. Once the umpire has run however many turns that he wants, he must then manually transmit a situation update to the players before returning to the normal orders phase/combat phase cycle. CAUTION - failure to transmit the situation update prior to executing an automatic group orders exchange and combat cycle may seriously damage the game.
 

Dr Zaius

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Thanks for the information! I didn't expect such a detailed response, but that's great stuff. If I understand this correctly, players can make basically any scenario they want for multiplayer use, right? The only limit on creating scenarios is the AI for single player games?
 

MajorH

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Don Maddox said:
If I understand this correctly, players can make basically any scenario they want for multiplayer use, right? The only limit on creating scenarios is the AI for single player games?
That is correct.

They can also convert the factory provided solitaire scenarios to multiplayer teams use. Although the factory provided scenarios only have Blue and Red forces, additional force colors and units can be added to them if desired.
 

Redwolf

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Just two clarifications:

1) all these possibilities don't only apply to umpire-driven multiplayer, they also apply to two-player TCP and two-player PBEM, with the exception of more than two force colors.

2) pre-made single-player scenarios are slightly modifyable, you can exchange equipment for similar equipment and add additional units.

However, once you do that the AI has chosen one plan for the attack or defense, so if you want to play it multiple times you have to made the modificationf rom scratch. But it is perfectly doable to e.g. try out a German OOB, or do a 60ties scenario with AI play, or give Red U.S. equipment. Obviously, modifying the player-controlled forces leaves more room than changing the AI-controlled force, I don't think the AI gets confused by anthing you do to Blue.
 
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