To stack or not to stack (soldiers)

Respected Call of Combat addicts,

Hopefully you have all had a great start in the new year. Life isn't always easy, on the contrary sometimes... But life is what you make of it! Life can be fantastic. You, and only you, are in control :)

Ok, thats more than enough philosophical crap for an early sunday morning. Today I would like to dicuss game design with you guys. Wikipedia: "Game design is the game development process of designing the content and rules of a game in the pre-production stage and design of gameplay, environment, storyline, and characters during production stage." In other words: shaping the game concept!

Florian and myself are both 'new' to properly developing a game. We are learning immense amounts. One of the most crucial elements of developing a game is game design; the game concept; the actual game. Makes sense I guess eh? :)

For this exact reason the team has welcomed two very ambitious game designers: Martin and Antoine. They have been introduced in previous blog posts and in particular Martin, who has been around since the beginning, has posted stuff before. Its very likely that from now on you will find them publishing more blog posts about certain game design subjects or mixing in certain discussions. We have noticed that its not as easy as one might think to explain ALL OF THE AWESOMENESS related to Call of Combat to people who haven't played it for such a long time as most of us have, but we're trying :) And steadily people like Martin and Antoine are getting a very tight grip on what makes this game so goddamn great.

Anywho, today we would really like to pick your brain about an extremely important feature: stacking. I realise this might cause a little confusion, cause with stacking I dont mean bashing noobs! I mean stacking soldiers. The ability to place two or more soldiers on the exact same location. So for example: 10 soldiers behind the same tree or window. If you give it some thought, you will find that this had quite an impact on the gameplay: strategically and more... Now, there have been quite a few people in the past year that have told us: you cannot do this nowadays. It will look awfully weird, and its simply not realistic.

My question to you is.. What do you think? As far as we can think of there are merely two possibilities (with lots of options for possibility number 2 though):

1. Old school. Eventhough it might look weird and unrealistic, its crucial for the CoC gameplay and should remain as is.

2. Remove stacking. Soldiers cannot stand in the same place.

Options for removing stacking:
- Position soldiers shoulder-to-shoulder.
- Increase amount of cover: more windows, fatter trees, etc.
- Broader hallways etc.
- Automatic 'step-aside' animation for when several soldiers are moving in small spaced areas to prevent frustrating situations.

I expect, at least at first, that veteran players are probably leaning towards old school (as is kind of the case with the leash and button panel ;)). Hell, I went crazy when we discussed this for the first time. "You CANNOT remove stacking! CoC is not CoC without it! Not being able to stack your soldiers will change everything!". But I've thought about this a lot in the past months. And I've become much more open minded about it. Partly because, as most of us have experienced in CoCv1...., we simply need lots of, or least more than enough, players!! If the modern gamer conceives the game as weird-looking and unrealistic, we might have a problem.. Not being able to stack adds a whole new strategic & tactical dimension to the game. Positioning becomes even more important for example.

To stack or not to stack? A very important choice..
In our opinion, both options have their advantages and disadvantages. And, as with everything, it will need to be thoroughly tested.

Looking forward to your input!!

Many thanks and salute,



If you're going to remove stacking (which it seems you guys have the intention of) then I suggest making the soldiers have the ability to stand really close to eachother. Like an effect where if you put 2+ soldiers within 'x' distance from eachother they wont stack but simply stand shoulder to shoulder or assume a sort of battle formation like this;


Lol idk. But yeah it would technically be stacking except the soldiers aren't in the same exact position and they should have the same benefit of having the same hit-percentages.
Erik's picture

Thanks Heineken.

Allow me to just make one thing very clear though: we have by no means the intention to choose one or the other! Everything is still very possible regarding this matter ;)

And yep, I'm inclined to say the same thing. If we choose for no stacking shoulder-to-shoulder is a must.
Superjorma's picture

I quess you should keep the ability to stack soldiers. moving soldiers in a big game could become a pain in the arse if it wasn't possible. There would be some immature players purposely blocking other players' movements etc.
Alex's picture

Who said it's not being used lol.
Every MMO has characters stacked up.

You are looking at it the wrong way. The question is should you be able to walk through other players models?
Being able to walk through other players then standing in a queue to shoot round a corner looks retarded.

It's going to cause more path issues not having stacking practically.
Erik's picture

Yep, removing stacking is not just about positioning/soldier placement... It equally affects movement.

Which is why it would, if removing stacking turns out to be the best choice, require map design changes and potentially new animations such as an automatic step-aside animation. And whatever else can be thought of.. :)

In my opinion we should just keep the stacking. Please don't make it too complicated/annoying.
Degeling's picture

Well, if you remove stacking, it gets more tactical in the view of stress. If you put 4 people in one window, it's easy to stress em all. If you spread them over 4 windows, stress will be much harder to keep on with only one bar/mg. Remove stacking would result in a more realistic game, but the consequences of the tactical battle will be huge. I don't really have a preference, cause it will always be new with a new engine, but you don't only change design, you effect gameplay as well. It would be interesting to see such development, but it's a scary difference. For example: One window in FW parlor is normal. Imagine 4 there. The interesting nade battle would be gone, since you have other windows to cover, you'll need 2-3 people to fight all the windows at the same time. People would unstack, just to avoid stress and get naded while stacked, but taking it out of the games changes everything. It's a huge discussion. (Ofcourse you don't have to put 4 windows in FW parlor, I was just making a point :P)
Chemical Cut Throat's picture

Honesty I see how you guys might want to get rid of stacking in order to make the game more realistic but I think there would be a huge problem. What would happen when you play those big open games and there is limited amount of cover or windows? 30 some players with 4 soldiers each makes for Lot of models on the battlefield. Maps would have to be redesigned to accommodate this or a lot of players are just going to be laying on the ground. Also there is the learning curve, when I first started it was hard to grasp the idea of constantly moving 4 soldiers around the map and I found it easier to stack them all in the beginning and gradually send soldiers off as I got comfortable with the game. I just feel like removing stacking with extremely game altering and you should tread very carefully when doing this. It's your game though do what you guys feel is right I'm sure I'll still play no matter what.
UltimateGod's picture

One thing everyone needs to remember about V2 is that there are no more squares like a chess board to move to. you can move your soldiers in very small increments.
Also the terrain will have elevations in it which could theoretically give cover in the middle of the field where not tree, buildings, other objects exists. So cover in the game should be a lot more prevalent that before (hopefully).

I think we wont know the answer to this until we get some people in the game to test drive a battle. We should try it both ways and maybe give some videos to those that are not in the tests so they can see the results.

I am leaning toward no stacking, but as people have said "Children" can use that as a way to block people. which is kind of stupid in a game like COC where blocking people will most likely cause your team to lose.
Ryan's picture

I think it's pretty obvious just looking through the comments that the development team is leaning towards 'no stacking'. Personally, I like the idea of not being able to stack soldiers and I'm pretty interested in how you'll overcome the issues of unit collision and map real-estate.

As an aside, i think if it were left up to the community to make these kind of decisions we'd have been using scroll bars to change of POV in CoC.
nick's picture

With a tile system, I would say you need to keep stacking. But without tiles, most of the movement-blocking issues shouldn't be a problem (although you might want larger DZs than the old game). Getting rid of stacking will have the effect of preventing defenders from putting a whole bunch of soldiers on the same piece of cover, forcing them to be more spread out. I think this will make battles a lot more interesting, though.
dude's picture

I think that being able to stack (while unrealistic) adds another aspect to the game. Questions like "Should I put 2 men on that corner or will 1 be alright?" add an entirely different level of complexity. It also make stress so much more of a factor.

Just going to spitball two ideas I have.

1.) If you stack two people behind a wall one of them shoots until he is stressed or needs to reload (not sure if this is going to be a factor but I would absolutely love to see it), then they would switch places.

2.) maybe if two people are stacked behind one piece of cover make them assume different positions? (Crouching, standing or lying down)
Tyler's picture

Stacking is such a fundamental game mechanic, it would be tough for me to see it go. As far as popular MMOs are concerned, whether or not stacking is permitted seems to be less a matter of realism and more one of logistic necessity. (Plus, a fully-realistic CoC wouldn't have nade wars, and that would be a shame!) I'll admit though I'm feeling a bit nostalgic, so my opinion is pretty biased. At least you guys are conscious of the impact of stacking/creative solutions around it, so I'm sure whatever you decide will stay true to the core feel of the game.
BlitzEY's picture

I personally always thought stacking was just a part of CoC and it would feel very weird without it. I understand that you are hesitant to see it go due to it being so integral in V1.

However, I believe that if you want the game to succeed, then changes need to be made. If it can implemented properly then no stacking would be fine. Having two guys shoot out of a window at angles would be fine, but four of them stacked does look unusual to someone who hasn't played CoC before.

As much as we all loved CoC V1, and everything that came with it, no stacking has my vote.
Reese's picture

Keep stacking. Add accuracy and fire speed penalty for the more soldiers stacked together. Just like in real life(kinda).
Colosuss's picture

I believe stacking is still used on most games today and it won´t be an issue to get more players. Whenever they don´t have this ability, they have maps where there is cover almost everywhere. Beyond that, I can remember those lovely moments when you were able to nade a 6 soldier stack.. just awsome. In my opinion STACKING IS AN ESSENCIAL PART OF THE GAME AND IT SHOULN´T BE REMOVED.

On the other hand, If the decision is to eliminate stacking, I would suggest at least being able to walk through other players to avoid some as---oles frustrating other players movement. And still, I would suggest to permit a maximum number of soldiers per firing spot. At least one squad. That way you can still use that strategic part of the game where you gather up firepower in some spots.

Im just saying that stacking was totally necessary when you were just defending rushes from windows or trees. Otherwise it will be undefendable in those situations. I believe that if you eliminate this feature, you´ll be driving away to the COC strategy proposal.
UltimateGod's picture

I do like those 10 person stack nades :P
I will say stacking was necessary in V1 because of how things worked. But if we implement the classes in a nice way and things like the MG provide stress(not snipes) and snipes snipe, and rifles semi snipe/semi stress. defending a rush should come down to what classes you have in place more than number of people. of course this is to a point.

These posts here gives me some Ideas that we will have to talk about/try as we move along in development.
I'm definitely into trying new ideas, no matter how crazy :)

I will say though, the way the game movement works right now. a tree has 360 positions (at a minimum), minus the shoulder width of the other soldiers on the tree if any.
Notorious's picture

keep stacking plz
R088T's picture

IMO, stacking is a must. The question is how to represent it in the graphics.
On the other hand, the fact you could have 40 soldiers cover firing from 1 tree is problematic. 1 solution, each piece of cover can allow many to take cover but only a few fire positions...or 2, make stacking an unwise decision for a player to make..whatever yall do,i see stacking in the final cut of the game. I may post some sketches for ideas about unlimited cover but limited firing spots
sbfsbf's picture

I definitely agree that being able to put more than one gun in a window is a must, but would this be more a question of map design? Making different sizes of windows, some being only big enough for one soldier, others being a very large storefront, or similar.

Maybe you're on to something with the limited fire positions, in that it can be a sort of nuanced way of looking at stacking. Certain obstacles might only have a certain amount of places a soldier can fire from, like say the left and right side of a tree. When both are taken, you can't stack any further into that same area until one moves or dies.

With the proposed elevations added to the game, this may be more a question of "firing from cover" versus "hiding in defilade." Being behind a low wall or in an artillery crater will provide an excellent spot to hide, regroup from battle stress, but only a few spots would actually provide real cover to fire from. Several soldiers can hide in the same place, but with room for only a few to pop their head out and shoot.
Dyer's picture

For example if u had a soldier on a one block tree he could go to either side so I say we work it like that just let 2 soldier In one block aside from corners but allow player to move through other just not rest on same square should fix most problems so far u could also put in an animation for soldiers walking around other 0.0 if that works with unity I'm not sure but give it a thought
vonkali's picture

I guess my opinion stacks with dude´s opinion, at least partially.

What is at stake here is the playability/undefined awesomeness of the game. Stacking is unrealistic visually but It works great orchestrating strategys and stressing enemys. This issue comes down to what you guys are really looking for. Making the game visually realistic may atract more players at first, like a dumb blonde, but a nade stacking prize is something that will only be appreciated by skilled players, like a thick glass librarian with great legs =)

Comparisons appart, even with small increment moves, there is surelly an optimal cover position so if you really must try a non-stacking solution then IMHO a small incerement spot should have a max of 3 soldiers, one in each stance (lying down, crouching and standing). Adjacent increments should be contaminated by the cover (say -50% 1 increment away from full cover - 75% 2 increments away). Nade stacks would still happend but at least you can count how many are shooting at you, on one hand, and think before you send 400 soldiers to the same spot on the other (allthough rushing relies mostly on this feature).

So here´s my 2 cents worth opinion. Keep up the good work and dont let it stack too much. =)
hotwheel300's picture

I don't really care if there's stacking or not. But I DO care about the amount of C.o.C v2 players, which I think C.o.C v1 didn't have enough of. Which means I want what the majority wants. That means(by looking at the comments) i'd say KEEP STACKING.
Erik's picture

Thanks for all the input everyone!! Very useful and appreciated.

To stack or not to stack.. A great challenge that lies ahead of us all ;)

In my personal opinion being able to stack soldiers is a gameplay mechanic that works perfectly. Stacking affects a lot of crucial gameplay elements such as: nade battles, movement (hallways, funnels), soldier placement, moving into cover, high density situations, etc.

Whether it is not accepted by a 'wider audience', or cannot look good enough art-wise, must be carefully researched and tested. Also the other option, removing stacking, has to be carefully tested and analyzed.

Call of Combat is a fantastic game with great gameplay. Which I personally enjoyed a lot for more than 10 years :) Whatever is chosen, the new version needs to be at least just as fun to play. Because thats the core.

Finster's picture

i'm going to go with not stacking, because with stacking people can just place soldiers on top of one another and stand in one position not really having to think strategically which i think is the whole aspect of this game. If you are forced to find a new or better position this will open the game play entirely. People would have to be more aware of where they send soldiers it would also stop people getting lasy and all there soldiers getting naded or killed at once. In my opinion there are so much more benefits from not stacking than being able to stack. In games such as this you should not be able to stack pathing should be part of the game play such as league of legends/Dota. Knowing the pathing of your character should reward players and those who don't should be punished. Thats my opinion, i'm not bothered either way just make the game XD

Games with large population in one area have stacking, games with not so much population don't have stacking. World of Warcraft has stacking because so many people can be in any one place at any one time. League does not because being "blocked" adds strategy slowing players down when getting to certain places. I think honestly, don't allow stacking. Look at league of legends its one of the biggest games out there. Its so basic, but it looks great and plays great. You cant really be thinking about the old CoC the people here all used to play coc and people dnt like change so obviously they will want stacking. Look what happened to the old coc. I play with a competitive mind.

Say ing this I've played games in there prime and watched them die all because the developers don't give what the community want, but can we really afford to listen to 20+ people its hardly enough to determine how a game should be played. CoC has the potential to be the next league of legends. This is the kind of game people want now. Free to play, easy to pick up. life time to master.
KingLeonidas's picture

How much of the old CoC do we really have left in this new version? If you ever want Leroy Brown to come back, we must have the ability to stack nade all of his soldiers early game when he is playing poker. Stack nading and stack sniping on the border during a rush offensively or defensively made the game what it was, special and unique. I suggest don't fall too far from the apple tree....
WarBoss's picture

Its a new game you are doing guys.

The soldiers should be like... a tree that moves (hehe, kind of)
I mean, if the bullet is coming my way and someone gets in the way, then he will get it for me, right? If a have a team made in front of my soldier, i should not be able to fire at a enemy, at least not if there was a chance of hitting my team mate.

I believe that, this new game can use a lot from Call, and even more from Chain. But not the stacking. In old Chain, each tile represented a 4 meter square, and i believe this is the reason for having the stacking ability.

I think that a soldier that is running and hits another soldier should push him back a little. That's what really happens right?

I would bring this game to a real "ww2 close combat simulator"

Anyway, you guys have to decide it, and my vote goes for the 'NO'
IronButterfly's picture

This may be unpopular to vets, but you guys really need to focus on what will ensure this game's success and I think you will find that what makes v2 successful will be a major deviation from the previous game. The last model failed twice. One could argue that 2am's version of Chain failed because of bad management by 2am, and Call v1 failed because of poor marketing efforts/lack of resources. But when all is said and done, the # of vets that are sticking around is not large enough for you to base any decisions on what they prefer. I think anyone who sticks around from the old game (Chain or Call) will play it no matter what changes you make. Honestly I don't think we play because of the amazing gameplay. Just make the game that you think will attract the audience that will drive your future success the most. If you cater to a group of 100 vets (and I'm being generous), you'll have a nice little tribute game that lasts for a few months while we all get to feel nostalgic then move on to our PS4's and Xbox Ones.

I know you guys care a lot about the players because you are players yourselves, but start thinking like developers and what is going to make you the most successful. It's time to start being selfish and make YOUR game, not ours.
Costas's picture

..if it ain't broken don't fix it! For anyone that has been around this long in this game and with this amount of time involved (and we know there is a few of us here) stacking was NEVER a negative issue. As many people said above, it was an essential part of the mechanics that allowed advanced strategic planning and gameplay. Think of all the people in FF as Axis that would rush to the outer corner of SH to get the first snipe towards reaped fields and farwall attackers.
IMO you are worried that this will alienate you from the new gamers you wish to attract. I think you got this backwards. It's this kind of gameplay that allowed a 15 year old game to be able to evolve to a 3rd generation version now (if you include the original 2am game).
If you try to come closer to the massively produced game, then you are a drop in the ocean and you set yourself up for failure allowing players to compare you to huge enterprises with millions of dollars invested in every game they release. YOU HAVE TO BE DIFFERENT. Don't be afraid of it, embrace it like Burster :)
Costas's picture

Because the graphics were as a major fact not appealing (amongst other things). There was never any marketing aspect to the game and the support was not there...anyone that tried to be the head of stuff started off with hope and dreams and ended up admitting that Kading was totally absent and unwilling to support the game properly in a nutshell.
The strategy and gameplay aspect was what allowed this game to go on for so long. Stacking was part of the core gameplay.
Finster's picture

i'm going to play the game no matter what the out come. As for graphics and looks, as long as the game play is solid, fair and fun it will be a GREAT! game. Graphics and looks can come later when you get the population and income.
roaddog's picture

I would say leave stacking as there will be a limited amount of cover in the game. If you can't stack some players will just have to stand behind a wall out of combat.
Triggydor's picture

Stacking is vital to gameplay! Maybe I need all of my soldiers lined up on a corner? Not too mention when looking through a window, stacking seems super important.
Rapidkiller's picture

This is version 2, not version 1b. New movement system with no tiles, new leashing, new maps, new soldiers, and yes, I'm all for no stacking. I think you should still be able to sort of stack 2-3 soldiers on like a wall corner, eg. 1 standing and peeking, 1 lying down and 1 kneeling and peeking. 1 on each side of a window, stuff like that. I'm sure that's very difficult to program, but in the direction you're moving it seems everything will be a lot more complex than v1.

Good luck!

ps. yes to new everything but i still want my dam control panel :P
WarBoss's picture

If the game is different, it will make the difference


I agree, go for innovation!
Make the soldiers stumble in eachother legs if they are all running in a bunch :-) and then fell down and drop the weapons...
JoNrR's picture

UsefulIdiot's picture

I see the difficulty of this issue but from my perspective being able to stack, in addition to possibly looking weird, causes other unintended behaviors. For example, if you’re advancing on a corner and a squad is stacked up on it which member of the squad gets stressed? Do they all get stressed evenly?

If they do get stressed evenly then you’re pretty much lost the advantage of stacking in any given location anyway. Is the stress divided by the number of players on the corner?

One solution might be to allow soldiers to build their own cover via digging a foxhole. Maybe it takes so many seconds and provides less cover than some other positions? I dunno, but I could see taking away stacking making rushes when attacking much easier and there would need to be some counter-balance to that.
Severus's picture

Actually, I would prefer non-stack, partly because it gave huge advantages to have all your soldiers stacked up easily sniping every poor soldier showing up around the corner. I would prefer to see more players actually spread out their soldiers strategically. Also, I wouldn't like having four guys in me. Maybe, I haven't really tried.
Loco64's picture

Have them stack. Who really cares if they do or not. You mention it being not realistic but honestly, it's a game. Besides stacking is good for strategic and yes it could be a pain, but also you can stress out a whole team and the GREATEST thing about it is that sweet nade you get off on those who are stacked!
Erik's picture

Hey everyone,

Very, very interesting to read so many different opinions and thoughts on this, thanks.
To me the variety in opinions confirms the importance and complexity of this particular game mechanic/discussion.

How do we go from here:

1. Based on your input, we will create an overview of all pros and cons for each option
2. This overview will be used for internal discussion.
3. The discussion will result in several options to be tested (in this case probably all of them)
4. Testing will be done internally, but as we proceed also externally (think of Alpha testing, open/closed beta testing etc.).

I think many of you might have questions about testing. Such as "Can I help testing?" "When will testing start?" etc. etc. Unfortunately we are still developing the test plan, so we cannot say anything useful about that right now.. Will of course let you know ASAP! What I can say is this: we will be needing your help with testing at some point :)

Erik's picture

Ps. Small announcement:

Hyperlinks still dont work. FML. Have fun copy/pasting :P
WarBoss's picture

there are other options for german flag, either than the swastica...
Erik's picture

Yep. The swastika is probably not the best choice ;) There are many other possibilities such as the Wehrmacht sign.
Costas's picture

Wasn't the swastika the most prominent sign both on flags and pretty much everywhere else for Germany during the WWII? If indeed it were, I don't think it's offensive to use it as part of a game inspired by true WWII events. Maybe it's just me, but I try to see if things are true to the history in this case rather than what they might represent today politically or otherwise.
That been said, it is widely considered an offensive symbol and if it does offend people in the game it's better not to use it, but I think most people will either won't care or they won't find it offensive for the purpose that it serves in the game.
UltimateGod's picture

I believe the Swastika was the national flag of Germany during WWII. So it is accurate for that to be the flag. I do not think the other flags were official?
Alex's picture

The nazi flag was the official national flag for ww2 however don't forget there are legal restrictions in regards to its display because it's now associated with anti-semitism.

My recommendation would be use the Wehrmacht flag as it's commonly used for these types of games. It's just a flag and there's no advantage to having a nazi flag, as this isn't a historical simulation. This is a really minor thing and would've thought a no brainer.

WarBoss's picture

Humm... copy-paste??;=pt-PT&biw;=1138&bih;=553&tbm;=isch&tbnid;=5MaIuKZl9Ws-cM%3A&imgrefurl;;=BqNY-SpNDx96CM&imgurl;;=800&h;=557&ei;=yYPhUofCKMWO7AbW0IHQBw&zoom;=1&ved;=0CIwBEIQcMC04ZA&iact;=rc&dur;=1487&page;=11&ndsp;=15