The leash!

Salute Soldiers,

We have something very interesting and equally important to discuss today; the squad leash.
The squad leash is the allowed distance between a player's soldiers. In other words: how far is a squad allowed to spread out?

In both chain and call we have always played with a fixed hard leash. Meaning that soldiers were allowed to spread out, but only up to a certain distance. When the maximum distance was reached a soldier could not move further away from the rest of his squad. Now the question is, do we want to keep it this way? We have come up with several options, but which option is the best? :) We would love to hear if you guys can think of any other options. And what you think about the ones we have come up with.

The options:

1. Hard leash. The 'old skool' way. Soldiers cannot spread out more than a certain distance.

2. Flexible leash. Soldiers can spread out (in principle to wherever on the map they would like to). But the further away they get from the rest of their squad, the more certain abilities will be downgraded. Abilities such as their stress level, fire rate, accuracy and their response time to orders they receive.

3. No leash. Soldiers can move freely over the entire map. Where the rest of their squad is, does not matter. There are no consequences such as an increased stress level, etc.

What do you guys think?




Locust's picture

I'm just going to note: how annoying was it when egg-heads sent a player to each corner of the map by cheat?
Leash em, and make sure that a trick like that can't be done again, sooooo annoying!

That's the one bad memory, oh and Shiva in general.
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

It wasn't annoying, it was very clever. I had it done to me a couple of times and was impressed with the opponent who did it. They were, afterwards, very kind enough to show me how to do it and subsequently I started doing it to others.

Stretching your shoulders around the map was a fantastic tactic and often worked.

I think the flexible leash would be absolutely perfect. Of course - the further away you are from your own squad the higher the risk the soldier will feel isolated, alone, even afraid - so this should be simulated through stress levels.
Florian's picture

Sound sensible. But is stress really the best way to model the fear and confusion of being isolated from your squadmates? I have this feeling it would require something a bit more subtle, like a morale system of some sorts, to really work.
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

That would be an excellent function, Florian, definitely.

Diminishing morale would certainly simulate the fear and feeling of isolation much better. Slower reaction times, aiming a little off etc; you can almost imagine a lone soldier behind a wall surrounded by enemies with no friendlies behind trying to load his gun with shakey hands.

If a morale system is to be built in what do you think in the way of adding a 'surrender' or 'withdraw' action that automatically triggers when morale hits a certain low level.

Morale at 25% the soldier turns and flees away from the enemy and the player loses control over him until the soldier has recovered. Say the system makes them automatically flee back an X distance into cover, they stay uncommandable for 15 seconds.

Morale at 0%-10% the soldier fully surrenders and is out of the game.

Just a couple of interesting thoughts that would be interesting to see implemented, as a player of RTS games such as Empire: Total War etc that has this type of morale system.

Thanks for the reply and for reading my thoughts I appreciate that!
hotwheel300's picture

I think I'd like a leash, ^^^Because of that guy's thought^^^ and because I think it would be less confusing, and I don't like the idea where the stress, rate of fire, and accuracy go down the further they are away from eachother.
Russian's picture

Definitely leash, makes the game more strategic as you have to decide how to manuever your soldiers as opposed to just going wherever you want. Plus it makes it more realistic as squads usually have to stick together. Or maybe make it a toggleable option, so some games you can disable it if you want.
Phil's picture

Of course this is all new so may not apply but losing a soldier was also a possible issue against free roam. Especially for newer players.

Map scrolling/views may negate that issue though, depending on the implementation. Also there was the option to centre view on each soldier in the old CP that could help relocate a guy.
Florian's picture

Yeah, we will still have the option to center the view on a particular soldier. But despite that I really think you are making a very good point with regard to new players perhaps 'losing track of a soldier', especially in the heat of battle. With a hard leash this could cause frustration, while with a soft leash you could more easily use some interface elements to point out a soldier is getting outside of range (e.g. soldier avatar changing color).
Avian's picture

My experience was that it was more of a limiting factor than an enhancing one. I doubt that most players would change their style of play if leashes are removed/made more flexible, because staying together is generally the superior strategy - I think that if players choose the generally inferior strategy of splitting up, punishing them further by restricting movement only makes things worse rather than better.

It's inherently harder to play when you're all spread out. Usually the reason your soldiers are all over the place is because you actually are doing things in many places at the same time, and it's definitely harder to be multitasking over a wider area, nevermind the fact that your soldiers are less able to support each other and you're possibly outnumbered at each conflict zone. To me, this in itself is a fair penalty for spreading too far out, and there's no need for extra punishment.

I'm also unconvinced that leashes unambiguously make the game more strategic just because you have to cope with the limited space range. I think that it's more of a trade-off: sure, you have to handle your own limitation, but you don't have to handle all the extra movement that your opponents could have had if they weren't leashed. Also, any limitation on your movement is going to limit the strategies you can employ.

For all that, there probably does need to be some kind of technique to prevent people running to all 4 corners, etc. In all honesty though, I would just make that a bannable offence. I think that if some form of leash is implemented, it would be nice if it were implemented better - maybe showing the actual area that you're limited to, or allowing some kind of flexibility in some way.

I'm of the opinion that you really want as little regulation/intervention as possible though - unless there's a really good reason to have a rule, you shouldn't have it. It just gets in the way and there are almost always going to be times where you'd think a rule shouldn't apply.
oriole's picture

old school
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

I think the flexible leash would be absolutely perfect. Of course - the further away you are from your own squad the higher the risk the soldier will feel isolated, alone, even afraid - so this should be simulated through stress levels.
Severus's picture

Flexible leash. A squad should keep together, but it might feel limited with old school leash.
sawreese's picture

I don't see the argument against not having a leash. Basically, people are saying that leashes make finishing a game easier for them.. and that's about it. Personally, I like the idea of looking for that lone man on the run after a fight. Makes things more interesting, but that's just me.

I don't see a reason to have a leash, but I also don't see a reason not to. So, I vote either you have a reasonably large leash so players can still deploy units tactically over most of the map, or just don't have a leash at all. I am 100% AGAINST the flexible leash.

Sending a soldier to aid an ally on the other side of the battlefield should not penalize you. It's tactics. Having one of your riflemen split off to search for enemy snipers is risky enough without him being weaker and more vulnerable than normal. I'd feel more stressed in a huge battle than in a 1 on 1 or 1 on 2 situation anyway. A flexible leash just means everyone is going to stay together, effectively turning into one unit with a lot of hitpoints. That's not why I played, and will play, this game. It's not just about close quarters strategy, it's about how each side mobilizes over the entirety of the map. You're turning a squad of units into a blob on the map, and really cutting down the effectiveness of squads with more soldiers in them, while making the life of a sniper or other long range team much more comfortable.

Lastly, if there will be a leash, it would be great if there was an indicator which showed the maximum distance each unit can travel. Still, realistically speaking, I'm voting for no leash. In a 1v1 or 2v2 fight, I can see why you'd want a leash, it's convenient. In a 5v5 or larger though, you can pull off a lot of amazing tactics by having each member of your team send one guy to a corner of the map,then wait for the right time to strike. Hell, even in 1v1 I've had some amazing comebacks using just one guy with something to prove. Coming at the enemy from the opposite direction is a great tactic that should not be penalized. And yes, I know you can still do that with a leash, but it makes it a lot harder to do it without being seen.

*Edit: The only aspect of the flexible leash I might be for would be delayed orders, but still I'm more against it than for it.*
silentassasin's picture

I think the Leash definitely works the best because everything is more controlled. So in my opinion I am for the Leash!
Love_your_neighbor's picture

I like the old school way because I'm already comfortable doing it that way. Stress is already part of the game so if you do change it I would want no leash for certain classes and flexible for others. Realistically a sniper class wouldn't get stressed as easy as the others. All in all I like what I'm reading. I'm confident that whatever you chose will be a fun challenge to learn the strategies involved to make your TEAM successful. Can't wait to start playing again.
eragonarya's picture

I've read all the comments so far (top 12), and it seems a few want's no leash while the rest want at least some leash implemented. I started thinking, maybe we can have a no leash option or have it made to custom with each map possibly? If there is no leash, it could go into a near ally presence type of thing. Like one of the other commenters had said, it's tactful to send a riflemen to help out another squad. In that case, they wouldn't be penalized for splitting from the group but when a single soldier is hiding in a bush, their stress starts to rise up.

I'm not sure how well it would work out but I think this could be a pretty good option maybe.
Erik's picture

Thanks for your replies guys. It is good to see some people on the blog again and even better to hear your thoughts about the leash.

The variety in your answers shows what an interesting subject this is :) So far most of you seem to prefer the old school way, some prefer the flexible leash and some prefer no leash. A few comments:

- A toggable (game-mode, map-, or class-dependent) leash. This is definitely an option. What I like about this is the fact that we can implement various versions of the leash (including having no leash). Which of course means that we can test the various versions and see which one is really liked the best by players (this could be more than one version ofc.). The downside is that it might create some confusion.A managable issue of course.

- Testing the various leash versions in Beta. A plausible option of course.

- A leash indicator. We have thought of this as well. But we have to think very carefully about how we want to show this indicator. From a design perspective it might prove difficult to show the indicator without it being too intrusive. The indicator should be toggable as well imo.
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

In general internet users do not like change, they will always hate change, they want everything to stay the same because it's within their comfort zone and it's what they know.

So it's predictable the majority would want "old school" - but we must remember that CoC closed down and is being re-made BECAUSE "old school" was... old. Outdated. No new users.

Change is inevitable. So yes, a flexible leash would be the most logical choice I feel because it'd be different and modern to help attract those vital new users, but also it's STILL some sort of leash which will help ease the "oldies" back into the game with familiarity.

Win/win for both sides.
Severus's picture

Agree. A game's success is of course dependent on the number of players actively playing it. It is very difficult for a game to recover if it loses a lot of active players.
Restoration and a new version of Call of Combat will attract many players on launch day, leading to a continued strong activity again.

Just keep it old school ! :)
dude's picture

I Iike the idea of the leash because I do not believe it limits the game at all, in fact I believe it enhances it. I like the fact that you could sort of fool the system and make one of your men go further then the leash to flank someone, but that has its own risks and rewards as well. You can get the chance to sneak up on an unsuspecting enemy, but in return you have a lack of options when it comes to movement.
dooiefries's picture

Old leash
1 no leash will allow maximum trolling in open games
2 no leash will allow players to cover all possible rush sides. They can snipe with half their squad while the other half either flanks or backs them up. This removes one of the core strategic elements of the game.
3 no leash is unrealistic. the idea of the game is still to be squad based, isnt it?
sawreese's picture

I can agree with the first point, but time limits in games would solve that problem for the most part. If you're winning and the enemy is running, just go on defense and let them come to you.

Rushing all sides is tactics. Even in the old version I would send my units to flank the enemy, have one guy snipe, and another on backup duty. I fail to see how any strategy is removed by not having a leash, especially with new classes. If your rifleman is just sniping in the back, he's going to get outranged and outgunned by the sniper and machine gun classes. It's your loss. Assault, rifle, and scouts would be the only classes that could possibly benefit from splitting up 99% of the time. None of them are effective snipers. They'd only do it for recon, scouting, and flanking.

I also disagree with it being unrealistic. In real combat, squads have the option of spreading out... that's the advantage of having more men in a squad. Spreading out your squad already increases the chances of them getting killed. They have no backup, less vision, and will probably get flanked or sniped. It is still better to keep your units in a tight squad most of the time.

My one issue with the old leash wasn't so much the distance units could move, but the setup of the maps. Wide flanking was more or less impossible in most situations. That used to be ok, but I don't think people realize how the new classes will affect gameplay (of course I'm not sure either, but I have a rough idea by the descriptions). The assault and rifle classes are very similar, the main difference is the extra man. Without extended leash range, the rifleman will become nothing more than a meat shield. No one wants to be a meat shield. Games will become static, with less movement and more sniping (the exception would be more urban maps). I'm not sure how the squad type selection works, but it looks like riflemen get the shaft here. Less people will want to play them, and those who have the role will be greatly under-appreciated.

I also like the leash toggle option.
vonkali's picture

Hi guys!

Glad to know you KA+VA are working on the subject.

I am sympathetic with most remarks posted so far, since I have had both experiences: either trying to get "eyes"by sending a scout which can't go very far, or trying to flank with half the team, which never works very well; but also having "smart" enemies who figure a way to spread the men beyond what is intended by the game designers.
Either way, it was always possible to send a man to a point within the leach, having to travel a path outside the leach. This was risky because it made the run command to the other men almost inoperative, which didn't make much sense to me.

So here is my idea:
Flexible leach but, instead of degraded capabilities, have a command range. If a soldier is further away than x squares from his platoon (or another soldier, or his platoon leader, which would be another idea), no orders can be sent to him. "eyes" would still be available but somehow degraded. He can only be given orders if the platoon (or another soldier, or his platoon leader) gets within command range. Note that this would allow for a 2-2 split with full command and eyes capabilities which would make for more interesting strategy, imho.

If you think this is rubbish, then I vote for flexible leach.
Keep up the good work.
Erik's picture

Terrible idea Von, as always :P

It would make the soldier completely uncontrollable until someone else gets close. Thats not desirable and will lead to lots of frustratoin imo.

Florian's picture

I agree with Erik that losing complete control is perhaps too drastic, but I like the idea of a command range. And how going outside of the command range would impact the speed at which soldiers respond to commands.
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

Yes definitely! As touched on in comments above, the further away from command range = lower levels of morale.

The further away from their commanding officer the more mistakes the soldier is prone too and their effenciency suffers slightly.

I really like the idea of a soldier fleeing from where he is if morale levels hit too low as that'd add to the dynamic and strategy. If you stretch your soldiers you'd have to make sure they have a clear path of withdrawal or make sure they aren't going to be stuck in that spot without backup for long
Costas's picture

In order to make a fair argument, we have to decide what using the leash results to:
1. better control of your squad in a zoomed-in map; necessary for fighting rather than camp and snipe from a distance
2. gives a better understanding where the opponent teams are and WHEN they are dead; very crucial and important
3. related to previous comment, you can't have people hide one soldier at the end of the game to survive if they are losing
4. impedes the ability to have a defense line and be able to flank your attackers at the same time; would negate strategy
5. allows "smarter" setups so you can have eyes on flanks, yet still allows the enemy to outmanoeuvre you
6. obliges the team leader to use tactical setups for subs in order to better use their eyes for either flanking or watching out for a flank
7. makes team work and communications crucial, since you rely on your team for watching your back or spotting the enemy; without it, you might as well have 1vs1 AG games, if you can cover the whole map with 1 team
8. it's old school, and in all the years since the original CoC, the leash was never an issue, in other words, if it ain't broken don't fix it
Kalzarr Magnus's picture

I really think the old school leash is the way to go, like many other people have noted, not having a leash or having a flexible leash would take away from the squad/team based game play that is CoC. If someone were to be able to cover all areas of the map, or watch their every flank they would have no need to rely on teammates or even have a team because they could do too much by themselves. Also spreading a 2-6 man squad across an entire battlefield is unrealistic, they are a squad for a reason and should be within a reasonable distance from each other to attack/defend a certain area TOGETHER.
sawreese's picture

Looks like most people are for the old leash. I don't know if you guys have experimented with this, but if you're going with the leash, it might be interesting to vary leash length depending on squad type. Recon squads should be able to spread out more, machine gun squads less, etc.
Erik's picture

Again, great input guys!!

On a personal level, i tend to agree with the fact that at least some sort of leash is desirable.
In particular because it will stimulate more teamwork and strategy. Which are two key elements that we want to preserve.

We have not tested anything regarding to the leash yet. I like the idea of varying the leash distance per class as well. Although again this might lead to confusion.
Alex's picture

Why don't you simply make it part of levelling.
The higher level you are, the bigger it is until max rank where you have no leash. By design, going in to the corners would sacrifice the ability to do that anyway.

The leash was restrictive mainly in flanking as although you could go out the leash, you then couldn't control your soldiers well until that soldier was back in
Erik's picture

Good idea!
But.. levelling.. or buying? ;)

Just kidding. Its an interesting idea. But I do like the idea of keeping a level playing field (as much as possible anyways) for both new and experienced players as well. On the other hand we do need stuff to keep the vets challenged.
Imperator's picture

Why not allow the commanding officer to choose one unleash team per side? The game would be balanced and it would keep things interesting at the same time.
Foggy Dewhurst's picture

You could do this by having different theatres for different skills of players.

Similar to where the old CoC had the private to corporal lobbies and then the sergeant+ lobbies but have it based on actual skill level rather than their military rank.

Perhaps have a battle theatre (lobby) for everyone who wants to join then;
One for people with KDR between 0 and 0.5
One for KDR 0.5+

Doesn't have to be KDR could be a different stat you use to judge a player's level of skill, perhaps a mix of their KDR/AWP

But what I feel IS a must is a proper, well thought out and functional fair match-making system to ensure both sides are on an equal footing.

One possible idea to help the newbies out at first, that veterans wouldn't really miss, is give new players some sort of 'Distress Signal' feature that they can click if they're really being stomped on that allows them to evacuate atuomatically towards (or behind) the nearest higher ranking player on their team.

Of course you'd have to limit how many times they'd be able to use this, and once they've played X amount of games or gotten to an X level of skill the feature is taken away.
Mudrunner's picture

Just keep it old school ! I Believe the game would be more of a challenge.
Florian's picture

I think whatever type of leash we choose, the primary challenge will be to clearly visualize it on the map or in the interface somehow. Either approach can work if we can get that right, though a 'soft leach' is obviously something that would require a lot more testing and balancing to get right. We would need to think through very thoroughly what the exact effect would be of going outside of the maximum range of the leash, which would be based on two elements I would think: (1) how far you've actually gone from the team and (2) for how long. And as I noted in an earlier comment I think just impacting stress/suppression would not be a good approach IMHO.

My opinion at this time: a soft leash can work very nicely and add yet another interesting dimension to the game, but it should not be a priority (as the added value is not proven) and if we do it we should do it properly (in other words, make sure it ties in nicely with other game mechanics)!
bacchus's picture

I remember enjoying the hard leash, but part of this was having the experiences getting around it that others didnt.

I think you are spot on to not consider it a priority yet. but when you do, the distance these units are seeing will be an important thing to consider. I dont remember if you are planning to have all units see equally in distance. if so, you should have variable leashes. if you vary vision distances, you add potential for spotting the enemy without them knowing. part of the reason in call to go beyond ur leash was to try and spot wide flanks, delays, gather intel.

I think leashes are important so you can attempt to keep maps smaller yet still allow for wide flanking tactics, or weak area rushing. with no leash, you could split 2 players up on opposite sides of the map, with 2 different unit types. great for playing defense, but was always harder to attack 2 players in one area with 4 soldiers, than 1 player with 4 soldiers. during beta testing you may find this would enhance having a multitude of unit types on your team

good luck! back to MIA
Imperator's picture

It would be interesting to allow commanding officers to designate one team member "special ops" there by allowing that one squad to be unleashed, after all spec ops team are usually given the authority to get the job done by any means necessary. This can either be implemented on a game by game basis or via monthly promotions.

This would provide numerous aspects of strategy to the game both defensively and offensively. For instance the strategy this may bring to the game is:
• Identifying who is unleashed
• Positively communicating the unleashed squad
• Setting up to defend the unleashed squad.
• Choosing the player who is able to utilize this ability the best
• Positioning your unleashed squad where they would be most useful
Costas's picture

Florian how was the leash calculated before? Was it the distance between soldier #1 and #4 or distance between the soldier closest to the next one?
Erik's picture

Now.. one of the reasons for the putting up the forum.. was to be able to structure discussions like this a bit better.. :)
But this'll have to do for now i guess ;) I will make sure to create a forum thread again next time.

It was the distance between the two being the furthest away I think costas (so the entire squad distance). Looking at the contents of this discussion in combination with the workload either option brings; im inclined to say its best to stay with the old leash (and visualize this properly). Consequently we can always add variations later. There are several variations suggested in this thread which I quite like and def have the potential add some great value. This is includes the 'allow one squad per game' option.

Good stuff.
Ayden's picture

I have always figured you couldn't improve upon the perfection of Call (pre-hotkeys), so I'm not necessarily the greatest judge on new things.

But a couple of my thoughts..

- If there is no leash, as someone mentioned before, there would be trolling galore in some maps. I can just imagine indoor corner ambushes EVERYWHERE and you'd have no freaking idea where they might be. You'd develop a nervous twitch pretty fast. Not saying this is a necessarily a bad thing though...

- If there is no leash, and no penalties, the noobies in... well any type of game, are going to get DESTROYED by vets even worse than they used to.

If we do reduce the leash, which might be fun, I think penalties of some sort are a must. As with the original game, if you wanted to cheat the leash by stretching around a building or something, you paid fairly hard for it, being that you couldn't move your other men properly without some serious Run All finesse.

Rezurexc's picture

I like the third option, I can see a lot of different tactics which will make the game more fun in my opinion, and will make the game have more micro management for competitive play.
PFC4LIFE's picture

To be honest I could and did many a time use 1 man free and looped the entire map and came up behind players with a single STRETCHED soldier. That ability was great when one wanted to either capture a flag through deceptive means or just to cap your enemy completely surprising them with it. The leash for me didn't exist and I think if you simply institute the leash as it was before that be great.

The idea that you can learn to move and play stretched was another level of game play for me that I truly enjoyed. All four corners was always reserved for the largest maps that were simply insanity to have people play on anyhow and I would tell people I'd be in 4 corners... you could survive with one man or two occasionally as it was nearly impossible for the opposition to get to all 4 corners. I felt it was well within the rules to stretch as it offered a lot of issues in terms of control it was never easy to use a 1 man stretch but it sure made for some awesome sneak attacks. Many people had to be very very wary of my tactics and would always be looking behind just in case I was using it.
lorekiller's picture

Definitely a Leash!
It's very important for the teamwork which is the fundament of the game
Chief of Staff's picture

I sometimes used the glitch to super stretch one guy to flank around someone in front of me. I would sit at a wall with 3 guys and flank around with the mp guy. The thing though was that I couldn't move my 3 guys who were left sitting at the wall until my single flanker came up and that was the trade off. So really, it was a great component of game play. Sure, old school leash sounds great but old school glitch sounds even better because it is a strategy that requires sound understanding of the existing mechanics.
Rezurexc's picture

I honestly don't want a leash, I can see myself split my squad into 2 teams and send each one to a different objective on the map to help my teammates in different areas without worrying about being stretched and can't move any of my units. That's that's up to you if you want to take that challenge. So number 3 is still my vote. :)
negativeone's picture

It comes down to how you the developers want your game to be played. With a leash as a commander I'm forced to make decisions on who is going where, my best players can't cover all of the hard positions. Without a leash that decision is easier. It allows me to simply use new players as lamp posts for vision and send my most skilled players to the difficult positions.

That said the person playing those position has to have a very high level of skill. So what you get is a game the encourages high individual skill and discourages strategy, as I don't have to take any risks of sending a new player to a difficult position.

In addition removing a leash discourages teamwork. It's no secret that in Call of Combat it was important to keep your teamates alive. For example with two soldiers left there was an inherent advantage to the team that had 2 players left vs. the team who only had one player left with 2 soldiers. That advantage was 100% the result of having a leash. But as such the leash enforced the value of keeping your team mates alive. I know as a commander I always placed extra emphasis on my teammates doing their best to keep at least one soldier alive. Also setting the chain of command becomes much less strategical as without a leash I don't need a subordinate to provide eyes on a specific flank given that a player can just send a soldier over there to watch it. Leashes also allowed for strategical hostage situations. I could keep an opponents soldiers stunned at the sacrifice of using additional grenades with the benefit of knowing that he either needed to keep the rest of his squad in close proximity or have a very difficult time managing the rest of his squad these situations usually involved me issuing a command to someone else to rush knowing that my opponent would have increased difficulty fending off the rush because of the leash.

Removing the leash I no longer have to worry about whether or not my teammates stay alive as my opponents have no inherent advantage against me either way. Some players would probably really enjoy it this way as they would not have to rely as much on their teammates.

In short, you guys need to decide if you want a tactical team based strategy. Or a team death match. Arguments can be made for both.
negativeone's picture

Upon further review I think a pretty strong case can be made that the development of new players is hindered without a leash as there is no incentive to ever send them to a difficult position or care about their eyes on a flank.