Sitrep: Rules of Engagement

Sitrep: Rules of Engagement

By on April 10, 2013 at 10:39 am

If FPS games have taught me anything, it’s that you always shoot first, shoot some more, and then keep shooting until everyone and everything has been shot. We expect that from games like this. We have for years and years now. Occasionally there will be the option to not shoot; to approach your target(s) in a more considered or subtle way. It’s always a clear and present line between force and subterfuge, maybe diplomacy too.

The choice is yours, so make it quickly before someone notices you and we default to shooting first, shooting some more and continually shooting until everyone and everything has been shot.

I was shocked to realise that this isn’t the way the world actually works during wartime. Sure it makes practical sense. You can’t just have soldiers going off full-cocked, and cocking hammers and… I’m just trying to use the word “cock” as much as I can right now. Be it the impressions left by too many hours spent blowing up digital worlds and people or latent sociopathy, that was previously my conclusion: When in conflict, kill everything.

Not so. There are rules. Rules of engagement. ROE.

Today I read a curious story about a man in Vietnam. This is during the Vietnam War circa ‘71, and this US soldier is piloting his scout plane around and he sees some Commie bastids down there. Obviously he wants to shoot them up, but the ROE forbid him from doing that unless they open fire first. He does everything to bait them into it, and by “everything” I mean he keeps buzzing them at lower and lower altitudes (eventually he even puts his landing gear down) in the hopes they’ll get annoyed and swat at him with bullets. They don’t. They’re aware of the sanctions the US is operating under, crazy as they seemingly are. They show him their asses instead.

Now there’s an idea. Not the asses bit, the other bit.

I imagine a game where you are already in the throes of some uncertain conflict. Things are tense in medias res. When you spot the enemy coming up over the horizon in their ones, twos, threes, you are not able to fire. ROE. You try. You hammer a key or click the mouse to hose down the area with self-preservation but your guy quips something like, “I’ll be court-martialled. Ain’t going back to my wife” or “I’m not a monster… yet ho ho.”

No, you have to wait for the other side to open fire on you, like our friend in his plane. To do that, they have to see you or at least suspect that you’re there, crouched or prone in the bushes. When and with what kind of fury they decide to pull their own self-preservation triggers is your worst guest. Maybe they, like those bum-bearing Viet Cong, are aware of the rules you play by. Maybe they mock you, their faceygons twisting into smirks. They saunter by on their way to lunch in the belief you can’t do anything.

What about: once this initial meeting has played out in this fashion, now your grunt clicks the safety off his guns and you’re good to go if you want. No one will ever find out about your M60 accidentally discharging 10,000 rounds into the backs of these Regulars – or will they? Who’s the authority here? Who lets moral high command know you’ve broken the rules of warfare in this theatre, and what are the gameplay sanctions for doing so and being caught?

Maybe it’s your superior officer’s (“Sarge”) duty to write you up when you get back to base. Maybe he somehow doesn’t survive this rumble in the jungle. Errant 7.62x51mm, sir. Friendly fire’s a helluva drug.

For more thoughts on combat in games, why not check out this piece from yesterday?

Pictures from Air & Space Magazine.

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16 comments (Leave your own)

Arma has always had an ROE mechanic in it, a lot of mods use it in fact.. Always was annoying when you’d get someone surrender and you’d accidentally light them up.. BOOM court marshaled shit I’m a lieutenant again :( (or in some mods its just a fine).

But yeah I’m surprised more games don’t have an ROE feature.

 

It’s nice when games give you a choice of taking actions like that, even if it’s a choice of shooting up civilians or not shooting them up.

More realism is good though, getting closer to having a sniper game where you can’t leave your computer for 4 days, have to relieve yourself where you sit, and then after 4 days find out your target won’t be coming into your area, so you can then take a break.

Generally though, in games with friendly fire, sometimes knowing there’s someone around a corner, but not knowing if they’re friend or foe, I will wait for them to make a hostile action first, then I know I can shoot them and not just make a team mate really angry.

 

They already made the 4 day sniper thingy with DayZ, well for those who found a hiding spot at Stary and everyone didn’t tell them and went to NWAF instead ;)

RoE though do go out of the window if there is no one to challenge the story, without evidence there is no proof and there are ways to remove evidence. So while there are RoE they are more a guideline that shouldn’t be crossed especially if under scrutiny…

 

Imagine a multiplayer game where you have the classic side of t’s and ct’s. But instead of flat-out warfare you end up with a large crowd scene, or some other scene of day to day life. The terrorists are actually already blending in with the crowd, trying to get to their destination. Obviously the police/cts/miltary can’t engage without firstly identifying the targets/insurgents or they may even have to wait until they are fired upon (classic ROE).

If you wanted to go even further, you could add a third team which would be your normal civilians. Maybe they get extra funds for their time as insurgents/cts by performing day to day tasks like going to the bank, buying groceries, going from point a to point b etc.

Imagine how tense it could be, no names above players or NPCs, just having to watch for the behaviour to become apparent. Maybe have a symbol above NPCs/players when they start visibly sweating or becoming nervous if they’re not keeping their intentions under control.

Could be kinda fun :D

 

Toby, if RoE were followed as much as I think you think they are, FF casualties wouldn’t be as prevalent as they are.

Also, dead enemies/PsoW/non-combatants/civilians/friendlies can’t speak, he who controls the present controls the past.

BTW, I’m all for realistic frameworks which encourage RoE.

 

RSOblivion,

Yes, except instead of “finding out your target won’t be coming into your area”, your target logs off and dematerialises from the world.

ashigaru,

You might like this:

http://www.spyparty.com/

 

SWAT 4

 

Theres only a handful of games that use this including Arma and SWAT4. Arma however can be played without using ROE but in say a large mission if you engage you will either kill friendlies and fail a mission or get the attention of an entire army of hostiles. More FPS need to involve this ROE mechanic.

 

mearehear,

I see your SWAT 4 and raise you one Police Quest.

 

Would someone direct me to the implementation of RoE in ArmA II? You were referring to ArmA II not ArmA I right?

I played through the ArmA II and OA campaigns and can’t recall any RoE mechanic.

 

Hate to be that guy, but spelling mistake “duty to write oyu up” Last paragraph.

jme,

I don’t know it either, anyone willing to explain?

 

jme:
Would someone direct me to the implementation of RoE in ArmA II? You were referring to ArmA II not ArmA I right?

I played through the ArmA II and OA campaigns and can’t recall any RoE mechanic.

I beleive the reference (and in my case) relates to the fact that you need to use ROE to survive and play your role properly. There may be some level of Role playing involved but I can remember quite a few missions I have played whereby going in guns blazing often resulted in death to an entire team of soldiers.

 

jme,

Yeah specifically Arma 2 had it inbuilt. Arma 1 had a few mods that added it. I recall the campaign for Operation Arrowhead had a mechanic that gauged if you were conforming to ROE or not and calibrated the number of insurgents based on how much of a bastard you were to the locals (I recall them making a big deal about this feature when AO first came out). The Warfare Mod also has a mechanic where if you shoot either surrendered soliders or unarmed civilians you’re penalized, I also recall a few other mods (I think the Persistent server mod was one of them) that used a rank system that made it so if you team killed, killed civilians and unarmed prisoners you’d be demoted in rank and loose access to certain toys.

ashigaru,

Ashigaru they actually made a mod called City Life for Arma 2 that added a lot of those features you mentioned. In that mod if you play a cop you have to try and find if anyone is doing illegal stuff and arrest them, problem is there’s no factions just citizens that may or may not be terrorists.. everytime they get it wrong it comes across as corrupt police.. this in turn increases the player’s desire to get back at the police.. so they become terrorists.. the end of the game usually results with the entire city being blown to hell by terrorists (because lets face it.. most players playing as cops are doing so to be complete dickheads and troll people) so it usually ends with a lot of car bombs. I felt so evil running guns in that mod, you could smuggle guns if you had a license to sell weapons so I was pretty much selling to everyone I could.. which was very illegal.. I got busted for it once, massive fucking cop raid :D was hilarious.. It didn’t end well for the cops though my buyers had already loaded their ammo (there’s also always that risk that the terrorists will just shoot you and steal the guns anyway. So I always had an armed escort with me (other players) who were getting a cut.. again there’s also always potential that they could screw me over.. GOOD MOD!

Bank raids in that mod are intense.

 

gammad:
ashigaru,

Ashigaru they actually made a mod called City Life for Arma 2 that added a lot of those features you mentioned. In that mod if you play a cop you have to try and find if anyone is doing illegal stuff and arrest them, problem is there’s no factions just citizens that may or may not be terrorists.. everytime they get it wrong it comes across as corrupt police.. this in turn increases the player’s desire to get back at the police.. so they become terrorists.. the end of the game usually results with the entire city being blown to hell by terrorists (because lets face it.. most players playing as cops are doing so to be complete dickheads and troll people) so it usually ends with a lot of car bombs. I felt so evil running guns in that mod, you could smuggle guns if you had a license to sell weapons so I was pretty much selling to everyone I could.. which was very illegal.. I got busted for it once, massive fucking cop raid :D was hilarious.. It didn’t end well for the cops though my buyers had already loaded their ammo (there’s also always that risk that the terrorists will just shoot you and steal the guns anyway. So I always had an armed escort with me (other players) who were getting a cut.. again there’s also always potential that they could screw me over.. GOOD MOD!

Bank raids in that mod are intense.

Sounds AWESOME :D I think this kind of game, on a slightly smaller scale, would be amazing. 30 minute matches at 5 a side + civilians would be pretty epic :)

 

Zargalife is a small version of ChernoLife, its the one I prefer because you don’t have to drive for miles to find another player, servers I’ve seen usually have 20-30 players.

 

ralphwiggum:
mearehear,

I see your SWAT 4 and raise you one Police Quest.

Never played that one sadly

 
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