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Author Topic: A Possible Merge in mods?  (Read 21469 times)

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2011, 07:38:02 AM »
Generally, everyone imagines Saracens being people with curved swords, and turbans. All other details are optional, as long as those two features are present.... unless I'm giving the modern world too little credit.
Explains why I was confused about Saracens and Persians, though.


Ah, so that's the difference between Ninja and Shinobi.

Out of question: Were there Shinobi who also acted as Ninja, or vice-versa?
There's also the popular kunoichi. Did they work exclusively as Shinobi? Or are there examples of female ninjas?
Sorry if these questions are a bother.

You answered my wondering about the "all ninjas are loyal to a lord" bit which is in most fiction. Was wondering if there were any mercenary ninja (or is it just "ninja" for the plural..?).

You forgot to mention the ninjas who run on water, deflect bullets, chop up a tank, then swap places with a log. Those seem to be more popular on the Eastern front.

Thank you for the very interesting details about ninja and shinobi! I can see how it applies to pretty well all spywork. Interesting that Japan was ahead of the rest of the world, with spy-matters... seems the ninja really were phenomnal (though nothing stupid like cutting bullets out of the air).

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #46 on: September 12, 2011, 11:13:09 PM »
As for 'ninja' and 'shinobi' ... "covert operative" and "spy" are the kind of terms that sort of run together.  There isn't a really clear distinction, unless you specifically mean information-gathering spies who were not authorized, trained or equipped for violent field work.  Modern "official coverts" - Embassy staff and other diplomatic passports - would probably fall under that category.  Other than that possible distinction, the two obviously tend to blend.

Were there female spies and assassins in Japan?  Absolutely.  Did they wear black and jump around and throw stars at people?  Not if they could avoid it.  Gaining access to a person or location by walking in as entertainers, prostitutes, or domestic staff was (and still is) much more reliable... and killing with knives, blunt objects or poison is more reliable than 'exotic' weapons like throwing blades.  (I would also include explosives, but bombs are notoriously hard to control and the casualties they cause fairly random.)

As for mercenaries, there were all kinds of mercenary jobs in Japan.  Yojimbo (a generic term for mercenaries, sometimes mistranslated "bodyguard" because most modern mercenaries do work as individual private security) could be anybody - ronin, unemployed ashigaru, spies and hit men, scouts and trackers, whatever.  In the case of spies, however, you would have to be pretty certain that you had someone's loyalty... so they probably didn't just put an ad in the paper looking for mercenary covert operatives.  Even among mercenaries, the Japanese were big on honor and loyalty, so even somebody hired off the street was somewhat expected to be absurdly loyal to his employer.  Either way, they had to work for somebody ... unlike farming, you can't be a subsistence spy... somebody has to be paying for your services and/or expenses.


My dad tells a story about running on water.  Fishing trip, he got out of a little two-man boat on a tiny island in the lake.  Found a huge cottonmouth water moccasin, about six feet long - a real swamp monster, waiting for him, coiled and ready to strike.  He was unarmed and in the middle of nowhere (and without prompt modern medical care, the bite of the cottonmouth is nothing short of utterly lethal), so there was real danger from this reptile ... so he did the sane thing.  He ran, in absolute terror, back to the boat.  He was then informed by everyone who saw the scene, at least three witnesses viewing this from different directions, that he had taken three steps on the surface of the lake ... where he had actually stepped onto the boat was more than ten feet deep.  It was a real Wiley Coyote kind of move, like gravity does not take effect until someone notices it - although by calculating inertia and surface tension of water, you could eventually parse it out.  Likely, most of the stories of "ninja" (or other great heroic characters from other traditions) walking on the surface of water probably started much the same way.  Once nobody remembered the original event, the stories took a life of their own... "Dude, I've heard that some of them can run on the surface of water!"... but nobody actually remembers seeing this or under what conditions it was reported.

(Also, for the record, the ninja of Japan were known for all kinds of portable and/or improvised flotation devices, including crossing bodies of water by standing in a couple of wooden buckets to displace their weight.  Mix that in with the stories, and you have an even better rumor to turn into a myth.  And, of course, they did nothing to discourage these myths ... fear was already their best weapon.)

For purposes of fiction, including the ONR mod, a little bit of absurdity reflects reality.  Too much looks fake.  Hitting that balance is a test for all writers of fiction.

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #47 on: September 13, 2011, 04:47:17 AM »
Yeah, that was mostly what I was thinking about.

I figured that would be uncommon for male ninjas too--unless the mission was to scare someone then escape...
Speaking of that, how common was the, "if you fail your mission, you commit suicide" ideal? I know that this can just as easily apply to samurai, in certain cases (if you annoy the lord, he may make you commit suicide)--but in popular media, they make it seem like failing any mission forces a ninja or samurai to always kill themselves. That seem patently ridiculous, so I'm just asking how common it was.

Loyal mercenaries, eh?... that's almost an oxymoron. Was employment of mercenaries a long-term thing? Just don't see how loyal they can be expected to be, if they're just doing one job for you. Granted, they can still be professional, by doing their job well and doing their part--just seems odd that they'd have proper loyalty (working for reasons other than money, that is).


....I did hear it was technically possible to run on water, like the Jesus Christ Lizard--but didn't expect humans could do it with adrenaline alone. (your father was probably healthy at the time, but I doubt he could run record sprints?). That's a very interesting story, really. You should write an auto-biography.

That's probably where it stemmed from, yeah.

True. Reality is absurd. Just a matter of getting the consistency and amount of absurdity right, for fiction.


Heh heh, while googling, I found a piece of samurai dog-armour XD. Could the dog even see with such a helmet..? http://www.neatorama.com/2008/02/13/samurai-dog-armor/

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #48 on: September 13, 2011, 07:17:56 AM »
Well, since we're reviewing literary and cultural details that may or may not impact the mod:

Yes, Japan did armor some of their fighting and hunting dogs, and yes the dogs could see, smell, and bite effectively from under that armor.  Modern police dogs would be a lot more effective with a little kevlar too, honestly.  Mount some sharp spikes and/or blades on it, so their opponent can't get a solid grip on them without getting cut up, and you can turn a dog into a pretty effective weapon.  In their natural form, dogs tend to be kind-of thin skinned, and their legs and ribs are far too exposed - they're not really a match for a determined person, one on one.  (Anybody with any grip strength at all can break a large dog's leg with one hand.)  That's why they naturally hunt in packs.  But if you can't afford to keep up with 20 dogs, a little armor on one or two can make up a lot of the weakness.

Mercenaries are inherently loyal because they're being paid for it.  They took the job in the first place because the money was good, and as long as the paychecks keep coming, they will keep doing their job.  Direct disloyalty, like changing sides, would look bad on their work history the next time they were looking for a job. 

Conscripts are the ones who would rather shoot their own officers than the enemy.  They would much rather be just about anywhere else, and their leaders are the reason why they can't be somewhere else.  Therefore, they hate their own leadership more than they hate the enemy.

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You would be surprised how fast you can move when you're standing on top of a pit viper.  I once pulled a pistol and fired three rounds at one (and hit the critter twice, although not as hard as I would have liked), and my brother told me it was the fastest quick-draw he had ever seen.  (I can normally draw and fire in about 0.6 second with reasonable accuracy, but he said this was closer to 0.3 from reaction to first round fired - an impossible time.)   I told him that he could have drawn and fired that fast too, if he had been standing on that snake.  If I had been unarmed, I could have probably run on the surface of water or jumped 20 feet into a tree, as well ... although, personally, I would have been more likely to react by stomping the snake into the dirt, because that's just how I think about poisonous snakes (you have to strike before they do, because you can't outrun their strike).   Still, the point remains... if you're scared enough, many things become possible.

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The Japanese practice of Seppuku - ritual suicide - came in several forms.

One was executions for members of the bushi (warrior class).  Instead of just tying them to a post and having someone kill them, they were ordered to kill themselves ... sort of a symbolic atonement for whatever crime they were accused of.  Legally, this gesture would usually free their family, clan, or whoever from any further legal actions ... where if they ran from a legal sentence, the authorities would likely take it out on their family and friends until they surrendered.  This practice applied both to on-duty military and civilian law (unlike modern legal systems, where military and civilian courts are usually divided).

Legally speaking, utter military incompetence was generally a death sentence (where most modern nations have reduced it to various prison terms), so failing a military campaign could mean a court martial and a death sentence, particularly if it was the finding of the court that the accused directly failed to do his job.  (Odds are that if he just did a poor job, the sentence would likely only include reduction in rank.)  So in that regard, not much has really changed.

Second, there was the tradition of preferring death to capture.  This was a direct product of the intense shame that Asian cultures put on surrender.  It was practice to try to recruit anyone who surrendered, so any surrender was viewed somewhat like defecting to the other side... i.e. surrender equals treason.  Modern Asian military still think this way - modern Chinese troops will destroy their equipment and kill themselves (or make a suicidal attack) before they will surrender, just to deny the enemy useful intel and/or prisoners to use as propaganda, human shields or diplomatic negotiating chips.  (Modern Japan doesn't really have a military to speak of, so they can't be used as an example.)  It can be an effective tactic ... if nothing else, it scares the heck out of your enemy.

Third is the practice of spies killing themselves to avoid capture, interrogation and torture.  Modern versions generally prefer poison in this application, but in ancient Japan the practice of suicide with blades was already part of the cultural framework.

Does that put it more into perspective?

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #49 on: September 14, 2011, 03:25:13 AM »
Wow... I guess dogs would be great against Ashigaru, who are lightly armoured (those with armour would be safe enough?). Horses might also be in for a bad time.
Do you think it would be possible to use the Warg code from TLD (the stuff that lets Wargs attack your enemies), for dog-style enemies? Of course... it might be too hard to get the dogs to spawn on the battlefield, other than making them mounts (which would be just too silly..). At this stage, such coding projects would also be impossible, so there's no point in considering it.

Ah, that kind of loyalty. Makes sense, that you can't be too mercenary--or no one will trust you.

I guess the peasants weren't quite as loyal as the samurai.

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Would you say that applies to combat as well? As in, could you have drawn that fast, if it had been a mugger with a knife, rather than a snake.

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Heard of the first one. Really nice people, the feudal Japanese lords ::)... Kill yourself, or your kids and wife get it.

Why did some generals get away with absolute incompetence so completely? For example, one of the main generals of the North, during the American Civil War. He had a talent for, "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" as Abraham Lincoln put it.

Why so loyal, I wonder...? Most people don't want to die, after all.
(Had heard Japan had an impressive Defence Force, oddly enough. Might be they disbanded it.)

Makes sense. Endless torture followed by execution is scarier than suicide.


Yes, it puts it well into perspective, thank you.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #50 on: September 14, 2011, 07:52:18 AM »
Japanese peasants were surprisingly loyal, they just weren't military.  Most of the Japanese ashigaru were volunteer military recruits, not really conscripts.  It was Europe and European colonies, particularly 1600 and later, that tended to conscript a military.  (The Mongol Empire conscripted Koreans for a while...)  Everybody else pretty much knew that a conscripted army was a bad idea.  Even in modern wars, nobody wants to resort to a draft ... that doesn't give you an army, it just gives you a lot of warm bodies that are only useful as cannon fodder ... and the more you use those bodies for cannon fodder, the more the situation decays.

Armor helps against dogs, sure ... but unlike arrows and shrapnel, dogs have brains.  If they bite down and get nothing that tastes like blood, they will move over and bite somewhere else.  Modern police dogs in most places are deliberately trained to grab and hold clothing, without really trying to hurt the target.  They don't naturally do that - wild dogs will run by and slash at a target's legs, and keep making passes until the victim trips and falls or bleeds out and collapses... then they tear him to ribbons.  For the record, China's "People's Armed Police" train their kill-dogs to fight like wild dogs ... they release that leash, and something is going to die (either the target or the dog).  (They also deliberately breed these chow-shepherd mix animals that are big, tough, and as mean as a snake, just to make sure they're getting their point across... I've never been afraid of dogs, but these animals can be pretty formidable.)  I'm pretty sure ancient Japan did the same sort of thing - it is well documented that they trained their dogs by running wild pigs, so those dogs were pretty dangerous opponents by any standard.

The TLD "Warg" code in M&B v.808 was just horse reskinned.  If they have anything new and working, I haven't seen it myself.  At last check, there were still some problems with custom skeletons, and even if they are possible, that's WAY above my level ... you'll have to find somebody who can work with this stuff, if you really think that critters are a thing that needs to be added.  Fujiwara and I discussed adding wild pig hunts, some time back, but concluded that we would have to wait until somebody else perfected a small-animal skeleton.  That was on the "way sometime in the future" wish list.

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On adrenalin and speed .... yeah, personal combat happens faster than you can really move in normal life.  That's part of why criminal knife attacks are so hard to defend against - the attacker is already worked up, physically and mentally prepared to do violence, while the target usually is not.  I disabled a pushy-beggar-disguise robber a few years ago in Anyang (China), because he figured he could just grab me and club me from behind, and didn't expect me to go instantly from strolling down the street to using-deadly-force mode.  (I broke his arm in several places ... I stopped myself before I killed him, although I set him up to do just that, and it would have surely been easy to finish him off.  I kill instinctively ... I have to keep my wits to stop myself.  That scares me.)  Most people can't shift gears mentally that fast, and so the attacker usually has the advantage.  Really dangerous people tend to be able to make that transition much faster than average, and to make that change whenever they first suspect anything at all is amiss, and that's a big part of what makes them formidable opponents.

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Actually, arresting family and associates and seizing property are historically common responses when trying to hunt down a fugitive.  If nothing else, it denies them hiding places: if you arrest their cousins and grandparents and hold them until the fugitive surrenders, it means he can't hide out with family.  Actually directly harming the family members, unless they are actually charged as accomplices, is a pretty extreme measure ... but even the threat that they could be held and questioned is usually enough that all but total sociopaths would rather take their chances in court.  In the modern world, there are a lot of legal loopholes that still allow the practice:  resisting arrest, obstructing justice, conspiracy after the fact, aiding a fugitive, contempt of court, or being "held for questioning" for an indeterminate period of time (and the definition of "questioning" can get interesting).  (All of these things can be real offenses as well as excuses, which is why such laws exist - I am not implying that they are purely to cover up the taking of hostages.)  Ancient Japan was just a little more honest and overt about it... "Surrender or we will beat your location out of the kids and then hunt you down."

Military incompetence is a hard thing to prove.  Like most things in a complex society, there are countless factors that determine a military outcome.  Unless someone can point to a particular decision or set of actions that any sane person would recognize as a mistake, it's tough to figure out exactly who or what was at fault.  Even then, proving negligence at the time, as opposed to viewing the situation in retrospect, is much harder. 

For example, history has pretty uniformly condemned British Field Marshal Montgomery as being an idiot ... but at the time, consensus among the British command tended to favor him and his plans.  (It's possible that the entire British command were idiots.  Churchill had already proved himself a military nitwit back in WW1 when he was Lord of the Admiralty.)  When things went badly, there was real question as to who was at fault, and the degree of that fault, as opposed to how much was unforeseeable accident.  Half a century later, historians and computer models pretty much confirmed that Montgomery's entire plans were screwed up from the outset, and nothing short of a miracle could have made them work as advertized.  That was the minority view at the time.

In the case of the American Civil War example, the Union side started the war woefully short of officers.  The elite officer corps were all trained at and associated with the Virginia Military Academy (now West Point), and they all joined the Confederacy.  (Lee was offered supreme command of the Union Army just before the war started, declined and returned to his home state of Virginia, where he was given overall command of the CSA armed forces.  He was not the only one with a similar story.)   While Lincoln constantly whined about many of his generals, it would have been useless to court-marshal them, because there was nobody any better to replace them.

Ancient Japan certainly saw the same thing.  Officers were not removed from command (court martial or otherwise) unless somebody was sure that a different commander could change the outcome.  Actually sentencing them to some kind of punishment (death, flogging, reduction of rank, discharge from military, whatever) was a pretty extreme measure, generally only reserved for specific crimes (murder, treason, black-market weapons dealing, that sort of thing).  You would really have to screw up a military campaign royally, to see a command-level officer tried for incompetence.  Those guys are generally too rare and valuable to waste on show trials.

The loyalty is not as much idealism as practicality.  As I said, it is very much viewed as treason to surrender.  If they think that their government has any chance at all of surviving the war, and they ever want to go home, then surrender is just not really an option.  (Legally speaking, China as a nation is not as strict as the cultural standards of its people.  Social and personal standards, however, have more influence on behavior than laws on the books.)  There is also an identification of the culture (nation, clan, whatever) with the government they fight for.  This is a left-over of the ancient world, where a subjugated people would lose their land, homes, language, economy, everything - and be marched off as slaves of the victors and worked to death in salt mines or some such.  In that thought pattern, if you don't want your kids to die of starvation in a mine while digging coal for your enemies, you fight to the death, to the last man standing, and then do anything you can to spite your enemy before you die.  Much of the history of Europe was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, which had standards for conducting a war similar to the modern Geneva Conventions ... but international war in Asia and fighting between the clans in Japan had no such mitigating factors.  Personal honor - the willingness of individual soldiers and warriors to do whatever was necessary - was the only thing between their families and annihilation.

The modern "Japanese Defense Force" was formed by treaty with the United States, as part of Japan's surrender at the end of WW2.  The treaty clearly specifies exactly how many armed personnel, ships, aircraft, and vehicles Japan may own and field.  The JDF is just about large enough to keep drug smugglers off of the Japanese home islands, provided they don't arm the city cops... arming any city cops would put them over the treaty limitations.  By the numbers, it would be about like saying that the United States was allowed a total military force equal to one-half the current strength of the Coast Guard, including any armed paramilitary government employees (city police, FBI, Secret Service, whoever).  The terms of the treaty were utterly crippling, and further specify that the treaty remains in effect and the United States will maintain a military occupation of Japan "for as long as the sun rises in the east".  Any violation of the treaty will be seen as an act of absolute and irrevocable war between the United States and every trace of the Japanese people, land, and culture ... it literally calls for absolute genocide of everything Japanese if the terms are violated.  It is one of the harshest treaties of surrender in modern history - intended to preserve the Japanese people and culture, but to utterly crush any potential military ambitions in the most humiliating way imaginable.  The JDF is a token force, not big enough to even make a summary showing in any major conflict.  Their only military significance is to patrol coastlines and occasionally hold joint exercises with the U.S.  Their equipment is generally up-to-date and their training is fine, but there are simply not enough of them to talk about them in terms of being a modern army... they're coast guard, and that's about it.  Japan's current military status is "occupied by U.S. forces".

On that note, the U.S. military has suffered so much attrition from long-running conflicts and budget crunches that they wouldn't make much of a showing in a major conflict either, right at the moment.  That sort of thing probably happens to everybody, at some time or another ... but it's still a very bad sign.

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And such has been the comparisons of ancient and modern military cultures, and their impacts on society and military theory and practice.  I doubt this will have any real impact on the mod, but at least maybe it will keep people thinking.

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #51 on: September 16, 2011, 06:53:38 AM »
Yet another reason Vietnam went badly...

Would you say that dogs were a threat to even heavily armoured persons? Just figured that as long as most of your body is armoured, they can only do superficial damage (of course, if they do knock you over, they might find somewhere to bite all of a sudden).

Was meaning the newer one. Apparently, they've rigged wargs to actually attack enemies of their own volition. Without the smaller animal skeletons being worked out, and with no highly skilled persons to implement, of course--there isn't a lot of hope.

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You're more in control than you think, I would say.

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Might be less about honesty and more about not caring :-/...

Strange that they have so much staff, yet no one can work out the errors...?

I wonder if the soldiers realized how incompetent the plans were.

How much training does it take to be good at command? Aren't there examples of people making skilled command decisions without prior experience? Spartacus, for example, appeared to have done a good job leading those slaves--same probably goes for successful bandits.
Of course, I honestly don't know myself.

I guess being a skilled commander really is a miraculous thing, then... considering some of the people they couldn't afford to replace. Maybe people are just less smart than I give them credit for, or maybe I just don't realize how complicated it is.

Ah... Wait, so the enemy will recruit you after defeating you, so you can fight your own side... Then, when you help them defeat your own side: They enslave you and your family!?!? I'm guessing that Sun Tzu was against this method--considering it results in no one surrendering ever again (and the best victories, are when your enemy surrenders without conflict).

Wow O_O.... Didn't realize it was that bad. Still, I can see the logic behind it--amazing the Japanese agreed, in some ways (I guess it comes down to the politicians not having the guts to play "kami-kaze" when it's their own lives...).

Everything is well set-up for a world-class disaster.... just a question of what kind, when, and where.

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I'm sorry, this was probably a bother to you... I just really like reading about this sort of thing.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #52 on: September 16, 2011, 11:33:05 AM »
Tactical decisions, no matter if you are talking about personal conflict or commanding an army, are always complicated.  Not only must you do a number of things right, you have to do them while thinking and acting faster or better than another person (or group or whoever) that is specifically trying to oppose you.  Learning how chess pieces move is easy ... but you put somebody who's Chess Federation master-ranked on the other side of the board, and even the slightest strategy mistake will cost you.  Likewise, learning joint locks is pretty easy in a classroom, but trying to use them on an experienced killer who is currently trying his best to knife you ... that's a different story.  Learning about infantry maneuvers on a map is pretty straightforward, but when your opponent is trying to outflank you on the left with a force of unknown strength, odds are you're about to do something that you will regret later.  And unlike chess, where you can practice a while and come back for next year's tournament, you usually only get one mistake in those last two examples.

Commanding and/or managing other people is an unrelated but equally difficult skill.  Historically, usually incompetent military people are the ones who have a lot of training and/or experience at commanding, managing, and/or leading.  Just because you know how to transport, supply, and organize a group, that does not necessarily mean you know anything about using them to kill the enemy.  Napoleon organized a huge army and very efficiently marched off into Russia in the winter ... and the Russians promptly annihilated them.  He was doing a fine job of leading, but a lousy job of fighting.  (Sort of like doing a thousand push-ups a day to get into shape to swim the English Channel, when you don't actually know how to swim.)

Either one of those without the other will cripple a military command (or police command, or business management position, or anything else, for that matter).  Oddly, however, depending on the situation, having one or the other will frequently get a person recognition as a commander.  Somebody does something great with one squad, they promote him and give him a platoon ... his good tactical move - basically personal combat with a couple of guys following him on their own -  doesn't mean he knows how to handle a platoon without some of them getting lost.  Or in a time of peace, somebody works his way up the ranks by having the best dressed, best marching, cleanest troops in the army ... but when the shooting starts, neither the commander nor the troops have the will, knowledge, or ability to actually kill the enemy.  This is how military idiots get command positions ... they do one thing right and get recognition, but they do something else badly and it gets expensive fast.  It's the same with modern army, or ancient nobility, or pretty much anybody.

Oddly enough, M&B rather acknowledged this.  Leadership (how many people you can keep under your command before they start getting confused, demoralized, or lost in the shuffle) and Tactics (how well you can get your troops into a battle in some kind of order, as opposed to being scattered all over the place and reaching the battle whenever they get there) were unrelated skills.  One was based on charisma, and the other on intelligence.  That's a pretty good summary of how it goes.

Now, like in any complex situation, there is always a mix of learned skills, innate abilities, outside influences, and dumb luck.  A well-trained and brilliant commander can still make a stupid mistake, if somebody gives him bad or limited information.  A moron can stumble onto the right answer by accident.  A smart person with little training can reason something out, if given enough time, and likely have similar performance to a well-trained idiot, who is just repeating what he was taught to do.  And this applies to business, or farming, or emergency medicine, or pretty much anything else ... not just military/combat issues.  And this is not even taking into account the larger picture, i.e. who has more resources, time, logistics, political support ... sometimes the outcome is really determined by completely outside factors.  Anybody who plays with M&B RCM mods knows the feeling ... if you're badly outnumbered and their troops at least match yours for weapons and equipment, sometimes even the best of field tactics can't get you out of the mess you're in.  That's a pretty realistic problem, and one of the reasons why it's hard to assign fault when a plan goes badly.

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As for recruiting enemy troops, generally speaking , anyone who defects generally assumes that this will grant their family some degree of immunity from the mistreatment that the defeated people suffer.  While the practice of recruiting hostiles during the actual conflict has been effectively dropped in the modern world (with the exception of trying to turn spies and research people), most modern nations will give residence status and accelerated citizenship process to anyone who will serve in their military.  It was the same in the ancient world, really ... active troops, would-be recruits, and/or civilians would defect if it offered benefits, and the most obvious benefit would be residence/citizenship with the winning side for them and their family.  That's why Sun Tsu made such a big deal about treating prisoners well ... you could grow both your army and the empire as a whole by making them a good offer.  The only other real choices were to kill the prisoners, use them as slave labor, or try to ransom them back ... and none of those offer great benefits (at least not after you account for the cost in guards and whatever, while you're holding them), nor do they encourage the enemy to surrender.

Thinking of that ... there were some bugs in the ransom prisoners, collect bounty, and recruit prisoners code in the last version of ONR.  We might want to look at that, if and when we get past the problem of a fully working port.

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #53 on: September 17, 2011, 09:50:46 AM »
Yeah, that certainly sounds like a, "I can't do that!" or, "I don't want to actually do that!" kind of activity, where it's hard to judge how hard it actually is without doing it--and from the outside, it looks impossible.

CHR to attract the soldiers, INT to keep them alive. (of course, even if you are charming and smart, if you don't get any real-life experience with the subject-matter, you won't be so good).

Guess it's like an RPG mind-set... You see the guy perform this great feat--so since he's skilled enough to do that, he must be ready to level up to Captain. Or, someone is good at looking like a skilled person, so they are assumed to have actual skill.
My idea for a fun TV show: Take a lot of the movie fight-coordinators, and send them to a (good) military boot-camp. Reality tv with some actual point to it.

I thought the Tactics skill in M&B was only useful if you used the Terrible Auto-Resolve battle option...? Either way, M&B did get the point across well by having them be separate skills (just not sure if tactics had any real use).

Need to give Generals enough free-roam that they aren't forced into bad situations... like Sun Tzu said, the point is to avoid bad situation altogether--not to be so skilled that charging into bad situations somehow turns out well.

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I'm guessing that despite how tactically smart it is to be nice to your prisoners and captured nations, a lot of Asian generals went the opposite direction...

One thing I always say (seriously), is it's the details which matter. Terrible concept can be made golden with good details.

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #54 on: September 17, 2011, 12:22:34 PM »
Yeah ... in any situation, the Devil can very much be in the details.  Usually, however, genuinely flawed concepts usually fall apart (or result in unwanted consequences) no matter what the details, at a rate determined by both outside factors and the actual severity of the flaw.  It's the good or at least workable plans that are impacted most by flawed implementation of the smaller details.  Flapping your arms and flying to the moon is a flawed idea - adding a space suit for when you get there does not fix the problem.  Using a rocket to get there is a workable plan, but little things like using pure oxygen in the command module ... well, Apollo 1.


The "tactics" skill in M&B determined force advantage when the fight opened.  For example, one side has 200 troops and the other 100, battle size is set at 75 - that means side one gets 50 guys on the field and side two gets 25.  Each side gets like three rounds of reinforcements of the same size as the original.  The "tactics" skill would skew that ratio considerably.  Relatively small groups and large enough battle size would somewhat reduce the effect.


That is actually a pretty good summary of actual tactics.  When moving to contact (no matter if we're talking individuals or entire armies), a skilled tactician will move in a way that limits an opponent's ability to concentrate forces against him, and/or maximizes his ability to concentrate his forces against them.

"If your enemy does not know where you will attack, then the places he must defend will be many.  If he defends many places, no place will have more than a few men."  - Sun Tsu.  (slightly paraphrased - that was from memory, I didn't look it up)

And you are exactly right, "Those the ancients commended for being great at warfare attacked targets that were easy to capture.  Thus their victories were not marked by great courage or skill in battle - their victories were free of error."


On the command mentality, see also the business equivalent:  "In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence."  - Laurence J Peter, "The Peter Principle", 1969

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #55 on: September 20, 2011, 06:57:52 AM »
Generally use it more in terms of writing--where a bad plot outline can be made very interesting with the details. Of course, maybe I'm not thinking of bad enough examples.


Ah, didn't realize that. Would've used it more if I thought it effected things other than Auto-Battle.


That tactic works on just about any scale, too (like moving forces around a continent attacking the weak, unprotected areas).

(No need to get exact wording in this case.)

Hmm... so you should theoretically pick the people who don't stand out...?


Deadly accurate xD. Game industry is a good example... Publishers will often sc**w their game developers over... which, in turn, results in the Publishers losing a lot of money. Luckily for them, they're practically made of money--so they will never have to learn how to do things right.


You know, I begin to wonder... could the Japanese have secured a sizable Empire? If they weren't so busy having an endless civil-war, that is (being a small nation, maybe all they could do was prevent invasion from China and Korea..?).

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #56 on: September 20, 2011, 10:09:44 AM »
The Japanese samurai swore to protect their lord and their people.  Getting involved in a land war in Asia would have seriously knocked a dent in that ... it would cost a lot of men and materials, and the only way to make it profitable would be to seriously suppress and loot the local population.

In 1591, Japan did launch an invasion into Korea (which was Mongol occupied at the time).  However, after driving out the Mongols, they effectively gave it back to the Koreans.  They needed the Mongol empire put back in its place, before any more invasions of Japanese territory could be launched, but they really didn't want the headache of trying to put a bunch of Koreans under the umbrella of the Japanese emperor.

It was not until the samurai were removed from power (1876) that Japanese leadership got the idea of capturing and exploiting a colonial empire.  Then ... well, they did.  And they did a pretty good job of capturing and utterly pillaging a fair number of places, before biting off more than they could chew when they hit the United States.  During this time (1876 - 1945), more than a few of the old families of the bushi (no longer in political power, but still around) opposed Japan's new militant colonialism.

So could they have invaded a bunch of stuff?  Physically, most certainly.  However, their social and political philosophy very much prevented them from wanting to extend control over any truly dissimilar cultures.  Even the internal fighting in Japan was more fueled by a belief that their chosen people were best suited to lead, rather than the more common international motivation of directly capturing land and resources.

The Onin War was a very good illustration of this.  Each side was fighting to have their personal favorite named Shogun.  There was no real land or money attached to the title, and the military value of the title was entirely based on the personal loyalty of lower-ranking leadership.  However, whoever was named shogun could have a lot of influence on the future political direction of the country.  Incidentally, they weren't particularly capturing and looting stuff - they were really just trying to kill off the other side's supporters.  While peasants got caught in the middle, generally speaking, neither side wanted to disrupt farming or production - this would undermine the potential benefits of putting their person into a ruling position and so turning Japan into the place they wanted it to be.

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Publishers of computer software (and distributors of other goods and services, for that matter) are a slightly different issue.  They make things hard for both the source of their material (i.e. the developers) and their customers, because their goal is the largest or fastest profit for the least work.  They don't really care how anybody feels about it ... they just want the sales on the book so that they can get their bonus this year.  It's not that they're doing a bad job ... it's that the goals of their job are not what you think.

Rising to the level of incompetence is different.  That's like when somebody does a good job, so they promote him, and keep promoting him until he can no longer do a good job ... but then they don't move him back to the last job where he did well.  They leave him in the new job, which he is not doing so well.  Theoretically, maybe he will get better ... but realistically, they have literally promoted a good employee until he was no longer a good employee.

Same with military.  This guy is good at carrying ammo, so they give him command of the mortar team.  He does that pretty well, so they give him the whole heavy-weapons platoon.  Now he has no idea what he's doing, and will get people killed.  Then they wonder what is wrong with their training.  There's nothing wrong with their training ... he was very well trained for the job he was doing, before they gave him a different one, which he simply did not have the capacity to grasp.  If they had just left him where he was, and maybe paid him by seniority without actually promoting him, he would still be doing a good job and everybody would be happy.  The assumption that good soldiers make good leaders is simply false... some may, true, but the two are largely unrelated.

I see this all the time in education, too.  Just because someone did a fair job in math back in high school, trying to get that Masters degree in physics is a different issue.  But nobody mentions this in college.  It's just sort of assumed that if you survived this level of your education, you're ready to start the next.  Not always ... some people have pretty much reached their potential already, and pushing them further just adds stress as they slowly but certainly fail (or just barely pass but are clearly not qualified to do the job they have studied for).  It's a waste of very real potential to over-extend their reach.

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In the case of writing, really bad ideas still really can't be helped.  However, workable outlines can be saved or killed with the details.  A truly idiotic concept will stay idiotic.  A workable concept - a story line that is predictable, overused, hackneyed, and/or dull, but does make sense - can be saved by making the details good and the writing style powerful.  A really good idea can be killed with stupid details.

Another example, I do a lot of the official photography for the college where I teach.  A photograph of some random object - a building, a pile of textbooks, whatever - can be made to look good with proper lighting, good background, and good composition and camera technique.  Bad technique and composition can ruin a shot of something that should be interesting.  A photograph of nothing in particular just can't be saved, no matter what you do.  "Um ... this is a picture of the ceiling."

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In the case of tactics - business, military, or whatever - I would much rather have help that gets the job done, cleanly and efficiently, than somebody who tries to do the impossible in some outrageous stunt.  The outrageous stunt looks better, especially if it works ... but it's not a strategy you can rely on.

Offline Conners

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #57 on: September 20, 2011, 09:44:11 PM »
The samurai must've been more compassionate than I expected.

Interesting to have a nation which isn't interested in conquest, too.. Usually that'd be taken as a sign that all they can do is contain their own borders. There will be other cases of nations uninterested in conquest, of course (the Greeks, from memory, had more interest in skirmishing with each other than getting more land).

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I know that's the plan, where they have no genuine interest in the medium most often... But if you look at the MMO scene: Everyone was trying to make an MMORPG, and all of them looked like a re-skin of WoW. It costs as much as a 100,000,000 dollars to make one of those... so what happened? No one played them..

They might've gotten a lot of beta testers and some subscribers early on, and still have a small community today most likely. But most don't do a tenth as well as WoW--because most MMO players are WoW players already. They aren't willing to swap over to what is essentially: "the same game, except I'm level 1 all of a sudden... and all my friends aren't on here. I'm going back to WoW". Why do the work of swapping, when you'd still be playing the same game? Getting all your friends to swap could be hard, too.

And of course, the reason they made their MMOs exactly like WoW, was because they were only interested in making money. Publishers will rarely let developers take the risks of designing a unique game--especially when 100 million is on the line. So, they say, "Just copy WoW--we know that system works, and it is popular".


Ah... I see what you mean. You'd think they could give people a trial run with their promotion. Meaning, they let them have a go for a couple of weeks, but if they see more problems than good things, they put you back to your last job (possibly with a higher salary).

Personally, I think schools are terrible with a lot of their systems. Teaching people stuff they will never need, and certainly won't remember how to do it...

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Probably I'm just not considering properly bad writing ideas.

You have a lot of talents.

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Ludicrous stunts should be left till there're no other options. It might be so crazy it takes your enemy completely by surprise... or they might just shoot you. Creativity, none the less, can be a valuable asset in war (one Chinese general painted demon pictures on cows, tied flaming torches to their tails, then drived them into the enemy camp at night... the results were fantastic).

Offline Ron Losey

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Re: A Possible Merge in mods?
« Reply #58 on: September 21, 2011, 05:58:22 AM »
Ironic that you would mention the trick with cows.  There are actually a fairly large number of ancient war stories in China involving cows, oxen and pigs.  The most common stunt was to tie a huge bomb to them, and if there was any risk of the charging animal being stopped, maybe adding some blades to the horns or some such ... just to make sure it goes deep enough behind the enemy line.  Rile the sucker up, and let it go... even if they manage to kill it, odds are the bomb will still be close enough to them to cause casualties.  One ox, half a ton of gunpowder, ceramic bomb casing to produce lots of shrapnel, maybe some tar or raw petroleum for incendiary effects, or toxic chemicals  ... probably the biggest bombs deployed in the ancient world.  You could get a pretty serious casualty radius from a blast like that.  Effectively, it was an animal-powered torpedo.

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The story on those MMO games was a case of stupid several layers deep.  Developers/programmers were told to crank something out fast, and so they did, without necessarily adding anything to the formula.  Publishers boxed it and slapped a price tag on it - problem solved.  Market research greatly over-estimated the demand, based on the growth of the genre when it was new (when high-speed internet first got spread around enough to allow for that sort of thing), and forgetting that new entertainment trends reach market saturation level very quickly (which it did, shortly after).  At each level, the decisions sort-of made sense ... but when you string them all together, it doesn't totally add up.  Nobody was looking at the bigger picture.  An easy mistake to make, really.

The current slump in M&B mod work is similar.  The big-picture issues are killing the details ... in this case, bad world economy has pulled several of the top people out of modding due to real-life concerns, and many others (myself included) have somewhat more constrained time.  Add to this the pressure associated with M&B actually getting published - which adds a lot of business concerns to the formula (i.e. publisher wants to market next update to whoever, so...), and so reduces the mod community's impact on the development.  This in turn means there's just that much more stuff that has to be fixed before you can even start on a mod, and there are a whole bunch of new versions coming out.  While none of this is strange or unexpected, the fact that all these things hit more or less at once means mod-creation motivation has taken a serious hit.  If anyone was actually depending on the mod community to keep the product development alive, they would be in for an ugly surprise.

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The photography wasn't really a "talent" ... I just had to sit down and study it, because if somebody didn't do it, the whole school was doomed.  It was easier to fix the problem than to hunt a new job.  But it's certainly not some natural talent - my camera work is strictly by-the-book.  Fortunately, many centuries of compiled wisdom on art theory means that photography (or any commercial art) by-the-book usually looks pretty good, and modern technology means that it doesn't take a gazillion years of study to get it right ...  a stack of good books and a few hundred hours of free time, and some relatively inexpensive gear, and just about anybody can pick it up.  Seriously.

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How ludicrous a particular stunt seems is a direct product of how bad the situation really is.  A total long-shot gamble seems foolish if you have other options ... but if that's the only option you have left (or the other choices are even worse), it seems a downright logical plan.  Nobody considers it absurd then.

Crazy is when somebody picks the most dramatic, but least likely to work (and/or most costly if it does not), option from the outset.  If such a plan does work (or even if it fails but does better than expected), everyone is impressed.  I mean, "Gee, he actually pulled it off!"  Tragically, depending on the flamboyant long-shot is usually a formula for disaster, and the odds will likely catch up to you next time.  Luck is not a strategy.