HAM 2 began with a series of revamps concerning the malfunctioning Suppression Fire system in Jagged Alliance 2. It ended up being the single most important feature in HAM, and has since received a variety of upgrades and extra features. Suppression Fire is almost synonymous with HAM, as it changes combat completely, and as of HAM 3 is not featured in any other existing mod.
There have been many discussions in the past few years about JA2's limited use of suppression fire. Players reported occasionally using "indirect" fire to slow enemies down, but the true effectiveness of this method has been under constant debate for quite a while.
The most noticeable effect of Suppression Fire in JA2 seemed to be to cause an enemy to drop a stance (Standing to Crouched to Prone), but overall it was impossible to use Suppression Fire reliably in combat.
The advent of Auto-Firing weaponry in JA2 1.13 was a welcome addition to many, but due to the enigmatic nature of Suppression-Fire, it amounted to little more than a waste of bullets, or a method to hurt several enemies at the same time (using spread-fire volleys). As a result, Burst-Fire and Automatic-Fire were mostly useful in close-quarters combat, and the "standard" tactics involving long-distance head-shots and other passive combat methods remained as strong as ever. The game seems to rely mostly on well-aimed single shots rather than volume of fire, in stark contrast with real-world modern warfare.
Code Exploration reveals Shocking Truth Edit
At one point during the discussion about Suppression Fire issue, Headrock attempted to dispel the enigma by examining the source code itself, and trying to understand how Suppression Fire actually works in JA2.
During this exploration, he discovered that the main reason why suppression is not felt enough in the game was because it was BROKEN.
In fact, any character could only be suppressed once or twice in the ENTIRE GAME, after which they would suffer no further suppression at all!
This prompted the creation of HAM 2, whose primary features revolved around reworking the entire Suppression System, adding important realism elements, and improving the effectiveness of Automatic Fire dramatically as a result.
How Suppression is Supposed to Work - Quick OverviewEdit
Suppression Fire in JA2 was geared almost entirely into depleting the target's APs, forcing them to stay immobile. Suppression is accumulated through nearby-passing bullets, and later translates into AP loss, morale loss, and stance change.
With JA2 Suppression, the end goal is to drain as many APs from the target as possible. If the target's APs drop below 5 (using JA2's original 25AP system), they begin to lose APs from their next turn.
Unfortunately, in regular JA2 1.13, this was never really manifested - a target could only lose 8 APs in their entire life due to suppression, which made the system completely irrelevant.
HAM 2 - New System to Handle Suppression-Fire Edit
"HAM Suppression" is the name of the revamped system introduced in HAM 2 and continually improved through all subsequent HAM versions. It completely reworks the original system, turning it into a viable tactical tool, and making JA2 turn-based combat more akin to real-world modern warfare.
The most primary and central fix introduced by HAM Suppression allowed the effects of suppression to accumulate with each suppressive attack. This was the intention of the original JA2 Suppression system (if comments in the code are anything to go by).
Several new Suppression Effects were also added, to increase realism and make Suppression Fire more dangerous and thus more important as a tactical tool.
Most importantly, suppression fire could now cause a character to go into negative APs, meaning that they would lose APs at the start of their next round, potentially even the ENTIRE next round. In addition, the concept of Suppression Shock was introduced, to make suppressed characters less useful on the battlefield as they would be in real-life.
The AI was also trained to use Automatic-Fire more often, increasing its deadliness in a Suppression-Enabled combat environment. The enemy benefits greatly from this feature, especially due to its frequent numerical superiority.
Finally, all effects of suppression were externalized to INI settings and APBP Constants. This allowed the potency of Suppression to be controlled directly by the player. This is due to the profound effect that Suppression has on the tactical combat gameplay. With these settings, one could increase Suppression Effectiveness to make a game that is much more dependent on steady fire and flanking (as in the real world), or reduce the Effectiveness to create a game that more closely resembled the original JA2.
Fixing JA2's "stuck" suppression systemEdit
Initial work in HAM 2 was geared towards allowing a character to be suppressed more than once in his lifetime. Without solving this problem, no suppression system would have any real tactical relevance.
To do this, a command was added in the code that resets the Suppression Counter, a value that tracks how many APs the character has lost so far due to suppression so far. The original JA2 never reset this counter. During calculations, this counter would cause further suppression to be ignored for the rest of the game, making the character invulnerable to suppression after having lost 8 APs (a meager amount)
Another command was added to reset the amount of Suppression Points accumulated by passing bullets.
Initially, a setting was added to allow players to determine when and where these commands would be triggered. After considerable testing, HAM 3.5 removed the setting and placed the commands in a specific location in the code which was deemed the most suitable and effective.
Suppression Shock and other new Suppression Effects Edit
- Main Article: Suppression Shock
Once Suppression was accumulating properly, it was possible to rework its range of effects. The original effects of AP Loss, Morale Loss and Stance change were augmented by a series of new effects, placed under the collective title of "Suppression Shock".
Shock is caused whenever the character lost APs under suppression fire. As shock increases, the character becomes less useful on the battlefield.
As of HAM 3.5, Some of the effects of Suppression Shock include:
- Loss of ability to aim accurately at enemies
- Loss of ability to interrupt enemies
- Loss of vision and situational awareness
- Increased vulnerability to suppression fire
In addition, a shocked character is actually harder to hit. Suppressed characters may be ineffective in combat, but they are also harder to kill.
All Shock effects are persistant, and may linger on for several turns. Shock is gradually diminished, and will eventually disappear if the target manages to avoid further suppression fire.
Increased Impact of AP LossEdit
HAM Suppression, like the original JA2 version, works mainly by reducing an enemy's APs. Suppression Fire sucks out the target's APs, which he might have otherwise used for movement or return-fire.
By HAM B2.8, it was possible to manually set the number of APs a character could lose to any single suppressive attack, and the amount that could be lost to suppression over an entire turn.
A third setting controlled the minimum number of APs a character could have (ever). The intention was to increase the importance of AP loss by allowing characters to lose a substantial amount of APs off their next turn, potentially rendering them unable to perform any actions during their next turn at all.
Unfortunately, the code itself presented some difficulties with this, so the goal was never achieved in HAM B2.8. This was fixed in HAM 3, where the minimum AP limit was reduced far enough to allow characters to lose their entire next turn.
A character who has lost their entire next turn is referred to as "Pinned Down". This character is effectively neutralized, allowing the player some time to flank and eliminate that character.
AI uses more Suppression Fire Edit
Suppression Fire is a universal effect that works on any character, player-controlled or otherwise. Because of its strong impact on tactical gameplay, the AI was adjusted to make use of suppression fire more often.
The AI already has a frequent numerical advantage, which is very important in all Suppression Tactics. More men = more firepower.
In addition to this, the AI was taught to use Auto-Fire more frequently, to further increase volume of fire. The chance of enemies running away due to morale loss was reduced as well, to avoid situations where experienced enemy combatants flee the battle after receiving Suppression from the player.
Militia and Enemies both receive this AI upgrade.
In the future, with improvements to overall AI tactics, it may be possible to teach the AI proper use of Fire-and-Maneuver, although currently the AI already seems to have gained tactical effectiveness due to its increased willingness to use suppression en-masse.
Controlling the Importance/Effect of Suppression Edit
Until HAM 3, the new HAM Suppression System and its many sub-features had the largest number of INI settings of all HAM features. These INI settings allow controlling the potency of suppression fire and its many effects.
By adjusting these variables, it is possible to decide how powerful the effects of Suppression Fire are, and thus determine the importance of Suppression Fire on the tactical battlefield.
Using the default HAM settings, the Suppression System significantly changes the tactical gameplay of JA2. It reduces reliance on long-distance aimed shots, and puts more emphasis on tactical coordination, teamwork, flanking, numerical superiority, and even proper logistics. Players are free to change the settings to reduce (or increase) the prevalence of these gameplay aspects.
It is also possible to turn Suppression off completely, for players who wish to continue using JA2's original combat tactics.
HAM 3.4 - Suppressing with Explosives Edit
HAM 3.4 introduced a new sub-feature, which allowed suppression to be caused by blast-type explosives (Frag Grenades, TNT, Flashbangs, etcetera). This increases the importance of all blast weapons in a HAM Suppression environment.
The amount of suppression inflicted depends on the target's distance from the center of the explosion, as well as the relative radius of the blast.
HAM 3.5 added an INI setting to control the potency of explosive suppression.
HAM 3.5 - Second System Revamp Edit
HAM 3.5 began with a reworking of the suppression system, in particular the accumulation of Suppression Shock. The new system incorporates all sub-features so far, and applies new (smarter) calculations for balance and better gameplay.
In addition, HAM 3.5 renders several Suppression System INI settings obsolete, simplifying player-adjustments to some extent.
The New Suppression System is very complex, and involves many new concepts that players may not be familiar with.
- The original, BROKEN suppression system as existed in the original game. Removed entirely in JA2 1.13 on April 1, 2009.
- The new Suppression System mechanics as introduced by HAM 2. Integrated into JA2 1.13 on April 1, 2009. Revamped again in HAM 3.5.
- Any single attack at the character which has the potential to cause at least some degree of suppression. Any single ranged attack (a single-shot, a burst, or an auto-fire volley) is considered a suppressive attack. In HAM 3.4, this includes any single explosion.
- Accumulated individually for each character, through bullets passing nearby or (as of HAM 3.4) nearby explosions. They measure the amount of suppression being directed at the character, and are later transformed into all other Suppression Effects.
- A value representing the character's resistance to Suppression Fire. Depends mostly on the character's Experience Level, morale, and personality traits. As of HAM 3.5, depends also on the status of nearby allies, and on the character's movement speed.
Suppression AP Loss
- The most basic and central effect of Suppression Fire. The amount of APs lost to a single Suppressive Attack are calculated by comparing the Suppression Points accumulated from that attack to the character's Suppression Tolerance. As of HAM 3, AP loss can send the character into negative AP values, reducing the number of APs he will have at the start of the next turn.
- Caused as a secondary effect based on AP Loss, this value is used to calculate further, long-lasting effects of suppression. In general, shock decreases a character's effectiveness, while making the character harder to hit. Shock slowly disappears over a period of one or more turns.
- A character with too much Suppression Shock is said to be cowering. This state has several effects, most importantly reducing that character's resistance to further Suppressive Attacks. You will receive an on-screen message when a character (friend or foe) is cowering.
- A character who has lost so many APs that he will have 0 APs at the start of his next turn. This character is effectively neutralized. Further suppressive attacks against this character will not cause any more AP loss (but may cause suppression shock). You will receive an on-screen message when a character (friend or foe) is pinned down.
- A value that measures the amount of suppression received during the current turn. In JA2, failure to reset this counter caused characters to become invulnerable to suppression. This was fixed in HAM 2, and later completely removed in HAM 3.5.
- An INI-set value that determines the overall potency of suppression fire. It can be freely increased or reduced to determine how effective, and hence how important, suppression fire is in JA2/HAM combat. It can also be used to turn HAM Suppression off entirely.
- Bullets don't distinguish between friend and foe, they scare everybody. If Characters A and B are on the same team, then Friendly Suppression occurs when bullets fired by Character A on the way to their target happen to pass next to Character B. Character B can only avoid being suppressed by those bullets if he is close enough to Character A.
- One of the effects of suppression. If enough APs have been lost, the character drops stance, going from Standing to Crouched to Prone positions, if possible. Originally, this made suppressed characters harder to hit while making them more accurate at the same time. In HAM, dropping stance can save your life, but it sure doesn't help you fight.