Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.

It's annoying AF that smoke makes the SL unwittingly put fire support right on top of himself and his men. It's also annoying to have to be in LOS to call support.

Observer feels more like SL's pet, babysitter or personal bodyguard. It's not an active role at all. Also nothing distinguishes observer from other roles visually.

SO, the sugggestions:

Make SL call fire support using a map. It will fix the problem with smoke putting it in random spots. It will make the SL have to think an apply practical skills - reading a map. It will also allow for the SL to benefit from communicating with his team who can pass the intel with desirable coordinates to him. Team work makes the dream work.

Now, for the Observer. Add the radio as a visual item. Make it a selectable item. Make observer use it to pass SLs order only when it's selected. Possibly, after orders were given, show a prompt for the Observer to click. This would make the SL-Observer team benefit from cover of the rest of the team. It would also make Observer be a more involved, authentic and satisfying role to fulfill.

The downside is that even fewer people would go for those roles... The upside, on top of being awesome, cool, authentic and satisfying, is that it would take more skill, punishing those teams that ignore the roles and rewarding those who put in the effort. It would also make immersion even more awesome and make the SL/Observer a less gun-ho-rushy classes like they are now. And oh boy does the immersion of this game sell it to me. I think it would be great for Sandstorm to make it stand out from the flood of FPS games out there even more.

last edited by Pakislav

Being able to cancel a leader's orders could help save time for accidental clicks on their part or for when the team moves up faster than expected.

Absolutely. I get frustrated whenever I attempt to postpone called support until I get in new position by continuously re-calling it right in front of me.

Totally agree on that. I also created a topic with roughly the same idea, but it got zero attention whatsoever.
I do believe it would make more people use those classes, though. No one use them right now because being a commander is frustrating af as you have to constantly call for an observer, and being an observer is no fun since you are the commander's pet and have to follow him around, doing nothing much more important. When the commander has no situational awareness and wanders to places he shouldn't, you often get killed because of that.

What does SL stands for, by the way ? Commander ?

@grumf said in Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.:

What does SL stands for, by the way ? Commander ?

Yes, Commander. Squad Leader seems more intuitive given the sizes of teams and there being only one rather than Commander -> SL1 + SL2 -> Grunts of SL1 + Grunts of SL2 ;p

I very much agree with the general sentiment of the OP and do believe they would benefit from a rethink rather than adopting the Day of Infamy approach.

At present, I avoid the Commmander & Observer roles as they are. Partly because I don't feel I've learned the maps well enough yet, but also because I just don't find them enjoyable.

@pakislav said in Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.:

Observer feels more like SL's pet, babysitter or personal bodyguard. It's not an active role at all. Also nothing distinguishes observer from other roles visually.

This is very true and makes it possibly the least appealing role. The only thing that distinguishes you is that you get yelled at if you stray off your leash. Not fun.

Make SL call fire support using a map...

Absolutely! This would be MUCH better and more precise.

As for how the roles might be redesigned, my suggestion would be based around a fire support call-in going something like this:

  • Commander: "Give me a strafing run on that ridge line - NOW!"

  • Observer: "Roger that, tasking asset..."

To make it more cooperative in game, split the duties between the two players based of the dialog above rather than making the Observer a puppet like so:

  • COMMANDER initiates by picking the TYPE OF SUPPORT and designates a GENERAL AREA - denoted by a fixed (largish) circle - where he'd like it.

  • OBSERVER would get this request over radio so he doesn't need to be physically close to the Commander. He'd then have X number of seconds to call in the pre-selected strike. It's his responsibility to pick the EXACT LOCATION (within the commander designated area) and TIMING.

Once the Observer makes the call, the fire support would have to come QUICKLY as the delay would already be baked into the cooperative effort.

EDIT: Perhaps the fire support aircraft could start to come on station as soon as the commander gives the order so it would be ready for a quick response when it gets the final coordinates from the observer.

However, as the Observer is no longer tethered to the commander, he might be closer to the action and have better knowledge of current squad position. He could then adjust the exact strike location (or cancel it entirely) to avoid any friendly fire.

Anyway, something like that might work with some tweaking/finesse.

The important thing is that these roles should be FUN and COOPERATIVE rather than the RESTRICTIVE role of the Observer now.

last edited by JLX


Make SL and observer like in RS2 Vietnam, they nailed it imo - You get games with many teams and no teams depending on what people want, SL can be swapped away, no one have to pick those classes if they don't want because there is no limit on rifleman slots, makes the game more fluent and fun. I would never play a game as a commander/observer role, as I like the casual gun and run and hate being told what to do, that would feel like some random low paid job with the boss being a rude teenage brat - Which is a job position I could never be bothered with, commander on the other hand makes you a valuable unit, which does not serve my death seeking needs. If I was forced into any of those spots it would not be fun for anyone who appreciates those roles - Not because I don't understand the usefulness, but don't care about doing anything in a computer game in my spare time that is not fun. Making the roles somewhat independent seems like the best option, can't both teams have some sort of satellite or surveillance drone access, so the commander can do his thing with his map as mentioned. Both those roles feel too RNG or OP in Sandstorm depending on who you play against, as the gunplay is the meat of the game as far as I am concerned.

last edited by Pacalis

@pacalis said in Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.:

Make SL and observer like in RS2 Vietnam...

I never played RS2 Vietnam. Perhaps you could quickly summarize the features that you think made it so good.

My suggestion was based around the existing decision to make fire support require the coordination of 2 people. If you're going to involve 2 people, then make both roles meaningful and fun. Otherwise, you're right. If the only job the second player has is to stay tethered to the first, then just make command a single person job and let the other guy do what he wants.


In RS2:Vietnam

Commander=The leader with a map who calls in fire support (from location of radioman or static radio) and give orders to all SLs.

SL=squad leader (different from commander)
SL can be picked by anyone (you can have the same amount of squad leaders as players on the team as far as I know) and you can name your own squad, then ppl can join your squad if they want, you can kick ppl from your squad, promote a squad member to new squad leader or
leave a squad. You can also lock a squad so no more ppl can join. You have a squad chat channel both for text and voice. Squads are small groups within the team who cooperates. Squad leaders can mark airstrikes for commander.

Static radio (a stationary radio acting as a base for the commander, must be protected to keep commander safe and sometimes it is behind enemy lines in parts of the game) making it possible to perform commands without staying close to a radioman (observer name in RS2:V). So if radioman is dead or uncooperative, commander can still call in support staying close to radiomans dead body or use the static radio=)

Source static radio vs radioman:

Source communication channels:

EDIT: My last reply was about why requiring coordination might be impossible to make fun, as either casuals or ppl who don't like the current way those roles work will not do their job anyway (like me). This squad leader and stationary radio alternative solves that problem as anyone can mark areas and stationary radios exist.

last edited by Pacalis

I hear all of you but have to disagree. I often will play commander if no ones taken the role and the only time I will quit being commander or avoid being commander is when the observer(s) are either completely unaware of how the role is supposed to be used or just plain suck at it. But even then most of the time I am able to find the observer cautiously get close to them make a call and I’m off. As for the smoke that’s the point the enemy can successfully use smoke (if they know what they are doing) to effectively disable you from making support calls. This is very beneficial to the team that made the call for smoke in a lot of scenarios as what could have been a helicopter or gas called on objective is now much harder for the enemy to call in. I also even more often use the observer class and have no problem sticking relatively close to my commander and if I get off course when they call I will once again usually successfully make my way to them so they can make the call where I will then stay alive so the call goes through then go about my own business. I’m not saying it’s all perfect but in my opinion with competent commanders and observers the system works very well I find. As for RS Vietnam I have played much of this and agree it is a pretty good system as well but you are now talking about a game with what was it 64 players? And several SL’s to set markers for the commander if I am correct (been a while). So in my opinion I do not think this is a viable option for this game. These are all just my thoughts and feel free to disagree obviously many of you do lol. Game on!


Yeah, system would obviously need to be tweaked to suit lower amount of players (64 players is correct), I decided to not write about that as it shows without saying. Yes you can have infinite SLs in RS2:V as I mention in post.

@planetcanada said in Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.:

"with competent commanders and observers"

I don't disagree with you, just saying the competence/willingness part is often lacking so this mechanic could benefit from optimization to be viable in all gameplays no matter the team composition. EDIT: Because succesful air support is so vital in many situations and could severely affect the match if team does lack both roles.

last edited by Pacalis

So I think the smoke blocking your fire support is actually kind of a good feature.

@grumf said in Suggestion: SL/Observer roles upgrade.:

Totally agree on that. I also created a topic with roughly the same idea, but it got zero attention whatsoever.

Since the closed alpha I've been complaining about the fire support system. I hate that its just a carbon copy of DOI's mechanic. The whole commander/observer butt-buddy relationship is neither realistic for the modern world nor practical in game and is just plain silly most of the time. As the commander its a pain having to seek out or spam the chat to get an observer, and for the observer its no fun having to be tethered to the commander, not able to play the game for yourself.

The commander needs more of an ordering role and the observer needs more of an executing role. My suggestion is the following: the commander designates a location, which causes some sort of indicator, such as the colored smoke to appear for the friendly team. The observer then, must have general line of site with the designated area and can then call in the support through a player-controlled action.

This means that the commander will take out his binoculars, designate the zone. "Hey observer, fire here." (In an ideal world I'd say he should call out the grid coords and for the map which you can pull up in-game to be land-nav certified just for authenticity, but whatever). The observer then gets a pending fire support "The commander has called ordered this strike on this location, requesting confirmation", either as a subtle waypoint, colored smoke, or whatever. The observer then has a radio which is one of his equipment slots (like the binoculars). He must pull out the radio with line of site and left click in order to officiate and actually call in the strike.

This does a few of things: (1) Makes it so that the commander and observer can be in different places, but still adds complexity as both need to have an angle on the target (2) it increase actual teamwork between the commander and observer, which will become especially helpful once in-game voice chat is fixed (3) may slow down the volume of fire support in a casual game, which I see a lot of people complaining about, though it would be the same with a coordinated team.

I'd still would like a map, but that's a neat idea @thehappybub.