From: Vermont, USA
ORIGINAL: James Crowley
Well, well. The first Combat Mission clone (AFAIK).
Not really, but I certainly understand that it looks that way from the graphics. It's actually not even the first 3D tactical wargame since CM, but it's our first attempt to build a tactical wargame from ground up that plays in 3D. As I've posted in other threads and in the FAQ thread, we did not set out to redo or replace CM.
If you think about it, not only was the original CM released a while ago, but they've had years to refine and expand the engine. For a first release to try to meet and beat that advantage all in one go would basically require the kind of development budget small wargaming companies don't have. However, CM's existence doesn't preclude other 3D wargames existing or being fun or worth playing.
We're not trying for a better CM, but I keep saying that to me it feels more like a Close Combat (although at a company command level) mixed with Panzer General for the campaign system. In other words, it's definitely a wargame and it's historical, but it's not the next step in wargaming hyper-reality.
I have been quite surprised that no publisher, up to now, has gone down the Battlefront route of turn-based, 3-D tactical WW2 combat since the release of CMBO over five years ago. Perhaps because they have covered it so completely with the subsequent CMBB and CMAK releases and the planned CMX2 engine upgrade?
It's certainly a big hurdle to jump. One of the larger software companies could do it easily, but they couldn't justify it based on the sales. Thus, only smaller wargame companies are going to want to do it and from that perspective Battlefront has been able to build up a huge advantage through their investment in the engine and the series. In case it wasn't clear, we all like CM a lot and wish we'd invented it, but we didn't set out to duplicate it - what would be the point?
Is it CM Lite? Or is there more detail/depth as yet unrevealed? This is going to be compared to CM, big time, and if it is to offer a serious alternative it must demonstrate significantly diffferent features beyond being simpler/more fun to play. I really do hope it is not just a dumbed-down version of CM with slightly better graphics.
Hey, I think the graphics are more than slightly better in this case! With that said though, you are using a different yardstick on this than we were using. I think it's all based on expectations, which is why I've said from the beginning what I said above. CM's existence no more prohibits other 3D tactical wargames than the existence of War in the Pacific prohibits other 2D Pacific wargames. Ultimately, variety in design is good for wargamers and CM can remain the most hard-core 3D simulation of WWII while we try to deliver historical gameplay that's designed to also interest some non-hard-core gamers.
Compared to CM, this is less detailed and less hyper-realistic. However, this is as realistic as any wargame short of the CM / WITP level generally gets. It plays historically, it's fun and it comes with a campaign for each side.
What Command and Control mechanisms will there be? Will they reflect a realistic approach or will I, as the player, have a God-like control over all of my forces at all times?
There are limitations based on the orders available, there is a built in delay for changing order types for the Soviets and there are penalties when a commander for a platoon is lost. You give full orders once every 80 seconds, with reaction orders 40 seconds into that, so you don't have God-like control. You can't jump in at any point, as in a RTS, and micro-manage a unit. Planning your moves and reacting when necessary are definitely good things.
Ammo and fuel supply were critical to this campaign, on the German side especially. How will these factors be handled?
Fuel supply is not a concern within this context. Ammo is handled in game and units on either side can run out as each battle progresses. Resupply is not a campaign issue. It's handled automatically between battles. On the other hand, recovery of abandoned vehicles, reinforcements/replacements, etc. are handled at the campaign level.
How, if at all, will air-power be represented?
We're still debating on whether we will have air power in for the release. If it's in, it will be out of sight but with battle effects when it's called in.
The screenies would seem to indicate a maximum force size of 52 units (4 rows of 13). Is that the limit for each side? And will the mix of units be historicaly accurate.
Yes, that's the interface limit, though in theory you could add more in and the game wouldn't break (but they'd overflow the interface). The main reason that exists is to keep performance reasonable.
We've made the unit mix as accurate as we can. If you disagree with any of our choices, editing them is as easy as changing the scenario XML file (just like editing a text file).
There are several references to the player "purchasing" units. I have never really favoured that approach, as tactical commanders of the time were hardly in a position to "shopping list" for their requirements. Will there be the option of pre-made or, better yet, random force selection (again, hopefully historically based)?
Purchasing units is a great thing from a fun campaign perspective. It's not a historical but rather a gameplay decision. With that said, the campaigns each predefine a "core force" which was selected to be historical. That is 'pre-bought' for you at the start of the campaign and the scenarios are balanced around that expectation. Changing the core force to a different force mix is again as easy as editing the XML files for the scenarios in the campaign.
It has already been asked and answered but how good is the AI? I think this will be a critical area, not just from the point of view of providing an opponent but also from the angle of how units act and react. CM's AI is pretty decent on the defence but generally lame on the offence - in common with the vast majority of wargames. Will Panzer Command up the ante at all or will it be the usual "if you want a good opponent play PBEM"?
Well, I think the best games are always against humans, but Koios has a good record with AI on its previous titles. Again, I greatly enjoy CM but the AI in that was always one of the weak points IMHO and I think we can reasonably expect that this one will be better. I can't give you a definite answer because it's still being tweaked and improved. I'd say at this point it's better than CM's was, so I would expect it to improve on that further.
I would always recommend playing a human for the best opposition though, in any wargame to date.
"Winter Storm" was a pretty unequal struggle for the Germans. How will the battles and campaigns be balanced to reflect this?
The German campaign goes up until the Germans really hit the wall. Then, the Soviet campaign starts. The Germans had some very tough fighting but also made some good progress even as the strategic situation was falling apart around them. We give the player a chance to recreate that without forcing them to be run over by the 2nd Guards Army once things really went to pot. Similarly, the Soviet player gets to run the last part of the defense and then the counterattack, dealing with the remaining experienced 57th Panzer Korps troops and other units as they push south to Kotelnikovo.
Finally, please consider a Battle/Campaign "generator". While it is good to be able to put a battle together, picking the units from both sides, there is no surprise in this. Some form of generator would pick one or both sides randomly so you have to fight using what you are given against an unknown foe.
We're including a skirmish level which will allow a wide range of choices for both sides to keep replayability high. It's basically our version of a quick battle.
A full battle generator will have to wait. We have a plan for a much more full-featured system for editing and battle generation, but it will require this release to meet expectations and development to continue. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a good wargame engine.