From: Calgary, AB, Canada
Yes, and this is how you do it:
Explanation of Linked Campaign Game files
The purpose of this document is to explain, as simply yet thoroughly as possible, all the different files (both data & graphical) that you will need to create in order to author a fully functional, and "professional" looking, "Linked Campaign Game" (LCG).
In order to help make these explanations easier to understand, assume that the name of the Linked Campaign Game is "sample". Just about every file created for this LCG will contain the name of it ("sample"). This will make it easier for you to find the various files of your LCG in Windows Explorer, as you can sort them alphabetically and they will all group together. Furthermore, the program will not function properly if the files are not named properly.
The files of a complete Linked Campaign Game are:
sample.LCG This is the main data file for the Linked Campaign Game. This file is explained in detail below, on a line by line and column by column basis. Essentially, it is this data file that gives important information in the LCG (core org ID, player's side, sides involved, start date, and "links" the scenarios of the LCG together. Having a fully-functional "LCG" file for your LCG is critical. This is "the tie that binds".
sampleLCG.bmp This is the graphical map file you will need to supply in order to be able to plot the locations where the different battles of your LCG take place - not to be confused with all the *.map files you need to actually play the scenarios "on".) Size of the file is 624 pixels wide by 362 pixels high. Art should be saved as BMP in 256-color format.
sample_patch.bmp This is the (optional) "unit insignia" graphical file that you should supply. The intention is that this "patch" be a divisional/unit insignia or "shoulder patch" of the "core" organization featured in the LCG. The LCG will function properly without this file, but it simply adds a nice touch to have the historically accurate unit insignia showing up on the "Character Screen". Size of the file is 122 pixels wide by 99 pixels high. Art should be saved as BMP in 256-color format.
sample_endgame.bmp This graphical file appears after the last scenario of the LCG is completed. In all official TalonSoft LCG we tried to find a picture that was historically accurate for the involved unit campaign being simulated. This graphic is displayed after completion of the last battle of the LCG, concurrently with the "end game message" (which briefly describes how the player fared in the campaign). Size of the file is 271 pixels wide by 240 pixels high; note however that this dimension includes the beveled-edge frame. I'd suggest you actually do your art 250 pixels high by 217 pixels wide, and then paste it into one of our "endgame*.bmp" files, then rename it using the "save as" option. Art should be saved as BMP in 256-color format.
sampleLCG_*.scl (where * is 1 or 2-digit scenario number) These are the actual scenario files of the LCG, and are basically identical to normal "SCN" files except for the file "extention" and the date of the file. Instead of the normal “16 February, 1943” date format (that non-CG files need to display properly in the “Scenarios” screen) the date for a scenario of an LCG must be in numerical format (such that “16 February, 1943” would appear as “430216” - year/month/day).
IMPORTANT NOTE: The file extension of an LCG's scenario is .scl -- rather than the .scn of a normal stand-alone scenario. This is necessary so that LCG scenarios do not appear in the "Scenarios" screen, where only stand-alone scenarios are displayed. Note that the "Open" window of the West Front Scenario Editor allows you to view either "scn" or "scl" type files; toggle the "Files of Type..." dialog at the bottom of the "Open" window. You can edit the scenario of an LCG when it is an "scl" or "scn" file; it matters not. However, for the scenario file to be able to be accessed by your LCG it must have its extention changed from "scn" to "scl" before the LCG is played.
sampleLCG_*.org (where * is 1 or 2-digit scenario number) These are the organization file(s) used for your LCG. Since each LCG is revolves around a single organizational unit (hereafter referred to as "core org") -- for instance, a battalion -- that the gamer "controls" in all battles of this LCG, all of the components of the "core org" need to remain stable. It is only the units of the "core org" that have their losses "remembered" from one battle to the next, and it is only the units of the "core org" that are eligible to receive replacements.
Normally, your core org should be part of (inside) a larger organization; e.g., "inside" a regiment which is inside a "division"; thus you will have auxillary units to help the core unit. You can freely add or delete other supplementary organizations (friendly and/or enemy) to the overall org file -- but do not mess with the "core org" once you have begun to lay out a scenario of the LCG.
One recommended way of doing the org file for an LCG is to add all units for each side that you anticipate needing for the entire LCG, and save that org file as the master file, and simply import it into each scenario constructed. If you later find that you need to add new "supplementary" units (for either side), it is suggested that you simply open the core org in the OrgEditor, add the new units, and then save the file using the "Save As" menu option, changing the number as appropriate.
The number of the org file imported by an SCL file when it is begun does not have to match the number of the SCL file (but you may find it helpful if it does).
sampleLCG_*.map (where * is 1 or 2-digit scenario number) These are the map files used for your LCG's battles, and are no different than the map files used for other "stand alone" scenarios. In fact, if desired, you can import any "map" file in West Front to use as the battleground for the scenario.
The number of the map file imported by an SCL file when it is begun does not have to match the number of the SCL file (but you may find it helpful if it does).
sample.CCL This is not a file that you have to create, but instead is created automatically by the program whenever a new LCG is started (when its first scenario is launched). It is in this file that the pertinent data for an on-going LCG is stored (current date, list of actions, victory in each scenario played, etc). The default name is "Campaign.CCL", but the program allows the player to specify a name other than this default, of course.
Now let's look at small part of an "LCG" file, and dissect it carefully. To follow along, it is suggested that you open your West Front directory, and open up one of the LCG files in a basic text editor, like "NotePad". In the explanation below, the copy taken from the LCG file will be shown in bold; an explanation of what each piece of copy means will be in italics.
___________ LCG FILE EXPLANATION______________
199 Line 1 supplies the "unique" ID number for this LCG's "core org" (see SPECIAL NOTE, below).
10 Line 2 of the LCG file gives the nationality of the side the player will command (see chart 1 at bottom)
1 Line 3 gives the "Command Level" of the LCG (see chart 2 at bottom).
Killer Dogs Line 4 is simply the title of the LCG that shows up in the New Campaign screen.
10 01 Line 5 lists the nationalities involved (player's nationality must be listed first; see chart 1)
0 Line 6 lists the starting region ID (see chart 3). Not all scenarios need be confined to this region.
441106 Line 7 is the start date (2-digit # for year/month/day); date at left would be 1944 November 6
Historical text copy goes here. Do not put "returns" in the historical text line. Suggest you edit the LCG file in "Notepad", so it is saved as basic text. The line after the Historical text must be blank (note blank line below, before the first "scenario data line" begins). Note that the copy in each Scenario Data Line is "space delimited", meaning that a space (not a tab character) must be between each data entry in the string of text.
1 sample_1.scl/ 33 45 -8 3 2 4 5 6 Somewhere
A _______B_______/ __C__ _____D______ E _____F_____
Field A: scenario number (referenced in Field D). One "scenario data line" must be made for each scenario of the LCG.
Field B: scenario file name (complete & exact file name of scenario, including "SCL" extension), followed by backslash.
NOTE: file name in Field B must be immediately followed by a backslash, then a space.
Field C: "x" and "y" pixel coordinates of this scenario's location ("33" for "x" and "45" for "y" in the example above). This is where the "dot" for this scenario's location will appear on the graphical map that is displayed before the scenario launches.
NOTE: to determine pixel coordinates, open "samplelcg.bmp" (graphical map) file in "Paint". As you move the cursor note that "x" and "y" coordinates are displayed in the bar along bottom right of the Paint interface. When you have the cursor in the proper position on the map for where the location is, note the x,y coordinates, and input them in field C of the LCG file.
Field D: This determines what scenario is played next, depending on the victory level achieved in this scenario, in the following order: Major Loss, Minor Loss, Draw, Minor Victory, Major Victory. It is these "field D" numbers that provide the actual "linking" thread in the LCG. For instance, in the above example, the "field D" copy of "-8 3 2 4 5" specifies that a Major Loss will result in the LCG being terminated (see note below); a Minor Loss results in the gamer playing scenario 3 next; a draw results in scenario 2 being next; if a minor victory is achieved in scenario 1 then scnario 4 will be played next; if instead a Major Victory is acheived in scenario 1 the player proceeds to scenario 5 of this LCG.
NOTE1: Each entry in Field D can be the same number (e.g., if, regardless of outcome, you want the player to proceed to a certain scenario), or each can be different (in which case each outcome would "branch" the player to a different "next" scenario). The same logic applies to "minus numbers".
NOTE2: A "minus number" in Field D (e.g., "-8") tells the program that this level of victory for this scenario results in the termination of the campaign. The "end game message" displayed corresponds to the number given.
Field E: This is the number of replacement SP received before this scenario begins ("6" in the above example). This number should normally be 0 in the first Scenario Data Line.
Field F: Gives the location where scenario occurs (it is this info that is displayed in the Campaign History screen).
Following the last Scenario Data Line are an indefinate number of "end game messages", each preceded by a -#, that are used by the program only when the final scenario of the LCG is completed. For example, the following message will be displayed whenever a -8 appears in Field D and that outcome is achieved in that scenario:
-8 Your failure to perform like a stupid hero has cost your wife a husband.
SPECIAL NOTE: How to find your Core Org's Unique ID#
In order for the program to know what organization of an Org file is the Core Org, the Core Org's unique ID number must be listed on line one of the LCG file. It is critical that this unique ID number is the same number, and that the compostion of the Core Org remains constant in all Org files of the LCG.
Once you have created and saved the Org file that contains the LCG's Core Org, open that Org file in a text-editing program (I'd suggest using Notepad). You now need to locate, within this Org file, the Core Unit. Once the file is open, open the text program's "find" or "search" dialog. Type in the name of your Core Org. If your Core Org has a descriptive name, such as "Killer Mice" or "Northumberland Rifles" (that will not be part of any other org's name) it will make this job easier. It may be, however, that your Core Org is simply the 2nd Battalion of the 36th Regiment. If so, I'd suggest you search for "36th Regiment". When that is found then look further below it in the file for the 2nd Battalion. Alternatively, you can open the org file in the Org Editor, locate the Core Org and give it a temporary discriptive name, save the file, and then open that file in the text program, and seach for the temporary discriptive name. It should not be hard to find now!
An org's unique ID number is the 2nd number given on the line listing the Org's name. For instance, in the line below...
B1012003 199 5 3rd Battalion
...the 3rd Battalion's unique ID number is "199" (not to be confused with the first number, in this case B1012003, which is the battalion ID number, and is given for all battalions of that type). It is this unique ID number that goes on the first line of the LCG file.
Chart 1: West Front Nationality ID # key
08 French (1940)
16 Vichy French
18 Allied Italian
19 Free French
Chart 2: Command Levels
Chart 3: West Front Regions*
0 NW Europe
* Not all scenarios of a LCG need to be within the same region. If they are not, we suggest simply listing the region of the first battle of that LCG. It is the *.map file that actually determines the region of the scenario, as each WF map file is created for a specific region (NWE, Med or Desert).