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EricBabe's Developer's Notes on What's New in "Crown of Glory: Emperor's Edition"

 
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EricBabe's Developer's Notes on What's New in "Cro... - 2/27/2009 3:48:29 AM   
Gil R.


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From the ReadMe.pdf file that comes with the game:

We started planning the sequel / expansion-pack to Crown of Glory even before we finished the original game. Long ago I had envisioned detailed naval combat for the original, but we quickly realized that it couldn’t be done within the constraints of schedule and budget. So in the very back corner of my mind I’d always hoped there would be another game in which we could add naval actions. The real impetus for Emperor’s Edition, however, came from the beta-testers and from fans of the original game: together they posted more than a hundred pages of detailed, exciting ideas for improving and elaborating on the original game, and hundreds more pages opining on every aspect of it, from the results of cavalry charges in the snow, to the colors of the Austrian epaulettes that are only visible as a two-pixel-wide band in detailed combat. I owe every tester and fan who helped push along Emperor’s Edition a great amount of gratitude for their ideas, both great and small, for their invigorating interest, and their unflagging energy – thank you all for making Emperor’s Edition a reality. I’d also like to thank Gil Renberg in this regard: he does the important work of cataloging and organizing all of the ideas we receive from testers and players.

One reviewer of the original game also deserves special thanks for spurring us into action on Emperor’s Edition: Lt. Col. Bob Mackey of Armchair General, who wrote:

Naval warfare is not given the attention land warfare is given. The naval combat mode, for example, is much like the ‘quick’ combat mode on land….. I found that very dissatisfying and would have enjoyed the ability to play a ‘detailed’ battle with ships as well, something like the old AH Wooden Ships and Iron Men would have made this the greatest war sim of the Napoleonic Era.

When we started working on Emperor’s Edition in the fall of 2007, one of the first areas we set about improving was the strategic map. During development of Forge of Freedom, our American Civil War game that was a follow-up to Crown of Glory, our Art Director, Jason Barish, perfected a method for combining satellite imagery with period maps, to give the game a look that combined 19th century immersion with 21st century polish. He used a similar technique on the map for Emperor’s Edition, and I think the result is one of the best looking maps I’ve ever seen in a war game. Beyond making the map look pretty, we had numerous ideas for expanding the original map. Emperor’s Edition adds 70 new provinces and sea zones to the game. For the new map we were able to un-squish Spain, which we regrettably had to compress in the original map (much to the chagrin of every war-gamer living on the Iberian Peninsula). We added many new provinces to Russia, making it that much more difficult for the French armies to penetrate to Moscow. We expanded the detail in northern Italy and along the Rhine, and so maneuver warfare in those regions is much more interesting now. We added two provinces to the British Isles, which helps better to simulate the might of the British economy. We also fixed my biggest pet-peeve on the original map: Saxony is now two separate provinces, one on each side of the Elbe River. In addition to the increase in the number of provinces, there is now a road grid that has been added to the map, making strategic movement choices much more interesting.

Beyond adding important detail to the map, we wanted to find as many ways as possible to increase the historical feel of Crown of Glory. The spark behind many of our historical improvements came from a conversation I had with Russ Neer (“Mogami,” as he is known on the Matrix forum) at the Origins convention a few years ago. Russ was a huge fan of the original game, and he helped us give demonstrations at the Matrix booth; the excitement he had when explaining, say, our upgrade system to passers-by was an intensity I couldn’t match even when showing off our own game. What Russ pointed out to me is that in the original game, players really don’t have a feel for why everyone is at war. There’s no sense that everyone is trying to stop the French revolution, and to restore the Bourbon monarchy to the Tuileries. To address this, and to try to increase historical immersion overall, we’ve added more than a hundred historical events. These give the player a much stronger feel for the major events of the Napoleonic era: the economic instability, the chaos and terror of the revolution, the emergence of Napoleon as an avatar of French élan, the slow death of the feudal system, the increasing presence of the United States in European politics, and all the famines and assassinations and coups that make the Napoleonic period one of the most interesting of all ages.

There are many other ways we have made the game more historical. Ideas received from fans and testers were simply invaluable in improving this part of the game:

• We’ve programmed the strategic A.I. to try to act a bit more like the historical leaders it is simulating: so Turkey, Spain, and Sweden are much less likely to go venturing across the map.

• Militia units are restricted to a nation’s conquered territory, and cannot be added to corps/armies. This makes the militia into home-defense units, and helps to give them a much different feel from regular infantry.

• We’ve found a way to add dozens of large-scale drawings of Napoleonic infantry and cavalrymen to the game. We found that some players really enjoy looking at Napoleonic-era uniforms that are correct down to the number of buttons and color of the piping, and our artist, Rebecca Williams, did a wonderful job capturing the splendor and variety of Napoleonic uniforms. I only regret we didn’t find more places to use these images during the game.

• We added a rule so that powers that win a war but don’t actually do much to contribute to the fighting won’t gain very many victory points. This negates the strategy of a small country joining into a war at the point when it becomes obvious who is going to lose so that they can help share in the spoils. In particular, it keeps Spain from gaining major concessions from Austria in the spring of 1806.

• We added rules for march attrition that grow more severe at the harder difficulty levels: players might not like having their armies dwindle away as they move across the map, but their anxiety at losing men with every move gives them more in common with the historical commanders that Emperor’s Edition is simulating. Combined with new rules for harsher Russian winters, the need to occupy both Moscow and St. Petersburg to obtain the full reduction of Russian National Morale, and the increased distance of Moscow from central Europe, the invasion of Russia is now much more difficult to pull off successfully.

• It’s now harder to develop the economy of highly feudal nations, such as Turkey. It’s still possible to improve the Turkish economy significantly, if you have the luxury of being able to focus your attention on it, but this hopefully will put to rest the strategy of turning Turkey into an economic giant in the first ten years of the war.

• Fortresses are much less likely to appear in most battles now; however, when you’re at a state of total war with a nation, now they are more likely to appear. The result is that there are many more battles involving assaults on fortresses in the Peninsular Theater (when France is at a state of total war with Spain), and far fewer fortress assaults along the Danube and in the hinterland of Russia.

• We’ve added a reinforcement delay in detailed battles, so that reinforcements no longer start showing up right away. Reinforcement delay is reduced significantly when the unit is attached to a corps rather than directly attached to an army, simulating another important historical advantage of the Corps D'Armée system.

• We’ve made skirmishing harder for a nation’s forces to learn: – it now requires and is augmented by several upgrades – and also increased the utility of deploying skirmishers. This makes the French skirmishing advantage in 1805 much more decisive, and the scramble by the allies to match French skirmishing doctrine has a nice historical feel to it.

• We made Switzerland and Lapland “high attrition” provinces that make it much harder to operate in and through these areas. This makes large-scale invasions of these areas a much less-frequent event.

• Guerrillas now cannot be organized into corps/armies. This was a tough decision for us to make, because historically many guerrilla units were, in fact, incorporated into regular military echelons. With this change, guerrilla units can still fight alongside regular units defensively, but it makes it much harder to take guerrillas on major offensives, which I think does have some historical precedent.

• We added a new victory condition, entitled Path of Napoleon. In order to win, those playing France must accomplish not only everything that Napoleon did, but everything that Napoleon wanted to do. Part of the problem with the historical feel of the original game was that players were never forced to over-reach, and it was much easier to win the game by playing France a little more conservatively than Bonaparte ran it – don’t try to invade Egypt, don’t fight a two-front war with Spain and France. The Path of Napoleon victory condition forces the player try to do it all.

• The most significant way we’ve increased the historical feel of the game is through the improvement of the scenarios. Mike Zeddies, our Production Assistant, and one of our beta-testers, Iñaki Harrizabalagatar, did an amazing job digging up information on division names and commanders for perhaps a thousand or more divisions from every period in the Napoleonic era. We also have incorporated extensive data on naval orders-of-battle. It’s a much more immersive game ordering units with names like “Nansouty’s Cuirassiers” and “Gardanne’s Division” than it was when units all had bland names like “1st Cavalry.” In all this we found the orders-of-battle compiled by George Nafziger to be an invaluable research tool.

• We’ve added scenarios for 1803 and 1812, both of which present unique challenges for every nation in the game. We’ve also added scenarios that allow players to try their hand at running some of the minor powers in the game, so you can play Bavaria, Denmark, the Netherlands, or Poland in 1792, or Bavaria or Portugal in 1805. It’s very hard to play the minor powers in these scenarios, but this was one of the most frequently-requested-features that we had, and it does give a player a special sense of accomplishment to find a way to turn Bavaria into a major contender on the continent by 1815. We kept the “balanced” 1820 scenario from the original game, and added an alternate history what-if scenario premised on the restoration of Poland to major power status.

• Even the music in the game better reflects the historical period. On the Classical side, we’ve added a lot of Boccherini, who is perhaps the most emblematic composer of the era, along with orchestral versions of works by Lully, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, and Handel. Although Tchaikovsky is not period, we’ve also found a great orchestration of The 1812 Overture; I’m sure nobody will object to the inclusion of this work in the music roster. We’ve also added some national period music, like Rule Britannia, British Grenadiers, God Save the Tsar and La Marseillaise. For modern music, we’ve added several blood-stirring pieces to the detailed battle music roster; these works have a great sweeping, action-oriented cinematic feel to them.

The economy of Crown of Glory received much attention in Emperor’s Edition. Among players who are big fans of the original game, the complexity of the economy is perhaps one of the most-cited features that they enjoy. At the same time, the number-one complaint by people who were put off by the strategic level in Crown of Glory was this very same complexity and the necessity of dealing with the game’s economic model. The latter wanted a game that let them focus on warfare and diplomacy. In the Emperor’s Edition we’ve addressed this dichotomy among players in two ways:

• We’ve added a “Simple Economy” mode to Emperor’s Edition, inspired partly by the success we had with Forge of Freedom’s simplified economy system. The economic model of the first game is still around as the “Advanced Economy” for the players who enjoy it. The Simple Economy reduces the choices players need to make, and the parameters they need to track, to be comparable to the economic models of strategic-level table games that cover the Napoleonic period.

• We’ve added several new economic parameters that function both in Simple and Advanced Economy modes: Experience, Unit Cost Increase, and Mobilization Limit. These help keep the economies of the game constrained to historical levels without adding any significant burden of complexity. We’ve also eliminated most of the factors that made economic planning difficult in the original game, so, for instance, the weather effect on economy is gone in Emperor’s Edition.

We improved many aspects of combat on land in response to an enormous amount of player feedback in this area.

• We added the option to play battles at the brigade-level. To accomplish this, divisions are automatically split into brigades at the start of the battle according to their strength. We made unit properties like formations and skirmishers less important in division-level combat, and added a rule that requires divisions to have to make a morale-based check in order to get their full movement rate every turn. These rule changes give brigade- and division-level combats a very different feel from each other.

• We imported the concept of special abilities from Forge of Freedom. Units now can be granted two of fifty abilities that improve their performance in one limited but significant way. When reading accounts of Napoleonic campaigns one always comes across accounts of units with particular reputations: one reads of Napoleon’s amazement at the stubbornness of the Austrian Grenzers, who, although undisciplined, refused to rout when other, more seasoned and better trained units were retreating all about them; of the fearsome reputation of the Cossacks among the French people; or of British divisions that met cavalry charges by calmly remaining in line-formation and holding their fire until the last possible moment, instead of scrambling to form an impromptu square. With special abilities like stubborn, bloodthirsty, and iron wall, Emperor’s Edition can emulate units that were renowned or dreaded for some particular virtue on the field of battle.

• We added the ability to order reaction moves in detailed battle at both the division- and brigade-levels. This makes it harder to perform outflanking maneuvers against an enemy line, makes advancing to point-blank range with the enemy a much more dicey endeavor, and gives players an entirely new range of options when planning their operations.

• We’ve added cavalry screens at both the strategic and tactical levels. This was another frequently-requested-feature, and I hope players will be pleased with the increasing historical feel that cavalry screens add to the game. Cavalry screens can add a great bit of drama to detailed battles, as a player discovers at the last possible moment that the enemy guns weren’t where he thought they would be, or that the enemy center has shifted off the heights and is marching to the player’s flank.

• Again importing a valued feature from Forge of Freedom, we’ve added a check that generals make before battle in order to gain an advantage in the upcoming engagement. This makes the role of generals more direct, and helps to simulate the role of “grand tactics,” and the reality of the Napoleonic era that planning in the march to a battle was just as important as considerations in the battle itself.

We’ve made many other general improvements to the game. There are several new screens for organizing and commanding your units and provinces. We’ve made many improvements to the user interface, so that many tasks that formerly required two or three mouse-clicks now only require one. There are many new tool-tips and keyboard shortcuts. Players can issue group-movement commands in detailed battle now. We’ve added the ability to zoom the maps at the detailed and strategic levels. The PBEM mechanism has been streamlined, so players can take their moves simultaneously. We’ve also added an ambitious in-game help system and provided an hour of video tutorials explaining everything you need to know in order to jump into a game of Emperor’s Edition. Based on feedback from our game Forge of Freedom, we’ve also made a number of improvements to both the strategic and tactical A.I.

More than any of these aforementioned improvements, however, detailed naval actions are the crown jewel in Emperor’s Edition. To design our naval action rules, we first tested every major set of Age of Sail miniatures and hex-based set of rules we could find. We didn’t want our system to deviate too much from what veterans of tabletop naval actions would expect, yet at the same time we wanted a system that was accessible to those who are not naval war-gaming buffs. Furthermore, we wanted a set of rules that could recreate everything we found enjoyable about the tabletop games: to reflect the tension, intensity, tough-decisions, gritty realism, and fury of a Napoleonic naval action. I think that the rules we finally adopted obtain all these goals, and I hope that players can enjoy fighting out fleet actions in Emperor’s Edition just as much as we’ve enjoyed designing that system.


Happy war-gaming!
Eric Babe
Western Civilization Software
February 27, 2009
194th anniversary of the Battle of Orthez

(Posted by Gil R. on February 26, 2009, the 194th anniversary of Napoleon's escape from Elba)
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