* What is the AA patch?
The 'AA patch' fixes a well known bug in TOAW v3.4 (version 188.8.131.52 to be precise) that allows only units with the Anti-Aircraft (AA) icon to fire at aircraft.
* How to install it:
Unzip and then drop the "AAA2Opart 3" executable in the TOAW folder, make a shortcut to the desktop and double click on it. It will start a version of TOAW with the latest v3.4 that also includes the AA-patch.
* Where it comes from:
This patch is a home made, unofficial modification of the binary "Opart 3" exe file (version 184.108.40.206) made in an effort to find a fix for the so-called AA-bug. It is the result of modifying (or hacking) the latest official TOAW exe file (by me) and as such has nothing to do with regular software development process in general, nor with MATRIX Games company. Matrix was NOT INVOLVED in creation of that patch, it DOES NOT SUPPORT it in any way and is NOT RESPONSIBLE for any possible problems you may encounter if you decide to use the patch. As it is in no way associated with Matrix one may rightly ask what is Matrix's position regarding this patch. That is good question no doubt - and the one for which I don't know the answer yet. Given current situation I hope that Matrix won't take issues with it (nor me personally - if I didn't hope so I certainly would not post it on Matrix official forum after all!) Once Matrix restarts the official development of TOAW, the need for such binary patch will go away as it will be superseded - hopefully soon - by an official release of version 3.5 or similar.
This project started when I looked for a way to improve gameplay in one particular WWII scenario I was interested in. I wanted to play it with version 3.4 but I wanted also to cure the AA problem. For reference (most people reading this know it better then me) the AA problem existing in version 3.4 means that no units other then those with a AA icon ever use their AA-capable equipment to defend itself (and/or their neighbour units) against air attacks. Having some programming background and being crazy enough, I decided it was worth to try fixing it and thus some time later I got working on a first version of the patch. Then I posted timidly a note about the patch on the forum and a few guys responded with interest to try the patch. Some were even kind enough to spend some time testing it and thanks to their help and positive feedback a second, improved and hopefully final version of AA patch was created. This version is the one that avoids Air units to participate in AA fire and is the one that is now distributed.
* How it works
It is fortunately a simple matter: in the original program (version 3.4) a procedure responsible for calculating total low-altitude AA-fire strength when looking through all units in the attacked hex (and sometimes also through units from neighbour hexes depending on map scale) was explicitly checking if given unit belongs to AA-unit class and was skipping all units which did not. That is why only AA units were contributing to 'Flak' fire. The patch changes that behaviour so that now that same procedure allows all units to participate in anti-aircraft fire (as long as they have any AA-capable equipment of course) with the exception of AIR units (without explicit exclusion of AIR units there would be a very ugly effect where air units would participate to AA fire twice, an effect dubbed by players testing the first version of the patch as "SAM effect" or "SAM I-16").
You can verify the simplicity of the patch yourself by using any tool capable of making binary comparisons between files. Comparing the patched file with the original "Opart 3" you should find only three bytes of difference between the two. Yup, only three bytes flipped amongst over 26MB (much ado about nothing one can say!). This is worth to underscore as it may ease somewhat fears of people concerned about security.
* Is it good enough?
Thanks to testing made so far I'm reasonably sure that it works as I intended from a technical point of view (well, because of mentioned above simplicity of the patch there is not that much that could go awry really). However, I'm only a beginner TOAW player and have literally zero scenario design experience so I'm not in position to make a judgment. Feedback of experienced scenario designers gives me enough confidence to think that it may have some good chance to be a solution, if a temporary one, at best until TOAW v3.5 comes out.
However if you are an experienced player or designer, you can decide yourself if the patch is good enough for you and/or for the scenario you're playing or designing. And if you don't feel experienced enough I think you shouldn't consider using the patch unless the designer of a specific scenario you're about to play advices that it is worth doing so.
*** DISCLAIMER ***
Despite all the testing, please remember that I CAN NOT give you any guarantee regarding the patch, and thus I hereby declare that I take no responsibility for any damages or problems (technical, legal or of any other nature) which may result from using the patch. The patch is only shared "as is", so if you have any doubts about it, stay away and don't touch it even with 10-foot pole! Your choice, your risk.
All I can say is that if you find an actual problem with the patch, you can contact me and I will TRY to help and/or to make a fix.
So far I've sent final version of the patch to a few interested parties under the name "AAA2Opart 3". Not the best name to be sure but because I've already used it I think to avoid confusion it's better to stick to that name no matter how silly. Of course if you decide to distribute the patch (with your scenario or otherwise) feel free to adjust the name as you see fit, but please provide either these notes or in other way make sure to explain to potential players the nature of the patch and that it is not supported or endorsed by MATRIX company.
If you have read carefully all the above (particularly the Disclaimer section!) and nevertheless you are still willing to give it a try you can get the final version of the patch from following location: https://www.dropbox.com/s/joedmf8xlfm86pr/AAA2Opart%203.zip
To make it easier to verify the identity of the patch (thus avoiding any mistakes or possible malevolent fakes reposted as the original patch) below are checksums of the (final) patch version:
You can and should take your time and verify patch identity before using it. There are many freely available programs which can help you doing just that (example: WinMD5Free, or google: "free md5 checksum program").
A well deserved "thanks" to all these who expressed their interest in the patch. Without such interest there would have not been any reason for me to polish its first version. I would like to thank specially Fabio Governato and Colonel Klink who both invested their time and knowledge into testing of the patch providing invaluable feedback and words of encouragement. Fabio, Klaus it was fun and pleasure - thank you!