Thanks Berto! Here's a few additional thoughts on the new 2.01...
Who would have thought there's such a full application behind that innocent looking Main Menu!
Not me, for one.
Here's a little Soap Box:
I've always been a PBEM player, the skirmishes I've had vs AI have been few and far between. The last time I spent significant time vs AI was when I played through all Panzer Leader cardboard game conversion scenarios a couple of years ago. Panzer Leader France 1940 situations were of particular fun!
So when I learned I need to put a thorough testing session vs Front End generated battles, I approached the job with, how should I put it, less than perfect enthusiasism...
Little did I know!
Berto's put a huge effort in, in integrating front end code into game engine code. A lot of stuff was duplicated, country codes for one, but a lot of other variables as well. Variables that until now have been hard coded to the programming code. No variation available, often no information about them available either.
For the front end testing purposes, Berto had to share some code snippets to us, for us to know what date sequences were valid, and what were not.
Of course, we spotted some inconsistencies. For an example, it was possible to have dynamic battles with Russians only as of November 1939.
Soviet invasion of Poland? Nope. Not supported.
First of all, Russia is "Allied", as is Poland. There, of course is the "Axis" Soviets, but they do not have a Campaign24.pdt with them, which is needed for these generated battles. Also, Axis Soviet timeline begun from 11 1939 too.
Battle Generator Reborn
With the current OOBs, the availability for many platoons has been extended to cover a period from 1930 to 1952. However, often there are no higher level organizations available (battalions, divisions, corps, ...) for the whole extended period. And even if there were, how would we go about testing the changes, if the code would be changed to allow for a longer time period for generated battles? Manual testing remember, twice per test case, preferably.
Axis Soviets alone: Scenario size [Bn to Corps, 5 options,], then Engagement type [Meeting engagement to Mountain Pass, 11 options ]. So, there would be 5 * 11 * 2 = 110 test cases if we'd do a perfect testing over Soviets alone. No can do...
So what to do? We left them (for most parts) as-is, improved the error handling, and: made the timelines a moddable parameter file!
And this was when the serious fun started...
Instead of testing existing countries and timelines, that have been there for ages and would work for most part, I decided to try something new. How does this sound:
- Soviet Invasion of Poland, Sept-Nov 1939, Axis Soviets vs Allied Poles
- Poland - Slovakia Border Battles, the same time period but with Axis Slovaks vs Allied Poles
- Finnish - German Lapland war, from Sept 1944 to May 1945, with Allied Finns vs Axis Germans,
- an uprising with Allied Germans vs Axis Germans, May 1945?
Or, West Front:
- Axis Soviets vs US?
Or, Rising Sun:
- Japanese Invasion of Manchuria, Sept 1931 to Feb 1932, with Axis Japan vs Allied Nat. China
- Japanese Dutch East Indies Campaign, from Dec 1941 to March 1942, or
- Soviet-Japanese War in Manchukuo, in August 1945.
All needed was to modify the appropriate timelines.dat, and to add a Campaign##.pdt if one was missing. Or add organizatios to it, if the time period was missing. Easy!
So what did we learn? First: you really do not (!) want to wage your Type 95 HA-GO tanks against the ISU-152s! SU-76s? If you have to. ISU-152s? No way!
What else? That it was tons of fun! What was not available pre-2.01, you can now mod pretty much as you want
Random Battles Like You Have Never Seen Before
And the fun does not stop here. Now you can really tweak your generated battles to the max.
For the Dutch East Indies campaign, I decided to replace the existing Campaign11.pdt with one that only has the Dutch East Indies forces, the Java Defense Force from the Corps11.oob. Now, the generated battles use only elements of this formation. How cool is that:
You can now generate say Afrika Korps random battles too:
- Create the two Campaign##.pdt files, one with Desert Rats only, and one with Afrika Corps only.
- If so preferred, modify the timelines.dat so that it supports the organization timespan there.
- For additional touch, package the respective Unit bases from the Unit Base Mod by XLVIII Pz. Korp for additional authencity:
- And, importantly, package it to be used as a user mod, with JSGME. This way the original files do not get lost and can easily be put back. More of that later.
Editing and Further Modifying Randomly Generated Battles
Wait. There's still some more As you may know, the engine generates the scenario files to go with the generated battle.
The three files are available in the game folder with a Random##.* syntax, one each for scenario (.SCN), organization (.ORG), and map (.MAP).
The Dutch East Indies scenario I created using the RS Battle Generator was the third one I did, hence all the files will have the Random2 prefix. Here's the ORG file from the Dutch East Indies example:
And here's the Scenario Editor view on Random2.SCN file (The new Manual and Arkady's Unit Viewer available to assist, from Help menu)
You can continue to modify the generated scenario files with the various editors, and as the case often is, the result will be all better for it if you do so.
With 2.01 having the -X option (no encrypted files needed for vs-AI games) available to all editors, you can add your own units to the mix.
It is all open now
Installing and Uninstalling Your Mods: JSGME Made Easy
All this modding requires the right tools, and it is our strong recommendation not to tamper with the game file system. There is some 25 000 files there, and one little error can cause the game crashing. Trust us, we know!
Instead, do package your modifications under user mods folder, and use JSGME to enable (install) and disable (uninstall) them. 2.01 will come with even a stronger integration with JSGME mod management tool. All user mods will be packaged under one /Mods subfolder, and the JSGME.exe will be in place in a fire-and-forget mode. The user mods have been repackaged as well:
As you can see, the Black F2 Info Boxes can now be easily deployed to all games, while the other mods such as the Alternative Water remains to be available to enable per game. Using JSGME is easy as a cake, so no need to take unnecessary risks while modifying the game content.
I am really hoping to see a lot of mods out here that use this new feature. Shared fun is more fun, right!
New 2.01 Manual
Oh, I'd forgot: Thanks to Jason, with the 2.01 Update we'll have an updated Manual too!
Jason had to create the whole manual pretty much from scratch. Here's a big hand for him, was quite an effort let me assure you!
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!
Meanwhile, we as the team hope to finally be able to continue with the Modern Wars project, and to leave the Campaign Series to your Tender Loving Care
Campaign series will return in 2015, with the 2.1 content release.
Included there will be among other things Warhorse's complete rework of the EF and RS organizations together with their new 2D graphics. You can already enjoy his work with WF.
As all work makes everyone a dull boy, Warhorse and I are planning to present some previews of things to come, possibly in a format of a user mod (Forgotten Battles 2.0?).
I for one can't wait for his complete rework of the Polish OOB, to cover the whole period. Maybe something that would be worth a sneak peek, don't you think?
< Message edited by Crossroads -- 5/14/2014 7:13:44 PM >