Well.... I guess there is no one out there who is better able to report on what is new with the Campaign System than I am. And while I would like to tell you that we went in and just souped it up like an old classic car, I'm afraid the truth might not make you all as happy as you might like. What we did want to do was provide a product for you that would run well and have a lot of new features. That I think we achieved.
It has been mentioned that the Campaign Series is an old game system and I have to admit that such is true. But isn't it remarkable that the game has such replayability that it continues to entertain us as long as it has? The game system is quite and elegant and despite its age (in game years) she remains a grand old lady with quite a large following. The design adapts fairly readily to a large number of player mods that have been created throughout the years, and while it may have its limitations, I believe that there is still quite a bit that we can do with it. I like working with it, and now that I am actually able to redo some of the code, I have a number of interesting changes that I'd like to implement in order to make it a better product. At the same time however, I don't want to destroy the flavor of the original game that has attracted so many of us and there are a number of areas I'd like to leave untouched. Many of these involve areas that remain controversial amongst many players and always seem to start up arguments on some of the message boards. I don't think it's our business to try and force a decision on anyone and therefore will just let things stay as they are.
Jason and George have put forth a great deal of effort putting in the new equipment and country files that they did, and I of course concentrated on the Far East. But just in case you didn't know, Peter, our programmer kind of vanished on us and thus we were left without anyone to do any of the real in-depth programming required to dig deep into the code and make significant changes to such things as the AI. On the other hand, I do have some experience with coding and being somewhat familiar with how the game engine works (from my days of modding the same) was able to make a number of changes that benefited the game editors and made things better for those who develop a lot of the scenarios that we all like to play. Most significantly, I amended the org editor to encompass a time period extending from January 1930 to December 1953. That means that future changes to the game can include everything from the invasion of Manchuria all the way up through the end of the Korean War. Do we have the units to support these yet? No. But they can be developed. I added additional nation slots to the force pools to allow for all of the new countries that were added to the game, and as things go further, am planning on adding even more to allow for additional countries to be added to the force pool.
The map editor for West Front and Rising Sun have both been modified to make maps for each of the five climatic zones covered by the game. That means that West Front now includes Jungles and Asian Temperate, and Rising Sun can also do Deserts, Mediterranean. So now if you want to have the French fight the British in Africa (or even cover the liberation of Ethiopia) you can do so.
John Tiller was recruited to work on a couple of problems, one of which was the XP problem. I'm glad to say that after hours and hours of running scenarios using the new game files that running on XP doesn't seem to be a problem. Most significant to me is the absence of that annoying repeating sound problem. Additionally, you do not need to load any CDs to play the game. Just select whichever of the three you want to play and go. I always did hate switching CDs while switching between games. And David Heath assures us that they are going to test the game out against Vista to make sure that it works there before sending it out to the world.
Trains now work. They can fight (if so equipped to do so), carry passengers, and they actually stay on the tracks. I was involved in the initial pioneer work on this a number of years ago, but it was George and Jason who actually pushed it into West Front and East Front. After seeing how well they looked, I included them in Rising Sun as well. Rising Sun also has a number of new patrol ships, Sampans, and junks that I think give it a great deal of flavor. These boats even shoot back and forth and one can have riverine battles and contested river crossings. In fact, the waters have become quite crowded with ships, landing barges, and such for all three of the games and that provides for all sorts of possibilities. I am really excited about the Chinese and Soviet additions to this game and wonder why TalonSoft didn't bother to include them in the first place. Also, with the addition of the Soviets (pro-ally and anti-ally) players can begin living out Patton's dream of taking it to the Russians and driving on to wherever.
All of the new units that can be found in the Blitz Krieg PB#1 expansion for East Front can also be found in our East Front. I think Jason got a bit carried away with equipping the Russians and Germans with new toys, but in the end the stuff works. We have command sections for the companies and battalions that have one or two vehicles per section, but alas the leaders still are as they were before.
There are a couple of spotter plane units included in the force mix that don't actually work like we want them to, but give me some time. Once I get this initial release off of my back, I can take time to really dig into the software and start making some significant improvements. I made planes work pretty well in Divided Ground, I think I can do the same here.
Regarding Divided Ground. When Matrix got the source code from Take Two, no one could find the Divided Ground Source Code. However, I have made it one of my main quests to recreate it from the existing Campaign Series Source Code that we do have and therefore start souping it up as well.
I've worked in the defense software industry for over 20 years and can pretty much gauge how much effort it takes to make changes in a software system. Things like "tweaking the AI" are easy to identify as problems, but not so easy to change or fix. Most of what people see as bugs are actually limitations in the design and code. The three of us are eager to make enhancements but at the same time, we have to proceed slowly to ensure that when we attempt to fix one problem we don't create a bunch more. That's easy to do with software. But so far, CS has proven fairly robust, and I look forward to exploring the code and "tweaking" it like a classic automobile.
Now just in case you haven't noticed, there are only three of us on the team working on the game. For us this is a part time endeavor and we still have to pay attention to our full-time jobs, families, and in my case farm animals. So as much as we wanted to get this totally bug free, there are probably some minor glitches out there waiting for someone to find. Most of these will be limited to easy fixes to the various data files, but regardless of what they are, if you report them on the forum, we will listen and try to let you know what we are doing to get them corrected. One of my pet peeves with a lot of game forums in the past, especially TalonSoft was that we would report problems and not hear back on them until suddenly, bam! They were corrected, or else not. I'd like to think that we will be far more responsive than TalonSoft ever was, and like several of the other teams working with Matrix, we'll continue to support the game as long as we are able.
As for pricing, I believe David mentioned that the game would sell for $35.00. That's not a bad deal. Especially since you're getting all three of the main games. And considering the improvements that have been made I'd buy it.
If anyone has any other questions, I'll try to answer them. We submitted the game files to Matrix for "Gold Mastering" and Vista testing, so it shouldn't take very much longer before it is ready for release. I have placed a hold on any further changes so that we can quit delaying things. But other than that, we'll see what happens. If I get overly busy here on the farm, and don't get to the message boards, Jason is always there to alert me of something, so we'll just wait and see.