From: metro Chicago, Illinois, USA
Coder Diary #14 -- Dynamic Day/Night & Visibility
From the Vietnam War, the Battle of Ia Drang (depicted in the film We Were Soldiers):
The Battle of Ia Drang was the first major battle between regulars of the United States Army and regulars of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN/NVA) of North Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The two-part battle took place between November 14 and November 18, 1965, at two landing zones (LZs) northwest of Plei Me in the Central Highlands of South Vietnam (approximately 35 miles south-west of Pleiku) as part of the U.S. airmobile offensive codenamed Operation Silver Bayonet...
Representing the American forces were elements of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division: the 1st Battalion and 2nd Battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, facing elements of the B3 Front of the PAVN (including the 304 Division) and Viet Cong. The battle involved close air support by U.S. aircraft and a strategic bombing strike by the B-52s. The initial Vietnamese assault against the landing 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry at LZ X-Ray was repulsed after two days and nights of heavy fighting on November 14-16. However, the follow-up surprise attack on November 17 that overran the marching column of 7th Cavalry 2nd Battalion near the LZ Albany was the deadliest ambush of a U.S. unit during the course of the entire war. About half of some 300 American deaths in the 35-day Operation Silver Bayonet happened in just this one fight that lasted 16 hours.
Just one of many, many multi-day/night battles that the Campaign Series was unable to model ... until now!
We have implemented a new feature, Dynamic Day/Night & Visibility:
In the screenshot, you will observe (from Crossroads' forthcoming new East Front scenario of the Winter War, Arctic Front: On Familiar Ground):
Turns (circled in red): 1-6[n] 7-30[d]
Visibility (circled in blue): 1-2 3-3 4-4 5-5 6-6 7-30
That is to say:
For game turns 1 through 6, it is night. Beginning with game turn 7, and extending through the remainder of the game until turn 30, it is day.
For game turns 1 & 2, visibility is 2. For game turn 3, visibility is 3. As dawn progresses, Visibility gradually increases to 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... until it maxes out at 7, the daytime Visibility for game turns 7 through 30.
For the first time ever in the Campaign Series (without having to resort to kludges, as in players hand editing the save game files), scenario designers will be able to specify day/night cycles to simulate:
Multi-day/night battles lasting for as long as the historical situation requires.
The scenario designer will have complete freedom to expand and compress turn times and day/night durations as he sees fit. No more enslavement to the "turns are equivalent to approximately 6 minutes of real time" "rule". (Which, in the traditional game, if you think about it, has never really applied, is "more honored in the breach than the observance.") Turn real-time equivalents are entirely subject to the scenario designer's interpretation, and can differ from one scenario to the another, from day to night, even from day to day.
As Crossroads stated it:
I particularly like this as it allows short days or nights when history tells us not much action took place.
In conjunction with Dynamic Day/Night, the scenario designer may now also exactly specify Dynamic Visibility, to simulate:
Day to dusk to night diminishing visibility.
Night to dawn to day increasing visibility.
Changing lighting, as in sunny skies giving way to overcast skies; or, in night scenarios, the rising or setting of the moon.
Changing weather, as in fog, rain, snow, dust storms, etc.
When specifying Turns and Visibility, they must be one or a sequence of
#-#[d] or #-#[n]
for day/night, and
No spaces! except those separating one turn segment from the next.
You might see Visibility segments like (as in the example above)
meaning from turn 3 to turn 3, Visibility is 3. I considered simplifying that to
but I chose not to, because it complicates the coding. I could have over engineered this, permitting all sorts of fancy variations, and allowing for all sorts of input errors. But: the fancier we get, the harder it is to code, and the greater the chance for bugs. It's usually better to KISS it, unless very good reason not to. Also, specifying day/turn & visibility in scenario design is not something that the great mass of ordinary players will do; only a small, select group of scenario designers will do it. If they can handle scenario design, they can surely handle the "complexities" of the Header Dialog.
Here is the older-style scenario editor Header Dialog:
Comparing with the newer-style Header Dialog above, you will observe some layout changes:
No more Night Scenario box, as you specify day or night (and the number of turns for each) in the expanded Turns box (formerly the Length box).
Flares, formerly known as "Starshells", have been moved up to the Air/Ammo/Smoke boxes. "Flares" is a more generic (and shorter!) term to represent all manner of airborne illuminations.
Some important points:
CS 1.04 & before will not be forward compatible with new-style scenarios created in the 1.05 & later scenario editors. You will have to update your game installation to play newer scenarios.
1.05 & later EXEs will still maintain backward compatibility with 1.04 scenarios and before. So both updated and older game installs will still be able to play older scenarios.
Over the years, computer power has increased exponentially, and capability to simulate ever larger historical battles is possible. Division, corps, and even army level scenarios have been developed to fulfill the promise built into the very first East Front II Organization Editor. Bigger OOBs, larger maps, longer battles. Building on capabilities always inherent in the Campaign Series design, and soon also with Dynamic Day/Night & Visibility (and other new features still to come), imagine the possibilities!
Until the next time...