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Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 12/3/2018 12:53:23 AM   
bcgames


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We are agreed that 2500 meters in the best scale for the Eastern Front Game...at least for the APLHA. So now comes the big map making exercise. Those familiar with the Desert War Editor know we have provided to scenario designers the means to extract smaller maps from the larger"mega-maps". Desert War has three mega-maps (1940, 1941, 1942). The Eastern Front game will have three mega-maps as well...only this time each mega-map will represent a weather condition (Good, Mud, Frozen).

The area to be mapped centers on the German 6th Army's area operation circa August-December 1942. This region is typically represented in board games as a flat plain--an open steppe. I don't think that's accurate. A casual study of the region shows gentle rolling hills and ridge lines that cry out for reverse slope defenses--put mother Earth between you and high velocity rounds...and observartion of the depths of your defenses. With this in mind, I used the Editor to start plotting/categorizing terrain for the first scenario using 2500 meters per hex.

To do the job, we've added new terrain types--City, Open Steppe and Rolling Steppe. City terrain will increase stacking by two. Open Steppe is 1.25 MPs per hex; it acts like Desert terrain. Rolling Steppe costs 1.5 MPs per hex. This coupled with ridge line hexsides helps to replicate the reverse slope defense capability of the Russian steppe. New prototype hexsides include Major River, Major River Bridge (plus bridge destroyed), River, Stream, Bridge, and Pontoon.

Here's how it is going so far with the tile-based map.

So pop the cork and have a nice warm glass of Glantz...




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 12/10/2018 5:10:52 AM   
bcgames


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Work continues on the mega-map for the Eastern Front game. We have enough defined to be able to design our first scenario using the 2500 meter per hex ground scale. There are some division headquarters issues to work out for the AI given the regimental level as the basic unit size. Putting division HQ units in the game when there are only three regiments in a division seems a bit tedious and another unit on the board. But these HQs help the AI perform better.

The first scenario to test the new ground and unit scales will look at the XIV Panzer Korps one-day yomp from The Don to The Volga. We'll see how it goes.




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 12/20/2018 4:19:49 AM   
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Water Obstacles. Going from bone-dry desert to the steppes of Russia presents new challenges for the game engine. The river terrain in Desert War is now called a stream in our Eastern Front game. Water obstacles are now streams, rivers, and major rivers; each one more difficult to cross. Bridges have been added to provide for the pre-war civil engineering answer to the problem; and military bridging units fill in the war requirements. Bridges can be destroyed and repaired...but they aren't always in the right place (militarily speaking). What to do? Pontoons of course. You'll have that option as well.

I'm still thinking through the Volga challenge...how to get supplies into the city for 62nd Army...and how the Axis gets the chance to interdict them. Historically, supplies and reinforcements/replacements were ferried across the Volga (until it froze over) at night--there were no bridges or pontoons. BUT...I think we can do some clever work with the new bridging engineer unit type to get the brown-water navy job done.

Weather is introduced in the Eastern Front game and it will effect the waters. We've thought through the Summer and Winter effects but there may be a revisit of Fall. Summer has its costs for water obstacles; and Winter? Well there aren't any--everything is Frozen. Fall/Spring--rain and mud? Streams and rivers swollen with rain water? There should be a painful cost for that, I'm sure.

A major difference between the Eastern Front and Desert War maps is--the rivers runs through it. Bridges and bridging make for some interesting operational-level puzzle solving. Capturing/destroying bridges...pontooning...all good stuff!

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 12/29/2018 7:16:05 AM   
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This week we are bouncing back-and-forth between Desert War and the Eastern Front; on the one hand, the next Desert War patch and on the other hand--the next game.

Some may say, "Why not concentrate on just one game?" A good question. The answer is simple enough--coding comes first...and I can work too. When Brian is coding one game--I'm working on the other...and vice versa. All in all--the ball is getting kicked down both fields.

In the Eastern Front department, we are working on getting all of the new map elements to play well together. The Eastern Front mega-map is much larger than the Desert War mega-map and has more diverse terrain. These two components in tandem create new design challenges. Onwards!

I just received the build that introduces air transport aircraft to the air asset component of the game. Integrating this capability into the game engine correctly has long-term implications for games beyond the Eastern Front (e.g. Normandy-Holland-Belgium-Varsity-Dien Bien Phu, etc., et al.).

Testing and tweaking it all--full speed ahead into the New Year.



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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/7/2019 5:05:06 AM   
bcgames


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So begins Eastern Front Week. I've been working on the Eastern Front mega-map (sort of Fall Blau-ish in its mega-parameters). The terrain is much harder to code (time-consuming) given the fact that--it isn't the desert. This makes it more fun...sort of. Different it is...and the work is probably four times as hard--but it looks so much better than desert when it's all done. What I see from the terrain analysis of the Ukraine and points East--the location of ridge lines define the battlefield--not the blank, wide open spaces typically portrayed in other games on the topic. I could be wrong. We'll see how it plays. Onwards!

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/12/2019 1:39:25 AM   
bcgames


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WIP...I have finished the rivers, streams, marsh, woods, towns and cities on the Eastern Front map. Highways, Roads, Rolling Steppe, Airfields, and Ridge hexsides are "all that remain" for input into the tile-based map. The map scale is the same as the Salerno map--2500 meters per hex. There's going to be a lot of battle space.




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/19/2019 5:13:23 AM   
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WIP...Eastern Front advance:




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/19/2019 2:55:05 PM   
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What about Rachels/Balcas? Some where very wide and deep. A bit feature in that part of the world

Deep winter should cause fatigue, possible moral drop for Axis? Mechanical issues for Axis vehicles, When snowing I think it sides wearing white camp then troops should be just abit harder to spot so at this scale abit more difficult to judge exactly how many infantry enemy unit has compared to Summer.

So I presume Stalingrad is what 13 or 14 hexes in length?



< Message edited by wodin -- 1/19/2019 3:08:55 PM >


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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/22/2019 8:28:24 AM   
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quote:

ORIGINAL: wodin

What about ...Balcas? Some where very wide and deep. A bit feature in that part of the world

We have introduced a terrain type called "Rolling Steppe" to help replicate the idea of "Balka". Ridge and Gullies hexsides fulfill the full picture.

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/22/2019 1:29:20 PM   
Alan Sharif

 

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This looks and sounds great.


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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/22/2019 4:13:12 PM   
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Yep. If done well, this could be a gem. Will the time frame be from Case Blue to Third Battle of Kharkov?

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/23/2019 1:26:05 PM   
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The intent is to span operations from the commencement of Operation Heron (Fischreiher) to the culmination of Operation Winter Storm (Wintergewitter).

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/23/2019 3:27:35 PM   
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Thank for the info. It would be great to include also the Soviet operations Gallop and Star to make the game less German centric. Fall Balu, Stalingrad and Uranus have been exploited to death already. From that time period, I'd be interested in Wintergewitter and River Chir fighting. Will the game include Caucasus and drive on Voronezh?

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 1/23/2019 4:52:45 PM   
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Which ever route you go, this looks like a very interesting game. Thanks for sharing.

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/5/2019 7:13:13 AM   
bcgames


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quote:

ORIGINAL: bcgames

The intent is to span operations from the commencement of Operation Heron (Fischreiher) to the culmination of Operation Winter Storm (Wintergewitter).

The area of operations for the Eastern Front game is shown here:




The ground scale is ~2.5 kilometers/~1.5 miles per hex. This is a slightly smaller ground scale as compared to Desert War. The Eastern Front "mega-map" has about half as many hexes as Desert War--all designed to create smaller, more digestible bites of game play.

Another defining component of the Eastern Front game is the desire to connect scenarios into a series of unit-oriented campaign games; the results of scenario A influence the start of scenario B. The troops available to weave into our stories are the 3rd and 4th Romanian Armies, the 8th Italian Army (partial), and the 4th Panzer and 6th German Armies (i.e. elements of Army Group B/Don). In opposition are the narratives of the 62nd and 63rd Soviet Armies, and the 1st Guards Tank Army (i.e. Southwest, Stalingrad, and Don Fronts). From these opponents the campaigns are crafted.


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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/5/2019 8:07:02 AM   
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There will be three ground conditions represented in the game: Dry, Mud, and Frozen. Each ground condition will be represented with a distinct map image, unique movement point requirements and attack/defense effects. WIP...




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/6/2019 5:09:58 PM   
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Wow, things are really taking shape. Quite of few possibilities for interesting scenarios at this scale.

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/10/2019 5:16:57 AM   
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Eastern Front...Unity Density...WIP...

First comes the theory...then the application. With the ALPHA maps finished, I decided to experiment with how things look with our new unit scale. To review, each hex is 2,500 meters, at regimental level with some battalions...at least that was the theory...

I decided on a rather large scenario to put things to the test. 29 August 1942 sees XIV Panzer Korps on The Volga--North of Stalingrad. 4th Panzer Army kicks off its attack to cut off the city in the south. In a few days, 1st Guards Army will launch the counteroffensive to cut off XIV Panzer Korps. So how did it go?

After inputting 6th Army and the Stalingrad Front at regimental level, I realized that the scale was not going to work nicely for the Soviets; 1st Guards Army was a wall of units four hexes deep without room to maneuver (stacking limits will not allow). What to do?

The attached image shows the solution. Soviets in offensive sectors will need to be division level for infantry; armored units can remain brigade level. In defensive sectors, Soviets need regiments to cover their historical distances. As for the Axis, there may be some cases where infantry regiments need to be broken-down into battalions to cover the historical frontages. XIV Panzer Korps in this situation presents such a case.

So far, I think this is a good solution to address issues with unit density, unit stack size, and the reduction of "artillery business" in any given turn. Also note, unit counters are beveled and a tad smaller compared to the size of the hex.

Combat factors in the attached image are notional...more to follow in that department.




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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/13/2019 8:44:08 PM   
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Excellent map work bcgames. It is looking quite good.

Regarding unit scales, I think that concentrating Soviet Rifle divisions like that is a cop out and not very convincing. I can't see what the problem could be regarding stacking rules, as the stacking points of the divisions should add to the same numbers regardless of how units are broken down. Or they don't?

On the other hand, it addresses the problem of visual clutter as you have cut down dramatically the number of counters units. That is an issue sometimes with Desert War.

But in that way you are also allowing the Soviets to concentrate their combat power with extreme efficiency, and looking at the factors you were experimenting with, it looks to me that you are tempted to go the way of reducing artificially Soviet combat effectiveness to avoid those divisions to stomp isolated German battalions.

The unit carpet you mention seems to me realistic, even if it may obscure the map quite a bit.

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/14/2019 4:11:56 AM   
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Thanks for the feedback--this is very helpful.

quote:

ORIGINAL: BletchleyGeek
...Regarding unit scales, I think that concentrating Soviet Rifle divisions like that is a cop out and not very convincing. I can't see what the problem could be regarding stacking rules, as the stacking points of the divisions should add to the same numbers regardless of how units are broken down. Or they don't?

The stacking problem is about having the ability to rotate units out of the line. I am currently playing El Alamein PBEM as the Allies. Because of the number of units, artillery ranges, where units need to be to get the job done, and stacking limits--you can't get units in/out of the line at the right time and place without a major "Rubik's Cube" shift left/right/around operation. It could be said that this is operationally accurate...but I think it could also be said that it is tedium without joy. I think the game should be fun to play as a starting point criteria.

However, I personally like the Rubik's Cube of operational warfare...so...I am willing to allow folks in ALPHA testing to make their recommendations with regards to a full regiment/battalion game system (i.e. no divisions). If they like it--we're Golden. If they don't, we're Golden...cuz I have a fix--Soviet Divisions.

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/14/2019 4:24:48 AM   
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Cheers, bcgames.

There's another way: which probably St Ruth won't love. Allowing units to break down

Now I understand what you meant - indeed, there's a lot of friction involved in rotating your combat units. This friction is both part of the mechanics - it actually takes time as in consuming game turns - and also of the meta - how much does the UI help with this. Perhaps having the ability to "filter out" units of other formations could help to navigate the mess.

Or also having the ability to "disband" temporally a unit (and having it reappear say on the Division HQ hex or whereabouts) could help (as the "disbanded" unit is no longer on the map capable of doing something useful).

Or perhaps players need to accept delays in following up attacks to avoid chaos. The latter is also part of the operational puzzle: there are so many roads and so many covered avenues of approach, trying to get several regiments march along the same route isn't going to be pretty.

You already lowered the scale to what I guess is the minimum so you guys don't need to model direct fire weapons... so I don't know. Playtest is indeed the only way to see what works and what doesn't.

With the divisions, the game looks a lot like something halfway between Dean Essig's OCS and BCS. Perhaps the problem with over concentrating combat power could be ameliorated by having "SNAFU" rules too, which would account for the chaos

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/14/2019 4:31:13 AM   
bcgames


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Once again, great feedback! Thanks!

We'll need to chew on all this a bit.

Onwards!

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/14/2019 1:51:55 PM   
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I'll have a look! Not promising anything, but I'll see how much work it is!

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 2/21/2019 3:53:28 AM   
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Today I submitted my final input for the Desert War patch. I think folks are going to like it. The AI is more aggressive and there's a bit of player-requested chrome that makes the game look that much better.

Now, on to the next game--Monty's Front. As the working title implies, this will have something to do with General Montgomery in WWII circa 1944...a connection between MARKET_GARDEN and The Battle for the Schedlt.

But WAIT! What about The Eastern Front game!!?? Well.. It is now The Main Effort for development and it's being designed with the game-after-next in mind. One has to think about that--right now. Monty's Front...

So what's happening with The Eastern Front?

Saint Ruth is looking at the "Unit Breakdown/Build-up" question, and I am finishing the ALPHA versions of the air, land, and naval graphics. In the map department, I've finished the 2500-meter per hex maps (dry, mud, frozen) for the base game, and started to experiment with a 250-meter per hex version of the city of Stalingrad. We'll see where this grows.

Next up, seasonal versions of the ground unit types to match the seasonal maps...

Onwards!

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RE: Eastern Front WWII DevBlog - 9/3/2019 6:40:34 AM   
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This week I've been busy updating the game manual for Stalingrad. I've been through the design document a dozen times at least and see we have about 85-90% complete as far as new features/capabilities--Brian has delivered nicely! We've added a few tweaks to the list to get things up to snuff:

* Create Hotkey to toggle airfield/depot ranges on/off
* Create an asset re-use capability for ground and air assets as is done with naval assets.
* Create an AI build/destroy bridge command.
* Create capability to click on unit is OB display to view unit's details.

We'll see how it goes.

Onwards!

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