We are very excited to announce the release of Squad Battles, Version 4.01 for Advance of the Reich, Red Victory, and Winter War.
To say this has been a mammoth undertaking is an understatement. We wrote about some of the changes coming in our previous blog post here.
Before we dive into what is included in each game, we want to explain how we are upgrading existing owners of these titles.
We have determined that with the range of changes, including the upgrading of graphics technology, that it is too problematic to provide a patch to upgrade from either the Wargame Design Studio (WDS) 4.00 version or the earlier John Tiller Software (JTS) versions.
Every owner who has a serial number will find the new 4.01 installers in their store account. You can access your store account from the link here. If you have issues accessing your store account, please reach out to the support desk via email using this email address: HelpDesk@wargameds.com. The new builds will require you to uninstall your existing build before installing the new one. Please backup any content you may want to keep before proceeding. Note: we do not expect existing games to work on these versions, so you should finish any on going matches before moving on.
Moving everyone onto the same version now, will make it much easier for us to provide updates in the future and ensure all have the latest features.
We are terming Squad Battles Version 4.01, a release, not a patch, as these are essentially new games. We have put an equivalent amount of effort into improving these titles as we would a new game. This covers not just the graphical and user interface improvements but also the gameplay. Importantly, every existing owner that has a serial number either from WDS or JTS will get the applicable games for free, as mentioned above via updated builds in their store account. If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk via the aforementioned email account.
The following people have been instrumental over the last eighteen months in delivering the 4.01 release:
Lead Programmer: Andy Edmiston
Utilities Programming: Carlos Anllo
Manual & Documentation Updates
Technical Writer: Tim Schoen
Graphics Coordinator: David Freer
Artists: David Freer, Nick Ferry, Ben ‘BenPark’ Donaldson
Update & Data Team:
Ashley McLeod, Carlos Anllo, Don Lazov, Mark Bisson, Mike Amos
The Update & Data team are veteran players who provided the manpower both to review all the game data and ensure it was consistent and taking advantage of all the new game features. In addition, they identified both improvements and fixes to the game engine and tested them after implementation. It is a credit to all the above that the product is at level that we are proud to call ‘WDS Standard’.
Gameplay will be familiar to previous owners, but many identified issues or bugs from the past have been addressed. In testing we have found that the gameplay is robust and representative of squad level, tactical engagements. With the map, scenario and data editors included we hope that there will be an increase in community interest in sharing and creating content. The included data and graphics in each title provides a solid base for further engagements to be modelled easily.
We have also broadened assets available for designers. For example, civilians are enabled in each of these titles and represent both prisoners of war and non-combatants. We hope to include some scenarios using these new assets in the future, but they are there for budding designers to try now.
For gamers that have never tried these titles, there are lots of features to reflect the scale. Leaders for example play a large role and can even be designated as heroic (heroes) or political such as Soviet commissars. Squads and teams are defined by the weapons they carry, and weapons can be gained, dropped, or lost. There are even motivational or inspirational weapons such as flags, banners or swords that can assist the applicable side. Many weapons have multiple ‘loads’ meaning they can fire more than one type of ammunition allowing a choice when tackling different targets. There is commonality across the three titles being released today, allowing us to upgrade them all simultaneously.
Beyond the gameplay, we have our first iteration of both improved graphics and user interface. The user interface should be recognizable to anyone having upgraded our other series. The iconography should be familiar and hotkeys in the main should be the same. This should hopefully help ease owners of other series into playing the new Squad Battles.
Graphically, we have put a lot of effort into both 2D and 3D representations. The 2D graphics are similar to our 19th century tactical games and continues the WDS look and feel. They have been adjusted where we felt the scale required it. The new zoom level in 2D will play the same role in providing more ability to play on larger screens. This is a new feature in version 4.01 and can make each battle very granular.
In 2D, the combination of top-down images for vehicles and guns vs icons for men works we believe. The facing of vehicles and guns is much more obvious with the new approach.
3D graphics have only been present in a few titles and we plan to implement it in all over time. The 3D graphics included in the 4.01 release is just the first iteration. We again took many of the assets from the other tactical series and modified them. That said, we have big plans for future 3D graphical upgrades.
One of the changes we are testing is a larger 3D hex size, like the new zoom level added to 2D. You can see an example below of the 300-pixel hex size and example terrain, in this case some marshland that is being modelled on the Pripyat marshes in Russia. Additional zoom levels will allow us to maintain playability as screen resolutions grow. We have no time frame when the new 3D may be available, but it is being actively worked on.
You can expect that we will continue improving the series graphics over time as we add more features. We will share more once further progress is made.
Interface features such as the roam function are now available and allowing a simpler way to review the players forces. All this and more are covered in the revised user manual. The manual can be read and downloaded from the below image.
As shown in our previous blog post here, we have added a lot of new reference material. All three titles will ship with a title specific Vehicles & Weapons Encyclopaedia and two versions of the Visual Order of Battle, one for ‘figures’ and one for ‘heads’. These will be provided free to peruse, even if you don’t buy the title. The links are in the images below and worth downloading for depth of information included. The Winter War material is a later version than those provided previously.
If you are interested in buying any of these titles, you can go direct to the product pages here.
We don’t think you will be disappointed.
To wrap up this post here are some shots from the various titles, in game. (All images are clickable for full size.)
Advance of the Reich
Thank you all, till next time!