Today we would like to share the changes coming in Squad Battles Version 4.03.
We released Squad Battles Eagles Strike version 4.02 on January 2nd,2024. Unfortunately, with the broad range of changes included in 4.02 we also introduced a few crash bugs. After a solid month of effort, we believe we have resolved these, but also had the opportunity to consider a range of new features.
We believe there is enough that is different, that we are moving to a new version number: 4.03.
To take you through what has changed or is new, here is the draft changelog:
Eagles Strike Release 4.03 Changelog
- Fixed: CTD caused when displaying wrecked weapons.
- Fixed: Stop all units being selected when toggling "On Ground".
- Fixed CTDs caused when using the "Target Units" highlight.
- Restore display of the Targeting Dialog.
- Fixed CTD caused when opening a new scenario in hot seat mode.
- Fixed issue with Campaign Front End failing to invoke the game exe.
- Fixed CTD caused by not clearing the ‘spotter’ graphic when opening a new scenario or game file.
- Ensure assaults pay the correct movement costs.
- Fixed: Missing Heavy Weapons graphics on counters.
- Fixed: missing wire cutter graphics
- Fixed: Incorrect plunger, remote control, and mine-roller graphics.
- Fixed: Incorrect Victory Screens
- Allow sound files to play even when running at up to double speed.
- Improved air support + indirect fire accuracy.
- Weapon quality can now be altered in the OOB Editor.
- Scatter hex for a leader now has an on-screen symbol.
- Chosen leader for support calls now has an onscreen spotter symbol.
- Set the assault cost to the greater of terrain movement or one third movement cost.
- Allow hotkeys to be processed when the Targeting Dialog is open and has focus.
- Adjustments to prevent invisible units being revealed as part of a movement attempt.
- Put the Artillery no LOS penalty into the PDT.
- Ensure the Artillery no LOS penalty is shown on the Parameter Data Dialog.
- Allow the Support Dialog to be opened even if no valid leader or vehicle has been found.
- Replaced the Misc graphics with better versions.
- Revised all 3D Infantry images.
- Added extensive background sounds and updated all scenarios to use them.
- Rationalised and replaced many sounds with updated versions.
- Added binoculars, aerial recon camera and demolition charges to the data files.
- Prime Mover renamed to SdKfz 7, and towing capability added.
- All OOBs updated to replace Prime Mover with SdKfz 7.
- 3/4 Ton Truck towing capability added.
- 3/4 Ton Truck added to Hitting Utah OOB.
- 3/4 Ton Truck added to AT Platoon in 002.Hitting Utah scenario.
- Hitting Utah scenario reviewed, and map adjusted in size.
- Cust_ASLV-ES#15 scenario reviewed and updated.
- Added French civilians and German and US POW’s.
- Minor updates to some OOBs
- Various Documentation updates.
For bug fixes, we have spent time with all the users that have reported various crash to desktops. Thank you for everyone’s responsiveness as it has allowed us to tackle these challenging bugs with save files and clear ability to replicate the issues. Andy has been able to resolve everything reported to date.
Beyond the crash to desktop issues, gameplay issues were corrected such as restoring the missing off-board targeting display, fixing the campaign front-end as well as ensuring the reduction in movement points for assaults was correct. There were also a range of graphical issues that have been resolved. The heavy weapons graphics on counters were missing, that has now been fixed. There were also issues with several items in the Miscellaneous group as well as problems with the victory screens. All have been sorted.
The game enhancements included are probably the meat of version 4.03.
The big change is to off-map support. The use of off-map support was obscure at best and befuddled many players. We have gone away and spent time working out how to make it more intuitive and added a range of visual cues, as well as a clearer explanation of what is happening. Following is a small example of the new off-map support process.
When you open the Support Dialog, the nearest leader to the current selected hex is automatically selected and marked with a binocular icon as per below.
This is the current spotting leader. You can select a new leader for spotting; just close the Support Dialog box and go to the area where another leader is. If they have a radio stacked with them, they should be automatically selected when the Support Dialog is reopened.
The spotter chosen and their position, is the first critical decision. The spotting unit will directly impact how accurate the artillery fire will be. The key inputs are the spotter’s quality as well as whether they can see the target hex. Their quality will affect scatter with A quality = 0 through to F quality = 0 to 5. This means that an A quality unit will never add to more than 0 to scatter, while a F quality unit will randomly select a number between 0 and 5. If the spotter cannot see the target hex, then an ‘Artillery no Line of Sight’ penalty is added. This value is currently 5 and can be changed in the PDT. That implies that there could be scatter up to 10 hexes if a F quality spotter tried to call fire onto an unsighted hex (up to 5 for spotter quality plus 5 for an unsighted target hex).
Selecting a support unit to use, in this case, the sFH-18 150mm Howitzer, highlight the target selection.
Tapping on Target, opens the Targeting Dialog, where the various loads, HE, Smoke, or Illumination can be chosen.
Right-clicking on the target hex, results in a scatter calculation and the actual impact hex is determined. The computed impact hex is shown where the crosshair appears with a number in the centre. This hex is where the fire is actually landing and the value in the centre is the distance in hexes from the target hex. As mentioned above, both the spotter quality and whether the hex is in sight of the spotter will determine how far the scatter is. In the example below, you can see that the impact hex is 6 hexes away from the original target hex as indicated by the arrow on the left.
With the impact hex chosen, the fire then lands on, or around the impact hex. There is a second calculation for the scatter of fire based upon the quality and type of the supporting unit. The support unit’s quality will affect scatter with A = 0 through to F = 0 to 5. If the firing unit is Artillery there is an additional base 2 added to the scatter. In the image below you can see where the fire is landing around the impact hex. In this case the current fire is landing 3 hexes away. Each fire has its scatter determined separately; the prior shell (indicated by the red cross) landed adjacent to the impact hex.
It is important to understand that all scatter values are ‘up to values’. In our example above of an F quality spotter (0 to 5) firing on an unsighted hex (0 to 5), each value is calculated in the range. So, there is a chance to land in the range of 0 to 10 hexes away from the target hex. There is a chance (low) of no scatter at all.
If you think of support as a two-part process, where firstly, the spotter calling the fire determines where the impact hex is and then secondly, the firing unit determines where the ordinance lands relative to the impact hex. It becomes much easier, along with the visual cues to understand why the support is landing where it is.
We have also worked on assaults. We felt that assaults were too easy to institute, and we have adjusted the cost so a unit can do a maximum of three assaults in a turn. In most cases we expect that with the cost of terrain considered, most units will be only assaulting two times or less, per turn.
We have also worked on a range of graphical upgrades. The Miscellaneous items have been improved, credit to Mike Amos. Original on the left, new on the right.
We have also added a range of additional miscellaneous items, which we intend to make standard across titles. For example, binoculars and demolition charges should be universal in all Squad Battles games.
There has been commentary around the 3D infantry in particular and the ‘light outline’ around them. We have decided to remove the outline and accentuate the contrast of the various figures. Here is an example of a before and after image of how the 3D figures look.
We have also included French civilians as well as German and American POWs to allow further variation in user generated scenarios in Eagles Strike.
Finally, and another big work-in-progress exercise, is that we are revamping many of the in-game sounds. We have spent the time to catalogue the available sounds across our various games series and there is both, a lot of new sounds we had in-house, as well as samples we could use from third parties. We are swapping out many of the synthesised sounds for authentic weapons. We are reviewing all the files in the Media directory and ensuring they are more authentic. This also means we are dumping a lot of existing sounds (did you know that there were 22 different M-16 and 26 AK-47 sounds in game?). We are moving to four variations of weapon and associated explosions for each sound.
In addition to the various weapon sounds, we have added background sounds to each scenario. You will hear the crickets in the night engagements and the lapping of the waves in the landing scenarios. These sounds had been included in a few of the prior titles but were not universal. We plan to include backgrounds in all titles.
All the various sounds listed above can be turned on and off in the Settings menu.
Here are a few sample before and after sounds.
The first title to be upgraded to 4.03 will be Eagles Strike, in the main to fix the reported CTD issues. We expect the other upgraded 4.01 Squad Battles titles will follow soon after. It is important to mention that this will be another full installer download, rather than a patch. This is for two reasons. We are removing many legacy files from the Media directory, and it is difficult to delete them in a patch, without leaving a range of spurious sound samples. Secondly, and this is something that will impact all our titles in the future, we are changing our game architectures in readiness for our AI upgrades. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes and we have decided this is a good time to ’reset’ all our titles to simplify future patching. Currently, we must support a range of prior releases including old John Tiller Software builds and we need to remove that requirement to allow us to roll out improvements quicker. It also simplifies our quality assurance process as well.
We continue to work on upgrading other Squad Battle titles. You can expect the Proud and the Few to be the next totally new, version 4.03 game released. We do not have a time commitment yet, but we are making good progress. Here are a few shots from current work in progress.
And looking a little further out, we are working on another 3D zoom level. Like all things, this includes terrain, figures and vehicles and is definitely a longer-term project. Do not expect to see this anytime soon, but know we plan to have three 3D zoom levels to match the three display levels that 2D currently has.
There will be a lot included in version 4.03. We promise it will be worth the wait and we expect to get it into your hands very soon.
Till next time!