Today we bring you a new round of updates...leading titles for two series to be exact. Updates for each complete series will follow in a few months time. First we'll review the Napoleonic details and then move to Little Big Horn.
Development has continued on the Napoleonic engine over the last several months and so we are bringing you the 4.05 update for Campaign Waterloo today. The demo, The Final Struggle, will also be updated. Enhancements cover:
- Continued refinements on how the game engine operates
- Visual aids and adjustments
- New tools and features for designing scenarios
- Tweaks to how the A/I behaves
It is safe to apply this update to ongoing games.
There's been several adjustments to how the game operates, which will either make it easier to use or put some more realistic parameters in place. Here's a few examples:
Speed controls now work in all elements of A/I control - i.e. During the A/I turn, if you activate the A/I to finish your turn, Auto Defensive Fire phase as well as watching battle replays.
Skirmishers - under normal operations skirmishers enjoy benefits their loose order deserves, such as reduced casualties from ranged fire and melee. However, if you stack too many in a single hex (> 1/8 max stacking) these benefits are lost. Now you'll get a visual queue that you have exceeded the threshold - the word "skirmish" will have yellow text.
Going low on ammo early in a scenario was a common complaint over the years - so much so that John included the rationale in the Design Notes section of the User Manual. Now we have altered it a bit so that no check for ammo loss will take place within the first 4 turns of a scenario.
Line units must now have a minimum strength in order to block units behind them - > max stacking /8
Minimum strength to form square is now set at 100 men
Chateau - previously these locations were near impossible to take, this was due to combined modifiers being applied. Now either "Melee Terrain Modifier" value, or if the optional rule is not in effect, then a hard coded 50%. Also, artillery units are no longer able to enter chateau (regardless of PDT movement value settings).
We try not to operate in a vacuum either...so we listen to feedback! Where reasonable and practical we make adjustments:
Player feedback indicated the points for leader casualties were too high, so the calculations for this feature were changed to take into consideration the specific scenario conditions in order to influence the point values. The new calculation is handled like this:
Another point of feedback we received was complications presented by the recent change in 4.04 which prevented changing position in a hex after fire had taken place from that hex in a turn. Some said this penalized armies with smaller battalions more than others. So we have made the following alterations:
No position change in stack allowed if >50% of max stacking sized unit has already fired.
No firing if other units excluding skirmishers have already fired and the strength of units trying to fire + strength of units already fired is >50% of max. stack size.
Example: Max stacking of 1800 - A 500 man battalion may fire, and a 400 man battalion may move to the top of the stack and also fire, as the combined strength is not greater than 50% of the max stacking value.
And a final comment on customer feedback. Recently a few people have submitted their displeasure with not being able to check LOS from unoccupied hexes. While we feel this is a more realistic way of handling things - especially as we players have far more information available to us than our historical counterparts - we do acknowledge that it always worked that way up until recently. So we are exploring adding in another optional rule to allow that spotting. That will be for a future update however.
Frequently requested, we now have the ability to highlight "Reachable Hexes" - H hotkey (+ menu item)
Unit Status displays changed to work with the "Alternative Labels" command in the Settings menu – if de-selected a white box will be around text for both units status messages and map labels. If selected the white box is removed. If using Alt style, a white outline is placed around the units status messages to increase readability.
Continued refinement to graphics are included as well, with new 3D elements making it a bit easier to see underlying map elements. For those that wish to use the files sent out with the 4.04 versions you can get them in the \Map\Hi-Res Map folder.
New Designer Enhancements
Building off the Range Tool which was added into the main game engine, a further enhancement was made in the Scenario Editor so it will also display the shortest path from start to finish. The path is calculated for a fictional unit in column which is ignoring all other units on the map. This can help when creating A/I scripts to avoid setting A/I destinations which can't be reached due to no path. Or in sequencing, and setting reasonable orders for the script to accomplish. Press Shift & left-click to use. By using this feature you can also see that the commands for "Alt" movement and drag and drop will yield much better results now when used over long distances.
Several changes were made to the PDT file as well, moving it to version 14:
- Added support for fractional fire values to the PDT file.
- Added the flag ^ to the PDT for weapons to be fired while mounted.
- Added support to the PDT files for Min/Max values for combat to be defined, if >= v. 14.
The scenario editor documentation has been reworked as well adding in a good bit more detail. The add-on documentation defining OOB and PDT file structures has been incorporated as well as some useful tips for creating your own scenarios.
And speaking of these PDT file enhancements, this cycle brings forth version 1 of the "Standardized PDT" - what that specifically means is we are moving towards a set of common values which will be applied to all 15 Minute Turn scenarios once fully implemented. Now, there will always be circumstances where variation is needed - and that can be implemented by weather values in the PDT file, for example. What we are after is - a French 6 lb cannon should fire the same range and effectiveness at Waterloo as it does at Leipzig, or on the Spanish Peninsula - all things being equal. That has not necessarily been the case in the series previously. Also, movement points and costs will be common through all titles once fully implemented.
This round only makes a slight adjustment to movement points - increasing cavalry from 14 to 16. All the other values will remain at 10. Movement costs had some adjustments, but nothing too radical. This is the proposed Standard we will be moving to once the rest of the series receives it's updates. We are pushing it out now though in order to give people time to process and submit their feedback... you can do so on the official forums in this thread that has already been created:
Again - this will only apply to 15 Minute Turn versions, which was the original standard of the series. For games that do not have 15 minute turn versions we aim to create a few. We, as of yet, do not plan to make any alterations to the 10 Minute Turn variants.
We'll say right up front - we are making no claims here that the A/I will suddenly present your with a steller opponent experiences. We have however been making tweaks and refinements to how the A/I operates and we believe it has been improving the experience of play against the computer. Some of the changes that have been made:
- Adjusted A/I targeting priorities.
- Adjusted A/I cavalry charge logics.
- New path finding algorithm implemented.
Another change under the hood was a new combat random number generator being implemented.
And final item for the Napoleonic section, documentation. The User Manual continues to be polished and is up to date with all the recent changes. If you feel something is missing or needs further clarification feel free to chime in on this thread in the official forums and we'll look into further adjustments as needed.
We also have plans to "flesh out" the "Summary Info" document with charts for terrain effects, weapon effectiveness, and so on - but we are aiming to refine and finalize our "standard" values before doing that work.
You can grab the updates for Waterloo & The Final Struggle off the Napoleonic Battles Updates page.
Ok, on to the second part of todays updates - Little Big Horn!
This free demo has been very well received, enough so that we are exploring options to cover the theme as a full title. Details on that to be addressed later down the road, but we are exploring other engines in order to do so. One point is the inability of leaders to dismount and fight - obviously that is a key element for this topic. Anyway, we are evaluating things and time will tell on where we go.
With that said, we still wanted to get an update out to address some issues that existed and make some refinements.
Graphical issues such as incorrect 3D routing images being displayed have been resolved. Also, the sound files associated with bows and lances were incorrect and has been remedied.
While not too big of an issue in the smaller scenarios due to their short duration, in the full battle scenario the "Extended Line" formation for the Sioux really made a difference. While it is important to model the loose order and tendency of the native peoples to take advantage of terrain more than the troopers - the formation as handled within the engine was just too strong. Accordingly we adjusted it so that the reduction of combat effects is only 10% instead of 50%.
And due to the high mobility of the mounted forces, we increased the movement point allowance for "supply" from 10 to 16. Mules and Travois are still not able to keep up with mounted forces, but they wont get left so terribly far behind. Additionally, the probability of ammo loss was reduced for this package. While weapon reliability was a factor, the amount of ammunition was not. If you read the accounts troopers were not running out of ammo and only a small amount was removed from the pack train once it reached Reno Hill.
In addition, a new scenario is included in the update. It brings Cpt. Benteen's three companies and the Pack Train with their additional troopers on the map earlier than historically happened - to give the U.S. player more options to explore other plans, without having to wait several hours of game time.
You can grab this update from the Early American Wars updates page. We are planning to release 4.01 updates for the remainder of the series in a couple of months on this one as well.
If you don't already have a copy, you can grab it for free from the Little Big Horn product page.
That wraps things up for today...we hope you enjoy the new content!