A first sneak-peak at the DC : Community Project editors

For those of you who missed it DC : Community Project is the planned extra game. Free of cost, but initially only for upcoming DC3:Barbarossa owners. Later it will probably be made available to DC1 and DC2 owners as well. It is to focus completely on making DC easier to mod and design scenario’s with. Its aim is to promote cooperation, re-use and different levels of difficulty to edit in. I hope to have an early BETA ready within a few weeks, or at most a few months.

Here are a few screenshots: (click on them to enlarge)

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Above we see the troop type editor. Where you can create a set of tanks, gun and infantry trooptypes

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Above we see the historical unit editor. Where you can create a set of model units and their TOEs. It uses 1 or more troop type libraries

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Above we see the officer editor. Where you can create a set of officers. It can use 1 or more officer card libraries

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Above we see the map editor. Where you can draw and design a map

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And above here we see the most complicated screen in the Simple Editor: the library overview screen. In the Simple Editor you can actually not design a lot, but you can load other libraries (like troop type libraries, historical unit libraries, event libraries) and then configure them

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Above we see the configuration options available for the player to give instructions to the supply events loaded from the Basic VR Library.

As the name ‘Community Project’ suggests this is only going to work if people are willing to create content for it. The DC engine has proven to work and it has the potential to simulate a heck of a lot of conflicts. With some joint effort I really hope it is possible to kickstart modding and scenario design for DC.

With the new editors in place I hope to give budding and experienced designers the chance to use this engine to create their own unique scenario’s.

VR’s time is best spent on perfecting the new editors and adding more script libraries (to provide more design options to scenario designers), but if you are interested in making your own scenarios, maps, OOBs, TOEs, troop type statistics, etc… and want to be involved early on and help me debug the new setup drop me a line at vic@xs4all.nl with a motivation and what kind of scenarios you would like to create… and I’ll try to get you a beta entry. Either early on or later on. No promises, since I prefer at this stage to only accept people who have some experience with modding/scenario design with ATG/DC1/DC2. Later on when the bugs are out i’ll open up places for newbies as well.

Best wishes,
Vic

Posted in DCX : Community Project, Upcomming releases | 3 Comments

A Night out on the Town with Ms. Logistics

If Logistics was a demure young lady you’d ask her out for a date. What kind of evening would you be in for?

She’d be very precise. Very black and white. Utilitarian dresser, severe hair, sharpened incisors, full-on black rimmed, coke bottle, glasses.

When it was time to ask her what wine she would like with her dinner she’d tell you. In detail.

While you were congratulating yourself on finally finding a female who knew what she wanted, Ms. Logistics would inform you that she had, in the last month, downed exactly 3 bottles of the aforementioned tipple.

Mmmm, you’d think. Mmmm.

Not to be deterred she would proceed to tell you that she had 11 bottles of it tucked away under her staircase at home. As you stared at her, wondering what the heck was going on, she’d stare straight back at you and insist that it wasn’t 10, nor 12 but Eleven bottles, thank you very much. Eleven. Got it?

Yep, you got it. Should have ordered water…

On a roll, Ms Logistics feels obliged to let you know that she has another half dozen bottles currently in transit, courtesy of her friendly local web wine depot.

You ask who that might be, by now desperate to change the conversation to anything other than a full statistical breakdown of Ms. Logistic’s wine habits.

Expected to arrive next Thursday, she replies. After 3 pm. She’s insisted the delivery firm be on time.

There is an automatic order for six bottles every month, says she. Important not to let stocks sink below a critical level. What if there was an unexpected supply interruption? Or guests that suddenly arrive on her doorstep, expecting to be entertained?

Jeez. Guests? She has guests? Who the heck is going to visit? The bore-me-to-death society? Actuarial-Statisticians-R-Us?

Mistaking your frown for a look of puzzlement, she pokes an iPad under your nose. Yellow icons. Tool tips, she says. Tool tips containing further information. Press. Here. With your finger. Yes, finger! Are you slow?

You resign yourself to spending the rest of the evening doing hard yards with the analytical school m’am but console yourself with the thought that Ms. Logistics can be safely scrubbed from your address book.

Which would be a mistake.

Within the last week Ms. Logistics has had a DC3 makeover. She’s all glammed up. Curvy dress, lipstick. Flowing locks of auburn hair. Heels. A hint of a smile.

She’s gone from this…

log_perfect_0

 

To this.

log_perfect_1

Yep, visual on-map displays of your three logistical pipelines.

How does it work? Pretty simple. You’ve got your three stockpiles – Your Main Depot, Forward Supply Base (FSB) and Panzergruppe HQ. Each one is colour coded to indicate how much fuel is available at that particular location.

Grey indicates none. You can see from the above pic that the Main Depot of AGN and the FSB both have no fuel. This is because the total fuel allocation received this turn has been efficiently transported, by train and truck column, to the PG HQ where it is needed. Check the Logistics report above to see how that correlates.

Red would indicate less than one fuel quota present, Yellow between one and two quotas and Green two or more quotas (plenty, nothing to worry about).

Remember what a ‘Quota‘ is? It’s the amount of fuel required for the relevant in-theatre Panzergruppe (in this case the 4th PG) to maintain full operational tempo for a turn, eg. Every division expends all 100 AP (action points) available to it.

This is dynamically calculated every turn to reflect changing numbers of Panzers, halftracks and trucks within the Panzergruppe. It acts as a handy rule of thumb guide for determining your fuel status and negates the need for fiddly calculations.

If you’ve got at least one quota on hand (at the point of use, your PG HQ) then you can be assured that you won’t be having any fuel issues for this turn at least. The German General Staff used an identical system with fuel stocks being reported in available quotas, not actual amounts.

Log_start_2

Back to our pretty picture. Your bases are acting as they should and your PG HQ is coloured Yellow indicating between one and two quotas are on hand. All good.

But this doesn’t tell the full story. Having fuel at your bases is one thing, getting it transported through the pipeline is another. Your two transport links, train and truck columns, work on an identical colour coding scheme.

However in the case of your transport links, the colour is referring to how much available transport capacity is available. In the case above both links are showing Green which indicates there are enough trains and truck columns to transport at least two full quotas of fuel per turn.

Simple and straightforward. All the information contained in your number-intensive logistical report, but displayed graphically on the map. Watch your logistical pipeline extend, slithering and sliding, into Mother Russia as you advance.

log_big_Picture_1-01

Here we are in the early stages of the campaign. AGN is similar to the original pic except now their PG HQ is coloured Green, indicating two or more quotas. Even better.

AGC has two Panzergruppes, Guderian and Hoth’s 2nd & 3rd PG’s respectively. You can see the two HQ’s, both Green and well supplied.

The Main depot for AGC at Warsaw is feeling the strain of moving large quantities of fuel (the Forward Supply Base has just finished relocating to Grodno and there was a build up of fuel at the Main depot) and you can see the Rail link is Yellow. It’s handling it but there’s not a great deal of spare capacity available at present. It’ll probably revert back to Green next turn once the big slug of stockpiled fuel has gone through the pipeline this turn.

Notice the icons for the truck columns running from the FSB at Grodno have overwritten the train icons from the Main depot at Warsaw in a couple of places. This is happens from time to time and the decision was made to do it this way rather than have a smaller, more complicated combined, possibly dual coloured icon.

It’s not difficult to see what’s happening in the above case provided you remember the way the logistical pipeline works.

logistics_pipeline

In the big picture above, it’s AGS that is the most interesting. The rail link is having to take the long way around, via Warsaw, to the Forward Supply Base at Lvov because of an enemy presence near Przehysl (red circle – full points to anyone who can pronounce that).

From the FSB to the nearby PG HQ, it’s all good with ample stocks of fuel (Green HQ, two or more quotas present) but the Main depot is showing Red (less than one quota) indicating that the FSB has probably just relocated, like AGC, and the train system is struggling to clear the fuel back log, hence the Yellow train icons (enough trains for between one and two quotas present).

 

AGC, everything under control

AGC, everything under control

 

AGC, actual situation. There are buttons and hot keys to easily toggle the unit display on and off.

AGC, actual situation. There are buttons and hot keys to easily toggle the unit display on and off.

Below is an interesting situation.

What’s going on? See if you can figure it out before reading further.

log_cutoff_0
Well the Main depot has fuel, not a lot (less than one quota, it’s Red) but some. Both the PG HQ’s of AGC still have a small amount (same, Red) and are probably going to run dry this turn.

The FSB has nothing. But where are the transport links? Have a look at the FSB. How can a train trace a route along a train line or road (where there is assumed to be lower quality, secondary rail lines)?

It can’t, hence the absence of a train link. What about truck columns from the FSB to the HQ’s? The nearest HQ would indeed have a truck column active but because it’s adjacent to the FSB the truck icons aren’t shown. The other HQ, to the right, is cut-off. Truck columns aren’t possible either.

You’d be notified by your staff of the situation, as below, but you don’t need to have your minions tell you that the situation is dire. A quick glance at the map tells you all you need to know.

log_cutoff_1

Here’s another one. Guess away. Ms. Logistics is standing by with a prize.

log_fsb_0

It’s AGN and you are in the midst of relocating your Forward Supply Base. Fuel is piling up at your Main depot while this is going on as there are no transport links operating (the Grey indicates that the current transport capacity is zero) due to the disruption caused by the relocation. Contrary to the previous situation the transport links have viable routes, there just isn’t any spare trains or truck columns to utilise them.

Your PG HQ is starting to run low (Red, less than one quota). Did you remember to build up your supplies at the front line before ordering the relocation? Doesn’t look like it.

But, hey, there’s a war on and what Commander in their right mind is going to listen to the feeble bleatings of his Quartermaster General?

Did Napoleon? Did Hitler? Will you?

 

Close up. AGS campaign start. Stand well back, though, as you're liable to get slapped. Ms. Logistics takes her personal space seriously. And her wine.

Close up. AGS campaign start. Stand well back, though, as you’re liable to get slapped. Ms. Logistics takes her personal space seriously. Like her wine.

 

Cheers,

Cameron

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

The Dark Side of the Moon

First up thanks to all those people who responded to our call for Beta Testers. Not unexpectedly there has been some slippage in the schedule and February is looking more likely as a Beta kick-off. Still a happening event and we’ll be in touch once the rivers are all running in the right direction.

As a topic for this blog post I’ve chosen the ‘Dark Side’ by which I mean the slithering underbelly of modern warfare. In days of yore two armies used to line up on a prearranged battlefield and do their best to slaughter on another. Nowadays the most likely people to get killed aren’t the combatants, it’s the bystanders, the civilians.

This can occur as a result of ‘collateral damage‘, or increasingly, by the deliberate targeting of segments of the local population.

This isn’t a cheerful topic for discussion, in fact it’s downright unpleasant but it impacts on Decisive Campaigns 3. Operation Barbarossa was the single most lethal military operation in history. Of all the many millions who were killed, the single biggest group were civilians.

Swirling around in this bubbling cauldron were some pretty ugly politics and manifestos, two of the most ruthless dictators the world has seen and legions of people locked into a bare knuckled, eye gouging, fight to the death.

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As a game designer I need to resolve how to deal with the Dark Side. A common approach is to simply ignore it. Another is to highlight selective aspects of it in order to promote a particular historical viewpoint.

The first is an attractive option. Have a game that portrays a clean war. One where all participants adhere rigidly to the Geneva Convention and sit down and have tea and biscuits with each other, after dinner, once the day’s fighting is done.

The second is a non-event. As a designer I have to be agnostic. Political statements belong in the Political arena, not games.

Having sorted this out the question becomes what other approach might serve the game best?

The Dark Side certainly played a large part in the campaign and it’s inclusion could well be justified on the grounds of presenting the full canvas of history. Personally I don’t consider this a good enough reason and in the absence of a better one I’d opt for a ‘Clean War’ where the Dark Side is ignored.

However I think a case can be made for it’s inclusion solely on the basis of game play.

I used to play a strategy game called Galactic Civilisations II. Sci Fi 4X. You’d go to colonise a new world and an event would pop telling informing you, for example, that the indigenous natives of the planet were sitting on a key resource (Unobtainaniam – try asking for that at your local supermarket).

You’d be given a choice of either ‘forcibly moving them along, a-la-Avatar’ (to your advantage) or allowing them to continue living in peace (to your disadvantage). The game required you to make a choice and depending on what you decided, you’d find yourself moving further along a ‘Good’ or ‘Evil’ moral track.

I used to enjoy having to deal with these events because they were the only part of the game that really made me feel like I was actually in command of a space faring empire.

I got that feeling because I was making tough choices over the fate of sentient beings. It wasn’t the abstract tweaking of economic settings or having to decide what hypothetical research project I’d research next – it was a decision revolving around people.

Even though it was Sci-Fi I could still relate what was happening to the colonisation of my home continent on planet earth. There were resources here, there were natives. There was enough of a connection that I’d sit back and think for a moment before deciding on a course of action.

Now this isn’t the perfect analogy. In Galactic Civ II, following a path of evil was a perfectly valid option and one that was easy to rationalise away – ‘hey, they are only make below people in a make believe future’.

You can’t do that in DC3. The events actually happened. They affected real people.

Nobody who would play the game is going to deliberately choose an option that results in a massacre that may have happened historically. Nor should the game present such an option.

On that topic specific mention of actual Dark Side events shouldn’t happen. Nor should specific cultural or ethnic groups be mentioned. It’s a game, not a recreation of the top ten ugliest events of the twentieth century.

But, provided the Dark side is presented in a neutral, generic manner there may well be scope for presenting the player with some thought provoking decisions.

I’m thinking specifically of the German side. Here the player isn’t the Supreme Commander, he has superiors and has to take political considerations into account just as much as military ones.

The Dark Side isn’t something that he initiates. The people who authorised the ugly stuff were at a higher level. The Player, as Operational Commander, has a reactive role here.

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Reports, for example, have reached him of an ‘Incident’ in a recently captured city. His decision revolves around how he chooses to respond – will he initiate a formal protest in writing, make a phone call expressing his angst, ignore it altogether or actively support such measures?

The obvious answer isn’t as straightforward as it appears. He has been ordered to provide support in this area by the Führer himself (actually happened). Protesting is going to rock the boat and upset not only the Führer but also SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, both of which have ramifications for his ability to prosecute the war.

Protesting is also going to burn up significant amounts of Command resources (in this instance representing goodwill with High Command) that my be better spent lobbying for the release of Oil reserves or new Tank engines.

Taking a strong moral stance is both admirable and doable but comes with a heavy price tag given the political environment of the time.

You can, from this one example, begin to get an inkling of how there are some pretty curly decisions involved in Operational Command.

Decisions that are tinged with murky morals and ethics are the ones that really hammer home the difficulties involved. They highlight the grey, fuzzy, twilight zone that is a step beyond the black and white mechanics of a typical hex shuffling wargame.

It’s an important aspect of Operational Command that is becoming more and more front and centre as time goes on. Do you call in an airstrike on a Mosque full of people knowing that insurgent Command elements are inside? Do you authorise a drone strike on what may or may not be a wedding party, complete with suspected high target value guests?

The Dark Side is there specifically for game play reasons. It generates Decisions which firmly push the game experience, that of Operational Command, towards something resembling the messy, gnarly process that it is in reality.

Contrast this with the typical wargame decisions, most of them revolving around optimising, in one form or another, the numbers. Numbers and probabilities are all enjoyable in their own right but if that’s all you are dealing with then it isn’t Operational Command.

Yoda's in there somewhere...

Yoda’s in there somewhere…

To leverage the experience even further every time you make a decision in this area you are given a score which is tallied throughout the game and reflects the likelihood of you being charged for War Crimes at the completion of the War.

There is gamesmanship involved here because if you win the Campaign, it’s assumed you’d win the war (a fair assumption according to Historians). Winners don’t front Tribunals.

You’re reminded of this with each relevant decision. How far do you want to slide down the slippery slope of discarded morals in an effort to win the war? How desperate are you willing to be? Are you prepared to put your ethics first knowing that you’re creating obstacles for yourself that may prevent a victory?

Hard calls and this is the reason, the only reason, that a toned down, politically correct, Dark Side is in the game.

Not everybody is going to agree with this approach. There will be people buying the game who had family involved in the conflict, people who have grown up in the countries portrayed. Fair enough. The Dark side is presented as an Option. It’s OFF by default.

Oh, and for those wondering why it only applies to the German side it’s because as the Russians, your role is that of Stalin. He’s a Dictator and, as such, is unconstrained in his choice of actions. Pretty much a given that he’s mad, bad and crazy. Best to let him go.

As the Russian player, if you want to start lining up and shooting your Commanders then that’s up to you.

Knock yourself out.

Cheers,
Cameron

Posted in DC3:Engine, Game Design, Upcomming releases | 9 Comments

Nice flags and roundels mod for DC Warsaw To Paris

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Courtesy of Philippe a nice graphics mod has been uploaded replacing and adding a lot of the national symbols, peoples symbols, flags and roundels. New graphics are included for Slovaks, Canadians, Kiwi’s, etc…

Read up and get it over here on the Matrix forums.

Posted in DC:Blitzkrieg | 1 Comment