Developer Diary 8 – Campaign

Yes, this is what you think it is. Find a few more details about the new look at bottom of this post.

“I do not intend to send any more evening situation reports until the war becomes more exciting”

— Field Marshal Montgomery, one day prior to Battle of the Bulge.

A full update on the campaign game will take more than one post, but you need to start somewhere, so here it goes: an introduction. Check out the pretty pic to your left (you’re welcome!) and relax – it won’t be too long.

At its very core, the campaign game stays the same: you play at the operational level, meaning you don’t control production, politics, and diplomacy. Furthermore, since you’re playing all the battles, you are not playing as any one commander individually. In fact, you’re standing in for the entire operational-level stratum of your faction’s military, literally all of the three- and four star generals commanding at army and theater level.

While staying within that scope, we lined up a bunch of improvements atop the somewhat bare-bones campaign game of UoC1. As usual, your performance matters. Not only do you earn prestige, but the end situation in one battle will determine your position at the start of the next. The exact front lines won’t be 1:1, but key areas like objectives and bridgeheads will generally carry over.

We also want your units to be more than just disposable game pieces. Both the player and the AI get to reinforce between most scenarios, but heavy casualties, or units getting wiped out will definitely impact your order of battle. Fritter away First Armored? Then you’ll have a tough row to hoe for the next few scenarios.

Demise of the BV

As discussed earlier, there is now a mix of primary and bonus objectives, and that gives many more options to the scenario designer. The player doesn’t have to take all bonus objectives and has a decision to make: some objectives provide interesting toeholds for future battles, other give handy intel and supply bonuses. Capturing all of them might still be sort of possible, but it’s definitely not the optimum thing to do in the campaign.

The consequence is that scenarios don’t need to be tuned on a knife edge for brilliant victories any more. I hate to say win-win, but for once it might be apt: making scenarios will be much easier, and the player will get meaningful strategic choices, that will also be subtly different in every playthrough.

Note that the difficulty is still there: some of the bonus objectives are still hard, and actually become super-hard as you move into counterfactual (what-if) scenarios. There is no emphasis on perfect performance in every single battle though. Bad weather and unfortunate dice rolls should be things you roll with, not a reason to automatically reach for the reload button.

Counterfactuals

One thing everyone sure loves in a game like this one is changing the course of history. The new campaign will let you do this, while at the same time trying to stay historically grounded. You’re playing as an operational commander, so you can’t go all Hearts of Iron and invade Spain instead of Normandy. Instead, at various points in the campaign (often, actually) there is an option to use your prestige and switch to a what-if scenario. Scenarios are pre-designed, so the game stays historically coherent, even if not 100% true.

Note the one big difference from UoC1 campaign here: this is not meant to give you all scenarios in one go. Because of bonus objectives and what-ifs, every campaign game follows a slightly different path. There are many twists to explore: anything between straight up history, and something like a Ljubljana Gap scenario is fair game (or make that Operation Sealion, once we get around to doing an Axis campaign).

While what-if scenarios lead to more difficult campaigning, their twin “catch-up” scenarios allow players who flubbed it in one battle to claw their way back. For example, an Allied player who loses at Kasserine Pass badly will get to catch-up by defending against a beefed up Operation Ochsenkopf. One lost battle wouldn’t make the Allies exactly quit the war, and presumably there would a renewed build up men and materiel. You are being handed another opportunity, general, so don’t blow it this time…

About the Art Preview

The game has been in actual production since May, and we nailed the looks of it recently, so I decided to show you a little preview. The lovely 3D art is by Goran, who only recently joined us. This is his first video game project ever, so if you like what you see please give him a shout.

Note that what you’re seeing are actual game assets, but still rendered with an offline renderer. Our own engine is catching up quickly though, and it’s a really interesting technical project. I’ll try to do at least one dev diary about what we’re doing to make this world appear, step by step, in our own 3D renderer.

Just like the last time around, we are making the game entirely in Python. The engine is built with Python 3, SDL 2 and OpenGL. And since this is the first thing everyone always asks – performance is just fine (wrt/ python). The important thing here is that the game is effectively single-threaded, which is ok for a turn-based game. If your project has more strict constraints on frame time, you may want read up on gilectomy before going full Python.

We will be at Gamescom in Cologne in August, talking a little more detail about the new game. Press people should contact us at media@unityofcommand.net.

Cheers!

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27 Responses to Developer Diary 8 – Campaign

  1. John P McMenamin says:

    Can’t wait for the full release! I so enjoyed the first game, even though it was a little stiff. 🙂 Great work!

  2. Marko says:

    I am willing to commit my funds towards the game already now, heck, even a full “season pass” (not that it works that way), especially if that helped with the development 😉

  3. Marc says:

    I really like the direction and new approaches you are taking in the new game. I am waiting with baited breath!

    Shout out to Goran, that art is dope!

  4. adin says:

    Finaly something to play 😉 I can not wait!

  5. Martin Rayner says:

    Very exciting preview of the new game’s artwork – it looks awesome. I sure hope that it runs on XP as I’m stuck with that OS until I can afford to upgrade next year. If not however, this will certainly be one the first things purchased as I just love the original series. It’s such a graceful, artfully designed and well balanced game.

  6. duhsveti says:

    The art is excelent. Can’t wait to get my hands on it.

  7. Mark says:

    I’m very excited about the changes to the campaign, seems like it will add a lot to the game. I like the terrain art, but I preferred the old bust-like art for the infantry divisions.

    Terrain goodies in the art sample:
    -Tunnels
    -Airfields
    -Farmland
    -Distinct Roads/RR’s/paths
    -Ridges
    -Fog of War?

  8. tom says:

    Thanks for all the nice comments folks!

    @Marko: thanks for the offer, though I feel we’re actually better off not having to ask for money in advance (we’re good, in other words). This means we can release the game *when it’s done* which is really the best way to do it.

  9. tom says:

    @Mark: good spotting 🙂

    Please note that “ridges” are in fact hills, although we will have ridges in North Africa, somewhat different looking. Farmland is the same as clear terrain, the farms are purely eye candy.

  10. Julian says:

    Please, just please, make it run on MAC OS again!

  11. SO says:

    Do you guys have any plans to support Steam Workshop? Seems like a great way to distribute custom scenarios

  12. Mir says:

    Very nice art, I am looking forward to the game release.

  13. Night owl says:

    Hey, this REALLY LOOKS GOOD!! Shouts to this young Goran, can’t wait for the release date to spend some quality time playing this game!

  14. nikdav says:

    i like very much the evolution and the shot is fantastic !!!!

  15. lime says:

    i loved the first UOC and this is actually the first i’ve heard of this sequel! super hyped already

  16. Marko says:

    @Tom: Absolutely, I agree that’s the best way to do it. Applying some self-analysis, I realize I thought of pre-order/season pass because I already know I will buy the game and all the future content, so I could use an early bird discount, LOL.

    Best of luck, guys!

  17. mgdriver says:

    Lookin’ good! Ready for the next round!

  18. Marja Erwin says:

    Hi,

    I have neurological issues, and can’t play certain games due to zooming, flashing, etc. I have been able to play Unity of Command, though I often have to avoid the computer during its turn, especially on the bigger maps. Will the new graphics add zooming, etc.?

  19. tom says:

    @Julian: yes, we plan to continue supporting the Mac platform.

    @SO: yes to Steam workshop.

    @Marja: yes, there is zoom in the new engine. This should make the AI turn much less reliant on swooping across the map. I hope that helps!

  20. Marja Erwin says:

    Hi,

    I don’t know whether my post went through, but I’d need to *block* zooming, because it triggers my migraines. (I use browser scripts to block Google maps and a number of other sources of zooming and animation online.) If it’s integral to the new game, then I’d have to skip the new game.

  21. tom says:

    @Marja: the new game won’t zoom automatically, so you shouldn’t have to block anything.

    You can zoom out *if you want* when watching the AI turn. This should help people who’ve had problems with the map view swooping around during AI turn (I’ve seen reports of this elsewhere).

  22. Chuck Berger says:

    Well, I still wish you hadn’t gone 3D, but given that you did, it’s a pretty clean result. Keep it simple & elegant, both in game design and graphics, as I know you will!

    One thing I loved about UC was the asymmetry of the German and Russian armies, with totally different attachments and stats. Do the Allies have their own unique attachments in this one?

    I dabbled a bit in scenario design for UC, might think about doing a proper campaign in this one if it is easy to do so.

    Let me know when I can give you my money!

  23. Holy.Death says:

    Two important questions:

    1. Will camera be set or will the player be able to control the angle?

    2. Will air support work the same like in Unity of Command 2? Figures are quite big so it’s hard for me to imagine planes “hovering” above units. Or do you have a solution for this already?

  24. tom says:

    @chuck: we’re working hard to make Allied forces nicely distinguishable from other factions (within the possibilities given to us by the game system, of course). US and UK will also differ a little between themselves. I’ll be giving more details in these diaries as we go along.

    @holy: the camera can be moved around freely, but it will probably be locked facing North by default (and then you can unlock it in settings if you want).

    Air game will be somewhat expanded, but attacking ground units will work in the same way: the plane comes in, drops its bombs and then flies away. I’ve been playing with a plane model similar to the one we had in UoC1 and it works just fine – looks pretty good actually.

  25. crfan says:

    Are you dead, UoC 2? Please, nooo… forums, email are all slient… no dev diaries… what will be coming? 😀 Or just say that you gave up, because pointless waiting is so horrible :\

  26. Richard says:

    haha crfan have faith. I like to imagine times when we get no news is because of how busy he is working on the game!

  27. Nom de plume says:

    Like UoC, will this be released for Linux as well?

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