Developer Diary 11 – Summer of Systems

In other news, we’ve started working on vehicle models, and they’re already looking sweet…

If we are victorious in one more battle, we shall be utterly ruined — Pyrrhus of Epirus

I’m writing this on the back of three weeks spent entirely on scaling our mod-friendly map system to work with the huge map sizes required. Frustration abounds! While I’m sure the community will appreciate the new modding possibilities (see more below), I’m starting to worry that we’re over-engineering the whole thing.

To this end, we’re doing a Summer of Systems — in short, any low-level system that isn’t in by the end of August, we’ll just have to do without. A lot of what’s left is various 3D magic and similar nice-to-haves, so if we prioritize properly this is perfectly doable and the core of the game won’t be affected at all.

Modding the Map

The default map includes all of European and North African theaters this time around, everything from Iceland to Saudi Arabia. This should keep everyone happy… to paraphrase Bill Gates: 189.484 hexes ought to be enough for anybody. This is also about as far as we could stretch it in view of the distortions introduced by the map projection (we’re using Transverse Mercator).

The map editor currently lets you edit this, rather large, default map. More interestingly, it allows you to create your own maps based on the same underlying data that we’re using. When you create a new map, you get to pick your own scale (e.g. 1km or 60km hexes) and section of the map. The editor then pre-populates the map for you using geographical and other data from a shared database which we’re calling “map db” (yes we’re super creative).

This “map db” database is designed to contain more than just GIS data. For example, many rivers have changed course, or have been dammed, since the 1940s. Cities have changed names, borders have shifted, etc. Our plan is to keep the database up-to-date, and also at some point accept community contributions. I hope it helps with the modding – and I’m looking forward to seeing all sorts of interesting map and unit scale experiments.

Note that, since most of this system already works, it’s not in danger of getting axed during “Summer of Systems” 🙂

Design Implications

Can you guess where this is?

This new map workflow was perhaps a bit over-the-top, but now that it’s here it gives us an interesting opportunity. In some scenarios with very high unit densities (Overlord, Berlin etc.), we tend to “run out of hexes”. Remember the 4-deep lines of Soviet units in late war scenarios of Red Turn?

However, now that we’re able to quickly put together a zoomed-in version of any section of the map, we could actually go and do that for these few situations where we really need it. A small zoom of, say, 30% is not game-breaking I’d say, and the scenarios could end up much more playable. It’s an idea I’m seriously considering.

What do you think?

 

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11 Responses to Developer Diary 11 – Summer of Systems

  1. Sourdust says:

    Love the sound of it. One of the great strengths of the Panzer Corps system is that it isn’t fixed to specific unit or map scales – a “panzer” can be anything from a company to a division, a hex can be pretty much anything you want it to be. The abstractness is a negative for some, but it means a much greater number of scenarios than would be possible in
    a game system with a fixed scale. Unity of Command has some of the same flexibility in terms of unit size, but until now has lacked it on the map. So nice work!

  2. As to the second picture: yes, up is West, this is the English Channel 🙂

  3. HappyDaze says:

    Marko Hladnik posted, “…this is the English Channel.” Which took me all of three seconds to recognize (okay, I’m bragging; so sue me 😀 ) Seriously, this intrigues me. Keep it coming, please.

    Happy

  4. HappyDaze says:

    BTW, the quote by Pyrrhus that I first read in my translated copy of Plutarch goes: “One more such victory and we shall be totally undone” which I like rather better.

    Happy

  5. I didn’t say it was hard 🙂 But they asked, hehe.

    Looking forward to more diaries, as always!

  6. tom says:

    @Marko: for some reason I found it harder to recognize, which is why I put it up. There is no minimap yet, so when flying around the map you can literally get lost. I was thinking it was somewhere around Athens for a few seconds 🙂

    @Happy: the Pyrrhus quote was lifted right out of wikipedia. English is not my native language, and this sounded about right, so I didn’t look any further. Either way, it applies almost too perfectly 🙂

    Cheers!

  7. HappyDaze says:

    @Tom:

    You’re quite right about either translation getting the job done. It was over 45 years ago when I read the version that I quoted and the wording was so elegant that it has stuck in my memory and popped up on numerous occasions when it was appropriate! But I have digressed enough. Carry on.

    Happy

  8. BoringBall says:

    Are you guys planning on allowing players change the stats of individual units?

    Also will there be a release on Steam?

  9. tom says:

    A mod should be able to change the stats of any unit. This is already possible in UoC1 (by editing unit_types.xml), but now mod support will be more elaborate.

    Steam – well yes, obviously 🙂

  10. CC says:

    Those details on the tanks are sure to grab the attention of tank lovers. Hope to see the release on Mac as well!

  11. PeterG says:

    When is this game projected to be released?

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