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Ithikial_AU last won the day on August 30

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About Ithikial_AU

  • Birthday 05/06/1984

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    Perth, Western Australia


  • Biography
    Playing Combat Mission since "Beyond Overlord." Lurking forums ever since.
  • Location
    Perth, Western Australia
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    Public Servant

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  1. The only Tiger I's I've come across from a SS formation operating on the eastern front was a handful in August 1944 up in the Baltics. This was while was researching my Tukums campaign for F&R. The full SS heavy panzer battalion was being refitted elsewhere but one company of seven Tiger I's (from hazy memory) were sent east as part of the alarmed response with Army Group North being encircled in Estonia and eastern Latvia at the end of July 1944. Only one of the Tiger's was operational on the day my campaign takes place and it shows up in the campaign itself. Pretty sure I just used a Heer vehicle though. Basically, there wasn't a full SS battalion in the AO during the timeframe in question.
  2. I've always leant a bit more towards WW2, largely due to the greater variety of units and formations on offer across the titles. Whenever a base game gets it's first module the replayability jumps up quite dramatically I think. CW module for CMBN, GL for CMFI and now FR for CMRT all seem to have that same effect on the game family. Now if only there could be titles set before mid-1943 to really bump up the variety even more. I certainly don't mind the modern titles but the more blink and you're dead lethality of the units in play plus the one sided nature of forces (in CMSF especially) can work against playing these games longer term. Now for the controversial part, I'm probably one of the few on these boards that has very little interest in the Cold War setting. Early War WW2 > Cold War was always listed higher on my pipe dream wishlist agenda.
  3. Very nice. Yeah I did one of these many moons ago for CMBN before the MG module was released. Was sick of people asking me for a link to all my mods when I was youtubing. Wonder if @Bootie would be interested in hosting as a separate section in CMMODSIV. Would help out the newbies as a starting point.
  4. Testing – Scenarios and the Campaign When it comes to testing a final campaign there are two layers to consider; 1) do the individual scenarios play as intended; and 2) does the campaign flow from start to finish as intended. Testing individual scenarios can occur as they are being built, like what a designer may do when building an individual standalone scenario. However, there is one very large difference that is difficult to artificially ‘fix’. What the testers are playing will never match the end product that the players will realistically experience. Testers jumping into Mission 5, won’t be experiencing the battle with the results (including unit losses) the player has experienced leading up to that scenario in the campaign. It’s because of this that a campaign needs to be tested with full playthroughs and ideally by ‘blind testers’, or people who are unaware of the individual scenario designs including the placement of enemies. Also encouraging a tester or two to purposefully lose key scenarios to go down ‘lose’ pathways is also of assistance to ensure each pathway gets a degree of review. As a designer looking to help out testers, providing a visual campaign tree with small blurbs about what each scenario entails, including friendly forces the tester should have available, will provide them a big help. It’s this way they can identify if the campaign script and the core unit file is working as intended with the correct scenarios and forces showing up and the right time. This is not to say that individual scenario testing is a waste of time and shouldn’t be undertaken for campaign scenarios. For this type of testing, I advise referring to Jon’s Scenario Design AAR handbook for tips and things to look out for. However, testers moving through a campaign as a player and moving into follow on scenarios in a condition that a player will reasonably be in is the most important additional piece of information a tester requires after each battle. After Release When you release your campaign, the player will only require the .cam file that is generated when compiling the campaign. The game will only draw information contained inside the .cam file. There is an unwritten rule (until now!) in campaign design, and that is as a designer to hold on to all the component files that is within the generated .cam file. This is for security going forward as regular game patching and upgrading cycles may inadvertently break something or make the campaign unwinnable in the future as settings are tweaked. Perhaps the best example for of this was some early designed campaigns from the first release of CMBN when automatic weaponry effectiveness was a lot less than it is now. Playing these same campaigns today will likely lead to very different outcomes than the designers originally intended. If the designer does not want the responsibility, it is advised to provide the files to the players downloading the campaign files in case someone wants to fix any problems that arise down the track. Final tips for an enjoyable campaign from the player’s side And there we are. After just under 70 pages of writing and around 18,000 words that’s about it. Good luck for everyone that decides to take the dive into making a campaign. Some final thoughts and of course what I provide below is highly subjective. - Ensure it is winnable. It’s a game, not a slog! - Don’t expect your players to be a tactical genius. This may sound counter to the point of Combat Mission but even the most experienced players will get their ass handed to them from time to time. Ensure that under most circumstances a battle will always provide the player with a chance of ‘winning’. o This is not saying every scenario needs to be balanced, if anything most scenarios will need to be balanced in the players favour, especially where core units that need to appear in follow up scenarios are part of the mix. o For example. Let’s say the campaign is trying to be a historical recreation of every engagement that Easy Company, 506th PIR fought from Normandy through to Market Garden. There would easily be a dozen or more scenarios here with a real mix of forces the player must go up against. There is also no real replenishment historically available except for the replacements at the end of Normandy and before Market Garden. So, what happens if the player takes Carentan at around Mission 5 but suffers very heavy casualties in doing so? What happens next? The player is thrust into defending against the fresh 17 SS Panzergrenadier Division counterattack with no more than 20 soldiers to deploy? It simply won’t work and I can promise you the player will switch off in anger/despair before even attempting to defend Bloody Gulch. o The campaign by design should of pushed the player down the ‘lose’ route in this situation and either kicked the player out of the campaign as a whole or skipped to Market Garden noting Easy Company was not part of the defensive action. Don’t expect your players to be a Lieutenant Winters when the time comes. o This is extremely hard to get right and honestly won’t ever be perfect given the wide range of player skills out there and countless combinations of outcomes from each scenario from a game like Combat Mission. o As rules of thumb: § don’t rely solely on your designated Core Units for every single mission/task the player needs to achieve; § follow history as a guide throughout your design as a guide about what your troops could theoretically be expected to achieve; § ensure unique units are the backbone of completing objectives later in a campaign. (ie. The player’s core units are expected to fend off an armoured counter attack at some point, but the only has three possible 57mm AT guns at their disposal… and they were potentially lost two scenarios ago). Don’t ignore the narrative and make the player care for spending dozens of hours with your creation.
  5. 6 – Compiling, Testing and Post-Release “To improve is to change, so to be perfect is to have changed often.” Winston Churchill Compiling the Campaign – Putting the Final Pieces Together You’ve done all the work. Time to put the pieces together and release it! Well… almost. True, it’s time to compile the campaign but then there comes testing and tweaking to make sure it all works and flows as you intended. First, lets do the mechanical work and construct a campaign file. This is also the moment of truth to see if you’ve missed something big in your campaign script or the available scenarios. Remember you need to have multiple copies of the same scenario with a different file name depending on the campaign script and if there are more than pathway for a player to reach the same scenario. Step one is to open your Core Unit File in the editor. This is the file with all the core units for both sides listed out that you have by now imported into each of your individual scenarios. It is also the file that should have the campaign briefing text and graphics. It will also have the small image that will appear from the campaign selection screen. At this point you should also ensure that all your campaign files are in the same folder alongside the Core Unit File. This includes all of the individual .btt scenario files and the campaign script document. Any other files such as individual briefings text documents and graphics can be in the same folder – they won’t stuff anything up but the game won’t refer to them either. These should already be imported into the appropriate scenario. Step two is to click on the top left menu from within the editor and select the “Make Campaign” option. The image below is what I see when compiling my campaign for the Fire and Rubble release. At this point a pop-up with a green background will appear. This is alerting you of the items you need to make sure this process will work and what will happen once you hit continue. Essentially, the same as I have just listed above. If you are happy to proceed select the continue button. Something similar to the image below will then appear as the game asks you to select the appropriate Campaign Script file. It will search in the same directory and limit the selection to raw text files. Ensure you select the campaign script file and not a scenario briefing! This is also a good time to point out that the campaign script text file name (minus the .txt suffix) will be the name of the .cam file, or the name of the campaign as the player will see it in the campaign selection screen. So ensure your campaign script document is not called “Campaign Script.txt” or something similar. In the image below you can see my campaign script highlighted in red text. The campaign title within the editor itself (refer to blue arrow in the image below), will be the name used by the game as the player creates saved games to come back to, so ensure there are no numbers in this title to prevent any funny errors for the player. When you have located the campaign script click on it within the pop-up window and wait for a second. If nothing happens and you are just staring at the editor screen, then everything has worked successfully. You can now close the editor and from the main menu click on the option to start a new campaign. From this list your new campaign should already by listed as a .cam file has been created and added to the appropriate directory. But in 95% of cases (reliable statistical analysis of campaign designers) something will go wrong first. In these cases the game will stop what it is doing and a .cam file will not be created. Essentially, nothing will happen. A red background pop-up will appear outlining the problem. Below are some examples of errors that can appear. The first example below is an error caused by one of the outlined battles in the campaign script not existing in the directory. A common reason for this to occur is that the specific .btt file is in another folder or there is a naming difference between the .btt file and the script itself. The second error below is somewhat similar to the first except that a battle that the script is trying to make a connection to, (through a Win or Lose pathway) can not be found. A common reason for this is that there is no unique .btt file created for that part of a pathway – common in very long campaigns where the number of variants of the same battle can increase substantially. Alternatively and similar to before, the error can also occur due to a naming problem between the .btt file and the campaign script. The final example is caused by some unknown characters in the campaign script the game cannot read. This usually occurs when players add dashes, semi-colons and other symbols into their campaign scripts and .btt file names. For simplicity purposes, avoid the use of these characters completely. The line number presented is where to look in the campaign script for the character that is causing the issue. A program like MS Word or Notepad++, which have line numbering options can help you edit your campaign script a bit quicker. Note that the game will stop trying to compile the campaign as soon as it hits one error. This means that only one error will be displayed, and you will need to exit the game, fix the error, and then try compiling the campaign again. At which point you may hit another error. You need to fix each error as they appear until none are reported.
  6. One thing I did when I was brought on board as a beta was to revamp the Dutch campaign from the NATO module with Imperial Grunt. One of the first things I did was to draw together the relevant bits and pieces to try and sync up and improve the narrative as we both agreed the briefings as they were, were light on details about "why" the Dutch were doing this. I started building up an updated timeline given the modules were created over the course of a few years and there were bound to be a few cracks. A key reason for this was the ending of the Dutch campaign given you link up with US Army forces (very minor spoiler...). Well if you know me I ended up going down the rabbit hole with this and it turned in a larger side project after the campaign was updated: - Went through all stock scenarios and campaigns to ensure they followed a logical timeline based on NATO's push across the country. Briefing text and dates in editor changed. Nothing of any individual scenario itself has been altered. - Created two maps. The first showing the initial formation deployments from kick off. Based on the briefings across the modules there were some changes since the Paradox printed map was released. The second had the location of every stock engagement (plus ChrisND's Taskforce Lightning campaign) and the daily progress of the overall campaign. - Mod-tagged the scenarios with the correct (or closest by best guess) formation unit patches on the NATO soldiers to add a bit of flavour. (Just US Army and British). Requires some community mods from CMMODSIV to work. - [Incomplete] Updating my AAR tracker tool to sort of create a meta-singleplayer super campaign assuming the player wants to run through the all content in a chronological order as Blue Force. Player can set their parameters for difficulty and measures for degree of victory or "defeat". Includes a chart comparing NATO casualties the player suffers compared to the real world Operation Iraqi Freedom and the follow on occupation of the country. Based on my progress so far either I'm a not a very effective commander or the scale of the scale of the conflict in Syria is much higher. (Probably the former). Then R2V and F&R had to be worked on so this rabbit hole has sat idle for year and a bit. No idea if BF want to "re-re-release" the work I did here as part of a patch cycle or not but at least for my own fictional head cannon. Ugh... wargamers and there hobbies.
  7. Cheers for the kind words Rinaldi (and @Xorg_Xalargsky). I think the secret is, and as written back in part 2, by doing the triumvirate of 1) Timeline, 2) Units/Formation and 3) Terrain at the same time and allowing the three to influence each other that you get this kind of campaign. For the two campaigns I've worked on and completed before Tukums (CMBN Lions of Carpiquet, and the refresh of the Dutch Campaign for CMSF2 NATO), I don't go into the project wanting the collective campaign to be unwinnable. A challenge, yes, the players losing the odd engagement, yes, but not unwinnable. For historical recreations just get as close as you can to the forces that took part and trust in the game to take care of the rest. If the player's side won the historical event then on balance the player should as well. If the player isn't the best at CM and just charges across open fields... well you can't fix that. As for Joe's Bridge, yeah that one was always a touch experimental with the way the forces come onto the map but I think the H2H crowd has some fun with it if the German player reads the briefing and sticks it out. I've since got my hands on some more material for the actions around that area of Belgium between the Guards Armoured Division and the hodgepodge of German forces just prior to Market Garden. Well down the list of possible project but on the agenda is a scenario for the Welsh Guard action at Hectel a few kilometres south of the bridge that occurred around the same time. The chance for recreating a historical engagement between Cromwells vs Jagdpanthers is a rare treat.
  8. Yes. I'm on holidays as of next week and one of the first things on the list.
  9. Not all Panzer Brigades were created equal. What you play with in CMBN and CMFB is not necessarily the same as what you are using in CMRT depending on date. This is mostly around the Panzergrenadier Battalion component of the brigade but also what was realistically available vehicle wise when they were forming these units. There was plenty of discussion on this prior to F&R release. IIRC if you look at the Scenario Design info in the "Battle of Tukums" briefing for more info. Short version: Panzer Brigade 101 - 104 first wave of deployments, followed the initial concept and TOE laid out in July 1944 by Hitler. Only deployed to the Eastern Front due to fallout from Bagration. Shows up in CMRT - F&R module only. Panzer Brigade 105 - 110 first wave of deployments but followed a second updated TOE that the German General Staff tweaked. Shows up in CMBN, CMFB and CMRT but the formations were introduced first by the Market Garden module. Panzer Brigade 111 - 113 second wave of deployments were shrunken down Panzer Divisions. More tanks and panzergrenadiers than the first wave deployments (2x Battalions of each) but no supporting elements (arty, recon etc) or additional regiment of motorized infantry. These brigades operated around Lorraine / Arracourt battles and were soundly defeated. No need for unique TOE in game as they used standard Panzer Division battalion TOE's. Most were gone by Nov 1944 as unique formations with surviving equipment and manpower being amalgamated into existing divisions. I think only Brigade 106 continued to operate into 1945 on the Western Front.
  10. CMRT the player has no control. The scenario designer can assign it as a reserve unit where it will come into play at 'x' minutes and start hunting for targets. Western front titles still allow the player to have some control over aircraft.
  11. Thanks for the feedback. I was aiming for this scenario to be an example of having the "wrong tools for the job" kind of situation commanders can find themselves in that calls for inventive thinking that goes against what a sane commander would order his vehicles to do under normal circumstances. In my own early tests (and I think some of the betas did the same thing) was to use your tanks in close support of the infantry going through the forested areas and away from the roads/open terrain. The Soviets lack panzerfausts and other handheld AT weaponry so really have nothing that can counter a platoon of tanks with close infantry support punching through with overwhelming localised firepower. You'll loose a few tanks for certain to either bogging or the odd grenade/close assault from Soviet infantry but should be able to push through. Reinforcing elements then focus beyond the bridge for the train station itself. As Mission 1's briefing intimates, the forces moving up on the left side of the river got the short end of the stick. Mission 2 & 3 are far more 'normal' with more space to manoeuvre. Still pondering whether to create a H2H monster scenario for this one combining all three engagements of this campaign onto the master map. Would be interesting how German players adapt and deal with the Train Station objective when they also have the Panzer Brigade available to them from effectively the start of the mission but on the other side of the river.
  12. Cheers Mate. 1) JPz IV - Blast someone noticed. Yeah they were so similar when I was creating the Late variant that I stopped. Will take another look. 2) Whoops!
  13. Ta. I'll add it to the list and review when there is a batch of issues to address.
  14. A projectile will still hit anything that is in it's LOF even if spotting is lost. If you lose sight of a target but still wish to try your luck you can do an area target just behind the last known location and see what happens. Some players on the forums have called this gamey, personally I don't think so given it's effectively firing at last known location. Just be warned the TacAI will likely use HE rounds for these types of orders so penetrating power likely a little less.
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