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I am really excited about all this news! Really excited!

The updates... the new game "family"... the upcoming modules... just shut up and take my money!!! :-D

It isn't just the games and modules themselves that I like, it's where I can envision BF going in the long term -- amphibious, melee, different theaters (Pacific...), etc. I've been riding a nice little high since I read the news.

I do have a multiplayer question, though! Are their any plans to develop MP changes that will allow for more than two people per game? In some other wargames I've played, OOB's can be parceled out across a few players. For example, in the Civil War game Scourge of War - Gettysburg, a players can take command of brigades or divisions within a corps and coordinate plans. I would love to see, say, four players on one side each taking a rifle platoon with one man as the company commander, against four other players of a similar unit. Or maybe even in larger multi-company/battalion scenarios where responsibilities could be spread out over a few players. Add chat tools like TeamSpeak to the mix and you've got the potential for a heck of a night of gaming, team tourney's, etc...

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It isn't just the games and modules themselves that I like, it's where I can envision BF going in the long term -- amphibious, melee, different theaters (Pacific...),

Wonder if BF will add assault boats at some point. These craft shouldn't prove too demanding to model. There were a couple of marquee amphibious operations during Market Garden. For example Robert Redford's, er, Julian Cook's 'Hail Mary' crossing of the Waal.

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Upgrades do offer us the opportunity to invest more in a feature sooner because it has a potentially bigger audience than if it were limited to one game now and then more games in the future. Also, a feature which isn't all that sexy, but is difficult to do, is probably more viable now because we can spread the development cost over more customers than we otherwise could.

We have no immediate plans for multi-multi-player. There's a lot of deep discussions about this in the Normandy and Shock Force forums for those who are up for a bit of research. In theory we would like to do it, in reality it's a huge investment and we're not so sure about the return. For now we think adding dozens of other requested features is a better use of the time it would take to make what we have like to call CoPlay.

Steve

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Correct about Market Garden requiring Upgrade 2.0. While it is possible for the Upgrades to be backwards compatible with existing content, Modules/Packs are almost always going to take advantage of new features and that means the Modules themselves are not backwards compatible.

In the case of Market Garden, all 3D models and textures will use the new mapping features and lower polygon counts for better performance. All prior CMBN 3D and textures, including Commonwealth, will also be upgraded as part of Upgrade 2.0.

Astute readers will note that I mentioned the term "Packs" up above. This is a term we have not used publicly much, if at all, so far. However, you will see a lot more mention of this in the months and years to come. So let me take this moment to start the education process :)

A big bottleneck in Modules is the tight focus of the content. This means we have to fully develop the theme and also provide Campaigns and Battles to support that theme. It is very time consuming for many reasons.

You have seen me talk about the "odds and ends" concept relating to Normandy. Specifically releasing a bunch of rare/strange vehicles, formations, and perhaps even terrain. A "Pack" is just that... a collection of things which are collectively cool, but not related to each other thematically. For example, we might include British Funnies, German converted French vehicles, German Stomach/Ost Battalion TO&E, the church of St. Marie Iglesias, Rommel Asparagus, etc. See what I mean about no real common theme other than "ooo... that would be cool!"? :)

The point about Packs is we can do them faster than we can Modules. We can also price them according to how much stuff we cram into them. Maybe we do a couple of fairly small, more focused Packs ("German Normandy Defense Variety Pack" and "British Funnies and Oddities"), maybe we do a larger Pack ("Normandy Oddities"). It all depends on our schedule and what we think is worth doing.

The last part is important for us. Since we can crank out more Packs in a year than Modules, this means overall you guys will get more stuff to play with in a shorter period of time. The downside is there will be few, if any, Campaigns or Battles in the Packs. And that means you can't get in and start playing with the new stuff until people make battles with them or you like to play QBs. A Pack, however, could simply be a bunch of Campaigns and Battles. It's all very flexible and we're not going to get nailed down to anything right now, hence not making much mention of it until now.

Steve

Just a quickie regarding packs. As someone who plays almost exclusively multiplayer, do all of my opponents have to own the same packs to play?

I can see this all getting very confusing in the style of some other games out there that can almost be unplayable due to the amount of Mods available or differing versions.

Im all for as much content as possible but the games seem to be heading directly along the single player path right now. However, I do realise that this is where the money lies as the majority of CM is played by this method.

Will there still be patches to games or will this method be replaced with an upgrade only?

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I am certainly not an official source - just a happy customer. But I think I get where BFC is going so lets see if I can answer your questions and get it right.

Just a quickie regarding packs. As someone who plays almost exclusively multiplayer, do all of my opponents have to own the same packs to play?

A bit of yes and no here. Both opponents will need to be playing the same version of the game. You both need 1.01 or 1.1 to play (I currently have both of those installed on my machine since I still have a game going on the 1.01 patch). Packs will not be much different from modules in terms of inter-play.

Consider the CW module: CW needs the base game patched to 1.1 to work. But I can still play against an opponent who only has the CMBN base game (patched to 1.1 though) as long as we stick to scenarios that are designed with the base game. Same will happen for packs.

Consider a hypothetical future where there is a Funnies Pack that ships next. If you have CW installed and I have CW plus the Funnies Pack we can play as long as we stick to scenarios that were designed with the base game or the CW module.

The question I have left is will the game be coded to recognize what version is the minimum needed? By that I mean if I have the CW plus funnies pack and I design a scenario will the game be smart enough to indicate that the scenario is playable with the CW version of the game as long as I don't include units only available in the funnies game or will it just flag it as needing the funnies pack if I have that pack installed when I create the scenario?

NOTE: The above is a hypothetical future my made up pack is not real I just used it as an example. :D

I can see this all getting very confusing in the style of some other games out there that can almost be unplayable due to the amount of Mods available or differing versions.

Thankfully Mods for this game are totally orthogonal (love that word) - separate from the features so Mods will not cause confusion.

Will there still be patches to games or will this method be replaced with an upgrade only?

Patches are for bug fixes upgrades are for new features. Patches are *not* going away anytime soon - cause neither are bugs. :D

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We have no immediate plans for multi-multi-player. There's a lot of deep discussions about this in the Normandy and Shock Force forums for those who are up for a bit of research. In theory we would like to do it, in reality it's a huge investment and we're not so sure about the return. For now we think adding dozens of other requested features is a better use of the time it would take to make what we have like to call CoPlay.

Level of effort depends on what kind of CoPlay functionality you want to add. I absolutely agree that supporting RT CoPlay would be pretty hairy. But I'm pretty sure the majority CM multiplayer is PBEM WeGo.

At the present moment, I think it is theoretically possible for multiple players per side to email a saved PBEM game back and forth in the Orders phase, with each player assigning commands to a specific agreed subset of forces and perhaps even observing an Iron mode honour system not to click on friendly units he doesn't command to preserve own-side FOW.

Replays can similarly be shared; it's just a matter of file naming. How hard would it be to write a set of subroutines or even a separate file sharing/naming program that automates the process, together with creating some text files that allow limited communications among allied commanders.

I agree that even with PBEM you could easily go down the rabbit hole of overcomplexity, trying to address contingencies relating to multiple layers of command, HQ/C3 disruptions, bad radio atmospherics, and yadayada. But it doesn't have to be that way.

In a related vein, you might also consider allowing some (or even all) units on both sides to be computer / AI controlled (assuming the designer programs this in), allowing players to command a small (and more manageable) force in a larger operation. That same functionality could also support CoPlay where only specific units are controllable/ clickable by a given player (password guarded), while the rest are not.

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Upgrades do offer us the opportunity to invest more in a feature sooner because it has a potentially bigger audience than if it were limited to one game now and then more games in the future. <snip>

We have no immediate plans for multi-multi-player. There's a lot of deep discussions about this in the Normandy and Shock Force forums for those who are up for a bit of research. In theory we would like to do it, in reality it's a huge investment and we're not so sure about the return.<snip>

See what Steve did there. Gave "co player" supporters hope and then took it away but the hope still hangs around there in the back of our minds.

Well answered:)

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You'll need to purchase the upgrade for each title.

I can answer number two as well. They are doing 4 East Front titles. One for each year of the war...plus appropriate modules. If you judge by CMSF's content and CMBN projected content that will be 4 titles and 12 modules.

Mord.

41, 42, 43, 44, 45 = 5 years. Should this be 5 titles or will the games go approximately June 41 til May 42, etc? With Bagration being 1st game and if they follow June to May time frame, this will include Berlin. :)

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Yeah, I'd imagine winter and spring will get crammed into the Bagration modules. Probably not much difference in the spring and summer textures so, not much work if any. But that timeline was going by stuff Steve said way back, I think even before CMBN was published. But who knows? Things are changing around here quicker than I can blink.

Mord.

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Level of effort depends on what kind of CoPlay functionality you want to add. I absolutely agree that supporting RT CoPlay would be pretty hairy. But I'm pretty sure the majority CM multiplayer is PBEM WeGo.

At the present moment, I think it is theoretically possible for multiple players per side to email a saved PBEM game back and forth in the Orders phase, with each player assigning commands to a specific agreed subset of forces and perhaps even observing an Iron mode honour system not to click on friendly units he doesn't command to preserve own-side FOW.

Replays can similarly be shared; it's just a matter of file naming. How hard would it be to write a set of subroutines or even a separate file sharing/naming program that automates the process, together with creating some text files that allow limited communications among allied commanders.

I agree that even with PBEM you could easily go down the rabbit hole of overcomplexity, trying to address contingencies relating to multiple layers of command, HQ/C3 disruptions, bad radio atmospherics, and yadayada. But it doesn't have to be that way.

In a related vein, you might also consider allowing some (or even all) units on both sides to be computer / AI controlled (assuming the designer programs this in), allowing players to command a small (and more manageable) force in a larger operation. That same functionality could also support CoPlay where only specific units are controllable/ clickable by a given player (password guarded), while the rest are not.

I've heard of these multi-gamer PBEM games. I suspect it works great for those who do play it, but I feel like it would be too slow a process to finish a game (IMHO ... and I don't want to split hairs). I feel like a 30 minute battle in RT would take days or weeks (size depending, of course).

I do understand that there is a lot of data that would need to be transferred from player to player, which would certainly make developing a larger MP system a challenge, but in a game that simulates a tactical battlefield, there is no substitute to RT (think: "OODA" Loops), especially when you have multiple subordinate commanders on the field ... different tactical styles, approaches to field problems, etc. I think it would be unnecessary to include a VOIP system (or simulate radio problems, etc...). That would be "a bridge too far," so to speak. There are plenty of third-party, low memory impact programs around for that (like TeamSpeak).

With both "big-house" games like Total War and Men of War and smaller indy game like Wargame: European Escalation and SOW: Gettysburg (it's virtually a whole new game with CoPlay), I find it hard to fathom that Battlefront wouldn't see the value in RT CoPlaying.

But... I'm not a programmer, either, so I'm sure there are things I'm not seeing, and I certainly don't mean to thread-jack. No matter what, I'm buying these !#@$in games!! :D:D

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You'll need to purchase the upgrade for each title.

I can answer number two as well. They are doing 4 East Front titles. One for each year of the war...plus appropriate modules. If you judge by CMSF's content and CMBN projected content that will be 4 titles and 12 modules.

Mord.

Thanks Mord, I appreciate the response, although I'm a bit puzzled by the necessity for customers who want the 2nd CM:BN module to purchase both an upgrade and the module, if I'm understanding you correctly. It would make a lot more sense to me for BFC to include the upgrade with the later module (with an option to by a stand alone upgrade for those who don't want to shell out the full price for a module they aren't interested in, but who still want the latest and greatest version of the CM:BN base game).

I'm a great fan of the CMx1 family and I certainly don't begrudge them trying to extract a higher return for their work. I probaby got more game play value out of the original CM series than any other game I've ever owned. Nonetheless, the new plan sounds like they may be slicing the salami a bit thin (to resurrect an old metaphor). I suppose the test will be in the pricing and content offered with the new scheme, but even best case on value, it does seem like it's going to lead to an awful lot of fragmentation, with various base games, modules, packs and upgrades. Time will tell.

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It would make a lot more sense to me for BFC to include the upgrade with the later module (with an option to by a stand alone upgrade for those who don't want to shell out the full price for a module they aren't interested in, but who still want the latest and greatest version of the CM:BN base game).

I'd think it'd be bundled. That is, the v2.0 upgrade + the Op Market Garden module would be bundled. But I doubt the v2.0 upgrade would be part of the OMG module. Mainly because - in my limited understanding of things - I think CMBN and CMBN:CF are going to be upgraded to v2.0, meaining that in about 6 months time anyone who is buying CMBN for the first time will be getting CMBN v2.0, and there'd then be no point in them buying OMG with a v2.0 upgrade.

Currently:

1) there are some people with CMBN v1.10

2) there is a slightly smaller pool of people with CMBN v1.10 AND CMBN:CF

3) there is a vast pool of people who have neither

In a few months:

v2.0 upgrade will be available

OMG will be available (and only available as v2.0)

CMBN will be available as v2.0 (but not as v1.10 anymore)

CMBN:CF will be available as v2.0 (but not as v1.10 anymore)

Some proportion of 1) won't want anything, and keep their game exactly as it is now

Some proportion of 1) will want to upgrade to v2.0 (but not get CMBN:CF or OMG)

Some proportion of 1) will want to upgrade to v2.0 and get CMBN:CF (but not get OMG)

Some proportion of 1) will want to upgrade to v2.0 and get OMG (but not get CMBN:CF)

Some proportion of 1) will want to upgrade to v2.0 and get CMBN:CF and OMG

Some proportion of 2) won't want anything, and keep their game exactly as it is now

Some proportion of 2) will want to upgrade to v2.0 (but not get OMG)

Some proportion of 2) will want to upgrade to v2.0 and get OMG

Some proportion of 3) will want to buy CMBN v2.0

Some proportion of 3) will want to buy CMBN v2.0 and CMBN:CF

Some proportion of 3) will want to buy CMBN v2.0 and CMBN:CF and OMG

Some people will want to buy a cheeseburger

Keeping the v2.0 upgrade discrete from any of the modules makes it easier for everyone to get what they want, without having to double-purchase any particular element.

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Thanks Mord, I appreciate the response, although I'm a bit puzzled by the necessity for customers who want the 2nd CM:BN module to purchase both an upgrade and the module, if I'm understanding you correctly. It would make a lot more sense to me for BFC to include the upgrade with the later module (with an option to by a stand alone upgrade for those who don't want to shell out the full price for a module they aren't interested in, but who still want the latest and greatest version of the CM:BN base game).

You're welcome.

You will be able to buy just an upgrade. But if you don't, the next module won't run.

So your choices are, far as I can see,

1. Keep your game at current game engine version.

2. Buy an upgrade and make your CMBN game 2.0,

3. Buy an upgrade to 2.0 + get the next module at 2.0.

EDITED: Jon beat me to it.

Mord.

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Quick answers:

1. Packs are no different than Modules from a multiplayer standpoint. Both players must have the same content in order to use those specific things. For example, Player A has a Base Game and Module 2. Player B has a Base Game, Module 1, Pack 1, Pack 2. The only common element here is the Base Game so that's all they are going to be able to use when playing. As with every game we've ever released, multiplayer opponents need to be using the same version.

2. The release of an Upgrade (not just the announcement!) basically signifies an end of active development for the prior version. That is not to say we will never patch the previous version, it's just that we aren't likely to as time goes on. And whatever is patched is likely to be a serious stability issue rather than a gameplay tweak.

3. Modules do not contain the Base Game EXE, therefore Market Garden (or any other Module ahead) will not itself upgrade anything. However, we will likely offer a bundle of Normandy Upgrade 2.0 with Market Garden that is less expensive than purchasing both separately. If you think about it, this is the only thing that makes sense. Because maybe a person purchasing an Upgrade and then later deciding he wants Market Garden won't need an Upgrade, so why should he pay for it? Someone buying into the Normandy Family after Upgrade 2.0 is standard won't need an Upgrade either.

4. Our intention is to get the Normandy Upgrade out to you guys as soon as we can. For now all priorities are on final testing of Italy, so we haven't started on it yet. In the future this pattern will repeat itself with the Upgrade coming out with a Base Game and us making the Upgrades for the other games right after when everything is settled down.

Steve

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Quick answers:

1. Packs are no different than Modules from a multiplayer standpoint. Both players must have the same content in order to use those specific things. For example, Player A has a Base Game and Module 2. Player B has a Base Game, Module 1, Pack 1, Pack 2. The only common element here is the Base Game so that's all they are going to be able to use when playing. As with every game we've ever released, multiplayer opponents need to be using the same version.

Steve,

what do you mean with "be able to use":

Does it mean, if a player wants to continue to play the old and the upgraded version, that he keeps his old v1 installation, installs the game a second time and upgrades that to v2?

3. Modules do not contain the Base Game EXE, therefore Market Garden (or any other Module ahead) will not itself upgrade anything.

Does this mean, if the base-game is upgraded, that the already present modules do not need your work to be upgraded, too?

Does this mean for the customer, that once he upgrades the base-game, the modules he had purchased will immediately work with the upgraded engine?

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Steve,

what do you mean with "be able to use":

Does it mean, if a player wants to continue to play the old and the upgraded version, that he keeps his old v1 installation, installs the game a second time and upgrades that to v2?

Yes, or duplicate v1.x and Upgrade one of the installs.

Does this mean, if the base-game is upgraded, that the already present modules do not need your work to be upgraded, too?

Yes.

Does this mean for the customer, that once he upgrades the base-game, the modules he had purchased will immediately work with the upgraded engine?

Yes.

Steve

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This is how I understand the whole new process. Please feel free to correct me if Ive got anything wrong and the examples I will be using are purely made up by me.

I own base CMBN and CW Module.

1. So before I can buy a MG (Market Garden) Module I will need to upgrade my game to version 2?

2. Buying CMFI (Fortress Italy) will give me a version 2 version of that game only and WILL not upgrade my existing version of the CM engine?

The CM engine is the version and the games are not.

3. BF then bring out what they are calling various packages. If I install the Flamethrower package and the German Paratrooper package I can easily play them in single player. If I want to play an opponent using these packages, then he has to purchase them as well. If he does not have them then the game files will be incompatible.

The above is how I understand the new system.

So in future, before playing an opponent I would need to ascertain:

1. What version of the game he is running.

2. What packages he has installed. This would be very important in a QB as I wouldn’t want to go through the choosing forces stage only to find out he cant run the packages.

I wonder how easy it would be for BF to implement the following:

Packages:

When new packages are released release them as a patch to everybody. However, to be able to use them you have to buy them.

This would mean that everyone could play every scenario but only those who bought them could initiate them. So if I didn’t buy the flamethrower package I couldn’t pick it in a QB but my opponent could and I would see it in our game. You never know, it might even encourage him to buy it after seeing it being used on him.

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