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Change Log v403 to v404_AA

MajorH TacOps Developer

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Below are the changes that have been made to the TacOps4 program since v403_FE.

Best regards, Major H.

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User Request. Added the following US vehicles: Truck M977 + HMG, Truck 939 + HMG, Truck M923 + HMG, Truck M35A2, and Truck M35A2 + HMG.

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Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. When an umpire chooses to run combat/movement phases that last longer than one minute, an autosave file is now created for each minute. Previously an autosave file was created only for the first minute of a multiple minute combat/movement phase.

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Joiners in multi mode do not save or recover a temp sit file anymore. If there is a problem during sit update or orders exchange then that player's situation is simply cleared to zero and he is informed that the host knows about the problem. Joiner in two player mode still saves and recovers a temp sit file.

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Improved the dependability of the cancellation process when the host/umpire chooses to cancel an ongoing orders exchange or situation update.

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. When a joining player loses connection to the host/umpire computer the program no longer requires him to quit the program before he can attempt to rejoin the network. The program now automatically reinitializes that player's program without quitting, returns him to an empty map display with no units in play, and then restores his ability to log back onto the network.

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Remote players no longer automatically save a ztempSituation.net file at the beginning of each situation update or orders exchange. This change should save one or two seconds per player during situation updates and orders exchanged during Internet games - more if older computers are being used. Previously, joining players did this so as to provide a situation recovery file in case of error during the situation update or orders exchange. Recent dependability improvements in the program and the new hard line attitude toward players who can not complete a situation update or orders exchange made the joiner recovery file largely obsolete. Players who fail now during a situation update or orders exchange will be automatically reinitialized to an empty map display with no units in play. The host/umpire is also now automatically notified that such players will require a situation update before play can proceed to the next combat/movement phase.

Mac only. Enhancement. Deleted use of Mac format resource files for playing splash screen music and end of game music. Mac version now plays zFanfareB.wav and zFanfareC.wav - same as the Windows version.

Bug fix. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Autosave files created on the host/umpire computer during a multiplayer teams game failed to replay accurately when repeated. The autosave was wrongly being done before the host had collected orders from the players.

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Enhancement. Added Game Replay feature. The game replay feature automatically links and displays a series of saved game files. The feature is controlled with an on-screen control panel containing play, pause, and skip buttons similar to a CD player. This feature is intended mainly for viewing a completed game. It is not intended for replaying turns merely to refresh the player's memory of recent game events. The latter usage is possible but it is intentionally inconvenient.

If any force color is protected by a password, the replay feature will not work unless the viewer knows the password for that force color.

In order for the automatic linking to work correctly, the saved game files must follow the following naming rules.

(1) Each filename must begin with a twelve character sequence that consists of "AutoSave" followed by four numeric characters (0 through 9) with padding zeros if needed to produce a four digit number. Examples: "AutoSave0000", "AutoSave0001", "AutoSave0100", "AutoSave9999", etc.

(2) Each filename must end with an extension of ".tac".

(3) It does not matter what if any characters appear in the filename between the first twelve characters and the ".tac" extension.

(4) There can not be a numerical gap between consecutive files that is larger than five. If a gap greater than five is encountered then the replay will stop at the gap.


OK -> AutoSave0002.tac, AutoSave0007.tac, AutoSave0010.tac, etc.

NOT OK -> AutoSave0002.tac, AutoSave0008.tac

Note that it is possible for a folder to contain several auto save files that begin with the same twelve characters. The replay feature will display the first file that it finds that begins with the twelve characters that the program is looking for.

Example: A folder contains the following files.

AutoSave0005 021115_1835.tac

AutoSave0005 021115_1840.tac

AutoSave0005 021115_1843.tac

The program will display the file named AutoSave0005 021115_1835.tac and skip the other two.

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v403_FM and v403_FN

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Joining players can now optionally enter a requested PIN in the joining log on window. This PIN will be passed to the host with the log on request message and will appear in the PIN assignment box in the window that is presented to the host each time that someone requests to join the game. Previously, this box was always blank on the host computer and the umpire had to manually fill it in - usually after consulting a paper memory aid of call signs and PIN assignments. Background. The decision was made during the early Army testing to leave this task to the umpire so as to reduce log on errors by inexperienced joining players. Later experience in large exercises has shown that this significantly slows down log on cycles and also leads to log on errors. In principle it should be much easier and more efficient for a single player to remember his pregame PIN and call sign assignments than it is for the umpire to have to recall or look up 20 to 30 of them. Use of this feature is completely optional as the joining players can choose to leave this box blank and continue to rely on the umpire to set it after the joining request is received. The umpire is still allowed to overrule the requested PIN and requested call sign.

Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. The program now remembers the PIN and the force color (or observer status) that it used in the last running of the program by saving these settings in the TacOps preferences file. When a joining player opens a log on window, the program will now automatically fill in his log on request window with the last used settings. The player is free to change these settings if they are inappropriate for the current game session. Previously, the log on request window always opened with the default settings for observer status.

Bug fix. Multiplayer Teams Mode. The program would crash on the host computer if a newly joining player quit or disconnected during the joining process while the host/umpire was reviewing the log-on approval window for that player.

Bug fix. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Discovered several routines that could crash due to a player quitting or disconnecting at inappropriate times.

Bug fix. Multiplayer Teams Mode. The program wrongly allowed players and observers to save the game. Only the host/umpire is allowed to save the game during multiplayer teams network play.

Bug fix. Multiplayer Teams Mode. The program sometimes failed to divert players into the waiting room who were inadvertently trying to join the game network during a situation update, orders exchange, or a combat phase. At those times the program would wrongly display the join approval window to the umpire and then sometimes hang.

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Enhancement. Multiplayer Teams Mode. Added "Ping Selected Player" button to the Network Status Report. Pressing this button will send a signal to the selected player/computer. A "success" sound will be heard if the target computer automatically responds to this signal within five seconds, otherwise an error sound will be heard. Failure to respond does not always indicate that the player is off the net - the target computer may have simply missed the ping or it may be performing a TacOps task or a background application task that takes longer than five seconds to complete.

Enhancement. Artillery Support Window. The status information line for an on-map mortar or artillery unit now also displays the optional text name for that unit if the player has assigned one.

Enhancement. The time displayed in the game time clock in the lower left corner of the map window can now be changed by use of the "Options/More Options" menu item. This feature is intended mainly for use by a scenario designer who is editing an existing scenario - preferably during the first few minutes/turns of a given scenario. The time displayed by this clock is currently almost completely cosmetic, so changing the time setting will usually have little if any effect on actual game play or the current game situation. The known exceptions are possible undesired side effects if there is an activated bomb in play or if a unit is engaged in breaching operations.

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Enhancement. Multiplayer teams mode. The situation update and order exchange processes are no longer canceled if a player computer becomes unresponsive during data exchange. Each block of data that is passed during the situation update process and in the orders exchange process now has a progress timer. If a given player computer is or becomes unresponsive during any part of the process, that computer will now be automatically dropped from the network and the situation update or orders exchange will advance to the next player computer. The default progress timer for each step is 15 seconds. The umpire can choose to shorten or lengthen the progress timer from 10 to 120 seconds by using the "Network/More Network Tools" menu item. It is likely that the progress timer will need to be increased for Internet play or if there are a very large number of unit markers in play.

Enhancement. Multiplayer teams mode. Added much more code to track when actions performed by the umpire should be followed with a situation update to one or more players.

Enhancement. Multiplayer teams mode. The program will no longer allow an umpire to optionally force the start of a combat/movement phase when the program believes that one or more players need a more current situation update. The umpire must now always either update or disconnect such players before advancing to the combat/movement phase. The Network Status Report now highlights deficient players in red plus the statement " - needs situation update" or "requires situation update". Any player with the annotation "requires situation update" must be updated or disconnected before the game will advance to the combat/movement phase. A player with the annotation "needs situation update" is an observer and does not have to be updated or disconnected in order to advance to the combat/movement phase.

Enhancement. Multiplayer teams mode. Program does additional record keeping on whether a given player has units, arty, air, mines, bridges, entrenchments, etc in play. These records are then used during sit update and orders exchange to avoid unnecessary net queries and handshake responses. This change is unlikely to be noticeable on a LAN but should take a few seconds off of each sit update or orders exchange during Internet play.

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Bug fix. Multiplayer teams mode. If an ATGM was fired during the last 15 seconds of a combat turn AND if the range was so great that the flying ATGM could not reach its target within the last 15 seconds of that turn THEN one or more player computers (but not the host computer) would sometimes crash during the next orders exchange or shortly after.

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Bug fix. Map541c v1.0.0 had a defect. The file name was 541 but the map wrongly had an internal "check number" of 540. Thus when a Map 541 saved game file was reloaded, the program demanded Map 540.

Bug fix. The program failed to keep the menu bar disabled when a user opened and then closed a unit info window while the Order of Battle Report windows were open.

Bug fix. If an Order of Battle Report window contained more than one column of icons and if the user clicked on an icon in any column other than the leftmost column then the program would fail to open the correct unit information window.

Bug fix. Once all occurrences of a particular type of unit had been eliminated from a game, the program would fail to display the correct unit information window when the user clicked on a unit type icon in an Order of Battle Report window.

Bug fix. The program failed to disable control/command keystroke shortcuts while the Order of Battle Report windows were open.

Bug fix. The program would sometimes crash when the Support Report was displayed if the report included an on-map artillery piece that was being towed by a vehicle.

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Enhancement. When the Artillery Support Window is open, if an on-map artillery or mortar unit is currently being transported its mission box will be grayed out and the phrase "unavailable - is being transported" will be shown.

Enhancement. When a unit's player PIN differs from its parent PIN, both PINs will now be displayed in some unit status displays and in all PIN change windows. The parent PIN will be listed first, then a dash, and then the player PIN. The "parent PIN" field is only relevant when a unit is embarked aboard a vehicle or helicopter or when a unit is being towed. When a unit is loaded into a vehicle or helicopter or is towed, its player PIN temporarily changes to match the PIN of the unit that is doing the transporting. The parent PIN does not change in these situations and thus can be used to restore command of the transported unit when it is later unloaded or released from towing. The failure to previously display the parent PINs may have misled some users into making inappropriate PIN changes or into believing that some units had disappeared from play.

Enhancement. When opened in a network game the following windows will now check for certain problems in unit PIN assignment and will display any problems found in red text plus the phrase "** PIN Assignment Error ** at the end of each unit information line: Situation Report, Support Report, Change PIN Listed Units, Change PIN Selected Units, and Change PIN Off Map Artillery. If problem lines are ever found in these reports, the umpire should immediately stop the game and attempt to manipulate the PIN assignments for the affected units until the error annotation disappears. The umpire should then send a situation update to all players. Saved game files that were produced by any previous version of TacOps should be screened for PIN assignment problems before being used again in an exercise.

Bug fix. When the following menu items in the Network menu were used by an umpire to change unit PINs they would sometimes fail to properly set/reset the parent and player PINs for on-map artillery and mortar units when such units were being transported or towed: Change PIN Listed Units, Change PIN Selected Units, Change PIN Off Map Artillery, and Change PIN All. Bugs produced by this included intermittent damage to the artillery/mortar pointer list which would then crash the program the next time that the Arty Support Window was opened, lost units, duplicated units, and orders exchange hangs/failures.

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Bug fix. Program would sometimes crash if the user selected the "Orders/Set Engagement Range" menu item and then cancelled the operation by touching a key or by clicking on an empty point on the map.

Bug fix. Program sometimes drew a zero and a blank space at the beginning of a map place name tag.

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Bug fix. Program would sometimes crash when a user attempted to create and place a bridge marker on the map by using the "Build Bridge" button in the Options/Engineering window.

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