Armoured Commander II

Animated title screen

I’m currently working on a sequel to my original game. The scale is larger, there’s more detail in the map, and it will cover more periods and theatres of the war.

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Unit Selection Menu Implemented

No unit type description yet, since it hasn’t been added to the data anyway, but it’s now possible to select from a list of unit types. Next step is actually adding them to the battlegroup list and making sure that it stays organized.

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Unit Selection Menu

This is a mockup in REXPaint of the unit selection menu, with German units from September 1939 shown. I decided to separate the battlegroup building menu and the unit selection menu, both because it made more sense from a design standpoint, and so that this menu could be used in other contexts elsewhere in the game. This list includes all the vehicle units that will be available to German battlegroups in Sept. 1939. Operation Point (OP) costs are tentative and will be changed for balance in the future.

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Battlegroup Menu

It doesn’t look like much, but I’ve started to add the battlegroup building menu into the game, working from my initial REXPaint mock-up. Progress has been slower than I had expected because when I got to this stage I realized that the way in which I was storing data about units and unit types was very inefficient and would have caused problems further down the road. So I took some time and converted my clunky XML -> variables and dictionary system into a pure JSON and dictionary system. This makes it much easier to add stats to units later on and to access and organize information about unit types as is needed in this menu.

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Weekly Build for 8 September 2017

Weekly Windows build is now available, changelog follows:

– added a new debug flag: disable enemy AI (for testing)
– changed saved game compatibility so that first two numbers in version determine compatible saves (in the future, updates that do not break saved game compatibility will increment third number in version)
– added sound effect for 37mm gun firing
– fixed bug relating to when an enemy unit targeted by the player moves and the target indicator stays behind
– added additional modifiers for assault combat

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Campaign Menu in Progress

I’ve started adding the campaign selection menu into the game. At first the player will only be able to play a single scenario given these settings, but in the future a campaign will consist of many scenarios linked together, over which your crew will accumulate experience, skills, and injuries. Also seemed like a good time to start adding Polish forces as playable units.

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Weekly Build for 1 September 2017

I’ve packaged up a new weekly build and have uploaded it to the usual location. There’s a lot of new stuff and changes this week since I’ve been doing research work over the past while and have only had short chunks of time now and again to do development work.

I’ve only done a bit of testing on the more recent features such as assaults and sound effects, so if you run into any unexpected behavior please do report it. Full changelog follows:

Changelog for September 1 2017 Build

– Note: contents of config file have been changed and a new config file is included;
you may need to change settings back to how you prefer them
– added a message log window opened with ‘M’
– fixed a bug whereby turret-mounted weapons were not being marked and handled properly
– added the ammo type to the text of the Fire command for guns
– added a different highlight colour for armour penetration roll display console
– changed turn length to one minute on the game clock
– fixed pathfinding function to work with unit movement
– added squadron leader system for friendly AI units
– added a short pause after displaying a message without a unit highlight
– if player unit moves and gets an extra move action, cannot use weapons in that
activation
– fixed a crash when an enemy dummy unit is spotted and removed during its pre-activation phase
– changed certain to-hit penalties: no penalty for having moved last turn; -4 for having
moved this turn: will only apply in assaults; -1 per hex edge change for turret
rotation (max 3); -2 for hull pivot (max 6); these only affect first attack, not RoF
attacks
– changed firepower attack penalty: 1/2 firepower if moved: will only apply in assaults
– added a message describing the outcome of an AP hit resolution if not being displayed
on the screen
– recovery check from negative statuses now occurs post- rather than pre-activation
– added a menu option to manage ammo in ready rack; any movement into or out of means that weapon cannot maintain RoF that turn
– fixed an invisible but potentially annoying bug relating to the Next Weapon command in weapon menus
– added a simple display of scenario name and time remaining in the scenario menu
– pathfinding function for AI units now checks to see if movement along possible paths is
possible for that unit, checking impassible hexes, units occupied by enemies, etc.
– fixed a bug where an attack animation would not be drawn to the current location of a unit
– added a message for the result of an attack when not involving the player
– added ability to cycle top unit in hex unit stack by hovering over hex with cursor and
moving mouse wheel
– target of attack will automatically be moved to top of its map hex unit stack at start
of attack
– added assaults, for now AI units won’t initiate assaults but will counterattack if assaulted
– added small arms weapons to gun crews
– changed to semantic versioning; loading a saved game will check compatibility properly
– also added a warning for pre-alpha versions that will likely not be backwards compatible
– command menu is now hidden when AI units are active
– basic sound effects have been added with more to come

List of current known bugs:

– message display when a target is spotted after a hit interrupts the attack console display
– Polish 75mm AA gun should not have an AP round (unit has been removed from game for now)
– bug where enemies outside of LoS can attack player is still happening?
– player’s target LoS is being displayed during the LoS animation for third-party attacks
– turret counts as rotating when hull pivoted: will fix in future by checking facing relative to hull

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Quick Update

I’ve uploaded my current working version to the GitHub repository, with many of the new additions and changes planned for the next weekly build included. I’ve added a sound effect system with one in-game effect implement so far, with more to come. No guarantee that this version will be crash-free: there’s lots that has been changed and I haven’t tested everything fully yet. But it’s uploaded for anyone who wants to give it a go!

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Voices from the Past: Passchendaele and Dieppe

No progress update today (although there has been a fair bit of progress – assaults are coming!) instead I’d like to link two tank-related stories that happened 100 and 75 years ago this week:

During the Battle of Passchendaele, the British Mark IV tank “Fray Bentos” became stranded and its crew held out for 72 hours before escaping to friendly lines.

The Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942 landed 29 Churchill Tanks on the beach from the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, all of which were lost in the battle. Stan Edwards, who fought in the raid, recalls his experience.

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A Look Ahead

I wanted to record a playthrough of this week’s build but it doesn’t look like that will be possible today, so instead I’m going to write a brief outline of my near-term plans for development of Armoured Commander II.

Since I cracked the core gameplay pattern back in May, I’m really pleased with how ArmCom2 has come along. Unfortunately before that I spent a lot of time and effort on game elements that were later abandoned (for good reasons, I think) but even so, much of what I worked on has helped lay the groundwork for the current state of the game. Recently, every time I add a new feature or a new group of units, it really feels like the game is heading in the right direction. The play experience is a little reminiscent of ArmCom1 but also quite different, so hopefully I’ll be able to fulfill my goal of fixing some of the major problems with the original game while moving much further with the scope of the sequel.

There are hundreds of vehicles and weapons and dozens of battlegrounds that could be added to the game, drawing upon the war’s history back as far as 1937 and forward into 1945. Drawing upon on my experience making ArmCom1, however, I am doing my best to be diligent in keeping the scope of the game small and focused while I make sure that its core components are built up properly and that the game, before all else, works and is fun to play.

To that end, my plan for Alpha 1, which will be the first version of the game where all the essential core elements are present (though likely not bug-free!), is fairly limited but it will hopefully be enough to give players a taste of what’s planned for the long term. In Alpha 1 the player will be able to choose to play either a German or a Polish armoured commander starting in September 1939, build a battlegroup made up of their own tank and supporting units such as more tanks, mounted infantry, armoured cards, artillery and air support, and so on. Through a series of scenarios players will build up Victory Points, earn military awards, and acquire experience and skills for themselves, their crew, and their subordinates. The scenario will end in early October 1939 with the fall of Poland. Unfortunately it doesn’t make sense to allow the player’s actions to influence the history of the war, since it would quickly require accounting for a number of speculative historical outcomes. They will, however, be able to contribute as best they can in their corner of the war, even if they can’t turn the tide of the overall conflict. Beyond Alpha 1, players will be able to continue beyond the end of the campaign, on to the Low Countries and France for German characters, and into the Free Polish forces for Polish commanders.

I don’t have a timeline for when Alpha 1 will be ready, but my plan is to continue working steadily and to keep uploading weekly builds when possible as well.

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Weekly Build for 4 August 2017

I’ve just uploaded this week’s Windows build to the usual download location. A list of changes follows below:

  • firepower and AP hits are now resolved at the start of a unit’s activation, giving attackers a chance to pool their attacks on targets
  • changed layout of unit info screen, including that used for player unit
  • added a basic unit info window, opened by right-clicking on a map hex in the viewport
    • if there is more than one unit in the hex, player can cycle through viewing them
  • added an additional damage roll after a penetrating hit on an armoured unit or gun;
    Minor Damage results not implemented yet
  • rolling for an additional move only grants further move actions, does not trigger an entire extra activation for the unit; missed turns continue to operate as before
  • reorganized the left display panel, giving more space to command and hex info consoles
  • disabled spawning the Polish 75mm AA gun since it has to be limited to HE rounds, and this is not yet possible in the game engine
  • immobilized result implemented: player tank and enemy vehicles can no longer move if so affected
  • changed appearance of hex highlight animation, is now tied to a particular unit in that hex
  • re-enabled scenario summary screen displayed at start of new scenario
  • units are now highlighted when resolving AP hit(s) on them
  • added modifier for gun attacks: -1 if rotated on a turntable before firing, -3 if crew had
    to pivot entire gun to fire
  • added AI step so that guns might pivot to face a target without firing, in preparation to
    possibly fire next activation
  • slight change to how dummy units are spawned, meaning they won’t be clustered together but rather spread out among different squadrons / platoons
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