Modding C3 - Lessons from HEW

Discussion in 'Modding' started by Stu, Jan 17, 2016.

  1. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    An interesting list, I do not disagree with some of the broad areas and whether they are a weak point of the game engine the mod was created using or whether they are a weak point of the mod itself is perhaps a distinction we do not necessarily need to draw. Rather than call these factors weak points or criticisms perhaps we could term them areas for amiable discussion.

    Perhaps I could look at each one in turn:

    AI

    To coin a phrase "not my bag baby", I only ever played HEW in multiplayer as a mod that recreated historical battles so I know nothing about this area at all and can leave that to others perhaps.

    Battle conditions, basic squads sizes, formations shapes, well chosen units

    By battle conditions I take you to mean weather and terrain, the conditions on the ground. I would love to see it, I think it was impossible to achieve in the ACFB engine but to have fog and rain and mud and swamps all effecting movement rate and visibility would be great. As long as its effects were simply represented and the effect easy to understand. For example you march a regiment through broken terrain its movement rate slows. The terrain on the map is represented by bushes and holes and scrub and the effect is easily understood because the regiment is marching more slowly than it was doing over that nice open field a few moments earlier.

    Basic squad sizes, formations. HEW captured the line, coloumn and square (paper, rock, scissor) tactics of the era very well I thought. In today's age we are told that choice, choice, choice choice, is better. Until we are faced with so much choice the procees of choosing, becomes, in itself a difficult and stressful undertaking. In reality there were a myriad of different formations that units adopted. I am a great believer in capturing the spirit of an age in simple and enjoyable game play that is easy to understand, difficult to master and above all else, fun to play. Like chess.

    Well chosen units I take to mean the choice of unit type a modder adds. This, is a matter of preference I think and of time, a modder cannot create very different variation unless they are willing to give over vast amounts of time to a project.

    Combats in well organized squads using known historical tactics and strategies

    I think HEW captured this well as set out above. I think well organised squads and the ability to move say four squads at the same time and keep their formation (two in front and two behind in a double line) for example would be a great addition. It could not be done in the ACFB engine but may be able to be done in C3 I hope.

    Damage ratios, lower mortality, lower fire arms accuracy, improved fire ranges

    Danger Danger! This is one of those areas that is so difficult to get right in my view. A starting point for me is to look at my overall objective. What am I trying to achieve? If I am going for 100% historical accuracy in firing distances then fine, but I have considered that the constraints of the engine will not allow me to scale a map that large. The game is not to a realistic scale ratio. I err against the strict application of any mathematical formula and prefer the approach of trying to capture the spirit of the ere rather than reproduce the letter. So many factors impact upon this. A move to realism means the game lasts for hours and is interspersed with periods of great inaction, where as too much the other way and the history players are trying to capture is lost and it becomes too arcade like. As I say, a dangerous area to get right.

    Economy development characteristic and adequate for chosen nation and period

    You can guess what I am going to say about this one. Baby, it is simply not my bag.

    Fatigue, morale, more realistic human behaviors, fear, panic, flee, wander

    I do have some thoughts about this. But the overriding objective for me is simplicity in understanding how it works but with a hidden depth to master its handling.

    Fatigue, in my view, only really matters if there is room to manoeuvre and march larger distances on maps to be able to cover. Morale is, in my view, essential in an historical based battle mod. A matter of preference in the base building game.

    Of all the modding areas, this area has the tendency to become the most complicated and the danger of ruining the balance between fun, realism and playability.

    Simplicity, that most elusive of characteristics is essential in game balance in this area. A system of vast complexity that recreates the effect on morale of every soldiers marching blisters may be admirable as a matter of historical recreation but no one will play it. Look at the problem of fatigue in C3. It was not too bad, but it was not right, and a small misstep here can have a huge impact on the balance and playability of the game.

    So what to do?

    In my opinion there was a great system that simply and effectively dealt with morale, fatigue and combat stress in the game Waterloo: Naopleon’s Last Battle. Graphically clunky, and not without bugs, this game is one of the best I have ever played in terms of representing a historical battle (table top / war gaming) game in a simple and enjoyable manner.

    Morale was effected by a huge number of factors. Some of them were:
    1. How close a commanding unit was and how effective that commander was
    2. Whether there were other regiments protecting the flank or boosting morale from behind
    3. Whether other regiments nearby had broken and fled
    4. How long the unit had been fighting for
    5. Whether the unit had broken an enemy unit
    6. Whether the unit had been broken itself
    7. Whether units that induced fear (like heavy cavalry) were hovering nearby.
    8. How cohesive the units formation was (this one had a little extra element to it explained below).
    9. Whether the unit was in cover (behind hedges or garrisoned in buildings).
    The visual representation of these two factors on the UI was really well done. When you clicked on a regiment in the UI in the corner morale was represented by a flag and unit cohesion by a solid rectangular block which was the regiment as if standing in line.

    If a unit had been marching for a long time or crossing difficult terrain the cohesion bar began to fracture into smaller parts and turn from green to orange to red. As mentioned above, low cohesion would effect how effective a unit was in combat and how quickly its morale fell. When a regiment was standing still without orders the bar would slowly come back together and turn green. Cohesion fell slowly and recovered quite quickly. It was very well balanced.

    Full morale was a flag billowing in the breeze. As morale fell so would the flag until low morale was represented by a drooping tattered flag. As a factor effecting morale low cohesion would cause the flag to droop more quickly.

    These two simple visual representations, underneath effected by a large number of factors, nonetheless told you everything you needed to know about how effective a regiment was in its current state and how low its morale was. When the flag drooped completely, the regiment broke and fled back towards the nearest commander and would then have to be reformed. Once reformed it was effective at fighting again, but would begin with low morale and low cohesion so unless it was to break again quickly it needed to be withdrawn and rested. Over time it would become a fighting force again, but for commanders of armies, time is a luxury they can normally ill afford.


    Something simple but effective and easily represented on the players UI would, in my mind, capture the spirit of morale and fatigue and cohesion whilst still making the game fun and playable. Difficult balance to achieve, I accept, but it is around this point that the perfect blend is likely to be found.

    Gaits, movement, maneuvers, retreats, withdrawals in various paces

    If by gait you mean the way in which a person walks then I doff my hat to you sir because that is a level of realism I can barely imagine. On a serious note, I think I cover these areas with my comments above.

    Horrible events as like stragglers, illness, starvations, diseases
    Innovations, inventions and research in academy, blacksmith, windmill, palace


    If I take these two matters together then I think they could be well implemented in the wider base building and economy game. I think by the time you get down to recreating historical pitched battles illness and disease is part of a wider strategic picture that a mod concentrating purely on the battle itself does not need to worry about it. An army that has been ravaged by disease will simply have less troops in the line.

    Justifiably victory conditions without necessity to kill all units

    Big fan of victory conditions, objectives to capture, time to hold on for, all add to the skill and enjoyment of the game. HEW had its basic objective marker and we who used to play in the Hawks would play with map rules where capturing a number of markers would result in an instant win regardless of troops left (trying to recreate that point where the battle no longer becomes tenable for an army because it has lost the position it was defending). All in favour of these.

    Hope some of that was quite interesting. If it was not and you read this far, apologies!
     
  2. Nowy

    Nowy Well-Known Member

    Ok, I could term these areas for amiable discussion however I will more criticise HEW.
    This is more sencible than talks only about strong points. So, I can add few more things.

    AI

    I think this is very important area not only for singleplayer, but also for multiblayer, becouse several things are executed here by AI e.g. it lead some maneuvres, execute some combats as like cavalry or infantry charges, jegers skirmish etc.

    AI for Cossacks games is very important for SP skirmish'battle mode. HEW has many weak points there.

    Battle conditions, basic squads sizes, formations shapes, well chosen units

    Battle conditions mean not only weather and terrain, the conditions on the ground. Battle conditions also mean how squads are designed, how they could works in the game. Can they execute proper maneuvres, actions, combats etc.

    So, this is not only engine matter, but also units design. That's why I mentioned squads sizes, formations shapes and well chosen units. They also create somehow battle conditions.

    I dislike weird battles with strange units or mixed infantry, cavalry formations in big blob melee. This is not only engine weak points, but also design issues. HEW have some troubles with that.

    Basic squad sizes, formations shapes in few cases could be better designed e.g. skirmish line, cavalry wedge, officers, flagbearers, generals placements, artillery deployment etc.

    This, is not only a matter of preference. This greatly influence on gameplay. I think we both can not accept disordered units or strange formations size and strength levels known from C1 game. These things seriously can change battle conditions, isn't it.

    Combats in well organized squads using known historical tactics and strategies

    HEW captured this quite well, however there also were many flaws e.g. cavalry charges, melee, jegers combats, column crowds, too rapid advance into combats, stacking troops etc.

    Somethings were cramped by ACFB engine, but many things could be better designed.
    I hope that developers can improve these things in C3 game.

    Damage ratios, lower mortality, lower fire arms accuracy, improved fire ranges

    I managed improve some things by changing some units stats in C2 game. So, this was doable in HEW I suppose.

    Some things of course are metter of players choice, but these things should capture a spirit of battlefield from that period. There were not so bloody combats at that time as we can see in Cossacks games and HEW. That's why I suggest improve these area too.

    Economy development characteristic and adequate for chosen nation and period

    I guess that it is not your bag. However you could take into account that Cossacks style games inculde this area.
    This is very important to recreate these things accurately for nations and period. HEW included some improvements, but still was far, far away from perfection.

    Fatigue, morale, more realistic human behaviors, fear, panic, flee, wander

    Fatigue is basic factor even on battlefields. This is not only distances or ground conditions. Battle stress, combat time, morlae, troops training also have soimething to do with fatigue.

    So, these elements works together. They were impemented in C2 game however required some tweaks. Neverhteles this was fine base for modding also for HEW. That was not well done here, but that was more ACFB engine issues I suppose.

    I do not know the game Waterloo: Naopleon’s Last Battle, so I can not judge about fatigue, morale and combat stress there and how could they be implemented in Cossacks style games. I think C2 game included fine base in that matter.

    Gaits, movement, maneuvers, retreats, withdrawals in various paces

    By gaits I mean how soldiers can walk on road or different terrain. This was fine implemented in C2 game. There were different kind of steps for various terrain conditions. These things were implementable in HEW I suppose.

    Movement, maneuvres, retreats, withdrawals in various paces, well prepared animations add more reality, but also infuence on many thing in the gameplay. That was included in C2 game, but HEW cover these areas much worse.

    Horrible events as like stragglers, illness, starvations, diseases

    Yes, this is for the wider base building and economy game. These events can add important aspects even on battlefields e.g. Napoleon had lot of troubles with these things during winter retreat from Russia. They had strategic consecuences which HEW mod can not recreate properly.

    Innovations, inventions and research in academy, blacksmith, windmill, palace

    Yes, this is also for wider base building and economy game. HEW included few things there, but this mod was focused on battlefields, so I can undestand that it lacked in these matters which played important roles in Cossacks style games.
    So, this is big area for development.

    Justifiably victory conditions without necessity to kill all units

    Victory condition needs improvements. This has something to do with skills and enjoyment of the game.
    These require changes, becouse AC, C1, C2, HEW games included badly condition for kill them all.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2016
  3. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    I would like to see some form of spacial autonomy so that soldiers cannot effectively stand on top of each other or "blob"/"stack". And if a unit forces its way through another or flees and retreats through another then that effects and lowers the moral/fatigue/cohesion (has a negative impact basically) on both units as they become intermingled and disordered.

    The lack of being able to "stack" in real life is what led to formations being set out as they were and would stop this happening in game. This may be too advanced to achieve, I do not know. There was nothing HEW could do to top it because it was just part of the limitations of the game engine. HEW discouraged it though by making bug stacks/blobs break and run easily. This round about way worked a treat in the battles as I played as players were conscious not to stack their formations as a result.

    As a matter of interest Nowy can I ask whether you intend to mod C3? I enjoy the passion you clearly have for your ideas and would be interested to see the direction in which you take the game.
     
    Loner likes this.
  4. Daddio

    Daddio Moderator Staff Member

    C2 had the effect of a broken troops affecting the moral of other formations if they passed through them.

    But the stacking debate has gone on for a long time.

    I can't speak for European battles, but in the American Civil war it was a goal to have "compression" of your lines, where you would have as many men as possible in your line. This was not accomplished very often but when it was it was devastating. As at Fredricksburg, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor as an example. Where troops would line up 4 or 5 deep, and pass a loaded gun forward fire, and pass the next one up, and pass the empty gun back. a continuous rate of fire could be lied down and was very effective.

    I could be wrong but I also thought to have heard of Napoleonic strategies of concentration of forces at weak points to affect a breakthrough. The challenge is how to simulate this in a game format.

    I always thought it a realistic effect. Of course its counter was Artillery, which would eat you up a lot quicker in the compressed formations.
     
  5. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    It has gone on for a long time, I remember all the forum posts during the years at the Hawks and then, rather hilariously, we would forget we had the debate and have it again before someone would say "haven't we had this debate?", happy memories. There is very little more that can be said, it will never be perfect and I think (Nowy will tell me off for being a fanboy) that HEW had it right. It could not stop stacking but it discouraged it by players knowing that a whiff of grape would break those ten formations all stood on top of one another very quickly. Job done! Stacking resolved! Next!
     
    Daddio likes this.
  6. Nowy

    Nowy Well-Known Member

    I do not know whether I will mod C 3 game. We still have limited info about real game and promised mod tools.
    Modding is interesting, but require knowledge, skills and lot of free time.

    So, it would be better when professional developers make fixes, improvements and implementations.
    They know much better their engine and mod tools, so it would be easier and faster to do more things.

    I would like to see better C 3 game, including more changes which fans already postulated many times.
     
  7. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    I hope you do give it a try Nowy as you have lots of ideas and the right spirit to undertake something that requires a lot of time and dedication and can often be very disheartening.

    In the same spirit (tongue in cheek) with which I solved stacking I am going to try and solve every mod debate I can think off by remembering where opinion settled from when the Hawks debated them.

    Grapeshot

    Heavy cannons kill 10 men, medium 6 men and light 3 men. Boom done. Next.

    Formation Size

    It is 100 men for infantry, 25 men for cavalry and 25 men for skirmishers. Next.

    Napoleonic Formations for Infantry

    Line, column and square. Everyone knows what they look like and what they are needed for. Simple.

    Napoleonic Formations for Cavalry

    Line, block and dispersed. Line for charging, block for moving and dispersed for guarding a wide area (like Hussars on the flank). Moving on at the gallop.

    Napoleonic Formations for Skirmishers

    Block for moving, scattered, widely scattered. On, on.

    Morale

    Its in and its balanced somewhere around where HEW had it. Settled.

    Reload Times

    15 seconds for standard troops. Less or more depending on ability.

    Mortality Rate

    Low low low, at a medium distance only 3 or 4 men a volley.

    Garrisoning

    Yes, high defence bonus, no greater fire power than the amount of men inside the building. No machine gun nests because it is the early 19C.

    Command Units

    Boost morale, no special magic abilities.

    If anyone can think of anymore put them up and we can try and solve them in a couple of sentences.
     
  8. Nowy

    Nowy Well-Known Member

    Hmm, this is not so easy as you could think.
    Here you are some examples.

    Stacking formations

    I am sorry, but HEW and you did not solve this issue. Problem is that many, many formations still can stay at the same place. That is not realistic, stupid and horrible spoil the fun. Problem is that soldiers in formation can stay one "over " next one or one "in" next one.

    I believe that GSC developers can solve this issue in new 3 D engine.

    Grapeshot

    Grapeshot issue do not lay only in direct kill ability. Problem here are proper fire range (attack radius) and grapeshot (canister) dispersion in damage zone. I think that C2 game quite well recreated artillery grape, solid and shell shots, however they needs some tweaks in few things. I did myself few light tweaks in my mod and artillery fire looks fine for me now.

    If you like improve this in your method I could see there slightly bigger kill ratio, e.g.
    Heavy cannons can kill 12 men, medium 8 men and light 4 or 6 men at medium range and less killed at longer range.

    Formation Size

    I already suggested how it could be solved in C3 game in my thread C3 wish list.
    So, formations for various types of units could looks in the game as fallows
    infantry = 12, 72, 120 or 144 men to represent company, battalion and regiment squads
    cavalry = 15 and 45 or 60 men to represent cavalry squadron and regiment squads
    irregular or national cavalry = 10 and 40 men scales for Cossacks, Tatars, Mamelukes, Landwehr, camel squads
    skirmish and sapper company = 12 men
    irregular foot shooters = 30 men Bedouin bands, guerilla squads, etc
    militiamen = 30 men split on two 15 men companies in 2 ranks line

    field artillery = 2 cannons with horse drawn limbers to represent artillery section and 3 cannons plus 1 howitzer with limbers to represent artillery battery squad
    siege artillery sections = 2 heavy 24pdr cannons or 2 howitzers, or 2 mortars with limbers
    ammunition caissons train company = 2 ammunition caissons each one drawn by 4 horses and 2 drivers
    baggage, equipage, supply train company = 2 wagons each one drawn by 2 or 4 horses and 1 or 2 drivers

    Ships formations
    Team = 2 the same type ships
    Convoy = 2 or 4 or more transport or merchant vessels
    Squadron = 4 the same type ships plus vice or rear admirals for bigger ships types
    Fleet = 10 battleships, plus admiral, vice and rear admirals

    Tactical formations for Infantry

    Line, column and square, but with better shape e.g. C2 square and field column were too small and too crowded, while C1 formations had too scattered soldiers and strange officers placements. Infantry officers, drummers and flag bearer should stay centrally close to themselves e.g. 72 men in line formation

    ................O FB D.............. officer, flag bearer, drummer
    ************************ 3rd rank, 24 soldiers stay elbow to elbow
    ************************ 2nd rank
    ************************ 1st rank

    There is possibility to add small gaps between companies. I did such for 120 men formations in C2 mod game e.g.

    ....................................O FB D.............................. officer, flag bearer, drummer
    **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** 3rd rank, soldiers stay elbow to elbow with gaps
    **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** 2nd rank
    **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** **** 1st rank
    1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th nominal companies in wider battalion front line

    There were different battalion organizations for different nations. This could be too complex for game purposes.
    So, I did equal 10 companies in one battalion under officers command.

    Tactical formations for Cavalry

    I did little bit different organization for cavalry formations in C2 mod game. They better recreate cavalry organization scaled for cavalry squadrons and regiment in the game e.g. 15 men cavalry squadron create 2 rank line

    * * * * * * * 2nd rank, bigger gaps between soldiers and between ranks also are bigger gap, horses needs more free room

    * * * * * * * 1st rank
    ........*........ one soldier in front of formation to represent cavalry officer, squadron commander

    Cavalry regiment include in the game 3 or 4 squadrons with visible gaps between squadrons.
    This formation can create wider front line. Wider cavalry line allow better execute flank or rear attacks or envelop enemy. This formation also could suffer less losses from artillery shots. Here you are proposition for 45 men cavalry regiment with 3 squadrons.

    * * * * * * *..gap.. * * * * * * *..gap.. * * * * * * * 2nd rank for 3 squadrons, bigger gaps for maneuvers

    * * * * * * *..gap.. * * * * * * *..gap.. * * * * * * * 1st rank for 3 squadrons, bigger gaps for maneuvers
    ...............................*FB*.................................. cavalry flag bearer in front of cavalry formation
    ..................................*..................................... 3 cavalrymen around flagbearer represent cavalry officers

    C2 cavalry had different types of movement, which were generally well recreated.
    Light cavalry move faster in trot and charge in gallop. French and Polish cuirassiers also charge in gallop, but other heavy and national cavalry move slowly and charge mainly in trot. These look fine.

    Tactical formations for Skirmishers

    HEW strangely presented these formations. I did other organization which better recreate skirmish chain line.
    Skirmish 12 men company in skirmish line.

    * *......gap......* *......gap...... * *........... 3 widely scattered soldiers pairs in 2nd rank with bigger gaps

    ..........* *......gap...... * *......gap........* * 3 widely scattered soldiers pairs in 1st rank with bigger gaps

    This formation create wider front line, visible skirmishers pairs could fire simultaneously, that was regular order.
    Bigger gaps in 2 ranks line give better defensive position against enemy musket and artillery fire.

    Morale

    Morale in C2 is fine base even for C3 game. It could be reduced or implemented with on/off option.

    Reload Times

    C2 game had sufficient reload times, this is fine base for C3 game. Musket can not shot as modern gun machines.
    However well formed battalion squad could execute almost constant fire in volleys by companies, by 3 ranks or by files. Automated squad fire system would be fine in C3 game.

    Mortality Rate

    Different casualties ratio in three damage zones at long, medium and close range and different for better trained soldiers e.g. better for Austrian Grenz, Highlanders, French Chasseur, Vistula Legion and other shooters, lower for standard line infantry musketeer, fusilier and grenadier, and the lowest for National Guard, Landwehr or other irregular troops. Skirmishers usually were very good shooters, they can shot with fine mortality rate, but still weaker that it was presented in C2 or HEW games.

    Garrisoning

    Yes, defence bonus, no greater fire power than the amount of men inside the building. No machine gun nests.
    I have got more ideas in that matter. You could read these in my thread C3 wish list.

    Command Units

    I have got more ideas in that matter. You also could read these in my thread
    http://www.cossacks3.com/forum/index.php?threads/cossacks-3-wish-list.45/

    This is not so easy as you think. :cool:
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2016
  9. Stu

    Stu Active Member

    We have made it easy, we agree on a lot. Your discussion about formations reminded me of something. An earlier version than the final HEW had formations with little gaps between companies, exactly as you set it out in your diagram. You have jogged my memory about it. I remember that no one liked it and it was changed back to solid lines. It is a funny old thing, public opinion.
     
  10. Ivenend

    Ivenend Member

    Off- topic, where is the Hawk forum? I can't find it now.
     
  11. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

  12. Ivenend

    Ivenend Member

  13. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    Aye.

    I don't think they'll ever revive it.

    The admins of the facebook page said the forums were down for a while but they confirmed they ain't coming back.

    If someone picks it up tho...
     
  14. RenegadeKraken

    RenegadeKraken New Member

    HEW was cool for what it offered in the time, now we have Napoleon:Total War.
     
  15. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    We still don't have a large scale RTS game set in the Napoleonic Wars.

    HEW and Cossacks 2 gave us large scale and formations as well as the building city/base mechanics of RTS games but at the cost of graphics. Still, AC's sprites and animations were top notch if you ask me, it also had 3D terrain.
     
    Loner, Ivenend and Hugojackson18 like this.
  16. Ksgrip

    Ksgrip New Member

    Stu, can I ask you as you seem really well versed on HEW. Do you know if there is any way of still being able to Play HEW? I have a Windows 10 pc, and can run ACFB perfectly in compatibility Mode but Whem I try to Play HEW i get a black screen while the músic plays on the background. I've tried everything but I cannot get It to work. I would gladly receive help:).
     
  17. Loner

    Loner Active Member

    I have the same problem.:(
     
  18. StriKe jk

    StriKe jk Member

    I already did that with my mod. But instead of making the officers sit useless behind the battle and play poker (like the drummer), I gave them a standard muskeet.
     
  19. Ivenend

    Ivenend Member

    Me too. It is because HEW has modified the DMCR.exe, which make it not compatible with Win 8/10.
    Sadly it seems that this is unable to fix unless the modder modify the dmcr.exe again. But Hawk is dead now...
     
  20. A. Soldier

    A. Soldier Active Member

    I'm modding Fight Back right no, just tell me how and I'll modify it further.
     
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