First Patches, Priorities.

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Author

Gen’l,

After the 1.0 release of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) we have continued adding new and requested features in the game, along with the usual bug fixes and other minor improvements. Currently the focus is in improved information and AI.

At the time I am writing this, we have released the first major patch (1.0115) and are working on the 1.02 patch, with first beta patch already released. We have received many questions and comments regarding our Post Release Road Map which was released a few months ago. In addition to the features stated in the road map, we are also continuing other development, which can already be seen in the patches, to further improve the game’s main mechanics and features.

Tutorials (Patch #1).

The first added new feature was the playable battle and campaign tutorials, explaining the basic controls, commands and mechanics. As the game has a learning curve (and may appear to share similarities with Total War -series, but has very different game play and controls), some sort of tutorials were highly requested. The playable tutorials were added to complement the in-game quick guide, the “Field Book”, and the 250+ page game manual.

We had on our drawing table, for a long time, tutorial videos for the game. While the idea is still valid, and they could be helpful for many players, we decided against them, as the game still keeps updating with new features. This would mean that the tutorial videos would become obsolete quite fast, and keeping them up-to-date would require a lot of effort, which is needed elsewhere.

Information (Patch #2).

One of the “black boxes” of the game, according to feedback, has been in the auto-resolved battles. While the underlying mechanics have existed from day 1, it has not been clear to players how the combat develops, as only the results could be seen. For this reason we have added information about automatically resolved battles (field battles, sieges, naval battles, fort bombardments) in form of a panel, that shows the opposing forces and all the actions taken during the battle.

The information can be accessed via the top bar alarm icons (battles, sieges, etc.) by placing cursor over the alarm icon, and selecting the battle from a list that opens, or by selecting one of the units participating in a battle. For example, it’s possible to follow how a naval battle is developing: first the opposing fleets move to contact engaging on the move, and when at close range firepower and accuracy increase and there may also be ramming.

The resolution of the battles as such has not changed much, but hopefully the additional information will help players understand what is happening during the battles, and why the result is what it is.

The AI.

One of the main focus points for the team is the AI. There is no such thing as “too good AI” in games (if it does not cheat) and we are pushing forward with further AI improvements constantly — some of them are more apparent than others. For example, we have changed the way the AI conducts defensive operations on the campaign map. While this may not be visible at all times, there are now fewer blunders the AI commits by accident.

What could be more apparent is how the battle AI reacts to entrenched foes. It now considers flanking strong positions more often, trying to avoid head-on assaults if not necessary. When defensive, AI has been quite passive in its use of reserves. This has allowed players to flank strong AI positions with very little effort, to roll the defensive line while the AI holds back non-entrenched units that are not engaged. Here we are teaching the AI to be more active with the reserves, to extend the defensive line and to refuse flanks and conduct counter-attacks.

The mentioned AI improvements are in the works, and more are on our list. While the AI may be doing OK most of the time, improvements in the battle AI especially will mean more challenging game play and better balance on the campaign map.

While all this work is ongoing and being implemented, we are also working on the post release road map topics. But, like always, bug fixing and other general game play improvements are also high on our prio list, so expect to see more of them in the coming patches.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.,
The Grand Tactician -Team

Comments

  1. The most important things to do – it’s a .pdf manual in which you can search for words. It is currently a .pdf composed of photos, not text. Try to quickly search for phrases, e.g. readniess or deployment … You will not find it, it remains to manually search the manual instead of playing. One of the most breakthrough games someone said on Steam (Iron of Hearts has a child with Total War). I think that the lack of a manual kills this game among many players at the beginning.

  2. I have played many many hours. There are a few things that I have mentioned to the dev team before which I will mention again. (1) I would like a preference to disable the AI from decided that I am defeated either in battle or campaign. I can decide that. (2) Lately, I have noticed that I can move a corp with green readiness into the battle zone of an invading army and the corp does some type of auto retreat. This is highly annoying because I have no idea why the corp is not giving battle, especially when I am rarely lose a battle even against being outnumbered (3) I would like to see supply shown as more than depots and lines. I want to see wagons, ships, and trains on the move. I want so see barrels of gun powder, caissons of balls, bags of wheat….all of it. This makes it capturable and this then will give Calvary a new reason to exist in the game. It will make raiding realistic. The confederacy survived in part by raiding and capturing northern supplies…Federal invasion was thwarted more than once by supply disruption. This is not a request to bog the player down in creating supplies and supply lines….the AI can still do those things, but the game should allow us to visualize the movement of supplies realistically and then make defending and capturing those supplies a central part of the gameplay as supply should drive the overall readiness of the corp.

  3. One topic which is pretty important for me is rebalancing the Battle mechanics. Especially morale is too high for units under fire and therefore should be lower. The system where must brigades just break after a set percentage of casualties is improveable at least. I would like to see a system where assaults in 2 or 3 lines in order to break the enemy is effective.

  4. (Author)

    Richard,

    1) The AI as such does not decide whether you win or lose, but in the battles it’s the condition and morale of your army, and in the campaign the national morale of your citizens.
    2) Auto-retreat happens when a unit is too small for combat (for example 1 brigade), force balance is too lopsided, or morale is too low to engage.
    3) Most of the topics you describe work like this behind the scenes, but there is no such visual presentation as described. Supplies can be cut off, captured, and units out of supplies have major readiness issues.

  5. (Author)

    Ricardo,

    Version 1.02 will have a searchable manual. Bookmarks will be added when the manual is updated (with information about latest feature additions).

  6. (Author)

    MacArthur,

    Units suffer morale hits for a number of reasons. You can see the morale effects during battles in the tooltip, when hovering cursor over the “morale” line in the unit panel. In short, units that are supported, not flanked, and exchanging only rifle fire with an enemy unit, will very rarely break due to other reasons than high casualties. If flanked, under artillery fire, tired, cohesion is broken, cut off, etc. units will be very jumpy and may break even without suffering any casualties.

  7. I’m a big history nerd and happen to live right down the street from Grant’s headquarters during the Petersburg siege. Picked up this game recently after seeing History Guy Gaming and I’m now semi-obsessed. Happy to hear the AI is being improved, and the autoresolve changes look really cool! Is playable naval combat in the works at all? I’m a huge fan of that era of naval warfare and would love it if your mechanics for brigade commanders, the paper map, etc(LOVE the aesthetic of the maps by the way! The way the commanders’ names appear over each unit is a tiny detail but one I absolutely adore) would appear in tactical naval battles, alongside wind and wave conditions, fuel concerns, etc. Probably too much work to put in, but there’d be at least a few players who’d love it. I would also like it if there was a setting that enabled a longer war either through even more national morale boosts or removing battles affecting NM – I prefer starting in the very first scenario but I’m usually done in early ’63 at the latest, even with +50 morale for my enemy, and would like a chance to use the later game policies more often. However that’s not a gripe as I could just play the other scenarios. All in all, I’m really enjoying your game and your updates sound amazing!

  8. Glad to see continued work on the AI. The new naval/siege interface will be very helpful as well. Nice work!

  9. Me and the bois changing history with British Intervention.

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