Published on November 09, 2022
Flashpoint Campaigns Southern Storm - Dev Log #5
Features, Improvements, Editors, and Modding
Today’s deep dive will look at a number of the other features and improvements we have brought to the game and a look at the Editors and Game Modding possibilities of the new Cold War game engine.
Other Features/Improvements in the Game
Below is a list of minor features and improvements beyond those discussed in earlier Development Blogs.
- Game Engine changed from 32-bit to 64-bit code
- Can handle larger maps and scenarios
- The codebase has been reviewed and optimized to improve speed and stability
- Refinement of Off-Map Artillery Assets
- Off-Map Artillery Assets can now be placed a distance from a map edge and have cover and detection values set in the Scenario Editor
- Off-map assets can be spotted and attacked
- Formation Movement
- You can now select a group of units and plot one path, and the AI will plot paths for the other units in the group and space units out in an intelligent fashion
- Ammo Tracking Per Round/Burst
- Each round or burst from each weapon is now counted when fired
- The types of rounds are distinct munitions for each weapon system
- All map art has been redone, and improvements to the in-house rendering system provide more precise, more detailed maps that look good at even higher screen resolutions.
- The ability to have multiple nations on a side in a scenario (US Army and West German Army on the map shown)
- More In-Depth Subunit Inspector (SUI)
- More extensive dialog with multiple tabs allows players to drill down and see more details of the Unit, Weapons, Sensors, and Systems on each platform
- The SUI packs Image Art, National Flag, Data ID, and Unit Status Information
- At the bottom of the dialog, players can review any nation and units based on the selected Source and Scope
- The new layout also includes a detailed breakdown of the subunit’s armor by aspect and location (turret or hull)
- A listing of the Defensive Mechanisms and any Engineering Abilities is also noted
- Many Informational Dialogs now use HTML to display both formatted text and art for a better presentation.
- This ability includes the scenario designers’ ability to use simple HTML codes to spice up the look of their new scenarios (first picture below)
- Auto-generated information in the game uses HTML to create reports like the one shown below in the second picture with formatted text and the addition of graphics
The game includes making or modifying your own scenarios, battleplans for scenarios, and crafting campaigns out of a handful of linked scenarios with a Depot phase to repair and replace lost men and equipment. We also include a map values tool too. These tools can be accessed from the game’s Main Menu.
- The in-game Scenario Editor provides access to the following:
- Scenario Creation Checklist and Option to Load Existing Scenarios
- Scenario Parameters – Time, Day, and Length of the scenario, and Scenario Description
- Map Selection (including automatic bridge placement) and Weather Parameters
- Map Markers (Victory Point locations, obstacles, mines, and other markers)
- Additional Scenario Parameters – Air Superiority Level, Electronic Warfare Intensity, and Maximum Resupply Percentage
- Player 1 Order of Battle Selection, Force Packages, Ammo Loadouts, and Battle Planning
- Player 2 Order of Battle Selection, Force Packages, Ammo Loadouts, and Battle Planning
- Player Information Summaries – Mission Briefings and Threat Assessments
- Scenario Summary – Subunit Totals and Victory Calculation
- Author Details and Scenario Validation Notes
- Addition of Map Overlay Graphics for Scenario Overview
- Campaign Editor
- The campaign game engine will allow the player to move his core forces through multiple scenarios as part of an overall campaign narrative.
- Temporarily attached friendly forces may be available. Replacements for destroyed equipment will be rare and hard to get, so retaining control of the battlefield and repairing fallen-out equipment will be critical to success.
- The player will face constant trade-offs regarding victory points versus hours elapsed versus force preservation. Playing the ‘long game’ will require judicious use of time between battles as much as it will of maneuver on the battlefield.
- Map Values
- Like Red Storm, Southern Storm will not ship with a full map editor due to the complexity of the tools and processes used to make our maps
- We do provide a Map Values Editor in-game (and documentation) to allow players to supply their own artwork and have a game values file generated to use the map for their scenarios
Mod Friendly Design
Open Data Editing
- All National Data resides in National Folders
- A Common Folder holds all the silhouette art for all the units in the game.
- There is a NATO folder that holds all NATO unit silhouette art
- All National related files and folders reside in the National Folder
- This location includes the Excel (XLS) data file(s)
- You can directly edit these files and update scenario data, but we recommend making copies with new names up, as updates will overwrite these files with official data
- Folders for nation-specific Counter Backgrounds, Unit Badges, and color images of platforms if desired (optional, we do not supply color art for vehicles).
National Data File Layout
- Data in Microsoft Excel Files (XLS)
- Easily editable and established file type
- Data Tabs
- Nine tabs house the following information:
- National Default Values
- Command-Related Values/Information
- Formations (OOB structures)
- Units (data on all platforms/squads)
- Systems (data on weapons and other systems)
- Munitions (for indirect or variable ammo weapons systems)
- Surnames (last names for commanders)
- Credits (reference only information)
- Notice (reference only information)
National Data File Tools
- Data Validation Tool
- A separate Excel-Macro spreadsheet that checks the various data structure on the tabs of a national data file
- The objective is to catch 95% of the errors that could cause a scenario to fail
- The tool highlights bad cells and an error field states the problem(s) found
- The tool looks for unused units in formations, verifies weapons/systems are available platforms, and validates any Special Characteristics being used
- Aircraft Values Tool
- A tool to determine game-related values for aircraft, UASs, and helicopters based on platform specifications
- Mod Friendly Design (with extensive documentation for making these changes)
- Users can add or change art elements
- Unit Badges and National Flags
- Counter Backgrounds & Symbols
- Unit Silhouettes and NATO Symbols
- Map Markers
- Sound files can be replaced or changed
- Weapon Sounds
- Unit Movement Sounds
- Even the weather data can be created and modified
Southern Storm’s release is right around the corner on November 17th! In the meantime, please feel free to comment and ask questions on the Southern Storm Forum on the Matrix Games site about this Blog and any others. Next week, we will return to the AI for the final Development Blog.
Until then, have a great week!