I wanted to drop in and give you a bit of an update about what's going on at the moment with the mod .
And oh yes, things are looking good! Me and Celestial are currently on a huge modding marathon. Celestial has lots of school to deal with but we play regularly and make tons of changes daily. And I am absolutely free for a couple of months now and working on the mod literally all day these days. I think xfire indicates that Company of Heroes was running 50+ hours this week for me (watching AI bash each other ftw!) .
Also, we've picked up a few more people who are helping out with play-testing the mod and just to add to our fun (which is obviously the biggest factor, hehe). Playing against people speeds up progress considerably. So thanks to those guys for helping out.
Okay, so here are some of the coolest gameplay changes:
- Just a few days ago we completely fixed the 5% bug! For those of you who don't know - this is a well known bug where tanks could survive almost indefinitely sometimes due to it, especially with engineers repairing. Their deaths were pretty random, in fact, I believe their actual death would occur when it should only exactly 40% of the time. This fix ruined our current tank balance completely though, haha. But yes, now it's much, much more consistent and it works the way we want it to work. No more m10 completely decimating a freaking TIKI or something... And we get a chance to finally properly implement the penetration tables rather than really compensating for this bug, which, evidently, was a problem for Relic for years - not even sure if they fixed it properly with the last patch.
- We work extremely hard to eliminate bad randomness factors from the mod. For instance, we reworked all of the abilities to do proper damage against emplacements and units, fixed the delays before off-map stuff comes etc. I won't lie, I really disliked the fact that one ability could turn the whole match around completely. We aren't robots, we make mistakes. With increased weapon damage it was already extremely hard to keep everything alive. The game is much more balanced now and yea, at the very least, building emplacements is viable against all doctrines again.
- We reworked resource income, allowing for much faster and more fun games where it isn't necessarily required to not lose a single unit. In vanilla it was pretty easy to retreat on time because all units could soak up a ton of damage, especially on retreat. But due to crappy pathfinding which is impossible to fix, and how deadly weapons are up close, we thought that increasing the manpower income is the way to go. Manpower points now give +8 income instead of +3 so map control and constant battles are much more encouraged. We're still tuning this, of course. That's quite a huge gameplay design change. This is also balanced by unit upkeep.
- Added upkeep to tanks, including fuel upkeep. Yep, if you get your tanks you better freaking use them instead of camping your ass off. Nah, who am I kidding, you will still camp your ass off But at least you won't be rewarded nearly as much for it This allows for properly making axis tanks tough and superior without ruining the balance or making allied tanks even cheaper. It also solves the issues with floating huge amounts of fuel in the late game.
- Just because playing defensive was the absolutely strongest way of playing this mod, we've increased construction times and added small manpower costs to all defensive structures. The effectiveness of trenches is implemented properly, units in trenches aren't immortal anymore and artillery, mortars and grenades effectively counter them. Bunker count is limited now so axis bunker spam is simply not allowed anymore. All these changes drastically improve balance on choke point maps.
- We finally made the anti-blob ability work. Even though it was advertised by us that we had anti-blob on all units in 1.2 already, it actually wasn't working properly in a lot of cases. So yes, spreading units is extremely important now.
- Tons and tons of balancing changes to unit combat. Fights are still very deadly and difficult to execute properly, however they're also more forgiving. Making it a much less stressful experience to play pvp yet still allowing for a lot of strategy which allows you to overcome very tough odds. I'm always extremely excited about balancing. Relic took the easy way out and didn't keep much deadliness of the units at all. We keep both realism and balance and I find that awesome. And even though the mod feels more vanilla-like on long ranges, with anti-blob and completely revamped cover system, it definitely plays out completely differently and in my opinion much more interestingly.
- I've done some neat little changes to the physics engine. Really not sure if this was already in 1.2, but if it was then it has an even more drastic effect now. Ground will now have proper friction - objects won't slide around on the ground; they will crash into it. Gravity vector is also changed, even though technically that amount of gravitational acceleration isn't realistic, it certainly looks better this way due to floaty game physics. Soldiers don't fly into your screen nearly as often, haha.
- We've reworked some of squad AI (which really isn't related to actual AI, that's why it's in this list ). Soldiers don't jump out of cover nearly as often now.
- Reworked mod FX. Tracers and other bullet impacts are back, with higher quality.
- We keep balancing the command trees and even though currently in changelog not much command tree changes are listed, we have plans to change quite a bit more, making each tree very balanced and viable for a lot of game situations.
- Installed a new skinpack, I believe curtesy of Halftrack. I'm not the biggest fan of changing unit skins and stuff so not sure about the details. I do know, however, that this will actually decrease the size of the mod compared to the previous release because it excludes some of the unused stuff and yea it surely looks cool
- A crapton of bug fixes, including fixed hotkeys and proper behavior of a lot of less common units and arsenal.
So yea, I keep working endless hours on improving AI. I will never remember everything I've changed. It's mostly iterating over the same stuff, too: fixing unit and tech priorities, target choices, attack percentage... Here's some of the more iconic changes I could come up with off the top of my head:
- Finally fixed the British HQ truck AI and bridged the gap between AI and ScAR! I'm extremely happy and excited about this, as this particular script allows custom control of any unit I want. This used to cause sync errors in multiplayer, but now it works. The only problem with adding new units to control is that it takes ages to properly program their behavior. But yes, the HQs aren't dumb anymore. They'll move away if they're under threat and they will setup on high income points properly.
- Drastically improved the targets.ai file, which is responsible for how AI chooses its targets. AI will now push much earlier sometimes, try to secure the middle of the map much sooner and it will also stay back with its defensive units and structures. No more random stray units behind your lines, not nearly as much suicides for units like nebelwerfers and mortars.
- Fixed attack percentage evaluation. AI will now stop being crazily aggressive if it knows it has less units than the player. AI will also stop being very aggressive if it already has more than 70% of the map but it doesn't have a critical amount of units to break the opponents.
- AI will capture strategic points under fire (in other words, suicide...) much less frequently.
- A lot of ability usage fixes. AI will use abilities like grenades, marksman shot, assault and satchel charges much better and on the things the abilities are most effective against. Marder III, Hummel, Stubby etc. lock down ability usage is probably going to be implemented soon.
- Fixed a bug where AI would keep spamming artillery on strategic points. Apparently Relic thought that strategic points are tp_infantry So yes, AI thought that strategic points were in fact infantry who stood still all game long, thus are best for bombarding.
- Balanced munition usage properly. AI will rarely float a lot of munitions, however it will still save some for player abilities (offmap artillery) when it needs to.
- Balanced fuel/manpower unit purchases properly, making it dependent on the actual fuel/manpower ratio, preventing the floating of these resources.
- Fixed unit reinforcing bug where AI would have a lot of units waiting to be reinforced at home while waiting for a more expensive unit to buy.
- Highly improved unit retreat. Relic's retreat rules were ridiculously simple so we had to come up with a bit of a tricky fix for this and added much more rules for retreating.
- Fixed lieutenant, sergeant, medic and other leader AI. Yep, Relic thought it's a good idea to keep them in the same building all game long, find new follow targets across all the map even if the guy is taking a ton of fire and is completely alone vs the enemy. It never retreated, it never did anything, basically. Other than following other units... All works properly now.
- Fixed unit call-ins. I believe they were already fixed in 1.2, however we used a special script to control that. For some reason tank call-ins still used to bug out and AI would simply keep calling them in endlessly as soon as it got the resources which made it spam units like Geschutzwagen horribly. Now we're not using the script anymore, we found another way to fix it and now it works properly in all cases and this also slightly improved game performance.
- AI will use cover much more
- AI will stay in buildings longer and more properly, enter them much more often
- Improved (mainly removed most of the) build orders.
- All AI difficulty levels still maintain unit health at default 100%. No cheating!
Here's the full changelog: CoH: Back to Basics v1.3 changelog. This is still a big work in progress and I might have even mentioned a few changes that we're only planning to do and they aren't in the changelog. The changelog also does not include AI changes, because I'm lazy It's still 300+ lines. Celestial is certainly not nearly as lazy at keeping changelogs as me
My apologies for the huge wall of text. I do tend to ramble on in real life like this too, haha. But I do hope this gets you a bit excited about the next mod release. And hey, if you can't wait for it, you could even PM me or Celestial and join us with testing. We always look for more people who are still passionate about this game, and especially those who don't only comp stomp, heh. So yea, if you wanna play with us, simply contact us.