Back to Basics is a total conversion mod, that not only adds units and abilities but also a new weapon damage and penetration system. This improves gameplay and requires more tactical assaults and defenses. Weapon ranges are also greatly increased and also includes a greatly improved AI. Back to Basics: Battle of the Hegdes adds realism to Company of Heroes, to make it even better. It is compatible with Company of Heroes, Opposing Fronts and Tales of Valor, always with the latest patch. You do not have to own all 3 products of the Company of Heroes series to play Back to Basics.

Report article RSS Feed CoH: Back to Basics. Progress update for v1.3

News update of the current progress of the mod. Includes quite a lengthy list of changes with descriptions for the game and game's AI. Full changelog is also attached.

Posted by AGameAnx on Mar 27th, 2012

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.

Post comment Comments
OmeG
OmeG Mar 27 2012, 8:12pm says:

O My... Now I'm Really Excited! XD

+2 votes     reply to comment
Trooper425
Trooper425 Mar 27 2012, 8:47pm says:

"The effectiveness of trenches is implemented properly, units in trenches aren't immortal anymore and artillery, mortars and grenades effectively counter them."

Trenches are DESIGNED to withstand mortar and artillery fire. To make them more accurate, I suggest entrenched infantry take MUCH less damage against projectiles and 'near-miss' explosives, while taking more damage from flame weapons and 'direct-hit' explosives. A standard mortar shouldn't be able to do much against a trench... unless it lands IN the trench, then everyone inside is pretty much f*#&ed.

Just a suggestion.

+3 votes     reply to comment
OmeG
OmeG Mar 27 2012, 11:15pm replied:

Love the way he wrote that suggestion! XD

+2 votes     reply to comment
AGameAnx Author
AGameAnx Mar 28 2012, 4:41am replied:

Hey. It's a pretty nice suggestion. Even though in my opinion artillery should still be able to kill units inside trenches, I myself (since Celestial is the main unit attribute coder) never checked the artillery weapon files, and now that I did, there's a few things that I've found that you might be interested in hearing about.

First and foremost though, I have to say this: what I had in mind when I talked about trenches, even though that's not exactly what I actually said, is that trenches used to have 0.6 penetration modifier on artillery, which made artillery do no damage even on direct hit 40% of the time.

Now, I'm going to have to discuss this with Celestial first, but here's a bunch of things that came to my mind about from checking out the arty files:

First of all, direct hit of artillery only has 1 penetration, which, really, isn't enough. It should still explode on tanks and tanks have penetration of even 0.5 sometimes. This results in 1*0.5=0.5 penetration chance on hit, thus the shell actually bounces 50% of the time, which makes no sense. So, we'll probably make the shell have 2 penetration on direct hit, which fixes this problem.

Secondly, not all area of effect ranges are used (as if Relic was lazy, preposterous! phah). Artillery area of effect table only uses 3 different distance settings. One of the distances is exactly the same as the distance next to it. So basically using this distance could allow us to make artillery have larger area of effect radius again, making it more consistent, and at the same time have less penetration on that radius, making it not always do damage to trenches, kinda making your idea work.

Also, did I mention that I tend to ramble on? Sorry. This comment even exceeded max 2000 character limit so I'm splitting it in two :P

+1 vote   reply to comment
AGameAnx Author
AGameAnx Mar 28 2012, 4:41am replied:

However, all that said, I think we will still go for less penetration modifiers and more damage modifiers for trenches. I really don't want trenches to be overpowered and artillery should still do damage to units inside, just not as much. We really want artillery to be a tool for breaking hard defensive positions. Still, this is a very nice find on my part, lol. I'm surprised that it never came to the point where we actually checked that. We worked on artillery radii and its target tables a lot but somehow always overlooked these little details.

Suggestions are always appreciated. Perhaps this suggestion is a bit blind, however. We are perfectly aware of what the trench is. But in the end it's absolutely fair too, just because of the way I expressed myself, hah. And it did result in all these finds. Still not sure what we'll end up doing with this in the end but I'm at least certain that we'll use the 4th radius for a bit more realism and consistency in artillery damage.

Again, sorry for endless text. Imagine me and Celestial exchanging such walls daily :P

Anyways, cheers! Thanks!

+1 vote   reply to comment
Shadowmetroid
Shadowmetroid Mar 28 2012, 12:53am says:

You FIXED the 5% bug?! How? What you do?

Good Work! :D

+2 votes     reply to comment
AGameAnx Author
AGameAnx Mar 28 2012, 4:48am replied:

The magic of macros!

Apparently, relic did fix most of the allied weapons but it seems that they were doing it by hand or they were just drunk and forgot half of it or... You know. Relic is mysterious.

So yea basically there are 3 types of critical damage tables. Red damage is when the tank (unit) is at 100% damage. And most of the weapons had a critical 'vehicle_make_wreck' 60% of the time and vehicle out of control critical other 40% of the time. And other half of the weapons had 60% chance of doing no critical. All we had to do is check all the ballistic weapons for ones that needed the change and replace that 60% '_no_critical' by the 'vehicle_make_wreck' critical.

+1 vote   reply to comment
Shadowmetroid
Shadowmetroid Mar 28 2012, 6:49am replied:

It's so simple, so obvious. Send that to relic!

:D

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Released Aug 16, 2008
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