Restated release date, what the mod does, and how it works.
Posted by .Corey. on Aug 5th, 2010
Before anything else, I want to restate the release date. It was in a previous update, but I keep getting asked what it is (which is actually against a modding rule, so don't try to pull it with anyone else, they'll yell at you), so I'll say it again: August 26th, 2010.
The most significant of the gameplay changes that Thrawn's Revenge offers is the new tech level system. It's been explained before, but apparently we were not clear enough since a number of people have expressed confusion over the change. Instead of the traditional tech level system in EaW, you now progress through the various eras between the Battle of Endor and the Yuuzhan Vong War. In the Empire at War system you have ships like Carracks and Lancers available at tech level one, and then as you work your way up through the tech levels you gain access to units like Star Destroyers, Executors, and Sovereigns. Now, you have access to the kinds of ships that the faction would have developed and used at the time. For example Ysanne Isard, the first leader of the Empire ("Tech" 1), is able to build Executors, however when you go to "Tech" 2 with Thrawn as the leader, you can no longer build them, but instead you have access to lighter but arguably more versatile units like Star Galleons and Vindicators. Of course, you do not lose the ships you created during the previous era, but you are no longer able to build new ones. This system does not apply in skirmish, where the same system as EaW is used.
A commonly misunderstood element of this era system is the way it affects the other factions. With the new time frames instead of actual tech levels, every faction is tied to the Empire's current leader. When Isard dies and the Empire goes to "tech" 2, so does the New Republic. As a result of this, it becomes advantageous for the New Republic to target the Imperial leader as the New Republic strengthens through the eras far more than the Imperial Remnant.
Before the mods temporary death we were planning to post an Empire of the Hand-centric update, so now that we are back here it is. While we have announced before that the EotH was not to be a playable faction, that has changed and we can safely guarantee that they are going to be a fully playable faction. This also means we never had their full unit list available to the public, but it, along with the other unit lists, will be available in the next update.
Originally we were going to have a unique land map for each planet, however due to time constraints this is no longer an option. So instead we've taken the good maps and distributed them among all the planets. There are currently 64 new land maps and around 103 planets, so the remaining planets have either been given a map from Empire at War, or the map of a different but suitable planet.
Galactic Conquest Scenarios:
There are currently 7 Galactic Conquest Scenarios in the mod. Each Imperial leader has one scenario focused around their own era of leadership, during which you do not progress through the following leaders, and the Art of War GC, which uses all 103 planets and uses the full Era progression system. The 7th is a smaller version of Art of War, with significantly fewer planets for people with older computers. Before release we may add some other scenarios, but that is a very low priority.
We've also picked the last batch of beta testers. These are Clone13538, vadereclipse, Popemaster, sheepmonster, sarcronis and Admiral Gabriel. This doesn't mean you should stop applying if you want a testing position. Unexpected things happen, so it's always good to have a few extra. They, along with the testers we already had (Slornie, Dane Kiet, Ca3ba, and Scarecrow) and the development team (Corey, Enceladus, Dr. Nick and Kalo) will be testing the now more or less completed mod over the next month so that we can have it as polished as possible by the expected release date of Thursday, August 26th. I (Corey) can't speak for the rest of the team, but post-release there will be 8 days during which I will be available to make and release patches for any bugs that we miss, after which I will be unavailable for any kind of mod-related work, until 2 weeks in December during which I may be able to address more, although I will be available at the forums and by email for other kinds of tech support.