Development Update III: Trials, Tribulations, and a War in South Africa
Welcome to another Development Update to bridge the gap between now (which is whenever you’re reading this diary if it’s before Cornflakes drops) and the release of Cornflakes (which will allow us to resume dev diaries as per normal). Today we’re going to go over some difficulties in adapting a Cold War modification into Hearts of Iron IV and one of the many ‘flashpoints’ in the mod that makes things interesting and brings the global powers that much closer to nuclear annihilation.
But first, I’d like to share a new piece of artwork for the mod by the very, very talented Matheus Graef!
For fans of TNO I think the image is a bit self explanatory, for those not quite up to date, it shows Speer's 'liberal' supporters attacking Germania, the capital of the Reich being controlled by General Speidel, during the German Civil War. When describing the art to Matheus, I imagined the situation as Bormann having attacked the city, and the other three rushing in to try and claim it for themselves.
Anyway, onto the diary proper.
A Circle in a Square Hole
So some of the most commonly asked questions we receive is based around how, exactly, we expect to do this mod. Hearts of Iron IV, despite all our hopes and desires, is not Victoria 2 (which the mod was originally made for, see our first Development Diary about leaving Victoria 2) and it is, thankfully, not Europa Universalis, Crusader Kings, March of the Eagles, or Svea Rike, which would be much harder to adapt the setting to (see our future diary about our difficulties in porting TNO over to Svea Rike 2, the superior game). This means that we are working in a game built around, in its core design, around 8 years of gameplay, and that's stretching it. More so, we are working in a game built around a fast build up to an inevitable conventional war, which is not what TNO is about. The world war is something to be avoided at all costs in TNO, and a conventional war between the big three will be nothing besides an exercise in delaying the inevitable.
So let's go a bit deeper into this, shall we? There's going to be a lot of issues that I can't touch upon yet, as their solutions are still being worked on or discussed, but I will go over a few of the ones we have already fixed up.
Most HOI4 players know how awful late game Hearts of Iron can get with every nation from Germany to Bolivia pumping out dozens of poorly armed and trained divisions to serve no purpose than to crash a NASA super computer they use so much processing power. Naturally, the thought of the game not going on for eight or so years, but for twenty, is a horrifying prospect and doubtless an uphill battle.
Perhaps, ironically, this was the easiest thing for us to fix in the end.
With this system, the AI will only build units up to its industrial capacity and then cut itself off, so Brittany will produce only a few divisions, while China may produce a decent number but eventually hold off at a reasonable limit. Major nations have further custom AI, giving them an even lower cap, so while the US, Germany and Japan might still be able to spam out a ridiculous amount of units given their industrial capacity, it will still be a smaller number to reflect military's iotl who did not produce 44,000 divisions of cavalry soldiers.
"But Panzer!" I can hear you, you unwashed masses begging for bed from the castle square, cry out, "That will make it really easy for me to win a war!"
Well worry not my children, for the AI also takes this into account. There is an arm's race system where neighboring nations and other great nations will build up their armies to try and match threats. So if Bormann decides to quadruple the size of the German military because stable economic systems only exist if you believe they do, then the United States and Japan will also begin building up their armies to try and match. An arm's race, if you will.
The Game looks a bit too Cartoony:
A common complaint Hearts of Iron IV gets is that it looks a bit too plastic and cartoony, a far cry from the olden days of Hearts of Iron III, which looked so grim that it became a leading cause of depression in the strategy gaming community.
In response, I've taken it upon myself to redesign as much of the game as I can. We are heavily hamstrung by what exactly HOI4 is capable of, but I have done my best, to at least, make the game look as grim and depressing as the setting demands... which for TNO is pretty damn grim and depressing. We've also done some things we hope make the map feel a bit larger, which includes doubling the amount of VPs available (WIP! you won't see it in this diary), as well as fix some things we have deemed mistakes in Paradox's map design, such as the size of the English channel.
You can see our new map (which is flat!) and the British Isles, where they have been forcefully relocated back to Europe.
Keeping Things Interesting:
And then the kicker. How do you keep 20 years interesting when many struggle to keep interest in HOI4 for 8?
Well... that might be a difficult one. TNO isn't a world war mod, you're not going to get the explosive burst of action you get in vanilla. I mean, you can get that explosive burst of action, but it will normally lead to a much more explosive burst of nuclear hellfire which will generally destroy your nation and turn the game closer to something like a Fallout grand strategy game, and isn't exactly conductive to continuing large scale warfare.
You're most likely not going to play a game of TNO in one sitting, even on speed five, it's something to be played for a bit and for however long you want to. But the primary goal of the mod is geopolitics and experiencing the story of TNO, through events, decisions, what have you.
Of course that's boring as hell when you're playing for 20 years, so yes, there are, like in any great movie or book, shooty bits. The world of TNO is unstable at best and half a second from nuclear fire (or actually burning in nuclear fire) at worst, and thus there are a lot of wars that will happen in those years. Whether it's constant back and forth fighting and then collapsing in Russia or the US getting into overseas misadventures trying to stop the fascist dominoes, those 20 years will generally be packed with proxy wars between the great powers, or just regular wars for the smaller ones that don't have 'end the game' buttons to press when things go bad.
So what conflicts will there be? I don't want to spoil many of them before the mod releases and you can find them out for yourself, but today we'll be going over one that may seem a bit familiar to many people. The South African War.
The South African War:
United States Marines, ostensibly 'advisors', humping through thick jungles with their local allies and support from their allies abroad, fighting guerillas in the brush and carefully sweeping for IEDs and as a trio of Huey's fly overhead and back home the protests grow and the politicians argue whether or not it's time to end it. We completely made this idea up because we're so original, and that is the face of the South African War.
Africa in 1962 is... not a great place to live. At least not for the natives. In the north, Italy and Iberia have divided up the the deserts as French and local guerillas continue their war. In the West, German bombers regularly fly over and carpet bomb any signs of civilization to ensure no threat arises there, and for training purposes of course, as local tribes and the remnants of De Gaulle's resistance fight for what little land they can secure. In Central Africa, the Reichskomissars rule slave states, mass plantations and strip mines working the locals to death while brutally putting down the many, many resistance groups fighting against their rule there.
Perhaps the only light for the continent is South Africa. While not a perfect home, and while African rights is still not anywhere near an acceptable standard, the loss of the Afrikaaner led National Party in 1948 meant Apartheid never came into being, and while Unity's hold on the government has been shaky, by 1962 they have still managed to retain their power.
It is still a nation in unrest, despite this. While Apartheid was never implemented, Africans still do not enjoy anywhere near the same rights as whites, and multi-year long protests has turned to riots as desperate and panicking police officers have opened fire on the crowds. By 1963, the situation is becoming increasingly untenable, and with pressuring from the OFN, the government has announced that it would begin talks with African National Congress.
This has angered the Afrikaaner populace, who, having received a steady stream of arms from Germany and their neighboring Reichskomissars for decades, have begun to utterly segregate themselves from the nation. But that is not all that is happening in Africa...
1963, as many of you may remember, is also the beginning of the German Civil War, and the Civil War has grave, grave consequences for the struggling Reichskomissars on the dark continent.
With military and monetary assistance from the Reich suddenly gone or stranded, the African resistance movements begin a renewed campaign against the German colonists. Badly supplied, militarily outdated and stretched incredibly thin, the Reichskomissars problems seem to only mount as time goes on.
Of course, they are not completely helpless, and their ultimate goal, like much of the former German sphere, is that of survival above all else. To this end, they will form Afrika Schild.
Designed to begin modernizing and uniting their militaries, Afrika Schild will militarily unite the three colonies there and begin greatly improving their military potential thanks to their new shared military stockpile and industrial base.
While the alliance was designed to be purely defensive, this was quickly changed as the situation in South Africa finally collapsed, as the Afrikaaner have refused to be subject to whatever negotiations the government makes with the African Congress.
It seems doubtful the Boers will manage a proper resistance against the South Africans alone, but the Reichskomissars see this as opportunity. If they could smash the South Africans, they could make a new and 'stable' ally in the south to help themselves stay afloat, steal all of the arms and munitions they need, expand their power, secure Africa for Germany and, most importantly, ensure the American-led OFN remains firmly out of the continent.
And so begins the South African War.
I won't go into the exact details of the mechanics of how it will work, as I want to save that for a more in depth update on proxy wars somewhere down the line, but the war has many paths on how it can go. The Boer's might even not be the only ones revolting if the South African government makes some bad choices! Regardless, despite the hopes of the Reichskommissars, America is more than willing to jump into a foreign war, and support from the OFN floods South Africa soon after.
Despite the war becoming unpopular and costing the United States more and more as it drags on, the Reichskommissars stand little chance against a modern military force with the resources and capabilities of the OFN. However, the German Civil War will not continue forever, and Germany will be intent on saving their colonies...
The 'canon' ending, or the one we assume most likely (but just one of many) in the war is the US and the Reichskomissars eventually reaching stalemate with the RKs having lost land in the struggle. If this happens, and the American populace grows too tired of the war, then the US and South Africa can approach Germany with a ceasefire deal.
Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean hostilities will never resume, or that conflict in the region is over, especially with African nationalism still aflame, South Africa still dealing with its mass riots and all of its newfound land and the Reichskommissars still in utter collapse, even worse, now.
We'll go deeper into some conflicts and, like I said, the mechanics behind them later. But until then, I think that's enough to wrap up today's development update.
Thanks for reading! And here's the links: