Fortress Europe is a historical realism modification for Company of Heroes 2 that is currently in development.
Battlegroups, Combat teams, Kampfgruppen; all these terms describe a collection of units assembled for a specific mission or purpose.
In Fortress Europe, you will pick a Battlegroup at the beginning of every game. Each Battlegroup comes with a tailored selection of unit choices and abilities, similar to a Commander, but is modeled on an actual historical unit type and the support elements it would be able to call upon in battle.
All units are organized according to their historically accurate formations. Countless hours of research have gone into examining US Tables of Organization and Equipment, British War Establishment documents, German Kriegsstärkenachweisungen papers, and what little information is available on Soviet organizations. These wartime documents detailed the size, ranks, and equipment allocated to all military units, allowing us to make formations in Fortress Europe be as historically accurate as possible.
This means every squad, team, and section have the correct amount of men and exact weapons they would have been issued. Platoons you deploy will be constrained to the equipment they had and the amount of squads or vehicles they actually possessed.
Ever found it weird that the armour profile of a tank in Company of Heroes was just a single value for front and another for the rear? The loading tips may talk about side armour, but there is no such thing in the game.
So we changed it. Fortress Europe has the entire armour profile for every vehicle, containing each plate along with their thicknesses and slope angles. When ever a shot strikes a vehicle we determine which plate was hit for that side and at which angle. Using a formula derived from the book WWII Ballistics - Armor and Gunnery, we get the result of the impact.
Also, there are no hit points. Damage is done to the internal components and the crew inside. Kill enough crew members - or knock out enough systems - and the remaining crew will bail out and retreat. Igniting the ammo will take out the entire vehicle. Hits also have a chance to cause fires, which will either force the crew to bail out or waste their time extinguishing it.
Company of Heroes has always rewarded smart micromanagement, but babysitting your units can be frustrating. To ease the burden, infantry will automatically use anti-tank grenades and launchers on enemy tanks that get too close. Vehicles and towed guns will automatically switch to the correct ammunition for the target they're firing at. Infantry in the open will fall back out of range if suppressed, rather than lying prone and waiting to die.
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Modding Company of Heroes 1 and 2 has been a really interesting journey for me. I learned so much about various things but found my passion along the way in programming. I was in the Air Force at the time and all I could do was think of cool things I could do with Fortress Europe. When I returned to civilian life, I went to college and got a degree in Computer Science. When I wasn't studying or doing homework I was working hard on Fortress Europe. It was such a labor of love and I was so proud of what we were able to accomplish. But then, life happened. I got married. I got my first job as a Software Engineer and had to relocate. Suddenly, it was hard to find the time and motivation to work on the mod when I was already programming at work. I went from being so inspired to come home and work on the mod to being exhausted and unmotivated. As passionate as I was about modding, it was a hobby and not a job.
I had originally started working on a mod for Company of Heroes 1 that I called Operation Overlord or something like that. I had worked briefly on the Europe in Ruins team but wanted more realism, so I set off to try different ideas like using actual Tables of Organization and Equipment to model the squads on. It was at this time that I met Sturmhaubitze (aka Contrivance). We hit it off pretty quickly because of how similar his existing mod, Fortress Europe, was to the ideas I had with Operation Overlord. We decided to merge and keep his name (it was better, anyways). We had the grandest visions for what the mod could be like. I think, for the most part, we achieved a lot of that. However, the game had limits, and we did our best to overcome them. I remember when Company of Heroes 2 was announced how excited we were for new beginnings. We hurriedly switched development over to that and made very quick progress to adapt it. Eventually, we got access to the UI Control API after Relic added it to the game and our wildest dreams were coming true. We had so many different designs and prototypes we went through trying to get it just right.
Unfortunately, that's around when life happened. We were on and off again over the years and then I think we were both pretty demotivated.
Fast forward to today. I asked Contrivance for permission to release a demo we had sent to Relic back in June 2015 and he gave it. It is a very old build compared to our current branch but it is an interesting insight into the development of the mod at that time. We sent them that mod just as we had started looking into the UI Control API, so we didn't have any of that ready. However, it did have an ability-based menu system that Contrivance came up with that worked just fine. It's obviously a little bit rough around the edges and probably has some bugs, but it showcases our armor and penetration system pretty well.
Although I do not have the time I once did, and I believe Contrivance has mostly moved on, I do think there might be a possibility of making Fortress Europe open-source or something like that and getting help from the community in finishing it - if there is enough interest.
If you are interested in being part of the development of Fortress Europe, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, enjoy the demo!
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Back in June 2015, Contrivance and I sent a demo to some folks over at Relic Entertainment of our work-in-progress at the time to show them what we were...
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