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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #45 on: April 16, 2020, 01:18:09 AM »
Alpha Reached.
Wed, 15 April 2020

Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) development is advancing as planned and we have reached Alpha-stage.




Special dispatch, April 15, 2020.

Gen'l,

We're glad to report, that Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) development is advancing as planned and we have reached Alpha-stage. This means that the game has now all the main features implemented. The final leg of the march towards Summer 2020 is now underway. Huzzah!

During the coming months we will be adding the final assets in the game and will be busy hunting and squashing bugs, improving the code, optimizing, and adding the playable content. We will also be sharing more information in our development blog, as well as releasing some new images and footage from the game - so stay tuned.

Recently we have released two new videos, which You can find below. They show the last pre-alpha -footage of the game, in form of a trailer, as well as a campaign story video, where you can see the epic re-enactment footage from Richmond, Virginia based LionHeart FilmWorks - be sure to also check out their YouTube channel, which is full of great historical videos from the Civil War to modern times! These campaign videos will be used to tell the story of the Civil War, as it unfolds.

We thank You for the continuous support! Onwards to Summer!

I am, sir, Your very ob't se'v't,

O. KEPPELMÜLLER, Gen'l. Engineer Corps.

PS. A lot of followers have asked about the historical fonts we're using in the game UI. For some, 19th-Century cursive is difficult to read, so we've lately added an option to switch to an easier to read font, if one wishes to. We'll keep on tracking the feedback and taking it into account the best we can!


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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #46 on: April 27, 2020, 02:16:07 AM »
Grand Strategy, Part II
Apr 26, 09:49 pm




Gen’l,

The American Civil War officially ended in May 1865, four long and bloody years after the rebellion turned into armed confrontation. Though it was quite clear from the onset that the Confederacy had no real chance for victory, it took four years and hundreds of thousands of casualties to finish the war of the rebellion. But, at many points, the war could have taken a very different turn – and that’s what Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) is all about.


Chapters & Objectives.

In our previous blog we discussed the story of the game, showing one of the chapter videos. The War, our main character, is divided into four chapters. Some followers of the blog were concerned we would use these chapters to steer the War along the historical lines, from 1st Manassas to Vicksburg to Petersburg, &c. But fear not! The chapters are there to carry the story, not the decisions made by the player.

Like revealed previously, each chapter will have some objectives to complete and to keep alive the war effort of your nation. Instead of directing the player to move certain direction, the objectives can be achieved in multiple ways. The main objective is to crush the enemy’s morale. Once the other side breaks, the game will end. This could happen early on in the game, or later than historically. It all depends on the campaign events, orchestrated by the player and the opposing AI.

Chapter I is the time before open hostilities, but the game cannot be won there. What’s the point of a Civil War game, if there is no Civil War? There are certain historical facts we are following to make sure the Civil War will erupt. For example, the southern player cannot simply choose to abolish slavery before secession – as then there most probably would not have been a secession in the first place? There will be a chance to do this later, though, but even then it’s not a simple thing to do, nor without drawbacks.

In Chapter II, as described in previous blog, there will be objectives to direct how the war will evolve. For example, winning the first major battle in the war will be an objective for both sides, and this battle will have more weight than any later battles in what comes to morale of the citizen. In general, the morale will continue to go down on both sides, the speed being dependent on campaign events like victories, losses, casualties… Some objectives will boost morale, for example by winning multiple consecutive battles, or taking the fight to the enemy’s territory.

Then there are historical objectives that player can try to achieve to gain the upper hand, like for Confederacy to capture border states and make them secede and officially join the Confederacy. In Chapters II and III there are also objectives to influence the Union elections. During the War there were two main elections: the House of Representatives election of 1862 and the presidential election of 1864. In either case, if Republicans, Mr. Lincoln’s party, would have lost, there would have been a chance of turmoil in Union policy making. If the Union support can be lowered enough, the elections will not play out as they did historically, and the nation would be further divided, driving the Union towards peace with Confederacy – which is one way for the south to win the game.

If events follow the historical lines, in the end, the war will end in exhaustion, with one side breaking first. And for the Confederacy, the underdog in the game, there is for example an objective to cause great enough casualties to make the northern spirits waver – even if own casualties would also be high.


Policies.

Many readers of the Engineer Log have been asking about how we will implement research or politics in the game. Regarding the latter you see some hints above. But in the big picture we will not handle internal or partisan policies any further. This is something that happens in the background. Instead, we have a game mechanic called “policies”, where player can set the guidelines for his nation to follow.

The policies are linked to finances. Player, whose actions are government funded, will need money for the war effort. With the collected funds player will recruit and pay military upkeep, but there is more. With government subsidies player can influence the economy of the nation, trade, diplomatic relations with the European superpowers, recruiting, public order and policy making. From these, let’s take a closer look at the policies.

Both sides have a policy tree available, with some twenty policies and similar amount of acts in them. Policies provide certain bonuses to the nation, but only a limited number of them can be chosen at a time. This forces the player to prioritize, as he cannot have it all. Funding -branch of policies allows new means of collecting government funds, military policies allow new means of recruitment, and so on. With industrial focus player can unlock new weapon types to produce, and with diplomacy policies new imported weapon types become available. Each policy “branch” has multiple levels in it, and these levels are unlocked when moving to next Chapters. Player can change the policies to follow, but this will take some time, which simulates the political debate needed. Diverting money to policy making shortens the delays and allows more policies simultaneously.

Acts on the other hand are one time political decisions that player will need to live with for the rest of the game. You can see a number of Union Acts in the bottom row of the image above. Acts are not limited in number, but they can be accessed only via certain policy, act, or a combination. Each act will bring a benefit, but also some drawbacks, so choose wisely. For with Militia Acts, player can introduce longer contracts to volunteer service to make his armies more effective in the long run, but this will reduce the amount of men willing to volunteer. And when out of volunteers, there’s the possibility to introduce recruitment bounties, with more volunteers available for money, but also introducing disciplinary issues in the ranks. Or maybe one wishes to introduce conscription, allowing drafting…

The policies and acts also allow changing the course of history. The north could end up with great relations with the natives or Europeans, while the south could try to industrialize and, at a later stage, even moderate or abolish slavery, with the possibility to recruit Confederate States Colored Troops. But, like said, all this will come with a price, and could also cause the player’s side to lose the game in the long run!


Grand Tacticians Against Micromanagement.

Like described, player has a manageable amount of tools available to change the course of history without the need to micromanage minor details. But, if the player feels even this is too much responsibility to bear, both the finances and policies can be given to the AI to handle.

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.



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Offline Skoop

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #47 on: April 27, 2020, 05:42:19 PM »
This game looks great, can’t wait to try it.

Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #48 on: April 27, 2020, 11:48:01 PM »
This game looks great, can’t wait to try it.

I have been lucky to be able to access the game while it is being developed. The devs have put in a lot of effort and it is coming along nicely :thumbsup

« Last Edit: May 29, 2020, 02:49:59 AM by Asid »

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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #49 on: May 29, 2020, 02:54:36 AM »
Guest Blog: Philippe Thibaut.
Posted May 19



Gen’l,

In this devblog we have a very special guest writer. So far we have not shown the game to outsiders of the development team, except in the official updates like these dev blogs. But when a renown strategy game designer Philippe Thibaut asks to have a look at the game… Well, you show the game! You may know Philippe as the author and designer of the original board-game and PC-title Europe Universalis, or the founder and lead designer of AGEOD, including titles like Birth of America, Civil War, and the gigantic Civil War II, the most comprehensive strategy game of the American Civil War to date!

So, let Philippe himself describe his first impressions after having a look at Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) alpha-version, the campaign and battle game-play, behind the scenes.

– Ilja Varha, Designer, The Grand Tactician -Team.




Meylan, France, May 12, 2020, 9 p.m.

Tonight, I was very lucky and had the honor to have a personal presentation of the brand-new game Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) directly by its lead designer and author Ilja Varha.

First impression? Well, I am missing words…may be “Woahh…!!” is looking most appropriate.

I have been in video games for the last 22 years, worked on Europa Universalis and all the AGEOD titles, and many more other games, like the one I am doing now with my new venture Avalon Digital. I have played many monster games, including the Total War saga… but I must say that I am baffled!

This is, in my opinion and based on what I just saw, probably the best grand strategy game I have seen so far.

It has everything you can desire and dream of in such a venture. The level of details and the clarity and precision of the content is stunning. I thought we had done a lot in AGEOD’s American Civil War, but these guys did better… the content is impressive. No wonder it took so much time to design and produce, this is a treasure chest for any Civil War historian.

But even better, the game is exactly what a grand strategy game should be: you are not controlling everything, far from it, but you find yourself playing with two main levels of personification.


Player can steer his nation via different policies and Acts, like introducing conscription or, like here, investing in industrialization.

First, at the grand strategic level, you are a key member of your nation’s War Cabinet. You intervene on a lot of fields, from domestic politics and trade acts to foreign diplomacy or industrial conduct of the war effort. You are immersed in the huge task of creating your army from scratch (I saw the early 1862 Union side). And you also decide where to conscript, which units to raise, which commanders to appoint – The game has an encyclopedic list of over 1,300 commanders to assign to the various commands, both on land and at sea.

Fortunately, for the non-micromanagement fans (like me), a lot can be delegated to the AI (like running the economy) and that’s better like this. Speaking of economy, remember we are in the land of free enterprise, so the show is run by private businesses and it’s both realistic and ideal (no burden of choosing which little stupid building to build here or there)…

Second, you also get in command on the operational and semi-tactical levels: you have a wide range of realistic options and orders at your disposal as the Army’s High Command, and you shall have to decide on many issues and choices such as training troops, choosing deployments postures or trans-theater transfers. Preparing to battle is almost as important (if not more) as running the fight itself. Knowing (well, actually learning, like most commanders of the time) how to dispose and disperse your corps and divisions, how to make sure they can march to the sound of guns in good order, how to dispatch your orders so that they can be reached – and executed – in time, etc… the list is as long as a real Civil War general agenda… all beautifully displayed in a great art style.

And last, but not least, even for a grand-strategy only amateur like me, the part where you jump into the fray, finding yourself on the battlefield is even better thought. You enjoy – if I could say so – the torment of General Meade trying to guess where the Rebs are on this day of July 1863, and more generally trying to sort out reports in the midst of a very well rendered fog of war, weather constraints, fatigue and disorganization… you really feel you are there, and it is almost disturbingly real.


We also took a staff ride around one of the historic battles.

We spent 3 hours on this game, I had the impression it lasted 10 minutes so big was my astonishment and marvel at such a vast game. I would even dare say a masterpiece.

I even wonder if I should take the risk of playing that game… it would capture my mind and soul and I could not leave it. I wish I had the means, knowledge and tools to have done something like that before (but my game was 13 years ago, an eternity…)

Bravo guys, keep up the good work, you just did immensely great and I expect a huge success for your game.

Chapeau Bas Messieurs!

Philippe Thibaut

CEO, Avalon Digital,
Head of Development and Lead Designer, SGS,
AGEOD : Founder and lead designer,
Europa Universalis: Game Author and Designer, &c.





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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #50 on: June 02, 2020, 03:00:53 AM »
European Intervention!
Posted May 31




Gen’l,

During the mid-19th Century, the United States was a world power, challenging the status of the more traditional European empires of the time. According to the Monroe Doctrine (1823), the United States would oppose any European interference in the Americas. But things have changed, with the Union dissolved, and a Civil War raging between the North and South.

European Empires.

In Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) there are three European Empires, that could play a role in the Civil War. While Spain has lost many colonies in the early 19th Century, they still hold Cuba (or do they with 100% certainty?), and have the mindset of an Empire. The more prominent British and French empires are stronger, but exhausted by the Crimean War fought between 1853-1856 against the Russian Empire. In that war, where the Americans sent their own observers like one Captain George B. McClellan, warfare saw the emergence of iron plated ships and rifled muskets. The war also revealed some real problems with the traditional European military organization and tactics, usually associated with the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Battle of Balaclava.

The British, the former colonial masters and opponents in the War of 1812 still hold the Province of Canada north of the Great Lakes. During the Crimean War the regular troops from Canada were shipped to Europe, and have not returned. Instead, the province’s defenses rely on militia, with numbers and training being questionable at best. When the Civil War erupted, the British military took a neutral stance, observing the situation as it developed. This neutral stance took a sharp turn with the Trent Affair, where, in November 1861, a U.S. ship stopped and boarded British vessel Trent, taking Confederate diplomats into custody. This caused a great diplomatic uproar and the British started making plans for a possible intervention in North America, strengthening the forces in Canada and preparing an Expeditionary Force in Europe. While the British had some sympathy for the Southern cause, they remained neutral throughout the War. The existence of slavery in the South was seen as a moral issue, but cotton was direly needed in the British textile mills – a fact the Confederacy could try to take advantage of.

The French under Emperor Napoleon III had their own continental issues with Prussia, which made their intervention unlikely. While more sympathetic to the Confederacy, the French did not either officially recognize the Confederacy. But with the Civil War creating a power vacuum in North America, the French, along with British and Spanish see their opportunity to intervene in Middle American affairs. Mexico, still recovering from the stinging defeat in the war against United States between 1846-48, where they lost large part of their land, owes money to the Europeans. With the United States unable to intervene, a European expeditionary force is sent to Mexico to force President Juárez to pay. While the intervention begins as a joint European effort, it soon becomes clear that the French have far larger ambitions. The British and Spanish forces eventually withdraw, with the French pushing inland to conquer Mexico.

The French operation in Mexico is a large one, with troops numbers exceeding 30 000, almost one fifth of the French Army at the time. If the French are successful, it could be that the Confederacy would have a sympathetic southern neighbor, with interest to become the leading European cotton importer via Texas. And what if the Confederacy would be in position to directly support the French operation, allowing a stunning victory, and freeing up the French Expeditionary Force to other operations?

Diplomacy.

In the game it’s possible to try to influence the foreign relations with Europe. This is done by investing dollars in diplomacy, and also following policies that are appealing to the European nations. At that time, as Europe was exhausted by the Crimean War, feeding the citizen was a problem. The United States with their vast farmlands expanding to mid-West was a solution, and the Northern player could make the Union a true breadbasket of the world. Who would bite the feeding hand?

The Confederacy also holds an advantage, which is the majority of the world’s cotton production – at least for the time being. With industrial revolution, the textile mills in Europe need to be fed with cotton from the South. It is widely believed in Southern States that the King Cotton would be the decisive force, preventing a war with the North and bringing the Europeans to their aid if needed.

As the player you must weight the different political possibilities carefully, as you cannot be strong in all areas. During the game the possibility of an European intervention will change. And in case the Europeans are convinced that the Confederacy has a fighting chance, maybe a sympathetic nation would see their opportunity to grow their influence in North America, by siding with the South? The British position in Canada is not strong, but that direction offers a possibility to strike the Union’s heartlands from behind. A movement via Mexico would also be possible for the French, if the Mexican resistance is crushed.

The forces we use for the Europeans are such as they could have been during the Civil War. The capability to move huge armies to North America was limited, and the Europeans really understood the value of converting their fleets to ironclad ships after observing the Civil War naval operations. But they will not be a pushover, as the soldiers will be experienced and well drilled. In the image above you see some of the historical European commanders, operating in the American Theater at the time of the Civil War. If you play your cards right, you could see some of them on your side. And in the worst case, you may see some of them joining forces with the enemy! How many of them do you recognize?

Most Respy,

Gen’l. Ilja Varha,
Chief Designer, &c.

P.S. After a request from a follower, we made the interventions optional. In options menu you may choose to have the Europeans remain neutral no matter what.

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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #51 on: Yesterday at 01:12:05 AM »
Who Are the Grand Tacticians?
Jul 2 2020



Gen’l,

As Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) release is getting close, it’s time to take a look behind the scenes of the game’s development, and to introduce the core team of people behind the project. It’s safe to say, that the development of this game has been very different compared to the game dev industry norm. And it will continue to be so.

From Eager Amateurs to Determined Veterans.

In 2016, two men in Austria were thinking to themselves, that the strategy game niche was missing a game. The American Civil War is a very interesting topic to read about, and to learn about, but no-one had made a comprehensive game about the whole war. Of course there are the great titles like Sid Meier’s Gettysburg, AGEOD’s Civil War II, and more recent Ultimate General, and so on. But one title to grasp the story and the operational level of the conflict was still missing. There and then a decision was made to create one.

Oliver Keppelmüller, a 40 years old treasury banker from Austria, had already tried his wings in game development. He created a strategy game called The Seven Years War (1756-1763), alone, from scratch, releasing in late 2015. This game received 2 DLCs during 2016, expanding the battle game-play and adding a Swedish themed campaign of the Pomeranian War.

TSYW, as it’s called among friends, already included the elements that would be the cornerstones of Grand Tactician: strategic campaign layer with simulation of economy and military management, and a tactical battle layer where battles are fought when armies meet on the campaign map. The game also includes historic battles from the war, and a custom battle generator. Though, the dream was always to make a game about the American Civil War. (“I tried to create a Civil War strategy game since the mid 90’s in different coding languages and engines, but never finished… until NOW.”)

Ilja Varha, now a 36 years old Finnish Army officer and a military history buff, ran into Oliver’s game while working for a gaming magazine as a freelance writer. While the game was rough around the edges, it was very intriguing, as it did many things right, that other games usually ignored. Ilja, with a history of modding, wargaming and simulators, both entertainment and military use, got involved in Oliver’s project and designed the Pomeranian War DLC. It was after the release of this DLC that the seed for Grand Tactician was planted.

Peter Lebek, a 41 years old Control Room Operator in the Chemical Industry in Germany, joined the team in 2017 plugging a gaping hole in the team’s line. Now we had a full-time artist to improve the game’s visuals, especially the UI. Peter was previously involved in the Europa Barbarorum II mod for Total War, creating units and coding.

There was but one problem: none of us was a professional game developer within the industry, making a living developing games. This was, and still is, a caveat in a way: making the game would not make a living, so the development would need to take place during spare time, after the workdays and while supporting the families – Oliver and Ilja both had their first child right after the development started, who are now 3 years old, while Peter’s son is a few years older. Also during the development Ilja was accepted to General Staff studies in the Finnish Defence University, spending 2 years studying the art of war while developing the game… Even if this means time for development is always limited – and believe us when we say the boundaries have been pushed on many occasions – it also gave a freedom which professional game developers do not always have: as the game was not the livelihood, we were free to do whatever and however we wanted, without any outside pressure to make things one way or another, or by a certain date.

While inexperience made certain things difficult at first, during the years we’ve learned more than a few things while creating the game. But the most important lesson is that with the freedom we’ve enjoyed, we’ve been able to develop the game our way. And from the feedback we’ve received from the followers of the project and the game’s volunteer testing team, we’ve managed to do emphasize the things we wanted in the game design, from the historic looks and atmosphere to the realistic mechanisms that run under the hood.

The Underdogs with Future Plans.

The release of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) is approaching fast. But the release of the game is not meant to set the game in stone, only to be patched later on with a DLC or two released later. Instead, as the project is a true fruit of passion for us, we are determined to keep it alive, and improving it along the way.

For a gigantic project like this with the limited development time, and basically without any resources, it’s clear, that every feature we planned in 2016 is not yet included or polished. We plan on finalizing our vision by supporting the game for years to come, adding the missing features in the upgrades and patches – for free – while improving the game. At the same time we’ll keep expanding the existing content, like the number of battle-fields players can encounter in the campaign.

Post-release, the players will also have their say in the direction the project will steer from thereon. While Grand Tactician is planned to become a series of strategy games, we’re not in a hurry to go onwards with a new title, even if a few interesting ones are already discussed. Hopefully after the release we can also make the game more moddable, so fans can adjust it to their liking.

And we’re not in this alone. The Volunteers, from freelance artists to history buffs helping in research, have helped us immensely, increasing the game’s quality and atmosphere from the soundtrack recorded just for this game to the video cut-scenes and historical map drawing styles – none of this was planned in 2016. We’re humbled by the talent and morale of the volunteers, as well as the impact their work have had had on our small, but ambitious project!

So, as you can see, Grand Tactician is a true underdog in the game development industry. With full freedom of maneuver we are going to keep the project alive, improving it along the way, as we believe it could be the American Civil War strategy game for years to come.

Most Respy,

Author iv

The Grand Tactician -Team:



The Grand Tactician -Team

Oliver Keppelmüller, 40, Austria, treasury banker.
“I think in 0s and 1s, hardly sleep and the 100k lines of code chase me in my dreams.”

Ilja Varha, 36, Finland, officer, FDF.
“Still got some great ideas to improve the game, though Oliver said he would die of old age before finishing my list…”

Peter Lebek, 41, Germany, Control Room Operator.
“Years ago: do you know a way how to adjust 50 black & white commander photos in one shape? Last week: we have now 1400 commanders in the database and some 1000 will have a colored portrait…”



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Offline Asid

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Re: Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)
« Reply #52 on: Yesterday at 01:26:06 AM »
Starts with B and has an ETA.
Sat, 4 July 2020



Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865) reaches BETA
A Very Special Dispatch, July 4, 2020.


Gen'l,

Sir, news from the development front of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865)! We're happy to announce to all our followers, that the game has reached Beta-stage during June. To celebrate this, we've released a new game play video on our YouTube channel, showing the historic battle feature in the game. See the video:

Beta Battle Game Play: Gettysburg



The 1st beta version game play video of Grand Tactician: The Civil War (1861-1865), showing one of the historic stand-alone battles in the game, the Battle of Gettysburg. Playing as George G.


We have also released a wealth of behind the scenes information about the game in our developer's blog (See above post.)


The forced march towards release has started, but the morale is still holding. During the coming weeks we will be sharing information about the game's initial release!

We thank You for the continuous support! Fix Bayonets - and Happy 4th of July!

I am, sir, Your very ob't se'v't,

O. KEPPELMÜLLER, Gen'l. Engineer Corps.



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