Hello again, it’s been a while since our last Developer Diary entry. We’ve been quite busy implementing all manner of interesting features and content, and now it’s time to share some of these additions with you!
The focus of this entry will be to explore how Panzer Corps has not only improved on time tested Panzer General game play, but has also moved far beyond what has been capable in previous titles, especially in multiplayer. After all, as potent as our AI will be, there simply is no comparison to the experience of playing online against real human opponents!
So first let’s introduce you to the multiplayer interface, which as you can see here has been built directly into the game launcher. No annoying third party programs to download and no cumbersome save file management required on the user’s end. This image is exactly how the interface appears in game, except that I have added“A, B, and C” letters in green to mark significant areas of the interface.
Under“A” we have the primary tabs where players can easily view their current games in progress, issue a new challenge, or accept challenges issued by any player in the world! Here’s what part of the Issue a Challenge screen looks like. In addition to this scenario selection screen, you have another screen to set your exact settings, such as side, handicap, and other options.
Under“B” we have the main area where games and challenges are listed, to play, issue, or accept. As you can see the picture, games can be password locked, just remember to give your preferred friend or opponent the password to accept it!
Under“C” we have the details of the scenario. One game on the Bzura map isn’t going to be the same as any other game on Bzura, and here we allow players to not only customize their settings, but to be able to communicate this as well!
We can see“loxchiliisky” has turned off the option to review and replay the opponent’s moves, a mode we refer to as‘double blind’. The‘description line’ is actually a window that the challenge issuer can type into! In this case, they have specifically written their setting for Double Blind mode, and they have also noted that they are an“Experienced Player”. The possibilities for this brief window are limitless, and eventually we hope to see such regular use that some terms will become abbreviated. Double Blind, Experienced Player, may one day simply become DB EP. “New Players Only” or“NPO” could describe the type of game the host is looking to play, maybe they themselves are a newbie looking for someone of equal skill to fight. An experienced player may write“Pros only!” With this simple text option, we gave the players the ability to communicate with each other before they even start playing. Now when a well experienced player wants to play Battle of the Bzura against an equal adversary, they can advertise this in the description window. Just the same, another player with no experience on Battle of the Bzura can ask for another‘newbie’ to join the game so they both can enjoy a friendly and casual match for their first game!
As an added bonus, we have built in anti-cheat measures right into the PBEM interface. If the server detects a modified scenario or modified equipment file in use by the host, a warning will be displayed for anyone who may potentially accept the scenario. The server will allow use of modified scenarios or equipment files though, as‘custom’ games that allow players to use maps and equipment files of their own design when playing against other players online!
Enough talk about the UI, let’s actually take a look at the games, shall we?
As a preview, I will be talking about three special‘multiplayer’ scenarios that will be included with the release version of Panzer Corps. These are maps that are not available in campaign mode; although they can be accessed in hot seat or single play VS the AI. There are a total of ten of these maps, and they are extra special because they have been expressly designed to be as well balanced as possible. I could show you the extensive change log for all of these maps, but I wouldn’t want this diary entry to be ten more pages long! Suffice to say these maps have been rigorously tested during the BETA to be as fair and balanced as possible. Some of them are historical, some are hypothetical, and a few are downright fictional (French Char Bs and Italian M14/41s fighting in 1943!), but all of them have excellent game play.
Our first map is Battle for the Bzura:
Polish forces between the Bzura and Vistula rivers attempt to break out and flank German Panzer forces driving on Warsaw.
The German player has two options for victory, capture all VH for instant victory OR
hold 5 or more VH at the end of turn 13. The Polish player also has two options for victory, capture all VH for instant victory OR hold 3 or more VH at the end of turn 13.
Thanks to a new trigger editor, Panzer Corps has the ability to move well beyond the standard Panzer General formula of“offense take all VH to win, failure to capture even 1 VH means loss”.
After 13 turns, the game looks something like this.
One side hasn’t steamrolled the other; it’s a hard fought battle where both sides have been grappling for control of key bridgeheads on the Bzura river!
Our second map is our flagship‘custom’ scenario. Why is it custom? Because this map has zero victory hexes! We call it“Hunters in the Atlantic.”
Bismarck and Tirpitz challenge British control of the North Atlantic.
Special rules for the scenario have been set up through game trigger mechanics:
British Objective: Land at least 5 Convoy units on the British Mainland. (Hexes have been given special strings that say "British Mainland")
Sink the German Battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz.
Sink enough Convoy transports to prevent Allied Victory.
The Bismarck or Tirpitz must survive.
Capturing hexes has absolutely nothing to do with this scenario. A hypothetical German fleet, consisting of famous ships such as Bismarck, Tirpitz, Admiral Scheer, Emden, and more has been assembled to fight the Royal Navy on the open seas of the Atlantic! The fun and challenge of this scenario is that both sides have‘vital’ ships to protect while they are simultaneously attempting to sink their opponent’s‘vital’ ships. Without the heavy guns of Bismarck and Tirpitz, the German surface fleet is seriously outgunned by British ships such as King George V, Rodney, and Hood, but the more Bismarck and Tirpitz are used to combat the Royal Navy, the more likely it is that they might be sunk!
The last map we will be previewing today is called Hylan Valley.
Another departure from the typical Panzer General scheme. The winner of this large scale scenario is the player who controls the most victory hexes at the end of the turn count. Each side starts with 2, and there are five neutral victory hexes. Capturing all victory hexes results in an instant victory.
German Decisive Victory:
Capture all objectives.
Control at least 5 objectives at the end of the game.
British Decisive Victory:
Capture all objectives.
Control at least 5 objectives at the end of the game.
This map is purely fictional, with no historical equivalent. The entire map has been built from the ground up to play as balanced as possible. German player requisitions Me262 jet fighters? The British player can challenge them with the Gloster Meteor. King Tigers and Jagdpanthers on the move? Comet tanks, Sherman Fireflies, and Challengers can give them a decent fight, or close quarter infantry tactics can turn those German heavies into scrap!
Both sides only start with a small‘core’ of units, but abundant prestige to purchase much more equipment. Perhaps in one game, the German player wishes to rules the skies, purchasing a fleet of Me262s, Ju-87s, and He-177s to strafe and bomb his opponent into submission. In the next, the same German player may opt for purchasing no air units at all, instead utilizing a few AD units such as the Ostwind and vaunted 88mm FlaK gun to protect their ground forces from air attack and using the prestige they saved to purchase extra Panthers, Tigers, and Nebelwerfers. Each side is on the offensive in this scenario, but each side must also defend the objectives they manage to take control of, and reconnaissance is of the utmost important on this map, as our little German scout car friend demonstrates here:
We’re hoping players will enjoy our stock multiplayer content, including seven additional special multiplayer maps that have not been described here. More than that, we hope that players and modders will be inspired by the capabilities of these maps and the editor to create their own amazing scenarios, campaigns, and multiplayer battles. One day in the future, there is even a possible plan to support and implementation of true multiplayer campaigns, both co-op and versus! The release of Panzer Corps is by no means the end of development; it will only be the beginning! (We hope!)