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Ground Battle SubMod

ground land battle submod xml editing

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#1 megabalta

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 12:23 AM

Since only a few people I've heard are satisfied with EAWs ground battles, I've started to mod them a bit. As of now, consider this as a submod of PR.

 

In this topic we can discuss the technical elements of these modifications (mostly xml editing), and hopefully we'll recieve some good advice from oldtimer modders. If we're lucky, we can raise ground battles to new heights.

 

My only request is to keep this thread strictly technical. If you have ideas or suggestions about what would you like to see in the game in general, but you don't want to do anything about it, please post them in another thread.



#2 megabalta

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 12:53 AM

First of all, I chose a way to go. There were two choices, conventional rts or tactical rts. Conventional rts is more about managing resources and building stuff, which is nearly completely absent from the ground battles in EAW, so I chose the more tactical approach. As someone wiser then me once said: this game will never be Company of heroes, but I'm sure it can get at least closer to it.

 

Since maps are unit capped pretty hard (for the attacker), my first thing to improve would be unit composition. This could be done by creating mixed units.

 

Ground units are composed on three levels, if I understand correctly:

 

1. </GroundInfantry> or </GroundVehicle>   the individual unit, most of the stats of single tanks or guys can be modded here

2. </Container>   the team or squad, its basically needed to give unit cohesion and abilities to infantry subunits, it's the box you put your soldiers in to make a subunit, which you can individually control

3. </GroundCompany>   the unit you buy on the galaxy map, and deploy in a land battle, here you can mod what elements make up the company, the name, the price, the info text files location etc.
 
To alter unit composition you just have to mod the <Company_Units> line under </GroundCompany> in the units xml, and the things you write there will hopefully show up in the game. It's not a bad thing to use the <Is_Homogeneous>No</Is_Homogeneous> line, if you use separate types of units.
 
<Create_Team_Type>The_A_Team</Create_Team_Type> is the reference to the container.
 
<Max_Squad_Size>x</Max_Squad_Size> line makes the teams (containers) the size of x guys/vehicles.
 
So what the game does is it takes x guys from the <Company_Units> line, and puts them into a team (container), then takes another x guys and puts them into the next team, and so on.
 
And here comes the first problem: what if I'd like to make more than one type of squad (container) in a single company?
I'd like to do this to make say a squad with 10 lasergunman, and two teams of 3 missile guys per team.
Or I'd like to do this to make a command squad with a special ability, and 3 normal squads with no abilites.
I have seen a "summon" ability in Alliance mod, which can summon a big pile of "reinforcement" units, but I'd like to avoid such wizardry for now.
 
Any ideas to solve this, or other technical questions about modding ground battles are welcome.

Edited by megabalta, 28 August 2014 - 01:17 AM.


#3 johnchm.10

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 04:16 AM

I think if you want to have unit compositions like that, the easiest way to do it would be to cut the Platoon-sized units down to squads or possibly even fire teams. I know that's not a great solution, but it is a solution.
It would also allow for this:

What if we try to re-mod some of the vehicles so they behave like capital ships? To be more specific, a vehicle like the Juggernaut or the AT-AT would have infantry spawn from it like fighters from an ISD. Would this be possible and practical from a technical standpoint? Then you could have something like "spawn starting units: rifle squads, 2..., mg squads, 1..., heavy weapons squads, 1...".

This would also allow for some more variations of certain ground vehicles, which have had their armaments reduced in favor of more room for infantry. Sorta like a reverse of the Stryker Fighting vehicle, in that from the same chassis, you have either a troop carrier, gun platform, mortar carrier, ambulance, and command and control vehicle. The best vehicle this would apply to would be the Armored Freerunner. You could have a variant of the unit which only has a single anti personnel gun turret, but can carry a whole squad as opposed to a single passenger.
Of course this would mean that you would have to break down the infantry into fire teams and change the "pip/indications" system to match the new troop counts, in addition to everything else, so it may prove to be too much work.

#4 megabalta

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 09:54 AM

This is a great idea. For now I'll stay with infantry only, because mixing more than one type of units is harder.

First I'll make a command squad (company) consisting a single command squad containter. Then I'll just try adding SPAWN_SQUADRON to <LandBehavior> line of this container, and spawn the rest of the companies/containers (other squads and fire teams) as soon as the unit lands. I also have to make sure that only the command squad (company) is buildable on the galaxy map, of course it'll have the name of the whole unit.

 

<Spawned_Squadron_Delay_Seconds>0</Spawned_Squadron_Delay_Seconds>
<Spawned_Squadron_Location_Bones>SPAWN_00</Spawned_Squadron_Location_Bones>
<Spawned_Squadron_Location_Flyout_Distances>20.0</Spawned_Squadron_Location_Flyout_Distances>
<Spawn_Garrison_On_Load>True</Spawn_Garrison_On_Load>
 
These lines should go under the affiliated company line:
 
<Starting_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>X_Some_Squad, x</Starting_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>
<Reserve_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>X_Some_Squad, x</Reserve_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>
 
What's a pip/indications system?

Edited by megabalta, 28 August 2014 - 01:35 PM.


#5 johnchm.10

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 04:43 PM

You know how with the Juggernaut, at at, and anything else that can garrison infantry has those dots that turn red when they are occupied? Those. I just don't remember what those are called, and when I sent the first reply, I was too tired to deal with it.

#6 megabalta

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 05:07 PM

Oh I see. Well as far as I know thats a completely separate thing from spawning squadrons.



#7 johnchm.10

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 06:51 PM

I realize that. That's why I said that I wouldn't be sure if the work was worth the effort.

#8 megabalta

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Posted 28 August 2014 - 10:34 PM

After hours of writing some new unit xml files are ready along with a changed upgrade system. I've taken the imperial army units first. I've modified GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_TROOPER.XML and saved it as GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_MEDIC.XML, GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_TROOPER_HEAVY.XML etc. to have new soldier types. I've created a separate GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_INFANTRY_BATTALIONS.XML for the new companies and research/upgrades.

Another file called GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_INFANTRY_SQUADS.XML is created for squadron sized companies to be spawned by the command squad (just as the barracks summons squads).

 

I've modded GAMEOBJECTFILES.XML to accept the new files. Also modded HARDPOINTS_LAND_SOLDIER.XML for new weapons.

To implement the new upgrades, TECH_TREE_EMPIRE.XML is changed too.

 

Now upon starting the game I get XML Parsing error: syntax error for all the new unit xml files. The data they contain works, because if I put it in the original GROUNDINFANTRY_ARMY_TROOPER.XML, the game runs. I just don't want to do that, because working with separate files is way easier.

Now I'm far from a programmers knowledge, so... what da hell? 

 

Any ideas what the problem could be? (btw I'm using the windows notepad to change xml files)


Edited by megabalta, 28 August 2014 - 10:40 PM.


#9 johnchm.10

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 01:22 AM

You have an error in the file. Possibly a line that doesn't have a valid end.
Download Notepad++, and use that.
It makes editing a bit easier, and has a syntax checker that lets you know if the file is kosher or not. It's also free. Use that and go through the file, line by line. Also, if you can, upload the affected files here and I'll go over them and see if I can find it

#10 megabalta

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Posted 29 August 2014 - 05:34 PM

This is a nice program, it made my life easier, thanx.

I've managed to solve the syntax errors by not making new files (it came to mind that replacing only three files is way easier for the would be endusers of the submod too).

So everything's fine and going, except the squadron spawning. Problem is, normally it's a building or a spaceship that spawns units, and both types are single units. Now however I'm trying to spawn units by an infantry squad. I've tried to put these lines

 

<LandBehavior> SPAWN_SQUADRON <LandBehavior> 

 

<Spawned_Squadron_Delay_Seconds>0</Spawned_Squadron_Delay_Seconds>
<Spawned_Squadron_Location_Bones>SPAWN_00</Spawned_Squadron_Location_Bones>
<Spawned_Squadron_Location_Flyout_Distances>20.0</Spawned_Squadron_Location_Flyout_Distances>
<Spawn_Garrison_On_Load>True</Spawn_Garrison_On_Load>
 
<Starting_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>X_Some_Squad, x</Starting_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>

<Reserve_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>X_Some_Squad, x</Reserve_Spawned_Units_Tech_0>

 

under the company, then part of it under the container too, but to no avail. No squads are summoned ingame. I'll try to do it with the actual </GroundInfantry>Army_Officer later.


Edited by megabalta, 29 August 2014 - 05:39 PM.


#11 johnchm.10

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Posted 30 August 2014 - 05:46 AM

Tbh, I don't know much about the technical aspects of the mod. It's one of the reasons I stick with compliment modification and other small things.
Although, a thought has occurred to me. The Vanilla ATAT in plain EAW was capable of deploying Stormtroopers. Maybe that file might have some helpful info.

#12 megabalta

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 08:59 PM

So after hours upon hours of trial and error, I've managed to make infantry squads spawn infantry squads.

 

I've tried to mod the deploy ability too, and managed to give infantry squad the deploy squad ability, but it's icon is greyed out (like when the ATAT runs out of stormtroopers to deploy), and it doesn't do anything.



#13 evilbobthebob

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Posted 09 September 2014 - 10:29 PM

Unfortunately you probably need a deploy animation for the ability to work correctly. Alternatively, a specific bone in the model.


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#14 megabalta

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 12:18 AM

Probably yes, the root bone could not make it work. No problem, it was a nice backup idea (thanx Johnchm) for if the spawning would not work. It did however, so finally I'll get to make the new platoons. Here's the plan, if anybody is interested. I'm open to suggestions (red inked unit models needs to be made/rigged in the future).


Edited by megabalta, 29 September 2014 - 05:30 PM.


#15 johnchm.10

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Posted 10 September 2014 - 05:13 AM

All ideas are good ideas, even if they do not succeed.

#16 johnchm.10

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 03:09 PM

so i had a random (like there are other types) thought. if you ever get the mechanized infantry concept to work, would it make more sense to have the troops spawn inside or outside the vehicles when they land?

 

additionally, if you end up getting the Mixed-units formations to work, you might want to limit the group size to 5 Reinforcement Points, max, so you wouldn't necessarily need all the Control points to land an Expeditionary Group

and that you might wish to change the Lander used, depending on the size of the formation. a Light to Medium sized group, like an Armored Freerunner group with Infantry and a few other Light Vehicles could work from something the size of an Action VI, while an AT-AT or Juggernaut group and escorts/troops might need something the size of a large Corvette or even a light Frigate.



#17 megabalta

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 05:38 PM

I've decided not to mix infantry and mechanized units, because I want to give that choice to the player. It's easier from the production aspect too. This way players can decide what infantry units they want to mechanize with transports on the battlefield. I'm trying however to add transports way more significance with decreasing infantry health, so an open infantry charge against any type of unit with a repeating blaster will be futile. To compensate I'm working on an infantry cover system, so the poor bastards could at least dig in to avoid getting slaughtered. Most infantry units will however posess some kind of a tankbuster weapon, be it a proton torpedo launcher or a magnetized thermal detonator, so they wont be completely defenseless against armor.

 

I don't really want to get into modding reinforcement points, the main purpose is only to mix units so they are more useful and/or canon. I'm not gona make huge combined armies or battlegroups into a unit worth a single reinforcement point or something like that. Unit sizes will only differ from the original PRs if absolutely needed. 

I'm more of a dropship fan, corvette size (200+m) ships should not land on a 1km x 1km map.

I'm also planning to make strafing/bombing runs much quicker, deadlier and way more rare.



#18 johnchm.10

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Posted 11 September 2014 - 09:23 PM

fair enough.

 

the reinforcement points thing was if you were to use combined arms forces, so if you were to have something like an AT-AT group, AT-ST group, Speederbike group, and 2 groups of Infantry (doesn't matter what type), that that group should cost 5 Reinforcement Points, because they have 5 groups of units. the modding doesn't need to occur and honestly, shouldn't occur, with the possible exceptions of capturable units, and in the case of Chih's submod, the basic infantry



#19 megabalta

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Posted 12 September 2014 - 05:31 PM

I've noticed something really strange. The new mixed platoons are made up of a command squad and some other squads spawned by the command squad (by the platoon officer in the command squad to be precise). Now if I suffer casualties, but do not lose the whole command squad, the platoon is not lost on the galaxy map. The losses are however somehow registered by the game, and next time I use the platoon in a ground battle, casualties are not replaced, instead I start with a crippled platoon. This is especially problematic if the officer is a casualty since he spawns the other squads, so if he's not present, no squads besides the crippled command squad are spawned in battle.

Any ideas how this is possible? Or is it a vanilla feature I've missed somehow? All units not lost in battle should reset to their original state after returning to the galaxy map if I remember correctly.


Edited by megabalta, 12 September 2014 - 05:35 PM.


#20 johnchm.10

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Posted 13 September 2014 - 06:39 AM

that sounds like either a bug or you might have stumbled upon some cut content. the only reasons that i can think of that issue happening are if an XP system was being developed than scrapped, or if they wanted you to have to obtain replacements for lost units after battles. or its a bug





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