Article:Global Crisis Developer Diary #3 - Battle Groups
Developer Diary #3 - Battle Groups
SR2020 is not your typical RTS/Wargame. Our maps intentionally and realistically feature regions of all sizes, and we do not limit the number of units a country can own. The only limiting factors for army size are having enough reserve personnel and enough money to fund your ambitions. When running a nation with fewer units, managing your military doesn't become much of an issue. However, when a player can have thousands of units to control (such as the continental USA) we have to pay attention to new challenges players could face. Over the course of development of Supreme Ruler we have introduced a few ways to manage units. I'll discuss a some of those first, then I'll talk about the new addition included in our expansion Supreme Ruler: Global Crisis.
Cabinet ministers will help run your army for you until you get comfortable managing large forces. As you see fit you can take control over your military down to the battalion size. Individual unit settings and initiative settings by military branch offer many player options when they do want to roll up their sleeves and get into the action. You can also arrange units in stacks which can be selected together and some units can be tucked away in reserves until needed.
Supreme Ruler also comes with the traditional 'number group' system found in other PC strategy games. Select some units, and pressing <CTRL> + <1> on your keyboard will bind those units to 'number group' 1. Later pressing <1> again will re-select those units. For traditional RTS games having ten (10) groups is adequate as they tend to limit unit counts to 100 or 200 units. Even with 200 units that's approximately only 20 units per 'number group' and many people may only group some of their key units. If you've played our USA map and wanted to group all your units 2000, that would be 200 units per number group. At 7 units a stack that's over 28 hexes filled with units. You could put less in each group but then you are left with not grouping much of your military for quick access.
Introducing Battle Groups
All of us at BattleGoat Studios have spent countless hours designing and discussing ways to offer better unit control and management to players. Much of our discussion took place with our members on our active 'BGForums'. Some discussions were heated debates and others were just brainstorming as we tried to come up with any feasible solution. One recurring request was for a form of regiment or divisional unit. While considering this approach the key obstacle was map representation. How to model a group of units as a new 'regiment unit' when battalions can occupy different locations became the main stumbling stone. Units damaged, going for repair, moving at different speeds were all things we considered.
One day, instead of asking, "how can we finally design unit hierarchy (regiment, division) to work in Supreme Ruler?", I asked the question, "what do we want the player to be able to do?" We came up with a few thoughts.
· Give players a better way to manage their large armies.
· Help players manage forces on multiple fronts as they play on our large one-world map.
· Do not change what players can already do, just offer some improvements.
· Offer the ability to select groups using the map as well as the GUI.
· Offer more groups for players to use - break through the 10 group limitation
· Allow renaming of groups for those players who want to customize the naming systems for their military.
· Create a system that will allow future improvements.
One common request from players was that they wanted a few more number groups and the ability to rename them. That is what we have done, with a few extras thrown in as well.
Battle Groups is the next step forward in allowing players to manager larger numbers of units. For players who already use 'number groups', we've just given you more groups and more ways to use them. For players who don't use number groups, our new system will hopefully allow you to create and use groups with greater ease.
A battle group is created by simply selecting some units and pressing the 'Create Battle Group' button. You can still use the hotkeys, <CTRL> + <#> on your keyboard for the first 10 Battle Groups. Units in a group have their name modified to show where they belong and we've also listed in the GUI groups that are active. When selecting units on the map, a choice is shown to allow players to easily select the entire battle group the unit belongs to. We have also increased the number of groups from 10 to 99.
With the Battle Groups system in place it offers new ways to manage larger armies and lays a foundation for future Supreme Ruler development. There are many areas of the game that we haven't yet touched upon when it comes to grouping units. Here are a few possible areas we can explore.
· Custom emails when a group is engaged in combat.
· Sounds effects related to groups.
· Cabinet ministers could help a player create battle groups
· On-map HUD changes for stacks that have grouped units.
· Map filters to hide or show only grouped units.
· Settings such as allowing cabinet control over certain groups.
· Pre-grouping units for players in certain designer-created scenarios
· Allowing players to assign Battle Groups to hotspots.
'Battle Groups' may not solve everyone's wishes but it does move Supreme Ruler forward when it comes to unit management. It also offers a good place to expand upon in the future and as usual we'll rely upon our forum members to provide feedback on the system for possible future improvements.
Game Designer at BattleGoat
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