Formations & Stuff!

This is a fly-by blog update. I wanted to address Bil’s question on the previous blog entry, but alas I cannot reply with pictures – hence the post.

But before I reply to his question about formations, I thought I’d update everyone on the new wheel order:

I have now updated the graphics for wheeling orders - though the jury is still out at the moment. But more importantly they can now be chained with all the other orders! The cavalry unit has been given a number of movement, charge and wheeling orders - all issued in one foul swoop!

I have now updated the graphics for wheel order – though the jury is still out at the moment. But more importantly, they can now be chained with all the other orders! In this example the cavalry unit has been given a number of movement, charge and wheeling orders – all issued in one foul swoop! (Click for full-sized image)

As can be seen a lot of progress has been made. In addition to the graphics I have also highly optimised the system so that the act of issuing orders is now liquid smooth, unlike the slightly jerky videos shown on the previous blog entries where issued orders were being demonstrated.

Now on to Bil’s question…

Bil’s question was with regard to formations and whether I was modelling the unit depths correctly. The short answer is ‘yes’!

However, his question made me realise that I haven’t really shown the public some of the capabilities of the unit formation modelling – hence this post.

Unlike other Ancients wargames, formations are the key factor in this game. They govern movement and combat to a very significant extent. Other game systems simply look at the weapons systems, plus troop numbers and that’s about it.

Ancient Armies does take these into account, but they are used in conjunction with the formation data to calculate the results. This is important as Ancient Armies keeps track of troop numbers, morale and cohesion. Each of these factors is impacted on differently dependent on the formations being engaged.

As such, a Macedonian Phalanx will behave differently from a Greek Phalanx and both of these will behave differently from a Roman Maniple. For the first time (that I know of), the actual formations that the units are using will have a big impact on the game.

So what am I modelling exactly?

Take a look at the screenshot below:

This is the formation editor within the Army editor. It is extremely flexible. Here I have defined a formation that can assume either 8 or 16 deep depth. For the 8 deep depth, I have set three formation densities (mtrs per man). In addition a unit could also adopt several formation shapes too!

This is the formation editor within the Army editor. It is extremely flexible. Here I have defined a formation that can assume either 8 or 16 deep depth. For the 8 deep depth, I have set three formation densities (mtrs per man). In addition a unit could also adopt several formation shapes too! (Click for full-sized image)

The above screenshot shows the configuration of a Greek Phalanx. This phalanx has been defined with two depths. I have also provided each depth setting with three troop densities – just like some* of the real Greek Phalanxes that were actually employed.

*I say some, because one can configure many different types of Phalanx within the system. Some more flexible than others – as in real life.

The above system is extremely flexible and allows the army designer to create any formation that was used in the ancient world along with all its various deployments. In fact there was a famous case where in one of Alexander’s early Macedonian battles the enemy ran away after seeing his Phalanxes run through all their formation changes. This game lets you do that 🙂

Ancient Armies models every man within the formation based on that formation’s shape and the unit densities. The modelling is to within 0.1 mtr of accuracy and any casualties taken will dynamically affect the size of the formation in real time (though in my testing experience you will need significant casualties to easily be able to see the difference).

Readers should note that the units that I have been using thus far have all been using default or random values, so they are not historical. I have done this so that I can quickly code and test the game. However, once the core coding is done, I will be devoting some serious time to additional historical research to make sure that the units I create are as historically accurate as they can be.

Laters

RobP

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4 thoughts on “Formations & Stuff!

    • Thanks 🙂 There is no eta as it is being developed during my free time and is dependent on how much I have available. But I am interested in getting it completed sooner rather than later. 🙂

  1. Well now Rob.. I am truly impressed. With this level of complexity I am sure you can dictate whether the formation is in march order (column) or battle order (line) and the formation will move appropriately? If in column, I suppose it will not snake along the path (like a real formation), but will remain straight? Doesn’t look like you have factored in any bending or lack of cohesion for a unit…

    How would you represent a manipular legion? Individual maniples, or as one formation?

    • March formation is modelled as a manoeuvre. Any unit assigned this manoeuvre will be able to adopt it. The reason for this approach is that the system calculates the unit’s march shape based on the road/track it is traversing. If not on a road/track, the system simply flips the unit’s axis, so the unit’s depth becomes its width and vice-versa.

      I have many ideas for a lack of cohesion. The previous version actually showed the unit shapes broken up. But now that I’m in 2d I think I will be able to do more, but we will have to wait and see 🙂

      Maniples will be modelled as individual units. These units have a special manoeuvre called ‘Manipular Move’ which causes the Maniple to switch from double depth, to normal depth. From what I have read, they used to advance in double depth at half their width with gaps between each Maniple. As they get near the ‘Manipular Move’ order will be issued that will cause each maniple to effectively fill in the gap in the line by halving it’s depth and doubling its width.

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