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Messages - Knoffhoff

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Developer Blogs / Re: The road to Prokhorovka Part 2
« on: 02-01-2013, 22:01:42 »
What made you choose not to use Microdem?

Microdem doesn't offer the resolution I want to work with and doesn't give me the freedom that creating a heightmap from scratch in PS is giving me.

The road to Prokhorovka Part 3: getting at it again

first post updated

Developer Blogs / Re: The road to Prokhorovka
« on: 04-09-2012, 20:09:06 »
First post updated, enjoy.  ;)

Developer Blogs / The road to Prokhorovka New Update
« on: 18-08-2012, 23:08:12 »
The road to Prokhorovka Part 1

Hello folks,
welcome on the road to Prokhorovka.
In this blog I'll share some insights into the developing process of one of our first eastern front maps.

When we decided to do the eastern front it was clear that we wanted to include a map covering the actions during the Battle of Kursk to our first eastern front release.
After it had been decided that I got the privilege to do that map, I started to do extensive research on what was going on during that battle and to figure out what kind of map would be best suited.

After several days of research I narrowed the actions down to two scenarios that seemed to be suitable.

- The actions around Ponyri
- Battle of Prokhorovka

In the next weeks I developed concepts for both map ideas that included, a rough description of the gameplay I was aiming for, gaming area based on real terrain, heightmaps based on real terrain features, control point and vehicle layouts.

It then was decided that Prokhorovka is the map we are going for. The reasoning behind it mainly has to do with it being easier to implement than Poniry which would have needed many more unique statics and vehicles. But also we had the feeling that a big tank clash outsidethe africa scenario was missing in FH2.

When creating the gaming area I decided to choose a terrain that had the Psel  river in the northwest, the village Storozhevoe in the southeast, Prokhorovka in the northeast, and Komsomolets and Oktiabr'skii farms in the center. That area in reality covers  ~ 350 square km's and has for gaming purposed been downscaled to 4 ingame square km's.

In this area 3 German SS divisions and a variaty of Russian divisons where fighting which allows for a nice vehice layout.

The next step was to create a rough heightmap that is based on real terrain. Take a look at the heightmap itself and note the accordance with the topographic map.

The actual concept of the map is a head on tank combat over 4 captuarable flags. Both teams bleed at the beginning of the round and a team can stop the own bleed by holding more flags than the enemy does.
The map is divided in three parts by the river in the north and the railroad line in the south. The Terrain in the middle of the map is a little bit wavy and mostly open. Not in the concept drawing but certainly in the map is the famous AT ditch in the depression between both farms. The southern part is wavier and has more overgrowth which allows for better cover, while the northern part is more flat and open.
The engaements in open terrain will mostly happen between tanks, infantry has the chance to man defencsive positions aroundthe flags.

Next time I will show the first steps in BF2 editor.
Stay tuned.

The road to Prokhorovka Part 2: First Editor Work

After concept and heightmap creation it is time now to create the actual map in editor.

I imported my heightmap and used the actual map extract I was basing the map on as ground texture.
To make it not blind my eyes while working, I gave ita dark green overlay. This texture helps me alot to orientate on the otherwise still empty map and  is the rough plan of how I'm building my landscape. 
The next thing I do is to place all the flags, add some spawnpoints and some vehicles and buildings at each flag.
This is followed by the first ingame test, to check out if the scale is working out like planned, distances between flags are good and if the terrain height differences feel right.

If all that turns out like expected, my next step is to create the main terrain features. In this case the railroad line in the south and the river in the north. Those two terrain features are very importatnt since they divide the in 3 main parts. Before starting to work on any of the other areas of the map I want to have those roughly done to be able to build the rest of the map around them and design the gameplay so that those features actually have a impact.
To do that i adjust the terrain, so it forms a river, create embankments and cuts for the railroad line and place the tracks. All heightmap work is rough. I will have to overwork it later anyways, so there is no need to waste too much time on it.

Running into first problems. A big problem on this heightmap is that the river area is very flat. To minimize flickering through water when looking from a distance I raise the terrain around the river and make the river banks steeper.

Placing railroad tracks is tricky and has to be done with care. If you don't 100% correct attach them to their neighbor you get crazy flickering. To get it as perfect as possible get close to the rail and look at from several directions.

Smoothing the terrain at cuts and embankments so much that I don't have too nasty parts but saving time because I will fine tune this anyways at a later stage.

Another thing I do right at the start is to create the most important roads. Nothing fancy, just some splines with a road texture that again mostly give me  orientation when working in editor and checking things out ingame.
Additionaly I placed some more buildings and some overgrowth which also help me to get the scale right while further working on the map. Right now they are just thrown at some place where i might use them later but doing this also gives me ideas on how to actually place the statics later.

I hope you enjoy the blog.
Have a nice evening, till next time.

The road to Prokhorovka Part 3: getting at it again

When building a map it is very likely that at one point your work is being halted for some time.
In this case due to several reasons I even did not work on the map for more than 3 months.
In mid December I slowly started to get into the project again and am hoping to be developing at full speed sometime soon.

Since the basic setup was more or less  done, I decided to place some tanks on the map and as I'm sure some of you have witnessed, have a first playtest.

The goal of this playtest was to find out where exactly I have to do improvements in the maps composition to make tank combat as interesting as possible. As you can see on the minimap the map in the current state was rather plain, so there is plenty of room to do terrain modifications, place statics and overgrowth to ensure that tank fighting works .

One thing I realized pretty fast was that the routes to the flags needed to be altered.
With building new roads using the road and apply spline tool I try to make sure that important sections of those roads are better positioned on the map and also ensure that both teams have suitable routes to the flags.

Another thing to improve routes to the flag area is providing more cover, which can be done by changing the terrain, but in the rather flat river area of the map is mostly done with placing objects and overgrowth. For now all object and overgrowth placement is still makeshift and only has the role to be there and give me a better image of how the map is going to play out later.

While being at changing terrain features to a higher detail level I also for the first time started to think about on how to implemet my ideas of how the map is supposed to look. For now this is kept to a rather low level and is limited to creating flat terrain right next to the river that will later have a swampy look and is covered with reed or similar plants that grwow under such conditions.

That's it for today. Thanks for your patience and I'm hoping to be able to post here more frequently again.

General Discussion / Re: A question regarding 2.45
« on: 13-03-2012, 20:03:38 »
I mean, the map is almost a perfect mirror.
The allies have advantages in weapons and *number* of tanks.
The only disadvantage I can see is that the church is closer to axis and is easy to defended, while the farm closer to allies is easily taken...

And this is the perfect example why it is hard to balance the map. Even though everything seems to be balanced, 148 German wins out of 183 Rounds speak for themself.
While there are many other aspects that can bring us to balance a map the win/loose ratio is a important factor.
But it is time consuming to do it. We have around 40 maps to look after. To balance a map you have to play it frequently to find out what are the issues that are causing the imbalance. The solution might be a easy one like changing ticket numbers, bleed speed, or number of flags needed to start the bleed. Unfortunatly many times it is much more complicated. While the easy fix already is a  time consuming task, the hard way can end in a frustrating issue.
We are trying to make broken maps better and with 2.45 you will most likely get more overworked maps than ever. Still we might note be able to fix all of them and even fixed maps have to be proven to work on a full server again.

Was trying to fill up the server but it crashed on mapchange. Same as hslan did earlier. An many people have problems connecting to their bf2 profile. Awards are down also. Seems to be a bad night to get some on FH2.

Hurtgen Forest / Re: Hurtgen Forest 64
« on: 22-07-2011, 02:07:51 »
Thank you for the praise. The number of tickets was carefully chosen, to give the US enough time to be able to win the map but not so much time to make the map a endless slaughter if the US team is not playing well enough. When playing with 128 players you have to remember that you still play a 64 player map. It has not been designed for so many players and of course the US team will loose more tickets and with that has less time to capture Germeter.
If the attack on Germeter is too hard for Allies I myself still have to find out on a 64 player server. Unfortunately since the release I had very limited time to play and see how this map is working out. If it really is too hard for the US team I will change something. But this is for 64 players. With 128 players you will have to live with playing maps that are not balanced for that number of players until the 128 player code is free to use for every server.

General / Re: Inaccurate historical town signs
« on: 18-07-2011, 13:07:51 »
Actually I have to admit that this thread was quite helpful. On the search to find that picture again I found out what the actual Regierungsbezirk of Germeter was. Didnt add that because I never knew what was the correct one.

General / Re: Inaccurate historical town signs
« on: 18-07-2011, 01:07:10 »
yellow townsigns with black letter using the DIN 1451 font:

invented 1920's
tested 1925
introduced 1926 in Prussia
other states followed soon

Picture taken from StVO 1937

Before judging something to be plain wrong you should do your research and resign trying to judge the difference between yellow and white from a black and white photograph.
But you got right that back then it was not called Hürtgenwald, this term did not exist at that time. Americans introduced the term "hurtgen forest" in WW2. Only after the war the Germans adopted it and combined several villages to the municipality Hürtgenwald.

Announcements / Re: Road to Forgotten Hope 2.4: Part 1
« on: 12-07-2011, 11:07:41 »
Don't consider those requirements to be final. We will keep track of the performance of the players and if there are awards that are too hard or too easy to get we can change the requirements any time. The awards system was running and tested for quite a while during betatesting now, but of course we can only see how it develops when it is used on public servers.

Announcements / Re: Road to Forgotten Hope 2.4: Part 1
« on: 12-07-2011, 02:07:41 »
I'm not so much a fan of awards either. But I would never deny, that the possibility of stepping up a rank or two, would motivate me to go to my limits.
It is not so much about your personal score, play for your team and you will be rewarded by stepping up the ladder real fast.

General Discussion / Re: Conspiracies Thread Mk II
« on: 12-07-2011, 02:07:38 »
It is not a very hardware demanding map. With my 3 year old system it is running very good on all high settings.

General Discussion / Re: RELAUNCH HSLAN!
« on: 06-06-2011, 09:06:22 »
Count me in.

General Discussion / Re: WWII TRIVIA QUESTION
« on: 17-05-2011, 23:05:34 »
Because of the conic tubes I think it rather is a "BC Telescope M1915 A1" instead of the M65.

Get the pics from ebay as long as they last.

General / Re: 128p technical feedback
« on: 13-03-2011, 14:03:39 »
Atm the server is utterly messed up. Players can walk around free, flags can be captured, but you can't shoot anybody.
You can fire your weapons but nothing happens on the receiving end. Even so you spend ammunition, after reload all your weapons have full ammo loadout.

General Discussion / Re: FH 128 hosting
« on: 12-03-2011, 18:03:43 »
When I had md5 thing I desinstalled bf2 and reinstalled, no more probs.
I reinstalled punkbuster and didn't have the problem after that for at least 30 mintes, but there wasn't really much time to test it before the server went ofline.

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