Countdown to War Planner: Overview

December 8, 2022 · Posted in Command 

It’s finally coming!

After nearly a year of frantic, tireless development, and an extensive public beta, we are excited to announce the imminent public release of the biggest update in Command’s history (yes, even exceeding the gargantuan changes of the CMANO-to-CMO transition): The War Planner update.

Known tongue-in-cheek to beta testers and early adopters as the “Tiny” release (as it has been anything but), the War Planner update brings dozens of super-major feature additions (including some features previously restricted to Professional Edition), hundreds of simulation improvements, and myriads of tweaks and bug fixes to rival even the launch of Command: Modern Operations in sheer scale. It has been named as such, because many of the changes and new features are oriented towards giving players an unprecedented power and flexibility in organizing and automating complex operations that previously required a lot of manual work and tedious coordination. Waging elaborate, theater-wide multi-domain operations has never been easier.

And the best part? It’s all completely free.

To get a taste of what’s to come, following is a highly-compressed summary of the major features of this colossal update. These will be elaborated in much greater detail in forthcoming articles.

In this series:

Operations Planner: Ever wished you had an ATO-like overview of all missions and operations planned or currently executing, their status and hierarchical priorities and dependencies? With units or even entire task forces automatically switching from one mission to the next as objectives are achieved? Wish no more. The brand-new Operations Planner makes this, and much more, a reality.

Multi-Domain Strike Planner: Throw away your planning spreadsheets! You asked/begged/hostaged family members for it, and now it’s here. Coordinate massive, complex strike missions with time-on-target, complex flight plans (incl. in-flight refueling) , multiple attack patterns and multi-domain strike combinations. “Bringing everything together on a strike is just too complex/difficult” is officially over as an excuse. If you don’t master this, your adversary most definitely will.

Cargo 2.0: The sub-header for this feature is often “The Logistician’s Nirvana” – and that should be your first hint. Transfer both combat units and also weapons, stores, fuel and any arbitrary material. Place your cargo on a multitude of different container types, from standard ISO-blocks to specialized boxes, each with its own peculiarities. Transload cargo at airbases, ports, railyards etc. in order to haul it over even transcontinental distances. Automate all this through cargo and (NEW!) transfer missions. Set up complex logistical chains from mainland factories all the way to the front line. Conquerors from Napoleon to Alexander would have given their right arm for such a tool – and you get it for free. Who ever said life is fair?

Area & Reference Point Manager: Areas, zones, ref-points and overlapping fields oh my! A centralized way to manage anything and everything related to reference points.

Custom Environment Zones: Multiple & moving weather fronts? Check. Bend the laws of physics on a localized area? Can do. Specify carefully hand-picked weather, terrain and other environmental properties in order to test or compare sensors and other environment-dependent components? Yup. Unleash your inner nature wizard with this puppy.

Air combat mechanics overhaul: Boost-coast AAW missiles (ie. the vast majority of them) now correctly accelerate to their maximum speed by their boosters and subsequently coast over the rest of their flight, trading altitude for speed (and vice versa) while also shedding speed due to drag – especially on sharp maneuvers. This makes them much easier to avoid at the edge of their envelope, where their energy reserves are depleted. Missiles with specialized long-burn motors have a decisive terminal-energy advantage over plain boost-coast systems. Virtual pilots are aware of these new dynamics and will exploit them to “drag out” incoming missiles, with beaming/notching as a last resort. To counter these counters, new additional WRA firing-range settings (including “No-Escape Zone”) are available. A2A and S2A missile engagements are, as a result, both more dynamic and far more realistic now.

“Double-flame” time acceleration: “I wish my simulation runs had executed more slowly, I had time to spare” – said no-one on their deathbed. Aside from an array of general sim-speed improvements, this update brings a brand-new exclusive (and optional) time accel mode: “Double Flame”. This cranks up the virtual timeslice to 5 seconds, massively speeding up simulation execution. “Hold on”, we hear you say, “bad things start to happen when you get so coarse in your timeslice”. You bet they do. So how did we solve it? Find out in one of our follow-ups.

HGVs and D-EMPs now available: Yes Dorothy, the previously available only in CPE hypersonic glide vehicles and directional-EMP weapon types are now available in the commercial version too. Yes, they can be pretty useful if used correctly – especially in coordination with other, more abundant assets. No, they won’t save you from certain doom if the rest of your ops suck. Treat them as magic saviors at your peril.

Palletized Weapons & Stores: Yes, we know you’ve all seen AFRL’s videos on the Rapid Dragon concept. Yes, we know you drooled over the new possibilities. Newsflash: So did we. So now you can do that too. Is it awesome? You bet it is.

Passive Coherent Location System (PCLS) sensor, aka “Passive Radar”: How do you detect and track stealth aircraft? One of the possible ways is to break out of the classic monostatic radar paradigm and embrace alternative solutions like PCLS. Are they omniscient? No. Do they have operational drawbacks, some of them quite severe? Yes. In the right conditions, can they detect stealthy aircraft that conventional radars are hopeless against? Yes, yes and yes. Find out how.

Intermittent Emissions: Radars and other active emitters no longer have to strictly choose between active and silent: You can now blink, and schedule how to. No scripting necessary! (But scripting still a very powerful option). Find out how, in our follow-up article.

Revised Mission Editor: “It’s insanely better than before!” is the least positive comment we’ve heard about the revised ME layout. Now you too can experience what every beta player considers the finest visual experience since “Love Actually: The Directors Cut”.

Revised Message Log: You asked (intensely and consistently…) for a fully filterable message log, dynamically enabling/disabling messages per type, while also retaining the “responsive nature” (show location, optionally show balloon etc.) of the messages. Oh and also keeping all the existing goodies (docked or free-floating, “raw”/waterfall mode, per-type coloring, balloons etc.). Our first reaction was “So, you essentially want Visual Studio’s errors & warnings list?” Our second reaction was “Maybe this is feasible after all”. Our third reaction was to go ahead and build it. And there was much rejoicing throughout the land.

Distinct Ground Units: As much as we keep telling you Command is not SPMBT or Combat Mission, you keep asking for distinct ground vehicles. So there you go.  Command now offers individual ground units, in addition to the previous method of modeling them as aimpoint-facilities. You’ll find ground units modeled with the same level of detail users expect of ships and aircraft: propulsion, fuel, mounts, sensors, etc. are all simulated, as are characteristics like armor (incl. ERA, slat armor, etc.). Ground units bring brand-new capabilities to the fight, such as amphibious vehicles capable of transitioning between land and water (with distinct speeds and fuel consumption in each domain).

Save/Load Doctrine & ROE Settings: Sorry, Cimmerian; crushing your enemies and seeing them driven before you is only the _second_ best thing in life. The first-best, is to carefully construct your Doctrine & Rules of Engagement settings for a specific side, mission, group or individual unit, and then export them to a text file where they can be freely re-imported for any other simulation object as well as edited, either by hand or in an automated fashion. With power such as this in one’s hands, no prayers to Crom are necessary.

Overhauled Reaction Times: The differences in reaction times, and their effects, are now more critical than ever. All units use common-reference “Combat System Generation” (“Cockpit Generation” for aircraft) to model the modernity of their combat systems, combined with an “Ergonomics” value to handle intra-generation differences (the atrocious switchology on early missile-age aircraft will most definitely get you killed now). Older, WW2-era ships may take up to 5 minutes to engage a target, while Aegis cruisers fire in <20 seconds. Cold War fighters will be beaten to the draw by modern, fifth-generation fighters. Overmatch, that ever-elusive dream, is now possible – but beware, it goes both ways.

IR & Visual Sensor Improvements: IRSTs and high-mag cameras are no longer near-magical counter-VLO sensors. They may still be your best bet for detection, but you won’t be volume-scanning for stealth fighters at >100nm anymore. (You can still spot/track them pretty far enough IF something/someone else first cues you there)

Radar & IR Stealth Improvements: Sensor improvements come coupled with a massive overhaul of signature modifiers in the DB, which significantly improve the realism of our stealth model by drawing clearer distinctions between shaping and RAM generations. We also added special DB “flags” to indicate the presence (or lack) of certain stealthy design features such as S-shaped intakes, exposed fan blockers, active cancellation, and stealth pylons. The overhaul also extended to IR modifiers, which now not only model whole-aircraft IRSS (distributed vs. conventional fuel tanks, low-E coatings) but also specific IRSS features such as shielded “anti-Strela” exhausts, masked exhausts, heavily masked / slit-shaped exhausts, and peak temperature reduction or “cool-air mixing”.

Formation Presets: Tailor your formation’s layout with a number of different presets (wedge, circle, echelon, line, diamond etc.) or make and store your own custom template. Customize facing and distancing to suit your preferences. Transitioning from parade to full-attack and back (perhaps in the middle of your parade?) has never been easier.

Bathymetry Layer: Visualize the terrain contours of the naval domain as clearly and as richly as you already do for the overland globe surface. A must for every facet of underwater ops, from sub/ASW hunts to mine warfare to UUV control to tracking whale migrations. Jacques Cousteau would have rightly wept.

Graphical Satellite Pass Display: The “Satellite Pass Prediction” window now offers a graphical representation of future satellite passes, sparing users the need to compare timeblocks to figure out which satellites will be overhead when. Who needs data grids when you can visually compare availability windows…. right?

Benchmark Mode: Looking to compare rigs? Command now includes a benchmark mode, which will repeatedly run any scenario you choose in “headless” mode and output performance metrics. Now your machine’s sorry state will be plain for all the world to see.

Miscellaneous UI Improvements (Weapon Quick-Allocate, Slug Trails, “Barks,” etc.): Quickly allocate weapons manually, without needing to bring up the (intimidating to some, apparently…) manual allocation window. Have units or contacts bark to each other (yes, you read that right). Make unit & contact movement paths & histories more obvious (and easier to visualize in a screenshot) by enabling “slug trails”. Plus a few more tricks we’ll see in detail on the UI-dedicated UI follow-up.

Weather effects on ship seakeeping: Sea state limits are no longer treated as hard lines. Smaller ships are now affected by progressively higher sea states, which will slow their max speed but not necessarily immobilize them. Moving from the QE to a small sloop now most definitely feels like it.

Aircraft Max Endurance: If you’ve ever used the “keep aircraft in the air indefinitely through repeated air-refuelings” cheat, first: SHAME ON YOU! Second: You won’t be able to do it anymore.  Aircraft are now limited in persistence both by their onboard consumables and also crew fatigue. And you wonder why everyone loves drones.

As you can see, there is a lot here to unpack in greater detail – and we intend to just exactly that, in a series of follow-up posts dedicated to each of the major areas of improvement.

So stick around!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.