Darkest Hour - Dev Diary #8 - Improved Interface Part 1

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Feb 24, 2009
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How to wage a successful war? Well, the answer to this question is not easy, as so many different factors can influence the outcome of a conflict. However, surely having a better control over the units under your command won't do you any harm. This week, we're going to talk a bit about how we improved the interface.

First of all, all units (land, air naval) can now be identified by their colour and their icon. We've expanded the colour scheme and we added icons next to the unit name for a better identification at first glance. Here's an example of the colour scheme for land units:
- a land unit composed exclusively by mobile divisions has a green colour;
- a land unit composed by a mix of mobile divisions and other divisions (like infantry) has a light green colour;
- a land unit composed exclusively by special divisions (mountain, marines, paratroopers) has a blue colour;
- a land unit composed by a mix of special divisions and other divisions (like infantry) has a light blue colour;
- a land unit with at least one garrison division has a light pink colour;
- an air squadron composed exclusively by interceptors has a light green colour;
- an air squadron composed exclusively by tactical bombers has a pink colour;
- an air squadron composed by a mix of interceptors and tactical bombers has a light pink colour;
- a fleet with at least one air carrier has a blue colour;
- a fleet composed exclusively of naval transports has a red colour;
... and so on and so forth. There are just examples, the complete colour scheme is more complex. Initially you may think that it is a bit too complex, but you'll soon grew accustomed to it. And if you don't like the colours or the dispositions we chose, you can always mod your own! Remember, this is meant to help you have a better control over your armies! :)

Another, perhaps bigger, improvement in the interface is a small icon next to the name of the unit. As you can see from the picture below, for land units we've added specific icons for the unit type. Moreover, every unit with an HQ has a specific HQ icon and every unit with at least one engineer brigade has a very small icon. For example, "West Coast Reserve" is a unit composed exclusively by mobile divisions (icon + green colour), one of its division is an HQ (icon) and one of its division has an engineering brigade (very small icon above the icon for mobile units).

Naval fleets are identified by their most important ships: air carries, others capital ships (please notice the difference between BB and CA!), screens, submarines or transport. Moreover, a fleet with at least one naval transport always has a small icon on top to represent it. The icons for air units are simple and easy to understand, the icons are intuitive. Moreover, if a bomber unit is mixed with an interceptor/fighter/escort unit, there will be two icons, to show that the bombers are escorted (the top icon is set in this order: 1) at least one FTR -> FTR icon; 2) at least one INT -> INT icon; 3) at least one escort brigade ->Escort icon). In the screenshot above there are three units with an escort brigade attached.

Another useful tool to have a better control over your own units are tooltips. We've improved the tooltips shown over the unit and the new icons (explained above), in order to quickly obtain the information you need. Tooltips will show useful information, like the name of the leader, organization and morale of the unit and model, organization and morale of the divisions that compose the unit (similar information are displayed for air and naval units too). Moreover, for naval units the capital ships / screens ratio is displayed, together with the number of carried divisions and the total transport capacity. For transport planes, the number of carried divisions and the total transport capacity are displayed. For land units, the tooltip of the HQ icon and the tiny engineering icon will display useful information, as you can see below:

One more improvement in the interface will let you see with a quick glance which units belong to your country and which are foreign units under your control, thanks to a small icon with a flag. There is also a tiny difference between military control and expeditionary forces: Mongolian units are under military control and the Mongolian flag has a black border whereas the unit from Tannu Tuva is an expeditionary unit and the Tuvan flag has a gray border:

If there is not a country specific icon (like "icon_unit_MON.bmp") then a generic icon is displayed ("MC" for military control and "EF" for expeditionary forces).

A final word about nation specific model names and pictures on foreign units. In HOI2 Armageddon there is a well known bug: when a player has military control (or have expeditionary forces) from another country, those units use the model name and the picture as the same model for the player's country. We've corrected this bug: the model name and the picture will now be those of their original country! :)

To close this Development Diary, here is part of the code involved:
Added unique colors on units list for more unit types:
I. Land:
1. plate_unit_land_gar.bmp - the unit has at least one GAR division
2.1 plate_unit_land_mobile_hard.bmp - the unit contains only ARM, LArm, MECH (+HQ) divisions
2.2 plate_unit_land_mobile_soft.bmp - the unit contains only MOT, CAV (+HQ) divisions
2.3 plate_unit_land_mobile_mixed.bmp - the unit contains only mobile divisions
3. plate_unit_land_mixed.bmp - the unit contains mix of mobile and foot divisions
4.1. plate_unit_land_mtn.bmp - the unit contains only MTN divisions (+HQs)
4.2. plate_unit_land_mar.bmp - the unit contains only MAR divisions (+HQs)
4.3. plate_unit_land_para.bmp - the unit contains only PARA divisions (+HQs)
4.4. plate_unit_land_commando.bmp - the unit contains only commando divisions (+HQs)
5. plate_unit_land_commando_mixed.bmp - the unit contains commando divisions mixed with other foot divisions (INF, MIL) (+HQ)
6. plate_unit_land_foot.bmp - the unit contains only regular foot units (MIL, INF) (+HQ)

II. Air:
1. plate_unit_air_ftr.bmp - the wing contains only FTRs
2. plate_unit_air_int.bmp - the wing contains only INTs and FTRs
3. plate_unit_air_tac.bmp - the wing contains only TAC bombers
4. plate_unit_air_nav.bmp - the wing contains only NAV bombers
5. plate_unit_air_str.bmp - the wing contains only STR bombers
6. plate_unit_air_cas.bmp - the wing contains only CAS bombers
7. plate_unit_air_tra.bmp - the wing contains only TRA planes
8. plate_unit_air_rocket.bmp - the wing contains only rockets and fl. bombs
9. plate_unit_air_mixed.bmp - all mixes

III. Naval:
1.1.plate_unit_sea_ctf.bmp - fleet contains at least on CV
1.2. plate_unit_sea_ctf_tp.bmp - the fleet has at least one CV and at least one TP
2.1. plate_unit_sea_sag.bmp - fleet contains at least on BB, BC, CA or CVL
2.2.plate_unit_sea_sag_tp.bmp - the fleet has at least one, capital and at least one TP
3. plate_unit_sea_tra.bmp - fleet contains only TPs
4. plate_unit_sea_sub.bmp - fleet contains only submarines
5. plate_unit_sea_screen.bmp - fleet contains only screens
6. plate_unit_sea_mixed.bmp - for mixed screens/TP/submarines
Added unique icons on unit plates:
I. Land:
1.1. icon_unit_HQ_active.bmp – only HQ in the unit
1.2. icon_unit_HQ_inactive.bmp – only HQ in the unit (no or low rank leader)
2.1. icon_unit_land_tank.bmp – only ARM, LArm (and HQs)
2.2. icon_unit_land_combined_fast.bmp – only ARM, LArm, Mech, Mot, Cav (and HQs)
2.3. icon_unit_land_combined.bmp - ARM, LArm, Mech (and HQs) mixed with other divisions types
3. icon_unit_land_par.bmp – at least one PARA
4. icon_unit_land_mar.bmp – at least one MAR
5. icon_unit_land_mtn.bmp – at least one MTN
6. icon_unit_land_mot.bmp – at least one MOT
7. icon_unit_land_cav.bmp – at least one CAV
8. icon_unit_land_inf.bmp – at least one INF
9. icon_unit_land_gar.bmp – at least one GAR
10. icon_unit_land_mil.bmp – at least one MIL
(11. icon_unit_none.bmp – no divisions (yet))

II. Air:
1. icon_unit_air_ftr.bmp – FTR only
2. icon_unit_air_int.bmp – INT or FTR + INT only
3. icon_unit_air_tac.bmp – TAC only
4. icon_unit_air_nav.bmp – NAV only
5. icon_unit_air_str.bmp – STR only
6. icon_unit_air_cas.bmp – CAS only
7. 1. icon_unit_air_tra_l.bmp – TRA only, at least one loaded with land units
7. 2. icon_unit_air_tra_e.bmp – TRA only, all empty
8.1. icon_unit_air_flying_rocket.bmp – at least one Flying rocket
8.2. icon_unit_air_flying_bomb.bmp – Flying bombs or Flying bombs +Flying rocket
For mixed bombers with other aircraft type the is choosing in this order: STR, NAV, TAC, CAS, FTR, INT

III. Naval:
1. icon_unit_sea_cv.bmp – fleet has at least one CV
2.1. icon_unit_sea_bb.bmp – fleet has at least one BB
2.2. icon_unit_sea_bc.bmp – fleet has at least one BC
2.3. icon_unit_sea_ca.bmp – fleet has at least one CA
2.4. icon_unit_sea_cvl.bmp – fleet has at least one CVL
3.1. icon_unit_sea_tra_l.bmp – TPs only, at least one is loaded with troops
3.2. icon_unit_sea_tra_e.bmp – TPs only, all empty
4. icon_unit_sea_sub.bmp – SS/SSN only
5.1. icon_unit_sea_screen.bmp – at least one DD/CL in fleets with screens or screens + TP + SS/SSN
(5.2. icon_unit_sea_sub.bmp – SS/SSN + TPs)

IV. Special:
1. icon_unit_none.bmp – transparent icon used on empty units
1) Added HQ icon to units in units list (icon_unit_HQ_active.bmp and icon_unit_HQ_inactive.bmp)
2) Added engineer icon on unit plates when at least one division of the unit has an engineer brigade (icon_unit_engineer.bmp and icon_unit_no_engineer.bmp)
3) Added extra Transport plane icon on unit plate for mixed air fleets that have Transport planes (icon_unit_air_tra_e.bmp and icon_unit_air_tra_l.bmp)
4) Added extra Transport icon on unit plate for fleets that have TPs (icon_unit_sea_tra_l.bmp and icon_unit_sea_tra_e.bmp)
5) Added extra Escort icon for air wings having at least one ESC brigade attached (icon_unit_air_escort.bmp)
6) Added extra INT/FTR icon for air wings of mixed bombers and INT/FTR (icon_unit_air_int.bmp and icon_unit_air_ftr.bmp)
7) Added extra FTR icon for mixed INT/FTR only air wings (icon_unit_air_ftr.bmp)
8) 'EF' and 'MC' text on foreign units): 
* Changed to icons (icon_unit_EF.bmp, icon_unit_MC.bmp, icon_unit_own.bmp)
* Allowed country flags to be used instead icons (gfx\map\flags\icon_TAG.bmp)
* When Flags are used two more icons are available (as a second layer) to allow easy recognition between EF/MC forces (icon_unit_EF_shade.bmp, icon_unit_MC_shade.bmp)
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I'm wondering if it possible for nations to have specific advantages in models. For example, the T-34 was clearly better than other tanks in its class and time period. Or are we to just give the Russians a huge armored tech lead that somehow magically disappears as the Panther appears? (The section on expeditionary units reminded me of this).
Ok, gentlemen, time for a little game.

Please take another look at one of the screenshots posted in the DD:

Now, please take a closer look at the air units section and their new ICONS. As you can see, there are 10 different air squadrons, each composed by a single wing.
For each of these squadrons ("First Air Force", "Second Air Force", "Third Air Force" and so on) you have to tell me which type of air units it is composed by (interceptor, fighter, tactical bombers, transport plane, escort wing, etc.). So for example your answer should be something like:
- First Air Force: fighter + escort wing
- Second Air Force: CAS
- Third Air Force: Naval Bomber + interceptor

There is no prize for the winner, only the glory! :D
Have fun! :)
First Air Force - INT
Second Air Force - MR
Third Air Force - TAC
Fourth Air Force - TRP
Fifth Air Force - NAV
Sixth Air Force - STR
Seventh Air Force - CAS
Eighth Air Force - TAC + escort
Ninth Air Force - NAV + escort
Tenth Air Force - STR + escort