Recipe For Gettysburgers: 22 Minutes Of Ultimate General

By Graham Smith on April 7th, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

When I saw the 22 minute length of the new Ultimate General: Gettysburg beta footage I thought, ‘No way am I watching all of this. I’ll skim it.’ 22 minutes and 45 seconds later and I’ve watched the whole thing. It is full of tiny men fighting and on-screen annotations (Like a recipe? –Headline Justification Ed) explaining the tactics and AI manouvers underpinning the game’s accessible, historical real-time strategy. Come see what hooked me below the fold.

Ultimate General is being made by Nick Thomadis, who was previously responsible for the highly popular DarthMod series for various Total War games. This is first standalone project, and I could enthuse all day about how it looks. Those little fluffy trees.

I’m equally excited for its AI though, which is designed to have personality rather than merely be mathematically optimal. The video shows a ‘determined’ opponent at work, and you can see the ways in which that shapes the direction of the battles.

Not content with the video and crave more rifle volleys of information? Hit up The Flare Path’s interview with its creator.

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55 Comments »

  1. Dux Ducis Hodiernus says:

    Looks really interesting. I hope they’ll make the spirits for the units a bit better though.

    • Fumarole says:

      Commanders typically frown upon soldiers being inebriated during battle.

    • RutigerP says:

      They finally made my Undead American Civil War game!

  2. Kakrafoon says:

    This looks absolutely delightful – in fact, I would like the next Total War to adopt this very abstract style. The only element I think wasn’t solved very elegantly is troops moving through built-up areas – houses are basically just flat carpets on the ground.
    The background noise of the battle is great, too. It just needs a few more diverse bugle calls, the samples repeat themselves too quickly.

  3. Volcanu says:

    Quite why CA didnt hire this guy I dont know….

    • DatonKallandor says:

      Because by all reports he’s a dick with a huge ego and extremely hard to work with. That’s why they didn’t hire him.
      He managed to make his own game though, good for him. We’ll see if he actually succeeds at making the game he always claimed he could make.

      • Volcanu says:

        Well that would explain it (if it’s true). Not saying it is or isn’t.

        Mind you, sometimes at work you have to tolerate a dick if they happen to be very good at what they do. One thing’s for true he certainly did a good job improving the lacklustre AI of the TW games.

        • DatonKallandor says:

          He really didn’t though. What his “new” AI for TW games amounts to is one thing: Removing the “can I take them?” calculation. He simply removed the AI self-preservation – so it seems “better” in that it is always attacking on all sides all the time. More Stuff happens faster, so it seems like it’s “better”.

          • Lemming says:

            I doubt what you’re saying simply because the guy has managed to make his own game. I’d say that suggests a little more ability than what you’re claiming. Seems like you have an axe to grind.

          • DatonKallandor says:

            He’s got access to the engine in his own game. Now he can actually make his own AI. But considering all you’ve got access to – AI wise – when modding a TW is the weighting of decision making, that’s all he did back then.

            As I said, his own game means he can finally put his money where his mouth is. If it turns out be an actually good RTS? Great. It certainly looks like he nailed the old Sid Meiers Gettysburg feel.

          • Mr.Crack says:

            All I know is, years ago he incorporated a mod of mine for Rome I (tighter and seamless group formations) into DarthMod without ever asking or acknowledging me.

          • Coinfish says:

            So Lemming, perhaps you can explain what his TW AI improved? Volcanu was pretty accurate as I tried the AI. Maybe we missed some minute change of behaviour? There’s also the fact he taken mods of others, incorporate into his own and never give due credit. Dick or no dick, he’s a mod thief and his modded TW AI is what as described. All said, his new game AI might be ideally challenging.

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          Okami says:

          Mind you, sometimes at work you have to tolerate a dick if they happen to be very good at what they do.

          No, you really don’t. Better keep on looking for someone else to fill that position than hire a someone who doesn’t fit into the team. Chances are that guy or girl you interviewed who seemed to be so very good wasn’t that good in the first place. Also, you wouldn’t believe how many people are excellent at their job and are really nice people as well. Actually, most great game developers I work with or worked with were also good team players.

          That myth about the genius developer who’s also a bit of an asshole seems to be something that’s propagated by young and inexperienced deveopers and the assholes themselves. Once you’ve worked in the industry for some time, you realize that assholes are just that: assholes and your team and your project are much better off without them.

          Source: I was something of a dick to my coworkers when I was still a young and inexperienced developer. And honestly, I wasn’t even half as good as I’d liked to believe.

          • Universal Quitter says:

            Yeah, that “myth” is something you encounter in almost every job that would be considered long-term enough to be called a career.

            It was around before the computer, and it will probably be around long after we’re all dead.

      • Banjo-Tuesday says:

        My experience of Darthmod/s were that he had worked wonders within the limits he had, given a lot of AI was hardcoded. I also found him quick to credit others for their contributions to his mod. And even people who gave the smallest amounts of feedback I saw often responded to personally and graciously. Apart from the time he spent of his mod, I saw him give a lot of his time freely to others with configuration of their games and mods. I’ve also never seen him respond to criticism or trolling with ad hominem attacks. All of this says a lot for someone, at least in my books.

        Anyway I just felt it my duty to offer a counter point to some of these seemingly spiteful posts.

      • Triglav says:

        A very rude comment and quite untrue.
        On the few occasions I’ve had the chance to work and communicate with him he was very polite, argumented and appreciative of any input offered, even if it was negative or critical towards his work. I respect his dedication to TW mods, as well as his own game.

    • Sheogorath says:

      The fact that he threw a temper tantrum and quit modding forever because CA didn’t invite him to a mod developer’s conference is a good indication.

      Considering his contributions to Darthmod were all very simple, while the meat of the mod came from contributions by other modders, I think it’s fairly obvious why. But his ego demanded that he be given pride of place in the TW modding community.

      Sadly, people still whine and cry that there isn’t a Darthmod for Rome 2, despite the fact that there are very good projects out with quantifiable more content than Darthmod’s incarnations in previous games.

      • Volcanu says:

        That’s a very measured and sensible response from someone purporting to be the Prince of Madness. Pfff.

        I have to say I never paid enough attention as to who did what on the various Darthmods, I was somehow under the impression that this guy did the whole thing himself. Which is certainly the impression you get from this (and other articles) about UG – which I guess chimes with the colossal ego accusation. And they really did improve on vanilla TW in most ways, so it’s a shame that CA didnt seem to take any of that stuff on board and even went as far as to make their games ever more unfriendly to mods (especially the ability to mod the campaign map).

        Anyway, if he did steal other people’s mods, as Mr Crack says above, then that’s pretty despicable behaviour.

        • Sheogorath says:

          Yeah, that’s part of the reason a lot of other modders don’t like him. His actual contribution to Darthmod is basically:
          1. His name.
          2. Some fairly minor fiddling with the PFM
          3. Assembling the other mods in the pack into a working whole.

          Of course, the third one may not be entirely his own effort, since he has a horde of loyal fans. His practice of ‘giving credit’ is quite loose and vague, which can give the impression that he and he alone is responsible for the whole thing unless you find the ‘credits’ section in a given thread/forum.

          IIRC he claimed that the inclusion of people’s mods without credit or notice to the authors was ‘accidental’ and that he ‘didn’t want to put them in anyway,’ (paraphrasing.) Although my memory on the subject is a bit fuzzy.

      • TC-27 says:

        I cant understand how he could get away with stealing other peoples work in such an open and active modding community such as TW – surely he would no get hosted forum at TW center etc if he was acting so badly (maybe I am massively naive).

        • Sheogorath says:

          A LOT of the mods that make up Darthmod are contributed willingly by mod authors who are friends with him (although I’m not sure what their relationship is like,) or are submitted by people who want their mod to have the label ‘included in Darthmod!’

  4. phelix says:

    Amazing! The only thing I feel this needs is Company of Heroes (1)-style terrain scarring, with scorch marks, burned trees, Swiss Cheese buildings & whatnot.

  5. Danbanan says:

    This is my most wanted game this year.

  6. Swanny says:

    As someone who does not generally enjoy RTS or civil war sims, I couldn’t help but watch the whole video. Fascinating.

  7. Tasloi says:

    Great art style and sound effects. Really looking forward to this.

  8. Kakrafoon says:

    Let’s hope this is a success, because I want iterations of this with Prussians, Austrians, the whole 18th-century-European lineup. Also, Wellington vs. Bonaparte.

  9. Razgovory says:

    I love the stylized graphics, and the gameplay looks a lot like Sid Meier’s Gettysburg (which is a good thing!).

    • Stazmo says:

      A very good thing. That and Antietam were both great games. I always hoped they would make more. And the camera views aren’t as limiting as Take Command was.

    • XhomeB says:

      Speaking of SMG, why on Earth has it been almost forgotten? Back in the day, it was a one-of-its-kind type of game, bold and well-made. No idea why the conversation always revolves around “Civ Civ Civ Pirates Civ Civ” when people mention Sid.

      • GenBanks says:

        Yeah, SMG pretty much the reason why I’m into PC games hehe. I don’t understand why it isn’t on GOG or Steam. This definitely reminds me SMG, in a good way…

      • RutigerP says:

        Simgolf!

      • Pendragon says:

        Wasn’t SMG more a Brian Reynolds game ?

  10. SuicideKing says:

    Will RPS do anything with Halo: Spartan Assault? It’s on Steam now, for $5.

    • hamilcarp says:

      Is the comments section for a video of a Civil War strategy game is the best place to shill the newest Halo game? No. Go away.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I wanted to address Graham, and didn’t want to open twitter. :/

  11. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    I have to admit, I was seriously skeptical that anything good would come of this project, but this footage looks extremely promising — especially the resilience of the AI and what looks like a very good fog of war system.

    This is one of those cases where I’d be very happy to have my skepticism proven wrong!

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    Gap Gen says:

    I miss the RPS Scourge of War group with its insistence on quoting Gettysburg if at all practicable.

    • Shiloh says:

      All hail Norb Timpko!

    • TC-27 says:

      There will be the devil to pay when we get back together.

      Which I am sure we will what with this and Norbaloo coming out.

    • Premium User Badge

      Stellar Duck says:

      I’ve always wanted to play Scourge of War but I just can’t get myself to fork over what Matrix want. :(

  13. Lemming says:

    It’s far too heady for me, but it looks cool and I wish the guy well.

  14. Premium User Badge

    Cinek says:

    I really, really like the arts style of this game.

  15. Premium User Badge

    JiminyJickers says:

    I’m definitely excited for this one. Can’t imagine not buying it as soon as available. Seems a bit easier to control than Scourge of War. Mind you, I may no go play a bit of Scourge of War.

  16. JohnnyPanzer says:

    Wow! When I first saw a screen of the game some months ago, I simply assumed that it was concept art, so when I saw the video my mind was blown. The painting moves! WITCHCRAFT!

    This game is very high up on my wishlist, and the design is just…fucking…stellar!

  17. Eliijahh says:

    I really hope they will change the melee regiments animation.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    What IS that horrible projection used, that makes buildings lean violently in toward the centre of the view?

  19. Sheogorath says:

    In b4 Ultra Hyper Megaplatinum Super Edition 5000.

    Darth’s ego will demand no less than 5 prefixes to his project’s title.

  20. thebigJ_A says:

    I wish they’d do something about the terrain. Units walk over and through rivers and houses like they weren’t even there. What’s the point of that bridge? Elevation seems to effect fog of war, which is nice, but the units sliding around like on a flat ice rink and thru each other bothers me.

    • jonahcutter says:

      I agree in that the seemingly inconsequential nature of bridges, buildings and other terrain features is a little too abstract. I’d add in unit size and lack of visual feedback. I’d like to see more terrain and unit deformation from damage received. There seems to be a lot of shooting going on, but at least visually it is hard to tell if it is having any effect or it’s simply bells and whistles.

      It is so very pretty though, and the audio is excellent. And that AI, if indeed not scripted, promises to be an incredible achievement. But if its pretty houses, rivers and bridges are naught more than empty graphics, it could be ultimately disappointing.

      Some great with some not so great.

      • TC-27 says:

        I think in a game where the smallest unit appears to be a brigade you need to abstract bridges and towns otherwise end up in a horrible muddle of pathfinding and formations.

      • Premium User Badge

        Cinek says:

        This game isn’t up to scale. You’d never see any “terrain deformation” from such an altitude.

      • P.Funk says:

        1 unit doesn’t represent 1 person. This means that when they walk over a river they’re probably being slowed down as a whole brigade but owing to the nature of the engine and the design we won’t see them wading through water when a person’s waist is the width of a river as big as or bigger than a house.

        • jonahcutter says:

          @ TC-27, Cinek and P.Funk

          Yeah I think all three of you guys are right. It seems a matter of scale. Units as shown are out of scale to their surroundings, which always sits a little funny with me. For others it’s likely not an issue.

          It appears similar to a much prettier Total War-ish game. But it’s more focused on modelling the battlefield tactics and perhaps wider strategies. It’s not going to show the grit and down-in-the-mud detail. Things are more abstracted. The units could literally be shown as purely colored rectangles to really push the history book look, probably.

          Something about them feels like they move too quickly then, considering that level of abstraction. But perhaps the gameplay speed is adjustable and sped up for the vid.

          I’m still very interested in this, here’s hoping the abstracted take on things clicks with me when I get a chance to get my hands on it.

    • Stazmo says:

      One of the things about Take Command that i didn’t like was the units in line stayed in line, which created some weird unnatural angular positions. This seems to make charges and firing in line at least look better, although i don’t know if the Iron Brigade’s double charge at 13:00 is because of a game imbalance or if the Iron Brigade are just badasses.

  21. aperson4321 says:

    This looks great! :)