Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Imperator III - Dev Diary Pt II

The Roman Auxilia

Been pretty much busy these few month to write but work has been going whenever I have free time (usually on the weekend nights). An Open Beta has been released on Steam Workshop few weeks ago, which currently enabled all factions to be playable so that testings can be done much easier.

Currently the public mod is on beta 0.74 version with few added (and still ongoing) auxilia units added, mainly using the vanilla auxilia as a base.

Historically, as far as I'm aware the auxilia units was not made into permanent regiment until the principate era so the auxilia system as portrayed in the vanilla game was not correct. They were more like mercenaries which were raised during campaigns and disbanded afterwards. The difference is that the auxilia (or Italian socii) were raised from treaties, rather that true mercenary concept.

In this mod, though still in WIP, each auxilia will be divided base on their original province and they will be rename base on their tribes or provincial names.

The first stage for is basically the vanilla auxilia as before the principate era, the auxilias were mostly under their own tribal command and are using their own native equipment. They can recruited from level 2 auxilia barrack level and restricted between 2 to 4 units.

Further into the campaign, to represent the principate/imperial age, the auxilia are more standardize with many of them using roman equipment and be lead by roman officers. You can see the name changes from Auxilia Illyricorum for example to Cohors Illyricorum or Equitum Alpinorum to Ala Alpinorum. 

The auxilia units that you have recruited before this 'tech' is researched (I use tech rather than complicated scripting) will have some special name attached to them.

For example, Auxilia Batavorum will become Cohors Batavorum c.R. (or Civium Romanum) or Equites Thracum becoming Ala Thracum Veterana. The auxilia with these epitaph can't be recruited post 'reform' though they can still be retrained. However, if you have lost these units during battles then they are lost forever.

At this moment, these new units can easily be tested from the custom battles set up for all 4 main Roman factions. In the future when the mod is out of beta, each roman factions will have their specific auxilia units so a player playing as Cassius will have variations from people playing Brutus, Antonius or Caesar.

Imperator III Thread At TWC

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Imperator III - Dev Diary Pt I

While developing Rome II Total Realism I am also in my free time try to develop my own personal mod which is actually developed when we were discussing which era should we mod for the game. For me personally, unlike the original Rome Total War, I find that I can very much play the vanilla Total War Rome II fine without needing any mods and in fact I have completed 4 or 5 campaigns (still playing my vanilla Iceni campaign from time to time) any my take about modding this time is rather that what needs to be changed I find the newer games now is more about what else can I change.

Imperator III is actually part of my old series of mod for Rome Total War back when I have a lot of free times (read 6 or 7 years ago). The first, Imperator I is base of another mod, the original Rome Total Realism Gold developed base on RTW 1.2 (before Barbarian Invasion was released. When the game itself was patched together with the release of the expansion pack, I have created Imperator II which is quite popular once especially with the RTR crowd back in the days. Both mods only features a single playable Roman faction and the main sellout point was that each legions have their specific names, according to the historical Roman legions name.

Main Screen
Originally I planned (and announced) that Imperator III will be base on the Year of the Four Emperors campaign but then decided that the name itself fits for Imperator IV (which I will announce soon) and since the second triumvirate period is about the three triumvirates of Rome then I guess that fits the theme perfectly. This was all before Creative Assembly themselves announced and release the Imperator Augustus campaign (I'm pretty sure they originally intended to sell that as DLC but maybe decided not to because of the general acceptance of the game was not pretty good initially). 

Faction Selection Screen
Like the original Imperator mods, this mod will also make Roman factions playable. While the screen shows four options for the various Roman factions, the release version will only feature two options. There are the Triumvirates, featuring Octavian and Marc Antony factions and the Liberators, featuring Brutus and Cassius factions. Yes, there are only four playable factions on offer though there are a lot more non-playable Roman factions like the Senate, Lepidus, Sextus Pompey and some other Roman provinces. Unlike vanilla Imperator Augustus campaign which start after the Treaty of Brundisium, this mod will start when the Second Triumvirate was formed on November 43bc and Triumvirs are already at war with the Liberators.

Faction Selection Screen
There will be some new features added (and currently being tested) where there'll be more diplomatic options rather than all out war. A Triumvir may want to break the triumvirate to form his own empire and demand other Roman factions to join him (might need a lot of bribes) to fight other Romans.

More to come when the real preview is ready.

Reviews, benchmarks and modification were done with Intel CORE i3-2100 @ 3.1 ghz, Foxconn H-67M, 2x2GB CORSAIR PC1333, Sapphire R7 260X 2GB GDDR5, FSP SAGA II 500w, 1x Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB, 1x Western Digital 500GB, Windows 10 Home Insider Preview Build 10130 and projected with Acer S220HQL 21.5" 1920x1080 monitor.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Total War Attila - Benchmark (13.06.15)

Since The Last Roman Campaign Pack will also comes with patches for Attila I have decided to do some benchmarks first now. While I have not read yet whether there will be some optimization that will come with the patch, at least I can have a better comparison in about two weeks time. The game was announced to also support the next gen hardware though it does not says very clear whether they are just for the GPU and/or CPU too. No news either whether Attila (and Rome II) will be updated to take advantage of DirectX 12 that will come with Windows 10.

Like Rome II benchmark last time, I did two sets of benchmarking. First I use the game build in recommended setting and another using AMD Gaming Evolve optimize settings.

The game's own recommended settings sets me to Quality settings with Large Unit Size. While the game play is basically smooth with less stuttering I can only get an average of 25 fps which is a bit lower that the acceptable 30 fps. See below the screenshots for both graphic options setting and the game's own benchmarking result.

Game Recommended Settings
Min:13 Avg: 24.7 Max: 33
When using AMD Gaming Evolve software, the optimized settings is quite different from the game's build in recommended settings. As you can see the changes are quite varied, with some settings were increased while some were reduced.

While both settings turned off the Anti-Aliasing, AMD's setting increased Texture Resolution from Large to Ultra and Texture Filtering from Trilinear to Anisotropic 8x. Shadow has been reduced from Quality to Performance though Water and Sky again sees an increment from Quality to Max Quality. 

No changes in Depth of Field (both option turned off) but Particle Effects has been reduced two whole steps from Quality to Max Performance. Space Screen Reflections has been turned Off from Quality and Grass has been reduced to two steps down from Quality for Max Performance. Trees however sees and increment from Quality to Max Quality 

Terrain and Unit Details sees two steps decrement to Max Performance while Building Details sees an increased to Max Performance. Unit Size thankfully got an upgrade to Ultra (I can never play settings below Ultra). AMD's settings also enabled Unlimited Video Memory and SSAO.

AMD Recommended Setting
Min:14 Avg: 33.1 Max: 37
As you can see from the benchmark graphs, the AMD setting give a more stable fps compared to the game;s own settings. For actual gameplay however I have been using a mixture of both with the AMD settings as the base. I usually disable the SSAO, lowering the Building Details to Quality while increasing the Unit Details again to Quality or max Quality. I can still gets an average 30 fps that way.

Reviews, benchmarks and modification were done with Intel CORE i3-2100 @ 3.1 ghz, Foxconn H-67M, 2x2GB CORSAIR PC1333, Sapphire R7 260X 2GB GDDR5, FSP SAGA II 500w, 1x Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB, 1x Western Digital 500GB, Windows 10 Home Insider Preview Build 10130 and projected with Acer S220HQL 21.5" 1920x1080 monitor.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Total War Attila - The Last Roman Campaign Pack Announced !

The Last Roman Campaign Pack is the 5th DLC for Total War Attila, coming after Viking Forefathers Culture Pack (which also acts as pre-order bonus), Celts Culture Pack, Longbeards Culture Pack and also the graphical pack DLC Blood & Burning. It's expected be be live on 25th (or 26th depending on where you are) June 2015 base on the date the promotional 10% discount ends.

You can pre-purchase now via Steam or from SEGA Digital Store though you can probably get some better deals from various online Steam key re-sellers. Just remember that many Steam games and their downloadable contents are region restricted so you may want to check from where you purchase them to avoid the keys you have purchased from becoming just a digital trash.

This is the first mini campaign (and maybe the last) DLC for Attila featuring the campaign of Flavius Belisarius, a Roman general who served under the Emperor Justinian on his ambitious military campaigns to reconquer the lost Mediterranean territory of the former Western Roman Empire. My guess the DLC will feature much of Italy and western Europe since the historical Belisarius early campaigns was against Vandals in the North Africa and then the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy.

Creative Assembly has also released a new Rally Point which also includes interviews with developers and most importantly for me is this announcement below.

"In this new Rally Point, we announce a brand new Total War Campaign Pack! Also we have an ace interview with Mike Simpson, Creative Director on Total War, about the original Medieval and Shogun games, which are going to be heading to Steam. "

Obviously those two games are what hooked me up with the Total War series and the only way I can play them right now is to fire up my old Windows XP rig and provided that I can find where I put the CDs.

Watch the Rally Point - Episode 27 here:

To be honest, I am more excited to hear about Shogun Total War and Medieval Total War coming to Steam than this new DLC since I am only in my second campaign in Attila as the Picts (the fist completed campaign was as the Jutes). I'm sure I will get it sometimes in the future, maybe when there's 75% off Steam during Winter/Christmas sales later this year !

Reviews, benchmarks and modification were done with Intel CORE i3-2100 @ 3.1 ghz, Foxconn H-67M, 2x2GB CORSAIR PC1333, Sapphire R7 260X 2GB GDDR5, FSP SAGA II 500w, 1x Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB, 1x Western Digital 500GB, Windows 10 Home Insider Preview Build 10130 and projected with Acer S220HQL 21.5" 1920x1080 monitor.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Total War Rome II - Benchmark (08.06.15)

This is a game that according to some forums that I’m suppose to hate but I find myself playing this game over and over and currently clock more than 400 hours already. My benchmark is base on the setting that I’m using at this time and it may change should I change a new hardware or even with new graphic drivers. Since I’m currently been using the Windows 10 Technical Preview, I will do another benchmark once the actual OS comes out at the end of July.

This is obviously not the most optimal settings but the one I’m finding comfortable with it and the most beautiful setting without making the game crawl on my poorfag rig (check the specifications at the end of the post) though I obviously can’t run this game with all Ultra/Extreme settings.  The CPU is more suitable for Large rather than Ultra unit number that I’m using but since I can’t play with anything low than the largest unit sizes I have to drop other to compensate and with Rome II, one of the settings that caused huge CPU load is the shadows and even those running with latest i5 or i7 and current range of high end graphic cards are even advice to turn shadows to medium.

As you can see I can get an average 20+ fps with this settings though in real gaming condition as long as I do not use the close up camera during battles I can easily get 30+ fps average even on 20 vs 20 units battles. More than that then I usually use the auto-resolve button as the game will crawl to almost an unplayable condition except at the later stage of battles when most units are destroyed.

This benchmark is using the game build in benchmark featuring the Teutoberg Forest battle and I notices the slowdown especially when there’s a lot of projectiles using fires on the screen so on my game setting I have disabled the projectile fires too. 

Before this, I was using an XFX HD 5770 1GB graphic card and most of the settings are mostly on medium and high. You can check the comparative benchmark done by AnandTech here.

While 60 fps is the standard acceptable rates according to many game reviews you could not expect the same if you have similar specification of rig like mine so for me the acceptable playable rates will be around 30 fps. To get that I'm using AMD Gaving Evolve software (Raptor) to get the best optmized settings. Using that basically lowered a few settings like Shadows and Water to low and reducing the Shader Model from 5 to 4.1 while maintaining other settings basically the same except Trees from Extreme to Ultra.

The result is these little tweaks gives nearly double the frame rates per second as seen below. When we have a low to mid range rig obviously we have to sacrifice graphical beauty to make our games playable.

My final though is that this game will probably not have another major update though I'm hoping with the release of Windows 10 and DirectX 12 another optimization update will be release by the Creative Assembly. I am also interested to run another benchmark once the Steam OS is finally comes out and we will see that time whether an OS build specifically for gaming will have a major impact on games.

Reviews, benchmarks and modification were done with Intel CORE i3-2100 @ 3.1 ghz, Foxconn H-67M, 2x2GB CORSAIR PC1333, Sapphire R7 260X 2GB GDDR5, FSP SAGA II 500w, 1x Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB, 1x Western Digital 500GB, Windows 10 Home Insider Preview Build 10130 and projected with Acer S220HQL 21.5" 1920x1080 monitor.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Keyboard Gamer

Actually I wanted to name this blog as The Poorfag Gamer but then I figure out the fag may be considered an inappropriate word to use for all age friendly blog. Rather than history and politics like The Keyboard Warrior blog, I'm going to dedicate this for pc gaming related articles primarily and all other IT related stuff.

My pc gaming history goes back to the late 90's started with some old DOS base games when I got back from boarding school during school holiday and discover that my dad had acquired a brand new (at that time) a x486 pc which got some games ported from earliest consoles though I can't even remember their names anymore. Then few years after that my younger brother somehow manage to get some games like Wolfenstein 3D, X-COM Terror From The Deep and Dune II. Since I'm from Generation X, I guess it's obvious that my interest were (and still are) primarily with the grand strategy type of games.

When I started working few years later and manage to get my own pc, I was playing games like the Age of Empires series, the Anno series and any other games that looks like they are set in historical era and involves grand strategy. I'm not much into first person shooters (though I did manage to complete Doom II) or any modern or futuristic era warfares. If I'm not mistaken the pc that I own was a Pentium III, running Windows 98 and don't even have a dedicated graphic card or soundcard.

My next pc was a Pentium 4 running a Windows XP and now have an entry level graphic and sound card and pc games in general were much more advance and much more prettier in graphics. That pc was my longer serving one which I had use it for nearly a decade (with few times graphic cards updates and a couple of times hard disk replacements.

My current pc is an i3-2100, 2x2GB Corsair Gaming RAM, Sapphire R7 260x 2GB graphic card, a 1TB Samsung HDD for the OS and files and a dedicated 500GB Western Digital HDD for game files, currently running on Windows 10 Insider Preview (build 10130) though this machine was originally installed with Windows 7 Home (x64). I'm planning to get an SSD in the near future for the OS and some most played games.

The above photos are from some of my games on Steam though I have few other games from GOG too. I probably have not played a game which uses CD/DVD for quite sometimes already. Besides playing, I am also modding a few games (only Total War series) and will post some articles related to game modding too sometimes in the future.

Reviews, benchmarks and modification were done with Intel CORE i3-2100 @ 3.1 ghz, Foxconn H-67M, 2x2GB CORSAIR PC1333, Sapphire R7 260X 2GB GDDR5, FSP SAGA II 500w, 1x Samsung F3 HD103SJ 1TB, 1x Western Digital 500GB, Windows 10 Home Insider Preview Build 10130 and projected with Acer S220HQL 21.5" 1920x1080 monitor.