Steel Division: Normandy 44 is celebrating its first anniversary. Let’s continue the focus on the community we started two days ago. This article is the second of three community-driven articles and will feature 2 dedicated modders and the main contributor of the Steel Division: Normandy 44’s Wiki.

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Chief Berto

Hey guys. I’m Chief Berto, the Leader of the Just Before Dawn: Community “DLC” Project. I am currently self-employed as a writer. I’ve worked on a variety of trivial and wide-ranging topics from teen-fiction and internet content, to restaurant-related business. I am American, from Philadelphia.

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From a young age, I’ve been a rather large history nerd. The war, however incommunicably horrible, was and remains the great testament of human achievement; both by individuals and by nations, things both good and evil, and I don’t think my interest in that will ever wane. It was for this reason, that Steel Division: Normandy 44 caught my attention. I’ve long been a fan of RTS games and I knew Eugen made good games, having been a big fan of RUSE. Since release, I’ve played somewhere between 500 and 700 hours and it’s become the only computer game I really play and basically the only non-sports game.

I’d rank it as one of my all-time favorite games, and not very far below Ocarina of Time and Age of Empires II.

Just Before Dawn Community “DLC”  Mod is a project to expand and enhance Steel Division: Normandy 44. The primary goal of Just Before Dawn is to offer new divisions and more options for players within the asymmetrically balanced gameplay of Steel Division.

Where did the idea for your Mod come from?

I’m not sure I can really pinpoint the moment where the idea for the mod came from, it was a gradual formation process. On the Steam forums, there were posts about divisions players wanted, and I thought some of them sounded pretty cool. I love the divisions but there were deck builds I wanted to try that weren’t available, and historical units I thought would be interesting.

The introduction of the random map made me think about deck building in a completely new way. Now all decks could be measured on a level field.
Then there was an interesting guide by a community member, Paradox Obscuris, where he ranked the allied divisions. I started to put together my own power rankings but wanted to have inputs from the community. This was where I put together the 3v3 Random Map Community Division Rankings Survey.

I reached out to some of the most vocal community members, including some of the casters and the leaders of the Steel Division League. The conversation and responses I got during and after the Survey were fantastic, making me think and talk about the game in a much larger way. I slowly started looking into the files, which at first was like reading Chinese but it slowly started to make sense. Somewhere after that, along with an explorative conversation with the community, the decision to start the Community “DLC” sprouted.

How much time did it take?

Modding Steel Division is a very time-consuming process. First, there are a lot of files, and they’re spread out. Second, most of the files are in English but there is also some in French. Each new unit created is a tedious process, it’s easy to make careless mistakes, and they can then be very difficult to find but with each entry, I’ve gotten smarter at it which makes me faster and helps me make fewer mistakes.

On top of the actual data creation and editing, there is a lot of time spent on research. To be able to put out new divisions that the community will both like and deserve, there needs to be a level of thought and effect behind them, so that they fit into the balance between historical and gameplay that Eugen have set. The balancing is by far the most difficult part. It rests on a narrow edge between being too weak and overpowered, subtle changes can snowball quickly and take a lot of time to iron out.

Since starting the Project in early April, Just Before Dawn has released 7 new divisions with their own rosters, new units, incomes, and descriptions. During that time almost all my playing time has been devoted to the Mod. It became the new hobby I’ve really been enjoying.

Did someone help you in the process?

I’ve had a ton of help from the community. Before I officially announced the project, I’d talked and planned with the leaders of the Steel Division League, so those guys have been in from day one. Scoutspirit, MadMat and Tagaziel’s Wiki especially helped me in the searches and I’ve had several inputs from top players to help me in the balance. There was also some YouTube videos featuring my mod! And last but not least, MrCrisps, the Modfather himself, none of this would have been possible without his patience in explaining everything he’s learned over the past year, and his willingness to share.

There are many others that have contributed, people like Plk458458 and Raiders44, who are the reason JBD has been an early success. Since launching our discord has been steadily growing and players add ideas and input there as well as in the Steam forum, Reddit, and PM.

Thanks for all of it. I really have to say how glad I am to have started the Project, the feedback and interest from all over the community have been fantastic and really makes a game I love much better.

Do you plan on updating it in the near future?

There are big plans and many things already in the works, and we will continue making our paired releases (Hello 82nd Airborne and 5. Fallschrimjager). The goal is to keep releasing new divisions as long as they can be made interesting and fit historically. We hope to continue growing our relationship with Eugen and support them in the direction Steel Division: Normandy 44 takes in the next year.
In the short term, each an eye out for the first tournament by the Steel Division League featuring Just Before Dawn coming soon.

MrCrisps

Steel_Division_Storm_In_The_West_MrCrispsHi there, I’m MrCrisps. I’m 32 years old and I leave in France, near Paris. I’m a WWII history fan and I’m fond of WWII strategy games, from Blitzkrieg I (all-time best WWII game for me) to Sudden Strike, Panzer Korps, Men of War and many more.

The new gameplay mechanics introduced in Steel Division: Normandy 44 of the dynamic frontlines with how the suppress works and basically all the core gameplay mechanics of the base game is wonderful, that’s why it has encouraged me to mod and even though it was very hard at times.

This mod strives for realism and tries to be as close as possible to the real-life stats of the units displayed, as well as the orders of battle of the different forces engaged in that fateful battle. All the changes are made in that direction, trying to achieve both balance and realism.

Where did the idea for your Mod come from?

Well, it comes back from the beta of the game. At that time, I discovered the game with one of clan friend and we were unsatisfied with the balance and gameplay designs choices, especially about the feeling of the units and the battles.

During one whole night of late April 2017, I then decided to gather as much units’ data as possible (speed, armor, turret rotation, hull rotation, weapons) and began to sneak in the mod tools.

The first idea was just to change the unit stats to have the realistic forces and weaknesses of the units, as closer one could be with SD, which I’ve managed to do during the beta.

Now the mod has shifted a lot from its initial aim. It changes the game almost completely, from unit stats, to new weapons, new units, new divisions, divisions reworking, new stealth and spotting mechanics, new orders like Double time for infantry, a reviewed veterans’ system, whole new traits mechanic, new sounds for all weapons and most engines in the game and a completely new soundtrack for music.

How much time did it take?

A whole year for the released game version and more if you take the beta version. I’m basically working on it full-time since.

Did someone help you in the process?

On a pure value changing way, I’m the only one who worked on Storm in the West and I’m still alone. However, I have received the help of many people through the development of the mod:

  • Minnus: My clan friend who made me come to SD. He helps me a lot about data mining, finding right sources, gameplay ideas, and balance.
  • Boris the Blade: A pioneer in War Thunder sound modding and an incredibly nice dude. He allowed me to use a lot of his amazing sounds from his Boris Sound mod for War Thunder Ground forces.
  • Automne & Villys: A French SD modder like me who created the Immersive Sound Mod. An incredible worker and a very nice person. He lent me the use of one of the most incredible Planes sounds I’ve ever heard for a game.
  • Rhedd: The creator of the No Glow mod who wanted to associate with me to make his very nice work compatible with on Storm in the West. A very nice touch of immersion I should say.
  • Ginda: Creator Sound & Music Mod. His work has already merged with the No Glow Mod when he contacted me for an association. Kudos to him for his nice mortar sounds!
  • Panzeh: A very nice, though maybe too serious person, with a very nice skill level. He’s a long-time enthusiast about the mod and helped me a lot with balance.
  • Helix: A somewhat grumpy man but very friendly. He follows the mod since a long time and is a very interesting man for topics regarding balance. A very nice player who I love to play against.

Do you plan on updating it in the near future?

Of course! The mod is almost finished but needs a lot more balancing and working on some new stuff. Most of the new features have already been added at this point.

A last new division, as well as a full review of the Historical battles, will certainly follow shortly. As well as an AI overhaul if I find how to tweak it efficiently.

Overall, it was a tough time, but I regret nothing. The people I met since last year were all very interesting and helped me a lot to keep motivated.

 Tagaziel

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I’m thirty, Polish, happily married for nearly eight years, father of a six-month-old monster, and spend too much time reading books and playing games. I also have a keen interest in history, especially the first half of the 20th century.

The two world wars shaped the modern world far more than we care to admit – by understanding them, I try to understand ourselves and especially the history of my own country.

Steel Division, which currently sits at about 200 hours played and constantly nags me “how about we play just one more skirmish?”, was my dream game. Apart from the broad selection of divisions, units, and featuring General Maczek and his troops, it had the perfect kind of gameplay.

Company of Heroes was great but lacked scale, Men of War was insane on a micromanagement level, every game had some flaws. Steel Division had everything I wanted.

Did you write other wikis before the SD’s one?

Making the wiki was an easy decision. I work as a wiki manager for Curse (fun fact: I’m actually a law graduate with a Master’s, but circumstances dictated a different career path), but the wiki was my personal passion project. I’ve worked on scores of wikis, but this one had a special place in my heart. A part of it was the satisfaction of digging through the files and finding new files (and remnants of early dev builds, like unit portraits etc.), another the making of clever templates to display divisional rosters and weapon data, and of course, writing unit descriptions and learning a bit more about World War II history.

Did someone help you in the process? And, how much time does it take?

Much of the groundwork was done on my own, especially in the early days. Noting down data values from the armory, processing in-game shots of units and their selection portraits, weapon images, and so on and so forth took hours of sitting down and just going through it. It’s a slog, but when you love something, you don’t mind spending around an hundred hours on it. Eventually, I’ve been joined by a cadre of veteran players who helped with correcting data, strategies, writing unit backgrounds, and a dozen other things. I can say that without Misstep, Solarne, LPT, or 2VetOP, the wiki wouldn’t be in the shape it is today, thank you. And as long as it gets updates and there’s a unit without a proper description, I’ll keep chipping away, that’s what passion is all about right?

That’s all for today! We want to thank them, and all of the dedicated modders around this community for their hard work and we hope to see a continuous support from all of you in the future. Stay tuned for the final community-driven article, to be released next week and featuring YouTube Influencers as well as 2 top players of the League.