Steel Division: Normandy 44 allows players to create their mods with official dedicated modding tools. For the second “Mod of the Month”, we talked to Citadel about his mod Reinforce Infantry and how he came up with his idea.
Hi, Citadel. Can you introduce yourself? What can you tell us about you?
I’m a self-identified nerd from the East Coast of the USA who lives out in the Rocky Mountain range. I’ve been playing video games since I was seven years old (over two decades ago now!) and I look forward to the future of gaming. I’ve always been drawn to PC gaming because of its higher complexity and because of the modding scene. I celebrate the fun people have with consoles, but I don’t think I’ll ever go back to them.
How long have you been playing Steel Division: Normandy 44?
Since day one! It’s a fantastic game, and since I have been a fan of both Paradox and Eugen for years now (ever since HOI3 for Paradox, and ever since WGEE for Eugen) and when I heard these two companies were teaming up, I knew I was going to love the result.
Have you already created mods before? If yes, for which game (Wargame or others)?
My first mod was for Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far, and it tweaked the availability of certain units for the grand campaign. Nowadays I spend my modding energy in ARMA 3, making mods for my small gaming group with the help of some folks smarter than I am.
Can you tell us a bit more about your mod? What is its purpose? How did you get the idea?
Reinforce Infantry‘s purpose is to add the ability to replace casualties in an infantry squad or section from supply trucks. I got the idea from the Wargame series, where supplies could do exactly this. I was also inspired by stories of real-life combat veterans who would talk about how reserves play an important part in operational level combat, and it also highlights the value of logistical units (such as the historical Red Ball Express) which, sadly, are so often under-represented in wargames. It’s easy to forget that for every one combat soldier, there are often a dozen or so support soldiers driving trucks, setting up aid stations, or just holding up road signs, keeping the rest of the army focused on the fight.
Why should other players download it?
This mod makes a subtle but important change to how infantry survives combat. In most games, combat comes in “encounters” where two forces (sometimes platoon strength groups) will clash and chop each other up. Afterwards, there can be consolidation, but if an infantry squad is reduced to one or two soldiers, their value is significantly reduced. They’re not much use when players can’t expect them to take any more punishment, so they often need to be paired up with another squad if they’re tasked to guard a flank or probe the enemy line. This mod makes it so that, if the player chooses to make a short tactical withdrawal to a supply truck (or if one is parked nearby) the infantry units will heal and reinforce, as well as rearm, restoring their full value to the player. This makes it even more important to encircle and destroy enemy units before they can retreat, and makes retreating a damaged unit extra valuable. The change in gameplay creates a more cost-effective infantry unit and also creates a new mechanic to infantry gameplay– the “nexus” or rally point. I find most games with this mod turn into a fight for good places to hide supply trucks, since they can keep just a thin picket of infantry squads and AT guns in tip-top shape, against repeated attacks. Honestly, the more I play with this mod, the more I discover the emergent gameplay, and love every second.
How much time did you spend to create your mod?
This is the funny one. It has literally taken me longer to answer this survey than to create the mod. I was just poking around in the files, exploring what could be done, when I noticed a folder with a name which implied the data would be stored inside. I wandered my way through the files, and noticed a French word, Ravitaillement. In my ignorance, it sounded like “revive.” I opened it up, just curious what it actually contained, when I noticed a line which said “health supply by second.” I thought “why is that zero?” and realized “hey! there must have been a feature in the game which the devs decided not to include. Let me turn it on and see what it does.” Sure enough, it did exactly what I hoped it did. The entire process took about five minutes.
Did you use our modding manual?
I sure did! It’s how I was able to create the mod so quickly, and published it within fifteen minutes of starting.
What would be your advice for new modders?
Get messy! So much of modding is reverse-engineering the work by the game devs, and the best way to learn how a piece of game code works is to break it. Nothing will let you know what that strange number does until your Stug III’s are firing napalm bombs from their MG34’s at 800 rounds a minute. The hard part is getting over your own fear of failure, and realizing you won’t create the big sexy total overhauls in an afternoon. Often times, though, it’s the little changes which are the most impactful.
What’s next for your mod?
Nothing, hopefully. I’m a huge fan of small, very precise mods in competitive games, and want to keep this mod very specific. I added instructions on how to make the mod in my mod description so that others can copy and re-create the work for themselves, or add it to their mod. We’re all on the same team, so I see no reason to keep that info a secret. It’s always bothered me when modders keep expanding small, precise mods to make other changes instead of making new mods (thereby making it impossible to get a version of the original), so I’m going to make sure I don’t make a mistake like that.
What is your Steel Division: Normandy 44‘s favorite mod for now?
I’m a fan of Lork’s Storm in the West ’44 mod. It’s a great example of what happens when passionate combat simulation fans get their hands on some technical specs and start crunching numbers. The balance of the game gets defenestrated, but I’m a huge sucker for big overhauls. I also like how those guys seem to keep adding new modders to their team, which means the scope of the changes just keeps growing. I wish them the best of luck.
Which mod would you like to have in the future for Steel Division: Normandy 44?
I’m not sure how realistic this is, given the way the game is developed, but I would love to see a mod which adds the ability, either passively or actively at the player’s command, the ability for units to entrench. Open ground could be turned into foxholes, and foxholes turned into trenches, etc. Buildings could be sandbagged up, and tanks could be buried in tank pits or some other thing. The idea is just that without a feature like this, I feel that the terrain can’t be meaningfully altered. It was one of the things which I loved about the old Company of Heroes games, and I’d love to see more games explore this important part of battlefield survival. A soldier’s best friend is his shovel. Even if it was an abstraction, such as having the squad lay down and an icon appear over their heads (“entrenching” and “dug-in”) with some mechanical advantage as long as they stay still, it could be a huge improvement. The presence of tanks, flamethrowers, and airstrikes would keep players from turning France back into a nightmare of trenches, and a long entrenching time could prevent its overuse or abuse, but it could absolutely make having reserves dig in behind the front line to contain a break-through attempt become a very real tactic, or make an infantry unit on the defense in open ground a challenge for advancing mechanized units. Thanks for your interest in my “work”, and I’d love to be a part of whatever comes next.
Thank you too Citadel for your time! You can find the Reinforce Infantry mod on Steel Division: Normandy 44‘s Steam Workshop. We hope that you liked this article, feel free to leave a reply.