Home » PLAYER'S HQ 1.13 » v1.13 General Gameplay Talk » Large feedback on 1.13 mod (Just finished the game on experienced)
Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364708] Mon, 20 June 2022 02:32 Go to next message
tim1654 is currently offline tim1654
Registered:June 2022
Hi everyone,

after a long while I wanted to revisit JA2, because I remembered it as one of the most tactical games I have ever played. So I found out about 1.13 and gave it a try.
Before becoming more critical, I want to praise the developers for all the hard work they have put into this mod. It really shines in complexity, and plays overall better than vanilla imho. But there are also some downsides.
I will divide this feedback into technical and gameplay.

I played 1.13, latest build (available May 2022),experienced game mode, realistic, more weapons, all else set to default settings. Also no changes to the ini-file. I needed ~ 43 days to finish with all towns and quests completed (except terrorists). I didn't use an IMP merc, because in my opinion that is against the idea of hiring mercenaries only to complete a job. And if you commanded the operation by doing that, you would probably not fight by yourself. So I went the more "realistic" route.

Let's keep this short. I was using Windows, and Steam, to install the game. It was horrible. The whole process took me about 3h. After searching for a long time on the net how to fix the install, I found out I had to copy and replace files manually. And even after I did, and the game eventually ran, it still had some issues. Sometimes I had errors like a certain file cannot be found. Luckily, it was not detrimental to the gameplay. But the install did not feel in line with Steam. If the game is to be played by a larger audience, however, it has to run smoothly on Win 10/11 and future versions...this should be given the largest priority imho. If possible, without extra programs and manually replacing files etc. The install just should work.
Related to this, I was never able to minimize (ALT TAB) the game up to this day. I could run it in Window-mode by changing the ini-file settings, but overall it did not work like a real window-mode game. That is, sometimes you had to click several times to get out of the game, or get back into it. In the end what I wanted to accomplish was "fullscreen-window mode", but I never did; so I went with fullscreen instead (and never minimized while playing). This also means I could not look up issues as much as I would have liked to (sadge)

Now the more interesting part, the gameplay. I will divide my feedback into bullet points:

- A large variety of weapons was added. This is overall great, however, I feel that many weapons are only marginally different from each other. This can be confusing for newer players, as they don't know what to use. There should be some difference pop up menu, which will explain the difference in range/dmg/AP of a new weapon to an older one
- Weapons add-ons like laser pointers, scopes etc. are overall to rare. I finished the game, and I found overall only 3 laser pointers. I bought 2 more in bobby rays. The effect seems also too weak. In vanilla, I remember, once you got a laser pointer and the most basic scope, your merc basically could not miss anymore. With the new aiming system in 1.13 (NCTH), this is completely different. From distance, and sometimes even from close, you never hit the head. But on the other hand, you always hit the torso, no matter how far you are away. Even if the enemy is out of sight - once you have a spotter, like Ira who you meet at the beginning of the game, you will hit enemies far away. But never in the head. It seems kind of weird to me, that for balance reasons laser pointers and scopes have been nerfed a bit, but having a spotter trivializes everything even more.
- Some weapon add-ons only work with certain weapons. This is definitely different from Vanilla, and was super confusing to me. I found a sniper scope (10 x), and could not use it with some sniper rifles. After a long while I realized that the Russian type of weapons have different scopes. But it is really just trial & error, which makes it confusing to find out what fits together. There should be some kind of marking or alignment. It could also be fixed via a global search (more on that below). If you search for "sniper scope Famas", a sector where you have found it could be highlighted, for example.
- Some items like tripwire made no sense to me. There has to be a clear explanation how to use it properly. Some kind of manual which describes all of them clearly
- Overall game balance seems a bit off. At the beginning you need to do a lot of night missions to be successful, but later on, it is kind of the opposite. Have your spotter and long range rifles is the way to go. You cannot go fully stealth later on, because the AI tends to flank you from whereever you are not looking. And if you fight against > 20 enemies, good luck with your stealth mission. But honestly, if you want the game to be finished at some point, there will always be ways to accomplish that (overpowered strategies). Vanilla was all about only one laser pointer and one scope required, whereas 1.13 seems to be about one spotter (Ira, lol). I know you can accomplish a lot with night ops during much of the earlier game as well. But I think it would be nice if anything was viable, and the game dictated less what you would have to do to be successful
- Suppresssion fire: I am sorry, but this mechanic was terrible to deal with. In the second half of the game when you have multiple mercs, it does not matter at all, but man, when I was in Drassen on the roof, I had to wait 10 turns until the enemies wasted all of their ammo (and did not hit even once), while all my AP was basically almost negative every turn. I realize this mechanic was added to make the game more realistic, but I think it should work in a way that it maybe reduces AP only once (the time you are first in a certain area and shot at), and then not anymore. This is also more realistic - someone who is shot at in the heat of a battle will usually try to get away, even if there is little chance to survive. Or take any other action to survive, but not do nothing because some guys shoot at you from 1000 meters distance with no chance to hit
- Ammo types: this needs a complete rework. You never get the ammo you need. When you start, you soon want that 5.56 ammo type, but you only find AK-ammo. Once you can buy 5.56 ammo from Bobby rays, you want to have the next better ammo (for example nato ammo for Famas rifle). The only time I had enough nato ammo for all my mercs was basically at the very end of the game, when I was at Meduna. But even then I also found some strong sniper rifles, for which I literally never found any ammo through the whole game. They had like 5 shots left, and that's it. I am not sure if Bobby rays had any ammo of that type, but man... I remember vanialla was better in this regard. 5.56 was rare for a while, but soon you had enough, and it carried you through the whole game. In 1.13, you need to use all tools you can get to survive, but then they also have to be available. Otherwise there is no reason to include them
- Selling stuff is cumbersome. Each time I have to travel across half the map with an ice cream truck, just to sell stuff at Tony.... Please add more merchants. At least one arms dealer in every town
- There is way too many different backpacks. I mean the average player just wants the backpack with the largest space available, but going through all the stuff in Bobby rays and comparing backpacks, it's just not fun
- Related to the previous point, there should be a general search bar included into the game. To search for items in the map, for example, which does highlighting for you. Also in Bobby Rays, if you need to search something (for instance, ammo), it should directly show that item. It's terrible currently, as you have to browse through items for such a long time, when there are so many different types of each
- Bobby rays...I swear this shit shop is bugged. Several of my orders got lost without notification that anything is missing. At some point I was hitting the sneaky guy at the airport every single time, just to make sure he had not stolen anything. Because I think if he has stolen your previous order, and you dont notice, but make a new order, then it does not go through. A search on Google also revealed that other people had the same problem. I really think that the priority setting here should be that orders get NEVER lost. Difficulty should not be based on randomness and unreliability of Bobby rays. It wasn't as important in vanilla, because vanilla is just so much easier to play
- There should be more airports or at least airplane drop off sectors, so you cannot get the stuff from Bobby rays only at Drassen. I mean it's easy with Skyrider, but such a pain after a while to travel just to gather items
- I am not sure about this feature that mercenaries are not avilable sometimes for such a long time. I realize you want the player to be flexible, and usually there is a replacement. But man, I wanted to play with Magic. He is just the coolest guy. But he wasn't available for a long time when I finally had the cash
- Increase helicopter/hummer/ice cream truck capactiy each to 8. It's not much fun to split your squads and reunite them every single time only because of capacity
- Prevent mercs from blocking/hindering other mercs. For example, make them technically transparent, so one can walk past the other, or set up a mortar without the menu that says "there is no space to shoot". This becomes most problematic when you have 3 squads (lets say in Meduna). I think the original game was not designed to have that many merc, but 1.13 certainly is
- Some early fights need a rework. For me, by far, the hardest fight in the game was Grumm mine. I had to fight against ~ 15 elites and 20 regular soldiers. Needed to retreat and re-attack to finish that. It's weird that this mine was more heavily defended than any Meduna sector. I heard similar things about Drassen fights, but the counter-attack was not active in my game
- Deidranna was really weird. When I found her in the bunker, she was just mumbling something like I was not expected here and should get away...lol. I mean she did not even initiate a fight. So you can imagine how that ended up when Raven stood next to her (Bummer!)
- More generally: on youtube I saw a playthrough by someone who played with all weapon drops from defeated enemies. That of course makes the game 10 x easier, because not only your mercenaries become stronger, but also you get ~ 15,000$ day just by selling stuff at Tony early on, so you can afford the best mecenaries. I am not sure if 1.13 was designed with that choice in mind, but I think that some options (like insane difficulty) are not even possible without other options, like all weapons drop. So by leaving the player so many 1.13 options, that can be changed during the game, I think you risk that some of them are just incompatible with each other. The game becomes way too hard, or way too easy. It would be nice if the default game setting is balanced to a high degree, and only marginal changes can be done during the game. But currently, most people who play this game change the ini file beforehand (at least I got that impression from reading several how to install-threads), which somewhat indicates that the default setting is not very good in terms of balance
- The latter point is also important for speedrunning - the game has to be balanced well in its default setting, then possibly more speedrunners would be interested to try it out
- Technical issue: infinite loop (turn does not end, cursor is in waiting mode). I don't know why, but this happens every now and then. Sometimes when enemy interrupts, or sometimes when it's your normal turn and you do a certain action. In some cases it resolves itself if you are diligent, but usually not. Reloading sometimes helps; but usually you need to restart the game

That being said, the experience was great, so thanks for all the work you put into this. I gave that feedback, because I think JA2 is far from dead. There will be JA3, and maybe at some point a graphical remake of JA2. It is by far the best tactical simulation I have ever seen. "So long, snapper head!". Until next time I guess (might update this thead if more comes to my mind in the following days). Cheers happy

[Updated on: Tue, 21 June 2022 14:18]

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Re: Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364716 is a reply to message #364708] Wed, 22 June 2022 14:26 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shadooow is currently offline Shadooow

Registered:April 2009
Location: Czech Republic
Hi, as in other communities, forums are getting less and less used because of a discord, so it is unlikely you get much responses here and if you do you can bet they will be in a style "you are idiot, everything is perfect, we do it for free so don't you dare criticize us".

There are too many points in your comment to reply to, so I will just form a general answer, if you care.

A lot of what you are criticizing in your post are vanilla mechanics. Also a lot of your suggestion would make the game less strategic while you wrote in the beginning of your post that you remember this game being all about strategy. So that is conflicting itself. Stuff like no collision between mercs and such are not a good suggestions because it removes or lowers this aspect of the game (note that the game allows to walk over a prone merc).

As for 1.13 related remarks, there is a lot of wrong with 1.13, mainly feature bloat where most of them aren't well balanced, fun to play with to begin with and they lack documentation = game doesn't offer an easy way to use them. Still, I don't think that gun bloat is a problem and I had no problem with ammo either plus you are always having a choice - if all you find is eastern ammo, then use eastern guns no? There are some good choices too. And figuring out the good guns is part of what the game is about. That strategy aspect you remembered this game for.

The main problem is indeed a balance. Your first mistake was trusting 1.13 base settings to be balanced. It is not. In fact it is bloody awful, especially the latest unstable versions with enemies starting with SMGs (the most imbecile "feature" ever). Basically you first need to "play" INI editor and change the default values to your preffered gameplay style (arcade/maximum realism) and for that of course you need to know which feature does what, which you can't know as a new player so basically you must start with something and if you find out it is not good you disable that feature and start over.

Unfortunately the default values are a mix between arcade and maximal realism because the player base is half and half of these playstyles as well. Still, this decision pleases nobody and I always criticized it as the default values are bad for new/returning players. But the development of this mod or patch if you like is stubborn and conservative refusing to change anything.

Honestly, if you want better gameplay experience go for so called stable version of 1.13 ie 7609 - http://thepit.ja-galaxy-forum.com/index.php?t=msg&th=24648&start=0& it is buggy a lot, but much more balanced.

[Updated on: Wed, 22 June 2022 14:56]

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Re: Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364717 is a reply to message #364716] Wed, 22 June 2022 15:03 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga is currently offline Shanga

Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia
JA2.exe is a 20 years old executable. Microsoft hates 20 years old executables. Nothing to do with JA2, more with backwards compatibility of Windows.

The rest of the critique might be valid, but you're confusing a modding toolkit (v1.13) with a game. The whole v1.13 project was an experiment on how many random features can be hacked into the venerable JA2. The mod builders were supposed to take these features and assemble them into working, balanced games. Some of them did that and I fully recommend playing JA2 sequels/mods build on v1.13, rather than v1.13 itself.

[Updated on: Wed, 29 June 2022 15:50]

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Re: Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364718 is a reply to message #364717] Thu, 23 June 2022 01:41 Go to previous messageGo to next message
tim1654 is currently offline tim1654
Registered:June 2022
Hmm thanks for the replies. I wasn't aware about the target group, but if that is true, 1.13 was for a while on Steam until it had to be removed again (for legal reasons). So I guess at some point the goal was to sell this product, similarly to Wildfire. In addition, many modders have or will have the skills to be actual game developers. So I think in this regard my feedback is valid. In the end, it's all about the experience right? How much fun you have. Some want it as realistic and hardcore as possible, and some maybe want a challenge but not too crazy. For instance, if you want full realism as much as possible you would also have to include the merc going to the toilet at least once a day, but nobody wants to do that, because it's simply boring. There is always a tradeoff between a game and reality, and imho you want to leave out the not so fun parts as much as possible. By the way, I realize that some of my suggested features are rather hard to implement or at least would cause serious work - so they are unlikely to make it into this game. But who knows, maybe someone wants to make the game even better than it is already. For my part, despite the critique, I was really happy with the overall experience.
Also thanks for the advice to play additional mods @Shanga

[Updated on: Thu, 23 June 2022 01:42]

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Re: Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364719 is a reply to message #364718] Thu, 23 June 2022 11:33 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Shanga is currently offline Shanga

Registered:January 2000
Location: Danubia
The v1.13 was never legally sold on Steam. The company who did that just stole the code and tried to make a quick buck when nobody was looking. So no, it was never intended to be a stand-alone game, only a huge modding kit. Of course it can be played as a standalone game, but ONLY if you are prepared to spend hours tweaking it.

[Updated on: Fri, 24 June 2022 12:08]

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Re: Large feedback on 1.13 mod[message #364727 is a reply to message #364708] Wed, 29 June 2022 13:21 Go to previous message
Gopan is currently offline Gopan

Registered:June 2016
Location: Norway
@ tim1654

Hello there friend. Judging by your number of posts and the comments in your feedback message, you are new to 1.13. Nothing wrong with that, on the contrary, welcome to the tribe happy
There are 2 words i disagree with : Speedrun and balance. Speedruns are useless if you ask me, when you pay to buy a game and play it, even if it's free, like the 1.13 mods, the point is to take your sweet time and enjoy it, do you speedrun your dinner or your sleep ??

Balance, a very nice word but in mods in every site, i have seen mods that are intended to balance the game or even other modders' mods to make them more balanced. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his Dirty Harry movies : "Opinions are like assholes, everybody's got one". Yeah, balance is up to everyone's opinion. There is not ONE way to balance everything for everyone, which brings me to gameplay...

I see that you prefer the minimalist approach, making the game harder. I also see that you play in NCTH and prefer long range weapons. You should use OCTH, which is much closer to vanilla. As Shanga is suggesting, spend a day or 2 tailoring the game to your liking. Use the INI Editor AND some of the xml files. You can change seating capacity to 8 or 10 for every vehicle, that one has always bothered me, if we can have up to 32 mercs and squads of 8 or 10, why is the vehicle seating capacity still at 6 ?? I play on Insane and do quite a lot of changes and always playing on OCTH, because i also prefer single but accurate shots, instead of spray and pray. Also, many options are different from mod to mod. Arulco Revisited, Arulco Vacations and Vengeance Reloaded are my favorites. Deidranna's SIDE Mod and/or Kingpin's Side Mod are a close second. Give them a try happy

Of course, everyone can tailor the game to their liking and enjoy it, which is the point of playing it happy

Nipson anomimata mi monan opsin

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