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People's General (a.k.a. Dynasty General) is a turn-based strategy computer game developed by Strategic Simulations, Inc (SSI). It was released in August, 1998 in North America and in September, 1998 in Europe. The game originally focused on early 21st century warfare in Asia but both the time-frame and geographic coverage have been expanded by gamers.
People's General, or PeG as it is commonly known, followed SSI's successful 5 Star General Series of World War II war games (Panzer General, Allied General, Pacific General) and their sequel, Panzer General II (PG2). It uses the same game dynamics as these earlier games—turn-based movement & fighting with military units on a hex based map.
PeG uses substantially the same "Living Battlefield" game engine as PG2 but features higher quality (16 bit) graphics and many new features.
In the original game the countries are organized into an Eastern Alliance and a Western Alliance. China, Mongolia and North Korea comprise the Eastern Alliance. The USA, Russia, 13 other countries and the United Nations comprise the Western Alliance. Vietnam is included as an un-allied country.
Gamer created campaigns and scenarios have expanded this premise to include different regions of conflict, different alliances and other countries.
Template:Infobox Military Conflict The original campaigns and scenarios expanded on this premise with a more detailed background story provided by SSI via an introductory video. The video narrated hypothetical "future" events occurring from 2000-2004, i.e., after publication of the game and before the start of the campaigns and scenarios.
According to this video, both the USA and Russia reduce their military spendings. Russia is in turmoil from food shortages and other internal conflicts. China grows stronger militarily. After invading Taiwan it initiates a plan to dominate all of Asia from Sakhalin Islands and Vladivostok in the east to Volgograd and Kazakhstan in the west; from Siberia in the north to Southeast Asia and Singapore in the south. China justifies this as "reclaiming traditional Chinese territories".
The USA sends its 7th Fleet to the Taiwan Straits to force China to withdraw. Chinese air attacks sink 7th Fleet's flagship USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), claiming it was in Chinese waters. United States denounces this as an unprovoked attack and declares war on China. The US is joined by the United Nations and most of its members.
Many campaigns and scenarios created by gamers diverge from this background story.
The game dynamics in PeG are essentially the same as those in PG2 and SSI's earlier Generals games:
- The playing pieces are military units which have varied attack, defense and other characteristics.
- Play is turn based with unit purchase, deployment, movement and combat occurring throughout each player's turn.
- Game play takes place on maps with different types of terrain which affect each unit's attack, defense, movement, supply, spotting results & entrenchment.
- Units can be damaged or destroyed from combat but can also increase their experience as a result of combat.
- Prestige points are used to purchase or upgrade units; prestige points are distributed at the beginning of scenarios and during game play.
Some specifics have been changed though so PeG's dynamics are not exactly the same as those of the others.
PeG includes many new or improved features compared to PG2 and the earlier Five Star General games:
- Attachments which modify attack, defense, supply, movement & spotting capabilities can be assigned to units.
- A strategic air mission system provides various forms of air support independent of core and auxiliary units.
- "Trigger hexes" provide random increases in unit experience, air missions, prestige and other resources.
- Veteran & elite units can be purchased with higher levels of experience.
- Helicopters have been added as a new equipment class.
- Three new terrain types have been added.
- New types of special equipment have been added and a unit's special equipment is now indicated on the unit display;
- An alliance system has been added which allows purchase of units from any allied country.
- PeG's graphics are 16 bit (65,536 colors), while PG2 uses 8 bit graphics (256 colors) so icons and maps are richer looking.
Nine campaigns were included in the original release of PeG. Most of these are based on the idea that China grows increasingly powerful, runs low on resources and sets out to conquer Asia. The Western Alliance led by the USA hopes to stop China but the conflict becomes World War III covering all of Asia plus Russia.
The original campaigns are:
- Eastern Long Campaign (18 scenarios): The player takes command of the Chinese forces in their invasion of Russia and later South East Asia.
- Western Long Campaign (18 scenarios): The player leads US & allied forces against the Chinese to drive them out of Russia, South East Asia and Korea.
- Railroaded (6 scenarios): The player takes command of the UN forces in Russia along the Trans-Siberian Railway.
- New World Order (4 scenarios): The player takes command of the Vietnamese forces in their invasion of Thailand and the Malay peninsula.
- Korea Revisited (3 scenarios): The player takes command of the US forces in the battle for the Korean peninsula.
- four additional campaigns which vary the length and difficulty of the Eastern & Western campaigns.
PeG gamers have developed many new campaigns and scenarios. Some of these continue with the original premise of China seeking control of Asia in years 2010 and beyond. Often these new campaigns include new equipment files and additional countries. Other new campaigns and scenarios focus on different regions of conflict such as Africa or Eastern Europe and other eras such as the Cold War.
In addition to the scenarios that are part of the campaigns, PeG was released with 103 stand-alone scenarios. These can be played against the AI, against other human players using a hot-seat, via e-mail, via the Internet or LAN.
These stand-alone scenarios can be played from either the Western or Eastern side. Several of the scenarios are multi-player: 2, 3 or 4 human players can play.
Units and equipment
PeG was originally released with an equipment file ("e-file") of about 370 units which included actual military equipment, equipment under development as of 1997-1998 and hypothetical future developments.
PeG gamers have created several e-files with up to 1,000 units covering various periods from 1946-2030. The most widely distributed of these is the "5 Star E-File" (version 2.9). Other e-files focus on the Cold War, Asia and Africa. Several variants, described below, also have e-files developed for their specific focus.
The most visible hallmark of the Living Battlefield series is "painted" maps—a single image of the whole battlefield. This contrasts vividly with the discrete tiles used for each hex in Panzer General, Allied General, Pacific General and other hex-tile games.
PeG was released with 23 original maps covering locations throughout Asia including:
New 16 bit maps in the Living Battlefield style have been created specifically for PeG which cover India, Pakistan and the Caucasus. In addition, several tools have been developed which allow conversion of Panzer General 2 maps to the PeG map graphics format. This provides a map inventory for PeG of well over 600 maps covering Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia and to a lesser extent the Americas and sub-Saharan Africa
Modifications and variations
PeG is the most easily customized of SSI's Generals games for several reasons:
- More flexible file structures which SSI introduced with PG2 are easier to quickly modify and test;
- Powerful game editing tools are available which enable customization of the game executable, scenarios, maps, equipment files, icons and game interface graphics.
- Substantial research has been done on the game dynamics defined in the program.
PeG has produced two main streams of customization:
- Modifications which alter elements of the game executable (program code) but retain the modern warfare focus of game play;
- Variations which use the original game executable but focus on a different era and change the appearance to match.
The PeG community includes active and creative proponents of both approaches.
People's General 3.0
PeG 3.0 is an unofficial, fan created modification of People's General 1.0. It has 40 new features, improvements and corrections, including:
- expansion from 20 countries to 31
- addition of "scenario specific coalitions"
- expanded purchase of experienced units
PeG 2.0 (aka "PeG No Alliances") eliminated the Alliances system. While this might sound like a step backwards it actually increased the challenge of game play by restricting the availability of units.
PeG 2.6 & 2.7 corrected several errors in the original game. These versions also included an improved movement rate table (the part of the EXE file which defines how fast units move). PeG 2.7 allowed additional types of video files to be displayed in the game.
All three of these versions are unofficial, fan created modifications of People's General 1.0.
Red Danger Asia & Red Danger Europe
Red Danger Asia and Red Danger Europe are two well developed variations produced by Devore. Each package includes several new campaigns and a new e-file. Their focus is post-Cold War conflicts in Asia and Europe respectively.
PeG-WW2 is an adaptation of PeG to cover World War II using equipment files, units and scenarios originally developed for PG2. PeG-WW2 was initially created by Mark Kirby with assistance from Fred Chlanda using SSI's PeG executable. Robert Mary has converted many additional PG2 campaigns for PeG-WW2.
Gamers have also produced PeG-WW1 and Peg-Napoleonic variations although these have not been developed to the same extent as Red Danger Asia, Red Danger Europe or PeG-WW2.
People's General can be edited with a variety of software tools which have been developed by Luis Guzman. These include:
- PeG Suite is a multi-function tool which can edit scenarios, campaigns, equipment files, maps, and the game EXE (executable);
- Luis's Map Tool edits the terrain definitions and prepares the segmented graphics files for maps;
- PeG DAT Tool is specifically for editing the interface and unit icon graphics and the .DAT file which contains all of them;
1. Several game review sites give the release date as August 31, 1998. Others state PeG was released on September 15, 1998. At least one site gives September 10, 1998 as the release date.
- Luis Tools Home site for PeG Suite plus other editing tools for People's General and Panzer General II
- 5 Star General PeG Downloads
- Robert Mary's PeG-WW2 Site