||  

Strategic Command Blog 1: New Features and Scope

 

BLOG ENTRY 1: NEW FEATURES & SCOPE

Writing A New Chapter in an Established Series

Strategic Command WWII: War in Europe is the ground-breaking next step in the highly acclaimed Strategic Command series of turn based strategy games.

Building on the success of previous versions covering both world wars, Strategic Command is returning the series to its roots as a hex based game, complete with a new engine, new graphics, and lots of new features too!

This latest Strategic Command game retains the best of the previous games in the series, including their accessibility and ease of play, while adding a whole lot more!

Who We Are

Here at Fury Software there are two of us working on the game, with our President, Hubert Cater, in charge of overall direction, the game engine, AI coding, liaising with our publishers and much else too.

Bill Runacre designs the campaigns themselves, starting with the game map through to creating playable yet realistic Orders of Battle and countless events that will occur during gameplay. These are inspired by a thorough reading of the period, implementing both real life events and those that plausibly could have taken place.

Hubert lives in Canada while Bill lives in the UK, so we have to work around living in different time zones and also being too far away to actually meet up and discuss details. But we've been doing this together for about eight years now and it works very well.

The Background

Work on this redesign began a few years ago, shortly after the release of Strategic Command WWI Breakthrough!

We knew that the engine was approaching its end, and so our first task was to decide what was needed to take the game to the next level, pleasing our current fans while also hoping to engage, and in some cases re-engage, others.

So we both set to work compiling lists of ideas, the foundations for many being the dozens upon dozens of suggestions players have made to us over the years.

A Return to Hexes!

Our aim with the Strategic Command series is to make attractive, playable and historical games. Our aim for this release is to make a game that will provide one of the best strategic level re-creations of 20th century warfare, while also being a whole lot of fun to play.

The first and possibly biggest decision for us was to return the series to using hexes rather than tiles. There are pros and cons to both, but it was clear that the majority of those who expressed a preference, preferred hexes, and we didn't disagree. So hexes are back!

Accessible and Entertaining Historical Games

The concept behind our games is that they should be easy and fun to play, while also being fully immersed in their historical setting.

So combat is quick to carry out, simply click on your units to move/attack. German units can be near Warsaw in no time at all!

  

At the strategic level, it is up to you to plan your offensives, to build up your armed forces and manage your diplomacy with neutral powers.

Gathering Inspiration

We've always taken players' feedback very seriously, and while it is impossible to please everyone, our aim is always to have that goal in mind, and where applicable, provide options for those who have slightly different preferences.

Armed with literally hundreds of ideas, we then had to work out what to prioritize, what to save for future releases, and what ideas weren't necessarily applicable for the short to medium term.

Decision Events

Much of your strategic planning is controlled by Decision Events, where you are presented with a choice concerning a military, political or economic situation. Simply click on the response you wish to give, and thy will be done! 

Decision Events have now been enhanced so that you can view the map and assess the scene while considering your options. Notes are also included to help guide you towards making the right choice that suits your game strategy.

Examples of new Decisions include:

·         Both Germany and the USSR get to negotiate carving up of Poland. The subsequent borders will therefore not necessarily follow their historic path.

·         An Anglo-French Expedition can be sent to support Finland during the Winter War.

·         France can reincorporate Vichy territories following her liberation.

·         The UK and USSR can carve up Persia between them, and the USA can then choose whether to send supplies via Persia to the USSR. This can provide a real boost to the Soviet War Effort!

So overall we have a combination of action packed combat, and strategic decisions requiring deeper thought and some planning for the future.

The beauty of this being that when you aren't playing, e.g. while you're at work or traveling, you can enjoy thinking about your strategy, deciding where you need to boost up your defenses, and/or where to launch your next offensive etc.

The Campaign

After some deliberation we chose to set our first release with the new engine in the European Theater of WWII.

It's a firm favorite for many, provides for numerous “what if” scenarios, and should provide hours of entertainment. Of course, this doesn't mean that we don't plan other releases in other settings… but let us now talk some more about this game's new features.

Dynamic Movement

A major change that players of our previous titles will immediately notice is the introduction of Dynamic Movement.

Dynamic Movement allows units that haven't used up all their Action Points to continue to move until they have done so, even if de-selected and re-selected again later. It applies to most unit types, and takes much of the pressure out of trying to plan your moves. Just click and play!

Air units can also now attack and then move a portion of their normal move distance. This can be especially useful when on the offensive, or alternatively when conducting a fighting retreat. Again, it provides more flexibility than in the past when air units could only either move, or attack.

Enhanced Fog of War

We have introduced enhanced Fog of War which makes it possible at a glance to see exactly how far your own units can see. While this might sound very simple, it wasn't in our previous releases, and at the same time we have also introduced a specified Front Line that updates dynamically showing clearly who controls what.

Penalties for Irresponsibility

Building on from the introduction of the National Morale feature in our WWI games, we have now introduced a system whereby aggressors can be punished for attacking historically neutral countries like Switzerland.

Time your Offensives

We now have two types of road, paved and unpaved. The latter predominate in Eastern Europe and provide no bonuses in bad weather, so when the ground is muddy, offensives will slow.

New Research Concepts

One thing we decided to do with the Research feature is to expand it beyond just enhancing unit Attack and Defense values, and increasing economic output.

So we have introduced new research areas that represent improvements in command systems, unit training, military doctrine and logistics. These can for example increase unit morale, spotting ranges, command abilities and allow units to launch extra attacks.

Naval Cruise

We've introduced two very significant improvements to naval operations.

The first is to speed up naval movement through the introduction of a new movement mode: Naval Cruise.

This enables naval units to travel double their normal movement distance for a strategic move. The penalty being that they lose 1 supply point when doing so, and cruising units cannot attack enemy vessels.

Players of our previous releases will be familiar with Subs having two modes, Hunt and Silent, and Subs can only Cruise when they are in Hunt mode.

The second big change is that we've added a second category of Amphibious Transport for landings on enemy held shores. This new unit type is specifically designed to be used when planning operations against distant shores like Operation Torch, as now amphibious units can sail across the Atlantic from the USA and land in North Africa.

This new unit type, called Amphibious Transport (Long Range), is only available in limited numbers to select countries like the UK and USA, though the number of units available can be increased through researching Amphibious Warfare.

Diplomacy

It is now possible to block diplomacy towards some countries, e.g. the USSR cannot attempt to influence Franco's Spain. We have also introduced the ability to limit investment towards historically neutral countries, so that, for example, only a small diplomatic effort can be made to swing Switzerland towards one side or the other.

 

That's all for this instalment. In a future article we'll have an update on all the improvements we've made to the AI to make it more challenging than ever. Stay tuned!