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Back to News Listing WarPlan Dev Diary #1 - Introduction

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2019 by Daniele Meneghini

Type: News

This story starts out when a 15 year old kid was introduced to the game Rise and Decline of the Third Reichfrom Avalon Hill back in 1982. A friend taught me the game in a learn the rules and watch me exploit your lack of knowledge method. He would pull out convenient rules when it suited him and didn’t tell me rules that helped me. He thoroughly kicked my ass by 1942 as the Axis as I had little clue as to what I was doing. For most people this would only encourage them never to play the game again. Instead I became fascinated.

Since then I have played just about every game that has involved WW2 on a grand strategy scale. If I didn’t play it I at least read the rules of the game to understand the system. 

I read a solid 20+ books on WW2 military history increasing my knowledge of the time period. Some titles include Black May by Gannon, Wages of Destruction by Tooze, Why the Allies Won by Overy and of course Brute Force by Ellis.

 

 

 

I was a gamer and loved gaming. I played card games like Magic the Gathering, RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, along with wargames on the computer and board. In 2004 I learned poker diving into 100+ books on the subject studying the mathematics and psychology of the game. I learned web design, programming, history, science, psychology, and some application UX design (user experience). I wanted to do something more than a normal job.

The opportunity presented itself around 2011 where I encountered a game called Strategic Command 2 (SC2). It is an excellent game system, better than any I seen before. SC2 came with an editor to make my own scenarios. So I designed my own game called Brute Force 1939.  The name came from John Ellis’s excellent book called Brute Force on WW2. It was a mod based on the SC2 system, the board game World in Flame, and SPI’s European Theatre of Operations. It was designed so play was easier and it gave players balanced decisions within the game. I made each country slightly different than the other to give it personality. It incorporated a split map which was a big no-no back then. The game became one of the most popular mods in the community. It was so popular it is now part of the Strategic Command Classic: Global Conflict.
http://www.matrixgames.com/products/724/details/Strategic.Command.Classic.Global.Conflict

Due to my family’s financial stability and the surprising success I had with my mod I had an opportunity to get my foot in the door of the gaming community. My wife pushed me into relearning programming and getting into designing my own games. I started off by approaching Fury Software into doing their final 2 expansions, Assault on Communism and Assault on Democracy, also included in the classic version list above. They had already taken several ideas from my mod and suggestions to incorporate them in their future editions and even their WW1 game. So I listened to my wife and learned C# and Unity Engine. WarPlan began to take shape.

Since I have been gaming for the last 35 years I have seen many trends, game mechanics, and games go by in a unique experience that is missed by younger designers. I was there when the golden age of video games began. I was there when going to the arcade was a night out. I was there before the internet when having a game night was a social engagement of chips, beer, dice, figurines, and character sheets. With my education, age, and experience from developing the SC2 expansions I feel I have an advantage in understanding my audience, at least when it comes to wargames. So I wanted to do the best game possible putting forth maximum effort into the game mechanics and playability.

Due to my knowledge and interest in WW2 I decided to make my first game would be a grand strategy WW2 game. I wanted to have the things players wanted, a new system of performing actions incorporating and streamlining the best from other great games of my past. WarPlan was to create decisions points based on giving up something to get something else where the strategy of knowing what to use when was the key to winning. This was to be a monumental task starting from zero. Any game developer will tell you that you start small and work your way up. I just started large, very large.

The games that generated all the ideas for WarPlan were the following and more: Third Reich, SPIs ETP/PTO, World in Flames, Axis and Allies, Decision Games World at War, Block system by Colombia Games, Steel Panthers, Hearts of Iron Series, Making History, Strategic Command, Commander Europe at War, any Gary Grigsby game, Clash of Steel, High Command, Operational Art of War, Unity of Command, Victory in the Pacific, Panzer General, and many games from SSI in the 1980s.

What most people don’t realize is that developing a game is an incredibly difficult, tedious, and time consuming task. Games from Mario Brothers to WarPlan have to tackle different problems but have an equal amount of complexity with its development. As a single person developing the game I had to hire out a fair portion of my art and music. But all the coding, UX design, and game design was just one person…. me.

WarPlan focuses on ease of use to allow players to spend more time playing and thinking. It allows many decision points in the scope of getting something while sacrificing something else in an abstract method. There are no decisions to be answered like Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa. Players must balance resources and management to fit the strategy the player wants to employ. When I play tested this myself to work out bugs in the A.I. I realized some strategy and tactics I could do within the game system that I didn’t intentionally create. My hope is that WarPlan is experienced by the players like a game of poker. You have limited information and resources to be creative and efficient. Players make strategic choices that build up next summer’s strategies. Your purchase and suggestions go towards influencing future versions of WarPlan. My goal is to create a better WW2 wargame experience. That is why I took my time developing this game. .

Alvaro Sousa, Kraken Studios

More Info

WarPlan

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