November, December and January development progress report

Its about time for a news update on workname Empire.

Summing it up I finished the whole framework for the AI in November and the screen layouts in January. December was partly given over to both and partly out due to a trip with the girlfriend to New York and the seasonal celebrations.

While being in the Museum of Modern Art in New York I actually bumped into one exhibit that had a running version of Dwarf Fortress. I hope Bay 12 Games got paid as much as the artists who supplied the MoMa with their paintings. :) I took it as a good omen to bump into DF by chance at such a place.

Anyway lets get back on topic!

The AI is now playing the simple rules version of the game quite ok. It will definitely need some fine tuning but it is already enjoyable to fight it. It is amazing how much more fun it is to playtest a game when you don’t have to move the pieces for both sides.

Already with the simple rules there is a lot of sub tasks I had to teach the AI: attacking, defending, artillery use, reshuffling forces, garrisoning (is that a word?), pulling back mechanized units for repairs, reinforcing and merging infantry units, using transport units, spreading to different continents using cargo ships, using the military ships to either escort the cargo’s or attack the enemy navies, etc…

Actually I am for a big part writing this post in response to a post on PocketTactics.com and on the Matrix forums. People are wildly guessing what the topic will be of the next game and I decided to reveal it to stop all the wild speculations :)

There is a lot of people expecting VR to come up with another hex and counter-based historical game. They are not wrong since Decisive Campaigns 3 is in development as well, but the new workname Empire engine game is quite a different beast:

Workname Empire is set in a post-apocalyptic era on a distant planet.

Bazinga! I said it. Its a turn-based strategy game with exploration, research and intricate combat and logistics rules. It has hexes, but not counters. The initial tech levels will be reminiscent of mid 20th century technology, while the higher tech levels will be more in the science fiction era.

The post-apocalyptic setting is not chosen by accident. The game is in some ways not unlike my previous Advanced Tactics (or the original Empire) and I reasoned that this setting was best to explain an initially shrouded planetary map and owning a single city that can start cranking out world war II era-like forces like infantry, artillery and tanks.

Also VR went for a post-apocalyptic setting because it provides a lot of design space to create a unique game universe, story and player experience. Not saying there is no space for another world war 2 game, but there are already so many…

I prefer to make my more hardcore wargame engine Decisive Campaigns focus on simulating history and the new midcore engine on a more fantastic setting.

However don’t get me wrong: workname Empire might be a bit more simple concerning interface, flow and play than Advanced Tactics, it will very much be a blend between a strategy game and a wargame. There are frontlines there, entrenchment, supply bases, panzer encirclements, air support, concentric attacks, combined arms, landscape considerations, road networks, airfields, intercepts, opportunity fire, ambushes: everything that is necessary to create a game that rewards decent planning and outsmarting your opponent. Do not expect an infantry-only assault with twice the number of troops to break easily (or at all) through an entrenched enemy infantry line.

Still a lot of work to do. Next big tasks up are the map and units graphics and writing the full campaign story and designing all the scenarios for this campaign. Other two big tasks remaining after that are finishing up the AI and fine-tuning the gameplay, rules and stats (beta testing). Also I should mention that the game is planned to be released for tablets as well, but that those will come after the initial PC release. I just really prefer a PC release first approach since it allows me to focus on one platform at a time.

I’ll keep you all posted about the progress and although the near future probably will not reveal any specifics on story, units and graphics i’ll try to make some small posts the coming months talking about some specific new game mechanics like for example radiation, possible enemy presence (PEP) markers and the logistical nodes.

Best regards,
Vic

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5 Responses to November, December and January development progress report

  1. bearro says:

    I was hoping for a fantasy setting, but this sounds good too, an SF game with your great AI? Wonderful! PS. garrison is a verb too, yes :)

  2. Chris says:

    Best of luck on your new game but I will probably pass on this one.

  3. kaldadarnes says:

    Massively excited by this – sounds like all the fun of a classic Vic wargame in a great package…and on my iPad? Time to cancel my Economist subscription as I am done with reading on the train!

  4. Jeff says:

    Hrrm, sounding a bit like the Master of Orion series, but not really. Also sounds a bit like Alpha Centauri, which is/was a civ based game. Interesting.

  5. Jeff says:

    I’m curios to know how you get around having counters for units ?

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