And we will name you: Shadow Empire

Just a quick note. I finally can stop cautious talk about ‘Workname Empire’. I have decided on a final name. The name for my new engine is ‘Shadow Empire’.

Like it or hate it… names are like that. Most important thing is probably that I like it myself and that it is a flexible title concerning time periods. If the first game works well I can use the same name for different settings as well.

As you will find out in the future the name is actually tied in with the story for the campaign.

And as you may have noticed I have switched my development updates to Twitter. But planning to write a few articles on mechanics soon.

Best wishes,

Posted in Shadow Empire | 1 Comment

Art director/artist wanted for 2D hex based postapocalyptic strategy game

Artists wanted at Slitherine/Matrix/Ageod

Specifically looking for a talented Art Director/Artist to lead on the look and feel of an upcoming strategy game.

The game is a 2D hex based post apocalyptic strategy/4X game. We are looking for someone to provide concept art, art direction, plus generating all in game art assets.

The game universe is situated on a distant planet in the far future. After a huge interstellar war and a nuclear apocalypse this planet has dropped back in to the dark ages. The player is leading one of the resurgent forces trying to re-establish order, technology and civilization. Tech level starts at savage mid 20th century level and ramp all the way up into early sci-fi stages.

It’s a turn based game with influences from classic games like Civilization, Empire and Advance Wars. Game features include among others: random planetary maps, shroud & fog of war, research, morph able map and construction, multiplayer support, leaders with stats and skills, story driven campaign, logistics and a supply system.

This will be a substantial multi-month project. It is possible that the role may be split into a number of roles with a concept artist guiding the style and other artist/s creating the actual in game content but the ideal candidate would be able to fulfill all roles.

Interested applicants should send an email to with a link to their portfolio.

Here is the link to the original job-add:

Best regards,

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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 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,

Posted in Shadow Empire, Upcomming releases | 5 Comments

Scenario in the spotlight: Global Domination 1938

Although a recent poll showed only a quarter of our visitors play PBEM I still want to put this scenario for Advanced Tactics Gold in the spotlight.

Its my (VR) way of giving a little hommage to the hard work of some modders/designers. It has been recently updated to version 2.10 and has been in construction over the last years. If you like PBEM gaming its really worth a try.

Global Domination 1938, is designed by Claus E. Fussel (ernieschwitz) and Bombur. It is also inspired by Tom Webers World at War scenario. Currently it is in version 2.10, and is only playable as a multiplayer game, with no AI. The game starts in 1938 on the 10th of January.

Features include:
· 8 major countries, and 48 minor countries on a global map
· Minor countries can be influenced by diplomatic cards, such as Coup, Diplomatic Discord and Diplomatic Action.
· Minor countries have preferences to who they like and drift naturally towards some major country.
· Random events will sometimes cause countries to dislike you more or less.
· 170 research fields, some available only after a certain date, and some only to certain major countries.
· Some researches result in unique units for each regime, for instance fighters are highly personalized for each major country.
· 390 different types of Subformation types. Some only available to certain nations.
· Research “leaks” as it is developed, making it cheaper for other nations to research it.
· United States is in a state of Isolationism, but can still develop, although cannot join the war until it has been either attacked or wakes from this state.
· Alternative history is possible and highly encouraged in play.


Matrix Forums last update notes on scenario
Download location of scenario on the scenario bank

Do you think a scenario warrants some time in the spotlight? don’t hesitate to comment or mail VR Designs at

Best Regards,

Posted in Advanced Tactics (gold) | Leave a comment