23 April 2014

Editorial: Time of Fury - Developers Diary Part 2

Wargamer is proud to bring Part 2 of the developer diary from Wastelands Interactive, a Polish developer that is bringing a deep and massive World War II strategy experience in Time of Fury.

Published on 22 MAR 2011 1:12pm by Scott Parrino
  1. world war ii, air combat, ground combat, turn-based, armor combat, strategic, europe, naval combat

This second part of the developer diary comes straight from our friends at Wastelands Interactive in Poland, so English is not their first language, so please excuse any confusion. Enjoy!

For a very long time we were trying to figure out how to manage naval part of the game and make it fun for a player. We have decided that, as in a real life, fleet management should differ a lot from managing land units, which move over the hexes. It took many days to realize that putting individual ships or fleets on just a single hex would be a step back.

Most of us agreed that using sea zones will be the best option from the logical point of view and will enhance the gameplay. Iíll try to explain why we feel and think that way.

First of all we have realized* that even quite small fleet is operating on area much larger than one hex. On the other hand those vessels are quite small targets when compared to the whole Armored Corps.

Second thing is that it is very hard to meet two enemy fleets on such a small area as a single hex. Itís just couple hundreds of square kilometers.

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Additionally given that each turn takes a week (for Campaign) leaving a fleet at a small area would go against reality where fleets operated on large zones and were able to patrol quite a big chunk of seas.

Another thing we wanted to avoid is creating a front line made by naval units anchored in strategic points next to each other. It was very easy to imagine whole English Channel covered with single naval groups just to block enemy movement.

Those were main reasons why we decided to create sea zones that covers few tens of thousands of square kilometers each. As many of my colleagues, I think this solution is the best for the game strategy levels. For smaller scenarios where each turn lasts shorter or the scale of the game is different, we adjusted sea zones in order to allow fleets to operate on a level which fits land and air actions.

As soon as we have decided what the level of management will be we moved to the next part that was units behavior. Under this statement I mean how both humanís and AIís units react if an enemy is spotted or when a fleet wants to spot an enemy.

There are two most important switches for fleets. Those are raiders vs regulars and evade vs engage. First of them determines focus of a fleet. If a fleet is set on regular itís going to act as a one entity, where every vessel becomes part of the greater being. Raiders for contrary are operating as a lonely units, which allows them to find enemy convoys, but also makes them much more vulnerable when they are caught by enemy forces. This is the most important reason why raiders are always set to evade mode. Fleets in this mode try to evade enemy forces, which means in gameplay terms that they are harder to spot. Also regular fleets can operate in two modes. Evade, which causes them to be much less willing to chase enemy and also in engage that makes them trying to intercept every enemy contact.

We have found that with those simple settings we are able to simulate almost all behaviors of the fleets. Some of them might be used to cripple enemy supply lines, some to chase enemy raiders, or enemy fleets, and others to defend own coast. With the combination of air carriers able to strike deep into the land and air cover over sea zones provided by land based fighters, we have found that the naval warfare quite well simulates the real world. Of course the final word can be told during the naval battle. I have lost many battles just because I selected wrong targets for my naval groups or not decided to withdraw units which were severely damaged, but of course on the other hand I won couple of them just by the lucky airstrikes.

As you can see we have put a lot of effort to the naval part of the game, tried to make it deep, simple to manage and fun to play.

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As you might imagine, developers are playing their games a lot. And this is truth. But of course not everybody spends the same amount of time with the pure playing. Usually programmers are checking whether features they just coded works as described**. Map makers check if the map looks like it should, and the research guys taking a quick look whether units are placed at a proper place. Designers spent much more time on playing the game. I, for example, have got something like thirty games purchased last year and played them less than an hour. Just because lack of time.

Most of the time spent on playing Time of Fury in my case, has been spent on the struggle between Germany and Soviet Union. The frontline has been very, very long and this means many units and even more battles to handle. After some time I realized that checking the battle report is time consuming. In my opinion too much time consuming. I didnít need so detailed information about what has happened.

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When we have meet to discuss this issue, it took as around 20 seconds to agree that we need a new feature that will also allow to simply present what is happening on the screen and during the battle. The idea of the solution has been brought next morning by Maciej who is a lead programmer at Wastelands Interactive. He has proposed that we should make a simple floating numbers and text that will appear above the unit and explain what has happen. For the first time I thought itís going to be too simple, but we gave this a green light.

Today I canít imagine Time of Fury without that feature. In easy way Iím informed who and how attacked me and what were the losses during that action.

The thing that is not so cool and spectacular but very useful is units swapping. Keeping SHIFT key pressed, when moving a unit allows it to switch the places with any adjacent unit that didnít move that turn. Gosh, I needed such thing so badly when my German troops were storming Moscow, but unfortunately it was not yet implemented then. Iíve got weak unit in the first line and pretty strength just behind them, but I didnít have possibility to withdraw them due to the limited Action Points. Also I must admit that when this swapping has been implemented I have got much easier task than in real life, when I was trying hold German offensive in France during Fall Gelb. I just changed almost all fortified units with fresh ones.

For the whole time we are doing our best to make Time of Fury game that will provide you with a lots of fun and many hours of gameplay.

Thank you for reading second part of the developers diary for Time of Fury.

*Very often during the development process you are discovering some obvious things how the world is made.

** I hope you have found why I used word Ďdescribedí, instead of Ďdesignedí

Time of Fury was announced back in January and is aiming for an April 15th release this year. The price is still TBD, keep an eye out on Wargamer for news!