Lock n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad

By Wargamer Staff 15 Jan 2014 0

Firstly thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions; I?m sure our readers will appreciate it.

So, Lock ?n Load as a PC game ? some people will be asking why it?s taken so long  What has been the thinking and the process of bringing the game to the PC?

Mark. It takes as long as it takes. Folks always harp on deadlines and delivery. I understand their frustration, but it is what it is.

Tom: There's just a lot of stuff involved with all games. Starting with a set of existing board game rules only gives us a target to shoot for - it doesn't really save development time as there are so many other aspects involved with finishing a project of this scope.  In addition, I have to say that we ended up really needed someone to coordinate things, and Erik turned out to be that person. He started helping us about 18 months ago and things really went a lot smoother with his assistance.


For those who are unaware can you give readers an overview of what the game is about and the style of gameplay. What do you think makes this game unique and attractive to gamers?

Mark. Lock ?n Load is a squad-level, impulse-driven game. Players alternate impulses with the AI (or other players). In your impulse you can active a hex, or in some cases more than one hex, to move or fire with those units. The units include squads, leaders, medics, heroes, cute nurses, machineguns, little girls, T-34s, MKIVs, and even planes, not to mention the stuff we aren?t going to mention. 

Tom:  I like to think that it is one of the most faithful translations of a board to computer game out there. The computer is there for convenience and to provide an opponent, but the counters, maps, dice, and rules are just like the board game.


What would you say have been the main challenges in developing a PC version of Lock ?n Load compared to developing a boardgame? Has the process been much different?

Mark: The process is hugely different. I?ve written books, novels, designed award-winning board games, and deployed explosive ordnance disposal diver detachments to the Persian Gulf. Developing a PC game is much more difficult. 

Tom: There have been several challenges from the programming side.  Multiplayer is always complicated in any project, so that isn't unexpected, though it has eaten up a lot of time. The main surprises for me actually came out of the inherent simplicity of the Lock 'n Load rules.  The melee rules, for example, looks simple on paper, but getting it to work smoothly in the game was actually sort of tricky due to the way the engine works.  But one of the reasons I wanted to do this project is because it was a nice, simple game system that was easy to learn, and that ended up creating a major challenge with the AI.  It turns out with a nice simple game system it's really easy for the player to tell when the AI does something stupid.  So the main challenge for me has definitely been the AI.  In addition, we did some fairly extensive changes to the interface and game flow after initial testing.  This created a good deal of additional work but will hopefully ultimately be worth it.


Design always involves compromise, so has there been anything you?ve had to leave out of the PC game that you?d really have rather been able to include?

Mark: No, not at all. In fact, the PC game includes more than the board game. For example, the PC game includes flanking fire, a type of fire that grants a bonus when a target is attacked from multiple directions ? something that would be much too difficult to track with the boardgame. I would have liked to include more of a story, but it was impractical in HoS, perhaps in the next one. 

Tom:  The goal for me was to not omit or change any rules of the boardgame.  I think most of the stuff that got changed was actually clarification of rules.  It's a small list of actual changes ...  I think snipers are different.


Similarly, are there things that a PC version has allowed you to do that you just couldn?t include in a boardgame?

Mark: Yep. See above.

Tom: There are a few scenarios that do things that would be not feasible in the boardgame.  One has a bunch of artillery coming down all the time.  Hidden units and randomized placement of units is also easier on the computer.  In the campaigns, you can upgrade some units, which technically would be possible in a board game but wouldn't be as clean, with the numbers changed on the counters and such.


The mobile game market is currently an area where there is continued expansion, especially as mobile devises get more and more capable. Are there any plans for a mobile version of the game, or will this just be a PC release?

Mark: No plans as of yet, but we (LNLP) will be soon announcing plans for a iPad version of one of our other titles.


Am I right in saying that this is just a single player game? Any thoughts about a 2 player version? 

Mark: No, you aren?t right [Ed. ? oops]. There is a multiplayer version. Two players can play head to head over the Interweb. There are specially designed multiplayer scenarios.


I know the game has not yet been released, however, any future plans for the Lock ?n Load franchise is respect of computer games?

Mark: Absolutely. We intend to one day rule the world with Lock ?n Load. You will be required to play Lock ?n Load before you are allowed to play any other games. Your children will be required to learn LnL before they learn to read. So yeah, we have plans, but we can?t talk about them yet.

Tom: I will defer comments to the Emperor of the New Lock 'n Load Imperial Hegemony.


Finally, a chance for the team to get a name check and recognition. Who is involved and what does each do?

Erik Rutins: Producer, helps with focus, coordinates assets.

Mark Walker: Whines and moans. Designs games.

Tom Proudfoot: The workhorse. Without Tom, there would be no game.




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