(Oh What A Lovely War to) End All Wars22 Aug 2014 0
It would probably be good if we start by asking you to tell us a bit about yourself and the people involved in the development of End All Wars, and how the game came about.
The End All Wars (EAW) team is made of 6 people. In no particular order, there is the game producer Tamas Kiss, who is in charge of overall coordination and QA. Then there are two artists, Massimo DelBono from Italy, working on portraits and units, and Nicholas Eskubi from Spain, working on the map and interface. Ben McJunkin is the original person working on the project, as it all started as a 1914 only campaign and evolved into a larger scope project. Finally, Philippe Thibaut is in charge of overall supervision and scenario fixing, and Philippe Malacher (Pocus) is in charge of coding and technical design.
I?m guessing that it is fairly obvious why the has been developed for release this year with the centennial anniversary of the start of WW1, however, it is a conflict that has been a bit neglected by games developers to date? It is hardly an inconsequential conflict, indeed it is a defining one, so why do you think it attracts so little game coverage?
There were some games around to be honest on the conflict, like Commander the Great War from the Lordz. EAW has a much deeper scale though, and is indeed here to fill a gap for a precise military simulation of the Great War. In people?s minds the Great War is mostly seen as a boring slugfest near the Belgium border, but this is much more than that. In doing this game we also wanted to give justice to the millions of men fighting in Russia, the Balkans, and in place far from Europe and the US, like Cameroon and China.
How long did it take to develop End All Wars? Has this been a longer or shorter time than you initially expected?
Game development is always longer than expected, even if you plan for a delay and then top it with an extra delay Seriously, the level of details we wanted while working on streamlining others parts of the game was a lot of work for all the team. Overall, it?s probably one year for 6 people, on average.
What have been the biggest challenges faced in developing the game? And conversely, which were the easiest parts?
For the code it was most definitively teaching the AI what was a front and how to behave when troop density reaches such high level that you have only one option, amass firepower and try to break the enemy position on a given point. The difficulty was also to balance several games mechanisms so that they are historical, fun, and easy to understand. We wanted some technological research for example, but it has to remain simple and focused, yet interesting to deal with.
The Ageod series of grand strategy games has proved successful, does End All Wars introduce any new mechanisms or features that we have not seen in previous games in the series?
There are a lot of little or not so little extra mechanisms, yes. We spoke of research, which leads to the use of tanks, storm troopers, combat gas and advanced planes or submarines. Some features are more discreet visually, but important nonetheless like sharing trenches network within the same region. In the background, the AI is making a much more intensive uses of new, non-visual, features that will enhance it greatly.
Which features of WW1 warfare were you especially keen to model, and why? If so which and what challenges did they pose to you during the development?
Everybody will think about trench warfare obviously. But in fact the feature was more or less already present in our engine. In 1918 the deadlock on the Western Front changed as new weapons and tactics were implemented. It was in particular challenging to represent the German?s new infiltration tactics and specially trained troops (the storm troops). We did not want to create kind of 'über' soldiers, and also it was important that the losses suffered by those key specialists be almost un-replaceable so their offensives have to be carefully planned and executed by the players. We managed to find a very inspired solution combining an unique assault troop unit with special infiltration features and a special game decision placed when they are present giving results similar to what happened in March 1918 for instance (if successful, Trench level will be reduced to almost nil, defenders will lose a lot of cohesion, and the storm troops will be more or less bloodied when opening the way to more standard troops).
WW1 was a truly global conflict, however, the Western Front gets most of the attention due to the sheer scale of the fighting and the horrific level of casualties. How have you balanced the need to represent the global scope whilst maintaining focus on the more significant areas?
Well, even if ?All is Quiet on the Western Front?, this is not always the case elsewhere as mentioned above. Indeed, most people ignore that there was a lot of action on the Eastern, Balkan and Middle East fronts. Or in Africa. The challenge for the Allied player is that they are split into 2 factions, the Western and Eastern Entente, which puts them in a difficult position to coordinate and gives to the player playing Russia a fun (and quite tense) game too. But also represents quite well the fact that some members of the ?alliance? could suffer differently (and the Germans can try an 'all-against-Russia' strategy). The conquest of ?peripheral? regions or sectors will similarly bring some hard to gain VP or changes in the will to fight, so they are not always as useless or vainglorious as they may seem: after all, Churchill's concept on the Dardanelles operation was brilliant, just miserably executed to become the fiasco we all heard of.
Game development inevitably involves compromise, are there any features that you wanted to include in End All Wars, but that didn?t make it to the release version?
Yes, we wanted to show more dynamically the trench lines and the shell explosions or gas attacks, but the work required to render it was beyond reach to have the game release in time for the war's 100 year anniversary.
As the developer, what are your favourite units in the game, and which do you think the players will enjoy using the most?
I love the German ?Stosstruppen? (see above), but also the ships and planes, all nations together. In fact, naval and air warfare receive a particular attention and so their units became kind of pets. I believe players will love the generals because all have their uniqueness - portraits, characteristics, such as Lawrence of Arabia, Von Lettow Vorbeck or even the beautiful Mata Hari - but probably those ?special? units as they will be thrilled to plan great offensives with tanks or shock troops, supported by triplane fighters or biplane bombers. Or they will delight in sending a few Zeppelins airships over London to bomb the Brits (the first Blitz could well have been 1917 and not 1940...).
Lastly, although End All Wars is not yet released players, are always wondering what the future for a game might hold ? are there any (tentative) ideas for the future, any planned additions to End All Wars for example?
We are not fully decided on our next project. We might revisit a previous classic, or on the contrary delve into a brand new subject, this is still debated. What is almost certain is that it will be set in the age of rifles and muskets, and that is exclusive information for the Wargamer.com readers!
Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions; I?m sure our readers will appreciate it.
You can find the End All Wars product page here.
And finally a few screenshots ?