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 Post subject: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: March 12th, 2014, 11:59 am 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 2:55 am
Posts: 155
One hundred years ago, civilisation destroyed itself.

Yup, I'm talking about the centenary of the First World War. Now, regardless of whether you think it was a bloody folly or a misunderstood victory one thing is for certain: WWI games suck.

There's the occasional mediocre FPS mod and one or two really boring strategy games but the only genre which has succeeded is the WWI flight sim.

So, in honour of the cataclysm I thought I'd open a thread for us all to talk about how to make a good WWI game.

Or just to post inspirational images, videos and music if you want.

I'll start off with this, an extract from a 1920s British war drama - docudrama really - about the Battle of the Somme.

Oh, and the guy playing Victoria Cross winner Corporal T.W.H. Veale is...T.W.H. Veale.

(The Victoria Cross winning action starts around the 18 minute mark).



Notice how everyone moves -- carefully, using terrain, low to the ground. None of the standing-upright, walking in lines beloved of modern films.


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: March 12th, 2014, 12:44 pm 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 2:55 am
Posts: 155
I'm going to start easy, with the WWI flight sim:

(This is a re-worked version of my Red Baron design reboot).

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This is a game about men who flew up to the stars...and fell.

We all know the myth of the First World War flyer: Happy chaps in fur coats, with silk scarves and abundant wit; the chivalry of the air -- contrasting with the horror of the ground war; champagne behind the lines and bravery in the skies.

Balls to all that.

This is a Derek Robinson story. This is about men being pushed to their limits. This is about total war. This is about killing.

(If you don't know who Derek Robinson is -- he's a British writer of aviation novels. They're very funny...and very grim. Most of the cast usually die.)

The player is a squadron leader. Emphasis on the leader part. This is about making decisions. Hard decisions.

Forget the glory in the air. Start on the ground.

First up, you've got to build your airfield. This is about running a successful squadron. You need accommodation, repair shops and a mess. Later on - with time, aerial victories and kudos from HQ - you might want to add anti-aircraft guns, air-raid shelters, training facilities and other useful buildings.

As you'd expect, people work better with somewhere to sleep and a couple of drinks.

Next up, you've got your pilots and ground crew.

This is a war so you get what you're given, although you can cash in favours to swap useless people out or to get better ones. Everyone on base has RPG style progression - or regression - and characterisation.

So, your ground crew might be dedicated...or they might be lazy. One poor repair job and your pilot can end up as dead as he would at the hands of a German flier. Similarly, the pilots are a mixed bag. They can be eager young public school boys, cynical drunks, kill-crazy veterans or over-enthusiastic stunt fliers. And yes, one poorly performed barrel roll or landing can kill a pilot as easily as the Germans.

You have to mix the crews, choose the flights and generally do your best with what you're given. There is no perfect squadron...and if there ever was, you can guarantee your best ace would quickly drive his car into a ditch whilst racing between missions and kill himself.

Pilots die. A lot.

Next, you've got your machines.

The game can start in a given year or begin in 1914. There's chronological progression, which means that the machines you use will change several times over the course of any given game. So will the enemy. There will be times when you have better machines than them and times when they do. There's nothing you can do about this. New machines aren't always good -- new machines always cause accidents, and some are simply too difficult to use without lots of accidents. You can request new machines -- but you'll need favours or a reputation to get them first.

In fact, your first casualties will probably happen without you ever seeing a German. Accidents are common.

Now you can finally go on a mission.

Only, it probably won't be about just dogfighting. Squadrons have specific missions, not just orders to kill. You might be patrolling, trying to dominate air space. You might be attacking enemy observation balloons, strafing trenches and logistics - trains, trucks, ammo dumps etc. - or even raiding enemy airfields. Or you might be trying to stop the enemy doing just that to your side. You could be trying to take down a Zeppelin - no easy thing - or guarding your own bombers. You might be performing a reconnaissance for the benefit of the troops in the trenches or directing friendly artillery fire against enemy troops in their trenches. In extreme cases you might even be sneaking spies in Belgium or defending your airfield from an enemy sneak attack.

But you won't get to pick the mission.

HQ hands them out, and expects them to be carried out. No matter if the whole squadron has already flown a sortie and is knackered. This is an attritional war. RPG style, pilots and ground crew can become tired. They get slower, the pilot's vision blurs and gunfire will be less accurate. In other words, they're much more likely to get killed.

Too bad.

Like the play Journey's End - or the film Aces High, which provides the image above - this is all about getting the most from tired men and learning to fight even when you're not ready. And sometimes the cold logic of war means that men die because there wasn't time to nap.

Stress plays a part too. The longer men are in combat, the better they get. But after a while, most of them start to get worse. Their reactions slip, their emotions become hair-trigger, they can't sleep.

Oh, and by the way, you can run out of fuel - I hope you learnt to glide - or run out of ammo or even have your gun jam. As Clausewitz would say, friction is everything. Stuff goes wrong and you have to deal with it.

And when your pilots - or ground crew - die, they stay dead. All that experience, gone.

Which means you might be tempted to save them and send out the raw recruits on suicide missions or to use them as bait. After all, if they die, it isn't much of a loss.

Your choice.

You can order pilots to return home if they're low on fuel/ammo or wounded -- but there's no guarantee they won't get picked off as a straggler on the way home or even bleed out and die in the cockpit. The further you are from an airfield, the greater the chance of not making it home -- especially if you're over enemy territory.

In fact, you can die. There's permadeath. Which means the next ranking officer takes over and you'll have to start building up their stats now. When you die you get a firing party and a grave. If you're really good, your enemies might even do a fly past and drop a wreath.

Along the way they'll be a few bits of chrome to keep you happy. Airplanes can be painted in unique colour schemes and aces can gain all kinds of special skills. The mess will be navigable in 3D and decorated with trophies of all the engagements you fought -- and of photos and mementos of all the pilots who died. Medals will be awarded for special victories.

There is no final victory -- only survival till the war ends.

Then you're confronted by the statistics. How many you killed. How many of you were killed.

Well done, you lived to see the peace.


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: March 13th, 2014, 6:57 am 
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Joined: November 22nd, 2010, 4:06 pm
Posts: 307
World War 1 was the original grimdark. Even though other wars had more casualties there's something uniquely horrifying about WWI. All the hardware is made from thick obtrusive cast metal and all the battlefields are moonscapes.

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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: March 13th, 2014, 8:38 am 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 3:46 am
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Location: Moscow
Back to a tyme when men were MEN; guns were GONNES; and you were as POORE as you were OIRISH.


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: March 17th, 2014, 12:38 pm 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 2:55 am
Posts: 155
The wonderful paintings of the Paul Nash. I always though the (Vorticist) style would make for a cool side-scrolling game:
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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: April 10th, 2014, 11:50 pm 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 8:13 pm
Posts: 715
Location: Hvarfheim
Hark! A Vagrant!
Attachment:
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bishopsm.png [ 169.74 KiB | Viewed 8806 times ]


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: April 11th, 2014, 10:45 am 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 2:55 am
Posts: 155
Another exciting WWI visual image -- dazzle camouflage:

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If you don't already know, the British invented dazzle camouflage during the First World War as a defence against U-boats; the strange painted shapes (supposedly) made it harder to aim at.


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: April 11th, 2014, 5:20 pm 
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Joined: October 11th, 2010, 3:46 am
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Location: Moscow
Those look FABULOUS.


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: June 8th, 2014, 5:55 am 
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Joined: September 14th, 2011, 5:10 pm
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Imagine a whole fleet of those fuckers, that would be a once in a lifetime spectacle. I think an FPS is the way to go with a ww1 game, to really bring home the Grimdark nature of the conflict.
But it would have to be an open world ish type adventure, rather than some bullshit COD game, slow pace exploration, interspersed with horrifying set pieces, people drowning in mud, sawing off diseased limbs etc.

It would be beautifully awful.

Waiting for the whistle as dawn rises over a smokey battlefield in the few moments silence after the preceding artillery barrage is such a harrowing experience it would seem an obvious choice for a war game.

Darkchild


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 Post subject: Re: WWI Centenary Game Reboot
PostPosted: June 8th, 2014, 10:01 am 
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Joined: October 23rd, 2010, 6:49 am
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Location: Zagreb
Saw recently some documentary about the fall of the Austro-hungarian empire and the birth of PTSD in WWI. How the emperor just said "Fuck it, we can't win, but at least we can go out like an empire." Then he locked himself in his room and didn't want to make any decisions regarding the war. Left it all to some general noble or whatever who persuaded him it was a good idea to go to war. And this guy was apparently not on speaking terms with the German commander and had different views on how to win, his goal was Italy while the German guy wanted to go west. Footage of people with never before seen mental disabilities wasn't very pretty.


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