“Oh no…not another WWII RTS game?” Well, actually developer Digital Reality and publisher CDV are not really offering another WWII RTS game with the upcoming title War Front: Turning Point. Instead this title is set just a few years later in an alternate timeline where the Nazis are still fighting and there are some interesting military advances. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with CDV lead producer Elmar Gruenenberg and Digital Reality lead developer Istvan Kiss to find out more about War Front.
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea come about for War Front: Turning Point?
: It started all with another WWII concept from DR (Digital Reality –the developers of War Front) that crossed my desk a few years ago. I had only been working two months or so with CDV, who are well known for their realistic WWII games, and so Digital Reality may have thought that sending in another realistic WWII concept they could get a production contract. But internally it was denied since CDV already had Codename: Panzers and Blitzkrieg in the pipeline. So I made up my mind to figure out "how can I pimp this concept to be a high potential game?" At that time I was a C&C Generals fanatic, and was actually pretty high on the ladder rankings. I wondered why nobody had ever built a WWII game focused on multiplayer with base building at its core. CDV had never had a WWII game that included base building, so this seemed to be one point in favor of my game idea. Another thing I realized was that CDV's titles usually were popular with hardcore audiences who craved realism, and the "rock, paper scissors" style of fast RTS gameplay didn't fit into that. This style of gameplay needs some modification so that the self-professed WWII experts don't pull their hair out when comparing units in the game vs the same unit in the real world. For example, there's no way a rifleman can take out a tank.
Anyway, neither CDV nor DR really wanted to do another WWII title. So, the next step was to change history entirely. I decided that we should add plenty of super-weapons, and a new historical timeline – one where Hitler is killed and Germany joins the Allies. This made several people happy, as we were getting a little tired of Germany always being the bad guy in games. Thus we made the communists the bad guys, which I thought would help get U.S. gamers interested, since in all other WWII RTS', you almost never get to have a showdown with the Soviets. We also threw around the idea of introducing aliens, zombies and other "monster" units, but none of those seemed to fit the game's context in any way.
FiringSquad: This game seems to have a lot of echoes of the Command and Conquer: Red Alert series. Is it safe to say that this game owes something to that classic game franchise?
: We all love C&C and all the big base-building RTS's like Warcraft and such. I think in that genre every base-builder RTS owes something to root ideas drawn from Dune2 or Herzog Zwei and even much older games. It's like with the shooters the innovation curve is very flat since Wolfenstein and Doom 1. – What we want to do is give the people a game that's. fun to play. Our goal is to reach the mass market and make a hell of a fun game and not focus on winning some game designer prize and end up going bankrupt doing it. The market tells us what they want or not and if they don’t want to learn have to learn an all new gameplay mechanic, then we won't bother trying to deliver one. – By the way, we do have some innovations like the first person bunker mode which gives you a damage and armor bonus when you sit inside. This allows plenty of new multiplayer strategies like the "bunker-rush". And there are other innovations in the game that won't wreck the classical (and appreciated) base builder gameplay.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the storyline for War Front?
: It’s a very fictional "what if?" scenario. Its starts with the occupation of England in the 40s. The US wipes them out, but D-day is not possible. Soon, the German resistance and American intelligence team up to kill Hitler. The Nazis are wiped out, the newly democratic Germany gets out of all occupied territories and becomes friendly with the Allies. There's a peace treaty about to be signed in Berlin, but the Communist Russians attack, as they think it's an easy way to enlarge their territory while a disorganized Germany is not able to resist the attack. But they didn't take our fictional heroes John Lynch and Roland Hellmann into consideration. The story is told not only within the missions we also have about 30 high quaility cutscenes which keep the story flowing.