Summary: JCal hits up the War Front: Turning Point developers for an interview and a massive collection of screenshots. Check out these high-res babies inside!
FiringSquad: First, how did the idea come about for War Front: Turning Point?
Elmar Gruenenberg: 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?
Elmar Gruenenberg: 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?
Elmar Gruenenberg: 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.
Elmar Gruenenberg: In single player you can play the US and Germans, as each has their own campaign. In multiplayer you are able to play also the Russians. Every faction has a unique tech-tree, units and special quirks.
FiringSquad: What will the single player campaigns and missions like for War Front?
Elmar Gruenenberg: We have beautiful levels like Moscow, London and Berlin. There will also be some secret missions you will unlock as you play. We have a single player Internet ladder ranking system, so you have a reason to also the single player campaign again and again. The cutscenes are connected to the goals of missions; in-game dialogs boost the entertainment value. We have a wide range of mission types like commando missions and base building. We also have some civilians running around, trees moving in the breeze, plenty of detailed objects and some flora and fauna – all of which makes the levels feel alive. So I am sure everyone will find something to love in the game.
FiringSquad: What are some of your favorite units to use in the game?
Elmar Gruenenberg: That’s a hard question since we have plenty of cool units, but I like the Russian ice-spitter-tank the most. It uses a liquid nitrogen cannon which freezes buildings and units. While they are frozen, it's very easy (even with weak troops) to destroy even powerful units quickly. Another unit I like is the shield generator from the US side. It projects a Star Wars-like force field around itself and nearby units. And of course I like the super-zeppelin which is like a huge battleship in the skies – you better run when it is closing in. Last but not least I really like using the super weapons like the Nuke, Earthquake bomb and the Frostbomb. There are plenty more - just check out our multiplayer demo we will be releasing in August.
FiringSquad: What multiplayer options are there in the game?
Elmar Gruenenberg: Besides the standard "destroy the last enemy" base building mode, we have an option to add in "crazy crates" where you can find bonuses like new units, money or even an artillery officer. Other options allow you to set a limit on the size of armies, switch off the super weapons, switch off the ability to rush and many more.
FiringSquad: What other unique gameplay elements are there in War Front?
Elmar Gruenenberg: Every faction has a bridge builder unit which allows some sneaky backdoor tactics over rivers which normally can't be crossed. Another feature is the terrain deformation, so big bombs make craters where enemy units are slowed down We have a dynamic day and night cycle, along with features like releasing flares, which help your troops gain line of sight bonuses at night. I think the coolest gameplay feature is the first-person bunker mode where you can sit in an anti-aircraft or anti-armor bunker, and are in control of it like in a first person shooter. This is not only fun but has an actual impact on the gameplay - if you take direct control of the bunker, you first will gain a slight balancing bonus since you're not going to be able to control your troops while in the bunker. The bunker's guns also do extra damage while you're in control of the bunker. Also, if your enemy destroys the bunker you are sitting in, he gains a bonus which can really be a pain.. So we have some innovations on top of the classical RTS gameplay - without trying to reinvent the wheel.
Istvan KissWe are using an engine developed in-house that has a great deal of modern features like per-pixel lighting, high quality dynamic shadows, high quality landscape visualization, an effect system with several kinds of sub-effect types (particle systems, etc), an atmosphere system (dynamically changing lights from dawn till night, changing clouds depending on logic-controlled weather), a trigger system for scripting levels, a fast asynchronous pathfinder, real-time physics and many more.
Our main goal was to beat every other competing base-builder RTS in terms of graphics and visual impressions. To achieve this goal we set the following objectives for ourselves:
In terms of cut-scenes, the most important highlight is that all the have been created with the game engine.We are using CSM (cascaded shadowmaps) for higher quality dynamic shadows, ATI and Nvidia hardware possibilities for rendering fast shadows (PCF, Fetch4), per-pixel lighting for dynamic lights (including directional, point and spot lights) and we can render a large amount of lights at high FPS, which gives a good atmosphere for the levels. We use two kinds of physics: a rigid body physics system developed in-house, and a brand new atmosphere simulation. Wind, explosions, helicopters, sonic weapons and some other things as well create atmospheric effects that affect physical objects, particles generated by the effect system, or, for example, the movement of trees. Physics have an indirect effect on game logic. For example, planes behave differently in a storm, and the physics engine helps to visualize this.
FiringSquad: Will there be a demo of the game released and if so what will its contents be?
Elmar Gruenenberg: Next will be a multiplayer demo and (of course) later a single player demo which will be out close to the game's release in September.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the status of the game's progress and when will it be released?
Elmar Gruenenberg: The team is progressing very well at the moment we are close to content complete, which gives us time for improving the performance, bug fixing and to polish the pathfinding.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about War Front: Turning Point?
Elmar Gruenenberg: Check out the demos when they become available – this game is really special!!!
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