One of the nice things about being a game designer is that you get to make the games you like. This is also rather important because part of the way you keep score is how many people buy your game, and if you wouldn’t play your own creation then who would?
So with that thought we went to work on the design of For the Motherland. One of the parts of particular interest to me in World War II was the convoy battles. My grandfather served on destroyers and landing craft. During the war itself he was at Normandy, part of the Royal Navy contingent for the Norwegian campaign and, in the context of this little developer diary, on the convoys.
I remember playing Hearts of Iron 2 and first I sent my German U-Boat out into the North Atlantic and found no convoys out there and as Britain, well, build a lot of convoys and ignore the U-Boats. So I put my head to this and put in a national unity effect for Convoys going down. In Hearts of Iron 3, the objective was to make the battle something a bit more than how many convoys you could build.
If all was perfect with the systems in Hearts of Iron 3, we would not be looking at expansions. However, as with all games of this scope there is always something more you can do. As you are all no doubt aware some members of the team jumped the gun with game features before they were finalised by the Game Designer (that’s me by the way). Although I suspect it may have been a plan to create popular pressure to force my hand (don’t be sheep here people). Anyway I diverge here; still we are not going to focus on the role that moths played in World War II in favour of doing more with the convoy battles.
The biggest goal I have is to move the convoy battle from off the Coast of French North Africa to the North Atlantic where it should be, with a secondary goal of seeing what pieces of flavour and immersion we could add to the game.
The first step it get the American selling more stuff to the British. We are looking at a rebalance of the resource system (still in progress) and set up the USA with reasons to sell stuff to Britain (and if the USA gets added reasons to sell oil to Japan then that is a bonus). I am deliberately short on detail here precisely because we are still working on this, seeking to get it as good as possible. Once we get British convoys sailing in the Atlantic we have step one achieved; the North Atlantic Convoy battle in the North Atlantic.
We can then move on to flavour and immersion and hopefully balance. The undeclared war was historically a gradual escalation of US involvement in World War II and came at a vital time for the Commonwealth Navies. The Battles in the Atlantic and Mediterranean stretched the Royal Navy to its limit. The escalating battle in the Atlantic was demanding resources at the precise time the Admiralty was casting about for assets to send to the Indian Ocean to build up the Eastern Fleet to meet the threat to Japan and Britain’s obligations to Australia and New Zealand. The war in the Atlantic was in danger of being lost. Roosevelt was determined that this was not going to happen; on the 10th September 1941 the US Navy entered the war.
We have a series of decisions that respond to the situation in the Atlantic and things like the perceived threat to the US and their alignment. These decisions allow the US to be hostile and to fight the Axis but not be at war them in an expanding area of the Atlantic Ocean. This is not only a cool piece of history we capture, we will hopefully add a nice piece of game balance. If the Axis does too well in the convoy battle the US fleet comes riding to the rescue, it should create more historical flow while we are it.
So that’s that for the second real and official developer diary for Hearts of Iron 3: For the Motherland, beware of imitations.
Here is a generic picture of a destroyer