Pride of Nations – Developer Diary 3 – Battle Scenarios
Most big strategy games now usually have one grand campaign scenario to play, and that’s about it. All the designers' efforts go into the “big one,” and the team's efforts focus almost exclusively on that scenario and its balance. Well, we have – almost – done the same in Pride of Nations.
But we also realized that our grand campaign is a huge endeavor, taking 1,680 turns to play, which is a huge amount of time, and that presents a challenge to the players. We are aware that quite a lot of players do not have that kind of time at their disposal and could feel frustrated by not being able to get into the game for a quick, interesting, and challenging session.
Similarly, we knew that there are a lot of small conflicts in the era covered by Pride of Nations that are quite unique and interesting to discover just for themselves. And we also wanted to tell those stories!
Last, but not least, it is always important for a development team to have a set of smaller scenarios available to run for quick testing or for checking whether new and old features alike are still running smoothly with the engine's ongoing developments and additions.
So we have decided that Pride of Nations would come with some battle scenarios to answer all the above questions and needs. They will be much shorter to play, between a dozen turns for the shortest to up to 100 for the longest. And we set our historical team on the tracks of which battles could be in the game…
In theory, there were dozens of potential candidates. But we had to select only a few, based on simple criteria: could we get accurate data for them, would they present an interesting and challenging scenario, would they become popular, had they been chosen for other games before, etc…?
After a few months, the list and team was almost complete: for original subjects, we chose the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 to tell a story of revolts and colonial battles from a theater of operation with exotic appeal (India). In addition, the game is short and quick, a good introduction for trying the land operations and military part of the game.
We also chose the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905 (71 turns), as in addition to not being dealt with before, it offered the additional challenge of naval operations (combat, naval transportation, and amphibious landing). That one scenario was just great, especially when it came time for us to adjust battleship combat and combined operation AI. In the same spirit, we planned to have the Spanish-American War of 1898, but a lack of time for proper testing makes it doubtful that it will make it in the initial release; however, it will most likely be included in a future expansion. A work in progress is also well underway on the Second Boer War of 1899 and on the Nile Campaigns 1885-1898, but we are not certain that they will make it in the final version.
Among the ‘popular’ category (i.e., well-known battles sometimes already in other games), we have the infamous US Civil War. Of course, this one will never be as detailed or as precise as a game solely dedicated to the subject, but it is still a tough challenge; for players who will tackle the USA in the Grand Campaign, it might prove to be a very interesting training ground. In the same spirit, we have added the Austro-Italian War of the Risorgimento 1859, the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877.
One last ‘monster’ battle scenario has been prepared (and we use it extensively for engine tests) on the Guns of August – WW1, 1914-1918. This is probably a challenge equivalent to the game’s Grand Campaign, so full it is of armies. At the moment, there is intense debate within the team to see whether we will make this one a short scenario on the war’s first months, or if we will try to recreate the whole conflict. Typically, this is the kind of critical decision a development team has to make rather early, as such a project is bound to consume huge human resources and blocks of time, and we may never be sure in the end that the result meets the challenge.
Anyway, news will be regularly given on our progress on all of the above in order to get our community’s opinion!