Every now and then a game comes along that takes a concept and brings it to a whole new playing field. Heroes & Generals may just do that for the WWII first-person shooter. The indie game is set in a consistent world where Generals decide an overall strategy and when and where to attack, while other players fight the battles on the ground.
The game has fantastic graphics and a massive world that sticks as closely to history as possible. The ranking system will determine how much say each player has over the direction of their squads, and the war itself. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jacob Andersen, game director at Reto.Moto, about what we can expect from Heroes & Generals.
TechZwn: This game looks really epic. It seems you’re trying to replicate the progression of a real war, rather than just have players jump straight into unrelated matches. I’m curious why you’ve decided to create a FPS that works with a system like this. Could you talk about this a bit – how do you think it can add to what’s currently out there?
Andersen: Our background as developers is from 3D-action games like ‘Hitman’ and ‘Freedom Fighters’ but we wanted to go with FPS rather than 3rd person this time because we felt that 1st person gives a better experience, when the game is all about the action. ‘Hitman’ worked well in 3rd person because so much of the action was slow paced and up-close (strangling the targets etc.) and when precision aiming was needed we always switched to 1st person (scoped rifles etc.).
When we left IO Interactive we did it to try out new ways of making games. We wanted to create a multiplayer game, where the use of the internet and mobile connectivity was a key part. After a series of design discussions we settled on a WW2 shooter as the base, but with strategic command played through the mobile and internet apps. Obviously it turned out to be a bigger task than we thought it would, but I think we are well on our way now.
The idea that players taking part in the strategic decisions affect other players and that the actions performed by players in combat have an influence on the strategy is very exciting. You could have a shitty job in the day time, but when you come home you’re in command of thousands. You can even check up on your forces on your mobile phone during lunch break.
TechZwn: You mention a rank system and add the officers will have control over the entire map, which decides the moves the team below them will take. I’m curious whether player roles will also change with other ranks, like having squad leaders, mission leaders, and so on.
Andersen: Basically the game is split into 2 sections. The action game and the strategy part. In the action game it is pretty simple ranking. The most experienced player will be offered the role of squad leader. We have talked about a 2IC (Second-in-Command) as well but haven’t really found much for to do for that role yet.
In the strategic game your rank will be determined by the amount of other players ‘below’ you. All players can create Assault Teams (the small combat units that actually trigger action games by attacking other Assault Teams) or Commands (higher-level unit that is used for organizing and distribution of resources to the Assault Teams).
An Assault Team can call for reinforcements every time men or tanks are lost. If you are just a single Assault Team with no command structure you will be given a small amount of resources. If you have assigned your Assault Team to a Command you will get a bonus of more resources (so you can fight more). The more Assault Teams under a Command, the more resources the Command is given from High Command.
This mechanism forces strategic players to cooperate and organize themselves to maximize the amount of resources given to them from High Command. A large part of the strategic game is to move the right resources to the right place in time.
The ‘High Command’ is controlled by the (at the moment) 10 players with the most other players below them. High Command is in control of production so they can decide if it is tanks or planes that needs producing.
TechZwn: You showed scenes from one of the city squares in a demo video, mentioning there will be interconnected city squares (you mention Berlin will have somewhere around 80). Why did you choose to have them interconnected? Could you talk about this some – how will the missions use the interconnected maps, and will players be able to join battles elsewhere?
Andersen: The interconnected maps of a city is basically created to make cities hard to conquer. City maps have a tendency to become very chaotic gaming experiences so we have divided the cities in smaller sections to make it less confusing. A city can take days (or weeks) to conquer and it would give some problems if a game map was locked in combat for that long. This also gives players a change to fight other missions as well.
TechZwn: The game has a real-time, day and night system, and you’re building a dynamic weather system. I’m curious what your thoughts are about what this will add to the game – you mention secret night missions behind enemy lines.
Andersen: Day and night plays a huge part in the action game. It’s very hard to fight at night but for our demolition missions it’s perfect. Dropping behind enemy lines in parachute to blow up some bridges, severing enemy supply lines before the next day’s assault is a scenario we are working on.
Changing the light or fog on a map also affects the way it is played in a great way.
TechZwn: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Andersen: Already now I can thank the guys writing suggestions and comments on the game on our community forum. It’s great for us to know what the players think! So sign up for an alpha-key if you wish to help us make Heroes & Generals a great game.