“D-Day” Puts the Pain of War into Real-Time Strategy
From the makers of Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps, D-Day is set to drop an explosion of entertainment.
“Destroy the tanks! They’ll squash us like bugs if we don’t!”
You fight for a cause, for a freedom that you wish to retain.
“Lieutenant Charlton, Lieutenant Charlton!”
But evil never goes away. Not completely. Even when the battle is over, victory cannot be fully appreciated. It cannot be appreciated or cherished because no matter what lives will be lost.
D-Day is a real-time strategy game that takes us back to World War II.
While D-Day is primarily an RTS, it combines tactical elements and a pause feature that set apart from other games in the genre. The developers spent a lot of time studying WWII, hoping to make the game as true to the war as possible. The only time the game is not accurate is when it may have interfered with the gameplay.
The warfare begins before the end of summer, but you don’t have to wait till then for more details. David Hockley, producer at Monte Cristo Games, hopped in a jet, flew to our top-secret headquarters and debriefed us on their mission.
All of D-Day's events are said to be historically accurate. What did it take to achieve this? How much additional research, development time, etc., was necessary?
David Hockley: D-Day is mostly historically accurate although some changes were made where realism impinged on playability. Thanks to our collaboration with Normandie Mémoire, we had a first hand insight into these historical battles and they helped us with our research. The association gave us access to valuable background information, which we've transcribed into the game: all missions start with a animated map and a briefing explaining the historical background; vehicles and soldiers are designed using real-life units' characteristics; [and] an encyclopedia with extensive descriptions of each unit's history is included in the game. As for additional resources, we've filmed interviews with D-Day veterans and local inhabitants, whose testimonies will plunge players back into this turning-point of history. We have also integrated mini-films from historical archives.
What is the "Normandie Memoire" association and what should its approval of the game mean to players?
DH: "Normandie Mémoire 60me anniversaire" is a non-profit association. Its aim is to promote remembrance by organizing, coordinating and promoting the operation and development of sites, museums and events that are linked in some way to D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Normandie Mémoire has chosen D-Day as a tool for remembrance, as they believe that this game will help players from all age groups to better understand the liberation of Normandy. Its approval is a guarantee of the game's quality and historical relevance.
Great balls of fire.
How does the historical factor affect the game-play? Not all of the real battles were a win-win situation. Most were very horrific, and even though the end result was freedom, there was a lot of misery before that was achieved.
DH: That is correct. As I mentioned, we've tried to focus on playability in the way the levels were designed, and we decided early on that communicating the misery of the battlefield in terms of gameplay (e.g. the player getting his units slaughtered) would be counter-productive. We decided to focus on communicating the historical background through the atmosphere and appearance of the battlefields, and of course through the archive footage and the testimonies of the veterans, who are not just realistic, but very much real. Also we've taken pains to present the true story of how the battle went within the game.
What are the mission types featured in the game?
DH: "D-Day" is based on the historical battles and events that took place between the 6th of June and the 20th of August 1944. Missions range from paratrooper and beach landing missions on D-Day, to defensive and counterattack missions after disembarkation leading finally up to the liberation of Normandy. So we're talking about Pegasus Bridge, St Mere Eglise, Omaha beach, Carentan, Caen, Operations Cobra and BlueCoat, the Mortain counter-attack and the closing of the Falaise Gap, to name but a few.
How does the resource management system work? How are units received and replaced?
DH: In D-Day’s single-player modes you don't need to worry about resources, you can just jump right into the heat of action. In campaign mode you have a default army which you take into battle, but you can replay all missions with units of your choice in campaign mode.
In multiplayer mode you need to hold strategic positions, that give you points, and these points allow you to buy reinforcements.
D-Day is an in-your-face kind of RTS.
Desert Rats vs. Afrika Korps had an interesting turn-based feature that let players make up to three moves in advance. Does D-Day have anything like that?
DH: Yes, D-Day does also combine turn-based elements, players can pause the game at any point in time, issue out orders, then restart the game and see the order carried out. In Desert Rats, players could only schedule three orders per units whereas the number of orders is unlimited in D-Day.
Can you give us an overview of the 60+ units that are featured in the game?
DH: There are actually 75 unique and different units in the game, and this is without counting the different national versions. To give you some examples: you have on the Axis' side (which you can only play in multiplayer mode) the PZ III Flammpanzer, which is a flame-throwing Panzer III with stronger armor; the very fast Panther G and the Marder, and obviously the King Tiger and the Flak 88. On the Allies' side you have for example the Crocodile, which is a flame-thowing variant or the Churchill that is nearly as powerful as a Tiger I, the Sherman Jumbo, the Cromwell IV.
One of the things that makes war games stand is their realistic sound. How is D-Day utilizing this element to make the game more immersive and more realistic?
DH: The game features fully 3D sound. When you zoom in, for example, you hear all the bullets pinging off tanks armor, or the crackling of the hedges burning to the ground as your flame-thrower's flame whooshes out. We've put a great deal of emphasis on getting the sound effects and the music right.
Awesome! What can you tell us about the music of D-Day?
DH: The 30-minute soundtrack was composed by Ervin Nagy and Bafta award winner Tamas Kreiner. We're particularly proud of the participation of Zoltn Orosz, the world-renowned accordeon player (what do you mean you've never heard of him ?). The soundtrack features also orchestral samples from the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra Library.
“In my heart I know I’m a soldier, but I can’t help but question my identity
with this rectangular box hovering over my head.”
D-Day's graphics are stunning. Tell us about the dynamic shadows and lighting and the other effects being added to the game.
DH: All lighting effects in D-Day are dynamic, which means that explosions and weapon effects (firing a weapon, using the flamethrower etc.) light the surrounding areas. Every object (e.g. infantry units, vehicles, buildings, plants etc.) casts a shadow on terrain, on other units or objects near by, and on itself (e.g.: a turret casts a shadow on the tank's body).
Since Desert Rats we've taken the Walker engine a step further, and we've added a number of features that for obvious reasons were not so important in a desert setting, i.e. 3D grass and water. We've also added dynamic fire (i.e. set fire to a hedge and the fire will spread to the vegetation near it) and realistic wire physics (when you cut down a telephone pole the wires flop about realistically).
Give us the goods on the multiplayer mode.
DH: D-Day features 12 multiplayer maps for up to eight players. All maps can all be played in three different game modes: Capture the Flag, Deathmatch, and Conquer. In conquer mode, you can also choose to call reinforcements, which you will have to pay with your mission points. Conquered enemy head quarters will earn you additional mission points.
The MP can be played via Internet and LAN, GameSpy's in-game matchmaking tool has also been integrated. You will be able to play whatever side you want to, and you can even play Axis vs. Axis or Allied/Axis vs. Allied/Axis.
Last but not least, we will deliver an editor for multi-player maps.
Do the online game worlds differ at all from the single-player worlds?
DH: The single player maps are based on real-life battles, and obviously they are not balanced for the multiplayer. So the multiplayer maps are set in the same game world, but their design is considerably more balanced than the single player maps.
Thank you for your time.